Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 713, August 25, 1877
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 713, August 25, 1877" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL

OF

POPULAR

LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

Fourth Series

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.

NO. 713.      SATURDAY, AUGUST 25, 1877.      PRICE 1½_d._]



A STRANGE FAMILY HISTORY.


For the following curious episode of family history we are indebted to
a descendant of one of the chief personages involved; his story runs as
follows.

Somewhat less than one hundred years ago, a large schooner, laden with
oranges from Spain, and bound for Liverpool, was driven by stress of
weather into the Solway Firth, and after beating about for some time,
ran at last into the small port of Workington, on the Cumberland
coast. For several previous days some of the crew had felt themselves
strangely 'out of sorts,' as they termed it; were depressed and
languid, and greatly inclined to sleep; but the excitement of the
storm and the instinct of self-preservation had kept them to their
duties on deck. No sooner, however, had the vessel been safely moored
in the harbour than a reaction set in; the disease which had lurked
within them proclaimed its power, and three of them betook themselves
to their hammocks more dead than alive. The working-power of the ship
being thus reduced and the storm continuing, the master determined to
discharge and sell his cargo on the spot. This was done. But his men
did not recover; he too was seized with the same disease; and before
many days were past most of them were in the grave. Ere long several of
the inhabitants of the village were similarly affected, and some died;
by-and-by others were smitten down; and in less than three weeks after
the arrival of the schooner it became evident that a fatal fever or
plague had broken out amongst the inhabitants of the village.

The authorities of the township took alarm; and under the guidance of
Squire Curwen of Workington Hall, all likely measures were taken to
arrest or mitigate the fatal malady. Among other arrangements, a band
of men was formed whose duties were to wait upon the sick, to visit
such houses as were reported or supposed to contain victims of the
malady, and to carry the dead to their last home.

Among the first who fell under this visitation was a man named John
Pearson, who, with his wife and a daughter, lived in a cottage in
the outskirts of the village. He was employed as a labourer in an
iron foundry close by. For some weeks his widow and child escaped the
contagion; but ere long it was observed that their cottage window was
not opened; and a passer-by stopping to look at the house, thought
he heard a feeble moan as from a young girl. He at once made known
his fears to the proper parties, who sent two of the 'plague-band'
to examine the case. On entering the abode it was seen that poor Mrs
Pearson was a corpse; and her little girl, about ten years old, was
lying on her bosom dreadfully ill, but able to cry: 'Mammy, mammy!' The
poor child was removed to the fever hospital, and the mother to where
her husband had been recently taken. How long the plague continued
to ravage the village, I am not able to say; but as it is about the
Pearson family, and not about the plague I am going to write, such
information may be dispensed with.

The child, Isabella Pearson, did not die; she conquered the foe, and
was left to pass through a more eventful life than that which generally
falls to the lot of a poor girl. Although an orphan, she was not
without friends; an only and elder sister was with relatives in Dublin,
and her father's friends were well-to-do farmers in Westmoreland.
Nor was she without powerful interest in the village of her birth:
Lady Curwen, of the Hall, paid her marked attention, as she had done
her mother, because that mother was of noble descent, as I shall now
proceed to shew.

Isabella Pearson (mother of the child we have just spoken of), whose
maiden name was Day, was a daughter of the Honourable Elkanah Day
and of his wife Lady Letitia, daughter of the Earl of Annesley. How
she came to marry John Pearson forms one of the many chapters in
human history which come under the head of Romance in Real Life,
or Scandal in High Life, in the newspaper literature of the day.
Isabella's parents were among those parents who believe they are at
liberty to dispose of their daughters in marriage just as they think
fit, even when the man to whom the girl is to be given is an object
of detestation to her. Heedless of their daughter's feelings in the
matter, they had bargained with a man of their acquaintance, to whom
they resolved that Isabella should give her hand--be her heart never
so unwilling. The person in question was a distant relative of their
noble house, had a considerable amount of property in Ireland, and was
regarded, by the scheming mother especially, as a most desirable match
for her daughter. But what if the young lady herself should be of a
contrary opinion? In the instance before us the reader will be enabled
to see.

Captain Bernard O'Neil, the bridegroom elect, was nearly twice the
age of Isabella Day; and although not an ill-looking man, was yet one
whom no virtuous or noble-minded girl could look upon with respect,
for he was known to be addicted to the vice of gambling, to be able to
consume daily an enormous quantity of wine, and to be the slave of all
sorts of debauchery. So habituated had O'Neil become to these degrading
vices, that no sensible girl could hope to reclaim and reform him. The
gratification of his propensities had been spread over so long a time
that his entailed estate had become heavily burdened with debt, whilst
his creditors, even his dependents, were clamorous for the money which
he owed them.

Such being the man to whom the Honourable Elkanah Day and his noble
wife had agreed to give their daughter, can it be wondered at that
that daughter should not only be indisposed to comply with their wish,
but should also be so disgusted and indignant at its expression as to
give way to her feelings in words and acts which in themselves are
incapable of justification? One day the captain had called at the house
by appointment to arrange for the marriage, being anxious to have it
consummated, that he might be helped out of a pressing embarrassment
through the portion which he knew would be given to his bride. Isabella
had been present at the interview. Her father and mother knew full well
that she was far from being pleased with the match, but of this they
took little heed, believing that once married, their daughter would
reconcile herself to her lot, even if she did not derive much felicity
from the union. The girl herself knew that no language of hers, whether
of anger, sorrow, or entreaty, would avail, especially with her mother,
who was one of the most hot-headed and stubborn of women; so from the
first her mind was made up rather to circumvent than to oppose them; to
cheat them in the game they were playing, if she could not by fair-play
win the right to give herself where she could love and be loved.

On the occasion referred to, it had been arranged that the marriage
should take place in a fortnight; and when she was urged to make the
necessary arrangements, instead of yielding a hearty compliance, as
in a different case she would naturally have done, she gave a feeble
assent and left the room. No sooner had she put the door between
herself and the other parties, than the emotions which she had managed
to keep under while in their presence began to rage within her, and
with the hope of finding sympathy below-stairs which was denied her
in her proper domain, she sought the company of the maids. Wrath is
seldom discreet, and grief at times is not over-nice in selecting those
before whom it vents itself. So without waiting to consider the rank
of those whose company she had sought, or taking into consideration
the consequences which might ensue on making known to them the
circumstances in which she was involved, she gave expression to the
feelings which were agitating her at that moment by exclaiming: 'So I
am to be married in a fortnight, am I? And to that horrible O'Neil?
Never, my honourable father; never, my lady mother! Never, no never! By
God's aid, _never_! Rather than do so, I'll marry the first man who can
be found willing to take me, and go with him to the ends of the earth!'
Saying which, she fled from the kitchen into the garden at the rear of
the house, and in the summer-house found relief in a flood of tears.
All this occurred in Dublin.

Now the cook was one of those who heard the poor girl utter these
passionate words. She was an old and esteemed servant of the family,
and as such had more liberty and could use more freedom than servants
in general. She had been in the family when Isabella, twenty years
before, was born, had been her nurse, and was therefore greatly
attached to her; and she felt more keenly the fate which the poor
girl dreaded, than any others who were present. Indeed so afflicted
was she on her account, that she sought her in the summer-house, and
poured into her ear all the soothing and encouraging words she could
think of. The girl's rage had abated, but she was in a condition
of affliction and misery which was truly pitiable to behold. She
was, however, still determined not to link her life to one whom she
utterly detested, and besought her old and devoted friend to aid her
in seeking in flight what she could not otherwise avoid. Whether the
cook promised to do so, or what exact reply she made, I am not able
to relate; but that very night an event took place which decided her
fate, and gave to her after-life its direction and character. The cook
was a native of Westmoreland, had been brought up in the neighbourhood
of Farmer Pearson, whose son John was at that time a private in the
Royal Guards stationed in Dublin. He and the cook were therefore old
acquaintances, and when John had an hour to spare, he often spent it in
her company. That very night he happened to pay her a visit. In course
of conversation she told him about her grief arising out of the trouble
of her young mistress, and added thereto the wild expression to which
she had that day given utterance. This was done by the simple-minded
woman without the least design either of aiding or injuring the young
lady, nor had she at that moment the slenderest suspicion that her
act would have any practical effect on the young soldier. But it was
otherwise. He knew the girl by sight, and she knew him. Though they
had not exchanged a word, nor been for even a moment in each other's
company, yet they had on several occasions seen each other when he had
been visiting his friend the cook. He was a fine open-hearted generous
fellow, in the heyday of youth, fearless and brave. All his sympathies
were aroused and drawn to the side of the suffering girl; and believing
that he would be doing a truly manly act in rescuing her from what he
regarded as worse than a thousand deaths, he told the cook that he was
prepared to go with her to the ends of the earth, should she be willing
to trust herself to his care and fidelity; and he got his friend to
promise that she would make his readiness known to her young mistress.
Though the promise was made, it is but fair to say that in giving it
the cook had not the smallest idea that the poor girl would do aught
else than laugh at the proposal as a good joke. But herein she was
deceived. Isabella Day caught at the offer of John Pearson the Life
Guardsman, with an eagerness and a joy beyond description; she begged
of the cook to arrange a meeting; it was done; and the result was an
elopement and a clandestine marriage!

The day which ended the residence of Miss Day with her parents, ended
her life of luxury and ease. They renounced her for ever. Her name was
erased from the family register, and she was as completely severed
from those she had left behind as if she had been buried in the family
vault. The rage of her mother was fearful for a time; but Isabella
was beyond its reach, and happy. Her husband was a fine-looking young
fellow, tall, well-made, and handsome in feature and in form. He was
also kind and gentle towards her; and whatever discrepancy existed
between them before marriage, none was allowed to exist afterwards; for
although he could not rise to her standard of refinement and elegance,
nor give her the means of gratifying those tastes which her breeding
and habits had fostered within her, yet they both had sense enough to
know how to adapt themselves to each other; so their life, if not a
luxurious one, was one of resignation and contentment. She followed
him to those places to which his regiment was occasionally ordered;
and when, in a year or two, he was invalided and discharged from the
army, she retired with him to his native village of Burton-in-Kendal,
and thence to Workington, where he found employment in the foundry at
Beerpot. Two children were born to them, both girls; the elder of whom,
as I have said, was on a visit to her relatives in Dublin; while the
other daughter, Isabella, narrowly escaped death from the plague, at
the time of her mother's decease, as I have narrated. I now resume my
story at the period when she was left an orphan.

