HotFreeBooks.com
Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 456 - Volume 18, New Series, September 25, 1852
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse

The cherry is the next wild fruit which claims our attention, and of this we find two varieties. The first, the gean-tree (Cerasus sylvestris), called by the peasants in Suffolk and Cheshire, 'Merny-tree,' from the French word merisier, is found in most parts of England in woods and coppices. This fruit is also called in some countries coroon, from corone, a crow. Its flowers are in nearly sessile umbels of the purest white; its leaves broadly lance-shaped and downy beneath, pointed and serrated, with two unequal glands at the base. The fruit is a drupe, globose, fleshy, and devoid of bloom. Several varieties occur in this species, differing chiefly in the colour of the fruit, which is, however, usually black. The wood is firm, strong, and heavy. Evelyn includes it in his list of forest-trees, and describes it as rising to a height of eighty feet, and producing valuable timber: he says, 'if sown in proper soil, they will thrive into stately trees, beautified with blossoms of surpassing whiteness, greatly relieving the sedulous bees and attracting birds.' The wood is useful for many purposes, and polishes well. Though the cherry is now classed among the fruits native to this isle, authors inform us that it was introduced by the Romans. Evelyn says: 'It was 680 years after the foundation of Rome ere Italy had tasted a cherry of their own, which being then brought thither out of Pontus, did, after 120 years, travel ad ultimos Britannos.' Its name is derived from Kerasoon, the city whence it was first brought into Europe by Lucullus; and so valuable did he consider the acquisition, that he gave it a most conspicuous place among the royal treasures which he brought home from the sacking of the capital of Armenia. The fruit of the gean-tree is rather harsh till fully ripe, and then becomes somewhat vapid and watery, yet it is very grateful to the palate after a day's rambling in the woods; and, moreover, this wild stock is the source whence we have, by culture, obtained the rich varieties which now grace our gardens. The cherry is a very prolific tree. We have heard of one, the fruit of which sold for L.5 per annum for seven successive years; but it requires care in pruning, as it produces its fruit generally at the points of the branches, which should therefore never be shortened. Phillips says: 'Cherries bear the knife worse than any other sort of fruit-trees, and we would therefore impress on the pruner, that though the fruit was won by the sword, it may be lost by the knife!' The other species of cherry is the bird-cherry (Cerasus padus), a pretty little smooth-branched tree, with doubly-serrate, acute leaves, and beautiful white blossoms, which grow in long-shaped racemes, hanging in pendulous clusters, and forming an elegant ornament to the hedges and woods in May. It grows chiefly in Scotland and the north of England, where the peasants call the fruit, which is small, black, and harsh, 'hagberries.' This fruit can scarcely be called edible, but it gives an agreeable flavour to brandy; and in Sweden and other northern countries is sometimes added to home-made wines. There is, or was, a feast celebrated in Hamburg, called the Feast of Cherries, in which troops of children parade the streets with green boughs ornamented with cherries, to commemorate a triumph obtained in the following manner:—'In 1432, the Hussites threatened the city of Hamburg with immediate destruction, when one of the citizens, named Wolf, proposed that all the children in the city, from seven to fourteen years of age, should be clad in mourning, and sent as suppliants to the enemy. Procopius Nasus, chief of the Hussites, was so touched with this spectacle, that he received the young suppliants, regaled them with cherries and other fruits, and promised them to spare the city. The children returned crowned with leaves, holding cherries, and crying "Victory!"'



THINGS TALKED OF IN LONDON.

September 1852.

Progress, in one or other of the many forms in which it has of late presented itself, is now the prime subject of talk; and if the progress be real, it would not be easy to find a more satisfactory cause of conversation. Go-ahead people take much interest in the ocean steam-boat question; and now that the Collins line of steamers is supported by a grant from the United States government, double the amount of that paid to the British line, it is said that we are to be irrecoverably beaten in the passage of the 'ferry,' as Jonathan calls it, between Liverpool and New York. East sailing is no doubt an essential desideratum in these days—but what a price to pay for it! A quarter of a million on one side the Atlantic, and half a million on the other: as though there were not enterprise enough in either land to undertake the work—and do it well too—without a subsidy. One result may be safely predicated—that the winner will be the first to give in; and the timid may comfort themselves with the assurance, that neither national prosperity nor 'decadence' depends on the issue. A line to run from Liverpool to Portland, in the state of Maine, is in contemplation; and the Cunard Company are building four screw-steamers—the Andes, Alps, Jura, and Etna—which are to carry the mails to Chagres, as well as New York.

