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From Quizzism and Its Key. Quirks and Quibbles from Queer Quarters. A Mélange of Questions in Literature, Science, History, Biography, Mythology, Philology, Geography, etc. etc. With Their Answers, by Albert P. Southwick, A. M.; New England Publishing Company, Boston; 1886; pp. 39-64.



Part III

122. Where is “Old Donation”?

In the county of Princess Anne, Virginia, near the Lynnhaven river is situated a colonial church known as the “Old Donation.” It is fast falling to ruins; a modern structure, erected a few miles off, has superseded this hallowed fane, and it now stands, away from the public road, in lonely desolation, forsaken by all save those whose kindred sleep in the shadow of its walls; or the curious traveller occasionally seen lingering among its tombs, or waking, by his solitary footfall, the echoes of its deserted aisles.

123. When was the Grasshopper War?

It occurred about the time the Pilgrims came to New England in the Mayflower (1620), between two Indian tribes, and arose in this way: An Indian woman, with her little son, went to visit a friend belonging to another tribe. The little boy caught a large grasshopper on the road and carried it with him. A boy from the other tribe wanted it, but he would not surrender his prize. A quarrel ensued, which soon drew the fathers and mothers into the dispute, and before long the chiefs were engaged in a war which nearly exterminated one tribe.

124. What was the name of the first ship built in America?

Adrian Block built the first ship at Manhattan Island in 1613. She was called the Restless. In her, he sailed through Long Island Sound and discovered Block Island.

125. Who made the first American flag?

The flag of the United States, known as the "Stars and Stripes," was formally adopted by resolution of Congress, 40 passed June 14, 1777. A committee of Congress calling on a Mrs. Ross, who lived in a house No. 239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, asked her if she could make a flag according to a plan they would produce. Consenting, the design for a flag of thirteen red and white stripes, alternate, with a union, blue in the field, spangled with thirteen six-pointed stars, was sent her. She suggested that the stars should be made with five points, to which the committee agreed. With the aid of the young women of her shop she completed the flag so that it was ready for the approval of Congress the next day.

126. What is an “ossuary”?

A place where the bones of the dead are deposited. An ossuary has been erected and inaugurated to the memory of the French, Italian, and Austrian soldiers who fell upon the battle-field of Montebello in 1859. The inaugural ceremony was witnessed by more than twenty thousand persons.

127. What General lost his life by his devotion to the game of chess?

On the day preceding the night on which General Washington had determined to cross the Delaware (December 25, 1776) and attack the British in Trenton, an Englishman in the neighborhood despatched his son with a note to General Rahl, to warn him of the approaching danger. The General, being deeply absorbed in a game of chess when the note was presented, without withdrawing his attention from the game, thoughtlessly put the note into his vest pocket. After the battle next day, when the Hessian commander, mortally wounded, was brought into the house of Stacey Potts, the note was found unread in his pocket.


128. Where are the Falls of Kartern?

In British Guiana; they have a "plunge" of seven hundred and forty-one feet, and are four hundred feet wide.

129. What is an “atmosphere”?

A pressure of fifteen pounds to the square inch, or, to be more exact, fourteen and seven-tenths pounds.

130. Why do soap-bubbles rise?

On account of the warm breath.

131. Where is the Land of Mud?

This is the name given to British Guiana, South America, owing to its extensive alluvial formation. It is sixty times the size of Maryland.

132. Who wrote “Maryland, my Maryland”?

James R. Randall. The song, consisting of nine verses, first appeared in The Southern Literary Messenger. Dr. G. W. Bagby, Editor, in January, 1862. Published in Richmond, Virginia, by Macfarlane and Fergusson. This interesting magazine, few copies of which are still in existence, was continued nearly up to the end of the war.

133. What became of the two Spartans that did not fight at Thermopylæ?

Returning home to Sparta (480 B. C.), they were met with jeers of derision and contempt. One of them, Panites, unable to stand the complete ostracism to which they were subjected, committed suicide; but the other, Aristodemus, remained passive, and under Pausanias, at the battle of 42 Platæa (479 B. C.), redeemed his name by acts of the greatest bravery. They had been excused by Leonidas, on the plea of sore eyes, from remaining at the Pass with the immortal three hundred. Only 298 Spartans were slain.

