Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/April 1892/Popular Miscellany
The Peabody Museum of Archæology.—The Peabody Museum of American Archæology has received for current expenses since 1881, when the first gift was made to it, $27,801. The gifts amounted to an average of $3,089 a year. The permanent fund for the support of the museum gives an income of $2,376 a year. At no time has so much interest been taken in the work of the museum or in aid of its explorations as during the past two years. Important additions have been made to the building, and improvements in the arrangement of the collections. Among the results of the various works arc additional discoveries of palæolithic implements in the Trenton gravel by Dr. Abbott, and of others from the older or Columbian gravel by Dr. Cresson; discoveries by Mr. Ernest Volk in relation to the early people of the Delaware Valley; explorations by the curator of burial places of Massachusetts Indians at Winthrop; of Seneca Indians in the Genesee Valley; and of village sites of Indians in the Potomac Valley, with recovery of chipped stones and implements in various stages of manufacture from an ancient workshop. The Serpent Mound Park has been completed, and the hay crop and the discriminate cutting of timber from parts of the land will help bear the expense of maintaining it. A collection and several important objects have been received from Mexico, Yucatan, and Santo Domingo; crania of Zuñi and of a Tierra del Fuegian; the sacred pole of the Omaha Indians, with the scalps of noted enemies of the tribe, the sacred pipe, arrows, etc.; Peruvian pottery and pottery vessels, stone implements, and carved stones from Chiriqui; implements, weapons, masks, etc., from New Guinea and several islands of the Pacific; casts of M. Desiré Charnay's collections of the Lorillard Expedition to Yucatan and Mexico; and copper implements from the province of Tobasco, Mexico, which will form an important link in the chain of evidence upon the working of stone in Mexico and Central America. Continued explorations in the Little Miami Valley have resulted in the discovery of some ancient hearths half a mile below the Turner earthworks, which furnish evidence of the occupation of the bottom lands at different intervals during the formation of the deposit that fills the valley. The Turner earthwork has now been thoroughly explored; more so, perhaps, than any earthwork in the country. In the last mound examined, large flint points of peculiar shape, handles made of antlers, and specimens of the objects called gorgets made from a stalagmitic or fibrous gypsum, were found—all unique. Another curious work has been examined at Foster's, about twenty miles above the Turner group. It is a circumvallation more than half a mile in extent, made up of a carefully laid wall of flat stones, loose stones behind it, and behind and over these a mass of clay burned to all degrees of hardness. The curator pronounces it one of the most remarkable structures he has ever seen. Lectures and instructions have been delivered on some of the subjects cherished by the museum, and an outline of a course of American archæology and ethnology for advanced students is published in the report. The most important of the later gifts is one by Mrs. Mary Copley Thaw, of Pittsburg, for a fellowship fund, of which Miss Alice C. Fletcher is to be the first beneficiary.
The Harvard Observatory Time-Service.—In giving notice of the discontinuance, after the end of March, of the time-service furnished by Harvard College Observatory, Prof. Pickering has taken occasion to give a brief history of the operation of this branch of the observatory's work. It has been maintained for nearly twenty years, and has given continuous signals—that is, signals throughout the twenty-four hours, instead of for a short time each day—to the cities of Boston and Cambridge, the railroads centering in Boston, and the Western Union Telegraph Company. Through the latter agencies the signals were distributed over a large part of New England and to New York city. The subscriptions of the city of Boston and the railroads, and the receipts from jewelers who timed their clocks by the signals, were sufficient to defray the cost of furnishing the exact time, and for some years formed a source of revenue to the observatory, while no charge was made to the city of Cambridge or the Western Union Telegraph Company. The observatory was one of the foremost and most earnest promoters of the adoption of standard time, although its revenues were likely to be diminished by it. One of the greatest advantages of the time-service to the observatory was that it kept before the public the practical value of astronomical work. Many thousands of persons, who take no interest in a work of a purely scientific character, realize the great financial value to the public of an accurate standard of time. The observatory desired to confer this benefit on the public, and would have been ready to do so, even at a financial loss; but recently the time signals of the United States Naval Observatory have been offered to the public at very low rates, through the Western Union Telegraph Company, and the Harvard College Observatory is relieved of the duty. The expense of furnishing the time is borne by the people through a Government appropriation. A time-service, under which the people at large within its sphere were supplied at the expense of a few who received special benefits from it, gives way to a system under which these special interests are supplied free by taxation of the whole people.
