The Hour Of The Day Or Night Told By A Suspended Shilling

However improbable the following experiment may appear, it has been

proved by repeated trials:

Sling a shilling or sixpence at the end of a piece of thread by means

of a loop. Then resting your elbow on a table, hold the other end of

the thread betwixt your fore-finger and thumb, observing to let it

pass across the ball of the thumb, and thus suspend the shilling into

an empty goblet. Observe, your hand must be perfectly steady; and if

you find it difficult to keep it in an immoveable posture, it is

useless to attempt the experiment. Premising, however, that the

shilling is properly suspended, you will observe, that when it has

recovered its equilibrium, it will for a moment be stationary: it will

then of its own accord, and without the least agency from the person

holding it, assume the action of a pendulum, vibrating from side to

side of the glass, and, after a few seconds, will strike the hour

nearest to the time of day; for instance, if the time be twenty-five

minutes past six, it will strike six; if thirty-five minutes past six,

it will strike seven; and so on of any other hour.

It is necessary to observe, that the thread should lie over the pulse

of the thumb, and this may in some measure account for the vibration

of the shilling; but to what cause its striking the precise hour is to

be traced, remains unexplained; for it is no less astonishing than

true, that when it has struck the proper number, its vibration ceases,

it acquires a kind of rotatory motion, and at last becomes stationary,

as before.

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