134. How did Xerxes count his vast army?

By enclosing them in pens. A square of soldiers, one hundred men deep, was first formed, and then stakes driven round them. The vast army, by detail, was marched in and out of this pen one hundred and eighty times, giving their commander an enumeration of his “host” amounting to one million, eight hundred thousand men. Authorities differ, however, regarding the number. The account of Herodotus is indefinite as to the whole force of Xerxes. By taking the sum of his reports, he seems to give of foot, 1,700,000; horse, 80,000; with war chariots and camels, 20,000; naval force, 517,610, making a grand total of 2,317,610 men that passed to Doriscus; but reinforcements from Thracians, etc., swelled the number, as inferred from Herodotus, to 2,641,610 fighting men, before he reached Thermopylæ. The attendants, slaves, crews of provision-ships, etc., according to the suppostion of Herodotus, exceeded the fighting men, and hence the number of male persons at the noted Pass is estimated from the data of this “Father of History,” by Dr. Smith and by Professor Felton, to be fully 5,283,220.

135. When was the year of “great babies”?

The year 1769, noted for the birth of Napoleon; Wellington; Francis Accum, chemist; Bessières, duc d’Istria, one of Napoleon’s best generals (died 1813); Bourrienne, secretary and biographer of Napoleon; Brunel, architect of first theatre in New York, and of the Thames Tunnel (died 1849); 43 Châteaubriand, author (died 1848); Governor De Witt Clinton, of New York (died 1828); Cuvier, naturalist (died 1832); Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, R. N. (died 1839); Alexander Von Humboldt, physicist (died 1860); Count Lavalette, state counsellor (died 1830); Judge Lowell, founder of Boston Athenæum; Memed Ali, pasha of Egypt (died 1848); Marshal Ney; William Owen, naturalist (died 1825); Picard, French dramatist (died 1828); Marshal Soult; Lord Castlereagh (died 1822); Tallien, French statesman. These are twenty of the best names selected from a list of noted men born in this year.

136. What is the simplest pocket rule?

The “change” you may have in your pocket, as the silver quarter measures three fourths of an inch in diameter; the half dollar one inch, and the “dollar of our daddies” one inch and a half.

137. When did an eclipse of the moon cause the defeat of an army?

The Athenians were defeated at Syracuse in the year 413 (August 27) B. C. Nicias, the commander, was preparing to withdraw his forces when the eclipse occurred, and considering it an omen, he consulted the soothsayers, who said the army must wait three times nine days. This delay was the cause of their destruction.

138. When was Adam born?

By an Act of the English Parliament, October 23, 4004 B. C. was declared the natal day of the earth. As Adam was created on the fifth day after, he must have been born October 28, 4004 B. C.


139. What is the oldest republic in the world?

San Marino, in Italy, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It is, next to Monaco, the smallest state in Europe. The exact date of the establishment of this republic is not known, but according to tradition, it was in the fourth century, by Marinus, a Dalmatian hermit, and has ever since remained independent. It is mountainous, and contains four or five villages. The word LIBERTY is inscribed on its capitol.

140. Where is the key of the Bastile?

Hanging in the entrance hall of Mount Vernon is the key, sent to Washington by Lafayette soon after the destruction of that noted stronghold by the Paris mob, on July 14, 1789.

141. When was the first naval battle?

That of Salamis, fought 480 B. C. In this battle the Halicarnassian queen, Artemesia, commanded a vessel and, pursued by a Greek ship, used her famous stratagem of attacking and sinking a vessel of the Carian prince (though probably by mistake). Xerxes thinking she had sunk a vessel of the Greeks, exclaimed: “My men are become women; my women, men!” There had been a few “skirmishes” of ships before, but the first naval battle proper was that of Salamis.

142. Who was Eucles?

The “runner” from the plains of Marathon, who brought the news of the successful issue of that battle to the anxious Senate waiting at Athens, and crying, “Χἄιπετε!   χἄιπομεν” (“Rejoice! [for] we rejoice!”), fell dead at their feet.

143. What is the oldest poem in existence?

The Song of Miriam. See Exodus xv. 21. “And Miriam 45 answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”

144. What was Bibliomancy?

Divination by the Bible, which became so common in the fifth century that several councils were obliged expressly to forbid it, as injurious to religion and savoring of idolatry. These “Sacred Lots” consisted in suddenly opening, or dipping into, the Bible, and regarding the passage that first presented itself to the eye as predicting the future lot of the inquirer.