The first steam-collier has come into the Thames, having run the distance from Newcastle in forty-eight hours. Forty hours, we are told, will surface in future, when the stiffness of the new machinery shall have worked off. She consumed eight tons of coal on the voyage, and brought 600 tons as cargo, the whole of which was discharged in the day, and the vessel went back for a further supply. Apart from the facilities for loading and unloading, the certainty with which these steamers will make the passage, will benefit the citizens of London, by saving them from the rise in price which inevitably follows the fall of the thermometer in December.

But with all this, our already crowded river is becoming overcrowded, to remedy which a promising project is afoot for a new dock at Plaistow Marshes, a few miles below London Bridge, where a fleet or two of the ever-multiplying ships may find accommodation. The extent is to be ninety acres, with a mile of wharfage, and nearly 200,000 feet of fireproof warehouse-room. How far this will meet the want, may be inferred from the fact, that the tonnage of the port of London has increased from 990,110 tons in 1828, to 2,170,322 tons in 1852. And if an experience of three years may be relied on, the increase is to be progressive; for of new British-built ships in 1849, the amount was 121,266 tons; in 1850, 137,530 tons; in 1851, 152,563 tons. Such an augmentation shews, that we have nothing to fear from repeal of the Navigation Laws; and the fruits of unrestriction are shewn in the increased size of ships, in their improved external form, and interior accommodation. It may be mentioned here, that the Lords of the Admiralty have ordered that all ships' log-books sent to their department shall be true and faithful copies, with a track-chart of the winds experienced on the outward and homeward voyage, in addition to the usual information. Steam-vessels are to keep a record of the quantity of coal on board at noon each day—of the time it is estimated to last—and of the number of miles steamed in the previous twenty-four hours.

Railways, too, exhibit signs of progress. The gross proceeds of the traffic for the first seven months of 1851 amounted to L.8,254,303, while for the same portion of the present year the sum is L.8,504,002; a result the more striking when it is remembered that last year we had the Exhibition. The new lines opened in 1851 comprised not more than 269 miles—the smallest amount in any year since 1848—so that, at the end of December, we had 6890 miles of railway actually opened, and 5101 miles authorised and still to be made. It is clear that the greater portion of the latter will never be attempted, seeing that people have really found out that railways are not exempt from the operation of the great natural laws of supply and demand. Some of the facts of last year's traffic are astounding: the total number of passengers conveyed was 85,391,095—twelve millions more than in the preceding year; and the aggregate returns amounted to L.14,997,459. What a difference when compared with the sum paid for travel and transport twenty years ago! In the United States, the number of miles of railway actually open is 13,200, which, by the end of 1855, it is expected will be increased to 18,000 or 20,000. There are 27,000 miles of electric telegraphs, but in this estimate the five or six lines between any two places are all counted. On one of the lines from New York to Washington, 253,857 messages were sent in the year ending last July, the toll for which amounted to 103,232 dollars—over L.20,000.

Notwithstanding all this material development, in some respects there is no advance—except it be of fares, which on some lines running out of London have been increased in accordance with 'arrangements' between companies who seem desirous of substituting wholesale monopoly for wholesome competition. Murmurs on every side already attest the effects of such a change of system, and it is to be hoped that imperative means will be found of insuring more attention than at present to the comfort and safety of passengers. No one out of the position of a director or shareholder can see any good reason why English railway carriages should be less comfortably fitted up than those of the continent. How is it that second-class carriages are to be seen abroad with stuffed seats and padded backs, and never in England? It cannot be that we do not pay enough for the accommodation. We pay too much—a fact worth remembering with railway amalgamation looming in the future; an event which must not take place without the public coming in demonstrably as third party.

