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Title: Invention and Discovery: - Curious Facts and Characteristic Sketches
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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[Illustration]

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[Illustration]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        INVENTION AND DISCOVERY:



                    Curious Facts and Characteristic
                               Sketches.



[Illustration]



                            W^M. W. SWAYNE,
                         BROOKLYN AND NEW YORK.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                      MURRAY AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
              PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.



------------------------------------------------------------------------

                               CONTENTS.

                             --------------

                                                                 PAGE
   Alchemists, The Last of the                                    110
   Alpine Perils--Professor Forbes on                              30
   Amber an Article of International Trade                         66
   Amsterdam Pile, The                                            150
   Antiquity of Lightning Conductors                               67
   Antiquity of Refined Sugar                                      87
   Arkwright's Spinning Frame                                     128
   Art of Stereotype, The                                         105
   Artesian Well of Grenelle, The                                 132
   Ascent of the Jungfrau Alp, by Forbes, &c.                      44
   Astronomical Shoemaker, An                                      51
   Babbage's Calculating Machine                                   59
   Balloon Travelling, Rate of                                    103
   Balloon Voyage from London to Nassau                            86
   Banks', Sir Joseph, Balance                                     37
   Benefit of a Wife to an Author                                  40
   Black, Dr., The Death of                                       133
   Brindley the Engineer                                           43
   Brongniart's Early Life                                         33
   Brougham's, Lord, Scientific Blunders                           90
   Buckingham Palace Gates                                         37
   Burning Mirrors of Archimedes, The                             140
   Carnot when a Child                                             23
   Catching Electric Eels                                          74
   Character of Engineers in their Works                           43
   Clearness of the Sky at the Cape of Good Hope                   88
   Coal Gas in Balloons, Use of                                    21
   Cocoa-Nut Crab, The                                             50
   Coffee-Tree, Transportation of the                             127
   Columbus' own Ship-Journal                                      70
   Crawshays of Merthyr Tydvil, The                                15
   Cuvier and Napoleon                                             21
   Cuvier, Childhood of                                            25
   Cuvier, Homage to                                               14
   Cuvier in London                                                39
   Davy, Sir Humphry, Death of                                     13
   Davy, Sir Humphry, as an Angler                                 93
   Deaf, The, How they may Hear                                    68
   Decline of Science, The                                         52
   Dee, Dr., The Necromancer                                      117
   Descartes' "Wooden Daughter"                                    51
   Descent in a Diving-Bell, A                                     92
   Diamonds, Celebrated                                           114
   Discoveries Anticipated                                         54
   Diving-Bell, First Use of the                                  103
   Drummond Light, The                                             62
   Drying Wood for Violins                                         69
   Drymaking in Holland, A                                        137
   Early Incitements (Humboldt's) to Study of Nature               72
   Earthquakes, in Chile                                           38
   Earthquakes, How to Measure                                     62
   Electricity, The Velocity of                                   155
   Electrifying Machine in Persia, An                              60
   El Dorado of Sir Walter Raleigh                                 65
   Elgin Marbles, The                                              58
   Experiments with an Electric Eel                                79
   False Anticipations of Railway Speed                            14
   Faraday as a Lecturer                                           88
   Female Mathematician, A French                                  56
   Ferguson, The Wife of James                                     92
   Fire-proof House on Putney Heath                               109
   "Fossil Rain"                                                  104
   Fourdrinier's Paper-making Machinery                            48
   Fourier's Independence                                          56
   Franklin's Discoveries                                          22
   Gold in Siberia                                                 83
   Gutta-percha, Discovery of                                      20
   Herschel's Love of Music                                        59
   Herschel, his First Telescope                                   75
   Herschel, his Sister                                            94
   Holding a "Craw's Court"                                        30
   Hyena, A Tame                                                  107
   India Rubber 150 Years Since                                    85
   Indian Jugglers' Secret, The                                   105
   Invention of Gun Cotton                                         35
   Invention of the Diving-Bell                                    78
   Invention of the Hand Gear                                     130
   Invisible Despatch, The                                        107
   Jesuit's Bark, The First Use of                                 51
   Kaleidoscope, Combinations of the                               84
   Kaleidoscope, Sir D. Brewster's                                120
   Kaleidoscope, The First                                         91
   Leaning Tower of Pisa, The                                      29
   Leibnitz's Last Moments                                         21
   Lifting Heavy Persons                                          124
   Lighthouses, Reflecting, The Origin of                         123
   Lion Eaten as Food, The                                        101
   Lithography, The Discovery of                                  159
   London as a Port                                                48
   Longevity of the Beetle                                        102
   Magnetic Correspondence in the 17th Century                    142
   Mariner's Compass, The                                         156
   Marvels of the Alchemists                                      129
   "Means to the End," The                                         84
   Mechanical Triumphs                                             57
   Monochromatic Painting                                         156
   Moon Seen through Lord Rosse's Telescope, The                  101
   Mythology of Science, The                                       64
   Navigation before the Compass                                  144
   Necessity the Mother of Invention                              136
   Newton's Finger-Magnet                                          20
   Nice Robbery, A                                                 55
   Observatory, Ancient, in Persia                                 47
   Old St. Paul's, A Wrench to                                    146
   Origin of Post Paid Envelopes                                   42
   Ostrich, Enemies of the                                        108
   Parachute Descent, A Safe                                      104
   Pascal's Childhood                                              18
   Pascal, How He Weighed the Atmosphere                           28
   Perils of Chemical Experiment                                  151
   Philosophical Enthusiasm                                        31
   Poetic Prophecies of Darwin and Milton                           9
   Poker across the Fire, The                                     130
   Potato, Introduction of the, into France                        88
   Power of the Lever                                              59
   Railway System Suggested, The                                   89
   "Raining Trees" at the Cape                                    106
   Raleigh, Sir Walter, a Chemist                                  58
   Rapid Manufacture of a Coat                                     54
   Reason for Silence, Fontaine's                                  44
   Rosse's, Lord, Telescope                                       121
   Rust, Protection by                                            100
   St. Pierre's "Paul and Virginia"                                62
   Scientific Pilgrim, A                                          139
   Self-taught Mechanist, A                                       149
   Semaphore v. Electric Telegraph                                146
   "Shepherd to the King of England for Scotland"                  32
   Siberian Mammoth Remains, The                                  152
   Smeaton's Independence,                                         23
   Smeaton, his Reproof of Gaming                                  34
   Snow Spectacles of the Esquimaux                               148
   Society of Arts, Origin of the                                 125
   Spinning Feats                                                 128
   Steam-Gun in the 15th Century                                   46
   Strychnine a Remedy for Paralysis                               54
   Sun, Total Eclipse of the, at Cuba,                            102
   Sun, Vast Spot on the                                           12
   Talent and Opportunity                                          80
   Tea, Identity of Black and Green,                               99
   Tea, The First Cup of, Drunk in England                         40
   Tebreez, Variable Climate of                                    52
   Telegraph, Origin of the Electric                              134
   Telescope, Invention of the                                     97
   Thames Tunnel, Construction of the                              10
   Travelling Carriage, A Novel                                   108
   Travelling in the Himalaya Mountains                            82
   Travels of Volcanic Dust                                        33
   Tropical Delights, Sydney Smith's                               79
   Tycho Brahe, Credulity of                                       97
   Vast Mirrors Made in Russia                                    127
   Vicissitudes of Mining in Mexico                                79
   Voyages of Manufactures                                        119
   Waste of Human Life                                            123
   Watch Melted by Lightning, A                                   105
   Watt's Discovery of the Composition of Water                    26
   Weighing-Machine at the Bank of England                         17
   "Wet the Ropes!"                                               131
   Whitebait, The Rights of                                        73
   Who First Doubled the Cape?                                     91
   Wonders of Australia, Sydney Smith on the                       76
   World in a Drop of Water, The                                   42

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                 NOTE.

In the annals of INVENTION and DISCOVERY, it may be said without undue
boasting, no nation of modern times can lay claim to such an eminent
position as Great Britain; and her many ingenious and intrepid
adventurers into what they found unknown regions of the arts, the
sciences, and the earth's surface, have so largely contributed to raise
her to her great place and power, that it is mere justice and
self-interest to bestow on them grateful rewards in life, and renown
after death. In this little volume are brought together a number of
sketches and memoranda, illustrating the history of discovery, and the
lives and labours of inventors and explorers, not of our own country
alone, but of others--for knowledge is of no country, but of all. The
object of the collector has been rather to present the popular than the
strictly scientific side of his subject--to furnish materials of
interest and amusement, as well as instruction; and if now and then he
has been tempted to stray into bye-paths of anecdote and gossip, excuse
may readily be found in the fact that the private life of our men of
science, often singularly noble and full of character, is apt to be
altogether obscured by the brilliancy of the results of their secret and
silent toil. This volume will have served its purpose, if it excites an
appetite for fuller and deeper inquisition into the sources of British
greatness and of modern civilisation.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        INVENTION AND DISCOVERY.

                    _CURIOUS FACTS AND ILLUSTRATIVE
                               SKETCHES._


                           ------------------


                           POETIC PROPHECIES.


In Dr. Darwin's _Botanic Garden_, first published in 1789, but written,
it is well known, at least twenty years before the date of its
publication, occurs the following prediction respecting Steam:--

          "Soon shall thy arm, unconquer'd Steam, afar
          Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car;
          Or, on wide-waving wings expanded bear
          The flying chariot through the fields of air,[1]
          Fair crews triumphant leaning from above,
          Shall wave their fluttering 'kerchiefs as they move;
          Or warrior bands alarm the gaping crowd,
          And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud:
          So mighty Hercules o'er many a clime
          Waved his huge mace in virtue's cause sublime;
          Unmeasured strength with early art combined,
          Awed, served, protected, and amazed mankind."

A distinguished photographer imagines that he has traced the
foreshadowing of his delightful science in the following passage from
our great epic poet:

                                "With one touch virtuous
              Th' arch-chemic sun, so far from us remote,
              Produces."

                                        _Paradise Lost_, b. iii. v. 608.

-----

Footnote 1:

  Darwin projected an "aërial steam-carriage," in which he proposed to
  use wings similar to those of a bird, to which motion was to be given
  by a gigantic power worked by high-pressure steam, though the details
  of his plan were not bodied forth.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                   CONSTRUCTION OF THE THAMES TUNNEL.


When the ingenious Miss Pardoe visited Constantinople in 1836, she was
not less surprised than gratified by the inquiry of an Albanian chief,
as to the probable completion of the Thames tunnel. This, however, is
but one of the many instances of the anxiety with which the great work
was watched throughout continental Europe. In Egypt, too, where a new
country is rising, phoenix-like, upon the ashes of the old world, the
progress of the tunnel was regarded with like curiosity; participated,
indeed, throughout the civilised world. This interest is fully attested
by the visitors' book at the Tunnel, wherein are inscribed the names of
scientific men belonging to nearly every city of importance. The
engineer of this great work, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Mark Isambard Brunel,
completed his design in 1823; and amongst those who then regarded it as
practicable were the Duke of Wellington and the late Dr. Wollaston. The
works were commenced in 1825, and the Tunnel itself in 1826; and by
March, 1827, it had advanced about one-third of the whole length. All
proceeded well till May 18, when the river burst into the Tunnel with
such velocity and volume, as to fill it in fifteen minutes; but,
although the men were at work, no lives were lost. The hole,
thirty-eight feet deep, was closed with bags of clay and hazel-rods, the
water pumped out, and the works resumed in September. On Jan. 12, 1828,
the river broke in a second time, and filled the Tunnel in less than ten
minutes; when the rush of water brought with it a strong current of air
that put out the lights; six of the workmen were lost. For some
distance, Mr. Brunel, junior, struggled in total darkness, and the rush
of the water carried him up the shaft. The Tunnel was again cleared, and
the part completed found to be sound. Hundreds of plans were proposed
for its completion; the funds of the company were too low to proceed,
and above 5000_l._ was raised by public subscription.

For seven years the work was suspended; but, by advances from
Government, it was resumed in 1835. On April 23, 1837, there was a third
irruption of the river; a fourth on Nov. 2, 1837, with the loss of one
life; and, on March 6, 1838, the fifth and last irruption took place.
Thus, of the tunnel there were completed--

                     In 1836         117 feet.
                     -- 1837           28   "
                     -- 1838           80   "
                     -- 1839          194   "
                     -- 1840           76   "

Leaving only 60 feet to complete.

Meanwhile, the tunnel works proved a very attractive exhibition. In
1838, they were visited by 23,000 persons, and, in 1839, by 34,000. By
Jan. 1841, the tunnel was completed from shore to shore--1140 feet, and
Sir I. Brunel, on Aug. 13, was the first to pass through. On March 25,
1843, the tunnel was opened to the public, with a demonstration of
triumph.

The cost of the work has been nearly four times the sum at first
contemplated; the actual expense being upwards of 600,000_l._ These, of
course, are but a few data of the great work, the progress of which, for
twenty years, interested every admirer of scientific enterprize. The
engineering details present marvels of ingenuity. The building of the
vast brick shaft, 50 feet in diameter, 42 feet in height, and 3 feet
thick, with, set over it, the steam-engine for pumping out the water and
raising the earth--and the sinking of the whole, _en masse_, into the
Rotherhithe bank, were master-works of genius. Thus far the vertical
shaft: the tunnel itself commenced with an excavation larger than the
interior of the old House of Commons. But the great invention was the
_shield_ apparatus--the series of cells, in which, as the miners worked
at one end, the bricklayers formed at the other the top, sides, and
bottom of the tunnel. The dangers, too, were many: sometimes, portions
of the frame would break, with the noise of a cannon-shot; then alarming
cries were heard, as some irruption of earth or water poured in; the
excavators were, however, much more inconvenienced by fire than
water--gas explosions frequently wrapping the place with a sheet of
flame, and strangely mingling with the water, and rendering the workmen
insensible. Yet, with all these perils, but seven lives were lost in
making the tunnel under the Thames; whereas, nearly forty men were
killed in building the new London Bridge.--_Note-book of 1848._


                           ------------------


                         VAST SPOT ON THE SUN.


Sir John Herschel, when at the Cape of Good Hope, observed, on May 25,
1837, a spot upon the sun, the black centre of which would have allowed
the globe of our earth to drop through it, leaving a thousand miles
clear of contact on all sides of that tremendous gulf.


                           ------------------


                       DEATH OF SIR HUMPHRY DAVY.


It was at Rome, on the 20th day of February, 1829, when he was finishing
his eloquent work, _The Last Days of a Philosopher_, that Sir Humphry
Davy received the final warning to prepare. By dictation, he wrote to
his brother, who was at Malta with the British troops--"I am dying from
a severe attack of palsy, which has seized the whole of the body, with
the exception of the intellectual organ. I shall leave my bones in the
Eternal City." But he was to die neither then nor there. Within three
weeks, his brother was by his bedside, and found him as much interested
in the anatomy and electricity of the torpedo as ever, though he bade
Dr. Davy "not to be grieved" by his approaching dissolution. Yet, after
a day of 150 pulse-beats, and only five breathings in a minute, and of
the most distressing particular symptoms, he again revived. Shortly
after this, Lady Davy arrived at Rome from England, with a copy of the
second edition of _Salmonia_, which Sir Humphry received with peculiar
pleasure. After some weeks of melancholy dalliance with the balmy spring
air of the Campagna, the Albula Lake, the hills of Tivoli, and the banks
of the Tiber, they travelled quietly round by Florence, Genoa, Turin,
slowly threading the flowery, sweet-scented Alpine valleys, to Geneva,
where _he suddenly expired_. It was three hours beyond midnight; his
servant called his brother; his brother was in time to close his eyes.
It was the 29th of May, in 1829.

They buried him at Geneva. In truth, Geneva buried him herself, with
serious and respectful ceremonial. A simple monument stands at the head
of the hospitable grave. There is a tablet to his memory on the walls of
Westminster Abbey. There is a monument also, at Penzance, his
birth-place.


                           ------------------


                           HOMAGE TO CUVIER.


When the Count de Seze replied to an eloquent discourse of Cuvier, he
stated that, "since the Restoration, Cuvier was the second example of
fortunate combination of literature and science, and that he had been
preceded only by that illustrious geometer, (the Marquis de Laplace),
whom we may call the _Newton_ of France." In referring to the European
reputation of Cuvier, and to the vast extent and variety of his
knowledge, he applied to him the happy observation which Fontenelle made
respecting Leibnitz--that while the ancients made one Hercules out of
several, we might, out of one Cuvier, make several philosophers.


                           ------------------


                    FALSE ESTIMATE OF RAILWAY SPEED.


The ordinary speed of George Stephenson's Killingworth engine, in 1814,
was four miles an hour. In 1825, Mr. Wood, in his work on Railways, took
the standard at six miles an hour, drawing 40 tons on a level; and so
confident was he that he gauged the power of the locomotive, that he
asserted--"nothing could do more harm towards the adoption of railways
than the promulgation of such nonsense as that we shall see locomotive
engines travelling at the rate of 12, 16, 18, and 20 miles an hour." The
promulgator of such nonsense was George Stephenson. In 1829, it was
estimated that, at 15 miles an hour, the gross load was 9-1/2 tons, and
the net load very little; and that, therefore, high speed, if
attainable, was perfectly useless. Before the end of that year, George
Stephenson got with "the Rocket" a speed of 29-1/2 miles an hour,
carrying a net load of 9-1/2 tons. In 1831, his engines were to draw 90
tons on a level, at 20 miles an hour.

When the speed of the locomotive was set beyond question, prejudice then
took the alarm about safety, and a very strong stand was from time to
time made for a limitation of speed. Even after the year 1849, the
London and Birmingham Directors considered that 20 miles an hour was
enough; but the vigour of the broad gauge advocates has tripled the
working power of the locomotive, and given us 60 miles an hour where we
might have been lingering at 20.


                           ------------------


                    THE CRAWSHAYS OF MERTHYR TYDVIL.


Mr. Crawshay, of the Cyfarthfa Works, at a dinner given to him in 1847,
by the people of Merthyr, related the following account of the rise of
his family of "Iron Kings," as they are called.

"My grandfather was the son of a most respectable farmer in Normanton,
Yorkshire. At the age of 15, father and son differed. My grandfather, an
enterprising boy, rode his own pony to London, then an arduous task of
some fifteen or twenty days' travelling. On getting there, he found
himself perfectly destitute of friends. He sold his pony for 15_l._; and
during the time that the proceeds of the pony kept him, he found
employment in an iron warehouse of London, kept by Mr. Bicklewith. He
hired himself for three years for 15_l._, the price of his pony. His
occupation was to clean the counting-house, to put the desks in order,
and to do anything else that he was told. By industry, integrity, and
perseverance, he gained his master's favour, and was termed 'the
Yorkshire Boy.' He had a very amiable and good master; and, before he
had been two years in his place, he stood high in this just man's
confidence. The trade in which he was engaged was only a cast-iron
warehouse, and his master assigned to him, 'the Yorkshire Boy,' the
privilege of selling flat irons--the things with which our shirts and
clothes are flattened. The washerwomen of London were sharp folks; and
when they bought one flat iron, they stole two. Mr. Bicklewith thought
that the best person to cope with them would be a man working for his
own interest--and a Yorkshireman at the same time. That was the first
matter of trading that ever my grandfather embarked in. By honesty and
perseverance, he continued to grow in favour. His master retired in a
few years, and left my grandfather in possession of his cast-iron
business in London, which was carried on on the very site where I now
spend my days--in York Yard. My grandfather left his business in London,
and came down here; and my father, who carried it on, supplied him with
money almost as fast as he spent it here; but not quite so fast. What
occurred subsequently, this company knows perfectly well. Who started
with humbler prospects in life than my grandfather? No man in this room
is so poor but that he can command 15_l._ Depend upon it, any man who is
industrious, honest, and persevering, will be respected in any class of
life he may move in. Do you, think, gentlemen, there is a man in England
prouder than I am at this moment? What is all the world to me, unless
they know me?"


                           ------------------


                WEIGHING MACHINE AT THE BANK OF ENGLAND.


The most interesting place connected with the machinery of the Bank of
England is the Weighing-Office, which was established about 1840. In
consequence of a proclamation concerning the gold circulation, it became
very desirable to obtain the most minute accuracy, as coins of different
weight were plentifully offered. Many complaints were made, that
sovereigns which had been issued from one office were refused at
another; and though these assertions were not, perhaps, always founded
on truth, yet it is indisputable that the evil occasionally occurred.
Every effort was made by the Directors to remedy this, some millions of
sovereigns being weighed separately, and the light coins divided from
those which were full weight. Fortunately, the Governor for the time
being, (Mr. W. Cotton), before whom the complaints principally came, was
attached to scientific pursuits; and he at once turned his attention to
discover the causes which operated to prevent the attainment of a just
weight. In this he was successful, and the result of his inquiry was, a
machine, remarkable for an almost elegant simplicity. About 80 or 100
light and heavy sovereigns are placed indiscriminately in a round tube;
as they descend on the machinery beneath, those which are light receive
a slight touch, which moves them into their proper receptacle; while
those which are the legitimate weight, pass into their appointed place.
The light coins are then defaced by a sovereign-cutting machine,
remarkable alike for its accuracy and rapidity. By this, 200 may be
defaced in one minute; and, by the weighing machinery, 35,000 may be
weighed in one day.

An eminent member of the Royal Society mentioned to the writer, that,
amongst scientific men, it is a question whether the Weighing-Machine of
Mr. Cotton is not the finest thing in Mechanics; and that there is only
one other invention--the envelope-machine of De la Rue--to be named with
it.--_Francis's History of the Bank of England._


                           ------------------


                          CHILDHOOD OF PASCAL.


Pascal, the celebrated French philosopher and divine, (whose life, Bayle
affirms, is worth a hundred sermons), evinced such early ardour for
knowledge, that, at the age of eleven, he was ambitious of teaching as
well as learning; and he then composed a little treatise on the
refractions of the sounds of vibrating bodies when touched by the
finger. One day he was found alone in his chamber, tracing, in lines of
coal, geometrical figures on the wall; and, on another occasion, he was
surprised by his father, just when he had succeeded in obtaining a
demonstration of the 32nd proposition of the first book of Euclid--that
the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles. Astonished
and overjoyed, his father rushed to his friend, M. Pailleur, to announce
the extraordinary fact; and the young geometer was instantly permitted
to study, unrestrained, the Elements of Euclid, of which he soon made
himself master, without any extrinsic aid. From the geometry of planes
and solids he passed to the higher branches of the science; and, before
he was sixteen years of age, he composed a treatise on the Conic
Sections, which evinced the most extraordinary sagacity. When scarcely
19 years of age, too, Pascal contrived a machine to assist his father in
making the numerical calculations which his official duties in Upper
Normandy required.

In later life, Pascal found researches in geometry an occupation well
fitted to give serenity to a heart bleeding from the wounds of his
beloved associates. He had long before renounced the study of the
sciences; but during a violent attack of toothache, which deprived him
of sleep, the subject of the cycloid forced itself upon his thoughts.
Fermat, Roberval, and others, had trodden the same ground before him;
but, in less than eight days, and under severe suffering, he discovered
a general method of solving this class of problems, by the summation of
certain series; and as there was only one step from this discovery to
that of Fluxions, Pascal might, with more leisure and better health,
have won from Newton and from Leibnitz the glory of that great
invention.


                           ------------------


                    THE DISCOVERER OF GUTTA PERCHA.


The Gutta Percha Tree, or Gutta Tuban, as it ought more properly to be
called--the Percha being a spurious article--abounds in the indigenous
forests of Singapore, although it was only about the year 1840 that it
was discovered by Europeans. The first notice taken of it appears to
have been by Dr. W. Montgomerie, in a letter to the Bengal Medical
Board, in the beginning of 1843, wherein he commends the substance as
likely to prove useful for some surgical purposes; and supposes it to
belong to the Fig tribe. In April, 1843, the substance was taken to
Europe by Dr. D. Almeida, who presented it to the Royal Society of Arts
of London; but it did not at first attract much attention, as the
Society simply acknowledged the receipt of the gift. Its uses would
rather appear to have been found out by the Malays, who first
manufactured some of the Gutta Percha into whips, and brought them into
the town at Singapore for sale, where they were seen by Europeans.


                           ------------------


                       SIR ISAAC NEWTON'S MAGNET.


The smallest natural Magnets generally possess the greatest proportion
of attractive power. Sir Isaac Newton wore in his ring a magnet which
weighed only three grains; yet it was able to take up 746 grains, or
nearly 250 times its own weight--whereas magnets weighing above two
pounds seldom lift more than five or six times their own weight.


                           ------------------


                         COAL GAS in BALLOONS.


Mr. Green has the merit of being the first person who made experiments
on the buoyant properties of Coal Gas. In some of his preliminary
trials, he ascertained that the ascensive force of a small balloon,
three feet in diameter, was equal to eleven ounces; but, when filled in
the old way, with hydrogen gas, not more than fifteen ounces.


                           ------------------


                          CUVIER AND NAPOLEON.


After Cuvier had presented to Buonaparte, in a Council of State, his
Report of the Progress of the Mathematical and Natural Sciences since
the year 1789, the Emperor expressed, in a very happy manner, the
satisfaction which he had received from the document. "He has praised
me," said Napoleon, "as I like to be praised." Cuvier, however, as he
himself said, had only invited the Emperor to imitate Alexander, and to
employ his power in promoting the advancement of the natural sciences.


                           ------------------


                       LAST MOMENTS OF LEIBNITZ.


The passing of the mighty spirit of Leibnitz from this scene of
existence was a deeply impressive scene. He had suffered from occasional
illness during several preceding years. These attacks, however, passed
away, and the philosopher resumed his speculations with renewed energy.
In November, 1716, his complaint returned with great violence.

