« EelmineJätka »
hare, and the reindeer, which last stands as “a representative of the verge of realms of ice and snow” beyond. Some of these animals are so pursued, on account of the value attached to their skins, as to be almost extinguished ; and the local government of Nova Scotia was unable to obtain a skin of the black fox, owing to the large price paid by the Russian nobles for this favourite fur.
Although, however, the Colonial courts contained the mass of the natural history of the Exhibition, there were many interesting specimens found incidentally in other parts, at which we will, in conclusion, briefly glance. In the Austrian court, Professor Hyrtl's preparations of anatomy and osteology were deserving of the highest praiso, and a medal is most properly awarded to him for them. They contained, among other things, a series of the ear-bones of man, and of many mammalia and birds -a monument of the anatomical skill and learning of the preparer, which was valued at £200. Several important skeletons also were by the same professor; among them that of the Chlamyphorus, a most singular creature, of which only one other exists in Europe,-viz., in the British Museum; and as these were both found at Mendoza, in Chili, which has since disappeared, with all the surrounding territory, from the surface of the earth, by an earthquake, which, in 1861, engulfed it with 14,000 souls, it is probable that all the Chlamyphori have been destroyed. This skeleton has been purchased by the Royal College of Surgeons for £40. Some very
fine articulated skulls were shown in the French court, by Guérin, Rue Rouen, Paris; and near them were the remarkable preparations and models of Dr. Auzoux, which also obtained a medal. The doctor terms them preparations of Clastic Anatomy--from klaw, to break--because his models are composed of solid pieces, which can easily be mounted and dismounted, and are removable one by one, as in a true dissection. He showed a complete model of a man, which could be detached in ninety-two pieces, showing two thousand parts in detail, the price of which was 3,000 francs (£120); also that of a horse, containing ninety-seven pieces, showing three thousand parts. There also were enlarged models of minute parts, such as the ears of mammals, birds and fishes, the larynx, tongue, &c.; and models, upon the same plan, of typical animals, belonging to all the great branches of the animal kingdom, and extremely valuable for educational purposes, though perhaps somewhat expensive, as we should not like to have to give £8 for a leech, or £10 for a snail or a cockchafer.
Some very beautiful wax models in the Italian department, by Drs. C. and S. Calenzoli, also obtain, as they deserve, a medal. They represented the history of the silkworm in all its stages, and were very extensive and interesting. M. Guérin-Meneville likewise obtains a medal for his labours in the introduction into France of the silkworms of China, India, and Japan, more especially the Ailante silkworm (Bomby.e cynthia), a hardy species, feeding upon Ailanthus glandulosa, a hardy tree requiring little cultivation. It appears that more than a million of these trees were planted in France in 1861, and more than one hundred millions of seed sown, sufficient to cover 50,000 acres. This tree and silkworm are said to have already been successfully introduced into various parts of Europe, Africa, America, and Australia.
Lastly, the Educational department contained many interesting collections and illustrations, by Messrs. Bartlett, Ashmead, Wilson, Damon, Wright, Robertson, &c., who in their different departments of Zoology and Physiology all obtained medals.
We are now compelled to bring this survey to a conclusion. It cannot be said that zoology and the taxidermist's art were badly represented, though doubtless, as in all other things, bad and good were mingled together. The preparation of animals, and their preservation for the museum, is a highly important art, perhaps not sufficiently recognized : it demands at once manual skill, experience, taste and knowledge of natural history, the first being useless if it be not guided by the last. Nothing is more pitiable than to see nature violated by the hands of an ignorant stuffer, as was sometimes the case in the late Exhibition, and false ideas derived from such abortions are more easily received than eradicated. The preparation of animals is certainly an art which is undergoing improvementmore taste is shown in the accessories, more grace and nature are imparted to the form, and more life to the object from which real life has departed ; and had all the zoological collections been arranged together, as was the original plan of the Commissioners, a comparison of the different performances of the taxidermist would probably have led to useful results by stimulating the skill and energies of the inferior workmen; but the exigencies of the Exhibition imperatively demanded that everything should be geographically arranged, and it was found impossible to make an exception even in the Natural History department, where it seemed most desirable.
BY THE EDITOR.
PROBABLY it may be deemed a piece of superfluous infor
mation by many of our readers, when we state that the British Colonies occupied, with a display of their natural resources and local manufactures, the north-east transept of the Exhibition building; but it will most assuredly be gratifying to every one, whether or not he may have directed his attention to this department in the World's Fair, to know that it contained unmistakable evidences of thriving industry, active enterprise, and unlimited natural resources.
Let us return in imagination to these attractive courts, as they graced the world's bazar, and cast a hasty glance over their contained treasures.
Whether we inspect the tropical products of India, those of the more temperate regions of Australia, or of the vast Canadian forests, in whatever direction we cast our eyes, we meet with the same profusion of natural wealth that seems almost inexhaustible. But if we consider the application of these gifts of a bountiful Providence, as here represented, we are even more astonished than by the natural products themselves.