The British Association have met, and gone through their usual routine of business, with what results—beyond the reports in the public prints—will be best shewn by the movement of science for the next few months. It is always something that knowledge is increased; but whether the accumulating of fact on fact, to the neglect of generalising those facts, be the true means thereunto, remains to be proved. Science has been soaring in search of facts; for the committee appointed to manage the Kew Observatory, thinking that the phenomena of meteorology would answer further questioning, have sent up a balloon, with instruments and observers, to make a series of observations. The temperature was read off from highly sensitive thermometers at each minute during the ascent, so as to ascertain the difference of the heat of successive strata of the atmosphere, and the rate of variation. In the first flight, the party reached the height of 19,500 feet, and came to a temperature of 7 degrees, or 25 degrees below the freezing-point, which, considering the state of the temperature at the surface, was an unexpected result—in fact, an abnormal one; and not dissimilar to that which so much astonished our neighbours across the Channel when Barral and Bixio went up. But if it be abnormal, as is said, it is remarkable that precisely the same temperature was met with at about the same height on the second ascent. Another object was, to bring down specimens of air from different altitudes, for analysis; to try the effect of the actinometer at great elevations; and to note the hygrometric condition. There are to be four ascents, so as, if possible, to obtain something like satisfactory data by repetition; and in due time, detailed reports of the whole of the observations will be made public.

As ozone is at present attracting attention, it might have been worth while to ascertain the proportion of this constituent in the higher regions of the atmosphere. According to Messrs Fremy and Becquerel, the term ozone ought to be abandoned; for, after a series of careful experiments, they have come to the conclusion, that there is no real transformation of matter in the production of ozone, but that it is nothing more than 'electrified oxygen,' or oxygen in a particular state of chemical affinity. Further research will perhaps show us whether they or Schoenbein are in the right. At all events, the inquiry is interesting, particularly at this time, when cholera—to which ozone is antagonistic—is said to be again about to pay us a visit; and seeing that the doctrine of non-contagion, put forth so authoritatively by our General Board of Health, is disputed; and that a certain morbific influence can be conveyed and imparted, is shewn by abundant evidence to be alike probable and possible. What took place lately in Poland is cited as a case in point. Excavations were being made at Lask, near Kalisch, which laid open the cemetery where the bodies of those who died of cholera in 1832 had been buried. All who were engaged in the work died, and the disease spread fatally throughout the neighbourhood. What an important question here remains to be settled! and how is it to be settled while people are unclean and towns undrained?

Astronomers have given good proof of activity during the present year, by the discovery of four new planets and one new comet—two of them by Mr Hind, who has now the merit of having discovered half a dozen of these minor members of our planetary system. Fifty years ago, such an achievement would have made an exalted reputation; but in these days of keen enterprise in science, as well as in commerce, we do not think much of finding such little worlds as those in question. If nothing short of the marvellous is to satisfy us, who shall say that even this will not present itself to the far-piercing ken of the new monster telescope—refracting, not reflecting—established on Wandsworth Common, at the cost of an amateur astronomer, for the promotion of the celestial science? Lord Rosse has now a competitor; and with a tube of eighty feet in length, and the power of looking direct at the distant object, may we not hope to hear of great discoveries by means of the new instrument? Photographers will be able to obtain what has long been a desideratum—a large image of the moon; and the sun will doubtless have to reveal a few more secrets concerning his physical constitution, to say nothing of the remote and mysterious nebulae. Apropos of the sun, Father Secchi, of the observatory at Rome, has been questioning the great luminary with philosophical apparatus, to ascertain whether any difference could be detected in the heat from different parts of its surface, and the proportion lost in its passage through the atmosphere. He finds that the equatorial region is the hottest; and that, as on our earth, the temperature diminishes towards the poles: it is in the central region that spots most frequently appear. The result of the investigations is that, after allowing for absorption, the heat which comes to the earth corresponds in amount to that inferred from photometric experiments, whereby the experiments made at Paris and at Rome confirm each other.

