Harper's Weekly 10/23/1869


HOME AND FOREIGN GOSSIP.

It may interest some of our readers to know the
cause of the recent high tides. The new moon was on
the earth's equator, and was at the same time in peri-
gee (that is, nearest the earth)—a conjunction of cir-
cumstances said to threaten high tides and destructive
storms. On the 5th of October a straight line drawn
from the centre of the earth would have passed directly
through the moon and the sun, both being on the same
side of the earth. The sun and moon thus exercised
their greatest attractive power on the water, and a
high tidal wave was the result.


An American watch-maker is reported to have made
a chance discovery that the balance-wheel in nearly
every watch is, if made of steel, converted into a mag-
net. If this is a fact, the magnetic character of the
wheel will account for many perturbations in watches
which have hitherto been inexplicable. A key or the
steel blade of a knife in the same pocket as the
watch will exert a disturbing influence. But even if
there should be no piece of steel in the pocket the
magnet will necessarily tend toward the north, and
so far interfere with the calculations of the watch-
maker in a very delicate piece of mechanism.


The Trustees of the Avondale Relief Fund assure
the public that the fund is specific; that it is given
solely for the aid and relief of those persons who sur-
vive the appalling death which involved husbands, fa-
thers, brothers, and sons; and that to no other chari-
ty, present or prospective, shall any of the fund be as-
signed. It is proposed that all but $40,000 be distrib-
uted within a year to the widows and orphans. The
$40,000 will be permanently invested.


In an interesting sketch of “the great American
magazines” the Evening Mail places Harper's Monthly
at the head of the list—“a position,” it remarks, “to
which its age and general merit entitle it.” The Mail
goes on to say: “It was once the fashion, in the fal-
low days of American literary criticism, for critics to
talk lightly of Harper's; but the public were, as always,
practically indifferent to the critics, and true to their
own tastes, and they bought the magazine by the hun-
dred thousand. The variety, quantity, and adapted-
ness of the matter furnished by this magazine are
something surprising. It does not claim to be a great
`literary moulding influence,' or any thing of the
sort. It only claims to give, and does give, for the
price, a surprising quantity of excellent matter, pro-
fusely and well illustrated, and of a kind that the peo-
ple care to read.”


“A week ago I was worth $80,000 clear of the world.
To-day every dollar I can get together will amount to
just $65.” Such was the remark of a gentleman in
Wall Street one day during the late financial panic,
and hundreds might have made somewhat similar
statements. Said one broker: “I have been on the
street thirty years, and I never knew there were such
thieves in existence until to-day.” If gambling in
gold and stocks brought, in such a crisis as has just
occurred, its just punishment upon the dishonest gam-
blers only, it were well; but thousands and thousands
have suffered innocently, and in various ways. There
is a general sympathy expressed for some firms, who
have been honorable and honest in their dealings, but
who have experienced a total failure.


It is rather unique taste that has induced Miss Mid-
dy Morgan to choose for her business one which has
belonged especially to men—namely, cattle report-
ing. Yet, according to the Revolution, she is peculiar-
ly well fitted for this line of business. Horses and
other domestic animals have been a passion with her
from childhood. Her father was an Irish country
gentleman, and an enthusiastic fox-hunter. His
daughter shared, with passion, his predilection, and
quailed at no obstacle that her horse was willing to
leap. No hedge, ditch, or gate that her fellow-hunt-
ers cleared was refused by her; and notwithstanding
several falls, and three dislocations of bones, her ar-
dor remained unchecked. At her father's death she
wound up his estate, and sojourned in Italy after a
course of European travel. Her extraordinary knowl-
edge of horses attracted the notice of some noted per-
sons in foreign countries, and she was even commis-
sioned, at one time, to purchase horses for King Vic-
tor Emanuel. She is about thirty, and is said to be
in many respects a superior woman, speaking several
languages, and possessing a well-cultivated mind.


One of the pleasantest affairs of the season was a
musical entertainment lately given by Miss Clara
Louise Kellogg, at New Hartford, Connecticut—pleas-
ant, because given with no thought of gain or gold.
The audience consisted of about four hundred opera-
tives belonging to various factories in the vicinity,
who had been invited to the musical treat. Miss Kel-
logg presided at the piano, and sang every variety of
song, and in many different languages, so that every
one would have something that suited their taste.
The delight experienced by the poor working-people
language fails to express. They were almost wild
with enthusiasm. Those that could not gain admit-
tance surrounded the residence, and from without en-
joyed the delicious notes.


Professor Faber's speaking-machine has been ex-
hibited at the International Horticultural Exhibition
at Hamburg. It is said to articulate various words,
and even to answer questions and simple sentences
with wonderful distinctness.


