FAIRY TALES OF SCIENCE.
A BOOK FOB YOUTH.
JOHN CARGILL BROUGH.
WITH SIXTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS
BY CHABLES H. BENNETT.
" There about the beach he wandered, nourishing a youth sublime,
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of time."
GRIFFITH AND FARRAK
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY & HARRIS,
CORNER OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD.
SAVILL AND EDWABDS, PEINTEES, CHANDO3 STSEKT,
To place before the youthful student a compact and
concise compendium of the leading and most uni-
versally important branches of Science has been
my principal object in the preparation of this
To adapt the work to the capacity of all, I have
endeavoured to divest the different subjects treated
in it of hard and dry technicalities, and to clothe
them in the more attractive garb of fairy tales a
task by no means easy.
That I have been obliged, in the composition of
the work, to consult a crowd of authorities, need
hardly be stated, nor will any more formal enume-
ration or systematic acknowledgment be expected.
In the fanciful sketches which illustrate these
pages, my friend Mr. C. H. Bennett has most fully
entered into the spirit in which I conceived the
I have to tender my sincere thanks to my
esteemed friend Dr. G. L. Strauss, who came to my
aid, at a time when severe indisposition seemed to
threaten that many of these Fairy Tales of Science
should remain untold.
J. C. B.
ge of ftosters.
The griffins and dragons of fairy mythology The monsters
revealed by science The ancient ocean and its inhabitants
The Cetiosaurus The Plesiosaurus Aspect of the
country of the Dinosaurians Crocodiles Turtles The
Hylaeosaurus and Megalosaurus A fearful conflict An
uncultivated garden No trace of man The Iguanodon,
a huge herbivorous monster The Pterodactyle, a flying
reptile Wealden beds The stone book . . pp. 1 14
The fairy messenger Thales and the Amber Spirit Ancient
explanation of lightning and meteors Man's devices for
enslaving the spirit Globe of sulphur Conductors and
non-conductors Electrical machines The Leyden jar
How to draw the spirit from the clouds The voltaic pile
Deflections of the magnetic needle The spirit employed
as a courier The electric telegraph explained Systems
of Wheatstone, Morse, Bain, and Bakewell Telegraphic
wires Submarine telegraphs France and England
brought within a speaking distance of each other Irish
cable Atlantic cable The spirit taught to measure time
Bain's electric clock The electrotype The spirit's ver-
satility pp. 1528
&f)E JFour (Slemente.
The ancient doctrine of the four elements Decomposition of
wood Universality of the mighty elements Health and
disease The true elementary bodies A burning candle-
Fire the result of chemical action The destroying element
Chemical compounds Composition of combustible
bodies Air the great supporter of life Analysis of air
Uniformity of composition Immensity of the atmosphere
Properties of carbonic acid Ammonia Watery vapour
Compounds of nitrogen and oxygen Carbonic oxide-
Water in the liquid, solid, and aeriform states Analysis
and synthesis Decomposition of water by potassium
Wonderful revelations Water a product of combustion
Synthesis of water Earth an indefinite substance The
sixty- three elements of the chemist Principal ingredients
of earth Silica, alumina, and lime Salt, pyrites, and
fluorspar Metals and metalloids Composition of plants
and animals The marvels of chemistry True interpreta-
tion of the ancient dogma pp. 29 51
Wgt ILtfe of an atom.
The strange vicissitudes of particles of matter A talking
atom His relatives His existence as a rock-forming
atom First glimpse of the outer world Sets out on his
travels Launched into the ocean A roving life The
coral polype Terrestrial mutations The atom liberated by
volcanic agency The joys of an aerial atom Plants of
the carboniferous period The atom again a captive
Coal Modern career of the atom His philosophical
speculations pp. 53_ 64
& SLittU Bit
The nature of matter Illustrations of its divisibility The
ultimate particles of a body never in actual contact
Porosity of gold Opinions of Newton and Herschel
Hidden truths Relative weights of the ultimate particles
John Dalton The atomic theory of chemistry
Celestial atoms pp. 65 74
The philosopher's stone Ancient and modern alchemy The
mysterious unknown Liebig's remarks on the true phi-
losopher's stone The laboratory of the modern alchemist
Aluminium Ultramarine The wonders that may yet
be performed by the alchemist Transmutation Like and
unlike Charcoal, graphite and diamond Different forms
assumed by sulphur Amorphous phosphorus Ozone
Modern alchemists true descendants of the old gold-seekers
Cfje fHagfc of tfje Stm&eattt.
The influence of the sunbeam Theories that have been ad-
vanced to explain the nature of light Velocity of light
Decomposition of the sunbeam The prismatic spectrum.
Influence of light over the animal and vegetable king-
doms The Proteus anguinus Distribution of animals in
the ocean Plants grown in the dark Heat Dispersion
of the heat-rays Effects of heat Actinism Blackening
of horn silver Inorganic bodies sleep during the night
Germination of seeds Photography . . . pp.89 102
(ges are Setter tfjan tie.
The structure of the human eye Herschel's remarks on this
wonderful organ Why two eyes are better than one
An invisible pair of compasses Two eyes required to
obtain a true conception of solidity The stereoscope
Double vision Single vision pp. 103 111
The belle of the sea Her submarine home A deep dive-
Unfamiliar objects The mermaid's garden Her subjects
The black goby Emissaries from the Court of Oberon
An expert well- sinker Animated umbrellas The lamps
of the sea The great crab family The porcelain crab,
the spider, and the hermit Sea-slugs Living stars The
sea-urchin Serpulse and acorn-shells The mermaid and
the naturalist .......... pp. 113 127
The flowers of the sea Smooth anemone Thick-horned
anemone Living daisies Plumose anemone Voracity
of these animal flowers Their curious structure The
madrepore described by Gosse An amusing anecdote
The living flowers of tropical seas The aquarium
A meeting of aged insects An unpleasant scene A sensible
proposition The cabbage butterfly Swammerdam's re-
marks on the internal structure of a caterpillar The tiger-
moth The dragon-fly's narrative The gnat Reaumur's
observations The case- fly The ichneumon- fly
The witches' cauldron and the tea-kettle Thermometers
Boiling and freezing points Latent heat The genii of the
kettle Ebullition Conduction and convection Hot por-
ridge Oceanic currents Pressure of the atmosphere
The spheroidal state Water frozen in a red-hot vessel
Steam springs The fiery ordeal The Geysers of Iceland
Sir George Mackenzie's description of the G rea t Geyser
Bunsen's experiments Artificial Geysers . pp. 155 174
The Solar System Earth Moon Jupiter Saturn Uranus
Neptune Mercury Venus Mars Vesta, Pallas, and
other planetoids Eelative magnitudes and distances of
the principal members of the solar system The Sun His
diameter, bulk, and mass His distance from the Earth
His apparent motion The twelve signs of the Zodiac
The solar rays Planets habitable and inhabited Moon
and planetoids not inhabited Fixed stars Constellations
Coma Berenices Catalogues of stars Classification of
stars into magnitudes Number of stars Milky Way
Nebulae Distance of stars Light of Sirius Periodical
or variable stars Temporary stars Dark bodies in the
heavens Double and multiple stars Colour of stars
Complementary colours in double stars . pp.175 196
& &sle af a Comet.
Family and pedigree The comet protests against M. Babi-
net's remarks anent his kindred Number of comets
Bulk Nucleus Head Coma Tail or brush Tenuity
of comets Disturbing influence of planets and planetoids
upon the orbitsof comets Chance of a collision Cometary
matter not luminous Forms of comets and their tails
Length of tail Comets with more than one tail Eccen-
tricity of motion Parabolic and hyperbolic orbits Uses
of comets -Absurd and superstitious notions respecting
cometary influences Comet of 1556 expected in 1860
Case of doubtful identity Cometary influence on seasons
disproved Comets with fixed periods Halley's Comet
of 1680 Comets of Olbers, Encke, Biela, Faye, De Vico,
Brorsen, d' Arrest Winneke and Neslhuber versus Donati
Supposed period and distance from sun of comet of 1858
The revelations of the microscope Single and compound
microscopes A drop of water Minute creatures The
globe animalcule The wheel animalcule Microscopic
plants Diatoms -Formation of rocky strata Beautiful
forms Bed of earth composed of living infusoria The
marls of Virginia Chalk Microscopic fungi Eggs of
insects Scales of a butterfly's wing Insect anatomy
Pollen Fissures and cavities in gems . . pp. 215 229
A fanciful tree Bread-fruit Cabbage-palm Cow- tree The
papyrus and fan-palm Pashiuba palm The mangrove
Wonderful cane Australian trees The Banyan Sensi-
tive plants The traveller and the moss . pp. 231 242
Glaciers Regions of eternal snow- The Neve Rivers of ice
Moraines Movement of the glacier A moving hut
Lost knapsack- Mysterious noises Theories of glacier
motion Saussure Observations of Professor James
Forbes Viscous theory Tyndall's experiments The
plasticity of ice Fracture and regelation Ancient glaciers
Time slides pp. 243253
The home of the gnomes Wondrous architecture of the
stalactite caverns Science and superstition The Grotto
of Antiparos Petrifying springs Tabreez marble A
busy scene The guardian of the jewels The Koh-i-noor
Aluminous and silicious gems The keeper of the metals
The treasures of the earth Gold, silver, and iron The
gnome of the coal-mines Use of coal Varieties of coal
pp. 255 276
Division of the universe between Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto
Pluto's share Cerberus The river Styx Charon the
.ferryman The Acheron and the other rivers of the In-
fernum Powers of Lethe Migration of souls Pluto and
his court Plutus The fatal sisters The three judges
The furies Tartarus, and its inhabitants Elysian fields
Pluto in search of a wife Proserpine Ceres Interven-
tion of Jupiter Danger of eating pomegranate seeds
A new species of owl Geological view of Pluto's kingdom
The realm of fire How the earth and the other
planets were formed .Internal condition of the earth
The earth's crust Density of the crust and interior of the
earth Cordier's thermometrical theory of volcanoes and
earthquakes Volcanoes Craters of eruption and eleva-
tion Mount Vesuvius Etna Jorullo Matters thrown
out from volcanic craters Mud volcanoes Aqueous lava
Earthquakes Vertical, horizontal, and circular move-
.ments Earthquake of 1755 Elevation and subsidence of
land Submarine eruptions Sabrina Island Graham
Island Extinct volcanoes ...... pp. 277 307
VLfy W,oriDziM 2Lamp.
The story of Aladdin The lamp of science Genii of the
lamp Steam Miracles wrought by steam Steam-power
The Leviathan Construction Dimensions Mode of
propulsion Passenger-arrangements Britannia Tubular
Bridge Stephenson An impossible task The strength
of a beam Monster rams Lifting the tubes Aerial
galleries An emblem explained Conclusion
" Mighty pre- Adamites that walked the earth
Of which ours is the wreck." BYRON.
a time if
we are to
race of mon-
large, and a
passing visit from one of these rapacious creatures
was held to be the greatest calamity that could befall
a nation. All the King's horses and all the King's
men were powerless in the presence of such a foe,
and the bravest monarch stooped to purchase his
2 THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
own safety with the most humiliating concessions.
The dragon was allowed to run riot over the face
of the country ; to devour the flocks and herds at
his pleasure ; and when sheep and oxen ceased to
gratify him, scores of beautiful damsels were sacri-
ficed to allay the cravings of his ravenous appe-
Sometimes the fastidious monster would go so
far as to order a princess for dinner, but he gene-
rally had to pay dearly for his audacity. When the
monarch had exhausted his stock of prayers, and
the poor little maiden had almost cried out her
eyes, some valiant knight-errant was certain to
come forward and challenge the dragon to meet him
in the field. A terrific encounter then took place,
and strange to say, the knight invariably proved
himself to be more than a match for the destroyer
who had hitherto kept whole armies at bay.
As instances of this wonderful triumph of Right
over Might, we need only mention that celebrated
duel in which the Dragon of Wantley was forced
to succumb to the prowess of Moore of Moore Hall ;
and that still more famous combat in which the
invincible St. George of England won an everlasting
We have said that these monsters belonged to
that mythical age known as " once upon a time ;"
unfortunately we can find no trace of them in au-
thentic history, and we are compelled to admit that
they had their origin in the fanciful brains of those
THE AGE OF MONSTERS. 3
old story-tellers whose wondrous legends we delight
to linger over.
In more credulous times, however, these monsters
of enchantment were religiously believed in, and no
one doubted that they had their lairs in the dark
and impenetrable forests, in the desolate mountain
passes, and in those vast and gloomy caverns which
are even now regarded with superstitious dread by
At length the lamp of science was kindled, and its
beneficent rays penetrated the darkest recesses of the
earth ; roads were cut through the tangled woods,
busy factories sprang up in the lonely glens, and
curious man even ventured to pry into the secrets
of those terrible caves. The monsters of romance
were nowhere to be found. Triumphant science
had banished them from the realms of fact, with
the same pitiless severity that the xincompromising
St. Patrick had previously displayed towards the
poisonous reptiles of Ireland.
The poor ill-used Dragon has now no place to
lay his scaly head, the Griffin has become a denless
wanderer, and the Fiery Serpent has been forced to
emigrate to a more genial clime !
Fortunately truth is stranger than fiction ; the
revelations of modern science transcend the wildest
dreams of the old poets ; and in exchange for a few
shadowy griffins and dragons, we are presented with
a whole host of monsters, real and tangible
monsters too, who in the early days of the world's
4 THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
history were the monarchs of all they surveyed,
and had no troublesome Seven Champions to dis-
pute their sway.
We are on the shores of the Ancient Ocean.
We search in vain for any sign of Man's handiwork ;
no iron steam-ship, no vessel of war, no rude canoe
even, has yet been launched upon its bosom, though
the tides ebb and flow, and the waves chant their
eternal hymn, according to those immutable laws
which the Creator ordained at the beginning.
The ocean teems with life, but it contains no
single creature which has its exact likeness in
modern seas. Its fishes belong for the most part
to the great Shark family, but their forms are
much more uncouth than those of their savage de-
scendants. No whales, dolphins, nor porpoises are
to be found in these waters, their places being filled
up by strange marine reptiles, which equal them in
bulk, and greatly surpass them in voraciousness.
Yonder is one of these old monsters of the deep : *
as it rests there with its broad back glistening in
the sun, it might easily be mistaken for some rocky
islet but see, it moves ! Now it lashes the water
with its enormous tail, creating quite a whirlpool
in its neighbourhood now it raises its huge head,
and displays a row of teeth at which the bravest
might shudder and now it darts away from the
shore, leaving a wide track of foam on the dark
* The Cetiosaurus, or Whale-like Lizard.
THE AGE OF MONSTERS. 5
Another member of the Saurian or Lizard race
is disporting himself in a little bay close by. The
imagination of man never called up a shape so
weird and fantastic as this, in which we see com-
bined, a fish-like body, a long serpentine neck, and
the tapering tail of a lizard.* As he paddles
through the water with his neck arched over his
back in a graceful curve, he looks a very handsome
fellow, in spite of the somewhat evil expression of
i his countenance ; but he is anything but handsome,
if we judge him by the adage which restricts the
use of that epithet to handsome doers. Look at
him now, how eagerly he pounces upon every living
thing that comes within the range of his pliant
neck, how cruelly he crushes the bones of his
victims, and how greedily he swallows them ! We
never witnessed such unhandsome conduct in a
monster before. Leaving him at his disgusting
banquet, let us now penetrate into the interior of
the old continent, where we shall encounter some
terrestrial reptiles of a very formidable character, f
We are in the heart of a strange wild country.
At our feet runs a mighty river, whose tortuous
course we can trace far away on the distant land-
scape. The scenery around us is grandly pictu-
resque, being diversified by high mountains with
harsh and rugged outlines, yawning chasms, swampy
plains, and thick forests. Here a broad stream
* The Plesiosaurus.
f The Dinosaurians, or fearfully great Lizards.
6 THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
dashes impetuously through a narrow glen, and
there a placid lake glistens like polished silver.
Huge masses of rock arise in a thousand fantastic
forms on one side, while on the other vast desert
tracts, monotonously level, spread out as far as the
eye can reach.
The general aspect of the country is utterly un-
like that of any modern land, and we gaze on the
savage panorama before us with mingled feelings
of admiration and awe. We are surrounded by
wonders. The vegetation which fringes the banks
of the river is strangely unfamiliar. Some of the
trees remind us of the palms and arborescent ferns
of the Tropics, and others seem to be allied to the
cypress and juniper, but they all belong to un-
The air, which is hot and oppressive, swarms
with insects ; curious flies and beetles hum around
us, and every now and then a huge dragon-fly darts
past like a meteor.
Looking towards the river, other more striking
forms of animal life meet our gaze. Hundreds of
gigantic crocodiles are swimming in the stream and
lying on the muddy shore ; horrible creatures are
they, with their thick coats of mail and sharp elon-
gated muzzles, and we cannot watch their ungainly
movements without experiencing an involuntary
sensation of disgust.
On the oozy banks of the river another type of
reptilian life is represented by a shoal of fresh-
THE AGE OF MONSTERS. 7
water Turtles which we see crawling along at a
slow and steady pace. Now one of these sluggish
fellows stops to pick up some dainty morsel (a
mussel, perhaps, a snail, or a crocodile's egg), but
the exertion appears to cost him no small annoy-
ance, and now he draws in his head and prepares
for a nap. As he has in all probability a hundred
years yet to live, he can aiford to devote an hour or
two to digestion.
' But hark ! What noise was that ? Surely that
harsh discordant roar must have proceeded from
the deep throat of some monster concealed in yon-
der forest. The Crocodiles seem to understand it
perfectly, for see, they are making for the opposite
bank with most undignified speed. There it is
again, still louder than before ! Now a crashing
among the trees, followed by a wild unearthly
Look at that terrible form which has just emerged
from the thicket. It rushes towards us, trampling
down the tall shrubs that impede its progress as
though they were but so many blades of grass.
Now it stops as if exhausted, and turns its huge
head in the direction of the forest.
How shall we describe this monster of the old
world, which is so unlike any modern inhabitant of
the woods ? Its body, which is at least twenty feet
long, is upheld by legs of proportional size, and a
massive tail, which drags upon the ground and
forms a fifth pillar of support. Its head is hideously
8 THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
ugly, its immense jaws and flat forehead recalling
the features of those grim monsters which figure in
our story-books. Its dragon-like appearance is still
further increased by a ridge of large triangular
bones or spines which extends along its back.* We
should not be at all surprised were we to see streams
of fire issuing from the mouth of this creature, and
we look towards the palm-forest half expecting
a St. George to ride forth on his milk-white
See ! some magic power causes the trees to bend
and fall the dragon-slayer is approaching ! Gra-
cious powers ! It is not St. George, but another
Dragon nearly double the size of the first. He
proclaims his arrival by a loud roar of defiance,
which is unanswered save by the echoes of the sur-
rounding hills. The first monster tries to conceal
himself behind a clump of trees and preserves a
discreet silence, being evidently no match for his
The new comer is certainly a very sinister-look-
ing beast. His magnitude is perfectly astounding.
From the muzzle to the tip of his tail he seems to
measure about forty feet, and his legs are at least
two yards long. His feet are furnished with sharp
claws for tearing the flesh from the bones of his
victims, and his teeth are fearful instruments of
destruction, each tooth being curved, and pointed
* The Hylaeosaurus, or Wealden Lizard.
THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
like a sabre, with jagged saw-like edges.* His
disposition is decidedly unamiable. Look at him.
now how furiously he tears up the earth, and how
savagely he looks about him for some trace of his
lost prey ! Now he catches a glimpse of the crested
monster among the trees, and dashes towards him
with a terrific yell of delight.
Alas ! there is no escape for you, unfortunate
Dragon ! The great monster can outstrip you in
the chase, and you may as well show a bold front.
Now they meet in the hollow with a fearful
crash. The lesser monster is determined to sell his
life dearly, and with the aid of the spines along his
back he contrives to inflict some severe wounds
upon the huge body of his opponent.
What a fearful conflict ! How they snort and
roar ! Now they roll over among the ferns, linked
together in a terrible embrace. The hero of the
crest is the first to rise he makes off towards the
forest, and may yet escape. Alas ! he falls ex-
hausted, and the great monster is on his track.
His temper does not seem to be improved by his
wounds how angrily he tosses his head, and how
fiercely he gnashes his sabre-like teeth. He ap-
proaches his fallen enemy. Now he jumps upon
him with a crushing force, and now his enormous
jaws close upon the neck of his victim, who expires
with a shriek of pain.
* The Megalosaurus, or Great Lizard.
10 THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
We can gaze no longer at this awful scene. The
battle was sufficiently exciting to absorb our at-
tention, but we have no desire to see how the great
monster disposes of the body of his valiant foe. Let
us therefore leave the river bank, and visit another
portion of the old continent.
We stand in a lovely valley surrounded on all
sides by high mountains, whose slopes are covered
with luxuriant vegetation. A crystal stream mean-
ders through the fertile plains, and runs into a fairy-
like lake, upon whose margin there are little
groups of arborescent ferns and palms. The whole
valley has the appearance of a rich garden, and
we regard its varied beauties with rapturous admi-
As we look around we fail to discover any trace
of man no temple, palace, nor hut bears witness
to the existence of a being capable of appreciating
the charms of which nature has been so prodigal.
We are profound egotists, and think that everything
beautiful must have been created for our especial
advantage. Here, however, trees spring up though
there be no woodman to hew them down, fruits
ripen though there be none to gather them, and
the stream flows though there be no mill to set in
motion ; in fact, the age of man has not yet dawned
upon the earth.
We have already seen some of the weird inha-
bitants of the Old World ; this valley is the favou-
rite haunt of another and a still more remarkable
THE AGE OF MONSTERS. 11
creature, who loves the shelter which these trees
Yonder is one of these extraordinary monsters.
He has just emerged from the forest, and is march-
ing towards the lake slowly and majestically, a re-
gular moving mountain ! His legs are like trunks of
trees, and his body, which rivals that of the elephant
in bulk, is covered with scales. In length and height
he equals the great lizard we have already described,
but his whole appearance is far less awe-inspiring.
There is a good-humoured expression in his face,
and his teeth are not nearly so formidable as those
of his predacious neighbour, being blunt and short,
and evidently fitted for the mastication of vegetable
Look ! he is quietly grazing on those luxuriant
ferns which lie in his path. Now the foliage of a
tall palm-like tree seems to offer a tempting mouth-
ful, but it is beyond his reach : there are more
ways than one of procuring a meal see, the huge
vegetarian places his fore-paws against the stem of
the tree and coolly pushes it down. Having stript
the fallen stem of its sword-like leaves, he plunges
in the lake, and flounders about in the water as
though the bath were his greatest source of enjoy-
ment. This huge herbivorous monster would pro-
bably be no match for the cruel creature whom we
left devouring his enemy by the river, as all its
* The Tguanodon, so named from its teeth, which resemble
those of a recent lizard called the Iguana.
12 THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
actions prove it to be a harmless and peaceably dis-
Look at that strange bird overhead ! Its body
does not appear to be larger than that of a pigeon
but what enormous wings it is provided with !
Now it descends. Is it a bird or a large bat 1 Its
wings seem to be formed of leather, and its body
has anything but a bird-like form. See ! it alights,
and runs upon the ground with considerable speed
now it jumps into the lake, and swims about the
surface as if water were its natural element. Again
it rises in the air, directing its course towards the
spot where we are standing, and now it perches upon
a fragment of rock close to us.
What an extraordinary creature j it is neither
bird nor bat, but a winged reptile ! Its head,
which is small and bird-like and supported on a
long slender neck, is provided with elongated jaws,
in which are set some fifty or sixty sharp little
teeth. Its wing consists of folds of skin, sustained
by the outer finger enormously lengthened ; the
other fingers being short and armed with powerful
claws. Its body is covered with scales instead of
feathers, and in addition to this strange mixture of
bird-like and reptilian features, the creature is
provided with the long stiff tail of a mammal.*
Of all the inhabitants of this country of marvels,
the Flying reptile is by far the strangest ; and as we
* The Pterodactyle, or Wing-fingered Lizard.
THE AGE OF MONSTERS. 13
gaze upon its weird form, we caunot help comparing
it with, one of those horrible and grotesque imps
which are described so minutely in monkish
Again the scene changes the country of the
monster fades away, and we are once more in our
cosy study, surrounded by our favourite volumes.
Perhaps the curious reader would like to know
where the marvellous country is situated, but as we
do not intend to tack a long scientific essay upon our
fairy-tale, he must be content with a very few words
All that remains of the monsters' country is a
large tract of land or delta which was formed ages
and ages ago at the mouth of a mighty river.* The
continent through which this river flowed now
forms a large portion of the bed of the Atlantic.
How can we know anything about this submerged
country 1 how can we come to any conclusion re-
specting the kind of creatures which lived and died
there 1 These questions will probably occur to the
reader, and give rise to certain doubts as to the cre-
dibility of our narrative.
The monsters have been their own historians.
They have described themselves in the gorgeously
* The Wealden Beds, so called from their forming a district
known as the Weald of Kent and Sussex. These strata, which
were deposited at the mouth of a river rivalling the Mississippi
in magnitude, occupy the whole area between the North and
14 THE AGE OF MONSTERS.
illuminated volume called the Stone Book, every
page of which is formed of the solid rock. The
truth of the matter is simply this ; when the geo-
logist came to examine the structure of the old
river delta, he found embedded in the rocks, broken
and water-worn bones, detached teeth, fresh-water
shells, fragments of trees, and even the bodies of
insects. With untiring industry and perseverance
he classified these organic remains j he placed to-
gether the gigantic bones, and reproduced the forms
of those enormous creatures which are now repre-
sented by our tiny frogs and lizards ; he examined
every leaf and fir-cone, and found out the order of
plants to which they belonged every relic he sub-
mitted to a close scrutiny, and at length he was
rewarded by a vision of the ancient continent and
its inhabitants as they existed at that remote period
which we can only vaguely describe as " once upon
Puck. ' ' I go, I go ; look, how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow."
Midsummer NigTifs Dream.
THAT merry wanderer of the night, Puck, who
boasted that he could "put a girdle round about
the earth in forty minutes," was a sluggard com-
pared with the fairy messenger who now flies hither
and thither at our bidding, with a velocity which
might carry him round the globe several times in a
single second. Four and twenty centuries have
elapsed since Thales of Miletus evoked this nimble
Spirit by rubbing a piece of yellow amber ; just as
the heroes of Romance summoned genii, fairies, and
hobgoblins, by the friction of rings and amulets.
The Greek name for amber was electron, and thus
our Spirit came to be called Electricity.
The ancients were ignorant of the potency of this
ethereal being; indeed, their knowledge was con-
fined to the isolated fact that amber, when rubbed,
acquired the property of attracting light bodies.
The grander manifestations of the Amber Spirit's
power received a religious interpretation ; thus, the
forked flashes which sometimes darted through the
16 THE AMBER SPIRIT.
sky were supposed to come from the hand of the
mighty Thunderer, and those fiery meteors which
now and then rested on the javelins of the Roman
legionaries, were looked upon as omens of victory
sent by the "War-god.
It was left for modern philosophers to trace these
great phenomena to the Amber Spirit, and to show
that his presence may be detected, not only in the
fossil gum which Thales imagined to be his favourite
haunt, but in every particle of dust and every drop
Let us now describe the cunning means which
man employed to enslave this wild Spirit. Two
hundred years ago, the fragments of amber were
laid aside, and a large globe of sulphur was set
whirling on a vertical axis, whilst it was rubbed by
the hand. By this machine the Spirit was dragged
from his hiding place, and made to reveal some im-
portant secrets. Flashes of light issued from this
revolving globe, and balls of pith, feathers, and straw
danced towards it as though endowed with life.
Sixty years later, the discovery was made that
all solid bodies may be divided into two great
classes, namely, those which, when held in the
hand and rubbed, set free the Amber Spirit ; and
those which, under similar circumstances, fail to
exhibit any attractive force. Amber, sulphur, and
glass belong to the first class ; all the metals to the
second. It was also found that certain bodies
allowed the Spirit to pass along them with great
THE AMBER SPIRIT. 17
celerity, while others completely obstructed his
Towards the middle of the last century, cylinders,
spheres, and plates of glass, were substituted for the
cumbrous globe of sulphur, and with these new
implements man began to forge the chains which
were to bind the subtle Spirit.
In the year 1746, an ingenious Dutchman actually
managed to coax him into a glass bottle, coated
within and without with metal,* but the Spirit soon
escaped from his narrow prison by passing through
the limbs and body of the experimentalist, who re-
ceived such a violent shock that he was compelled
to take to his bed. This incident, however, did
not deter the philosopher from prosecuting his in-
quiries, and his endeavours to construct a secure
prison were eventually crowned with success.
Six years after this, an American sage summoned
the now docile Spirit from the clouds during a
thunderstorm, by means of a boy's kite, and thus
proved the identity of lightning and that force
which for two thousand years was regarded as an.
emanation peculiar to rubbed amber.
The nineteenth century was heralded in by the
announcement of a still greater fact. A learned
Italian now found that he could dispense with all
the old machinery of incantation, and evoke the
Amber Spirit by the action of acids upon metals.
* The Leyden Jar.
18 THE AMBER SPIRIT.
He piled up alternate disks of zinc and copper,
kept separate by the interposition of moistened
pasteboard, and with this simple apparatus* he
obtained absolute control over the movements of
the Spirit. He compelled him to travel along
metal wires of any length ; to force asunder the
elementary atoms of water ; to bring to light sub-
stances hitherto unknown, and to perform a hundred
other feats equally wonderful. The Spirit was van-
quished the lightning was chained and man
It had long been suspected that the magnet owed
its peculiar properties to the Amber Spirit, but the
occult relation that subsisted between them had
never been detected. This mystery was now cleared
up by a Danish philosopher. He caused the Spirit
to travel along a wire from south to north, and
beneath this wire he placed a compass-needle. The
Spirit passed, and lo ! the magic needle moved, and
assumed a position at right angles with the wire.
It no longer pointed to the north, but obeyed the
peremptory mandates of the potent Spirit. New
facts were soon brought to light; thus it was shown
that the Spirit could render iron magnetic. A
copper wire was coiled round a bar of soft iron, and
our Spirit was made to run along the wire ; the
iron at once became a powerful magnet, and ex-
hibited all the properties of the loadstone.
* The Voltaic Pile.
THE AMBER SPIRIT. 19
These discoveries enabled man to employ the Am-
ber Spirit as a courier, a vocation for which he is
eminently suited, as the speed at which he travels
has been estimated at 288,000 miles in a second.
Let us see how our messages may be con-
In London we have a pile of zinc and copper
disks, or what amounts to the same thing, an ar-
rangement of metal plates and acids which we call
a battery. We have only to connect the extremi-
ties of this machine by means of a wire to set the
Amber Spirit in motion, and he will continue to
move as long as the connexion remains complete,
but will stop the instant it is broken. His route is
from the zinc to the copper through the acid solu-
tion, and along the wire back again to the zinc. He
will never leave the battery at one end unless he
is quite satisfied that he can re-enter it at the other,
but while there is nothing to obstruct his course he
will continue to circulate through the arrangement
without exhibiting the least sign of fatigue.
Let the wire which connects the opposite ends ot
the battery be long enough to reach to Edinburgh
and back ; and at the northern capital let there be
a mariner's compass placed so that the needle shall
be directly below, and parallel to the wire. It is
evident that with this simple apparatus we can com-
pel our courier to travel to Scotland and back.
Every time we connect the homeward wire with
the zinc end of the battery, the Spirit will rush to
20 THE AMBER SPIRIT.
Edinburgh, and cause the magic needle stationed
there to move.
The deflections of this needle may be converted
into intelligible signs. They can be made to spell
words ; thus, one movement may stand for a ; two
for b ; three for c, and so on to the end of the al-
We have said that our courier will refuse to leave
the battery unless he be provided with a return
ticket, or in other words, unless he can secure a safe
passage home ; it does not follow, however, that his
homeward path must be a wire, as by a peculiar
arrangement we can force him to find his way from
Edinburgh to London through the earth.
We have supposed that only one kind of motion
can be given to the magnetic needle, and that the
Amber Spirit can only be made to travel in one
direction, that is to say, from the copper end of the
battery through the wire, and back again through
the earth. If we connect the wire with the zinc
end this direction is reversed, and, as a matter of
course, the Spirit passes over the needle from north
to south, instead of from south to north as before.
This new direction is at once detected by the
needle, and its north pole moves to the right,
whereas it had previously moved to the left. We
may take advantage of this double movement in
simplifying our alphabet ; thus, one movement to
the right may stand for a ; one to the left for b ;
one right and one left for c, and so forth.
THE AMBER SPIRIT. 21
We will not trouble our reader with any more
explanations, but will confine ourselves to a con-
sideration of some of the ingenious methods which
have been devised to render the Amber Spirit a
Some twenty years ago, a native of this country
proposed a system of five wires, in connexion with
as many needles, which indicated the letters of the
alphabet at the rate of twenty a minute. Attention
was to be drawn to the signals by the stroke of a
bell, the hammer of which was moved by the mag-
netic force which the Spirit communicated to a piece
of iron ; thus the ear as well as the eye was to be
addressed. He afterwards simplified this instru-
ment by employing only two wires, and so increased
its power that thirty letters could be indicated in a
In America, another philosopher was simulta-
neously engaged in perfecting a still more extra-
ordinary contrivance, by means of which the Spirit
was made to jot down an alphabet of dots and
strokes which represented definite characters. The
marks were written on a strip of chemically pre-
pared paper, which was made to pass under a fine
steel point. f
The Spirit had no sooner been taught to write,
than man set about teaching him the art of print-
ing. Behold him now, a master of the art, printing
* Wheatstone's Telegraphs,
f- Morse's Telegraph.
22 THE AMBER SPIRIT.
messages letter by letter, in the ordinary Roman
characters, under the direction of an operator sta-
tioned at a distant city !*
The Spirit's education was not yet considered to be
complete he had to acquire another accomplish-
ment. He could communicate intelligence by
means of moving needles and revolving dials, by
written dots and printed characters, but he could
not yet imitate the handwriting of the individual
who forwarded the message. An ingenious gen-
tleman now took him in hand, and soon made
him an expert copyist. We can now write a let-
ter, have it copied at a remote town in a minute
or less, and receive a reply in our correspondent's
handwriting, almost as soon as the ink is dry
with which it was penned !t
The philosopher Thales wondered to see certain
minute bodies fly towards a piece of amber ; but
how great would have been his astonishment had
some superior intelligence informed him that the
invisible being which moved the particles would
one day be taught to trace figures upon paper
exactly like those just written by some one far
away ! We will not attempt to explain the action
of the Spirit's magic copying-press, as it would lead
us too far into the dark domain of chemistry.
A hundred systems of communication might be
enumerated in addition to those we have noticed,
* Bain's Printing Telegraph,
t Bakewell's Copying Telegraph.
THE AMBER SPIRIT. 23
so great has been the intellectual activity of the last
In England, America, and many continental
countries, iron wires, plated with zinc to prevent
rusting, form the roads along which our ethereal
courier travels. These wires are supported by
wooden posts, erected some sixty yards apart on
every railway ; they are not permitted to touch the
wood, but are passed through short tubes of porce-
lain attached to the posts. Were we to omit these
little tubes, the Spirit would shirk his duty, and
would travel no further than the first post, down
which he would pass to the earth.
These aerial roads are sometimes rendered impass-
able by fogs, snow-storms, and heavy rains ; they
are, moreover, seriously affected by Amber Spirit
himself when he takes the form of Lightning.
During a thunderstorm everything goes wrong, and
the Spirit having escaped from his thraldom, sets
man at defiance. He takes possession of the wires
and plays a hundred antics. The signal bells ring
without ceasing ; the needles vibrate to and fro, or
remain for hours deflected to one side ; while the
printing machines strike off unmeaning rows of
dots and lines, or long sentences of an unknown
In Prussia, Saxony, and Austria, copper wires,
covered with gutta percha, and buried at some little
depth in the ground, are employed as a means of
communication. These subterranean wires are not
24 THE AMBER SPIRIT.
subject to the influence of thunderstorms, but in
other respects they are more troublesome than
those suspended in mid air. The buried wires are
greatly affected by the earth's magnetism and other
disturbing influences ; moreover, trenches have to
be dug for their reception, and they are with diffi-
culty reached when deranged. Thus we see that
each kind of road has its peculiar advantages and
As gutta percha effectually cuts off all communi-
cation between a wire and surrounding conductors,
we make use of this marvellous substance to enclose
the wires which convey our Spirit through the sea.
The practicability of these submarine roads was
demonstrated in 1849, when a trial was made with
two miles of covered wire laid in water. Soon after
this a cable was constructed, which enclosed four
copper wires covered with gutta percha ; and by
means of this cable France and England were
brought within a speaking distance of each other.
The Amber Spirit soon gave proofs of his ability
as a continental messenger, and on the 14th of
November, 1851, our great morning journal pub-
lished a despatch from Paris, dated seven o'clock
the preceding evening !
Another cable was now stretched across the Irish
Sea, by means of which England was able to ex-
change civilities with her sister isle. Others fol-
lowed, and man, emboldened by their success, now
began to think of despatching his obedient courier
THE AMBER SPIRIT. 25
across the Ocean. Europe was covered with a net-
work of wires, and so was America to unite these
two great systems of communication would be a
feat unparalleled in the annals of Science.
This wondrous feat has at last been accomplished,
and the two great Continents are now connected by
a cable which lies at the bottom of the Atlantic.
At Man's bidding the Amber Spirit speeds along
this tremendous cable, and having registered a single
letter at its further end, finds his way back to the
battery through the pathless deep. Again and
again he makes this extraordinary circuit, until
every letter in his despatch has been registered ; so
that, in spelling a word of one syllable, he has to
perform a series of journeys which together far
exceed the length of Puck's famous girdle.
The Amber Spirit has had other duties imposed
upon him besides those of a courier.
He has been taught to measure time with great
accuracy, an accomplishment which scarcely seems
to harmonize with his astonishing fleetness. Measur-
ing time must be a tedious occupation to one accus-
tomed to annihilate it ; nevertheless, clocks are moved
by our versatile Spirit, which have neither weights
nor springs, and which will go for ever without
We have seen how needles may be moved and
bells rung; let us now consider how a pendulum
may be set in motion. A battery is connected with
a pendulum of peculiar construction, its bob being
26 THE AMBEB SPIRIT.
formed of a hollow brass reel on which a long
copper wire covered with silk is coiled. In the
clock-case, on either side are magnets, fixed so that
their opposite poles enter the reel.
Our readers have already been informed that a
magnet freely supported, as in the mariner's com-
pass, will move when the Amber Spirit passes over
it. We will now confide to them another secret,
namely, that a fixed magnet will give motion to a
moveable wire along which the Spirit is passing.
We shall now be able to explain the motion of our
As soon as the Spirit is sent along the coil of
wire, the pendulum moves towards one side, being
attracted by the one magnet and repelled by the
other ; but by an ingenious contrivance the connex-
ion between the coil and the battery is now broken,
and the pendulum falls back by its own weight,
again to be pulled aside by the magnets. The pen-
dulum is thus made to oscillate ; and so long as
there is power enough in the battery to force the
Spirit through the coil, it will keep swinging, and
give motion to a series of wheels acting upon each
other which carry round the hands of the clock.*
Other methods have been devised to render the
Spirit an effective time-keeper, but the simple ar-
rangement we have described may be taken as the
type of them all.
* Bain's Electric Clock.
THE AMBER SPIRIT. 27
The great peculiarity of these wonderful clocks
s, that they may be connected by wires, and made
o keep exactly equal time, though separated from
sach other by hundreds of miles. With a single
>attery of sufficient power all the clocks in London
night be kept going ; and what is still more extra-
>rdinary, the London clocks might be made to
egulate those of Edinburgh and Dublin, or even
hose of Paris and New York !
The Spirit has been employed to move more
>onderous things than pendulums. He has been
aught to turn a lathe, work a pump, and propel a
)oat through the water ; but as it is much more
expensive to evoke the Spirit by means of metals
ind acids, than to raise Steam from water, he is
lot likely to supersede Steam as a mover of ma-
In the useful Arts the Amber Spirit has long
)een employed as a worker of metals, and with his
issistance we now cast copper medallions, vases,
ind statues, without making use of a furnace ; we
jild or silver all kinds of utensils, and cover the
nost delicate productions of nature with thin films
>f metal. We will proceed to consider these mys-
;erious operations. When the Spirit is made to
;ravel through a solution of copper, silver, or gold,
le decomposes it, and deposits the metal, particle by
Darticle, on the wire which conducts him back to
,he battery. Now by attaching a suitable model or
nould to this wire we can procure this metallic
28 THE AMBER SPIRIT.
deposit in any shape, and by substituting any
utensil for this mould, we may cover it with a film
of gold or silver.*
We have not done full justice to our Spirit's
abilities, as we have omitted to mention the many
services he has rendered to the astronomer, the
geographer, the chemist, and the physician ; we
have said enough, however, to give the reader an
idea of his versatile powers.
We have shown that he can travel with the
rapidity of thought across a continent or an ocean ;
that he can write and print our messages in the
most distant places ; that he can measure time as it
flies, move all kinds of machinery, and melt copper
in cold water. We may search through our old
fairy tales and romances in vain to find a spirit
capable of performing such miracles as these.
* The Electrotype.
" Do not our lives consist of the four elements ?"
WHAT is the world made of? According to the
ancient doctrine of the Four Elements, all things
are formed of fire, air, earth, and water ; and the
varieties and differences in the properties of bodies
depend entirely on the proportion in which these
great principles are mingled.
While we confine our observations to the external
properties of matter, this beautiful doctrine seems
incontestable. If we kindle a few dry sticks on a
cool hearth, we may remark that while the wood
burns there rises smoke or air ; the smoke is fol-
lowed by flame or fire; moisture or water is depo--
sited on the hearth ; and ash or earth remains.
Everywhere can we detect the presence of the
mighty elements. Fire can be set free from innu-
merable substances ; air penetrates the pores of all
bodies, and covers the world like a mantle ; water
forms the all-embracing sea, and nourishes every
plant and animal : while earth enters into the com-
position of all solids, and gives form and stability to
30 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
Man himself seems to be built up of the four
elements, and according to the first theoretical
system of medicine, health indicates their perfect ba-
lance, and disease, the preponderance of one of them.
Such is the old doctrine of the Four Elements,
simple and concise enough, but unfortunately
Modern science has satisfactorily demonstrated
the compound nature of fire, air, earth, and water,
and they can no longer be regarded as . elements.
By the term element, we understand any kind of
matter which up to the present time has never been
decomposed into constituents, and which conse-
quently appears to have a simple nature. The true
elementary bodies may be compared to the letters
of the alphabet, and the diversified compounds
which compose the material world to the words
which form a language.
Let us examine the imaginary elements of the
ancients, and see whether they will help us to
arrive at the true solution of the problem what is
the world made of?
A candle in burning seems to disappear com-
pletely, and when the combustion is over, an insig-
nificant trace of ash from the wick is all that
remains to the eye. According to the Greek philo-
sophers, tallow contains an ethereal substance called
Fire, which being set free, takes the form of flame ;
the gradual decrease of the candle is therefore ac-
counted for by the dissipation of its chief constituent.
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 31
Before we can accept this explanation we must
be quite satisfied that Fire is a substance.
Wherever we perceive light and heat emanating
simultaneously from a combustible body, we say
there is fire but we can bring forward no proof of
the material existence of this so-called element.
We cannot weigh it, measure it, or put it in a
bottle ; nor can we imagine it existing apart from
a burning substance. Fire, after all, may be nothing
but a name for certain phenomena of heat and light.
These two great forces are intimately connected ;
thus, whenever we raise a solid object to a high
temperature it becomes luminous ; first it emits a
dull red light, which changes as the temperature
increases to orange, then to yellow, and finally to
The flame of a'candle is a white hot cone of vola-
tile matter, which we vaguely term Fire if we can
discover the real nature of this cone we shall be
able to define Fire with some degree of accuracy.
The chemist tells us that nothing can be abso-
lutely destroyed, and that what we call destruction
is merely the conversion of a visible body into an
invisible one. To reconcile this statement with the
gradual disappearance of the burning candle, we are
forced to conclude that the tallow is changed into
an invisible gas or vapour, and escapes into the air.
Now as no solid can become aeriform without the
agency of heat, the question naturally arises
whence comes the heat that vaporizes the tallow ?
32 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
Everybody is familiar with the fact, that a con-
siderable amouut of heat is evolved when water is
poured upon quicklime, a fact which illustrates the
great chemical law, that no union of two bodies can
take place without a change in their temperature.
The intense heat emitted by the flame of a candle
may be traced to chemical action. If we cover a
lighted candle with a glass shade, the flame will
soon begin to languish, and in a few minutes it will
expire. The flame seems to rob the confined air of
a certain virtue which is essential to its continued
existence. This is the true interpretation of the
phenomenon. The air contains a wonderful gas
called oxygen, which combines with the vaporized
tallow, just as water combines with quicklime, and
their union is attended by a development of heat.
The phenomena presented by a burning candle
may now be easily understood. The tallow is melted
and sucked up to the top of the wick, where it is
boiled and converted into vapour. This vapour
combines rapidly with the oxygen of the surround-
ing atmosphere, and the heat evolved is such as to
render the vapour luminous. To bring about the
combustion of the candle it is necessary to apply
heat to the wick, but afterwards the heat which
is liberated is more than sufficient to sustain the
We have now arrived at a tolerably clear con-
ception of Flame ; it is merely volatile combustible
matter heated to whiteness. Fire is simply a con-
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 33
venient word which we make use of to denote the
extrication of light and heat during combustion,
and the ancient notion that it is one of the primor-
dial constituents of the material world is no longer
Fire is often spoken of as the destroying element,
but we must bear in mind that combustion only
alters the state of bodies ; there is no actual de-
struction or loss of weight when a body is burned,
though the products of combustion may be invi-
If we set fire to a small fragment of phosphorus
and cover it with a dry tumbler, dense white fumes
will arise, which will condense on the sides of the
glass in snow-like flakes. If we collect this white
substance and weigh it, we shall find that it is more
than twice as heavy as the phosphorus. How is
this 1 ? The explanation of this apparent anomaly
is simple enough. The phosphorus, in burning,
combines with the oxygen of the atmosphere to
form this white compound, which is known to
chemists by the name of Phosphoric Acid, the
weight of the oxygen is therefore added to that of
Some of our readers will doubtless receive this
information with astonishment. It seems scarcely
credible that a substance having the appearance of
snow should be produced by the union of an invi-
sible gas and a yellow wax-like solid. Chemistry
is a science of marvels, and this wonderful dissimi-
34 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
litude between a compound body and its consti-
tuents is anything but an exceptional case ; in
fact it is this change of properties that distin-
guishes chemical union from mere mechanical
Our tallow candle is composed of two invisible
eases and a black solid, and is therefore a much
more extraordinary compound than the white phos-
phoric acid. When a caudle is burned, the products
of the combustion are invisible gases ; these gases
can nevertheless be collected by the chemist, and
are found to weigh more than the original candle.
Coal, coke, wood, and other combustibles which are
employed as fuel, likewise form gaseous compounds
with the oxygen of the atmosphere. This is a very
significant fact, for were the products of combustion
invariably solid, like phosphoric acid, the world
would long since have been buried in ashes.
We have examined the first of the so-called ele-
ments of the ancients, and have proved it to be a
manifestation of intense chemical action between
two or more bodies. Let us now proceed to consi-
der the nature of Air.
" There exists a certain thing," says a philosopher
of the sixteenth century, " which we do not per-
ceive, and in the midst of which is plunged the
whole xiniverse of living beings. This thing comes
from the stars, and we call it air. Fire, in order
that it may burn, requires wood, but it also requires
air. The air, then, is the life, for if air be wanting
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 35
all living beings would be suffocated and die." In
all ages the atmosphere has been regarded as the
great source of life, and long before the famous
dogma of the Four Elements was propounded, a
Grecian sage declared that air was the one uni-
versal principle from which everything proceeded.
We have already alluded to the fact that com-
bustible bodies combine with a certain gas called
oxygen, which is contained in the atmosphere ; our
readers will not, therefore, be surprised when we
tell them that air is a mixture of dissimilar gases,
but they will marvel greatly when we describe the
properties of its constituents.
If we boil some mercury or quicksilver in a closed
glass vessel, in a few hours the metal will undergo
a very extraordinary change. It will lose its me-
tallic character entirely, and in place of the glis-
tening fluid we shall find a heap of bright red scales.
As these scales weigh more than the original
mercury, we may safely conclude that something
has been abstracted from the air contained in the
If we now take a lighted match and plunge it
into the air that remains, it will be instantly extin-
guished; it is therefore evident that the abstracted
something is oxygen.
Let us close the vessel once more and apply to it
a strong heat ; the red scales are now converted
into metallic mercury, and the air regains its pro-
perty of supporting combustion.
36 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
This beautiful experiment proves air to be a mix-
ture of oxygen and a certain gas in which no ordi-
nary combustible will burn. This gas has been
named azote or niti-ogen.
Oxygen forms about one-fifth of the atmosphere,
and nitrogen nearly the remaining four-fifths ; to
these components must be added about one two-
thousandth part of a gas called carbonic acid, and
traces of another body called ammonia. Though
these two last-named constituents bear such a small
proportion to the others, we shall presently see that
they have important duties to perform in the
economy of nature.
The composition of the atmosphere is everywhere
uniform ; we may bring down air from the summit
of the highest mountain and collect it in the deepest
valley, but we shall not be able to detect the slightest
variation in its composition.
The same uniformity is apparent whether we
examine the air of the polar regions or that of the
tropics ; whether we collect it in the densely popu-
lated city or in the untrodden forest. This fact
seems all the more wonderful when we consider the
contaminating influence of the coiintless exhalations
that are continually rising into the atmosphere.
The clouds of smoke poured forth by our chimneys,
the expired breath of animals, and the gases that
proceed from decaying matters, do not perceptibly
disturb the equilibrium of the constituents of the
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 37
We must remember that this aerial ocean is some
forty-five miles in depth, and that the vapours
which arise from the earth are rapidly diffused
throughout its entire extent.
The atmosphere exerts a pressure upon the earth's
surface equal to about fourteen and a half pounds
upon each square inch ; and it has been calculated
that its entire weight amounts to more than five
thousand one hundred and fourteen billions of tons
a sum which words may express, but which the
human mind cannot appreciate. Our readers will
gain a clearer conception of this enormous sum when
we tell them that it is equivalent to the weight of
a solid globe of lead some sixty miles in diameter !
We have said that the atmosphere contains an
aeriform body called carbonic acid. Let us now
see how this fact may be proved. When quicklime
is exposed to the air it gradually loses its caustic
properties, and increases in weight ; this increase of
weight depends on the absorption of carbonic acid
from the surrounding atmosphere.
We may expel this gas from the altered lime by
heat, and collect it in suitable vessels for examina-
tion. We find it to be much heavier than ordinary
air so heavy, indeed, that we may pour it from
one vessel to another, like water. If we plunge a
lighted taper in it the flame will be instantly ex-
tinguished; and if we substitute a mouse or any other
small animal for the taper, the poor creature will be
38 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
This gas is the chief product of combustion ; our
candles and fires are continually pouring it forth
into the atmosphere, animals expire it from their
lungs, and it is produced in every case of putrefac-
tion and fermentation.
Carbonic acid, so fatal to animal life, is essential
to the life of plants ; indeed the existence of the
whole vegetable kingdom depends on the presence
of this gas in the atmosphere. Carbonic acid is a
compound of oxygen and carbon or charcoal, which
substance is the principal constituent of all plants.
Every green leaf may be compared to a little che-
mical laboratory, in which the carbonic acid of the
air is decomposed, the carbon being retained by the
plant, while the pure oxygen is cast forth into the
Vegetables absorb the carbon which is exhaled
in combination with oxygen by animals, and the
two great divisions of organized beings are thus
indissolubly connected by the interchange of sub-
stances necessary to their existence.
The old fable of the Hamadryads who presided
over the trees of the forest, and who died when the
trees were cut down, shadowed forth a deep truth.
In the fairy-tales of science we read that the lives,
not merely of wood-nymphs, but of all living crea-
tures, are dependent on trees and herbs !
The atmosphere invariably contains a minute
portion of ammonia, another compound body, its
constituents being nitrogen and a gas called hydro-
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 39
gen. Ammonia is absorbed by water, and it is
therefore brought down to the earth by rain, where
it forms a valuable manure for plants ; its impor-
tance may be conceived when we state that the
nutritious qualities of grain and other vegetable
stibstances are mainly derived from the nitrogen
contained in this aerial manure.
Watery vapour is constantly present in the
atmosphere, though we can scarcely call it a consti-
tuent of air. Its presence can be easily demonstrated
by putting some ice in a tumbler, for when the
glass is sufficiently cool, the vapour will be con-
densed upon its outer surface in the form of dew.
We have resolved air into its component gases,
and have thus exploded the old notion of air being
Our investigations have brought to light certain
bodies which may be justly considered elements,
namely oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon.
These substances have never yet been resolved into
constituents, but we do not dogmatically assert that
they are absolutely simple in their nature. We
call them elements because we cannot prove them
to be compounds, though it is not impossible
that they may turn out to be such at some future
That a mixture of four dissimilar elements should
produce the life-supporting atmosphere is a fact
that may well excite our wonder. Who would
suspect that the mild and genial air which envelopes
40 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
our planet could be formed of ingredients which
separately exhibit such striking peculiarities, and
which combine in other proportions to form com-
pounds all more or less fatal to life?
An atmosphere of pure oxygen would be too
exciting to be compatible with long life in animals,
even if we could imagine the existence of life in a
blazing world ; for not only those substances
which are generally spoken of as combustibles,
but even the metals, burn with great violence in
In an atmosphere of nitrogen, animals could not
exist at all ; indeed this gas formerly went by the
name of azote, the literal significance of which is
"fatal to life."
Two volumes of oxygen mixed with eight of
nitrogen form " the breath of life," but when these
gases are combined in other proportions they
form compounds which have very different pro-
One of these compounds is the protoxide of ni-
trogen, a gas which may be inhaled for a few
minutes without danger, but which is incapable of
supporting life for any length of time. When
breathed it produces great mental excitement, and
occasions a total loss of volition. The person who
inhales it performs a hundred strange antics ; he
talks incoherently, laughs wildly, sings, dances, and
sometimes fights ; he feels that he is lighter than the
atmosphere, and sees all things under a new aspect.
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 41
In old times these extraordinary effects would
probably have been ascribed to some mischievous
demon contained in the laughing gas, and the " bell,
book, and candle," would have been deemed indis-
pensable for its exorcism.
Another compound is a colourless and invisible
gas so poisonous that animals plunged into it in-
stantly expire ; a third, a corrosive orange-coloured
vapour, equally noxious ; and a fourth, the well-
known liquid called aqua-fortis, a powerful acid
which dissolves copper and other metals, and which
destroys all organic substances.
Such are the compounds of nitrogen and oxygen,
the very elements which we draw into our lungs at
every inspiration, and without which we could not |
Carbonic acid gas though incapable of supporting
life is not poisonous, and its presence in the atmo-
sphere does not disturb our vital functions. Ani-
mals may be drowned in pure carbonic acid, but
they cannot be poisoned by it. If the atmosphere
contained another compound of carbon and oxygen,
namely, carbonic oxide, in place of this innocuous
gas, the world would be a lifeless desert, as carbonic
oxide is an active poison, and a very small quantity
of it would suffice to infect the air.
The philosopher who declared that air came from
the stars, figuratively expressed a great truth. We
have only to examine the wondrous constitution of
the gaseous mixture to be convinced that it must
42 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
have had a celestial origin, and that the potent
elements of which it is composed must have been
mingled by an all-wise and beneficent Power.
We have resolved Fire into the phenomena of
light and heat, and have separated the constituents
of Air ; let us now summon Water into our pre-
sence, and compel that supposed element to reveal
its true nature.