"The closing scene suggests gloomy reflections, as the lurid glare,
which, during his extraordinary life, had attracted the eyes of the
world, disappears; while we have not the record we could desire,
indicating that the moral sensibilities of the Philosopher were rightly
alive to the decisive nature of the awful change. His seventy years are
ended, and the lightning seems lost among dark clouds. During the last
day of his life, we are told, he was buried in conversation with his
physician on the nature of his disease, and on the doctrines of alchymy.
Towards evening, his servant asked him if he would receive the
Eucharist. 'Let me alone,' said he, 'I have done ill to no one. I have
nothing to confess. All must die.' He raised himself on his bed, and
tried to write. The darkness of death was gathering around him. He found
himself unable to read what he had written. He tore the paper, and,
lying down, covered his face, and a few minutes after 9 o'clock, on the
evening of the 14th of November, 1716, he ceased to breathe! It is most
solemn to contemplate a human spirit, whose course of thought throughout
life was unsurpassed for power of speculation, and daring range of mind
among the higher objects of knowledge, and which, at the period of its
departure, was in the depths of a controversy about the mysteries of a
supersensible world--thus summoned into that world, to become conversant
in its final relations with that Being who had entrusted it with such
mental power, and whose nature and attributes had so often tasked its
speculative energies."--_North British Review._


                           ------------------


                        FRANKLIN'S DISCOVERIES.


Of all this great man's scientific excellencies, the most remarkable is
the smallness, the simplicity, the apparent inadequacy of the means
which he employed in his experimental researches. His discoveries were
all made with hardly any apparatus at all; and if, at any time, he had
been led to employ instruments of a somewhat less ordinary description,
he never rested satisfied until he had, as it were, afterwards
translated the process, resolving the problem with such simple
machinery, that you might say he had done it wholly unaided by
apparatus. The experiments by which the identity of lightning and
electricity was demonstrated, were made with a sheet of brown paper, a
bit of twine or silk thread, and an iron key!--_Lord Brougham._


                           ------------------


                         CARNÔT, WHEN A CHILD.


The aptitude and taste for military affairs of Carnôt, destined
afterwards to perform so important a part in the history of Europe,
displayed itself in a singular manner while he was yet a child. Being
taken for the first time to a theatre, where some siege or other warlike
operation was represented, he astonished the audience by interrupting
the piece to complain of the manner in which the general had disposed
his men and his guns, crying out to him that his men were in fire, and
loudly calling upon him to change his position. In fact, the men were so
placed as to be commanded by a battery.


                           ------------------


                        SMEATON'S INDEPENDENCE.


Smeaton, the engineer, often evinced a high feeling of independence in
respect to pecuniary matters, and would never allow motives of emolument
to interfere with plans laid on other considerations. The Empress
Catherine of Russia was exceedingly anxious to have his services in the
formation of great engineering works in her dominions, and she
commissioned the Princess Dackshaw to offer him his own terms, if he
would accede to her proposal. But his plans and his heart were bent upon
the exercise of his skill in his own country, and he steadily refused
all the offers made to him. It is reported that when the Princess found
her attempts unavailing, she said to him, "Sir, you are a great man, and
I honour you. You may have an equal in abilities, perhaps, but in
character you stand single. The English minister, Sir Robert Walpole,
was mistaken; and my sovereign, to her loss, finds one who has not his
price."

After Smeaton had retired from his profession, he was often pressed to
superintend certain works; when these entreaties were backed by personal
offers of emolument, he used to send for an old woman who took care of
his chambers in Gray's Inn, and say, "Her attendance suffices for all my
wants!" a reply which conveyed the intimation that a man whose personal
wants were so simple, was not likely to break through a pre-arranged
line of conduct for mere pecuniary considerations.

Smeaton's _magnum opus_ is the Eddystone lighthouse, which has withstood
the storms of more than a century. One of its severest perils was in a
terrific hurricane in November, 1824, when the men in the lighthouse
appear to have been in a most critical situation; alive to their danger,
and conscious of being beyond the hope of human aid. The report made by
one of the light-keepers states, that on the morning of the 23rd, "the
sea was tremendous, and broke with such violence on the top and round
the building, as to demolish in an instant five panes of the lantern
glass, and sixteen cylinder glasses, the former of unusual thickness.
The house shook with so much violence as to occasion considerable motion
of the cylinder glasses fixed in the lamps; and at times the whole
building appeared to sway as if resting on an elastic body. The water
came from the top of the edifice in such quantities that we were
overwhelmed, and the sea made a breach from the top of the house to the
bottom."


                           ------------------


                          CHILDHOOD OF CUVIER.


Cuvier, like Sir Isaac Newton, was born with such a feeble and sickly
constitution, that he was scarcely expected to reach the years of
manhood. His affectionate mother watched over his varying health,
instilled into his mind the first lessons of religion, and had taught
him to read fluently before he had completed his fourth year. She made
him repeat to her his Latin lessons, though ignorant herself of the
language; she conducted him every morning to school; made him practise
drawing under her own superintendence, and supplied him with the best
works on history and literature. His father had destined him for the
army. In the library of the Gymnasium, where he stood at the head of the
classes of history, geography, and mathematics, he lighted upon a copy
of Gesner's History of Animals and Serpents, with coloured plates; and,
about the same time, he had discovered a complete copy of Buffon among
the books of one of his relatives. His taste for Natural History now
became a passion. He copied the figures which these works contained, and
coloured them in conformity with the descriptions; whilst he did not
overlook the intellectual beauties of his author.

In the fourteenth year of his age he was appointed president of a
society of his schoolfellows, which he was the means of organising, and
of which he drew up the rules; and seated on the foot of his bed, which
was the president's chair, he first showed his oratorical powers in the
discussion of various questions, suggested by the reading of books of
natural history and travels, which was the principal object of the
society.

When at the age of nineteen, the casual dissection of a colmar, a
species of cuttle-fish, induced Cuvier to study the anatomy of the
mollusca; and the examination of some fossil terebratulæ, which had been
dug up near Fécamp, in June, 1791, suggested to him the idea of
comparing fossil with living animals; and thus, as he himself said, "the
germ of his two most important labours--the comparison of fossil with
living species, and the reform of the classification of the animal
kingdom--had their origin at this epoch."


                           ------------------


                  WATT'S DISCOVERY OF THE COMPOSITION
                               OF WATER.


A controversy a good many years ago agitated the philosophical world, as
to the discovery of the Composition of Water--whether the merit was due
to Watt or Cavendish. One of Watt's letters, dated May 15th, 1784, seems
to compress the matter into a nutshell. Writing to his friend, Mr. Fry
of Bristol, Mr. Watt says, that "he has had the honour of having had his
ideas pirated;" that Dr. Blagden explained his theory to Lavoisier, at
Paris; that M. Lavoisier soon after invented it himself; and that "since
that, Mr. Cavendish has read a paper to the Royal Society on the same
idea, without making the least mention of me." "The one," he continues,
"is a French financier, and the other a member of the illustrious house
of Cavendish, worth above 100,000_l._ (1,000,000_l._) and does not spend
1000_l._ a year. Rich men may do mean actions; may you and I always
persevere in our integrity, and despise such doings."

Another important point is, that Watt and Cavendish's papers on the
discovery were printed under the sole superintendence of Dr. Blagden,
secretary to the Royal Society; that Mr. Watt's paper is printed with
the _erroneous date of 1784, in place of 1783_, and that the separate
copies of Mr. Cavendish's papers have the _erroneous date of 1783, in
place of 1784_. The obvious effect of these two errors was to give
Cavendish the priority over Watt; whereas, by written testimony, Watt's
theory is proved to have been known to Priestley in 1782.

It is Dr. Blagden's conduct in the matter that has disturbed the current
of scientific history. "It is his testimony," says an able writer in the
_North British Review_, "not appealed to by Cavendish, but gratuitously
offered by himself, that contains the allegation that Cavendish
mentioned to him and others his conclusions. It is his testimony,
gratuitously sent to Crell, that deprives the French chemists,
Lavoisier, Laplace, and Monge, of their due share of honour; and it was
by his acts that erroneous dates and claims were propagated throughout
Europe. Let us impanel, then, a British jury--not of chemists, for their
verdict is given--not of the improvers or manufacturers of
steam-engines, for they might be partial--but of the highest
functionaries of the law, the members of the peerage--let us lay before
them these facts, and then tell them that Blagden received an annuity of
500_l._ from Cavendish; that, at his death, he left him a legacy of
15,000_l._; and we will answer for it, that the testimony of Blagden
will be rejected, and the priority of Watt affirmed."


                           ------------------


                   HOW PASCAL WEIGHED THE ATMOSPHERE.


Pascal's Treatise on the weight of the whole mass of air forms the basis
of the modern science of Pneumatics. In order to prove that the mass of
air presses by its weight on all the bodies which it surrounds, and also
that it is elastic and compressible, he carried a balloon, half filled
with air, to the top of the Puy de Dome, a mountain about 500 toises
above Clermont, in Auvergne. It gradually inflated itself as it
ascended, and when it reached the summit, it was quite full, and swollen
as if fresh air had been blown into it; or, what is the same thing, it
swelled in proportion as the weight of the column of air which pressed
upon it was diminished. When again brought down, it became more and more
flaccid, and when it reached the bottom, it resumed its original
condition. In the nine chapters of which the Treatise consists, Pascal
shows that all the phenomena and effects hitherto ascribed to the horror
of a vacuum arise from the weight of the mass of air; and after
explaining the variable pressure of the atmosphere in different
localities, and in its different states, and the rise of water in
pumps, he calculates that the whole mass of air round our globe weighs
8,983,889,440,000,000,000 French pounds.


                           ------------------


                     THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA.[2]


Sir John Leslie used to attribute the stability of this tower to the
cohesion of the mortar it is built with being sufficient to maintain it
erect, in spite of its being out of the condition required by
physics--to wit, that "in order that a column shall stand, a
perpendicular let fall from the centre of gravity must fall within the
base." Sir John describes the column of Pisa to be in violation of this
principle; but, according to designs shown to Dr. Cumming, at Pisa, in
1836, the perpendicular does fall within the base.

-----

Footnote 2:

  When at Pisa, many years since, Captain Basil Hall investigated the
  origin and divergence of the tower from the perpendicular, and
  established completely to his own satisfaction that it had been built
  from top to bottom, originally, just as it now stands. His reasons for
  thinking so are, that the line of the tower, on that side towards
  which it leans, has not the same curvature as the line on the
  opposite, or what may be called the upper side. If the tower had been
  built upright, and then been made to incline over, the line of the
  wall on that side towards which the inclination was given, would be
  more or less concave in that direction, owing to the nodding or
  "swagging over" of the top, by the simple action of gravity acting on
  a very tall mass of masonry, which is more or less elastic when placed
  in a sloping position. But the contrary is the fact; for the line of
  wall on the side towards which the tower leans, is decidedly more
  convex than the opposite side. Captain Hall has, therefore, no doubt
  whatever that the architect, in rearing his successive courses of
  stones, gained or stole a little at each layer, so as to render his
  work less and less overhanging as he went up; and thus, without
  betraying what he was about, really gained stability.


                           ------------------


                       HOLDING A "CRAWS' COURT."


Dr. Edmonston in his interesting "_View of the Zetland Islands_,"
relates that the hooded Crow sometimes engages in merry meetings, but,
savage-like, concludes by a sanguinary sacrifice. The crows generally
appear in pairs, even during winter, except when attracted to a spot in
search of food, or when they assemble for the purpose of holding what is
called a _Craws' Court_. This latter institution exhibits a curious fact
in their history. Numbers are seen to assemble on a particular hill or
field, from many different parts. On some occasions, the meeting does
not appear complete before the expiration of a day or two. As soon as
all the deputies have arrived, a very general noise and croaking ensue;
and shortly after, the whole fall upon one or two individuals, whom they
persecute and beat until they kill them. When this has been
accomplished, they quietly disperse.


                           ------------------


                             ALPINE PERILS.


Strange incidents befel Professor Forbes, and his companions, in their
travels through the Alps of Savoy. On one occasion, they got so near a
thundercloud, as to be highly electrified by induction, with all the
angular stones round them hissing like points near a powerful electrical
machine; on another, whilst crossing one of the loftiest passes, the Col
de Collon, they discovered a dark object lying on the snow, which proved
to be the body of a man, with the clothes hard-frozen and uninjured.
"The effect on us all," says the Professor, "was electric; and had not
the sun shone forth in its full glory, and the very wilderness of
eternal snow seemed gladdened under the serenity of such a summer's day,
as is rare at these heights, we should certainly have felt a deeper
thrill, arising from the sense of personal danger. As it was, when we
had recovered our first surprise, and interchanged our expression of
sympathy for the poor traveller, and gazed with awe on the disfigured
relics of one who had so lately been in the same plight with ourselves,
we turned and surveyed, with a stronger sense of sublimity than before,
the desolation by which we were surrounded; and became still more
sensible of our isolation from human dwellings, human help, and human
sympathy, our loneliness with nature, and as it were, the more immediate
presence of God."


                           ------------------


                       PHILOSOPHICAL ENTHUSIASM.


"Never shall I forget," says Agassiz, "the impression which the sight of
the _Pterichthys_, provided with appendages resembling wings, produced
upon me, when I assured myself that it belonged to the class of fishes.
It was an entirely new type, which was about to figure, for the first
time since it had ceased to exist, in the series of beings--again to
form a link which nothing of all that had been revealed up to the time
with regard to extinct creations, would have led us ever to suspect the
existence of--showing forcibly that observation alone can lead us to the
recognition of the laws of development of organized beings; and how much
we should guard against all those systems of transformation of species,
which the imagination invents with as much facility as reason refutes
them."


                           ------------------


            "SHEPHERD TO THE KING OF ENGLAND FOR SCOTLAND."


Lalande, the celebrated astronomer, committed a ludicrous mistake in
styling James Ferguson, _Berger du Roi d'Angleterre en Ecosse_, the King
of England's Shepherd for Scotland. The matter has, however, been thus
explained:--Daubenton, as a naturalist, had the charge of the royal
flocks of sheep in France. In order to retain his situation under the
republic, he required a _certificate of civism_ from the Section of the
Sans Culottes. In this curious document, he is called _the Shepherd
Daubenton_. Lalande, whose great work on astronomy was published at this
period, had seen James Ferguson (the astronomer) designated _the
Shepherd_, probably to distinguish him from Adam Ferguson the
Philosopher, and hence he placed _Ferguson the Shepherd_ in the same
category with _the Shepherd Daubenton_, and made him "Shepherd to the
King of England for Scotland!"


                           ------------------


                       TRAVELS OF VOLCANIC DUST.


On the 2nd of September, 1845, a quantity of volcanic dust fell in the
Orkney Islands, which was supposed to have originated in an eruption of
Hecla in Iceland. It was subsequently ascertained that an eruption of
Hecla took place on the morning of the above-named day, so as to leave
no doubt of the justness of the conclusion. The dust had thus travelled
about 600 miles!


                           ------------------


                  EARLY LIFE OF ALEXANDER BRONGNIART.


This celebrated chemist and mineralogist, upwards of forty years
director of the porcelain manufactory of Sèvres, was born at Paris in
1770. His father was justly celebrated for his attainments in the fine
arts. His mind developed itself in the midst of that brilliant society
belonging to the end of the eighteenth century, which his father was
accustomed to draw around him. He there derived, from conversations with
Franklin, the germ of that mild and practical philosophy which he never
abandoned; and from those of Lavoisier his earliest notions of
chemistry, which formed one of the foundations of his scientific career.
He gave early indications of that clearness of elocution which formed
one of his merits as a professor; and it is related that Lavoisier
himself took pleasure in listening to a lecture on chemistry delivered
by Brongniart even when he was scarcely fifteen years of age. He studied
in the Ecole de Medécine, where he was thrice enrolled; and when every
Frenchman was called to the frontier, he was connected to the army of
the Pyrenees in the capacity of an apothecary. A stay of fifteen months
among these mountains gave him the opportunity of studying a rich and
varied field of nature, as a zoologist and botanist. He likewise made
geological observations, which, at a later period, took their place in
the science, and which he often took pleasure in recalling; but there he
encountered dangers which his youth did not suspect, and he was
imprisoned under suspicion of having favoured the escape of the skilful
naturalist, Broussonnet, who avoided certain death by fleeing by the
breach of Rolland. Restored to liberty after the 9th Thermidor,
Brongniart returned to Paris, and, in 1800, was nominated director of
the porcelain manufactory of Sèvres, on the recommendation of
Berthollet. At nineteen years of age, Brongniart was one of the founders
of the Societé Philomatique, which, at the period of proscription for
all of a higher class, kept alive the sacred fame of science. He died in
1847, and at his funeral, on October 9th, M. Elie de Beaumont delivered
an _éloge_, whence these details have been derived.


                           ------------------


                      SMEATON'S REPROOF OF GAMING.


Smeaton, the engineer, was on intimate terms of acquaintance with the
Duke and Duchess of Queensbury, and often spent a leisure hour in the
evening at their house. On a few occasions, he played at cards with
them, and on one such evening, he effected the abolition of that
inconsiderate, indiscriminate play amongst people of superior rank or
fortune, which compels every one to join, and at their own stake too.
Smeaton detested cards, and his attention never following the game he
played like a boy. The game was Pope Joan; and the general run of it was
high; and the stake in Pope had accumulated to a serious sum. It was
Smeaton's turn by the deal to _double_ it; when, regardless of his
cards, he busily made minutes on a slip of paper, and put it on the
board. The Duchess eagerly inquired what it was; and he as coolly
replied, "Your grace will recollect the field in which my house stands
may be about five acres, three roods, and seven perches; which, at
thirty years' purchase, will be just my stake; and if your grace will
make a duke of me, I presume the winner will not dislike my mortgage."
The joke and the lesson had alike their weight; and the party never
after played but for the merest trifle.


                           ------------------


                        INVENTION OF GUN-COTTON.


Cotton, having largely contributed to our national prosperity in times
of peace, promised, not long since, to play a very important part in the
strategies of war; and this by its use in place of gunpowder; wherefore
the new substance was termed "Gun-cotton."

The merit of the invention is believed to be due to Professor Schonbein,
of Basle. In 1840, the novelty was first announced as an explosive
compound, possessing many apparent advantages over gunpowder. It was
described as a cotton prepared by a secret process; which, on the
application of a spark, became at once converted into a gaseous state.
In an experiment performed in the laboratory of Professor Schonbein, a
certain weight of gunpowder, when fired, filled the apartment with
smoke; whilst an equal weight of gun-cotton exploded without producing
any smoke, leaving only a few atoms of carbonaceous matter behind.
Cannon-balls and shells were then experimentally projected by this
prepared cotton, with nearly double the projectile force of gunpowder.

Professor Schonbein made an interesting experiment upon the wall of an
old castle: it had been calculated that from three to four pounds of
gunpowder would be requisite to destroy this wall, and a hole capable of
containing that quantity was prepared. In this aperture were put four
ounces of the prepared cotton, which, when fired, blew the massive wall
to pieces.

Again, the sixteenth part of an ounce of the prepared cotton, placed in
a gun, carried a ball with such force, that it perforated two planks at
the distance of twenty-eight paces; and, at another time, with the same
charge, drove a bullet into a wall, to the depth of three inches and
three-quarters.

Professor Schonbein attended the meeting of the British Association for
the Advancement of Science, held at Southampton, in 1846, when the
operation of this new power was explained and experimented with.
Subsequently, the professor attended at Osborne House, to exhibit the
properties of his gun-cotton to Prince Albert, when Schonbein offered to
explode a portion on the hand of Colonel B----: who would, however, have
nothing to do with the novel power. Prince Albert himself submitted to
the test, and off went the cotton, without smoke, stain, or burning of
the skin. Thus encouraged, the colonel took his turn; but whether the
material was changed or not for the coarser preparation, it gave him
such a singeing that he leaped up with a cry of pain. A hearty laugh was
all the commiseration he received. After this, Professor Schonbein
loaded a fowling-piece with cotton in the place of powder, and the
prince fired both ball and shot from it with the usual effect, and
perfect impunity.


                           ------------------


                     SIR JOSEPH BANKS'S "BALANCE."


At the death of Sir Joseph Banks, there was left at the apartments of
the Royal Society, at Somerset House, a very delicate balance,
constructed by Ramsden, the property of Sir Joseph. The secretaries
accordingly wrote to his widow, requesting to know her wishes respecting
the instrument. "Pay it into Coutts's," was her ladyship's reply.


                           ------------------


                        BUCKINGHAM PALACE GATES.


The central gates of the marble arch, facing Buckingham Palace, were put
up in the summer of 1837: they were designed and cast by Samuel Parker,
then of Argyll-place--they are the largest and most superb in Europe,
not excepting the gates of the Ducal Palace at Venice, or of the Louvre
at Paris. Their material is a beautiful alloy, the base of which is
refined copper. Although cast, their enriched foliage and scroll-work
bear the elaborate finish of the finest chasing: the height of each gate
is twenty-five feet; width, seventeen feet, six inches; extreme
thickness, three inches; weight of each, two tons, thirteen cwt.; yet,
they are so beautifully hung, that a child might open and shut them.
They now terminate at the springing of the arch; but Mr. Parker had cast
for the heading a chaste frieze, and a design of the royal arms in the
central circle, flanked by state crowns: this portion was, however,
irretrievably mutilated by the Government removing the gates from the
foundry in a common stage-waggon, without due care to prevent their
breakage; yet the work cost, altogether, 3000 guineas!


                           ------------------


                         EARTHQUAKES IN CHILE.


Mr. Darwin, in his very interesting _Journal of a Voyage round the
World_, relates that he was one day dining with a gentleman at Coquimbo,
when a sharp earthquake happened. He heard the forthcoming rumble, but
from the screams of the ladies, the running of servants, and the rush of
several of the gentlemen to the doorway, he could not distinguish the
motion. Some of the women afterwards were crying with terror, and one
gentleman said he should not be able to sleep all night, or if he did,
it would only be to dream of falling houses. The father of this person
had lately lost all his property at Talcahuano, and he himself had only
just escaped a falling roof at Valparaiso, in 1822. He mentioned a
curious coincidence which then happened: he was playing at cards, when a
German, one of the party, got up, and said he would never sit in a room
in these countries with the door shut, as, owing to his having done so,
he had nearly lost his life at Copiapo. Accordingly, he opened the door;
and no sooner had he done this, than he cried out, "Here it comes
again!" and the famous shock commenced. The whole party escaped. The
danger in an earthquake is not from the time lost in opening a door, but
from the chance of its becoming jammed by the movement of the walls.


                           ------------------


                           CUVIER IN LONDON.


When Cuvier visited England, in 1818, in conversing with the Prince
Regent on the subject of our Natural History Collections, he suggested
the union of all the private collections in one great national museum,
which, from the extent of our colonial possessions, he conceived would
surpass every other collection in Europe.

During the great naturalist's stay in London, he was gratified with the
sight of a Westminster election, in which he saw the practical working
of one of our most important political institutions. "At this period,"
says his biographer, Mrs. Lee, "the election for Westminster was going
forward, and he frequently dwelt upon the amusement he had received from
being on the hustings every day. These orgies of liberty were then
unknown in France; and it was a curious spectacle for a man who
reflected so deeply on everything which passed before him, to see and
hear our orators crying out at the top of their voices to the mob, who
pelted them with mud, cabbages, eggs, &c. &c.; and Sir Murray Maxwell,
in his splendid uniform, and decorated with orders, flattering the crowd
who resisted him, and sent at his head all the varieties of the
vegetable kingdom. Nothing ever effaced this impression from Cuvier's
memory, who frequently described the scene with great animation."


                           ------------------


                 THE FIRST CUP OF TEA DRUNK IN ENGLAND.


In all probability, the first cup of Tea made in England was drunk upon
the site of Buckingham Palace, St. James's Park; for the Earl of
Arlington took the first pound of tea to England, having bought it in
Holland for sixty shillings; and at this time the Earl resided at
Arlington House, which was taken down to make room for Buckingham House,
since altered to the Queen's Palace.


                           ------------------


                    BENEFIT OF A WIFE TO AN AUTHOR.


The wife of Nathaniel Bowditch was a woman of singular sweetness of
disposition and cheerful piety, who, by her entire sympathy with her
husband in all his studies and pursuits, lightened and cheered his
labours; and by relieving him from all domestic cares, enabled him to go
on with undivided mind and undistracted attention, in the execution of
his great work--the translation of Laplace's _Mécanique Celeste_, on
which his fame as a man of science rests. He had been heard to say that
he never should have accomplished the task, and published the book in
its present extended form, had he not been stimulated and encouraged by
her. When the serious question was under consideration as to the
expediency of Bowditch's publishing it at his own expense, at the
estimated cost of 10,000 dollars, (which it actually exceeded,) with the
noble spirit of her sex, his wife conjured and urged him to go on and do
it, saying that she would find the means, and gladly make any sacrifice,
and submit to any self-denial that might be involved in it. In grateful
acknowledgment of her sympathy and aid, he proposed, in the concluding
volume, to dedicate the work to her memory, (she died in 1834)--a design
than which nothing could be more beautiful or touching.[3]

In the course of his labour, Dr. Bowditch used to say, "I never come
across one of Laplace's _Thus it plainly appears_, without feeling sure
that I have got hours of hard study before me to fill up the chasm, and
find out and show _how_ it plainly appears."

-----

Footnote 3:

  It is highly honourable to the sex, that the only exposition of
  Laplace's work that has (1848) appeared in England, is from the pen of
  a female--the accomplished Mary Somerville, wife of Dr. Somerville, of
  Chelsea Hospital. This was published under the title of the _Mechanism
  of the Heavens_, of which, it is observed, in the _Edinburgh Review_,
  "this, unquestionably, is one of the most remarkable works that female
  intellect ever produced in any age or country; and with respect to the
  present day, we hazard little in saying that Mrs. Somerville is the
  only individual of her sex in the world who could have written it."
  For this signal service to science, there was conferred upon the lady
  a pension of 300_l._ per annum, at the recommendation of Sir Robert
  Peel.


                           ------------------


                     THE WORLD IN A DROP OF WATER.


