Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/416

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

flesh from the chin or cheek, the result being, upon the healing of the wound, the appearance of a coquettish dimple.

With the progress of civilization, the tendency is to dispense to a greater or less degree with the various forms of bodily ornamentation, and the most painful operations for the adornment of the person are given up first. The piercing of the ear, however, is still common, and continues to remind us of the customs of savages, but perhaps the day is not far distant when the earring, the bracelet, the superabundant finger-ring, the costly diamond necklace, and other reminders of savage life and social inequality may give way before the spirit of democracy which is coming to prevail more and more in our social as well as political life. And yet we must not underrate the importance that these facts from savage life have played in the world's progress. The dude, as Prof. Starr reminds us, occupies an important place in the history of culture, for personal vanity and the desire to emphasize one's individuality have done much toward the development of our aesthetic senses, and as well for the arts and sciences, and for the cultivation and satisfaction of wants outside of the mere primitive needs of food and clothing.

One might go on multiplying by the hundreds illustrations of the peculiarities of savage life, and suggesting interesting and curious survivals, but the scope of a single short article would not permit the mention of a great variety of topics that properly come within the field of primitive institutions and survivals. Volumes of interesting facts have already been gathered upon this vast and comparatively new department of study, and any one who enters upon it will increase his respect for the advantages which modern civilization has brought to us. If we examine, from the historical point of view, language, customs, mythology, mathematics, jurisprudence, property, folklore, morals, religious beliefs and superstitions, we shall find "savage opinion in a more or less rudimentary state, of which civilized man still bears the traces, and over which state he represents the greatest advance." We hear of the "freedom of the savage," but we need to remember that he is utterly dependent upon Nature for his support and is a slave to his own passions. It is estimated that it requires fifty thousand acres, or seventy-eight square miles, for the support of one man in the primitive hunting and fishing stage; consequently, as their numbers increase they are driven to cannibalism in self-defense. But with the progress of civilization, man increases his dominion over Nature, and, as a rule, we find the most highly civilized countries those where the population is densest and production greatest.

Our great World's Fair presented us with a magnificent object lesson of man's power over Nature. The marvelous rapidity of