Preservation of Delicately Colored Specimens.—A mounting fluid for specimens compounded by Mr. Haly, of the Colombo Museum, Ceylon, proves to be also an excellent medium for preserving the colors of fish and other animals. It is composed of cocoanut oil and carbolic acid. The most tender frogs and snakes, the delicate plum-like bloom on the geckoes, the fugitive reddish tint on certain snakes, are not injured but are beautifully preserved by it. Preserved fish-skins can be packed away in it for an indefinite period, and, although they do not preserve their sheen like fish in the oil itself, they maintain a silvery and natural appearance, very different from that of ordinary museum specimens. It appears to be an excellent preservative for crustacea, the higher orders of arachnids and centipeds, but has hitherto proved a failure for marine invertebrates in general. The perfect miscibility of the two liquids opens up endless possibilities. The absolutely unevaporable nature of the liquid, apart from its other qualities, makes it invaluable in a tropical climate. The acid makes it possible to mix cocoanut oil and turpentine, and thus is formed a splendid microscopic fluid, in which objects may be allowed to soak, without any previous preparation, and in which they become very transparent.
Cultivation of the Bermuda Onion.—The Bermuda onion is raised, according to Mr. Russell Hastings, in Garden and Forest, in a temperature which from November to June ranges from 50° to 75°, never higher, never lower, with never a greater monthly range than 25°, or a greater daily range than 14°. Its value lies in its mild and delicate flavor. a3 well as in the unusual season at which it is fresh. The seed is all grown in Teneriffe Island, of two varieties, one producing white and the other red bulbs. The white bulbs are a little earlier, but the red ones are sweeter. The seed is sown very thickly in seed-beds—the soil of which has been prepared with special care and highly enriched—from the last of September till early in November. The plants are transplanted in December and January. The fields are little pockets of earth scattered here and there over the island, in depressions between the rocks. They seldom contain an area of more than two acres, and the larger proportion of them contain less than half an acre. The soil is carefully prepared and laid out, by treading paths into beds about three feet wide, into which the little plants, about as large as a goose-quill, are transplanted from the seed-beds. The whole number of acres cultivated on the island of Bermuda in the winter of 1890-'91, in onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and beets, was 2,422.
Manufacture of Silk Gauzes.—Silk gauzes are manufactured by a special method distinct from all other modes of weaving, in which, according to M. G. Henneberg, of Zurich, the first consideration is the selection, from among the best brands of raw silk, that which will give the most uniform and the firmest twist. The twist is obtained by spinning two threads, one upon the other, about a thousand turns to the metre of length. When the threads intended for the chain have been stretched uniformly with the most delicate care, to prevent a premature wearing away (which occurs when the tension is unequal, by the two light threads snapping) each of the threads of the chain is passed separately between two meshes of the weaving harness, and between the teeth of the comb or of extremely fine steel. To show how carefully this work must be done, we mention that a steel comb used in weaving a gauze one metre wide, No. 17, has 6,517 teeth, with as many spaces between them. Next is the preparation of the chain for the operation of weaving, by moistening it with soft brushes. Some of the valleys of eastern Switzerland, on account of their elevated position and special climatic and atmospheric conditions, seem particularly well adapted to the weaving of a strong twist, exceptionally brittle and hard. The weavers do their work in couples or threes in specially constructed cellars abundantly lighted and aired, the temperature of which should be kept nearly the same—about 50° Fahr.—through the whole year, and the moisture seventy-five per cent. Whenever a notable variation in temperature takes place, the weaving should be stopped till a favorable change occurs. The weaver should be a strong, hearty man, because the management of the loom demands much skill and a more than ordinary toughness of body. When the piece is done, it is washed, stretched on a frame to dry, and dried by drawing a pan of hot coals back and forth under it. Silk gauze must be kept in perfectly dry and well-aired places.
Habits of the Wandering Albatross.—Of the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) a Mr. Harris, who has carefully studied it, says that at a certain time of the year, between February and Juno, the old birds leave their young and go to sea, not to return till October, when they arrive in large numbers. During their absence the young birds never leave the breeding-ground. Immediately after the return of the old birds, each pair goes to its old nest, and, after a little fondling of the young one, turns it out and prepares the nest for the next brood. The deserted young ones are in good condition and very lively, being frequently seen off their nests exercising their wings; and when the old birds come back, a young bird will often remain outside of the nest and nibble at the head of the old one, until the feathers between the beak and the eye are removed, and the skin is made sore. The young birds do not go far from land till the following year, when they accompany the older ones to sea.
