The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 14, No. 404, December 12, 1829 online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 14, No. 404, December 12, 1829 → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

E-text prepared by Jonathan Ingram, Andy Jewell, David Garcia, and the
Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Note: Project Gutenberg also has an HTML version of this
file which includes the original illustrations.
See 11463-h.htm or


VOL. 14, NO. 404.] SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1829. [PRICE 2d.

* * * * *

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

[Illustration: The Royal Observatory, Greenwich.]

In the present _almanack season_, as it is technically called, the above
illustration of our pages may not be inappropriate or ill-timed,
inasmuch as it represents the spot whence all English astronomers make
their calculations.

The Observatory was built by Charles II., in the year 1675 - probably,
observes a recent writer, "with no better motive than to imitate Louis
XIV.," who had just completed the erection and endowment of an
observatory at Paris. The English Observatory was fortunately placed
under the direction of the celebrated Flamstead, whose name the hill, or
site of the building, still retains. He was appointed astronomer-royal
in 1676; but Charles (as in the case of the curious dial at Whitehall,
described by us a few weeks since[1]), neglected to complete what he had
so well begun: and Flamstead entered upon the duties of his appointment
with instruments principally provided _at his own expense_, and that
of a zealous patron of science, James Moore. It should seem that this
species of parsimony is hereditary in the English Government, for, upon
the authority of the _Quarterly Review_, we learn that "within the
wide range of the British Islands _there is only one observatory_
(Greenwich), _and scarcely one supported by the Government_. We say
scarcely one, because we believe that some of the instruments in the
observatory at Greenwich were purchased out of the private funds of the
Royal Society of London."[2]

[1] For this very accurate Description with an Engraving, see
MIRROR, No. 400.

[2] For the remainder of the Extract, &c. see MIRROR, vol. xii.
p. 151. Only a few days since we saw recorded an instance of
enthusiasm in the study of astronomy, which will never be
forgotten. We allude to Mr. South's splendid purchase at Paris;
yet all the aid he received was some trifling remission of duty!

The first stone of this Observatory was laid by Flamstead, on the 10th
of August, 1675. It stands 160 feet above low-water mark, and
principally consists of two separate buildings: the first contains three
rooms on the ground-floor - viz. the transit-room, towards the east, the
quadrant-room, towards the west, and the assistant's sitting and
calculating-room, in the middle; above which is his bed-room, the latter
being furnished with sliding shutters in the roof. In the transit-room
is an eight-feet transit-instrument, with an axis of three feet, resting
on two piers of stone: this was made by Bird, but has been much improved
by Dolland, Troughton, and others. Near it is a curious transit-clock,
made by Graham, but greatly improved by Earnshaw, who so simplified the
train as to exclude two or three wheels, and also added cross-braces to
the gridiron-pendulum, by which an error of a second per day, arising
from its sudden starts, was corrected. The quadrant-room has a stone
pier in the middle, running north and south, having on its east face a
mural-quadrant, of eight feet radius, made by Bird, in 1749, by which
observations are made on the southern quarter of the meridian, through
an opening in the roof three feet wide, produced by means of two sliding
shutters; on its west face is another eight-feet mural quadrant, with an
iron frame, and an arch of brass, made by Graham, in 1725: this is
applied to the north quarter of the meridian. In the same apartment is
the famous zenith-sector, twelve feet in length, with which Dr. Bradley,
at Wanstead, and at Kew, made those observations which led to the
discovery of the aberration and nutation: here also is Dr. Hooke's
reflecting telescope, and three telescopes by Harrison. On the south
side of this room is a small building, for observing the eclipses of
Jupiter's satellites, occultations, &c., with sliding shutters at the
roof and sides, to view any portion of the hemisphere, from the prime
verticle down to the southern horizon: this contains a forty-inch
achromatic, by the inventor, Mr. John Dolland, with a triple
object-glass, a most perfect instrument of its kind; and a five-feet
achromatic, by John and Peter Dolland, his sons. Here, likewise, are a
two-feet reflecting-telescope (the metals of which were ground by the
Rev. Mr. Edwards), and a six-feet reflector, by Dr. Herschell.

