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Mr. STEARN exhibited a Phonograph, which he briefly explained to the Members.
The Rev. T. P. KIRKMAN, M.A., F.R.S., presented two papers on “The Enumeration and Construction of the 9-acral 9-edra,” and “ The Construction of the Poly-edra,"* and described their purport in a short address.
The Rev. Dr. WM. STERN then read a paper on “ Moses Mendelssohn.”+
Ladies were present at this Meeting.
ELEVENTH ORDINARY MEETING.
ROYAL INSTITUTION, March 18th, 1878. JOHN J. DRYSDALE, M.D., PRESIDENT, in the Chair.
Mr. George Beall, F.R.G.S., was elected an Ordinary Member.
Mr. Picton brought under the notice of the Meeting the following somewhat romantic episode in the history of Liverpool, which is little if at all known :
A VERITABLE “ CLAIMANT.” In the Liverpool Directories of 1796 and 1800 will be found the name of “Nathaniel Sherwood, 18, John Street, driver of the Duke's Boat Coach.”
Thereby hangs a tale as follows:
Early in 1783, a young man, whose looks and manner were above his apparent station, arrived as a stranger in Liverpool. He called himself Nathaniel Sherwood. He procured a carriage and a pair of horses, which he plied
* See pages 177 and 217 See page 333.
in the streets as a hackney coachman. He was civil and sober, prudent and prosperous. After the completion of the Duke of Bridgwater's Canal, in 1772, passenger boats were put on, to convey travellers from Manchester to Stockton Quay, near Warrington. From Stockton Quay & coach transmitted the passengers to Liverpool. On account of its meeting the canal boats, it was familiarly called the “Boat Coach.” This coach was horsed and driven for many years by Nathaniel Sherwood, whose bright cheerful face was recognised everywhere on the road. He married, and had children. He gradually grew into a considerable proprietor, and bought and sold horses extensively, until having gone into Wales, in July, 1802, for the purpose of purchasing horses, he was accidentally drowned. Where he came from he never disclosed. All that could be learned was that his father's name was William ; that he had a brother of the same name, and two sisters, after whom he respectively named his two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary Anne.
We must now turn to a distant part of the country. There was, and is, in the county of Cornwall, a respectable family named Simons, having landed estates, both in Cornwall and Devonshire. The head of the family, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, was William Simons, who had two sons, William and Nicholas, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary Anne. He settled his estates on his eldest son, William, and failing him on his heirs male, with remainder to his daughters equally. Nicholas was articled to an attorney at St. Austell. He conducted himself with propriety, and was a favourite with his master. He formed an attachment, however, with a young woman at St. Austell, a milliner's apprentice. The connection was strongly disapproved both by his father and his master, which led to great unpleasantness, and finally a promise was extorted from him that he would break it off. This was in 1782. In November
of that year, young Nicholas went up to London on the completion of his articles, and was admitted as an attorney in the Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas. Immediately after this his letters ceased, and he disappeared. Inquiries were set on foot, but all search proved fruitless, and no trace of him was ever discovered, during his lifetime.
William, the elder brother, who succeeded to the property, dying without issue in 1802, the two sisters, who were married to respectable clergymen, claimed and inherited the property.
After the lapse of nearly forty years from the disappearance of Nicholas Simons, circumstances, which I am unable to explain, led to the suspicion that he and Nathaniel Sherwood were one and the same person. This was strengthened by a curious fact. His widow had married again, and some years after her second marriage, an old trunk, which her first husband had always preserved with care, was opened, out of curiosity, and was found to be filled with papers, letters, and account books. These referred to a person of whom the family had never heard, one “Nicholas Simons," and amongst them were the two admissions to the courts referred to above. Nothing at the time could be made of these, and they were put aside as worthless ; but other facts having come to light, in the year 1821 an action of ejectment was brought for the recovery of the estates by the son and heir of Nathaniel Sherwood, alias Nicholas Simons.
The evidence was, of course, purely circumstantial, dependent on a multiplicity of minute facts, insignificant in themselves, but when put together in a cumulative form, producing complete conviction in the minds of the judge and jury.
The dates of his disappearance from London and his arrival at Liverpool were found to agree. The stature, complexion, and personal peculiarities were the same. His old master proved the identity of the handwriting. The papers in the trunk of course played a conspicuous part; and the result was the establishment of his son William as heir to the property, which his descendants still enjoy.
Readers may compare this veritable and successful claim with the Tichborne imposture of 1875.
Mr. T. J. MOORE exhibited the skin and horns of Nemorhedus crispus, the rare goat-like Antelope of Japan, recently presented to the Museum by Mr. H. Heywood Jones.
The following communication was then read :
“ON THE APPENDAGES OF A RARE COLEOP
TEROUS INSECT, BELONGING TO THE
BY THE REv H. H. HIGGINS.
The formidable-looking pair of Beetles on which I have now to offer a few brief remarks, may perhaps be regarded as strangely aberrant forms, belonging to the species Augosoma Hercules, an insect well known to collectors. If not, they may probably be undescribed. A. Hercules and its allies inhabit the high forests of Brazil, where they are found in the mouldering wood of fallen trees. They possess nocturnal habits, spending the day in dark recesses of decayed trees, and coming out to seek food, or more probably their mates, in the evening. That which most conspicuously distinguishes the Dynastide is the presence of a pair of greatly developed appendages in front of the male insect. In A. Hercules, the lower horn is one-half or two-thirds the length of the upper. In the insect before us, the appendages are caliper-like, and nearly of equal length. The upper horn is an extension of the pro-thorax; the lower horn is an extension of the back of the head. The horns can be made to open or close, as the insect lowers or raises its head; but I think that this motion is not of frequent occurrence, because the - occipital region, which slides beneath the pro-thorax when the head is raised, is covered with fibrous hair.
These horns, then, are not organs, but appendages, and can in no wise be compared with the equally formidablelooking head-gear of the Stag-beetle, in which the movable parts are true mandibles, and act in a horizontal plane, turning on articulated joints, whilst in Augosoma the horns act vertically, and are fixtures on the segments to which they belong.
One of the earliest observers of A. Hercules states that he saw the insect in broad day feeding on the succulent shoots of the Mammea, a tree belonging to the Nat. Ord. Guttifera. The insects seized the shoots between their horns, and spun round and round, the teeth of the horns abrading the tender bark, and causing a copious discharge of juice. So numerous were the Beetles that a shower of sap fell from the head of the tree on which they were feeding. This is singularly like the account of the Rain Tree, given by Professor Thisselton Dyer, in Nature, of Feb. 28, 1878, in which the Professor quotes the testimony of one of our Honorary Members, Dr. Ernst, of Caracas. The account of the habits of A. Hercules is extremly improbable. Its powers of flight are very imperfect, and so rude an operation as spinning itself round on a branch grasped by its horns seems quite inconsistent with the uninjured condition of the beautiful tawny pile which lines the underside of the upper horn. A number of writers, including M. Lacordaire, the highest authority on the Order, offer no explanation as to the use of the horns. The Rev. J. G. Wood, who makes such admirable use of his access to the Collection and Library of the British Museum, cannot conceive any use to which they may be applied. Even in the article on Coleoptera, in the recent