Thursday, October 20, 2005

Songs from Shakespeare

from the 1911 Book of Knowledge: The Children's Encyclopedia (Grolier)
page 2915

The Fairy Life
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through brier,
Over park, over pale,
Through flood, through fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coat spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a peral in every cowslip's ear.

A Winter Song
from "Love's Labour's Lost"

When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-wit, to-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-wit, to-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel (cool) the pot.

Under the Greenwood Tree
from "As You Like It"

Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me;
And tune his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat.
Come hither, come hither, come hither;
Here shall he see
No enemy,
But winter and rough weather.

Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i' the sun;
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleased with what he gets.
Come hither, come hither, come hither;
Here shall he see
No enemy,
But winter and rough weather.

The Winter Wind
from "King Lear"

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the gree holly;
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot;
Though thou the waters wwarp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friends remembered not.

Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly;
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly;
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

A Fairy Lullaby
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream:

You spotted snakes, with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong;
Come not near our fairy queen.
Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence;
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm, nor snail, do not offence.
Philomel, with melody,
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby;
Never harm, nor spell, nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good-night, with lullaby.

Orpheus and His Lute
from "King Henry VIII"

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain-tops that freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music, plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.

Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or, hearing, die.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Little History of Literature and the Poet Caedmon

"Literature" by Maurice Francis Egan
from the McBride Art and Literature Reader, Book 6, Copyright 1902

Literature is a verbal reflection of life. It is the only means by which we know how mankind in other times lived, thought, and acted. English literature includes all literature written in the English language.

In speaking of American literature, we must remember that it means many writings not in English. In South America and Mexico there are great authors who do not write the English language; and in Canada, which is part of America, there are numbers of writers of the French language deservedly celebrated.

Before the invention of the art of writing, or when only a few wrote, literature was perpetuated by tradition; it was handed down from father to son. Then the memory of man was his library. It is said that the works of Homer were preserved in this manner among the Greeks for five hundred years. Later, symbolical characters, or letters, were impressed on various substances, such as the bark of trees and prepared leaves. About the year 1471, books began to be printed in England, and the monks, who had laboriously preserved great masterpieces of literature by writing and illuminating them with wonderful care and taste, now learned to print by the aid of carved blocks and hand presses. Many of the terms now in use among printers may be traced to the printing-offices of the Benedictine monks, who eagerly made use of the new art. To the care of the monks we owe not only the preservation of the Bible, but of the Greek and Latin classics.

Verse was the earliest form of literature in all languages. The old English poetry was not in rhyme as we understand it. Alliteration and accents were essential.

The language in which the earliest English poems were spoken or sung differs much from the English of today. It was brought from Jutland, or Saxony, by the tribes who landed in Britain and drove the Britons, whom they called Welsh, into Wales and Cornwall, and into the part of France called Brittany. The latter preserve a separate language and literature to this day.

Later the stories of the Britons crept into English literature. The "Tales of King Arthur," on which Tennyson founded his great epic, was British, not Saxon. The Britons left us some Celtic words of domestic import or the names of places: avon and ex (meaning water), cradle, mop, pillow, mattock, crock, kiln, and a few others. Saxons probably married British wives, and hence we have the domestic British terms; but the majority of the Britons fled, leaving the land to the Saxon conqueror and his language.

The first English poems and the epic "Beowulf" were doubtless composed long before the seventh century, and taken from the Continent to England in the memory of Saxon bards. "Beowulf" was reduced to writing in the eighth century by a monk of Northumbria. "The Song of the Traveler," the earliest poem, enumerates the singer's experiences with the Goths. "Deor's Complaint" is a sad story of one who is made a beggar by war; it speaks of dumb submission to the gods.

"The Fight at Finnsburg" and "Waldhere" are, with "Beowulf," all the poems or parts of poems brought to England from the homes of the Saxons.

These fragments and the epic of "Beowulf" may be studied with the help of an Anglo-Saxon grammar. "Beowulf" is the story of a ferocious monster called Grendel. It was sung in parts, by the warriors at their feasts, each chanting a part. This monster, Grendel, like the dragons of the fairy tales, had the habit of eating human flesh. He harassed Hrothgar, Thane of Jutland, appearing in the banquet hall and devouring any guest that suited his fancy.

Beowful of Sweden sails to Jutland to assist the unfortunate king, and succeeds in killing the monster. "Beowulf," however, no more shows the worst spirit of the Saxon pagan than Sir Edwin Arnold's poem, "The Light of Asia," shows the selfishness of Buddhism. The Northumbrian Christian who transcribed it in 3,184 alliterative lines put the mark of his finer and gentler thoughts upon it.

To understand something of the spirit of the Teutonic tribes that began to make England, one might read Longfellow's Skeleton in Armor, and the Invasion, by Gerald Griffin, and Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. In the last occurs the famous dialogue between Gurth and Wamba on the growth of the Norman, or corrupt Latin, element in the English language.

About the year 670, the first entirely English poem was written by Caedmon. It is a poetical paraphrase of the Old and New Testaments. It was written in Yorkshore, on a wind-swept cliff, in the abbey presided over by St. Hilda, a religious of noble blood. Caedmon was an elderly servant of the abbey, and when, after the feast, he was called on to sing in his turn, over his cup of mead, with the other servants, he refused because he had heard no songs that were not of cruelty and in praise of evil passions.

One night he crept away from the table, sad because the others jeered at him, and went to sleep in the cow-shed; and a voice in his dream said to him, "Sing me a song!" Caedmon answered that he could not sing; for that reason he had left the feast.

"You must sing!" said the voice. "Sing the beginning of created things."

Caedmon sang some lines in his sleep about God and the creation. He remembered these lines when he awoke. The Abbess Hilda, believing that his gift must come from God, had him taught sacred history, and he became a monk.

Caedmon's paraphrases are full of the poet's individuality. His description of the unholy triumph of Satan, when he succeeds in tempting Eve, is as striking as any passage in Milton's poem Paradise Lost, on the same subject. Caedmon's simplicity, naturalness, and deep religious feeling cause this ancient poem to be read and quoted by scholars today. It is said that the author died in 680 - a date which is also given as that of the death of St. Hilda, his friend and patroness. Caedmon gave the English a taste for the Old and New Testament. Caedmon's poems suggested to Milton the great epic, Paradise Lost.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Measuring the Height of a Tree

There is a very easy way to measure the height of a wall, or a tree, or a church spire, that any boy or girl can use if he or she can do a sum in simple proportion. It is necessary that the sun should be shining at the time - that is all. Suppose that we have a tree, and the sun is shining, then the shadow of the tree is cast on the ground.

We must measure the distance from the extreme point of the shadow to the place right under the top of the tree. If the top point of the tree is right above the middle of the trunk, then we must calculate half the diameter of the trunk in making our measurements. Suppose that the distance from the point of the shadow to the trunk of the tree is 40 feet, and that the tree is 2 feet thick, then the total distance is 41 feet (40 feet plus half the diameter of the tree).

Now we take a stick, of which we know the exact length. Suppose that it is three feet long. We hold this upright with one end on the ground and notice how far its shadow extends. Then we measure the length of the stick's shadow, and perhaps find that it is 6 feet long. Now we multiply the length of the tree's shadow (41 feet) by the length of the stick (3 feet), and divide by the length of the stick's shadow (6 feet). The answer we get is 20 1/2, and we know that the tree is 20 1/2 feet high.

If we get odd inches in our measurements, we can work the sum out in inches instead of in feet. We can also get the answer - though not quite so correctly - by seeing how many steps it takes to go from the edge of the shadow to the tree, being careful to make our steps as nearly uniform as we can. Then, by measuring the length of one step, we can multiply its length by the number of steps, and find the distance. But in any measurement, whether it be a tree, or a church, or a wall, we must make sure that we take the distance to a point immediately under the highest point, so that if it be a church spire, for instance, we must make allowance for the distance between the wall up to which we measure and the centre of the church tower.

from the 1911 Book of Knowledge: The Children's Encyclopedia (Grolier)
page 1927

The Race from Marathon

from the 1911 Book of Knowledge: The Children's Encyclopedia (Grolier)
page 1803

"Rejoice, we conquer!" Gasping out these words as joyfully as his parched tongue can utter them, a poor worn-out youth drops lifeless into the arms of those Athenians who have hurried out of their city to learn his tidings. His faint whisper goes from mouth to mouth, and is passed on throughout an anxious city, quickening the pulses of the citizens until they lose themselves in an outburst of thanksgiving and rejoicing.