Now that Mr Fox Talbot has so praiseworthily given up his patent right to Talbotypes, except in the matter of portraits, the art of photography will find itself stimulated to yet further developments; and with free practice, many new applications of it will be discovered. Magic-lantern slides, for instance, obtained from the negative image, are already lowered in price, while their style and finish are singularly beautiful. The architect of the bridge now being built over the Neva, at St Petersburg, is turning it to account in a very practical manner. Being an Englishman, he has had to endure much jealousy and misrepresentation, and attempts have been made to prejudice the authorities against him. To counteract these designs, he takes every week photographs of the work, which distinctly shew its progress, and these he sends to the emperor, who looks at them in a stereoscope of the largest size, and can thus satisfy himself of the actual condition of the bridge by means which malice or envy would not easily falsify. If the photograph shews finished arches, of what use will it be to deny their existence? People out of Russia may perhaps find it worth while to try the same experiment; and before long, a new order of 'detectives' on elevated stations, will be taking photographs of all that passes in the streets, and pickpockets in delicto will find their offence and their likeness imprinted by one and the same process. With such a means of detection, and all the police stations connected by telegraphic wires, what are the thieves to do?

Manchester shews itself earnest in the cause of education, by having established a Free Library of 16,000 volumes for reference, and 5000 for lending, and paid for it by voluntary subscription—L.800 of which was contributed by 20,000 of the working-classes. To their honour be it recorded! But the inhabitants have done yet more; they have made over the library to the town-council, that it may become one of their public institutions, and have agreed to pay a half-penny rate to provide the necessary funds for its perpetual maintenance. May they have their reward!

Considering that educational reform or renovation may erelong be looked for at Oxford, in accordance with the recommendations of the University Commission, it behoves other parts of the kingdom to be fully awake to the importance of the subject. 'There is a spreading conviction, that man was made for a higher purpose than to be a beast of burden, or a creature of sense;' and it will not do to stifle this conviction. Comprehensive endeavours must be made to educate and enlighten; to touch the heart as well as to train the intellect. And it must not be forgotten, that education involves very much besides mere book-learning—the mechanical duties, namely, of everyday life. Something of the latter is to be tried in the City Hospice and Soup-kitchen just opened near the foot of Holborn Hill. Though fitted up in an old house, it is a training institute of a new kind, where individuals of both sexes will acquire useful knowledge in a practical way, best explained by a passage from the report of the opening:

'In one portion of the educational department is an ironing-table, provided with the necessary utensils, for the purpose of instructing the women and girls in that necessary portion of domestic science, from the finest description of work down to the very coarsest. Adjoining this is a table laid out en famille; this also being considered, and justly so, no unimportant branch of knowledge. In another portion is a table prepared for a large party: every variety of glass likely to be required being properly placed, and every napkin being differently folded, so as to enable the ambitious neophyte to suit the taste of all mistresses. Beyond this is a small closet, with a window resembling those of an ordinary-sized house; and this the men and women are both taught to clean, while the closet itself serves as a cover for the simple operation of polishing boots and shoes. To this succeeds a table, upon which are placed the utensils for cleaning plate, and on another table the instruments for cleaning lamps.' Such an establishment ought to prosper; and perhaps this one will, if the giving away of soup for nothing, which is another part of its functions, does not kill it. There seems something incongruous in encouraging industry and self-reliance with one hand, and helplessness with the other.

On the whole, it must be admitted that we are making progress, and those who think so, may very properly talk about it. Among a large number, the Crystal Palace becomes daily a greater subject of importance. Soon the last portions of the famous structure will be removed from Hyde Park, to rise in renewed beauty on the hill-slope at Sydenham; where the restored edifice is to become a permanent object of interest, far transcending all previous achievements in the way of exhibitions.

