Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/485

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STILTS AND STILT-WALKING.

I think that what has been said in regard to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and of the city of London, would prove true of any large commercial or manufacturing center. The encouragement to be drawn from this state of facts is great indeed, and should relieve the popular mind of the constant fear of the increase of the slums of our great cities. I wish that an investigation might be made that would show the exact number, character, and condition of the people living in the slums, and whether the geographical territory inhabited by the slums is being enlarged, or whether the actual number on restricted territory is being increased. Such an investigation, whatever it might show, would be of immense value in the study of urban population.


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STILTS AND STILT-WALKING.

By M. GUYOT-DAUBES.

SYLVAIN DORNON, a stilt-walker of the Landes, left Paris on the 12th of March, 1891, for Moscow, and reached the end of his journey after fifty-eight days of walking. This long walk on stilts was a subject of wonder, not to the Russians only, to whom this method of locomotion was unknown, but to Dornon's own countrymen as well.

Walking on stilts, which was common some twenty years ago in certain parts of France, is gradually going out of use. In the Landes of Gascony it was formerly a means of locomotion well suited to the nature of the country. The Landes were large continuous plains, covered with scrub bushes and scanty heaths; and, in consequence of the impermeability of the subsoil, all the hollows were transformed after a light rain into marshes. There was no road or path. The population, of sheep-farmers, was greatly scattered. The shepherds evidently conceived and adopted stilts in order to be able to move about under these peculiar conditions. The stilts of the Landes are called there tchangues, a word in the patois of the country meaning long legs, and the persons who use them are called tchangués, or long-legged. They are long sticks, which have at the mean height of about five feet from the ground a stirrup to support the foot. The upper part of the stick is shaved flat and supported against the leg, where it is held in place by a strong strap. The lower part, which stands on the ground, is expanded, and is sometimes re-enforced by a sheep-bone. The stiltsman is assisted by a third stick, which serves him for a variety of uses. It supports him in mounting his stilts, and can be used for a crook in driving his sheep; or, with the addition of a piece of board, it forms a comfortable seat fitted to the height