The story of this victory is one of the most thrilling the world has ever known. It takes us back over 2,000 years to one of the first decisive battles in the world's history. Darius, the Mede, has made himself master of Asia, and, angry at some interference on the part of some little Greek state, he assembles his picked soldiers, summons the various tribes who own his sway, and sails over the Aegean Sea to conquer and enthrall those little Greek states of whose skill in peace and war reports have reached him.

Athens is the first large city in the path of his hitherto unconquered hosts, and the Athenians feel the need of aid from the famous Spartans, whose state lay 120 miles to the south across the Isthmus of Corinth. The army of the Medes and Persians are fast approaching, and their city will soon be infested. How are the Spartans to arrive in time? The rulers of Athens, seated in grave council on the Acropolis, send for Pheidippides, their champion runner, who has won for his state the myrtle crown at the famous Olympic games held by the Greek states every five years. They command him to run and urge Sparta to come to their aid. And for two days and two nights Pheidippides runs, swimming the rivers and climbing the mountains in his path.

But the Spartans were envious and mistrustful of Athens. Though brave and fearless, they lacked intelligence; and besides, they were a very superstitious people, and so Pheidippides was sent hurrying back with the news that their army would come, but could not start until the full moon.

Pheidippides races back to Athens again. The Athenians were now thrown on their own resources. The Persians had landed and the Athenians resolved to oppose them at once. The weary but dauntless Pheidippides takes his long spear and his heavy shield, and marches with the 10,000 picked men to meet the foe. We read elsewhere of the famous battle of Marathon and how these 10,000 Greeks drove back hundreds of thousands of Medes and Persians; this story is of Pheidippides.

Marathon was fought and won, and the victorious Greeks called to Pheidippides to take the news to the capital. He flung down his shield, and ran like fire the long twenty-six miles to Athens. Then, bursting into the city, he fell and died, gasping as he fell the two Greek words which mean "Rejoice, we conquer!"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Spacious Firmament by Joseph Addison

[It's funny because we just came across a part of this poem in the lastest installment of The Happy Little Family series from Bethlehem Books.]

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display;
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale;
And, nightly, to the listening earth,
Repeats the story of her birth:
Whilst all the stars that round her burn
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though, in solemn silence all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball;
What though no real voice, nor sound,
Amidst their radiant orbs be found?
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice:
Forever singing as they shine,
"The hand that made us is Divine."

Joseph Addison, a famous English writer, an essayist, a poet, a dramatist, and a statesman, was born in 1672 and died in 1719. He received the chief part of his school education at the "Charter House" and at "Queen's College." He is best known for his famous essays published in the Spectator, the Guardian, and the Tattler. His poem, "Peace of Ryswick," published in 1697, brought him a hundred pounds.

His essays are considered models of diction and are read by all who wish to acquire a polished style in writing.

from The Art and Literature Reader, Book 4, Copyright 1904

A Clever and Amusing Word Game

from the 1911 Book of Knowledge: The Children's Encyclopedia (Grolier)
page 2970

The game of doublets is an interesting word game that gives plenty of scope for skill and ingenuity, and enables us to exercise our memories and to make good use of our knowledge of words. Two words are chosen, each containing the same number of letters, and the words should be either of quite opposite meaning, as wrong and right, black and white, good and evil, rise and fall, and so on, or they should stand for things quite different from one another, as wood and iron, butter and cheese, soap and grease.

The game is to change one word into the other by changing only one letter at a time, and making a chain of words between the doublets. Two or three examples will make the method clear.








It will be seen by these examples that only one letter is altered in each word to make the next, and every change makes an actual dictionary word. It is not allowable to make a change of a letter that will produce something that is not a real word. For instance, we might have changed beef into pork like this: beef, boef, boek, bork, pork. That, of course, would be wrong, as no such words as boef, boek, bork, exist.

Then the transformation from one word to the other must be made with as few changes as possible. In changing from black to white we might have proceeded like this: black, block, clock, click, chick, thick, think, thine whine, white; but here we make eight words in between, and not more than seven are needed.

It must, of course, be understood that in changing one letter to make a new word in the chain, the substituted letter must occupy exactly the same position in the new word that the discarded letter did in the old word. Thus we can change bean into bran, but not into barn, for e being the second letter in bean, r must be the second letter in the new word, as it is in bran.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Names of Our Lady by Adelaide A. Procter

from the Art and Literature Reader, Book 4, copyright 1904

Through the wide world thy children raise
Their prayers, and still we see
Calm are the nights and bright the days
Of those who trust in thee.

Around thy starry crown are wreathed
So many names divine;
Which is the dearest to my heart,
And the most worthy thine?

Star of the Sea! we kneel and pray
When tempests raise their voice;
Star of the Sea! the haven reached,
We call thee and rejoice.

Help of the Christian! in our need
Thy might aid we claim;
If we are faint and weary, then
We trust in that dear name.

Our Lady of the Rosary!
What name can be so sweet
As what we call thee when we place
Our chaplet at thy feet.

Bright Queen of Heaven! when we are sad,
Best solace of our pains;-
It tells us of the badge we wear,
To live and die thine own.

Our Lady dear of Victories!
We see our faith oppressed,
And, praying for our erring land,
We love that name the best.

Refuge of Sinners! many a soul,
By guilt cast down, and sin,
Has learned through this dear name of thine
Pardon and peace to win.

Health of the Sick! when anxious hearts
Watch by the sufferer's bed,
On this sweet name of thine we lean,
Consoled and comforted.

Mother of Sorrows! many a heart
Half-broken by despair
Has laid its burden by the cross
And found a mother there.

Queen of all Saints! the Church appeals
For her loved dead to thee;
She knows they wait in patient pain
A bright eternity.

Fair Queen of Virgins! thy pure band
The lilies round thy throne,
Love the dear title, which they bear,
Most that it is thine own.

True Queen of Martyrs! if we shrink
From want, or pain, or woe,
We think of the sharp sword that pierced
Thy heart, and call thee so.

Mary! the dearest name of all,
The holiest and the best;
The first low word that Jesus lisped
Laid on His mother's breast.

Mary! the name that Gabriel spoke,
The name that conquers hell;
Mary! the name that through high heaven
The angels love so well.

Mary! our comfort and our hope,-
O may that word be given
To be the last we sigh on earth,
The first we breathe in heaven.

Adelaide Anne Procter, an English poet, was born in London, October 30, 1852; died in London, February 3, 1864. She was a daughter of the writer Bryan Walter Procter (Barry Cornwall). Her poetry is popular and some of her poems have been translated into several languages. Her first published articles appeared in a magazine edited by Charles Dickens. In the year 1851 she became a Catholic, and from that time on her writings show her bent of mind, the desire to do all things possible for God.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"The Rose - Love of Our Neighbor" XIV Kindheartedness

from The Catholic Girl's Guide, Benziger Brothers, copyright 1905

1. Kindheartedness - a beautiful, delightful word, a word which expresses one of the most pleasing qualities that anybody, and especially a young girl, can possess. You ought therefore to be kindhearted, and this signifies nothing else than that the fair rose of a real love of your neighbor should find a place in the wreath of flowers which adorns your youthful brow; this again means that you ought to practice as perfectly as possible the second great commandment of the law: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

All men are comprised in the word "neighbor," but it refers more especially to your parents, your confessor, your friends, all the poor and afflicted, and also your enemies. You should show yourself to be kindhearted in regard to them all. I shall proceed to give you some practical suggestions upon this subject.

2. Shortly before He left the earth Our Lord said to His disciples: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." Thus we see that brotherly love and kindness of heart are characteristics of the followers of Christ. You must therefore be kindhearted if you wish to be reckoned among His followers; and if you possess this essential qualification, you will rejoice with the joyful, weep with the sorrowful, soothe miseries, relieve distresses, bear wrongs patiently and repay ingratitude with love. Thus will you most nearly resemble God, who is love and whose actions are always beneficient, and you will be universally beloved and regarded as an angel of peace. But, my daughter, you must be careful to expel from your heart all passion and selfishness, since only by so doing can you attain real kindness of heart.

3. Kindness of heart will render you courteous and polite in your intercourse with others, yet necessary prudence and circumspection must not be lost sight of.

The feminine heart is naturally tender and sympathetic, easily moved to take part in the sorrows and joys of others. In accordance with this natural disposition, and also as a disciple of Jesus Christ, the truly pious maiden is always gentle and loving. Tears fill her eyes at the mere recital of the afflictions of others, and when she perceives that those around are weeping, she mingles her tears with theirs. She is ever ready to console, to succor, to infuse sweetness into the bitter cup of life as far, at least, as it lies in her power to do all this. She reconciles those who are at enmity, she bears with the eccentric and faultfinding, and should all her kind efforts fail, she prefers to put up with everything rather than to indulge in wrangling and bitter complaints.

