« PreviousContinue »
Gasbow, in which all the individuals are born with a sixth finger and toe! These supplementary fingers are only the sixth part of the size of the ring finger, and have only one or two phalanges. A child was born in one of these families without the supernumerary finger, and this gave rise to a curious question in legal medicine. The father, who lived on bad terms with his wife, took occasion to commence proceedings against her, suing for a divorce, on the plea of adultery being proved by the absence of the family mark. This being the only proof against his wife, he was nonsuited."-Medical Adviser.-There is one plea the man might have brought forward: that of his wife's having had a natural child. These tendencies in human organization to vary the usual appearances of the frame, are worthy the best attention of philosophers. They give rise to speculations, the dignity of which might be compromised by too brief and sudden a handling. Zerah Colburn, the American boy, who exhibited such an extraordinary instinct of arithmetic, and despatched sums in a twinkling, that required long calculation from the readiest, had six fingers and toes, like the family in question, or at least indications of them; and the others are not of the usual size. Was his arithmetical faculty connected with any natural facility of computation, arising from this addition to the usual sum of digits? Did he instinctively feel his way better to a sum total, in consequence of that extraordinary modification of what has been finely called
The instrument of instruments, the hand?
Finally, has any such faculty been observed in the two German families; and if so, was it observable in the first instance in the progenitors? Had the other calculating child, Bidder, any such indications? If innovations of this kind in offspring could be traced to any peculiar tendencies in the parents, or to any extraordinary circumstances in which they were situated, the progress of knowledge might open. to us views of improvement and elevation, which the sage who considers the mystery of the universe, and by what energy or vitality or great impulse we live, and move, and have our being, will certainly not be the first to pronounce impossible.
REVOLUTION and RESTORATION.-When Charles X. opened the present sitting of the French Chambers, he put on his hat, and then told the Peers to be seated; after which the Chancellor said to the Deputies, "Gentlemen, the King permits you to be seated." When Louis XVI. opened the sitting of the States General in 1789, he put on his hat, and the three orders covered themselves at the same time. "The Commons, contrary to the usage of the ancient States," observes Miguet, in his candid and spirited History of the French Revolution, "imitated, without hesitation, the clergy and the noblesse. The time had passed away when it was necessary for the third estate to stand uncovered, and speak upon its knees." That time, we trust, has passed away, never to return.
IMPERIAL HABITS.-The Emperor Nicholas began his reign by making the favourite regiment a present of the late Emperor's clothes. Never were pantaloons so pathetic. Imagine a sentimental Russian dragoon approaching a waistcoat with tears in his eyes! doating in solitude on a flap! or fancying he received a benediction from a hollow sleeve! Bonaparte would have found in this bequest a touching allusion to the Emperor's talent for armyclothing. By the by, it was once the fancy to call Napoleon, Nicholas, by way of derision. Did this originate with some prophetical Russian wag We have not yet heard any person, by way of joke, called Napoleon.
INDORSEMENTS IN PENCIL. WILL WRITTEN ON SAND. In an action
brought the 3rd of the month, on a promissory note for 301., indorsed in pencil marks, the Court of King's Bench decided that the indorsement was good. The Lord Chief Justice added, that the decision was not likely to do mischief; the imperfection of this mode of writing being so great, that persons would be induced to take care and have indorsements in ink, wherever ink could be procured. Very touching anecdotes transpire incidentally in courts of law. Mention was made of the will of a dying soldier written upon the sand with the point of his sword. This will the law held to be valid.
MEETING, AND EATING, OF PARLIAMENT.-The House of Commons are now going through a course of dinners with the Speaker. The ministerial dinner was the first: the second, or opposition, to which Mr. Brougham and the other leading members were invited, took place the day following. The other dinners follow on the same days, Saturday and Sunday, every successive week, from thirty to thirty-five members being invited each time. After the first two grand dinners, the invitations are made without any distinction of politics. This interchange of amenities between the Speaker and his house is very good and preparatory. 'Eating together," as Dr. Johnson would say, promotes good will. Sir, commensality is benevolent." MUNDEN AMIABLE.-On the night of this excellent actor's farewell to the public, a critic and admirer of his, of whom he has reason to be proud, and who is apt to get thirsty in the boxes, was agreeably surprised to see the boxdoor opened, and a pot of porter thrust in by the hand of the grateful veteran. It was received in all humanity, the modus very properly being set at nought in behalf of the genius, loci. When Frank S. the punster was told of this, he said it was no wonder, every body knowing very well, that Mr. L. had been one of Munden's greatest sup-porters.
UNITED AGES.-There are some arithmetical non-entities, upon which people seem to agree to play the fool. Every new century, the gravest heads are disputing whether the hundred years begin or end with their full complement,-whether the late century stops before its final ten is complete, or the new one begins, as other series begin, with a fresh number 1. An equal folly is manifested in the wonderment about united ages. What has a combination of co-existing things to do with a particular series? Five old people are made to club together such and such a number of years. What does this do but attempt to impose upon the understanding by a great sound and an imaginary existing quantity? You may club the ages of a parcel of children together, till they amount to seventy or eighty, and sound like a pack of old men-a corporate grandfather :—and this would be just as wise.
