Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/77

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67
THE WILL-O'-THE WISP AND ITS FOLK-LORE.

courses freely through it, being considerably assisted by the conical end-pieces K K. When the requisite depth is reached, the line is PSM V19 D077 Slip bottle sea floor sediment collector.jpgFig. 6. checked and is finally hauled in. Under the pressure of the hauling, the flap D falls down into an horizontal position, when it is caught by the movable piece of brass F, which moves round an axis, f, and is supported on the side opposite to E by the rod G, which rests on the spiral spring H. The water rushing past D, when thus in an horizontal position, exercises a sufficient pressure upon the rod to close the stopcocks B, B. When the speed with which the bottle is hauled through the water is increased, the pressure on D becomes so great that it overcomes the tension of the spring H, and E passes the catch F, when the rest of the journey upward is performed with the flap D hanging down, and therefore offering the least possible resistance to the water. When the water-bottle has been brought up, it is only necessary to substitute for the lower funnel a small nozzle, by which the water may be drawn off, and the instrument be made ready for immediate use without having: to detach it. It has been ascertained by experiment that the water obtained by this instrument is an average of the last two fathoms through which it has passed.

 
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THE WILL-O'-THE-WISP AND ITS FOLK-LORE.

AMONG the many sources of superstition in this and other countries, the phenomenon well known as the Will-o'-the-Wisp has from time immemorial held a prominent place. Indeed, it would be no easy task to enumerate the various shapes in which the imagination has pictured this mysterious appearance, not to mention the manifold legends that have clustered round it. In days gone by, when our credulous forefathers believed in the intervention of fairies in human affairs, the Will-o'the-Wisp entered largely into their notions respecting the agency of these little beings in their dealings with mankind; and, as will be seen in the course of the present paper, numerous stories were often related in which some fairy disguised as Will-o'-the-Wisp was the chief character. It is worthy, too, of note that, although in these enlightened days every relic of primitive culture is gradually fading from our gaze, the old superstitious fancies associated with this nocturnal visitor still survive with more or less vigor, retaining that hold on the vulgar mind which they formerly possessed.