Popular Science Monthly/Volume 39/September 1891/Popular Miscellany
Exploration of Mount St. Elias.—The Mount St. Elias expedition organized by the National Geographic Society, under the leadership of Mr. I. C. Russell, with Mr. Mark B. Kerr as topographer, left Seattle, Washington, in June, 1890, and after spending more than two months on the mountain-sides, one half of that time above the snow-line, returned with notes, specimens, and data of the greatest interest. The topography was sketched over an area of about one thousand square miles, and includes the determination of the geographical position and elevation of Mount St. Elias and many neighboring peaks. Mount St. Elias is indicated to be not so high by some four thousand feet as the heretofore accepted elevation, nineteen thousand five hundred feet. The difficulties attending the determination of the height of this mountain are so great that the range between the extreme elevations that have been given by different explorers is nearly six thousand feet. Vice-President Ogden, of the National Geographic Society, suggests that as this is believed to be the first height for the mountain that has been derived from a carefully measured base, it is entitled to much weight. But the difficulties in suitably placing the triangles of measurement were so great that even the new elevation must be accepted with caution till it is verified. Although the party were prevented by storms from reaching the summit of Mount St. Elias, Mr. Russell is confident that he has found a practicable route.
A Glacial Monument.—One of the most interesting objects of the excursions of the Cleveland meeting of the American Association of 1888 was the group of wonderful glacial grooves on the limestone of Kelley's Island, Lake Erie—probably the most remarkable specimen of the kind in the world. The rock was being rapidly quarried away, and the pleasure felt at the sight of so rare a specimen of glacial action was marred by the apprehension that it would soon all disappear, a sacrifice to the commercial spirit of the age. A pledge was given at the time by the President of the Kelley's Island Lime and Transport Company, owning the quarry, that the most interesting grooves should be preserved. This pledge has now been fulfilled. The company at its last annual meeting voted to deed to President M. C. Youngblood a strip of land fifty feet wide and a hundred feet long, as surveyed by Prof. G. F. Wright and the Rev. Dr. Sprecher, containing the groove, to be deeded by him to some scientific or historical society, to be preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of science. It is to be presented to the Western Reserve Historical Society of Cleveland. The portion of the groove preserved is thirty-three feet across, and is cut in the rock to the depth of seventeen feet below the line extending from rim to rim. The groove is not simple, but presents a series of corrugations merging into one another by beautiful curves. When exposed for a considerable length, it will resemble nothing else so much as a collection of prostrate Corinthian columns lying side by side on a concave surface. Quarrying has proceeded nearly all around the specimen, "and soon the monument preserved will be a monument indeed," the groove being left to cap a pedestal about thirty feet high, and conspicuous from every side. About one half of the surface will be cleared of débris, so as to show fifty feet of the length of the groove, while the other half will remain as it is, beneath the protective covering of gravel, sand, and mud.
Characteristics of Aboriginal American Poetry.—The characteristic feature of the aboriginal poetry of America is defined by Prof. Brinton, in his presidential address to the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia, as repetition. "The same verse may be repeated over and over again; or the wording of the verses may be changed, but each may be accompanied by a burden of refrain which is repeated by the singer or the chorus. These are the two fundamental characteristics of aboriginal poetry, which are found everywhere on the American continent. The refrain is usually interjectional and wholly meaningless; and the verses are often repeated without alteration, four or five times over. These were the simple resources of the native bards. They had one other. In every American language which I have examined for this purpose I have found the existence of a poetic dialect, of a form of speech markedly distinct from that of ordinary life, a phraseology consecrated to the inspiration of the divine afflatus; as the noble old poet, Spenser, expressed it, 'a ladder of the gods.' In this, and in this alone, did the native poets pour out their wild chants. These, I say, were their simple resources. Do not look upon them with contempt. At no time has poetry felt that it could dispense with them"; and —the author draws illustrations of the fact from Poe, Tennyson, and Clarence Mangan. A great many of these American songs "are wholly without intelligible meaning; both verse and refrain are merely interjectional; they are sound and fury, signifying nothing. Such are the war-songs of the Iroquois and many others which I could name. But in defense of these I would ask you to remember that they are sung, not written to be read, and they must be judged by the laws of vocal music. . . . These broken syllables, these choked utterances, these inarticulate cries are the emotional outbursts of sentiment and passion, the oldest, the most heartfelt, the most untutored language of human feeling, the spontaneous revelations of that common nature which makes the whole world kin."