The microscope has shown that a drop of water though it may appear to
the naked eye to be perfectly clear, is swarming with living beings.
According to Ehrenberg, a cubic inch of water may contain more than
800,000 millions of these beings, estimating them only to occupy one
fourth of its space; and a single drop, placed under the microscope,
will be seen to hold 500 millions; an amount, perhaps, not so very far
from equal to the whole number of human beings on the surface of our
globe!


                           ------------------


                     ORIGIN OF POST-PAID ENVELOPES.


M. Piron tells us, that the idea of a Post-paid Envelope originated,
early in the reign of Louis XIV., with M. de Velayer, who, in 1653,
established, with royal approbation, a private penny post, placing boxes
at the corners of the streets for the reception of letters, wrapped up
in envelopes, which were to be bought at offices established for that
purpose.

M. de Velayer also caused to be printed certain forms of _billets_, or
notes applicable to the ordinary business among the inhabitants of great
towns, with blanks, which were to be filled up by the pen with such
special matter as might complete the writer's object. One of these
_billets_ has been preserved to our times by a pleasant misapplication
of it. Pelisson, Mde. de Sevigné's friend, and the object of the _bon
mot_, that "he abused the privilege which men have of being ugly," was
amused at this kind of skeleton correspondence; and under the affected
name of _Pisandre_, (according to the pedantic fashion of the day,) he
filled up and addressed one of these forms to the celebrated
Mademoiselle de Scuderi, in her _pseudonyme of Sappho_. This strange
_billet-doux_ has happened, from the celebrity of the parties, to be
preserved, and is still extant: one of the oldest, we presume, of
penny-post letters, and a curious example of a pre-paying envelope--as
well as a new proof of the adage, that "there is nothing new under the
sun."


                           ------------------


                          CHARACTER IN WORKS.


Telford, the engineer, relates that he came to London in 1782, and got
employed at the quadrangle of Somerset house-buildings; he soon became
known to Sir William Chambers and Mr. R. Adam, the two most
distinguished architects of that day; the former haughty and reserved,
the latter affable and communicative; and a similar distinction of
character pervades their works, Sir William's being stiff and formal,
and those of Mr. Adam, playful and gay.


                           ------------------


                        BRINDLEY, THE ENGINEER.


Though one of the most successful engineers of his age, Brindley was so
illiterate as to be scarcely able to read or to write. By his unrivalled
powers of abstraction and memory, he often executed his plans without
committing them to paper; and when he was engaged in any difficult or
complex undertaking, he was in the habit of retiring to bed, where he
often remained for two or three days, till he had thoroughly completed
his design. So singular, indeed, was the structure of his mind, that the
spectacle of a play in London, disturbed to such a degree the balance of
its mechanism, that he could not, for some time, resume his usual
pursuits.


                           ------------------


                          REASON FOR SILENCE.


Some one asked Fontaine, the celebrated geometrician, what he did in
society where he remained almost perfectly silent. "I study," replied
he, "the vanity of men, in order to mortify it occasionally."


                           ------------------


                      ASCENT OF THE JUNGFRAU ALP.


In 1841, Professor Forbes, along with M. Agassiz, and others, made a
successful ascent of the great Swiss mountain, the Jungfrau, whose
summit is 13,720 feet above the level of the sea.

Of six travellers and seven guides who formed the party, four of each
reached the top--viz., of the former, MM. Forbes, Agassiz, Desor, and
Duchatelies; of the latter, Jacob Leutvold (who ascended the Finster
Aarhorn,) Johan Jannon, Melchior, Baucholzer, and Andreas Aplanalp. They
left the Grimsel on the morning of the 27th of August, 1841, ascended
the whole height of the Ober-Aar Glacier, and descended the greater part
of that of Viesch. Crossing a col to the right, they slept at the chalet
of Aletsch, near the lake of that name. This was twelve hours' hard
walking, the descent of the glaciers being difficult and fatiguing. Next
day, the party started at six a.m., having been unable sooner to procure
a ladder, to cross the crevices; they then traversed the upper part of
the glacier of Aletsch in its whole extent for four hours and a half,
until the ascent of the Jungfrau began.

The party crossed with great caution extensive and steep fields of fresh
snow, concealing crevices, till they came to one which opened
vertically, and behind which rose an excessively steep wall of hardened
snow. Having crossed the crevices with the ladder, they ascended the
snow without much danger, owing to its consistency. After some similar
walking they gained the col, which separates the Aletsch Glacier from
the Rothal, on the side of Lauterbrunnen, by which the ascent has
usually been attempted. Thus, the travellers, although now at a height
of between 12,000 and 13,000 feet, had by far the hardest and most
perilous part of the ascent to accomplish. The whole upper part of the
mountain presented a steep, inclined surface of what at first seemed
snow, but which soon appeared to be hard ice. This slope was not less
than 800 or 900 feet in perpendicular height, and its surface (which
Professor Forbes measured several times with a clinometer,) in many
places rose at 45 degrees, and in few much less; and all Alpine
travellers know well what an inclined surface of 45 degrees is to walk
up. Of course, every step taken was cut with the hatchet, whilst the
slope terminated below, on both sides in precipices some thousand feet
high. After very severe exertion, they reached the top of this great
mountain, at four p.m. The summit was so small that but one person could
stand upon it at once, and that not until the snow had been flattened.
The party returned as they came up, step by step, and backwards, and
arrived at the chalets of Aletsch, and by beautiful moonlight, at
half-past eleven at night.


                           ------------------


                     THE STEAM-GUN IN THE FIFTEENTH
                                CENTURY.


In 1841, M. Delectuze discovered, among the manuscripts of Leonardo da
Vinci, an entry carrying a knowledge of the steam-engine, applied to
warfare, to at least as far back as the fifteenth century. He has
published in the _Artiste_, a notice of the life of Leonardo, to which
he adds a fac-simile of a page of one of his manuscripts, containing
five pen-and-ink sketches of details of the apparatus of a Steam Gun,
with an explanatory note on what he designates the "Architonnere." The
entry is as follows:--

Invention of Archimedes. The architonnere is a machine of fine copper,
which throws balls with a loud report and great force. It is used in the
following manner:--One-third of the instrument contains a large quantity
of charcoal fire. When the water is well heated, a screw at the top of
the vessel which contains the water must be made quite tight. On closing
the screw above, all the water will escape below, will descend into the
heated portion of the instrument, and be immediately converted into a
vapour so abundant and powerful, that it is wonderful to see its force,
and hear the noise it produces. This machine will carry a ball a talent
in weight."

It is worthy of remark that Leonardo da Vinci, far from claiming the
merit of this invention for himself or the men of his time, attributes
it to Archimedes. The Steam Gun of our time has been an exhibition-room
wonder; and the prediction of the Duke of Wellington that it would fail
in warfare, has never been, and is never likely to be, tested.


                           ------------------


                     ANCIENT OBSERVATORY IN PERSIA.


When Sir John Malcolm visited Maraga, he traced distinctly the
foundations of the Observatory, constructed in the 13th century, for
Naser-ood-Deen, the favourite philosopher of the Tartar prince,
Hoolakoo, the grandson of Ghenghiz, who, in this locality relaxed from
his warlike toils, and assembled round him men of the first genius of
the age, who have commemorated his love of science, and given him more
fame as its munificent patron, than he acquired by all his conquests.

In this observatory there was, according to one of the best Mahomedan
works, a species of apparatus to represent the celestial sphere, with
the signs of the zodiac, the conjunctions, transits, and revolutions of
the heavenly bodies. Through a perforation in the dome, the rays of the
sun were admitted, so as to strike upon certain lines on the pavement in
a way to indicate, in degrees and minutes, the altitude and declination
of that luminary during every season, and to mark the time and hour of
the day throughout the year. The Observatory was further supplied with a
map of the terrestrial globe, in all its climates or zones, exhibiting
the several regions of the habitable world, as well as a general outline
of the ocean, with the numerous islands contained in its bosom; and,
according to the Mahomedan author, all these were so perspicuously
arranged and delineated, as at once to remove, by the clearest
demonstration, every doubt from the mind of the student.


                           ------------------


                           LONDON AS A PORT.


Sir John Herschel, who possesses in an eminent degree, the peculiar
talent of felicitously illustrating every subject that he approaches, in
his valuable _Treatise on Astronomy_, thus refers to the situation of
London as a Port:--"It is a fact, not a little interesting to
Englishmen, and combined with our insular station in that highway of
nations, the Atlantic, not a little explanatory of our commercial
eminence, that LONDON _occupies nearly the centre of the terrestrial
hemisphere_."


                           ------------------


                 FOURDRINIER'S PAPER-MAKING MACHINERY.


On April 25, 1839, some very interesting details of Fourdrinier's
Machinery for making Paper of endless length, were elicited during a
debate in the House of Commons, upon the presentation of a petition from
these ingenious manufacturers. It appears that 1000 yards, or any given
quantity of yards, of paper could be continuously made by it. Many years
since, the invention was patented; but, owing to a mistake in the
patent--the word "machine" being written instead of "machines"--the
property was pirated, and that led to litigations, in which the
patentees' funds were exhausted before they could establish their
rights. They then became bankrupts, and thus all the fruits of their
invention, on which they had spent 40,000_l._, were entirely lost to
them.

The evidence of Mr. Brunel, and of Mr. Lawson, the printer of _The
Times_, proved the invention of the Fourdriniers to be one of the most
splendid discoveries of the age. Mr. Lawson stated that the conductors
of the metropolitan newspapers could never have presented to the world
such an immense mass of news and advertisements as was now contained in
them, had not this invention enabled them to make use of any size
required. By the revolution of the great cylinder employed in the
process, an extraordinary degree both of rapidity and convenience in the
production is secured. One of its chief advantages is the prevention of
all risk of combination among the workmen, the machine being so easily
managed that the least skilful person can attend to it. It was added
that the invention had caused a remarkable increase in the revenue: in
the year 1800, when this machine was not in existence, the amount of the
paper duty was 195,641_l._; in 1821, when the machinery was in full
operation, the amount of duty was 579,867_l._; in 1835, it was
833,822_l._ No doubt, part of this increase must be set down to other
causes; still, it was impossible but for this discovery, that such a
quantity of paper could have been made and consumed. The positive saving
to the country effected by it, had not been less than 8,000,000_l._; the
increase in the revenue not less than 500,000_l._ a-year. At length, in
May, 1840, the sum of 7,000_l._ was voted by Parliament to Messrs.
Fourdrinier, as some compensation for their loss by the defective state
of the patent law.

There has been made by this machinery at Colinton mills, a single sheet
of paper weighing 533 lbs., and measuring upwards of a mile and a half
in length, the breadth being only 50 inches. Were a ream of paper of
similar sheets made, it would weigh 266,500lbs. or upwards of 123 tons.


                           ------------------


                          THE COCOA-NUT CRAB.


M. Darwin in his _Voyage round the World_, thus describes a Crab which
lives upon Cocoa-nuts, and which he found on Keeling Island, in the
South Seas: "It is very common on all parts of the dry land, and grows
to a monstrous size; it has a front pair of legs, terminated by very
strong and heavy pincers, and the least pair by others which are narrow
and weak. It would at first be thought quite impossible for a crab to
open a strong cocoa-nut covered with the husk; but M. Liesk assures me
he has repeatedly seen the operation effected. The crab begins by
tearing the husk, fibre by fibre, and always from that end under which
the three eye-holes are situated; when this is completed, the crab
commences hammering with its heavy claws on one of these eye-holes till
an opening is made. Then, turning round its body, by the aid of its
posterior and narrow pair of pincers, it extracts the white albuminous
substance. I think this is as curious a case of instinct as ever I heard
of, and likewise of adaptation in structure between two objects
apparently so remote from each other in the scheme of nature, as a crab
and a cocoa-nut."


                           ------------------


                      DESCARTES' WOODEN DAUGHTER.


When Descartes resided in Holland, he made with great labour and
industry a female automaton, which gave some wicked wits occasion to
report that he had an illegitimate daughter, named Franchine. The object
of Descartes was, to demonstrate that beasts have no souls, and are but
machines nicely composed, that move whenever another body strikes them
and communicates to them a portion of its motions. Having carried this
singular machine on board of a Dutch vessel, the captain, who sometimes
heard it move, had the curiosity to open the box. Astonished to see a
little human form uncommonly animated, yet when touched appearing to be
nothing but wood--and being little versed in science, but very
superstitious--he took the ingenious labour of the philosopher for a
little devil, and terminated the experiment of Descartes, by throwing
his "wooden daughter" into the sea.


                           ------------------


                        ASTRONOMICAL SHOEMAKER.


When Halley's comet was expected in 1835, a shoemaker of Leicester,
named Joseph Mills, set about tracing the path of the heavenly visitor
through the heavens. This he did by drawing its orbit upon his house
floor, from which he made a diagram that more accurately represented the
course of the comet than any that had been previously published. On
being questioned how he had calculated the disturbing forces, so as to
come so near the truth; he replied that he could not tell, further than
he had performed it by the common rules of arithmetic.


                           ------------------


                          DECLINE OF SCIENCE.


In January, 1842, a poor fellow was taken before the authorities of
Paris for begging in the streets. He had studied the _science_ of
cookery under the celebrated Carême, and was the inventor of the
delicious _Saumon truffé à la broche_. He was in the last garb of want,
and attributed his poverty to the decline of cookery from a science to a
low art! It has been observed that cooks, in nine cases out of ten,
after ministering to the luxury of the opulent, creep into holes and
corners, and pass neglected out of the world.


                           ------------------


                      VARIABLE CLIMATE OF TEBREEZ.


Tebreez is celebrated as one of the most healthy cities in Persia, and
it is on this ground alone that we can account for its being so often
rebuilt after its repeated demolition by earthquakes. It is seldom free
even for a twelvemonth from slight shocks; and it is not yet so much as
a century since it was levelled to the ground by one of those terrible
convulsions of nature.

Sir John Malcolm, when he visited this place, was more surprised at its
salubrity, from knowing the great extremes of heat and cold to which it
is subject; having obtained from a friend who had resided there during
the whole of the preceding year, a most accurate diary of the various
changes of its climate.

"From this, it appeared that on the 20th of October there was a heavy
fall of snow, which did not, however, remain long upon the ground: the
weather again became mild, and there was no excessive cold until the
middle of December, from which period, until the end of January,
Fahrenheit's thermometer, when exposed to the air at night, never rose
above zero; and in the house at mid-day it was seldom above 18°.

"January was by far the coldest month. During it, the water is described
as becoming almost instantaneously solid in the tumblers upon the
dining-table, and the ink often freezing in the ink-stand, although the
table was close to the fire. For at least a fortnight, not an egg was to
be had, all being split by the cold. Some bottles of wine froze,
although covered with straw, and many of the copper ewers were split by
the expansion of the water when frozen in them.

"According to this diary, the weather became comparatively mild towards
the end of February; but it appears that here, as in England,

              'A lingering winter chills the lap of May;'

for, on the first of that month, there was a heavy fall of snow, with
such cold that all promise of the spring was destroyed. Of the heat that
ensued, and the sudden and great changes to which Tebreez is subject, we
had abundant proof; in the month of June, the range of the thermometer
being usually, within the twenty-four hours, from 56° to 94°,--a
difference of 38°.

"The extreme heat of the summer causes most of the houses in Tebreez to
be built so as to admit the air during that season; but the architects
of Persia fall short of their brethren in Europe, in forming places by
which the cool air can be admitted in summer, and excluded in winter.
This partly accounts for the above effects of cold; but the city of
Tebreez, and many more parts of Aderbejan, and still more of the
neighbouring province of Kûrdistan, though nowhere beyond the 40th
degree of latitude, are, from their great elevation, subject to extreme
cold. In the latter country (says Sir John Malcolm) I found, on the
morning of the 17th of August, ice half an inch thick on a basin of
water standing in my tent."[4]

-----

Footnote 4:

  Sketches of Persia.


                           ------------------


                   STRYCHNINE A REMEDY FOR PARALYSIS.


Strychnine (obtained in the greatest purity from the Upas Tiente) has
been used successfully for this purpose. One of Dr. Bardesley's patients
in Lincolnshire, who was experiencing the return of sensation in his
paralyzed limbs, under the use of strychnine, asked if there was not
something _quick_ in the pills; _quick_ for _alive_ being still in use
in that part of England.


                           ------------------


                           RAPID MANUFACTURE.


Many years ago, the late Sir John Throckmorton sat down to dinner,
dressed in a coat which, the same morning, had been wool on the back of
the sheep. The animals were sheared; the wool washed, carded, spun, and
woven; the cloth was scoured, fulled, sheared, dyed, and dressed; and
then, by the tailor's aid, made into a coat, between sunrise and the
hour of seven, when a party sat down to dinner, with Sir John, as their
chairman, wearing the product of the active day!


                           ------------------


                        DISCOVERIES ANTICIPATED.


From time immemorial, the inhabitants of some distant regions have
carried on their nocturnal or underground manufactures by natural gas,
obtained through a hollow reed thrust into the earth. Arriving at modern
times, navigation by the Archimedes screw, as a propeller, through the
means of steam, attracted the notice of the Scottish Society of Arts in
1840; but, above twenty years previously, an experiment with similar
screws, adapted to a boat, on the lake Lochend, by Mr. Whytock, a member
of the Society, proved the efficiency of the invention, though on a
small scale. In Scotland, an Agricultural Society was established in
1723; a thrashing-machine appeared in 1735; and a reaping-machine in
1765.


                           ------------------


                    THE FIRST USE OF JESUIT'S BARK.


A casual circumstance, it is said, discovered that excellent febrifuge,
the Jesuit's Bark. An Indian in a delirious fever was left by his
companions, as incurable, by the side of a river, to quench his burning
thirst while dying. He naturally drank copious draughts of the water,
which, having long imbibed the virtues of the bark, that floated
abundantly on the stream, quickly dispersed the fever of the Indian. He
returned to his friends, and explained the nature of his remedy; and the
sick crowded about the margin of the holy stream (as they imagined it)
till they had quite exhausted its virtues. The sages of the tribe found
out at length, however, whence the efficacy of the stream arose. The
Indians discovered it first, in 1640, to the lady of a Viceroy of Peru,
who by its use recovered of a dangerous fever; and in 1643 it was known
at Rome.


                           ------------------


                             NICE ROBBERY.


M. Bachalier, a French florist, kept some beautiful species of the
anemone to himself, which he had procured from the East Indies; and he
succeeded in withholding them, for ten years, from all who wished to
possess them likewise. A counsellor of the parliament, however, one day
paid him a visit, while the anemones were in seed, and in walking with
him round the garden contrived to let his gown fall upon them. By this
means he swept off a good number of the seeds; and his servant, who had
been apprised of the scheme, dexterously wrapt up the gown and secured
them. Any one must have been a sour moralist who should have considered
this to be a breach of the eighth commandment.


                           ------------------


                         FEMALE MATHEMATICIAN.


In the year 1736, the French Academy of Sciences proposed, as a subject
for a prize, "the Propagation of Heat," when the Marchioness of Châtelet
entered the list of competitors. Her work was not only an elegant
account of all the properties of heat at that time known to natural
philosophers, but it was also remarkable for various proposals for
experiments; one, among others, which was afterwards followed up by
Herschel, and from which he derived one of the chief gems in his
brilliant scientific crown.


                           ------------------


                        FOURIER'S INDEPENDENCE.


It was only occasionally that the real character of Fourier, the French
philosopher, showed itself. "It is strange," said, one day, a certain
very influential person belonging to the court of Charles X., whom the
servant, Joseph, would not allow to get further than Fourier's
ante-chamber--"it is really strange that your master should be more
difficult of access than a minister." Fourier, overhearing this remark,
jumped out of bed, to which he had been confined by indisposition,
opened the room door, and facing the courtier, exclaimed, "Joseph, tell
the gentleman, that if I were a minister, I should receive everybody,
because such would be my duty: as a private individual, I receive whom I
think fit, and when I think fit." The grandee, disconcerted by the
liveliness of the sally, did not answer a word. We must even suppose
that from that instant he determined to visit nobody but ministers, for
the simple _savant_ heard no more of him.


                           ------------------


                          MECHANICAL TRIUMPHS.


The direct and almost instant benefits of Mechanical Inventions to their
originators have been thus eloquently illustrated in the _Edinburgh
Review_:--"Contributing, as they do, to our most immediate and pressing
wants--appealing to the eye by their magnitude, and often by their
grandeur, and associated, in many cases, with the warmer impulses of
humanity and personal safety--the labours of the mechanist and engineer
acquire a contemporary celebrity, which is not vouchsafed to the results
of scientific research, or to the productions of literature and the fine
arts. The gigantic steam-vessel, which expedites and facilitates the
intercourse of nations--the canal, which unites two distant seas--the
bridge and the aqueduct, which span an impassable valley--the harbour
and the break-water, which shelter our vessels of peace and of war--the
railway, which hurries us along on the wings of mechanism, and the light
beacon which throws its directing beams over the deep--address
themselves to the secular interests of every individual, and obtain for
the engineer who invented or who planned them, a high and a well-merited
popular reputation."


                           ------------------


                           THE ELGIN MARBLES.


These beautiful relics of Grecian antiquity cost the Earl of Elgin
74,000_l._, of which sum he barely received one-half from Government; so
that Lord Byron's imputation to the Earl of a mercantile spirit in the
transaction is notoriously unjust.


                           ------------------


                           RALEIGH A CHEMIST.


During his confinement in the Tower of London, Sir Walter Raleigh
devoted a considerable portion of his time to chemical and
pharmaceutical investigations; and interesting it is to see how his
unsubdued spirit enabled him to make the most of his misfortunes, to
surmount difficulties, and to turn ordinary things to extraordinary
purposes,--greatly, no doubt, to the amazement of those about him, who
marvelled much to behold the splendid courtier, and the captain of a
happier day, earnestly employing himself with chemical stills and
crucibles in a vacant hen-house! "He has converted," says Sir W. Wade,
the lieutenant of the Tower, in a letter to Cecil, "a little hen-house
in the garden into a still-house, and here he doth spend his time all
day in distillations."


                           ------------------


                   MR. BABBAGE'S CALCULATING MACHINE.


A calculating machine is a fair subject for a joke. In May, 1839, when
an additional grant was applied for in the House of Commons, in order to
complete Mr. Babbage's machine, Mr. Wakley inquired whether it was
likely to be of any use to the public? Upon this, Sir Robert Peel
felicitously replied, that "the machine should be put to calculate the
time at which it would be of any use." The calculating machine has
certainly not yet been put to any more practical purpose.


                           ------------------


                       HERSCHEL'S LOVE OF MUSIC.


Sir William Herschel was a good musician, yet such was his ardour for
astronomical discovery, that at some benefit concert which he gave, he
had his telescope fixed in a window, and made his observations between
the acts.


                           ------------------


                          POWER OF THE LEVER.


Archimedes said, "Give me a lever long enough, and a prop strong enough,
and with my own weight I will move the world." "But," says Dr. Arnott,
"he would have required to move with the velocity of a cannon-ball for
millions of years, to alter the position of the earth a small part of an
inch. This feat of Archimedes is, in mathematical truth, performed by
every man who leaps from the ground; for he kicks the world away from
him whenever he rises, and attracts it again when he falls."


                           ------------------


                   AN ELECTRIFYING MACHINE IN PERSIA.


When Sir James Malcolm was in Persia, on his first expedition, an
electrifying machine which he took with him was one of the chief means
of astonishing his Persian friends; and with its effects he surprised
and alarmed all, from majesty itself to the lowest peasant.

At Isfahan, all were delighted with the electric machine, except one
renowned doctor and lecturer of the college, who, envious of the
popularity gained by this display of superior science, contended
publicly that the effects produced were moral, not physical; that it was
the mummery the Europeans practised, and the state of the nervous
agitation they excited, which produced an ideal shock; but he expressed
his conviction that a man of true firmness of mind would stand unmoved
by all that could be produced out of the _glass bottle_, as he
scoffingly termed the machine. He was invited to the next experiment,
the day arrived, and he came accordingly.

This doctor was called "Red-stockings," from his usually wearing scarlet
hose. He was, notwithstanding his learning and reputed science, often
made an object of mirth in the circles of the great and wealthy at
Isfahan, to whom he furnished constant amusement, from the pertinacity
with which he maintained his dogmas.

Hence, "Red-stockings," with all his philosophy, was not overwise.
Nevertheless, he maintained his ground in the first society, by means
common in Persia, as in other countries: he was, in fact, a little of
the fool,[5] and not too much of the honest. This impression of his
character, combined with his presumption, made Sir John Malcolm and his
party less scrupulous in their preparations to render him an example for
all who might hereafter doubt the effects of their boasted electricity;
indeed, their Persian visitors seemed anxious that the effect should be
such as to satisfy the man that had dared them to the trial--that it was
physical, not moral.

The philosopher, notwithstanding various warnings, came boldly up, and
took hold of the chain with both hands, planted his feet firmly, shut
his teeth, and evidently called forth all his resolution to resist the
shock. It was given; and poor "Red-stockings" dropped on the floor, as
if he had been shot. There was a momentary alarm; but, on his almost
instant recovery, and it being explained that the effect had been
increased by the determination to resist it, all gave way to one burst
of laughter. The good-natured philosopher took no offence. He muttered
something about the reaction of the feelings after being overstrained,
but admitted there was more in the glass bottle than he had anticipated.

-----

Footnote 5:

  "_Poco di matto_" is deemed by the Italians an essential quality in a
  great man's companion.


                           ------------------


                     HOW TO MEASURE THE SHOCK OF AN
                              EARTHQUAKE.


Dr. Buckland relates that in certain places liable to earthquakes, their
extent has been measured by _bowls of treacle_, the inclination of the
treacle in the bowl showing the quantum of shock; and elsewhere (by a
watchmaker) in Scotland, by placing a clock against each of the four
walls of an apartment, and marking the centre of the disk of the
pendulum with chalk: when the shock took place, the derangement caused
the pendulum to strike against the back and front of the clock-case,
when, of course, a mark would be left indicative of the phenomenon,
though not of its amount.


