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 ]

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. 736, February 2, 1878
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. 736, February 2, 1878" ***

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. 736.     SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1878.      PRICE 1½_d._]



MISS STIRLING GRAHAM.


Fifty years ago, or thereabouts, when by good fortune my brother and I
were permitted to make some advance towards an acquaintance with the
luminaries which at that time in a remarkable manner distinguished
society in the Scottish capital, we one evening, at the house of John
Archibald Murray—afterwards Lord Murray—enjoyed the satisfaction of
seeing a lady who some years previously had become locally famous.
She was a lively pleasant person, rather small in figure, unmarried,
and had seemingly reached middle age. From her manners she evidently
moved among people in the higher circles. As to her language there
was the marked peculiarity that, besides a Scottish intonation, there
was a pretty frequent use of the Scottish dialect—that which is best
exemplified in Burns; for as yet there were still a few northern ladies
of rank who in conversation did not disdain to employ incidentally
words in the national vernacular. They spoke as they had been taught
in early life, and as they were accustomed to speak among old and
familiar friends. There was nothing coarse or vulgar in their language;
the Scotch words gave an agreeable flavouring to their discourse. Lady
Anne Lindsay, the writer of _Auld Robin Gray_, was a good specimen of
this lingering class of high-born ladies, who understood and still
occasionally used a Scotch seasoning in their conversation. Lord
Cockburn has presented some charming reminiscences of this class of
ladies, and he wrote just at the time when they had very nearly died
out.

The lady who interested us on the present occasion was Miss Stirling
Graham of Duntrune. As we understood, she lived mostly at the family
estate in Forfarshire, with a mansion overlooking the estuary of the
Tay, and commanding a distant view of St Andrews. Usually she spent
her winters in Edinburgh, where she was immensely esteemed for her
geniality and accomplishments. My brother, who had already written much
about the disastrous troubles in Scotland in the seventeenth century,
felt a peculiar interest in Miss Stirling Graham, on account of her
connection by heritage with that historical personage, John Graham
of Claverhouse—the terrible Claverhouse described by Scott in _Old
Mortality_, for his persecution of the Covenanters, and who as Viscount
Dundee perished by a musket-shot at the battle of Killiecrankie, 1689.
Claverhouse was a Forfarshire man. Leaving no immediate heirs, his
estates devolved on a cousin, David Graham of Duntrune; this person was
succeeded by his last surviving son, on whose demise the property was
inherited equally by his four sisters; one of these sisters was the
mother of Clementina Stirling Graham, the lady to whose memory we have
devoted the present paper.

Moving about at evening parties among the literati and the more eminent
lawyers, Miss Stirling Graham, by her original humour and tact, may
be said to have kept the town in a pleasant kind of buzz. Nature
seemed to have designed her to be an actress. She possessed the power
of simulation to a degree almost unexampled; also the powers of an
improvisatrice which have been very rarely excelled. Her wit and her
personations, however, were always exclusively employed to promote
harmless mirth among her select acquaintances, and we know she would
have shrunk from anything like a public exhibition. She was great in
personifying and mimicking old Scottish ladies, or indeed Scottish
women in the humbler ranks of life, for which her acute observation
of character and her knowledge of the vernacular tongue particularly
qualified her. Her deceptions were numerous, but all of an innocent
kind. In her latter days, at the solicitation of friends, she gave an
account of her principal personations, which was printed for private
distribution, under the title of _Mystifications_. The book being much
sought after in this country and America, the authoress was prevailed
on to let it be published in the usual way (Edmonston and Douglas),
1865; yet, we doubt, after all, if this handsome volume, which was
edited by Dr John Brown, is so well known as it should be, and we
propose to give one or two alluring specimens of the contents.

The first Mystification in the book is that which signalised Miss
Stirling Graham’s success in deceiving Mr Jeffrey, the eminent
practising lawyer, and at the same time editor of the _Edinburgh
Review_. Jeffrey had been introduced to the lady, and had heard of
her cleverness in personation. Meeting her afterwards at the theatre,
he said he should like to see her _take in_ some one. A promise was
given that he should have that pleasure very soon. Likely enough,
the busy advocate thought nothing more of the matter. On the second
evening afterwards, accompanied by Miss Helen Carnegy of Craigo as
her daughter, Miss Stirling Graham, who at the time had been on a
visit to Lord Gillies, stopped at Mr Jeffrey’s door, 92 George Street,
between five and six o’clock, when she knew Mr Jeffrey was at home and
preparing for dinner. The two ladies were ushered into the parlour
appropriated for visitors. What follows we copy in a somewhat condensed
form from the account in _Mystifications_.

‘There was a blazing fire, and wax-lights on the table; he [Jeffrey]
had laid down his book, and seemed to be in the act of joining the
ladies in the drawing-room before dinner. The Lady Pitlyal was
announced, and he stepped forward a few paces to receive her. She was a
sedate-looking little woman of an inquisitive law-loving countenance;
a mouth in which [by an adroit management of the lips] not a vestige
of a tooth was to be seen, and a pair of old-fashioned spectacles on
her nose.... She was dressed in an Irish poplin of silver gray, a white
Cashmere shawl, a mob-cap with a band of thin muslin that fastened it
below the chin, and a small black silk bonnet that shaded her eyes
from any glare of light. Her right hand was supported by an antique
gold-headed cane, and she leant with the other on the arm of her
daughter.

‘Mr Jeffrey bowed, and handed the old lady to a _chaise longue_ on one
side of the fire, and sat himself down opposite to her on the other.
But in his desire to accommodate the old lady, and in his anxiety to
be informed of the purport of the visit, he forgot what was due to the
young one, and the heiress of the ancient House of Pitlyal was left
standing in the middle of the floor. She helped herself to a chair,
however, and sat down beside her mother. She had been educated in
somewhat of the severity of the old school, and during the whole of
the consultation she neither spoke nor moved a single muscle of her
countenance.

“_Well!_” said Mr Jeffrey as he looked at the old lady, in expectation
that she would open the subject that had procured him the honour of the
visit.

“Weel,” replied her Ladyship, “I am come to tak’ a word o’ the law frae
you.

“My husband, the late Ogilvy of Pitlyal, among other property which he
left to me, was a house and a yard at the town-end of Kirriemuir, also
a kiln and a malt-barn.

“The kiln and the barn were rented by a man they ca’d John Playfair,
and John Playfair subset them to anither man they ca’d Willy
Cruickshank, and Willy Cruickshank purchased a cargo of damaged lint,
and ye widna hinder Willy to dry the lint upon the kiln, and the lint
took low and kindled the cupples, and the slates flew aff, and a’ the
flooring was brunt to the ground, and naething left standin’ but the
bare wa’s.

“Now it wasna insured, and I want to ken wha’s to pay the damage, for
John Playfair says he has naething _ado wi’ it_, and Willy Cruickshank
says he has naething _to do it wi’_, and I am determined no to take it
off their hand the way it is.”

“Has it been in any of the Courts?”

“Ou ay; it has been in the Shirra Court of Forfar; and Shirra Duff was
a gude man, and he kent me, and would ha’ gien’t in my favour, but that
clattering creature Jamie L’Amy cam’ in, and he gave it against me.”

“I have no doubt Mr L’Amy would give a very fair decision.”

“It wasna a fair decision when he gae it against me.”

“That is what many people think in your circumstances.”

“The minister of Blairgowrie is but a fule body, and advised me no to
gae to the law.”

“I think he gave you a very sensible advice.”

“It was onything but that; and mind, if you dinna gie’t in my favour,
I’ll no be sair pleased.”

‘Mr Jeffrey smiled, and said he would not promise to do that, and then
inquired if she had any papers.

“Ou ay, I have a great bundle of papers, and I’ll come back at any hour
you please to appoint, and bring them wi’ me.”

“It will not be necessary for you to return yourself; you can send them
to me.”

“And wha would you recommend to me for an agent in the business?”

“That I cannot tell; it is not my province to recommend an agent.”

“Then how will Robert Smith of Balharry do?”

“Very well; very good man indeed; and you may bid him send me the
papers.”

‘Meantime her Ladyship drew from her pocket a large old-fashioned
leather pocket-book with silver clasps, out of which she presented
him a letter directed to himself. He did not look into it, but threw
it carelessly on the table. She now offered him a pinch of snuff from
a massive gold box, and then selected another folded paper from the
pocket-book, which she presented to him, saying: “Here is a prophecie
that I would like you to look at and explain to me.”

‘He begged to be excused, saying: “I believe your Ladyship will find me
more skilled in the _law_ than the _prophets_.”

‘She entreated him to look at it; and on glancing his eyes over it, he
remarked, “that from the words _Tory_ and _Whig_, it did not seem to be
a very ancient prophecy.”

“Maybe,” replied her Ladyship; “but it has been long in our family.
I copied these lines out of a muckle book entitled the _Prophecie of
Pitlyal_, just before I came to you, in order to have your opinion on
some of the obscure passages of it. And you will do me a great favour
if you will read it out loud, and I will tell you what I think of it as
you go on.”

‘Here, then, with a smile at the oddity of the request, and a mixture
of impatience in his manner, he read the following lines, while she
interrupted him occasionally to remark upon their meaning:

    When the crown and the head shall disgrace ane anither,
    And the Bishops on the Bench shall gae a’ wrang thegither;
            When Tory or Whig,
            Fills the judge’s wig;
            When the Lint o’ the Miln
            Shall reek on the kiln;
            O’er the Light of the North,
            When the Glamour breaks forth,
            And its wild-fire so red
            With the daylight is spread;
    When woman shrinks not from the ordeal of tryal,
    There is triumph and fame to the House of Pitlyal.

“We ha’e seen the crown and the head,” she said, “disgrace ane anither
no very lang syne, and ye may judge whether the bishops gaed right
or wrang on that occasion; and the _Tory_ and _Whig_ may no be very
ancient, and yet never be the less true. Then there is the Lint o’ the
Miln—we have witnessed that come to pass; but what the ‘Light of the
North’ can mean, and the ‘Glamour,’ I canna mak’ out. The twa hindmost
lines seem to me to point at Queen Caroline; and if it had pleased God
to spare my son, I might have guessed he would have made a figure on
her trial, and have brought ‘Triumph and fame to the House of Pitlyal.’
I begin, however, to think that the prophecie may be fulfilled in the
person of my daughter, for which reason I have brought her to Edinburgh
to see and get a gude match for her.”

‘Here Mr Jeffrey put on a smile, half serious half quizzical, and said:
“I suppose it would not be necessary for the gentleman to change his
name.”

“It would be weel worth his while, sir; she has a very gude estate,
and she’s a very bonny lassie, and she’s equally related baith to
Airlie and Strathmore; and a’body in our part of the warld ca’s her the
Rosebud of Pitlyal.”

