Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/807

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ber of births being 786,858—one in 34. In the same year the births in Scotland were 115,514, and only 312 infants under one year
one in 370—fell victims to convulsions. This striking difference in the mortality statistics of the two countries is accounted for in a report of the Scottish Registrar-General by the difference between the English and the Scottish modes of rearing infants. "The English," he writes, "are in the habit of stuffing their babies with spoon-meat almost from birth, while the Scotch, excepting in cases where the mother is delicate, or the child is out nursing, wisely give nothing but the mother's milk till the child begins to cut its teeth." The statistics of infantile deaths from diarrœea may also be adduced as an argument in favor of the Scottish system. In England more than twice as many infants die of this disorder than in Scotland.

On comparing these statistics with those of the last United States census, it will be seen that the chances of life for infants in their first year are far more favorable in this country than in England, though not so favorable as in Scotland. In the year ending May 31, 18*70, there were born in the United States 1,100,475 children. Of these there died, during the same year 4.863 by convulsions, and 1,534 by diarrhoea, or one in 236 from the former cause, and one in 724 from the latter. In England the deaths from diarrhoea amounted to 138 in 100,000 infants, and in Scotland to 66 in the same number. It will be seen, on computation, that the proportion of deaths from this cause are by a very small fraction less in the United States than in Scotland. But now are we to attribute these very creditable results to our more rational system of rearing children, or to the better social condition of the population here?


Snakes swallowing their Young.—The question, "Do snakes swallow their young?" that is, give them shelter in the maternal stomach when danger threatens, was discussed in a paper presented to the American Association by G. Brown Goode. The author some time since asked, through the public press, for testimony bearing on this subject, and he now comes forward with what appears to be perfectly satisfactory evidence in favor of the affirmative side. He has the testimony of fifty-six witnesses who saw the young enter the parent's mouth. Of these fifty-six, nineteen testify that they heard the parent snake warning her young of danger by a loud whistle. Two of the witnesses waited to see the young emerge again from their refuge, after the danger was past; and one of them went again and again to the snake's haunt, observing the same act on several successive days. Four saw the young rush out when the parent was struck; eighteen saw the young shaken out by dogs, or escaping from the mouth of their dead parent. These testimonies are confirmed by the observations of scientific men, such as Prof. Smith, of Yale College, Dr. Palmer, of the Smithsonian Institution, and others.



The year 1759, which witnessed the completion of the Eddystone Lighthouse, closed with tremendous storms, and the courage of the light-keepers was tested to the utmost. A biography of John Smeaton, the builder of .the Eddystone, states that for twelve days the sea ran over them so much that they could not open the door of the lantern, or any other door. "The house did shake," said one of the keepers, "as if we had been up a great tree. The old men were frightened out of their lives, wishing they had never seen the place. The fear seized them in the back, but rubbing them with oil of turpentine gave them relief!"

Sir Charles Lyell, in his "Geology," speaking of Madagascar, says that, with two or three small islands in its immediate vicinity, it forms a zoological sub-province, in which all the species except one, and nearly all the genera, are peculiar. He singles out for special remark the lemurs of Madagascar, comprising seven genera, only one of which has any representatives on the nearest mainland of Africa. Hitherto no fossil remains of these Madagascar species have been known to exist, but M. Delfortrie, of the French Academy of Sciences, announces that he has found, in the phosphorite of the department of Lot, an almost complete skull of an individual belonging to this lemurine family.

Of the 35,170,294 passengers carried over the railroads of Pennsylvania last year, only thirty-three were killed, less than one in a million. But the English lines make a far more favorable showing, the number killed in the year 1871 being only twelve—or one in 31,000,000.