Railway Accidents for 1889-'90.—According to the statistics of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the total number of passengers, employés, and other persons not trespassers, who suffered death or injury on railroads in the United States during the year ending June 30, 1890, was 29,196, of whom about five sixths were employés. The number of casualties to employés was greater by 2,845 than in 1888-'89, and greater by 2,627 than in 1887-'88. The number of casualties to passengers was 255 greater than in 1888'89, and 258 greater than in 1887-'88. In each class the number killed is about one tenth of the number injured. The largest number of casualties occur to employés engaged directly in handling trains. Thus, while trainmen represent but 20 per cent of the total number of employés, the casualties sustained by them account for 58 per cent of total casualties. A passenger riding continuously at the rate of 30 miles an hour might expect immunity from death by railway accident for 158 years; but an engineer, a brakeman, or a conductor, under the same conditions, is liable to a fatal accident at the expiration of 35 years. The most common accident to which railway employés are liable results from coupling and uncoupling cars. Railway travel is found to be least safe in the States south of the Potomac and Ohio Elvers. In the Western territory railway employment and travel are slightly safer than in the Southern States, while the smallest proportion of accidents occur in the States east of Illinois and north of the Potomac and Ohio.
The Power of Water in Motion.—After an elaborate series of computations. Prof. Samuel B. Christy, of the University of California, concludes that if a nozzle of from six to nine inches diameter were specially arranged to throw a stream of water vertically upward against a spherical bowlder of quartz weighing 1,000 pounds, the vertical head being anywhere from 100 to 500 feet, the bowlder would be forced up until the diminished velocity of the stream established an equilibrium of pressures. There would be a point at which the upward pressure of the stream would exactly balance the gravity pressure of the bowlder, holding the rock suspended. In practice, of course, the bowlder could not be balanced accurately upon the axis of the stream, but would fall to one side or the other. But if a large conical basket of iron bars were arranged about the nozzle so as to catch the bowlder whenever it should be deflected from the stream, and return it to the nozzle, the 1,000 pounds of quartz would be kept in play like a ball in a fountain. As to cutting these streams. Prof. Christy says that he has often tried to drive a crowbar into one of them. The stream felt as solid as a bar of iron, and, although he could feel the point of the crowbar enter the water for perhaps half an inch, the bar was thrown forward with such force that it was almost impossible to retain it in the grasp. An axe swung by the most powerful man could not penetrate the stream; yet, it might be cut by the finger of a child, provided the child were seated in a railway train moving parallel with the stream in the same direction and with the same velocity, which would be considerably more than a mile per minute.
Chinese Roads.—According to a communication by the United States minister in Pekin, road-making has not been brought to great perfection among the Chinese. The country abounds in water-ways, and roads receive the less attention. Human carriers being cheaper than beasts of burden, the need of roads over the mountain passes Is not so seriously felt as it otherwise would be. In southern China, at the centers of the tea trade, the long string of coolies bearing down from the hills the leaves, in deep baskets slung on poles, is a familiar sight. In northern China, where water-ways are not so numerous as in the south, intercommunication has always presented serious difficulties, which no attempt has been made to overcome. Bridges have been built over some smaller streams, but are not kept in repair. The large rivers are to be crossed by ferries only, the smaller ones to be forded. In some places there are bridges, too narrow to be crossed by carts, where the mules are taken out and led singly, while the carts are carried over on men's shoulders. In times of flood there is frequently no way of crossing. Intelligence is conveyed between the capital and outside provinces by an elaborate system of post stations thirty miles apart, where relays of horses are kept in readiness for the imperial courier. By these means dispatches have been sent to distant capitals at the rate of two hundred and fifty miles a day. The express courier from Gartok to Darchen, in Thibet, a distance of eight hundred miles, travels night and day, and is not relieved. His clothes are sealed on him, and can be removed only after the seal has been broken by the proper official. The messengers are lifted at the post station from one horse to another, and sometimes die on the way from exposure and fatigue. Over some mountain roads, which would otherwise be impassable, considerable work has been done and money expended. In some places the paths have been paved for foot-passengers, and in others provision has been made for the passage of carts. Most of these roads date from very remote periods, but there are occasional instances of recent construction and repair.
Forest Growth after Fire.—In an article in Zoe, quoted in Garden and Forest, Mr. T. S. Brandagee describes the vegetation that grows on ground over which forest fires have run, particularly in Colorado, Montana, and on the Pacific coast. Trees have a power of resisting fire proportioned to the thickness of their bark. The redwood trees of the forests of the California coast, when they are killed or burned to the ground, send up new shoots from their roots, which soon surround the old stems with a luxuriant growth; the parent stem disappears in time, leaving only the circular groves characteristic of the redwood. The forests of Douglas fir in the coast region of Oregon and Washington destroyed by fire are in time replaced by countless seedlings which under favorable conditions grow very rapidly. The mountainous region is usually more commonly covered with a new growth than regions of lesser altitudes, although the new growth is not always at first the same as that of the original forest. Fire is very apt to destroy in the mountain regions the seeds of conifers, for seedlings do not appear immediately on the site of a coniferous forest, although trees of the original species gradually appear growing under the shade and protection of bushes, aspens, and other plants which first cover the burned ground. That fire is the principal cause of this change of forest composition is shown by the fact that, when the original trees arc cut and fires are excluded, young trees of the same species appear at once. Many of the trees that grow in the regions where fires prevail have the power of reproducing themselves by root-suckers strongly developed. The soil loosened by fire, and enriched by the ashes of the destroyed forests, provides excellent seed-beds for the germination of the seeds of many annual and perennial plants. Hence these California burns often afford the best botanizing grounds in the State; and several otherwise rather local plants are appearing in such situations in much greater numbers and growing much more luxuriantly than they have ever been known to do before. It is not difficult, therefore, to imagine how great an influence this periodical burning of vast forest areas must have upon the composition and spread of the flora of the region.