‘Mr Jeffrey smiled as his eyes met the glance of the beautiful flower
that was so happily placed before him; but the Rosebud herself returned
no sign of intelligence.

‘A pause in the conversation now ensued, which was interrupted by her
Ladyship asking Mr Jeffrey to tell her where she could procure a set of
_fause teeth_.

“_Of what?_” said he, with an expression of astonishment, while the
whole frame of the young lady shook with some internal emotion.

“A set of fause teeth,” she repeated; and was again echoed by the
interrogation, “_What?_”

‘A third time she asked the question, and in a more audible key; when
he replied, with a kind of suppressed laugh: “There is Mr Nasmyth,
north corner of St Andrew Square, a very good dentist; and there is Mr
Hutchins, corner of Hanover and George Street.”

‘She requested he would give her their names on a slip of paper. He
rose and walked to the table, wrote down both the directions, which he
folded and presented to her.

‘She now rose to take leave. The bell was rung, and when the servant
entered, his master desired him to see if the Lady Pitlyal’s carriage
was at the door.

‘He returned to tell there was no carriage waiting, on which her
Ladyship remarked: “This comes of _fore-hand payments_—they make
_hint-hand wark_. I gae a hackney-coachman twa shillings to bring me
here, and he’s awa’ without me.”

‘There was not a coach within sight, and another had to be sent for
from a distant stand of coaches. It was by this time past the hour of
dinner, and there seemed no hope of being rid of his visitors.

‘Her Ladyship said she was in no hurry, as they had had tea, and were
going to the play, and hoped he would accompany them. He said he had
not yet had his dinner.

“What is the play to-night?” said she.

“It is the _Heart of Midlothian_ again, I believe.”

‘They then talked of the merits of the actors, and she took occasion to
tell him that she patronised the _Edinburgh Review_.

“We read your buke, sir!”

“I am certainly very much obliged to you.”

‘Still no carriage was heard. Another silence ensued, until it
bethought her Ladyship to amuse him with the politics of the country.

‘Here the coach was announced, and by the help of her daughter’s arm
and her gold-headed cane, she began to move, complaining loudly of a
_corny tae_. She was with difficulty got into the coach. The Rosebud
stepped lightly after her.

‘The door was closed, and the order given to drive to Gibb’s Hotel,
whence they hastened with all speed to Lord Gillies’s, where the party
waited dinner for them, and hailed the fulfilment of the “Prophecie of
Pitlyal.”

‘Mr Jeffrey, in the meantime, impatient for his dinner, joined the
ladies in the drawing-room.

“What in the world has detained you?” said Mrs Jeffrey.

“One of the most tiresome and oddest old women I ever met with. I
thought never to have got rid of her;” and beginning to relate some of
the conversation that had taken place, it flashed upon him at once that
he had been _taken in_.

‘He ran down-stairs for the letter, hoping it would throw some light
upon the subject, but it was only a blank sheet of paper, containing a
fee of three guineas.

‘They amused themselves with the relation; but it was not until the
day after that he found out who the ladies really were. He laughed
heartily, and promised to aid them in any other scene they liked to
devise.’ He returned the fee with an amusing characteristic letter,
in which he concluded with best wishes for the cure of her Ladyship’s
corns.

With similar dexterity, this marvellously clever lady figures on nearly
a dozen different occasions in town and country, sometimes in one guise
and sometimes in another, mystifying even the most incredulous by her
manœuvres.

About the best Mystification recorded is that in which as a daughter
of a poor man, Sandy Reid in the Canongate, the lady imposed on Sir
William Fettes, who had been Lord Provost in Edinburgh, and left a
fortune to endow a college which is now in successful operation. We let
Miss Stirling Graham relate the adventure.

‘I once got half-a-crown from Sir William Fettes when he was dining
with a few friends at his sister, Mrs Bruce’s. She and Lady Fettes put
it into my head to ask charity from him, in the character of a daughter
of an old companion of his, whose name was Sandy Reid. And whether
Sandy Reid ever had a daughter was nothing to the purpose. Sir William
had lost sight of the man, and I had no previous knowledge that ever
such a person was in existence. Dressed in a smart bonnet and shawl
belonging to Lord Gillies’s housekeeper, I boldly rang the door-bell,
and demanded of the servant if I could get a word of Sir William.

‘On the message being carried up-stairs, the ladies desired that the
person who wished to speak with Sir William might be shewn into Mrs
Bruce’s dressing-room, where behind the window-curtains were stationed
a merry party of some half-a-dozen listeners.

‘Enter Sir William. “Well, my good woman, what is your business
with me?” “To ask your help, sir, in behalf of the widow and the
fatherless.” “And pray who are you?”

“I am the daughter of ane Sandy Reid, who was weel kenned to your
honour; his father lived next door to your father in the Canongate.”
“Ay, are you the daughter of Sandy Reid?”

“I am proud to say sae.” “And what has reduced you to this plight, my
good woman?” “Just an ill marriage, Sir William.” “I am sorry for that;
but you say you are a widow.” “I am no’ just a widow; but my husband
has run aff wi’ another woman.” “That is very unfortunate; but what is
your husband?” “A soldier, sir.” “An officer of the soldiers you mean,
I suppose?”

“Na, na, Sir William; he is but a single soldier.” “And did Sandy
Reid’s daughter marry a single soldier?” (Weeping)—“It is o’er true,
Sir William; but he was a bonny man, and I ne’er thought he would
forsake me.” “And did your father consent to your marrying a single
soldier?” “Oh, no, Sir William; but it was ordained.”

“Have you any family, or any means of living?” “I have five boys; and
I wash and iron, and do all I can to get bread to them.” “Where do you
live?”

“In Elder Street.” “In Elder Street! that seems to me rather an
expensive part of the town for a person in your circumstances.”

“It is but a garret, sir, up four pair of stairs.”

“Are any of your children at school?” “No, sir; but the eldest is in
Provost Manderson’s [drug] shop, who has been very kind to him, and
ta’en him aff my hand. And the second is a prentice to a tobacconist;
and (here weeping bitterly) the rest are in the house, for I have
neither decent claes to put upon them, nor siller to send them to the
schule; and this is Saturday night, and no sae muckle meat within the
door as put by the Sabbath day.”

“I am sorry for you, and grieved to see Sandy Reid’s daughter come to
this; but you must be sensible, that for a person in your situation,
your present dress is rather too showy and extravagant.” “That’s true,
Sir William; but gentle servants are no’ civil to poor folk when they
come ill-dressed.”

“I believe, indeed, that is too true, but your dress is quite
unsuitable.” “Indeed, Sir William, I borrowed this bonnet and shawl
from a gentleman’s housekeeper, just for the purpose of waiting upon
you, for I am in great want.”

“Well, there is half-a-crown to help you in the meantime; and I will
inquire at Provost Manderson about you on Monday, and if you be
speaking the truth, I will see and get your children into some of the
Hospitals.”

‘Here the party broke out from behind the curtains’—and we may suppose
that Sir William was a good deal amazed as well as amused at the adroit
way he had been taken in.

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Stirling Graham long outlived the early friends whom she delighted
with her personations; but drawing out existence to an advanced age,
she still surrounded herself with an agreeable society, and was loved
by all whom she honoured with her acquaintance. She was a great
reader, and possessed good literary abilities, as is observable by her
_Mystifications_, and by the anecdotes which conclude the volume, also
by the following lines, addressed to those ‘Shadows of the Past’ whom
she held in remembrance:

      Blessed shades of the past,
    In the future I see ye, so fair!
      Ties that were nearest,
      Forms that were dearest,
    The truest and fondest are there.

      They are flowerets of earth,
    That are blooming in heaven, so fair:
      And the stately tree,
      Spreading wide and free,
    The sheaves that were ripened are there.

      The tear-drop that trembled
    In Pity’s meek eye; and the prayer,
      Faith of the purest,
      Hope that was surest,
    The love all-enduring are there.

      And the loved, the beloved,
    Whose life made existence so fair!
      The soft seraph voice
      Bade the lowly rejoice,
    Is heard in sweet harmony there.

This gifted and venerable lady died at her mansion at Duntrune on
the 23d August 1877, at the extreme age of ninety-five. Perhaps, the
present paper may help to make her _Mystifications_ more extensively
known than hitherto; this object, however, might be better served by a
cheap and popular edition of the work, amplified by explanatory notes.
The book, enriched by the tasteful preface of Dr John Brown, is a gem
which ought not to drop out of notice.

        W. C.



HELENA, LADY HARROGATE.

CHAPTER VII.—A NEW FACE AT CARBERY.


‘She be coming for sure. Carriage, with second coachman, just getting
ready for a start to Dundleton, to meet the down train at 9.17,’ said
a pink-faced youth, whose stature and chest measurement would have
procured for him the interested admiration of a sergeant-major in Her
Majesty’s Brigade of Guards, but who was as yet but imperfect in his
domestic drill as third footman at Carbery Chase.

‘What’s 9.17?’ demanded the mature female addressed, with some
asperity, as she dredged flour over some cunningly compounded mess
simmering beside the fire in the back-kitchen. ‘Can’t you give a body
the time o’ the day? They didn’t cut it so fine when I was your age,
young chap!’

And indeed it is marvellous to note how the junior population
throughout Western Christendom appears to have learned to think and
speak by railway time, and to have been, as it were, inoculated by
Bradshaw.

‘Thought you knowed all that ’n, cook!’ half-sulkily, half-apologetically
rejoined the gigantic hobbledehoy, mindful of that functionary’s
empire over the roasts, subject of course to the high fiat of Monsieur
Cornichon, the white-capped and black-bearded _chef_.

‘Anyhow, this Miss Whatshername ’ll be here soon after eleven.’

‘Willis is her name, and she comes from the Ingees,’ put in a
tart young town-made house-maid. ‘I wonder if she’s black?’ This
quasi-witticism provoked a titter among the rest of the under-servants
there collected; for anything was welcome that could excuse a laugh;
and besides, a new recruit to the aristocracy of the waited-upon is
sure to be smartly criticised by the plebs of those who wait.

‘_I_ wonder,’ said the old sub-cook, stirring her saucepan, ‘if she’ll
be setting her cap at young Mr Jasper?’

‘The captain knows too well on which side his bread is buttered,’
pronounced the gaunt house-maid-in-chief, an invaluable female,
lynx-eyed for spiders’ webs, and vigilant as to the minutest details of
bedroom duty.