Water, like Air, was once regarded as the origin
of all things ; indeed this belief in the universality
of moisture may be said to have laid the foundation
of speculative philosophy among the Greeks.
Water exists in the three physical states the
solid, liquid, aeriform. By adding heat to liquid
water we convert it into aeriform water, or steam ;
by abstracting heat from it, we change it into solid
water, or ice ; in either case the chemical composi-
tion of water remains unaltered.
We can demonstrate the compound nature of
Water by analysis or by synthesis ; in plainer lan-
guage, by resolving it into its elements, or by form-
ing it from its elements. Let us first see how its
analysis may be effected.
Some chemical compounds, the red mercurial
scales, for example, are decomposable by heat, but
Water is merely vaporized by this potent agent.
To overcome the attractive force or affinity which
binds the elements of Water together, we must call
in the aid of some substance which has a superla-
tive affinity for one of these elements.
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 43
Such a substance is potassium, the lightest of
our metals. When exposed to the air potassium
rapidly loses its metallic character by combining
with oxygen, with which gas it forms potash ; we
therefore conclude that potassium has a strong
affinity for oxygen.
If we throw a small fragment of this metal into
water, it takes fire and burns, while swimming
about on the surface of the liquid, with a brilliant
light of a violet-red colour. When the combustion
is over, no vestige of the potassium remains, but
we find that the water has acqiiired the acrid taste
of potash. The chemist thus interprets the pheno-
menon : Water is a compound of oxygen and a
highly inflammable gas called hydrogen ; when
potassium is thrown into Water it combines with
a portion of its oxygen to form potash, and the
heat which attends their union sets fire to the libe-
rated hydrogen. It is not the metal that burns so
furiously, but one of the constituents of water.
Here is a revelation far more wondei'ful than
anything we find in our old story books !
Oxygen gas is the great supporter of combustion ;
even the metals will burn away in it like tinder.
Hydrogen is the lightest gas known ; it is very in-
flammable, and gives out an intense heat while
burning. Water, the great antagonist of Fire, is
built up of these two fieiy elements !
Wherever we find Water we may be sure that
these two elements are present. We may detect
44 THE FOUR ELEMENTS,
them in the water of the boundless ocean, the
placid lake, and the murmuring rivulet j in the
floating cloud and the jagged iceberg ; in the rain-
drop, the hailstone, and the snow-flake ; in the
jewel that glitters upon the bosom of the rose, and
in the tear that falls from the mourner's eye !
Potassium is not the only substance that decom-
poses water. Everybody is familiar with the fact that
iron rusts when placed in water. Now the rusting
of iron is a similar phenomenon to the conversion
of potassium into potash ; they both depend upon
the absorption of oxygen. At a red heat, iron de-
composes water very rapidly. When steam is made
to pass through a long red-hot iron tube it is re-
solved into its elements. The oxygen unites with
the iron to form rust, and the hydrogen is set free.
By weighing the tube before and after the opera-
tion, the chemist is able to determine the proportion
in which the two elements are combined.
In a hundred parts by weight of water he in-
variably finds eighty-nine of oxygen and eleven of
We may employ our old friend the Amber Spirit
to separate the elements of Water, as this versatile
being is a most skilful analytical chemist. The
Spirit can set free the oxygen and hydrogen in two
distinct streams of bubbles; whereas, the human
operator can only liberate one of these gases by
forcing the other to combine with some new body.
We have spoken of the inflammable nature of
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 45
hydrogen, but we have not yet explained the phe-
nomena which attend its combustion. This gas
when pure burns with a very pale flame, the pro-
duct of its combustion being water, which escapes
into the atmosphere in the form of an invisible
vapour. If a cool tumbler be inverted over the
flame this vapour will be condensed into minute
drops, which will trickle down the inner surface of
the glass. The combustion of hydrogen is there-
fore a manifestation of the intense affinity of this
gas for the oxygen of the air.
If we mix the two gases in the proportion in
which they combine to form water, and apply a
lighted match to the mixture, the gases will in-
stantly unite with a deafening explosion. All the
water produced will merely suffice to damp the sur-
face of the vessel in which the .explosion takes
place, as no less than 2550 measures of the gaseous
mixture are required to form one measure of water.
Here is another marvellous revelation ! The two
gases have separately resisted every attempt made
by the joint efforts of cold and pressure to liquify
them, yet they combine and form water, the type of
According to the dogma of the Four Elements,
everything that is neither fire, air, nor water, is ne-
cessarily earth. Now a moment's consideration will
convince us that innumerable bodies having the
most diverse properties are comprised in this defi-
nition of the so-called element.
46 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
We cannot therefore deal with Earth as we have
dealt with its mighty brethren ; we cannot deduce
any general conclusions as to its nature from the
analysis of a single sample. We may resolve a
particular handful of soil into its elements, but we
dare not assert that these elements are common to
the multitudinous handfuls which constitute the
solid portions of our planet.
How, then, are we to proceed with our investiga-
tions 1 Were we to examine in regular order the
various compounds included in the ancient concep-
tion of earth, our fairy tale would assume the
character and proportions of an encyclopaedia. To
preclude such a result, we must abandon the ana-
lytical method of inquiry, and be content to accept
certain comprehensive truths that chemistry has
revealed regarding the constitution of different
kinds of earth.
The diversified compounds which form the mate-
rial world have been resolved by the chemist into
sixty-three elementary bodies, fifty of which are
metals. These elements are rarely found in a state
of purity, owing to their strong tendency to com-
bine with each other.
The principal ingredients of Earth, are compounds
of oxygen with certain elementary bodies that are
never found pure in nature.
Silica, the most widely-diffused compound, con-
tains oxygen, and another of the metalloids, or non-
metallic elements, called silicon, which can be
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 47
isolated as a dark-brown powder. Sand, flint, and
quartz consist almost entirely of silica ; so do the
granitic and siliceous rocks which form, so large a
portion of the earth's crust.
The highest and most extensive mountain ranges
are huge masses of silica, and the deserts of Africa
and Asia are vast plains of the same abundant
substance. Silica forms the sand and shingle of the
sea-shore, and enters into the composition of every
soil ; it is the chief ingredient of some of our most
precious jewels ; of the invaluable transparent
glass ; and of the stones with which we pave our
streets and build our temples.
Alumina is a compound of oxygen with a very
extraordinary metal named aluminium, of which we
shall have to speak in another of our fairy tales.
Alumina is the basis of every kind of clay, and is
only second in importance to silica. It is also a
constituent of our rocks and soils, of our gems, and
our building materials ; and we make use of it to
form eartfonware, a substance which rivals glass in
Lime is another abundant metallic oxide or rust,
its base being calcium, a beautiful silver-white
metal, which burns brilliantly when heated in the
air. In nature, lime is generally found in combi-
nation with carbonic acid, one of the constituents
of the atmosphere. The well-known substance,
chalk, which forms our far-famed white cliffs, the
compact limestones used in architecture, and all
48 THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
the elegant varieties of marble, are examples of this
The solid portions of our globe are almost as rich
in oxygen as the atmosphere and ocean. Every
rock is a compound of oxygen with certain metallic
and non-metallic bodies. Silica contains about half
its weight of this abundant element ; alumina no
less than one-third ; and lime two-fifths.
In some compounds oxygen is replaced by another
metalloid. Common salt, the chief saline matter of
sea- water, is a compound of sodium, a metal closely
allied to potassium, with chlorine, a remarkable
gaseous body, which in some respects resembles
oxygen. The glistening yellow mineral called iron
pyrites, contains iron, and the metalloid sulphur.
The variegated crystalline substance known as
fluorspar, is a compound of calcium, the metallic
base of lime, with Jluorine, a mysterious body
which the chemist has never yet been able to pro-
cure in a separate state.
The so-called noble metals namely, gold, silver,
mercury, platinum, and a few others are usually
found in a state of purity ; sulphur is frequently
met with uucombined ; and carbon is found pure
in the diamond. With these few exceptions, the
material world may be said to be an assemblage of
compounds formed by the union of thirteen metal-
loids with fifty metals.
Plants and animals are almost wholly composed
of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon ; hence
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 49
these metalloids have been styled the organogens, or
organ-forming elements. The chemist tells us that
wood, sap, starch, muscle, blood, nerve, and all
other organized substances, result from the combi-
nation of these four principles in varying pro-
Vegetables feed upon inorganic matter ; they
dei'ive their carbon from carbonic acid, their nitro-
gen from ammonia, and their oxygen and hydrogen
Animals are dependent upon the vegetable king-
dom for their sustenance. A large number of races
feed directly upon herbs and fruits ; others prey
upon the bodies of these vegetable-feeders. When
animals die, their bodies suffer decomposition, and
their original constituents water, ammonia, and
carbonic acid, return to the atmosphere, to nourish
another generation of plants, for another generation
of animals to feed upon.
The elements are indestructible, and death merely
alters the arrangement of their atoms.
The ancient philosopher contended that all things
were formed out of four elements : the modern
philosopher declares that the two great organic
kingdoms spring from a few invisible gases. The
theory seems almost as credible as the fact ! The
following words from the pen of a celebrated che-
mist,* read like a page of some wild romance, and
yet they deal with facts that are incontrovertible :
" Man is formed of condensed air (or solidified and
liquefied gapes). He lives on condensed as well as
uncondensed air, and clothes himself in condensed
air. He prepares his food by means of condensed
air, and by means of the same agent moves the
heaviest weights with the velocity of the wind.
But the strangest part of the matter is, that thou-
sands of these tabernacles formed of condensed air,
and going upon two legs, occasionally, and on ac-
count of the production and supply of those forms
of condensed air which they require for food and
clothing, or on account of their honour and power,
destroy each other in pitched battles by means of
We have now arrived at a true solution of the
great problem what is the world made of 1 ?
The three kingdoms of nature are built up of
some sixty-three elementary bodies, endowed with
the most diverse properties and affinities ; each
being destined to perform some important part in
the great system of creation. Truly has it been
said, that the powers of not one element could be
modified without desti'oying at once the balance
of harmonies, and involving in one ruin the economy
of the world !
Although the ancient doctrine of the Four Ele-
ments has been exploded by chemistry, we must
still honour the mighty sages by whom it was pro-
pounded. The doctrine is not wholly false, and
THE FOUR ELEMENTS. 51
were we to confine our observations, as they did,
to the external properties of matter, we should be
forced to acknowledge the justice of their con-
In some sense the world is really made up of the
four elements. Fire may be said to represent the
imponderable agents heat, light, and electricity ;
the remaining elements, the three physical states of
ponderable matter, namely, the gaseous, liquid, and
solid. The difference between our present views
and those of the ancients consists in this, we regard
these states as mere modes of existence, while they
believed them to be distinct principles.
We must now take leave of the Four Elements,
as we fear our readers are growing impatient for
another story from the plenteous budget of Science.
" Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alex-
ander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole ?" Hamlet.
THE particles of matter are subject to strange
vicissitudes. Every atom has its peculiar history.
In all probability the countless molecules of carbon,
oxygen, and hydrogen which are aggregated into
this lump of white sugar, met together for the first
time in the juice of the cane. Where were they
before the sugar-cane was planted 1 Who can tell 1
One of these atoms of carbon may have coursed
through the veins of a Hottentot, another may have
existed in the brain of a Laplander !
The old story-tellers never scrupled to endow
inanimate objects with the faculty of speech. Let
us follow in their footsteps, and create a talking
atom. Such a gifted entity might thus recount his
adventures in the three kingdoms of nature :
" I am an atom of carbon. The members of my
family are innumerable, and are disseminated
throughout the universe. Some of my brethren
are grouped together in those diamonds which are
so much prized by the strange atomic fabrics called
54 THE LIFE OF AN ATOM.
human beings. These jewel-forming atoms are much
to be pitied, though they give themselves great airs,
and sneer at their unaristocratic relations. I would
a hundred times rather be the roving atom that
I am, than one of the molecules of the Koh-i-noor
" When the world was young I led a very steady
life. I remember forming part of a huge mass of
rock which was built up of atoms of carbon, oxygen,
and calcium.* For ages I never saw the light, and
remained in ignorance as to the existence of any-
thing besides the atoms which surrounded me.
Fortunately I was situated very near the surface ot
the rock, and in course of time the atoms above me
were removed, probably by the drops of water
which fell from the heavens.
" Never shall I forget the delight I experienced
on first beholding the outer world ! I thought I
should never be able to bear the brilliant sunlight,
which dazzled me so that it was some time before I
could make out the separate features of the scene.
How beautiful, how grand everything seemed !
and yet the landscape that was then unfolded before
me was unenlivened by organic forms ; there was
not a tree to be seen not so much as a blade of
grass life had but just dawned upon the globe.
The rock of which I was a constituent, was part of
an island, and from my station I could see the ever-
* Limestone, or Carbonate of Lime.
THE LIFE OF AN ATOM. 55
restless ocean, whose atoms danced about so joyously
that I longed to be among them. At the foot of the
rock ran a little stream, which probably con-
veyed some atoms like myself into new scenes of
" Night came on, and new wonders were revealed.
Those marvellous celestial atoms, the stars, looked
down upon me with their sparkling eyes ; and the
silvery light of the moon gave fresh grandeur to
the ocean and my rocky island. As I gazed upon
the glittering waters I thought of my poor brethren
who were deep down in the rock, and sighed !
" Next day the sun was obscured by clouds, and
large drops of water fell from the sky. The stream
became a river, and dashed through the valley at a
headlong pace. The atoms constituting the rain-
drops biiffeted me very severely, and at length
their blows detached me, with a few old friends,
from the mass of my brother atoms. The friends
who clung to me in the hour of adversity were
three atoms of oxygen and one atom of calcium.
For countless ages we had been united, and now
the rain-drops, with all their bluster, could not
" No sooner were we detached, than a stream of
moving atoms impelled us down the sloping sides
of the rock and hurled us into the river. There
could be no rest for us there. The rapid current
carried us through numerous valleys and gorges,
and finally launched us into the ocean.
56 THE LIFE OF AN ATOM.
" We now began to lead a new kind of life. The
atoms of the ocean were not fixed, like those of
the rock. They glided over each other with perfect
ease, and were continually in motion. As a matter
of course, these atoms communicated their motion,
to us. It would be impossible for five little mole-
cules to stand still while myriads were pushing
them. We performed some wonderful voyages
during the ages that we spent among the oceanic
atoms. Sometimes we passed from the Equator to
the Poles ; but our usual course was from west to
east, in which direction a mighty stream of atoms
constantly flowed round the globe.
"A strange mishap forced us to relinquish our
roving habits. In traversing a chain, of rocks we
were sucked into the stomach of a tiny plant-like
animal,* whose frame was built tip of numberless
atoms, most of them members of the carbon family.
A place was found for us in this living organism
beside certain atomic groups, each composed of five
individuals exactly like ourselves.
"In course of time the vital force which had aggre-
gated the various molecules into such a wondrous
system ceased to act; in other words, the animal
died. The atoms which formed the soft portions of
the body now began to change their position, and in
a very short time they were all carried away by the
wandering atoms of the ocean. As for me, I was
* The Coral Polype.
THE LIFE OF AN ATOM. 57
still surrounded by my four friends, and still
associated with numerous five-fold groups. The
creature who had robbed us of our liberty was now
no more, but for all that we were unable to move.
We were fixed to the rock upon which the or-
ganism had nourished ; indeed, incredible as the
statement may appear, the entire reef, which ex-
tended for some hundreds of miles, was composed
of atoms that had been snatched from the ocean by
innumerable generations of those gelatinous little
" I cannot say how long I existed as a constituent
of this marine rock. An atom takes no heed of
time, and a few millions of years pass by very
quickly. Time affects only those compound entities
called plants and animals.
" The surface of the earth underwent some strange
mutations while I was a rock atom. The relative
position of land and water changed. Mountains
were upheaved by the internal fires of the globe,
and deep valleys were eroded by rivers. The
waters of the ocean receded from the reef to which
I belonged, and left it high and dry, as a chain of
hills in the interior of a vast continent. None of
these changes, however, disturbed my repose. The
* The barrier reef along the north coast of Australia is
composed of a chain of coral rocks, and is more than 1000
miles long, and from 10 to 90 miles in breadth, while it rises
from depths which in some places certainly exceed 1800 feet.
What a mausoleum for creatures so low in the scale of being !
58 THE LIFE OF AN ATOM.
ties which bound me t'o my fellow atoms seemed
" At length the rock of which I was a constituent
was subjected to a new mutation by volcanic
agency. The pent-up fires of the earth burst
through the ancient reef, and liberated myriads of
its component atoms. For some time I remained
unaffected by the commotion, but eventually I felt
the disturbing effects of the intense heat, and
found that my bonds were loosened. I was no
longer a rock atom, and the ascending stream of
fiery particles bore me into the atmosphere.
" As for my old companions who had hitherto
shared my reverses, only two of them attended me
now, for the atom of calcium had persuaded one of
the atoms of oxygen to remain with him in the
rock. The metal was not fitted for an aerial life, and
did not care to be separated from all his friends.
What a marvellous difference the absence of those
two atoms made in the group to which I be-
longed. When there were five of us we consti-
tuted a solid molecule ; now we formed a compound
" Who can describe the joys of an aerial atom ? I
have never yet been a part of a poet's brain, and
it is therefore quite out of my power to set forth in
appropriate language the varied pleasures of an at-
mospheric existence. My roving life as an atom of
* Carbonic Acid.
THE LIFE OF AN ATOM. 59
the ocean had its charms, but it was not to be com-
pared with -the life I now led among the sportive
atoms of the air. My two friends remained true
to me. Indeed, had it not been for their constant
watchfulness I should have fallen to the earth, for
I was not buoyant enough to float unsupported.
" Sometimes we soared to a great height, where the
aerial atoms were very far apart, but we usually
kept near the surface of the earth. How changed
was the aspect of nature ! When I first beheld the
outer world all was barren and lifeless, now every
scrap of dry land was covered with a luxuriant
vegetation.* The plants were mostly of great mag-
nitude, though, strange to say, some of them were
closely allied to the humble ferns and tiny mosses
of the age of man. I have seen many wondrous
things in my time, but nothing to surpass those
ancient forests, composed of ferns as large as oaks,
and mosses seventy feet high !
" I was destined to become a part of one of these
gigantic mosses. As I was passing through a forest
with myriads of aerial atoms, I happened to strike
against a leaf, which instantly absorbed me, but
allowed my two companions, who had never been
separated from me before, to pass on with the rest.
For some time I circulated through the vessels of
the living plant as a constituent of the sap, but at
length I settled down among the atoms of carbon,
* The Carboniferous Period.
60 THE LIFE OF AN ATOM.
oxygen, and hydrogen which were aggregated into
particles of wood. Such are the vicissitudes of an
atom, now literally as free as the air, now a captive
in the tissues of a living organism ! A second
time the hidden processes of life had compelled me
to part with my liberty.
" I have already alluded to the mutability of the
earth's surface. The disturbances that took place
during the time that I was a vegetable atom were
of a very extraordinary character. The group of
islands upon which the monster ferns and mosses
flourished, sank beneath the waves, and in course of
time they became overlaid with beds of rock, formed
by the deposition of sand, clay, and other materials
at the bottom of the ocean, the sedimentary matter
being hardened by heat and pressure. Human
beings talk of the stability of the earth, but we
atoms know very well that its great characteristic
is instability. Why ! the crust of this so-called im-
movable earth is continually bulging out in some
places and falling in others !
" I did not lead a very merry life in the depths of
the earth, but still I did not repine. Experience
had taught me that I was a creature of circum-
stance, and must submit to my destiny. How long
I remained underground I cannot say. Millions of
years may have flown by, but they brought me no
change. Numberless atoms of oxygen and hydrogen
that were associated with me in the living plant,
forced their way between the molecules of the over-
THE LIFE OF AN ATOM. 61
lying rooks, and thus escaped from, their subterranean
prison. I was too firmly attached to my solid
brethren to accompany these adventurous atoms, so
I waited patiently for succour, assured that it would
come sooner or later.
" My deliverance was effected by the agency of
Man, that wondrous being, partly composed ot
atoms like myself, and partly of an immaterial
spirit, who now reigned supreme over the other
organisms of the world. Having found that the
compressed remains of the ancient forests* could be
made to yield light and heat, agents which greatly
contributed to his happiness, he sank deep pits
through the rocks, and transferred me, with myriads
of my brethren, from the earth's gloomy depths to
its sun-gilt surface.
" Now commenced the eventful period of my life.
Hitherto my transitions had been few. Twice had
I been a constituent of stone ; twice, a part of a
living organism ; I had tasted the pleasures of a
marine existence ; I had floated joyously in the
air ; I had lain for ages in the bosom of the earth.
But in the few short years that have elapsed since my
release from bondage, I have passed through a far
more wonderful series of changes.
" Let me now recount the chief incidents of my
modern career. I will make use of as few words
as possible, lest my narrative should be cut short
by a new alteration in my condition.
62 THE LIFE OF AN ATOM.
" Soon after my arrival at the surface of the earth,
I was separated from my brother atoms by the
process of combustion, and carried aloft by two
members of the great oxygen family. My freedom
was of short duration. Nature had set innumer-
able traps for me, in the shape of living organisms,
and by one of them I was soon made captive.
I now became a part of a grain of wheat, and in
course of time I found myself in the stomach of a
man. In the human frame I passed through a definite
course of vicissitude, and was then breathed forth
to make room for a new-comer. Once more I enjoyed
the pleasures of an aerial life, which, I need scarcely
say, were again shared by two atoms of oxygen.
"From the atmosphere I passed into the substance
of a tree, which was destined to fall by the hand of
man soon after my absorption. By a cunning pro-
cess the wood was decomposed ; its volatile atoms
of oxygen and hydrogen were set free, and an ag-
gregate of carbon atoms* remained.
" Man had not yet done with me and my dusky
brethren ; he had separated us from our companions
in order that we might be at liberty to unite with
certain atoms of iron, and thus produce a substance
which he greatly prized, f This strange union was
effected, and in course of time I became a part of
one of those weapons with which man destroys his
"I now witnessed some fearful scenes of bloodshed,
* Charcoal. f Steel.
THE LIFE OF AN ATOM. 63
and being an atom of a philosophical turn of mind,
I often speculated upon the motives that induced
those short-lived atomic structures called men to
hasten each other's dissolution. When I speak of
these scenes as fearful, I make use of a human ex-
pression, for I need scarcely say that death can
have no terrors for an undying atom.
" I was detached from the metallic mass by the
agency of heat, and two friendly atoms again con-
veyed me into the atmosphere. My next transition
was into the juice of a grape, where I remained in
peaceful retirement, until man induced me to be-
come a constituent of a bright and sparkling liquid,
which he confined in strong glass bottles.* How
long I remained a pi'isoner I cannot say, but as
soon as my bottle was opened I made my escape in
a bubble of gas. After a short flight through the
air, I passed into a blade of grass, and thence into
the huge frame of an ox.
" The next change in my condition was brought
about by human agency, and I became a constitu-
ent of a volatile and colourless liquid, which was
such a terrible poison that a few drops of it would
suffice to kill the largest animal. t Now, it so hap-
pened that a foolish man swallowed a small quan-
tity of this liquid. He grasped the little phial
which contained the poison with a trembling hand,
he raised it to his lips, and in another moment I found
myself in his lifeless body. A simple atom can
* Champagne. + Prussic Acid.
64 THE LIFE OF AN ATOM.
form no idea of the motives which induce composite
beings to perform certain actions, but as far as I can
judge, this self-destruction seems to be unworthy of
a being like man.
"When I escaped from the dead body, I passed
into the vegetable kingdom, where I became a part
of a beautiful flower. Soon after, I found myself
in the body of a bee, and in course of time I became
a constituent of one of the waxen cells which the
little artisan had so cleverly constructed. From
the honeycomb I passed into a wax taper, from
which I was released by the process of combustion.
"It was now my lot to spend some time among the
aerial atoms; but at length I came in contact with the
sugar-cane, and became a constituent of the sweet
juice from which the lump of sugar was extracted.
" Such is the story of my life, or rather of a frag-
ment of my life. I enjoy perpetual youth. To-
day I may be buried in a mass of corruption, but
to-niorrow I may form a part of a newly-opened
rose. Time cannot reach me ; his hour-glass may
be broken and his scythe may be shattered, but still
I shall exist. At the present moment I am joined
to countless atoms, indestructible and eternal like
myself, in a fragment of sugar, but who can tell
where I shall be in a year's time !"
This peroration has been cut short by our first-
born, who has run away with the lump of sugar,
and we have every reason to believe that the atom
is undergoing new transitions.
" Many a little, makes a mickle." OLD PROVERB.
IN the foregoing pages we have assumed that all
things are made up of very little bits, called atoms.
This view of the nature of matter is purely conjec-
tural, but it agrees so well with the truths revealed
by Science, that we must admit it to be highly pro-
bable. Let us descend for a while from the realms
of imagination, and lay before our reader the facts
upon which the beautiful theory of atoms is based.
The word "atom" is derived from the Greek lan-
guage, and signifies " that which cannot be cut," a
very appropriate term, for an atom being the
smallest possible particle of a substance, must neces-
sarily be indivisible. The existence of half an atom
is inadmissible, because the mind cannot form an
idea of a particle smaller than the smallest.
Philosophers are divided in their opinions re-
specting the nature of the ultimate particles of mat-
ter : some maintain that they are hard and solid,
66 A LITTLE BIT.
and therefore of a definite size and weight, though
so minute as to defy all our optical instruments to
enable us to perceive them ; others hold them to be
mere points or centres of force, destitute of solidity
and magnitude. What is an atom 1 This is a pro-
blem which the human mind can never solve, it can
only throw out shrewd guesses at the truth. We
will, however, take it for granted that the ultimate
particles of matter are indivisible and indestructible,
without wasting our time on metaphysical subtleties.
Though we can form no conception of the abso-
lute size of atoms, the wonderful divisibility of mat-
ter furnishes many proofs of their extreme minute-
ness. The gold-beater hammers out a single grain
of the precious metal until it covers forty-nine
square inches. Now, each square inch of this gold
leaf may readily be cut into a hundred strips, and
each strip into a hundred pieces, each of which is
distinctly visible to the unaided eye. A single
grain of gold may thus be subdivided into 490,000
visible parts. But this is not all ; if attached to a
slip of glass the leaf may be subdivided still further,
as ten thousand lines may then be ruled in the
space of a square inch, and in this manner the en-
tire leaf, weighing but a grain, may be cut into
4,900,000,000 fragments, each visible by meansof the
microscope. As we require no less than ten figures
to express the number of parts into which a grain
of matter may be subdivided by mechanical means,
and as each of these parts must contain a vast
A LITTLE BIT. 67
number of particles, we see that an atom must be
a very little bit indeed ! But gold furnishes a still
more remarkable instance of the extension of mat-
ter. The gilt wire used in embroidery is formed
by extending gold over the surface of silver. A
very little gold is made to go a very long way, for
each grain is spread over a surface of nearly ten
thousand square inches.
In the animal and vegetable kingdoms we meet
with some surprising instances of the divisibility of
matter. The microscope reveals the existence of
animals so wonderfully minute that it takes a
hundred millions of them to weigh a grain, yet
each creature is possessed of distinct organs, and
must be composed of innumerable atoms.
The spores of the lycoperdon or puff-ball are
found to be little orange-coloured globes, and
although each spore is capable of becoming a living
plant, no less than 125,000 of them would be re-
quisite to form a single globe of the diameter of a
The sense of smell enables us to perceive particles
of whose magnitude we can form no adequate con-
ception. Odour is simply the disengagement of
the volatile particles of a substance, yet a single
grain of musk has been known to perfume a large
room for the space of twenty years !
We may rest assured, then, that the atoms of
matter are exceedingly minute, though their actual
size can never be determined by our powers of per-
68 A LITTLE BIT.
ception. Let us now consider the aggregation of
these little bits into masses.
The force which holds the atoms together is called
cohesion; it is greater in solids than in liquids,
while in aeriform bodies it seems to be altogether
We have every reason to believe that the ultimate
particles of a body are never in actual contact, but
are placed at a certain distance from each other, so
that there exists around every individual particle a
space void of matter. All bodies are more or less
compressible, and unless we acknowledge the exis-
tence of these empty spaces we must suppose that
two or more particles are capable of occupying the
same place at the same time : a supposition which is
opposed to the notion of an atom having a definite size.
A volume of air can be compressed into a space a
thousand times smaller than that which it originally
occupied, and we must therefore conclude that the
atoms of air are separated by wide intervals. Solids
and liquids must also have interstices or pores
between their particles, as they invariably expand
when heated and contract when exposed to a low
The porosity of gold was demonstrated some two
hundred years ago by the famous Florentine experi-
ment. A. hollow ball of the precious metal, filled
with water, was submitted to a great pressure, by
which the fluid was made to ooze through its pores
and bedew its outer surface.
A LITTLE BIT. 69
The distance between the particles of matter is
greater in liquids than in solids, and greatest in
gases and vapours. It is highly probable that all
bodies, even the densest metals, contain more space
than matter in other words, that the atoms are
much smaller than the spaces which separate them.
Some of our greatest philosophers have held the
atoms of matter to be immeasurably small, compared
with their surrounding spaces.
Newton thought that the whole material world
might be compressed into the space of a single cubic
inch, provided that its particles could be brought
into actual contact.
Sir John Herschel compares a ray of light pene-
trating glass, to a bird threading the mazes of a
forest ; and says that there is no absurdity in imagi-
ning the atoms of a solid to be as thinly distributed
through the space it occupies as the stars that com-
pose a nebula.
We need scarcely say that these hidden truths do
not fall within the sphere of scientific inquiry, but
can only be subjects for the exercise of speculation.
All our instruments are far too clumsy to help us
to a knowledge of atomic magnitudes ; the compasses
that can measure the interval that separates particle
from particle, and the scale that will turn with the
weight of an atom, do not belong to man, though
the imagination may picture such delicate contri-
vances in the laboratory of a scientific fairy.
These considerations lead us to a subject about
70 A LITTLE BIT.
which we do know something, namely, the relative
weights of the ultimate particles or atoms of bodies.
Chemistry has revealed the existence of some
sixty-three elementary bodies, or, according to the
atomic theory, sixty-three different kinds of atoms.
Now, although we cannot ascertain the actual weight
of a single atom, we have good grounds for believing
that an atom of oxygen is heavier than an atom of
carbon and lighter than one of sulphur. Before we
enter into this subject, we have a few words about the
great man who revived the ancient theory of atoms,
and made use of it to explain the mysterious laws
of chemical combination.
John Dalton was born in Westmoreland, in the
latter portion of the last century, and belonged to
the sect of Quakers. When very young he resided
with Mr. Goxagh, of Kendal, a blind philosopher, to
whom he read, and whom he assisted in his scientific
investigations. It was here that he acquired a con-
siderable part of his education, particularly his taste
for mathematics. From Kendal, Dalton went to
Manchester, and commenced teaching elementary
mathematics to young men. In this way, together
with a few courses of chemical lectures which he
occasionally delivered, he contrived to support him-
self during a long and useful life. His slender in-
come was always equal to his wants, and in his con-
tempt for riches he resembled the sages of antiquity.
His kind heart and powerful mind gained him
many friends and admirers, and in course of time
A LITTLE BIT. 71
he came to be regarded as a great philosopher,
though he still continued to earn his bread as a tutor.
Such was the founder of the beautiful atomic theory
of Chemistry, which is so well adapted to render
certain natural laws intelligible to our understanding.
In examining the so-called four elements, we
alluded to the fact that bodies united to form com-
pounds in definite proportions. Let us explain this
matter more fully. Water invariably contains
oxygen and hydrogen, in the proportion of eight
parts by weight of the former element to one part
of the latter, whether these parts represent tons,
pounds, grains, or any other quantities. The whole
of the oxygen contained in the ocean is exactly
eight times heavier than the hydrogen with which
it is combined, and the weights of the two gases
bear the same relation to each other in the dew-drop.
If we take any other chemical compound, we shall
find that the proportions by weight of its consti-
tuents are invariable ; thus there is a broad distinc-
tion between such a compound and a mere mixture
in which the ingredients are present in indefinite
Water is not the only compound that can be
formed of oxygen and hydrogen. We can compel
one part of hydrogen to combine with sixteen parts
of oxygen, and the result of their union is a colour-
less liquid, less volatile than water, and having a
metallic taste. This liquid, called peroxide of hydro-
gen, and water, are the only compounds that can be
72 A LITTLE BIT.
formed of the two gases. This fact is well worthy
of consideration. Hydrogen will combine with
eight or with sixteen parts of oxygen, but in no
other proportions. Let us now glance at some
other compounds. The poisonous gas known as
carbonic oxide, contains six parts of carbon and
eight of oxygen ; but six parts of carbon also com-
bine with sixteen of oxygen to form carbonic acid.
Again, in ordinary coal-gas we find one part by
weight of hydrogen xinited to six of carbon.
How can we account for these recurrent numbers ?
What relation subsists between the number 8 or
its multiple 16, and oxygen ; between 1 and hydro-
gen ; between 6 and carbon ? Why should these
three bodies combine in fixed numerical propor-
According to the beautiful atomic theory ot
Dalton, these numbers express the relative weights
of the ultimate particles of matter. Let us consider
the composition of water in this light. The smallest
possible particle of water is composed of one atom
of hydrogen gas and one atom of oxygen, the latter
being eight times heavier than the former. Now,
it is evident that whatever may be the number of
particles in a given volume of water, the relative
weights of the two gases will remain constant.
The smallest particle of the peroxide of hydrogen
contains one atom of hydrogen and two atoms of
oxygen ; accordingly, there can be no compound of
hydrogen and oxygen between water and the
A LITTLE BIT. 73
peroxide, unless we admit the existence of half-
atoms. We have only spoken of three of the ele-
mentary bodies, as we wished our remarks to be as
simple as possible ; each of the sixty-three elements
has, however, a definite combining proportion or
How admirably this atomic theory explains the
laws of chemical combination ; how intelligible it
renders those fixed, invariable weights in which
the elements unite to form compounds. All is
shown to depend on the properties with which those
inconceivably small particles of matter are in-
We have told the reader all we know about
atoms (at least all we think we know, for we can
never be certain that atoms exist). They are im-
measurably mimite ; they are separated from each
other by wide intervals, and they have a definite
A German chemist has endeavoured to render
the atomic theory intelligible by a very inge-
nious illustration. He compares atoms to the
heavenly bodies, which, in comparison with the
extent of the space in which they are suspended,
are infinitely small : that is, are atoms. In-
numerable suns, with their planets and attendant
satellites, move in infinite space, at definite and
measured distances from each other. They are
individually indivisible, inasmuch as there exists
no force capable of separating them into parts,
74 A LITTLE BIT.
tearing off from them anything material, or altering
their size or form in such a degree as to be per-
ceptible, or to impair or disturb their relations to
the other heavenly bodies. In this sense the
whole universe coalesces into one immense body,
the atoms of which that is, suns, planets, and
satellites are indivisible and unchangeable !
There are many things in nature which the human
mind will never be able to comprehend ; and fore-
most among them we must place our Little Bit.
"But when you see th' effects of the Great Medicine,
Of which one part projected on a hundred
Of Mercury, or Venus, or the Moon,
Shall turn it to as many of the Sun,
Nay, to a thousand, so ad infinitum,
You will believe me." BEN JONSON.
WHO has not heard of the Philosopher's Stone,
that much-coveted but unattainable red powder of
the alchemists, which was supposed to possess the
powers of transmuting baser metals into gold, of
healing disease, and of restoring youth 1 Who has
not read of those misguided men of former ages,
whose lives were passed in attempting to discover
this precious substance, which was to confer upon
them inexhaustible wealth, health, and longevity,
but whose labours too often resulted in poverty,
sickness, and death?
In the present day we are too apt to regard the
doctrine of transmutation, which formed the basis
of alchemy, as a mere hallucination of the human
mind ; and to look upon the men who entertained
it with mixed feelings of pity and contempt. Now
76 MODERN ALCHEMY.
if we only take the trouble to dip into the subject
of Alchemy, we shall find that the idea of the
transmutation of baser metals into gold stood in
the most perfect harmony with all the observations
and all the knowledge of the age in which it was
conceived, and that the alchemists, instead of being
crack-brained enthusiasts, were the most learned
and acute men of their time.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there
were many impostors who pretended a knowledge
of gold-making ; but it is unjust to confound them
with the true alchemists, who were equivalent to
the chemists of the present day. We cannot really
draw a line of demarcation between alchemy and
chemistry, as the one science passed by an imper-
ceptible transition into the other. Alchemy is
ancient chemistry, and chemistry modern alchemy.
Many of the opinions entertained by the chemists
of to-day are quite as extravagant as those held by
the alchemists. Indeed, as our knowledge increases,
the transmutation of metals seems to grow more
and more probable.
Before we consider the magical transformations
that are effected by the modern alchemist, let us
examine some of the doctrines propounded by his
The alchemist maintained that all the metals are
compounds ; that the baser metals contain the
same constituents as gold, contaminated with
various impurities. To transmute any metals into
MODERN ALCHEMY. 77
gold, these impurities must be removed or reme-
died, a result only to be attained through the
agency of the great medicine, or philosopher's
This view of the nature of metallic bodies was
perfectly consistent with known facts. It was
known that the colour or hardness of a metal could
be modified by the addition of a foreign substance,
and it was only natural to suppose that the dif-
ferent qualities of the metals depended on certain
Gold was the only pure or healthy metal. Brass
was diseased gold ; mercury was diseased silver;
but these metals, and all the others, might be
healed, or transmuted into gold, by the wonderful
red powder. In the mystical language of the al-
chemists gold was called Sol, or the sun j silver,
being the next metal in purity, was Luna, or the
moon ; and the other five metals then known re-
ceived the names of the planets.
The idea that the philosopher's stone possessed
the powers of curing diseases, and of prolonging
life, was evidently suggested by its supposed effect
on ignoble metals. Since it could heal the metallic
lepers, and convert them into gold, why should it
not ennoble the human body ?
The existence of the philosopher's stone was
never questioned, though few of the alchemists who
have left writings behind them boast of having
had it in their possession. In all the wonderful
78 MODERN ALCHEMY.
stories that are told of the conversion of the baser
metals into gold, some mysterious unknown is made
the fortunate possessor of the magical substance.
The narrative of Helvetius, the distinguished phy-
sician to the Prince of Orange, is a good example
of these stories :
At the close of the year 1666 a stranger called
upon Helvetius, and showed him five large plates
of gold, which he said he had made by means of
the philosopher's stone. The physician, who had
hitherto been a bitter opponent of alchemy, was not
prepared to receive this extraordinary statement
without some convincing proof of its truth ; he
therefoi'e besought the stranger to give him a small
portion of the stone, or at least to make a trial of
its powers in his presence. The stranger refused to
accede to either of these requests, and took his
leave, promising, however, to return in six weeks.
He kept his promise, and presented Helvetius with
a piece of the stone about the size of a mustard-
seed. Next day the physician, in the presence of
his wife and son, put six drachms of lead into a
crucible, and as soon as it was melted, threw into
it the fragment which he had obtained from the
adept. The crucible was now covered wifch its lid,
and left in the fire for a quarter of an hour, at the
end of which time the whole of the lead was con-
verted into gold. The melted metal was at first of
a deep green colour, then it became blood-red, but
when cold it assumed the true tint of gold. This
MODEKN ALCHEMY. 79
ingot stood all the tests that were applied to it by
Porelius, the Warden of the Dutch Mint, and was
found to be pure gold ! We need scarcely add that
the sceptical Helvetius became a firm believer in
the transmutation of metals.
We dare not accept this strange story as a true
one, though we cannot comprehend the motives
that could have induced Helvetius to promulgate
that which he knew to be false. In the present
state of our knowledge, we regard lead and gold as
distinct bodies, and not modifications of the same
If the alchemists failed to discover the philoso-
pher's stone, we must not conclude that their
labours were fruitless. In seeking that which had
no real existence, they found some inestimable trea-
sures ; for most of those acids, alkalies, and salts
that are indispensable to the modern experimental-
ist were discovered hundreds of years ago by the
" The philosopher's stone," says Baron Liebig,
" for which the ancients sought with a dim and ill-
defined impulse, was in its perfection nothing else
than the science of chemistry. Is that not the phi-
losopher's stone which promises to increase the
fertility of our fields, and to ensure the prosperity
of additional millions of mankind ? Does not che-
mistry promise that instead of seven grains we shall
be enabled to raise eight, or more, on the same
soil 1 Is that science not the philosopher's stone
80 MODERN ALCHEMY.
which changes the ingredients of the crust of the
earth into useful products, to be further transformed
by commerce into gold 1 Is that knowledge not
the philosopher's stone which promises to disclose
the laws of life, and which must finally yield to us
the means of curing diseases and of prolonging life ?"
With these remarks we will take our leave of the
ancient alchemists, and proceed to consider the
labours of the alchemists of the present day.
Let us step into a laboratory and surprise one of
these men of science at his work. What a different
place from the smoky workshop of the alchemist of
former days ! The massive furnaces have given
way to cunning contrivances for gas, and all the
clumsy alembics, aludels, and earthen vessels which
were once in vogue, have been displaced to make
room for tiny bottles, retorts, glass tubes, and
The alchemist himself has shaved off his long
beard, and has discarded his ample gown ; he now
wears a most unpicturesque black coat, and looks
for all the world like an ordinary person.
What is he doing 1 Is he trying to transmute lead
into gold ? No, he is not satisfied that the metals
are transmutable, and he cannot afford to waste his
life in researches which may never lead to satisfac-
tory results. He is doing something which seems
quite as extraordinary as gold making he is ex-
tracting a beautiful metal from clay !
This metal, which is called aluminium, was first
MODERN ALCHEMY. 81
procured in a separate state some thirty years ago,
but in so small a quantity that its peculiar qualities
could not be denned. We are indebted to a cele-
brated French adept* for the process by which the
metal can be obtained in considerable masses.
Here is a bar of aluminium. It resembles
silver in its beautiful lustre, but can be easily dis-
tinguished from that metal by its bluish colour.
If we handle the bar we shall marvel greatly at its
lightness, as aluminium is only two and a-half times
heavier than water, or less than one-third the weight
of iron. The alchemist will tell us that it is
endowed with many striking properties. It can be
fused almost as easily as zinc, and cast into any
form. It is malleable and ductile to a great extent,
and can be beaten into the thinnest plates, or drawn
out into the finest wires. It is a better conductor of
electricity than any metal at present known. It does
not tarnish on exposure to the air, and is not affected
by the sulphurous vapours that prove so destructive
to the lustre of silver. It is admirably adapted for
the manufacture of bells, as it has all the sonorous
qualities of the most expensive bronzes. Its marvel-
lous lightness and strength render it an invaluable
material for defensive armour. It is free from
deleterious qualities, and therefore suited for domes-
tic utensils. It may be fashioned into ornaments
that will never lose their splendour, and into deli-
* M. St. Claire Deville.
82 MODERN ALCHEMY.
cate scale-beams and watch-wheels that will never
be affected by rust. In fine, aluminium seems to
possess properties which render it useful in a thou-
sand ways, and if the process by which it is ob-
tained can be further simplified, it will prove an
inestimable boon to mankind. The source of alumi-
nium is inexhaustible, since it is the base of every
kind of clay. About one-third of the weight of
every brick, every stone-jar, and every tea-cup con-
sists of this curious metal.
Who will say that alchemy is extinct 1 What
science but alchemy would enable us to extract a
metal having an intrinsic value equal to that of
gold, from a lump of worthless clay?
The artificial formation of lapis lazuli is another
brilliant achievement of modern alchemy. This
mineral has always been esteemed for its beautiful
azure-blue colour, and for furnishing us with the
valuable pigment, ultramarine.
Before the chemist could produce ultramarine
artificially, he required to know the composition of
the natural mineral ; before he could form a por-
tion of lapis lazuli, it was necessary that he should
pull another portion to pieces for a pattern. This
preliminary operation was soon performed, and
lapis lazuli was found to be composed of silica, alu-
mina, and soda, three colourless bodies, with sul-
phur and a trace of iron, neither of which is blue.
The chemist was not a whit disheartened at the
absence of any colouring ingredient, as he knew
MODERN ALCHEMY. 83
that it was impossible to account for the colour of
most chemical compounds. He now combined the
five ingredients of the mineral in their proper pro-
portions, and saw, to his great delight, that the com-
pound assumed the matchless hue of ultramarine.
The artificial ultramarine is even more beautiful
than the natural, while for the price of a single
ounce of the latter we may obtain many pounds of
Surely our modern alchemists have discovered
the true philosopher's stone, for with the compara-
tively valueless substances, flint, clay, soda, sulphur,
and iron, they form a mineral which was formerly
nmch dearer than gold !
We cannot tell what wonders may yet be per-
formed by the modern alchemists ; one of their
number has said, that to-morrow or next day some
one may discover a method of producing, from a
piece of charcoal, a splendid diamond ; from a bit
of alum, sapphires or rubies, or from coal-tar the
beautiful colouring principle of madder, or the
valuable remedies known as quinine and morphine ;
all these things being either as precious or more
useful than gold.
The extraction of aluminium from clay, and the
manufacture of ultramarine, are examples of che-
mical analysis and synthesis, but not of transmuta-
tion. Let us now examine the opinions entertained
by the alchemists of to-day on the subject of the
transmutation of elementary bodies.
84 MODERN ALCHEMY.
The ancients believed the metals to be compounds,
and this view may be correct. They are now con-
sidered to be simple substances, not because they
are known to be un decomposable, but because they
have never yet been decomposed. Fifty years ago
upwards of a dozen bodies were regarded as elements
which are now known to be compounds of metals
Who can tell what another period of fifty years
may do for alchemy ? It is quite possible that at
the end of that time the sixty -three so-called simple
bodies may be found to be mere modifications of
three or four elements, or perhaps of one primordial
These considerations lead us to reflect on the
curious transformations which occur in the proper-
ties of certain elementary bodies, and which must
be regarded as instances of transmutation. Now,
a difference in the properties of two compounds
having the same composition, may arise from a dif-
ference in the arrangement of their ultimate par-
ticles ; but how is it with the different forms as-
sumed by a simple body 1 A mass of phosphorus
is supposed to be an aggregate of similar atoms, yet
this and many other substances of a simple nature,
are liable to strange variations of condition which
we are as yet unable to explain.
The element carbon exists in many different
states. This irregular lump of charcoal, this light
powder called lamp-black, and this hard semi-
MODERN ALCHEMY. 85
crj^stalliue mass of coke, are mere modifications of
Again, this piece of graphite is chemically the
same substance, as it is simply an aggregate of
carbon atoms ; but it has none of the properties of
charcoal. It has a metallic leaden-grey lustre,
whence its familiar name of black-lead. It burns
with great difficulty ; it is greasy to the touch,
and it leaves dark traces when rubbed upon paper.
But the most remarkable form assumed by carbon
is that of the diamond. This precious gem occurs
in nature in regular crystals, usually colourless,
but sometimes yellow and brown. Now, we are
convinced that this brilliant and transparent body
is made up of the very same atoms as those which
go to form the dull black mass of charcoal ! The
alchemist has not yet succeeded in making dia-
monds, but he has already transmuted diamonds
into coke. Who knows but what he may reverse
this transmutation before long !
When we find a single element assuming these
Protean shapes, we must admit that the notions of
the old alchemists were far from being extravagant.
To a person ignorant of chemistry it would appear
much more probable that the metals are modifica-
tions of one substance, than that the diamond is
merely crystallized charcoal.
Sulphur may be obtained in various forms. The
roll-sulphur or brimstone, and the fine powder called
flowers of sulphur, are probably the only forms
86 MODERN ALCHEMY.
known to the reader. The alchemist, however,
procures sulphur in beautiful semi-transpai-ent crys-
tals; in needle-like prisms of a brownish-yellow
colour ; and in a soft and sticky mass, which may
be drawn out into elastic threads, and which
greatly resembles shoemaker's wax.
Phosphorus is equally changeable, and may be
obtained in no less than five different forms. Let
us compare ordinary phosphorus with its most
striking modification, which has been designated
amorphous phosphorus. Ordinary phosphorus is a
colourless waxy-looking solid ; the amorphous
phosphorus is opaque, and of a brownish-red colour.
The former is easily fusible, very inflammable, and
luminous in the dark ; the latter may be heated in
the open air without change, until the temperature
reaches 500, when it is converted into ordinary
phosphorus. Great caution is required in handling
the ordinary phosphorus, as the heat of the hand is
sometimes sufficient to inflame it ; but the philoso-
pher who discovered the amorphous phosphorus* is
in the habit of carrying this variety loose in his
pocket. Common phosphorus dissolves in bisul-
phide of carbon ; the altered phosphorus is in-
soluble in that liquid. The former is very poi-
sonous ; the latter, in the same dose, has no effect
on the animal system.
These marvellous differences are inexplicable.
We are able to change the ordinary phosphorus
* M. Schrotter.
MODERN ALCHEMY. 87
into the amorphous variety by means of heat, with-
out adding to it any new substance, therefore we
are quite sure that the soft translucent solid that
takes fire so easily is chemically the same substance
as that uninflammable solid which looks like a piece
of common red sealing-wax. Were we unable to
effect this strange transmutation, we should doubt-
less regard these two modifications of phosphorus
as distinct elements.
The invisible gas, oxygen, can be made to assume
a very strange condition, by transmitting through it
a succession of electric sparks. This altered oxygen,
which has received the name of ozone, exhibits some
very striking pi-operties. It has a powerful odour,
whereas ordinary oxygen is destitute of the slightest
smell. It possesses considerable bleaching powers,
corrodes organic matters, and acts as a powerful
oxidizing agent. It seems to be much more active
than ordinary oxygen, and might easily be taken
for a distinct element by those ignorant of the fact
that its active character can be destroyed by heat.
These instances of actiial transmutation will
suffice to convince the reader that alchemy still
exists. He will see that our modern alchemists
are true descendants of the ancient gold-seekers,
though they no longer believe in the philosopher's
stone. He will be less disposed to ridicule the
idea of the transmutation of metals, and will be
able to form some conception of the wonderful
products of modern alchemy.
" The glorious sun
Stays in his course, and plays the alchemist."
WHEREVER the Sunbeam falls we find life and
motion ; elsewhere, death and stillness. Under its
influence the seed germinates, the stem sends forth
branches, the leaf bursts from the bud, the flower
unfolds its petals, and the fruit grows and ripens.
This subtle agent plays an important part in
many of the fairy tales of science. The philosopher
has conducted it into his dark laboratory, and by
twisting and torturing it with cunningly-devised
instruments, has forced it to reveal so many won-
derful truths, that the mind, in attempting to
grasp them, is fairly bewildered. The Magic of the
Sunbeam is indeed an inexhaustible theme, and we
can only touch upon a few of its mysteries.
Every sunbeam consists of light, heat, and
chemical power, or actinism. At present we will
consider the sunbeam as a ray of light, without
regarding its other principles.
What is light ? This is one of those unanswer-
90 THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM.
able questions that meet us on the threshold of
every science. Some philosophers entertain the
opinion that light consists of tiny particles of
matter thrown off from a luminous body with pro-
digious velocity in all directions. Others suppose
it to be an undulation or vibration produced in a
medium called ether, which is believed to pervade
all space. The former view of the subject is
termed the theory of emission ; the latter, the un-
dulatory theory. We cannot say which of these
hypotheses, or guesses, approaches nearest to the
truth, but the undulatory theory has by far the
greater number of supporters.
Whether a ray of light be a stream of incon-
ceivably minute particles of matter, or a succession
of waves in an ethereal medium, we are quite
certain that it travels at the rate of nearly two
hundred thousand miles in a single second. But
such is the disproportion between the distances of
the celestial bodies, that light must be about eight
and a quarter minutes in reaching us from the sun;
about five hours in coming from the planet Nep-
tune ; years from the nearest fixed star ; and
probably centuries from the nebulae ! When we
look up at the heavens, we do not see the stars as
they are now, but as they were many years ago, for
the light which now renders them visible must
have left them long before we were born !
Rays of light are emitted, under ordinary cir-
cumstances, in direct lines ; they will not pass
THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM. 91
through a bent tube, nor turn a corner. Bodies
through which light passes freely are called trans-
parent, and those which do not admit it to pass,
opaque. When light falls iipon an opaque surface
a portion is absorbed and another portion reflected ;
when the reflected portion is considerable the sur-
face appears white, and Hack when the portion is
We have said that a sunbeam consists of three
great principles, namely, light, heat, and actinism.
These may be but modifications of one force, but in
the present state of our knowledge it is better to
regard them as distinct agents.
Light acts upon the organs of vision, and enables
us to distinguish external objects. Heat regulates
the solid, liquid, and aeriform states of matter,
and maintains this planet in the condition which
is essential to the well-being of its inhabitants.
Actinism brings about those wonderful chemical
changes which are constantly occurring in nature.
These three principles unite to form our magic
sunbeam, just as three chemical elements unite to
form a compound.
How can we decompose a sunbeam? How can
we separate those principles which are linked to-
gether in such a mysterious manner? Easily
enough, for by the instrumentality of a triangular
bar of transparent glass, called a prism, the beam
can be instantly resolved into its components.
If a sunbeam, admitted into a dark chamber by
92 THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM.
a small hole in the window-shutter, be allowed to
fall on a prism, its subtle constituents are mys-
teriously disturbed, and precipitate themselves at
different distances on a white tablet, or screen,
placed to receive them. What marvellous change
is this ! A moment since the beam formed a
bright spot on the screen, but now in place of the
spot we see a lengthened band of variegated colours !
On one side of the prism a pencil of brilliant white
sunlight falls upon the surface of the glass ; on the
other the pencil spreads out and paints upon the
screen a ribbon whose beauteous hues infinitely sur-
pass the colours that lie on the artist's palette !
Examine these colours attentively. At the bottom
of the band we find red, above it orange, then yellow,
green, blue, indigo, and lastly violet. These co-
lours pass by insensible gradations into each other,
so that it is impossible to say where one colour ends
and another begins.
We have thus decomposed the visible principle
of the sunbeam into its elementary colours, for our
readers must know that white is a compound of
seven hues. The natural colours of bodies depend
entirely upon the manner in which they decompose
the sunbeams. A rose is red because its petals have
the property of absorbing all the elementary colours
of light except red, which it reflects. The pigments
used by the artist are not, in themselves, colours ;
they are merely substances that absorb certain rays
and reflect others. Our readers will now understand
THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM. 93
how it is that a body which reflects most of the
light that falls upon it appears perfectly white.
But we have not yet done with the variegated
band, or prismatic spectrum, as it has been termed.
If a highly sensitive finger were held in the yellow
rays of the spectrum, a degree of warmth would be
felt, greater than if it were held in the violet rays.
But if it were removed to the extreme red rays a
great deal more heat would be perceived than in
either of the former cases. Now, we have imagined
the existence of a finger far more sensitive to slight
variations of temperature than ordinary fingers are,
but these results have been obtained by means of
very delicate thermometers, or heat measurers.
Let us now take a piece of paper, prepared for the
photographic process, and place it upon the screen
so that it may receive the rainbow-like colours upon
its sensitive surface. On removing it it will be
found to be blackened at a point beyond the violet
rays of the spectrum. The principle which black-
ens the prepared paper is actinism.
From these experiments we learn that the sun-
beam is an ethereal band of different rays, which
maybe separated by the instrumentality of the prism.
We learn that heat is less refracted, or bent, by the
glass than the other powers, as we find it but
slightly thrown out of the right line which the
beam would have taken had it not been interrupted
by the prism. "VVe discover that light is subject to
greater refraction as the seven colours are thrown.
94 THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM.
upon the screen above the maximum point of the
heat rays. Lastly, we find that actinism is more
refrangible than either heat or light, as we know
that the maximum of this power is found in the
upper part of the spectrum at a point where light
rapidly diminishes, and where scarcely any heat can
The analysis of the sunbeam by means of the
prism must excite our wonder. Who could imagine
that a simple wedge-shaped piece of glass would be
able to separate those imponderable agents which
reach us after having travelled ninety-five millions
of miles together ?