145. What is the origin of texts?

The custom of taking a text as the basis of a sermon originated with Ezra, who, we are told, accompanied by several Levites in a public congregation of men and women, ascended a pulpit, opened the book of the law, and after addressing a prayer to the Deity, to which the people said Amen, “read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” (Neh. viii. 8.)

146. What is the origin of the saying, “Mind your Ps and Qs”?

In ale-houses, in the olden time, when chalk “scores” were marked upon the wall, or behind the door of the tap-room, it was customary to put the initials “P” and “Q” at the head of every man’s account, to show the number of “pints” and “quarts” for which he was in arrears; and we may presume many a friendly rustic to have tapped his neighbor on the shoulder, when he was indulging too freely in his potations, and to have exclaimed, as he pointed to the 46 chalk score, “Mind your Ps and Qs, man!” Other explanations are given of the origin of this phrase, however; one writer supposing that it came from “Mind your toupées and your queues,” the “toupée” being the artificial locks of hair on the head, and the “queue” the pigtail of olden time. Charles Knight thinks it was derived from the schoolroom or the printing-office, as the forms of the small “p” and “q,” in the Roman type, have always been puzzling to the child and the printer’s apprentice from the fact that in one the downward stroke is on the left of the oval, and in the other on the right; this, then, is a literal signification.

147. When were playing-cards invented?

About the year 1390, to divert Charles IV., then king of France, who had fallen into a melancholy mood. About this time is found in the account-book of the king’s cofferer the following charge: “Paid for a pack of painted leaves bought for the king’s amusement, three livres.”

148. Who is the author of —

“For he that fights and runs away
 May live to fight another day?”

These lines used by Goldsmith (1728*-1744), generally supposed to form a part of Hudibras, are to be found in the Musarum Deliciæ, 1656 — a clever collection of “witty trifles,” by Sir John Mennis and Dr. James Smith. The passage, as it really stands in Hudibras (book iii, canto iii, verse 243), is as follows: —

“For those that fly may fight again
 Which he can never do that ’s slain.”

An earlier authority may be found in the Apopthegmes of 47 Nicholas Udall, 1542. On folio 239, occurs the following: —

“That same man, that renneth awaie,
Maie again fight, another daie.”

A similar expression is found in much older writers. Menage observes, in speaking of Monsieur Perier’s abuse of Horace for running away from the battle of Philippi, “Relictâ non bene parmula,” “Mais je le pardonne, parce qu’il ne sait peut-être pas que les Grecs ont dit en faveur des Fuiars.”

*  Determined.

149. When did women vote?

Single women who were freeholders voted in the State of New Jersey as late as the year 1800. In a newspaper of that date is a complimentary editorial to the female voters for having unanimously supported John Adams (the defeated candidate) for President of the United States, in opposition to Thomas Jefferson, who was denounced as wanting in religion.

150. What was the origin of the expression, “sub rosa”?

A great many explanations are given: —

I. “The expression ‘under the rose’ took its origin,” says Jenoway, “from the wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster. The parties respectively swore by the red or the white rose, and these opposite emblems were displayed as the signs of two taverns; one of which was by the side of, and the other opposite to, the Parliament House in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Here the retainers and servants of the noblemen attached to the Duke of York and Henry VI. used to meet. Here, also, as disturbances were frequent, measures either of defence or annoyance were taken, and every transaction was said to be done 48 ‘under the rose’; by which expression the most profound secrecy was implied.”

II. According to others, this term originated in the fable of Cupid giving the rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence, as a bribe to prevent him betraying the amours of Venus, and was hence adopted as the emblem of silence. The rose was for this reason frequently sculptured on the ceilings of drinking and feasting rooms, as a warning to the guests that what was said in moments of conviviality should not be repeated; from which, what was intended to be kept secret was said to be held “under the rose.”

III. Roses were consecrated as presents from the Pope. In 1526 they were placed over the goals of confessionals as the symbols of secrecy. Hence the origin of the phrase “under the rose.”

