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The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) online

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which Dr. P. often felt, having had his hand sucked several times by him.
Whether it may grow more rough, as the beast grows older, we cannot say.
His eyes are dull and sleepy, much like those of a hog in shape, and situated
nearer the nose than that of any quadruped ever seen; which he very seldom
opens entirely. His ears are broad and thin towards the tops, much like those
of a hog; but have each a narrow round root with some rugae about it; and
rises, as it were, out of a sin\is surrounded with a plica. His neck is very
short, being that part which lies between the back edge of the jaw and the
plica of the shoulder; on this part there are two distinct folds, which go quite
round it, only the fore one is broken underneath, and has a hollow flap hang-
ing from it, so deep that it would contain a man's fist shut, the concave side
being forward. From the middle of the hinder one of these folds or plicae,
arises another, which, passing backwards along the neck, is lost before it
reaches that which surrounds the fore part of the body. His shoulders are
very thick and heavy, and have each another fold downward, that crosses the .
foreleg; and, almost meeting that of the fore part of the body, just men-
tioned, they both double under the belly close behind the fore leg.

His body, in general, is very thick, and juts out at the sides, like that of a
cow with calf. He has a hollow in his back, which is mostly forward, but
backwards, the line or ridge rises much higher than that of the withers ; and,
forming the plica on the loins, falls down suddenly to the tail, making an un-
even line. His belly hangs low, being not far from the ground, as it sinks
much in the middle. From the highest point in his back, the plica of the
loins runs down on each side between the last ribs and the hip, and is lost be-
fore it comes to the belly; but, above the place of its being lost, another arises,
and runs backward round the hind legs, a little above the joint; this he calls
the crural fold, which turns up behind till it meets another transverse one,
which runs from the side of the tail forward, and is lost before it reaches within
1 inches of that of the loins. The legs are thick and strong; those before,
when he stands firm, bend back at the knee, a great way from a straight line,
being very round, and somewhat taper downwards. The hinder legs are also
very strong, bending backwards at the joint to a blunt angle, under which the
limb grows smaller, and then becomes gradually thicker, as it approaches the
foot; so also does that part of the fore leg. About the joint of each of his
legs, there is a remarkable plica when he bends them in lying down, which
disappears when he stands.


In some quadrupeds, the fetlock bends or yields to the weight of the animal ;
but in this there is no appearance of any such bending, and he seems to stand
on stumps, especially if he is viewed behind. He has three hoofs on each foot
forwards; but the back part is a large mass of flesh, rough like the rest of his
skin, and bears on the sole or bottom of his foot. This part is plump and cal-
lous in the surface, yielding to pressure from the softness of the subjacent flesh.
Its shape is like that of a heart, having a blunt apex before, and running back-
ward in a broad basis. The outline of the bottoms of the hoofs are somewhat

The tail of this animal is very inconsiderable, in proportion to his bulk, not
exceeding 17 or 18 inches in length, and not very thick; it has a great rough-
ness round it, and a kind of twist or stricture towards the extremity, ending in
a fatness, which gave occasion to authors to compare it to a spatula. On the
sides of this flat part, a few hairs appear, which are black and strong, but
short. There is no other hair on any part of this young rhinoceros, except a
very small quantity, on the posterior edge of the upper parts of the ears.
There is a very particular quality in this creature, of listening to any noise or
rumour in the streets; for though he were eating, sleeping, or under the
greatest engagements nature imposes on him, he stops every thing suddenly,
and lifts up his head, with great attention, till the noise is over.

The penis of the rhinoceros is of an extraordinary shape. There is first a
theca, or prseputium, arising from the inguinal part of the belly, nearly like
that of a horse, which conceals, as that does, the body and glans, when
retracted. As soon as the animal begins to extend it, the first thing that is
extruded, the theca, is a second sheath of a light flesh-colour, and pretty much
in form like the flower of the digitalis floribus purpureis; and then out of this
another hollow tube, which is analogous to the glans penis of other creatures,
very like the flower of the aristolochia floribus purpureis, but of a lighter or
fainter flesh-colour than the former. His keeper, who was a native of Bengal,
would make him thus emit his penis when he pleased, while he lay on the
ground, by rubbing his back and sides with straw ; and, in its utmost state of
erection, it never was extended to more than about 8 or 9 inches. Its termi-
nation is backward in a curved direction, so that he is a retromingent animal,
and consequently, retrogenerative. I have several times seen him staling: he
turns his tail to the wall, and, extending his hind legs asunder, crumps himself
up, and pushes his urine out in a full stream as far as a cow.

Of the fen)ale rhinoceros that came over afterwards, it is unnecessary to say
more than that she was exactly like this in all respects, except the sex; and, by
the horn, and size, of the same age ; and the pudenda like those of a cow.


The skin of the rhinoceros is thick and impenetrable ; in running one's fingers
under one of the folds, and holding it with the thumb at the top, it feels like
a piece of board 4^ inch thick. Dr. Grew describes a piece of one of these
skins tanned, which, he says, " is wonderful hard, and of that thickness, ex-
ceeding that of any other land animal he has seen." It is covered all over more
or less with hard incrustations like so many scabs; which are but small on the
ridge of the neck and back, but grow larger by degrees downwards toward the
belly, and are largest on the shoulders and buttocks, and continue pretty large
on the legs all along down ; but, between the folds, the skin is as smooth and
soft as silk, and easily penetrated; of a pale flesh-colour, which does not appear
to view in the folds, except when the rhinoceros extends them, but is always
in view under the fore and hinder parts of the belly, but the middle is iucrusted
over like the rest of the skin. To call these scabbed roughnesses scales, as
some have done, is to raise an idea in us of something regular; which in many
authors is a great inaccuracy, and leads the reader into errors; for there is no-
thing formal in any of them.

As to the performance of this animal's several motions, let us consider the
great wisdom of the Creator, in the contrivance that serves him for that pur-
pose. The skin is entirely impenetrable and inflexible; if therefore it was
continued all over the creature, as the skins of other animals, without any
folds, he could not bend any way, and consequently not perform any necessary
action; but that suppleness in the skins of all other quadrupeds, which renders
them flexible in all parts, is very well compensated in this animal by those
folds; for, since it was necessary his skin should be hard for his defence, it was
an excellent contrivance, that the skin should be so soft and smooth underneath,
that, when he bends himself any way, one part of this board-like skin should
slip or shove over the other ; and that these several folds should be placed in
such places of his body, as might facilitate the performance of every voluntary
motion he might be disposed to.

As the great number of horns that are to be found in the museums of the
curious, brought from time to time from the East Indies, are single; we may
venture to assert, that all those of Asia have really but one horn on the nose;
and this is confirmed by many gentlemen, who had seen those creatures in
Persia, and other parts of the east. Hence it is easy to conclude, that this was
the reason the single horn was imagined the standard of nature for that animal,
and that therefore Martial ought rather to have said, that two bears, or, ac-
cording to Bochart, two wild bulls, were tossed by the strong horn of the
rhinoceros, than that a single bear was thrown up by his double horn.

We do not want sufficient proofs to show, that there is a species of those

VOL. viu. 4 U


animals in Africa, having 2 horns on the nose. Peter Kolbe, a Dutchman, in
his voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, says, there is one on the summit of the
nose, like the others, but having a smaller close behind it. There are also 1
horns in Sir Hans Sloane's Museum, sticking to the same individual integuments,
not much more than an inch from each other; which is an undeniable proof of
the existence of this species. And, in fine, the brass medal of Domitian has,
on one side, the figure of a rhinoceros with 1 horns on the nose, very plain.
From all which I cannot but be inclined to believe, that this medal was struck
from one of those of Africa; and that Martial had no more notion of a rhino-
ceros with one horn, than Bochart had of one with two.

Augustini also, in his Dialogue of Medals, has a figure of the rhinoceros,
with 1 horns on the nose. So has also the figure in the Praenestan pavement,
made by order of Sylla the dictator, on which he certainly designed to represent
several animals, and other remarkable things, proper to Africa.

Explanation of the Plates of the Rhinoceros. — Plate 18, fig. 5, is a side view
of the rhinoceros; fig. 6, a fore view of the rhinoceros, fore-shortened; fig. 7,
a back view of the same, fore-shortened.

