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Title: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 436 - Volume 17, New Series, May 8, 1852
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 436 - Volume 17, New Series, May 8, 1852" ***

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                     CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL

  CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S
  INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.


  No. 436. NEW SERIES.   SATURDAY, MAY 8, 1852.   PRICE 1-1/2_d._



THE MUSICAL SEASON.


'The English are not a musical people.' The dictum long stood
unquestioned, and, in general estimation, unquestionable. All the
world had agreed upon it. There could be no two opinions: we had no
national airs; no national taste; no national appreciation of sweet
sounds; musically, we were blocks! At length, however, the creed began
to be called in question--were we so very insensible? If so,
considering the amount of music actually listened to every year in
London and the provinces, we were strangely given to an amusement
which yielded us no pleasure; we were continually imposing on
ourselves the direst and dreariest of tasks; we were tormenting
ourselves with symphonies, and lacerating our patience with sonatas
and rondos. What was the motive? Hypocrisy was very generally
assigned. We only affected to love music. It was intellectual,
spiritual, in all respects creditable to our moral nature, to be able
to appreciate Mozart and Beethoven, and so we set up for connoisseurs,
and martyrised ourselves that Europe might think us musical. Is there
more truth in this theory than the other? Hypocrisy is not generally
so lasting as the musical fervour has proved itself to be. A fashion
is the affair of a season; a mania goes as it came; but regularly and
steadily, for many years back, has musical appreciation been
progressing, and as regularly have the opportunities for hearing good
music of all kinds been extending.

Take up a daily newspaper, published any time between April and
August, and range your eye down the third or fourth column of the
first page--what an endless array of announcements of music, vocal and
instrumental! Music for the classicists; music for the crowd;
symphonies and sonatas; ballads and polkas; harmonic societies; choral
societies; melodists' clubs; glee clubs; madrigal clubs. Here you have
the quiet announcement of a quartett-party; next to it, the
advertisement of one of the Philharmonic Societies--the giants of the
musical world; pianoforte teachers announce one of their series of
classic performances; great instrumental soloists have each a concert
for the special behoof and glorification of the _bénéficiaire_. Mr
So-and-so's grand annual concert jostles Miss So-and-so's annual
benefit concert. There are Monday concerts, and Wednesday concerts,
and Saturday concerts; there are weekly concerts, fortnightly
concerts, and monthly concerts; there are concerts for charities, and
concerts for benefits; there are grand morning concerts, and grand
evening concerts; there are _matinées musicales_, and _soirées
musicales_; there are meetings, and unions, and circles, and
associations--all of them for the performance of some sort of music.
There are musical entertainments by the score: in the City; in the
suburbs; at every institute and hall of science, from one end of
London to the other. One professor has a ballad entertainment; a
second announces a lecture, with musical illustrations; a third
applies himself to national melodies. All London seems vocal and
instrumental. Every dead wall is covered with naming _affiches_,
announcing in long array the vast army of vocal and instrumental
talent which is to assist at such and such a morning performance; and
the eyes of the owner of a vast musical stomach are dazzled and
delighted by programmes which will at least demand five hours in the
performance.

So is London, in the course of the season, the congress of nearly all
the performing musical notabilities of Europe. Time has been when they
came to London for cash, not renown: now they come for both. A London
reputation is beginning to rival a Parisian vogue, besides being ten
times more profitable; and, accordingly, from every musical corner in
Christendom, phenomena of art pour in, heralded by the utmost possible
amount of puffing, and equally anxious to secure English gold and a
London reputation. It is strange to observe how universally the
musical tribute is paid. A tenor turns up from some Russian provincial
town; a basso works himself to London from a theatre in
Constantinople; rumours arrive of a peerless prima donna, with a voice
which is to outstrip everything ever heard of, who has been dug out,
by some travelling amateur, from her native obscurity in a Spanish or
Norwegian village; an extraordinary soprano has been discovered in
Alexandria; a wondrous contralto has been fished up from Riga. The
instrumental phenomena are not one whit scarcer. Classical pianists
pour in from Germany principally; popular pianists, who delight in
fantasias rather than concertos, and who play such tricks with the
keyboards, that the performances have much more of the character of
legerdemain than of art, arrive by scores; violinists, violoncellists,
professors of the trombone, of the ophicleide, of the bassoon, of
every unwieldy and unmanageable instrument in fact, are particularly
abundant; and perhaps the most popular of all are the particularly
clever gentlemen who, by dint of a dozen years' or so unremitting
practice, have succeeded in making one instrument sound like another.
Quackery as this is, it is enormously run after by no small proportion
of the public. Not that they do not appreciate the art of the device
at its proper level, but that the trick is curious and novel; and most
people, even the dignified classicists, have a gentle toleration for a
little--just a little--_outré_ amusement of the kind in question.
Paganini was the founder of this school. He might have played on four
strings till he was tired, without causing any particular sensation;
but the single string made his fortune. Sivori is one of the cleverest
artists of the present day, who resorts to tricks with his violin, and
wonderfully does he perform them. At a concert last season, he
imitated the singing of a bird with the strangest and happiest skill.
The 'severe' shook their heads, but smiled as they did so, and owned
that the trick was clever enough, and withal agreeable to hear. But it
is gentlemen who make one instrument produce the sounds of another,
or, at all events, who extract from it some previously unknown effect,
who carry all before them. The present phenomenon in this way is
Bottesini, who, grasping a huge double-bass, the most unwieldy of
instruments, tortures out of it the notes of a violin, of an oboe, and
of a flute. A season or two ago, M. Vivier took all London by storm,
by producing a chord upon the French horn, a feat previously
considered impossible, and probably only the fruit of the most
determined and energetic practice, extending over many years. At all
the popular concerts, this trick-music is in immense request.
Bottesini was the lion of Jullien's last series; but in his place in
the orchestra of the Philharmonic, he plays his part and holds his
instrument like any ordinary performer. Bagpipe music is not much
appreciated on the banks of the Thames; but I can assure any
enterprising Scotsman, that if he can only succeed in producing the
notes of the bagpipe out of the trombone, he will make a fortune in
five seasons or less.

Such is musical London, then--rushing from concert to concert, and
opera to opera--from severe classicism to the most miscellaneous
_omnium gatherum_--from solemn ecclesiastical harmonic assemblages to
the chanting of merry glees, and the warbling of sentimental ballads.
Let us, then, contemplate a little closer the different kinds of
concerts--their features and their character--their performers and
their auditories. Our sketch must be very hurried and very vague, but
it will give an idea of some of the principal characteristics of the
London musical season.

First, then, among the performances of mingled vocal and instrumental
music, stand the two Sacred Harmonic Societies, which execute
oratorios and similar works in Exeter Hall. The original Sacred
Harmonic Society has within the last couple of years split into two
bodies. It had long contained within itself the elements of division.
There were the Go-ahead party and the Conservative party--the first,
eager to try new ground, and aim at new effects; the second, lovers of
the beaten way. At length, the split took place. The progressistas
flung themselves into the arms of M. Costa, the famous conductor of
the Royal Italian Opera orchestra, and the highest and most Napoleonic
of musical commanders. The Tories of the society went peaceably on in
the jog-trot ways of Mr Sarman, the original conductor. Each society
can now bring into the field about 800 vocal performers, the immense
majority of them amateurs, and their concerts take place
alternately--Exeter Hall being invariably crammed upon either
occasion. The Costaites, no doubt, have the _pas_. The discipline of
their chief is perfect, and as rigid as it is excellent. The power
which this gentleman possesses over his musical troops is very
curious. The whole mass of performers seem to wait upon his will as
the spirits did on Prospero. At the spreading of his arms, the music
dies away to the most faintly-whispered murmurs. A crescendo or
musical climax works gradually up step by step, and bar by bar, until
it explodes in a perfect crash of vocal and instrumental tempest. The
extraordinary choral effects produced in the performance of the
_Huguenots_ almost bewildered the hearers; and the wondrous lights and
shades of sound given in many of the oratorios, are little behind the
dramatic achievement. The aspect of Exeter Hall on an oratorio night
is one of the grandest things in London. The vastness of the
assemblage, the great mountain of performers, crested by the organ,
and rising almost to the ceiling, are thoroughly impressive, while the
first burst of the opening chorus is grand in the extreme. The
oratorio is, in fact, the Opera of the 'serious' world. It is at once
a place in which to listen to music and a point of social reunion.
There are oratorio _habitués_ as well as Opera _habitués_; and between
the parts of the performance, the same buzzing hum of converse rises
from the assemblage which you hear in the Opera corridors and lobbies.
A glance at the audience will enlighten you as to their character.
They represent the staid respectability of the middle class. The
dresses of the ladies are often rich, seldom brilliant, and there is
little sparkle of jewellery. You very frequently perceive family
parties, under the care of a grave _pater familias_ and his
staid and stately partner. Quakers abound; and the number of
ecclesiastically-cut coats shews how many clergymen of the church are
present. The audience are in the highest degree attentive. The rules
forbid applause, but a gentle murmur of admiration rises at the close
of almost every _morceau_. Here and there, you have a practical
amateur, or a group of such with the open score of the oratorio before
them, eagerly following the music. Often these last gentlemen are
members of the rival Society, and, as might be expected, pick plenty
of holes in the execution of their opponents, for which charitable
purpose only they have probably attended. But in M. Costa's Society,
at all events, the task is difficult; the orchestra 'goes,' as the
phrase is, like one instrument, and the singers are beautifully under
the control of the master-spirit who directs them.

Let us pass from Exeter Hall to Hanover Square. Here, in the Queen's
Concert Room--a _salle_ which once was smart, and the decorations of
which were fashionable seventy years ago--we have unnumbered concerts,
and chief among them the twelve annual performances of the
Philharmonic Society. The 'Philharmonic,' as it is conversationally
called, holds almost the rank of a national institution. The sovereign
patronises it in an especial manner. It is connected with the Royal
Academy of Music, and Her Majesty's private band is recruited from the
ranks of its orchestra. The Philharmonic band may be indeed taken as
the representative of the nation's musical executive powers; and, as
such, comparisons are often instituted between it and the French,
Austrian, and Prussian Philharmonics. The foreigners who hold places
in the orchestra are resident, and in some sort naturalised, but the
bulk of the executants are English. To be a member of the Philharmonic
orchestra is, indeed, to take a sort of degree in executive music, and
at once stamps the individual as a performer of distinguished merit.
The music performed is entirely classic, and principally instrumental.
New compositions are seldom given; and, in fact, it was the practice
of adhering so exclusively to the standard works of great composers
which started the new Philharmonic Society, which has just come into
existence. The elder body stick stanchly to the safe courses of Bach,
Gluck, Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelssohn. The newly-created
association proclaim that their mission is to look after aspirants, as
well as to honour the veterans of the art; and accordingly they bring
forward many compositions experimentally--a meritorious policy, but
one not without its dangers. Few unprofessional people are aware of
the cost of producing elaborate compositions. When _William Tell_ was
played some years ago at Drury Lane--to mention one single item--the
price of copying the parts from the full score, at 3d. a page, came to
L.350. All the old music is of course to be had printed; and to these
standard scores the steady-going Philharmonic principally devotes
itself. Each performance consists in general of two symphonies, or a
symphony and an elaborate concerto, each occupying at least
three-quarters of an hour, with two overtures, and solos, vocal and
instrumental--the former generally sung by performers from either
Opera, but usually from Covent Garden. M. Costa wields the baton at
Hanover Square as at Exeter Hall; and under his management, the band
have attained a magnificent precision and _ensemble_ of effect. Its
musical peculiarity over ordinary orchestras is the vast strength of
stringed instruments, which gives a peculiar _verve_ and light vigour
to the performances. The rush of the violins in a rapid passage is
overwhelming in its impetuosity and vigour, and is said, of late years
especially, to beat the 'attack,' as it is technically called, of any
of the continental Philharmonic Societies. The Philharmonic concerts
are very fashionable. It is good taste, socially and artistically, to
be present; and, consequently, the room is always crowded by an
assemblage who display most of the characteristics of an Opera
audience. The musical notabilities of town always muster in full force
at the Philharmonic. Composers, executants, critics, amateurs, and
connoisseurs, are all there, watching with the greatest care the
execution of those famous works, the great effect of which can only be
produced by the most wary and appreciative tenderness of rendering. In
the interval between the first and second parts, the very general hum
of conversation announces how great the degree of familiarity
subsisting among the _habitués_. There is none of the common stiffness
of waiting one sees at ordinary entertainments. Everybody seems to
know everybody else, and one general atmosphere of genial intercourse
prevails throughout the room.

