In his "Hyperion," Longfellow tells us that in the belfry of the Kauthaus in Coblenz is a huge head, with a brazen helmet and a beard, and whenever the clock strikes, at each stroke of the hammer this giant's head opens its great jaws and smites its teeth together as if it would say: "Time wasTime isTime is past!"
This figure is known in all the country round as the "Man in the Custom House," and when a friend from the country meets a friend from Coblenz, instead of saying: "How are all the good people in Coblenz?" he says, "How is the man in the Custom House?"
Another very remarkable clock is found at Prague, near the old Hussite church. The clock itself forms part of the original tower, while the face or dial is exposed to the street. This dial is six or eight feet in diameter, and has a great number of hands, recording hours, minutes, days, months, years, and even centuries. The dial is set in an elaborate framework, about eight feet high and fifteen feet long, and this metal framework is ornamented with many curious and quaint devices. One of these is connected with the striking of the hours.
On the dial of a wonderful clock in St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice, the twenty-four hours are marked with the signs of the zodiiac and the phases of the moon. Above this is the Madonna, sitting in state upon a platform between two doors.
On grand religious festivals, the door on the right hand of the Virgin opens and out walks in angel with a big trumpet, which he blows, and bowing to the Madonna, passes on. He is then followed by three men representing the three wise men of the East, one of whom is as black as night. These all pause and bow before the Virgin, and then pass through the door on her left, which closes after them. On the platform is a huge bell, beside which stand two giant figures, who strike the hours with sledge hammers, while above all is the Lion of St. Mark.
In Japan is an old timekeeper of remarkable construction. This clock, in a frame three feet high and five feet long, represented a noon landscape of great loveliness. In the fore ground were plum and cherry trees and rich plants in full bloom; in the rear was a hill, gradual in ascent, from which flowed a cascade, elaborately imitated in crystal. From this point a thread-like stream glided along, encircling in its windings, rocks and tiny islands, but presently losing itself in a far-off stretch of woodland. In the sky turned a golden sun, indicating, as it passed, the striking hours, which were all marked upon the frame below, where a slowly creeping tortoise served as a hand. A bird of exquisite plumage, resting on a plum tree branch, by its wings proclaimed the expiration of each hour. When the song ceased, a mouse sprang from the grotto nearby, and, running over the hill disappeared.
Droz, a mechanic of Geneva, produced a clock which excelled all others in its marvelous construction. On it were seated a negro, a shepherd and a dog. When the clock struck, the shepherd played six tunes on his flute, and the dog approached and fawned upon him. The King of Spain came to see this wonderful invention, and was delighted beyond measure. "The gentleness of my dog," said Droz, "is his least merit; if your majesty touch one of those apples which you see in the shepherd's basket, you will admire the animal's fidelity." The king took an apple, upon which the dog flew at his hand, barking so loudly and so naturally that another dog which had come into the room, began to bark also.
The courtiers became terrified, deeming it witchcraft, and crossing themselves, hastily departed. Droz requested the only one who ventured to remain, to ask the negro what time it was. He did so in Spanish, receiving no reply. Droz remarked that the negro had not learned Spanish, whereupon the question was repeated in French, and the negro immediately replied. This frightened the questioner also, and he, too, beat a hasty retreat, sure that the whole thing must be of the devil.
The first clock of which we have any account was invented in Alexandria., Egypt, about 245 B. C. One hundred years later the water clock, a very rude and imperfect timepiece, was introduced into Rome. The water issued drop by drop through a hole of the vessel and fell into another, in which a light body that floated marked the hight, of the water as it rose, and by these means indicated the time that had elapsed. At first the water flowed out rapidly, so that the clock required much regulation.
With slight variations in form of construction, the water clock served the purposes of mankind for more than a thousand years, and not until the eleventh century did clocks moved by weights and wheels appear in Europe, at first in the monasteries. Some of them were very costly.
In 1232, the Saladin of Egypt sent to the Emperor, Frederic a clock worth 5,000 ducats. It resembled a celestial globe, in which figures of the sun, moon and other skill, were impelled by weights and wheels, performing their courses in certain fixed intervals.
