Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/November 1891/Popular Miscellany
|←Publications Received||Popular Science Monthly Volume 40 November 1891 (1891)
Artesian Wells and their Flow. — That part of the definition of an artesian well given by the Department of Agriculture that includes all subterranean waters which, on being reached or opened from above, are found to flow by pressure to a higher level than the point of contact, is accepted by Mr. R. Ellsworth Call, in his preliminary paper on Artesian Wells in Iowa, as complete in itself and as properly defining artesian water. Artesian flows may be variable, that is, may exhibit sometimes increased and at other times decreased flows of water, but the artesian characters are still very marked. Originally all artesian waters are meteoric, that is, are all waters which reach the earth by precipitation as rain. That they shall percolate to lower strata, be included between impervious strata or layers of clay or close-textured rock, is a necessary condition. But the total water thus held in confinement has a definite relation to the catchment basin on the one hand and to the total annual rain-fall on the other. It is easily seen, then, that artesian waters may vary with the season; that in dry seasons, when the wells are shallow, they will soonest show decreased flow; that in a series of years when the precipitation is far below the normal the artesian areas may entirely fail, again to present good wells when the fall of meteoric water reaches the normal or rises above it. Wells may then, in a certain sense, be temporary and still be artesian. In the case of the deep wells, those that lie far below the range of variation from causes connected with the variable factors of annual character that mark shallow wells, artesian flows are apt to be more constant; but even here there are certain variable features which show differences through longer intervals of time. No artesian basin exists anywhere, but it will be found necessary, sooner or later, to control, by mechanical means, the total flow or "output" of the several wells. The waters are bound to be exhausted in the long run if there be no well-planned governing relation between the consumption and the known sources of supply. The deepest and the largest flowing wells will sometimes be taxed beyond their "life," and then, for a time at least, they must be allowed to rest. No owner of artesian wells in the glacial districts, where the wells are shallow, can afford to allow his well to flow and the water to be wasted.
Different Effects of Denudation. — Describing the old, or abandoned, fields of the south. Prof. W J McGee spoke, in the American Association, of the different aspects presented by the results of denudation according to the situations of the fields. When the tracts are low or gently undulating, they are quickly clothed with vegetation; but when they are hilly and high, the ravines or deepened gullies invade the hill slopes and uplands, until in some cases the entire soil is washed away and the verdure-clothed surface is transformed into a glaring sand, while the bottom lands, once the most fertile of cotton fields, are clogged with the sand swept from the hills until they, too, are ruined for agriculture. The reasons for this accelerated denudation may be sought for in the relations which geologists have found to exist between the elevation and the configuration of lands, their climatal conditions, and the character of their vegetation. An area standing high above the base level for a considerable period assumes a rugose configuration. There is also a configurative characteristic of the prairie and another characteristic of the woodland, the latter being more rugose; and the geologist trained in this line of investigation can discriminate at a glance between the lands cleared of forests by human agency and those that are naturally grass-covered. The configuration of Mississippi and other parts of the southern United States indicates considerable altitude above base-level and an originally forest-covered condition. The surface slopes are too steep to withstand the action of. the storms and streams when the forest covering is removed. It is true that 136
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��during the palmy days of the plantations the fields were not eroded, but that was because of the constant use of concentric cultivation, hillside ditches, balks, and other protective devices; but when the fields were abandoned the waters gathered on the hillsides, ran down the slopes, and quickly destroyed the surface. In many cases the destruction has gone so far that to check it would cost more than the value of the land ; but when not too far ad- vanced it may be checked by planting Ber- muda grass on the steep slopes and locust trees about the heads of the gullies, and by other preventive measures.
