Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/798

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The Khmers believe in unlucky places, which one can not inhabit or cultivate without exposure to death; in places haunted by evil spirits, which one can not visit without perishing; in stones or statues which one can not touch without falling sick; and places which one can not pass without making an offering. There are in the province of Kampot a mountain at the foot of which the Chinese dies who attempts to pass it, and a defile where it is necessary to alight from one's horse or carriage and cast an offering of branches upon a cup placed at the fork of two roads, saying, "I offer thee a parasol." A statue of a woman of the Brahmanic period stands on a river island in the province of Sambaur, before which women can not present themselves, but which men are permitted to caress in order to insure the fidelity of their wives.

Many women and children wear cords which they buy of the witches, in order to preserve them from certain maladies; and from these sometimes hang little leather cylinders which are believed to be very effective. In certain provinces of Upper Cambodia characters are tattooed on the breast as preservatives against attacks by the tiger and panther, and against snake bites.

The Cambodians are usually pleasantly disposed, but very revengeful for injuries. Theft is common, but less so than in Cochin China. Assassination does not excite any great degree of attention or cause any deep remorse in the murderer. They bear pain with much courage; but illness reduces their energy to a very low degree. Prisoners condemned to death by decapitation march courageously to punishment, smoking their last cigarette, without bravado and without weakness.

The paddy gathered and deposited in the granary is protected by a stone for which they have a superstitious regard; and they employ the achars, the religious literati of the village, to read prayers and invocations over the store. Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.

 


 
The latest report of the directors of convict prisons in England gives satisfactory evidence that serious crime is perceptibly diminishing throughout the country. Thus, during the five years ending in 1859, when the population of England and "Wales was 19,257,000, the sentences to penal servitude numbered 2,589. The years 1885 to 1889 showed the much lower total of 945; the population then being 27,830,179. Since that period a further decrease has been registered. A reduction in the number of young convicts has been remarked. Even as late as 1887 it stood at 3-2 per cent of the whole prison population. In 1892 it was 1-2 per cent. These observations agree with the statement that the diminution in the whole amount of criminality is mainly attributable to a decrease in the number of young offenders, while the proportion of older delinquents has increased.