A Hundred Miles an Hour.—New York Railroad Men publishes a symposium on the possibility of reaching a speed of a hundred miles an hour, and on the modifications in railroad appurtenances that will be required to promote such a result. Mr. J. D. Layng, of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railroad, sees no more difficulty in raising speed to a hundred miles an hour than has been met in increasing it from thirty to sixty; and believes that it will be more difficult to get a track clear for the train than to develop a speed greater than now seems possible. Mr. George H. Thompson, of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, believes that a wide gauge will be necessary to secure the desired speed; "but, after the principles of railroading become better known, an ultimate railroad constructed and operated upon ultimate ideas will obtain. Forces now at work, partly physical, partly ethical, point to a broad gauge, say eight to ten feet. This gauge, outside of its adaptation to economical freight-work, will admit of large drivers, and consequent high-speed acceleration and low piston speeds." Further, Mr. Thompson believes, as a deduction from the doctrine of evolution relating to progress, that high speed will some day be in the usual order of things. Another general manager is hopeful as to high speed; but three other officers do not believe that a hundred miles an hour will be reached in this generation, if ever.
An Ant Mineralogist.—A curious coincidence is observed by M. A. Vercoutre between a statement of Pliny's and the habits of an American species of ant. The Roman naturalist relates that among a tribe in northern India, called the Dardes, ants ex-tract gold from mines, and adds that "metal which they have extracted during the winter, the Indians steal from them in summer when they have retired to their holes to escape the heat." The American ant (Pogonomyrmex occidentalls) which was studied by McCook in 1881, betrayed a similar disposition. When the colony have built their hill as a dome over their galleries, they cover the whole with small stones—fragments of rocks, fossils, minerals, etc., well fitted together in the style of mosaic, for which they go down, after the fashion of miners, to the depth of more than a yard below the surface. Now, as gold sometimes occurs in the region inhabited by these ants, we can easily suppose that their roofs will sometimes glisten with bits of that metal, which the natives might discover and take from them. The curious fact about the matter is, that these American ants are the only species known that correspond with Pliny's description. Had Pliny heard of them, and consequently of America; or did they once inhabit Asia also, and afterward disappear so completely as to be no longer known there? Or did Pliny repeat a traveler's tale, that has waited till this time for verification?
Mediæval Instruments of Torture.—A curious exhibition was held in London last fall of instruments of torture from the royal castle at Nuremberg which had been bought by the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot. With one or two exceptions, such as the "scavenger's daughter," no mediæval instrument of torture appeared to be unrepresented. The principal object of interest was the "iron maiden" (ciserne Jungfrau), which is probably the most terrible instrument of torture ever invented. It is the figure of a woman made of strong wood, bound with iron bands, opening with two doors to allow the prisoner to be placed inside. The interior is fitted with long, sharp iron spikes, which, when the doors are pressed to, forced their way into various parts of the victim's body and inflicted inexpressible agonies upon him till he died a lingering death. A trap-door was then opened in the base, and the body was allowed to fall into the moat or river below. The Scotch "maiden" of the sixteenth century was different from this, and was not an instrument of torture, but a kind of guillotine. Other objects were the racks; the "Spanish donkey," which cut the body into halves; the wheel on which malefactors were broken alive; the small lever with a sharp-toothed thumb and finger screw; the ducking-cage for bakers detected in giving short weight; the iron tongue-tearer, in the shape of a pair of tongs with screw; the Spanish "mouth-pear" or gag; and the yoke in which couples found guilty of acts of immorality were pilloried in the marketplace. Of a different kind of interest are the copper mask worn by the judge of the Vehmgericht, the "drunkard's cloak and helmet," and carvings of Satan that were supposed to have been worshiped by witches. There were also manacles, body-rings, hand-screws, scourges, branding-irons, pillories, stretching-gallows, garters for torturing the legs, spiked collars, heavy chains for fastening prisoners to the wall, "mouth-openers" for slitting the tongues of blasphemers, sieves through which boiling water was poured on to the body, iron rings for fastening up criminals in public places, masks for the punishment of scolds and others, crucifixes which condemned criminals carried on their way to execution, iron mail chain gloves that were made hot before being put on, settles belonging to a torture-chamber, and many other things. A number of old prints accompanying the collection illustrated the application of some of these instruments.