Let us change the scene to a classic concert of quite another kind. In
a quiet West-end street, we are in a room of singular construction. It
is in the form of a right-angled triangle; and at the right angle,
upon a small dais, is placed the pianoforte and the desks, and so
forth, for the performers. The latter are thus visible from all
points; but about one-half the audience in each angle of the room is
quite hidden from the other. Everybody is in evening dress; the ladies
very gay, and the party very quiet--a still, drawing-room sort of air
presides over the whole. Many of the ladies are young--quite girls;
and a good many of the gentlemen are solemn old foggies, who appear
strongly inclined to go to sleep, and, in fact, sometimes do.
Meantime, the music goes on. A long, long sonata or concerto--piano
and violin, or piano, violin, and violoncello--is listened to in
profound silence, with a low murmur of applause at the end of each
movement. Then perhaps comes a little vocalism--sternly classic
though--an aria from Gluck, or a solemn and pathetic song from
Mendelssohn: the performer being either a well-known concert-singer,
or a young lady--very nervous and a little uncertain--who, it is
whispered, is 'an Academy girl;' a pupil, that is, of the institution
in question. Sometimes, but not often--for it is _de rigueur_ that
entertainments of this species shall be severely classic--we have a
phenomenon of execution upon some out-of-the-way instrument, who
performs certain miracles with springs or tubes, and in some degree
wakens up the company, who, however, not unfrequently relapse into all
their solemn primness, under a concerto manuscript, or a trio
manuscript, the composition of the _bénéficiaire_. Between the parts,
people go quietly into a room beneath, where there are generally some
mild prints to be turned over, some mild coffee to drink, some mild
conversation about mild things in general; and then the party remount
the stairs, and mildly listen to more mild music. This is the common
routine of a classical pianoforte soirée. The _bénéficiaire_ is a
fashionable teacher, and, in a small way, a composer. He gives, every
season, a series, perhaps two or three series, of classic evenings.
The pupils and their families form the majority of the audience,
interspersed with a few pianoforte amateurs, and those _fanatici per
la musica_ who are to be found wherever a violin is tuned, or a piano
is opened.

Another species of classic concert is to be found in the
quartett-meetings. These take place in some small concert-room, such
as that I have described, or at the houses of the executants; and the
audience comprehends a far larger proportion of gentlemen than the
last-mentioned entertainments. The performers are four--pretty sure to
be gentlemen of the highest professional abilities. The instruments
are first and second violin, viola, and violoncello; and three or four
quartetts by the great masters, or, very probably, as many
compositions, marking the different stages of Beethoven's imagination,
are played with the most consummate skill and the tenderest regard for
light and shade. People not deep in the sympathies and tastes of the
musical world, have no idea how these compositions are loved and
studied by the real disciples of Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn; how
particular passages are watched for; and how old gentlemen nod their
heads, or shake them at each other, according as they agree or
disagree in the manner of the interpretation. Half the audience
probably know every bar of the music by heart, and no inconsiderable
number could perhaps perform it very decently themselves. It is indeed
at these quartett and quintett meetings, that you see genuine
specimens of musical knowledge and musical enthusiasm. They take place
by half-dozens during the season; and you always find the same class
of audience, often the same individuals, regularly ranged before the
executants.

But place now for the real grand, miscellaneous, popular, and populous
morning concert! Now for elephantine dimensions and leviathan bills of
fare. It is nominally, perhaps, or really, perhaps, the annual benefit
concert of some well-known performer, or it is the speculation of a
great musical publishing house, in the name of one of their composing
or performing _protégés_. The latter is, indeed, a very common
practice. But whether the music-publishing and opera-box-letting firm
be the real concert-giver, or merely the agent, to it is left the
whole of the nice operation of 'getting up' the entertainment. It has
then exhausted all the dodges of puffery in pumping up an unusual
degree of excitement. The affair is to be a 'festival' or a 'jubilee;'
'all the musical talent' of London is to be concentrated; the
continent has been dragged for extra-ordinary executive attractions;
every musical hit of the season is to be repeated; every effect is to
be got up with new _éclat_: never was there to be such a _super extra,
ne plus ultra_ musical triumph. The day approaches. Rainbow-hued
_affiches_ have done their best; placard-bearers, by scores, have
paraded, and are parading, the streets; advertisements have blazoned
the scheme day after day, and week after week; the gratis-tickets have
been duly 'planted;' puffs, oblique and implied, have hinted at the
coming attraction in every Sunday paper; and programmes are fluttering
in every get-at-able shop-front. The day comes. A long line of
fashionable carriages, strangely intermingled with shabby cabs, file
up to the doors, and the gay morning dresses, flaunting with colours,
disappear between the two colossal placards which grace the entrance.
The room is filled. _Habitués_, and knowing musical men on town,
recognise each other, and congregate in groups, laughingly comparing
notes upon the probabilities of what artists announced will make an
appearance, and upon what apologies will be offered in lieu of those
who don't. A couple of these last are probably already in circulation.
Madame Sopranini is confined to bed with an inflammatory attack; and
Signor Bassinini has got bronchitis. Nevertheless, the concert begins;
and oh! the length thereof. The principal vocalists seem to have
mostly mistaken the time at which they would be wanted; and the
chopping and changing of the programme are bewildering. Bravuras take
the place of concertos; a duet being missing, an aria closes the
ranks; a solo on the trombone not being forthcoming, a vocal trio
(unaccompanied) is hurriedly substituted. Still, there is plenty of
the originally announced music; all the favourite airs, duets, and
trios from the fashionable operas; all the ballads in vogue--the music
published by the house which has set the whole thing on foot, of
course; all the phenomena of executive brilliance are there, or are
momentarily expected to appear. We begin after an overture with, say,
an air from the _Puritani_, by a lovely tenor; another, from the
_Somnambula_, by a charming soprano; a fantasia by a legerdemain
pianist, with long hair, and who comes down on the key-board as though
it was his enemy; the famous song from _Figaro_--encored; the
madrigal, 'Down in a Flowery Vale'--the latter always a sure card; a
duet from _Semiramide_, by two young ladies--rather shaky; solo on the
clarionet, by a gentleman who makes the instrument sound like a
fiddle--great applause; 'In manly Worth,' by an oratorio tenor; the
overture to _Masaniello_, by the band; concerto (posthumous,
Beethoven), by a stern classical man--audience yawn; pot pourri, by a
romantic practitioner--audience waken up; ballad, 'When Hearts are
torn by manly Vows,' by an English tenor--great delight, and
encouragement of native talent; glee, 'Glorious Apollo,' or, 'The
Red-cross Knight'--very well received; recitative and aria, from
_Lucia di Lammermoor_--very lachrymose; violin solo, by Signor
Rosinini, who throws the audience into a paroxysm of delight by
imitating a saw and a grindstone; 'The Bay of Biscay,' by the
'veteran' Braham, being positively his last appearance (the 'veteran'
is announced for four concerts in the ensuing week!); ballad, again,
by the native tenor, 'When Vows are torn by slumbering Hearts'--more
great applause; the page's song from the _Huguenots_, for the
contralto; 'When the Heart of a Man,' _Beggars' Opera_; quartett for
four pianofortes, great bustle arranging them, and then only three
performers forthcoming--an apology--attack of bronchitis--but Mr
Braham will kindly (thunders of applause) sing 'The Death of Nelson;'
quartett for double-bass, trombone, drum, and triangles--curious
effect; the audience hardly know whether they like it or not; the
bravura song of the 'Queen of Night,' from _Zauberflöte_; overture to
_William Tell_; ballad, 'When Slumber's Heart is torn by Vows;' duet,
'I know a Bank,' by the Semiramide young ladies; fantasia pianoforte,
from the _Fille du Régiment_; 'Rode's air, with variations,' from the
text; and the storm movement of the _Sinfonia Pastorale_, by
Beethoven!

Such may be taken as a fair specimen-slice of a _Concert Monstre_; and
in listening to this wild agglomeration of chaotic music, the day
passes, very likely from two o'clock until six. In a future paper, I
may touch upon the peculiarities of the artists performing.

                                                       A. B. R.



THE TALLOW-TREE OF CHINA.


It is one happy recommendation of the Natural system of botany, that
many of its orders form groups of plants distinguished not only by the
characteristics of general physiognomy, and the more accurate
differences of structure, but in an especial manner by the medicinal
and economical properties which they possess, and which are indeed
frequently peculiar to the order. Such is the case with the natural
order _Euphorbiaceæ_, or spurge family, to which the tallow-tree of
China belongs. The order includes 2500 species, all of which are more
or less acrid and poisonous, these properties being especially
developed in the milky juices which abound in the plants, and which
are contained, not in its ordinary tissues, but in certain special
vessels. Many important substances are derived from this order,
notwithstanding its acrid and poisonous character. Castor-oil is
obtained from the seeds of _Ricinus communis_; croton-oil, and several
other oleaginous products of importance in medicine and the arts, are
obtained from plants belonging to the order. The root of _Janipha
Manihot_, or Manioc-plant, contains a poisonous substance, supposed to
be hydrocyanic acid, along with which there is a considerable
proportion of starch. The poisonous matter is removed by roasting and
washing, and the starch thus obtained is formed into the cassava-bread
of tropical countries, and is also occasionally imported into Europe
as Brazilian arrow-root.

Many of the important economical productions of China are little known
in this country; we are, however, daily gaining additions to our
knowledge of them; and within the last few years, much valuable
information has been obtained respecting the productive resources of
the Eastern Empire. The grass-cloth of China only became known in
Europe a few years ago, but it now ranks as one of the important
fabrics of British manufacture. Daily discoveries seem to shew that
there are Chinese products of equal importance, as yet unknown to us.
On the present occasion, we call the attention of our readers to a
substance which has been long known, as well as the plant which
produces it, but neither of which has hitherto been prominently
brought into general notice in Britain. For our information respecting
the uses of the tallow-tree, we express our chief obligations to a
paper by Dr D. J. Macgowan, published in the Journal of the
Agricultural and Horticultural Society of India.[1]

The tallow-tree of China is the _Stillingia sebifera_ of botanists; a
plant originally indigenous to China, where it occurs in wet
situations, but which is now somewhat common in various parts of India
and America, chiefly as an ornamental tree. In Roxburgh's time, it was
very common about Calcutta, where, in the course of a few years, it
became one of the most common trees; and it has become almost
naturalised in the maritime parts of South Carolina. In China alone,
however, is it as yet appreciated as an economical plant, and there
alone are its products properly elaborated. It is chiefly prized for
the fatty matter which it yields, and from which it derives its
appropriate name; but it affords other products of value: 'its leaves
are employed as a black dye; its wood being hard and durable, may be
easily used for printing-blocks and various other articles; and,
finally, the refuse of the nut is employed as fuel and manure.... It
grows alike on low alluvial plains and on granite hills, on the rich
mould at the margin of canals, and on the sandy sea-beach. The sandy
estuary of Hangchan yields little else; some of the trees at this
place are known to be several hundred years old, and though
prostrated, still send forth branches and bear fruit.... They are
seldom planted where anything else can be conveniently cultivated--but
in detached places, in corners about houses, roads, canals, and
fields.'

The sebaceous matter, or vegetable tallow, is contained in the
seed-vessels of the _Stillingia_. The processes adopted for
abstracting it are of importance, and meet with due consideration in
Dr Macgowan's valuable paper. The following clear account is given of
the whole process, as practised in China:--'In midwinter, when the
nuts are ripe, they are cut off with their twigs by a sharp
crescentric knife, attached to the extremity of a long pole, which is
held in the hand, and pushed upwards against the twigs, removing at
the same time such as are fruitless. The capsules are gently pounded
in a mortar, to loosen the seeds from their shells, from which they
are separated by sifting. To facilitate the separation of the white
sebaceous matter enveloping the seeds, they are steamed in tubs,
having convex open wicker bottoms, placed over caldrons of boiling
water. When thoroughly heated, they are reduced to a mash in the
mortar, and thence transferred to bamboo sieves, kept at a uniform
temperature over hot ashes. A single operation does not suffice to
deprive them of all their tallow; the steaming and sifting are
therefore repeated. The article thus procured becomes a solid mass on
falling through the sieve; and to purify it, it is melted and formed
into cakes for the press. These receive their form from bamboo hoops,
a foot in diameter, and three inches deep, which are laid on the
ground over a little straw. On being filled with the hot liquid, the
ends of the straw beneath are drawn up and spread over the top; and
when of sufficient consistence, are placed with their rings in the
press. This apparatus, which is of the rudest description, is
constructed of two large beams, placed horizontally so as to form a
trough capable of containing about fifty of the rings with their
sebaceous cakes; at one end it is closed, and at the other adapted for
receiving wedges, which are successively driven into it by ponderous
sledge-hammers, wielded by athletic men. The tallow oozes in a melted
state into a receptacle below, where it cools. It is again melted, and
poured into tubs, smeared with mud, to prevent its adhering. It is now
marketable, in masses of about eighty pounds each--hard, brittle,
white, opaque, tasteless, and without the odour of animal tallow;
under high pressure, it scarcely stains bibulous paper, and it melts
at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It may be regarded as nearly pure
stearine.... The seeds yield about 8 per cent. of tallow, which sells
for about five cents per pound.'

There is a separate process for pressing the oil, which is carried on
at the same time. The kernels yield about 30 per cent. of oil, which
answers well for lamps. It is also employed for various purposes in
the arts, and has a place in the Chinese pharmacopoeia, because of its
quality of changing gray hair to black, and other imaginary virtues.

The husks are used to feed the furnaces; the residuary tallow-cakes
are also employed for fuel--a small quantity remaining ignited a whole
day. The oil-cake forms a valuable manure, and is of course carefully
used for this purpose in China, where so very great regard is paid to
the collecting of manures. This kind is particularly used for
enriching tobacco-fields, its powerful qualities recommending it for
such a scourging crop.

With regard to the uses of the vegetable tallow, Dr Macgowan observes:
'Artificial illumination in China is generally procured by vegetable
oils, but candles are also employed.... In religious ceremonies, no
other material is used. As no one ventures out after dark without a
lantern, and as the gods cannot be acceptably worshipped without
candles, the quantity consumed is very great. With an unimportant
exception, the candles are always made of what I beg to designate as
vegetable stearine. When the candles, which are made by dipping, are
of the required diameter, they receive a final dip into a mixture of
the same material and insect-wax, by which their consistency is
preserved in the hottest weather. They are generally coloured red,
which is done by throwing a minute quantity of alkanet-root (_Anchusa
tinctoria_), brought from Shan-tung, into the mixture. Verdigris is
sometimes employed to dye them green.' We are not aware that the
vegetable tallow has as yet been imported into Britain to any extent.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] 'Uses of the _Stillingia Sebifera_, or Tallow-Tree, &c., by D. J.
Macgowan, M. D., &c.' The substance of the same communication was laid
before the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, 12th February, 1852, having
been communicated by Dr Coldstream.



THE TOLLMAN'S STORY.


Some local travellers of about twenty-five years' practice, may still
remember the keeper of a toll-bar on one of the western approaches to
Glasgow, known in his neighbourhood as English John. The prefix was
given, I believe, in honour of his dialect, which was remarkably pure
and polished for one of his station in those days; and the solution of
that problem was, that he had been from childhood, till the gray was
thickening on his hair, in the service of an English family, who had
come into possession, and constantly resided on, a handsome estate in
his native parish in Dumbartonshire.

Through their interest, he had been appointed to the office of power
and trust in which I made his acquaintance. John was one of my
earliest friends, though the remnant of his name was never heard nor
inquired after by me. The great town has now grown much nearer his
toll-house, which then stood alone on the country road, with no
building in sight but the school, at which I, and some two score of
the surrounding juveniles, were supposed to be trained in wisdom's
ways, by the elder brother of our parish minister. A painstaking,
kindly teacher he was; but the toll-house was a haunt more pleasant to
our young fancies than his seminary. John was the general friend and
confidant of all the boys; he settled our disputes, made the best tops
and balls for us, taught us a variety of new tricks in play, and
sometimes bestowed upon us good advices, which were much sooner
forgotten. John never married. He had a conviction, which was
occasionally avowed, that all women were troublesome; and whether this
evidence be considered _pro_ or _con_, he was a man of rough sense and
rustic piety, of a most fearless, and, what the Germans call, a
self-standing nature--for solitude or society came all alike to John.
You would as soon expect a pine-tree to be out of sorts, as his hard,
honest face, and muscular frame. John was never sick, or disturbed in
any way; he performed his own domestic duties with a neatness and
regularity known to few housekeepers, and was a faithful and most
uncompromising guardian of the toll-bar. I well remember how our young
imaginations were impressed with the fact, that no man could pass,
without, as it were, paying tribute to him; and George IV., though he
appeared on the coppers with which we bought apples, cast by no means
so mighty a shadow on our minds as English John. Before this glory
waned, I was removed from his neighbourhood, being sent to cheer the
heart and secure the legacy of a certain uncle who was a writer to the
Signet in Edinburgh, and believed to be in profitable practice and
confirmed bachelorhood. The worthy man has long ago married his
landlady's daughter, and been blessed with a family sufficient to fill
a church-pew. My own adventures--how I grew from garment to garment,
how I became a law-student, and at length a writer myself--have little
to do with the present narrative, and are therefore spared the reader
in detail; but the first startling intelligence I received from home
was, that English John had resigned his important office at the
toll-house, and gone, nobody knew whither!

Years had passed; my professional studies were finished, and I had
occasion to visit a Fife laird near the East Neuk. The gentleman was
notable for his taste in kitchen-gardening; and having a particularly
fine bed of Jerusalem artichokes which I must see, he conducted me to
the scene of his triumphs, when, hard at work with the rake and hoe,
whom should I find as the much esteemed gardener, but my old friend
English John! His hair had grown quite gray, and his look strangely
grave, since last I saw him: time had altered me still more;
nevertheless, John knew me at once--he had always a keen eye--but I
perceived it was his wish not to be recognised at all in presence of
the laird. That worthy was one of those active spirits who extend
their superintendence to every department. He commanded in the pantry
as well as on the farm; and while expatiating over the artichokes, a
private message from his lady summoned him back to the house, as I
sincerely believe, on some matter connected with the dinner; and he
left me, with an understood permission to admire the artichokes, and
the garden in general, as long as I pleased. Scarcely was he fairly
out of sight, till I was at the gardener's side. 'John, my old
fellow,' cried I, grasping his hand, 'I'm glad to see you once again.
How has the world behaved to you these many years?'

'Pretty well, Master Willie,' said John, heartily returning my shake;
'and I'm glad to see you too; but your memory must be uncommon good,
for many a one of the boys has passed me by on street and highway. How
have they all turned out?' And he commenced a series of inquiries
after schoolmates and old neighbours, to which my answers were as
usual in such cases--some were dead, some were married, and some gone
far away.

'But, John,' said I at last, determined to make out the mystery which
had so long puzzled me and the entire parish--'in exchange for all my
news, tell me why you left the toll-house? It was surely a better
place than this?'

'You know what the old proverb says, Master Willie: "Change is
lightsome,"' said John, beginning to dig, as if he would fain stave
off the explanation.

'Ha, John, that wont do!' said I; 'your mind was never so unsteady.
Tell me the truth, for old times' sake; and if there is anything in
the story that should not be made public, you know I was always a
capital secret-keeper. Maybe it was a love-matter, John: are you
married yet?'

'No, Master Willie,' cried my old friend, with a look of the most
sincere self-gratulation I ever saw. 'But it's a queer story, and one
I shouldn't care for telling; only, you were always a discreet boy,
and it rather presses on my mind at times. The master won't be back
for awhile; he'll have the roast to try, and the pudding to taste--not
to talk of seeing the table laid out, for there are to be some
half-dozen besides yourself to-day at dinner. That's his way, you see.
And I'll tell you what took me from the toll-house--but mind, never
mention it, as you would keep peace in the west country.'

This is John's story, as nearly in his own words as I can call them to
mind:--

       *       *       *       *       *

The family in whose service I was brought up lived on their estate in
Dumbartonshire, which came through the mistress of the mansion, who
had been heiress of entail, and a lady in her own right; we called her
Lady Catherine, and a prouder woman never owned either estate or
title. Her father had been a branch of the Highland family to whom the
property originally belonged. Her mother was sprung from the old
French nobility, an emigrant of the first Revolution, and she had been
brought up in England, and married in due time to an Honourable Mr
---- there. When she first came to the estate, her husband had been
some years dead, and Lady Catherine brought with her a son, who was to
be heir--at that time a boy like myself--and two handsome grown-up
daughters. The castle was a great fabric, partly old and partly new.
It stood in the midst of a noble park, with tall trees and red deer in
it. Its last possessor had been a stingy old bachelor; but after Lady
Catherine's coming, the housekeeping was put on a grand scale. There
was a retinue of English servants, and continual company. I remember
it well, for just then my poor mother died. She had been a widow,
living in a low cottage hard by the park-wall, with me and a gray cat
for company, and her spinning-wheel for our support. I was but a child
when she died; and having neither uncle nor aunt in the parish, they
took me, I think, by her ladyship's order, into the castle, to run
small errands, and help in the garden; from which post, in process of
time, I rose to that of footman. Lady Catherine was in great odour
with the country gentry for her high-breeding, her fashionable
connections, and her almost boundless hospitality. She was popular
with the tenantry too, for there was not a better managed estate in
the west, and the factor had general orders against distress and
ejectment.

They said her ladyship had been reckoned a beauty in London
drawing-rooms, and our parish thought her wonderfully grand for the
gay dresses and rich jewellery she wore. Doubtless, these were but the
cast-offs of the season, for regularly every spring she and the family
went up to London, where they kept a fine house, and what is called
the best society. How much the gay dresses had to do with the beauty
is not for me to say, but Lady Catherine was a large, stately woman,
with a dark complexion, and very brilliant red, which the servants
whispered was laid on in old court fashion. Her manner to her equals
was graceful, and to her inferiors, gracious; but there was a look of
pride in her dark gray eyes, and a stern resolution about the
compressed lips, which struck my childish mind with strange fear, and
kept older hearts in awe. Her daughters, Florence and Agnes, were
pictures of their mother--proud, gay ladies, but thought the flower of
the county. Their portions were good, and they would have been
co-heiresses but for their brother Arthur. He was the youngest, but so
different from his mother and sisters, that you wouldn't have thought
him of the same family. His fair face and clear blue eyes, his curly
brown hair and merry look, had no likeness to them, though he was not
a whit behind them in air or stature. At eighteen, there was not a
finer lad in the shire; and he had a frank, kindly nature, which made
the tenantry rejoice in the prospect of his being their future
landlord.

Near the castle there stood a farmhouse, occupied by an old man whose
great-grandfather had cultivated the same fields. He was not rich, but
much respected by his neighbours for an honest, upright life. His wife
was as old as himself. They had been always easy-living people, and
had no child but one only daughter. Menie was a delicately pretty
girl, a little spoiled, perhaps, in her station, for both father and
mother made a queen of her at home. She was never allowed to do any
rough work, was always dressed, and her neighbours said, kept in the
parlour. Menie had a great many admirers, but her parents thought her
too good for everybody, and had a wonderful belief of their own, that
she was somehow to get a great match, and be made a lady. There was a
strange truth in that notion, as things turned out, for we servants at
the castle began to remark how often the young master was seen going
and coming about the farmhouse. Maybe the old farmer and his wife
encouraged him, for they had a story concerning their own descent from
some great chief of the western Highlands, and a family of wild proud
cousins, who lived up among the hills; but of this I know nothing
more, only that the farmer's daughter was the prettiest girl in the
parish. Master Arthur was beginning his nineteenth year, and there was
a storm up stairs, such as had never been heard before in the castle,
when Lady Catherine found out what was going on, as I think through
our minister, who considered it his duty to let her know what every
one talked of, but nobody else would dare to mention in her presence.
Whether the tempest was more than Master Arthur could stand, or
whether Lady Catherine, in her fury--for she had no joke of a tongue
and temper--said something of Menie which drove the boy to finish the
business in his own way, was long a disputed point in the servants'
hall; but next morning he was missed in the castle, and in the course
of my duties the same forenoon, I brought a letter from the village
post-office, the reading of which sent the young ladies off in
hysterics, and made Lady Catherine retire to her room--for it
announced that her heir of entail and the farmer's daughter were gone
to get married in Glasgow.

