« ElőzőTovább »
go on to account for it from vapours: which I remember was given me in my youth for the true cause of it.
It is true, indeed, that it is these vapours in the atmosphere alone, that make those bodies, when very near to the horizon, appear in a spheroidical form, by refracting, and thereby raising, (to sight,) the lower limb more than the upper, yet these can be no cause of the other. Sun or moon, each subtending about half a degree, appears in the meridian of the breadth of eight or ten inches, to some eyes more, and to others less, and in the horizon to be two or three feet, more or less, according to the extent of ground they are seen over.
But if one has an opportunity, as I have here frequently had, of seeing the sun rise or set over a small eminence at the distance of a mile or two, with tall trees standing on it pretty close, as is usual in woods, without underwood, his body will then appear to be ten or twelve feet in breadth, according to the distance and circumstances of the trees he is seen through, and where there has been some thin underwood, or a few saplings, I have observed, that the sun setting red, has appeared through them like a large extensive flame, as if some house was on fire beyond them.
Now the reason of this is obvious, viz. that being well acquainted with trees, the ideas of the space they take up are in a manner fixed, and, as one of those trees, subtends an angle at the eye, perhaps not exceeding two or three seconds, and would scarcely be distinguishable, were it not for the strong light behind them, the sun's diameter of above thirty inches, takes in several of them, and therefore will naturally be judged vastly larger. Hence it is evident, that those bodies appear greater or less, according to the objects interposed, or taken in by the eye on viewing them, and to this only is this phenomenon to be imputed. A GENUINE LETTER FROM AN ITALIAN GENTLEMAN, CON
CERNING THE BITE OF THE TARANTULA. Sir, According to your desire, I send you an account of the effect the bite of a Tarantula has upon the human body. I shall only give a distinct detail of all tile circumstances that I have seen, having once been instrumental at the cure of a poor ploughman that was bit by that insect.
I will not undertake to give you any account of the Tarantula itself, being sure you are perfectly well acquainted with it; I shall only tell you what has happened in my country, at a small village, called La Torre della Annunziata, about ten
miles from Naples, where I was at the time the affair I am going to relate happened.
It was in the month of October, a season of the year when all the students in Naples, that have any relations in the country, have leave to visit them. I was one of those that enjoyed the privilege of visiting the place of my nativity, and as I was then studying music in the college of Naples, generally, (whenever I went into the country, brought my violin
It happened one day, that a poor man was taken ill in the street, and it was soon known to be the effect of the Tarantula, because the country people have some undoubted signs to know it, and particularly, (they say,) that the Tarantula bites on the tip, or under lip of one's ear, because the Tarantula bites one, when sleeping on the ground; and the wounded part becomes black, which happens three days after one is bit, exactly at the hour of the hurt received; and they further assert, that if no one was to undertake to cure him, he would feel the effect of it every day at the same hour for the space of three or four hours, till it would throw him into such madness as to destroy him in about a month's time; some, (they say,) have lived three months after they have been bit; but ihe latter I cannot believe, because it never happens that any man is suffered to die by such distemper, the priest of the parish being obliged to play on the fiddle in order to cure them; and it has not been known in the memory
of that any one is dead of it: but to proceed.
A poor man was taken ill in a street, (as 1 said before,) and as the priest was out of the way, several gentlemen begged of me to play for that poor fellow. I could not help going, without offending a number of friends; when I was there I saw a man stretched on the ground, who seemed as if he was just going to expire. The people, at the sight of me, cried outplay-play the Tarantella ; (which is a tune made use of on such occasions.) It happened that I had never heard that tune, consequently, could not play it. I asked what sort of tune it was? They answered, that it was a kind of jig. I tried several jigs, but to no purpose, for the man was as motionless as before. The people still called out for the Tarantella ; I told them I could not play it, but if any would sing it I would learn it immediately: an old woman presented herself to me to do the good office, who sung it in such an unintelligible sound of voice, that I could not form an idea of it; but another woman came, and helped me to learn it; which I did in about ten minutes' time, being a short one : but you must observe that while I was a learning the tune, and hap
pened to feel the strain of the first two bars, the man began to move accordingly, and got up as quick as lightning, and seemed as if he had been awakened by some frightful vision, and wildly stared about, still moving every joint of his body; but as I had not as yet learned the whole tune, I left off playing, not thinking that it would have any effect on the man. But the instant I left off playing, the man fell down, and cried out very loud, and distorted his face, legs, arms, and every other part of his body, scraped the earth with his hands, and was in such contortions, that clearly indicated him to be in miserable agonies. I was frighted out of my wits, and made all the haste I could to learn the rest of the tune ; which done I played near him, I mean about four yards from him. The instant he heard me, he rose up as he did before, and danced as hard as any man could do; his dancing was very wild, he kept a perfect time in the dance, but had neither rules nor manner, only jumped and runned to and from, made very comical postures, something like the Chinese dancers we have sometimes seen on the stage, and otherwise every thing was very wild of what he did; he sweated all over, and then the people cried out faster-faster, meaning that I should
give a quicker motion to the tune, which I did so quick, that I could hardly keep up playing, and the man still danced in time. I was very much fatigued, and though I had several persons behind me, some drying the sweat from my face, others blowing with a fan to keep me cool, (for it was about two o'clock in the afternoon, others distancing the people that they might not throng about me; and yet notwithstanding all this, I suffered a long patience to keep up such long time, for I played, (without exaggeration,) above two hours, without the least interval.
