A Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery
by Benziger Brothers
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Who were the Saracens?

A Mahommedan nation, occupying a portion of what is now called Arabia. They extended their conquests over a large portion of Asia, northern Africa, and Spain. Their name is derived from the word Sara, a desert.

What effect had the Fall of the Roman Empire on Navigation?

The fall of the Roman empire not only drew along with it its learning and the polite arts, but also the art of navigation; the Barbarians, into whose hands the empire fell, contenting themselves with enjoying the spoils of those whom they had conquered, without seeking to follow their example in the cultivation of those arts and that learning which had rendered Rome and its empire so famous.

What other people, about this period, distinguished themselves in the art of Navigation?

The Saracens or Arabians, whose fleets now rode triumphant in the Mediterranean; they had taken possession of Cyprus, Rhodes, and many of the Grecian islands, and extended their commerce and their discoveries in the East, far beyond the utmost knowledge of their ancestors.

What other circumstance also prevented commercial intercourse from ceasing altogether?

Constantinople, though often threatened by the fierce invaders, who spread desolation over Europe, was so fortunate as to escape their destructive rage. In this city, the knowledge of ancient arts and discoveries was preserved; and commerce continued to flourish there, when it was almost extinct in every other part of Europe.

Desolation, destruction, ruin.

Did the citizens of Constantinople confine their trade to the Islands of the Archipelago, and the adjacent coast of Asia?

No, they took a wider range; and, following the course which the ancients had marked out, imported the productions of the East Indies from Alexandria. When Egypt was torn from the Roman Empire by the Arabians, the industry of the Greeks discovered a new channel by which the productions of India might be conveyed to Constantinople.

Did not the Barbarians, after a while, turn their attention to Navigation and Commerce?

No sooner were the brave among these nations well settled in their new provinces—some in Gaul, as the Franks; others in Spain, as the Goths; and others in Italy, as the Lombards,—than they began to learn the advantages of these arts, and the proper methods of managing them, from the people they had subdued; and that with so much success, that they even improved upon them, and set on foot new institutions for their advantage. To the Lombards, in particular, is usually ascribed the invention and use of banks, book-keeping, and exchanges. Thus the people of Italy, and particularly those of Venice and Genoa, have the glory of restoring to Europe the advantages that had been destroyed by their own ravages.

Institutions, laws, regulations.

Exchange, a species of mercantile transactions by which the debts due to persons at a distance are paid by order, draft, or bill of exchange, without the transmission either of money or goods.

Who were the Franks?

A people who settled in Gaul; from them it took the name of Franconia, or France.

Who were the Goths?

An ancient people, who inhabited that part of Sweden called Gothland; and afterwards spread themselves over great part of Europe.

Who were the Lombards?

The Lombards, or Longobardi, were, like the Franks, a nation of Germany; who, upon the decline of the Roman Empire, invaded Italy, and, taking the city of Ravenna, erected a kingdom.

Where is Ravenna?

In Central Italy. It is the capital of a province of the same name; it is an ancient town, and the see of an archbishop.

See, the seat of episcopal power; the diocese of a bishop.

Episcopal, belonging to a bishop.

Archbishop, the presiding bishop of a province.

What was the origin of the city of Venice?

In the Adriatic Sea were a great number of marshy islands, separated only by narrow channels, but well screened and almost inaccessible, inhabited by a few fishermen. To these islands the people of Veneti (a part of Italy, situated along the coasts of the gulf,) retired when Alaric, King of the Goths, ravaged Italy. These new Islanders, little imagining that this was to be their fixed residence, did not, at first, think of forming themselves into one community, but each of the 72 islands continued a long while under its respective masters, and formed a distinct commonwealth.

Adriatic Sea, a name given to the Gulf of Venice.

Commonwealth, a republic, a government in which the supreme power is lodged in the people.

What circumstance caused them to unite?

Their commerce becoming considerable enough to awaken the jealousy of their neighbors, they united in a body for their mutual protection: this union, first begun in the 6th century and completed in the 8th, laid the foundation of the future grandeur of the state of Venice. From the time of this union, fleets of their merchantmen sailed to all the ports of the Mediterranean; and afterwards to those of Egypt, particularly to Cairo, a new city, built by the Saracen princes, on the banks of the Nile, where they traded for spices, &c. The Venetians continued to increase their trade by sea and their conquests on land till 1508, when a number of jealous princes conspired against them to their ruin; which was the more easily effected in consequence of their East Indian commerce, of which the Portuguese and French had each obtained a share.

Conspired, united together in a plot.

What is the signification of Mediterranean?

Inclosed within land, or remote from the ocean. It is more particularly used to signify the sea which flows between Europe and Africa.

Had not Venice a formidable rival in a neighboring republic?

Genoa, which had applied itself to navigation at the same time with Venice, and with equal success, was long its dangerous rival, disputed with it the empire of the sea, and shared with it the trade of Egypt, and other parts, both of the East and West. Jealousy soon broke out; and, the two republics coming to blows, there was almost continual war between them for three centuries: at length, towards the end of the 14th century, the strife was ended by the fatal battle of Chioza; the Genoese, who till then had usually the advantage, lost all, and the Venetians, almost become desperate, at one decisive blow, beyond all expectation, secured the empire of the sea and their superiority in commerce.

Decisive, final, conclusive.

Where is Genoa situated?

In the north-western part of Italy. It was formerly a flourishing republic, but belongs now to Italy.

What event likewise contributed to the more rapid progress and diffusion of Navigation and Commerce?

The Crusades: for the Genoese, Pisans, and Venetians, furnished the fleets which carried those vast armies, composed of all the nations of Europe, into Asia, upon this wild undertaking, and also supplied them with provisions and military stores. Other travellers, also, besides those whom religious zeal sent forth to visit Asia, ventured into remote countries, from motives either of commercial advantage, or those of mere curiosity.

Zeal, devotion, enthusiasm.

Who were the Pisans?

Inhabitants of Pisa, an ancient town of Tuscany; it was once a great independent republic, and is still adorned with noble edifices. Pisa has long been celebrated for its remarkable leaning tower. Tuscany is a beautiful and fruitful territory of Italy; its capital, until the year 1859, was Florence.

What were the Crusades?

Holy wars, or expeditions, undertaken by the Christians against the Turks and Saracens, to recover Palestine, between the years 1100 and 1400.

What causes led to these wars?

Many circumstances contributed to give rise to them. They were undertaken, first, with a view to protecting the devout Christian pilgrims, who were in the habit of frequenting the venerable places where our Saviour had lived, taught, suffered, and triumphed, from the fury and avarice of the heathens; secondly, with a view to getting possession of the Holy Land itself, and of annexing it to Christendom; and thirdly, to break down the power of Mohammedanism, and to elevate the Cross in triumph and victory over Palestine.

Avarice, an excessive desire of gain.

Annexing, adding, joining.

What badge or sign was worn by those who engaged in the Crusades?

They distinguished themselves by crosses of different colors, worn on their clothes; from which they took the name of Croises, or Cross-bearers; each nation wore different colors: for instance, the English had white crosses, the French red, and so on.

To what invention is the art of Navigation much indebted?

To that of the Mariner's Compass, in the beginning of the 14th century; and from this period may be dated the present perfection of this useful art.

You have given me an account of the restoration of Navigation in Southern Europe: did not the inhabitants of the North also turn their attention to it?

Yes: about the same time, a new society of merchants was formed in the northern parts, which not only carried commerce to the greatest perfection of which it was capable, till the discovery of the Indies, but also formed new codes of useful laws for its regulation.

Codes, books or writings setting forth certain laws or rules respecting particular subjects; books of civil laws.

Are Navigation and Commerce inseparably connected with each other?

It may be considered as a general maxim, that their union is so intimate, that the fall of one inevitably draws after it that of the other; and that they will always either flourish or decline together may be seen, by examining the reason of their passing successively from the Venetians, Genoese, &c., to the Portuguese and Spaniards, and from them to the English, Dutch, &c.

Maxim, rule, an established principle.

Intimate, close.

Inevitably, without possibility of escape, unavoidably.



What are the earliest accounts of Musical Instruments on record?

The earliest accounts of music which we possess are to be found in the Bible, in which the state of the world before the flood is noticed. Jubal is said to have been "the father of them that play upon the harp and organ;" but it is not to be supposed that these instruments at all resembled the harp and organ of modern times. Musical instruments, in the times of David and Solomon, were used in religious services; and music was certainly employed by the Jews on many other occasions, as at funerals and weddings, at harvest home, and at festivals of all kinds.

Modern, opposed to ancient, pertaining to the present time, or time not long past.

Festival, a rejoicing, a feast, a season dedicated to mirth.

What nation was particularly celebrated for musical talents?

The ancient Egyptians; who were so celebrated for their talents in music, that the distinguished philosophers of Greece braved many dangers, in order to study the science in Egypt; and this, at a period when the Egyptians were far from being in the same high state of civilization as their forefathers had been in earlier times. The history and monuments of ancient Egypt have many accounts and representations of musical instruments, and remains of these have lately been discovered, so that we have ocular demonstration both of their existence and form.

Civilization, freedom from barbarity, polish, politeness, possession of knowledge and the arts of life.

Ocular, known or seen by the eye.

Demonstration, the act of proving with certainty.

In how many divisions may musical instruments be arranged?

There are three kinds, namely, wind instruments, as the trumpet, and the organ;—stringed instruments, as the harp or lyre, violin, &c.; and instruments of concussion, in which the sound is produced by striking a sonorous body, as for instance the drum, bells, &c.

Which of these three kinds was the first invented?

It is impossible, at the present day, to decide which; but it is most probable that instruments with strings were the last invented of the three kinds; and it is most likely, that of those in which sound is produced by the application of wind, the trumpet or horn was first used. This instrument, in its rudest form, was ready fashioned to the hand of man; the horn of a ram or of an ox, or some of the larger kinds of sea-shells, were soon discovered to possess the power of producing sound, by being blown into through a small hole at the pointed end.

What improvement in this instrument would naturally follow?

Mankind having discovered the property possessed by a hollow tube of producing a certain sound, soon found that the note varied according to the length and capacity of the tube. A much greater improvement soon after took place; it was discovered that one tube answered the purpose of many by boring holes in the course of its length, and producing various musical sounds by stopping with the fingers certain of these holes. Most of our modern wind instruments are but improvements on the ancient inventions.

Tube, a pipe; a long hollow body.

Was not Vocal Music used before the invention of Instrumental?

Vocal music, namely, that produced by the human voice, (so called to distinguish it from instrumental, that produced by instruments,) was undoubtedly the first: for man had not only the various tones of his own voice to make his observations on, before any art or instrument was found out; but the various natural strains of birds to give him a lesson in improving it, and in modulating the sounds of which it is capable.

Modulating, forming sound to a certain key.

To what circumstance did an ancient poet ascribe the invention of stringed instruments?

To the observation of the winds whistling in the hollow reeds. As for other kinds of instruments, there were so many occasions for cords or strings, that men were not long in observing their various sounds, which might give rise to stringed instruments. Those of concussion, as drums and cymbals, might result from the observation of the naturally hollow noise made by concave bodies when struck.

What are the most ancient stringed instruments?

The most ancient instruments of this kind, whose form is known, are those of the ancient Egyptians; among these the harp stands pre-eminent. One of the most celebrated representations of an Egyptian harp was drawn from a painting discovered in one of the caverns in the mountains of Egyptian Thebes, by some travellers: it is called the Theban harp, and has thirteen strings; its form is extremely elegant. This harp is supposed to be one of the kind in use before and at the time of Sesostris. Remains of Egyptian harps of a more simple construction, with only four strings, have likewise been discovered. Among the monuments of ancient Rome, there are representations of stringed instruments resembling the harp, but not equal in beauty of form to the famous Egyptian harp already mentioned.

Pre-eminent, surpassing others.

Who was Sesostris?

A King of Egypt, who is said to have reigned some ages before the siege of Troy. He appears to have been celebrated for his conquests, and for the number of edifices he erected to perpetuate his fame.

Perpetuate, to preserve from extinction; to continue the memory of a person or event.

Where was Troy?

Troy, anciently called Ilium, was the capital of Troas, in Asia. It became famous for the ten years' siege it sustained against the Greeks; the history of this event is commemorated in the poems of Homer and Virgil.

Is not the harp an instrument of high antiquity in Great Britain?

Yes: it was a favorite instrument with the ancient Saxons in Great Britain. The celebrated Alfred entered the Danish camp disguised as a harper, because the harpers passed through the midst of the enemy unmolested on account of their calling. The same deception was likewise practised by several Danish chiefs, in the camp of Athelstan, the Saxon. The bards, or harpers of old, were the historians of the time; they handed down from generation to generation the history of remarkable events, and of the deeds and lineage of their celebrated chiefs and princes. The harpers of Britain were formerly admitted to the banquets of kings and nobles: their employment was to sing or recite the achievements of their patrons, accompanying themselves on the harp. No nations have been more famous for their harps and harpers than the Welsh and Irish.

Recite, to repeat or chant in a particular tone or manner.

Achievement, a great or heroic deed.

Patron, benefactor, one who bestows favors.

What instrument was famous among the ancient Greeks?

The Lyre: the invention, or rather discovery, of this instrument is ascribed by them to their most celebrated deities. It is supposed to have originated from the discovery of a dead tortoise, the flesh of which had dried and wasted, so that nothing was left within the shell but sinews and cartilages: these, tightened and contracted, on account of their dryness, were rendered sonorous. Some one, Mercury or Apollo, they affirm, in walking along, happening to strike his foot against the tortoise, was greatly pleased with the sound it produced: thus was suggested to him the first idea of a lyre, which he afterwards constructed in the form of a tortoise, and strung with the dried sinews of dead animals. The stringed instruments already described were made to give out musical sounds, by causing a vibratory motion in their strings by means of the fingers.

Sinew, a tendon; that which unites a muscle to a bone.

Cartilage, a gristly, smooth, solid substance, softer than bone.

Vibratory, shaking.

Who was Mercury?

The heathen god of eloquence, letters, &c., and the messenger of the other gods.

Who was Apollo?

The god of music, poetry, medicine, and the fine arts.

What is a Tortoise?

A well-known animal, with a thick shelly covering, belonging to the order of reptiles; there are two species, the sea and the land tortoise; the first named is called a turtle, and affords delicious food; land tortoises live to a very great age. It is only one sort which furnishes the beautiful shell so much prized. Tortoises are found in many parts of the world. The turtles on the Brazilian shore are said to be so large as to be enough to dine fourscore men: and in the Indian sea, the shells serve the natives for boats.

Of what are the strings of the Lyre, &c., composed?

Sometimes of either brass or silver wire, &c., but most commonly of catgut.

What is Catgut?

The intestines of sheep or lambs, dried or twisted, either singly or several together. Catgut is also used by watch-makers, cutlers, and other artificers, in their different trades. Great quantities are imported from France and Italy.

Are there no other kind of Instruments besides those already described?

Yes, music and musical instruments have progressively improved; and it would be a needless task to enumerate the numbers of instruments of each kind now in use; many, as for instance the organ, the piano, musical boxes, &c., are exceedingly complex and ingenious in their construction, as well as remarkable for the sweetness of their various sounds; some, as the two first-named, are played with the fingers, and produce any melody or combination of sound at the will of the performer; others, as the musical-box, barrel-organ, &c., produce a particular melody, or a certain number of melodies, by means of machinery. In the use of the last-named the performer is not at all indebted to his own musical skill, as he has only to turn the handle which sets the machinery in motion, and the musical box, or barrel-organ, will continue playing till it has finished the tunes to which it is set.

Upon what principle do these last-mentioned instruments perform?

The barrel-organ and musical box both play on nearly the same principle, though the former is turned by a handle, and the latter only requires a certain spring to be touched, in order to set it off or to stop it. Their machinery consists of a barrel pricked with brass pins; when the barrel revolves, these ping lift a series of steel springs of different lengths and thicknesses, and the vibration of these springs when released, produces the different notes.

What is Painting?

The art of representing objects in nature, or scenes in human life, with fidelity and expression, either in oil or water colors, &c.

Fidelity, truth, faithfulness.

Oil Colors, those colors which are mixed up with oil, as the others are with water.

Is not this art of great antiquity?

There is not the slightest doubt of it; but to name the country where it was first practised, or the circumstances attending its origin, is beyond the power of the historian. About a century after the call of Abraham, Greek and Egyptian tradition tells us of a colony planted at Sicyon, by an Egyptian, who brought with him the knowledge of painting and sculpture, and founded the earliest and purest school of Greek art. The walls of Babylon were adorned with paintings of different kinds of animals, hunting expeditions, combats, &c. Allusions to this custom of the Babylonians, of decorating their walls with paintings, are found in the Bible.

Tradition, a history or account delivered from mouth to mouth without written memorials; communication from age to age.

Allusion, reference.

Decorating, ornamenting.

Sicyon, a kingdom of Peloponnesus, in ancient Greece.

Were the Egyptians acquainted with this art?

It is now little doubted that, although painting and sculpture existed in Egypt, and were probably at their highest condition, eighteen centuries before the Christian era, yet, at a still earlier period, these arts were known in the kingdom of Ethiopia; and it is considered likely, that the course of civilization descended from Ethiopia to Egypt. There is, however, no record of any Egyptian painter in the annals of the art; and it does not appear that it ever flourished in that country, or that other nations were much indebted to Egypt for their knowledge of it.

Era, age, period.

Ethiopia, the ancient name of the kingdoms of Nubia and Abyssinia, in Africa.

Annal, record, history.

Exploit, action, achievement, deed of valor.

Have we any notice of this art among the Hebrews?

There is no allusion made to the existence of painting among this people, and no proof that it was cultivated among them: it is supposed that the neglect of this art arose from their not being permitted to represent any object by painting.

What progress did the generality of the Eastern nations make in this art?

The art of painting among the Phenicians, Persians, and other Eastern nations, advanced but slowly. The Chinese appear, until a very recent period, to have contented themselves with only so much knowledge of the art as might enable them to decorate their beautiful porcelain and other wares; their taste is very peculiar, and though the pencilling of their birds and flowers is delicate, yet their figures of men and animals are distorted, and out of proportion; and of perspective they seem to have but little idea. Latterly, however, a change has taken place in Chinese art, and proofs have been given of an attempt to imitate European skill. The Japanese figures approach more nearly to beauty of style than Chinese productions of a similar kind.

Distorted, having a bad figure.

Perspective, the science by which things are represented in a picture according to their appearance to the eye.

Who are the Japanese?

The inhabitants of Japan, an empire of Eastern Asia, composed of several large islands. They are so similar in feature, and in many of their customs and ceremonies, to the Chinese, as to be regarded by some, as the same race of men. The Japanese language is so very peculiar, that it is rarely understood by the people of other nations. Their religion is idolatrous; their government a monarchy, controlled by the priesthood. The people are very ingenious, and the arts and sciences are held in great esteem by them. In all respects, Japan is an important and interesting empire.

Monarchy, a government in which the power is vested in a king or emperor.

By what nations was the art of painting practised with great success?

By the Greeks and Romans. Greece produced many distinguished painters, among whom Apelles was one of the most celebrated; he was a native of Cos, an island in the Archipelago, rather north of Rhodes; he flourished in the time of Alexander the Great, and witnessed both the glory and the decay of ancient art: the leading features of his style were beauty and grace. But painting was not at any period so completely national in Greece, as sculpture, its sister art; the names of one hundred and sixty-nine eminent sculptors are recorded, while only fifteen painters are mentioned. Zeuxis, of Heraclea, was another famous Greek painter, who flourished 400 years before Christ. The Romans were not without considerable masters in this art, in the latter times of the republic, and under the first emperors.

What nation is supposed to have known and practised this art even before the foundation of Rome?

The Etruscans, inhabitants of Etruria, whose acquaintance with the arts has excited great astonishment among those who have most deeply searched into their history, and traced their progress by means of the beautiful specimens of their works still extant. Their early works were not superior to those of other nations; but either from their intercourse with Greece, or the original genius of the people, they had attained considerable eminence in the arts of painting, sculpture, &c., before Rome was founded. Pliny speaks of some beautiful pictures at Ardea and Lanuvium, which were older than Rome: and another author also says that before Rome was built, sculpture and painting existed among them.

Where was Etruria situated?

In Italy, on the west of the Tiber, which separated it from the territory of ancient Rome, to which it was afterwards annexed by conquest. Etruria was the ancient name of Tuscany.

Annexed, united.

Was not the art greatly obscured for some centuries?

The irruption of Barbarians into Italy and Southern Europe, proved fatal to painting, and almost reduced it to its primitive state; it was not until after a long period that it was fully restored. The first certain signs of its revival took place about the year 1066, when Greek artists were sent for to adorn several of the cities of Italy. Cimabue, a native of Florence, in the thirteenth century, caught the inspiration of the Greek artists, and soon equalled their works. He was both a painter and an architect.

Irruption, inroad, invasion.

To what did this revolution in its history give rise?

It caused it to be distinguished into ancient and modern. The ancient painting comprehends the Greek and Roman: the modern has formed several schools, each of which has its peculiar character and merit. The first masters who revived the art were greatly surpassed by their scholars, who carried it to the greatest state of perfection, and advanced it not only by their own noble works, but also by those of their pupils.

Who were the principal masters of the Italian school?

Raphael and the celebrated Michael Angelo Buonarotti; the former is regarded as the prince of modern painters, and is often styled "the divine Raphael;" he was born at Urbino, in 1483. Michael Angelo was born at Florence, in 1564, and united the professions of painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and musician. Besides these there were many other illustrious Italian painters, the principal of whom were Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Correggio, the three Caracci, Guido, Parmegiano, Salvator Rosa, &c.

Was not Raphael also reckoned as excellent an architect as he was a painter?

He was not only esteemed the best painter in the world, but also the best architect; he was at least so admired for skill and taste in architecture, that Leo the Tenth charged him with the building of St. Peter's Church at Rome.

Who was Leo the Tenth?

A great Pope, who was an ardent lover and patron of learning and the arts. He was born at Florence, in 1475, and died in 1521.

Give me a list of some of the most celebrated painters besides those already mentioned.

The great painters of the German school were Albert Durer, Holbein, Kneller and Mengs, with several others.

Of the Dutch school, were Rembrandt, Gerard Dow, Mieris, Ostade, Polemberg, Berghem, and Wouvermans.

Of the Flemish, Rubens, Teniers, Jordaens, and Vandyck.

The admired painters of the French school, were Claude, Poussin, Le Brun, and many others.

The Spaniards also have had their Murillo, Velasquez, &c.

The English, Hogarth, Wright, Reynolds, Wilson, Northcote, Gainsborough, Morland, Barry, and others.

The Americans, Washington Allston, Benjamin West, Gilbert Stuart, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, G. Stuart Newton, Thomas Cole, Henry Inman, and a number of others; besides many now living, or but recently deceased.

Upon what materials did the ancients paint their works?

Principally upon wood; the boards or tables were prepared with a thin ground of chalk and size of some kind. Linen cloth or canvas was also employed, but there is no evidence of its use before the reign of Nero. Parchment, ivory and plaster were the other materials.

Evidence, testimony, record.

Who was Nero?

One of the Roman Emperors, a monster of cruelty, extravagance, and debauchery; he raised a dreadful persecution against the Christians, in which St. Paul was beheaded, and St. Peter crucified. At last, being deserted by his army and the senate, he destroyed himself, after a reign of fourteen years.

Debauchery, wickedness.

What is Poetry?

The glowing language of impassioned feeling, generally found in measured lines, and often in rhyme. Most ancient people had their poets.

Glowing, warm, energetic.

Impassioned, full of passion, animated.

Rhyme, the correspondence of the last sound of one verse to the last sound or syllable of another.

Name a few of the ancient poets.

David was an inspired poet of the Hebrews: Homer, one of the earliest poets of the Greeks: Ossian, an ancient poet of the Scots: Taliesen, an ancient poet of the Welsh: and Odin, an early poet of the Scandinavians.

Who were the Scandinavians?

The inhabitants of Scandinavia, the ancient name of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

What people are regarded as the Fathers of Poetry?

The Greeks. Homer was the first and the prince of poets; he celebrated the siege of Troy in the Iliad and Odyssey, two epic poems which have never been surpassed. In the same kind of composition he was followed, nine hundred years after, by Virgil, in the Eneid; by Tasso, after another fifteen hundred years, in the 'Jerusalem Delivered.' The Greeks also boasted of their Pindar and Anacreon in lyric poetry; and of Aristophanes, Euripides, Sophocles, and Eschylus, in dramatic poetry.

Did the Romans possess any distinguished Poets?

Yes; among the epic poets were Ovid and Tibullus; among dramatists, Plautus and Terence; of didactic and philosophic poets, Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, and Silius Italicus. All these were so many miracles of human genius; and their works afford the models of their respective species of composition. Most of the works of the ancients have in sentiment, if not in spirit, been translated into English.

Miracles, wonders.

Genius, natural talent.

Respective, particular.

Sentiment, thought, meaning.

Did not the same revolution which undermined the Greek and Roman empires, and destroyed learning, the arts and sciences, and the taste for elegance and luxury, also prove fatal to Poetry?

It did; the hordes of barbarians who overran Europe wiped out civilization in their progress, and literature, art, and science fled before the wild conquerors to find a refuge in the monastery and the convent. Here knowledge was fostered with the love and ardor which religion alone can impart. Finally, when the rude barbarians were converted, it was to the religious Orders that the world turned for the establishment of schools, and it is to the Church alone, in the person of her popes, her bishops, and her monks that we are indebted for the preservation of learning, and its revival in the fifteenth century.

What celebrated Poets marked this revival?

In Italy, Dante, Ariosto, Petrarch and Tasso. These were followed, in France, by Racine, Corneille, Boileau, Voltaire, La Fontaine and Delille; in England, by Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Young, Collins, Gray, Byron, Coleridge, &c; in Scotland, by Sir Walter Scott; in Ireland, by Thomas Moore; in Germany, Klopstock, Goethe and Schiller.

Name some of the distinguished poets of our own country.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, James Russell Lowell, John G. Whittier, Fitz-Greene Halleck, and many others whose meritorious works will be impartially judged by a future age.

Impartially, justly, without prejudice.

Name the different kinds of Poetry.

Epic, or historical; dramatic, or representative,—from drama, the name of all compositions adapted to recitation on the stage—in which are displayed, for instruction and amusement, all the passions, feelings, errors, and virtues of the human race in real life; lyric poetry, or that suited to music, as songs, odes, &c; didactic, or instructive; elegiac, or sentimental, and affecting; satirical, or censorious; epigrammatic, or witty and ludicrous; and pastoral, or descriptive of country life.

Historical, relating to history.

Lyric, pertaining to a lyre.

Didactic, doctrinal; relating to doctrines or opinions.

Elegiac, relating to elegy; mournful, sorrowful.

Elegy, a mournful song: a funeral composition; a short poem without points or affected elegance.

Satirical, severe in language; relating to satire.

Satire, a poem in which wickedness or folly is censured.

Epigrammatic, relating to epigram,—a short poem ending in a particular point or meaning, understood but not expressed.

Pastoral, from pastor, a shepherd; relating to rural employments and those belonging to shepherds.

What is Astronomy?

The science which treats of the heavenly bodies, their arrangement, magnitudes, distances and motions. The term Astronomy is derived from two Greek words, signifying the law of the stars; astron being the Greek for star.

What can you say of its origin?

Its origin has been ascribed to several persons, as well as to different nations and ages. Belus, King of Assyria; Atlas, King of Mauritania; and Uranus, King of the countries situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, are all recorded as the persons to whom the world is indebted for this noble science. Its origin is generally fixed in Chaldea. Some choose, however, to attribute it to the Hebrews; others to the Egyptians,—from whom, they say, it passed to the Greeks.

What country is meant by Mauritania?

Mauritania is the name formerly given to a country in the northern part of Africa. Chaldea is the ancient name for Babylonia, now called Irak Arabi, a district of Asiatic Turkey.

By whom were the heavenly bodies first divided into Constellations or groups?

By the ancients. The phenomena of the heavens were studied in very early ages by several nations of the East. The Chaldeans, the Indians, the Chinese and the Egyptians have all left evidence of the industry and ingenuity with which their observations were conducted.

Phenomena, appearances.

Ingenuity, skilfulness.

What progress did they make in Astronomy?

They built observatories,—invented instruments for observing and measuring with correctness,—separated the stars into different groups or constellations, for the more easily finding any particular star,—gave particular names to most of the moving stars or planets, and noted the periods which each took to move through its apparent path in the heavens; and in many other ways the ancients helped to lay the foundations of that mass of astronomical knowledge which men of later ages have brought to more maturity.

Constellation, a cluster of fixed stars; an assemblage of stars.

Observatory, a place so built as to command a view of the heavens.

Who first taught the true system of the Universe?

Pythagoras, one of the most distinguished philosophers of antiquity. He is thought to have been a native of Samos, an island in the Archipelago; he flourished about 500 years before Christ, in the time of Tarquin, the last King of Rome. Pythagoras was the first among the Europeans who taught that the Earth and Planets turn round the Sun, which stands immovable in the centre;—that the diurnal motion of the Sun and Fixed Stars is not real, but apparent,—arising from the Earth's motion round its own axis, &c. After the time of Pythagoras, Astronomy sunk into neglect.

Philosopher, one who studies philosophy.

Philosophy, all knowledge, whether natural or moral. The term is derived from the Greek, philos, lover, and sophia, wisdom.

By whom was it revived?

By the family of the Ptolemies, kings of Egypt, who founded a school of astronomy at Alexandria, which produced several eminent astronomers, particularly one named Hipparchus. The Saracens, on their conquest of Egypt, became possessed of the knowledge of Astronomy, which they carried with them out of Africa into Spain; and thus, after a long exile, it was introduced afresh into Europe.

Did not Astronomy from this time make great progress?

Yes; it made considerable advances, being cultivated by the greatest geniuses, and patronized by the greatest princes. The system of the Ptolemies, called the Ptolemaic, had hitherto been used, with some slight alterations; but Copernicus, an eminent astronomer, born at Thorn, in Polish Prussia, in 1473, adopted the system which had been taught by Pythagoras in Greece, five or six hundred years before the time of Ptolemy. About the same time with Copernicus flourished Tycho Brahe, born in Denmark, 1546.

Geniuses, men gifted with superior mental faculties.

Mental, belonging to the mind.

Faculties, powers of doing anything, whether menial or bodily; abilities; powers of the mind.

What next greatly forwarded this interesting science?

The introduction of telescopes by Galileo, who by their means discovered the small stars or satellites which attend the planet Jupiter; the various appearances of Saturn; the mountains in the Moon; the spots on the Sun; and its revolution on its axis.

Satellites, attendants.

What celebrated Astronomer arose in England?

The immortal Sir Isaac Newton, born in 1642, at Woolsthorpe, in Lincolnshire, who has, perhaps, contributed more to the advancement of this science than any one who had before existed. Dr. William Herschel, a native of Hanover, in Germany, born in 1738, likewise made many useful discoveries in Astronomy: it was he who first discovered the seventh primary planet, which he named, in honor of King George the Third, the Georgium Sidus. George the Third took him under his especial patronage, and constituted him his astronomer, with a handsome pension. He resided at Slough, near Windsor, where he died, in 1822.

Patronage, support, favor.

Constituted, appointed to any particular office or rank.

Pension, yearly allowance of money.

What other circumstance contributed to the advancement of Astronomy?

The increasing perfection of our astronomical instruments,—by means of which, the most important and interesting discoveries with regard to the heavens have been made. It is now supposed that the myriads of the heavenly bodies are all distinct worlds; it is certain, from observations made by the aid of the telescope, that the moon has its mountains, valleys, and caverns. One of the greatest astronomers of our day was the eminent Father Secci.

What are generally meant by the Arts?

Systems of rules designed to facilitate the performance of certain actions; in this sense, it stands opposed to science. The terms art and science are often incorrectly used. Science relates to principles, and art to practice. The word art is derived from a Greek word signifying utility, profit. Arts are divided into liberal and mechanical.

What are the Liberal Arts?

The liberal arts are those that are noble and ingenious, or which are worthy of being cultivated without any immediate regard to the pecuniary profit arising from them. They are Poetry, Music, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Astronomy, and Navigation. The arts which relate more especially to the sight and hearing are also called Fine Arts.

Pecuniary, relating to money.

Military, belonging to soldiers, or to arms.

What do the Fine Arts usually include?

All those which are more or less addressed to the sentiment of taste, and whose object is pleasure; these are more especially Music, Painting, Sculpture, and Poetry.

What are the Mechanical Arts?

Those in which the hand and body are more concerned than the mind, and which are chiefly cultivated for the sake of the profit attending them. To this class belong those which furnish us with the necessaries of life, and which are commonly called trades, as carpentry, weaving, printing, &c. There are also many other arts, as the art of writing, &c.

When was the art of Writing invented?

It is supposed that the art was invented before the Deluge: it was certainly practised long before the time of Moses. There were, doubtless, many steps taken in slow succession before the invention of alphabetic writing. Perhaps the earliest method might have been that which is still employed among the untutored tribes of North American Indians, who record events by picture-painting of the rudest description. Picture-painting was afterwards gradually converted into the hieroglyphical system, which is still the only kind of writing among the Chinese. It is not known who invented the alphabetic system of writing.

Deluge, a flood: the term used in particular to denote that mighty flood of water with which God swept away the first nations of the earth for their wickedness.

Alphabetic, from alphabet, the series of written signs of language called letters. The word is formed from alpha, beta, the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet.

Untutored, ignorant, unlearned.

Were not the Egyptians quite early acquainted with this art?

Yes, they were acquainted with two or three kinds of writing, as well as the one in which symbolical characters were employed, which was not used for common purposes. On the contrary, such symbols had something of a sacred character about them, being unknown to the common people, and only to be deciphered by the priests. Obelisks and pyramids were the great national records; and on these the hieroglyphics were constantly used, because unintelligible to the people, until expounded by those who had the exclusive office of explaining them.

Symbolical, having the nature of signs or symbols—that is, representations of different things.

Deciphered, read, understood, made out.

Unintelligible, that cannot be understood.

Expounded, explained, interpreted.

Were Hieroglyphics employed before or after Alphabetic Writing?

They were undoubtedly employed at first from necessity, not from choice or refinement; and would never have been thought of, if alphabetical characters had been known. This style of writing must be reckoned as a rude improvement upon picture-writing, which had previously been used. Hieroglyphics were employed by the Egyptian priests in after times, as a kind of sacred writing, peculiar to themselves, and serving to give an air of mystery to their learning and religion, though fallen into disuse for other purposes.

What materials were employed by ancient nations in Writing?

The Eastern nations used tables of stone, brass, and wood, so that the characters were engraved instead of being written in the usual manner. The instrument used in writing on wood, was made of metal, and called a style. For stone, brass, &c., a chisel was employed. When the bark and leaves of trees, skins, and other materials of a more pliant nature, superseded the above-named tables, the chisel and the style, or stylus, gave way to the reed and cane, and afterwards to the quill, the hair pencil (as now used by the Chinese,) and the convenient lead pencil.

Engraved, inscribed with the graver, a tool used in engraving on stone, &c.

Pliant, yielding, easily bent.

Have not the various nations among whom this useful art has been cultivated, adopted different ways of arranging their written characters?

Yes. The Hebrews, Chaldeans, Syrians, Arabians, and Egyptians, begin each line on the right side, and write towards the left. The Greeks, Latins, and all European nations, write from left to right. The natives of China, Japan, Cochin China, Corea, &c., write from the top to the bottom of the page.

Where are Cochin China, and Corea?

Cochin China is a country situated in Eastern Asia. Corea is a peninsula of Asia, subject to China.

What is meant by Science?

A clear and certain knowledge of anything founded on self-evident principles, or demonstration. The term is, however, more particularly applied to a systematic arrangement of the principles relating to any branch of knowledge, and is employed in this sense in opposition to art: thus the theoretical knowledge of chemistry is ranked as a science, but the practical part is called an art; thus it is sometimes spoken of as a science, sometimes as an art.

Practical, relating to action, not merely speculative.

What is Chemistry?

A science which enables us to discover the peculiar properties of natural bodies, either in their simple or compound state, and the elementary or first principles of which they are composed, by the processes of analysis and combination. Chemistry treats of those changes in natural bodies which are not accompanied by sensible motions.

Compound, mixed.

Analysis, a separation of a compound body into the several parts of which it consists.

Is not the knowledge of Chemistry very ancient?

Chemistry, as far as it regards the separating of metals from foreign matters in the ore, smelting and refining them, is of the highest antiquity; it is even supposed to have been understood and practised in the antediluvian world.

Antediluvian, before the flood.

What nation appears to have excelled in Chemistry in early times?

The Egyptians were no mean proficients in many chemical operations, especially in the arts of working metals, softening ivory, vitrifying flints, and imitating precious stones. Chemistry, however, experienced the common fate of all the arts, at the decline of the Eastern empire.

Proficients, those who have made great progress in any art or science.

By whom was it revived?

After having long lain buried, the famous Roger Bacon revived it; and from his time to the present day it has gradually progressed to a state of perfection. In former times, the art of chemistry consisted only in the knowledge of working metals, &c.; but in latter ages, its bounds have been greatly enlarged. The knowledge of Chemistry leads to many interesting and important discoveries, and the arts and manufactures are greatly indebted to its aid; indeed, it is requisite to be a good chemist, in order to attain to perfection in many of them.

Requisite, necessary.

By what other name has Chemistry been known?

It was sometimes called Alchemy; by which is properly understood a refined and mysterious species of chemistry, formerly much practised.

What were its objects?

The discovery of the art of converting metals into gold, including the search after the "Philosopher's Stone," by which this change was to be effected; and the discovery of a panacea or medicine for the cure of all diseases.

What was the Philosopher's Stone?

A substance, for numbers of years eagerly sought for, which was to convert metals, such as lead, copper, &c. into gold. This unknown substance was called the Philosopher's Stone, probably on account of the number of learned men who engaged in the search after it.

Was this search successful?

No; but the delusion lasted several centuries, notwithstanding the failures, losses, and disappointments of those engaged in it. Indeed, so severe and ruinous were these, in many instances, that laws were passed to forbid the study. In Germany, many of the alchemists who had the unfortunate reputation of possessing this wonderful stone were imprisoned and furnished with apparatus till they should purchase their liberty by making an ounce of gold.

Delusion, an error arising from false views.

Apparatus, a complete set of instruments or tools, by which anything is made, or any operation performed.

Was any gold ever produced by this method?

Not a particle; the story of a stone having the property of converting the baser metals into gold being merely an absurd fable: yet, although the pursuits of Alchemy were the most preposterous that can be conceived, the ardor with which they were followed, and the amazing number of experiments made in consequence, led to the discovery of many facts to which Chemistry is highly indebted.

Preposterous, absurd, foolish; contrary to nature or reason.

You inform me that Chemistry enables us to discover the properties of bodies by means of analysis and combination: what do these terms imply?

If a chemist wishes to examine the properties of a compound body, he proceeds by analysis—that is, by a separation of the substance to be examined into its constituent parts. The chemical examination of bodies is generally effected by producing a change in the nature or state of the body under examination. This change is frequently brought about by the addition of some other substance which forms a combination with a part of the substance examined, and leaves the remainder in a detached state.

By what means do Chemists effect a change in the qualities or states of natural bodies?

It is generally effected by means of heat, which has a tendency to separate the particles of bodies from each other; or by the mixture or combination of some other matter with the matter intended to be examined. The mixture of two or more compounds often produces a decomposition by means of chemical affinity, a property which different species of matter have to unite with each other; and which is sometimes called elective affinity. Thus it may be observed, chemists have not only the power of decomposing natural bodies, but of producing by combination various other substances, such as are not found in the kingdom of nature.

What do you mean by decomposition?

In chemical language, it means the separation of a compound body into its simple elements.

Give me an example.

Water may be decomposed, and reduced into oxygen and hydrogen,—both of them simple substances incapable of further decomposition.

Is not the work of decomposition perpetually going forward?

Yes; and combustion is one of the great agents in this work. By it animal and vegetable substances are converted into water and carbonic acid, by the union of their hydrogen and carbon with the oxygen of the air. These, in time, are again absorbed by vegetables, and again decomposed to set the oxygen at liberty to produce fresh combustions.

Of what use are the two remaining substances, Hydrogen and Carbon?

These are appropriated by the vegetative organs to their growth and nourishment, while the oxygen with which the carbon was combined is abundantly given off to purify the air and render it fit for the respiration of animals.

Give me an idea of the mode in which Chemists ascertain the affinity of bodies, by relating an experiment.

Dissolve a tea-spoonful of sugar of lead in water, and pour the clear solution into a decanter or large glass bottle. Then take a small piece of zinc, and twist round it some brass or copper wire, so as to let the ends of the wire depend from it in any agreeable form. Suspend the zinc and wire in the solution which has been prepared; in a short time, metallic lead will deposit itself on the zinc and along the wire. This is a beautiful illustration of chemical affinity; the acid, which constitutes a part of the sugar of lead, has a stronger affinity for the zinc than for the lead, and, consequently, will combine with the zinc, and form a compound which remains in solution, while the lead is precipitated on the zinc and wire in the form of a brilliant tree of metal.

Affinity, in chemistry, that attraction which takes place between the elements of bodies, and forms compounds.

What does the word Nature signify?

In the above sense, the system of the universe; the creation, the works of God. By the kingdom of nature is meant the world and all things in it: nature is divided into three kingdoms, the animal, vegetable, and mineral.

What are the different states of natural bodies?

All bodies are either solid, liquid, or aeriform. By solid bodies are meant those whose parts unite so firmly as to resist the impression or penetration of other bodies; by liquid, those substances whose parts do not unite firmly, but have free motion among themselves; by aeriform, fluid substances, having the form or nature of air. Liquid substances are nothing more than solids converted into liquids by heat, a certain increase of which would convert the liquids into vapor.

What other name is given to Liquids?

They are likewise called fluids: we call the air, also, a fluid, because it flows like a fluid, and light substances will float in it.

What is the cause of bodies floating on liquids?

It is an established law of nature, that all substances which weigh less than an equal bulk of any liquid, will float on the surface of this liquid. Thus a cork will float on water, while a stone sinks to the bottom. The cork will not float in the air, though lighter than water; and the stone is not heavier than the whole of the water, but more so than a portion of water of its own bulk,—and thus it sinks in it. Stones also differ in their weight or gravity: for instance, some of the asbestus kind are lighter than water. Iron, brass, indeed, nearly all substances, except gold and platina, will float upon mercury, because they are lighter than this liquid.

What is the cause of bodies being either solid, liquid, or aeriform?

When the principle of attraction prevails, it causes them to become solid; when caloric prevails, they become aeriform. Fluidity is, apparently, a medium between the two.

How is the state of Solidity in bodies accounted for?

The particles of all bodies are subject to two opposite powers, repulsion and attraction; between which they remain in equilibrium. While the attractive force remains strongest, the body remains in a state of solidity; but if heat destroys this force, the particles lose their cohesion, and the body ceases to be solid.

Cohesion, act of sticking together, union of the constituent parts of a body.

Which is supposed to be the most natural state of all bodies?

Solidity; for by the combination of caloric with them we can reduce most substances to the fluid state; while the greatest number of liquid substances take a solid form by the loss of caloric. Thus, water congeals and forms ice; and even the gases show this disposition to become solid, when they lose their elasticity by forming some combination.

Explain the terms Repulsion and Attraction.

Repulsion is a peculiar property in the particles of matter, which gives them a constant tendency to recede from each other. Attraction is an unknown force, which causes bodies or their particles to approach each other. The particles of all bodies possess this property, which causes them to adhere, and preserves the various substances around us from falling in pieces.

What different kinds of Attraction can you mention?

Attraction may be distinguished into that which takes place between bodies at sensible distances, and that which manifests itself between the particles of matter at insensible distances.

Give an example of the first kind of attraction.

One of the most familiar instances of attraction at sensible distances is seen in the descent of heavy bodies to the ground. When a stone is lifted up in the hand, the earth's attraction, which previously caused it to remain at its surface, is overcome; but, as soon as the hand is withdrawn, the stone falls to the earth. The force which causes this is called the attraction of gravitation, or simply gravitation.

How is the second kind of attraction, or that between the particles of bodies, subdivided?

Into the attraction of aggregation, or cohesion; and chemical attraction, or affinity. The former takes place between particles which are similar, and the latter between those which are dissimilar. All the operations of chemistry are founded upon the force of affinity which Nature has established between the particles of different kinds of matter, and which enables the chemist to produce new compounds differing more or less from the substances by whose union they were formed.

Is it, then, necessary for chemists to understand the relative nature of all substances?

Yes; because the basis of this science consists in an analytical examination of the works of Nature; an investigation of the properties and uses of all substances we are acquainted with; and the study of the effects of heat and mixture, in order that we may find out their general and subordinate laws.

Analytical, relating to analysis.

Investigation, act of searching, or tracing out.

Subordinate, inferior in nature, dignity or power.

Relate a few more of the advantages obtained by a knowledge of Chemistry.

Many of the wonderful operations of Nature, and the changes which take place in substances around us, are, by its means, revealed to us. In every manufacture, art, or walk of life, the chemist possesses an advantage over his unskilled neighbor. It is necessary to the farmer and gardener, as it explains the growth of plants, the use of manures, and their proper application: and indispensable to the physician, that he may understand the animal economy, and the effects which certain causes chemically produce; and the nature of animal, vegetable, and mineral poisons. The study is, therefore, an invaluable branch in the education of youth: it is useful, not only in the active, but the moral life, by laying the foundation of an ardent and inquiring mind. Even an everyday walk in the fields can be productive of instruction, by a knowledge of it;—and let us always remember, that "Knowledge is Power."

Indispensable, necessary, not to be done without.



What is Attraction?

By attraction is meant that property or quality in the particles of bodies which makes them tend toward each other.

Are there several kinds of attraction?

Yes. Attraction has received different names, according to the circumstances under which it acts: The force which keeps the particles of matter together to form bodies or masses, is called attraction of cohesion; that which makes bodies stick together only on their surfaces, is called adhesion; that which inclines different masses toward each other, as the earth and the heavenly bodies, is called gravitation; that which forces the particles of substances of different kinds to unite, is known under the name of chemical attraction; that which causes the needle of the compass to point constantly toward the poles of the earth, is magnetic attraction; that which is excited by friction in certain substances, is known as electrical attraction.

How do you know that attraction exists through the whole universe?

This great universal law was first discovered by Sir Isaac Newton. The sun and planets and other heavenly bodies are only guided in their path by gravitation.

Do we experience this attraction upon our earth?

Yes; because our earth is carried around the sun by it; and, further, the tides show it very clearly.

What are the Tides?

The ebbing and flowing of the sea, which regularly takes place twice in twenty-four hours. The cause of the tides is the attraction of the sun, but chiefly of the moon, acting on the waters of the ocean.

What is Gravity?

Gravity is the attraction between the earth and the bodies on the earth, which makes what we call weight of bodies.

What do you understand by specific weight or gravity?

It means the weight of a body as compared with the weight of an equal bulk of some other body taken as a standard—commonly water.

Why do we say that certain metals—as, for example, platina or gold—are heavier than others, say, lead or iron?

Because the former have a greater specific gravity.

But is not a pound of gold as heavy as a pound of lead?

Yes; but a lump of gold will be heavier than a lump of lead of equal bulk.

Can we explain by this what we call floating?

A body will float in water if its gravity is less than that of water; for example, wood floats for this reason in water, and a balloon in the air.

Why does a portion of the floating body sink below the surface of the water?

Because the body in order to float must displace a portion of water equal in weight to the whole floating body.

But why do iron steamers float—iron being heavier than water?

Because the steamer is not a solid piece of iron, but is hollow, and so increased in bulk; for that reason the weight of the vessel and its contents is less than that of an equal bulk of water.

How can you ascertain that air has weight?

We can do it by the barometer and by very many experiences in daily life. If one end of a straw be dipped into a vessel of water and the other end be sucked, the liquid will rise to the mouth. There we see the pressure of the outside air forces the liquid through the straw where the air was removed by sucking.

Can you show the same by another instrument?

Yes; the common water pump demonstrates the same as the straw. A tube is placed into the water, the air is sucked out from the tube by the movement of the pump, and the outside air presses the water through the tube.

What are Artesian wells?

Wells so named because they were made first at Artois, in France. They work on the principle that every liquid seeks its level. Of the rain which falls, a part soaks into the soil of mountains, until, coming to a layer of rocks or clay through which it cannot pass, it will collect and be stored up. If a hole be bored into this reservoir the water will rise in it.

Do you know some other properties of air?

It is the most necessary substance for our life; it is the vehicle of all odors and smells; it is the medium of all sounds, and brings to our ear and so to our mind an immense knowledge of the outside world; it is the cause of the beauty of the blue firmament or sky, of the aurora and twilight; it is the great nurse of the whole vegetable kingdom by clouds, rain, and dew.

What is an Aneroid Barometer?

It is a barometer in the construction of which no quicksilver or other liquid is used. It consists of a metal box, exhausted of air, the top of which is of thin metal, so elastic that it readily yields to alterations in the pressure of the atmosphere. When the pressure increases, the top is pressed inwards; when, on the contrary, it decreases, the elasticity of the lid, aided by a spring, tends to move it in the opposite direction. These motions are transmitted by delicate levers to an index which moves on a scale. This barometer has the advantage of being portable.

What is the Ear-trumpet?

A trumpet-like instrument used to aid deaf persons in hearing. Its form is conical, and the larger end is of a bell shape; the small end is placed in the ear, and the person talks in the large end. It acts by concentrating the voice on the listener's ear.

What is a Stethoscope?

An instrument used by physicians for ascertaining the action of the lungs, judging by the sound of their motion whether they are healthy or not.

Describe the Audiphone.

It is a fan-shaped instrument to help deaf people, and is made of flexible carbonized rubber. Fine silk cords attached to the upper edge bend it over, and are fastened by a wedge in a handle. The top edge of this fan rests upon the upper teeth, and the sound waves strike its surface; the vibrations are thus conveyed by the teeth and the bones of the face to the acoustic nerve in the ear.

Describe the Telephone.

It is an instrument by which conversation may be carried on at a distance, and is composed of three parts—a thin disk of soft metal, a small coil or bobbin of silk-covered copper wire, and a small bar magnet about four inches long. The bobbin is placed on one pole of the magnet, so that the wire is as it were steeped in the magnetic space round the pole. The metal disk is placed face close to the pole and bobbin, so that when it vibrates in front of the pole a series of wave currents will be set up in the coil of wire on the bobbin. The whole is encased in wood, and a mouth-piece is provided for speaking against the disk. The coil of wire on the bobbin is of course connected by its two ends into the circuit of a telegraph line.

Who invented the Telephone?

It was invented, almost simultaneously, by Alex. Graham Bell, a native of Scotland, and Professor of Vocal Physiology in the Boston University, and Elisha Gray, of Chicago.

What is a Phonograph?

It is an instrument for recording the vibrations of sounds, and consists of a revolving cylinder covered with tin-foil. To this cylinder is attached a mouth-piece, fitted with a thin plate or disk, on the outer side of which, next to the cylinder, is a needle or point. The cylinder runs on a screw, so that the whole length of it, from end to end, may pass under the point. On speaking into the mouth-piece the voice causes the disk to vibrate, and the point to trace marks corresponding to these vibrations on the tin-foil. By turning the cylinder so that the point again passes into the marks in the tin-foil, the sounds that entered at the mouth-piece can be reproduced at any time.

By whom was the phonograph invented?

By Thomas A. Edison, who was born in Ohio in 1847. Mr. Edison is the inventor of many improvements in telegraphy, which have been adopted into general use, and are to him the source of a large income. To him, also, we are indebted for the megaphone, microphone, tasimeter, an improvement in the telephone, a system of electric lighting, and many other inventions.

What is a Microphone?

This instrument is a variety of telephone by means of which faint sounds can be heard at a very great distance. It consists of a small battery for generating a weak current of electricity, a telephone for the receiving instrument, and a speaking or transmitting instrument. The last is a small rod of gas carbon with the ends set loosely in blocks of the same material. The blocks are attached to an upright support, glued into a wooden base board. This instrument is connected with the battery and the telephone. So wonderfully sensitive is it, that the ticking of a watch, the walking of a fly across a board, or the brush of a camel's-hair pencil can be heard even though it be hundreds of miles distant.

Will you describe the Megaphone?

It is a substitute for the ear and speaking trumpet. It consists of three paper funnels placed side by side. The two larger ones are about 6 feet 8 inches long and 27-1/2 inches in diameter, and are each provided with a flexible tube, the ends of which are held to the ear. The centre funnel, which is used as a speaking-trumpet, does not differ materially from an ordinary trumpet, except that it is larger and has a larger bell mouth. Two persons, each provided with a megaphone, can, without other apparatus, carry on a conversation at a distance of one and a half or two miles.

What is the Tasimeter?

It is an instrument, sensitive to the smallest degree of heat, and is mostly used in astronomy. Attached to a telescope it will show the heat coming from the stars.

What is a Bathometer?

This ingenious instrument, the invention of Prof. Siemens of London, enables those on board of ships to read from an index the depths of the ocean beneath them. It consists of a highly sensitive steel spring to which a heavy piece of metal is attached. The changes in weight to which the latter is subject in consequence of the variations of attractive force (the deeper the ocean the smaller the latter, and vice versa) are registered on a scale by the indicator that is in connection with the steel spring.

What is an Anemometer?

An instrument for measuring the velocity and force of the wind, and by which storms, at a distance, can be predicted.

What is a Chronometer?

A time-piece of delicate and exact construction, chiefly employed by astronomers and navigators. It differs only from an ordinary watch in its delicate springs, in not being so much influenced by heat and cold, and consequently in its accuracy in giving the time.



Do you know something about the nature of Light?

Light is a mere form of vibration like sound, and like sound it requires some source to set this vibration going, and some medium to carry this vibration as air carries sound.

Is not the air this medium?

No, it is supposed that there is an elastic fluid called "ether" which pervades all space and matter, and if the molecules of a body are in motion they have the power of setting this ether in motion. The movement thus produced will appear either as heat or light according to its velocity.

What sources of light do you know?

We are told that the principal source of light on earth is the sun, either directly with its own beams or indirectly by supplying us with combustibles to produce light; for oil, gas, candles, and most of the substances used for producing light and heat when burning are but sending forth in another form the rays of the sun which were stored up in nature's economy.

Another source of light is the result of chemical action, such as the lime, magnesium, and electric light. A third source of light is phosphorescence, as we see it in the glow-worm and fireflies.

What is the Drummond or Lime Light?

It is one of the most brilliant of artificial lights. When a stream of oxygen and one of hydrogen under pressure are brought together and mixed within a few inches of the end of a blowpipe, the mixture on lighting burns with a colorless flame possessing intense heat. If this flame be made to play upon a ball of carbonate of lime, the lime on becoming white hot gives off a powerful incandescence.

Incandescence, the glowing whiteness of a body caused by intense heat.

What is a Blowpipe?

A tube, usually bent near the end, terminated with a finely-pointed nozzle, for blowing through the flame of a lamp or gas-jet, producing thereby a small conical flame possessing intense heat. It is used in soldering silver, brass, etc. A mixture of oxygen and hydrogen when ignited constitutes the hydrogen blowpipe, invented by Dr. Hare of Philadelphia.

What is Magnesium Light?

When the metal magnesium is rolled out into a fine ribbon and heated to red heat it burns with a dazzling light.

Which is the most powerful artificial light?

The so-called Electric light. This light, whether produced by a series of galvanic cells or by dynamic power, is the most brilliant and useful.

What is a Rainbow?

The rainbow is that beautiful semi-circular band or arc of different colors in the clouds during the occurrence of rain in sunshine. When the clouds opposite the sun are very dark and rain is falling from them, the rays of the sun are divided by the raindrops as they would be by a prism. There are often two rainbows at the same time, because the primary bow is again reflected to another layer of clouds.

What is a Prism?

A triangular solid piece of glass, on which if a ray of light be cast it will be distinctly divided into the seven colors we see in a rainbow. By this fact we see that white light is composed of different rays which have different reflective susceptibilities.

What is a Spectrum?

It is this beautiful band of seven colors obtained by the refraction of a ray of light through the prism.

Whence come the colors in the objects we see in nature?

They all come from light; every object has a power to absorb certain rays and to reflect others. A red cloth, for example, absorbs all the other colored rays except red, and this it gives off, thus appearing red.

Why are the leaves of plants green?

Because a peculiar chemical substance called chlorophyl, formed within their cells, absorbs all other rays of light, reflecting only blue and yellow—which mixture produces the different green tints.

What is Photography?

The word means "light drawing." It is a mode of fixing on certain substances the lights and shades of any object by means of a lens inserted in a camera obscura. This process was first called Daguerreotype from the name of the inventor, Daguerre. A plate of copper thinly coated with silver is exposed to the vapor of iodine, then placed in a camera obscura, where an image of the object to be presented through a lens is cast upon it. Ambrotype is the same application to glass. There are now different variations of method in the use of the same agents. Now photography consists in taking the images on what is called a negative—that is, a glass coated with a silvered collodion (gun-cotton dissolved in alcohol and ether) film. From this plate another image is taken on silvered paper, which we call the positive image. There are also other chemicals used instead of silver.

What is a Camera Obscura?

A small box or dark room into which the light is admitted through a lens.

What is a Stereoscope?

It is an instrument exhibiting the effects and advantages of seeing with two eyes. The instrument is so constructed that from a flat picture we may see the solid body in its reality in nature.

What is a Kaleidoscope?

An instrument invented by Sir David Brewster, consisting of a tube with slips of reflecting glass so arranged in the interior that small beads, bits of colored glass, and similar things are, by revolving the tube, thrown into an endless variety of beautiful shapes.



What is the nature of Electricity?

A form of energy into which all other forms can readily be converted.

What is an Electric current?

Electricity manifests itself in a variety of ways, but all may be arranged under two heads, viz., 1, as a charge; 2, as a current. By means of friction, many bodies become electrified—that is, have acquired an electrical charge. If this charge is in great quantity we call it high tension. When a body containing an electrical charge is brought in contact with other bodies through which electricity is capable of passing, there ensues a current of electricity. Such bodies are called conductors.

What are the sources of currents?

There are currents produced by chemical action called voltaic currents; by the action of heat, or thermo-electric currents; by the motion of magnets, or magneto-electric currents.

What is positive and what negative electricity?

No difference in electricity in itself. When a body has more than its natural amount of electricity, it is said to be charged positively; when it has less than its natural amount it is negatively charged.

What is a Cell; what a Battery?

If a piece of zinc and copper joined by a wire be dipped in a liquid—generally weak sulphuric acid—which will act chemically on the metals, a current is produced. Such an arrangement is called a couple, or cell. If many cells are connected, then it is called a battery.

What is Thermo-electricity?

If two bars of any unlike metal—for example, antimony and bismuth—be soldered together at one end, and the other ends be connected by a wire and then the soldered end heated, a current will flow.

What effects are produced by currents?

They produce heat, light, decomposition and combination in liquid chemical compounds; they melt all metals, excite magnetism, and in the animal body excite movements of the muscles.

Can you specify these effects?

A strong battery produces heat in such a degree that all metals can be melted. Light is produced in flashes, or if the end of the leading wires are connected with two pencils of hard carbon, and brought very near together, then a brilliant light, or arc, called the voltaic arc, is produced. This is the dazzling bright light which we call electric light. The chemical effect of a current in decomposing compound substances is called electrolysis. In this way water can be decomposed into its compounds, hydrogen and oxygen; copper sulphate into sulphur and metallic copper, etc. In this way we can deposit strong adherent films of metal on the surface of any conductor; for if the article to be coated be attached to the negative electrode of a battery, and dipped into a solution of the metal with which we desire to coat the article, say copper or silver, and the positive electrode be attached to a plate of copper and also dipped into a liquid, when the current passes, the metal will be decomposed and deposited in a uniform layer over the article at the negative electrode. This process is called electro-plating.

What is Electrotyping?

It is the process of copying medals, type, wood-cuts, engraved copper and steel plates, etc., by means of electrical deposition. It is chiefly used for making, from the ordinary movable types, plates of fixed metallic types, for printing books.

Describe the process.

The article to be copied is first covered with black-lead, and then a mould is made of it in wax or gutta-percha. This mould is placed in a solution of sulphate of copper, and attached to the negative pole of the battery, while a plate of copper is hung from the positive pole. The electric current decomposes the copper, which is deposited in a thin film upon the mould. This film is removed and stiffened by being backed with metal.

What is the difference between Electrotyping and Stereotyping?

In stereotyping, a plaster of Paris mould is taken from the types, and upon this mould melted type-metal is poured, which, when hardened, makes a solid plate.

Is there any other method of stereotyping?

Yes; that known as the paper process. A uniform sheet of soft matter is formed by pasting together sheets of thin, tough tissue paper. The types are oiled, and the soft, moist sheet is placed on them and beaten down with a stiff brush until it receives an impression of the type-form. Both are then run through a press, and on being taken out the paper is found to form a perfect mould. Into this mould the type-metal is poured and the plate formed.

Can you tell me some magnetic effects of the current?

All conductors become magnetic during the passage of a current through them, and thereby acquire all the properties of a magnet. There are bodies which are natural magnets, and they are called permanent magnets. Those which become magnets only during the passage of a current are called electro-magnets.

Do you know any application of those magnets?

They are employed in a great variety of electrical apparatus, principally in telegraphy.

When was the first telegraph established?

It was made in 1836, being invented by Prof. Steinheil, of Munich, and adopted by the government of Bavaria. It was 12 miles long, and the signals were made by small bells.

Who was the inventor of the telegraph in this country?

Samuel F.B. Morse, who was born at Charlestown, Mass., April 27, 1791. He began life as a painter, but did not give his whole attention to art—chemistry and experiments in electricity and galvanism claiming much of his time. He first conceived the idea of the telegraph in 1832, and exhibited his invention to Congress in 1837. He struggled on with scanty means, and was about to give up in despair when Congress appropriated $30,000 for an experimental line, which was opened on May 12, 1844, between Washington and Baltimore. Prof. Morse died in 1872, but not before he had reaped honors and fortune from his invention.

How rapidly does the electric current travel through the wires?

From experiments made it appears to be about 15,400 miles in a second.

Can more than one message be sent at the same time on the same wire?

Yes; it is possible now to send several messages at the same time.

What is a Cable?

It is a telegraph wire under water. Prof. Morse, in 1842, laid a wire insulated by a covering of hemp coated with pitch-tar and India-rubber between Governor's Island and the Battery, New York. Several attempts were made in other countries.

What was the greatest telegraphic undertaking?

That of connecting Europe with America by a submarine cable spanning the ocean, which was commenced in 1857 and completed August 5, 1858.

To whom do we owe this grand undertaking?

This honor is entirely due to Mr. Cyrus W. Field. Mr. Field was born at Stockbridge, Mass., on November 30th, 1819. In 1853 he became interested in ocean telegraphy, and after many reverses succeeded in laying the first cable in August, 1858. The message sent by Queen Victoria to the President of the United States, consisting of 99 words, occupied 67 minutes in transmitting. In September of the same year this cable ceased to work, but the energy of Field restored confidence, and another cable was made and laid down in July, 1865, but after 1200 miles were deposited it was lost. In 1866 another was made and successfully laid in July. In August the lost cable was found and spliced, and carried to the western shore.

What is a Dynamo-electric machine?

A machine by which very powerful currents can be obtained directly from mechanical power. In these, by means of a steam-engine or other power, a number of coils of wire called the armature are set into rapid revolution between the poles of powerful electro-magnets. All currents are caused to flow from the armature in one direction by means of a contrivance called the commutator. Very successful machines of this sort are the Gramme machine, the Siemens, and, principally, the so-called Brush machine. By these the electric light is now generally produced.

What is a Lightning Rod?

It is a rod of iron placed against a building to protect it from lightning. Three or four feet of one end is in the moist ground or in water, while several feet of the other end extend above the highest part of the building. The upper end of the rod is pointed with copper or some other metal which will not easily corrode.

By whom was it invented?

By Benjamin Franklin, and first announced by him in his "Poor Richard's Almanac" for 1753. Franklin was born at Boston, Mass., in 1706. By his talents, prudence, and honesty he rose from humble beginnings to be one of the foremost men of his time. He was one of the committee of five chosen by Congress to prepare the "Declaration of Independence" which he with other patriots afterwards signed. Towards the close of the year 1776 he was sent as ambassador to the French Court, and remained in Europe some time. He returned home in 1785, and died at Philadelphia on the 17th of April, 1790.

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