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added, in 1868 to admit intelligent working-men," though why this invidious distinction should be maintained in a body solely devoted to scientific research, we fail to see; surely Science at least is a common ground on which all classes can meet without a shadow of bitter class-feeling to mar the geniality of intercourse. The more that the higher tastes and recreations are common to all classes, the less room will there be for misunderstanding and bitterness. If a working-man can pay the subscription— and the field-dub subscription is usually small, and working-men's wages are now unusually high—by all means let them be received on a common footing with the other members. Many of our best field-clubs are composed almost entirely of working-men, and every encouragement should be given to this class to join such clubs, for, morally and intellectually, we think they will reap more benefit from such associations than any other class.

The Berwickshire Club continues to be one of the most efficient and productive in the country, the fruits of its excursions being contained in six goodly volumes, containing many valuable papers on the natural history and archaeology of its large district, and extensive and carefully compiled lists of the existing and extinct fauna and flora. As the Berwickshire Club is the model after which, to some extent, all succeeding field-clubs have been formed, we shall here give from Sir Walter Elliot's address, its simple and inexpensive method of conducting its fielddays :—" Arrangements arc made with* the railway companies for the issue of tickets on favourable terms. The members assemble at breakfast at 9.30, after which the programme of the day is explained, and any objects of interest procured since the last meeting are exhibited and described. At 11 the party proceeds on foot or by conveyance to the points indicated, breaking into sections for botanical, geological, or antiquarian research, and either meeting again at some convenient spot, or returning independently to dinner at 4 o'clock. The members present rarely exceed from 30 to 50, often fewer. Of course the hive contains a considerable proportion of drones who rarely appear, ladies never. The distances are so great, the excursions so thoroughly directed to investigation, that few but those intent on work attend. After a frugal repast, the staple of which is a fine salmon invariably sent from Berwick, papers are read and discussed, and the members disperse according to the exigencies of their trains. The whole expenses of the day vary from four to five shillings per head."

In the decade between 1830 and 1840, other sixteen local societies were formed, many of which, though not professedly field-clubs, have done, through individual members, good field-club work, as is testified by their publtcations, and have otherwise done much to promote the cause of Science in the neighbourhood. It was during this period that the Cornwall Polytechnic Society (already mentioned), the Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society, the Royal Institution of South Wales, the Ludlow Natural History Society, and the West Riding Geological and Polytechnic Society, were formed, each of which, in its own particular fashion, does good service to Science, and helps to keep the lamp of culture burning in its neighbourhood.

No other regular field-club was instituted until nearly fifteen years after the foundation of the Berwickshire

Club, when a sort of offshoot of that Society was formed in 1846 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, under the title of the Tyneside Naturalists' Field Club, which, "guided by the experience of the parent club, at once assumed a perfect organisation." The constitution was, however, somewhat amplified, a proviso being put in the rules that should assuredly have a place in the rules of every similar society in the kingdom. Its last rule, we think, worthy of all commendation and universal imitation*; it is as follows :—

"That the Club shall endeavour to discourage the practice of removing rare plants from the localities of which they are characteristic, and of risking the extermination of rare birds and other animals by wanton persecution; that the members be requested to use their influence with landowners and others, for the protection of the characteristic birds of the country, and to dispel the prejudices which are leading to their destruction; and that consequently the rarer botanical specimens collected at the Field Meetings be chiefly such as can be gathered without disturbing the roots of the plants; and that notes on the habits of birds be accumulated instead of specimens, by which our closet collections would be enriched only at the expense of nature's great museum out of doors. That in like manner the club shall endeavour to cultivate a fuller knowledge of the local antiquities, historical, popular, and idiomatic, and to promote a taste for carefully preserving the monuments of the past from wanton injury."

