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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/730

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ances of their friends by watching the mouth. The requisites to the art of speech-reading are, an eye trained to distinguish quickly those movements of the vocal organs that are visible (independently of the meaning of the words uttered); a knowledge of these words that present the same appearance to the eye; and sufficient familiarity with the English language to enable the speech-reader to judge by context which word of a homophenous group (like-seeming) is the word intended by the speaker. We should, therefore, teach deaf children to think in English, by using English in their presence in a clearly visible form; teach them to speak, by giving them instruction in the use of their vocal organs; teach them the use of the eye as a substitute for the ear in understanding the utterances of their friends; give them instruction in the ordinary branches of education by means of the English language; and banish the sign-language from our schools.

 

Bogus American Antiques.—According to the sixteenth report of the Peabody Museum, the manufacture of false American antiquities is becoming an industry of our country. The museum has been offered an "ancient" child carved from stone, duly incrusted with cement, said to have been dug up in Arkansas, the workmanship of which, and the presence of undecayed grass-leaves and yellow printing-paper in the incrustation, showed it to be a near relative of the Cardiff giant. This, however, is only one of many fraudulent specimens that are on sale. Pipes, tubes, dishes, and ceremonial and other objects, are regularly manufactured in Philadelphia, and have found their way into American and foreign collections as genuine antiquities, dug up in such or such a locality. A manufacturer in Indiana gives his attention chiefly to "mound-builders' pipes," which are carved in stone and offered in a systematic manner to collectors. In Ohio a large business has been done in the so-called gorgets, cut from slate, and in hematite celts. In Southern Illinois, a few years ago, specimens of pottery were made till the demand fell off, so that one manufacturer acknowledged that the business no longer paid. On the whole, says Professor Putnam, "the demand for 'antiquities' is considerable in this country, and we are not behind the Old World in keeping up the supply."

 

The Nettle as an Economical Plant.—The nettle, which is now only rarely cultivated, was held in high honor as a useful plant not more than two hundred years ago. In a medical treatise of the fifteenth century, several pages are occupied with the description of its healing properties. It is said to have been turned to account for food during the Irish famine. In Russia, Sweden, and Holland, it is mowed and made into fodder for cows, with profit in the increase in quantity and improvement in quality of the milk, although the animals will not venture to eat it while it is green. Cords are made from it in Kamchatka, paper in France, and grass-cloth in China and India. It has been made into linen in various countries, a fact of which the German name for muslin, Nesseluch (nettle-cloth), is a standing testimony. When cotton came into general use for textile fabrics the nettle went out, and was nearly forgotten till attention was called to it anew by Professor Reuleaux after our Centennial Exhibition. Frau Rössler-Lade took the matter up and showed how easily the plant could be cultivated and how well adapted it was to spinning. Numerous persons have since engaged in the cultivation of the native species, and of the Chinese nettle, which is considered a little superior, in Germany and other countries. A company has been formed in Holland for the cultivation of the nettle in Java, with a capital of about three million guilders.

 

Correlations of the Seasons.—The universal mildness of the past winter in Northern Europe has caused attention to be directed to the inquiry whether there is a correlation in character between that and other seasons of the year. Mild winters are by no means rare in that quarter of the world: several may be cited in the last half-century, particularly that of 1842-'43, when the fields around St. Petersburg were bright with flowers in December and violets gathered in the woods were sold in Stockholm in January. Herr G. Hellman has made a special study of the mild winters in Berlin since 1720. He counts thirty-four seasons