Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/297

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
285
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

dred and eleven horses for forty days in one spot. The absence of traditions about the mound builders can not be regarded as evidence of separate origin; it is a fact that the Winnebagoes and Menomonees have no traditions going as far back as to Marquette, or even to John Carver, not a century ago; and, in truth, their traditions are so short that they deny that the Indians ever used stone arrow-heads. The author concluded that there was abundant evidence of an Indian origin in the mounds—including the finding of European implements in them that must have been placed there when they were made—from the Gulf of Mexico to Northern Wisconsin.

Dr. Hoy also discussed the question of the origin of the copper implements that are found in the neighborhood of Lake Superior. He remarked that the explorers of the St. Lawrence, Lake Superior, and the Eastern coast, all say that the Indians had these implements, and that the copper-mines of Lake Superior show no evidences of great antiquity. The Chippewas and Winnebagoes both have copper ornaments. Professor Butler has a copper spear-head, plowed up in Wisconsin, containing part of an iron rivet, which had doubtless been made or used after the Indians had traded with the whites, and had had access to iron. The author was of the opinion that the Indians of the Lake Superior district made copper implements for themselves, and also for extensive barter, and did not see how any reasonable man could assert that the Indians knew nothing about the use of the native metal. Professor Putnam discussed the same subject in his paper on the North American copper implements and ornaments under his charge in the Peabody Museum. He had no doubt that the Indians used copper, and that its use was contemporary with that of polished stone implements. The native copper was hammered, not molded, into shape; and the speaker described the way in which the processes were carried out. Some ornaments that had been connected with Christianity were really only shaped as they were easiest to make. Some classical-looking ear-rings were shown, which had been made from native copper beaten out.

 

Formation of Prairies.—Mr. H. D. Valin, of Chicago, has proposed a new theory to account for the formation of prairies and the elevation of the country west of the Mississippi. Noticing that the prairies rest generally on Silurian rocks, he believes that they represent ground which has always been inundated, or subject to periodical overflows. The waters, when high, washed away the rocks of the bluffs, and deposited on the level surface beneath them the clay resulting from the erosion; while the detritus forming the sod of the prairie dates always from the last inundation. The constant exposure of the prairie-soil to submersion accounts for the absence of trees. The land has risen partly by deposition, but in large part also because of the elasticity of the earth's surface, "which, like matter in general, always tends toward an equilibrium. For instance, the highest mountains weigh about the same on the surface of the earth that the deepest ocean does, otherwise their respective levels would come into one. Now, as the detritus of the rocks is carried by streams into the sea, the porous material grows heavier, though not increased in size, and the equilibrium is forcibly reestablished by a slow upheaval of the land. The pressure exerted laterally by such upheaval is, likely, the origin of volcanoes, geysers, and earthquakes."

 

Physiological Analogies of the Roman Letters.—Professor A. Melville Bell, in explaining the system of "visible speech" at the late meeting of the American Association, remarked that something like a physiological principle may be found to pervade our Roman alphabet. The actions of the lips, the most obvious of the speech-organs, would naturally be the most definitely indicated; and it is among the labial letters that we find the most numerous illustrations of an apparently physiological basis. The rounded form of the lips in pronouncing is, for example, very suggestive of the circle, which is the emblem of that element; and in the letter B we have a perfect representation of the profile of the closed lips. The letter P as compared with B, seems to suggest a sound of similar organic production, but lacking something of the B sound—and this is the exact physiological relation