HotFreeBooks.com
More Science From an Easy Chair
by Sir E. Ray (Edwin Ray) Lankester
1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcriber's note:

In a chemical formula, the underscore followed by a number in curly brackets indicates that number is a subscript (example: H_{2}O).



MORE SCIENCE FROM AN EASY CHAIR

by

Sir RAY LANKESTER K.C.B., F.R.S.

With 34 Illustrations



Methuen & Co. Ltd. 36 Essex Street, W.C. London

* * * * *

Uniform with this Volume

1 The Mighty Atom Marie Corelli 2 Jane Marie Corelli 3 Boy Marie Corelli 231 Cameos Marie Corelli 4 Spanish Gold G. A. Birmingham 9 The Unofficial Honeymoon Doll Wyllarde 18 Round the Red Lamp Sir A. Conan Doyle 20 Light Freights W. W. Jacobs 22 The Long Road John Oxenham 71 The Gates of Wrath Arnold Bennett 81 The Card Arnold Bennett 87 Lalage's Lovers G. A. Birmingham 92 White Fang Jack London 108 The Adventures of Dr. Whitty G. A. Birmingham 113 Lavender and Old Lace Myrtle Reed 125 The Regent Arnold Bennett 135 A Spinner in the Sun Myrtle Reed 137 The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu Sax Rohmer 143 Sandy Married Dorothea Conyers 212 Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad 215 Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo E. Phillips Oppenheim 224 Broken Shackles John Oxenham 227 Byeways Robert Hichens 229 My Friend the Chauffeur C. N. & A. M. Williamson 259 Anthony Cuthbert Richard Bagot 261 Tarzan of the Apes Edgar Rice Burroughs 268 His Island Princess W. Clark Russell 275 Secret History C. N. and A. M. Williamson 276 Mary All-alone John Oxenham 277 Darneley Place Richard Bagot 278 The Desert Trail Dane Coolidge 279 The War Wedding C. N. and A. M. Williamson 281 Because of these Things Marjorie Bowen 282 Mrs. Peter Howard Mary E. Mann 288 A Great Man Arnold Bennett 289 The Rest Cure W. B. Maxwell 290 The Devil Doctor Sax Rohmer 291 Master of the Vineyard Myrtle Reed 293 The Si-Fan Mysteries Sax Rohmer 294 The Guiding Thread Beatrice Harraden 295 The Hillman E. Phillips Oppenheim 296 William, by the Grace of God Marjorie Bowen 297 Below Stairs Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick 301 Love and Louisa E. Maria Albanesi 302 The Joss Richard Marsh 303 The Carissima Lucas Malet 304 The Return of Tarzan Edgar Rice Burroughs 313 The Wall Street Girl Frederick Orin Bartlett 315 The Flying Inn G. K. Chesterton 316 Whom God Hath Joined Arnold Bennett 318 An Affair of State J. C. Snaith 320 The Dweller on the Threshold Robert Hichens 325 A Set of Six Joseph Conrad 329 '1914' John Oxenham 330 The Fortune of Christina McNab S. Macnaughtan 334 Bellamy Elinor Mordaunt 343 The Shadow of Victory Myrtle Reed 344 This Woman to this Man C. N. and A. M. Williamson 345 Something Fresh P. G. Wodehouse

A short Selection only.

Uniform with this Volume

36 De Profundis Oscar Wilde 37 Lord Arthur Savile's Crime Oscar Wilde 38 Selected Poems Oscar Wilde 39 An Ideal Husband Oscar Wilde 40 Intentions Oscar Wilde 41 Lady Windermere's Fan Oscar Wilde 77 Selected Prose Oscar Wilde 85 The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde 146 A Woman of No Importance Oscar Wilde 43 Harvest Home E. V. Lucas 44 A Little of Everything E. V. Lucas 78 The Best of Lamb E. V. Lucas 141 Variety Lane E. V. Lucas 292 Mixed Vintages E. V. Lucas 45 Vailima Letters Robert Louis Stevenson 80 Selected Letters Robert Louis Stevenson 46 Hills and the Sea Hilaire Belloc 96 A Picked Company Hilaire Belloc 193 On Nothing Hilaire Belloc 226 On Everything Hilaire Belloc 254 On Something Hilaire Belloc 47 The Blue Bird Maurice Maeterlinck 214 Select Essays Maurice Maeterlinck 50 Charles Dickens G. K. Chesterton 94 All Things Considered G. K. Chesterton 54 The Life of John Ruskin W. G. Collingwood 57 Sevastopol and other Stories Leo Tolstoy 91 Social Evils and their Remedy Leo Tolstoy 223 Two Generations Leo Tolstoy 253 My Childhood and Boyhood Leo Tolstoy 286 My Youth Leo Tolstoy 58 The Lore of the Honey-Bee Tickner Edwardes 63 Oscar Wilde Arthur Ransome 64 The Vicar of Morwenstow S. Baring-Gould 76 Home Life in France M. Betham-Edwards 83 Reason and Belief Sir Oliver Lodge 93 The Substance of Faith Sir Oliver Lodge 116 The Survival of Man Sir Oliver Lodge 284 Modern Problems Sir Oliver Lodge 95 The Mirror of the Sea Joseph Conrad 126 Science from an Easy Chair Sir Ray Lankester 149 A Shepherd's Life W. H. Hudson 200 Jane Austen and her Times G. E. Mitton 218 R. L. S. Francis Watt 234 Records and Reminiscences Sir Francis Burnand 285 The Old Time Parson P. H. Ditchfield 287 The Customs of Old England F. J. Snell

A Selection only.

* * * * *



MORE SCIENCE FROM AN EASY CHAIR

First Issued in this Cheap Form in 1920

Originally published by Messrs. Adlard & Son in 1913 First published by Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1914 Second Edition 1915 Third Edition 1920



PREFACE

The present volume is a reprint of that issued in 1912 with the title, "Science from an Easy Chair: Second Series." It consists, like its predecessors, of chapters originally published by me in the Daily Telegraph, which I have revised and illustrated by a large number of drawings. In order to render the issue of the present cheap edition possible, it has been found necessary to restrict its size a little by the omission of chapters dealing with Glaciers, Ferns and Fern-seed, and the history of the Sea-squirts or Ascidians, which are contained in the original larger book. My hope is that this collection of papers, "about a number of things," may meet with as kind a reception from my readers as that which they have accorded to its predecessors.

E. RAY LANKESTER

July 1, 1920



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A DAY IN THE OBERLAND 1

Fertilization of Sage—The Edelweiss—The Jungfrau's Breast—Contortions of Rock-strata—The Jungfrau Railway—Mountain Sickness.

II. SWITZERLAND IN EARLY SUMMER 13

Alpine Flowers—Flowers of the Meadows and Woods—The Herb Paris.

III. GLETSCH 19

From Baveno to the Rhone Glacier—A Glacier by the Roadside—Changes in the Glacier.

IV. THE PROBLEM OF THE GALLOPING HORSE 25

The Cinematograph—Ancient Representations of Gallop—The Dog in Mycenaean Art—What ought an Artist to do?—Attention as a Condition of Seeing—Judgment and Prejudice—Natural and Artificial Paces—Photographs by Electric Spark—Use of Instantaneous Photographs—Errors as to the Size of the Moon—The Painter and the Moon—The Moon on the Stage.

V. THE JEWEL IN THE TOAD'S HEAD 55

The Decay of Credulity—A Sceptical Physician—How to Test a Toadstone—Other Magical Stones—Medicinal and Magical Stones.

VI. ELEPHANTS 65

The Indian and the African Elephant—Size of Modern Elephants—Ears and Teeth of Elephants—Earliest Elephants brought to Europe—The Elephant's Legs—Tusks used in Digging—Elephants used in War—Geological Strata since the Chalk—Ancestral Mammals—The Typical or Ancestral Set of Teeth—The Peculiarities of the Teeth of Elephants—Extinct Relatives of Elephants—Ancestors of Elephants—Origin of the Elephant's Trunk.

VII. A STRANGE EXTINCT BEAST 92

Fossil Skeletons and Jaw-bones—The Skull and Teeth of Goats—The Teeth of Rats—The Rat-toothed Goat—Origin of the Rat-toothed Goat.

VIII. VEGETARIANS AND THEIR TEETH 102

Teeth of Carnivors—Mixed Diets—Disease-germs in Food.

IX. FOOD AND COOKERY 113

Special Diet of Various Races—Food and Habit—Nervous Control of Digestion—Wholesale Food and Mechanical Cookery—The Burnt Offering of the Jews—Women Neglect Cookery—A Great German's Appreciation.

X. SMELLS AND PERFUMES 126

Smells and Memory—Accidental Qualities—Bacteria and Smells—Some Remarkable Smells.

XI. KISSES 134

Kissing and Smelling—Variations in the Sense of Smell—Radiation and Odours—Attraction by Smell—Unconscious Guidance by Smell.

XII. LAUGHTER 144

Why do we Laugh?—Varieties of Laughter—The Laugh of Escape from Death—The Laugh of Derision.

