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successive doses of it to the face by wind, becomes, occasionally,
almost unbearable; indeed, I remember seeing the left cheek of nearly
twenty of our soldiers simultaneously frost-bitten in marching about a
hundred yards across a bleak open space, completely exposed to a strong
and bitterly cold north-west wind that was blowing upon us all.

The remedy for this intense cold, to which many Canadians and others
have occasionally recourse, is - at least to my feelings it always
appeared - infinitely worse than the disease. On entering, for instance,
the small parlour of a little inn, a number of strong, able-bodied
fellows are discovered holding their hands a few inches before their
faces, and sitting in silence immediately in front of a stove of such
excruciating power, that it really feels as if it would roast the very
eyes in their sockets; and yet, as one endures this agony, the back part
is as cold as if it belonged to what is called at home "Old Father
Christmas."

As a further instance of the climate, I may add, that several times,
while my mind was very warmly occupied in writing my despatches, I found
my pen full of a lump of stuff that appeared to be honey, but which
proved to be frozen ink; again, after washing in the morning, when I
took up some money that had lain all night on my table, I at first
fancied it had become sticky, until I discovered that the sensation was
caused by its freezing to my fingers, which, in consequence of my
ablutions, were not perfectly dry.

[Illustration: WINTER DRESS OF BRITISH TROOPS IN CANADA.]

Notwithstanding, however, this intensity of cold, the powerful
circulation of the blood of large quadrupeds keeps the red fluid, like
the movement of the waters in the great lakes, from freezing; but the
human frame not being gifted with this power, many people lose their
limbs, and occasionally their lives, from cold. I one day inquired of a
fine, ruddy, honest-looking man, who called upon me, and whose toes and
instep of each foot had been truncated, how the accident happened? He
told me that the first winter he came from England he lost his way in
the forest, and that after walking for some hours, feeling pain in his
feet, he took off his boots, and from the flesh immediately swelling, he
was unable to put them on again. His stockings, which were very old
ones, soon wore into holes; and as rising on his insteps he was
hurriedly proceeding he knew not where, he saw with alarm, but without
feeling the slightest pain, first one toe and then another break off, as
if they had been pieces of brittle stick, and in this mutilated state he
continued to advance till he reached a path which led him to an
inhabited log house, where he remained suffering great pain till his
cure was effected.

Although the sun, from the latitude, has considerable power, it appears
only to illuminate the sparkling snow, which, like the sugar on a bridal
cake, conceals the whole surface. The instant, however, the fire of
heaven sinks below the horizon, the cold descends from the upper regions
of the atmosphere with a feeling as if it were poured down upon the head
and shoulders from a jug.

SIR FRANCIS HEAD.

* * * * *




BALLOONS.


The idea of constructing a machine which should enable us to rise into
and sail through the air, seems often to have occupied the attention of
mankind, even from remote times, but it was never realised until within
the last sixty or seventy years. The first public ascent of a
fire-balloon in France, in 1783, led to an experiment on the part of
Joseph Mongolfier. He constructed a balloon of linen, lined with paper,
which, when inflated by means of burning chopped straw and coal, was
found to be capable of raising 500 pounds weight. It was inflated in
front of the Palace at Versailles, in the presence of the Royal family,
and a basket, containing a sheep, a duck, and a cock, was attached to
it. It was then liberated, and ascended to the height of 1500 feet. It
fell about two miles from Versailles; the animals were uninjured, and
the sheep was found quietly feeding near the place of its descent.

Monsieur Mongolfier then constructed one of superior strength, and a M.
de Rozier ventured to take his seat in the car and ascend three hundred
feet, the height allowed by the ropes, which were not cut. This same
person afterwards undertook an aerial voyage, descending in safety about
five miles from Paris, where the balloon ascended. But this enterprising
voyager in the air afterwards attempted to travel in a balloon with
sails. This was formed by a singular combination of balloons - one
inflated with hydrogen gas, and the other a fire-balloon. The latter,
however, catching fire, the whole apparatus fell from the height of
about three-quarters of a mile, with the mangled bodies of the voyagers
attached to the complicated machinery.

