Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/142

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

Boas, that Songish and Nootka Indian mothers press and rub certain parts of the newborn infant's body in order to give it the shape that they deem beautiful. Many are the modes of expressing affection for children among different peoples, but it seems strange to find under this head the custom of burying a live infant with the mother who has died in giving it birth, for the practice often has an element of vindictiveness. There is a considerable mythology connected with childhood, including lore about guardian spirits and bogeys, also the myths made to answer children's questions as to where the latest addition to the family came from. The folklore connecting children with plants and with animals is an especially delightful branch of the subject. The firstborn child becomes a social factor among some peoples the moment it sees the light, for its birth changes the status of its parents in the community. Its rights of heritage, etc., and the marriage that is contracted for it in its early years among some peoples—even in England in the sixteenth century—are other features of its social importance. At school and in the societies, secret or open, which they form among themselves, including the street gangs of large cities, children reveal the traits that are brought out only by close association with one's equals. The efforts of the child in learning and making language, and as an actor, inventor, poet, musician, and judge, afford an instructive insight into his mind, while his elevation to the position of oracle, weather-maker, healer, priest, hero, and deity shows us the adult mind of many primitive peoples. This volume is not absolutely restricted to lore in which the child is the central figure; thus three of the early chapters are devoted to motherhood and fatherhood, while legends about the origin of certain peoples and the admission of women to the priesthood among others have no obvious connection with childhood. The author gives us a bibliography of five hundred and forty-nine titles, and, with few exceptions, his lore and legends are referred to this list by volume and page. One of the evils attending the great benefits that have been derived by Americans from the study of German authorities is the practice of dividing indexes that is beginning to creep into American books. In this respect Dr. Chamberlain out-Germans the Germans. His collection of child-lore proverbs (which is a feature of the book worthy of special mention) has two indexes—one of the peoples, the other of the authors, from which they are drawn; his bibliography, which follows these, is divided into three classes, each arranged in a separate alphabet by authors, and each followed by an independent subject index; then comes the general index to the volume, the entries of which are divided into three classes, each arranged in its own alphabet. Obviously the user must spend more time in getting at the right subdivision of such lists than in finding his reference. But in spite of this systematic confusion at the end there is not a dry page in the book nor one without scientific value.

The art of depicting the successive positions passed through by animals and other bodies in motion, which aroused much public interest a few years ago, has not been allowed to stand still since that time. Great advances in processes and execution have been made and more difficult problems have been solved, so that the results which M. Marey is now able to present to the public are remarkable for their range and definiteness.[1] The camera

  1. Movement. By E. J. Marey. International Scientific Scries, No. 73. Pp. 323, 12mo. London: William Heineman. Price, 7s. 6d. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, $1.75.