Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/256

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252
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SALT.
By Professor CHARLES W. SUPER,

ATHENS, OHIO.

EVERYBODY knows the lines in Lucile in which the author declares that 'civilized man can not live without cooks.' He also proposes the query whether there is any man in the world who can live without dining. The assertion is true only with important restrictions; for it will not be contended by anybody that every person who cooks is a cook, any more than it would be affirmed that every one who paints is a painter. The interrogatory may be frankly answered in the negative, since the great majority of mankind does not now dine and never has dined. They eat when they have food, and when they have none they do without. If we call this spasmodic way of supplying the interior department with materials for slow combustion, quaddrupeds may be said to dine with as much propriety as homo erectus. If our poet had asked the question, Where is the man, civilized or uncivilized, who can live without salt? every one of his readers would probably have replied unhesitatingly, 'He does not exist.' It is doubtful too whether he ever existed. It is asserted by competent authorities that terrestrial as well as marine life is conditioned upon the consumption of salt. The position is hard to prove or disprove, as experiments that would give trustworthy results are almost impossible. It seems, however, fairly well established that man at the present day, no matter what his rank on the staircase of social progress, can not or, at least, does not, live without this substance. What history has to say will be given below. That a historical record and an established fact are not interchangeable terms is, however, to be premised. Not only has this mineral been found in close proximity to almost every locality inhabited by man or at least within his reach; it is sought with almost equal avidity by brutes. Most domestic animals are particularly fond of it. It is said to be fatal to some kinds of birds, though barn-yard fowls consume it without injury. The herbivora have an especial liking for it, whether in their wild state or domesticated. It is well known that the various salt licks in the United States were favorite places for ambuscades, and that both Indians and whites used them for the purpose of destroying the deer, buffalo and other animals that habitually resorted to them. Probably the most famous of these salt springs, or licks, as they are generally designated, is the Big Bone Lick