Puslapio vaizdai

ent in some degree, and justifies, perhaps, the occasional complaint of the grittiness of maple-sugar. But it is a native grit, and not chargeable upon the sugar-makers. It is nothing less than flint, which the roots of the maple absorbed, while it was dissolved in water in the soil. The sap, still holding the flint in solution, flows out, clear as water, when the tree is tapped; but when it is concentrated by boiling, the silicious mineral is deposited in little crystals, so that the bottom of the pan appears to be covered with sand. We could not select a more interesting example of the very wide diffusion of some compound substances than this one of silicic acid. It is found in the mineral and vegetable kingdoms. Being a mineral, it cannot be appropriated to animal uses, without being decomposed and transformed into an organic condition; but in the numerous species of plants whose stalks require stiffening against the winds, in the grasses and canes, including all our grains, the sugar-cane, and the bamboo,—a silicate (an actual flint) is taken up by the roots and stored away in the stalks as a stiffener. The rough, sharp edge of a blade of grass sometimes makes an ugly cut on one's finger by means of the flint it contains. Silex is the chief ingredient in quartz rock, which is so widely diffused over the earth, and enters into the composition of most of the precious stones. The ruby, the emerald, the topaz, the amethyst, chalcedony, carnelian, jasper, agate, and garnet, and all the beautiful varieties of rock crystal, are mostly or entirely silex. Glass is a compound of silex and pearlash. One who is curious in such things may make glass out of a straw, by burning it and heating the ashes with a blowpipe. A little globule of pure glass will form as the ashes are consumed. The following curious instance, quoted by that interesting physiologist, Dr. Carpenter, shows the same effect upon a large scale. A melted mass of glassy substance was found on a meadow between Mannheim and Heidelberg, in Germany, after a thunder-storm. It was, at first, supposed to be a meteor;

but, when chemically examined, it proved to consist of silex, combined with potash,

in the form in which it exists in grasses; and, upon further inquiry, it was ascertained that a stack of hay had stood upon the spot, of which nothing remained but the ashes, the whole having been ignited by the lightning.

There is nothing in Nature more striking to the novice than the first suggestions of the various, and apparently contradictory, at least unexpected, positions in which the same mineral is found. Now carbon is one of the minerals whose exchanges are peculiarly interesting. Chemists say that the diamond is the only instance in Nature of pure carbon: it burns in oxygen under the influence of intense heat, and leaves no ashes. Next to this -strange gradation!-is charcoal, which comes within a very little of being a diamond. But just that little interval is apparently so great, that none but a chemist would suspect there was any relationship between them. Then come all those immense beds of coal which compose one of the geological strata of the earth's crust, a stratum that was formed before the appearance of the animated creation, when the earth was clothed with a gigantic forest, whose mighty trunks buried themselves with their fallen leaves, and became, in time, a continuous bed of carbonaceous stone.

If we look at the vegetable and animal kingdoms, we find carbon entering into the composition of every tissue. But there are certain tissues and anatomical elements (as physicians say) which are formed largely of carbon and have no nitrogen whatever. These are oils and fats and everything related to them. What will be chiefly interesting, however, to our readers, is the power of transformation of one of these substances into another. Starch, gum, and sugar can all be changed into fat. The explanation of it is in the fact, that these substances are all chemically alike,—that is, they all have nearly the same proportions of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, and no nitrogen; but by slight differ

