Графични страници
PDF файл


1859, determined the presence of 1.67 ing imbedded in the hard surface of a per cent of carbon, and somewhat more road close by. The crust is black, and ihan 0.25 per cent. of an organic sub- the mass of the stone dark grey; throughstance soluble in alcohol. This com- out the structure black portions of the pound is described as possessing a yel- size of peas lie scattered, giving the stone low color, and a soft resinous, or waxy, a porphyritic character. Wöhler treated aspect. It readily fused with a slight the stone with alcohcl, which removed a rise of temperature, and when heated in white, apparently crystalline, substance a tube it was decomposed, emitting a possessing a peculiar aromatic odor. strong bituminous odor, and leaving a With ether it broke up into oily drops, carbonaceous residue. Some four years and appeared to be decomposed into an ago I was considering what should be insoluble Auid body and a soluble solid done with a trace of this substance, so portion. The solid substance was obsmall in amount that it could not be re- tained in a distinctly crystalline condimoved from the vessel containing it. I tion on driving off the ether. It volatilwas unwilling to throw away even izes in air, fuses in a closed tube, and is small a quantity of so precious a sub- decomposed when greater heat is apstance, so I drew off the neck of the plied, a fatty odor being observed, and a flask and placed it in a dark cupboard of black residue left. The hydrocarbon is a room, the temperature of which, during believed by Wöhler to be allied to ozothe greater part of the year, is unusually cerite or scheererite.

When the pows high. In the interval this organic com- dered stone is heated in oxygen it turns pound has sublimed, and is deposited on of a cinnamon-brown color. This metethe higher parts of the vessel in colorless orite contains 0.58 per cent. of carbon. and well-defined crystalline plates.

1861.—The huge mass of meteoric 1840.—During this year a large mass iron discovered at Cranboune, near Melof meteoric iron was discovered in Sev- bourne, Australia, in 1861, encloses more ier County, Tennessee, enclosing a large or less rounded masses of carbon. They nodule of graphite. “It is,” writes Dr. are pronounced by Berthelot, who has Lawrence Smith, the largest mass of submitted some of the material to the graphite which has come under my ob- most powerful oxidizing reagents, to reservation, and is perhaps the largest semble the form of carbon which sepaknown.” Its dimensions are 60mm by rates from cast-iron on cooling rather 201um and 35 n, and it weighs 92 grammes. than native graphite. Two grammes of this nodule were re- 1864. May 14th, 8 P.M.-On this ocduced to powder and treated with ether, casion more than twenty stones fell at and the liquid on evaporation left a resi- Montauban, Tarn et Garonne, France, due weighing 15 milligrammes, and pos- some of them being as large as a husessing an aromatic, somewhat alliaceous, man head, and most of them smaller odor. It consisted of long colorless aci- than a fist. The appearance which this cular crystals, others which were shorter. meteorite exhibits closely resembles that as well as some rhomboidal crystals and of a dull-colored earthy lignite. The rounded particles. This extracted sub- masses are black and very friable, and stance melted at about 120° C. When fall to powder when placed in water; heated in a tube closed at one end it this is due to the removal of the soluble melts and then volatilizes, condensing salts which cement the ingredients togethin yellow drops, and leaving a carbon- er. A shower of rain would have deaceous residue. Dr. Lawrence Smith stroyed them One hundred parts of believes that the three elements, carbon, this stone contain 5.92 parts of carbon hydrogen, and sulphur, which they con- itself, partly as a constituent of one ortain, may be in combination, and he has ganic compound, which Cloëz found to named the meteoric sulphohydrocarbon possess the following composition :“ celestialite."


63.45 1857. April 15th, 10.11 P.M.- A bril


5.98 liant detonating meteor was observed at Oxygen..

30.57 this hour over Kaba, S.W. of Debreczin, Hungary, and a meteorite weighing 4 kilogr. was found on the following morn- Berthelot endeavored to reconstruct







the body of which this is a decomposed gave a small brown distillate. A quanproduct by means of hydriodic acid, and tity dried at 110° C. possessed the folobtained a considerable quantity of the lowing composition : hydrocarbon C2H2n+2 analogous to rockoil. The reduction takes place less


51.6 readily in this case than in that of coal.

Oxygen (calculated).

15.7 Dr. Lawrence Smith finds the combusti Silicic acid... ble portion of the material to amount to Iron protoxide.

8.4 about 4.5 per cent.

Magnesia. ...


