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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 34/March 1889/Popular Miscellany

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 34‎ | March 1889

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

M. Chevreul's New-Year's-Day.—M. Chevreul, who was a hundred and two years old on the 31st of August last, had a happy New-Year. According to an authentic account of his present daily life, given in "La Nature," he awakes at five o'clock in the morning, and is served a few minutes afterward with a warm broth, which he takes with a relish. While resting in bed he reads the papers, and then receives a few visits, particularly one from his preparateur, M. Arnaud. At eleven o'clock, still in bed, he takes a plentiful breakfast of soup, meat, and café au lait, with much bread and butter. At one he rises, dresses, and is ready to take the air for two hours. Conducted by his faithful coachman, Joseph, who has been in his service for twenty years, he often drives to the Monceau Park; but his favorite excursion is to the Eiffel Tower. Returning at five o'clock, he takes a glass of milk and goes to bed. He dines in bed at seven o'clock, with a good appetite, drinking nothing but water. After dinner, he sleeps soundly; and when M. Arnaud asks him in the morning, as he always does, if he has enjoyed a good night's rest, he replies that he has never had any other kind. M. Chevreul is living with his son, and enjoys the devoted and intelligent care of his old servant Denise, who has been with him for fifty years.

 

The Australasian Association.—The first meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science was held at Sydney, beginning August 28th, under the presidency of Prof. Black. About eight hundred and fifty members were present, and one hundred and ten papers were sent in. One of the topics discussed in the presidential address was the place of chemistry in education. The accounts of the sectional meetings are scanty. We find mentioned in the Chemical Section, the papers of Mr. Dixon, on "The Formation of Coal," in which the different qualities of the mineral were ascribed to different kinds of vegetable matter of which it is composed; of Mr. Smith, on "Butterine," which was well spoken of; of Mr. Mingaye, on the "Discovery of Tellurium in Certain Bismuth Ores" in New South Wales; of Mr. Edgar Hall, on "Silver Smelting," etc., which was exceedingly well received; of Mr. W. Skey and Mr. Don on "Gold" in the Australian reefs; and of Mr. J. H. Maiden, on the "Chemistry of Indigenous Australian Products." The formation of this association was suggested in 1879, begun in 1884, and completed at this meeting, which was held in connection with the one hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the colony of New South Wales; and was most actively promoted by Prof. Liversidge. The scheme of its organization has been so arranged as to make it truly representative of all the Australian colonies. Each learned or scientific society may have one representative in the Council for every hundred of its members. The Presidents of the Royal Societies of the several colonies are among the vice-presidents. The presidents of sections were all selected from other colonies than New South Wales, while the secretaries were, of course, residents of the place of meeting, Sydney. It is understood that the meetings are to be held in rotation through the colonies, and the officers chosen accordingly. The meeting for 1889 is to be held in Melbourne, with Baron Sir Ferdinand von Müller as president; and the meeting for 1890 will be in New Zealand.

 

Habits of the Red Squirrel.—Dr. R. Bell, of the Canadian Geological Survey, says that over more than one half of its range, the chickaree, or red squirrel (Sciurus Hudsonius, Pennant), lives chiefly on the seeds of the black and the white spruce, and evidently thrives on this diet. "Their mode of obtaining a supply of cones is ingenious. The cones grow principally at the tops of the spruce-trees, and the largest and finest are always to be found there. The chickaree selects a tree which, either from the steepness and density of its upper part or from its leaning to one side, makes it certain that the cones, if detached, will fall to the ground; then he cuts off the heavily laden twigs and lets them drop. This is done with an impatient rapidity. Should a person be sitting quietly under a tree while one of these busy little creatures is at work at the top, he will see the bunches of cones come tumbling down in such quick succession that he might suppose half a dozen squirrels were at work instead of only one industrious little fellow. These bunches seldom lodge in the branches below, but should the squirrel on his way down (after having cut off a satisfactory supply) notice one of them arrested in a hopeful position toward the extremity of a bough, he will sometimes run out and give it a second sendoff. In climbing tall spruce-trees for observations of the surrounding country, I have often noticed bunches of cones lodged where, if started off a second time, they would be certain to catch again in the thick branches before reaching the ground. The squirrels seem to understand the situation perfectly, and they leave such bunches to their fate, probably arguing that it would be easier for them to cut off fresh ones than to trouble themselves further about property lost beyond hope of profitable recovery—a piece of wisdom which the most successful business men have also learned to follow. The chickaree, having thrown down a sufficient stock for a few days' use, proceeds to carry them, as required, to his favorite feeding-place near by. I have occasionally noticed a squirrel feeding with a fresh cone lying beside the one he was actually dining off, as if it were waiting to be attacked the moment he got through with the first. They peel off the scales in succession, and nibble out the seeds with great rapidity. They leave their stock lying about under the tree, and only carry off one or two cones at a time. A little drying causes the scales to gape, and so facilitates the opening process."

