Popular Science Monthly/Volume 36/November 1889/Popular Miscellany

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Ancient Aboriginal Mining.—Writing on "Ancient Mining in North America," Prof. Newberry speaks, in the "American Antiquarian," of the great antiquity of the aboriginal works. The ancient copper mines on Lake Superior were abandoned not less than four hundred years ago; for the heaps of rubbish around the pits made by the ancient miners were covered with forest trees that had reached their largest size. The old mica mines of North Carolina and the quarries of serpentine in the Alleghanies showed like evidences of antiquity. Some population in the Mississippi Valley worked the oil-fields in various places. The author, visiting Titusville in 1860, when the first well had been opened, noticed pits in the ground which proved to be relics of the excavations of primeval oil-gatherers. A citizen, digging a well in one of the pits, had discovered and followed an old well, which was cribbed up with timber and contained a primitive ladder, like those which have been found in the old copper mines of Lake Superior. The cribbing had been rudely done with sticks from six to eight inches in diameter, which had been cut or split by a very dull instrument, "undoubtedly a stone hatchet." The oil was probably gathered by being skimmed from the water that collected in the bottom of the pit. Traces of a similar well were observed at Enniskillen, Canada; and depressions in the surface like those on Oil Creek were noticed at Mecca and Grafton, Ohio. Ruins of an ancient lead mine exist on the Morgan farm, near Lexington, Ky., in the form, where they have not been disturbed, of an open cut, from six to ten feet wide, "of unknown depth, and now nearly filled with rubbish. On either side of this trench the material thrown out forms ridges several feet in height, and these are everywhere overgrown by trees, many of which are as large as any found in the forests of that region." Galena has been found in many of the ancient works in Ohio, but has never been smelted, and appears to have been valued merely for its brilliancy. Dr. Newberry does not believe that the mound-builders were of the present Indian stock.

 

The Law's Neglect of Children.—The defects of English law in regard to the rights and claims of children are pointed out by Mary C. Tabor in the "Contemporary Review." According to Chief-Justice Cockburn, no legal obligation is imposed on the father to maintain his children except under the poor-laws, or unless his neglect shall bring him under the criminal laws. Nor is there any obligation upon him to make provision for them after his death; but, on the other hand, he can by the appointment of guardians exercise almost as absolute a control over them in other respects as if he were living. Responsibility for giving a certain degree of instruction has been imposed by the late Education Act, which the father shares as to children born in wedlock, but as to illegitimate children he is scot-free. The mother of an illegitimate child may, it is true, recover from the father a sum for maintenance, but that obligation is in law due to her only, and in no way to the child itself, which "is shut out from even the shadow of a right to a father's care." The results of so defective a system are what might have been expected; the working of the Education Act, and of several benevolent enterprises in behalf of children, "have brought to light an appalling amount of semi-starvation, ill-treatment, or neglect, to which children are subjected with impunity at the hands of drunken, dissolute, or idle and improvident parents." Thousands of them do not get a single good meal a day, but come breakfastless to school, and their midday meal is provided by a charity. Cases of neglect and cruelty are brought before magistrates against which no statute provision can be found, so that one officer was driven to declare: "Had it been a dog, I could have helped you; but it is only a child, and I am powerless to assist." The want of paternal responsibility is what drives unmarried mothers to crimes against their offspring. What can they do with them in the situation in which they find themselves? In such cases the author would make the father of the child jointly liable. Matters are better in most of the American States, but in the majority of cases our own provisions lack enormously of what they ought to be. There are practical difficulties in the way of securing adequate protection by law which can not be overlooked; so that the best that can be done will be short of what is desired. But this only enforces the reasons for "doing the best that can be done."

 

Structure of the Ether.—"We seem," said Prof. Fitzgerald, in the British Association, "to be approaching a theory as to the structure of the ether. There are difficulties connected with diffusion in the simple theory that it is a fluid full of motion, a sort of vortex sponge. There are similar difficulties in the wave theory of light, owing to wave propagation round corners, and there is as great a difficulty in the jelly theory of the ether arising from the freedom of motion of matter through it. It may be found that there is diffusion, or it may be found that there are polarized distributions of fluid kinetic energy which are not unstable when the surfaces are fixed; more than one such is known. Osborne Reynolds has pointed out another, though in my opinion less hopeful, direction in which to look for a theory of the ether. Hard particles are abominations. Perhaps the impenetrability of a vortex would suffice. Oliver Lodge speaks confidently of a sort of chemical union of two opposite kinds of elements forming the ether. The opposite sides of a vortex ring might perchance suit, or may be, the ether, after all, is but an atmosphere of some infra-hydrogen element; these two latter hypotheses may both come to the same thing. Anyway, we are learning daily what sort of properties the ether must have. It must be the means of propagation of light; it must be the means by which electric and magnetic forces exist; it should explain chemical actions, and, if possible, gravity. On the vortex-sponge theory of the ether there is no real difficulty by reason of complexity why it should not explain chemical actions. In fact, there is every reason to expect that very much more complex actions would take place at distances comparable with the size of the vortices than at the distances at which we study the simple phenomena of electro-magnetism. . . The theory that material atoms are simple vortex rings in a perfect liquid otherwise unmoving is insufficient, but with the innumerable possibilities of fluid motion it seems almost impossible but that an explanation of the properties of the universe will be found in this connection."

 

The "Rabbit Pest" in Australia—The prevalence of the "rabbit pest" in Australia seems to be largely a result of man's indiscreet interference with the order of nature. Hares were introduced for coursing. Pet rabbits were brought over, and a few pairs of gray rabbits were turned out near Geelong, to form a warren. The last lot are believed to have been the fathers of the mischief, although some of the traits of the pets are found among the pests. The rabbit army generally trends toward the north because it started from too near the ocean to advance south. Night travelers along the Murray River used to describe the noise made by the rabbits scampering off from the coach-lights as something like the pattering of a hail-storm. The colonists made a first mistake in having the dingoes, or native dogs, destroyed, because they were dangerous to the sheep. Then the kangaroos began to multiply, taking advantage of the accommodations provided for the sheep. As soon as they were reduced to manageable numbers, the rabbits appeared. The twenty or twenty-five million sheep pastured on the Riverina plains are being gradually eaten out by rabbits to an extent which is represented by the decline of the flocks supported at one station from one hundred and ten thousand to twelve hundred head. The rabbits at that station have eaten up and destroyed all the grass and herbage; have barked all the edible shrubs and bushes; and have themselves perished by thousands. Foxes have been introduced for the accommodation of hunters, and in the belief that they might help to keep down the rabbits, and have become an additional and fast-increasing nuisance. Mr. C. G. N. Lockhart, in "Blackwood's Magazine," advises that the rabbits be fought by the encouragement of their natural enemies, cats and iguanas. Cats hunt them industriously, and it may be estimated that the progeny of one pair of cats will in the fifth year be equal to the slaughtering in one year of two million and a half of them. Iguanas, in the growing scarcity of opossums, their proper food, may probably learn to eat rabbits. The bounties offered for the destruction of rabbits are actually contributing to their perpetuation. The professional trappers find them a profitable game, and take care to keep up the supply. Hence they make war upon the cats with much more anxiety for their extinction than they show against the rabbits.

 

The Fate of the Gulf Stream.—M. J. Thoulet, applying the results of some recent observations respecting the relative levels of sea-water, describes the Gulf Stream as like a river, having a crest-line more inclined in the vicinity of its source than toward its mouth; separated by a valley of relatively abrupt inclination from the southward Newfoundland current, while its right flank has a more considerable breadth. Certain currents from the Gulf of St. Lawrence strike it so as to retard its speed and cause the deposition as a submarine delta in the slope of the "banks" which extend along the United States from the Great Bank of Newfoundland; while the eastern polar current, passing around Newfoundland on the east, strikes it perpendicularly. The waters of this current, colder but a little lighter than those of the Gulf Stream, mingle with them, and almost stop it. Its warm waters then spread out, and although they still possess a general direction toward the east, are subject to the impulsion of the winds and other accessory causes affecting the economy of currents. The Gulf Stream is then in the best condition to mollify the climate of western Europe, but no longer has individuality; it has become a simple drift without depth, and may be compared to a great river lost in swamps.

 

Wild Creatures of the Alps.—Martens and eagles add to the charms of the landscape for the Alpine tourist, but are hunted by the forester as his special enemies. The marten is a great destroyer of eggs and weak young creatures, and even attacks roes during the heavy snows of winter. It steals along by the animal as it labors through the heavy drifts till it becomes exhausted, when he springs upon it, bites its jugular vein, and sucks its life away. The marten does not eat its game, but drinks the blood while it is still warm, and leaves the body for other beasts and the elements. The fox hunts in a similar way, but eats the flesh till it is satisfied, and buries the rest of the carcass. The foresters do not like to pursue their predatory enemies with poison and traps, because, it is said, "they seem to think that they are taking an unfair advantage of a brother sportsman by employing such underhand means of getting rid of him." Still, they will lie in ambush to shoot their rivals. Selecting a conveniently situated building, they attract the foxes toward it by scattering carrion around at a suitable distance. Having learned the hour at which the animals are accustomed to appear, they lie in wait for them, on some moonlight night, and shoot at the shadowy forms as they come in sight. The larger birds are shot in a similar manner, but under circumstances of more labor and discomfort, because they are more wary. While the fox can be waited for in a warm room, with the window closed, the birds have to be watched from some rugged spot where it is impracticable to have a fire, and with open windows. The birds are also hunted for with a decoy horned owl—a creature toward which they are hostile; and some of the foresters keep owls for this work. While the hunters hide in some shelter they have constructed, the owl is tethered upon a branch, with chain-room enough to enable him to reach and move about upon the ground; while a string is led from the chain to the shelter, by means of which the owl is kept in a lively condition. The fluttering of the bird between the ground and the perch attracts the attention of the crows; their circling and cawing are noticed by the hawks and eagles, which come around to see what the crows have found, and are shot.