The Travels of Weeds.— The term " weed " is a relative one, and, as defined by Prof. Byron D. Halsted, means "only plants that are able to assert their inborn rights above all others and wage a close warfare with man for the possession of the earth. There is nothing in structure, form, ; or substance that distinguishes a weed from other plants. It hrcs, grows, and reproduces its kind like all others of its class, and therefore the methods of migration are the same as obtain with those of its kin. The rapidity may be greater because of the dominant weed nature, but the difference is only in degree and not in kind." A large number of our worst weeds came to us from foreign countries ; just how they emigrated will never be known in every case. " Some came as legitimate freight ; many were stowaways. Some entered from border lands upon the wings of the wind, upon river bosoms, in the stomachs of migrating birds, clinging to the hair of passing ani- mals, and a hundred other ways, besides by man himself. Into the New England soil and south along the Atlantic seaboard the weed seeds first took root. Also, there are wild plants of that region, with a strong weedy nature, developed into pests of the farm and garden. As civilized man moved westward the weeds followed him, rem- forced by new native ones that soon vied with those of foreign blood. Not satisfied with this, the natives of the interior ran back upon the trail and became new ene- mies to the older parts of our land. The conditions for the development of weeds have increased with the development of our country, until now we are literally overrun.
��Weeds, usually as weeds, go and come in all directions, no less as tramps catching a ride upon each passing freight train than in cherished bouquets gathered by the wayside and tenderly cared for by transcontinental tourists in parlor cars."
The Scharf Library of Johns Hopkins.—
The library presented by Colonel J. Thomas Scharf to Johns Hopkins University includes books, pamphlets of great value, and several hundred unpublished manuscripts. Most of the works are historical. The manuscripts include ten by James D. McCabe, formerly of the Confederate War Department ; many on revolutionary history, and a large number of a miscellaneous character. Other depart- ments consist of a collection of materials for the history of New York city and vicinity ; a collection on early Missouri history ; the most valuable of Thompson Westcott's books on Pennsylvania ; materials on almost every phase of Maryland history, and more varied and complete materials for the history of Baltimore ; a rich mass of documents on southern history, and covering the whole pe- riod of the rebellion ; about three thousand " broadsides," covering many departments of Revolutionary history, and including speci- mens of almost every one written or printed in Maryland during the last and the early part of the present century ; Confederate and Revolutionai-y autographs, with the letters to which they are attached, some of them inter- esting in themselves ; and various miscellane- ous articles.
Japanese Playing-cards.-^-The Japanese playing-cards are more distinctly original, according to Mrs. J. King Van Rensselaer, than any others, and show no marks of com- mon origin with them. They are oblong, and are made of pasteboard, with the backs painted black. The designs seem to be stenciled, and are brightly and appropriately colored and then covered with an enamel or varnish, which makes them slippery. They are much smaller than our cards. Forty- nine in number, they are divided into twelve suits of four cards in each suit. One card is a trifle smaller than the rest of the pack, and has a plain white face, not embellished with any distinctive emblem, and is used as a " joker." The other cards are covered
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��with designs that represent twelve flowers or other things appropriate to the months of the year. Each card is distinct and dif- ferent from its fellows, even though it bears the same emblem; and they can be easily distinguished and classified, even if they bear the same emblem, by the symbolic flowers they bear, and also by a character or letter that marks nearly every card, and seems to denote the plant that represents the month. The only month that has no floral emblem is August, and that suit is marked by mountains and warm-looking skies.
