PLANTS, THE EARTH & MINERALS.
PLANTS, THE EARTH & MINERALS.
THIRD SERIES OF CONSECUTIVE LESSONS;
Author of "The Circle of Knowledge," "The Scientific Class Book," Etc.
WILLIAM MACINTOSH, 24. PATERNOSTER ROW,
VARTY & COX, EDUCATIONAL DEPOSITORY, 3 ADELAIDE ST., STRAND
THE object of this series of books is somewhat different to that of the generality of lesson-books.
Each volume is confined to one subject, or a kindred one arising out of it, and each volume, subject and lesson, is strictly Consecutive, or founded on that which precedes it ; at the same time that each is independent of the others.
Each series is copiously illustrated; of the character of these illustrations a very high authority on such matters, P. L. Simmonds, Esq., in the Technologist, has said, they are "good, and what is more to the purpose are truthful."
The Lessons are those of "THE SCIENTIFIC CLASS BOOK," and most of them were originally drawn from the writings of authors of acknowledged eminence in their respective department of science. They thus present to pupils the means of acquiring knowledge from unquestionable sources, by a systematic process, while they afford that variety of style and composition which assists in forming fluent readers.
The volume from which these lessons are reprinted consists of 56O pages of close printing, and upwards of 300 wood-cuts, at a retail price of three shillings and sixpence; but it has been found that the price excludes it from many schools which would adopt it in separate divisions at an appropriate price.
It is hoped that the wishes of the public will be adequately met an the series of which this is the third volume.
The entire Series comprises the following Reading Books :-
I. MAN, HIS FRAME AND WANTS.
II. ANIMALS, THEIR NATURE AND USES.
UI. PLANTS, THE EARTH AND MINERALS.
IV. COSMOGRAPHY, NATIONAL AND SOCIAL LIFE.
SUBJECTS OF THE LESSONS.
1. Life of Plants
2. Endogens and Exogens
3. Trees and their Uses
5. The Bread Plants
7. Garden Produce
8. Medicinal Plants
9. Garden Flowers
10. Fungi, Algae, Lichens, &c,
11. Uses of Plants
12. Tea, Coffee, & Cocoa Plants
13. Tea, Coffee,& Cocoa Plants
14. Secretions of Plants.
15. Parts, and Growth of Vegetables
17. Vegetable Substances
18. Resins and Gums
19. Roots and Oils
20. The Palms of Ceylon
21. The Vegetable Year
22. The Atmosphere
24. Divisions of Land
25. Tracts of Land
26. Collections of Water
27. Water - its Changes, Nature, and Properties
28. Substance of the Earth
30. Extinct Animals
32. Earths, Salts,& their Uses
MINERALS, METALS, ETC
33. Metals and their Uses.
35. Combustible Minerals
36. Precious Stones
37. Kingdoms of Nature
38. Mineral Productions
39. Waste Materials
40. Materials of Little Value.
41. Nothing is Useless.
Wisdom of God in the Vegetable Creation
Various Uses of Trees
To a Dead Tree
On the Antipathies of Plants.
The Dial of Flowers
The Pet Plant
On the Fungi Tribe
Precepts of Flowers
The Language of Flowers
Sonnet from the Italian
To the Winds
The Silent Expression of Nature
Rise and Expanse of a River
The Treasures of the Deep
Wonders and Murmurs
To the Nautilus
The Nautilus & the Amunonite
The Iron Founders
Nature and its God
[Fig 1. Exogenous Vegetation.]
LIFE OF PLANTS.
Botanist - one who has a scientific knowledge of plants.
Vesicle - any small membranous cavity in plants or animals.
Aphorism - a truth briefly expressed.
Agglutinated - fastened together, as with glue.
Carbon - pure charcoal The diamond is the only form of pure carbon.
Hydrogen - a colourless combustible gas which, united with oxygen, forms water.
Oxygen - vital air; a gaseous body which gives air its properties of supporting life.
Nitrogen - a gas without colour, taste, or smell; the largest component of atmospheric air.
Aqueous - watery.
Permeate - to pass through, as water through stones or gravel.
FORMERLY, as the botanist looked around upon the infinitely varied vegetation of the world, and saw plants clothing the whole surface of the globe, in endless wealth of differing forms; the mighty oak and the minute duckweed, the baobab, said to be six thousand years old, and the fungus springing up in a night; all varying in conformation, in colour, in size, in duration, in every apparent particular - it seemed to him altogether hopeless to bring these marvellously different structures under one general law of production and of growth; or to trace the harmony of their functions.
But the microscope has brought new eyes to man; and after years of patient investigation, the great result was obtained, that the basis of all the vegetation of the world is a little closed vesicle, composed of a membrane usually transparent and colourless as water,- the vegetable cell.
At first, perhaps, this idea, so novel to the botanist of the old school, and apparently so opposed to the evidence of the unassisted vision, is difficult to grasp; but when we have satisfied ourselves, as we easily may, that even the hardest portions of vegetables - such as wood - are capable of being resolved into cells no less than the softest vegetable slime, and that the processes of production and nutrition are regulated in both by the same great laws, we begin to comprehend how marvellously this aphorism of the universality of the cell simplifies botanical research.
As the bulk of every plant, whether great or small, is only an aggregation of the separate cells; so the life of the whole plant is but the sum of the vitality of each individual cell. Every cell being, in itself, a distinct structure, carrying on independent vital processes, has, necessarily, an independent vitality; and thus in studying the life of a plant-cell individually, we shall also be contemplating the life of the whole plant.
The first necessity of cell-life is, of course, nutrition, and before the cells can be agglutinated together or increased in size, they must receive nourishment from without. The materials for this nourishment are chiefly gases, - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.
These four organic elements the plant-cell receives in the form of carbonic acid gas, atmospheric air, water, and ammonia; together with these it takes up certain salts and metals. The question which here presents itself is, how does this globular vesicle, which has no aperture, obtain these materials of nutrition; or, in other words, how do they arrive at the interior of the cell?
The first fact to be observed in solving this important problem is, that the cell receives no food which is not dissolved in water. All its nourishment is obtained by the absorption of a nutritive fluid - an aqueous solution of the materials mentioned. This function cannot be too strongly impressed on the mind; the passage of nutritive fluid through the walls of the cell is the universal means of growth in both the animal and vegetable kingdom; it is a process with the due performance of which the existence of the whole animal and vegetable creation is intimately connected.
It depends upon a physical law, with examples of which every one is familiar. If one end of a piece of sponge be immersed in water, the fluid will ascend throughout the cells of the sponge, and will moisten that part which is not so immersed. The same operation may be seen exemplified on dipping a lump of white sugar into water at one extremity. This law holds true of gases; and it explains the process by which the plant receives its nourishment.
The nutritive fluid, being brought in contact with the external wall of the cell, passes in by a process precisely similar to that which was seen in the sponge, and the sugar - travelling from one cell to the other until it permeates the whole plant. And, since the same holds true of gases, the aqueous vapour in the atmosphere is no less active in aiding in the nutrition of the plant, than the liquid water which is absorbed by the roots.
The plant-cell is acted upon by the sun, and we know that it rapidly and largely exhales watery vapour. The process of nutrition is, consequently, continually renewed; heat drawing off a great part of the water, and leaving in the cell the substances which it brought with it. So that the cell membrane being kept dry by the action of heat, while the atmosphere and earth are charged with moisture, it is perpetually absorbing fresh nutritive fluid.
This is the reason why the life of most plants is only active during the summer, when, the heat being greatest, evaporation is also greatest, the exhaling organs of the plants are put forth, and the processes of nutrition are vigorously carried on.
As this is effected by the agency of heat and light, it is easy to comprehend that in summer the plant is actively nourished, old cells perfected, the secretions of the cell produced, and new cells formed.
These new cells spring up between the cortex, or bark, and the first layer of cells internal to this cortex. It 1s by their agency that the process of absorption is so rapidly carried on. They receive the raw nutritive fluid, and exert such a chemical influence over it, that whatever remains in the cell is converted into a more highly organized fluid - the sap of the tree - and is absorbed by the inner and dry cells, which form out of this the secretions of the plant.
ENDOGENS AND EXOGENS.
Parallel - at equal dietancee.
Reticulated - resembling net-work.
Anomaly - irregularity, contradiction.
Longevity - long life.
Albumen - the white of an egg.
Aromatic - hot, warm, spicy.
Salep - an infusion of orchis roots, used in some parts of England as a beverage, deluge.
Concentric - parallel circles, or circles having one common centre.
Tropical - belonging to the tropics, the two circles parallel to the equator.
Chronology - the science of computing time and determining dates.
Antediluvian - existing before the deluge.
THE simplest division of plants is into Endogens, (inward growers) Exogens, (outward growers) and Acrogens, (top-growers.)
[Fig 2. Endogenous Leaf.]
Endogens are those plants whose leaves have all their veins parallel, and not reticulated, as grasses, the hyacinth, crocus, &c. If a cross section of the stem is examined, it presents no distinction of pith, wood, and bark, but a
confused mass of pithy matter. The development, or growth, being from within, it follows that the internal structure of the stem is the youngest and softest, while the external is the oldest and hardest; so that we have the anomaly of the heart-wood on the outside. The woody plants of this division which attain any considerable size are confined to the tropical regions, as the palms, the bamboos, and the common canes.
[Fig 3. Cross section of Endogenous Stem.]
[Fig 4. Longitudinal section of Endogenous Stem.]
The age of endogenous trees has been little studied. When the circumference of their stem is limited specifically, it is obvious that their lives will be limited also; and hence we find the longevity of palms inconsiderable when compared with that of exogenous trees. Two or three hundred years are estimated to form the extreme extent of life in a date-palm and in many others. But where, as in the Dragon Trees, the degree to which the stem will grow in diameter is indefinite, the age seems, as in Exogens, to be indefinite also.
Endogens probably contain more plants contributing to the food of man, and fewer poisonous species in proportion to their whole number, than Exogens. Grasses, with their floury albumen, form a large portion of this class, to which have to be added Palms yielding fruit, wine, sugar, sago; Arums, Arrow-roots, Amaryllids, &c., producing arrow-root; the nutritious fruit of Plantains; the aromatic secretions of Gingers; and Orchisworts, forming salep.
[Fig 5. Exogenous Leaf.]
Exogens are all those plants whose leaves have their veins branched, forming a sort of fine network; the dock, the currant, the oak, the elm, are examples.
A cross section of the stem of such plants will show that they contain pith in the centre, then a ring of wood, and on the outside, a covering of bark. In its growth an exogen gradually increases the thickness of its stem, by forming the new wood, over the old beneath the bark, in concentric circles; there being as many circles as the plant is years old. A large pro.. portion of the plants of Europe are exogens.
[Fig 6. Exogenous Stem, Horizontal section.]
[Fig 7. Exogenous Stem, Longitudinal section.]
The fresh layers of cells and the new circles which are formed every summer, in all exogens, except those of tropical climates, enable the woodman to name with unerring accuracy the age of a forest tree. But in climates where there are double seasons, the double growth and rest causes the trees to make two rings of wood during the year.
And an interesting deduction may be drawn from it, relative to the computing of the age of tropical trees. Every computation of the age of trees an the tropics must be made upon the basis of two concentric rings of wood being formed in the year; since there can be no reasonable doubt that every fresh set of leaves forms a new concentric ring. Otherwise, if made upon that of only one being formed, it will represent the trees to be twice the age they really are. But the computations that have hitherto been made (that is to say, those founded upon the number of concentric rings of wood - and all others are utterly worthless), have omitted to take into account this double formation, and, consequently, they represent the trees to be twice their actual age.
The above deduction possesses a peculiar interest, as it refutes a scientific argument of some pretensions against the chronology of the Bible. It shows that the reasoning is upon a false foundation which says that the Bible chronology is incorrect, because some tropical trees have been computed to be antediluvian, or more than five thousand years old; for those trees are only half the age the computations make them to be, or, in fact, of no greater antiquity than our oldest oaks.
Acrogens increase only at the top of the stem; that is, the stem is prolonged where the leaves are produced. The lower part of the stem does not increase in bulk as the plant increases in age. The tree-ferns are the beet example of acrogens. The term is applicable to those plants which are destitute of flowers, as ferns, mosses, &c.
[Fig 8. Endogenous Vegetation.]
TREES AND THEIR USES.
Dicotyledons - having seeds which divide into two lobes or distinct parts in germinating.
Monocotyledons - having only one seed-lobe.
Spicular - spiked, needle-shaped.
Pendulous - hanging, drooping.
Libanus - Lebanon, north of Palestine.
THE term Trees includes all those plants which attain a considerable stature, and possess stems more or less solid. They are, as all must know, by far the grandest objects in the vegetable world, and they are not amongst the least elegant.
The timber produced in the stems also renders them of very great importance in many of the industrial arts, and in none more so than in that which has enabled man, from ages beyond historical record, to transport himself across the bosom of the deep, and communicate from one land to another the various productions of the earth.
Trees are divided, with a regard to their structure, into two great sections. Some, which spring from seeds of more than one lobe, and grow by additional layers on the outside at the stem, are for these reasons respectively called Dicotyledonous or Exogenous trees, as the oak and beech; others, which spring from seeds of one lobe only, and grow by additions in the interior of the stem, as the palm and sugar-cane, are called Monocotyledonous or Endogenous trees.
A tree consists of two parts - the body or caudex, and the long branch-like fibres, great and small, which disperse themselves abroad into the soil.
The structure of the body of the root corresponds in a great measure with that of the stem, with the exceptions that no pith exists in roots, and that there are no regular joints or nodes for the production of buds. The rootlets terminate in slender, spongy threads (spongioles), fitted for absorbing the sap of the earth, and sending it up by the fibres, whence it ascends into the trunk; and it is observed that the soil is exhausted of its nourishing matter only in the neighbourhood of those soft extremities of the roots.
When the main root descends perpendicularly, it is called a tap-root; and when it divides just below the collar, it is called a branching-root. A tap-root is always sent down first by a seedling plant; but as the plant increases in size and strength, the tap-root seems to disappear, as it either changes its form, or is surrounded by other roots, which soon attain such a size and thickness as to render the original tap-root no longer distinguishable. This is the case with trees and shrubs which after the first few years, have in most cases branching-roots.
In common language, the trunk is often named the bole; and it is this part which affords the timber for which most trees are reared. The trunk, and also the branches, are covered with bark, consisting of a series of thin layers, one of which is formed, next the timber, every year; while on the outside of all is a very thin layer of a different substance, called the epidermis, or cuticle, analogous to the outer skin of the human body.
The new inner layer, which is formed every year, receives the name of liber; it was on this substance that the ancients, before the invention of printing, were accustomed to write; and liber, it is well known, is the latin word for a book. Within the bark is the wood, consisting chiefly of vessels, great and small, which may be torn asunder from each other, and which are employed in conveying sap to the upper extremities. In the centre of the trunk is a small space filled with a soft substance called pith, which is supposed to be a reservoir of nutritious matter for the development of buds in Spring.
Trees, may be classified according to their uses; for example -1. Trees which produce straight timber for masts and long planks - as the various tribes of pines. 2. Trees which afford crooked timber for knees or bends in the ribs of ships, &c. - as the oak, sweet chestnut, broad-leaved elm, &c. 3. Trees which give tough pieces of timber - as the yew, holly, thorn, ash, hickory, maple, laburnum, &c. 4. Hardwood trees - as the oak, beech, plane, walnut, box, and holly. 5. Soft-wood trees - as the poplar, willow, lime, horse-chestnut, &c. 8. Wood grown for flexible suckers and sprays, to form hoops, baskets, besoms, poles, &c. - as the dwarf willow, birch, &c. To these may be added woods of foreign growth - as rosewood, satinwood, and mahogany, which are employed for ornamental purposes.
According to another classification, trees are arranged as of three kinds-resinous, hard-wooded, and soft-wooded. Those which are resinous are also termed coniferous, from their producing seeds in cones.
There are three tribes of resinous or coniferous trees; one of which has four genera cultivated in the British islands - the Pinus, the Abies, the Larix, and Cedrus. Of each there are several species, all distinguished by their spicular leaves, their cone-like seed-vessels, and their resinous wood. Any of them may be easily raised in nurseries from seed. The most common species is the Scotch pine. - This is a tall and generally straight tree, with few branches on the lower part of the stem, the leaf apparatus being confined to the top of the plant, forming a massive clump. For strong beams and spars required by house-builders, this timber is exceedingly suitable; but for smoothness and whiteness of fibre it is excelled by a tree of inferior strength - the Canadian pine.
Spruce firs constitute a well-known genus of the Conifers, the more common being the Norway fir, a tree which attains great height, but no great bulk, and furnishes white deal and spars of inferior size; it is also very suitable for masts and poles of all kinds.
The Silver fir displays a greater depth of branches than the other firs, and becomes a majestic tree on arriving at full age. In this country the silver firs are only seen as objects of ornament on dressed ground; but how they would answer if planted closely together, and pruned up to form clear butts of timber, is uncertain.
Of that valuable genus the Larch, there are several species grown in Britain and other countries. The larch is the most beautiful in figure of any of this class of trees; shooting straight up, its elegant stem tapering to a point, furnished with pendulous branches, and ornamented with delicate drooping spray. Its qualities are rapid growth, flexibility, and durability in situations between wet and dry - a circumstance perhaps attributable to the quantity of resin in its fibre.
No timber-tree at present cultivated in our woods begins to repay the expense of culture so soon as the larch. It is a rapid growing tree, and is well adapted for almost every country purpose. It generally sells at nearly double the price per cubic foot that Scotch fir brings; and besides the price of the wood, the bark is available for tanning.
The Cedar is remarkable for its long horizontal and often crooked branches, and the great mass of dark-green apicular foliage with which it is covered. It is a native of the mountains of Libanus and other high adjacent regions, where it attains great bulk, and lives to a great age.
The Yew is more frequently grown as an ornamental than a forest-tree, and like the cedar, it is a plant suitable for places consecrated to solemn feeling. Its timber is very tough, and is adapted for making bows and staves; hence it is commonly ranked among hard-wooded trees.
TREES AND THEIR USE8. (CONTINUED.)
Atringent - binding or contracting.
Feudal lord — the owner of the soil, who was entitled to certain services from his vassals.
Vassals - the tenants of the feudal lord.
Veneering — overlaying a coarse or common wood with a thin layer of a finer kind.
The class of hard-wooded trees embraces — the oak, ash, elm, beech, chestnut, walnut, sycamore, mountain ash, hornbeam, acacia, birch, wild cherry, Scotch laburnum, holly, hazel, box, elder, and hawthorn.
The Oak is the most valuable of all the timber-trees grown in Britain, not only because it is a hardy native, but for the many important purposes to which its durable timber, its astringent bark, and even its nutritious fruit, are applicable; and, moreover, for the delight which it gives to the eye in sylvan landscapes, the oak being the most picturesque tree of the forest when it has arrived at its mature age and form, and is still clad with foliage.
The Ash is also a very valuable hard-wood tree, its timber being useful for many rural purposes, and particularly for implements and machines. The common ash, being prolific in ripening seed, is dispersed pretty generally over the face of the British Isles; it is nevertheless much better managed when planted for timber, or for underwood, unmixed with any other sort of tree.
The Elm is a lofty tree, valuable both for its use in the arts, and its ornamental appearance. The small-leaved, or English elm is generally preferred for planting, particularly in hedgerows, avenues, and the like.
The Beech when full grown is a beautiful and stately tree, and its timber is convertible into many kinds of domestic articles, very durable when polished by the cabinet-maker, and equally so if kept constantly under water. The beech is a very fruitful tree, and its mast or nuts, together with acorns, were used formerly to fatten vast droves of swine and herds of deer, the then common food of the feudal lord and his vassals.
The Chestnut, or sweet chestnut, sometimes also called the Spanish chestnut, is a splendid forest-tree, exceeding all other British plants in its huge mass of foliage; it is also valuable for its timber, which is but little inferior to the oak. In the south of Europe it is chiefly regarded as a fruit-tree; but in this country, the fruit ripens but imperfectly even in the finest summers.
The common Walnut is chiefly regarded as a fruit-tree, but it is no less valuable for its excellent timber, which, from its lightness and durability, is well adapted for gun-stocks. Where its fruit is of no great value, and especially where it does not ripen, if planted among other forest-trees it would be drawn up into a shapely stem.
The Sycamore, great Maple, or Plane-tree, is a hardy native tree, which attains a large size, and has the property of growing more quickly than most other hard woods. It is employed to form household utensils and objects in turnery.
The Mountain Ash, familiarly known in Scotland as the rowan-tree, from its beautiful clusters of red rowans or berries, is a tree of small dimensions, but elegant form, and is grown principally for ornament in shrubberies.
The Acacia is not only a highly ornamental, but also a highly valued timber-tree, when allowed to attain a proper size. It is a native of Virginia, where it is called the locust-tree. The timber is used by mill-wrights for cogs and other friction purposes.
The Wild Cherry tree is a hardy native, but is seldom cultivated as a timber-tree; nor has it that care bestowed upon it which it really deserves. The best specimens to be met with are those which have risen by accident in woods; and when such are felled, they are readily purchased by the cabinet-maker.
The Hornbeam is a forest-tree, but it ranks as an inferior one; its timber, however, is remarkably tough and durable, and consequently valuable to the plough and cart-wright.
The Birch is another inferior timber-tree, but useful as a coppice plant for many rural purposes. Its timber is readily bought up for gunpowder charcoal.
The Holly is a remarkably hardy evergreen, with smooth shining leaves furnished with prickly points. It is a native of Britain and attains a great age, but seldom reaches a large size. Its timber is white and hard, which renders it suitable for veneering, and for making mathematical instruments.
The Box is generally grown as an evergreen shrub, but when planted out with a proper soil and climate, it attains a height of twenty or thirty feet. It grows to perfection in Turkey, whence its timber is imported for use in all cases in which exceeding fine cross grain is required. Sawn across and planed, its surface is as smooth and fine as polished metal. Box blocks are on this account employed for wood-engraving.
Of soft-wooded trees, there are the horse-chestnut, lime, alder, poplar, willow. The Horse-Chestnut is only valued for the beauty of its flowers and the majestic port of the full-grown tree in park scenery. The timber is very inferior, and the nuts are only useful for deer.
The Lime, of which there are several varieties, is a beautiful leafy tree, grown chiefly for ornament, and very suitable for avenues.
The Alder requires a peculiar locality — that is, a damp bog-earthy soil; it is but seldom ranked among forest-trees, and except to occupy a spot where nothing much better will grow, is seldom noticed. It is most profitable kept as underwood; large poles, suitable for the turner, or for poles or planking for bridges, fetching a good price.
The Poplar. There are several species of this tree — as the common black poplar, the trembling poplar, the Lombardy poplar, and black Indian poplar. They grow rapidly, and rise a great height, but are narrow in mass, so as to be very conspicuous in hedgerows and landscapes.
The Willow is an extensive genus, comprehending those shrubby species, the osiers, used for basketwork.
The formation of wood depends mainly on the functions of the leaves being carried on properly, and this can only be effected by exposure to air and light. The more vigorously the plant grows, the better is the wood produced. Experiments made in the British dockyards proved that those oaks which had formed the thickest zones, yielded the best timber; and also that a plank of quick grown oak bore a greater weight than a similar plank of slow grown oak.
The Fruits produced in ordinary gardens under the climate of Britain are of three leading kinds — kernel fruits, of which the apple and pear are the principal; stone fruits, including the peach, apricot, plum, and cherry; berries, of which there are many species, as the gooseberry, currant, raspberry, and strawberry. The kernel and stone kinds are produced from trees, the others from shrubs or from herbaceous plants.
THE BREAD PLANTS.>
Cotyledons — the seed-leaf of a plant, which first appears above ground.
Albuminous — like the white of an egg.
Marine mammals - such as the seal, whale, walnut, &c
Extra tropical — beyond the tropics, north or south.
We call those bread-plants which contain in one or more parts of the structure a sufficient abundance of starch to furnish an essential article of food to man. The starch, or fecula, is that material which constitutes the principal mass of bread, although other substances usually occurring with it, as gluten and vegetable albumen, play an important part in regard to nutrition in a stricter sense, especially in the formation of muscle.
Starch consists of whitish transparent granules, composed of thin layers, and of various forms and sizes, which lie inside the cells of plants, and are coloured blue by a solution of iodine, while the membrane of the cell usually remains uncoloured. In the potato, which has uncommonly large granules, they acquire a diameter of one-twentieth of a line.
[Fig 9. Cocoa-nut Tree.]
The starch, or mealy substance, occurs sometimes in the cotyledons, that is the leaf-like parts which enclose the germ before the seed is developed, for example, in beans, peas, nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, horse-chestnuts, &c.; sometimes in the albuminous mass, the part which encloses the entire germ, within the coats of the seed, for example in the various kinds of grain, the buckwheat, and the cocoa-nut.
Sometimes the starch is found in the envelope of the seed (the fruit), for example in the bread-fruit, the banana, the date; sometimes in the interior of the stem, (as sago); lastly, sometimes in tubers, which may be portions of the roots of subterraneous stems, for example, yams, cassava, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, &c. Starchy matter does not occur in the leaves and flowers, at least not in such quantity as to be capable of affording bread-stuff.
There are countries with such unfavourable climatal conditions that they cannot produce any bread-plant, among others, the North Polar lands. Here dried fish principally takes the place of bread, and, combined with fresh fish and marine mammals, constitutes almost the sole food. We can imagine a line separating these regions from the bread-countries, and this line may be called the Bread-line. This does not by any means run parallel with the circles of latitude, but makes considerable curves towards the pole and equator.
If we wish to reduce the most important bread-plants into two principal classes, tropical and extra-tropical, the first class must contain the rice, plantain, yam, sweet potato, arrowroot, cassava, bread-fruit, sago, cocoa-nut, and date; the second will include wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, and potatoes; maize is common to both.
In regard to frequent occurrence, and to the number of human beings which the various bread-plants support, the rice among the grains, undoubtedly holds the first rank, then follow wheat and maize, and lastly rye, barley, and oats. Among the other bread-plants the plantain, yam, bread-fruit, and potato play the most important part.
The bread-plants exhibit a great difference in respect to fruitfulness. A comparison of even the different kinds of grain shows that the tropical yield more nourishment than the extra-tropical. While wheat yields on an average five or six fold in Northern Europe, and eight or ten fold in Southern Europe, and the rest of the European grains, in about the same proportion, maize yields in temperate climates eighty or a hundred fold, in the torrid zone three or four hundred fold, and rice a hundred fold. But the yield is more variable in these two grains than in the former; if drought ensues, the maize fails, and if the rainy season does not make its appearance, the rice is ruined. Hence great famine is frequent in India and China, especially since rice is so often the sole food in these regions.
The plantain yields 133 times as much food as wheat on the same area. Hence a small garden around the native’s hut is sufficient to feed a family. Within a year after it is planted it bears fruit; if the stem is then cut off, new ones spring up, which bear in three months. The banana is a dwarf variety of the plantain.
[Fig 10. Plantain and Banana.]
A cocoa-nut tree yields, on an average, thirty nuts a year, which is a considerable product, when we take into consideration the size of the nuts and the abundance of nutritious substance.
The bread-fruit tree yields fresh fruit for eight or nine months of the year; during the rest of the time, bread baked from the fruits, prepared like dough, is eaten; it is estimated that three trees are sufficient to feed one human being.
Captain Cook expressed himself in the following terms:
"If an inhabitant of the South Sea has planted ten bread-fruit trees during his life, he has fulfilled his duty towards his family as completely as a farmer among us, who has every year ploughed and sown, reaped and threshed; nay, he has not only provided bread for his own lifetime, but left his children a capital in trees."
[Fig 11. Bread-Fruit.]
It is still easier to provide bread in the eastern islands of the Asiatic Archipelago, where sago grows wild in the woods. When a native has satisfied himself, by boring a hole in the trunk, that the pith is ripe, the trunk is cut down and divided into several pieces, the pith is scraped out, mixed with water, and there is sago-meal perfectly ready for use. A tree commonly yields 300lbs., and sometimes 500lbs. or 600lbs. Thus a man goes into the woods and cuts his bread as we hew our firewood.
[Fig 12. The Sago-Palm.]
Indian corn, or maize, is the peculiar crop of North America; its export is fast becoming the preventive check of famine throughout the world. Whenever Europe is short of food America is ready to supply the deficiency with the excess of her corn-crop. No plant is more beautiful, and none so well suited to the varieties of the climate. It is the food both of man and animals, and even its stalks, by proper treatment, have been rendered equal in value to the whole labour and expense of raising the crop. To maize America is indebted for her fine beef, her plentiful supply of pork, and for her abundance of human food.
Columbus found the natives of Hispaniola cultivating it in extensive fields, and those of other places first visited by him were also in possession of it. The higher civilisation of the Europeans quickly recognised its value as food for man and beast, improved its culture, and invented machines for shelling it rapidly and grinding it cheaply, thus raising it to a position so important, that if the whole wheat crop of America were suddenly annihilated, the maize crop alone would supply the people plenteously with food.
The facility for obtaining bread seems to stand in inverse proportion to civilisation. Other causes certainly exist, especially the differences of national character, determining the degree of civilisation in most of those regions where nature is so bountiful; but the superabundance of nature herself undoubtedly contributes to lessen the energy of man. Strife against nature, when not too hard, advances civilisation.
THE BREAD PLANTS. (CONTINUED.)
Caucasus — a range of mountains in Asia between the Black Sea and he Caspian Sea.
Scandinavia — Sweden and Norway.
HISTORY has not preserved records of those who first used the bread-plants, or who first planted them; for history could not come into existence until mankind had satisfied the first necessities.
It is a remarkable fact that we are still in uncertainty whether the different kinds of grain still grow wild in the old world, and if so in what region this occurs. Even the authors of antiquity were at variance as to whence wheat and barley, the chiefly-used grain at that time, had been derived, and in the various settlements less regard seems to have been paid to actual facts, than to the fertility of the countries, and the desire to secure for the native land of the writer the honour of having furnished so great a gift to mankind.
[Fig 13. Wheat.]
[Fig 14. Barley.]
[Fig 15. Oats.]
[Fig 16. Rye.]
The same uncertainty still prevails respecting wheat and barley, and also as regards oats and rye. It was Supposed that the rye had been found wild upon the Caucasus, but later observations have shown that this wild plant is different from the cultivated, particularly in having the central stem of the ear so brittle that it cannot be threshed. A wild rye is also found in Sicily, but this too has characteristics by which it differs from the cultivated kind.
Maize was already diffused over North and South America when the New World was discovered, and the statements which have recently been made respecting its occurrence as a wild plant in Paraguay, leave the same doubt as to whether it is not merely an outcast from cultivation, which we meet with in respect to the grains of the Old World.
[Fig 17. Maize.]
[Fig 18. Rice.]
Rice seems indeed to have its home in India, whether, however, the statement of the Danish missionary, Klein, that he had found it wild there, is sufficient testimony, for similar reasons remains doubtful. Most of the accounts which we had of potatoes growing wild in Chili, Peru, and Mexico, have since proved to be unfounded, for it has been discovered that those referred to other species of the numerous genus to which the potato belongs.
[Fig 19. Cluster of Dates.]
On the other hand, the date-palm grows wild in Africa and Arabia; the cocoa-nut in India, Ceylon, and the whole of Polynesia and Oceania; the sago-palm in the East Indian Archipelago; but all these occur in a more confined region of distribution than is occupied by the plants as now cultivated.
The bread-fruit tree, which occurs the Indian Archipelago, and the buckwheat, which is found wild in Siberia, near the Chinese border, may also be included among the bread-plants, which are known to occur still in a wild condition.
The most important bread-plants of the present and the past might be represented on different maps, just as we have maps of ancient and modern geography. Comparisons of them would show the migrations of the bread-plants, and interchange of them between the various countries and quarters of the globe.
