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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/695

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A FEW WORDS ABOUT EATABLES.

where, except among the pulse family. The experiments conducted by the Agricultural Society in their College Garden at Cirencester have also shown that careful selection will produce large and rich seeds from Ægilops ovata, considerably resembling true wheat, after only a few years' cultivation.

Primitive man, of course, did not proceed nearly so fast as that. Of the very earliest attempts at cultivation of Ægilops, all traces are now lost, but we can gather that its tillage must have continued in some unknown Western Asiatic region for some time before the neolithic period; for in that period we find a rude early form of wheat already considerably developed among the scanty relics of the Swiss lake-dwellings. The other cultivated plants by which it is there accompanied and the nature of the garden-weeds which had followed in its wake point back to Central or Western Asia as the land in which its tillage had first begun. From that region the Swiss lake-dwellers brought it with them to their new home among the Alpine valleys. It differed much already from the wild Ægilops in size and stature; but at the same time it was far from having attained the stately dimensions of our modern corn. The ears found in the lake-dwellings are shorter and narrower than our own; the spikelets stand out more horizontally, and the grains are hardly more than half the size of their modern descendants. The same thing is true in analogous ways with all the cultivated fruits or seeds of the stone age; they are invariably much smaller and poorer than their representatives in existing fields or gardens. From that time to this the process of selection and amelioration has been constant and unbroken, until in our own day the descendants of these little degraded lilies, readapted to new functions under a fresh régime, have come to cover almost all the cultivable plains in all civilized countries, and supply by far the largest part of man's food in Europe, Asia, America, and Australia.—Macmillan's Magazine.

 

A FEW WORDS ABOUT EATABLES.
By C. B. RADCLIFFE, M. D.

CLERICUS. I have had a good breakfast.

Medicus. So have I.

C. I should not say so. I have emptied the toast-rack, and helped myself to three or four slices of cold roast-beef; you have had some galantine[1] with brown bread and butter, and not much of them. But I suppose it is all right. I am going in for a hard day's boating; you

  1. Something like head-cheese, but made of white meat.