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be held unfit for their work unless they can watch for causes of error in the needle's indications, and apply the remedies ? What say you, then, to the fact that “the authorities” have persistently turned deaf ears to the urgent and repeated appeals from various quarters for a system of training and examination for masters and mates in the principles and practice of compass correction ? The Board of Trade argues that the Government cannot take upon themselves responsibilities which belong to shipowners and insurers, and urges that the proper supply and adjustment of compasses is a matter so material to the safety and success of maritime undertakings, that motives of self-interest are likely to effect much more than legislative interference. But they who are behind the scenes, and familiar with the consequences of the cupidity of owners and the rashness of competing insurers, will tell a different tale. The Board of Trade once consulted Lloyds', and the committee replied that it appeared that the subject was encompassed with difficulties, and that it was not in their power to take any active steps in the matter ! England has taught the whole world the science of iron-ship compass correction, and in her teaching she has a theme for proud expressions. How long before she insists upon the practice of her preaching ?
BERLIN, the “city of the plain," is offered a luxury in the way of housewarming that may be proffered to other cities if the Prussian capital accepts it. The term house-warming is to be taken in its literal sense, as meaning room-heating, not jollification. What gas has done for lighting the great towns of the civilised world, we all know : what it can do towards heating them, is what the Berliners are about to try. There is nothing new in the idea of burning gas in stoves for cookery and warming ; it is so employed in hundreds of instances. Yet, considering its cleanliness and convenience, one might expect it to be used almost universally. Cost, however, prevents. A thousand cubic feet of gas can not compete with its money's worth of coal in generating heat. But there is a reason why it cannot, in that at present gas is made solely for lighting, and its chemical constitution is so maintained that it shall give the maximum of illumination with the minimum of heat. The order of things may be reversed : the light-giving element may be kept under, and the heatyielding component freely introduced. Obviously the result will be a gas useless in the gaselier but invaluable in the stove. Berlin has at a distance extensive mines of lignite—a form of coal—which gives vapour of this abnormal quality, and works are planned for generating daily some two and a half millions of cubic feet of it; a quantity which it is estimated would provide domestic fuel for about half the houses of Berlin. The company formed to carry out the works promise to supply the gas in the city at sixpence a thousand cubic feet; and it is asserted that nine thousand cubic feet (value 4s. 62.) will possess as much heating power as a ton of pit coal. Can anything like this be done by English gas companies? Can they make us a heating gas that will compete with coal? It is not
likely that they can get more heat from a ton of black diamonds than burning in the grate would yield. But in our grates we sacrifice eighty or ninety per cent of the heat the coal emits to arrangements for getting rid of the smoke and ashes. Give us a stove that can be fixed in the centre of a room, to radiate its heat freely all around, without sending any up chimneys, or uselessly imparting it to hearths and grate surroundings, and we can do with a quarter the caloric we now generate. Such a stove must burn gas to be clean and convenient. If heating gas could be made and sold cheaply, a new system of economical house-warming might thus be inaugurated; only there would be a mountain of popular prejudice to
The illustrated press has a notable accession of strength in The Illustrated Midland News and The Graphic. The former marks a new era in provincial journalism. It is the first illustrated newspaper printed and published in the country. Birmingham, the metropolis of the Midlands, is the head-quarters of the new publication. The Graphic is, in every respect, a London publication, with an ambition that is European. It professes open rivalry to the The Illustrated London News. On the first week of the new paper's publication, the London News published the largest, and perhaps the best illustrated paper of the century. At Christmas The Graphic made amends for its first issues, in a Christmas Number that outdistances its rivals. We are curious about the results of these two ventures. They are important to the nation as Art educators. We hope to see them flourish and prosper. The provincial paper already appears to have made its mark, commercially.
THE WILD CAT, AND THE KEILDER DISTRICT.