The Salt Marsh of the Kavir.—Lieutenant H. B. Vaughan, who made a journey of 1,164 miles in eastern Persia, thus describes one of the most curious features of the country, the salt swamp of the Kavir: "As we quitted the defile, a sudden turn in the road presented to our astonished gaze what at first sight looked like a vast frozen sea, stretching away to the right as far as the eye could reach in one vast glistening expanse. A more careful examination proved it to be nothing more than salt formed into one immense sheet of dazzling brilliancy, while here and there upon its surface, pools of water, showing up in the most intense blue, were visible. Away to the north of it stood a distant row of low red hills. A peculiar haze, perhaps caused by evaporation, hangs over the whole scene, which, though softening the features of the distant hills, does not obliterate their details. This, which I now see before me, is the great salt swamp, to the presence of which the Dasht-i Kavir owes its name. This swamp, lying at a low level in the center of the great desert, receives into its bed the drainage from an immense tract of territory. All the rivers flowing into it are more or less salt, and carry down to it annually a great volume of water. The fierce heat of the desert during the summer months causes a rapid evaporation, the result being that the salt constantly increases in proportion to the water, until at last the ground becomes caked with it. The Persians say that many years ago a sea rolled its waves over the whole of the depression where I am now traveling, and that it was navigated by ships which used to sail from Semnau to Kashan. My guide told me the following legend: 'One day, many years ago, long before the time of the Prophet, a holy man arrived at Kashan, took a boat, and ordered the man to sail him across to some point or other. The boatman, being of a suspicious turn of mind, insisted on payment of the fare before landing. This condition was accepted, but the amount offered was held insufficient, and a pour boire was demanded in addition. After a dispute the point was yielded, and the old man said nothing more until he reached the shore, when, taking up a handful of earth from the ground, he threw it into the sea, uttering the words, "Avaricious boatmen shall here ply their trade no more." The sea instantly disappeared, and in its place came the desert as it now stands; while the fish became turned into stones, the boatman who tried to swindle was struck with blindness, and the holy man went on his way rejoicing.' I suggested to my guide that this was rather a severe punishment for so small a fault, and that an earthquake or a severe storm which would have sent all the boatmen to the bottom of the sea might have been sufficient to meet all the requirements of the case. He said he didn't know about that; anyhow, this was the story as he had heard it recounted by his tribe, who had lived on the borders of the desert for ages."
The Leaves of the Tulip Tree.—In the examination of some young plants of the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Mr. Theodor Holm observed that, though their germination did not present anything of particular interest, a peculiar feature appeared in their young foliage leaves. The two or three leaves showed a great similarity among themselves, and at the same time differed from those of the older or full-grown tree. Induced by this discovery to examine the foliage of the mature tree, he found that there was a certain regularity of variation, depending upon the position of the different forms of leaves. It is well known that a great variation exists among the leaves of our recent Liriodendron, on the same tree, and even on the same branch. There are also great differences in the forms of the leaves of fossil species, which many palæobotanists, including Prof. Newberry, regard as being significant of specific distinctions. Mr. Holm believes, and undertakes to show in his paper, that the differences in the foliage between many of the extinct species of Liriodendron are not greater than between a series of leaves from a very young tree or from a branch of an older one of our recent species.
Navajo Burials.—Four methods of disposing of the dead are described by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt as practiced by the Navajo Indians. The commonest method is "cliff-burial," in which the body is removed from the lodge or hogan where the death took place, and is carried to a cañon, deposited in some of the rents or fissures in its sides, and is covered and walled in with pieces of rock and smaller stones. The body is often dressed in the clothes that the person may have possessed and valued during life. A second method is "brush-burial," and is resorted to in cases where illness has been long and no hope of recovery is entertained. The patient is carried to some secluded spot near the camp, surrounded with brush-cuttings as a protection against wild animals, and is either abandoned or fed from time to time by relatives until death comes. A third method is deposition in a grave; and the fourth is "tree-burial." This is extremely rare, so that only one case has come under the author's observation. The body was wrapped in a blanket and carried up into a large piñon tree to a horizontal limb about fifteen feet above the ground. At that point a rude platform had been constructed of dead and broken limbs, the whole so arranged as to support the body firmly in a horizontal position. The burials arc all without ceremonies. The hogan is abandoned or burned immediately after the occurrence of a death within it, and is not in any event occupied by any of the tribe again. The Navajos have a notion that the devil long haunts the locality where death has taken place, and they all shun it. After a burial the party thoroughly wash themselves and make a complete change of clothing. They believe that an evil spirit is at the bottom of everything that has to do with death, and rarely speak of their dead for fear of offending him; and it has been said that one of these Indians will freeze to death rather than build a fire for himself out of the logs of a hogan in which one of their number has died. They are very jealous of any desecration of their dead; and Dr. Shufeldt was exposed to much danger in trying to get some of their skulls for scientific purposes.
Dances of the Passamaquoddy Indians.—In the snake dance of the Passamaquoddy Indians, as described by J. Walter Fewkes, in his paper on the folk lore of the tribe, the leader or singer begins by moving about the room in a stooping posture, shaking in his hand a rattle made of horn, beating the ground with one foot. He peers into every corner of the room, either seeking the snake or inciting the onlookers to take part, meanwhile singing the first part of the song. Then he goes to the middle of the room, and, calling out one after another of the auditors, seizes his hands. The two participants dance round the room together. Then another person grasps the hands of the first, and others join, until there is a continuous line of men and women, alternate members of the chain facing in opposite directions, and all grasping each other's hands. The chain then coils back and forth and round the room, and at last forms a closely pressed spiral, tightly coiled together, with the leader in the middle. At first the dancers have their bodies bent over in a stooping attitude, but, as the dance goes on and the excitement increases, they rise to an erect posture, especially as near the end they coil around the leader with the horn rattles, who is concealed from sight by the dancers. They call on the spectators to follow them, with loud calls mingled with the music; these cries now become louder and more boisterous, and the coil rapidly unwinds, moving more and more quickly, until some one of the dancers, being unable to keep up, slips and falls; then the chain is broken, and all with loud shouts, often dripping with perspiration, return to their seats. The last part of this dance resembles a play among boys known as "snap the whip." This dance is performed at weddings and other festive occasions, and is said to derive its name from the sinuous course of the dancers. In the trade dance the participants, one or more in number, go to the wigwam of another person, and when near the entrance sing a song. The leader then enters, and, dancing about, sings a continuation of the song he sang at the door of the hut. He then points out some object in the room which he wants to buy, and offers a price for it. The owner is obliged to sell the object pointed out, or to barter something of equal value. Passamaquoddy Indians are believers in a power by which a song sung in one place can be heard in another many miles away. This power is thought to be due to m'toulin, or magic, which plays an important part in their belief. The folk stories of the Passamaquoddies are but little known to the boys and girls of the tribe. It is mostly from the old and middle-aged persons that these stories can be obtained. The author was told by one of these story-tellers that it was customary, when he was a boy, to reward them for collecting wood, or for performing other duties, with stories.
What constitutes a Filth Disease?—Summing up, in the Sanitarian, his observations in answer to the question, "What constitutes a filth disease?" Dr. S. W. Abbott concludes that a filth disease is one in relation to which filth in some form or other, either wet or dry, plays the part of an important factor only in its causation, but is not itself the direct cause; that it acts either as a favorable soil for the propagation of disease germs (other favorable conditions also existing), or as a suitable medium or vehicle for the transmission of the particular contagium from the sick to the well. The filth which promotes the spread of infectious diseases is specific filth, and the importance of removing all filth lies in the fact that thereby we are sure to remove the specific filth, or that which contains the germs of infectious disease. The point to be emphasized is, that when filth is removed it should be done with the principle in view that filth is a condition rather than a cause, that it is the soil for the culture and transmission of infection, and not the infection itself; and that, just so far as the principle of infection is deprived of its proper soil, so far is one of the most important conditions of its growth and' propagation removed. In sanitation, careful watching and provision against the introduction of infectious disease, isolation of the sick, disinfection of houses, clothing, and other associated material are as essential as the removal of dirt.
