Popular Science Monthly/Volume 35/June 1889/Popular Miscellany


John Goldie.—This industrious botanist was born near Maybole in Ayrshire, March 21, 1793; died at Ayr, Ontario, Canada, where he had long resided, in June, 1886, in his ninety-fourth year. Mr. Goldie was educated as a gardener; and most Scotch gardeners in those days were botanists. From the Glasgow Botanic Garden, then in charge of Sir William Hooker, he came to America for botanical exploration in the year 1817. The interesting particulars of this expedition are here given in an abstract from his "Description of some New and Rare Plants discovered in Canada in the Year 1819," published in the "Edinburgh Philosophical Journal," vol. vi, April, 1822. "Having had for many years a great desire to visit North America, chiefly with a view to examine and collect some of its vegetable productions, I contrived in 1817 to obtain as much money as would just pay my passage there, leaving when this was done but a very small surplus." He sailed from Leith to Halifax, went to Quebec, whence he dispatched his collections of living roots and dried plants in a vessel bound for Greenock, "but never heard of them afterward." At Montreal he found Pursh, who advised him to explore the northwest country, and promised to obtain for him permission to accompany the traders going to that region the following spring. "I traveled on foot to Albany, thence proceeded by water to New York. , , . I explored the eastern part of New Jersey, a country which, though barren and little inhabited, yet presents many rarities to the botanist, and gave me more gratification than any part of America that I have seen. At a place called Quaker's Bridge I gathered some most interesting plants, and, having accumulated as large a load as my back would carry, I took my journey to Philadelphia"—thence to New York, whence a ship was about to sail to Scotland, "and, having again committed my treasures to the deep, I had again, as the first time, the disappointment of never obtaining any intelligence whatever of them. My finances being now extremely low and winter having commenced, I hardly knew what to do; but, after some delay, went up to the Mohawk River, where I found employment that season as schoolmaster"—thence in the spring to Montreal, and, failing to make the connections necessary to reaching the northwest district, he "took to the spade" all summer long, except two days in the week which he devoted to botanizing. "In the autumn I shipped my collection of plants, and in two months had the mortification to learn that the vessel was totally wrecked in the St. Lawrence. During the next winter I did little, except employing myself with such skill as I was able in designing some flower-pieces, for which I got a trifle. Early the following spring I commenced labor again, and by the beginning of June had amassed about fifty dollars, which, with as much more borrowed from a friend, formed my stock of money for the next summer's tour. I started in the beginning of June from Montreal, and passing through Kingston went to New York [meaning the State, evidently], to which, after an excursion to Lake Simcoe, I returned; then visited the Falls of Niagara and Fort Erie, and crossed over to the United States, keeping along the eastern side of Lake Erie"; he crossed over to Pittsburg, back by way of Olean, Onondaga, and Sackett's Harbor to Montreal, and thence safely home to Scotland, "the plants I carried with myself being the whole that I saved out of the produce of nearly three years spent in botanical researches." Hard lines these and in those days for collecting botanists, which those who "stay at home at ease" do not appreciate. In the year 1824 he was commissioned to take charge of a cargo of living plants sent by the Edinburgh Botanic Garden to that of St. Petersburg. On his return he went into the nursery business in his native country. Then, with a laudable wish to better the prospects of his family, in 1844 he transported his home from the Scotch to the Canadian Ayr, in the province of Ontario, where he flourished and prospered for over thirty years of green old age, and died in the midst of numerous and prosperous children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Tornadoes.—Mr. J. P. Finley says that there are two principal conditions upon which the occurrence of tornadoes depends: one is a state of unstable equilibrium in the air, and the other a circulatory motion with reference to any center of disturbance. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in regions where warm moist air flows underneath a colder and drier stratum coming from another direction. Such regions are found in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Valleys, and in Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas. The summer season is the most favorable for tornadoes, when the interior of the continent is warmed up, and the air of the lower strata is drawn from lower latitudes far up into the northern portions of the country on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. If this unstable condition does not of itself induce a disturbance, one is readily brought about by the addition of any small effect from some other cause, as from extremely warm weather, in which the air strata close to the earth's surface become still hotter than those above them. Tornadoes very generally accompany an area of low barometer, and are to be looked for in the southeast quadrant only of the "low," at distances generally of from two hundred to five hundred miles from the center. But as the unstable state in a "low" very rarely extends down to the earth's surface, tornadoes are not necessarily visible in every general storm. The destructive violence of a tornado is sometimes confined to a path a few yards in width, or it may widen to the extreme limit of eighty rods. The tornado, with hardly an exception, occurs just after the hottest part of the day—most frequently between 3.30 and 5 p. m. The month of greatest frequency is May, April coming next. It is estimated that one hundred and forty-six tornadoes occur in the United States yearly. The vortex wind-velocities of the tornado-cloud vary from one hundred to five hundred miles an hour, from actual measurements. Velocities of from eight hundred to one thousand miles an hour are extremes that have been reported, but may not be altogether reliable. The cloud generated by the vortex assumes the form of a funnel, with the smaller end toward the earth. The characteristic effects of a tornado are objects drawn into the vortex from all sides, whirled upward and thrown outward by the circling air: structures are literally torn to pieces, as shown by the fineness of the débris; light objects are carried to great heights and also to great distances-? persons are stripped of clothing; fowls and birds are denuded of feathers and killed; trees are whipped to bare poles, uprooted or twisted off near the roots; heavy timbers are driven through the sides of buildings or deep into the solid earth; men and animals are terribly mangled by contact with flying débris, and by being swept over the surface of the ground; bowlders weighing tons are rolled along; railroad trains are thrown from the tracks; and iron bridges are carried from their foundations.

Economical Uses of Flowers.—The dried flowers of Hemerocallis graminea and the young flowers of the plantain pickled in vinegar are choice Chinese foods. Capers are the flower-buds of a Capparis or a Zygophyllum; and cloves are the unexpanded flower-buds of Caryophyllus aromaticus. The petals of safflower, Carthamus tinctorius, yield a beautiful dye of various shades of color between red and yellow. It is the carthamine of the pink saucers, and this, mixed with powdered mica or talc, forms a rouge for ladies' toilet-tables. The dried flowers of two species of Butea, locally known as dhak, tisso, toolse, and kassaree, are extensively used in India for the production of orange and red dyes. The orange-red flowers, which grow in clusters, are pressed when fresh, or boiled or steeped when dried, in a weak solution of lime in water. The flower-buds of Calasaccion, which resemble a clove, the blossoms of a larkspur of Khorassan, and the white flowers of Cedrela Toona, give yellow dyes. The Sophora Japonica, a well-known ornamental shrub of our gardens, is cultivated in China for the sake of the imperial yellow dye obtained from its bunches of flowers and undeveloped flowerbuds. Flowers of marigold are made into garlands in India for the idols and for the decoration of houses in festivals. The red flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis supply a red dye, and have been used to polish boots and shoes. A fleeting orange or buff dye is extracted in India from the corolla tubes of Nyctanthes, which are also strung in necklaces for women. The flowers of the teak and of the pomegranate are used in India for dyeing red. The dried stigmas of the crocus are a source of saffron. Cake saffron is made of the florets pressed together with mucilage. Insect-powder is the pulverized dried flowers of Pyrethrum, In medicine, the female flowers of hops are tonic and narcotic; the Provence rose is considered astringent; the flowers of the hollyhock are mucilaginous and demulcent; those of Grislea tomenfosa astringent and tonic; those of camomile tonic and anodyne. Infusion of linden-flowers is given as an antispasmodic. The flowers of the Abyssinian Brayera anthelmintica and the flower-heads of Artemisia act as vermifuges. Violets are considered purgative; but a conserve of the flowers with sugar has a grateful flavor for covering nauseous medicine. The flowers of the Indian Mohwa (Bassia latifolia) secrete much sugar, and are gathered by the natives during their season, in March and April. A single tree will yield many hundred-weights of corollas. They are eaten by the poorer classes in various parts of India. The ripe flowers have a sickly smell and a sweet taste, resembling manna, and are stored as a staple of food; when dried they have somewhat the odor and appearance of Sultana raisins; containing 631/2 per cent of sugar, they are as nourishing as grain, but people could not live on them alone for any length of time. They are distilled by the Parsees, and yield a powerful, coarse spirit. Cowslip-flowers are used in wine-making, and the flowers of meadowsweet to improve the flavor of certain wines. Some of the Chinese teas are often scented with flowers. The kinds of flowers and the processes are various, but the object of all is to make the tea more attractive.

Forestry in Spain.—Action was taken for the promotion of forestral science in Spain toward the close of the fifteenth century; and there is reason to believe that measures had been adopted to check the destruction of timber even previous to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The school of forestry, projected in 1835, went into operation ten years later, and was attached to the Escurial in 1868. It is under the direction of a head administrator and chief engineer, with nine professors and three assistants. The number of students, now ninety-two, is not limited, and is dependent on the number of successful candidates for entrance each year. On the completion of the course at the school, which lasts four years, the successful candidates are appointed to the corps of forest engineers. The course of instruction is divided into preparatory and professional categories. Candidates for admission must be qualified in Spanish and Latin grammar, geography, Spanish history, the elements of natural history, theoretical mechanics, geometry and its relations to projections and perspective, physics, chemistry, lineal, topographical, and landscape drawing, and French and German. Especial attention is given in the course to topography, chemistry, and mathematics. Branches bearing particularly on forestry are introduced in the second year, and are made more prominent in the succeeding years. The custody of the public forests is vested in the civic guard. The country is divided into forty-six forestral departments, the forests in each of which are under the care of a chief engineer.

Evening Continuation Schools.—In a paper read before the Society of Arts, London, Dr. William Lant Carpenter considered the best means of continuing the education of children who are taken from the day school as early as the law allows and set at work. He said that education to be given in the evening must be such as will attract, interest, and recreate tired children. It has to compete with the social gambolings of the street, or even with the gaudy, specious amusements which too often allure them. In the second place, it must touch and draw forth the opening nature of children of that age, so that their instinctive impulses and growing powers, both of body and mind, shall be rightly nourished and trained. Lastly, it must bear directly upon the practical work of their daily life, upon the pure enjoyments that are possible to them, and upon the noble duties that will devolve on them. In Nottingham a very successful attempt had been made to ingraft upon the instruction required by the Government, exercises of a more practical and recreative character, conducted by voluntary teachers, such as calisthenics, musical drills, drawing, modeling, demonstration in elementary science, geography with special reference to physical phenomena and to commerce, shopping and workshop arithmetic, needlework, historical and other readings illustrated by the lantern. Moreover, seven working men were appointed to be the managers of each school, and these men so labored that during the first year of their service the attendance was doubled. The "Recreative Evening Schools Association" was formed in London in 1886 with a similar purpose, and had accomplished valuable work, both within and outside of the metropolis. Dr. Carpenter said in regard to the use of the lantern that its value as an educational agent is only beginning to be recognized. Eyes wearied with long use during the day can not endure the fatigue of much book-work at night, but they are revived and charmed by the splendor of gay color and brilliance of light. He urged the teaching of science, not only as a preparation for technical education, but still more to put the young people into an intelligent relation with the phenomena of the world in which they live. In order to deal with the distress arising from unthrift, vice, self-indulgence, and reckless and improvident marriage in a great city like London, Dr. Carpenter said: "We must capture the boys and the girls who will be the fathers and mothers of five or ten years hence. If when captured their lives and habits are molded at the impressionable age, from fourteen to twenty-one, so as to become good citizens, and not reckless pleasure-hunters, unaccustomed to resist the impulse of passion or the suggestions of desire, we are, in point of fact, sterilizing the unfitness latent in them, and thus preventing the formation of a new national debt of vice and crime."