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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ly adapted to the estivation which is the forced consequence of the pluvial régime of the country. After a heavy shower numerous fish will make their appearance in places that were absolutely dry a few hours before. Living fishes of certain species may be found buried two feet below the dry surface of the soil. The Ophiocephalidæ, like our eels, pass from one pond to another by gliding through the moist grass, and the Amphipnous cuchia loves to rest on the ground hidden in high grass; and one may see it leap into the water when he approaches it. The Ophiocephalus striatus builds a nest with its tail among the aquatic plants on the banks of the rivers, and finishes it off with blades of grass, which it cuts with its mouth. The eggs are laid in the nest, and the male takes care of them, or, if he dies or is captured, the female takes his place. Both watch the fry with as much care as a hen takes of her chickens, but will drive them away when they have become large enough, and will eat them up if they do not go. The male of the Arius burmanicus hatches out its little ones in its mouth; fifteen or twenty eggs in different stages of development, ana even recently hatched young ones, may be found in the buccal cavity and on the branchiæ; and, during the whole period of this incubation, the fish takes no food. The varieties of the fauna of this country support the hypothesis that it was primitively an archipelago, separated by arms of the sea. The forms are often totally different on mountains, having precisely the same geological formation, only fifteen or twenty miles apart.

 

A Premature Burial.—M. G. Eric Mackay presented, in "The Popular Science Monthly" for January, 1880, a number of apparently authentic instances of cases in which premature burial had occurred. In a subsequent number of the "Monthly" (August, 1880), Dr. William Lee depreciated the danger, and undertook to show that premature burials were extremely rare. An instance very similar to some of those recorded by Mr. Mackay, and showing that the danger is an actual one, is related in the "Viedomosti" of Samara, Russia. A clerk while drunk was seized with an epileptic fit, and apparently died. As the next two days would be holidays, when burials would not be permitted, it was decided to lay him in the ground that very night. Drops of sweat were seen on his face during the funeral services, but no attention was paid to the matter because it was thought the drops might have come from snow that fell on his face on the way to the church. But little earth was thrown on the coffin, on account of the lateness of the hour. When the grave-digger went the next morning to fill up the grave, he heard a noise, as of groaning and struggling in it. Instead of releasing the man, the sexton went to the priest to ask permission to do so. The priest sent him to the police; the police sent him and the man's wife, who had joined him, to the chief; the chief sent them to the archimandrite, and he to the procurator. At last a permit was obtained, after five hours, but then the man was dead, having left in the coffin evidences of a hard struggle. He had turned around, bitten his fingers, torn his flesh, and rent his clothing. It is hard, in reading this story, to decide whether most to admire the stupidity of the grave-digger and the victim's wife, or the elaborate complication of Russian red-tape.

 

Improvements in Insurance Management. The "Pall Mall Gazette" notices signs of improvement and invigoration in the management of the English life-assurance companies during the past year, particularly in the matters of the settlement of claims immediately after death, liberal extensions of the limits of residence, facilities for the renewal of lapsed policies, the introduction of the paid-up policy system, and the simplification of the initiatory stages in paid up policies. Tendencies are observed, too, toward the reduction of rates to a simple living basis, and the gradual working out of the "bonus" system. The companies are still, however, obliged to meet the sharp competition of American enterprises, which are able to offer inducements enhanced by the higher interest on their investments; but they ought to be able to neutralize these advantages, it is suggested, by those which they enjoy from the prestige of their long career and honorable position, and from the less cost at which their business is conducted.