MR. URBAN, -In The Gentleman's Magazine for November, there is a . letter from Mr. Sidney Gibson, which includes a short note from the late Duke of Northumberland, regarding the appearance of wild cats at Keilder Castle, and a reference also to Macaulay's description of the district a century ago. Keilder Castle is a hunting seat of the Dukes of Northumberland, on the borders of Liddesdale, and in its neighbourhood lived James Telfer, the schoolmaster who narrated to the duke the story of the wild cats. It is more circumstantially given in the shape of an extract from a letter written by Mr. Telfer to Mr. Robert White, of Newcastle, editor of Leyden's works. The extract is as follows :
“Keilder, you may have been told, is, indeed, a bleak, wild, out-of-the-way place as any to be found on the Middle Marches. Till within the memory of man the lower parts of the district were overgrown with natural wood, which afforded a refuge for a breed of wild cats, the last, I believe, that were known on the Border. My grandfather, as you have doubtless heard me say, was a shepherd, and it so chanced that being one day either herding or hunting in Keilder, he was attacked by a wild cat. The creature, without the least provocation, sprang upon him before he was aware, making right for his throat, and although he was then a very athletic man, it required all his strength and agility to baffle it in its purpose. He made several attempts to strangle it, or to fling it from him ; but these proving ineffectual, he contrived in the end to pin it to the ground under one of his knees, and then he and his dog together managed to dispatch it. His dog, you must understand, chanced not to be within sight of him when the creature made its attack, and it was always his opinion that if the dog had been out of hearing, and not come to his call, he would in the end have fought a losing battle. After his assailant was fairly dead, my grandfather, from curiosity, stretched it out at its length upon the grass, and found that, from the nose to the tip of the tail, it rather out-measured the dog ; and a collie dog, you know, from the nose to the tail, is not a very short animal. As may be supposed, from the nature of the contest, my grandfather got his hands severely bit and lacerated. Among other injuries, he got the nail of one of his thumbs split by a stroke of the creature's claw, and his thumb was disfigured ever afterwards. I can yet remember it. This adventure of my grandfather's might occur a little after the middle of last century, or about a hundred years ago.
There are, I believe, no wild cats in Keilder now, nor, as far as I know, in any part of the country.”
The letter to Mr. Sidney Gibson, from Algernon, fourth Duke of Northumberland, also refers to“Macaulay's absurdities or untruths about Keilder.” The passage in Macaulay is as follows :
“Within the memory of some whom this generation has seen, the sportsmen who wandered in pursuit of game to the sources of the Tyne, found the heaths round Keilder Castle peopled by a race scarcely less savage than the Indians of California, and heard with surprise the half-naked women chaunting a wild measure, while the men, with brandished dirks, danced a war dance."
The authority given by Macaulay for this statement, is a reference to the journal of Sir Walter Scott, from which we find that Macaulay's inspiration of this passage actually came from Alnwick Castle. In his diary, under date, October 7, 1827, Sir Walter says :
“He" (the Duke) "tells me his people in Keilder were all quite wild the first time his father went up to shoot there. The women had no other dress than a bedgown and petticoat. The men were savage, and could hardly be brought to rise from the heath, either from sullenness or fear. They sang a wild tune, the burden of which was Orsina, orsina, orsina. The females sang, the men danced round, and at a certain point of the tune they drew their dirks, which they always
Here, then, is the origin of Macaulay's so called "absurdities or untruths about Keilder.” When the history of England appeared, a gentleman resident on the Scottish side of the Border, wrote to the historian, challenging its accuracy. Macaulay wrote a reply in which he promised to modify the sentence in subsequent editions, but said he would require the very highest evidence to undo entirely what had been accepted by Scott, who knew so much of Border history.
The whole story narrated to Sir Walter by the Duke of Northumberland savours of misapprehension, which was excusable, however, in a nobleman visiting for the first time an outlandish portion of his vast estates. Telfer, who died some years ago, knew a man who remembered the duke's visit, and the alleged barbarous state of society was by him, very naturally, explained. The half-naked women with bedgown and petticoat, were women working at hay-making, and in the heat of summer they may still be seen any day in the same dress at similar occupations. The “dirk” carried by the shepherds was really a large clasp knife, called in Scotland a "gully," with a long and sharp pointed blade, kept for flaying sheep when found dead in the moors, as they often are. About the refrain, “ Orsina, orsina,” there is some difficulty; but it is suggested by a gentleman well acquainted with the district and its ways, that it was really the sort of bravado Tynedale ejaculation of “Oor syde yet, oor syde yet," pronounced in the district dialect, a practice that still prevails at competitive trials of skill or strength,—I am, Sir, yours sincerely, Kelso, Nov. 1869.
