Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/562

This page has been validated.

lum bound books lining the walls seemed quite in harmony with the dryness of some of the discussions, though the way our authorized ancestor Adam was unanimously ignored might have made the worthy old monks' hair stand on end. At one end of this hall a great throne was erected, with ermine and the Braganza arms all complete. Opposite a band was stationed; in the gallery around admiring natives were congregated. All the male representatives of science were in evening dress, gibus in hand, and resplendent with orders. M. Capellini, of Bologna, a great man though small of stature, was noticeable for the number of his decorations. With four full-blown crosses and ribbons, besides a dozen lesser stars glittering on his shirt-front, he was a gorgeous sight. The only English member yet arrived was conspicuous for the unrelieved black and white of his attire.

With royal punctuality, precisely at one o'clock, the band struck up the national hymn, and their Majesties entered: Dom Fernando, the tall Dowager King Consort (if that is his official title), and Dom Luis, the dumpy reigning King, his son. Every one, it is to be hoped, knows Thackeray's "Rose and the Ring," and if they do not they should know it, so it is needless to describe their royal highnesses further than by saying that the courteous Dom Fernando is the image of the old king in that charming tale, and the accomplished Dom Luis its hero Prince Bulbo in person. There was no mistaking the fact, the immortal Bulbo stood before us—on tiptoe mostly, to add height to his august presence—and we were duly impressed accordingly. With royal patience he and his father sat under their ermine awning, listening to inaudible speeches, with homme miocène as their refrain—what a long course of boring it must take to teach any one to bear it so patiently! who would choose to wear a crown?—and then with royal courtesy they descended from their eminence to be introduced to the leading members present. That over, they had to begin again with the Literary Congress, whose session here also opened that day; while the archæologists and anthropologists escaped to examine the bony and stony treasures of a museum illustrating these sciences, established in the same building. In this arid region many warm discussions as to the antiquity of man took place, and as to how far some undetermined flakes of flint, with dubious bulbs of percussion, found in a questionable stratum, went to prove his existence in Tertiary times. This was the main question of the Lisbon session.

Two days afterward an excursion was made to Otta, the abovementioned haunt of this doubtful Tertiary being, to test the value of the evidence. By 6 a. m. all on science or amusement bent were steaming out of Lisbon. An hour later all had left the special train, and were distributed among twenty-two carriages and omnibuses, drawn, as a rule, by four fine mules, the manners and customs of which were curious and unexpected. The leaders would suddenly bolt round and stare at their scientific load with superhuman curiosity. It re-