Opinions at Carbery Chase were very much divided as to the new-comer’s
exact status and claims to consideration. There were those who
invidiously described her as ‘Sir Sykes’s charity child,’ and appeared
to regard her as a species of genteel mendicant most foolishly invited
down to Devonshire. There were others who were not sorry for the
arrival of any one considered capable of lending animation to a house
where the regular routine of every-day life ran on with somewhat
sluggish flow. And there were a few philosophers in plush or white
aprons, much flouted by the rest, who held that Sir Sykes was himself
the best judge as to what guests, permanent or temporary, should be
allowed to share the shelter of his roof at Carbery.

That there was enough and to spare in that opulent mansion which
acknowledged Sir Sykes Denzil for its master, was patent to all.
Large as was Sir Sykes’s household and handsome his expenditure (for
how many baronets chronicled in the gilt-edged volumes of Messrs Dod
and Debrett, can afford themselves the luxury of a third and fourth
footman, a French _chef_ like high-salaried M. Cornichon, and a groom
of the chambers?), he was known to live within his income; and was
rumoured by his inferiors to be guilty of the offence, never mentioned
otherwise than with a resentful reverence, of ‘putting by.’ Sir Sykes’s
men and maids were probably not students of Dean Swift’s ironical
advice to their order; but we may rely on it that the servants of
Dives himself had strongly defined ideas as to the proportion of high
feasting that should accompany the purple and fine linen of their
patron.

Meanwhile, in spite of the early training which is supposed to make an
Englishman of Sir Sykes Denzil’s degree as outwardly impassive as a Red
Indian, no one at Carbery appeared to think so much about the arrival
of Miss Willis as did the baronet himself. Her coming did not now at
anyrate partake of the character of a surprise, for weeks had naturally
elapsed between the incoming of the late and that of the new mail, and
there had been time enough for preparations, if such were necessary.
Sir Sykes, however, on the morning of his ward’s arrival could not
avoid, not merely the being nervous and anxious, but the exhibiting to
all who cared to look of his inexplicable nervousness and unreasonable
anxiety. He went and came at frequent and irregular intervals between
his own traditional apartment the library, and that morning-room
where his daughters usually sat over their sketches and lacework and
china-painting, and all those laborious trifles on which young ladies
employ their taper fingers.

That their father was undignified in his apparently uncalled-for
agitation as to the Indian orphan’s arrival, was too evident not to be
recognised by even the most dutiful of daughters. But both Blanche and
Lucy willingly accounted for the baronet’s restlessness on the ground
of the revival of early associations, acting on the nerves of one whose
health was no longer robust.

‘Let her only come here and quietly drop into her place among us,’
said the elder sister to the younger; ‘and depend upon it, papa will
find her presence at Carbery as unexciting as though she were a
supplementary daughter returning “for good,” as the girls call it, from
a boarding-school.’

Jasper could, had it so pleased him, have considerably enlightened the
ignorance of his unsuspecting sisters. But the captain prudently said
nothing, and did not ostensibly keep watch upon his father’s actions,
or deviate much from his own habit of indolently hanging about the
stables, the kennels wherein sleek pointers and shaggy retrievers
howled and rattled their chains, the billiard-room, and other resorts
of ingenuous youth. The baronet’s nervousness was not in itself
surprising to him, in whose memory was fresh the conversation which
he had overheard while lurking in the mean garden of _The Traveller’s
Rest_; but he could only conjecture what might be the hidden springs
that prompted a course of conduct difficult to reconcile with a clean
conscience and a secure worldly position.

‘I never,’ said Jasper to himself musingly, as he knocked about the
balls on the billiard-table, ‘heard a word against the governor. He was
awfully needy and that sort of thing once, of course; but I never knew
there to be a whisper of any sharp practice either at écarté or with
the bones. Had there been such, some good-natured fellow or other about
the clubs would have let fall a hint of it before now in my hearing, or
some servant would have tattled, when I wore a jacket and was Master
Jasper. He’s not much liked, my father, but respected he is. I doubt
if many, who fluked by a lucky chance upon a great fortune, get so
civilly spoken of behind their backs.’

Jasper was not one to have cherished those tender recollections of
infantine joys and sorrows, which with some men remain green and fresh
to the last. He had, to use his own expression, to ‘hark back’ with
painful effort and purpose, ere he could reproduce before his mental
vision the long past of his early boyhood. ‘I have a vague notion,’
said he, after an interval of this appeal to memory, ‘that my mother
gave me more sweetmeats than were good for me, and that she, and I
too, seemed to stand in awe of my father. I’m sure I don’t know why,
unless it were because he was serious and silent—a grave Spanish Don,
as I used to think. But she said too that he had been of a livelier
mood once, and something about his high spirits having deserted him
just when the world began to smile. My old nurse—what was her name, I
wonder?—Wiggins, Priggins—all nurses are named something of the sort,
and all combine to dote over the little wretches that torment them—used
to talk about the governor’s sad looks dating from the loss of that
young sister of mine. She would have been younger than Lucy, older than
Blanche, I take it. But why, in the name of common-sense, a man of
the world should never forget the loss of a chit in the nursery—that
is, if it was all on the square—but then, again, the motive!’ And the
captain’s arching eyebrows and the compression of his thin lips were
very expressive of his readiness to believe the very worst that could
be believed as to his nearest and dearest, if only a plausible reason
for such villainy could be alleged. ‘If it had been myself now,’ he
muttered, as he sent the red ball, with a mechanical precision that
proved him a dexterous pool-player, into pocket after pocket of the
green table; ‘but even then the governor, who had Apollyon’s own
luck, did not need to cut off the entail by illegal methods. He’s no
life-tenant of Carbery, as he makes me feel whenever our views don’t
exactly coincide; could leave it to my sisters; or back again, if
he chose, to the De Vere lot; and so, what interest he could have
had in spiriting away little Mabel Denzil, is a question that I defy
Œdipus, or a modern racing prophet, to answer.’ Having said which, the
captain rang the bell for something to drink, drank that something,
and immersed his fine faculties in the delightful study of a sporting
newspaper.

Jasper had not had leisure to thread his way very far through the
labyrinth of darkling vaticinations, so dear to men who like himself
are of the horse, horsey, as to probable or certain winners of
important events to come off, or to discriminate with sufficient nicety
between the inherent truth or falsehood of the reports that made the
barometer of the betting world oscillate so wildly between panic
and exultation, before the grinding of wheels on the smooth gravel
announced the arrival of the carriage, and that Sir Sykes’s ward was at
the threshold of Carbery Court, her future home.

‘I’d give a trifle,’ thought Jasper, ‘to know how many throbs to the
minute the governor’s pulse is giving just now. I suppose, like a
pattern guardian, he will receive her in the hall. I’ll wait till the
first disjointed welcomes are over, and then drop in and inspect the
new importation. I wonder if she drinks rum, like her brother?’

The captain had drawn, mentally, a fancy portrait of Hold’s sister, and
had marvelled how Blanche and Lucy would be likely to get on with such
a one as she could scarcely fail to be. But at the very first glance
Jasper abandoned as untenable the conjecture that Miss Willis could
drink rum, and he owned to himself, with the candour which men of his
stamp exhibit in self-communing alone, how very wide of the mark was
the likeness which his imagination had traced.

Miss Willis was very short and slight, and the deep mourning which she
wore made her look even slighter and shorter than she really was. She
had jet black hair that curled naturally, which, as if in ignorance or
defiance of fashion, she wore in a crop, and which made the whiteness
of her skin seem more conspicuous than it would otherwise have done.
A pale little face, lit up by a pair of fine dark eyes, that drooped
modestly to the carpet, as suitable to her shy, timid air. Whether she
were pretty or the reverse, was not to be so summarily settled as is
the case with most of her sex.

It was the eyes, and the eyes alone, that lent a marked peculiarity to
the countenance of Sir Sykes’s ward. Look at them, and the verdict that
Miss Willis was charming would have been pronounced by many women and
most men. Confine the scrutiny to the other features, and the judgment
that the Indian orphan was a plain, pale little creature, would as
inevitably have resulted. She looked young, quite a girl. The delicate
smoothness of her cheek suggested that her age might be under twenty;
but there was a subdued thoughtfulness in her aspect that might have
harmonised well with her years, had she been older by a lustrum.

‘I was talking of Œdipus,’ such was Jasper’s soliloquy after a
half-hour spent in the new arrival’s company; ‘but here is the Sphynx
herself, by Jove!’

It was with an inexpressible sentiment of relief that the baronet saw
what style of person his ward appeared to be. Here were no solecisms
in breeding, no coarseness of tone, or affectations more painful than
honest roughness ever is, to wince at, to gloss over, to excuse on the
ground of a youth spent in a far country, and often in stations where
European society was scarce, and perhaps not always choice as regarded
its quality. Sir Sykes had reckoned, at best, on a probationary
period during which he should have had to play the irksome part of an
apologist for the shortcomings of her whom he had invited to be the
companion of his own daughters.

But Sir Sykes and Jasper, too, were forced to admit that Miss Willis
was either an actress of consummate address, or, what really seemed the
more probable, was merely appearing in her genuine character. Timid and
somewhat constrained, but not awkward, was her manner of responding
to the warm greeting of Sir Sykes’s two daughters and to the grave
urbanity of the baronet himself. She did not say much; but her voice
trembled when she thanked Sir Sykes for his ‘extreme kindness’ to a
stranger like herself. Then Blanche kissed her. She should not be a
stranger long, she said. And then the girl broke down, sobbing. ‘How
good you all are to me,’ she said. ‘I hope—I do hope not to be very
troublesome, not to’——

And then there were more tears and more kissing; and the Misses Denzil
took complete possession of their new friend, and bore her off to be
installed in her room, and to learn to be at home at Carbery. Nothing
could have gone off better than the orphan’s reception; and even Jasper
felt this, and forbore to sneer. His own heart was as hard as the
nether millstone; but he accepted the fact that his sisters possessed
organs of a different degree of sensibility, precisely as he owned that
roses had perfume, and that the thrushes and nightingales sang sweetly
in the garden.

‘She’s no more the sister of yonder pirate fellow,’ such was the
captain’s conclusion, ‘than the last Derby winner was a drayhorse. I
thought the rascal spoke mockingly of the relationship between her and
him. No; she’s not Hold’s sister. I wonder whether she is mine?’

In the course of the afternoon of that day, Lord Harrogate, who had
ridden over from High Tor, made his appearance. There was, as has been
mentioned, a frequent exchange of neighbourly communications between
the two great houses of the vicinity. The Earl, it is true, seldom
called upon Sir Sykes, and Sir Sykes as seldom on the Earl; but the
Countess was often at Carbery, and the young people of both families
were much in each other’s company. By the time of Lord Harrogate’s
visit, the girl from India had made considerable progress in winning
the good-will of the Misses Denzil, prepossessed in her favour from
the beginning. They had devoted the time since luncheon to shewing
her the lions of Carbery—the tapestry of the ‘Queen’s Chamber,’ faded
but sumptuous; the stained glass; the chapel; the pictures; the grand
conservatory, built by a former lord of Carbery, on a scale too
ambitious for the use of a private family, and which was kept up at a
cost which even Sir Sykes murmured at; and the other local curiosities.