We have more than once recently in noticing the proceedings of some societies, and it has been animadverted on in other quarters, referred to the pernicious practice of encouraging, by the offer of prizes for rare specimens, especially of plants, the extermination of the rare flora peculiar to certain districts. One of the prime duties of every local club should be the preservation of such rare specimens, the fact of whose existence is often of great value from a scientific point of view, and the destruction of which, by transference to a herbarium, can serve no good purpose whatever. The Tyneside Club is divided into six sections, each charged with a special department for investigation :—1, Mammalia and Ornithology; 2, Amphibia, Ichthyology, Radiata; 3, Mollusca, Crustacea, Zoophytes; 4, Entomology; 5, Botany; 6, Geology. This club holds meetings during the winter in Newcastle. Up to 1864, it had published six volumes of very valuable Transactions. In that year an arrangement was come to whereby the members ("numbering 429), became associates of the Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle Natural History Society, already referred to. Thenceforth, as we have already said, the proceedings of the two bodies have be en published conjointly under the title of "Natural History Transactions of Northumberland and Durham," of which three volumes have been published. "The work of the Club," Sir Walter Elliott says, "has been most conspicuous in zoology. It has the merit of publishing its lists and catalogues in a separate form for sale, so as to make them accessible to all inquirers."

We cannot mention in detail the foundation of the swarm of field-clubs which have come into existence in the various parts of the country since 1846; we can only allude very briefly to two of the most important, the Cotteswold and the Woolhope, the former an offshoot of the Berwickshire Club. The originators of the Cotteswold Field Club, which, like the Tyneside Club, was started in 1846, were Sir Thomas Tancred (who had been a member of the Berwickshre Club), Mr. T. B. Lloyd Baker (the well-known originator of the "Reformatory System "), Dr. Daubeny, of Oxford, Hugh Strickland, and some others, who met " at the Black Bull Inn, in Birdlip, a village on the summit of the Cotteswold range overlooking the vales of Gloucester and Worcester, about six miles south of Cheltenham, and seven south-west of Gloucester." There the club was inaugurated, Mr. Baker being elected the first president. "The labours of the club have been most conspicuous in geological investigation, for which the district offers such a rich field. Many of the members have, by their recorded observations, attained to high distinction. In the words of the president, 'It will suffice to mention the names of Daubeny, Strickland, Woodward, Maskelyne, Wright, Moore, Buckman, Jones, Lycett, Brodie, Symonds, Maw, and Etheridge, all members of the club, to recall at once names of writers well known in the scientific annals of the county, and of whom some have by their works obtained a more than European reputation.'"

The Woolhope Club, in Bedfordshire, whose publications are also well known as among the most valuable of those of provincial societies, was formed in 1851, and derived its name from the mass of Silurian rocks described by Sir Roderick Murchison as the "Woolhope Valley of Elevation." This club and the Cotteswold have occasional joint field days, and their example is followed by several other societies, and might, we think, with advantage be followed much more extensively than it is.

The Worcestershire Naturalists' Club originated in the same year as the Cotteswold, followed the year after by the Huddersfield Naturalists' Society, and in 1849 by the Yorkshire Naturalists' Club. Besides the four field-clubs mentioned, other six societies originated in this decade, most of them distinctly scientific, including the Torquay Natural History Society, the Bristol Microscopic Society, and the Isle of Wight Philosophical and Scientific Society.

In the decade between 1850 and i860, twenty-two local scientific societies were founded, of which six. teen are field-clubs, including such well-known names as the Woolhope, just mentioned, the London Geologists' Association, the Liverpool Naturalists' Field Society, the Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, and the Malvern Field Club.

{To be continued.)


The Sea and its living Wonders. A popular account of the Marvels of the Deep, and of the progress of Maritime Discovery from the earliest ages to the present time. By Dr. G. Hartwig. Fourth edition, enlarged and improved, with numerous woodcuts and eight chromoxylographic plates. (London : Longmans, 1873.)

NO other evidence is needed beyond the publication of the fourth edition of this work to prove the demand there is in Great Britain for this kind of literature, The reading public want to know what about the sea, and all that is in it; and, in their eagerness to know, they buy even such books as this. When will scientific men turn their attention towards teaching the public as far as it can

be taught, in a correct, yet popular manner, the rudiments of biological science? When they do the time for such books as the one we must now notice will have passed away, and the resources of the great publishing firm who issue it will be engaged on more truly solid and important work. As an indication of what we mean, let ui contrast the popular works of Hartwig or Figuier with Ouatrefages' "Souvenirs d'une Naturaliste," or Gosse's "Devonshire Rambles ;" or let the reader imagine wha: a delightful work the one before us would have been if written by, say Huxley, Allman, Giinther, or Wyville Thomson. But to return to this volume, which consists of three parts ; (1) the Physical Geography of the Sea; (2) the Inhabitants of the Sea; (3) the Progress of Maritime Discovery. The latter part commences with the maritime discoveries of the Phoenicians, and ends with a reference of sixteen lines in length to the numerous scientific voyages of circumnavigation of the present century.