                           ------------------


                          THE DRUMMOND LIGHT.


The importance of simplicity in inventions for popular use, has been
shown in the late Lieutenant Drummond's apparatus for illuminating
lighthouses with his oxyhydrogen light; that is, a stream of oxygen and
another of hydrogen, directed upon a ball of lime. Experimentally, the
light has succeeded beyond the expectation of the inventor; but the
machinery or apparatus remains to be simplified before it can be worked
by the keepers of lighthouses.


                           ------------------


                   ST. PIERRE'S "PAUL AND VIRGINIA."


Baron Humboldt, in his _Cosmos_, vol. ii., pays the following eloquent
tribute to that small production of the creative imagination to which
Bernardin de St. Pierre owes the fairest portion of his literary
fame--Paul and Virginia--a work such as scarcely any other literature
can show.

"It is," says Humboldt, "a simple, but living picture of an island in
the midst of the tropic seas, in which, sometimes smiled on by serene
and favouring skies, sometimes threatened by the violent conflict of the
elements, two young and graceful forms stand out picturesquely from the
wild luxuriance of the vegetation of the forest, as from a flowery
tapestry. Here the aspect of the sea, the grouping of the clouds, the
rustling of the breeze in the bushes of the bamboo, and the waving of
the lofty palmo, are painted with inimitable truth.

"Bernardin de St. Pierre's master-work, Paul and Virginia, accompanied
me into the zone to which it owes its origin. It was there read for many
years by my dear companion and friend, Bonpland, and myself; and there
(let this appeal to personal feelings be forgiven) under the silent
brightness of the tropical sky, or when, in the rainy season, on the
shores of the Orinoco, the thunder crashed, and the flashing lightnings
illuminated the forest, we were deeply impressed and penetrated with the
wonderful truth with which this little work paints the power of nature
in the tropical zone in all its peculiarity of character.

"A similar firm grasp of special features, without impairing the general
impression, or depriving the external materials of the free and
animating breath of poetic imagination, characterises in an even higher
degree the ingenious and tender author of "Atala," "René," "the Martyr,"
and the "Journey to Greece and Palestine." The contrasted landscapes of
the most varied portions of the earth's surface are brought together,
and made to pass before the mind's eye with wonderful distinctness of
vision: the serious grandeur of historic remembrances could alone have
given so much depth and repose to the impressions of a rapid journey."


                           ------------------


                         MYTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE.


M. Arago, in his brilliant _eloge_ on Fourier, observes:--"The ancients
had a taste, or rather a passion, for the marvellous, which made them
forget the sacred ties of gratitude. Look at them, for instance,
collecting into one single group the high deeds of a great number of
heroes, whose names they have not even deigned to preserve, and
attributing them all to Hercules. The lapse of centuries has not made us
wiser. The public in our time also delight in mingling fiction with
history. In all careers, particularly in that of the sciences, there is
a design to create Herculeses. According to the vulgar opinion, every
astronomical discovery is attributable to Herschel. The theory of the
motions of the planets is identified with the name of Laplace, and
scarcely any credit is allowed to the important labours of D'Alembert,
Clairaut, Euler, and Lagrange. Watt is the sole inventor of the
steam-engine, whilst Chaptal has enriched the chemical arts with all
those ingenious and productive processes which secure their prosperity."
To countervail this error, Arago continues: "Let us hold up to
legitimate admiration those chosen men whom nature has endowed with the
valuable faculty of grouping together isolated facts, and deducing
beautiful theories from them; but do not let us forget that the sickle
of the reaper must cut down the stalks of corn, before any one can think
of collecting them into sheaves."


                           ------------------


                    EL DORADO OF SIR WALTER RALEIGH.


The term _El Dorado_ is commonly considered to have reference to the
sovereignty teeming with precious metals, which had long been sought for
in vain by Spanish adventurers. Their expeditions in quest of it were
directed to the interior of the vast region lying between the Orinoco
and the Amazon, or Guiana. The rocks were represented as impregnated
with gold, the veins of which lay so near the surface as to make it
shine with a dazzling resplendency. The capital, Manoa, was said to
consist of houses covered with plates of gold, and to be built upon a
vast lake, named Parima, the sands of which were auriferous.

We abridge the following new version of this "romance of history," from
a brilliant paper on the life and works of Raleigh, in the _Edinburgh
Review_.

The term _El Dorado_ was not originally used to designate any particular
place; it signified generally 'the gilded,' or 'golden,' and was
variously applied. According to some, it was first used to denote a
religious ceremony of the natives, in covering the anointed body with
gold-dust. The whole of Guiana was, on account of the above usages,
sometimes designated _El Dorado_; but the locality of the fable varied.

The question, however, to be solved is, whence arose the belief that a
district so marvellously abundant with the precious metals existed in
the interior of Guiana; and the solution appears to have been left to
Humboldt. While exploring the countries upon the Upper Orinoco, he was
informed that the portion of Eastern Guiana, lying between the rivers
Essequibo and Branca is 'the classical soil of the Dorado of Parima.' In
the islets and rocks of mica, slate, and talc, which rise up within and
around a lake adjoining the Parima river, reflecting from their shining
surfaces the rays of an ardent sun, we have materials out of which to
form that gorgeous capital, the temples and houses of which were
overlaid with plates of beaten gold.

With such elements to work upon, heated fancies, aided by the imperfect
vision of distant and dubious objects, might easily create that fabulous
superstructure. We may judge of the brilliancy of these deceptive
appearances, from learning that the natives ascribed the lustre of the
Magellanic clouds, or nebula of the southern hemisphere, to the bright
reflections produced by them. There could not well be a more poetical
exaggeration of the lustrous effects produced by the metallic hues of
rocks of talc. These details, in which M. de Pons, a somewhat later
traveller, who long resided in an official capacity in the neighbouring
countries, fully concurs, in all probability point to the true origin of
this remarkable fable. The well-known failure of Raleigh did not
discourage other adventurers, who were found in quick succession; the
last always flattering themselves with the hope that the discovery of
_El Dorado_ would ultimately be realized.


                           ------------------


                AMBER, A SOURCE OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE.


The amber trade, which was probably first directed to the west Cimbrian
coasts, and only subsequently to the Baltic and the country of the
Esthonians, owes its first origin to the boldness and perseverance of
Phoenician coast navigators. In its subsequent extension, it offers a
remarkable instance of the influence which may be exerted by a
predilection for even a single foreign production, in opening an inland
trade between nations, and in making known large tracts of country. In
the same way that the Phocæan Massilians brought the British tin across
France to the Rhone, the amber was conveyed from people to people
through Germany, and by the Celts on either declivity of the Alps to the
Padus, and through Pannonia to the Borysthenes. It was this inland
traffic which first brought the coasts of the Northern ocean into
connexion with the Euxine and the Adriatic.--_Humboldt's Cosmos._


                           ------------------


                   ANTIQUITY OF LIGHTNING CONDUCTORS.


A story was formerly repeated in Germany, after Father Angelo
Cortenoria, that the tomb of the hero of Clusium, Lars Porsena,
described by Varro, ornamented with a bronze head and bronze pendent
chains, was an apparatus for atmospheric electricity, or for conducting
lightning, (as were, according to Michaelis, the metal points on
Solomon's temple); but the tale obtained currency at a time when men
were much inclined to attribute to ancient nations the remains of a
supernaturally revealed primitive knowledge, which was soon after
obscured.

The most important notice of the relation between lightning and
conducting metals (a fact not difficult of discovery) still appears to
be that of Ctesias: he possessed two iron swords, presents from the King
Artaxerxes Mnemon, and from his mother Parysatis, which, when planted in
the earth, averted clouds, hail, and strokes of lightning. He had
himself seen the operation, for the king had twice made the experiment
before his eyes. The exact attention paid by the Etruscans to the
meteorological processes of the atmosphere in all that deviated from the
ordinary course of phenomena, makes it to be lamented that nothing has
come down to us from their Fulgur red books. The epochs of the
appearance of great comets, of the fall of meteoric stones, and of
showers of falling stars, would no doubt have been found recorded in
them, as in the more ancient Chinese annals, of which Edward Biot has
made use. Creuzer has attempted to show, that the natural features of
Etruria may have influenced the peculiar turn of mind of its
inhabitants. A "calling forth" of the lightning, which is ascribed to
Prometheus, reminds us of the pretended "drawing down" of lightning by
the Fulguratores. This operation consisted in a mere conjuration, and
may well have been of no more efficacy than the skinned ass' head,
which, in the Etruscan rites, was considered a preservative from danger
in their thunder-storms.--(_See Notes to Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. ii.)


                           ------------------


                         HOW THE DEAF MAY HEAR.


About 1738, a merchant of Cleves, named Jorissen, who had become almost
totally deaf, sitting one day near a harpsichord, while some one was
playing--and having a tobacco-pipe in his mouth, the bowl of which
rested accidentally against the body of the instrument--was surprised to
hear all the notes most distinctly. By a little reflection and practice,
he again attained the use of this valuable sense; for he soon
learned--by means of a piece of hard wood, one end of which he placed
against his teeth, while another person placed the other end on _his_
teeth--to keep up a conversation, and to be able to understand the least
whisper. The effect thus described is the same, if the person who speaks
rests his stick against his throat or his breast; or when one rests the
stick which he holds in his teeth against some vessel into which the
other speaks.


                           ------------------


                        DRYING WOOD FOR VIOLINS.


Some amusing instances are related of the efficiency of "the Application
of Heated Currents to Manufacturing and other Purposes," once patented
by Davison and Symington. Thus, a violin had been in the owner's
possession for upwards of sixteen years, how old it was when he first
had it is not known. Upon being exposed to this process, it lost in
eight hours no less than five-sixths (nearly five and two-thirds) per
cent. of its weight. This there is every reason to believe was owing to
the blocks glued inside, for the purpose of holding the more slender
parts together. Instrument makers would do well to see that all parts,
however mean their position in the instrument, are properly seasoned, or
divested of moisture; for surely water cannot improve sound.

A violin-maker of high reputation, having an order to make an instrument
for one of the first violinists of the day, was requested to have the
wood seasoned by the new process; only three days were allowed for the
experiment, in which the wood was seasoned and sent home. The two
heaviest pieces were reduced in weight 2-1/2lbs., which is equal to two
pints of water.

It is ascertained that, by this means of drying, the effect of age has
been given to the instrument made from the above wood; and it became
_first fiddle_ in the orchestra of Her Majesty's Theatre. The wood had
been in the possession of its owners for eight years; and it was sent
from Switzerland, in the first instance, as dry wood.[6]

-----

Footnote 6:

  In proof of the economy of Messrs. Davison and Symington's invention
  applied to the manufacture and cleansing of brewers' casks, it is
  stated that through its adoption at Truman's brewery, Spitalfields, a
  saving of 300 tons of coals was effected annually.


                           ------------------


                      COLUMBUS'S OWN SHIP JOURNAL.


Columbus has left us some charming descriptions of his own discoveries;
though it is only recently that we have obtained the knowledge of his
own ship's journal, of his letters to the treasurer Sanchez, to Donna
Juana de la Torre, governess of the infant Don Juan, and to Queen
Isabella. Humboldt has sought to show with how deep a feeling and
perception of the forms and the beauty of nature the great discoverer
was endowed, and how he described the face of the earth, and the "new
heaven" which opened to his view, with a beauty and simplicity of
expression which can only be fully appreciated by those who are familiar
with the ancient force of the language as it existed at the period.

The aspect and the physiognomy of the vegetation, the impenetrable
thickets of the forest, "in which one can hardly distinguish which are
the flowers and leaves belonging to each stem;" the wild luxuriance
which clothed the humid shores; the rose-coloured flamingoes fishing at
the mouth of the rivers in the early morning, and giving animation to
the landscape, attract the attention of the old navigator while sailing
along the coast of Cuba, between the small Lucayan islands and the
Jardinillos. Each newly-discovered land appears to him still more
beautiful than those he had before described; he complains that he
cannot find words in which to record the sweet impressions which he has
received.

"The loveliness of this new land," says the discoverer, "far surpasses
that of the Campina de Cordoba. The trees are all bright with
ever-verdant foliage, and perpetually laden with fruits. The plants on
the ground are tall and full of blossoms. The breezes are mild like
those in April in Castille; the nightingales sing more sweetly than I
can describe. At night, other small birds sing sweetly, and I also hear
our grasshoppers and frogs. Once I came into a deeply-enclosed harbour,
and saw high mountains which no human eye had seen before, from which
lovely waters streamed down. The mountain was covered with firs, pines,
and other trees of very various form, and adorned with beautiful
flowers. Ascending the river, which poured itself into the bay, I was
astonished at the cool shade, the crystal clear water, and the number of
singing birds. It seemed as if I could never quit a spot so
delightful--as if a thousand tongues would fail to describe it, as if
the spell-bound hand would refuse to write."

We have here, from the journal of an unlettered seaman, the power which
the beauty of nature, manifested in her individual forms, may exert on a
susceptible mind. Feelings ennoble language; for the prose of the
admiral, especially when, on his fourth voyage, at the age of 67, he
relates his wonderful dream on the coast of Veragua, is, if not more
eloquent, yet far more moving, than the allegorical pastoral romance of
Boccacio and the two Arcadias of Sannazaro and Sydney; than Garcilasso's
Salicio y Nemoroso; or than the Diana of Jorge de Montemayor.


                           ------------------


                EARLY INCITEMENTS TO A SCIENTIFIC STUDY
                               OF NATURE.


Baron Humboldt, in the opening of his _Cosmos_, vol. ii., recalls the
lessons of experience, which tell us how often impressions received by
the senses from circumstances, seemingly accidental, have so acted on
the youthful mind as to determine the whole direction of the man's
course through life. Childish pleasure, in the form of countries and of
seas, as delineated in maps; the desire to behold those southern
constellations which have never risen in our horizon; the sight of palms
and of the cedars of Lebanon, figured in a pictorial Bible, may have
implanted in the spirit the first impulse to travel in distant lands.

"If I might (says Humboldt) have recourse to my own experience, and say
what awakened in me the first beginnings of an inextinguishable longing
to visit the tropics, I should name George Forster's descriptions of the
islands of the Pacific--paintings, by Hodge, in the house of Warren
Hastings, in London, representing the banks of the Ganges--and a
colossal dragon-tree in an old tower of the Botanic Gardens at Berlin."


                           ------------------


                        THE RIGHTS OF WHITEBAIT.


Formerly, whitebait were considered to be the young of the shad; and
only of late years has the misnamed fish taken its proper position. It
appears that Mr. Yarrell, the able naturalist, was one morning in March
struck with the early appearance of whitebait in a fishmonger's shop in
St. James's; and knowing that shads, which they were supposed to be, did
not make their appearance till much later (May), he took up the matter,
and persevered in a course of investigation, which lasted from March to
August, 1828. The specific distinction between the two fishes, on which
Mr. Yarrell relies as of the greatest value, is the difference of their
anatomical character; and especially in the number of vertebræ, or small
bones, extending from the back-bone. "The number of vertebræ in the
shad," he states, "of whatever size the specimen may be, is invariably
fifty-five, while the number in the whitebait is uniformly fifty-six;
even in a fish of two inches, with the assistance of a lens, their exact
number may be distinctly made out."


                           ------------------


                        CATCHING ELECTRIC EELS.


Humboldt gives a very interesting narrative of the mode of the capture
of the gymnoti employed by the Indians of South America. This is done by
rousing the eels by driving horses and mules into the ponds which those
fish inhabit, and harpooning them when they have exhausted their
electricity upon the unhappy quadrupeds.

"I wished," says Humboldt, "that a clever artist could have depicted the
most animated period of the attack; the groups of Indians surrounding
the pond, the horses, with their manes erect, and eye-balls wild with
pain and fright, striving to escape from the electric storm which they
had roused, and driven back by the shouts and long whips of the excited
Indians, the livid yellow eels, like great water-snakes, swimming near
the surface, and pursuing their enemy: all these objects presented a
most picturesque and exciting _ensemble_. In less than five minutes, two
horses were killed: the eel, being more than five feet in length, glides
beneath the body of the horse, and discharges the whole strength of its
electric organ; it attacks at the same time the heart, the digestive
viscera, and above all, the gastric plexus of nerves. I thought the
scene would have had a tragic termination, and expected to see most of
the quadrupeds killed; but the Indians assured me that the fishing would
soon be finished, and that only the first attack of the gymnoti was
really formidable. In fact, after the conflict had lasted a quarter of
an hour, the mules and horses appeared less alarmed; they no longer
erected their manes, and their eyes expressed less pain and terror. One
no longer saw them struck down in the water; the eels, instead of
swimming to the attack, retreated from their assailants, and approached
the shore."

The Indians now began to use their missiles; and by means of the long
cord attached to the harpoon, jerked the fish out of the water without
receiving any shock so long as the cord was dry. All the circumstances
narrated by Humboldt establish the close analogy between the gymnotus
and torpedo in the vital phenomenon attending the exercise of their
extraordinary means of offence. The exercise is voluntary and exhaustive
of the nervous energy; and, like voluntary muscular effort, it needs
repose and nourishment to produce a fresh accumulation.


                           ------------------


                SIR WILLIAM HERSCHEL'S FIRST TELESCOPE.


Sir William Herschel arrived in England from Hanover, his birth-place,
about the end of the year 1759, when he was in his 21st year. He was
bred a professor of music, and went to live at Halifax, where he
acquired, by his own application, a considerable knowledge of
mathematics; and, having studied astronomy and optics in the popular
writings of Ferguson, he was anxious to witness with his own eyes the
wonders of the planetary system. He accordingly borrowed of a friend a
telescope, two feet in focal length; and, having directed it to the
heavens, he was so delighted with the actual sight of phenomena, which
he had previously known only from books, that he commissioned a friend
to purchase for him in London a telescope, with a high magnifying power.
Fortunately for science, the price of such an instrument greatly
exceeded his means, and he immediately resolved to construct a telescope
with his own hands. After encountering the difficulties which every
amateur at first experiences, in the casting, grinding, and polishing,
of metallic specula for reflecting telescopes, he completed, in 1776, a
reflecting instrument, _five feet_ in focal length, with which he was
able to observe the ring of Saturn, and the satellites and belts of
Jupiter. This telescope was completed when he resided at Bath, where he
acquired by degrees, and in his leisure hours, that practical knowledge
of optics and mechanics which was necessary for such a task.

His experience in this scientific art was of the most remarkable kind;
and, by 1781, he had constructed so many telescopes, as to be better
furnished with the means of surveying the heavens than were possessed by
any other astronomer, in either of the fixed observatories in Europe.


                           ------------------


                         WONDERS OF AUSTRALIA.


Sydney Smith has thus sketched a few of the natural wonders of this new
world:--"In this remote part of the earth, Nature (having made horses,
oxen, ducks, geese, oaks, elms, and all regular and useful productions,
for the rest of the world) seems determined to have a bit of play, and
to amuse herself as she pleases. Accordingly, she makes cherries with
the stone outside; and a monstrous animal, as tall as a grenadier, with
the head of a rabbit, a tail as big as a bedpost, hopping along at the
rate of five hops to a mile, with three or four young kangaroos looking
out of its false uterus, to see what is passing. Then comes a quadruped,
as big as a large cat, with the eyes, colour, and skin of a mole, and
the bill and web-feet of a duck, puzzling Dr. Shaw, and rendering the
latter half of his life miserable, from his utter inability to determine
whether it was a bird or a beast. Add to this, a parrot with the legs of
a sea-gull; a skate with the head of a shark; and a bird of such
monstrous dimensions, that a side-bone of it will dine three real
carnivorous Englishmen;--together with many other productions that, on
the discovery of the country, agitated Sir Joseph Banks, and filled him
with emotions of distress and delight."


                           ------------------


                        VICISSITUDES OF MINING.


Humboldt relates of a Frenchman, Joseph Laborde, that he went to Mexico
very poor in 1743, and acquired a large fortune in a very short time by
the mine of La Canada. After building a church at Tasco, which cost him
84,000_l._, he was reduced to the lowest poverty by the rapid decline of
those very mines, from which he had annually drawn from 130,000 to
190,000 pounds' weight of silver. With a sum of 20,000l., raised by
selling a _sun_ of solid gold, which, in his prosperity, he had
presented to the church, and which he was allowed by the archbishop to
withdraw, he undertook to clear out an old mine, in doing which he lost
the greatest part of the produce of this golden sun, and then abandoned
the work. With the small sum remaining, he once more ventured on another
undertaking, which was, for a short time, highly productive; and he left
behind him, at his death, a fortune of 120,000_l_.


                           ------------------


                           TROPICAL DELIGHTS.


What a ludicrous picture has Sydney Smith drawn of the animal annoyance
of tropical climates. "Insects," he says, "are their curse. The bete
rouge lays the foundation of a tremendous ulcer. In a moment, you are
covered with ticks. Chigoes bury themselves in your flesh, and hatch a
large colony of young chigoes in a few hours. They will not live
together, but every chigoe sets up a separate ulcer, and has his own
private portion of pus. Flies get into your mouth, into your eyes, into
your nose; you eat flies, drink flies, and breathe flies. Lizards,
cockroaches, and snakes get into your bed; ants eat up the books;
scorpions sting you on the foot. Everything bites, stings, or bruises.
Every second of your existence, you are wounded by some piece of animal
life, that nobody has ever seen before, except Swammerdam and Merian. An
insect with eleven legs is swimming in your tea-cup; a nondescript, with
nine wings, is struggling in the small-beer; or a caterpillar, with
several dozen of eyes in his belly, is hastening over the bread and
butter. All nature is alive, and seems to be gathering all her
entomological hosts to eat you up, as you are standing, out of your
coat, waistcoat, and breeches. Such are the tropics. All this reconciles
us to our dews, fogs, vapours, and drizzle; to our apothecaries rushing
about with gargles and tinctures; to our old British constitutional
coughs, sore throats, and swelled faces."


                           ------------------


                     INVENTION OF THE DIVING-BELL.


In the United States of America, generally, and to some extent in
England, the invention of the diving-bell has been attributed to Sir
William Phipps; who was, however, one of the first persons who used the
bell advantageously, in recovering nearly 300,000l. treasure from a
Spanish wreck, near the Bahamas. The _invention_, or the earliest use of
the diving-bell, dates from upwards of a century before the birth of
Phipps; the first instance of its use being at Cadiz, in the presence of
Charles V., in 1538; whereas Phipps was born at Pemaguid, in America, in
1650. There is, likewise, another popular error, that the Mulgrave
family, of which the present head is the Marquess of Normanby, descended
from Sir William Phipps; the founder of the Mulgrave family being
Phipps, one of the earliest explorers of the Arctic regions.


                           ------------------


                   EXPERIMENTS WITH AN ELECTRIC EEL.


In 1838 there was brought to London, and exhibited at the Adelaide
Gallery, in the Strand, a living specimen of the electric eel, or
gymnotus, being the first received in this country alive within the
present century. It was fed upon fish, and occasionally with bullock's
blood, and was kept warm by water, artificially heated. With this eel
several interesting experiments were made, allowing periods of rest from
a week to a month between each set. One of these is thus described:--

"I was so fortunate (says Professor Owen) as to witness the experiments
performed by Professor Faraday on the large gymnotus which was so long
preserved at the Adelaide Gallery, in London. That the most powerful
shocks were received when the one hand grasped the head, and the other
hand the tail of the gymnotus, I had painful experience, especially at
the wrists, the elbow, and across the back. But our distinguished
experimenter showed us that the nearer the hands were together, within
certain limits, the less powerful was the shock. He demonstrated by the
galvanometer that the direction of the electric current was always from
the anterior parts of the animal to the posterior parts, and that the
person touching the fish with both hands received only the discharge of
the parts of the organs included between the points of contact. Needles
were converted into magnets; iodine was obtained by polar decomposition
of iodide of potassium; and availing himself of this test, Professor
Faraday showed that any given part of the organ is negative to other
parts before it, and positive to such as are behind it. Finally, heat
was evolved, and the electric spark obtained."


                           ------------------


                        TALENT AND OPPORTUNITY.


Previous to the year 1706, the brass ordnance for the British Government
was cast at the foundry in Moorfields; but an accident which occurred
there at the above date, led to the removal of the foundry to Woolwich.
The circumstances connected with this change are interesting, as well as
instructive.

It appears that a great number of persons had assembled to witness the
re-casting of the cannon taken by the Duke of Marlborough from the
French; and there happened to be among them, a young German artisan in
metal, named Schalch. Observing some moisture in the moulds, he pointed
out to the spectators around him the danger likely to ensue from an
explosion of steam, when the moulds were filled with the heated metal;
and at the instigation of his friends, this apprehension was conveyed
through Colonel Armstrong, major-general of the Ordnance, to the Duke of
Richmond, then in attendance, as the head of the department. This
warning was, however, disregarded; but Schalch retired from the spot
with as many of the bystanders as he could persuade to accompany him.
They had not proceeded far before the furnaces were opened, and, as
Schalch had foretold, a dreadful explosion ensued. The water in the
moulds was converted into steam, which from its expansive force caused a
fiery stream of liquid metal to dart out in every direction. Part of the
roof of the building was blown off, and the galleries that had been
erected for the company were swept to the ground. Most of the foundrymen
were terribly burnt; some were killed; and many of the spectators were
severely injured.

A few days afterwards, in answer to an advertisement in the newspapers,
Schalch waited upon Colonel Armstrong, and was informed by him that the
Board of Ordnance contemplated building a new foundry, and had
determined, from the representations made to them of Schalch's ability,
to offer him the superintendence of its erection, and the management of
the entire establishment, when completed. Schalch readily accepted the
appointment: he fixed upon the Warren at Woolwich, as the most eligible
site for the new building; and the ordnance which were cast here under
his direction were highly approved of. Thus, almost by mere chance, was
the young German appointed to a situation of great trust and emolument,
which he filled so ably, that during the many years he was
superintendent of the Royal Arsenal, not a single accident occurred,
amidst all the dangerous operations of gun-casting. He retired, after
sixty years service, to Charlton, where he died; and his tomb may be
seen in Woolwich church-yard.


