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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/687

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ALCHEMY REDIVIVUS.

but the forests yield regular and, for Europe, high interest. We must soon acquire, by purchase or otherwise, such control of our still forested areas as will insure their preservation and intelligent use, else the boastful prophecy which I have heard more than once in Germany will come true, that Germany will be exporting wood to America within fifty years! The Forestry Division of the United States Department of Agriculture, and the small forestry associations scattered here and there in the cities, precisely where there can be no forests, are doing all they can to arouse public interest in the matter, and to prevent further reckless deforestizing. But to leave the trees unfelled is not all; to replant where replanting is still possible, to fell the trees that are now of useful size, to thin out that others may attain better proportions, to protect against fires, these are equally important. To do all this well demands intelligence, knowledge, and training. The training of the skilled forester must be largely botanical; for though he must know enough about zoölogy to be able to distinguish and to combat insect and other animal pests, yet he must know the principles of vegetable physiology and pathology. For these he must study under some thoroughly trained botanist. I have attempted to sketch, I fear in very impressionistic fashion, the scope of a science whose value to man is great and personal, which is many-sided, and which is worthy of the devotion and activity of those to whom it is an absorbing interest.

 

ALCHEMY REDIVIVUS.
By ALEXANDER E. OUTERBRIDGE, Jr.

BASIL-VALENTINE, a famous alchemist of the middle ages, was the most noted exponent of the belief in the transmutation of metals. He thought that the germ of the precious metal gold was hidden in the base metal antimony, and claimed that by following certain mystic formulas the gold could be recovered. About the year 1445 he published in the Latin tongue a celebrated treatise entitled The Triumphal Car of Antimony, which had a great reputation, not only among his contemporaries but among his successors. The treatise was couched in cabalistic phraseology—a sort of abracadabra—which, of course, the vulgar people could not comprehend; it was designed only for his disciples. The book purports to contain the "twelve keys of the great stone of the ancient philosophers."

His formula for converting antimony into gold is interesting at the present time, in view of the fact that a modern alchemist has actually succeeded in inducing the Secretary of the Treasury