Lady Curwen, as has been intimated, undertook the necessary and, to
her, pleasant task of befriending the desolate girl. She had been kind
to her mother; indeed she thought it an honour rather than otherwise to
be on friendly terms with her. She was a frequent visitor at the Hall,
where she was received rather as a friend and equal than as a poor
woman; for although she was in straitened circumstances, she was free
from that cringing dependence which poverty is calculated to engender
in those who are reared therein.

Her paternal relatives in Westmoreland also interested themselves in
the orphan; so the bereaved child knew neither want nor scant. In a
while she went to her uncle's homestead in Burton, where for a year
or two she resided and throve amain. But the sea and its surroundings
had more charms for an ardent girl than the more sober associations
of an inland life; she would rather scamper among the rocks and
sea-weed of her native shore than ramble among the heather of her
moorland home; and so, as time passed on, she began to yearn after
the earlier associations of her life. And inheriting the recklessness
and determination of her parents, she, unmindful of obligation and of
self-interest, carried out a long-cherished project: she ran away!
While her uncle and his family were at church one Sunday morning, she
went to the stable, and taking thence a cart-horse with which she had
become familiar, she got astride upon his back, and bidding adieu to
the farm and all its belongings, she set off to the place of her birth,
which she reached safe and sound, but not without having attracted
considerable attention from the onlookers on the way. Taking the horse
to the inn, at which her uncle happened to be known, and requesting
that it might be cared for until it was called for, she bent her steps
to the well-remembered homes of her old neighbours, by whom she was
cordially received.

She was at this time a fine blooming girl of twelve or thirteen years
of age, tall, stately, handsome, with a natural aristocratic bearing,
but remarkably unsophisticated and simple. Her return, and the way in
which it had been effected, soon reached the ears of her late mother's
friend, Lady Curwen, by whose influence she soon secured a good place
as housemaid; in which position I shall leave her while I recount a
fragment of the history of her elder sister Letitia.

I have said that her family renounced for ever their runaway relative.
But in course of time an elder sister of the offender, who was married
to a gentleman named Weeks, and living in London, relented of her
animosity by occasionally corresponding with her, and sending her now
and again what enabled her to keep a few marks of her former life about
her. The children, however, were not visited with the same hostility as
was their mother; they were inquired about, and, through a cousin who
was known to the girls as Councillor Lennon, an occasional letter of
recognition was sent them. This courtesy led to Letitia being sent for
to Dublin, where she resided under the care of Lord Annesley for a few
years. But what is bred in the bone is certain sooner or later to make
itself visible; it was so in the case of Letitia: a disposition for
frolic and adventure was in her; she found it difficult to conform to
the rules of life which now held her in, and in spite of all restraint
and watchfulness, she went into forbidden paths, and became at last a
self-made outcast from her high-bred friends. The way was this: falling
in with the steward of an American ship lying in one of the docks, and
taken with his charms as he with hers, she agreed to a marriage and a
flight with him like those of her mother. The chief difficulty which
presented itself was how to get to America with her intended husband;
but where there is a will there is mostly a way; both existed in this
case, and proved successful. She adopted male attire, applied for and
obtained a position which had become open on board of her husband's
ship, that of assistant steward or cook, in which capacity she served
in company with her husband during the voyage to Charleston. There she
arrived in safety; her husband left off going to sea; and the last
time her sister Isabella heard of her, she was mistress of a large and
flourishing inn in the above city.

Some time after Letitia's abscondment, Lord Annesley, yielding to Lady
Curwen's entreaty, and perhaps to the voice of his own conscience
as well, sent for Isabella, promising to give her the education and
position of a lady, provided she would in all things conform to his
wishes. The offer was a good and kind one, and presented temptation
sufficient to induce an enthusiastic girl to yield thereto a ready
compliance. The only means which Cumbrians had of reaching Ireland
at that time was by the coal-vessels which regularly sailed from
Workington to Dublin. In one of these Isabella Pearson set sail with
visions of grandeur and greatness before her. But the winds and waves
had well-nigh extinguished the lamp of hope which was burning so bright
within her, for she had not been long on her voyage before a terrific
storm broke upon the deeply-laden brig; it was impossible to make
progress; it was hazardous to put back, for Redness Point, where many
a noble ship had been wrecked and many a precious life lost, stood
threateningly behind them. At last, however, the master of the brig
made for the Scotch coast, and happily succeeded in gaining the port
of Kirkcudbright. Here our heroine remained with the vessel nearly a
week, when the weather permitting, the voyage was again attempted, and
without further mishap accomplished.

Isabella Pearson was received into the mansion of her noble relative
with becoming friendliness. I have heard her, in her old age, describe
his lordship as being a fine-looking venerable man, with a head white
through age, an eye beaming with kindness, and a heart brimful of love.
He had had the misfortune to lose a leg, and like many of his lowlier
brethren, had to be content with a wooden one. With him she spent a few
happy months; and at length became as familiar with the ways of those
in high rank as she had been with those of her own class. I cannot say
how long this new life lasted; but it is certain that as time passed
she began to feel her lot irksome, and to long for the less elegant,
but to her more pleasurable life she had previously led. The fact is
that, as in the case of her sister and her mother, Cupid, small and
child-like though he seems, was far more powerful than wealth and
fashion, and all other attractions of aristocratic life. While living
as a domestic servant in Cumberland, she had fallen in with a young
sailor, who had run away with her heart. When she set sail for Dublin
she had a hope that nothing would happen to prevent her from yielding
to her wishes to become his wife; but she had not been long her
relative's guest before she was forced to come to another conclusion;
for she saw plainly that her worthy kinsman had set his heart upon
fitting her to become something better than a common sailor's wife.
A lady had been engaged as her governess and a time fixed for her
arrival; but before the time came the inbred spirit of freedom had
again asserted itself, and Isabella had bidden adieu for ever to Lord
Annesley and all the good things which his kindness had gathered around
her! A collier brig took her back to her native village, and soon after
she became the wife of John Ruddock, able seaman.

No one can justify, though all may extenuate, the conduct of Isabella
Pearson; nor can any one be pronounced harsh and unfeeling who may
say: 'The suffering that might fall to her lot in after-life was the
result of her folly and recklessness. On the other hand, it may be
pleaded that her heart was her own, to give to whom she pleased; and as
it had been sought for and gained by the young sailor, her happiness
could only be secured by living with him; therefore she did right in
preferring his lot to the wishes of her noble uncle. Be this as it
may, she grievously erred in quitting him in so heartless a way after
the tender care she had received at his hands. And this she afterwards
acknowledged. After her marriage, her husband left the sea, and
taking his young wife with him to Durham, he there found employment
as a sail-maker, in which art he was proficient. A letter, professing
repentance, was written to her uncle; but before it was posted the
death of Lord Annesley was announced; which event put an end for ever
to all hope for help or favour in that quarter. Soon after, a pressgang
laid relentless hands upon poor Ruddock, and dragged him on board a
ship of war; so once more our heroine was forced to seek her living in
domestic servitude. But herein she was not able long to abide, for the
birth of a daughter made such life for a while impracticable. Sad as
was her lot, it soon became worse; for her poor husband was killed in
an engagement off the coast of Spain, and with many other brave hearts
found an early grave in the ocean's bed.

Isabella was now left with a young child to fight the world alone.
Health and vigour, however, were her portion; and hearing that plenty
of work for women was to be had at Cleator near Whitehaven, she
repaired thither, and found a settlement and a living. While there,
she was one day agreeably surprised by a visit from her kind friend
Lady Curwen, who had driven from Workington Hall expressly to tell her
that an advertisement applying for the heirs of John Pearson who worked
in Beerpot Foundry, had that week appeared in the columns of a London
newspaper, and urged her to attend to it. But she was illiterate, was
unused to business habits, and being alone and helpless, put off the
matter day by day, until at last she gave it up altogether. What might
have come out of this, is of course unknown to the writer; but Isabella
herself believed--I do not know why--that her aunt, Mrs Weeks, had
died, and had bequeathed to her sister's children a considerable sum of
money.

Time passed on, and her child grew, developing among other things
a love of mischief; for one day, while her mother was at the mill
where she wrought, she got to the box in which were kept her mother's
cherished family documents and letters, and amused herself by setting
them ablaze one by one at a lighted candle got for the purpose! Thus,
in one half-hour, every document necessary to prove her mother's
pedigree was destroyed, and with it all hope of bettering her position
was thrown to the winds; so, when some years afterwards, Lady Curwen
sent a messenger to tell her that the advertisement I have named had
once more appeared in the public prints, she paid no attention to the
information, satisfying herself simply with an expression of thanks to
her kind benefactor!

She was, however, content with her lot. Her child was her chief comfort
and joy. For her she toiled in the mill by day, and in her humble home
at night; and as she grew in stature and in beauty, the mother's heart
throbbed its gratitude and her eye beamed with admiration. But on one
occasion she had nearly lost her. Playing one fine afternoon on the
bank of the stream which drove the wheel belonging to the mill, her
feet slipped, and she fell in. A man who happened to be a little in
advance, had his eye drawn to an object on the water, which he at first
took to be a quantity of loose hair; but another glance revealed to
him the head of a little girl beneath the surface of the rapid stream.
He ran and was just in time to lay hold of the hair as its possessor
was falling over on to the wheel. Another moment, and Jane Ruddock
(the drowning girl) would have been no more; in which case he who
now pens these fragments of a strange history would not have been in
existence--for that little girl became his mother.

I have little more to add. Isabella Pearson, who, as I have shewn,
became Isabella Ruddock, wife of a common sailor, once more entered the
matrimonial lists; but she neither improved her position nor increased
her happiness by so doing. Indeed her life, while her second husband
lived, was imbittered by his love of strong drink. But she survived
him. She was a widow the second time when she became familiar to my
youthful eye. Many a merry hour have I spent in her company. Often I
have heard her relate the incidents which make up this story. She was
a fine, tall, handsome woman while health remained with her; she had
also a large womanly heart, a hot impetuous temper, and a remarkable
simplicity and honesty of character. She died in 1849, weighed down
with years and infirmities; but she ended her eventful life in much
patience and peace.



A LADY'S ASCENT OF THE BREITHORN.