                           ------------------


                  TRAVELLING IN THE HIMALEH MOUNTAINS.


The perils of the heights and passes of the Himâleh are truly frightful.
At Boorendo, 15,171 feet in height, one of the safest and most
frequented of the passes, the guides point out a spot where upwards of
twenty persons, returning from Koonacour with salt, a few years since,
perished at once: they were overtaken by a fall of snow when on the
other side, but they preferred trying the pass to making a circuit of
six or seven days' journey; the wind got up, and they were so benumbed
with cold by the time they reached the trees, that they were unable to
strike a light, and slept to wake no more.

The road to Ludak is passable in the middle of winter, and is never shut
by snow; but there are frightful accounts of frosts on this route. As
protection against these perils, travellers clothe themselves in their
journeys with a winter-dress, which is so heavy that it scarcely seems
possible for them to walk. Putee Ram, a traveller, is described as
wearing a garment of lambskin, called Lapka, with sleeves; the fleecy
side was inward, and the exterior covered with sooklat, a kind of warm
blanket, dyed blue. There were trousers of the same, long woollen
stockings, and over them the usual kind of boots, the foot part stuffed
with two inches of wool; and gloves of thick flannel reaching above the
elbows; in addition to this, he had a blanket round his waist, another
thrown on his shoulders, and a shawl wrapt over his cap and part of his
face; such, he said, was the usual garb of a traveller in the winter
season; adding, that he was always accompanied by a mule-load of
blankets and another Lapka, all of which were required at night, when he
was obliged to sleep under the snow.


                           ------------------


                            GOLD IN SIBERIA.


The reign of the Emperor Nicholas has been distinguished by the
important discovery, that portions of the great _eastern_ regions of
Siberia are highly auriferous; viz., the government of Tomsk and
Teniseik, where low ridges, similarly constructed to those on the
eastern flank of the Ural, and like them, trending from north to south,
appear as offsets from the great east and west chain of the Altai, which
separates Siberia from China. And here, it is curious to remark, that a
very few years ago, this distant region did not afford a third part of
the gold which the Ural produced; but by recent researches, an
augmentation so rapid and extraordinary has taken place, that in 1843
the eastern Siberian tract yielded considerably upwards of
two-and-a-quarter millions sterling, raising the total gold produce of
the Russian empire to nearly _three millions sterling_!--_Sir R. I.
Murchison_.


                           ------------------


                   COMBINATIONS OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE.


The system of endless changes is one of the most astonishing properties
of the Kaleidoscope. With a number of loose objects--pieces of glass,
for example,--it is possible to reproduce any figure we have admired,
when it is once lost. Centuries may elapse before the same combination
returns; if the objects, however, are placed in the cell so as to have
very little motion, the same figure may be recalled, and if actually
fixed, the same pattern will return in every evolution of the
object-plate. A calculation of the number of forms is given upon the
ordinary principles of combination; namely, that twenty-four pieces of
glass may be combined 13,917,242,888,872,552,999,425,128,493,402,200
times--an operation the performance of which would take
hundreds of thousands of millions of years, even upon the supposition
that twenty combinations were effected every minute!


                           ------------------


                        "THE MEANS TO THE END."


From the abundance of clay upon its site, London is, as might be
expected, a brick-built city; although the ingenuity of our age has
cased miles of streets with cement, to imitate stone. This prevalence of
clay is, in great measure, explanatory of the vastness of the
metropolis. It is nowhere better illustrated than in the fact of "the
Five Fields," (between Pimlico and Chelsea,) formerly a clayey swamp,
being now the site of some of the finest mansions in London. A few years
ago, the clay retained so much water that no one would build there, and
"the Fields" were the terror of foot-passengers proceeding from
Westminster to Chelsea after nightfall. At length, Mr. Cubitt, on
examining the strata, found them to consist of clay and gravel, of
inconsiderable depth. _The clay he removed, and burned into bricks; and
by building upon the substratum of gravel, he converted this spot from
the most unhealthy to one of the most healthy_, to the immense advantage
of the ground landlord and the whole metropolis. This is one of the most
perfect adaptations of the means to the end, to be found in the records
of the building art.


                           ------------------


                   INDIA RUBBER, A CENTURY AND A HALF
                                 SINCE.


Every generation is wisest in its own conceit, and the present is
continually overrated at the expense of the past. Who would have thought
that India rubber cloaks were worn in South America upwards of a century
since? yet such, forsooth, is the plain fact of history; and disinclined
as we are to rob Mr. Macintosh of the merit of his adaptation, the
invention must be awarded to another age; indeed, it is almost one of
the antiquities of the New World. In a work entitled _La Monarchia
Indiana_, printed at Madrid in 1723, we find a chapter devoted to "Very
profitable trees in New Spain, from which there distil various liquors
and resins." Among them is described a tree called _ulquahuill_, which
the natives cut with a hatchet, to obtain the white, thick, and adhesive
milk. This when coagulated, they made into balls, called _ulli_, which
rebounded very high, when struck to the ground, and were used in various
games. It was also made into shoes and sandals. The author
continues:--"Our people (the Spaniards) make use of their _ulli_ to
varnish their _cloaks_, made of hempen cloth, _for wet weather_, which
are good to resist water, but not against the sun, by whose heat and
rays the _ulli_ is dissolved."

India rubber is not known in Mexico at the present day by any other name
than that of _ulli_. And the oiled silk covering of hats very generally
worn throughout the country by travellers is always called _ulli_.


                           ------------------


                 BALLOON VOYAGE FROM LONDON TO NASSAU.


On Monday, November 7, 1836, Mr. Monck Mason and Mr. Robert Holland
accompanied Mr. Green in his large balloon from London to Weilburg, in
the grand duchy of Nassau, in Germany, an extent of 500 British miles,
achieved in the short space of eighteen hours. The route lay through a
considerable portion of the five kingdoms of England, France, Belgium,
Prussia, Germany, and the Archduchy of Nassau; whilst a long succession
of cities, including London, Rochester, Canterbury, Dover, Calais,
Cassel, Ypres, Courtray, Lille, Oudenarde, Ath, and Brussels, (with the
renowned fields of Waterloo and Genappe,) Namur, Liege, Spa, Malmedy,
Coblentz, and a whole host of intermediate villages, were all brought
within the compass of the aeronauts' horizon; their superior elevation
and various aberrations enabling them to extend far beyond what might be
expected from a hasty consideration of the line connecting the two
extremities of the route. The voyagers returned to London by steam, and
Mr. Monck Mason afterwards published an interesting narrative of the
æronautical voyage.

The appearance which the balloon exhibited previous to the ascent was
very strange. Provisions calculated for a fortnight's consumption, in
case of emergency; ballast to the amount of upwards of a ton in weight,
disposed in bags of different sizes, duly registered and marked;
together with an unusual supply of cordage, implements, and other
accessories to an aërial excursion, occupied the bottom of the car:
while, all around the hoop, and elsewhere appended, hung cloaks,
carpet-bags, barrels of wood and copper, a coffee-warmer by means of
slaked lime, barometers, telescopes, lamps, wine and spirit flasks, with
many other articles designed to serve the purposes of a voyage to
regions where, once forgotten, nothing could be supplied.


                           ------------------


                      ANTIQUITY OF REFINED SUGAR.


It appears from the accounts of the Chamberlain of Scotland, published
from the originals in the Exchequer, that in the year 1329, _loaves of
sugar_ were sold in Scotland at the price of 1s. 9-1/2d. (more than an
ounce of standard silver) per lb. Stow's _Survey of London_ states sugar
refining to have been commenced in England about 1544; and upwards of
four centuries since we find Margaret Paston writing to her husband from
Norwich thus:--"I pray, that ye will vouchsafe to send me another
sugar-loaf, for my old one is done."


                           ------------------


                  CLEARNESS OF THE SKY AT THE CAPE OF
                               GOOD HOPE.


An observer states that in forty-two successive days at the Cape, there
were only three in which he could not see Venus in broad daylight. Sir
John Herschel assures us that he has written a letter by the light of an
eclipse of the moon. Under these circumstances, the starry heavens
presented a brilliance, of which the inhabitants of the northern
hemisphere can have no conception; the line from Orion to Antinous being
remarkably rich and brilliant, and appearing as a continuous blaze of
light; with, however, a few patches of the sky destitute of stars.


                           ------------------


                      INTRODUCTION OF THE POTATO.


The history of the potato affords a strong illustration of the influence
of authority. For more than two centuries, the use of this invaluable
plant was vehemently opposed: at last, Louis XV. wore a bunch of its
blossoms in the midst of his courtiers, and the consumption of the root
became universal in France.


                           ------------------


                        FARADAY, AS A LECTURER.


Von Raumer acutely observes:--"Mr. Faraday is not only a man of profound
chemical and physical science, (which all Europe knows), but a very
remarkable lecturer. He speaks with ease and freedom, but not with a
gossiping unequal tone, alternately inaudible and bawling, as some very
learned professors do; he delivers himself with clearness, precision,
and ability. Moreover, he speaks his language in a manner which
confirmed me in a secret suspicion I had, that a great number of
Englishmen speak it very badly. Why is it that French in the mouth of
Mdlle. Mars, German in that of Tieck, and English in that of Faraday,
seems a totally different language? Because they articulate what other
people swallow or chew. It is a shame that the power and harmony of
simple speech (I am not talking of eloquence, but of vowels and
consonants), that the tones and inflexions which God has given to the
human voice, should be so neglected and abused. And those who think they
do them full justice--preachers--generally give us only the long straw
of pretended connoisseurs, instead of the chopped straw of the
dilettanti."


                           ------------------


                     THE RAILWAY SYSTEM SUGGESTED.


A striking suggestion of the extension of railway communication into a
"system," as connecting lines are now called, will be found in Sir
Richard Phillips's _Morning's Walk from London to Kew_, published in
1813. On reaching the Surrey Iron Railway at Wandsworth, Sir Richard
records: "I found renewed delight on witnessing, at this place, the
economy of horse labour on the Iron Railway. Yet a heavy sigh escaped
me, as I thought of the inconceivable millions which have been spent
about Malta, four or five of which might have been the means of
extending _double lines of iron railway_ from London to Edinburgh,
Glasgow, Holyhead, Milford, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Dover, and Portsmouth! A
reward of a single thousand would have supplied coaches and other
vehicles, of various degrees of speed, with the best tackle for readily
turning out; and we might, ere this, have witnessed our mail coaches
running at the rate of 10 miles an hour, drawn by a single horse, or
_impelled 15 miles an hour by Blenkinsop's steam-engine_. Such would
have been a legitimate motive for overstepping the income of a nation;
and the completion of so great and useful a work would have afforded
rational ground for public triumph in general jubilees!"

The writer of these penetrative remarks lived until 1840, so that he had
the gratification of witnessing a triumph akin to his long-cherished
hope.


                           ------------------


                       LORD BROUGHAM'S BLUNDERS.


Dr. Young's theory of light was treated with the most sovereign contempt
by Lord Brougham, in the earlier numbers of the _Edinburgh Review_; and
Dr. Young died without reaping the honour of his discovery. The theory
is now recognised as true; and M. Arago has formally vindicated Dr.
Young from the noble critic's animadversions, in a discourse delivered
at the French Institute.

In 1809, when the first application was made to Parliament on
gas-lighting, the movers in the project were much opposed; a committee
of the House of Commons was granted, but the application terminated
unsuccessfully; and the testimony of Mr. Accum to the practicability of
gas-lighting exposed him to the severe animadversions and ridicule of
Mr. Brougham.


                           ------------------


                   WHO FIRST DOUBLED THE CAPE OF GOOD
                                 HOPE?


"Why, Vasco de Gama, to be sure"--perhaps, the reader will reply. In
Portugal, however, a much more ancient navigator has been mentioned.
Vieyra, an old preacher of great renown at Lisbon, said in one of his
sermons:--"One man only passed the Cape of Good Hope before the
Portuguese. And who was he? and how? It was Jonah, in the whale's belly.
The whale (or rather great fish) went out of the Mediterranean because
he had no other course; he kept the coast of Africa on the left, scoured
along Ethiopia, passed by Arabia, took post in the Euphrates, on the
shores of Nineveh, and, making his tongue serve as a plank, landed the
prophet there."


                           ------------------


                        THE FIRST KALEIDOSCOPE.


When, by a happy accident, Sir David Brewster had discovered the leading
principles of the kaleidoscope while repeating Biot's experiments on the
action of fluids upon light, he constructed an instrument in which he
fixed permanently, across the ends of the reflectors, pieces of coloured
glass, and other irregular objects. But it was not till some time
afterwards that the great step towards the completion of the instrument
was made, in the idea of giving motion to these objects, which were
placed loosely in a cell at the end of the instrument. When this idea
was carried into execution, the kaleidoscope in its simple form was
completed. The next and by far the most important step of the invention
was, to employ a draw tube and lens, by means of which beautiful forms
could be created from objects of all sizes, and at all distances from
the observer. In this way, the power of the kaleidoscope was
indefinitely extended, and every object in nature could be introduced
into the picture, in the same manner as if these objects had been
reduced in size, and actually placed at the end of the reflector.


                           ------------------


                         FERGUSON AND HIS WIFE.


James Ferguson and his wife led a cat-and-dog life, and she is not once
alluded to in the philosopher's autobiography. About the year 1750, one
evening, while he was delivering to a London audience a lecture on
astronomy, his wife entered the room in a passion, and maliciously
overturned several pieces of the apparatus; when all the notice Ferguson
took of the catastrophe was the observation to the audience--"Ladies and
gentlemen, I have the misfortune to be married to this woman."


                           ------------------


                      A DESCENT IN A DIVING-BELL.


Sir George Head, in his shrewdly humorous _Home Tour_, gives an amusing
picture of a pair of operative divers whom he saw in the Hull docks. Sir
George was passing as the workmen were raising the diving-bell, when he
stepped into the lighter to observe the state of the labourers on their
return from below. He had a remarkably good view of their features, at a
time when they had no reason to expect any one was looking at them; for,
as the bell was raised very slowly, he had an opportunity of seeing
within it, by stooping, the moment its side was above the gunwale of the
lighter. But, Sir George shall relate what he saw:--

"A pair of easy-going, careless fellows, each with a red nightcap on his
head, sat opposite one another, by no means over-heated or exhausted,
and apparently with no other want in the world than that of 'summut to
drink;' they had been under water exactly two hours. I asked them what
were their sensations on going down? They said that, before a man was
used to it, it produced a feeling as if the ears were bursting; that, on
the bell first dipping, they were in the habit of holding their noses;
at the same time of breathing as gently as possible, and that thus they
prevented any disagreeable effect: they added, the air below was hot,
and made a man thirsty;--the latter observation, though in duty bound I
received as a hint, I believe to be true; nevertheless, the service
cannot be formidable, as the extra pay is only one shilling per day. Had
there been any thing extraordinary to see below, I should have asked
permission to go down; but the water was by no means clear, and the
muddy bottom of the docks was not a sufficient recompence for the
disagreeable sensation. Two men descend at a time, and four pump the air
into the bell through the leathern hose; the bell is nearly a square, or
rather an oblong, vessel of cast-iron, with ten bull's-eye lights at the
top, which lights are fortified within by a lattice of strong iron wire,
sufficient to resist an accidental blow of a crowbar, or other
casualty.--Notwithstanding the great improvements made in diving-bells
since their invention, after all precautions, a man in a diving-bell is,
certainly, in a state of awful dependence upon human aid: in case of the
slightest accident to the air-pump, or even a single stitch of the
leathern hose giving way, long before the ponderous vessel could be
raised to the surface, life must be extinct."


                           ------------------


                      SIR HUMPHRY DAVY AN ANGLER.


Laybach, in Styria, is interesting, for having been the retreat of Sir
Humphry Davy not long before his death: he resided in an hotel here, and
the pretty daughter of the hostess relates several anecdotes of him. He
was a most indefatigable angler: his extraordinary success in
transferring the trout to his basket procured for him the title of "the
English wizard;" and the scared peasants, who could never understand by
what artificial means he caught the fish, shunned him as if he had been
his Satanic majesty. He spent the greater part of the day in angling, or
in geologizing among the mountains; he generally passed his evenings in
the company of his hostess' pretty daughter, who made his tea, and was
his antagonist at écarté, or some other light game; and the maid of the
inn played her cards so well, that she secured a handsome legacy from
the philosopher in his will.


                           ------------------


                    MISS CAROLINE LUCRETIA HERSCHEL.


This very interesting lady died at Hanover on the 9th of January, 1848,
in the 98th year of her age. She was the sister of Sir William Herschel;
and consequently, aunt to Sir John Herschel, the present representative
of this truly scientific family.

Miss Herschel was the constant companion of her brother, and sole
assistant of his astronomical labours, to the success of which her
indefatigable zeal, diligence, and singular accuracy of calculation, not
a little contributed. From the first commencement of his astronomical
pursuits, her attendance on both his daily labours and nightly watches
was put in requisition; and was found so useful, that on Herschel's
removal from Bath to Datchet, and subsequently to Slough, he being then
occupied with the review of the heavens and other researches, she
performed the whole of the arduous duties of his astronomical assistant;
not only reading the clocks and noting down all the observations from
dictation as an amanuensis, but subsequently executing the extensive and
laborious numerical calculations necessary to render them available to
science. For the performance of these duties, his majesty King George
the Third was pleased to place her in the receipt of a salary sufficient
for her singularly moderate wants and retired habits.

Arduous, however, as these occupations must appear, especially when it
is considered that her brother's observations were always carried on
(circumstances permitting) till daybreak, without regard to season, and
indeed chiefly in winter, they proved insufficient to exhaust her
activity. In the intervals, she found time both for astronomical
observations of her own, and for the execution of more than one work of
great extent and utility. The observations she made with a small
Newtonian sweeper, constructed for her by her brother, with which she
found no less than eight comets; and on five of these occasions her
claim to the _first_ discovery is admitted. These sweeps also proved
productive of the detection of several remarkable nebulæ and clusters of
stars, previously unobserved.

On her brother's death, in 1822, Miss Herschel returned to Hanover,
which she never again quitted; passing the last twenty-six years of her
life in repose--enjoying the society, and cherished by the regard of,
her remaining relatives and friends; gratified by the occasional visits
of eminent astronomers, and honoured with many marks of favour and
distinction on the part of the King of Hanover, the Crown Prince, and
his amiable and illustrious consort. To within a very short period of
her death, her health continued uninterrupted, her faculties perfect,
and her memory (especially of the scenes and circumstances of former
days) remarkably clear and distinct. Her end was tranquil and free from
suffering--a simple cessation of life.

We append the following just and eloquent tribute to the merits of Miss
Herschel, from Dr. Nichol's "Views of the Architecture of the
Heavens:"--

"The astronomer (Sir William Herschel), during these engrossing nights,
was constantly assisted in his labours by a devoted maiden sister, who
braved with him the inclemency of the weather--who heroically shared his
privations that she might participate in his delights--whose pen, we are
told, committed to paper his notes of observations as they issued from
his lips; 'she it was,' says the best of authorities, 'who, having
passed the nights near the telescope, took the rough manuscripts to her
cottage at the dawn of day, and produced a fair copy of the night's work
on the ensuing morning; she it was who planned the labour of each
succeeding night, who reduced every observation, made every calculation,
and kept everything in systematic order;' she it was--Miss Caroline
Herschel--who helped our astronomer to gather an imperishable name. This
venerable lady has in one respect been more fortunate than her brother;
she has lived to reap the full harvest of their joint glory. Some years
ago, the gold medal of our Astronomical Society was transmitted to her
at her native Hanover, whither she removed after Sir William's death;
and the same learned Society has recently inscribed her name upon its
roll: but she has been rewarded by yet more, by what she will value
beyond all earthly pleasures; she has lived to see her favourite nephew,
him who grew up under her eye unto an astronomer, gather around him the
highest hopes of scientific Europe, and prove himself fully equal to
tread in the footsteps of his father."


                           ------------------


                        TYCHO BRAHE'S CREDULITY.


This great astronomer strongly--and weakly--believed in the predictions
of astrology. If, when he went abroad, he met an old woman, or a hare
crossed his path, he would turn back, being persuaded that evil was
threatened him.


                           ------------------


       INVENTION OF THE TELESCOPE, AND EARLY DISCOVERIES WITH IT.


It is singular that the epoch of the most extensive discoveries upon the
surface of our planet was immediately succeeded by man's first taking
possession of a considerable part of the celestial spaces by the
telescope. The powers of this instrument have not yet reached their
limit. The feeble commencement, however hardly magnifying as much as
thirty-two times in linear dimension, enabled astronomers to penetrate
into cosmical depths, before unknown. The accidental discovery of the
space-penetrating power of the telescope was first made in Holland,
probably as early as the close of 1608. According to the latest
documentary investigations, this great invention may be claimed by Hans
Lippershey, a native of Wesel and a spectacle-maker at Middelburg, who,
on the 2nd of October, 1608, offered to the States-General certain
instruments "with which one can see to a distance." Two other persons,
Adrienz and Jansen, made a similar offer, nearly at the same time.

When the news of the Dutch invention reached Venice, Galileo was
accidentally present; he at once divined what were the essential
conditions of the construction, and immediately completed a telescope at
Padua for his own use. He directed it first to the mountains in the
moon; then examined with small magnifying powers the group of the
Pleiades, the cluster of stars in Cancer, the Milky Way, and the group
of stars in the head of Orion. Then followed in quick succession the
great discovery of the four satellites of Jupiter, the two "handles" of
Saturn, or his surrounding ring imperfectly seen, so that its true
character was not at once recognised; the solar spots, and the crescent
form of Venus. The occultations of the satellites, or their entrance
into the shadow of Jupiter, led to the knowledge of the velocity of
light; and led Galileo to perceive their importance in the determination
of the longitude of places on land.

Galileo carried his first telescope to Venice, where his time for more
than a month was employed in showing and explaining its nature to the
different inhabitants. A ludicrous instance is related of the insatiable
telescope mania which had seized on the people. Galileo went one day to
the tower of St. Mark, in order to make observations on its summit, but
the people espied him, and compelled him to hand a telescope which he
had made for himself, from one to another, until all had gratified their
curiosity by having a peep; and, after he had been detained several
hours, he was not a little glad to regain his telescope, and return
home. But this was not all: he heard them inquiring at what inn he
lodged; and foreseeing the inconvenience of the celebrity which was
beginning to attach to him, he left Venice early the next morning, to
pursue his observations with greater privacy.

Melancholy is it to relate that these brilliant disclosures brought
temporary disgrace and positive suffering upon their author. Galileo, at
the age of seventy-seven, after having devoted his life to useful and
valuable labours, was forced to abjure his philosophical opinions, and
to declare, on his knees, that he believed his doctrines concerning the
motion of the earth round the sun, the existence of solar spots, &c., to
be false and pernicious. The moral firmness of the old man was not
sufficient to make him brave the terrors of the Inquisition, and we must
therefore look with a lenient eye at this abjuration of doctrines which
at the very moment he firmly believed to be true: but what shall we say
of those men, who, under the plea of religion, could subject so noble a
mind to such humiliating degradation!


                           ------------------


                    IDENTITY OF BLACK AND GREEN TEA.


Green and Black Tea are produced from the same plant, though the
botanists were long at issue about this matter. The idea of green tea
being dried upon copper is proved to be a popular fallacy, for the tea
would be flavoured and spoiled in the process; besides, the bloom can be
given by harmless means. Dr. Lettsom, by the way, thought it was given
by a vegetable process.

Mr. Ball, who has written a practical volume on "the Cultivation and
Manufacture of Tea," describes an experiment made by him, proving that
tea may be dried _black and green_, at once, in the same vessel and over
the same fire: he divided the pan, and the leaves on one side he kept in
motion, and the other quiet--when the latter became black, and the
former green; thus proving the difference of colour to be not derived
from any management of heat, but from manipulation, the heat being the
same in both cases.

At the same time, certain Chinese rogues glaze our hysons most
unscrupulously; and it has been proved by chemical analysis, that the
Chinese green teas are artificially coloured, though not with indigo, as
represented by the green tea merchants. We may add, that gunpowder tea
is dried at the highest temperature, and pekoe at the lowest; and the
chemical cause of black tea is its loss of tannin in its drying,
previous to roasting, an opinion that is supported by the testimony of
Liebig. Again, Mr. Ball thinks there may be one species of tea plant,
but several varieties, and that all botanical difference is destroyed in
the course of packing.


                           ------------------


                          PROTECTION BY RUST.


Rust is usually associated with decay. Professor Faraday, however,
observes that, in some cases, it is curious to see how tin, a metal
having a slight attraction for oxygen, protects other metals from
oxidation or rust. In Canada, tin-plate is used for the roofs of houses,
and you are dazzled by the lustre of the setting sun upon the roofs;
whilst there, although it is exposed to the atmosphere year after year,
it does not decay, because the superficial coat of oxide protects the
tin and iron beneath.


                           ------------------


                        THE LION EATEN AS FOOD.


Captain C. Kennedy, in his "Journey through Algeria and Tunis,"
notes:--"We were anxious to know if there was any chance of another lion
being found in the neighbourhood, and were informed that doubtless there
were plenty; but such was the nature of the ground, that, unless their
exact haunts were known (in which case they were generally killed), we
might go out for a fortnight, and never encounter a single beast. The
skins of all lions killed throughout the regency are sent to the Bey,
who pays a handsome premium upon each. The flesh is eaten: contrary to
our expectation, we found it excellent, and made a capital supper upon
the ends of the ribs, stewed with a little salt and red pepper; it
tasted like very young beef, and was neither tough nor strong
flavoured."


                           ------------------


                   THE MOON SEEN THROUGH LORD ROSSE'S
                               TELESCOPE.


