Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/882

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The Dullness of Anglo-Saxon Cities.—Mr. Frederic Harrison has made a complaint that English cities all over the world—with which American cities are classed—are dull and unattractive. The brightness of the life—at least among the better-endowed classes—which is recorded of the ancient cities of Greece and Rome, is not to be found in them; and the exhilarating vitality of Continental cities is likewise absent from them. They are healthy and rich beyond comparison with all other places, except, perhaps, ancient Rome, of corresponding importance, but, according to the summary of Mr. Harrison's lecture, they are dull abodes, usually wanting in beauty, seldom adorned with really admirable public buildings, filled with homes that give no pleasure to the eye, and over a great part of their area squalid, monotonous, and dingy. There are few festivals, and little real civic common life; the best classes withdraw their interest and declare the cities intolerable; the masses, except in their personal security, derive but little benefit from the organizations amid which they live. Life for the majority is deprived of the pleasantness which attaches to life in the country, and gives no compensations except those which are derived from the presence of great numbers. Mr. Harrison thinks that the size of the great cities is a drawback to their pleasantness, and this may be, to some extent, true; but a more satisfactory way of accounting for the condition may probably be found in the spirit of speculation which seeks to make money out of everything, preferring it to enjoyment, and plants noisome factories, with steam-engines and vapors, and racket, as near to all large centers of population as it can get them.

Effects of Petroleum Emanations on Health.—The influence of petroleum emanations upon health have been investigated by M. Wiecyk in the Carpathian region, where the workmen have to breathe an atmosphere that is tainted with carbureted hydrogen, carbonic acid, ethylene, various hydrocarbons, carbonic oxide, and sulphureted hydrogen. Cases of asphyxia are not rare. The affections ordinarily incident to long continued work are tinglings in the ears, dazzling, beating of the arteries of the head, syncopes, and hallucinations, usually of pleasant character. The first feeling on breathing the vapors is one of lightness in the breast and greater freedom in respiratory movements; but this is soon succeeded by palpitations and general weakness. Diseases of the chest, particularly tuberculosis and epidemic and infectious disorders, are rare; a consequence, probably, of the antiseptic qualities of the vapors.

Andaman Island Myths.—The Andaman Islanders, according to Mr. J. A. Farrer, in the "Gentleman's Magazine," believe the rat, crow, fish, eagle, heron, jungle-fowl, shark, porpoise, and various other animals, to be transformed ancestors, and have a definite legend to account for the transformation in each case. A certain fish, armed with a row of poisonous barbs on its back, is a man who committed murder in a fit of jealousy; and a tree-lizard retains the very name by which the victim was known as a man. The first human being of all fell into a creek and was drowned, when he was transformed into a whale and became the father of cetaceans. He capsized and drowned his wife and grandchildren while they were in a boat looking for him, and she was transformed into a crab, and his grandchildren into iguanas.

The White Mountain of Manchuria.—Mr. H. E. M. James, of the Indian Civil Service, and two companions, have made a journey through the Chang-pei-shan Mountains of Manchuria, and visited the sources of the river Sungari, thus penetrating to a district which had not previously been reached by Europeans. At Maoerh-shan, on the Yaloo, they found their progress up the river barred by impracticable precipices, while the few colonists of the upper valley had to depend upon the river when frozen in winter for intercommunication. They, therefore, changed their course to the valley of another stream. The Pei-shan, or White Mountain, from which the region they visited derives its name, proved to be an extinct volcano, with a blue pellucid lake filling the bottom of the crater, and surmounted by a serrated circle of peaks rising about 650 feet above the surface of the water. The sides of the mountain, which are steep, are composed entirely