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MINORITES, a name of the Franciscan order (q.v.), derived from the original later denomination adopted by their founder, Fratres Minores. This name has left its trace in the popular designation of several localities both in English and foreign cities.
MI'NOS, the name of two mythological kings of Crete. The first is said to have been the son of Jupiter and Europa, the brother of Rhadamanthus, the father of Deucalion and Ariadne, and, after his dea a judge in the infernal regions. The second of the same name was grandson of the former, and son of Lycastus and Ida. To him the celebrated Laws of Minos are ascribed, in which he is said to have received instruction from Jupiter. He was the husband of that Pasiphaë who gave birth to the Minotaur (q.v.), Homer and Hesiod know of only one Minos, the king of Cnossus, and son and friend of Jupiter.
MINOT, GEORGE, 1817–58; b. Mass.; read law in the office of Rufus Choate, and was admitted to the bar in 1839. He soon obtained a large practice in Boston. He reported the decisions of judge Levi Woodbury of the circuit court, and edited, in association with Richard Peters, jr., 8 vols. of the U. 8. Statutes at Large, and was sole editor of that work from 1848 to 1858. He published in 1844 A Digest of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and edited, between 1853–54, the English Admiralty Reports in 9 vols.
MINOT, GEORGE RICHARDS, 1758-1802; b. Boston; educated at Harvard, and called to the bar. From 1781 to 1791 he was clerk of the Massachusetts house of representatives, and was secretary of the convention called to ratify the federal constitution. He continued the practice of his profession till 1792, when he was appointed judge of probate for Suffolk county. In 1799 he was made chief-justice of the court of common pleas, and from 1800 till his death he was judge of the municipal court of Boston. He published a History of Shay's Rebellion, 1788, and a History of Massachusetts Bay, 2 vols., 1798-1803. The latter work is in continuatica of Hutchinson’s.
MINOTAUR (i.e., the bull of Minos), one of the most repulsive conceptions of Grecian mythology, is represented as the son of Pasiphaë and a bull, for which she had conceived a passion. It was half-man, half-bull, a man with a bull's head. Minos, the husband of Pasiphaë, shut him up in the Cnossian labyrinth, and there fed him with youths and maidens, whom Athens was obliged to supply as an annual tribute, till Theseus, with the help of Ariadne, slew the monster. The Minotaur is, with some probability, regarded as a symbol of the Phenician sun-god.
MINOT'S LEDGE, a light-house on a ledge of Cohasset rocks from which a fixed light is exhibited and a fog bell is rung. It is 16 m. from Boston, and 8 m. s.e. of Boston light, on the s. coast, a position of great peril to incoming vessels. It is indispensable, as without it, from the nature of the entrance to the harbor, in a n.e. gale vessels would with certainty be driven on the rocks if they failed to make the entrance. It is 11 m. from land, and the rock on which it stands, 25 ft. in diameter, is visible only at low water, when the height is for a short time about 31 ft. above the water line. In 1847 congress made an appropriation for the construction of a light-house at this point, called the Outer Minot, surmounted by a dwelling placed at the height of 55 ft. above the highest rock. A skeleton iron light-house was designed and erected by capt. W. H. Swift of the U. S. engineers at a cost of less than $10,000. It was formed of 8 heavy wrought iron piles, solid 10 in, skeleton shafts, with one additional in the center. The piles were each in 2 parts, connected by cast iron tubes 3 ft. long, the piles being secured to the tubes by large steel keys passing through the tubes and piles; and in its entire construction it was thought to be as secure as modern science could make it; but it stood only 2 years. On April 17, 1851, during one of the heaviest gales known on the coast, it was completely wrecked. A 54 in. hawser, anchored to a block of granite in the sea 50 fathoms from the base of the light, was attached at the other end to the top of the structure 63 ft. above the rock used ordinarily for raising boxes, etc. The keeper had carelessly allowed some stores, that should have been below, to remain out on the scaffolding. This was supposed to be one cause of the disaster; and another was the quantity of ice that adhered to the piles. The money for the present structure was appropriated in 1852, and the plans were made in 1855, the success of the enterprise being due to the late chief engineer gen. J. G. Totten, his plans being executed by gen. Barton S, Alexander. It is of conical form 30 ft. at the base, built of granite, the height of the stone work being 88 ft., solid for 40 ft. from the base, the stones dovetailed, and bound together by galvanized wrought iron pins 3 in. in diameter. The portion above this solid work is divided into the apartments of the keeper, 5 stories, with 4 iron floors, his store rooms, and the light on the 6th floor. Two years were required to level the foundation rock, working from April 1 to Sept. 15, and then only when the tide served. The first stone was laid on July 9, 1857; 4 stones were placed in position during the season. In 1858 six courses were laid; the following year the structure reached a height of 60 ft.; and in 1860 it was completed at a cost of about $300,000, and the beacon was lighted.
