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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/885

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

mer for an hour. When the water, not so hot but that the hand could be held comfortably in it, had become of a muddy color, the tanner took out the brains and rubbed them in the palms of his hands till they were dissolved into a pasty mass. The skin was hung upon a tree and wrung and twisted into a hard coil, and kept in that position for nearly an hour. It had then apparently shrunk to two thirds of its size, and had to be pulled into shape again. This done, it was spread out, hair side up, and thoroughly rubbed with the brain solution. The effect of this was to give it softness and pliancy. The skin, folded into a kind of ball, was wrapped in a buffalo-robe, and exposed for a few minutes to the sun, for the purpose, as the Indian said, of letting "the brains go well into him." It was then unwrapped and spread out to dry. On the next morning it had shrunken again to one third of its original size, was hard, appeared almost brittle, and was half-transparent. It was then soaked in cold or tepid water, washed and rinsed, wrung and "twisted and retwisted upon itself"; again stretched and manipulated into shape, pulled this way and pulled that, worked at the edges to get them limp and pliant, and at the ears and the skin of the legs. "But during all this time an interesting change was coming over it: the heat of an August sun was rapidly drying it, it was fast coming to be of a velvet-like softness throughout, and, attaining its original size, it was changing to a uniform pale clay-color. The hair side was smooth, while the inside was roughish. Indeed, in a few moments more it was buckskin." Then, with the aid of a wooden awl, the tanner stretched the skin of the neck transversely with great force, cut his mark on either side near the ear, and the fabric was finished and spread out for its final drying.

 

Architecture.—Discussing the question, What style of architecture should we follow? Mr. William Simpson observes that we should follow no style to copy it, or as the ultimate object to be reached, but may use any style with the intention of developing new forms from it. A new style, if we want one—and every people and every age should have its own—can not be evolved out of the inner consciousness of any man or any number of men, but is possible only by practical working. It can only be produced by a course of development requiring time, during which the requirements of the period and the building materials should be the dominating factors. This will produce the constructive forms by a natural process. Then follows the aesthetic or decorative function, in which the artist should be a designer and not a copier. Some style, however, should be taken from which to start. All previous styles have been developments from pre-existing ones. Such has been the condition in the past, and by accepting this we would not be ignoring the experience of what has taken place. The process of adaptation should be begun by weeding out all shams. Let all forms which are not suited to the present wants and conditions be rejected. The same should be done with all constructive forms that are not natural, or which would be bad building if produced with the material employed. No structural form should be added to a building which is not required, and with no other object than that of "architectural effect." This has been a prolific cause of shams. Such things as pinnacles, turrets, towers, and all sorts of useless excrescences have come into existence under this supposed necessity. All decoration which is founded on, or the representation of, previous constructive forms, should be rigidly avoided; and originality in design should be understood as the aim of all decorators.

 

A Problem in Human Character.—A very paradoxical character is described in the autobiography of Solom Maimon, "vagabond Talmudist," and one of the most learned men and sharpest casuists of the Hebrew race. He appears there, according to the summary of a reviewer of the work, as a "skeptical rabbi, a great Talmudist who despised the Talmud, an omnivorous reader of all such science as in the last century a Polish Jew could get hold of, a genuine idler in literature, who, although he could dash off a considerable spell of work in a short time, had no work in him, had no method in him, and always preferred slip-shod effort to steady industry; a man whom want and misery had reduced into spasmodic fits of intemperance, which rather grow upon him toward the end." With all this