Before proceeding to very briefly notice Parts I. and IL, we have to object most strongly to the woodcuts not being drawn to any scale; thus, on page 101 the Rorqual is figured as rather smaller than the Herring, while, on the same page, and just above these figures, will be found a Whale Louse, and a Lepas represented as bigger than either. Surely figures like these must terribly mislead the ordinary reader, who, though he may possibly have some notion of the size of a herring, cannot be supposed to be aware of the dimensions of the whale's parasites. Many of the woodcuts are very good, but several of them are bad, and the majority of them are not seen in this volume for the first time ; this we would not so much object to if the woodcuts were selected to illustrate the text, and not, as is too often the case in this work, the text written so as to make some forced allusion to the woodcuts.

Though the Dugong is illustrated by copying the woodcut from Tennent's work on Ceylon, yet scarcely a word is to be found about it in the chapter on the Cetacea. The Tailor birds' nest is figured on page 143, but no allusion whatever is made to it in the text. The great Auk is figured, and in the accompanying explanation is said to congregate in vast flocks on the rocky islets and headlands of the Northern Coasts. Surely a little careful supervision would have prevented such mistakes as these occurring. But leaving the subject of the woodcuts, we come to consider the letterpress; and here, too, not only a more careful supervision, but some more acquaintance with the subject would have been desirable. Why, among the Fishes, should the Anchovy have five lines devoted to it, when not one word is to be found about that equally important little fish, the Sardine? and surely half a page would not have been too much to devote to that interesting living wonder of the sea, the Whitebait It would be an easy, but withal a useless task to point out other errors of omission and commission among the other classes.

Among the Corals and Sponges the author had enough to guide him, for he has borrowed wholesale the really beautiful woodcuts illustrating Prof. Greene's Manuals; if he had borrowed equally largely from their text, he would have made this the most trustworthy portion of his book.

No notice is taken of such important new forms « Rhizocrinus, or Brissinga, nor do we find mention under the Sponges of such strikingly beautiful ones as belong to the genera Euplectella, Holtenia, &c, though, indeed, some allusion is made to these in the chapter on the geographical distribution of marine life. But perhaps we have said enough to show that while the subject of this work is a good one, it might easily have been treated by a writer more familiar with it in a better, a more original, and a more comprehensive manner. E. P. W.


The Theory of Evolution of Living Things. By Rev. G. Henslow. (Macmillan and Co.)

Scientific men cannot but feel how false is the stimulus given to that form of literature of which the above-named work is an example. If considerable pecuniary reward is offered for the production of treatises in favour of any theory, or of the mutual compatibility of any two or more different doctrines, the work will undoubtedly be produced, however inaccurate the theory, or however dissimilar the doctrines. That mistaken enthusiasm which led to the production of the Bridgwater Treatises and the establishment of the Actonian Prize, has resulted in the publication during the last year of two Actonian prize essays, the former of which, by Mr. B. T. Lowne, we noticed on a previous occasion, whilst the latter is the one under consideration. The present author's treatment of his subject is much that which would have been adopted by Paley if he had been living at the present day. Several previously accepted axioms are shown to be incompatible with the existing position of biological science, and their weakness is well brought forward. Other considerations of modern development are introduced, and it is in these that the difficulty of combining the two doctrines appears. For instance, the origin of moral evil is said to be "the conscious abuse of means, instead of using them solely for the ends for which they were designed." But on evolutionary principles, it can hardly be said that there are means for designed ends, because that peculiarity in an organ which is of service is the only one retained, insomuch that if the delicate sensitiveness of the conjunctiva of the eye were to prove of more value to the individual than its sight, the power of vision would most probably become lost at the expense of the developing tactile organ. "The continual effort of beings to arrive at mutual and beneficial adjustments" is said to be a great principle of nature ; does not the term " struggle for existence" imply something very different from this? Again, that "animals and plants do not live where circumstances may be best suited to them, but where they can, or where other animals and plants will respectively let them live," is quoted by the author as an instance of Nature falling short of that absolute degree of perfection which may be conceived as possible ; however, there cannot be many who think a locality a suitable residence, in which they are prevented from taking up their abode, or perhaps entering, by the animals and plants which inhabit it. In other places similar weaknesses may be found in the argument adopted. In one thing Mr. Henslow has done great good: he has shown that it is consistent with a full dogmatic belief, to hold opinions very different from those taught as natural theology some half century and more ago.


[The Editor does not hold himself responsible for opinions expressed by his correspondents. A'o notice is taken of anonymous communications. ]

Transfer of the South Kensington Museum I Am glad to sec that an effective opposition is likely to be mule to the ill-advised proposal of the Government to place the

South Kensington Collections under the control of the fifty irresponsible Trustees of the British Museum.

In common with many other naturalists I had always hoped that the national collections of natural history, when removed to the new buildings in South Kensington, would be freed from the rule of the Trustees and placed under a responsible director. The memorial of which I enclose a copy, and the republication of which would, I think, be opportune at the present juncture, will serve to show that I am by no means alone in believing that such a change would be beneficial to Science.

It would seem, however, that the Government, so far from acceding to our views, have resolved to proceed in exactly the contrary direction, and to increase the power of the Trustees. I can only hope that we may succeed in preventing them from carrying this retrograde measure into effect

P. L Sclater

44, Elvaston Place Queen's Gate, Nov. 17

"Copy of a Memorial presented to the Ri^ht Hon. the Chancellor

of the Exchequer

"To the Rt. Hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer

"Sir,—It having been stated that the scientific men of the metropolis are, as a body, entirely opposed to the removal of the natural history collections from their present situation in the British Museum, we, the undersigned Fellows of the Royal, Linnean, Geological, and Zoological Societies of London, beg leave to offer to you the following expression of our opinion upon the subject.

"We are of opinion that it is of fundamental importance to the progress of the natural sciences in this country, that the administration of the national natural history collections should be separated from that of the library and art collections, and placed under one officer, who should be immediately responsible to one of the Queen's Ministers.

"We regard the exact locality of the National Museum of Natural History as a question of comparatively minor importance, provided that it be conveniently accessible and within the metropolitan district.

George Bentiiam, F.R.S.
William B. Carpenter, M.D., F.R.S.
W. S. Dallas, F.L.S.
Charles Darwin, F.R.S.

F. Ducane Godman, F.L.S.
J. H. Gurney, F.Z.S.

Edward Hamilton, M.D., F.LS.
Joseph D. Hooker, M.D., F.R.S.
Thomas H. Huxley, F.R.S.
John Kirk, F.LS.
Lilford, F.L.S.
Alfred Newton, F.L S,
W. Kitchen Parker, F.R.S.
Andrew Ramsay, F.R.S.
Arthur Russell, M.P.
Osbert Salvin, F.L.S.
P. L. Sclater, F.R.S.


S. James A. Salter, F.K.S.
W. H. Simpson, F.Z.S.
J. Emmerson Tennent, F.R.S.
Thomas Thomson, M.D., F.R.S.
H. B. Tristram, F.LS.
Walden, F.LS.
Alfred R. Wallace, FJZ.S.
"London, May 14, 1866"

Deep-sea Soundings and Deep-sea Thermometers

Will you allow me to reply to a letter from Messrs. Negrettt and Zambra that appeared in vol. viii. p. 529, in relerence to my Caselia-Millcr Deep Sea Thermometer, in which they accuse me and the late respected Dr. Miller of " plagiarism."

I presume, by this remark, that they intend to convey the idea of their own introduction having been imitated, because they state also that " their thermometer is identical in every respect except in size." Without venturing to trespass upon your valuable space by now going into more detail to prove the con* trary, I will merely remark that if you, or any of your numerous readers who may feel interested in this subject, will favour me with a visit to ray establishment, I shall be happy to give the fullest explanation as well as show the great difference existing between the two, will point out the cause of failure in their arrangement, and also the reason of the complete success of my own thermometer.

Though perhaps it is unfortunate for your correspondents that their reference to Dr. Miller was not made during his lifetime, yet, admitting that he said he was not aware of iheir arrangement, I must ask in all seriousness. What had their thermometer accomplished to make any one acquainted with it?

