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Obtained in Large Part from Sources not Generally Accessible,
and Covering more than One Thousand Topics of Gene-

ral Interest and Frequent Inquiry.

EDITED BY

ROBERT THORNE, M. A.

NEW YORK:

A, L. BURT, PUBLISHER.

1889.

" Cyc 449

HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
RECEIVED THROUGH THE

GRADUATE SCHOOL OF!
BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

Get 30, 1924

7

COPYRIGHT 1889, BY A. L. BURT,

Perlmonel El

PREFACE.

THERE ARE many subjects constantly arising in conversa

tion and in general reading upon which many have vague ideas and elusive reminiscences of former knowledge, but upon which few can give any accurate or definite information. If a large encyclopedia is' consulted, these particular subjects are often not to be found, or else are treated so exhaustively and scientifically that the average reader finds it tedious and difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the few essential facts that are desired. The following pages comprise a collection of short articles on just such topics, ranging naturally from the most frivolous to the most serious and scientific, but selected with much care, in order to include those of most general interest and frequent inquiry. Suggestions for many of them have been obtained from the queries in the correspondence departments of periodicals and newspapers. The volume is strictly popular and not intended for scientific reference; but all statements are supported by the best authorities, and in each case the effort and aim have been to state in clear and concise language just the kind and amount of information which are usually sought. The matter has been drawn from a great number of sources, many of them being quite inaccessible to the com inity at large. Thus, in its purpose and scope, the book is quite unlike any other now in the hands of the public, and suggests a certain sphere of usefulness and convenience which the editor trusts that it will fill.

THE EDITOR.

A DICTIONARY

OF

RARE AND CURIOUS INFORMATION.

Absinthe is a spirit flavored with the pounded leaves and flow. ering tops of wormwood, together with angelica-root, sweet-flag root, star-anise, and other aromatics. The aromatics are macerated for about eight days in alcohol and then distilled, the result being an emerald-colored liquor. The best absinthe is made in Switzerland, the chief seat of the manufacture being in the canton of Neufchatel. It is chiefly used in France and the United States. The evil effects of drinking this liquor are very apparent; frequent intoxication, or moderate but steady tippling, utterly deranges the digestive system, weakens the frame, induces horrible dreams and hallucinations, and may end in paralysis or in idiocy.

Achromatic Lens is so called because it transmits light with out dividing it into colors. The white ray of light is made up of a number of colored rays, which have different degrees of refrangibility. When the direct ray is refracted it divides itself into the colored rays, which deviate in various degrees from the straight line of the simple ray and do not all focus at the same point, thus surrounding the object viewed with a halo of various colors. For many years it was thought that the defect could not be remedied, but the necessary improvement was invented about 1750 by John Dollond. He made a double lens of flint and crown-glass. These two kinds of glass differ as to their power of dispersing colors; so by using a convex lens of crown-glass, with a concave one of fiintglass, an almost colorless image was obtained.

Adam and Eve.—To the Scriptural account of the creation and fall of Adam and Eve the later Jewish writers in the Talmud have made many additions. According to them the stature of Adam, when first created, reached to the heavens, while the splendor of his countenance surpassed that of the sun. The very angels stood in awe of him, and all creatures hastened to worship him. Then the Lord, in order to show the angels his power, caused a sleep to fall upon Adam, and removed a portion of every limb. He thus lost his vast stature, but remained perfect and complete. His first wife was Lilith, the mother of demons; but she fled from him, and afterward Eve was created for him. At the marriage of Adam and Eve angels were present, some playing on musical instruments, others serving up delicious viands, while the sun, moon and stars danced together. The happiness of the human pair excited envy

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