 

Protection of Piles against the Teredo.—A series of experiments has been made in San Francisco Harbor on the best method of protecting piles against the attacks of the teredo. Five methods of preparation were tried, viz.: Jacketing with sewer pipe and filling the space between pile and pipe with concrete of sand, gravel, and Portland cement; covering with asphaltum and wire cloth; washing, in four coats, with a secret marine cement that contained an extremely poisonous substance of great efficiency; washing with Portland cement and other secret ingredients; and covering with burlap and a paste of naphtha, carbon bisulphide, limestone, kaolin, sawdust, and sulphur. The treated piles were all barked. Besides these, some piles in the natural condition, untreated but covered with their bark, were driven down. Of a number pulled for examination after about four years, all of the treated piles except those prepared by the first method were hopelessly riddled by the teredo, and only one was strong enough to be removed without breaking, while the untreated ones were only slightly attacked, and were practically as sound as ever. The coatings applied by the various experimenters, depending upon their adhesion to the pile, utterly failed to afford even the protection given by the bark. The result agrees with experiments made in other places. Inclosing with drain-pipes and packing with concrete affords adequate protection, but the expense of the method—thirty dollars a pile—makes it unavailable.

 

Bulgarian Wines.—It is only of recent years that the cultivation and production of the vine have attained any considerable proportions in Bulgaria. Formerly it was looked upon as a most unimportant industry. Now there are about 172,000 acres of land under vine-cultivation in north and south Bulgaria. The yield of wine per acre varies between 250 and 350 gallons, two thirds of which is red wine and the remainder white. The wine in some vineyards is said not to be inferior to the best natural wines of other European countries. In 1886 some 140,000 gallons of wines were exported from southern Bulgaria to the south of France. There they were manipulated and sold as the products of the country. The phylloxera made its appearance a few years ago, but stringent measures were at once taken to stamp it out, and very strict regulations are enforced to prevent its return.

 

The Chemistry of an Egg-Shell.—The shell proper of an egg is made up mostly of earthy materials. The proportions vary according to the food of the bird, but ninety to ninety-seven per cent is carbonate of lime. The remainder is composed of from two to five per cent of animal matter and from one to five per cent of phosphate of lime and magnesia. Now, Mr. P. L. Simmonds asks, where does the hen procure the carbonate of lime with which to form the shell? If we confine fowls in a room, and feed them with any of the cereal grains, excluding all sand, dust, or earthy matter, they will go on for a time and lay eggs, each one having a perfect shell, made up of the same calcareous elements. Vauquelin shut up a hen for ten days, and fed her exclusively upon oats, of which she consumed 7,474 grains in weight. During this time four eggs were laid, the shells of which weighed nearly 409 grains; of this amount 276 grains were carbonate of lime, 171/2 grains phosphate of lime, and 10 grains gluten. But there is only a little carbonate of lime in oats, and whence could this 409 grains of the rocky material have been derived? The answer to this question opens up some of the most curious and wonderful facts connected with animal chemistry. The body of a bird, like that of a man, is but a piece of chemical apparatus, made capable of transforming hard and fixed substances into others of a very unlike nature. In oats there is contained phosphate of lime, with an abundance of silica, and the stomach and assimilating organs of the bird are made capable of decomposing the lime-salt and forming with the silica a silicate of lime. This new body is itself made to undergo decomposition, and the base is combined with carbonic acid, forming carbonate of lime. The carbonic acid is probably derived from the atmosphere, or more directly perhaps from the blood. These chemical changes among hard inorganic bodies are certainly wonderful when we reflect that they are brought about in the delicate organs of a comparatively feeble bird, under the influence of animal heat and the vital forces. They embrace a series of decomposing and recomposing operations which it is difficult to imitate in the laboratory.