Facts speak for themselves. Their arrangement still remains without result, whilst my thermometer, which has solved the great problem of the true temperature of the sea even at its greatest depths, has been adopted not only by our own Government, but also by all the principal Governments and scientific authorities throughout the world. Louis P. Casella

147 Holborn Bars, Nov. 3

Squalus spinosus

Ox the 9th inst. the fishermen of Durgan, in Helford Harbour, sent for me to look at a fish new to them, which had been caught (with a \d. hook) on the preceding night near its entrance. Congers had been numerous, but suddenly ceased to bite. The fish (a spinous shark) had been hooked in the corner of its mouth, out of the reach of its sharp teeth, had wound the line many times round its body, which was 7 ft. in length, and 30 in. in girth, being longer and more slender than one of which I sent a notice to the Royal Cornwall Institution 38 years ago. The back, sprinkled over with spines, was of a dark grey colour, the belly nearly white. It was a male fish. The lobes of the liver were 4 ft in length. In the stomach was a partially digested dogfish, 2 ft. long. The upper lobe of the tail was muscular and long, perhaps to aid its ground feeding, the lower lobe more marked than in Dr. A. Smith's drawing, as given by Yarrel, and entirely unlike that of the Filey Bay specimen. Twelve hours or more after its capture, when all external signs of life had disappeared, I was surprised to observe the regular pulsations of the heart.

Prof. Huxley has not observed a correspondence between the mass and large convolutions of the brain of a porpoise and its intellectual power.

Several years ago a herd of porpoises wis scattered by a net, which I had got made, to enclose some of them. It was sttong enough to catch tigers if set in the straits of Singapore, across which they sometimes swim. The whole "sculle" was much alarmed, two were secured. I conclude that their companions retained a vivid remembrance of the sea-fight, as these cetacea, although frequent visitants in this harbour previously, and often watched for, were not seen in it again for two years or more.

Trebah, Falmouth, Oct. 27 C. Fox

Zodiacal Light

It is a matter for regret that with the magnificent opportunities of investigating the character of the Zodiacal Light afforded to Maxwell Hall by his elevated position in Jamaica, he does not seem to have brought the powers of either the spectroscope or polariscope to bear on it.

I think the full importance of the inquiry is hardly appreciated by many. Taking the generally accepted theory of the light— that of a lens-shaped disc of luminous matter, with the sun for its centre and a diameter exceeding that of the earth's orbit—its matter, lying as it does in the plane of the elliptic, actually connects us with the sun, and may be the medium through which the solar magnetic forces act upon our own.

The intimate connection between solar outbursts, auroras, and terrestrial magnetism is an established fact.

To the aurora, the zodiacal light is by many conceived to be nearly allied, and I do not think the evidence hitherto adduced against this theory is at all conclusive. The remarkable wave of light seen by Maxwell Hall is strongly in favour of it; and though spectroscopic observations seem to point the other way, they are as yet so scanty in number that it would be as unfair to argue from them the want of connection between the two phenomena, as it would be to assert that the planets have no volcanic fires of their own because they only give us a reflected solar spectrum.

Assume the zcxliacal light to consist of solid pan idea of sirter—planet dust—shining by reflected light, and it is not diSerf to imagine the aurora playing amongst these tiny world*, eicr. ■ which might have its own small magnetic system, swayed like a. own by the mister magnet, the sun.

So far as my own experience goes I can see no objection: . this assumption. Though I have seen the light very brillunu both its branches, I have never jret found it to have a deals outline. Nor have I been able to trace it either east or west-.) 1S00 from the sun. Granting that this can be done, however, ti. apparent vanishing point of the earth's shadow lies comptralit? near us, and far within this again is the point at which the sh«it» would subtend only a degree or two of arc, and at which it woii be very hard to discern mid the feeble light of this portion of f: zodiacal light; so that a slight extension of the diameter of •*• disc would remove any objection that might be raised under — • head.

Imagine one of Saturn's moons revolving in an orbit witii his belts, and fairly embedded in the matter, which, forties!' of the argument, we must assume to be illuminated by the plot To inhabitants of that satellite each night would bring apheKmenon closely resembling our zodiacal light, only far more taliant. At midnight two cones of light would taper up*in* east and west, and meet overhead. The brightest portionofeti cone would In: that along the axis and nearest the horizon. J wards the summit and on the borders, where the line ai sif&' would lie through less depths of matter, the light would S» dually fade away, but from the satellite being embedded in 1* belt, the entire sky would be more or less luminous.

Has it not been noticed on our earth that when the roiiitt light has been seen unusually bright, a "phosphorescence « the sky was everywhere visible? May this not arise (ma w solar belt in a somewhat similar manner?

From my personal observations I see no reason top"*1 lenticular form to the disc. Parallel faces would afford « p* spective such as the zodiacal light appears to me.

I would urge observers who may be fortunately situated, notB neglect opportunities. So far as I am able I shall do mf W to aid the work ot inquiry, and with the powerful instrument) that lirowning is forwarding me, placed at an elevation of more than 0,ooo ft., under the clear skies of our Indian wi iter, I tr»s I shall be able to add something to our knowledge of the zodiacal light.

I should feel much indebted to any of your reader!""? would inform me which is the best adapted polariscope for s"" researches, and whose (amongst makers) speciality such ins'raments are. L. H. Puisat-i

Camp Udapi, South Canara, Oct 3

Cold Treatment of Gases

Allow mc to submit to your readers the following sketch 0 an apparatus for producing extreme cold, by which it m'sTM perhaps be practicable to liquefy or even solidify the elementary gases which have hitherto resisted the efforts of chemists.

The gas to be operated on is compressed to any require'1 degree by means of one cylinder, is cooled to the lowest convenient degree in the ordinary way, passes into an expaasiM cylinder with a properly arranged cut-off, where in expansion it> temperature is still further lowered. From the expansion cylinder it returns back to the compression cylinder, extracting the l"'J' from the counter current proceeding from the compression cyl'nder, so that the latter will be always arriving at the expansion cylinder with a continually decreasing temperature.

As out here I have no possible means of trying whether there is anything in this idea, I offer it to any of your readers who may feel disposed to try it.

Graaff Reinet College, Cape Colony, T. GUTHM*

July 19.

•The Relation of Man to the Ice-sheet

Mr. Tiddeman his shown for Yorkshire what I proved "j years ago for the South of England in a paper in the oWcg** Magazine (vol. iv. p. 193), that glacial conditions have obtained in this country since its occupation by Palaeolithic man. Unw'' tunately an attempt which I made to explain this coincidence between his result and mine in a letter to the same periodical in February last was rendered abortive by a clerical (or perhop5 printer's) error. I would press upon geologists to considet

whether the point proved is not that a glacial period has intervened since the times of Palaeolithic man and the present, rather than that man existed in this country before the glacial epoch, I think Mr. Tiddeman thinks as I do; but I take the liberty ol stating this view more distinctly. O. Fisher

Wave Motion

In Nature, vol. viii. p. 506, Mr. Woodward has suggested a simple and ingenious illustration of wave motion. Could he, or any other correspondent, supply, or refer to, a popular explanation of the action of the particles upon each other, to which the propagation of the wave is due?

In the case of sound waves, the propagation is comparatively simple, and is fully and clearly explained in Dr. Tyndall's " Lectures on Sound," and elsewhere. Helmholtz, in his "Popular Lectures," has figured the motion of the individual particle* of which a water wave is composed. And in Sir John Herschel's "Familiar Lectures," there is an elaborate and beautiful demonstration of the motion of the particles of ether in plane and circularly polarised light; but neither of these expositions appears to deal with the mode of propagation of the motion by which the wave is formed.

On the other hand. Sir Charles Wheatstone's ingenious model beautifully exemplifies the interaction of vmz'ts and their results. But here the waves are produced by the wooden wave forms introduced into the machine, the beads representing the particles remaining fixed in relation to each other. Neither, therefore, can this explain the manner and direction of the actual impact of each particle upon the1 adjacent one (beginning with those in contact with the source of motion itself), to which, combined with the tendency to yield in the direction of least resistance, the water wave must owe its form, and upon which the still more complicated conception of the light wave must ultimately depend.

Could a reference be given to any practical explanation of this point, it would confer a l>enefit on many who are not competent to follow the subject into the higher mathematics. M. F. E.

Sussex, Nov.