Fancy the following tableau. Scene--Switzerland; time--August 1875,
at a desolate rocky part of the Surenen Pass. A group--Youthful grace
and vigour; manly strength and endurance, &c. Foreground--Four heads
eagerly bent over a huge bowl of _café_ placed on a board, which is
extended over four laps. Hands belonging to said heads ladling the
mixture into their mouths with large wooden ladles with little curved
handles, between convulsions of mirth. Background--The châlet of the
Waldnacht Alp, from which the realistic artist should cause hideous
odours to ascend in the form of dense vapour. At the door of it,
the unwashed and scantily clad figure of a Swiss herdsman, fearful
to behold, owner of châlet, and like Caliban himself, chattering
an ominous jargon, and grinning at the English feeders. Right of
background--Attendant guide, cheerful and pleased that he has at last
secured some sustenance for his 'leddies,' who have been walking from
eight A.M. to four P.M., and will yet have to go on till three-quarters
of an hour after midnight. These tableaux, with minor variations, were
frequent in our tour.

After many adventures and many jokes, after being lost in a pass from
eight o'clock to ten, when the sun had set, and having to wander about
for those two hours on the edge of a precipice guiltless of path, being
finally rescued by a heaven-sent and most unexpected peasant with
a lamp--after these things and their results, which were blackened
complexions, dried skins, and dilapidated costumes, we arrived at
Zermatt, where we settled down for a time. The object of the settling
down was in one word--ascents.

Nothing much, according to the men, had yet been done, though we in our
secret hearts hugged the proud thought that Pilatus had not defeated
us, and that the Twelfth-cake-like snows of Titlis had been pressed
by our tread; that the Aeggischhorn, though it had witnessed (N.B. at
the end of a long day) the heat and perspiration which dimmed our few
remaining charms, and had heard our smothered groans, had had in the
end to feel our light weight upon its summit, and to bear us as we
gazed with awe at its mighty circle of peaks. But what do these avail?
In the eye of man they were mere preparation for mightier things.

After some debate, mingled with faint remonstrance on our part, when
Monte Rosa was mentioned, the _Breithorn_ was decided upon; and the
manly spirits, which had become depressed by a few days' lounge, arose.
Such is the enigma Man! The day was fixed, an extra guide (one Franz
Biener--known as Weisshorn Biener) engaged on the night before we went
up to the Riffel. After a few hours' disturbed sleep we were awoke at
two; and dragging our weary and daily emaciating bodies from the beds
where they had not been too comfortable, we dressed by the flickering
light of a candle; and as we dressed, my friend and I cast fearful
looks out at the Matterhorn, which fiercely pierced the dark sky, and
seemed to say to me in the words of the poet:

    Beware the pine-tree's withered branch;
    Beware the awful avalanche!

As I put the last finishing touches to my collar at the glass, my
feminine pulses slightly quickened to the tune of--'This was the
peasant's last good-night;' and though no voice far up the height
replied 'Excelsior!' yet a voice came from outside which meant in
downright English very much the same thing; and my reflections were
quenched in the carousal down-stairs, which I hastened to join. An
unfortunate and sleepy maid was ministering to the wants of my friends
in the dimly lighted salon of the Riffel-haus. Outside, the guides
were impatiently stamping about in the frosty night, and complaining
of the length of our delay, insinuating that the sun would soon be up.
The fact is the preparations of toilet on our part were complicated.
The uninitiated may not know that the feminine clothing of the present
time, elegant though some may think it, is not conducive to comfort
in mountain climbing. A well-tied back _tablier_ has a restrictive
influence upon the free movement of the lower limbs, and only admits of
a step of a certain length. In rock-work it is felt to be peculiarly
irksome, and in soft snow it is trying to the temper.

Let the imaginative reader then, if he be able, picture two young
women devoid of tabliers, and so at once removed from the pale of
polite society. I tremble as I write with the fear that this avowal
may remove from me and my companion that feminine sympathy so dear
to our hearts. But I must descend a step lower. Freedom from tablier
was not sufficiently radical. Our skirts must be carefully pinned up
round our waists à la washerwoman, so that our progress be perfectly
unimpeded; and armed with masks and spectacles we sallied forth into
the darkness--a party of six. I shall not easily forget the delicious
exhilaration we felt as we hastened along towards the Gorner glacier.
The dark cold air touched our faces crisply, and feelingly persuaded us
of the advantage of the sun's absence.

The searching sensation of being about to commit a crime, attendant
on nocturnal adventures, clung to us, and we were filled with a vague
remorse, in which we felt at one with Eugene Aram. At the same time the
ridiculousness of our position soon wrought upon us to such a degree
that we profaned that wonderful silence with unholy bursts of laughter.
Our festivity ceased when we reached the glacier, for there we broke
up into line, we ladies being tenderly taken possession of each by
a guide, who soon got us over a rough moraine. The glacier we found
unpleasantly slippery; and it was exciting work, as at the point where
we crossed it was very much crevassed, and steps had often to be cut.
The nails on our marvellous boots answered admirably, and we sprang
about with great sure-footedness and with exquisite enjoyment.

The leader of our party was in a rather dangerous plight, for he
had had no nails put into his boots, and we felt quite anxious as
through the dim light we noticed his uncertain movements. How he
got across with the ice in so bad a condition, is a marvel! We had
been on the glacier about an hour when the light began to creep up
over the mountains, and we were in the midst of a scene of wonderful
beauty. The Monte Rosa, the Lyekamm, Castor and Pollux, the Breithorn,
the Matterhorn, and many another shrouded in their utter whiteness
stood round us in awful calm, closing us in upon a lake of tossed
and heaving ice. The moonlight which streamed down upon us on one
side, and the pale yellow light of the dawn on the other, lit up the
scene with a weirdness which seemed not of our world. We saw each
other's phantom-like figures gliding about, and felt that we were too
real to be there--a place where only ghosts had any right to be. The
feeling that pressed upon me was that I had suddenly intruded into
nature's holiest of holies. It seemed as if some secret of a higher
life than this was being sighed through the air, and that I, with
all my earth-stains on me, could not rise to the understanding of
that secret. Yet on that early morning in August, in the same world
far away, the same London was going on in the same old way we knew
so well. Cats were even then stealing along suburban walls; cocks
were beginning to practise their crescendos, tired-out citizens were
tossing in oppressive four-posters, dreaming tantalising dreams of cool
sea-breezes not for them; while round all must be clinging that heavy
breathed-out air, which of itself is a very _inferno_ in contrast with
the mountain ether.

By the time we had reached the upper plateau of the St Théodule
glacier, it was light, and we were all roped together. The process of
roping in this enlightened age I feel it to be unnecessary to describe.
Thus we marched along that profound and frozen solitude tied together
in a long line. The snow was as hard as a road, and the cold intense.
Biener is an excellent guide, but his pace is very slow, and thus we
got rather benumbed. We had, however, passed the Little Matterhorn
on our left, and the Théodulhorn on our right, with the little rude
_cabane_ erected on the rocks at its foot--more than eleven thousand
feet above the sea, and the highest habitation in Europe--and were
beginning to trail our snake-like length up the snow-slopes on the west
and south of the mountain, when my friend became so unmistakably ill
that we came at once to a halt and a consultation. She (to her honour)
much wished to go on, in spite of sickness, giddiness, faintness, and a
livid complexion; but as that was out of the question, she was untied
from the rope, and sent back with our ordinary guide (a first-rate
fellow, one Johann von Aa) to the hut already mentioned.

When we reached the actual snow-fields of the Breithorn, I had to
learn that the work of my day had scarcely begun. As the sun rose, the
snow began to get very soft, and instead of going in to my knees, as
I had expected, I literally waded in it up to my waist. With mighty
efforts I lifted up my already wearied legs and plunged them into ever
fresh pits of snow, where they frequently became so firmly imbedded
that, struggle as I might, I could not move; and presented to the
spectator the hapless object of half a woman masked and spectacled,
striving and panting. From an æsthetic point of view I cannot say I
felt myself a success; but from a moral point, I felt myself a very
finger-post through the ages. Truly I had given up my all in the shape
of appearance, and had offered myself up on that altar of adventure on
which so many braves of my country have been sacrificed. The mode of
rescue from the uncomfortable position indicated above was almost as
bad as the plight itself. I feebly kicked; you can't kick boldly with
your legs in tight pits; and the guide dragged at the rope which bound
my waist, and then out I came like the cork out of a bottle. Two hours
and a half of this sort of thing went on, varied by refreshments and
occasional rests for breath-taking, but still it appeared to me that
we were always at the same spot, and ever the glittering summit from
afar mocked my helpless gasps. At last (ah! what an at last!) the final
slope--really the final one--stretched right up before us. A party of
men who were engaged in scientific experiments peered over at us; and
with one last desperate effort I found myself landed amongst them at
the top of the Breithorn, and thirteen thousand seven hundred feet
above the sea. As we placed our feet upon the summit we groaned the
groan of triumph, and gazed with awe around us upon the inexpressibly
magnificent scene which spread itself out before us. A mighty circle of
mountains stood in awful calm around us. Every fantastic line, every
curious heaping, every wild wreck, every gleaming curve of glacier
possible to mountains, seemed gathered together before us. Each peak
had a proud originality of its own, which shewed through all the
sameness of the uniform whiteness. But the spirit of these places is
the most wonderful thing about them. The clamour, the struggle, the
unrest, which make up to most of us the atmosphere of this world,
seemed in these regions to have been left behind in a past state;
and this in a way was illustrated by the scene itself. The contorted
forms and tossed rocks spoke of struggle, gradual it may be, but still
struggle. But in the sereneness surrounding those unearthly peaks there
was a peace which seemed to have left struggle far behind--the repose
of a wide knowledge gained only through sore fight and aspiration.

A short time of peaceful dream was allowed me, and that was rather
marred by the intense glare of the light, and then we began the
descent. In an evil moment of rest some little way down, I left hold
of my alpenstock and leaned it against my shoulder. In a moment it was
gone--down, down, sliding skittishly away, till my heart was pained
by its final leap into a crevasse far away. As I looked, I imagined
what a crash my skull would have come at the bottom of that crevasse.
I afterwards found out that the alpenstock was not my own, as I then
thought, but that I had inadvertently changed with one of our guides.
Imagine my grief at the thought that I had lost the dear companion of
my travels, that staff which had guided my wavering feet and upheld my
tottering body through passes and up mountains, and which I intended to
preserve until my death! My situation without it was rather perilous,
and would have been more so had not the snow been very soft. But the
guide took me entirely in charge, and lent me his axe, which I was
certain I should recklessly lose after the same fashion. After a weary
time, Biener the guide decided to _glissade_ me. I was resigned. What
else could I be? By that time I was very resigned. He took off his
coat, and made me sit down upon it, then tied my skirts around me.
A rope was attached round my waist, one end of which was grasped by
Biener in front, and the other by my gentlemen friends behind. Then
ensued a process in which my limbs were nearly severed from the body,
and in which I suffered greatly. Biener rushed down the slope dragging
me behind him; while the gentlemen, unaccustomed to this sort of thing,
and not being able to go fast enough, hung a good part of their weight
on to the rope behind, and so almost bisected me. I never expected to
be an individual whole again; halves were my fate. Never was creature
in so miserable a plight. No Procrustean bed could have produced
greater tortures than those I suffered as I sped down that miserable
slope. I shouted all the French I could think of to Biener to stop
him, and rid me from the hideous rope, which cut me like a knife; but
the air would not carry my words, and on I skimmed and floundered. At
last he heard my cries, and released me from the fetters. The fact was
that the gentlemen were quite unable to keep up with Biener in the deep
snow, with the dismal result, as seen above, of almost cutting through
my waist. The lesson to be deduced from this is the simple maxim I
commend to all my feminine readers: _Never_, under the most favourable
circumstances, _glissade_.

When we reached the cabane where my friend was waiting for us, we were
met by Johann, who told us with a long-face that the 'leddy' would not
eat anything, and was very sick. We found, to our sorrow, that she had
been in a miserable condition all day, and had suffered dreadfully from
mountain sickness. She was so ill that it was impossible she could
walk, and we were a long time in deciding what was to be done. Now,
a helpless invalid, at a height of over eleven thousand feet above
the sea, is not a being easy to legislate for. At last a litter was
contrived. A chair was placed on some alpenstocks; and an American
gentleman whom we met at the cabane being kind enough to lend us his
porter, we found hands enough to carry her part of the way at least,
to Zermatt; the Riffel-haus, where we were staying, being out of the
question, on account of the Gorner glacier and its moraines and rocks,
which would have to be passed to get there. Our party, sad to say, had
then to separate, two of us going to Zermatt and two to the Riffel. The
melancholy _chaise-à-porteur_ procession wended its way to Zermatt; and
with considerably damped spirits we went on to the Riffel, which we
reached at about half-past six P.M. The ambulance party did not get to
their destination till eight o'clock.

All that remains now to be told of this our adventure is the sad
result. The next morning, on waking from sleep, I found that my ear
adhered to the pillow; and when, with much trembling I approached the
glass, a spectacle presented itself to me which I can never forget. As
I gazed at the grotesque reflection of myself, I inwardly vowed that
no mask of London make, elegantly worked as it might be, should ever
cover my face again. A large flapping cover-all mask 'of the country'
let me recommend to ladies who go up snow mountains. I was swollen;
I was black; I was hideous! Half of the skin of one ear was hanging
by a shred, and the ear itself was a blister; while all round my neck
from ear to ear was a chain of blisters. Their state was so bad that
the dressing of them by one of our party (a doctor) took half an hour,
and I could scarcely turn my head. It required a good deal of courage
to face _table-d'hôte_ and the young ladies who were indulging in
complexions and large portmanteaus. But I did! Would that I could say
I enjoyed it. I did _not_ enjoy it. The complexions of the scornful
and the scorn itself, embittered that meal, usually attended with such
joys. In my travelling afterwards, I became accustomed to the searching
glance at my poor tattered skin and to the remark: 'I see you have
been doing glacier-work.' And it was not until a month of English life
had to some extent repaired me that I could look back with delight and
triumph to the ascent of the Breithorn.



ECCENTRIC PEOPLE.


Mr Timbs, in his book upon _English Eccentrics and Eccentricities_,
introduces us to a collection of funny people, with whom it is
good company to pass an hour. To get away from the dull routine
of conventionality for a while is at all times a relief, more
especially when we fill the interval by watching some of our eccentric
fellow-creatures who are good enough to divert us by their antics. Some
are serious in their folly; some are mad; some we admire, while others
again awake our pity; but one and all they are gifted with a force of
will that merits attention.

A collection of dead-and-gone eccentrics now pass before us, recalling
a few living ones that we know of, whose collected vagaries, if
published, may in turn probably amuse our grandchildren. First, let us
look at Beckford, a name not much remembered now, although it belonged
to a man who was a marvel in his day. Gifted with extraordinary powers
of mind and will, he did everything by turns, and nothing long. He
wrote a book that created a sensation. No great marvel that, to
people of our day, when the difficulty is to find some one who has
not written a book; but Beckford wrote as no other author. _Vathek_
was written at one sitting! It took him three days and two nights of
hard labour, during which time he never undressed. We know of one
instance somewhat similar. A reigning lady novelist told us once that
she was pledged to her publisher to send him a three-volume novel by
a certain date. Two days previous to the expiration of her contract,
her novel had only reached the opening chapter of the third volume.
On the evening of the first day she went to a ball, danced all night,
returning home at the small-hours of morning, when, after taking off
her ball-dress, and drinking some strong tea, she sat down to finish
her task. All that day she wrote and on into the next night, never
leaving her desk until she had written _finis_; when with trembling
hands she despatched her manuscript in time to fulfil her engagement.

There are some natures that need the pressure of necessity, or
self-imposed necessity, to goad them into action; their resolution
once formed, no obstacle is suffered to come between them and its
fulfilment. Beckford was one of these. He determined to build a
house--the abbey at Fonthill, where he resided for twenty years--and
swore by his favourite St Anthony that his Christmas-dinner should be
cooked in the abbey kitchen. Christmas approached, and the kitchen was
in an unfinished condition. Every exertion that money could command was
brought to the task, and Christmas morning saw the kitchen finished and
the cooks installed. A splendid repast was prepared, and the dinner
actually cooked, when lo! and behold, as the servants were carrying in
the dishes through the long passages into the dining-room, a loud noise
was heard, and the kitchen fell through with a crash! But what cared
Beckford? He was rich; he could afford to build his kitchen over again;
meantime he had humoured his whim and kept his vow to St Anthony; and
we may add, made good his title to eccentricity, for which we applaud
him, and pass on to watch some others.

What sorry figure is this that comes next? A poor neglected imbecile,
living in squalid lodgings at Calais. It is scarcely possible to
recognise in this unhappy being the once gay and elegant Beau Brummel,
the glass of fashion and mould of form to the men and women of his
generation, whom he ruled with the despotism of an autocrat. Yet this
is the poor Beau and no other. He is holding a phantom reception.
Having desired his attendant to arrange his apartment, set out the
whist-tables, and light the candles--alas! only tallow--he is ready
at eight o'clock to receive the guests, which the servant, previously
instructed, now announces. First comes the Duchess of Devonshire. On
hearing her name the Beau leaves his chair, and with the courtliest
bow, the only reminiscence of his departed glory, he advances to the
door and greets the phantom Duchess with all the honour that he would
have given the beautiful Georgiana. He takes her hand and leads her
to a seat, saying as he does so: 'Ah, my dear Duchess, how rejoiced
I am to see you; so very amiable of you to come at this short notice.
Pray bury yourself in this arm-chair. Do you know it was the gift to
me of the Duchess of York, who was a very kind friend of mine; but
poor thing, you know, she is no more!' At this point tears of idiotcy
would fall from his eyes, and he would sink into the arm-chair himself,
awaiting the arrival of other guests, who, being duly announced, were
similarly greeted. With these ghosts of the past he would spend the
evening until ten o'clock, when the servant telling each guest that his
or her carriage was waiting, would carry his poor old master off to
bed. We cannot wish him good-night without the payment of a sigh for
the pantomime he has acted and the sad lesson it conveys.

And now we conjure up a droll figure, whose eccentricity borders
on madness, the spendthrift squire of Halston, John Mytton. He is
tormented with hiccup, and tries the novel cure of setting fire to
himself in order to frighten it away. Applying a candle to his garment,
being sparely clad at the time, he is soon in flames. His life is only
saved by the active exertions of some people who chance to be in the
way at the time. He invites some friends once, and when the company are
assembled in the drawing-room, he startles them all by riding into the
room on a bear! The guests are panic-stricken: one mounts on a table,
another on a chair; they all strive to make their escape from the
ungracious animal, and its still more savage master, who is enjoying
the misery of his guests with the laugh of a madman. Let us too leave
him.

Ladies have a great field for the display of eccentricity, in their
mode of costume. We know of one lady who has never altered her style
of dress since she was eighteen. The consequence is that every ten
years or so the fashions come round to her, and for a brief period she
is _à la mode_. Never having made any concessions to the abominations
of crinoline or false hair, she is at the present time more orthodox
than she appeared five years ago. Every time has had its eccentricities
in this respect, and Mr Timbs shews us a certain Miss Banks, who died
in 1818, and in plain terms looked a 'regular guy.' She was a lady
of good position, being the sister of Sir Joseph Banks. Her costume
consisted of a Barcelona quilted petticoat, which had a hole on each
side, for the convenience of rummaging two immense pockets stuffed
with books of all sizes, which did not add to the symmetry of her
already large proportions. In this guise she went about, followed by a
footman carrying a cane, as tall as his mistress, or her luggage when
accompanying her on a journey. She was the originator of the words
_Hightum_, _Tightum_, and _Scrub_, which so many ladies are fond of
applying in the order of precedence to their wearing apparel. These
words Miss Banks invented to distinguish three dresses she had made for
herself at the same time, and all alike; the first for best, the second
for occasional, and the third for daily wear.

While on feminine eccentricities we must record some that we have
met with in our own day. So convinced is one elderly married lady of
the peculating propensities of all lodging-house menials, that after
each meal a curious scene takes place in her room. Every article,
such as her tea-caddy, sugar-basin, jam-pot, &c., which she has had
occasion to use during the meal, is placed on the table, on which
stand a gum-bottle, a brush, and several long strips of paper. She then
proceeds to gum up her property. A strip of paper is gummed round the
opening to the tea-caddy; the pot of preserve is similarly secured,
together with all else that is likely to attract that lawless fly the
lodging-house servant! We know of another lady who for years has lived
with only the light of gas or candle in her rooms. She imagines that
air and daylight are injurious to her sight, and her rooms are little
better than well-furnished tombs, into which no chink of light or
breath of heaven is suffered to intrude.

Mr Timbs introduces us to a lady equally eccentric in her ideas about
water. Lady Lewson of Clerkenwell objected totally to washing either
her house or her person. She considered water to be the root of all
malady, in the unnecessary way people expose themselves to the chills
caught by frequent ablution! And as for health--was she not a living
instance that a morning tub is all nonsense, for she was one hundred
and sixteen years old when she died! For the greater part of her life
she never dipped her face into water, using hog's-lard instead, to
soften her skin. Although large and well furnished, her house, like her
person, was never washed and but rarely swept.

We remember an amusing instance of French respect for cold water, in
the speech of a French gentleman, married to an English lady of our
acquaintance who used to indulge in a bath morning and evening; a
custom so astounding to her husband that he exclaimed in our hearing:
'She does not use water--she _ab_uses it.'

Eccentricity often displays itself in an inordinate affection for
animals and a singular manner of treating them. An instance of this was
the late Earl of Bridgewater, who now comes before us with his family
of performing dogs. He lived in Paris during the last century, where
the circumstances we narrate took place. He was a miserable-looking
little man, unable to walk without the support of two lackeys. He had
an immense fortune, which he spent in gratifying every caprice. Was
a book lent him? It was regarded as the representative of its owner,
and returned in the earl's landau, occupying the place of honour
and attended by four footmen in costly livery, who handed it to the
astonished owner. His carriage was frequently to be seen filled with
dogs, his special pets. On the feet of these dogs he bestowed as much
attention as though they were unfortunate human beings; he ordered
them boots, for which he paid as dearly as for his own. Not caring to
entertain his own kind at his table, few people dined with him. Still,
covers were daily laid for a dozen, served by suitable attendants. At
this table he received, and dined with no less than twelve favourite
dogs, who seemed to comprehend the compliment paid them, as they
occupied their chairs with decorum, each with its white napkin tied
round its neck. They were so trained, that should any, by an instinct
of appetite, transgress any rule of good-manners, he was banished from
the table, and degraded to an antechamber, where he picked his bone
in mortification; his place remaining empty until he had earned his
master's pardon.

There are some whose eccentricity takes the form of hatred of society.
Of this number was the Honourable Henry Cavendish, a man of great
learning and enormous fortune, who earned the title of 'Woman-hating
Cavendish,' as he would never see a woman if he could avoid it. If a
female servant was unlucky enough to shew herself, she was instantly
dismissed. He was compelled to employ a housekeeper, but all their
communications were carried on by correspondence. His ideas of dining
were restricted to legs of mutton only. On one occasion when his
housekeeper suggested that one leg of mutton would not be sufficient
for a party invited, he met the difficulty by ordering _two_!

A number of eccentricities are displayed by people in their burial
bequests. A certain Dr Fidge, a physician of the old school, converted
a favourite boat into a coffin, which he kept under his bed for many
years in readiness. When death drew near, he begged his nurse to pull
his legs straight and place him as a dead man, as it would _save her
trouble afterwards_, saying which he comfortably departed. Job Orton, a
publican of the Bell Inn, Kidderminster, had his tombstone with epitaph
erected in the parish church. His coffin was also built and ready for
him; but until he was ready for it he used it as a wine-bin. Major
Peter Laballiere of Box Hill, Dorking, selected a spot for his burial,
which he directed should be without church rites, and _head downwards_;
in order that, 'as the world was in his opinion topsy-turvy, he might
come right end up at last!' But a certain Jack Fuller caps even the
major, for he left directions that he was to be buried in a _pyramidal_
mausoleum in Brightling churchyard, Sussex; giving as his reason for
selecting to be embalmed in stone _above_ ground, his unwillingness to
be eaten by his relatives--a process he considered inevitable if buried
in the ordinary manner, for 'The worms,' he declares, 'would eat me;
the ducks would eat the worms; and my relations would eat the ducks.'

Of all eccentricities, those displayed by misers are the most notable
and repulsive. To dwell upon them at any length is neither pleasant
nor interesting; it is only where parsimony and genius are allied that
one pauses to examine the specimen. Let us now take a brief survey of
Nollekens the sculptor, in whom these opposites were met. Descended
from a miserly stock, he did not fall short of his ancestry in his
love of money, and it first became apparent in a filthy mode of living
while a student at Rome. He married a woman even more parsimonious than
himself, and their housekeeping was pitiful. Hatred of light is an
observable trait with most misers; and over their coals and candles the
Nollekens were scrupulously economical; the former, Nollekens counted
with his own hands. The candles were never lighted at the commencement
of the evening; and if a knock were heard at the door, it was not
answered until repeated, in case the first should prove a runaway,
and the candle be wasted! A flat candlestick served them for ordinary
purposes, and by carefully extinguishing them when company went, they
made a pair of moulds last a whole year!

Before his marriage, Nollekens had an unfortunate little servant called
Bronze, whose appetite he so feared that he placed her on board-wages,
and gave her only just enough money to furnish him with food each day,
which he took care to consume. Bronze with rare patience, for which
we cannot account, continued to serve after her master was married,
and declared that never had she seen a jack-towel in their house and
never had she washed with soap! Mrs Nollekens never went to any but a
second-hand shop for their wearing apparel and shoes, and their charity
was of the same second-hand nature, as when Mrs Nollekens directed the
maid to give the 'bone with little or no meat on it' to two starving
men who applied for relief. If a present of a leveret was sent them,
they made it serve two dinners for four people. The sculptor grew more
generous before death, his parsimonious partner having gone first, as
though he strove by sundry spasmodic gifts to atone for the avarice of
a life. If these details are as unsavoury to some as to ourselves, we
only justify their narration on the ground stated, that the qualities
they set forth were found existing in a genius.

Did time permit we should like to linger over those notable eccentrics,
Porson, Horne Tooke, Peter Pindar (Dr Wolcot), and others; but we can
only give a characteristic anecdote or two. Porson, the cleverest and
most erratic of creatures, was the victim of abstraction to an extent
that rendered him forgetful at times to eat. 'Will you not stay and
dine,' asked Rogers the poet. 'Thank you; no; I dined _yesterday_!'
he replied. Dr Parr asked him before a large assembly what he thought
about the introduction of moral and physical evil into the world.
'Why, doctor,' said Porson, 'I think we should have done very well
without them.' And it makes us laugh to hear an ignorant person, who
was anxious to get into conversation with him, ask, if Captain Cook
was killed in his _first_ voyage. 'I believe he was,' answers Porson;
'though he did not mind it much, but immediately entered on a second!'

Tooke began life with a joke, telling every one that he was the son
of a Turkey merchant; by which name he defined his father's trade of
poulterer. His ready wit was never at a loss; and it is to him we are
indebted for the following well-known joke. 'Now, young man,' said an
uncle to him one day, giving him good advice, 'as you are settled in
town I would advise you to take a wife.' 'With all my heart, sir,'
replied Tooke; 'whose wife shall I take?'

Peter Pindar boasted that he was the only man that ever outwitted a
publisher. Being a popular writer, his works brought him a good income.
His publisher wishing to purchase the copyright and print a collected
edition, made him an offer in cash. In order, however, to drive a
good bargain, Pindar feigned to be in very bad health, declaring he
could not live long; and every time the publisher came to see him he
acted the invalid to such perfection that he got a handsome _annuity_,
which, to the disgust of the publisher, he lived to enjoy until the
unconscionable age of eighty-one.

We leave a number of our eccentric friends with regret. There was
Curtis, whom we do not care to accompany in his search after the
horrible and his passion for convicts and executions. There was Dr
Fordyce, whose eccentricity in the matter of food is a study; he
lived for years on one meal a day only, but a meal so enormous that
we wonder, as we read the quantities, how he ever lived to repeat it
daily for twenty years. We can only now recommend those who have been
interested so far, to supply our deficiencies by going to the source
from whence we have gathered the matter for this brief notice.



SNAKE-INCUBATION.


The Zoological Gardens of London, always attractive, now and then
acquire even additional interest by the arrival of some new inmate,
or the occurrence of some rare event among those already established
there. Last year the Prince of Wales's Indian collection of animals,
the year before the snake-eating snake, drew extra crowds; and of late
the anaconda from Brazil has rendered herself popular by bringing
forth a family of snakelings; though, owing to the effects of her
long journey and close imprisonment, her young ones were dead. A few
years ago the largest snake in the Gardens was an African python, that
deposited above one hundred eggs in a nest of moss which had been
supplied to her; and as some writers about snakes had told us that the
python incubates her eggs, and that only this kind exhibits any such
maternal instinct, she also drew crowds of the curious.

The pythoness whose proceedings we are about to relate, having
deposited her eggs, arranged them in a level mass and then coiled
herself around and over them; sometimes they could be just discovered
between her coils, and sometimes she covered them entirely. Heat
combined with moisture are essential to the development of snakes'
eggs; and in the choice of a spot in which to deposit them, the
maternal instinct of the animal in a state of freedom is evident. It is
generally among decaying vegetation where heat is generated, or in some
moist soft herbage where the sun's rays can penetrate. To regulate the
temperature in a close cage and keep the moss precisely in a condition
to suit snake requirements, was by no means easy, and our pythoness
seemed far from satisfied. The fact, however, was established beyond
doubt, that she was hatching her eggs by the warmth of her own body.

But a most untoward disaster happened one night in the overflowing of
the tank among her eggs, completely saturating them; and it was not
surprising therefore, that no young pythons appeared. The enormous
reptile remained coiled around and over her addled eggs for above seven
weeks, after which they were taken from her. She had, and with good
reason, been exceedingly irritable and even savage during this time of
trial, as it was mid-winter, the season when under other circumstances
she, like her companions, would have been half torpid. But her maternal
affection was undeniable, and this alone was worth witnessing; since
some authors would have had us believe that snakes (and particularly
non-venomous ones) manifest entire indifference regarding their eggs
and young. The python's eggs being, as usual, in one long string, the
keeper had no little trouble in getting them from under her.

Being aquatic in their habits, and on that account requiring much
water, anacondas are difficult to keep in captivity. The one lately
arrived among us was no sooner released from its travelling box than it
took to the tank with which its cage is furnished, and remained in it
for hours and even days together. But not there, poor thing, can its
swimming powers be displayed, since in close coils it completely fills
it. Notwithstanding these drawbacks of London life, the Gardens can
now boast of three of these valuable snakes; one of which has been a
resident since 1869; while those in Paris have not survived any length
of time.

One still more remarkable characteristic of the anaconda is that, like
the sea-snakes (_Hydrophidæ_), but unlike the python, it produces
its young alive. We have long been accustomed to think that only
vipers produce live young--and hence their name--and that all the
non-venomous snakes lay eggs. But snakes, so far as those in captivity
are concerned, are continually doing what is not expected of them.
Zoological Gardens afford valuable opportunities to students for
acquiring knowledge of the form, size, habits, &c. of animals, and an
occasional insight into their modes of life unattainable otherwise.
This is especially the case regarding the Ophidians; creatures which
in their native haunts are so retiring, inaccessible, and mostly
nocturnal, that less has been known of them than of almost any other
tribe of creatures. Regarding the subject in question, several very
important zoological facts have recently been established at the
Gardens, and we may add, to the surprise of the naturalist world
in England. In 1862 (the same year in which the pythoness laid her
hundred eggs), the then but slightly known non-venomous English snake
_Coronella lævis_ gave birth to a family of six live young ones in
a cage in London; and several other harmless snakes in the London
ophidarium have also afforded cause for surprise, not only in producing
live young, but in manifesting a very decided care for them. Some
New-world species have been examples of this; as, for instance, the
'garter-snake,' the 'chicken-snake,' and the 'yellow boa' of Jamaica
(_Chilobothrus inornatus_), the latter on several occasions, and
sometimes depositing eggs _at the same time_, but the eggs proving bad.

