Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/879

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

other hardly ten miles distant. While a number of the holiday observances are more or less common to all the Aryan natives, the features more peculiarly Irish are mainly derived from the old Druidic worship. Aside from some essentially foreign customs not noticed in Mr. Mooney's paper, many of the genuine Irish observances have been considerably modified by English influences. This is especially true of the May-day and Christmas celebrations; and many holiday rhymes and children's rhymes, riddles, and other formulas—even in the remote parts, where Celtic is the ordinary language of the people—have been imported bodily from England. Mr. Mooney has also reprinted, from the "Journal of American Folk-Lore," a paper on the "Folk-Lore of the Carolina Mountains," which, while it can hardly be summarized, is full of matters of curious and quaint interest.


Ants and the Plants that harbor them.—In a paper read before the British Association on the Humboldtia laurifolia as an antharboring plant, Prof. Bower observed that the peculiar relations between plants and ants had been the subject of considerable observation from time immemorial. The literature on the subject could be traced as far back as 1750, and Captain Cook, in describing his voyages, distinctly alluded to the matter. In one place he said that he had seen on a certain tree a number of black ants which perforated the twigs, and, after eating out the pith, formed a lodging in the cavity, and yet the tree continued in a flourishing condition. In tropical climates there were many plants pre-eminently associated with ants. The Italian botanist Picari contended that the relationship was advantageous alike to the plants and to the ants. The former afforded shelter to the latter, and in some cases supplied them with food. In the course of a short discussion Dr. Tieman said there were five species of Humboldtia in tropical countries. The ants took advantage of the hollowness of the plants, but he did not think the latter derived any benefit from their presence.


Alcoholism and Consumption.—In three professional papers Prof. Thomas J. Mays exhibits relations between consumption and nervous disorder, and between consumption and alcoholism. The former connection is illustrated by the citation of numerous cases in medical practice, the deductions from which lead to the conclusion that "he who looks at the disease which goes under the name of pulmonary consumption solely from a pulmonary standpoint obtains but a very limited and distorted conception of its magnitude and nature; but that he who takes the view here indicated will realize that the lung affection is only a special manifestation of the disease which invades the whole body; and that all its diversified symptoms, such as fatigue and exhaustion, anorexia, dyspepsia, wasting, dyspnœa, sweating, diarrhœa, hæmoptysis, intercostal tenderness, hoarseness, aphonia, œdema, are not the consequences of the pulmonary disease, as is generally believed, but in all probability find a common bond of union in a general disorder of the peripheral nervous system." In the other aspect of the theory cases are cited to prove that "alcoholism and phthisis are not mere coincidences, but that they have a relationship so intimate that one may be converted into the other"; and that pulmonary phthisis can be produced through the toxic action of alcohol on the nervous system. "Such, then, being the relation between alcoholism and pulmonary phthisis, it is very readily understood why these two diseases should so frequently change places in different members or generations of the same family, and why they are so often associated with various other nervous disorders."


Old Panama Canal Projects.—The feasibility of cutting a canal across the Isthmus was discussed by William Paterson, in 1701, in connection with his Darien scheme, but only incidentally. He thought that the canal could be easily cut for six out of the eight leagues between the oceans, while the other two passages would be difficult. Humboldt, in a report made in 1799, enumerated nine different points at which the two oceans might be connected. Previous to this, in 1788, a passage between the two oceans for small craft was actually accomplished. The author of this achievement, says Mr. J. Stephen Jeans, in a paper on the subject, was the curate of Nevita, who induced his Indian flock to cut a trench between the upper streams of the San Juan River, near