Religious Ideas of Savages.—Having remarked that the conception of the Great Spirit of the North American Indians has been found not to be original with them, but suggested by the early Christian missionaries. Dr. E. B. Tylor proceeded, in a paper before the Anthropological Institute, to show that the mistaken attribution to barbaric races of beliefs really belonging to the cultivated world, as well as their development among these races under civilized influence, are due to several causes. Among them are direct adoption from foreign teachers; the exaggeration of genuine native deities of a lower order into a god or devil; the conversion of native words, denoting a whole class of minor spiritual beings, such as ghosts or demons, into individual names, alleged to be those of a supreme good deity or of a rival evil deity. Detailed criticism of the names and descriptions of such beings in accounts of the religions of native tribes of America and Australasia was adduced, which gave in many cases direct proof of the beliefs in question being borrowed or developed under foreign influence. The problems involved in the discussion are of great difficulty, and the only hope for their full solution in many cases lies in the researches of anthropologists and philologists minutely acquainted with the culture and languages of the districts. Such researches should be carried out without delay, before important evidence, still available, has disappeared.
Character and the Voice.—Mr. Louis C. Elson remarks in the Boston Musical Herald on the effect of character or race upon the human voice as a subject that has never been well studied. It is a fairly well-known fact, he says, that certain kinds of voice prevail in certain countries: thus America produces many fine sopranos, Russia is the land of phenomenal bassos, and the sweet, high tenor must be sought chiefly in Spain; but it has not yet been quite determined as to whether climate, or diet and general mode of life, or actual distinction of race, is the cause of this definite distribution of vocal compass and timbre. The female voice in America is sharper and shriller than that of the Englishwoman or Frenchwoman, and this is especially noticeable in the conversational tone. The Englishwoman is more usually a full-toned alto than anything else; the Frenchwoman almost always is a mezzo-soprano. The peculiar style of singing a full falsetto, called jodling, which is chiefly heard in mountain districts, is another instance of race characteristics in vocal music. So perfectly is this singing done by the Tyrolese that the theory was held for a time that the throat of the Tyrolean might have some peculiar formation of its own, superinduced by peculiar diet and the drinking of snow-water. This has been shown by investigation to be erroneous; but since a similar style of singing is practiced in the Norwegian mountains, the Engadine, and other similar districts, it may be inferred that it results from a mode of calling the cattle, which is peculiarly high, characteristic, and penetrating, to which these people are accustomed from childhood. Peculiar types of voice may be found, upon investigation, to be rather the result of ages of peculiar usage, which finally produce traits that become hereditary, than of climate. The probability that diet may have some effect in the matter is mentioned. The voice of the American negro is distinguishable from that of the white singer, and here, perhaps, anatomy may afford a partial clew, for thick lips and a flat nose must influence the tone production in a certain degree. When these traits are absent, the tone of the colored singer is more akin to the ordinary standard of the singing of other races; and the author speaks of having heard some finely formed male Caffres sing, whose voices were not distinguishable from those of white singers. The loss of sight seems to have an appreciable effect on the voice, and, as a rule, one will find the intensely passionate character absent from the singing of the blind.
Sanitary Mistakes.—There is much in popular errors, says Dr. P. C. Redmondino, of San Diego, Cal., that helps to bring about our condition of physical degeneracy. For example, people look upon cold as their great and dreaded enemy, whereas cold—except in an extreme degree—does not and can not hurt any one primarily. To shut out the cold, which is harmless, they shut themselves in with ochlesitic poisons, as morbific and fatal in the end as the effects of alcohol and fusel oil. They have a vague idea that "catching cold" is to be avoided, but they have not the least idea of the lasting poison of ochlesis or in fomites. A man will give a friend a wide berth during the critical period of typhoid fever, but as soon as that period is passed he and his whole family will troop into the room, in blissful ignorance of the researches of Uffelmann and others into the wonderful tenacity of life possessed by the typhoid bacillus; or, so that they avoid the immediate breath of a consumptive, they live in fancied security. That this infection, as well as that of typhoid and other diseasegerms, is longer lasting in a dark or north room, is not of any importance. The lady of the house, on the departure of her consumptive visitor, will at once draw the curtains and close the windows of her parlor that the light and dust may not affect her carpets and bric-à-brac, perfectly unmindful that the care she bestows to protect these things is fraught with risk to the health and life of a son or daughter. She does not know, nor has she taken the pains to learn, nor has any one undertaken to instruct her, that the bacillus of such diseases as typhoid fever, diphtheria, phthisis, and most diseases which have a specific germ, can not exist and hold their identity in solar light and air, which, as has been demonstrated by Koch, kills them in from a few moments to a few hours, whereby no room is left for doubt that, by the construction of our houses and by the studied exclusion of light and air, we do most for the retention of these diseasegerms, and at the same time contribute to the preservation of their vitality.