The Special Talent to be cultivated.—The Workingman's School of the United Relief Works of the Society for Ethical Culture was founded in 1878, to be a free Kindergarten for the children of the poorer classes in the tenement-house district of the city. It has now between three hundred and four hundred pupils, with three grammar, three primary, and three Kindergarten classes, and owns a substantial five-story building for its class-rooms and shops. Besides the ordinary branches, its course of study embraces manual and art work, elementary natural science, gymnastics, and music, etc., and a Kindergarten normal department. After two years it was decided to attempt the development of the Kindergarten principle, "learning by doing," in such a way that it might become the basis for a complete course of study in a regular school covering the ages from the sixth to the fourteenth year. The school is not a trade school, nor is it adapted only to the needs of a particular class. It aims to give its pupils, be they rich or poor, an education calculated to bring all their faculties into harmonious play. The chief merit of the manual work is its educational value. Trades are not taught, but shopwork, modeling, needlework, etc., have been introduced as so many aid3 to cultivation and development of every kind. And thus, says the report, "we believe that one of the worst evils of conventional 'schooling' has been done away with. For our experience has clearly shown, that the standard of education, heretofore universally accepted, which makes the literary progress of a pupil the principal test of his mental capacity, is altogether false. Literary ability is a special talent, as much as is proficiency in music or in any of the fine arts. And as there are many persons who have not the slightest gift in these directions, so are there many who can not write a pleasing essay or letter, or appreciate the style of a great author; yet the unmusical man may be a clever and successful business man, and the non-literate man may become a great artist or develop genius in some other direction. In fact, many a man who in his boyhood found it difficult to adapt himself to the literary standard of the school has broken his way to fame and success by means of talents of which his pedantic teachers had not the faintest inkling. . . . In our school we have had and yet have pupils who seem to be still incapable of acquiring the art of composition or even the lesser grace of correct orthography. Some of these have been with us only a short time, and we are therefore not responsible for their deficiencies; but some have been pupils of the school from the Kindergarten up, and have received the same careful training as the others, yet they lag behind in language. Nevertheless, some of these non-literate pupils do admirable work in other branches. It has been noticed that in the case of these children proficiency in manual training and art work, and in natural history, usually go together. They exhibit the liveliest interest in these branches, and their inner life appears to be rich, while their faculty of expression is only a stammering. With such pupils the greatest patience must be exercised. After they have developed their peculiar bent, and are encouraged by their success in the manual branches, they gradually gain-better control of tongue and pen."
Systematic Begging.—The business of begging is better organized in Paris than in American cities. A large association exists there, calling itself the Paris Syndicate of Professional Mendicants. The managing committee assigns posts to its members, protects them from competition, collects their receipts once or twice a day, and pays each one his proportion of the general profits once a week. The proper income of each post is accurately known, and any " embezzlement " is quickly detected and punished. A certain percentage of the receipts is retained for the general expenses of the syndicate and for a reserve fund. A lodging-house has been bought with this fund, and the remainder is invested in shares and bonds. There is no sick or burial fund—the sick are best able to excite charity, and when they become actually disabled there are the free hospitals; while the funerals of the poor are paid for by the state. Why should the professional mendicants waste their money on these things, when the tax-payers will provide them? The alleys in the Champs-Elysées are good posts for picturesque-looking old men. On a good day such should collect from thirty to forty francs each—six to eight dollars. One veteran used to get as his share of the division over seventeen dollars a week. He has now retired. The better class of mendicants look forward to saving enough to buy a cottage in the country, and living thereafter on an annuity, while the good-for nothings spend their income in sottish debauchery. The Municipal Council, after an investigation, recently decided to tolerate the existence of the syndicate.
The Soaring Puzzle.—Marey, the author of Animal Mechanism, has recently published a book on The Flight of Birds, in which he gives an answer to the much-debated question as to how birds soar. Many persona have wondered at the power possessed by birds—especially the large birds of prey—of moving against a breeze without a flap of their wings. This has been regarded as like a log thrown into a river floating against the stream. Birds when soaring fly in circles or ellipses, which appear to observers below to lie in horizontal planes. But Bakounine discovered that these ellipses were inclined—the forward end being the lower. Taking this with the fact that a head-wind is a necessary condition, M. Marey concludes that each strong gust of wind, striking the bird's wings at an angle, raises it and wafts it backward, until the wind lessening somewhat permits the bird, by changing the slant of its wings slightly, to glide forward and downward with the force due to its elevated position. One side of an ellipse is described as the bird is carried upward and backward, the other as it advances and descends. This theory makes the circling and soaring depend on variations in the force of the wind. But even when the breeze is steady birds seem to have the power of modifying its action by shifting the angle at which their wings are presented to it.
United States Division of Forestry.—Chief-of-division B. E. Fernow, in his report on Forestry, gives as the chief object of the establishment of the division the prospective danger to the future of wood-supplies arising from the heavy drains to which our virgin forests are subjected without any provision for recuperation or reforestation; the destructive nature of the measures now used for utilizing the natural forest areas; and the desirability, for the sake of climatic amelioration, of encouraging tree-growth on the treeless areas of the West and on regions of the East that have been made treeless. The capacity of yield of our present wooded area is estimated to be only half of the present computed consumption. In addition to the estimates we have reports from various manufacturers noticing the decline of supplies of particular kinds. It is thus obvious that the present rate of consumption is greatly in excess of the supply. The effect of unwise denudation upon soil, water-flow, and climatic conditions has been made a continued study, in the light of experiments and experiences in other countries rather than in our own. The results of Prof. Harrington's investigations into the literature of the subject are to be published. There are three methods open by which the Government can promote a change in present forest conditions: by placing its own timber holdings under rational treatment; by direct aid to those who would apply forestry principles in caring for the natural woodlands or in creating new forest areas; and by supplying information. The effort to promote timber-culture by offering free entries of land for planting one sixteenth of it in trees has not been successful. Bona fide settlers have failed, through unfavorable climatic conditions and ignorance of method and of plant material suited to the localities, to obtain the required stand of trees. A modification of the law, rather than its repeal, is suggested. Information has been supplied by the division in circulars, bulletins, addresses, papers, and informal talks to associations and meetings. Among the publications were circulars giving instructions for the growing of seedlings and for the treatment of seedlings in the nursery. The most important publication was one on the substitution of metal for wood in railroad ties. A check list of our forest trees is in preparation as a means in securing uniformity in nomenclature; and an examination is planned of our prominent timbers in regard to their technical and physical properties in order to ascertain, if possible, how far these properties depend upon the conditions under which the trees are grown, how far physical properties influence mechanical properties, and whether a simple method can not be devised of determining the quality of timber by gross examination of structure.
Forest in Hungary.—Of the 9,200,000 hectares (about 22,000,000 acres) of forest in Hungary, the Government owns about 1,500,000 hectares (or 3,500,000 acres), while the rest belongs to public bodies and private persons. The Government does not sell any part of its forests, but buys more each year. In some parts of the country, as in the eastern region of the Carpathians, woods are found of several thousand acres in extent, consisting for the most part of red beech. This is used for fire-wood, carriages, staves, and agricultural implements, and in the manufacture of bent wood. There are few fires, and they seldom permanently damage the woods. There are large resinous forests in Transylvania, but they are not very accessible; and there are also some in the district of Marmaros, in the northeast of the country.
International Selfishness.—The tidal wave of high tariffs that seems to be passing around the globe at the present time reveals an attitude of many peoples toward neighboring countries which is little better than that existing between communities during the most quarrelsome ages of history. The advocates of restrictive tariffs are not onlv zealous to increase sales for their own people, but positively exult when they reduce those of foreigners. And, when one nation has injured another in this way, that other is now very likely to strike back by means of "retaliatory legislation." Americans and Europeans have sunk to the morality of the Chinese, who regard the sufferings of all but themselves with amusement and pride, and any one who talks of neighborliness and consideration for other nations is set down as too sentimental to meddle with practical affairs. Strange to say, the fact that foreign workmen are in want and misery has been urged as a reason for trying to injure them further. Even the socialists, who proclaim the brotherhood and equal rights of man, are very apt to limit these principles by geographical boundaries. But the further a pendulum swings from the upright position, the sooner its return may be expected. Hence it is quite likely that a new era is soon to dawn, in which humanity shall no longer be dominated by geography.
Dry Denudation.—Dry denudation is shown by Prof. Johannes Walther, in his book on Denudation in the Desert, to be a process of considerable geological importance. The author points out that no part of the African desert is absolutely rainless, and that, as the storms, though rare, are heavy, the mechanical effects of water are more marked than they would be in a region where precipitation was more uniform. But in a desert, where the absence of plants and of soil exposes the rock to the effects of atmospheric variations, changes of temperature are yet more potent in causing denudation. These changes, owing to the dryness of the air, are very great. The diurnal range may be 30º C, and the annual range as much as 70º C. By the constant expansion and contraction due to these variations, the rocks are split, and the results are more important in producing denudation than are chemical changes. Illustrations are given to show how rock-masses in the desert are destroyed by heat and cold, wind, and drifting sand. The surfaces of old walls are corroded; strata of different hardness in the face of a cliff are worn back unequally; masses of rock are isolated, and the blocks and pillars are carved into strange forms; denudation, in short, seems to proceed as actively in a desert as in a damp climate, and along very much the same lines. Isolated hills of tabular form are also characteristic of desert denudation. Such hills may be either on a large scale—outlines of an extensive plateau—or on a small one, like models, but a few feet high. In each case the cause is the same: a harder stratum at the top has preserved the softer material below. The author also describes the valleys of the desert, usually dry, and the cirques which, as was pointed out some years since by Mr. Jukes Browne, seem to occur in the deserts of Egypt even as in regions where ice may be supposed to have acted. "The description of the latter forms is important," writes T. G. B. in Nature, "since it indicates that there is not that necessary connection between glaciers and cirques which some geologists seem to have imagined."
The Teacher's True Power.—The extreme elaboration of system in school, says State Superintendent Sabin, of Iowa, gives us symmetry and uniformity, but it is at the expense of growth. It promotes smoothness, prevents friction, and furthers exactness of detail, but it crushes out all life, energy, freshness, and enthusiasm, and exalts itself to the chief place in the school. The child is forgotten in the worship and homage which is paid to the system. We sometimes speak of teaching the child to think. It is as natural for a child to think as it is for a tree to grow. It is not the part of the teacher to wake up the mind, but to avoid putting it to sleep. Give the child the same freedom to think and observe that the street Arab has in his games, only guide him with skill; take advantage of his curiosity and wonder; take advantage also of what he already knows, and do not attempt to teach over again what he has already learned, and he will startle you by his progress, and by the readiness with which he will profit under your instruction. There is no place in which the individuality of the teacher can so make itself felt, and in which the individuality of the child is so thoroughly alive, as in the primary room. The author does not object to the rigid examination in the case of young teachers; but, when that is once passed, the only conditions imposed upon the teacher should be enthusiasm, life, growth. When these are absent, the teacher is dead. Knowledge, to be of any value to the teacher, must become a permanent, increasing, living force in his work and character. Knowledge which is non-productive is dead. Knowledge which is alive, which strengthens the memory, which guides the judgment, which enlightens the reason, which fortifies the will—this is the knowledge which, acting through his individuality, makes the teacher a power in the school.
Hand-marks.—M. Bertillon, of the Paris police, has devised a method of identification by photography of parts of human bodies. The hand being the part that is usually most affected by the occupation, series of photographs of hands have been taken, which may be compared with whole figures of the same workmen at their work. They show the effect upon the organ of friction from tools in use. From the hands of the navvy all the secondary lines disappear, and a peculiar callosity is developed at the spot rubbed by the spade-handle. The hands of tin-plate workers are covered with little crevasses produced by the acids employed. The hands of lace-makers are smooth, but they have blisters full of serum on the back and callosities on the front part of the shoulder, due to the friction of the straps of the loom. The thumb and the first joints of the index-finger of metal-workers show large blisters, while the left hand has scars made by the sharp fragments of steel.
Tea-culture.—According to a Society of Arts lecture by Richard Bannister, tea is derived from the cultivation of two species of tea plants, the Chinese and the Assamese. Hybrids of various degrees between these two form a great proportion of the plants usually grown. In the tea-garden the plant is kept down to from three to six feet in height; in a state of nature it reaches thirty or forty feet, with a stem one foot in diameter. The seed, which is inclosed in a hard, round shell, ripens about one year after the flower has faded. Planting is done either direct from the seed itself, or from nurseries where the young plants can be watched carefully and tended till they are strong enough to take their places in the plantation. Tea grows on almost all soils, but one that is light, friable, and rich is necessary for complete success. Close planting is recommended—viz., four feet apart—equivalent to 2,722 shrubs per acre. On steep slopes the Chinese variety may be planted closer—two feet by three and a half feet, or 6,223 plants per acre. A good deal of care must be devoted to pruning, with the object of keeping the shrub well spread and at a convenient height for picking. A tea plant is picked as the successive "flushes" occur. A flush is the throwing out of new shoots and leaves, the latter of which form the tea of commerce. The average flushing period is from seven to nine months, and the intervals between flushes vary from seven to fourteen days. The number of flushes ranges from eighteen, where no manure is used, to twenty-five in good soil. To a certain extent, the harder a tea plant is picked, the more it becomes stimulated to reproduce new shoots in the place of those lost. When the season is over, the tea bush is from three and a half to four feet in height and about five feet in diameter; pruning down, its height is reduced to two feet and its diameter to three feet. In this state it remains during hibernation. In the spring the buds at the base of the leaves develop into shoots, the buds of which develop themselves in the same way. The first shoot from the branch becomes the nucleus of subsequent flushes on that part of the bush, and is therefore carefully preserved. The youngest leaves give the best tea.
Making Incandescent Lamps.—An incandescent or glow lamp consists, according to Major-General Webber, from the manufacturing point of view, of the filament, the wire mount, or conductor, and the glass bulb. Inventors, seeking a highly refractory substance out of which to make the filaments, have all ended in using carbon of either a fibrous or an amorphous consistency. The form of the filament has been governed by the need to hold within a bulb of given size a carbon of a given length. The filament must have a uniform section, and that is most certainly obtained in those which are formed by squirting a viscous solution of cellulose into a precipitating solution. The filament material is wound upon blocks of carbon and baked under great heat. Uniformity in resistance, securing equal consumption of current, of surface, and of incandescence, is also indispensable. To "flash" the filament for resistance, it is lowered into a glass chamber full of a hydrocarbon gas; it is heated by an electric current, and the carbon in the gas is deposited on the heated surface. In mounting the filaments, the important condition is to obtain a perfect electrical contact or joint between the metal and the carbon, and this is a very delicate point. The soldering is effected by electrically heating the joint in a vessel containing a liquid hydrocarbon surrounding, under such condition that the current shall pass through no part of the filament but the joint. Conditions opposite to those of an ordinary light are sought in inserting the filament in the bulb. Not rapid combustion but constant endurance of heating is wanted, and air is carefully removed by exhausting the bulb to one millionth of an atmosphere. In work, during the first two hundred hours of the life of the filament, the electrical resistance decreases slightly, and the brilliancy increases; for the next five hundred hours they are nearly stationary; after that, resistance increases and brilliancy decreases in a progressive ratio. The light is dimmed also by the gradual roughening of the surface of the filament and by the blackening of the glass from the deposition of carbon upon it.
Economical Plants of Australia.—With the exception of timbers, the economic vegetable products of Australia, as presented in Mr. Maiden's book on the Useful Plants of that country, are not of extraordinary importance. The northern regions, where the flora is re-enforced by representatives from the Malayan Archipelago and southern Asia, yield most of the plants possessing medicinal properties. The genus Eucalyptus, comprising more than one hundred and thirty species, yields excellent timber, kinos, and essential oils. Eucalyptus gunnii yields a sweetish sap which is converted by the settlers into excellent cider. This and manna, from two other species, are probably the only food products derived from eucalyptus trees Oil from Eucalyptus amygdalin and Eucalyptus globulus is prepared in Australia and also in Algeria and California. In California it is available as a by-product in the manufacture of anticalcaire preparations for boilers. The acacias of Australia, locally known as wattles, are hardly less useful than the gum trees. Immense numbers of them are destroyed for the sake of the bark used in tanning, and the leaves are greedily eaten by stock. By the operation of these two causes they are becoming scarce in some districts, and systematic attempts are now made to plaut them on a large scale. Gum arabic of good quality is yielded by various species of acacia, but can not be profitably collected in the present condition of the labor market. Water is obtained by the natives for drinking, when springs fail, from the fleshy roots of a tree known botanically as Hakea leucoptera and from the stem of Vitis hypoglauca. Very few native Australian trees yield valuable fibers. The native mode of extracting fibers for their fishing-nets is by chewing with their teeth, and by this the teeth are "worn down to a dead level." The best fodder grass of Australia is the plant commonly known as "kangaroo grass."
Mistakes about Bearings.—Mistakes in orientation—sometimes of the most puzzling character—are usually the result of some incidental and temporary bewilderment, and may under peculiar circumstances overtake any one. Some instances have been cited by Sir Charles Warren in which they are chronic and may afflict even the best informed persons. Erroneous conceptions formed by children as to distances and positions may grow up with them undetected till near maturity. Then, when the discovery is made, it is too late to apply any better remedy than to recognize the error and make allowance for it when possible. Cases are cited of a person whose ideas of certain parts of London were all inverted; of another, who placed Paris north of London; of thirty well-informed young men, "about eighteen were under the impression that, while the sun rises in the east, the stars rise in the west, from having learned that the sun has a proper motion among the stars; and the author believes that there are few educated men who have not grown up with some curious errors with reference to geographical facts, which have bothered them all their lives, and which they have found it to be impossible to get rid of." This defect may account for some of the accidents that occur on railways and shipping.
Mexican Leather.—A report of the Belgian minister in Mexico shows that the export of leathers from that country is increasing, and on account of the favorable Conditions for cattle-raising that exist there is likely to continue to advance. The trade is just now suffering from the careless and defective manner in which the hides are treated before shipment. The trade in alligator-skins is capable of great development, and promises all the elements of a lucrative industry, because alligators or caymans are abundant in all the lagoons and cost nothing. Nearly all the parts of this animal are used. The teeth are made up, in conjunction with gold, into ornaments and articles of jewelry, which find a ready sale; medical properties are ascribed to the oil, and it is highly appreciated for the manufacture of soap; but the most important part is the skin, which is very strong and handsomely marked, and is used for shoes, bags, and fancy articles. The skin of the iguana also has a value, but is less consistent than that of the cayman.
Mesopotamian Peoples.—The population of southern Mesopotamia is divided by Dr. B. Moritz into three classes. The Bedouins of the desert live in dwellings made of black goat's hair, possess "wonderfully large" herds of sheep and camels, and pursue cattle-lifting as a national sport. The second class—the dwellers along the rivers and canals—form the settled agricultural element, and, although enjoying the smallest area of country, are the most numerous class of the population. They live in reed huts, which are a cross between the tent of the nomads and the permanent house. At the time of the great inundations they frequently leave their abodes and seek other places of residence, where the conditions as regards the waters are more favorable. Many also proceed in the summer into the desert, and only return in the winter to at tend to their fields. Rice, barley, and wheat are cultivated. Rotten fish forms also a chief article of food. The third class of the population are the inhabitants of the marshes, whose sole employment is the pasturing of their buffaloes. They are human amphibia, who, like their cattle, subsist on the lower parts of the reeds and rushes, and, as a rule, wear only a felt cap, stiff with dirt, on their heads; they are otherwise generally unclothed. They live in little rush huts which are frequently situated in an impenetrable morass. Their civilization is an indescribably low one.
Cultivation of Lemons in Sicily.—The ever-bearing lemon of Sicily, according to the consular reports, produces blossoms and lemons every month in the year. Lemons are known as true and bastard. The "true" lemon is produced by the April and May blossoms, the "bastard" by the irregular blooms of February, March, June, and July, which depend upon the rainfall or regular irrigation and the intensity of the heat. The true lemon requires nine months—from May to January—to reach maturity. A first harvest of fruit takes place in November, when the lemons are green-colored and not fully ripe. These are the most highly prized and can be kept in the warehouses till March, and sometimes May, when they are shipped. A second lot is harvested in December and January, but these must be shipped within three weeks. The fruit of the third harvest, which occurs in March and April, is shipped at once, and enjoys the benefit of the high spring prices. The bastard lemons may be known by the peculiarities in their size and appearance. They are hard, rich in acid, and seedless; will remain on the tree a year, and sell well in summer; and some will remain on the trees for eighteen months. Four times more lemons than oranges are raised in Sicily, and the cultivation is thirty per cent more profitable.
Parasites of Hospitals.—The Abuse of a Great Charity is the title of a paper by Dr. George M. Gould on the greed with which the advantages of gratuitous hospital practice are sought by outdoor patients who are able to pay for treatment but are willing to "get something for nothing." Among the baneful results of the abuse are counted the encouragement of pauperism, dependence, and deceit in a large class already too prone to depend upon the state or charity instead of prudence or self-help; injury to the patient, from the hurried nature of the diagnosis which the physician is compelled to make, with the crowd pressing upon him; and to the physician, from the carelessness into which he is led; and degradation of the profession, by turning its practice into a sort of medical "free-lunch counter," by encouraging envy and subtle methods of advertising, and by the injustice of the system to younger and country practitioners. The author suggests a number of alternative remedies for the evil.