Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/297

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285
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

capturing and carrying off the bride as a proof of courage and address. The author calls this form marriage with capture instead of marriage by capture. He thinks the latter was not in use among them, while marriage by purchase may have existed among them from the polished stone age. Capture is sometimes resorted to to reduce the price of a girl or to avoid payment, but is an incident of marriage by purchase. Among the Manchus, according to a gentleman of that people, the middle-man takes a large part in arranging marriages. When he has brought the parents of the pair to an agreement, a solemn inspection of each party is made by the mother of the other, to see that the bridegroom is not dumb, the bride not lame, etc. Then cards and presents are exchanged. The marriage ceremony lasts three days. In the bridal chamber the couple are fed with "offspring dumpling" and "longevity dough"; and a "longevity lamp" is kept burning. An important ceremony is the uniting the cups, by the couple drinking wine alternately from two cups tied together by a red string. Frequently children are promised to each other in marriage while still very young.

 

Gypsy-carried Folk Lore.—"Gypsies," says Mr. Charles B. Leland, "have been the colporteurs of witchcraft." A hundred confirmations, the Athenæum observes, "might be adduced of the saying. It is fifty years now since old Mrs. Petulingro traveled Norfolk with her sparrow that told her all manner of secrets; to-day her descendants are camping in Scotland, Ireland, America, and New Zealand. Wherever they have wandered they have carried with them both gypsy and East-Anglian superstitions; so that you still find them counseling a Clydesdale beekeeper, who has just lost his wife, to 'tell' the bees and put crape upon his hives, practicing their own strange methods of ordeal and tabu, or plucking out the heart from a live white pigeon at midnight and casting it on a clear fire, as a gypsy girl did five years since, to put a spell upon her false lover. For gypsies both borrow and lend: if they gull, they are gullible, and the gentile 'wise man' has no more credulous victims. Found as they were in Finland in 1580, in Shetland in 1612, and roaming as they do from Poland to China, from Hungary to Algeria, the gypsies are a most disturbing factor in the problems of folk lore. How much they have done toward the diffusion of magic and folk tales it were hard to estimate; that they may have done very much is at least possible. Their tales present all the familiar features (of swan-maidens, forbidden chambers, the grateful dead, etc.); their superstitions in eastern Europe are often identical with those of our English peasantry e. g., Transylvanian gypsies seek out a drowned body with a loaf having quicksilver in it. And only last summer a member of the Gypsy Lore Society discovered in Argyleshire a band of boat-dwelling 'tinklers' speaking good Romany."

 

Phenomena of Stream Currents.—In a paper on the flow and friction of water in open channels, read by Dr. D. T. Smith at the American Association, the questions were asked: Why are there streams? Why are the channels of streams trough-shaped? Why are streams higher in the middle than at the edges? Why is the greatest speed of streams not at the surface but at some distance beneath? Why do streams flowing into the sea through deltas have plural mouths? Why are the banks of rivers in deltas raised above the adjacent lands? Why do rivers, flowing down steep inclines, early come to an even rate of speed, and not increase in speed to the bottom of the incline as do solid bodies in falling? Why does drift move from the margins to the middle of rapid streams? Why are rivers deep just before entering the sea, yet entering with the bottom sloping upward? These phenomena, it was claimed, are all produced by movements in the water due to unequal friction. The particles of water rubbing against the sides of the channel are retarded more than those next within, and, as those outside fall behind, those next within move out and take their places, thus preserving the width of the stream. Those next within take the place of these, and so on to the middle of the stream at the bottom. As the water at the bottom moves out, that above settles down in the middle. As the water moves against the banks, it is raised up by the force with which it strikes, and the surface of the stream at this stage