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From The Reader. filth, and prevent its destroying the life of DR. LANKESTER ON THE MICROSCOPE. higher animals ”-heaven-sent scavengers, Half-hours with the Microscope : being a Popu- making filth all but sublime !

lar Guide to the Use of the Microscope as a After accompanying us on our holiday at Means of Amusement and Instruction. By the sea-side-and what wonders there await Edwin Lankester, M. D. Illustrated from us !-in the last chapter our author shows us Nature by Tuffen West. Third Edition that we need only, after all, stay at home and (Hardwicke.)

look around us to equal the All who busy themselves with that ever

Wonder, and the feast instructive instrument—the microscope-will Of beauty out of West and East welcome this new edition of Dr. Lankester’s which the whole material universe pours out valuable little work; most welcome, how- at our feet. ever, will it be to the amateur who has only The eight plates which are dispersed lately begun to interest himself in the hidden throughout the book illustrate, in Tuffen beauties of nature. It is highly gratfying West's best manner, the appearances of two that no fewer than seven thousand copies of hundred and fifty objects under the microthis work have already been sold. Such a scope. An appendis gives full instructions fact argues well for the progress of micro- as to the mounting of objects, and to the manscopic investigations in this country, where, ner in which they are best prepared. at length, the instrument is beginning to be While thus we find Dr. Lankester, one of appreciated for its many practical applica- the editors of the Quarterly Journal of Mitions; as, indeed, it should be, even were the croscopical Science, forsaking for a time scienknowledge it revealed less valuable, or the tific description, and what is too often conbeautiful forms with which it makes us ac- sidered the “ high and dry” part of this quainted less beautiful.

subject, and writing this most charming popIn the present edition, in the first chapter, ular little book, our opticians are not unmindhas been introduced a full description of the ful of the requirements of those about to enstructure of the compound-microscope, and ter the great Temple of Nature by its smallest of Mr. Wenham's beautiful arrangement for door. The instruments constructed for the binocular vision, which is now so generally amateur are as remarkable for their convenappreciated, and of which it has been well ience as are the larger ones for the perfection said that the importance is especially appar- of all their parts. ent when applied to anatomical investiga We have lately in this journal called attions, their injections assuming their natural tention to the last victory achieved by our appearance at once, and no longer appearing microscope-makers in the shape of a one flat and picture-like as heretofore.

twenty-fifth object-glass admitting of ordiAt page 40, after we have been invited to nary manipulation, and giving a magnifying take our microscope into the garden, the cu- power of three or four thousand diameters rious T-shaped hairs of the crysanthemum are without any loss of definition. Nor will our noticed inter alia, while smokers are furnished opticians rest here; we believe that Mr. with an infalible test of the purity of their Wenham is not the only one who does not tobacco. Fungi, mosses, and ferns—those despair of constructing an object-glass having beautiful objects met with in the country, a focal length of one fiftieth of an inch. and so interesting -are amply discoursed While, then, our scientific microscopists, upon : and next come the treasures of the by the help of such magnificent means as ponds and rivers, dermids and diatoms. Af- these, look most closely into nature, and ter these are described the cenfervæ amạbas, teach us of organic and inorganic life-sponand vorticellæ, and wheel-animalcules

taneous generation, and structure of rocks which we are told we can study if “ we go to and meteoric stones among the rest — while every dirty pond, indeed, into which cesspools the palæographer by the microscope detects are emptied, and dead dogs and cats are fraud, and the medical man disease, let the thrown ; ” where “we shall find abundant young student and lover of nature, aided by employment for our microscope in the beauti- this book, make his first acquaintance with ful forms which are placed by the Creator in the beautiful things 80 admirably and usethose positions to clear away the dirt and fully discoursed upon.

From The Spectator, 4 July. ployed, and then the third generation will DECIMAL WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. wonder how they ever bore with the memory

