Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/709

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693
ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

the names of the booksellers in whose shops he used to lounge. Martial refers a shabby fellow called Lupercus (who wanted to borrow his epigrams) to his bookseller Atrectus. He tells him the shop is "opposite the forum of Caesar, and placards are posted outside giving the names of poets," evidently as is the custom of booksellers to this day. The price of the volume—the first book of his epigrams—he says is five denarii, equivalent to three shillings and sixpence sterling. Now, this first book contains one hundred and nineteen epigrams, or over seven hundred verses. It appears elsewhere that cheaper copies were provided. Martial refers to copies well rubbed with pumice and adorned with purple. The cheaper copies could be had at half that price, but this was in the best style. So that if we compare the price with the published price in England of "Maud," or any of the original small volumes of Tennyson's poems, which were issued at five or six shillings, the Roman publisher does not seem to be much dearer than the English one.

——The first evidence on record of an author's right of copy is in the case of "Paradise Lost." This transaction is usually misrepresented. The bargain was that Simmons was to pay £5 cash, £5 more when thirteen hundred copies were sold, and £5 each for the second and third editions. It took seven years to sell the first thirteen hundred copies, and in 1680 Milton's widow sold her interest for £8 more.

——In reference to his conversion, Sir Charles Lyell says: "The question of the origin of species gave me much to think of, and you may well believe that it cost me a struggle to renounce my old creed. One of Darwin's reviewers put the alternative strongly by asking 'whether we are to believe that man is modified mud or modified monkey.' The mud is a great come-down from the 'archangel ruined.' Even in ten years I expect, if I live, to hear of great progress in regard to 'fossil man.'"

——Broderip says that, in spite of all the dogs and cats which float down the Thames, none of their remains have been found in recent excavations in the Thames deposits.

——An Earthly Paradise.—Unless the Garden of Eden was planted in the very happiest latitude, the work of the gods seems for once to have been excelled by the achievement of a mortal. Toward the end of the tenth century. Abderrahman III. the Caliph of Cordova, conceived the idea of turning a whole mountain-range into a pleasure-park. On the heights of the Sierra de Peñas he built the famous Hischam Russáva, the summer-castle, with a pedestal of massive terraces girt with lakes and artificial cascades. The western slope of the Sierra, according to Ibn Caldir, an area of forty square leagues, was planted with all the trees known to the Arabian botanists—palms, laurels, chestnuts, oaks. and mountain-firs—all ranged in groves at different altitudes, according to the higher or lower latitude of their natural habitats. Ship-loads of foreign plants were landed at the harbor of Alicante, and the transport of these botanic cargoes is said to have employed sixty caravans for more than four years. "Not Shiraz, nor Araby the Blest, had such a wealth of odoriferous shrubs," says the historian; roses trained into trees, copses of lilac and jasmine-bushes loaded the air with perfume, and the Cordova gardeners seem to have known a method for ripening winter crops without hot-houses, for the orchards of the lower slopes furnished a perennial supply of fresh fruit. On the upper levels the Caliph had his game-preserves in vast plantations of pinabetes, a sort of Alpine fir that formed almost impenetrable thickets, while the highest crest of the Sierra was