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owing to the elasticity of air, which causes it to increase in volume as it escapes from pressure, the atmosphere is rarer in proportion as we ascend, so that to leave a given weight of it behind, the ascent must be greater, the higher the situation where the experiment is made; the rule therefore of one inch of mercury for a thousand feet, holds only for rough estimates near the surface of the earth. The precise calculation, however, for any case, is still very easy; and a good barometer, with a thermometer attached, and with tables, or an algebraical formula expressing all the influencing circumstances, enables us to ascertain elevations much more easily, and in many cases more correctly, than by trigonometrical survey.
The weight of the whole atmospherical ocean surrounding the earth being equal to that of a watery ocean of thirty-four feet deep, or of a covering of mercury of thirty inches, and the air found at the surface of the earth being eight hundred and forty times lighter than water, if
times 840, or about 28,000 feet high, which is equal to five miles and a balf. On account of the greater rarity, however, in the superior regions, it really extends to a height of nearly fifty miles. From the. known laws of aerial elasticity, we can deduce what is found to hold in fact, that one half of all the air constituting our atmosphere exists
and a hibe fom constituting cours atmosphere for within three miles and a half from the earth's surface; that is to say, under the level of the summit of Mount Blanc. A person, unaccustomed to calculation, would suppose the air to be more equally distributed through the fifty miles than this rule indicates, as he might at first also suppose a tube of two feet diameter to hold only twice as much as a tube of one foot, although in reality it holds four times as much.
In carrying a barometer from the level of the Thames to the top of St. Paul's Church in London, or of Hampstead Hill, the mercury falls about half an inch, marking an ascent of about five hundred feet. On Mount Blanc it falls to half of the entire barometric height, marking an elevation of fifteen thousand feet; and in Du Luc's famous balloon ascent it fell to below twelve inches, indicating an elevation of twentyone thousand feet, the greatest to which man has ever ascended from the surface of his earthly habitation.
The extreme rarity of the air on high mountains must of course affect animals. A person breathing on the summit of Mount Blanc,
although expanding his chest as much as usual, really takes in at each inspiration only half as much air as he does below-exhibiting a contrast to a man in the diving-bell, who at thirty-four feet under water is breathing air of double density, at sixty-eight feet of triple, and so on. It is known that travellers, and even their practised guides, often fall down suddenly as if struck by lightning, when approaching lofty summits, on account chiefly of the thinness of the air which they are breathing, and some minutes elapse before they recover. In the elevated plains of South America, the inhabitants have larger chests than the inhabitants of lower regions-another admirable instance of the animal frame adapting itself to the circumstances in which it is placed. It appears from all this, that although our atmosphere be fifty miles high, it is so thin beyond three miles and a half, that moun. tain ridges of greater elevation are nearly as effectual barriers between nations of men, as islands or rocky ridges in the sea are between the finny tribes inhabiting the opposite coasts.
21.-A COMPLAINT OF THE DECAY OF BEGGARS IN THE METROPOLIS.
C. LAMB. [CHARLES LAMB—what shall we say of the most original, most quaint, most simple, most touching, of all modern essayists? No critical line and level can measure the sinuosities of his rich and overflowing runlet of thought; no plummet can gauge the depth of his quiet but most genial humour. Few are his writings;- but there are, in their way, not many higher things in any language. They are finished works of art. How did he form his style? It is the revelation of his own nature. It lets us into the innermost depths of the man as completely as Montaigne shows us himself in all his nakedness; but there are no painful exposures of gross desires and unlawful imaginings. He has as keen a sense of the hiding-places of vice and meanness as Swift; but he has no truculent abuse or withering sarcasm for what he dislikes. He has a large toleration of all human infirmity, and a cordial love of all human excellence. He deposits no offerings on the altars of conventional opinions; he mouths nc common-places about goodness and greatness; he blindly worships neither purple nor rags. He delights in queer books and queer men and women. He sees in what is called a character some rich fruit under a rough rind; and he gets at the juice through the husk in a way which is, to say the least,
real philosophy. If any man thoroughly believed in the humanizing principle that “there is a soul of goodness in things evil," it was . Charles Lamb. He was born in London in 1775 ; educated at Christ's Hospital ; laboured as a clerk in London till 1825; and died in the neighbourhood of London in 1834. There he drew the materials for his Essays. In one of his letters he says, “I often shed tears in the motley Strand, for feeling of joy at so much life." His prose works have been published in three volumes : his poems in one volume.]
The all-sweeping besom of societarian reformation—your only modern Alcides' club to rid the time of its abuses—is uplift with manyhanded sway to extirpate the last fluttering tatters of the bugbear Mendicity from the metropolis. Scrips, wallets, bags—staves, dogs, and crutches-the whole mendicant fraternity, with all their baggage, are fast posting out of the purlieus of this eleventh persecution. From the crowded crossing, from the corners of streets and turnings of alleys, the parting genius of beggary is “with sighing sent."
I do not approve of this wholesale going to work, this impertinent crusado or bellum ad exterminationem proclaimed against a species. Much good might be sucked from these Beggars. .
They were the oldest and the honourablest form of pauperism. Their appeals were to our common nature ; less revolting to an ingenuous mind than to be a suppliant to the particular humours or caprice of any fellow-creature, or set of fellow-creatures, parochial or societarian. Theirs were the only rates uninvidious in the levy, ungrudged in the assessment.
There was a dignity springing from the very depth of their desolation; as to be naked is to be so much nearer to the being a man, than to go in livery.
The greatest spirits have felt this in their reverses ; and when Dionysius from king turned schoolmaster, do we feel any thing towards him but contempt ? Could Vandyke have made a picture of him, swaying a ferula for a sceptre, which would have affected our minds with the same heroic pity, the same compassionate admiration, with which we regard his Belisarius begging for an obolum ? Would the moral have been more graceful, more pathetic ?
The Blind Beggar in the legend — the father of pretty Bessywhose story doggrel rhymes and alehouse signs cannot so degrade or
attenuate, but that some sparks of a lustrous spirit will shine through the disguisements—this noble Earl of Cornwall (as indeed he was) and memorable sport of fortune, fleeing from the unjust sentence of his liege lord, stript of all, and seated on the flowering green of Bethnal, with his more fresh and springing daughter by his side, illumining his rags and his beggary.— would the child and parent have cut a better figure, doing the honours of a counter, or expiating their fallen condition upon the three-foot eminence of some sempstering shop-board?
In tale or history your Beggar is ever the first antipode to your King. The poets and romancical writers (as dear Margaret Newcastle would call them), when they would most sharply and feelingly paint a reverse of fortune, never stop till they have brought down their hero in good earnest to rags and the wallet. The depth of the descent illustrates the height he falls from. There is no medium which can be presented to the imagination without offence. There is no breaking the fall. Lear, thrown from his palace, must divest him of his garments, till he answer “mere nature,” and Cresseid, fallen from a prince's love, must extend her pale arms, pale with other whiteness than of beauty, supplicating lazar alms with bell and clap-dish.
The Lucian wits knew this very well; and, with a converse policy, when they would express scorn of greatness without the pity, they show us an Alexander in the shades cobbling shoes, or a Semiramis getting up foul linen.
How would it sound in song, that a great monarch had declined his affections upon the daughter of a baker! Yet do we feel the imagination at all violated when we read the “true ballad” where king Cophetua woos the beggar maid ?
Pauperism, pauper, poor man, are expressions of pity, but pity alloyed with contempt. No one properly contemns a beggar. Poverty is a comparative thing, and each degree of it is mocked by its “neighbour grice.” Its poor rents and comings-in are soon summed up and told. Its pretences to property are almost ludicrous. Its pitiful attempts to save excite a smile. Every scornful companion can weigh his trifle-bigger purse against it. Poor man reproaches poor man in the streets with impolitic mention of his condition, his own being a shade better, while the rich pass by and jeer at both. No rascally comparative insults a Beggar, or thinks of weighing purses with him. He is not in the scale of comparison. He is not under the measure of property. He confessedly hath none, any more than a dog or a sheep. No one twitteth him with ostentation above his means. No one accuses him of pride, or upbraideth him with mock humility. None jostle with him for the wall, or pick quarrels for precedency. No wealthy neighbour seeketh to eject him from his tenement. No man sues him. No man goes to law with him. If I were not the in. dependent gentleman that I am, rather than I would be a retainer to the great, a led captain, or a poor relation, I would choose, out of the delicacy and true greatness of my mind, to be a Beggar.
Rags, which are the reproach of poverty, are the Beggar's robes and graceful insignia of his profession, his tenure, his full dress, the suit in which he is expected to show himself in public. He is never out of the fashion, or limpeth awkwardly behind it. He is not required to put on court mourning. He weareth all colours, fearing none. His costume hath undergone less change than the Quakers'. He is the only man in the universe who is not obliged to study appearances. The ups and downs of the world concern him no longer. He alone continueth in one stay. The price of stock or land affecteth him not. The fluctuation of agricultural or commercial prosperity toucheth him not, or at worst, but change his customers. He is not expected to become bail or surety for any one. No man troubleth him with questioning his religion or politics. He is the only free man in the universe.
The Mendicants of this great city were so many of her rights, her lions. I can no more spare them than I could the Cries of London. No corner of a street is complete without them. They are as indispensable as the Ballad Singer; and in their picturesque attire as ornamental as the signs of old London. They were the standing morals, emblems, mementos, dial-mottos, the spital sermons, the books for children, the salutary checks and pauses to the high and rushing tide of greasy citizenry;
-“ Look Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there." Above all, those old blind Tobits that used to line the wall of Lincoln's Inn Garden, before modern fastidiousness had expelled them, casting up their ruined orbs to catch a ray of pity, and (if possible) of light, with their faithful Dog Guide at their feet—whither are they