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tion is the early propensity I had so frequently observed in the children of these savages to this occupation, who, even at the age of three years, might be seen crawling upon their hands and knees among the rocks and breakers, from which they would tumble themselves into the sea without regard to the cold, which is here often intense, and shewing no fear at the noise and the roaring of the surf.
This sea-egg is a shell fish, from which several points project, in all directions, by means whereof it removes itself from place to place. In it are found four or five yolks, resembling the inner divisions of an orange, which are of a very nutritive quality and excellent flavour.
AN ICELANDIC DINNER.
The arrangement of a dinner table is attended in Iceland, says Mr. Hooker, with little trouble, and would afford no scope for the display of the elegant abilities of an experienced English housekeeper. On the cloth was nothing but a plate, a knife and fork, a wine-glass, and a bottle of claret for each guest, except that in the middle stood a large and handsome glass castor of sugar, with a magnificent silver top. The natives are not in the habit of drinking malt-liquor or water, nor is it customary to eat salt with their meals. The dishes are brought in singly: our first was a large turene of soup, which is a favourite addition to the dinners of the richer people, and is made of sago, claret, and raisins, boiled so as to become almost a mucilage. We were helped to two soup-plates full of this, which we ate without knowing if any thing more was to come. No sooner, however, was the soup removed, than two large salmons, boiled and cut in slices, were brought on, and with them melted butter, looking like oil, mixed with vinegar and pepper : this, likewise was very good, and, when we had with difficulty cleared our plates, we hoped we had finished dinner. Not so, for there was then introduced a turene full of the eggs of the Cree, or great Tern, boiled hard, of which a dozen were put on each of our plates : and for sauce, we had a large bason of cream, mixed with sugar, in which were four spoons, so that we all ate out of the same bowl, placed in the middle of the table. We petitioned hard to be excused from eating the whole of the eggs upon our plates, but we petitioned in vain : “You are my guests,” said he, “ and this is the first time you have done me the honour of a visit therefore you must do as I would have you ; in future, when you come to see me, you may do as you like." In his own excuse, he* pleaded his age for not following our example, to which we could make no reply. We devoured with difficulty our eggs and cream; but had no sooner dismissed our plates, than half a sheep, well roasted, came on, with a mess of sorrel (rumex acetosa,) called by the Danes scurvy-grass, boiled, mashed and sweetened with sugar. It was to no purpose we assured our host that we had already eaten more than would do us good : he filled our plates with the mutton and sauce, and made us get through it as well as we could: although any one of the dishes of which we had before partaken, was sufficient for the dinner of a moderate man.
However, this was not all ; for a lage dish of waffels as they are here called, that is to say, a sort of pancakes, made of wheat-flower, flat, and roasted in a mould, which form's a number of squares on the top, succeeded the mutton. They were not more than half an inch thick, and about the size of an octavo book. The Stiftsamptmant said he would be satisfied if each of us wonld eat two of them, and with these moderate terms we were forced to comply. For bread, Norway biscuit and loaves made of rye were served up; for our drink, we had nothing but claret, of which we were all compelled to empty the bottle that stood by us, and this, too, out of tumblers, rather then wine-glasses. It is not the custom in this country to sit after dinner over the wine ; but we had, instead of it, to drink just as much coffee as the Stiftsamptman thought proper to give us. The coffee was certainly extremely good, and we trusted it would terminate the feast. But all was not yet over; for a huge bowl of rum-punch was brought in, and handed round in large glasses pretty freely, and to every glass a toast was given. If at any time we flagged in drinking, “Baron Banks” was always the signal for emptying our glasses, in order that we might have them filled with bumpers, to drink to his health ; a task that no Englishman ought to hesitate about complying with most gladly, though assuredly, if any exception might be made to such a rule, it would be in an instance like the present. We were threatened with one more bowl, after we should have drained this; and accordingly another actually camę, which we were with difficulty allowed to refuse emptying entirely; nor could this be done but by ordering our people to get the boat ready for our departure, when, having concluded this extraordinary feast* by three cups of tea each, we took our leave, and reached Reikevig about teu o'clock ; but did not for some time recover the effects of this most involuntary intemperance.f
* In Kamtschatka, according to Kracheninnikow, when a feast is given to a person for the purpose of gaining his friendship, the master of the house-eats uothing during the repast ; 'n a la liberte de sortir de la jourte quand il le veut ; mais le convie ne le peut qu' apres qu'il s'est avoue vaincu.
+ The Governor.
Mercurious, nearest to the central sun,
Astronomers have divided the planets into two classes : the first class they call primitive planets, or principals. They are seven in number, viv. : Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Herschell, or Georgium Sidus. [At a distance from the sun, nearly as the numbers 4, 7, 10, 15, 52, 95, 191.] Those of the second class, they call secondary planets, or, otherwise, satellites, or moons. Those planets which move in orbits within that of the earth, are called inferior, perhaps, more properly, interior planets : those whose orbits enclose the earth's are called superior, or, more properly, exterior planets. The superior planets are Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Herschell, or Georgium Sidus. The inferior planets are Mercury and Venus.
First, Mercury, amidst full tides of light,
Mercury, is the smallest of the inferior planets, and the nearest to the sun,' about which he is carried with a rapid motion. Hence it was, that this planet was considered, mythologically, as the messenger of the gods.* Though small, he has a bright ap pearance, with a light tinct of blue. The distance of Mercury from the sun is never greater than about 1 hour 50 minutes in time, or nearly 27 degrees, consequently, he can never be seen by night, but in the crepusculum, or twilight that is, a little before the sun rises, or a little after he is set, according as he is eastward or westward of the sun ; or, in a total eclipse, when the sun is quite darkened by the interposition of the moon; or, finally, when he makes a transit over the sun's disc. His direct motion is from west to east, when he is beyond the sun ; but retrograde, or from east to west, when he is between the earth and the sun ; and stationary, or seemingly standing still, when he is about changing these motions one into the other.
* On afterwards relating the anecdote of the Stiftsamptman's dinner to Count Tramp, he assured me that he had partaken of a similar one himself, when he first went over to the island, at which time soup was served upon the table made from the boiling down of a whole bullock.
+ Indeed we were something in the same predicament as the guest of the Kamtschatdale, of whom Kracheninnikow further relates, “Il vomit pendant son repas jusqu'a dix fois ; aussi apres un festin de cette nature, loin de pouvoir manger pendant deux ou trois jours, il ne sauroit meme regarder aucun aliment, sans que le cæur ne lui souleve.'
The mean distance of Mercury from the sun, is to that of the earth from the sun, ás 387 to 1000 : hence his distance is (in round numbers), about thirty-seven millions of miles. The apparent diameter of this planet, when at its mean distance from the earth is 11", nearly one-third of the diameter of the earth, or about three thousand miles; hence the surface of Mercury is nearly one-ninth, and his magnitude or bulk, one-twenty-seventh of that of the earth; the quantity of matter (in proportion with the other planets) 1654.
In his course round the sun, Mercury moves at the amazing rate of 100,000 miles an hour, performing his periodical revolution round the sun in 87 days, 23 hours, 15 minutes, the length
Mercury was a celebrated god of antiquity, called Hermes by the Greeks. He was the messenger of the gods, and of Jupiter in particular: he was the patron of travellers; he presided over eloquence and commerce; and was also the god of thieves, pick-pockets, and all dishonest persons. Mercury is represented with a winged cap, winged sandals, and a caduceus, or wand, with two serpents twisted round it: he had also a short sword, cimeter, or falchion. With these he was enabled to go into whatever part of the universe he pleased with the greatest celerity. It appears from numberless passages in the heathen writers, that they supposed their gods often descended among them in the likeness of men. A well-known fable represents Jupiter and Mercury as having descended from heaven in human shape, and to have been entertained by Lycaon, from whom the Lycaonians received their name. Accordingly when Paul cured the lame man at Lystra, the multitude, seeing what the apostle had done, exclaimed, “ The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men ; and they called Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercurius," i. e. Jupiter's attendant, messenger, and interpreter of his will. Acts xiv. 8, &c.
Hermes obeys ; with golden pinions binds
DRYDEN's VIRGIL. Mercury is the chemists' name for quicksilver ; a very ponderous volatile Auid mineral, hard to be fixed : hence styled by Milton, '“ volatile Hermes,” which is another word for Mercury.
of his year. The greatest elongation of Mercury is 28 degrees, 20 minutes : distance from the sun, 40,000,000 miles ; the eccentricity of his orbit is estimated at one-fifth of his mean distance from the sun, which is far greater than that of any of the other planets. This orbit is inclined 7 degrees to the plane of the ecliptic; and that node from which he ascends, northward, above the ecliptic, is in the 16 degree of Taurus; and the opposite node is in the 16 degree of Scorpio. The earth is in these points on the 5th of November, and the 7th of May; and when Mercury comes to either of these nodes at his inferior conjunction (when he is between the earth and the sun in the nearest part of his orbit), about these times, he will appear to pass over the disc or face of the sun, like a dark round spot. But in all other parts of his orbit his conjunctions are invisible, because he either goes above or below the sun.
There was an invisible transit of Mercury over the sun's disc, on Tuesday the 5th instant, beginning, 16 minutes after one in the morning ; middle, 39 minutes after two ; end, 2 minutes after four : other transits are expected in the years 1832, 1835, 1843, and 1848.-" If to the time of a transit of Mercury, which happened at either its ascending or descending node, thirteen years, thirty-three, or forty-six, be continually added, the times when other transits, at the ascending or descending node, may be expected, will be nearly known ; and if for such of these times the shortest geocentric distance of Mercury from the sun's centre, at the time of conjunction, be computed, we may be assured there will be a transit, if that distance is less than the sun's apparent diameter."-0. Gregory's Astronomy, page 375.
The sun's diameter will appear at Mercury, nearly three times as large as at the earth; and hence, the sun's light and heat received there is about seven times greater than that of our torrid zone ; a degree of heat sufficient to make water boil. Such a degree of heat, therefore, must render Mercury not habitable to creatures of our constitution : and if bodies on its surface be not inflamed, and set on fire, it must be because their degree of density is proportionably greater than that of such bodies is with us. The great heat on this planet is no argument against its being inhabited ; since the Almighty could as easily suit the bodies and constitutions of its inhabitants to the heat of their dwelling, as "he has done ours to the temperature of our earth. It is very probable, that tbe people there have such an opinion of us, as we have of the inhabitants of Jupiter and Saturn, namely, that we must be intolerably cold, and have very little light at so great a distance from the sun.
Mercury changes his phases in a manner similar to the moon, according as he is differently stationed with regard to the earth and sun : though we may observe that he never appears quite full, because his bright side is only turned directly towards us,