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From Chambers' Journal.
ANY one who is at all familiar with the optical illusions and scenic effects which form a favorite portion of some of our public exhibitions, must be convinced that the art of producing these phenomena, with their various and mind-bewildering play of colors and change of character, has attained great perfection. But probably few persons are in the least degree acquainted with the manner in which the appearances they so much admire are produced. It will, therefore, be possibly an interesting subject to many, if we glance first at the optical phenomena themselves, and then proceed to explain the method of their production.
tion which he entitled the Phantasmagoria. It was a soul-appalling spectacle to those who had hitherto been ignorant of the wonders of light and shade! The spectatory was a room where no light but that of a dismal oil-lamp hanging in the centre was admitted. On the assembling of the audience, this lamp was drawn up into a chimney, and a pitchy gloom overspread the place. Presently the soft and mournful notes of sepulchral music were heard, and a curtain rose displaying a cavern, on the frowning walls of which were depicted the forms of skeletons and spectral figures. The music ceased; the rumbling of thunder was heard in the distance. Gradually it became louder, until at length vivid flashes of lightning, accompanied with peals apparently of the deep-toned organ of the skies, gave all the impressions of a tremendous storm. The thunder and lightning continued at their height, when suddenly a small cloud of light appeared in the air; it gradually increased in size, until at length it stood revealed a ghastly spectre, around whom the lightning gleamed in fearful reality. Its eyes moved agonizedly from side to side, or now turned up in the sunken eye-socket, the image of unutterable despair. Away, back to the dim abyss from whence it came, it was seen swiftly to retire, and finally vanished in a little cloud, the storm rolling away at the same time. Then came other phantasms, some of which rushed up with apparently amazing rapidity, approaching the spectators, and again as rapidly receding-to return clothed with flesh and blood, or in the form of some well
number of similar apparitions, the curtain fell, and the lamp was uncovered; the spectators departing with expressions of great astonishment at what had been seen. Such was the early introduction of the Phantasmagoria to the honors of a public exhibition.
The magical effects which owe their origin to the magic lantern, are those which will chiefly occupy our attention; and it will be found that the position of this ingenious instrument in the popular estimation is very far below that which it deserves to occupy. In fact, all those appearances which so much perplex, surprise, or please us in exhibitions of this kind, are entirely due to various ingenious contrivances appended to, or in connection with, this instrument, although this fact is but little known generally. This instrument, as now employed, is the same in principle as it was when first invented in the middle of the seventeenth century by the universal genius, Kircher; but in common with most other optical apparatus, it has largely benefited by the advance of mechanical and mathematical science, and is now constructed in a form apparently little capable of fur-known public personages! After a display of a ther improvement. Essentially, it consists in its improved form of a powerful source of light, of two double convex lenses which concentrate the rays, and direct them upon the picture placed in front of them; and of two other lenses which concentrate the rays after they have passed through the picture, and direct them on the disk where the image is beheld by the spectators. There is a little contrivance of some importance which has been added by Messrs. Carpenter and Westley of London to the extremity of the brass tube holding the second pair of lenses, by which some of the extreme rays are cut off, the effect of which is to give a great degree of distinctness to the depicted image, although with some sacrifice of illuminating power. This contrivance consists simply of a brass ring, and may be adopted or removed at pleasure. From this casual description of the instrument, it will be manifest that the various delusions and singularities of effect we are about to describe are referable not so much to any alteration effected by modern science in the principal instrument, as to the accessories of the exhibition. But let us admit the reader into the mysterious apartment, where science can bid to appear more and more strange phantasms than ever obeyed the summons of enchanter's wand.
And first about the Phantasmagoria. In 1802 a French gentleman, a M. Philipstal, astonished orowds of people in London by an optical exhibi
This variety of optical effect, although occasionally resorted to since that time, has only recently been reïntroduced at some of our public places of resort in more than its original power. In some of these exhibitions the effect on the mind is indescribable, and in a less enlightened age would be far from desirable; but all are now so well acquainted with the source of the awful and mysterious beings which appear to present themselves to the eye, that the exhibition simply creates wonder where it would formerly have excited superstition or alarm. Images of birds on the wing are introduced with great force; the bird is seen rapidly moving its pinions, apparently at a great distance, then swiftly approaching and increasing in size.