The young ladies recovered in about two hours, and her ladyship came
out, but only to prepare for a journey to Paris; and quick work she
made of it. Within twenty-four hours from the receipt of that letter,
she and her daughters were off in the family carriage; the best part
of the servants despatched to live at their town-house on board-wages;
all the good rooms locked up, and nobody but the gardener, a
kitchen-girl, and myself left with the old housekeeper at the castle.
The next news we heard was, that the old farmer and his wife had set
out to bring home their daughter and son-in-law, saying--poor people,
in their pride or folly--that Menie and her husband could live with
them till Providence cleared their way to the estate, which nobody
could keep from them. I believe it was that speech, coming to her ears
by some busy tongue or other, that made Lady Catherine so bitter
afterwards; but Master Arthur and his bride came home to the
farmhouse, where the parlour and the best bedroom were set apart for
their use; and the poor old father and mother were proud to serve and
entertain them. They were a young pair; for, as I have said, he was in
his nineteenth, and she in her seventeenth year--a handsome pair, too,
and more alike than one would have supposed from the difference of
their birth. Menie had a genteel, quiet carriage, and really looked
like a lady in the church-pew beside our young master, whom we seldom
saw but at a distance--for his spirit was too high to come near the
castle--and though it wasn't just told us, we all knew that going to
the farmhouse would be reckoned the full value of our places.

It was the fall of the year when Lady Catherine left us--all that
winter she spent in Paris; and when the spring again came round, we
heard of her opening house with even more than usual gaiety in London.
That was a great season with her ladyship. In its course, she got her
daughters both married to her mind. The one wedded a baronet, and the
other a right honourable; but scarcely had the newspapers fully
announced his sisters' wedding-breakfasts, and how the happy pairs set
out, when Master Arthur was seized with sudden sickness. He had been
fishing in a mountain-lake, and got drenched to the skin by the rain
of a thunder-storm, overexerted himself in walking home, and caught a
pleurisy. The whole parish felt for the poor young man, who had been
so hardly used by his mother, and many were the inquiries made for him
at the farmhouse. There was wild wo there, for every day he got worse;
and within the week, Menie was left a widow. Lady Catherine had gone
back to Paris at the close of the season; one of her married daughters
was in Italy, and the other in Switzerland; but two cousins of their
father were to be found in England; and Master Arthur was laid in the
family vault, under our old parish church, before the intelligence
reached them. Lady Catherine came back in deep mourning, and alone,
but not a whit subdued in spirit: she had been heard to say, that her
son was better dead than disgraced; and her estate was at least safe
from being shared by peasants. Of her daughter-in-law, she never took
the slightest notice. People said, the poor young widow's heart was
broken, for she had thought more of Arthur than of his rank and
property, and kept well out of the proud, hard woman's way. Her
ladyship did not seem to like living at the castle; she stayed only to
regulate matters with the factor at Martinmas, and went back again to
London. Before she went, a report began to rise, that poor Menie had
drooped and pined into a real sickness. They said it was a rapid
decline, and a dog would have pitied the father and mother's grief.
How strangely they strove to keep that only child, asking the prayers
of the congregation, and sending for the best doctors; but all was in
vain, for Menie died some days before Christmas. The girl had a simple
wish to rest beside Arthur. It was the last words she spoke; and her
relations believed that, being his wife, she had a right to a place in
the vault without asking anybody's leave. So they laid her quietly
beside her husband, no one about the castle caring to interfere,
except the factor, who thought it incumbent on him to let her ladyship
know.

By way of answer to his letter, down came Lady Catherine herself, one
dark, wintry morning; and, without so much as changing her travelling
dress, she sent for four labourers, took them with her to the church,
and saying her family burying-place was never intended for a peasant's
daughter, made them take out Menie's coffin, and leave it at her
parents' door. They said that the old pair never got over that sight;
and the mother, in her bitterness of heart, declared that Providence
had many a way to punish pride, and the woman who had disturbed her
dead child, would never be suffered to keep her own grave in peace.

The story made a marvellous stir in our parish, and grand as Lady
Catherine was, she did not escape blame from all quarters. There was a
great gathering of Highland relatives and Lowland friends to a second
funeral, when they laid poor Menie among her humble kindred in the
church-yard. It was but a little way from the park gate, and I stood
there to see the crowd scatter off in that frosty forenoon. Many a sad
and angry look was cast in the direction of the castle; but my
attention was particularly drawn to an old man and two boys, who stood
gazing on the place. He was close on the threescore-and-ten--they were
little more than children; but all three had the same gaunt, yet
powerful frames; dark-red hair, which in the old man was but slightly
sprinkled with gray; almost swarthy complexions; and a fierce, hard
look in the deep-set eyes. By after inquiries, I learned that these
were the father of the Highland cousin family, and his two youngest
sons. There were three elder brothers, but they were married, and
settled on rough sheep-farms; and the old man intended to maintain the
ancient honours of his house, by putting his younger boys into some of
the learned professions.

The married sisters, now heiresses of entail, never visited the castle
again in my time. Lady Catherine came regularly at the terms from
London, where she lived constantly; but her stay was no longer than
the rent-roll required, and her maid said she rested but badly at
night. So years passed on, and I rose in the service. On one of her
visits, Lady Catherine thought I would do for a footman, which she
happened to want, and sent me to be trained at the house in London.
What great and gay doings I saw there needn't be told just now. Lady
Catherine kept the best and most fashionable company, and she was
never at home an evening that the house was not full. There was money
to be made, and plenty of all things; but I did not like it; and
having saved a trifle, one of her ladyship's sons-in-law--he was the
best of the two--got me the place at the toll-bar.

You remember me there, Master Willie, and what great times we had on
Saturday afternoons. You may recollect, too, how many foot-passengers
used to come and go. It was my amusement to watch them when I had
nothing better to do; but of all who passed my window, there were none
took my attention so completely as two young men, who always walked
arm-in-arm, and seemed to be brothers. I thought I had seen their
strongly-marked Highland faces before, and by degrees learned that
they were none other than the old man's two sons, who had been at poor
Menie's last funeral, but were now grown up, and studying for the
medical profession at the college in Glasgow. Their father evidently
kept them on short allowance, judging from their coarse tartan
clothes, and continual munching of oaten cakes: but I was told they
were hard students, and particularly clever in the anatomy class. One
dark, dreary morning, about the Christmas-time, I noted that Lady
Catherine and her family had been in my dreams all night--their grand
house, and gay goings-on in London, mingling strangely with the old
story of Master Arthur and the farmer's daughter. When the newspaper,
which I shared with the schoolmaster, came, judge of my astonishment
to read that her ladyship had died suddenly in a fit of apoplexy,
which came upon her at the whist-table, and her remains had been
conveyed to the family vault in Dumbartonshire. There was a lesson on
the uncertainty of life! and it is my trust that I found in it a use
of warning; but the continual news and strangers at the toll-bar, the
exact gathering in of the dues, which was not always an easy task, and
your own merry schoolmates, Master Willie, had in a manner shuffled it
out of my mind before the second evening.

It had been a dark, foggy day, and I went early to sleep, there being
few travellers; but in the dead of night, between twelve and one, I
was roused by a thundering summons at the toll-bar. The night was calm
and starless, a mass of heavy clouds covered the sky, broken at times
by gusts of moaning wind from the west, and broad bursts of moonlight.
I threw on my coat, lit my lantern, and hurried out. There stood a
large gig with three persons. They must have been tightly packed in
it, and I never saw a more impatient horse. There was some delay in
getting out the silver, and I had time to see that the two men who
sat, one on each side, were the Highland brothers. There was a woman
between them, in a dingy cloak and bonnet, with a thick black veil.
She neither moved nor spoke, though the toll somehow puzzled the
students. I was determined to have it any way, and one of them saying
something to his companion in Gaelic, reached a half-crown to me. I
knew I had no change, and told him so. 'I'll call in the morning,'
said he; but the horse gave a bound, and the silver flew out of his
fingers. Both the brothers looked down after it. I had a strange
curiosity about their companion, and that instant a gust of wind blew
back the veil, and the moonlight shone clear and full upon the face:
it was the dead visage of Lady Catherine! I saw but one glance of it;
the next moment the heavy veil had fallen. 'Get the silver yourself,
and keep it all,' cried the two men, as I opened for them without a
word: and from that day to this, no one has ever heard the story from
me. I put the half-crown in the poor's-box next Sabbath. But, Master
Willie, after that night I never cared for keeping the toll-bar. The
sound of wheels coming after dark had always a strange effect on me,
and I could never see a gig pass without shivering. So I gave up my
situation, and took to the old trade of gardening again. The pleasant
plants and flowers bring no dark stories to one's mind. But yonder's
the laird: dinner will be ready by this time.

       *       *       *       *       *

And John was right; for it was ready, with a jovial party to despatch
it. But I never saw my old friend after. He emigrated to Canada with
his managing master in the following spring; and, having at least kept
the real names with enjoined secrecy, it seems at this distance of
time no breach of trust to repeat the toll-keeper's story.



CARDINAL MEZZOFANTI.


Among the lions of Rome during the last twenty years, not the least
attractive, especially for literary visitors, was the celebrated
Cardinal Mezzofanti. Easy of access to foreigners of every condition,
simple, unpretending, cheerful, courteous even to familiarity, he
never failed to make a most favourable impression upon his visitors;
and marvellous as were the tales in circulation concerning him, the
opportunity of witnessing more closely the exercise of his almost
preternatural powers of language, served but to deepen the wonder with
which he was regarded. The extent, the variety, and the solidity of
his attainments, and, still more, his complete and ready command, for
the purposes of conversation, of all the motley stores which he had
laid up, were so far beyond all example, whether in ancient or modern
times, as not only to place him in the very first rank of the
celebrities of our generation, but to mark him out as one of the most
extraordinary personages recorded in history.

Giuseppe (Joseph) Mezzofanti was born at Bologna in 1774, of an
extremely humble family. His father was a poor carpenter; and the
eminence to which, by his own unassisted exertions, Mezzofanti,
without once leaving his native city, attained in the exercise of the
faculty of language--which is ordinarily cultivated only by the
arduous and expensive process of visiting and travelling in the
different countries in which each separate language is spoken--is not
the least remarkable of the many examples of successful 'pursuit of
knowledge under difficulties,' which literary history supplies. He was
educated in one of the poor schools of his native city, which was
under the care of the fathers of the celebrated Congregation of the
Oratory; and the evidence of more than ordinary talent which he
exhibited, early attracted the notice of one of the members of the
order, to whose kind instruction and patronage Mezzofanti was indebted
for almost all the advantages which he afterwards enjoyed. This good
man--whose name was Respighi, and to whose judicious patronage of
struggling genius science is also indebted for the eminent success of
the distinguished naturalist Ranzani, the son of a Bolognese barber,
and a fellow-pupil of Mezzofanti--procured for his young protégé the
instruction of the best masters he could discover among his friends.
He himself, it is believed, taught him Latin; Greek fell to the share
of Father Emmanuel da Ponte, a Spanish ex-Jesuit--the order had at
this time been suppressed; and the boy received his first initiation
into the great Eastern family of languages from an old Dominican,
Father Ceruti, who, at the instance of his friend Respighi, undertook
to teach him Hebrew. Beyond this point, Mezzofanti's knowledge of
languages was almost exclusively the result of his own unassisted
study.

From a very early age, he was destined for the church, and he received
holy orders about the year 1797. During the period of his probationary
studies, however, he obtained, through the kindness of his friend F.
Respighi, the place of tutor in the family of the Marescalchi, one of
the most distinguished among the nobility of Bologna; and the
opportunities for his peculiar studies afforded by the curious and
valuable library to which he thus enjoyed free access, may probably
have exercised a decisive influence upon his whole career.

His attainments gradually attracted the notice of his fellow-citizens.
In the year 1797, he was appointed professor of Arabic in the
university; a few years later, he was named assistant-librarian of the
city library; and in 1803, he succeeded to the important chair of
Oriental Languages. This post, which was most congenial to his tastes,
he held, with one interruption, for a long series of years. In 1812,
he was advanced to a higher place in the staff of the library; and in
1815, on the death of the chief librarian, Pozetti, he was appointed
to fill his place. When it is considered how peculiarly engrossing the
study of languages is known to be, and especially how attractive for
an enthusiastic scholar like Mezzofanti, it might be supposed that for
him the office of librarian could have been little more than a nominal
one. But the library of Bologna to the present day bears abundant
evidence that it was far otherwise. The admirable order in which the
Greek and Oriental manuscripts are arranged, the excellent _catalogue
raisonné_ of these manuscripts, and the valuable additions to the
notices of them by Assemani and Talmar which it contains, are all the
fruit of Mezzofanti's labour as librarian.

