Harper's Weekly 10/12/1872


HOME AND FOREIGN GOSSIP.

The merits and demerits of tobacco have been dis-
cussed over and over again. Not even the frequent
sight of cigar or pipe in the mouth of boys not yet in
their teens can suggest any thing new. Accepting
the practice of smoking as a stubborn fact, the query
is seriously made whether those who indulge in it do
not abuse the privileges which this free country gives.
There is no law against smoking in the streets, nor,
limitedly, on steamboats, or on our city cars. But
how often are ladies in our crowded thoroughfares
nauseated by an inveterate smoker who is walking
before them, regardless that every puff is blown di-
rectly into the faces of the unfortunate beings, who
often vainly attempt to pass before him. Will a
thoughtful gentleman stand puffing his cigar on the
front platform of a car, when the clouds of smoke roll
back through open windows and door, to the annoy-
ance and disgust of every passenger? There are rules
pertaining to good manners and ordinary politeness
which the truly well-bred man seldom forgets, even in
public places, and when among strangers. His care-
ful observance of the rights and comfort of others
makes him at once as entirely distinct from the class
of rough, ill-bred, and selfish persons who persist in
doing what they please at all times, and in all places,
caring not at all how many are incommoded by their
conduct.


When a man has endured the trials and troubles of
life for upward of a century, we would suppose he
could be patient until the end, which naturally must
be at hand. But not so thought a centenarian living
in Illinois; he recently hung himself at the age of one
hundred and three years.


Phylloxera vastatrix is the terrible name of a terrible
insect which has invaded Portugal, and seriously in-
jured the vineyards. The scourge has also appeared
in certain Swiss cantons. Many remedies have been
proposed, all which need the test of time.


By a recent invention an additional protection
against fraud is given to the drawers of checks and
drafts. A new style of colored paper, of a delicate
French gray shade, is so prepared that figures once
made upon it can not be erased or chemically removed
without leaving a mark that would lead to immediate
detection.


An ingenious Yankee—so goes the story—has just
invented a large revolving machine—a scoop-net cov-
ered with lace, and put in motion by wind, water, or
steam—by which he puts mosquitoes to a profitable
use—these insects being big and thick where he lives.
Every revolution of the net draws in an ounce of mos-
quitoes; these are drowned by the wonderful machine,
and a ton of them when thus collected makes a splen-
did dressing for land, worth $45, and quickly sold.


One Dr. Birdsdahl has given to the public some
startling facts. He has discovered that the disagree-
able odor that hangs about the streets of our city is,
in a measure, due to the putrefying paste which the
industrious bill-posters unremittingly place upon bill-
boards, dead-walls, curb-stones, and awning-posts.
He has found that there are between four hundred
and five hundred persons employed in the work of
covering all the exposed and unprotected surfaces of
the city with flour paste. In this employment each
consumed daily nearly twenty liquid quarts of mate-
rial, or about ten thousand liquid quarts in the aggre-
gate. A quart of this paste, as generally used with
an ordinary whitewashing brush, would cover about
twelve square yards of surface, and consequently there
were one hundred and twenty thousand square yards
of putrescent material spread every twenty-four hours,
or eight hundred and forty thousand square yards per
week. This putrid mass is believed by Dr. Birdsdahl
to breed disease and death to an alarming extent.


Two young Italians recently ascended Vesuvius,
and boldly went within the crater. They are the first
who have made the attempt since the eruption, and
ten guides were scarcely sufficient to overcome the
difficulties of the enterprise.


People continue the practice of kindling fires with
kerosene oil and other explosive liquids. No method
of making a fire is more effectual. Three persons in
Brooklyn were burned to death during the month of
August by this means.


It is said that our National Park in the Yellow Stone
Valley has one little drawback—too many Indians.
They will seriously interfere with pleasure parties,
unless they take a notion to be friendly.