Motion is also given to its eyes; and when a particularly solemn-looking bird, like the owl, is selected, the effect is, to say the least, very remarkable. Scenes are now introduced in which a movement of figures is managed with great adroitness-a fiery snake, for example, may be seen winding its undulating body across some in-caverned pool. Then appears a fairy scene, where fountains are playing, and Cupids flying
about or shooting at a target, in whose centre-to ages accomplished. It requires of course some carry out the poetical idea—is a bleeding heart; little arrangements as to focus; and mechanical conor, through a narrow gorge, we catch a glimpse trivances for effecting this have been applied to the of a lake encamped round about by tall mountains; and behold! some Undine or water-spirit, with her attendant sprites, appears in a majestic chariot drawn by the most graceful of swans, whose long necks are elegantly bent into the waters every now and then! Again, a cloud of fire hangs in mid-air, enlarges, brightens, and rolls gradually aside, disclosing one of the mythological impersonations seated in the quadrijuga. A favorite concluding scene is a British oak. While the spectators are looking on, and listening to-of course" Rule Britannia," suddenly, in every bough, behold! a flight, a whole flight of sailorboys waving the Union Jack; the trunk opens, and out steps the sailor prince; presently the sailors in the branches take their flight, the prince once more is received into the mighty trunk, and the scene vanishes.
Some of the minor phantasmagoric displays descend to the ludicrous. The spectacle of an industrious cobbler, who heaves long-drawn gasps for breath, and busily plies his arms, is much admired among this series; and the knowing look of the eyes is wonderfully productive of merriment. The next scene is a view by the seaside, where a bathing woman is seen dipping a reluctant little girl into the rolling waters; smiths are seen hammering ferociously upon their anvils; shoe-blacks are giving exquisite lustre to boots; old men are breaking up stones, or bowing politely and unbonneting to draw forth the charities of cottage-door lingerers; the chameleon is well shown in all his versatility of tint; and roses, tulips, and other flowers, including cauliflower, blossom with Cupids, white and black, or other representations grotesque as unexpected. Perhaps the most extraordinary of them all is the feat of a man asleep in a bed, who swallows rats and mice by the dozen, and without awaking!
carriage of the lantern successfully. Sending up a balloon is well exhibited by this means; the balloon, at first swelled in all its vast proportions, presently becomes smaller and smaller until it is lost to sight; and by a little swaying of the lantern from side to side, the undulating character of its motion is well represented. By using two three, or even four lanterns in the hands of severa. clever assistants, a surprising degree of life can be given to the scene. One manages the flying Cupid; another the moving chariot; a third the fountain; and so on. By means of two lanterns, Fame may be made to descend from the skies and plant a laurel-wreath on a warrior or a statesman's brow. The opening of clouds is effected by drawing gently aside two slips of glass which cover the slider containing the picture; the figure behind thus seems to step out of the clouds. Movement is communicated to the figures in various ways; sometimes in the manner already described, by a separate lantern; more frequently by a double slider, one slider being painted black, with the exception of a clear space, through which the head or some one of the limbs is shown or obscured at pleasure; thus a cook carrying in a pig's head alternately loses and regains his own by moving the slider to and fro. The rolling about of spectral eyes is effected by painting them upon a slider which moves from side to side, the eyeballs showing through the eye-sockets of the image with singular effect. A water-wheel is set in motion by a double slider, on one of which the landscape is painted, on the other the wheel; and this one is moved round by a pinion-wheel working into a cogged rim. The reeling motion of a ship is given by a slider moved up and down by a lever. A little reflection will soon show the infinite number of movements which by these simple means may be effected. A very strange effect is sometimes produced by giving the lantern a sudden shake, when the images will seem as if seized with a cold shudder.