In 1846, the Rev. Dr. Scoresby had the gratification of observing the
moon through the stupendous telescope constructed by Lord Rosse, at
Parsonstown. It appeared like a globe of molten silver, and every object
of the extent of one hundred yards was quite visible. Edifices,
therefore, of the size of York Minster, or even of the ruins of Whitby
Abbey, might be easily perceived, if they had existed. But there was no
appearance of anything of that nature; neither was there any indication
of the existence of water, or of an atmosphere. There were a great
number of extinct volcanoes, several miles in breadth; through one of
them there was a line of continuance about 150 miles in length, which
ran in a straight direction, like a railway. The general appearance,
however, was like one vast ruin of nature; and many of the pieces of
rock driven out of the volcanoes, appeared to lie at various distances.


                           ------------------


                        LONGEVITY OF THE BEETLE.


Some facts recently stated to the British Association may, perhaps,
shake faith in the "corporal sufferance" of the beetle, whose cause has
been so eloquently pleaded by Shakspeare. Sir G. Richardson has
exhibited a beetle found imbedded in some artificial concrete, where it
must have been at least sixteen years; yet, when the animal was brought
to him, it was alive, and lived for six weeks after--the ordinary
duration of the life of this species of beetle being but two or three
years. Mr. Darwin left one of the same kind of beetles in a covered
vessel for a year, without its being killed; he also dropped upon one
hydrocyanic acid, but it walked off, quite unaffected by the poison.


                           ------------------


                       TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN.


Sagua La Grande, on the island of Cuba, was the only place where total
darkness was produced by the eclipse of the sun, on the 25th of July,
1846. The eclipse phenomenon commenced at 9h. 41m. 32s. a.m., sky clear.
As the time of the total darkness approached, all animated nature gave
signs of approaching night, man only excepted. Still, the mirth of the
gay donnas and senoras soon ceased; the slaves abandoned their
occupations, and many fell on their knees. The darkness came on
gradually, and at 17 minutes past 11, the sun was totally obscured.
There stood the moon, covering the whole face of the sun, and presenting
the appearance of a great black ball in the heavens, with rays of light
diverging from behind it. The rays gave out a pale, aurora-like
reflection upon the earth, resembling that cast by the moon when
half-full. This lasted only fifty seconds; and, at a little past 12, the
eclipse ended.


                           ------------------


                            THE DIVING-BELL.


Was first used in Europe at Toledo, in Spain, in 1538, before Charles V.
and 10,000 spectators. The experiment was made by two Greeks, who,
taking a very large kettle suspended by ropes with the mouth downward,
fixed planks in it, on which they placed themselves, and with a lighted
candle gradually descended to a considerable depth.


                           ------------------


                      RATE OF BALLOON TRAVELLING.


Mr. Green relates some singular experiences of the variety of currents
in our atmosphere, influencing the rate of his aërial travelling. He has
found that at a great elevation, the north-west current generally
prevails throughout the year, without reference to the direction of the
wind near the earth; this constant current being at an elevation of from
13,000 to 14,000 feet. This upper current carries his balloon at the
rate of six miles an hour; whilst the lower current wafts it at the rate
of thirty miles an hour. He states, that in one of his ascents from
Liverpool, he entered the constant current at an elevation of 14,000
feet, and descended into a lower south-east current at the height of
12,000 feet; the former carrying his balloon at the rate of five miles,
and the latter at the rate of eighty miles an hour. He has travelled
ninety-seven miles in fifty-eight minutes, and his speed has often been
from sixty to eighty miles an hour.


                           ------------------


                      SAFE DESCENT IN A PARACHUTE.


This feat, of very rare occurrence, was accomplished in September, 1838,
when Mr. Hampton ascended with a parachute attached to a gas balloon,
from Cheltenham, to the height of 9000 feet. At this altitude, he cut
the connecting-cord, when the balloon rose for some hundred feet, and
burst; Mr. Hampton safely descending in the parachute, within thirteen
minutes; the collapsed balloon having reached the earth before him.


                           ------------------


                             "FOSSIL RAIN."


In 1838, there was discovered at Liverpool, the impression of a fossil
shower of rain upon sandstone. Dr. Buckland observes of the
phenomenon:--"It could not be mistaken for ripple of the water, that was
common enough: it had all the small-pox character, the pitted
appearance, which a heavy shower of rain would leave, and which would be
covered up by the next tide, and so preserved to future generations."


                           ------------------


                    MELTING OF A WATCH BY LIGHTNING.


During a violent thunder-storm in 1844, a fishing-boat, belonging to one
of the Shetland Islands, was struck by lightning. The electric fluid
came down the mast, which it tore into shivers; and melted a watch in
the pocket of a man who was sitting close by the side of the mast,
without injuring him. Not only was the man altogether unhurt, but his
clothes also were uninjured; and he was not aware of what had taken
place until, on taking out his watch, he found it was fused into a mass!


                           ------------------


                      THE INDIAN JUGGLERS' SECRET.


Lieutenant Hutton states, that the snakes which the Indian jugglers
handle with impunity are drugged with opium, which renders them quiet
and harmless. The effects of the drug will not wear off for a fortnight
or three weeks; but a drugged snake which Lieutenant Hutton purchased,
after the lapse of three weeks, flew at him unexpectedly, and nearly
strangled him.


                           ------------------


                         THE ART OF STEREOTYPE.


The first person mentioned as practising the modern art of stereotype,
was a Dutchman, Van der Mey, who resided at Leyden about the end of the
sixteenth century. He printed four books from solid plates; but at his
death the art of preparing solid blocks was lost, or wholly neglected.
In 1725, however, Mr. Ged, a jeweller of Edinburgh, apparently without
knowledge of Van der Mey's performances, devised the plan of printing
from plates; and in 1729 he entered into partnership with three other
persons, for the purpose of prosecuting the art. A privilege was
obtained by the company, from the University of Cambridge, to print
Bibles and Prayer-books; but one of Ged's partners was so averse to the
success of the plan, that he engaged such people for the work as he
thought most likely to spoil it. The compositors wilfully made errors in
correcting, and the pressmen battered the plates when the masters were
absent. In consequence, the books were suppressed by authority, and the
plates melted. Mr. Ged, with the help of his son, whom he had
apprenticed to the printing trade, actually produced, in 1736, an 18mo
edition of Sallust; and in 1742 another book was printed in Newcastle.
But after the death of Ged and his son, the art again fell into disuse,
till in 1780 it was revived by Mr. Tulloch of Glasgow, who practised it
in partnership with Mr. Foulis, the University printer.


                           ------------------


                            "RAINING TREES."


During Sir John Herschel's residence at the Cape of Good Hope, he often
observed that on the windward side of the Table Mountain the clouds were
spread out and descended very low, but frequently without any rain
falling; while, on the lee-side they poured over the precipitous face of
the mountain, producing as they rolled out, the well-known phenomenon of
the table-cloth. Sir John, however, found that as he walked under
fir-trees in the neighbourhood, while the clouds were closely overhead,
he was subjected to a copious shower; but on coming from beneath the
trees it was fair. On inquiring into the cause of this, he ascertained
that the cloud was condensed on the trees, and thus the umbrella-shaped
tops of the firs acted a part quite the reverse of our umbrellas in this
country, for they wetted the person beneath them, instead of keeping him
dry.


                           ------------------


                        THE INVISIBLE DISPATCH.


The plan of writing with rice-water, to be rendered visible by the
application of iodine, was practised with great success in the
correspondence during the war in Affghanistan. The first letter of this
kind was received from Jellalabad, concealed in a quill. On opening it,
a small paper was unfolded, on which appeared only a single word,
"iodine." The magic liquid was applied, and an important dispatch from
Sir Robert Sale stood forth.


                           ------------------


                              TAME HYÆNA.


When the traveller, Ignatius Pallme, was at Kordofan, he saw in the
court of a house at Lobeid, a hyæna running about quite domesticated.
The children of the proprietor tamed it, took the meat thrown to it for
food out of its jaws, and put their hands even to its throat without
receiving the slightest injury. When the family sat down to dinner in
the open air, the animal approached the table, and snapped up the pieces
that were thrown to it, like a dog. A full-grown hyæna and her two cubs,
on another occasion, were brought to our traveller for sale; the latter
were carried in arms, as you might carry a lamb, and were not even
muzzled. The old one, it is true, had a rope round her snout, but she
had been led a distance of twelve miles by one man without offering the
least resistance. The Africans do not even reckon the hyæna among the
wild beasts of their country, for they are not afraid of it.


                           ------------------


                       NOVEL TRAVELLING CARRIAGE.


In 1838, a carriage was built for a gentleman at Kensington, which, for
completeness, equalled Sir Samuel Morland's celebrated cooking-carriage,
of the seventeenth century. It was divided into two apartments, an
anti-room, and a drawing-room and bed-chamber with every comfort. The
anti-room contained a table, drawers, and culinary utensils; and the
drawing-room was furnished with sofas, sofa-bedstead, six chairs, table,
cupboards, and a chandelier for nine lights; a stove and fuel. The
length of the carriage was twenty-nine feet, and the breadth nine feet;
and the length of the drawing-room twenty-feet. The whole weighed two
tons and a half.


                           ------------------


                        ENEMIES OF THE OSTRICH.


The ostrich would appear to be a bird of many enemies, from the
following statement in Sir J. E. Alexander's narrative of his Expedition
of Discovery in South Africa:

"According to native testimony, the male ostrich sits on the nest (which
is merely a hollow place scooped out in the sand) during the night, the
better to defend the eggs from jackals and other nocturnal plunderers.
Towards morning, he _brummels_, or utters a grumbling sound, for the
female to come and take his place; and she sits on the eggs during the
cool of the morning and evening. In the middle of the day, the pair,
leaving the eggs in charge of the sun, and 'forgetting that the foot may
crush them, or the wild beast break them,' employ themselves in feeding
off the tops of bushes in the plain near the nest. Looking aloft at this
time of day, a white Egyptian vulture may be seen, soaring in mid-air,
with a large stone between his talons. Having carefully surveyed the
ground below him, he suddenly lets fall the stone, and then follows it
in rapid descent. Let the hunter run to the spot, and he will find a
nest of, probably, a score of eggs, (each equal in size to twenty-four
hen's eggs,) some of them broken by the vulture. The jackal, too, is
said to roll the eggs together to break them; and the hyæna pushes them
off with his nose, to bury them at a distance."


                           ------------------


                   FIRE-PROOF HOUSE ON PUTNEY HEATH.


Upon Putney Heath, by the road-side, stands an obelisk, to record the
success of a discovery made in the last century, of the means of
building a house which no ordinary application of ignited combustibles
could be made to consume. The inventor was Mr. David Hartley, to whom
the House of Commons voted 2,500_l._, to defray the expenses of the
experimental building, which stood about one hundred yards from the
obelisk. In 1774, King George the Third and Queen Charlotte took their
breakfast in one of the rooms; while in the apartment beneath, fires
were lighted on the floor, and various inflammable materials were
ignited, to attest that the rooms above were fire-proof. Hartley's
secret lay in the floors being double, and there being interposed
between the two boards sheets of laminated iron and copper, not thicker
than tinfoil or stout paper, which rendered the floor air-tight, and
thereby intercepted the ascent of the heated air; so that, although the
inferior boards were actually charred, the metal prevented the
combustion taking place in the upper flooring.

Another experiment took place on the 110th anniversary of the great fire
of London, when a patriotic lord mayor and the corporation of London
witnessed the indestructible property of the structure. Yet, the
invention was never carried into further practice. The house was, many
years after, converted into a tasteful villa, although the obelisk
records the success of the experiment.


                           ------------------


                      THE LAST OF THE ALCHEMISTS.


The last true believer in alchemy was, according to Mr. Brande, one
Peter Woulfe, who occupied chambers in Barnard's Inn, Holborn, while in
London, and usually spent the summer in Paris. He died in 1805. About
the year 1801, another solitary adept lived, or rather starved, in
London, in the person of an editor of an evening newspaper, who expected
to compound the alkahest, if he could keep his materials digested in a
lamp-furnace for the space of seven years. The lamp burnt brightly
during six years eleven months, and some odd days besides; and then,
unluckily, it went out. Why it went out, the adept could never guess;
but he was certain that if the name could only have burnt to the end of
the septenary cycle, his experiment must have succeeded.

In 1828, Sir Richard Phillips visited "an alchemist," named Kellerman,
at the village of Lilley, midway between Luton and Hitchen; he was
believed by some of his neighbours to have succeeded in discovering the
Philosopher's Stone, and also the universal solvent. He had been a man
of fashion, and an adventurer on the turf; but had for many years shut
himself up at Lilley, and been inaccessible and invisible to the world;
his house being barricaded, and the walls of his grounds protected by
hurdles, with spring-guns, so planted as to resist intrusion in every
direction. Sir Richard, however, obtained an interview with this strange
being, and the account of his visit is very graphic:--

"The front-door was opened, and Mr. Kellerman presented himself. I
lament that I have not the pencil of Hogarth, for a more original figure
never was seen. He was about six feet high, and of athletic make. On his
head was a white nightcap, and his dress consisted of a long great-coat,
once green, and a sort of jockey waistcoat, with three tiers of pockets.
His manner was extremely polite and graceful; but my attention was
chiefly absorbed by his singular physiognomy. His complexion was deeply
sallow, and his eyes large, black, and rolling. He conducted me into a
very large parlour, with a window looking backward, and having locked
the door and put the key into his pocket, he desired me to be seated in
one of two large armchairs, covered with sheepskins. The room was a
realization of the well-known picture of Teniers's Alchemist. The floor
was strewed with retorts, crucibles, alembics, jars, and bottles of
various shapes, intermingled with old books, the whole covered with dust
and cobwebs. Different shelves were filled in the same manner; and on
one side stood the Alchemist's bed. In a corner, somewhat shaded from
the light, I beheld two heads, white, with dark wigs on them; I
entertained no doubt, therefore, that, among other fancies, he was
engaged in re making the brazen speaking head of Roger Bacon and
Albertus."

"He then gave me a history of his studies, mentioned some men in London
whom I happened to know, and who, he alleged, had assured him that they
had made gold. That having, in consequence, examined the works of the
ancient alchemists, and discovered the key which they had studiously
concealed from the multitude, he had pursued their system under the
influence of new lights; and, after suffering numerous disappointments,
owing to the ambiguity with which they describe their processes, he had
at length happily succeeded; had made gold, and could make as much more
as he pleased, even to the extent of paying off the national debt in the
coin of the realm."

"I yielded to the declaration, expressed my satisfaction at so
extraordinary a discovery, and asked him to show me some of the precious
metal which he had made."

"'Not so,' said he, 'I will show it to no one. I made Lord Liverpool the
offer that, if he would introduce me to the King, I would show it to his
Majesty; but Lord Liverpool insolently declined, on the ground that
there was no precedent; and I am therefore determined that the secret
shall die with me. It is true that, in order to avenge myself of such
contempt, I made a communication to the French ambassador, Prince
Polignac, and offered to go to France, and transfer to the French
government the entire advantages of the discovery; but, after deluding
me, and shuffling for some time, I found it necessary to treat him with
the same contempt as the others. Every court in Europe,' he added,
'knows that I have made the discovery, and they are all in a confederacy
against me; lest, by giving it to any one, I should make that country
master of all the rest--the world, Sir,' he exclaimed with great
emotion, 'is in my hands, and my power.'"

                  *       *       *       *       *

"I now inquired whether he had been alarmed by the ignorance of the
people in the country, so as to shut himself up in this unusual manner?"

"'No,' he replied, 'not on their account wholly. They are ignorant and
insolent enough; but it was to protect myself against the governments of
Europe, who are determined to get possession of my secret by force. I
have been,' he exclaimed, 'twice fired at through that window, and three
times attempted to be poisoned. They believed I had written a book
containing my secrets, and to get possession of this book has been their
object. To baffle them, I burnt all that I had ever written; and I have
so guarded the windows with spring-guns, and have such a collection of
combustibles in the range of bottles which stand at your elbow, that I
could destroy a whole regiment of soldiers if sent against me.' He then
related that, as a further protection, he lived entirely in that room,
and permitted no one to come into the house; while he had locked up
every room except that with patent padlocks, and sealed the keyholes."

In a conversation of two or three hours with the narrator, Kellerman
enlarged upon the merits of the ancient alchemists, and on the blunders
and impertinent assumptions of modern chemists. He quoted Roger and Lord
Bacon, Paracelsus, Boyle, Boerhaave, Woolfe, and others, to justify his
pursuits. As to the term philosopher's stone, he alleged that it was a
mere figure to deceive the vulgar. He appeared to give full credit to
the silly story of Dee's assistant, Kelly, finding some of the powder of
projection in the tomb of Roger Bacon, at Glastonbury, by means of
which, as he said, Kelly for a length of time supported himself in
princely splendour. Kellerman added, that he had discovered the blacker
than black of Appolonius Tyanus: it was itself "the powder of projection
for producing gold."

It further appeared he had lived in the premises at Lilley for
twenty-three years, during fourteen of which he had pursued his
alchemical studies with unremitting ardour; keeping eight assistants for
the purpose of superintending his crucibles, two at a time, relieving
each other every six hours: that he had exposed some preparations to
intense heat for many months at a time, but that all except one crucible
had burst--and that, Kellerman said, contained the true "blacker than
black." One of his assistants, however, protested that no gold had ever
been found, and that no mercury had ever been fixed, for he was quite
sure Kellerman could not have concealed it from his assistants; while,
on the contrary, they witnessed his severe disappointment at the result
of his most elaborate experiments.

By the way, in the introduction to _Zanoni_, Sir E. Bulwer Lytton has
given a clever sketch of an eccentric antiquarian bookseller, in the
neighbourhood of Covent Garden, who is said to have assembled "the most
notable collection ever amassed by an enthusiast, of the works of
alchemist, cabalist, and astrologer." The "vindictive glare and uneasy
vigilance," and the frowning and groaning of the anti-bookseller (for it
absolutely went to his heart when a customer entered his shop), are all
very characteristic and life-like in this sketch. When free from such
annoyance, he might be seen gloating over his musty, unsaleable
treasures, on which he had, it was said, spent a fortune.


                           ------------------


                          CELEBRATED DIAMONDS.


We read marvellous records, (in modern books, too,) of the high prices
realized for diamonds; but according to Dr. Ure, "it does not appear
that any sum exceeding one hundred and fifty thousand pounds has ever
been given for a diamond." This statement, made in the year 1820, has
since received signal confirmation. On July 20, 1837, the Nassuck
diamond was sold by auction in London, and realised only 7,200l., though
it was estimated by the East India Company to be worth 30,000l. This
diamond was among the spoils which were captured by the combined armies,
under the command of the Marquis of Hastings, in the British conquest of
India, and formed part of the "Deccan booty." This magnificent gem is as
large as a good-sized walnut, weighs 357-1/2 grains, is of dazzling
whiteness, and is as pure as a drop of dew. After the above sale, it was
purchased by the Marquis of Westminster, who more than once wore it on
the hilt of his court sword; it was presented by his lordship to the
Marchioness of Westminster, on her birth-day, along with the Arcot
diamond ear-rings, once belonging to Queen Charlotte, and disposed of at
the above sale for 11,000l.

The Great Mogul's diamond, about the size of half a hen's egg, and the
Pitt diamond, are well known. Among the crown jewels of Russia is a
magnificent diamond, weighing 195 carats: it is the size of a small
pigeon's egg, and was formerly the eye of a Brahminical idol, whence it
was purloined by a French soldier; it passed through several hands, and
was ultimately purchased by the Empress Catherine, for 90,000l. in ready
money, and an annuity of 4,000l.

One of the largest diamonds in the world was found in the river Abaite,
about 92 miles N. W. of the diamond district of Serro do Frio, in
Brazil: it is of nearly an ounce in weight, and has been _estimated_ by
Roma de l'Isle at the enormous sum of 300 millions. It is uncut; but the
king of Portugal, to whom it belonged, had a hole bored through it, in
order to wear it suspended about his neck on gala days. No sovereign
possessed so fine a collection of diamonds as this prince.

In 1846, the Brazilian journals announced that a negro had found, in the
diamond district of Bahia, a rough diamond weighing nearly an ounce. The
approximative value was stated at 45,000l., but it was sold by the
finder for 35l.

The most celebrated diamond of our times we, however, suspect to be that
called "The Mountain of Light," (_Koh-i-noor_,) which belonged to
Runjeet Sing, and now belongs to Queen Victoria. It was once valued at
£3,000,000, is very brilliant, and without a flaw of any kind. Runjeet's
string of pearls was, it is thought, if possible, even handsomer than
the diamond; they were about three hundred in number, literally the size
of small marbles, all picked pearls, and round, and perfect both in
shape and colour. Two hours before he died, he sent for all his jewels,
and gave the above diamond, said to be the largest in the world, to a
Hindoo temple; his celebrated string of pearls to another; and his
favourite fine horses, with all their jewelled trappings, worth
300,000l., to a third. "The Nizam's Diamond" is another wonderful gem:
it was first seen in the hands of a native child in India, who was
playing with it, ignorant of its value; and a considerable sum being
offered for it, led to the discovery of its being a real diamond. In its
rough state, it weighs 277 carats; and as the rough stones are usually
taken to give but half of their weight when cut or polished, it would
allow 138 carats.


                           ------------------


                       DR. DEE, THE NECROMANCER.


Dr. John Dee was a man who made a conspicuous figure in the 16th
century. He was born in London in 1527: he was an eminent scholar and an
indefatigable mathematician; when at Cambridge, he was mostly occupied
eighteen hours out of the twenty-four in study. While here he
superintended the exhibition of a Greek play of Aristophanes, among the
machinery of which he introduced an artificial scarabæus, or beetle,
which flew up to the palace of Jupiter with a man on his back, and a
basket of provisions. The astonished spectators ascribed this feat to
the arts of the magician; and Dee, annoyed by these suspicions, found it
convenient to withdraw to the Continent.

Dee's principal study in early life lay in astrology; and accordingly,
upon the accession of Elizabeth, Robert Dudley, her chief favourite, was
sent to consult the doctor as to the aspect of the stars, that they
might fix on an auspicious day for celebrating her coronation. Some
years after, we find him again on the Continent; and in 1571, being
taken ill at Louvaine, the queen sent over two physicians to attend him.
Elizabeth afterwards visited him at his house at Mortlake, to view his
collection of mathematical instruments and curiosities; and about this
time employed him to defend her title to countries discovered in
different parts of the globe. He says of himself, that he received the
most advantageous offers from Charles V., Ferdinand, Maximilian II., and
Rodolph, emperor of Germany; and from the czar of Muscovy an offer of
2000_l._ per annum, on condition that he would reside in his dominions.
Had Dee gone no further than this, all would have been well; but he was
ruined by his enthusiasm; he dreamed perpetually of the philosopher's
stone, and was haunted with the belief of intercourse with spirits.

One day in November, 1582, he tells us that as he was at prayer, there
appeared to him the angel Uriel at the west window of his museum, who
gave him a translucent stone, or crystal, of a convex form, that
presented apparitions, and even emitted sounds; so that the observer
could hold conversations, ask questions, and receive answers from the
figures he saw in this _mirror_.

With this speculum, black-stone, or show-stone, Dee used to "call his
spirits," and Kelly, his associate, "did all his feats upon." Kelly, who
acted as seer, reported what spirits he saw, and what they said; whilst
Dee, who sat at a table, recorded the spiritual intelligence. A folio
volume of their notes was published by Casaubon; and many more,
containing the most unintelligible jargon, remain in MS. in the British
Museum, together with the consecrated cakes of wax, marked with
mathematical figures and hieroglyphics, used in their mummeries.

At length, Dee fell into disrepute; his chemical apparatus, and other
stock in trade, were destroyed by the mob, who made an attack upon his
house; but the mirror is stated to have been saved. It subsequently
passed into the collection of the Mordaunts, Earls of Peterborough, in
whose catalogue it is called _the black stone, into which Dr. Dee used
to call his spirits_. From the Mordaunts it passed to Lady Elizabeth
Germaine, and from her to John, Duke of Argyle, whose son, Lord
Frederick Campbell, presented it to Horace Walpole; and on the breaking
up of the collection at Strawberry Hill in 1842, this precious relic was
sold: it was described in the catalogue as "a singularly interesting and
curious relic of the superstition of our ancestors on the celebrated
speculum of Kennel coal, highly polished, in a leathern case."

Bulwer, in his romance of _Zanoni_, introduces a mirror of this kind;
and every tale of superstition has its magic glass. It is worth while to
compare Dee's speculum with the celebrated ink mirror described in
Lane's work on the _Modern Egyptians_; it may, at least, illustrate the
curious inquiry upon coincident superstitions.


                           ------------------


                         VOYAGE OF MANUFACTURE.


The produce of our factories has preceded even our most enterprising
travellers. Captain Clapperton saw at the court of the Sultan Bello, in
the interior of Africa, pewter dishes with the London stamp, and had at
the royal table a piece of meat served up on a white wash-hand basin of
English manufacture. The cotton of India is conveyed by British ships
round half our planet, to be woven by British skill in the factories of
Lancashire. It is again set in motion by British capital, and
transported to the very plains whereon it grew; and is repurchased by
the lords of the soil which gave it birth, at a cheaper price than that
at which their coarser machinery enables them to manufacture it
themselves. At Calicut, (in the East Indies,) whence the cotton cloth
called calico derives its name, the price of labour is a fraction of
that in England, yet the market is supplied from British looms.


                           ------------------


                   SIR DAVID BREWSTER'S KALEIDOSCOPE.


