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VERY singular popular error is the belief in the DIVINING-ROD. This rod, it was formerly supposed, was capable of pointing out the position of minerals in the earth, of hidden springs of water, and even capable of manifesting the guilt of criminals, and discovering stolen property. It is, however, no longer used in the latter capacity, the advance of knowledge having led men to require stronger proofs against an accused party than could be furnished by the diviningrod; but it is even yet employed, in some very distant parts of the world, as a means of ascertaining the presence of water or metals. The divining-rod is a forked stick, generally of hazel, the limbs of the fork measuring about eighteen inches each, and about a quarter of an inch in diameter. To use it, the diviner grasps the extremity of the limbs, one in each hand, the palms being turned upward and the fingers inward toward the body. Moving cautiously and slowly onward, step by step, with the rod held in this manner, the diviner, on becoming aware of the action of hidden power, tightens his grasp of the fork; but, in spite of this, and though the bark is frequently wrenched from the rod in the struggle between the influence of the force which bears it downward and the efforts of the holder to keep it tight in spite of this, we say, the limbs of the rod become bent outward, and ultimately the head of the fork points perpendicularly downward to the spot where the metal or the water is supposed to lie. Now, that the rod really turns in this manner is beyond all question, no end of persons having testified to their having witnessed it; and that it acts thus in the hands of men whose character prevents the least suspicion of imposture is an equally well-wrists inward an almost imperceptible deestablished fact. These men have tried gree, and the point of the rod will be conit, and, as we have said before, found the strained to move; and if the limbs be green bark fairly wrenched off in their clenched very tightly, so that they cannot endeavors to prevent the rod from turning turn in the hand, the bark will burst and in their hands. What, then, is the cause wring off. The greater the effort made in of this action of the rod? Some authors clinching the rod, the shorter is the bend have attributed it to magnetism and elec- of the limbs, and the greater the amount tricity. But the only probable solution of of opposing forces meeting in one point; the mystery we have yet met with is that and the more unconsciously, also, do the given in a recent number of Professor hands incline to turn to their natural posiSilliman's American Journal of Science. tion on the wrists. And this gives true When we say a solution of the mystery, ground for the diviner's declaration that we, of course, allude only to the cause of the more powerful his efforts are to re
the rod's motion; as to its pointing to water, &c., that is simply a superstition. The writer tells us how he witnessed the action of a divining-rod, which, held in the hands of a boy, distinctly traced out the course of a subterraneous stream, which was accordingly marked out as he went along. However, upon the boy being blindfolded, and led about from one part of the field to the other, although he frequently passed over the course of his newly-discovered spring, and though the rod kept continually pointing down in different places, it never pointed out the same spot twice; and the whole grass-plat was covered with marks until the course originally pointed out seemed completely lost. This looked very like an imposture on the boy's part. The writer, however, on a subsequent occasion, took the rod himself, and holding it in the diviner's manner, approached the bank of a rivulet, when, to his extreme astonishment, he began to feel the limbs of the rod crawling round, and saw the point turning downward, in spite of all the efforts his clenched hands could make to restrain it. So great was the struggle between the opposing forces that he found the bark wrenched off the limbs of the rod, just as the diviners declare it sometimes happens. And yet, instead of its being really a contest, it is the very tightness and vigor with which the rod is held which alone causes it to move. He explains it thus: Take the rod in the diviner's manner, and it is evident that the bent limbs of the rod are equivalent to two boughs tied together at one extremity; and when bent outward they exert a force in opposite directions upon the point at which they are united. Held thus, the forces are equal and opposite, and no motion is produced. Keep the arms steady, but turn the hands on the
though he had read harder than most men, cramming his unfortunate brains with all the learning he could get hold of; but, like seed sown in an ungrateful soil, the said brains, after absorbing all the learning, brought forth no fruits. Never was there a duller dog than Algernon Beagles. You might converse with him on any subject, and feel perfectly convinced that he was
AND HIS MAIDEN SPEECH.
THE MEMBER FOR BUMBLETOWN, utterly ignorant of everything connected with it, while he had, in fact, read probably more books on that very subject than you yourself had ever heard of. I don't believe he could construe Ovid without the constant aid of a Latin dictionary, though I am positive there is no known Latin author whose works he had not read more than once. If he had Greek enough to understand the Testament, I am greatly mistaken, though Blomfield himself should have known less of Sophocles than he, if incessant study alone conferred knowledge. Poor Beagles! Nature meant him for a journeyman-anything, where the smallest particle of intellect is sufficient for the dayly dull routine of life; but fortune made him a gentleman, and ambition made him aspire to be an orator.
strain the rod, the more powerful are its efforts to move. Thus explained, the divining-rod, we see, is capable of deceiving the holder of it no less than those who put their trust in him; and we can well conceive how the motion is conveyed from his hands to the rod, not only involuntarily, but even against his will.