In the countries of the Mediterranean (Italy, Greece, Northern Africa, and Western Asia) wheat and barley were the ordinary, and very widely-diffused grains of antiquity. We find mention of them in the oldest writings, in the Bible, and representations of them in monuments of the earliest times. Millet was also known then, but played then, as now, a subordinate part. They had not rice at that time; it was known only as an Indian plant; the American grain — maize, was of course unknown at that time; of rye (which even now is little cultivated there) no certain traces are found.
Central and Northern Europe had very little corn-culture at that time; and in the same way as barley and oats now furnish bread in the northernmost parts of Scandinavia and Scotland, the ancient Germans lived upon oat-groats. Rye seems to have come into Northern Europe at the time of the migrations of races from the Caucasian countries, without having entered the lands of the Mediterranean; and wheat appears to have migrated at a later period from the south to the north of Europe, chiefly by way of France.
[Fig 20. Date Palm.]
In Africa, south of Atlas, the date-palm prevailed then as it does now. Durra, a kind of millet, which is now extensively diffused in North Africa, has been derived either from Nubia or Western Asia.
India, as we see from the writings of antiquity, had then, as now, rice for the principal article of food; the plantain grew there likewise, probably also the yam.
Before the discovery of America, the principal material for bread in this part of the globe was maize, also cassava, possibly yams, and potatoes.
The great conquests of the Arabs in North Africa, Spain, Sicily, and other lands of the Mediterranean, brought rice from India, first to Egypt, and afterwards to the south of Europe; they brought also the plantain from India to Western Asia, Egypt, and Barbary; by them was the durra, or, as they called it, the Moorish millet, diffused over the countries of the Mediterranean, especially North Africa and Portugal.
The discovery of the road to India, southward of Africa, caused a far greater revolution, but above all the discovery of America.
Maize was introduced from America, and became diffused with extraordinary rapidity over all the Mediterranean countries, some parts of Central Europe, nay, it even found its way to China and Japan, and into the interior of Africa. The potato became known much more slowly through Northern Europe and Northern Asia. Cassava was brought from America to the tropical regions of Africa and Asia.
In return for these great gifts, America obtained the supposed European grains, which the colonists diffused and continue to diffuse in North America, the temperate parts of South America, and over those elevated regions within the tropics which have a temperate climate.
Brazil, Carolina, and other regions, thus obtained rice, which at present constitutes so important an article of cultivation there. America also acquired the plantain; some, however, believe that one species of plantain is a native of America.
The European colonists also conveyed wheat and other European grains to the Cape Colony, and, after the colonisation of New Holland and Van Dieman’s Land, to the temperate regions there.
Horticulture - the art of cultivating gardens.
Agriculture — the art of cultivating land so as to raise crops for man and beast.
GARDEN husbandry is a branch of horticulture, the object of which is to raise fruits, vegetables, and seeds for profit on a smaller extent of ground than is usually occupied for the purposes of agriculture.
The best examples of this kind of industry are found among the market-gardeners near populous towns. By the application of much manual labour and an abundant supply of manure they accelerate the growth of vegetables, and produce them more abundantly than where manure is not so easily obtained, or where there is not so large a demand for the produce.
The gardeners’ year properly begins in autumn, when the land is dug, or rather trenched, and well manured. Various vegetables, which will be required in winter, are now sown, and especially those which are to produce plants to be set out in spring; spinach, onions, radishes, and winter salads are sown, and when the weather is severe, are protected by a alight covering of straw or mats.
In February, the cauliflowers which have been raised in frames or under hand-glasses are planted out. The cabbage plants are pricked out. The radishes, onions, and salads are sent to market as soon as they are of sufficient size, and cabbages succeed them.
As the cauliflowers are taken off, they are succeeded by endive and celery, and the same is the case with the cabbages. Thus there is a constant succession of vegetables, without one moment’s respite to the ground, which, in consequence of continual stirring and manuring, maintains its productive power.
Deep trenching in some degree prevents that peculiar deterioration of the soil which would be the consequence of the frequent repetition of similar plants. This effect in most perceptible when the plants perfect their seed, which is seldom or never allowed to take place in market gardens; but great attention is paid to the species of plants which succeed each other on the same spot.
The principle which experience and theory unite in establishing, is that of avoiding the too frequent recurrence of plants which belong to the same natural families. The great variety cultivated in gardens, in comparison with the common produce on a farm, enables this principle to be fully acted upon.
Those gardeners who overlook this, and repeatedly sow or plant the same kind of vegetables in the same spots, are soon aware of their error by the diminution of the produce, both in quantity and quality, and by various diseases which attack the plants, however abundant may be the food supplied to them, or careful the tillage.
The principle on which market gardens are cultivated, is that of forcing vegetation by means of an abundant supply of dung, constant tillage, and occasional watering. The whole surface is converted into a species of hotbed; and crop succeeds crop with a rapidity which is truly astonishing.
Those vegetables which arrive at a marketable state in the least time are always the most profitable, and those also for which there is a constant demand at all times of the year. With an abundant supply of manure, the market gardeners have no fear of exhausting the soil; and dissimilar vegetables may grow together on the same ground.
Trees bearing fruit may be planted in rows, especially those of the dwarf kind; and under them those vegetables which do not require much sun may be raised to advantage. This is a very common arrangement in the market gardens near London. Raspberries, gooseberries, and currants, are planted in the rows between the trees. These rows being thirty or forty feet apart, leave ample room for vegetables.
But in those gardens where the finest vegetables are raised, and particularly in those which are appropriated to the growth of seeds, no trees are permitted to shade the ground: even the hedges, if there are any, are kept low and clipped, that they may not give any shade, or harbour small birds.
The market gardeners near London do not raise many peas or beans, except such as are forced and require glass frames to protect them. The chief supply of peas in the season comes from a greater distance, and is the produce of whole fields sown for that purpose by the farmers within a moderate distance of London. This crop would not be so profitable in a confined garden cultivated at a great expense.
The value of the produce in one year, from an acre of garden-ground in the most favourable situation, is almost incredible. But the expenses of cultivation are very great. In inferior situations, where the produce is less, the expenses are also somewhat less.
An abundant supply of manure is indispensable in a market garden, and this can generally be obtained in large towns at a trifling expense. The neighbourhood of a town is therefore a necessary circumstance towards the production of the crop, as well as its sale. It would be impossible to make a sufficient quantity of manure by means of the horses which are employed to carry the produce to market; and the extent of land usually laid out in garden-ground could not raise sufficient food for cattle, without taking up space which might be more profitably employed.
The only animal which can be kept to advantage by a gardener is a pig. This animal will live well on the offal of vegetables; and the gardens of cottagers could not be well kept in a fertile state if it were not for the manure made by the pigs.
The profits of a garden near London, to the extent of ten or twelve acres, are as great as that of a farm of ten times the extent cultivated in the best manner, without the help of purchased manure. But if manure can be obtained at a reasonable rate, as is often the case in great thoroughfares, where many horses are kept for public conveyances, although there be no immediate demand for vegetables, a garden may be very profitably cultivated, entirely for the purpose of raising seeds.
This branch of industry is the more worthy of notice, as it may enable a cottager to improve his situation greatly by the produce of a small garden, or allotment of land. The demand for seeds of all the most common productions of a garden, and especially of flowers, is great beyond belief, and the profit of those who retail them in small quantities is so great that they can afford a liberal price to those who raise them with proper care so as to keep the varieties distinct.
The cottager who is acquainted with the means of raising early garden produce, who can graft young trees, who knows what plants may be propagated with a little care, and be readily sold when in perfection, can employ his labour with a double advantage. And many a man, from a very small beginning, has, with a moderate share of judgment and prudence raised himself to independence, if not to affluence; while he who plods on in the beaten track, like a horse in a mill, ends his days in ignorance and poverty.
The great superiority of those schools which have been established to teach the children of the poor to work as well as to read, over those which teach book knowledge only, is indisputable. A boy who can manage a little garden, who takes a pleasure in watching the seed he has sown, who plucks out every weed as soon as it appears, and who prides himself on the fruit and vegetables which he can place on his father’s table, is more advanced in his education than he who can only read and write, however well he may do both.
It has been stated that 600,000 pottles of strawberries; 40,000,000 of cabbages; 2,000,000 of cauliflowers; 300,000 bushels of peas; 750,000 lettuces, and 500,000 bushels of onions are sold in Covent Garden market annually; and that the annual amount of money paid for fruits and vegetables in this market cannot be less than £3,000,000 sterling.
[Fig 21. Hemlock.]
The healing art was first practised in a very natural and simple manner. In former times, when it was believed that the cure of almost every disease might be effected by the application of preparations from herbs and flowers, the plants were quaintly denominated after the disease they were supposed capable of curing; such as, all-heal, break-stone, bruise-wort, gout-weed, fever-weed, &c. Our forefathers had also plants which were thought equally serviceable in healing mental disorders, and were accordingly called heart’s-ease, loose-strife, true-love, &e.
The medicinal properties of plants depend upon the formation, in their juice, or sap, of certain substances which are called active principles, and which can sometimes be separated from the rest of the plant, and used alone. Thus quinine is the active principle of Peruvian bark; morphia is the active principle of opium.
Generally speaking, however, a very costly and troublesome process is required in order to separate the active principle of a plant in a state of purity; and in practice. it is found sufficient to dissolve it by water, or spirit of wine. For this purpose the part of the plant which contains most of its active principle (and this may be either the flower, leaf, stem, root, or seed) is bruised, or powdered, or cut into small pieces, and either boiled or soaked, in the liquid used, for a sufficient time. If it be boiled, the result is called a decoction, if soaked, an infusion.
[Fig 22. Henbane.]
[Fig 23. Foxglove.]
Infusions made with water, besides dissolving the active principles, dissolve also gum, starch, and other substances that exist in all plants. They soon turn sour, become mouldy, and spoil; but they may be preserved longer by heating them until a great deal of the water is dried up, and the remainder becomes firm, or almost solid. This remainder is called an extract. Decoctions or infusions made with spirit are called tinctures; and these will keep good for a very long time. Some active principles dissolve most easily in water, others in spirit. Some plants are used as medicines in the form of powder, without any other preparation.
There are a great many medicinal plants in England, and they were very much used in former times. But it is found that plants of the same kind, obtained from warmer countries, are more certain in their effects; and, from their being of greater strength, they can be given to sick people in smaller quantities. Hence many of the English medicinal plants have fallen into disuse; but there are a few in constant employment. Hemlock, henbane, foxglove, meadow saffron, and nightshade, are the most important of these; and they are all powerful poisons.
[Fig 24. Meadow Saffron.]
[Fig 25. Nightshade.]
The effects of medicinal plants upon man and animals are very various. Some are purgative, some produce sickness, and are called emetics, some strengthen the body, and others depress or weaken it. In order to use them to advantage much skill and experience are required; and there are many that if given in improper doses, or to persons not requiring them, may be injurious or even fatal. Hence the necessity for medical practitioners, who have made the action of drugs their study.
Medicines, for the most part are only artificial methods of getting nature to do that which, when she has fair play, she will do better without their assistance, except in those specific maladies which really require the resources of the medical art. The best purpose of seeking advice is to be directed how to do without it.
We may do more to maintain health by proper diet, pure air, suitable clothing, and cleanliness, than by medicine. This is the key—stone of all successful treatment; by it the physician corrects or modifies constitutional disorders, as well as support.. the patient with the strength he requires to contend against the exhausting effects of disease.
STRANGE as it may appear, the flowers which are fragrant are very numerous, yet not two are alike in their perfume, and all are easily distinguished, although alike sweet. The violet, the mignonette. stock, wallflower, hyacinth, narcissus, carnation, clove, pink, rose, jasmine, clematis, honeysuckle, the May blossom, the sweetbrier of the hedges, and the wild convolvolus of the banks, are alike remarkable for some distinct scent.
We could greatly prolong the list of even familiar flowers, which, independent of their beauty, are richly fragrant, and yet perfectly unlike each other.
No wonder that these are favourites, for they gratify the sight and the smell, and it is no uncommon thing to hear loud regrets that the dahlia, the hollyhock, the camellia, and other gay flowers, are in that respect deficient, and many foolishly say of each, "what a pity, it has no smell !"
Now, considering there are so many rich in perfume, there is something covetous in the idea, and we should like to ask these good people what perfume they would have? To wish it to be the same as we already enjoy in other flowers, would be ridiculous, and the best scent that a perfumer could invent would be poor in comparison with the rich perfume of all the flowers we have mentioned.
Many of these fragrant flowers are of the easiest culture. The rose, the honeysuckle, the clematis, and the jasmine, only want planting where they are to stand, and may be allowed to climb up the house, or over a doorway, or verandah, and be merely fastened or supported as they advance, and each of them will, during the bloom, be a welcome contributor of its aroma.
The hyacinth and narcissus simply require planting in the open ground three inches deep, and no more care whatever, for they will make an early appearance. The violet once planted will of itself increase and spread, until, if allowed, it will take possession of all the border.
Mignonette seed may be sprinkled over the surface of any spot in the garden and left to itself; it will come up strong like so many weeds, and all the necessary attention afterwards, consists in pulling up some of the plants where they are too close, for otherwise they will kill each other; six inches apart is near enough.
Pinks, wallflowers, carnations, or cloves, may be purchased cheaply at a nursery, and carefully planted out where they are to bloom, or, if wanted in quantity, raised from seeds; but you may not have many double or good, though the worst will be equally rich in its perfume.
The sweetbrier, which, after a shower of rain, fills the surrounding space with the most grateful scent, has only to be planted — it wants nothing more, but will grow luxuriantly, and may be clipped to restrain it within bounds when it gets too large.
And all these are hardy sweets that scarcely any amount of frost will kill, and which call for little care and less labour. We are to presume the ground has been made proper for their reception, and beyond this they do for themselves. Long stems, that the wind might break, may be protected with neat sticks, the climbing plants must be nailed or tied as they advance, but none of them want more than a mere lover of flowers can do for them.
"Cherry-pie," as the Heliotrope is ca1led, and some other sweets of the greenhouse, may be planted out in May, but we can find many plants besides this among the more tender subjects. The orange blossom is remarkably fragrant, and the peculiarity runs through all the tribe of lime, lemon, and citron.
Daphne Indica is a very sweet-smelling plant, and what has been called the lemon-scented verbena, which, by the way, is not a verbena at all, is a universal favourite, and so strong, that merely touching the foliage accidentally with the dress as you pass, fills the locality around it with the moat refreshing scent of lemons. In this case the perfume is all in the leaves. Brugmansia Suaveolens has so powerful an aroma, that one bloom will scent a very large conservatory. This makes a fine plant out of doors, if planted in May.
But we might go on to a great extent, enumerating highly-scented flowers. We have, however, confined ourselves chiefly to those which are popular and familiar. Every lover of flowers may grow the hardy ones with scarcely any other trouble than committing the seeds or the plants to the ground.
In the greater number of plants, flowering takes place, during the flowering season, indiscriminately, at all hours of the day; and the flowers once opened, remain open, even during night, till they fade. In many plants, however, a sleep of flowers takes place; they open and close with the returns of day and night. Thus, sunflowers open in the morning, and close towards evening; whilst there are other flowers which open in the evening, and close in the morning. Others also open and close at certain hours of the day; thus the flowers of the common purslane open about 11 o'clock A.M., and close soon after midday.
In a few plants, the sleeping and waking of the flowers are regulated by the conditions of the weather. The waking and sleeping of flowers either continues for several days in succession, as in some species of Mesembryanthemum; or the brief life of the flower ends when it first sleeps, as in the Tiger-flower.
The odours of flowers, extremely various, often delightful, and sometimes very offensive, are in some cases equally powerful as long as the flower is open; in others, they vary in strength at different times of the day.
FUNGI, ALGAE, LICHENS, MOSSES, FERNS.
Cryptogamic — an order of plants in which the distinction of sexes is not found.
Phenomenon - a natural appearance.
Arctic - Northern
Germination - beginning of growth.
Parasite - one who lives on others.
Fructify - to render fruitful.
Spores - the minute sees of flowerless plants.
THE crypogamic plants belong to the third division of the vegetable kingdom — that of ACROGENS; they have no flowers, and except the ferns, neither leaves nor stems.
[Fig 26. Fungi.]
The FUNGI, which are usually placed at the very bottom of the vegetable scale, are observable in a great variety of forms — among others as mushrooms, toadstools, puff-balls, the fungous dry-rot, fermentation, mildew, and mould. We may take the last-mentioned as the lowest of the group. Mould, as most persons are aware, makes its appearance on the surface of various familiar objects - decaying paste, fruit-preserves, cheese, old shoes, &c. It never appears
on anything which is new or fresh, but is always a harbinger of decay, and may be considered a first step towards the decomposition of the substance into its constituent elements.
The fungous vegetation observable in the case of mould and fermentation, is not more simple than that of some kinds of alga, mosses, and lichens. These are of the very humblest order, and assume forms so minute and peculiar, as almost to baffle inquiry, even with very powerful microscopes.
[Fig 27. Red Snow, magnified.]
The algae embrace the most minute forms of vegetation (not of a fungous character), One of these forms is that which has vulgarly been called red snow, or bloody rain. A shower of red-coloured rain or snow is by no means a rare phenomenon in the northern parts of Europe, or within the arctic circle; and the colouring matter, which has been accurately examined, is found to proceed either from the incorporation of vegetables or of animalcules, both too small to be seen by the naked eye.
On the stones by the side of brooks, we may sometimes observe a similar reddish colouring matter, which, if not caused by metallic ores, will generally be found to be a primitive kind of vegetation. When touched, it feels slippery, and on examination by a microscope, it is observed to consist of myriads of plants, each consisting of a small vesicle or globule, which, on arriving at maturity, expands, bursts, and liberates plants of its own species. This extremely humble plant is classed with the algae, as being the nearest to it in character, although these plants are for the most part of a large size, and grow principally on rocks in the sea.
The object which nature has in view by the germination and dispersal of the algae, mosses, and lichens, is clearly that of preparing the way for a higher order of vegetation; this tendency to vegetate is a power restless and perpetual. We hew a stone from the quarry and place it in a damp situation, on the ground, or in a wall, and shortly a green hue begins to creep over it. This is the commencement of a vegetable growth, produced by germs floated in the atmosphere, and which, being attached at random to the stone, have been brought to life through the agency of the moisture.
Other stones equally exposed, but in dry situations, have also received a clothing of these germs, but circumstances not being suitable, they have not been developed: give moisture, and they will immediately appear. We hew another stone from the quarry, and build it into the pier of a bridge, just beneath the surface of the water. Shortly, the same kind of green algae will appear; but the wet being in greater abundance and more continuous, the growth will become more luxuriant, instead of the simple green hue, we have the addition of long filaments resembling green hairs, which float and accommodate themselves to the water around. Plants of this kind, which are known to naturalists as the confervae, propagate, like others of the cryptogamia, by a rupture of their tissue, and the liberation of germs, which become plants of the same species.
[Fig 28. Confervae, magnified.]
[Fig 29. Scaly Lichen.]
Lichens are a numerous family of plants, and put on various appearances. Their usual aspect is a dry scaly crust of a grey or yellow hue, and their appropriate place of growth is on old walls, gravestones in church-yards, and rocks; they are also seen growing on the trunks of old trees. Their structure is very simple: each plant consists of a membranous scale, or frond, divided into lobes, and they cling to the object on which they grow by means of small filamentous roots, which insinuate themselves into the most minute crevices. Growing usually as parasites on some kind of hard substance, they derive their nourishment exclusively from the atmosphere, and only require pure air and the sun’s light, with a fair proportion of moisture, for their subsistence.
The tenacity with which lichens adhere to their situation renders it difficult to scrape them from stones by art; but as light and air are essential to their subsistence, they may be easily removed by covering them over for a short time with a turf or quantity of earth. Grave-stones whose inscriptions have been obliterated by lichens, may by this expedient be completely cleared from their growth. Liverworts are a superior kind of lichens, possessing leafy fronds, and expanding to greater dimensions; they also seem to grow best in situations somewhat damp.
[Fig 30. Liverwort.]
[Fig 31. Urn Moss.]
[Fig 32. Club Moss.]
Mosses are plants a stage higher in structure and functions, and generally require a greater quantity of heat, air, moisture, and soil for their growth. With moss-plants the rudimental characters of roots, stem, branches, and leaves commence. Mosses have a bright green colour, a proof of the activity of their leaves or breathing apparatus; and their slender stems, with minute feathery branches, are among the most elegant structures of vegetable growth.
Mosses fructify in a peculiar manner. On examining a soft green mass of moss, we may at certain seasons observe a forest of small thin stalks raised considerably above the general level. These are the seed stems. At the top of each is a small pouch containing the seed, and covered over with a lid or veil, which drops off when the fructifying matter is ripe, and suffers it to escape. By being elevated in this manner, and freely exposed to the wind, means are afforded for scattering the seeds.
[Fig 33. Fern.]
Ferns are the highest group of Acrogens. This extensive class of plants is known only in this country by herbaceous varieties, or such as have their stem or root in the ground, and present to ‘view a series of leaves only. But in hotter climes the stem is above ground, and often attains the height of fifty or sixty feet, and a diameter greater than that of a man’s thigh. The leaves are termed fronds, and they bear the organs of fructification in little cups or receptacles, on their edges, or on their under surface, called sori (or seed-cases) consisting of cells which are termed spores or sporules, from which new plants are directly produced.
USES OF PLANTS.
THE uses of Plants are far more numerous than have yet been considered, they charm us by the beauty of their forms, the richness of their shades, and the pleasure they spread around our habitations ;— they afford delight, without leaving behind any inquietude. For us the rose kindly unfolds to view her smiling colours; the pink at the same time flatters our sight and our smell by its agreeable emanations; and a thousand other flowers, of different hues and forms, and odours, present themselves to our notice.
Fruit-trees, after gratifying our sight, deposit into our hands the most delicious food; the waving corn and golden sheaves delight every heart; and we meet, too, with other kindly vegetables, which can assuage our pain and cure our maladies.
In vegetables we discover the foundation of the linen which we wear, of the paper which hands down to us the wisdom of ages, and of dyes which impress on our garments their brilliant colours.
To plants we are indebted for the wood which warms us in Winter. Without timber our houses could scarcely have been constructed; and when timber is fashioned into ships, the world, which, with its produce, was before separated from us by a vast expanse of water, is now brought near.
That singular plant, the Bamboo, is scarcely less the friend of man, where it grows, than the dog among animals or iron among minerals. It is convertible to ends without number, while it also appears to have been formed for every one of those ends. Tenacious, light, strong in material, it has also been disposed, like the quill of a feather, in the mathematical form of strength.
And, as if intended for the use of savage man, as yet without knowledge or tools it is ready wrought to his hands, symmetrical, and even ornamental; planed, turned, filleted, polished, varnished. Thus is it a beam, a plank, a pillar, a mast, a yard, a floor, a fence, a house, a pipe, a bottle, a cup, a kettle, a musical instrument, and even an article of food: while its wonderful profusion and rapidity of growth render it a resource for every purpose.
In no condition could man have overlooked what was thus prepared for him: and if the Bamboo was not specially provided for the use of man, then is there nothing of which we can assume this, from the cotton by which he is clothed, to the rice by which he is fed. And, like the fruits which demand no cultivation, this ready-wrought material seems to have been appointed to situations where man was yet new in the world, or where he was destined to increase as an uninstructed being.
[34. The Traveller's Tree.]
The Traveller’s Tree of Madagascar is another example of a natural product for uncivilized man. During the most arid season it supplies a large quantity of pure fresh water to the traveller. Mr. Ellis says, "during my journey we stopped near a clump of these trees. One of my bearers stuck a spear four or five inches deep into the thick firm end of the stalk of the leaf, about six inches above its junction with the trunk, and on drawing it back, a stream of clear water gushed out, about a quart of which we caught in a pitcher, and all drank of it on the spot. It was cool, clear, and perfectly sweet."
In Madagascar, this tree might with propriety be called the builder’s tree. Its leaves form the thatch of all the houses on the eastern side of the island. The stems of the leaves form the partitions and often the sides of the houses; and the hard outside bark, beaten out fiat, is laid for flooring. The leaf when green is used as a wrapper for packages and keeps out the rain. Large quantities are sold in the markets, as it serves the purpose of table-cloth, and plates at meals; and folded into certain forms, is used instead of spoons and drinking vessels.
[Fig 35. Cocoa-nut.]
Not only have the fibres of the Cocoa-nut been prepared that man might find cordage, but they are so palpable that he cannot overlook them. If that were
possible, the Rattan is a cord made for him, and its parallels are widely spread, even to our own Willows and Heaths. If he has not the Cocoa, the fibres of the Aloe are before him: he needs not even search for them, since they are ordained to leave the plant, of themselves.
No one could have expected strength of fibre in a plant so apparently tender, feeble, and insignificant as Flax: and did not He who arranged its parallel fibres, adding to strength, delicacy, fairness, and brilliancy, also ordain, that, like Wheat, it should find a climate far and wide, from Egypt even to the frozen Baltic; a climate extensive as its uses and value? Nor can we look at Hemp, nor reflect on the great moral and political uses with which, like iron and coal, it is inseparably united, without believing that it was created for our use, though, unlike the Cocoa and the Aloe, it was reserved for man in a state of improvement.
[Fig 36. Flax-plant.]
[Fig 37. Cotton-plant.]
In Cotton, we find an extremely obvious substance: yet, like Hemp, not fitted for uncultivated man: while its adaptation to the inhabitant of the climates where it grows, has not confined its use to those countries. It has become one of the greatest engines of commerce and industry which the world affords: a source of power and of moral and political effects so enormous, independently of its absolute uses, that we must look on it as one of those great hinges ordained by the Creator, upon which man’s condition in the world was to turn.
On the other hand, we find in the Paper Mulberry a singular clothing, almost ready prepared for man in his savage state, as the Bamboo has been ordained for his dwelling, and the Talipat to shelter him from the rains. And this singular tree has also been given by Providence to islands of an origin so peculiar and recent, that none of the animals which furnish him with clothing could have existed in them, except through a system of creation which He has not thought fit to adopt. Here, too, the facility of the discovery is such, that the applications could scarcely have been overlooked.
THE TEA, COFFEE, AND COCOA PLANTS.
(ABRIDGED FROM JOHNSON'S "CHEMISTRY OF COMMON LIFE.")
Energetic — acting with force, vigorous.
Tissues - the substances of which systems of organs, as bones, muscles &c. are composed.
THE beverages we infuse naturally arrange themselves into three classes. First, the teas or infusions of leaves. Second, the coffees or infusions of seeds. And third, the cocoas, which are more properly soups or gruels than simple infusions, as they are made by diffusing, through boiling water, the entire seeds of certain plants previou8ly ground into a paste.
Of teas there are many varieties in use in different parts of the world; but China tea, Paraguay tea or mate, and perhaps coffee-tea, are the most extensively consumed as national beverages.
China Tea is not only the most important of these beverages to the British and other English-speaking peoples, but it forms the daily drink of a larger number of men than all the others put together. Among the three hundred millions of China, and among the inhabitants of Japan, Thibet, and Nepaul, it is an article of consumption with all classes three or four times a-day. In Asiatic Russia also, in a large portion of Europe, in North America, and in Australasia, it is in, or is coming into, almost equally extensive use. It is consumed at the present moment by probably not less than five hundred millions of men, or one-half of the whole human race.
There are several varieties of the tea-plant, but all are now recognised as belonging to one single species, somewhat altered in habit and appearance by cultivation, climate, and soil.
The districts of China which supply the greater portion of the teas exported to Europe and America lie between the 25th and 31st degrees of north latitude, and the best districts are those between 27 degrees and 31 degrees.
[Fig 38 Tea-plant.]
[Fig 39. Culture of the Tea-plant.]
The tea-plants are raised from seed which, to secure germination, is kept over winter in moist earth, and sown in March. When a year old, the young bushes are planted out, and then by cropping the main shoot for the first year they are kept down to a height of about 3 feet, and made to grow bushy. Being placed in rows 3 or 4 feet apart, they have some resemblance to a garden of gooseberry bushes.
The cropping of the leaves begins in the fourth and fifth years, and is seldom continued beyond the tenth or twelfth, when the bushes are dug up and renewed. The plant thrives best on dry sunny slopes, where occasional showers fall and springs appear, and where an open, somewhat stony but rich soil prevents the water from lingering about its roots.
The season for gathering varies in different districts, but the principal leaf-harvest ends in May or June. The leaves are plucked by the hand, and chiefly by women. They are generally gathered at three successive seasons. The youngest and earliest loaves are the most tender and delicate, and give the highest flavoured tea. The second and third gatherings are more bitter and woody, and yield less soluble matter to water.
The leaves when freshly plucked have neither a decidedly astringent, an aromatic, nor a bitter taste. They possess nothing, in fact, either of the odour or flavour of the dried leaves. The pleasant taste and delightful natural scent for which they are afterwards so highly prized, are all developed by the roasting which they undergo in the process of drying.
In this process, the leaves are roasted and scorched in such a way as necessarily to bring about many chemical changes within the substance of the leaves themselves. The result of these changes is to produce the varied flavours, odours, and tastes by which different varieties of tea are more or lees distinguished.
The treatment or mode of handling by which the leaves are converted respectively into green and black teas, is the cause of the different colours of these two main varieties.
It has been satisfactorily proved that the waste of the body is lessened by the use of tea. And if the waste be lessened, the necessity for food to repair it will be lessened in an equal proportion. In other words, by the consumption of a certain quantity of tea, the health and strength of the body will be maintained in an equal degree upon a smaller supply of ordinary food. Tea, therefore, saves food — stands to a certain extent in the place of food — while at the same time it soothes the body and enlivens the mind.
In the old and infirm it serves also another purpose. In the life of most persons a period arrives when the stomach no longer digests enough of the ordinary elements of food, to make up for the natural daily waste of the bodily substance. The size and weight of the body, therefore, begin to diminish more or less perceptibly. At this period tea comes in as a medicine to arrest the waste, to keep the body from falling away so fast, and thus to enable the less energetic powers of digestion still to supply as much as is needed to repair the wear and tear of the solid tissues.
No wonder, therefore, that tea should be a favourite, on the one hand, with the poor, whose supplies of substantial food are scanty — and on the other, with the aged and infirm, especially of the feebler sex, whose powers of digestion and whose bodily substance have together begun to fail.
Nor is it surprising that the aged female, who has barely enough of weekly income to buy what are called the common necessaries of life, should yet spend a portion of her small gains in purchasing her ounce of tea. She can live quite as well on less common food, when she takes her tea along with it; while she feels lighter at the same time, more cheerful, and fitter for her work, because of the indulgence.
Mate, or Paraguay tea, though not used over so large an area as the Chinese tea, is as much the passion of the Brazilians and their neighbours, in Southern America, as the latter is of the nations of north-eastern Asia. It is prepared from the dried leaves of the Brazilian holly — is said to have been in use among the Indians from time immemorial,—has been drunk by all classes in Paraguay since the beginning of the seventeenth century, and is now consumed by 'almost the whole population of South America.'
Attention has lately been drawn to the use of the leaf of the coffee-tree as a substitute for that of the tea-tree.
In the Dutch Island of Sumatra especially, prepared coffee-leaves form the only beverage of the whole population, and, from their nutritive qualities, have become an important necessary of life. Mr. Ward, who has been many years settled at Pedang, in Sumatra, thus narrates his experience in regard to the use of the coffee-leaf in that island :—
"The natives have a prejudice against the use of water as a beverage, asserting that it does not quench thirst, or afford the strength and support the coffee-leaf does. With a little boiled rice and infusion of the coffee-leaf, a man will support the labours of the field in rice-planting for days and weeks successively, up to the knees in mud, under a burning sun or drenching rain, which he could not do by the use of simple water, or by the aid of spirituous or fermented liquors.