The lower part of the house serves merely for a habitation; but above is
a large octagonal room, which, being now seldom wanted for astronomical
purposes, is used as a repository for such instruments as are too large
to be generally employed in the apartments first described, or for old
instruments, which modern improvements have superseded. Among the former
is a most excellent ten-feet achromatic, by the present Mr. Dolland, and
a six-feet reflector, by Short, with a clock to be used with them. In
the latter class, besides many curious and original articles, which are
deposited in boxes and cupboards, is the first transit instrument that
was, probably, ever made, having the telescope near one end of the axis;
and two long telescopes with square wooden tubes, of very ancient date.
Here, likewise, is the library, which is stored with scarce and curious
old astronomical works, including Dr. Halley's original observations,
and Captain Cook's Journals. Good busts of Flamstead and Newton, on
pedestals, ornament this apartment; and in one corner is a dark narrow
staircase, leading to the leads above, whence the prospect is uncommonly
grand; and to render the pleasure more complete, there is, in the
western turret, a _camera obscura_, of unrivalled excellence, by which
all the surrounding objects, both movable and immovable, are beautifully
represented in their own natural colours, on a concave table of plaster
of Paris, about three feet in diameter.

On the north side of the Observatory are two small buildings, covered
with hemispherical sliding domes, in each of which is an equatorial
sector, made by Sisson, and a clock, by Arnold, with a three-barred
pendulum, which are seldom used but for observing comets. The celebrated
_Dry-well_, which was made to observe the earth's annual parallax, and
for seeing the stars in the day-time, is situated near the south-east
corner of the garden, behind the Observatory, but has been arched over,
the great improvements in telescopes having long rendered it unnecesary.
It contains a stone staircase, winding from the top to the bottom.

The Rev. John Flamstead, Dr. Halley, Dr. Bradley, Dr. Bliss, Dr. Nev.
Maskelyne, and John Pond, Esq. have been the successive
astronomers-royal since the foundation of this edifice.

* * * * *


(_For the Mirror_.)

The most extraordinary instance of this kind on record is that of the
united twins, born at Saxony, in Hungary, in 1701; and publicly
exhibited in many parts of Europe, among others in England, and living
till 1723. They were joined at the back, below the loins, and had their
faces and bodies placed half side-ways towards each other. They were
not equally strong nor well made, and the most powerful, (for they had
separate wills) dragged the other after her, when she wanted to go any
where. At six years, one had a paralytic affection of the left side,
which left her much weaker than the other. There was a great difference
in their functions and health. They had different temperaments; when one
was asleep the other was often awake; one had a desire for food when the
other had not, &c. They had the small pox and measles at one and the
same time, but other disorders separately. Judith was often convulsed,
while Helen remained free from indisposition; one of them had a catarrh
and a cholic, while the other was well. Their intellectual powers were
different; they were brisk, merry, and well bred; they could read,
write, and sing, very prettily; could speak several languages, as
Hungarian, German, French, and English. They died together, and were
buried in the Convent of the Nuns of St. Ursula, at Presburgh.


* * * * *


_Catullus, Carmen 3_.

(_For the Mirror_.)

Oh, mourn ye deities of love.
And ye whose minds distress can move,
Bewail a Sparrow's fate;
The Sparrow, favourite of my fair,
Fond object of her tend'rest care,
Her loss indeed how great.

For so affectionate it grew,
And its delighted mistress knew
As well as she her mother;
Nor would it e'er her lap forsake,
But hopping round about would make
Some sportive trick or other.

It now that gloomy road has pass'd.
That road which all must go at last,
From whence there's no retreat;
But evil to you, shades of death,
For having thus deprived of breath
A favourite so sweet.

Oh, shameful deed! oh, hapless bird!
My charmer, since its death occurr'd,
So many tears has shed,
That her dear eyes, through pain and grief,
And woe, admitting no relief,
Alas, are swoln and red.


* * * * *


* * * * *


(_For the Mirror_.)

The following explanation of a few of the terms employed to designate
parts of Gothic architecture, may, perhaps, prove acceptable to some of
your readers. Having felt the need of such assistance in the course of
my own reading, &c. &c. - I extracted them from an expensive work on the
subject, and have only to lament that my vocabulary should be so

_Buttresses_. - Projections between the windows and at the corners.