The explanation of these varied effects is very simple. The phantasmagoric displays are always shown upon a transparent screen; a broad piece of Nainzooks muslin wetted with water, and fixed Leaving, however, the chamber of scientific horin a convenient position, is better than any other rors and supernaturalities, let us advert briefly to contrivance whatever. The magic lantern, slightly the more recent and beautiful discovery, the Dismodified, is the instrument employed for develop-solving Views. Very few persons are, we believe, ing the images, and is thus managed :-it is at all aware of the means by which the exquisite either held in the hand or placed upon a little effects of these exhibitions are accomplished; yet railway; it is then brought close up to the screen, they are surprisingly simple. A country landthe light being shaded by the hand; and when scape, basking in the warm glow of a July sun, sufficiently near, the hand is removed, and there lies outspread before us; the fields are golden appears on the screen a little cloud of light with- with corn, the trees in full verdure clad, and the out any definite image depicted in it. The lan-water tumbles, half in play half at work, upon tern is then gently carried backwards, and there the over-shot wheel of the mill in the foreground. appears on the screen the gradually-enlarging A change comes o'er the spirit of the scene; the image of some spectre, or other object, which sky loses its warm and glowing tone; a cold, appears rapidly to approach the spectators. On bringing the lantern back again nearly up to the screen, the spectre seems to recede, and finally vanishes in the little cloud spoken of; thus is the astonishing effect of advancing and receding im
gray, ghastly look creeps over the picture; the air darkens; the babbling stream is stayed in icy bondage; the wheel has stopped, and icicles a foot long hang from its spokes and rim; the trees are leafless; the fields are brown and naked; the path
is covered with snow; and the flickerings of a its being set in motion by a wheel, the appearance roaring fire are seen through the cottage windows. on the screen of these moving dots of light is But, marvel of marvels! the sky grows thick and exactly that of snow-flakes falling. We have un lowering, and a few flakes of snow are seen to fall.derstood that the best effect is produced by drawPresently a thick shower of snow descends. The ing a piece of perforated paper slowly upwards in illusion is complete, and it requires some little the place where the sliders go. This principle self-recollection to form the conception that, after of causing the light from two lanterns to fall upon all, it is a mere picture we are looking upon. The the screen-the one producing the picture, the snow-storm passes over, the sky and air gently other introducing some fresh elements into its comresume their warmer aspect, leaves come on the position-is largely applicable for the developtrees, the snow melts away, the brook runs again, ment of other effects besides the falling of snow. and the wheel resumes its duties, for summer has By representing a Lapland scene with one lantern, returned! This sketch presents us with the lead- a beautiful resemblance of the Northern Lights, ing features of the Dissolving Views. Let us or aurora, can be thrown on the sky by means of now explain how the changes are brought about. the other lantern, and, when well managed, the To exhibit the Dissolving Views, two lanterns effect is most extraordinary. Lightning or a rainof equal size, and placed on the same platform, are bow is thrown on the scene by the same means. necessary. In the one we will suppose the sum- The flickering fiery glow of a volcano, or a ship mer scene; in the other the same scene, but in its on fire, is managed by quickly moving the fingers, winter dress. Now, immediately in front of the so as alternately to intercept and give passage to brass tubes of both lanterns is a circular disk of the rays streaming from the tube; this appearjapanned tin, in which a crescentic slit is perfo-ance, too, is very singular and real. rated half round near the rim. This disk is made A word now about the Chromatrope—literally, to revolve on an axis which passes between the two the color-turner. The image on the screen prolanterns, and is moved by a little handle behind. duced by this instrument may be described for those The rays of light proceed through the slit on to who have not seen it as strongly resembling that the screen, but only allow those of one lantern to presented to the eye by the kaleidoscope. A mixed, do so at one