 

Fresh-Water Sponges.—The fresh-water sponges, according to Mr. Edward Pott's monograph, resemble in constitution and general appearance many of the sponges of a marine habitat, with the addition that they have gemmules or "seed-like bodies," which marine sponges have not. They are green, but may be distinguished from mosses and Confervæ by the difference between smooth, slender threads and leaves; by the presence of efferent or discharging apertures; and, with a lens, by their spicules—to which finding the spherical gemmules adds further confirmation. The green color varies according to the light, and may, in dark places, or dark parts of the sponge, be faded into nearly white, gray, or cream color; but some species are never green in the sunlight. These organisms have occasionally been discovered growing in water unfit for domestic uses; but as a rule they prefer pure water, and in the author's experience the finest specimens have always been found where they were subjected to the most rapid currents. "The lower side of large, loose stones at the 'riffs' or shallow places in streams; the rocks amid the foaming water at the foot of a mill-dam fall; the timbers of a sluice-way, the casing of a turbine water-wheel, or the walls of a 'tail-race' beneath an old mill—in all these places they have been found in great abundance and of a very lusty growth. Of all discouraging situations it is almost hopeless to look for them in shallow water having a mud bottom. . . . In any body of water liable to be charged with sedimentary material, the principle of natural selection favors those growing on the lower side of their bases of support, which protect them from the intrusion of the heavier particles. For that reason perpendicular and water-logged or floating timbers, submerged stumps of trees, and branches drooping into the water from trees or bushes along the banks, are favorite locations. They do not disdain more temporary support, such as weeds and water-grasses. . . . Through the clear water of our Northern lakes we may often see them lying in slender lines upon the leaves of submerged weeds, or in beautiful, cushion-like masses upon the stones or gravel." The best season for collecting them is from July till late in November.

 

Geological Floras.—M. de Saporta's views on the origin of our forest-groupings were substantially concurred in by Prof. W. Boyd Dawkins, in his vice-presidential address before the Geological Section of the British Association. Having referred to the characteristic features of the earlier floras, much as M. de Saporta has done, and to the antiquity of the gingko (which has descended from the Carboniferous age), he says: "In North America the flora of the Dakota series so closely resembles the Miocene of Switzerland that Dr. Heer had no hesitation in assigning it in the first instance to the Miocene age. It consists of about one hundred species, of which about one half are closely allied to those now living in the forests of North America—sassafras, tulip, plane, willow, oak, poplar, maple, birch, together with sequoia, the ancestor of the giant redwood of California. The first palms appear also in both continents at this place in the geological record. In the Tertiary period there is an unbroken sequence in the floras, as Mr. Starkie Gairdner has proved, when they are traced over many latitudes, and most of the types still survive at the present day, but slightly altered. If, however. Tertiary floras of different ages are met with in one area, considerable differences are to be seen, due to progressive alterations in the climate and altered distribution of the land. As the temperature of the northern hemisphere became lowered, the tropical forests were pushed nearer and nearer to the equator, and were replaced by plants of colder habits from the northern regions, until, in the Pleistocene age, the arctic plants were forced far to the south of their present habitat. In consequence of this, Mr. Gairdner concludes that ' it is useless to seek in the arctic regions for Eocene floras as we know them in our latitudes, for during the Tertiary period the climatic condition of the earth did not permit their growth there. Arctic fossil floras of temperate and, therefore, Miocene aspect are in all probability of Eocene age, and what has been recognized in them as a newer or Miocene facies is due to their having been first studied in Europe in latitudes which only became fit for them in Miocene times. When stratigraphical evidence is absent or inconclusive, this unexpected persistence of plant-types or species throughout the Tertiaries should be remembered, and the degrees of latitude in which they are found should be well considered before conclusions are published respecting their relative age.' This view is consistent with that held by the leaders in botany—Hooker, Dyer, Saporta, Dawson, and Asa Gray—that the north polar region is the center of dispersal, from which the dicotyledons spread over the northern hemisphere."

