Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/147

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137
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ice-foot, which collects in winter beneath the sea-cliffs, is placed in the best possible position to receive any seeds or masses of soil which may fall during the winter. This shore-ice is drifted away in the spring, and may easily discharge its burden on some far distant shore uninjured, and with the seeds just ready to germinate. Winds, migrating birds, and migrating mammals, would all help to transport seeds across the straits.

 

Early Title-pages.—In the earliest printed books and in manuscripts any information on the workmanship of the book was written at the end, in what is called the colophon. It was not till 1470, according to Mr. A. W. Follard, in his History of the Title-page, that a title-page was introduced, and in England not till shortly before 1490, when W. de Machline issued one to his little book on the pestilence. Caxton never used them, but Wynkyn de Worde employed them in nearly all his books. At the beginning of the next century are found the most interesting, if not the most artistic, titles. Popular demand then required a large woodcut on the front page, whatever was the subject of the book. Even school-books were adorned with representations of masters and scholars, the most striking object in the cut being a formidably large birch. The nature of most of the religious books required a frontispiece containing devils. The little books of poetry and romance which issued from the press by hundreds contain the best specimens of this kind of art. Looking at these title-pages from the artistic side alone, England makes but a poor show against France and Italy. Nothing could be finer than the title-pages of the Parisian books in the early part of the sixteenth century. After this time the decadence began, and the printers finally became "dreadfully utilitarian and unromantic."

 

The Primary Color of Leaves.—Having concluded, as has already been mentioned in the Monthly, that the primary color of flowers is white, from which the characteristic hue is developed as a secondary color, E. Williams Hervey asks, in Garden and Forest, What is the primary color of the green parts of the plant? Leaves do not generally have a different color at the base from the usual one, as has been shown to be the case with flowers; and they rarely, except in the purplish leaves of vigorous saplings and a few cultivated plants, have any other color than green. But the leaves of some cultivated plants are spotted, striped, or bordered with white; bleached celery stalks are white, and the inner leaves of cabbages are white. From these instances "we get pretty strong hints that green is derived from white. There remains one more clew. Every botanist knows that the seed contains a miniature and rudimentary plant; that generally the most prominent parts of the seed are the cotyledons or seed leaves, and these are, of course, the first leaves of every species of plants. Now, if we ascertain the color of these seed-leaves, we find the original color of all leaves. This color is uniformly white; ... of course, we do not refer to the colored integument of the seed, which, as in the case of garden leaves, may be white, red, yellow, blue, black, or of mixed colors, but to the kernel, or meat. There are a very few instances only where the green color has impressed, somewhat, that characteristic upon the seed, as in peas, nasturtiums, and maples, which present a pale-green color in the pod or shell. In some instances these cotyledons appear above the surface of the ground, changing from white to green; while in others they remain below." We learn from this study of color, therefore, the author adds, "that white is the primary color of root, stem, and flower, and the foundation of all color."

 

A New Electric Light.—A vast improvement in artificial illumination is promised in the light which Mr. Tesla, "the able lieutenant of Mr. Edison," has been exhibiting in London. An experiment performed by him before the Royal Institution consists, according to the Spectator's account, in joining two sheets of tin-foil, one over the lecturer's head, the other on the table, to the poles of the generator. The space between these two sheets immediately became electrified, and a long vacuum-tube waved about in it, without attachment to any conductor, glowed in the darkness like a flaming sword. The experiment was intended to illustrate the possibility of rendering an entire room so electric, by plates in the ceiling or under the floor, that vacuum-bulbs placed anywhere within it