Woods—which we had supposed to be applied only to the coarsest uses, the lowly pine for example, associated in our minds with pitch and rosin—we here find polished and carved with such craft that no royal personage need feel ashamed to range the furniture constructed of its planks side by side with his cabinet of satin-wood or maple ; and the almost worthless fruit, the “cones," in fact, of an allied tree, which in our own plantations cumber the ground, may here be met with, transformed by the hands of our fair sisters of New Brunswick into beautiful baskets and “what-nots.'
Stray we into the court of “South Australia,” we find the natural productions of the animal and mineral kingdoms curiously wrought into costly ornaments, which speak of a rapid progress in art and civilization ; whilst, at “Natal,” the very sea-weeds are utilized and converted into the useful appliances of every-day life.
We need hardly describe our surprise at finding so ignoble a tree converted into so elegant a material; nor is it necessary that we should draw the attention of our English cabinetmakers to this beautiful wood, for our guide told us that several have already bid a high price for the plank which we were examining, and certainly a more beautiful specimen has never come under our notice. The Huon pine, we are told, is used for veneer, and costs in the colony about sixteen shillings per hundred superficial feet.
Returning to cast another glance at the beautiful furniture into which this wood is manufactured, our attention is arrested by various other kinds, of which the planks are of gigantic proportions; and, on expressing our surprise at this, we receive from our conductor the following information :
“The three most remarkable specimens of Tasmanian wood are too large for exhibition even in this building, but they may be seen in the Horticultural Society's gardens. There may be found planks of white gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), blue gum (E. ylobulus), and stringy-bark (E. giganteus), varying in length from eighty, ninety, or one hundred feet, to one enormous spar three hundred and fifty feet in height !”
What an idea this imparts of the towering trees which constitute the forests of Tasmania !
The use, we are told, of these descriptions of wood is chiefly shipbuilding, and more especially are they adapted for the “knees” of vessels, * for which purpose their great strength renders them very valuable. Indeed, one piece of “blue gum,” in excellent preservation, is exhibited which has been forty-five years in use.
“ But what,” we ask, “is the use of that great canoe ?”
“ That is a portion of the paraphernalia of the sperm-whale fishery; and here we have the other appurtenances of this industry: the instruments of destruction, paintings of the ships employed in the trade, the casks in which the oil is stored, the head-matter' in a bottle, the teeth and jaws of the sperm whale."
Let us here remark, en passant, that throughout the Colonial Courts we could not help admiring the pains taken by the exhibitors to display in a perfect manner the whole of any industry ; and we shall often have occasion to notice the completeness with which each has been arranged, to the advantage of those who desired to find in the Exhibition something beyond a mere show, and to the great credit of the exhibitors.
But we must leave the sperm-whale fishery and the huge
* Hickory-wood is the kind employed for “ knees.”
logs and planks of timber, and pass on to a subject of deep interest in this colony.
“These enormous, blooming apples and pears, we ask, are they indigenous ?
They are wax models of fruits which have been introduced from the mother-country, so you may judge of the prolific nature of our vegetation. Our cereals, too, are magnificent." (By the way, to judge from the praises bestowed upon their cereals by the representatives of all our colonies, we need never stand in fear of a famine at home.) And, certainly, the specimens exhibited to us fully bear out this designation, for the ears of wheat and Indian corn seem bursting with their contents.
But our time and space will soon be exhausted if we tarry here any longer, so let us glance hastily at these excellent photographs of unprepossessing aborigines; then we will cast à wistful eye over the beautiful jewellery exhibited by our courteous guide, Dr. Milligan,-jewellery which testifies to the wealth of the colony in precious stones; for here we have the topaz, jacinth, cairngorm (magnificent specimens !) crystals, carnelian, garnet, and opal; and let us finally conclude our visit with an expression of admiration at the ingenuity of our Tasmanian brethren in barking their trees and, instead of throwing away the bark, preparing it for the market, and offering it at £4. 10s. per ton for the manufacture of paper !
Adieu, now, to Tasmania, and greeting to Victoria,* as we pass through it to the courts of the Australian continent.
Passing on to the New South Wales Court, we find several interesting productions of the colony, some indigenous and others introduced and cultivated there. There is, for example, the beautiful maize-plant (Zea Mays), standing eight feet in height, and the corn from which is the most conspicuous amongst the different kinds of grain. The other chief products of the soil, of which specimens are exhibited, are wheat, tobacco, cotton, and a collection of woods not second to those in “ Tasmania." Here, too, we have handsome pieces of furniture, and one beautiful cabinet, constructed of polished cedar, is remarkably conspicuous.
But the most interesting feature in this court is to be found amongst the animal productions, more especially in the application of that useful animal the kangaroo ; and we venture to say that few Englishmen are aware of its full value to the colonist.
* It was in an unfinished state when we visited it, and the description of its contents must be left to abler pens than ours,
VOL. II. NO, VI.