MINSIS INDIANS. See MUNSEES.
MINSK, a government and province of western or White Russia, lies s.e. of Wilna, and contains 34,860 sq.m., with a population (1880) of 1,451,950, composed chiefly of Russians, Lithuanians, Poles, and Jews, with a small percentage of Tartars and gypsies. Five-sevenths of the population profess the Greek religion. The chief articles of export are timber, salt, and corn, which are brought by river-carriage to the Baltic and Black sea ports. The principal manufactures are fine cloths, linen, and sugar. The soil is not fertile, and is covered to a large extent with woods and marshes, while in many other places it is a sandy waste; but in general the native products suffice for the wants of the inhabitants. The climate is very severe in winter. Cattle and sheep breeding are pursued with tolerable success. The inhabitants of the south or marshy portion of the province are subject to that dreadful disease, the plica polonica (q.v.).
MINSK, the chief t. of the government of the same name, is situated on the Svislocz, an affluent of the Beresina. It is mostly built of wood, but has many handsome stone edifices, among which are the Greek and Roman Catholic cathedrals and seminaries, the church of St. Catharine, a number of educational and philanthropic establishments, a public library, and a theater. The chief manufactures are woolen cloth and leather. Pop. '80, 44,000, many of whom are Jews.
MINSTER. See MONASTERY.
MINSTREL, a musician of the middle ages who was also a poet and singer: the term is applied to a class of persons who were to administer their skill in poetry and music for the amusement of their patrons. The various ways in which the word was written have perplexed etymologists. It appears, however, to have been no more than a consequential usage of the French ministre and the Latin ministri. They are in low Latin sometimes called plainly ministri; by Chaucer, in his Dream, “ministers,” and in the old paper roll printed by Leland we find “ministers ” who were appointed "to syng."
The minstrels appear to have accompanied their songs with mimicry and action; and to have practiced such various means of diverting as were most admired in those rude times, and supplied the want of more refined entertainment. These arts rendered them extremely popular and acceptable in England and all the neighboring countries, where no high scene of festivity was considered complete that was not set off with the exercise of their talents, and where, so long as the spirit of chivalry subsisted, they were protected and caressed, because their songs tended to honor the ruling passion of the times, and to encourage a martial spirit. The minstrels seem to have been the genuine successors of the ancient bards, who, under different names, were admired and revered, from the earliest ages, among the people of Gaul, Britain, and, indeed, through almost all Europe, whether Celtic or Gothic; but by none more than by the early Germans, particularly by the Danish tribes. Among these they were distinguished by the name of scalds, a word which denotes "smoothers and polishers of language.” Their skill was considered as something divine, their persons were deemed sacred, their attendance was solicited by kings, and they were everywhere loaded with honors and rewards. When the Saxons were converted to Christianity this rude admiration began to subside, and poets were no longer considered a peculiar class or profession. The poet and the minstrel became two persons. Poetry was cultivated by men of letters indiscriminately, and many of the most popular rhymes were composed amidst the leisure and retirement of monasteries. But the minstrels continued to be a distinct order of men, and obtained their livelihood by singing verses to the harp at the houses of the great There they were hospitably received, and retained many of the honors conferred upon the bards and the scalds. Although some of them only recited the compositions of others, many of them still composed songs, and all of them could probably invent a few stanzas upon occasion. Some of the longer metrical romances were written by monks, but the shorter narratives were probably composed by the minstrels who sung them, and there is no doubt that most of the old heroic ballads were produced by this order of men From the striking variations which occur in different copies of these old pieces it is evident that they made no scruple to alter one another's productions; and the reciter added or omitted whole stanzas, according to his own fancy or convenience. In England the profession of minstrel was a popular and privileged one from the time of the conquest, but this entertaining class never met with so much royal patronage as during the reign of Richard I. This brilliant crusader, himself
an adept in the minstrel's art, invited to his court many minstrels and troubadours from France, and loaded them with honors and rewards such as arms, clothes, horses, and money. The well-known story of Richard's favorite minstrel, Blondell de Nesle, discovering his royal master by singing a French chanson under the walls of a German castle in which he was a prisoner, has never been authenticated but it presents a popular illustration of the traditional devotion of the royal minstrel to his art. The instances of regard shown to minstrels during subsequent reigns are abundant. Edward II. rewarded his minstrel William de Morle, known as “Roi de North,” with certain houses which had previously belonged to the degraded minstrel John de Boteler, called “Roi Brunard.” We also find from Rymer that in 1415, when Henry V. was on his voyage to France, he was accompanied by eighteen minstrels, who were to receive twelve pence a day. Indeed, the minstrels were often in those days more amply paid than the clergy. From the time of Edward IV., however, the real character of the original minstrels was gradually lost; and they were seldom called upon to furnish a specimen of their venerable art except when some great personage condescended on a public occasion to patronize the rude pastimes of his ancestors. The genuine minstrel was seldom to be found in England, and the name had become so far
degraded as popularly to denote a mere musician. It is true that at the magnificent entertainment of queen Elizabeth by Leicester, at Kenilworth castle, in 1575, a person was introduced to amuse the queen, in the attire of an ancient minstrel, who called , himself “a squire minstrel of Middlesex,” but this was no doubt a part of the masquerade. Before Elizabeth closed her reign the degradation of minstrelsy was completed. By a statute in her 39th year, minstrels, together with jugglers, bear-wards, fencers, common players of interludes, tinkers, and peddlers, were included among rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars, and were adjudged to be punished as such.