 

Doctor and Patient in Ancient Hispaniola.—Some of the curious features and customs of the people which were described by the early travelers in Hispaniola or Hayti have been recalled by Mr. H. Ling Roth, in a paper before the Archæological Institute. The missionary Ramon Pane says that the doctors were dieted along with their patients, and were obliged to purge themselves when they did. Intoxicating himself by snuffing a powder which may have been tobacco, the doctor would say extravagant things. These were regarded as communications from the Cemis or fetich, and as embodying revelations of the origin of the sickness. Having put into his mouth a package of small bones and flesh and gone through some preliminary observances, the doctor would go toward the sick man and turn him twice about; then, standing before him, take him by the legs, feel his thighs, descending by degrees to his feet, and draw hard, as if he would pull something off; then, going to the door, he would shut it, saying, "Begone to the mountain, or to the sea, or whither thou wilt!" With this he would give a blast as if he were blowing something away, turn about, clap his hands together, and shut his mouth, while his hands would be quaking as if he were a-cold. Then he would blow on his hands, and drawing in his blast as if sucking the marrow of a bone, he would suck at various parts of the man's body. This done, after a coughing and making of faces, as if they had eaten some bitter thing, the doctor would pull out what he had put into his mouth before starting out. If it was anything eatable, he would tell his patient that the Cemis had put it into him to cause the distemper because he had not made a suitable offering to it. If the patient died, and his friends were strong enough to oppose the physician, they would mix with the juice of a certain herb and the dead man's nails and forehead hair pounded between two stones, and, pouring it down the dead man's throat and nostrils, ask him whether the physician was the cause of his death. This they would do till the dead man would speak, "as plain as if he were alive," and answer all that they asked of him, when they would return him to his grave. Another method of making the dead speak was to place the body over a very hot fire covered with earth, when the dead would answer ten questions and no more. If the physician had failed to do his duty, he was waylaid and bruised, but a particular mutilation was necessary to secure his death. At night, after the bruising, snakes were believed to lick the doctor's body, and he would tell the people that the Cemis had come to his assistance.

 

Country Life, Past and Present.—As to whether country life is more comfortable now than it was fifty years ago, something may be said on both sides. Most of the places remote from large towns were literally out of the world in the old times, so far as society and active life were concerned. Traveling by public conveyance was difficult, inconvenient, and expensive; and visits to the city were rarely enough made to be with many literally the event of a lifetime, while hosts of other persons never enjoyed them at all. Communication by letter even was not common, for postage was high and graduated according to the distance, and only those who were able to indulge in it as a luxury felt that they could afford to dispatch many letters except on business or in cases of necessity. There were market towns, and they enjoyed a kind of prosperity of their own from which many of them have fallen since railroads came in, and they had their societies and their peculiar codes and usages and games and amusements, which left no lack of sources of enjoyment. But very few now living in those same towns would exchange their present life there for that of the past. There were, however, a sociality and a heartiness in the neighborhood life of those days, a freedom and equality of intercourse among the people of all classes—an ignoring, in fact, of class distinctions—a community of feeling and reciprocal interest by all in the welfare of all, a wholesome public opinion, and an intelligent public spirit, that have now disappeared. Then Lincoln's ideal of government of the people, for the people, by the people, was realized in thousands of communities where the hope of it and even the imagination of it are not now entertained. We have gained that the value of which we can not calculate with railroads and telegraphs, and the changes which have come over our social life; but it is equally impossible to estimate what, in turn, we have lost.

 

Deep-Sea Fishes.—Remembering the darkness and the enormous pressure of the water in the depths of the ocean, no one will be surprised that the forms and the organs of deep-sea fishes differ greatly from those of species which live near the surface. Unless among microscopic creatures, no such curious and grotesque shapes can be found in the animal kingdom as among these fishes. Some resemble the ribbon-fishes of our own seas, being long and slender, like the scabbard of a sword. Others are fashioned after the type of our angler-fish, having organs about the mouth suggestive of a bait to attract its prey. Some terminate in a sharply pointed tail instead of the familiar form. One strange form is Bathypterois longicauda, of which one specimen only has been taken, from a depth of 2,550 fathoms in the middle of the South Pacific. This fish was three inches long, with a big head and tail and a very slender body. The uppermost pectoral fin was longer than the whole fish, and was forked from its middle. Some species have huge mouths with bodies like loose sacs, capable of prodigious distention when they seize upon a large victim. Macrurus crassiceps has a huge head with hardly any body. The hues of deep-sea fish are mostly simple. Their bodies are either black, pink, or silvery; though some which are black when preserved were blue on being brought to the surface. In only a few are some filaments or the fin rays of a scarlet color. Black spots on the fins or dark cross-bars on the body are of extremely rare occurrence. Few people are aware how difficult it is to procure the deep-sea fishes. Their tissues are extremely delicate, so that the dredge often mutilates them. Frequently, too, in coming up from the bottom, on the pressure gradually growing less, the gases which they contain, expanding, tear their way out. Especially is this the case with those which possess a swim-bladder. This is almost always ruptured as the fish comes to the surface. Indeed, some specimens have been found floating in a dying state on the waves, from having seized upon prey which was too powerful for them, and in struggling to escape dragged them into the upper waters, when some rupture took place and they floated helplessly to the surface. The most curious part of the organization of deep-sea fishes is undoubtedly the phosphorescent or luminous organs which distinguish several well-known species. In some of these the eyes seem entirely absent or only rudimentary. Thus, Ipnops Murrayi, taken from a depth of 1,600 to 2,150 fathoms, possesses no eyes. It has a depressed head, with a broad snout, and the upper surface of the head is covered with a pair of transparent membranes, carrying a luminous organ divided into two symmetrical halves. Scopelus is another phosphorescent species, with a line of "eyelike, pearl-colored organs" running on each side of the fish from head to tail. Dr. Günther, in his "Introduction to the Study of Fishes," has given the possible uses of these organs as, first, to enable the fish to see; second, if placed on barbels and the like, to allure prey; third, to terrify foes. Of course, the luminous appearance departs at death.