The Monkey Language. — The results of experiments in the language of monkeys are published by Prof Garner in the New Re- view. Most of them were made in the United States. He had long believed, he says, that each sound uttered by an animal had a meaning which any other animal of the same kind would interpret at once ; and had observed, as most of us have done, that animals soon learn to interpret certain words of man and to obey them, but never try to repeat them. When they reply to man it is in their own peculiar speech. The author began his studies by visiting the zoo- logical gardens of the United States and watching and listening to the monkeys in their prattle. By permission of Dr. Frank Baker, of the National Zoological Garden, two monkeys which had been caged together were separated and placed in different rooms. A phonograph was arranged near the cage of the female, into which she was made to speak. It was then made to re- peat her " words " near the cage of the male. His surprise and perplexity " were evident. He traced the sounds to the horn from which they came, and, failing to find his mate, he thrust his hand and arm into the horn quite up to the shoulder, withdrew it, and peeped into the horn again and again. He would then retreat and again cautiously ' approach the horn, which he examined with evident interest. The expressions of his face were indeed a study." This satisfied Prof. Garner that the monkey recognized the sounds as those of his mate. He then managed to get some sounds from him which the mate in her turn recognized. The ne.'ct recorded interviews were with two
��chimpanzees, from which a fine, distinct record was secured, and with a capuchin monkey in the Cincinnati garden. The au- thor spoke to the monkey in his own tongue, using the word supposed to stand for milk. The monkey " rose, answered me with the same word, and came at once to the front of his cage. He looked at me as if in doubt, and I repeated the word ; he did the same, and turned at once to a small pan in the cage, which he picked up and placed near the door at the side, and returned to me and uttered the word again. I asked the keeper for some milk, which he did not have, how- ever, but brought me some water. The ef- forts of my little simian friend to secure the glass were very earnest, and the plead- ing manner and tone assured me of his ex- treme thirst. I allowed him to dip his hand into the glass, and he would suck his fingers and reach again. I kept the glass from reach of his hand, and he would re- peat the sound and beg for more. I was thus convinced that the word I had trans- lated milk must also mean water, and from this and other tests I at last determined that it meant also drink and probably thirst. I have never seen a capuchin who did not use these two words. The sounds are very soft and not unlike a flute, very difficult to imitate, and quite impossible to write." Other sounds were detected for solid food or the hunger for it, pain and sickness, and for alarm. On the utterance of the last, the monkey sprang to the high- est point in his cage, and on repetitions of it became almost frantic with dread — so that the sound for food would for the time have no inducements for him. These sounds Prof. Garner regards as the constituents of a monkey language which has a variety of dialects, according to the species addressed.
Famous Japanese Swords.— A Japanese short sword exhibited by Mr. Inman Homer before the Numismatic and Antiquarian So- ciety of Philadelphia is distinguished by an inscription on the blade. Mr. Benjamin Smith Lyman said that this inscription was in Japanese characters, and appeared to be the name of the sword. " It is not usual," he said, " for swords to have a name in Japan, but it is sometimes the case, as in Europe. Two famous swords are recorded
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��in Japanese history — one, called Hizamane (the knee-sword), from its being tried upon a convict, and at one stroke severing the knee as well as the neck ; and another, called Higekiri (beard-cutting), from its cutting through the beard when similarly tried. Another sword is mentioned in the cele- brated romance of the memoirs of the Eight Dogs of Satonu and called Murasame (Au- tumn Showers), because it had the magical property of shedding water that kept it free from blood. The sword now exhibited is inscribed with Osoraku, which appears to mean 'fearful,' so the sword probably bore the not inappropriate name of ' The Fearful.' Being a short sword, it has no guard, as the short sword was sometimes worn beneath the robe, where a guard ■would be in the way. Long swords usually have an inscription under the wooden han- dle, giving the name of the maker and the date. This bears none, but the maker's name is found upon the blade of the small knife inserted into the same scabbard, which is inscribed Morju Shiro Kanekiyo. Ka- nenga was the name of a famous sword- maker, some of whose works are dated from 1321-1323 A. D. A successor of his was Kaneyoshi (1492-1500), and from certain parallel inclined lines which Kaneyoshi used as a distinguishing mark, and found on the part of the present sword concealed by the handle, it seems probable that the maker, Kanekiyo, was a pupil of his, or a not very distant successor, making the sword, therefore, probably over three hun- dred and fifty years old."
A Chinese View of it.— The Chinese lit- erati have now come to the conclusion, ac- cording to the North China PIcrald, of Shang- hai, that "Western science has been built up from the leaking out of the knowledge pos- sessed by their ancestors to Western men, who cultivated it, improved upon it, and de- veloped it. Hence they argue in favor of accepting foreign science and inventions in China, saying : " We wish to make use of the knowledge of Western men, because we know that what they have attained in science and invention has been through the help that our sages gave them. We have a good right to it. What Europe has done she has done through the help we gave. If wc did not
��exactly give science to Europe, we gave it the fruitful germ which produced it. They have the science of optics, but in our Motsz we find that reflection from mirrors was known in the days of Mencius. The men of the West hold that the earth is round. This was believed also by our poet Chii Yuen, who, in his ode on astronomy, announces this doctrine ; and this was not many years after Mencius. This being so, we ought not to be ashamed of the study of Western science. We are the rivals of the Western kingdoms, and it is good policy to use their spears in order to pierce their shields. We ought to train our youth in Western science, so that we may know how best to meet them in the struggle to resist their encroachments."
The Birds of the Fame Islands.— The
Fame or Fearne Islands of the coast of Northumberland, England, famous by associ- ation with Grace Darling, " the wrecker's daughter," are more noted as the home of countless sea birds which resort there to nest and rear their young. The variety of their features of " cliffs, stacks, and crags, rabbit-warrens and land thickly covered with vegetation, rocks, and sloping beach," admirably adapts them for this purpose. They arc not inhabited, except by the light- house keepers and their families, so that the birds and the rabbits have them all substantially to themselves. They are at- tractive spots to visit, and this is best done in the second week in June, when the breeding season of the birds is at its height ; in addition to the eggs, which are practically countless, the visitor then has the pleasure of seeing many newly hatched birds. As " the Pinnacles " of the islands are ap- proached, the guillemots are seen occupying in thousands the flat tops, sitting on end, and packed so closely together that to all appearance there is not room for another ; " indeed, so dense are the masses, that one can not help wondering how each individual bird can recognize its own egg — for the guillemot lays but one — or, having left it, can force its way back to it again when it has recognized it, more especially as the eggs are placed on the bare rock, without the faintest vestige of a nest. They are pear-shaped, very large for the size of the birds, and the color and markings vary in
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��different specimens in a most extraordinary manner." Nearly every shelf or projection cf the rock, both in the Pinnacles and in the rest of the islands, is occupied by the kittiwakes, whose well-built nests, with their spotted, brown eggs or speckled, downy young, can be easily seen from the tops of the cliffs. " Walking about," says a writer in the Saturday Review, " it is hard to avoid treading on the gulls' eggs, which are placed in rather loosely made nests among the coarse herbage or on the rocks them- selves. As the center of the island is reached it is easy to see the nests of the cormorants, which are large, slovenly con- structions, composed principally of sea-weed, mixed with pieces of drift-wood, corks off fishing-nets, and other such flotsam and jetsam, the whole covered and made filthy both to sight and smell by the droppings of the birds and remnants of fish. The eggs, which are bluish-green in ground color, are covered with a white, calcareous matter ; but, except where freshly laid, look as dirty as the nests. ... In a comfortable hol- low between two rocks we find the nest of an eider duck, and then, within a very short distance, one or two more. These nests are most cozily lined with the brown down which the bird picks from her breast from time to time during the process of incuba- tion, and in which the large, greenish-gray eggs, from five to eight in number, are al- most covered." These birds are very tame and approachable. The light and peaty soil of the interior of the island is full of bur- rows, which are divided between numberless puffins and a few rabbits. " Many of the puf- fins, curious, pompous-looking little fellows, with large, brightly colored bills, may be seen sitting about on the rocks or flying and swimming round the island, while their part- ners are below the ground, sitting each on the solitary egg which she has laid at the end of the burrow. In the campion-covered centers of the islands the terns are num- berless, and the beach down to high-water mark is covered with their eggs, so that very great care has to be used in walking to avoid treading on them. They are also to be found in large numbers among the sea campion ; many are laid on the shingle with little if any pretense of a nest ; while others have slight nests, made of bents and
��pieces of sea-weed. The list of birds breed- ing on the Fame Islands includes twelve species, and others may be occasionally seen there as visitors. The birds and eggs, which had been exposed to danger of destruction and extermination, have had their existence more and more secured under the wild birds' protection acts passed since 1869 ; and in 1888 an association of gentlemen in- terested in ornithology was formed, which has secured a lease of the islands, keeps in- truders off, and takes care of the birds.
Wild Life in the Snow. — Snow, remarks in the London Spectator an observer of wild life, generally catches our animals un- prepared, and they are put to all kinds of shifts to find food and escape their enemies. The more open and exposed the districts, the greater their difficulties. Where there are thick woods and hedgerows, and, above all, running water, birds and beasts alike can find dry earth in which to peck and scratch, or green things to nibble and water to drink. But on the great chalk downs a snow-storm seems to drive from the open country every living creature that dares to move at all. For the first day after a heavy fall, the hares, which allow the snow to cover them, all but a tiny hole made by their warm breath, do not stir ; only toward noon, if the sun shines out, they make a small opening to face its beams, and per- haps another in the afternoon, at a differ- ent angle to the surface, to catch the last slanting rays. But soon hunger forces the hares to leave their snug snow-house, and they find their way to the cabbage or tur- nip gardens. Squirrels, which are often sup- posed to hibernate, retire to their nests only in very severe and prolonged frosts. A slight fall of snow only amuses them, and they will come down from their trees and scamper over the powdery heaps with im- mense enjoyment ; what they do not like is the snow on the leaves and branches, which falls in showers as they jump from tree to tree, and betrays them to their enemies, the country boys. During a mild winter they even neglect to make a central store of nuts, and, instead of depositing them in big hoards near the nest, just drop them into any con- venient hole they know of near. Rabbits also seem to enjoy the snow at first. They
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��require a dry, bracing atmosphere, and sea- breezes and frosts suit them ; and in the morning after a snow-fall their tracks show- where they have been scratching and play- ing in it all night. But after a deep fall they are soon in danger of starving. If there is a tucnip-field near, they will scratch away the snow at the roots and soon destroy the crop ; if not, or if the surface of the snow is frozen hard, they strip the bark from the trees and bushes. While all the harmless ani- mals are obliged to spend the greater part of the day and night seeking food, their enemies profit exceedingly. The stoats and weasels find that they have only to prowl down the stream-side to catch any number of thrushes and soft-billed birds which crowd the banks where the water melts the snow, and little piles of feathers and a drop or two of red on the snow show where the fierce little beasts have murdered here a redwing and there a water wagtail, or even a water-hen. Water-shrews, water-rats, and otters all dislike frost and snow, more, perhaps, be- cause the streams are frozen and food is more difficult to obtain along the banks, than from any inconvenience the snow causes them. Otters, even if the rivers do not freeze, have a difficulty in finding the fish, which in cold weather sink into the deepest pools, and in case of some species burrow in the mud. So they go down to the sea-coast for the cold weather, and, making their homes in the coast caves or old wooden jetties and wharves, live on the fish of the estuaries. Rats also often emi- grate to the coast in snow-time and pick up a disreputable livelihood among the rubbish of the shore. Of all effects of weather, snow makes the greatest change in animal economy in the country- side, and weeks often pass before the old order is restored.
Where Women rule. — At the opening of a paper on the political domination of wom- en in Eastern Asia, Dr. Macgowan refers to the condition of the aboriginal peoples whom the Chinese found on Yellow River on their arrival from Akkad. The Chinese then possessed the rudiments of civilization, of which the aboriginals were then destitute. That this irruption of the Chinese was ante- rior to the invention of cuneiform writing in Akkad was probable, because of their use of
��quipos or knotted cords in keeping records. These quipos, the author said, and not mere tradition, were the base of Chinese archaic annals, and from them the earliest form of Chinese written characters was evolved. Anterior to these quipos, judging from certain neighboring tribes, notched sticks were employed. As to the tribes which the Chinese found existing when they reached their future home, the philosopher of Universal Love, Motzu, enunciated views on the evolution of the state and family which are in accord with those of modern anthropologists. Men at first were in the lowest state of savagery ; there was no golden age, as depicted by sages and politi- cal philosophers, until men felt a necessity of a I'emedy for the anarchy that prevailed. Some of the practices of self-deformation were remarkably curious — as, for instance, those of drinking through the nostrils, ex- tracting front teeth and substituting dogs' teeth, head-flattening, etc. ; the most striking was the attempt to raise a polydactylous race, by destroying all children who came mto the world with the usual number of fingers and toes. The author described a number of instances of rule by Amazons, and ob- served that it is mostly among the aboriginal inhabitants that the chieftaincy of women obtains to this day. There is seldom an age of which one tribe or another does not afford examples ; the more primitive the condition of these tribes the slighter is sexual differentiation as regards public gov- ernmental affairs. The fables and myths in Greece respecting Indo-Scythian Amazons arose chiefly from rumors respecting tribes of this kind.
The Tonrouks. — The Yourouks of Asia Minor, according to a paper by Mr. 11. Theo- dore Bent in the British Association, are a fair race of nomads of Tartar origin, from the north of Persia. They wander on regu- lar lines of pasturage, live in goat's-hair tents, occasionally showing a tendency to sedentary life, and build miserable hovels out of the ruins of the cities. The Yourouk has very little religion, and refuses to adopt the measures desired by the Turkish Gov- ernment. The people have sacred trees hung with rags, say prayers over their dead, and practice circumcision, but do not carry out
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��the elaborate svstem of prayers and washing inculcated by the Koran. They are polyg- amous, and have wives, or rather slaves, each having her separate occupation in the family life — one minding camels, another the flocks, another the tent arrangements, etc. They have regular communication with the outer ■world. Greeks from the towns lend money to start them in flocks by what is called an " immortal contract." Merchants for wool and cattle pay regular visits to the different encampments. Tinkers, the public circum- ciser, and other periodical visitors go among them spring, summer, and winter. Their utensils are principally of wood — wooden mortars, wooden gloves for reaping, wooden musical instruments, etc., are used. They are clever at getting food from mountain plants and herbs. An excellent substitute for cofiee is produced by a species of thistle ; and a sweet, somewhat like chocolate cream, is made out of the cone of a juniper tree. Formerly they were very clever in making dyes from mountain herbs, but the introduc- tion of aniline dyes has greatly destroyed their taste.
Animals in the Desert of Gobi. — In re- spect to its fauna, the Desert of Gobi con- stitutes a zoological district by itself, with- out its animal world being rich in species. Animals may be found in considerable groups in certain places, as in the mountains and along the rivers and lakes, but they are com- paratively rare in the desert itself, where one meets hardly anj-thing but innumerable hz- ards gliding under his feet- Birds as well as quadrupeds lead a nomadic life, being forced to seek food at places a considerable distance apart. The animals of the desert are, however, not very particular, especially with respect to drink, and some of the small mammals probably do not drink, but satisfy themselves with succulent plants, or the lit- tle snow that falls in winter. Among the mammals the wild horse and camel and the argali sheep are worthy of mention. Preje- valsky discovered in Zungaria the horse which has been called by his name, the Kirghiz kantaff, the Mongol make. It lives in the most inhospitable regions, in groups of five or six individuals. While the existence of a wild horse in central Asia was unknown till the present time, it has been understood
��from the days of Marco Polo that a wild camel lived there ; but none of the authors who have mentioned it, on the authority of the Chinese, had ever seen it, and its exist- ence was doubted by Cuvicr It also was seen by the Russian explorer in the neigh- borhood of Lake Lob and the Desert of Zun- garia. The camel prefers sandy spots more or less inaccessible to man. It spreads over a considerably larger area than the wild horse ; for, while the latter is cantoned in a single locality of Zungaria, it inhabits the lower Tarrin, the country of Lake Lob, Kha- mi, and the Thibetan Desert of Zaidam. Prejevalsky calls this animal the wild Bac- trian camel. While the domestic camel is usually timid, stupid, and indolent, the Gobi camel is distinguished by its vigilance and the extraordinary development of its senses of sight, hearing, and smell. It can run a hundred kilometres without stopping a mo- ment, and can climb mountains with an agil- ity comparable to that of the chamois. Its voice is rarely heard, but is more like that of the bull than that of the domestic camel. The argali sheep is common in the mount- ainous parts of the Gobi, whence it descends in the spring to feed on the herbage. It ad- heres to the places it has once chosen, and a mountain spur is often the permanent abode of a whole flock. As it is not troubled by the natives, it has not yet become afraid of man, and passes indifferently by the Mongol camps on its way to water. Among the car- nivorous animals of the Gobi are the tiger and the wolf, but the bear has not been seen there, although it is found in the Thian Shan Mountains.
Stolidness of Eskimos. — One of the most remarkable peculiarities of the Eskimos of Cape Prince of Wales, as described by Mr. n. r. Payne, of the Meteorological Office, Toronto, is their sensitiveness to ridicule. It is necessary to put on the gravest expres- sion in dealing with them, else they will refuse to work for or with you, and sulk. While, as a rule, the Eskimo looks upon the white man as born to do him favors, those the author met would sometimes offer pay- ment for their services. If an Eskimo was given an unusually valuable present, he would immediately turn round and ask for the most impossible things, as though he thought
�� � you were now in a good humor and it was the time to get all he could from you. As far as it could be seen, it appeared to be the general belief that all property, especially in the way of food, belonged to everybody in common, and therefore, if you held more than another, it was only because you and your family were physically strong enough to protect it. Few men would, of course, steal from one another when food was plentiful, and thereby make enemies for themselves; "but when food is scarce, might is right," and all make note of the position of their neighbors' caches before the winter snow covers them. The Eskimos are exceedingly free, and never consider a man their superior unless he or his family are physically stronger or are better hunters than they. These superior men are treated with little deference, though they are usually sought for in the settlement of difficulties, and act as public executioners.
Central Asian Phenomena. — M. Gabriel Bonvaldt and the Prince Henri of Orleans were received by the Geographical Society of Paris on the last day of January, on the occasion of their return from a journey through the heart of central Asia from the frontiers of Russian Turkistan to Tonquin. They claim to have discovered ranges of mountains, lakes, extinct volcanoes, geysers, and a pass at a height of 6,000 metres, never before explored. Yaks, antelopes, wild horses, and other animals were numerous below 5,000 metres, but birds had disappeared, and there was no vegetation. The travelers and their men and animals suffered greatly from "mountain-sickness." The party went by what is called "the little road" from Thibet to China, which they believed had never been explored. They found well-wooded valleys full of game — meeting twenty-one bears in three days — and often well cultivated and studded with villages; and they crossed the upper waters of several of the rivers of eastern Asia, including, as they supposed, the Yang-tse-kiang. Among the more important features of the country was a hitherto unknown volcanic region. Two isolated volcanoes were named the Pic de Paris and Mont Réclus. A group of other volcanoes gave them reminders of the craters of Auvergne, appearing like tunnels with a small cone in the center. Lava-blocks were numerous, some of them being two cubic metres in dimension. From a distance they might have been taken for yaks. Hot sulphur springs and frozen geysers were numerous. Many minerals were found, including iron and lead. Curious gray monkeys with long hair and short tails were found living among the rocks at the foot of Mont Duplex, but nowhere else.
The Future of the Lobster-fishery. — The experiments begun a few years ago for improving the lobster and cod fisheries of the coasts of Newfoundland promise to be successful. Besides 15,000,000 lobsters hatched and placed in the waters at the Dildo hatchery, 432 floating incubators have been established, at which more than 390,000 lobsters have been hatched. All these would have been lost except for these operations. Lobsters arrive at maturity in five years; and if the useful work now going on is continued year after year, it is evident that the threatened destruction of the lobster can be averted, and the stock in the waters maintained and extended. The cod-hatchery has not been quite so successful, but still the results have been very satisfactory. Fishermen in the neighborhood of Trinity Bay are said to have recently observed large shoals of small cod, which they have not noticed before, from one to two inches long; and this, it is claimed, would be the present size of the fry placed in the waters in June and July last.