In about 200 years the common people began to want to know the "time o' day," and clocks were placed in the towers of public buildings. Among these were many wonderful examples of mechanical skill and ingenuity, that at Strassburg being especially noteworthy.
Strassburg had its first public clock in the year 1370; Padua, some time in the 14th century; Courtray and Dijon, in 1382. There was little improvement in clocks until the middle of the 17th century.
Eli Terry of Plymouth, Massachusetts, made the first wooden clock in 1793.
The watch dates from about the middle of the 16th century, the first being very cumbrous. The opposite extreme in size was reached 150 years later.
In 1764, John Arnold completed and presented to George III a watch three-fifths of an inch in diameter, perfect in all its parts, and repeating the hours, quarters and half quarters. Its size was that of a silver two-pence, and its weight, that of a sixpence.
Putting into actual figures the annual cost of detecting, punishing, and preventing crime, Chicago, Illinois, and Cook County, in which it is located, are used as an illustration of the manner in which the money is applied. The police force, with its 3,000 men, leads:
The weeping willow tree came to America through the medium of Alexander Pope, the poet, who planted a willow twig at his Twickenham villa, on the banks of the Thames. The twig came to him in a box of figs sent from Smyrna by a friend, who had lost his all in the South Sea bubble, and had gone to that distant land to recoup his fortunes. A young British officer, who came to Boston with the army sent to crush the rebellion of the American colonies, brought with him a twig from Pope's now beautiful willow tree, intending to plant it in America when he should comfortably settle down on lands confiscated from the conquered Americans. The young officer, disappointed in these expectations, gave his yellow twig, wrapped in oil silk, to John Park Custis, son of the wife of George Washington, who planted it on his Abingdon. estate in Virginia. It thrived and became the progenitor of our willow trees.
Envelopes were first used in 1839.
Anæsthesia was discovered in 1844.
The First Steel Pen was made in 1830.
The First Air Pump was made in 1654.
The First Lucifer Match was made in 1829.
The First Balloon Ascension was made in 1783.
The First Iron Steamship was built in 1830.
Ships were first "copper bottomed" in 1783.
Coaches were first used in England in 1569.
The First Horse-Railroad was built in 1826-7.
The Entire Hebrew Bible was printed in 1488.
Gold was first discovered in California in 1848.
The First Steamer plied the Hudson in 1807.
The First Watches were made at Nuremburg in 1477.
Kerosene was first used for lighting purposes in 1826.
The First Newspaper Advertisement appeared in 1652.
The First Copper Cent was coined in New Haven in 1687.
The First Telescope is said to have been used in England in 1608.
The First Sawmaker's Anvil was brought to America in 1819.
The First Locomotive used in America was placed in service in 1829.
The First Almanac was printed by George Van Purbach in 1460.
The First Chimney was introduced into Rome from Padua in 1329.
Glass Windows were first introduced into England in the eighth century.
The First Steam Engine was brought to America from England in 1753.
The First Complete Sewing Machine was patented by Elias Howe, Jr., in 1846.
The First Society to promote Christian knowledge was organized in 1698.
The First Manufacture of Pins in America was soon after the War of 1812.
Glass Beads were found on mummies over 3,000 years old.
Gas was first used to illuminate in 1702, and first used in New York in 1827.
The First Glass Factory in the United States was built in 1780.
The First National Bank in the United State, was incorporated December 31, 1781.
The First Temperance Society in the United States was organized in Saratoga, New York, in 1808.
The First Machine for Carding, roving and spinning cotton in the United States, was manufactured in 1786.
The First Society for the Circulation of the Bible was organized in 1805.
The First Telegraph Instrument was operated by S. F. B. Morse in 1835.
The First Union Flag, with 13 red and white stripes and the English cross in one corner, was unfurled over the camp at Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 1, 1776.
The First Daily Newspaper appeared in 1702.
The First Newspaper in the United States was published in Boston, September 25, 1790.
The First Religious Newspaper, the "Boston Record," was published in 1815.
The "Shoe Black" first came into vogue in 1750.
When Captain Cook first visited Tahiti, the natives were using nails made of wood, bone, shell and stone. When they saw iron nails, they fancied them to be shoots of some very hard wood, and being desirous of securing such a valuable commodity, they planted them in their gardens.