Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/660

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

classical languages, and especially Greek, to make the literature easy reading. But further, the recurring to the study of ancient authors, by busy professional men in the present day, is an event of such extreme rarity that it can not be taken into account in any question of public policy. The second remark is, that the half-knowledge of the ordinary graduate is a link between the total blank of the outer world and the thorough knowledge of the accomplished classic. I am not much struck by the force of this argument. I think that the classical scholar might, by expositions, commentaries, and translations, address the outer world equally well, without the intervening mass of imperfect scholars. Lastly, the Canon puts in a claim for his own cloth. The knowledge of Greek paves the way for serious men to enter the ministry in middle life. Argument would be thrown away upon any one that could for a moment entertain this as a sufficient reason for compelling every graduate in arts to study Greek. The observation that I would make upon it has a wider bearing. Middle life is not too late for learning any language that we suddenly discover to be a want; the stimulus of necessity or of strong interest and the wider compass of general knowledge compensate for the diminution of verbal memory.—Contemporary Review.

 

THE VANILLA-PLANT.[1]
By J. POISSON,

ASSISTANT NATURALIST IN THE PARIS MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY.

OF all orchids the vanilla is the one most widely known; its fruit is deservedly esteemed and is an important article of commerce. Its valuable properties long ago brought the vanilla into notice. The fruit appears to have been first introduced into Europe in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The living plant was imported into England, toward the end of the eighteenth century, by Miller; but we can not with certainty determine which one of the few species of vanilla now known was then introduced. Linné, however, gave the name Epidendrum vanilla to the plant which had come into his hands, and which is supposed to have been identical with that brought by Miller. Several years later Swartz, on attentively studying the flower of the vanilla, observed notable differences between it and the flower of the genus Epidendrum; he was thus led to constitute a new genus, and Epidendrum vanilla now became Vanilla aromatica. Later Greville brought from America some cuttings of a vanilla differing from Vanilla aromatica, especially in the size of the leaves; to this Andrews gave the name Vanilla planifolia. This plant was

  1. Translated from "La Nature" by J. Fitzgerald, A.M.