XIII. FATHERLESS FROGS 152

Fertilization of the Egg-cell—Egg-cells Developing Unfertilized—M. Bataillon's Discovery.

XIV. PRIMITIVE BELIEFS ABOUT FATHERLESS PROGENY 159

Harvey and Milton—Reproduction by Budding—Stories of Virgin Births—Spiritual Theory of Conception.

XV. THE PYGMY RACES OF MEN 167

Characteristics of Pygmies—Colour of the Skin—Egyptian Stories of Pygmies—Congo and New Guinea Pygmies—The Causes of Small Size—Smallness a Correlation.

XVI. PREHISTORIC PETTICOATS 180

Early Carvings and Pictures—Paintings in Caverns—Painting of Human Figures—Artistic Sympathy—Aurignacians and Bushmen Allied.

XVII. NEW YEAR'S DAY AND THE CALENDAR 191

Make-believe and New Year—Divisions of Time—The Difficulties of the Calendar—Pope Gregory's Ten Days—The Astronomer Royal and the Shah.

XVIII. EASTERTIDE, SHAMROCKS AND SPERMACETI 201

The Real Shamrock—Sham Shamrock—Leonardo or Lucas?—Various Fats.

XIX. MUSEUMS 209

The Muses—The Museum of Alexandria—Picture Galleries and Museums—The Purposes of Museums—The First Business of Museums—National Value of Museums—University Museums—Not for Children but for Adults—Screens and Electric Lifts—Frames and Setting of Pictures.

XX. THE SECRET OF A TERRIBLE DISEASE 227

The Angel of Death—The Tyranny of Parasites—Typhus and Monkeys—Typhus Fever in Russia.

XXI. CARRIERS OF DISEASE 235

The Entrance of Parasites—Man as a Carrier of Disease—House Flies and Disease.

XXII. IMMUNITY AND CURATIVE INOCULATIONS 241

Inoculation of Smallpox—Antitoxins—The Wonderful Properties of Blood—Germ-killing Poisons in the Blood—Opsonins or Sauce for Germs.

XXIII. THE STRANGE STORY OF ANIMAL LIFE IN NEW ZEALAND 251

Strange Birds—Destroyed by Europeans—Introduced Animals.

XXIV. THE EFFACEMENT OF NATURE BY MAN 259

Disappearance of Great Animals—Man's Reckless Greed—Hope in Irrigation.

XXV. THE EXTINCTION OF THE BISON AND OF WHALES 266

Drowning in a Dead Whale's Heart—The Value of Whalebone—No more Turtle Soup.

XXVI. MORE ABOUT WHALES 273

The Shape of Whales—Enormous Pressure of Gas in the Blood—The Killer and the Narwhal—Fossil Whales.

XXVII. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SCIENCE 281

What Science does not explain—Darwin's Theory is adequate—The Aquosity of Water—Need for Interpreters of Science—The Exploded Ghost called "Caloric"—Nightmares Destroyed by Science—When did the Soul arrive?—The Great Silence.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FIGURES

FIG. PAGE

1. Flower of the Yellow Sage 4

2. The Edelweiss 5

3. "Folding" of Rock Strata 8

4. A Man Extracting the Jewel from a Toad's Head 58

5. The Palate of the Fossil Fish Lepidotus 60

6. The Indian Elephant 66

7. The African Elephant 67

8. The Crowns of Three "Grinders" or Molars of Elephants Compared 71

9. Skeleton of the Indian Elephant 81

10. The Teeth in the Upper and Lower Jaw-bone of the Common Pig 84

11. A Reconstruction of the Extinct American Mastodon 86

12. Skull and Restored Outline of the Head of the Long-jawed Extinct Elephant called Tetrabelodon 87

13. Head of the Ancestral Elephant—Palaeomastodon 89

14. Restored Model of the Skull and Lower Jaw of the Ancestral Elephant—Palaeomastodon 90

15. Head of the Early Ancestor of Elephants—Meritherium—as it appeared in life 91

16. Skull and Lower Jaw of a Goat 94

17. Teeth in the Lower and Upper Jaw of the Goat 95

18. Skull of a Typical "Rodent" Mammal, the Coypu Rat 96

19. Teeth of the Coypu Rat 97

20. Skull of the Rat-toothed Goat, Myotragus 99

21. Skull of a Clouded Tiger 103

22. Teeth of the Lower and Upper Jaw of the same Clouded Tiger's Skull 104

23. Figure from a Group Drawn on a Greek Vase 171

24. Group of Women Clothed in Jacket and Skirt with "Wasp-like" Waists 185

25. Further Portion of same Group as Fig. 24 186



PLATES

I. Consecutive Poses of the Galloping Horse 27

II. Various Representations of the Gallop 29

III. Representations of the Gallop 31

IV. The Track of the Rising Moon 49

V. Three Figures—Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Lloyd George, and Mr. Asquith 52

VI. Teeth of the Upper and Lower Jaw of Man 108

VII. Teeth of the Upper and Lower Jaw of the Gibbon 110

VIII. Votary or Priestess of the Goddess to whom Snakes were Sacred 188

IX. Fresco Drawing of Two Female Acrobats 190



MORE SCIENCE FROM AN EASY CHAIR



CHAPTER I

A DAY IN THE OBERLAND

I am writing in early September from Interlaken, one of the loveliest spots in Europe when blessed with a full blaze of sunlight and only a few high-floating clouds, but absolutely detestable in dull, rainy weather, losing its beauty as the fairy scenes of a theatre do when viewed by dreary daylight. It is the case of the little girl of whom it is recorded that "When she was good she was very good, and when she was not she was horrid." This morning, after four days' misconduct, Interlaken was very good. The tremendous sun-blaze seemed to fill the valleys with a pale blue luminous vapour, cut sharply by the shadows of steep hill-sides. Here and there the smoke of some burning weeds showed up as brightest blue. Far away through the gap formed in the long range of nearer mountains, where the Luetschine Valley opens into the vale of Interlaken, the Jungfrau appeared in full majesty, absolutely brilliant and unearthly. So I walked towards her up the valley. Zweiluetschinen is the name given to the spot where the valley divides into two, that to the left leading up to Grindelwald, under the shadow of the Moench and the Wetterhorn, that to the right bringing one to Lauterbruennen and the Staubbach waterfall, with the snow-fields of the Tchingel finally closing the way—over which I climbed years ago to Ried in the Loetschen Thal.

The autumn crocus was already up in many of the closely trimmed little meadows, whilst the sweet scent of the late hay-crop spread from the newly cut herbage of others.

At Zweiluetschinen, where the white glacier-torrent unites with the black, and the milky stream is nearly as cold as ice, and is boiling along over huge rocks, its banks bordered with pine forest, I came upon a native fishing for trout. He was using a short rod and a weighted line with a small "grub" as bait. He dropped his line into the water close to the steep bank, where some projecting rock or half-sunk boulder staved off the violence of the stream. He had already caught half-a-dozen beautiful, red-spotted fish, which he carried in a wooden tank full of water, with a close-fitting lid to prevent their jumping out. I saw him take a seventh. The largest must have weighed nearly two pounds. It seems almost incredible that fish should inhabit water so cold, so opaque, and so torrential, and should find there any kind of nourishment. They make their way up by keeping close to the bank, and are able, even in that milky current, to perceive and snatch the unfortunate worm or grub which has been washed into the flood and is being hurried along at headlong speed. Only the trout has the courage, strength, and love of nearly freezing water necessary for such a life—no other fish ventures into such conditions. Trout are actually caught in some mountain pools at a height of 8,000 ft., edged by perpetual snow.

You are rarely given trout to eat here in the hotels. A lake fish, called "ferras," a large species of the salmonid genus Coregonus, to which the skelly, powan, and vendayce of British lakes belong, is the commonest fish of the table d'hote, and not very good. A better one is the perch-pike or zander. It is common in all the larger shallow lakes of Central Europe, and abounds in the "broads" which extend from Potsdam to Hamburg, though it is unknown in the British Isles. It is quite the best of the European fresh-water fish for the table, and there should be no difficulty about introducing it into the Norfolk Broads. It would be worth an effort on the part of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries to do so, as the perch-pike, unlike other fresh-water fishes, would hold its own on the market against haddock, brill, and plaice. Another interesting fresh-water fish which grows to a large size in the Lake of Geneva (where I have seen it netted) is the burbot—called "lote" in French—a true cod of fresh-water habit which, though common throughout Europe and Northern Asia, is, in our country, only taken in a few rivers opening on the east coast. It is a brilliantly coloured fish, orange-brown, mottled with black, and is very good eating.

