Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/727

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709
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Exploration of Mount St. Elias.—The Mount St. Elias expedition organized by the National Geographic Society, under the leadership of Mr. I. C. Russell, with Mr. Mark B. Kerr as topographer, left Seattle, Washington, in June, 1890, and after spending more than two months on the mountain-sides, one half of that time above the snow-line, returned with notes, specimens, and data of the greatest interest. The topography was sketched over an area of about one thousand square miles, and includes the determination of the geographical position and elevation of Mount St. Elias and many neighboring peaks. Mount St. Elias is indicated to be not so high by some four thousand feet as the heretofore accepted elevation, nineteen thousand five hundred feet. The difficulties attending the determination of the height of this mountain are so great that the range between the extreme elevations that have been given by different explorers is nearly six thousand feet. Vice-President Ogden, of the National Geographic Society, suggests that as this is believed to be the first height for the mountain that has been derived from a carefully measured base, it is entitled to much weight. But the difficulties in suitably placing the triangles of measurement were so great that even the new elevation must be accepted with caution till it is verified. Although the party were prevented by storms from reaching the summit of Mount St. Elias, Mr. Russell is confident that he has found a practicable route.

 

A Glacial Monument.—One of the most interesting objects of the excursions of the Cleveland meeting of the American Association of 1888 was the group of wonderful glacial grooves on the limestone of Kelley's Island, Lake Erie—probably the most remarkable specimen of the kind in the world. The rock was being rapidly quarried away, and the pleasure felt at the sight of so rare a specimen of glacial action was marred by the apprehension that it would soon all disappear, a sacrifice to the commercial spirit of the age. A pledge was given at the time by the President of the Kelley's Island Lime and Transport Company, owning the quarry, that the most interesting grooves should be preserved. This pledge has now been fulfilled. The company at its last annual meeting voted to deed to President M. C. Youngblood a strip of land fifty feet wide and a hundred feet long, as surveyed by Prof. G. F. Wright and the Rev. Dr. Sprecher, containing the groove, to be deeded by him to some scientific or historical society, to be preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of science. It is to be presented to the Western Reserve Historical Society of Cleveland. The portion of the groove preserved is thirty-three feet across, and is cut in the rock to the depth of seventeen feet below the line extending from rim to rim. The groove is not simple, but presents a series of corrugations merging into one another by beautiful curves. When exposed for a considerable length, it will resemble nothing else so much as a collection of prostrate Corinthian columns lying side by side on a concave surface. Quarrying has proceeded nearly all around the specimen, "and soon the monument preserved will be a monument indeed," the groove being left to cap a pedestal about thirty feet high, and conspicuous from every side. About one half of the surface will be cleared of débris, so as to show fifty feet of the length of the groove, while the other half will remain as it is, beneath the protective covering of gravel, sand, and mud.

 

Characteristics of Aboriginal American Poetry.—The characteristic feature of the aboriginal poetry of America is defined by Prof. Brinton, in his presidential address to the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia, as repetition. "The same verse may be repeated over and over again; or the wording of the verses may be changed, but each may be accompanied by a burden of refrain which is repeated by the singer or the chorus. These are the two fundamental characteristics of aboriginal poetry, which are found everywhere on the American continent. The refrain is usually interjectional and wholly meaningless; and the verses are often repeated without alteration, four or five times over. These were the simple resources of the native bards. They had one other. In every American language which I have examined for this purpose I have found the existence of a poetic dialect, of a form of speech markedly distinct from