Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/444

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

that it would at once remove all social distinctions or polish intellectual pewter into sterling silver. They have confined themselves to a modest trust that it may do something. It has done something already, and they humbly believe it will do more. Time is needed to measure the consequences of so great a social change. The new leaven has been spread among large classes of the nation hardly touched by it until yesterday. As one great benefit it has rendered the competitive system possible in the public service, and has saved the country from the evils of nepotism, and from the worse evils of a political scramble for the spoils. But competition is not a good thing in itself—only a "sad necessity." "The cultivation for market purposes of brute brain power" may, indeed, have its uses. It probably saves a large number of fairly able men from their innate inclination to sheer idleness, and it probably provides the public services with a regular supply of fairly competent recruits. But it can never, except by accident, breed a competent scholar. Its direct tendency is to divert the thoughts of those engaged in it from all that the real lover of learning and literature seeks with a constant love. But even the diffusion of "mediocre culture" gives the average masses a better chance of fulfilling their vocation than did the reign of general ignorance that prevailed among them not many years ago.


Paradoxes of Animal Courage.—Having mentioned a supposed hostility of wild dogs against tigers, a writer in the London Spectator goes on to remark that the fierceness of the wild dogs' attack seems to have affected the tiger—a clever and "reflecting" animal—with a kind of nervousness which extends to all dogs; and enforces his remark with the story of a tiger which ran away from the bark and spring of a domestic spaniel. "It is, of course, just possible that the tiger was 'nervous,' and that the little dog merely exhibited the impudence habitual to little dogs who know that they can worry a horse or a bullock into beating a retreat when quietly lying down in a field. Extreme nervousness is often the accompaniment of great courage in certain animals, especially of the larger kinds. Indian rhinoceroses, kept by a rajah for fighting in the arena, where they could exhibit the most obstinate courage in combats with elephant or buffalo, would tremble and lie down at the unusual .eight of a horse outside their pen; and the elephant is more liable to sudden panics and alarms than any other animal. It is strange to think of the same animal advancing boldly to face a wounded tiger and receiving its charge upon its tusks, and running away in uncontrollable panic from a piece of newspaper blown across the road. It is said that the scent or roar of a bear in the jungle will often scare elephants beyond control; and they have the same intense nervousness shown by the horse at the sight of things unusual or out of place. A big elephant which was employed to drag away the carcass of a dead bullock, and had allowed the burden to be attached by ropes without observing what it was, happened to look round, and instantly bolted, its fright increasing every moment as the unknown object jumped and bumped at its heels. After running some miles, like a dog with a tin can tied to its tail, the elephant stopped and allowed itself to be turned round, and drew the bullock back again without protest. Yet an elephant, with a good mahout, gives, perhaps, the best instance of disciplined courage—courage, that is, which persists, in the face of knowledge and disinclination—to be seen in the animal world."


A Whipping Game.—The whipping game of the Arawacks of British Guiana, as described by Mr. E. F. Im Thurn, is played by any number of persons, but generally only by men and boys, for one, two, or three days and nights—as long, that is, as the supply of pai-wari, the native beer, holds out. The players, with but brief intervals, range themselves in two lines opposite each other. Every now and then a pair of players, one from each line, separate from the rest. One of these puts forward his leg and stands firm; the other carefully measures the most effective distance with a powerful and special whip with which each player is provided, and then lashes with all his force the calf of the other. The crack is like a pistol shot, and the result is a gash across the skin of the patient's calf. Sometimes a second similar blow is given and borne. Next the position of the pair of players is reversed, and the flogged man flogs the other. Then the pair retire, drink good-tem-