paltriest and meanest of human ends, would seem to have divided a people of accredited shrewdness into the two classes of rogues and dupes. But, as we have seen, we, too, have been singed at the same fire. There are, moreover, other if minor superstitions in our midst that suggest the propriety of beginning the task of reformation at home. An occasional glance, for instance, at the stock advertisements of leading journals, will convince any one how wide-spread is the infatuation that believes in spurious offers of advantageous employment. Some of these have, under our own observation, been repeated with little variation for more than twenty years; and we have no doubt that the wily advertisers are able to calculate to a fraction the number and gullibility of their dupes. We have from time to time drawn attention to swindles of this class, as well as to those tempting offers of "Money to lend," which appear with equal regularity in newspaper columns. We are afraid, however, that friendly warning and experience are alike unavailing to stem the mischief. The spread of education itself would appear unable to outstrip the spread of imposture or the eager credulity that supports it; for superstition merely shifts its ground from time to time, without losing appreciably its original dominion over the human mind.—Chambers's Journal.
|SKETCH OF PROFESSOR RANKINE.|
PROF. W. J. MACQUORN RAKKINE was born in Edinburgh, July 5, 1820, and on Christmas-eve, in 1872, he died, before he had completed his fifty-third year; but in that comparatively short life he had won higher distinction and done more good work than it falls to the lot of most men to compass.
He pursued his ordinary school studies in the Burgh Academy of the town of Ayr, the high-school of Glasgow. When very young he entered the University of Edinburgh, where he devoted himself to natural philosophy and natural history, including zoölogy, geology, mineralogy, and botany. He was a born mathematician, and received little aid from professional instruction in the branch of science in which he subsequently displayed such great genius. Throughout his educational course he received valuable aid from his father, who was a retired lieutenant of the British Army.
His powers were developed at an early age. Before he was twenty he had written two essays on subjects in pure physics. At eighteen he adopted the profession of civil engineering, and was the pupil of Sir John Macneil for three or four years, a great part of which was spent on engineering works in Ireland. Subsequently, he was employed for several years on railways and similar works in