"I have had the opportunity of observing for twenty years the comparative use of the coffee-leaf in one class of natives, and of spirituous liquors in another—the native Sumatrans using the former, and the natives of British India, settled here, the latter; and I find that, while the former expose themselves with impunity to every degree of heat, cold, and wet, the latter can endure neither wet nor cold for even a short period, without danger to their health.
"Engaged myself in agriculture, and being in consequence much exposed to the weather, I was induced several years ago, from an occasional use of the coffee-leaf, to adopt it as a daily beverage, and my constant practice has been to take two cups of a strong infusion, with milk, in the evening, as a restorative after the business of the day. I find from it immediate relief from hunger and fatigue. The bodily strength is increased, and the mind left for the evening clear and in full possession of its faculties."
THE TEA, COFFEE, AND COCOA PLANTS. (CONTINUED.)
Physiological — relating to the different organ. and functions of animals and plants.
THE name of Coffee is given to a beverage prepared from the seeds of plants roasted, ground, and infused in boiling water. The seeds of the Arabian coffee-tree are the most largely used for this purpose, but various other seeds are more or less extensively employed in a similar way.
The tree which produces this seed is said to be indigenous to the countries of Enarea and Caffa in southern Abyssinia. In these districts the coffee-tree grows like a wild weed over the rocky surface of the country.
From Abyssinia it was introduced into Arabia in the beginning of the fifteenth century. About the middle of the sixteenth century it began to be used in Constantinople, and, in spite of the violent opposition of the priests, became an article of general consumption.
[Fig 40. Coffee-tree.]
In the middle of the seventeenth century (1652), the first coffee-house was opened in London by a Greek named Pasqua; and twenty years after, the first was established in Marseilles. Since that time both the culture and consumption of coffee have continually extended. It has become the staple produce of important colonies, and the daily and most cherished drink of probably more than a hundred millions of men!
Ceylon, India, Costa Rico and Brazil, Jamaica and Mocha are the chief countries whence the supplies of coffee consumed in the United Kingdom are obtained.
The sensible properties and effects of coffee, like those of tea, are too well known to require to be stated in detail. It exhilarates, arouses, and keeps awake; it allays hunger to a certain extent, gives to the weary increased strength and vigour, and imparts a feeling of comfort and repose. Its physiological effects upon the system, so far as they have been investigated, appear to be, that, while it makes the brain more active, it soothes the body generally, makes the change and waste of matter slower, and the demand for food in consequence less.
Many substitutes are used for coffee, such as roasted acorns, beans, peas, rye, and other grains, and also the roots of dandelion and chicory, but all these are deficient of the characteristic principle of coffee, and none of them can serve the same purposes in the animal economy.
The Cocoas are prepared from certain oily seeds, which are first ground to a pulp by passing them between hot rollers, and are then diffused through boiling water for immediate use.
The Mexican cocoa is the seed of the Theobroma cacao. This is a small but beautiful tree, with bright dark-green leaves, which is a native of the West Indies and of the central regions of America. It grows spontaneously in Mexico, and on the coast of Caraccas, and forms whole forests in Demerara.
[Fig 41. Cacao.]
The fruit of the tree, which, like the fig, grows directly from the stem and principal branches, is of the form and size of a small oblong melon or thick cucumber. It contains from six to thirty beans or seeds, imbedded in rows in a spongy substance, like that of the water-melon.
When ripe, the fruit is plucked, opened, the seeds cleaned from the marrowy substance, and dried. In the West Indies they are immediately picked for market; but in the Caraccas they are put in heaps, and covered over, or sometimes buried in the earth till they undergo a slight fermentation, before they are finally dried and picked for market. By this treatment they lose a portion of their natural bitterness of taste, which is greater in the beans of the mainland than in those of the American islands. The cocoa of Trinidad is the variety chiefly consumed in this country.
Cocoa is manufactured for the market in one or other of three principal ways.—
First, The whole bean after roasting is beat into a paste in a hot mortar, or is ground between hot rollers adjusted for the purpose. This paste, mixed with starch, sugar, and other similar ingredients in various proportions, forms the common cocoa, rock cocoa, soluble cocoa, &c., of the shops. These are often gritty from the admixture of earthy and other matters which adhere to the husk of the beans.
Second, The bean is deprived of its husk, which forms about 11 per cent of its weight, and is then crushed into fragments. These form the cocoa nibs of the shops, and are the purest state in which cocoa can usually be obtained from the retail dealer.
Third, The bean, when shelled, is ground at once into a paste, by means of hot rollers, mixed with sugar, and seasoned with vanilla, and sometimes with cinnamon and cloves: this paste forms the long-known chocolate.
The predominating ingredient in cocoa, and the one by which it is most remarkably distinguished from tea and coffee, however, is the large proportion of fatty matter, known as cocoa-butter, which it contains. This amounts to upwards of one-half the weight of the shelled or husked bean. Consumed in either of its more usual forms, therefore, cocoa is a very rich article of food, and for this reason it not unfrequently disagrees with delicate stomachs. It is in some measure to lessen the sense of this richness, that sugar, starch, and fragrant seasonings are so generally ground up with the roasted bean in the manufacture of cocoa and chocolate.
Our data for forming correct calculations as to the quantity of each beverage which is grown and consumed are very defective, but we may guess them at about —
Chinese Tea - 2240 millions of pounds
Mate - 20 millions of pounds
Coffee - 600 millions of pounds
Chicory - 30 millions of pounds
Cocoa, . . . . 100 millions of pounds
forming an aggregate of nearly 3000 millions of pounds of the raw materials consumed annually in the preparation of the beverages we infuse.
Upon these four plants about three-fifths of the whole human race are dependent for one of their most useful and most harmless forms of indulgence.
SECRETIONS OF PLANTS.Secretion —that which Is separated or produced from the blood of animal, or from the sap of plants.
IN the peculiar products, or the secretions of vegetables, the range of substances and uses is so enormous, that a wide inquiry would involve a large portion of the arts of life.
The most important secretion we derive from vegetables is Starch. All plants possess this substance though in unequal degrees. It is the chief element in them which renders them fit to be the food of animals. As a rule a vegetable, if nutritious at all, is so in proportion to the amount of starch it contains; there are, however, many plants which yield starch in abundance, but are not eatable from the presence of acids or poisonous fluids. Those plants which afford starch unmixed with deleterious matters are — all the grasses and grain-bearing plants; many leguminous and cruciform plants, such as the pea and bean, the cabbage and turnip; the arrow-root and sago plants, the onion, the potato, &c.
The vegetable secretions, which are secondary only to starch, are oils and fats, which are yielded in great abundance, and have a high value for economic purposes. The vegetable oils and butters are chiefly derived from the different Palm trees of the hottest climates; but we have also Olive-oil, Linseed-oil, Rape-oil, Colza-oil, Castor-oil, Cotton-seed oil, Poppy-oil and several kinds of vegetable tallows and vegetable wax.
The whole of the vegetable dyes may be considered in a single view, numerous as are the substances, and the colours produced by them. The facts themselves puzzle chemistry; and the peculiarities are often such, that we cannot but consider them as designed: above all, when we find that many of them betray themselves, as Indigo does, so as not merely to be pointed out to man, but forced on him, even in has rudest condition.
As many as eighty-six different shades of colour have been ascertained to exist in plants — comprising several shades of white, gray, brown, and green, and many shades of red and yellow. Some of the colouring matters are capable of being used as dyes for textile fabrics, among which are indigo, madder, log-wood, Brazil-wood, alkanet-root, nut-galls, safflower, annatto, turmeric, and others of less note.
Among other products of vegetables, when we look at the wide and indispensable uses derived from the resins, such as tar, for example, and when we see that a particular organization has been fabricated for their production, must we not suppose that those purposes were intended? and all their varieties are produced from the same limited elements, through niceties of proportions, and variations which must needs be minute?
Independent of gum-arabic, obtained from many species of acacia, gum-senegal, and others, a large supply of gum is manufactured from roasted starch. This is the cheapest gum used in the arts; it is largely consumed in calico-printing. The chief resins are turpentine, tar, pitch, and lac. There are also several medicinal gums and resins. Turpentine is procured from the fir tribe; it is of great value in its power of dissolving resins, and in mixing and drying paints. Tar and pitch are obtained from the same tribe of plants. There are several varieties of lac, it is produced by the injuries inflicted upon the young shoots of various trees by an insect which feeds upon them.
No one can reflect for a moment on Sugar, on its wide uses, on the universal instinct to desire it as a source of pleasure, and on the extensive consequences which follow to human society from it, without believing that it was created for man, as it is his art alone which can extract it from the sugar-cane.
Both as an article of food and of luxury, it must have been the produce of designed beneficence; and though, in those moral and political consequences, enormous in their intricacy and influence, which have flowed from it, a perverse temper may overlook the good in noting the evil, the superiority of the former will not be disputed by a cool and candid mind, gifted with the necessary knowledge and power of reflection.
Sugar is produced not only from the sugar-cane, but from the grape, the apple, the beet-root, the sugar-maple, and might be obtained from other plants in large quantities, but the quality is greatly inferior in sweetening power to that derived from the sugar-cane.
It is impossible to doubt the medicinal appointments of vegetable substances. Diseases exist; we must admit that they were not merely permitted, but ordained, when we find that the mysterious substances termed contagion and miasma have been created and regulated for that purpose. Or if derangement arises from contingencies, or from the inevitable progress of an organization which was not designed to be either perfect or everduring, this also, was foreknown, as it was permitted.
Now, in the latter cases, we see that the Creator has provided remedies, by giving the organization a power of repairing injury or rectifying wrong; and often, by very singular and unexpected substitutions and expedients. Thence perceiving a decided intention to remedy disease by one set of means, we can safely extend the inference, and conclude that the substances termed medicinal were created and appointed for the same purpose.
If, further, there are diseases which are cured by specific vegetable substances; if the preparations for those are unexpected and singular; if the chemistry is abstruse; if, under extraordinary and peculiar powers, their properties cannot be recognised by the senses, and, very often, not even by chemistry; if they act only on the mysterious organization, or still more remarkably, acting on that only when it is deranged; if again they are useless for any other purpose; and if, lastly, they are inactive or useless to animals in general, while acting on man, and useful to him, there is nothing wanting to complete the full inference here desired.
PARTS, AND GROWTH OF VEGETABLES.
Coagulate - to turn from a fluid to a thick state.
Cytoblast - the nucleus of cellular life.
VEGETABLE life is the connecting link between dead matter and the higher moving life of the animal kingdom. Plants derive their food immediately from the formless mineral elements, and stand in such immediate connexion with these, that the study of chemistry necessarily forms an important auxiliary in the investigation of vegetable nutrition; the mineral substances undergo changes, and enter into new combinations, forming starch, sugar, &c., which can only originate in or from vegetable organisms; and since the production, conversion, or appropriation of these compounds to the development of form constitute the chief part of the operations of vegetable life, the study of Vegetable Substances forms a distinct branch of the science of botany.
The grand distinction between mineral and vegetable forms lies in the unalterability of the one, and the change which the other is continually undergoing. The crystal originates and remains fixed; the plant originates, but does not stop there, its shape alters, and continues to do so as long as it exists.
The almost infinite variety of vegetable forms, which have been grouped into no lees than 82,606 distinct species, is formed of but one elementary material, made up of multitudes of little vesicles or bladders, called CELLS. The tissue of which they are composed, when first formed, is called cellulose.
[Fig 42. Cellular Tissue.]
[Fig 43. Cellular Tissue.]
[Fig 44. Cellular Tissue.]
The different forms of this TISSUE are held together by a living mucus, a gummy fluid, out of which the tissue itself is made. Its formation may be watched under the microscope, — a growing seed will afford an excellent illustration of it. The abundant gum of this and other growing parts of plants is seen to be thick, from the number of minute specks floating in it. Soon you may observe larger specks, granules, round which the fluid thickens and coagulates, and forms the cytoblast or beginning of the cell. When this has attained its full size, a small bladder appears on one side of it, which enlarges and becomes the cell.
If the reader will take the pains to carry home any one the little plants which he so frequently crushes underfoot in his daily walk, and if he will place any part of it under a good magnifying glass, he will see that it is composed of many thousands of little cells.
[Fig 45. Cellular Tissue.]
They are seen in many different forms of varied beauty. Some are decorated with a delicate fibre, wound spirally round them (a); others with rings or bars (b); others with dots irregularly spotting their surface, or elegantly arranged in a spiral pattern (c,d). Some are round, or sponge-shaped (e); others flattened out, so as to overlap each other; others, again, are elongated and packed
closely side by side, (f).
Elsewhere they exist in the form of chains of exquisite transparency, composed of cells joined end to end, of which beautiful examples may be seen amongst the filmy green threads which abound in every summer pond (see the figure, g), or in the downy white hairs which clothe our common groundsel. These cells are so minute that 150 of the larger ones, and as many as 3,000 of the smaller kinds might be laid side by side on a single inch of apace.
[Fig 46. Cellular Tissue (Confervae).]<
PARTS, & GROWTH OF VEGETABLES. (CONTINUED.)
Sclerogen — hardening matter in vegetable cells.
Raphides - minute, needle-like crystals in the tissues of plants.
Pellicule - a thick skin or film in plants.
Stomates - openings in the cells of the wpidermis of plants.
Spongioles - extremities roots, consisting of spongy cellular tissue, which absorbs nourishment.
STARCH is the most important substance contained in the cells of plants. It occurs in all plants at some period of their existence, and is chiefly found in underground parts, such as roots, tubers, bulbs, &c.; it is also found in seeds. It will not melt in water, but is readily changed into gum. These starch granules are seen at (h) contained in the cells of the plant; at (i) they arc shown separately, as also, at (j) where they are still more highly magnified. But we are indebted to these store-houses for other things than starch.
They furnish the carpenter with his materials by the hard woody substance termed SCLEROGEN, deposited within their fragile walls. They supply our mercers with their bales of linen and cotton; our grocers with sugar, arrowroot, &c.; our tallow chandlers with wax, oil, and resinous matters; and to them the chemist owes many of the various drugs which fill his well-stored bottles. In deed they can boast of their jewellery too; for the active properties of the vegetable drugs depend in great measure on the presence of minute crystals, or raphides, as they are termed.
For instance, the superiority of the Turkey rhubarb above other kinds is undoubtedly owing to the greater abundance of the crystals it contains. In 100 grains of rhubarb were found from thirty-five to forty grains of raphides. The drugs sent out from the Levant are more rich than those from the south of Europe. The crystals are mostly needle-shaped (k, k, Cut 48), and are very minute, being from one fortieth to one two-thousandth of an inch in size; but some kinds arc beautifully compound (l), measuring from one-fortieth to one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of an inch. They are so abundant, that in some plants they exceed the weight of the tissue itself. The old stems of some cacti are so loaded with enormous quantities of them, that they appear as if filled with sand.
[Fig 48. Raphides, magnified.]
Every plant is clothed by a surface-layer of compressed cells called epidermis. This is spread over those parts of the plant which are exposed to the air. it is protected by an extremely thin film or pellicule, which covers every part except the stomates, or breathing pores.
The epidermis is strong, as well as ornamental. In some cases it is composed largely of silicate of potash, a substance of the nature of flint. In other instances it is hardened by deposits of chalky matter, which are frequently tinged with most beautiful colours — white, lilac, or pink.
The epidermic covering seems to render the same service to plants which our clothing does for us, viz., it protects them from the air, it prevents the cells lying beneath from being dried up; hence we find it very thin in plants which grow in damp places, and under water it disappears altogether.
The stomates above alluded to are oval openings, lying between the sides of the cells, and are chiefly found on the under surface of leaves, which have therefore usually a dull appearance, compared with their polished upper surface.
An idea of the importance of these little breath-pores to the plant may be gathered from the large numbers in which they are found. On some leaves 90,000 have been counted on a square inch of surface; on others 40,000, 70,000, or 80,000. They are thought to serve the purpose of regulating the evaporation of the fluids of the plants, and of bringing them into contact with the air.
These vegetable garments are sometimes decorated with curious hairs, some of which, formed of small vesicles placed end to end, seem only destined to protect the surface on which they grow. Others are glandular, being filled with fluids, such as the fragrant oil of the sweet-briar, or the stinging fluid of the common nettle. They usually stand upright, but are sometimes attached to the plant by their middle.
The ROOT answers a double purpose; it fixes the plant in the ground, and draws nourishment from the ground. it may be described as a prolongation downward of the stems, and is formed, like it, of vessels and cells.
The extreme ends of the roots are formed of loose, round cells; they are called spongioles, or sponge-like bodies, because they absorb, or suck in, moisture from the ground, just as a sponge sucks in water. The masses of older cells which form these spongioles are pushed forward by the growing roots, and, as they decay, are replaced by a fresh layer from beneath. Their power of absorption is remarkable. They will suck in colouring matter, which will not enter the looser texture of leaves.
Roots are annual, dying in one year; biennial, growing from seed one year, and flowering and dying in the next; or perennial, lasting many years. The two latter kinds are generally fleshy, or woody, while the annual roots are usually fibrous. The forms of roots vary very greatly, and they have corresponding names, as spindled-shaped, conical, &c.
The little leaves that dance so gaily in our woods seem only made for summer play with every passing breeze; but, withal, they are very busily at work, and, little by little — slowly, but steadily, these fairy workmen form the shining stem of thesilver birch, the gnarled branch of the rugged oak, and even the towering elm. Indeed, the trunk of every tree may be considered as a series of leaves — at first, congregated on a short stem, and, as they grow, separated by longer and longer intervals.
Buds are short leaf-bearing stems — the end bud becomes the trunk, the side buds the branches. The branches are sometimes stunted and end in sharp points called thorns or spines, as we know to our cost when forcing our way through the tangled thicket, or pruning a refractory rose—bush.
The internal stem differs according to the manner of growth; of which there are three principal varieties, viz., Exogens, Endogens, and Acrogene. (See pp. 4—6.)
Dletetic — relating to diet.
Farinaceoue — containing meal, mealy.
Coir — the fibre from the husk of the cocoa-nut.
Category — a class or order; an order of ideas.
Cochineel — a small insect which yields a brilliant red dye.
Emporium — a mart of commerce; a centre or attraction.
Jute — an East Indian plant, yielding a valuable fibre.
Safflower — the dried flowers of an East Indian plant, yielding a yellow dye.
Madder — the root of a plant which affords valuable dyes; such as Turkey-red, madder-brown, & madder-yellow.
Fustic — a dye wood from the West Indies and South America.
Brazil-wood — a dye wood which, combined with certain acids or alkalies, yields several colours.
Log-wood — the dark Inner red wood of a tree of South America.
Saunders-wood — a dye wood of India of a fine deep red colour, which yields several dyes.
Sappan-wood - a wood of India which yields a good red dye.
Arnatto — a pulp, obtained from seeds, which gives a nankeen colour; it is used for colouring cheese.
Mangrove — a tree of tropical countries, the bark is used in tanning.
Sumach — the dried and powdered leaves of a species of sunmach, used both in
Tanning and dyeing.
Woad — a British plant, used as a blue dye.
Bugloss — or dyer's bugloss; the root called alkanet, yields a fine red colour, but is only soluble in oils or apirits.
Weld — a British plant which gives a yellow colour; it is much cultivated in Kent.
Extract — the substance obtained by eva poration from a decoction or infusion.
Catechu — yielded by the wood of one plant, the seed of anotheer, and the leaves of another.
Kino — an astringent vegetable extract used in tanning.
divi-divi — the seed-pods of a plant of St. Domingo, used In tanning.
Pi-pi — the ripe pod. of a plant which grows on the Spanish Main, used in
Rhubarb — the dried root of a species of rhubarb.
Jalap — the dried tubers of a specie, of convolvolus.
Camphor — a fragrant volatile substance distilled from the wood of a species of laurel.
Strychnine — a poison obtained from nux vomica. it is Imported from Ceylon and Coromandel.
Cinchona — the dried berk at a Peruvian tree, very valuable in the treatment of fevers.
Opium — the dried juice obtained from incisions in the unripe seed-vessels of the poppy.
Scammony — a gum-resin of purgative qualities.
Myrrh — an exudatlon from a tree of the same genus as those yielding turpentine.
Asafoeotida — a fetid gum obtained from Persia.
Aloes — a powerful, bitter medicine, obtained from the leaves of several species of aloes.
INDEPENDENT of the large amount of vegetable food we consume, vegetable substances are required for building purposes, for medicine, for clothing, and for various other arts of life.
The homeward commerce which we carry on with our numerous Colonies, with our Indian Possessions, and with foreign countries, is principally in articles furnished by the vegetable kingdom, such as the cereal grains, wheat, rice, maize, &c.; vegetables used in preparing dietetic drinks and distilled liquors, as tea, coffee, cacao, sugar, grapes, &c.; spices and condiments; drugs; dyes, and tanning substances, obtained from the bark, leaves, fruit, and roots of various herbs and trees; the expressed or distilled oils of different plaids; fruits in the green, dried, or preserved state; starches obtained from the roots or trunks of many farinaceous plants; fibrous substances used for cordage, matting, and clothing, as cotton, Indian hemp, flax, cocoa-nut coir, plantain and pine-apple fibre; timber and fancy woods.
There are also several products of the animal kingdom dependent on vegetable culture, which might be brought into this category, such as silk and cochineal. Very few of these products of the vegetable kingdom come to us in any other than an unmanufactured state; they are shipped to this country as the chief emporium and factory of the world, either for re-export or to be prepared for consumption by the millions to whom they furnish employment, sustenance, and articles of clothing.
England receives timber and ornamental woods from nearly every part of the world; only a few kinds are employed for ship-building purposes, such as English oak, American live oak, and African oak and teak. Many other kinds of timber are employed for other architectural purposes, for carpentry, cabinet-work, and ornamentation, for machinery, implements, and furniture; for utensils, turnery, carving, and toys, while some kinds are only imported for fuel.
[Fig 49. Hemp.]
[Fig 50. Jute.]
The fibrous materials England receives, include cotton, flax, hemp, coir, jute, Manilla hemp, pine-apple fibre, New Zealand flax, China grass, and some others. Cotton constitutes the great element of one of our most important textile manufactures, and flax of another, the coarse fibres are employed, for ropes, twine, matting, the stuffing of beds, cushions, and other purposes.
[Fig 51. Divi-divi.]
The dyes and colouring stuffs required by our manufacturing interests are a very extensive list; the best known of them are indigo, safflower, madder, fustic, BraziL-wood, log-wood; but there are many others, as red saunders wood, sappan wood, arnatto, mangrove-bark, and sumach. Of these dye—stuffs, log-wood, fustic, and madder are yielded by nature in a state fit for immediate use, others require a process of preparation before they are ready for the market. All these dyes are brought from distant lands; our ancestors were content with woad, bugloss, and weld.
The most experienced tanners all agree, that no substance has yet been introduced, capable of replacing good oak-bark in their art, but, at the same time, they readily allow that many substances are of great value as aids to oak-bark, and in the preparation of particular kinds of leather. The number of astringent barks and woods suitable for this art is very large; but, with few exceptions, the cost of freight would prohibit their being brought from any distance: in such cases extracts have been made, and imported either in the dry and solid form, like catechu and kino, or as a thick solution, like the mimosa extract of New Holland, The value of these extracts depends in a great
measure on the mode in which they are prepared: they should be rapidly concentrated, and exposed as little as possible to the air during evaporation, or otherwise they suffer a considerable degree of decomposition, and their value is proportionately diminished.
[Fig 52. Valonia]
[Fig 53. Pi-pi.]
The other substances imported for the tanner’s use are Valonia — the acorn cup. of a species of oak which grows in the Levant; mangrove bark from the West Indies, acacia bark, divi-diri, and pi-pi—the seed-pods of leguminous plants of the West Indies, and cutch, also called Terra Japonica,— a vegetable extract from India.
Among the medicinal vegetables we receive from distant countries ore rhubarb, from India and Turkey; jalap, from Mexico; senna, from Aleppo, Alexandria, and Tinnevelly; camphor, from Batavia; strychnine, from Ceylon and Coromandel; cinchona bark from Peru; castor oil from India and the West indies; opium from India and Turkey; scammony from Smyrna; myrrh from Abyissinia; asafoetida, from Persia; and aloes from Socotra, the Cape, Barbadoes, and other places.
The plants yielding starch, such as sago, tapioca, arrowroot, &c., have been mentioned; those from which beverages are made, as well as grain, fruits and spices have also formed the subjects of previous lessons.
[Fig 54. Jelap.]
[Fig 55. Senna.]
[Fig 56. Scammony.]
RESINS AND GUMS
Soluble — that will dissolve or melt.
Insoluble — that will not dissolve.
Gum Arabic —an exudation from a species of Acacia, Imported from Barbary and Turkey
Gum Senegal — from another species of Acacia imported from Africa.
Gum Tragacanth — formed in flakes and forced through narrow splits in the bark, it is produced in Asia Minor and Persia.
Dragon’s blood — a resinous dye produced by a species of calamus or cane-palm, usually imported from the East Indies.
Copal — used chiefly In the manufacture of varnish obtained from saveral tropical countries.
Mastic — imported chiefly from the Levant, and used in making varnishes.
Sandarach — obtained from Turkey, chiefly used in making fine varnishes.
Benzoin — chiefly used In perfumery; the tree which yields it is a native of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java.
Frankincense — a species or turpentine, much used in making plaisters; it is sometimes mixed with gums and burned as incense.
Canada Balsam — a very transparent gum resin, used for varnishes.
Distillation - a process of vaporization by heat, and subsequent condensation.
Naphtha — a natural product in some countries; it is also distilled from coal- tar.
MOST of the Resins and Gums are obtained from tropical regions. Resins are soluble and gums are insoluble in spirits, while gums are soluble, and resins insoluble in water. Some these secretions are of a mixed nature and are called gum-resins, they are partly soluble in water and partly in spirits of wine. Gum Arabic, Gum Senegal, and Gum Tragacanth are the three heads under which all the true Gums may be placed. The Gum-resins and resins are very numerous, among them are Dragon’s blood, used as a dye, copal, gum mastic, gum sandarach, gum benzoin, turpentine, frankincense, Canada Balsam, Pitch, Indian rubber, or caoutchouc, and gutta-percha.
The gum most in demand is gum arabic, the chief supplies of which are yielded by India, Egypt, America, and South Africa. Its place, has been supplied, for many purposes, especially for calico-printers by the excellent artificial gum, obtained from roasted starch, and known by the name of "dextrine," or British gum. This manufacture has diminished the use of natural gums.
Of the resins, turpentine is of the greatest value to us. Spirit of turpentine, procured by the distillation of impure turpentine, is used in dissolving resins, and in mixing and drying paints.
A century ago caoutchouc or India-rubber was only known a curiosity — now it is regarded almost as a necessary of life, and of late not a year has gone by without some new and valuable application of this remarkable substance. A few years since, the demand for India-rubber had increased so much, that importers began anxiously to look out for new sources, especially as the supply from South America was beginning to fall off. A little inquiry showed that abundance of milky-juiced plants, yielding excellent caoutchouc, flourished in the forests of tropical Asia, and in various parts of the East Indian empire.
The CAOUTCHOUC which reaches England is almost entirely the produce of Siphonia elastica, a fine tree, attaining a height of sixty or seventy feet, with a stem clear of branches for forty or fifty feet of its height, as round as if turned, with a diameter of about three feet at the base, and lessening very gradually; the bark is of a light stone-colour.
[Fig 57. India-rubber Tree.]
In order to procure the caoutchouc, the natives who collect it pierce the stem of the tree with a small pickaxe early in the morning; around this incision they mould soft clay in the form of a bowl, into which the juice runs pretty freely to the extent of about four ounces daily. They collect this juice each evening, and smear it over clay moulds of bottles, balls etc. After each process the moulds thus coated are suspended in the smoke of a chimney, where they dry and get a black colour. Successive layers are added until they are of sufficient thickness; the clay is then washed out, and the caoutchouc is ready for market.
The property possessed by caoutchouc of dissolving in coal naphtha, renders it very valuable in the arts, and its applications have become extremely numerous. The great improvement in the texture and qualities of caoutchouc, by which its applicability to different purposes has been immensely enlarged is called vulcanising, it is effected by exposing it to the action of sulphur at a high temperature. Thus acted upon it retains its elasticity in all temperatures.
If the vulcanised rubber be exposed for a few hours in a vessel to the action of high pressure steam, it acquires new properties. From being soft it becomes hard, and very difficult to break. In this state its texture very much resembles tortoiseshell, and it can be beautifully polished. Comb-makers cut and work it like shell. It can be carved, and designs of any form can be made; and from its strength, it is well suited for delicate work in instances where other materials would be liable to fracture. Thus the milky juice of a tree is made by the art of man into a walking-cane, a picture-frame, a top-coat, a slipper, or a comb.
It is a striking characteristic of our age, and particularly as compared with the period when India-rubber was first sent to Europe, that the application of GUTTA PERCHA to the arts immediately followed the discovery of the substance. In 1842, Dr. Montgomerie was observing a wood-cutter at Singapore at his ordinary labour. Looking at the man’s axe he saw that the handle was not of wood, but of some material he had not previously known. The woodman told Dr. Montgomerie that, hard as the handle was, it became quite soft in boiling water, and could be moulded into any form, when it would again become hard. It was a gum from a tree growing in various islands of the Eastern archipelago, called pertsha. Specimens were immediately sent to the Society of Arts; and the inquiring surgeon to the Presidency at Singapore received the Society’s gold medal. In
1842-3, Mr. Lobb, visiting these islands to collect botanical specimens, also discovered the same tree, and the gum which issues from it.
[Fig 58. Gutta Percha plant.]
In a few years the wonderful utility of this new gum became established in very various applications. It would have remained comparatively useless but for the inventive spirit which has subdued every difficulty of a new manufacture. The substance is now applied to the humblest as well as the highest purposes. It is a clothes’ line defying the weather; it 1s a buffer for a railway carriage. It is a stopping for a hollow tooth; it is a sheathing for the wire that conveys the electric spark across the Channel. It is a cricket-ball; it is a life-boat in the Arctic seas. It is a noiseless curtain ring; it is a sanitary water-pipe. It resists the action of many chemical substances, and is thus largely employed for vessels in bleaching and dyeing factories; it is capable of being moulded into the most beautiful forms, and, thus becomes one of the most efficient materials for multiplying works of ornamental art. The collection of gutta percha has given a new stimulus to the feeble industry of the inhabitants of Java and Sumatra, and Borneo, and a new direction to the commerce of Singapore. It has brought the people of the Indian archipelago into more direct contact with European civilization.
ROOTS AND OILS.
Sassafras — Its nuts are used for flavouring chocolate.
Sandal-wood — noted for its fragrance, used for small cabinets and trinkets.
Lubrication — the act of making a thing work smoothly.
Mucilage — a solution of any gummy matter.
Moderateur — regulator. - i.e. a lamp of which the light can be moderated or regulated.
Vegetable butters — obtained from trees in Western Africa and Hindostan, used for eating, for cooking, and for burning in lamps.
Vegetable tallow — obtained from Borneo, it resembles ordinary tallow & is used in the manufacture of candles.
Vegetable wax — obtained from tropical myrtles and from some palm trees.
FEW cultivators are probably aware of the great importance of oil to this country, and the number of purposes for which it is employed in the arts and manufactures. It is extensively used for candle and soap making, for burning in lamps, for diminishing friction in machinery of all kinds, and especially for locomotives — in wool-dressing, in the manufacture of paints and varnishes; as an article of food, for medicinal purposes, &c.
