Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/September 1898/Notes


The general character of London weather is rather strikingly brought out by the records of the Greenwich meteorological department for 1897. The total record of sunshine for 1897 was 1,543 hours, divided as follows:

January 19.8 July 252.7
February 34.1 August 219.8
March 123.4 September 114.5
April 144.7 October 111.7
May 251.6 November 41.7
June 178.3 December 50.3

The mean temperature for the year was 50.3°; highest, 90.2° on June 24th; lowest, 23.3° on December 24th. The rainfall was about seventeen inches, being seven inches less than the preceding fifty years' average.

It is shown in a paper by Mr. Henry C. Mercer that the mediæval art of Fractur or illuminative writing was systematically prosecuted in Pennsylvania as late as 1854, and that survivals of stated instruction in it can be traced to the winter of 1896-'97. Illuminated song books, title-pages to small song books, rewards of merit on loose leaflets, baptismal certificates, and marriage and burial registers constitute the chief specimens of this sort of work.

The working of certain factors of evolution upon a human race is illustrated in Mr. G. A. Dorsey's paper on the Geography of the Tsimshian Indians. Although the members of this tribe to-day are only a remnant of the stock as it existed in 1850, they seem to be holding their own in point of population, while some of the other coast stocks are diminishing very rapidly. They are nearly all Christianized, wear European clothing, and work in the salmon canneries during the summer months. Yet their ultimate absorption and extinction are only matters of time. The new villages, and especially the canneries, are bringing the different stocks of the coast into more and more intimate relations, and this results in the disappearance of pure types. The introduction of the Chinese element may further complicate matters.

M. Deniker, of the Museum of Natural History in Paris, has received from Corea three hundred and seventy-five specimens of roots, seeds, fruits, etc., represented in the pharmacopoeia of the country as sovereign remedies against various diseases. There are also among them powders of soapstone, sand, and other mineral substances. All are enveloped in complicated wrappers inscribed with Corean and Manchu formulas. A manuscript containing a list of a hundred and ten medicines which can be manufactured with the drugs has also been sent to the museum. It gives, in connection with each formula, the name of the disease for which the remedy is to be administered. There are remedies for cold in the head, indigestion, headache, ill humor on getting up in the morning, and indisposition after "making a night of it."

A species of ant in Victoria, Australia, is described by Mr. J. C. Goudie, which keeps in close confinement a mealy aphis that feeds on the stems of eucalyptus, around and over which it constructs a dome of pieces of grass, etc., that holds the aphis imprisoned and keeps other ants away. In front of the door of this covering, if it has one, two sentinel ants are posted, which vigilantly guard the opening. Each inclosure generally contains from three to a dozen aphides, and about as many ants. When the author broke into some of these structures to inspect them more closely, the ants at once seized their aphides and carried them off.

Sir Gardner Wilkinson observed more than fifty years ago that the ancient Egyptians had a keen appreciation of the comic, and published a considerable number of drawings from the monuments that fully established the correctness of his view. Further illustrations of the fact, given by Herr Emil Brugsch Bey, are published in French and German papers as new discoveries. A newly exhumed papyrus of the twenty second dynasty contains humorous sketches of cats and rats, in which the cats act like rats and rats like cats. In one design, a rat dressed as a grand lady is served by a servant cat, who offers her a mirror. In the next scene a rat poses as a young Egyptian dandy, while his valet cat dresses his beard and adjusts an immense wig upon his head. In a third scene a cat is officiating as nurse to a young rat. All the pictures are colored.