 

If there were no Friction.—Having shown that friction is an insuperable impediment to the realization of perpetual motion, Prof. Hele Shaw observes that "if we are inclined to regret this fact, a little reflection on what would occur if friction ceased to act may not be uninstructive, for the whole face of nature would be at once changed, and much of the dry land, and, even more rapidly, most of our buildings, would disappear beneath the sea. Such inhabitants as remained a short time alive would not only be unable to provide themselves with fire or warmth, but would find their very clothes falling back to the original fiber from which they were made; and if not destroyed in one of many possible ways—such as by falling meteors, no longer dissipated by friction through the air, or by falling masses of water, no longer retarded by the atmosphere and descending as rain would be unable to obtain food, from inability to move themselves by any ordinary method of locomotion, or, what would be equally serious, having once started into motion, from being unable to stop except when they came into collision with other unhappy beings or moving bodies. Before long they, with all heavier substances, would disappear forever beneath the waters which would now cover the face of a lifeless world."

 

British Whales.—The whales of the British Islands are more abundant and more varied in species than has generally been supposed. The most important of the species that have occurred in Great Britain is the Greenland right whale, which has now been driven into the far north. The Atlantic right whale was once hunted with considerable vigor in the English Channel; and those who hunted it there are said to have invented the harpoon, and taught the Dutch whalers how to use it. The hump-backed or Bermuda whale has been cast ashore on the islands, and is therefore entitled to be called a British species. A fourth species is the caaing or bottle-nose whale, a large school of which was seen in the summer of 1888 disporting in the Bay of Firth. The whale—an air-breathing mammal living in the water—is admirably adapted to its environment. The blow-holes are placed on the top of the head, and the animal can respire only when they are above the water. The animal heat is preserved and the specific gravity reduced by the thick coating of blubber that lies just under the skin. An interesting trait in the economy of the whale is the manner in which it suckles its young. It partly turns on its side, and the teats being protruded, sucking and breathing go on simultaneously. The "baleen" or whalebone of the "whalebone whales" consists of about five hundred laminæ—taking the place of teeth—ranged about two thirds of an inch apart, and having their interior edges covered with fringes of hair. Some of them are fifteen feet long. The cavity of a whale's mouth has been compared with that of an ordinary ship's cabin, the inside of which is covered with a thick fur. The soft, spongy tongue is often a monstrous mass ten feet broad and eighteen feet long. The whale feeds upon minute mollusks—Medusæ and Entomostraceæ—with which the northern seas abound. "Opening its huge mouth," says Prof. Huxley, "and allowing the sea-water, with its multitudinous tenants, to fill the oral cavity, the whale shuts the lower jaw upon the baleen plates, and, straining out the water through them, swallows the prey stranded upon its vast tongue."

 

Standards of Light.—It is a delicate matter to obtain an accurate standard of light. Candles are still most relied upon for the tests of comparison, but it is obvious that they are susceptible of great variations in the intensity of the light they afford. Still, if made according to fixed rules, and their burning similarly regulated, they will give a fair approach to accuracy. Various English acts prescribe a sperm candle of six to the pound, and burning at the rate of one hundred and twenty grains per hour; also that the tip of the wick shall be glowing and slightly bent. Gas examiners are not always as particular in the matter as they ought to be, and, by allowing the wick to remain upright, may obtain a result indicating a gas of slightly more value than it really has. The German Gas and Water Society recommend an amyl acetate lamp, which is not quite as intense as a candle, and is objected to by Mr. W. J. Dibdin as being unsuitable in the color of its light. Dr. Werner Siemens has devised a selenium photometer, the electric resistance of which is exactly dependent on the light falling upon it. The pentane lamp, and the Methven screen, in which a coal-gas light is admitted through an aperture of fixed dimensions, are favored by many persons; and a standard afforded by a melting or a solidifying platinum wire is well spoken of.

 

John Mercer, F. R. S.—John Mercer has been called by Mr. T. E. Thorpe, in "Nature," the "Palissy of calico-printing." He achieved a great success in the arts without any other helps than those which he made for or attracted to himself. He was born, according to Mr. E. A. Parnell's "Life," in 1791, the son of a hand-loom weaver, who had turned to agriculture. When nine years old, he was set to work, on the death of his father, at bobbin-winding. A pattern-designer taught him reading and writing, and an excise-officer gave him lessons in arithmetic. He became interested in colors and dyeing, when sixteen years old, from observing the orange color of the dress of his little step-brother. Without books or means of obtaining instruction, but having got a full set of colors, and by the aid of trial experiments, he acquired considerable knowledge of the properties of dye-stuffs and of the current methods of coloring. Then he got books and learned exact methods. From this time his course was upward till he became master of his art, the inventor and teacher of new methods, and the author of some of the most valuable improvements that were made in dyeing previous to the introduction of the coal-tar colors. Mercer's skill and knowledge, says Mr. Thorpe, were ungrudgingly given to his fellow-workers in the art, and his assistance and advice were constantly sought. "He had, indeed, all the essential qualities and instincts of the scientific mind, and there was a certain comprehensiveness about the man, a certain vigorous grasp of general principles, and a largeness of view which made his influence felt at once among men of science." He was the author of some useful investigation in chemistry, and an early worker in photography.

