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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/449

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

distinct peculiarities. Neither is there any room for doubt that these peculiarities are persistent throughout life. This method of testing identity would be valuable in many cases. A writer in the "British North Borneo Herald," commenting on a lecture by Mr. Galton on this subject, has spoken of the great difficulty of identifying coolies either by their photographs or measurements, and said that the question how this could best be done would probably become important in the early future of British North Borneo. Mr. Galton believes also that the difficulty of identifying pensioners and annuitants has led to the loss of large sums of money annually. A method of taking the impressions which he has used with good success is as follows: A copper plate is smoothly covered with a very thin layer of printer's ink, by means of a printer's roller. When the thumb is pressed upon the inked plate, no ink penetrates into the delicate furrows of the skin; the ridges only are inked, and these leave their impression when the thumb is pressed on paper. Turpentine readily removes the ink from the skin. A simpler process is to slightly smoke a piece of smooth metal or glass, press the thumb upon it, and then make the imprint on a bit of gummed paper that is slightly dampened. The impression is a particularly good one, and is durable enough for the purpose.

 

Judicious Charity.—The giving of money to beggars has been condemned on many sides. To bestow food or clothing upon a certain class of mendicants is also mistaken charity. The former is only an incumbrance, to be thrown away at the first opportunity; and the latter often finds its way to the pawn-shop. To prevent blankets being pawned, a benevolent Scotch lady once suggested buying them in two colors, cutting them down the middle, and sewing a half of one color to a half of the other. The pur-« pose of the gift or loan would be answered, while the blanket would be unavailable as a pledge. The poor who are most deserving of sympathy and aid require much searching out, and often, when face to face with those who fain would relieve, make the most of their miserable surroundings in order to conceal their poverty. Indiscriminate almsgiving should be avoided and organization adopted—not the organization which requires elaborately furnished offices and a staff of heavily paid officials, but that which consists of benevolent individuals who have time at their disposal, and the heart and means to give, co-operating with each other. In all cases the assistance afforded should be adapted to the circumstances of the case, and, wherever possible, assume the form of a loan in preference to that of a gift. Money should demand an equivalent of labor in some form: an out-building whitewashed, a fence mended, wood cut, coal put in, ashes or snow removed, or something else. Organization could provide common material for shirt making at proper prices by starving seamstresses, even if the articles were subsequently sold at a loss or given away. In any case let something, however simple, be required in return, so as not to destroy what self-reliance remains to the recipients of the bounty.

 

Arrow-Poison.—A letter from Mr. E. M. Stanley, read recently before the Royal Geographical Society of London, contained an extremely interesting reference to the arrow-poison used by the natives on the lower Congo. Mr. Stanley says that several of his party, being hit by the arrows of the natives, died almost immediately in great agony. The poison was found to consist of the bodies of red ants, ground to a fine powder, and then cooked in palm-oil. This mixture was smeared on the arrow-heads; its poisonous effects are due to the formic acid which is known to exist in the free state in red ants. This acid is also found in the stinging-nettle.

 

Expression in Infants.—It is not probable that infants in their earliest days give expressions of pleasure, for such expressions are largely imitative. There is but little difference during the first days of life between the joyful and the sad, the intelligent and the stupid face The child's feelings have to be called out by his experiences, and his means of expression caught from those around him. He has a few movements of reflex origin, and some that may be intuitive. According to the "Lancet," an agreeable perception or a feeling of satisfaction is necessary to the causation of a smile, while the number of sensations of a pleasurable sort