Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/444

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

guarded against, and cross-questioned, and watched; and, as he seldom insures in complete free-will, but is compelled by his relatives, or his wife's relatives, or his creditors, he is unusually and unduly affected by his treatment." The minuteness of the medical inquiry required as a preliminary to insurance operates as a deterrent. The candidate does not like to have symptoms discovered by an over-zealous examiner which are invisible to laymen, and even to himself; "to have all his weak places found out; to stand a cross-examination from a man he did not select, and regards, for the moment, as an enemy, as to his habits of life; or to run the risk of the shock involved in a rejection, for reasons left unexplained." Insurance is a business in which a much slighter annoyance than this will turn a waverer, and induce him to resolve that he will save his money to himself. The value of the inquiry is, moreover, vastly overrated. The physician may be able to decide upon the candidate's bodily condition at the moment, but he can not decide what it will be three months hence, nor estimate "that quality of vitality which, and not health, is the question for the insurance-office." Persons who seem almost at the point of death frequently live for years; while those who appear most vigorous are as subject as any to quick death from fever. Persons also hesitate to insure because they can never understand the financial condition of the company, or satisfy themselves that they can get back the money they pay in premiums. More clear statements of accounts would commend the offices to a degree of confidence they do not now enjoy; and a provision by which the loss of premiums already paid in, in case of default, would be obviated, would go far toward strengthening the courage of the weak, and toward meeting the secret apprehension of the intending insurer that he might not be able to keep up his insurance.

 

Coeval Grades of Civilization.—A writer in "Blackwood's Magazine" has found, in the Island of Coll, of the Hebrides, evidence of the co-existence of widely removed degrees of civilization at an extremely remote antiquity. The storm of December, 1879, which caused the destruction of the Tay Bridge, also effected the removal of a few inches of sand from the bottom of a deep sand-valley near the castle, and exposed a number of old dwellings and human remains. Among the remains were kitchen-middens like those of Denmark, composed of littoral shells; bones and teeth of wild and domestic animals, split up for the sake of their marrow; chips of flint, all unpolished or palæolithic; and many fragments of rude, unglazed pottery. Along with these, in one of the heaps, were two curious bronze implements or ornaments, one of them a rich penannular brooch, of considerable beauty and finish, jeweled in twelve holes, and bearing distinct traces of having been gilt. The other ornament was a bronze pin, which had apparently been molded. Here, then, "at the most remote point of the prehistoric life of Coll to which we can reach, we find man, if a savage, still a person of taste, who could appreciate high art, and knew how to supply the wants of the dandy." These people carried on a commerce, for they had flints, which are not found in Coll, or anywhere near it, and were acquainted with the art of sailing, for their flints must have been brought from the south of England. The antiquity of the remains is estimated from their geological situation. They lie in the bottom of a shifting-sand valley, with large masses of sand around them, in a situation where no man would have ventured to settle if the sand had then been in the neighborhood to anything like the extent it is now. The sand is the result of the disintegration of the shells of snails which live on the island, and must, the most of it, have accumulated since the village was occupied. A palæolithic age and a considerable degree of civilization were coeval then in the Hebrides, and they are coeval there now. At Tiree, which is separated from Coll by a channel only two miles wide, craggans and other articles of pottery, exactly similar to these palæolithic ones of Coll, are manufactured and used at this day. "The old woman of Tiree, in this very year, takes the brown, stiff clay at her cabin-door, picks the pebbles out of it, pounds it down and softens it with a rude wooden mallet, molds it into shape with her rough, horny hands, and, without the aid of a potter's wheel, ornaments it, after a time-hon-