A singular public character has just died in Paris—
a blind beggar named Martin—who for the last thirty
years has been a prominent object upon the bridges
and boulevards of the city. His constant occupation
was carving the letters of the alphabet out of wood
with a little knife. His work was done with great
delicacy and much rich ornamentation, and was spe-
cially remarkable as, having been blind from birth,
he had never seen a letter or any thing else. He died
at the age of sixty-seven.


Twenty-five well-known and reliable citizens of
Chicago have been selected to aid the city authorities
in the prompt arrest, speedy trial, and sure punish-
ment of criminals, the police and courts having proved
powerless to stay the course of crime. The commit-
tee are empowered to offer rewards, engage counsel,
and employ the services of special detectives when-
ever deemed advisable by them, and it is expected that
the funds for their work will be furnished by volun-
tary subscriptions of the law-loving and law-abiding
people of the city. Leading bankers, merchants, and
business men of all kinds are engaged in this move-
ment. Such a committee can not fail to exert a pow-
erful influence in behalf of law and order, and in the
prevention of crime.


The world-renowned violinist, Ole Bull, is intending
to make a complete tour through all the Southern
States during the present fall. He has had this plan
in mind for a long time, but health has not until re-
cently permitted him to make a definite arrangement.


A French journal announces that a curious docu-
ment relating to the massacre of St. Bartholomew is
about to be published. It is the journal of a German
student, J. W. De Botzheim, who happened to be at
Orleans at the time of the massacre, and who, in sim-
ple language and with minute precision, has recorded
his recollections of the frightful scenes that occurred
on that day. Botzheim was not only an actual wit-
ness of the masacres, but he narrowly escaped death
himself on several occasions. This record of his ex-
periences, which was lately discovered in Germany,
occupies not fewer than sixty-one pages. It is in
Latin. Certain words and certain characteristic
phrases are, however, found here and there recorded
in French. The MS. discovered is unfortunately not
the original, but a copy very difficult to decipher on
account of its numerous abbreviations. The Latin is
rather ungrammatical, and the spelling very defective.


Rubinstein is thought to resemble portraits of Bea-
thoven, particularly when he is performing at the
piano. He is forty-one, though he looks younger.
His wife was formerly maid of honor at the Russian
court.


Among the incidents related of Mr. Henry Ward
Beecher, during his summer's stay at the Twin Mount-
ain House, is the following, which is entirely charac-
teristic of the man. As Mr. Beecher was standing one
day in front of the hotel, dressed in any thing but
ministerial style, a dandy-like gentleman drove up and
asked him in a pompous tone if he would take his
horse into the stable. Beecher replied that he would,
and politely helped the ladies from the carriage, took
the proffered twenty-five cents, and drove to the sta-
ble. The story was soon in every body's mouth, and
it is unnecessary to say that the gentleman left that
night.


More than forty years ago a beautiful and highly en-
dowed young girl, named Mlle. Charton, made a tri-
umphant dé but at the Odeon, in Paris. In the midst
of her triumph the jealous hand of a man flung into
her face some aquafortis, whereby she nearly lost her
sight, and her beauty was destroyed forever. Mlle.
Charton pardoned the coward, and withdrew from the
stage. She sank into penury and oblivion; but two
or three friends lightened the first, and showed she
was not altogether forgotten. Recently this poor lady
was carried to a pauper's grave, followed only by one
actor.


A singular statement is made in an Auburn news-
paper. A few weeks ago a gentleman who was pass-
ing through Auburn left a package of 500 temperance
tracts with the chaplain of the prison for circulation
among the convicts. The tracts were searchingly scru-
tinized by the chaplain, who found that they were writ-
ten with great care, and likely to do good. They dis-
cussed the various aspects of the temperance question,
and, among other things, mentioned the various drugs
and poisons of which liquors are often made, giving
analyses and explanations of the way they are manu-
factured, with a view to show how deleterious they are
to health. The tracts were distributed. Soon after-
ward various convicts were found in an intoxicated
condition. On investigation it came to light that a
number of them had actually made use of the recipes
in the tracts, and produced a kind of whisky, on which
those in the secret had been reveling till detected. How
they obtained the materials from which to make it is
not stated.



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