IV. The origin of the phrase under the rose implies secrecy, and had its origin during the year 477 B. C., at which time Pausanias, the commander of the confederate fleet of the Spartans and Athenians, was engaged in an intrigue with Xerxes for the subjugation of Greece to the Persian rule, and for the hand of the monarch’s daughter in marriage. Their negotiations were carried on in a building attached to the Temple of Minerva, called the Brazen House, the roof of which was a garden forming a bower of roses; so that the plot, which was conducted with the utmost secrecy, was literally matured under the rose. Pausanias, however, was betrayed by one of his emissaries, who, by a preconcerted plan with the ephori (the overseers and counsellors of state, five in number), gave them a secret opportunity to hear from the lips of Pausanias himself the acknowledgment of his treason. To escape arrest, he fled to the Temple of Minerva, and, as the sanctity of the place forbade intrusion for violence or harm of any kind, the people walled up the edifice with stones, and left him to die of starvation. His own mother laid the first stone.


It was customary among the ancient Germans, on occasions of festivity, to suspend a rose from the ceiling above the table, as a symbol that whatever was said during the feast by those present would be kept a secret among themselves.

151. When were umbrellas first used?

Thomas Coryat in his Crudities, vol. i, p. 134, relates a curious notice of the early use of the umbrella in Italy. References are made to this useful article in English works of 1617 and 1674, but it was probably a curiosity as late as the middle of the eighteenth century. Its use is mentioned in Paris, in a letter written by General Wolfe from there, in 1752. The introduction of this article of convenience is attributed to Jonas Hanway (died 1786), the Eastern traveller, who, on his return to his native land, rendered himself justly celebrated by his practical benevolence.

152. When was the polka first danced?

The description of the lavolta in Sir John Davies’s poem on dancing, The Orchestra (1596), shows that it must have closely resembled the dance which we fondly boast is one of the great inventions of the nineteenth century.

153. What was “the petition of the sixteen maids”?

One presented to the Governor of the Province of South Carolina, by sixteen maids of Charleston, on March 1, 1733-4, “the day of the feast.” It was as follows: —

To His Excellency Governor Johnson.

The humble petition of all the Maids who names are underwritten: —


Whereas we, the humble petitioners, are at present in a very melancholy disposition of mind, considering how all the bachelors are blindly captivated by widows, and our more youthful charms thereby neglected; the consequence of this, our request, is, that your Excellency will for the future order that no widow shall presume to marry any young man till the maids are provided for; or else to pay each of them a fine for satisfaction, for invading our liberties; and likewise a fine to be laid on all such bachelors as shall be married to widows, etc.

154. What is the letter A?

The outline of an ox’s head, the two legs being the two horns. It is called in Hebrew aleph (an ox).

155. What was the first use of the expression “Almighty Dollar”?

Washington Irving (1789-1859) first made use of this expression, in his sketch of a Creole Village (1837).

156. Where did Newton see the apple fall?

The tree from which the apple fell that gave Newton (1642-1727) the hint about gravitation, stood in the garden of Mrs. Conduitt, at Woolsthorpe, England.

157. Who was the “Old Man of the Mountains”?

Hassan, Subah of Nishapour, the leader of the Assassins, was so called because he made Mount Lebanon his stronghold. This band was the terror of the world for two centuries, when it was crushed by Sultan Bibaris — A. D. 1090.


158. Where is Avernus?

A lake in Campania, so called from the belief that its sulphurous and mephitic vapors killed any bird that happened to inhale them — the word means in Greek “without birds.” Poets call it the entrance to the infernal regions; hence the proverb “Facilis decensus Averni,” etc.

159. What is a “baker’s dozen”?

Thirteen for twelve. When a heavy penalty was inflicted for short weight, bakers used to give a surplus number of loaves, called the inbread, to avoid all risk of incurring the fine.

160. Is it true that “barking dogs never bite”?

Dogs in their wild state never bark; they howl, whine, and growl, but do not bark. Barking is an acquired habit, and as only domesticated dogs bark, this effort of a dog to speak is no indication of a savage temper.

161. When was the “Battle of the Spurs”?

In 1302, when the allied citizens of Ghent and Bruges won a famous victory over the chivalry of France under the walls of Courtray. After the battle more than seven hundred gilt spurs (worn by French nobles) were gathered from the field. In English history, however, the battle of Guinegate (1513) is so called “because the French spurred their horses to flight almost as soon as they came in sight of the English troops.”

162. What was the “Battle of the Herrings”?

A sortie made by the men of Orleans, in 1428, during the siege of their city, for the purpose of intercepting a supply of salt herrings sent to the besiegers.


163. When was Black Monday?

Easter Monday, April 14, 1360, when Edward III., with his army, was lying before Paris, and the day was so dark with mist and hail, so bitterly cold and so windy, that many of his men and horses died. In allusion to this fatal day, the Monday after Easter holidays, is called “Black Monday.”

164. What was Black Thursday?

The day on which a terrible bush-fire occurred in the colony of Victoria, February 6, 1851.

165. When was Black Saturday?

On the fourth of August, 1621. It is thus called in Scotland, because a violent storm occurred at the time Parliament was sitting to enforce episcopacy upon the people.

166. Who was “killed by kindness”?

Draco, the Athenian legislator, is said to have met with his death from his popularity, being smothered in the theatre of Ægina by the number of caps and cloaks showered on him by the spectators, in the year 590 B. C.

167. How did the word “blarney” originate?

From the historical fact that Cormuck Macarthy held the castle of Blarney in 1602, and concluded an armistice with Carew, the Lord-President, on condition of surrendering the fort to the English garrison. Day after day his Lordship looked for the fulfilment of the terms, but received nothing except protocols and soft speeches, till he became the laughing stock of Elizabeth’s ministers and the dupe of the Lord of Blarney. The Blarney Stone is triangular, lowered 53 from the north angle of the castle, about twenty feet from the top, and he who kisses the stone is able to persuade to anything.

168. Who were the three kings of Cologne*?

They were the representatives of the three magi who came from the East to offer gifts to the infant Jesus. Tradition makes them Eastern kings, and at Cologne the names ascribed to them are Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.

*  [Elf.Ed. This was a well-known phrase before the 20th century. See this episode in history related for general readers in the Victorian era, in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.]

169. What is the origin of kissing the Pope’s toe?

Matthew of Westminster says that it was customary, formerly, to kiss the hand of his Holiness, but that a certain woman in the eighth century not only kissed the Pope’s hand, but “squeezed it.” Seeing the danger to which he was exposed, the church magnate cut off his hand, and was compelled in future to offer his foot, which custom has continued to the present hour. And it is also believed by many that the hand cut off so many years ago is yet on exhibition at Rome, preserved in its original state of flesh and blood, free from corruption, and that it proves a miracle. Whenever the ceremony of kissing the toe takes place now, it is said his Holiness wears for the occasion a slipper with a cross worked in silk upon the place occupied by the toe, which is kissed, and thus the holy foot is saved from contamination.

170. What is the origin of the expression “knock under”?

Three explanations are given, as follows: That it arose from a custom once common of knocking under the table 54 when any guest wished to acknowledge himself beaten in argument. That the derivation is “knuckle under,” that is, to knuckle or bend the knuckle or knee in proof of submission. Bellenden Kerr say it is “Te no’ck ander,” which he interprets “I am forced to yield.”

171. What are Kufic coins?

They are Mahometan coins with Kufic or Ancient Arabic characters. The first were struck in the eighteenth year of the Hegira (A. D. 638).

172. How did the word “grog” originate?

Jack loves to give a pet nickname to his favorite officers. The gallant Edward Vernon (a Westminster man by birth) was not exempted from the general rule. His gallantry and ardent devotion to his profession endeared him to the service, In bad weather he was in the habit of walking the deck in a rough “grogram” cloak and thence had obtained the nickname of “Old Grog.” While in command of the West India station, and at the height of his popularity on account of his reduction of Porto Bello with six men-of-war only, he introduced the use of rum-and-water by the ship’s company. When served out, the new beverage proved most palatable, and speedily grew into such favor that it became as popular as the brave Admiral himself, and in honor of him was surnamed by acclamation “Grog.”

173. What became of the remains of King James II. of England?

The following curious account was given in 1840, by Mr. Fitzsimmons, an Irish gentleman upward of eighty years of age, who taught French and English at Toulouse and claimed to be a runaway monk: —


“I was a prisoner in Paris, in the convent of the English Benedictines in the Rue St. Jaques, during part of the Revolution. In the year 1793 or 1794, the body of King James II. of England (died 1701) was in one of the chapels there, where it had been deposited some time, under the expectation that it would one day be sent to England for interment in Westminster Abbey. It had never been buried. The body was in a wooden coffin, inclosed in a leaden one; and that again inclosed in a second wooded one, covered with black velvet. That while I was so a prisoner the sans-culottes broke open the coffins to get at the lead to cast into bullets. The body lay exposed nearly a whole day. It was swaddled like a mummy, bound tight with garters. The sans-culottes took out the body, which had been embalmed. There was a strong smell of vinegar and camphor. The corpse was beautiful and perfect. The hands and nails were very fine. I moved and bent every finger. I never saw so fine a set of teeth in my life. A young lady, a fellow prisoner, wished much to have a tooth; I tried to get one out for her, but could not, they were so firmly fixed. The feet also were very beautiful. The face and cheeks were just as if he were alive. I rolled his eyes; the eye-balls were perfectly firm under my finger. The French and English prisoners gave money to the sans-culottes for showing the body. They said he was a good sans-culotte, and they were going to put him into a hole in the public churchyard like other sans-culottes; and he was carried away, but where the body was thrown I never heard. King George IV. tried all in his power to get tidings of the body, but could not. Around the chapel were several wax moulds of the face hung up, made probably at the time of the king’s death, and the corpse was very like them. The body had been originally kept at the palace of St. Germain, from whence it was brought to the convent of the Benedictines.”


174. What was the Ear of Dionysius?

A prison cave near Syracuse, Italy, so constructed that a whisper at the further end of the cavern is easily heard by a person at the entrance, though the distance is two hundred feel. Tradition says that the Tyrant of Syracuse used this as a dungeon, and was thus enabled to listen to the conversation of his unfortunate prisoners.

175. Who killed Tecumseh?

Colonel Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, afterward Vice-President of the United States, was popularly called the “Tecumseh killer,” but the fact was never fully proved. Tecumseh was killed in the battle of the Thames (Ontario), October 5, 1813. He was one of three brothers at the same birth, one of whom, Elskwatara, became famous as the “Prophet.” They were born near Chillicothe, Ohio, on the banks of the Scioto river, about 1770. There have been several claimants for the fame of having slain the dreaded Shawnee chief, notably Abram Scribner, who came to Darke County, Ohio, in 1811, and served as a private in Colonel Johnson’s Regiment.

176. When was Black Friday?

The original Black Friday was December 6, 1745, when the Londoners heard that the Pretender had reached Derby. His adherents made their last fight to restore the Stuarts at Culloden in 1746. This was the last battle that has been fought in Great Britain. The term Black Friday has been given to an eventful day among stock and money speculators in New York, when a few gained what many lost. The crisis was due to the gold speculations of “Jim” Fisk on September, 24, 1869.

Friday, September 19, 1873 (the day following the suspension 57 of Jay Cooke & Co.), when there were many failures in the business circles of New York City, is by some called a Black Friday.

177. What English King held the stirrup for a Pope of Rome to mount his horse?

Henry II. of England (1154-1189), in 1161, held the stirrup for Pope Alexander III. to mount his horse. It was at the Castle of Torci on the Loire. Louis VII., King of France, held the reins with Henry II., and both walked, leading the horse for the Pope to ride to the castle.

178. When was the game of chess invented?

This game was invented, according to some authorities, by Palamedes, 680 B. C., but Oriental scholars say it is an Indian invention, and was played by the Hindoos, five thousand years ago.

179. What is the familiar story of Sysla and a king?

It is the old story under different names, disguises, and conditions, which simply represents a good problem in geometrical progression, of placing one grain of wheat upon the first square of the chess-board, and doubling the amount upon the squares successively to the sixty-fourth. Lucas de Burgo, who has solved this question, makes the number to be 18,446,744,073,709,557,615.

180. Who drove the last spike at the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad?

Ex-Governor Leland Stanford, President of the Central Pacific, of California. He is a native of Albany County, New York, born March 9, 1824, of English descent. He was 58 the fourth of eleven sons, and his father was a farmer. He served successfully a term of Governorship in California, and shoveled the first earth for the C. P. R. R., February 22, 1863; and, at noon on May 10, 1869, drove the golden spike, with a solid silver hammer, into a beautiful laurel tie, which was decorated with silver plates suitably inscribed.

181. What are the seven Bibles?

The seven Bibles of the world are the Koran of the Mohammedans, the Tri Petikes of the Buddhists, the Five Kings of the Chinese, the three Vedas of the Hindoos, the Eddas of the Scandinavians, the Zendevester (or Zend Avesta) of the Persians, and the Scriptures of the Christians. The Koran is the most recent of these, dating from about the middle of the seventh century.

182. What marks the boundary between the United States and Canada?

The northern boundary of our country is marked by cairns, iron pillars, earth mounds, and timber posts. A stone cairn is seven and a half by eight feet; an earth mound seven feet by fourteen feet; and iron pillar seven feet high, and timber posts five feet high. There are three hundred and eighty-five of these marks between the Lake of the Woods and the base of the Rocky Mountains. That portion of the boundary which lies east and west of Red River Valley is marked by cast-iron pillars, at even mile intervals. The British place one every two miles, and the United States one between each British post. Our pillars were made at Detroit. They are hollow iron castings, three eighths of an inch in thickness, in the form of a truncated pyramid, eight feet high, eight inches square at the bottom and four at the top. They have at the top a solid pyramidal cap, and at 59 the bottom an octagonal flange one inch thick. Upon the opposite faces are cast, in letters two inches high, the following inscriptions: “Convention of London,” and “October 20, 1818.” The inscriptions begin about four feet six inches above the base, and read upwards. The interior of the hollow posts is filled with well-seasoned cedar posts, sawed to fit, and securely spiked through spike-holes cast in the pillars for the purpose. Each pillar weighs eighty-five pounds. They are all set four feet in the ground, with their inscription-faces to the north and south. For the wooden posts, well-seasoned logs are selected, and the portion above the ground painted red, to prevent swelling and shrinking. These posts do very well, but the Indians cut them down for fuel, and nothing but iron will last very long. Where the line crosses lakes, mountains of stone have been built, the bases being in some places eighteen feet under water, and the tops projecting eight feet above the lake’s surface at high-water mark. In forests the line is marked by felling the lumber a rod wide, and clearing away the underbrush. The work of cutting through the swamps was very great, but it has been well done, and the boundary distinctly marked by the commissioners the whole distance from Michigan to Alaska.

183. Why does lightning turn milk sour?

Lightning causes the gases of the air to combine, and then produces a poison called nitric acid, some portion of which, mixing with the milk, turns it sour.

184. What spy swallowed the evidence of his guilt?

The Major Daniel Taylor to whom reference has been made in the answer to query 54. A solution of tartar emetic was prepared for him by order of the American 60 General Clinton,* which he at first refused to take, but being threatened with the dissecting-knife, reluctantly swallowed the dose, giving up evidence of his guilt. A second time he managed to swallow the bullet when the dose was repeated, and the spy soon afterwards executed.

*  The similarity of names of the English and American generals first misled the spy, and brought him into the patriot’s camp.

185. Where is the Raleigh Tavern?

It was located in Williamsburg, Virginia. In the ballroom, or “Hall of Apollo,” of this historic building, eighty-nine of the members of the Virginia Assembly (which had been dissolved by the Earl of Dunmore) met, and continued their legislative proceedings, just prior to the Revolution; and here Thomas Jefferson, Charles Lee, R. H. Lee, and others, in May, 1769, conferred upon the necessity of a permanent separation from the Mother Country.

186. What people regard Friday as a lucky day? Why?

The Spaniards. Columbus sailed from Palos on Friday, August 3, 1492; the discovery of a New World was made on the same day, October 12, 1492; and many of their noted and principal victories have been gained on this day of ill-omen. On Friday, the fourth day of January, 1493, Columbus started on his return to Spain, to announce to their Catholic Majesties the glorious result of their expedition, and on Friday, the fifteenth of March, 1493, he disembarked in Andalusia. He discovered the American continent on Friday, the thirteenth of June, 1498. Americans might, however, regard the day as one of good luck, as many felicitous and happy events in our history hold this as their natal day. On Friday, March 5, 1497, Henry VII. of England 61 gave to John Cabot his dispatch for the voyage which resulted in the discovery of the continent of North America. On Friday, September 6, 1565, Melendez founded St. Augustine, the oldest town in the United States. On Friday, November 10, 1620, the Mayflower first disembarked a few emigrants on American soil at Provincetown; and on Friday, December 22, 1620, her passengers finally landed at Plymouth Rock. It was on Friday, February 22, 1732, that George Washington was born. The union of the colonies was made on Friday, May 20, 1775. It was on Friday, June 17, 1775, that the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, and on Friday, October 17, 1777, that the surrender at Saratoga took place, which event resulted in our acknowledgment as a nation by France, and the offer of material aid and encouragement from our Gallic neighbor. On Friday the treason of Arnold was discovered; the surrender of Yorkstown, October 19, 1781, was on an ever-memorable Friday; and on Friday, June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee read the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress.

187. How did Cleopatra die?

She put an end to her life by the bite of an asp which was brought to her concealed in a basket of figs, August, 30 B. C. She was the daughter of Ptolemy Auletus, after whose death she became associated with her younger brother, Ptolemy, in the crown of Egypt. About the age of seventeen, she captivated Cæsar by her charms (she being very beautiful), who caused her to be made sole sovereign of Egypt. Her next victim, after Cæsar’s death, was Mark Antony. He put away his wife Octavia, to live with her. After the terrible battle of Actium, 31 B. C., won by the conqueror, Augustus, she gave up all hopes of making terms, knowing him to be invincible to her fascinations.


188. What was the name of the Indian that shot King Philip?

The renegade traitor Alderman. Philip was killed August 12, 1676. An old Indian executioner, a bloodthirsty wretch, cut off the head of Philip and quartered him. Philip had one remarkable hand which was much scarred by the explosion of a pistol, and this was given to Alderman who preserved it in rum and carried it around the country as a show, “and accordingly,” says Captain Benjamin Church (1639-1718), “he got many a penny by it.”

189. Where are storks protected by law?

In Holland, where they feed on the frogs which breed in the pools and marshes, and preserve the dikes from the inroads of worms.

190. What city is built on five small islands?

Cariscrona, in the Baltic; it belongs to Sweden, and is the principal station of the Swedish navy. Stockholm is also built partly on islands, and intersected by numerous canals. The royal palace is on the highest and most central of the three islands in the original town, distinctively called “the city.” (Stad.)

191. What is the meaning of Bab-el-Mandeb?

“Gate of Tears”; so called from the dangers of its navigation.

192. Where is there a “floating town”?

In Bangkok, Siam. It is composed of bamboo rafts, arranged like streets, and each supporting several houses.


193. What is the highest fortress in the world?

Gibraltar; built on a peninsular rock, which rises to the height of fifteen hundred feet. It has belonged to Britain since 1704, and has stood three sieges, the last and most famous one being in 1782.

194. What body of water is nine times saltier than the ocean?

The Dead Sea, whose surface is 1,312 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. It occupies the site of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, and Zeboim.

195. Where was the temple of Jupiter Ammon?

In the oasis of Siwah, three hundred and twenty miles west of Cairo, where the ruins are still to be seen. This is where Alexander the Great desired to be buried; but Perdiccas, the general in command, to whom Alexander in his dying moments gave his signet-ring, refused to go farther than Alexandria.

196. What country is known as the “white man’s grave”?

Sierra Leone, which was founded in 1787, for the oppression of the slave trade. Owing to its unhealthy climate, the mortality among the white residents is unprecedentedly large.

197. Which is the nearest American town to Europe?

St. Johns, Newfoundland; being only about nineteen hundred and twenty miles from the coast of Ireland.


198. Where was Captain John Smith’s life saved by Pocahontas?

In Gloucester county, Virginia, at a place called Meronocomoco, or Werowacomoco. It is situated near Mobjack Bay, which is an inlet near the mouth of the York River.

199. When was the “Starving Time” in Virginia?

Early in the year 1619, the existing government had been set aside by the new charter, and the old colonists became hungry and quarrelsome. Smith did what he could to maintain order and to keep off destitution. Being injured by an explosion of powder, he was obliged to return to England to seek medical aid, and his departure left the colony almost without control. Hostilities with the Indians were renewed, famine followed, and in six months four hundred and ninety colonists were reduced to sixty. One man was put to death for killing and eating his wife; others fed on the corpses of the dead.

Part IV

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