Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/739

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brought above the surface for a second, and then disappear; but any attempt to remain on the surface leads to ludicrous splashing and confusion, for the submarine bird can not float. The movements of the cormorant are quite different. It does not plunge headlong, but "launches itself on the surface, and then 'ducks' like a grebe. Its wings are not used as propellers, but trail unresistingly level with its body, and the speed at which it courses through the water is wholly due to the swimming powers of its large and ugly webbed feet. These are set quite at the end of the body, and work incessantly like a treadle, or the floats of a stern-wheel steamer. Yet the conditions of submarine motion are so favorable that the speed of the bird below the surface is three or four times greater than that gained by equally rapid movements of the feet when it has risen and is swimming on the top." The "darters"—divers of the African and American lakes, compared to the survival of some ancient lizard—dive and swim much like the cormorant, except that the bird keeps its neck drawn back in the form of a flattened S when in pursuit of the fish. "Once within striking distance, the sharp bill is shot out as if from a catapult, and the fish is spiked through and carried to the surface. This ascent is made after each single capture. Sometimes the bird has great difficulty in disentangling the pierced fish from the spearlike beak, and its companion adroitly relieves it of the struggling victim and swallows the prize."

An Ominous Forecast.—A dismal future is foreseen by M. Leroy Beaulieu, with two new and exhaustive processes going on in Europe, and, we might add, demanded by large classes in America. They are the rapid increase of state and communal expenditure, which in France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain is augmenting by leaps and bounds, mainly for unproductive outlay on defense; and the other is the still more rapid increase of demands for grants-in-aid to institutions intended to benefit the poorer classes. More education, more guarantees, more "civilization" of all kinds—there is no end to the proposals. Every European state except Austria-Hungary has already a large deficit; besides which the communal expenditure is advancing Incessantly in France, and in a less degree in Germany, while in Italy it is menacing the foundations of society. It is impossible that the twofold expenditure, on the means of killing and on the means of philanthropy, should go on without new taxation, and every tax diminishes the fund available for the payment of labor. No prospect is seen of these two depleting processes coming speedily to an end. Formerly they were checked by the rage of the taxpaying classes; but universal suffrage disregards that, and may go on taxing until its mood changes, or its own sources of supply begin visibly to fail. The demands partly urged by actual necessities, and otherwise being in the line of modern philanthropy, "which desires improvement in everything except manly independence," and further promoted by the fact that reasonable wants increase more rapidly than the means of satisfying them, are likely to go on advancing. In view of these circumstances, men of M. Leroy Beaulieu's school think that a time of grave economic distress, producing great social and political changes, is at hand for western Europe.


The plague reported as prevailing m China is described by a correspondent of the British Medical Journal as presenting all the symptoms of the true bubonic pest which devastated Europe in the middle ages. Although extinct in Europe, this pest has never ceased to prevail in China from time to time, and has also spread from there to Persia and Asiatic Russia. The present outbreak is characterized by intense symptoms corresponding to those of typhus, and by the bubonic boils characteristic of the disease. Europeans are not affected by it, except the soldiers who come directly in contact with it in disinfecting work. It is extremely contagious from person to person, but the danger from aerial infection is slight.

In the "Crump Burial Cave," Blount County, Ala., which was discovered in 1840, were several coffins of black and white walnut, "dug out" of logs, twelve or fifteen human skulls, and other human bones scattered about, masses of galena, grooved like the aboriginal stone axes or mauls, as if for use as war clubs, and other more usual implements. Near this cave Mr. Frank Burns has since found an Indian ladder that had been used to climb up to a "rock house," a large, roomy, dry place under overhanging