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It is astonishing to observe what an inclination prevails amongst some persons, when they meet with any extraordinary appearance in the natural world, the real cause of which they cannot exactly understand, to ascribe its existence to a supernatural influence; to Satan, for instance, or to those fancied beings, called Fairies. This is the case with respect to what ire named Satan's Footsteps, and Fairy Rings. Any one who endeavours to remove these superstitious opinions, by explaining the real causes of such things, does good service to those who make such mistakes, and with this view, we transcribe the following extracts from an interesting little work, Howitt's Book of the Seasons.
There is a singular appearance often observed in spring, which has excited many a superstitious terror in the minds of the simple country people, and which, in reality, is very striking. It is the print of footsteps across the grass of the fields, as though they had been footsteps of fire. The grass is burnt black in the foot-prints, presenting a startling contrast with the vivid green of that around. The common people have, consequently, concluded these to be the traces of the nocturnal perambulations of Satan, whereas they are those of some one of themselves, who has crossed the fields while the night-frost teas on the grass, which, at this season, is very tender, and is as effectually destroyed by the pressure of a foot, in its frosty brittleness, as by fire, and with much the same appearance.—p. 85.
Those singular appearances in the grass, called Fairy Rings, are never more conspicuous than during the Autumn months. Even when all other grass is brown, they exhibit a well-defined and bright-green circle. The production of these remarkable circles, and the property which they possess, of every }rear becoming larger, have, of late years, been the subject of various theories. They have been attributed to lightning; they have been attributed to fungi, (that is, mushrooms, toadstools, and such things,) which every year grow upon the outer margin of the circle, and then perishing, cause, by the remains, a fresh circle of vivid green, to appear,
| somewhat wider, of course, than the former one. | They have also been attributed to insects. The i least plausible theory is that of lightning; the most 'plausible, that of fungi. Insects are a consequence of the fungi, rather than a cause of the circle; for where there are fungi, there will be insects to devour them. Fungi are also always found, more or less, about them. I have seen them of so large a species, that, in their growth, they totally destroyed the grass beneath them, dividing the green ring into two, and leaving one of bare rich mould between them. The origin of these circles, too, which hitherto has escaped the eyes of the naturalist, but which is nothing more than a small mushroom-bed, made by the dung of cattle lying undisturbed in the grass, till it becomes completely incorporated with the soil beneath, favours, more than all, the theory of the fungi. Every one knows than where this occurs, a tuft of rank grass springs up, in the centre of which a crop of fungi sometimes appears, and again perishes. There, then, is the nucleus of a fairy ring. The next year the tuft is found to have left a green spot, of perhaps a foot and a half diameter, which has already parted in the centre. This expansion goes on from year to year; the area of the circle is occupied by common grass, and successive crops of fungi give a vivid greenness to the ring which bounds it. That only a few tufts are converted into fairy rings may be owing to their not being sufficiently enriched to become mushroom-beds; but that all fairy rings which exist have .this origin will be found to admit of little doubt. D. I. E.
Let every man in the first address to his actions, consider whether, if he were now to die, he might safely and pru dently do such an act; and whether he would not be infinitely troubled that death should surprise him in his present dispositions; and then let him proceed accordingly. —St. Bernard.
Even in the fiercest uproar of our stormy passions, con science, though in her softest whispers, gives to the sup.-e macy of rectitude the voice of an undying testimony.— Chalmers.
JOHN WILLIAM PARKER, WEST STRAND.
FlTBUbHKD IK WfcKKI.Y NtlMBKRI. PKICE OVK Pi KNY, ANI> IN MOWTHLT FjUrff PE1CS SlXPKNCK, AND
Sold by all BookteUen auii Newtveuden in the Kingdom.
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
THE CATHEDRAL OF STRASBURGH. Stkasbuegh is a French city of great antiquity, the capital of the department of the Lower Rhine, and formerly of the province of Alsace. Till the latter part of the seventeenth century, it was a free city of the German empire, possessing the power of electing its own magistrates, being exempt from subjection to any neighbouring prince, and entitled to assert its independence at the diet. But in 1682 it was taken by Louis the Fourteenth; and its possession being confirmed at the peace of Ryswick, it thenceforth became a part of the French territory. Strasburgh is distinguished for having at an early period embraced the doctrines of the Reformation; and at the time of its incorporation with France, the majority of its inhabitants were of the Protestant religion. Even now it counts of that persuasion no less than onethird of its population; and boasts of containing one of the two principal Protestant seminaries in France,—the other being at Montauban.
