Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/132

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

general, Italian men of science are without affectation in their manners, although they lack grace and dignity." Arago draws a somewhat more favorable portrait of him, saying, "Volta was tall, and had noble and regular features like those of an ancient statue; a broad forehead, which laborious thought had deeply furrowed, a face on which were painted alike calmness of soul and a penetrating intellect. . . . His manners always retained traces of rustic habits contracted during his youth. Many persons recollect having seen Volta, when in Paris, going daily to the bake-shop, and afterward eating in the streets the bread he had bought there, without imagining that he was an object of remark. . . . Strong and quick intelligence, large and just ideas, and an affectionate and sincere character were his dominant qualities. Ambition, the thirst for gold, the spirit of rivalry, dictated none of his actions. With him the love of learning, the only passion which he had experienced, continued free from all worldly alliance."

A collection of Volta's writings, drawn from the journals and periodical transactions in which they first appeared, was published at Florence in 1816, in five volumes. It is pronounced valuable by M. Biot, on account of the fidelity with which we may trace in it the succession of his ideas on the most important subjects in which he was interested during his long career.


There are still natives in the Melanesian Islands, Dr. Codrington relates in his studies of their anthropology and folk lore, who remember when a white man was first seen and what he was taken to be. When Bishop Patteson landed at Mota, for instance, he entered an empty house, the owner of which had lately died. This settled the question: he was the ghost of the late householder. The visitor, especially if he is a whaler, is soon discovered by his behavior not to be a ghost, but he can not be a living man, for in that case he would be black; he is, therefore, probably a mischievous spirit, bringing disease and disaster. Shooting at these spirits could not do them much harm, they not being men, but might drive them away. Consequently, in this belief, the Santa Cruz people shot at Bishop Patteson's party in 1864.
Mr. Jones's report in the British Association on the Elbolton Cave, near Skipton, was of unusual interest. Long-headed human skulls were found with burned bones and charcoal in the upper stratum, associated with domestic animals and pottery ornamented with diamond and herring-bone patterns; while at a much lower level—from thirteen to fifteen feet below the floor—there were round skulls, much more decayed, in connection with ruder and thicker pottery than has been found in any other part of the cave. No flints or metal have been found, and bone pins and other worked bone are the only human implements hitherto discovered. The remains of bear and hare have been found in cave-earth below this level.