There are few, if any plants from which some portion of oil cannot be obtained by distillation; but it is more particularly in the hot climates of India, China, New Holland, Africa, the South of Europe, and South America, that they attain their highest degree of perfection, and are found in the greatest abundance. The mustard-seed, for example, which is grown in our climate, yields oil only in a non-remunerative degree; but on the continent of India, with its burning sun, the produce is of great value.
The oil is most commonly found in the seeds, as in the linseed and rape-seed, of our climate; for as the seed is the product of the plant in its most mature condition, it is the most fitted to be a depository of the most mature secretions. It is, however, found to a great extent in the leaves of plants, as the rose and the peppermint, and in the wood of a comparatively few trees — for example, the sassafras and the sandal-wood. The bark is not an unfrequent depository of oil secretions.
RAPE oil has been found to be better suited than any other oil for the lubrication of machinery, when properly purified from the mucilage, &c., which it contains in the raw state. It is used extensively for locomotives, for marine engines, and also for burning in lamps. It is stated that a locomotive consumes between 90 and 100 gallons of oil yearly; and the annual consumption of oil by the London and North-Western Railway, for this purpose alone, is more than 40,000 gallons.
COLZA, a variety of the common cabbage, is much grown in the South of Europe and other parts, for the oil obtained by pressure from its seeds. The plant will not thrive on sand or clay, but requires a rich light soil. After the ground has been well ploughed and manured, the seed should be sown in July, in furrows eight or ten inches asunder. The plants are transplanted about October. When ripe the stalks are reaped with a sickle, and the seeds threshed out with a flail. The cake, after the oil is expressed, is an excellent food for cattle.
The oil of the colza is highly prized; in France it has been adopted for all the purposes of light-houses; in this country it has lately come into extensive domestic use, for burning in the French moderateur lamps.
Our supplies of PALM OIL are almost wholly derived from the West Coast of Africa, of which it is the staple article of export. It is used principally in this country for making yellow soap. But the inhabitants of the Guinea coast employ it for the same purposes that we do butter.
[Fig 59. Olive.]
OLIVE OIL, for the table and for manufacturing purposes is imported from Galipoli, Sicily, Spain, Portugal, Florence, Lucca, Genoa, Corfu, and from many other places, its chief use is in dressing woollen cloths; its cultivation is largely increasing.
ALMOND OIL is employed in perfumery, and for lubricating the machinery of clocks, watches, and other small pieces of mechanism.
CASTOR OIL, expressed from the seeds of the Palma Christi, is produced in great abundance in India, America, and the West Indies. Its utility as a medicine has been known from early ages. The plant will grow in this country, but it does not ripen its seed, nor attain its full perfection.
LINSEED OIL IS largely used in the arts in this country, but it is an article of ordinary food to the poorer classes in Russia, to the Greenlanders, and other inhabitants of the polar countries.
COCOA NUT OIL, has a relationship to palm-oil, inasmuch, as it is also produced from a palm-tree. Excellent candles have been prepared in India from an admixture of wax and cocoa nut fat. It is also not unfrequently used as an article of food, in the form of butter in India, and of cocoa and chocolate in this country, and has recently been introduced as a medicinal agent in the treatment of consumption.
Oils are also obtained from turnip-seed, cotton seed, Indian corn, mustard seed. Fatty matters called vegetable Butters, vegetable Tallow, and vegetable Wax are yielded by a variety of plants.
THE PALMS OF CEYLON.
ARRANGED FROM TENNENT'S "CEYLON." (SEE FRONTISPIECE.)
Singhalese —the natives of Ceylon.
Olas - prepared leaves for writing upon.
Tamil districts — the northern parts of Ceylon, peopled by the Malabars
Dondera Head - the southern extremity of Ceylon.
Calpentyn - a bay and peninsula on the Western coast.
Arrack - an intoxicating liquor.
Curry - a stew of rice and various condiments.
THE family of trees, which from their singularity, as well as their beauty, most attract the eye of the traveller in the forests of Ceylon, are the palms, which occur in rich profusion.
The most majestic and wonderful of the palm tribe is the Talipat, the stem of which sometimes attains the height of 100 feet, and each of its enormous fan-like leaves when laid upon the ground will form a semicircle of 16 feet in diameter, and cover an area of nearly 200 superficial feet. The tree flowers but once and dies, and the natives firmly believe that the bursting of the sheath, which contains a magazine of seeds, is accompanied by a loud explosion.
The leaves alone are converted by the Singhalese to purposes of utility. Of them they form coverings for their houses, and portable tents of a rude but effective character; and on occasions of ceremony each chief and head man on walking abroad is attended by a follower who holds above his bead an elaborately ornamented fan, formed from a single leaf of the talipat.
But the most interesting use to which they are applied is as substitutes for paper, both for books and ordinary purposes. In the preparation of olas, which is the term applied to them when so employed, the leaves are taken whilst still tender, and after separating the central rib, they are cut into strips, and boiled in spring water. They are dried first in the shade and afterwards in the sun; then made into rolls, and kept in store or sent to the market for sale. Before they are fit for writing upon they are subjected to a second process called madema. A smooth log of areca palm is tied horizontally between two trees, each ola is then damped, and a weight being attached to one end of it, it is drawn backwards and forwards by the other till the surface becomes perfectly smooth and polished; and during the process as the moisture dries up it is necessary to renew it till the effect is complete. The smoothing of a single ola will occupy from fifteen to twenty minutes.
The raw leaves, when dried without any preparation, are called karakola, and like the leaves of the palmyra are used only for ordinary purposes by the Singhalese, but in the Tamil districts where palmyras are abundant and Talipat palms rare, the leaves of the former are used for books as well as for letters.
There is no quarter of the world in which the cocoa-nut flourishes in such rich luxuriance as in the southern corner of Ceylon. Here it enjoys a rare combination of every advantage essential to its growth — a loose friable soil, a free and general and unobstructed solar heat, and an atmosphere damp with the spray and moisture from the sea, towards which the crown of the tree is always more or less inclined.
Of late years its cultivation has been vastly increased, some idea may be formed of its importance from the fact that at the time when the English took Colombo it was estimated that the single district between Dondera head and Calpentyn contained ten millions of cocoa-nut trees, and such has been the increase since then that the total number on the Island cannot be less than twenty millions.
All that has ever been told of the Bread-fruit, or any other plant contributing to the welfare of man is as nothing compared with the blessings conferred on Ceylon by this inestimable palm. The Singhalese in the warmth of their affection for their favourite tree avow their belief that it pines away when beyond the reach of the human voice, and recount with animation the hundred uses for which its products are made available.
The following are only a few of the countless uses of this invaluable tree. The leaves for roofing, matting, baskets, torches, fuel, brooms, fodder for cattle, manure. The stem of the leaf for fences, for pingoes or yokes for carrying burthens on the shoulders, for fishing-rods, and innumerable domestic utensils. The cabbage, or cluster of unexpanded leaves, for pickles and preserves. The sap for toddy or distilling arrack, and for making vinegar and sugar. The unformed nut for medicines and sweetmeats. The young nut and its milk for drinking, for dessert. The green husk for preserves. The nut for eating, for curry, for milk for cooking. The oil for rheumatism, for anointing the hair, for soap, for candles, for light, and the refuse of the nut after expressing the oil, for cattle and poultry. The shell of the nut for drinking cups, charcoal, tooth-powder, spoons, medicine, hookahs, beads, bottles, and knife-handles. The coir or fibre which envelopes the shell within the outer husk, for mattresses, cushions, ropes, cables, cordage, canvass, fishing-nets, fuel, brushes, oakum, and floor-mats. The trunk for rafters, laths, railing, boats, troughs, furniture, firewood, and when very young, the first shoots or cabbage, as a vegetable for the table.
The List is of course extended to the full hundred, but to eke out this complement requires some ingenious subdivision. One pre-eminent use of the cocoa-nut palm is omitted in all these popular enumerations, it acts as a conductor in protecting their houses from lightning. As many as 500 of these trees were struck in a single paloo, near Patlam, during a succession of thunderstorms in April, 1859.
There is hardly one of these multifarious uses that may not be seen in active illustration in the drive between Galle and Colombo. Houses are timbered with its wood, and roofed with its plaited fronds. The fruit in all the varieties of form and colour is ripened around the native dwellings, and the women may be seen at their doors rasping its white flesh to powder in order to extract from it the milky emulsion which constitutes the essential excellence of Singhalese curry. In pits by the road-side the husks of the nut are steeped to convert the fibre into coir by decomposing the interstitial pith; its flesh is dried in the sun preparatory to expressing the oil; vessels are attached to collect the juice of the unexpanded flowers, to be converted into sugar; and from early dawn the toddy drawers are to be seen ascending the trees in quest of the sap drawn from the spathes of the unopened flowers to be distilled into arrack, — the only pernicious purpose to which the gifts of the bounteous tree are perverted.
The Palmyra is another invaluable palm, and one of the most beautiful of the family. It grows in such profusion over the north of Ceylon, and especially in the peninsula of Jaffna, as to form extensive forests, whence its timbers are exported as rafters to all parts of the island, as well as to the opposite coast of India, where, though the palmyra grows luxuriantly, its wood, from local causes, is too soft and perishable to be used for any purposes requiring strength and durability, qualities which in the palmyra of Ceylon are pre-eminent.
To the inhabitants of the northern provinces this invaluable tree is of the Same importance as the cocoa-nut palm is to the natives of the south. It has been said with truth, that a native of Jaffna, if he be contented with ordinary doors and mud walls, may build an entire house (as he wants neither nails nor iron-work), with walls, roof, and covering from the Palmyra palm. From this same tree he may draw his wine, make his oil, kindle his fire, carry his water, store his food, cook his repast, and sweeten it, if he pleases; in fact, live from day to day dependent on his palmyra alone.
The Areca Palm is the invariable feature of a native garden, being planted near the wells and water-courses, as it rejoices in moisture. Of all the tribe it is the most graceful and delicate, rising to the height of forty or fifty feet without an inequality on its thin polished stem, which is dark green towards the top, and sustains a crown of feathery foliage, in the midst of which are clustered the astringent nuts for whose sake it is carefully tended.
The chewing of these nuts (called betel-nuts) with lime and the leaf of the betel pepper supplies to the people of Ceylon the same enjoyment which tobacco affords to the inhabitants of other countries, but its use is, if possible, more offensive, as the three articles, when combined, colour the saliva of so deep a red that the lips and teeth appear as if coloured with blood. Yet, in spite of this disgusting accompaniment, men and women, old and young, from morning till night indulge in the repulsive luxury.
THE VEGETABLE YEAR.
cyc1e — a circle; the revolution of a period of time.
Consolidation — the act of making solid.
Fecundation — the act of making fruitful.
A YEAR is the most important and obvious of the periods which occur in the organic, and especially in the vegetable world. In this interval of time the cycle of most of the external influences which operate upon plants is completed. There is also in plants a cycle of internal functions, corresponding to this succession of external causes.
The length of either of these periods might have been different from what it is, according to any grounds of necessity which we can perceive. But a certain length is selected which in both instances is the same.
The length of the year is so determined as to be adapted to the constitution of most vegetables; or the construction of vegetables is so adjusted as to be suited to the length which the year really has, and unsuited to a duration longer or shorter by any considerable portion. The vegetable clockwork is so set as to go for a year.
The interval of recurrence of the seasons is determined by the time which the earth employs in performing its revolution round the sun: we can very easily conceive the solar system so adjusted that the year should be longer or shorter than it actually is.
We can imagine the earth to revolve round the sun at a distance greater or less than that which it at present has, all the forces of the system remaining unaltered. If the earth were removed towards the centre by about one-eighth of its distance, the year would be diminished by about a month; and in the same manner it would be increased by a month on increasing the distance by one-eighth. We can suppose the earth at a distance of 84 or 108 millions of miles, just as easily as at its present distance of 96 millions, thus the earth’s natural year might have been different from what it now is.
Now, if any change of this kind were to take place, the working of the botanical world would be thrown into utter disorder, the functions of plants would be entirely deranged, and the whole vegetable kingdom involved in instant decay and rapid extinction.
That this would be the case, may be collected from innumerable indications. Most of our fruit trees, for example, require the year to be of its present length. If the summer and the autumn were much shorter, the fruit could not ripen; if these seasons were much longer, the tree would put forth a fresh suit of blossoms, to be cut down by the winter.
Or if the year were twice its present length, a second crop of fruit would probably not be matured, for want, among other things, of an intermediate season of rest and consolidation, such as the winter is.
Our forest trees in like manner appear to need all the seasons of our present year for their perfection; the spring, summer, and autumn, for the development of their leaves and consequent formation of their proper juice, and of wood from this; and the winter for the hardening and solidifying the substance thus formed.
Most plants, indeed, have some peculiar function adapted to each period of the year, that is of the now existing year. The sap ascends with extraordinary copiousness at two seasons, in the spring and in the autumn, especially the former.
The opening of the leaves and the opening of the flowers of the same plants are so constant to their times, that such occurrences might be taken as indications of the times of the year.
It has been proposed in this way to select a series of botanical facts which should form a calendar; and this has been termed a Calendar of Flora. Thus, if we consider the time of putting forth leaves, the honeysuckle protrudes them in the month of January; the gooseberry, currant, and elder at the end of February, or beginning of March; the willow, elm, and lime-tree in April; the oak and ash, which are always the latest among trees, in the beginning, or towards the middle, of May.
In the same manner the flowering has its regular time: the mezereon and snow-drop push forth their flowers in February; the primrose in the month of March; the cowslip in April; the great mass of plants in May and June; many in July, August, and September; some not till the month of October, as the meadow saffron; and some not till the approach and arrival of winter, as the laurustinus and arbutus.
It appears then that the functions of plants have by their nature a periodical character; and the length of the period thus belonging to vegetables is a result of their organization. Warmth and light, soil and moisture, may in some degree modify, and hasten or retard the stages of this period; but when the constraint is removed the natural period is again resumed.
Such stimulants as we have mentioned are not the causes of this periodicity. They do not produce the varied junctions of the plant, and could not occasion their performance at regular intervals, except the plant possessed a suitable construction. They could not alter the length of the cycle of vegetable functions, except within certain very narrow limits.
The processes of the rising of the sap, of the formation of proper juices, of the unfolding of leaves, the opening of flowers, the fecundation of the fruit, the ripening of the seed, its proper deposition in order for the reproduction of a new plant ;— all these operations require a certain portion of time, and could not be compressed into a space less than a year, or at least could not be abbreviated in any very great degree.
If therefore the duration of the seasons were much to change, the processes of vegetable life would be interrupted, deranged, distempered. We should have not only a year of confusion, but if it were repeated and continued, a year of death.
But in the existing state of things, the duration of the earth’s revolution round the sun, and the duration of the revolution of the vegetable functions of most plants are equal. These two periods are adjusted to each other. Now such an adjustment must surely be accepted as a proof of design, exercised in the formation of the world.
Tenuity — thinness, lightness, rarity
Laboratory - a place where experiments are carried on.
in equilibrio — balanced kept equal.
A PHILOSOPHER of the East, with a richness of imagery truly Oriental, describes the atmosphere as "a spherical shell which surrounds our planet to a depth which is unknown to us, by reason of its growing tenuity, as it is released from the pressure of its own superincumbent mass. Its upper surface cannot be nearer to us than fifty, and can scarcely be more remote than five hundred miles.
It surrounds us on all sides, yet we see it not; it presses heavily upon us, yet we do not feel its weight. Softer than the softest down — more impalpable than the finest gossamer — it leaves the cobweb undisturbed, and scarcely stirs the lightest flower that feeds on the dew it supplies; yet it bears the fleets of nations on its wings around the world, and crushes the most refractory substances with its weight.
When in motion its force is sufficient to level the most stately forests and stable buildings with the earth — to raise the waters of the ocean into ridges like mountains, and dash the strongest ships to pieces like toys. It warms and cools by turns the earth and the living creatures that inhabit it. It draws up vapours from the sea and land, retains them dissolved in itself, or suspended in cisterns of clouds, and throws them down again as rain or dew when they are required.
It bends the rays of the sun from their path, to give us the twilight of evening and of dawn; it disperses and refracts their various tints to beautify the approach and the retreat of the orb of day. But for the atmosphere sunshine would burst on us, and fail us at once, and at once remove us from midnight darkness to the blaze of noon.
We should have no twilight to soften and beautify the 1andcape; no clouds to shade us from the scorching heat, but the bald earth, as it revolved on its axis, would turn its tanned and weakened front to the full and unmitigated rays of the lord of day.
It affords the gas which vivifies and warms our frames, and receives into itself that which has been polluted by use, and is thrown off as noxious. It feeds the flame of life exactly as it does that of the fire — it is in both cases consumed, and affords the food of consumption — in both cases it becomes combined with charcoal, which requires it for combustion, and is removed by it when this is over."
"It is only the girdling encircling air," says another philosopher, "that flows above and around all, that makes the whole world kin. The carbonic acid with which to-day our breathing fills the air, to-morrow seeks its way round the world. The date-trees that grow round the falls of the Nile will drink it in by their leaves; the cedars of Lebanon will take of it to add to their stature; the cocoa-nuts of Tahiti will grow rapidly upon it, and the palms and bananas of Japan will change it into flowers.
The oxygen we are breathing was distilled for us some short time ago by the magnolias of the Susquehanna, and the great trees that skirt the Orinoco and the Amazon — the giant rhododendrons of the great Himalayas contributed to it, and the roses and myrtles of Cashmere, the cinnamon-tree of Ceylon, and the forest older than the flood, buried deep in the heart of Africa, far behind the Mountains of the Moon.
The rain we see descending was thawed for us out of the icebergs which have watched the polar star for ages, and the lotus lilies have soaked up from the Nile, and exhaled as vapour, snows that rested on the summits of the Alps.
The atmosphere, which forms the outer surface of the habitable world, is a vast reservoir, into which the supply of food designed for living creatures is thrown; or, in one word, it is itself the food, in its simple form, of all living creatures.
The animal grinds down the fibre and the tissue of the plant, or the nutritious store that has been laid up within its cells, and converts these into the substance of which its own organs are composed. The plant acquires the organs and nutritious store thus yielded up as food to the animal, from the invulnerable air surrounding it."
The atmosphere is an envelope or covering for the dispersion of light and heat over the surface of the earth; it is a sewer into which, with every breath we draw, we cast vast quantities of dead animal matter; it is a laboratory for purification, in which that matter is recompounded, and wrought again into wholesome and healthful shapes; it is a machine for pumping up all the rivers from the sea, and conveying the waters from their fountains on the ocean to their sources in the mountains; it is an inexhaustible magazine, marvellously adapted for many benign and beneficent purposes.
Upon the proper working of this machine depends the wellbeing of every plant and animal that inhabits the earth; therefore the management of it, its movements, and the performance of its offices, cannot be left to chance. They are guided by laws that make all parts, functions, and movements of the machinery as obedient to order and as harmonious as are the planets in their orbits.
The average composition of the Atmosphere in England is as follows: Oxygen 20.61, Nitrogen 77.95, Carbonic acid .04, Aqueous Vapour 1.40; it also contains traces of acids and gases, but for all common purposes it is sufficient to say that one atom of oxygen is accompanied by four atoms of nitrogen.
The average pressure of the atmosphere on the human body is nearly 15 tons, and there is a change of pressure with the variation of the weather; in very fine weather the pressure is greatest, but at that time we do not feel it so, because the tone of the system is strengthened, and we are more lively and active, while in damp, muggy weather, when the pressure is lighter, we become sensible of listlessness and inactivity.
Dr. Robison states in his "Mechanical Philosophy" that the human body is a bundle of solids, filled or mixed with fluids, and there are few or no parts of it which are empty. All communicate either by vessels or pores, and the whole surface is a sieve, through which the insensible perspiration is performed. The whole extended surface of the lungs is open to the pressure of the atmosphere; every thing is therefore in equilibrio; and if free or speedy access be given to every part, the body will not be damaged by the pressure, however great, any more than a wet sponge would be deranged by pressing it any depth in water."
[Fig 60. Natural Phenomena.]
[1—5. Clouds; 1. Cirrus. 2. Cirro-stratus. 3. Cirrocumulus. 4. Cumulo-stratus.
5. Cumulus. 6. Parhelia. 7. Halo. 8. Lightning. 9. Perpetual snow. 10. Snow
and Hail. 11. Rain and Rain-cloud. 12. Water spout. 13. Aurora Borealis.
14. Rainbow. 15. Falling Stars. 16. Mist or Fog. 17. Hurricane. 18. Ignis Fatuus. 10. Sand-whirl.]
Typhoon — a tornado or hurricane.
Meteor — any atmospheric appearance of a transitory nature.
Parhelia — a mock sun.
Aurora borealis — the northern twilight.
Aerolite — meteoric stone, a mineral mass which falls through the air.
Thermometer — an instrunent measuring the variations and heat of temperature.
Barometer — an instrument which indicates the changes of weather.
Cyclone — rotatory storms, which occur in the Indian Ocean.
THE varied phenomena of which the atmosphere is the scene, and which make up what is popularly called "the weather," include not only general and periodical winds of the nature of currents, together with rotatory movements or whirls of greater or less extent, such as hurricanes, typhoons, whirl-winds, water-spouts, sand-spouts, tornadoes, thunder-storms, squalls, and many others; but also those depending on the varied relations of heat to moisture, whereby dew, mist, fog, the various classes of clouds, rain, snow, and hail, are formed : also electrical and magnetic phenomena, luminous meteors, such as rainbows, halos, parhelia, aurora borealis, aërolites, shooting-stars, &c.
Atmospheric phenomena are also influenced by oceanic currents, fixed and floating masses of ice, the distribution of land and water, and the varying temperature of different parts of the earth’s surface.
In 1855 a meteorological department was established at the Board of Trade under the superintendence of Admiral Fitzroy, for encouraging observations not only in this country, but in all parts of the world, by means of our men of war, and the mercantile marine. These ships were supplied with thermometers, marine barometers, log-books and tabular forms for registering observations referring to the wind, its force and direction, the weather generally, the pressure and temperature of the air, its humidity, and other characteristics; the specific gravity of the ocean, its temperature, currents, soundings, storms, ice, shooting-stars, meteors, &c.
Another service rendered by this department is the multiplication of observers in all parts of the globe, consisting of persons whose occupations lead them to the sea, mountains at great heights above the sea, to mines and other inconvenient localities; thus sailors, shepherds, lighthouse keepers, and miners render important services to meteorology without possessing scientific training.
A good suggestion is made in one of the documents issued by the department, that simultaneous observations should be made throughout the British Islands and their neighbouring coasts and seas at certain remarkable periods, so as to obtain the means of graphically representing the atmosphere, and thus deducing the order of those changes of wind and weather which especially affect navigation and fisheries, as well as agriculture, all out-door occupations, and health. The maps or charts thus produced might display "the various horizontal or other currents of wind existing within such an area at any one time, the pressure and temperature of those currents, and other facts, such as the presence of clouds, rain, lightning, &c"
The United States of America, France, Holland, Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, are all engaged in collecting and comparing meteorological observations. Between England and France, meteorological telegraphic despatches are exchanged twice a day — the object being to mark a storm as soon as it may appear at any point in Europe — to follow it in its march by means of the Telegraph, and inform, in seasonable time, the coasts that it will probably
The dreadful tempest which burst upon the Black Sea in the year 1855 was signalled at Paris, where it was thus known that a great atmospheric wave was travelling from west to east, that it was delayed for a short time in passing the Alps, after which it increased in intensity, and took more than three days to cross Europe and reach the Black Sea. Had present arrangements then existed the fleet might have been forewarned of this tempest, and much loss and misery have been spared.
A manual for the Barometer, compiled by Admiral Fitzroy, has been published by the Board of Trade, in which the following useful observations on the weather are given ;—
"Whether clear or cloudy — a rosy sky at sunset presages fine weather; a red sky in the morning bad weather, or much wind (perhaps rain); a gray sky in the morning, fine weather; a high dawn, wind; a low dawn, fair weather. Soft-looking or delicate clouds foretell fine weather, with moderate or light breezes; hard-edged, oily-looking clouds, wind. A dark, gloomy, blue sky is windy; but a light, bright blue sky indicates fine weather.
Generally, the softer clouds look, the less wind (but perhaps, more rain) may be expected; and the harder, more 'greasy,' rolled, tufted, or ragged, the stronger the coming wind will prove. A bright yellow sky at sunset, presages wind; a pale yellow, wet; and thu9, by the prevalence of red, yellow, or gray tints, the coming weather may be foretold very nearly.
Small inky-looking clouds foretell rain: light scud clouds, driving across heavy masses, show wind and rain; but, if alone, may indicate wind only. High upper clouds crossing the sun, moon, or stars, in a direction different from that of the lower clouds, or the wind then felt below, foretell a change of wind. When sea birds fly out early, and far to sea-ward, moderate wind and fair weather may be expected; when they hang about the land, or fly inland, we may expect wind with stormy weather.
There are other signs of a coming change in the weather known less generally than may be desirable, and, therefore, worth notice; such as when birds of long flight, rooks, swallows, or others, hang about home, and fly up and down, or low — rain or wind may be expected. Dew is an indication of fine weather; so is fog. Neither of these two formations occur under an overcast sky, or when there is much wind. One sees fog occasionally rolled away, as it were, by wind, but seldom or never formed while it is blowing."
Meteorology has made rapid progress as a science during the last few years —whether it can ever presage any given sort of weather for any given time or place remains to be seen. Barometric indications tell of cyclones in the hurricane regions, and of other inpending changes in time to give warnings on our coasts and abroad, while the electric telegraph is ready for the immediate transmission of such warnings. So much having been accomplished we may hope for more; observers are stationed on the meteorological watch towers of Copenhagen, Lisbon, and Galway, watching the signs of the Baltic, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic, where our weather is manufactured; and we may look upon it as one of the possible results of all this intelligent activity that we shall be able to foretell the weather three days in advance.
[Fig 61. Land and Water Hemispheres.]
[Greatest Mass of Land.
[Greatest Collection of Water.]
DIVISIONS OF LAND.
Spherical — shaped like a sphere or globe.
Spheroid — a body not perfectly spherical.
Insular — belonging to in island.
Physical — pertaining to nature and natural bodies.
Hemisphere — shaped like half a globe.
Equator — the great circle of the earth which divides it into two equal hemispheres, and which is everywhere equally distant from the poles.
Pyramidal — shaped like a pyramid.
Configuration — shape or form.
Undulation — waving motion or direction.
Picturesque — that which is beautiful in form and colour and suitable for the painter.
Glacier — a field of ice formed on the slopes of mountains.
Pinnacle — a spiring point, a summit.
Avalanche — a snow-slip.
Inundation — a flood, an overflowing of water.
FOR a long series of ages it was supposed that the earth was a flat surface indefinitely extended, and bounded on all sides by the sky, but this supposition is universally exploded. Though the form of the earth has been shown to be spherical, it is not a perfect sphere, but a spheroid; the compression at the poles being estimated at twenty-six miles in the diameter of the earth.
Under the term land, is included every variety of mineral substance and rock formation usually existing in a solid form upon the Earth, and not covered constantly by water; and it is a matter of familiar knowledge that the surface of the Earth thus presented, is exceedingly irregular in outline and elevation, being collected into some extensive continental masses, and a vast multitude of smaller areas, called islands.
The form and position of the continents — their extent both in magnitude and direction — the position of the several portions of their surface with respect to the sea-level — the nature, extent, and direction of their elevations above, and depressions below, this general level — together with the position, the mode of grouping, and the irregularities of surface of the different insular areas —these are all points of interest with respect to the land, and together they involve a description of the physical peculiarities of this portion of our globe.
The land is very unequally distributed in the two hemispheres separated by the Earth’s equator; the proportion of land to water on the northern side being very much larger than on the southern; so also the absolute quantity of dry land on the eastern side of the Atlantic is much larger than on the western; and if an observer were stationed vertically above a point in England, not far from the Land’s End, which is almost the central point, till be could perceive a complete hemisphere, he would see the greatest possible expanse of land, while, were he elevated to the same height above New Zealand, he would see the greatest possible extent of water.
Many facts have been noted in reference to this subject. The whole area of land on the Earth has been estimated at about 51 and a half millions of square British statute miles, and of this quantity more than three-fourths lie to the north of the equator. Only about one twenty-fourth of the whole area of land consists of islands. (Australia being excluded.) If we compare the north with the south temperate zone, we find the proportion of land nearly as thirteen to one; while, on the equator, about five-sixths of the circumference is water. It appears also that only one twenty-seventh of the existing land has land directly opposed to it in the opposite hemisphere.
Of the whole area of land, that portion which, being connected together and continuous, is called continent, consists of two principal portions, one on the eastern side, containing Europe, Asia, and Africa, sometimes called the Old World, or the great continent; and the other the western, including the two Americas, and known under the name of the New World.
The principal direction of the old continent is from east to west, or, more precisely, from north-east to south-west; while the western continent extends from north-north-west to south-south-east. Both continents terminate towards the north at about the seventieth parallel of latitude, and both run into pyramidal points towards the south, having submarine prolongations, indicated in South America by islands, and in South Africa by shoals.
The area of the greater (the old) continent, together with its adjacent islands, is about thirty-three millions of square miles; that of America, only fourteen millions and a half; and Australia, with the Polynesian Archipelago, barely four. Of the portions of the old continent, Asia forms one-half, Africa three-eighths, and Europe only about one-eighth of the whole.
Not only is it the case that the land, whether continental or insular, offers various peculiarities of horizontal configuration, but each mass of land also presents some distinct features of inequality of level. Occasionally, but very rarely, large tracts may be observed extending in every direction, at nearly the same level, and removed but little above the surrounding water. Much more frequently there occur undulations in every extensive area, and also different degrees of absolute elevation above a mean level.
Such varieties produce the phenomena which are described under the names of plains or table lands, and these are rent asunder by valleys and gorges, or pierced through by mountain chains, and broken into picturesque forms of hill and dale.
Ruskin has thus beautifully described the providential arrangement of the mountainous regions. "The longer I stayed among the Alps, and the more closely I examined them, the more I was struck by the one broad fact of there being a vast Alpine plateau, or mass of elevated land, upon which nearly all the highest peaks stood like children set upon a table, removed, in most cases, far back from the edge of the plateau, as if for fear of their falling.
"The result of this arrangement is a kind of division of the whole of Switzerland into an upper and lower mountain world; the lower world consisting of rich valleys, bordered by steep but easily accessible wooded banks of mountain, more or less divided by ravines, through which glimpses are caught of the higher Alps; the upper world (reached after the first steep banks of 3,000 or 4,000 feet in height have been surmounted), consisting of comparatively level but most desolate tracts of moor and rock, half-covered by glacier, and stretching to the feet of the true pinnacles of the chain.
"It can hardly be necessary to point out the perfect wisdom and kindness of this arrangement, as a provision for the safety of the inhabitants of the high mountain regions. If the great peaks rose at once from the deepest valleys, every stone which was struck from the pinnacles, and every snow-wreath which slipped from their ledges, would descend at once upon the inhabitable ground, over which no year would pass without recording some calamity of earthslip or avalanche.
"Besides this, the masses of snow, cast down at once into the warmer air, would all melt rapidly in the spring, cau8ing furious inundations of every great river for a month or six weeks. All these calamities ore prevented by the peculiar Alpine structure which has been described. The broken rock and the sliding snow of the high peaks, instead of being dashed at once to the vales, are caught upon desolate shelves or shoulders which everywhere surround the central crests.
"The soft banks which terminate these shelves, traversed by no falling fragments, clothe themselves with richest wood; while the masses of snow heaped upon the ledge above them, in a climate neither so warm as to thaw them quickly in the spring, nor so cold as to protect them from all the power of the summer sun, either form themselves into glaciers or remain in slowly wasting fields even to the close of the year in either case supplying constant, abundant, and regular streams to the villages and pastures beneath, and to the rest of Europe noble and navigable rivers."