_Corbel_. - An ornamental projection from the wall to support an arch,
niche, beam, or other apparent weight. It is often a head or part of a

_Bands_. - Either small strings around shafts, or horizontal lines of
square, round, and other formed panels, used to ornament spires, towers,
and similar works.

_Cornice_. - The tablet at the top of a wall, running under the
battlement. It becomes a

_Basement_ when at the bottom of it, and beneath this the wall is
generally thicker.

_Battlement_. - It may be indented or plain; sunk, panelled, or pierced.

_Crockets_. - Small bunches of foliage, ornamenting canopies and

_Canopies_. - Adorned drip-stones. - _Vide_ Dripstone.

_Crypts_. - Vaulted chapels under some large churches, and a few small

_Crisps_. - Small arches; sometimes _double-feathered_, and according to
the number of them in immediate connexion; they are termed _tre_-foils,
_quatre_-foils, _cinque_-foils, &c.

_Dripstone_. - The tablet running round doors and windows.

_Featherings_ or _Foliations_. - Parts of tracery ornamented with small
arches and points, are termed _Feathered_, or _Foliated_.

_Finials_. - Large crockets surmounting canopies and pinnacles. This term
is frequently applied to the whole pinnacle.

_Machicolations_. - Projecting battlements, with intervals for
discharging missiles on the heads of assailants.

_Mullions_. - By these, windows are divided into lights.

_Parapet_. - When walls are crowned with a parapet, it is straight at the

_Pinnacle_. - A small spire, generally four-sided, and placed on the top
of buttresses, &c., both exterior and interior.

_Piers_. - Spaces in the interior of a building between the arches.

_Rood Loft_. - In ancient churches, not collegiate, a screen between the
nave and chancel was so called, which had on the top of it a large
projection, whereon were placed certain images, especially those which
composed the rood.

_Set-offs_. - The mouldings and slopes dividing buttresses into stages.

_Spandrells_. - Spaces, either plain or ornamented, between an arch and
the square formed round it.

_Stoups_. - The basins in niches, which held holy water. Near the altar
in old churches, or where the altar has been, is sometimes found another
niche, distinguished from the _stoup_, by having in it at the bottom,
a small aperture for carrying off the water; it is often double with a
place for bread.

_Tabernacle-work_. - Ornamented open work over stalls; and generally any
minute ornamental open-work.

_Tablets_. - Small projecting mouldings or strings, mostly horizontal.

_Tracery_. - Ornaments of the division at the heads of windows.
_Flowing_, when the lines branch out into flowers, leaves, arches, &c.
_Perpendicular_, when the mullions are continued through the straight

_Transoms_. - The horizontal divisions of windows and panelling.

_Turrets_. - Towers of great height in proportion to their diameter are
so called. Large towers have often turrets at their corners; often one
larger than the other, containing a staircase; and sometimes they have
only that one.


_The Norman_ - Commenced before the conquest, and continued until the
reign of Henry II. A.D., 1189. It is characterized by semicircular, and
sometimes pointed, arches, rudely ornamented.

_Early English_. - This style lasted until the reign of Edward I., A.D.
1307. Its characteristics are, pointed arches, long narrow windows, and
the jagged or toothed ornament.

_Decorated English_ - Lasted to the end of Edward III., A.D. 1377. It is
characterized by large windows with pointed arches divided into many
lights by mullions. The tracery of this style is in flowing lines,
forming figures. It has many ornaments, light and delicately wrought.

_Perpendicular English_. - This last style employed latterly only in
additions, was in use, though much debased, even as late as 1630-40.
The latest whole building in it, is not later than Henry VIII. Its
characteristics are the mullions of the windows, and ornamental
panelings, run in perpendicular lines; and many buildings in this style
are so crowded with ornament, that the beauty of the style is destroyed.
The carvings of it are delicately executed.


* * * * *


* * * * *


_A lost leaf from the Arabian Nights_.

(_For the Mirror_.)

In the days of Caliph Haroun Alraschid, the neighbourhood of Bagdad was
infested by a clan of banditti, known by the name of the "Ranger Band."
Their rendezvous was known to be the forests and mountains; but their
immediate retreat was a mystery time had not divulged.

That they were valiant, the intrepidity with which they attacked in the
glare of noonday would demonstrate; that they were numerous, the many
robberies carried on in the different parts of the Caliph's dominions
would indicate; and that they were bloody, their invariable practice of
killing their victim before they plundered him would argue. They had
sworn by their Prophet never to betray one another, and by the Angel of
Death to shed their blood in each other's defence. No wonder, then, that
they were so difficult to be captured; and when taken, no tortures or
promises of reward could extract from them any information as to the
retreat of their comrades.

One day, as Giafar, the Vizier, and favourite of the Caliph, was walking
alone in a public garden of the city, a stranger appeared, who, after
prostrating himself before the second man in the empire, addressed him
in these words: "High and mighty Vizier of Alraschid, Lord of the realms
of Alla upon earth, whose delegate and vicegerent he is, hear the
humblest of the sons of men - Vizier, hear me!"

"Speak, son," said the Vizier, "I am patient."

"And," continued the stranger, "what I have to communicate, be pleased
to transmit to our gracious and well-beloved Caliph."

"Let me hear thy suit - it may be in my power to assist you," replied the

"The beauteous Ada is in the clutches of ruffians," responded the
stranger; "and" -

"Well," said the Vizier, "proceed."

"To be brief, the forest bandit snatched her from my arms - we were
betrothed. I have applied to a mighty enchanter, the Genius of the Dale,
who tells me she is still living, and in the cavern of the bandit - that
her beauty and innocence melted the hearts of robbers, and that were
they not afraid of their haunt being discovered, they would have
restored her to liberty; but where that cavern is was beyond his power
to tell. However, he has informed me how I may demand and obtain the
assistance of a much more powerful enchanter than himself; but that
genius being the help of Muloch, the Spirit of the Mountain, I need the
aid of the Caliph himself. May it please the highness of mighty Giafar
to bend before the majesty of the Sovereign of the East, and supplicate
in behalf of thy servant Abad."

"How," said the Vizier, "can the Caliph be of service to thee?"

"It is requisite," replied the stranger, "that my hand be stained with
the blood of the Caliph, before I summon this most mighty fiend!" -

"How!" cried the astonished Vizier, "would'st thou shed the blood of our
beloved master? - No, by Alla!" -

"Pardon me," rejoined the stranger, interrupting him, "and Heaven avert
that any thought of harm against the father of his people should warm
the breast of Abad; I wish only to anoint my finger with as much of his
precious blood as would hide the point of the finest needle; and should
this most inestimable favour be conferred upon me, I undertake, under
pain of suffering all the tortures that human ingenuity can devise, or
devilish vengeance inflict, to exterminate the hated race of banditti
who now infest the forests of the East."

"Son," said the aged Vizier, "I will plead thy cause; meet me here on
the morrow, and in the mean time consider thy request as granted."

"Father, I take my leave; and may the Guardian of the Good shower down
a thousand blessings on thy head!"

Abad made a profound obeisance to the Vizier, and they separated: the
latter to conduct the affairs of the state, and the former to toil
through the more menial labours of the day.

Morning came; Abad was at the appointed spot before sunrise, and waited
with impatience for the expected hour when the Vizier was to arrive.
The Vizier was punctual; and with him, in a plain habit, was the Caliph
himself, who underwent the operation of having blood drawn from him by
the hand of Abad.

At midnight, Abad, as he had been directed by the Genius of the Dale,
went to the cave of the Spirit of the Mountain. He was alone! It was
pitchy dark; the winds howled through the thick foliage of the forest;
the owls shrieked, and the wolves bayed; the loneliness of the place was
calculated to inspire terror! and the idea of meeting such a personage,
at such an hour, did not contribute to the removal of that terror! He
trembled most violently. At length, summoning up courage he entered the
mystic cell, and commenced challenging the assistance of the Spirit of
the Mountain in the following words:

"In the name of the Genius of the Dale I conjure you! by our holy
Prophet I command you! by the darkness of this murky night I entreat
you! and by the blood of a Caliph, shed by this weak arm, I allure you,
most potent Muloch, to appear! Muloch rise! help! appear!"

At this instant the monster appeared, in the form of a human being of
gigantic stature and proportions, having a fierce aspect, large, dark,
rolling eyes, bushy eyebrows, and a thick black beard - attired in the
habit of a blacksmith! He bore a huge hammer in his right hand, and in
his left he carried a pair of pincers, in which was grasped a piece of
shapeless metal. His eyes flashed with indignation as he flourished the
ponderous hammer over his head, as though it had been a small
sword - when, striking the metal he held in the forceps, a round,
well-formed shield fell from the stroke.

"Mortal!" vociferated the enchanter, in a voice of thunder, "there is
thy weapon and defence!" - flinging the weighty hammer on the ample
shield, the collision of which produced a sound in unison with the deep
bass of Muloch's voice; nor did the reverberation that succeeded cease
to ring in the ears of Abad until several minutes after the spectre had

Abad rejoiced when the fearful visit was over, and, well pleased with
his success, was preparing to depart; but his joy was damped on finding
the hammer so heavy that he could not, without difficulty, remove it
from off the shield. He left it in the cave, and returned with the
shield only, comforting himself that however he might be at a loss for
a weapon, he had a shield that would render him invincible.

His next care was to discover the retreat of the robbers, otherwise he
was waging a war with shadows. After making every inquiry, and wandering
in vain for several months in quest of them, he was not able to obtain
a glimpse of the objects of his search. Still they seemed to possess
ubiquity. Their depredations continued, murders multiplied, and their
attacks became more open and formidable. Missions were sent daily to
the royal city from the emirs and governors of provinces residing at a
distance with the most lamentable accounts, and soldiers were dispatched
in large bodies to scour the country, but all was of no avail.

Abad had almost abandoned himself to despair, when, one lovely evening,
as he wandered along the banks of the Tigris, he observed a boat, laden
with armed men, sailing rapidly down the river. "These must be a party
of the ranger band. Oh, Mahomet!" said he, prostrating himself on the
earth, "be thou my guide!" At length the crew landed on the opposite
shore, which was a continued series of crags, and fastening a chain
attached to the boat to a staple driven into the rock, under the surface
of the water, they suffered the vessel to float with the stream beneath
the overhanging rocks, which afforded a convenient shelter and hiding
place for it, as it was impossible for any one passing up or down the
river to notice it.

Having landed, the party ascended the acclivity, when, suddenly halting
and looking round, to ascertain that they were not observed, they
removed a large rolling stone that blockaded the entrance, and went into
what appeared a natural cavern, then closing the inlet. Not a vestige of
them remained in sight, and nature seemed to reign alone amidst the
sublimest of her works.

Hope again glowed in the breast of Abad; he soon found means for
crossing the stream, and marched boldly to the very entrance of the
robber's cave, and with all his might attempted to roll the stone from
its axis. But here he was again doomed to disappointment: without the
possession of the talisman, kept by the captain of the band, he might
as well have attempted to roll the mountain on which he stood into the
water beneath, as to have shifted the massy portal: the strength of ten
thousand men, could their united efforts have been made available at one
and the same time, would not have been sufficient even to stir it.

Abad was returning, disappointed and murmuring at his fate, when
he bethought himself of the hammer which Muloch, the Spirit of the
Mountain, had promised should be of such powerful aid. He hastened to
the place where he had left the large instrument, and the next day
brought it to the robbers' cave. He was in the act of lifting the
massive weight, to have shattered the adamantine stoppage, when he
was surprised by a noise behind him. He looked, and saw the banditti
trooping up the ravine: they were returning, on horseback, from an
expedition of plunder, laden with conquest. Abad hastily, to avoid
discovery, struck the large stone with the charmed hammer, when it
receded from the blow and, admitting him into the cave, closed itself
upon him. The bandit chief, on seeing a stranger enter, ordered his men
to advance rapidly up the ravine, which leads from the waters of the
Tigris to the very threshold of the cave, embosomed amidst gigantic and
stately rocks.

The captain in vain applied the magic talisman to the charmed stone; the
more potent shield of Muloch was within. Enraged at being thus thwarted,
he demanded admittance. Abad made no reply, but, raising the enchanted

1 3 4

Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 14, No. 404, December 12, 1829 → online text (page 1 of 4)