Earliest Use of the Mariner's Compass.—The history of the discovery of the mariner's compass by the Chinese is lost in their antiquities. It is supposed to have been accidental, in a province where there is much magnetic iron ore, from the observation that a needle made from that ore, when by any means it was caused to float on water, assumed a north and south direction. The earliest author who mentioned the "south-pointing needle" lived in the fourth century b. c., It probably came into use when the professors of fung shue or geomancy began to study landscape, about the eighth century of the Christian era. Their instrument was made of hard wood, about a foot wide, with a small well in the middle, in which a magnetized needle floated in water. On the compass were inscribed several concentric circles, as on the wooden horizons of our globes. They embraced the twelve double horns, the ten denary symbols, eight diagrams, and other marks. This compass was used in preparing a geomantic diagram of any spot where a house or tomb was to be constructed, so that the construction might not be upon an unlucky site, or planned in an unlucky manner. At the same time there was living a Chinese who had studied Hindoo astronomy, and was the imperial astronomer and also a Buddhist priest. He noticed that the needle did not point exactly north, but varied by 2° 5'. The variation went on increasing till a century later, or the ninth century. Shenkwa, writing in the eleventh century, mentions that any iron needle could be given polarity by rubbing it on a piece of loadstone. After this, in 1122, an ambassador to Corea described the use of the floating needle on board ship while he made the voyage. This is the earliest instance, by more than a century, of the use of the mariner's compass on board ship found in any book. At that time the needle was floated in water, supported by a piece of wood; but in the Ming dynasty some Japanese junks engaged in piracy were captured by Chinese, in which the needle of the compass was dry and raised upon a pivot. The Japanese had learned this from the Portuguese. The Chinese from that time also hung their compass-needles on a pivot.
An American Exhibition in Spain.—The Spanish Government is preparing to establish at Madrid, in honor of the fourth centennial of the discovery of America, an exhibition of every kind of American objects, so constituted as to give an idea of the civilizations of the American world, both previous to and coeval with the epoch of the discovery and the European conquests. For this purpose the commission solicits contributions of American objects illustrating prehistoric America—plans, models, and reproductions of drawings of cave dwellings, megalithic monuments, and lake dwellings, and of objects of all kinds of the palæolithic and neolithic ages, and of the bronze and copper ages. Of the historical period are wanted models or representations of buildings and architectural fragments, specimens of polychromatic architecture, representations of restored monuments, and works of fine art of every kind. In the department of industrial arts, etc., clothing and adornments of aboriginal uncivilized or only partly civilized Indians are asked for, implements of war of wood, copper, bronze, and iron; gold, silver, bone, and ivory jewels, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc.; pottery, household utensils, and furniture; tissues and textiles from which they are made; apparatus for manufacturing purposes; articles used in transportation; native documents; Indian portraits and effigies; models of Indian dwellings, crania, etc. Old maps, articles relating to cartography, whatever relates to Columbus, etc., constitute another class; and the collection will be completed with representations of fine-art works, literary and scientific publications, and manuscripts, charts, and plans from the discovery to the middle of the eighteenth century. Prizes and diplomas are offered for the contributions.
The Royal Tombs of Uganda.—Dr. Carl Peters gives the following description of the more modern royal tombs of Uganda: "On approaching them from a distance the traveler thinks he sees pyramids before him, but in reality they are in the form of large cones, and are built of wood in Uganda fashion. On entering, the visitor finds himself in a dusky hall, supported by a row of columns. In the background of this hall is a painted curtain, before which are ranged the weapons and favorite movables of the deceased. On putting aside the curtain the dark area is entered, from which shafts and corridors have been excavated in the ground. In these passages textile stuffs, cowrie shells, and other articles of value, which in Uganda represent money, are heaped up. At the farthest extremity of these passages is deposited the coffin, with the embalmed corpse of the dead person. It appears that the regular procedure for preserving the corpse is by drying it, and swathing it tight in wrappings; but the Waganda also told me that they understood the art of preserving the body from decomposition by injections into the blood. In front of the curtain twelve girls watch day and night on behalf of the last one departed; at present, therefore, for Mtesa. From time lo time all the great men of the land come to the dead man, with drums and fifes, to pay him a visit, as if he were alive."