Lime. 1867.—This Indian meteorite, which

Soda and Lithia.. fell at Goalpara about the year 1867 (the exact date is not known), was examined by Tschermak, who found it to contain 0.85 per cent. of a hydrocarbon. The


The combustible ingredient appears quantity, though small, materially affects to have the composition n C,H,O, It the general appearance of the stone; it was noticed on this occasion that the can be recognized under the microscope stones found in the same district with as a smoky-brown, lustreless ingredient the carbonaceous substance, were, as a accompanying the fragments of nickel- rule, quite round and covered on all iron. Of the o.85 per cent. 0.72 is car

sides with a black, dull, and often albon and 0.13 hydrogen. Tschermak most sponge-like, crust. The iron partisuggests that the luminous phenomena cles on the surface of the smaller stones so often attending the fall of an aerolite were usually quite bright and unoxidized, and the "tail” left by many meteors and as though the stone had been heated in shooting stars may be due to the com a reducing atmosphere. Nordenskjöld, bustion of compounds of which carbon

who examined them, expresses the belief forms an important constituent.

that this carbon compound frequently, 1868. July 11th. The curious mete- perhaps invariably, occurs in association orite of dull grey hue and loose structure with the meteorites, and he attributes its which fell on this day at Ornans, Doubs, preservation in this case to the fall of France, partly owes its dark color to the the stones on snow-covered ground. presence of a hydrocarbon.

1870.-During this year the Swedish 1869. January ist, 12.20 P.M.- A Arctic Expedition discovered in the most remarkable fall of stones took place basalt of Ovifak, near Godhavn, Island on New Year's Day, 1869, at Hessle, of Disko, Greenland, some enormous near Upsala; it is the first aerolitic metallic masses which are generally reshower recorded to have taken place in garded as blocks of meteoric iron. Like Sweden. The meteorites have so loose a meteoric iron, they contain nickel and structure that they break in pieces when cobalt, but, unlike that iron, they are but thrown with the hand against the floor slightly attacked by hydrochloric acid. or frozen ground. The most interesting The metal, moreover, when heated feature of the Hessle fall is the associa- evolves more than 100 times its volume tion with the stones referred to of matter of a gas which burns with a pale blue mainly composed of carbon. The peas- flame, and is carbonic oxide mixed with ants of Hessle noticed that some of the a little carbonic acid ; after this treatineteorites which fell on the snow near ment the substance dissolves in acid, Arnö soon crumbled to a blackish-brown leaving a carbonaceous residue. The powder resembling coffee-grounds. Sim- composition of this remarkable iron," ilar powder was found on the ice at if we may call it by that name, has been Hafslaviken in masses as large as the found by Wöhler to be as follows :hand, which floated on water like foam,


80.64 and could not be held between the fin


1.19 gers. A small amount secured for exam Cobalt...

0.49 ination was found under the microscope Phosphorus.

0.15 to be composed of small spherules; it Sulphur...

2.82 Carbon.

3.67 contained particles extractible by the


I1.09 magnet, and when ignited left a reddishbrown ash. Heated in a closed tube it


It appears to be a mixture of about 40 which had been placed in a cave in the per cent. of magnetite with metallic iron, centre of a glacier germinated after the its carbide, sulphide, and phosphide, and lapse of six weeks. Lepidium ruderale its alloys of nickel and cobalt, as well as and sativum, Sinapis alba, and Brassica some pure carbon in isolated particles. Napus, had germinated; and at the close

From all this we see though there is of four months other crucifers and some not a particle of evidence to prove the grasses and leguminous plants had germpersistence of living germs on meteorites inated also. Haberlandt found that of a during their passage through our atmo- number of seeds which had been exsphere, it is quite clear that the cosmical posed for four months to a temperature bodies, whatever they may have been, of oo to 10° the following species flourfrom which our meteorites were derived, ished : rye, hemp, vetch, pea, mustard, may very probably have borne on their camelina, two species of clover, and lusurface some forms of organized beings. cerne. The infuence of the withdrawal

One objection which appears to have of air from seeds on their power of gerbeen raised to Sir William Thomson's mination has also been studied by Habtheory was to the effect that germs could erlandt. He found that seeds after they not exist without air; another that the had been placed in vacuo germinated as low temperature to which they would be usual. A slight retardation was noticed exposed before entering our atmosphere in the case of the seeds of the oat, the would suffice to destroy life. Micheli, beetroot, and a bean, which appear to in his valuable Coup d'æil sur les princi- require the air contained in their tissues. pales publications de Physiologie végétale, In three experiments 58, 32, and 40 per refers to the researches of Uloth,* who cent of the seeds germinated.— Popular found that twenty-four species of plants Science Review.

