Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/312

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

finds his most interesting work in the neglected fields of popular superstitions and games, and who is an earnest student of comparative religion. The exhibition was formally opened on March Kith, when crowds of visitors were present. The collection is the first of its kind publicly shown in America. It is on the general plan of the Musée Guimet in Paris, and, although not to be compared with that in size, it presents some valuable features that are lacking there. Some eight hundred objects illustrated Brahmanism, Buddhism, Taoism, Mohammedanism, the fetich-worship of South Africa, the Shamanism of North America, the idolatry of Polynesia, and the old religions of Egypt. There has been much hard work given to this display, and great credit is due those who have been interested in its preparation.

While we speak of work done by noble individual effort and sacrifice, and without the assistance of Government or of wealthy organizations, we must describe what is done at Salem and at Davenport. No museum in America has exerted a greater influence PSM V41 D312 Frank Hamilton Cushing.jpgFrank Hamilton Cushing. than that in Salem, Massachusetts. A large proportion of the most active scientific men in our country, directly or indirectly, owe much of their first impulse and enthusiasm to some department of its work. In 1799 the Salem East India Marine Society was organized, with a membership confined to persons who had actually navigated the seas beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn as masters or supercargoes of vessels belonging to Salem. Those were the palmy days of commercial supremacy and the seas were dotted with vessels from the old town. The third of the objects stated as reasons for organizing the society was "to form a museum of natural and artificial curiosities, particularly such as are to be found beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn." The museum began November, 1799, with a gift of objects from Sumatra by Captain Jonathan Carnes. In course of time much choice material in ethnography was brought here—particularly from the South Sea Islands, China, India, Africa, and South