Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/786

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

ty; when human sacrifices became impossible, animals were substituted; when combats between men seemed too horrible, fights of animals—of cocks, bulls, and fishes—were instituted. It has been said that the minister who should try to abolish bull fights in Spain would provoke a general revolt. In these cases the multitude are only spectators of the carnage; but when a people like the Spanish loves these sanguine representations with so furious a passion, can we be surprised that people less civilized ardently lust after the pleasures of collective criminality, although their manners may be in course of amelioration?

Besides having a historical interest, the study of these criminal festivals is very important for criminology, because it brings numerous evidences in support of the atavistic theory of crime. In discussing the questions whether crime is a phenomenon of atavism, or whether at least atavism does not play a considerable part in criminality, many criminologists have maintained that while most savage peoples are thieves, cruel and dissolute, nothing authorizes the affirmation that the ancestors of civilized peoples resembled them. We have, indeed, no direct proof of this fact; but if, in default of proof, we examine the usages and institutions of these peoples, which are a kind of fossil remains of their evolution, we may conclude that the primitive ancestor of the Greek was no more moral than the Australian or the Javanese. These criminal festivals can be explained only by assuming an. ancient condition of moral disorder; which admitted, everything becomes clear, and is susceptible of a simple and logical explanation.—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.


The prevalence of lake basins in glaciated countries is accounted for by Mr. J. C. Hawkshaw by assuming that whenever earth movements take place in limited areas they will tend to form basins. Since such movements are as a rule gradual, the basins will tend to fill up with water-borne detritus, the growth of vegetation, etc., as fast as they are formed. In glaciated countries, however, they arc occupied with ice, and that protects them from being filled up by such processes, and they will be preserved to appear as lake basins when the ice melts. Such basins are probably more numerous in rainless countries than we are aware of, for, not containing water and not presenting a different appearance from the rest of the country, they do not attract attention. An instance of them is presented in the Raian basin of Egypt, which has been surveyed by Mr. Cope Whitehouse, with a view to making use of it in works of irrigation.

A series of Roman tools, more than sixty in number, discovered in a rubbish pit during excavations at Silchester, England, in 1890, are described by Sir J. Evans. Among them are anvils, hammers, chisels, gouges, adzes, axes, and a carpenter's plane. The find also included two plow-coulters, a sword-blade, a large gridiron, a lamp, and a bronze steelyard.