 

Science and Trade-Routes.—In the first part of his presidential address before the Geographical Section of the British Association, Colonel Sir C. W. Wilson showed, by numerous historical references, how the trade routes of the world are and have always been governed by physiographical conditions, and by accidents of war and human operations, which, making one route inconvenient, have compelled the opening of another. To cope with these conditions, and find and possess the best route, is one of the functions of the scientific geographer. The discovery of the Cape route was no mere accident, but the result of scientific training, deep study, careful preparation, and indomitable perseverance. Prince Henry, having determined to find a direct route to India, invited the most eminent men of science to instruct a number of young men who were educated under his own eye, and in a few years he made the Portuguese the most scientific navigators ia Europe. The voyage of Vasco da Gama, with its grand commercial results, followed. For a correct determination of the lines which the shortened trade-routes and great maritime canals we are seeking to locate should follow, a sound knowledge of geography and the physical condition of the earth is necessary; and instruction in this direction should form an important feature in any educational course of commercial geography. The great problem of the future is the inland carrying trade, and one of the immediate commercial questions of the day is, Who is to supply the interiors of the great continents of Asia and Africa, and other large areas not open to direct sea traffic? It is not altogether impossible to foresee the lines which inland trade must follow, and the places which must become centers, or to map out the districts which will be dependent on those places. These questions as to a part of Central Asia may have been partly solved by a voyage. which Mr Wiggins made last year. Acting upon a conviction which he had reached by a strict method of induction, that the Gulf Stream passed through the straits into the Kara Sea, and, acting with the floods of the Obi and Yenisei, would free that sea from ice and keep it open for navigation during a part of each year, he sailed to Yeniseisk, some two thousand miles up the Yenisei, within a few hundred versts of the Chinese frontier, and landed his goods there. The science of commercial geography is not confined to a knowledge of the localities in which those products of the earth that have a commercial value are to be found, and of the best markets for them. Its higher aims are to divine, by a combination of historical retrospect and scientific foresight, the channels through which commerce will flow in the future, and the points at which new centers of trade must arise in obedience to known laws.

 

The Underground Waters of England.—In a paper on the underground waters in the permeable formations of England, Mr. E. E. De Ranee said that the remarkable drought that that country experienced during 1887 had brought out in strong relief the advantage of public water-supplies being drawn from underground sources, where the rainfall of wet periods is not only stored in the sandstone rocks, but is delivered filtered from organic impurity and at a constant equable temperature. Notwithstanding the unprecedented period of dry weather, the public wells of Liverpool, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Southport, Nottingham, South Staffordshire, and the Staffordshire pottery works gave their daily supply undiminished, while the gravitation works of the Manchester corporation and the whole of the east Lancashire towns were on short supply, and in some instances failed altogether. The levels taken at a well at Booking, in Essex, for several years, showed that the water-level was uplifted by the Essex earthquake of April 22, 1884. This acquired level was gradually diminishing, at a rate which would bring back the original level by August, 1888.