Passing up the Lauterbruennen valley, I came upon some wild raspberries and quantities of the fine, large-flowered sage, Salvia glutinosa, with its yellow flowers, in shape like those of the dead-nettle, but much bigger. They were being visited by humble-bees, and I was able to see the effective mechanism at work by which the bee's body is dusted with the pollen of the flower. I have illustrated this in some drawings (Fig. 1) which are accompanied by a detailed explanation. Two long stamens, a1, arch high up over the lip of the flower, li, on which the bee alights, and are protected by a keel or hood of the corolla. Each stamen is provided with a broad process, a2, standing out low down on its arched stalk, and blocking the way to the nectar in the cup of the flower. When the bee pushes his head against these obstacles and forces them backwards, the result is to swing the long arched stalk, with its pollen sacks, in the opposite direction, namely, forwards and downwards on to the bee's back. It was easy to see this movement going on, and the consequent dusting of the bee's back with pollen. In somewhat older flowers, which have been relieved of their pollen, the style, st., or free stalk-like extremity of the egg-holding capsule, already as long as the stamens, grows longer and bends down towards the lip or landing-place of the yellow flower. When a pollen-dusted bee alights on one of these maturer flowers the sticky end of the now depending style is gently rubbed by the bee's back and smeared with a few pollen-grains brought by the bee from a distant flower. These rapidly expand into "pollen tubes," or filaments, and, penetrating the long style, reach the egg-germs below. Thus cross-fertilization is brought about by the bees which come for the nectar of Salvia. The stalks and outer parts of the flower of this plant produce a very sticky secretion which effectually prevents any small insects from crawling up and helping themselves to the nectar exclusively provided for the attraction of the humble-bee, whose services are indispensable.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.—Diagrams of the flower of the yellow sage (Salvia glutinosa) a little larger than life. 1. An entire flower seen from the side. st. The stigma, a2. The pair of modified half-anthers which are pushed back by the bee when inserting its head into the narrow part of the flower. 2. A similar flower at a later stage when the stigma, st., has grown downwards so as to touch the back of a bee alighting on the lip of the flower, and gather pollen from it. 3. Diagram of one of the two stamens. f. The stalk or filament of the stamen. a1. The pollen-producing half-anther, eo. The elongated connective joining it to the sterile half-anther. 4. Section through a flower showing ov. the ovary; nec. the nectary or honey-glands; st. the style; li. the lip of the flower on which the bee alights. 5. Similar section showing the effect of the pushing back of a2 by the bee, and the downward swinging of the polliniferous half-anther so as to dust the bee's back with pollen. The dotted arrow shows the direction of the push given by the bee.]



As I walked on, a belated Apollo butterfly, with its two red spots, and a pale Swallow-tail fluttered by me. Then some children emerged from unsuspected lurking-places in the wood and offered bunches of edelweiss (Fig. 2). This curious-looking little plant does not grow (as pretended by reporters of mountaineering disasters) exclusively in places only to be reached by a dangerous climb. I have gathered it in meadows on the hillside above Zermatt, and it is common enough in accessible spots. The flowers are like those of our English groundsel and yellow in colour—little "composite" knobs, each built up of many tubular "florets" packed side by side. Six or seven of these little short-stalked knobs of florets are arranged in a circlet around a somewhat larger knob, and each of them gives off from its stalk one long and two shorter white, hairy, leaf-like growths, flat and blade-like in shape and spreading outwards from the circle, so that the whole series resemble the rays of a star (or more truly of a star-fish!). They look strangely artificial, as though cut out of new white flannel (with a greenish tint), and have been dignified by the comparison of the shape of the white-flannel rays with that of the foot of the lion and the claws of the eagle. They are extraordinary-looking little plants, and are similar in their hairiness and pale tint to some of the seaside plants on our own coast, which, in fact, include species closely allied to them ("cud-weeds" of the genus Gnaphalium).

The huge cliffs of rocks on either side (in some parts over a thousand feet in sheer height from the torrent) come closer to one another in the part where we now are than in most Alpine valleys, so as almost to give it the character of a "gorge." At some points the highest part of the precipice actually overhangs the perpendicular face by many feet. A refreshing cold air comes up from the icy torrent, whilst the heat of the sun diffuses the delicious resinous scent of the pine trees. Above the naked rock we see steep hill-sides covered with forest, and away above these again bare grass-slopes topped by cloud. But as the clouds slowly lift and break we become suddenly aware of something impending far above and beyond all this, something more dazzling in its white brightness than the sun-lit clouds, a form sharply cut in outline and firm, yet rounded by a shadow of an exquisite purple tint which no cloud can assume. The steely blue Alpine sky fits around this marvel of pure whiteness as it towers through the opening cloud, and soars out of earth's range. What is this glory so remote yet impending over us? It is the Jungfrau, the incomparable virgin of the ice-world, who bares her snowy breast. She slowly parts her filmy veil, and, as we gaze, uncovers all her loveliness.

The rock walls of the Lauterbruennen valley show at one place a thickness of many hundred feet of strongly marked, perfectly horizontal "strata"—the layers deposited immense ages ago at the bottom of a deep sea. Not only have they been raised to this position, and then cut into, so as to make the profound furrow or valley in the sides of which we see them, but they have been bent and contorted in places to an extent which is, at first sight, incredible. Close to one great precipice of orderly horizontal layers you see the whole series suddenly turned up at right angles, and the same strata which were horizontal have become perpendicular. But that is not the limit, for the upturned strata are seen actually to turn right over, and again become horizontal in a reversed order, the strata which were the lowest becoming highest, and the highest lowest. The rock is rolled up just as a flat disc of Genoese pastry—consisting of alternate layers of jam and sponge-cake—is folded on itself to form a double thickness. The forces at work capable of treating the solid rocks, the foundations of the great mountains, in this way are gigantic beyond measurement. This folding of the earth's crust is caused by the fact that the "crust," or skin of the earth, has ceased to cool, being warmed by the sun, and therefore does not shrink, whilst the great white-hot mass within (in comparison with which the twenty-mile-thick crust is a mere film) continually loses heat, and shrinks definitely in volume as its temperature sinks. The crust or jacket of stratified rock deposited by the action of the waters on the surface of the globe has been compelled—at whatever cost, so to speak—to fit itself to the diminishing "core" on which it lies. Slowly, but steadily, this "settlement" has gone on, and is going on. The horizontal rock layers, being now too great in length and breadth, adjust themselves by "buckling"—just as a too large, ill-fitting dress does—and the Alps, the Himalayas, and other great mountain ranges, are regions where this "buckling" process has for countless ages proceeded, slowly but surely. Probably the "buckling" has proceeded to a large extent without sudden movement, but with a lateral pressure of such power as ultimately to throw a crust of thousands of feet thickness into deep folds a mile or so in vertical measurement from crest to hollow, protruding from the general level both upwards and downwards, whilst often the folds are rolled over on to each other.



This crumbling and folding has gone on at great depths—that is to say, some miles below the surface (a mere nothing compared with the 8,000 miles diameter of the globe itself), though we now see the results exposed, like the pastry folded by a cook. Immense time has been taken in the process. A folding movement involving a vertical rise of an inch in ten years would not be noticed by human onlookers, but in 600,000 years this would give you a vertical displacement of more than 5,000 ft. (nearly a mile!). It has been shown that in Switzerland, along a line of country extending from Basle to Milan, strata of 10,000 ft. to 20,000 ft. in thickness, which, if straightened out, would give a flat area of that thickness, and of 200 miles in length, have been buckled and folded so as to occupy only a length of 130 miles! The former tight-fitting skin of horizontal rock layers has "had to" buckle to that extent here (and in the same way in other mountain ranges in other parts of the world), because the whole terrestrial sphere has shrunk, owing to the gradual cooling of the mass, whilst the crust has not shrunk, not having lost heat.

Filled with interest and delight in these things, I reached the railway station at Lauterbruennen, from whence the little train is driven far up the mountain, even into the very heart of the Jungfrau, by an electric current generated by a turbine, itself driven by the torrent at our feet, the waters of which have descended from the glaciers far above, to which it will carry us. In a few minutes I was gently gliding in the train up the to the "Wengern Alp" and the "Little Scheidegg"—a slope up which I have so often in former years painfully struggled on foot for four hours or more. One could to-day watch the whole scene, in ease and comfort, during the two hours' ascent of the train. And a marvellous scene it is as one rises to the height of 8,000 ft., skirting the glaciers which ooze down the rocky sides of the Jungfrau, and mounting far above some of them. At the Scheidegg I changed into a smaller train, and with some thirty fellow-passengers was carried higher and higher by the faithful, untiring electric current. After a quarter of an hour's progress we paused high above the "snout" of the great Eiger glacier, and descended by a short path on to it, examined the ice, its crevasses and layers, and its "glacier-grains," and watched and heard an avalanche. The last time I was here it took a couple of hours to reach this spot from the Scheidegg, and probably neither I nor any of my fellow-passengers could to-day endure the necessary fatigue of reaching this spot on foot. Then we remounted the train, and on we went into the solid rock of the huge Eiger. The train stops in the rock tunnel and we got out to look, through an opening cut in its side, down the sheer wall of the mountain on to the grassy meadows thousands of feet below.

