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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/417

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ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

met in Italy by the member proposing him. This rule is said to have led on one occasion to a resolution of the members which might well astonish geographers. A candidate had been elected on the strength of his having been met at Avignon—at that time really more Italian than French in all its associations. The mistake was seen, and in order to maintain the validity of the election a special resolution was carried, that "in the opinion of this society Avignon is in Italy." It was then considered that a dangerous precedent might have been created, and forthwith a second resolution was passed, that "in the opinion of this society Avignon is the only town in France which is in Italy."

 

—— Christian Liberality.—President Arthur being on Long Island the other Sunday with some publicans and sinners, and the party being an hungered while the corn was not eared, plucked the contents of a trout-pond and did eat. Whereupon the Scribes and Pharisees are shocked at this desecration of the Sabbath-day. The "Christian Union," in an article suffused with complacency at its well-known Christian liberality, remarks: "The country can afford to have a mistaken public policy maintained through four years of misadministration better than it can afford to have a bad example of Sabbath-breaking, impiety, and vulgarity, set before the whole community by men of the first eminence."

 

—— Ownership and Rental.—Of the 3,800,000 farms, approximately, into which the cultivated area of the United States is divided, sixty, or even seventy, per cent are cultivated by their owners. In the Northern States the proportion rises to eighty per cent, or even higher. Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts, of the New England States, and Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, of the Northwestern States, show an excess of ninety per cent.

 

—— The bigotry of the orthodox Russians, like that of the conservative Spaniards, is a sort of mental disease, but there is less method and more humor in the madness of the Muscovites; a facetious answer has often propitiated the wrath of their clerical inquisitors. The Synod of Moscow once arraigned the philosopher Lermontoff on the charge of being an abettor of the Copernican heresies, especially of the "doctrine of plural worlds," and requested him to explain his paradogmas. "From the bugs in the beard of your Eminence," Lermontoff addressed the "grand metropolitan," "I infer that the beards of the worshipful coadjutors are similarly infested, and by a parity of reasoning the population of this earth inclines me to suspect a plurality of inhabited planets." They let him go.

General Skobeleff, in his memoirs of the Turkish campaign, tells an equally good story at the expense of his orthodox countrymen. When the vanguard of his cavalry approached the hamlet of Kerzanlik, in the eastern Balkan, the frightened burghers sent out a deputation of prominent citizens to implore the clemency of the conqueror. Skobeleff returned an evasive reply, and, after a private consultation with his colleagues, the spokesman of the committee repeated his appeal with the following amendment: that, rather than have their town pillaged, the citizens would agree to supply every trooper of his command with sixteen pints of slibovitz (plum-brandy), and consent to believe in any number of gods not exceeding two dozen!