Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/319

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ferent stages of social progress. The alphabet, from a rude and vague beginning in Egypt, passed thence through Phœnicia to Greece, where it was perfected, and whence, in a few centuries, it was diffused to India on the one side and to Scandinavia and Britain on the other. In like manner coined money, vaguely beginning, as Rome suppose, with the scarabæi of Egypt, was brought to perfection in Greece, and thence spread through many civilized nations of Asia and among the semi-barbarous communities of Western Europe.

Both the art of writing and the use of money seem to have had an indigenous origin in China. The Chinese written character has spread through a large part of Eastern Asia. The Chinese currency, in its ancient form of shell-money, appears to have had a still wider diffusion. It has spread, apparently, through the islands of the North Pacific, and, either thence or directly from China or Japan, has been carried across the ocean to California, and so found its way eastward to the Ohio Valley and the Atlantic coast.

The fact, if it be a fact, that the Indians of the west coast of America received their monetary system from Eastern Asia or from the Pacific Islands, could not in itself be regarded as affording evidence that America was first peopled from that direction, just as the fact that the coinage of Bactria was derived from Greece would not indicate that the Bactrian population was of Grecian origin. All that we could infer would be some early intercourse, such as recent experience warrants us in supposing. A Chinese junk, or a large Micronesian prao, drifting to the Californian coast some three or four thousand years ago, would sufficiently explain the introduction of an art so easily learned as that of making and using perforated shell-disks for money.


DURING the first part of 1884 the United States Signal Service began to pay special attention to the question of tornado-prediction. The development of the science was rapid under the active supervision of Lieutenant John P. Finley, having charge of that department of the service. It was found that the public interest in the question was wide-spread, and that, with the aid of voluntary reporters of tornado-phenomena, the possibility of saving life and property had begun to crystallize into a practical scheme. The power to verify predictions could only be obtained from two sources—from the press, and from tornado-reporters, who would voluntarily report the phenomena with some approach to scientific accuracy. The distinctions between a cyclone, five hundred or a thousand miles across the storm-