When the man had danced about an hour, the people gave him a naked sword, which he applied with the point in the palm of his hands, and made the sword jump from one hand into the other, which sword he held in equilibrium, and he kept still dancing. The people knew he wanted a sword, because a little before he got it, he scratched his hands very
hard as if he would tear the flesh from them.
When he had well pricked his hands, he got hold of the sword by the handle, and pricked also the upper part of his feet, and in about five minutes' time, his hands and feet bled in great abundance. He continued to use the sword for about a quarter of an hour, sometimes pricking his hands, and sometimes his feet, with little or no intermission; and then he threw it away, and kept on dancing.
When he was quite spent with fatigue, his motion began to grow slower, but the people begged of me to keep up the same time, and as he could not dance accordingly, he only moved his body and kept time: at last, after two hours dancing, fell down quite motionless, and I gave over playing. The people took him up and carried him into a house, and put him into a large tub of tepid water, and a surgeon bled him ; while he was bathing, he was let blood in both his hands and feet, and they took from him a great quantity of blood : after that they tied up the orifices, put him in a bed, and gave him a cordial, which they forced down, because the man kept his teeth very close. About five minutes after, he sweated a great deal, and fell asleep, which he did for five or six hours, when he awakened, was perfectly well, only weak from the great loss of blood he had sustained, and four days after, he was entirely recovered, for I saw him walking in the streets, and what is remarkable, that he hardly remembered any thing of what had happened to him ; he never felt any other pains since, nor any one does, except they are bit again by the Tarantula.
This is what I know of the Tarantula, which I hope will satisfy your curiosity, and as you are a great philosopher, may philosophize as you please. I need not make any apology for my bad writing, you must excuse it, considering that it was only to obey your commands : if you have any other, you may dispose of
Sır, Your most humble servant,
6 Of moving accidents, by flood, and field;
Of hair-breadth 'scapes”. In 1777, the ship Wilhelmina, one of the Dutch Greenland feet, was moored to a field of ice on the 22d of June, in the usual fishing station, along with a large fleet of other whalers. On the 25th, the ice having closed rapidly around, the Wilhelmina was closely besei. The pressure of the ice was so great, that the crew was under the necessity of working almost incessantly for eight days, in sa:ving a dock in the field wherein the ship was at that time preserved. . On the 25th of July the ice slacked, and the ship was towed by the boats to the eastward. After four da s laborious rowing, they reached the extremity of the opening, where they joined four ships, all of which were again beset by the ice. Shortly afterwards they were drifted within sight of the coast of Old Greenland, about
the parallel of 75 1-2° north. On the 15th of Angust, nine sail were collected together; and on the 20th, after sustaining a dreadful storm, and being subjected to an immense pressure of the ice, which accumulated around them 20 or 30 feet high, two of the ships were wrecked. Two more were wrecked four or five days afterwards, together with two others at a distance from them. On the 24th, Iceland was in sight: some of the ice was in motion, and two ships seemed to escape. Another was lost on the 7th of Sept., and on the 13th, the Wilhelmina was crushed to pieces, by the fall of an enormous inass of ice, which was so unexpected, that those of the crew who were in bed had scarcely time to escape on the ice half naked as they were. One ship now alone remained, to which the crews of four, and the surviving part of the crew of a fifth, that was wrecked on the 30th of Sept., repaired. By the beginning of October, they had drifted to the latitude of 64o ; and on the 11th, the last ship was overwhelmed by the ice and sunk.
By this termination of the series of their disasters, npwards of 300 men were exposed on the ice, nearly destitute of food and clothing, and without shelter from the inclemencies of the sky. On the 30th of October, they separated : the larger division took to the land, while the remainder suffered themselves to drift with the ice as low as the south point of GreenJand, and then coasting along in their boats. About 140 reached the Danish settlements on the western shore, but
upwards of 200 individuals perished. Imagination can scarcely picture to itself a lengthening chain of severer or more protracted suffering. From the 25th of July to the 30th of October, without reckoning their subsequent miseries, were these unfortunate men helplessly exposed to the horrors of the Frozen Ocean in its most terrific aspect, and during that time were drifted about 1,300 miles.
SAINTS, RELICS, &c. One Barthold Nihusius, a German of the seventeenth century, published a new notion upon the invocation of saints: it was this, that the saints departed live still in respect of their bodies; and, therefore, are to be adored in their relics. Nihusius went further than Rodolphus Goclenius, who affirms, that certain portions of life remain in dead bodies, of which God will form a new body at the resurrection.-(Vide David Christianus, ubi supra.) It is good and pleasant to be informed of such notions, that we may have a fuller view of the extent of the whims and visions of the minds of men. This work is full of them. A certain class of mankind, lively, pre