Fall stale old sayings, there is none more common or musty than the venerable adage, Poeta nascitur, non fit. The adage is true enough, but it is not the whole truth, because it would imply that poets are alone of the Nascitur non fit species, whereas, we opine, there are many others. For example, take orators. It was all very well for Demosthenes to tell men how to speak, how to regulate their voices and their action, and how to deal with their subjects; but let any man follow, or attempt to follow, all the best rules that have ever been given for the guidance of orators, from those of oratory's greatest master down to those of the third-rate actors, who give lessons in elocution according to the most approved Surrey and Victoria notions of the art-and what will be the result? Will he find himself an orator after he has completed his course of instruction? Not at all. He will be as far from the mark as the man who should learn Horace's Ars Poetica by heart, (not by rote only,) in the faith that a mastery of its rules would make him a poet. Where would be the deficiency then? We reply-In the absence of the natural gifts that alone can make an orator or a poet. Talking is not oratory, neither is versification poetry; and all the teaching in the world can produce but talking and versification-the rest is God's work.
Whether my friend Mr. Algernon Beagles was of this opinion, I am not able to state. If So, he was also impressed with the idea that he, at least, possessed the genuine inspiration of true oratory, for he fully resolved to astonish the world, and to delight listening senates. To effect this great end, it was necessary to get into Parliament-no great difficulty with a pocket well lined in these days of rampant bribery and corruption.
Mr. Beagles had never greatly distinguished himself at school or college,
When Beagles left college, he was an independent man. He followed no profession, and needed none, for he had a nice little estate of three thousand a year in a midland county. He might have taken to partridge-shooting, coursing, foxhunting, and petty sessions, with the ardor and spirit of country squires in general; but he had a soul above such things. He aimed at something higher than partridges; he pursued something nobler than hares ; he sought greater "ends" than reynard's brush; he forswore the magisterial sessions, where poachers are punished and unlicensed papas compelled to provide for the fruits of their naughtiness, for the great sessions of the House of Commons; where laws are made for the mystification of judges and magistrates throughout the realm, by the collective wisdom of the representatives" of the people," or of the length of their own purses.
"No man is a prophet in his own country," says another old adage. Beagles was not considered a Solomon in the county where his paternal acres lay. His tenantry were not numerous enough to secure his election, either for the shire, or for any borough in it, and, therefore, Beagles cast his eye over the map of Great Britain and
Ireland, in order to see "what place he should stand for " at the next general election. The result was satisfactory, but not decisive he was troubled by an embarras de richesses in regard to boroughs open to the highest bidder-the question was, which would be the best, safest, and most economical investment!
Beagles took advice of his solicitor. The advice was sound and sensible, and much to the point. It was simply to go to Mr. Puffy Cheetham, the celebrated dealer in boroughs-election agent, we mean-who would, no doubt, arrange matters to his satisfaction. Accordingly Beagles set off at once for London, and, in due time, he was closeted with the renowned Mr. Puffy Cheetham.
"I understand, then, my dear sir," said that bland gentleman, after twenty minutes previous questioning on the subject; "I understand that what you wish is to secure yourself a safe borough."
"Decidedly," replied Beagles.
"I presume you are perfectly indifferent as to which side you adopt in politics or have you any little prejudices in that way?"
Beagles looked aghast! indifferent as to which side little prejudices! could he believe his own ears? Why, Beagles felt himself a perfect patriot of a genuine high tory--so high a tory as to be almost out of sight of the generation he lived in altogether. And he to be supposed "indifferent" on such a subject, or to have only some "little prejudices" about it!
As soon as he could recover from his state of amazement sufficiently to speak, he exclaimed :
"Indifferent, Mr. Cheetham! I thank Heaven that I am thoroughly conservative to the back bone! I would not barter my principles for-for—”
"For a borough; exactly so, my good sir, I thoroughly respect your principles; there is no doubt of the respectability of conservatism, and the purity of its professors."
It never struck Beagles that while he was boasting about his own incorruptibility, he was going to negotiate a bargain for corrupting other people-to wit, the ten-pound voters of some immaculate borough. Neither did the polite Mr. Puffy Cheetham think of hinting at such a thing. However, there is a difference between buying and selling;-the latter is trades
man-like, the former gentleman-like, even in the matter of votes and consciences.
"Conservatives, then," said Mr. Cheetham, making a note of that fact. “ Now, the next point, my dear sir, is, as to the expense; what are you disposed to risk in this contest?"
