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herbage brown and trodden down as if by
thousands of tiny feet. In a day or two the
grass recovers its greenness, the footsteps of
the dancers are recognised by the superior
strength of the vegetation where they whirled
each other round in the waltz; and thenas
if the soil was warmed by their dancing, and
all its productive powers increased by contact
with their light fantastic toesappears a
crop of fungi. The fungi follow the exact
course of the circle traced in the revels of the
fairies; and science, which has lately left
colleges and cloisters, and is in fact more poetical
than all the nine Muses put together, ratifies
the peasant's declaration, and only adds in a
whisper that the fairies areElectricity.
Electric sparks are the heroes of that assembly
room; more brilliant and flashing than the
dandies celebrated by Pope:—

"More lucky than Fungoso at the play,
These sparks with anxious vanity display
What the fine gentlemen wore yesterday."

It was an old idea that lightning was the
cause of Fairy Rings; but the agricultural
mind was incredulous of the action of so
subtle an agent, and fell back for repose on
the Fungus theory. Without any acquaintance
with the previous guesses which had
attributed these poetical circles to lightning,
a friend of ours was standing under a tree
on his lawn, when, on looking at a Fairy
Ring a few yards in advance of him, he was
surprised to observe that the outline of the
tree was strictly followed upon the grass.
The completeness of the circle was marred by
the projecting branches, and it had, in every
respect, the appearance of having been interrupted
by the tree and of having flowed
down from leaf and spray, indenting itself
on the ground, like a permanent shadow of
the obstructing parts. He remarked that
the traces were all on the southern side of the
tree; and, in all his subsequent observations,
he found it a universal characteristic of the
rings that they were produced by a motion
from the northward. In the north is the
great storehouse of electric power; and, when
a supply is required in other directions, the
Fairy Rings are halting-places on its way from
head-quarters. You may have observed that
sometimes the circle is not perfect, even in
situations where there are no trees or other
solid objects to affect its form. You will
often see, for instance, that the southern
portion of the ring is incomplete; and this
you will find to be uniformly the case when
the declination of the ground is such that the
electric sparks strike on the northern part
first, and are carried forward before they
touch the lower piece of ground, which slopes
rapidly to the south. In this case it has the
appearance of a horse-shoe lying with its toe
to the north. On the other hand, when the
impact takes place upon a flat surface, the
ring is perfect, from the uninterrupted
circular progress of the fluid; and if, by any
chance, it hits upon a field with a slight
declination to the north, the figure is irregular
in the thickness of its ring, as if it
had been flattened by the resistance of the

The experiments of Mr. Crosse and others
on the prolific and ripening effects of streams
of electricity on fields of wheat, will explain
the cause of the vigorous vegetation where
these circles are made. Whatever germ may
be in the land is awakened to immediate life.
Strange weeds, and even grasses of an unusual
kind, have been found actively springing up
under the electric excitement; and these
vivifying effects extend several inches into
the soil. But, of all the inquiries of our
friend, the strangest conclusion, certainly, is
the stoppage of the electric fluid by an intervening
object, such as a house or tree, and
the definition of this object on the grass on
its southern side. A strong confirmation of
these conclusions is found in an old number
of the Quarterly Review (No. 59), where,
in a notice of Dr. Dwight's travels in New
England, the following passage occurs, so
strictly in accordance with the theory we
have attempted to explain, that it seems a
very fitting termination of our Chip.

"A person in Virginia, standing at his door
during a great thunder-gust, was killed; an
intermediate tree at some distance was struck
at the same time; and, when the corpse was
examined, it was found that the tree was
delineated upon it in miniature; the
surrounding part of the body being livid, but
that which was covered by the tree, of its
natural colour. He (Dr. Dwight) gives this
as a well-known and well-attested fact; but
adds that he does not pledge himself for the
truth of it, because it appears so improbable
and unphilosophical. Our knowledge in many
branches of natural history would be much
less imperfect than it is, if many facts had
not been suppressedeither from a fear, like
this, lest they should be thought incredible,
or from that unreasoning incredulity, which
will not, even upon the strongest testimony,
give credence to anything which it cannot


I WENT the other day to pay a visit to my
respected friend Herr von Schmidt, who
lives in Germany in the dominions of His
Serenity the Prince of the Towering Taxes.
Herr von Schmidt has no establishment, and
there is a tradition in the neighbourhood that
none of his friends have ever been able, after
the closest inquiry, to ascertain where he lived.
He met me at the station, however, according
to previous appointment. "It is half-past
twelve o'clock," said the Herr von Schmidt;
"are you hungry? I am, very!" and the
Herr von Schmidt's looks also assured me
that he was confining himself strictly to the

I had breakfasted, according to the Teutonic