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a sophisticated beauty. It has lost something of the spring and freshness of the earlier passion; it has lost most of the game-feeling that keeps the heart of youth in the Morris-dance. Morris-dancing should be taught us first when we are children, and the The Spectator.

dances of elegance should come second. Dancing, like all other arts, clears the soul; the glorious company of the Apostles, says a Father of the Church, praise their Maker in everlasting dance.

THE SEASIDE LIFE OF FRANCE.

With the exception of a holiday spent during the summer in one of the many towns and villages scattered along the coast, few Englishmen know anything about the seaside life of France, or of the habits and superstitions of the people; and yet they are even now a distinct race with an heroic past, great traditions, and unique customs. As early as the thirteenth century these simple and hardy sailors carried on an enormous trade. Their fleets traversed every sea. One captured the Canaries, another merchant squadron sailed up the Tagus and bearded the King of Portugal in his capital. They also claim to have sailed round the Cape of Good Hope before the passage was discovered by the Portuguese; but if this was the case they kept the secret so well that they lost the credit of it. It was they who opened the fur trade in Canada and established a European colony in Senegal; and even now the men travel to the uttermost parts of the earth, and the women take their full share in the varied life of the great seaport towns and little fishing-villages of the country. Both sexes still retain the characteristics of many centuries ago, and it is only by penetrating into their quaint villages that an insight can be gained into their manners and customs, for each little fishing-village has its own traditions and many of them are deeply interesting. The influence

of the sea, the constant nearness of death, the grandeur of Nature in all her moods which is ever before the fisherfolk, probably account for the difference in their character from the people in other parts of the country.

The fishermen of Northern France are stern, silent, and most extraordinarily superstitious. Many of them still retain their faith in gnomes and fairies, and they are convinced that a great disaster is sure to befall him who forgets to cross himself with holy water on rising in the morning. No one of their number attempts to put to sea on the Jour des Morts (All Souls' Day). Their comrades who have perished during the year are in their minds and this reacts upon the imagination, for they allege that ships and ghosts appear and vanish in the most startling manner. A religious service precedes every important event in their lives; no fishermen would dream of putting out to sea in a boat which had not been baptized, and their little churches, scattered all along the coast, are rarely without worshippers, praying for the safety of those at sea and for good hauls of fish. The harbor pilots are important personages in the seaside life of France. They have seen much of the world in their wanderings, and have generally collected a wonderful store of miscellaneous information. Being Government servants they are thoroughly reliable char

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Besides sailing to the uttermost parts of the earth in pursuit of cod, herring, and mackerel, the French do a large trade with the fish in their own waters. Of these there is a great number, including two sorts of skate, mackerel, soles, turbot, brill, plaice, flounders, bream, and oysters. There are three classes of fisherfolk in Northern France. Some of the men have their own boats, and they hire what assistance they require, buy their own nets, find their own bait, etc.; others hire a boat between them and each man gets so much, while the rest goes to the owner; the third class are too poor to do anything but sell their services. The boats vary in size from five to fifty tons, and generally nine men form a crew. The brotherhood existing among them extends beyond death. The widow of one of their number has a right to send out her nets with the boat to which her husband belonged, and her share of what is caught is scrupulously handed over to her. The women are more remarkable than the men, and they are far better educated. It is they who drag the boats in and out of the little harbors, and who sell the fish in the markets. They are thus brought into contact with the peoples and civilizations of all countries, and no class of women in Europe is so emancipated. They are strong and robust, and their outdoor life and masculine habits-for they belong to the sea as much as do their menfolkharden their bodies, at the same time

giving them a taste for all masculine pursuits and pleasures. They rarely quarrel with their husbands: indeed, the latter would fare badly did they attempt coercion or ill-treatment in any shape or form, for the women are taller than they are and quite as strong; so the "mere men" of the French coast prefer to keep their skins whole, and treat their wives as "jolly good fellows," which is exactly what they are. They sing their songs and enjoy their glass of cider with the best of their menfolk. Every Saturday night, when the earnings of the week are divided, all contribute to a sumptuous repast of fish and eggs, with plenty of cider. These functions would be considered dreary festivities among the same class in England; for however much they enjoy themselves there is a certain solemnity in all their pleasures. They rarely dance and when they do it is a stately measure, while one of the party sings a song. All their annals are tinged with melancholy.

