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Get work, get work! I know full well
The church endowment went up with the beam,
A BAY OF SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM.
BY CAROLINE A, WIITE.
Few things delight me more than to make one of the crowd at our picture galleries and museums on a free day. I love to mark the propriety of demeanour, the attention to personal appearance, the lively interest and expanding curiosity of the visitors, and to overhear the unsophisticated opinions and crude criticisms adventurously hazarded on the pictorial and other works of art, or of the utilities around them, showing at once the refining power and the evolvement of observation and inquisitiveness from the mere presentation of such collections to the eye.
On the first days of the week, individuals of the rudest occupations pass through the National Gallery ; but who has ever witnessed a rude action or heard coarse language there! Thousands of working men and women wander amidst the flowers and shrubs of Kew without a bud being broken or a leaf torn away, and the same decorum and appreciation marks, as a rule, their conduct at all our national places of exhibition. All this is pleasant to a believer in the progression of humanity, who perceives that side of it now in shade gradually forging up to the horizon, and as certain of basking in the light of a coming day of universal intelligence as he is, that the wondrous scientific discoveries, the various adaptations of mechanical art, the social, sanitary, and educational improvements of our epoch, while benefiting all ranks of life, have a special reference and tendency to this progressive uplifting of the industrial classes. It may be said in passing, that it was not working men and women who lately rifled the state cabins of the Great Eastern. It was the vulgar rich, in search of inomentos of their visit !
Cheap literature, cheap postage, cheap locoinotion, working men's colleges, schools of design, tree access to picture galleries, royal grounds, museums, and national gardens, the school of practical geology, with its free lectures to working men, the committee of council of education, science, and art, the doings of the sanitary commissioners, of model build ing societies, cheap reading rooms, and free readings, these are the levers that are effecting, slowly, but not the less surely, the social and moral elevation of the people of the metropolis.
If we look abroad into the provinces, we shall find kindred institutions, and kindred efforts being made ; and even in isolated districts, without the circle of great towns, where capital and the intelligence of some master mind has created new ones in the course of an industrial career, and there are many such in the modern topography of our manufacturing, counties ; the local church, schools, readings, and lectures testify to the interest of the owner in the intellectual impruvement of his hands, and to a liberality largely in keeping with the tendencies of an enlightened age.
In London, one of the most important, as well as the most interesting of our public educational institutions, is the South Kensington Museum, wholly distinct from every other establishment of the kind-a collection of the common things of daily life, rather than a magazine of rare ones ; it creates an interest in every appliance of art and nature in their relation to man, from pictures to building materials, and is not the less full of pootry because abounding in utilities, nor less rich in wonders, because discovering them in all that lies about our paths and in our common homes.
Through the bays and galleries of this Museum, on the Monday and Tuesday of Easter week, more than eleven thousand persons passed; and although the lectures explanatory of the various departments, are not like those at the Geological Museum, absolutely free to working men, a nominal sum being required for admittance to them, they are so well attended that numbers are frequently sent away for want of space to accommodate them, although a walk of several miles, after a hard day's toil, occasionally intervenes between the Museum and their homes.
All this is very full of hope to the philanthropist, who marks with delight the eager interested crowd, and counts so many hours won from mental idleness, inebriety, or household discontent-to say nothing of the visual enjoyment, the active thoughts awakened by the various objects, the new suggestions, and the information to be derived from them, and from the clear instructional labels affixed to wall and table cases.
The lecture evenings are also free evenings, and busy ones to the attendants, who are not as a rule, a thing to be regretted, much personally interested in their surroundings, mere walkers up and down with wooden wands, whose mental vision is too dim and dull to be animated nou with the "rue and euphrasy” of an informing spirit.
“You see, ma'am,” said one in reference to a remark touching the interest of the collection in his department, “it's very like everything else when you're always along with it. We knows everything by heart; them's bones, and that's ihe manufactured article, and yon's charcoal:-in course our gentlemen knows a good deal more about them than we do, that's their business—they can study; but we sees too much of 'em to be curious; they're just so many bits and scraps in glass cases-and as to reading about them-a workman does’nt go back to the shop after working hours.".
On the other hand, in the silk and wool department the interest of the attendant in the living silk-worms in his charge, and his practical experience in the rearing and management of them, gave vitality to the printed information of the labels, and enabled him to illustrate with the recently hatched caterpillars and the cacoons produced in the museum, various interesting particulars relating to them. He only failed, where many a narrator has failed before him, in the chronology of his subject, confounding the use of silk in Persia with its first appearance in England, and apparently obtaining ready credit for the fact that "the manufacture of silk has been invented three hundred years."
Now, we venture to say that this man's days are neither as unprofitable por as wearisome as his neighbour's, and that, apart from anachronisms, his oral lectures over his cardboard box of silk worms, and twigs and basket of cocoons, are a source of entertainment and improvement to his visitors and himself, and that, in spite of long hours and aching feet, which he complained of as quite an illness, he finds pleasure in the occupation, and a certain self-respect in this power to add something to the printed information appended to the objects around him. Indeed, throughout the period of our visit, (having a student's purpose, we had gone thither on a student's day, when the company is less numerous than on others), we seldom saw him disengaged; his natural intelligence and civility made his services in request in other departments than his own, which appeared to be one of the most popular in i his part of the Museum.
In a line with this department the visitor comes upon that most interesting division," which the intelligence and philanthropy of Mr. T. Twining originally projected, and which has been materially developed by the Society of Arts, under the practical management of Dr. Lyon Playfair, and subsequently by Dr. Lankester—“the food” department of the economic collection.
In Dr. Playfair's arrangement a certain case, to the contents of which I shail presently refer, occupied the centre of the first bay devoted to this department, and riveted the attention of the visitor on the moment of his entrance ; a natural and far better arrangement it appears to me than the present one, since its contents afford the key-note to the harmony and connection of the whole, and are calculated to excite in the most indifferent spectator an inmediate interest in the surrounding objects. At present the union between it and its surroundings--the very meaning and purpose of its presence-is in great danger of being lost, as it may be from its situation, if not especially sought for-the last object that meets the eye. The contents of this case is that microcosm of the ancients, man, resolved into his ultimate elements, which are represented by so many pounds of oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen in well sealed bottles—so many pounds of sooty carbon, of phospherus, concealed in wax-like candles-so many ounces of chlorine, of sodium, of potassium, and grains of silicon, of mag. nesium, iron, sulphur, and chlorium, with their proximate principles, the largest quantity of which is water; then fat, gelatine, febrine, and albumen, with phosphate of lime, and the carbonates of lime and soda, with sundry ounces of common salt or chloride of sodium, sulphate of soda, fluoride or calcium, and grains of chlorine, of potassium, of the sulphate, and phosphate of potash, and chloride and peroxide of iron. Such is the compound chemistry of the human body, to the sustentation and building up of which creation is laid under contribution, and yields its daily services in animal substances, in vegetable food-fuel, renovating spices, subtle essences, and vinous fruits.
As the eye ranges round the various cases in this room, with its world of objects gathered from elements, and kingdoms, and provinces to this end, it must be a dull nature that does not perceive more than the making of flesh, and the renewing of blood, and building up of bone and muscle in all this preparation of the earth's produce for man's use; and who cannot trace in its kinds and quantities, the same law of progression wbich is to be read in the very purposes of the museum itselt, and in the spirit of the times which is ranging through its means, and that of other like institutions, a knowledge of the sciences on the popular side. In an instant, as if a flash of electricity revealed how the common things of life are rudimentory to its glory; the enterprise, industry, wealth, science, manufactures, and commerce, represented by these different substances, the representatives in their nun bers and varieties, of the most common and simple of our daily wants; occurs to one, and the inductions of intelligence leading on from the hunger enforced ineal of crude vegetables and hunted flesh to this present mastery and dominion, this redemption of Adam's inheritance over every herb and tree, and over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, and every living thing that moveth upon the earth has a new reading and significance.
These cases show me the laws regulating our physical being from the
* A catalogue of the contents of this department has just been compiled by Dr. Lankester,
beginning. The flesh of animals affording zoogenous watter to replace the wear and tear occasioned by our own muscular exertions, and the beatings of the hea
Plants secreting gums, starch, sugar, with their three elements carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, the food-fuel by the coinbustion of which animal heat is maintained. For the machinery of the human frame demands a temperature of 98. Fahrin heat, and the necessary carbonaceous matter is celléred in the tissues of the animal as well as vegetable kingdom--fat being of all heat producers the most valuable. A label, close at hand, tells me that in order to burn the daily amount of food-fuel, a man inhales about 3,000 gallons of air in twenty-four hours; but in hot climates less carbonaceous matter being required than in cold ones ; Nature, with that nice economy evident in all her works, has provided for this saving, and the foods of tropic countries only contain from 20 to 30 parts of charcoal in the 100, wbile fats and Arctic blubber contain from so to 90. Again, the waste in the solid rame work of our bodies has been cared for, and the means of reparation prepared in various mineral elements stored in different alimentary substances; thus we find from an analysis of the various specimens of animal food that a pound of beef contains 350 grains of mineral matter, veal 312 grains, mutton 245 grains, pork 105 grains, while the various cereals which furnish our daily bread contain an average of two parts in a hundred of mineral matter. These, with their manufactured products, occupy several of the eases in this department, but a portion of another bay has also been assigned to them, the walls of which are tapes tried with rich sheafs of wheat in all its varieties, the bearded spikes of the shorter barley, and the graceful panicles of the oat; the very sight of which stirs the imagination with sweet airs, and sets them rustling, conjures up the reapers in the field--the "sunburnt sickle-men of Shakespeare's time, the scythe bearers of our own-heaps the oscillating wagon with crops undreamed of in his merry England, and lands it on the thrashing floor, where steam supplies the labour of the flail, and the work of months is done in hours—builds up the topling picturesque old mill, wrestling for ever with the winds upon the weird bit of sour treeless moorland, or the formal many-windowed modern flour mill, with farina dusted walls, and the never ceasing dash and beat and vibration of its great revolving wheel. Bears us to the mart, transports us across the seas, wherever nations find markets for the surplus of their produce; and thus every case contains not the simple story of the growth and purpose of the object exemplified, but the history of nations and of men.
Ranking next to the cereals in order of importance we have the seeds of leguminous plants, the peas, beans, haricots, and lentils of commeree, the last affording the costly food advertised as “revalenta,” the virtues of which date from Scriptural time, and appear to have been first endorsed by Essau, but like haricots they are as yet far from being generally appreciated amongst us, though the latter in their green state is one of the most popular vegetables ; in France on the contrary, and by other continental people they are greatly esteemed, and afford a cheap and highly nutritions article of food. Even the lupin figures in the pulse group, and is used in Italy and elsewhere as peas and beans are with us; however Virgil speaks of the plant as tristes lupinus, becanse when eaten without preparation, to destroy the bitterness of the seeds, it gave a rueful expression to the countenance a proof that however much the ancients prided themselves on the simplicity of their fare, they themselves occasionally made wry faces at it.
In addition to these specimens of vegetable food, with their varieties and preparations, we find them preserved by compression, and otherwise adapted for long voyages and winter use. One of the most tempting cases