Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/440

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440
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

fixed formulas are given for each flavor and for each liquor. These artificial perfumes are much used for the preparation of confections into the composition of which neither fruit nor sugar enters, but only alga% potato glucose, and artificial flavors, and of bonbons, jellies, liquors, etc. The essences of cognac and rum are also much used in the preparation of drinks with alcohols of grain, sugar beet, or potato. The perfumes of flowers are harder to imitate. Recourse was at first had to mixtures of other cheaper or more easily obtainable natural perfumes. An advance has now been made, and chemistry has succeeded in imitating these odors with substances derived from plants by complex reactions. The first perfume derived from combinations with the derivatives of coal tar was nitrobenzine, which was obtained by Mitscherlich m 1834, but is manufactured on a large scale only by Collas, in Paris, under the name of essence of mirbane. It has an odor like that of bitter almonds, and is used for perfuming soaps. Perfumes of similar origin have multiplied very much in recent years; and we now have among them artificial wintergreen, artificial musk, etc.

 

Floral Festivals.—In the arrangement in the Arsenal Garden, Tokio, Japan, of special collections of plants selected for the purpose of producing a display of flowers at different seasons of the year, Garden and Forest perceives an idea which can perhaps be adopted advantageously in other parts of the world. It is the expression, it says, of the love of the Japanese for particular flowers and of the popularity of the flower festivals held in spring, when the apricot trees and the cherry trees bloom; in summer, when the wistaria, the irises, and the morning-glories are in flower; and in the autumn, at the season of the chrysanthemum, and when the leaves of the maple trees assume their brilliant coloring. Every public garden in Japan contains collections of these plants, at least of the apricots, the cherries, and the maples, and they are visited by the greatest number of people when these plants are in flower. Their flowering is the excuse for parties of pleasure, and the intelligence of millions of people has in this way been (quickened by their interest in the unfolding of petals of cherry trees or wistaria. Similar arrangements might be made in our own parks. "As our cities grow large and absorb the surrounding country, many of their inhabitants must pass their lives in ignorance of some of the most beautiful things in Nature, without beholding, for example, the glory of an apple tree in flower. In some corner of any one of our large parks, or better, in different parks of a series or system, a number of permanent out-door flower shows might be arranged which Mould add immensely to their value as places of resort, and would have a powerful influence in directing and educating the public taste. There are many trees, for example, with showy and beautiful flowers, which display their greatest beauty only when massed together in considerable numbers; and if the people of our cities had the opportunity to see such collections, they would very soon make holidays for the purpose, and flower festivals before many years would become as much a part of our life in cities as they have in Japan."

 

Superstitions concerning the "Black Devil".—While the Dara Deil (Forficula oleus), or "black devil," a kind of earwig, used to be an object of almost universal abhorrence in the folk lore of Ireland. Its services were sometimes invoked in labor that demanded extraordinary physical exertion. In creeping along, whenever it hears any noise it halts, cocks up its tail, and jerks out its sting, which is similar to that of a bee. No reptile has been so much feared and dreaded by the peasantry as this insect, and it used to be commonly believed that it betrayed to his Jewish enemies the way the Saviour went when leaving the city of Jerusalem. It was no small gain to destroy this insect, for seven sins, it was said, were taken off the soul of the slayer. The people believed that the sting of the Dara Deil was very poisonous, if not mortal, and that it possessed a demoniac spirit. Under this impression, whenever it was seen in a house by the peasantry they always destroyed it by placing a coal of fire over it, and when it was burned the ashes were carefully swept out. It was not trodden on by foot, as a less formidable insect would be, nor was it killed by a stick, for it was believed that the poisonous or demoniac essence would be conveyed to the body of the slayer through leather or