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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 129.djvu/832

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824
OUR CAKES.

wonder how it has come about that we have nothing left to go on with. If we had husbanded our resources, they would have lasted; it was our excess which left us poor so soon, as many broken-hearted people find out when too late.

So with our health, our strength. If we eat it all up in youth by imprudence, by vicious courses, by foolish ignorance of the best laws of life, we have none to last us through maturity and old age. We eat it up in a few years, and have to go short for a time hereafter. We overtax ourselves by long walks, by heavy strains, by tremendous exertion of our powers somehow; and we are struck down by paralysis or some obscure form of spinal complaint. We live fast; and the grand vitality of youth which "pulled us through" at the time gives way before long, and we are wrecked forever on the shoals of dyspepsia or liver-disease. We have eaten our cake at a sitting, and we have none left for the future. We have spent all our health and strength in the morning, and the evening finds us as weak and failing, crippled and laid aside. It is all a question of degree, of moderation. We may use our youth and enjoy it to the utmost limit of good sense, without eating up our capital on insane pleasures, that carry poison with them and leave destruction behind them. We need not be cowards nor ascetics, yet we need not exceed; and to devour all our cake of health and strength in the few ears of early youth, leaving none for the future, is the act of a madman, and brings its own punishment with it. We must, if we are wise, make some kind of calculation in our life, and say what we shall spend now, and what we shall keep for the future. The rash say so much, which is all, and leaves them nothing; the cooler, and those able to forecast with judgment, say so much, which leaves them a sufficiency.




Some New Plants from the Nicobar and Andaman Islands. — Herr S. Kurtz has a very interesting paper on this subject in the Journal of Botany for November, 1875, from which, however, we only abstract some of the physical facts recorded. The most remarkable one is the nature of the clay. Herr Kurtz says that the interest which attaches to the Nicobar vegetation rests chiefly in the peculiar polycistine clay, which looks somewhat like meerschaum, and is also nearly as light and porous. This clay covers large areas on those islands which form the so-called northern group. It contains, according to Dr. Rink’s analysis —

Silica 72'2
Oxide of iron 8'3
Alumina 12'3
Magnesia 2'1
Water 5'6
—— 100'5

Here the total absence of alkalies is very remarkable. In places it becomes red from abundance of oxide of iron, and in this case it is usually literally filled with fossil seaweeds. A microscopical examination of the rock reveals abundance of silica, fragments of polycistines, and diatoms. One would say that on such substrata nothing but wretched scrub and harsh grasses could vegetate; but an examination of the greater part of Kamorta has taught me that luxuriant tropical forests, with an average height of about eighty feet, not only cover the seaside, but the same forests form belts of considerable breadth over the island itself, while the inner hill plateau is covered those peculiar park-like grasslands which Dr. Diedrichsen has called grass-heaths. The next rocks botanically influential are calcareous sea sand, raised coral banks, limestone and calcareous sandstones, which belong to the so-called southern group, in which, however, Katchall (an entirely calcareous island) is enumerated. Then Come the plutonic rocks and their detritus, which, however, were only little developed in those parts which I visited. All islands consisting of the above rocks are characterized by the absence of press-heaths, and are covered with forests from the bottom to the top. The four principal aspects of vegetation in these islands are -— 1, mangrove swamps; 2, beach forests; 3, tropical forests, which fall under three groups, those growing on polycistine clay, those on calcareous or coralline strata, and those growing on plutonic formations; 4, grass-heaths.



END OF VOLUME CXXIX.