 

A Chase of Evil Spirits.—A very curious custom is that called the women's hunt, which prevails among some of the aboriginal tribes of Chota Nagpore, India. It is observed whenever any calamity falls upon the community—such as, perhaps, a visitation of cholera. The women put on men's clothes, take up arms, and go a-hunting—not in the jungles, but in the nearest village east of them. They chase pigs and fowls, take as their own everything they kill, and levy black-mail from the heads of the villages for the purchase of liquor, or else they allow themselves to be bought off for a small sum of money and a pig. Toward evening the hunting party retire to a stream, cook and eat their meal, drink their liquor, and then return home, having acquitted themselves during the day in a thoroughly masculine and boisterous manner. Then the village that has been visited goes on a similar excursion to the next village east of it, and so on to the eastern borders of the district. By this series of excursions it is supposed the evil spirit of the affliction is safely conducted out of the district without offending its dignity. A single village is excepted from the operation of the custom, and is called Mahadaiva, being devoted to Mahadev, and under his special protection. If cholera appears there, it is because he is offended, and he must be propitiated before it will disappear.

 

A Discussion about Leprosy.—A recent discussion about leprosy in the Epidemiological Society of London has made it very obvious that our knowledge on the subject is extremely indefinite. While some persons insisted that the disease was fast increasing in India and is contagious and hereditary and threatening to European countries, others brought evidence of opposite tenor. A case was cited in which a man, born of leprous parents in a leper hospital and brought up there, who married a leprous woman, had not contracted the disease at thirty years of age. Other evidence was to the effect that contagiousness is conditioned by circumstances not well understood, among which are the quantity and character of the food supply. The influence of inheritance is as doubtful as that of contagion. On the other hand, it is certain that leprosy occurs in cases in which it has not been inherited, and no contagion can be traced.

 

Prunes.—Prunes are said to have been introduced into France by the Crusaders, and to have been first cultivated by the inmates of a convent near Clairac. The plum-tree is profitably cultivated in several of the departments, and grows well in any situation that is favorable to grapes. The fruit when ripe is covered with a "flower," which adds much to its value. It is usually gathered, after the night-damps have dried away, by shaking lightly from the tree, and only such as falls readily is taken. It is then put in a building, where it matures completely. Prunes are subjected to three or four cookings before they are ready for the market—two for the evaporation of the contained water, and the others for drying and giving a peculiar brilliancy to the product. In Provence the freshly gathered fruit is plunged into pots of boiling water, where it remains till the water again comes to the boiling-point. It is then shaken in baskets till cool, and dried in the sun on trays. At Digne the fruits are peeled with the nails and strung on sticks in such a way as not to touch, and then are stuck into straw frames and exposed to the sun till the prunes easily detach themselves from the stick. The pit is then removed, and the fruit is placed upon trays exposed to the sun. In some other districts the prunes are dried in immense ovens. The first cooking of the fruit should be at a temperature not exceeding 50º, the second 70º C, while the third may be performed at 80º or 90º, or occasionally 100º C. A well-cooked prune is dark purple, has a solid and brilliant surface, is malleable and elastic to the touch, with the kernel well done and intact in the shell. When these conditions are not fulfilled, the kernel ferments, and the prune becomes moldy and worthless. Bordeaux is the principal center of the prune industry, and has a trade that is increasing.

 

Climate and Phthisis.—The question, Does climate cure phthisis? is answered by Dr. James A. Lindsay, of Belfast, Ireland, in the affirmative, "beyond question." It does it, not usually by a single or specific quality of the air or by any definite combination of meteorological conditions, but by removing the consumptive from the evil influences of unfavorable meteorological conditions and of an injurious soil, and transferring him to a climate where fresh air, sunshine, and outdoor life may be enjoyed and their concomitant advantages realized. The best climates to cure phthisis are found at marine resorts and mountain resorts. The best marine resort is a sea-going ship—a sailing vessel preferred—and the longer the voyage the better. Next are ocean islands, coast islands, and shore places, of which Algiers, Tangier, and Malaga are among the best. Of the dry inland resorts, the best are Nubia, the interior parts of Algeria, the Orange Free State, and the vast interior plains of Australia—of which the Orange Free State is recommended on account of its altitude. The mountain resorts have proved most efficacious in cases of delayed recovery from pneumonia, with threatening tuberculosis, chronic pleurisy with much fibroid change, incipient catarrh of the apex, and chronic tubercular phthisis, with good reaction and the retention of fair constitutional vigor. They are not good for advanced and much weakened cases; and, speaking generally, only chronic cases with fair reaction are suitable for climatic treatment.

 

The Crofter's Question.—The English newspapers have had much to say concerning the agitations of the "crofters" of the Highlands and islands of Scotland. The crofters are small farmers, living on rental holdings which have generally been occupied by the family through many generations, or perhaps centuries, coming down from the times when the clan system prevailed. During the present century their holdings have been abridged by the development of sheep-farming in which the landlords have become interested, and more recently by the absorption of the land in immense deer parks. The crofters naturally object to being dispossessed of estates which they have come to regard as in a measure their inheritances, and have manifested their objections in ways common to rude and ignorant men. Deprived of their accustomed homes and of the only resources which they knew how to make available, their situation became so distressing and desperate as to awaken public attention and form a leading question in Parliament. They claim a right to security of tenure, to the fixation of rent by a land court, and to opportunities for enlarging their holdings. As defined in the "Westminster Review," their troubles are not the growth of a few years, nor are they due to any faults of their own, but rest upon claims of right far older than the present civilization and régime of the country. The historic claim of the crofters is, that the fertile lands in the Highland glens and pastures and on the hill-sides were the common property of the clan under the chief, and that, even though the chief may have been in the eye of the law the absolute owner of the land, still in point of fact and immemorial custom the clan shared his possessions, and had an undisputed and undisturbed right to their crofts and their pastures or grazings, on payment of a small rent, or on condition that they served under their chief in case of war. That this was the ancient custom is not questioned. The disregard of it now shown by the landlords, with the connivance of the authorities, is excused by saying that a security of tenure, founded in the old usage of the country, can not now be seriously entertained, as the clan system no longer exists, and the property has in many cases changed hands. At the same time, the Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the matter admit that the present crofters are the descendants and heirs of the holders who acquired these rights, and have done nothing to forfeit them. The landlords, however, have disregarded this tenure, have evicted the tenants, and have converted their farms into sheep-walks and immense deer ranges—enforcing their pretensions with many instances of cruelty and fiendish hardship; and Parliament has done nothing effectually to remedy the evil which has been allowed to grow up.

 

Italian Witch-Stories.—A practice, hybrid of the legitimate healing art and of the old witchcraft, is still current in parts of Italy. Its professors are fairly trustworthy respecting what comes under their own eyes, and prescribe judiciously for the ordinary ailments of animals, but can also tell some marvelous fables about minerals, plants, and beasts; and it sometimes requires discrimination to distinguish whether they are talking from knowledge or are repeating some old fancy. According to one of their stories, if one takes the eggs from a raven's nest, boils them, and puts them back, the parent bird will bring a stone of the same shape and size which will have the power of restoring life to them. The stone, remaining in the nest after the birds have flown, becomes half transparent and like an egg in everything except weight and hardness. When placed near poisoned food, the yolk will give warning of the fact by becoming violently disturbed. If a stone the size of a pea, which the lapwing is said always to deposit in its nest, is put under the pillow of a sleeping person, the sleeper will answer truthfully any reasonable question in the language in which it is asked. A particular serpent, reputed venomous at all times, is said to be especially so in May; and the first person it bites in that month will die himself, and also cause the death of any one who may stand beside him or come to his help. The fondness of snakes for milk gives the basis for the story of a coachman into whose open mouth a snake crawled while he was sleeping by the roadside. The doctors having failed to help him, he consulted the professors of the University of Naples; they hung him up by his feet and set a bowl of milk under his head. The snake was attracted by the smell of the milk, and crept partly out to get it, when it was pulled the rest of the way out. Of course, the coachman recovered.

 

Outdoor Tastes of the Australians.—The climate of Australia disposes to outdoor life; hence the most is made of holidays and of excuses for appointing them, and outdoor sports flourish as in no other country. Thought is quick, and speech nimble and marked by a reckless energy of diction—as when a young woman of great skill at lawn tennis is complimented by being described as "a terror." Mr. Ernest Moon finds a more serious result of the outdoor habit in the fact that there is little time or inclination left for reading. In very few homes, indeed, are there any indications of literary tastes. "Books or periodicals are conspicuous by their absence from most drawing-room tables. The periodicals at the club may remain for days uncut. Nor are the books at the club libraries numerous or in much request. . . . There are scientific institutions, and musical and art societies, but I have been assured on very good authority that there is no literary club or society of any kind. There are, of course, other reasons for the absence of literary life besides the allurements of the harbor, the garden, or the veranda. One of them is that there is not a class of literary people."

 

Classes of Men.—Recognizing the inequality among men, M. de Lapouge maintains that a man is what his birth made him, and that education can do no more for him than develop the pre-existing germs derived from his progenitors in accordance with the laws of heredity. This reasoning is extended to classes, nations, and races, who are assumed to be unequal and incapable of attaining to an equal degree of perfection. The author divides men into four classes, in the first of which he places those possessed of creative and initiative faculties above their fellows, while it is to the relative numerical preponderance of this class over the others that he refers the undoubted superiority of one race to another. He thus sees in the dolichocephalic blondes the most famed of all the races of humanity, since, from the dawn of history, all heroes and leaders among men have belonged to this type. In modern times the Anglo-Saxon race has owed its superiority to the preponderance of the dolichocephalic element. France is supposed to be suffering from the diminution of this type in its population, together with the rising preponderance of the brachycephalic type to which the lower classes of the community belong, while a great deterioration of the general personal character through the amalgamation of the two is anticipated as inevitable. Similarly the author sees in the present movement for raising the negro races a source of future danger to the Aryans, who may in time find themselves beaten down by the brute force of teeming masses of inferior brachycephalic peoples.

 

A Stoker's Life.—The stokers on one of the great ocean steamers work four hours at a stretch, in a temperature ranging from 120º to 160º. The quarters are close, and they must take care that while feeding one furnace their arms are not burned on the one behind them. Ventilation is furnished through a shaft reaching down to the middle of their quarters. Each stoker tends four furnaces, spending perhaps two or three minutes at each, then dashes to the air-pipe to take his turn at cooling off, and waits for another call to his furnaces. When the watch is over, the men go perspiring through long, cold passages to the forecastle, where they turn in for eight hours. One man, twenty-eight years old, who was interviewed by a reporter, had been employed at the furnaces since he was fourteen years old. He weighed a hundred and eighty pounds, and was ruddy and seemingly happy. He confessed that the work was terribly hard, but "it came hardest on those who did not follow it regularly. But if we get plenty to eat," he said, "and take care of ourselves, we are all right. Here's a mate of mine, nearly seventy years old, who has been a stoker all his life, and can do as good work as I can. Stokers never have the consumption, and rarely catch cold. Their grog had been knocked off on the English and American lines, because the men got drunk too often, and the grog did them much harm. When I used to take my grog, I'd work just like a lion while the effects lasted. I'd throw in my coal like a giant, and not mind the heat a bit; but when it worked off, as it did in a very few minutes, I was that weak that a child could upset me. Take a man dead drunk before the fires, and the heat would sober him off in half an hour, or give him a stroke of apoplexy."

 

Disparity in Marriage.—The "Westminster Review" shows that the widows greatly exceed the widowers in number, the proportion in England being as 1,410,684 to 589,644—a proportion which is not very greatly varied from through all the marriageable ages. The difference being hardly accounted for by the superior longevity of women, or the greater exposure to danger incurred by men, the "Review" finds a more efficient cause in marital disparity. Women prefer husbands who have made their fortunes and can give them ease and display, to young men who have their fortunes to make, with privations that must be shared. Thus taking companions considerably older than themselves, they naturally outlive them. It might be a more philosophical proceeding for the woman to marry a man younger than herself, that she may have his society through life, and a support when she will most need him. The results of this course to the cause of purity and to the health of the human race are to be deplored. Disparate unions have been shown to be fertile sources of the failure of marriage. A young woman marrying a man of like age is the right person in the right place. On the contrary, in marrying a man at the end of his manhood, she often drags him down. "Gross disparity was forbidden by Jewish lawgivers, and also by the most enlightened of pagan legislators. Is it wise or prudent to permit the vigor of manhood to be dissipated or wasted, and to allow posterity to owe its origin to the waning strength of old men? It is certainly contrary to the warning voice of the most intelligent and disinterested of the medical profession. . . . This widow-making vice of marital disparity is but one feature in that hymeneal profanation which is the curse and disgrace of our age, as it was of the decline of Rome."

 

Climates of British Health Resorts.—The isothermal lines in the British Islands run north and south rather than east and west. Hence latitude is there a less sure guide to temperature than longitude. All the health resorts on the east coast have a very similar character, although they differ so much in latitude; and the like rule holds good on the west coast. The resorts on the south coast differ materially, according as they lie toward the east or toward the west. As a general rule, the east coast resorts are dry, somewhat cold and bracing, while the west coast resorts are relatively humid, mild, and relaxing. All the coasts are more or less windy; but there is a great difference between the dry, somewhat parching, and decidedly bracing wind that comes to the eastern coasts across the German Ocean, and the soft, rain laden breezes of the Atlantic. Some places, however, have a climate of their own, depending upon peculiar conditions. The line between the bracing and relaxing of the south coast resorts lies near the Isle of Wight. The most bracing resorts in England are those of Durham and Yorkshire; the most relaxing those of Devonshire and Cornwall. The resorts from the mouth of the Thames to Brighton form an intermediate class.

 

Distinctive Characteristics of Horseflesh.—The inspector of slaughter-houses in Paris distinguishes between horse-flesh and beef by the following marks: Horse-flesh is reddish brown, becoming darker on exposure to the air; it has an odor peculiar to itself; it is soft and slightly tenacious, allowing the finger easily to sink into it, and the fibers, when worked, break up and become pulpy; the muscular fibers are long and fine, and united by very compact cellular tissue; in cooking, it hardens and becomes more dense and compact than beef; and under the microscope the fibers and striations of the muscular tissue are finer than in the flesh of the ox. These differences not always appearing sharply defined enough to make the distinction infallible, James Bell has sought other tests, and found them in the character of the fats. It was observed that the adipose tissue of the horse was of a softer and more oily nature than that of beef. On melting, horse fat, at 70º Fahr., formed a clear oil; the melting-point of beef fat, which is solid at ordinary temperatures, varied from 110º to 116º Fahr. At 100º Fahr. the specific gravity of horse fat ranged from 908·4 to 908·8; the specific gravity of beef fat, at 120º Fahr., was from 903·6 to 904. These important characteristics of difference, particularly the fluidity of horse fat at 70º Fahr., make the distinction between the two fats very plain.

 

Mental Powers of Spiders.—"Some Observations about the Mental Powers of Spiders" are recorded by G. W. and E. G. Peckham in the "Journal of Morphology." The authors experimented on hundreds of spiders of most of the common genera and species, with relation to such faculties as they may be supposed to possess, but found the way to knowledge on the subject "long and beset with difficulties." The faculty of smell seemed to be fairly developed in all but three out of twenty-six species. It was exhibited in different ways—by various movements of the legs, palpi, and abdomen, by shaking their webs, by running away, by seizing the rod conveying the perfume and binding it up as they would an insect, and by approaching the rod with the first legs and palpi held erect. The position of the organ of smell is unknown, and was not found. In hearing, spiders made no response to any loud or sensational sounds, but all the Epeirids were sensitive to the sound of the tuning fork, while the spiders that do not make webs gave no heed to it. In love of offspring, all the spiders eagerly received back the cocoons when they had been deprived of them for various periods inside of twenty-four hours; some failed at twenty-four hours, while only a few recognized them after a longer period. They did not, however, seem able to distinguish their own cocoons from another spider's, or from a pith ball of the same size; and one of them even accepted a lead shot over which the covering of a cocoon had been stretched. In the sense of sight, they had great difficulty in finding their cocoons, even when removed from them only three quarters of an inch, and performed long and tortuous routes before they reached them; but in other matters they showed that they could see well enough. The trouble about the cocoons arose from the fact that the spiders never see them when carrying them, and therefore did not know them by sight, but depended on touch to identify them. The color sense appeared to be fairly well developed, with a very decided preference for red. The authors do not believe that spiders feign death. Epeirids drop and lie still for a time, but that is because, if they run about, they have difficulty in finding the thread that leads back to their web. Other spiders keep still, if at all, only for a few moments, but not long enough to give an appearance of death. Darwin's explanation is, therefore, correct, that the habit of lying motionless is the result of natural selection, and has been acquired by different species in different degrees, according to its usefulness in their various modes of life.

 

A Patriarchal Estate.—A patriarchal system of management is on trial on the estate of five thousand acres of Baron Raimondo Franchetti at Canedole, Mantua, Italy. Machinery and manures are liberally employed. Nobody pays any rent. The parish priest, schoolmaster, and doctor are employed and maintained by the proprietor. Sixty children are fed and looked after during the day in the Kindergarten, to and from which they are conveyed in an omnibus. The buildings are grouped, at the Corte de Canedole, around a square of fifteen thousand square yards area, with the master's house facing the entrance, and the steward's and other farm officers' dwellings, and the workshops, stables, barns, etc., near at hand. The whole is surrounded by deep canals flushed with running water, and flanked by avenues of plane-trees. Watchmen go their rounds at night. Workhours are regulated by the sound of the bell; strict discipline is enforced; the upper hands set the example of steady and serious work, and grand balls are occasionally given by the baroness in the court-yard to all the peasants. It is not known how profitable the experiment has been, but it has not been a failure.

 

The Human Factor in Slums.—Mr. Frederick Greenwood, in a discussion in the "Nineteenth Century" of the problem of "Misery in Great Cities," maintains that the slums and squalid dens that abound in parts of London and other enormous cities "correspond far more than most kind souls are willing to perceive to the measure of depravity and weakness of the human mind; and at the same time to the proportion of incapables in a state of society which does not allow its incapables to perish." Every village and town has its bad spots and its centers of degraded population, corresponding in extent with its size; and it is only the vast extent of the mischief in London, commensurate with the dimensions of the city, and the appalling magnitude of the problems which it suggests, that excite so much commiseration and alarm. Hence it may be concluded that any local and spasmodic efforts to ameliorate the evils that exist are destined to only a very limited success, and that permanent advantage is likely to accrue only from measures that tend to raise the general social condition.

 

Inheritance of Acquired Habit.—In illustration of the hereditary transmission of characteristics acquired by habit, Prof. M. M. Hartog relates in "Nature" the case of a person who is unequally myopic in his eyes, and very astigmatic in the left one. On account of the bad images given by this eye for near objects, he was compelled in childhood to mask it, and acquired the habit when writing of leaning his head on the left arm, so as to blind it, or of resting the left temple and eye on the hand, with the elbow on the table. After putting on spectacles, when fifteen years old, he lost the habit of leaning. His two children, while they have not inherited the congenital defect, being emmetropic in both eyes, have received his acquired habit, and have to be watched to keep them from hiding the left eye when writing. A somewhat similar case of inheritance of acquired habit is related by J. Jenner Weir of a goat and its kids in the Zoölogical Gardens. A chain was attached to the animal's neck to keep him from jumping over the fence. He became accustomed to take the chain up by his horns and move it from one side to another over his back; in doing this he threw his head very much back, so as to place his horns in a line with his back. His offspring have inherited this habit, though it has not been necessary to put chains upon them.