The city stands at the confluence of the rivers Brusehe and Me, and is only half a mile distant from the left hank of the Rhine. Some of its streets are wide and straight, but most of them are narrow; the houses are built chiefly of the red stone found in the quarries along the Rhine, and though lofty, are heavy and inelegant. Its appearance is, indeed, altogether German, as are the language and customs of the greater part of its inhabitants. Strasburgh is a bishop's see, and contains, besides the cathedral, six Catholic churches, seven Lutheran, and one Reformed church. The Cathedral is its principal public building, and is justly classed among the most distinguished specimens of Gothic architecture existing.
The origin of the first Cathedral of Strasburgh is, like that of most buildings of a similar character, matter rather of tradition than of history. It is probable that the bishopric was founded about the middle of the fourth century of the Christian era, and that there existed soon after that period an Episcopal church, which was entirely swept away by the barbarous hordes who broke out from the wilds of Germany, when the power of Rome declined, and who, for a time, obscured the light of religion, in those countries which they invaded.
But about the beginning of the sixth century, the zeal of Clovis, king of the Franks, himself a convert from paganism, re-established the worship of Christianity, and caused the Cathedral of Strasburgh to be rebuilt. The structure thus raised was extremely simple in its nature, being composed, according to the practice of the time, entirely of wood, and boasting of few decorations either in its internal or external arrangements. But it lasted only until the commencement of the eleventh century, though probably it underwent many alterations and repairs in the mean while.
In 1002 it was pillaged, together with the town, and burnt, by Herman Duke of Suabia and Alsace, in revenge for the bishop's having sided with Henry of Bavaria, the competitor of that prince for the imperial throne. When, however, Henry became Emperor of Germany, he was not unmindful of the sufferings of the people of Strasburgh in his cause, and he compelled Herman to make restitution for the mischief which he had occasioned, by surrender* ing to their bishop the revenues of a rich abbey. Wernher, who then held the see, proceeded with great zeal to make arrangements for the erection of a new Cathedral; and, after many interruptions, was enabled, in 1015, by the liberality of the emperor, ■nd the contributions of the clergy and tlie people,
to lay the foundation of the edifice which now erists. No less, however, than 424 year* elapsed before the building reached the state iu which we now behold it; and of these 162 were spent in the construction of the tower alone.
"This far-famed Cathedral," says Mr, Rusvitf in his Tour in Germany, "is in some respects the .Vest Gothic building in Europe. There are many which arc more ample in dimensions. In the solemn imposing grandeur to which tile lofty elevations and dim colonnades of this architecture are so well adapted, the Cathedral of Milan acknowledges no rival; and not only in some German towns, as in Niirnberg, but likewise among the Gothic remains of our own country and of Normandy, it would not be difficult to find samples of workmanship equally light and elegant in the detail with the boasted fane of Strasburgh. The main body of the building is put together with an admirable symmetry of proportion, and to this it is indebted for its principal beauty as a whole. Connoisseurs, indeed, have measured and criticised; they have found this too long, and that too short: but architectural beauty is made for the eye; and even in classical architecture, where all has been reduced to measurement, the rules of Vitruvius or Palladio are good only as expressing, in the language of art, judgments which taste forms independent of rules. Yet there is no superfluity or confusion of ornament about the edifice; there is no crowding of figure upon figure, merely for the sake of having sculpture. With more it would have approached the tawdry and puerile style of the present day; with less it would have been as dead and heavy as the cathedral of Ulm, which, though exquisite in particular details of the sculpture, yet, without being more imposing, wants all the grace and elegance of the fabric of Strasburgh."
The side of the Cathedral represented in our engraving, is the southern; but die view is well calculated to convey an excellent idea of the chief beauties of the building, especially of the tower, which is the most remarkable part of it. The western front has, as usual, three portals, decorated with statues and sculptures in bas-relief, and presents an appearance of great beauty and elegance. Immediately above the portals are three equestrian statues, each formed of one block, and representing the kings Clovis and Dagobert, and Rodolph of Hapsburgh. Emperor of Germany. There is a niche for a fourth figure; but it has always remained vacant, although the proposal has been entertained of placing iu it a statue of Louis the Fourteenth, who was a great benefactor to the Cathedral.
But the great attraction of this edifice consists m the tower which surmounts the western front, and which is remarkable for its enormous height, its elegance of form, and the delicacy of its workmanship. Its altitude is second only to that of the great pyramid of Egypt,—the pinnacle of the spire beini more than 500 feet above the pavement. There is nothing uncommon iu its general form; but the harmony of proportions, and the elegance of workmanship, appear to greater advantage iu it than in the rest of the building. The massive ba»e terminates just at the point where, to the eye, it woulil become too heavy if carried to a further elevation; and it is succeeded by the lofty slender pyramid, *■■■> delicately ribbed that it hardly seems to be supported. The profuseness of decoration, and the extreme lightness displayed in this part of the structure, give it, at a distance, the appearance of an exquisjte lacework; but a glance at the engraving in the preceding page, will enable our readers to form a more correct notion of its beauty than could any detailed description.