MINT, Mentha, a genus of plants, of the natural order labiatæ; with small, funnel. shaped, 4-fid, generally red corolla, and four straight stamens. The species are peren. nial herbaceous plants, varying considerably in appearance, but all with creeping rootstocks. The flowers are whorled, the whorls often grouped in spikes or heads. The species are widely distributed over the world. Some of them are very common in Britain, as WATER MINT (M. aquatica), which grow in wet grounds and ditches, and CORN MINT (M. arvensis), which abounds as a weed in cornfields and gardens. These and most of the other species have erect stems. All the species contain an aromatic essential oil, in virtue of which they are more or less medicinal. The most important species are SPEARMINT, PEPPERMINT, and PENNY-ROYAL.-SPEARMINT or GREEN MINT (M. viridis), is a native of almost all the temperate parts of the globe: it has erect smooth stems, from 1 ft. to 2 ft. high, with the whorls of flowers in loose cylindrical or oblong spikes at the top; the leaves lanceolate, acute, smooth, serrated, destitute of stalk, or nearly so. It has a very agreeable odor.-PEPPERMINT (M. piperita), a plant of equally wide distribution in the temperate parts of the world, is very similar to spearmint, but has the leaves stalked, and the flowers in short spikes, the lower whorls somewhat distant from the rest. It is very readily recognized by the peculiar pungency of its odor and of its taste.—PENNY-ROYAL (M. pulegium), also very cosmopolitan, has a much-branched prostrate stem, which sends down new roots as it extends in length; the leaves ovate, stalked; the flowers in distant globose whorls. Its smell resembles that of the other mints.-All these species, in a wild state, grow in ditches or wet places. All of them are cultivated in gardens; and peppermint largely for medicinal use and for flavoring lozenges. Mint sauce is generally made of spearmint; which is also used for llavoring soups, etc. A kind of mint with lemon-scented leaves, called BERGAMOT MINT (.V. citrata), is found in some parts of Europe, and is cultivated in gardens. Varieties of peppermint and horse-mint(M. sylrestris), with crisped orinflato-rugose leaves, are much cultivated in Germany under the name of CURLED MINT (Krause-minze); the leaves being dried and used as a domestic medicine, and in poultices and baths. All kinds of mint are easily propagated by parting the roots or by cuttings. It is said that mice have a great aversion to mint, and that a few leaves of it will keep them at a distance.
Peppermint, penny-royal, and spearmint are used in medicine. The pharmacopeias contain an aqua, spiritus, and oleum of each of them; the officinal part being the herb, which should be collected when in flower. Peppermint is a powerful diffusible stimu. lant, and, as such, is antispasmodic and stomachic, and is much employed in the treatment of gastrodynia and flatulent colic. It is also extensively used in mixtures, for covering the taste of drugs. Penny-royal and spearmint are similar in their action, but inferior for all purposes to peppermint. The ordinary doses are from 1 to 2 ounces of the aqua, a dram of the spiritus (in a wine-glassful of water, and from 3 to 5 drops of the oleum (on a lump of sugar).
MINT (Lat. moneta), an establishment for making coins or metallic money (see MONEY). The early history of the art being traced under the head NUMISMATICS, the present article is mostly confine to a sketch of the constitution of the British mint, and of the modern processes of coining as there followed.