ences in the combination of these elements, they exist in Nature as so many distinct substances. Their approach to identity is further confirmed by the fact, that starch can be made into gum, and either of them into sugar, in the laboratory. The transformation of starch and gum into sugar is also constantly going on in the ripening of fruits. When country-dames make currant-jellies and currant-wine, they know very well, that, if they allow the berries to get dead-ripe, their jelly will not be so firm as when they seize an early opportunity and gather them when first fully red. They may also have observed that jelly made late, besides being less firm, is much more likely to candy. At first, the currants contain hardly any sugar, but more gum and vegetable jelly (glue); when deadripe, they have twelve times as much sugar as at first, and the gum and glue are much diminished. The gummy and gluey materials have been transformed into sugar. Every ripe fruit gives us evidence of the same manufacture of sugar that has gone on under the stimulus of the sun's rays; and in the greatest source of sugar, the cane, the process is the same. A French physician, M. Bernard, has, within the last twelve years, discovered that the liver of animals is constantly making sugar out of all kinds of food, while the lungs are all the time undoing the work of the liver and turning it back into its chemical elements. And although, in the laboratory of the liver, it is discovered that no alimentary substance is quite deficient in sweetness, yet there, as elsewhere, starch and gum yield a far greater amount of it than animal substances.

We have stated that starch and gum can be turned into sugar by art, but as no chemist has yet succeeded in imitating an animal substance, the change of these three into fat takes place only in the body. There are proofs enough within general observation, that one object of this portion of our diet is the supply of fat. The Esquimaux fattens on his diet of blubber and train-oil; the slaves on the sugarplantations grow fat in the boiling-sea

son, when they live heartily on sugar; the Chinese grow fat on an exclusively rice diet, and rice is chiefly starch. But one of the most interesting observations of the transformation of sugar into a fat is that made by Huber upon bees. It was the discovery, that bees make their wax out of honey, and not of pollen, as was formerly believed. When Huber shut up some bees in a close hive, and kept them supplied with pure honey or with sugar alone, they subsisted upon it, and soon began to build the comb. Wax is a fat, and the honey which is eaten by the bee is partly transformed into wax in his body. In about twenty-four hours after his stomach has been filled with honey, thin plates of wax appear.on the scales of his abdomen, having oozed through eight little openings in the scales and there hardened. Of this they build their cells.

We have wandered far from the consideration of the propensity of certain species of plants to take up special compound substances from the earth; but the wide-spread silex, with which we set out, displayed so interesting a field of observation, that it could not be resisted, and encouraged a disposition to rove, which has been to us instructive and entertaining. To return to plants, we find they make use of compounds for certain special ends; but, as we have seen, the whole vegetable kingdom uses the eight or ten primitive elements which it has in common with the animals, and out of these alone forms the infinite variety of products which we derive from it for food and various economical and æsthetical purposes. Among the many processes of Nature whose contemplation fills us with ever new delight, this power of the adaptation of a few means to an infinite number of ends is one of the most enchanting. We endeavor to explain by chemical laws the reduction of the materials which earth and air furnish, to a form in which they can be appropriated by the tree; by endosmose and exosmose we think we have overcome the obstacles to a clear comprehension of the circulation

of the sap; and by a cell-theory we believe we have explained the whole growth of wood and leaves and fruit. But what microscope or what alembic shall ever tell us why a collection of tubes and cells in one tree creates the most wholesome and delicious fruit, while in another an organization precisely similar, so far as we can discern, produces only harsh and poisonous berries? why the acacia tribe elaborate their gum, the pine family turpentine, the almond prussic acid, the sorrels oxalic acid? why the tall calisaya-tree of the Andes deposits in its bark the valuable medicine cinchona, and the oak, the hemlock, the tea-plant, and many others, make use of similar repositories to lay up stores of tannic acid? The numberless combinations of the same materials, and the wonderful power which rests in a single seed to bring about with unvarying uniformity its own distinct result, attest to us every day the admirable wisdom and goodness of the Creator.