time, the tube of the other being moving multitude of colors, vying in lustre with the shaded by the imperforate part of the disk. The precious stones, are seen whirling together, threadrays of the summer scene are now pouring through ing in and out; now, as it were, blown from a this slit, while those of winter are obscured by the trumpet-mouth, now pouring back into the same, other part of the disk. The lanterns being prop- and in their revolutions producing a variety and erly arranged, so as to cast their images on pre- perplexity of patterns which would weary even the cisely the same place on the screen, the exhibition eyes of a manufacturer to gaze upon. These results begins. Summer is shown for a little time; then are produced by means of compound sliders, two or by means of the little handle the disk is very three in one. Two of these are movable, the third gently turned round, and thus while, from the is often fixed. They are painted variously in decrescent shape of the slit, the rays of one lantern signs of different colors, consisting generally of are gradually cut off, those of the other are at the some combination of circles or other mathematical same time gradually allowed to fall on the screen, figures; all the portion of the glass containing no until the disk is turned quite round; and now the figure is painted black. The movable glasses are tube through which summer shone is obscured, turned in different directions by a handle attached while the colder light of winter from the other to the slider, and the result is the complicated play tube streams through the slit in the disk. The of colors and forms which is depicted on the screen. effect to the beholder is the gradual and imper- A somewhat similar but more varied effect was ceptible transition of the one scene into the other. produced soon after the invention of the kaleidoIf the reader will be so kind as to suppose that his scope by Sir D. Brewster, by adapting that beautitwo eyes represented the magic lanterns, and will ful instrument to the magic lantern, and was exhibclose one eye first, and then gently lift the lid while ited by a celebrated chemical lecturer to his class. he shuts down that of the other, he will obtain a But the present is the simplest form, and in the perfect idea of the dissolving mechanism. The beauty of its images leaves little to be desired. plan of the perforated disk, which, as being the Two lanterns are commonly employed in its exhimost gradual, is the most perfect, is the plan ob-bition, so as to avoid any stoppage of the performserved in the instruments we have seen of Messrs. ance. The appearance of a fountain casting up Carpenter and Westley's make; but there are other water is managed by a variety of the same conand simpler means of effecting the same object, trivance as the chromatrope. The introduction of the principle remaining in every instance the this variety of optical image is recent. same; namely, the gradual blinding of one lantern, and unblinding of another. To produce the falling of the snow, a slider is introduced upon the previously blinded side, a cap is unscrewed off the disk, and so both tubes shed their light on the screen. The slider is painted black, with little dots scraped out to represent snow-flakes; and on CCLXXXVII. LIVING AGE. VOL. XXIII.
The exhibitions which have received the fantas tic titles-the Opaque Microscope and the Physioscope, are very pleasing of their kind, and may be readily made intelligible to the reader. By the contrivance entitled the opaque microscope, the images of medallions, bas-reliefs, Paris-plaster casts, and other opaque objects, are thrown on the screen,
and produce a singular raised effect. The surface | moderate size, and through it is seen a large painting representing some scene or celebrated locality. The light is thrown upon this picture from above, through ground-glass; and arrangements exist, by means of shutters and blinds, to modulate the tone of the light cast upon the picture, so as to imitate with the nicest accuracy the natural effects of light and shadow. Some parts of the painting are transparent, permitting light from behind to be employed with great effect, where a chapel or such-like scene is to be lit up at night. By having two pictures, the spectators are insensibly carried round to behold first one, and then the other. In some large continental dioramas several pictures are employed. Few who have witnessed the changes represented in a well-managed dioramic exhibition, would believe that the whole art consisted, as we have seen, in a skilful manner of operating with light.
