Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/150

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

of co-operation on Government work, the men form themselves into gang?, the strong with the strong and the weak with the weak, so that the weak, although they could not execute work rapidly, were yet not altogether excluded from employment. Two interesting results of the experiment of introducing labor leaders into the Government were noted; when intrusted with power, they became imbued with a sense of responsibility, and could successfully resist the establishment of state charity in the guise of work or unprofitable undertakings, and members of a revising chamber, drawn from whatever party, would resist measures which they believed not to be the deliberate will of the people.


Succession of Arctic Seasons.—In his presidential address before the Geographical Section of the British Association, Mr. Henry Seebohm gave a graphic description, largely drawn from personal experience, of the succession of the seasons in the high arctic latitudes. He said that the stealthy approach of winter on the confines of the polar basin is in strong contrast to the catastrophe which accompanies the sudden onrush of summer. One by one the flowers fade and go to seed, if they have been fortunate enough to attract by their brilliancy a bee or other suitable pollen-bearing visitor. The birds gradually collect into flocks, and prepare to wing their way to southern climes. The date upon which winter resumes its sway varies greatly in different localities, and probably the margin between an early and a late winter is considerable. The arrival of summer happens so late that the inexperienced traveler may be excused for sometimes doubting whether it really is coming at all. When continuous night has become continuous day without any perceptible approach to spring, an Alpine traveler naturally asks whether he has not reached the limit of perpetual snow. It is true that here and there a few bare patches are to be found on the steepest slopes, especially if they have a southern exposure. It is also true that small flocks of little birds may be observed flitting from one of these bare places to another; but their appearance does not give the same confidence in the arrival of summer to the arctic naturalist as the arrival of the swallow or the cuckoo does to his brethren in the subarctic and subtropic climates. The birds seen are only gypsy migrants that are perpetually flitting to and fro on the confines of the frost, continually being driven south by snowstorms, but ever ready to take advantage of the slightest thaw to press northward again to their favorite arctic home. The gradual rise in the level of the river inspires no more confidence in the final melting away of the snow and the disruption of the ice which supports it. In Siberia the rivers are so enormous that a rise of five or six feet is scarcely perceptible. During the summer which the author spent in the valley of the Yenisei there were six feet of snow on the ground. To all intents and purposes it was midwinter, illuminated for the nonce with what amounted to continuous daylight. During May there were a few signs of the possibility of some mitigation of the rigors of winter, but these were followed by frost. At last, when the final victory of summer looked most hopeless, a change took place; the wind turned to the south, the sun retired behind the clouds, mists obscured the landscape, and the snow melted "like butter upon hot toast. . . . The effect on the great river was magical. Its thick armor of ice cracked with a loud noise like the rattling of thunder, every twenty-four hours it was lifted up a fathom above its former level, broken up, first into ice-floes and then into pack-ice, and marched down stream at least a hundred miles. Even at this great speed it was more than a fortnight before the last straggling ice-blocks passed our post of observation on the Arctic Circle; but during that time the river had risen seventy feet above its winter level, although it was three miles wide, and we were in the middle of a blazing hot summer, picking flowers of a hundred different kinds, and feasting upon wild ducks' eggs of various species. Birds abounded to an incredible extent."


Analysis of Volcanic Ashes.—An analysis has been made by M. A. F. Nogues of the ashes and volcanic sands thrown up by the volcano Calbuco, in Chili, during an eruption which began in February, 1893, and had not ceased in December. The fine dust products were projected to places as far off as Moutt, Valdivia, and La Union, at distances varying from twenty-five to one hundred and twelve