Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/880

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

cap that was worn over the coif of white silk or linen that formed the head-dress of the sergeants-at-law from whom the judges were selected. The procurations paid to an archdeacon of the Church of England are a money composition in lieu of his ancient right of quartering himself and his attendant horsemen on the parochial clergy during his visitations. Fee-farm rents, as they are called, are in many cases survivals of payments for services no longer rendered. Canon Taylor pays a rent of this kind, which represents a composition for a certain number of thraves or sheaves of corn, which his predecessors in title rendered to the Abbot of Beverley for his services in "correcting the villans" of a certain parish, who might avail themselves of the privilege of sanctuary that was conferred by Athelstan on the monks. The unchronicled history of English villages may be largely recovered from the study of such anomalous survivals. Sir Henry Maine and Mr. Seebohm in England, and Von Maurer and Prof. Nasse in Germany, have made some valuable researches in this line, and Mr. G. L. Gomme has added to them. The last author explains a duplicate municipal jurisdiction that used to prevail at Rochester by assuming that there was a community there of Danish origin, governed by its own laws and officers, but subordinate to the rule of the Saxon community. Canon Taylor also cites a more striking case at Exeter, where Mr. Kerslake has succeeded in delimitating the boundaries of the Celtic and Saxon communities which dwelt side by side within the walls.


Early Printing at Avignon.—Documents have been recently discovered by the Abbé Requin that go to show that printing was practiced at Avignon before Gutenberg introduced it in Mentz. They record that in 1444 one Procopius Valdfoghel (Waldvogel), a goldsmith of Prague, was living at Avignon, and instructed two students there—Manaud Vitalis and Arnaud de Coselhac—in the art of artificial writing and furnished them with the instruments for it, consisting of two abecedaria of metal and two iron formæ, a steel screw, forty-eight formæ of tin, and other implements. About the same time Valdfoghel instructed one Davin, of Caderousse, a Jew, in the same art; and two years later, on the 10th of March, 1446, he entered into an agreement with the Jew to supply him with twenty-seven Hebrew letters cut in iron, and other implements for the practice of printing. At the same time the Jew agreed not to disclose the art, either in theory or practice, to any one as long as Valdfoghel remained at Avignon or in the neighborhood. A partnership was formed between Valdfoghel and his two former students, from which Vitalis retired in April, 1446, giving up his share in the implements, whether of iron, steel, copper, lead, and other metals, or of wood. He also made oath on the Holy Gospels that the art of artificial writing taught him by Valdfoghel was a true art, and easy and useful to any one who desired to work at it and was fond of it. It is questioned whether this declaration was obtained to avoid the imputation of sorcery, or to commit Vitalis to an assertion that the invention was a successful one. These transactions took place while Gutenberg was still experimenting at Strasburg, and their date, if confirmed, would fix Avignon, instead of Mentz, as the second city where printing was carried on.


Sparrows and Robins.—Another attack on the English sparrow is made by C. B. Cook in a Bulletin of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. No new charge is made against the sparrows, nor is any new proof adduced of the old charges that when too numerous they are a nuisance and that they drive away other birds. We respect, if we do not love them, for the good they have done in clearing city trees of measuring-worms. As to their incompatibility with other birds, we have the witness of one suburb of New York, where the sparrows have been the longest and have multiplied the most, that since the law came in to protect other birds against the man with a gun and the boy with a stone, the robins have been increasing very fast, are not troubled by the sparrows, and during the past spring were more often seen than they. Thus the assertion that man, not sparrows, is responsible for the recent scarcity of song and friendly birds is confirmed. Mr. Cook's paper furnishes an amusing if not pleasant illustration of the folly of offering bounties for the destruction of sparrows.