The clock of the Cathedral of Strasburgh* is one of the most curious specimens of early proficiency in horological mechanism that exist, and is equalled in celebrity (though not in size) only by that which belongs to the Cathedral of Lyons. It was constructed in the sixteenth century, after the designs and under the superintendence of a learned mathematician, Cunradus Dasypodius by name, who filled the post of a professor in the university of Strasburgh, and who has left behind him a very erudite description of this master-piece of his ingenuity. Besides serving the ordinary purposes of a measurer of time, it exhibits the motions of some of the planets, with various other astronomical phenomena; and is furnished with a fanciful apparatus of allegorical figures, for marking the division of time into hours and quarters. We must observe, however, that all these merits belong to this clock only when it is in very good repair,—an occurrence which, according to all accounts, has not happened very frequently since its original construction.
Our readers will perceive, above the small dome which crowns the point of intersection of the cross, a species of apparatus somewhat resembling the machine which is occasionally seen in operation on the top of the Admiralty-ofHce in London. It is an instrument of the same kind, being, in point of fact, a telegraph used for the purposes of communication by signal.
This Cathedral did not escape the violence which, at the time of the Revolution, profaned the chief part of the sacred edifices in France. The great gate of the central portal was coined into money; and many of the most precious ornaments of the building were carried off or mutilated, or entirely destroyed. In. the height of their phrensy the levellers of the day proposed to demolish the exquisite tower of the Cathedral, on the ground that its superior loftiness was offensive to the spirit of "equality" which then characterized the ruling party in France, and led them away into such absurdities; fortunately, the proposal was not carried into execution.
* See Saturday Magaiiru, Vol. III., p. 150.
Thx numbers of the Ants here were go immense as to cover the roads for the space of several miles; and so crowded in many places, that the prints of the horses* feet were distinctly marker! amongst them till filled by tho surrounding multitudes. They made bridges across large and rapid rivers with the dead bodies of their comrades. Every kind of cold victuals, nil species of vermin, particularly rats, and even the sores of the negroes, were exposed to their attacks. A premium of 20,000/., from the public treasury, was offered to the discoverer of any effectual method of destroying them, and the principal means employed were poison and fire. By mixing arsenic and corrosive sublimate with animal substances, myriads were destroyed; and the slightest tasting of tho poison rendered them so outrageous as to devour »ue another. Lines of red-hot charcoal were laid in their way, to which they crowded in such numbers as to extinguish it with their bodies; and holes full of fire were dug in the cane-grounds, which were soon extinguished by heaps of dead. But while the nests remained undisturbed, new progenies appeared as numerous as ever; and the only effectual check which they received was from the destructive hurricane which, by tearing up altogether, or so loosening tho roots of the plants where they nestled as to admit the rain, almost extirpated the whole race.—Martin"S West India Colonies.
Truth ;shouid never strike her topsails in compliment to ignorance or sophistry; and if the battle be fought yardarm to yard-arm, however her cause occasionally may suffer from the weakness of its champiens, it is sure to prove ultimately victorious.—T. H.
Time is precious, but its value is unknown, to us. We shall obtain this knowledge when we can no longer profit by it. Our friends require it of us as if it were nothing, and we give it them in the same manner. It is often a burden to us, and we know not what to do with it; but the day will come when a quarter of an hour will appear of more value to us than all the riches of the universe.
God, who is liberal in all his other gifts, shows us, by the wise economy of his providence, how circumspect we ought to be in the management of our time, for be never gives us two moments together. He only gives us the second as he takes away the first, and keeps the third in his own hands, leaving us in absolute uncertainty whether it shall ever become ours or not! Time is given us that wc may take care for eternity; and eternity will not be too long to regret the loss of our time if we have mis-spent it.—-fknelon
An Answer To "what Is Time?'
"Know'st thou me not?" tho deep voice criedj
"So long enjoyed, so oft misused:— Alternate in thy fickle pride,
Desired, neglected, and abused.
"Before my breath, like blazing flax,
Mitn and his marvels pass away,
Arc founded, flourish, and decay.
"Redeem my hours,—the space is brief,
And measureless thy joy or grief,
, Sir W. Scott.
