Miscellany (1847)

Ignorance and Superstition

The earth, as a whole, teems with plenty yet the inhabitants strive – some gormandize and waste and are idle. others toil and pine and starve. the earth is filled with light and knowledge, yet the great masses of men pine in darkness, ignorance and superstition. – They who ought to be the enlighteners of the race, use their superiority to lead them captive at their will.

—D.S. Whitney


Fire by Water

House set on Fire by Water. – A dwelling in one of the Eastern States, was recently set on fire by a glass globe filled with water, containing two small fishes. The globe hung where the rays of the sun fell directly upon it, forming a lens, or ‘burning glass,’ and a curtain happening to be in the focus was set on fire. Repeated experiments were afterwards made with the same globe. When filled with water and exposed to the sun, paper placed in the focus was instantly ignited; but when the water was emptied out the effect was not produced.

—Eve. Post


Baker Family Concert

Concert by the Baker Family. This family of vocalists sang at the City Hall on Wednesday evening, to an audience altogether disproportionate to their merits. Judging from what we heard of their singing, we should say they richly deserve the numerous testimonials they have received from the Press and public in various sections of the country. A bass voice of greater compass or of richer tone, than the one of the brothers possess, we think it would be difficult to find.


An Owl

An old man had fallen into a ditch on his way home, and being unable to get out, bawled lustily till morning, and then being helped out by a neighbor, he hastened home when he began to school his wife for not hearing him in coming to his assistance.  “La!”  says the old lady, “I heard your voice and know’d it but I thought it was an owl.”


A Lightening Bug?

“Is that a lightening-bug in the street?” asked a poor blind old lady.

“No, grandma,” said a pert Miss, “it’s a big bug with a cigar.”



A clock or a watch is said to have the least self-esteem of any article of manufacture – as it is continually running itself down.


Mistaken for Wife

A fellow who was brought before one of the London Police Courts, for assaulting and almost killing a woman, excused himself by saying that he thought it was his wife!


Secrets to a Cornfield

Never disclose your secrets to any one near a cornfield. Remember there are a great many ears about.



A French aeronaut named Rosset, made an ascent at Bagdad last month, which exciting the utmost astonishment amongst the spectators, totally unaccustomed to such sights. The weather becoming cloudy the balloon disappeared. M. Rosset, in descending, fell into the Tigris, and escaped with some difficulty. Meanwhile, a report prevailed among the population, that he had gone ot the moon, so that when he appeared in public, he was such a object of curiosity that the French Consul was obliged to demand a detachment from the Pacha to protect the house in which he resided.


Indian Eloquence

A young Indian chief of the Ojon tribe, with the very euphonious name of Kahgegagahbowh, has been delivering temperance speeches in Washington. The National Whig says:

“We have never listened to a more interesting speech. He speaks with a clear, mellow voice, with which he accompanies exceedingly appropriate gestures. His style is divested of that studied eloquence which characterizes many of our own speakers; his is the eloquence of the soul – of Nature – this can reach the soul.”


Philosopher’s Lamp

Philosopher’s Lamp. Put into a common bottle some clean iron filling and one part of sulphuric acid to six of water and cork, having a glass tube, or with the stalk of a tobacco pipe introduced about half an inch through it, and about eigh inches above it outside. In a short time, the gas will rush from the top of a pipe, when if a light is applied it will burn with a bluish flame. Care must be taken not to apply the light until all common air has escaped, as it would, along with the oxygen, explode violently and blow the bottle to pieces.


Perpetual Motion

A correspondent of the Midland Counties Herald says: “A poor frame-work knitter of Hinckley, named Joseph Hutt, has, after twenty years application and study, completed a machine which he calls a self-moving machine, or perpetual motion. He set it in motion on the 25th of August last, since which time it has continued to work with the greatest regularity. The motions of the machine are both quick and powerful, and may be greatly increased and applied to any purpose. It does not require the aid of steam or any other power to keep it in motion, having one continued and regular motion of its own.


A Lawyer

“A lawyer,” said Lord Brougham, in a facetious mood, “is a learned gentlemen, who rescues your estate from your enemies, and keeps it himself.”


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