of these objects is very highly polished, and they are introduced within the body of the lantern; a strong light there falling upon them in a particular position is reflected from their surface on to a concave mirror, and thence through the lenses of the tube of the lantern on to the screen; thus the image is produced. The physioscope is apparently a modification of Sir D. Brewster's contrivance for the exhibition of what he calls the catadioptrical phantasmagoria. The visitors to the Royal Polytechnic Institution used nightly to be diverted by beholding a benevolent old gentleman's half-figure in gigantic proportions upon the screen. For their amusement this old gentleman used to drink wine, eat buns, gape and sneeze, all of course in the most life-like manner; and generally finished the exhibition by standing gradually up, and revealing a stature as tall as any of the monsters commemorated in fable or in song. This really remarkable exhibition is produced in the following manner :-In an apartment out of sight of the spectators are a large concave mirror, a powerful light, and the person whose figure is to be thrown on the screen. He is so placed that the rays of light reflected by his person are received by the mirror, and, collected by it, are reflected through a lens, and then directed on to the screen, where they appear in the form of a gigantic image. Other objects may be effectively exhibited by the same means; and some singular and startling effects are capable of being produced, such as the decapitation of a warrior, and restoring his head again, and such-like, by intercepting a part of the reflected rays from the mirror by means of a prism. In this, as indeed in all the other exhibitions, everything depends on the power of the artificial light; and the oxyhydrogen lime-light is the best for this purpose. The electric light, could it be made steady and permanent, would prove valuable. In exhibiting the human face, the glare has the disagreeable result of causing the eyes to blink, and thus in some measure interfere with the perfection of the image.
Before concluding this article, we may be allowed to express pleasure at the rational amusement which may be afforded by means of the simple instrumentality here variously described, in addition to the lighter diversions also spoken of. The various sciences of astronomy, natural history, meteorology, botany, anatomy, geography-are all capable of the most beautiful illustration by the same means as, when amusement is the object, will develop all the phenomena of the phantasmagoria and dissolving views. Need we repeat it? This is simply the magic lantern fitted with the appliances of modern science. Well is it for our age that the powers conferred by science on man are no longer, as formerly, prostituted to enslave the mind in the bondage of heathen ignorance and superstitions. Far from feeling terror, even a child would now laugh at what once made the stoutest heart quail in the courts of Grecian and Roman temples-the apparition of the so-called "divinity" on the wall of the building, or amid the fires of the sacrificial rites. There is every reason to believe that to ends base as these, as dishonoring to the Former of all things, as enslaving to the minds of the people, were the interesting phenomena of light and shade, of which we have here spoken, once, and for a protracted period, made subservient. The optical magic of our age, we may thankfully say, sets up no claim to the supernatural.
The last marvel of our modern optical magicians that we shall notice is the Diorama. This beautiful method of exhibiting optical effects, is, we believe, the invention of M. Daguerre and another gentleman. In the production of a life-like impression on the eye, this diorama is unequalled by any [WHY PREACHING IS INEFFECTUAL.] other contrivance; it is nature itself. All the accidents of the landscape-sudden gleams of sunshine, WRITING from Paris, (March 10, 1766,) Horace the passage of a cloud, the dim, diffusive light of Walpole mentions a tract to laugh at sermons, early morning or approaching night, are all thrown written lively by the Abbé Coyer, upon a single Though I agree," he says, 66 upon the inin indescribable beauty and truthfulness upon the utility of the remedy he rejects, I have no better painting. The solemn, soul-subduing influence of opinion of that he would substitute. Preaching some of the scenes which have been exhibited at has not failed from the beginning of the world till the Regent's Park in the metropolis cannot be con- to-day, because inadequate to the disease, but beveyed in words. The destruction of an Alpine cause the disease is incurable. If one preached to village by an avalanche can never be forgotten after lions and tigers, would it cure them of thirsting it has been once seen. The manner of effecting tunity? for blood, and sucking it when they have an oppor No. But when they are whelped in the this representation is strikingly simple; the spec- tower, and both caressed and beaten, do they turn tatory is a darkened room, which revolves upon out a jot more tame when they are grown up?"rollers; the sight-aperture, or proscenium, is of | Letters, vol. 3, p. 159.
From the Spectator.
THE FALL OF THE LEAF.
strengthen our faith and our resolve.
AUTUMN tinges the forest, and the deepening green fades into brown. The slanting sun sinks sooner to his bed; the rains are steadier and less hopeful of a break; and the day, like that of aging man, is graver. The wind is harsher-it beats and tears the trees in their waning life, and al- The sap rises in the tree according to its law; ready begins to strip them of their summer glories, the beast is directed to his appointed destiny by strewing the ground with the cast-off rags of ver- instinct; but among the formative forces of man dure. The dahlia holds out the parting splendors is his intelligence, by which he knows the past of the summer, with an intense fire of its own, as and can so prepare for an expanding future. Το though sunlight had been sown, and blossomed in him the recurring seasons speak not only of repcolor. The corn has been robbed of its golden etition but of an expanding destiny. Oak succeeds crown. The gay season has passed, and autumn oak, palm follows palm, unaltered; if less is folis leading us to winter, as life wanes and the som-lowed by greater, it is in an alien kind rooted bred countenance of man foreshadows death. upon a perished race, as fir succeeds moss and Death, the handmaid of life. The leaf falls to palm-tree fir; but, inspired with intelligence, man compose the life-giving earth for future forests-pursues a widening path of existence, so that the tree perishes to heap nurture round the root Greek succeeds Egyptian, and to the multiplied of the sappling; the glowing petal rots and is nations of Europe a Humboldt dimly prophesies a food for the seed of the bud; the corn is gathered more exalted future. to feed the race that survives many generations of corn and sees beyond its own mortality. Man witnesses these transitions with saddened senses but an informed faith, spans the dark chasm between summer and summer, and borrows for the drear season the light of future years. Other creatures die; he is gifted with the sad knowledge that he dies, but he is able to recognize death as the frontier between life and life. Where the lichen crept over the barren rock, the shrub has grown to forests, the corn waves, and the voice of man breaks the silence of the desert, to sing the story of the world; that long story which began before mankind awoke in its cradle, the tale in which ages are as seasons, and change is ever-increasing glory.
To man, therefore, the seasons coming round should speak encouragingly of work unperformed for the servive of the future. They cannot tell to the oak of seed unsown, but to man they do. The beast cannot retrace the history of his kind, and describe the pitfalls in which his kin have perished; but even our advance has not been all level and consistent. We struggle against our faults with too faint a heart or too biassed a will. fall of the leaf might remind us how many a fruit still hangs to perish upon "Tyburn tree;" every English village has its Lucrezia Borgia, "only not handsome." Justice hunts a miserable murderer across the sea, and we discover in him a man stupid with ignorance; his accomplice, a vulgar Lady Macbeth, absorbed in some ambition of To the informed soul of man the fall of the leaf dressing finely. Prison-discipline is still discussed speaks not only of a resurrection, but teaches him by the learned on its first principles. Education how decay is but a process of regeneration; de- itself has made such little way, that it is still barstruction is the first half of improvement. When barously bookish, and those who cannot lavishly living nature has attained perfection in one type, spend their youthful years in a wasteful schooling it will not tolerate less, but each stage is made are kept from knowledge; the explanation of our complete, and then the creature perfected after its "free" museums is still locked up in “catalogues," kind gives place to new perfection. As forests the weekly opportunity of the "sermon" is still, fall that more stately forests may rise, so human for the most part, barren of teaching, and in thoustates fall that greater states may rise. Persia sands of ways the channels of instruction are unand Egypt sank into the tomb on which Greece built her temple, Rome propagated the civilization planted by Greece, and modern Europe rises on the ruins of Rome. Revolutions are but the fall of the leaf. Poland has rotted in the soil of Europe; but the emperor sitting at Warsaw can no more forbid the unborn nation, than the vulture perched upon the fallen oak trunk can forbid the oak which is growing beneath his feet.
used. Political economy vaunts its wisdom, but has not yet taught us how to disarm plenty of its terrors for the farmer. Medical police is but beginning to guard the health of our immense towns. Our colonies are passing from us before we have learned how to use them. In many things the recurring season finds us too little altered.
But not wholly so. As this year wanes, we see a better spirit awakening in Ireland, and in it Evil-thinking alone is ignorant in its cunning the dawn of the first true hope for that disturbed and perishable in its power. Changeful and wan- land since the mythic times of its saintly prosperdering, the nations repeal the mistakes of their ity. A medical police has begun to combat pes predecessors, but keep the tried wisdom. The tilence, even that which is now with us. The thoughts of love and beauty and greatness, that same pestilence has drawn forth proof that utilitahave come down to us from the earliest times, still rianism with the vanities of the past has not de