Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 125.djvu/462

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448
LITERARY CURIOSITIES.

robbed of one of its greatest and most national poets, English poetry would lose its father, and in all respects be very appreciably poorer. If less classic names in poetical history are taken, such as Talfourd, Macaulay, Bryant, and Barry Cornwall, the list might be infinitely extended; and if filial relationship to the legal profession be considered, as in the case of Wordsworth, the close connection between poetry and law will look such a matter of course that the few eminent exceptions will only tend to prove the rule. Milton was the son of a scrivener. There is no need to indorse the fancy that Shakespeare may have been a law-clerk, or to suggest that Dante might have been influenced by a residence at the great legal university of Bologna. But there is another list strikingly to the purpose — the long roll of great lawyers who, like Cicero, Sir Thomas More, Lord Somers, Blackstone, and Sir William Jones, have found flirtation with the muses no impediment to their marriage with the law. It may be that this close connection of two seemingly irreconcilable pursuits is due to some rule of contrast; or is it that fiction, romance, and verbiage afford to poetry and law a common standing-ground?




Vice-Consul Allen, in his report of the trade of Tamsuy and Kelung, describes the distillation of the camphor of commerce from Cinnamomum camphora, Fr., Nees et Eb., as a most hazardous trade, the distillers having to be constantly on the alert for fear of attack by the aborigines, who are naturally opposed to the continual encroachments into their territory for the purpose of cutting down the trees for extracting the camphor. No young trees are planted to replace those cut down, nor do the officials take any cognisance of the diminution which is being surely effected in the supply of a valuable commercial article. The stills are described as being of a very simple construction, and are built up in a shed in such a manner that they can be moved as the Chinese advance into the interior. A long wooden trough, coated with clay and half filled with water, is placed over eight or ten furnaces; on the trough boards pierced with holes are fitted, and on these boards are placed jars containing the camphor-wood chips, the whole being surmounted by inverted earthenware pots, and the joints made airtight by filling them up with hemp. When the furnaces are lit the steam passes through the pierced boards, and saturating the chips, causes the sublimated camphor to settle in crystals on the inside of the pots, from which it is scraped off and afterwards refined. During the summer months the camphor often loses as much as twenty per cent, on its way from the producing districts to the port of shipment.Nature.




A malady which threatens great loss to owners of lemon-plantations has attacked the lemon-plant, the origin of which is believed to be the forced cultivation of the fruit, which has taken place during the last few years. The lemon-plant is very hardy, and infinitely easier to cultivate than the orange, and this fact has probably induced a certain amount of carelessness in its treatment, from which growers are now suffering. The tree was originally a native of the dry and hot soil of Persia, whence it has been transferred to various other countries, where, under different circumstances of soil and climate, it has been made largely to increase its yield of fruit. The disease which has now made its appearance is called la sécheresse, or dry rot, and seizes the extremities of the plant, sometimes the roots, sometimes the branches, whence it gradually spreads through the whole tree, drying up its sap in its course. Hitherto attempts have been made to check the ravages of the new disease, but without success. It is said that similar appearances have been noticed in orange-plantations. It is suggested that by grafting cuttings of the healthy lemon-plant on the wild orange-tree, a new stock of plants may be obtained, and the fruit cultivated on trees which have not been subjected to forced growth. If this plan succeeds, it is to be hoped that the cultivation of the new race may be carried on with greater care in the future.Nature.