Mr Philip Henry Gosse, when in Jamaica nearly thirty years ago, gave
much careful attention to the habits of this 'yellow boa,' a snake
which sometimes attains eight or ten feet in length and is extremely
active. He records a great deal of highly interesting matter concerning
the _chilobothrus_; and, as a careful and conscientious observer, his
testimony is of much value. That this snake when at liberty lays eggs,
was well known, nests with eggs in them being often found. In one case
a 'yellow boa' was seen issuing from a narrow passage in a bank, which
when dug into was found to lead to a cavity lined with leaves and soft
trash, and containing eggs. This hole had been excavated, because the
dry crumbled earth was discharged at the entrance, where it lay in
a heap. The passage was only just large enough to admit the snake,
and the soft rubbish within must have been carried there. We cannot
positively assert that the snake constructed this skilful hiding-place
for herself, but if she did, she must have forced out the earth as
the burrowing snakes do, or by the muscular undulations of her body;
and she must have conveyed the leaves there in her mouth. Snakes do,
we know, sometimes make nests by coiling themselves round and round
to form a hollow. Under either circumstance maternal instinct is
undeniable; and if _chilobothrus_ merely discovered and appropriated
the nest of some other creature, her intelligence is still worth
recording.

We knew an instance where a snake in captivity exhibited restlessness
and uneasiness, crawling about the cage as if in search of something.
Those who had the care of it suspected she was with eggs, and placed
some sand in the cage. This appeared to satisfy her, and the eggs
were deposited. Mr Gosse had a Jamaica boa in the same condition. For
a long time it manifested discomfort and restlessness, being savage
and in every way objectionable, till at length it produced a family
of young ones. Knowing it was the habit of this snake to incubate its
eggs, Mr Gosse was greatly surprised at the event; and the startling
question occurred to him, that when circumstances are unfavourable for
the deposition of eggs, could a snake retain them until the young are
hatched?

Mr Gosse's surmises have been entirely confirmed both by similar
occurrences at the Zoological Gardens and by other writers, who in
the subsequent interval have also given careful attention to the
habits of Ophidians, and have produced valuable scientific works on
the subject. It is now an ascertained fact that not _chilobothrus_
only but several other oviparous species may at pleasure be rendered
viviparous by retarding the deposition of their eggs when circumstances
are unfavourable for them! In fact we find that we must almost
discard those old distinctions of _oviparous_, _viviparous_, and
_ovoviviparous_; which German authors tell us are not founded on any
other ground than a greater or less development of the fetus in the egg
at the time of laying; or on the nature of the exterior covering of the
egg; which is thicker and leathery in those which take some time in
hatching, and slighter and membranous in those which are hatched either
before or on deposition.

In serpents the eggs differ from those of birds by undergoing a sort of
incubation from the very first, so that whenever examined, the embryo
more or less advanced will be found. In the case of the pythoness of
1862, an egg was examined on the fifteenth day of incubation, and found
to contain a living embryo; a noteworthy fact, as the python incubates
for fifty-six days before hatching her eggs. Observations with the eggs
of _chilobothrus_ are attended by the same results--namely the fetus in
a certain stage of development is discovered whenever a gravid snake is
killed and examined. The young ones of the boa in the London collection
were perfectly developed and active, climbing all over their cage
as soon as they saw daylight. One family consisted of thirty-three;
another of eight; and another of fourteen. The activity and daring of
the snakelings were amazing, affording ample proof of their perfect
development. They were always on the defensive, shewing fight on the
slightest molestation. When the keeper put his hand into the nest among
them they seized upon it and held on so tightly with their teeth, that
on raising his hand they hung to it, wriggling and undulating like a
waving golden tassel. I ventured to take up one of these aggressive
little reptiles, but could scarcely hold it, from its energetic
wrigglings and contortions. It constricted my fingers tightly enough to
prove its singular instincts, and bit me savagely with its sharp little
teeth; but my glove being on, I permitted this, glad of so good an
opportunity for making personal observations.

It was said of the python that notwithstanding her care and vigilance
so long as she was incubating, when her snakelings were born she
took no notice of them. This may not always be the case. Vipers we
know are extremely watchful over their young; other snakes are often
seen accompanied by a young brood; and in the Jamaica boa maternal
affection is exhibited in no slight degree. A lady visiting the Gardens
compassionated one of these young families on the gravelly floor of
their cage, and brought a quantity of cotton wool, which was placed in
one corner. She was rewarded by seeing the luxury fully appreciated,
mother and little ones all huddling into it immediately.

That these non-venomous snakes thus produce their young under
_abnormal_ conditions is further confirmed by the varying size and
appearance of the offspring, and by their being more or less enveloped
in the shell-covering. Some are born quite coiled in the ruptured
shell, others with portions of it clinging about them, and others
again entirely free. Sometimes they are, as it were, imbedded in
the coriaceous covering. This was conspicuously the case with the
anaconda's progeny, but her young ones had every appearance of having
been a long while dead. The first of the six was freer from the shell
than the others, and about a foot and a half in length.

Snake-life is altogether marvellous. The power which some snake
mothers possess of retarding the deposition of their eggs, and we have
reason to believe, sometimes even the young when circumstances are
unpropitious for her to produce them, seems to us specially curious.
_Chilobothrus_ is known to have had both eggs and a living brood. So
has _Coronella lævis_. Of the latter, some German ophiologists state
that it is 'always viviparous;' others 'occasionally' so. In her native
Hampshire woods she has been seen with a young brood about her; but
there seems no satisfactory evidence of any eggs having been found.
Time and careful notings only can substantiate this and many other
singular facts regarding these 'wise' and 'subtle' creatures, hitherto
surrounded by prejudice and but little studied. We, not well versed
in Ophidian biographies, might have expected the anaconda to lay
eggs because her cousin the pythoness did so; and we might have also
speculated upon her incubating them, as the python did. But she has
produced a perfectly developed though dead family of six, instead; a
circumstance of so much interest to naturalists, that the loss of the
young ones is to be regretted though not wondered at. Captured from
her native lagoons, and shut out from the light of day in a box just
large enough to contain her, this 'good swimmer' arrives alive; thus
proving her amazing powers of endurance; but she has had no fitting
place in which to deposit her young, and they died unborn. Still it is
a noteworthy fact in the annals of zoology. At first, from the result
of observation, the incubation of the python was 'suspected;' then it
became confirmed; and the birth of young coronellas also. From this it
is evident that we cease to declare that only _vipers_ produce live
young; or, according to the original signification of the word, a boa,
a coronella, and several other non-venomous snakes would be 'vipers!'

Again, it is remarkable that these peculiarities of reproduction are
not confined to particular families and genera; because some coronellas
lay eggs, some incubate them, and others bring forth a live brood. So
also, while some of the _Boaidæ_ lay eggs, the anaconda is completely
viviparous.

We would venture to urge upon those lovers of nature who dwell 'remote
from towns' the value of careful observation and a noting down of what
appears unusual, even of the habits of the much persecuted snake.

    C. H.



PLAYTIME AT OXFORD.


'What is to be done this afternoon?' is a question invariably asked by
scores of undergraduates, either at the well-supplied breakfast-table
(for whatever men do not learn at Oxford, they at least learn to eat
a good breakfast), or by those victims of procrastination who leave
everything to the last moment, just as the scout is bringing up the
more modest luncheon.

There are certain rules at the university--social rules I mean--which,
though unwritten, are not to be broken save under severe penalties,
such as being entered among that class of undergraduates yclept
'smugs.' Of these unwritten laws, one of the best and most universal
enacts, that a great part of the afternoon shall be spent outside the
college, presumably in active and healthy exercise, even if it be
but a sharp constitutional. Not that this is a hardship, or that the
answers to the question, 'What's to be done?' and the modes of spending
these two or three hours, are monotonous or circumscribed. Far from
it. Many places may be more full of life and amusement than Oxford in
the morning and evening; but few, I am sure, can surpass the bill of
amusement which Alma Mater presents to us after lunch.

Every taste can find appropriate satisfaction, save perhaps the taste
for picturesque scenery, in which the neighbourhood of Oxford, to use
a 'varsity term, 'does not come out strong.' Still, if I may believe
report (never believe an undergraduate when he tells you a tale of a
fellow he knew), Cambridge is rather worse off. We have Shotover and
Bagley Wood to set against their Gog Magog Hills. Be that as it may,
simple walking does not find many advocates, except on Sunday, or as
a stop-gap on some off-day when rackets and the river begin to pall,
as every amusement seems to do by the end of term. I have even heard
a member of an eight-oar say after six weeks' daily attendance at the
river, that 'he really felt he'd had almost enough of it.' And it _is_
rather an objection to rowing, that as soon as your blisters have
hardened and you feel indifferent about the cushion on your chair,
the act of pulling your own weight and a trifle over begins to have a
certain sameness.

To return to walking. Much of that otherwise tame exercise is involved
in going to witness sports of various kinds. Almost every day in
winter there is either a football match or a racket match, or the
trial eights or some college sports to be inspected; or we may look
in at the fives-courts or at the gymnasium, and see Tompkins vaulting
the high-horse, which he does not do so well as at lunch; or to the
dog-fancier's in ---- Street, and look over Jenkens's bull-pup. Not
that there is any ratting going on of course, or such a thing as a
badger in the county; but these are lazy ways of getting through the
time, and except occasionally, none of our party is reduced to them.
No; for Brown votes for rackets: a game active enough, I can vouch.
It looks so easy to hit the ball with the great battledore-shaped
racket--until you try: perhaps as easy as battledore and shuttlecock,
now ousted by lawn-tennis. So just descend into the black-lined arena,
and you will discover that the small sphere you aim at finds out all
sorts of impossible angles, and dodges you in a way that no fellow can
stand; so that rackets is rather dispiriting to a beginner. Having
only once got up the ball in the course of an hour, and having sharply
struck myself on the side of the head with my own racket, to say
nothing of the curious attraction of the ball to my shoulder-blades,
I determined that that should be my last as well as first visit to
a racket court, charming as the game doubtless is when well played.
So Brown will not ask me to make up his four for Holywell. There are
also one or two tennis courts in Oxford; but I do not think that the
favourite game of the Merry Monarch is very generally played except on
grass.

