Page images

Stinsford Hill, which formerly had on its top a deep hole that would take a hand. The catch to a child was, “If you put your hand down into that hole you will find five nails in it.”




parish in which she had formerly lived, that he had holden in his corn from year to year for higher prices, which, however, never rose to the height of his hope while he lived. With a few strong touches she hit off the state of his corn. They vound his granary all vull o’ wheat, asprouted an'a-zweated an'a-matted. They peeled off the rotten zacks in pieces, an' when they wer off, the corn didn' vall abroad but stood up in a ceäke.” (Cake.)

A clergyman's daughter said to a mother, “Oh, your eldest boy earns a little money now.”

“ Lauk, miss! all that he do eärn he do car about wi' en ; we don't have any

o't." “Oh, what a bad boy! I never thought he was so selfish.”

“Oh, I do meän he do car it on his back.” All his earnings went for clothes.

In the talk of good old Dorset folk the voice slides much up and down, and often, as when they speak from kindliness or compassion, it goes by harmonic pitches of octaves, thirds, and fifths. A good neighbour (A) asks her friend (B) for her sick husband, and their tones go most likely thus :


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"Weak as a roller” (a roller or roll of wool as it came off the woolcomber's card fit for the spool).

• Wold (old) as Duncliffe Hill” (a hill in Blackmore).

“Gie (give) a good païl o'milk an' kick it over." (Spoken of one who earns a good income and squanders it.)

“Half a groat want twopence.” (Nothing.)

“The vu'st bird the vu'st eäs.” (The first bird the first earthworm ; first come first served.)

"Sooner burn than turn.” (Its use was thus: A man, a guest it may be, was up in the side of the chimney-corner by a roaring fire, and the host asked him if he found the place too hot. “No," he said ; "an Englishman wull sooner burn than turn." The saying came down, I suppose, from the stake-fires at Smithfield.)

Over the herring-pond.” (Over the sea; transported to Botany Bay.)

“ Next never's tide. Never.” (The Greek calends.)

"To show your teäties” (potatoes). (To show the skin of your heel through a hole in your stocking.)

The mother sometimes tells her child at even that she will send him “where the waggons can't go over him.” (Upstairs to bed.)

I once took a service for a friend, the rector of a neighbouring parish. A gentleman of the congregation made his responses, as I felt, heartily as well as aloud. In the vestry the clerk said to me, “Did you hear make his responses so loud ?” “Yes; I wish all others would do so." "Ah !” said he, “I wish he were so good out of church as he is in.” I was sorry to hear that out of church his voice was often even louder in naughty words.

A parishioner had left to him, by a cousin who died in Canada, a watch and three or four pounds in money, which were sent to him through my hands. Shortly afterwards I said to his wife, "Well, how does the watch go?” “Oh, very well,” said she. “And how does the money go?” “Oh, vaster than the watch a good deal.”

There was, in the Sunday-school of a friend of mine, a boy who began to reform our spelling. My friend saw a little girl weeping, and asked why. “Why,” she said, “ Jim [her brother] have ascrope out the P in Psalm, and a-meäde sich a muddle in his book.” “Well,” said Jim, “what if I have ascrope out the P; what wer the good o'n. He didn' spell anything, did he?”

I was once very pleased at the quick-witted answer of a well-known Dorset gentleman, in a crowd around the hustings on which he was beginning to speak. A man cried out to him, “Open your mouth.” “You shut yours," was the lightning-quick answer; and his mouth was shut.

A woman told me of a miserly farmer of a

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


She was thankful for a thick petticoat which the lady “o' the girt house gave her at Christmas, and then said in praise of the petticoat, “He's as thick as a panceäke; veel o'n" (feel of it), which I did.

I do not mean to say that anger speaks so sweetly, but I do not find that the tart and smart speaking which we now often hear is better than' the slower and more homely old Dorset talk. I think the poor landfolk are taken for dolts when they are only unwilling to let their tongue run before their wit. Ere answering of a question on which a steady man may doubt, he will often say, “Well, now, I wouldn' wish to tell ye a lie, but to the best of my belief,” etc.