These regular, every-day transformations of material elements from rock to tree, from tree to man, and back through a continual circuit, would repay us for spending our leisure hours in studying it, with our own eyes as well as with the eyes of others. The glance we have given is sufficiently suggestive to turn the attention of our readers that way. Before parting with them, however, we wish to make a few excursions into the natural world, to follow out some of the more peculiar and unexpected migrations of material atoms. Suppose we take a little marble,—which, in chemical constitution, is carbonate of lime,-that very marble, for instance, which forms the palaces of Venice, against which the waters of the Mediterranean have dashed for so many centuries, and have not dashed in vain. In their perpetual washing, they have worn away the stone and carried off its particles, an insignificant amount, it is true, but, little as it is, it has not remained unused. For that very carbonate of lime, which once shared the proud state of the "glorious city in the sea," now helps to form the coarse shells of

oysters, or is embodied in the vast coral reefs that shoot out from the islands of the West Indies, or is deposited year after year by dying shell-fish, which are slowly carpeting the ocean-bed with their remains. Much of this same Venice marble has doubtless been appropriated by fishes from the sea-water which dissolved it, been transformed into their bones, cast upon the soil of Italy, disintegrated, and imbibed by the thirsty roots of forests in sight of the very walls from which it parted. And who can say that parts of it do not now adorn the necks of some Venetian dames, in coral, or more costly pearls? What says Ariel to the orphaned Ferdinand?

"Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange."

This is but a hint of the mutability of created things. Marble, sea-shells, the chalk-cliffs of Dover, the limestone fossils which preserve for us animal forms of species long since extinct, the coral formations that are stretching out in dangerous reefs in so many seas of the tropics, are all identical in their chief ingredient, and, as we see, are by natural processes and various accidents constantly interchanging their positions.

It ought to be consoling to those who think a great deal of their bodies, to reflect, that, if we may tend "to base uses," we may also tend to very noble ones. In the course of their transmigrations, the elements of a worthless individual may get into far better company than they have before enjoyed,- may enter into brains that immortalize their owner and redeem the errors of the old possessor. Whoever bases his merit on a long line of ancestors who have nothing but a perpetuated name to boast of, may be likened to the last of many successive tenants of a house who have hired it for their temporary uses. The inheritance of a brave spirit and a noble mind is a sufficient justification for a reasonable pride;

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but not so with the heritage of materi-
als which are continually interchanging
with the clod.

There need be nothing humiliating in
such thoughts; the operations of Nature
are always admirable. But when the
relics of humanity are deliberately ap-
propriated to such mechanical or scien-
tific purposes as we shall relate, before
they have entirely lost their original (we
should say latest) form, then most men
would look upon the act as in some sort
a desecration. With what holy horror
would the ancient Egyptians regard the
economical uses to which their embalmed
bodies were appropriated a few centuries
In the works of Ambrose Paré,
the great surgeon of five French kings in
the sixteenth century, is a full account
of the preparation and administration of
“mummie,”—that is, Egyptian mummies,
powdered and made into pills and po-
tions," to such as have falne from high
places or have beene otherwise bruised."
The learned physician enters his protest
against the use of it, (which he says is
almost universal with the faculty,) as
quite inefficacious and disgusting. His
disgust, however, arises principally from
the fact, that the "mummie" prepared
by the apothecaries must have been de-

from the carcases of the basest people of Egypt; for the noblemen and cheefe of the province, so religiously addicted to the monuments of their ancestors, would never suffer the bodyes of


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If such traffic be base, what shall we say of some priests of Nicaragua, who ing the bones of the dead, with the earth renovate their burial-grounds by exhumthat surrounds them, and selling the mass to the manufacturers of nitre? No sentiment of reverence for the sepulchres of their fathers incites them to resist the inroads of foreign pirates,- for they manufacture their fathers' bones into gunpowder.

Let us turn away from the revolting picture. The glimpses at Nature's revolutions which we have enjoyed are more agreeable. We are no advocates for any attempts at preserving the human body from decomposition; that which will restore the beloved forms of friends most readily to their primitive elements, and remaining to excite our aversion or disavert the possibility of anything so dear gust, or becoming a pestilential agent, we would cordially encourage. There can

be no doubt that use would soon render feelings as consigning the precious recremation as little disagreeable to the mains to slow decay and food for worms; and few will long be pained at the thought of mingling at once with the common in other forms, after the soul has passed earth and air, and returning to usefulness ings of immortal life. to heavenly spheres to enjoy the bless


Ir is wonderful how Nature provides for the taking off and keeping down of her monsters, creatures that carry things only by force or fraud: your foxes, wolves, and bears; your anacondas, tigers, and lions; and your cunning or ferocious men of prey, of whom they are the types. Storms may and must now and then rage and ravage, volcanoes must have their

destructive fits, and the darkness must do its mean and tyrannical things while men are asleep; but calmness and sunshine triumph immeasurably on the whole. Of the cubs of iniquity, only here and perils of adolescence, develops into the there an individual escapes the crebrous full beast, and occupies a sublime place in history; whereas the genial men of

sunshine, plenty as the fair days of summer, pass quietly over from the ruby of life's morning to the sapphire of its evening, too numerous to be written of or distinctly remembered. There are, it is quite true, enough biographies of such in existence to read the world to sleep by for ages. It can hardly keep awake at all, except over lives of the other sort; hence, one of great and successful villany is a prize for the scribe. In the dearth of such, let us content ourselves with briefly noticing one of the multitude of abortive cubs, its villany nipped as Nature is wont to nip it-in the promising bud of its tenderness. Many a flourishing young rogue suddenly disappears, and the world never knows how or why. But it shall know, if it will heed our one-story tale, how Chip Dartmouth of these parts was turned down here,-albeit we cannot at present say whether he has since turned elsewhere.


Our hero was baptized simply Chipworth, in compliment to a rich uncle, who was expected on that account to remember him more largely in his will,-as he probably did; for he soon left him a legacy of twenty thousand dollars, on the express condition that it should accumulate till he was of age, and then be used as a capital to set the young man up in business. As the inheritance of kingdoms spoils kings, so this little fortune, though Chip could not finger a mill of it during his minority, all the while acted on him like a controlling magnet, inducing a strong repellency to good advice and a general exaltation of views, so that, when he came into possession of it, he was already a fast young man in almost every respect. He had settled it as the maxim of his life to gain fast and spend fast; and having had considerable opportunity to spend before he had any to gain, he had, on becoming a business man, some secret deficits to make good before he could really be as rich as people supposed him. As his deficits had not been made by daylight, so daylight must have nothing to do in wiping them out; and hence darkness became more

congenial than its reverse to all his plans, and he studied, as he thought, with singular success, the various tricks of blinding people to the state of his finances, as well as of bettering it. While he was supposed to be growing rich very rapidly, he really was doing so about half as fast as everybody thought. Chip would not steal, that was vulgar. But he would take every possible advantage of other people by keeping close his own counsels and pumping out theirs. He would slander a piece of property and then buy it. He would monopolize on a short market, and fill his purse by forestalling. Indeed, he was, altogether, one of the keen, and greatly admired in business circles.

It was not easy for Chip to love any being but himself,-not even a woman. But his smart figure, for which Nature and the tailors had done their best, set the general female imagination into the most lively action. Many were the dreams about him,-day-dreams and night-dreams, that were dreamed in front of all manner of little filigree birdnest bonnets and under snowy nightcaps; and at the slightest encouragement on his part, no doubt, the idea of himself which had been manufactured in many minds would have been fallen in love with. The reality certainly would not have been. Miss Millicent Hopkins wore one of the caps set for Chip, and her he professed vehemently to love. But she was the daughter of a millionnaire of a very set temper, who had often said and sworn that his daughter should not have any man who had not proved by more than mushroom or retail success in business that he was able and likely to better her fortune. Miss Millicent must plainly either be run away with, or fairly won on old Hopkins's plan of wholesale, longwinded business success. Miss Millicent's good looks, if they did not amount to beauty, did, nevertheless, add something to the attractiveness of her vast pecuniary prospects. Chip had obtained the young lady's decided favor without absolutely crossing the Rubicon himself, for

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