Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/441

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427
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

forms a precipitate of little isolated flakes easily soluble in an excess of gastric juice. It does not load the stomach of the sickly and puny infants, who ought to be spared all possible difficulty in digestion. Mare's milk would be, if it were easy to get, a still better substitute for mother's milk. It has nearly the same composition, and M. Berling, a Russian physician who has tried it, has found in it all the qualities necessary to sustain new-born children.

 

Aborigines of the Isthmus.—Mr. E. G. Barney has given in the "American Antiquarian" an account of the history and present condition of the native races of the United States of Colombia. The territory of that republic, now divided into nine States and six Territories, was inhabited at the time of the discovery and conquest, from 1498 to 1545, by a dense population, which was variously estimated at from eight million to twenty million souls. The inhabitants of the State of Panama were in various stages of advancement, "from dwellers in the tree-tops to a degree of civilization very much superior to that of Britain at the time of the Roman conquest, or indeed at the time the Saxons ruled the island." Columbus in one of his letters speaks of his brother having seen a house devoted to the dead, and containing many well-embalmed bodies, over which were wooden slabs engraved with the figures of various animals, and one bearing a good portrait of the deceased. During a journey in the interior, this brother found a dense population, entirely agricultural, and passed at one place eighteen miles through continued fields of corn. The inhabitants of the coasts and islands wore little clothing, but valuable ornaments of gold, and these appear to have been imported from other states, being bought for gold-dust, dried fish, and products of the soil. Balboa and his forces were entertained in the spacious house of a cacique, in one of the rooms of which were kept the embalmed ancestors of the chief for many generations, and which was surrounded by large grounds with towering palm-trees and gardens and orchards. These people, who appear to have compared favorably with most European nations before the invention of gunpowder, are believed to have been of the same race with the North American Indians, but agricultural in their habits. Their weapons of war were bows and arrows, darts, lances, war-clubs, etc. Their implements of husbandry were stone axes and sharpened sticks hardened in the fire, and their mills were smooth stones, rubbed together with the hand. Their nets for fishing were made of the fibers of the Agave Americana, and their hooks were made from turtle-shells. On the head-waters of some of the tributaries of the Atrato "were found one tribe of very skillful artisans in golden ornaments; another equally skillful in spinning and weaving cotton cloths, nets, hammocks, etc., the former being very tastefully colored; and another tribe adjacent were agriculturists, but showed unusual taste in adorning the surroundings of their homes with gardens, fruit-orchards, etc. One tomb is mentioned as having been artistically constructed, from which the sum of forty thousand dollars was taken by César and his party. . . . These tribes are said to have had adoratorios, and a system of religious belief too variously stated to enable me to form any opinion of its character." In the upper valley of the Cauca, on the slopes and valleys of two immense mountain-ranges, dwelt many tribes, either wholly agriculturists or partly agriculturists and partly fishermen, or manufacturers of salt, golden ornaments, or cotton cloth, etc. Many of the tribes in this valley were considerably advanced in culture; some had the streets of their towns wide and regular; some were manufacturers of cotton goods; one manufactured golden ornaments, and two made salt by boiling down saline waters. It cost much Castilian blood to subdue these people, but, finding that they could not contend against the superior weapons of the Europeans, they generally refused to plant, and in two years the Spaniards were compelled to begin to introduce negroes to till the ground so lately occupied by a happy and contented people. "Along the eastern side of the Gulf of Darien and along the northern slopes of the Abibe, the descendants of the independent tribes, whose poisoned arrows defeated nearly every attempt to penetrate their country, still hold their native land as free from the intruder as when the European