Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/757

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formity all over the island—a uniformity at an extreme of human variation be it noted: for this population is entirely free from all intermixture with the Alpine race so prevalent in the north.

We have now seen how gradual is the transition from one half of Italy to the other. The surprising fact in it all is that there should be as much uniformity as our maps indicate. Despite all the overturns, the ups and downs of three thousand years of recorded history and an unknown age precedent to it, it is wonderful to observe how thoroughly all foreign ethnic elements have been melted down into the general population. The political unification of all Italy, the rapid extension of means of communication, and, above all, the growth of great city populations constantly recruited from the rural districts, will speedily blot out all remaining traces of local differences of origin. Not so with the profound contrasts between the extremes of north and south. These must ever stand as witness to differences of physical origin as wide apart as Asia is from Africa. This is a question which we defer to a subsequent article in our series, when we shall return specifically to trace the geographical origin of these great European elemental races each by itself.


THE recent improvements in kites have suggested perhaps to many the question, "How would Franklin perform his kite experiment to-day?" It may seem a little presumptuous to speak for that unique philosopher, and attempt to outline the modifications he would introduce were he to walk on earth again and fly kites as of yore; for, with the exception of Jefferson, perhaps his was the most far-seeing and ingenious mind of a remarkable age. But the world moves; and in making kites, as well as in devising electrometers and apparatus for measuring the electricity of the air, great advances have been made. Franklin would enjoy repeating his kite experiment to-day, using modern apparatus. What changes and lines of investigation he would suggest are beyond conjecture.

A hundred and fifty years ago a ragged colonial regiment drew up before the home of its philosopher-colonel and fired an ill-timed salute in his honor. A fragile electrical instrument was shaken from a shelf and shattered. Franklin doubtless appreciated the salute and regretted the accident. In the course of his long life he received other salutes, as when the French Academy