AMERICAN LAW CASE.-WAGER RESPECTING BONAPARTE.-The defendant in this case betted 100 to 50 dollars, with the plaintiff, on the 14th of March, 1821, that Napoleon Bonaparte would, before two years from that day, be removed or escape from the Island of St. Helena; and it was agreed that if he died there within that period, the defendant should be considered as having lost the bet. He died at St. Helena within the time limited. The question was on the validity of the wager.-Judge Kean, president, was of opinion, that wagers in general were recoverable by law. He was for giving judgment in favour of the plaintiff. Judge Barnes was of opinion that all wagers were unlawful in Pennsylvania, and of course this could not be the subject of an action. Judge Hollowell was of opinion that the authorities both in England and America, were too numerous and weighty in support of the recovery of wagers in general, to be overturned by any power but that of the Legislature; but that this particular wager was void. The counsel for the plaintiff expressed an intention to take this interesting case, by writ of error, to the Supreme Court, for final adjudication.-Surely it is better to leave disputes of this kind to moral opinion. The law, when it encourages betting, encourages gambling; but the public would never hesitate to express their opinion of a bet, made in a reasonable and gentlemanly spirit on one side, and shabbily eluded on the other. The dilemma of the present question appears to arise from having neglected to secure a distinction between death and removal. Napoleon was removed out of life, but not out
of the island. The defendant seems to have taken for granted, that if he died, he would be taken away.
CHILDREN BURNT.-A daily paper, of the 9th ult., says, that within six weeks from that date, no less than eleven children had lost their lives by their clothes catching fire. "Would it not be better," adds the writer, "to clothe children in woollen?" We should think every parent must answer in the affirmative. Meanwhile, children should be taught what measures to take, in case of accidents. Many boys and girls of a tender age have more presence of mind than is supposed. These might materially assist others; and where the fire had not got to an alarming pitch, the less courageous might feel inspired by the necessity with a due effort. The main point (which, though well known, may not be known to every body) is to make the individual lie down, in order that the fire may take a direction away from the body, and then to resort to the first woollen substance at hand, particularly the hearth rug, in order to stifle the flames. Hearth-rugs, on this acconnt, should never be brought under the fender, so as to take time in disengaging.
NAVAL SKETCH BOOK.-This is literally what it professes to be,-a sketchbook; but the sketches are spirited, and the author shows himself a seaman of the very best order, able to appreciate things out of the pale of his profession, but jealous of the consideration due to it in matters where the experience of it is necessary. He is equally against professional ignorance and unprofessional ignorance; and while he deals his sarcasms against "false brethren" of all denominations with as little ceremony as he would his balls at sea, he delights in hailing the merits of a Pakenham and a Hall. He writes “all like a man;" a little coarsely here and there, but still in a good spirit. Salt water is salt water; not quite so palatable to the taste as it might be; but, as he well observes, you must take the profession as it is, the coarse and the fine, the rough and the smooth together, or it would not be the strenuous thing it is, able to work out its own robust purpose; and carry us triumphantly round the globe. Our author's seamen are rough subjects; but he is not one of those officers who are "no soldiers." He does ample justice, without cant, to the humanity within them, to the heart within "the heart of oak;" telling some excellent stories, serious and comic, particularly a delicious one about Captain (now Sir James) Gordon, and a fellow who pretended he had lost the use of an arm. It is a pity there are so many seaphrases in the book, unintelligible to us Philonauts, who, at least while we are reading, would fain not be lubbers. But these difficult passages are principally confined to the narratives put in the mouths of the seamen themselves. The work opens with a capital account of a midshipman's first experiences on board ship. There are some good remarks, written in a very manly and candid spirit, on Admiral Ekins's interesting work upon Naval Battles; and the Quarterly Reviewers are presented with some, not so pleasant, on the summary manner in which they undertake to cut and carve out the North Pole for us; and make no bones of the "thick-ribbed ice." Our author has here shown his talent at handling what may be called a criticism o' nine tails.
THE FITZWILLIAM MUSIC.-In confessing ourselves lovers of all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious Christmas, in-doors and out of doors, parties, plum-puddings, pantomimes, holly-boughs, galanty-shows, wassail-bowls, forfeits, misletoe, and all thereunto belonging, we hold it no unseasonable intrusion of the sentimental to add, that we love to lie awake a little at night, in the intervals of our gaieties, and listen to those mysteriously denominated persons, the waits; always provided, that the performer of the bass is not totally ignorant of that part of his art. We have a tender recollection of the homely Christmas carol, that used to be sung at school; nor can we hear, without particular emotion at this season, that divine composition of Handel's, with its recitative full of singleness of purpose and a truly pastoral simplicity, "There were shepherds abiding in the fields." Sacred music never seems to be so sacred and so musical as at this period; never less allied to the dogmas of any sect; or more full of those sweet suggestions for all, which belong both to the best music, and the best Christianity. With our
ears thus attuned to the occasion, it is with special gratification that we have the new year opened, as it were, with the re-awakening of some of the finest organic strains of the Leos and Durantes of old. Long had we heard of those names, and long desired to know something more of thier congenial sounds. Mr. Novello, in his publication under the above title, has brought them like spirits from the other world," with their singing-robes about them." The work is selected (we need not add in how masterly a manner) from the valuable collection of Manuscripts, Works of Art, &c., bequeathed to the University of Cambridge by the late Earl Fitzwilliam; and presents us in the first number just published, with noble compositions, hitherto unpublished, from the pen of Carissimi, Palestrina, Clari, Pergolesi, the other great masters above mentioned, and more of the same school. The old choirs of Italy re-open upon us, and pour forth their peals and appeals to heaven, in all their grandeur, and softness, and affectionate entreaty; now splendid as the other pomp of their service, now flowing as their robes, now tender, and breathing away in aspiration, as the perfume in their censers. Mr. Novello has here done for the musical world, what a literary man would do for us who should discover new Manuscripts of Spenser and Milton.
THE BIRDS OF PASSAGE.
BIRDS, joyous Birds of the wandering wing!
"We have swept o'er cities, in song renown'd-
We have cross'd proud rivers, whose tide hath roll'd
"We have found a change, we have found a pall,
Through the halls of Kings doth the tempest go!
Say, what have
"A change we have found there, and many a change!
Gone are the heads of the silvery hair,
And the young that were, have a brow of care,
Sad is your tale of the beautiful earth,
Birds that o'ersweep it in power and mirth!
Yet, through the wastes of the trackless air,
Ye have a guide, and shall we despair?
Ye over desert and deep have pass'd
-So shall we reach our bright home at last!F. H.
EXTRACTS FROM THE JOURNAL OF AN ARCHITECT.
MAY 8th, 182-. After having lost two or three days in procuring passports, engaging a vettura, and arranging with one another, we found ourselves at eight o'clock this morning at the Ponte della Madalena, on the way to Pæstum. The day had been dull, with occasional showers, so that we saw not the fine scenery to the best advantage. Vesuvius was buried almost to its base in mist, but the fields of lava were enough to determine its vicinity. After Ætna, Vesuvius dwindles, and loses half its interest; the streams of lava from the latter, congealed about its base, appear like a sea ruffled by light breezes, while the terrific fields around Etna can only be compared to an ocean torn by violent tempests: both present horrid pictures of desolation, but the one is only a miniature copy of the other. While the mind is ruminating on the scenes about Vesuvius, the ashy mounds thrown from exhumated Pompeii appear, and deepen the effect already produced; but soon other scenes are presented, and bring other feelings with them. Th "sublime and beautiful," from Cava to Salerno, can never be forgottenby those who have once enjoyed them; they hang upon the memory like a fairy dream. The city of Salerno, on the gulph of the same name, is hemmed in by lofty hills, the declivities of which are covered by it. It contains little or nothing that is interesting. We went up to the cathedral, and saw several antique sarcophagi with rude bassi relievi sculptured on them, something in the style of those on the well-known sarcophagus in the church of St. Lorenzo beyond the walls (fuóri le murà) at Rome. The cathedral itself is unworthy of notice, except for the variety of style to be seen in it; from the picturesque Gothic tower, to the vile cinque cento elevation.
From Salerno (which is twenty-eight miles from Naples) to Eboli, there are many interesting views, but they are not at all to be compared with those about Cava. At this place (Eboli) we have found a very roomy and tolerably clean locanda.
9th. I awoke at five o'clock this morning; but, hearing the rain pelt on the window of my cell, composed myself to sleep again, but my compa nions, being differently inclined, soon roused me, and we set off for Pæstum. The scenery, as we passed along, was almost entirely obscured by the haze, and the road along which we jogged could not have been easily made worse. On our arrival at the Taverna del Vescovo, in the city of Pæstum, my fellowstudent and I were not a little pleased to find that we could have a room and a bed, such as they were,-the latter article fortunately wide enough for two; not that we lost any time in inquiring about that, it being merely an affair of five words at the carriage-door, for we turned, as a Frenchman would say, with the greatest enthusiasm to see what yet remained of the ancient city. We were already within the walls, and had before us the Temple of Ceres, which for me had not so much the charm of novelty, as I have seen the Sicilian temples, and they are more beautiful; but, when I approached the majestic fane of Neptune, I could have exclaimed, in the words of the Queen of Sheba, "Behold, the one half of thy greatness was not told me, for thou exceedest the fame that I heard!" Perhaps, however, none but an architect, and one, too, who is a lover of Greek architecture, would so appreciate it at first sight. This temple is of the Greek Doric order, hexastyle, peripteral, and hypæthral, with fourteen columns on the flank; the internal peristylia are lower than is usual, and are surmounted by a second story or attic of small columns, the entablature of course intervening. The antæ (or angle pilasters) at both ends remain, but the walls of the cella are gone to the level of the floor; the columns in their places, except some of the small ones. The style of this temple is very much like that of the Temple of Concord at Agrigentum; but the latter has decided advantages in point of situation, and in the richer colour of its inaterial. The architectural effect of this suffers too in comparison; for the Temple of Concord agrees with the Athenian April 1826.-VOL. XVI. NO. LXIV.