176 Art of Travel.
Fire-sticks.-In every country without exception, where inquiry has been made, the method of obtaining fire by rubbing one stick against another, has been employed. In savage countries the method still remains in present use ; in nearly all the more civilised ones, it has been superseded within historic periods by flints and steels and the like, and within this present generation by lucifer-matches. The only instance I know in which flints are said to have preceded fire-sticks, is in the quotation below from Pliny. A light has also been obtained in pre-historic times, as I have already mentioned, by reflecting the sun from a hollow surface ; but this method required costly apparatus, and could never have been in common use. Hence, although so far as I am aware, the Bible, and Homer, and other records of great antiquity, are absolutely silent on the contemporary methods of procuring fire ; and although Pliny says the reverse,-I think we are justified in believing that the plan of rubbing sticks together was absolutely universal in the barbaric infancy of the human race. In later Greek history, Prometheus is accredited with the invention of fire-sticks. Among the Romans both Seneca and Pliny write about them. Pliny says (Nat. Hist. xvi. 76,77)," There is heat in the mulberry, in the bay-laurel, in ivy, and in all plants whence fire-sticks are made. The experience of soldiers reconnoitring for encamping-grounds, and that of shepherds, made this discovery ; for a stone is not always at hand whence a spark might be struck. One piece of wood, therefore, is rubbed by another, and it catches fire through the friction, while a dry tindery substance-fungus and leaves are the most easily attainable-is used to perpetuate the fire. Nothing is better than ivy used as the stick to be rubbed, and bay-laurel as the stick to rub with. Wild vine-not the ` labrusca'-is also found good."
I have made a great many experiments with different kinds of wood, having procured an assortment of those used by the fancy toy-makers of Tunbridge Wells, and the chippings from botanical gardens. I find what I have heard from savages to be quite true ; viz., that it is much more difficult to procure good wood for the " fire-block " than for the drill-stick ; any tough, hard, and dry stick will do for the latter, but the fireblock must be of wood with little grain ; of a middle degree of softness ; readily inflammable ; and, I presume, a good
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