WAIFS AND STRAYS.
New Zealand Tablet, Volume II, Issue 105, 1 May 1875, Page 9
WAIFS AND STRAYS.
Good Mkmory. In the last issue of the Printer's Circular/ there is an article from an English Magazine on remarkable feats of memorising. All the examples were extraordinary, and what is more to the point, well authenticated. The British writer, however, ignored one remarkable instance of a retentive memory, and that one was the strong mental storehouse of Houdin, the famous French necromancer, now no more. Houdin could pass through a library where he had not been "before, read the titles of the volumes, note their bindings and position on the shelves, and hours afterward astonish his host and guests by telling them the names of the books in the library, the styles of binding, shapes of letters on the backs, whether large, small, gilt, or plain. Houdin, who, though a clever mystifier, was as far as possible removed from a charlatan, frankly telling us in his memoirs that he cultivated his remarkable pneumonic faculties by noting, as he passed along the streets, all the articles in shop windows, trying his utmost to remember as many of them as possible, repeating the names and peculiarities of the varied contents to himself, and then invariably returning to verify his mental catalogue. Persevering in this odd school, he succeeded so admirably that he could, at a passing glance, memorise the contents of a library. And there lived in the last century an obscure London actor, who could, after a single reading, repeat backwards the contents of any newspaper, advertisements and all. In the latter instance, the wondrous power of memory was a gift of nature and not an acquired art, as in the case of Houdin. And the actor Sothern_could memorise the words of his part while his wife read them to him, he reclining upon a lounge wearied by rehearsals and performances. Catchins Turtles in Sottth Amebica. The turtle is the main source of food supply to the Combo. The forests and waters furnish him with fish, flesh, and fowl in great variety, but he cares for little else besides the turtle when he can procure it. Between August 15 and September the Ist, the waters of the TTcayali, the affluent of the Amazon, on which Conibos live, become less impetuous, in consequence of the snow having ceased to fall on the summits of the Andes. Vast spaces of sand are left bare, and the turtle fishing at once commences. On a fixed day the Conibos embark in canoes furnished with •llnecesßary utensils, and travel up and down the river for from thirty to sixty or even one hundred miles. When they discover on
-th'G shore the claw-marked furrow made l>y the turtle when walking, they, call 8, halt, and, having builtat oome-two hundred yards from, the water their tents, ,they patiently wait in ambush the arrival o£ their amphibious prey. Generally, their instinct is so unerring that their encampment hardly precedes by more than a day or two the appearance of the turtles. On a dark night, between midnight and two o'clock an immense swell agitates the river. Its waters fairly seem to boil. Thousands of turtles come .clumsily tumbling out of the river and spread themselves over the shore. r Xhe Combos, squatting, or kneeling, under their leafy sheds, and keeping profound silence, await the moment for action. The turtles, who separate themselves into detachments on leaving the water, dig rapidly with their fore feet a> trench often 200 yards long, and aiways four feet broad by two deep. They apply themselves to their work with such zeal that the sand flies about them and envelopes them as in a fog. As soon as they are satisfied that their trench is large enough they deposit in it their softshelled eggs to the number of forty to seventy, and with their hind feet quickly fill up the trench. In this contest of paddling feet more than one turtle, tumbled over by his companions, rolls into the trench and is buried alive. Now the moment has arrived for which the Coniboß have anxiously waited. At a given signal the whole band suddenly rise from their lurking-places, and dash off in pursuit of the amphibia, not to cut off their retreat for they would themselves be trampled under foot by the resistless squadrons but to rush upon their flanks, seize them by their tails and throw them over on their backs. Before the turtles have disappeared, a thousand prisoners often remain in the hands of the assailants. Scribner's Monthly.' The Stbangest of Dfeis. Perhaps the most remarkable duel ever fought took place in 1803. It was peculiarly French in its tone, and could, hardly have occurred under any other than a French state of society. M. le Grandpre and M. le Pique had a quarrel, arising out of jealousy concerning & lady. They agreed to fight a. duel to settle their respective claims and, in order that the heat of angry passion should not interfere with the polished elegance of the proceeding, they postponed the duel for a month, the lady agreeing to bestow her hand on the survivor of the two, if the other was killed at all events, this was inferred by the two men, if not actually expressed. The duellists were to fight in the air. Two balloons were constructed exactly alike. On the day denoted Le G-randpre and his second entered the car of one balloon, Le Pique and his second that of the other it was in the garden of the Tuileries, amid an immense concourse of spectators. The gentlemen were to fire, nob at each other, but at each other's balloon, in order to bring them down by the escape of gas and, as pistols might hardly have served this purpose, each aeronaut took a blunderbuss in his car. At the given signal the ropes that retained the cars were cut, and the balloons ascended. The wind was moderate, and kept the balloons at about the original distance of 80 yards apart. When hah: a mile above the surface of. the earth, a preconcerted signal for firing was given. M. le Pique fired but missed. M. le G-randpre fired, and sent a ball through Le Pique's balloon. The balloon collapsed, the car descending with frightfulrapidity,andLe Pique andhis second were dashedtodieces. Le G-randpre continued his ascent triumphantly, and terminated his aerial voyage successfully. Thb Fate op the Stuarts. Since the time of CEdipus no royal line has equalled that of the Stuarts in its calamities. The first James, adorned with the graces of poetry and chivalry, a wise legistor, a sagacious and resolute king, perished, as we have seen, in his forty-fourth year. His son, the second James, was killed in his thirteetb. year at the siege of Roxburgh Castle, by the bursting of 'a cannon. The third James, after the battle of Sauchieburn, in which his rebellious subjects were countenanced and aided by his own son, was stabbed in his thirty-sixth year, beneath a humble roof, by a pretended priest. That son, the chivalrous madman of Flodden, compassed his own death and that of the flower of his kingdom, while only forty years of age, by a foolish knight-errantry. At an age ten years younger his only son, James the fifth, died of a broken heart. Over the sufferings and follies, and over the'mournful and unwarrantable doom of the beauteous Mary, the world will never cease to debate. Her grandson expiated at Whitehall, by a bloody death, the errors induced by his self-will and his pernicious education. The Second Charles, the Merry Monarch, had a fate as sad as any of his ancestors, for though he died in bed, his life was that of a heartless voluptuary, who had found in years of seeming prosperity neither truth in man nor fidelity in woman. His brother James lost three kingdoms, and disinherited the dynasty, for his adherence to the f nith of his fathers. The Old Pretender was a cipher, and the Young Pretender, after a youthful flash of promise, passed a useless life, and ended it as a drunken dotard. The hist of the race, Henry, Cardinal York, died in 1804, and a pensioner of that House of Hanover against which his father and brother had waged war with no advantage to themselves, and with the forfeiture of lifa and lands, of liberty and country, to many of the noblest and most chivalrous inhabitants of our island. A. Novel use for Paper. The Connecticut Eiver Railroad Company is about introducing for trial a set of paper car wheels under the forward truck of one of its engines. These wheels axe manufactured by bringing a pressure of 350 tons on sheets of common straw paper, which is turned perfectly round and the bulb forced into a hole in the centre, this requiring a pressure of 25 tons weight. The tire is of steel, and has a one-quarter inch bevel upon the inner edge, thus allowing the paper filling to be forced in, 250 tons pressure required in the process. Two iron slates, one upon each side of the paper, are bolted together, which prevents the possibility of the fillings coming out. The tire rests upon the paper only, and partakes of its elasticity in consequence. The Emperor William has presented to Prince Bismaack and Count von Moltke, as Christmas gifts, miniature models, carefully executed, of the Colvmn of Victory," Berlin, commemorating the three last victorious campaigns: