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the liquefaction and solidification of oxygen and hydrogen, and the artificial manufacture of rubies, sapphires, etc.
Votes of thanks were unanimously passed to Mr. Alfred Morgan, Honorary Librarian, for the presentation to the Society of the maps and other illustrations in his paper on the Cliff Houses of Colorado; and to Mr. Josiah Marples, for the fac-similes of letters of Amy Robsart, in illustration of his paper on her Life and Death.
Mr. J. A. PICTON, F.S.A., then read a paper on “ Scientific Materialism from a Non-Scientific Point of View." *
Ladies were present at this Meeting.
EIGHTH ORDINARY MEETING.
ROYAL INSTITUTION, February 4th, 1878. JOHN J. DRYSDALE, M.D., PRESIDENT, in the Chair.
Mr. J. L. PALMER, Fleet Surgeon, R.N., exhibited a specimen of the down of the Alsophila Pruinata, which he described as follows :
“The specimens of the pubescence of the fern Alsophila Pruinata, which I have the pleasure of shewing this evening, were given me by Dr. Gustav Fonck, F.R.G.S., some years ago, when I was in Chiloe, South America. The fern which produces them is a tree-fern of the Cyathemous order, which
height as for the spread of its fronds, which range from six to twelve or more feet in length. The pubescence is found all over the very young fronds, and in the axils and round the base of the older ones.
“Some of it, as you see, is much more silky and 'goldenhaired' than the rest; both kinds are used as a vulnerary
* See page 95.
and styptic. It acts not by any inherent tanning property, but mechanically, in the same way as a pinch of fur from a beaver hat; and, from the nature of its structure, cannot be used as a textile material any more than thistle-down. Apropos of vulneraries, in this country the proverb of the “hair of the dog that bit you " is not a figurative expression, but an actual fact. I was assured that in case of being bitten, the common people take some of the hair of the biter in country wine to act as a spell against rabies. What the dog takes I do not know. Another strange custom obtains. If anyone breaks a limb, the nearest unfortunate cur is seized, part of his ear cropped, and bound on the limb under the bandages used after setting it.
"I am ignorant of the origin of this custom, and whether it exists in other parts of the world among other races.”
Mr. Josiah MARPLES referred to the recent reception, by the Duke of Richmond, of a deputation on the subject of Reformed Spelling, and mentioned that while we in England had not reached further than the discussion of the subject, our cousins in the United States had been driven to action. The Mormons, Mr. Marples stated, conducted all their services and carried on all their public proceedings in English, and as their numbers were largely and constantly recruited from the different European nations, considerable difficulty was experienced by the new comers in learning to read English. So great had been the inconvenience, that a special alphabet had been invented, called the Deseret alphabet, which professed to have a symbol for every sound. Mr. Marples exhibited a copy of the complete Book of Mormon, printed in this manner; for some reason, however, probably because the English speaking Mormons found it inconvenient to learn reading afresh, the Deseret alphabet was not now used, and orders had been sent to Liverpool from Utah that new
editions of several of the Mormon works were to be printed in the style of phonetic spelling so well advocated by our townsman, Mr. Withers. Mr. Orson Pratt, a mathematician of no mean eminence, who has made phonotypy a study, was sent over to superintend the work, and types were bought, when the sudden death of President Brigham Young caused the return of Mr. Pratt, and the matter was for the present at a stand. Mr. Marples stated that great as were the advantages of the phonetic spelling, his love for the old masters of English literature was such that he hoped no radical change would be made while he lived.
Mr. J. N. SHOOLBRED, B.A. and C.E., then read a paper on “Tides in the Irish Sea and in the River Mersey."*
Ladies were invited to this Meeting.
NINTH ORDINARY MEETING.
ROYAL INSTITUTION, February 18th, 1878. JOHN J. DRYSDALE, M.D., PRESIDENT, in the Chair.
Messrs. B. H. Hilton, W. Russell, R. Nicholson, Geo. Taylor, Jno. Bouch, and Dr. Symes were elected Ordinary Members.
Mr. T. J. MOORE made the following communications :
The receipt of a complete skeleton of the European Bison, presented to the Free Museum in exchange by Dr. Steindachner, Honorary Member of the Society, and Director of the Imperial Zoological Museum of Vienna. These Bisons are now living only in a strictly preserved district in European Russia and in the Imperial Zoological Gardens at Vienna.
* See page 359.
A letter from Miss Gatty, Corresponding Member, announcing that Mr. Busk, F.R.S., had written to inform her that of nine undetermined specimens of Polyzoa, presented to the Museum by Associates of the Society and submitted to him, seven proved to be new to science.
A letter from Mr. E. Dukinfield Jones, Corresponding Member of the Society, dated São Paulo, Brazil, January 8, 1878, announcing satisfactory progress in collecting and recording the metamorphoses of Lepidoptera, some of which are among the most beautiful to be found in the New World.
The following extract relates further observations on the larvæ and larvæ cases of a supposed species of Moth, belonging to the family Bombycida, figured and noted by Mr. Dukinfield Jones in the last volume of Proceedings of the Society (vol. xxxi., p. lxxx. and plate) :
"On Christmas Day I made a magnificent bag, having found a place where every bush of the right sort had several fine specimens of the Hammock Caterpillar. I went about amongst the bushes for about two hours, in which time I had got over a hundred of these most wonderful insects. I found several already permanently fixed, ready for changing to the pupa state, though the larva was still unchanged, but the majority were in a most active condition. It has been most interesting watching their habits. I find I was not quite correct in the position of the suspended case in the sketch I made you. It should be nearly perpendicular, instead of horizontal. The upper opening is thus protected from rain by the curved end.
“I am making a full-sized drawing of the insect in its various positions. It is certainly the most remarkable caterpillar I have ever come across. Its movements are so rapid as to remind one very forcibly of some much higher class of animal, and it has a comical air about it that is irresistibly ludicrous. The extent to which it can stretch
itself out of the case is marvellous. Though the entire length of the case is only about four-and-a-half centimetres, and the length of the caterpillar, when drawn up inside, only three centimetres, I have constantly seen them reach six centimetres from the case when searching for a point to secure their lines to. They turn round in the case and come out at either end with equal facility. A curious babit they have is making a low musical sound when annoyed. It is very faint, and can only be heard by holding the case close to the ear, but the vibration can be distinctly felt by the fingers. The sound is intermittent, not continuous.”
Mr. STEARN described some experiments he had been recently making in telephonic communication, chiefly with respect to the effect of branch lines connected with a main line.
Mr. G. F. CHANTRELL exhibited the original copies of Captain Hutchinson's Tide Tables, mentioned in the paper on the “ Tides in the Irish Sea and in the River Mersey."
Mr. B. L. BENAS then read a paper on “ The Proverbs of European Nations."*
Ladies were invited to this Meeting.
TENTH ORDINARY MEETING.
ROYAL INSTITUTION, March 4th, 1878. JOHN J. DRYSDALE, M.D., PRESIDENT, in the Chair.
Messrs. David Radcliffe and Alfred E. Tanner were elected Ordinary Members.
* See page 291.