We can isolate either of these solar principles
without the aid of a prism. The crystal called
black mica, does not admit light to pass through it,
but it is freely penetrated by heat j and on the other
hand, glass stained green by oxide of copper, offers
scarcely any impediment to the passage of light,
though it effectually stops the rays of heat. Again,
a yellow transparent glass obstructs the chemical
radiations, while a dark blue medium, which arrests
nearly all the light, allows them to pass. Thus we
see that the physical conditions of the three solar
principles are essentially different.
Let us now consider the magic influences of this
sunbeam over the animal and vegetable kingdoms.
The luminous principle first demands our attention ;
for although we are told that light is less abundant
than either heat or actinism, we cannot help re-
THE MAGIC OF THE STWBEAM. 95
garding it as the sunbeam's chief constituent.
Light is of the highest importance to the health
and well-being of animals, as may be inferred from
the fact that animal life ceases in situations from
which light is totally excluded. The case of the
Proteus anguinus is exceptional, and therefore de-
serves some notice.
This extraordinary little creature is found in
some of the gloomy caverns of Illyria, into which
the magic sunbeam never penetrates. " At first
view," says Sir Humphry Davy, "you might sup-
pose this animal to be a lizard, but it has the
motions of a fish. Its head, and the lower part of
its body, and its tail, bear a strong resemblance to
those of the eel ; but it has no fins, and its curious
bronchial organs are not like the gills of fishes.
They form a singular vascular structure, almost like
a crest, round the throat, which may be removed
without occasioning the death of the animal, who is
likewise furnished with lungs. With this double
apparatus for supplying air to the blood, it can live
either below or above the surface of the water. Its
fore feet resemble hands, but they have only three
claws or fingers, and are too feeble to be of use in
grasping or supporting the weight of the animal.
The hinder feet have only two claws or toes, which
in the larger specimens are found so imperfect as to
be almost obliterated. It has small points in place
of eyes, as if to preserve the analogy of nature. It
is of a fleshy whiteness and transparency in its
96 THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM.
natural state, but when exposed to light, its skin
gradually becomes darker, and at last assumes an
olive tint. Its nasal organs appear large ; and it is
abundantly furnished with teeth, from which it
may be concluded that it is an animal of prey, yet
in its confined state it has never been known to
eat, though it has been kept alive for many years
by occasionally changing the water in which it was
placed." This strange creature, whose life is passed
in total darkness, has long been a puzzle to philoso-
phers, as all the facts revealed by science go to
prove that light is indispensable to organization.
The dependence of animal life upon light is beau-
tifully exhibited in the ocean. Water is not abso-
lutely translucent, and it has been calculated that
light must lose all its influence at the depth of a
very few hundred feet into the ocean, even under
the tropics. Now, it has been satisfactorily proved
by an extensive series of dredging experiments that
life diminishes as we descend into the ocean, and
that beyond the depth of three hundred fathoms it
ceases altogether. But this is not all, for besides
being much more numerous, the shells of the differ-
ent mollusca are much more brightly coloured in
the upper regions of the ocean than in the lower,
in fact, a regular gradation of tints may be traced
as the shells grow deeper in hue as they approach
Man himself is highly susceptible to the influ-
ence of light, and pines and sickens in darkness.
THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM. 97
Those persons who dwell in dark streets and alleys
are far more subject to disease than those who reside
in open places. Again, those who take no heed
of the old proverb about going early to bed, seldom
find themselves healthy ; and though they may be
wealthy, they cannot be deemed wise !
Light is absolutely necessary to vegetable life,
for under its influence the plant separates carbon
from the air and secretes it within its tissues. Every
one must have observed how plants grow towards
the light, especially when confined in a room ; how
blanched and sickly they become in dark situations,
and how speedily they recover when exposed to full
sunlight. When a potato germinates in a dark
cellar it puts forth long pallid shoots in quest of a
stray sunbeam ; but let it be exposed to the light
for a few days, and these shoots will become dark
Flowers are more sensitive to the influence of
light than leaves ; indeed almost every flower has a
particular degree of light requisite for its full ex-
pansion. So regular are the periods of opening and
shutting with some flowers, that they enable us to
tell the hour of the day with tolerable accuracy.
The great naturalist, Linnaeus, made a list of no less
than thirteen flowers that open and shut at diffe-
rent hours, and designated them by the fanciful
title of " Flora's clock."
Having said enough to prove that there exists a
mysterious bond of union between organization
98 THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM.
and light, let us now examine some of the effects
The present condition of our earth is directly
dependent upon the amount of heat we receive
from the sun. If it were possible to move this
planet nearer that orb, the quantity of heat would
be much increased, and all the present races of
plants and animals must perish ; the same result
would happen were the two bodies to be separated
by a greater distance, owing to a deficiency of the
genial influence. In the former case the world
would be much too hot to hold us, and in the
latter we should be regularly frozen out !
The rays that are emitted from the sun are
partly absorbed by the atmosphere, which acts as a
screen, and shields the earth's inhabitants from the
full and perhaps destructive influence of the sun's
heat. The quantity of heat received by us in one
year is prodigious, for it has been calculated that it
would suffice to melt a shell of ice forty-six feet
thick, and covering every part of the globe. The
heat-rays striking the earth, become dispersed in a
variety of ways. Some are reflected, others are
absorbed. Some of the rays warm the earth, and
then warm the overlying air, and expanding it, rise
with it to the upper regions of the atmosphere.
But by far the greater number of heat-rays pene-
trate the earth, and descend to a considerable depth.
In winter this stored-up heat partly returns to the
surface, and ultimately becomes dissipated into the
air, and from the air into infinite space.
THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM. 99
Heat, like light, is absorbed in different degrees
by different substances. The colour and condition
of surface seems to exert a great influence on its
absorption ; thus a black body absorbs more heat
than a white one, and a rough surface more than
a smooth one. " Every tree," says Mr. Hunt,
" spreading its green leaves to the sunshine, or ex-
posing its brown branches to the air, every flower
which lends its beauty to the joyous earth, possesses
different absorbing and radiating powers. The
chalice-like cup of the pure white lily floating on
the lake, the variegated tulip, the brilliant anemone,
the delicate rose, and the intensely-coloured peony
or dahlia, have each powers peculiar to themselves
for drinking in the warming life-stream of the sun,
and for radiating it back again to the thirsting
It is impossible to emimerate the wonderful
offices performed by heat in the economy of nature.
By the influence of heat, water is vaporized and
raised into the air, thence to be precipitated in re-
freshing showers. The atmospheric currents are
caused by heat ; the trade-wind, that blows from
the same quarter throughout the year, the periodi-
cal monsoon, the gentle breeze, the boisterous gale,
and the devastating hurricane, are alike manifesta-
tions of the activity of this mighty principle.
Let us now glance at that mysterious element of
the sunbeam which cannot be detected by the
senses. To modern science is entirely due the
100 THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM.
knowledge we have gained of the chemical powers
of the sunbeam. The old alchemists, indeed, were
acquainted with the isolated fact that a white sub-
stance called Jiorn silver was blackened by exposure
to the sun's rays, but it never struck them to inves-
tigate the cause of this curious phenomenon. It
was reserved for a philosopher of modern times to
prove that no substance can be exposed to the sun's
rays without undergoing a chemical change.
The blackeningof horn silver is but a single instance
of a vast number of effects produced by that mys-
terious agent which is associated with light and heat
in the sunbeam. All bodies are influenced by actin-
ism, and undergo a chemical or molecular disturbance.
The rock and the mountain, as well as the animal
and the plant, are destructively acted upon during
the hours of sunshine, and would soon perish under
the delicate touch of the actinic 1'ays, were it not for
the counteracting influence of darkness. At night,
the chemical disturbances are undone, and inorganic
bodies as well as organized beings may be said to
The influence of actinism upon germination is
very remarkable, as seeds will not germinate in light
from which this principle is separated. But, after
the leaves are formed, a larger amount of light than
of actinism is necessary to enable the plant to sepa-
rate carbon from the atmosphere and form wood.
Again, the flowering and fruiting of a plant is more
closely connected with the heat of the sunbeam than
THE MAGIC OF THE SUNBEAM. 101
with its light or actinism. Nature has amply pro-
vided for the varying wants of plants ; in the spring
we may detect an excess of actinism in the solar
rays; in the summer an excess of light, and in the
autumn an excess of heat.
We have said that all bodies undergo a chemical
disturbance when exposed to the solar rays, but it
must not be supposed that this disturbance always
manifests itself in a blackening, as in the case of
horn silver. If a polished plate of metal, of glass,
of marble, or even a polished surface of wood, be in
part exposed to the influence of sunshine, it will,
when breathed upon, exhibit the fact that a distur-
bance of some kind has taken place upon the portions
illuminated, whereas no change can be detected upon
the parts kept in the dark. But if we expose a
chemically prepared tablet to the sunbeams in a
similar manner, we may by a certain process render
the effect produced on its surface permanent, and
thus as it were fix a shadow.
The beautiful art of photography, or light-draw-
ing, is based upon this marvellous fact. Everybody
is familiar with the grand results of this art. Every-
body has seen those wondrous pictures which neither
pencil, brush, nor hand has touched, but which have
been delicately traced by the magic sunbeam. We
have ceased to look upon these pictures with asto-
nishment, just as we have ceased to wonder at the
locomotive, the electric telegraph, and the steam-
ship. But in times gone by, had any one asserted
102 THE MAGIC OP THE SUNBEAM.
that he could compel the sunbeams to paint a por-
trait, he would in all probability have been burned
as a wizard ; indeed, not many years ago a gentle-
man was thought to be disordered in his intellect,
because he deemed it possible to fix the fleeting pic-
tures seen in the camera obscura.
We cannot enter fui'ther into the Magic of the
Sunbeam without leading our readers into the mystic
regions of mathematics. We have already said that
the subject is an inexhaustible one, and we are more
convinced of this than ever when we find what a
comparatively small number of facts relating to the
wonderful band of forces called* the sunbeam, we
have been able to set before the reader. But though
so much is known about the sunbeam, how much
still remains obscure ! It is only lately that the
existence of the mighty principle of actinism has
been revealed ; and who can tell what forces may
still be hidden in the beam what unknown powers
may yet be brought to light by our laborious truth-
" Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses."
THE old proverb which, heads this chapter is sug-
gestive of many wonderful truths connected with
vision. Science has demonstrated that two eyes
are better than one, for many reasons. We require
two eyes to estimate distances, and to obtain a true
idea of the roundness, relief, and solidity of natural
objects. Those ugly one-eyed fellows who helped
Vulcan to forge the thunderbolts, must have been
clumsy workmen, in spite of what the ancient writers
say to the contrary.
Before we consider the use of two eyes, let us
examine the structure of a single organ. The eye
has often been compared with the camera obscura,
that dark box in which an image is formed of ex-
ternal objects, by means of an arrangement of glass
lenses. The eye is, indeed, a dark chamber fur-
nished with lenses, but here the likeness ceases, as
its marvellous arrangements are infinitely more
beautiful than those of any optical instrument de-
vised by the ingenuity of man.
104 TWO EYES AKE BETTER THAN ONE.
The human eyeball is a globular mass, somewhat
flattened in front, and about the size of a walnut.
The white part surrounding the centre is called the
sclerotic coat, deriving its name from a Greek word
expressive of hardness. This white coat is continued
round the back of the eyeball, and forms a sort of
strong bag for containing the other parts of the
eye. As it is perfectly opaque, it is not continued
over the front of the eye, but joins the beautiful
transparent membrane called the cornea, or horny
coat, which bulges forward a little, and forms that
wonderful bow- window through which the rays of
light pass to the brain. Within or behind the
cornea may be perceived the iris, a sort of coloured
fringe which assumes different hues in different
eyes, being dark brown, blue, hazel, or grey, and, in
exceptional cases, red. When we speak of blue eyes
or hazel eyes, we refer to the colour of this remark-
able fringe or curtain. In the centre of the eye,
surrounded by the iris, is a dark circular space of
variable dimensions, called the pupil, which is in
fact the opening through which light passes into
the dark chamber of the eye.
The internal structure of this wonderful organ is
very complicated. The hard white membrane is
lined by a coat called the clwroid, which is covered
on the inside with a perfectly black pigment, and
this again with a delicate network of nerves called
the retina. The cavity surrounded by these coats
is filled by three substances, called humours. Be-
TWO EYES ARE BETTER THAN ONE. 105
hind the cornea or bow-window is the aqueous
humour, a perfectly limpid liquid resembling water ;
the second in situation is the crystalline humour,
which is a little capsule of transparent membrane,
holding a small quantity of fluid ; and the third,
termed the vitreous humour, is a transparent jelly
which fills the inner chamber of the eye, and con-
tributes chiefly to preserve the globular figure of
Each eye is placed in a basin-shaped cavity in the
skull, called the orbit, and there are various muscles
attached to different parts of the orbit, which by
their contraction give a lateral or rolling motion to
the eyeball, and thus assist in directing the sight
towards particular objects. Eyelids, also moved by
muscles, and fringed by the eyelashes, serve to guard
the eyes from dust, and to screen them from the
access of too intense a light.
So much for the anatomy of the eye j let us now
consider its functions. As already observed, the
eye may be compared to a camera obscura, for the rays
of light from any object entering the pupil form an
image on the retina, just as the picture is painted
on the ground glass of the camera. The various
humours of the eye form a wonderful compound lens,
far excelling the achromatic lenses of the opticians.
The seat of vision is generally supposed to be the
retina, though some philosophers regard the choroid
coat as the sensitive tablet upon which the impres-
sion is made. We may trace the phenomena of
106 TWO EYES ARE BETTER THAN ONE.
vision up to this point, but no further. We know
that a distinct image is formed upon one or other of
the delicate coats of the eye, but the mariner in
which the sensation is conveyed to the brain is an
inscrutable mystery. " It is the boast of science,"
says Herschel, " to have been able to trace so far
the refined contrivances of this most admirable
organ, not its shame to find something still con-
cealed from scrutiny ; for, however anatomists may
differ on points of structure, or physiologists dispute
on modes of action, there is that in what we do
understand of the formation of the eye so similar,
and yet so infinitely superior to a product of human
ingenuity; such thought, such care, such refinement,
such advantage taken of the properties of natural
agents, used as mere instruments for accomplishing
a given end, as force upon us a conviction of delibe-
rate choice and premeditated design, more strongly,
perhaps, than any single contrivance to be found,
whether in art or nature, and renders its study an
object of the greatest interest."
The Cyclops had each a single eye stuck in the
centre of the forehead, but we are provided with a
pair of these matchless instruments. Each eye re-
ceives an impression of an object, nevertheless we
do not see the object double. So long as each image
falls exactly on the same part of each sensitive sur-
face, the mind will perceive but one object, and the
muscles which move the eyes act in such perfect
unison that this result is constantly attained.
TWO EYES ARE BETTER THAX ONE. 107
If we look at a candle placed at a distance of
about ten feet, we see it distinctly as one object,
because our eyes are so adjusted that the image of
the candle is projected on similar parts of each
retina. But if we now hold up a finger about ten
inches from the eyes, and look steadily at it, the
candle will be seen on both sides of the finger. The
eyes are now adjusted to the finger, and the image
of the candle no longer falls on the same parts of
the two retinae. Again, if the eyes be directed to
the light, the finger will be seen double, because the
optic axes are now adjusted to perceive objects at a
distance of ten feet. Similar effects may be pro-
duced by pressing one eyeball with the finger so as
to displace its optical axis, or by getting intoxicated,
an experiment which we trust our readers will never
We make use of our two eyes as a pair of com-
passes to measure distances, for we involuntarily
associate the idea of smallness with the convergence
of the visual axis, and that of vastness with its
divergence. We feel that an object is near or re-
mote, small or large, by opening and shutting our
magic compasses, the legs of which are imaginary
lines passing through the eyeballs. A person
suddenly deprived of one eye estimates the dis-
tance of objects with the greatest difficulty ; but
after some time, experience teaches the one eye to
measure distance by the change of focus alone.
Let the reader close one eye, and try to snuff a
108 TWO EYES ARE BETTER THAN ONE.
candle, he will then see the import of the old pro-
verb, " Two eyes are better than one."
We have said that two eyes are reqxiired in order
to form a true conception of solidity ; this point we
now proceed to consider. If the reader will look at
any near object, a book placed on end, for instance,
he will at once perceive that it is a real book and
not a picture of one ; he will see that it has a cer-
tain relief; that one portion of it is nearer to him
than another ; in a word, that it is solid. Now, by
closing each eye in turn, the reader will find that
one eye will see round one side of the object, and
the other round the other side, two different impres-
sions being obtained. Every solid object, therefore,
is seen differently by the two eyes, and it has been
found that the effect of solidity is produced by the
combination of these different impressions in the
mind. Two eyes are better than one, not merely
because they give symmetry to the face, but because
they act together in producing on the inner or
mental eye, a perfect and instantaneous impression
of the form and position of objects.
This important truth has been revealed by the
beautiful and well-known instrument called the
stereoscope, which, however, is much better known
than understood. Some account of this magic in-
strument certainly merits a place amongst the fairy
tales of science.
The stereoscope, in its most popular form, is sim-
ply a small wooden box, furnished with two lenses,
TWO EYES ARE BETTER THAN ONE. 109
like an opera-glass. A double picture, say a photo-
graph of a statue, is placed at the bottom of the
box, and viewed with both eyes, by means of the
lenses. The effect is truly marvellous, for the de-
sign immediately appears in relief the picture
becomes a piece of sculpture ! This illusion is so
perfect, and the means by which it is produced so
simple, that we cannot wonder at the popularity
which the stereoscope has so rapidly attained.
The term stereoscope is derived from two words
in the Greek language, the first signifying a solid
body, and the latter vision; it may therefore be
freely translated as "that which shows every object
in relief." Our readers will admit that the name is
a good one, and perfectly descriptive of the powers
of the instrument.
Let us now consider how the wonderful illusions
of the stereoscope are effected. We shall not require
diagrams to make our meaning clear, since every
one must be familiar with the construction of the
The two pieces of glass that are placed in the
front of the stereoscope are wedge-shaped, that is
to say, their outer edges are a little thicker than
their inner edges. These glasses act like prisms,
and by bending the rays of light that proceed from
the double picture, they cause the two halves to
combine, and appear as a single picture occupying a
central position between the eyes. Two distinct
images are thus formed in the eyes, but in conse-
110 TWO EYES ARE BETTER THAN ONE.
quence of the bending of the rays of light, they are
projected upon similar parts of the two retinae, and
seem to be produced by a single object. Whether
the two impressions are made by the double picture
or by a single solid, the same sensation is produced,
as in either case the mind combines the two impres-
sions into the idea of solidity. The stereoscope,
therefore, enables us to give a true notion of the
form and position of objects from two flat represen-
tations on paper or glass ; in fact, we may see the
objects quite as well as if they stood before us.
Although the stereoscope was discovered some
twenty years ago, it has only lately become popular.
So long as mere drawings by hand were used as
stereoscopic slides, only regular bodies, such as
crystals and geometric solids, could be represented ;
but now, by the aid of photography, we may obtain
pictures of any natural or artistic objects.
When we look at a double photograph in the
stereoscope, the picture to the right is seen by the
right eye only, and that to the left, by the left eye.
The two pictures are taken from different points of
view, and are exactly similar to the views we obtain
of solid objects, by alternately closing the right and
left eyes. There is, therefore, no longer any doubt
as to the use of two eyes, since by the aid of photo-
graphy we may obtain pictures similar to those
which the eyes receive, and these pictures combine
to produce the effect of solidity.
We are indebted to Professor Wheatstone for the
TWO EYES ARE BETTER THAN ONE. Ill
discovery of the stereoscope, a discovery which
Herschel has truly characterized as " one of the most
curious and beautiful for its simplicity in the entire
range of experimental optics." The original form of
the instrument has been considerably modified by
Sir David Brewster, who may indeed be regarded as
the inventor of the refracting or popular stereoscope.
We will not attempt to describe the innumerable
family groups, landscapes, portraits, and Alpine
views, that photography has furnished for the stereo-
scope. Our readers are doubtless familiar with
them, as the stereoscope has become quite a fashion-
able instrument, and has taken the place of the
album upon almost every drawing-room table.
Two eyes are unquestionably better than one,
nevertheless persons with but one eye are able to
see distinctly. This fact does not refute what we
have said about double vision. A person with one
eye judges of the relief of an object from the distri-
bution of light and shade, but his perceptions are
much less vivid than those of a person with two eyes.
It has, moreover, been remarked that a one-eyed
person when looking at a solid object is constantly
changing the position of the head from side to side,
and by this means he obtains with one eye the same
result that is obtained by two eyes with the head
Our readers will now understand why they have
two eyes instead of one, and will be able to expound
the mysteries of that magic spy-glass, the stereoscope.
' ' Oh, what an endless work have I in hand,
To count the sea's abundant progeny !" SPENSER.
FORTUNATE youth! What would we not give for a
glimpse of a live mermaid, especially if she hap-
pened to be as beautiful as the submarine lady
portrayed by our artist ! We do not wonder to see
you peering over the rocks so earnestly, but we
entreat you to be careful, lest you tumble into the
water. The belle of the sea is prettily dressed in
her robe of sea- weed, and the star-fish on her fore-
head is a most becoming ornament. But how would
you look in the sea with your clean blouse and
collar all wet and limp, with your trousers shrank
up to your knees, and your boots full of water?
Held tight to the rock then, inquisitive youth,
for we fear you would look a pitiable object as a
Would the reader like to take a peep at the home
of the mermaid 1 If so, let him follow us in imagi-
nation to the bottom of the sea. We cannot pro-
mise him a sight of the mermaid herself, but we
114 THE MERMAID'S HOME.
can show him some of the inhabitants of the deep
that are scarcely less wonderful. Candidly speak-
ing, we do not believe in the existence of the fair
lady with the fishy tail; but for the sake of our
fairy tale, we will assume that she does exist, but
is so excessively shy that she makes a point of con-
cealing herself at the approach of strangers.
The mermaid's home is beneath the wave, but we
must not suppose that it is situated at an unfathom-
able depth in the ocean. The lady is far too fond
of life and light to reside in a region beyond the
reach of the genial influence of the sunbeam. De-
pend upon it, she has selected some quiet bay,
guarded by impassable rocks, for her habitation a
bay whose waters are not too deep nor yet too
Here is just such a bay as a mermaid might
choose as a safe abode. Look how snugly the
rocks shut it in on either side : a sea-nymph might
pass her days here without fear of molestation. Let
us walk to the end of yonder jutting rock. ~Now,
if you wish to visit the mermaid's home, prepare for
a dive, so one, two, three and in you go head
We are now safe on land ; not on dry land, be it
understood, but on the floor of the sea, with a good
many feet of water overhead. We have ceased to
be human beings subject to death by drowning, and
have become the heroes of a fairy tale whom the
elements cannot harm.
THE MERMAID'S HOME. 115
Looking around, we perceive a host of wonders.
We are in a new world, whose plants and animals
have no resemblance to those of the world we have
just quitted. Dense forests of many-coloured algoe
are outspread before us ; uncouth creatures crawl at
our feet, and fairy-like forms flit around us.
If we wish to obtain a correct impression of these
submarine wonders, we must examine them sepa-
rately in regular order. We will therefore confine
our attention at present to the beautiful herbs
that grow in the mermaid's garden, and the minia-
ture trees of her parks and forests.
This lovely group of algee, misnamed weeds, will
afford us ample types of marine vegetation. One of
these plants has broad leaves of a beautiful emerald-
green, as thin as the finest cambric, and strangely
puckered and folded at their edges.* The mermaid
doubtless makes use of these delicate leaves in place
of silk or muslin, unless indeed she eats them as a
salad. Beside this flimsy plant we see a cluster of
crimson leaves, some five or six inches long, and of
a most graceful form.t The mermaid must take
some pains to cultivate this herb, as its gorgeous
colouring renders it a striking feature in her garden.
Here is a tuft of what seems to be fine grass; here
a group of rosy leaves; and here a tiny tree of
a beautiful purple hue.
In this little parterre we may find all the colours
of the rainbow, and a wonderful variety of forms;
* Green Laver or Ulva. t Delesseria
116 THE MERMAID'S HOME.
some of the plants are cut into fringes, some are
spread out like fans ; and others are divided into as
many segments as are the graceful ferns of our
woods. None of the marine plants in this group
bear flowers, but nature has given them such bril-
liant hues that this fact might easily have escaped
Let us now glance at some of the mermaid's
subjects, assuming the invisible lady to be the queen
of these submarine realms.
Among the "happy living things" of the sea, the
fishes occupy the foremost rank, but we cannot
bestow much time upon them, as we have to examine
many less familiar creatures. But here comes one
little fish whose strongly marked peculiarities at
once attract our attention. His body is of a pale
brown colour, with drab clouds, and patches of white
specks. He looks a terrible fellow, in spite of his
mild eyes, which are light blue, and closely resemble
turquoises.* Now he hides beneath a broad frond
of sea- weed, but we can see his wicked face project-
ing from the covert. We will watch this gentleman
closely, as we half suspect that there is some mis-
chief brewing. Another fish now appears upon tt*e
scene, a gentle and an unsuspicious fish to judge from
his expression, a fish who would not hurt a fly
unless he happened to be hungry. Now this simple-
minded creature approaches the place where he with
the turquoise eyes waits in ambush. Assassin-like,
* The Black Goby.
THE MERMAID'S HOME. 117
the blue-eyed monster darts from his hiding-place,
seizes his victim by the tail, and swallows him alive !
Just look at the cannibal now ; his distended body
has become almost black, and bears witness to the
blackness of his crime ! How can the mermaid
tolerate such a subject in her dominions !
As we stand on the sea-floor, the fishes that dart
through the pale green atmosphere of water seem
to be birds. That shoal overhead looks very like a
flight of swallows; and these restless little fishes,
who are perpetually quarrelling and chasing each
other, remind us forcibly of sparrows. What grace
and symmetry belong to the forms of these finny
inhabitants of the deep, and what exquisite hues
gleam from their resplendent coats of mail !
See, here come emissaries from the Court of
Oberoii ! No, they are merely shrimps and prawns,
though their transparency and lightness, their
graceful gliding movements, and the long and
slender wands they wave, entitle them to be consi-
dered the fairies of the sea. Those who are only
familiar with these creatures in their boiled condi-
tion, can form no adequate conception of their ap-
pearance during life. In the mermaid's garden
these fairy-like beings take the place of moths and
Look at this little fellow, who moves about by
discharging jets of water from a small tube or
siphon a mode of progression not uncommon
among marine organisms. He hovers over a clear
118 THE MERMAID'S HOME.
patch of sand, as though about to settle, while by
means of his magic siphon he blows the sand from
under him until a slight hollow is formed. Now he
settles, but it is quite evident that his siphon is still
at work, for the sand issues from all sides of his
globiilar body in a little cloud, and he gradually
sinks till nothing can be seen of him save his strag-
gling arms and curious eyes. The mermaid has
many expert miners in her service, but none to
excel this cunning little well-sinker.*
These submarine regions are thickly populated
by wondrous beings so transparent that they can
only be distinguished by the flashes of light that
gleam from their surfaces. Their substance is gela-
tinous, and, strange as it may appear, consists chiefly
of sea- water. Let us now examine a few of these
living bubbles with the superior powers of vision
which we possess as heroes of a fairy tale.
How can we doubt the existence of mermaids,
when we find animals assuming the forms of
umbrellas, goblets, and bells ! Look ! here comes a
living umbrella, moving through the water by open-
ing and shutting itself. Now, readeYjs^t flaps itself
under your very nose, and you may inspect it nar-
rowly. You will perceive, that it is rather an un-
common sort of umbrella, as it has four sticks
instead of one, and is furnished with a number of
tendril-like appendages. You will also see that it
is neither made of silk nor gingham, but of a deli-
* The Cuttle.
THE MERMAID'S HOME. 119
cate transparent jelly.* This living umbrella may
be taken as a type of the numerous gelatinous
parachutes, bells, vases, and cups that glide through
But here is a little object which deserves a sepa-
rate notice, for it bears no outward resemblance to
the bell-shaped creatures, though closely related to
them. It is not easy to distinguish the form of this
living lump of jelly. Now you may see it, though,
if you look closely as the light just catches its sur-
face. See, it is a little egg-shaped ball of crystal,
marked with longitudinal bands of the prismatic
colours. Two long threads, that look like spun
glass, may be seen depending from its exterior, and
these threads, if examined attentively, will be found
to be fringed with yet finer threads or tendrils.
Now this creature vanishes, and we are left to
wonder how so much beauty could be compressed
into so small a compass !f
Many of these gelatinous little creatures, which
have been learnedly named Acalephce, are phospho-
rescent, and at night they cause the sea to assume
the appearance of liquid fire. How beautiful must
be the mermaid's home, when illuminated by myriads
of these living lamps !
Suppose we now take a peep at some of the
creatures that dwell in the crannies of these jagged
rocks and wander through these miniature forests.
We shall find them to be quite as remarkable
* Pelagia. f Cydippe.
120 THE MERMAID'S HOME.
as the free-swimming inhabitants of these submarine
regions. The members of the great crab family
are very conspicuous objects. They scuttle about in
all directions, and their little bony eyes squint at
us from out of every cranny. There goes a monster
belonging to the edible species take care of his
formidable nippers, or perhaps you will have cause
to repent your visit to the home of the mermaid.
Now he passes edgewise through a narrow chink in
the rocks, and so disappears. We are not sorry to
be rid of such an ugly customer.
Look at that funny little fellow sitting on that
large stone. He is a crab with some points that
suggest the notion of a lobster fringed swimming
plates on the last joint of the body, large foot-jaws,
and very long feelers. Now he jumps off the stone,
and by flapping his tail, swims just enough to
enable himself to reach the sandy bottom slantwise,
instead of going straight down like some of his
clumsier brethren. He now crawls about the sea-
floor, evidently in search ofsomething, and now he
disappears beneath a loose stohe. He does not want
much space, for he is as flat and thin as if he had
been trodden upon.
The naturalist has brought to light some strange
facts illustrative of the domestic economy of this
little crab. He usually clings to the under side of
some flat stone or ledge of rock, and takes in the food
that is brought to his door. His long feelers are
constantly groping about for provender, which he
THE MERMAID'S HOME. 121
fishes in with his outer foot-jaws. Each of these
jaws is like a sickle, composed of five joints beset
with parallel bristles. When the jaw is straight-
ened, the bristles stand apart and let the water
flow freely between them ; when the joints are
bent to a curve, the bristles overlap and form a net
or hair spoon. This net is the more perfect because
each bristle itself is feathered with two rows of
hair. After a haul, the little fisherman picks what
he likes to eat out of his net, and casts again. He
throws his net out, with the claws extended, and
the meshes consequently open, so that all rejected
particles are washed away ; then he again makes for
himself a spoon wherewith to pick up victuals.
In addition to his nippers this crab has four
pairs of legs ; but only three pairs are at first
sight visible. The fourth is a very tiny pair,
folded down in a groove beneath the edges of the
shell. Each of these little legs has at the end a
pair of fingers and a little brush of hairs. With
the two brushes it scrubs and cleanses its whole
body, and with the two pairs of fingers each being
more properly comparable to a finger and thumb
it picks off any dirt that cannot be removed by
But who is that long-legged little gentleman with
the crusty and prickly body? He is another mem-
ber of the prolific crab family, and is perhaps one
of the most valuable servants in the mermaid's em-
* The Porcelain Crab.
122 THE MERMAID'S HOME.
ploy. He fulfils the important duties of a sca-
venger, and takes care that no decaying vegetable
or animal matter shall remain long enough to be
prejudicial to the purity of the sea. Instead of
carting away the offal, this extraordinary little
fellow crams it into his stomach, and appears to
think it peculiarly palatable.*
Look at those shells that are moving about so
clumsily among the pebbles. They are the habita-
tions of the soft-tailed crabs, who being unprovided
with defensive armour are forced to seek shelter in the
empty shells of different mollusca. There is a toler-
ably large specimen of these creatures inhabiting a
whelk-shell. Look how awkwardly his claws, legs,
and feelers loll out of the mouth of the shell ; you
would almost think that such a strange bunch of
limbs wouldbe utterly useless to the imprisoned crea-
ture. Here comes another, dragging a still larger
shell after him, so prepare to witness a battle, for
these creatures are terribly pugnacious. Now they
meet, andNa^gin to fight in earnest, tossing their
legs and claws about in a most excited manner.
Look how clumsily they tumble over each other, and
you must confess that a more comical duel never
took place either above or below the wave. But see,
the larger crab appears to have got the worst of the
fight, for he is scrambling off as fast as his legs can
carry him. These humorous creatures must afford
the mermaid considerable amusement, indeed, it is
* The Spider Crab.
THE MERMAID'S HOME. 123
highly probable that they are the jesters of her
So many strange forms meet our vision in these
submarine realms, that we are puzzled as to which
we ought to select for examination. Look at all
these richly-coloured and gracefully-formed shells ;
each has its peculiar tenant, about which many won-
derful things might be related. The shells, though
beautiful themselves, are not to be compared with
some of their inhabitants. Look at that periwinkle,
for instance, who is now devouring the tender
shoots of that plant, you must own that his zebra
stripes and netted markings are exceedingly orna-
mental. But the periwinkle is not nearly so attrac-
tive as some of the fleshy creatures that may be
seen protruding from their shells, and which have
the richest hues imaginable.
Again, just glance at those sea-si ugs.f How can
we describe their various forms and colours ? Here
is one of a bright lemon colour, with a beautiful
plume of feathers springing from his back ; here
another of a pearly white, wearing numerous club-
like ornaments ; and here a third, of a dingy grey,
but furnished with a pretty little bouquet of flowers.
The reader will perhaps be surprised when we tell
him that these plumes, and clubs, and flowers enable
the sea-slugs to breathe ; yet such is the fact, for
all these ornamental appendages perform the same
functions as our lungs.
* The Hermit Crabs. t The Nudibranch Mollusca.
124 THE MERMAID'S HOME.
Here is a curious creature, closely resembling
those we have just examined, in form and substance,
but belonging to a totally different class of beings.
It looks like a milk-white slug, but if we inspect it
carefully, we shall find that it is provided with five
rows of delicate sucking arms, by means of which
it clings firmly to the surface of the rock. It also
has a chocolate-coloured head, tipped with a ring of
feathery gills of white and primrose. Those natu-
ralists who have studied the habits of marine crea-
tures, inform us that this white slug will throw
away its inside when irritated, the body remaining
but an empty sac ; yet in a month or so the
creature will begin to eat as greedily as ever, a
fresh set of digestive organs having grown in the
Our artist has furnished his mermaid with a couple
of star-shaped ornaments, and here we may see
plenty of similar stars in motion. Whether we
regard their symmetrical forms or their brilliant
hues, we must admit these living stars to be the
most remarkable inhabitants of these realms of
wonder. Even this dtisky red onet possesses great
beauty, though its flaming relatives throw it into
the shade. You see it has five broad rays, but you
must not suppose that these rays fulfil the office of
legs, for the creature's legs, if so we may call them,
are thousands of tiny suckers, protruding through
* The Holothuria. f Five-finger Star.
THE MERMAID'S HOME. 125
holes in its under surface. Another member of the
starry family may be seen clinging to the smooth
surface of yonder rock, a twelve-rayed sun of the
richest scarlet.* Here is another, a pentagonal
disc of scarlet and orange ;t and here again another,
a little flower-like disc with five long prickly arms
that move about in a graceful serpentine manner. :
The last-named creature is extremely sensitive to*
insult, and were you to handle him too roughly, he
would probably commit deliberate suicide by break-
ing himself into little bits.
But how did that little hedgehog find his way
hither? Examine him closely, and you will see
that he is not an ordinary hedgehog. He is cer-
tainly covered over with prickles, but these instead
of being of a dark brown are of a pretty violet
colour. Again, his form is much more regular than
that of his terrestrial namesake, and he has neither
head nor legs. He is a distant relative of the living
stars, though you would hardly think so, judging
from his external appearance.
Look at these stony tubes twisted so curiously
into a tangled group. These are the habitations of
some of the mermaid's subjects. See! from the
mouth of one of these tubes a conical stopper of a
bright scarlet colour emerges, and now a row of
feathery objects which slowly spread themselves out
* Sun- star. t Bird's-foot Star. Brittle-star.
$ Echinus, or Sea-urchin.
126 THE MERMAID'S HOME.
into an elegant scarlet plume. Now another little
stopper makes its appearance; another and another ;
and now each tube is crowned with its lovely tuft
of feathers. Presto ! they have disappeared, plumes
and stoppers vanished like magic as a large fish
passed over them.*
This rock is studded over with tiny conical shells,
each of which contains a living creature, quite as
wonderful as the tube-inhabiting worm. If you
make good use of your " microscopic eye," you will
see that each little shell opens at the tip, and that a
delicate white feathery object is alternately pro-
truded and withdrawn through the aperture. This
tiny white feather is a veritable casting net, and
every time it is spread out it catches some invisible
particles of food.t
We have glanced at a few of the Mermaid's sub-
jects, to count them all would indeed be '' an end-
less task." In another chapter we shall describe at
length some of the marvellous flowers that bloom
in these submarine regions. Would that we could
introduce the reader to the mermaid herself, but we
sadly fear that she will never figure in the fairy
tales of science. We are rather inclined to think
that she ceased to exist with the dragons and griffins
of that marvellous age known as "once upon a time."
But perhaps she does exist after all, and only keeps
out of the way of the naturalist, for fear he should
* Serpulse. t Balanus, or Acorn-shell.
THE MERMAID'S HOME. 127
bestow upon her some hard Latin name. However
this may be, it is quite certain that the naturalist
has never caught a glipse of this mysterious being,
though he has discovered many objects in the sea
quite as extraordinary. And now, reader, we will
once more become air-breathers, and bid farewell
to the Mermaid's Home.
" Here, too, were living flowers,
Which, like a bud compacted,
Their purple cups contracted ;
And now in open blossom spread,
Stretch 'd, like green anthers, many a seeking head."
THE flowers of the sea far surpass those of the land
in splendid and gorgeous colouring. In the " gardens
of N"ereus" there are anemones of the richest crim-
son, purple, and orange; chrysanthemums, beauti-
fully striped and variegated ; carnations, whose petals
are exquisitely cut and fringed ; and dahlias, so per-
fect in form that they could not fail to win the
admiration of enthusiastic flower-fanciers.
But these flowers are not only beautiful. Nature
has endowed them with wonderful powers. They
fold and expand their petals at will; some of them
can move from place to place; and others are so
peculiarly sensitive, that the slightest touch will
cause them to shrink into shapeless lumps of jelly.
What are these extraordinary beings? Are they
plants or animals, or do they stand upon some de-
bateable ground between the two great kingdoms of
130 ANIMATED FLOWERS.
organic nature? In ancient times they were doubt-
less regarded as sea-nymphs metamorphosed into
flowers ; but we fear that this opinion would have
little weight in the present age of science. Expound
the riddle, good naturalist, and tell us all about
these animated flowers !
Well, to put an end to the reader's suspense, we
will at once inform him that these magic flowers are
true animals. Nor will this statement surprise him,
since he has already seen what marvellous forms
may be endowed with animal life. He has seen
living plumes, living stars, and living umbrellas, all
of which are quite as wonderful as these living
The sea-anemones are by far the most conspicuous
of the wild-flowers of the deep, and we will there-
fore give them the precedence in our examination.
If we wander about the sea-beach at low tide, we
may find plenty of these creatures attached to the
rocks and stones left bare by the receding waves.
The commonest are those known as the smooth
anemones,* which seem, when out of the water, to
be mere knobs of jelly. On touching them you find
that they are tough and leathery, though you would
never have imagined so from their appearance.
These little knobs are variously coloured, but diffe-
rent shades of green and red are their prevailing
When the sea comes up and covers the anemones
* Actinia Mesembryanthemum.
ANIMATED FLOWERS. 131
they assume the most lovely shapes. Each lump of
jelly expands into a beautiful flower, having some-
what the form of a chrysanthemum, but a far more
brilliant colour. When fully expanded, each flower
displays a ring of turquoise beads, whose pure blue
forms a beautiful contrast to the crimson, purple,
and orange tints of the petals.
These jewelled flowers are not to be compared
with their aristocratic relations, the thick-horned
anemones.* Words can convey no idea of the
beauty of these creatures. They are much larger
than the last species, and some of them, when ex-
panded, are five or six inches across. Their petals,
which are very thick in proportion to their length,
are delicately transparent, and prettily striped and
ringed with various brilliant colours. These ani-
mated flowers have been well likened to quilled
dahlias; but to complete the simile, we must sup-
pose that the terrestrial flowers have petals of
The daisy -anemone f is another beautiful species.
They may be found in abundance upon some coasts,
in the tide-pools and hollows. In the sunshine of
a fair day they expand beautifully, and you may see
them studding the face of the rock just beneath the
surface of the water, from the size of a shilling to
that of a crown-piece. If you touch one of these
sensitive daisies, its circular disc will at once begin
to curl and pucker at its margin, and soon take the
* Bunodes Crassicornis. t Actinia Bellis.
132 ANIMATED FLOWERS.
form of a cup; if further annoyed, the rim of this
cup will contract more and more, until it closes.
The diameter of the disc is nearly four times that
of the body at the point from which it expands.
The petals are very small, but numerous, and are
ai'ranged on the disc in about six rows. As for
colouring, the daisy is not surpassed by any flower
of the deep; for though its tints are less brilliant
than those of the living chrysanthemums and
dahlias, they are so beautifully blended one into
another, that they cause the little creature to
appear quite as lovely as its flaring cousins. The
upper surface of the disc is of a rich umber brown,
merging into lavender-colour towards the edge ; the
petals brown, blotched and speckled with white,
and the base white, passing into pink, then lilac,
and becoming purple as it joins the disc.
But of all the flowers that bloom in the sea, per-
haps the plumose anemone* is the most magnificent.
It is much taller than any of the creatures we have
described, and excels them in delicacy of colouring ;
pure white, pearly grey, or faint rose, taking the
place of scarlet, olive, or brown. It is, indeed, a
creature of sxirpassing loveliness, and has justly
been styled the maiden queen of all the beautiful
The sea-anemones are terribly voracious, devour-
ing everything that comes within their reach. We
are not romancing, dear reader, these flowers of the
* Actinia Dianthus.
ANIMATED FLOWERS. 133
sea have wonderful appetites, and are endowed with
digestive powers that the human gourmand might
well covet. If we examine the internal structure
of these anomalous beings, we shall be able to ac-
count for their voracity.
A sea-anemone may be likened to a double bag ;
the outer bag forming the exterior of the animal,
and the inner one its stomach ; the intervening
space being divided into numerous chambers, by
vertical partitions, which pass ill a radiating direc-
tion between the outer surface of the stomach and
the general integument. The arms or tentacles of
the anemone, which we have hitherto spoken of as
petals, are hollow, and communicate with the in-
ternal chambers. These chambers are always filled
with water, and by the contraction of the walls,
water is forced into the hollow tentacles. The ten-
tacles are also provided with small orifices at the
extremity, that can be opened or closed by the
animal. Water is taken in by these orifices, so as
to distend the radiating chambers and tentacles, and
is ejected with considerable violence through the
same apertures whenever the creature is alarmed.
The tentacles are placed in rows round the mouth,
which is usually circular or oval.
Although the anemone is a mere membranous
bag distended with sea-water, it is endowed with
powers that render it more than a match for many
animals occupying a much higher position in the
scale of being. No sooner does a small fish, a crab,
134 ANIMATED FLOWERS.
or a shelled mollusk come within reach of its ten-
tacles, than it is seized by them, and drawn to the
gaping mouth of the greedy flower, the tentacles
closing upon it on all sides. After awhile the ten-
tacles again expand, and an empty crust or shell is
ejected through the mouth, the nourishing contents
having been mysteriously extracted in the stomach
of the anemone.
And now, abstemious reader, can you wonder at
the voracity of these strange creatures ? If you
had a stomach of proportional capacity, a mouth
equally extensive, and a hundred arms constantly
picking up dainties, depend upon it you would be
quite as voracious !
The anemone attaches itself to the rock by means
of a sucking base, but it seldom remains long in the
same place. In travelling it pushes forward one
poi-tion of the base, and having fixed it firmly,
draws the remaining portion after it, a mode of
progression very similar to that adopted by the
snail. There are many more wonderful things con-
nected with the sea-anemones which we cannot stop
to consider, as we must now pass on to another
kind of living flower.
The madrepore* is allied to the anemones, but
differs from them in many important points. This
beautiful little flower of the sea has a stony skele-
ton, consisting of a number of thin chalky plates
standing up edgewise, and arranged in a radiating
* Caryophyllia Smithii.
ANIMATED FLOWERS. 135
manner round a low centre. We have informed
the reader that the interior of an anemone is
divided into numerous chambers by perpendicular
veils of membrane. If he will now imagine that
every one of these membranes is turned into stone,
he will understand the formation of the madrepore's
skeleton, and its relation to the soft investing flesh.
Mr. Gosse, the naturalist, to whom we are in-
debted for many striking facts relating to the beau-
tiful inhabitants of the sea, has given a charming
description of the living madrepore in one of his
pleasant books. " Let it," he says, " after being
torn from the rock, recover its equanimity ; then
you will see a pellucid gelatinous flesh emerging
from between the plates, and little exquisitely
formed and coloured tentacles, with white clubbed
tips fringing the sides of the cup-shaped cavity in
the centre, across which stretches the oval disc,
marked with a star of some rich and brilliant
colour, surrounding the central mouth, a slit with
white crenated lips, like the orifice of one of those
elegant cowry-shells which we put upon our mantle-
pieces. The mouth is always more or less promi-
nent, and can be protruded and expanded to an
astonishing extent. The space surrounding the lips
is commonly fawn-colour or rich chesnut brown ;
the star, or vandyked circle, rich red, pale vermilion,
and sometimes the most brilliant emerald green, as
brilliant as the gorget of a humming-bird."
The madrepores are quite as greedy as their
136 ANIMATED FLOWERS.
wandering friends the anemones, and the presence
of food stimulates them to more active efforts and
the display of greater intelligence than we should
give them credit for. Mr. Gosse relates a very
amusing anecdote about feeding a madrepore. He
once put a minute spider, as large as a pin's head,
into the water, pushing it down with a bit of grass
to a coral, which was lying with partially exposed
tentacles. The instant the insect touched the tip
of the tentacle it adhered, and was drawn in with
the surrounding tentacles between the plates, near
their inward margin. Watching the animal with
a lens, he saw the small mouth slowly open, and
move over to that side, the lips gaping unsymme-
trically ; while at the same time, by a movement as
imperceptible as that of the hour-hand of a watch,
the tiny prey was carried along between the plates
towards the corner of the mouth. The latter, how-
evei', moved most, and at length reached the edges
of the plates, and gradually took in and closed upon
the insect ; after which it slowly returned to its
usual place in the centre of the disc. After some
quarter of an hour Mr. Gosse caught a house-fly,
and taking hold of its wings with a pair of pliers,
plunged it under water. The tentacles held it at
the first contact as before, and drew it down upon
the mouth, which instantly began to gape in expec-
tation. But the struggles of the fly's legs perhaps
tickled the coral's tentacles in an unwonted man-
ner, for they shrank away, and presently released
ANIMATED FLOWERS. 137
the intended victim, which rose to the surface like
a cork ; only, however, to become the breakfast of
an expectant daisy, which was much too wise to
reject or let slip so dainty a prey. The poor coral
evidently regretted the untoward necessity of let-
ting it go, for his mouth kept gaping for some time
after the escape.*
The animated flowers of the tropical seas far sur-
pass those that bloom on our own shores. In the
Red Sea, for instance, branching corals, madrepores,
anemones of the most brilliant hues, flourish in such
luxuriance as to form a submarine garden of unpa-
ralleled magnificence. " Where is the paradise of
flowers," exclaims a German naturalist, " that can
rival in variety and beauty these living wonders of
the ocean ?"
And these gardens of Nereus, through the intro-
duction of the aquarium, may be brought into our
homes. The brilliant and sparkling hues of the
marine creatures will prove equally attractive in
the tiny vase and in the boundless ocean, the more
so as we may be fettered to bricks and mortar, shut
in our town prison, or hemmed round by stern
duties which we cannot elude ; so the deep sea may
roar a bluff greeting, but we hear it not ! Let us
consider how one of these mimic oceans may be
formed. We procure a tank of plate glass, and
cover its slate bottom with a layer of sand from
the sea-beach, or even well-washed river sand. But
* A Naturalist's Rambles on the Devonshire Coast.
138 ANIMATED FLOWERS.
perhaps the best of all materials for forming a bot-
tom are broken granite and coarse shingle. Hock-
work must now be introduced, so as to provide
shady nooks for those delicate creatures that shun
the light or are of a retiring disposition. We may
fashion the rock-work into a rude arch, or three
large pieces of stone may be built up in the form of
a table or druidical cromlech.
The aquarium having been filled with sea-water
is now ready for stocking with marine plants and
animals. The plants render the water fit for the
maintenance of animal life, while the animals check
the too rapid increase of vegetation. Thus, the
success of our aquarium will depend upon the proper
balance of animal and vegetable life. We select
the green and red weeds, as the brown and olive
are apt to discolour the water. Sea-plants have no
roots, but adhere by minute discs to the surface of
the rock ; a piece of stone has accordingly to be
knocked off with each plant, in order that it may
be removed to our glass tank.
Some days should be allowed to elapse before the
animals are introduced, so that the plants may have
time to impregnate the water with their minute
spores. Among the finny inhabitants of the mer-
maid's home the little mullets rank first, then the
blennies and gobies, but many other kinds of fish
may find a place in our mimic ocean. The common
periwinkle is essential to the aquarium, as it fulfils
the duties of a scavenger, and carefully removes the
ANIMATED FLOWERS. 139
green film that sometimes forms upon the glass.
The star-fishes, crabs, serpulse, and the prawns
are favourites with aquarian naturalists ; but the
lovely sea-anemones are the crowning glories of the
glass tank. We must carefully remove all dead
plants and animals from our aquarium. It is in*
dispensable that there should be a free access of
light, but we must not expose our tank to the full
glare of the sun's rays, or the water will become
heated, and its delicate inhabitants will surely die.
These tanks require constant attention, but their
beauty will more than repay its for any amount of
trouble. They have been beautifully described as
" flower gardens which never wither, fairy lakes of
perpetual calm, which no storm blackens."
(i There is a difference between a grub and butterfly ; yet
Your butterfly was a grub." Coriolanus.
ONCE upon a time an aged butterfly, with wings all
crumpled and torn, crawled up the stem of a willow,
and seated himself on the nearest leaf.
"My last moments are drawing near," said he, "but
I do not repine, for life has become a burden to me.
My wings are useless, my joints stiff and rheumatic,
and my antennae have long since lost their exquisite
sensibility. It is quite evident that my flying days
are over, but so much happiness has fallen to my
share, that I have no right to complain." The but-
terfly had scarcely finished this soliloquy, when a
large tiger-moth alighted on a leaf close by.
" Ah, my friend !" exclaimed the moth, " I am
truly glad to see you ; I have not many hours to live,
and I wish to make you my executor. Do not
start, my friend, I am old and decrepit, and you
shall see me meet death with becoming resigna-
The butterfly smiled sadly, and declined the
proffered executorsMp, explaining to the venerable
tiger-moth that he himself was about to die.
Now, by one of those wonderful coincidences
peculiar to fairy tales, a dragon-fly, a gnat, and two
small flies, all bowed down by weight of years,
settled in the neighbourhood of the two lepidoptera.*
After much mutual condolence, the six insects
began to quarrel about their respective adventures,
each bragging that he had seen far more wonderful
things than had any of his companions. The
dragon-fly became very much excited, and though
very feeble, he clashed his mandibles together in a
manner that filled the smaller insects with dismay.
The butterfly, who was an insect of a very superior
turn of mind, put an end to this disagreeable scene.
" My friends," he exclaimed, in a solemn voice,
" is it wise to waste the few short hours that remain
to us in vain discussion ? Would it not be more
becoming in old insects like us to sit down quietly,
and relate our adventures without quarrelling 1
Depend upon it, Nature has not formed us dif-
ferently, and endowed us with distinct faculties, for
a mere freak, but because we may be better fitted
to enjoy the sweets of life in our separate spheres.
Consider, my dear dragon, what pitiable objects you
and I would be were we to exchange wings !
How could you support your long body with my
painted wings, and how could I work your gauzy
* The order Lepidoptera, or scaly wings, includes butter-
flies and moths.
pinions with my feeble muscles 1 Instead of boast-
ing about your superior strength and prowess, you
ought to accept your gifts with a humble thankful-
ness, as you must be aware that you are 'far inferior
in point of intellect to the sober bee, or the tiny
" Do not be too hard upon me, Mr. Butterfly,"
said the great insect ; " I own myself in the wrong,
and am quite willing to adopt any suggestion you
may make with regard to the manner of passing
our last hours." The two little flies on hearing
their dreaded enemy speak so rationally, instantly
recovered their self-possession, and the gnat actually
ventured within the reach of his formidable man-
" Well, then," said the butterfly, " let each relate
his history in as few words as possible, describing
the metamorphoses he has undergone, and the won-
derful things that have fallen within the sphere of
This proposition was received with unanimous
approbation, and it was speedily determined that
the butterfly should tell the first story.
We will now lay before the reader a true report
of the conversation that ensued, adding such ex-
planatory remarks as may be necessary to make the
speeches of the insects intelligible.
" I am generally known as the cabbage-butterfly,"
said the first speaker, " and although my wings are
now in a very dilapidated condition, I think you
must admit that the dark spots upon the white
ground produce a very pretty effect. I need not
tell you that I originally came from an egg, which
my maternal parent, guided by an unerring instinct,
had deposited upon a leaf capable of affording me
proper and sufficient nourishment in my caterpillar
state. And a beautiful little egg it was, shaped like
a flask, marked with fifteen ribs, converging to-
wards the smaller end, and having a delicate yellow
" I was a very little fellow when I made my
escape from the egg, but having a tremendous appe-
tite I grew rapidly, and soon became a handsome
caterpillar. Nature had furnished me with sixteen
feet, and had dressed me in a coat of bluish grey,
having a bright yellow line down the back, and
another on each side. I am fairly shocked when
I think of my voracity, for I frequently devoured
double my own weight of cabbage in twenty-four
hours. At length, when I had attained my full size,
I felt that I was about to undergo a wonderful meta-
morphosis ; accordingly I stole away from the plant
on which I had been feeding, and found a secluded
corner where I could perform unmolested the
tedious and painful operation of wriggling out of
" Having thrown off my grey coat, and with it my
sixteen legs, I became a chrysalis* a mere mummy,
* A Greek term, signifying golden, applied to pupae on ac-
count of the golden lustre which they sometimes exhibit.
in fact, having neither limbs, eyes, nor mouth. My
second metamorphosis was even more extraordinary
than this. I broke through the mummy cloth as
a perfect insect. My wings were at first moist and
shrunken, but in an hour or so they spread out to
their full extent. I will not attempt to describe
the rapture which I experienced in my first flight
through the air. My former life seemed to be an
ugly dream ; and as I flew from flower to flower,
sipping ambrosial sweets, I could hardly realize
the fact that I had once been a crawling caterpillar,
with an insatiable craving for cabbage. The
longest life must have an end ; and you now see
me patiently awaiting death or some new meta-
morphosis of which my instinct gives me no
The reader will doubtless be astonished to hear
that the butterfly exists in the caterpillar, and has
been detected in it by expert anatomists. " In
order," says Swammerdam, "to discover plainly
that a butterfly is enclosed and hidden in the skin
of the caterpillar, the following operation must be
performed. One must kill a full-grown caterpillar,
tie a thread to its body, and dip it for a minute
or two into boiling water. The oxiter skin will,
after this, easily separate, because the fluids be-
tween the two skins are by this means rare-
fied and dilated, and therefore they break and
detach both the vessels and the fibres whei'ewith
they were united together. By this means the
outer skin of the caterpillar, being separated, may-
be easily drawn off from the butterfly which is con-
tained and folded up in it. This done, it is clearly
and distinctly seen that, within this skin of the cater-
pillar, a perfect and real bxitterfly was hidden, and
therefore the skin of the caterpillar must be con-
sidered only as an outer garment, containing in it
parts belonging to the nature of a butterfly, which
have grown under its defence by slow degrees, in
like manner as other sensitive bodies increase by
" But as theselimbs of the biitterfly which lieunder
the skin of a caterpillar cannot without great diffi-
culty be discovered, unless by a person accustomed to
such experiments because they are then very soft,
tender, and small, and are, moreover, complicated or
folded together, and enclosed in some membranous
covering it is therefore necessary to defer the
operation just now proposed until the several
parts of the butterfly become somewhat more con-
spicuous than at first, and are more increased and
swelled under the skin by the force of the intruded
blood and aqueous humour. This is known to be
the case when the caterpillar ceases to eat, and its
skin on each side of the thorax, near under the
head, is then observed to be more and more elevated
by the increasing and swelling limbs, and shows
the appearance of two pairs of prominent tubercles."
