Appletons’ Popular Science Monthly, November 1898 / Volume 54, November 1898

Appletons’ Popular Science Monthly, November 1898 / Volume 54, November 1898


Author: Various
Science — Periodicals
Technology — Periodicals
Appletons’ Popular Science Monthly, November 1898
Volume 54, November 1898
Established by Edward L. Youmans


NOVEMBER, 1898, TO APRIL, 1899

Copyright, 1899,

Vol. LIV.Established by Edward L. Youmans.No. 1.


I. Was Middle America Peopled from Asia? By Prof. E. S. Morse. 1
II. The Possible Fiber Industries of the United States. By Charles Richards Dodge. (Illustrated.) 15
III. What is Social Evolution? By Herbert Spencer. 35
IV. The Torrents of Switzerland. By Edgar R. Dawson, M. E. 46
V. The Evolution of Colonies. V. Political Evolution. By J. Collier. 52
VI. Architectural Forms in Nature. By F. S. Dellenbaugh. (Illus.) 63
VII. The Herds of the Yellow Ant. By James Weir, Jr., M. D. (Illus.) 75
VIII. Two Gifts to French Science. By M. Henri de Parville. (Illus.) 81
IX. The Mongoose in Jamaica. By C. W. Willis. (Illustrated.) 86
X. The Cause of Rain. By J. R. Plumandon. 89
XI. Dream and Reality. By M. Camille Melinand. 96
XII. A Practical Dutch Charity. By Prof. J. Howard Gore. 103
XIII. Sketch of Frank Wigglesworth Clarke. (With Portrait.) 110
XIV. Correspondence: The Moon and the Weather. 118
XV. Editor’s Table: The Goal of Education.—A Doubtful Appendix to Science.—The Cause of Spain’s Decadence.—Dream and Reality. 118
XVI. Scientific Literature. 126
XVII. Fragments of Science. 135

Single Number, 50 Cents.Yearly Subscription, $5.00.

Copyright, 1898, by D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.
Entered at the Post Office at New York, and admitted for transmission through the mails at second-class rates.




