Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/734

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

water, exercise an influence in producing a certain type; for example, the nut-brown skin of natives of Lower Egypt. This is so, but the direction in which the influence works is frequently misunderstood. The result is more probably brought about by natural selection than by the modification in a given direction of the individual units of successive generations. Thus the negroes, though coming in numerously and intermarrying with the Egyptians, gain no ground, because the climate of the Delta is unfavorable to them, and they die of pulmonary disease within a few generations. Again, Europeans and strangers to the country generally suffer and die from typhoid fever in vastly greater proportions than the natives."

 

Magnifying Glasses in Antiquity.—Probably the earliest mention of magnifying glasses is quoted by Mr. Henry G. Hanks, in the Papers of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, from the Vanity of Arts and Sciences of Henry Cornelius Agrippa, of the early part of the sixteenth century, where it is said: "So we read, as Cœlius in his ancient writings relates, that one Hostius, a person of an obscene life, made a sort of glasses that made the object seem far greater than it was; so that one finger should seem to exceed the whole arm, both in bigness and thickness." There is difficulty in fixing the date of Cœlius, but he probably lived before Livy; and Hostius was a still more ancient personage.

 

Funeral Customs in New Guinea.—The death of a chief recently gave the Rev. S. B. Fellows, one of the Wesleyan missionaries in New Guinea, an opportunity of observing the native funeral ceremonies, which are somewhat similar to those of the Maories. From the time of death until burial, the corpse lies on the floor of the house, with no other covering than it had in life. In the present case a man, a near relative, was seen lying across the corpse, which he hugged and stroked, with loud crying and bitter sobbing. The women kept up an unceasing wailing and crying, signs of a grief which seemed genuine enough. The virtues of this chief were chanted as the mourners repeated again and again the names of the islands he had visited in his canoe, the amount of food he had brought home, the fish and pigs he had caught, etc. Large fires were kept burning underneath and round the house during the night to scare away the "debil debil." On the morning of the second day after death, the body, wrapped in rough mats, was buried soon after sunrise, without any rites; and on that day a feast was made for the friends and mourners. An old cocoanut palm, of great value, is cut down, and the leaves are used for the roof of the small house that is built over the grave. At the funeral of a woman a yam was placed on each side of the head, and a native cooking -pot with the bottom knocked out was put on the head cap-fashion. A dish of cooked food is passed up and down the corpse before it is covered; and an annual offering is made at the grave. The soul of the dead person, called barnaqum, is supposed to linger near the body until it is buried; then it quietly takes its departure, by way of the mountains of Misima, for a place deep down in the earth, called tuma. Souls are permitted to revisit the earth, when their presence is made known by a peculiar low whistle. After remaining in tuma for a long time, they undergo a change similar to the death of the body, and are then transmigrated to the bodies of infants yet unborn.

 

Development of Exotic Gardening.—Charlemagne is called, according to the Gartenlaube, the first æsthetic gardener in western Europe; for he it was who took pains to transplant into German gardens the useful and ornamental plants that grew wild in the woods and the fields, and to introduce those which flourished beyond the Alps. As men increased in good living and their tastes became refined, they were not satisfied with useful plants alone, and the gardens of the more wealthy were adorned with the choicest ornamental and fancied plants of the East. The proverb, "Gardens are visiting-cards; what they are shows what their owner is," is illustrated in the history of the development of the German garden, which is really a chapter in the history of civilization. With great extension of trade in the beginning of the sixteenth century, rich acquisitions were made to gardens from all foreign countries a process of growth which has not yet ceased, but seems to be