Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/706

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686
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

as Tylor and most of our anthropologists believe, man's first ideas of a spirit world arose from dreams. We know that most of our domestic animals dream, as is proved by their movements while asleep, and the same thing has also been observed in monkeys. The effect of the position of the body during sleep upon the character of our dreams is too well known to require comment, for probably every one of my readers has experienced the very disagreeable results of sleeping on the back.

Now, if the first glimmerings of another world came to early man through dreams, in which he saw his comrades, or enemies, long since dead, reappear just as in life, though mixed up with much that was incongruous and incomprehensible, it would seem as if the period during which man first adopted the dorsal decubitus might have been an epoch-making time in his raw theology.

Devils and devil-worship might easily have originated from a nightmare; and since even dogmas have pedigrees and are subject to the laws of evolution, it is perhaps no very wild suggestion that some of the more somber tenets of our gentle nineteenth-century creeds may owe their embryonic beginnings to the sleeping attitude of some palæolithic divine who had gorged himself in an unwise degree with wild-boar flesh. — Nineteenth Century.


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SKETCH OF WILLIAM FERREL.

By Prof. WILLIAM M. DAVIS.

SIXTY years ago, the study of meteorology gained a notable impetus from the discoveries then recently made concerning the phenomena of storms. The tempestuous winds had been called to order by the investigations of Dové and Redfield, followed by those of Reid, Piddington, and others in the succeeding decades, and even the literary quarterlies contained reviews of books treating revolving gales. But at that time the understanding of the general circulation of the atmosphere about the earth had hardly advanced from its position early in the eighteenth century, when Hadley first and incompletely explained the oblique course of the trade-winds, as a consequence of their motion upon a rotating globe. In the middle of our century, Dové, then the leader of European meteorologists, taught that all our northeast winds were portions of the return current from the poles, whose battling with the equatorial current gave us our alternations of wind and weather in the temperate zone. In this country, the most commonly accepted explanation of atmospheric circulation was derived from Maury's fascinating Physical Geography of the Sea — a book whose erroneous teachings concerning the source