Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/173

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161
COTTON FIBRES AND FABRICS.
About six or seven years after their departure, a friend living in New York gave an excellent account of their proceedings. Not only could the old man puff away in glorious style, and the son do well as a portrait-painter, but old Mrs.—— had cut a new set of teeth, and her poll was covered with a full crop of dark-brown hair!"

Journal of Mental Science.

 
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COTTON FIBRES AND FABRICS.[1]
PROFESSOR IN THE ACADEMY OF NEUFCHATEL.

COTTON owes its kingship quite as much to the tenacity with which its fibres adhere to one another, as to their length or fineness; and were it not that the fibre produced by the bombax, or silk-cotton tree, is too smooth, cotton would find in it a powerful rival. Cotton-wool is the downy bed in which the seeds of the cotton-plant are enveloped, and is the product of hot countries. It has several varieties, that cultivated in Algeria and in Southern Europe seldom attaining a height of over twelve inches, while at the equator the plant grows as high as an apple-tree, and bears a fruit twice as large as that of the Algerian species. The cotton grown in the East Indies is of very inferior quality, its fibre being short and hard; yet it was largely used in manufacture, during the war in the United States. Chinese cotton is yellow, and hence the peculiar color of the fabric called nankeen.

The cotton-plant is probably a native of Africa, and Livingstone found it in the interior of that country along the banks of all the rivers. The ancient Egyptians doubtless imported from Abyssinia their cotton cloths for mummy-wrappings and for the garments of priests and nobles, and from them the Jews inherited the employment of that texture for the robes of their priests: for, where the Bible makes mention of/me linen, we must read cotton, as flax does not grow in hot climates. From Africa cotton-culture passed into Persia and Georgia; then into India, and from India into China. In the latter empire all the clothing of the poorer classes is of cotton, of extremely firm texture. Indeed, so strong is the cotton cloth manufactured by the Chinese, that it is impossible for a man to tear a piece of it across; and the people of China and India refuse to buy European cotton manufactures, calling them mere spiders' webs.

If the true aim of prudent industry be to produce good fabrics at

  1. Translated and abridged from the Annales du Génie Civil. Dr. Sacc is the grandson of Dupasquier, who introduced into Switzerland the English process of printing calico. The author is responsible for his own political economy.