Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/595

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573
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

smaller images, each twenty-five feet high, stand in front of the larger one. The total weight of metal in the main figure is about 450 tons, and this is said to consist of gold, 500 pounds; tin, 16,287 pounds; mercury, 1,954 pounds; and copper, 986,080 pounds. The large images are not cast in single pieces, but are built up of numerous small pieces of irregular shape, which are cemented together by a substance of unknown composition, that takes on the same tarnish as the bronze.

 

Forestry in the Cape Colony.—Fa care was taken of the forests of the Cape Colony until 1880, when many valuable tracts had been nearly destroyed. Measures were taken in that year for their future preservation, and the Count de Vaeselot, who had had a large experience in French forestry, was appointed forest superintendent. He divided the forests into districts and these into sections, in which the felling should proceed so that the regrowth of the first section should be given time to develop into mature trees before the axe should be used there again. By this system the entire shutting up of any forest for a time is done away with. The period for the "revolution" of felling is fixed at forty years. The forests severally are watched over by a staff of foresters and inspectors, under whose supervision all cutting goes on, and who attend to the raising and planting of young trees. The Government has established large tracts of plantations and nurseries from which the forests and private holders are supplied; has begun a reafforestation of Table Mountain; and has instituted an "arbor day," which is observed with great enthusiasm.

 

The "Heaps of Joy" of Saint-Pilon.—Tourists have often noticed little heaps of stones on the higher peaks of Mont Sainte-Baume, Provence. They are called castellets, or little castles, and are either composed of several stones forming a sort of rude pyramid, or of one large stone inserted in a fissure of the rocky soil. They are most frequent in the vicinity of the Oratory of Saint-Pilon, where they are found at an elevation of nearly one thousand feet. Dr. B. Féraud has learned that they are also locally called moulons de joye (heaps of joy), and that, besides being intended to testify to the successful ascent of pilgrims to the summit of Saint-Pilon, they were frequently designed to propitiate St. Magdalen, to whom prayers are made on the spot for approval of the special maiden whom the worshiper may desire to marry. In the latter case the mound is visited by the builder at the end of a year, and if he finds the stones undisturbed, he considers that the saint approves of his choice; but if the heap is broken up, it is generally regarded as a decisive barrier against the intended marriage. In this superstition Dr. Féraud sees a survival of the ancient usage of erecting stone monuments, such as altars, pillars, menhirs, etc., to commemorate some important personal event.

 

Sign-Talk in New Guinea.—An exploration was made some months ago by Mr. Theodore F. Bevan of the Philp and Queen's Jubilee Rivers, hitherto unknown affluents of the Gulf of Papua, in southern New Guinea. In the course of his voyages the traveler met several bands of natives who had apparently never before seen white men, intercourse with whom brought out some curious characteristics and capacities of the sign-language. At Attack Point, on the Aird River, the progress of the party was opposed by some sixty nude Papuans, who, after a little hesitation, bore down upon them, "alternately splashing the water into the air and beating time with their paddles against the sides of their canoes, also shooting volleys of arrows at us. . . . This attack was decided in our favor, without any bloodshed, by a judicious use of the steam-whistle and a few shots fired wide and high." The savages were painted, decorated with feather head-dresses in addition to other ornaments, and wore white groin-shells to partly conceal their nudity. At Tunui, on Philp River, the natives dressed their persons and canoes in green boughs in manifestation of their friendly feelings, and were responded to by the whites with dumb motions and words likely to be recognized by them. The next step from this side was to bind a slip of Turkey-red cloth, a piece of sharpened hoop iron, and one or two trifles upon a wooden batten, and let it drift down-stream. "One native, bolder than the rest, paddled after this parcel, and, after cautious inspection, appropriated it, and donned the red cloth as