Popular Science Monthly/Volume 14/February 1879/Notes

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In the death of George Henry Lewes, which occurred in London, December 1st, the more serious literature of England lost one of its best representatives. Mr. Lewes possessed a very remarkable degree of native intellectual power, and this gift of nature he appears to have turned to the best account by stern self-discipline and assiduous and well-regulated study. He was a worker in many different fields of literary activity, in some of which he proved himself a master, while in none did he sink to mediocrity. His learning was profound and accurate, and his control of his intellectual resources was complete. In our ninth volume we published a brief biography of Mr. Lewes, with portrait. He has since that period been engaged on the "Problems of Life and Mind," but, as far as we know, has not published any volume since the second.

An Englishman traveling in the Rocky Mountains, in company with an American astronomer, severely criticised the hideous defacement of picturesque places by big-lettered advertisements on every conspicuous rock. His fellow traveler readily admitted that the custom admits of no justification, but added, "I guess we are not as bad as some of your people who have tried to advertise themselves on the planet Mars" (by naming Martial objects after themselves or their friends).

A new illuminating gas is now, according to the Liverpool "Post," under examination by the British Lighthouse Board (Trinity House). It is declared to be not only cheaper than ordinary gas, but far more effective. It is capable of so much concentration that the quantity contained in a small buoy has supplied a light burning for twenty-eight days with sufficient brilliancy to show the position of the buoy to passing ships.

Dr. Lyon Playfair complains that, whereas the 30,000 medical men of England are protected by law against the competition of unqualified practitioners, the 150,000 teachers have no such protection, and have no recognition in the face of the law as constituting a distinct profession. Any one who has failed in any other calling may, if he please, open a school or seminary, and no one can question his right. Dr. Playfair intends to move in Parliament for a bill to determine the qualifications of teachers, and to exclude from that profession all but duly registered aspirants.

The gas-wells of East Liverpool, Ohio, are worthy of being ranked among the "wonders of the world." They are situated, writes a correspondent of the Cleveland "Herald," in and around the town, and give it a continual supply of light, the gas being almost as free as air. It costs practically nothing, and both heats and lights the town. The street lamps are ablaze day as well as night, for it costs nothing to supply the gas, and it takes trouble to shut it off. Then the gas is almost the only fuel employed in the town, being conducted into the grates and stoves by pipes. It is also used for generating steam-power for sundry great pottery manufactories, employing upward of 2,000 workmen. The first of the wells was opened twenty years ago, and there are no signs of exhaustion.

In the discussion of the profits of wheat-growing to-day as compared with the profits forty or fifty years ago—a discussion suggested by a strike of agricultural laborers in an English county—the very curious fact was brought out that the wheat itself represents only one half of the produce, the other half being represented by the straw. The price of wheat has been declining for years, but the price of straw has been rising, till now it is actually the more important, in England, that is to say. The demand for straw as litter, for fodder to mix with other foods, and for different branches of manufacturing industry, has so increased that the article is scarce even in rural districts.

A writer in "Land and Water," under the signature of "Bangkok," gives this amusing account of a little scene which he witnessed at the court of the "Second King" of Siam: "After sitting down and lighting our cigarettes he (the Second King) rang a little hand-bell, and in the dimly-lighted veranda I saw three figures wriggling along on their stomachs to his majesty's chair, on reaching which they sat upon their haunches and showed themselves, three handsome white-haired old men who were introduced to me as the royal astronomers." They had been summoned for the purpose of exhibiting to the foreigner their calculations of an approaching solar eclipse, which proved to be very nearly exact. After a little present from their master, the old gentlemen retired as they had come.

The "Holy Synod" of Athens having ordered public prayer for rain to be made in all the churches of its jurisdiction, one priest, according to the "Independent," made the following common-sense remarks to his congregation: "Blessed Christians," said he, "our most holy synod has ordered public prayer to be made for rain. But I have been considering that, although we in Attica do indeed need rain, in Peloponnesus it would be fatal to the olives and currants. Therefore, blessed Christians, I leave the matter to each one of you. As for me, I am quite willing to leave it to God to do as he chooses."