Page images

As each block is put in its place, the snow-knife is worked up and down between it and the block to its right and the course of blocks on which it rests, this furnishing a snowy powder which acts like mortar when the blocks are cemented together by a slight blow of the hand on each of the two free edges. It should be remembered that the snow-blocks are not laid flatwise as with common brickwork, but on their edges; the thickness of the block being the thickness of the igloo, and taking the fewest number of blocks possible to construct the building. It may seem curious to the uninformed how these snow-blocks, held only on two edges-the under and right-hand one as the builder faces it from the inside, where he stands during the entire construction of the block-workshould be able to hold themselves in this position, especially when near the completion of the igloo, and the flat blocks are almost horizontal. When a snow-block is put into position, a wedge-like piece is cut downward from it where it joins its neighbor, as well as an equal one from the latter, both being thrown away. Near the bottom of the igloo the bases of these wedges are very narrow, but as the top is approached they become wider and wider, until the igloo apex is reached, when the bases of the two wedges cut from the sides touch each other, and the block left is itself a wedge. In short, all the side joints of the block-work are vertical, and point to the top of the snow-house, and this necessitates that wedges should be cut from the sides that will increase as they lean more and more inward; and in this wedge-like or trapezoidal form we find the explanation of their not dropping down, they being driven into an acute angle which holds them without support from the constructor, until he can get another block.

Although if a building-block of snow was placed flat-wise on the level ground, and even a light-weighted Eskimo was to step on its upper face, it would probably break, yet so very strong is the igloo from its peculiar dome-like construction that two or three heavy men can walk over a well-built one without any fear of its falling in with them. In fact, after the block work of the snow-house is finished, some of the persons present a small boy is generally preferred-must climb over the top of the dome to chink the joints thoroughly, for, in the rough construction many holes are left between the joints that must be stopped up. This "chinking" is done by cutting slices of snow from the outer edge of the snow-block with the knife in one hand, and with the other hand, as a clinched fist, running the cut portion into the chinks, which completely closes them. The lower half or two-thirds of a moderate-sized igloo can be "chinked" while standing on the original snow-bank at its foot, but beyond this some one has to crawl up over it and finish the chinking at the top of the dome.

When this is done the snow-house is finished outside, except in the very coldest weather, when a bank of loose snow is thrown over it, which may vary from a foot to three feet in depth, according to the temperature, and the consistency of the snow; a foot of this material which "packs" well, being worth three feet of friable, sandlike snow when the wind is blowing, and when it does not blow an unbanked igloo is quite warm enough in the severest winter weather. Inside, the bed-which takes up at least two-thirds of the place-is also made of snow, from a foot and a half to two feet high, and this curious bedstead is prevented from melting by a generous supply of musk-ox, polar-bear and reindeer skins, being interposed between the body of the sleeper and the snow beneath. Sometimes this mattress is insufficient for this purpose, and then the bed adapts itself to the human form somewhat after the manner of a kid glove, but far less agreeable. The door is a very small hole through which one has to enter on one's hands and knees, and at night-time it is closed by a large snow-block. The first impression is that a lot of persons put inside such an hermetically sealed little pen, and as thick as the proverbial sardines in a box, would smother to death in the course of a long night; but on the contrary, the snow-blocks are as porous as lumps of white sugar, and as the native stone lamp creates a draft of heated air upward, which escapes from the top of the dome, the house is supplied by a constant pouring of fresh air through the walls to supply its place. I doubt very much if our own much larger sleeping-rooms are half as well ventilated as these boreal buildings.

The comfort that is to be had in these peculiar habitations it appears almost bordering on the sensational to relate. The idea of conducting an expedition of twenty-two persons and forty to fifty dogs continuously throughout the Arctic winter and living off the country, would have been deemed insanity. With the help of igloos and reindeer clothing it was done with less discomfort than the average twenty-two workmen of New York will endure in going through a severe winter. With the help of the igloo (which necessitates the employment of Eskimo skilled in their construction, of course) the matter of cold, preposterous as the statement may seem, becomes almost entirely eliminated from any Arctic problem, instead of being the pivot on which they seem to swing and against which the greatest precautions are taken. -FREDERICK SCHWATKA, in The Independent.



The quarter from whence the following lucubration is addressed cannot fail to give it weight with the judicious reader whose interest has been aroused by the arguments in support of Lord Verulam's pretensions to the authorship of Hamlet. Tregret that I can offer no further evidence of the writer's credentials to consideration than such as may be supplied by her own ingenious and intelligent process of ratiocinative inference; but in literary culture and in logical precision it will be apparent that her contribution to the controversial literature of the day is worthy of the comparison which she is not afraid to challenge is worthy to be set beside the most learned and the most luminous exposition of the so-called Baconian theory.-A. C. S.

Hanwell, Nov. 29, 1887.

