Scientific American Supplement, No. 421, January 26, 1884 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 92 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 421, January 26, 1884.
their dealings with the Tasmanians.  But I am convinced that this is an error.  I certainly do not wish to apologize for or extenuate the crimes of the convicts and colonists, against which the most vigorous protests have been raised both in England and in the colony itself, but neither war nor social disasters have been the principal cause of the disappearance of the Tasmanians.  They have perished from that strange malady which Europeans have everywhere transplanted in the maritime world, and which strikes down the most flourishing populations.

“Consumption is certainly one of the elements of this evil.  But if it explains the increase of the death rate, it does not explain the diminution of births.  Both these phenomena are apparent.  Captain Juan has seen at the Marquesas, in the island of Taio-Hahe, the population fall in three years from 400 souls to 250.  To offset this death-rate, we find only 3 or 4 births.  It is evident that at this rate populations rapidly disappear, and it is the principal cause of the disappearance of the Tasmanians.”

The lecturer, after alluding to his studies in Polynesia, speaks of his interest in the western representatives of these races and his special studies in New Zealand, and referring to the latter continues: 

“One of the most important results of the labors in this direction has been to establish the serious value of the historical songs preserved, among the Maoris, by the Tohungus, or wise men, who represent the Aiepas of Tahiti.  Thanks to these living archives, we have been able to reconstruct a history of the natives, to fix almost the epoch of the first arrival of the Polynesians in that land, so distant from their other centers of population, and to determine their point of departure.”

Other studies refer to peoples far removed from the preceding.  One is devoted to the Todas, a very small tribe of the Nilgherie Hills, who by their physical, intellectual, and social characteristics differ from all the other races of India.  “The Todas burn their dead, and we possess none of their skulls.  But thanks to M. Janssen, who has lived among them, I have been able to fill up this gap.”

The last subject referred to by the lecturer was the Finns of Finland, whose study reveals the fact that they embrace two ethnic types, one of which, the Tavastlanda, belongs without doubt to the great Finnish family, spread over Asia as well as in Europe, and a second, the Karelien, whose representatives possessed the poetic instinct, which causes M. Quatrefages to ally them with the Aryan race, “to whom we owe all our epics, from the Ramayana, Iliad, and Eneas to the poems of to-day.”

* * * * *

GRECIAN ANTIQUITIES.

[Illustration:  MONUMENT OF PHILOPAPPUS, ATHENS.]

Although so much has been written about Athens, there is one striking feature which has been little noticed.  This is the beautiful colors of the Parthenon and Erectheum, the soft mellow yellow which is due to age, and which gives these buildings when lighted by the setting sun, and framed by the purple hills beyond, the appearance of temples of gold.

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 421, January 26, 1884 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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