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to be so. Far more commonly it is the blight of budding talent, the killing frost. Only when it is dead and buried the world knows nothing about it; whereas if perchance it struggles through into vigorous life it makes all the braver show for its early difficulties. If the lad Joseph Wright had had fourteen hours a day in an office or a workshop, he might have imperilled his bread-andcheese occasionally by caricaturing his superiors in pen-and-ink or chalk, and spoiled a good clerk or an efficient mechanic by dreaming of art when he ought to have been wide awake at his work, but we should hardly have had his pictures on the walls of our National Gallery, or doing honour to his native town. Fortunately his father—who was at one time Town Clerk of Derby, was able to allow the youth to follow his natural bent, and Joseph Wright was, at the age of seventeen, placed under the tuition of Hudson, the most eminent London portrait painter of his day, and the master of Reynolds and Mortimer. He studied with Hudson for two years, and then returned to Derby, subse. quently going back to London, however, and taking another course of tuition. This speaks well for him.
A young man of nineteen who has studied art for two years under the same master will be extremely likely to flatter himself that he knows about all that master can teach. If Joseph Wright ever fancied so, he evidently found and recognised his mistake. He went back to Hudson, and studied under him for another fifteen months.
Those who knew this man best have spoken of him as singularly teachable, always willing to learn from books, from friends, from pictures, from nature. Wright was always picking up notions and gaining fresh inspirations. One of his mightiest sources of inspiration—that which seems to have given his art its most striking and original direction—was Mount Vesuvius in eruption. In 1773 he married and went to Italy, and while there, says one of his relatives in a brief sketch of his career prefixed to the exhibition catalogue of his works," he saw a memorable eruption of Vesuvius, and there is little doubt it was this
magnificent scene which inspired him to follow the painting of stormy effects of light and shade, a branch in which no English painter has excelled him.” He seems ever after his journey to Italy to have been singularly fascinated by effects of artificial illumination. He maintained an appreciation for the study of such effects—the light, a lamp, or the ruddy ficker of a fire, being thrown on such objects as he wished to paint. He was always on the alert for accidental plays of light and shadow, and some of his pictures are certainly very striking. We remember some years ago seeing one of them in a private gallery. It was hung on a screen, forming a kind of cupboard,
and it marked by those in charge of the gallery that it was amusing to observe how often visitors would partly close the door and peep into the cupboard to see whether the candle really did emit any light! His most famous picture of this kind is one which represents a philosopher giving a lecture on the Orrery with a lamp for the centre of the system in place of the sun. It is a picture about five feet by six and a half, and constitutes one of the most remarkable features of the Derby Exhibition. Some of his moonlight effects
are very striking, and, what is more, they are most faithful to nature. It is easy to produce a picture conveying a superficial idea of moonlight. It is only to paint all objects obscurely dark, and to glint upon them here and there a cold bluishwhite light.
Wright, however, seems to have been all his days a close and careful observer of nature, and a conscientious painter, and could not be satisfied with meretricious tricks and mere stagey conventionalities. His moonlight scenes are as carefully painted as those by daylight, and are very highly esteemed. He was especially fond, too, of scenes in which the cold light of the moon and the ruddy glow of a lamp or fire could be combined-such, for instance, as a view of a lighthouse under the pale beams of the moon. In one picture shown in the exhibition he has painted some ruins on the coast of Naples by moonlight, and he has not only managed to get
in Vesuvius in the distance, but has introduced a group of figures round a fire. In another picture he shows the interior of a stable by torchlight, while the light of the moon is shown through the open door. Several of his most noteworthy pictures are of this character. Effects of artificial light may be regarded as Joseph Wright's specialty, but his versatility is remarkable, and the collection at Derby rendered this very observable. Comparatively few painters have taken as large a range of subjects.
Joseph Wright was always “ Wright of Derby," and it is very probable that if he had had somewhat less honour in his own country he would, in his own time at least, have enjoyed a somewhat higher repute. He once made a change from Derby to Bath, and
urged to settle in London. In Bath, however, he was not very successful, and he went back to his own town, where, eventually, he seems to have been too busy with his beloved art, and too much attached to his native place, to permit of his being allured by any advantages of life in London. His life-long residence in Derby has led to his being commonly spoken of as a "local artist.” He was not "local,” however, in any disparaging sense. He was an Associate of the Royal Academy, in whose schools he had studied for a time, and ultimately was elected one of the illustrious body: but before this honour was accorded to him he had been piqued by what he conceived to be a slight put upon him by the Academicians, and when their
secretary went down to Derby to tender their diploma, he indignantly rejected it. Thus, although duly elected a full member of the Royal Academy, and as such entitled to write himself “R.A.,” he never did so; “probably," it has been remarked, the only instance of an artist who refused this culminating honour of a British artist's life.”