Excess in Ornamentation.—In his book on the Planning of Ornament, Mr. Lewis F. Day recognizes as among the æsthetic faults of modern architecture its too free use of ornament without reference to its fitness to the other details of the structure, and relative neglect of proportion. A writer who timidly suggested lately that by a proper attention to proportion ornament might be economized, found himself out of fashion, as he doubtless apprehended. The Saturday Review enforces the precepts of the two authors, with a comparison of two buildings that stand near one another in London. Of one, the "front is composed of arches and columns—the arches of colored marbles, the columns of polished granite, the capitals of bronze, heavily gilt. Not far from it is another elevation, partly in brick and plaster, painted drab and wholly devoid of any ornament; yet the eye lingers lovingly on it. The proportions are like those of, say, one of Gray's odes, or one of Mendelssohn's songs without words. The whole façade cost perhaps seven or eight hundred pounds; but, then, it was designed by Wren. The bank front cost, at a moderate estimate, seventy or eighty thousand pounds, yet, because the architect, or, to speak more exactly, the builder, did not mix his design with a single ounce of brains, had not, in fact, so much brains to bestow upon it, all the money spent has produced so hideous a pile that one instinctively turns from it as one turns from a sudden glare or a street accident." Like contrasts may be found in almost any large town.
Amusements of Animals.—A writer in the London Spectator suggests as a logical order in which to consider some of the powers of enjoyment possessed by animals, without exaggerating or depreciating them, is to observe their development as the animal itself grows up. The faculty of amusement comes early in them. Many animals are aware of this, and make it part of their maternal duties to amuse their young. A ferret will play with her kittens, a cat with hers, and a dog with her puppies. A mare will play with her foal, though the writer from whom we quote has never seen a cow try to amuse her calf, nor any birds their young. If their mothers do not amuse them, the young ones invent games of their own. A flock of ewes and lambs were observed in the Isle of Wight in adjoining fields, separated by a fence with several gaps in it. "Follow my leader" was the game most in favor with this flock, the biggest lamb leading round the field and then jumping the gap, with all the others following in single file; any lambs that took the leap unusually well would give two or three more enthusiastic jumps out of sheer exuberant happiness when it reached the other side. Another flock of lambs, confined in a straw-yard, had steeple-chases over a row of feeding-troughs stuffed with hay, right down the yard and back again. On a Yorkshire moor they have been seen to race, for a quarter of an hour, round a spring, and back to the ewes. Fawns play a kind of cross-touch from one side to the other, the "touch" in each case being given by the nose. Little pigs are also great at combined play, which generally takes the form of races. Emulation seems to form part of their amusement, for their races seem always to have the winning of the first place for their object, and are quite different from those combined rushes for food or causeless stampedes in which little pigs are wont to indulge. Racing is an amusement natural to some animals, and, being soon learned by others, becomes one of their most exciting pastimes. Many horses, and all racing-dogs, soon learn to be as keen at winning as public-school boys in a half-mile handicap. It is a common impulse with horses to pass, or at least to keep up with, any other horse in their company, and this instinct, developed by training, makes the professional race-horse eager to win. Animal enthusiasm for racing is well—the writer in the Spectator says best—seen in a dog-race. Birds especially delight in the free and fanciful use of their wings. There is all the difference possible between the flight of birds for "business" and pleasure; and many kinds on fine days will soar to vast heights for pleasure alone. In any comparison of the games and sports of animals with our own enjoyment of the same amusements, it must not be forgotten that imagination, the make-believe which enters into so much of the best play of children, is also the basis of much of the play of young animals. Watch a kitten, while you tap your fingers on the other side of a curtain or table-cloth, imitating the movements of a mouse running up and down. She knows it is not a mouse. But she enters into the spirit of the game, and goes through all the movements proper to the chase. Or perhaps she has a ball. If you set it in motion, so much the better—that helps "the make-believe." The ball is "alive," and she catches it, claws it, and half kills it, taking care all the while to keep it moving herself. The beautiful young lion, given by the Sultan of Sokoto to Queen Victoria last year, would play in exactly the same way with a large wooden ball, growling and setting up the crest, and pursuing the ball across the cage.