Then we start again, and on we are driven by the current generated away down there in Lauterbruennen, through the spiral tunnel, mounting a thousand feet more till we are landed at an opening cut on the further side of the rocky Eiger, which admits us to an actual footing on the great glacier called the Eismeer, or Icelake. We lunch at a restaurant cut out as a cavern in the solid rock, and survey the wondrous scene. We are now at a height of 10,000 feet, and in the real frozen ice-world, hitherto accessible only to the young and vigorous. I have been there in my day with pain, danger, and labour, accompanied by guides and held up by ropes, but never till now with perfect ease and tranquillity and without "turning a hair," or causing either man or beast to labour painfully on my behalf. We had taken two hours only from Lauterbruennen; in former days we should have started in the small hours of the morning from the Scheidegg, and have climbed through many dangers for some six or seven hours before reaching this spot.

I confess that I am not enchanted with all of the modern appliances for saving time and labour—the telegraph, the telephone, the automobile, and the aeroplane. But these mountain railways fill me with satisfaction and gratitude. When the Jungfrau railway was first projected, some athletic Englishmen with heavy boots and ice-axes, protested against the "desecration" of regions till then accessible only to them and to me, and others of our age and strength. They declared that the scenery would be injured by the railway and its troops of "tourists." As well might they protest against the desecration caused by the crawling of fifty house-flies on the dome of St. Paul's. These mountains and glaciers are so vast, and men with their railroads so small, that the latter are negligible in the presence of the former. No disfiguring effect whatever is produced by these mountain railways; the trains have even ceased to emit smoke since they were worked by electricity. I quite agree with those who object to "funiculars." The carriages on these are hauled up long, straight gashes in the mountain side, which have a hideous and disfiguring appearance. But I look forward with pleasure to the completion of the Jungfrau railway to the summit. I hope that the Swiss engineers will carry it through the mountain, and down along the side of the great Aletsch glacier to the Bel Alp and so to Brieg. That would be a glorious route to the Simplon tunnel and Italy!

I took three hours in the unwearied train descending from the Eismeer to Interlaken, and was back in my hotel in comfortable time for dinner, "mightily content with the day's journey," as Mr. Pepys would have said. I have always been sensitive to the action of diminished pressure, which produces what is called "mountain sickness" in many people. Many years ago I climbed by the glacier-pass known as the Weissthor from Macugnaga to the Riffel Alp, with a stylographic pen in my pocket. The reservoir of the pen contained a little air, which expanded as the atmospheric pressure diminished, and at 10,000 feet I found most of the ink emptied into my pocket. Probably one cause of the discomfort called "mountain sickness" arises from a similar expansion of gas contained in the digestive canal, and in the cavities connected with the ear and nose. The more suddenly the change of pressure is effected, the more noticeable is the discomfort. But I was rather pleased than otherwise to note, as I sat in the comfortable railway carriage, that when we passed 8,000 feet in elevation the old familiar giddiness, and tendency to sigh and gasp, came upon me as of yore, as I gathered was the experience of some of my fellow-passengers: and when we were returning, and had descended half-way to Lauterbruennen, I enjoyed the sense of restored ease in breathing which I well remember when the whole experience was complicated by the fatigue of a long climb. A white-haired American lady was in the train with me ascending to the Eismeer. "I have longed all my life," she said, "to see a glaysher—to touch it and walk on it—and now I am going to do it at last. I and my daughter here have come right away from America to go on these cars to the glaysher." When we were descending, I asked the old lady if she had been pleased. "I can hardly speak of it rightly," she said. "It seems to me as though I have been standing up there on God's own throne." I do not sympathise with the Alpine monopolist who would grudge that dear old lady, and others like her, the little train and tramway by which alone such people can penetrate to those soul-stirring scenes. They are at least as sensitive to the beauty of the mountains as are the most muscular, most long-winded, and most sun-blistered of our friends—the acrobats of the rope and axe.

Interlaken September, 1909



CHAPTER II

SWITZERLAND IN EARLY SUMMER

It is the early summer of 1910 and I have but just returned from a visit to Switzerland. The latter part of June and the beginning of July is the best for a stay in that splendid and happy land if one is a naturalist, and cares for the beauty of Alpine meadows, and of the flowers which grow among and upon the rocks near the great glaciers. This year the weather has, no doubt, been exceptionally cold and wet, and at no great height (5,000 feet) we have had snow-storms, even in July. But as compared with that of Paris and London the weather has been delightful. There has been an abundance of magnificent sunshine, and many days of full summer heat and cloudless sky. A fortnight ago (July 16th), and on the day before, it was as hot and brilliant in the valley of Chamonix as it can be. Mont Blanc and the Dome de Goutet stood out clear and immaculate against a purple-blue sky, and, as of old, we watched through the hotel telescope a party struggling, over the snow to the highest peak.

At Chillon the lake of Geneva, day after day, spread out to us its limitless surface of changing colour, now blending in one pearly expanse with the sky—so that the distant felucca boats seemed to float between heaven and earth—now streaked with emerald and amethystine bands. The huge mountain masses rising with a vast sweep from St. Jingo's shore displayed range after range of bloom-like greys and purples, whilst far away and above delicately glittered—like some incredible vision of a heavenly world beyond the sun-lit sky itself—the apparition of the snows and rocks of the great Dents du Midi. All this I have left behind me, and have passed back again to dull grey Paris, to the stormy Channel, and to the winter of London's July.

The incomparable pleasure which the lakes and valleys and mountains of Switzerland are capable of giving is due to the combination of many distinct sources of delight, each in itself of exceptional character. A month ago, in bright sunshine, I went, once again, by the little electric railway (most blessed invention of our day) from the pine-shaded torrent below to the great Eiger rock-mountain, and through its heart to the glacier beyond, more than 10,000 feet above sea-level. On the way back I left the train at the foot of the Eiger glacier, and walked down with my companion amongst the rocks of the moraine and over the sparse turf of these highest regions of life. Everywhere was a profusion of gentians, the larger and darker, as well as the smaller, bluest of all blue flowers. The large, plump, yellow globe-flowers (Trollius), the sulphur-yellow anemone, the glacial white-and-pink buttercup, the Alpine dryad, the Alpine forget-me-nots and pink primroses, the summer crocus, delicate hare-bells, and many other flowers of goodly size were abundant. The grass of Parnassus and the edelweiss were not yet in flower, but lower down the slopes the Alpine rhododendron was showing its crimson bunches of blossom. It is a pity that the Swiss call this plant "Alpenrose," since there is a true and exquisite Alpine rose (which we often found) with deep red flowers, dark-coloured foliage, and a rich, sweet-briar perfume. Lovely as these larger flowers of the higher Alps are, they are excelled in fascination by the delicate blue flowers of the Soldanellas, like little fringed foolscaps, by the brilliant little red and purple Alpine snap-dragon, and by the cushion-forming growths of saxifrages and other minute plants which encrust the rocks and bear, closely set in their compact, green, velvet-like foliage, tiny flowers as brilliant as gems. A ruby-red one amongst these is "the stalkless bladder-wort" (Silene acaulis), having no more resemblance at first sight to the somewhat ramshackle bladder-wort of our fields than a fairy has to a fishwife. There are many others of these cushion-forming, diminutive plants, with white, blue, yellow, and pink florets. Examined with a good pocket lens, they reveal unexpected beauties of detail—so graceful and harmonious that one wonders that no one has made carefully coloured pictures of them of ten times the size of nature, and published them for all the world to enjoy. Busily moving within their charmed circles we see, with our lens, minute insects which, attracted by the honey, are carrying the pollen of one flower to another, and effecting for these little pollen flowers what bees and moths do for the larger species.

Thus we are reminded that all this loveliness, this exquisite beauty, is the work of natural selection—the result of the survival of favourable variations in the struggle for existence. These minute symmetrical forms, this wax-like texture, these marvellous rows of coloured, enamel-like encrustation, have been selected from almost endless and limitless possible variations, and have been accumulated and maintained there as they are in all their beauty, by survival of the fittest—by natural selection. All beauty of living things, it seems, is due to Nature's selection, and not only all beauty of colour and form, but that beauty of behaviour and excellence of inner quality which we call "goodness." The fittest, that which has survived and will survive in the struggle of organic growth, is (we see it in these flowers) in man's estimation the beautiful. Is it possible to doubt that just as we approve and delightedly revel in the beauty created by "natural selection," so we give our admiration and reverence, without question, to "goodness," which also is the creation of Nature's great unfolding? Goodness (shall we say virtue and high quality?) is, like beauty, the inevitable product of the struggle of living things, and is Nature's favourite no less than man's desire. When we know the ways of Nature, we shall discover the source and meaning of beauty, whether of body or of mind.

