Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/719

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SKETCH OF CARL RITTER.

destroyed, and each post was converted into a conductor, down which the electric current passed into the ground. This was especially the case directly the extreme severity of the weather abated and the ice became less dry. But the iron posts had this marked advantage over the wooden ones, that, whereas the latter kept their coating of ice for weeks, these others threw it off directly the sun began to shine. Being black, they absorbed heat more readily, and, by melting the inner surface of the ice, soon caused the whole to crumple up and fall off.

In conclusion, it remains for us to say a few words as to the effects of this remarkable frost-phenomenon upon the vegetable world. Trees are everywhere scarce in the steppes, their cultivation being attended with very great difficulty; nor is this to be wondered at when one considers the various climatic influences to which they are subject. During the winter of which we have been speaking, every tree, every branch, every smallest twig was incrusted with ice one, two, or three inches thick; and accordingly the trees in the town of Kherson, chiefly white acacias, lost nearly all their branches, while many of the smaller ones were completely crushed to the earth. Of the fruit-trees, all of which looked as if they were made of glass, some suffered more, some less, according to the character of their growth. The apple-trees and apricots for instance, with their spreading horizontal branches, were for the most part quite broken down; while the more erect-growing pear-trees and cherries, had maintained their balance better and suffered much less in comparison.—Chambers's Journal.

 
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SKETCH OF CARL RITTER.

CARL RITTER was born at Quedlinburg, in Saxony, the birth-place of Klopstock, on the 7th of August, 1779. His father was physician in ordinary to the Abbess of the convent in that place, and was a man of noble character and gentle disposition who was held in high esteem by his fellow citizens. He died in the prime of life and left his widow destitute, with five children, Carl being then five years old. The helpless situation of the widow, a well-born, refined woman, awakened general sympathy. Salzmann, who was about establishing a school for young children in Schnepfenthal, heard of it and determined to adopt Carl as a gratuitous pupil and as his first scholar. Carl found this a second home, and remained at the school eleven years, or until it was time for him to go to the university. It was in this lovely Thuringian town that, looking upon the manifold shapes of mountain and plain, wood and field, he received his first impressions of the relations which exist between the configuration of the