Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/578

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the April number of the Monthly, we were not able to find any authentic portrait of either of them, or to learn that any existed. The publication of the sketch called out from Dr. W. H. Mills, of Syracuse, N. Y., the information that an engraved portrait of William Bartram was in existence, and formed the frontispiece to the second volume of the Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports, published in Philadelphia in 1832 by J. & T. Dougherty. Through the kindness of Dr. Mills we have been able to procure this volume, and to have a copy made of this picture. Concerning the authenticity of the portrait, the statement is made in the Biographical Sketch of William Bartram, which is the first article in the volume, that "the accompanying portrait is a correct likeness of Mr. Bartram, and the only engraved one ever given to the American public." It will be observed that the date of the publication of this portrait was only nine years after Mr. Bartram's death.

 

The Schools of New York State.—According to the Report of State Superintendent Draper, while the number of children of school age in the State of New York appeared to be 22,823 less than in 1890, the number of children in attendance on the public schools (1,054,044) was greater by 11,884. Besides these, the private schools reported an attendance of 157,603, and the normal schools, academies, colleges, etc., 69,392 pupils of school age in 1891. Comparative tables of attendance show a steady increase in cities (270,926 to 513,066) since 1861, while the attendance in towns has fallen from 601,928 to 540,978. The superintendent calls attention to the insufficiency of the laws for compulsory attendance, and in view of crude features in the laws of some other States, he recommends the formation of a State Educational Commission, with sufficient powers to consider the whole subject of the school laws of the State. In view of the weakness of some of the school districts, the superintendent favors the consolidation of small and weak districts when it can be brought about without serious inconvenience to the children of school age. It is not to be overlooked, however, that the school must be at a convenient distance. In Massachusetts provision is made for the transportation of children to distant schools, and profitless schools have been abolished, while the children are now instructed for a longer term under teachers of more experience and skill. The superintendent recommends the township system of school organization for consideration. An increasing interest in Arbor Day is noticed. The celebrations are usually marked by appropriate literary exercises, with many ingenious and elaborate programmes. Interest in this work has been stimulated by the offer, by Mr. William A. Wadsworth, of prizes for the best-kept school-grounds. The vote upon the question of a State flower has resulted in a majority for the rose over the golden-rod. The attempt to provide textbooks to be published by the State has resulted disastrously wherever it has been made. The superintendent thinks that the result of such a policy would be bad, even if it were seemingly successful. It would discourage authorship, discontinue competition among makers, and stop the constant improvement in the matter, style, and character of the books which has been marked in the past.

 

Barrel-making.—Few people, says Chambers's Journal, though all are familiar with the barrel, have probably been at pains to consider the skill and ingenuity which have succeeded in bringing to perfection an invention as scientific as beneficial all the world over; and probably fewer still are conversant with the brain-power and time which have been expended in attempts to produce machinery for manufacturing them. Barrels were in use as far back as the time of Pliny, who says they were invented in the Alpine valleys. A cask is a double conoid that is, it has its greatest diameter or its bulge or belly in the center. The stave is curved lengthwise to form the bulge and crosswise to form part of the circumference of the cask; while the edges must receive the exact bevel to fit those on either side along their entire length. Then the staves have to be "chimed" or beveled at the ends, and furnished with a "croze" or groove, into which to fit the heads; and hooping completes the manufacture of the cask. A new invention, by a Mr. Oncken, is in full operation at Merxem, in Germany, for turning out casks from one piece of wood. In the process the stem of a tree is cut into lengths corresponding to