TRACTS OF LAND.
[Fig 62. The World on Mercator's Projection, showing the pyramidal termination of Continents.]
Gravity — weight, heaviness; the tendency of bodies to approach each other.
Plateau — a plain; a flat surface,
Transcendently - super-eminently; in a manner surpassing others.
Phenomenon - natural appearances.
Reticulation — network.
Emporium — a central place of commerce and merchandise.
Vertex - angular point.
THE distribution of land and water on the surface of the globe forms the first step in geographical knowledge. The entire terrestrial surface measures about two hundred millions of square miles. Very nearly three-fourths of this is covered with water. The whole surface would be so if it were uniformly level. But being unequal, some parts being more elevated, and others less so, the water, in obedience to the law of gravity, settles upon the lower levels, leaving the more elevated part dry. It is thus that the Almighty has "gathered the waters into one place," and made "the dry land appear," and to the "gathering of waters" has given the name Seas.
Land is therefore nothing more than the summits and elevated plateaux of vast mountains, the bases of which are at the bottom of the water which thus covers three-fourths of the surface.
The great Eastern continent has an oblong form, as already indicated; its extreme length being somewhat more than twice its extreme breadth. This continuous tract of laud consists, as is well known, of three unequal divisions, which, though not detached one from another by sea, have received the name of continents. The smallest of these in magnitude, but transcendently the most important in its social and political character, is EUROPE, which occupies the north-west corner of the great continent, being separated from Africa by the Mediterranean Sea, and from Asia by the Ural Mountains, the Caspian, and the Black Seas.
If the whole superficial extent of the great continent be supposed to consist of eight equal parts, the area of Europe will be one of these parts, that of Africa three, and that of Asia, which covers the remainder, four. Africa is divided from Europe by the Mediterranean Sea, and from Asia by the oblong tract of water, called the Red Sea. This sea is connected with the Indian Ocean, by a narrow neck of water, called the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb.
The most striking geographical feature by which Europe is distinguished from the other parts of the great continent, consists in the numerous and extensive inlets of water by which it is penetrated and intersected in all directions. No equal extent of land in any part of the globe presents a like phenomenon, and to this, as much as to its temperate climate, must undoubtedly be ascribed the immense social, commercial, and political predominance which it has acquired and maintained.
By this reticulation of inland seas, gulfs, bays and straits, navigation and commerce arrive within short distances of all its internal centres, and its vast extent of coasts is studded with cities and towns, and sheltered ports and harbours, which become so many emporiums of commerce, and centres and sources of wealth and civilisation.
The Western or new Continent consists of two peninsulas, connected by a narrow tract of considerable length. The southern peninsula resembles Africa in its general outline, having a triangular form, with its base towards the north, and its vertex to the south. It also resembles the African continent in having coasts but little indented by bays or gulfs, but differs from it in being intersected by large and extensive rivers.
Central America is the tract of land uniting South America with the northern peninsula, its southern part which is not more than 30 miles wide, is denominated the isthmus of Darien or Panama, a town of the latter name being on its western coast.
North America, like Europe, is indented with numerous bays, and its northern division has the largest collections of fresh water in the world, consisting of five extensive lakes, — called Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, which communicate with each other, and discharge their water through the River St. Lawrence into the gulf of that name.
Some great plains extend over vast portions of the Western continent, — as the great chain of the Andes runs close to the western coast, it may be expected that a vast tract of plains, or lower lands, must extend from the foot of its eastern declivity to the eastern coast of the continent. This tract in South America is covered with the desert Pampas of Patagonia and Buenos Ayres, the surface of which is sandy and marshy, or saline, producing nothing but a scanty pasture and stunted trees.
Another portion, consisting of the valley of the great River Amazon, called Selvas, consists of a space of more than two millions of square miles, a part of which is covered with natural forests, and the remainder with grassy pampas.
The valley of the Orinoco, another division, is characterised by vast fiat lands, called Llanos, covered with long grass, interspersed here and there with palm trees, used by the traveller in these inhospitable regions as land-marks.
Among the features which characterise the land in the western continent, and more especially in its northern part, the Prairies demand especial notice. These are vast plains, generally covered by deep herbage, and which form a level so dead and uniform, that it is impossible to resist the impression that they must have been once the bottoms of large sheets of water, since nothing but sedimentary deposition could produce a level so uniform.
The prevalence of the peninsular form with the pointing southwards is one of the most remarkable features in the configuration of the land. The angular point is also generally succeeded or surrounded by one, or several islands; and where such islands are not apparent, the tendency towards their formation is discoverable by the soundings, which prove the existence of shoals in the places where such islands would otherwise be apparent. A general view of the map of the world at the head of this lesson will strikingly illustrate these observations.
COLLECTIONS OF WATER.
Isolated — detached, alone.
Fathomed — measured by nautical measurement — a fathom is six feet.
THE principal part of the water on the globe occupies large depressions on the solid surface, known under the name of Oceans. These are connected together by comparatively narrow passages, and are therefore really united, forming one wide and continuous expanse of sea.
The different parts are, notwithstanding, known by distinct names, the most important being the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans. There are also some internal seas, or lakes, of considerable extent, as the Mediterranean, the Baltic, and others, which are almost entirely enclosed by land, and are filled with salt water, besides the great gulfs and bays of North America, and others better known, but far less extensive, in Europe.
The depth of the ocean varies exceedingly, and its bed is broken, like the surface of the land, into plateaux, forming shoals, and ranges of mountains, as well as isolated mountains, appearing above the surface in islands, and groups of islands.
The structure also of the land is often continued into the sea, beyond the extremities of continents, as in the Agulhas bank beyond the south extremity of Africa, and also the islands of Tierra del Fuego. In other cases, there is a rapid and very complete termination of the high ground on the coast in the course of a very small distance.
Many parts of the ocean have been fathomed, but in some places a line, whose length nearly equals the elevation of the loftiest peaks of the Himalayan chain, has failed to reach the bottom. Around our own coast the depth is very variable, not amounting to one hundred feet over great part of the German Ocean, while towards Norway, where the shore is bold, the depth is more than five thousand feet at a very short distance from the coast. The deep water commences also at a short distance from the shores of Ireland.
The ocean, over all parts of the Earth, contains a certain proportion of salt, which is not the same, however, for different seas, and even varies in different seasons and at various depths. The proportion is generally about three or four per cent., but is larger in the southern than the northern hemisphere, and in the Atlantic than the Pacific.
Deep seas are generally more saline than those that are shallow, and inland seas than the open ocean, but this is not invariably the case, as it depends on the proportion that the river-water flowing into the sea bears to the evaporation from its surface, and also partly to the influx of salt water. Thus, the Mediterranean, especially in the deeper parts, is much more salt than the open sea, but the Baltic is much less so.
The water of the sea is not only constantly kept in motion by the attraction of the sun and moon, producing the tidal waves, and by occasional disturbances the result of winds, but there are also bodies of water, as well in closed seas as in the open ocean, which are continually moving onwards in a fixed and constant direction, some of them depending on causes not less permanent than the globe itself, and others, although originated by the form of land and local influences, remaining constant for periods of time far longer than any records of man can reach. There are also periodical currents of greater and less importance.
Of these various currents, some are merely superficial, slow in their motion, easily turned aside by natural obstacles, such as sand-banks, projecting head-lands, and resulting generally from constant winds; others are deep, broad, and sometimes even rapid; their temperature is different from that of the ocean through which they make their way, and they proceed like rivers through a great continent keeping a course which sometimes extends for thousands of miles.
Captain Maury writing of one of these currents says, "There is a river in the ocean. In the severest droughts it never fails, and in the mightiest floods it never overflows. Its banks and its bottoms are of cold water, while its current is of warm. The Gulf of Mexico is its fountain, and its mouth is in the Arctic Seas. It is the Gulf-Stream. There is in the world no other such majestic flow of waters. Its current is more rapid than the Mississippi or the Amazon, and its volume more than a thousand times greater.
"Its waters, as far out from the Gulf as the Carolina coasts, are of an indigo blue. They are so distinctly marked that their line of junction with the common sea-water may be traced by the eye. Often one half of the vessel may be perceived floating in Gulf-Stream water, while the other half is in common water of the sea; so sharp is the line, and such the want of affinity between those waters, and such, too, the reluctance, so to speak, on the part of those of the Gulf-Stream to mingle with the common water of the sea."
There is reason to believe that the warm waters of the Gulf-Stream are nowhere permitted, in the oceanic economy, to touch the bottom of the sea. There is everywhere a cushion of cool water between them and the solid parts of the earth’s crust.
This arrangement is suggestive, and strikingly beautiful. One of the benign offices of the Gulf-Stream is to convey heat from the Gulf of Mexico, where otherwise it would become excessive, and to disperse it in regions beyond the Atlantic for the amelioration of the climates of the British Islands and of all Western Europe.
Now cold water is one of the beet non-conductors of heat, and if the warm water of the Gulf-Stream were sent across the Atlantic in contact with the solid crust of earth — comparatively a good conductor of heat — instead of being sent across, as it is, in contact with a cold, non-conducting cushion of cool water to fend it from the bottom, all its heat would be lost in the first part of the way, and the soft climates of both France and England would be as that of Labrador, severe in the extreme, and ice-bound.
[Fig 63. Icebergs.]
WATER — ITS CHANGES, NATURE, & PROPERTIES.
Aeriform - resembling air.
Congelation — the process of passing from a fluid to a solid state, as the
change of water into ice.
Precipitation — In Chemistry, the separation of a heavier substance from a fluid with which it has been mixed, by the falling of the former to the bottom of the vessel.
a oonstant — invariably the same.
Humid — damp.
WATER is known in three states—the solid, the liquid, and the aeriform, and the amount of heat by which it is influenced at the moment determines its existence in one or other of these three conditions. Water becomes frozen by the abstraction of the heat necessary to its preservation in its natural state of fluidity; and it becomes vapour by the action of intense beat.
Icebergs afford an illustration of the congelation of water by cold, on the most magnificent scale. Many of these floating masses are of immense height and circumference, some having been observed towering above the surface of the sea to the astonishing height of 150 feet! Now as it is estimated that for every cubic foot above the surface, there must be at least 8 cubic feet below, it will be apparent that a block of ice of the above visible height must measure from top to bottom not less than 1350 feet.
The steam which issues from a vessel in the state of boiling is an illustration of evaporation by heat. It is to the evaporation continually going on from the surface of the seas and rivers that we owe the formation of clouds; and to the reaction of cold and electric phenomena upon these floating vapours, we are indebted for rain, hail, snow, and dew.
Captain Maury says, "Consider the great rivers — the Amazon and the Mississippi, for example. We see them day after day, and year after year, discharging immense volumes of water into the ocean.
" 'All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full.' (Eccl. i. 7). Where do the waters so discharged go, and where do they come from? They come from their sources, you will say. But whence are their sources supplied? for, unless what the fountain sends forth be returned to it again, it will fail and be dry.
"We see simply, in the waters that are discharged by these rivers, the amount by which the precipitation exceeds the evaporation throughout the whole extent of valley drained by them, and by precipitation I mean the total amount of water that falls from, or is deposited by the atmosphere, whether as dew, rain, hail, or snow.
"The springs of these rivers are supplied from the rain of heaven, and these rains are formed of vapours which are taken up from the sea, 'that it be not full,' and carried up to the mountains through the air.
"Note, 'the place whence the rivers come, thither they return again.'
"Behold how the waters of the Amazon, of the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and all the great rivers of America, Europe, and Asia, are lifted up by the atmosphere, and flowing in invisible streams back through the air to their sources among the hills, and that through channe1s so regular, certain, ad well defined, that the quantity thus conveyed one year with the other is nearly the same : for that is the quantity which we see running down to the ocean through these rivers; and the quantity discharged annually by each river is, as far as we can judge, nearly a constant."
A process of evaporation is constantly proceeding from the surface of streams, rivers, lakes, and from the humid earth itself; the beneficial effects of this grand natural phenomenon are powerfully set forth in the Sacred Writings.
"God maketh small the drops of water, they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof, which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly, that the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase." Again, — "Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God which is full of water, thou preparest them corn when thou hast so provided for it; thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly, thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing thereof."
How eloquent, how beautiful, are these passages, how calculated to enlighten, adorn, exalt, and purify the mind of the philosopher, and lead him to extol with reverence and gratitude the Giver of every good and perfect gift!
The bed of the ocean, like the land, of which it is the continuation, is diversified by plains and mountains, tablelands and valleys, sometimes barren, sometimes covered with marine vegetation, and teeming with life. Now it sinks into depths which the sounding-line has never fathomed, now it appears in chains of islands, or rises near to the surface in hidden reefs and shoals, perilous to the mariner. Springs of fresh water rise from the bottom, volcanoes eject their lavas and scoriae, and earthquakes trouble the deep waters.
The ocean is continually receiving the spoils of the land, and from that cause would constantly be decreasing in depth, and, as the quantity of water is always the same, its superficial extent would increase. There are, however, counteracting causes to check this tendency: and it may be concluded that the balance is always maintained between the sea and land, although the distribution may vary in the lapse of time.
[Fig 64. Horizontal Section of the Earth's Crust.]
[A. The lowest rock — Granite, rising on the right and left to elevated peaks. B. The lowest sedimentary rocks, changed by the heat of the under-lying granite, and therefore called metamorphic rocks. C. The strata above them. viz., slates, sandstones, limestones, coal measures. &c., deposited after B. D. Lava breaking through the strata, forming an active volcano. E. A slip or fault, often met with in mining operations, where strata, once continuous are separated. F. Basaltic, or trap-rocks.]
SUBSTANCE OF THE EARTH.
Stratum - strata - layers; in geology, layers of rocks, &c.
Stratified — arranged in layers.
Attrition — friction; wearing away by action.
Argillaceous — consisting at pure white clay.
Antediluvian — before the time of the Deluge
Hypothesis — a supposition.
THE crust of the earth consists of soil, clay, and other mineral substances of various characters, lying in strata, varying in thickness. In sinking a shaft the stratum of soil is soon passed through, other strata in succession present themselves, and this succession is not a matter of chance, but, with certain exceptions, is in an invariable order.
Some of the rocks composing these strata, are loose and easily crumbled, as chalk; others do not hold together at all, as sand, others are soft, as clay; while others are hard, as stone; some are divided into layers, others are in masses.
There are two great classes of rocks, the stratified, and the unstratified. In their natural position the unstratified rocks are below all the stratified ones; but certain convulsions have
taken place in the earth, it is supposed by the agency of fire, which have uplifted the unstratified rocks, and displaced the formations which with them constitute the crust of the earth, and which therefore present more or lees of an inclination upwards.
These unstratified rocks consist of different kinds of granite, and by their upheaval have enabled us to acquire our knowledge of the overlying beds, for the subterranean force which brought them so high above the more level surface of the earth, brought up also the masses of rock resting upon them; and thus we have obtained a general idea of the stratification of the earth’s crust.
To go into more detail :— the first series of formations embrace the modern, or alluvium, including the surface soil, and deposits of sand, clay, and gravel, formed by the ordinary action of water. The diluvium, consisting of deposits of gravel and clay, with boulder stones more or less rounded by attrition, which have been transported from a distance by the extraordinary action of water. Hence the term drift applied to the latter depositions.
Next come the Tertiary formations — an extensive series of regular strata, marine and fresh-water deposits, alternating, Consisting of marls, clays, thin beds of sand, and imperfect limestones, or crag.
After these are the Secondary formations which comprise vast beds of chalk, clay, argillaceous slate or shale, sandstones, coal, ironstone, and limestone.
Below these are the Transition rocks, sometimes called the Silurian system, consisting of limestones, sandstones, varieties of slate and shale.
The Primary, or unstratified rocks consist of immense beds of hard and compact slaty strata, of crystalline structure.
The depth of the earth’s crust is very trifling, compared with the mass of the earth; to give some idea of it a circle might be drawn of a foot in diameter, and thickened to rather less than the sixteenth of an inch; this thickness would represent the crust of the earth to the depth of from five to ten miles, and to this thin film, representing and including all the strata from the surface soil to the granitic rocks the inquiries of the Geologist are limited.
"When geology was first cultivated it was a general belief, that marine shells and other fossils were the effects and proofs of the general deluge. But all who have carefully investigated the phenomena have long rejected this doctrine. A transient flood might be supposed to leave behind it, here and there upon the surface, scattered heaps of mud, sand, and shingle, with shells confusedly intermixed; but the strata containing fossils are not superficial deposits, and do not cover the earth, but constitute the entire mass of mountains. It has been also the favourite notion of some modern writers, who are aware that fossil bodies cannot all be referred to the deluge, that they, and the strata in which they are entombed, may have been deposited in the bed of the ocean during a period of several thousand years which intervened between the creation of man and the deluge. They imagine that the antediluvian bed of the ocean, after having been the receptacle of many stratified deposits, became converted, at the time of the flood, into the lands which we inhabit, and that the ancient continents were at the same time submerged, and became the bed of the present sea. This hypothesis, however preferable to the diluvial theory, as admitting that all fossiliferous strata were slowly and successively thrown down from water, is yet wholly inadequate to explain the repeated revolutions which the earth has undergone, and the signs which the existing continents exhibit, in most regions, of having emerged from the ocean at an era far more remote than four thousand years from the present time."
SUBSTANCE OF THE EARTH. (CONTINUED.)
Oo1ites — a system of rocks which take their name from the presence In them
of limestone in small rounded particles.
Lias - a species of limestone.
Saliferous — containing salt.
Silurian — the name given to a series rocks, which are well developed in that
part of England and Wales which constituted the ancient British kingdom of
THE earth on which we live, the soil we cultivate, the alluvium and the diluvium deposits must be passed through before we reach the Tertiary Strata; this formation is estimated to occupy several hundred yards, including its beds of clay, marls, sands, and gravels. In these comparatively recent beds are found the fossil remains of many gigantic mammalia, including the Mammoth, the Hippopotamus, the Rhinoceros, the Megatherium, Paloeotherium, Glyptodon, and others (see cut 74); some extinct, and many recent shells.
When we arrive at the Secondary group, there is first a general thickness of 200 yards of chalk, then 160 yards of green sand; these strata contain fossils of zoophytes, star-fish, and belemnites. The Wealden clay, 300 yards deeper, contains relics of the Iguanodon, a crocodilian animal of extraordinary size (see cut 73); many land plants and fresh-water shells.
The Portland, Oxford, and Bath Oolites extend nearly 500 yards deeper and are intermixed with clays, and limestones, their fossils being ammonites, corallines, and gryphoeas, with remains of a larger animal, the Megalosaurus (see cut 74). The Lias comes next and extends about 350 yards in depth, it abounds with ammonites, belemnites, and gryphoeas, with remains of many of the Saurians (see cut 72).
[Fig 65. Gryphoea.]
[Fig 66. Belemnite.]
The Saliferous or New Red Sandstone system follows for 300 yards; this sandstone has no organic remains, beneath it is the Magnesian Limestone, or Dolomite, to a depth of 100 yards, containing a few bivalves, other shells, and corallines, with fishes of remarkable forms.
[Fig 67. Coralline.]
The Coal-measures, extending to a depth of 1,000 yards are found below this limestone, their strata are mingled with strata of millstone grit, sandstone, thin limestone, flag-stone, and iron-stone; these measures abound with fossil plants of extinct genera.
This series of strata is followed by the mountain limestone, 800 yards in thickness, subdivided by sandstones, shales, coal seams, and deposits of lead ore; then by the old red sand stone from 100 to 3,000 yards, which contains a few fishes and other fossils.
[Fig 68. Fossil Fish.]
The Silurian rocks consist of several strata, comprising a thickness of 2,500 yards, these strata are composed of sandstone, limestone and shales of various kinds; in some of the beds spirifera and terebratula are found, in others corallines, and encrinites in great abundance, and in others trilobites.
[Fig 69. Spirifera.]
[Fig 70. Encrinite.]
[Fig 71. Trilobite.]
Lower still are the slate rocks, which, however, approach the surface in Cumberland, Westmoreland, Lancashire, and North Wales; in them very few fossils have been found.
The rocks which are yet deeper are composed of mica-schist and gneiss, two of the most abundant of the older stratified rocks; they come to the surface in Perthsire and Argyleshire, and in the isle of Jura. No organic remains are found in them, and their thickness is not known.
After these formations granite is found, it may be considered as generally forming a basis or bed for all the other rocks — rising in some places from its unmeasured depths into chains of lofty hills — and in other places penetrating in veins through superincumbent rocks, and partially covering them. It composes a considerable portion of the mountain ranges of Cornwall, Cumberland, Wicklow, in Ireland, and the Scottish Highlands. The A1ps, the Pyrenees, the Dofrefelds, the Abyssinian and other ranges in Africa, and the Andes in South America, are all more or less composed of rocks partaking of a granite character.
The annexed diagram will give some idea of the succession of the strata, showing the principal groups or systems, with their order of superposition, as developed in Great Britain.
It must not be supposed, however, that the stratified rocks always occur in any portion of the earth’s crust in full and complete succession, as here represented: all that is meant is, that such would be their order if every group and formation were present. But whatever number of groups may be present, they never happen out of their regular order of superposition — that is, clay-slate never occurs above coal, nor coal above chalk.
Thus at London, tertiary strata occupy the surface; in Durham, magnesian limestone; in Fife, the coal measures; and in Perthshire the old red sand-stone and clay-slate; so that it would be fruitless to dig for chalk in Durham, for magnesian limestone in Fife, or for coal in Perthshire.
It would not be absurd, however, to dig for coal in Durham because that mineral underlies the magnesian limestone; or for old red sandstone in Fife, because that formation might be naturally expected to occur under the coal strata of that country, in the regular order of succession.
[Fig 73. Animals of the Secondary Period.]
[1. Ichtyosaurus. 2. Plesiosaurus. 3. Teleosaurus. 4. Pterodactyl. 5. Hyloeosaurus. 6. Iguanadon. 7. Labyrinthodon.]
Labyrinthodon - an order of fossil reptiles, so called from the complex wavy
structure of their teeth, as shown in section.
Plesiosaurus — a fossil reptile akin to a lizard.
Ichthyosaurua — a fossil animal resembling both a fish and a lizard.
Teleosaurus — a complete lizard.
Pliosaurus — a swimming lizard.
Pterodactyl — a fossil flying reptile with a wing-finger.
THE following extracts from Professor Ansted’s Treatise on Geology in Orr’s Circle of the Sciences will give a good idea of the gigantic animals living on the earth during the Secondary Formations.
"We may first imagine a wide, low, sandy district, by the sea side; the limestone hills and cliffs now rising boldly on the shores of the Avon and in Derbyshire and Yorkshire had then been recently elevated, and formed part of the land; and on the sandy banks, just above the ordinary level of high water, wandered ancient and singular animals of which a few fragments only have been handed down for our observation. Amongst these we may safely enumerate one little lizard, with a birdlike beak and bird’s feet, many turtles and tortoises, and a multitude of birds - some larger than an ostrich, others as small as our smallest waders.
"But strangest of all among these would appear the gigantic Labyrinthodon, and its smaller congeners. One of these animals, nearly as large as a rhinoceros, comes leisurely pacing over the sands, leaving behind it the vast imprint of its hind feet, contrasting oddly with the little toes of the fore extremities. One of the smaller of these animals, provided with a long and thick tail, recognised by the mark with which it has indented the soft mud it passed over, may have sought, perhaps successfully,, to escape from the attack of its larger but slow enemy. Both would approach the water as the best field for their exertions, and we should soon have no vestiges of their having been present, beyond the imprints of their feet, made on the rippled surface of the tenacious mud, as they passed along.
"The 8hores and shallows, and probably also the open sea to some distance from land, were at this time peopled by multitudes of moderate sized fishes, varying from a few inches to three or four feet in length, living chiefly on the crabs, lobsters, and shell-fish of various kinds, which we have reason to know were extremely abundant. These fishes had a hard, solid pavement of teeth covering the palate, to crush the shells and stony eases of their prey. They were themselves also inclosed in a strong enamelled armour, and perhaps fed not only on offal, and on the less powerful invertebrata, but on each other. Further out at sea were tribes of sharks, of various sizes and different species, but all voracious and predaceous in the highest degree, and some of them attaining very large dimensions. No fishes, such as are now most common about our own or the neighbouring shores, then existed on the earth.
"But the fishes, although represented by a powerful and important group, had ceased to be the lords of creation in the has seas. From the banks and shoals, crowded with myriads of living beings, the great Plesiosaurus, with its long neck and small wedge-shaped head lifted high in the air, might be seen paddling rapidly along, plunging into the deep water, and there, like the fabled sea-serpent, darting through the waves, and occasionally striking with unerring aim at its prey, consisting probably of fishes, turtles, and the larger cuttle-fish and other cephalopods, which were so plentiful.
"Next, let us picture to ourselves some of the deeper abysses of the ocean, and seek for the powerful and rapacious monsters whose abundant remains prove how important was the part they then played. Prowling about far below the surface, but with an eye glaring upwards, like a large globe of fire, the Icthyosaurus may be supposed to distinguish the work going on above, and watch the plesiosaur in its search after prey. Suddenly and with one stroke of its powerful fore paddles, and the powerful action of its huge tail-fin, it rises with the velocity of lightning to the surface; its vast mouth, lined with formidable rows of teeth, opens wide, to the full extent; it overtakes the object of its attack, and with a motion quicker than thought the jaws close, and perhaps some plesiosaur falls a prey. Not always, however, would it fall a resistless prey, or die unrevenged, for there can be little doubt that, with the advantage of position, the stroke of the head of this slight but active reptile might occasionally reverse the picture, and insure victory to the less powerful of the combatants.
"The plesiosaurus and ichthyosaurus were but two of several genera of large reptiles whose more or less aquatic habits have been the cause of their remains being preserved in the has. Some, as the Teleosaurus, resembled the gavial, or crocodile of the Ganges, and were more abundant in more modern deposits — others, such as the pterodactyl, being dependent on land to some extent, are rarely met with. Probably many of the new red sandstone reptiles extended into the lias, and ranged through the whole period; but these were chiefly confined to shoals and low flat shores, and thus not found in the deep water mud.
"Now let us imagine ourselves placed on some projecting head-land, commanding a view of the open sea, which at that time covered the greater part of our island, and enabling us to watch the progress of events near some low flat island, a sandy shore of the oolitic period, on which a few palms are sen, and which present a back-ground of pines and ferns towards the interior of the country.
"Here, near the shore would appear one of those crocodilian animals, with its long, slender snout, and fin-like extremities, admirably adapted to swim and obtain prey in the water, but hiding in the mud, and lying for hours like the trunk of a tree on the muddy bank.
"At a little distance in the shallow water numerous representatives of the plesiosaur and ichthyosaur would be seen, and with them some curious forms of reptilian animals, combining some of the peculiarities of these two genera. We may imagine one of these, the Pliosaurus, as it advances its great mass through the water. Its huge lizard-like head contrasts strangely with the fish-like body which is attached to the head without an intervening neck, and the absence of a powerful vertical tail is fully made up by the extremities, which are several feet in length, and admirably adapted to be used as fins. With one stroke of these fins we see the whole enormous mass shoot along with terrible rapidity; and a large shark, pursuing and feeding upon other prey, in a moment falls a victim to the greater strength and activity of this marine monster.
"Quitting the prospect thus presented at sea, let us next turn our eyes towards the land. Here the long-snouted crocodile, whom we before observed gorging himself with the fish in the shallow bay, sleeps either half buried in the mud on shore near a jungle, or in an estuary. His length is perhaps 18 or 20 feet, and he is admirably contrived to swim and dive, and attack his prey in the water; but on land, like many animals of this kind, he is more helpless. Now, however, the crashing sound accompanying the motion of a heavy animal through brushwood is heard approaching rapidly; and soon a monster is seen taller than an elephant, but not provided with a long trunk to twine about and pull down the branches of trees. Instead of this we perceive a prodigiously long and powerful but narrow snout, armed throughout with the most singular arrangement of sharp and strong knife-like teeth. Onward comes this giant of the plains. To its head is attached a moderately long neck, and a body half as long again as that of the elephant, and thick and massive in proportion. Huge living columns support this body, and are based on feet each of them large and strong enough to crush a dozen pigmies like ourselves. With one stroke of its fore feet, armed with powerful claws, the gorged crocodile is struck dead, and at is soon devoured, as if such a meal was scarce worthy of consideration.
"What however, is the strangely formed animal that now appears running along upon the ground like a bird, its elevated body and long neck not covered with feathers but with skin, naked or resplendent with glittering scales, its head like the head of a lizard or crocodile, and of a size almost preposterous compared with that of the body, and its long fore extremities so oddly stretched out and connected by a membrane with the body and the hind legs?
"Soon another strange phenomenon is presented — a mailed creature in the air, of no contemptible size, and realizing, or even surpassing in strangeness, the mythological accounts of the flying dragon, and the pictures given by the Chinese. This, however, is merely the flying reptile whose terrestrial appearance we have just described. It is the Pterodactyl; its fore arm, hand, and finger extended, and the interspace filled up by a tough membrane; its head and neck stretched out like that of the heron in its flight, and the creature from time to time seizing the insects which it pursues, and devouring them with avidity. Perhaps this monster might occasionally be seen flying towards the sea, and there darting down on some devoted fish, or even diving beneath the surface in search of prey, and exhibiting the most singular and perfect combination of locomotive powers yet known."
EXTINCT ANIMALS. (CONTINUED.)
[Fig 74. Extinct Animals, chiefly of the Tertiary Period.]
[1. Megolosaurus. 2. Mammoth. 3. Megatherium. 4. Paleotherium. 5 Anoplotherium. 6. Glyptodon. 7. Anoplotherium gracilis.]
pa1otherium — fossil species of deer.
Anoplotherium — a fossil pachyderm without organs for defence.
mastodon — a fossil elephant, with nipple-like, prominences on its teeth.
Megatherium — a large extinct animal of the sloth kind.
Glytodon — a fossil animal covered with scales, and having fluted teeth.
"Making use of the various means that exist, by the help of careful observation of actual fossils, and reasoning by analogy, it has been concluded that the tertiary period in Europe, Asia, and in North America, exhibits a series of changes during which these parts of the world were gradually assuming their present physical condition, while the inhabitants were becoming more and more like those now occupying the same latitude. The changes thus involved are both considerable and important. In those very spots which men have made the centres of civilization and commerce, in the immediate neighbourhood of the two great metropolitan cities of England and France, we also find, by a somewhat strange coincidence, the most striking and interesting remains of the earth’s ancient condition, and convincing proofs that the former inhabitants were as widely different from those now indigenous, as these are from the animals at present found in Eastern Asia.
"It is not unlikely that the land at that time, in our latitudes, consisted of islands deeply indented by bays and inlets, some of them perhaps of large size, having considerable rivers, depositing various beds of mud and sand. The neighbouring seas were tenanted by many large sharks, by gigantic rays, by sword-fishes, saw-fishes, and many others now almost confined to the eastern extremity of the Old World, or found in the Gulf of Mexico. With these were many animals inhabiting shells, now also confined within similar limits; but there were also with them a number of fishes and shell-fish, far more closely allied to the species now living on our own shores. The coast-line of this sea seems to have possessed peculiar features, being clothed with rich and almost tropical vegetation to the water’s edge, and exhibiting in abundance palm-trees, cocoa-nuts, and many of those shrubs which characterize the islands of the eastern Archipelago. The rivers, and perhaps the sea near the coast, were peopled with crocodiles ;— turtles, and tortoises of various kinds, lived either in or near the water; and in most respects we must seek for the nearest representation of such a combination at very distant spots, and under very different climatal conditions.