“In his person,” says a biographer," he was rather above the middle size, and when young was esteemed a very handsome man.” “ Handsome is,” however, “as handsome does,” according to the old adage, and it is pleasant to be able to add that not only was “Wright of Derby” an honourable upright man, with a fine scorn for all sorts of Bohemianism, but that “in his works the atten
ion is ever directed to the cause of virtue. ... Not one immoral or corrupt thought occurs to wound the sense of delicacy or induce a wish that so exquisite a pencil had found employment on more worthy subjects.",
During his visit to Italy he appears unfortunately to have laid, by excessive labour and exertion, the foundation of an illness which troubled him more or less till the very day of his death, which took place in 1797, after some two years and a half of confinement to his bed, during which he seems to have suffered greatly. He was buried in St. Alkmund's Church, in Derby, which now, after the lapse of nearly a century, has done honour to itself as well as to its famous artist, by getting together more than a hundred of his works.
THE FIRST BALLOON ASCENT.
'HE ascent of the First Balloon will be cele
brated this month. Just one hundred years
have passed since the brothers Montgolfier made their first public experiment. On the 5th of June, 1783, they invited the people of Annonay, not far from Lyons, to witness the ascent of a fire balloon of their construction. It was made of pieces of linen buttoned together, inflated with the smoke of chopped straiv, and let go, when, to the delight of the multitude, it rose to some height, and drifted a mile and a half in ten minutes, before it came down in a vineyard. The brothers had assured themselves of success by a previous experiment on a smaller scale, but to the spectators it was something they had always deemed impossible. Nobody went up with the balloon, which did not carry with it a source of supply, and which consequently only leapt into the air, and rapidly exhausted the strength of the inpulse; but as eight men could hardly hold it down, there was no doubt one at least could have gone up, and kept the straw smouldering. This was the first public ascent.
As quickly as possible, and with considerable improvements, the experiment was repeated at Paris, this time with varnished silk, and hydrogen gas instead of smoke. The balloon rose
hundred feet, but was not allowed to rise higher. While thus suspended, it was escorted by horse and foot soldiers from the heart of Paris to the Champs de Mars, and there released in the sight of all Paris, when it rose 3,000 feet, and travelled fifteen miles in three-quarters of an hour.
A little later Joseph Montgolfier, coming to Paris, constructed a large balloon, still inflated very cheaply and very quickly with smoke, which rose 3,000 feet, and travelled two miles. The first aerial voyagers were a sheep, a cock, and a duck, which were sent up by him on the 19th of September, 1783, in the presence of the royal family, at Versailles, on the occasion commemorated in the old engraving which we reproduce.
It was not thought prudent to trust human life to a fire balloon till the experiment of a partial ascent had been tried with the balloon held fast by ropes. In this manner M. Pilâtre de Rozier ascended 100 feet on the 15th of October, and 324 feet on the 19th. The first persons who offered to leave the earth entirely were the Marquis d'Arlandes and M. Pilâtre de Rozier; and they performed this feat at the Château de la Muette, near Passy, November 21, 1783, in a montgolfier. The following is the Procès Verbal, which describes this most interesting of all voyages :
being in the car. It was at first intended to retain the machine awhile with ropes, to judge what weight it would bear and see that all was right. But the wind prevented it from rising vertically, and directed it towards one of the garden walks : the ropes made several rents in it, one of six feet long. It was brought down again, and in two hours was set right. Having been filled again, it set off at fifty-four minutes past one, carrying the same persons. It rose in the most majestic manner, and when it was about 270 feet high the intrepid voyagers took off their hats and saluted the spectators. No one could help feeling a mingled sentiment of fear and admiration. The voyagers were soon undistinguish
agreed to descend ; but seeing that the wind was carrying them upon the houses of the Rue de Séve, Faub. St. Germain, they preserved their presence of mind, increased the fire, and continued their course through the air till they had crossed Paris. They then descended quietly on the plain, beyond the new boulevard, opposite the mill of Croulebarbe, without having felt the slightest inconvenience, and having in the car two-thirds of their fuel. They could then, if they had wished, have gone three times as far as they did go, which was 5,000 toises, done in from twenty to twenty-five minutes. The machine was 70 feet high, 46 feet in diameter, it contained 60,000 cubic feet, and carried a weight of from 1,600 to 1,700 pounds. Given at the château of La Muette, at five in the afternoon. Signed, Duc de Polignac, Duc de Guisnes, Comte de Polastron, Comte de Vaudreuil, D'Hunaud, Benjamin Franklin, Faujas de St. Fond, de Lisle, le Roy, of the Academy of Sciences.”
Numerous experimental voyages followed. It was not till January 7, 1785, that M. Blanchard and Dr. Jeffries crossed the Channel; they set out from Dover and landed in the forest of Guinnes, having been obliged to throw out their stock to prevent the balloon falling into the sea. A monument was afterwards erected on the spot where they alighted.
The internal hangings of the Caaba are provided once only by each sultan, at his accession. This canopy, when completed, is shaped exactly like that profoundly interesting "canopy of an Egyptian queen” which Mr. Villiers Stuart, M.P., has recently described and illustrated-i.e., like a cross. It consists of a central square about ten strides each way, and four lappets, one hanging from each side of the central square, also ten strides long and about three deep. The Caaba is almost a perfect cube of thirty feet every way, and the canopy covers the whole top of it, and each of its four sides to the depth of ten feet, without forming festoons at the corners as it would if it were a square carpet. It is partly made up in the citadel of Cairo, but immediately after the close of the Ramazan, a great Mohammedan fast, and the Lesser Bairam, Eed-ul-Fitr, the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” it is carried in procession through the streets from the Citadel to one of the mosques to be completed. It is carried through the streets in its five separate pieces, the central square and four lateral lappets, together with the portière. This is “The Procession of the Carpet.” In this stage it is in no sense a holy carpet ; indeed, it is quite the reverse, for it is made of silk, and silk, as an animal excrement, is unclean among Mohammedans until mixed with cotton. This is what is done at the mosque, its five parts being there sewn together and backed with cotton ; while its surface is broidered all over with texts from the Koran affirmative of the unity of God. Judging by the dates, it could not have been at this “Procession of the Carpet" that our troops were present. When the carpet has been completed it is placed in charge of the leader of the Mecca pilgrims. They parade the streets of Cairo at starting in what is called the “Proces, sion of the Litter.” Some former ruler of Egypt, a usurping slave girl, I believe, made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and subsequent rulers not wishing to be behindhand with her in this respect, and yet finding it impossible to attend in person, instituted the custom of sending their litter to represent them, just as in Europe we send our empty carriages to funerals, This litter is exactly like an enormous Indian bandy-box, covered with beautifully embroidered hangings, and is carried on the back of a tall camel, and is the symbol of the reigning Sultan of Turkey. It was, judging by the date, evidently this “ Procession of the Litter” which our troops attenderi, and in compliment to the sultan, who was fictitiously present in his imperial litter, and not at all in salutation of the Canopy of the Caaba. The carpet is there, but still as an unconsecrated piece of furniture, carefully stowed away with the baggage of the leader of the caravan. It is only after it has covered the Caaba for a year that anything like sanctity attaches to it, and even then anything like an idolatrous sentiment in connection with it would be more abhorrent to a Mohammedan than even to a Christian. It lies on the Caaba for a year. Then, about the end of the Ramazan, it is cut up in pieces to be sold to the incoming pilgrims as charms. During this time the Caaba remains uncovered, and it is not until the arrival of the pilgrims from Cairo that it is re-covered with the new carpet sent by the sultan. This takes place at the Greater Bairam, or Bakari eed, the greatest festival or the whole Mohammedan year, held in remembrance of the miraculous substitution of a goat in the place of Ishmael, of whom (and not Isaac), according to the Mohammedan tradition, Abraham was about to make a sacrifice. It will be seen, therefore, how little of an idolatrous spirit is from first to last associated in Mohammedan feeling with the passage of the so-called—by English writers -"holy" carpet through Cairo on its way to Mecea. The presence of our troops on such an occasion tould in Mohammedan eyes be regarded only as a compliment to the sultan or the khedive, and is in itself as innocent as their annual part in the Lord Mayor's show.-George Birdwood.
This marvel of the last century has been eclipsed by many wonders of our own. While steam and electricity have transformed half the world, the problem of aerial navigation remains still unsolved.*
For a full account of “The Balloon and its Application," see a series of papers by James Glaisher, F.R.S., in the "Leisure Hour" for 1864.