The orphan had proved herself a patient and intelligent sight-seer,
willing to be pleased, thankful for the kind desire of her entertainers
that she should be pleased, and discriminating in her admiration. There
was still some constraint in her manner, and of herself and her former
life she scarcely spoke. Perhaps her loss was too recent for her to be
able to talk freely of India, while of the journey to England she said
little. ‘There were fellow-passengers who took much care of me,’ she
replied once, in answer to a question on Lucy’s part. ‘Indeed, I met
kindness on every hand. Perhaps my being alone, and my black frock’——
And then her eyes filled with tears and she turned her head away.

Lord Harrogate, when introduced to the baronet’s ward, experienced
one of the oddest sensations that he had ever felt, and akin to that
tantalising, nameless thrill with which we all sometimes fancy that we
have seen some place which we know ourselves to visit for the first
time, or witnessed some scene which never before met our eyes. He
had started, when first he saw Miss Willis, and had eyed her in the
inquiring fashion in which we scan a face familiar to us. But it was
evident that Miss Willis did not know him, as indeed it was impossible
that she, Indian born and bred, and now in England for the first
time, should know him. And yet, long after he had left Carbery, the
perplexing thought occurred to him again and again that he remembered
the face, which, as all could aver, he had beheld for the first time on
that day.



LIFE AT NATAL.


Lady Barker, to whom the public is indebted for the most practically
useful works on New Zealand which have been placed within the reach
of the intending emigrant, having now completed a year’s residence
in our South African colony, gives us, in _A Year’s Housekeeping in
South Africa_ (London: Macmillan & Co.), the benefit of her recent
experience in a volume equally useful and entertaining. As compared
with Christchurch, the capital of the province of Canterbury, in
New Zealand, Maritzburg, in ‘fair Natal,’ is a backward and sleepy
place. Recent events may have the effect of developing its ambition
and accelerating its speed. But here is Lady Barker’s description of
its actual condition: ‘Maritzburg consists of a few straight, wide,
grass-grown streets, which are only picturesque at a little distance
on account of their having trees on each side. On particularly dark
nights, a dozen oil-lamps, standing at long intervals apart, are
lighted; but when it is even moderate starlight, these aids to finding
one’s way about are prudently dispensed with. Only two buildings make
the least effect. One is the Government House, standing in a nice
garden, and boasting of a rather pretty porch, but otherwise reminding
one, except for the sentinel on duty, of a quiet country rectory.
The other is a small block comprising the public offices. A certain
air of quaint interest and life is given to the otherwise desolate
streets by the groups of Kaffirs, and the teams of wagons waiting
for their up-country loads. Twenty bullocks drag these ponderous
contrivances—bullocks so lean that one wonders how they have strength
to carry their wide-spreading horns aloft; bullocks of a stupidity
and obstinacy unparalleled in the natural history of horned beasts.’
These teams are called ‘spans;’ and when, on Sundays, the teams and
the wagons are ‘outspanned’ on the green slopes around Maritzburg, the
aspect of the place, generally dull and lifeless, becomes strikingly
picturesque.

The road to Maritzburg from Port Durban, at which travellers to
Maritzburg land from the steamer which conveys them to Cape Town, is
very tedious to travel by the government mule wagon, which bumps about
in ruts, and sticks in mud after a fashion that renders the prospect
of the railway now in course of construction very attractive to the
expectant colonists; but it is also very beautiful. ‘Curved green
hills, dotted with clusters of timber exactly like an English park,
and a background of distant ranges rising in softly rounded outlines,
with deep violet shadows in the clefts, and pale green lights on
the slopes,’ form its principal features. Nestling amid this rich
pasture-land are the kraals of a large Kaffir ‘location;’ and it is
satisfactory to learn that in our South African colony at least, the
native population has not been entirely sacrificed to the white man.

At Durban there is a funny little railway between the town and the
‘Point;’ ‘a railway,’ says Lady Barker, ‘so calm and stately in its
method of progression, that it is not at all unusual to see a passenger
step deliberately out when it is at its fullest speed of crawl, and
wave his hand to his companions as he disappears down the by-path
leading to his little home. The passengers are conveyed at a uniform
rate of sixpence a head, which sixpence is collected promiscuously by a
small boy at odd moments during the journey.’

A great, indeed an inexhaustible, charm of the country is the wonderful
profusion and variety of flowers which grow everywhere; precious
things only to be seen here in stately glass houses and per favour
of scientific head-gardeners, growing in wild abundance, hiding the
ugliness of buildings, delighting the eyes and cheering the heart
of the colonist. As the drawbacks to a residence in ‘fair Natal’
are numerous and undeniable, it is right to dwell a little upon the
exceeding beauty of floral nature there. If flowers could only be
eaten, what a prosperous place Natal would be, or if the soil would
only grow cereals as it grows flowers! To walk on the grassy downs
is to walk among beautiful lilies in scarlet and white clusters,
endless varieties of periwinkles, purple and white cinerarias, and
golden bushes of the Cape broom, which we all know here as so great
a beautifier of landscape. Tall arum lilies fill every water-washed
hollow in the _spriuts_ (or brooks), and ferns of all kinds abound.

If the Kaffirs would work with even moderate application, the formation
of a luxuriant garden of fruit, flowers, and vegetables would be easily
within the reach of any dweller on the soil. The grass is always
cleared away for a considerable distance round the house, because
snakes are unpleasantly numerous, and grass affords cover for them; in
the instances of fine gardens, a broad walk of a deep rich red colour
intervening between the house and the gardens, contrasts beautifully
with the flower-beds, which are as big as small fields.

The red soil is very destructive to clothing, but it adds to the beauty
of the landscape. ‘Green things,’ says the author, describing a Natal
garden, ‘which we are accustomed to see in England in small pots,
shoot up here to the height of laurel bushes. In shady places grow
many varieties of fern and blue hydrangea, and verbena of every shade
flourish. But the great feature of this garden is roses, of at least a
hundred different sorts, which grow untrained, unpruned, in enormous
bushes covered by magnificent blossoms; each bloom of which would win
the prize at a rose-show. Red roses, white roses, tea roses, blush
roses, moss roses, and the clear old-fashioned cabbage rose, sweetest
and most sturdy of all; there they are at every turn—hedges of them,
screens of them, and giant bushes of them on either hand.’ Add to
this a bright swift brook trickling through the garden, the constant
sweet song of the Cape canary, and crowds of large butterflies of ‘all
glorious hues,’ which are quite fearless and familiar, perching on the
flowers and on the walks, and one gets a delightful notion of a Natal
garden.

This is, however, the bright side of the picture of life in our South
African colony; its practical aspects are less enticing, though the
drawbacks are chiefly such as will be removed in most cases, and
modified in all, when railway traffic shall be established in the
country; a devoutly-to-be-wished consummation, not very distant.
At present, we are told, the necessaries of life are very expensive
and difficult to procure; the importation of English servants is
almost always a failure; and the Kaffirs, though they have many good
qualities, are difficult to teach, very lazy, and given to starting off
to their native kraals for an improvised holiday of uncertain duration,
without the smallest regard to domestic exigences or the convenience of
their employers.

The soil is wonderfully prolific but under-cultivated, and the cost of
transport is enormous. Here is a statement which will no doubt in a few
years be looked back upon with wonder by the author herself, and read
with self-gratulatory retrospective compassion by settlers in Natal
under the railway regime: ‘The country’ (between Maritzburg and Durban)
‘is beautiful; but except for a scattered homestead here and there, not
a sign of a human dwelling is there on its green and fertile slopes.
All along the road, shrill bugle-blasts warned the trailing ox-wagons,
with their naked “forelooper,” at their head, to creep aside out of the
way of the open brake in which we travelled. I counted one hundred and
twenty wagons that day on fifty miles of road. Now, if one considers
that each of these wagons is drawn by a span of thirty or forty oxen,
one has some faint idea of how such a method of transport must use up
the material of the country. Something like ten thousand oxen toil over
this one road summer and winter; and what wonder is it not only that
merchandise costs more to fetch up from Durban to Maritzburg than it
does to bring out from England, but that beef is dear and bad?

As transport pays better than farming, we hear on all sides of farms
thrown out of cultivation; and in the neighbourhood of Maritzburg it is
esteemed a favour to let you have either milk or butter at exorbitant
prices and of most inferior quality. When one looks round at these
countless acres of splendid grazing-land, making a sort of natural
park on either hand, it seems like a bad dream to know that we have
constantly to use preserved milk and potted meat, as being cheaper and
easier to procure than fresh.’

Durban is a picturesque town, but the sand and the dust are
overpowering. Fine timber abounds; the different kinds of wood having
the queerest of names. Three of the hardest and handsomest native woods
are called respectively stink-wood, breeze-wood, and sneeze-wood. In
Durban too, magnificent flowers are everywhere in the utmost profusion;
at the fête of ‘The First Sod’ the spot was beautifully decorated with
plants and blossoms which would have cost a large sum in England; but
these were cheaper than the nails and string used in their arrangement.
This fête of ‘The First Sod’ afforded a favourable opportunity for
seeing all classes of the population, colonists, Kaffirs, and coolies,
for they all flocked into Durban; and Lady Barker says a shrewd thing
in reference to the populace in general: ‘It was the most orderly and
respectable crowd which could possibly be seen. In fact, such a crowd
would be an impossibility in England or any higher civilised country.
There were no dodging vagrants, no slatternly women, no squalid,
starving babies. _In fact, our civilisation has not yet mounted to
effervescence, so we have no dregs._’

We have been told wonders of the salubrity and delightfulness of the
climate of Natal; but Lady Barker does not indorse the statements
in which we have hitherto placed confidence. The alternations of
heat and cold are very trying; the rains are sudden and violent; and
thunder-storms are of almost daily occurrence and great severity. After
one very grand storm she found a multitude of beautiful butterflies
dead on the garden paths; their plumage was not dimmed nor their wings
broken; they might have been ready prepared for a collection, quite
dead and stiff.

Amongst the fauna of Natal, birds, reptiles, and insects abound.
The natives suffer much from snake-bites, and white new-comers from
mosquitos; all classes from ‘ticks,’ which also persecute the dogs
and horses. The native language is very melodious and easily learned;
and the Kaffirs pick up a little English readily enough. They are
indeed a clever race and very home-loving. One genius of the author’s
acquaintance, called ‘Sixpence,’ had actually accompanied his master
to England, whence he returned with a terrible recollection of an
English winter, and a deep-rooted amazement at the boys of the Shoe
Brigade who wanted to clean his boots. That astonished him, Sixpence
declares, more than anything else. Lady Barker is emphatic in her
advice to all colonists that they should make up their minds from the
first to have Kaffir servants. One ‘Tom,’ a nurse-boy, figures in her
book most amusingly; he is a capital fellow; and it is to be hoped he
has abandoned the intention, which he confided to his mistress, of
resigning his position after ‘forty moons,’ because by that time he
should be in a position to buy plenty of wives, who would work for him
and support him for the rest of his life. A Kaffir servant usually gets
a pound a month, his clothes, and food. The clothes consist of a shirt
and trousers of coarse check cotton, and a soldier’s cast-off greatcoat
for winter—all the old uniforms of Europe find their way to South
Africa; and the food is plenty of ‘mealies’—or maize meal for ‘scoff,’
the native name for a mixture which probably resembles porridge. If a
servant be worth making comfortable, one gives him a trifle every week
to buy meat. The only effectual punishment and the sole restraint which
can be placed on the Kaffir propensity to break things, is a system of
fines.

A native kraal consists of a cluster of huts which exactly resemble
huge beehives. There is a rude attempt at sod-fencing round them, and
a few head of cattle graze in the neighbourhood. Women roughly scratch
the earth with crooked hoes to form a mealy-ground. Cows and mealies
are all the Kaffirs require, except blankets and tobacco. The latter is
smoked out of a cow’s horn. ‘They seem a very gay and cheerful people,’
says the author, ‘to judge by the laughter and jests I hear from the
groups returning to their kraals every day by the road just outside
our fence. Sometimes one of the party carries an umbrella; and the
effect of a tall Kaffir clad in nothing at all, and carefully guarding
his bare head with a tattered “Gamp,” is very ridiculous. Often one of
the party walks first, playing upon a rude pipe; whilst the others jig
after him, laughing and capering like boys let loose from school, and
all chattering loudly.’

No man, except he be a white settler’s servant, ever carries a
burden. When an ‘induna’ or chief is ‘on the track,’ he rides a sorry
nag, resting only the point of his great toe in the stirrup, like the
Abyssinians. He is followed by his ‘tail’ or great men, who carry
bundles of sticks and keep up with the ambling steed. Then come the
wives, bearing heavy loads on their heads; but walking with firm
erect carriage, their shapely arms and legs bare, their bodies, from
shoulder to knee, clothed in some coarse stuff, which they drape in
exquisite folds. Lady Barker describes the Kaffir women as looking
neither oppressed nor discontented, but healthy, happy, jolly, lazy,
and slow to appreciate any benefit from civilisation, except the money,
concerning which they, in common with most savages, display a keenness
of comprehension hardly to be improved upon.

A dozen miles from Maritzburg, on the road which forms the first stage
of the great overland journey to the Diamond Fields, is the little town
of Hawick, on the river Umgeni, which widens down just beneath it to
an exquisitely beautiful fall. Over the brink goes the wide, smooth,
waveless sheet of water, in an absolutely straight descent of three
hundred and twenty feet. From the highest point of the road above the
river, the Drakensberg Mountains, snow-covered, except in the hottest
summer, are visible, and though majestic, they are disappointing. They
are a splendid range of level lines, far up beyond the floating clouds.
‘I miss,’ says the author, ‘the serrated peaks of the Southern Alps
and the grand confusion of the Himalayan range. This is evidently the
peculiarity of the mountain formation of South Africa; I noticed it
first in Table Mountain at Cape Town; it is repeated in every little
hill between Durban and Maritzburg, and carried out on a gigantic scale
in this splendid range.’

Lady Barker made an interesting excursion of over one hundred miles
into the Bush, where she saw real savage Kaffir life, splendid forest
scenes, and came on traces of the wild animals, which are being rapidly
exterminated. With one forest picture we regretfully take leave of
this interesting volume: ‘The tall stately trees around, with their
smooth magnificent boles, shoot up straight as a willow wand for sixty
feet and more before putting forth their crown of leafy branches; the
more diminutive undergrowth of gracefulest shrubs and plumy tufts
of fern and lovely wild-flowers, violets, clematis, wood anemones,
and hepaticas, shewing here and there a modest gleam of colour. But
indeed the very mosses and lichens at our feet are a week’s study,
and so are the details of the delicate green tracery creeping close
to the ground. Up above our heads the foliage is interlaced and woven
together by a perfect network of “monkey-ropes,” a stout and sturdy
species of liane, which are used by the troops of baboons which live
in those great woods, coming down in armies when the mealies are ripe,
and carrying off the cobs by armfuls.’ It is spring-tide (September)
when Lady Barker lays down her pen; soon, we hope, to resume it, and
tell us of the growth of the colony. ‘Everything is bursting hurriedly
and luxuriantly into bloom. The young oaks are a mass of tender green,
and even the unpoetical blue gums try hard to assume a fresh spring
tint. The fruit-trees look like large bouquets of pink blossom, and
the loquot trees afford good sport in climbing and stone-throwing
amid their cluster of yellow plums. On the _veldt_ the lilies are
pushing up their green sheaths and white or scarlet cups through the
yet hard ground, and the black hill-slopes are turning a vivid green,
and the flowers are springing up in millions all over my field like
flower-beds. Spring is always lovely everywhere, but nowhere is it
lovelier than in fair Natal.’



A PERILOUS POSITION.

IN TWO CHAPTERS.—CHAPTER I.


‘Now, look here, Fred; you’ve exactly an hour and a half to get back
in,’ said Mr Middleton after luncheon. ‘I shall be at the mill by three
precisely. Are you sure you can manage it?’

‘Oh, quite certain of it, sir,’ was my confident reply. ‘Why, I could
go to M—— and back within the hour, easy riding. I’ll not keep you
waiting, depend upon it.’ So saying, I vaulted the low sill of a window
which stood wide open, and approached a couple who were strolling upon
the lawn in front of Holm Court, the aristocratic-looking dwelling I
had quitted.

Of this couple, one was a young lady, very fair and, in my eyes at
least, very beautiful. She was the elder child and only daughter of
the Mr Middleton already mentioned; a mill-owner who had realised a
gigantic fortune by manufacturing; and in three days she was to be my
wife. I for my part was a young man of good family, possessed of an
independent fortune, in my twenty-second year, and ardently attached to
my intended bride. That this attachment was mutual, I was, moreover,
well assured; and on that delicious summer afternoon life opened before
me full of brilliant promise. So happy indeed did I feel, that it was
with difficulty I could restrain my jubilation within bounds, and
compel myself to walk along the ground at a reasonable and gentlemanly
pace, instead of running or leaping as, in my ecstasy, inclination
prompted.

As I neared her my darling stepped forward to meet me; and after a
few words upon another subject, she administered an anxious caution
apropos of an adventure in which I was about to join, and to which I
shall advert immediately. I assured her in return that there was no
danger connected with it; and with an affectionate temporary adieu,
we parted. Looking back as I prepared to mount my horse, which, held
by a groom, stood ready saddled before the hall door, I saw my sweet
girl rejoined by the companion, who, upon my approach, had sauntered
away from her to some short distance. This companion was a Mr Marmaduke
Hesketh, a fine-looking handsome man, about thirty-five, second-cousin
to Mr Middleton, and lately returned from America. That this gentleman
entertained towards my humble self feelings of a no very friendly
character, I was well aware, although he had never addressed to me a
single discourteous word; and the cause of his antipathy I had divined.
He too was in love with Clara Middleton; I was sure of it, although he
had never told her so; and although Clara herself, when I mentioned
my impression to her, laughed at me for it, and called me a ‘fanciful
goose.’ Her rallying, however, did not shake my conviction of the
truth, and I felt very sorry for the poor man. As his successful rival,
I could afford to pity him; and I had too much confidence in Clara’s
affection to feel an atom of jealousy, even when, as now, I left him
alone in her company.

My foot in the stirrup, I was preparing for a spring to the saddle,
when my name, called eagerly from behind, arrested the action; and
turning, I saw Clara’s brother—a nice-looking lad of twelve or
so—running breathlessly down the broad steps of the entrance-hall.

‘I say, Mr Carleton,’ he panted on reaching my side, ‘mamma wants you,
please, to get her a bottle of chloroform from Pennick’s the druggist
when you’re passing. And I say; mind you don’t forget my string, will
you? It’s to be as strong as ever you can get it, you know, for it’s
such a big kite; and two balls, mind—big ones. You’ll be sure and
remember?’

‘Oh, I’ll remember, Charlie, safe enough,’ I returned, smiling. ‘String
and chloroform—two important commissions. I’ll not forget. Bye-bye, my
boy.’ And giving my horse his head, I trotted down the avenue, passed
the lodge gates, and turned in the direction of the busy manufacturing
town of M——.

My errand there was to see the clergyman who was to officiate at the
marriage, and to arrange with him some slight alteration in the hour
previously appointed for the ceremony. On my return from this visit I
was, according to agreement, to meet Mr Middleton and Mr Hesketh on
the site of a large cotton-mill in process of erection by the former.
Of this mill one portion was already completed, namely, an enormous
chimney—the broadest and tallest by far of any in the county. Mr
Middleton, exceedingly proud of his chimney, and considering it a
masterpiece of enterprise, had determined beforehand to ascend to its
summit as soon as it should be finished; and in this expedition he
had invited Mr Hesketh and myself to accompany him. The scaffolding
used in building it having been removed, the ascent was to be made by
means of a bucket or car (similar to those employed in the descent of
coal-pits), affixed to two strong chains, passing over pulleys which
ran on pins built into the chimney at the top; and the car was to be
worked by a windlass.

It wanted exactly five minutes to three when I arrived at the
rendezvous—my business at M—— transacted, and the chloroform and
string I had been commissioned to purchase in my pocket. Giving my
horse into the charge of one of Mr Middleton’s employés, of whom there
were several about, I walked towards the subterranean entrance to the
chimney, near which I perceived Mr Marmaduke Hesketh standing. He
looked rather pale, I thought, as courteously advancing on my approach,
he imparted to me the information that Mr Middleton had just received
a telegram summoning him to the bedside of his brother, Captain
Middleton. That gentleman, it appeared, had been taken suddenly and
dangerously ill; and full of anxiety, Mr and Mrs Middleton had already
started off for F—— Junction, in order to catch the first train thence
to the town, some twenty miles distant, where the captain was stationed
with his regiment. Mr Middleton had, however, my informant proceeded,
expressed, before leaving, a desire that we would not allow his absence
to interfere with our project of ascending the chimney; and he, Mr
Hesketh, concluded by hoping that I would not object to accompany him
alone, as he very much wished to see the view from the top, and would
not, as I knew—for he was leaving Holm Court the next day—have another
opportunity of doing so.

