« AnteriorContinuar »
germs well illustrated by the experimental inquiry into the causes of hay-fever made by Mr. Blackley of Manchester, by the ingenious device of flying a kite to which was attached a kind of box containing microscope slides moistened with glycerine. It was clearly proved that the pollen, spores, and seeds of grasses, and other forms of vegetation, abound in the air during the haymaking months, even when the air-current to which the kite ascends is at a great elevation and blows over a large stretch of sea. Careful precautions were, of course, taken in this and other analogous observations to prevent contamination of the slides before the kite ascended. Analogous observations on the air of various localities during the prevalence of hay-fever, and actual experiments on the power of the pollen-grains of various grasses, etc., to set up this distressing complaint when inhaled, and so brought into contact with the mucous membrane of the nostril, all furnished arguments and proofs pointing in one and the same direction, nainely, that the catarrhus æstirus, or hay-fever, is a form of disease owing its origin entirely to the existence of certain kinds of germ-life in the atmosphere, certain individuals being more liable to be affected by these germs than others.
One knoros'- Visit to the Morgue.
WAS told a little incident the other day which
impressed me strongly. Most of us know Paris. We have made a little visit, or perhaps many visits and long, to that pleasantest of capitals. We have lounged in woods and gardens, have listened to the open-air music, which is so charming, we have sat in the open drawing-room of the Boulevards, we have done operas and theatres, had our little dinners and light suppers, have done picture-galleries and museums. It is all very pleasant and delightful, and we are not tired if we are doing it for the twentieth time. But there is one peculiarly Parisian sight which ought to be done, and which all visitors to Paris do once, if they do it no more. This is the Morgue—the abode of dread and terror, the ghostly and oft-dripping slabs, the tragic sights, often the tragic sounds, of weepers, -all the terrible associations of violence and suicide. The Morgue to the Paris sights is like the mummy carried about the Egyptian feast. Certainly there is
a death's head at the feast. We may forget many Paris sights, but we never forget the Morgue.
One day the form of a beautiful young female was carried into the Morgue. She might have been the original of Hood's 'One more Unfortunate,' surely (except, perhaps, the ‘Song of the Shirt ') the most pathetic of all songs. Nothing was known of her history, or even of her name. She must have walked to the marbled quay of the Seine, and have thrown herself from bridge or parapet into the deep waters. Whatever passion or crime or sorrow might have been evidenced by her fair face in life was blotted out in death. She was simply human and beautiful. The beholder was left to guess what might have been the story of bereavement, or desertion, or sorrow, or temptation. Now, at last, she was, or seemed to be,
So far there is nothing very important in the incident. It is paralleled, sadly and often, in beautiful guilty Paris. But there was a certain singular circumstance in the history of this particular
There was diligent search made, as is always the case, for any clue to identity or explanation of the tragedy; and in the unhappy girl's bosom there was a card or piece of paper safely secured, and just two words written, One knows. Man would never know her history; but God knows that history, and what brought it to its awful earthly end.
A whole world of pathos seems wrapped up in the
expression. It was a mute appeal from earth to heaven, from man to God, from time to eternity. At what point of her human history did the stress of circumstance prove too much for her frail delicate nature ? Was it in some feeling of utter hopelessness and despair that she broke down, that the balance of feelings and faculties was lost, that Reason gave way for the moment, driven from her sovereign throne ? Had she erred from woman's purity, and in one keen moment of agonised remorse cut off a wearing, torturing life? Had she struggled on unassisted, with every avenue of honest employment closed, and with only blank starvation staring her in the face ? Had husband, child, and friend been lost, and she had deliberately reckoned that a life forlorn was not worth the having ? They say that Nature will not endure beyond a certain point, but, up to that point, what an accumulation and concentration of sufferings is possible! Had faith and patience, tested a thousand times, broken down at last ? We see the fall, but we do not see the long series of resistances which ended in the fatal lapse. Human scrutiny is impossible, but • One knows.'
To how much of the criticisms, condemnations, and ungenerous estimates of the world might the same plaintive answer be pleaded.
pleaded. Life, on the surface, is so full of inequality and injustice. To how
To how many of us it is a long summer day, almost unbroken by a
cloud! We cannot for ourselves believe that things are distributed with such perfect evenness as some philosophers suppose.
If there are
lives crowded with threnody and tragedy, there seem to be others of unwavering intense happiness. We see people who grow up amid all the helps and safeguards of society, who have been shielded from all touch and knowledge of evil, to whom has come as an heirloom the inheritance of a sweet nature and ordered life, to whom has been transmitted name and position, and to whom the whole path of life has been made easy and strewn with vivid flowers. And of others it may be said, in the pathetic Hebrew phrase, “All these things are against me.' The whole set of conditions has been reversed. There has never been a chance of happiness, hardly of virtue. In the battle of life they have had to contest each inch of a hardly-bearable existence. Often there has been some dark page
of history which has shadowed and marred all the rest of life. And those who bewail weak frustrated lives, and speak pitifully of lapses, errors, and even of crimes, must bear in mind that they must not judge, inasmuch as they cannot know the whole environment of circumstances. • One knows.'
Surely theologians might make a real use of this argument. Are not the inequalities and injustices of life, the poverty and struggle, the moral evil and the physical disease, a proof that what we call life is only