4. If you, being filled with this kindness of heart, engage in works of mercy, how rich a harvest will you reap one day! The recollection of the charitable actions you have performed will fill you with interior happiness, and thus you will have a reward more precious than all the riches and pleasures of this world. How delightful will it be to say to yourself: "I have dried the tears of many who were in affliction; by means of the small sums I was able to contribute, I have been instrumental in bringing many souls to the knowledge of the true faith and therefore to eternal salvation, and in delivering many a suffering soul from the flames of purgatory." Therefore it is written in the pages of Holy Scripture: "It is a more blessed thing to give, rather than to receive."

5. The kindness you show to your neighbor will, moreover, encourage him to place more implicity confidence in God and to feel greater gratitude toward Him. It frequently happens that when anyone is visited with a succession of trials he becomes discouraged, and begins to lose his faith and his trust in divine providence. It is only the hand of a truly kind person, who has already succored him in his hour of need, that has power to draw him back from the abyss of despair; it is only the belief in kindness and sympathy that can avail to console him. The thought of all this kindness seems to whisper in his ear: "Take courage, God has not forsaken you. He has moved your friend to take pity on you and come to your assistance. He will find a way to succor you still further."

6. The good effect of this kindness of heart is strikingly shown in the following instance. A Protestant paid a visit upon a certain occasion to a large Paris hospital. Among the many unfortunate beings whom the institution always shelters within its walls there happened just then to be a sick man whose wretched plight was indescribably sad. Almost an idiot, ailing from his birth, a terrible and protracted disease had deprived him of both arms and legs. This pitiable creature appeared scarcely human. Mental deficiency and physical pain had rendered him so irritable that the slightest provocation caused him to break out into screams of rage.

The visitor was shocked at the spectacle, but his horror gave way speedily to amazement. He saw a Sister of Charity kneel down by the bed of the miserable creature and pay him every thoughtful attention. "Sister," exclaimed the stranger, "how can you be so cheerful while waiting on this repulsive object, the mere sight of whom fills me with horror?" "He is the one we love best in all the house," replied the Sister, "and because he is so dreadfully afflicted and naturally so repulsive, we all love him better than our other invalids."

This extreme charity and tenderness deeply impressed the Protestant. He entered into himself, and shortly afterward he became a child of that Church which possesses such power to inspire such unselfish devotion, such heroic sacrifice.

7. Strive therefore to be truly kindhearted. Help others in their necessities, for if you do you may confidently expect that God will not forget you in your time of need. The Royal Psalmist has said: "Blessed is he that understandeth concerning the needy and the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the evil day." And Solomon teaches us in the Book of Proverbs: "He who confers benefits upon others will himself receive many, and he who gives much, to him shall much be given."

But what are all earthly gifts in comparison with the sweet celestial peace, the abundant grace, the eternal reward which will assuredly be the portion of the maiden who exercises this kindness of heart in its truest, highest sense! Listen to the Saviour's words: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." And again: "Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to Me."

He only acts a Christian part
Whose breast with love doth glow:
Rejoicing with the glad of heart,
Feeling with others' woe.

Once again, my child, I exhort you to strive after the attainment of this kindness of heart, and in the exercise of it you will become ever more and more like unto Himm, who is infinitely merciful, who is eternal charity. Strive to be like unto Jesus, who went about doing good to all.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thomas Alva Edison

from the 1911 Book of Knowledge: The Children's Encyclopedia (Grolier)

We have just been to a picture show, perhaps, and have laughed ourselves weary over the funny things we have seen; or perhaps we have watched the telegraph operator tick out our message to a friend who lives hundreds of miles away; or perhaps we have been trying out some new records of the latest songs on our phonograph and, the dusk closing in about us, we have switched on the electric light to enable us to see in picking out the records. We take all these things - the telegraph instrument, the moving picture machine, the electric light, so very much for granted that probably it has never occurred to us to wonder how we got them. And yet we hear the name of their inventor - Thomas Alva Edison, the "Modern day Wizard" - a half a dozen times a month.

It is Thomas Edison to whom we owe the phonograph, the perfection of the telegraph, of the electric light, of the megaphone, of the electric train, of the moving picture machine, and half a hundred other things which it seems that we could not do without. Thomas Edison is looked upon as the greatest inventor of the present century; he has a half a dozen or more factories engaged in making his inventions alone; scarcely a month passes in which he does not take out a patent in Washington, and from all parts of the world men come to seek the presence of the Master.

And yet Thomas Alva Edison, great as an inventor, is remarkably simple as a man. Some sixty odd years ago he began life as a poor boy in a little Ohio town. He went to school for only two months in his life, but his mother, who had been a school teacher, taught him her little fund of knowledge, and, what was more important, taught him something he might never have learned in school, namely, to think for himself.

A Newsboy on the Train

As a boy he did not seem remarkably unlike other lads of his age. When he was seven he began to sell newspapers on the Grand Trunk Railroad in Michigan. His train left Port Huron at 7 a.m. and made its southward trip to Detroit in about three hours. This gave a stay in that city from 10 a.m. until late afternoon. In those days no use was made of the smoking compartment, as there was no ventilation, and it was turned over to young Edison, who not only kept papers there, but soon had it fitted up as a laboratory, where he spent every spare moment fussing with chemicals, joyously absorbed in "inventing" things. Here in this eager-eyed newsboy was the born inventor.

One day a catastrophe occurred. The train which was running at thirty miles an hour over a piece of poorly laid track, was thrown suddenly aside with a violent lurch, and before young Edison could catch it, a stick of phosphorus was jarred from its shelf, fell to the floor and burst into flame. The car took fire, and the boy, in dismay, was still trying to quench the blaze when the conductor, a quick-tempered Scotchman, who acted also as a baggage-master, hastened to the scene with water and saved his car.

On the arrival at Mount Clemens, its next stop, the young inventor and his entire outfit, laboratory and all, were promptly ejected by the outraged conductor, and the train then moved off, leaving Edison on the platform, tearful and indignant, in the midst of his beloved but ruined possessions.

It was through this incident that Edison acquired the deafness that has persisted all through his life, a severe box of the ears from the scorched and angry conductor being the direct cause of his infirmity.

The Boy Proves Himself a Hero

But soon Edison was back at work again. The train on which he sold papers did way-freight work and shunting at Mount Clemens Station. One warm August in 1862, while the shunting was under way, young Edison was loitering about the platform, his glazed cap pulled low down over his eyes to keep out the glare of the sun. His glance wandered idly down the tracks where a train was rapidly approaching.

Suddenly all his languor vanished. With a breathless exclamation he dashed his cap and papers on the ground and tore down the main track. A little boy was playing in front of the on-coming train. Edison caught the child by the waist and rolled to one side - not a moment too soon, for the wheel of the car struck his heel. The two boys were picked up by the frightened train hands and carried to the platform, but though cut and bruised, both were quite safe. The grateful father, who was the station-master at Mount Clemens, unable to reward Edison financially, at once offered to teach the boy the art of train telegraphy. It is needless to say the proposal was eagerly accepted.

The Young Telegraph Operator

Edison first obtained regular employment as a telegraph oeprator at Indianapolis when he was eighteen years old. He received a small salary for day-work in the railroad office there, and at night he used to receive newspaper reports for practice.

"The regular operator was a man given to copious libations, who was glad enough to sleep off their effects while Edison and a young friend of his did the work."

But even in the earlier days of his career as a telegraph operator, Edison was more of an inventor than anything else.

"Anything connected with the difficulties of telegraphy had a fascination for him. He lost many a place because of unpardonable blunders due to his passion for improvement. At Indianapolis he kept reports waiting while he experimented with new devices for receiving them. At Louisville, in procuring some sulphuric acid at night for his experiments, he tipped over a carboy of it, ruining the handsome outfit of a banking establishment below. At Cincinnati he abandoned the office on every pretext to hasten to the Mechanics' Library to pass his day in reading."

At Stratford, Canada, being required to report the word "Six" every half hour to the manager to show that he was awake and on duty, he rigged up a wheel to do it for him.

The Young Inventor

Edison was once asked what was his first invention.

"Well," said he in reply, "my first appearance at the Patent Office was in 1868, when I was twenty-one, with an ingenious contrivance which I called the electrical vote recorder. I had been impressed with the enormous waste of time in Congress and the State legislatures by the taking of votes. More than half an hour was sometimes required to count the 'Ayes' and 'Noes'.

So I devised a machine somewhat on the plan of the hotel annunciator. In front of each member's desk were to have been two buttons, one for 'Aye' and the other for 'No' and by the side of the Speaker's desk a frame with two dials, one showing the total of 'Ayes' and the other the total of 'Noes.'