As these thoughts are drifting through our enchanted dream we suddenly hear a deep and threatening roar from the mountain-side. We look up and see an avalanche falling down the rocks of the Jungfrau. The vast mountain, with its dazzling vestment of eternal snow, and its slowly creeping, green-fissured glaciers, towers above into the cloudless sky. In an instant the mind travels from the microscopic details of organic beauty, which but a moment ago held it entranced, to the contemplation of the gigantic and elemental force whose tremendous work is even now going on close to where we stand. The contrast, the range from the minute to the gigantic, is prodigious yet exhilarating, and strangely grateful. How many millions of years did it take to form those rocks (many of them are stratified, water-laid deposits) in the depths of the ocean? How many more to twist and bend them and raise them to their present height? And what inconceivably long persistence of the wear and tear of frost and snow and torrent has it required to excavate in their hard bosoms these deep, broad valleys thousands of feet below us, and to leave these strangely moulded mountain peaks still high above us? And that beauty of the sun-lit sky and of the billowy ice-field and of the colours of the lake below and of the luminous haze and the deep blue shade in the valley—how is that related to the beauty of the flowers? Truly enough, it is not a beauty called forth by natural selection. It is primordial; it is the beauty of great light itself. The response to its charm is felt by every living thing, even by the smallest green plant and the invisible animalcule, as it is by man himself. As I stand on the mountain-side we are all, from animalcule to man, sympathizing and uniting, as members of one great race, in our adoration of the sun. And in doing this we men are for the moment close to and in happy fellowship with our beautiful, though speechless, relatives who also live. Even the destructive bacteria which are killed by the sun probably enjoy an exquisite shudder in the process which more than compensates them for their extinction.

The pleasures of flower-seeking in Switzerland are by no means confined to the great heights. At moderate heights (4,000 to 5,000 feet) you have the Alpine meadows, and below those the rich-soiled woods which fill in the sides of the torrent-worn valleys. You cannot see an Alpine meadow after July, as it is cut down by then. It is at its best in June. It bears very little grass, and consists almost entirely of flowers. In places the hare-bells and Canterbury bells and the bugloss are so abundant as to make a whole valley-floor blue as in MacWhirter's picture. But more often the blue is intermixed with the balls of, red clover and the spikes of a splendid pale pink polygonum (a sort of buckwheat) and of a very large and handsome plantain. Large yellow gentians, mulleins, the nearly black and the purple orchids, vetches of all colours, the Alpine clover with four or five enormous flowers in a head instead of fifty little ones, the Astrantias (like a circular brooch made up of fifty gems each mounted on a long elastic wire and set vibrating side by side), the sky-blue forget-me-nots, and the golden potentillas, are usually components of the Alpine meadow. At Murren, and no doubt commonly elsewhere, there are a few very beautiful grasses among the flowers, but the most remarkable grass is one (Poa alpina), which has on every spikelet or head a bright green serpent-like streamer. Each of these "streamers" is, in fact, a young grass-plant, budded off "viviparously," as it is called, from the flower-head, or "spikelet," and having nothing to do with the proper fertilized seed or grain. The young plants so budded fall to the ground, and striking root rapidly, grow into separate individuals. It is probably owing to some condition in Alpine meadows adverse to the production of fertilized seed that this viviparous method of reproduction has been favoured, since it occurs also in an Alpine meadow-plant allied to the buckwheat, namely, Polygonum viviparum (not the kind mentioned above), where the lower flowers are converted into little red bulbs, by which the plant propagates. Both the viviparous grass and the polygonum are found in England. In fact, a very large proportion of Alpine plants occur in parts of the British islands (a legacy from the glacial period), though many which are abundant in Switzerland are rare and local here.

At a lower level, in the woods, we come upon other plants, not really "Alpine" at all, but of great and special beauty. We found four kinds of winter-green (Pirola), one with a very large, solitary flower, white and wax-like, and the beautiful white butterfly-orchid with nectaries three quarters of an inch long, and other large-flowered orchids. We were anxious to find the noble Martagon lily, and hunted in many glades and forest borders for it. At last, concealed on a bank in a wood, between Glion and Les Avants, it revealed itself in quantity, many specimens standing over three feet in height. Martagon is an Arabic word, signifying a Turkish cap. A very strange and uncanny-looking lily, which I had never seen before, turned up near Kandersteg at the Blue Lake, beloved of Mr. H. G. Wells. This is "the Herb Paris." It has four narrow outstretched green sepals, and four still narrower green petals, eight large stamens, and a purple seed capsule. Its broad oval leaves are also arranged in whorls of four. Its name has nothing to do with the "ville lumiere," nor with the Trojan judge of female beauty, but refers to the symmetry and "parity" of its component parts. I was not surprised to find that "the Herb Paris" is poisonous, and was anciently used in medicine. It looks weird and deadly.

Marmots, glacier fleas (spring-tails, not true fleas), admirable trout, and burbot (the fresh-water cod, called "lote" in French), outrageous wood-gnats, which English people call by a Portuguese name as soon as they are on the Continent, and singing birds (usually one is too late in the season to hear them) were our zoological accompaniment. There were singularly few butterflies or other insects, probably in consequence of the previous wet weather.

July, 1909



CHAPTER III

GLETSCH

Varied and uncertain as the weather was in Switzerland during July of the year 1910, it showed a more decided character when I returned there at the end of August. For three weeks there was no flood of sunshine, no blazing of a cloudless blue sky, which is the one condition necessary to the perfection of the beauty of Swiss mountains, valleys and lakes. The Oberland was grey and shapeless, the Lauterbruennen valley chilly and threatening; even the divine Jungfrau herself, when not altogether obliterated by the monotonous, impenetrable cloud, loomed in steely coldness—"a sterile promontory." Crossing the mountains from the Lake of Thun, we came to Montreux, only to find the pearl-like surface of the great Lake Leman transformed into lead. Not once in eight days did the celestial fortress called Les Dents du Midi reveal its existence, although we knew it was there, immensely high and remote, far away above the great buttresses of the Rhone valley. So completely was it blotted out by the conversion of that most excellent canopy, the air, into a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours, that it was difficult to imagine that it was still existing, and perhaps even glowing in sunshine above the pall of cloud. Italy, surely, we thought, would be free from this dreadful gloom.

The southern slopes of the Alps are often cloudless when the colder northern valleys are overhung with impenetrable mist. In four hours you can pass now from the Lake of Geneva through the hot Simplon Tunnel to the Lago Maggiore. So, hungering for sunshine, we packed, and ran in the ever-ready train through to Baveno. Thirty years ago we should have had to drive over the Simplon—a beautiful drive, it is true—but we should have taken sixteen hours in actually travelling from Montreux, and have had to pass a night en route at Brieg! A treacherous gleam of sunshine lasting half an hour welcomed us on emerging from the Simplon tunnel, and then for eight days the same leaden aspect of sky, mountain, and lake as that which we had left in Switzerland was maintained. Even this could not spoil altogether the beauty and interest of the fine old garden of the Borromeo family on the Isola Bella. Really big cypress trees, magnificent specimens of the Weymouth pine—the white pine of the United States, Pinus strobus, first brought from the St. Lawrence in 1705, and planted in Wiltshire by Lord Weymouth—a splendid camphor tree, strange varieties of the hydrangea, and many other old-fashioned shrubs adorn the quaint and well-designed terraces of that seat of ancient peace. The granite quarries close behind Baveno, and the cutting and chiselling of the granite by a population of some 2,000 quarrymen and stonemasons, were not deprived of their human interest by rain and skies more grey than the granite itself. But, at last, we gave up Italy in despair, retreated through the tunnel one morning, and an hour after mid-day were careering in a carriage along the Rhone valley—with jingling of bells and much cracking of a harmless whip—upwards on a drive of seven hours to the Rhone glacier, to the hotel called "Gletsch," staking all on the last chance of a change in the weather.

We passed the enclosed meadow near Brieg, whence three days later the splendidly daring South-American aviator started on his flight across the Alps, only to die after victory—a hero, whose courage and fatal triumph were worthy of a better cause. After some hours, passing many a black-timbered mountain village—the houses of which, set on stone piles, are the direct descendants of the pile-supported lake dwellings of the Stone Age on the shores of the Lake of Neuchatel—we came to the upper and narrower part of the valley. The road ascended by zig-zags through pine forests, in which the large blue gentian, with flowers and leaves in double rows on a gracefully bowed stem, were abundant. In open places the barberry, with its dense clusters of crimson fruit, was so abundant as actually to colour the landscape, whilst a huge yellow mullen nearly as big as a hollyhock, and bright Alpine "pinks," were there in profusion. Before the night fell, a long, furry animal, twice the size of a squirrel, and of dark brown colour, crossed the road with a characteristic undulating movement, a few feet in front of our carriage. It was a pine-marten, the largest of the weasel and pole-cat tribe, still to be found in our own north country. It must not be confused with the paler beech-marten of Anne of Brittany, which often takes up its abode in the roofs of Breton houses, according to my own experience in Dinard and the neighbourhood. Night fell, and our horses were still toiling up the mountain road. Impenetrable chasms lay below, and vast precipices above us. We crossed a bridge, and seemed in the darkness to plunge into the sheer rock itself, and, though thrilled with a delightful sense of mystery and awe, were feeling a little anxiety at the prospect of another hour among these gloomy, intangible dangers, when we rounded a projecting rock, and suddenly a brilliant constellation burst into view in the sky. It was the electric outfit of the Belvedere Hotel, 7,500 feet above the sea, and far up more than a thousand feet above us and the glacier's snout. In another minute the great arc lamps of the Gletsch Hotel, close to us, blazed forth, and we were welcomed into its snug hall and warmed by the great log-fire burning on its hospitable hearth.

The next day we were early afoot in the most brilliant sunshine, under a cloudless sky—really perfect Alpine weather. In the shade the persisting night-frost told of the great height of the marvellous amphitheatre which lay before us. The valley by which we had mounted the previous night abruptly abandons its steep gradient and gorge-like character, and widens into a flat, boulder-strewn plain, a little over a mile in diameter, surrounded, except for the narrow gap by which we had entered, by the steep, rocky sides of huge mountains. At the far end of the plain, a mile off, the great Rhone glacier comes toppling over the precipice, a snowy white, frozen cascade of a thousand feet in height. It looks even nearer than it is, and the gigantic teeth of white ice at the top of the fall seem no bigger than sentry-boxes, though we know they are more nearly the size of church steeples. The celebrated Furca road zig-zags up the mountain side for a thousand feet close to the glacier, and when you drive up it and reach the height of the Belvedere, you can step on to the ice close to the road. Then you can mount on to the flat, unbroken surface of the broad glacier stream above the fall, and trace the glacier to the snow-covered mountain-tops in which it originates. There is no such close and intimate view of a glacier to be had elsewhere in Europe by the traveller in diligence or carriage. We walked by the side of the infant Rhone, among the pebbles and boulders, to the overhanging snout of the great glacier from beneath which the river emerges. A very beautiful wine-red species of dwarf willow-herb (Epilobium Fleischeri) was growing abundantly in tufts among the pebbles, and many other Alpine plants greeted our eyes. The heat of the sun was that of midsummer, whilst a delicate air of icy freshness diffused itself from the great frozen mass in front of us.

Some large blocks of the glacier ice had fallen from above, and lay conveniently for examination. Whilst the walls of the ice-caves which have been cut into this and other glaciers present a perfectly smooth, continuous surface of clear ice, these fragments which had fallen from the surface exposed to the heat of the sun, were, as seen in the mass, white and opaque. When a stick was thrust into the mass, it broke into many-sided lumps of the size of a tennis-ball, which separated, and fell apart in a heap, like assorted coals thrown from a scuttle, though white instead of black. These were the curious glacier nodules, "grains du glacier," or "Gletcherkoerne," characteristic of glacier ice as contrasted with lake ice. This structure of the glacier ice is peculiar to it, and is only made evident where the sun's rays penetrate it and melt the less pure ice which holds together the crystalline nodules. According to Dr. J. Young Buchanan, these nodules are masses of ice crystals comparatively free from mineral matter, whilst the water around them, which freezes less readily, contains mineral impurities in solution. The presence of saline matter in solution lowers, in proportion to its amount, the freezing-point of the water. Accordingly, although frozen into one solid mass with the nodules, the cementing ice melts under the heat of the penetrating rays of the sun sooner—that is, at a lower temperature—than do the purer crystalline nodules, and allows them to separate. It is owing to this that the exposed surface of glacier ice is white and powdery, disintegrated by the superficial heat, and forming a rough surface, on which one can safely walk. Lake ice does not break up in this manner under the sun's rays, but as it melts retains its smooth, slippery surface. It is formed in water, and not from the cementing and regelation of the powdery crystalline snow, as is glacier ice.

Pictures of the Rhone glacier published in the year 1820 and in the eighteenth century show that in old days the terminal ice-fall did not end abruptly in a narrowed "snout," as it does now, but spread out into a very broad half-dome or fan-shaped, apron-like expanse, some 700 feet high and a quarter of a mile broad at the base. It was considered one of the wonders of Switzerland, and was pictured in an exaggerated way in travellers' books. In 1873, when I first drove down the Furka road and saw the Rhone glacier, this wonderful, apron-like, terminal expansion of the glacier was still in existence. It has now completely disappeared. In those days, and for many years later, there was only a mule-path over the adjacent Grimsel Pass, but now there is a carriage road leading out of the Rhone glacier's basin northwards to Meiringen, whilst the old-established Furka road, at the other side of the amphitheatre, leads eastward to Andermatt, the St. Gothard, and the Lake of Lucerne. Hence three great roads now meet at Gletsch. Before leaving this wondrous spot we inspected some plump marmots, who were leading a happy life of ease and plenty in a large cage erected in front of the hotel; then in absolutely perfect weather we mounted the Grimsel road. We heard the frequent whistling of uncaged marmots as we ascended, and saw many of the little beasts sitting up on the rocks and diving into concealing crevices as we approached, just as do their smaller but closely allied cousins the prairie marmots (so-called "prairie dogs") of North America. The view, as one ascends the Grimsel, of the snow-peaks around Gletsch is a fine one in itself, but is vastly enhanced in beauty by the plunge downwards of the rocky gorge made by the Rhone as it leaves the flat-bottomed amphitheatre of its birth. The top of the Grimsel Pass, which is a little over 7,000 feet above sea-level, is the most desolate and bare of all such mountain passes. The rock is dark grey, almost black, and of unusually hard character. It is unstratified, and so resistant that it is everywhere worn into smooth, rounded surfaces, instead of being splintered and shattered. A small, black-looking lake at the top of the pass contains to this day the bones of 500 Austrians and French who fought here in 1799. It is called the Totensee, or Dead Men's Lake. At this point one stands on a great watershed, dividing the rivers of the north from the rivers of the south. You may put one foot in a rivulet which is carrying water down the Aar Valley, and through the Lakes of Brienz and of Thun to the Rhine and North Sea, whilst you keep the other in another little stream, whose particles will pass by the Rhone gorge and valley through the Lake of Geneva to the great Rhone and the Mediterranean. Three incomparably fine days—September 17th, 18th, and 19th—atoned for three weeks of sunless cloud. One of them we spent in the high valley of Rosenlaui, where are hairy-lipped gentians and the blue-iced glacier, but of these I have not space to tell. Then the clouds and the rain resumed their odious domination, and we left Lucerne and its lakes invisible, overwhelmed in grey fog, and made for Paris.

October, 1910



CHAPTER IV

THE PROBLEM OF THE GALLOPING HORSE

Until instantaneous photography was introduced, a little more than twenty-five years ago (by the discovery of the means of increasing the sensitiveness of a photographic plate), and gradually became familiar to everyone in the exhibitions known as the "biograph" or "cinematograph," the actual position of the legs in a galloping horse at any given fraction of a second was unknown. Anyone who has tried to "see" their position will agree that it cannot be done. Attempts had been made to make out what the movements and positions of the legs "must" be, by studying the hoof-marks in a soft track laid for the purpose. But the result was not satisfactory.

As everyone knows, the so-called "biograph" pictures are produced by an enormous series of consecutive instantaneous photographs taken on a continuous transparent flexible film or ribbon. The camera has a mechanism attached to it by which the sensitive film is jerked along so as to expose a length of two inches (the size of the picture given by the camera) for, say, one-thirtieth of a second without movement. The film is then jerked on and a second bit of two inches is brought into place for a thirtieth of a second and so on until a ribbon of some thousand pictures is obtained. The interval between each picture is usually also about one-thirtieth of a second, so that at least fifteen pictures are taken in every second of time, and according to the requirements of illumination and the rapidity of the movements of the men or animals photographed this number may be greatly increased. The film is developed, printed and fixed on a similar rolling mechanism and the pictures are thrown one by one by a powerful lantern on to a screen, and are jerked along at the same rate as that at which they were taken, and are magnified enormously. Animals and men in rapid movement, railway trains, the waves of the sea are thus photographed, and when the serial pictures are thrown successively on the screen the result is that the eye detects no interval between the successive pictures—the figures appear as continuous moving objects. This is due to the fact that whilst the impression produced on the retina of the eye by each picture lasts for a tenth of a second (less with brighter light), the interval between the successive pictures is only one-thirtieth of a second, and accordingly the retinal impression has not gone or ceased before the next is there; hence there is no break in the series of retinal impressions, but continuity.[1]



