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Poisons' Act. To move for stricter regulations under such circumstances would, we venture to think, be an insult to the medical profession, and might lead to mischievous results.



RAILWAYS are now being rapidly extended over the Cape Colony; and travelling in South Africa, as now in vogue, will in a few years, like the stagecoach of England, be a matter of the past. Two main or trunk lines of railway have been constructed into the interior, one from Cape Town as far as Beaufort West; and another from Port Elizabeth as far as Graaffreinet, with the view of their further extension and junction in the Midland Provinces. Travelling is at present done by means of oxen, mules, or horses. Oxen are used chiefly for heavy transport, but also at times for passengers, or when a family moves from one part of the country to another; horses for passengers who require to move rapidly from one part of the country to another, such as those travelling between Cape Town and the Diamond Fields; and mules either for heavy transport or passengers; and where there are frequent relays of them and the animals in good condition, travelling from one part of the country to another is a matter of tolerable ease and quickness.

Travelling with oxen is not now so frequent as in former years, say in the time of Barrow or the poet Pringle, and is chiefly done by the Boers, and notably the Orange Free State and Transvaal Boer. The method of procedure is as follows. We will suppose the party outspanned or bivouacked, after a stretch of from two to three hours' travelling. As soon as the oxen are released from the yoke and turned adrift to graze, the drivers collect wood, of which there is generally plenty to be found, and make a huge bonfire. Next, the old Boer tanta or housewife makes her appearance with a rooster or gridiron, which she places on the fire until it is thoroughly heated; the boys hand down the kostmaandje or provision-hamper, which is well stored with carbonaatjes, sussaaties, rusks, and biltong. The carbonaatje is a chop prepared on the gridiron until partly carbonised, whence its name. The sussaatie -most likely of Malay or Indian origin-consists of small bits of meat curried, spiced with onion, and run on to skewers; and, in the hot climate of South Africa, forms with lemon-juice a valuable article of diet. The rusks used are biscuits leavened with a superior quality of yeast, made from raisins; and a bag of them, together with biltong or springbuck-flesh dried in the sun, is a necessary adjunct to every long journey. As soon as the mats-generally made of springbuck skin-are spread, and coffee set, the men partake of their meal by soaking rusks in coffee, and helping themselves to carbonaatje hot from the gridiron, using such knives and forks as may fall in their way; for in South Africa, in travelling, you must do not as you wish, but as

you can.

Meanwhile, one of the party is despatched to fetch the oxen, which he drills into order

rather stiff at the handle, but soft and pliant at its extremity. One of the men, standing in front of the oxen, gets hold of the riemsthongs of bullock-hide, having an iron ring at one extremity-and with a loop, attaches a riem to each pair of horns. The oxen are then led back, and inspanned in pairs, generally keeping their places, but occasionally interchanged, as may suit convenience. They are generally driven by means of the sjambok, of which the two last oxen, being in close proximity to the driver, who sits on the voorstel or front extremity of the floor, get rather a merciless share; or by means of a whip, consisting of plaited riempies ending in a voorslag, of the drivers, notably the Cape Malays, have and fastened on to a long bamboo stick. Some great adroitness in using the whip, being able to hit any of the front oxen at any spot they may desire. When the wagon is inspanned, the master and driver take their seats on the front box, his wife and children on a suspended bed or mattress immediately behind him, and within easy reach of his gun, which is generally loaded, and which the wife is always ready, at a moment's notice, to hand to him, in the event of any game turning up. For the sportsman, no travelling can be better suited, as he can always beat the bush in the vicinity of the wagon; and as the wagon moves on slowly, he can always rejoin it at his convenience.

Of game to be met, there is a great variety; notably in the Cape Colony, the springbuck, rheebuck, steenbuck, wildebeest, the wild peacock, khnorhaan, plover, partridges, hares; and in the Free State, large herds of blesbucks. Lions are seldom to be met now, except in the higher latitudes; but elephants are still to be found at the Knysna and near Port Elizabeth, where they are protected by law.