THE revelations respecting Shakespeare which were made in the columns of the Daily Telegraph have attracted great attention and caused no little sensation here." With these impressive and memorable words the Paris correspondent of the journal above named opens the way for a fresh flood of correspondence n a subject in which no Englishman or Englishwoman now resident in any asylum-so-called-for so-called lunatics or idiots can fail to cake a keen and sympathetic interest. The lamented Delia Bacon, however, to whom we are indebted for the apocalyptic rectification of our errors with regard to the authorship of Hamlet and Othello, might have rejoiced to know-before she went to Heaven in a strait-waistcoat-that her mantle had fallen or was to fall on the shoulders of a younger prophetess. If the authority of Celia Hobbes-whose hand traces these lines, and whose brain has excogitated the theory now in process of exposition-should be considered insufficient, the Daily Telegraph, at all events, will scarcely refuse the tribute of attentive consideration to the verdict of Professor Polycarp Conolly, of Bethlemopolis, U. I. S. (United Irish States), South Polynesia. The leisure of over twenty years, passed in a padded cell and in investigation of intellectual problems has sufficed-indeed, it has more than sufficed-to confirm the Professor in his original conviction that "Miss Hobbes" (I am permitted-and privileged-to quote his own striking words) "had made it impossible any longer to boycott the question-and that to assert the contrary of so selfevident a truth was to stand groveling in the quicksands of a petrified conservatism."

The evidence that the late Mr. Darwin was the real author of the poems attributed to Lord Tennyson needs not the corroboration of any cryptogram: but if it did, Miss Lesbia Hume, of Earlswood, has authorized me to say that she would be prepared to supply any amount of evidence to that effect. The first book which brought Mr. Darwin's name before the public was his record of a voyage on board the Beagle. In a comparatively recent poem, written under the assumed name of "Tennyson," he referred to the singular manner in which a sleeping dog of that species "plies his function of the woodland." In an earlier poem, The Princess, the evidence derivable from allusion to proper names-that of the real author and that of the pretender-is no less obvious and no less conclusive than that which depends on the words "hang hog," "bacon," "shake, and “spear." The Princess asks if the Prince has nothing to occupy his time-"quoit, tennis, ball-no games?" The Prince hears a voice crying to him-Follow, follow, thou shalt win." Here we find half the name of Darwin; the latter half, and two-thirds of the name of Tennyson-the first and the second third-at once associated, contrasted, and harmonized for those who can read the simplest of cryptograms.

The well-known fact that Bacon's Essays were written by Lord Coke, the Novum Organon by Robert Greene, and the New Atalantis by Tom Nash (assisted by his friend Gabriel Harvey), night surely have given pause to the Baconite assailants of Shakespeare. On the other hand, we have to consider the no less well-known fact that the poems issued under the name of "William Wordsworth" were actually written by the Duke of Wellington, who was naturally anxious to conceal the authorship and to parade the sentiments of a poem in which, with characteristic self-complacency and self-conceit, he had attempted to depict himself under the highly idealized likeness of "the Happy Warrior." Nor can we reasonably pretend to overlook or to ignore the mass of evidence that the works hitherto attributed to Sir Walter Scott must really be assigned to a more eminent bearer of the same surname-to Lord Chancellor Eldon: whose brother, Lord Stowell, chose in like manner (and for obvious reasons) to disguise his authorship of Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by hiring a notoriously needy and disreputable young peer to father those productions of his erratic genius. The parallel case now before us.

[ocr errors]

[But here, we regret to say, the language of Miss Hobbes becomes-to put it mildly -contumelious. We are compelled to pass over a paragraph in which the name of Tennyson is handled after the same fashion as is the name of Shakespeare by her transatlantic precursors or associates in the art or the task of a literary detective.-ED. XIX. CENT.]

Not all the caution displayed by Mr. Darwin in the practice of a studious self-effacement could suffice to prevent what an Irish lady correspondent of my own-Miss Cynthia Berkeley, now of Colney Hatch-has very aptly described as "the occasional slipping off of the motley mask from hoof and tail." When we read of "scirrhous roots and tendons," of "foul-fleshed agaric in the holt," of "the fruit of the Spindle-tree (Euonymus europaeus)," of "sparkles in the stone Avanturine," "of shale and hornblende, rag and trap and tuff, amygdaloid and trachyte," we feel, in the expressive words of the same lady, that "the borrowed plumes of peacock poetry have fallen from the inner kernel of the scientific lecturer's pulpit. if any more special evidence of Darwin's authorship should be required, it will be found in the various references to a creature of whose works and ways the great naturalist has given so copious and so curious an account. "Crown thyself, worm!"-could that apostrophe have issued from any other lips than those which expounded to us the place and the importance of worms in the scheme of nature? Or can it be necessary to cite in further proof of this the well-known passage in Maud beginning with what we may call the pre-Darwinian line-"A monstrous eft was of old the lord and master of earth?"


But the final evidence is to be sought in a poem published long before its author became famous, under his own name, as the exponent of natural selection, of the survival of the fittest, and of the origin of species. The celebrated lines which describe Nature as "so careful of the type, so careless of the single life," and those which follow and reject that theory, are equally conclusive as to the authorship of these and all other verses in which the same hand has recorded the result of the same experience-"that of fifty seeds she often brings but one to bear."

But as the Earl of Essex observed in his political comedy, Love's Labor's Lost "satis quod sufficit." The question whether Shakespeare or Bacon was the author of Hamlet is now, I trust, not more decisively settled than the question whether Maud was written by its nominal author or by the author of The Origin of Species.....

Feeling deeply the truth of these last words, I have accepted the office of laying before the reader the theory maintained by the unfortunate lady who has intrusted me with the charge of her manuscript.-A. C. SWINBURNE, in The Nineteenth Century.

« PreviousContinue »