The idea of this instrument, constructed for the purpose of creating and
exhibiting a variety of beautiful and perfectly symmetrical forms, first
occurred to Sir David Brewster in 1814, when he was engaged in
experiments on the polarization of light, by successive reflections
between plates of glass. The reflectors were, in some instances,
inclined to each other; and he had occasion to remark the circular
arrangement of the images of a candle round a centre, or the
multiplication of the sectors formed by the extremities of the glass
plates. In repeating, at a subsequent period, the experiments of M. Biot
on the action of fluids upon light, Sir David Brewster placed the fluids
in a trough, formed by two plates of glass, cemented together at an
angle; and the eye being necessarily placed at one end, some of the
cement, which had been pressed through between the plates, appeared to
be arranged into a regular figure. The remarkable symmetry which it
presented led to Dr. Brewster's investigation of the cause of this
phenomenon; and in so doing, he discovered the leading principles of the
kaleidoscope.

By the advice of his friends, Dr. Brewster took out a patent for his
invention; in the specification of which he describes the kaleidoscope
in two different forms. The instrument, however, having been shown to
several opticians in London, became known before he could avail himself
of his patent; and, being simple in principle, it was at once largely
manufactured. It is calculated that not less than 200,000 kaleidoscopes
were sold in three months in London and Paris; though, out of this
number, Dr. Brewster says, not, perhaps, one thousand were constructed
upon scientific principles, or were capable of giving anything like a
correct idea of the power of his kaleidoscope.


                           ------------------


                   LORD ROSSE'S LEVIATHAN TELESCOPE.


The late Earl of Rosse, with a devotion to science which has few
parallels, constructed this gigantic telescope, at his seat,
Parsonstown, in the south of Ireland. To the frame of the vast
instrument is fixed a large cubical wooden box, about eight feet wide;
in this there is a door, through which two men go in to remove, or to
replace, the cover of the mirror. To this box is fastened the tube,
which is made of deal staves, and hooped like a huge cask. It is about
40 feet long, and 8 feet diameter in the middle. _The Dean of Ely once
walked through the tube with an umbrella up!_ The stupendous speculum
weighs three tons; the casting and polishing of it were labours of
wonderful skill. The telescope is not turned to any part of the sky, but
limited to the range of half an hour on each side of the meridian,
through which its motion is given by powerful clockwork, independent of
the observer. For this purpose it stands between two pieces of masonry,
of gothic design, which harmonize with Lord Rosse's castle; one of these
piers sustaining the galleries for the observer, and the second the
clockwork and other apparatus. There is an elegant arrangement of
counterpoises to balance the enormous mass, so that a comparatively
slight force only is required to elevate or depress it. A correspondent
of the _Mechanics' Magazine_ thus describes the capacity of this
wonderful instrument:--

"Such is its power, that if a star of the first magnitude were removed
to such a distance, that its light would be three millions of years in
reaching us, this telescope would, nevertheless, show it to the human
eye. Is it to be wondered at, then, that, with such an instrument, grand
discoveries should be made? It has been pointed to the heavens; and,
although in the beginning of its career, it has already accomplished
mighty things. There are nebulous spots in the heavens which have
baffled all the instruments hitherto constructed, but this telescope
resolves their true character completely. Among the wonderful objects
which have been subject to its scrutiny, is the nebula in the
constellation of Orion. I have had an opportunity of examining it. It is
one of the most curious objects in the whole heavens. It is not round,
and it throws off furious lights. From the time of Herschel it has been
subjected to the examination of the most powerful instruments--but it
grew more and more mysterious and diverse in its character. When Lord
Rosse's great telescope was directed to its examination, it for a long
time resisted its power. He found it required patient examination--night
after night, and month after month. At length, a pure atmosphere gave
him the resolution of its constitution; and the stars of which it is
composed burst upon the sight of man for the first time!"


                           ------------------


                   ORIGIN OF REFLECTING LIGHTHOUSES.


In the last century, at a meeting of a society of mathematicians at
Liverpool, one of the members proposed to lay a wager, that he would
read a paragraph of a newspaper, at ten yards' distance, with the light
of a farthing candle. The wager was laid, and the proposer, having
covered the inside of a wooden dish with pieces of looking-glass,
fastened in with glaziers' putty, placed his reflector behind the
candle, and won his wager. One of the company marked this experiment
with a philosophic eye. This was Captain Hutchinson, the dockmaster,
with whom originated the reflecting lighthouses, erected at Liverpool in
1763.


                           ------------------


                          WASTE OF HUMAN LIFE.


In 1825, there was opened in Cochin-China a canal, 23 miles long, 80
feet wide, and 12 feet deep. It was begun and finished in six weeks,
although carried through large forests and over extensive marshes.
Twenty thousand men worked upon it day and night; and it is stated that
7,000 died of fatigue.


                           ------------------


                         LIFTING HEAVY PERSONS.


One of the most extraordinary pages in Sir David Brewster's _Letters on
Natural Magic_, is the experiment in which a heavy man is raised with
the greatest facility, when he is lifted up the instant that his own
lungs, and those of the persons who raise him, are inflated with air.
Thus, the heaviest person in the party lies down upon two chairs, his
legs being supported by the one, and his back by the other. Four
persons, one at each leg, and one at each shoulder, then try to raise
him--the person to be raised giving two signals, by clapping his hands.
At the first signal, he himself and the four lifters begin to draw a
long and full breath, and when the inhalation is completed, or the lungs
filled, the second signal is given for raising the person from the
chair. To his own surprise, and that of his bearers, he rises with the
greatest facility, as if he were no heavier than a feather! Sir David
Brewster states that he has seen this inexplicable experiment performed
more than once; and he appeals for testimony to Sir Walter Scott, who
had repeatedly seen the experiment, and performed the part, both of the
load and of the bearer. It was first shown in England by a gentleman who
saw it performed in a large party at Venice, under the direction of an
officer of the American navy.


                           ------------------


                     ORIGIN OF THE SOCIETY OF ARTS.


"To this Society," a well-informed writer has said, "some of our best
artists have owed the most priceless of all services that can be
rendered to men of genius at the outset of their career--appreciation on
the part of an enlightened few--introduction under favourable auspices
to the many."

The Society of Arts was established in 1754, chiefly by Mr. William
Shipley, a drawing-master; but it was not until 1774 that the
institution was fairly located in its own premises, built in handsome
style by the Adams', in John Street, Adelphi; the object being denoted
by the inscription upon the entablature of the pediment in the front of
the mansion, in these words: "Arts and Commerce promoted."

There are many interesting anecdotes of the early awards of this
Society. Thus, in 1758, Bacon, the sculptor, received for a small figure
of Peace a reward of ten guineas; and the same artist gained the highest
premium upon nine different occasions. In 1761, Nollekens received ten
guineas for an alto-relievo of Jephtha's Vow; and two years later, fifty
guineas for a more important piece of sculpture. Flaxman, in 1768,
gained for one of his earliest attempts a grant of ten guineas; and for
another work, in 1771, he obtained the Society's gold medal. Lawrence,
at the early age of thirteen, received the reward of a silver-gilt
palette, with five guineas, for his drawing in crayons of the
Transfiguration; and the painter in the height of his subsequent
prosperity, was accustomed to speak of the impulse thus given to his
love of art. In 1807, Sir William Ross, at the age of twelve, received
the Society's silver palette for a drawing of the death of Wat Tyler;
Mr. Edwin Landseer gained a similar mark of approbation in 1810, for an
etching; and to Mr. Wyon was adjudged the gold medal, in 1818, for a
medal die. But to artists there is a feature of still greater interest
in the Society's history: it was in its rooms that the first exhibition
of paintings in England took place in 1760, which was continued with
great success for some years.

Within about ninety years, the Society had distributed more than
100,000_l._ in premiums. The growth of forest trees was one of its early
objects of encouragement; and we find among the recipients of its gold
medals the Dukes of Bedford and Beaufort, the Earls of Winterton, Upper
Ossory, and Mansfield; and Dr. Watson, Bishop of Llandaff. Then came
agriculture, chemistry, manufactures, and mechanics. In the latter, the
Society taught us, or at least aided those who did so, the manufacture
of Turkey carpet, tapestry, weaving, and weaving to imitate the
Marseilles and India quilting; also, how to improve our spinning and
lace-making, our paper, and our catgut for musical instruments, our
straw-bonnets, and artificial flowers.

The colonies shared in the Society's early encouragement: potash and
pearlash were produced by its agent in North America; and it was busily
engaged, just before the breaking out of the war of independence, in
introducing the culture of the vine, the growth of silk-worms, and the
manufacture of indigo and vegetable oils. But the rewards given to poor
Bethnal-green and Spitalfields weavers, for useful inventions in their
calling, illustrate, perhaps even better than any of the foregoing
instances, the object of the Society which so honourably distinguishes
it from other associations--its readiness to receive, examine, and
reward every kind of useful invention that may be brought forward by
those who have neither friends nor money to aid them in making their
inventions known.

Nor must we forget Barry's grand series of paintings upon the Society's
large room; of which Dr. Johnson said, "there is a grasp of mind there,
which you will find nowhere else." Upon the walls, too, hang some fine
portraits of the early presidents of the Society, painted by Sir Joshua
Reynolds.


                           ------------------


                             VAST MIRRORS.


Mirrors are cast of larger dimensions at St. Petersburg than elsewhere.
In the imperial manufactory, there was cast for Prince Potemkin, a
mirror measuring 194 inches by 100. One of the same proportions, valued
at 3000 guineas, was cast for the Duke of Wellington many years since,
but was broken to atoms in its conveyance from St. Petersburg to
England.


                           ------------------


                   TRANSPORTATION OF THE COFFEE-TREE.


One of the most interesting episodes in the history of coffee is, that
of the transportation of the plant of the coffee-tree, taken from the
hothouses of Amsterdam, given to Louis XIV., and father of the three
plants, one of which was taken to the French Antilles by Captain
Declieux, who, in a scarcity of water experienced by the ship's crew,
shared the small quantity which he had to drink, between himself and his
dear coffee-plant. It is believed that from this plant has sprung all
the coffee grown in the West Indies.


                           ------------------


                      ARKWRIGHT'S SPINNING FRAME.


Mr. Arkwright tells us, that he accidentally derived the first hint of
this great invention from seeing a red-hot iron bar elongated by being
made to pass between rollers; and, though there is no mechanical analogy
between that operation and the process of spinning, it is not difficult
to imagine that, by reflecting upon it, and placing the subject in
different points of view, it might lead him to his invention.


                           ------------------


                            SPINNING FEATS.


Among the wonders of this branch of manufacture, the following deserve
mention:--In 1745, a woman at East Dereham, in Norfolk, spun a single
pound of wool into a thread of 84,000 yards in length, wanting only 80
yards of forty-eight miles, which, at the above period, was considered a
circumstance of sufficient curiosity to merit a place in the records of
the Royal Society. Since that time, however, a young lady of Norwich has
spun a pound of combed wool into a thread of 168,000 yards; and she
actually produced from the same weight of cotton a thread of 203,000
yards, equal to upwards of 115 miles:--this last thread, if woven, would
produce about twenty yards of yard-wide muslin.


                           ------------------


                       MARVELS OF THE ALCHEMISTS.


The pretended secret of the Alchemists was the transmutation of the
baser metals into gold, which they occasionally exhibited to keep the
dupes who supplied them with money in good spirits. This they performed
in various ways. Sometimes they made use of crucibles with a false
bottom. At the real bottom, they put a quantity of gold or silver. This
was covered by a portion of powdered crucible mixed with gum or wax, and
hardened. The material being put into a crucible and the heat applied,
the false bottom disappeared; and at the end of the process, the gold or
silver was found at the bottom of the crucible. Sometimes, they made a
hole in a piece of charcoal, filled it with oxide of gold or silver, and
stopped up the hole with a little wax; or they soaked the charcoal in
solutions of these metals; or they stirred the mixture in the crucible
with hollow rods, containing oxide of gold or silver within, and the end
closed with wax. By these means, the gold or silver wanted was
introduced during the operation, and considered as a product.

Sometimes the cunning wights used solutions of silver in nitric acid, or
of gold in aqua-regia, or an amalgam of gold or silver, which being
adroitly introduced, furnished the requisite quantity of metal. A common
exhibition was to dip nails into a liquid, and take them out, half
converted into gold. The nails were one-half gold and the other half
iron, neatly soldered together, and the gold was covered with something
to conceal the colour, which the liquid was capable of removing.


                           ------------------


                      INVENTION OF THE HAND GEAR.


It has been said that we are indebted for the important invention in the
steam-engine, termed hand gear, by which its valves or cocks are worked
by the machine itself, to an idle boy named Humphrey Potter, who, being
employed to stop and open a valve, saw that he could save himself the
trouble of attending and watching it, by fixing a plug upon a part of
the machine which came to the place at the proper times, in consequence
of the general movement. If this anecdote be true, what does it prove?
That Humphrey Potter might be very idle, but that he was, at the same
time, very ingenious. It was a contrivance, not the result of accident,
but of acute observation and successful experiment.--_Dr. Paris._


                           ------------------


                         POKER ACROSS THE FIRE.


Boswell and Johnson held a conversation upon this experiment as
follows:--_Boswell._ "Why, sir, do people play this trick, which I
observe now when I look at your grate, putting the shovel against it to
make the fire burn?"--_Johnson._ "They play the trick, but it does not
make the fire burn. _There_ is a better (setting the poker
perpendicularly up at right angles with the grate.) In days of
superstition, they thought, as it made a cross with the bars, it would
drive away the witch."

Upon this, Dr. Kearney notes: "it certainly does make the fire burn: by
repelling the air, it throws a blast upon the fire, and so performs the
parts, in some degree, of a blower or bellows." These observations were
made only as to the shovel, but the poker is equally efficacious. "After
all," says Croker, "it is possible that there may be some magnetic or
electrical influence, which, in the progress of science, may be
explained; and what has been thought a vulgar trick, may be proved to be
a philosophical experiment."

Whatever may be the cause, there is every-day evidence that a poker or
shovel, as the case may be, if laid across a dull fire, will revive it;
because, we think, the poker or shovel receives and concentrates the
heat, and produces an additional draught through the fire.


                           ------------------


                THE ARTESIAN WELL OF GRENELLE, AT PARIS.


The boring of this well by the Messrs. Mulot occupied seven years, one
month, twenty-six days, to the depth of 1794-1/2 English feet, or
194-1/2 feet below the depth at which M. Elie de Beaumont foretold that
water would be found. The sound, or borer, weighed 20,000 lb., and was
treble the height of that of the dome of the Hospital des Invalides, at
Paris. In May, 1837, when the bore had reached 1246 feet 8 inches, the
great chisel and 262 feet of rods fell to the bottom; and, although
these weighed five tons, M. Mulot tapped a screw on the head of the
rods, and thus, connecting another length to them, after fifteen months'
labour, drew up the chisel! On another occasion, this chisel having been
raised with great force, sunk at one stroke 85 feet 3 inches into the
chalk![7]

-----

Footnote 7:

  The depth of the Grenelle Well is nearly four times the height of
  Strasburg Cathedral; more than six times the height of the Hospital
  des Invalides, at Paris; more than four times the height of St.
  Peter's, at Rome; nearly four times and a half the height of St.
  Paul's, and nine times the height of the Monument, London. Lastly,
  suppose all the above edifices to be piled upon each other, from the
  base-line of the Well of Grenelle, and they would but reach within
  11-1/2 feet of its surface.--_Year-Book of Facts_, 1843.


                           ------------------


                            "WET THE ROPES."


The property of cords contracting their length by moisture became
generally known, it is said, on the raising of the Egyptian obelisk in
the square facing St. Peter's, at Rome, by order of Pope Sixtus V. The
great work was undertaken in the year 1586, and the day for raising the
obelisk was marked with great solemnity. High mass was celebrated at St.
Peter's, and the architect and workmen received the benediction of the
Pope. The blast of a trumpet was the given signal, when engines were set
in motion by an incredible number of horses; but not until after
fifty-two unsuccessful attempts had been made, was the huge block lifted
from the earth. As the ropes which held it had somewhat stretched, the
base of the obelisk could not reach the summit of the pedestal, when a
man in the crowd cried out, "_Wet the ropes!_" This advice was followed,
and the column, as of itself, gradually rose to the required height, and
was placed upright on the pedestal prepared for it.


                           ------------------


                        THE DEATH OF DR. BLACK.


In the society of friends such as Adam Smith, Hume, Carlyle, Home,
Hutton, Playfair, and Dugald Stewart, the closing days of this great and
gentle chemist wore tranquilly away. Towards the end, he sank into a low
state of health, and only preserved himself from the severe shocks of
the weather in the changeable climate of Edinburgh, by a degree of care
and abstemiousness rarely surpassed even by the devoutest Brahmin. "It
was his generous and manly wish, that he might never live to be a burden
to his friends; and never was the wish more completely gratified. On the
26th November 1799, in the seventy-first year of his age, he expired
without any convulsion, shock, or stupor, to announce or retard the
approach of death. Being at table with his usual fare--some bread, a few
prunes, and a measured quantity of milk diluted with water; and having
the cup in his hand when the last stroke of the pulse was to be given,
he had set it down upon his knees, which were joined together, and kept
it steady with his hand in the manner of a person perfectly at ease; and
in this attitude expired, without spilling a drop, and without a writhe
in his countenance; as if an experiment had been required, to show to
his friends the facility with which he departed. His servant opened the
door to tell him that some one had left his name; but getting no answer,
stepped about half way towards him, and, seeing him sitting in that easy
posture, supporting his basin of milk with one hand, he thought that he
had dropped asleep, which he had sometimes seen happen after his meals.
The man went back and shut the door; but before he got down stairs, some
anxiety that he could not account for made him return, and look again at
his master. Even then, he was satisfied, after coming pretty near, and
turned to go away; but again returned, and coming quite close, found his
master without life."


                           ------------------


                        ORIGIN OF THE TELEGRAPH.


When Arthur Young made his well-known journey in France, in the year
1787 to 1789, he met, he tells us, with a Monsieur Lomond, "a very
ingenious and inventing mechanic," who had made a remarkable discovery
in electricity. "You write two or three words on a paper," says Young:
"he takes it with him into a room, and turns a machine enclosed in a
cylindrical case, at the top of which is an electrometer, a small, fine,
pith ball; a wire connects with a similar cylinder and electrometer in a
distant apartment; and his wife, by remarking the corresponding motions
of the ball, writes down the words they indicate; from which it appears
that he has formed an alphabet of motions. As the length of the wire
makes no difference in the effect, a correspondence might be carried on
at any distance. Whatever the use may be, the invention is beautiful."
This discovery, however, lay unnoticed until about the year 1845; though
the apparatus was designed to effect the same end as the electric
telegraph, by means very similar.

The possibility of applying electricity to telegraphic communication was
conceived by several other persons, long before it was attempted upon a
practical scale. The Rev. Mr. Gamble, in his description of his original
shutter-telegraph, published towards the close of the last century,
alludes to a project of electrical communication. Mr. Francis Ronalds,
in a pamphlet on this subject, published in 1823, states that Cavallo
proposed to convey intelligence by passing given numbers of sparks
through an insulated wire; and that, in 1816, he himself made
experiments upon this principle, which he deemed more promising than the
application of galvanic or voltaic electricity, which had been projected
by some Germans and Americans. He succeeded perfectly in transmitting
signals through a length of eight miles of insulated wire; and he
describes minutely the contrivances necessary for adapting the principle
to telegraphic communication.

It is, however, to the combined labours of Mr. W. F. Cooke and Professor
Wheatstone that electric telegraphs owe their practical application;
and, in a statement of the facts respecting their relative positions in
connection with the invention, drawn up at their request by Sir M. I.
Brunel and Professor Daniell, it is observed that "Mr. Cooke is entitled
to stand alone, as the gentleman to whom this country is indebted for
having practically introduced and carried out the electric telegraph as
a useful undertaking, promising to be a work of national importance; and
Professor Wheatstone is acknowledged as the scientific man whose
profound and successful researches had already prepared the public to
receive it as a project capable of practical application."--_Penny
Cyclopædia._


                           ------------------


                   NECESSITY THE MOTHER OF INVENTION.


When Vitiges, king of the Goths, besieged Belisarius in Rome in 536, and
caused the fourteen large aqueducts to be stopped, the city was
subjected to great distress, not on account of the want of water in
general, for it was secured against that inconvenience by the Tiber, but
on account of the loss of that water which the baths required, and,
above all, of that necessary to drive the mills, which were all situated
on these canals. Horses and cattle, which might have been employed in
grinding, were not to be found; but Belisarius, a man of great
ingenuity, devised an expedient to remedy this distress. Below the
bridge that reached to the wall of Janiculum, he extended ropes, well
fastened, and stretched across the river from both banks. To these he
affixed two boats of equal size, at the distance of two feet from each
other, where the current flowed with the greatest rapidity, under the
arch of the bridge; and, placing large millstones on one of the boats,
suspended in the middle space a machine by which they were turned. He
constructed at certain intervals on the river other machines of the same
description, which, being put in motion by the force of the water that
ran below them, drove as many mills as were necessary to grind
provisions for the city. To destroy these, the besiegers threw into the
stream logs of wood, and dead bodies, which floated down the river into
the city; but the besieged, by making use of booms to stop them, were
enabled to drag them out before they did any mischief. This is said to
have been the first invention of floating mills.


                           ------------------


                       A "DRY-MAKING" IN HOLLAND.


The conversion into solid land of the Lake of Beemster, in North
Holland, is, after the Haarlemmermeer Polder (which is twice and a half
its size), the largest specimen in the Netherlands of what the Dutch
term "dry-makings." The scheme was first broached in 1570. In 1592 funds
were applied for, which were not, however, promised by the States of
Holland and West Friesland until 1597. In 1607, a company was formed at
the Hague, by Dirck van Oss and others, to pump out the Beemster in
whole or in part; and on their security the States lent the necessary
capital. At the commencement, it was thought that sixteen windmills
would suffice for the undertaking; but this number was shortly increased
by ten, and the twenty-six mills were then divided into thirteen gangs.
By the end of 1608, several of the mills began to pump, and early in
1609, they were all ready. Towards the end of this year, the bottom of
the lake became visible in some places: but during a storm on the 23d of
January 1610, the great waterland sea dyke gave way, and the pressure on
the ring dyke that had been constructed round the Beemster proved
greater than it was capable of resisting. It gave way in turn in two
places, and the lake was again filled. On the 5th February 1610, further
and ample funds were advanced by the States; in 1611, more mills were
put on to the work; on the 19th of May 1612, the dry-making was at last
completed; and on the 30th July of that year, the distribution of the
lots of land redeemed took place. The ring dyke is over 37,000 yards
long, and has an average height of × 1·50 Z. P. (a metre and a half
above the mean level of the sea). Thus was the Beemster pumped out; and
from that day to the present, the name of Dirck van Oss has been held in
deep respect in Holland, as the name of the first Dutchman who conquered
the waters on anything like a large scale. The system he employed has
been closely followed in all successive undertakings of this kind; and,
with the exception of the application of steam, and certain improvements
in machinery, the plans of Dirck van Oss for draining the Beemster were
adapted with a like success to the Lake of Haarlem, by M. Gevers
d'Endegeest, the hero of this last conquest, and the sanguine prophet
(1867) of the ultimate reclamation of the Zuyder Zee. The drainage of
the Lake of Haarlem, it may be mentioned, was accomplished in 1852,
after thirteen years of toil and anxiety, at a cost of 11,000,000
florins (£916,666); a sum which, large as it is, has nevertheless been
completely recovered, both in capital and interest, by the sale of
42,481 acres of arable land.--_Report to Foreign Office._


                           ------------------


                         A SCIENTIFIC PILGRIM.


When Lord Napier (of Merchiston) first published his _Logarithms_, Mr.
Briggs, Professor of Mathematics at Gresham College, London, was so
surprised with admiration, that he could not rest till he had seen the
noble inventor, and actually went to Scotland for that purpose in 1615.
Lilly, the astrologer, thus describes the interview:--"Mr. Briggs
appointed a certain day when to meet at Edinburgh; but, failing thereof,
Merchiston was afraid he would not come. It happened one day, as John
Marr and the Lord Napier were speaking of Mr. Briggs: 'Ah! John,' said
Merchiston, 'Mr. Briggs will not come.' At the very instant, one knocks
at the gate; John Marr hastens down, and it proved to be Mr. Briggs, to
his great contentment; he brings Mr. Briggs up into my Lord's chamber,
where almost one quarter of an hour was spent, each beholding the other
with admiration before one word was spoken. At last, Mr. Briggs began,
'My Lord, I have undertaken this long journey purposely to see your
person, and to know by what engine of wit or ingenuity you came first to
think of this most excellent help unto astronomy, viz. the logarithms;
but, my Lord, being by you found out, I wonder nobody else found it out
before, when now, being known, it appears so easy.'" Briggs was nobly
entertained by Lord Napier; and every summer after, during his
lordship's life, this venerable man went to Scotland purposely to see
him.


                           ------------------


                   THE BURNING MIRRORS OF ARCHIMEDES.


Many have questioned the facts recorded by several historians,
concerning the surprising effects of the burning mirrors of Archimedes,
by means of which the Roman galleys besieging Syracuse were consumed to
ashes. Descartes, in particular, discredited the story as fabulous; but
Kircher made many experiments with a view of testing its credibility. He
tried the effect of a number of plane mirrors; and, with five mirrors of
the same size, placed in a frame, he contrived to throw the rays
reflected from them to the same spot, at the distance of more than 100
feet; and by this means he produced such a degree of heat, as led him to
conclude that, by increasing their number, he could have set fire to
inflammable substances at a greater distance. He likewise made a voyage
to Syracuse, in company with his pupil Schottius, in order to examine
the place of the alleged transaction; and they were both of opinion,
that the galleys of Marcellus could not have been more than thirty paces
from Archimedes' mirrors.