The commercial system established in the large fishing-towns of Northern France is of a very elaborate and intricate character. As soon as the boats come in and the fish are landed, they are generally sold outright to the ècoreur, the agent between the fisherman and the merchant, who pays the fisherman at once, deducting sometimes as much as 5 per cent. for his services; but he takes all risks and suffers the loss in case of a bad sale. The ècoreur, in his turn, sells the fish to the mareyeur, the merchant who provides the baskets and packs and forwards them to Paris and other large towns; he also pays the carriage and the town duties and fees to the market crier. It is he who has to bear the loss of the fish if it arrives in bad condition and is intercepted by the police. In many parts of the coast the fishing is lazily prosecuted, for there is no di

rect road from some of the coast villages to the inland cities, but the neighboring peasantry often come to the seaside to fish with nets, which they spread out before the tide rises, and in this way secure a supply of food for themselves during the winter. while in the summer the women hawk their produce about the country and manage to make a small sum.

The girls are among the boldest of the fisherfolk, and they wade far out to hunt amongst the sea grass. When the tide goes out a whole army of young people sally forth to catch crabs and prawns, and the occupation requires a considerable amount of dexterity. The former are caught by means of iron hooks. Few of the holes in which the crabs lie escape the sharp eyes of the girls, who insert their hooks, and the crab, resenting this treatment, seizes the hook in a fury; he is then easily lifted out. Prawn-catching is a favorite and profitable employment in the seaside life of France. When the tide goes out, the holes and crannies of the rocks are filled with water, and some of the holes are very deep. The girls wade into them and The Outlook.

scrape the sides and bottoms with their nets. This sounds very simple, but an inexperienced person would not catch more than a dozen during the day, whereas these children have their nets full before the tide turns.

An unusually favorable opposition of Mars is now approaching. Oppositions recur at intervals of about two years and two months, the earth in this period completing two revolutions and two-sevenths, Mars one and twosevenths. These oppositions do not, however, all afford an equally close approach to the planet, since its orbit is decidedly eccentric, far more so than that of the earth, so that its distance from the sun varies between 155 and 128 millions of miles. The most favorable oppositions occur when it is nearest the sun, and these repeat

The seaside life of France entails greater hardships and risks than are endured by the peasantry in other parts of the country, but the sturdy, thrifty character of the people stands them in good stead. Everything that can be turned into account is carefully husbanded; even the seaweed left on the shore by the receding tide is taken up in carts and dug into the soil, which it is said to improve by its manuring properties. In all the fishing-villages the wife has the purse, and a tight hold does she keep on the strings, and well does she play her part. Her children are always clean; a hole is never seen in her husband's clothes, though they are often patched beyond recognition, and her own caps and linen are spotlessly white, while she is always cheery and good-tempered. As in all other parts of the country, the woman is the guiding spirit in the seaside life of France.

THE APPROACHING OPPOSITION OF MARS.

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servers) for the slightly greater distance; hence it is not surprising that the planet is now receiving a considerable amount of attention, especially as there are several large instruments available that were not erected in 1894. It was in that year that Professor Percival Lowell inaugurated his observatory at Flagstaff, Arizona, for the special purpose of making a continuous study of Mars under all configurations, and his work there has marked a notable advance in our knowledge of the planet's markings. The site was chosen with great care after many experiments, with a view to securing the best possible telescopic definition. The observatory is at an altitude of seven thousand feet, on the slopes of San Francisco Peak, Arizona; the mountain is clothed with pine and other trees, while it is surrounded by the great American desert, and it is probable that this combination explains the excellent definition, the dry desert air securing clearness, while the oasis of vegetation protects the ground from overheating, with consequent unsteadiness. Perhaps the most important single result obtained here was the successful photography of the planet, commenced four years ago by Professor Lowell's assistants, Lampland and Slipher, and repeated with still greater success in 1907; plates were used that were very sensitive to the red end of the spectrum, and a large number of short exposures were given, SO as to give more opportunity of catching the moments of best definition. Some of the exposures show one region of the planet well, some show another; but the principal canals appear on so many as to leave no doubt of their objective reality; and it must be remembered that, before these photographs were taken, this was not universally conceded, some asserting that they were wholly the product of optical illusion. It must be admitted

