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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/883

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fore, I rest in the most entire and complete confidence that, if this should happen to be a blunder of mine, some day or other it will be carefully exposed by somebody! But pray let me remind you, whether all this story about Bathybius be right or wrong makes not the smallest difference to the general argument of the remarkable address put before you to-night. All the statements your President has made are just as true, as profoundly true, as if this little, eccentric Bathybius did not exist at all. I congratulate you upon having had the opportunity of listening to an address so profound, so exhaustive in all respects, and so remarkable, and I ask you to join in the vote of thanks which has just been proposed."

 

A Specimen of African Civilization.—At the recent meeting of the British Association, Commander Cameron gave the following interesting particulars concerning the manners and customs of the people of Urua, a country in Central Africa bounded on the east by Lake Tanganyika, on the north by independent tribes in Manguema, on the west by Ulunda, and on the south by mountains south of Lake Bangueolo. The Uruans are probably the most civilized race in Central Africa. Their late supreme chief, Kasongo, claimed divine honors. On his death all his wives save one were slaughtered at the grave; the exempted wife passed to his successor, into whom also migrated the spirit of the dead Kasongo. The central object of the people's religious homage is an idol set up in the midst of a dense jungle; this idol has for wife one of the sisters of the reigning chief. Caste is very clearly defined. Authority is maintained by mutilation: hands, feet, ears, noses, are mutilated, and the people do not seem to mind it much. Fire is obtained by friction from a fire-block, and in one case a chief used the shin-bone of a conquered rebel to produce fire from the block! The dress of the people consists simply of an apron. The coiffure is curious. In some cases the hair is worked up into four ring plaits crossed at the top of the head like a crown, and surrounded at the bottom with a band of cowries or other shells. The people are not a hairy race, but they manage to grow their beards long and plaited like a Chinaman's pigtail. The women are tattooed. Commander Cameron saw a wedding, which was very curious. The festivities continued several days. A ring was formed of the natives, two men with big drums being in the middle. The drums were played and the people round danced. The bride was brought out, dressed in feathers and other finery, on the shoulders of two or three women; she was taken into the middle of the ring and was jumped up and down on the shoulders of the women. The bride threw shells and beads about, for which there was a scramble, as the possession of them was supposed to confer luck. Ultimately the husband came into the ring and putting the bride under his arm carried her off. The means of communication is by drum-signals. They have a call on the drum for everybody's name, and they can ask questions and convey intelligence over hundreds of miles and receive answers almost immediately. In war, messages are constantly sent enormous distances to bring up reënforcements or to stop their coming. The mass of the people live in huts on dry land, but there are one or two exceptions to this. Commander Cameron saw two lakes on which people were living in huts. In one case the people had covered over the long grass growing in the water with earth, and on that had built their huts; in the other the huts were built on piles.

 

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Next year the American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold its meetings in Boston, commencing on the last Wednesday of August. The officers are: President, L. H. Morgan, of Rochester; Vice-President, Section A, Asaph Hall, of Washington; Vice-President, Section B, Alexander Agassiz, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Permanent Secretary, F. W. Putnam, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; General Secretary, John K. Rees, of St. Louis; Secretary of Section A, Henry B. Nason, of Troy, New York; Secretary of Section B, C. V. Riley, of St. Louis; Treasurer, William S. Vaux, of Philadelphia.

The French Association for the Advancement of Science has just commenced the ninth year of its existence. From the beginning it has enjoyed the largest measure of prosperity, and its meetings in sun-