Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/584

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insurance companies is quoted to show that "from the material standpoint of dollars and cents the life of the American is at least as good as, if not better than, that of the European, all other conditions being the same. And if we remember that probably the majority of the holders of policies of life insurances in this country is made up from those same active, pushing, and rushing men, a class among which death from overwork would naturally occur most frequently, then the figures mentioned acquire additional force. A compilation drawn from every available source regarding the estimated duration of life at different years of age in America and in Europe gives figures that show that the chances of the American, from early manhood to a good old age, are, all through, a little better than those of his English brother, and a good deal better than those of the Germans.

Funeral Customs of the Haida Indians (Queen Charlotte Islands).—According to the Rev. C. Harrison, all men, and particularly the chiefs among these Indians, are greatly honored on their departure from this world. When the man dies, the next to succeed him (generally his nephew) is presented with blankets, dishes, beads, guns, canoes, prints, pottery, dogs, axes, and furniture. They are not, however, for his own benefit, but for the benefit of the deceased, and those who take part in the burial ceremony. In fact, nothing seems to be too valuable for the funeral. Christians are afraid to break the news of a friend's death to his wife, father, and mother. Not so, however, with the Haidas. The author has seen them make the coffin and decorate it in the presence of the sick person when they have come to the conclusion that he is about to die. They also tell the sick man that he will not recover, and urge him not to attempt to do so. The members of his tribe and all the chiefs of the other tribes come in to see him, and talk of nothing else but of others who have had the same sickness and died. When he hears what they have determined that he should do, he then refuses to eat and drink, and so hastens the demise. When gasping for breath, he is washed, and his shroud, made of white cotton, is then put on; white stockings are put on his feet; he is clad in a pair of white woolen drawers, and a white handkerchief is tied around his head. His neck is encircled with beads, a spot of red paint is put on either cheek, and a black spot on his forehead. When thus arrayed, all his friends enter the house and wait until he dies. They think very little of each other when in health and strength, but as soon as they are dead they become valuable and are called good Indians. When a person dies, they arrange a bed in the corner of the house and cover it with white cotton and place the deceased thereon, and then they cover him with a sheet of the same material. In twenty-four hours' time the body is placed in the coffin and arranged in the position in which it is to be buried. Then the time of mourning comes. All the old women of the tribe and the friends and relatives of the deceased begin to groan and sigh and cry. After they have wept for one or two hours, the greatest chief present calls for silence. Then the smoking feast begins. During the smoking entertainment the chiefs and friends of the deceased, according to rank, will begin to extol his virtues, and try to console his relatives by reference to his disposition toward the poor, his love for his friends, and his kindness toward his wife and children; and they also are very careful to refer to his liberality when making a free distribution of his goods—namely, a potlatch. Everything done in his past life passes under review, and they then conclude by saying that his time had come, and that the gods wanted him, and he, being a good and wise man, had obeyed their summons. When any one of importance dies, the news is carried to all the villages, and they at once come to see the dead man and also consult with the relatives regarding the funeral arrangements. If the deceased person belonged to the Bears, the funeral preparations are made and conducted by the Eagle Crest, and vice versa. After the funeral is over, all the people are feasted by the deceased man's nephew, who then assumes his uncle's title and property.

Self-purification.—The results of recent discussions in Europe, in which Prausnitz, Prof. Pettenkofer, Prof. Buchner, and Prof. Frankland have taken part, indicate that "self-purification" of rivers by oxygenation and sunlight, while it may be sufficient