ON THE COMPARATIVE STUPIDITY OF POLITICIANS. We owe an apology to a very respect- pressing itself even in a certain vulgarity able class of persons for the apparent, of manners, the lowest point being but we trust only apparent, and certainly reached in all these particulars by the involuntary, discourtesy of the thesis to Whig aristocracy of the day. which we invite attention. The late Mr. The Whig aristocracy, in virtue, perMill, in a well-known passage, called the haps, of the phenomena which Miss Conservatives the stupid party. We do Martineau noted, has almost ceased to not call them so, nor their opponents. play any active part in public affairs. All we venture to assert of both is, that in the struggle for political existence it in a universe of graduated intelligence has been pretty nearly crushed out. they are not highest in the scale. The Such titular chieftainship as used, let us great majority of even prominent politi- say, up to the time of Lord Althorp to cians have just the gifts which make a be accorded to its members is Macmaman conspicuous in a town council or a honian. Not ability and eloquence, but board of guardians; physical energy, the conspicuous lack of them, dictated moral persistency, and ideas on a level a choice rather of a figure-head than of with those of their fellows. Miss Marti- a leader. But no doubt there is such a neau in her very candid Autobiography thing as a force of stupidity which is has recorded her sense of the mental often more powerful in human affairs for and moral inferiority of the political men the moment than any other. When inwith whom, during her period of lion- tellectual dulness is united with moral ising in London, she was brought into rectitude, as it frequently is, the combicontact, as compared with the men of nation is pretty nearly irresistible. letters, and still more with the men of Either without the other is a power of science, whose acquaintance she made. the first magnitude. Both together are She observed in the politicians a much fate. lower type of mind and character, ex We do not suppose that there has

been any great change for the worse in * “Flora,” 1875, No. 17.

the talent of the great families, from the

time when the English government first themselves, they are just as little likely became their special business and almost to be very exacting in the articles of virtheir property. It would be ungener- tue and capacity. When these qualities ous and even unjust to think so. Their were wanted, some plebeian person, imaginary superiority in earlier genera- some Burke or Barré, was looked for to tions was probably due to the fact that supply such of them as he possessed; they themselves supplied their own stand- and, unfortunately for human nature, the ard of comparison. They were measured self-respect which declined to wait upon against each other. In a company of my Lord Rockingham or my Lord Sheldwarss a diminutive man seems a giant. burne was seldom found.

If oratory If from the political history of the last was wanted, the plebeians had it in readicentury and a half we withdraw the ness; but oratory as a rule was seldom names of Walpole, of the Pitts, of Fox, wanted. A nominated House of ComBurke, Canning, Brougham, Peel, Cob- mons, whose opinions were dictated by den, Bright, Gladstone, and Disraeli

, and their patrons, did not need to be pertwo or three more, we take away almost suaded. Hence probably, to some exall that gives it distinction. In spite of tent, the low standard of speaking which the Earldoms of Orford and Chatham, prevails in the House of Commons, and and the Barony of Holland, the Wal- in which (whatever the exceptional dipoles, the Pitts, and the Foxes no more vergencies) it falls below every other belonged to the aristocracy than Lord great Parliamentary assembly. It is Beaconsfield does, or than Richard Burke a bequest from the time when good would have done if the fates adverse to speaking was a superfluity for the purMarcellus had permitted him to be Lord poses of government, and when it was Beaconsfield. The Marquis of Rocking- regarded mainly as the accomplishment ham and the Duke of Portland are fair of political adventurers needful in a specimens of the aristocratic statesman- Burke, unnecessary in a Rockingham. ship of England. Lord Shelburne, Lord Hence there is a tradition of bad speakGrey, Lord Russell, Lord Palmerston, ing in the House of Commons. The and the late Lord Derby rose as much defects of elocution and delivery, and above that level as the old Duke of the absence of taste and style, which are Newcastle fell below it. The abilities noticeable in the speeches delivered of Addington, which were ludicrously from the benches of Ministers and exbelow par in a middle-class politician, Ministers in the two Houses of Parliawould have given him a very decent ment, amaze foreigners acquainted with place among the old families if he had the legislative assemblies of other counbelonged to them.