SUEZ CANAL. MR. URBAN,--As the Suez Canal is now the question of the day, it may, perhaps, interest some of your readers to learn that one hundred and one years ago, the attention of the English people was called to the possibility of constructing such a canal from the Red Sea to the Nile, by a far-seeing correspondent of yours, who modestly veiled himself under the signature F. In The Gentleman's Magazine for 1768 (p. 607), is the following letter :
“MR. URBAN,-Whilst our projectors are forming schemes, and busied in carrying them out, for the facilitation of trade and commerce, by cutting canals from one part of the country to another, I would just crave leave to mention one, which, if put in practice, will not only be beneficial to particular countries, but all Europe. I mean the uniting of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, by a cut or
canal. This is by no means a visionary scheme, but certainly practicable, as will, I think, evidently appear, by the following extract from the memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, 1701,- I am, &c.,
The extract referred to is too long to be quoted in full. It relates to a map of the Delta, made from actual observation, by M. Boutier, as a contribution to one of the entire country, prepared by M. Delisle.
“ But what is most remarkable in this map, is an extremity of a canal, which goes out of the most eastern arm of the Nile, and which M. Delisle judges to have been part of that which formerly made the communication of the Nile and the Mediterranean with the Red Sea.”
The well-known passages in Herodotus and Diodorus are then commented upon.
“M. Delisle, refining upon M. Boutier, has carried his inquiries even to the Arabian authors. Elmaun, lib. i. chap. 3, says that under the Caliph Omar, towards the year 635 of the Christian era, Amir caused a canal to be made to transport the corn from Egypt into Arabia. Probably he only renewed the old one, the navigation of which might easily have been neglected in the decline of the Roman empire. But in the year 150 of the Hegira, which agrees with the year 775 of Christ, Albuziafar Almanzor II., Caliph of the Abbasides, caused this canal to be stopped on the side of the sea. If ever this union should be renewed, the world would change its face ; China and France, for example, would become neighbours, and our posterity would lament the fate of the barbarous ages, when the Europeans were obliged to go round Africa to get into Asia." I am, yours truly,
W. E. A. A. Foynson Street, Strangeways.
A BULLOCK OF THE LAST CENTURY. MR. URBAN,—As the prize Christmas bullocks are hardly yet forgotten, it may be worth while to state some particulars regarding a prime Scottish bullock of the 18th century, just to indicate the contrast 'twixt now and then. The calculation of profit and loss is given in the “Select Transactions of the Improvers in Agriculture," a society formed in 1723, and which existed fully twenty years. The prime cost of the bullock was il. 6s. 8d., and he entered Mr. Hope of Rankeillor's grass at Hope Park, in the suburbs of Edinburgh, on the 24th of November, 1729. Here he continued till the end of March, 1730, at a cost of id. sterling per 24 hours, or 8s. for the three months. On the 2nd of March he was taken to the Sciennes Walls, near Edinburgh, for fresh grass, and here he continued till the 22nd of June, at a farther cost of 135. sterling. From the 1st December, 1729, till the 4th May, 1730, he got hay, what he could eat, at 5d. per stone, which cost il. 55. rod. The total cost of the bullock was 31. 135. 1od., and being presented in the Edinburgh market on the 20th June, 1730, his owner was offered for him 31. 155., which would have yielded a profit of only Is. 2d. The owner preferred to kill his bullock, and the total weight proved to be 392 pounds of beef and tallow, which, at 4d. a pound, brought 61. 1os. 8d., showing a profit on the animal of 21. 165. iod. The hide, head, feet, and in-meat, were given for attendance. -Yours, sincerely,