Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

9 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



LITERARY EXTRACTS. BOGUS SPECIMENS.—Under the title of Such Speci- mens are Bogus," a writer in the November part of Russell's Saturday Jourua' makes some startling reve- ft&ions about museums. He says: "Even in public ffiuseums things are not always what they seem. There Is a case of birds' eggs in a provincial museum—rather large one—that accommodates at least half a dozen bogus specimens. There is a plaster egg of the great qok, a reproduction of the egg of a frigate-bird, and fclew other rare specimens are similarly represented. Bonotice is tendered, so that unsophisticated persona C quite at liberty to run away with the notion that specimens are perfectly genuine. Indeed, on more than one occasion the writer has been told by ODe of the officials that the exhibits were entirely trustworthy. Another case is likewise prolific in im- positions. This is b. collection of butterflies there are rare specimens particularly prominent by their presence, but, alas many of them are deceptions of lID outrageous kind. Moths and butterflies that would cause a collector to go wild with wonder are admirable fakes," the wings being formed of flelicate parchment, hand painted and sulphur- dusted, while the bodies are of some tinted Woolly material. A stuffed tiger in a famous museum is a charming example of the plush weavers' art. The skin is nothing more or less than a fabric woven by Yorkshire plush weavers, but 80 beautifully exact are the markings that not one out of 50 would betray suspicion in closely examining the case. It is said that 20 clever designers worked On this pattern before it was finally passed for the loom. A special loom was also required, and three expert weavers spent the best part of six months in Completing the production. Hundreds of skins were rejected as unsuitable before a perfect one was brought out. Birds are difficult to successfully imitate, but several cases of feathered friends are admirably faked." There is a case of birds of paradise in a well-known exhibition that, natural Ains though they be, are artificially embellished. Tails and wings receive additional plumes; colour is added to heighten brilliancy, and altogether, the birds are gorgeously made up to entrance visitors. There are any number of bogus fossils before the pubhc, and composition skeletons of rare or extinct animals are particularly prominent. A skeleton of a gorilla was much admired by a certain naturalist, but he learned to his dismay that the exhibit was an arti- ficialone. Every little joint was carefully copied, and the bones were hand-painted to represent stains. The making of artificial skeletons of all kinds is said to be a great industry in certain parts of America." TRIPLE STARS. — When Herschel trained his immense telescope on the heavens he found that many stars which had previously been considered single were made up of two or three distinct orbs. The number of multiple stars whose components can be separated visually is very large. But a new way to ascertain the duplicity or triplicity of a star was accidently discovered about ten years ago. Miss Maury, while examining photographs of the heavens at the Harvard Observatory, noticed a puzzling phenomenon in the case of Beta Aurigte. A certain line in its spectrum would be single at one time and double at another. The explanation adopted for this remarkable occurrence was that the star was a pair, and that the two members were revolving about a common centre of gravity in a plane that made them alternately approach and recede from the earth. In two parts of their orbit they would be moving across the line of sight, and no displacement of their lines would be possible but when one was moving away and the other towards the earth a certain conspicuous line common to both would be displaced to the right tor one body and to the left forthe other. Since that time a number of scopie binaries" have been detected. The two members of the partnership would be so close to each other that they could not be separated visually. Professor Campbell's discovery that Polaris is a system of three bodies, one revolving about, another and the two revolving around the third (as the tnoon and earth do about the sun), was made in a similar manner. That which appeals most strongly to the popular imagination in this performance is the fact i hat by means of the spectograph information has been obtained about a triple star so far removed from us that the most powerful telescope cannot resolve it into separate points of light. But the Statements of the distance of Polaris which have I appeared in some of the newspapers lately have been ridiculously inadequate. One of the estimates made is 255,000,000,000 miles. Now, if one will remember that the sun is 03,000,000 miles away, and that its light comes to us in eight minutes, he will see that if the foregoing estimate of the distance of the pole star were right its beams could only reach us in about 15 days. It would be only about 2700 times as far off as the sun. Light travels fully 6,000,000,000,000 miles in a year, and even the most modest [guesses as to the parallax of Polaris make it 35 light years. Pritchard's estimate in 1887 was 90 light years, but he has since modified his figures. Hence, if one will write 210 and add 12 cyphers thereto he will have the number of miles which the most conservative authorities believe intervene between the earth and the pole star. THE ABBEY PRECINCTS. — In the Quiver, Miss Agnes Giberne commences a new series of complete Stories of the Abbey Precincts." The first story bears the title, co The Irrevocable," and its interest may be gathered from the following opening General North stood gazing solemnly through the mullioned window which lighted one corner of his pretty drawing-room, his thin lips pressed into an even line, his eyes directed towards the nearer angle of the Abbey tower. The honoured Abbey Pre- cincts" included the Bishop's House and the Pre- bendal Residences. Three or four private dwellings were also to be found within the pale. Of these one was the home of General North and his daughter. Something had plainly happened to disturb the General's peace of mind. Ellie North, making tea at a small table, watched his back with solicitude. It was a characteristic back, unbending as a poker. Not alone from past drill, but from present rigidity of will. An essentially unbending man was General North; even more set upon his own way in his seventy-third year than in youth. Are you expect- ing Jem this evening?" He wheeled round abruptly, and the question was shot forth like a bolt from a cross-bow. Ellie coloured up. She was a very taking girl; not beautiful, but graceful and attractive. Most people admired her, and few new why. If they tried to explain, the definitions of her charm was wont to resolve itself into a vague assertion that she was so ladylike." I daresay he will oome." What time ?" I don't know. He did not say he would come to-day. I only think it possible. Not till his work is done." General North walked to the table, received a cup of tea from her iiands, and drank it off. Ellie studied his severe features timidly. Did you want to say anything to Jem, father? You are going to a committee. Shall I give him a message ?" If things are with him as reported, I shall have something to say to him very soon—of a nature that he will not like." Ellie's gentle face went white all over, It may be an error. I do not know—yet. I am the last man to put faith in mere gossip. But it is said that Jem has got himself into debt. If that be so-" Gen- eral North stopped, scanning his daughter's bent head. I'm not asking you whether it be true or not. If you have known this for a fact, knowing, too, my feelings about debt, you ought to have told me. Had you done so, I should not have consented to your marriage next month. If it is true, I with- draw my consent. But I am not answerable for your conscience. I suppose it would be too much to expect any girl—as girls go !—to incriminate her lover. I do say—and I mean what I say—that if em haa been guilty of any such folly, you and he most part. I believed him to be worthy of you— true and honourable, like his father." "He is father." The general turned contemptuously on his heel. "Debt is not honourable," he said; and he marched 'out of the room, leaving his cake untasted. Ellie knew why. Stern man though he was, more than one tender spot lay below. Jem's lather had been his friend and comrade-in-arms, had died by his side in a little frontier war, had commended his boy to the General's good officeswith his last breath! That Jem Victor should marry Ellie had been the General's earnest wish for many A past year. But his own desires would weigh as nothing in the scale if put in conflict with his principles. He was a man of unswerving resolution. if he should enforce the parting, he would himself Suffer. None the less he would not fail to enforce it if this report should prove to be true. Be had known in his own family the evils which follow upon spendthrift habits; and his horror of debt reached an almost morbid height. When consenting, to the engagement, he had spoken words of warning to Jem. Remember," he had said, no debts and no concealments. Pay your way, and let everything be open and above-board. I expect you to work and to make an income before you marry; bit I do not care about riches. Ellie will have plenty. What I do care for is, when I die, to leave Sllie with a husband upon whom I cap entirely rely. Once contract the habit of running into debt, and dependence upon you will be at an end. Jem had frankly replied that he did not owe a penny-which Was then true—and had expressed no end of good resolutions. But the two years intervening since that date had brought temptations which had not always been resisted. Ellie was aware of some alight embarrassments. Others knew that all was not exactly as the General imagined. Until now, in frity to Ellie, nobody had whispered a suggestion of the same in her father's hearing. People loved Ellio. Bad they knew what this would mean if it came to the General's ears. Somebody at last had failed in discretions—from the loter^' poit of yiew» v CHINESE WOMEN.—In the course of an interview entitled Where Women are Never Loved," appear- ing in Cassell's Saturday Journal, Mrs. Archibald Little, the well-known traveller, records some interest- ing impressions of the Celestial Land. She says: In China women, who are held in the greatest con- tempt, are at an enormous disadvantage as compared with men. They are looked upon as a species of dirt —as useless encumbrances. In fact, there is a wise man'? saying in China that if women were not the mothers of children it would be advisable to extermi- nate them. A Chinaman habitually alludes to his better half as My wretched thorn.' and except in the poorest circles the wife never sits down to meals with her husband. Women are completely ignored. When a Chinese mandarin calls on my husband he pretends not to see me. I may be sitting within a couple of yards of him, but he will still affect to be unconscious of my presence. The Chinese start with the belief that English ladies are disreputable charac- ters, one reason being that English women go about with their husbands, which Chinese femininity never does, and another that our dress seems to them to be most immodest because it shows the lines of the figure. The smallest shopkeeper's wife in China never thinks of venturing out except in a sedan chair with the curtains drawn. Women are subject to all manner of insults in China. My ser- vants cause me infinite trouble. They obey me because they know that if they don't they will be dis- missed. A man-servant we once engaged had such a fine contempt for women that in order to account satisfactorily for his undertaking such lowly service as mine he spread a report that I was the daughter of the Queen. The consequence is that in Western China I am supposed to be a Royal personage. The Chinese don't make love, neither do they care whether a woman is pretty or not. Marriages are conducted through agents. A would-be Benedict pays a middle woman so much to supply him with the article he requires. As a rule a Chinaman never sees his wife until the wedding ceremony, when she unveils in his presence for the first time. This ar- rangement, as I need scarcely point out, occasionally gives rise to much disappointment. There are no en- dearing terms whatsoever in the Chinese language. When a husband fondles his wife he doesn't kiss her: he caresses her feet." CCSTER'S CHARGE.—We are apt to think of such military feats as the charge of the 17th Lancers at Omdurman, and the still more famous Charge of the Light Brigade," as peculiarly British achievements, and without their parallel in the history of other nations. In Part 1 of Battles of the Nineteenth Century, Mr. Segar Evan Abbott givsa vivid account of General Custer's somewhat similar, but more fatal, effort in the great fight with the Red Indians at Little Big Horn in 1876: The command (says Mr. Abbott) set out for Sitting Bull's village shortly before noon. Custer's battalion took to the right to cross the hills and ride down upon the en- campment, and Major Reno branched off to the left and forded the Little Big Horn — a stream that gives the battle its name—at the mouth of a stream now called Benteen's Creek. After separation the only word received from Custer was an order signed by the adjutant, and addressed to Captain Benteen, which read: Ben teen come on, Big village. Be quick. Bring Packs"; and a post- cript, Bring Packs." About the time this message must have been despatched, those with Reno beheld the general and his men on top of a hill two miles or more away, looking down upon the village, and saw Custer, take off his hat and wave it in the air, as if either beckoning the other battalions to his assist- ance or cheering his men. When Custer reached the top of the hill, instead of a village of some 800 or 1000 warriors, he saw beneath him a veritable city of wigwams spread out in the valley. The smoke from the fires clouded the sky, great herds of ponies cropped the grass as far as the eye could see, thousands of painted Sioux, armed, and astride their shaggy ponies, galloped in circles, working themselves into a frenzy of fury to fight the White man. Medicine-men danced and yelled their incan- tations, and squaws busily struck the tents and hur- ried their papooses and swarms of dusky children out of harm's way. When this scene of angry life met his gaze, General Custer, old Indian fighter that he was, must have recognised that he was in for what seemea likely to be his last fight. But the mistake had been made. The time had passed for new plans of battle. He could not turn his back on the war- riors to join his battalion with the others, for already the painted bucks were circling round him and firing into his ranks, and already, in all probability, he heard the crack of rifles to his left, telling him that the Indians were upon Reno. Hemmed in, retreat out of the question, and trusting that his other bat- talions would hurry to his support, he callod to his men, and together they plunged into the shrieking, shouting' seething mass of painted and befeathered Red men—and died. WAS THE DAHLIA INTRODUCED AS AN EmBL PLANT.—A Scots M.P., rather less cautions than is the wont of the Celt, not long ago made the assertion that the Dahlia was introduced as an edible plant. A writer to Xh& Gardener in drawing attention to this rather rash sfatefnent says I imagined that I knew something about the history of the Dahlia, but it appears that a certain Scottish M.P. knows more than 1 do. If the honourable member is correct in his remark, we have been sadly remiss in not cul- tivating the Dahlia as an esculent. The error should be remedied as far as possible. A class ought to be included in every sho IV schedule for the best Dahlia tubers. What a vista it offers for the future Potato raisers must take a back seat, and Mr. Findlay may convert his new estate into a Dahlia farm. The Dahlia will form that happy combination whicl: is to delight both eysi and palate. Another gentle- man positively contradicts the assertion, and re- minds the readers of the Gardimr that the first description of the Dahlia occurs in Francisco Hernandez's treatise on The Plants and Animals of New Spain," published at Madrid in the year 1615, and no mention is made of it being edible. Nicholas Joseph Thierry de Menonville was sent to America by Louis XVI. to obtain the cochineal insect and the plant it subsisted on. In this he was successful, and in the same year Menonville published this descrip- tion of the Dahlia—as having flowers as large as Asters on stems as tall as a man, with leaves like those of the Eldertree. In 1789 it was introduced into this country by the Marchioness of Bute, who obtained it through her husband being diplomatically em- ployed at Madrid. This importatien and another made by Lady Holland were, however, lost to culti- vation. A third stock was afterwards brought from France about the year 1815, aDd from this the numerous forms have been obtained. HAND-WRITING.—Mr. T. H. Gurriu, the famou hand-writing expert, relates many interesting stories connected with his profession in an interview which appears in the New Penny Magazine. He once went down by the night train to Edinburgh to give evidence in a contested will case. One side said that the will was in the hand-writing of the testator; and the other side contended that the whole document was a forgery. The main ground for the latter con- tention was that a good many of the letters were formed, not with one stroke of the pen, but with several strokes. This was taken as a mark of forgery; but, on looking at a lot of other admittedly genuine contemporary writing, Mr. Gurrin found that the deceased often wrote in this scratchy way. Eventually he gave his opinion in favour of the genuineness of the document, and was re- quested to appear at the trial and support his opinion on oath. He arrived on the morning of the trial, and barely had time for a wash and some breakfast before going into court. The cross-ex- amining advocate devoted a long time to him, for £20,000 hung on the decision. At last, taking up the alleged forgery, he said, Look at that capital letter in the fifth line. Can you find another letter like it in the admitted writing ?" The expert replied that he could, and pointed to a similar specimen. The advocate looked at it, and said, You must be joking, Mr. Gurrin!" "I cannot disbelieve the evidence of my own senses!" retorted Mr. Gurrin. Don't you give us credit for having any senses ?" said he. "Well," replied the expert, "I have not been in Edinburgh very long." Everybody in court laughed heartily and the advocate left the witness alone after that. Court ultimately pronounced in favour of the will. i How MR. CHAMBERLAIN WORKS.—A glance at Mr. Chamberlain's room in the Colonial Office will reveal part of the secret of his power of getting through work, says a writer in the New Penny Magazine. There is nothing superfluous, nothing out of place and every morning when he comes to business, his desk is absolutely clear. There is not a paper in the room. Mr. Chamberlain works in a large room, look- ing on the great quadrangle round which are built the Foreign, Colonial, Home, and Indian Offices. He often lunches in his room when too occupied to go to his club, the Athenaeum. Sitting at his large desk at the further end of the room, he has accorded in- terviews to men of all nationalities and all colours. Mr. Chamberlain's morning at the Colonial Office is taken up in dealing with a great mass of papers. In addition, he has to give verbal instructions to his subordinates and to see a large number of important people. In the afternoon he has to go down to the House of Commons during the Session, where as a Minister he must attend daily to answer questions, besides transacting his general Parliamentary busi- ness. To his private room in the House of Commons papers follow him in boxes, labelled with slips of paper, red, green, or white, according to the urgency of their contents. Nor is the day's work ended there. At midnight, when he goes home, he finds papers at his private house; and even when he is away from London they arrive with regularity by post or by special messenger. In fact, Mr. Chamberlain cannot wcaps them unless he were to disappear altogether 1


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