Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/439

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

trees; one of a bird, and one of a cow; four of crosses; three of circles or of impressions of coins carried about the person; two of horseshoes; one of a nail; one of a metal comb; one of a number or numeral; one of the words of a sentence; one of the back of an arm-chair. Many other instances of similar impressions are recorded.

 

Diseases of Advancing Age.—Dr. J. F. Alleyne Adams, in his Shattuck Lecture on the Prevention of Diseases, considers some of the causes of the increase of the diseases of mature or advancing age. The first is the natural tendency of an advancing but still imperfect civilization. We have arrived at nullifying the law of natural selection in youth by the care we take of our weaklings, but have not yet reached that high moral condition and power of self-restraint which are needed to enable us to carry out the contest to the end, and these weaklings consequently succumb early in the downward course. A second cause is found in the rapid growth of cities, the influence of the life in which is to degeneration. A third cause appears in the influence of the war, which took away our most vigorous men. Other causes acting more directly are, the general prevalence of digestive disturbances, due in part to an improper diet and in part to a weakness of digestion caused by lack of exercise and mental strain; a lack of general vigor due to insufficient exercise; the excitement and anxiety which pervade all occupations at the present day; and—most potent and destructive—the intemperate use of alcoholic stimulants.

 

The People of Mashonaland.—A paper concerning the country in South Africa "which has somehow or another got the name of Mashonaland" was read in the British Association by Mr. Theodore Bent. The inhabitants are an oppressed and impoverished race who, raided upon from both sides by Zulus, take refuge in the mountains. They are obviously a race which has seen better days, retaining traces of a higher civilization in their skill in smelting iron, their ornaments, their musical instruments, and many other kindred points. Though of different tribes, the inhabitants all call themselves by one race name, Makalanga. This is philologically the same as Mocaranga, which a Portuguese writer of the sixteenth century called the people of the country; and in the accounts, given at that time, of the manners and customs of the tribes we recognize certain salient features which connect them with the present race. They describe to us the tribal witch-doctor, the ancestor-worship which is still carried on, their methods of catching game, the filing of their teeth, and numerous other customs indubitably connecting them with the present race. Hence it is very clear to us that the country now called Mashonaland has been inhabited for at least a thousand years by the ancestors of the present barbarous race—a race of men who at one time became powerful and almost civilized, owing to their intercourse doubtless with foreign traders, but who during the later centuries have fallen away into barbarism. Among the traits connecting them with external races and pointing to Semitic influences, are: the assumption of a dynastic or tribal name with the disuse of his old name, by each chief, of whatever degree, on his inheriting his chiefdom. Such names are used just as the name Pharaoh was used in ancient Egypt and continue for centuries. Each of the Makalanga tribes has its totem. In M'Topo's country it is the lion into which the spirits of their ancestors are supposed to go, and this animal is believed to fight for them in battle. To the lion they sacrifice annually, and the chief priest of the tribe is called the lion priest, the Mondoro. Other tribes have the crocodile, the leopard, and so forth. Totems of similar nature are found, as Prof. Glover demonstrates, among the tribes of southern Arabia in remote antiquity. In religion the present inhabitants of Mashonaland are distinctly monotheists. They believe in one god whom they term Muali, a great and mysterious personage unapproachable by mortals; so they have elected as their intercessors Mozimos, or spirits of their ancestors, to whom they sacrifice annually, and offer prayers for their well-being. The existence among the Makalangas of a day of rest during the plowing season is very curious. They call it "Muali's" or "God's day." In Mangwendi's country the chief ordains it and orders that his tribe abstain from work on every sixth day during the periods of industry. This day is invariably employed by the men in drink-