"Nor was the state of existence in the interior less striking and peculiar. Troops of monkeys, some of them of large size, might then have been seen skipping from branch to branch on the forest trees. Opossums were associated with the squirrels, and a racoon was among the quadrupeds common in western Europe, while wolves and foxes had already been introduced, and species were co-existent with those animals now widely removed from association with them. Serpents of various size, but some altogether gigantic, assisted in the destruction of the numerous tree-quadrupeds living on vegetable food. Birds, too, were then abundant, and amongst them we find that the tribe, now the natural enemy of the serpents, was also present.
"But it is most probable that the chief deposits, of which we have cognizance, were made either near rivers, or not far from extensive marshes. Just as at present we find the low and unhealthy swamps of Sumatra, and extensive tracts in South America, peopled by the tapir, so then there was a complete group of nearly similar animals of the extinct genera, Paleotherium and Anoplotherium, adapted to similar localities. Very various in size and proportions, and very different in their habits, some of these (the Anoplotheres) swam readily, and lived chiefly in the water, being provided with a long powerful tail, serving as a rudder. Others, again, referred to the same genus, tripped along lightly on the borders of the marshes, feeding, like the musk deer, on the aromatic shrubs that were there abundant. Others, more timid, and constantly on the alert, were enabled to course rapidly along, and escape by flight, or conceal themselves in their burrows beneath the surface. Groups of these animals are amongst the restorations in the grounds of the Crystal Palace, at Sydenham.
"A little later in the period, and when a larger quantity of land had been elevated, new and more gigantic races were introduced. Among these was one group of true elephants; another, of equal or even greater size, the Mastodon, whose teeth seem adapted for food somewhat tougher than that which the alternate plates of enamel and bone in the elephant were enabled to crush, and whose body was somewhat larger; while a third (the Dinothere), was more like the tapir in its habits, but more gigantic in its proportions.
"After remaining for some time in this condition, the land seems to have become more extensive, to have been clothed with abundant vegetation chiefly of forest trees, and to have been peopled by numerous large ruminants, and by many of those carnivorous animals of large size, now confined to the eastern and southern district. of the old continents. This was the last condition before the introduction of man upon the earth.
"In the vast forests of that day, there moved about, slowly perhaps, and with some little difficulty, a singular and clumsy looking monster; its body larger than that of an elephant, and its hinder extremities many times thicker and stronger in proportion; endowed with a degree of resisting strength, compared with which, almost every existing animal would rank as powerless. The habits of this creature were, it may be supposed, rather peculiar. Judging from its heavy hind extremities and powerful tail — the arrangement of its forelegs, in which it somewhat resembled the bear — the nature of its head and teeth, and the form and strength of its claws, we may safely imagine it performing the task of the modern sloth, its nearest representative, but enabled to root up and pull down the trees of the forest, instead of climbing to strip them of their leaves. The creature here referred to is the megatherium, and there were several smaller but still gigantic animals similarly constituted, and assisting to clear away leaves and twigs, by bringing their powerful though sluggish limbs to bear upon the task.
"At present, the armadillo clears away the decaying wood and offal of all kind, in the Brazilian forests, and a magnified representative accompanied the megathere. The glyptodon, as this animal was called, is known by a complete specimen of the hard, horny covering or shell, in the College of Surgeons; and the length of this specimen is nearly twelve feet on the curve, from the tip of the tall to the snout, while its height is between four and five feet.
"Large rodents, or gnawing animals, horses, and several other species nearly allied to existing races, accompanied these singular animals.
"The islands of the South Pacific Ocean of this same hemisphere may, perhaps, when fully investigated, lead us to some knowledge of the great continent which once, probably, extended across from Australia nearly to Madagascar. Gigantic birds have already been found in New Zealand, and these are the ancient representatives of the apteryx and of the dodo, the former a New Zealand wingless bird, and the latter an extinct species found in the Mauritius, singularly analogous to the dinornis in some important points of structure. Perhaps we may yet hope to recover further indications of the inhabitants of a district which seems cut off so singularly from the rest of the world, and which, in so large a part, is now buried beneath the waves of the great Pacific Ocean."EARTHS, SALTS, AND THEIR USES.
Tabasheer — a Persian word used to designate the concretion of silex found
in the joints of the bamboo.
Petuntze — the name of the fusible clay with which the Chinese manufacture
Calcareous — having the properties of or containing lime.
Rhomboid - a four sided irregular figure.
Friability — the property of being easily crumbled.
Lamellar — arranged in small plates or scale.
THE simple earths which enter into the composition of rocks, and which are found to prevail in the greatest abundance in nature, are silica, alumina, lime, and magnesia. There are others more sparingly diffused. To these are to be added the two alkalies, potassa and soda, which are also found in considerable quantities, and the various metals, with carbon and sulphur.
But substances on the earth’s surface are rarely seen in their original simple state, or as they can be obtained by the analysis of the chemist. In fact, we only see them after they have undergone a series of changes and chemical combinations. Thus, oxygen, one of the ingredients of the atmosphere, enters largely into combination with the substances above mentioned; and though, in its simple state, a light and invisible gas, becomes consolidated in the earths and metals, and forms sometimes one-third or one-half of the solid contents of rocks and minerals.
SILICA, OR QUARTZ, is seen in nearly a pure state, in rock crystal, flint, agate, chalcedony, and in the siliceous sand of the sea shore. It is white, tasteless, and inodorous, and so hard, that it cannot be scratched with steel; but on the contrary it scratches glass, and most other minerals. It is found in masses, in veins, and in crystals.
Silica requires an intense heat for its fusion — is insoluble in water, and in all the acids except the fluoric. Silica s one of the most abundant of all earths, and besides existing in a pure or nearly pure state, as rock crystal, chalcedony, flint, agate, and opal, it enters into combination with many of the other earths, forming rocky masses, and minerals, and precious gems, as the garnet, amethyst, and many others.
Silica is found in some vegetable productions, as the stalks of reeds and the different kinds of grain. It forms the outer coating of the bamboo, which will strike fire with steel, and the substance called tabasheer is composed of the mineral. A mixture of silica and soda forms glass; of silica and alumina the various kinds of china ware and pottery are made.
ALUMINA, or clay earth, is seldom found pure in nature, but in combination with other substances is extremely abundant. Clayey substances, when breathed upon, exhale a peculiar earthy odour, which is a distinctive mark of alumina. When perfectly pure, it is of a white colour.
Alumina, in its purest form, and crystallized, is the chief ingredient of some of our most beautiful gems, as the topaz, and other varieties of the 8apphire. Alumina yields a bluish white metal, of a silvery lustre. It can be wrought with the same ease as silver, and is extensively used by the silversmith and jeweller in the production of ornaments for dress.
FELSPAR is a very abundant mineral: from its containing a large proportion of alumina it is employed in the manufacture of pottery ware. The finest material of this kind is the Chinese felspar, called Petuntze. Cornwall supplies the greatest proportion of that used in the English manufactories.
Felspar composes a great part of the Pentland Hills, but it is too much tinged with iron ore to be useful in the arts. The Labrador felspar is a beautiful mineral, reflecting a variety of hues, according to its position to the rays of light.
Lime is a very prevalent ingredient in rocks, and combined with carbonic acid, forms marble, chalk, and limestone, of various degrees of hardness. The purest carbonate of lime is found in calcareous spar, whose crystals assume a variety of forms, all, however, resulting from a primary rhomboid. It also exists in great purity in Carrara marble, used in statuary.
All minerals composed of lime are readily distinguished from quartz, by their being so soft as to be easily scratched with a knife. The carbonates of lime are known also by the effervesence or escape of carbonic acid gas, which takes place when any acids, as the muriatic, is dropt on them. Lime is readily dissolved in almost all the acids.
Lime enters largely into the composition of animal bodies, forming the solid part of the bones and teeth, and the shells of many molluscs. It is extensively used in agriculture, and enters into the composition of vegetables. It is diffused in the ocean, in the form of muriate of lime, and exists in many springs.
MAGNESIA is a white-looking light earth, somewhat similar to lime, and enters into the composition of several minerals, although it is not by any means so extensively diffused as the other earths which have been enumerated. Most minerals - containing magnesia have a greenish appearance and soapy feel, such as asbestos, talc, soapstone. Combined with lime, it forms beds of magnesian limestone.
POTASSA and SODA are mineral alkalies, also existing in combination with the earths forming rocks, giving softness and friability to granite, and a peculiar character to basalt.
Potassa enters largely into the composition of vegetable and animal bodies. Soda exists in considerable abundance in the water of the ocean, in marine vegetables, in salt springs, and in combinations with muriatic acid in extensive beds of rock salt.
MICA is a compound of alumina, silica, magnesia, and oxide of iron. It is of a lamellar texture, and is easily split into thin, flexible, elastic, and transparent plates. These plates, before the invention of glass, were used as window panes, and in some remote parts of Russia are still employed for this purpose. They are also, from their extreme thinness and transparency, employed to enclose minute objects for the microscope.
Mica is so soft as to be easily scratched with the nail. Its usual colours are gray, brown, and sometimes black; occasionally it is found crystallized in four and six-sided prisms. It is distinguished from talc, a substance very similar, by being flexible or easily bent, while the latter is brittle and inflexible. Quartz, felspar, and mica are the chief ingredients of granite.
METALS AND THEIR USES.
Disseminated - widely spread.
Thermometer — an instrument for measuring the temperature.
Barometer — an instrument for measuring the weight or pressure of the air.
amalgam — a compound of mercury with another metal. Medallists commonly apply the term to soft alloys.
THE metals are a class of simple substances, possessed of a peculiar lustre, having the property of conducting heat and electricity with great facility; but both in their chemical and physical properties they differ very much from each other, and are consequently applicable to a great variety of uses. The metals at present known amount to fifty-one in number.
With the exception of gold and platina, metals arerarely found in a pure state, but are generally combined with other substances. Sulphur is the most common ingredient of metallic ores, and when metals are combined with this substance, they are called suiphurets. Oxygen and the acids also enter into combination with the metals, converting them into earthy looking substances, and destroying their metallic aspect and character.
hence, metallic ores, when dug out of the earth, have to undergo first the process of roasting, or subjection to a considerable heat, to free them from sulphur; and afterwards, smelting, or the application of a greater heat combined with various fluxes, to reduce them to their true metallic character.
Metallic ores occupy cracks or fissures in rocks; certain earthy substances accompany them and serve to fill up the fissures. These substances are called the matrix, and consist generally of quartz, of carbonate or sulphate of barytes, of fluor spar, or sometimes of clayey materials.
The general direction of metallic veins is from east to west; these veins are called lodes, or right running. Occasionally, however, other veins, from north to south, cross these, and either join with, or dislocate and interrupt them; such are called cross courses.
Metallic veins vary in shape and thickness. The common width of veins is from one to two feet, although occasionally they are found thirty feet. The depth to which metallic veins extend is unknown, as there is no instance of a vein having been wrought to a termination.
Metallic veins are wrought by digging a shaft down to the vein, by which the workmen descend and quarry it out. As frequent springs of water are met with, it is necessary to open up other horizontal tunnels, proceeding from this perpendicular shaft, by which the water may be drained off.
GOLD and SILVER are found in granite, gneiss, syenite, porphyry, greywacke, and the oldest 8andstones. Gold has been sometimes found in coal, and volcanic rocks, and is disseminated extensively, in minute particles, in the sand of some rivers.
There is a large annual product of gold in Hungary, in Siberia, and in the Ural mountains, but the chief supplies of recent years have been obtained from California and Australia.
Gold as a money, or circulating medium, offers incalculable advantages for commerce; it possesses every quality for coin. It has a value which may be considered invariable; is of limited production; easy of subdivision; and transport; and is susceptible of receiving an impression certifying its purity and weight.
The beautiful colour of Gold, and the splendid polish it is capable of receiving, have caused it to be largely employed for dress and decoration. But objects of pure gold are not only too expensive, but are too soft to retain their shape; and hence it is usually alloyed with some other metal, chiefly copper.
Fortunately for luxury, a peculiar property of gold enables to cover with it all sorts of substances, which thus acquire, externally, all the brilliancy of the metal itself. Silver, copper, iron, stone, porcelain, glass, wood, ivory, silk, may all be invested with the dazzling robe of this king of the metals.
SILVER is sometimes found native or pure, but more commonly combined with other matter. The mines of New Spain are the richest in the world.
Although silver is not so ductile as gold, it comes next in order of facility for drawing into wire; indeed, silver wire may be made of such fineness, that a grain of silver may be drawn out into a wire of four hundred feet long. It is also easily rolled out into thin sheets, and may be beaten into leaves of the hundred-thousandth of an inch in thickness.
Silver is never used in a state of purity, either for coin, medals, plate, or statues, &c.; but is mixed with a proportion of copper, which, for English coin, is three parts of copper, to thirty-seven of silver; with regard to plate, the proportions vary. The reason why copper is introduced, is to give greater hardness and durability.
The beauty and cleanliness of Silver render it particularly appropriate for the purposes to which it is applied, as plate for use, and as ornamental vases, epergnes, candelabra, statues, &c., in which the burnished parts contrast beautifully with those that are chased or deadened.
QUICKSILVER or MERCURY is found in slate, limestone, and coal strata, occasionally native, but more generally as a red sulphuret or cinnabar. It has the peculiar property of remaining in a fluid state at ordinary temperatures. The mines in Peru furnish this metal in great quantities.
The uses of Mercury are many and important. Various chemical preparations are made with it, some of which are very extensively used in medicine, and with great effect. Some are a deadly poison; such is the corrosive sublimate, the antidote to which is, the whites of eggs taken in a large quantity, which converts the sublimate into calomel.
For all those purposes of science or the arts, where it is necessary to ascertain temperature and atmospheric pressure, quicksilver is invaluable; it being used for thermometers and barometers. But as it congeals in very cold regions, it is necessary, for observations near the poles, and sometimes for those made above the region of perpetual congelation, to use thermometers filled with spirits of wine, coloured to render it visible.
The reflecting property of mirrors is due to the amalgam of mercury and tin upon the hinder surface of the plate of glass. Sheet tin is laid on an even table of marble, and over this quicksilver is spread; the glass is then laid upon it and pressed with heavy weights, to squeeze out the excess of the mercury; the table being then raised a little, the mercury runs off, and the glass-plate being removed, the amalgam is found adhering to it.
The next use of mercury is for the preparation of that beautiful colour vermilion, which is a combination of one hundred parts of mercury, and sixteen parts of sulphur. The Dutch are supposed to be possessed of some particular secret, by means of which they make this beautiful colour better than any other people in Europe.
METALS AND THEIR USES. (CONTINUED.)
Sonorous — giving forth sound.
Alluvial soils — recent deposits of earth, &c.
COPPER ORES are found as sulphurets — as copper pyrites; or as carbonates, assuming a beautiful blue colour, as malachite, or green copper ore; and phosphates and arseniates of copper. Ores of copper are found in porphyry, syenite, greywacke, and red sandstone.
As copper does not strike fire like iron, it is used in place of the latter metal in all the machinery of gunpowder-mills, and for powder-magazines. The sonorous quality of copper renders it peculiarly fit for many musical instruments, which are accordingly made of it, sometimes pure, and sometimes alloyed with tin or zinc.
A great quantity of copper is used for coin in most European countries, though, in some, the lower coins are made of a whitish alloy. It answers admirably for medals, and was used for this object at a very early date. Copper wire is so tenacious, that a wire of less than one tenth of an inch in diameter will sustain a weight of 175 lbs.
Philosophical instruments of all kinds, bells, cymbals, gongs, specula for reflecting telescopes, microscopes, &c., statues, cannon, breastplates, helmets, watch and clock-work, boxes for wheels, ornaments for carriages, and harness, door-locks, hinges and handles, brackets, rings, candlesticks, pins, wire for musical instruments, and for a thousand other purposes, together with a multitude of other objects are all made of copper and its alloys.
IRON is the most abundant of all the metals, being found in every kind of rock, in sand, and alluvial soils. In small portions it has been found native, and possessed of magnetic properties. Iron pyrites, or sulphuret of iron, is a very common cubical crystal, found in slates and shales. Hematite, or brown iron ore, is also very common; clay iron ore, and brown compact ore, are the kinds most usually employed for smelting.
It is a very fortunate circumstance, that, in most cases, the Iron-stone and the coal necessary for smelting it are found in the same locality. The coal-fields in the South of Staffordshire, those of Monmouthshire, in South Wales, with those of Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, supply more than three-fourths of the whole of the cast-iron produced in the kingdom.
STEEL is a compound of carbon and iron; it is prepared by a process called cementation. Bars of wrought-iron, of the proper quality, are imbedded in charcoal reduced to powder, and the whole submitted to intense heat, and excluded from contact with the air; after a sufficient time the iron bars are found to be converted into Steel. There is also another process, the result of which is called Cast-steel. Steel is susceptible of taking a much finer polish than can be given to Iron; and by what is called tempering acquires great hardness and elasticity.
Iron affords in the mineral kingdom, as flax does in the vegetable, a striking example of the increased value given to the raw material by the labour and ingenuity of man. One pound weight of crude iron, of the value of one halfpenny, being converted into Steel, may be made into 70,000 watch-springs, which, at half a guinea each, would make 35,000 guineas, or 17,640,000 times the original cost of the material!
A few of the principal uses of iron may be mentioned. Railways are now so numerous, that the iron required for these extraordinary creations of our time is immense. Add to this, the thousands of miles of iron-pipes for the distribution of water and gas in our cities ;— the bridges, pillars, railings, and balconies ;— the anchors, chain-cables, and iron-ships ;— the chains, the wire—ropes, and wire for every conceivable purpose ;—the iron-bedsteads for hospitals, barracks, and private houses ;— the grates, stoves, fire-irons, culinary vessels, and implements ;— the ploughs, scythes, spades, axes, and agricultural implements of every variety ;— machinery of all kinds, from the greatest and most complicated steam lace-making engine to a simple crane ;—horse-shoes and tires of wheels ;— nails and screws of every kind, in countless myriads ;— tools for every kind of handicraft ;— dies for coins and medals, &c. ;— springs of all sorts, from the ponderous and powerful springs of railway-carriages to the feather-springs of our chronometers and watches ;—magnetic needles for ships’ compasses ;— cutlery of all sorts, needles, steel—pens, &c., &c., &c. Indeed, we cannot look around us without seeing iron in some shape or other, and the quantity of manufactured iron, if it could be ascertained, would surprise the imagination.
TIN ore exists as an oxide and crystallized in granite, gneiss, mica slate, and clay slate, but not in limestone. It is abundant in Cornwall. One of the principal uses of tin is for the covering of sheet-iron, by immersion, in fluid tin, which, when so covered, is improperly called Tin. This tinned iron is manufactured into a thousand useful articles for culinary and other purposes.
GALENA, or sulphuret of lead, is the most usual form of this metal. It also exists as a carbonate and phosphate, and, along with zinc, is found in primary rocks, in greywacke, and, most abundantly in mountain limestone.
The uses of LEAD are very numerous, a very large quantity of this metal is converted by rolling, into what is called milled lead. This material is applied to the covering of roofs, also for coffins. When exceedingly thin it is employed for lining tea—chests. Leaden pipes for the conveyance of water are much used, it is also employed for water-tanks, but in both these applications its oxide is injurious, and other tanks and conduit pipes should be employed. Lead was formerly much more used than at present in the framing of window glass; and a large quantity is cast into bullets for muskets, rifles, pistols, &c., and converted into shot for the use of the sportsman.
The art of overlaying one metal with another, such as brass or copper with a covering of silver or gold is of great antiquity. This is effected by a process of washing, or gilding. Oil-gi1dinq is a mechanical application of gold leaf to an adhesive surface; water-gilding is a chemical process in which a mixture of gold, or silver, with mercury are amalgamated and rubbed over the inferior metal. In the process of silver-plating an ingot of copper or brass has a thin plate of silver soldered to it and is then rolled into thin sheets, and wrought into useful and ornamental forms, the silver side forming the exterior surface.
This beautiful art has however been almost superseded by the chemical processes of electro-plating, and electro-gilding, in which, by means of electricity, the metals intended to form the outer surface are dissolved in a bath, subjected to electric currents, from a galvanic battery, arranged for generating and sustaining these currents for a certain number of hours, or until a thin metallic layer is deposited over the surface.
A modification of this art, called Electro-typing has been applied to the copying of plaster-casts, medals, fruit, loaves, and even insects — to stereotyping, nature-printing, and the multiplying of copper plates, and steel engravings.
Hirsute — hairy, or bristly.
Shale — a slaty clay attached to coal.
Inlaying — ornamentation in patterns with wood, metals, or minerals.
MINERALOGISTS range combustibles into two classes, the simple and the compound; of the former the Diamond is one, and Graphite and Sulphur belong to the same class. The other combustible minerals are Coal, Bitumen, Naphtha, and Amber.
The DIAMOND is the hardest substance known, it will scratch every other body, but can itself be scratched by none. It is pure crystallized carbon, and carbon is only found pure in the diamond; several chemists have succeeded in burning it; anthracite coal is almost wholly composed of carbon.
GRAPHITE does not contain one atom of lead, although it is called Black-lead; 96 parts out of 100 are carbon, the other 4 parts are iron, some kinds contain Alumina, and Silica; the best quality of Graphite is obtained from the mine at Borrowdale in Cumberland. Its chief value is for pencils.
SULPHUR, Brimstone, Brenstone, or Firestone is found in many localities, chiefly in extinct or active volcanic regions. Europe is principally supplied with it from Sicily or Naples. Its principal uses are for the manufacture of gunpowder and fire-works, for the making of sulphuric acid, and also for making vermilion. This mineral is also used in large quantities in making matches, and in medicine; it exists in both animal and vegetable bodies. It is the sulphur contained in the yolk of an egg that blackens the silver spoon used in eating it. Cresses and horse-radish also contain sulphur.
"COAL," says Dr. Ure, "is the moat valuable of mineral treasures, that which, at least in Great Britain, makes all others available to the use and comfort of man." The average quantity of coal raised annually in Great Britain is 67 millions of tons, which is at least three times greater than the combined produce of all the remaining coal-fields of the world.
[Fig 75. Fern.]
[Fig 76. Calamite.]
[Fig 77. Sigillaria.]
With full foresight of the future use of coal, a provision was made by the Creator on such a stupendous scale as should for thousands of years supply the whole world with fuel. For countless ages was the earth covered with gigantic trees, and a thick undergrowth of plants from pole to pole. Forests of huge pines, tree-ferns, reed-like calamites, sculptured sigillaria, and the hirsute lepidodendron, were everywhere to be seen; while a rank and luxuriant herbage cumbered the vegetation below.
[Fig 78. Lepidodendron.]
At that time, no arctic regions, bound with ice and snow, checked the growth of vegetation, and limited its advance, but one uniform climate of fostering heat, with abundant moisture, prevailed over the whole globe. This is inferred from the vegetation of the coal period, displaying as it does the same genera, and most of the same species, throughout the whole of Europe and of North America, from the arctic regions as far south as the thirtieth parallel of north latitude.
Of the lapse of time in the formation of our coal-fields we cannot have the faintest conception; it is only measured by Him with whom a thousand years are as one day. But the magnitude of the time is not surpassed by the boundlessness of the providential care which laid up these terrestrial treasures in store for his children, whom He was afterwards to call into being.
We may comprehend the formation of a bed of coal by supposing a low-lying tract, subject to inundations from the sea, thickly covered with trees, plants, and herbage. After a time, a slow subsidence of this tract takes place, and then the brackish waters of the estuary, and the salt waters from the ocean, carrying dark mud in suspension, gradually submerge the whole. The deposit increases until it covers in one uniform sheet the accumulated growth of centuries.
After the subsidence has ceased, and the soil increased to a sufficient elevation, a fresh growth of vegetation takes place, and is continued for a long period of years. Generations of trees, ferns, and grasses spring up and die, till the pulpy mass attains a thickness of 20, 60, or 100 feet. Another subsidence takes place as before, and the whole bed of vegetable matter is subject to chemical and mechanical forces, till what was once a forest becomes eventually a mass of coal.
By a repetition of this process, coal-seams are formed one above another — in some cases, above fifty in number — comprising a vertical thickness of several thousand feet of shales, clays, and sandstones. Ages roll on; the strata are moved from their foundations: upheaved from the sea-bottom, the breakers and currents sweep away a portion of the covering, and the mineral treasures are brought within the reach of mining industry.
The sites of the British Coal Fields are in South Wales, Somersetshire, the Forest of Dean, Coalbrook Dale, Derbyshire, Flintshire, South Staffordshire, North Staffordshire, Lancashire, Cumberland, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Durham and Northumberland, and in the South of Scotland.
Mr. Hull, from whose recent work on the Coal Fields of Great Britain the above particulars are drawn, thus recapitulates the results at which he has arrived.
1. There are coal-deposits in various parts of England and Wales, at all depths, down to 9000 or 10,000 feet.
2. That mining is possible to a depth of 4000 feet, but beyond this the high temperature will prove a barrier.
3. The temperature of a Coal-mine at a depth of 4000 feet will, probably, be found as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit; but there is reason to believe, that by the agency of an efficient system of ventilation this temperature may be so reduced, at least during the cooler months of the year, as to allow of mining operations without unusual danger to health.
4. That for working mines of greater depth than 2000 or 2500 feet, underground stages, with independent winding machinery and engines, will be found necessary not only to render very deep mining practicable, but also to lessen the amount of risk from accident.
5. Lastly, Adopting a depth of 4000 feet as the limits to deep mining, there is still a quantity of coal in store in England and Wales, sufficient to afford a supply of 60 millions of tons for about a thousand years.
Robert Stephenson is reported to have once truthfully said, "We are living in an age when the pent-up rays of that sun which shone upon the great carboniferous forests of past ages are being liberated to set in motion our mills and factories, to carry us with great rapidity over the earth’s surface, and to propel our fleets, regardless of wind and tide, with unerring regularity over the ocean."
ANTHRACITE contains no bitumen, and the only product of its combustion, as in the case of the diamond, is carbonic acid gas. It presents no indication whatever of a vegetable origin, and from its being composed almost exclusively of carbon, at is placed by some in the list of simple combustibles, along with the diamond, graphite, and sulphur. It is abundant in Wales where it is called Culm, it is also abundant in the United States of America and in the Alps.
BITUMEN is the generic name given to NAPHTHA, PETROLEUM, MINERAL PITCH and ELASTIC BITUMEN. All these substances are exceedingly inflammable. AMBER is supposed to be a vegetable resin solidified and mineralized. It is chiefly used for necklaces, ear-drops, and inlaying.
Fig 79. The Kah-i-noor. Upper side. Under side.]
Prismatic — rainbow-like; shewing the seven colours of the rainbow.
Facet — applied to the small faces of crystals and cut gems.
Unctuous — oily, having an oily feel
Iridescent — marked with colours like the rainbow.
THE DIAMOND has been rightly described as a mineral of great value but of little comparative use. It has already been alluded to as the hardest of minerals, and consisting of pure carbon. Together with extreme hardness, it possesses a very high refractive power; and it is to this property of separating the rays of light into their prismatic colours, that this gem owes the brilliancy for which it is so remarkable.
The usual colour of the Diamond is white, or, more properly speaking, it usually is colourless, or slightly tinged, sometimes of one colour, sometimes of another. It occurs of different shades of red, brown, yellow, green, black, and indigo blue.
Of all these colours the pink is the prettiest, and is even more prized than a colourless one of the same size and purity; the green is also esteemed for its colour. The blue and the black are the most rare, more particularly the latter, which is very highly prized by collectors.
Diamonds seem to be confined to a few favoured localities. These are between Golconda and Masulipatam; in the vicinity of Ellore, and other places in the southern part of India; in the Brazils; and in the Ural Mountains in Russia.
When diamonds are first dug out of the earth their beauty is not visible from the yellow or reddish crust which adheres to them, and which is not easily separated from them. They generally lose half their weight in cutting, but the dust and refuse from them, which is used for cutting other diamonds, is worth fifty pounds an ounce.
The Koh-i-noor, on its arrival in England, was merely surface-cut, no attempt having been made to produce the regular form of a brilliant, by which alone lustre is obtained. It was necessary to cut away large portions of this diamond in order to obtain the brilliant effects of which it was capable, but by these operations the apparent surface was increased rather than diminished, while certain flaws, and a yellow tinge in it, were thus removed.
The facets of the Koh-i-noor are shown in the diagrams above; the diamond is now to be seen with the other crown jewels in the Tower of London.
Several of the other precious atones are only varieties of the Sapphire or Corundum — of all stones the hardest after the diamond, although composed, almost exclusively of one of the softest and most unctuous of the Earths —Alumina; among these stones we find the Sapphire, Ruby, Topaz, Emerald, Amethyst, and Aquamarine.
It is the great hardness of the sapphires which admits of their taking and keeping so fine a polish, and this property, together with their splendid colour, constitute them the most beautiful productions of the mineral kingdom.
The SAPPHIRES, together with the diamond, the fine opals, and a few of the most perfect and beautiful of the precious stones, are the only ones entitled to be called gems. They are the rarest, the most beautiful, and most perfect in all respects, and consequently the most highly valued. Adamnantine Spar, and Emery, both used by the lapidary in cutting and polishing the precious stones are varieties of corundum.
There are many other beautiful stones used, as the garnet, which is harder than quartz, and of various colours; the opal, bluish white, or colourless, and beautifully iridescent; several varieties of quartz, as the rock crystal —colourless; the cairn gorm — yellow, orange, and of various other shades; chalcedony — white or of pale lavender; carnelian, — orange, and red of different tints; heliotrope, or bloodstone — dark green with red spots; jasper —of all colours and shades. All these stones present a glassy, pearly, or stony appearance, and are hard enough to scratch window-glass.
The Lapis lazuli — of a fine blue; the agates — moss, striped, and spotted; the jade, of various tints of green; the turquoise — sky-blue or bluish green; the jet — velvet black; the cat’s-eye — brown and grey; the malachite, — marbled green of various tints; the onyx, a banded agate; the moon-stone — white or colourless, and many varieties of spar are among the favourite stones the jeweller has to provide for his customers, in the shape of rings, brooches, pins, bracelets, clasps, buttons, studs, necklaces, ear-rings, &c.
KINGDOMS OF NATURE.
Edible — eatable.
Anti-scorbutic - preventing scurvy.
"HE," says Linnaeus, "who does not make himself acquainted with God from the consideration of Nature, will scarcely acquire knowledge of him from any other source; for if we have no faith in the things which are seen, how shall we believe those things which are not seen ?"
It was not till the time of Linnaeus that the systematic arrangement of natural objects was brought to any degree of perfection; this great naturalist reduced them all into three great divisions; these he termed kingdoms — viz, the ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, and MINERAL kingdoms; each of these he again subdivided into classes, orders, genera, species, and varieties. Since his time Cuvier has remodelled the arrangements of Linnaeus, so far as Animals are concerned, in his great work called "The Animal Kingdom." The Vegetable and Mineral Kingdoms have also been re-arranged in accordance with the scientific knowledge of later days, by men thoroughly competent for the labour.
How large is the amount of knowledge the animal kingdom embraces, while its interest and importance are not confined to the naturalist. The merchant, the manufacturer, the agriculturist, the traveller, the sportsman have all to seek aid, in their several pursuits, from a knowledge of this department of natural history. Look to the value of our fisheries, and judge how available to the commercial world becomes this knowledge of animal nature. Nay more, but for our knowledge of natural history, one important article of food would in time have entirely disappeared from our waters. We allude to the salmon, the fry of which, and the parr, are now universally acknowledged to be identical. Under the name of parr, it abounds in all salmon rivers; and, until the researches of Mr. Shaw, Sir Wm. Jardine, and others, proclaimed it to be the young of the salmon, it fell in thousands before the strategies of every village boy who possessed a crooked pin and a yard or two of line. Science has now established its value, and invoked regulations for its preservation.