During his occupancy of this office, too, he continued to hold his
professorship of Oriental languages, and, for a considerable part of
the time, that of Greek literature in addition. Nor was he exempt from
those domestic cares and anxieties which are often the most painful
drawback upon literary activity. The death of a brother, which threw
upon him the care of an unprovided family of eleven children, was the
severest trial sustained in Mezzofanti's otherwise comparatively quiet
career; and by driving him to the ordinary expedient of distressed
scholars--that of giving private lectures--it tended more than all his
public occupations to trench upon his time, and to abridge his
opportunities of application to his favourite study.

Perhaps, indeed, of all who have ever attained to the same eminence in
any department which Mezzofanti reached in that of languages, there
hardly ever was one who had so little of the mere student in his
character. In the midst of these varied and distracting occupations,
he was at all times most assiduous in his attendance upon the sick in
the public hospitals, of which he acted as the chaplain. There was
another also of his priestly duties, for the zealous discharge of
which he was scarcely less distinguished, and which became subsidiary,
in a very remarkable way, to his progress in the knowledge of
languages. In the absence, up to the present time, of any regular
memoir of him, it is impossible to fix with precision the history of
his progress in the acquisition of the several languages. But it is
well known, that at a very early period he was master of all the
leading European languages, and of those Oriental tongues which are
comprised in the Semitic family. Very early, therefore, in
Mezzofanti's career, he was marked out among the entire body of the
Bolognese clergy as in an especial manner the 'foreigners' confessor'
(_confessario dei forestieri_). In him, visitors from every quarter of
the globe had a sure and ready resource; and in several cases, it was
to the very necessity thus created he was indebted for the
acquisition, or at least the rudimentary knowledge, of a new language.
More than once, it occurred that a foreigner, introduced to the
_confessario dei forestieri_, for the purpose of being confessed,
found it necessary to go through the preliminary process of
_instructing his intended confessor_. For Mezzofanti's marvellous and
almost instinctive power of grasping and systematising the leading
characteristics even of the most original language, the names of a few
prominent ideas in the new idiom sufficed to open a first means of
communication. His prodigious memory retained with iron tenacity every
word or phrase once acquired; his power of methodising, by the very
exercise, became more ready and more perfect with each new advance in
the study; and, above all, a faculty which seemed peculiar to himself,
and which can hardly be described as other than instinctive, of
seizing and comprehending by a single effort the general outlines of
the grammatical structure of a language from a few faint
indications--as a comparative anatomist will build up an entire
skeleton from a single bone--enabled him to overleap all the
difficulties which beset the path of ordinary linguists, and to
attain, almost by intuition, at least so much of the required language
as enabled him to interchange thought with sufficient freedom and
distinctness for the purposes of this religious observance, which is
so important in the eyes of Catholics. And he used to tell, that it
was in this way he acquired more than one of his varied store of
languages. For it will hardly be believed, that this prodigy of the
gift of tongues had never, till his forty-eighth year, travelled
beyond the precincts of his native province; and that, up to the
period of his death, his most distant excursion from Rome, in which
city he had fixed his residence in 1832, did not exceed a hundred
miles--namely, to Naples, for the purpose of visiting the Chinese
College which is there established.

It is true that at the period of which we speak, Bologna lay upon the
high-road to Rome, and that travellers more frequently rested for a
space upon their journey, than in these days of steam-boat and railway
communication. But, even then, the opportunities of intercourse with
foreign-speaking visitors in Bologna were few and inconsiderable
compared with the prodigious advances which, under all his
disadvantages, Mezzofanti contrived to make. The ordinary European
languages presented but little difficulty; the frequent passings and
repassings of the allied forces during the later years of the war,
afforded him a full opportunity of acquiring Russian; and the
occasional establishment of Austrian troops in Bologna, brought him
into contact with the motley tongues of that vast empire--the Magyar,
the Czechish, the Servian, the Walachian, and the Romani; but beyond
this, even his spirit of enterprise had no vent in his native city;
and all his further conquests were exclusively the result due to his
own private and unassisted study.

His fame, nevertheless, began to extend to foreign countries. Among
many distinguished foreigners to whose acquaintance his extraordinary
faculties as a linguist became a passport, was the celebrated Russian
general, Suwarrow; and with him Mezzofanti long maintained the most
friendly relations. From the Grand-Duke of Tuscany he received a
pressing invitation to fix himself at Florence; and Napoleon himself,
with that engrossing spirit which desired to make Paris the centre of
all that is great in science, in art, and in literature, offered him a
most honourable and lucrative appointment, on condition of his
removing to the French capital. But Mezzofanti declined both the
invitations, and continued to reside in his native city, till the year
1832. At the close of those political disturbances, of which Bologna
was the centre, in the early part of the pontificate of Gregory XVI.,
it was resolved to send a deputation to Rome on the part of the
citizens. Of this deputation, Mezzofanti, as the chief celebrity of
the city, was naturally a leader; and the pope, who had long known
him, and who, before his elevation to the pontificate, had frequently
corresponded with him on philological subjects, urged him so earnestly
to remain at Rome, that with all his love of Bologna he was induced to
consent. He was immediately appointed, in 1832, a canon of St Peter's;
and on the translation of the celebrated Angelo (now Cardinal) Mai to
the office of secretary of the Propaganda, he was named to succeed
him in the honourable post of librarian of the Vatican.

In this office Mezzofanti continued till the year 1840, when, in
conjunction with the distinguished scholar just named, he was raised
to the cardinalate. During the interval since his fixing his residence
at Rome, he had enjoyed the confidence and friendship of Gregory XVI.;
and although his narrow resources were utterly unequal to the very
considerable expense which the state of a cardinal entails, Gregory,
in acknowledgment of his distinguished merit, himself settled the
necessary income upon the humble Bolognese; and even, with
characteristic delicacy, supplied from his own means the equipage and
other appurtenances which a new cardinal is obliged to provide on
entering upon his office.

From this period, Mezzofanti continued to reside at Rome. Far,
however, from relaxing in the pursuit of his favourite study after his
elevation, he only used the opportunities thus afforded for the
purpose of cultivating it with more effect. When the writer of these
pages first had the honour of being presented to him, he was in the
full flush of the excitement of a new study--that of the language of
the California Indians, two of whom had recently come as pupils to the
College of the Propaganda; and up to his very last year, the same zeal
continued unabated. His death occurred March 16, 1849, in the
seventy-fifth year of his age, and was most probably hastened by the
excitement and distress caused by the political troubles of the
period.

Such is a brief outline of the quiet and uneventful career of this
extraordinary man. It remains that we give a short account of the
nature and extent of his prodigious attainments as a linguist. It is
observed by the author of an interesting paper read a few weeks since
at a meeting of the Philological Society, that, taking the account of
the linguistic accomplishments of King Mithridates even in the most
exaggerated form in which it is given by the ancients, who represent
him as speaking the languages of twenty-two nations, it fades into
insignificance in contrast with the known and ascertained attainments
of Mezzofanti. A Russian traveller, who published in 1846 a collection
of _Letters from Rome_, writes of Mezzofanti:--'Twice I have visited
this remarkable man, a phenomenon as yet unparalleled in the learned
world. He spoke eight languages fluently in my presence. He expressed
himself in Russian very purely and correctly. Even now, in advanced
life, he continues to study fresh dialects. He learned Chinese not
long ago. I asked him to give me a list of all the languages and
dialects in which he was able to express himself, and he sent me the
name of GOD written with his own hand in _fifty-six_ languages, of
which thirty were European, not including their dialects; seventeen
Asiatic, also without counting their dialects; five African, and four
American!' We should add, however, from the cardinal's own avowal to
ourselves, that of the fifty-six languages here alluded to, there were
some which he did not profess to speak, and with which his
acquaintance was more limited than with the rest; an avowal the
honesty of which will be best appreciated when it is considered, on
the one hand, how difficult it would have been to test his knowledge
of the vast majority among these languages; and, on the other, how
marvellously perfect was his admitted familiarity with those which he
did profess really to know.

The author of the memoir submitted to the Philological Society, has
collected a number of notices of Mezzofanti by travellers in Italy,
who had seen him at different periods of his career. Mr Stewart Rose,
in 1817, tells of him that a Smyrniote servant, who was with him,
declared that he might pass for a Greek or a Turk throughout the
dominions of the Grand Seignior. A few years later, while he was still
residing at Bologna, he was visited by the celebrated Hungarian
astronomer, Baron Zach, editor of the well-known _Correspondences
Astronomiques_, on occasion of the annular eclipse which was then
visible in Italy. 'This extraordinary man,' writes the baron, February
1820, 'speaks thirty-two languages, living and dead--in the manner I
am going to describe. He accosted me in Hungarian, with a compliment
so well-turned, and in such excellent Magyar, that I was quite taken
by surprise. He afterwards spoke to me in German, at first in good
Saxon, and then in the Austrian and Swabian dialects, with a
correctness of accent that amazed me to the last degree, and made me
burst into a fit of laughter at the thought of the contrast between
the language and the appearance of this astonishing professor. He
spoke English to Captain Smyth, Russian and Polish to Prince
Volkonski, with the same volubility as if he had been speaking his
native tongue.' As a last trial, the baron suddenly accosted him in
_Walachian_, when, 'without hesitation, and without appearing to
remark what an out-of-the-way dialect had been taken, away went the
polyglot with equal volubility;' and Zach adds, that he even knew the
Zingller or gipsy language, which had long proved a puzzle to himself.
Molbech, a Danish traveller, who had an interview with him in 1820,
adds to his account of this miraculous polyglotist, that 'he is not
merely a linguist, but is well acquainted with literary history and
bibliography, and also with the library under his charge. He is a man
of the finest and most polished manners, and at the same time, of the
most engaging good-nature and politeness.'

It would be easy to multiply anecdotes, shewing the enthusiasm with
which Mezzofanti entered on the study of language after language. He
sought out new tongues with an insatiable passion, and may be said to
have never been happy but when engaged in the mastering of words and
grammars. No degree of bad health interrupted his pursuit. Till the
day of his death, he was engaged in his darling task: life closed on
him while so occupied. He died just as he had acquired a thorough
proficiency in Californian--a singular instance of the power of mind
exercised on a favourite subject, and shewing what may be accomplished
when men set their heart on it. The career of this remarkable
linguist, however, cannot be considered exemplary. We would recommend
no person to plunge headlong into an absorbing passion for any
accomplishment. Mezzofanti was a curiosity--a marvel--the wonder of
the world of letters; and it is chiefly as such that a notice of him
here will be considered interesting.



CURIOSITIES OF POSTHUMOUS CHARITY.


The curious observer, in his rambles about town, is occasionally
struck with some singular demonstrations for which he is at a loss to
account. Sometimes they assume a benevolent form, and sometimes they
have a holiday-making aspect, yet with a touch of the lugubrious. In
London, or in some one of the thriving towns lying within a score of
miles of it, he strolls into a church, where he sees a number of
loaves of bread piled up at the back of the communion-table, or
ranged, as they are in a baker's shop, upon shelves against the wall.
It is a pleasant sight, but apt to be somewhat puzzling. Perhaps he
saunters into a country church-yard, and there finds amongst the rank
grass and moss-grown and neglected memorials of the silent multitude,
one trim and well-tended monument, uninvaded by cryptogamia, free from
all stain of the weather, and the surrounding grassy sward neatly mown
and fenced in, it may be, with budding willow branches or a circle of
clipped box. Or he finds his way through a suburban village, blocked
up some fine morning by a crowd of poor women and girls, clustered
round the door of a retired tradesman or the curate of the place, from
which three or four at a time emerge with gratified looks, and go
about their business, while others enter in their turn. Such
demonstrations as these, and we might mention many others, have their
origin in certain charitable dispositions and bequests, many of which
are of considerable antiquity. There is one in operation to this day,
near Winchester, which dates from the time of William of Wykeham; by
virtue of which every traveller passing that way, if he choose to make
the demand, is regaled with a pint of beer and a meal of bread and
cheese. There is another similar antique charity in operation in
Wiltshire, near Devizes, where, on one occasion, the dispenser of the
benevolence, in the exercise of his privilege to feed the hungry,
threw a loaf of bread into the carriage of George III. as the royal
_cortège_ passed the spot. The name of these post-mortem charities is
legion. They abound in every city, burgh, town, and hamlet in England,
to an extent absolutely startling to a person who looks into the
subject for the first time. The number of them belonging to the city
of London alone--that is, originating among her citizens, and mostly
dispensed under the direction of the several worshipful companies--can
hardly be fewer than 1500, if so few. The parochial charities only of
London city yield an income of nearly L.40,000 a year. The history of
all these charities would fill many bulky volumes. We propose merely
to take a passing glance at a few, which are interesting from their
singularity, or from the light which they reflect upon the benevolent
aspect of a certain section of society in times long past; and which,
perhaps, may be found in some degree instructive and suggestive, as
illustrating the operation of post-mortem benevolence.

