Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/788

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

State, 45·83 per cent; those organized in other States, 64·06 per cent; and foreign companies, 66·03 per cent. The ratios of expenses parallel these proportions. So much for the saving power of direct interest and control.

The prevalence of wood in American building, arising from its cheapness, has had its effect in promoting combustibility. We are accustomed to hear frequent lamentations of the destruction of our forests. That destruction will bear at least one benefit in its train—a lessened use of wood in building. In European cities, where brick, tiles, and cement largely take its place in construction, fires are infrequent, and not specially devastating. There fire departments may be found in a simplicity which argues an enviable feeling of general security. As lumber grows scarcer from year to year, and money cheaper, we may expect a decreasing combustibility in American buildings. Immunity from loss is bought at its lowest price when a structure is designed and erected with intelligence and liberality; these qualities will have more scope as capital grows more abundant.

In developing sound principles of insurance the mutual underwriters of New England have done notable work. Their inquiries have been marked by a thoroughly scientific method, which has in its range generously included collateral investigations of immense economic value. In the strict line of their researches, while applying justice, economy, and ingenuity to the solution of their problems, they have taught lessons that must produce world-wide good. Their conscientious work, when understood and applied, will inevitably lower the fire-tax, save life, and abate one of the chief horrors of our civilization.


SINCE times long ago ships have been yearly going out from their native ports in pursuit of the whale. The vessels of the ancient Basques, and the fleets of the Hanse cities, of the Netherlands, and of

  1. Dr. Boas spent about twelve months, from August, 1883, till the 25th of August, 1884, in exploring from his headquarters, at the Kikkerton Islands whaling-station, the coasts of Cumberland Sound and Davis Strait. Though he was prevented by the changes of the weather, and an epidemic that raged among the dogs, from accomplishing as much as he had contemplated, lie made numerous explorations in Cumberland Sound, and followed the western coast-line of Davis Strait as far as Cape Raper in latitude 69° 50' north, traversing in all his journeys nearly 2,400 miles of country, most of which had been previously unexplored. lie learned the language of the Eskimos, and acquired much interesting information respecting their customs, traditions, and religious observances, some of which are presented in this article. The sketches have been furnished us by the author in slips of the "Berliner Tageblatt," and have been translated from the German for "The Popular Science Monthly."