Mr. Ewart's bill for enforcing the decimal taxing alternative. But violent dealing with system of weights and measures contains three the mass of the people will simply produce a separate principles—first, that the national prejudice which may be fatal to the reform. annotation shall be the decimal one ; sec- The two great principles of the bill remain, ondly, that the units adopted shall be those and the House, in voting the acceptance of now spreading over the Continent; and, both by one hundred and ten to seventy-five thirdly, that the new system sball, after three has, we believe, shown its wisdom. Nobody years, he compulsory upon all classes of peo- able to read these words needs, we imagine, ple. The third we need not discuss, as it to listen to argument in favor of the decimal was resisted by Government, and given up by system. It is not in itself the absolute best, the mover, and would never have been intro- ten being only a multiple of two and five, duced except by men whose logical faculty whereas twelve is divisible by two, three, had blinded their political judgment. Three four, and six, and would, therefore, could it years would not suffice to make middle-aged be introduced, be exactly twice as useful. men forget the system under which they were Mathematicians, however, do not cry for the brought up, and it is middle-aged men who moon more than other adults, and the Arabic control every branch of our petty commerce. notation being already the one in use over Compulsion will, no doubt, one day be essen- Europe, the decimal system is the only one tial in order to keep dealers honcst, but to worthy consideration. It is just as superior to introduce it before the new generation have all other practicable systems as the Gregorian been educated and the people have reconciled calendar would be to a medley of all the calthemselves to a most annoying change is to endars invented or used by mankind, or as a court certain failure. The law would be re- fixed price in a shop is to a haphazard haggle. sisted in every village shop by the buying Everybody knows how to count by tens, and many as well as the selling fow, and no ma- as everything can be most easily counted by chinery which Englishmen are likely to tol- tens, the introduction of other modes of crato would suffice to keep the penal clauses counting-and there are about twenty in in operation, or even in public remembrance. common use—is just so much time and caParliament might as well pass a law that pacity and labor wilfully thrown away. If every man shall know logarithms, as compel we say that the mass of English children magistrates to punish everybody who cannot throw away one year of education on learnat once understand a foreign-sounding, and ing systems of arithmetic which are utterly therefore detested system of weights and useless, and three years of life in applying measures. The French annotation is, say all them, we shall be far within the mark. The its advocates, simple, clear, and symmetrical, Rev. Alfred Barret, said Mr. Cobden, calcuand therefore, there can be no difficulty ; but lated that it would produce a saving of two plenty of ideas deserve all thosc cpithets, but years in education, and that the study would will, nevertheless, never be understood of the be much more agreeable and complete than mass. Nothing can be more simple, or clear, at present. “Dr. Farre also produced a or symmetrical than the deductions by the letter from Lord Brougham, stating that he spectrum analysis, but Mr. Cobden would had collected the testimony of schoolmasters find some difficulty in making the green- on the point, and had come to the conclusion grocers of Rochdale see them. Let him only that a third of the time might be saved.” remember the difficulty of driving a new idea Why sums in plain figures should be counted into the House of Commons, the years it in tens, and in money by fours, twelves, and takes to secure the smallest reform, the blank tens, and in grocery by sixteens, fourteens, dullness with which meinbers, most of whom and a hundred and twelves, and in cloth dealcould work rule of three, listened to the un- ing by twelves, fives, and threes, and in land answerable figures produced in defence of dealing by twelves, threes, forties, and fours, free trade. By and by, as the lads grow up and so through every description of traslicwho have learnt the new system in national not to mention new varieties introduced with schools, the old one will be voted cumbrous, every change of locale—is certainly one of and a gentle compulsion may fittingly be em- the anomalies which it might tax a consist

ently Tory intellect either to understand or in use with civilized nations, i.e., the French, defend. The advantage of the decimal scheme which again has the stamp of experience and is, with the educated, beyond the reach of the approval of most scientific men. Our argument, and the House of Commons in Asiatic and American customers deal with affirming it merely proved that it was com- France as well as ourselves, and would find posed of decently civilized men. But was it increased ease from the use of a single calcuwise in also affirming that in the new decimal lation. Mr. Henley's funny objection, that system the units for England should be the Englishmen ought not' to borrow a standard same as those adopted in France ?

from Frenchmen, cannot have been seriously On the whole, and with certain reserva- intended, even by a man who objected to the tions, we conceive it was. A local standard arc as a standard because the world was for money is of comparatively little impor- growing. As well consider it humiliating to tance ;

at all events till the world has adopted use the last French discovery in astronomy, a single standard instead of a double one, and or mathematics, or medicine, as a standard made up its mind on the most durable fine- which is only French, because they first deness for gold, and devised some method of cided that a measurement common to all making the assay of all mints unifornı, abol- geometricians could and should be so used. ished paper as legal tender, and settled two Only, we repeat once more, do not let us buror three other points not likely to be consid- den ourselves with a French terminology ered at present. There is no real harm in a which the people will either reject or so mislocal system, provided it be decimal, and in pronounce as to create new words. The England this reform could be carried at once words matter nothing if the measures are uniby merely dividing the pound. We have the form, for gramme can be as easily translated florin, and if we only struck a hole in the into “ grain” as oui into “ yes.” The prejcentre of the present silver threepence, we udice seems unphilosophical; but English should have a cent worth the tenth of the shopkeepers are not philosophers, and, as a florin, and very convenient to carry, and the matter of fact, our countrymen always make mite or tenth of that is, at an inappreciable a mess of half sounds, and will, therefore, loss to the mint, just the existing farthing. be specially prejudiced against the French The wretched existing currency might, we terminology. The greengrocer who would believe, in this manner be abolished in a very call a pound a pfund, without much grimacshort time without irritation to the popular ing, would inevitably call a livre either mind or disturbance to smaller trades, and “ liver or “ leev,” sounds requiring transwith the gain of at least six months to every lation as much as English words. The way ordinary life. A local system of weights and to overcome prejudice without injuring the measures is, however, a real disadvantage reform is to adapt existing measures to the even where decimalized. It is not only a French standard, by prefixing the word “ imdirect inconvenience to all merchants, and one perial” as is now done in liquids. Let us so great as to amount almost to a percentage have an imperial grain, ten grain, hundredagainst English bookkeepers, but it has an grain, etc., the latter looks cacophonous, but indirect effect in diminishing demand. Our is not a whit more so than hundred-weight best customers do not understand the quan- -and wait till the adoption of the new eystity or the price of things offered in English tem renders the prefix only a surplusage. weights and lengths, and the first temptation Then, and not till then, the use of the decito purchase is facility to calculate price. mal may be made compulsory by a very simThe difficulty will not, of course, stand in the ple device. We would at once kill all other way of high rates of profit, but competition systems, and render an inestimable service to is growing keen, and the Parisian who finds the poor by giving the mint a monopoly of Liège ware, the weight, size, and price of the manufacture of measures. Make it as which he can comprehend without counting, illegal to use any weight, or rod, or quart, offered nearly as cheap as the Birmingham without the mint stamp upon it, as it now is goods, which involve for every consignment to use any false measure, and as dangerous a wearisome sum, is pretty certain to choose to imitate it as to imitate the coin, and the the former. Of course, if we choose a new reform would be completed with the minimum standard, we may as well have the one most of innovation. England would then be com

pletely within the continental circle of trade, in consequence of physical forces adjusted to and merchants need only translate the names develop this form (that which, mechanically of their measures as they now translate the considered, possesses the greatest number of names of their goods.

advantages as the form of an individualized object surrounded by others which react upon it), all individualized objects in nature, from

the heavenly bodies to the most minute molo VEGETABLE MORPHOLOGY.

cule, tend towards it so far as the type of

hereditary form or the conditions of existence To the Editor of The Reader.

will allow ; although, as often as the form SIR,-In your

“ Scientific Summary" of surpasses microscopic dimension, it succeeds last Saturday week, which is commonly the only very partially in consequence of the exfirst thing I look at on opening my Reader, treme difficulty of the construction of this there is a notice of a paper on Morphology by form amid so many lmear currents and irregMr. Warner, published in the Proceedings of ularly incident forces. the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadel The living being starts from the solid sphere phia ; and it has occurred to me that you (ovum, seed, fruit, tuber, bud, etc.)—that might not be displeased to learn that in the is, from the form whose contents is a maxiEdinburgh New Philosophical Journal, Vol. mum compared with its exposed surface, and XII., No. 2 (October, 1860) there is a paper under which therefore a limited portion of on “ Vegetable Morphology, its General Prin- living matter can be most safely and happily ciples," where views are advanced which ap- conserved till the moment arrive when develpear to be similar to those of Mr. Warner, opment may take place. and the others whom you name in your very And that development consists in the prointeresting but too short notice. In the pa- trusion of the contents of the solid sphere or per referred to I have endeavored to show spherule, and the nisus of the living particles that the plant-form is a thing of which rea- through nutrition to group themselves in the son can give an account—that in fact it is form of the hollow sphere-that form in which determined by these two laws :

precious matter may be spread out to the I. The law of continuity (or diffusion be greatest extent without breach of continuity. tween dissimilars on their mutual confines) The construction of the hollow sphere is, operating in this case between the rare mo- however, easy only when it possesses microbile air and the dense fixed earth, and real- scopic dimensions ; and here, throughout the ized by the vegetable kingdom, which clothes whole organic world, the existence of the holour planet on the mutual confines of the air low sphere—the cell—is universal and paraand the earth, maintaining continuity be- mount. When the form becomes large, the tween thein as far as possible—the planet spherical superfices (or sphere in the proper consisting on the one hand (in its combusti- sense) appears only in fragments as frond ble parts) of air become dense (carbonic acid, (convex or concave), apothetium, etc., ammonia, vapor), and on the other (in its ultimately as a group of leaves, peltate as a ash constituents) of earth (lime, silica, pot- group, or normal to the branch that bears ass, etc.,) become as aeriform in position and them—the branch (or radius of the hollow distribution as the nature of these terrene sphere) being given by the law of diffusion. concrete substances admits.

The direction of the force of light from above, Hence we are able to account for the chem- and of gravitation from beneath, along with ical compositions of plants, and to see the ne- that unity of axis which is implied in the orcessity of a supply of ash constituents for the ganizaion of an individual that is to live, are growth of a crop no less than of organic ma- the chief modifying circumstances. Still, it nure, and to understand the ascending and is wonderful to what an extent the free indescending system of plants, their spreading dividual, from protococcus to the forest tree, and much divided-in a word, their mobile affects a spherical contour. and aerial-structure. II. The law of the spherical, or of perfect

JOHN G. MACVICAR, D.D. symmetry, in virtue of which I maintain that,

Manse, Moffatt, Dumfriesshire.


From The Examiner.

perch, is one of the most formidable creaWild Scenes in South America ; or, Life in tures that man or beast can have the misfor

the Llanos Venezuela. By Don Ramon tune to encounter. Their sharp, triangular Paez. Sampson Low and Son.

teeth, arranged in the same inapner as those This work, without any special design on of the shark, are so strong, that neither copthe part of the author, teems with valuable per, steel, nor twine can withstand them, and contributions to natural history; nor is its hence the angler stands no chance of sport value in the least impaired by the fact that where the caribe is found.

6. The sight of years have passed since the adventures which any red substance,” says Don Ramon, blood form their basis occurred. In the month of especially, seems to rouse their sanguinary December, 1846, Don Ramon Paez, the son appetite ; and as they usually go in swarms, of a large farm-owner in the wide plains that it is extremely dangerous for man or beast tó border the river Apure, set out with a nu- enter the water with even a scratch upon merous company from the town of Maracay, their bodies. Horses wounded with the spur on Lake Maracaybo, to hunt among the un- are particularly exposed to their attacks, and tamed herds which constitute the wealth and so rapid is the work of destruction, that uncommerce of that wild region. The “ Llanos " less immediate assistance is rendered, the fish of Venezuela correspond in feature with the soon penetrate the abdomen of the animal, Pampas of Buenos Ayres, which we have been and speedily reduce it to a skeleton.” This visiting under the guidance of Mr. Hinch- cannibal fish is as beautiful in aspect as it is cliff, but animal life appears to offer there fierce in nature. Large spots of a brilliant more dangerous varieties than are met with orange hue cover a great portion of its body, in latitudes remoter from the equator; the especially the belly, fins, and tail. Toward rivers and lagoons abounding in crocodiles of the back, it is of a bluish ash color, with a the largest size, besides other nexious crea

slight tint of vlive green, the intermediate tures, and the woods and swamps affording spaces being of a pearly white, while the gill harbor to the fierce jaguar, and the deadly

covers are tinged with red.” A fish of a difboa constrictor. Of its kind the scenery of ferent kind, in the same waters, is the cherna, the Llanos is strikingly beautiful.

which attains a large size, weighing as much feet,” says the author, when they reached the as a hundred pounds, and tasting like veal. borders of the district for which they were


presents one remarkable peculiarity: the bound, - lay a beautiful expanse of meadow, mouth is set with a row of teeth bearing a fresh and smooth as the best cultivated lawn, strong resern blance to those of the human with troops of horses and countless herds of race. The gymnotus is another denizen of cattle dispersed all over the plain. Several this river, and its electrical powers were exglittering ponds, alive with all varieties of emplified on one occasion on the body of a aquatic birds, reflected upon the limpid sur

mutilated cayman which, left for dead on the face the broad-leaved crowns of the fan-palms, shore, suddenly snapped its ponderous jaws towering above verdant groves of laurel, amy

as the huge eel was dragged over it. It is ris, and elm-like robles. Further beyond, and well, however, that besides man, the common as far as the eye could reach, the undulating enemy of all inferior animals, nature lends plain appeared like a petrified ocean, after her aid in keeping down the superabundance the sweeping tempest.”

The Llaneros who of the more noxious kinds, an epidemic, supinhabit this region very closely resemble the posed to have its origin in the decomposition Gauchos of the south, their habits of life being of the vegetable detritus accum..lated at the almost identical. We need not, therefore, head waters of the Apure, affecting the inbe detained by a description of this nomadic habitants of the river as well as those on race, from other details which constitute the their banks. Its ravages are thus described :: most attractive characteristics of this enter “ The first symptoms of the epidemic aptaining volume.

peared among the crocodiles, whose hideous The Guárico, a tributary of the Apure, is carcasses might then be seen floating down a beautiful river, well stocked with the finest both the waters and air of that fine region

the stream in such prodigious numbers, that. kinds of fish, but infested also by a very de- were tainted with their effluvium. It was structive sort, the ferocious, blood-thirsty observed that they were first seized with a caribe, which, though not larger than a violent fit of coughing, followed by a black

66 At our

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