Young and fond of adventure, I had rather enjoyed the prospect of
this enterprise, and though disappointed not to carry it out in my
intended father-in-law’s company, I saw no reason for declining Mr
Hesketh’s proposal to go with him alone. Accordingly, signifying
my assent to it, we proceeded to enter the chimney together. Some
half-dozen men were waiting within, in readiness to turn the crank of
the windlass; and a moment later, swaying and vibrating in mid-air,
we were slowly ascending through the gradually narrowing aperture of
the great chimney. On gaining the top I was the first to step from the
bucket; but Mr Hesketh was speedily by my side. The stone coping being
fully two feet in width and having a narrow parapet a foot in height,
presented a perfectly safe footing. I had a strong head, and had not
expected to feel dizzy; yet, as I now gazed from that tremendous
height, a singular feeling of insecurity seized upon me.

‘Will you not walk round?’ said my companion when we had stood together
for a few seconds on the spot where we had alighted.

‘Oh, certainly,’ I replied with an assumption of boldness, but an
inward shrinking from the ordeal; and with Mr Hesketh at my heels, I
commenced the circuit.

About half the short distance was accomplished, when a hand laid on
my arm arrested my steps. ‘We’ve a fine view from here—haven’t we?’
observed Mr Hesketh as I stopped, a sensation of dread thrilling
through my nerves at his touch. ‘You see Holm Court there, down to the
right, don’t you?’

‘Of course, quite plainly,’ I returned, clearing my throat to cover the
strange nervous uneasiness I was experiencing.

‘So glad I persuaded you to come and see the view,’ he remarked next in
a very peculiar tone, and at the same time tightening his grasp upon my
arm. ‘But it’s an awful height, isn’t it; I hope you don’t feel giddy?’

‘Not at all,’ I replied, endeavouring to keep my composure as I gazed
downwards at the long perpendicular wall of smooth brick, but feeling
that I was trembling perceptibly.

‘And yet there is but a step between us and death,’ he pursued with
a sneer. ‘Hollo! I’m quoting Scripture, I declare. You wouldn’t have
expected that of me; would you?’

‘Oh, anybody can quote Scripture, you know,’ I responded with a ghastly
attempt at airiness. ‘But I say, Hesketh, let go my arm, will you?
You’re hurting me.’

‘Hurting you, am I? Ha, ha! I beg your pardon, I’m sure,’ he laughed,
increasing instead of diminishing the vice-like pressure of his
fingers. ‘I wouldn’t hurt you for the world; O no! But now, if you’ve
quite finished with the scenery, Mr Frederick Carleton, I’ll trouble
you to give me your attention for a moment. I’m going to ask you a
question, which you may perhaps consider somewhat curiously timed. I am
not a vain man, that I know of; but I should like to have your opinion
respecting my personal appearance. Should you feel justified now, for
instance, in describing me as a well-built, powerful kind of man?’

Considering that he was upwards of six feet in height, broad and stout
in proportion, with well-developed sinewy limbs, the description would
have been accurate; and I said so.

‘If you feel any doubt of it,’ he resumed, still in the same peculiar
tone, ‘oblige me by examining that muscle.’ And he stretched out for my
inspection an arm that could have felled an ox—firm and strong as a bar
of iron.

‘I am quite satisfied of your muscular strength and powerful physical
development, Mr Hesketh,’ I said, with an effort to appear unconcerned
and amused, which I was conscious was a dead failure. ‘And now, with
your permission, I think we had better descend.’

‘Not just this moment, my precious little bantam cock,’ was the
startling rejoinder. ‘Sorry to detain you, believe me, but I must
trouble you with another question. Supposing, now, that you and I, dear
friend, were to have a tussle at the top of this chimney, and that each
of us was trying to throw the other over, which, should you think,
would have the better chance of accomplishing his purpose?’

Summoning to my aid all the manliness of which I was possessed, I
courageously declined to answer this question—asserting that the case
was not a supposable one, seeing that I entertained towards him no
feelings of enmity, and that I felt sure he had no desire to injure me.

‘Look in my face and see if I haven’t!’ he rejoined in loud fierce
accents, very different from those he had hitherto employed. ‘Look in
my face, Mr Frederick Carleton, and see if I haven’t!’

I did look, and my heart died within me—for on the face of the man who
still retained my arm in his iron grip on the top of that terrible
chimney, I saw an expression of fiendish hate and malignance, of the
like of which I could not have believed a human countenance capable.

As my eyes fell before the awful glare of his, he laughed. ‘You have
read your answer, I see,’ he said. ‘And now, listen. Seat yourself upon
the parapet exactly where you now stand; observe as closely as you
please what I am about to do; but stir one step to hinder it, and as I
live, I will hurl you below!’

The threat, I knew, was no vain one; the man who uttered it overtopped
me by the head and shoulders, and possessed double my strength.
Resistance, therefore, would have been entirely useless; and trembling
in every limb, I obeyed the command, and seated myself. And this was
what I then beheld. Approaching the mass of machinery against which
rested the wooden box or car wherein we had ascended, Mr Hesketh leaned
over the edge of the chimney, and deliberately lifted this up from
one of the two strong iron hooks upon which it hung suspended. Then
slipping the loosened chain over the pulley, he sent it clattering
towards the ground below. A horrified shout from the men who stood by
the windlass greeted this act, coming up hoarse and discordant from the
distance; and bending forwards I answered that shout with an imploring
cry for aid—a wild vain cry! The men, of course, could not help me; and
with sickening despair I watched them retreating to the subterranean
passage, to save themselves from danger—as mounted now upon the
projecting machinery, Mr Hesketh loosened the remaining hook of the car
and precipitated it into the abyss beneath.



MISPRINTS.


Misprints, errors of the press, printers’ blunders, typographical
mistakes—call them what we may—are so numerous that every reader meets
with them occasionally. Budgets of ludicrous examples are now and then
given in the popular journals; and these budgets might be greatly
extended. Our _Journal_ gave its quota more than thirty years ago; and
the matter was again touched upon in the volume for 1872.

Many errors consist in the omission of a single letter in a single
word, altering the sense most materially. Thus, an omission of the
letter _t_, in a work by Dr Watts, made immortal into _immoral_; and
other grotesque instances of this kind of error could be given. The
heedless substitution of one letter for another, without exceeding or
falling short of the proper number of letters in the word, is a very
frequent form of blunder. ‘Bring him to look’ is a poor version of
‘bring him to _book_.’ A candidate at an election certainly did not
mean, as a newspaper implied, that he fully expected to come in ‘at
the top of the _pole_.’ A compositor, perhaps a learner, being unable
to make out a Greek word of three letters, set them down as the three
numerals to which they bore some resemblance in shape, namely 185. At
a public demonstration the mob rent the air with their _snouts_. Dr
Livingstone’s cap, as worn when Mr Stanley met him in the heart of
Africa, was said in one of the papers to have been ‘_famished_ with
a gold-lace band.’ In old English printing, the syllable _con_ was
often contracted to something like the shape of the figure 9; and this
numeral is to be found in many books, even standard works, where it
has no right whatever; in one edition of the _Monasticon Anglicanum_
for instance, the word conquest is represented as _9quest_. There
are both a wrong letter used and a letter omitted in the startling
statement, that a right reverend prelate was highly pleased with some
ecclesiastical _iniquities_ shewn to him.

A useful question has been asked, and to some extent discussed, whether
several of the above-cited misprints of single letters, or others
similar to them, may not be due to the arrangement of the compositor’s
working apparatus? Mr Keightley suggested, a few years ago, that
possibly some of the varied readings of passages in Shakspeare might
be due to the compositor dipping his fingers into the wrong cell, and
others to the fact that wrong types have got into the right cell.
Most persons who have visited any of the printing establishments are
aware that the compositor’s types are placed in flat cases provided
with a number of small cells or receptacles, each for one particular
letter of one particular class of type. There are two cases, one
called the _upper_ and the other the _lower_; the former being for
the capitals, the latter for the small letters. Both cases are placed
before the compositor, inclining upwards from front to back, the upper
more inclined than the lower. The cells are not ranged in regular
alphabetical order, but in such manner that those containing the
letters most wanted shall be grouped together near the compositor’s
hand, leaving such letters as _j_, _k_, _q_, _x_, _z_, &c. to occupy
cells near the margin of the case. May not some types fall out of an
overfilled cell into the one just below it; or may not the filling of
a pair of cases with new type be so carelessly managed that a few fall
over into the wrong cells; or may the compositor, in distributing the
type after printing, now and then drop a type into a wrong cell?

A practical printer will answer such a question in the affirmative.
The letters _b_ and _l_, for instance, being in contiguous cells, one
may fall or slip down into the cell belonging to the other, which
might be the cause of ‘bring him to _book_’ being changed into ‘bring
him to _look_.’ The old form of type for the double letter _st_ is
believed to have led to many misprints—such as nostrils being expressed
_stostrils_, in a Bible printed in the early part of the present
century. Whether the types were arranged in the cases a hundred or two
hundred years ago in the same order and manner as at present, might be
worth a little investigation—in so far as any change of arrangement
may have rendered either more or less frequent such misprints as would
arise from the falling over of some of the types into wrong cells.
There are now something like a hundred and fifty cells in a pair of
cases for ordinary book and newspaper printing; even if there were the
same number in former times, it does not necessarily follow that the
arrangement of the rank and file would be the same.

Benjamin Franklin, when a young man, refused to give ‘garnish’ or
‘pay his footing,’ on being placed in a room of compositors; because
he had already responded to a demand for similar blackmail in another
department of the printing-office. They took a peculiar method of
punishing him, by disarranging some of the types in his cells when he
was out of the room. Very likely this technical tribulation may have
led him inadvertently to the committal of numerous misprints. Several
years ago Mr H. Martin, of Halifax, adverted to a typographical error
in a former communication of his to one of the journals, and added:
‘Upwards of thirty years’ experience in connection with the press has
taught me to be very lenient towards misprints. The difficulty of
detecting typographical errors is much greater than the uninitiated are
inclined to believe. I have often observed that, even if the spelling
be correct, a wrong word is very apt to remain undetected.’ He notices
an instance in an edition of Shakspeare’s _Merchant of Venice_, where
Portia’s lines—

    Young Alcides when he did redeem
    The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy—

were converted into nonsense by the simple change of Troy into _Tory_.
‘In a short biographical notice of Pope which I compiled for an edition
of his poems, I briefly enumerated his prose works, among which I named
his _Memoirs of a Parish Priest_; when the proof came before me, I
found that the compositor had set it Memoirs of a _Paint Brush_.’ It
is possible that this blunder may have arisen from a cause to which we
shall presently advert, obscure writing in the author’s manuscript; but
Mr Martin also took notice of the matter mentioned above, namely the
partial disarrangement of some of the types in the cells, as a cause
of typographical bewilderment.