[Illustration: GREEN'S BALLOON, ASCENDING FROM VAUXHALL GARDENS.]

A Frenchman named Tester, in 1786, also made an excursion in a balloon
with sails; these sails or wings aided in carrying his balloon so high,
that when he had reached an elevation of 3000 feet, fearing his balloon
might burst, he descended into a corn-field in the plain of Montmorency.
An immense crowd ran eagerly to the spot; and the owner of the field,
angry at the injury his crop had sustained, demanded instant
indemnification. Tester offered no resistance, but persuaded the
peasants that, having lost his wings, he could not possibly escape. The
ropes were seized by a number of persons, who attempted to drag the
balloon towards the village; but as, during the procession, it had
acquired considerable buoyancy, Tester suddenly cut the cords, and,
rising in the air, left the disappointed peasants overwhelmed in
astonishment. After being out in a terrible thunder-storm, he descended
uninjured, about twelve hours from the time of his first ascent.

* * * * *




SIR THOMAS GRESHAM.


[Illustration: Letter A.]

Among the worthies of this country who, after a successful and
honourable employment of their talent in life, have generously consulted
the advantage of generations to come after them, few names appear more
conspicuous than that of Sir Thomas Gresham, the founder of Gresham
College, and of the Royal Exchange, London. He was born in that city
about the year 1518, the second son of Sir Richard Gresham, who served
the office of sheriff in 1531, and that of Lord Mayor in 1537. He
received a liberal education at the University, and is mentioned in high
terms as having distinguished himself at Cambridge, being styled "that
noble and most learned merchant." His father at this time held the
responsible position of King's merchant, and had the management of the
Royal monies at Antwerp, then the most important seat of commerce in
Europe; and when his son Sir Thomas succeeded him in this responsible
appointment, he not only established his fame as a merchant, but secured
universal respect and esteem. After the accession of Queen Elizabeth,
his good qualities attracted the peculiar notice of her Majesty, who was
pleased to bestow on him the honour of knighthood; and at this time he
built the noble house in Bishopsgate-street, which after his death was
converted to the purposes of a College of his own foundation.

In the year 1564, Sir Thomas made an offer to the Corporation of London,
that, if the City would give him a piece of ground, he would erect an
Exchange at his own expense; and thus relieve the merchants from their
present uncomfortable mode of transacting business in the open air. The
liberal offer being accepted, the building, which was afterwards
destroyed in the Great Fire of London, was speedily constructed, at a
very great expense, and ornamented with a number of statues. Nor did
Gresham's persevering benevolence stop here: though he had so much to
engross his time and attention, he still found leisure to consider the
claims of the destitute and aged, and in his endowment of eight
alms-houses with a comfortable allowance for as many decayed citizens of
London, displayed that excellent grace of charity which was his truest
ornament.

In person Sir Thomas was above the middle height, and handsome when a
young man, but he was rendered lame by a fall from his horse during one
of his journeys in Flanders. Sir Thomas Gresham's exemplary life
terminated suddenly on the 21st of November, 1579, after he had just
paid a visit to the noble building which he had so generously founded.

[Illustration: SIR THOMAS GRESHAM.]

* * * * *




ON THE ATTAINMENT OF KNOWLEDGE.


Let the enlargement of your knowledge be one constant view and design in
life; since there is no time or place, no transactions, occurrences, or
engagements in life, which exclude us from this method of improving the
mind. When we are alone, even in darkness and silence, we may converse
with our own hearts, observe the working of our own spirits, and reflect
upon the inward motions of our own passions in some of the latest
occurrences in life; we may acquaint ourselves with the powers and
properties, the tendencies and inclinations both of body and spirit, and
gain a more intimate knowledge of ourselves. When we are in company, we
may discover something more of human nature, of human passions and
follies, and of human affairs, vices and virtues, by conversing with
mankind, and observing their conduct. Nor is there any thing more
valuable than the knowledge of ourselves and the knowledge of men,
except it be the knowledge of God who made us, and our relation to Him
as our Governor.

When we are in the house or the city, wheresoever we turn our eyes, we
see the works of men; when we are abroad in the country, we behold more
of the works of God. The skies and the ground above and beneath us, and
the animal and vegetable world round about us, may entertain our
observation with ten thousand varieties.