"Risk!" repeated Beagles, not quite liking the word.
"When I say 'risk,'" replied Mr. Cheetham, with another bland smile," you must understand me as using simply a professional term. In point of fact, there is no risk at all; my candidate always wins.”
"But there may be a petition?" suggested Beagles, "may n't there ?"
"Of course-of course; such things will happen, and, indeed, they are getting most unpleasantly common: but those things may be arranged."
Indeed!" exclaimed Beagles; "I didn't know that; may I ask how?"
Mr. Puffy Cheetham smiled again—politely, yet half pityingly-his client was so charmingly "verdant." However, assuming a look of intense confidence, he said:'My dear sir, you, of course, understand that our present conversation is of the most private and confidential nature." Beagles nodded assent. "Then, I need only add that petitions, like everything else, are very easily arranged, thus-." And here Mr. Puffy Cheetham significantly tapped his side pocket, within which his purse chinked with a golden rattle.
"Bless my soul, you don't say so!" exclaimed Beagles; "but how so?"
Mr. Puffy Cheetham here entered into a delicate explanation, wrapped up in a great deal of circumlocution, but the effect of which was, that those gentlemen, who paid sufficiently well for it, had their petitions "set off" against other petitions, so that a well-paying Whig petitioned against, and a well-paying Tory in the like condition, were mutually released from their state of peril, one petition being played off against another, or withdrawn at the same time; by which means, as Mr. Puffy Cheetham lucidly explained, no injury was done to either side, nor was the balance of parties in the house destroyed by it.
"The question is, therefore," continued Mr. Puffy Cheetham, after this explanation, "do you wish to secure a seat in spite of petitions? or are you content to secure your election only, and risk a petition?"
"Considerable, of course," replied Cheetham; "but the amount will depend on the place you stand for."
"What will be the difference of the payable to "John Smith, Esq.," in conexpense ?" asked Beagles. sideration of which, Mr. Puffy Cheetham guaranteed that he should be elected M. P. for Bumbletown, at the forthcoming general election.
"Let me have the least expensive place," suggested Beagles.
Beagles went away with a lightened heart and pocket-now that he saw his Again Mr. Cheetham smiled benig- way clearly to the hight of his ambition nantly. -a seat in Parliament. He was quite confident of obtaining the seat, and equally confident that he should distinguish himself by his oratory. Not that Beagles possessed that complete self-satisfaction and inimitable audacity distinctive of so many rising orators of the day, and especially characteristic of Irish gentlemen, who practice at the Old Bailey bar, and which the ill-natured term impudence. Beagles was quite deficient in this valuable quality; he was nervous, and, in one sense, modest; but, at the bottom of all his modesty lay an idea that he was a man of ability, and that he had the "stuff" of an orator in him. How many Algernon Beagleses there are in the world!
The stout gentleman at the evening par ties, with the white waistcoat working its slow way up to his throat, who always proposes "the ladies," never doubts that he has made a "neat speech," while he has been floundering and spluttering about like a large fish in shallow water. The eternal chairman of public dinners, who proposes "Prosperity to the United Southsea Islanders Provident Institution," in a dot-and-go-one, tautological, asthmatical, bewildered, and interminable speech, always imagines that he has been eloquent; and even more so when he lays his hand on his heart and assures the charitable topers, who had just drunk his health, that he is highly "flatified and gratered"* by the honor they have done him.
"It does not follow that I can, my good sir, however much I may desire to do so. You must be aware that some places are already engaged. Let me see-" and here he turned to a large steel-clasped ledger, and looked over some pages of it. We should very much have liked to peep into that book, but no one, save Mr. Puffy Cheetham himself, was ever allowed to do so. Therefore we can only guess at its contents, and we strongly surmise them to be a full, true, and particular account of the names, population, number of voters, politics, peculiarities, price and purchasers, of divers or most of the boroughs in Great Britain.
"There is Bumbletown," said Mr. Cheetham; "a nice quiet borough; nor particular as to politics; voters very well informed as to the value of their privileges; no overwhelming landlord interest at work; quite open at all times to the most eligible candidate, and, at present, disengaged."
"What would be the price-I mean what would be the expenses of my election for Bumbletown, do you think?" asked Mr. Beagles.
Risking petition, about fifteen hundred; guaranteeing against petition, (at least, against its consequences,) one thousand more," replied Puffy Cheetham.
"Dear me!" exclaimed Beagles, thinking how expensive was a license for oratory. "Well, I think I'll risk the petition."