This misplacing of types in cells would fail, however, to account for a
multitude of blunders. The author, the compositor, and the ‘corrector
of the press’ must be responsible on other grounds for ‘A silver medal
given to a florist for _stealing_ geraniums;’ and for putting a wrong
date on the tops of some of the pages of a newspaper—such as the _Daily
News_ in one of its issues, which put ‘Monday July 18th’ on the top of
one page, and ‘Tuesday July 18th’ on the top of all the others; and
in a quite recent instance in the _Illustrated London News_, where on
the top of one page Saturday was assigned to a date that certainly did
not belong to it. At the Duke of Wellington’s funeral in 1852, Sir
Peregrine Maitland was one of the pall-bearers. A statement appeared
in some of the journals to the effect that when Sir Archibald Alison
published the last volume of his _History of Europe_, the name of
Sir Peregrine Maitland appeared as Sir Peregrine _Pickle_; and it
was remarked that such a misprint could not have been otherwise than
intentional, a poor attempt at a joke on the part of the compositor,
or the ‘corrector.’ In the only copy which we have consulted, this
absurdity does _not_ appear—a negative testimony so far as it goes in
favour of the compositor.

The wrong placing of words in lines, and lines in columns or pages, is
an instance of careless ‘making-up,’ for which the compositor in the
first place is clearly responsible, but which as certainly ought to be
detected in the proof by the corrector. Nevertheless, the examples of
this are manifold. Sometimes a whole line is transferred higher up or
lower down the page than the proper place; and at others one single
word makes an excursion to a line where no reader would look for it. We
notice, for instance, in one of the magazines for September 1877 the
word _see_ is used where it has no meaning; twelve lines lower down
occurs the word _They_ where it has no meaning; but on transposing the
two words, nonsense becomes converted into sense. A practical printer
could tell us how such an error might arise in the technical management
of his ‘composing-stick’ and ‘form;’ but to outsiders it is well-nigh
incomprehensible.

It was a little too bad in the printers of a Cambridge Bible, published
some years back, that such a line should appear as ‘I will never
_forgive_ thy precepts.’ Here there was no writer nor transcriber
concerned; the compositor made the blunder, and the press-reader passed
it without detection; because as new editions of the Bible, unless
newly annotated, are copied from the print of a previous edition, no
manuscript is needed. A somewhat trifling error, though puzzling in its
result, occurs in spacing the words: the last letter or syllable of one
word is inadvertently placed at the beginning of the next, or else the
first is placed at the end of the preceding word. When a lady is said,
in a recent novel, to ‘rush down-stairs _without stretched_ arms,’ we
know what is meant; but the corrector ought not to have passed such a
slip unnoticed. On one occasion—perhaps one among many—a foot-note is
incorporated in the body of the page, throwing the whole sense of a
paragraph into utter confusion. A printer will know how this may occur,
in arranging his lines into pages; but what is the corrector about?

The most trying part perhaps of a compositor’s duty is to decipher the
writing of some authors whose manuscripts have to be set up in type.
No one can conceive, merely judging from the interchange of ordinary
letters between relations and acquaintances, the large amount of badly
written manuscript which reaches the printing-offices. And it is known
that some of our most eminent authors, whose veritable words are
regarded as more important than those of other men, are great sinners
in this respect; they torment the compositor with specimens of the art
of penmanship almost hopelessly unintelligible. Our readers will find
this part of the subject—that is the misprints that are due wholly to
the bad writing of the author or amanuensis, and not to carelessness
shewn by the compositor or the corrector—fully illustrated by examples
in the article ‘Wretched Writers’ in this _Journal_ for March 14, 1874.
The late Horace Greeley, the distinguished American, is pictured in
that article as about the worst penman that ever disturbed the peace of
a compositor.

A word or two about correctors and correcting. When the compositor has
set up and arranged matter enough for say a sheet, a ‘proof’ is pulled
at the hand-press, and the ‘first reader’ is employed to examine it
closely for the detection of any technical errors; then, with the aid
of a ‘reading-boy,’ he compares the paragraphs, one after another, with
the author’s manuscript, corrects as he goes on by means of marginal
marks on the proof, and queries any doubtful word or passage to which
he wishes to draw the author’s attention. The compositor makes all the
corrections suggested by this ‘first reader,’ and for common cheap
kinds of printing this is enough; but for better work, a ‘second
reader’ is employed to correct not merely the compositor but to advise
even the author in regard to badly chosen words or badly arranged
sentences—an intellectual revision, in fact, often performed by men
who sometimes themselves afterwards rise to distinction as authors.
The perplexities that beset the printer’s reader were pretty fully set
forth thirteen years ago in the _Journal_; and we need say nothing more
on that subject. What with the reading-boy, the first reader, and the
second reader, we see that there are many possible responsibilities for
misprints besides those due to the author, the copyist or amanuensis,
and the compositor. An impartial distribution of blame is hence
desirable so far as it can be done.



NATURE’S TEACHINGS.


In a curious and instructive book which we have just read, entitled
_Nature’s Teachings_, by Mr Wood, we are shewn that scientific
inventions, no matter how original and ingenious they may _appear_ to
be, have each and all been anticipated in the world of nature.

Countless inventions have been made by man without his having any
knowledge of the fact that the machine which in its first idea sprang
from a single brain, and was afterwards, during the progress of time,
slowly improved and perfected perhaps by many successive generations
of inventors, had been in use in nature in a more perfect form than
art could accomplish, for ages before man existed on the earth. There
is scarcely a principle or part in architecture that has not its
natural parallel—walls, floors, towers, doors and hinges, porches,
eaves, and windows; thatch, slates, and tiles, girders, ties, and
buttresses, bridges, dams, the pyramid, and even mortar, paint, and
varnish, are all there. The Eskimo snow-house is an exact copy of
the dwelling the seal builds for her tender young; the wasp’s nest
is composed of several stories supported on numerous pillars. The
well-known instance of the building of the Crystal Palace on a ‘new
principle,’ by Sir Joseph Paxton, is mentioned by the author, and is
one of the many cases where man has confessedly copied nature in art;
for that beautiful structure of iron and glass is simply an adaptation
of the framework of the enormous leaves of the Victoria regia plant,
which, owing to its formation, combines great strength with great
apparent fragility. The present Eddystone lighthouse, which has so long
withstood the force of the waves, was constructed in 1760 by Smeaton
on an entirely new idea, the model being taken from a tree trunk, and
the stones of which it was built being strengthened by being dovetailed
into one another, as is the case with the sutures of the skull.

The study of the eye of man, as well as of birds, quadrupeds, and
insects, has shewn how the most beautiful and gradually improved
inventions, such as the telescope, microscope, pseudoscope,
stereoscope, multiplying glass, &c., had already been perfected in
nature for ages. By the combination of a few prisms and a magnifying
glass, is produced that most wonderful of all optical instruments, the
spectroscope, which equally reveals to us the constituents of the most
distant stars or the colouring matter of the tiniest leaf; and yet the
prismatic colours developed by this marvellous instrument have existed
equally within the glorious arch of the rainbow and in the tiniest
dew-drop as it glitters in the rising sun, ever since the sun first
shone and the first rain fell.

In the arts of peace, we must look to the animal world for the most
perfect specimens of tools for digging, cutting, or boring. No spade
is equal to the foot of the mole; and our hammers and pincers look
clumsy indeed beside the woodpecker’s beak or the lobster’s claw.
Moreover, the dwellings in the construction of which such tools are
employed, are models of beauty and ingenuity. Symmetrically shaped
pottery made of moulded mud or clay is found in Nature in the form
of birds’ and insects’ nests; in the jaws of the skate is found the
crushing-mill, and in the tooth of the elephant the grindstone. In the
ichneumon fly and the grasshopper was perfected from the first the
modern agricultural improvement on the hand-dibble, the seed-drill.
It is only of late years that the use of the teasel has been
superseded by machinery; and brushes and combs, buttons, hooks, eyes,
stoppers, filters, &c. are all found in Nature. The principle of the
diving-bell and air-tube exists in varieties of insects; birds make
beds and hammocks and even sew, and the bower-bird emulates us in the
construction of ornamental bowers and gardens. Graceful fans exist in
plants and insects, cisterns in the traveller’s tree and the camel’s
stomach, and natural examples of the balloon and parachute.

In other varieties of art, Nature has stolen a march on man;
certain insects make paper of different textures; the art known as
‘nature-printing’ was anticipated in the coal measures. Star-stippling,
as now used in engraving to produce extra softness of effect, exists
in utmost perfection in every flower petal. The caddis-worm, common in
all our fresh waters, constructs for itself a circular window-grating
which admits the water and yet protects the pupa from injury, an
apparatus exactly like the wheel-windows of a Gothic building. There is
a bird in South Africa, the Sociable Weaver-bird, which may be looked
upon as a dweller in cities, each pair, up to the number of perhaps
three hundred, building its own nest; while the whole community unite
to form a common roof or covering of thatch made from a coarse kind
of grass, to protect their habitations from the heavy tropical rains.
The Driver-ants, also found in Africa, are so sensitive to the fierce
heat of the sun, that when on their marches they are obliged to cross
open ground, ‘they construct as they go on, a slight gallery which
looks very much like the lining of a tunnel stripped of the surrounding
earth;’ and if they come to thick grass which makes a shelter for
them, they take advantage of it, and only resume the tunnel when they
emerge on the other side. Not less wonderful than any of these are
the Trap-door spiders, of which mention has been before made in this
_Journal_. In making their nests, they begin by sinking a shaft in the
ground; it is then lined with a silken web, and closed by a circular
door, which can scarcely be distinguished from the moss and lichens
which grow around. The hinges are most exactly fitted, and the spider
has an extraordinary power of closing his door from the inside, and
resisting all intrusion.

It is curious that as we _advance_ in the scale of creation these
wonderful dwellings cease. Strange to say, the creature which roams
at will through the forest, and has no settled resting-place, is
higher in the scale of life—according to the recognised scheme
of naturalists—than the animal that is mechanically capable of
constructing the most perfect abode!

Mr Wood reminds us that though the march of Science has destroyed much
of our belief in the sweet old tales of fairyland, yet she has given
us ample compensation, inasmuch as the ‘fairy tales of science’ are
in reality more full of grace and poetry than any of the myths that
delighted our childhood. And many of the forms which meet us, if we
apply ourselves to the study of natural history, are more full of
quaint or graceful fancy than the wildest tales that have ever stirred
the imagination of an Eastern story-teller. What can be more beautiful
than the little Velella, a sea-creature like a circular raft, with an
upright membrane answering to a sail; ‘semi-transparent, and radiant in
many rainbow-tinted colours.’ What more grotesque than the Archer-fish,
‘which possesses the curious power of feeding itself by shooting drops
of water at flies, and very seldom fails to secure its prey;’ or the
Angler-fish, which is endowed by Nature with a rod and bait ready
adjusted. This remarkable creature has an enormous mouth; on the top
of its head are certain prolonged cane-like filaments, beautifully set
in a ring and staple joint, so as to turn every way; and at the end of
these singular appendages is a little piece of flesh, which when waved
about, looks like a living worm, and attracts the fish, which is then
ingulfed in the huge jaws of this natural angler.

Many interesting forms come to us from the water-world, suggestive of
rafts, boats, oars, and anchors. An insect called the Water-boatman is
itself both boat and oars, besides being its own passenger; the legs
with which it rows are fashioned in most exact resemblance to the blade
of an oar; or we should rather say that the blade of an oar resembles
the leg of this Water-boatman. That fragile creature the Portuguese
Man-of-war, which traverses the surface of the ocean like a bubble, and
can at pleasure distend itself with air and float, or discharge the air
and sink, shews us the principle of the life-dress in which Captain
Boyton made his daring passage across the Channel. Cables too we have
in plenty: the Pinna, a kind of mussel, anchors itself to some rock
or stone with a number of silk-like threads spun by itself; and the
Water-snail moors itself, perhaps to a water-lily leaf, by means of a
gelatinous thread, slight, almost invisible, yet very strong, which it
can elongate at pleasure.

In connection with this there is a very curious account of a spider,
which shews a marvellous power of adaptation. Its wheel-like net was
in danger from a high wind. ‘The spider descended to the ground, a
depth of about seven feet, and instead of attaching its thread to a
stone or plant, fastened it to a piece of loose stick, hauled it up
a few feet clear of the ground, and then went back to its web. The
piece of stick thus left suspended, acted in a most admirable manner,
giving strength and support, and at the same time yielding partly to
the wind. By accident the thread became broken, and the stick, which
was about as thick as an ordinary pencil, and not quite three inches
in length, fell to the ground. The spider immediately descended,
attached another thread, and hauled it up as before. In a day or two,
when the tempestuous weather had ceased, the spider voluntarily cut
the thread and allowed the then useless stick to drop.’ The plan here
adopted by the spider is frequently followed by fishermen who during
stormy weather at sea, ride out the gale by attaching the boat to their
yielding nets.

It is natural to expect that in the arts of war and self-defence
Nature should shew us an infinite variety; and man has not been slow
in using his powers to adapt the same principles to his own use. If
man has armed himself with spears or daggers, if he has dug pitfalls
or set traps in hunting, his most deadly contrivances are but feeble
adaptations of the weapons, offensive and defensive, with which Nature
has endowed her offspring. We are prepared to find the serpent’s fang
a terrible instrument; and we are not surprised that the piercing
apparatus and sheaths of gnats and fleas, or the lancets of mosquitoes
when magnified, are dangerous and blood-thirsty; but it is curious
to find how many of these deadly weapons belong to the vegetable
world. The sword-grass has a notched blade which, when magnified, is
almost exactly the same as the shark-tooth sword of Mangaia. There are
nettles whose sting is sufficiently venomous to cause violent pain,
inflammation, cramp, and even death; and it is well known that some of
the most graceful of plants, such as Venus’s Fly-trap, which is common
in the Carolinas, and the Drosera or Sundew, one of our British plants,
are in fact nothing but skilful traps to catch and digest unwary
insects.

Some of the most curious of natural defences are those which simulate
some form quite different from the true character of the creature. We
are tempted to think of the Mighty Book of Michael Scott, in which was

          Much of glamour might,
    Could make a ladye seem a knight,
    The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
    Seem tapestry in lordly hall.

And Nature, in her turn exercising her powerful glamour, can make a
caterpillar seem a twig, or a moth look exactly like a withered leaf.
The Spider-crab might be taken for a moving mass of zoophytes and
corallines, so thickly is its shell covered with extraneous growths.
The Leaf-insects are so exactly like leaves that the most experienced
eye can scarcely distinguish them from the leaves among which they are
placed. We must all have noticed other instances in which the colours
of insects, and also the plumage of birds, harmonise in a wonderful way
with the scenes in the midst of which they are placed. Indeed there
seems no end to the resemblance which may be traced between the works
of Nature and those of man. Many of the most obvious of these strike us
with fresh surprise when we find the comparison carefully drawn out.
What a freak of Nature, for instance, are the aphides, the milk-cows
of a species of ant; or the tailor-bird, ‘which sews leaves together
by their edges, and makes its nest inside them!’ It is sufficiently
strange too, to remember that the elaborate process of paper-making was
carried on by the wasps, ages before it was known to the Chinese.

One of the most powerful of all natural forces is that of electricity;
and it is at present so little understood, and so full of mystery, that
we may perhaps suppose that many of the most important discoveries
of the future must lie in that direction. But Nature has known how
to turn this as well as her other powers to her own use. She has her
living galvanic batteries, such as the torpedo and the electric eel,
both of which secure their prey by paralysing it with their electric
discharges. And the light of the glow-worm and that of the fire-fly,
though hitherto it has been a puzzle to naturalists, may, there is
little doubt, be referred to animal electricity.

After a careful perusal of the book, we are convinced that the more
closely the connection between Nature and human inventions is observed,
the more perfect and the more numerous will further discoveries
be. Endowed with high moral capabilities of truth and justice, and
benevolence; gifted with reasoning faculties, which enable him to
observe, to argue, to draw conclusions, it is for man himself to work
according to the same laws which, unconsciously to themselves, govern
the organisations of the lower animal, and the vegetable world.



WASTE SUBSTANCES.

CIGAR-ENDS.


Probably few people in this country are aware that that usually wasted
substance a cigar-end is utilised in Germany to a large extent, and
with even beneficent results.

We can imagine many of our readers wondering what can be the object
of collecting these small ends; and we will therefore briefly explain
that they are sold for the purpose of being made into snuff, and that
the proceeds of such sales are devoted to charitable purposes. There
is in Berlin a society called the ‘Verein der Sammler von Cigarren
Abschnitten,’ or the Society of Collectors of Cigar-cuttings, which
has been in existence some ten years, and has done much good. Every
Christmas the proceeds of the cigar-ends collected by this Society and
its friends are applied to the purchase of clothes for some poor orphan
children. In 1876 about thirty children were clothed by this Society,
each child being provided with a shirt, a pair of good leather boots,
a pair of woollen stockings, a warm dress, and a pocket-handkerchief.
In addition to this, a large well-decorated Christmas-tree is given for
their entertainment, and each child is sent home with a good supply
of fruit and sweetmeats. Altogether more than two hundred poor orphan
children have been clothed by this Society simply by the proceeds of
such small things as cigar-ends.

The success of the Society at Berlin has induced further enterprise
in the same direction, and it is now proposed to erect a building to
be called the ‘Deutsches Reichs-Waisenhaus’ (Imperial German Orphan
Home), where orphans who are left unprovided for may be properly cared
for, clothed, and instructed. The site proposed for this institution
is at Lahr in Baden, where there are a number of snuff manufactories,
and it is therefore well adapted to the scheme, which we can only hope
may be successfully carried out. Although the directors of this Home
propose to have a plan prepared for a large building, only a small
part of it will at first be erected, to which each year or two more
rooms may be added, in accordance with the original plan, in proportion
to the success which is found to attend the undertaking. It will be
readily understood that a good many difficulties beset this scheme,
for it requires the most perfect co-operation of the smoking community
and some assistance also from the non-smokers; but much can be done by
friends who will undertake the duty of collecting, and some of the most
energetic of these are not unfrequently of the fair sex.

The system of collection, which is extended over a large part of
Germany, is generally undertaken by one or two ladies or gentlemen in
each town, who collect now and then from their smoking friends the
ends which they have been saving up. These collectors either send on
the cigar-ends to the central Society, or sell them on the spot and
transmit the proceeds. This latter plan, when it can be worked, is
preferable, as saving expenses in carriage and packing. It is proposed
that the number of children which each town shall have the privilege of
sending to the Home shall be regulated according to the amount which
they have contributed to the Society.

To insure the success of this institution, it will be absolutely
necessary for all to unite and work together; each one must not leave
it for his neighbour, thinking that one more or less can make no
difference. To shew, however, what might be accomplished by a thorough
unity in this matter, let us say that there are at least some ten
millions of smokers in Germany; or to be very much within the mark,
we will take only five million smokers who will give themselves the
trouble, if such it is, of saving up their cigar-ends; and assuming
that the cigar-ends of each person during one week are worth only a
quarter _Pfennig_ (ten Pfennig = one penny English), we have a total
revenue for the year of six hundred and fifty thousand marks, or
thirty-two thousand five hundred pounds. Now, these thirty-two thousand
five hundred pounds, which, as a rule, are thrown away and wasted,
can be used to provide a Home for at least thirteen thousand poor
orphan children. Further, if the five million smokers would contribute
but once a year the value only of a single cigar, say in Germany one
penny, this would make an additional five hundred thousand marks, or
twenty-five thousand pounds, which would clothe another ten thousand
children.

Now we ask, is it not worth while to be careful in small things, and
to save up these usually wasted cigar-ends, when we see what great
things might result? We can only conclude by wishing success to
this remarkable institution, which has taken for its motto the most
appropriate words, ‘Viele Wenig machen ein Viel;’ or in the words of
the old Scottish proverb, ‘Many a little makes a mickle.’



LONG AGO.


    He gave me his promise of changeless truth,
      (Down in the wood where the ivy clings);
    And the air breathed rapture, and love, and youth,
      (And yon tree was in bud where the throstle sings).

    He said he was going across the sea,
      (Far from the wood where the ivy clings),
    And would bring back riches and jewels for me;
      (But brown leaves shake where the throstle sings).

    Hope made Life like a summer morn;
      (Sweet was the wood where the ivy clings);
    Now my heart is cold, and withered, and worn,
      (And the bough is bare where the throstle sings).

    Days are dreary, and life is long;
      (Yet down in the wood the ivy clings),
    And the winds they moan a desolate song,
      (And there’s snow on the bough where no throstle sings).

    Spring will come with its buds and leaves
      (Back to the wood where the ivy clings);
    But ’tis winter cold for the heart that grieves,
      (And I hear not the song that the throstle sings).

        J. C. H.

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 736, February 2, 1878" ***

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