Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/147

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intelligent, poor scholars, in right to left, or centripetal motions. Idiots can hardly strike with the back of the hand, and are not at ease in lateral movements. In a psychological respect, centripetal gestures denote primitive, egoistic, retrograde ideas, as is seen in the attitude of the miser holding his treasure, and of the coward in the presence of danger. Centrifugal gestures express generous, expansive, altruistic, brave ideas and passions. The gesture of acclamation or applause, for example, is as elevated, as outward, as centrifugal, as possible. "Pleasure," says M. Charles Richet, "corresponds with a movement of blooming, of dilatation, of extension. In grief, on the other hand, we shrink, we withdraw upon ourselves in a general movement of flexion." Thus, in the psychological as well as in other points of view, centripetal gestures mark inferiority, centrifugal ones superiority.


Ancient Love of Honey.—The bodies of Alexander the Great and of the Spartan King Agesipolis were preserved in honey. The ancient Assyrians also used the same substance for embalming. Its preservative effects are, however, only temporary, for, although it prevents the entrance of the germs of decay for a time, it is itself ultimately overtaken by decay, and the bodies it covers must follow it. The ancient use of honey for food was much more important than its application to purposes of embalming. The Greek mythology attributes its origin to Jupiter, who in his youth was fed by goats with milk and by bees with honey. He adopted ambrosia, a compound of milk and honey, to be the food of the gods, and, taking care that the earth should be supplied, caused it to fall as a dew from the sky, and taught the bees to make cells of wax and store honey in them. Aristotle said that honey fell from the air at the rising of the stars and whenever there was a rainbow; Pliny, that it comes out of the air at about daybreak; whence, he adds, "we find the leaves bedewed with honey when the morning twilight appears, and persons in the open air may feel it in their clothes and hair." He also regrets that it can not reach us as pure as it starts, but has to be polluted by the various substances it meets in coming through the air. The northern sagas likewise represent honey as a heavenly product, and relate that it drops upon the earth from the holy ash, and is food to the bees. The ancients used honey as extensively as they did, probably, because they had not learned to extract sugar from the cane. Nearchus says the Macedonians found the sugar-cane in India, referring probably to the bamboo and its sweet juices, and Diodorus and Theophrastus speak of the sweet juice produced by a cane or reed-like plant; but, if cane-sugar was known at all in antiquity, it was known only as a rarity, and honey was still the pre-eminent sweetener. The ancients were well acquainted with the variations in the quality of honey, according to the season when it was stored and the plants whence it was derived. Honey was also used as a medicine for affections of the throat, inflammations of the lungs, and pleurisy, and as an antidote for snake and mushroom poisoning. It was given with mead in apoplexy; mixed with rose-oil it was applied to diseased ears; and it was used to kill vermin in the head. The ancient Germans had a mead or honey wine, which was made by the fermentation of a mixture of honey, water, and herbs, and contained about seventeen per cent of alcohol. Some ancient writers imagined that bees were developed in the decomposing bodies of animals, and an Arcadian shepherd is credited with having discovered the art of cultivating them in this way. Melanchthon believed something of the kind, and saw in it evidence of Providence and a noble symbol of the Christian Church. Honey formed an important article of trade in the middle ages, but gradually declined under the competition of cane-sugar. The destruction of the monasteries at the time of the Reformation caused also a limitation in the use of wax-lights, and a reduction in the demand for comb.


Trees of Lake Chad.—Dr. Nachtigal in his "African Journeys" describes some curious trees that grow in the region of Lake Chad. The butter-tree, called in that country tôso-kan, bears a green round fruit, ripening into yellow, about as large as a small citron. This fruit consists of a nut resembling a horse-chestnut in color and