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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/590

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

corded geological tree." But their ancestors are supposed to have been pushed down by the glaciers and left where the modern forms are found. Almost anywhere in the boreal flora Diapensia lapponica may be found, whether in northern Asia, or Europe, or America, or even on the mountains of Labrador and in the Pyrenees, the Scotch mountains, and our own White Mountains.

 

The Academy della Crusca.—"For three hundred years," says a correspondent of the London Athenæum, "the learned body, the Academy of la Crusca (the bran), Florence, has been scrupulously sifting the Italian tongue and producing successive editions of its monumental dictionary. Its present seat i?i in the monastery of St. Mark—Savonarola's cloister—where it occupies the hall behind the great library. When an associate is promoted to full membership, his official reception is still accompanied by the traditional rite. First, he is solemnly conducted to the Cruscan museum, and left to solitary meditation among shovel-backed chairs surmounted by the symbolical sieve and bookcases ingeniously fashioned in the likeness of corn sacks. The walls are covered with the names, crests, and mottoes of former members, who in past times usually assumed fantastic titles descriptive of the academy's labors." Some of these printed inscriptions and comical devices are more or less quaint. Thus, Dr. Giulio Maxi in 1590 took the name of Il Fiorito, or the flowery one, with the device of a basket of wheat in bloom and the motto from Petrarch (translation):

"I enjoy the present and hope for better."

In 1641 the Senator Vieri appeared as Le Svanito, the evaporated, with an uncorked wine flask, the stopper beside it, and the motto:

"Oh, how I long for the medicine!"

In 1660 the Marquis Malaskini adopted the title of Il Preservato, the preserved, the device of olives packed in straw, and the motto from Petrarch:

"Keep the prize green."

In 1764, the Abbot Giuseppe Pelli, surnamed Il Megliorato, the improved, took the device of a newly invented sieve for the better sifting of grain, with the Petrarchian motto:

"Follow the few, and not the throng."

In 1770, Signor Domenico Manni assumed the title of Il Sofferente, the sufferer, with a straw chair as his device, and a motto from Dante:

"The master said that lying in a feather bed One would not come to fame—nor under the plowshare."

In due time the new member is escorted to the hall where the academy is assembled, and the chief consul, head of the academy, greets him with a speech, to which he has to make a fitting reply. Historical Italian families are numerously represented on the academy's rolls, and among the foreign members are the names of William Roscoe and Mr. Gladstone.

 

Aboriginal Superstitions about Bones.—A very interesting archæological site in Mexico, visited by Carl Lumholtz and Aleš Hedlička in the fall of 1896, is near Zacápu, in the State of Michoacan. The region is marked by many stone mounds on or near the edge of the old flow of lava, extending for several miles; and directly above the village stands a large stone fortress, called El Palacio. Excavating near this fortress, Mr. Lumholtz unearthed several skeletons, which had been buried without any order, and accompanied by "remarkably few objects," but some of these were well worthy of study. The most curious things found were some bones, strangely marked with grooves across them, exhibiting a little variety in arrangement, but all similarly executed, and evidently after a carefully devised system. This feature is so far unique in archæology, and its purpose can as yet be only a matter of conjecture. Two ways are proposed by the author of explaining it. The marking may have been an operation undertaken for the purpose of dispatching the dead. Mr. Lumholtz is knowing to a belief among the tribes of Mexico that the dead are troublesome to the survivors for at least one year, and certain ceremonies and feasts in regard to them have to be observed in order to prevent them from doing harm, and to drive them away. The Tarahumares guard their beer against them, and others provide a special altar with food for the dead on it at their rain-making feasts, else the spirits would work some mischief. Among many tribes an offering is made to