At the evening bivouac, when the day's travelling is over, the natives generally cluster around the fireside, and begin to tell tales of their adventures, and also about animals, at which they are very clever. (A good collection of these tales was made by the late Dr Bleek, Professor of the Philology of South African Languages, and is, we believe, to be found in the Public Library at Cape Town.) Passengertravelling between Cape Town and the Diamond Fields is generally effected by means of the passenger transport wagons. As these wagons have constant relays of fresh horses and mules, one may accomplish the distance-about seven hundred miles-making use of the railways also, in five days. Mules, of which a good strong animal has been imported from Monte Video, have to a great extent superseded horses, as they stand the vicissitudes of morning frost and noonday heat remarkably well, and can live upon almost anything.

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CURIOUS CASE OF FOSTER-NURSING. A CORRESPONDENT in the south of Scotland has favoured us with the following:

The story published in your Journal of January 28th, and which was designated 'My Highland Collie and her Adopted Kittens,' recalls to my

not very long ago came under my notice, and which I now send you.

A few years ago, when visiting at a neighbour's house, it was mentioned in the course of conversation that there was then on the premises a singular case of a cat having adopted children from a nest of one of her natural victims. On my expresing a wish to witness this phenomenon, I was at once taken to the stable-yard, and there shown a fine female cat nursing a family composed of two kittens and two handsome young rats, the whole four living in perfect harmony. On my inquiring the history of this remarkable group, I was informed by the coachman in charge, that shortly after the cat-mother had given birth to a litter of kittens, she had been deprived by him of all but three. The mother evidently did not approve of this reduction in her family, became restless for a time; and on her again settling down, it was discovered she had replaced one of her murdered children by a fine young rat. Seeing this, and knowing that cats were too numerous to please the gamekeeper, the coachman determined to destroy one of the three remaining kittens; which was done. On the following morning, the coachman, on visiting the cat's nursery, was not a little surprised to discover that the mother, in lieu of her murdered offspring, had introduced into her nursery a second young rat.

The two kittens, in company with the two rats, had been impartially nursed, and were, when I saw them, living in perfect harmony. They were at that time about two months old; and were residing together in an old wine-case, with a piece of wire-netting thrown over the top. The young rats were pretty-looking, sleek creatures, with bright brown eyes, and evidently well nourished. They were, however, of different dispositions; for whilst the one would with confidence return the visitor's gaze, the other disliked being looked at by strangers, and would, on the approach of the latter, make rather frantic endeavours to conceal itself amongst the fur of its foster-mother.

I afterwards learned, I regret to say, that the family party was broken up in an abrupt and unsatisfactory manner. The friendly coachman had left his situation. The cat-mother had given way to some poaching proclivities, and during a nocturnal ramble, had been caught and killed in one of the gamekeeper's traps. The kittens and young rats were thereafter thrown friendless on the world, and left no trace behind them.


Considering the cheap and easy construction of these useful instruments, it is wonderful they are not used more than they are, as, by employing them, extremely interesting observations can be made on the denizens of sea or river. To make a water telescope, procure a tube made of tin, and funnel-shaped, about three and a half feet long, and nine inches in diameter at the broadest end. It should be wide enough at the top to take in the observer's eyes, and the inside should be painted black. At the bottom or wide end, a clear thick piece of glass must be inserted, with a little lead, in the form of a ring, to weight the tube. When the instrument is immersed in clear water, it is

astonishing how many fathoms down the observer can see. One of these simple contrivances would greatly enhance the pleasure of water picnics, as much amusement would be afforded by watching the inhabitants below; and it would also prove very useful in surveying deep places, that have been ground-baited, for, if no fish were seen collected there, another spot would naturally be chosen. The Norwegians employ this instrument largely for ascertaining the position of herringshoals, and in their cod-fisheries. Often by the use of the telescope they discover fish which otherwise they would not have known of.