The controversies over the question of the origin of Central American culture are to be again awakened by the exploration organized under the direction of the American Museum of Natural History through the liberality of its president, Morris K. Jesup, Esq. The plans embrace an ethnographic survey of the races between the Columbia and Amoor Rivers. Many similarities in customs, folklore, etc., will doubtless be found among these northern races. How far traces of an ancient avenue will be established through which came the unique cult of middle America, and for which in a way the surveys have been instituted, remains to be seen. The question is one of perennial interest, and all honor to the scientific spirit of Mr. Jesup, whose munificence has provided the means for this work.
It may be of interest to remind those who have only a vague idea of the contention that there are many earnest scholars who insist that the wonderful architectural remains in Mexico, Yucatan, and other regions of the west coast are due to Asiatic contact in the past. As proofs of this contact are cited similarities as seen in the monuments, the facial characteristics of certain tribes, ancient customs, astronomical ideas, serpent worship, certain games, etc. Particularly is it believed by the scholars that the “land of Fusang” mentioned in early Chinese historical records is no other than Mexico or some contiguous country.
Space will not permit even the briefest mention of the evidences which have led to these conclusions, and the reader is referred to a remarkably condensed history of the whole question embodied in a volume by Mr. Edward P. Vining entitled An Inglorious Columbus. Under this unfortunate title one may find the most painstaking collocation of the many memoirs written upon this subject, with the Chinese account of the land of Fusang in Chinese characters, and appended thereto the various translations of the document by De Guines, Williams, Julien, and other eminent sinologues.
To the French Orientalist, M. de Guines, we are indebted for our first knowledge of certain ancient records of the Chinese, which briefly record the visit of Chinese Buddhist monks to the land of Fusang in the year 458 of our era, and the return of a single Buddhist monk from this land in 499. De Guines’s memoir appeared in 1761, and for forty years but little attention was drawn to it. Humboldt says that, according to the learned researches of Father Gaubil, it appears doubtful whether the Chinese ever visited the western coast of America at the time stated by De Guines. In 1831, Klaproth, the eminent German Orientalist, combated the idea that Fusang was Mexico, and insisted that it was Japan. In 1844 the Chevalier de Paravey argued that Fusang should be looked for in America. Prof. Karl Friedrich Neumann also defended this idea. In magazine articles in 1850-1862, and finally in book form in 1875, Mr. C. G. Leland supported with great ingenuity the idea of Chinese contact based on the Fusang account. In 1862 M. José Perez also defended the idea. In 1865 M. Gustave d’Eichthal published his memoir on the Buddhistic origin of American civilization, and in the same year M. Vivien de Saint-Martin combated the theory, and since that time many others have written upon the subject in favor or in opposition to the idea of Asiatic contact.
These hasty citations are only a few of the many that I have drawn from Mr. Vining’s encyclopedic compilation.
It is extraordinary what a keen fascination the obscure paths of regions beyond history and usually beyond verification have to many minds, and the fascination is as justifiable as the desire to explore unknown regions of the earth. In the one case, however, we have a tangled mass of legendary tales coming down from a time when dragons were supposed to exist, when trees were miles in height, when people lived to a thousand years, when every unit of measurement was distorted and every physical truth, as we know it to-day, had no recognition, while in the other case we have at least a continuity of the same land and sea extending to the unexplored beyond. This impulse of the human mind finds an attractive problem in the question as to the origin of the American races. Dr. Brinton has insisted on the unreasonable nature of the inquiry by asking an analogous one: “Whence came the African negroes? All will reply, ‘From Africa, of course.’ ‘Originally?’ ‘Yes, originally; they constitute the African or negro subspecies of man.'” By bringing together isolated features which have resemblances in common, the American Indian has been traced to nearly every known stock. Mr. Henry W. Henshaw, in an admirable address entitled Who are the American Indians? says: “If you have special bias or predilection you have only to choose for yourself. If there be any among you who decline to find the ancestors of our Indians among the Jews, Phœnicians, Scandinavians, Irish, Welsh, Egyptians, or Tartars, then you still have a choice among the Hindu, Malay, Polynesian, Chinese, or Japanese, or indeed among almost any other of the children of men.” Had this address been written a few years later he might have added Hittite!
There are two propositions involved in the controversy as to the Asiatic origin of the American race: the one is that America was peopled from Asia by invasions or migrations in pre-savage or pre-glacial times; the other is that the peculiar civilization of Central America was induced by Buddhist monks, who traveled from Asia to Mexico and Central America in the fifth century of our era. Those who sustain the first thesis are without exception men trained in the science of anthropology; those who sustain the second thesis are with a few conspicuous exceptions travelers, geographers, sinologues, missionaries, and the like.
If Asia should ever prove to be the cradle of the human race, or of any portion of it which had advanced well beyond the creature known as Pithecanthropus erectus, then unquestionably an Asian people may be accounted the progenitors of the American Indians. Any effort, however, to establish an identity at this stage would probably take us far beyond the origin of speech or the ability to fabricate an implement.
The controversy has not raged on this ground, however; the numerous volumes and memoirs on the subject have dealt almost exclusively with culture contacts or direct invasions from Asia in our era, and more particularly with the supposed visits of Chinese Buddhist monks to Mexico and Central America already alluded to. Believing in the unity of the human race, the dispersion of the species seems more naturally to have occurred along the northern borders of the great continents rather than across the wide ocean. From the naturalist’s standpoint the avenues have been quite as open for the circumpolar distribution of man as they have been for the circumpolar distribution of other animals and plants down to the minutest land snail and low fungus. The ethnic resemblances supposed to exist between the peoples of the two sides of the Pacific may be the result of an ancient distribution around the northern regions of the globe. Even to-day social relations are said to exist between the peoples of the Mackenzie and the Lena delta, and it is not improbable that the carrying band of the Ainu in Yeso and a similar device depicted on ancient codices and stone monuments in Mexico may have had a common origin. Advancing to a time when man acquired the art of recording his thoughts, the question of any contact between the peoples of the eastern and western shores of the Pacific, south of latitude 40°, compels us to examine the avenues which have been so potent in the distribution of life in the past—namely, the oceanic currents. We are at once led to the great Japan current, the Kuro Shiwo, which sweeps up by the coast of Japan and spends its force on the northwest coast of America. Records show a number of instances of Japanese junks cast ashore on the Oregon coast and shores to the north.[1]
It must be evidences of Japanese and not Chinese contact that we are to look for—tangible evidences, for example, in the form of relics, methods of burial, etc. That the Japanese bear resemblances to certain northern people there can be no doubt. Dr. Torell brought before the Swedish Anthropological Society, some years ago, the results of a comparative study of Eskimo and Japanese. The anatomical and ethnographical resemblances appeared so striking to him as to give additional strength to the theory of the settlement of America from Asia by way of Bering Strait. That there are certain resemblances among individuals of different races we have abundant evidences. At a reception in Philadelphia I introduced a Japanese commissioner (who had been a Cambridge wrangler) to a full-blooded Omaha Indian dressed in our costume, and the commissioner began a conversation with him in Japanese; nor could he believe me when I assured him that it was an Indian that he was addressing, and not one of his own countrymen. I was told by an attaché of the Japanese legation at Washington that after carefully scrutinizing the features of a gentleman with whom he was traveling he ventured to introduce himself as a fellow-countryman, and found to his astonishment that the man was a native of the Malay Peninsula. That the Malays bear a strong resemblance to the Chinese is quite true. Dr. Baelz, of the Medical College of Japan, can find no differences between the crania and pelves of the Chinese and Malays. Wallace assures us that even the Malay of Java, when dressed as a Chinese, is not to be distinguished from them, and Peschel classifies the Malays with the Mongoloid people. In these approximate regions one might expect close intermixtures. If resemblances are established between the Japanese and the Eskimo, they would probably have arisen from a circumpolar race which has left its traces on northern peoples the world around. We turn naturally to Japan as the region from which a migration might reasonably have been supposed to take place. Its position on the Asiatic coast with a series of larger and smaller stepping-stones—the Kuriles—to Kamchatka, and thence across the strait to America and seaward, the broad and powerful Japanese current sweeping by its coast and across the Pacific, arrested only by the northwestern coast of America. With these various avenues of approach one might certainly expect evidences of contact in past times. A somewhat extended study in Japan of its prehistoric and early historic remains in the way of shell-heap pottery from the north to the south, much of it of an exceedingly curious character; the later stone implements, many of them of the most extraordinary types; the bronze mirrors, swords, spear points, and the so-called bronze bells; the wide distribution of a curious comma-shaped ornament of stone known as the magatama, with a number of varieties, and many other kinds of objects, leads me to say that no counterpart or even remote parallelism has been found in the western hemisphere. Certain rude forms of decoration of the northern shell-heap pottery of Japan, such as the cord-mark and crenulated fillet, are world-wide in their distribution, and a similar wide dispersal is seen of the rude stone implements and notched and barbed bone and horn. Here, however, the similarity ends. The lathe-turned unglazed mortuary vessels so common in ancient graves in Japan and Korea have equally no counterpart on our western coast. If now we examine the early records of Japan in her two famous works—the Kojiki and Nihonji, which contain rituals, ceremonies, and historical data going back with considerable accuracy to the third and fourth centuries of our era—we shall find many curious details of customs and arts and references to objects which have since been exhumed from burial mounds, yet we look in vain for a similar cult in Mexico or Central America. Turning aside from Japan as an impossible ground in which to trace resemblances, we glance at the unique character of the ancient pottery of Central America, with its representations of natural forms, such as fishes, turtles, frogs, shells, etc., its peculiar motives of decoration in color, and find no counterpart in Asia. The pyramidal rock structure and rounded burial mounds are supposed to have their counterparts in the East, but the pyramidal form is common in various parts of the world, simply because it is the most economical and most enduring type of architecture, and facilitates by its form the erection of the highest stone structures. The rounding dome of an earth mound and the angular side of a rock pyramid are the result of material only.
If we now turn to China as a possible region from which migrations may have come in the past, we have only to study the historical records of that ancient people to realize how hopeless it is to establish any relationship. Let one study the Ceremonial Usages of the Chinese (1121 B.C.—translated by Gingell), and he will then appreciate the wonderful advancement of the Chinese at that early date—the organized government, the arts, customs, manufactures, and the minute observances and regulations concerning every detail of life. With these records before him he may search in vain for the direct introduction of any art or device described in this old Chinese work. A few similarities are certainly found between the East and the West, but these arise from the identity in man’s mental and physical structure. With two legs only, for example, it is found difficult to sit on a seat comfortably in more than a few ways. One may sit with both legs down, with one leg under, with legs crossed à la Turk, or the unconventional way throughout the world with one leg over the other at various angles. It would seem with this limited number of adjustments that any similarities in the attitude of certain stone statues in America and Asia could have but little weight. Prof. F. W. Putnam believes that he has established an Asiatic origin of certain jade ornaments found in Central America. If this conclusion could be sustained, we should then have evidences of contact with an Asiatic people in the stone age, which in itself was one of great antiquity for the Chinese, and one long antedating the origin of Buddhism. In the Chinese work above alluded to the whetstone is mentioned for sharpening swords, and the craft employed in polishing the musical stone. Confucius also refers to the musical stone in his Analects. This is as near as we get to the use of stone eleven hundred years before Christ. It is to the merit of Putnam to have first called attention to the fact that many of the jade ornaments, amulets, etc., of Central America had originally been portions of jade celts. The discovery is one of importance, whatever explanation may be reached as to the origin of the stone. In Costa Rica these celt-derived ornaments have been cut from celts composed of the native rock, and it would seem that these old implements handed down in the family led to their being preserved in the form of beads, amulets, etc., much in the same spirit that animates us to-day in making paper-cutters, penholders, and the like from wood of the Charter Oak, frigate Constitution, and other venerated relics. Among other evidences of contact the existence of the Chinese calendar in Mexico is cited. Dr. Brinton shows, however, that the Mexican calendar is an indigenous production, and has no relation to the calendar of the Chinese. In a similar way the Mexican game of patolli is correlated with the East Indian game of parchesi by Dr. E. B. Tylor. Dr. Stewart Culin, who has made a profound study of the games of the world, and Mr. Frank Hamilton Cushing, the distinguished student of the ethnology of southern North America, are both convinced that this game had an independent origin in various parts of the world. Mexican divisions of time marked by five colors are recognized as being allied to a similar device in China. The application of colors to the meaning of certain ideographs is common in

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Appletons’ Popular Science Monthly, November 1898 / Volume 54, November 1898
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