tries. They are a tradition of the age We refer to these things now, because when a great lord did not need to acthe rule of the great families has done quire either grace of speech or force of something to lower the standard of po- thought. It was sufficient for him to inlitical eminence and ability in England. dicate the line which he took, and his They flourished under a system of very party trouble themselves as little as he restricied competition, a competition so did about the reasons; or if from any restricted as to amount to little more cause they wanted them, some depend. than an arranged participation in the ant was at hand to supply the arguments great affairs of state. Of course, they which his patron, from indolence or inthemselves were prevented from develop- capacity, was unable to afford. A cyniing such capacities as they had by the cal politician, more remarkable himself absence of the proper stimulus to exer- for the keenness of his thought than the tion. It would be as reasonable to ex- graces of his oratory, is said to have depect commercial enterprise and skill un- clared that a certain speech listened to der trade monopolies as the highest po- with attention from the son of a duke litical capacity under a system of politi- would not have been tolerated from the cal privilege. When the buyer is obliged son of a marquis. The distinction, perto take such articles as the seller chooses haps, is too finely cut, but this rule of to give him, they are not likely to be of judgment comes down from our political the first quality, or the most reasonable history, and unfortunately is not yet price. If the rulers of a people nominate obsolete. What has been said of oratory

applies to administration. In the ab- inferiors, whose ideas and impulses are sence of anything like competition among to it what his daily beer was to Mr. Justhe ablest men, and of a career open to tice Maule, the instrumentality with talent, the proper stimulus to skill and which he brought himself down to the industry was wanting. Great peers and level of his work. He must think their wealthy country gentlemen, untrained to thoughts and speak their language. To business, aided by adventurers bent upon be over their heads, to be, as a dexterous serving themselves rather than the coun- politician said of a great philosopher, try, and using the ill-rewarded drudgery too clever for the House of Commons, of hopeless clerks, were poor instru- to have nobler and farther-reaching conments for the conduct of affairs. As ceptions than they, is to commit the sin their tenure of office was to a great ex for which there is no Parliamentary fortent independent of capacity, it developed giveness. It is sometimes said that the capacity to a correspondingly slight ex- House of Commons is wiser than any tent. A lofty ambition, an ardent na- single member; a saying which, accordture, a consciousness of powers seeking ing as it is interpreted, is either an aband delighting in their full discharge, surdity or a truism. It may mean, what have no doubt at all times furnished is indisputable, that the whole is greater orators and statesmen of the highest than the part, or, what is impossible, that rank to England. But the great names the average is higher than the elements and stirring

conflicts of Walpole and Pul- which raise it. The House of Commons teney, of Chatham, of Wyndham, of can only be wiser than some particular Burke, of Fox and Pitt, disguise from us member by following the guidance of the gulf of intellectual poverty beneath some other member who on that particu. this glittering and splendid surface. lar occasion is wiser than he; that is to

In the long prevalence of an aristo- say, it is wiser than one of its less wise cratic monopoly, diminished now, but members. The saying, however, is innot altogether done away with, and sub- tended to affirm the position that intel. sisting still in its effects even more pow- lectual superiority is not the truest guide erfully than in itself, one of the special in politics, or in other words that politicauses, as we have said, of the compara- cians, in so far as they are successful, tive stupidity of politicians in England are comparatively stupid, a position may be discerned. But the evil is inhe- which we are far from disputing. On rent in the very conditions of what are the contrary, we affirm it as a truth of called practical politics. The real de observation and experience, and are at velopment of mind is to be sought in the present moment doing our best to what Mr. Arnold calls its disinterested account for it. As regards the proposiplay in science and art. Discipline in tion itself, it means simply that the the methods of research after truth, House of Commons knows its own mind, familiarity with the highest conceptions such as it is, and, whatever the worth of of the universe, delight in the most perfect that knowledge, better than any single forms of expression, whether they take member of it; and as a rule the average the shape of literature or of the plastic member who is in sympathy with it will and imitative arts, these are the feeders interpret it better than the member of and purifiers of the mind. The artist, much higher powers who is above its including the author as well as the sculp- level. But it is only wiser than its wisest tor, the painter, and the actor, and the members in the sense in which the field man of science, live, so far as they are may be said to be wiser than the farmer, true to their work, in the society of or the ocean than the navigator; that is nature and of its great interpreters. They to say, in no intelligible sense at all. are constantly in the presence of their Like nature, if it is to be commanded it betters. The statesman lives habitually must be obeyed; and the necessity of in the society of county and borough understanding it is by confusion of members; or, if we restrict our view to thought taken for its understanding of the intimate associations of the Cabinet, itself. of men little if at all above these intel The inferior society in which politilectually. In other words, the finest cians live, inferior in intelligence and mind is habitually in the presence of its cultivation, and the necessity of adapting

« ПредишнаНапред »