that the canals as photographed are much broader and less well-defined than as shown in the drawings; this is inevitable from the size of the grain of the plate, and on the whole these photographs greatly increase our confidence in the accuracy of the drawings; in fact, we can trust these up to a certain point as corresponding to actual detail on the planet; it is, however, questionable whether Professor Lowell does not press them further in this direction than is legitimate. Dr. G. Johnstone Stoney has reminded us in his recent pamphlet, "Telescopic Vision," that, owing to diffraction and interference, the telescopic image cannot give us an absolutely perfect representation of the original; thus in a microscope, when we press magnifying power beyond what the aperture will warrant, we get spurious images. Some of the very fine detail drawn by Lowell, such as the dark spots, or "oases," where the canals cross, or the triangular "carets," where they leave the dusky regions for the "deserts," may be of this spurious character, and one should always bear in mind the possibility of optical illusion in discussing details that are on the very limit of visibility.

Professor Lowell may claim to have made the presence of water on Mars extremely probable; the proof is twofold; first, the polar caps when melting are surrounded by a bluish band which follows them as they shrink, and whose light is said to show traces of polarization, though this last is such a delicate observation that too much stress should not be laid on it. Now carbonic acid does not pass through the liquid stage in melting (at least at the pressure which we must suppose to exist in the Martian atmosphere), so that this is evidence that the polar caps are composed of snow rather than frozen carbonic acid. The other piece of evidence is spectroscopic; Mr.

Slipher last year succeeded in photographing the Martian spectrum well beyond the point in the red where the great "a" band due to water-vapor lies; the water-vapor band shows unmistakably on the spectrum; this in itself is not conclusive, since the vapor might be in our own air; the moon's spectrum was therefore photographed at a similar altitude, and the "a" bands are much fainter in it, thus making it probable that water-vapor is present in Mars's atmosphere. That the amount must be very scanty is shown in various ways. First it has been shown that the dusky areas formerly called "seas" are not really so, since permanent canaliform markings have been traced across them, also since they show no polarization, and no sign of a reflected image of the sun, though this has been most carefully looked for. Secondly, because the polar caps melt so quickly (sometimes disappearing entirely) that it is evident the deposition of snow or frost must be shallow. Thirdly, because of the great clearness of the Martian air, and the rarity of cloud or mist. Professor Lowell strongly supports the theory that the canals are artificial, and have been constructed to conduct the scanty water supply over the planet for purposes of irrigation; in support of this he claims to have observed that they have a period of greatest visibility twice in the Martian year, those nearest the melting polar cap first becoming conspicuous, and the wave of visibility passing in succession down the latitudes, across the equator, till it dies out near the other cap, which in turn begins to melt, and sends a similar wave of visibility in the opposite direction. This, if fully established, would be very strong confirmation of his theory, but the canals at best are such difficult objects that we can scarcely feel entire confidence in slight changes in their degree of visi

The Times.

bility. His result, however, is based on several years' observations, and he states that the present appearance of Mars is in full accord with his expectation. We learn from the Bulletin de la Société astronomique de France for June that serious efforts are to be made in America to signal to the hypothetical inhabitants, Professor W. H. Pickering proposing to flash the sun by means of a large mirror mounted equatorially, while Professor Todd will be on the look-out for possible wireless messages reaching our earth from outer space. It must be admitted that this last sounds decidedly fantastic; but it is probable that the astronomers are carrying out these plans not so much on their own initiative as at the urgent request of wealthy Americans who have been persuaded by Professor Lowell's book of the existence of Martian inhabitants, and of the feasibility of communicating with them. It is clear, however, that even if we grant the inhabitants the chance, that they and we should simultaneously entertain the idea of sending or receiving signals is very slender. There is the further difficulty that when Mars is in opposition the earth is in conjunction with the sun, and therefore invisible. Signals sent from earth to Mars would have to be made some six weeks earlier or later, when the distance was much greater. No signal that we could make would be seen by dwellers in Mars unless they possessed optical instruments of a high degree of perfection. However, our interest in the planet is not dependent on the possible recognition of signs of intelligent life; many of those who have done good observing work have looked on the solution of this question as something altogether beyond our reach, and have been content to delineate the changing detail of the surface, without hoping to find an explanation of all they saw.

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