At St ---- Church, not a hundred miles from St Martin's Le Grand,
there prevails an amusing instance of the perversion of the funds of a
charity to purposes which could not possibly have been intended by the
founder. Many centuries ago, a Roman Catholic gentleman, dying,
bequeathed to that church a small estate, the proceeds of which he
directed should be devoted to the purpose of supplying the officiating
priests with refreshment on the Sabbath-day. The Roman Catholic
service has long since given place to a Protestant one, and the band
of officiating priests has dwindled down to one clergyman--while the
value of the estate has increased perhaps fiftyfold. At the present
moment, the sum which the estate originally produced is paid over to
the church-wardens, who are at times a little puzzled as to what to do
with it. They get rid of a good portion in this way: at every service
which is held in the church, they place a bottle of the best sherry
which can be procured for money upon the vestry-table; from this the
'officiating priest' strengthens his inner man with a glass or two
before commencing his ministrations, and then the church-wardens sit
down and finish the remainder comfortably by themselves, while the
reverend gentleman is in the reading-desk or the pulpit. The cost of
the wine, however, does not amount to half the sum in their hands, and
the remainder goes to form a fund from which the church is painted,
repaired, decorated, and kept in apple-pie order--the whole fabric
undergoing a thorough revision and polish both outside and in as often
as a pretext can be found. What becomes of the bulk of the
property--the large surplus arising from the increased value of the
devised estate--this deponent sayeth not: the reader may be in a
condition to guess by the time he has read to the end of this paper.

In the year 1565, a Mr Edward Taylor willed to the Leathersellers'
Company a messuage, tenement, and melting-house, in the parish of St
Olave, and other messuages in the same parish, upon condition that
they should, quarterly and for ever, distribute among the poorest and
neediest people in the Poultry Compter one kilderkin of beer and
twelve pennyworths of bread, and the same to the poor of Wood Street
Compter, Newgate, and the Fleet, the King's Bench, and the Marshalsea
prisons. Under this bequest, the Company are at present in possession
of considerable property, vastly increased in value since the date of
the will; in respect of which property, 1s. worth of penny-loaves, and
2s. in money, in lieu of beer, are sent by them every quarter to the
poor prisoners in each of the prisons mentioned in the original
testament!

Robert Rogers devised in 1601 the sum of L.400 to the Leathersellers'
Company, 'to be employed in lands, the best pennyworth they could
get;' and that the house should have 40s. of it a year for ever. The
remainder was to be bestowed upon poor scholars, students of
divinity--two of Oxford, and two of Cambridge, for four years; and
after them to two others of each university; and after them, to
others; and so on for ever. He also, by the same will, devised L.200
to be lent to four young men, merchant adventurers, at L.6, 13s. 4d.,
for the L.200, interest. The whole of the interest was to be spent in
bread--to be distributed among poor prisoners--and coal for poor
persons, with the exception of some small fees and gratuities to the
parish clerk and beadle, for their trouble in carrying out his
intentions.

Lewisham, once a town in Kent, but now nothing more than a suburb of
London, enjoys the benefactions of the Rev. Abraham Colfe, who, in
1656, bequeathed property for the maintenance of numerous charities.
Some of them are singularly characteristic. Having provided for the
erection of three strong alms-houses, he directed that certain
alms-bodies should be periodically chosen, who were to be 'godly poor
inhabitants of Lewisham, and being single persons, and threescore
years old, past their hard bodily labour, and able to say the Lord's
Prayer, the Belief, and the Ten Commandments,' &c. &c. All these
alms-bodies were to have '3d. each allowed them every day for their
comfortable sustenance--that is, 21d. a week--to be paid them every
month during their _single_ life, and as long as they should behave
themselves honestly and godly, and duly frequent the parish church.'
They were to be summarily removed if guilty of profane or wicked
conduct. The alms-bodies were not to exceed five in number at any one
time. He directed a buttery to be built for their convenience, and
also a little brick room, with a window in it, for the five
alms-bodies to assemble in daily for prayer, and that the schoolmaster
of the reading-school should pray with them there. He further directed
the enclosure of gardens, of sixteen feet broad at the least, for
their recreation. Mr Colfe also left money for lectures at Lewisham
Church, as well as a sum for the purchase of Bibles, until they should
amount to the number of thirty or forty, which were to be chained to
the pews, or otherwise preserved; and he left 12d. a quarter to the
clerk for writing down the names of those that should use them; also
2s. 8d. to him for taking care of the clock and dial; also, 10s. for a
sermon on the 5th of November, and 12d. in bread for the poor who
should come and hear it, and 6d. to the parish clerk; also 20s., to be
distributed a penny at a time, to the children and servants who could
best say their catechism, and 6d. to the minister for catechising
them; also, a yearly sum of money for distributing on every
Lord's-day after the morning service, seven penny wheaten loaves, to
seven of the most honest, peaceable, and godly poor householders of
Lewisham, who could say the Lord's Prayer, the Belief, and the Ten
Commandments; also, 5s. a year to poor maid-servants, who at the time
of their marriage had continued seven years with their master or
mistress in Lewisham; with numerous other bequests. He further left
moneys for the preservation of his father's, grandfather's, his
wife's, and his own monument--his own being an oaken plank oiled, and
a stone 'a foot square every way, and three feet long.' The stone and
plank were removed many years ago, and an inscribed tablet has been
set into the outer wall of the church.

The practice of leaving money for the sustentation of tomb-stones and
monuments, appears to have prevailed for many generations; and may be
very naturally accounted for, by the repugnance which most men would
feel, to the idea of having their bones knocked about by the sexton's
spade, and then wheeled off to the bone-house, if there happens to be
a bone-house, or shot into the neighbouring river, or on a farmer's
dung-heap, if there is no such convenience as a bone-house at hand. It
was this feeling that induced the celebrated sculptor, Chantrey, to
make sure of a quiet resting-place for his remains.[2] In so doing, he
was, though perhaps unconsciously, but following the example of many
who have gone before him. We have more than once encountered a sober
party upon their annual visit to some country church-yard tomb, of
which, by virtue of some bequest--which provides them with a good
dinner upon the occasion--they are the appointed guardians. The
worshipful members of the London companies sometimes choose to rest
from their labours in a rural grave; and when they do, survivors are
always to be found not unwilling to enjoy once a year a pensive
holiday, coupled with the creature comforts, which the quiet comrade
whose behest they execute has taken care to provide for them. It would
be perhaps difficult to find a single church in all the little towns
and hamlets within a dozen miles of London, which does not contain one
tenant at least who has thus secured permanent possession of his last
resting-place. So strong is this feeling in some individuals, that
they shrink from confiding even in the stone-vaults in the interior of
a city church. Thus, Sir William Rawlins, not so very long ago,
bequeathed a certain sum of money for the preservation of his tomb and
monument in Bishopsgate Church. The bequest provides for the
remuneration of the visitors, who are specified parish functionaries,
and entertains them with a good dinner on the day of the annual
visitation, which they are bound to make--to inspect the monument and
tomb, and to guarantee their good condition. In many instances, the
sum originally devised for the sustentation of a grave or monument is
not sufficient, in the present day, to remunerate residents in London
for looking after it, and the money has been transferred to the parish
in which the testator lies, and has become the perquisite of the
sexton.

In the year 1635, one John Fletcher bequeathed to the Fishmongers'
Company the sum of L.120, to supply 10s. every month to the poor of St
Peter's Hospital, to provide them with a dinner on Sunday.

In the year 1653, Mr James Glassbrook bequeathed, after his wife's
death, the sum of L.500 in the following words: 'and L.500 more to
such uses as follow--to the poor of the parish of St Bololph Without,
in which I dwell, L.5 in bread yearly; L.5 to the poor of St Giles's
yearly in bread; to the poor of St Sepulchre's yearly in bread, L.5,
to be given every Sabbath-day in the churches.' The amount of bread at
the present time given away in London under this disposition,
supplemented by some smaller bequests, is sixty-eight half-quartern
loaves a week. The same poor persons, when they once get on the list,
continue to receive the bread during their whole lives, unless they
cease to reside in the parish, or are struck off the list of
pensioners for misconduct.

One Daniel Midwinter, in 1750, left L.1000 to the Stationers' Company,
to pay L.14 a year to the parish of St Faith's; and a like sum to
Hornsey parish, to be applied in apprenticing two boys or girls of the
several parishes, and to fit them out in clothes. At the present time,
the money is paid over to the parties receiving the apprentices, with
a recommendation to lay it out in clothes for the children.

By the will of John Stock, the parish of Christchurch received, among
other legacies, the sum of L.100, the interest of which was directed
to be applied in the following manner: one guinea to be paid to the
vicar for a sermon to be preached by him on Good-Friday; 10s. to the
curate for reading the prayers on that day; _and the remainder to be
equally distributed among such poor women as chose to remain and
receive the sacrament after the service!_

A Mr James Wood, amongst other curious provisions, devised to the
church-wardens of the parish of St Nicholas Cole Abbey, the sum of
15s. annually, to be given away in twopences to such poor people as
they should meet in the streets when going and returning from church
on a specified day.

The inhabitants of Watling Street, and other districts in the vicinity
of St Antholin's Church, are familiar with the sound of what is known
in the neighbourhood as the 'Fish-bell.' This is a bell which rings
out every Friday night from St Antholin's tower, to summon the
inhabitants to evening prayers: very few people attend to the summons,
which comes at an inconvenient time for that busy locality. There
stands almost against the walls of the church a pump, which is always
in good repair, and yields an excellent supply of water, greatly to
the convenience of the neighbourhood. Both the pump and the prayers
are the legacy of an old fish-woman of the last century. It is said,
that for forty years of her life she was in the habit of purchasing
fish in the small hours of the morning at Billingsgate Market; these
she washed and prepared for her customers at a small spring near St
Antholin's Church, and afterwards cried them about the town upon her
head. Having prospered in her calling, she bequeathed a sufficient sum
to perpetuate a weekly service in the church, and a good and efficient
pump erected over the spring of which she had herself enjoyed a
life-long privilege.

In St George's in the East, there is a charity, well-known as Raine's
Charity, which was founded by Henry Raine, Esq., in the earlier part
of the last century. The charity consists of two endowed schools,
sufficiently well provided for the maintenance and instruction of
fifty boys and as many girls, and the payment and support of a master
and mistress. It is one part of the system of management, that six
pupils of either sex leave the schools every year, to make room for as
many new ones. By a somewhat whimsical provision in the will of the
founder, a species of annual lottery comes off at the discharge of the
six girls. If they have behaved well, have been attentive and
obedient, and punctual and exact in the observance of their religious
duties, they are entitled to draw lots for the sum of L.100,
which will be paid to the fortunate holder of the prize as a
marriage-portion upon her wedding-day. It is further provided, that
the wedding is to take place on the 1st day of May; and that, in
addition to the portion, L.5 is to be expended upon a marriage-dinner
and a merry-making.

Bequests for the portioning of poor girls and virtuous servant-maids
are, indeed, not at all uncommon. In the village of Bawburgh, in
Norfolk, there is one founded in the last century by a Quaker
gentleman, who left a sum of money, the interest of which is shared
among the servant-girls in the place who get married. The amount is
not payable until twelve months after the wedding. The village being
small, it will sometimes happen that a good sum accumulates before an
applicant comes forward who can substantiate a claim upon it. The
object of such bequests as these is sufficiently plain: the donors had
evidently in view the counteracting of the wretched tendency of the
old poor-law, which, by giving the mother of an illegitimate child a
claim upon the parish funds, actually placed a premium upon female
frailty.