It is this duration of the impression on the retina which prevents us from separating or "seeing distinctly" the successive phases of a horse's legs as he gallops by, and has led to the remarkable result that no artist has ever until twenty-five years ago represented correctly any one phase of the movement of the legs in a galloping horse, and it is doubtful whether that correctness is what the painter of a picture really ought to put on his canvas. If we examine the separate pictures of a galloping horse as taken on a cinematograph film, we have before us the actual record of the positions assumed by the legs at intervals of the thirtieth of a second (or whatever less interval and length of exposure may have been chosen), and it is simply astonishing to find how utterly different they are from what had been supposed. Twenty years ago Mr. Muybridge produced a number of these instantaneous photographs of moving animals—such as the horse in gallop, trot, canter, amble, walk, and jumping and bucking—also the dog running, birds of several kinds flying, camel, elephant, deer, and other animals in rapid movement. The animals were photographed on a track in front of a wall, marked out to show measured yards; the time was accurately recorded to show rate of movement and length of exposure, and of interval between successive pictures. By means of three cameras worked by electric shutter-openers, a side, a back, and a front view of the animal were taken simultaneously. Repeated photographs were obtained at intervals of a fraction of a second, giving a series of fifteen or twenty pictures of the moving animal. The length of exposure for each picture was one-fortieth of a second or less, and the interval between successive pictures was about the same. Muybridge's great difficulty had been to invent a shutter which would act rapidly enough. I have some of these pictures before me now (see Pl. I). They show that what has been drawn by artists and called the "flying gallop," in which the legs are fully extended and all the feet are off the ground, with the hind hoofs turned upwards, never occurs at all in the galloping horse, nor anything in the least like it. There is a fraction of a second when all four legs of the galloping horse are off the ground, but they are not then extended, but, on the contrary, are drawn, the hind ones forward and the front ones backward, under the horses' belly (see Pl. I, figs. 2 and 3). A model showing this actual instantaneous attitude of the galloping horse has recently been placed in the Natural History Museum. When the hoofs touch the ground again after this instantaneous lifting and bending of the legs under the horse, the first to touch it is that of one of the hind legs (Pl. I, fig. 4), which is pushed very far forward, forming an acute angle with the body. The shock of the horse's impact on the ground is thus received by the hind leg, which reaches obliquely forward beneath the body like an elastic <- spring. Since the instantaneous photographs have become generally known artists have ceased to represent the galloping horse in the curious stretched pose which used to be familiar to everyone in Herring's racing plates (see Pl. II, fig. 1), with both fore and hind legs nearly horizontal, and the flat surface of the hind hoofs actually turned upwards! Indeed, as early as 1886 a French painter, M. Aime Morot, availed himself of the information afforded by the then quite novel instantaneous photographs of the galloping horse, and exhibited a picture of the cavalry fight at Rezonville between the French and Germans, in which the old flying gallop does not appear, but the attitudes of the horses are those revealed by the new photographs. The picture is an epoch-making one, whether justifiable or not, and is now in the gallery of the Luxembourg. It must be noted that though Meissonier and others had succeeded in representing more truthfully than had been customary, other movements of the horse, such as "pacing," ambling, cantering, and trotting, yet in regard to them, also, more easily observed because less rapid, the instantaneous photograph served to correct erroneous conclusions.

[Illustration: Plate II.—Various representations of the gallop. Fig. 1.—From Gericault's picture, "The Epsom Derby, 1821." Figs. 2 and 3.—From gold-work on the handle of a Mycenaean dagger, 1800 B.C. Fig. 4.—From iron-work found at Koban, east of the Black Sea, dating from 500 B.C. Fig. 5.—From Muybridge's instantaneous photograph of a fox-terrier, showing the probable origin of the pose of the "flying gallop" transferred from the dog to other animals by the Mycenaeans. Fig. 6.—The stretched-leg prance from the Bayeux tapestry (eleventh century). Fig. 7.—The stretched-leg prance used to represent the gallop by Carle Vernet in 1760. Fig. 8.—The stretched-leg prance used by early Egyptian artists.

Fig. 1. Flying Gallop. (Gericault)

Fig. 2. Flying Gallop. (Mycenaean)

Fig. 3. Galloping Griffon.

Fig. 4. Flying Gallop. (Koben)

Fig. 5. Galloping Dog. (Photograph)

Fig. 6. Bayeux.

Fig. 7. Carle Vernet.

Fig. 8. Egyptian.]

[Illustration: Plate III.—Representations of the gallop. Fig. 1.—A combination of the hinder half of Fig. 10, Pl. I, with the front half of Fig. 4, Pl. I. Fig. 2.—One of the many admirable Chinese representations of the galloping horse. This is very early, namely, 100 A.D. The pose is that of the "flying gallop" as in Figs. 2, 4 and 5 of Pl. II. Fig. 3.—From a Japanese drawing of the seventeenth century; the pose is a modification of the "flying gallop," and agrees closely with that of Fig. 1 in this plate. Fig. 4.—The flex-legged prance from a bas-relief in the frieze of the Parthenon, B.C. 300. Fig. 5.—A modern French drawing giving a pose very similar to that of Figs. 1 and 3. It is the most "effective" pose yet adopted by artists, and is an improvement on the full-stretched flying gallop, though failing to suggest the greatest effort and rapidity. Fig. 6.—Instantaneous photographs of four phases of a horse "jumping."

Fig. 1.

Fig. 2. Early Chinese.

Fig. 3. Japanese, 17th Century.

Fig. 4. Parthenon.

Fig. 5. Conventional Gallop

Fig. 6.]

Two very interesting questions arise in connection with the discovery by instantaneous photography of the actual positions successively taken up by the legs of a galloping horse. The first is one of historical and psychological importance, viz. why and when did artists adopt the false but generally accepted attitude of the "flying gallop"? The second is psychological and also physiological, viz. if we admit that the true instantaneous phases of the horse's gallop (or of any other very rapid movement of anything) cannot be seen separately by the human eye, but can only be separated by instantaneous photography, ought an artist to introduce into a picture, which is not intended to serve merely as a scientific diagram, an appearance which has no actual existence so far as his or other human eyes are concerned, viz. that of the actual pose assumed instantaneously and simultaneously by the four legs of the galloping horse? And further, if he ought not to do this, what ought he to do, on the supposition that his purpose is to convey to others the same impression of rapid movement which exists—not, be it observed, in his eye, or on the retina of that eye—but in his mind, as the result of attention and judgment?

The first of these questions has been answered by the great French authority on archaeology and the history of art, M. Salomon Reinach,[2] whose writings are as lucid and terse as they are accurate, and solidly based on research. M. Reinach shows (and produces drawings to support his statement) that in Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, mediaeval, and modern art up to the end of the eighteenth century "the flying gallop" does not appear at all! The first example (so far as those schools are concerned) is an engraving by G. T. Stubbs in 1794 of a horse called "Baronet." The essential points about "the flying gallop" are that the fore-limbs are fully stretched forward, the hind limbs fully stretched backward, and that the flat surfaces of the hinder hoofs are facing upwards. After this engraving of 1794 the attitude introduced by Stubbs became generally adopted in English art to represent a galloping horse, and the French painter, Gericault, introduced it into France in 1821 in his celebrated picture, the "Derby d'Epsom," (see Pl. II, fig. 1) which is now in the Louvre.

Previously to this there had been three other conventional poses for the running horse in art, of which only the third (to be mentioned below) has any resemblance to a real pose, and that not one of rapid movement. We find: (1) The elongated or stretched-leg "prance" (French, "cabre allonge"), in which, whilst the front legs are off the ground, and all four legs are stretched nearly as much as in the flying gallop, there is this essential difference, viz. that the hoofs of the hind legs are firmly planted on the ground (see Pl. II, fig. 7). This pose is seen in a picture by the same artist (Stubbs) of two years' earlier date than that in which he introduced "the flying gallop." The "stretched-leg prance" is found in Egyptian works (Pl. II, fig. 8) of 580 B.C., and is a favourite pose to indicate the gallop, in ancient Assyrian as well as mediaeval art, for instance, in the Bayeux tapestry (Pl. II, fig. 6). We find, further, (2) that the second pose made use of for this purpose is the "flexed-leg prance," in which all the four legs are flexed, so that the hind legs rest on the ground beneath the horse's body, whilst the forelegs "paw" the air. This is seen both in Egyptian, Greek, and Renaissance art (Leonardo, Raphael, and Velasquez). It is by no means so graceful or true to Nature as the next pose, but gives an impression of greater energy and rapidity. The third pose represents a kind of "prancing," and is seen on the frieze of the Parthenon (Pl. III, fig. 4), and in many subsequent Greek, Roman, and other works copied from or inspired by, this Greek original. One only of the hind legs is on the ground, and the animal's body is thrown up as though its advance were checked by the rein. It is called "the canter" by M. Reinach, but that term can only be applied to it when the axis of the body is horizontal and parallel to the surface of the ground.

The reader will perhaps now suppose that we must attribute the "flying gallop" to the original, if inaccurate genius of an eighteenth century English horse-painter. That, however, is not the case. M. Reinach has shown that it has a much more extraordinary history. It is neither more nor less than the fact that in the pre-Homeric art of Greece—that which is called "Mycenaean" (of which so much was made known by the discoveries of that wonderful man Schliemann when he dug up the citadel of Agamemnon)—the figures of animals, horses, deer, bulls (see the beautiful gold cups of Vaphio), dogs, lions, and griffins, in the exact conventional pose of "the flying gallop," are quite abundant! (See Pl. II, figs. 2, 3 and 4.) There was an absolute break in the tradition of art between the early gold-workers of Mykene (1800 to 1000 B.C.) and the Greeks of Homer's time (800 B.C.). Europe never received it, nor did the Assyrians nor the Egyptians. Thirty centuries and more separate the reappearance in Europe of the flying gallop—through Stubbs—from the only other European examples of it—the Mycenaean. What, then, had become of it, and how did it come to England? M. Reinach shows, by actual specimens of art-work, that the Mycenaean art tradition, and with it the "flying gallop," passed slowly through Asia Minor north eastwards to the Trans-caucasus (Koban, 500 B.C.), to Northern Persia, and thence by Southern Siberia to the Chinese Empire (Pl. III, fig. 2) as early as 150 B.C., and that the "flying gallop," so to speak, "flourished" there for centuries, and was transmitted by the Chinese artists to the Japanese, in whose drawings it is frequent (Pl. III, fig. 3). It was at last finally brought back to Europe, and to the extreme west of it, namely, England, by the importation in the eighteenth century into England of large numbers of Japanese works of art. It was a Japanese drawing (M. Reinach infers) which suggested to Stubbs the upturned hinder hoofs and the detachment from the ground of "the flying gallop" which he gave in his portrait of "Baronet," and so established that pose for a century in modern European art. This is a delightful tracing out of the wanderings of an artistic "convention," and the curious thing is that its chief importance is not that it has to do with the movements of the horse, but that it tends (as do other discoveries) to establish the gradual passage of pre-classical Mycenaean art across Central Asia to China and Japan by trade routes and human migrations which had no touch with later Greece nor with Assyria nor India.

