Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/441

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

wood. It has often been related that laborers have been enabled to perform extraordinary feats through the agency of the black » devil, which they inserted in some part of their implements of labor; but the few who were so daring as to have recourse to such means were regarded as dabblers in the black art, and were looked upon as reckless, as "utterly left to themselves," and almost beyond the pale of salvation. This insect is still considered extremely dangerous; it is thought to be a kind of scorpion; but very few, indeed, are now disposed to lift it to the dignity of preternatural influence.

 

Growth of Willow Trees.—Garden and Forest has received a photograph of a willow tree standing in Waterbury Centre, Vt., the trunk of which measures twenty-four and a half feet in circumference, and whose symmetrical top shades an eighth of an acre of ground. A person who knows the early history of the willow testifies that in 1840 it was a tree about six inches in diameter, which had grown from a walking-stick driven into the ground a few years before by some children. In that year it was cut down deep into the ground in the hope of killing it, but it started a new growth, and has reached its present dimensions in fifty years. The rapid growth of the willow in favorable localities is well known, and Dr. Hoskins (from whom the photograph was received) writes of another near his home, which sprang from a cane carried by a returning soldier in 1866, and thrust into the soil in his dooryard. It is now more than four feet in diameter, with an immense top, and bids fair, at an equal age, to reach the dimensions of the one spoken of.

 

The Jagir Duseens of North Borneo.—The Governor of British North Borneo, visiting the island of Banguey, found there a tribe of Duseens, differing in language, religion, and customs from other tribes bearing that name. Among one of these people, called Jagir, spirits are believed in, and also the power of a priestess to keep them in order; "for she is acquainted with their ways, and knows the future as well as the past." She nominates and trains her successors, but they must wear black robes and carry wooden knives. The priestess thanks the chief spirit, festival when the paddy crop has been successful; but the people never appeal to the spirits or practice any religious ceremony in connection with births, deaths, sickness, or marriages. Marriages are performed, without public gathering or feast, in the forest in the presence of the two families. The rite consists in transferring a drop of blood from a small incision made with a wooden knife in the calf of the man's leg to a similar cut in the woman's leg. After marriage the man takes the bride to her home, where he resides in future as a member of the family. These people have long hair, secured with a wooden pin at the back of the head, and cut short on the forehead. Their only covering consists of a scanty fragment of bark. They use for fire-making both flints and a pointed friction-stick, which differs slightly from the one generally used in the archipelago. The tribesmen are honest, trustworthy, and industrious.

 

A Chinese Naval College.—The Imperial Naval College at Nankin, China, according to Dr. Fryer's report, was opened about two years ago for the purpose of educating young men of talent for official positions in the southern fleet of the Chinese navy, the northern fleet having been already provided for. It has now eighty students between seventeen and twenty-five years of age, about equally divided between the branches of navigation and engineering. Two English teachers are engaged, with several Chinese teachers who have been graduated from the Tientsin Naval College and are employed as instructors in drilling, rifle practice, torpedo work, and other branches. The second classes of both the navigation and the engineering branches are also taught by qualified natives. The Chinese studies are directed by literary graduates, who teach the classics and other subjects of the usual course. With the good beginning it has had, and ample room for expansion, there can be little doubt, says the report, that the college, under its present administration, will eventually grow into a permanent institution that will bear comparison with some of those of foreign countries. The Chinese mind seems to be able to undergo a severe amount of study and discipline that is simply astonishing. Handicapped by having to keep up