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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/589

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

tory of the tribes, with a description of their social and religious customs; and the explorations in the mounds and burial places of the Scioto and Little Miami Valleys of Ohio—the most extensive and systematic of the museum's explorations—which have yielded extremely rich results in illustrating the life and customs and rituals of the people to whom they appertained. To these may be added the decipherment and translation by Mrs. Zelia Nuttall of a number of the Mexican codices and inscriptions.

 

The Scientific Privileges of Country Boys.—"Nor is the study of natural things, and the making of discoveries," says Professor O. P. Hay, in a paper on "The Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana," "the exclusive privilege of those who have received a scientific training. There is not a farmer boy in Indiana who may not make solid contributions to science if he will but use his opportunities. Persons who live in the country are in direct contact with Nature. They see a thousand things that the naturalist would delight to see, and yet may never be permitted to behold. The time of coming and going of the various species of birds; their curious habits, as shown in nest-building and obtaining food; and the occurrence here and there of rare species of various animals, are examples of matters which all may observe and report, and which science needs to know."

 

Rich Men's Duties to Themselves.—While the value of wealth as an alleviator of suffering and a promoter of worthy public objects is strongly appreciated by many who possess it, says Lester F. Ward in "The Forum," "its value as a direct means of intellectual and moral culture is rarely discerned by this class. Many rich people are fully alive to their duty toward others, and at the same time apparently devoid of a sense of their duty toward themselves. The function of wealth, in affording leisure for culture and for thorough, painstaking work in any field of progressive labor, has always been and always must be a far more important one than that of furnishing temporary relief to suffering humanity. Without leisure, Humboldt could not have explored all the realms of Nature, and given the world an intelligible cosmos. Without immunity from care, Newton could not have found out and unfolded to his age and ours the true nature of the universe. Without leisure and resources, Darwin could not have fathomed the mysteries of life and solved the great problem of being. Civilization, with all its mechanical accessories and blessings, is the product of calm deliberation and patiently-wrought results. The inventions that underlie it were impossible until the principles of Nature upon which they rest had been established, and this has in most cases been the result of prolonged researches made for truth's sake alone. . . . This scientific work, this search for truth for its own sake, can only be successfully prosecuted when the means of subsistence are made to be not in the least dependent upon it. . . . The so-called men of leisure, who have accomplished these good results, have really been the most industrious of all men. Leisure, in this sense, merely means relief from the necessity of performing statical work, in order to be able to perform dynamic work. . . . But how few understand it in this sense!"

 

New Economical Plants.—The directors of the Sahárunpur Gardens, India, are cultivating a number of new plants, for acclimitization. Among them is the Acacia Senegal, which, besides yielding the best gum-arabic, furnishes a reddish-brown wood which takes on a fine polish, and is used for weavers' shuttles. The Cedula adorata, or West Indian cedar, has a light wood of a mahogany color, even-grained, easily worked, and fragrant—the wood from which Havana cigar-boxes are made. Cencheris catharticus is a much-valued fodder-plant, which grows in sandy-desert tracts. It is the Tuart of Australia, a tree of magnificent proportions, which furnishes most excellent hard-wood timber. The Myricas, or wax-myrtles, of North and South America, are cultivated for the waxy exudations on their fruits, from which the wax is separated by boiling and skimming. The fruits of the Sapindus saponaria, or West Indian soap-berry, contain a large quantity of a saponaceous matter, which is used for washing clothes. The hard, round, black seeds are worn as beads for necklaces.