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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/585

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569
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ern Soodanians is probably inferior to that of all the other negro races of the same type, and exhibits a most pronounced dolicocephaly. The eastern Soodanians approach this type, but some of its most characteristic marks are less distinct in them. To them may be attached the negroes living on the banks of the upper Nile and the great lakes. Furthermore, a great variety is apparent among the races, and the ethnic mixtures are considerable. Africa is not, in fact, that stationary land which it is generally figured to be. It has, like the other continents, its grand movements of people and races. A current which is sometimes slow, sometimes more or less rapid, which seems to have existed for several centuries, is drawing the negro populations from the interior. Northeast of the Gulf of Guinea, toward the coast, the nature and importance of this movement, which is pushing the population from east to west, can be appreciated best at the Gaboon. There the Gaboonese first subjugated and absorbed the Negrilles, Akoas, and others; then the Bakales pushed them farther west; and the last are now pressed by the Fans, who are coming down from the interior. The Caffres are not a simple ethnic element, but are a mixture of negro and Bushman elements complicated with Arabian and even Malaysian elements. The Bushmen are the real indigenous race of Southern Africa; the Hottentots, the Koranas, the Gonaquas, and the Namaquas, are only hybrids of this race mixed in different degrees with the negro race.

 

Mr. Whymper's Experiments with "Mountain-Sickness."—Mr. Edward Whymper, in relating the story of his ascent of the mountains Chimborazo and Cotopaxi, has described the efforts which he made to counteract the "mountain-sickness" or sense of exhaustion and feverishness which attacks all persons who venture to great heights. Till his own attempt was made, he had not known of any traveler afflicted with the peculiar feeling who had deliberately "sat it out, and had a pitched battle with the enemy," or of any one who had suggested the bare possibility of coming out victorious from such an encounter, yet, upon doing so, he felt, depended the chance of pushing explorations into the highest regions of the earth, and he was anxious to test whether his organization could not accommodate itself to the required conditions. Only three well-authenticated instances were known of persons who had reached the height of twenty thousand feet, and their stories gave no light on the subject; but a person who had reached the height of between seventeen and eighteen thousand feet told him that, though he never had suffered from the affection, he could not escape it at such elevations. On the first day of his ascent of Chimborazo, he reached a height of 14,400 feet. On the next day he reached 16,500 feet, and established himself there with great difficulty. "The mules were forced up to the very last yard that they could go, and, staggering under their burdens, which were scarcely more than half the weight they were accustomed to carry, stopped repeatedly, and by their tremblings and falling on their knees, and general behavior, showed that they had been driven to the very verge of exhaustion." Within an hour Mr. Whymper and his Italian mountaineers, the Carrels, were lying on their backs, incapable of making the least exertion, feverish, with intense headaches, and unable to satisfy their desire for air, except by breathing with open mouths. "This naturally parched the throat, and produced a craving for drink which we were unable to satisfy, partly from the difficulty of obtaining it, and partly from the difficulty of swallowing it, for, when we got enough, we were unable to drink, we could only sip; and not to save our lives could we have taken a quarter of a pint at a draught. Before one tenth of it was down, we were obliged to stop for breath, and gasp again, until our throats were as dry as ever. Besides having our normal rate of breathing largely accelerated, we found it impossible to get along without every now and then giving a spasmodic gulp, just like fishes when taken out of the water. Of course, there was no desire to eat; but we wished to smoke; and even our pipes almost refused to burn, for they, like ourselves, wanted more oxygen." He obtained relief by taking chlorate of potash, and in two or three days the party had become accustomed to the situation, and were able to continue their work. The next camp was pitched at a height of 17,400 feet.