Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/589

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571
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

sarily confined to the molting periods, the stages of growth coincide with the stages of change in organization, and there is none of the indefiniteness which often characterizes the different larval stages of animals with a more continuous metomorphosis. On the contrary, the nature of each change is as sharply defined and as characteristic as the structure of the adult itself. As the molting period is frequently a time of inactivity, the animal may then undergo profound changes without inconvenience, and the successive steps in the metamorphosis of an arthropod are not only well marked but often very profound as well.

 

The Bantu.—More than thirty-five years have elapsed since the term Bantu has been applied to a large and widespread family of African languages; but it is little known except to specialists. There is no Bantu country, no nation of that name; the word has become an ethnographical but hardly a geographical expression. And yet, after a little explanation, says The Athenæum, it will be found so pregnant of meaning, so expressive of the hundred and more languages to which it applies, that it is not likely ever to be superseded. Bantu is the plural of mu-ntu, the general term for a human being common, with hardly any modification, to the languages spoken throughout South Africa, "from the Keiskamma River to the equator on the east, and from Walfish Bay to the Old Kalabar River on the fifth parallel of north latitude in the west"—that is, to the whole of the southern half of that vast continent, with the sole exception of the territories occupied by the Hottentot and Bushman tribes. The term Bantu, it should be added, is mainly used by the natives when speaking of themselves in contradistinction to white people. One of the various characteristics of these languages is to mark the grammatical categories almost exclusively by prefixes; and another to regulate the building up of sentences by certain laws of alliteration, the so-called "concords." It is, moreover, a remarkable fact that there is common to all these languages a great resemblance, not only of grammatical forms, but also of words, and, to a certain extent, of idioms, so that it is in some cases difficult to decide whether any two languages, though separated by wide tracts of country, do not actually stand in the relation of mere dialets. Indeed, as to closeness of kinship, the Bantu languages can far more fitly be compared to the Neo Latin or Slavonic than to the Indo-European languages. There are on the northwestern confines of the Bantu field, and beyond, a number of languages somewhat akin to the Bantu, to which Mr. Torrend, in his Comparative Grammar of the South African Bantu Languages, assigns the name of semi-Bantu. They stand in the same relation to the Bantu as the Melanesian languages do to the Malayo-Polynesian.

 

Intemperance in Cycling.—Noticing some recent extraordinary achievements in cycling—such as the conveyance of a dispatch from Chicago to New York in one hundred and eight hours and the covering of four hundred and thirteen miles in twenty-four hours—The Lancet inquires into the cost of such exploits, and answers: "The cost to the rider is, we say at once, altogether unwarrantable, for during the twenty-four hours in which a rider is occupied in covering four hundred miles his heart knows no rest from full activity, and the elastic coat of every artery in his body is in full tension. In some instances such is the tension that the man literally propels himself in what may be called blindness. His legs work automatically and his course is directed in a manner very little different. When a bicyclist was unfortunately killed from an accident caused by fast riding, a witness said, on oath, that the rider was going so fast and was so intent on the race he did not hear witness until it was too late, that is to say, until he got within two yards of a cart into which he ran, when he altered his whole position, called out 'Oh!' and coming into collision received the fatal injury. In another instance, where one of the long and sleepless rides was carried out, the rider was seized with vomiting, which never ceased during the whole of the effort. He, too, lost the guiding power of his senses, and for some miles tugged on as if he were blind, tearing away, in fact, in a kind of trance, his higher nervous centers paralyzed and his body retaining its life and mere animal power, held living by the respiratory center and the heart, they also being taxed to the very extremity of danger." Young men may occasionally do