A practical illustration of the benefits even of a knowledge of Zoology, presents itself in the case of a traveller or emigrant in some unknown country. lie has pitched his tent, or raised his hut; and then he finds the locality infested by serpents. He is all anxiety and fear. He knows not what to do; whether to proceed to another spot, or to remain and brave the danger. Some acquaintance with the structure of reptiles would at once have decided his plans; for with the first he killed he could decide whether they were venomous or harmless. The former — and the common viper is one — possesses, on either side of the head, glands which secrete their venom; and, to conduct it to the wound they inflict upon their prey, they are furnished with two hollow but long, recurved, and sharply pointed teeth in their upper jaw. The harmless serpents have no such apparatus; and thus the two genera are at once distinguished by the absence or presence of the fang in question. The cuts below, after Professor Owen, exhibit the skulls of the two families with their dental peculiarities.
[Fig 80. Serpent's head, without fangs.]
[Fig 81. Serpent's head, with fangs.]
A treatise might be written on the benefits which an acquaintance with the Vegetable Kingdom is capable of affording. Of how great use is it in strange countries to be able to distinguish the plants fit for food, from such as are poisonous; and to recognise those which have been employed in medicine, or in any one of the numerous arts to which the Vegetable Kingdom is subservient. Even an elementary knowledge of Botany is of exceeding interest and importance.
Travellers in unknown lands know full well that life or death often depends upon their acquaintance with the science — an acquaintance, it may be, not derived from learned treatises, but simply from little more than the ordinary observation of those edible plants with which all persons are familiar. But even this is still a knowledge of Botany. An all-wise Providence has so arranged that plants may be associated into families from their external resemblances; and, further, that plants possessing such resemblances to each other, have many properties in common.
One of the great families of plants is the Cruciferae, or Turnip tribe, every member of which, marked by very obvious characters, is easily recognised, and scarcely to be mistaken; and all are remarkable for edible and anti-scorbutic properties. The crew which accompanied Vancouver in the expedition of 1792, suffered severely from scurvy, from want of vegetable food. The surgeon advised that they should make for the first land; and at Cape horn he found a plant, resembling spinach, which he directed to be used as food, with the happiest effects. This is not a rule without an exception; but it is of such universal application that the traveller may, in his necessity, trust himself to its guidance.
The Icosandrous plants, or such as have an indefinite number of stamens attached to the calyx, are remarkable for their fidelity to this law They are all edible, and are represented by the apple and pear tribes, the cherry, the strawberry, &c.
There is also another great family — the grasses, the members of which exceed those of any other class, in number and in their essential importance to the whole animal creation. This family comprehends the grasses, commonly so called— the wheat, oats, barley, rye, &c. — of our temperate climate, and the sugar canes of tropical regions; and all possess the common properties of being nutritious and healthful.
A knowledge of the Mineral Kingdom implies an acquaintance with the characters by which the precious stones are recognised; with the indications of the mineral forms of the useful metals; with those of marbles, spars, alabasters, and ornamental minerals in general; with building stones, and their relative value; and with the minerals which characterize the several geological formations.
[Fig 82. Quartz.]
[Fig 83. Diamond.]
For want of the knowledge of the crystalline form of the diamond, a gentleman in California offered £200 for a small specimen of quartz. The gentleman knew nothing of the substance, except that it was a bright, shining mineral, excessively hard, not to be touched by the file, and which would scratch glass.
Presuming that these qualities belonged only to the diamond, he conceived that he was offering a fair price for the gem.
The offer was declined by the owner; who, had he known that the diamond was never found crystallized in the form of a six-sided prism, terminated at each side by a six-sided pyramid, as seen in the larger cut, which is the exact size and shape of the stone, he would have been able to detect the fact, that that for which he was offered £200 was really not worth more than half-a-crown!
[Fig 84. Ferns of the Coal Measures.]
[1. Neuropteris Loshii. 2. Pecopteris heterophylha. 3. Sphenopteris dllata
4. Neuropteris acuminata. 5. Sphenopteris affinis. 6. Neutopteris gigantea.]
Antipodes — the inhabitants of the opposite side of the globe whose feet are opposite to ours.
Evolution — the act of unfolding or unrolling.
Adjustment — the act of reducing to form or order.
Annihilate — to destroy the existence of, to reduce to nothing.
Supremacy - the highest authority.
Primeval — belonging to the first ages.
Subterranean — that which is below the surface of the earth.
Coeval — of the same age.
Ferruginous — having the properties of rust of iron.
THERE are two words, each containing only four letters, but expressive of the two moat valuable minerals in the world — C0AL and GOLD. No two minerals are more valuable, none more opposite in outward appearance. The one is bright and dazzling, the other black and forbidding. The one the miser’s delight the other every man’s comfort. The one is stored up in banks and bank-cellars, the other in coal-fields and coal-mines. The one soils the mind of him who hugs it as a miser, the other soils only the face and fingers of him who gets it as a miner. The one is the apparent representative of the country’s wealth, the other its real representative.
At the time the above sentences were written thousands were sailing towards the recently discovered gold diggings at the antipodes. The true gold diggings are at home under our feet. The true source of wealth is coal; and if all our coal were replaced by sand and earth, containing gold diffused through them, we should be grievous losers by the exchange.
Upon reflection it will be seen, that if our mines of the precious metals were closed at once, and if our diggings of gold were at once exhausted, or still undiscovered; in brief, if gold and silver were no longer obtained for our use, society would, after certain evolutions and adjustments in adopting other representatives of value, go on as before.
On the other hand, let civilized communities be deprived of their coal, and it is difficult to see how they could hold together as before. Not only should we, with the loss of coal, lose the best means of maintaining healthful and equable warmth in our cottages and palaces, our halls and our domiciles, but we should lose all those numerous and remarkable benefits which the application of coal to scientific purposes procures for us.
It is common to depict the advantages introduced by the steam-engine, and to say that it weaves, it spins, it pumps, it prints, it winds, it draws, it stamps; and, in fact, does all that steam-moved machinery can do. But what enables the steam-engine to do all this? — Coal. All the skill of Watt would have been in vain without supplies of mineral fuel.
Without coal, our steam-power would be annihilated, and with that, our prosperity as a nation, and possibly our supremacy. Our steam-engines would rust unused, for lack of suitable fuel; our factories would be closed; our railroads would be untraversed; our steam-vessels would be dismantled, and decaying in dock, and all our processes of manufacture would be deteriorated; and the future historian of the revolutions of empires would date the decline and fall of the vast dominion of Britain, from the period when her supplies of mineral fuel were exhausted, and her last coal-field worked out!
The important uses of coal and iron, in administering to the supply of our daily wants, give to every individual amongst us, in almost every moment of our lives, a personal concern, of which few are conscious, in the geological events of those distant eras. We are all brought into immediate connection with the vegetation that clothed the ancient earth before one-half of its actual surface had yet been formed.
The trees of the primeval forests have not, like modern trees, undergone decay, yielding back their elements to the earth and atmosphere, by which they had been nourished; but, treasured up in subterranean storehouses, have been transformed into enduring beds of coal, which, in these later ages have become to man the sources of heat, and light, and wealth.
My fire now burns with fuel, and my lamp is now shining with the light of gas, derived from coal that has been buried, for countless ages, in the deep and dark recesses of the earth. We prepare our food and maintain our forges and furnaces, and the power of our steam-engines, with the remains of plants of ancient forms and extinct species which were swept from the earth ere the formation of the transition strata was completed.
Our instruments of cutlery, the tools of our mechanics, and the countless machines which are constructed by the infinitely varied applications of iron, are derived from ore, for the most part coeval with, or more ancient than the fuel, by the aid of which we reduce it to its metallic state, and apply it to innumerable uses in the economy of human life.
Thus, from the wreck of forests that waved on the surface of the primeval lands, and from ferruginous mud that was lodged at the bottom of the primeval waters, we derive our chief supplies of coal and iron—those two fundamental elements of art and industry, which contribute more than any other mineral productions of the earth to increase the riches, and multiply the comforts, and ameliorate the condition of mankind.
[Fig 85. Cyclopteris Hibernicus.]
[Fig 86. Lepidodendron obovatum.]
The known Flora of the British Coal measures comprises about three-hundred species of plants; of these, one-hundred-and-twenty were ferns. The fine fern Cyclopteris Hibernicus is very abundant in the middle Old Red Sandstone of the South of Ireland. Some idea of the elegance of the Lepidodendra, one of the chief trees of the primeval forests, may be formed from the portion of the stem of one species, here represented in one-fourth of its natural proportions.
Although no other minerals or metals possess the same intrinsic value as coal and iron we have seen in previous lessons that all the metals, and most of the earthy minerals are of great utility to man — that others are sought for their beauty — that common salt is a necessary of life — that other salts are important in the arts and in medicine, and we are told that Sulphur is the key which opens the door to chemical manufactures. From it we make sulphuric acid (oil of vitriol), and without sulphuric acid many of the largest factories would cease to exist.
Bleaching, dyeing, soda-making, metal refining, electroplating, electric-telegraphing, &c., are primarily indebted to this acid. Many of the most valued medicines could not be made without it, such as ether, calomel, &c. Sulphur being the chief ingredient of gunpowder, modern warfare could not go on comfortably without it.
A people that does not possess lucifer matches stands beyond the pale of civilisation, yet matches cannot be made without sulphur; not because matches are dipped into melted brimstone before they are "tipped" with the phosphoric composition which ignites them, but because this very material could not be made without the indirect use of sulphur.
Diplomacy — the agency of ministers at a foreign court.
Aphorism — a saying expressed in a few words.
Epigram — a witty, poignant, or pointed saying or writing.
Fetid - offensive in smell.
Alcohol — a fluid body produced by distillation from fermented liquors.
Cognac — brandy of the best kind so named from a town in France.
Eau de millefleurs — a scent extracted from numerous flowers.
Anneal — to heat glass, or metals, in order to render them less brittle.
WHEN Lord Palmerston was Home Secretary, he had to attend to sanitary reform, and to many other subjects far removed from the foreign diplomacy with which his name is more especially connected. While so engaged, he propounded an aphorism which is excellent both for its epigrammatic neatness and for its truth: "Dirt is only matter in the wrong place!"
If society would duly act upon this truth, we should save millions a year; if, instead of considering dirt and refuse, sweepings and cuttings, scourings and washings, to be valueless, we could only bring ourselves to believe that they are good things in wrong places, we should be better both in health and in pocket than we are now.
A few months after the close of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Dr. Lyon Playfair gave a lecture on some of the results of that wonderful display, taking for his principal topic the recent advances in industrial chemistry. The production of perfumes was not the least curious of these examples. The lecturer shewed that delightful perfumes are now produced from the most trivial, and often from the most fetid and repulsive substances.
If this were all, it would be a triumph of chemistry, and a benefit to mankind; but, unfortunately, the crooked commercial morality with which we are all too much acquainted, stepped in, and encouraged a system of cheating and deception.
It is scientific to obtain from decayed or unsightly refuse a perfume similar in odour to that obtained from a beautiful fruit or flower; but it is dishonest to call it by the name of that fruit or flower, and to charge a high price accordingly.
"A peculiar fetid oil," said Dr. Playfair, "termed fusel oil, is formed in making brandy and whisky; this fusel oil, distilled with sulphuric acid and acetate of potash, gives the ‘oil of pears.’ The ‘oil of apples’ is made from the same fusel oil, by distillation with sulphuric acid and bichromate of potash.
"The ‘oil of pine-apples’ is obtained from a product of the action of putrid cheese on sugar, or by making a soap with butter, and distilling it with alcoho1 and sulphuric acid; and is now largely employed in England in making ‘pineapple ale.’ ‘Oil of grapes’ and ‘oil of cognac,’ used to impart the flavour of French cognac to British brandy, are little else than fusel oil.
"The artificial ‘oil of bitter almonds,’ now so largely employed in perfuming soap and for flavouring confectionery, is prepared by the action of nitric acid on the fetid oils of gas-tar. Many a fair forehead is damped with ‘Eau de Millefleurs,’ without knowing that its essential ingredient is derived from the drainage of cow-houses."
The chiffonier (rag-gatherer) of Paris makes his living out of waste materials, worthless, because cast away refuse. — Dirt, because in the wrong place. He has a basket strapped to his shoulders, and a sharp-pointed stick in his hands, with which he dexterously picks up his rags, and throws them with a jerk behind his head. He has a fancy, too, for old bones, old bits of iron, pieces of dirty paper, and broken glass. Neither will he pass without some notice even a franc piece, if it should lie in his way.
Some of these professors are well off; but in general they are supposed to make at the most only eighteen pence a-day. Still, this sum is produced, as it were, from nothing. One would have thought it an easier matter to make gold out of lead, than silver out of old rags! It may be said that a person who receives eighteen pence for running errands, makes his money also from nothing. But the runner does no good to trade. His service produces nothing but the transference of coin, and leaves no result that is felt in the business of the country.
The Labour of the chiffonier, on the contrary, creates capital out of refuse. The four thousand chiffoniers of Paris collect 1200 francs’ worth of rags in a day, which, on passing into the hands of the wholesale people, whose employment it is to have them sorted and washed, give a living to five hundred persons, and become worth 2400 francs.
Madder, the dye most commonly used for calico, after imparting its colour, was considered useless. The large quantities of spent madder constantly accumulating were found exceedingly inconvenient. It was not valuable enough for the manure-heap, and the rivers became polluted in carrying away the waste materials.
But Chemistry has shown that actually one-third of the colouring matter is thus thrown away, and that simple treatment with a hot acid renders it again available as a dye. These waste-heaps are sources of wealth, and the dyer no longer poisons the rivers with spent madder, but carefully collects it, in order that the chemist may make it again fit for his use.
Rivers carry away the refuse of towns and cities into the sea, where it becomes nourishment for the fishes, or is converted into sea-weed, or deposited in the bed of the ocean, or incorporated with the salt and incorruptible water, but it is never lost.
The Thames carries the refuse of London away, the Seine disposes of the refuse of Paris, the Clyde of Glasgow, and the Liffey of Dublin, and a great blessing the removal is esteemed; but that refuse is a portion of the nutritive matter which the world contains; and were not an equal portion collected from some other quarter to supply the loss, the land would soon be exhausted, and die of old age.
Baron Liebig, the celebrated German chemist, supposes that in this manner the regions of the East, once fertile and populous, have been turned into a desert, partly eaten up by the inhabitants, who did not understand the art of restoring exhausted soil, and partly washed out and deprived of their vegetable and animal matter by the huge rivers that inundate their plains.
The Tigris and Euphrates must carry yearly into the sea a sufficient amount of nutritive matter for millions of human beings. Could that matter be arrested in its progress, and converted into bread and wine, fruit and beef, mutton and wool, linen and cotton, then cities might flourish once more in the desert, where men are now digging for the relics of primitive civilization, and discovering the symbols of luxury and ease beneath the barren sand and the sun-burnt clay.
In the preparation of woollen cloth much soap is employed for the purpose of washing away the oil and other impurities in the wool. Now, this soap is used in such large quantities, that soap-suds have become a source of annoyance in the rivers in cloth-manufacturing towns; and it has occurred to chemists, that if the potash and oil could be collected, they might be again changed into soap.
To effect this the soap-suds are collected in a tank prepared for the purpose, sulphuric acid is added to them and the soap is thus decomposed; the potash and the soda go to the sulphuric acid, whilst the fatty matter floats on the top; and thus large quantities of useful matter are rescued from destruction in our manufactories. The fatty matter which rises to the top is skimmed off and made into soap again, or into candles, or converted into other products in which fat is used.
Dr. W. H. Smith of Philadelphia has shown that the slag of smelting furnaces is composed principally of silica, lime, and alumina; the very elements out of which nature has fashioned and annealed nearly all the valuable building materials of the world. After many experiments made by running the slag into moulds, gradual cooling, the addition of colouring matter, polishing, &c., he succeeded in producing perfect imitations of cornelian, agate, malachite, and other beautiful mineral products.
By this valuable discovery many millions of tons of refuse matter may be converted into useful and durable materials for the builder, the architect, and the decorator, at a lower cost than common bricks can be made of clay.
It is not easy to limit the application of this valuable rubbish. Wherever durability is required, united with peculiarity of form, there the prepared slag will be found perfectly adapted; for as it can be cast into moulds of any shape, all labour spent in hewing and cutting marble. or stone is avoided. It is perfectly compact and impervious, and therefore admirably suited for the construction of aqueducts of any size. It remains unacted on by chemicals of the greatest strength, and consequently may be employed for making gas-piping, as it will last out many of the ordinary iron pipes.
MATERIALS OF LITTLE VALUE.
Ammonia — a volatile alkali.
Creasote - an oily liquid obtained from tar which preserves vegetable and
Antiseptic — that which prevents putrefaction.
Detergent — cleansing.
THERE is an anecdote told of a distinguished chemist, who was asked how he had made his great discoveries, and he replied that it was by examining that which other chemists threw away. So many a manufacturer may make a fortune by using that which others consider of no value.
In Yorkshire, there are 'waste-dealers,' who buy up all the odds and ends from the woollen factories, and sell it to 'shoddy' mill-owners at Leeds, Dewsbury, and Batley. These mill-owners work up the refuse wool into ‘Shoddy’ or ‘mungo,’ mix it with a little new wool, and spin and weave it into broadcloth, doeskins, pilot-cloths, druggets, coarse carpeting, baize, and table-covers. Woollen rags, however dirty, are bought up, torn to shreds, cleaned, made into an inferior shoddy, and wrought into the cheapest kinds of cloths. It is said that Leeds alone produces from rags as much wool annually as would represent the fleeces of four hundred thousand sheep. These rags may be the relics of worn-out clothing, tailors’ cuttings, old worsted stockings, carpeting, &c.; and there are large quantities imported from abroad, in aid of our home-supply.
A keen observer of our national scenery, characteristics, and manufacturing processes tells us what cloths are produced from shoddy. "From what I saw in the tenter-ground, I discovered that pilot cloth is shoddy; that glossy beavers and silky-looking mohairs are shoddy; that the Petershams so largely exported to the United States are shoddy; that the soft, delicate cloths in which ladies feel so comfortable, and look so graceful, are shoddy; that the ‘fabric’ of Talmas, Raglans, and paletots, and of other garments, in which fine gentlemen go to the Derby, or to the Royal Academy Exhibition, or to the evening services in Westminster Abbey, are shoddy. And if Germany sends us abundance of rags, we send to Germany enormous quantities of shoddy in return. The best quality manufactured at Batley is worth ten shillings a yard: the commonest not more than one shilling."
The same author describes the process of tearing waste and old cloth into shreds. "I saw a cylinder revolving with a velocity too rapid for the eye to follow, whizzing and roaring, as if in agony, and throwing off a cloud of light woolly fibres, that floated in the air, and a stream of flocks that ‘fell in a heap at the end of the room. It took three minutes to stop the monster; and when the motion ceased, I saw that the cylinder was full of blunt steel teeth, which, seizing whatever was presented to them in the shape of rags, tore it thoroughly to pieces; in fact, ground it up into flocks of short, frizzly-looking fibre, resembling negro-hair, yet soft and free from knots. The cylinder is fed by a travelling web, which brings a layer of rags continually up to the teeth. On this occasion, the quality of the grist, as one might call it, was respectable — nothing but fathoms of list which had never been defiled.
There is waste, or material that cannot be used in these shoddy mills, but it is not lost. An extensive manufacture is carried on for which even the smallest shreds are available. These shreds are ground into dust, and mixed with colouring powders to produce flock for the paper hangings known as flock papers; as the paper hangings are printed certain designs upon them are covered with size or gum, and the coloured wool-dust is powdered over it. These flock papers are therefore indebted to the refuse of the shoddy mills. There is another portion of wool waste which is so saturated with fatty matter that the grease in it is heavier than the wool; it is called "creash," and it is one of the most powerful fertilizers for land; those farmers who lay it on their land, see its advantages in every succeeding year, for it does not give out its strength to the crops all at once."
The serviceable products obtained from gas-tar are both numerous and important. A few years ago its applications were very limited, it was spread over rails and posts and iron work to preserve them from the effects of the weather, and more recently still it has served the purpose of a cheap asphalte for roads. In the hands of the chemist, and under the process of destructive distillation, this oomplex substance has been made to yield many services to the arts.
The tar is placed in very large stills, each containing from 2,000 to 3,000 gallons, under which fires are kept up, and when the tar begins to boil it gradually sends forth its constituents, through the worm of the still. The first of these is ammonia, and other gases; these are collected in cold water which becomes impregnated with them; from them sulphate of ammonia is prepared — an important ingredient in some artificial manures.
As the heat is increased, an oily fluid comes over, technically called ‘light oil,’ which is carefully collected apart from the other products. When as much of this light oil has made its appearance as about equals in bulk one-twentieth of the tar originally put into the still, it ceases to be produced, and is succeeded by a dense dark-coloured fluid, with a peculiarly offensive odour, known as ‘dead oil.’ The dead oil comes over in much larger quantity than the light oil, equalling fully one-fifth of the tar.
When the dead oil has ceased to run, the distiller knows it is of no use to keep the pot boiling any longer; the fire is therefore put out, a huge tap at the bottom of the still is turned, and the thick black residuum, still fluid in its heated state, being neither more nor less than common pitch, is allowed to run along certain channels prepared for its transmission, into immense underground tanks in which it is stored.
The dead oil is a mineral creasote, and possesses antiseptic properties; it is sold to the railway companies and others for the soaking of sleepers and other kinds of timber; for once impregnated with this fluid every description of wood is exempt from both wet and dry rot. Some of the oil is burnt slowly in lamp-furnaces with brick flues to produce lamp black.
The light oil is impure coal naphtha, dark brown in colour, and of a very disagreeable smell. It is first re-distilled and loses a large amount of both its smell and colour — thus getting rid of some of its impurities; it however contains a quantity of greasy matter, this is separated from it by the strong acid called oil of vitriol, and the naphtha is again distilled or rectified till it becomes perfectly pure.
In this state naphtha is used for lamps, and if the lamp be so constructed as to allow of its actual combustion, the light emitted is probably greater than from any other known substance of equal bulk. The naphtha is also a solvent for caoutchouc, gutta-percha, and other gums, and further purified and deprived of its smell, it becomes the benzine collas used as a valuable detergent of grease in wearing-apparel &c.
Two substances pass over from the tar with the naphtha, — Benzole and Phenic acid; the benzole can be separated by energetic chemical means, and, mixed with nitric acid, produces a fluid in smell and taste precisely resembling oil of bitter almonds, instead of which poisonous substance it is used. Phenic acid mixed with nitric acid is intensely bitter, its yellow crystals have been extensively used in dyeing silk, while their taste has led to their employment in adulterating beer.
So that the gas-tar, has been made to yield manure for our fields, creasote for preserving timber, lamp-black for paint, naphtha for lamps, and for solvents of gums, benzine collas, for taking out grease, a rich flavour for soap, sweetmeats, and confectionery, a dye for silk, and an adulterating bitter for beer.
Even this is not all, for a substance called Aniline is also separated from the Naphtha, which combined with acids forms crystalline salt. By adding Bichromate of Potash to the salt of aniline, the modern colour Mauve, or Perkins’ Purple is produced; by adding Bichloride of Mercury — Magenta, and other Reds; by adding nitric acid Solferino is produced.
NOTHING IS USELESS.
SCIENCE and commercial competition show us that there is a constant tendency in manufacturing countries to economise residuary and waste products. The mere refuse of daily industry is transformed into elements of utility. The waste of the smithy, the foundry, the stall, the farm yard, the shop, the slaughter house, the gas works, the dye house, the factory, has a value which time and patient thought and investigation seldom fail to realise.
The following enumeration of some of the applications of this spirit of wise economy is merely an abridgement of a much more ample list, which was given in Chambers’ Journal in August, 1859.
Beginning with animal substances, and with such parts of them as belong to the skin, hair, and wool, we find that the skin of the dog-fish is used to make an abrading substance analogous to sand-paper. Eel-skin is made by the Americans into ropes and whip-lashes. Sole-skin is used to refine coffee and other liquids, in the manner of isinglass. Porpoise and walrus skins are tanned into shoe-leather. Alligator-skin is tanned by the Texans into leather much resembling fine calf. Snake-skin is dressed to imitate shagreen.
Of bones, the best parts are worked up into handles for knives, &c.; into articles of turnery; and into numerous useful productions. Some portions are used to make bone-black or animal charcoal; others are boiled to extract size for dyers and cloth-finishers; and all the rest are ground up into manure for farmers.
Horns and hoofs are used for so many purposes that it would be scarcely possible to enumerate them; many valuable chemical substances are obtained from these sources. Whalebone cuttings and shavings are used for stuffing cushions, &c., for fire-grate ornaments, and for yielding Prussian blue.
Bladders and intestines are prepared into the cases for sausages and such like articles of food; into water-tight coverings for jars and apothecaries’ vessels; into strings for violins and guitars; and into the beautiful membrane called gold-beaters’ skin. The French buy our old written parchments, and return them to us in the form of delicate kid gloves. All the odds and ends of skin and parchment of every kind are ‘grist to the mill’ of the glue manufacturer. Calf’s feet are boiled down to yield neat’s-footoil for leather-dressing; and sheep’s feet to yield trotter-oil, not unknown to our makers of hair-oil.
It would be scarcely possible, even if worth while, to determine whether the animal or the vegetable kingdom furnishes the larger amount of useful refuse; suffice it to say, that the vegetable contributions are almost endless in variety. When the cotton-spinners are engaged in working up the hundreds of millions of pounds of cotton which our Liverpool and Glasgow merchants buy yearly, there are five kinds of waste which become scattered about the mill.
It is supposed that there is little less than 50,000 tons of this waste produced in Great Britain annually; it is worked up into coarse sheeting and bed-covers, or is sold to the manufacturers of printing-paper, to be mixed with linen rags. In the United States, the cotton waste is worked up into papier-mache for tea-trays and other articles. Linen rags, besides their more prominent use in paper-making, are made into lint for surgeons during war-time.
Coir, the fibrous husk of the cocoa-nut, is employed as a material for matting, sacking, ropes, and other articles, especially where a power of resisting the attacks of insects is needed. Moss, from the woods of the Mississippi regions, is extensively used for making the bags or bales in which cotton is shipped. Sea-weed is employed in France for a great variety of purposes: it is made into paper; it is used as a lining material for ceilings and walls, on account of its incombustible properties and its power of resisting vermin; and it is employed by manufacturing chemists as a substance whence iodine and acetic acid can be obtained.
Grape-husks when charred are employed in making the intensely black ink with which bank-notes are printed. The raisin stalks and skins which accumulate on the hands of British wine-makers form the very best filter for the use of vinegar-manufacturers; and hence arises a certain advantage in carrying on both these processes in one establishment, as is done by the celebrated firm of Beaufoy at Vauxhall.
Beet-root fibre, after the root has had the juice pressed from it for sugar-making, is readily bought by continental farmers as a fertiliser; while the skimmings from the boiling of the sugar are added to the food for cattle. This same sort of fibre will work up well with other substances as a material for paper and for papier-mache tea-trays, &c.
Saw-dust and shavings have a multiplicity of useful applications: those from mahogany, are used in smoking fish; from boxwood, in cleaning jewellery; from cedar, in making ‘otto of cedar-wood;’ from sandal-wood, in filling scent-bags; from deal, in packing bottles, and ice, in stuffing dolls, cleansing metals, and sprinkling floors.
The mineral kingdom presents its own peculiar list of ‘waste’ or refuse, now applied to useful purposes. The screenings and siftings at our coal-pits, once allowed to remain valueless, are become a marketable commodity, either by themselves, or mixed with other substances to form artificial fuel.
Ashes and small cinders form a well-known ingredient in bricks; and soot is worth sixpence per bushel as manure, even if chemists make no use of it for the charcoal it contains. One thousand tons of broken bottles, instead of being thrown away, are, in London alone, yearly consigned to the glass-furnace, to commence a new career of usefulness.
Horse-shoe nails, picked up by the grubbers about the streets, and the scraps of steel from needle-factories, are eagerly bought up by the Birmingham gunmakers, as the best of all materials for the barrels of muskets and rifles. Steel-pen waste is bought back by the Sheffield steel-makers at £10 per ton; Birmingham brass-filings fetch half the value of new brass; and steel-filings are valuable to the chemists and apothecaries.
Jewellers’ and gold-beaters’ sweepings are rated at a very high value; the sweepings of the benches and floors are always preserved for sale; the clothing and aprons have a sufficient number of particles of gold in and about them to give them a marketable value; the older they are, of course the better. A gold-beater can generally obtain a new waistcoat for an old one; and sometimes a very old waistcoat will be bought by a refiner at a price almost fabulous. In all such cases, everything extraneous is burnt away, leaving precious gold as a residue. Tin-plate cuttings, in hundreds of tons, are awaiting the result of experiments now being made to separate the tin from the iron, and thus render both again serviceable; meanwhile, the scraps are applied to a few useful purposes. The old-iron shops, which are supplied by dustmen, atreet-grubbers, mud-larks, and other persons, in their turn supply the captains of American ships with battered and broken old kettles, sauce-pans, frying-pans, gridirons, candle-sticks, tea-trays, shovels, boilers, corrugated roofing,. &c.; these odds and ends serve as a cheap kind of ballast for ships going away with light cargoes.
WISDOM OF GOD IN THE VEGETABLE CREATION.
Your contemplation farther yet pursue;
The wondrous world of vegetables view !
Observe the forest oak, the mountain pine,
The towering cedar, and the humble vine,
The bending willow, that o’ershades the flood,
And each spontaneous offspring of the wood !
The oak and pine, which high from earth arise,
And wave their lofty heads amidst the skies,
Their parent earth in like proportion wound,
And through crude metals penetrate the ground;
Their strong and ample roots descend so deep,
That fix’d and firm, they may their station keep,
And the fierce shocks of furious winds defy,
With all the outrage of inclement sky.
But the base brier, and the noble vine,
Their arms around their stronger neighbour twine.
The creeping ivy, to prevent its fall,
Clings with its fibrous grapples to the wall.
Thus are the trees of every kind secure,
Or by their own, or by a borrow’d power.
But every tree from all its branching roots,
Amidst the glebe, small hollow fibres shoots,
Which drink with thirsty mouths the vital juice,
And to the limbs and leaves their food diffuse:
Peculiar pores peculiar juice receive,
To this deny, to that admittance give.
— Hence various trees their various fruits produce,
Some for delightful taste, and some for use.
Hence sprouting plants enrich the plain and wood,
For physic some, and some design’d for food.
Hence fragrant flowers, with different colours dyed,
On smiling meads unfold their gaudy pride.
— Review these numerous scenes, at once survey
Nature’s extended face, then, sceptics, say,
In this wide field of wonders can you find
No art discover’d, and no end design’d?
But Oh! how dark is human reason found,
How vain the man with wit and learning crown’d;
how feeble all his strength when he essays
To trace dark Nature, and detect her ways,
Unless he calls its Author to his aid,
Who every secret spring of motion laid;
Who over all his wondrous works presides,
And to their useful ends their causes guides;
These paths in vain are by inquirers trod;
There’s no Philosophy without a GOD!
- SIR RICHARD BLACKMORE, 1712.
VARIOUS USES OF TREES.
NOT small the praise the skilful planter claims
From his befriended country. Various arts
Borrow from him materials. The soft Beech
And close-grain’d Box employ the turner’s wheel
And with a thousand implements supply
Mechanic skill. Their beauteous veins the Yew
And Phyllerea lend, to surface o’er
The cabinet. Smooth Linden best obeys
The carver’s chisel; best his curious work
Displays in all its nicest touches, Birch —
Ah! why should Birch supply the chair, since oft
Its cruel twigs compel the smarting youth
To dread the hateful seat ? Tough-bending Ash
Gives to the humble swain his useful plough,
And for the peer his prouder chariot builds.
To weave our baskets, the soft Ozier bends
His pliant twigs. Staves that nor shrink, nor swell,
The cooper’s close-wrought cask to Chestnut owes.
The sweet-leav’d Walnut’s undulated grain,
Polish’d with care, adds to the workman’s art
Its varying beauties. The tall, towering Elm,
Scooped into hollow tubes, in secret streams
Conveys for many a mile the limpid wave:
Or, from its height, when humbled to the ground,
Conveys the pride of mortal man to dust,
And last the Oak, king of Britannia’s woods,
And guardian of her Isle ! whose sons robust
The best supporters of incumbent weight,
Their beams and pillars to the builder give
Of strength immense; or in the bounding deep
The loose foundations lay of floating walls.
TO A DEAD TREE.
OLD tree thou art wither’d —I pass’d thee last year,
And the blackbird snug hid in thy branches did sing,
Thy shadows stretch’d over the grass sprouting near,
And thou wert as green as thy mates of the spring.
How alter’d since then! not a leaf hast thou got,
Thy honours brown round thee that clothed the tree;
The clown passeth by thee and heedeth thee not,
But thou’rt a warm source of reflection for me.
I think while I view thee and rest on the stile
Life’s bloom is as frail as the leaves thou hast shed;
Like thee I may boast of my honours awhile,
But new springs may blossom, and mine may be fled.
Fond friends may bend o’er the rais’d turf where I’m laid,
And warm recollection the past may look o’er,
And say by my life, as I say by thy shade,
"Last spring lie was living, but now he’s no more."
ON THE ANTIPATHIES OF PLANTS.
THE prudent will observe what passions reign
In various plants, for not to man alone,
But all the wide creation nature gave
Love and aversion. Everlasting hate
The vine to ivy bears, which yet abhors
The colewort’s rankness, but with amorous twine
Clasps the tall elm. The Paestan rose unfolds
Her bud more lovely near the fetid leek,
Crest of proud Britons, and enhances thence
The price of her celestial scent. The gourd
And thirsty cucumber, when they perceive
The approaching olive, with resentment fly
Her fatty fibres, and with tendril creep
Diverse, detesting contact; whilst the fig
Contemns not rue nor sage’s humble leaf
Close neighbouring. The Herefordian plant
Caresses freely the contiguous peach,
Hazel, and weight-resisting palm, and likes
To approach the quince and the elder's pithy stem
Uneasy seated by funereal yew,
Or walnut, whose malignant touch impairs
All generous fruit., or near the bitter dews
Of cherries : therefore weigh the habits well
Of plants, how they associate best, nor let
Ill neighbourhood corrupt thy hopeful plants.
THE DIAL OF FLOWERS.
This dial is said to have been formed by Linaeus. It marked the hours by the opening and closing at regular intervals, of the flowers arranged on it.
‘TWAS a lovely thought to mark the hours
As they floated in light away,
By the opening and the folding flowers
That laugh to the summer’s day.
Thus had each moment its own rich hue,
And its graceful cup or bell,
In whose colour’d vase might sleep the dew,
Like a pearl in an ocean-shell.
To such sweet signs might the time have flow’d
In a golden current on,
Ere from the garden, man’s first abode,
The glorious guests were gone.
So might the days have been brightly told —
Those days of song and dreams —
When shepherds gather’d their flocks of old,
By the blue Arcadian streams.
So in those isles of delight, that rest
Far off in a breezeless main,
Which many a bark with a weary guest,
Hath sought but still in vain.
Yet is not life, in its real flight,
Mark’d thus — even thus — on earth,
By the closing of one hope’s delight,
And another’s gentle birth ?
Oh ! let us live, so that flower by flower,
Shutting in turn, may leave
A lingerer still for the sun-set hour,
A charm for the shaded eve.
- MRS. HEMANS.
THE PET PLANT.
A FLORIST a sweet little blossom espied,
Which bloom’d like its ancestors by the road-side;
Its colours were simple, its charms they were few,
Yet the flower look’d fair on the spot where it grew ;—
The florist beheld it, and cried, "I’ll enchant
The botanical world with this sweet little plant —
Its leaves shall be sheltered and carefully nursed,
It shall charm all the world though I met with it first
Under a hedge."
He carried it home to his hot-house with care,
And he said, "tho’ the rarest exotics are there,
My little pet plant, when I’ve nourish’d its stem,
In tint and in fragrance shall imitate them;
Though none shall suspect from the road-side it came,
Rhodum Sidum, I’ll call it, a beautiful name,
When botanists look through their glasses and view
Its beauties, they’ll never suspect that it grew
Under a hedge."
The little pet plant, when it shook off the dirt
Of its own native ditch, began to grow pert,
And tossed its small head, for perceiving that none
But exotics were round it, it thought itself one:
As a field-flower all would have cried it was fair;
And praised it, though gaudier blossoms were there;
But when it assumes hot-house airs we see through
The forced tint of its leaves, and suspect that it grew,
Under a hedge.
In the bye-ways of life, oh! how many there are,
Who being born under some fortunate star,
Assisted by talent or beauty, grow rich
And bloom in a hot-house instead of a ditch!
And while they disdain not their own simple stem,
The honours they grasp may gain honours for them;
But when like the pet plant such people grow pert,
We soon trace them to their original dirt
Under a hedge.
ON THE FUNGI TRIBE.
"In habits, the Fungi," writes the intelligent naturalist, Dr. Johnson, of Berwick-upon-Tweed, "vary infinitely, and in general they have little resemblance to the plants of any other order. Some resemble a ball, a club, or a mace, or assume the forms of sea-corals; while many defy comparison with any familiar objects, and grown in figures peculiar to themselves." They are of quick growth and short duration, and frequently exhibit every variety of shade and tint.
LOVELIER far than vernal flowers,
The Mushrooms shooting after showers!
That fear no more the fatal scythe,
But proudly spread their bonnets blithe,
With coverings form’d of silk and snow,
And lined with brightening pink below.
Their forms and hues some solace yield,
In wood, or wild, or humid field,
Whose tapering stems, robust or light,
Like columns catch the searching sight,
To claim remark where’er I roam,
Supporting each a stately dome :
Like fair umbrellas furl’d, or spread,
Display their many-coloured head,
Grey, purple, yellow, white, or brown,
Shap’d like War’s shield, or Prelate’s crown,
Like Freedom’s cape or Friar’s cowl!
Or China’s bright inverted bowl;
And while their broadening disks unfold
Gay silvery gills, or nets of gold,
Beneath their shady-curtain’d cove,
Perform all offices of love.
In beauty chief, the eye to chain,
'Mong whispering pines, or arid plain,
A littering group assembled stands,
Like Elf’s or Fay a embattled bands,
Where every arm appears to wield
With pigmy’s strength a giant shield,
And deeply dyed in sanguine gore,
With brazen bosses studded o’er;
While magic Fancy’s ear confounds
The whistling winds with hostile sounds.
- JAMES WOODHOUSE
WHO can paint
Like nature ! Can imagination boast
Amid its gay creation, hues like hers ?
Or can it mix them with that matchless skill,
And lose them in each other, as appears
In ev’ry bud that blows ?
Along these blushing borders, bright with dew,
And in yon mingled wilderness of flowers,
Fair-handed spring unbosoms every grace;
'Throws out the snow-drop and the crocus first;
The daisy, primrose, violet, darkly blue,
And polyanthus of unnumber’d dyes;
The yellow wall-flower, stained with iron brown;
And Lavish stock, that scents the garden round:
From the soft wing of vernal breezes shed,
Anemonies, auriculas, enrich’d
With shining meal o’er all their velvet leaves;
And full ranunculus of glowing red.
Then comes the tulip-race, where beauty plays
Her idle freaks, from family diffus’d
To family, as flies the father-dust,
The varied colours run, and while they break
On the charm’d eye, the exulting florist marks
With secret pride the wonders of him hand.
No gradual bloom is wanting; from the bud
First-born of spring, to summer’s musky tribes;
Nor hyacinths, of purest virgin white,
Low-bent, and blushing inward: nor jonquil.
Of potent fragrance; nor narcissus fair,
As o’er the fabled fountain hanging still;
Nor broad carnations, nor gay spotted pinks;
Nor showered from ev’ry bush, the damask roe.;
Infinite numbers, delicacies, smells,
With hues on hues expression cannot paint,
The, breath of nature and her endless bloom.
PRECEPTS OF FLOWERS.
OH! lovely flowers, how meet ye seem
Man’s frailty to portray,
Blooming so fair in morning’s beam,
Passing at eve away !
Teach this, and though but brief your reign,
Sweet flowers, ye shall not live in vain.
Go, form a monitory wreath
For Youth’s unthinking brow;
Go, and to busy Manhood breathe
What most he fears to know;
Go, strew the path where Age doth tread,
And tell him of the silent dead.
But whilst to thoughtless ones and gay
Ye breathe these truths severe,
To those who droop in pale decay
Have ye no words of cheer?
Oh, yes! ye weave a double spell,
And death and life betoken well.
Go, then, where, wrapt in fear and gloom,
Fond hearts and true are sighing,
And wreath with emblematic bloom
The pillow of the dying;
And softly speak, nor speak in vain,
Of the long sleep and broken chain.
And say, that He who from the dust
Recalls the slumbering flower,
Will surely visit those who trust
His mercy and His power, —
Will mark whe sleeps their peaceful clay,
And roll, ere long, the stone away!
- HOUSEHOLD WORDS
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS.
In Eastern lands they talk in flowers,
And they tell in a garland their loves and cares;
Each blossom that blooms in their garden bowers,
On its leaves a mystic language bears.
The Rose is a sign of Joy and Love,
Young blushing love in its earlier dawn;
And the Mildness that suits the gentle dove,
From the Myrtle’s snowy flower is drawn.
Innocence shines in the Lily’s bell,
Pure as the heart in its native heaven;
Fame’s bright star and Glory’s swell,
By the glossy leaf of the Bay are given.
The silent, soft, and humble heart
In the Violet’s hidden sweetness breathes;
And the tender soul that cannot part,
A twine of Evergreen fondly wreathes.
The Cypress that daily shades the grave,
Is sorrow that mourns her bitter lot;
And faith that a thousand ills can brave,
Speaks in thy blue leaves — Forgot-me-not.
Then gather a wreath from the garden bowers
And tell the wish of thy heart in flowers.
- J.G. PERCIVAL.
How many plants, we call them Weeds,
Against our wishes grow,
And scatter wide their various seeds
With all the winds that blow.
Man grumbles when he sees them rise,
To foul his husbandry;
Kind Providence this way supplies
His lesser family.
Scatter’d and small, they ‘scape our eye,
But are not wasted there;
Safe they in clefts and furrows lie,
The little birds find where.
- SATURDAY MAGAZINE.
IT waved not through an eastern sky,
Beside the fount of Araby;
It warn not fanned by southern breeze
In some green isle of Indian seas;
Nor did its graceful shadow sleep
O’er stream of Afric, lone and deep.
But fair the exiled Palm-tree grew
'Mid foliage of no kindred hue
Through the laburnum’s drooping gold
Rose the light shaft of orient mould,
And Europe’. violets, faintly sweet,
Purpled the moss-beds at its feet.
Strange looked it there !— the willow stream’d
Where silvery waters near it gleam’d;
The lime-bough lured the honey-bee
To murmur by the desert's tree,
And showers of snowy roses made
A lustre in its fan-like shade.
There came an eve of festal hours—
Rich music filled the garden bowers:
Lamps that from flowering branches hung,
On sparks of dew soft colours flung,
And bright forms glanced - a fairy show —
Under the blossoms to and fro.
But one, a lone one, 'mid the throng,
Seemed reckless all of dance and song;
He was a youth of dusky mien,
Whereon the Indian sun had been,
Of crested brow, and long black hair —
A stranger, like the Palm-tree, there.
And slowly, sadly, moved his plumes,
Glittering athwart the leafy glooms;
He passed the pale green olives by,
Nor won the chestnut flowers his eye;
But when to that sole Palm he came,
Then shot a rapture through his frame!
To him, to him, its rustling spoke,
The silence of his soul it broke?
It whispered of its own bright isle,
That lit the ocean with a smile;
Ay, to his ear that native tone
had something of the sea-wave’s moan;
His mother’s cabin-home, that lay
Where feathery cocoa's fringed the bay;
The dashing of his brethren’s oar,
The conch-note heard alone the shore ;—
All through his wakening bosom swept;
He clasped his country’s tree, and wept;
Oh! scorn him not !— the strength, whereby
The patriot girds himself to die,
The unconquerable power which fills
The freeman battling on his hills,
These have one fountain, deep and clear —
The same whence gushed that child-like tear.
- MRS. HEMANS.
'TWAS a fair scene wherein they stood,
A green and sunny glade amid the wood,
And in the midst an aged Banyan grew.
It was a goodly sight to see
That venerable tree,
For o’er the lawn, irregularly spread,
Fifty straight columns prop’d its lofty head;
And many a long depending shoot,
Seeking to strike its root,
Straight like a plummet, grew towards the ground.
Some on the lower boughs, which cross’d their way,
Fixing their bearded fibres, round and round,
With many a ring and wild contortion wound;
Some to the passing wind, at times, with sway
Of gentle motion swung;
Other. of younger growth, unmov’d, were hung
Like stone-drops from the cavern’s fretted height.
Beneath was smooth and fair to sight.
Nor weeds nor briers deform’d the natural floor;
And through the leafy cope which bower’d it o’er
Came gleams of checker’d light.
So like a temple did it seem, that there
A pious heart's a first impulse would be prayer.
SONNET FROM THE ITALIAN.
IF in the field I meet a smiling flower,
Methinks it whispers, "God created me,
"And I to Him devote my little hour,
"In lonely sweetness and humility."
If, where the forest’s darkest shadows lower,
A serpent quick and venomous I see,
It seems to say,— "I, too, extol the power
"Of Him, who caused me, at his will, to be."
The fountain purling, and the river strong,
The rocks, the trees, the mountains raise one song;
"Glory to God !" re-echoes in mine ear :—
Faithless were I, in wilful error blind,
Did I not Him in all his creatures find,
His voicee through heaven, and earth, and ocean hear.
TO THE WINDS.
Ye viewless Minstrels of the sky!
I marvel not in times gone by
That ye were deified:
For, even in this later day,
To me oft has your power, or play,
Unearthly thoughts supplied.
Awful your power! when by your might,
You heave the wild waves, crested white,
Like mountains in your wrath!
Ploughing between them valleys deep,
Which, to the seamen rous’d from sleep,
Yawn like Death’s opening’ path!
Graceful your play! when, round the bower
Where Beauty calls Spring’s loveliest flower,
To wreathe her dark locks there,
Your gentlest whispers lightly breathe
The leaves between, flit round that wreath,
And stir her silken hair.
Still, thoughts like these are but of earth,
And you can give far loftier birth :—
Ye come !- we know not whence!
Ye go !— can mortals trace your flight ?
All imperceptible to sight;
Though audible to sense.
The Sun,— his rise and set we know;
The Sea,— we mark its ebb and flow;
The Moon — her wax and wane;
The Stars,— Man knows their courses well,
The Comet’s vagrant paths can tell ;—
But you his search disdain.
Ye restless, homeless, shapeless things !
Who mock all our imaginings,
Like Spirits in a dream ;
What epithet can words supply
Unto the Bard who takes such high
Unmanageable theme ?
But one :— to me, when Fancy stirs
My thoughts, ye seem Heav’n’s Messengers,
Who leave no path untrod;
And when, as now, at midnight’s hour,
I hear your voice in all its power,
it seems the Voice of GOD.
THE SILENT EXPRESSION OF NATURE.
WHEN, thoughtful to the vault of Heaven
I lift my wondering eyes,
And see the clear and quiet even
To night resign the skies,—
The moon, in silence, rears her crest,
The stars, in silence, shine ;-
A secret rapture fills my breast
That speaks its birth divine.
Unheard, the dews around me fall,
And heavenly influence shed,
And silent on this earthly ball
Celestial footsteps tread:
Aerial music wakes the spheres,
Touch’d by harmonious powers;
With sounds, unheard by mortal ears,
They charm the lingering hours.
Night reigns, in silence, o’er the pole,
And spreads her gems unheard;
Her lessons penetrate the soul,
Yet borrow not a word:
Noiseless the sun emits his fire,
And silent pours his golden streams;
And silently the shades retire
Before his rising beams.
The hand that moves, and regulates,
And guides the vast machine,—
That governs wills, and times, and fates,—
Retires, and works unseen:
Angelic visitants forsake
Their amaranthine bowers;
On silent wing their stations take,
And watch the allotted hours.
Sick of the vanity of man,—
His noise, and pomp, and show,—
I’ll move upon great Nature's plan,
And, silent, work below:
With inward harmony of soul,
I’ll wait the upper sphere;
Shining, I’ll mount above the pole,
And break my silence there.
-MODERN LITERARY READER.
THE mountain’s torrent, and the rill
That bubbles o’er its pebbly bed,
Make music which can soothe and still
The aching heart and weary head;
For Nature’s simple minstrelsy
Proffers a thousand charms for me.
The ruthless gale that Autumn brings,
The lispings of the Summer breeze,
And Winter’s wildest murmurings,
Have each a sovereign power to please,
And minister untold delight
To fancy in her vagrant flight.
When midnight tempests loudly ring,
And from their crazy thrones on high,
Around the moon’s faint glimmering,
The stars are watching tremblingly,—
A calm amidst the storm I find,
And quiet in the wailing wind.
- BIBLE LYRICS.
THE RISE AND EXPANSE OF A RIVER.
BEHOLD the rivulet, from its parent source,
Steal through the thicket with unheeded course;
Of future greatness yet unconscious stray,
Like infant princes, in their infant play;
O’er its rough bed in lulling murmurs flow,
Or through the breezy sedge meandering slow.
And now in waves impelling soft, it roves
Through sunny banks, or deep involving groves;
From sister streams receives enriching aid,
And wonders at the progress it has made.
Now tufty isles the doubtful stream divide,
The sacred haunts of Cygnus’ plumy pride:
O’er the clear crystal hangs the woody scene,
The weeping willow, or bright evergreen.
The trembling branches, all inverted, seem,
To point to other skies below the stream.
The sun reflected gilds the illusive deep,
Or shadowy winds the mantling surface sweep.
Here thick’ning grass invites the mower’s scythe,
The busy groups of men and maidens blithe;
Here the shorn meadow brightens to the eye,
The scattered herds lie ruminating nigh:
Each rising charm the bounteous stream bestows,
The grass that thickens, and the flower that blows.
And while the vale the humid wealth imbibes
The fostering wave sustains the finny tribes;
The carp, with golden scales, in wanton play;
The trout in crimson-speckled glory gay;
The red-finned roach, the silver-coated eel;
The pike, whose haunt the twisted roots conceal;
The healing tench, the gudgeon, perch, and bream;
And all the sportive natives of the stream.
The vigorous stream now drives the busy mill,
And now disdains the little name of rill:
The clustering cots adorn its flowery sides,
Where blest content, with rosy health, abides;
Or here the villa’s simple charms invite,
Where rural ease and elegance unite,
There, gaudy Art her cumbrous pomp displays,
Where gay caprice bedecks the verdant maze;
The palace, column, temple, statue, rears,
While Nature fashionably drest appears;
And now the bridge, by busy mortals trod,
High overarches the ambitious flood:
Now crowded cities, lofty turrets rise,
And smoking columns mingle with the skies;
Where the rash nymphs their limbs exulting lave,
Where oars innumerous beat the astonished wave,
On the proud surface swells the impatient sail,
And gladdened coasts the welcome streamers hail.
Expanding still the roughening waters glide,
In haste to mingle with the briny tide;
Till sea-like grown, they now disdain all bound,
And, rushing to the deep, resistless pour around.
BEAUTIFUL, sublime, and glorious;
Mild, majestic, foaming, free,—
Over time itself victorious,
Image of eternity.
Sun and moon, and stars shine o’er thee,
See thy surface ebb and flow;
Yet attempt not to explore thee
In thy soundless depths below.
Earth,— her valleys, and her mountains,
Mortal man’s behests obey;
Thy unfathomable fountains
Scoff his search, and scorn his sway.
Such thou art— stupendous ocean?
But if overwhelm’d by thee,
Can we think, without emotion,
What must thy Creator be?
- R. BARTON.
THE TREASURES OF THE DEEP.
WHAT hid’st thou in thy treasure-caves and cells,
Thou hollow-sounding and mysterious Main?
Pale glistening pearls, and rainbow-colour’d shells,
Bright things which gleam unreck’d of, and in vain;
Keep, keep thy riches, melancholy Sea,
We0 ask not such from thee!
Yet more, the depths have more! what wealth untold
Far down, and shining thro’ their stillness lies !
Thou hast the starry gems the burning gold,
Won from ten thousand royal Argosies.
Sweep o’er thy spoils, thou wild and wrathful Main;
Earth claims not these again !
Yet more, the depths have more! thy waves have roll’d
Above the cities of a world gone by!
Sand hath filled up the palaces of old,
Sea-weed o’ergrown the halls of revelry!
Dash o’er them, Ocean ! in thy scornful play!
Man yields them to decay!
Yet more, the billows and the depths have more
High hearts and brave are gather’d to thy breast !
They hear not now the booming waters roar,
The battle-thunders will not break their rest.
Keep thy red gold and gems, thou stormy grave—
Give back the true and brave!
Give back the lost and lovely! those for whom
The place Was kept at board and hearth so long;
The prayer went up thro’ midnight’s breathless gloom,
And the vain yearning woke 'mid festal song!
Hold fast thy buried Isles, thy towers o’erthrown,
But all is not thine own !
To thee the love of woman hath gone down,
Dark flow thy tides o’er Manhood’s noble head—
O’er Youth’s bright locks and Beauty’s flowery crown;
Yet must thou bear a voice — Restore the Dead !
Earth shall reclaim her precious things from thee,
Restore the dead, thou Sea !
- MRS. HEMANS.
WONDERS AND MURMURS.
STRANGE, that the Wind should be left so free,
To play with a flower or tear a tree;
To range or ramble where’er it will,
And, as it lists, to be fierce or still;
Above, and around to breathe of life,
Or to mingle the earth and sky in strife;
Gently to whisper, with morning light,
Yet to growl like a fetter’d fiend ere night;
Or to love, and cherish, and bless, to-day,
What to-morrow it ruthlessly rends away!
Strange, that the Sun should call into birth
All the fairest flowers and fruits of earth,
Then bid them perish, and see them die,
While they cheer the soul and gladden the eye.
At morn, its child is the pride of Spring —
At night, a shrivell’d and loathsome thing!
To-day, there is hope and life in its breath,
To-morrow, it shrinks to a useless death.
Strange doth it seem, that the Sun should joy;
To give life, alone, that it may destroy.
Strange, that the Ocean should come and go,
With its daily and nightly ebb and flow,—
Should bear on its placid breast at morn,—
The bark that ere night, will be tempest-torn;
Or cherish it all the way it must roam,
To leave it a wreck within sight of home:
To smile, as the mariner’s toils are o’er,
Then wash the dead to the cottage door;
And gently ripple along the strand,
To watch the widow behold him land !
But, stranger than all, that man should die,
When his plans are form’d and his hopes are high;
He walks forth a lord of the earth to-day,
And the morrow beholds him part of its clay;
He is born in sorrow and cradled in pain;
And from youth to age — it is labour in vain;
And all that seventy years can show,
Is, that wealth is trouble, and wisdom woe;
That he travels a path of care and strife,
Who drinks of the poison’d cup of life !
Alas! if we murmur at things like these,
That reflection tells us are wise decrees;
That the Wind is not ever a gentle breath,—
That the Sun is often the bearer of death,—
That the Ocean-wave is not always still,—
And that Life is chequer’d with good and ill:
If we know 'tis well that such change should be,
What do we learn from the things we see ?
That an erring and sinning child of dust
Should not wonder nor murmur,— but hope and trust.
TO THE NAUTILUS.
Thou didst laugh at sun and breeze
In the new created seas;
Thou wast with the reptile broods
In the old sea solitudes,
Sailing in the new-made light,
With the curled-up Ammonite.
Thou surviv’dst the awful shock,
Which turn’d the ocean-bed to rock;
And chang’d its myriad living swarms
To the marble’s veined forms.
Thou wert there, thy little boat,
Airy voyager! kept afloat,
O’er the waters wild and dismal
O’er the yawning gulfs abysmal;
Amid wreck and overturning,
Rock-imbedding, heaving, burning,
Mid the tumult and the stir,
Thou, most ancient mariner !
In that pearly boat of thine,
Sail’dst upon the troubled brine.
- DR. MANTELL'S THOUGHTS ON A PEBBLE.
THE NAUTILUS AND THE AMMONITE.
"The one shall be taken, and the other left."
THE nautilus and the ammonite
Were launched in friendly strife;
Each sent to float, in its tiny boat,
On the wide, wild sea of life !
For each could swim on the ocean’s brim,
And when wearied its sail could furl;
And sink to sleep in the great sea-deep,
In its palace all of pearl !
And theirs was a bliss more fair than this
Which we taste in our colder clime;
For they were rife in a tropic life,
A brighter and better clime !
They swam 'mid isles, whose summer smiles
Were dimmed by no alloy;
Whose groves were palm, whose air was balm,
And life — one only joy!
They sailed all day, through creek and bay,
And traversed the ocean deep;
And at night they sank on a coral bank,
In its fairy bowers to sleep !
And the monsters vast, of ages past,
They beheld in their ocean-caves;
They saw them ride in their power and pride,
And sink in their deep sea-graves.
And hand in hand, from strand to strand,
They sailed in mirth and glee;
These fairy shells, with their crystal cells,
Twin sisters of the sea!
And they came at last, to a sea long past,
But as they reached its shore,
The Almighty’s breath spoke out in death,
And the ammonite lived no more !
So the nautilus now, in its shelly prow,
As over the deep it strays,
Still seems to seek, in bay and creek,
Its companion of other days.
And alike do we, on life’s stormy sea,
As we roam from shore to shore,
Thus, tempest-tost, seek the loved, the lost,
But find them on earth no more
Yet the hope, how sweet again to meet,
As we look to a distant strand;
Where heart meets heart, and no more they part,
Who meet in that better land.
- G.F. RICHARDSON.
A HUNDRED fathoms, one and all, below the earth we dwell,
We never know the daylight’s glow that others love so well;
The ploughman sees the hills and trees that we can never view;
The very sun that shines on him on the Queen is shining too.
By hard attacks, by flame and axe, we blast and hew our way;
In darkness dim, through caverns grim, we toil from day to day;
The engine roars, the water pours, the pinions creak and strain;
The buckets rise with fresh supplies, and still we work the vein.
The toil we share, the very air whereof we take our breath,
The rocks we hew, the things we view, they all are full of death;
And still we say, as day by day we pass the fiery damp,
His name be blest, and light his rest, that made the SAFETY LAMP.
A man thinks light of wrong or right that never sees the sun;
And in the place where darkness dwells are deeds of darkness done;
The evil jest, the hardened breast — we know them both — and worse,
The heart that cares for nothing, and the blasphemy and curse.
Aye! time seems long in passing ! but time will peas away;
Each thing we thought, each deed we wrought, will have its reckoning-day;
The deeds we did in secret shall be shown in all men’s sight
The words we spoke in darkness shall be published in the light !
For He who bade the husbandman to plough, and sow, and reap,
Hath his eyes upon the miner in the lode so dark and deep.
Let us trust in Him at all times,— let us only do His will,
And He who heard our cry of late can guide and guard us still.
God bless the man to whom we owe the thanks of all our lives,
For saving from their bondage our children and our wives;
God bless the man that dared alone the miners’ cause to plead,
That bravely came to end our shame and help us in our need!
THE IRON FOUNDERS.
'TIS a fearful sight on a winter’s night
When the wind on the moors is high,
And here and there the furnace-glare
Is ruddy across the sky;
And horribly bright from its funnel’s height
A sheet of flame is cast;
And far below is the livid glow
Of the iron melting fast.
A weary watch while others sleep,
A weary watch have we;
When the frost is sharp and the night is deep,
And as lone as lone can be;
And the blast, that nothing can weary, roars
To the wind that roars again;
You might keep alive with the air it pours,
Two hundred thousand men !
And hour by hour, as the distant stroke
Of the old church clock we her
We feed the furnace with lime and coke,
Whereon he makes good cheer;
And hour by hour, in his red, red sides,
He melts the ore away;
And the liquid stream of metal glides
From the earth to its bed of clay.
And this is the way that our hours decay,
And these are the toils that wear;
For our children’s sake our rest we break,
From youth to the hoary hair;
The very iron we fashion out,
Of turmoil tells its tale ;—
The cannon that roars in the battle-shout,
The anchor and the rail.
We murmur not that the words were said
To all of mortal frame,
In the sweat of our brow we must needs eat bread,
Till we turn from whence we came:
But when clouds fly off and tempests cease,
And skies are calm and clear,
We cannot but long for the Lend of Peace,
And the quiet we know not here.
NOR to the surface of enlivened earth,
Graceful with hills and dales, and leafy woods,
Her liberal tresses, is thy force confined :
But, to the bowelled cavern darting deep,
The mineral kinds confess thy mighty power.
Effulgent, hence, the veiny marble shines;
Hence Labour draws his tools: hence burnished War
Gleams on the day; the nobler works of Peace
Hence bless mankind; and generous Commerce binds
The round of nations in a golden chain.
Th’ unfruitful rock itself, impregned by thee,
In dark retirement forms the lucid stone.
The lively Diamond drinks thy purest rays
Collected light, compact.
At thee the Ruby lights its deepening glow,
And with a waving radiance inward flames.
From thee, the Sapphire, solid ether, takes
Its hue cerulean; and of evening tint,
The purple-streaming Amethyst is thine.
With thy own smile the yellow Topaz burns;
Nor deeper verdure dyes the robe of Spring,
When first she gives it to the southern gale,
Than the green Emerald shows. But, all combined,
Thick through the whitening Opal play thy beams;
Or, flying several from its surface, form
A trembling variance of revolving lines,
As the site varies in the gazer’s hand.
A traveller through a dusty road,
Strewed acorns on the lea;
And one took root, and sprouted up,
And grew into a tree.
Love sought its shade at evening time,
To breathe its early vows;
And Age was pleased, in heats of noon,
To bask beneath its boughs.
The dormouse loved its dangling twigs,
The birds sweet music bore.
It stood a glory in its place —
A blessing evermore.
A little spring had lost its way.
Amid the grass and fern;
A passing stranger scooped a well
Where weary men might turn.
He walled it in, and hung with care
A ladle at the brink —
He thought not of the deed he did,
But judged that toil might drink.
He passed again, and lo! the well,
By summers never dried,
Had cooled ten thousand parching tongues,
And saved a life besides.
A dreamer dropped a random thought;
'Twas old, and yet 'twas new —
A simple fancy of the brain,
But strong in being true;
It shone upon a genial mind,
And lo! its light became
A lamp of life — a beacon-ray —
A monitory flame:
The thought was small, its issue great —
A watch-fire on the bill
It sheds its radiance far adown,
And cheers the valley still.
A nameless man, amid a crowd
That thronged the daily mart,
Let fall a word of hope and love,
Unstudied, from the heart —
A whisper on the tumult thrown,
A transitory breath,
It raised a brother from the dust,
It saved a soul from death.
O germ, O fount, O word of love !
O thought at random cast
Ye were but little at the first,
But mighty at the last.
NATURE AND ITS GOD.
See through this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
Above, how high progressive life may go !
Around, how wide! bow deep extend below !
Vast chain of Being ! which from God began,
Nature’s ethereal, human, angel, man;
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glance can reach; from infinite to thee,
From thee to nothing ! On superior powers
Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale’s destroyed;
From Nature’s chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and GOD the soul ?