In London, there are charitable dispositions and bequests for the
nursery of every virtue that could be named, but more especially of
industry, providence, and thrift. A man may be brought into the world
by voluntary contributions; he may be maintained and educated at a
foundling asylum, if his parents, as thousands do, choose to throw him
upon the public compassion; he may ride into a good business upon the
back of a borrowed capital, for which he pays but a nominal interest;
and if he fail to realise a competence by his own endeavours, he may
perchance revel in some corporation sinecure, or, at the worst,
luxuriate in an alms-house, and be finally deposited in the
church-yard--and all at other people's expense. On the other hand, if
he be made of the right metal, he may carve his way to fortune and to
civic fame, and may die full of years and honours--in which case, he
is pretty sure to add one more to the list of charitable donors whose
legacies go to swell the expectancies of the city poor. It would be
difficult for any eccentric testator in the present day to hit upon a
new method of disposing of the wealth which he can no longer keep.
Every device for the exercise of posthumous generosity seems to have
been exhausted long ago.

The trust-estates, the source of so many of the city of London
charities, are mostly, if not all, under the control of the corporate
companies. How they are managed, is a secret altogether unknown to the
public, and of which, indeed, the livery and freemen of some of the
companies have but a very limited knowledge. The revenue derived from
the trust-estates, according to their own shewing, is not much less
than L.90,000 a year; but they have large revenues, of which they do
not choose to shew any account at all. These are supposed to arise
mainly from the increase in value of property originally devised to
charitable uses--which increase it is their custom to appropriate as
they please. 'Thus, for example,' says a writer on this subject, 'if a
testator left to any one of these companies a piece of land then worth
L.10 per annum, directing that L.10 should be annually appropriated to
the support of a school, and the land subsequently increases in value
to L.500, then the master and wardens of the company claim the right
of appropriating to their own uses the surplus of L.490. In no
equitable view of the case can this be deemed to be private property.'
It seems probable that these things will be looked into before long.
From a motion lately made in the House of Commons, we learn that a
thorough investigation is contemplated into the management and
application of all charities throughout the kingdom, the inquiry to be
conducted at the cost of the several charities, the largest of which
are not to pay more than L.50, and the smaller ones twopence in the
pound, upon the amount of their capital. Perhaps this inquiry may lead
to the recovery of some of the charities which are stated to be lost,
and of which nothing but the titles, under the denomination of
So-and-so's gift, remain upon the corporation records.

The secret management of the trust-estates contrasts curiously with
the pompous exhibition which some of the worshipful companies make of
their deeds of benevolence. Some of the smaller and older churches of
London are stuck over in the interior with enormous black boards, as
big as the church door almost, upon which are emblazoned, in gilt
letters, the donations to the poor, to the school, to the repair of
the fabric, &c. from the worshipful company of This and That, from the
days of King James--the inscriptions of whose time are illegible
through the smoke and damp of centuries--down to the days of Queen
Victoria, and the donations of last Christmas, fresh and glittering
from the hands of the gilder. Thus, the interesting old church of St
Bartholomew the Great is lined with the eleemosynary exploits of the
worshipful Ironmongers' Company, whose multitudinous banners of black
and gold are in abominable discordance with the severe and simple
architecture of the ancient edifice. 'Let not thy left hand know what
thy right hand doeth,' is a monition apparently not much in repute
among the corporate companies.

The reader may gather from the perusal of the above desultory
examples, selected from a mass of similar ones, some idea of the
enormous amount of the funds, intended for benevolent purposes, which
Christian men have bequeathed to the world; and they may perhaps serve
to enlighten the curious observer on the subject of some of the
unobtrusive phenomena which occasionally excite his admiration and
arouse his conjecture. They are the silent charities of men in the
silent land. How much good they do, and how much harm, and on which
side the balance is likely to lie--these are questions which for the
present we have neither time nor space to discuss.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] See _Chambers's Pocket Miscellany_, vol. iv.



LABOUR STANDS ON GOLDEN FEET.


The condition of the working-classes in this country is a subject of
intense interest to all thinking men; but it is profitable as well as
amusing to transfer our attention sometimes to the same portions of
society in other countries. In Germany, for instance, the people are
as busy as we are with their 'hand-workers,' and the questions of
freedom of industry and general instruction are as warmly discussed as
at home. We have now before us a little volume by the philosopher and
historian, Zschokke, which, in the form of a fictitious narrative,
treats very fully of the status of the mechanic in Fatherland; and we
are tempted to cull a few extracts which may afford the reader
materials for perhaps an interesting comparison.[3]

The real hero of the story is Hand-labour, and his progress is
described throughout three generations of men. He is the Thought of
the book, illustrated by adventure and vicissitude; living when the
human agents die in succession; and leaving a distinct and continuous
track in the reader's mind, when the names and persons fade or
conglomerate in his memory. And yet some of these names and persons
are not feebly individualised. The father, the son, and the grandson
stand well out upon the canvas; and while the family likeness is
strictly preserved from generation to generation, the men are seen
independent and alone, each in his own special development. The
patriarch was a travelling tinker, who wheeled his wares about the
country in a barrow; and then, rising in the world, attained the
dignity of a hawker, with a cart of goods, drawn by a little gray ass.
His son Jonas trotted on foot beside him in all his journeys, dining
like his father on bread and water, and sleeping in barns or stables.
But when the boy was old enough, he was turned off to pick up his own
subsistence like the redbreasts, the sparrows, and the woodpeckers.
'Listen, my lad,' quoth Daddy Thaddaeus; 'this is the spring. Look for
sloes and elderberries, rose-leaves and others for ointment; marjoram,
spurge, and thyme, wherever thou mayst and canst. These we will sell
to the apothecaries. In summer, gather basketfuls of strawberries,
bilberries, and raspberries; carry them to the houses: they will yield
money. In winter, let us gather and dry locks of wool, for the
saddlers and tapestry-makers, and withes for the basket and mat
manufacturers. From the table of the bountiful God, a thousand crumbs
are falling for us: these we will pick up. They will give thee cheese
to thy bread, and a piece of meat to thy potatoes. Only get to work! I
will give thee a little barrow, and a belt for thy shoulders.'

This was his first essay in business on his own account, and he worked
hard and throve well. His separation from his father taught him how to
stand on his own legs--an important piece of knowledge in a world that
is as full of leave-takings as of meetings; and when they did come
together, and the boy counted out his kreutzers, and the father patted
him approvingly on the cheek, that boy would have changed places with
no prince that ever sat on a throne. Jonas was at length apprenticed
to a girdler, or worker in metals; and the old tinker in due time
died, leaving his son the parting advice, to 'work, save, and pray,'
and a box containing a thousand guilders.

Jonas's apprenticeship passed on pretty much according to universal
rule; that is, he did the drudgery of the house as well as learned the
trade, and received kicks and cuffs from the journeymen. But in five
years his servitude was out, and he was a journeyman himself. He was
now, by the rules of his guild, obliged to travel for improvement; he
spent five or six years in going to and fro upon the earth, and then
came back to Altenheim an accomplished girdler. To become a master, it
was necessary to prepare his 'master-piece,' as a specimen of what he
could do; and the task allotted to him was to engrave on copper,
without rule or compass, the prince's family-crest, and then to gild
the work richly. This accomplished, he was received into the guild of
masters with much pomp, strange ceremonies, and old-fashioned
feasting--all at the charge of the poor beginner. 'Without reckoning
the heavy expenses of his mastership, or of clothing, linen, and
furniture, in the hired lodgings and workshops, no small sum was
requisite for the purchase of different kinds of tools--a lathe, an
anvil, crucibles, dies, graving-implements, steel pins, hammers,
chisels, tongs, scissors, &c.; and also for the purchase of brass and
pinchbeck ware, copper, silver, lead, quicksilver, varnish, brimstone,
borax, and other things indispensable for labour. He had also taken,
without premium, an apprentice, the child of very poor people, to help
him. He would have been very glad to put the rest of his money out to
interest again; but he had to provide the means of subsistence for at
least one year in advance, for he had to begin with neither wares nor
customers.'

Jonas now appears in the character of a lover, and his wooing is one
of the most beautiful pictures in the book. His choice has fallen upon
a servant-girl, whom he had known in boyhood.

'One morning, Master Jordan sent his apprentice with a message: "Miss
Fenchel was to come to him directly: he had found a good place for
her." Martha hastened thither gladly.

'"Hast thou found a place for me, dear Jonas?" asked she, giving him
her hand gracefully. "Thank God! I began to fear becoming troublesome
to our kind friends. Come, tell me where?"

'He looked anxiously into her joyous blue eyes; then, in confusion,
down to the ground; then again upwards to the roof of the room, and
round the four sides, as though he were seeking something lost.

'"Come, tell me, then?" repeated she. "Why art thou silent?"

'He collected himself, and began, hesitating: "It is--but Martha--thou
must not be angry with me."

'In surprise, she smiled. "Angry with thee, Jonas! If I would be, and
should be, could I be?"

'"Listen, Martha; I will shew thee--I must tell thee--I know a man
anxious to have thy heart and hand--who--even who"----

'"O Jonas, reproach me rather, but do not make mockery of me, a poor
maiden!" exclaimed she, shocked or hurt, while her face lost all its
colour, and she turned from him.

'"Martha, look at me. He is assuredly no bad man. I will bring him to
thee; I will give him to thee myself."

'"No, Jonas! no! From thee, least of all, can I receive a lover."

'"From me, least of all!" asked he with visible emotion. "From me,
least of all! And if--I don't know--if I would give thee myself--Look
at me, Martha! Tell me."

'Here silence ensued. She stood before him with downcast eyes and
glowing cheeks, and played with her apron-string. Then, as if still
doubting, she looked up again, her eyes swimming with tears, and said,
with trembling lips: "What must I say, then?"

'Jonas took courage, and whispered, half aloud: "Dost thou love me
with all thy heart?"

'Half aloud, Martha whispered back: "Thy heart knows it."

'"Canst thou be satisfied with dry bread and salt?"

'"Rather salt from thee than tears from me!"

'"Martha, I will work for thee; wilt thou save for me?"

'"I will be sparing in everything, except my own pains!"

'"Well then, darling, here is my hand! Take it. Wilt thou be mine?"

'"Was I not thine eight years ago and more? Even as a child? Yet no!
It ought not to be, Jonas."

'Alarmed, he looked in her face, and asked: "Not be? and why?"

'"Think well over it, Jonas! Do thyself no injustice. I am a poor
creature, without portion or property. Any other burgher's daughter in
the town would be glad to give thee her hand and heart, and a good
dowry beside. Thou mightst live much better."

'"Say nothing about that," cried Jonas, stretching out both his hands
imploringly. "Be still: I shall feel that I am but beginning to live,
if thou wilt promise to live with me."

'"Live, then!" said she, in blushing embarrassment, and gave him her
hand.

'He took her hand, and at the same time clasped his bride to his
bosom, that heaved with unwonted emotion. She wept on his breast in
silent joy.'

We would fain, if we had room, add to this the marriage sermon,
preached by the bridegroom, and well preached too; for Jonas had
knowledge, although, as he said himself, he never found half so much
in books as is lying everywhere about the road.

Martha was just the wife for the honest, sensible hand-worker; and as
it frequently happens with such characters, his affairs prospered
from the date of his marriage. He took a larger house in a
better situation for trade; and having presented the useless
'master-piece'--which nobody would buy--to the prince, he was rewarded
by the dignity of 'Master-girdler to the Court.' But still 'uprightly
and hardily the court-girdler lived with his wife, just as before;
active in the workshop and warehouse, at markets and at fairs. Year
after year fled, though, before the last guilder could be paid off, of
the debt on the house. Days of joy and of sorrow succeeded each other
in turn. They were all received with gratitude to God--these as well
as those.'

We now come hastily to the third generation; for Jonas had a son
called Veit, who was first apprenticed to his father, and then sent to
travel as a journeyman. The patriarch had had no education at all;
Jonas had snatched at his just as opportunities permitted; but Veit
went regularly through the brief and practical curriculum fitted for a
tradesman's son. He was, consequently, better informed and more
refined than either his father or grandfather; and spent so much time
in gaining a thorough insight into the branches connected with his own
business, that honest Jonas was quite puzzled. 'Where did the boy get
all these notions?' said he. 'He did not get them from me, I'm sure.'
Veit had a bad opinion of the travelling custom, and for these
reasons: 'How should these men, most of them badly brought up, attain
to any greater perfection in their business, if they have left home
and school without any preparation for it? No one can understand, if
his understanding has not been developed. From one publican they go to
another, and from one workshop to another; everywhere they find the
old common track--the mechanical, mindless life of labour, just as in
the very first place to which they were sent to learn their trade. At
most, they acquire dexterity by practice. Now and then they learn a
trick from a master, or get a receipt, which had been cautiously kept
secret; when possessed of this, they think something of themselves.
Even the character of these ramblers is not seldom destroyed by
intercourse with their fellows. They learn drinking and rioting,
gambling and licentiousness, caballing and debating. Many are ruined
before they return to their native place. Believe me, dearest father,
the time of travel is to very few a true school for life; one in
which, through frequent change of good and evil days, the head
acquires experience, the thoughts strength and clearness, the heart
courage, and reliance on God. Very few, even of those who bring a
scientific education with them, can gain much of value for their
calling in life; extend their views, transfer and apply to their own
line of business the inventions and discoveries that have been made in
other departments of art and industry.'

Jonas understood little of the refinements of his son, but he opened
his eyes when Veit obtained a lucrative appointment in a large
metallic manufactory, first in London and then in Paris. In a letter
informing his parents of this good-fortune, were enclosed the whole of
the savings from his salary. 'Master Jordan shook his head at this
passage, and cried out, deeply moved, yet as though vexed, while a
tear of motherly tenderness stole down Martha's cheek: "No! no! by no
means! What is the fool thinking of? He'll want the money himself--a
simpleton. Let him wait till he comes to the master-piece. What
pleases me most in the story, is his contentment and his humility. He
is not ashamed of his old silver watch yet. It is not everybody that
could act so. There must be strong legs to support such extraordinary
good-luck. These the bursch has!"'

After years of absence, the young man at last walks suddenly into the
paternal home, on his father's birthday, and makes them all scream and
weep with joy. '"Hark ye, bursch!" exclaimed Jonas, who regarded him
with fatherly delight, "thou seem'st to me almost too learned, too
refined, and too elegant for Veit Jordan. What turner has cut so neat
a piece of furniture out of so coarse a piece of timber?"' His stay,
however, was short. M. and Mme Bellarme (his employer at Paris) 'had
been loth, almost afraid, to let him go. The feeble state of health of
the former began to be so serious, that he durst not engage in the
bulk of his affairs. In the space of a year, both felt so complete
confidence in Veit's knowledge of business, and in his honour, that
they had taken him as a partner in trade, and in the foundry.
Henceforth, M. Bellarme contributed his capital only; Veit his
knowledge, care, and industry.'

The reform of the guilds, and the establishment of a technological
school for the young hand-workers--both through the instrumentality of
Jonas--we have no room to touch; for we must say a parting word on the
reunion of the family by Veit's return permanently from abroad.
Notwithstanding the prosperity of the now old couple, 'everything, ay,
everything, was as he had left it years ago--as he had known it from
childhood--only Christiane not. There stood yet the two well-scoured
old deal-tables, wrinkled, though, from the protruding fibres of the
wood; there were the straw-bottomed stools still; and at the window,
Mother Martha's arm-chair, before which, as a child, he had repeated
his lessons; there still hung the same little glass between the
windows; and the wall-clock above the stove sent forth its tic-tac as
fastly as ever. Father Jonas, in his enlarged workshop, with more
journeymen and apprentices, smelted and hammered, filed and formed
still, from morning to night, as before. The noble housewife flew
about yet busy as a bee: she had managed the housekeeping without a
servant since Christiane had been grown up. And Veit came back with
the same cheerful disposition that he had ever shewn. In the
simply-furnished rooms which Martha had fitted up for him, in the
upper storey of the house, he forgot the splendid halls, the boudoirs,
and antechambers of London, Paris, and the Bellarme estate; the
Gobelin tapestry, the gold-framed pictures; the convenience of elegant
furniture, and the artificial delicacies of the table on
silver-plate.' Assisted by the patronage of the prince, he established
a great foundry in his native town, of ball and cannon, bronze and
brass; and on his marriage with the aforesaid Christiane, the
sovereign made him a handsome present, in a handsome manner, 'as a
small token of his gratitude to a family that had been so useful to
the country.'

In addition to the hand-workers' school, there now arose, under the
auspices of this family, a training-school for teachers, a
labour-school for females, and other establishments. The town was
embellished; the land in the neighbourhood rose in value;
uncleanliness and barbarism in food, clothing and houses, disappeared.
'Only old men and women, grown rusty in the habits and the ignorance
of many years, complain that the times are worse; at the sight of a
higher civilisation, they complain of "the luxury and the pride of the
world now-a-days;" as superstition dies out, they complain of "human
incredulity, and the downfall of religion." "The day of judgment," say
they, "is at hand."

'But Master Jonas, when seventy years had silvered his hair, stood
almost equal to a strong man of thirty, happy, indeed, by the side of
the pious Martha, in a circle of his children and children's children,
honoured by his fellow-citizens, and honoured by his prince. He often
told the story of his boyhood, how he used to go about hawking with
Father Thaddaeus the tinker; and his face glowed with inward
satisfaction, when he compared the former period with present changes,
in the production of which he could never have imagined he was to have
so considerable a share. Then he used to exclaim: "Have I not always
said it? Clear understanding only in the head, love to one's
neighbour in the heart, frugality in the stomach, and industry in the
fingers--then: HAND-WORK STANDS ON GOLDEN FEET."'

FOOTNOTES:

[3] _Labour Stands on Golden Feet; or, the Life of a Foreign Workman_,
&c. By Heinrich Zschokke. London: Groombridge.



LORD ROSSE'S DISCOVERIES.


As Professor Nichol very truly remarks, 'investigation regarding such
aggregations is virtually a branch of atomic and molecular inquiry,'
with stars in place of atoms, mighty spheres in place of 'dust,' 'the
firmament above' instead of 'the firmament beneath.' In fact, the
astronomer, in sweeping with his telescopic eye the 'blue depths of
ether,' is, as it were, some Lilliputian inhabitant of an atom prying
into the autumnal structure of some Brobdignagian world of saw-dust;
organised into spiral and other elementary forms, of life, it may be,
something like our own. The infinite height appears, in short, like
the infinite depth, and we knowing not precisely where we stand
between the two immensities of depth and height! The shapes evolved by
the wonderful telescope of Lord Rosse are, many of them, absolutely
fantastical; wonder and awe are mingled with almost ridiculous
feelings in contemplating the strange apparitions--strange
monstrosities we had almost called them--that are pictured on the
background of the illustrations. One aggregation looms forth out of
the darkness like the skeleton face of some tremendous mammoth, or
other monstrous denizen of ancient times, with two small fiery eyes,
however, gazing out of its great hollow orbits; another consists of a
central nucleus, with arms of stars radiating forth in all directions,
like a star-fish, or like the scattering fire-sparks of some
pyrotechnic wheel revolving; a third resembles a great wisp of straw,
or twist or coil of ropes; a fourth, a cork-screw, or other spiral,
seen on end; a fifth, a crab; a sixth, a dumb-bell--many of them
scroll or scrolls of some thin texture seen edgewise; and so on. It is
even a suggestion of the author's, that some of the spiral and armed
wheels may be revolving yet in the vast ocean of space in which they
are engulfed. Thus has the telescope traced the 'binding' influences
of the Pleiades, loosened the bands of 'Orion'--erst the chief
_nebulous_ hazy wonders, once and for all revealing its separate
stars: and thus, in brief, has this wondrous instrument 'unrolled the
heavens as a scroll.' Yet even these astonishing results are as
nothing to the fact, that those fantastic shapes which it has revealed
in the depths of this _lambo_ of creation, are not shapes merely of
the present time--that thousands of years have passed since the light
that shewed them left the starry firmaments only now revealed--that
the telescope, in short, in reflecting these astonishing shapes,
deliver to the eye of mind turned inward on the long-stored records of
a universal and eternal memory of the past, than to a mere eye of
sense looking outward on the things of passing time!--_The Builder_.



SOUTH-AFRICAN REPTILES.


I was going quietly to bed one evening, wearied by a long day's
hunting, when, close to my feet, and by my bedside, some glittering
substance caught my eye. I stooped to pick it up; but, ere my hand had
quite reached it, the truth flashed across me--it was a snake! Had I
followed my first natural impulse, I should have sprung away, but not
being able clearly to see in what position the reptile was lying, or
which way his head was pointed, I controlled myself, and remained
rooted breathless to the spot. Straining my eyes, but moving not an
inch, I at length clearly distinguished a huge puff-adder, the most
deadly snake in the colony, whose bite would have sent me to the other
world in an hour or two. I watched him in silent horror: his head was
from me--so much the worse; for this snake, unlike any other, always
rises and strikes back. He did not move; he was asleep. Not daring to
shuffle my feet, lest he should awake and spring at me, I took a jump
backwards, that would have done honour to a gymnastic master, and thus
darted outside the door of the room. With a thick stick, I then
returned and settled his worship. Some parts of South Africa swarm
with snakes; none are free from them. I have known three men killed by
them in one harvest on a farm in Oliphant's Hoek. There is an immense
variety of them, the deadliest being the puff-adder, a thick and
comparatively short snake. Its bite will kill occasionally within an
hour. One of my friends lost a favourite and valuable horse by its
bite, in less than two hours after the attack. It is a sluggish
reptile, and therefore more dangerous; for, instead of rushing away,
like its fellows, at the sound of approaching footsteps, it half
raises its head and hisses. Often have I come to a sudden pull-up on
foot and on horseback, on hearing their dreaded warning! There is also
the cobra-capello, nearly as dangerous, several black snakes, and the
boem-slang, or tree-snake, less deadly, one of which I once shot seven
feet long. The Cape is also infested by scorpions, whose sting is
little less virulent than a snake-bite; and by the spider called the
tarantula, which is extremely dreaded.--_The Cape, by A. W. Cole_.



LINES.


  Ask me not with simple grace,
    Pearls of thought to string for thee;
  For upon thy smiling face,
    Perfect gems I see--
  In thine eyes of beauty trace
    Lights that fadeless be.

  Bid me not from Memory's land,
    Cull fair flowers of rich perfume;
  Love will shew with trembling hand,
    Where far fairer bloom--
  Clustering on thy cheek they stand,
    Blushing deep--for whom?

  Bid me not with Fancy's gale
    Wake the music of a sigh;
  From thy breath a sweeter tale,
    Silver-winged, floats by;
  Melodies that never fail,
    Heard when thou art nigh!

  Ask me not--yet, oh! for thee
    Dearer thoughts my bosom fill,
  Dimmed with tears I cannot see
    To do thy gracious will:
  Take, then, my prayer--In heaven may we
    Behold thee lovelier still!

                                      PERCIE.



ILLUSTRATIONS OF EXTREME MINUTENESS.


Dr Wollaston obtained platinum-wire so fine, that 30,000 pieces,
placed side by side in contact, would not cover more than an inch. It
would take 150 pieces of this wire bound together to form a thread as
thick as a filament of raw silk. Although platinum is the heaviest of
the known bodies, a mile of this wire would not weigh more than a
grain. Seven ounces of this wire would extend from London to New York.
Fine as is the filament produced by the silkworm, that produced by the
spider is still more attenuated. A thread of a spider's web, measuring
four miles, will weigh very little more than a single grain. Every one
is familiar with the fact, that the spider spins a thread, or cord, by
which his own weight hangs suspended. It has been ascertained that
this thread is composed of about 6000 filaments.--_Lardner's
Handbook_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. and R. CHAMBERS, High Street, Edinburgh.
Also sold by W. S. ORR, Amen Corner, London; D. N. CHAMBERS, 55 West
Nile Street, Glasgow; and J. M'GLASHAN, 50 Upper Sackville Street,
Dublin.--Advertisements for Monthly Parts are requested to be sent to
MAXWELL & Co., 31 Nicholas Lane, Lombard Street, London, to whom all
applications respecting their insertion must be made.





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