Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/879

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

Alps. The peaks and glaciers are in many respects harder to climb than those of Switzerland. Besides serious deficiencies in roads and accommodations, and the absence of guides so complete that the explorer has to bring his own with him from Europe, they are actually more dangerous than peaks of corresponding elevation in Switzerland, the rock being very incoherent and slippery. Mr. Fitz-Gerald had many narrow escapes, the most serious accident being caused by the unexpected fall of a great block of stone. He ascended four peaks—Mount Tasman, 11, 475 feet; Mount Sefton, 10,350 feet; Mount Haidinger, 10,054 feet; and Mount Sealy, 8,631 feet—and crossed three new glacier passes. One of these, to which the author's name has been given, is practicable and valuable, in that it makes possible direct communication between the eastern and western coasts, where none had been before except by sea.

 

Bees as Weapons of War.—History records two instances, according to Mr. Whiteley Stokes in the London Athenæum, in which bees have been used in warfare as weapons against besieging forces. The first is related by Appian, of the siege of Themiscyra in Pontus, by Lucullus in his war against Mithridates. Turrets were brought up, mounds were built, and huge mines were made by the Romans. The people of Themiscyra dug open these mines from above, and through the holes cast down upon the workmen bears and other wild animals, and hives or swarms of bees. The second instance is recorded in an Irish manuscript in the Bibliotheque royale, at Brussels, and tells how the Danes and Norwegians attacked Chester, which was defended by the Saxons and some Gallic auxiliaries. The Danes were worsted by a stratagem; but the Norwegians, sheltered by hurdles, tried to pierce the walls of the town—when, "what the Saxons and the Gaeidhil who were among them did, was to throw down large rocks, by which they broke down the hurdles over their heads. What the others did to check this was to place large posts under the hurdles. What the Saxons did next was to put all the beer and water of the town into the caldrons of the town, to boil them and spill them down upon those who were under the hurdles, so that their skins were peeled off. The remedy which the Lochlans applied to this was to place hides outside on the hurdles. What the Saxons did next was to throw down all the beehives in the town upon the besiegers, which prevented them from moving their hands or legs, from the number of bees which stung them. They afterward desisted and left the city."

 

Artistic Decoration.—Two theories of decoration were recognized by Walter Crane in a recent lecture: the organic, in which the decoration is an essential and integral part of the structure; and the inorganic, in which it is considered merely as so much superadded or surface ornament. With the development of Gothic architecture, sculpture, as indeed decoration of all kinds, became more and more important. It was strictly organic, being used to emphasize structural necessities. The sculpture of the Doric temple was also organic, though on a different principle. In the course of social and architectural evolution we have become more mixed and composite in our architectural styles. With complexity of life, complexity of form has increased, with the result that modern buildings have lost to a great extent that impressiveness which was due to simplicity and the organic relation between structure and decoration. Decoration may be considered from three points of view: from that of public sentiment and national characters and ideals, as the expression of the design, object, and purpose of particular buildings; from the technical point of view of methods and materials; and with regard to adaptation to climatic conditions. The decoration of buildings should be the highest form of art, as it was in the middle ages. The history and legends of localities should be carefully preserved in and identified with buildings. Churches have from time immemorial been the recipients of untold treasures of art and craftsmanship, and still seem to afford the largest field for the designer; but there is another sort of public buildings of ever-increasing importance—the school, in which permanent mural decoration might fill an important part in stimulating the imagination and forming the mind. In decoration attention should be centered upon some leading and distinctive feature. If sculpture is the method, inter-