If poor Beagles could have seen the little sardonic smile that crossed Mr. Puffy Cheetham's benign countenance for an instant, he would have altered his mind. It never struck him that a third species of bargain might be made to lose the election at the poll and gain the seat on petition! Mr. Puffy Cheetham had guaranteed him the election; might he not guarantee his opponent? well, well, we must leave some things to the reader's imagination.
However, after a little further discussion, Mr. Beagles wrote a check for £1,500,
Parliament was dissolved, the general election drew nigh. Algernon Beagles prepared his address to the free and independent electors of the borough of Bumbletown. We will not present it to the reader if he be a Bumbletonian, he has read it already; if not, he will probably be neither enlightened nor gratified by its perusal. It was very like election addresses in general, except that it was written by the candidate himself: generally, these things are managed by others, and we are especially amused when we hear
• No fiction this; we heard it.
my soul, that address of the Honorable Captain Slowboys is not badly done; I had no idea he was a man of such ability." As if poor Slowboys, who was never guilty of writing anything in his life, except his name across a bill-stamp, could have produced ("out of his own head," as the children say) that wonderfully diffuse, flowery, smooth, and very promising production, which has excited the admiration of the reader, and the enthusiasm of the electors, to whom it is addressed. What does a man pay a secretary for, we should like to know, if he is to have such work left on his own hands? And how does Michael O'Callaghan, Esq., beloved equally of the Carlton and the Reform, retain his popularity and the flourishing state of his finances, in spite of the ruined condition of the O'Callaghan estates, whose county has never been discovered by geog- The polling took place. We are not raphers? Why is that worthy gentleman going to divulge the secret and mysterious -familiarly termed "Pen-and-ink Mike" arts by which red-hot "blues" were in-overwhelmed with civilities from par-duced to vote for the "orange" candidate, liamentary aspirants of all politics, and by which others were rendered unable to enabled to pay all his outstanding little vote at all, and by which a few dead men accounts, at the particular period when a appeared to have risen from the tomb to general election is approaching? When record their votes for Mr. Beagles. Sufyou have solved that question, you may fice it to say that for once in a way the have an idea why Slowboys' address is so "orange" was couleur de rose. Beagles good, and Dunderhead's hustings-speech was declared duly elected; Beagles was so remarkably eloquent. chaired; Beagles addressed the mob; Beagles had two rotten eggs in his face-a dead dog smashed his hat, and a cabbagestalk nearly doubled him up. No matter: these are but the necessary concomitants of an election under our free and happy system. Beagles was M. P. for Bumbletown!
an uninitiated politician exclaim :-" 'Pontleman proposed Valentine Keen, Esq. The show of hands was in favor of Keen; a poll was demanded, and the business of the election commenced. Stay, though! we have omitted to make mention of the speeches of the rival candidates: but it is of little consequence, seeing that no one heard a single word of them, and it might have been very doubtful whether either gentleman did make a speech at all, were it not for the fact that the "orange" paper of Bumbletown gave Mr. Beagles's oration in full, professing their inability to catch one word of Mr. Keen's, in consequence of the storm of hisses and hootings, wherewith he was assailed; while the "blue" journal of the same place reported the entire of Mr. Keen's harangue, and were extremely sorry that Mr. Beagles's was utterly inaudible. Very oddly-formed ears there are at an election !
It is far easier to get into the House of Commons than to do anything besides vote and attend committees when you are there. So Beagles found it. He was now a legislator, but he wanted to be an orator. Alas! there were innumerable difficulties to be overcome before Beagles could let off a speech. First, there were the forms of the House, which troubled and puzzled him greatly; he found that he had a new education to go through, and one that called for the very qualities poor Beagles was most deficient in-memory and quickness. He was astonished to find, also, how the atmosphere of the place seemed to oppress and unnerve him. He observed that platform orators, who were in the habit of astounding public meetings, were tame and
Algernon Beagles proceeded to the town of Bumbletown, as the nomination day of that important borough approached. Of course he entered the town in a carriage and four, and sported his colors (orange) in due style. Of course, also, he was cheered and hooted, lauded and quizzed, blessed and cursed, with the ordinary enthusiasm. Not that those who blessed him had any particular love for himself or his politics, nor did all those who cursed him intend to vote against him. As Mr. Cheetham said, they knew the value of their privileges, and intended to get it. Besides which, men sell their votes, but retain their freedom of speech, and some, in one point, of action also: and so Bill Styles, the blacksmith, votes for the orange candidate on polling day, but, nevertheless, hurls a dead cat in his face on nomination day. Is not Bill Styles a freeborn Briton, and an independent elector? The nomination ensued. One gentleman proposed Algernon Beagles, Esq., as a fit and proper, &c., &c. Another gen