THE MISSION OF THE FLOWERS. HAIL! lovely visitants, that yearly bring

Edenic breathings of enchanted air;
That yearly strew the green paths of the spring,

And radiant summer wreathe with garlands rare. Hillside and hollow, wayside, wood, and plain, Blessing, they come and go, and come again.

Dear as the light, their flush of childhood-joys!
Companions of our youth's unclouded day,
What fragrances of love-sweet memories

Around them cling! And when they droop away, What lingering scents their withered blooms retain Of flowers that fade but once-nor come again!

Theirs, to the homes made dark by sorrow's blight,
A ministry of love and cheerfulness,
Speaking of peace and hope-sweet thoughts and

To silent suffering and lone distress; Theirs to bedew the dust we cannot save, And then-to hallow the beloved one's grave!

Ah! ye to whom-pent up in dreary town

The fields and groves are but a fairy tale— To whom comes not the balm of breezes blown

From heather hill, or blossom-breathing vale: The gift of flowers, from loving, tender hands, Charms, like a glimpse of green 'mid desert sands.

Come on your angel-mission, lovely flowers,

Athwart the world broadcast! The wilderness Make glad! 'Neath happy suns and genial showers Come with sweet power to beautify and bless The paths of man; his spirit to illume With light of Grace-flower of celestial bloom!


The Conductors of CHAMBERS's JOURNAL beg to direct the attention of CONTRIBUTORS to the following notice: 1st. All communications should be addressed to the 'Editor, 339 High Street, Edinburgh.'

2d. To insure return in case of ineligibility, postagestamps should accompany every manuscript. 3d. MANUSCRIPTS should bear the author's full Chris

tian name, surname, and address, legibly written; and should be written on white (not blue) paper, and on one side of the leaf only.

4th. Poetical offerings should invariably be accompanied by a stamped and directed envelope. Unless Contributors comply with the above rules, the Editor cannot undertake to return ineligible papers.

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON, and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

All Rights Reserved.

Fourth Serie?


No. 957.-VOL. XIX.



ASCENDING BEN NEVIS IN WINTER. UPWARDS of twenty miles in circumference at the base, and rearing its head to an altitude of four thousand four hundred and six feet above the level of the sea, stands Ben Nevis, the loftiest mountain in Great Britain. To make the ascent has from time immemorial been the endeavour of those who care to behold Nature in her wilder aspects; nor is the journey one which the tourist is likely soon to forget. He marks it as a point in his life, and if he has been lucky in weather, he boasts with pardonable pride of having witnessed from his lofty stand-point the peaks of Ben Lomond, Ben More, Ben Lawers, Cairngorm, and other well-known heights.

Struck with the idea that the highest point in Great Britain might be utilised for the purposes of carrying out a series of meteorological observations, the main object of which should be to forecast the weather, Mr Clement L. Wragge, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, succeeded last year in carrying this into practical effect. Making Fort-William, which town stands at the base of the mountain, his headquarters, he or his assistant made daily ascents to the top, where, with the aid of instruments, a series of observations was made in connection with the Scottish Meteorological Society. Debarred by winter from pursuing these observations, Mr Wragge again essayed the hazardous ascent in March, an account of which, with other interesting particulars, has been supplied to us by that gentleman. He writes as follows:


of observing them, at the hours of 9, 9.30, and 10 A.M., if they would grant me certain facilities. I had devoted myself to a life of travel and research, and was convinced that in endeavouring to promote the establishment of meteorological stations at high levels, I was turning my energies in the right direction. With a view to securing simultaneous observations at high and low levels, my wife undertook to make observations at the same hours, near the sea-level— at Achintore, Fort-William. The Society-whose able chairman, Mr Milne-Home of Milne-Graden, was the first to suggest an Observatory on Ben Nevis, in view of the great benefits likely to accrue ultimately to science and the public from observations at such an altitude and positionaccepted my offer, and cordially seconded my efforts. The result was, that last year regular daily observations were made on the Ben in all conditions of weather from the 1st of June to the 13th of October inclusive, without, I am proud to say, the break of a single day.

