Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/737

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717
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

that a very little patience, and a very little practice, would soon make most men give up their dread of thinking, and would make an hour spent without books or talk a pleasure instead of a pain. No doubt this is not true of all men. There are certain persons cursed with a constitutional melancholy so deep that it is impossible for them to think cheerfully. . . . These, however, are the abnormal cases. The ordinary man at ordinary times has no real reason for dreading his thoughts. It is merely want of habit that makes him dislike thinking. Let him make the plunge, and select something definite to think about, and ten to one he will find following a train of thought a very agreeable exercise. Letting the mind veer backward and forward like a weathercock, at the suggestion of this or that external circumstance, is, of course, dull and worrying; but the man who knows how to think does not do that. He thinks, as he reads, with a definite purpose." The writer concludes by observing that "the man who trains his mental powers by meditation and by following out lines of thought, obtains an intellectual instrument a hundred times more powerful than he who is content never to think seriously and consecutively. The things one merely reads about never stick. Those on which one thinks become permanent acquisitions. Hence, the man who is never afraid of thinking, and who does not dread 'that cursed hour in the dark,' is at a distinct advantage on every ground. He passes the time without being bored, and he strengthens his mind. . . . The man who can enjoy and make use of his own thoughts has a heritage which can never be alienated. Even blindness for him loses some of its terrors."

 

The World's Mineral Industries.—The reviews of the mineral industry, published yearly in a statistical supplement of the Engineering and Mining Journal, have been rising every year to increased value and importance. The publishers of the journal have decided to issue those for the last year in a large octavo volume, under the title of the Mineral Industry, its Statistics, Technology, and Trade, both in the United States and Foreign Countries, from the Earliest Times to the Close of 1892. It will treat the substances which are the objects of mining for profit, from scientific, technological, and economical points of view, describing the modes of occurrence of the minerals, their exploitation and preparation for the market, and the statistics of the trade in them.

 

The Material of Folk Lore.—Mr. George Laurence Gomme maintains, in his Ethnology in Folk Lore, that the constituent elements of folk lore—consisting as they do of beliefs, customs, and traditions that are far behind civilization in their intrinsic value to man, though they exist under cover of a civilized nationality—must in general be traceable to the survival of a condition of human thought more backward, and therefore more ancient, than that in which they are discovered, and which may, therefore, conveniently be called with reference to it a condition of uncivilization. It follows that, as an element of uncivilization, existing side by side with civilization, its development must have been arrested at the point where the civilization began. It may have experienced modification, and, indeed, in most cases has been largely modified; but that modification has tended rather to its extinction than to its development upon the lines upon which it was proceeding at the time the arrestment took place. Ascertain the point of arrestment, which may in general be expected to coincide with the appearance on the scene of a race of people to whom the belief or custom or tradition is strange or unknown, and you may reasonably attribute it to the pre-existing people whom they displaced or subdued. When, therefore, savage or rude customs are stated to have existed in Rome or Greece, or the German or Celtic countries of modern Europe, it is not to be assumed, as it has hitherto been, that they are of Roman, Greek, German, or Celtic origin; but it is to be ascertained whether they embody an idea the development of which was arrested by those civilizations, and if so, they must be referred to an antecedent race of relative uncivilization. Mr. Gomme adduces in support of this conclusion the annual ceremonies connected with the worship of the village goddess in southern India. On this sole occasion in the year it is the outcast pariah, the descendant of the aboriginal race, who is the officiating priest. The goddess is generally adored in the form of an unshapen stone. Bloody ani-