[ocr errors]

A shepherd can see two sides of a question of flock-driving. I met a shepherd who was driving some sheep to town in a hedge-sided high road, and said to him, I thought he found it easier driving in a two-hedged lane, in which the sheep were kept together. He had already seen that and another side of the question. He said he thought he would as soon drive sheep over a down where they would not be jostled, and, it may be, hurt, by horses or wheels on the road, or have their feet cut by newly-laid flints.

One of our people, a mother, has a son in the army, and he sent her money for her fare that she might go to see him. He met her at the London station, and took her on in the omnibus, in which was a gentleman who, most likely seeing that she was from the west, said very kindly to her, within sight of the Parliament Houses, “There are the Parliament Houses.” Although she is not on the parish, she did not like some strait laws lately made for the poor, and, thinking the laws of more

moment than the houses in which they were made, was not stunned with the sight of the building, but answered, “Oh, be they? They do meäke zome bad laws there ; that's all I do know about it."

A talk between one of my friends and his man about a stranger in the village. A stranger was seen walking with a villager.

“Who is that walking with A ?” “I don't know, but I do think he's a Lon'oner.” “Why d'ye think that ?"

Well, I do. I zaid jist now to Charles, as he went by us, He's a Lon'oner."

Well, how did you know it?"

Why, I smelled en; he smelled o'smoke. They Lon'oners do smell smoky_like. You do when you've a-been in Lon'on. But, there, I do like to smell you.”

There was a small hollow in the lawn of a friend, and he told his man that he thought it worth while to fill it up. The man wished to show that he had not been wholly unmindful of it. “Aye, sir," said he, “ I've a-dreatened thik hole times out o'mind” (Had threatened the hole that he would fill it up).


[ocr errors]

the movement of the needles was so disordered, that the action of light could not depict clearly the variations, despite the extreme sensibility of


N the middle of last November, from the 11th to the 21st of the month, magnetic disturbances

of an extraordinary intensity were observed, not only in England, France, and Belgium, but in the United States and other countries.

The irregularities and disturbances as observed in our country were reported in the meteorological diaries in the newspapers of the time. We have seen in the French scientific magazine, "La Nature," a statement of the observations made at the Bureau Central Météorologique, at the Observatory of the Parc Saint-Maur.

The first perturbation observed was in the night between the uth and 12th November, the oscillations of the magnetometric needles increasing the following day, when

the declination amounted to 42', the ordinary daily oscillation at that season being only 7 or 8'.

A second and more remarkable disturbance, which might be termed a magnetic storm, from the extent and rapidity of the movements, took place on the 17th November, continuing without interruption from the forenoon of that day to the morning of the 19th. On the first day

SPOTS ON THE SUN, Oct. 26, 1882, AT NOON.

aurora, although always at a short interval after it. 3rd. They were too symmetrical in form and arrangement to be mere condensations of vapour. Each cloud was of a greyish or opal colour, and egg-shaped, the longer axis turned east and west ; between them was a dark interval of about the length of the cloud, while the brightest and most permanent of the series were those at the eastern and western extremities. These clouds remained in sight for probably ten to fifteen minutes after the aurora had sunk to a mere effulgence over the northern horizon scarcely sufficient to attract attention.

We have spoken of the bow of detached clouds as electric, because it has long been recognised by men of science that the Aurora Borealis is a phenomenon connected with electric or magnetic currents passing through the upper regions of the atmosphere ; and an appearance greatly resembling that observed last night can be produced artificially by passing electric currents through what are known as Gassiot's or Geissler's tubes, containing rarefied air or gases. Mr. Bal. four Stewart has suggested that auroræ are air currents, corresponding to earth currents, both being effects due to changes in the magnetism of the globe. As the mariner's needle tells us the world is a huge magnet, with poles that do not quite coincide with the north and south of the earth's axis, and there is abundant evidence that its surface is from time to time swept by magnetic storms as marked as the at. mospheric disturbances that produce cyclones and hurri


the gelatine-bromide paper. Throughout the next night the agitation was excessive, and at 4 a.m. of the 18th was observed the oscillation of greatest magnitude. In three-quarters of an hour the declination varied to 1° 10'. The horizontal motion was greater than the vertical. Next day there was incessant vibratory action, very rapid and pretty uniform, but of less extent than previously. During the night the variation magnitude increased, but next day comparative calm returned. The extreme variations during this period were, for the declination 1° 18', and for the inclination above half a degree.

During this magnetic storm, notably on the 17th, telegraphic communication throughout France was continually disturbed, and at times wholly interrupted, the times of intensity of these disturbances exactly corresponding with the greatest deviations of the curves traced by the magnetic register at the Observatory.

On the evening of the same day magnificent displays of the Aurora Borealis were reported from Douai, Cambrai, Grenoble, Marseilles, Nice, Montpellier, and many other places. At Paris the heavens were brightened not only by auroral lights, but by the rarer phenomenon of electric clouds.

It will be remembered by many that similar phenomena were observed in England. There were the same magnetic disturbances; the same interruption of telegraphic communication; the same display of unusual auroral arches and streamers; and a magnificent appearance of electric clouds. Mr. Preece, the electrician of the postal department, who has during thirty years made these phenomena his special study, declared that he had never before witnessed such a magnetic storm. We may

add that in Canada and in the Eastern States of America the phenomenon attracted equal notice.

In all places the storm seems to have reached its limit on the 20th, and ceased after the 21st. The newspapers of the time contained numerous letters and statements, referring chiefly to the unusual atmospheric appearances. From one of these we quote an article headed “Display of Northern Lights.”

The connection of magnetic phenomena with solar influence has long been known to science. The coincidence of remarkable sun-spots has also in more recent times been observed. Not that the sun-spots are the cause of the terrestrial phenomena, for these are now ascertained to be the result of abnormal action in the sun itself. There is still some dispute as to the real nature of what are called solar spots. The most probable and generally accepted explanation is that these dark irregular appearances are due to tumultuous vortices in the luminous solar photosphere, caused by enormous outbursts of activity in certain parts of the body of the sun. These outbursts are analogous to paroxysms of volcanic activity in our earth, but of inconceivably greater intensity and extent. The projection of matter has been observed to reach far beyond the bound of the photosphere as usually seen; and we can imagine the enormous rush and tumult of the sun's atmosphere caused by such outbreaks. The result of such action would be a cyclonic down-rush of the disturbed part of the photosphere, to fill up gradually the vacuum 'caused by the projected matter from the eruption. As in the earth there are lines or zones of greatest chemical or volcanic energy, so it is known that the disturbances indicated by the solar spots are usually in certain parts of the solar surface, although occasionally immense spots appear in other places. The existence of darker nuclei or centres of the spots, with lighter edges, and these constantly changing in form and outline, confirms this conjecture as to the cyclonic or whirlwind character of the phenomenon. During the fortnight that must elapse between the observation of a spot near the eastern till its disappearance on the western edge of the sun, these variations of shape have often been carefully noted.

If this view of the nature of sun-spots is correct, we might expect the magnetic disturbances in the earth to be synchronous with the earlier outburst of solar activity rather than with the appearance of the sun-spots, which are consequent upon, and

Between half-past six and a quarter to seven on the 17th, or about an hour alter sunset, an arc of greyish white light was formed over the northern horizon, from the centre of which a series of bright ribbon-like streamers darted southwards, converging towards the zenith-the point straight overhead. These fleecy streamers were not specially brilliant nor of any great variety of colour, but they were large and well marked. Towards the north-east of the sky they were somewhat dense and of a greyish hue, but on the north-west horizon, tending towards that part of the heavens from which the last rays of the sun had scarcely disappeared, the aurora was of a dull red colour. Both the arc and the streamers varied considerably after the first ten minutes, nearly disappearing and then bursting forth again.

More remarkable than the arch and the rays darting across the sky was a series of electric clouds, formed from ten to twenty degrees south of the celestial equator, and stretching across the heavens from east to west. That these were not vapour clouds was evident from these facts : Ist. They were self-luminous; as simple clouds they would have been invisible, 2nd. They vanished and re-appeared with the

which mark the passing away of, the crisis of energy

In the French reports of the magnetic stormof which a popular summary was given in “La Nature"—there is reference made to a sun-spot of extraordinary magnitude, as being then visible. But the appearance of this spot had been already announced in England nearly a month before.

The earliest record of it is in a letter to the "Times,” sent by the editor of the “ Leisure Hour," and published in the" Times" of Saturday, October 28, after the usual meteorological report. The letter was as follows:

brought the spot again to view was any other notice taken of it, when letters again appeared in the “Times” in the latter part of November. The spot was as large in October as in November, and therefore the connection with the magnetic storm in the latter month, without as great disturbance in the previous month, needs explanation.

The spot in April was accompanied by a remarkable magnetic convulsion on the earth's surface, the varying intensity of which was beautifully marked on the photographs of the movements of the magnetic instruments at the Observatory.

The spot last seen is the largest ever photographed at the Royal Observatory, but far larger dimensions are reported by older observers. M. Pastorff, in 1828, estimated one at 75,000 miles in diameter; and Schwabe, on September 30, 1858, described one as extending from east to. west 142,000 miles. The measurements, however, can never be exact, as the extent of the nucleus, and still more of the penumbra, must vary according to the clearness of the earth's atmosphere'at the time of observing and photographing. *

Turning my glass to the sun's disk about 10 a.m. on ThursKlay (the 26th October), when the fog veiled the light, I noticed near the lower edge a spot of unusual magnitude. This part of the sun's surface has been of late subject to a large degree of activity, and is the same region where in April last a magnificent spot appeared, accompanied by much magnetic convulsion on the earth's surface. At the Royal Observatory a daily photograph is taken of the sun, on referring to which the measurement of this spot is about 35,000 miles in diameter in one direction, and 40,000 miles in another direction. The dark spot was visible to the naked eye through the veiling fog, and may be seen for a few days by using a smoked glass, as in observing an eclipse.

The appearance was so striking that the writer of that note consulted Mr. E. Dunkin, of the Royal Observatory, before calling public attention to it, and the details as to its size were then communicated. Not till the solar revolution had

* In “Nature," for Nov. 23 and Nov. 30, will be found a record of many of the observed magnetic disturbances then recently reported. See also the newspapers of the time. In the “ Leisure Hour" volumes for 1860 and for 1878 will be found papers upon Sun-spots, the latter by Edwin Dunkin, F.R.S., of the Royal Observatory. It would be well to examine whether notable magnetic disturbances are recorded as having been coincident with the remarkable sun-spots of 1828 and of March and September, 1858.




MOST extraordinary fact in ornithology has recently been discovered in New Zealand.

In some of the high mountain districts the shepherds on the great sheep-runs have within the last few years been sorely harassed by some unknown foe, which, in the most unaccountable manner, attacked and cruelly wounded a considerable number of their sheep, invariably selecting the finest and fattest of the flock. So stealthy were the approaches of this ruthless foe that for many months no clue could be obtained by which it might be recognised. That it was some evil bird of prey was evident from the fact that the blood-stained snow never revealed any track or trail.

Still, none suspected where to lay the blame; and when at length a shepherd on one of the high stations ventured to suggest that he thought the aggressor was none other than the large olive-green mountain parrot, his idea was treated as altogether nonsensical. Nevertheless, he was right, and before very long positive proof was obtained, for one of these mischievous birds was actually seen perched on the back of a sheep just behind the saddle, busily tearing apart the wool to get at the flesh.

Then it was discovered that this parrot, like the owl, is a night bird, and that all the mischief was done under cover of darkness. Strange to say, every sheep attacked was wounded in precisely the same place, always just in front of the hips, directly above the kidneys, and though happily in many cases the sheep were so slightly wounded as to recover, only retaining a scar, yet whenever the parrot had time to carry out its bloodthirsty work, the plan of action had been the same.

The flesh was torn aside, not eaten till these skilful anatomists reached the delicate fat which lies all about the kidneys. This was the dainty coveted by these horrible epicures, who, having feasted thereon, desired nothing further, but left the wretched sheep to perish in slow agony.

The most extraordinary part of the matter is that these fleshly appetites have only recently been developed, the great clan parrot being by nature vegetarians, and wont to find their food in the fruits and dainty green buds of the forests. The old French proverb says, “L'occasion fait le larron" (Opportunity makes the thief), and in former years the parrots had no inducement to carnivorous habits, because New Zealand had literally no indigenous animals.

But when, quite recently, sheep were introduced to the islands, and still more recently large sheepruns were established right up into those elevated

districts where the kea, or mountain parrot (Nestor } notabilis), abounds, this was bringing temptation

very near. Then came severe winters, when for weeks the forests lay buried in deep snow, and all living things were reduced to starvation. Tamed by hunger, great flocks of keas came to the settlements, with an instinct that there some food might be obtained. They found larders in the open air, called meat-gallows, and on these were hanging carcasses of sheep all ready for human use.

The starving parrots tasted this unknown food, and found it so much to their liking that from that time forward they have eaten meat in preference to fruit, and have become the cruel scourge of the sheep-runs in the mountain districts, far more deadly foes than the hooded crows and the kites. The most extraordinary thing is that these horrible birds do not kill the sheep at once, nor do they even devour them in a conscientiously hungry manner. Their sole object is to secure the dainty fat aforesaid.

It is evident that in experimenting on the carcasses on the meat-gallows they might very naturally begin by attacking the kidneys, but how they came to understand that these unsightly corpses bore any relation to the fleecy flocks so recently imported is a mystery. Still more remarkable is it that they should have made such accurate anatomical observations as to ascertain the position of the kidneys in a living sheep. Certain it is that from that time forward ever-increasing numbers of sheep have been attacked by these bloodthirsty foes, and invariably in the same manner.

So terrible is the devastation wrought by these dreadful parrots that one sheep-station

reports that out of a flock of three hundred fine young wethers

two hundred have been so cruelly injured within five months that they have all died ! Still more serious in proportion has been the loss at Matatapa, where, out of a flock of twenty valuable Lincoln rams, nineteen were killed within one month by these pretty green parrots. The general average of loss from this cause in the districts within their range is now estimated at four per cent. in every flock.

In severe winters it is much higher, for the poor sheep, being exhausted by their struggles to get through the deep snow, become stupefied, and then the ever-watchful focs alight on their backs, always selecting the same point of attack; and fastening their sharp claws in the long fleece, they tear open the flesh with their cruel hooked beaks (which are strong powerful weapons, about two inches in length). Vainly do the defenceless creatures writhe beneath their ruthless tormentors, there is no escape; not till the last morsel of kidney fat has been devoured will these barbarous vivisectors abandon their victims, leaving them to endure the anguish of a lingering death.

Of course the settlers now wage a war of extermination against these evil birds, and offer a reward of a shilling a head for every dead kea. This has given rise to a new profession; many of the mountain rangers now devote their nights to the task of slaying parrots. They explore the bleakest sheepruns and kindle blazing fires to attract these birds of night. But the keas now seem to have a guilty consciousness of their deserts, for these birds, formerly so bold, now shun the haunts of men, and it has become exceedingly difficult to get within range. One was captured alive, after a severe fight, in which it scratched and bit its captor mercilessly. It has been brought to the Zoological Gardens, where it retains its recently-acquired carnivorous tastes.




'HERE is no social feature in which the for

mer times and our own afford a greater

contrast than in the treatment of the insane. The contrast indicates many changes and marks progress in many directions. The advancement of medical knowledge and practice is one of the least of these changes in general interest. The disappearance of the old horrors of Bedlam is due to the more humane spirit of the times as much as to professional enlightenment. The influence of Christianity pervading the community has made itself felt in wise and humane legislative action in reference to the large number of afflicted people, formerly regarded with superstitious aversion and treated with barbarous cruelty. Medical men have led the way in this revolution, but their words would have commanded little attention had they not been addressed to a public opinion prepared to listen, by influences which had already

produced a higher tone of moral and religious civilisation.

The story of this revolution, both in its professional and social aspects, has been told by one well qualified to estimate what is due both to science and philanthropy.* Dr. Daniel Hack Tuke, president of the Medico-psychological Association, is the representative of a family, and of a religious body, to which this and many other reforms have been greatly indebted. The York Retreat, the asylum specially patronised by the Society of Friends, was one of the first to exhibit a more humane method of treatment. Of this well-known establishment William Tuke, grandfather of the author, was the founder; and his

History of the Insane in the British Isles. By D. H. Tuke, M.D. (Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co.) A valuable book of reference to the legal as well as medical profession, and containing much practical as well as historical information.

« PreviousContinue »