I ascended the mountain at the rate of about five days a week, arriving at the summit at 9 A.M.; and a trained assistant--Mr William Whyte, of Fort-William-relieved me in the ascent on the remaining days. Occasionally, as the posting-up of the observations for the Society was of itself heavy work, I was obliged to send my assistant to the Ben four days in one week; but I made a point of making up for it, and in consequence have sometimes climbed the Ben on eight or nine days in direct succession, returning to Fort-William each afternoon. Observations, besides being taken near the sea-level, were also made in connection with those on the summit of the mountain, at intermediate points during the ascent and descent, or upon any change which might suddenly take place in the weather. I usually took a pony by a circuitous path to a point within two thousand one hundred feet above the sea, and so I was fresh for the remaining and harder portion of the climb. Now and again, however, I trudged the entire distance, taking a more direct route.

On the 31st of May, 1881, I had the honour of establishing the first Meteorological Observatory on the summit of Ben Nevis, a mountain in the county of Inverness, Scotland, and the highest point of land in Great Britain, being four thousand four hundred and six feet above the level of the sea. I had proposed to the Scottish Meteorological Society-who kindly provided the mercurial barometer-to place my own set of standard instruments on the top of the mountain; and to make daily ascents from Fort-William, for the purpose

obliquely down the grassy slopes, so that, although the ascent at this point was comparatively easy, we had to struggle with the gusts, and kept slipping back, the ground being very soft.

With a view to making arrangements for the continuance of my meteorological work this coming season, I lately revisited Fort-William and Ben Nevis, leaving Edinburgh by the early At about one thousand feet a pause was made morning train on the 27th of March, accompanied at 7.10 A.M., when the temperature was found by an old Australian friend, Mr Philip Egerton to be 454, and the aneroid 28-215, with a modeWarburton. I also took my faithful Newfound-rate south-westerly breeze; clouds still covered land dog 'Robin Renzo,' who in all conditions of the adjacent hills, and rain was falling. When weather accompanied me in my ascents of Ben about thirteen hundred feet up the mounNevis last summer and autumn. tain we reached the first plot of snow; and a hundred feet higher-where we encountered the first wisps of the cloud-fog-a frog was seen disporting itself in a swamp! The highest altitude, by the way, at which I have seen this reptile fifty feet, and this was in August last.

on Ben Nevis is two thousand three hundred and

Now we had reached a level portion, and continued our course-leaping from stone to stoneover the black swamps, which were made the At about seventeen deeper by the melting snow. hundred and forty feet we saw a white mountain hare-an irritating chance for Renzo, who vainly chased it over the swamps and round the granite boulders, far and away. I have never before seen this creature at such a low elevation, though frequently at about two thousand four hundred feet; and its tracks have been noticed on the Plateau of Storms at four thousand feet.

Arrived at Fort-William, we put up at the West End, a comfortable little hostelry held by MacIntosh; and, in order to discuss matters, I called on Mr Colin Livingston of the Public Schools, who takes a warm interest in the Ben Nevis observations. The result was that I decided to ascend next morning, Mr Livingston kindly undertaking to observe near the sea-level, in direct connection with my contemplated set of readings

on the mountain.

In the morning we were up by five, and after a hearty breakfast, at once began to prepare for the ascent. The prospect was dreary enough. Incessant rain was falling in a soaking drizzle, and a dirty cloud-fog covered the mountains to a low altitude. To avail ourselves of his assistance in case of accident, we arranged to take with us Colin Cameron, a well-known guide.

By 5.40 we had greased our boots; and were soon threading our way through the streets of FortWilliam, clad in our oldest suits, and with lashings round our trouser-legs for comfort's sake. Warburton carried a bundle of sticks; and Colinbesides a capacious bag containing oatmeal cakes, hard-boiled eggs, and sandwiches-a tin of sawdust steeped in paraffin, wherewith to light a fire, should we succeed in reaching the summit. My burden, though light, was an important one -namely, the travelling instruments-aneroid, thermometer, ozone tests; and a flask of the farfamed 'Long John,' necessary enough under the conditions of winter we soon had to face. Renzo, who made up the party, was in great spirits, occasionally loitering behind to salute an old friend, and again trotting ahead, familiar with every step of the way.