M. Buffon also constructed a machine, consisting of a number of mirrors,
by which he seems to have revived the secret of Archimedes, and to have
vindicated the credit of history in this respect. His experiment was
first made with twenty-four mirrors, which readily set fire to
combustible matter composed of pitch and tow, and laid on a deal board
at the distance of seventy-two feet. He further pursued the attempt by
framing a kind of polyhedron, consisting of 168 pieces of plane
looking-glass, each six inches square; and by means of this machine,
some boards of beech-wood were set on fire at the distance of 150 feet,
and a silver plate was melted at the distance of 60 feet. This machine,
in the next stage of its improvement, contained 360 plane mirrors, each
eight inches long and six broad, mounted on a frame eight feet high and
seven broad. With twelve of these mirrors, light combustible matter was
kindled at the distance of twenty feet; with forty-five of them, at the
same distance, a large tin vessel was melted, and with 117, a thin piece
of silver. When the whole machine was employed, all the metals and
metallic minerals were melted at the distance of twenty-five and even of
forty feet. Wood was kindled in a clear sky at the distance of 210 feet.
M. Buffon afterwards constructed a machine which contained 400 mirrors,
each six inches square, with which he could melt lead and tin at the
distance of 140 feet.

But perhaps the most powerful burning mirror ever constructed, was that
of Mr. Parker, an eminent glass manufacturer of London; it was made in
the begining of this century by one Penn, an ingenious artisan of
Islington. He erected an outhouse at the bottom of his garden, for the
purpose of carrying on his operations, and at length succeeded in
producing, at a cost of £700, a burning lens of a diameter of three
feet, whose powers were astonishing. The most hard and solid substances
of the mineral world, such as platina, iron, steel, flint, &c., were
melted in a few seconds, on being exposed to its immense focus. A
diamond weighing ten grains, exposed to this lens for thirty minutes,
was reduced to six grains, during which operation it opened and foliated
like the leaves of a flower, and emitted whitish fumes; when closed
again, it bore a polish, and retained its form. Ten cut garnets, taken
from a bracelet, began to run into each other in a few seconds, and at
last formed one globular garnet. The clay used by Wedgewood to make his
pyrometric test ran in a few seconds into a white enamel; and several
specimens of lavas, and other volcanic productions, on being exposed to
the focus of the lens, yielded to its power.

A subscription was proposed in London to raise the sum of 700 guineas,
in order to indemnify the inventor for the expense he had incurred in
its construction, and retain it in England; but, through the failure of
the subscription, and other concurring circumstances, Mr. Parker was
induced to dispose of it to Captain Mackintosh, who accompanied Lord
Macartney in his celebrated embassy to China; and the mirror, much to
the loss and regret of European science, was left at Pekin.


                           ------------------


                     MAGNETIC CORRESPONDENCE IN THE
                          SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.


In one of Addison's contributions to the _Spectator_ (No. 241), we find
the following curious instance of what may almost be considered as the
foreshadowing of the electric telegraph. It is quoted from the writings
of Strada, the celebrated Roman Jesuit, who died in 1649. In his
"Prolusiones," a series of polished Latin essays upon rhetoric and
literature, he gives an account of a chimerical correspondence between
two friends, by the help of a certain loadstone, which had such virtue
in it, that if touched by two several needles, when one of the needles
so touched began to move, the other, though at ever so great a distance,
moved at the same time and in the same manner. He tells us that two
friends, being each of them possessed of these needles, made a kind of
dial-plate, inscribing it with twenty-four letters--in the same manner
as the hours of the day are marked upon the ordinary dial-plate. They
then fixed one of the needles on each of these plates, in such a manner
that it could move round without impediment so as to touch any of the
twenty-four letters. Upon their separating from one another into distant
countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves punctually into their
closets at a certain hour of the day, and to converse with one another
by means of this their invention. Accordingly, when they were some
hundred miles asunder, each of them shut himself up in his closet at the
time appointed, and immediately cast his eye upon his dial-plate. If he
had a mind to write anything to his friend, he directed his needle to
every letter that formed the words that he had occasion for--making a
little pause at the end of every word or sentence, to avoid confusion.
The friend, in the meanwhile, saw his own sympathetic needle moving of
itself to every letter which that of his correspondent pointed at. By
this means, they talked together across a whole continent, and conveyed
their thoughts to one another, in an instant, over cities or mountains,
seas or deserts.... In the meanwhile (adds the Essayist, playfully), if
ever this invention should be revived, or put in practice, I would
propose that upon the lovers' dial-plate there should be written, not
only the twenty-four letters, but several entire words which have always
a place in passionate epistles; as flames, darts, die, languish,
absence, Cupid, heart, eyes, hang, drown--and the like. This would very
much abridge the lover's pains in this way of writing a letter--as it
would enable him to express the most useful and significant words with a
single turn of the needle.


                           ------------------


                     NAVIGATION BEFORE THE COMPASS.


Before the invention of the mariner's compass, the Phoenician, the Greek,
and the early Italian navigators were compelled to creep from headland
to headland, without venturing to quit the shore--except when an island,
so near as to be distinctly seen from the continent, offered them an
equally secure retreat from the violence of an accidental tempest. Yet,
the bolder Norwegians, though exposed to far greater perils, from the
habitual inclemency of a high northern latitude, and from the frequent
cloudiness of their atmosphere, were in the habit of attempting, and
often with success, a voyage of some length upon the ocean. It may be
supposed that a patient observation of natural phenomena, attention to
the flight of migratory birds and to the direction of currents, and some
few simple devices which, being no longer necessary, are now forgotten,
served as substitutes for the more valuable guides of modern navigation.
Of one of the devices here enumerated, it is related that when Flok, a
famous Norwegian navigator, was about to set out from Shetland for
Iceland, then called Gardarsholm, he took on board some crows, "because
the mariner's compass was not yet in use." When he thought he had made a
considerable part of his way, he threw up one of his crows, which,
seeing land astern, flew to it; whence Flok, concluding that he was
nearer to Shetland (or perhaps Faroë) than any other land, kept on his
course for some time, and then sent out another crow, which, seeing no
land at all, returned to the vessel. At last, having run the greater
part of his way, another crow was sent out by him, which, seeing land
ahead, immediately flew for it; and Flok, following his guide, fell in
with the east end of the island. Such was the simple mode of steering
their course, practised by those bold navigators of the stormy northern
ocean. This story at once and strikingly recalls the use made of birds
by the first sea captain of whom we read--Noah; but such expedients
evidently could not be supposed to have inspired the old northern
navigators with the courage and confidence that enabled them, as there
is reason to believe, to discover America before Columbus.


                           ------------------


                   SEMAPHORE _v._ ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.


An anecdote will suffice to illustrate the advantages of the electric
over the visual variety of telegraph--the one being only workable in
certain states of the weather; the other available in all states. Upon
one occasion, when the British army were fighting in Spain, intelligence
was every day feverishly expected from Wellington through the medium of
the semaphore at the Admiralty. Long delayed, it came at last, and was
apparently of a fearful character. It ran thus: "Wellington defeated."
Parliament and the people were stunned for a time, and rumours flew
about like wildfire to this effect. It turned out, however, that just as
the word "defeated" was deciphered, a fog intervened, and cut off the
rest of the communication. When the dark pall disappeared, the bright
sky disclosed to a jubilant people, not "Wellington defeated," but
"Wellington defeated--the French!"


                           ------------------


                      A WRENCH TO OLD ST. PAUL'S.


When, after much mean and yet costly endeavour to patch up the cathedral
of St. Paul's, after the great fire, Sir Christopher Wren at last had
his advice accepted, to rebuild the whole structure, the demolition of
the old fabric gave ample play to his scientific knowledge and
engineering skill. One of his exploits, perhaps now more remarkable
because at the time it was at once rare and bold, has thus been
described:--"In order that the rubbish and old materials might not
hinder the setting out of the foundations, for the purpose of proceeding
with the works, Sir Christopher constructed scaffolds high enough to
extend his lines over the heaps that were in the way; and thereby caused
perpendiculars to be fixed upon the points below for his various walls
and piers, from lines drawn carefully upon the level plan of the
scaffold. Thus he proceeded, gaining every day more and more room, till
he came to the middle tower that formerly carried the lofty spire. The
ruins of this tower being nearly two hundred feet high, the labourers
were afraid to work above, which induced him to facilitate the labour by
the use of gunpowder. To perform this work, he caused a hole to be dug,
of about four feet wide, by the side of the north-west pier of the
tower, in which was perforated a hole two feet square, reaching to the
centre of the pier. In this he placed a small deal box containing
eighteen pounds of gunpowder. To this box he affixed a hollow cane,
which contained a quick match, reaching to the surface of the ground
above; and along the ground a train of powder was laid, with a match.
The mine was then closed up, and exploded, while the philosophical
architect waited with confidence the result of his experiment. This
small quantity of powder not only lifted up the whole angle of the
tower, with two great arches that rested upon it, but also two adjoining
arches of the aisle, and the masonry above them. This it appeared to do
in a slow but efficient manner, cracking the walls to the top, lifting
visibly the whole weight about nine inches, which suddenly dropping,
made a great heap of ruins in the place, without scattering or accident.
It was half a minute before the heap already fallen opened in two or
three places, and emitted smoke. By this successful experiment, the
force of gunpowder may be ascertained; eighteen pounds only of which
lifted up a weight of more than three thousand tons, and saved the work
of a thousand labourers. The fall of so great a weight from a height of
two hundred feet gave such a concussion to the ground, that the
inhabitants round about took it for the shock of an earthquake."


                           ------------------


                            SNOW SPECTACLES.


Ellis, in his _Voyage to Hudson's Bay_, written in the middle of last
century, says of the Esquimaux:--"Their snow eyes, as they very properly
call them, are a proof of their sagacity. They are little pieces of wood
or ivory, properly formed to cover the organs of vision, and tied on
behind the head. They have two slits, of the exact length of the eyes,
but very narrow; and they see through them very distinctly, and without
the least inconvenience. This invention preserves them from
snow-blindness, a very dangerous and powerful malady, caused by the
action of the light strongly reflected from the snow, especially in the
spring, when the sun is considerably elevated above the horizon. The use
of these eyes considerably strengthens the sight, and the Esquimaux are
so accustomed to them, that when they have a mind to view distant
objects, they commonly use them instead of spy-glasses."


                           ------------------


                        A SELF-TAUGHT MECHANIST.


The following description is given of an ingenious and singular piece of
mechanism--constructed by a boy of the name of John Young, who in 1819
resided at Newton-on-Ayr--which attracted much notice among the
scientific of the day:--"A box, about three feet long by two broad, and
six or eight inches deep, had a frame and paper covering erected on it,
in the form of a house. On the upper part of the box are a number of
wooden figures, about two or three inches high, representing people
employed in those trades and sciences with which the boy is familiar.
The whole are put in motion at the same time by machinery within the
box, acted upon by a handle like that of a hand-organ. A weaver upon his
loom, with a fly-shuttle, uses his hands and feet, and keeps his eye
upon the shuttle, as it passes across the web. A soldier, sitting with a
sailor at a public-house table, fills a glass, drinks it off, then
knocks upon the table, upon which an old woman opens a door, makes her
appearance, and they retire. Two shoemakers upon their stools are seen,
the one beating leather, and the other stitching a shoe. A
cloth-dresser, a stone-cutter, a cooper, a tailor, a woman churning, and
one teasing wool, are all at work. There is also a carpenter sawing a
piece of wood, and two blacksmiths beating a piece of iron, the one
using a sledge, and the other a small hammer; a boy turning a
grindstone, while a man grinds an instrument upon it; and a barber
shaving a man, whom he holds fast by the nose with one hand. The boy was
only about seventeen years of age when he completed this curious work,
and since the bent of his mind could be first marked, his only amusement
was that of working with a knife, and making little mechanical figures.
This is the more extraordinary, as he had no opportunity whatever of
seeing any person employed in a similar way. He was bred a weaver with
his father, and since he could be employed at the trade, has had no time
for his favourite study, except after the work ceased, or during the
intervals; and the only tool he ever had to assist him was a
pocket-knife. In his earlier years he produced several curiosities on a
smaller scale; but the one now described is his greatest work, to which
he devoted all his spare time during two years."


                           ------------------


                          THE AMSTERDAM PILE.


In an interesting report on the "Waterstaat" of the Netherlands,
presented to the British Government, we read: "To appreciate the beauty
of the Dutch science of hydrodynamics, it is necessary to understand
that, from first to last, it is a question of comparative levels. The
error of a centimètre in level might drown a province, or frustrate the
purpose for which some canal had been designed. Thus it may be said,
without exaggeration, that the most important institution in the kingdom
of the Netherlands is a certain antiquated pile at Amsterdam--but one of
many million pine-trees brought from Norway, on which the city is
perched,--which indicates the rise and fall of the outer waters of the
Zuyder Zee and German Ocean. For 200 years this pile has been watched
with anxiety by the burghers of the Netherlands, and a graduated scale
has been marked upon it, in which the mean water level is represented by
zero. It is known as the 'Amsterdamsche Peil,' and every hydraulic
undertaking in the country is measured by its standard, as having a
level of so many mètres or centimètres above or below the usual level of
the sea. The initials A. P. (Amsterdamsche Peil), O. A. (Zero of
Amsterdam), or Z. P. (Zero of Pile), are the forms of abbreviation most
generally used to represent the starting-point in all hydraulic
calculations; and one of these, with the signs + and -, must therefore
necessarily occur in every intelligible description of Dutch public
works."


                           ------------------


                       THE PERILS OF EXPERIMENT.


M. Rouelle, an eminent French chemist, was not the most cautious of
operators. One day, while performing some experiments, he said to his
auditors: "Gentlemen, you see this cauldron upon the brazier; well, if I
were to cease stirring for one moment, an explosion would ensue, that
would blow us all into the air." The audience had scarce had time to
reflect on this comfortable piece of information, when the operator
actually did forget to stir, and his prediction was amply verified. The
explosion took place with a terrible crash; all the windows of the
laboratory were smashed to pieces, and two hundred auditors were whirled
away into the garden. Fortunately, no one received any serious injury,
the chief violence of the explosion having been in the direction of the
chimney. The demonstrator himself marvellously escaped without further
harm than the loss of his wig.--A certain Scotch Professor--not of the
present generation--as remarkable for the felicity of his
experimentation as Rouelle could be for his failures, was once
performing an experiment with some combustible materials, when the
mixture exploded, and the phial which he held in his hand flew into a
thousand pieces. "Gentlemen," said the Doctor to his students, with the
most unaffected gravity, "I can assure you that I have performed this
experiment often with the same phial, and never knew it break in my
hands before." The simplicity of this somewhat superfluous assurance
gave rise to a general laugh, in which the Professor, instantly
discerning the cause of it in his own excellent Irishism, most heartily
joined.


                           ------------------


                     THE SIBERIAN MAMMOTH REMAINS.


About 40,000 lbs. of fossil ivory--that is to say, the tusks of at least
100 Mammoths--are bartered for every year in New Siberia, so that in a
period of 200 years of trade with that country, the tusks of 20,000
Mammoths must have been disposed of--perhaps even twice that number,
since only 200 lbs. of ivory is calculated as the average weight
produced by one pair of tusks. As many as ten of these tusks have been
found lying together, weighing from 150 to 300 lbs. each. The largest
are rarely sent out of the country, many of them being too rotten to be
made use of, while others are so large that they cannot be carried away,
and are sawn up in blocks or slabs on the spot with very considerable
waste, so that the loss of weight in the produce of a tusk before the
ivory comes to market is of no trifling amount. A large portion of this
ivory is used by the nomad tribes in their sledges, arms, and household
implements, and formerly a great quantity used to be exported to China;
a trade which can be traced back to a very distant period.
Notwithstanding the enormous amount already carried away, the stores of
fossil ivory do not appear to diminish; in many places near the mouths
of the great rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean, the bones and tusks
of these antediluvian pachyderms lie scattered about like the relics of
a ploughed-up battlefield, while in other parts these creatures of a
former world seem to have huddled together in herds for protection
against the sudden destruction that befell them, since their remains are
found lying together in heaps. In 1821, a hunter from Yakutsk, on the
Lena, found in the New Siberian Islands alone 500 poods (18,000 lbs.
English) of Mammoth tusks, none of which weighed more than 3 poods; and
this, notwithstanding that another hunter on a previous visit in 1809
had brought away with him 250 poods of ivory from the same islands.
Entire mammoths have occasionally been discovered, not only with the
skin (which was protected with a double covering of hair and wool)
entire, but with the fleshy portions of the body in such a state of
preservation that they have afforded food to dogs and wild beasts in the
neighbourhood of the places where they were found. They appear to have
been suddenly enveloped in ice, or to have sunk into mud which was on
the point of congealing, and which, before the process of decay could
commence, froze around the bodies, and has preserved them up to the
present time in the condition in which they perished. It is thus they
are occasionally found when a landslip occurs in the frozen soil of the
Siberian coast, which never thaws, even during the greatest heat of the
summer, to a depth of more than 2 feet; and in this way, within a period
of a century and a half, five or six of these curious corpses have come
to light from their icy graves. A very perfect specimen of the Mammoth
in this state was discovered in the autumn of 1865, near the mouth of
the Jenissei; an expedition was despatched to the spot by the Imperial
Academy of Sciences in the summer of 1866, and the result of that
expedition, it is considered, will be the disclosure of some interesting
facts in the natural history of a former creation.--_Mr. Lumley's Report
on Russian Trade._


                           ------------------


                        VELOCITY OF ELECTRICITY.


One of our most profound electricians is reported to have exclaimed,
"Give me but an unlimited length of wire, with a small battery, and I
will girdle the universe with a sentence in forty minutes." Yet this is
no vain boast; for so rapid is the transit of the electric current along
the lines of the telegraph wire, that, supposing it were possible to
carry the wires eight times round the earth, it would but occupy _one
second of time_. The immense velocity of electricity makes it impossible
to calculate it by direct observation; it would require to be many
thousands of leagues long before the result could be expressed in the
fractions of a second. Yet Professor Wheatstone devised some apparatus
for this purpose, among which was a double metallic mirror, to which he
gave a velocity of eight hundred revolutions in a second of time. The
Professor concluded, from his experiments with this apparatus, that the
velocity of electricity through a copper wire, one-fifteenth of an inch
thick, exceeds the velocity of light across the planetary spaces; that
it is at least 288,000 miles per second. The Professor adds, that the
light of electricity, in a state of great intensity, does not last the
millionth part of a second; but that the eye is capable of distinctly
perceiving objects which present themselves for this short space of
time.


                           ------------------


                        MONOCHROMATIC PAINTING.


A very delicate experiment, yet a very natural one, which Buffon appears
to have first noticed, led in all probability to the invention of the
monochromatic mode of painting, or painting with a single colour. If, at
the moment which precedes sunset, at the close of a cloudless day, a
body is placed near a wall, or against another polished body, or on a
smooth chalky soil, the shadow carried by this body is blue, instead of
being black or colourless. This effect is produced by the light of the
sun being so weakened, that the blue rays which are reflected from the
sky--which has always this colour on a clear day--fall, and are again
driven back or reflected on that part of the wall which the dying light
of the sun cannot strike; for even at its last moment, the light which
falls straight and direct, is sufficiently strong to destroy that of the
heavens, which is only reflected, wherever they meet.


                           ------------------


                         THE MARINER'S COMPASS.


The time at which the attractive property of the magnet was discovered,
is by no means known; certain, however, it is, that mankind were
acquainted with it at a very early period. Father Kircher endeavours to
prove that the Jews were aware of the magnet's singular property of
attracting iron; and from Plutarch, it appears that the Egyptians were
not ignorant of it. Pythagoras, Ptolemy, and several other ancient
philosophers, knew and admired this wonderful property of the magnet.
Thales and Anaxagoras were so struck with it, as to imagine that the
magnet had a soul; and Plato said that the cause of its attraction was
divine. But the _directive_ property of the magnet was not known to the
ancients. To the simple application of this property, which was either
discovered or introduced into Europe about 500 years ago, mankind is
indebted principally for the discovery of a new continent nearly equal
to the old one, for an extensive commerce between the most distant
nations, and for an accurate knowledge of the shape and size of the
world we inhabit. The use of the magnetic needle was not known in Europe
before the thirteenth century. The honour of its discovery has been much
contested; but by the consent of most writers, it seems to belong to
Flavio Gioja of Amalfi. He lived in the reign of Charles of Anjou, who
died in 1309; and it was, it is said, in compliment to this Sovereign
that Gioja distinguished the North Pole by the emblem of France, the
_fleur-de-lis_. Du Halde, in his book upon China, indeed, intimates that
the use of the magnetic needle was known to the ancient Chinese.
Speaking of the Emperor Hoang-ti, when he gave battle to Tchi-Yeou, he
says: "He, perceiving that thick fogs saved the enemy from his pursuit,
and that the soldiers rambled out of the way and lost the course of the
wind, made a car which showed them the four cardinal points. By this
method he overtook Tchi-Yeou, made him prisoner, and put him to death.
Some say that there were engraven on this car, on a plate, the
characters of a rat and a horse, and underneath was placed a needle to
determine the four parts of the world. This would amount to the use of
the compass, or something near it, being of great antiquity and well
attested." In another place, speaking of certain ambassadors, Du Halde
says: "After they had their audience of leave, in order to return to
their own country, Tcheou-Kong gave them an instrument, which on one
side pointed towards the north, and on the opposite side towards the
south, to direct them better on the way home, than they had been
directed in coming to China. The instrument was called _Tchi-ran_, which
is the same name as the Chinese now call the sea-compass by; this has
given occasion to think that Tcheou-Kong was the inventor of the
compass." This happened in the twenty-second cycle, about 1040 years
before Christ; but, notwithstanding the assertions of Du Halde, strong
reasons have been adduced against the mariner's compass being known
among the ancient people of China and of Arabia. The French also have
laid claim to the discovery of the compass, and in the Imperial Library
at Paris there is a poem, contained in a curious quarto manuscript of
the thirteenth century, on vellum, in which the mariner's compass is
evidently mentioned; but still it appears that the Neapolitan, Flavio
Gioja, if not the original discoverer, was at least the first who used
the mariner's compass, or constructed it for the use of vessels in the
Mediterranean.


                           ------------------


                     THE DISCOVERY OF LITHOGRAPHY.


The invention, or more properly the discovery, of lithography, claims a
high rank among those of the present age, on account of its extensive
usefulness. The honour of the invention belongs to Alois Sennefelder,
originally a performer at the Theatre Royal of Munich. He had conceived
the idea of etching on stone instead of on copper, and was proceeding to
make the experiment, when an accidental discovery gave a more beneficial
turn to his speculations. The discovery, which was that of the
lithographic art, has been thus narrated by Sennefelder himself:--

"I had just succeeded, in my little laboratory, in polishing a stone
plate, which I intended to cover with etching ground, when my mother
entered the room, and desired me to write her a bill for the
washerwoman, who was waiting for the linen. I happened not to have even
the smallest slip of paper at hand, as my little stock of paper had been
entirely exhausted by taking proof impressions from the stones; nor was
there even a drop of ink in the ink-stand. As the matter would not admit
of delay, and we had nobody in the house to send for a supply of the
deficient materials, I resolved to write the list with my ink prepared
with wax, soap, and lamp-black, on the stone which I had just polished,
and from which I could copy it at leisure."

"Some time after this, I was going to wipe this writing from the stone,
when the idea, all at once, struck me to try what would be the effect of
such a writing with my prepared ink if I were to bite it in the stone
with aquafortis; and whether, perhaps, it might not be possible to apply
printing ink to it in the same way as to wood engravings, and to take
impressions from it." Sennefelder surrounded the stone with a border of
wax, and applied aquafortis, by which in a few minutes the writing was
raised. Printing ink was then applied with a common printer's ball,
impressions were taken off, and the practicability of the important art
of lithography thus was fully established.

The first application of the art to purposes of usefulness unconnected
with the fine arts, was made by the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular
War, for the purpose of rapidly multiplying copies of general orders,
instructions, etc., and accompanying them with sketches of positions. It
has since been introduced into the public offices of almost every state
in Europe; and its uses in every department of commercial, social, and
artistic activity are innumerable.



                                THE END.



                      MURRAY AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
              PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.

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                         ---------------------

           The following Works are comprised in the Series:--

                                                               Vols.

     WYATT,                                                    1
     SPENSER,                                                  5
     SHAKESPEARE, SURREY,                                      1
     HERBERT,                                                  1
     WALLER, DENHAM,                                           1
     MILTON,                                                   2
     BUTLER,                                                   2
     DRYDEN,                                                   2
     PRIOR,                                                    1
     THOMSON,                                                  1
     JOHNSON, PARNELL, GRAY, SMOLLETT,                         1
     POPE,                                                     2
     SHENSTONE,                                                1
     AKENSIDE,                                                 1
     GOLDSMITH, COLLINS, T. WARTON,                            1
     ARMSTRONG, DYER, GREEN,                                   1
     CHURCHILL,                                                1
     BEATTIE, BLAIR, FALCONER,                                 1
     BURNS,                                                    2
     COWPER                                                    2
     BOWLES,                                                   2
     SCOTT,                                                    3
     CHAUCER'S CANTERBURY TALES,                               3
     CRAWSHAW, QUARLES' EMBLEMS,                               1
     ADDISON, GAY'S FABLES, SOMERVILLE'S CHASE,                1
     YOUNG'S NIGHT THOUGHTS,                                   1
     PERCY'S RELIQUES OF ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY,               3
     SPECIMENS, WITH LIVES OF THE LESS KNOWN BRITISH POETS,    3
     H. K. WHITE AND J. GRAHAME'S POETICAL WORKS,              1

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------------------------------------------------------------------------

                _COMPLETION OF THE COPYRIGHT EDITION OF_
                                WILSON'S
                         TALES OF THE BORDERS.
                     EDITED BY ALEXANDER LEIGHTON,
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In announcing the completion of the Copyright Edition of the BORDER
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Equally suited to all classes of readers, it has been received with
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The new Copyright Edition will contain four additional Volumes, now
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Those who already possess the first twenty Volumes are recommended to
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                      ----------------------------


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                           ------------------

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                             --------------

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[Illustration]

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                             --------------

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------------------------------------------------------------------------

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[Illustration]

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                   I.                              VII.
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