Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/441

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427
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

fact that all earlier determinations give less than 18,000 feet for the height of Mount St. Elias, Prof. Heilprin intimates that "geographers will probably consider the question of absolute height as still an open one. That the mountain closely approximates the giants of the Mexican plateau is almost certain, but it seems equally probable that its true position is after, aud not before, the Peak of Orizaba."

 

Bulgarian House Communities.—The Bulgarian house communities, according to Mr. J. E. Gueshov, called there kupshtina, are very like the zadrugas of the Serbs and Croats. The head of the society is called domakin, the man of the house, and is usually either married or a widower, but may be a single man. The domakina, or lady of the house, is generally the wife of the domakin, or the widow of a previous one, or, if there be no such person, the oldest woman of the community is elected to the place. She regulates the work to be done by the women of the household; as, for instance, who is to bake or cook on particular days; and she arranges the domestic labor so as to allow the women time for attention to their children and to other duties. The principle of the community is that each member must work according to his capacity, for the common good. Any one who is dissatisfied with the work assigned to him can leave the community, but the only goods which he is allowed to carry away as his own are his clothes. If one of the women contracts a second marriage with a man who is not a member of the community, her children by her first husband remain in the society, although she herself quits it. When the girls marry, they receive nothing from the community, except a zestra of clothes and bed-furniture, for which the bridegroom makes a money payment. These house communities are spread over Bulgaria from Leskovatz on the north to Macedonia. Details are given by Mr. Gueshov of the community of Gornya-Banga, not far from Sofia. Its head is a priest. Some four years ago it consisted of twenty-eight and thirty-five members. With the domakin, Todorin, work his six brothers, one of whom is a priest, the second a farmer, the third a shepherd, a fourth the keeper of an inn, and another a tailor. No property is private among them except their clothes. All work for the house community; even the priest, if he gets money from any quarter, from a wedding, christening, or funeral, is obliged to bring it into the common fund. The domakina, the wife of Todorin, arranges which of her sisters-in-law shall bake one day and which shall cook. One oven and one kettle suffice for all. Concord and love prevail in the community; and the priest assured Mr. Gueshov that, if they had possessed in severalty, they could never have passed through the terrible period of the last Russo-Turkish War. No legal sanction has been given since the independence of Bulgaria to this customary right, but it remains deeply rooted as an institution in the public mind. A case is told of a member of a community who bought two plots of land and secured a confirmation from a court of law of his property in them. The whole village rose against him, and he was obliged to hand the plots over to the society to be common property. There are also co-operative market gardeners in Bulgaria, who travel about and raise vegetables on plots which they hire. The unit of the gardeners' co-operative society is the working gardener. If a man has gained experience in this calling, he can easily enter one of them, even if he has no money. The union, called a taifa, is great or little according to the size of the garden which it is proposed to cultivate, and that of the town which offers a market for their products. The largest shareholders are the master, who holds the purse and keeps the accounts, and the salesman; but the funds of the society are distributed in proportion among the workers in the garden. Other co-operative societies exist among shepherds, reapers, masons, bakers, tinkers, and potters.

 

Good and Bad Novels.—Whatever influence novels have upon the mind of a reader is due to giving him a wider acquaintance than his own experience affords with life, or what passes for life. Novels deal only with the interesting parts of life, leaving out of sight the commonplace matters which make up more than three fourths of real life, otherwise they would not be read. Good novels represent these interesting features as