About 5.50 I paused to observe at the sea-level. Temperature was 46.7 F., aneroid 29-367; with a heavy pallium of rain-cloud covering the sky, and a moderate south-westerly breeze blowing. Our course lay along the Inverness road as far as the Bridge of Nevis; then we turned towards Claggan, following for some little distance the course of the deeply wooded and picturesque Glen. Here the birds were joyously singing their early lays of the coming spring; and beyond, the dark heights of Meall an t-Suidhe (Hill of Rest), capped with 'wisps' and 'tails' of gloomy cloud-fog, frowned over the Peat Moss below. At a shepherd's hut we paused, and took a few lumps of peat, in order the better to feed the fire we hoped to be able to make on the summit. The swampy Moss was soon crossed, and the ascent commenced up the slopes of Meall an t-Suidhe, the western spur of the great Ben Nevis system. At about three hundred feet we experienced strong south-westerly gales, sweeping

We were now enveloped in the main cloudfog, and pursued our way, making for the Lake (Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe). At eight o'clock this point was reached, and at the spot where I took intermediate observations last season, I took observations now, and found the temperature of the air was 430, of the water of the fake 400, aneroid 27.507. Heavy rain was still falling, a strong south-westerly gale was blowing, and cloud-fog enveloped all. The ground besides was rendered sloppy with melting snow. Pursuing our course, we now proceeded over the fairly level quag. mire that lies between the Lake and the slopes of the Ben proper. Mosses and lichens thrive around here in abundance, and the spot is of much interest to the botanist. Foremost comes the reindeer moss (Cladonia rangiferina) in great profusion. I may just mention, too, for the sake of those who are specially interested in the subject, Andreæa alpina, Lycopodium selago, Sphagnum cymbifolium, Sphagnum rubellum; and Scyphophorus pyxidatus, Cladonia uncialis, and Parmelia saxatilis. Dwarf specimens of the heather (Calluna vulgaris) and bog grasses also abound; and the swamp is a favourite locality for the butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) and several kinds of orchis, which particularly arrested my attention early last summer.


At about two thousand feet we came to masses of snow lying in the trenches of the mountain side; and the next two hundred feet of the ascent were over slushy hags and melting snow, rendered progress a hard task. Our course then lay over the rough felsites and porphyrites of the steep face of the mountain, and the most trying part of the climb commenced. We had now passed the practical limit of vegetation (about two thousand four hundred feet); but if I may slightly digress, I should like to mention here that many choice plants exist even above three thousand feet, and various kinds of mosses and lichens on the very summit of Ben Nevis.

Between the summit and the altitude of Buchan's Well, which is three thousand five hundred and seventy-five feet above the sea, I have gathered Saxifraga stellaris; fine specimens of Alchemilla alpina, Poa alpina, and Carex rigida; the mosses Oligotrichum hercynicum and Racomitrium lanuginosum; and the lichens Cetraria islandica, Lecidea geographica, which adheres to the rocks, and Stereocaulon paschale, which grows in abundance on the top of the mountain. Between Buchan's Well and three thousand feet I have obtained specimens of the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), Viola palustris, Rhodiola rosea, probably Campanula rotundifolia, Potentilla tormentilla, a dwarf eyebright in flower (Euphrasia officinalis), the turfy hair grass (Aira caspitosa), &c.

But there was not much botanising to be done at high altitudes on the present occasion, and on nearing the Red Burn, at two thousand six hundred feet, we saw that its rugged slopes were filled with vast shelving masses of snow many feet deep. It was evident that great difficulties were before us; and before pushing on, we determined to rest and refresh ourselves with a snack of luncheon; for the pure mountain air-though bitterly cold and raw-was yet most exhilarating, and our appetites had become keen. So, in the great ravine of the Red Burn, which drains a large portion of the western slopes, we paused, and enveloped in the cloud, and surrounded by tremendous fosses of snow, we eagerly discussed the contents of Colin's bag, Renzo sniffing around waiting for his share. My only fear was lest we might be overtaken by an avalanche. Colin declared that the snow-masses on the south side of the burn were some thirty feet deep; but, however this may have been, it was very evident that it would be highly dangerous to attempt to cross these deep accumulations from this side, so I decided to proceed by a different route, and to follow the ravine up its northern side. Slowly and carefully we plodded upwards, testing every step, yet nevertheless often stumbling into crevices, and sinking thigh deep in the soft treacherous snow. The ascent now became a matter of considerable venture and difficulty; nearly all the landmarks were buried, and the raw, chilling fog-sheet grew thicker. At last we reached a point near the source of the burn by Buchan's Well, and the view was desolate in the extreme. The well was completely buried; and one whole sheet of deep snow stretched through the fog beyond, dazzling the eyes by its excessive whiteness. After a brief pause to consider our position, we struck a course for the first precipices which lay directly ahead; and when we had waded along about another hundred yards, we got a glimpse of the edge-a formidable brink, smoothed over by great walls and heaps of snow, and looming through the fog like some great gulf of destruction. We now followed pretty much the outline of these fearful abysses, taking care to give them a good wide berth.

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owing to the configuration of this portion of the mountain, sweep across it with great fury during deep cyclonic depressions. On one occasion last summer I had to fight every foot of my way across this plateau, crawling along, and pushing on from boulder to boulder, to obtain breathingtime, and some little shelter under their friendly lee-so great was the fury of the north-east gale. Its rugged blocks of agglomerate were now entirely covered by the uniform mantle of snow, and most of the cairns marking the track lay deeply buried. Now and again, however, just the top of some spectral-looking pile, lashed with snow, hove in sight through the cloud-fog to confirm us in our course.


At last at 10.40 A.м. I found myself once more on the top of Ben Nevis. But where were the instruments and observatory fixings which had been left there during the winter? Where was my hut, in a corner of which I had hoped again to kindle a fire? All literally snowed up. No trace of the notice-board, although about seven feet high, could be seen; the barometer cairn, also seven feet high, only showed two feet, and the great Ordnance cairn about the same. The north wall of the hut, about five feet high, was buried; and the south wall only just appeared. On searching the spot where the thermometer cage was fixed, we found the top of it, over five feet in height, nearly level with the main surface of snow. fact, the entire cage was buried, only some four inches of it showing on the south side, where it is nearly seven feet from the ground. Hence it was impossible to get at the instruments inside. At the conclusion of my period of daily observations last season, I had left the maximum and minimum self-registering thermometers in the cage, having set them for the winter, and Mr Livingston observed them twice subsequently. The former, on Negretti and Zambra's principle, is an admirable instrument, especially adapted for high-level stations; for if properly managed, no reading can be lost by vibration during gales and storms. The same remark applies to Hicks' Solar Radiation Thermometer, which I also had in use last season.

Waiting patiently for eleven o'clock, when I had determined to take observations with my travelling instruments, we sat down on the snow by the barometer cairn. Colin meanwhile endeavoured to light a fire; but in the absence of shelter, the wind being very strong, all our efforts were in vain, and, moreover, the match-box had got damp. So we threw down the bundle of sticks and lumps of peat that we had carried with such fond hopes, and gave up the attempt in despair. Although drenched with the continuous moisture, and our hands swollen and numbed by the wet and raw cold, our appetites were keen enough; and we set to workstill enveloped by thick cloud-to demolish the remaining provisions, and poor old Robin Renzo again came in for his share. So lifeless were my fingers, that I could hardly shell an egg. At last the minute-hand drawing nigh to eleven, I 'swung' the thermometer, and found the temperature was 356; whilst the aneroid-which at the sea-level was 29-367-now read 24-945, with a strong north-westerly breeze sweeping across, accompanied by dense cloud-fog and incessant

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