PI. 19, fig. 1, two views of one of the feet; a, the upper part of the foot;
b, the sole of the foot. 2, The tail of an old rhinoceros, in the museum of the
Royal Society. 3, The penis in an erected state; a, the first theca or praeputium,
of a dark colour; b, the second theca, being flesh-coloured ; c the tubular glans
penis. 4, A horn of a rhinoceros, said to be 6 years old, being about 10 inches
long. 5, The bottom or concave basis of the same, to show the cavity is very
superficial. 6, A beautiful horn in Dr. Mead's museum, being about 37 inches
long. 7, The horn of a rhinoceros, in the museum of Sir Hans Sloane, which
(as those of oxen are sometimes liable to distortions in their growth) differs
from the common form; it is 32 inches long. 8, The double horn mentioned
above, belonging to Sir Hans Sloane; whether they crossed each other on the
animal, is uncertain ; it is most likely they did not, but that by drying they
were crossed by the corrugation of the skin that joins them together. The
straight horn is 25 inches long, the curved one somewhat shorter, and the two
diameters of the bases 13 inches. 9, The concave bottoms of the above
double horns, as they adhere to the same piece of skin.

yln jiccount of a Comparison lately made by some Gentlemen of the Royal So-
ciety, of the Standard of a Yard, and the several freights lately made for
their use; with the original Standards of Measures and fVeights in the
Exchequer, and some others kept for public use, at Guildhall, Founders' -hall,
the Tower, &c. By the Committee of the Royal Society. N° 470, p. 541.

When there were some time since prepared, by order of the Royal Society,


to be kept in their archives here, and also in those of the Royal Academy of
Sciences at Paris, standards of the yard measure, as also of the Troy and
Avoirdupois weights; an account of which was published in these Transactions,
N" 465; it was not the intention of the Society to determine what was the
absolute legal length of the yard, or the real and legal weight of the said several
pounds; but only to preserve, in those respective places, 2 measures, and 2 sets
of those weights, sufficiently near to what were in common use, and agreeing
with each other, for the purpose of comparing together, by a certain standard,
to which recourse might be had in either kingdom, the success of such exjje-
. riments made, either in England or in France, in which measure or weight
might particularly be concerned.

The gentlemen also of the Royal Academy of Sciences, took care to have
the length of their half toise set off on both the brass rods, on which the Eng-
lish yard had been already laid off, and provided 2 brass weights of 2 French
marcs each ; one of which was sent over hither, when one of the brass rods,
just mentioned, was again returned over to the Society. And it was the pro-
portion only between these several standards, that w.hs proposed to be laid down
in the said paper published in these Transactions ; without intending to ascertain
the just and legal proportions between the weights and measures of both na-
tions. Though it is not to be doubted, but that this measure of the French
half-toise, and the French 2 marc weight, are, like the English, sufficiently
agreeable to what are there constantly used.

But as some gentlemen have since wished to know, how far those standards
agreed with what are esteemed the original ones, in the Chamberlain's Office of
his Majesty's Exchequer, as well as with those kept for public use, at Guild-
hall, at Founders'-hall, with the Watchmakers' company, and in the Tower of
London, Mr. George Graham, F. R. S. was requested to take upon him the
comparison of the said several standards; which he has accordingly done, and
carefully viewed and examined the same at the Exchequer, in the presence of
the president of the Society, the Earl of Macclesfield, Lord Charles Cavendish,
John Hadley, Esq. William Jones, Esq. Peter Daval, Esq. and Cromwell
Mortimer, M. D. and at Guildhall, Founders'-hall, and the Tower, in the
presence of all the same persons, Mr. Daval only excepted, who happened to
be otherwise engaged that day.

Aiid as the council of the Society have now thought fit to direct an account
to be here published of these trials and experiments: we shall first begin with
the measure of the yard ; and then proceed to what concerns the several weights
of the Troy and Avoirdupois pounds.

The standards of length now used in the Exchequer, are 2 squared rods of

4u 2


brass, of the breadth and thickness of about half an inch ; the one called the
yard, and the other the ell. The ends of neither are exactly flat and parallel,
or, if they were so once, they have since suffered some bruise or damage, and
that possibly by the impressing near each end the seal of a crowned e; by
which it appears, they were placed here during the reign of Queen Elizabeth,
and probably at the same time when the several standard weights, hereafter
mentioned, were lodged here also.

To tiiese rods there belongs a substantial brass bar, of about the length of
•19 inches, the breadth of an inch and a half, and the thickness of an inch: on
one edge of this bar is a hollow bed or matrix, fitted to receive the square rod
of a yard: and on another, a like bed fitted to receive that of an ell; and into
these beds they usually fit the yard and ell measures brought to be examined
and sealed at this office. The square yard and ell rods fit sufficiently well into
these respective beds, so as neither to rub or shake very sensibly ; yet as neither
the ends of the rods, or of the hollow beds, are accurately flat and parallel, the
greatest lengths of those beds must, of necessity, be somewhat greater than
the greatest lengths of the rods intended to be placed in them: by which
greatest lengths of those rods, and which were considered by all the gentlemen
present, as the real and proper lengths of those rods, are meant the distances
of 1 parallel planes or cheeks, so placed as to touch the rods respectively at
both ends.

Besides all which, there also remains in this office an old 8-sided rod of
brass, of the thickness of about half an inch, very coarsely made, and as
rudely divided, into 3 feet, and one of those feet into 12 inches. This is
marked near each end with an old English J^ crowned; and is supposed to have
been the old standard of a yard, lodged there in the time of King Henry the
7th, and used as such, till the other above-mentioned, and now accounted the
standard, was made to supply its place.

Now, as the yard is from very old time mentioned in our acts of parliament,
as containing 3 feet, or 36 inches; and the ell is not therein particularly de-
scribed, though universally reputed equal to one yard and a quarter, or to 45
inches; we shall in the following comparison suppose, that the length of the
square brass yard rod, here kept, and marked with a crowned e, by that length
meaning, as above, its greatest length between two parallel planes., to be the
true and genuine length of the English yard, or of 3 English feet; and with
that length we shall compare the others here mentioned, expressing how much
they respectively exceed, or fall short of, this supposed standard measure.

To examine all which, Mr. Graham was provided with very exact and curious
beam-compasses of different sorts, and adapted to the several purposes they


were to be used for. One of these was by parallel cheeks intended for taking
the lengths of the standard rods above-mentioned to be kept in the Exchequer,
another was by rounded ends, one of which was moveable, designed to take
the lengths of such standards to consist of hollow beds or matrices, like those
already spoken of at the Exchequer, and the others, to be presently mentioned,
at Guildhall ; and a third beam-compass was fitted in the common way, with
fine points, for taking off, or laying down, such measures as are marked out
by the distance of points or lines, on any plane flat superficies. All which
compasses were severally so contrived, as to be lengthened by the turning of a
fine screw, one of whose revolutions answered accurately to the 40th part of
an inch, and to which there was applied an index, showing, on a small circular
plate with 20 divisions, the fractional part of a revolution; and on which the
place of the index might, by the eye,, be estimated to about the lOth part of a
division ; by which the motion of the moveable cheek, end, or point, might
consequently be judged of, to about the 8000th part of an inch.

But Mr. Graham, when he determined by these instruments, the following
particulars, desired it might be observed, that though the alterations of the
compasses were sensible to so small a quantity; it was not to be supposed that
the measures here taken with them, could be estimated to the same exactness.
The hand cannot judge with so much nicety, of the shake of a rod, when ap-
plied between the cheeks, or when let into one of the hollow beds or matrices
above-mentioned; neither can the eye, though assisted with a magnifying-glass,
pretend to see, with that accuracy, the place of the compass-points, when ap-
plied to the taking off a measure, set out by points or lines, on the plane sur-
face of a rod or rule. All he therefore thinks possible, and that he has found
he could several times together, under the same or like circumstances, be con-
sistent in, is to take such measures to about the l600th part of an inch.

We shall however, in what follows, give those measures as they actually did
come out, in revolutions, divisions, and lOths; all which are also, for the con-
venience of the reader, in a 2d column, reduced to the common decimals of
an inch ; and, in a 3d, to the vulgar fractions of the same.

It may further be noted, that the absolute quantity of all measures, anywise
inscribed on standards of metal, must, from the nature of things, vary with
the alterations in the heat or coldness of the weather; and, for that reason,
the exact proportion between any two standards, taken at difi^erent times, can-
not be expected to be found the same to the most perfect degree of exactness,
unless the temperature of the air shall at those different times have been the
same, or that a proper allowance has been made for the alteration of it. Yet,
in the present case, as all the several measures referred to, are inscribed on the


same metal, brass, as none of the differences we are concerned about are very
great, and as the change of the weather was not very considerable between the
days of trial; it has been thought this last consideration might safely be neg-
lected, in setting down the following particulars. Which are, that

The greatest length of the matrix of the yard measure, at the Exchequer,
exceeded the square standard yard by O rev, 8.'^ div. = . 0102 = -g^.Vs - — The
yard inscribed on the Royal Society's rod, exceeded the same by O rev. 6.0 div.
= .0075 = T-rT.T- — The old brass standard at the Exchequer marked with the
crowned J^, fell short of the same by O rev. 5.7 div. = .007 1 = -ti-b-.t- — The
standard ell rod, at the Exchequer, exceeded 45 inches, of such as the standard
yard contains 36, by 1 rev. 19.5 div. = .0494 = ■^]-^^.

At Guildhall, the standards of long measure there used, are only two beds,
or matrices, the one of a yard, and the other of an ell, cut out of two of the
edges of a substantial brass bar, much like that at the Exchequer, but not alto-
gether so thick ; which bar is sealed with the Exchequer seal, and marked at
both ends with c. r. crowned; and also, as it seems, with w. m. crowned in like
manner. But there are here no rods fitted to these beds; so that all that seemed
requisite and proper to be done, was to take both the greatest lengths of these
beds, and also the least lengths of the same ; the last being nearly the lengths
of such square rods as might be so fitted into the beds, as to go in every way
close, and without sensibly shaking; and, on taking the said measures, it ap-
peared, that

The greatest length of the yard bed, at Guildhall, exceeded the standard
yard, at the Exchequer, by 1 rev. 14.7 div. = .0434 = tt.Vt- — The least
length of the same bed, exceeded the said standard of a yard by 1 rev. 1 1 .7 div.
= .0396 = -rT.T- — The greatest length of the ell bed, at Guildhall, exceeded
45 Exchequer standard inches by 1 rev. 15.5 div. = .0444 = -j-J-. — The least
length of the same bed exceeded the same number of like inches by 1 rev. 0.7
div. = .0258 = W.T-

The standard of a yard, in the Tower of London, belongs to the Office of
Ordnance, and is kept in the drawing-room there; it is a solid brass rod, about
tIj. of an inch square, and about 41 inches long; on one side of which is laid
off the measure of a yard, divided into 3 feet, and each foot into 12 inches;
the first foot has the inches divided into lOths, the second into I2ths, and the
third into 8ths of an inch, and the first inch of all is divided into 100 parts,
by diagonal lines. This rod is said to have been provided by the late Mr.
Rowley ; it is sealed with the Exchequer seal, and two other seals of g. h.
crowned, near one of the ends, together with his Majesty's mark commonly
called the broad arrow. And the length of the yard, or of the 3 feet inscribed


on it, exceed the forementioned Exchequer standard of a yard, by O rev. 8.9
div. = .011 1 = -tV-

The standard yard, belonging to the Clockmaker's Company, was delivered
to ihein from the Exchequer, by indenture, the 4th of September, 23 Car. II.
A. D. 1671. It is a brass rod of eight sides, near half an inch in thickness,
sealed with the Exchequer Seal, and c. r. crowned, near each end ; and on
which the length of the yard is expressed, by the distance between two upright
pins, or small cheeks, filed away to their due quantity : this was procured by
Mr. Graham, to be brought to the president's house of the Royal Society, on
Saturday the 7 th of May last, where all the above-named Company then met,
to collate their respective notes of these several trials, all which were found to
agree with each other : at which last meeting, Mr. John Machin, of Gresham
College, the other Secretary of the Society, was present also : and the length
of this last yard measure was then tried, and found to fall short of the Exchequer
standard yard measure, now very carefully added on the middle line of the

Online LibraryRoyal Society (Great Britain)The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) → online text (page 81 of 85)