Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/73

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The advantages of the electric light and of the distribution of power by electricity have lately been recognized by the British Government, who have just passed a bill through Parliament to facilitate the establishment of electrical conductors in towns, subject to certain regulating clauses to protect the interests of the public and of local authorities. Assuming the cost of electric light to be practically the same as gas, the preference for one or other will in each application be decided upon grounds of relative convenience, but I venture to think that gas-lighting will hold its own as the poor man's friend.

[To be continued.]


BUT, besides these local ideals (referred to in the preceding number), there is an inteimational standard of beauty which has survived the mutations in other canons of taste. Athenæus mentions the ingredients of a once-famous sea-fish sauce, and the attempt to try his receipt nearly suffocated the courtiers of Queen Christina with nausea and laughter. Petronius, surnamed the Arbiter of Elegance, would be kicked out by any modern publisher of obscene literature. The Greeks admired the knife-grinder music of the tree-cicada, and their own melodies would probably rout an American audience, but we all can appreciate the merits of their sculptured paragons; their Venus would bag the prize-committee of an Alaska squaw-fair, as she captured the stout knight Tannhäuser.

"Beautiful features are the credentials by which Nature introduces her representatives," says Wieland. Beauty is superior fitness, as a Darwinian would say, and in this respect, too, the preeminence of the ancient Greeks was probably the outcome of their general physical and mental superiority to their fellow-men, though they themselves believed in the existence of a chemical pan-cosmetic. In the trial of the arch-quack Cagliostro, it came out that, during the twelve years from 1765-'77, he had realized three million francs from the sale of his "Recipe for Beauty," a recipe which has been more eagerly searched for than the philosopher's stone, or the secret of longevity. Andreas Cisalpinus made the notable discovery that an ointment of crushed locusts and misletoe-juice would treble the charms of the fairest woman. "What must I do to become very beautiful?" the damsel in "Don Quixote" asks the enchanted Moor's head. "Que seas muy honrada—be very continent," replies the head. Paracelsus recommends meadow-dew, gathered in the morning while the May-moon is on the increase; and Montaigne inquires into the habits of the most well-favored tribes