Elementaty Biology

I, ALONG with many others, who are desirous of obtaining an insight into Nature, would esteem it a great favour, and it would be of the greatest benefit to us, if any of your scientific readers would undertake to give through your columns a short account of the various low forms of life included under the elementary stage of biology of the Science and Art Department. They might give instruction as to where the various objects could be seen, how inspected, names of the best text-books for the students' guidance, &c

By so doing, they would secure the praise of many who at present cannot find out the modes of studying such subjects.

Hull, Nov. S Biologv

Black Rain and Dew Ponds

CAn any of your readers explain the cause of this phenomenon? On Thursday, the 4th Sept., about 5 P.M., in the village of Marlsford, in the valley of the Thames, near Wallingford, a heavy storm of rain occurred : and the water which lell in several parts of the village was found to be nearly black. It is described as being of such a colour as would be produced by mixing ink with water. Another of these black water showers fell during the night of the following Friday.

Would any reader of Nature also kindly set forth the theory upon which the utility of the dew ponds, found in many of the highest points of the Berkshire Downs, rests. They are circular ponds made with considerable care, and are supposed to receive so much dew as to supply all the water needed fjr the sheep in their neighbourhood through the driest summer.

Tiverton E. HlGHTON


THE brief announcement by which some of our readers may have first learnt of the decease of one of our greatest biologists is, in its simplicity, in singular harmony with the life the close of which it commemorates.

The retrospect of so serene a career leaves little to the biographer, for its points seem marked rather by phases of study, as indicated by important scientific memoirs, than by incidents which the world regards as striking or noteworthy.

Albany Hancock was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on Christmas Eve, 1806. His father, Mr. John Hancock, died some six years later, and of the six little children thus left dependent on their mother, Albany was the third. He received a good education as times then went, and on leaving school was articled to a solicitor of good standing in Newcastle. Uncongenial as was the employment, he served his full term, passed the customary examinations in London, and even took an office in Newcastle with the view of establishing himself in practice. But the occupation was irksome, and he gave it up ere long to join a manufacturing firm, and this in turn circumstances led him soon to abandon. The simple fact probably was that neither occupation permitted him to follow the bent of his inclination, and that the desk and counting-house were alike distasteful to a mind pre-engaged as was his by other currents of thought. His early taste for natural history pursuits was probably in part derived from the collections, chiefly conchological, formed by his father, who was in many ways a man of superior ability, and had been something of a naturalist; and association with the late Mr. Robertson and Mr. Wingate, the one a botanist, the other an ornithologist, of repute ; with the well-known Mr. Bewick; and abov; all with his near neighbour Mr. Alder, confirmed his inclination in this direction. He was. as a boy, clever with his fingers, and that manual dexterity which in later years served him so well when engaged with dissecting needle and pencil, exhibited itself in many of the pursuits of his early life.

The first mention we find of Mr. Hancock's devotion to natural history is in Mr. Alder's "Catalogue of Land and Fresh-water shells," published in 1830, in which the author handsomely acknowledges the obligations he is under to him and to Mr. John Thornhill "for the communication of many habitats observed during their active invesfgation of this as well as other branches of the natural history of the neighbourhood " of Newcastle. His earliest appearance as an author seems to have been in connection with two short papers in the first volume of "Jardine's Magazine of Zoology and Botany," published in 1836, the one a "Note on the Occurrence of Raniteps trifurcatus on the Northumberland Coast," the other a "Note on Fako rufipes, Regulus ignicapillus and Lai us minutus." These notices were, comparatively speaking, of trifling significance, but they were the beginning of a long series of contributions to knowledge which only ceased when his last illness deprived him of the power of continuous work. It is unnecessary here to enumerate the successive memoirs that embody the results of his life's labour. A catalogue of the original papers of which he was author, or joint author, would extend to something over seventy titles.

Early association with Mr. Alder in the study of the mollusca led to the production between the years 1845 and 1855 of their magnificent " Monograph of the British Nudibranchiate Mollusca," which may still be taken as a standard of excellence amongst such publications. Many of Mr. Hancock's earlier papers were devoted to the elucidation of the boring apparatus of the mollusca, and these were followed by similar researches respecting the excavating power of a group of sponges {Ciiona and allied genera) which until that time had been but little known or understood.

As an anatomist —and after all it was his large knowledge of minute anatomy and infinite skill in dissection that gave its especial value to most of his work—he was, perhaps, best known by his elaborate memoir on the Organisation of the Brachiopoda, published in the Philo

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