Durability of Oil Paintings.—Much time has been devoted by Mr. A. P. Laurie to the study of the means of insuring the durability of oil paintings. Some of the paintings of the old masters are still remarkably brilliant in coloring. A Van Eyck in the National Gallery is especially mentioned in M. Laurie's paper before the Society of Arts as having its colors all fairly well preserved, and a green—one of the most difficult of colors—wonderfully so. The quality is found not to reside in the pigments used, which were not superior to those of the present. It must, therefore, lie in the vehicle. It has been shown by Prof. Russell and Captain Abney that most fugitive pigments are permanent if protected from moisture, and a still larger number if protected from both air and moisture. If, therefore, we can obtain a vehicle which will really protect the particles of the pigment from moisture, we may use safely many pigments that are now regarded as fugitive. Mr. Laurie tested the qualities of linseed and walnut oils, the resins, and mixtures of oil and resins. His experiments showed that linseed oil, no matter how carefully refined, or in what way it is converted into boiled oil, can not be depended upon to protect a surface from moisture. Walnut oil proved no better. Solutions of resins in spirits of turpentine or benzol give as varnishes sufficient preservation from moisture for all practical purposes, but, forming a brittle and not very durable surface, are not fit to be used as mediums in place of oils. Eastlake's theory that the Flemish painters secured permanency by grinding their colors in oil and adding a little varnish, was tested and found not correct. No preparations of that kind experimented upon resisted the attacks of moisture; but a good mastic varnish was more efficient, and proved superior to any other substance tried. The use of copal or amber dissolved in spirit is also objectionable, because the varnish is difficult to remove. By using mastic, we have a varnish which, while it affords the best protection to the picture from moisture, is easily removed and renewed. A source of danger to pictures to which not enough attention has been given is that which arises from the development of moisture by chemical action within the substance of the painting itself. An old medium of remarkable qualities has been recently discovered, concerning which nothing more is said at present, till its qualities are proved. Apparently the most durable surface that can be produced with modern mediums is that obtained with a mixture of copal oil varnish and linseed oil; and, until the proper medium is discovered, the best we can do is to paint our pictures with this medium and a carefully selected group of pigments, and then, as a further precaution, coat the pictures, when thoroughly dry, with a layer of mastic dissolved in turps (or turpentine).
Illustration of Customs.—The Pitt Rivers collection in the University Museum at Oxford is designed to illustrate the customs, life, and religious observances of primitive and semi-civilized races. The contents are arranged with a view to showing the various stages of development among different races and at different times, and to establishing direct relationship between the primitive and the modern types. The collection has also many European objects of antiquarian interest. Among them are specimens of the hornpipe, the instrument that gave its name to the dance performed to its music, and of the pipe and tambour used by the mummers at their performances. Among the exhibits relating to savage races is a collection of masks from Fiji, New Britain, and elsewhere, such as were worn at funerals by the male relatives of the deceased. In some cases the very skull of the dead man was made into masks, with the idea that he should assist at his own obsequies. The jew's-harp in many forms and developments—none, however, dating beyond the sixteenth century—has a place in the museum, together with a collection of primitive reed instruments, some of which were blown by the mouth and others by the nostrils. Of fire-kindling apparatus, the frictional fire-sticks of savages, the rather elaborate mechanical contrivance of the Brahman priests, and the apparatus used by the Vestal Virgins to kindle the sacred lamp if it should be extinguished, are shown,
Mediæval Guilds.—According to a paper in the Archæological Institute by the Rev. J. Hirst, on the Guilds of the Anglo-Saxon Monasteries, a regular system of communication was kept up between the various religious houses by means of messengers, who, being men of the world, were able to supply the news of passing events, even in the most distant countries. Other visitors to the abbeys were pilgrims, who were often admitted as brothers, and were thus enabled to participate in the benefits derived from the prayers of the community. From these sources no doubt the monkish chroniclers derived much of their information, which they so carefully recorded. The author said these ancient guilds threw a light on the origin, rapid increase, and organization of thetrade-guilds at a later period. Mr. J. T Micklethwaite pointed out a difference between these two sorts of guilds. The trade-guilds kept a common purse, whereas those attached to the monasteries did not; the absence also of the word guild in the Saxon manuscripts led him to believe that the trade-guilds were not derived from the monastic ones.
Spiders as Marplots.—A curious account is given in Engineering of the way in which the accuracy of engineering work is often impaired by spiders and their webs. When plumb lines are sunk in shafts, the spiders sometimes attach their webs to them and draw them to one side. The accuracy of a certain work in the Hoosac Tunnel was destroyed until the lines, 1,028 feet long, were inclosed in cases. It has been suggested as a remedy to apply electricity to the lines so as to burn off the spider-threads. The writer in Engineering once found his vision when using the level distorted by the appearance of curved lines in its field. After consulting an oculist and paying his fees, he discovered that the whole trouble was caused by a little spider which had settled itself in the eye-glass of the telescope of the level. An electric light metre, of the revolving fan type, was found doing imperfect work, as it recorded only a small fraction of the electricity that was known to be used. It was found that a spider had entered the case through a screw-hole and spun a web in such a manner as to prevent the free use of the fans.