 

Chinese Names.—The Chinaman bears his father's name; the woman, on marrying, takes her husband's name and adds her father's to it. Thus, when Miss Wang marries Mr. Ly, while she might usually be called Mrs. Ly, she must in formal acts sign herself Ly-Wang. People of the lower classes have names the character of which varies in different places. In Pekin, a number answers the purpose, and we have for Mr. Chang's sons, the elder Chang, second Chang, third Chang, etc. At Canton they add ah and a surname, and we have Chang-ah-brave and Chang ah-honest, if it is a man; Chang-ah silver, Chang-ah-pearl, if it is a woman. In Fuhkien they double the character and give Chang-stone-stone, Chang-great-great, etc. When a youth goes to school, his teacher selects a name for him consisting of two characters, such as "Five Stars," "Long Life," or some other fantastic designation; but only the teacher and the other pupils can use this surname. As soon as a young man is married, his own friends or the friends of his wife's family give him a name which is used only by members of the agnatic family; but this custom is not very faithfully observed. When a person presents himself for the public examinations, or is seeking a position, he usually chooses a name composed of two characters, which becomes the only name under which he is officially known. A person who has never been to school, is not married, and never obtains an official position, can only have his family name and his regular surname, according to the custom of the province. The school and marriage names being of little importance, persona may be classed, generally, according to their names, as official and non-official. Those of the latter class have only their name and surname, unless they have acquired a nickname, like Chang-dog's-eye, Wang the gimlet, etc. Persons of the official class have three names: the family name; the official name, used only officially; and the private name, used by friends. On the death of an official personage, the emperor will, if he thinks best, confer upon him a posthumous name.

 

Improved Gas Heating Appliances.—A new gas heating appliance has been devised by Mr. Thomas Fletcher, F. C. S., of Warrington, England, who, in exhibiting it at Liverpool, fused a large hole in a plate of quarter-inch-thick wrought-iron in a few seconds, without preparation, and with apparatus which could be carried by a man up a ladder and used in any position. There is, therefore, no longer such a thing as a burglar-proof safe, for with this invention it is simply a question of minutes to fuse a hole large enough for a man to enter in any wrought-iron or steel door in existence. The professional burglar is always ready to utilize the latest applications of science, and may be expected to take this apparatus in hand. In fact, Mr. Fletcher's furnaces, designed to assist in chemical research, are used by receivers of stolen goods to reduce plate and jewelry to ingots. The form of this blow-pipe which Mr. Fletcher exhibited was noisy in action, but he stated that burglars would probably succeed in making it silent. A serious obstacle to their doing this, however, is that the machinery necessary for producing the noiseless form is both costly and large. The matter is one to which bankers and safe-makers should give their attention.

 

Forestry In Switzerland.—The present forestry law of Switzerland was enacted in 1876, and is applied to the mountain districts and the hills on the plains, covering about 60 per cent of the country, of which 15·8 per cent is forest-land. The rights of private owners are not affected except where their woods are "protecting" woods, or might have an influence on the climate, avalanches, land-slips, etc. All woods under official supervision have to be demarkated, clearings planted afresh, and new forests created where necessary, the Government bearing a just share of the expense. All servitudes or easements in "protecting" woods were to be redeemed in ten years, and no new ones were allowed to be created. Anything that might endanger the utility of the forests was forbidden. Cattle were not allowed to graze, and leaves could not be collected, except in fixed spots. A two months' course of education is prescribed to be given to each student of forestry by the canton to entitle it to the federal subsidy. It includes forest surveying and measurement in detail; road-making, and safeguards against avalanches; study of the different kinds of timber and of noxious plants; elementary knowledge of soils and of their component parts; fundamental notions of the laws of climate and meteorology; cultivation and care of forests; and book-keeping and other general branches of instruction valuable for under-foresters. These provisions were put in operation very slowly, waiting the compliance of the cantons; and even yet each canton possesses in a measure its own scheme of forestry organization.

 

An Aged Spider.—In the summer of 1887 an American tarantula died, which had been in the possession of Mr. H. C. McCook over five years, and which he estimates was at least seven and perhaps eight years old. This spider, which Mr. McCook had named "Leidy," after Dr. Joseph Leidy, from whom he had received it, thus attained the distinction of having reached the greatest age of any spider known to science. The fragments of a cast skin were found near the carcass of the tarantula, indicating that it had died shortly after molting. "Leidy" had shed its skin several times during its confinement. Mr. McCook has had best success in keeping large spiders alive by feeding them a generous supply of living insects during the summer and early autumn, and withholding food almost entirely during the remainder of the year. Spiders require water quite as much as other animals. They do not become torpid in winter, if kept in a room heated to a moderate temperature. "Leidy" kept a rug-like web spread on the ground in the box which it inhabited, and when this became soiled, by earth or food débris, it was soon overspread with a clean layer. In this way a thick mass of intermingled soil and silk was formed. The only effort at nest-building which it made was a rude burrow against the side of the box. This burrow was entirely destitute of silken lining, although occasionally the opening would be over-spun with a thin sheet.

 

Origin of Archæan Graphite.—In a paper at the British Association on the origin of graphite in the archæan rocks, the Rev. A. Irving points out that the occurrence of carbon in late rocks as the result of plant-life is no argument to prove that the graphite of the archæan is of similar origin. Indeed, conditions were then so different that this mode of origin is extremely unlikely. Elementary carbon is produced in three ways: in pig-iron, by reduction of carbonic acid by alkali metals, and by contact action of heated surfaces on hydrocarbons. As hydrocarbons exist in the heads of comets, some method of origin like the last is far more probable than that the graphite should be phytogenic. The author thought that Möbius's investigations disproved the organic origin of eozoön; the iron oxides of the American archæan would come from the combustion of iron vapor in oxygen, while the unfossiliferous limestones of the archæan can be explained on purely chemical and physical principles.

 

The Country Schools of New York.—The State Superintendent of Public Instruction of New York, in his last report, draws an unpleasant picture of the condition of the rural schools. In them, he says, "the work done depends almost exclusively upon the character and capability of the teacher. There is no 'system' to fall back upon, no machine which will turn out passable work, whether or no. If the teacher is discerning and bright and enthusiastic, results will frequently be attained which surpass any accomplished in the great schools; if indifferent, the results are of no consequence. . . . All teachers are entitled to consideration, for their work is trying and exacting; but this is more strikingly so in the crossroads districts than elsewhere. Their pay is small. . . . Their work is not confined to a single grade; they must meet the requirements of all grades and all classes. They must lay out their own course of study, if they have any. Text-books are frequently antiquated; there is no uniformity, even in the same school, and frequently not in the same class, and the teacher finds it impossible to work improvement. The school is very likely maintained only twenty-eight weeks in the year, just long enough to share in the public moneys. Attendance is irregular. Trustees drive hard bargains, for the number of young persons who want the place is very large. Continual change in the teachers is the order of the day. The time of employment is but for a single term, and frequently the trustee undertakes to make it by the day or the week, in order that he may be free to effect a change at any time, or that he may withhold pay, in violation of the spirit and intent of the statute, for the week occupied in attendance upon a teachers' institute. Supervision amounts to little or nothing, for distances are great, during a good part of the year roads are impassable, and it is physically impossible for the commissioner, with generally more than one hundred schools under his charge, to visit each very frequently."

 

The Energy in an Earthquake.—After explaining, in the American Association, the impossibility of calculating the intensity of an earthquake more than approximately, Prof. T. C. Mendenhall applied a formula to determine the energy involved in the Japanese earthquake of January 15, 1887, which disturbed over 30,000 square miles of territory. He said: "Assuming a mass of 150 pounds per cubic feet, and taking a cubic mile as the volume to be considered, I find that to put it in vibration required the expenditure of 2,500,000,000 pounds of energy. Assuming an area of 100 miles square, with a mean depth of one mile, was thus in vibration at any one instant of time—which is not improbable, considering the known rate of transmission and the long duration of the earthquake—the amount of energy thus represented would be 25 X 10·12 foot-pounds. This energy might be generated by the fall, under the action of gravity, of a cube of rock 1,000 feet on each edge, the mass of which would be 75,000,000 tons, through a vertical distance of 166 feet." Also, assuming certain magnitudes, "I find the energy of a cubic mile of the Charleston earthquake, taken near enough to the epicentrum to be disturbed, as above assumed, to be equal to 24,000,000,000 foot-pounds. The speed of transmission of this disturbance has been pretty well determined by Newcomb and Sutton to be approximately three miles per second, so that a cubic mile would be disturbed in one third of a second. To do this would require 130,000,000 horse-power. Assuming that an area about the epicentrum 100 miles square was thus disturbed, the energy would be that of 24 10·13 foot pounds, and the rate of its expenditure would be that of 1,300,000,000,000 horse-power."