Fetch down some knowledge from the clouds, the stars, the sun, the moon,
and the revolutions of all the planets. Dig and draw up some valuable
meditations from the depths of the earth, and search them through the
vast oceans of water. Extract some intellectual improvement from the
minerals and metals; from the wonders of nature among the vegetables and
herbs, trees and flowers. Learn some lessons from the birds and the
beasts, and the meanest insect. Read the wisdom of God, and his
admirable contrivance in them all: read his almighty power, his rich and
various goodness, in all the works of his hands.

From the day and the night, the hours and the flying minutes, learn a
wise improvement of time, and be watchful to seize every opportunity to
increase in knowledge.

From the vices and follies of others, observe what is hateful in them;
consider how such a practice looks in another person, and remember that
it looks as ill or worse in yourself. From the virtue of others, learn
something worthy of your imitation.

From the deformity, the distress, or calamity of others, derive lessons
of thankfulness to God, and hymns of grateful praise to your Creator,
Governor, and Benefactor, who has formed you in a better mould, and
guarded you from those evils. Learn also the sacred lesson of
contentment in your own estate, and compassion to your neighbour under
his miseries.

From your natural powers, sensations, judgment, memory, hands, feet,
&c., make this inference, that they were not given you for nothing, but
for some useful employment to the honour of your Maker, and for the good
of your fellow-creatures, as well as for your own best interest and
final happiness.

DR. WATTS.

* * * * *




THIBETAN SHEEP.


The enterprising traveller, Moorcroft, during his journey across the
vast chain of the Himalaya Mountains, in India, undertaken with the hope
of finding a passage across those mountains into Tartary, noticed, in
the district of Ladak, the peculiar race of sheep of which we give an
Engraving. Subsequent observations having confirmed his opinion as to
the quality of their flesh and wool, the Honourable East India Company
imported a flock, which were sent for a short time to the Gardens of the
Zoological Society, Regent's Park. They were then distributed among
those landed proprietors whose possessions are best adapted, by soil and
climate, for naturalising in the British Islands this beautiful variety
of the mountain sheep. The wool, the flesh, and the milk of the sheep
appear to have been very early appreciated as valuable products of the
animal: with us, indeed, the milk of the flock has given place to that
of the herd; but the two former still retain their importance. Soon
after the subjugation of Britain by the Romans, a woollen manufactory
was established at Winchester, situated in the midst of a district then,
as now, peculiarly suited to the short-woolled breed of sheep. So
successful was this manufacture, that British cloths were soon preferred
at Rome to those of any other part of the Empire, and were worn by the
most opulent on festive and ceremonial occasions. From that time
forward, the production of wool in this island, and the various
manufactures connected with it, have gone on increasing in importance,
until it has become one of the chief branches of our commerce.

[Illustration: THIBETAN SHEEP.]

* * * * *




NAVAL TACTICS.


[Illustration: Letter O.]

On being told the number and size of the sails which a vessel can carry
(that is to say, can sail with, without danger of being upset), the
uninitiated seldom fail to express much surprise. This is not so
striking in a three-decker, as in smaller vessels, because the hull of
the former stands very high out of the water, for the sake of its triple
rank of guns, and therefore bears a greater proportion to its canvas
than that of a frigate or a smaller vessel. The apparent inequality is
most obvious in the smallest vessels, as cutters: and of those kept for
pleasure, and therefore built for the purpose of sailing as fast as
possible, without reference to freight or load, there are many the hull
of which might be entirely wrapt up in the mainsail. It is of course
very rarely, if ever, that a vessel carries at one time all the sail she
is capable of; the different sails being usually employed according to
the circumstances of direction of wind and course. The sails of a ship,
when complete, are as follows: -

The lowermost sail of the mast, called thence the _mainsail_, or
_foresail_; the _topsail_, carried by the _topsail-yard_; the
_top-gallant-sail_; and above this there is also set a _royal_ sail, and
again above this, but only on emergencies, a sail significantly called a
_sky-sail_. Besides all this, the three lowermost of these are capable
of having their surface to be exposed to the wind increased by means of
_studding_ sails, which are narrow sails set on each side beyond the
regular one, by means of small _booms_ or yards, which can be slid out
so as to extend the lower yards and topsail-yards: the upper parts of
these additional sails hang from small yards suspended from the
principal ones, and the boom of the lower studding-sails is hooked on to
the chains. Thus each of the two principal masts, the fore and main, are
capable of bearing no less than thirteen distinct sails. If a ship could
be imagined as cut through by a plane, at right angles to the keel,
close to the mainmast, the _area_, or surface, of all the sails on this
would be five or six times as great as that of the section or profile of
the hull!

The starboard studding-sails are on the fore-mast, and on both sides of
the main-top-gallant and main-royal; but, in going nearly before a wind,
there is no advantage derived from the stay-sails, which, accordingly,
are not set. The flying-jib is to be set to assist in steadying the
motion.

The mizen-mast, instead of a lower square-sail like the two others, has
a sail like that of a cutter, lying in the plane of the keel, its bottom
stretched on a boom, which extends far over the taffarel, and the upper
edge carried by a _gaff_ or yard sloping upwards, supported by ropes
from the top of the mizen-mast.

All these sails, the sky-sails excepted, have four sides, as have also
the sprit-sails on the bowsprit, jib-boom, &c.; and all, except the sail
last mentioned on the mizen, usually lie across the ship, or in planes
forming considerable angles with the axis or central line of the ship.
There are a number of sails which lie in the same plane with the keel,
being attached to the various _stays_ of the masts; these are triangular
sails, and those are called _stay-sails_ which are between the masts:
those before the fore-mast, and connected with the bowsprit, are the
_fore stay-sail_, the _fore-topmast-stay-sail_, the _jib_, sometimes a
_flying jib_, and another called a _middle jib_, and there are two or
three others used occasionally. Thus it appears that there are no less
than fifty-three different sails, which are used at times, though, we
believe, seldom more than twenty are _set_ at one time, for it is
obviously useless to extend or set a sail, if the wind is prevented from
filling it by another which intercepts the current of air.

The higher the wind, the fewer the sails which a ship can carry; but as
a certain number, or rather quantity, of canvas is necessary in
different parts of the ship to allow of the vessel being steered, the
principal sails, that is, the _courses_ or lower sails, and the
top-sails, admit of being reduced in extent by what is termed _reefing_:
this is done by tying up the upper part of the sail to the yard by means
of rows of strings called _reef-points_ passing through the canvas; this
reduces the depth of the sail, while its width is unaltered on the yard,
which is therefore obliged to be lowered on the mast accordingly.

[Illustration: SHORTENING SAIL IN A STORM.]

[Illustration: PREPARING TO MAKE SAIL.]

[Illustration: LOOSED SAILS.]

Ships are principally distinguished as those called merchantmen, which
belong to individuals or companies, and are engaged in commerce; and
men-of-war, or the national ships, built for the purposes of war. The
latter receive their designation from the number of their decks, or of
the guns which they carry. The largest are termed ships of the line,
from their forming the line of battle when acting together in fleets;
and are divided into first-rates, second-rates, third-rates, &c.
First-rates include all those carrying 100 guns and upwards, with a
company of 850 men and upwards; second-rates mount 90 to 100 guns, and
so on, down to the sixth-rates; but some ships of less than 44 guns are
termed frigates.

[Illustration: TOP-GALLANT-SAILS HOME.]

[Illustration: SAIL ON THE STARBOARD TACK.]

[Illustration: REEFING TOPSAILS.]

[Illustration: DOUBLE-REEFED TOPSAILS.]

There are three principal masts in a complete ship: the first is the
main-mast, which stands in the centre of the ship; at a considerable
distance forward is the fore-mast; and at a less distance behind, the
mizen-mast. These masts, passing through the decks, are fixed firmly in
the keel. There are added to them other masts, which can be taken down
or raised - hoisted, as it is termed at sea - at pleasure: these are
called top-masts, and, according to the mast to which each is
attached - main, fore, or mizen-topmast. When the topmast is carried
still higher by the addition of a third, it receives the name of
top-gallant-mast. The yards are long poles of wood slung across the
masts, or attached to them by one end, and having fixed to them the
upper edge of the principal sails. They are named upon the same plan as
the masts; for example, the main-yard, the fore-top-sail-yard, and so
on. The bowsprit is a strong conical piece of timber, projecting from
the stem of a ship, and serving to support the fore-mast, and as a yard
or boom on which certain sails are moveable.

According as the wind blows from different points, in regard to the
course the ship is sailing, it is necessary that the direction of the
yards should be changed, so as to form different angles with the central
line or with the keel; this is effected by ropes brought from the ends
of the yards to the mast behind that to which these belong, and then,
passing through blocks, they come down to the deck: by pulling one of
these, the other being slackened, the yard is brought round to the
proper degree of inclination; this is termed bracing the yards, the
ropes being termed braces.


* * * * *




THE CHOICE OF HERCULES.


When Hercules was in that part of his youth in which it was natural for
him to consider what course of life he ought to pursue, he one day
retired into a desert, where the silence and solitude of the place very
much favoured his meditations. As he was musing on his present
condition, and very much perplexed in himself on the state of life he
should choose, he saw two women, of a larger stature than ordinary,
approaching towards him. One of them had a very noble air, and graceful
deportment; her beauty was natural and easy, her person clean and
unspotted, her eyes cast towards the ground with an agreeable reserve,
her motion and behaviour full of modesty, and her raiment as white as
snow. The other had a great deal of health and floridness in her
countenance, which she had helped with an artificial white and red; and
she endeavoured to appear more graceful than ordinary in her mien, by a
mixture of affectation in all her gestures. She had a wonderful
confidence and assurance in her looks, and all the variety of colours in
her dress, that she thought were the most proper to shew her complexion
to advantage. She cast her eyes upon herself, then turned them on those
that were present, to see how they liked her, and often looked on the
figure she made in her own shadow. Upon her nearer approach to Hercules,
she stepped before the other lady, who came forward with a regular,
composed carriage, and running up to him, accosted him after the
following manner: -

"My dear Hercules!" says she, "I find you are very much divided in your
thoughts upon the way of life that you ought to choose; be my friend,
and follow me; I will lead you into the possession of pleasure, and out
of the reach of pain, and remove you from all the noise and disquietude
of business. The affairs of either war or peace shall have no power to
disturb you. Your whole employment shall be to make your life easy, and
to entertain every sense with its proper gratifications. Sumptuous
tables, beds of roses, clouds of perfume, concerts of music, crowds of
beauties, are all in readiness to receive you. Come along with me into
this region of delights, this world of pleasure, and bid farewell for
ever to care, to pain, to business." Hercules, hearing the lady talk
after this manner, desired to know her name, to which she answered - "My
friends, and those who are well acquainted with me, call me Happiness;
but my enemies, and those who would injure my reputation, have given me
the name of Pleasure."

By this time the other lady was come up, who addressed herself to the
young hero in a very different manner: - "Hercules," says she, "I offer
myself to you because I know you are descended from the gods, and give
proofs of that descent by your love of virtue and application to the
studies proper for your age. This makes me hope you will gain, both for
yourself and me, an immortal reputation. But before I invite you into my
society and friendship, I will be open and sincere with you, and must
lay this down as an established truth, that there is nothing truly
valuable which can be purchased without pains and labour. The gods have
set a price upon every real and noble pleasure. If you would gain the
favour of the Deity, you must be at the pains of worshipping Him; if the
friendship of good men, you must study to oblige them; if you would be
honoured by your country, you must take care to serve it; in short, if
you would be eminent in war or peace, you must become master of all the
qualifications that can make you so. These are the only terms and
conditions upon which I can propose happiness."

The Goddess of Pleasure here broke in upon her discourse: - "You see,"
said she, "Hercules, by her own confession, the way to her pleasures is
long and difficult; whereas that which I propose is short and easy."

"Alas!" said the other lady, whose visage glowed with passion, made up
of scorn and pity, "what are the pleasures you propose? To eat before


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Online LibraryVariousThe Illustrated London Reading Book → online text (page 13 of 24)