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among the advertisements. For instance, we see that a live male elephant and 1,095 elephant's teeth are to be sold at Garraway's “ by the candle.” This hints at a custom which dates from the time of Queen Anne, and was conducted this wise: a very small piece of candle was lit, and the biddings proceeded until it went out, the last bidder before which event took place claiming the lot. The intense anxiety existing whilst the flicker of the mould or the dip was at the last gasp induced much competition among the bidders, but it could hardly have been so satisfactory and decisive a method of sale as the sharp rap of the hammer.
There is something very illustrative of the times in the advertisement of “Miss Rutter's Boarding School,” in which much stress is laid upon the instruction given in “useful and ornamental needlework.” We have seen the results of this careful training in the faded old sampler-work framed in our grandmothers' houses. But Miss Rutter's pupils were indoctrinated into the useful as well as the ornamental, for we find there was a Mr. Rutter, who offers the “inestimable advantages to the young ladies” of the indispensable graces of domestic economy, and “ a thorough knowledge in writing and arithmetic.” Possibly if the present generation of young ladies were to think a little more of these things, and less of a smattering in half-a-dozen languages, it would be better, especially for those bachelors who wish to know “How to live on two hundred a year.” But the question arises, what has become of all those young misses of Miss
Rutter's academy, of Morden Lane, Surrey? Is there an old lady in a mob-cap still living who can converse of the times of her youth ? or are they all gone, “ the old familiar faces” whose sayings and doings, goings and comings, are chronicled in this fragile, old, old paper, which seems to smile upon us with a smile of perpetual youth?
THE RESTORATION OF OUR SOIL.
THE Leading Journal startled its readers the other day by stating, on the authority of some great names in the domain of Chemistry, that the vegetable mould of Europe was gradually becoming exhausted-that our system of farming was, in fact, drying up the source of our daily bread; and that our over-stimulated fields required to revert to their primal condition of wood, and forest, and bog, to bring them back to a wholesome state of fertility. This was tantamount to saying that civilization was at an end, and that we must look up our old books of costume to see how we should appear once more tatooed in woad and draped with skins.
We do not happen to know whether Dr. Cumming has attempted to improve the occasion, by launching forth another of his prophetic visions--possibly not, as the evidence tends to show that man must begin afresh, instead of finally closing his account with Nature : be that as it may, the statement was somewhat calculated to attract attention, and one not in the usual run of penny-a-lining.
Fortunately, it happened that not long before this communication was made to the Times, the Queen's printers were issuing what we venture to predict will prove one of the most important Blue Books ever published-to wit, the “ Second Report of the Select Committee on Sewage of Towns.” It must have struck every thinking mind with wonder, that while our farmers were depending upon the refuse of flocks of birds in the islands of the South Pacific, and upon the bleaching bones gathered from distant battlefields, the refuse of man himself lay decomposing beneath his feet in great cities, and giving forth exhalations which poisoned him in his own household. “Surely,” the reflecting man must have said, “the excreta of birds which feed upon a limited range of food cannot be so rich in manurial qualities as that of the human race, within whose alimentary range all the edible products of earth are brought.” The thought was so simple, and withal so true, that he felt almost inclined to place it among the class of grand principles which are very well to enunciate, but which are difficult to reduce to practice.
At all events, for years the public mind has done little more than dwell upon the problem, whilst those interested in our imported and manufactured manures have been active in throwing discredit upon the idea, and have been equally active in despatching fleets to the other side of the globe to fetch guano, and factories have been arising on every hand to mix composts infinitely inferior to that mixed for us in our house-drains, which Lord Palmerston has truly designated as only matter in the wrong place. Whilst vested interests, however, have to a certain extent smothered the general idea floating in the public mind, and while indeed some public experiments, such as those at Rugby and Croydon, conducted on false principles, tended to discourage the belief in the new-found treasure, the efforts of individual minds have restored the problem to its original position.
With Englishmen an ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory; and when men began to see, here and there throughout the island, fields producing four and five crops of grass a year of astounding weight and quality, and when the land itself became quadrupled in value, it was natural to inquire how the thing was done.
Inquiry once stimulated, the battle was won; and now that a Parliamentary Committee have reported highly favourably of the agricultural value of the excreta of man in great cities, we think we may safely predict that in England, at all events, the time is near at hand when we shall no longer trouble the booby and other sea-fowl in the South Pacific Ocean.
It is certainly a most remarkable fact, that when we have to announce any new discovery, or to refer to any ancient one which has greatly affected mankind, we have to acknowledge the Chinese as the earliest originators. Printing, gunpowder, the mariner's compass, and half-a-dozen other great inventions, were well known in the Flowery Land long before this island had emerged from barbarism. But it seems stranger still to add that the simple expedient by which one of the largest empires—counting upwards