When the vote was called for, each member could press the button he wished and the result would appear automatically before the Speaker, who could glance at the dials and announce the result.

I thought my fortune was made. I interested a moneyed man in the thing and we went together to Washington, where we soon found the right man to get the machine adopted. Imagine my feelings when, in a horrified tone, the man exclaimed: 'Young man, that won't do at all! That is just what we do not want. Your invention would destroy the only hope the minority have of influencing legislation.' I saw the force of his remarks, and the vote recorder got no further than the Patent Office."

Edison obtained his first large money returns from the sale of an improvement of the instruments used to record stock broker's quotations, commonly known as "tickers." His success in this brought a contract to manufacture some hundreds of "tickers," and this adventure into the manufacturing line he carried through with some success. Yet, in speaking of it afterward, he said, "I was a poor manufacturer, because I could not let well enough alone. My first impulse upon taking any apparatus into my hand, from an egg-beater to an electric-motor, is to seek a way of improving it. Therefore, as soon as I have finished a machine I am anxious to take it apart again in order to make an experiment. That is a costly mania for a manufacturer."

It was Edison's success with the "tickers" that induced several New York capitalists to accept his offer to experiment with the incandescent electric light, they to pay all expenses and to share in the profits of the invention. Edison retired to Menlo Park, about twenty-five miles beyond Newark, N.J., to work out his invention. Patiently he experimented and re-experimented. At one time all the lights he had started burning suddenly went out, one after the other. Edison was stunned by the catastrophe. He began a series of exciting and exhaustive experiments. For five days he remained day and night at the laboratory. His eyes grew weak, studying the brilliant glow of the electric light. He could not sleep, for the moment he closed his eyes a dozen new tests for the lamp suggested themselves.

To add to the discomfiture of the inventor, a professor of physics in one of the well-known colleges declared in a newspaper article that the Edison lamp would never last long enough to pay for itself.

"I'll make a statue of that man," said Edison, grimly, "and I'll light it brilliantly with Edison lamps and inscribe it: 'This is the man who said the Edison lamp would not burn.'"

Such persistency would not fail to win out. With the perfection of the incandescent lamp came the formation of the Edison General Electric Company, involving the consolidation of the immediate Edison manufacturing interests in electric light. Today this company employs from twenty to twenty-five thousand people.

The Phonograph

When Edison was barely thirty years old he astounded the world by inventing the phonograph. He had a large laboratory now with a staff of men working under his directions. One day he draughted a sketch and gave it to a workman to make up into a machine. When the workman, who was a German named John Kruesi, brought the completed machine to him, Edison announced that he was going to record talking and then have the instrument give it back.

"To me it seems most absurd," shrugged Kruesi.

Edison bent over the machine and shouted lustily:

"Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went
That lamb was sure to go."

Then he adjusted the reproducer.

"Mary had a little lamb," the machine announced squeakily For a moment even Edison himself was taken aback. John Kruesi looked at the simple little instrument with an awe-struck face.

"Mein Gott in Himmel!" he ejaculated.

But this first phonograph was a very crude machine in comparison to the one we have now and Edison and his experimenting force worked over it for years before he could find a substance just suited for the making of a perfect cylinder.

"We started out using soft wax," said Edison, "but that was too soft. Then we tried every kind of wax and hardening substance. We invented new waxes. There was something objectionable about all of them. Then somebody said something about soap. That worked better, but it wasn't what we wanted. I had seven men scouring India, China, Africa everywhere, for new vegetable bases for new soaps. After five years we got what we wanted, and worked out the records that we use today. They are made of soap - too hard to wash with and unlike any other in use, but soap just the same."

The Electric Railroad

The electric train such as is used on the New York Central Railroad now is not the least of Edison's gifts to the world. When Mr. Villard of the Northern Pacific Railroad asked Mr. Edison if he could invent some way of running that road by electricity, Edison replied: "Certainly, but it is too easy for me to undertake; you can get someone else to do it."

"But I want you to tackle the problem," Mr. Villard insisted.

Once at work, however, Edison threw himself into the project in his usual whole-souled way. He invented a scheme of a third rail and shoe, and erected it in the yard of his new home in Orange. One day Edison asked some mechanical engineers down to see the road in operation. He invited them to take a trip in his new engine. Not without reluctance the gentlemen mounted the cab of the queer little machine and Edison started off at full speed, up hill and down dale and around sharp curves at the rate of forty miles an hour.

"When we go back, I am going to walk," remarked one of the visitors, trying to be casual. When the train gave an unusual lurch, one of the other gentlemen feebly protested at the rate of the speed over the sharp curves. Edison, absorbed and delighted in the engine, replied confidently, "No, no, it's all right. We've done it often." Just then the train gave an extra large bump, jumped the track, hurling all the occupants save Edison, helter skelter in every direction. "Edison was off in a minute, jumping and laughing, and declaring it a most beautiful accident."

His German assistant, Kruesi, his face cut and bleeding, regarded him woefully from where he sat in a clump of bushes. "Oh, yes, it is pairfeckly safe!" he remarked sarcastically. Fortunately no severe damage was done and in a few moments they had the train on the track again in running condition, but it is not recorded that the visitor rode back.

The Master Inventor

So step by step Edison mounted up the ladder of invention until he became generally recognised as the "Modern Wizard." He made machines for the crushing and grinding down of mine ore; he entered the cement business and placed the finest, hardest cement in the world on the market, and conceived the idea of houses of cement poured into iron molds, which should be fireproof, waterproof and vermin proof, and all this at very moderate cost; he produced the motion-picture machine; he developed his wonderful Edison storage battery for street car propulsion. And these are but a few among the dozens of well-known inventions that have placed the world forever in the debt of this great Master Inventor.

His influence in the development of manufacturing interests of our country has been enormous. And what has been at the bottom of this man's marvellous success in whatsoever he undertakes? A strong body, a clear and active mind, a wide imagination, a capacity for great mental and physical concentration, an iron nervous system, intense optimism, courageous self-confidence and indomitable persistence.

"Edison moves among his complicated series of shops and experiments with such energy and yet such a seeming lack of order that he is the despair of all the men who try to analyse him. To see him moving through his great laboratories, head bowed, hands in pockets, his face set in an expression of intense mental preoccupation, his hair carelessly combed whichever way it may please it to fall, his eyes focused miles away except when he flashes into someone else's a look of instant understanding, his whole appearance, except for the eyes and the humourous yet grim mouth, is that of a dreamer rather than a tireless worker."

"Nearly every man who develops a new idea," says Mr. Edison himself, "works it up to a point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to get discouraged, that's the place to get interested. I can't recall a single problem in my life, of any sort, that I ever started on that I didn't solve, or prove that I couldn't solve it. I never let up until I had done everything that I could think of, no matter how absurd it might seem."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Men Who Found Electricity - Part Four

The Danish Professor Who Turned the Compass from the North

Now we must think for a moment of magnets. They had long been made. Soft iron could be magnetised by rubbing the loadstone upon it, but magnets like these soon lost their magnetism. Steel, after being magnetised by the loadstone, does not lose its magnetism. Once a magnet, always a magnet, with the hard steel. Now, many clever men had been wondering if there might not be some connection between magnetism and electricity, and Professor Oersted, a Danish scientist, living at Copenhagen, found, in 1820, that by passing an electric current from a Voltaic battery through a wire he could alter the position of the magnetic needle.

The magnetic needle is the little steel pointer of the compass which, when not interfered with, points to the north. Oersted found that, though the whole earth is one vast magnet, its power to attract the magnetic needle to the north is not great enough to prevent the point of the needle from being drawn aside by a strong electric current. Oersted showed that when the wire bearing the electric current is placed over the needle, the needle turns its head from the north to the east, but that if the wire be placed underneath the needle, the needle turns its head to the west.

What Oersted did sounds an interesting trick for a conjurer to do, but see what the effect of it was. The fact that an electric current turns the magnet is the beginning of the power which enables us to have telegraphs and telephones, and to do all the work of which the marvellous electric current is capable. Oersted had opened the door to the great field of discovery in what we call electro-magnetism. But the discovery did not remain there, or it would have been of no use to mankind.

Michael Faraday, The Blacksmith's Son Who Helped to Change the World

It remained for one of the finest English sons of science to carry the work to perfection. This was Michael Faraday, who was born in 1791, the son of a poor London blacksmith. After very little schooling he was aprenticed to a bookbinder, and after working hard all day he would study science at night. One day a gentleman, on entering the shop, found the boy at work binding an encyclopaedia, and studying hard at the article in it on electricity.

The gentleman was surprised to see a boy so interested in a subject of such difficulty, and questioned him. He found that Faraday, working late at night, had already been making experiments of his own, though he was too poor to possess anything but an old bottle for his battery. The visitor was so pleased that he gave him four tickets for the lectures which Sir Humphry Davy was then delivering at the Royal Institution. Faraday was as pleased as if anybody had given him a fortune. He went to the lectures. He made notes of what he heard, and then at the end of the lectures he went, in fear and trembling, to the great man and showed him his notes.

Davy was surprised to see what the poor boy had done. But he remembered how poor he himself had been as a boy, and how he had had to struggle to educate himself, and his heart warmed towards the humble apprentice. Faraday told him that he wanted to be a scientist, and Davy, after doing all that he could to test his faith, had the boy appointed as his own assistant.

He helped him in his education, he took him on the Continent and let him make numberless experiments, and in course of time, when Faraday had grown up and become famous for his work in science, he succeeded the great man who had been so good a friend to him.

Faraday's life was a long, beautiful story of good and wonderful achievements. He did more for scientific learning than any other man of his day. His lectures and writings were upon the most difficult subjects, yet he wrote and talked so simply that even children could understand him and find delight in his words. All that he did for science is too much for us to talk of here; but the thing which we have to note is one of his wonderful discoveries concerning electicity and magnetism. Oersted had found that the electric current will turn the magnetic needle. Faraday worked until he discovered that the magnet will electrify wire through which no current is passing! That clearly established the relationship between magnetism and electricity.

The result of this was of great importance. It meant that men no longer had to depend upon the small current of electricity which was chemically produced in jars or batteries. First of all we have a coil of wire which, when electrified and placed near a magnet, itself becomes a magnet, with a north pole and a south pole, the north pole of the wire being attracted by the south pole of the magnet, and the south pole of the wire being attracted by the north pole of the magnet; while the north pole of the magnet drives away the north pole of the electrified wire, and the south pole of the magnet drives away the south pole of the wire.

But we can make the north and south poles of the wire change places. If we send the current in by one end, then the front of the wire is the north pole; if we send the current in by the other end of the wire, then the back part of the wire becomes the north pole. The moment the current is turned of, or the connection is broken, as we say, the coil of wire ceases to be a magnet.

William Sturgess, in 1825, made an electro-magnet of the highest value. He found that if we take a piece of soft iron and wrap wire about it, it becomes a far more powerful magnet, when electrified, than the ordinary magnet itself, and of course it can be made a magnet or not a magnet as often as we turn the current on or off. That gives us a powerful magnet which, as we have seen, can electrify any other coil of wire brought near it.

Faraday, working on, found that the coil of wire, on coming near the magnet, passed through what he called lines of force - certain avenues through which the magnetic influence is travelling. Therefore the more often that the coil passed through these lines of force the more often would it feel the effects.

The next step, therefore, was to make a coil of wire which was attached at its ends to a revolving wheel. The coil, by turning round rapidly, received repeated impulses from the magnet. The current set up in this coil can be led away by wires into a receiver and stored, to eb sent over wires hundreds or thousands of miles long, to do all manner of work, as often as it is wanted.

The use of the electro-magnet eneables us to et force for driving engines, for telegraphing and telephoning, for lifting huge weights, and for all sorts of work. It is perfectly obedient, for the electric current which controls it can be turned on or off at any moment. The greatest part of the foundations of electric science had now been laid. All that remianed was to apply to practical purposes the knowledge which these first workers had given the world.

Long intervals passed before we could take advantage of all the theories. The electric telegraph dates from about 1837; the cables under the sea from 1852, electric bells from about 1855, the telephone and electric light from about 1878. It was possible by 1883 to produce electricity in sufficient quantities to sell it like gas to people who wished to use it. In the same year the first electric trolleys began to run, and electric railways appeared in 1892.

Wireless telegraphy was known in its first stages long ago, but it was not until 1899 that it could be used. One of the most brilliant electricians was Lord Kelvin, who died only in 1907. He used to be Mr. William Thompson, but Queen Victoria honoured him by making him Lord Kelvin. We shall read more about him on another page.

So, from the rubbing of amber to make it attract chaff and pieces of straw, men got to friction machines and excited stockings; from that to the Leyden jar, and so on to the Voltaic pile and cell and battery; then on to the electro-magnet and the great dynamos, which use up the knowledge of the men who discovered electro-magnetism, and produce electricity enough to do half the work of the world.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Men Who Found Electricity - Part Three

The Wonderful Things Sir William Watson did with Two Leyden Jars

The Leyden jar, though first made in Holland, was made perfect in England by Sir William Watson, another genius of those early days. Watson was a poor tradesman's son, and was born in London, in 1715. Apprenticed to a chemist, he loved science, and when he had made enough money to live on he gave himself wholly to science. He improved the Leyden jar by covering it inside and out with tinfoil. This had important results. He used wires for carrying the current from one Leyden jar to another Leyden jar. Sending the current along the wire, he found that it gave a shock to the person holding the far end of the wire, two miles away, practically at the very instant at which it was released from the Leyden jar.

This proved that the action of electricity is instantaneous - a most important thing, as it afterwards proved in telegraphy.

More wonders Sir William did with the mysterious force. He electrified a piece of ice, and with that set fire to spirits. He did the same with a drop of water which had been electrified. He fired the gunpowder in a gun with an electric spark, and showed many pwoers of electricity which had never before been suspected.

By this time the world was getting to know a great many things that electricity could be made to do, but they still knew nothing of its nature.

Benjamin Franklin, Who Helped to Free America and to Find Electric Power

There was living in America one of the greatest men the world has seen, Benjamin Franklin, the man who first captured fire from the sky and brought it to the ground. He was born at Boston, Massachusetts, in 1706, and began his career, with very little schooling, in a small printing office of one of his brothers. He was very poor, but he had a splendid brain, and never troubled about being short of money. He educated himself entirely by his own efforts. He was first a printer, going to London to learn what he could there, then setting up in business for himself in Philadelphia.

So famous did he become that he was chosen by his countrymen to go to England as their representative. War was about to break out between Great Britain and the American colonies, and he did all that he could to prevent it. Seeing that his efforts were hopeless, he returned to America, where he found that the war had already broken out. He became a leading member of the Government which helped to give America her freedom from British control, and then was sent to France as Ambassador to gain the support of that country against England. After all, he had the delight of opening the arrangements which led to peace between England and America.

The last thing he did in public life was to make a prayer to the American Government against slavery in the United States. That prayer of his was not to be answered until many a year after he had been in the grave.

So much for his public life. The more important thing for us here, however, is what he did with electricity.

How Benjamin Franklin Sent Up a Kite to Bring the Lightning Down

In the midst of all his work he had time to study and make experiments, so that he was honoured all over the world for his knowledge about the tides and the weather, about colours, and, most of all, about electricity. He was one of the men who suspected that lightning and electricity are one and the same thing. But Franklin was not content to remain guessing; he put his belief to the proof. He made a kite of silk, and on the top of it he fixed a thin wire.

He tied a string to the kite, but near his hand he attached a silk ribbon to the string, and where the string and ribbon joined he fixed a metal key. Then one day, when a thunderstorm broke over his home, he sent up his kite into a thundercloud, and waited in a doorway to watch the result.

He had printed a statement expressing the belief that everything that had been done with electricity was no more than was to observed in lightning. Now had come the hour when he was to make his reputation as a scientist secure, or be laughed at by the whole world. He was very anxious as he stood and waited in the doorway with his son.

The first thundercloud passed without any sign at all, and Franklin feared. A second came over the kite, and he now saw that little loose strands of the string stood out stiff and bristling. He put his finger towards them, and they were attracted towards it. He placed his finger on the key, and instantly he felt a shock and saw an electric spark. Rain fell now and wetted the string of the kite, and electricity ran down the moistened string, and was so abundant that he was able to fill his Leyden jar from the key.

He had proved that lightning is electricity. He made other trials, and found that some clouds are charged with positive electricity and some with negative electricity, exactly in the same way as in the electricity produced by different bodies on earth. No sooner had he made sure of his facts than he set to work and built lightning conductors.

If lightning could be drawn from the skies, as his kite had shown that it could, then surely, he thought, it should be possible to guide into the ground the lightning, which, if left to strike freely, might destroy the house. It was in 1752 that Franklin made his great discovery. He lived for thirty-eight years afterwards, and when he died, in 1790, not only the whole of America, but the whole of France went into public mourning for him.

Discovery was now well on the way to practical success, and every year added surprises. John Canton, who was born at Stroud, in 1718, became a schoolmaster, and invented valuable electrical instruments. He was the first man to manufacture powerful artificial magnets, and discovered that the air of a room can be electrified just like so many other things.

Baccaria, a celebrated Italian, found that the air surrounding an electrified body itself becomes electrified. Then Robert Symmer made the amusing discover that silk stockings and worsted stockings, when warmed and rubbed together, become so electrified that a Leyden jar can be filled with the current from them.

More important was the work of Henry Cavendish, the grandson of the second Duke of Devonshire, born at Nice, in 1731.

He was very rich, and very strange in his manner. He lived the life of a hermit in a beautiful London house. He hated the sight of strangers - not because he was an unkind man, but because he was so shy and modest. His female servants were never allowed to see him. If he had any orders for them he would write them down and leave a note on the hall table.

Science was the great joy of his life. The chief thing that he did for electricity was to show that iron wire conducts electricity 400,000,000 times as well as water does. By the aid of electricity he exploded oxygen and hydrogen, and got pure water as the result.

Cavendish lived until 1810, and in his time two men arose who quite changed the method of producing electricity. One was Luigi Galvani, who was born at Bologna, Italy, in 1737, and died there in 1798. The other and greater was Alessandro Volta, born in 1745, at Como, where he died in 1827.

Galvani, when experimenting with an electric machine, found that the legs of a dead frog were set to work by an electric shock. He determined to see if lightning would have the same effect; but while he was fixing the frog by a copper skewer to the iron railing of his balcony, he saw the twitching renewed the moment the copper touched the iron.

Galvani declared that the electricity existed in the tissues of the frog. When Volta heard of this, he set to work to prove that the body of the frog did not contain the electricity. He argued that it was produced by the contact of two different metals, and he proved that he was right.

He placed a disc of copper on his table, and on top of that he placed a piece of cloth which had been soaked in sulphuric acid and water.

On top of that he placed a disc of zinc. Next he added copper, cloth, and zinc again, and so on, in that order, until he had built up a pile. It was a pile of pairs of zinc and copper discs, each pair having a moist piece of cloth between. Then he fastened a wire to the zinc disc at the top of the pile, and a second wire to the copper disc at the bottom of the pile.

Alessandro Volta, the Man Who Made the Electric Bell Ring

Volta put the free ends of the two wires together, then separated them. As they were drawn apart, the electric current which had been set up in the pile caused a spark at the ends of the wires. Here, then, was the first instance of the manufacture of electricity by chemical action.

It was easy soon to improve on the Voltaic pile. Instead of placing the discs and cloth on the table, for the moisture quickly to dry up, he put the pile into a jar, or cell, filled with the water and acid. That was the Voltaic cell, which to this day is used for producing electricity by chemical action. This invention belongs to the year 1800, but more than a century afterward we still sometimes use the Voltaic cell as the battery for our electric bells, and all manner of other things.

This invention caused much excitement, and set men still harder to work. They found now that they could produce electricity in this way as they liked, and cause it to flow in a steady current over wires, not letting it fly away immediately after it was created as it did from amber and other things. They found, among other things, that the current would heat wires, and this led at once to Sir Humphry Davy's discovery of the electric flame from which we get electric light, as we read on page 657.

Men Who Found Electricity - Part Two

The Bluecoat Boy Who Sent Electricity Along a Line of Thread

An ivory ball did not seem a promising thing with which to work, but Gray got a glass tube, and into its ends he fitted two corks. Into one cork he fixed his ivory ball, and, to his delight, he found that when the glass was rubbed it passed on its electricity through the cork to the ivory ball, and the ivory ball would now attract little light things just as the glass itself would.

This led Gray to many splendid experiments - little in themselves, but dazzling by their results, considering how he was working in the dark. He tried if silk would conduct electricity, and found that it would not. So he tried pack-thread, and found that that did. He put up a line of pack-thread, and supported it by loops of silk, which would not conduct the current away from the cotton. He was able to send a current of electricity along his line of thread for a distance of 886 feet. That was a wonderful achievement.

An industrious Frenchman was at work on similar lines at this time. This was a man named Dufay, who, born in 1699, died when only forty years of age, in 1739, three years after Gray. Dufay went over Gray's experiments, and went beyond them. He found that glass tubes could be used to hold up the pack-thread, and he found, too, that by connecting himself with the electrified thread he himself became electrified, and that when another person touched him there was a crackling sound, accompanied by a spark. But the great thing which Dufay did was to find out that there are two kinds of electricity, what we now call positive and negative.

How Men's Knowledge of Electricity Began to Grow

The two kinds exist in a substance, and are at rest until that body is rubbed. Thus two electrified silks will not come together, but silk and worsted will, though two electrified woollen threads will keep as far apart as possible. This is like the loadstone or magnet. That part of the loadstone which points to the north will drive away the north pole of another magnet, but will attract the other magnet's south pole, as if it loved it. North and south go together in the magnet, and opposite kinds go together in electricity.

Inventions now went forward rapidly. Machines were made for rubbing glass cylinders with cushions and other things, and they produced so much electricity that sparks could be formed which would set light to spirits, to wax, to pitch, and other things which were thoroughly heated by friction. The increase of knowledge was now turned to account in a new way. Several men saw that, if electricity could be so easily produced in the open air, it ought to be still stronger if produced in a vessel, away from the free air, where it could be kept and tapped as required, instead of being allowed to escape. This was near the middle of the eighteenth century.

The Shock That Surprised the Professor with a Jar of Water

A monk living abroad, a foreign inventor, and a professor named Muschenbroek, of Leyden in Holland, each seem to have had the same idea about the same time, and the outcome was what is called the Leyden jar. The professor electrified some water in a bottle or jar, which was covered with a metal stopper, through the centre of which ran an iron rod.

From this the electricity could be conducted as it was wanted. The professor made his discovery of the power of the electricity by accident. Holding the jar in one hand, he chanced to touch the iron rod with the other hand, and received such a shock that he declared that he would not for the crown of France risk such another.

Men Who Found Electricity - Part One

from the 1911 Book of Knowledge: The Children's Encyclopedia (The Grolier Society)
starting on page 2113

Electricity is one of the most wonderful forces placed ready for the service of mankind, yet it is one of the things which hid its secret longest from us. Men discovered how to turn the strength of animals to account; how to make the winds drive our ships across the seas; how to apply the power stored up in coal; how to raise steam, and with it change the face of the world. Yet electricity is greater than these. It can do almost anything. It can light a city, supply power for lifting the heaviest weights, drive trains and trolleys, cook a dinner, heal a sick child, and kill us if we are not careful. It is in almost everything, though it does not move. All that we have to do is to excite it, to bring it out, then catch it, so that we may use it as we need it. It is so valuable and does such marvels that it is hard to believe that it existed for thousands of years in the earth and in the air quite unknown to men.

The very name of electricity tells a story of the mystery in which it was hidden for thousands of years from men. A great man named Thales, of whom we read in another part of this book, who lived nearly seven hundred years before Christ was born, noticed that amber, when rubbed with another material, became heated, and that when in that condition it would draw towards itself little pieces of feathers and other tiny light articles. It is said that in the old time the women of Syria used amber to catch up leaves, straws, and other things clinging to their clothes.

A great writer named Pliny, who was born in the year 62 A.D. and died about 114, wrote about amber and its ways. He likened it to the loadstone, the properties of which were well known in his day. We all know that the loadstone is a certain ore which, if allowed to hang by a string, always has one of its points towards the North Pole and the other towards the South Pole, and will attract other metals towards itself. Another thing that Pliny knew was that the electric fish can give such sharp electric shocks as to make a man quite ill. But he never thought that there was any connection between the power of the amber, the fish, and the loadstone.

It was not until the sixteenth century was well advanced that the world began to take a real interest in electricity. Then William Gilbert, a thoughtful scholar, who was one of Queen Elizabeth's doctors, set himself to make experiments with a number of substances to see whether they, like amber, would, when warmed by friction, attract other bodies. He found that many, including sulphur, sealing-wax, gems, solid resin, rock-salt, and many other things, had the same power. They would attract metals, stones, earths, fluid, and even heavy smoke.

The Colchester Man Who Gave Electricity Its Name

As the first man to examine the question, he had to find a name to describe the condition which he excited in these objects. Now, as amber was the first substance known to possess this power of attraction, and as the Greek name for amber is elektron, Dr. Gilbert gave the name electricity to the condition which heat and friction excited in the things he tried. He is called the father of electrical science. Gilbert lived sixty-three years, dying in 1603; and his life was very valuable to the world, for every year sine he began his discoveries our store of learning concerning electricity has gone on increasing.

Gilbert was a Colchester man. He was followed by a famous Irishman, Robert Boyle, a son of the Earl of Cork. Boyle was born in Munster, in 1627, twenty-four years after the death of Gilbert. He was a wonderful scholar as a boy, and at ten learned algebra simply because he loved to exercise his mind. He invented a famous air-pump, and taught the world all about the condition and qualities of air. His work for electricity was to show that electricity remained for some time in a substance after rubbing had ceased; and to add new substances which could be electrified. The mere fact that he was noticing electricity was sufficient to set other men thinking about it, for his reputation was very high, especially with the great men on the Continent of Europe.

The Man Who Fastened Two Things Together With "Nothing"

Boyle died in 1691, five years after the death of Otto von Guericke. This clever man was born at Magdeburg, Prussia, in 1602, and after an excellent education visited England and became acquainted there with the scientists of that day. He invented the first air-pump, but that of Boyle's was so much better that the Prussian invention was soon forgotten. Guericke was the first man to show the immense power of a vacuum. He made two hemispheres of metal - that is, two large metal cups, the edges of which fitted together. There was a tape to each, through which the air could be drawn out by the air-pump. When this was done, so tightly did the two hemispheres cling together that not until the united strength of fifteen horses had been employed could they be pulled apart.

Guericke lived far too early. He discovered a way of making electric light, but nobody knew what it meant. Electric lighting did not become general until 1878. What Guericke did was to make a ball of sulphur inside a globe of glass, then break off the glass so as to expose the sulphur. This he rubbed in the dark, and found that it gave forth a light, accompanied by sound. He it was who discovered also that bodies which have not been electrified by friction become electrified when brought into contact with other bodies which have been electrified.

Sir Isaac Newton did one notable thing for electricity by showing that a disc of glass, when placed in a brass cylinder and electrified, would attract paper so strongly as to make it leap about in the cylinder.

The Man Who Showed That the Electric Spark was Like Lightning

Next came the experiments of Francis Hawksbee, who was famous in 1705 as a scientist, when he was elected a member of the Royal Society. It is not known when he was born, though the year of his death is given as about 1713. He made important experiments with air and mercury, and with a machine for producing electricity by rubbing a glass cylinder with the hand.

He, for the first time, drew attention to the fact that the electric sparks which he was able to produce, and the crackling noise they made, resembled lightning.

His son, Francis Hawksbee, who was born in 1687 and died in 1763, was a gifted maker of scientific instruments, and was the first man in London to lecture and at the same time make scientific experiments to illustrate his theories.

The elder Hawksbee wrote much about his discoveries, and his books, translated into French and Italian, were of great assistance to scientists on the Continent.

All this may seem unimportant, but each of these little discoveries led to other and more important discoveries.

A tree in a forest may not seem of much use as a dwelling for a man, but when the tree-feller and the carpenter and the builder have each done their share, that tree becomes an essential part of a house, all the parts of which have been pieced together, just like the building up of a great science. Now we come to the first step which brings us nearer to practical uses of electricity.

Stephen Gray was a Bluecoat boy in London at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and by some happy chance gave up his life to the study of electricity. He made a grand discovery. He found that we can divide matter into two classes - that which can be electrified by friction, and that which cannot be electrified by friction.

Then he went a step further and found that the non-electrics could be made electric by being placed in contact with those which were already electrified. This means, as we should say now, that he had discovered that some substances are conductors of electricity, and some are non-conductors of electricity.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Weight of One Mass?

This is the original story that The Weight of a Mass by Josephine Nobisso is based on...

[Reprinted with permission from the Catholic Society of Evangelists August 1999 Newsletter]

The following true story was related to Sr. M. Veronica Murphy by an elderly nun who heard it from the lips of the late Reverend Father Stanislaus SS.CC.

One day many years ago, in a little town in Luxembourg a Captain of the Forest Guards was in deep conversation with the butcher when an elderly woman entered the shop. The butcher broke off the conversation to ask the old woman what she wanted. She had come to beg for a little meat but had no money. The Captain was amused at the conversation which ensued between the poor woman and the butcher.

"Only a little meat, but how much are you going to give me?"

"I am sorry I have no money but I'll hear Mass for you." Both the butcher and the Captain were good men but very indifferent about religion, so they at once began to scoff at the old woman's answer."

All right then," said the butcher, "you go and hear Mass for me and when you come back I'll give you as much meat as the Mass is worth."

The woman left the shop and returned later. She approached the counter and the butcher seeing her said, "All right then we'll see."

He took a slip of paper and wrote on it "I heard Mass for you." He then placed the paper on the scales and a tiny bone on the other side but nothing happened. Next he placed a piece of meat instead of the bone, but still the paper proved heavier. Both men were beginning to feel ashamed of their mockery but continued their game. A large piece of meat was placed on the balance, but still the paper held its own. The butcher, exasperated, examined the scales, but found they were all right.

"What do you want my good woman, must I give you a whole leg of mutton?" At this he placed the leg of mutton on the balance, but the paper outweighed the meat. A larger piece of meat was put on, but again the weight remained on the side of the paper. This so impressed the butcher that he was converted, and promised to give the woman her daily ration of meat.

As for the Captain, he left the shop a changed man, an ardent lover of daily Mass. Two of his sons became priests, one a Jesuit and the other a Father of the Sacred Heart.

Father Stanislaus finished by saying "I am the Religious of the Sacred Heart, and the Captain was my father."

From that incident the Captain became a daily Mass goer and his children were trained to follow his example. Later when his sons became priests, he advised them to say Mass well every day and never miss the Sacrifice of the Mass through any fault of their own.

Brief History of Councils of the Church through 1884

List of the General Councils held in the Church of God from the time of the Apostles to A.D. 1884.

From Catholic Belief by the Very Rev. Joseph Faa Di Bruno, D.D., copyright 1884

[Note: I think it is useful for students, particularly at the high school level, to read about the various Church councils in history and particularly what dogmas were defined and what heresies were rejected at each one. This is helpful for understanding the nature of the Church and avoiding the errors treated at each council. Because this material comes from an older text, it does not include material about the Second Vatican Council.]

The First Council of Nice (now called Isnick, in Asia Minor, about 90 miles from Constantinople), was held in the year 325 under Pope Sylvester I., in the Palace of the Emperor. There were present 318 Bishops, the Emperor Constantine the Great also assisting. Arius, Presbyter of Alexandria, was condemned for denying the divinity of the Word, or Son of God, and His consubstantiality with the Father; at this Council the greater part of what is commonly called the Nicene Creed was published.

Catholic Encyclopedia: FIRST COUNCIL OF NICAEA

The First Council of Constantinople, the ancient Byzantium, was held in 381, in the Emperor's Palace, confirmed by Pope Damasus I.; 150 Bishops and the Emperor Theodosius the Elder attended. The followers of Macedonius were condemned for denying the Divinity of the Holy Ghost and His consubstantiality with the Father and the Son. A few more things were added to the Nicene Creed.


The Council of Ephesus, Asia Minor, was held in the Church of St. Mary in 431, under Pope Celestine I. About 200 Bishops and Theodosius the Younger were present. Nestorius was deposed from his See of Constantinople, and condemned for maintaining that in Jesus Christ there were two distinct persons; a human person, born of the Virgin Mary, and the Divine person, that is, the Eternal Word. In consequence of this error he denied to the Blessed Virgin the title of Theotokos (or mother of God), contrary to the Catholic doctrine, which confesses Mary to be the Mother of that DIVINE PERSON in whom are intimately and indissolubly united, by what is called the hypostatic union, the Divine and human nature.

The Council of Chalcedon (now called Scutari), facing Constantinople, in Asia Minor, under Pope Leo the Great, was held in 451, in the Church of St. Euphemia the Martyr, near the Bosphorus in Bithynia. Paschasinus and Lucentius, Bishops, and Boniface, Priest, presided at this Council as Legates of Pope Leo the Greta. Six hundred and thirty Bishops, and the Roman Emperor Marcian were present. Papal Supremacy was acknowledged. Eutyches, Abbot of Constantinople, and Dioscorus, Archbishop of Alexandria, were condemned for teaching that in JESUS CHRIST there was only one nature.

The Second Council of Constantinople, held in the Sacristy of the Cathedral in 553, and confirmed by Pope Vigilius. 165 Bishops, and the Emperor Justinian, were present. Though neither the Pope nor his Legates attended, yet the Council is considered Ecumenical from its having afterwards received the sanction of the Pope. The so-called 'Three Chapters' or heretical writings of Theodorus of Mopsuesta, and of Theodoretus and of Iba, favoring the already anathematized doctrines of Nestorius, were condemned.


The Third Council of Constantinople, held in the Hall of the Imperial Palace, in the years 680 and 681, under Pope Agatho, attended by 170 Bishops. The Monothelites, with their leaders, Cyrus, Sergius, and Pyrrhus, were condemned for maintaining, as their name implies, that in JESUS CHRIST there was only one operation and one will, namely, the Divine Will. This heresy attempted to revive under a new form the error of Eutyches, which had been already condemned. Pope Agatho dying before the Council came to an end it was confirmed by Leo II., his successor, who translated the Acts of this Council from Greek into Latin.

The Second Council of Nice, held in the Church of St. Sophia in 787, under Pope Adrian I., attended by 367 Bishops. In this Council the Iconoclasts (image breakers) were condemned for rejecting the use of holy images, and the practice of paying them due respect. The last Session of this Council was held at Constantinople.

Catholic Encyclopedia: Nicaea, Second Council of

The Fourth Council of Constantinople, held in the Church of St. Sophia in 869 and 870, under Pope Adrian II., attended by 102 Bishops. The Patriarch Photius, the author of the Greek Schism, was condemned and deposed, and St. Ignatius was restored to his See of Constantinople, which had been unjustly usurped by Photius. This is the last General Council held in the Eastern part of Christendom.

The First Council of Lateran, held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, in Rome, in 1123, under Pope Calistus II., attended by 300 Bishops and 600 mitred Abbots. The contest regarding investitures, or appointment to benefices, was settled. The rights of the Church and of the Emperors in the important matter of election of Bishops and Abbots were regulated.

The Second Council of Lateran, held at Rome in 1139, under Pope Innocent II., attended by 1000 Bishops, the Pope himself presiding. The errors of the Albigenses and the heresies of Peter De Bruys and his disciple, Arnold of Brescia, were condemned and the schism of Peter Leo was repressed. One of the decrees of this Council anathematized those heretics who rejected Infant Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, the Priesthood, and Matrimony.

The Third Council of Lateran, held at Rome in 1179, under Pope Alexander III., who presided in person. It was attended by 300 Bishops. The errors of the Waldenses were condemned and a better form of electing the Sovereign Pontiff was prescribed. Most beneficial rules were also framed for the elections of Bishops, for regulating the rights of patrons, and for the gratuitous instruction of the people, especially of poor children.

The Fourth Council of Lateran, held at Rome in 1215, under the great Pope Innocent III., attended by 412 Bishops and upward of 800 Abbots and Friars, besides the representatives of all Sovereigns and Princes of Christendom. A short exposition of the Catholic Faith was drawn up in opposition to the errors of the time, especially those of the Albigenses and the Waldenses. Ecclesiastical laws were framed for the reformation of morals among Christians. The obligation of Confession for adults, instead of several times a year, was reduced to once a yer at least; and Holy Communion likewise to at least once a year, and that at Easter-time. A decree authorizing an expedition (known as Crusade) for the recovery of the Holy Places in Palestine was likewise published, and the election of Frederic II., of Germany, as Roman Emperor was confirmed.

The First Council of Lyons, ancient Lugdunum (Rhone), France, held in 1245 in the Monastery of St. Just, under Pope Innocent IV, who himself generally presided, attended by 140 Bishops and many Abbots and Procurators of Chapters. There was also present Baldwin, Emperor of Constantinople, with other Princes and various Ambassadors. The Emperor, Frederic II., (a noted persecutor of the Church, who, owing to the aid of Pope Innocent III., his godfather, ascended the throne of the German Empire) was excommunicated and deposed after a powerful defence made y his Imperial representatives and advocates, had been heard.

The Second Council of Lyons, held in the Church of St. John in 1274, under Pope Gregory X., attended by 500 Bishops of the Latin and the Greek Rite, nearly 70 Abbots and about 1000 minor Prelates, the Pope presiding in person. The schismatic Greeks returned to the unity of the Church, acknowledging the Pope as the head of the whole Church, of the Greek as well as of the Latin Rite.

The Council of Vienna in France, the ancient Vienne Allobrogum (Isere, Dauphiny), was held in the Metropolitan Church in the year 1311 and 1312, under Pope Clement V. There were 300 Bishops and many other Prelates present. The Order of Knights Templars was abolished. The errors of the Begards, who pretended that man is capable of attaining such perfection in this life as to become impeccable (or incapable of sinning), even when freely gratifying the evil propensities of the body, were condemned.

The Council of Constance or Constantia, on the Lake of Constance, Baden, was assembled in 1414, when, owing to the interference of States, there were three candidates contending for the Papal Chair, namely - John XXIII., Gregory XII., and Benedict XIII. It was attended by about 200 Bishops and a number of other Prelates. At this Council the serious schism caused by this usurpation which had so long disturbed the Church of God ended, and the errors of John Wickliff and others were condemned. In November 1417, Pope Martin V. was recognized by all as the lawfully elected Pope, and he, presided over the Council until it closed. In the last Session Pope Martin V. approved and ratified all that the Council had defined conciliariter, that is, according to the strict rules of defining in General Councils and, therefore, in these definitions the Council was received as Ecumenical, although it does not rank among the Ecumenical Councils, because in some of its Sessions it was not strictly Ecumenical.

The Council of Florence, Italy, held in 1438 and 1439, under Pope Eugenius IV. Attended by 200 Bishops of the Latin and of the Greek Rite, and by the Emperor of the Greeks, John Paleologus. The Supremacy of the Pope over the whole Church was declared. Once more the Eastern and Russian Schismatic Bishops who were present submitted to the Supremacy of the Pope, and were thereby re-united to the Catholic Church.

The Fifth Council of Lateran, held at St. John Lateran, Rome, A.D. 1512-1517, under Popes Julius II and Leo X., attended by 120 Bishops. Many representatives of Kings and Princes were also present. It abolished the Pragmatic Sanction, that is, the collection of 38 decrees, which the Council of Bale had published concerning the rights and privileges of the Roman Pontiff, the authority of Councils, the election of Prelates, and other ecclesiastical matters. The dogma relating to the immortality of the soul was defined. The Council of Pisa was condemned, and the ecclesiastical discipline reformed. An impulse was given to an expedition or crusade against the Turks, who were at the time threatening to overrun Christendom.

The Council of Trent (in the Austrian Tyrol), held between 1545 and 1563 under the Popes Paul III., Julius II., Marcellus II, Paul IV, and Pius IV. It was attended by about 200 Bishops, 7 Abbots, and 7 Generals of Religious Orders, and by the Representatives of Kings and Princes. Including an adjournment of four years, and a suspension of ten years, this Council lasted eighteen years. The Catholic doctrines regarding the Holy Scripture, Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, and the Seven Sacraments, were clearly explained; the contrary errors were condemned, and abuses in morals and discipline were reformed.

The Vatican Council held in the Basilica of St. Peter, Rome, was opened on the 8th of December 1869, and continued to the 18th of July 1870. It was summoned by Pope Pius IX., of glorious memory, who presided occasionally in person, but generally by his Legates. The Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Bishops, present at this Council, at any time between December the 8th, 1869, and July the 18th, 1870, were 704. This number included 113 Archbishops and Bishops in partibus infidelium (in infidel regions), of whom all but 38 held the office of Administrator, Auxiliary, Coadjutor, Vicar-Apostolic, or Prefect-Apostolic. In this Council the dogma of the Supremacy of St. Peter and his Successors, previously recognized in the First Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, and more fully explained in the Council of Florence, A.D. 1438, was again solemnly affirmed and defined. This dogma of faith teaches that on St. Peter was conferred a Primacy of Jurisdiction over the other Apostles, and over the whole flock of Jesus Christ, and that the Bishop of Rome is the successor of St. Peter in that jurisdiction. It was also declared that this jurisdiction extends over the whole Church on earth, and over every member of the Church, and that all the faithful are bound to submit to it, not only in things that belong to faith or morals, but also in things that belong to the discipline and government of the Church. At this Council the Pope's infallibility, when speaking ex cathedra in matters of Faith or Morals, was also solemnly defined. Besides the Supremacy and the Infallibility of the Pope, this Council also defined the existence of a personal God against the daring attacks of modern infidelity. Some people wrongly imagine that the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope is a new doctrine, because it was for the first time defined explicitly as an article of faith at the Vatican Council; but they who argue thus might with as much reason assert that the dogma which teaches the existence of a personal God is also a new doctrine because that article of the faith was for the first time defined as a dogma (in order to oppose modern heresy) in this Council, or that the dogma of the immortality of the soul was a new doctrine because it was first defined at the Fifth Council of Lateran, A.D. 1512-15127. This Vatican Council issued likewise some very important decrees relating to Discipline.