 

Volcanic Explosion in Japan.—The district of Hibara Mura in Japan was visited on July 15th with a volcanic outburst of most singular character, which may be compared for violence with the recent catastrophes of Krakatoa and the Tarawera district of New Zealand. The whole of Mount Baudai, a peak nearly five thousand feet high, one hundred and fifty miles north of Tokio, was blown up, just as a steam-boiler might be, by the explosion of the vapors accumulated in the recesses beneath it. A number of villages were ingulfed, with all their inhabitants, estimated at about five hundred. The region was inundated by torrents of mud; and showers of dust, which was red at first and afterward turned gray, fell over a wide extent of country. The catastrophe, according to the accounts of witnesses who survived it, was marked with the accompaniments of fearful earth tremors, detonations which were said to sound like the firing off of all the artillery in the world at once, and a total darkening of the air for several hours. At one point a river was dammed up by the flow of mud, so as to form a considerable lake. The scene of the catastrophe was visited soon after the event by a scientific commission appointed by the Government, whose report has been published by Mr. W. K. Burton, of the Imperial University. In the view of this commission, the phenomenon differed from usual volcanic eruptions in that it left no traces of fire or lava. It was simply a violent explosion of steam. That the mountain was underlain by beds of hot water has always been indicated by the existence of hot springs on its slopes. The explosion carried off all the middle part of the mountain, including the central peak; it took a sidewise rather than a vertical direction, and scattered its débris to a depth of from three to thirty metres, and in one or two instances three hundred metres, over an extent of about sixty square kilometres. A remarkable feature of this disbursement is the steepness of the piles of matter in some places.

 

Sacred Trees of Japan.—Not the least engrossing element in researches into the flora of Japan is encountered in the traces of tree-worship here and there to be detected. In Shinti the hi-no-ki, the sun or fire tree (Chamæcyparis obiusa), is the sacred tree of predilection; the temples being constructed exclusively of this wood, even to the tiles and nails, or pegs; and from time immemorial the sacrificial fires have been kindled with drills made of hi-wood—whence perhaps its name. At the great bonzeries of Nikko, or sun-splendor, so named in the ninth century, the shrines of the Shoguns are surrounded by sugi-trees, the Japan cedars (Cryptomeria Japonica), which measure twenty feet in girth, and run to one hundred and twenty feet in height, contributing not a little to the force of the Japanese saying, "If you haven't seen Nikko, you mustn't say marvelous." The shii oak, or Quercus cuspidata, is also chosen for the environs of temples, perhaps because of its dense foliage, and quantities of its acorns are eaten at religious feasts. The beauteous icho, the Gingko biloba or Salisburia adiantifolia—also called the maidenhair-tree, from the resemblance of its leaves to the fern of that name—is also a sacred favorite. One at the foot of the staircase of the great temple at Kamakura measures twenty feet round. The Japanese consumed the almonds of this tree at religious festivals. And in northern Japan, wherever Shinto prevails, there are hallowed trees encircled with a rice-straw rope which bears tassels at intervals. The Japanese are in the habit of driving nails into the rotesu or Cycas revoluta, which yields the Japanese sago. This, they say, at the present day, is to push on vegetation; but your thoroughgoing comparative religionist is bound to detect in this survival the similar piaculum of the early Latins, records of which can be traced to the four hundred and twenty-third year of Rome. It is also common among the negroes of the Guinea coast and in Persia. The idea was to drive the prayer into the body of the idol, the god, the sacrosanct and worshiped tree; and a form of the practice survives in Brittany, where saints' statues have replaced primitive idols, and women's pins do duty for nails. About six miles west of Tokio, at Habashi, is the stump of an old ye-tree (Celtis Willdenowiana), so covered with exvotos that its fame must be surpassing. Morsels of its decayed wood are sold to those who have grown weary of their loves. The force of the remedy lies in the application of it. The tinder is boiled, the damsel is got to drink of the charm unawares, and immediately she goes her ways, and leaves her charmer to sing "Joy go with her!" The bunches of spindles which grow on the great bosses or tumors of the shiraga-matsu (Pinus Thunbergii) are still revered as the nests or lairs of the Ten-gu, or heavenly dog, which inhabits mountains or lonely spots, has a long snout, two claws on each foot and hand, and a pair of wings.

 

Protective Charms.—Charms against almost any of the ills and dangers of life can be obtained in Burmah from the Buddhist priests, for a trifling consideration. One of these Wise Men will furnish a charm warranted to protect the wearer against being shot, for five or six rupees (between two and three dollars). One of these charms, obtained by an English officer, consisted of a tiny figure of Gaudama, in a sitting posture, not much exceeding a large pea in size, carved in ivory. In order to become proof against sword-wounds, a medicine made by the priest must be eaten. A specimen of this medicine resembled in appearance and odor dried leaves or bark finely powdered. Charms for other purposes consist of curious devices tattooed on various parts of the breast and shoulders; also of bits of ivory, silver, lead, etc., inscribed with magic spells, inserted under the skin. The Burman's faith in these charms is very deep-rooted, and in spite of frequent and painful proofs of their fallibility he does not seem to lose confidence in their magical properties. The injured man himself is generally the first to find an excuse for the failure of his tali-man to protect him. Holders of gun-charms assert confidently that a gun fired at them will not go off, or will burst, but their faith is not so strong that they will consent to an experimental test.

 

Dr. Nansen's Greenland Expedition—Dr. Frithiof Nansen has successfully accomplished the experiment which we described several months ago as about to be undertaken, of crossing Greenland from the eastern to the western side, and arrived at Godthaab on the 3d of October last. The party had some difficulty, owing to a southerly drift in which they were caught, in making a landing on the eastern coast as far north as they desired, but finally started to cross the inland ice from Umiavik, latitude 64° 30', on the 15th of August. A course was at first set toward the northwest for Christianshaab, in Disco Bay; but much time being lost through severe northerly snow-storms, Dr. Nansen was compelled to turn to the westward for the nearer settlement of Godthaab. The western coast was reached after forty-six days' traveling, the distance from the point of departure being 280 geographical miles. For several weeks the explorers were at an altitude of more than 9,000 feet above sea-level, and suffered from snowstorms and loose snow, and a temperature of between 40° and 50° below freezing. As the last Danish ship of the season was not able to wait for them to be embarked upon it, the party will have to spend the winter in Godthaab.

 

Longevity of Professional Men.—The comparative longevity of professional men may be accounted for by reference to the exceptionally favorable conditions under which they exist. While the man who is in trade is tormented by anxiety over the uncertainties of the morrow, and the man who has made a fortune and retired is, unless he has cultivated a hobby, a prey to inanition, and liable to feel that he has no longer a welcome place in the world, the professional man of fifty has learned what he can do, and has adjusted himself to a career for which he is fitted. If he is making a fortune, his life is full of interest and brings little trouble or anxiety to himself. It is not his own case that the lawyer pleads, the physician combats, and the parson arraigns. If he is only moderately successful, his earnings, though small, are safe, and he may hope that his future will be as happy as his past. His occupation, meanwhile, brings him consideration and intelligent surroundings, and his life is fairly and pleasantly varied. These things all contribute to length of life.