It were unjust and ungrateful to conceive that the amusements of life are altogether forbidden by its beneficent Author. They serve, on tho contrary, important purposes in the economy of human life, and are destined to pruduco important effects both upon our happiness and character. They are " the wells of the desert;" the kind resting-places in which toil may relax, in which the weary spirit may recover its tone, and where the desponding mind may reassume its strength and its hopes. They are, in another view, of some importance to the dignity of individual character. In every thing we call amusement, there is generally some display of taste and of imagination; some elevation of the mind from mere animal indulgence, or the baseness of sensual desire. Even in the scenes of relaxation, therefore, they have a tendency to preserve tho dignity of human character and to fill up the vacant and ungarded hours of life, with occupations, innocent at least, if not virtuous. But their principal effect, perhaps, is upon the social character of man. Whenever amusement is sought, it is in the society of our brethren, and whenever it is found, it is in our sympathy with the happiness of those around us. It bespeaks the disposition of benevolence, and it creates it. When men assemble, accordingly, for the purpose of general happiness or joy, they exhibit to the thoughtful eye, one of the most pleasing appearances of their original character. They leave behind them, for a time, the faults of their station, and the asperities of their temper; they forget the secret views and the selfish purposes of their ordinary life, and mingle with the crowd around them with no other view than to receive and communicato happiness. It is a spectacle which it is impossible to obscrvo without emotion; and while tho virtuous man rejoices at that evidence which it affords of the benevolent constitution of his nature, the pious man is apt to bless tho benevolence of that God, who thus makes the wilderness and the solitary place be glad, and whose wisdom renders even the hours of amusement subservient to the cause of virtue.
It is not, therefore, the use of the innocent amusements of life which is dangerous, but the abuse of them; it is not when they are occasionally, but when they are constantly pursued; when the love of amusement degenerates into a passion, and when, from being an occasional indulgence it becomes a habitual desire,—AuSon.
ON THE LUMINOUS APPEARANCE OF THE SEA. From the earliest ages, the luminous appearance of the sea, in the night-time, attracted the attention of navigators; and the phenomenon was attributed to various causes, such as putrid substances floating on the water, electricity, friction, and, lastly, the presence of luminous insects. Its appearance is thus described by an old author, who merely gives the result of his observation without a knowledge of the cause.
"When the ship ran apace, we often observed a great light in its wake. This light was not always equal, sometimes it was very vivid, and at other timas nothing was to be seen. As to its brightness I could easily read by it the title of a book, although I was nine or ten feet above it from the surface of the water. As to the extent of this light, sometimes all the wake appeared luminous to thirty or forty feet distance from the ship, but the light was very faint at any considerable distance. Some days one might easily distinguish such particles as were luminous from those that were not, at other times there was no difference. The wake seemed then like a river of milk, and was very pleasant to look on. It is not always that this light appears, though the sea be in great motion, nor does it always happen when the ship sails fastest."
The general cause of this appearance, is the presence of an immense number of minute creatures of the Class Radiata, Zoophytes * (animal plants); although, at times, it may be attributed to putrid substances. It has been asserted that several species of fishes, particularly those belonging to the mackerel tribes, give out, under peculiar circumstances, while yet living, a kind of phosphorescent light; but more accurate researches have proved, that the power of shining in the dark has been limited, in living animals, to the classes Mollusca, Insects, Worms, and Radiated animals. The mollusca and worms contain each but a single luminous species, the Pholas dqctylus (the Date pholas) in the one, and the Nereis noctiluca, (Niyhtshining nereis) in the other. Among Mo,i,„a scintilla... the insects the species are more nuNniiirai uiie. merous, and contain many well-known • objects, as the glow-worm and the
lantern-fly: but the greatest number of these illuminated creatures are confined to the sea, and belong, as we have already said, to the class Thoum.maynlaed. Radiata. The most numerous and the most widely-distributed species is the Medusa Scintillans.
The origin of the property possessed by these curious creatures is hitherto unexplained. Sir Everard Home says, "It seems proved, that so far from the luminous substance being of a phosphorescent nature, that it sometimes shows the strongest and most constant light when excluded from oxygen gasf; that it in no circumstances undergoes any process like combustion, but is actually incapable of being inflamed j that the increase of heat, during the shining of glow-worms, is an accompaniment and not an effect of the phenomenon, and depends upon the excited state of the insect, and lastly, that heat and electricity increase the exhibition of light, merely by operating like other stimuli, upon the vital properties of the animal."
On the passage from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro, the sea was observed, by Sir Joseph Banks, to be unusually luminous, flashing in many parts like lightning; he directed some of the water to be hauled
• See Saturday Magatine, Vol. IT., p. 236.
t Phosphorus burns intensely when exposed to this gas
Medusa Peu.ucinj. One quarter the siie of nature.
of light being so vivid as to affect the eye of the spectator.
The Pyrosoma Atlantica was discovered by Peron, during his voyage from Europe to the Mauritius, and the sudden appearance of an immense group of these creatures, appears to have produced a very striking effect; he thus describes the incident.
"We had for some time been detained by calms in the middle of the equatorial regions, and were only able to increase our latitude, by the aid of the sudden stormy gusts of wind, peculiar to these climates. In the evening we had experienced one of the most violent of these gusts; the heavens were in every quarter covered with heavy clouds, and a profound darkness hung over all; the wind blew with violence, and our vessel made great way. On a sudden there