The object of this communication is to nominate Mr. Stevenson for membership in that "infant class in astronomy to which you have already assigned H. Rider Haggard, Anna Bowman Dodd, Andrew Lang, Edward King, and Tolstoi.
|J. Boulware Kidd.|
|Richmond, Va., August, 19, 1888.|
Editor Popular Science Monthly:
I think your correspondent is in error concerning the uses of the perforated stones of California. I never heard of any one of those uses before, and all of them seem improbable.
1. I have seen the squaws digging roots, and never knew of their carrying a five-pound stone around, when their own body furnishes one hundred and fifty pounds, as a "digging weight." In their line of business they are no fools.
2. Each arrow and spear of the Indians represents hours of patient labor, and any one acquainted with them knows how averse they are to expending them upon any mark other than game, much less upon rocks. One of these stones, now in my possession, has the eye-hole much out of the center, and who can determine the line that hole would describe when the stone is rolled along on the ground? Further, the Diggers were and are averse to any games that do not allow them to sit lovingly and lazily upon the bosom of Mother Earth.
3. Pipes and pestles are the only "cylindrical objects" I know of among the Indians, and none of these are small enough to go through the eye-hole. It shows no evidence of having been used as a die; and those objects show no evidence of having been made by a die.
Now, as to their real uses. The specimen of which I send you an outline is a fair sample of most of them. Weight, four and a half pounds. The eye-hole is countersunk on both sides, coming to an edge in the center, but more sloping on the right, fitting the thumb of the right hand, whichever side was grasped, as both sides are very nearly alike.
1. Indians tell me that they were used for pounding acorns and other nuts fine enough to be afterward ground on the metate for making bread.
2. They were used for heating water and cooking in baskets; a stick run through the eye-hole of the hot stone prevents it from sinking to the bottom and burning a hole through the basket. I once saw the Indians cooking in a basket, but not with these stones. The basket stands near the fire, and with half a dozen hot stones constantly being changed they will have the water boiling much quicker than it can be done on a stove.
The above information I get from the Indians, and it accords with the probabilities and other evidences.
I inclose an outline of another stone which for a long time puzzled me. It is a flat cog-wheel one and a half inch thick. Four of them were plowed up in an Indian camp, the only ones I ever saw. An old Indian the other day instantly placed the palm of his hand flatly over the disk, and, with his fingers among the cogs, made motions as with a hammer, and said it was used for cracking piñones. The piñone is the nut of a certain pine-tree, of which the Indians used to gather large quantities for winter use. Yours truly,
|Pomona, Los Angeles Co, Cal.,
August 14, 1888
Editor Popular Science Monthly:
In looking over back numbers of "The Popular Science Monthly," an article in the issue for June, 1886, entitled "What may Animals be taught?" attracted attention. In the early part of the paper an instance of animal intelligence is quoted, and remarks thereon made by the author which, to the thinking of many, rob our "inferior brethren" of credit justly their due, and of faculties evidently their own. The instance is as follows: "M. Dubuc speaks of a pointer which had learned, after a few years, that its master went hunting every Sunday, and therefore that the animal had learned to count up to seven." The author of the article says: "This conclusion is not legitimate; it may even be said to be wrong. The dog distinguished Sunday by some features peculiar to it, by the movements about the house, the behavior and Sunday dress of the servants, the dress of the master, or any one or more of a number of things that make Sunday different from other days of the week; but we may say without contradiction that it did not count seven."
Nevertheless, facts do, to all appearance, contradict that dogmatic assertion. For myself, I can not see why the conclusion is denied that animals, as they come to apprehend the advent of Sunday, have some way of keeping count of the seven days of the week. The following fact bears directly upon that point: Something like half a century ago, the writer had the care and milking of five cows during one summer. They grazed in a pasture-lot many rods from the dwelling. It was the custom to give the animals salt every Sunday morning. They enjoyed the treat, and it was evident that they began to expect it. After a length of time—I can not say how long—a curious behavior of the cattle became conspicuous, for every Sunday morning they were found standing at the bars, the point nearest the house, with every ap-
- "Popular Science Monthly" for August, p. 569.