I shall not part from Brown yet, but shall accompany him to Holywell
and get a hand in the fives-court. It is a hot game, but not a graceful
one, like rackets. It is all very well to poise your racket overhead,
sway backwards and send the whizzing ball against the wall. But it
is quite another thing to flounder after it with outstretched hands,
which seem monstrous in their hot clumsy gloves, and missing it by a
hair's-breadth, 'vainly beat the air.' Say what you like against it,
there is no better exercise, though I should not think of bringing a
certain young lady to witness my performances there, any more than I
should of asking her to come to hear me viva-voce'd in the schools.

But I have wandered from the subject to the fair sex. To return to
Jones, who is going to scull as far as Sandford in the fairy outrigger
in which he is proud to disport himself. With some reason too, for the
equal dip of the sculls in an outrigged skiff is hard to attain, and
the art of turning those craft in any reasonable space is known only to
a few of the initiated. I have always found that when I steered 'by the
bank,'

                              E'en for a calm unfit,
    I'd steer too near the sands to boast my wit,

as Dryden says; though I am not quite sure that he exactly means that.
Others of our luncheon-party are bound by college patriotism to go down
to the barges and undergo their day's training for the Torpids. These
are of the stalwart sort; but they will not have a very pleasant time
of it, nor will Jones in his skiff, for the wind is rather strong, and
the water even on the lower river must be pretty rough; so two of our
company, not of the stalwart kind, are going to the Freshman's river to
engage one of those sailing-vessels called at Oxford a 'centre-board.'
The wind is blowing fairly up stream; but they will have some trouble
at a certain corner called 'Blackjack;' and I shall not be surprised if
their new flannels are somewhat shrunken by to-morrow. Still they can
swim; and if they can't, they ought to.

Besides the Rugby votaries of football, the Association and other clubs
play in the parks. The practice of the former is the most interesting
to watch; and though this pastime is, not without some reason, deemed
by many to be silly and even barbarous, it seems to be generally
largely patronised by spectators.

We must not neglect the new running ground with its comfortable
pavilion, where, if we do not wish to take a trot ourselves, we may
read _The Field_, and watch through the window the training of the
crack whose performances it records. And talking of running, there
is or was a Hare and Hounds Club, which numbered some distinguished
runners among its members; and one college at least had lately, and
perhaps still has, a pack of beagles. If a man be of very solitary
habits and much inclined to hide him from his kind, there is
jack-fishing in many parts of the river, engaged in which contemplative
recreation he may moralise to his heart's content. There is a Gun-club
too; to say nothing of the hunters, hacks, and pony-carts which may
be obtained for a consideration. I don't know whether the hunters are
screws, for I've never tried one, and for the same reason I don't
know whether they are dear or cheap; on the whole, however, I should
be inclined to say _not_ cheap. Then there is a bicycling club, whose
members perform immense distances in wonderful times, and who talk of
going to Aylesbury or to Banbury and back, as outsiders do of Cowley
and Cuddesden. And if you are one of the country's defenders, are
there not drills in St John's Gardens, or parades in the Broad, and
evolutions of all kinds in the parks? harder work than the road-making
lately fashionable at Hinksey, near which, I believe, are the rifle
butts. Playing at labourers has gone out, I believe.

But the summer term is the term for fun. Woful is the man who is in
the schools in the bright days of June, when the sun at length gets
through the Oxford fogs. The summer term is, technically speaking,
two terms, for there are four terms in the 'varsity year, though no
'varsity man ever yet knew the distinctive names of them; and so the
summer terms are twice as jolly as the other two, though only equal
to one in length. Ah me! I shall soon have cause to sigh for the days
that are no more. Then cricket and lawn-tennis, the eight-oar races,
the lazy punt and nimbler canoe, cider-cup and skittles at Godstow,
bathing at Parsons, archery and croquet, and cousins and sisters, and
the occasional flower-show, will recur amongst the standing-orders of
the past!

Every afternoon, when it is fine, the cricket-grounds, most of which
are at Cowley, present a lively scene. The practising nets are
occupied by batsmen, the sound of whose strokes on the much-enduring
leather is like the tap, tap, tapping at the hollow beech-tree, or at
the garden-gate, according to the taste of the listener. If you go
in front of the nets, keep your eyes and ears open, or you may get
knocked down by a stray ball--a danger kept constantly in your mind by
frequent cries of 'Head!' which cause many to anticipate the bump in
store for one. A man does not look to advantage at the moment when he
becomes conscious of a descending cricket-ball in close proximity to
the back of his head. In the centre of the ground a college match is
being played; and in the tiny structure often graced by the title of
Pavilion much beer is being consumed. At the further end, a couple of
games of lawn-tennis are being briskly kept up. Altogether, the college
ground is not a bad place in which to spend the afternoon, even though
you may not be A1 at cricket.

As to the river, every visitor to Oxford in the summer term has seen
that, and its varied and variegated load of eight-oars, four-oars,
dingies, whiffs, skiffs, cockle-shells, pairs, punts, and coal-barges.
For my own part I prefer the Cherwell and the cushioned punt. It is not
a bad plan to get on shore in the Botanical Gardens, and stroll up the
High as far as Cooper's, wherein to consume strawberry ices. I do not
much affect the archery and croquet, nor yet the flower-shows; very
good in their way, I daresay, but you can enjoy them at home, where a
racket court, or even a skiff, is not always handy, and where skittles
are apt to be voted low, and the secrets of cider-cup hidden from the
butler's ken. So make your hay while the sun shines. And almost as fast
as the skittles fall before the practised hurler, fly the nine weeks
of the summer term, which comes to most men but three times in their
lives; and if enjoyed again, must be so generally only at the expense
of a disastrous 'plough,' a catastrophe which necessitates extra
reading and perhaps a change of residence.

So the curtain falls upon the glories of the final tableau, the
Commemoration, a tableau which has sadly wanted its proper amount of
blue-fire lately. Even the Long Walk is beginning to fail as an avenue,
and there are some gaps in the foliage, I think. All work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy: but even though he _does_ work, and 'reads' when
he ought, Jack need not be dull withal at dear old Oxford.



THE MONTH:

SCIENCE AND ARTS.


While the President of the Royal Society is travelling in America,
studying, in company with Professor Asa Gray, the peculiar vegetation
at the foot of the Rocky Mountains--while Dr Tyndall is solacing
himself with a quiet holiday in his own house on the Bel Alp--while
spectroscopists are rejoicing in the new 'grating' constructed by
Professor Rutherford, which multiplies to an extraordinary degree their
power of observation--while physicists and naturalists are betaking
themselves to inland villages or to remote bays on the sea--while
amateurs are looking at the one hundred and seven photographs of
the Arctic expedition recently published by the Admiralty--while
artists, engravers, and printers are at work on the voyage of the
_Challenger_--while readers are acquainting themselves with Mr
Darwin's new book, _The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the
same Species_--while the British Association are reckoning up the
profit and loss of their meeting at Plymouth--while the promoters of
the Ordnance Survey of Palestine are appealing for funds to finish
their work--while geographers and adventurers are soliciting means
for the exploration of Africa--while Europe is trying to prevent
immigration of the Colorado beetle--while Mr Varley is attempting by
telephone to carry music from Her Majesty's Theatre to the 'other side
of the water'--while the Treasury are considering whether they will
ask parliament to vote three million pounds for the building of the
much wanted new public offices--while Mr Berthollet is pointing out
'the possibility of producing temperatures really approaching three
thousand degrees'--while Mr Rarchaert is shewing that his locomotive,
combining the two essentials of adherence and flexibility, will travel
safely round curves of two hundred and fifty mètres radius--while Mr
Cornet, chief engineer of mines in Belgium, is endeavouring to prove
that compressed air can be used in mines; and while the Social Science
Council are settling their programme for amendment of law, repression
of crime, promotion of education, improvement of health, furtherance
of economy and trade, and diffusion of art--while all this is going
on, science, art, and philosophy progress in a way that implies force
within as well as without.

Where steam is employed, especially on board ship, it not unfrequently
happens that a sudden occasion arises for exercise of the utmost power
of the engines, and that to this gain extreme power for the short
time required is of more importance than economy of coal. The method
hitherto adopted to effect this object is to drive more air through the
fire, or to throw a jet of steam into the chimney.

Mr Bertin, a French marine engineer, has proved that the best method
is to throw jets of slightly compressed air into the base of the
chimney by means of a centrifugal ventilator, or at higher pressure by
employing a blowing-machine working with a piston. Under the transitory
action of these jets of air the combustion in the furnace is doubled,
and the ship, like a warrior in extremity, may make efforts impossible
in ordinary circumstances. The increase in the consumption of coal
is not more than twenty per cent.; and the method having been tried
on board one of the national frigates, _La Résolue_, has proved so
effectual, that its adoption is only a question of time. Mr Bertin has
described his method and the principles on which it is based in a paper
to be published in the _Bulletin_ of the Société d'Encouragement pour
l'Industrie Nationale.

The same Society have just recognised the merits of an English chemist,
Mr Walter Weldon, by conferring on him their Lavoisier medal--_grande
medaille d'honneur_--for his discoveries and improvements in the art
of manufacturing chlorine. Formerly all the manganese used in the
process was wasted, and manganese became scarcer and dearer. Waste is
an opprobrium in chemical operations. Mr Weldon shewed a way by which
the manganese could be reoxydised over and over again indefinitely;
and at once an offensive part of the process was got rid of, and the
price of chlorine fell thirty per cent. This of course cheapened
all the articles, and they are numerous, in the production of which
chlorine plays a part; and Mr Weldon's method has been adopted wherever
chemicals are manufactured on a great scale. Mr Lamy, who drew up the
statement of the grounds on which the medal was awarded, said: 'If we
have not the good fortune to designate a Frenchman for your suffrages,
at least we have the satisfaction to present an inventor belonging to
a friendly nation, the first among all for the development and the
potency of its chemical industry.'

If this be true, there is a chance for another ingenious chemist for
the Council General of Guadeloupe offer a reward of one hundred
thousand francs to the inventor of a new method of extracting the juice
of the sugar-cane, or of manufacturing sugar.

