The Rev. Patrick Bell, LL.D., minister of Carmyllie, in the Presbytery of Arbroath, the well-known inventor of the reaping macnine, died recently, after almost attaining the Scriptural three score years and ten. He had been ailing for the greater part of a twelvemonth, and for the last four months of his life he had been entirely laid aside from ministerial duty. The celebrity attained by Dr. Bell was entirely due to the successful character of the invention with which his name is henceforth to be indissolubly associated in the history of the country. The father of the deceased was a farmer in Forfarshire ; and when young Bell was a student, prosecuting his studies for the ministry at St. Andrew's University, in the year 1827, he turned his attention, on his brother's farm, to the practical application of his views on machine reaping, and in the following year the machine was working successfully. It was then almost as perfect a piece of mechanism as the best reaping machine of the present day. Its invention preceded that of the American machines by seven or eight yeprs. At the Dundee meeting of the British Association, in 1867, Dr. Bell gave a very full and graphic account of the history of the invention. Some time after that meeting, a subscription of 1,000 was collected and presented to Dr. Bell, as a recognition of the great value and utility of his invention, and about the same time he was created L.L.D. by his alma mater. Dr. Bell was an excellent mathematical scholar, and fully studied the application of mathematical science to physics.—Engineering. The White-footed or Deer Mouse. This species of the Mus family has been note 1 for two characteristics, not confined to it alone, but still ra; '. One is that it is an active tree-climber, and very frequently makes its nest upon or in trees, sometimes at a considerable distance from the ground; and the other is its mode of transporting its young, which, as usually observed, is by the latter adhering to the teat of the mother, who drags them along in her flight from danger. In October last I observed a bunch of sticks and twigs in a thorn bush, about thirty inches from the ground, about the size of one's head and rounded on the top, with no appearance of ever having been occupied by a bird. When the ax-man struck the root of the tree, a white-footed mouse (Mus leuoop ils) rushed from the nest with two of her young family, fully half-grown, attached to her. She coursed up and down the limbs, and from one limb to another, dragging her heavy load after her. Occasionally both would drop down on either side of the limb along which she was dragging them. Sometimes when she would reach a lateral branch, the young hangingits whole length below it, she would yank the infant with a force truly surprising, which must have been a severe test upon the hold of the little one. Two observations interested me particularly: First, the young were not adhering to the teat, which has been supposed to be the universal habit of this mouse, but were adhering to the outside of the thighs. In this observation I do not think I could have been mistaken, as I was struck with this peculiarity, and stood within a yard of them, and she stopped in plain view several times in apparent doubt as to which way to go, and once on a limb about an inch in diameter, and with one of the young hanging down on either side, which gave me the best possible chance for an accurate observation. The young, though large enough to have fled much faster than the mother could drag them, made no effort to assist in the flight, but contented themselves with passively hanging on. Second, the young were of a dull blue or lead color, darker than the common house-mouse, and showing no white on the feet, belly or sides, which is always observable in the adult. My desire to secure them as specimens was overcome by my sympathy for the afflicted mother, and I allowed them to escape. This was done after having once retreated to the nest, and left it again upon a new alarm, when she ran out upon a limb as far as she could, and jumped to the ground, a distance of full four feet, the young still adhering to her. I did not, as I should have done, examine the internal arrangement of the nest. If she had taken possession of an abandoned bird's nest, she had completed the structure by adding to it till the top presented a full convex form.—/. D. Caton in the American Naturalist. The Channel Bridge. The following is a translation of an article in the Journal Offleiel de I'Empire Franeais: " The project of a bridge over the Straits makes each day further progress. The first model was completely finished some days ago, and is perfectly satisfactory. This small model is composed, of a single arch, reduced upon an exact scale to the hundredth part of the size of one of those of the great bridge. It presents an absolute rigidity throughout; that is to say, it is not subject to any movement or oscillation ; there is, consequently, no vibration calculated to disintegrate the metal. " There is no more elasticity perceptible under foot than in walking on a pavement, and it can support without any deflection, a weight greater than that of twenty trains proportioned to the same scale, meeting in the middle of the arch. The weight of ten men does not produce a deflection of more than a few millimeters in its whole length, and as soon as it is relieved of its burden, it recovers exactly its first position; indeed, it is not necessary to employ several of the parts prepared to ensure rigidity. This result simplifies the question, and permits considerable economy in the cost. " A second model of a size double that of the first is on the point of being completed, and if, as everything tends to show, the result is as favorable, the most skeptical will be unable to entertain the smallest doubt in respect of it. " In any case, the problem is solved that bridges and viaducts of every size can be constructed in a single arch, without piers, from bank to bank. Already many orders for large and small bridges have been given—among others, a large bridge for a road and railway of a kilometer in length, which will unite St. Malo and St. Servan to Dinan ; a foot bridge of a hundred meters over the basin of the lock at Calais ; and several others for the departments." Apparatus for Saving Life at Sea. A new contrivance for saving life at sea has been made by M. C. J. Laurendeau, of Paris. It is composed of a quantity of thick cork, sufficient to float and sustain a person in the water, and is adapted to the abdomen and a part of the chest; a second supply of thinner cork is placed between the shoulders, and reaches to the nape of the neck. This arrangement is intended to produce perfect equilibrium, the part of the body unfurnished with cork acting as ballast. Should the bather desire to swim under water, the collar is removed, or the buoyant part turned from the side, the principal piece being furnished with nippers for closing the nostrils and a pipe or tube to breathe through, the end of which terminates in a funnel of cork, so as to float on the surface of the water. And, finally, a person may remain, and swim a comsiderable time under water, by making the principal piece of the apparatus both a means of buoying up the body and an air reservoir, from which the bather expels and draws in air by means of a double tube, the reservoir being divided into two compartments by an elastic partition ; but this apparatus is intended only for good swimmers, and it would be necessary to carry ballast.
This article was originally published with the title "The Late Rev. Patrick Bell, LL.D" in Scientific American 20, 23, 363 (June 1869)