Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/735

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
717
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

and twenty-third year of Rome. It is also common among the negroes of the Guinea coast and in Persia. The idea was to drive the prayer into the body of the idol, the god, the sacrosanct and worshiped tree; and a form of the practice survives in Brittany, where saints' statues have replaced primitive idols, and women's pins do duty for nails. About six miles west of Tokio, at Habashi, is the stump of an old ye-tree (Celtis Willdenowiana), so covered with exvotos that its fame must be surpassing. Morsels of its decayed wood are sold to those who have grown weary of their loves. The force of the remedy lies in the application of it. The tinder is boiled, the damsel is got to drink of the charm unawares, and immediately she goes her ways, and leaves her charmer to sing "Joy go with her!" The bunches of spindles which grow on the great bosses or tumors of the shiraga-matsu (Pinus Thunbergii) are still revered as the nests or lairs of the Ten-gu, or heavenly dog, which inhabits mountains or lonely spots, has a long snout, two claws on each foot and hand, and a pair of wings.

 

Protective Charms.—Charms against almost any of the ills and dangers of life can be obtained in Burmah from the Buddhist priests, for a trifling consideration. One of these Wise Men will furnish a charm warranted to protect the wearer against being shot, for five or six rupees (between two and three dollars). One of these charms, obtained by an English officer, consisted of a tiny figure of Gaudama, in a sitting posture, not much exceeding a large pea in size, carved in ivory. In order to become proof against sword-wounds, a medicine made by the priest must be eaten. A specimen of this medicine resembled in appearance and odor dried leaves or bark finely powdered. Charms for other purposes consist of curious devices tattooed on various parts of the breast and shoulders; also of bits of ivory, silver, lead, etc., inscribed with magic spells, inserted under the skin. The Burman's faith in these charms is very deep-rooted, and in spite of frequent and painful proofs of their fallibility he does not seem to lose confidence in their magical properties. The injured man himself is generally the first to find an excuse for the failure of his tali-man to protect him. Holders of gun-charms assert confidently that a gun fired at them will not go off, or will burst, but their faith is not so strong that they will consent to an experimental test.

 

Dr. Nansen's Greenland Expedition—Dr. Frithiof Nansen has successfully accomplished the experiment which we described several months ago as about to be undertaken, of crossing Greenland from the eastern to the western side, and arrived at Godthaab on the 3d of October last. The party had some difficulty, owing to a southerly drift in which they were caught, in making a landing on the eastern coast as far north as they desired, but finally started to cross the inland ice from Umiavik, latitude 64° 30', on the 15th of August. A course was at first set toward the northwest for Christianshaab, in Disco Bay; but much time being lost through severe northerly snow-storms, Dr. Nansen was compelled to turn to the westward for the nearer settlement of Godthaab. The western coast was reached after forty-six days' traveling, the distance from the point of departure being 280 geographical miles. For several weeks the explorers were at an altitude of more than 9,000 feet above sea-level, and suffered from snowstorms and loose snow, and a temperature of between 40° and 50° below freezing. As the last Danish ship of the season was not able to wait for them to be embarked upon it, the party will have to spend the winter in Godthaab.

 

Longevity of Professional Men.—The comparative longevity of professional men may be accounted for by reference to the exceptionally favorable conditions under which they exist. While the man who is in trade is tormented by anxiety over the uncertainties of the morrow, and the man who has made a fortune and retired is, unless he has cultivated a hobby, a prey to inanition, and liable to feel that he has no longer a welcome place in the world, the professional man of fifty has learned what he can do, and has adjusted himself to a career for which he is fitted. If he is making a fortune, his life is full of interest and brings little trouble or anxiety to himself. It is not his own case that the lawyer pleads, the physician com-