It is satisfactory to hear that M. Armand, a French
savant, has stated to the Academy of Sciences that he
has discovered a sure antidote to nicotine in the com-
mon water-cress. It destroys the poisonous effects of
nicotine, and yet does not alter the aroma of tobacco.
A solution of water-cress may therefore be employed
for steeping the leaves of tobacco, and would thus
divest them of their noxious properties, and, more-
over, a draught of the same will act as a sure antidote
to nicotine. In the face of this important discovery,
anti-tobacco societies will no longer have any excuse
for the affectionate interest they have hitherto dis-
played in the health of smokers, or for the lavish
abuse they have so freely bestowed upon their vic-
tims. Instead of tracts, the anti-tobacconists should
now distribute water-cresses.


The following is a description of the manner in
which marriages among the Scotch peasantry were
formerly conducted: The fond swain who had re-
solved to make proposals sent for the object of his
affection to the village ale-house, previously inform-
ing the landlady of his intentions. The damsel, who
knew the purpose of the message, busked herself in
her best attire and waited on her admirer. She was
entertained with a glass of ale; then the swain pro-
ceeded with his tale of love. A dialogue like the fol-
lowing ensued: “I'm gaun to speir whether ye will
tak me, Jenny.”“Deed, Jock, I thocht ye micht hae
speir't that lang syne.”“They said ye wad refuse
me, lassie.”“Then they're leers, Jock.”“An' so
ye'll no refuse me, lassie?”“I've tell't ye that twice
owre already, Jock.” Then came the formal act of
betrothal. The parties pressed the thumbs of their
right hands, which they licked, together, and vowed
fidelity. The ceremony possessed the solemnity of
an oath, the violator of such an engagement being
considered guilty of perjury. In allusion to this prac-
tice a favorite Scottish song commences:


“There's my thumb, I'll ne'er beguile thee.”

In 1866 there were sent over the wires in the United
States 12,904,770 messages, a larger number than in
Great Britain, France, and Austria combined.


That English ladies are getting their fair share, at
least, of literary work, will be seen from the fact that
four magazines are now edited by ladies; and, also,
that three or four of the best known writers of maga-
zine fictions are of the gentler sex.


Among many sensible remarks of the late Lord
Palmerston, his suggestions on the subject of legible
handwriting are well worthy of attention. His lord-
ship, who wrote a very plain, clear hand himself,
thought every body ought to be able to write in char-
acters easily decipherable. We think so too; the ob-
ject of all writing is that it may be read. Many of our
eminent men write a most abominable scrawl. Every
body knows Mr. Dickens's sketch of a learned sergeant,
whose opinions all the solicitors sought on the most
abstruse points of law, and whose old clerk was the
only person in the world who could decipher them
when the counsel had written them out. The great
humorist himself, however, is an offender in this re-
spect.


Here is a man who would have delighted the Vicar
of Wakefield's heart. Jeremy Washbourne, when a
young man, married, and when he had reached thirty
his wife died, leaving him a father of ten children.
He married again. At the age of forty-eight he was
once more made a widower, and a father to the ex-
tent of seventeen children. Unawed Jeremy married
again; and at the age of seventy relapsed into widow-
erhood, his third wife bequeathing to his love twenty-
one children. The bone of Jeremy's bone, and the
flesh of his flesh had been therefore multiplied into
forty-eight. Of the offspring of the first batch he is
the great-great-grandfather, of the second the great-
grandfather; of the third of course the grandfather.
The statistics have credited him with three hundred
and twelve as his contribution to posterity. He lives
at Hull, England, and is yet fresh and hearty.


The German savant, Falb, has been exciting the
greatest alarm among the inhabitants of South Amer-
ica, having predicted an earthquake more severe than
that of last year. This alarm has been increased by
the fact that some of the German professor's prophe-
cies have been verified, as on the 20th, 21st, and 24th
of August several shocks of earthquake were expe-
rienced, and at Iquique and Arica the sea receded
with great velocity, and afterward returned, causing
much damage to small craft near the coast in that lo-
cality. All along the sea-shore shocks more or less
severe have been experienced, and the consternation
caused by them is most intense.


The late gale was disastrous to the oysters. In
some beds fully one half were destroyed. At various
points the oystermen find their prospective yield sad-
ly interfered with. The wind and tide lifted and
transported vast quantities of sand, distributing it
over the beds, and completely burying the oysters.



SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT AT NORRISTOWN, PENN.
[Photographed by William Stroud.]



SCENE OF THE TERRIBLE BOILER EXPLOSION AT THE STATE FAIR, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA.—[Photographed by C. Otis and Co.]




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