Of foreign matters which have attracted attention, there is the remarkable fall of grain, not rain, in Belgium, a few weeks since, of a kind altogether unknown in that country. Some of it has been sown, with a view to judge of it by the plant; meanwhile, the learned are speculating as to its origin. The Dutch, pursuing their steady course of reclamation, have just added some hundreds of acres to their territory on the borders of the Scheldt; and it is said that the grand enterprise of draining the Haarlemmer-Meer is at last completed, there being nothing now left but a small running stream across the lowest part of the basin. The quantity pumped away in the last eight months of 1851, averaged a little over three inches per month, a small amount, apparently; but when it is known, that lowering the lake one inch only took away four million tons of water, we may form a fair idea of the importance of the work, and of the quantity lifted in the eight months. The depth at the beginning of this year was three feet eight inches, and this is now discharged. To have carried such a work to a successful issue, may be ranked among the greatest of engineering triumphs.

To turn to another part of the world: there is something interesting from the Sandwich Islands. The king wishes to assimilate his government to that of England, to guard against the casualty of a coup d'etat, and a small military force has been organised for defence. The Report of the Minister of the Interior states, that 130 persons had taken the oath of allegiance within the year, of whom 66 were citizens of the United States; 31 British; 15 Chinese; and 18 of other countries. The foreign letters received and sent numbered 24,787—more than half to the United States; besides which 31,050 domestic letters were transmitted among the group of islands. There are 535 free-schools, of which 431 are Protestant, with 12,976 scholars, and 104 Roman Catholic, with 2056 scholars. There were 1171 marriages; and the population returns shew that the number of natives is still slowly on the decrease, the births among them having been 2424, while the deaths were 5792.



ADVENTURES OF A YORKSHIRE GROOM.

Letters from Parma, of the 9th instant, announce that the resolution has been taken at Vienna to deprive the Duke of Parma of the administration of his states, and to put in a regency, of which Ward is to be the head. The elevation of Ward affords not only a singular instance of the mutability of human affairs, but of the tendency of the Anglo-Saxon race, when transplanted to foreign countries, to emerge to eminence, and surpass others by the homely but rare qualities of common-sense and unfaltering energy. Ward was a Yorkshire groom. The Duke of Lucca, when on a visit to this country, perceiving the lad's merit, took him into his service, and promoted him, through the several degrees of command in his stable, to be head-groom of the ducal stud. Upon Ward's arrival in Italy with his master, it was soon found that the intelligence which he displayed in the management of the stables was applicable to a variety of other departments. In fact, the duke had such a high opinion of Ward's wisdom, that he very rarely omitted to consult him upon any question that he was perplexed to decide. As Louis XII. used to answer those who applied to him on any business, by referring them to the Cardinal d'Amboise, with the words: 'Ask George,' so Charles of Lucca cut short all applications with 'Go to Ward.' He now became the factotum of the prince, won, in the disturbances which preceded the revolutionary year of 1848, a diplomatic dignity, and was despatched to Florence upon a confidential mission of the highest importance. He was deputed to deliver to the Grand Duke the act of abdication of the Duke of Lucca. Soon after, in 1849, when the Duke of Lucca resigned his other states to his son, Ward became the head counsellor of this prince. Ward was on one occasion despatched to Vienna in a diplomatic capacity. Schwarzenberg was astonished at his capacity; in fact, the ci-devant Yorkshire stable-boy was the only one of the diplomatic body that could make head against the impetuous counsels, or rather dictates, of Schwarzenberg; and this was found highly useful by other members of the diplomatic body. An English gentleman, supping one night at the Russian ambassador's, complimented him upon his excellent ham. 'There's a member of our diplomatic corps here,' replied Meyendorff, 'who supplies us all with hams from Yorkshire, of which county he is a native.' Ward visited England. The broad dialect and homely phrase betraying his origin through the profusion of orders of all countries sparkling on his breast, he rarely ventured to appear at evening soirees. Lord Palmerston declared he was one of the most remarkable men he had ever met with. Ward, through all his vicissitudes, has preserved an honest pride in his native country. He does not conceal his humble origin. The portraits of his parents, in their home-spun clothes, appear in his splendid saloon of the prime-minister of Parma.—Newspaper paragraph.