The Canopy of the Caaba. 58 I venture to address to you the following brief account of the usual ceremonies attending the annual departure of the great caravan of pilgrims from Cairo to Mecca, in order to show that the presence of our troops at them this year does not in the least implicate us, as a Christian people, in anything the least of the character of an idolatrous act. I write from information acquired in Bombay. The Sultan of Turkey provides the Caaba of Mecca every year with a new canopy, and a new veil, or portière, for the entrance door.
which formed so conspicuous a meteor in the morning sky in the autumn. It was first seen in South American observatories before the middle of September. For some weeks it was a magnificent object in our own sky. We give a sketch of its site on the star map of the southern sky on November 8, at four a.m. (In the " Midnight Sky” of Mr. Dunkin, the January midnight map represents the southern sky of November 8 at four a.m.) The figure gives an inadequate impression of the magnificence of the appearance from the small scale of the map. The maximum estimate of the length of the tail was from twenty-five to thirty degrees. From all parts of the world reports came of the splendid appearance of this comet. It was a conspicuous object during the war in Egypt, and we lately gave an account of it, received from Mr. W. Wyatt Gill at Rarotonga.
At first it was supposed that this was the same comet which appeared in 1843 and again in 1860; and it was conjectured that, with accelerated orbit, it might soon be absorbed by the sun's attraction. But later observations threw doubt on the identity, and it is now believed to be a hitherto unknown wanderer of the great army of comets.
collector (N.B.—No less a person than wax-chandler to the Queen, etc., very rich, and collects no end of elegantly bound large paper; all this I learnt afterwards) came to me in a neat carriage and a heavy shower, and as he was doing a wabbling preamble about nothing, I cut him short sternly with, “Pray, sir, what is the upshot of all this?"
He answered that, seeing my article in the “Athenæum ”—which it was vory impertinent to assume was mine-he could prove in ‘wo minutes that Libri was guilty of all that was imputed to him. “What do you know of the matter?” I have read all the pamphlets.” “So have I,” said I, “and some of them before they were pamphlets. “Oh! I thought perhaps you had 11.30 investigated.” He then produced “Vapereau,” a French biographical dictionary of first-rate size and tenth-rate accuracy, and, opening at Libri,” said, “Have you read that article ?” “I have,” said Í, “in former days, before I found out what a worthless affair Vapereau' was." "I assure you," said he, " the people at Paris are much astonished at your article.” “No doubt," said I, “they are the parties whom Libri's defence incriminates." “I thought perhaps you were not aware of the facts, and that by coming to you we might avoid a polemic." “ Now,” said I, "you must go to the editor of the 'Athenæum,' and polemic with him. Do you really suppose you will prove to me that one of my dearest friends was a robber by an extract from 'Vapereau and Parisian opinion?” So he went away, and there has been no polemic yet. - Professor A. De Morgan to Sir John Herschel, 1869.
Jeremy Bentham.-A medical journal answers thus the inquiry of a correspondent :—Perhaps you will be allowed to see Jeremy Bentham, who now reposes in a back room in University College, on application to the secretary of that institution. He left his body to his intimate friend and physician, Dr. Southwood Smith, with a view to the removal of the strong prejudice then existing against dissection, charging him to devote it to the ordinary purposes of science. We are graphically told that Dr. Smith faithfully discharged the office imposed on him, and in the old theatre of the Webb Street School of Medicine, on June 9, 1832, with thunder pealing overhead and lightning flashing through the gloom, he delivered the first lecture over the body of Bentham, “ with a clear, unfaltering voice, but with a face as white as that of the dead philosopher before him."
The Comets of 1882.
A comet was observed first by Mr. Wells, on the 18th of March last year. It was remarkable as having been seen nearly three months before perihelion as a star of the sixth magnitude, and it was expected that it would be a most con. spicuous object at the time of its perihelion passage. These expectations were not verified. In May it could scarcely be discerned by the naked eye, and then only when its position had been previously ascertained by help of a glass. The ele. ments of its orbit gave no clue to identification with any comet previously known. Dr. Huggins and other observers reported that the spectrum differed from that of most comets, a very strong sodium line being the dominant feature in the spectrum.
Two other comets were seen in the year, one of them during the observation in Egypt, on May 10, of the total solar eclipse. At the period of totality it was seen about a sun's disc diameter distant. It could not again be seen in the light of the uneclipsed sun.
These comets excited little interest compared with that
Whalebone.-Owing to the discovery and extended use of petroleum on the one hand and the multiplied ways of uti. lising whalebone on the other, the latter substance has become the most valuable, instead of the least valuable of the products of whale-fishing. America has the lion's share of the whalebone industry. According to the German “Polytechnische Zeitung,” the improved product is there supplied from only seven works-four in New York and three in Boston. The personnel is 110 to 120. The principal application of whalebone now is that in making whips and
Steel has mostly displaced whalebone in umbrellas and parasols. Some years ago umbrella-ribs were made in France of an excellent imitation of whalebone (not distin.