Imágenes de páginas

The other cards were now exhibited in succession, of which the box contained eighteen, and the whole party, not even excepting the vicar, were highly gratified with the amusement.

“ But I have not yet read to you the author's address to the public; and which, I must say, contains a succession of very happy puns.”

“ Spare me ! spare me!” cried the vicar: “I like your toy, but cannot discover the advantage of alloying amusement with such spurious wit, and of associating science with buffoonery."

Mr. Seymour, however, was relentless, and thus proceeded : “ It is well known that the Laputan philosopher invented a piece of machinery, by which works could be composed by a mechanical operation; and the Quarterly Review has asserted, that a certain English poem was fabricated in Paris, by the powers of a steamengine; but the author of the present invention claims for himself the exclusive merit of having first constructed a hand-mill, by which puns and epigrams may be turned with as much ease as tunes are played on the hand-organ, and old jokes so rounded and changed, as to assume all the airs of originality. The inventor confidently anticipates the favour and patronage of an enlightened and liberal public, on the wellgrounded assurance, that " one good turn deserves another;' and he trusts that his discovery may afford the happy means of giving activity to wit that has been long stationary ; of revolutionising the present system of standing jokes, and of putting into rapid circulation the most approved bon mots."

“ Why, vicar, what ails thee?” exclaimed the major.

“ Our subject has given him a turn; let him alone, and he will soon come round,observed Mr. Seymour.

The whole party, with the exception of Mr. Twaddleton, burst into a roar of laughter; the vicar, however, did not relax a feature of his countenance.

As soon as this ebullition had subsided, the major enquired of Mrs. Seymour, what was the nature of the improvement she had contemplated.

“ My proposed improvements refer both to the subjects, exhibited on the cards, and to the mechanism by which their changes are effected,” replied Mrs. Seymour. “ In the first place, it has occurred to me that

this amusing toy might be made instrumental in impressing classical subjects upon the memory of young persons.”

This observation delighted the vicar, who said that he would patronise such an attempt with all his heart.

“ Why can we not,” continued the lady, “ thus represent the Metamorphoses of Ovid; or what say you, vicar, to converting the fleet of Æneas into sea-nymphs, as Virgil has it?”

“ An elegant thought ! upon my word, madam; a most elegant conception !” exclaimed Mr. Twaddleton.

66 What have we here?” interrupted the major, who had, for the first time, noticed the superscription on the cover of the box: “ had I seen this before, I should have augured favourably of the toy: it is like the sign of an inn, which is held out to announce good entertainment within.” He then read the following:

The Thaumatrope;

Rounds of Amusement,


How to please and surprise

By Turns.

Mrs. Seymour now quitted the room in order to prepare for the exhibition of her improved thaumatrope.

During her absence, Mr. Seymour proceeded. to explain more fully the optical theory of the instrument, which neither Louisa nor Tom could, as yet, thoroughly understand.

He told them that an object was seen by the eye, in consequence of its image being delineated on the retina, or optic nerve, which is situated on the back part of the eye; and that it had been ascertained, by experiment, that the impression which the mind thus receives, lasts for about the eighth part of a second, after the image is removed. “ It is, therefore, sufficiently evident," said Mr. Seymour, “ that if any point, as a lighted stick, be made to revolve, so as to complete the circle in that period, we shall not see a fiery point, but a fiery circle; because the impression made by it in every point of its circuit will remain until it comes round again to the spot from which it set out; — but we will, at once, exemplify this fact by an experiment.”

Tom was accordingly directed to procure a piece of stick and a candle; and as soon as they were brought into the room, Mr. Seymour

ignited the end of the stick, and whirled it round, when a bright circle, without any intervals of darkness, was seen by the whole party.

“ Never until this instant,” exclaimed the vicar, with an expression of high satisfaction, “ did I fully appreciate the beauty of that passage in Milton, wherein the poet evidently describes the rapidity of Satan's flight, as well as the refulgence of his appearance

“ • Sprung upward like a pyramid of fire.'

- Now to take in the full meaning of this figure," continued Mr. Twaddleton, “ we must imagine ourselves in chaos, and that a vast luminous body is rising near the spot where we may be supposed to be standing, so swiftly as to appear a continued track of light, and lessening to the view, according to the increase of distance, until it ends in a point, and then disappears; and all this must be supposed to strike our eye at one instant."

• It is very probable,” said Mr. Seymour, 6 that the poet had such an idea in view, and that he intended by it to convey the immense rapidity of Satan's flight. Homer makes use of

« AnteriorContinuar »