The earliest regulations regarding the English mint belong to Anglo-Saxon times. An officer called a reeve is referred to in the laws of Canute as having some jurisdiction over it, and certain names which, in addition to that of the sovereign, appear on the Anglo-Saxon coins, seem to have been those of the moneyers, or principal officers of the mint, till recently, an important class of functionaries, who were responsible for the integrity of the coin. Besides the sovereign, barons, bishops, and the greater monasteries bad their respective mints, where they exercised the right of coinage, a privilege enjoyed by the archbishops of Canterbury as late as the reign of Henry VIII., and by Wolsey as bishop of Durham and archbishop of York.
After the Norman conquest, the officers of the royai mint became to a certain extent subject to the authority of the exchequer. Both in Saxon and Norman times, there existed, under control of the principal mint in London, a number of provincial mints in different towns of England; there were no fewer than 38 in the time of Ethelred, and the last of them were only done away with in the reign of William III. The officers of the mint were formed into a corporation by a charter of Edward II.; they consisted of the warden, master, comptroller, assay-master, workers, coiners, and subordinates.
The seignorage for coining at one time formed no inconsiderable item in the rev. enues of the crown. It was a deduction made from the bullion coined, and comprehended both a charge for defraying the expense of coinage, and the sovereign's profit in virtue of his prerogative. In the reign of Henry VI., the seignorage amounted to 6d. in
the pound: in the reign of Edward I.
, 15. 24d. By 18 Car. II. c. 5, the seignorage on gold was abolished, and has never since been exacted. The shere, or remedy, as it is now called, was an allowance for the unavoidable imperfection of the coin.
The function of the mint is in theory to receive gold in ingots from individuals and return an equal weight in sovereigns; but, in point of fact, gold is now exclusively coined for the bank of England, for, though any one has still the right to coin gold at the mint, the merchant or dealer has ceased to obtain any profit for so doing, as the bank is compelled to purchase all gold tendered to it at the fixed price of £3 178. 9d. an ounce. The increment on the assay (q.v.), or on the fineness of the metal, which augments the standard weight, and therefore the value of the gold, is a more considerable source of profit to the importer of gold. The ordinary trade assay, on which the importer purchases the bullion, does not, by usage, come closer than of a carat grain, or 713 grains per lb. troy. Before being coined the gold is subjected to a second and more delicate assay at the mint, and the importer receives the benefit of the difference, amounting to about to of a carat grain - 34 troy grains, or nearly 8d. per lb. weight.
Silver, which was formerly, concurrently with gold, a legal tender to any amount, has, by 56 George III. c. 68, ceased to be so. There is a seignorage on both silver and copper money, amounting in silver to 10 per cent. when the price of silver is 58. per ounce, which, however, from the tear and wear of the coin, brings small profit to the crown. On the copper coinage the seignorage is no less than 100 per cent on the average price of copper. The profits of the seignorage, formerly retained by the master of the mint to defray the expense of coinage, have, since 1837, been paid into the bank to the credit of the consolidated fund.
A new mint was erected on Towerhill in 1810. In 1815 some alterations were made in its constitution; and in 1851 a complete change was introduced in the whole system of administration. The control of the mint was vested in a master and a deputy master, and comptro'er. The mastership, which had in the early part of the present century become a political appointment held by an adherent of the government, was restored to the position of a permanent office, the master being the ostensible executive head of the establishment. The operative department was intrusted to the assayer, the melter, and the refiner. The moneyers, who had from early times enjoyed extensive privileges and exemptions, and were contractors with the crown for the execution of the coinage, were abolished, and the contracts with the crown were entered into by the master of the mint, who also made subordinate contracts for the actual manufacture of the coin. Further changes were made on the administration of the mint in 1869. The mastership was added to the duties of the chancellor of the exchequer, without any addition of salary, and the offices of deputy master and comptroller were amalgamated. A yearly saving of £10,000 is believed to have been effected by the changes of 1851, and a further £8,000 by those of 1869, with an increase of efficiency. It is at present in contemplation to remove the mint from Towerhill to the rear of the Thames embankment at Whitefriars, with new and improved machinery. Mints have lately been established at Sydney and Melbourne to coin the gold so largely found in Australia.
Processes of Coining.--Down to the middle of the 16th c. little or no improvement seems to have been made in the art of coining from the time of its invention. The metal was simply hammered into slips, which were afterwards cut up into squares of one size, and then forged round. The required impression was given to these by placing them in turn between two dies and striking them with a hammer. As it was not easy by this method to place the dies exactly above each other, or to apply proper force, coins 80 made were always faulty, and had the edges unfinished, which rendered them liable to be clipped. The first great step was the application of the screw, invented in 1553 by a French engraver of the name of Brucher. The plan was found expensive at first
, and it was not till 1662 that it altogether superseded the hammer in the English mint. The chief steps in coining as now practiced are as follows: The gold or silver to be coined is sent to the mint in the form of ingots (Ger. eingiessen, Du. ingieten, to pour in, to cast), or castings; those of gold weighing each about 180 oz., while the silver ingots are much larger. Before melting, each ingot is tested as to its purity by assaying (q.v.), and then weighed, and the results carefully recorded. For melting the gold, pots or crucibles of plumbago are used, made to contain each about 1200 oz. The pots being heated white in furnaces, the charge of gold is introduced along with the proper amount of copper (depending upon the state of purity of the gold as ascertained by the assay), to bring it to the standard, which is 22 parts of pure gold to 2 of copper (see ALLOY). The metal when melted is poured into iron molds, which form it into bars 21 in. long, 14 in. broad, and 1 in. ihick, if for sovereigns; and somewhat narrower if for half-sovereigns. For melting silver (the alloy of which is adjusted to the standard of 222 parts of silver to 18 of copper), malleable iron pots are used, and the meta! is cast into bars similar to those of gold.
The new copper, or rather bronze coinage, issued in 1860, is an alloy consisting of 95 parts of copper, 4 of tin, and 1 of zinc. The coins are only about hall the weight of their old copper representatives. The processes of casting and coining the bronze are essentially the same as the case of gold and silver.
The operation of rolling follows that of casting. It consists in repeatedly passing the bars between pairs of rollers with hardened steel surfaces, driven by steam power; the
rollers being brought closer and closer as the thickness becomes reduced. At a certain stage, as the bars become longer, they are cut into several lengths; and to remove the hardness induced by the pressure they are annealed. The finishing rollers are so exquisitely adjusted that the fillets (as the thinned bars are called) do not vary in thick. zess in any part more than the ten-thousandth part of an inch. The slips are still further reduced in the British mint at what is called the “draw-bench," where they are drawn between steel dies, as in wire-drawing, and are then exactly of the necessary thickness for the coin intended.
The fillets thus prepared are passed to the tryer, who, with a hand-punch, cuts a trialblank from each, and weighs it in a balance; and if it vary more than fth of a grain, the whole fillet is rejected.
For cutting out the blanks of which the coins are to be made, there are in the British mint 12 presses arranged in a circle, so that one wheel with driving cams, placed in the center, works the whole. The punches descend by pneumatic pressure, and the fillets Are fed into the presses by boys, each punch cutting out about 60 blanks a minute. The scrap left after the blanks are cut out, called scissel, is sent back to be remelted.
Each blank is afterwards weighed by the automaton balance—a beautiful and most accurate instrument, which was added to the mint about 30 years ago. It weighs 23
blanks per minute, and each to the 0.01 of a grain. The standard weight of a sovereign is 123.274 grains, but the mint can issue them above or below this to the extent of 0.2568 of a grain, which is called the remedy. Blanks which come within this limitare dropped by the machine into a "medium" box, and pass on to be coined. Those below the required weight are pushed into another box to be remelted, but those above it into another, and are reduced by filing. The correct blanks are afterwards rung on a sounding iron, and those which do not give a clear sound are rejected as dumb.
To insure their being properly milled on the edge, the blanks are pressed edgeways in a machine between two circular steel-plates, which raises the edges, and at the same time secures their being perfectly round. After this they are annealed to soften them, before they can be struck with dies; they are also put into a boiling pot of dilute sulphuric acid, to remove any oxide of copper from the surface. Subsequently they are washed with water, and dried with great care in hot sawdust, and finally in an oven at a temperature slightly above boiling water, Without these precautions, the beautiful bloom upon new coin could not be secured.
We now come to the press room, where the blanks receive the impression which makes them perfect coins. The coining press is shown in the fig., and there are eight of them in all, ranged in a row upon a strong foundation of masonry. CCB is the massive iron frame into which the screw Dworks, the upper part B being perforated to receive it. On the bottom of this screw the upper steel
die is fixed by a box, the lower die Coining-Press.
being fixed in another box attached
to the base of the press. The dies have, of course, the obverse and reverse of the coin upon them. See DIE SINKING. The blank coin is placed on the lower die, and receives the impression when the screw is turned round so as to press the two dies forcibly towards each other. A steel ring or collar contains the coin while it is being stamped, which preserves its circular form, and also effects the milling on the edge. In cases where letters are put on the edge of