How did the Mycenaeans come to invent, or at any rate adopt, the convention of "the flying gallop," seeing that it does not truly represent either the fact or the appearance of a galloping horse? Though 20,000 years ago the earliest of all known artists, the wonderful cave-men of the Reindeer period, drew bison, boars, and deer in rapid running movement with consummate skill, they were (be it said to their credit!) innocent of the conventional pose of the "flying gallop." I base this statement on my own knowledge of their work. M. Reinach thinks that the "flying gallop" was devised as an intentional expression of energy in movement. I venture to hold the opinion that it was observed by the Mycenaeans in the dog, in which Muybridge's photographs (now before me) demonstrate that it occurs regularly as an attitude of that animal's quickest pace or gallop (see fig. 5, Pl. II). It is easy to see the "flying gallop" in the case of the dog, since the dog does not travel so fast as the galloping horse, and can be more readily brought under accurate vision on account of its smaller size. The late Professor Marey (a great investigator of animal movement) appears to have denied that the dog exhibits the full stretch of both limbs with the pads of the hind-feet upturned, and all the feet free from the ground. He was mistaken, as Muybridge's photograph giving side and back view of a galloping fox-terrier amply demonstrates. It is quite in accordance with probability that the early Mycenaean artists, having seen how the dog gallops, erroneously proceeded to put the galloping horse, and all other animals which they wished "to make gallop," into the same position.

It appears, then, that the poses used by artists at different times and in different parts of the world to represent the "galloping" of the horse have no correspondence to any of the poses actually assumed by a galloping horse as now demonstrated by instantaneous photography. The "prancing" attitude of the horses of the frieze of the Parthenon was probably not intended to represent rapid movement at all. The "stretched-leg" pose and the "flex-leg" pose are, as a matter of fact, phases of "the jump," and are definitely recorded in Muybridge's instantaneous photographs of the jumping horse, but have no existence in "galloping" nor in any rapid running of the horse. They were probably adopted by the artists of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and their successors in Europe as an expedient without conviction, to represent rapid movement, the true poses of which defied satisfactory reproduction. And it is also the fact that the "flying gallop," which appeared in Mycenaean art thirty-seven centuries ago, and then travelled by a "Scythian" route through Tartary to China, and came back to Europe at the end of the eighteenth century, is also—so far as it has any real representative in the action of the horse—only approached by a brief phase of the "jump." The poses of the horse in jumping are shown in the small figures taken from instantaneous photographs and reproduced in Fig. 6 of Pl. III. The "flying gallop" ("ventre a terre"), with all four legs stretched, and the under surface of the hind feet upturned, is really seen by us all every day in the dog, and is recorded in instantaneous photographs of that animal going at full speed. In fact, the gallop of the dog (and of some other small animals) is a series of jumps; the animal "bounds along." But this is a totally different thing from the gallop of the horse. It is probable that the dog's gallop was transferred, so to speak, to the horse by artists, and a certain justification for it was found in one of the attitudes of a jumping horse, which, however, never exhibits both the front and the hind legs simultaneously in so completely horizontal a position as they are made to take in the Mycenaean gold-work and the modern "racing plates."

How, then, we may now ask, ought an artist to represent a galloping horse? Some critics say that he ought not to represent anything in such rapid action at all. But, putting that opinion aside, it is an interesting question as to what a painter should depict on his canvas in order to convey to others who look at it the state of mind, of impression, feeling, emotion, judgment, which a live, galloping horse produces in him. The scientific draughtsman would, of course, present to us a series of drawings exactly like the instantaneous photographs, his object being to show what "is," and not what the artist aims at, namely, what "appears," "seems," or (without pondering and analysis) "is thought to be." The painter, in his quality of artist, would be wrong to select any one of the dozen or more poses of the galloping horse published by Muybridge, each limited to the fortieth of a second, since no human eye can fix (as the photographic camera can) separate pictures following one another at the rate of twenty a second, each enduring one fortieth of a second, and each separated by an interval of a fortieth of a second from the next. All the phases which occur in any one-tenth of a second (only two, or possibly three of the Muybridge series shown in Pl. I) are, as it were, fused in our visual impression, because each picture lasts on the retina of the eye for one-tenth of a second, or (to put it more accurately) because the "impression" or condition of the retina produced by each picture persists or endures for the tenth of a second.

It may, perhaps, be suggested (and, indeed, has been), that it is the "blurred" or "fused" picture produced by the successive poses of the galloping horse's legs in one-tenth of a second that the painter ought to imitate on his canvas. In support of this notion we have the fact that the rapidly running wheels of a coach or of a gun-carriage (as in the pictures by Wouwerman) are represented by artists, not with the twelve or fourteen spokes which we know to be there—and would be photographed as separate things in an exposure of the fortieth of a second—but as a blurred haze of some fifty or more indistinct "spokes." In this case it undoubtedly results that the observer of the picture is satisfied and receives the mental impression or illusion of a rapid rotation of the wheel. I have tried the experiment with instantaneous photographs of the galloping horse, and I get three results: first, no combination of successive phases occupying one-tenth of a second gives anything resembling the "flying gallop" of the racing plates (the Mycenaean and Stubbsian pose), or any other conventional pose; second, no combination of successive instantaneous photographs limited to ten second gives any pose which satisfies the judgment and suggests a movement like the gallop; third, the combination which comes nearest to satisfying the judgment as being a natural appearance, but does not quite succeed in doing so, is one formed by the fusion of figs. 2 and 3 of Pl. I. This gives all four legs off the ground, drawn up or flexed beneath the horse's body, as in Morot's picture of the sabre-charge at Resonville.

The fact is that we have to take into consideration two other factors in the process, which we call "seeing," besides the duration of the retinal impression or excitation. These are, first, attention, and second, judgment. We are apt to think that "seeing" is a simple, straightforward sort of thing, whereas it is really a strangely complex and delusive process. "I did not see it, therefore it was not there," or "You must have seen it; it was right in front of you," are common assertions, and the belief that such assertions are justified leads to miscarriage of justice in courts of law. Yet everyone knows that he may stare out of the window of a railway carriage and have a long panorama pass before his eyes, or may walk along a crowded street and look his acquaintances in the face, and in neither case will he have "seen" or recognized anything, or be able to give an account of the scene that was pictured on the back of his eye. Attention, the direction of the mind to the sensation, is necessary; and it appears that it is very difficult (to some more than to others) to hold the attention alert, and to give it to the unexpected. In fact, to a very large extent we can only "see" (using the word to signify the ultimate mental condition) that which we are prepared to see or that which we expect to see. In the absence of such expectation, a very strongly illuminated or well-marked, outstanding object is far more readily "seen" than less marked objects. Accordingly, the outstretched legs of the galloping horse, now in front and now behind, are "seen," whilst the rest of the phases are not observed. Moreover, it is a fact that the swinging pendulum of a clock is "seen" at the extreme position of the swing on each side, and not in the intermediate space. This is because the image is formed very quickly, twice in the space where the bob of the pendulum is coming to the limit of its swing and is again returning on its course. For the same reason, the outstretched legs of the horse going up to their limit and at once returning give in very quick succession, near their extreme limit, an ascending and a descending phase which are not strictly but sensibly alike, and so doubly impress the retina, and obtain for the legs "attention" when in that extreme position. The choice of the attitude depicted by Morot is explained by the fact that, as is shown by its persistence through two successive pictures (figs. 2 and 3 of Pl. I), this pose must produce a more continuous impression on the retina than any other of the attitudes shown, since none of them endure through two successive pictures.

The mental process of attention results in a certain duration or memory of the mental condition which is a distinct thing from the primary retinal impression, and leads to the ignoring or mental obliteration of an instantaneous interval separating two phases of the position of moving legs which have strongly "arrested the attention." Hence, it seems that the most forward pose of the galloping horse's front legs and the most backward pose of its hind legs—though far from simultaneous, even in the slow changing retinal impressions—may be mentally combined by "the arrest of attention," and that the artist really ought to present his picture of the galloping horse with those two poses combined (although as a matter of scientific truth they do not occur simultaneously) in order that he may produce by his painted piece of canvas, as nearly as he can, the mental result which we call "seeing" a horse gallop. This combination of the front half of one figure with the hinder half of another so as to give in each case the extreme phase of extension of the legs I have made in Pl. I, fig. 12.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse