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another Laocoon, he deprecated the introduction of the “donum exitiale” within the walls of Overton Lodge. But his hostility was
soon disarmed, not by the circumvolutions of a snake around the body of the enraged orator, but by the embraces of little Rosa, who threw her arms around the neck of the vicar, with such supplicating grace, that at length he exclaimed, “Well, well; if it be the decree of the fates, I must submit.”
During this altercation, Mr. Seymour had procured the “wooden engine” from his study.
“ I will first,” said he, “exhibit the toy in its original state, and then show you the improvements which have been effected in it by Mrs. Seymour."
6. Let us hear the account of its operation," said the major, “ which I perceive is enclosed within the box."
" True,” replied Mr. Seymour ; “ and its inventor has given a very plausible explanation of its effects.”
6 Plausible,” muttered the vicar, “ plausible enough, no doubt; oh the Sinon!”
Mr. Seymour then proceeded. is termed the THAUMATROPE.”
66 This toy “Of Grecian origin !" observed the vicar. 66 « Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,' as Virgil has it."
“ What is the meaning of the term ?” asked Louisa. The vicar explained to her that it was compounded of the Greek words, bauud, and TPERW ; the former of which signified wonder, the latter, to turn."
“ Exactly,” replied Mr. Seymour, “ 'A Wonder-turner,' or a toy which performs wonders by turning round; but let me proceed in the explanation.” He then continued to read as follows: “ This philosophical toy is founded upon the well-known optical principle, that an impression, made on the retina of the eye, lasts for a short interval, after the object which produced it has been withdrawn. During the rapid whirling of the card, the figures on each of its sides are presented with such quick transition that they both appear at the same instant, and thus occasion a very striking and magical effect. On each of these cards a device is introduced, with an appropriate motto, or epigram; the point of which is answered, or explained, by the change which the figure assumes during the rapid whirling of the card.”
“ It may be very clever,” said the vicar, “but I do not understand it."
“ But you shortly will ; look at one of the cards."
Mr. Seymour then displayed a pasteboard circle, on the one side of which was figured a rat, and on the other, a cage; two strings were fastened in its axis, by which the card could easily be made to 'revolve, by means of the thumb and finger. Fearing that some of our readers may be as dull of comprehension as the vicar, we have introduced a sketch of the
apparatus, in which both sides of the card are exhibited, with the strings by which it is whirled round.
No sooner had Mr. Seymour put the card in motion than the vicar, in a tone of the greatest surprise, exclaimed, “Magic ! magic! I declare the rat is in the cage ! !” 66 And what is the motto?” asked Louisa. Why is this rat like an opposition member
in the House of Commons, who joins the ministry ?” replied Mr. Seymour.
“ Ha, ha, ha, — excellent,” cried the major, as he read the following answer : “ because by turning round he gains a snug birth, but ceases to be free.”
“ The very reverse to what occurred in ancient Rome, where the slave became free, by turning round,” observed the vicar.
The vicar, no doubt, alluded to the custom of making a freeman, as described by Persius; from which it appears, that the clapping a cap on the head, and giving him a turn on the heel, were necessary circumstances. A slave thus qualified became a citizen of Rome, and was honoured with a name more than belonged to any of his forefathers, which Persius has repeated with a great deal of humour in his 5th satire :
Heu steriles veri, quibus una Quiritem
“ That false enfranchisement with ease is found;
“ Show us another card,” said Tom, eagerly. “ Here then is a watch-box; when I turn it
round, you will see the watchman comfortably sleeping at his post.”
Very good! It is very surprising," observed the vicar.
6 Yes,” observed the major; “ and to carry on your political joke, it may be said that, like most worthies who gain a post, by turning round, he sleeps over his duty.”
“ The epigram which accompanies it is not deficient in point,” said Mr. Seymour. “ The caprice of this watchman surpasses all bounds;
He ne'er sits in his box, but when going his rounds: While he no sooner rests, 'tis a strange paradox! Than he flies from his post, and turns out of his box.”
“ What have you there?” exclaimed the vicar; “ arms and legs, without any body ?”
“ Yes,” replied Mr. Seymour ; " and which, on turning round, will present the figure of a king, invested with all the insignia of royalty."
“ It is indeed a king. Look at his crown and sceptre !” cried Louisa.
“ Now for the epigram,” said the major, who then read the following lines :
Head, legs, and arms, alone appear;