Before this beautiful discovery was made the wildest
theories were propounded to explain insect meta-
When the butterfly had finished his story, the
tiger-moth addressed his friends in the following
manner : " I fear that my history will afford you
but little interest, as I have undergone a series of
changes of precisely the same character as those
which have just been described by our friend. In
my youthful days I was quite as voracious as the
butterfly, but my favourite food was the nettle.
My body was covered with long hairs of a dark-
brown colour. This woolly coat was of immense
service to me ; for besides keeping me warm, it saved
me many a bruise by bi-eaking my fall when I tum-
bled off a leaf or branch. Before changing into a
chrysalis, I spun for myself a snug little silken
hammock, in which I might repose in peace until
my final metamorphosis into a moth. There, I
have finished my brief narrative, and am now long-
ing to hear the dragon-fly's story, as I suspect it
will be very wonderful."
" My early days," said the dragon-fly, " were
spent in the water. I was then furnished with six
feet, but I did not use them for walking so much as
for capturing my prey. I moved through the water
by means of a wonderful hydraulic engine, which
nature had given me. With this engine I was able
to eject a stream of water to the distance of several
inches ; and this jet propelled me through the water,
in consequence of its being resisted by the station-
ary mass of the fluid behind. I was the terror of
all the inhabitants of the pond, for T was dreadfully
rapacious, devouring every living thing that came
within my reach. In surprising my prey, I ap-
proached it very stealthily, and pounced upon it
suddenly. I was so artful, that insects, and even
small fishes, found it difficult to elude my attacks.
" My first metamorphosis was inconsiderable, as
my appearance underwent very little alteration, and
I still retained my six legs, and had the same car-
nivorous propensities as formerly. At length I felt
that the term of my aquatic existence had expired,
and I therefore crawled up the stem of a water-
plant into the air. Having selected a dry spot, I
pushed my sharp claws into the soft stem, and
awaited my final transformation. By the swelling
of the upper part of my body, the outer skin was
greatly distended, and was eventually rent asunder
on the back of the head and shoulders. Through
this opening I escaped as a perfect fly, leaving the
empty slough fixed to the aquatic plant. Old age
has now come upon me, and I require no further
nourishment; but I must confess that I never lost
my rapacious instincts. Instead of seeking an
innocent nutriment in the pulp of fruits, or the
nectar of flowers, I hovered in the air only to pounce
upon other insects and crush them with my powerful
mandibles. I have exterminated innumerable gnats
and flies in my latter days, and have even caused
the death of several moths and butterflies."
This confession so alarmed the gnat, that he flew
at once to another leaf, so as to be at a safe distance
from the splendid blue monster, for whom he had
hitherto entertained so little fear. " Do not run
away!" exclaimed the dragon-fly, in a very jocular
tone. " I shall not eat you until I have heard your
story, provided you sit still j but if you attempt to
leave this tree, I shall be very much offended, and
will not answer for the consequences."
" O, sir !" exclaimed the gnat, " how could you
suppose that I should run away from you, the
handsomest, the best, and the most magnanimous
insect that ever breathed ? I moved from the leaf
upon which you are sitting, because I felt my own
un worthiness so keenly, and feared that my presence
might cause you some uneasiness. If you would
like to hear the story of my life, I shall be most
proud to relate it to you, and to the other illus-
trious insects that are here assembled.
" I was originally produced from a tiny egg,
shaped like a bottle. My mother knew that her
offspring would pass the greater portion of their
time in water, and she therefore deposited her eggs
upon the surface of a pond. Now, as each egg was
heavy enough to sink if dropped into water, she
glued some three hundred of them together into the
form of a boat, which floated so safely that the most
violent agitation of the water could not sink it ;
and, what was still more extraordinary, it never
became filled with water, even though exposed to
the heavy rains. When hatched, I took the form
of a minute, whitish, semi-transparent grub. I
usually swam near the surface of the water, with
my head downwards and my tail in the air for my
breathing organs were situated in the tail, and not
along the sides, as in caterpillars. In course of time
I underwent a semi-transformation, like that of our
noble friend the dragon, and ten days after I broke
through the skin that covered me, and winged my
way through the air."
The reader would probably like to hear how the
gnat escapes from its envelope, without wetting its
wings. The most important, and indeed indispen-
sable part of the mechanism, is the maintaining of
its upright position while extricating itself from the
skin. The envelope, as it is thrown off, forms a
life -boat, and supports the gnat until it gets its
wings set at liberty and trimmed for flight. The
body of the insect serves this little boat for a mast.
" When the naturalist," says Reaumur, " observes
how deep the prow of the tiny boat dips into the
water, he becomes anxious for the fate of the little
mariner, particularly if a breeze ripple the surface,
for the least agitation of the air will waft it rapidly
along, since its body performs the duty of a sail as
well as of a mast ; but as it bears a much greater
proportion to the little bark than the largest sail
does to a ship, it appears in great danger of being
upset, and once laid on its side all is over. I have
sometimes seen the surface of the water covered
with the bodies of gnats which had perished in this
way ; but for the most part all terminates favour-
ably, and the danger is instantly over." When the
gnat has extricated all but the tail, it stretches out
its two fore-legs, and then the middle pair, bending
them down to feel for the water, upon which it is
able to walk as upon dry land, the only aquatic
faculty which it retains after having winged its way
above the element where it spent the first stages of
The larger of the two flies came forward as soon
as the gnat had done speaking, and gracefully waving
his antennae, addressed the assembled insects as fol-
lows : " I am a water-fly, and, like the last two
speakers, I spent my youth at the bottom of a pond.
Having a very soft body, which required some pro-
tection from the rapacity of fishes and carnivorous
insects, I enclosed myself in a case formed of bits of
straw and wood, pebbles, and tiny shells bound
together by silken threads, which I spun from my
mouth. While I remained in the grub state, this
case afforded me sufficient protection ; but as soon
as I felt a change approaching which I knew would
render me helpless and inactive, I thought it advi-
sable to contrive additional security. I therefore
wove a silken grating at the entrance of my little
gallery. This grating was marvellously strong, for
I crossed and recrossed the threads until a thickish
circular plate of brown silk was formed, which
became as hard as gum. Of course I left a number
of openings in this plate, for the purpose of breath-
ing. In this case I reposed in peace until just before
my final metamorphosis, when I gnawed my way
through the grating with a pair of mandibles spe-
cially provided for that one object. I then swam
to the surface, and underwent my change into a
" It is my turn now," said the other fly, a tiny
creature with a black body and yellow legs ; " and
although I am so small, I think I may safely say that
I have led a stranger life than any of you. I did not
pass my time, when in my caterpillar state, in looking
out for food; yet I lived on the fat of the land. I
am the dreaded ichneumon-fly, and the egg from
which I was produced was deposited by my mother
in the soft body of a cabbage-caterpillar, the brother
probably of our friend here with the ragged wings.
My kind parent settled upon the caterpillar's back,
and pierced the skin in about thirty places, deposit-
ing an egg in each wound. When we were all
hatched, we set to work devouring the fatty por-
tions of the caterpillar, who continued to eat as
usual, though his food did not afford him much
nourishment. When full grown, we eat our way
through the skin of the unfortunate cabbage-feeder,
and immediately spun for ourselves a number of
little silken cocoons of a bright yellow colour, in
which to pass the winter. In one of these little
cocoons I underwent my transformations, and
when I escaped I had the form which you now
Such, reader, is the subject of a conversation
which took place, or might have taken place, on
the leaves of the willow, between six of our com-
monest insects. The metamorphoses of insects surely
deserve a place in the fairy tales of Science, as
they are far more wonderful, because true, than any
of the metamorphoses that we read of in the fairy
tales of Greece and Home.
" Fire burn, and cauldron bubble !" Macbeth.
THE vapour that escapes from the spout of an ordi-
nary tea-kettle, is a much more wonderful emana-
tion than any of those flimsy spirits which the wierd
sisters summoned from their magic cauldron. Those
deluded old ladies, who wasted so much time in
collecting disgusting ingredients for their infernal
broth, in dancing wildly around their cooking uten-
sils, and in break ing-in and training broomsticks,
have happily disappeared from the face of this beau-
tiful earth, As we cannot look into their magic
cauldron, let us peep into the homely kettle.
Science has revealed so many beautiful truths
concerning boiling water, that we deem it advisable
to devote an entire chapter to their consideration.
The reader must not think that we have chosen a
trivial subject. It has been well said, that there is
no great and no small in nature, and that the force
which shapes the world gives form to the dewdrop.
To this remark we may add a similar one namely,
that some of the grandest phenomena in nature are
156 WATER BEWITCHED.
represented on a small scale in a kettle of boiling
" Mary, bring the kettle !"
Heat, by entering bodies, expands them through
a range which includes, as three successive stages,
the forms of solid, liquid, and air, or gas ; becoming
thus in nature the grand antagonist and modifier
of that attraction which holds corporeal particles
together, and which, if acting alone, would reduce
the whole material universe to one solid, lifeless
The influence of heat on the dimensions of mate-
rial substances affords a convenient method of
estimating the relative quantity of heat which will
produce a given effect ; for since it appears that a
certain increase of temperature will invariably be
accompanied by a certain degree of expansion of
bulk, it follows that, if we can estimate the degree
of expansion in any given case, we may thence infer
the amount of temperature. Upon this principle
depends the utility of those philosophical instru-
ments called thermometers, or heat -measures. As
we shall frequently have to refer to the indications
of the thermometer, we will describe the construc-
tion of this beautiful little instrument.
The mercurial thermometer consists essentially of
a fine glass tube with a bulb at one extremity, and
which, having been filled with hot mercury or
quicksilver, introduced through the open extremity,
has been hermetically sealed while full, so that no
WATER BEWITCHED. 157
air can possibly enter. As the tube and mercury
in it gradually cool, the enclosed fluid contracts
and consequently sinks, leaving above it a vacant
space or vacuum, through which it may again ex-
pand on the application of heat.
To such a tube it is necessary to add a scale,
showing at what height the mercury will stand at
any given temperature, for a tube of mercury
without a scale would be just as useless as a balance
without weights. Now, to form a scale that shall
agree with other scales we must find two fixed
points, and then divide the intervening space into
a given number of equal parts, or degrees. These
fixed points are the temperatures of melting snow
or ice, called the freezing-point, and of pure boiling
water, named the boiling-point. The first is found
by plunging the instrument into melting ice, and
then, after the temperature of the bath is attained,
marking the position of the mercury upon the
tube ; it is now placed in a deep metallic vessel
nearly filled with water, which is heated until
rapid ebullition ensues, and in this manner the
position of the boiling-point is ascertained. Fah-
renheit's scale being the standard generally adopted
in England, it is usual to divide the space between
the two points into 180 degrees, the freezing-point
being marked 32, and the boiling-point 112. In
the Centigrade thermometer, which is used on the
Continent, the space is divided into 100 equal
parts, the two points being marked respectively
158 WATER BEWITCHED.
and 100. The reader will understand that a
degree of heat is a mere arbitrary division, and that
212 Fahr. and 100 Cent, indicate the same tem-
perature. We shall adopt the unphilosophical but
convenient scale of Fahrenheit throughout this
No indication is afforded by the thermometer
of the absolute quantity of heat contained in any
substance, but merely of the amount of free or
sensible heat capable of producing a certain degree
of expansion in a column of mercury. If a quan-
tity of ice, at the temperature of zero, or 0, be
placed in a warm room, it will immediately begin
to melt, and a thermometer plunged into it will
soon indicate 32, though at first the column of
mercury stood at zero. But, strange to say, the
mercury will remain stationary at the freezing-point
until the whole of the ice has passed into the liquid
form. Thus we see that a large quantity of heat is
absorbed by the ice in the act of thawing, so as to be
no longer appreciable by the thermometer.
Again, if an open vessel containing ice-cold water
be placed upon a fii'e, the temperature of the liquid
will rapidly rise to 212, but at this point it will
remain stationary until the whole of the water is
converted into steam. The heat thus lost or ab-
sorbed during liquefaction and vaporization is called
hidden or latent heat, in contradistinction to the
heat of temperature.
But we must not forget our kettle. The stream
WATER BEWITCHED. 159
of vapour now issuing from the spout reminds us of
the Arabian fable of the genie, who escaped from the
fisherman's bottle in the form of a column of smoke.
But the genie of the tea-kettle is infinitely more
powerful than the genie of the bottle, who was, more-
over, a stupid, blustering fellow, quite unlike our
faithful servant, Steam. Let us see how our mighty
genie may be evoked ; in other words, let us ascer-
tain the conditions under which vaporization takes
place. Vapours, of which steam is the most familiar
to us, are light, expansible, and generally invisible
gases, resembling air completely in their mechanical
properties while they exist, but subject to be con-
densed into liquids or solids by cold. Steam is
perfectly invisible ; but as soon as it comes into
contact with the cold air, it is condensed into
a white cloud, which consists of minute liquid
When converted into steam, water undergoes a
great expansion, a cubic inch becoming under ordi-
nary circumstances a cubic foot of steam ; or, to be
exact, one cubic inch of water expands, when suffi-
ciently heated, into 1694 cubic inches of steam.
We have already shown that this change, like the
liquefaction of solids, is effected by the addition of
heat to the water. But a much larger quantity of
heat enters into vapours than into liquids into
steam than into water. If over a steady fire a
certain quantity of ice-cold water requires one hour
to bring it to the boiling point, it will require a
160 WATER BEWITCHED.
continuance of the same heat for five hours more to
boil it off entirely. Yet liquids do not become
hotter after they begin to boil, however long or with
whatever violence the boiling is continued. This
fact is of importance in domestic economy, particu-
larly in cookery, and attention to it would save
much fuel. Soups made to boil in a gentle way by
the application of a moderate heat, are just as hot
as when they are made to boil on a strong fire with
the greatest violence. Again, when water in a
copper is once brought to the boiling point, the fire
may be reduced, as having no further effect in rais-
ing its temperature.*
If a thermometer be plunged into the steam that
fills the upper part of the kettle, it will indicate
212. The steam is thus found to be no hotter than
the water itself. What then becomes of all the
heat that passes into the kettle, since it is neither
discovered in the water nor in the steam 1 It be-
comes latent that is to say, it enters into the water
and converts it into steam without raising its tem-
perature. As much heat disappears in the vaporiza-
tion of a single pint of water as would suffice to
raise the temperature of 1000 pints by one degree !
But the reader will be able to form a more adequate
conception of the latent heat of steam, from the fact
that one gallon of water converted into steam will,
by condensation, raise five gallons and a half of ice-
cold water to the boiling point !
* Professor Graham.
WATER BEWITCHED. 161
Could we see through the sides of the kettle we
should observe so many strange movements in the
liquid that we might easily persuade cm-selves that
we were peering into some magic cauldron. By
substituting a thin glass flask for the kettle, the
whole process of boiling may be seen to perfection.
On gradually heating water in such a vessel, we
first observe the formation of tiny air-bubbles, which
dart through the liquid with marvellous rapidity.
As the temperature increases these " beaded bub-
bles winking at the brim" give place to much
larger bubbles, which are formed at the bottom of
the vessel, and which rise a little way in the liquid,
and then contract and disappear in a most myste-
rious manner, producing a hissing or simmering
sound. But as the heating goes on, these bubbles,
which consist of steam, rise higher and higher in
the liquid, till at last they reach the surface and
escape, producing a bubbling agitation, or the pheno-
mena of ebullition. It may now be remarked that
steam itself is invisible, as the upper part of the flask
appears quite empty ; but when it escapes into the
cold air it is condensed into a white cloud of minute
drops of water.
It was first remarked by Gay-Lussac, an illus-
trious French chemist, that liquids are converted
more easily into vapour when in contact with
angular and uneven surfaces, than when the sur-
faces which they touch are smooth and polished.
He also remarked that water boils at a temperature
162 WATER BEWITCHED.
two degrees higher in glass than in metal ; so that
if into water in a glass flask which has ceased to
boil, a twisted piece of cold iron wire be dropped,
the boiling is instantly resumed.
Solid bodies having different temperatures will, if
kept in contact, gradually change until they all
acquire the same temperature. But this diffusion
does not take place instantaneously, or there would
be no such thing as difference of temperature. The
rapidity with which heat is conducted varies in dif-
ferent substances ; for example, if we place a silver
spoon and a wooden one in boiling water, the handle
of the former will become too hot to be held before
that of the wooden one is sensibly warmed. Silver
is, therefore, a good conductor and wood a bad con-
ductor of heat.
Liquids conduct heat very slowly and imperfectly.
If mercury be poured into a jar, and boiling water
be poured over it, the metallic fluid will receive
heat but slowly from the water. A thermometer
let down a few feet below the surface of a pond or of
the sea, would, on being drawn up, indicate a lower
temperature than that of the surface water ; for the
latter, heated by the rays of the sun, communicates
little or no heat to the water below. Indeed, it may
be questioned whether water has any conducting
It may be reasonably inquired how it happens
that water is made to boil so readily by the appli-
cation of heat. A little consideration will show
WATER BEWITCHED. 163
that the effect, in a great measure, depends on the
manner in which the liquid is heated, by placing it
above the source of heat. If we require boiling
water we must place the kettle on the fire, and not
in the ash- hole. When heat is applied to a vessel of
water, in the ordinary way, the fluid particles near
the bottom of the vessel, being heated first and
expanding, become specifically lighter and ascend ;
colder particles occupy their place, and ascend in
their turn ; and thus a current is established, the
heated particles rising up through the centre, and
colder particles descending at the sides. This is evi-
dently a very different process from conduction. In
the case of a solid the heat is conducted from par-
ticle to particle ; but in liquids there can be no
change of temperature without a displacement of
particles. Each particle, as soon as it receives a
fresh accession of heat, starts off with it, and con-
veys it to a distance, displacing other and colder
particles in its progress. This process has received
the name of convection.
The more a liquid is expanded by a given change
of temperature, the greater will be the difference of
specific gravity between the part which is heated
and the rest of the mass, aud the more rapid, there-
fore, will be the circulation from the change. Any
tenacity or viscosity in the liquid will impede its
motion, and when water is thickened with flour, or
other farinaceous substances, it parts with its ac-
quired heat very slowly. Many a person has burned
164 WATER BEWITCHED.
his mouth with hot porridge and expressed his sur-
prise at the slowness with which it cools, without
being able to assign the philosophical reason of the
The currents that exist in the ocean are produced
by convection, and are quite as easily accounted for
as the currents in the heated water of our tea-kettle.
The oceanic currents are of great constancy and
regularity, but they are modified in their direction
by the general distribution of land and water on the
earth's surface. That part of the ocean which is
immediately under the tropics, and between the
eastern and western hemispheres, for example, be-
comes highly heated. The water being greatly
expanded, flows off on either side towards the poles,
acquiring a westerly direction as it passes south ot
the coast of Guinea, and striking the promontory of
Cape St. Roque, on the South American coast, is split
into two streams. The smaller one continues south-
wards towards Cape Horn ; while the larger current
maintains a north-westerly course into the Gulf of
Mexico, where it receives further accessions of heat,
and is gradually changed in its direction. It now
passes along the southern shores of North America,
and finally emerges northward in the narrow channel
between the peninsula of Florida and the Bahama
Islands,where it assumes the name of the Gulf Stream.
The temperature of this current is found to be nine
or ten degrees higher than that of the neighbouring
* Professor Daniell.
WATER BEWITCHED. 165
ocean. This current passes on, gradually widening
and becoming less marked, till it is lost on the
western shores of Europe. A less accurately defined
under-current, from the poles, is constantly setting
in towards the Equator, to supply the place of the
heated water which takes the course already de-
scribed. Besides rendering important aid to the
navigator, these oceanic currents assist in mantain-
ing an equilibrium of temperature on the earth,
moderating the severity of the polar frosts, and
tempering the sultry heats of the tropics.*
Among the circumstances which materially affect
the vaporization of liquids, one of the most im-
portant is atmospheric pressure. We have said that
water boils at 212, but this statement requires
some qualification, as the boiling point of water will
vary according to the pressure of the atmosphere as
indicated by the barometer. The aerial ocean which
envelopes this planet presses upon the surface of
the liquid ocean with a force equal to nearly fifteen
pounds on every square inch ; in other words, a
column of air an inch square, extending from the
level of the sea to the top of the atmosphere, weighs
between fourteen and fifteen pounds. The elastic
force of air is necessarily equal to its pressure. Let
us try to make this point intelligible to the reader.
If the mercury of a barometer stands at a height
of about thirty inches in the open air, indicating a
pressure of fifteen poxmds, it will stand at exactly
* Professor Miller.
166 WATER BEWITCHED.
the same height in a close room from which all
communication with the external air has been cut
off. The lowest stratum of the atmosphere is
pressed upon by the strata above it, and being
highly elastic, it assumes the condition of a bent
spring. The confined air of the room is therefore
able to support thirty inches of mercury by the
elasticity which it acquired before the doors and
windows were closed.
We shall now be able to understand the relation
that subsists between the phenomenon of ebullition
and atmospheric pressure. Water evaporates, or is
convei'ted into steam at all temperatures, until the
whole space above it is filled with watery vapour
of a certain elasticity. This is a wise provision of
nature, for if water obstinately retained its liquid
form at all temperatures below 212, the moistui'e
that descended to the earth in the form of rain
would never be evaporated during the hottest
summers. But there is a difference between eva-
poration at low temperatures and ebullition or
boiling. Water must be heated until its vapour
acquires an elasticity equal to that of the atmo-
sphere before ebullition can take place. At 212
the elastic force of steam will support a column of
mercury thirty inches high, and at this temperature
the steam-bubbles acquire the power of breaking
through the surface of the heated water, provided
the barometer stands at thirty inches.
Were we to carry our kettle to the summit of a
WATER BEWITCHED. 167
high mountain, we should find that the water would
boil at a very low temperature, and never become
hot enough to make a decent cup of tea. Thus at
the town of Potosi, on the Andes, where the stiper-
incumbent pressure of air will only support some
eighteen inches of mercury, water boils at 188.
Again, were we to carry our kettle to the bottom
of a deep mine, we should have to heat the water
to a point considerably higher than 212 before it
would boil, owing to the increased height of the
column of air pressing upon its surface.
We now turn to the examination of another in-
teresting point connected with the boiling of water.
The reader will doubtless imagine that the hotter
a vessel is into which water is poured the sooner
the liquid will boil. This is far from being the
case, as may be proved by pouring a small quantity
of water into a silver basin heated to redness.
Instead of flashing into steam, as might be expected,
the water will gather itself into a globule and dance
about on the hot surface as if bewitched. The liquid
is in a state of incessant motion : sometimes it
elongates itself into an oval in one direction ; then,
drawing itself up, it stretches out in a cross direc-
tion, and these changes take place so rapidly that a
star-shaped figure or rosette is often the result.
While the drop is in this spheroidal condition, as it
has been called, let the lamp which heats it be
withdrawn ; the basin gradually cools, and after a
short time the drop loses its spheroidal form,
168 WATER BEWITCHED.
spreads out on the metallic surface, and is instantly
thrown into violent ebullition. This striking phe-
nomenon is generally known as Leidenfrost's expe-
All volatizable liquids under similar circum-
stances behave as water does. Liquid sulphurous
acid, for instance, when poured into a red-hot silver
or platinum crucible, retains its spheroidal state ;
its temperature never rising beyond its boiling
point. Now, as the boiling point of this liquid is
18, and therefore much below the freezing point
of water, we can actually freeze water in a red-hot
crucible by pouring it into the sulphurous acid !
The same thing occurs with a mixture of ether and
solid carbonic acid when introduced into a red-hot
metallic vessel. The mixture requires for its con-
version into gas as much time as it would in the
air at the ordinary temperature. If we introduce
into this mixture a small tube containing a little
mercury, the liquid metal instantly congeals into a
solid ! * Again, in the place of a metallic basin or
crucible, water near its boiling point may be made
use of to support a drop of ether. Instead of
mixing with the hot water, the ether gathers itself
up into a globule and rolls about upon the surface
of the other liquid.
Let us confine our attention to the original expe-
riment, to the dancing drop in the red-hot basin.
By a series of beautiful experiments it has been
WATEK BEWITCHED. 169
satisfactorily proved that the spheroidal drop never
touches the heated surface, but is separated from it
by a considerable interval. To what, then, is this
interval due 1 ? Let us quote the words of a clever
writer to whom we are indebted for many of the
facts contained in this chapter.
" At an early period of railway history, it was pro-
posed by that original genius George Stephenson to
substitute for ordinary steel springs, in the case of
locomotives, springs of elastic steam. It was proposed
to convey the steam into cylinders in which pistons
should move steam-tight; these pistons supported
by the steam beneath them, were to bear the weight
of the locomotive. Now what the great engineer
proposed for the locomotive, the spheroidal drop
effects for itself it is borne upon a cushion of its
own steam. The surface must be hot enough to
generate steam of sufficient tension to lift the drop.
The body which bears the drop must be of such a
nature as to yield up readily a supply of heat; for
the drop evaporates and becomes gradually smaller,
and to make good the heat absorbed by the vapour,
the substance on which the drop rests must yield
heat freely; in other words, it must be a good con-
ductor of heat.
" It is to the escape of steam in regular pulses
from beneath the drop that the beautiful figures
which it sometimes exhibits are to be referred. By
using a very flat basin over which the spheroidal
drop spreads itself widely, we render it difficult for
170 WATER BEWITCHED.
the vapour to escape from the centre to the edges
of the drop; and this resistance may be increased
till the vapour finds it easier to break in bubbles
through the middle of the drop than to escape
" All these facts are in perfect harmony with the
explanation, that it is the development and inces-
sant removal of a steam-spring at the lower surface
of the drop which keeps the liquid from contact
with the metal and shields it from the communica-
tion of heat by contact. Owing to this, indeed,
the liquid in the spheroidal condition never reaches
its boiling temperature. If you plunge a thermo-
meter into a spheroid of water in a red-hot vessel,
its temperature will be found to be several degrees
under 212. When the lamp is withdrawn and
the basin cools, the tension of the steam under-
neath the drop becomes gradually feebler. The
spring loses its force, the drop sinks and finally
comes in contact with the metal. Heat is then
suddenly imparted to the liquid, which immediately
bursts into ebullition."*
It is well known that we may introduce the hand,
if moist, into melted lead, nay, into white-hot melted
copper or iron, and move it slowly about in thee
liquids, not only without burning the hand, but
without even feeling the intense heat of the melted
metals; whereas iron or copper at a heat far below
redness, instantly causes a blister or burn. This
* Westminster Eeview.
WATER BEWITCHED. 171
apparent anomaly is easily explained. The intense
heat of the melted metal instantly vaporizes the
moisture of the hand, and the experimentalist re-
ceives no injury, as his hand is protected by a thick
glove of non-conducting steam.
It is highly probable that the priests of old were
acquainted with this fact, and made good use of it
in the ordeal of fire. When a person was accused
of some crime which could not be proved against
him, he was subjected to the fiery ordeal, that is to
say, he had to plunge his arm into molten lead or
walk barefooted over red-hot ploughshares. If he
passed through the ordeal scathless, his innocence
was held to be satisfactorily established. Now the
reader need not be told that the safety of the sus-
pected person did not depend on his freedom from
guilt but on the moisture of his arm or feet and
the heat of the metal. The greatest criminal might
walk over hot ploughshares, provided they were hot
enough to give him sandals of vapour.
Truly the humble tea-kettle is wonderfully sug-
gestive. We had almost forgotten that it forms
the text of the present chapter, but just now the
water boiled over and reminded us that we had
not touched upon those grand kettles of nature,
the Geysers, or intermittent boiling fountains of
The Geysers, of which there are a considerable
number, are springs of hot water holding a large
quantity of silex or flint in solution, which issue
172 WATER BEWITCHED.
from the beds of lava of which the wonderful vol-
canic island is chiefly composed. A jet of boiling
water, accompanied with a great evolution of vapour,
first appears, and is ejected to a considerable height ;
a dense volume of steam succeeds, and is thrown up
with prodigious force, and a terrific noise like that
produced by the escape of vapour from the boiler
of a steam-engine. Nature's cauldron boils over !
This operation sometimes lasts for more than an
hour, and after an interval of repose of uncertain
duration, the same phenomena are repeated.
The Great Geyser is the most celebrated of these
boiling fountains. Sir George Mackenzie, who was
the first to describe it, states that its eruptions were
preceded by a sound resembling the distant discharge
of heavy ordnance, and the ground shook sensibly ;
the sound was rapidly 1'epeated, when the water in
the basin, after heaving several times, suddenly rose
in a large column, accompanied by clouds of steam,
to the height of ten or twelve feet. The column
then seemed to burst, and sinking down produced
a wave, which caused the water to overflow the
basin. A succession of eighteen or twenty jets now
took place, some of which rose from a height of
from fifty to ninety feet. The last eruption was
the most violent ; this beJng over, the water sud-
denly disappeared from the basin, and sunk down a
pipe in the centre to a depth of ten feet ; but in
the course of a few hours the phenomena were
repeated with increased energy. The basin of the
WATER BEWITCHED. 173
Great Geyser is an irregular oval, about fifty-six
feet by forty-six, formed of a mound of flinty de-
posits about seven feet high. The channel through
which the water is ejected is about sixteen feet in
diameter at the opening, but it contracts to ten feet
lower down ; its depth is estimated at sixty feet.
From experiments made by the Chevalier Bunsen,
in 1846, it appears that the Geysers are irregular
tubes fed with rain and snow-water, and that their
peculiar form favours the heating of the lower por-
tions of the contained water, by the subterranean
fires, to a degree far above the boiling point. The
eruption of one of these Geysers is explained by
supposing that when the whole of the contained
water is sufficiently heated to allow of ebullition
towards the upper part of the tube, portion after
portion of the highly heated water successively
bursts into steam as the pressure is diminished by
the removal of the upper portion of the aqueous
That this is the true explanation of the pheno-
mena is highly probable, since artificial Geysers have
been constructed of iron tubes, which being filled
with water, and heated near the lower extremity by
burning charcoal, eject little columns of boiling
water, and mimic all the phenomena presented by
the natural Geysers.
Let us now ring the bell, and tell Mary to take
away the tea-kettle, for there is no knowing what
abstruse subjects it may suggest, as it sits on the
174 WATER BEWITCHED.
hob, singing its peculiar version of " Home, sweet
home !" The reader must admit that the title we
have chosen for this chapter is the only term that
would embrace all the wonderful facts we have
related. The bubbles and currents of boiling water,
the dancing and ever-changing globule, and the
huge cauldrons of Iceland, fall quite naturally under
the indefinite heading of " Water Bewitched."
^4- i^ * j **&*&*
4 x:^ HX^
" We fly by night." Macbeth.
LET us take our station, on a clear evening, in
some wide, open plain, and gaze upward and
around on the star-spangled heavens that shroud
and reveal reveal and shroud the unfathomable
mystery of the INFINITE and ETERNAL. Though
from the spot we occupy in space we can see only a
small portion of the visible universe, yet even with
the naked eye we behold a multitude of bright
luminaries. As we continue to watch them we
find that the immense majority of them shine with
a twinkling light, and retain the same relative posi-
tion to each other, whilst the remainder, very few
in number, shed a steady light, and change their
places continually, returning at given periods in the
same path. We are thus led to divide the heavenly
bodies within the sphere of our perception into two
principal classes or systems the sidereal as we
will call it here, for convenience' sake and the
planetary. The stars belonging to the former are
popularly called fixed stars, although this term, in
its strictest acceptation, must be held not to be
176 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
quite applicable to them, as they unquestionably
have measurable motions of their own. Those
belonging to the latter are called erratic or wander-
ing stars, popularly planets, from a Greek word
signifying a wanderer ; these include the sun, moon,
our own earth, and the other planetary bodies, as
well as the comets. The erratic stars constitute,
with the sun about which they move as their
common centre or focus, in obedience to the great
universal law of gravitation revealed to us by the
genius of Newton and his sublime predecessor the
illustrious Kepler the solar system, which, however
so infmitesimally small in comparison to the infinite
magnitude and extent of the sidereal world, men
must naturally regard with greater and more vivid
nay, if the expression may be permitted us, with
more affectionate interest than the universe
beyond. Moreover, the bodies composing this sys-
tem are comparatively near to us, and more within
the reach of our observation, than the fixed stars,
which are placed at immeasurable distances from
us. Let us, therefore, first take, as we are being
wafted on with our planet through space, a rapid
survey of them, before proceeding to the contempla-
tion of the " world of worlds" beyond.
By a long series of patient observations of a most
delicate kind, aided by the telescope and other mar-
vellous instruments devised by human ingenuity,
and by refined combinations of theoretical reasoning
and logical induction, man has succeeded in rnea-
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 177
suring the dimensions, gauging as it were the con-
tents, and weighing as in a balance the mass, not of
our earth alone, but of all the other planets, and of
the great sun himself.
Thus we know that the equatorial diameter of
our globe is about 7926, the polar diameter 7900
miles ; that our earth revolves round its axis with
a velocity of nearly 12 miles in a minute, and that
it moves in its orbit round the sun at a rate of
more than 1000 miles a minute ; that its distance
from the sun is 95,000,000 miles.
The moon, the satellite of the Earth, is distant
from it some 240,000 miles, and revolves round it
in 27^ days ; its diameter measures only 2180 miles.
Of the other planetary bodies, some are consider-
ably larger, some smaller, than our earth. The
largest of all, the brightest among them, is Jupiter,
with a diameter of about 88,000 miles, and a bulk
1 300 times that of the Earth ; owing to his infei-ior
density, his mass is, however, only upwards of 370
times that of our globe. Perpetual spring reigns
on this King of Planets. Jupiter is attended by
four satellites or moons, with the exception of one,
each of them larger than our moon, which revolve
round him from west to east. His distance from
the sun is 485,000,000 miles ; his revolution round
the great centre of the planetary world occupies 12
years. The next in size is Saturn, with a diameter
of 79,000 miles, and accordingly about 1000 times
larger than the Earth ; he is 890,000,000 miles dis-
178 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
tant from the sun, and revolves round it in 29
years. A revolving luminous ring, consisting of
three distinct portions, one within the other, sur-
rounds this most remarkable planet, and eight
satellites revolve round him. Uranus was, up to
Adams's, Leverrier's, and Galle's recent discovery of
Neptune, considered the most distant planet from
the solar centre of the system ; the distance being
calculated at 1,800,000,000 miles, and the period of
revolution, 84 years. The diameter of Uranus is
35,000 miles, and the bulk about 80, the mass about
20, times that of the Earth ; at least four satellites
are known to revolve round him, and several more
undoubtedly exist. Neptune, now the most distant
known planet from the sun (2,800,000,000 miles),
revolves round the latter in 1 65 years ; the diameter
of this planet is 37,500 miles, the bulk about 107
times that of the Earth, the mass about the same as
that of Uranus. Among the lesser planets, we have
to mention Mercury, the one nearest the solar centre,
being distant from it only 37,000,000 miles ; the
period of his revolution is 88 days. His diameter is
about 3200 miles ; from the close proximity of this
planet to the sun, it is conjectured that the mean
heat in it is above that of boiling qiiicksilver, and
even near the poles water would always boil. Its
mass is about one-twelfth that of the Earth, the
mean density rather greater than that of our planet.
Venus, next to Jupiter the brightest and most im-
portant and interesting of the planets, has a diameter
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 179
of about 7800 miles; some 68,000,000 miles distant
from the centre of the solar system, she revolves
round it in 224 days. Nearly of equal size, mass,
and density as the Earth, and with a comparatively
trifling difference of some 27,000,000 miles between
the respective distances of the two planets from the
sun, Venus would be supposed to present the same
climatological and meteorological conditions as her
sister planet ; and this would unquestionably be the
case, but that Venus happens to turn most obliquely
round her axis, whence it results that snow and ice
cannot accumulate at the poles, which are subjected
by turns for some four months to the fierce glare of
an almost vertical sun, and that there are no tempe-
rate zones in that planet as in ours ; though an
atmosphere, much loaded with clouds, would cer-
tainly seem to mitigate in some measure the in-
tense glare and heat of the sunshine.
Mars, the nearest of the superior planets exterior
to the Earth, presents more points of similarity to
the latter than any of the other. His diameter is
about 4100 miles, his distance from the solar centre,
round which he revolves in 687 days, 142,000,000
miles; his mass is about one-seventh part of that of
the Earth, and his density a trifle smaller. He is
evidently surrounded by an atmosphere of consider-
able density ; he shines with a red and fiery light ;
seen through a good telescope, his disk presents
something like a vague delineation of seas and con-
tinents. Near the poles a zone of white is seen,
180 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
clearly denoting the existence of large masses of
snow. The climate of this planet must be consider-
ably colder than ours j but, from the similar obli-
quity of the ecliptic, and almost identical period of
diurnal rotation of the two, the changes of the
seasons must be very similar to our own, though
with much greater variations.
Besides these larger planets, there are found
between Mars and Jupiter about thirty smaller
planets and asteroids, most of them exceedingly
minute, and discernible only through the telescope.
Vesta and Pallas are the brightest among them,
and may, when nearest to us, be just barely detected
with the naked eye, though even then with the
greatest difficulty only.
To convey to the mind of the reader an intelli-
gible general impression of the relative magnitudes
and distances of the principal parts of the planetary
system, let a globe two feet in diameter be placed
on a well levelled field, to represent the /Sun.
Mercury will then be represented by a grain of
mustard-seed on the circumference of a circle 164
feet in diameter for its orbit. Venus will appear
as a pea, on a circle 284 feet in diameter ; the Earth
of the same size, on a circle of 430 feet ; Mars of the
size of a rather large pin's head, on a circle of 654
feet ; Juno, Ceres, Vesta, and Pallas, grains of sand,
in orbits of from 1000 to 1200 feet ; Jupiter a
moderate-sized orange, on a circle about 720 yards
across ; Saturn a smaller orange, on a circle of four-
fifths of a mile; Uranus a small plum, on the circum-
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 181
ference of a circle above a mile and a half in diameter ;
Neptune a somewhat larger plum, on the circum-
ference of a circle about two miles and a third in
Having thus briefly glanced at the planetary satel-
lites of the sun, we will now proceed to view, with
equal briefness, that great centre of the system
itself, which feeds and vivifies them all with its
glorious rays. The stupendous globe which we call
the sun, is about 1,400,000 times as large as our
earth, its diameter being 885,000 miles ! However,
its density being only 0'2543 as compared to that
of the earth, it contains only 354,936 times the
mass or quantity of ponderable matter that the
latter consists of. It turns on its axis in 25^ days,
as proved by telescopic observations of certain dark
spots on its surface. The sun apparently moves
round the earth, though it is in reality the latter
body which moves round the sun, in a nearly
circular orbit, described in a plane, sensibly fixed,
called the ecliptic. The ancients called that portion
of the heavens in which the sun's apparent orbit is
performed the zodiac, and divided the great circle
formed by the intersection of the plane of this orbit
with the sphere of the heavens into twelve equal
portions or signs, named in order Aries, Taurus,
Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagitta-
rius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces. The sun, how-
ever, has also a real motion : he moves with the entire
solar system in the direction of the constellation of
Hercules in the western sky. The sun's rays are
182 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
the ultimate soui'ce of all the motions observed on
the surface of our planet, and of all vegetable and
animal life on it ; since it is by their vivifying
action that plants are elaborated from inorganic
matter, to become in their turn the support of
animals and of man, and the source of our great coal
deposits, so felicitously and truly called by the late
George Stephenson " bottled sunshine /" By the
unequal action of the solar heat are produced all
winds and storms, and those disturbances in the
electric equilibrium of the atmosphere which give
rise to the phenomena of terrestrial magnetism. By
the solar rays the waters of the sea are drawn up
into the air in vapour, to descend again in rain,
irrigating and fertilizing the laud, and producing
springs and rivers. To their action and influence
must mainly and primarily be attributed the
chemical compositions and decompositions of the
elements of nature, nay, even the phenomena of
Judging by what we see around us on our own
globe, and by the way in which every corner of it is
crowded with living beings, and arguing from the
most natural of all analogies, most, if not all, of the
other larger planets of our solar system must be
held to be habitable and inhabited worlds like our
By nations in the infancy of intellectual develop-
ment the heavens above and around us might have
been looked upon as a kind of solid arch, vault, or
canopy, hung with greater and lesser lamps, intended
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 183
solely for the special behoof and benefit of the puny
dwellers on this puny atom which we call our earth.
But we of a generation immeasurably more ad-
vanced in knowledge, to whom the beneficence of
the CREATOR has deigned to unclasp the first volume
of the great Book of Nature, that we may read the
marvellous page, and bow down and adore the
Infinite Wisdom that conceived, the Infinite Power
that made this glorious world ; we, who are per-
mitted to walk in the light of knowledge and science,
before which the desponding comment of "Athena's
wisest son" upon human knowledge, that
"All we know is nothing can be known,"
stands rebuked and disproved ; we who may span
with a thought the inconceivable distance which
separates our planet from the " threshold of space"
we can no longer entertain the same crude and
" unintelligent" notion of the " nature and purpose"
of the works of the Divine Hand.
The discoveries of science have disclosed to us in
each planet, which, like our own, revolves in regu-
lated periods round the sun, provisions in all respects
similar to those found to exist here : the same
structure, form, and materials the same action and
influence of the same calorific and illuminating
agency the same alternations of light and dark-
ness, produced by the same means the same pleasing
succession of seasons the same diversity of climate
the same agreeable distribution of land and water.
With the overwhelming evidence of these most
184 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
essential analogies between our own and the other
planets before our mind, how can we doubt but that
those other "celestial structures" have been made,
provided, and fitted by God to be the abodes of
sentient beings kindred to the denizens of our earth 1
As direct evidence of the fact, however, remains as
yet still denied us, attempts have not been, and
even now are not wanting to throw doubt on the
correctness of this inference from our analogical
reasoning. But most of the " arguments" adduced
against the supposition of the planets being inhabit-
able globes like our earth are of too flimsy and futile
a nature to be deserving even of a passing allusion ;
others have been convincingly refuted. Thus, to
give an instance, it has been advanced that Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, being severally five,
nine, eighteen, and twenty-eight times fai'ther re-
moved from the sun than our earth, the heating and
illuminating power of the solar rays must be in these
large planets respectively 25, 81, 324, and 784
times less than on our globe, which would preclude
the possibility of the existence on them of beings
organized like the denizens of earth. The simple
consideration, however, that a mere enlargement of
the pupil of the eye in the ratio of the diminution
of the apparent superficial magnitude of the sun's
disk as respectively beheld from these planets, or a
proportionally increased sensibility of the retina,
would leave the illuminating power of the sun
the same as at the earth and that in like man-
ner the diminished calorific power of the solar rays
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 185
might be compensated by modified atmospheric con-
ditions, will suffice to dispose of this objection.
The only tenable argument against the habitable-
ness of those large globes might be, that from their
vast magnitude in comparison to the earth the
effects of gravity upon them would be such as to
unfit species organized like those of the latter for
existence there, since they would, in fact, be crushed
to pieces under the enormous pressure of their own
weight. But leaving out of consideration the very
obvious expedient of a proportionate adaptation of
the size and weight of the bodies placed upon these
globes to the respective magnitudes of the latter,
a more careful examination of the question, and ap-
plication of the rule, that "the weight of bodies
placed upon the surface of a globe depends con-
jointly on the quantity of matter in the globe, and
on the distance of the body from its centre," will at
once show that owing to the inferior density of the
matter composing the four large planets, which in
comparison to that of the matter composing the
Earth, is for Jupiter as 1 to 4, for Saturn as 1 to 85,
for Uranus and Neptune as 1 to 6 ; the weight of
bodies placed on the surfaces of the three latter
planets actually does not differ much from their
weight on the earth, whilst in the case of Jupiter,
it is only 2f times greater than upon the terrestrial
In the case of the moon we are led to believe
from the desolate bleakness of her surface, and the
total absence of all indications of an atmosphere, that
186 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
she is not inhabited by organized beings. But even
here, how know we but that that most beneficent ema-
nation of the " self-evolving energy divine," that
most powerful agent in the mysterious chemistry of
the spheres the all-vivifying rays of the sun, may
not be silently at work re-fitting even that " cinder
of an extinct world," for the habitation of kindred
The satellites of the other planets have been
proved by astronomical observation to be under
physical conditions similar to that of the moon ;
and it is probable, therefore, that they are at all
events not as yet in a proper state of habitability.
Finally, as regards the planetoids or asteroids
whether we look upon them in the light of frag-
ments of a smashed or exploded planet, or in that
of germs or constituent elements of a future planet
in process of formation by coalescing and agglome-
ration it is plain that they present none of the
leading and essential analogies to our earth that are
observed in the larger planets.
To those " strange wanderers of the sky," comets,
we intend to devote a separate chapter, and will
therefore now at once wing our flight beyond the
narrow limits of our solar system, to the confines of
the visible universe to the threshold of the abyss
of space beyond.
The innumerable multitude of celestial bodies,
which seemingly preserve from age to age the same
relative situation in the heavens, and are therefore
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 187
popularly called "fixed stars''' (although, as we have
already taken occasion to observe, they have un-
questionably all of them measurable motions of
their own, too slow, indeed, to be sensibly percep-
tible, yet none the less real), were classified' by the
ancients into fanciful groups, called constellations,
to which names were assigned, either from some
supposed resemblance of the outlines of the group
to figures of men, animals, or other objects for ex-
ample, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Aquila,
Cygnus. Serpens ; the names of the signs of the
zodiac, which we have already given ; Lyra, &c. ;
or by way of a special tribute of veneration to some
departed hero or heroine e.g., Hercules, Perseus,
Andromeda, Cassiopeia, &c. ; or from the most
grovelling adulation of which the name of Coma
Berenices, bestowed upon a constellation above Leo,
affords a most striking instance. Berenice, daughter
of Magas of Gyrene, and wife of Ptolemy III.,
King of Egypt, rejoiced in an abundance of very
beautiful hair, of which she was inordinately vain ;
a portion of this had been suspended in a temple,
from which it was suddenly missed one day to the
great consternation of the courtiers, who had reason
to dread the anger of the " bereaved" beauty. How-
ever, Conon the astronomer, a sharp fellow in his
way, luckily bethought himself of the notable expe-
dient of looking for the missing locks in the heavens,
where, sure enough, he beheld them quite plain, the
same having been " translated" to that exalted posi-
188 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
tion by the gods, evidently on account of their
surpassing loveliness. The laureate of the Egyptian
court, Callimachus, wrote a poem thereon. The
"delicate" flattery succeeded to the fullest extent;
the queen was more than satisfied, and the Coma
Berenices shines down on us to the present day !
The catalogue of stars which forms part of the
famous Almagest of Ptolemy of Alexandria,* an
astronomer who flourished in the second century
after Christ, contains 1022 stars, arranged in forty-
eight such constellations. Although these fanciful
divisions and classifications of the stars are altogether
lacking a scientific or other practical and intelli-
gible basis, and would seem, as Sir John Herschel
truly and pertinently observes, to have been pur-
posely named and delineated to cause as much
confusion as possible, yet the general convenience
which they afford is so great, and the stars have in
process of time become so intensely identified with
their names, that they have for ages been permitted,
and must even in our own days still be permitted,
to retain them.
A much more rational division of the stars, how-
* This catalogue of stars is generally held to be the most
ancient on record. However, this is a popular error. An
earlier catalogue had been drawn up, about 125 B.C., by the
illustrious Hipparchus, the greatest astronomer of antiquity,
and, indeed, up to the days of the immortal Kepler. The
catalogue of Hipparchus supplied the materials from which
Ptolemy compiled his. At present there are some 130,000
stars catalogued !
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 189
ever, is that into classes, according to their appa-
rent brightness. These classes astronomers term
'magnitudes. The brightest stars are said to be of
the first magnitude ; those next in brightness of the
second magnitude, and so forth. The stars down to
the sixth magnitude are visible to the naked eye ;
it requires, however, tolerably good eyes to distin-
guish those of the sixth magnitude, even on very
clear evenings. For stars below the sixth magni-
tude we must have recourse to telescopes ; with the
aid of the most powerful of these instruments, we
can at present discern stars down to the twentieth
magnitude, and even below. The number of stars of
the first magnitude is very small, only about 20 of
them being counted in the heavens ; those of the se-
cond magnitude number 65; of the third, 190 ; of the
fourth, 425; of the fifth, 1 1 00 ; of the sixth, 3200;
of the seventh, 13,000; of the eighth, 40,000; of
the ninth, 142,000, which gives a total number of
200,000 stars down to the ninth magnitude. As a
glance at these figures will show, the numbers in-
crease very rapidly as we descend in the scale of
brightness. To conceive a notion, still most inade-
quate, however, of the countless multitudes of stars
that are dispersed through infinite space, we need
simply reflect that Sir William Herschel, through
his powerful telescope, discovered some eighteen
millions of stars, of an average magnitude between
the tenth and eleventh, in the milky way alone that
great luminous band which stretches all across the
190 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
sky from horizon to horizon. What inconceivable
numbers should we arrive at, were we to go down to
the twentieth magnitude ! or attempt to count the
myriads of star-clusters composing those " clouds of
suns" that are comprehended xinder the general name
of nebulae* and of which Sir "William and Sir John
* Sir William Herschel was enabled, by the powers of his
large reflecting telescope, to divide and arrange the nebulous
masses of light discovered by him in his general sweep of the
northern heavens into the following six classes : 1st. Dis-
tinct clusters of separate stars ; 2nd. Resolvable nebulae, or
such as, though not distinctly resolved, yet clearly indicated
that their resolution might be accomplished by more powerful
optical instruments. Most of these have indeed now yielded
to the powers of Lord Rosse's gigantic six-feet reflector ; 3rd.
Nebulas showing no trace of resolution in his (Sir William
Herschel' s) telescope. In some of these, also, separate stars
have been detected by Lord Rosse's telescope, and by the
great refractor of the observatory at Cambridge, near
Boston, United States ; and with every new increase in the
dimensions and power of our optical instruments, we may
expect to see these " clouds of light" more and more resolved
into myriads upon myriads of separate stars ; 4th. Planetary
nebulae, or such as have the appearance of planets ; 5th.
Stellar nebulas ; and, 6th. Nebulous stars, which, according
to Sir John Herschel's definition, consist of " a sharp and
brilliant star, concentrically surrounded by a perfectly circular
disk or atmosphere of faint light, in some cases dying away
insensibly on all sides, in others almost suddenly terminated."
This may also be the proper place to make a passing allusion
to two most remarkable phenomena visible with the naked eye
in southern latitudes, called the Magellanic Clouds. They are
" two cloudy masses of light of a somewhat oval shape. When
examined through powerful telescopes, they are found to
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 191
Herschel have catalogued above 4000 ! What an
inexhaustible field of speculation and conjecture is
opened here to the imagination ! The finite mind
of man, with its limited comprehensive powers, is be-
wildered and lost in the interminable range of system
upon system, firmament upon firmament, of stars,
each of them a sun, and probably in its sphere the
presiding centre round which planetary worlds may
be revolving, the dwelling-places, perchance, of intel-
ligences of an immeasurably superior order to ours.
The classification of stars into magnitudes by
estimation of their relative brightness, although
unquestionably much more rational than the un-
meaning division into constellations, is, however,
entirely arbitrary. As we can only judge of the
brightness of a star by the total impression made
by its light upon the eye, it is quite evident that the
assumed magnitude will depend, first, on its distance
from us ; second, on the absolute extent of its illu-
minated surface ; third, on the intrinsic brightness
of that surface ; and of these data we know nothing,
or next to nothing. Up to a recent period we only
knew that the nearest fixed stars could not possibly be
be of astonishing complexity of constitution, the general
ground of them consisting of large tracts and patches of nebu-
losity in every stage of resolution, and of clustering groups,
interspersed with numerous nebulae, globular clusters in every
stage of condensation, and objects of a nebulous character
quite peculiar, and having no analogy in any other part of
192 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
placed at a distance so small as 19,200,000,000,000
miles from the sun ; but certain most admirable
observations and measuriugs, made by the illustrious
Bessel, have since clearly established the astounding
fact that the fixed stars placed nearest to our solar
system are distant from it some 57,000,000,000,000
miles a distance utterly inconceivable by the hu-
man mind. Light travelling, as is well known, at the
rate of 192,000 miles per second, it will take a ray
from the fixed stars nearest to us some 9^ years to
reach the earth ! But if this nearest and compa-
ratively trifling distance is sufficient to appal the
human understanding, what shall we say or think
of the immeasurably greater distances which separate
us from the remoter stars, and from the most dis-
tant visible nebulae, whose light, it has been calcu-
lated, will take at least a million years to reach our
earth ! To arrive at some approximate estimation
of the real magnitude of the stars, the light which
they shed on us, and the most imperfect and as yet
still almost entirely negative knowledge which we
have obtained respecting their distances, must be
our only guide. Now, direct photometrical* experi-
ments have shown that the light of Sirius, the most
brilliant of the fixed stars, is, at equal distances,
146^ times more intense than that of our Sun, and
that it would accordingly require a collection of more
than 146 suns to shed a ray of light on our earth
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 193
like that of Sirius, supposing the two bodies to be
placed at the same distance from us.*
Several among the stars exhibit the most remark-
able phenomenon of a regular periodical increase
and diminution of lustre, involving, in some rare
instances, an alternate total extinction and revival.
These are called periodical, or variable stars. One
of the most remarkable is the star Omicron, in the
constellation Cetus, which has a period of 334
days. It remains about a fortnight at its great-
est brightness, equal to a large star of the second
magnitude; it then decreases during about three
months until it disappears altogether; after remain-
ing invisible during about five months, it reappears
again, and continues increasing in brilliancy during
the remaining three months of its period. It shows,
however, occasionally considerable irregularity in
its phases, and has actually been known on one
occasion to remain altogether invisible during more
than four years (between October, 1 672, and Decem-
ber, 1676). Another remarkable specimen of a
variable star is Beta, in the constellation of Perseus.
The whole period of change of this star is rather
less than 2 days 20 hours and 49 minutes, during
which time it varies in brightness from the second
* To realize, however so feebly, the idea of the magnitude
and intense luminousness of Sirius, we need simply reflect
that the diameter of the sun is 885,000 miles, and that the
light of the latter is about 800,000 times more intense and
brilliant than that of the full moon.
194 A PLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
magnitude to the fourth; its changes are confined,
however, to a few hours, as it continues for rather
more than 2 days 12 hours at its state of greatest
Stars have also occasionally appeared suddenly in
various parts of the heavens, blazing forth for a
time with extraordinary lustre, and after remaining
awhile apparently immovable, have gradually de-
creased in brightness, and finally altogether vanished.
These are properly termed temporary stars. Thus
there suddenly appeared in the time of Tycko Brake,
(1572, llth November), in the constellation of Cas-
siopeia, a most lustrous star, equalling Sirius in
brightness ; it continued increasing in brilliancy up
to December, 1572, when it actually surpassed
Jupiter and Venus when nearest to the earth, and
was visible at mid-day. From this period forward
it began to diminish rapidly, and in March, 1574,
it had completely disappeared from the heavens.
Another equally brilliant star burst forth on the
10th October, 1604, in the constellation of Serpeu-
tarius, and continued visible till October, 1605.
The fact of the sudden appearance and subsequent
disappearance of such temporary stars affords an
irrefragable indication that there must exist also in
space immense dark bodies, absolutely invisible to
us, and of which accordingly we cannot possibly
have any knowledge, as light is the only means of
communication between the stars and the earth.
There remains now for us still to consider another
A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE. 195
marvel of the heavens the double and multiple stars.
The telescope has revealed to us that several thou-
sands of stars which appear single to the naked eye,
consist in reality of two or more luminous bodies
placed in close proximity to each other; the obser-
vations, and researches made principally by Sir
William and Sir John Herschel, Sir James South,
and the great Russian astronomer Struve, have
placed it beyond doubt that the proximity of these
stars to each other is by no means accidental, but
that they are physically connected together by the
tie of gravity, and revolve round each other as the
planets do round the sun, and in obedience to the
same law of attraction and gravitation which
governs the motions of the solar system. Many of
the double stars of unequal magnitude exhibit the
beautiful phenomenon of complementary colours.
Thus, if the larger star be of a ruddy or orange hue,
the smaller one will appear blue or green; if the
larger star appear yellow, the smaller will appear
blue; if the light of the brighter star incline to
crimson, that of the other will incline to green. In
connexion with this subject we may here remark,
that in many parts of the heavens isolated stars
have been observed of a red colour, almost as deep
Thus, Arcturus, Aldebaran (in Taurus), Antares
(in the Scorpion), are red stars ; and what is more
curious still, tiirius, whose light is now, and has
been for several centuries, of the purest white, is
196 A FLIGHT THROUGH SPACE.
mentioned by Ptolemy and all other astronomers of
antiquity as a red star. Lyra, Cygnus, Cor Leonis,
Virgo, are white stars. Canis Minor, Aquila, the
Polar Star, and the star Beta, in Ursa Minor, shed a
yellow light. In certain nebulae all the suns are of
the same colour, blue for instance; whilst in the
nebulae of Lacaille, near the Southern Cross, power-
ful telescopes reveal to the delighted eye. more than
a hundred differently coloured stars red, green,
blue, and of a greenish blue.
Thus far have we winged, our daring flight to the
utmost confines of the visible heavens, to the Ultima
Thule of the starry world. But beyond, into the
endless realms of space, we may not soar. Here
Almighty wisdom has fixed a barrier, sealed to the
finite intellect of man. The superior intelligences
of higher spheres may perchance pass beyond into
the immensity of God's creation, to stand in their
turn on the confines of another immensity, into
which even they may not enter and so on in end-
Yerily, verily, inconceivable and ineffable is the
magnitude of the works of the Almighty. A flight
through space? No, no, not through space; ay,
not even yet towards the threshold of space !
Sale of a Comet.
I could a Tale unfold." Hamlet.
WHAT I am 1 What I am made of? What class or
family of celestial bodies do I belong to ? How many
there are of us 1 Where do we come from 1 Where
are we going to ? What offices do we perform
what purpose subserve in the great economy of the
heavens ? Tell you all about us 1 Well, you are
inquisitive, my little terrestrial friends, and it ap-
pears to me, a little overmuch so ; and small infor-
mation, I trow, will you get out of me on most of
these points. Still, I cannot but admire the indo-
mitable perseverance with which you are prying
into the abyss of space, seeking to fathom the secrets
of the universe ; and although some of you have of
late rather offended the dignity of the great family
to which I belong, denying us even the possession
of anything like a substantial body, calling us
"visible nothings" affirming that they know all
about us, that they can look right through us, and
giving us somewhat plainly to understand that they
regard us very much in the light of exploded
humbugs,* I yet will bear no malice, and will en-
* M. Babinet, a distinguished French philosopher, in his
" Etudes et Lectures sur les Sciences d 1 Observation," is indeed
198 A TALE OF A COMET.
deavour, not, indeed, to satisfy your curiosity in all
matters concerning me and my brethren, but to give
you some few scraps of information and stray hints
about xis, leaving you to make the best use of them
you may, in your interminable cruise on the endless
sea of speculation.
Well, then, I am one of a most numerous family.
Johannes Kepler one of those bright intellectual
stars that adorn and illumineyour microscopic miteof
a sphere, and render it interesting even to the giants
of creation declared that " there are more comets
in space than fishes in the ocean." A. kindred spirit,
a Kepler of the present age Arago has calculated
our number at some three and a half millions at
the lowest computation, and possibly twice as many.
We are of all sizes and magnitudes, from the in-
credibly immense down to the minutest telescopic.
rather hard upon the poor comets. He calls them mere gather-
ings of vapour, visible nothings, devoid of all physical proper-
ties, incapable of doing either good or harm, and useful
simply through enabling us to verify Newton's law of attrac-
tion, and explore the regions of heaven far beyond the limits
of the solar system. He says science now knows all about
them, and the public have ceased taking the least interest in
them. It would be interesting to know whether M. Babinet
has since seen reason to modify this somewhat contemp-
tuous opinion of those " strange wanderers of the sky." Cer-
tain, however, it is, that science confessedly knows as yet
very little about comets, and that the apparition and passage
of Donati's Comet in 1858 has been narrowly watched and
tracked with the most eager curiosity, and with the most
A TALE OF A COMET. 199
I myself may boast of a bulk exceeding that of the
sun in the proportion of nearly 300 to 1 ; that of
your planet in the proportion of 400.000,000 to 1.
My brother of 1811 was still larger, being about
600,000,000 times the bulk of your earth ! The
essential part about us is the nucleus, which some-
times appears as a bright stellar point, and some-
times rather gives the notion of a planetary disc,
seen through a nebulous haze. What is generally
called our head, is simply this nebulous haze which
surrounds the nucleus ; the train, of illuminated
vapour which is often, though by no means always,
attached to the head, is usually termed by you the
tail, though, allow me to observe, rather improperly,
since this appendage often precedes us in our
motions. The inhabitants of that portion of your
sphere which is designated in your maps by the
name of China who, though certainly a little pig-
headed, and strangely averse to progress in arts
and sciences, are yet very careful, and, moreover,
much more ancient observers of the starry heavens
than you Europeans have bestowed upon this occa-
sional appendage the much more appropriate and
significant name of brush or pencil of light. The
nebulous haze which invariably surrounds the
nucleus of members of our family is called the coma,
from a Greek word signifying hair ; some fancied
resemblance of the nebulous matter composing this
coma and the tail, has gained us the name of comets,
or hairy stars. Now, though rather put out by M.
200 A TALE OF A COMET.
Babinet's most unceremonious and very unhand-
some statement respecting the extreme " flimsi-
ness" of our material structure, I am yet bound
to confess that there is, unfortunately, a great deal
of truth in it. Leaving altogether out of the ques-
tion the physical constitution of what is termed
our tail, which truly immeasurably exceeds in
tenuity the atmosphere surrounding your earth, I
must even " plead guilty" to the charge of extreme
" light-headedness" brought against us. I would
deny it if I could, but I know it would be of no use ; as
you are but too well aware that even the faintest
stars can often be distinctly seen, without any per-
ceptible diminution of their lustre, through the very
centre of our heads, which, considering the enor-
mous bulk, for instance, of my brother's head of
1811 exceeding that of your earth in the propor-
tion of 4,000,000 to 1 most clearly shows that the
matter composing it must possess an extreme degree
of tenuity. If additional proof were required of
this patent fact, it might be found in the almost
imperceptible power of attraction which we, even of
the largest magnitudes, exercise upon Jupiter and
other planets, or even upon their satellites, and
those still smaller atomic mites, the planetoids, when
we accidentally cross them in their orbits. Jupiter
more especially, who seems to have a peculiar knack
of being always, somehow or other, in the way of
some of us, is not in the least affected by pretty
near contact with our immense bulk, and actually
A TALE OF A COMET. 201
often manages to thrust us right out of our orbits
a feat which even the wretched little planetoids, of
whom myriads might find room in the head, millions
in the tail, of one of us, have sometimes succeeded in
performing. I would not, however, have you be-
lieve that we are mere " visible nothings" the
" airy offspring of vapour and the sun ;" however
so attenuated the material composing us may be,
still it is ponderable matter ; and there can be no
doubt but that in some of us at least, the nucleus
consists of a solid body of appreciable density, a
direct collision with which it would not be over wise
in any planet to court. Not that I want to frighten
you about the possibility of such a collision with
your earth ; your wise men have cleverly calculated
that there are about 300,000,000 chances against a
contingency of the kind. Moreover, depend upon
it, none of us is likely ever to seek the chance of a
brush against your earth or any other planet and
that for a sufficient reason of our own. You re-
member, perhaps, one of your very clever men
who, however, for all that, are by no means exempt
from occasional mistakes Mr. George Stephenson,
whose genius has enabled you, poor little mites, to
crawl at a somewhat less snailly pace than of old
over the surface of your cheese, once said, in reply to
a question addressed to him as to whether it might
not be awkward if a cow were to happen to stray on
a line of rails, right in the way of a rapidly-advancing
train, "Yes, very awkward for the coo!" Expe-
202 A TALE OF A COMET.
rience has since but too often and too clearly proved
that an event of the kind may be equally " awk-
ward" for the train as for the cow ; and we, who
are much wiser in our generation, have really 110
notion of tempting the chances of a collision that
might prove equally fatal to the two bodies.
I may here briefly observe, that the material of
which we are composed is not luminous in itself,
but is illuminated by the sun of this, or, in the case
of those of us who soar into the immensity of space,
some other solar system.
We are most capricious and mutable in the forms
which we assume, though, as a general rule, our
heads mostly affect the globular or spheroidal shape.
The magnificent luminous appendages or tails which
many of \is proudly display, are sometimes straight,
and sometimes curved like a scimitar. With some
of us this vapoury train of light attains an immense
apparent length. Thus, for instance, my brother
comet of 1811 which, by-the-bye, when first seen,
possessed no visible tail speedily threw out a
luminous appendage covering some 25 degrees of
heaven, or some 130,000,000 of miles. My own
tail stretches some 11 degrees beyond this; that of
my brother of 371 B.C., Aristotle tells you, occupied
some 60 degrees of the heavens ; that of the Comet
of 1680 covered between 70 and 90 degrees; and
that of the Comet of 1618 is stated to have extended
to 1 04 degrees in length !
Some of us exhibit more than one tail. My
A TALE OF A COMET. 203
brother of 1744, for instance, had no less than six,
spread out like an immense fan, extending to a dis-
tance of nearly 30 degrees in length. I have just
now mentioned that my brother of 1811 was not
at first provided with an appendage of luminous
vapour. This is often the case with us. Thus the
great Comet of 1843 showed at its first appearance
simply a nucleus, surrounded by a coma; but it
speedily set about supplying the deficiency, and in
less than twenty days managed to throw out a most
magnificent tail, measuring two hundred millions
of miles, which was generated, accordingly, at the
rate of 10,000,000 miles a day, the matter composing
it being propelled through space with a velocity of
115 miles per second, which is nearly six times that
of the earth in its orbit, and two hundred and fifty
times greater than that of a cannon-ball !
You are already aware, so I need hardly tell you,
that we are all of our family most eccentric in
our motions. To superficial observation we would
indeed seem to be careering with mad capricious-
ness along the great highway of space. But if you
watch our motions more closely, you will find that
there is the strictest method in this apparent mad-
ness of our movements, and that we obey the same
universal law of attraction and gravitation as the
other celestial bodies some of us moving about the
sun in parabolic orbits, or at least in ellipses of
various degrees of eccentricity, and returning in
determinate periods in the same path (unless dis-
204 A TALE OP A COMET.
turbed) ; others running off in hyperbolic orbits, to
visit other systems in the immensity of space.*
Most of us come, in fact, into this solar system from
parts of the universe extending to enormous dis-
tances beyond its limits, and after approaching
more or less near to the sun, start off again on our
journey to distances not less remote. I may, per-
haps, be permitted here to observe that, with all due
deference to M. Babinet, and his somewhat con-
temptuous opinion of us and our uses, I can safely
affirm that we subserve some better and higher
purpose in the great economy of the universe than
enabling your astronomers to verify certain natural
laws, and to pry into the mysteries of heaven. You
will not, of course, expect me to tell you what these
purposes may happen to be depend upon it, you
will find this out all in good time, by the unaided
efforts of that marvellous intelligence with which
it has pleased the Almighty to endow you. This
much, however, you may take for granted even
now, that we serve as means of communication
between system and system. May it not be, also,
that we serve to gather in our path the detritus
of old worlds, to be moulded hereafter into new
* We must here assume the reader to know that an ellipse
whose major axis is of infinite length, is said to degenerate
into a parabola. The parabola is that conic section which
forms the limit between the ellipse on the one hand, which
returns into itself, and the hyperbola on the other, which
runs out to infinity.
A TALE OF A COMET. 205
spheres ? that we serve to cany to the suns of this
and other systems the ardent fires with which we
get impregnated in our passage near Sirius and
myriads of other suns 1 that we serve to waft
beings that have passed their probation, from worlds
immeasurably brighter than yours, to spheres infi-
nitely more glorious than theirs 1 What a bound-
less field of speculation is open here to the human
mind ! of exalted speculation, such as may befit the
grandeur of the subject, and the vast intellectual
powers of man, and may henceforward take the
place of the absurd notions of our influence for
good or evil to which the superstitious feelings of
mankind in the darker ages, and even in more
modern and " enlightened" times, had given birth.
It seems hardly credible now that our apparition
in the heavens should ever, at any period of time,
have been almost universally regarded with feelings
of awe and terror, and that to us should have been
ascribed the most malignant influences, and a most
astonishing diversity of effects, physical, physiolo-
gical, social, and political. And passing strange
that even men like Johannes Kepler should not
have been entirely free from this weakness ! Seneca
alone among ancient philosophers dared to oppose
his powerful logic to the superstitious ideas which
his age, and the ages that had preceded it, enter-
tained with regard to our apparition in the heavens.
He, that marvellous double and counterpart of
the great British philosopher of a later period
206 A TALE OF A COMET.
Bacon, equally wise, equally mean declared that
we moved regularly in orbits fixed by natural laws,
and expressed his conviction that posterity would
one day stand aghast at the blindness of his age,
which could ignore or disregard facts so clear and
One of the brightest of our family so bright,
indeed, as to be plainly visible in the daytime,
happening to make its appearance in the year 44 or
43 B.C., a short time before or after the assassination
of Csesar was held to have, if not actually brought
about the death of the aspiring dictator, at all
events predicted or attended it as if the heavens
would be likely to take an interest in the life or
death of such a " thing of blood and mire !"
Another Comet the first whose orbit was calcu-
lated, in 1682, by your illustrious Edmund Halley,
whose name it bears, and will hand down to the
remotest ages had, at one of its former appearances,
in June, 1456, spread terror throughout Europe.
It was regarded as a most powerful ally of the
Turkish Sultan, Mohammed II., who had taken
Constantinople, and threatened to overrun Christian
Europe with his victorious armies. Pope Calixtus
II. thought it high time to come to the aid of his
sorely-pressed flock, and launched the thunders of
the Vatican against the celestial visitor, who there-
upon (in due course of time) disappeared from the
heavens ; the Pope, in order to perpetuate this
startling manifestation of the power of the Church,
A TALE OF A COMET. 207
decreeing and ordaining the bells to be rung at noon,
a custom observed to the present day in Catholic
countries. What a curious commentary this doth
afford on the "infallibility" which the Bishops of
Rome dare arrogate to themselves !
Another of my brethren the very one, in fact,
whom you have been so anxiously expecting to reap-
pear ever since February, 1848, but who, according to
Bomme's calculation, will only rejoice you sometime
about I860 by a sight of his splendid dimensions
terrified the Emperor Charles V., in 1556, into con-
summating the abdication of all his earthly crowns,
and retirement to a monk's cell in the cloister of St.
Justus, in Spain, where he who, in the pride and
arrogance of power, had sought, though vainly
indeed, to make the millions who obeyed his sceptre
conform to his own most narrow and bigoted reli-
gious creed, and in his presumptuous vanity had
imagined that Heaven's Great Lord had condescended
to send a comet by way of special messenger to
him, discovered, though unfortunately rather too
late, that he could not even make two clocks strike
alike and at the same time, and felt humbled to
the dust thereat.
But enough of these instances of the presumption
and folly of your kind, which yet are, perhaps,
less insulting, after all, to the dignity of our family
than the notion that we occasionally take a delight
in killing cats, as the splendid Comet of 1668 was
accused of doing in Westphalia ; or blinding flies,
208 A TALE OF A COMET.
destroying wasps, and cursing poor Whitechapel
shoemakers with four babies at a birth ! or destroy-
ing cities by an earthquake, knocking down steeple
clocks in Scotland, and indulging in other undignified
vagaries of the kind !
I have some personal reason, if I may be allowed
the expression, to take a special interest in the fair
fame of the Comet of 1668, as there would appear
to be some chance that I may in the end turn out
to be identical with that splendid object, to whom
a period of 16 years has been assigned, and whose
last recorded appearance bears date 1843. Mind, I
do not mean to assei't anything positive about this
matter, which resolves itself simply into a question
of identity. I know that there is an individual of
your species waiting for me now at the Cape of
Good Hope, who will bring his powerful reflector,
and equally powerful intellect, to bear upon me ;
and you may well afford to wait till next spring,
when you will most probably learn from that
quarter whether lam the real Simon Pure of 1668,
with a period of 1 6 years, or have a period of some-
thing like 150 times as long. At all events, surely,
where learned astronomers disagree, you would not
ask a poor Comet like me to decide !
Even so recently as 1829, a most learned Eng-
lish medical practitioner, a Mr. T. Forster, made
a fierce onslaught on the character of Comets
in general, to whom he ascribes all imaginable ma-
lignant influences, such as epidemic diseases of all
A TALE OF A COMET. 209
kinds, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods,
droughts, and famines !
Now, you may believe me, my little friends, we
are entirely innocent of these dreadful charges
brought against us ; and I grieve to add, we cannot
properly claim credit either for the glorious seasons
that will occasionally coincide with our appearance,
and for the splendid harvests of corn and wine pro-
duced therein. It would unquestionably have been
a proud distinction for me to have had my name asso-
ciated, as was that of my illustrious predecessor of
1811, with the wine of this most splendid and
abundant year 1858 ; but truth will not be trifled
with : careful statistical researches and comparisons
of thermal and cometary observations, extending
over a period of a century, have but too fully esta-
blished the conclusion that we can claim no influ-
ence whatsoever on the temperature of the seasons.
It is your Mr. Arago who has dealt us this heavy
blow and great discouragement.
I will now, in conclusion, add a few more words
about some of the most remarkable of my brethren,
whose periods have been fixed with more or less
The most remarkable of these is the great Comet
known by .the name of Halley's, from the -circum-
stance of that illustrious geometer, as has already
been mentioned, having predicted its return. The
immortal Newton having demonstrated the possi-
bility of any conic section whatever being described
210 A TALE OP A COMET.
about the sun, by a body revolving under the domi-
nion of the law of gravitation, applied his theory to
the great Comet of 1680 with the most complete
success. He ascertained that this Comet described
about the sun as its focus an elliptic orbit of such
exceeding eccentricity as to degenerate into a pai-a-
bola, and that in this orbit the areas described
about the sun were, as in the planetary ellipses,
proportional to the times. Two years after, in the
year 1682, Halley applied the principles of the New-
tonian theory to cometary bodies, and calculated
thereby the orbits of several ancient comets, which
led him to the discovery of a remarkable coincidence
in the elements of the orbits of certain comets
which had been observed at nearly equal intervals
of time in 1531, 1607, and 1682. After mature con-
sideration, he concluded that these comets must be
identical, returning at certain fixed periods, and
ventured to predict another return about the year
1759. Clairaut, an eminent mathematician of the
period, undertook to calculate the delay which the
return of this comet would experience from the
disturbing influence exercised upon its orbit by the
larger planets, and fixed the return for spring, 1759.
True to the appointment, the Comet made its re-
appearance on the 12th of March of that yeai*, and
once more 76 years after in October, 1835 as had
been calculated by several eminent mathematicians.
The great Comet which appeared in 1680 is sup-
posed to have a period of 575 years, and to be iden-
A TALE OF A COMET. 211
tical with the Comets seen in 1105 and 575, and
also with that seen in 44 or 43 B.C., of which
mention has already been made.
Another great Comet the one which, as I have
told you, frightened poor Charles V. in 1566, and is
expected to reappear in 1860 is held to be identical
with certain comets observed in 104, 683, 975, and
1264, to which latter attaches the reputation of
having presaged the death of Pope Urban IV., who
died on the 2nd October, just when that Comet was
making its last appearance in the heavens.
Another, again, which appeared in 1661, is sup-
posed to be the same as that seen in 243, 891, 1145,
1402, and 1532.
The Comet discovered by Olbers, in 1815, in the
constellation Musca, has a period of 74 years.
Some of our family revolve in comparatively short
periods round the sun. One of the most remark-
able of these is the one called Encke's Comet so
named from Professor Encke, x>f Berlin, who first
ascertained its periodical return. This Comet re-
volves round the sun in the short period of 3g
years; it has been observed in 1786, 1795, 1805,
1818, and regularly ever after, there being, how-
ever, a very strange and anomalous circumstance
connected with it viz., that its periods of revolution
are found to be successively and equably shorter, a
circumstance which forebodes its ultimate fall into
the sun, unless it should previously be dissipated
altogether a termination of its career by no means
212 A TALE OF A COMET.
unlikely, and to which, many members of our family
Another Comet of short period is the one called
after Mr. Biela, of Josephstadt, who, at its appa-
rition in 1826, identified it with Comets that had
appeared in 1772 and 1805. The time of its revo-
lution is about 6 1 years. It has since been observed
in 1832, 1839, 1845-6, and 1852 in the two last
years as a double Comet.*
A Comet discovered by M. Faye, in 1843, describes
an elliptic orbit in a period of 7| years, and has been
observed on its return in 1850.
Two other Comets the one discovered by De Vico,
in 1844, the other by Brorsen, in 1846 have each a
period of about 5^ years. Another, finally, disco-
vered by d' Arrest, in 1851, in the constellation
Pisces, has a period of 7 years.
Before I take my final leave of you, 1 may still
* At the return of Biela's Comet, in 1845-6, a most sin-
gular phenomenon was observed. The Comet appeared at
first, as usual, as a single body ; but on its approach towards
perihelion it was, on the 1 3th January, 1846, for the first time,
seen to be attended by another Comet considerably fainter, at
a distance of about 2'. This distance continued steadily to
increase, with a corresponding change in the comparative
brightness of the two Comets, till the companion Comet be-
came as bright as the original, and subsequently brighter,
exhibiting a star-like nucleus ; a very short time after, how-
ever, the original Comet gained again in brilliancy on its
companion, which finally disappeared some time before the
other ceased to be observed.
A TALE OF A COMET. 213
mention that, though now universally known as
" Donati's Comet," Professor Donati, of Florence,
enjoying the credit and reputation of having
"sighted" me first, on the 2nd June, 1858 a recla-
mation has been put in by Dr. Winneke, of Bonn,
who declares having discovered me as early as the
9th March ; and by Father Neslhuber, Director of
the Kremsmiinster Observatory, who professes to
have seen me in the constellation Aquila, on the
19th March. Dr. Bruhns, of Berlin, has calculated
that I complete my revolution round the sun in an
eccentric ellipse, in a period of 2,100 years; my
greatest distance from the sun, which it will take
me 1,050 years to reach, being about 31,506,000,000
And now, farewell ! till our next meeting. Me-
thinks I hear you exclaim, that this is scant and
meagre information indeed. Patience, my little
friends ; at my next appearance whenever that may
be I trust I may be in a position to tell a different
and more circumstantial and satisfactory " Tale of a
" Nor is the stream
Of purest crystal, nor the lucid air,
Though one transparent vacancy it seems,
Void of their unseen people." THOMSON.
THE revelations of the telescope are not more
astounding than those of the microscope. The
human eye can only range over a finite portion of
the universe, but aided by these magic instruments
its sphere of research is greatly augmented. The
one familiarizes the mind with the rolling orbs of
the infinitely distant world, while the other enables
us to examine the marvellous inhabitants of that
which is infinitely minute.
Single microscopes,* in the form of glass globes
containing water, were used by the ancients, and in
course of time these crystal bubbles gave place
to hemispheres of glass, and these in their turn to
lenses. The compound microscope, consisting of
* The term microscope is derived from two Greek words,
the first signifying a small object, and the latter to see or
216 THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
two lenses placed at a distance, so that the one next
the eye magnifies the enlarged image of any object
placed in front of the other, was invented by a
spectacle-maker at Middleburg, in Holland, about
the year 1590. This Dutch microscope, rudely
formed of two lenses and a wooden tube, was the
germ of the beautiful and complex instrument of
modern times. Let us now peep through this
wondrous spy-glass into the invisible world.
In a single drop of stagnant water we may dis-
cover a world of marvellous creatures, whose eccen-
tric forms baffle description. In some of these tiny
monsters it is not easy to detect any definite shape,
as their bodies are destitute of any solid support,
and seem to be composed of gelatinous matter,
which may take almost any figure. In others,
there is still a considerable variety in the forms
assumed by the same individual under different
circumstances, but the prevailing shape can be re-
cognised. In others, again, the body, although
still unprotected by any firm envelope, appears to
undergo little change in figure, except when affected
by temporary pressure. But there are many that
cannot be influenced even by pressure, their soft
bodies being inclosed in coats of flinty mail. All
these creatures move about in the water with great
rapidity, yet they have neither arms, legs, nor fins.
Their movements are performed by means of pecu-
liar processes called cilia, which resemble minute
hairs. So active are these cilia, and such restless
THE INVISIBLE WORLD. 217
little fellows are those to whom they belong, that
it is impossible to conceive a more animated scene
than that presented to the eye of the microscopic
observer in the examination of a drop of water.
The waters of the earth teem with these minute
forms of existence; but as their presence was first
detected in certain infusions of vegetable matter,
they were named Infusoria a term which they have
been allowed to retain, though it is now known
that their sphere of existence embraces all the
aqueous portions of the globe. We have said that
their quaint forms baffle description; but we will
endeavour to give the reader some idea, however
inadequate, of one or two individuals of the infu-
The smallest and the most active members of this
immense family are the Monads, which so thickly
populate the invisible world, that Ehrenberg has
declared that a selected drop of water may actually
contain as many as there are human beings upon
the surface of the great globe itself ! These minute
creatures are always in motion, and may be seen
bustling about in every part of the drop to them a
mighty sea as though their health and happiness
depended on constant exercise.
The little creatures, or rather the congeries of crea-
tures, called the Volvox, and formerly known as the
globe animalcule, is not the least remarkable of this
group. It consists of a number of monads, invested
by a common envelope, each individual maintaining
218 THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
in some mysterious way an organic connexion with
its companions. It is not easy to understand how
a number of distinct beings can move in such per-
fect unison as to be frequently mistaken for a single
animalcule. Yet so it is; this group of monads
rolls round and round the drop of water, with the
peculiar revolving or spinning movement which has
given rise to its distinctive appellation of volvox,
just as if it were a simple being. Six or eight
young volvoces may generally be seen through the
transparent envelope, from which they make their
escape when sufficiently developed to become the
envelopes of new broods.
The Rotifer a form a class even more interesting
than the monads. The animals of this class have
usually an elongated form, and are perfectly sym-
metrical on the two sides. Near the mouth we
observe one or two rows of delicate cilia, which are
frequently arranged in a circular manner; and when
they are in motion, an appearance of revolving
wheels is produced, from which the class derives its
appellation. The common wheel animalcule was
long a puzzle to philosophers, who were forced to
invent many marvellous hypotheses to explain the
motion of the pair of paddle-wheels with which
this little creature is furnished. We must not
always believe our own eyes for the two little
wheels on the anterior part of the body of this roti-
fer, which seem to be always turning round on their
axes, are really stationary. The motion is now
THE INVISIBLE WORLD. 219
allowed to be an optical illusion produced by the
motion of the two circular rows of cilia on the fore
part of the body. These cilia lash the surrounding
waters into a miniature whirlpool, into which innu-
merable animalcules are drawn, to be swallowed by
the voracious rotifer, who is provided with a for-
midable set of crushing teeth, and a most efficient
digestive apparatus. The movements of these
strange animals are active and varied. Sometimes
they will attach themselves by the tail to a fixed
object, and set their cilia in motion to entrap un-
wary monads ; then they will pack up their wheels
and swim freely through the water, or crawl along
a solid surface after the manner of a leech. Some
of the rotifera may be completely dried up and pre-
served for an indefinite time, without the loss of their
vitality. But put one of these withered animal-
cules in water, and in an hour's time you will see
him return to life, though he may have been appa-
rently dead for many years ! The multiplication of
the rotifera is extremely rapid, twenty-four hours
being a sufficient period for an individual to be born,
be developed, and to become itself a parent ! The
reader must not forget that all these wonderful facts
are related of a living being not quite the thirty-sixth
part of an inch in length a mere speck in the
visible world !
Let us pause for a moment in our examination,
to reflect upon these marvellous revelations. How
perfect are the works of the Divine Hand! Not
220 THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
long since we allowed our imagination to penetrate
the unfathomable ocean of space, wherein " God's
name is writ in worlds;" and now as we peep into
a drop of water, we find in the structure of its mar-
vellous inhabitants evidences of the same Almighty
Wisdom that conceived the harmonious arrangement
of the celestial orbs. It has been truly said, that
the smallest living object in the world is in itself,
and for the part it is destined to perform in nature,
as perfect as the largest.
The plants of the invisible world outvie the ani-
mals in strangeness and beauty. We call them
plants, though they are utterly unlike the vegetable
forms of the visible world. All these beings are
endowed with powers of motion, and were until
quite recently regarded as animals. In nature there
is no line of demarcation between the two organic
kingdoms, and these moving plants seem to form
the link which renders the chain of being complete.
The Diatomacece, or diatoms, are by far the most
abundant forms of microscopic vegetation, and we
will therefore devote some space to their considera-
tion. In shape, these beings resemble mathematical
figures of minute dimensions, rather than vegetable
organisms; and appear to us as living circles, ovals,
polygons, triangles, and stars.
The movements of the diatoms are due to the
cilia, or eyelashes, with which they are furnished;
but it is a disputed point whether these cilia act in
obedience to a will, or whether their motion is due
THE INVISIBLE WORLD. 221
to a physical force acting independently of any con-
trolling power. Adopting the latter view of ciliary
motion, a clever writer has compared the moving
diatom to a little steamer with the fires lighted and
the paddles going, but without a crew, a pilot, or a
The distinguishing peculiarity of the Diatomacecr
is, that they possess a solid framework of flint, their
vegetable matter being merely a delicate investing
membrane. The trees of the forest, having passed
through their s\iccessive stages of development,
undergo the process of decay, their constituents
being dissipated as invisible gases; but the tiny
diatoms are indestructible, and their constantly-
accumulating skeletons are gradually being depo-
sited in beds beneath the waters which cover three-
fifths of the surface of this planet.
" At first," says a celebrated naturalist, " the
effect produced by things so small thousands of
which might be contained in a drop, and millions
packed together in a cubic inch may appear of
trifling moment, when speaking of so grand an
operation as the deposition of submarine strata.
But each moment has its value in the measurement
of time, to whatever extent of ages the succession
may be prolonged; so each of these atoms has a
definite relation to space, and their constant pro-
duction and deposition will at length result in
mountains. The examination of the most ancient
of the stratified rocks, and of all others in the as-
222 THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
cending scale, and the investigation of deposits now
in the course of formation, teach us that, from the
first dawn of animated nature up to the present
hour, this prolific family has never ceased its
activity. England may boast that the sun never
sets upon her empire; but here is an ocean-realm
whose subjects are literally more numerous than
the sands of the sea. We cannot count them by
millions simply, but by hundreds of thousands of
millions. Indeed, it is futile to speak of numbers
in relation to things so uncountable. Extensive
rocky strata, chains of hills, beds of marl, almost
every description of soil, whether superficial or
raised from a great depth, contain the remains of
these little plants, in greater or less abundance.
Some tracts of country are literally built up of
their skeletons. No country is destitute of such
monuments; and in some they constitute the lead-
ing features in the structure of the soil. The world
is a vast catacomb of Diatomacece; nor is the growth
of those old dwellers on the earth diminished in its
Whether living or dead, diatoms are very beau-
tiful objects under the microscope; but it is im-
possible to give in words a distinct idea of their
complex forms and delicate markings. In the
muddy waters of the Thames we meet with some
lovely varieties. Amongst them we may find one or
two which may be roughly compared with some
* Doctor Harvey.
THE INVISIBLE WORLD. 223
familiar objects belonging to the visible world. A
many-spoked wheel, divested of its felly, will give
the reader some idea of a common diatom;* but he
must imagine the spokes to be formed of innume-
rable pieces joined together with the utmost nicety,
and to be inserted in the nave with far greater
regularity than that attainable by any human
wheelwright. Yet this delicate wheel is formed of
the hardest flint, and is so minute that its spokes
are less than the three-hundredth part of an inch
in length !
Another diatom has the appearance of a piece of
lace edging, with crossing threads and oval openings
arranged in a beautiful and perfectly regular pat-
tern. t Another resembles a chain of flat beads, or
rather, an open bracelet formed of oblong tablets.
This simile, however, is far from being perfect; for
the living tablets of the diatom are neither strung
upon threads, nor connected by hinges, but are joined
in some inexplicable manner at their corners. J
The boat- shaped diatoms, or Naviculce, are per-
haps the most beautiful of this minute family. One
of them, an unnamed variety, has been thus de-
scribed by an anonymous writer : "The tiny bark is
a boat of cut rock-crystal, fit to float across a sea of
light; itself might almost be believed to be fashioned
out of solidified light. The central line must be the
keel; the translucent planking is clearly visible;
and around the sides are cut symmetrical notches, to
* Aaterionella. t Fragilaria. Bacillaria.
224 THE INVISIBLE WOULD.
serve as rullocks for ethereal rowers to navigate
this brilliant gondola." In Thames water, Naviculce
exist in great abundance, the most common form
being that of an Indian canoe, with a gracefully
The flint which forms the skeleton of the diatom,
and the armour of the animalcule, is withdrawn
from its solution in the waters inhabited by these
minute organisms by some mysterious operation of
the vital force. So prolific are these tiny forms of
life, that it has been estimated that a single animal-
cule can increase to such an extent during one
month, that its entire descendants can form a bed
of silica or flint twenty-five square miles in extent,
and one foot and three-quarters thick ! " As a
parallel to Archimedes," says Bischof, " who declared
he could move the earth if he had a lever long
enough, we may say : Give us a mailed animalcule,
and with it we will in a short time separate all the
carbonate of lime and silica from the ocean !"
This leads us to consider more minutely the part
played by the animals and plants of the invisible
world in the formation of the beds of rock which
form the solid crust of our globe. Twenty years
ago Professor Ehrenberg discovered a wonderful bed
of earth which was almost entirely composed of
living infusoria, and which extended to twenty, and,
in some localities, even to sixty feet in depth.
This formation is situated in Berlin, at a depth of
* Navicula hippocampus.
THE INVISIBLE WORLD. 225
about fifteen feet below the pavement of the city.
How life is sustained in this subterranean world of
infusoria is a mystery, since it is evident that the
organisms cannot come in contact with any air ex-
cept that which is contained in the water which
percolates through the mass.
This discovery was followed by others equally
astounding. A mass, more than twenty feet in
thickness, of light silicious earth, was found at
Ebsdorf, in Hanover, and, on examination by the
microscope, it appeared that this earth consisted
entirely of the minute shields of invisible infusoria.
Again, the beds of silicious marls upon which the
towns of Richmond and Petersburg, in Virginia,
are built, are now known to be almost wholly made
up of the skeletons of diatomaccee. The forms that
predominate are elegant saucer-shaped shields, ela-
borately ornamented with hexagonal spots disposed
in curves, and resembling the engine-turned sculp-
turing on a watch. They vary in size froTn the
one-hundredth to the one-thousandth of an inch in
We need not carry our microscope out of England
to discover the remains of infusoria in the earth's
crust. The white chalk which underlies or forms
the surface of the south-eastern part of England, is
a mere aggregation of microscopic shell and corals,
so minute that upwards of a million of the former
are contained in a single cubic inch of this well-
* Dr. Mantell.
226 THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
known substance. These little shells, which remind
us of those of the nautili, are the calcareous enve-
lopes of the animalcules termed foraminifera, which
abound in modern seas, and are constantly contri-
buting to the amount of sediment now forming in
the bed of the ocean. The beautiful white stone
called calcaire grassier, which furnishes the inhabi-
tants of Paris with a cheap and inexhaustible supply
of building material, has almost the same structure
as chalk ; and Professor Ansted has observed that
the capital of France, as well as the towns and
villages of the neighbouring departments, are almost
entirely built of foraminifera.
These stupendous results produced by the agency
of creatures that are separately invisible to the
naked eye, direct our thoughts to the Creator who
has thought fit to endow these living atoms with
powers that render them such important instruments
in effecting the changes in the earth's surface, which
His infinite wisdom has planned.
Let us quit the infusoria and glance with our
microscopic eye at some other marvellous objects
belonging to the invisible world. If we look through
our magic tube at the downy mould formed upon
any decaying substance, a wonderful forest of deli-
cate thread-like plants will be revealed. These
beautiful fungi will be seen to multiply and grow,
to swell and finally to burst, scattering their invi-
sible spores into the surrounding air.
If we make use of our microscope to examine the
THE INVISIBLE WOULD. 227
eggs of insects we shall have cause to wonder at
their elaborate carving and beautiful forms. It is
impossible to convey to the reader an adequate idea
of the elegant design and delicate sculpturing of some
of these insect-eggs ; few of which, be it observed,
are what is commonly termed egg-shaped. It is im-
possible to account for the strange diversities of
form in these egglets ; thus, in the small and great
peacock butterflies, which differ in little but size,
the egg of the first is a cylinder with eight promi-
nent ribs, while that of the latter is shaped like a
Florence flask and has no ribs. Why the little peacock
should escape from a barrel, and the big one from a
bottle, is a problem as yet unsolved. Here are the
eggs of four different members of the butterfly
family. To the unaided eye they appear mere un-
interesting dots, about the size of a pin's head, but
if we examine them microscopically, we shall find
that nature has spared no pains in decorating these
minute objects. One of these eggs is an elegant
turban, having a round button in the centre of the
depressed crown ; another is a very elaborate pound-
cake ; the third a fairy foot ball, covered with a
network of extremely minute hexagonal meshes ;
and the fourth is a little spherical summer-house of
rustic-work roofed with flat tiles. The last simile
is a little strained, as it is not easy to imagine a
rustic arbour shaped like a balloon, but we must
remind the reader that we meet with forms in the
invisible world that cannot be likened to any object
228 THE INVISIBLE WOULD.
that exists within the sphere of unaided vision.
The smaller insects deposit eggs that are still more
curious than those of the butterflies and moths.
The egg of the lace-fly is like an unripe cherry with
a long white transparent stem ; that of the blow-
fly like a white cucumber with longitudinal stripes ;
and that deposited by the bug has been well com-
pared to a circular game-pie with a standing crust,
the lid of which is lifted when the young one makes
its exit after hatching.
The microscope reveals many wonderful peculi-
arities of structure in the beings whose eggs we
have just examined. The coloured dust of the
butterfly's wing turns out to be feathery-scales of a
tapering form, with deeply-cut notches at their broad
end. The hairs of the bee are seen to be thickly
beset with still finer hairs. The smallest fly is
found to possess an elaborate pumping apparatus or
trunk, compared with which the pumps constructed
by man are clumsy and inefficient. The eyes of
insects are composite, each visible eye being made
up of thousands that are invisible ; no less than
twenty thousand of these minute organs have been
detected by means of the microscope in the head of
the hawk-moth. But our space is limited, and we
dare not enter any further into the subject of insect
The dust of the butterfly's wing is remarkable
enough, but the fertilizing dust or pollen that covers
the stamens of flowers, appears still more curious to
THE INVISIBLE WORLD. 229
the microscopic eye. Pollen varies greatly in dif-
ferent plants. An author, who seems to have a
happy knack of finding similes for indescribable
objects, says that the rose and poppy have pollen
like grains of wheat magnified into semi-transparent
weavers' shuttles ; that of the mallow, he tells us,
resembles cannon-balls covered with spikes ; the
fuchsia has pollen like bits of half-melted sticky
sugar-candy, with which a small quantity of horse-
hair has become entangled ; and the passion-flower
has pollen grains resembling Chinese carved ivory
The microscope has revealed strange little fissures
and cavities in minerals, the latter containing fluids,
groups of crystals, and floating balls. Even the
diamond, topaz, garnet, and other precious stones,
have these minute cavities.
Here we must stop, or our fairy-tale will wear
out the patience of the reader. We have glanced
at a few of the marvels of the invisible world
through that wonderful spy-glass which science has
recently brought to a high state of perfection, and
which day by day adds to our knowledge of minute
things. Our examination has necessarily been im-
perfect, for it would be an easier task to enumerate
all the visible objects upon the face of the earth,
than to describe the countless forms that exist in
the invisible world.
" Give me to drain the cocoa's milky bowl,
And from the palm to draw its freshening wine."
THE wonderful plants portrayed by our artist are
scarcely more wonderful than some of the vegetable
productions of this bounteous earth. The little boy
may well be astonished to see such a wonderful crop
of good things ; but if he will only stop and think
a little he will find that plum-puddings, mince-pies,
and wearing apparel do really grow, or, more strictly
speaking, they spring from the wonderful plants
which actually exist. Consider the composition of
that famous pudding which crowns the fanciful
group on the preceding page. The currants and
raisins, the sugar, almonds, and candied lemon-peel
which are its principal ingredients, are all vegetable
productions ; and the suet and eggs may be described
as animalized grass and barley, for they are formed
out of the vegetable food of the ox and the hen.
The plum-pudding tree is not half so preposterous a
conception as it appears to be at the first glance.
232 WONDERFUL PLANTS.
In the present chapter we propose to consider
some of the most striking productions of the vege-
table kingdom. We shall not attempt to preserve
any sort of order in our rapid review, but will jump
from one country to another, and throw aside all
the elaborate systems of classification that have
been devised by botanists. We will promise to
bring some wonderful plants before the reader's
notice, but we will not bind ourselves to any scien-
The imaginary plum-pudding tree naturally sug-
gests the bread-fruit of the islands of the Pacific,
that wonderful plant that bears a crop of penny
rolls. The bread-fruit is a beautiful as well as a
useful tree. Its trunk rises to a height of about
forty feet, and when full grown is from a foot to
fifteen inches in diameter. The branches come out
in a horizontal manner, becoming shorter and
shorter as they near the top. The leaves are of a
rich green, are nearly two feet long, and deeply
gashed or divided at the edges.
As for its marvellous fruit, we cannot do better
than quote the words of Captain Dampier, who first
described it in 1688. "The fruit," says this cele-
brated navigator, " grows on the boughs like apples;
it is as big as a penny loaf when wheat is at five
shillings the bushel ; it is of a round shape, and hath a
thick tough rind. When the fruit is ripe it is yellow
and soft, and the taste is sweet and pleasant. The
natives use it for bread. They gather it when full
WONDERFUL PLANTS. 233
grown, while it is green and hard ; then they bake
it in an oven which scorcheth the rind and maketh it
black ; but they scrape off the outside black crust,
and there remains a tender thin crust; and the in-
side is soft, tender, and white, like the crumb of a
penny loaf. There is neither seed nor stone in the
inside, but all of a pure substance like bread. It
must be eaten now, for if it be kept above twenty-
four hours, it grows harsh and choky, but it is very
pleasant before it is too stale. This fruit lasts in
season eight months in the year, during which the
natives eat no other sort of bread." This quaint
description is singularly accurate, and has been con-
firmed by many modern travellers. The timber of
the bread-fruit, though soft, is much used by the
natives in the construction of houses and boats;
the flowers, when dried, form a sort of tinder; the
viscous fluid that oozes from the trunk serves for
bird-lime and glue; the leaves are used for towels;
and from the inner bark a coarse kind of cloth is
made. Thus we see that food and raiment grow on
this wonderful plant.
The cabbage-palm of Surinam is another of our
wonderful plants. This gigantic tree has a stem
about seven feet in circumference at the base, which
ascends straight and tapering to a vast height, and
bears a plume of graceful foliage. The cabbage lies
concealed within the leaves that surround the top
of the trunk. It is about two or three feet loner
and as thick as a man's arm. When eaten raw, it
234 WONDERFUL PLANTS.
greatly resembles the almond in flavour, but is much
more tender and delicious. It is generally cut into
pieces, boiled, and served up with meat.
" To obtain this small portion," says Dr. Lan-
kaster, " borne on the pinnacle of the tree, and
hidden from the eye of man, the axe is applied to
the stately trunk, and this majestic lord of the moun-
tain top is laid low, to furnish a small quantity of
vegetable matter, which is eaten like cauliflower,
and which receives its distinctive name from our
lowly cabbage. Surely this rivals the tales handed
down to us of Roman epicurism !"
The reader has doubtless heard of the cow-tree of
South America, which yields an abundant supply of
milk to the Indian of the Cordilleras, and flourishes
at a vast height amid arid mountains where no cattle
can pasture. This wonderful plant has been de-
scribed by Humboldt with his characteristic spirit
and accuracy. " On the side of a thirsty rock,"
says the great traveller, " grows a tree whose
leaves are dry and husky. Its large roots peneti'ate
with difficulty through the stony soil. During
many months of the year not a shower waters its
foliage; the branches appear withered and dead;
but when its trunk is pierced, a sweet and nourish-
ing milk flows from the wound. It is at the rising
of the sun that this vegetable aliment is most
plentiful. The natives and the black slaves then
gather together from all parts with large wooden
vessels to catch the milk, which as it flows becomes
WONDERFUL PLANTS. 235
yellow, and thickens on the surface. Some make
their abundant meal at the foot of the tree which
supplies it; others carry their full vessels home to
Our reader will not question the utility of writing-
paper, though he may possibly deem this substance
of inferior importance to either bread, cabbage, or
milk. The poets and sages of antiquity did not
write their immortal works upon "foolscap," but
upon natural paper, furnished by the papyrus a
reed-like plant, growing in the waters of the Nile.
The stem of this wonderful plant is triangular, and
shoots up gracefully to the height of some fifteen or
twenty feet, its slender top bearing a tuft of thread-
The inner bark of the stem was divided into
thin plates or pellicles, each as large as the plant
would admit. These plates, which were necessarily
very narrow, were then laid side by side, with their
edges touching, on a smooth hard surface ; and then
other pieces were laid across them, so as to form a
sheet of many pieces, which required adhesion to
become one united substance. The whole was then
moistened with Nile water, and subjected to pres-
sure ; and in this manner the sheet Avas formed,
for the glutinous sap contained in the plant suf-
ficed to cement the various pieces together. The
plates procured from the central portions of the
stem were the most valuable, and were used to
form varieties of paper equivalent to our " cream-
236 WONDERFUL PLANTS.
laid" and " satin-wove" post. The papyrus must
look down upon its aquatic companions with
supreme contempt, for it can boast of a long line
of ancestors, whose delicate under-skins served to
perpetuate the sublime thoughts conceived by the
giant intellects of the past.
The fan-palm of Ceylon is another paper-tree. Its
stem attains a great height, and is surmounted by
many large palmated leaves, the lobes or divisions
of which are very long, and are arranged round a
foot-stalk, like the ribs of an umbrella. Indeed,
these compound leaves are actually used as umbrellas
by the Cingalese, a single out-spreading leaf afford-
ing ample shelter for seven or eight people. All
the religious books of the Cingalese are written, or
rather engraved, on tablets plucked from this won-
derful palm, the leaves of the book being simply the
leaflets of the tree.
The palms are all wonderful plants, from what-
ever point of view we may regard them. The
services they render man are incalculable. The
date palm gives him its nourishing fruit, the cocoa
palm its milky nuts, the sago palm its farinaceous
pith, and the Palmyra palm its sweet juice, which
becomes wine by fermentation. Then, as for useful
things that are neither eatable nor drinkable, the
palm tribe furnishes vegetable oil, wax, and ivory,
fibres that may be formed into cordage, leaves that
may be used for thatching, and timber that may
be applied to a hundred different purposes.
WONDERFUL PLANTS. 237
The wax-bearing palm is called the pashiuba,
and its peculiar form, were it remarkable for
nothing else, would entitle it to a place among
our wonderful plants. Its slender stem shoots up
to the height of some fifty or sixty feet, and is
strangely supported by a tall open cone of roots.
" But what most strikes attention in this tree,
and renders it so peculiar, is, that the roots are
almost entirely above ground. They spring out
from the stem, each one at a higher point than the
last, and extend diagonally downwards till they ap-
proach the ground, when they often divide into
many rootlets, each of which secures itself in the
soil. As fresh ones spring out from the stem, those
below become rotten and die off; and it is not an
uncommon thing to see a lofty tree supported en-
tirely by three or four roots, so that a person may
walk erect beneath them, or stand with a tree seventy
feet high growing immediately over his head. In the
forests where these trees grow, numbers of young
plants of every age may be seen, all miniature copies
of their parents, except that they seldom possess
more than three legs, which give them a strange
and almost ludicrous appearance."*
These aerial roots are not peculiar to the pa-
shiuba palm. In the mangrove, a wonderful plant
that grows on the sea-shore in tropical countries,
the trunk springs from the union of a number of
slender arches formed by the roots, whose extremi-
* Wallace's "Palms of the Amazon."
238 WONDERFUL PLANTS.
ties penetrate into the muddy soil. " The larger
arches," says Mr. Gosse, " send out secondary shoots
from their sides, which take the same curved form,
but in a direction at right angles to the former :
and thus a complex array of vaulted lines is
formed, which to the crabs that run beneath if
they were able to institute the comparison, must be
like the roof-groins of some Gothic church, supposing
the interspaces to be open to the sky."
But the wonder of wonders in this shore-loving
plant, is the premature germination of its long club-
shaped seeds. Each seed begins to grow while
hanging from the twig, gradually lengthening until
the tip reaches the soft soil, which it penetrates, and
thus roots itself. The seeds which depend from the
higher branches cannot stretch themselves out to a
sufficient length to reach the mud ; they therefore
drop as soon as they feel themselves strong enough
to commence an independent existence. In this
manner a dense forest of mangroves is speedily pro-
duced from a single trunk. Dampier has described
such a forest with his usual accuracy.
" The red mangrove," he says, " groweth com-
monly by the sea side, or by rivers or creeks. It
always grows out of many roots, about the bigness
of a man's leg, some bigger, some less, which at
about six, eight, or ten feet above the ground, join
into one trunk or body, that seems to be supported
by so many artificial stakes. Where this sort of
tree grows, it is impossible to march by reason of
WONDERFUL PLANTS. 239
these stakes, which grow so mixed one among
another, that I have, when forced to go through
them, gone half a mile, and never set my foot on
the ground, stepping from root to root."
There is a species of cane that must surely be
considered a wonderful plant, for, though no thicker
than the little finger, it is sometimes a quarter of a
mile in length. This vegetable cord is studded with
sharp prickles, by means of which it is enabled to
cling to the leaves and branches of the various trees
which it encounters in its serpentine course.
The gum-trees of the Australian forests resemble
our own timber trees in form, but their leaves, in-
stead of being extended horizontally so as to catch
the falling rain, are placed edgewise, and thus allow
the rain -drops and the sun's rays to pass between
them. Near these wonderful trees, which afford no
shelter, may be found the grass-tree, displaying
what seems to be an immense tuft of wiry grass
elevated on the summit of a dark ungainly trunk.
A number of tall spikes of blossom, resembling
bulrushes, spring from the centre of the grassy
crown, and render this wonderful plant still more
The famous banyan-tree must not be omitted, for
it would be difficult to find a plant to which the
epithet "wonderful" could be applied with greater
propriety. This sacred tree of the Hindoos attains
a prodigious size, sometimes covering an area of
nearly 2000 square yards, for its lateral branches
240 WONDERFUL PLANTS.
send down shoots which take root, till, in course of
time, a single tree becomes a vast umbrageous tent,
supported by numerous columns. The poet has
thus described this marvel of the vegetable king-
" Branching so broad along, that in the ground
The bending twigs take root ; and daughters grow
About the mother tree ; a pillared shade
High over-arched, with echoing walks between.
There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
Shelters in cool ; and tends his pasturing herds
At loop-holes cut through thickest shade."
Turn we now to plants much smaller but not less
wonderful than those we have mentioned. The
mean-looking little plant called the .Fly-trap of
Venus, is gifted with sensation which compensates
for its want of beauty. Each leaf is formed into
two halves, which move on a central hinge, and fold
up and contract on the slightest contact. The
edges are beset with spines, and the whole surface
is covered with a sticky mucilage. No sooner does
an unfortunate fly alight on one of these ticklish
leaves than the two halves spring together, and the
insect is made a prisoner. There are other irrita-
ble plants, which ought to be mentioned here. The
leaves of the sensitive mimosa shrink from the
slightest touch, while those of the Hedysarum
gyrans have a spontaneous motion, and appear to
dance about from pure buoyancy of spirits.
The pitcher-plant, with its marvellous lidded
WONDERFUL PLANTS. 241
goblet, is another member of the class wonderful ;
so is the caricature-plant, whose spotted leaves bear
such a striking resemblance to human faces. The
orchids, whose flowers mimic the forms of various
insects ; and the cacti, whose quaint shapes render
them so remarkable, ought to be included in our
review of wonderful plants; but this list must ne-
cessarily be imperfect, as the wonders of the vege-
table world are innumei-able. We have merely
selected a few striking forms of vegetable life, to
show the reader that botany, as well as the other
sciences, has its marvels.
But are not all plants wonderful ? If we examine
minutely the structure of the humblest moss, we
may discover wonders which fill the mind with
admiration and astonishment. We may fitly con-
clude this rambling chapter with an anecdote re-
lated by one of the earliest African explorers, who
found consolation, when in the depth of misery, in
the contemplation of one of the wonderful plants
with which the Creator has been pleased to deck
this beautiful earth.
" In this forlorn and almost helpless condition,"
writes Mungo Park, " when the robbers had left
me, I sat for some time looking around me with
amazement and terror; whatever way I turned,
nothing appeared but danger and difficulty. I
found myself in the midst of a vast wilderness, in
the depth of the rainy season, naked and alone, sur-
rounded by savage animals, and by men still more
242 WONDERFUL PLANTS.
savage. I was five hundred miles from any Euro-
pean settlement. All these circumstances crowded
at once on my recollection, and I confess that my
spirits began to fail me; I considered my fate as
certain, and that I had no alternative but to lie
down and perish.
" The influence of religion, however, aided and
supported me. I reflected that no human prudence
or foresight could possibly have averted my present
sufferings; I was indeed a stranger in a strange
land, yet I was still under the protecting eye of
that God who has condescended to call himself the
stranger's friend. At this moment, painful as my
reflections were, the extraordinary beauty of a small
moss caught my eye; and though the whole plant
was not larger than the top of one of my fingers, I
could not contemplate the delicate conformation of
its roots, leaves, and fruit, without admiration.
" Can that Being, thought I, who planted,
watered, and brought to perfection, in this obscure
part of the world, a thing which appears of so small
importance, look with unconcern upon the situation
and sufferings of creatures formed after his own
image? Surely not! Reflections like these would
not allow me to despair. I started up, and dis-
regarding both hunger and fatigue, travelled on-
wards, assured that relief was at hand; and I was
" The ice is here, the ice is there,
The ice is all around ;
It cracks and growls, and roars and howls,
Like noises in a swound."
THE attention of scientific men has of late been
directed to the structure and movement of glaciers,
those vast accumulations of ice that fill up the deep
valleys of mountains whose summits are covered by
perpetual snow. These glaciers form the moving
lands which we are about to consider for the edifica-
tion of our reader. The facts that we have to bring
forward relating to these " gigantic icicles" will
doubtless be new to the majority of our readers, as
they have not yet found their way into elementary
scientific treatises. In selecting our faiiy tales from
the copious budget of science, we have never lost
sight of novelty, but have endeavoured to elucidate
the most recent discoveries.
As we ascend a lofty mountain the air becomes
colder and colder, and at a certain elevation we
enter the regions of eternal snow. The vegetation
244 MOVING LANDS.
that clothes the slopes undergoes a corresponding
change, and at the margin of the snow we find
plants resembling those of the arctic circle.
In the upper regions of the ice-world water
descends from the clouds in the form of snow but
never in the form of rain. The average fall of
snow, in the region of the Swiss Alps, from 8000
to 10,000 feet above the level of the sea, has been
estimated at sixty feet, that is to say, sufficient
snow descends in one year to form a bed of this
thickness. What becomes of all this frozen water?
How is it that the mountains do not become top-
heavy 1 Be patient, gentle reader, we shall be in a
position to answer these momentous questions soon,
but at present we must confine our attention to the
structure of the snow-beds that are formed on the
vast tablelands of these elevated regions.
The snow-bed is generally called the neve, and is
formed of layers of more or less crystalline snow,
which diminish in thickness as their depth increases ;
in other words, each layer is thinner than that
immediately above it. At a certain depth these
layers can scarcely be distinguished one from
another, and still lower the substance of the neve
passes into clear ice. The separate layers repre-
sent each considerable fall of snow that has taken
place, and their gradual consolidation arises from
the percolation of water coming from above, and the
pressure of fresh strata of snow which continually
MOVING LANDS. 245
The deep valleys that radiate from the central
mass of a great mountain are invariably filled with
frozen water, and are the outlets of the frozen snow-
fields, or in the words of a clever writer, " the
glacier is a river of ice, and the neve its source."
Glaciers sometimes fill up a valley twenty miles long
by three or four broad to the depth of six hundred
feet. Although apparently solid and stationary,
they really move slowly down the valley, and carry
with them, either on the surface, frozen into their
mass, or grinding and rubbing along the bottom,
all the fragments, large and small, from blocks
many tons in weight, down to the finest sand and
mud, that rain, and ice, and the friction of the
moving glacier itself, detach from the adjacent
The glaciers of the Alps, and probably those of
other regions, descend to a vertical depth of nearly
4000 feet below the line of perpetual snow, and into
a climate much warmer than that of our own island,
before they finally melt away, and leap forth as
rivers of running water. The heap of materials
of all sorts and sizes which they deposit at their
melting extremity is called the moraine, a term
which is also applied to the lines of blocks that are
being carried along on the surface of the glacier,
the floating sticks and straws of the solid river.
Strange to say, the simple fact of the motion of
glaciers was not admitted until a comparatively
recent date, though it was well known that the
246 MOVING LANDS.
lower end of a glacier, in spite of its rapid thawing,
remained year after year at about the same point.
Were we to attempt to describe the various obser-
vations that have been made with a view to deter-
mine the rate of glacial movement, we fear we
should tax our reader's patience. Let us mention
one or two illustrative facts. In the year 1827, M.
Hugi built a very solid hut on the glacier of the
lower Aar. In 1836 this hut was 4384 feet farther
down the valley. Again, Professor Forbes gives an
interesting account of a knapsack lost by a guide
who fell into a crevass, one of those great chasms
which are often observed in glaciers, which was
recovered, ten years after, 4300 feet lower down.
These facts, were there no others, would suffice to
prove that the glaciers move onward at a slow but
The surface of the glacier is rough and crumbling,
and the traveller can walk upon it without fear of
slipping ; in some parts it is unbroken and undulat-
ing, but in others it is rent by yawning fissures
many hundred feet in depth, one set of fissures
sometimes crossing another at right angles, and so
cutting up the ice in fantastic pinnacles and towers,
that occasionally topple over with a terrific crash.
The noises that proceed from the glacier cannot be
properly described, and we can only vaguely com-
pare the mysterious rumblings, growls, and cracklings
that salute the traveller's ear to "noises in a
MOVING LANDS. 247
Various theories have been advanced to account
for the motion of glaciers. Saussure, who was the
first to observe these wonderful ice-rivers with any
attention, asserted that they advance by sliding
along their beds, which are constantly lubricated
by the melting of the lower strata of ice. But this
explanation is far from being satisfactory. Ice is
undoubtedly a very slippery substance, but it is
scarcely credible that a solid mass of ice some
twenty miles in length should glide along by rea-
son of its slipperiness.
To move the Leviathan, our engineers had to
make use of the most powerful machines ever con-
structed before they could overcome the friction
between the mighty ship and the surface upon
which it rested. But the mass of the Leviathan is
immeasurably small compared with that of the
glacier ; indeed, the river of ice might siipport a
number of such ships, and still move onward at its
usual speed. Now, in spite of the lubricating fluid
which Saussure imagined to exist between the
glacier and its rocky bed, the friction must be im-
mense, and we can scarcely reconcile the steady
movement of the frozen mass with the operation of
such a powerful retarding force.
Again, it may be asked, how does the huge
icicle adapt itself to the irregular form of the valley
through which it travels ] A solid mass of ice,
however large, might possibly slide along a per-
fectly straight channel, but mere slipperiness would
248 MOVING LANDS.
not enable it to pass through a tortuous valley.
The diameter of the great basin of the Glacier de
Talefre, on the range of Mont Blanc, is six times
as great as the outlet through which the frozen
stream eventually squeezes itself. Saussure's ex-
planation throws no light upon this point, and it is
quite plain that the philosopher had failed to hit
upon the true theory of glacier motion.
We will pass over the theory of M. Agassiz, which
was founded on a radical error, and proceed to con-
sider that advanced by Professor James Forbes of
Edinburgh. In 1842, this celebrated geologist under-
took an extensive series of observations ; from which
dates the commencement of all sound and accurate
knowledge respecting our moving lands. The laws
of glacier motion were established by a few simple
observations. He showed that the glacier moves
onward with sxich regularity that it is almost possi-
ble to tell the hour by the progress of a point placed
on the surface; but that the motion is less rapid in
summer than in winter, in damp than in dry weather,
at night than during the day. The different parts
of the same glacier do not advance at a uniform
rate, and the centre invariably moves more rapidly
than the sides. If a series of points be laid out in.
a straight line across the glacier, they will be rapidly
bent into the form of a regular curve, by the gra-
dual decrease of velocity from the centre to the
sides. Further observations in subsequent seasons
proved that the upper part of the glacier moves
faster than that near to the bottom.
MOVING LANDS. 249
These observations established the strange and
unexpected conclusion, that the ice of glaciers,
though apparently hard and brittle, can be bent and
moulded under the enormous pressure of its own
weight, and that instead of moving like an ordinary
solid, it flows down the valley just as a viscous sub-
stance, such as partially melted pitch, would flow.
Professor Forbes actually attributed this manner of
motion to a slight degree of plasticity or a demi-
semi-fluidity in the ice mass, and announced his
new theory of glacier motion in these words : " A
glacier is an imperfect fluid, or a viscous body, which
is urged down slopes of a certain inclination by the
mutual pressure of its parts."
Our moving lands are thus robbed of their solidity,
and become mere sluggish rivers of a marvellous
sticky fluid, which we are unable to define with
anything like accuracy,
" For the ice it isn't water, and the water isn't free,
And we cannot say that anything is as it ought to be."
But are we quite sure that the viscous theory is the
only possible explanation of glacier motion? It is
quite certain " that the manner of movement of the
surface of a glacier coincides with the manner of
motion of a viscous or semi-fluid body," but we have
many reasons for doubting the viscosity of glacier ice.
The yawning crevasses, the fantastic towers, and the
perpetual crackling noise of a glacier, would seem
to prove that it is formed of a very brittle material.
But a substance cannot be brittle and viscous at the
250 MOVING LANDS.
same time, and we are quite at a loss to explain how
it is that the motion of a mass of ice conforms to
that of an imperfect fluid.
Professor Tyndall has recently cleared up the
mystery, and has shown that ice may be plastic
without being viscous. Some time ago, Professor
Faraday discovered that two pieces of ice when
placed in contact, would freeze together, even under
hot water, and that any number of fragments would
unite into a solid mass, provided sufficient pressure
were applied to bring their surfaces together. The
plasticity of ice has since been established beyond
all question by the beautiful experiments of the
younger philosopher. Spheres of ice have been
flattened into cakes, cakes have been formed into
transparent lenses, a block of ice has been moulded
into a crystal cup, and a straight bar six inches long
has been bent into a semi-ring. Ice can be forced
into a mould and made to take what shape we please,
not because it is an imperfect fluid like plaster of
Paris, but because it possesses the peculiar property
of re-uniting by the contact of adjoining surfaces,
after having been broken into fragments. In for-
cing a cube of ice into a cup-shaped mould, we crush
it to a powder, but the particles composing this
powder immediately freeze together again into a
solid and transparent cup. The plasticity of ice may
therefore be explained as the effect of breakage and
re-freezing, or in scientific language, fracture and
MOVING LANDS. 251
This strange property of ice fully accounts for its
obedience to the law of glacier motion discovered
by Professor Forbes. "All the phenomena of
motion," says Tyndall, " on which the idea of visco-
sity has been based are brought by such experi-
ments as the above into harmony with the demon-
strable property of ice. In virtue of this property
the glacier accommodates itself to its bed, while
preserving its general continuity; crevasses are
closed up ; and the broken ice of a cascade, such as
that of the Talefre or the Rhone, is re-compacted
into a solid continuous mass.
" But if the glacier accomplishes its movements
in virtue of the incessant fracture and regelation of
its parts, such a process will be accompanied by a
crackling noise, corresponding in intensity to the
nature of the motion, and which would be absent if
the motion were that of a viscous body. It is well
known that such noises are heard, from the rudest
crashing and quaking down to the lowest decrepita-
tion, and they thus receive a satisfactory explana-
tion." The reader will now be able to comprehend
the wonderful phenomena presented by our moving
lands; a glacier does not slide along its bed like a
launching ship along her ways, nor does it flow, in
virtue of any viscous quality, like thick mud or
melted pitch ; but its motion is the result of the
minute, almost molecular, fracture and regelation
of the ice particles, which move as if they were
sand, continually thawing and re-freezing.
202 MOVING LANDS.
We have said that glaciers generally carry large
fragments of rock, which they deposit in confused
heaps at their lower extremities. It sometimes
happens, however, that a glacier descends into a
lake, or into the sea, before it melts, and large
masses of it, or icebergs, are floated off with their
freight of rock fragments. These loaded icebergs
are sometimes carried great distances before they
entirely dissolve, and in this manner large unworn
angular blocks of rock may be dropped on the bed
of the sea hundreds of miles from their original
In many parts of Great Britain the geologist finds
heaps of gravel and sand containing large fragments
of rock which exactly resemble the terminal heaps
or moraines of modern glaciers. He also finds
huge blocks of rock or boulders resting upon the bare
surface of rocks of quite a different character. One
of the largest of the boulders is situated at the
head of the Devil's Glen, in the county of Wicklow,
its dimensions being twenty-seven feet long, by
eighteen wide, and fifteen high. It consists of
granite, and rests upon a bed of slate six or eight
miles from the granite district, a wide shallow
valley intervening. Another large boulder of
granite has recently been discovered in the chalk
near Croydon, and geologists have come to the con-
clusion that this mass of rock must have wandered
hither from the North of Europe.
These curious heaps and boulders prove that
MOVING LANDS. 253
" once upon a time " the glens of our present moun-
tains were encumbered with glaciers, and that our
low lands were entirely submerged. By the action
of these glaciers the rocks were scored and rounded,
polished and grooved, and masses of rock carried
down and heaped into moraines; while great blocks
were transported on fragments of those glaciers
which dipped into the sea and formed icebergs,
being often carried far over the shallow seas and
dropped many miles from their parent sites, gene-
rally on the banks and shallows (now the hill-tops)
which arrested the laden icebergs in their course.*
We have said that our moving lands advance
with great regularity. Let the reader glance at
the illustration which precedes this chapter, and he
will find that our artist has represented this motion
by the figure of Time using his scythe as an alpen-
stock, and sliding along with the glacier upon which
* Professor Jukes.
"Day's dazzling light annoys,
Night's darkness only joys,
The cunning gnomes, who dwell
Deep underneath earth's shell."
From the German.
REPAIR we to the home of the Gnomes to the
stalactite cavern, where Fancy may revel and Ima-
gination soar ! Where every hue of the rainbow,
every sparkle of the gem, and every metal's sheen
shall be reflected in the light of the torch we bear
in our hands !
Before us, a perspective of brilliancy ; a crystal-
line canopy overhead, which, in the torch flame,
sparkles with a myriad diamond rays, and upon
whose surface multitudes of sparry globules rival
the charms of burnished gold.
Beauty and grace displayed everywhere : in the
architecture of the stalactite columns which support
the roof; in the simulated forms of altars, trees,
and stony organ-barrels which meet our gaze on
every side ; and in the grouping of the transparent
tubes which depend from the ceiling, now hanging
256 THE GNOMES.
singly like monster icicles, now clustering into ele-
gant chandeliers, and now twirling in spiral and
festoon, imitating the most elaborate Gothic tracery.
Passing onward through antechambers and cor-
ridors of seeming porphyry and jasper, our ears are
saluted by the trickle and fall of large heavy drops
of water, the only sounds to be heard in this vast
and wonderful Gnome Palace. Now we reach a
vaulted chamber, the roof of which is sustained by
arches springing from pillars of every form and
colour. The floor is inlaid with chequered slabs ;
the walls are composed of broken and detached
masses of rock, piled one upon another in pictu-
resque irregularity ; -while high above us fantastic
forms of stalactite are arranged with a grandeur
beyond the workmanship of mortal.
"We enter another apartment still more magni-
ficent. Its walls are of purple marble, embellished
with branching sprays of rock crystal, which, on
the purple ground, assume the hue of the amethyst.
The festoons of jewelled flowers, and the brilliant
scroll-work of the ceiling ; the cascades of crystal
suddenly arrested into rigidity, and the uneven
pavement of gold and red, green and azure, under-
neath our feet, combine to produce an effect of un-
paralleled grandeur. Our eyes are dazzled by the
scene, and our footsteps are arrested by a vague
terror born of so much weird beauty, while our
mind is enthralled by its presence.
We are deep, deep down in the bowels of the
THE GNOMES. 257
earth, trespassers in the land of the creatures whom
" light annoys." Shall we extinguish our torch, and
so allow the thick darkness to fall upon us like a
pall ? Shall we restore to these subterranean
chambers their native gloom 1 And shall we in-
voke, by such an act, the presence of those weird
beings whom " darkness joys ?"
The consequence of our deed would be, not an
apparition of the gnomes, but the loss of the track by
which we entered these gorgeous caverns now grim
and gloomy. Our danger would thus be in the
absence of living creatures, and not in their pre-
sence. Science, which wars against ignorance on
the earth above, has descended to these depths to
strike the sceptre from the hand of the Gnome
King, and to banish his subjects to the mysterious
regions of No-man's-land, leaving only these jewelled
caves to astonish and delight us.
The old story-tellers, whose rich and active fancy
peopled the air with sylphs, and the waters with
nymphs, created the gnomes to be the guardians of
the untold wealth of these subterranean realms.
Queer little fellows were these underground people,
and wonderful stories have been related of them.
In the night, when mortals were fast asleep, they
would sometimes ascend to the moon-lit surface of
the earth, and dance about the hills till cock-crow.
Some say that they had no music but howling and
whimpering, and that the sounds which proceeded
from their midnight assemblies were often mistaken
258 THE GNOMES.
for the cries of children and the mewing of cats.
They were jet black and hideously ugly, having
misshapen bodies, large heads, and great round eyes,
always red as if from weeping ; nor was their ill-
favoured appearance redeemed by a sweetness of
disposition, as they were invariably crabbed and
malicious. We are told that they were cunning
workers in metals, and that the swords manufac-
tured by them, were as flexible as rushes, and as
hard as diamonds. The gnomes figured in our
illustration must be the last of their race ; indeed,
we are inclined to believe that those quaint dwarfs
are merely creations of our artist's fancy.
The reader, however, must not suppose that the
description we have given of the Gnome Palace is
the offspring of imagination. Such caverns do
really exist beneath the surface of this planet, and
their fantastic architecture is the result of the per-
colation of water through limestone ; their pillars,
arches, and stony icicles having been moulded
out of the calcareous matter which the fluid dis-
solved while infiltrating through the fissures and
cavities of overlying beds of rock.
The Grotto of Antiparos, in the Grecian Archi-
pelago, is a gnome palace quite as wonderful as that
we have just pictured. Countless stalactites depend-
ing from above, together with an indescribable
accumulation of crystallized masses on the walls,
ornament a chamber with an arched roof upwards
of one hundred and twenty feat in length. The
THE GNOMES. 259
floor of this cavern is paved with polished marble
of a delicate green colour, and the columns which
appear to support the roof seem to be formed of a
deep burning-red porphyry. But this cavern is
merely the entrance-hall of the subterranean palaces ;
the principal apartment or throne-room is incom-
parably more gorgeous. At a depth of fifteen hun-
dred feet below the surface of the earth, the traveller
finds himself in a grotto whose height is one hun-
dred feet, while it extends to a length of three
hundred and forty feet. Here the pillars are of
yellow marble; petrifactions resembling snakes,
trees, and shrubs abound; and in some places icicles
of pure white glistening marble depend from the
roof, to a length of ten feet. The tales told of this
awe-inspiring gnome palace have assumed the tone
of the wildest romance; and its diamond-spangled
caves and walls of ruby have been described with
all the vividness of over-wrought imagination.
Nevertheless, all this wondrous architecture all
these wild and fantastic forms, and every phe-
nomenon attending the production of the roofs,
sides, and floors of these caverns, can be accounted
for, as we have said, by the percolation of water, clear
as crystal, but charged with calcareous material.
In these caverns we discover stalactites in every
stage of growth, and are thus enabled to conceive
how a single specimen is formed. A drop of water
holding a quantity of limestone in solution hangs
from the roof, and as the fluid evaporates the cal-
260 THE GNOMES.
careous matter is left behind. In course of time a
little conical button of spar is formed ; and as fresh,
matter is constantly being deposited from the water
which trickles over it, this button gradually assumes
the form of a long stony icicle. Again, the water
that falls upon the floor of the cavern, instead of
hollowing out a cup-shaped cavity by its continued
action during long ages, gradually builds up the
accumulation termed the stalagmite, which, rising
from the floor, eventually meets the descending
stalactite, and thus helps to form a graceful column.
When the lapidifying water oozes through a long
joint or crevice in the roof, it forms a beautiful
transparent curtain of spar; and when it percolates
through the sides of the cave, it deposits its cal-
careous particles in the form of a frozen cascade.
All the sparry ornaments of these underground
palaces were formerly held to be the handiwork of
the gnomes ; and in the present day, those " vacant
of our glorious gains" in knowledge, would doubt-
less regard this opinion with more favour than that
which ascribes the fantastic architecture of the
caverns to the formative power of a myriad trickling
drops of water.
Out of Gnome-land, solid marble is deposited by
exactly the same process, wherever water holding
carbonate of lime in solution is brought into cir-
cumstances favourable to rapid evaporation. Sticks
and twigs hanging over brooks often become coated
with calcareous matter; and the incrustation of
THE GNOMES. 261
birds' nests, medallions, moss, and even old wigs,
by the action of the petrifying springs of Derby-
shire, is known to every one who has visited that
romantic and interesting county.
In Italy large masses of solid and beautiful
travertine* are deposited by some of the springs;
and in the famous Lake of the Solfatara, the forma-
tion of this stone is so rapid, that insects as well as
the plants and shell-fish are frequently incrusted
and destroyed. A considerable number of edifices
in Italy, both ancient and modern, are constructed
of stone thus formed. The Cyclopean walls and
temples of Paestum, and the Colosseum at Rome,
are built of huge blocks of travertine, which must
have been deposited particle by particle, in lakes
similar to that of the Solfatara.
But the most remarkable instance of the rapid
formation of marble occurs in Persia. The beau-
tiful transparent stone called Tabreez marble is
formed by deposition from the water of a celebrated
spring which rises near Maragha. Here the process
of petrifaction may be traced from its first beginning
to its termination. In one part the water is per-
fectly clear ; in another dark, muddy, and stagnant ;
in a third it is quite black, and very thick; while
in the last stage it is as white as snow. The petri-
fied ponds look like frozen water; a stone thrown
upon them breaks the crust, and a black fluid
* The term travertine is derived from the Tiber, its literal
signification being Tiber-stone.
262 THE GNOMES.
exudes through the opening; but when the process
of petrifaction has reached a certain stage, a man
may walk upon the surface without wetting his
shoes. The stony mass is finely laminated, and a
section of it resembles an accumulation of sheets of
coarse paper. Such is the constant tendency of this
water to solidify, that the very bubbles on its sur-
face become hard, as if, by a stroke of magic, they
had been arrested and metamorphosed into marble.
Return we to our subterranean regions, promising
that Ave will not ascend to the surface again unless
such a course should appear absolutely necessary to
the elucidation of our subject. In Gnome-land there
are other wonders besides the capacious caverns,
with their glancing roofs and walls and cluster-
ing stalactite columns. The hidden treasures of
the earth or, in more ordinary language, " the
bowels of the earth" are only to be exceeded in
their wondrous accumulation and occurrence by
their vastness and value. The gnomes were for-
merly held to be the legitimate guardians of these
treasures; and for the sake of our fairy tale, we
will suppose this view to be founded on facts. As
mere story-tellers, we may create just as many
giants, fairies, or gnomes as we please, even though
we think fit to destroy them afterwards. Let us
therefore people our stalactite cavern with elves
like those to which our artist's fancy has given
What a wonderful scene meets our mental vision !
THE GNOMES. 263
The grotto is filled with active little beings, all
busily employed in different operations connected
with mining and metallurgy. On every side there
are miniature forges, and the ceaseless clatter of
innumerable tiny hammers is absolutely deafening.
Each little smith wields his sledge with a super-
human energy, and never seems to require rest.
Some of the gnomes are digging holes in the marble
floor, and others are carrying away the excavated
material in little wheelbarrows, the like of which
would make a toyman's fortune. In one part of
the cave a crowd of miners are very hard at work
with spade and pickaxe, while others near them are
turning a windlass, by the action of which a little
tram is drawn up from the floor of the cavern to
the roof, and probably much higher, as it passes
through a fissure and remains out of sight for some
time. When it descends, it is either empty or
freighted with gnomes who come to relieve their
brethren at the windlass. Some of these under-
ground people are chipping shapeless minerals into
regular geometric crystals ; others are polishing
fragments of spar; others are casting metals into
beautiful arborescent forms. To describe all the
various occupations of these elves would take up
too much time, and we are therefore compelled to
leave much to the reader's imagination.
The poet tells us that " dazzling light annoys"
the gnomes, but this statement is far from being
true. The cavern is illuminated not by torches or
264 THE GNOMES.
candles, but by the crystals with which its walls
and roof are studded. Each crystal is a lamp, every
cluster a dazzling chandelier, and the scintillation
of myriads of these natural lamps, produces an effect
of indescribable brilliancy.
But see, here comes an aristocratic gnome, arrayed
in a tunic of asbestos, and wearing a cap formed of
precious stones. He sits on a little stalagmite, and
looks up at us with an impudent air, as though he
thought us very inferior beings. This conceited
little jackanapes has evidently something to say to
us, so we will assume a becoming gravity, and
endeavour to become attentive listeners.
" I am the chief guardian of the jewels. To me
is entrusted the care of the sparkling diamond, the
flaming ruby, the cerulean sapphire, the green
emerald, the yellow topaz, the purple-streaming
amethyst, and all the precious stones which you
mortals prize so highly." His small mightiness
pauses for a moment, probably to give us time to
form an adequate idea of his immense importance.
" As yo\i have been permitted to enter our abode,"
he continues, " I will reveal to you a few secrets
concerning the treasures I guard. You are doubt-
less aware that the diamond is merely a bit of
crystallized charcoal ; but I trust you do not think
meanly of this princely gem on that account. Were
you to estimate the value of things by their com-
position, the finest marble and the coarsest chalk
would be placed on an equality : or to choose an
THE GNOMES. 265
example from human nature, the wisest philosopher
would be no better than the greatest dunce. The
diamond is my most precious charge. It surpasses
all other gems in hardness and lustre, and its beauty
and rarity have rendered it peculiarly attractive to
you men. My richest diamond beds are situated
in the Brazils and in Bengal, but I have scattered
these gems over many parts of the world. They
may be found in alluvial deposits of sand and gravel,
lying in detached octohedral ciystals, sometimes
with plain, but rnoi'e frequently with rounded sur-
faces. When perfectly pure a diamond is as trans-
parent as a drop of the purest water, in which state
it is known to you who live overhead as a diamond
of the first water; and in proportion as it falls
short of this perfection it is said to be of the second,
third, or fourth water, till it becomes a coloured
one. Coloured diamonds are brown, yellow, green,
blue, or red, the deeper the colour the more valu-
able they are, though still inferior to those abso-
lutely colourless. Many of my largest diamonds
have fallen into the hands of man. The famous
Koh-i-noor, or Mountain of Light, was removed
from the mines of Golconda more than three hun-
dred years ago ; but, though it was thus taken out
of my keeping, I never lost sight of it, and I was
exti'emely pleased to see it pass into the possession
of the Queen of England.
" A slight sketch of the history of this remark-
able jewel may, perhaps, be interesting to you. It
266 THE GNOMES.
was first brought to light by the miners of Gol-
conda, in the year 1550, and became the property
of the reigning prince. When the Mogul princes
extended their pretensions to the sovereignty of the
Deccan, the Koh-i-noor passed from Golconda to
Delhi, where it was seen in 1665 by the French
traveller, Tavernier, who, by the extraordinary
indulgence of Aurungzebe, was permitted to handle,
examine, and weigh it. In the year 1739, Nadir
Shah, the Persian invader, seized the precious jewel
and carried it back with him ; but it was destined
to pass from Persia as quickly as that ephemeral
supremacy in virtue of which it had been acquired.
Soon after his return the Persian conqueror was
assassinated by his own subjects, and the great
diamond was carried off by Ahmed Shah.
" At the commencement of the present century,
the treasures of Ahmed were vested in Zemaun
Shah, who was deposed and imprisoned by his bro-
ther, Shah Shuja. For some time the Koh-i-noor
was missing, but at length it was discovered inge-
niously secreted in the walls of Zemaun Shah's
prison. When Shah Shuja was expelled from Cabul
by the British, he contrived to make this far-famed
diamond the companion of his flight. He found
refuge at the court of Runjeet Singh, who demanded
the jewel in return for his protection, and thus the
great diamond of the Moguls became the property
of the warlike chief of the Sikhs. You must be
aware that the Koh-i-noor formed part of the spoil
THE GNOMES. 267
taken by the English in the Sikh war ; that it
was one of the chief attractions of your Great Ex-
hibition in 1851 ; and that it has since been recut
and placed among the jewels of your queen.
" Such is the history of that marvellous gem which,
in point of size, is still without a rival, though cut-
ting has reduced it to little more than one-third of its
original weight.* You would probably like to know
something about the previous history of this stone.
I could tell you how it was originally formed, and
how it came to be deposited with the gravel and
sand of Golconda, but I have my own reasons for
keeping these matters secret. Science will one day
enable you to solve many problems connected with
the formation of gems, and will perhaps teach you
how to manufacture Koh-i-noors from coal or char-
coal. Till then I shall keep my own counsel.
" Many of the jewels under my care are com-
posed of alumina, and bear the same relation to
clay, that the diamond bears to coal. Of these
aluminous gems the rubies are the most valuable on
account of their extreme rarity, their matchless
hues, and the brilliant stars of light which they
exhibit when viewed in certain directions. The
sapphire, another of my precious charges, is merely
a blue variety of the same substance as that which,
when red, is called ruby.
" Flint, or silica, forms the base of innumerable
* In its rough state the Koh-i-noor is said to have weighed
nearly 800 carats a carat being 3& troy grains.
268 THE GNOMES.
mineral treasures. Quartz is formed of pure silica,
and is often found crystallized in beautiful six-sided
prisms, ending in six-sided pyramids. When co-
loured by slight admixtures of other substances,
such as iron and manganese, quartz goes under
various names, according to the variety and arrange-
ment of colours, crystalline form, and state of trans-
parency. When purple, it is called amethyst, and
is highly prized by you mortals ; smoky quartz is
called cairngorm; when blue, it is known as side-
rite ; and when yellow, as Scotch or Bohemian topaz.
Agate, jasper, carnelian, onyx, chalcedony and opal,
are merely varieties of the same abundant substance.
The emerald, again, one of the most esteemed gems,
is nothing but transparent flint, coloured green by
oxide of chromium.
" My time is precious, and although I have given
you but an imperfect idea of the mineral treasures
that I have to guard, I must now leave you, as my
presence is required at the diamond mines of Brazil.
The inferior gnomes under my control are conti-
nually engaged in building up new minerals, in fill-
ing empty veins with spar, in polishing crystals,
and in performing a thousand mysterious processes
of a chemical or electrical nature. It is no easy
task, I can assure you, to superintend these count-
less operations, and I need scarcely tell you that my
time is fully occupied so, farewell !" The gnome
takes off his jewelled cap, makes a low bow, and
THE GNOMES. 269
But liei'e comes another little fellow, in far more
splendid habiliments than those of the guardian of
the gems. He wears a complete suit of armour,
every plate of which is formed of a different metal.
His helmet is of gold, and surmounted by a grace-
ful plume, formed entirely of the finest conceivable
silver wire. Everything about him is metallic, and
so highly polished, that our eyes are fairly dazzled
by the apparition. As he walks towards us, his
armour makes a pleasant jingling noise ; and as he
sits down on the stalagmite vacated by his brother
gnome, we hear such a crash, that we half expect to
see the elaborate suit of metal tumble into pieces.
" I come to speak to you of the real treasures of
the earth, and not of those useless bodies misnamed
precious stones. I am the keeper of the metals,
those wonderful substances which have been such
important aids to human progress, and without
which,, indeed, any high degree of civilization were
impossible. Unlike the jewels guarded by the boast-
ful gnome who vanished as I approached, the metals
are not merely ornamental, for you must be aware
that they are essential to every process connected
with the tilling of the soil, the building of houses
and temples, the construction of roads, the manufac-
ture of clothing, the navigation of seas to every
art, in fine, which elevates man above the condition
of the brute.
"I will not attempt to describe the properties
of the various metals confided to my care, nor will
270 THE GNOMES.
I speak of the uses to which, they are applied by
man, for surely you ought to know more about
human works than a gnome. I shall merely allude
to the states in which the metals occur in these sub-
terranean regions, for you must know that they are
seldom to be met with in a state of purity." The
little man of metal now takes off his helmet, and,
drawing his tiny legs under him into a comfortable
position, speaks as follows :
" The metals nearly always occur in the crude
state of ores. These ores are sulphides, oxides, and
carbonates mingled with earthy impurities, generally
situated in fissures or rents in the rocks, which are
called veins or lodes. I may as well inform you at
once, that these fissures are produced by the uphea-
val and depression of the rocks which they tra-
verse. The internal fires of this wonderful planet
sometimes exert a force sufficient to raise vast
masses of rock, of unknown but immense thickness,
from the bottom of the sea high into the air, in
order to form dry land ; you may easily imagine,
therefore, that this force is also sufficient to crack
and rend the earth's crust in every direction, and
thus form the veins in which the metallic ores are
" The respective metals do not always lie in sepa-
rate veins, for though one metal generally predomi-
nates, three, four, or even more metals may be
strangely combined and 'intermixed in the same
veinstone ; thus, the vein which contains lead as
THE GNOMES. 271
the principal metal, frequently contains small quan-
tities of silver, zinc, and cobalt ; manganese is often
associated with iron, while platinum is usually
mixed with gold. Besides the ores of metals, these
veins almost always contain quartz, fluorspar, crys-
talline carbonate of lime, and other spars.
" Ores and spars, however, are not confined to
the deep fissures that occur in the earth's crust.
They find their way into all kinds of cracks and
cavities, whatever may have been the cause of the
hollows, and even into detached holes, often no
larger than your fist, and completely surrounded by
solid rock. Wherever, indeed, permanent hollows
and interstices of any kind, size, shape, or origin
exist in hard rocks, crystallized minerals, spars, and
ores may be formed in them.
" How do these matters reach the cavities, is a
problem which you will perhaps expect me to solve,
but if- so you will be disappointed. A number of
clever mortals are striving to arrive at the true
sohition of this mysterious question, and were I to
tell you all I know, I should be robbing some future
philosopher of the fame that will accrue from a
great discovery. I will, however, give you one or
two hints, which may help you to form some con-
ception of the mode in which the veins and isolated
cavities may be filled.
"Look around at these walls of crystal, these
pillars of porphyry, this floor of marble, and these
hanging stalactites ! All these things have been
272 THE GNOMES.
foi-med since this cavern was hollowed out by the
disturbing forces of nature. How did they find
their way hither, yo\i will perhaps ask. They
came by water, not in large masses, but particle by
particle, dissolved in the minute drops of fluid
which percolated through the rocks overhead. May
not the minerals have been introduced into the
rock-cavities by water also ? May not each de-
tached and isolated nest of minerals be a miniature
stalactite cavern 1
"If the mineral contents of veins have not been
deposited from aqueous solutions, they may have been
introduced by sublimation. Many of the metals
can be converted into vapour by intense heat ; and
provided it be possible for mineral vapours to gain
access to fissures in rocks, it is not impossible for
some of them to be condensed and deposited on the
sides of the lodes.
" Gold ranks first among the metals, though its
rarity renders it of less importance to man than
some of the less perfect ones. This kingly metal
occurs in almost every quarter of the globe, and is
obtained by the miner either in the metallic or
native state, from alluvial sands and gravels, or from
veins in combination with silver, and often mixed
with sulphides of other metals. In its native state it
occurs in small crystals, in threads, or granular
fragments, and in curiously shaped nuggets.
" Silver is a still more widely disseminated pro-
duct of nature, occurring in veins in granitic moun-
THE GNOMES. 273
tains, and in the most ancient sedimentary rocks.
It is sometimes found in a native state, though less
frequently than gold.
" Iron is far more valuable than either of the so-
called precious metals, and its ores are scattered
over the crust of the globe with a beneficent profu-
sion proportionate to the utility of the metal. One
of your best authors has well remarked, that he who
first made known the use of iron may be truly
styled the father of arts and author of plenty.
"What miserable creatures you mortals would
be without this marvellous substance ! Banish the
ploughshare, the anchor, and the needle from the
world, and there would be an end to agriculture, to
navigation, and to the fashioning of clothes. You
would be reduced to the state of barbarism, and in
your naked and forlorn condition your time would
be fully occupied in seeking your scanty meal of
acorns, and in paddling about in your rude canoe,
intent upon spearing a stray fish with your wooden
lance. You would cease to be interested in ' The
Fairy Tales of Science,' and 'the long result of
time' could have no possible attraction for a hungry
savage like you.
" Copper, lead, and tin, are also estimable trea-
sures ; indeed, there is not a single metal which
has not contributed, or at any rate may not con-
tribute, to man's comfort and happiness. Look upon
me as the friend of the human race, for it is I who
superintend the filling of the veins with ores, and
274 THE GNOMES.
all the metallurgical operations of nature's labo-
ratory. But here is another gnome who, despite
his ugliness, has quite as great a claim to your re-
spect as I have. I leave you with him." So saying,
the armour-clad spirit vanishes in a most myste-
rious manner, before we can shape our grateful
thoughts into words.
The gnome who now seats himself on the sparry
throne is a sombre-looking little imp, with some-
thing so repulsive, and at the same time something
so ludicrous, in his whole appearance, that we are
undecided whether we ought to run away or burst
out laughing. His ugly face wears a very comical
expression, and is as black as je't. His crooked
body is clothed in a suit of shining black ; his legs
are black, his feet are black ; in fine, he is black all
over. But what renders this strange being so ter-
rible, is a circle of flames which surrounds his head
and forms a sort of fiery crown.
" I am the gnome of the coal-measures," says the
little blackamoor ; " those wondrous accumulations
of ancient vegetable matter that abound in these
subterranean realms. I need not tell you that
coal is one of the greatest treasures hidden in the
bowels of the earth. By it man heats his apart-
ments, cooks his food, fuses the metals, and produces
steam, which sets all kinds of machinery in motion.
With it he feeds his iron horses, which drag him
from place to place with the velocity of the wind ;
and with it he raises an agent that propels his ships
along the pathless deep against wind and tide.
THE GNOMES. 27-5
" You are familiar with the general aspect and
nature of coal, and are doubtless aware that it is
almost wholly composed of the element, carbon.
Were I to describe the immense varieties of coal
that occur in nature, you would not thank me for
my trouble, and would probably fall asleep long
before I reached the end of my list. These diffe-
rent varieties of coal may, howevei*, be grouped
under three heads : anthracite, ordinary or pit coal,
and brown coal or lignite.
" Anthracite is a natural coke or charcoal, and
may be regarded as the most completely mineralized
form of coal. If you handle a piece of this sub-
stance, you will find that it does not soil the fingers
like ordinary coal, that it is much heavier, and that
it has a glistening and serai-metallic aspect. It is
not easily ignited, but when burning gives out a
fierce heat, and neither flames nor smokes.
" Ordinary coal has many varieties, which, how-
ever, may be classified into four kinds. The first
kind is called caking-coal, from its fusing or running
together on the fire, so as to form clinkers. Splint
or hard coal comes next, which is not easily broken,
nor is it easily kindled, though it affords a clear
and lasting fire when once ignited. Cherry or soft
coal, is an abundant and beautiful kind, and highly
prized by mortals. It does not cake when heated,
it can be broken with ease, and it readily catches
fire, requiring but little stirring, and giving out a
cheerful flame and heat. Another kind is called
276 THE GNOMES.
cannel coal. Ib is always compact, and does not
soil the fingers. It varies much in appearance, from
a dull earthy to a lustrous wax-like substance. The
bright shining varieties often burn away like wood,
leaving scarcely any cinders and only a little white
ash, while the duller kinds leave white masses of
ash, almost equal in size and shape to the original
lumps of coal. Jet, of which you make necklaces and
bracelets, is merely an extreme variety of cannel coal.
" Brown coal, or lignite, is a substance of compa-
ratively recent formation, and it sometimes exhibits
the structure of the plants from which it is derived,
the trunks and branches being plainly perceptible.
This brown coal is only had recourse to where there
are no older beds beneath, or where they are too far
down to be reached by the miner.
" Although you mortals are constantly consuming
vast quantities of coal in your stoves, fire-places,
and engine-furnaces, I give you my word that there
is quite enough in the earth's crust to supply all
your wants for thousands of years to come. Many
of the great coal-fields are as yet untouched, for
until the wood of a new country is used, and civi-
lization has made some progress, man never dreams
of looking for his fuel in Gnome-land."
Where have we been? To Gnome-land, or to
dream-land 1 ? The cavern and all its weird inhabi-
tants have vanished. We are sitting at our desk,
with a text-book of mineralogy open before us, the
source from which our fairy tale proceeded.
Down to the inmost core of this our mother Earth,
To the sad realm of shades, where Pluto sits enthroned,
In gloomy majesty, grim King of Death ;
And Phlegethontic rills roll waves of lurid fire
There will I lead, an thou wilt follow me. "
THEY were brethren three, sons of Old Time, who
shared among them the dominion of the world.
Jupiter, the eldest of them, assumed the supreme
rule of heaven and earth; to Neptune was given
the empire of the sea ; Pluto had assigned to his
sway the interior of the earth the realm of death.
The name of Pluto is taken from a Greek word
signifying wealth, and was therefore most appro-
priately given to the master of all the hidden trea-
sures of the earth. The Latins called the king of
the infernum, Dis i.e., Dives, the wealthy.
The gate to the dominions of Pluto was guarded
by the many-headed dog Cerberus* To get there
* Three heads only and three necks are generally given to
this marvellous beast ; Hesiod, however, the second father of
most of those creatures of the imagination, yclept the gods of
Greece, gives Cerberus fifty heads ; whilst Horace, more
bountiful still, supplies him with a hundred of these useful
278 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
you had to pass the famous River Styx, or the sad
river. Over this you were ferried by Charon, the
son of Hell and Night, for the small consideration
of an obolus* which the ancients, for this reason,
used to put in the mouths of the dead. But woe unto
those shadows whose bodies had had no burial : for
a hundred years had they to wander by the side of
the river, before they could hope to induce the grim
ferryman to carry them over. And grim he was,
this ferryman, and far from prepossessing, if the
portrait drawn of him by Virgil may be considered
a correct likeness : a frightfully ugly old man,
with glaring eyes and a bushy, matted beard ; a
dirty, dark-coloured mantle, fastened with a knot,
hanging down from his left shoulder. The River
Styx, or the Stygian Lake, as it was also called,
encircled hell in a sevenfold embrace. There dwelt
a marvellous power in the name, to which even the
highest divinities were subject. If any of the gods
swore falsely by it, a hundred years' exile from
heaven, with loss for that time of all the rights,
privileges, and other appurtenances belonging to
divinity, punished the perjurer. Four other rivers,
besides Styx, flowed through the sad realms of
Death the Acheron, the Cocytus, the Phlegeton,
and the Lethe. The Phlegeton was a lake of liquid
fire ; whoever drank of the waters of Lethe forgot
all that was past. According to the doctrine of the
* An Athenian coin, worth about five farthings of our
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 279
transmigration of souls taught by Pythagoras* in
the sixth century B.C., the souls of the departed
were made to drink the waters of Lethe, when
quitting the infernal regions to return to the surface
of the earth to animate new bodies there.
Pluto, the supreme lord and ruler over this
subterranean realm, sat here enthroned in gloomy
majesty, on a seat of ebony, a crown of the same
wood encircling his " portentous brow," and a two-
pronged sceptre in his right hand. On voyages of
inspection through his dominions, he rode in a
chariot of dark hue, drawn by four jet-black steeds.
No temples nor altars were ever raised to him by
man j no hymns ever chanted in his praise ; and
strange enough, from some tacit understanding
among the learned of all nations, evidently dictated
by some universal mysterious intuitive sense of the
" fitness of things," the starry heavens are, even to
the present day, left without a representative of his
name. Yet was he acknowledged to be a powerful
god, and trembling man would not dare to with-
hold from him the propitiatory sacrifice : the blood
* Pythagoras travelled through Egypt, Central Asia, and
Hindostan in search of knowledge. On his return he opened
a school of philosophy in Lower Italy, about the time of
Servius Tullius or of Tarquinius Superbus. He believed in
the transmigration of souls, and affirmed that he could dis-
tinctly remember several previous existences of his own. His
scholars yielded him the most implicit faith, and thought it
sufficient to reply to a controverting argument, ' ' himself
has said it."
280 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
of black rams, spilt in a pit, was the peace-offering
presented to him.
Pluto's lord high- treasurer and secretary of state
for the financial department was Plulus, the God of
Wealth, son of Jasius and Ceres. We find that the
ancient Greeks imputed to this god blindness and
folly, which in fact would appear to have been the
chief qualifications that recommended him for his
high office. He was depicted lame in his approach,
winged in his departure. Among the other high
officers of state in Pluto's court, figured more espe-
cially the three fatal sisters Clotho, who held the
spindle, and drew the thread of man's life ; LacJiesis,
who spun it; and Atropos, who cut it asunder with
her relentless scissors; the three infernal judges
Minos, the lord chief-justice of hell, the son of
Jupiter and Europa, whilom king and lawgiver of
the Cretans; and his two assistant-judges, ^Eacus,
the son of Jupiter and ^Egina ;* and RJiadamanthus,
also a Cretan lawgiver. These three presided over
the great interminable commission of oyer and
terminer, and everlasting universal jail-delivery,
held in the infernum. Before their dread tribunal
had to appear all the shades of the departed ; no
* The bestowal of the highest arid most important "offices
of state" upon the sons and nearest relatives of the chief
gods, affords a curious illustration of how thoroughly the
ancients had moulded their gods upon the model of human
nature, and made them in their own image. Thus we find
two out of three judgeships of hell given to sons of Jupiter
tout comme chez nous.
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 281
appeal from their decrees! Instant execution at-
tended their sentences. The officials upon whom
devolved the execution of the judgments given by
this model Star-chamber, were presided over by
three most unamiable females, holding lighted
torches in their hands, and with a fanciful arrange-
ment of snakes dangling round their heads, in lieu
of hair Alecto, the never resting ; Megcera, the
type of envy ; Tisiphone, the avenger of blood.
The empire of the dead was divided into two
parts Tartarus, or hell proper, and Elysium, or
the Elysean fields.
Tartarus was the place of punishment assigned to
the criminals condemned by the dark tribunal.
Here might be seen the Titans and the Giants who
had dared to " war 'gainst heaven's king ;" here Sal-
moneus of Elis, who had impiously attempted to
imitate Jupiter's thunder by rattling his torch-
lighted chariot over a bridge of brass ; here the
robber Sisyphus, condemned to the eternal fruitless
labour of rolling an immense stone to the top of a
high mountain, which it has hardly reached when
it rolls down again ; here Tityus, the giant offspring
of Earth, who had been so ill-advised as to compete
with Jupiter for the possession of Latona, but was
straightways cast down into hell by the indignant
god. Here he covered nine acres of land, as he lay
stretched on the ground, with vultures on both sides
devouring his entrails, which kept on growing afresh
as fast as they were eaten away ; here lasion, tied
with serpents to an eternally turning wheel, for
PLUTO S KINGDOM.
having dared to aspire to the favours of Juno; here
Tantalus, condemned eternally to stand in water to
the chin, and with an abundance of pleasant fruit
just at his lips, without the power of even once
satisfying his hunger or quenching his thirst a
feai'ful punishment indeed, yet well deserved, for
that he, to test the divinity of the gods, had killed
his own son Pelops, and set the limbs before them,
baked in a pie ; here the forty-nine daughters of
Danaus, who, obedient to their father's behest, had
slain their husbands on the wedding night. Hy-
permnestra alone, of the fifty daughters of the king,
had spared her husband Lynceus, and she alone was
therefore exempt from the punishment decreed to
her sisters, who were condemned to eternally and
incessantly pour water into a tub full of holes.
Elysium, on the other hand, the placid abode of
peace and contentment, was assigned for the habi-
tation of the souls of good and virtuous men, the
doers of heroic deeds, and those who had rendered
important services to humanity. Here the spirits
of the blessed wandered in serene happiness, under
a sunny and star-spangled sky, in a pure atmosphere,
over ever-blooming fields, and through ever-green
laurel groves, continuing those pursuits and occu-
pations in which they had delighted most in their
* Swedenborg, the great Scandinavian dreamer and seer,
in his account of the " other world," tells a similar tale re-
specting the pursuits and occupations of the spirits of the
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 283
Now, however so nice this pleasant little retreat,
and " fit for a goddess," it would appear that none
of these ladies could be persuaded by Pluto to share
his throne. Finding the honour of his alliance
everywhere " declined, with thanks," he took at last
the desperate step of carrying off to his subterranean
realm Proserpine, the daughter of his brother Jupi-
ter, and his sister Ceres. The bereaved mother
lighted torches on Mount jEtna, and incessantly,
both by day and night, sought for her daughter all
over the world, but in vain. Informed at last of
the whereabout of her daughter by the nymph
Arethusa, she descended to the infernum to claim
the restitution of her child, as she decidedly ob-
jected to brimstone matches. But Proserpine, won
over, most likely, to Pluto by the splendour of his
throne, showed no great eagerness to comply with
mamma's peremptory request to instantly "come
out of that ;" and poor Ceres was obliged, as a last
resource, to appeal to the justice and power of
Jupiter. He decreed that Proserpine should return
to heaven, provided she had tasted nothing in hell ;
but, unfortunately, one of those busybodies who
are always poking their noses into other people's
affairs, one Ascalaphus, son of Acheron and Orphne,
stood forward as witness on Pluto's behalf, deposing
that he had seen the lady eating seven pomegranate
seeds, as she walked in Pluto's orchard. Where-
upon, all hope of a return being gone, the angry
mother touched the luckless Ascalaphus with her
magic wand, and enriched the tribe of owls by a
284 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
new species. It would, however, appear that
Jupiter, afterwards yielding to the deep grief and
the incessant lamentations of his sister, granted
that her daughter should only live six months in
the year with her husband below, and the other six
months with the gods above.
Such as we have here endeavoured to sketch it
in a few rapid outlines, was the kingdom of Pluto
in the ideal conception of the ancient Greeks, that
nation of poets. To us, alack and alas for the
poetry of the thing to us, the sons of a hard, stern,
matter-of-fact age, a very different image presents
itself. We still make use of the name, indeed, but the
god, with all that pertained unto him, has departed
for ever and ever more. Our " Pluto's Kingdom "
is the mass of liquid fire that constitutes the inner
kernel of the earth. To us, he is the Great Fire-
King, and he and his realm are one.
It is now an almost universally received notion,
by astronomers as well as by geologists, that this
globe of ours, as indeed all other planetary bodies,
once existed in a gaseous form, and was subsequently,
by chemical combination of the gases constituting
it, and consequent evolution of heat, gradually con-
densed into a glowing, fusing mass, which being
whirled round in space, ultimately assumed, under
the conjoint action of gravity and the rotatory pro-
jecting impulse inherent in it, its present state and
orange-shaped form, the surface or "crust" gradually
cooling and hardening in process of time.
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 285
If you wish to form some intelligible conception
of the state and condition of the earth, you need
simply go to a foundry, and watch the cooling of a
cannon-ball heated to redness ; as it cools you see
the surface becoming gradually covered with pelli-
cles, or flakes of oxide of iron, whilst a touch will
speedily convince you that the heat beneath the
surface continues still unabated ; and it is only after
a certain time, when the process of cooling has ex-
tended to the inner part, that you may take up the
ball without burning your fingers. Now proceed a
little further ; take up a mass of cinder, or scoria,
that has cooled, and break it to pieces you will
find that the inside shows streaks and veins of dif-
ferent materials, and presents many cavities or holes,
called by foundrymen " honeycomb." Reflect now
that these cavities were formed in the cinder while
yet in the red-hot state, either by air or by gases.
Think that at the bottom of these cavities there
once was floating a small drop of melted matter.
Now bring your imagination into play, and let that
cinder represent the earth; the cavities subterra-
nean caverns of many hundred square miles, and
the melted drop an immense lake of liquid fire,
burning, boiling, heaving to the top, enlarging the
cavern, melting away parts of the crust nearest to
it, or swelling it up until it cracks, and forms cre-
vices and fissures for the escape of smoke, flames,
and fused matter. Here you have, also, at once, an
intelligible theory of earthquakes and volcanic erup-
286 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
It has been demonstrated by numerous observa-
tions made in mines, and by Artesian wells in various
countries, that the temperature of the earth rapidly
increases with the depth, but that the rate of aug-
mentation is different at different places in the
Northumberland coal-pits, for instance, one degree
Fahrenheit for every 44 feet in descent ; in the lead-
mines of Saxony, one degree for every 65 feet ; in
the copper -mines of Knockmahon, county of Water-
ford, one degree for every 82 feet; in the Dolcoath
mine, in Cornwall, one degree for every 78 feet.
Assuming the average increase of temperature to be
one degree of Fahrenheit for every 60 feet of depth,
and the rate of increase to remain constant, at a
depth of 60,000 feet below the surface of the earth
the temperature must stand at 1000 degrees Fah-
renheit, which is that of low red-heat. But as the
temperature will increase with the depth in an aug-
menting ratio, Leonhard assumes that the tempera-
ture of a low red-heat would be attained already at
a depth of 35,000 feet, or double the height of
Cotopaxi, the most remarkable of the Peruvian
volcanoes. Descending still lower, to depths vary-
ing from 80 to 160 miles below the surface, the
temperature would be found at that depth to exceed
12,000 degrees Fahrenheit a heat sufficient to
melt most of the known rocks. But considering
that the dense fluid portions of the earth are most
probably much better conductors of heat than the
crust, it may safely be assumed that this high
PLUTOS KINGDOM. 287
temperature is acquired at a still less depth. Were
we to proceed down to the very centre of the earth,
we should there find, supposing a regular rate of
progression in the increase of temperature, a heat
exceeding 3500 degrees of Wedgewood's pyrometer,
or something like 450,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
The solid crust of the earth is generally supposed
to be only from 60 to 100 miles thick; and it is
probably even much less ; that the thickness is very
unequal is shown by the variation of temperature,
which cannot be attributed solely to different
degrees of conductibility in different parts. The
process of cooling from the crust downwards is, of
course, still going on, but, as has been demonstrated
by Fourier, at a less rate than was formerly the
case. According to the same authority, it will
require 30,000 years to reduce the increase of tem-
perature on descending into the interior of the earth
from its present rate of one degree Fahrenheit for
every 60 feet in descent, to one-half degree. Some geo-
logical chemists have calculated from the known laws
of radiation of heat, that it would take 200,000,000
years to cool the earth to its centre !
Another point to consider is the density of the
earth. The density of the crust lies between 2'7
and 2'9 ; but we know, from most careful and accu-
rate pendulum experiments, that the average density
of the bulk of the earth is about 5 - 5. It is quite
evident, therefore, that the ponderable matter of
the interior must be very much denser than that of
288 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
the crust. The generally received notion is that,
assuming the radius of the earth to measure 4000
miles in round numbers, and dividing it into ten
equal parts of 400 miles each, the density of the
materials severally constitutiDg the ten divisions
increases in an arithmetical progression by about
1 '5 for each part, which, taking the density of the
first annular space of 400 miles at 2 '7, gives for the
second 4 '2, for the third 5 '7, and so on, the density
of the central portion being about 16 '2.
In Cordiers purely thermometrical theory as to
the nature and mode of action of the great ele-
vating force that has at successive periods raised
and broken the earth's crust, lifting up various
igneous or plutonic rocks, and forcing them into
the cracks and fissures, the central nucleus of
the earth is considered in the light of an immense
sea of molten mineral matter. As the solid crust
continues to contract as its temperature decreases
in a greater ratio than the central mass, and the
velocity of rotation increases as the diameter of the
globe shortens, a tendency will necessarily be in-
duced to additional divergence from the spherical
form, and the fluid matter within will accordingly
press against the contracting crust, and thus pro-
duce volcanic eruptions.
M. Cordier has calculated that a contraction of
T^lrBir f an i ncn i n * ne mean radius of the earth
would be sufficient to force out the matter of a
volcanic eruption. And a most wise arrangement
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 289
of the Supreme Intelligence it is, which has left
open to King Pluto these ready means of forcing
an. outlet ; and man ought to feel rather thankful
when he beholds the flaming head of the Fire King
towering above the crater of some volcano. Earth-
quakes surely are much more terrible and destruc-
tive than volcanic eruptions.
A volcano may be defined as a perpendicular
tunnel in the earth's crust, through which heated
matter from below is thrown up to the surface. The
matter thrown up may be in the form of lava, scoriae,
ashes, mud, &c. The tunnel or fissure is generally
called the chimney, vent, or chasm of the volcano.
The upper part of the chimney is called the crater ;
it always presents the form of an inverted cone, or
the shape of a funnel with the broad part upward.
A distinction is made between so-called craters of
eruption and craters of elevation.
Craters of eruption are formed by the boiling
streams of lava, the floods of hot mud, or tuf, and
the showers of ashes and cinders gathering or falling
around the mouth of the vent or chimney of a
volcano. In proportion to the continuance of the
eruption, and its repetition, successive beds of vol-
canic products will accumulate round the mouth,
and form themselves into the shape of a sugar-loaf
Craters of elevation, on the other hand, are formed
by the matter of the volcanic eruption lifting the
horizontal strata in which the crater is formed, until
290 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
the beds snap, and rest in highly inclined planes
about the mouth of the fissure.
It occurs also occasionally that both kinds of
craters are found in one mountain.
The lava in a crater may be burning and boiling
for years, without either an eruption of scoriae or
an overflow of lava taking place ; a multitude of
small conical vents are formed, however, in such
cases, which rise out of the cooled surface of the
melted lava, and incessantly emit volumes of smoke
and sulphurous vapour. A vent of this kind is
called in Europe a Fumerole or Mqffet, and in Mexico
a Hornito, or small oven. Other vents also are pro-
duced occasionally on the walls of the crater, or on
the sides of the mountain, by the jets of scoriae
thrown up accumulating in falling round the mouth
of the vent.
The number of volcanoes is very great, more than
300 of them being known to exist in the world at
the present time, of which 24 are in Europe, 11 in
Africa, 46 in Asia, 114 in America, and 108 in
Oceania. Most of the islands of the Pacific, and
many isles of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, are
also volcanic, or else composed of volcanic rocks.
The most ancient volcanoes known are Mount
Vesuvius in Italy, Mount JEtna in Sicily, and
Stromboli, one of the Lipari Islands, near Sicily.
Stromboli is always burning, which has gained it
the name of " the great lighthouse of the Medi-
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 291
Mount Vesuvius gave its first notice of action in
A.D. 73, when it did much injury to houses and
villages upon its flanks. From 73 to 79 there were
several small shocks, and in August of the latter year
occurred that awful eruption of ashes which de-
stroyed the cities of Herculaneum, Pompeii, and
Strabiae, and caused the death of the elder Pliny.
From 79 to 1036, six other eruptions of ashes, sand,
and shattered fragments of lava took place ; in the
latter year occurred the first authentic overflow of
lava, which was repeated in 1049 and 1138. After
this the mountain rested for one hundred and sixty-
eight years. Another great eruption then took
place in 1306, and a slight one in 1500, followed
by another repose, which lasted till 1631, when a
fearful eruption took place, blowing up into the air
the forest of brushwood that covered the sides of
the mountain, and the luxuriant grassy plain at the
bottom. Passing over several other eruptions of
the mountain, we come to the one in October, 1822,
which lasted nearly a month, and was attended by
a series of loud detonations and explosions. Between
1800 and 1822, the vast crater formed in 1631 was
gradually getting filled up with lava, cinders, and
ashes, the bottom presenting a rugged, rocky plain,
covered with scattered blocks of lava and heaps of
cinders. In this eruption of October, 1822, the
force from below broke up this aggregation of lava
blocks at the bottom, and hurled them all into the
air, leaving behind a tremendous chasm, above
292 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
three miles long, and three-fourths of a mile across.
The depth of this chasm was at first about 2000
feet, but as the walls of the crater continued to fall
in, it became eventually reduced to less than half
that depth. Previous to this eruption, the summit
of the cone round the crater had been 4200 feet
high ; after the eruption its elevation was found to
be reduced to 3400 feet. Another eruption took
place in 1833, and even as late as 1857 and 1858
has Mount Vesuvius given uncomfortably convincing
indications that it continues as much " alive" as ever.
Mount jEtna, in Sicily, rises 10,874 feet above
the level of the sea, of which the lower or bottom
part, to the extent of some three thousand feet, con-
sists of calcareous beds, associated with lavas and
clays ; the remaining 7000 or 8000 feet have been
formed by successive eruptions from the volcano.
The upper 1100 feet consist of the cone of the
crater, which rises from an irregular plain, about
nine miles in its circumference. The great crater
in the summit of this cone is perpetually emitting
One of the most remarkable volcanoes is that of
Kilauea, in the Sandwich Islands, which burns con-
tinually, and whose crater contains a sea of red-hot
melted lava, sometimes several miles in diameter.
The loftiest volcanoes known are those of Orizaba
in Mexico, and Antisana and Aconagua in South
America, which are from three to five miles in
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 293
Mount Jorutto, in Mexico, affords a curious illus-
tration of volca-nic action combined with extensive
elevation. This vast mountain rises in the great
plain of Malpays, which up to June, 1759, was
never suspected to be the site of a volcano, although
the basaltic hills of the neighbourhood clearly in-
dicate that the district had at some very early
period been the theatre of volcanic eruptions, which
had filled up the original valleys.
In the month of June, 1759, hollow murmurings
began to be heard, speedily attended by earthquakes,
which followed each other in rapid succession up
to the month of September. The surface-soil at last
swelled up like a large bladder, three or four miles
square ; it finally burst open in various parts, flames
issuing forth through the fissures, and burning frag-
ments of rocks being thrown up high into the air.
Six conical vents were thus formed in different
parts of the area, of which the lowest was 800 feet
high. Besides these, thousands of small cones or
bosses arose, which cracking subsequently emitted
aqueous and sulphureous vapours. These bosses are
called in the country Hornitos, or small ovens.
Towards the close of the month of September, the
vast mountain Jorullo was pushed up bodily in a
few days, by the subterranean force, to an elevation
of 1 682 feet above what had been a plain up to the
preceding month of June. The crater of Jorullo
threw out immense streams of basaltic lava, which
continued to flow till February, 1760, after which
294 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
the district resumed its former stability, though it
still remained far too hot to be habitable. In 1780,
twenty years after the outburst, the heat of the
hornitos was still so great that a cigar could readily be
lighted by plunging it two or three inches into one of
the lateral cracks. When Humboldt visited Jorullo
in 1803, forty-three years after the eruption, he
found around the base of the great cone a mass of
matter, of convex form, about 500 feet high, near
the cone, but sloping gradually as it receded from
it; this mass, which covered to the extent of four
square miles, was then still in a heated state. And
twenty-two years later, in 1825, Mr. Bullock found
the cones still smoking.
Previous to the outburst, two purling streams
had watered the plain of Malpays, the Outimbo,
and the San Pedro. These two rivers ran into the
crater, and lost themselves below at the eastern
limit of the plain, but reappeared afterwards on the
western limit as hot springs.
Among the productions of volcanoes, emitted
or ejected through their craters and vents, may be
enumerated various gases such as hydrochloric
acid gas, carbonic acid, hydrosulphuric acid, and
gases formed by the several combinations of
sulphur with oxygen ; aqueous vapour, lava, mine-
rals, cinders, stones, sand, water, mud, and ashes
which latter probably consist simply of pulverized
The quantity of ashes discharged by volcanoes
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 295
must be immense. During an eruption of Mount
Cosiguiana, a volcano in the Gulf of Fonseca, on the
shores of the Pacific, ashes fell as far as Truxillo, on
the shores of the Gulf of Mexico ; also on board a
ship at the time some 1200 miles westward of the
volcano ; and four days after the eruption, at
Kingston, in Jamaica, 700 miles eastward from it,
having travelled there by an upper current of west
wind, at the rate of 170 miles a day. For about
thirty miles to the south of this volcano, ashes
covered the ground three yards and a half deep ;
and thousands of cattle, wild animals, and birds,
perished under them.
One of the most curious productions of a volcano
is mud. The aqueous vapour emitted by the crater
being condensed by the cold atmosphere, heavy rains
are produced, which, falling upon the volcanic dust
on the sides of the mountain, form a current of mud,
generally called aqueous lava, which is more dreaded
by those dwelling in the vicinity of a volcano than
a stream of melted lava. But, after all, as this
muddy stream is not actually ejected from the crater,
but simply formed on the surface of volcanoes by
the action of water upon the erupted matter, the
term " mud volcano" is not exactly applicable in
However, in some volcanic districts mud is occa-
sionally found to ooze from the ground, and there
are also, in different parts of the globe, real mud
volcanoes, as for instance, the mud volcano of Jok-
296 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
rnali, on the peninsula of Abscheron, in the Caspian
Sea; that of Damak, in the province of Samarang,
in the island of Java; the Salses of Girgenti in
Sicily, and Sassueto in Northern Italy, &c., &c.
One of the most remarkable of this class is the
one described by Humboldt. This is situated at
Turbaco, near Carthagena, in New Grenada, South
America. It consists of some fifteen or twenty cones
from nineteen to twenty -five feet high, and measur-
ing round the base from seventy-eight to eighty-five
feet each. These cones, or Volcancitos, as they are
called in the language of the country, have a hollow
on the top, measuring from fifteen to thirty inches in
diameter, and filled in the driest seasons with muddy
water, through which air-bubbles are constantly
escaping : the temperature of the water is not higher
than that of the surrounding atmosphere.
Earthquakes are intimately connected with vol-
canoes; they often precede volcanic eruptions, and
arise from the same cause viz., from the movement
of matter in the interior of the earth; only that
their action is much more formidable and destructive,
and the changes produced by them in the globe are
much more varied and extensive. Landslips on the
sides of mountains are most frequently attributable
to them; they give rise to the formation of new
lakes, and cause old ones to disappear; islands are
swallowed up by them, and new ones arise in the
sea as by magic; parts of continents subside and
sink, and others are elevated; the relative positions
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 297
of sea and land are changed, and rivers quit their
former courses and ancient beds, seeking other
channels and forming new beds.
The action or movement of earthquakes is three-
fold vertical, horizontal, and gyratory or circular.
The vertical movement proceeds from below
upwards, and may be likened to the explosion of a
mine in a stone quarry. It produces cracks and fis-
sures in the earth's crust. In many instances, the
earth opens and closes rapidly; in others, portions
of the crust slip down into the chasm, and disappear
for ever. It was by a vertical earthquake move-
ment that the city of Messina, in Sicily, was des-
troyed in the year 1783. These vertical movements
are felt even at sea. Thus, for instance, during the
celebrated earthquake at Lisbon, in 1755, many
ships at considerable distances from the actual focus
of the movement, were violently shaken, the con-
cussion in one ship far out in the Atlantic being
so great, that the men were tossed up into the
air a foot and a half perpendicularly from the deck.
In the horizontal movement, the shock is propa-
gated in a linear direction, producing undulations
in the surface of the earth, bearing some resemblance
to the waves of the sea, and the sight of which,
curious enough, causes a swimming in the head,
These undulatory shocks in a linear direction
must of course be understood to move in waves of
great breadth as well as length. The horizontal
298 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
earthquake movement which visited Syria in 1837,
was felt in a line five hundred miles long, by ninety
In accordance with a general law in mechanics,
the undulations of horizontal earthquake movements
finish by cracking the superficial soil and strata of
the earth's crust. In the earthquake which, in
1811, convulsed the district of New Madrid, South
Carolina, the surface earth between New Madrid
and Little Prairie rose in great undulations to a
considerable height, till the earth waves burst,
when volumes of water and sand, and masses of pit-
coal, were hurled up through the crevices high into
the air; large lakes of twenty miles in extent were
on this occasion formed in the course of a single
hour, whilst some of the ancient lakes of the dis-
trict were drained and completely dried up.
As a general rule, horizontal shocks proceeding
onward unresisted, are not considered to be very
dangerous. The most terrible horizontal earth-
quakes are those where the shocks, proceeding from
two different foci of action, happen to cross each
other. A town standing on the ground at the
point of intersection of the two waves has little
chance indeed of escaping the crash and crush pro-
duced by their meeting.
In the circular or gyratory movement, the earth-
quake action moves in a circuit, sometimes very
extensive, in other, but rare instances, of very small
compass ; in the latter case, the movement proves
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 299
generally most dangerous and destructive, of which
the earthquakes at Quito, in 1797, and in Calabria,
in 1783, afford convincing illustrations. In cases of
this description it has happened that solid walls
have changed their place, with the masonry perfectly
undisturbed ; rows of trees straight and parallel
have been inflected ; and, more remarkable still,
entire fields, with different sorts of grain growing in
them, have exchanged places and crops ! Humboldt
tells us that at Riobamba, South America, destroyed
by the terrific convulsion of 1797, he was shown a
place among the ruins where the whole furniture of
one house had been carried bodily by the movement
of the earthquake under the roof of another.
As an illustration of a circular movement upon
an immense scale, may be instanced the famous
earthquake which destroyed Lisbon in November,
1 755, and afforded the great Pombal the opportunity
of erecting those solid wooden-framed stone build-
ings that have so gloriously withstood later shocks,
even up to periods so recent as November, 1855,
and November, 1858. The shock in this instance
was felt in many parts of Europe, and on the north
coast of Africa, as well as in North America and
the West Indies.
As has already been intimated, earthquakes are
generally attended with more or less extensive ele-
vation or subsidence of land. We will give here a
few instances in illustration.
In the earthquake which visited Jamaica in 1692,
300 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
several large storehouses in the harbour of Port
Royal subsided to a depth of between twenty-four
and forty-eight feet under water, apparently without
disturbing the masonry, as the buildings remained
standing, with the tops of the chimneys erect above
the water. A large tract of land around the town,
about 1000 acres in extent, subsided in less than a
minute, and was covered over by the waters of the
The fearful shock which destroyed Lima, in Peru,
in 1746, submerged the entire coast near Callao,
converting it into a bay of the sea.
In the great earthquake of 1755, the new quay, at
Lisbon, then recently built of massive and solid marble,
on which a vast number of people had collected for
safety, sank suddenly down with its living load, and
not one of the bodies ever rose to the surface again ;
and, more extraordinary still, a number of boats
and ships lying at anchor a little distance off the
quay, went suddenly down with the body of water
beneath them as into a whirlpool, and not a frag-
ment of the wrecks was ever after seen ; upon
sounding the spot afterwards, it was ascertained to
be some 600 feet deep.
Before the earthquake which visited Messina in
1783, the ground along the port of that city was
perfectly level ; after the shock it was found to slope
considerably towards the sea, the latter itself getting
deeper and deeper as the distance from the shore
increased an indication that the sloping of the
PLUTO S KINGDOM. 301
coast continued far under the water, and that ac-
cordingly the bottom of the sea must have sunk as
well as the shore.
During the same earthquake, many houses in the
streets of the town of Terra Nova, in Calabria, were
raised above their usual level, others sank down in
the ground. Near the town was a circular tower of
solid masonry ; part of this tower remained uude-
stroyed, but one side of it was lifted up by the
action of the earthquake much above the other, the
foundations of the upraised portion being laid bare
to the view ; though, strange to say, the divided walls
were found to adhere throughout as firmly to each
other, and to fit as closely, as if they had been so
constructed on purpose, and cemented together from
Towards the close of last century a remarkable
subsidence took place in North America, just above
the falls of the Columbia River. In 1807, American
travellers found here a forest of pines under water,
standing erect in the body of the river.
The most extensive elevation of land by earth-
quake is that which took place in 1822, on the coast
of Chili, South America, in which an area of about
100,000 square miles, was raised three, four, six,
and seven feet above the former level.
In 1819, a great subsidence of land took place at
the mouth of the river Indus, in Hindostan, the
bed of the river sinking eighteen feet; the sea
rushing into the mouth of the Indus, in a few hours
302 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
converted a tract of land of some 2000 square
miles area, into an inland sea. To the north-west
of the subsided district, and running in a parallel
direction with it, one of the level plains about this
region, some fifty miles in length from east to west,
and about sixteen miles wide from north to south,
was uniformly raised ten feet above the level of the
We will now dismiss this part of the subject with
a mere passing allusion to the well known changes
of level of the celebrated temple of Puzzuoli, near
Naples ; the rising and sinking of the land in Scan-
dinavia ; and submarine forests on the shores of
England, France, North America, &c. ; and will
conclude this chapter with a few brief remarks
about submarine volcanoes and extinct volcanoes.
The subterranean fires, the source and cause of
volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, act also on the
beds which form the bottom of the sea. When the
vents formed by volcanic action lie beneath the
waters of the ocean, they are called " submarine
volcanoes." The existence and action of submarine
volcanoes, long suspected and conjectured, has since
the beginning of this century been clearly proved,
by the formation of new islands above the waters
of the ocean.
The first well-ascertained instance of the eleva-
tion of a new island by a submarine eruption,
occurred in 1811, near St. Michael, in the Azores.
Various eruptions had at different times taken
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 303
place in the neighbourhood. During the latter
half of 1810, several minor shocks had been felt;
but on the 31st of January and 1st of February,
1811, the convulsion reached the highest point,
when sulphureous vapours were seen to rise out of
the sea, about two miles from the coast, and spread
in all directions ; jets of flame attended the rising
of these vapours, which was speedily followed by
columns of volcanic ashes, and other erupted mate-
rials ; in about eight days this eruption terminated,
when it was found that the bottom of the sea, pre-
viously from 300 to 500 feet deep in this spot,
had been lifted up nearly to a level with the sur-
face of the water. About four months after, on
the 13th of June, 1811, another eruption took place
about two miles and a half from the scene of the
former, which reached its greatest violence on the
17th of June, columns of ashes and smoke being
whirled up many hundred feet high above the sea.
At the close of the eruption an island became
visible, which gradually rose to a height of three
hundred feet above the sea. Captain Tillard, of the
Sabrina, visited the island, which he found rather
too hot to walk on, and gave it the name of his
vessel. It presented at one end a conical hill, and
at the other a deep crater, which sent forth jets of
flames, though it was under water at full tide. The
continued eruptions of hot stones, sand, and ashes,
from the crater, raised the conical hill at the one
side of the island eventually six hundred feet above
304 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
the sea. However, in the last days of February,
1812, the entire island sank into the sea, and dis-
appeared without leaving a vestige behind.
In July, 1818, violent spoutings and jettings of
steam and water were observed at a spot some thirty
miles to the south-west of Sicily, where the sea was
known to be 600 feet deep. On the 18th of the
month a small island made its appearance, with a
burning crater in the centre of it, ejecting ashes,
cinders, and thick volumes of smoke, and covering
the sea around with floating cinders, and shoals of
The new island rose gradually to an elevation of
nearly 200 feet above the sea ; it measured about
three miles round at the base. The crater, in its
centre, constituted a basin 600 feet in diameter,
full of dingy red water, boiling.
After having continued above the sea for nearly
three months, the island, now generally known in
the books by the name of " Graham Island" sank
gradually back into the sea ; towards the end of
October it was again nearly on a level with the sur-
face of the water ; it disappeared eventually alto-
gether, leaving behind, however, a most dangerous
reef of hard volcanic rock, just eleven feet under
water, encompassed by shoals, consisting of cinders
Another volcanic island rose on the coast of Ice-
land, during the tremendous eruption of Skaptaar
Jokul, in 1783. This island also, which was called
Nyb'e, sank afterwards down again into the sea.
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 305
Some of these volcanic islands are of a more per-
manent character ; as, for instance, the island of New
Kaineni, near Santorin, in the Grecian Archipelago,
which was raised up by a submarine volcanic erup-
tion in 1707, and continues to the present day above
There are many mountains whose summits and
depressions, though now covered with herbage, and,
in some instances, the sites of villages and cities,
bear a close resemblance to the cones and craters of
active volcanoes ; and whose constituent rocks are
decidedly volcanic. Geologists apply to such moun-
tains the term " extinct volcanoes" which, however,
is intended to signify simply that no eruption has
taken place from them for ages ; but by no means
implies that they will never be active again. Mount
Vesuvius, which at some geological era had clearly
been an active volcano, had slumbered for ages in a
state of apparent extinction, when the terrible
eruption that buried Herculaneum and Pompeii
under a sea of volcanic ashes, revealed once more
the true nature of the mountain.
In certain localities are found vents which emit
only gaseous exhalations and aqueous vapour.
Such vents or solfataras, as they are usually called,
are properly looked upon in the light of half-extinct
volcanoes, which may at any time suddenly burst
forth again with all the terrific violence of true vol-
Extinct volcanoes are found not only in volcanic
306 PLUTO'S KINGDOM.
regions, but also in places presenting, with the ex-
ception of hot wells and mineral springs, no traces
of volcanic activity within historical periods.
Among extinct volcanoes those of central France
have attracted most attention. In the districts of
Auvergne, Velay, and the Vivarais, there are seen
several hundred volcano-shaped conical hills, with
more or less perfectly-formed craters on their tops.
These conical hills are called in the language of the
country " Puys" which means mountain peaks.
They are all of them dome-shaped, varying in
height from 500 feet to 2800 feet above the level
of the plain from which they rise in an irregular
chain, thirty miles in length and two miles in
breadth ; the plain itself, some forty-five miles long
and twenty miles wide, is 1200 feet above the level
of the sea.
All the cones are formed of volcanic materials,
such as lava, sand, and cinders; and in many of them
are found well-defined craters. The highest of these
is called " Puy de Dome" It is 4000 feet above
the level of the sea ; it is composed entirely of vol-
canic materials, and has a regular crater, measuring
fifteen hundred feet round, and three hundred feet
On the top of another of these remarkable cones,
called the " Puy de Pariou," there is a very deep
extinct crater, a mile round, which is now closed
in, and covered with turf and grass. From the
lower part of this conical hill a stream of lava has
PLUTO'S KINGDOM. 307
issued, which lies there now, rugged and black,
covering the plain with volcanic cinders to the
depth of about twenty feet.
Similar extinct volcanoes are found in the south
of Sicily, the neighbourhood of Naples, Hungary,
the lower provinces of the Rhine, and the north
In England, Scotland, and Ireland, although no
such specimens of extinct volcanoes, in the form of
hills with cones and craters, are found, yet rocks of
volcanic origin abound ; and there can be no doubt
but that the remarkable basaltic rocks of Staffa and
the Giant's Causeway are the productions of an
The absence of cones and craters, and of streams
of cooled lava issuing from the bases of the basaltic
hills of the British Isles, is owing simply to the
circumstance that the eruptions of these volcanoes,
in the period of their activity, took place under the
bed of the ocean.
onterfttl f amp.
' ' Know the great genius of this land
Has many a light aerial band,
Who all, beneath his high command,
As arts or arms they understand,
Their labours ply." BURNS.
GENII, afrits, and ghouls, have long since lost their
terrors, but the wonderful stories told about them
will continue to charm the youthful mind for cen-
turies to come. Chief among these stories is that
of Aladdin, the poor boy, who became the fortu-
nate possessor of a wonderful lamp, which gave him
control over a powerful race of genii. By merely
rubbing the lamp he summoned these superhuman
servants, who waited on him hand and foot, brought
him untold wealth, transported him from place to
place, and fulfilled his wildest desires. Upon this
beautiful Arabian romance we ground our con-
cluding fairy tale of science.
Our wonderful lamp is merely a poetical image
of Science. The lamp of science dispels intellectual
darkness, and floods the world with its all-pene-
310 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
trating light. The night-prowling ghouls, Igno-
rance and Superstition, dare not encounter its
glancing rays, and descend shrieking into the
abyss, while Industry toils in the glare, and seems
to acquire new vigour whenever the flame increases
The attendant genii of this wonderful lamp
are those powers of the material world which
have been subjugated by man the Aladdin of
Among these genii the almost omnipotent agent
Steam ranks first. The miracles wrought by this
slave of the lamp transcend all the wonders con-
ceived by the Oriental romancists. " By its agency,"
says Dr. Lardner, "coal is made to minister in a
variety of ways to the uses of society. By it coals
are taught to spin, weave, dye, print, and dress
silks, cottons, woollen and other cloths ; to make
paper, and print books on it when made ; to con-
vert corn into flour ; to press oil from the olive and
wine from the grape ; to draw up metal from the
bowels of the earth ; to pound and smelt it, to melt
and mould it, to forge it, to roll it, and to fashion
it into every form that the most wayward caprice
can desire. Do we traverse the deep, they lend
wings to the ship, and bid defiance to the natural
opponents, the winds and the tides ! Does the wind-
bound ship desire to get out of port to start on her
voyage, steam throws its arms around her, and
places her on the open sea ! Do we traverse the
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 311
land, steam is harnessed to our chariot, and we
outstrip the flight of the swiftest bird, and equal
the fury of the tempest !"
We may form an idea of the versatile powers of
steam if we consider the manufacture of this
volume. It was printed by steam upon paper made
by steam. The rags of which the sheets were
formed were woven by steam, their separate threads
having been previously spun by steam. Moreover,
by steam the types were cast in metal, that the
same agent had raised from the mine ; by steam,
too, the mill-board and cloth which form the cover
were fabricated, and the thread which fastens the
sheets together was twisted.
The author we have quoted above gives the fol-
lowing excellent illustrations of the power of
steam : A train of coaches weighing about 80
tons, and transporting 240 passengers with their
luggage, has been taken from Liverpool to Birming-
ham, and back from Birmingham to Liverpool ; the
trip each way taking about four hours and a
quarter, stoppages included. The distance between
these places by railway is 95 miles. The double
journey of 190 miles was effected by the mechanical
force produced in the combustion of four tons of
coke, the value of which is about five pounds. To
carry the same number of passengers daily between
the same places, by stage-coaches on a common
road, would require twenty coaches and an esta-
blishment of 3800 horses, with which the journey in
312 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
each direction would be performed in about twelve
hours, stoppages included.
The circumference of the earth measures 25,000
miles ; if it were begirt with an iron railway, such
a train as above described, carrying 240 passengers,
would be drawn round it by the combustion of
about thirty tons of coke, and the circuit would be
accomplished in five weeks.
In the drainage of the Cornish mines, a bushel of
coals usually raises 40,000 tons of water afoot high ;
but it has, on some occasions, raised 60,000 tons of
water the same height. Let iis take its labour at
50,000 tons raised one foot high. A horse worked in
a fast stage-coach pulls against an average resistance
of about a quarter of a hundred weight. Against
this he is able to work at the usual speed through
about eight miles daily ; his work is therefore equi-
valent to 1000 tons raised one foot. A bushel of
coals, consequently, as used in Cornwall, perfonns
as much labour as a day's work of fifty such horses.
The Great Pyramid of Egypt stands upon a base
measuring 700 feet each way, and is 500 feet high,
its weight being 12,760 millions of pounds. Hero-
dotus states that in constructing it 100,000 men
were constantly employed twenty years. The mate-
rials of this Pyramid would be raised from the
ground to their present position by the combustion
of about 480 tons of coal.
The Menai Bridge consists of about 2000 tons of
iron, and its height above the level of the water
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 313
is 120 feet. Its mass might be lifted from the level
of the water to its present position by the com-
bustion of four bushels of coal.* The reader will
hardly require to be informed that the above illus-
trations show what might be done by the steam
generated during the combustion of certain quan-
tities of coal, provided its entire strength could be
applied to the fulfilment of the required results.
Let us now briefly consider some of the real
achievements of Steam, and other genii, over which
man, as the holder of the lamp of science, has abso-
The Great Eastern, or Leviathan, that stupendous
product of engineering daring, is a structure immea-
surably more wonderful than Aladdin's palace. While
this ship was in course of construction, the genii of the
lamp had no rest, and their Cyclopean labours excited
the wonder of all beholders. Although building in the
midst of the largest collection of seafaring people in
the world, the Leviathan was a puzzle to them all.
None of the old-accustomed sights and sounds of
ship-building attended the growth of this monster of
the deep. The visitor to the works of Scott Russell
and Co., at Millwall, looked in vain for the merry
ship-carpenters, caulking away with monotonous
dead-sounding blows ; for the artisans chipping with
their adzes, rearing up huge ribs, or laying the mas-
sive keel; and for the bright augers gleaming in
the sun as sturdy arms worked out the bolt-holes.
* Lardner, on the Steam Engine.
314 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
What he did see might well excite his sm-prise.
He saw the giant arm of Steam welding huge shafts,
and punching inch-plates of iron as quickly and as
noiselessly as a lady punches cardboard for a fancy-
fair ornament. Steel, urged by the same potent
genie, was seen showing its mastery over iron ;
while the huge lathes revolved, and the planing-
machine steadily pursued its resistless course ; whilst,
in place of the shavings of the carpenter, long ring-
lets of a dull grey metal cumbered the ground. The
ship-carpenter was transmuted into a brawny smith,
and the civil engineer had taken the place of the
The Leviathan is essentially an iron ship, more
completely so perhaps than any vessel hitherto built.
Iron plates, angle irons, and iron rivets form the
sinews, muscles, and bones of this monster of the
age of iron. The plates vary in thickness from half
an inch to an inch; the rivets are about an inch in
diameter, and it is these that hold the vast fabric
In fastening the plates, the mighty genie Heat lent
his aid. When the holes in the plates to be held
together had been brought into exact opposition, bolts
at a white heat were one by one introduced, and
firmly riveted whilst in that condition by three
men, one holding the bolt in its position by placing
a hammer against its head on the inside of the ship,
whilst the other two with alternate blows produced
the rivet-head on the outside. The rivets contracted
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 315
in cooling, and drew the plates together with the
force of a vice. Before the ship could swim, no less
than two millions of these bolts had to be made
We will not attempt to give a minute description
of this steam-made vessel, but will confine our
observations to those points in which the Leviathan
differs from other ships.
Let us first consider the form of the great ship.
Viewed end-wise, its outline is nearly square, for
the bottom is perfectly flat throughout a breadth of
forty feet, without a keel or any other protuberance.
Its broadside is almost a perfect quadrangle, quite
horizontal at the top, and very nearly vertical at
the two ends. But although the general outline of
the Leviatlian is formed of nearly straight lines, this
ship has curves of wondrous delicacy curves that
bring the bow to the sharpness of a wedge, by gra-
dations which the eye can scarcely follow, while the
stern below the low- water line has convexities and
hollows gradually melting into each other.
The Leviathan is constructed on the wave-line
principle; that is to say, there is a certain similarity
between the curves of the hull and the curves of
a wave. The best form of a ship, which should
force its way through the water so as to meet with
the least resistance from the fluid, was until recently
unknown. The head and breast of a fish, and the
breast of a duck or swan, were the favourite models
for the ship's bow. These forms were some-vhat
316 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
modified by experience, but they still remained the
Some five-and-twenty years ago, Mr. Scott
Russell, then an unknown ship-builder, ventured
to question the fitness of these two forms. The
fish form would be the best and most perfect, un-
doubtedly, provided the ship swam under water
like a fish, instead of half in and half out ; and the
duck's-breast bow might prove faultless, if a vessel
were merely required to float along the surface like
a duck, and not to swim with speed. But he saw
that the best constructed ships heaped up a mass of
water before them, and that the resistance of this
anterior wave could not be overcome without an
unprofitable expenditure of power.
Every vessel in passing over the sea displaces a
certain amount of water, proportional to its size
and draught, and then the water closes in behind
her to fill up the hollow. Scott Russell at length
discovered the form of ship that would offer the
least resistance to the water. He found that the
lines or curvature of the bow of a ship ought to re-
semble the curvature of the wave of displaced water,
and that the stern should be curved like the wave
of replacement. The mark that still-water makes
on the hull of a ship floating on it is called the
water-line. Scott Russell called his curve the wave-
line, because he found it precisely the same as the
line which the wave of displaced water marked
along the side of the ship, by which it harmlessly
glided without impeding its motion. To test the
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 317
merits of the wave-line principle, one hundred and
fifty models were constructed, and no less than
20,000 experiments were made, which all tended
towards one result the desirability of assimilating
the form of a ship in certain parts to the shape of
The great point in practical navigation is to
obtain a passage for a ship by removing or dis-
placing the particles of water as quietly as possible,
and to no further distance on either side than the
greatest width of the vessel.
On one occasion Scott Russell caused a model
boat, 75 feet long, to be drawn along a canal at a
very high speed, and made the prow pass between
two oranges floating on the water. These oranges,
which represented on a large and visible scale two
particles of water, were observed merely to touch
the sides of the vessel until they got amidships,
where they remained quiescent until they closed in
behind the stern.
The first boat constructed on the new principle
was called the Wave. This little yacht, some seventy
feet long, and seven and a-half tons burden, verified
all the inventor's predictions, and may be said to
have heralded in a new era of ship-building. The
Leviathan, as far as its lines are concerned, is but a
magnified copy of the little Wave boat ; and there
is little doubt that it will eclipse all other vessels in
speed, as well as in vastness, whenever it has a
chance of displaying its powers.
We have dwelt upon the wave-line principle, as
318 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
man is solely indebted to the wonderful lamp for its
discovery. The form of least resistance could never
have been discovered by accident. The old ship-
builders jumped at the conclusion that the fish's
head and the duck's breast were the only perfect
types of a vessel's bow; but the magical wave-line
could not be introduced into naval architecture
until science had revealed the true laws of fluid
motion and resistance.
We have said that the hull of the Leviathan is
formed of unyielding plates of inch iron ; also that
this gigantic hull has innumerable curves, which
die away into each other by insensible gradations.
At the first glance these two statements appear
irreconcilable. How can these delicate curves be
produced by any aggregation of rectilinear pieces of
flat boiler-plate 1 In ordinary wooden ships the
planking by its elasticity allows itself to be modelled
to the ribs ; but here there are no ribs, in the true
sense of the word, and the form of the vessel must
depend upon the inclination given to each separate
piece of iron before the fastening process is com-
menced. And such in fact is the case. Every
individual plate, before being fixed in its proper
position, was the subject of a separate study to the
engineer. Of the thirty thousand plates that com-
pose the hulk of this great ship, only a few situated
in the midship section are alike either in size or
curve. For each a model in wood, or " template,"
as it is technically called, had originally to be made,
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 319
and by these patterns the plates were cut into their
required shape by the huge steam-shears, in exactly
the same manner as a tailor cuts out various por-
tions of a garment. The " list," or inclination given
to each plate, was the next process; and this was
produced by passing the plate through a system of
rollers, which could be so reversed in their action,
and so adjusted, as to give any required curve.
The Leviathan was not built in the usual manner ;
there was no skeleton to indicate what it was about
to become. The reason of this was, that on account of
the enormous length of the ship, it was necessary to
make use of a different mode of construction to
that generally pursued in building ships, and for
this purpose the tubular principle, so successfully
carried out by Robert Stephen son in the Menai
Bridge, was adopted.
The framework of the ship may be described as
consisting, primarily, of thirty-five horizontal webs
or ribs of iron plate, each nearly three feet wide,
and immensely strengthened at all the points of
junction. They extend from end to end of the
vessel side by side at the bottom, and one over the
other at the sides, at distances varying from three
to five feet apart. On either side the uppermost
web is about five feet above low-water mark. These
webs are crossed by huge partitions of a similar
construction placed just sixty feet apart. Plates of
the best and toughest iron are riveted on each side
'of the thirty-five longitudinal webs or ribs, so as to
320 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
form a double skin to the ship, or a dermis and epi-
dermis ; the Leviathan is therefore two ships, one
within the other. The whole framework forms a
system of cells, which, like the Menai tube, com-
bines extreme lightness with great strength.
So thoroughly close are the joints of this frame-
work we quote, with some modification, the words
of a competent authority that any one cell would
hold water without its running into the adjoining
cells ; and water is actually to be admitted to some
of them, to assist in ballasting or in "trimming"
ship, or in giving it a "lift" or tilt- up when the
bottom needs repair, taps and valves being arranged
for that purpose. Above the level already named,
five feet higher than low- water mark, the hull is
formed of bars and plates as below ; biit it is not
cellular, being only one layer in thickness. The
various decks, whole and partial, are mostly formed
of iron. The upper deck is so strong that it is cal-
culated that the whole weight of the vessel might
be suspended from it ; like the lower part of the
hull it has a cellular structure, and will help to
maintain the bulging sides in their places, at the
same time that it supports the visible wooden deck.
At the bow, or head of the vessel, the decks and
partitions, the walls and casings, the supports and
ansle-irons are so numerous that the whole forms a
mass nearly as strong as solid iron. To strengthen
the interior of the mighty ship, to define its shape,
and to separate it into water-tight compartments,
-THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 321
the ten bulkheads or cross-walls of thick iron plate,
already alluded to, extend from side to side, and
from bottom to top, with no openings whatever
below the level of the passenger saloons. So im-
permeable are these walls that according to the
view of the builders any one of the twelve com-
partments into which the ship is thus divided might
be filled with water without flooding those adjacent
to it ; and, accordingly, a hole rent in the hull
would, so to speak, only have one-tenth part of a
chance in sinking the vessel. Besides these trans-
verse walls, there are two longitudinal iron walls
running along rather more than half the length of
the vessel ; it will thus be seen that the hollow as
well as the shell of the vast fabric is cellular.
What with the two iron decks, the two longitu-
dinal iron walls, and the ten transverse iron walls,
besides partial decks, and walls of smaller size, the
interior is made into a series of sixty or eighty vast
iron boxes, a honeycomb of quadranglar cells, the
walls of which give strength mutually one to
another. Let a strain come in whatever direction
it may, there is an iron wall ready to baffle it. The
engineers may possibly be too sanguine, but they
believe the Leviathan will prove the taughtest, trim-
mest, driest ship ever built, irrespective of its more
important qualities. They comfort those who dread
sea-sickness with the hope that a ship too long to
pitch and too flat to roll, will be bearable even to
" the gentlemen of England who live at home at
322 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
ease ;" and they talk of the ship being buoyant even
if chopped into ten ships like those animals which
seem to have ten lives instead of one.*
It is not easy to form, an adequate idea of the
dimensions of this iron monster. When we recollect
that the Great Western, which twenty years ago was
regai'ded as a marvel of vastness, is 236 feet long ;
the Great Britain, the first ocean screw steamer, is
322 feet long ; and that the majestic Himalaya is
370 feet long we may get, by comparison, a rough
notion of the magnitude of the Leviathan, which is
680 feet long between the perpendiculars, and 691
feet on the upper deck. The breadth of the hull
is 83 feet, the extreme breadth across the paddle-
boxes 118 feet, and the depth from deck to keel 58
feet. In the construction of the hull 30,000 iron
plates were used, and these plates were fastened
with 2,000,000 rivets. The weight of iron in the
hull amounts to 8000 tons, and the weight of the
entire vessel when voyaging with its passengers,
crew, coals, and cargo on board, will be from 25,000
to 30,000 tons.
Many ingenious comparisons have been made to
enable the mind to form a true conception of the
value of the above figures. The London streets
and squares have frequently been selected as fami-
liar illustrations of the Leviathan's dimensions.
Thus it has been said that if any gigantic power
could transport the monster to Pall Mall, or Oxford-
* Year-Book for 1858.
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 323
street, or St. James's-street, the hull would not
sink to the roadway, as its sides would rest on the
opposite parapets. Even Regent-street would not
receive it without the paddle-boxes; and with those
appendages, the broadest street in London, Portland-
place, would barely afford it room. The paddle-
wheels alone are higher than any but the highest
houses. If stretched over Russell-square, one end
would rest on the house-tops of the north side, and
the other on those of the south.
Everything relating to the Leviathan has a mag-
nitude proportional to that of the vast hull; thus
Alexis Soyer, the celebrated chef de cuisine, made a
calculation that one hundred persons could dine in
one of its funnels, and actually proposed that a
banquet should be spread for five hundred guests
in the five chimneys before they were fitted to the
Let us now briefly consider the arrangements
that have been made to give the iron monster life
and motion. Mr. Brunei decided not to trust so
precious a human freight, and so vast an amount of
cargo as his big ship is designed to carry to any
single propelling power, but resolved to supply it
with three the screw, the paddle, and the sail.
The paddle-wheels, which are considerably larger
than the circus at Astley's, are to be propelled by
monster engines, the motive-power of which will
be generated by four boilers each weighing about
fifty tons, and containing forty tons of water.
324 THE WONDEKFUL LAMP.
These engines, the largest ever constructed with
oscillating cylinders, are nevertheless inferior to
those devoted to the screw-propeller.
This screw is twenty-four feet in diameter, and
weighs thirty-six tons. Its four fans, which were
cast separately, and afterwards fitted into a large
cast-iron boss, have been aptly compared to the
blade-bones of some huge animal of the pre-Adamite
world. Besides being pulled along by the paddles,
and pushed along by the screw, the Leviathan will
also be propelled by the wind when exceptional cir-
cumstances render such aid desirable. There are
six masts, five of iron and one of wood, and on
these masts will, or may be, spread about 6500
square yards of canvass. Under ordinary circum-
stances the Leviathan will go faster than the wind,
and sails will prove an impediment rather than an
assistance to the ship's progress. It is not probable,
therefore, that they will be much resorted to except
for the purpose of steadying or of helping to steer
the huge vessel. The steam-power will be truly
enormous; it has been stated that, were everything
put to work at its fullest, the whole series of engines
would work up to 11,500 horse-power. This power
would suffice to raise 200,000 gallons of water to
the top of the Monument in less than a minute, or
to work all the cotton mills of Manchester.
When all the engines are in full work, the great
source of power, coal, will be needed to the extent
of 250 tons each day. For a voyage to Australia
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 325
and back, 12,000 tons at the very least will be re-
quired, yet such is the capacity of the Leviathan for
fuel, that this immense quantity can be stowed away
in the coal-bunkers without encroaching at all on
the space set apart for machinery, cargo, passengers,
The great ship will carry twenty little ships, all
fitted with masts and sails complete. In addition
to these, two small screw-steamers will hang astern
abaft the paddle-boxes, each of which will be 100
feet long, 16 feet beam, 120 tons burthen, and
40-horse power. These will be raised and lowered
by auxiliary steam-engines, and will be used for
landing and embarking passengers, with their lug-
gage. They will look like toy-steamers when sus-
pended at the sides of the sea monster, though they
will be considerably larger than most of the above-
bridge Thames steamers.
The passenger-arrangements are on a correspond-
ing scale with everything else. There are ample
means for accommodating 4000 guests in this float-
ing city, besides the crew of 400. The iron parti-
tions we have already described divide the interior
capacity of the hull into separate compartments or
boxes ; and into each box we may suppose a large
house to be let down. A clever writer has thus
filled up in imagination five of these great boxes :
" If we were to take the row of houses belonging to
Mivart's, and drop them down one gulf; take
Farrance's, and drop it down a second ; take Mor-
326 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
ley's, at Charing Cross, and fit it into a third ; and
adjust the Great Western Hotel, at Paddington,
and the Great Northern, at King's Cross, into
apertures four and five, we should get some faint
idea of the nature of the accommodation in the
We have only adverted to a few of the wonders
of this leviathan this floating palace of Aladdin,
which owes its existence to the potent genii of the
lamp of science. Although this crowning marvel
of our wondrous age still rests in the Thames like
a giant spell-bound, we cannot doubt that it has a
mighty future before it. All who watched the
Leviathan's growth, and followed its progress along
the launching ways, must long to see it " walk the
waters like a thing of life," and show its mastery
over those waves which it so closely resembles in
its graceful curves. In justice to the wise men
Brunei and Russell, who have wrought such mira-
cles in the subjugation of the powers of nature, the
genii of our wonderful lamp, we trust that the
merits of their daring achievement in ship-building
will soon be tested.
Let us now glance at another marvellous product
of science, which rivals all the magical fabrics
described in the Arabian Nights. We refer to the
Britannia Bridge across the Menai Straits.
The deep chasm which separates the Isle of
Anglesey from the mainland had long been a
serious obstacle to the modern Aladdin, who could
not brook the delay which attended the use of
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 327
ferry-boats. He could not rest satisfied until he
had bridged-over the intervening strip of sea ; and
he therefore summoned the potent genii of the
lamp, who helped him to form a magical roadway
in mid-air. This cobweb-like structure is known as
the Suspension Bridge of Telford. In course of
time, however, Aladdin began to wish for a more
substantial fabric, across which he might urge his
steam-drawn chariot. To obtain such a bridge as
he desired, he sought the aid of a potent magician,
who had long been famed for his power over the
genii of the lamp.
In plain langiiage, a railway bridge across the
Menai Straits was required, and its construction
was left to Mr. Robert Stephenson.
The seven labours of Hercules were insignificant
tasks compared with that which the railway au-
thorities set before the great engineer, perfectly
satisfied that he would accomplish it by some means
or other. Yet the difficulties which Stephenson
had to contend with seemed insurmountable, and a
less daring genius would have shrunk from en-
Those captive princesses of fairy lore who were
doomed to draw water from a well without a bucket,
to catch fish without a net, and to spin a thread
without either wheel or distaff, were not more un-
fortunately situated than was Robert Stephenson,
though he has never yet been made the hero of a
" You must build a bridge," said his employers,
328 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
" that the heaviest trains may pass over in safety at
any speed. This bridge may have any form you
please; but we wish you to remember that its
rupture would be attended with most disastrous
consequences, and we therefore urge upon you the
necessity of making it strong enough to resist every
" If you build a railway bridge across the Straits,"
said the Lords of the Admiralty, " you must not
interfere with the navigation. Your viaduct must
be at least one hundred feet above the level of the
water, so that ships may pass beneath, and it must
be constructed without the aid of scaffolding."
Even the elements seemed to set their face against
the proposed bridge. The Straits are above twelve
miles in length, the shores throughout being rocky
and precipitous. The water that fills the passage is
never at rest, and the fall of the tide is from twenty
to twenty-five feet. Moreover, the wind blows
through the Straits with such violence, that a bridge
must be strong indeed to withstand its rude shocks.
Imagine an enchanted engineer with such a task
before him as the construction of a bridge a hundred
feet above the tumultuous waters, without scaffold-
ing of any kind, and you will be able to get a faint
idea of the difficulties which he had to overcome
before a railway train could pass from Carnarvon to
We will not allude to the various plans which
Stephenson conceived and discarded before the idea
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 329
of a tubular bridge took possession of his mind.
This last project, destined to prove so successful, has
been well compared to a beam along which a man
scrambles when escaping from a fire. Stephenson
was bent upon crossing the Straits ; but as he could
not build an ordinary bridge, when under such ex-
traordinary restrictions, he resolved to span the
waters with a huge makeshift in the shape of a
hollow beam of iron. Each tube of the Britannia
Bridge is literally a beam, so constructed that it
combines the maximum of strength with the mini-
mum of weight ; in other words, it is a beam from
which every portion of metal that does not add to
its strength has been carefully removed.
We will now endeavour to explain the simple
principle upon which a beam, whether of wood or
iron, is enabled to support the weight imposed
For want of a few moments' reflection most
people, in looking up at a common ceiling-girder,
consider that its upper and lower parts suffer
equally in bearing the weight of the roof; but
these upper and lower strata suffer from causes as
diametrically opposite to each other as the climates
of the pole and of the equator. The top of the
beam throughout its whole length suffers from
severe compression, the bottom from severe exten-
sion, and thus, while the particles of the one are
violently jammed together, the particles of the other
are on the point of separation ; in short, the differ-
330 THE WONDEBFUL LAMP.
ence between the two is precisely that which exists
between the opposite punishments of vertically
crushing a man to death under a heavy weight,
and of horizontally tearing him to pieces by horses.
This theory, confused as it may appear in words,
can at once be simply and most beautifully illus-
trated by any small straight stick freshly cut from
a living shrub.
In its natural form the bark or rind around the
stick is equally smooth throughout ; but if the little
bough, held firmly in each hand, be bent downwards
so as to form a bow, or in other words to represent
a beam under heavy pressure, two opposite results
will instantly appear. The rind in the centre of
the upper part of this stick will be crumpled up,
while that on the opposite side will be severely dis-
tended ; thus denoting, or rather demonstrating,
what we have stated namely, that beneath the rind
the wood of the upper part of the stick is severely
compressed, while that underneath is as violently
stretched : indeed, if we continue to bend the bow
until it breaks, the splinters of the upper fracture
will be seen to intei'lace or cross each other, while
those beneath will be divorced by a chasm.
But it is evident, on reflection, that these oppo-
site results of compression and extension must, as
they approach each other, respectively diminish in
degree, xintil in the middle of the beam, termed by
mathematicians its neutral axis, the two antagonist
forces, like the celebrated Kilkenny cats, destroy
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 331
each other. It therefore appears that the main
strength of a beam consists in its power to resist
compression and extension, and that the middle is
comparatively useless, so that to obtain the greatest
amount of strength, the given quantity of material
to be used should be accumulated at the top and
bottom, where the strain is greatest ; or, in plain
terms, the middle of the beam, whether of wood or
iron, should be bored out. All iron girders, all
beams in houses in fact all things in domestic or
naval architecture that bear weight are subject to
the same law.
A hollow beam of iron having been fixed upon as
the form which the projected bridge should take, an
extensive series of experiments were undertaken with
a view to ascertain the shape capable of sustaining
the greatest weight. A rectangular tube, with a
height considerably greater than its breadth, and
strengthened at the top and bottom, was eventually
selected. The genii of the lamp were now set to
work, and the quiet folk of North Wales witnessed
similar wonders to those which have since asto-
nished the Londoners. The principal tubes were
constructed on piles at high- water mark, and were
formed of wrought-iron plates riveted together with
white-hot iron bolts.
A system of longitudinal tubes or cells gave the
required strength to the top and bottom of each
fabric, these cells being quite as effectual as solid
metal. Every means was taken to make the tubes
332 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
as light as possible, as it was known that the strength
of the bridge depended on its lightness. This fact
sounds rather paradoxical ; but if the reader will
reflect a moment he will find that a bridge has to
support itself, as well as the things passing over it.
A beam of solid iron, of the dimensions of the Bri-
tannia Bridge, would be useless if placed across the
Straits, as it would infallibly break down under the
enormous pressure of its own weight. Stephenson's
beam, as we have already intimated, has all the
elements of strength, but none of the elements of
weakness of a common beam.
While the monster tubes were being constructed,
the masons were heaping up sandstone and marble
into the huge piers upon which they were to rest.
The central pier or tower was built upon a little
rock in the middle of the stream. This rock, which
was only exposed at low-water, had long been a
trouble to sailors and nothing else, but it is now
world-famous as the Britannia Rock, the chief sup-
port of Stephenson's magic aerial galleries. Two
other piers were constructed, one on the Anglesey,
and the other on the Carnarvon shore, each at a
distance of 472 feet from the Britannia tower.
The bridge was to consist of two tubes, placed
side by side, one for the down and the other for the
up trains. Each tube was formed in four lengths,
and when completed these lengths had to be joined
together, like the pieces of a huge dissected puzzle.
A huge puzzle, indeed ! When these immense tubes
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 333
were finished, how could they be thrown across the
Straits a hundred feet above the level of the water ?
The reader will open his eyes in astonishment when
we inform him that the four principal tubes, each
472 feet in length, were floated into the centre of
the Strait, and then pumped up to their present
elevated position. Said we not that science had
brought the powers of nature under man's control
that the genii of the lamp had become the willing
slaves of the modern Aladdin ?
Each tube was supported on pontoons hu^e life-
buoys if you will and dragged from its resting-place
by chains connected with a monster windlass sta-
tioned on the opposite bank. This operation was
performed at high-tide, and when the water sank,
the delighted spectators beheld the tube resting in
its proper position, between its two towers. We
need scarcely say, that we refer to the direction of
the tube, but not to its height, when we here speak
of its proper position. The mass of iron had yet
to be lifted high into the air.
Among the genii of the lamp there is one called
Fluid Pressure, and to this power the task of raising
the tubes was committed. The hydraulic-press
gave direction to the mighty efforts of this genie.
This engine consists essentially of a strong metallic
cylinder, in which is inserted a solid piston or ram,
and a pump, by means of which water can be forced
into the main cylinder. Many of these machines
were employed in raising the different lengths of
334 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
the bridge ; but one of them deserves particular
mention on account of its stupendous magnitude.
The cylinder of this Cyclopean engine was nine
feet long, twenty-two inches in internal diameter,
ten inches thick, and weighed fifteen tons. Allowing
for the waste, twenty-two tons of fluid incandescent
iron were required for this enormous casting. After
having been left for seventy-two hours in the mould
in which it was cast, the mould was detached from
it. It was still red hot ! It was then left to cool,
but it was ten days before it was sufficiently cool to
be approached by operatives well-inured to heat,
in order to detach from it some of the sand of the
mould which still adhered to it.
This vast machine was fixed upon an iron stage,
near the summit of one of the towers, and to the
cross-head of the ram were attached massive chains,
which descended to the level of the water, and em-
braced the tube to be raised.
The greatest weight lifted by the press was 1144
tons, but it was capable of raising 2000 tons. The
quantity of water injected into the great cylinder,
in order to raise the ram 6 feet, was 81^ gallons.
When a lift of six feet was effected, the lifting
chains were seized by a set of clamps, under the
lowest point to which the cross-head descended, and
while they were thus held suspended, the water
was discharged from the great cylinder, and the ram,
with its cross-head, made to descend. Meanwhile,
the lengths of the chain above the clamps were re-
- THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 335
moved, and the chains thus shortened attached to
the cross-head by other clamps, and all was prepared
for another lift. In the practical operation of the
machine each lift of six feet occupied from thirty
to forty-five minutes.*
The towers were formed of three massive piers of
solid masonry, so that each tube just filled up the
space between the inner and an outer pier. As the
tubes were elevated by the action of the press the
vacant spaces beneath were closely packed with
blocks of wood. It was very fortunate that this
course was adopted, as an accident occurred, which
must have resulted in the destruction of one of the
tubes had the packing process been omitted. The
water contained in one of the presses, not content
with lifting the tube, thought fit to make a display
of its power by thrusting the bottom out of the
cylinder, thereby killing an unfortunate workman.
The monster tube fell one inch, but was prevented
from falling any further by the packing beneath ;
had it fallen six feet it would have been shivered
When all the tubes were elevated to their perma-
nent position the great work was completed, and
Aladdin gazed at the new wonder with delighted
eyes. These aerial galleries, nearly fifteen hundred
feet in length, are marvellously strong, each being
capable of bearing, spread over its whole surface,
the enormous weight of 4000 tons a weight nine
* Dr. Lardner.
336 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
times greater than it can ever be required to sustain.
The hollow beam is not deflected more than an inch
from the horizontal line by the passage of the
heaviest luggage-train, and it is scarcely affected at
all by the highest wind.
The enchanted engineer, whom we whilom saw
beset with difficulties of no ordinary kind, can now
point to the twin tubes across the Menai Straits,
and say proudly, " My task is performed, the bridge
has been constructed without scaffolding, and little
Mona is no longer separated from her mighty
sister." We need scarcely say that Mr. Stephenson
is treated quite as badly as the ogre-guarded prin-
cess, for no sooner has he performed one task than
the ogre, called " Nineteenth Century," finds him
another still more impossible to all appearances
than the last.
Let us not forget that although the human mind
may plan a Britannia Bridge or a Great Eastern, the
human hands could never construct such wonderful
fabrics without the assistance of those mighty
powers of the material world which man by indus-
try and patient observation has succeeded in enslav-
ing. Steam, heat, light, electricity indeed, every
agent that is known to exert power in the natural
world, can be made to labour in the world of art.
These forces, then, are the genii that attend the
lamp of science. This lamp, like that of Aladdin,
must be rubbed before the genii will appear ; in
plain language, science will not reveal its mighty
powers unless the student works diligently.
THE WONDERFUL LAMP. 337
Our artist has pictured the lamp of science as a
luminous hand. What is the meaning of this
curious emblem ? Reflect for a moment, and you
will detect a deep truth hidden in this fancy.
Science, dear reader, is the magical hand that points
out truth and strikes down falsehood ; and, more
than that, it is the magical hand which fashions the
crude materials of the world in objects of beauty,
which constructs and moves all kinds of machinery,
which performs Herculean feats of strength, and
executes works of marvellous delicacy.
But what has Science to do with the wolf and the
hog at the bottom of the emblem? Nothing,
indeed, except to keep them out of mischief! The
wolf stands for the lawless man who preys upon his
fellow mortals and lives by crime ; the hog for the
ignorant glutton who wallows in the mire of indo-
lence, devouring everything that comes in his way.
We trust that these brutes in human form will one
day become extinct, and that the chains which
depend from our wonderful lamp will be no longer
needed ; at present, however, it is absolutely neces-
sary to restrain the wolf from interfering with those
who labour in the light of science, and the hog from
devouring their well-earned food.
Having thus "pointed a moral" in the emblem
that " adorns our concluding tale," we have now to
bid the reader farewell.
Aii unpleasant task is this leave-taking, dear
reader. We have journeyed together for some tune,
338 THE WONDERFUL LAMP.
and now we feel as though we were parting from
an old friend. We have treated you very rudely,
we fear. We have dragged you hither and thither
without once asking you whether you liked such
wandering habits. We have led you through the
ancient forests ; have soared with you to the con-
fines of space ; have plunged with you into the sea ;
and, in fine, have taken you everywhere. We
trust that you bear us no malice, and will not think
that time wasted which was spent in listening to
our FAIRY TALES OF SCIENCE.
8AVILL AND EDWABDS, PBINTBBS, CHANDOS STBEBT,
NEW AND POPULAR WORKS,
prfnnpalljj for Hounjj Persons,
GEIFFITH AND FAEEAN,
CORNER OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD.
DEDICATED TO ALFRED TENNYSON.
THE STOEY OF KING ARTHUB,
And his Knights of the Bound Table. Compiled and
arranged by J. T. K. With Illustrations by G. H. THOMAS.
Post 8vo, price 7s. cloth ; 9s. coloured, gilt edges.
NEW WORK BY W. H. G. KINGSTON.
Or, the Life and Adventures of a British Seaman of the Old
School. By W. H. G. KINGSTON, Author of ' ' Will Weather-
helm," " Peter the Whaler," &c. Illustrations by JOHN
GILBERT. Fcap. 8vo, price 5s. cloth ; 5s. 6d. gilt edges.
NEW WORK BY ALFRED ELWES.
Or, a Boy's Struggles in the Great World. By ALFRED
ELWES, Author of " Ealph Seabrooke,," "Paul Blake," &c.
With Illustrations by H. ANELAY. Fcap. 8vo, price 5s.
. cloth ; 5s. 6d. gilt edges.
THOMAS HOOD'S DAUGHTER.
And other Tales. By FRANCES FREELING BRODEBIP.
With Illustrations by her Brother, THOMAS HOOD. Super-
royal 16mo, price 3s. 6d. cloth; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
CAPTAIN MARRYAT'S DAUGHTER.
HARRY AT SCHOOL:
A Story for Boys. By EMILIA MARRYAT, Author of
" Long Evenings." With Illustrations by ABSOLON Super-
royal 16mo, price 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edgea.
GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
Or, the Graham Family in New Zealand. By Mrs. J. E.
AYLMEB. With Illustrations by J. JACKSON. Super-royal
Ifimo, price 3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. fid. coloured, gilt edges.
THE EARPSDEN RIDDLE-BOOK:
A Collection of Three Hundred and Fifty New Charades,
Rebuses, Conundrums, &c. Fcap. 8vo, price 2s. 6d.
Or, Anecdotes of our Four-legged and other Pets. By
EMMA DAVENPORT. With Illustrations by HARRISON WEIR.
'Super-royal 16mo, price 2s. fid. cloth ; 3s. fid. coloured,
Or, the Gipsy Children. A Story founded on Fact, by the
Author of " The Triumphs of Steam," "Our Eastern Em-
pire," &c. With Illustrations by JOHN GILBERT. Fcap.
8vo, price 4s. fid. cloth ; 5s. gilt edges.
For the Use of Children, presenting at one View Illustrations
of the various Geographical Terms, and thus imparting clear
and definite Ideas of their Meaning. On a large sheet Jm-
perial, price 2s. fid., printed in tints ; 5s. on roller, var-
ONE THOUSAND ARITHMETICAL TESTS;
Or, the Examiner's Assistant, specially adapted by a Novel
Arrangement of the Subject, for Examination Purposes, but
also suited for general Use in Schools. By T. S. CAYZER,
Head Master of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Bristol. 12mo,
price Is. fid. cloth.
Answers to the above, price Is. 6d. cloth.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS.
Or, The Sea Kings of England ; from Hawkins to Franklin.
By W. H. D. ADAMS. Illustrated by MORGAN. Fcap.
Svo, price 5s. cloth ; 5s. 6d. gilt edges.
"What a boy'a book should be hearty, generous, spirited." Athe-
LOST IN CEYLON :
The Story of a Boy and Girl's Adventures in the Woods and
Wilds of the Lion King of Kandy. By WILLIAM DALTON,
Author of "The White Elephant," &c. Illustrated by
HARRISON WEIB. Fcap. Svo, price 5s. cloth; 5s. fid. gilt
" Clever, exciting, and full of true description." Spectator.
Or, the Adventures of a Young Artist in Piedmont and
Tuscany, By ALFRED ELWES, Author of "Frank and
Andrea," &c. Illustrated by EGBERT DUDLEY. Fcap.
Svo, price 5s., cloth ; 5s. 6d. gilt edges.
" This book contains a considerable amount of interesting and amusing
description with regard to the manners and the habits of the Italians."
THE LATE THOMAS HOOD.
Or, Recreation for the Rising Generation, in Prose and
Verse. By the late THOMAS and JANE HOOD, their Son and
Daughter, &c. Illustrated by T. HOOD, Jun. Super-royal
16mo, price 3s. 6d. cloth; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
These tales are charming. Before it goes into T ^e nursery, werecom-
mend that all grown-up people should study ' Fairy Land. -1>1*
Or, Stories for My Little Friends, by EMILIA MABBYAT.
Illustrated by JOHN ABBOLON. Super-royal ]6mo, price
2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" This book cannot fail to be a favonrite." Art Journal.
GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
HOLIDAYS AMONG THE MOUNTAINS ;
Or, Scenes and Stories of Wales. By M. BETHAM EDWARDS.
Illustrated by F. J. SKILL. Super-royal 16mo, price 3s. 6d.
cloth; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" The most charming book for girls we have met with for a long time."
THE ILLUSTRATED PAPER MODEL MAKER:
Containing Twelve Pictorial Subjects, with Descriptive
Letter-press and Diagrams for the Construction of the
Models. By E. LANDELLS, Author of "The Boys' and
Girls' Toy Maker," " Home Pastime," etc. Price 2s. in a
" A most excellent method of educating both eye and hand in the know-
ledge of form." English Churchmcm.
THE WHITE ELEPHANT;
Or, the Hunters of Ava, and the King of the Golden Foot.
By WILLIAM DALTON, Author of the "War Tiger," &c.
Illustrated by HARRISON WEIR. Fcap. Svo, price 5s. cloth ;
5s. 6d. gilt edges.
" Full of dash, nerve and spirit, and withal freshness." Literary Gazette.
PRANK AND ANDREA;
Or, Forest Life in the Island of Sardinia. By ALFRED
ELWES, Author of "Paul Blake," &c. Illustrated by
DUDLEY. Fcap. Svo, price 5s. cloth ; 5s. 6d. gilt edges.
" The descriptions of Sardinian life and scenery are admirable."
THE NINE LIVES OF A CAT:
A Tale of Wonder. Written and Illustrated by C. H.
BENNETT. Twenty-four Engravings. Imperial 16mo, price
2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured.
" Rich in the quaint humour and fancy that a man of genius knowshow to
spare for the enlivenment of children." Examiner.
THE GIRL'S OWN TOY MAKER,
And Book of Recreation . By E. and A. LANDELLS, Author
of "The Boy's Own Toy Maker." Second Edition. With
200 Illustrations. Royal 16mo, price 2s. 6d. cloth.
"A perfect magazine of information." Illustrated Neict of the World.
SUCCESSOKS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS.
BLIND MAN'S HOLIDAY;
Or, Short Tales for the Nursery. By the Author of " Mia
and Charlie," &c. Illustrated by ABSOLON. Super-royal
16mo, price 3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" Very true to nature and admirable in feeling." Guardian.
Or, the Autobiography of a Donkey. By the Author of
" The Triumphs of Steam," &c. &c. Illustrated by HAR-
BISON WEIR. Second Edition. Super-royal 16rno, price
2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
*' A very intelligent donkey, worthy of the distinction conferred upon him
by the artist." Art Journal.
FUNNY FABLES FOll LITTLE POLKS.
By FRANCES FREELING BRODEHIP (Daughter of the late
THOMAS HOOD). Illustrated by her Brother. Super-royal
16mo, price 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. b'd. coloured, gilt edges.
" The Fables contain the happiest mingling of fun, fancy, humour, and
instruction." Art Journal.
A WOMAN'S SECRET;
Or, How to Make Home Happy. Twentieth Thousand.
18mo, with Frontispiece. Price 6d.
By the same Author, uniform in size and price.
WOMAN'S WORK ;
Or, How she can Help the Sick. Twelfth Thousand.
A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS;
Or, the Mother's Assistant in cases of Burns, Scalds, Cuts,
&c. Sixth Thousand.
PAY TO-DAY, TRUST TO-MORROW :
A Story founded on Facts, Illustrative of the Evils of the
Tally System. Fourth Thousand.
Or, Hannah Baker's First Place. Second Thousand.
V These little works are admirably adapted for circulation among th
GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
To be thrown upon the "Wall. By HENBY BURSILL. First
and Second Series, each containing Eighteen Novel and
Original Designs. 4to, price 2s. each plain ; 2s. 6d.
" Uncommonly clever some wonderful effects are produced." The Press,
THE TRIUMPHS OF STEAM;
Or, STORIES PROM: THE LIVES OF WATT, ARKWRIGHT, AND
STEPHENSON. By the Author of ' ' Might not Eight," " Our
Eastern Empire," &c. With Illustrations by J. GILBERT.
Dedicated by permission to the late Robert Stephenson.
Second Edition. Royal 16mo, price 3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d.
coloured, gilt edges.
" A most delicious volume of examples." Art Journal.
THE WAR TIGER;
Or, ADVENTURES AND WONDERFUL FORTUNES OF THE
YOUNG SEA-CHIEF AND HIS LAD CHOW. By WILLIAM
DALTON, Author of "The White Elephant." Illustrated by
H. S. MELVILLE. Fcap. 8vo, price 5s. cloth extra.
" A tale of lively adventure, vigorously told, and embodying much curious
information." Illustrated News.
THE BOY'S OWN TOY MAKER :
A Practical Illustrated Guide to the useful employment of
Leisure Hours. By E. LANDELLS. Fourth Edition. With
200 Illustrations. Royal 16mo, price 2s. 6d. cloth.
" A new and valuable form of endless amusement." Nonconformist.
" We recommend it to all who have children to be instructed and amused."
BY THE LATE THOMAS HOOD.
THE HEADLONG CAREER AND WOFUL ENDING OF
PRECOCIOUS PIGGY. Written for his Children, by the
late THOMAS HOOD. With a Preface by his Daughter ; and
Illustrated by his Son. Third Edition. Post 4to, price
2s. 6d. coloured ; 3s. 6d. mounted on cloth.
" The Illustrations are intensely humorous." The Critic.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS.
THE FAIRY TALES OF SCIENCE:
A Book for Youth. By J. C. BROUGH. With 16 beautiful
Illustrations by C. H. BENNETT. Fcap. 8vo, price 5s. cloth.
CONTENTS : 1. The Age of Monstei-s. 2. The Amber
Spirit. 3. The Four Elements. 4. The Life of an Atom.
5. A Little Bit. 6. Modern Alchemy. 7. Magic of a Sun-
beam. 8. Two Eyes Better than One. 9. The Mermaid's
Home. 10. Animated Flowers. 11. Metamorphoses. 12.
The Invisible World. 13. Wonderful Plants. 14. Water
Bewitched. 15. Pluto's Kingdom. 16. Moving Lands.
17. The Gnomes. 18. A Flight through Space. 19. The
Tale of a Comet. 20. The Wonderful Lamp.
" Science, perhaps, was never made more attractive and easy of entrance
into the youthful mind." The Builder.
"Altogether the- volume is one of the most original, as well as one of the
most useful, books of the season." Gentleman's Magazine.
PAUL BLAKE ;
Or, The STORY of a BOY'S PERILS in the ISLANDS of CORSICA
and MONTE CRISTO. By ALFRED ELWES, Author of " Ocean
andherEulers." Illustrated by ANEL AY. Fcap. 8vo, 5s. cloth.
"This spirited and engaging story will lead our young friends to a very
intimate acquaintance with the island of Corsica," Art Journal.
SUNDAY EVENINGS WITH SOPHIA;
Or, LITTLE TALKS ON GREAT SUBJECTS. A Book for Girls.
By LEONORA G. BELL. With Frontispiece by J. ABSOLON.
Fcap. 8vo, price 2s. 6'd. cloth.
A very suitable gift for a thoughtful girl." BeW$ Mettenger.
SCENES OF ANIMAL LIFE AND CHARACTER:
FROM NATURE AND RECOLLECTION. In Twenty Plates. By
J. B. 4to, price 2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. 6d. coloured, fancy
Truer, heartier, more playful, or more enjoyable sketches of animal life
could scarcely be found anywhere." Spectator.
CAW, CAW ;
Or, the Chronicles of the Crows. Illustrated by J. B. Pnce
2s. plain ; 2s. 6d. coloured.
GRIFFITH AND FABRAN,
BERRIES AND BLOSSOMS :
A Verse Book for Young Children. By T. WESTWOOD.
With coloured Frontispiece and Title. Super-royal 16mo.
price 3s. 6d. gilt edges.
THE GRATEFUL SPARROW.
A True Story. Second Edition. Price 6d. sewed.
HOW I BECAME A GOVERNESS.
By the Author of the "Grateful Sparrow." With Frontis-
piece. Price Is. sewed.
MIGHT NOT RIGHT;
Or, STORIES OP THE DISCOVERT AND CONQUEST OF
AMERICA. By the Author of " Our Eastern Empire," &c.
Illustrated by J. GILBERT. Royal 16mo, price 3s. 6d.
cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, and gilt edges,
" With the fortunes of Columbus, Cortes, and Pizarro, for the staple of
these stories, the writer has succeeded in producing a very interesting
volume." Illustrated New.
JACK FROST AND BETTY SNOW;
WITH OTHER TALES FOR WINTRY NIGHTS AND RAINY
DAYS. Illustrated by H. WEIR. 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d.
coloured, gilt edges.
OLD NURSE'S BOOK OF RHYMES, JINGLES, AND
DITTIES. Edited and Illustrated by C. H. BENNETT,
Author of "Shadows." With Ninety Engravings. Fcap.
4to, price 3s. 6d. cloth, plain, or 6s. coloured.
" The illustrations are all so replete with fun and imagination, that we
scarcely know who will be most pleased with the book, the good-iiatured
grandfather who gives it, or the chubby grandchild who gets it, for a
Christmas-Box." Notes and Queriei.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS.
MAUD SUMMERS THE SIGHTLESS:
A NARRATIVE FOR THE YODNG. Illustrated by ABSOLON.
3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" A touching and beautiful story." Christian Treasury.
Or, THE BLADE AND THE EAR. By Miss MILNER. With
Frontispiece by BIRKET FOSTER. Fcap. 8vo, price 3s. 6d.
cloth ; 4s. 6d. cloth elegant, gilt edges.
" A beautiful narrative, showing how bad habits may be eradicated, and
evil tempers subdued." British Mother's Journal.
THE ADVENTURES AND EXPERIENCES OF BIDDY
DORKING, AND OF THE FAT FROG. Edited by MRS. S. C.
HALL. Illustrated by H. WEIR. 2s. Cd. cloth ; 3s. 6d.
coloured, gilt edges.
" Most amusingly and wittily told." Morning Herald.
ATTRACTIVE AND INSTRUCTIVE AMUSEMENT
FOR THE YOUNG.
Or, THE CHILD'S OWN TOT MAKER. With practical
instructions. By E. LANDELLS. New Edition. Price 3s. 6d.
complete, with the Cards and Descriptive Letterpress.
\* By this novel and ingenious " Pastime," beautiful Models
can be made by Children from the Cards, by attending to the
Plain and Simple Instructions in the Book.
CONTENTS: 1. Wheelbarrow. 2. Cab. 3. Omnibus.
4. Nursery Yacht. 5. French Bedstead. 6. Perambu-
lator. 7. Railway Engine. 8. Railway Tender. 9. Rail-
way Carriage. 10. Prince Albert's Model Cottage. 11.
Windmill. 12. Sledge.
" As a delightful exercise of ingenuity, and a most sensible mode of pass-
ing a winter's evening, we commend the Child's own Toy Maker." lliui-
" Should be in every house blessed with the presence of children." The
10 GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
HISTORICAL ACTING CHARADES;
Or, AMUSEMENTS FOE WINTER EVENINGS. By the Author
of "Cat and Dog,"&c. New Edition. Fcap. 8vo, price
3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. gilt edges.
"A rarebook for Christmas parties, and of practical val\ie."^Illustrated News.
THE STORY OF JACK AND THE GIANTS ;
With Thirty-five Illustrations by RICHARD DOYLE. Beauti-
fully printed. New and Cheaper Edition. Fcap. 4to, price
2s. 6d. in fancy bds. ; 4s. 6d. coloured, extra cloth, gilt edges.
"In Doyle's drawings we have wonderful conceptions, which will secure the
book a place amongst the treasures of collectors, as well as excite the imagi-
nations of children." Illustrated Times.
HISTORY OF INDIA FOR THE YOUNG.
OUR EASTERN EMPIRE;
Or, STORIES FROM THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA. By the
Author of "The Martyr Land," "Might not Eight," &c.
With Four Illustrations. Second Edition, with continua-
tion to the Proclamation of Queen Victoria. Eoyal 16mo,
cloth, 3s. 6d. ; 4s. 6d. coloured.
"These stories are charming, and convey a general view of the progress of
our Empire in the East. The tales are told with admirable clearness."
THE MARTYR LAND;
Or, TALES OF THE VAUDOIS. By the Author of "Our
Eastern Empire," &c. Frontispiece by J. GILBERT.
Eoyal 16mo, price 3s. 6d. cloth.
"While practical lessons run throughout, they are never obtruded; the
whole tone is refined without affectation, religious and cheerful." English
Or, PRIDE GOES BEFORE A FALL. By M. and E. KIRBT,
Authors of "The Talking Bird," &c. Illustrated by JOHN
ABSOLON. Price 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" It is nearly such a story as Miss Edgeworth might have written on the
same theme." The Press.
PICTURES FROM THE PYRENEES ;
Or AGNES' AND KATE'S TRAVELS. By CABOUNE BELL.
W.th numerous Illustrations. Small 4to, price 3s. 6oC
cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
With admirable simplicity of manner it notices the towns the
THR EARLY DAWN;
Or, STOEIES TO THINK ABOUT. By a COUNTRY CLERGYMAN
Illustrated by H. WEIR, &c. Small 4to, price 2s 6d'
cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
Or, THE PINE FOREST AMONG THE ALPS. By GERALDINE
E. JEWSBURY, Author of " The Adopted Child, " &c. With
Illustrations by JOHN ABSOLON. Small 4to, price 2s. 6d.
cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" As pretty a child's story aa one might look for on a winter's day."
GRANNY'S WONDERFUL CHAIR;
AND ITS TALES OF FAIRY TIMES. By FRANCES BROWNE.
With Illustrations by KENNY MKADOWS. Small 4to.
3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" One of the happiest blendings of marvel and moral we h?e ever seen."
TALES OF MAGIC AND MEANING;
Written and Illustrated by ALFRED CBOWQUILL, Author of
"The Careless Chicken," "Picture Fables," &c. Price
3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" Cleverly written and abounding in frolic and pathos, and inculcate so
pure a moral, that we must pronounce him a very fortunate little fellow who
catches these ' Tales of Magic' from a Christmas-tree." Athenaun.
12 GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
THE HISTORY OF A QUARTERN LOAF.
Rhymes and Pictures. By WILLIAM NEWMAN. 12 Illus-
trations. Price 6d. plain, Is. coloured.
Uniform in size and price.
THE HISTORY OF A SCUTTLE OF COALS.
THE HISTORY OF A CUP OF TEA.
THE HISTORY OF A LUMP OF SUGAR. (Preparing.)
FAGGOTS FOR THE FIRESIDE;
Or, TALES OF FACT AND FANCY. By PETEB PARLEY. With
Twelve Tinted Illustrations. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth.
"A new work Toy Peter Parley is a pleasant greeting for all boys and girls,
wherever the English language is spoken or read. He has a happy method
of conveying information, while seeming to address kimself to the imagina-
tion." -2%e Critic.
THE DISCONTENTED CHILDREN:
AND HOW THEY WERE CURED. By MARY and ELIZABETH
KIRBY, Authors of "The Talking Bird," &c. Illustrated
by H. K. BROWNE (Phiz). Second Edition, price 2s. 6d.
cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" We know no better method of banishing 'discontent' from school-room
and nursery than by introducing this wise and clever story to their inmates."
THE TALKING BIRD;
Or, THE LITTLE GIRL WHO KNEW WHAT WAS GOING TO
HAPPEN. By M. and E. KIRBY. With Illustrations by
H. K. BROWNE. Price 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured.
"The story is ingeniously told, and the moral clearly shown."
THE EEMARKABLE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT
JACK BUILT. Splendidly Illustrated and magnificently
Illuminated by THE SON Of A GENIUS. Price 2s., infancy
" Magnificent in suggestion, and most comical in expression."
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS. 13
LETTEES FROM SARAWAK,
Addressed to a Child. Embracing an Account of the Man-
ners, Customs, and Religion of the Inhabitants of Borneo,
with Incidents of Missionary Life. By MBS. M'DOUGALL.
Fourth Thousand, enlarged, with Illustrations. 3s. 6d.
" All is new, interesting, and admirably toW-Church and State Gazette.
COMICAL PICTURE BOOKS.
Uniform in tize with " The Struwwelpeter."
Written and Illustrated with Sixteen large coloured Plates,
by ALFRED CROWQUILL. Price 2s. 6d. fancy boards.
THE CARELESS CHICKEN.
By the BARON KRAKEMSIDES. With Sixteen large coloured
Plates, by ALFRED CROWQUILL. 4to, 2s. 6d. fancy boards.
FUMY LEAVES FOR THE YOUNGER BRANCHES.
By the BARON KRAKEMSIDES of Buretenoudelafen Castle.
Illustrated by ALFRED CROWQUILL. Coloured Plates. 2s. 6d.
LAUGH AND GROW WISE;
By the SENIOR OWL of Ivy Hall. With Sixteen Large
Coloured Plates. Quarto. Price 2s. 6d. fancy boards.
** Mounted on cloth, Is. each extra.
PEEP AT THE PIXIES;
Or, LEGENDS OF THE WEST. By MRS. BRAY, Author of
"Life of Stothard," "Trelawny," &c. With Illustrations
by HABLOT K. BROWNE (Phiz). Super-royal 16mo, price
3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
"A peep at the actual Pixies of Devonshire, faithfully described by Mrs.
Bray, is a treat. Her knowledge of the locality, her affection for her sub-
ject, her exquisite feeling for nature, and her real delight in fairy lore, hart*
given a freshness to the little volume we did not expect. The notes at the
end contain matter of interest for all who feel a desire to know the origin of
such tales and legends." Art Journal.
14 ; GRIFFITH AND FARE AN,
OCEAN AND HER RULERS:
A Narrative of the Nations who have from the Earliest
Ages held dominion over the Sea ; comprising a brief History
of Navigation, from the remotest Periods to the Present
Time. By ALFRED ELWES. Fcap. 8vo, 5s. cloth.
" The volume is replete with valuable and interesting information; and
we cordially recommend it as a useful auxiliary in the school-room, and
entertaining companion in the library." Morning Post.
A BOOK FOR EVERY CHILD.
THE FAVOURITE PICTURE-BOOK:
A Gallery of Delights, designed for the Amusement and
Instruction of the Young. With several hundred Illustrar
tions from Drawings by J. ABSOLON, H. K. BUOWNE
(Phiz), J. GILBERT, T. LANDSEER, J. LEECH, J. S. PROUT,
H. WEIR, &c. New Edition. Eoyal 4to, price 3s. 6d.
bound in anew and elegant cover; 7s. 6d. coloured, 10s. 6d.
coloured and mounted on cloth.
THE DAY OF A BABY-BOY:
A Story for a Little Child. By E. BERGER, with Illustra-
tions by JOHN ABSOLON. Second Edition. Super-royal
16mo, price 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
"A sweet little book for the nursery." Christian Times.
CAT AND DOG;
Or, MEMOIRS OF Puss AND THE CAPTAIN. A Story founded
on Fact. Illustrated by HARRISON WEIR. Sixth Edition.
Super- royal 16mo, 2s. 6d.,cloth; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" The author of this amusing little tale is evidently a keen observer of
nature. The illustrations are well executed ; and the moral which points
the tale is conveyed in the most attractive form." Britannia.
THE DOLL AND HER FRIENDS;
Or, MEMOIRS OF THE LADY SF.RAPHINA. By the Author
of "Cat and Dog." Third Edition. With Four Illus-
trations by H. K. BROWNE (Phiz). Small 4to, 2s. 6d. cloth
3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" Evidently written by one who has brought great powers to bear upon
a small matter." Morning Herald.
SUCCESSORS TO KEWBERY AND HARRIS. 15
Or, THE HISTORY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD. By Miss
GERALDINE E. JEWSBURT. With an Illustration by JOHN
ABSOLON. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth; 4s. gilt edges.
FAMILIAR NATURAL HISTORY.
With Forty-two Illustrations from Original Drawings by
HARRISON WEIR, and descriptive letter-press by Mrs. E
LEE. Super-royal 16mo, 3s. 6d. cloth, plain; 5s. coloured'
HARRY HAWKINS'S H-BOOK;
SHOWING HOW HE LEARNED TO ASPIRATE HIS H's. Frontis-
piece by H. WEIR. Super-royal 16mo, price 6d.
" No family or schoolroom within, or indeed beyond, the sound of Bow
bells, should be without this merry manual." Art Journal.
THE FAMILY BIBLE NEWLY OPENED:
WITH UNCLE GOODWIN'S ACCOUNT OF IT. By JEFFERTS
TAYLOR, Author of " A Glance at the Globe, " &c. Frontis-
piece by J. GILBERT. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth.
"A yery good account of the Sacred Writings, adapted to the taste,
feelings, and intelligence of young people." Educational Time*.
" Parents will also find it a great aid in the religious teaching of their
families." Edinburgh Witnete.
KATE AND ROSALIND;
Or, EARLY EXPERIENCES. By the Author of "Quicksands
on Foreign Shores," &c. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth; 4s. gilt
"A book of unusual merit. The story is exceedingly well told, and the
characters are drawn with a freedom and boldness seldom met with."
Church of England Quarterly.
"We hayenot room to exemplify the skill with which Pnseyism is tracked
and detected. The Irish scenes are of an excellence that has not bera sur-
passed since the best days of Miss Edgeworth." Frater't Magazine.
16 GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
* WORKS BY THE LATE MRS. R. LEE.
ANECDOTES OF THE HABITS AND INSTINCTS OF
ANIMALS. Third and Cheaper Edition. With Six Illus-
trations by HARBISON WEIE. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth,
4s. gilt edges.
ANECDOTES OF THE HABITS AND INSTINCTS OF
BIRDS, FISHES, AND REPTILES. Second and Cheaper
Edition. With Six Illustrations by HARRISON WEIR. Fcap.
8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth, 4s. gilt edges.
" Amusing, instructive, and ably written." Literary Gazette.
" Mrs. Lee's authorities to name only one, Professor Owen are, for
the most part, first-rate." Athenaeum.
ADVENTURES IN AUSTRALIA;
Or, THE WANDERINGS OF CAPTAIN SPENCER IN THE BUSH
AND THE WILDS. Second Edition. Illustrated by PBOUT.
Fcap. Svo, 5s . cloth ; 5s. 6d. gilt edges.
" This volume should find a place in every school library, and it will, we
are sure, be a very welcome and useful prize." Educational limes.
THE AFRICAN WANDERERS;
Or, THE ADVENTURES OF CARLOS AND ANTONIO ; embracing
interesting Descriptions of the Manners and Customs of the
Western Tribes. Third Edition. With Eight Engravings.
Fcap. Svo, 5s. cloth ; 5s. 6d. gilt edges.
" In strongly recommending this admirable work to the attention of
young readers, we feel that we are rendering a real service to the cause of
African civilization." Patriot,
TWELVE STORIES OF THE SAYINGS AND DOINGS OF
ANIMALS. With Illustrations by J. W. ABCHER.
Third Edition, 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
PLAYING AT SETTLERS;
Or, THE FAGGOT HOUSE. Second Edition. Illustrated
by GILBERT. Price 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured.
ELEGANT GIFT FOR A LADY.
TREES, PLANTS, AND FLOWERS;
Their Beauties, Uses, and Influences. By Mrs. R. LEE,
Author of " The African Wanderers," &c. With beautiful
coloured Illustrations by J. ANDREWS. Svo, price 10s. 6d.,
cloth elegant, gilt edges.
" The volume is at once useful as a botanical work, and exquisite as the
ornamental of a boudoir table." Britannia..
"As full of interest as of beauty." Art Journal.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS. 17
W. H. G. KINGSTON'S BOOKS FOR BOYS.
"With Illustrations, Fcap. 8vo, price 5s. each, cloth ; 5s. 6cl.
Or, THE YARN OP AN OLD SAILOR ABOUT HIS EARLY LIFE
ANL ADVENTURES. Illustrated by G. H. THOMAS.
"Overflowing with maritime adventures, and characters graphically
EREI) MARKHAM IN RUSSIA;
Or, THE BOY TRAVELLERS IN THE LAND OP THE CZAR.
With Illustrations by E. T. LANDELLS.
" Most admirably does this book unite a capital narrative with the com-
munication of valuable information respecting Russia." Nonconformist.
Or, NEIL D'ARCt's SEA LIFE AND ADVENTURES (a Book
for Boys). With Eight Illustrations by ANELAY.
With the exception of Captain Marryat, we know of no English author
ipare with Mr. Kingston as a writer of books of nautical advcu-
who will com,
ture." Illustrated J\ T eias.
MANGO, THE PERUVIAN CHIEF.
With Illustrations by CARL SCHJIOLZE.
" A capital book; the story being one of much interest, and presenting a
good account of the history and institutions, the customs and manners of the
country." Literary Gazette.
A Tale of the Indian Ocean. With Illustrations by J.
ABSOLON. Second Edition.
" No more interesting, nor more safe book, can be put into tho hands of
youth ; and to boys especially ' Mark Seaworth 1 will be a treasure of de-
light." Art Journal.
PETER THE WHALER:
His Early Life and Adventures in the Arctic Regions.
Second Edition. With Illustrations by E. DUNCAN.
" A better present for a boy of an active turn of mind could not be found.
The tone of the book is manly, healthful, and vigorous." Weekly JVr.
"In short, a book which the old may, but which the young must, read
when they have once begun it." Athenaeum.
BLUE JACKETS ;
Or, CHIPS OF THE OLD BLOCK. A Narrative of the Gallant
Exploits of British Seamen, and of the principal Events in the
Naval Service during the Reign of Her Most Gracious
Majesty QUEEN VICTORIA. Post 8vo, price 7s. 6d. cloth.
"A more acceptable testimonial than this to the valour and enterprise of
the British Navy has not issued from the press for many years." The Critic.
18 GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
NEW AND BEAUTIFUL LIBRARY EDITION.
THE VICAR OF AKEFIELD:
A Tale. By OLIVER GOLDSMITH. Printed by Whittingham.
With Eight Illustrations by J. ABSOLON. Square fcap.
8vo, price 5s. cloth ; 7s. half-bound morocco, Roxburghe
style ; 10s. 6d. antique morocco.
" A. delightful edition of one of the most delightful of works : the fine old
type and thick paper make this volume attractive to any lover of books."
GOOD IK EVERYTHING;
Or, THE EARLY HISTORY OF GILBERT HARLAND. By MRS.
BARWELL, Author of " Little Lessons for Little Learners, "
&c. Second Edition. With Illustrations by JOHN GILBERT.
Royal 16mo, 2s. 6d. cloth; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
"The moral of this exquisite little tale will do more good than a thousand
set tasks abounding with dry and uninteresting truisms." Sett's Messenger.
Their Habits and Management ; with Illustrative Anecdotes.
By MRS. LOUDON. With Illustrations by HARRISON WEIR.
Second Thousand. Fcap. 8vo, 2s. 6d. cloth.
CONTENTS : The Dog, Cat, Squirrel, Rabbit, Guinea-
Pig, White Mice, the Parrot and other Talking- Birds,
Singing-Birds, Doves and Pigeons, Gold and Silver Fish.
"All who study Mrs. Loudon's pages will be able to treat their pets with
certainty and wisdom." Standard of Freedom,
TALES OF SCHOOL LIFE.
By AGNES LOUDON, Author of "Tales for Young People."
With Illustrations by JOHN ABSOLON. Second Edition.
Royal 16mo, 2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
"These reminiscences of school-days will be recognised as truthful pic-
tures of every-day occurrence. The style is colloquial and pleasant, and
therefore well suited to those for whose perusal it is intended." Mhenamm.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AXD HARRIS. 19
THE FAVOURITE LIBRARY.
A Series of Works for the Young ; each Volume with an
Illustration by a well-known Artist. Price ONE SHILLING.
1. THE ESKDALE HERD-BOY. By LADY STODDAKT.
2. MRS. LEICESTER'S SCHOOL. By CHARLES and
3. HISTORY OF THE ROBINS. By MRS. TRIMMER.
4. MEMOIRS OF BOB THE SPOTTED TERRIER.
5. KEEPER'S TRAVELS IN SEARCH OF HIS
6. THE SCOTTISH ORPHANS. By LADY STODDART.
7. NEVER WRONG ; or, THE YOUNG DISPU-
TANT ; and "IT WAS ONLY IN FUN."
8. THE LIFE AND PERAMBULATIONS OF A
9. EASY INTRODUCTION TO THE KNOWLEDGE
OF NATURE. By MRS. TRIMMER.
10. RIGHT AND WRONG. By the Author of " Always
11. HARRY'S HOLIDAY. By JEFFERYS TAYLOR.
12. SHORT POEMS AND HYMNS FOR CHILDREN.
The above may be had, Two Volumes bound in one, at Two Shillings
cloth ; or 2. 6d. gilt edges, as follows :
1. LADY STODDARTS SCOTTISH TALES.
2. ANIMAL HISTORIES. THE DOG.
3. ANIMAL HISTORIES. THE ROBINS and MOUSE.
4. TALES FOR BOYS. HARRY'S HOLIDAY and NEVER
5. TALES FOR GIRLS. MRS. LEICESTER'S SCHOOL
and RIGHT AND WRONG.
6. POETRY AND NATURE. SHORT POEMS and TRIM-
20 GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
TALES FROM CATLAND.
Dedicated to the Young Kittens of England. By an OLD
TABBY. Illustrated by H. WEIR. Fourth Edition. Small
4to, 2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. 6d. coloured.
"The combination of quiet humour and sound sense has made this one of
the pleasantest little books of the season." Lady's Newspaper.
THE WONDERS OE HOME, IN ELEVEN STORIES.
By GRANDFATHER GREY. With Illustrations. Third Edition,
roy. 16mo, 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured. Contents :
Story of 1. A CUP OF TEA. 2. A PIECE OF SUGAR.
3. A MILK-JUG. 4. A LUMP OF COAL.
5. SOME HOT WATER. 6. A PIN.
7. JENNY'S SASH. 8. HARRY'S JACKET.
9. A TUMBLER. 10. A KNIFE.
11. THIS BOOK.
" The idea is excellent, and its execution equally commendable. The
subjects are very happily told in a light yet sensible manner." Weekly News.
Or, USEFUL KNOWLEDGE respecting the PRINCIPAL ANIMAL,
VEGETABLE, and MINERAL SUBSTANCES in COMMON USE.
Written for Young Persons, by a LADY. Second Edition,
revised. 18mo, Is. 6d. cloth.
"A little encyclopaedia of useful knowledge; deserving a place in every
juvenile library." Evangelical Magazine.
PRICE SIXPENCE EACH, PLAIN; ONE SHILLING, COLOURED.
In super-royal 16mo, beautifully printed, each with Seven Illus-
trations by HARRISON WEIR, and Descriptions by MRS. LEE.
1. BRITISH ANIMALS. First Series.
2. BRITISH ANIMALS. Second Series.
3. BRITISH BIRDS.
4. FOREIGN ANIMALS. First Series.
5. FOREIGN ANIMALS. Second Series.
6. FOREIGN BIRDS.
%* Or bound in One Vol. under the title of ' ' Familiar Natural
History," see page 15.
Uniform in size and price with the above.
THE FARM AND ITS SCENES. With Six Pictures from
Drawings by HARRISON WEIR.
THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF JOHN GILPIN. With
Six Illustrations by WATTS PHILLIPS.
THE PEACOCK AT HOME AND THE BUTTERFLY'S
BALL. With Four Illustrations by HARRISON WEIB.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS. 21
A WORD TO T.HE WISE;
Or, HINTS ON THE CURRENT IMPROPRIETY OP EXPRESSION
IN WHITING AND SPEAKING. By PARRY GWYNNE. Fifth
Edition. 18mo, price 6d. sewed, or Is. cloth, gilt edges.
"All who wish to mind their p's and q't should consult this little volume."
Gentleman' t Magazine.
"May be advantageously consulted by even the well-educated."
STOEIES OF JULIAN AND HIS PLAYFELLOWS.
Written by his Mamma. With Four Illustrations by JOHN
ABSOLON. Second Edition. Small 4to, 2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. 6d.
coloured, gilt edges.
" The lessons taught by Julian's mamma are each fraught with an excel-
lent moral." Morning Advertiser.
BLADES AND FLOWERS;
Poems for Children. By M. S. C. Frontispiece by H.
ANELAY. Fcap. 8vo, price 2s. cloth.
" Breathing the same spirit as the nursery poems of Jane Taylor."
AUNT JANE'S VERSES FOR CHILDREN.
By Mrs. T. D. CREWDSON. Illustrated with twelve beauti-
ful Engravings. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth.
" A charming little volume of excellent moral and religious tendency."
ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
KIT BAM, THE BRITISH SINBAD ;
Or, THK YARNS OF AN OLD MARINER. By MARY COW-
DEN CLARKE, Author of "The Concordance to Shakspeare,"
&c. Fcap. Svo, price 3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. gilt edges.
A more captivating volume for juvenile recreative reading we never
remember to have seen. Standard of Freedom.
" Cruikshank's plates are worthy of his genius." Examiner.
GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
THE HISTOEY OF A FAMILY;
Or, RELIGTON OUE BEST SUPPOET. "With an Illustration
on Steel by JOHN ABSOLON. Fcap. Svo, 2s. 6d. cloth.
" A natural and gracefully written story, pervaded by a tone of scriptural
piety, and well calculated to foster just views of life and duty. We hope it
will find its way into many English homes." EngUnhicoman' a Magazine.
RHYMES OF ROYALTY.
THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND in Verse, from the Norman
Conquest to the reign of QUEEN VICTORIA ; with an Ap-
pendix, comprising a Summary of the leading events in
each reign. Fcap. Svo, with Frontispiece. 2s. 6d. cloth.
THE LADY'S ALBUM OF FANCY WORK;
Consistin g of Novel, Elegant, and Useful Patterns in Knitting,
Netting, Crochet, and Embroidery, printed in colours. Bound
in a beautiful cover. New Edit. Post 4to, 3s. 6d. gilt edges.
THE DREAM OF LITTLE TUK,
AND OTHER TALES, by H. C. ANDERSEN. Translated and
dedicated to the Author by CHARLES BONER. Illustrated
by COUNT Pocci. Fcap. Svo, 2s. plain ; 3s. coloured.
" Full of charming passages of prose, poetry, and such tiny dramatic
scenes as will make the pulses of young readers throb with delight." Atlas.
VISITS TO BEECHWOOD FARM;
Or, COUNTRY PLEASURES AND HINTS FOR HAPPINESS, AD-
DRESSED TO THE YOUNG. By CATHARINE M. A. COUPER.
Illustrations by ABSOLON. Small 4to, 3s. 6d. plain; 4s. 6d. col.
" The work is well calculated to impress upon the minds of the young the
superiority of simple and natural pleasures over those which are artificial."
MARIN DE LA VOTE'S ELEMENTARY FRENCH WORKS.
LES JEUNES NARRATEURS;
Ou, PETITS CONTES MORAUX. With a Key to the difficult
Words and Phrases. Frontispiece. Second Edition. 18mo,
" Written in pure and easy French." Morning Pott.
THE PICTORIAL FRENCH GRAMMAR,
FOR THE USE OF CHILDREN. With Eighty Engravings.
Eoyal 16mo ; price Is. 6d. cloth; Is. sewed.
" The publication has greater than mechanical merit ; it contains the
principal elements of the French language, exhibited in a plain and expres-
sive manner." Spectator.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS.
THE FIRST BOOK OF GEOGRAPHY:
Specially adapted as a Text Book for Beginners, and as a
Guide to the Young Teacher. By HUGO REID, Author of
"Elements of Astronomy," &c. Third Edition, carefully
revised. 18mo, Is. sewed.
" One of the most sensible little books on the subject of Geography we
have met with." Educational Times. " As a lesson-book it will charm the
pupil by its brief, natural style." Episcopalian.
THE MODERN BRITISH PLUTARCH; .
Or, LIVES OF MEN DISTINGUISHED IN THE RECENT HIS-
TORY OP OUR COUNTRY FOR THEIR TALENTS, VIRTUES,
AND ACHIEVEMENTS. By W. C. TAYLOR, LL.D., Author
of "A Manual of Ancient and Modern History," &c.
12mo. Second Thousand, with a new Frontispiece. 4s. 6d.
cloth ; 5s. gilt edges.
CON TEW TS : Arkwright Burke Burns Byron Canning Earl of Chat-
ham Adam Clarke Clive Captain Cook Cowper Crabbe Davy Eldou
Erskine Fox Franklin Goldsmith Earl Grey Warren Hastings
Heber Howard Jenner Sir W. Jones Mackintosh H. Martyn Sir J.
Moore Nelson Pitt Eomilly Sir W. Scott Sheridan Smeaton Watt
Marquis Wellesley Wilberforce Wilkie Wellington.
" A work which will be welcomed in any circle of intelligent young per-
sons." British Quarterly Review.
HOME AMUSEMENTS ;
A Choice Collection of Kiddles, Charades, Conundrums,
Parlour Games, and Forfeits. By PETER PUZZLKWELL, Esq. ,
of Rebus Hall. New Edition, revised and enlarged, with
Frontispiece by H. K. BROWNE (Phiz). 16mo, 2s. (Jd. cloth.
EARLY DAYS OF ENGLISH PRINCES.
By MRS. RUSSELL GREY. Dedicated, by permission, to the
Duchess of Roxburghe. With Illustrations by JOHN FBANK-
LIN. Small 4to, 3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
" Just the book for giving children some first notions of English history,
as the personages it speaks about are themselves young." Mancheiter
FIRST STEPS TO SCOTTISH HISTORY.
By Miss RODWELL, Author of "First Steps to English
History." With Ten Illustrations by WEIGALL. 16mo,
3s. 6d. cloth ; 4s. 6d. coloured.
"It is the first popular book in which we have seen the outline* of the
early history of the Scottish tribes exhibited with anything hke accuracy.
Glasgow Constitutional. . /-ji._j
Thf work is throughout agreeably and lucidly v, r Men."-Xidland
THE YOUNG JEWESS AND HER CHRISTIAN SCHOOL-
FELLOWS. By the Author of "Rhoda," &c. With a
Frontispiece by J. GILBERT. 16mo, Is. cloth.
" The story is beautifully conceived and beautifully told, and is peculiarly
adapted to impress upon the minds of young persons the powerful efficacy
of example." Englishwoman's Magazine.
Or, THE EXCELLENCE OP CHARITY. Fourth Edition. With
Illustrations. 16mo, 2s. cloth.
"Not only adapted for children, but many parents might derive great
advantage from studying its simple truths." Church and State Gazette.
TRUE STORIES FROM ANCIENT HISTORY,
Chronologically arranged from the Creation of the World to
the Death of Charlemagne. Twelfth Edition. With 24
Steel Engravings. 12mo, 5s. cloth.
TRUE STORIES PROM MODERN HISTORY,
Chronologically arranged from the Death of Charlemagne
to the Present Time. Eighth Edition. With 24 Steel
Engravings. 12mo, 5s. cloth.
TRUE STORIES FROM ENGLISH HISTORY,
Chronologically arranged from the Invasion of the Romans
to the Present Time. Sixth Edition. With 36 Steel
Engravings. 12mo, 5s. cloth.
STORIES FROM THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS,
on an improved plan. By the Rev. BOUKNE HALL DRAPER.
With 48 Engravings. Sixth Edition. 12mo, 5s. cloth.
THE WARS OF THE .JEWS,
as related by JOSEPHITS ; adapted to the capacities of Young
Persons. With 24 Engravings. Sixth Edit. 4s. 6d. cloth.
THE PRINCE OF WALES'S PRIMER.
With 300 Illustrations by J. GILBERT. Dedicated to Her
Majesty. New Edition, price 6d. ; with title and cover
printed in gold and colours, Is.
HOW TO BE HAPPY;
Or, FAIRY GIFTS : to which is added, A SELECTION OF
MORAL ALLEGORIES, from the best English Writers.
Second Edition. With 8 Engravings. 12mo, 3s. 6d. cloth.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS. 27
THE ABBE GAULTIER'S GEOGRAPHICAL WORKS.
I. FAMILIAR GEOGRAPHY,
With a concise Treatise on the Artificial Sphere, and two
coloured Maps, illustrative of the principal Geographical
Terms. Fifteenth Edition. 16mo, 3s. cloth.
II. AN ATLAS,
Adapted to the Abbe Gaultier's Geographical Games, con-
sisting of 8 Maps, coloured, and 7 in Outline, &c. Folio,
BUTLER'S OUTLINE MAPS, AND KEY;
Or, Geographical and Biographical Exercises ; with a Set
of Coloured Outline Maps ; designed for the Use of Young
Persons. By the late WILLIAM BUTLER. Enlarged by the
Author's Son, J. 0. BUTLEK. Thirty-second Edition, revised.
A graphic Guide to the Places described in the History of
England as the scenes of such Events ; with the situation of
the principal Naval Engagements fought on the Coast of the
British Empire. By Mr. WAUTHIKK, Geographer. On a
large sheet, 3s. 6d. ; in case, 6s. ; or mounted on rollers, var-
TABULAR VIEWS OF THE GEOGRAPHY AND SACRED
HISTOEY OF PALESTINE, & OF THE TRAVELS
OF ST. PAUL. Intended for Pupil Teachers, and othere
engaged in Class Teaching. By A. T. WHITE. Oblong 8vo,
price Is. sewed.
THE CHILD'S GRAMMAR.
By the late Lady FENN, under the assumed name of Mrs.
Lovechild. Forty-ninth Edition. 18mo, 9d. cloth.
ROWBOTHAM'S NEW AND EASY METHOD OF LEARN-
ING the FKENCH GENDERS. New Edition. 6d.
BELLENGER'S FRENCH WORD AND PHRASE-BOOK;
Containing a select Vocabulary and Dialogues, for the Use
of Beginners. New Edition, Is. sewed.
Or, THE PRATTLER. An amusing Introduction to the Ger-
man Language, on the Plan of "Le Babillard." With 16
Illustrations. Price 2s. cloth.
28 GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
Or, Anecdotes of Felix and his Sister Serena. By the
Author of "Claudine," &c. Eighteenth Edition, with new
Illustrations. Royal 18mo, price 2s. 6d. cloth.
ANDERSEN'S (H. C.) NIGHTINGALE AND OTHER TALES.
2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. 6d. coloured.
ANECDOTES OE KINGS,
selected from History; or, Gertrude's Stories for Children.
New Edition. With Engravings. 2s. 6d. plain; 3s. 6d.
Or, a Description of Manners and Customs peculiar to
the East. By the Kev. B. H. DRAPER. With Engravings.
Fourth Edition. Eevised by DR. KITTO. 3s. 6d. cloth.
THE BRITISH HISTORY BRIEFLY TOLD,
and a Description of the Ancient Customs, Sports, and
Pastimes of the English. Embellished with full-length
Portraits of the Sovereigns of England in their proper
Costumes, and 18 other Engravings. 3s. 6d. cloth.
Or, Short Tales in Short Words. By a MOTHER, Author
of "Always Happy." Eighth Edition. With New En-
gravings. 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt edges.
CONVERSATIONS ON THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST,
For the Use of Children. By a MOTHER. A New Edition.
With 12 Engravings. 2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. 6d. coloured.
The Manners, Customs, and Costumes of all Nations of the
World described. By J. ASPIN. New Edition, with nume-
rous Illustrations. 3s. 6d. plain ; and 4s. 6d. coloured.
A Spelling and Reading Book, on a Popular Plan, combining
much Useful Information with the Rudiments of Learning.
By the Author of "The Child's Grammar." With nume-
rous Engravings. Ninth Edit. 2s. 6d. plain; 3s. 6d. col.
FACTS TO CORRECT FANCIES;
Or, Short Narratives compiled from the Biography of
Remarkable Women. By a MOTHER. With Engravings.
3s. 6d. plain; 4s. 6d. coloured.
SUCCESSORS TO NEWBERY AND HARRIS. 29
FBTJITS OF ENTERPRISE,
Exhibited in the Travels of Belzoni in Egypt and Nubia.
Thirteenth Edition, with six Engravings. ISmo, price 3s.
Or, Frederick's Monthly Instructions for the Management
and Formation of a Flower-Garden. Fourth Edition.
With Engravings of the Flowers in Bloom for each Month
in the Year, &c. 3s. 6d. plain ; or 6s. with the Flowers col.
Or, Leading-Strings to Knowledge. New Edition, with
8 Engravings. 2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. 6d. coloured.
KEY TO KNOWLEDGE ;
Or, Things in Common Use simply and shortly explained.
By a MOTHER, Author of " Always Happy," &c. Thirteenth,
Edition. With sixty Illustrations. 8s. 6d. cloth.
THE LADDER TO LEARNING:
A Collection of Fables, Original and Select, arranged pro-
gressively in words of One, Two, and Three Syllables. Edited
and improved by the late MRS. TRIJIMEK. With 79 Cuts.
Nineteenth Edition. 3s. 6d. cloth.
LITTLE LESSONS FOR LITTLE LEARNERS,
In Words of One Syllable. By MRS. BARWELL. Ninth
Edit., with numerous Illustrations. 2s. 6d. plain; 3s. 6d. col.
THE LITTLE READER;
A Progressive Step to Knowledge. Fourth Edition, with
sixteen Plates. Price 2s. 6d. cloth.
For her Little Boys and Girls. Thirteenth Edition, with eight
Engravings. Price 2s. 6d. cloth ; 3s. 6d. coloured, gilt
Or, Subterranean Wonders. An Account of the Operations
of the Miner, arid the Products of his Labours. By the late
Rev. ISAAC TAYLOR. Sixth Edition, with numerous cor-
rections and additions, by Mrs. LouDON. With 45 Wood-
cuts and 16 Steel Engravings. 3s. 6d. cloth.
30 GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
a Description of Wonders and important Products of the
Sea. Second Edition. With Illustrations of 37 Genera of
Shells, by SOWERBT ; and 4 Steel and 50 Wood Engravings.
3s. 6d. cloth.
THE RIVAL CBUSOES,
And other Tales. By AGNES STRICKLAND, Author of "The
Queens of England." Sixth Edition, price 2s. 6d. cloth.
Written for Children. By DAME TRUELOVE and her Friends.
A new Edition, with 20 Engravings. 3s. 6d. cloth.
Or, Biographies of the Grecian Philosophers. 12mo, price
2s. 6d. cloth.
STORIES OF EDWARD AND HIS LITTLE FRIENDS.
With 12 Illustrations. Second Edit. 3s. 6d. plain ; 4s. 6d. coL
SUNDAY LESSONS FOR LITTLE CHILDREN.
By MRS. BARWELL. Fourth Edition. 2s. 6d. plain ; 3s. col.
A VISIT TO GROVE COTTAGE,
And the India Cabinet Opened. By the Author of "Fruits
of Enterprise. " New Edition. 18mo, price 3s. cloth.
DISSECTIONS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN.
In a Neat Box. Price 6s. each.
1. Scenes from the Lives of Joseph and Moses.
2. Scenes from the History of Our Saviour.
3. Old Mother Hubbard and her Dog.
4. The Life and Death of Cock Eobin.
EACH, TWO SHILLINGS CLOTH.
With Frontispiece, tt-c.
DEE SCHW T ATZEE : an COUNSELS AT HOME ;
amusing Introduction to the with Anecdotes, Tales, &c.
German Language. IGplates.
LE BABILLAED ; an amus-
ing Introduction to the
French Language. 1 6 plates.
MOEAL TALES. By a FA-
THER. With 2 Engravings.
ANECDOTES OF PETEE
THE GEEAT, Emperor of
SUCCESSOBS TO NEWBEEY AXD HARRIS.
ONE SHILLING AND SIXPENCE EACH, CLOTH.
THEODORE ; or, the Cru-
saders. By MRS. HOFLAND.
THE DAUGHTER OF A
GENIUS. A Tale. By
MRS. HOFLAND. Sixth
ELLEN THE TEACHER.
By MBS. HOFLAND. New
THE SON OF A GENIUS.
By MBS. HOFLAND. New
TRIMMER'S (MRS.) OLD
With 40 Engravings.
TRIMMER'S (MRS.) NEW
With 40 Engravings.
a Collection of Original
NINA, an Icelandic Tale.
SPRING FLOWERS and the
LESSONS of WISDOM for
the YOUNG. By the REV.
ONE SHILLING EACH, CLOTH.
YOUNG JEWESS and her
THE CHILD'S DUTY.
DECEPTION and FREDE-
RICK MARSDEN, the
THE HISTORY OF PRINCE
LEE BOO. Twentieth
Price Is. plain, 1. 6d. coloured.
THE DAISY. Twenty-sixth
Edition. With Thirty En-
THE COWSLIP. Twenty-
fourth Edition. With
DURABLE NURSERY BOOKS,
MOUNTED ON CLOTH, WITH COLOURED PLATES,
ONE SHILLING EACH.
1 Alphabet of Goody Two-
3 Cock Robin.
4 Courtship of Jenny
5 Dame Trot and her Cat.
6 History of an Apple Pie.
7 House that Jack built.
8 Little Rhymes for Little
9 Mother Hubbard.
10 Monkey's Frolic.
11 Old Woman and her Pig.
12 Puss in Boots.
13 Tommy Trip's Museum of
Birds, Part I.
1 < . .. p ar f TT
32 PUBLISHED BY GRIFFITH AND FARRAN.
DURABLE BOOKS FOR SUNDAY READING.
SCENES FEOM THE LIVES OF JOSEPH AND MOSES.
With Illustrations by JOHN GILBERT. Printed on Linen.
SCENES FROM THE HISTOEY OF OUR SAVIOUR.
With Illustrations by JOHN GILBERT. Printed on Linen.
DARNELL'S EDUCATIONAL WORKS.
The attention of all interested in the subject of Education is
invited to these Works, now in extensive use throughout the
Kingdom, prepared by Mr. DARNELL, a Schoolmaster of many
1. COPY BOOKS. A SURE AND CERTAIN ROAD TO A GOOD
HAND WRITING, gradually advancing from the Simple
Stroke to a superior Small-hand.
LARGE POST, Sixteen Numbers, 6d. each.
FOOLSCAP, Twenty Numbers, to which are added three Sup-
plementary Numbers of Angular Writing for Ladies, and one
of Ornamental Hands. Price 3d. each.
%* This series may also be had on very superior paper, marble covers,
" For teaching writing I would recommend the use of Darnell's Copy
Books. I have noticed a marked improvement wherever they have been
used." "Report of Mr. Mayo (National School Organizer of Schools') to the
Worcester Diocesan Board of Education.
2. GRAMMAR, made intelligible to Children, Is. cloth.
3. ARITHMETIC, made intelligible to Children, Is. 6d. cloth.
%* Key to Parts 2 and 3, price Is. cloth.
4. READING, a Short and Certain Road to, price 6d. cloth.
GRIFFITH AND FARRAN,
CORNER OF ST PAUL'S CHUKCHYAED.
00 047 885