Hitherto it has been thought that to produce a good black dye the
co-operation of a metallic substance or of a chlorate, or both
combined, was indispensable. The question arose: Were those ingredients
really indispensable? Mr Rosenstiehl first shewed that the metal might
be dispensed with, and recently, as may be seen in the _Annales de
Chimie et de Physique_, Mr Coquillion has proved that the chlorate is
not required, for in the one case as in the other, the use of 'nascent'
or active oxygen will effect the desired object. We are informed that
the fact observed by the French chemist 'is an elegant demonstration of
the action of active oxygen upon aniline salts; that it will perhaps
enable us to obtain blacks derived from aniline in a state of greater
purity, and to hasten the moment when we shall know their elementary
composition; a question which, in view of its great interest, has been
proposed for a prize by the Industrial Society of Mulhausen.'

Mr Cornet, whose name has been mentioned above, in a mathematical
discussion of the question, says that compressed air would be largely
used in mining operations 'were it possible to keep the temperature
of the air from rising during compression much above that of the
atmosphere, and from falling during expansion to the temperature
of freezing water.' And he thinks that he has found 'the means for
attaining this end in the use of water-spray, which could be introduced
into the cylinder of the compressor, and into that of the machine using
the air in the mine.' The practical details are not yet made known; but
if they succeed, 'the use of compressed air in mines will soon become
general, and the problem of mining at any depth will be solved.'

One part of the method devised by Mr Cornet had been previously thought
of; for in 1875 an air-compressor was working in the St Gothard tunnel,
of which it was said: 'The heat produced by compression is reduced by
the circulation of cold water in the walls of the cylinder, in the
interior of the piston and its rod; and an injection of water-spray
at the two extremities of the cylinder completes the cooling.' When
the compressors were at work they supplied to the tunnel fifteen cubic
mètres of air per minute.

When messages were first sent by telegraph, many persons were
exceedingly puzzled to understand how they were sent; and now the
telephone has come to disturb them with another puzzle. But scientific
men have long known that 'galvanic music,' as it is called, was
discovered forty years ago, that an electro-magnet on being suddenly
magnetised or demagnetised gives out audible sounds, and that many
notices of the curious fact were printed in English and foreign
journals. Professor Graham Bell, whose experiments have been already
mentioned in these pages (_ante_ 208, 415), succeeded in making the
sounds, which were commonly very faint, audible to a large number of
persons. This was accomplished, as he explains, 'by interposing a tense
membrane between the electro-magnet and its armature. The armature in
this case consisted of a piece of clock-spring glued to the membrane.
This form of apparatus,' he continues, 'I have found invaluable in all
my experiments. The instrument was connected with a parlour organ,
the reeds of which were so arranged as to open and close the circuit
during their vibration. When the organ was played, the music was loudly
reproduced by the telephonic receiver in a distant room. When chords
were played upon the organ, the various notes composing the chords were
emitted simultaneously by the armature of the receiver.'

'The simultaneous production of musical notes of different pitch by
the electric current,' continues Professor Bell, 'was foreseen by
me as early as 1870, and demonstrated during the year 1873. Elisha
Gray of Chicago, and Paul La Cour of Copenhagen, lay claim to the
same discovery. The fact that sounds of different pitch can be
simultaneously produced upon any part of a telegraphic circuit is of
great practical importance; for the duration of a musical note can
be made to signify the dot or dash of the Morse alphabet; and thus a
number of telegraphic messages may be sent simultaneously over the same
wire without confusion, by making signals of a definite pitch for each
message.'

By instalments of news from the Pacific we hear of the tremendous
earthquake that occurred last May; but for precise details we shall
have to wait until reports are published in the scientific journals
of the United States. Meanwhile, we learn that the great volcano of
Kilauea in Hawaii began to be restless on the first of the month; a
few days later huge columns of lava were thrown up, vehement jets of
steam burst forth from a long range of fissures, and all the startling
phenomena of a mighty eruption, including drifts of Pele's hair, were
observed. This evidence of disturbance deep down in the earth was
corroborated by an earthquake, which about half-past eight on the
evening of the 9th terrified and devastated the coast of Peru, and
occasioned greater ruin than the similar calamity in 1868. Iquique is
said to be completely destroyed, and other towns and cities along two
hundred miles of coast suffered more or less severely. As usual, the
commotion of the land produced a commotion of the water, and the sea
rolling great waves upon the shore, intensified the havoc. The waves
varied in height from ten to sixty feet; and we are told that 'four
miles of the embankment of the railway were swept away;' and that
'locomotives, cars, and rails were hurled about by the sea like so many
playthings.'

Also, as is usual in such catastrophes, the earthquake wave was
propagated; and between four and five of the morning of the 10th, it
(that is the sea) rushed upon the Hawaiian Islands in waves varying
from three to thirty-six feet in height. Thus in eight hours the
resistless oscillation had traversed the five thousand miles which
separate the islands from the South American continent.

From this brief sketch it is obvious that there is much in this
calamitous visitation to interest the physicist and geologist as
well as the philanthropist. Information will in all probability be
communicated from other places until the remotest points at which the
disturbance was felt shall have been ascertained.

As relating to this subject we remark that the hair of Pele--a Hawaiian
goddess--above mentioned can be produced artificially in a blast
furnace. It has been described in former pages of this _Journal_ as
'slag cotton.'

We learn by a communication from Hawaii to the American Journal of
Science and Arts that a grand outburst occurred in February last, but
ceased quite suddenly, to the disappointment of visitors who came
expecting to see a volcanic display. As the vessel was steaming away,
they saw in deep water, a mile off Kealakekua, the place where Captain
Cook was killed, a remarkable heaving and bubbling, intermingled
with jets of steam, and throwing up of pumice and light scoria. This
commotion was still going on five weeks afterwards. It was occasioned
by a subterranean lava-stream which, after rending the mountain slopes
with deep fissures, found an outlet under the sea.

The Weather Review published by the United States Signal Service
contains details of the wave which may be accepted as trustworthy.
'About 8.50 P.M. of May 9, heavy earthquake shocks were felt over the
region between Arica and Mexillones (border of Peru and Bolivia). The
oceanic wave which immediately followed was of great violence along
the adjoining South American coast, and was felt also as far north as
California, the rise at Anaheim being twelve feet in a few minutes.
At Callao, Peru, the wave was felt at 11 P.M.; at San Francisco was
perceptible at 6.18 A.M. May 10, with increase to a maximum of fourteen
inches at 8.20. It reached the Sandwich Islands, eastern Hawaii, at
Hilo, at 4 A.M.; and the great wave, thirty-six feet high, came in at
4.45. At Honolulu it was first felt at 4.45, and was followed by the
great wave at five o'clock.'

In a subsequent communication it is stated that thirty-six hours after
the inrush of the great wave at Hilo, the rising and falling still
continued, 'the incoming and outflowing wave occupying about an hour,
the latter leaving the channels nearly bare.'

Our American cousins are not disposed to accept their plague of
locusts as an inevitable calamity, for the Entomological Commission
appointed by the government at Washington have published two numbers
of a _Bulletin_, with woodcuts, giving information on the natural
history of the devouring insects and on the various methods proposed
for their destruction. It is shewn that by systematic endeavours before
the creatures get their wings they may be destroyed on a great scale,
for then it is possible to drive them in enormous 'schools' or flocks
as easily as sheep. Millions fall into long straight ditches dug as
traps and there perish; millions more are crushed by rollers; hogs
and poultry devour them greedily; and a number of ingenious machines
stand ready to catch the winged locusts in the air or to capture them
as they crawl. One of these machines produces a powerful upward blast
which sucks up the crawlers from the ground, and drives them into a
receptacle where they are smashed to a pulp. American ingenuity is
roused by the swarming inroad, and it will be interesting to watch the
struggle. Meanwhile the States adjacent to the Rocky Mountains are
anxiously asking which is to conquer, man or locust?

Concerning the Colorado beetle, Mr Riley, State Entomologist for
Missouri, reports that the eastward progress of the insect 'was at the
average rate of eighty-eight miles a year, and that it has now invaded
nearly a million and a half square miles, or more than one-third the
area of the United States. It does not thrive where the thermometer
reaches one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and hence it may never extend
its range very far south of the territory now occupied; but its
northern spread is not limited; and it may push to the northernmost
limit of the potato-growing country.'

Special associations for special objects are a characteristic of the
present century, so it seems quite natural that there should be a
'Society of Americanists,' whose object is to gather information about
America. They meet once in two years; their next meeting is to be
held next month at Luxemburg; and we learn from their programme that
their inquiries are to apply to the times anterior to the discovery
of America by Columbus. Thus the picture-writing of the Mexicans,
their civil legislation under the Aztecs as compared with that of the
Peruvians under the Incas; the inscriptions in the ancient cities
of Central America, the ancient use of copper, the works of the
mysterious mound-builders, the comparison of the Eskimo language with
the languages of Southern America; traditions of the Deluge especially
in Mexico; the discovery of Brazil, and other ethnographical and
palæographical subjects. If this scheme be wisely and diligently
followed out, there is reason to hope that some light will be thrown
into the obscurity of early American history.

A description of the great river Amazons and of the vast region watered
by its affluents, by Mr R. Reyes, is published in the _Bulletin_
of the Société de Géographie, at Paris. He calls it the American
Mediterranean, and shews that by itself and its feeders, the noble
stream borders the territories of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia,
Venezuela, and Brazil. Ships of the largest class can navigate to a
distance of three thousand miles from the sea, and ascend some of the
tributaries from two to nine hundred miles, through a country rich and
fertile almost beyond description. The forests produce four hundred
different kinds of wood, mostly of excellent quality, as may be seen in
the Museum at Rio Janeiro; and fruits, drugs, and minerals abound.

A tourist wishful to take a holiday in the tropics may now embark in
the West Indies, cross to the mainland, steam up the Magdalena to
the city of Purification in the Colombian State Tolima. Thence by a
land-journey of three days he reaches the steamers on the affluents of
the Amazons, and ends his voyage of four thousand miles on the great
Brazilian river.

       *       *       *       *       *

TO THE READERS OF _CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL_.


Next month will be commenced a Romance, in Three Parts, by 'ALASTER
GRÆME,' entitled

    FROM DAWN TO SUNSET,

to run through several months of this _Journal_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In January 1878 will appear the first chapters of a Novel, by JOHN
BERWICK HARWOOD, entitled

    HELENA, LADY HARROWGATE.

       *       *       *       *       *

Encouraged by the still increasing popularity of _Chambers's Journal_,
the Conductors will spare no effort to maintain its attractiveness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON,
and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note--The following changes have been made to this text:

Page 534: Masterhorn to Matterhorn.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 713, August 25, 1877" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home