DURATION OF PLANTS.

The several kinds of plants vary exceedingly in their degrees of longevity, some being annual, perfecting their growth within a year, ripening their seeds and perishing; others are perennial, and continue to grow and flourish for years and centuries. Warm and cold climates have much influence on the duration of plants, and, in some few instances, plants that are annual in cold climates become perennial when transplanted into warm regions, and the contrary when transplanted from warm to cold ones. There are some kinds of trees that are very short-lived, as the peach and the plum; others reach a great age, as the pear and the apple. Some kinds of forest-trees are remarkable for their duration, and specimens are in existence seemingly coeval with the date of the present order of things on our globe. The oak, chestnut, and pine of our forests, reach the age of from 300 to 500 years. The cypress or white cedar of our swamps has furnished individuals 800 or 900 years old. Trees are now living in England and Constantinople more than 1000 years old, of the yew, plane, and cypress varieties; and Addison found trees of the boabab growing near the Senegal, in Africa, which, reckoning from the ascertained age of others of the same species, must have been nearly 4000 years of age. It may be remarked, that plants of the same variety attain about the same age in all climates where they are produced.—American Courier.



THE RETURN TO LEZAYRE.

BY THE REV. JAMES GILBORNE LYONS, LL.D.

Lezayre is the name of a beautiful district in the Isle of Man.

I came to the place where my childhood had dwelt, To the hearth where in early devotion I knelt— The fern and the bramble grew wild in the hall, And the long grass of summer waved green on the wall: The roof-tree was fallen, the household had fled, The garden was ruined, the roses were dead, The wild bird flew scared from her desolate stone, And I breathed in the home of my boyhood—alone.

That moment is past, but it left on my heart A remembrance of sadness which will not depart: I have wandered afar since that sorrowful day, I have wept with the mournful, and laughed with the gay; I have lived with the stranger, and drank of the rills Which go warbling their music on loftier hills; But I never forgot, in rejoicing or care, That mouldering hearth, and those hills of Lezayre.

Yet droop not, my spirit! nor hopelessly mourn Over ills which the best and the wisest have borne: Though the greetings of love, and the voices of mirth, May for ever be hushed in the homesteads of earth; Though the dreams and the dwellings of childhood decay, And the friends whom we cherish go hasting away, No young hopes are scattered, no heart-strings are riven, No partings are known in the households of Heaven.

* * * * *

Just Published,

Price 3s. 6d. Cloth lettered,

GENERAL TREATISE ON GEOGRAPHY: with a Copious PRONOUNCING and ETYMOLOGICAL INDEX. By A. F. FOSTER, A.M. Forming one of the Volumes of CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE.

*** This School Geography has been a considerable time in preparation, and will be found one of the most complete works of the kind.

* * * * *

Price 2s. 6d. Cloth lettered,

CORNELIUS NEPOS. Illustrated with Copious English Notes and Prefaces. Forming one of the Volumes of the LATIN SECTION of CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE.

* * * * *

Price 2s. 6d. Cloth lettered,

ELOCUTION: with a SELECTION of PIECES. By WILLIAM GRAHAM, F.E.I.S., Teacher of Elocution in the Naval and Military Academy, and the Scottish Institution for the Education of Ladies. Forming one of the Volumes of CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE.

* * * * *

Price 6d. Paper Cover,

CHAMBERS'S POCKET MISCELLANY: forming a LITERARY COMPANION for the RAILWAY, the FIRESIDE, or the BUSH.

VOLUME X.

To be continued in Monthly Volumes.

* * * * *

Printed and Published by W. and R. CHAMBERS, High Street, Edinburgh. Also sold by W. S. ORR, Amen Corner, London; D. N. CHAMBERS, 55 West Nile Street, Glasgow; and J. M'GLASHAN, 50 Upper Sackville Street, Dublin.—Advertisements for Monthly Parts are requested to be sent to MAXWELL & CO., 31 Nicholas Lane, Lombard Street, London, to whom all applications respecting their insertion must be made.

THE END

Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse