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That a particular mixture of earths is
connected with fertility, cannot be doubt-
ed : and almost all sterile soils are capable
of being improved by a modification of
their earthy constituent parts. I shall de-
scribe the simplest methods as yet discov-
ered of analyzing soils, and of ascertaining
the constitution and chemical ingredients
which appear to be connected with fertil-
ity, and on this subject many of the for-
mer difficulties of investigation will be
found to be removed by recent enqui-

The necessity of water to vegetation,
and the luxuriancy of the growth of
plants connected with the presence of
moisture in the southern countries of the
old continent, led to the opinion so prev-
alent in the early schools of philosophy,
that water was the great productive ele-
ment, the substance from which all things
were capable of being composed and in-
to which they finally resolved, " water is
the noblest," seems to have been an ex-
pression of this opinion, adopted by the
Greeks from the Egyptians taught by
Thales, and revived by the alchemists in
late times. Van Helmont in 1610, con-
ceived that he had proved by a decisive
experiment that all the products of veg-
etables were capable of being generated
from water. His results were shown to
be fallacious by Woodward in 1691, but
the true use of water in vegetation was
unknown till 1785, when Cavendish made
the grand discover}', that it was composed
of two elastic fluids or gasses, inflammable
gas or hydrogen, and vital gas or oxy-

Air, like water, was regarded as a pure



element by most of the ancient philoso-
phers: a few of the chemical enquirers in
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
formed some happy conjectures respecting
its real nature.

Sir Kenelm Digby in 1660, supposed
that it contained some saline matter, which
was an essential food of plants. Boyle,
Hooke, and Mayaw, between 1665 and
1680, stated that a small part of it only
was consumed in the respiration of ani-
mals, and in the combustion of inflammable
bodies; but the true statical analysis of the
atmosphere is comparatively a recent la-
bour, achieved towards the end of the
last century by Scheele, Priestly, and
Lavoisier. These celebrated men showed
that its principal elements are two gasses,
oxygen and azote, of which the first is
essential to flame, and lo the life of ani-
mals, and that it likewise contains small
quantities of aqueous vapour, and of car-
bonic acid gas; and Lavoisier proved
that this last body is itself a compound
elastic fluid, consisting of charcoal dissol-
ved in oxygen.

Jethro Tull, in his treatise on Horse-
hoeing, published in 1733, advanced the
opinion that minute earthy particles sup-
plied the whole nourishment of the veg-
etable world; that air and water were
chiefly useful in producing these particles
from the land; and that manures acted
in no other way than in ameliorating the
texture of the soil, in short that, their
agency was mechanical.

This ingenious author of the new sys-
tem of agriculture, having observed the
excellent efiects produced in farming by a
minute division of the soil, and the pul-
verization of it by exposure to dew and
air was misled by carrying his principle
too far. Duhamel, in a work printed in
1754, adopted the opinion of Tull, and
stated that by finely dividing the soil any
number of crops might be raised in suc-
cession from the same land. He attemp-
ted also to prove, by direct experiments,
that vegetables of every kind were capa-
ble of being raised without manure. This
celebrated horticulturist lived however
sufficiently long to alter his opinion. The
results of his later and most refined obser-
vations led him to the conclusion, that no
single material afforded the food of plants.
The general experience of farmers had

long before convinced the unprejudiced of
the truth of the same opinion, and that
manures were absolutely consumed in
the process of vegetation. The exhaus-
tion of soils by carrying off' corn crops'
from them, and the efiects of feeding cat-
tle on lands, and of preserving their man-
ure, offer familiar illustrations of the
principle; and those philosophical enquir-
ers, particularly Hassenfratz and Saussure,
have shown by satisfactory experiments,
that animal and vegetable matters deposi-
ted in soils are absorbed by plants, and
become a part of their organized matter.
But though neither water, nor air, nor
earth, supplies the whole of the food of
plants, yet they all operate in the process
of vegetation. The soil is the laboratory
in which the food is prepared. No man-
ure can be taken up by the roots of plants
unless water is present; and water or its
elements exist in all the products of veg-
etation. The germination of seeds does
not take place without the presence of air
or oxygen gas; and in the sunshine veg-
etables decompose the carbonic acid ga^
of the atmosphere, the caibon of which
is absorbed and becomes a part of their
organized matter, and the oxygen gas,
the other constituent, is given off; and in
consequence of a variety ot agencies, the
economy of vegetation is made subser-
vient to the general order of the sj^stem^
of nature.

It is shown by various researches that
the constitution of the atmosphere has
been always the same since the time that
it was first accurately analyzed; and this
must in a great measure depend upon the
powers of plants to absorb or decompose
the putrefying or decaying remains of an-
imals and vegetables, and the gaseous
effluvia which they are constantly emit-
ing. Carbonic acid gas is formed in a
variety of processes of fermentation and
combustion, and the respiration of ani-
mals, and as yet no other process is
known in nature by which it can be con-
sumed, except vegetation. Animals pro-
duce a substance which appears to be a
necessary food for vegetables; vegetables
evolve a principle necessary to the exis-
tence of animals; and these different clas-
ses of beings seem to be thus connected
together in the exercise of their living
functions, and to a certain extent made to



depend upon each other for their exis-
tence. \Vater is raised from the ocean,
diffused through the air, and poured
down upon the soil, so as to be applied
to the purposes of life. 'J'he different
parts of the atmosphere are mingled to-
gether by winds, or changes of tempera-
ture, and successively brought in contact
with the surfice of the earth, so as to ex-
ert their fertilizing influence. The mod-
ifications of the soil and the application
of manures are placed within the power
of man as if for the ))urposc of awakening
his industry and calling forth his powers.

The theory of the general operation of
the more compound manures may be rend-
ered very obvious by simple chemical
principles; but there is still much to be
discoveied with regard to the best methods
of rendering animal and vegetable sub-
stances soluble; with resjject to the pro-
cesses of decomposition, how tbey may
be accelerated, or retarded, and the means
of producing the greatest effect from the
materials employed; these subjects will
be attended to in the lecture on manures.

Plants are found by analysis to consist
principally of cbarcoal and aeriform mat-
ter. They give out by distillation vol-
atile compounds, the elements of which
are pure air, inflammable air, coally matter,
and azote, or elastic substance, which forms
a great part of the atmosphere, and which
is incapable of supporting combustion.
These elements they gain either by Iheir
leaves from the air, or by their roots from
the soil. All manure from organized sub-
stances, contain tbe principles of veget-
able matter which during putrefaction are
rendered either soluble in water or aeri-
form- and in these states they are capable

of being assimilated to the vegetable or -
gans. No one principle affords the pabu-.
lum of vegetable life, it is neither char- .
coal nor hydrogen, nor azote, nor oxy-
gen, alone; but all of. them together in
various states and various combinations.
Organic substances as soon as they are de-
prived of vitality, begin to pass through
a series of changes which end in their
complete destruction, in the entire sepa-
ration and dissipation of liie parts. Ani-
mal matters are the soonest destroyed by
the operation of air, heat, and light. Veg-
etable substances yield more slowly but
finally obey the same laws.

The periods of application of manures
from decomposing animal and vegetable
substances depend upon the knowledge of-
ihese prmciples, and I shall be able to.
produce some new and important facts
iounded upon them, which 1 trust will re-
move all doubt from this part of agricul-
tural theory.

The chemistry of the more simple
manures, the manures which act in very
small quantities, such as gypsum, alkalies,
and various saline substances, has hitherto
been exceedingly obscure. It has been
generally supposed, that these materials
act in the vegetable economy in the same
manner as condiments or stimulenls in the
animal economy, and that they render the
common food more nutritive. It seems
however a much more probable idea, that
they are actuall}' a part of the true food of
plants, and that they supply that kind of
matter to the vegetable fibre which is an-
alagous to the bony matter in animal

( To be continued.)

eOJ\^TE.^^'TS of J%'^o. S. J^oh 1, of OnSEUl^EU *%* ElECOMin,

Silk 'Worm and Silk Miinufacture, 17

Coloiirinp; MMlter and Piinciples of Dying, 19

Process of CdnverLiiij^ Heets inti> Sugar, 20

Process of converting; Starch into Sugar, 21

LnGrange's Mctliod, 22

On the Sugar from 1 fitato Starch, 23

Observations on the three preceding articles, 23

On the most salutary remedies for Diseases in Sheep, 24

On the Blight m Wheat, 25

Process to make Varnishes, 26

Description of a Vapour, Fumigation or Shower Batli, 28

An imi>roved Machine to enable Boot and Shoemakers to work without pressure upon the breast nr

stomach, 28

Improvement in Montgolfier's Hydraulic Ram, 29

Chinese Corn, . . 29

Tomato Pits, equal to fine English Gooseberries, .'. 29

Agricultural Chemistry, 30

Wo. 3.]



PSsiladclpliia, Monday, ©ecessiber 3, 1S38.

[Vol. I

The object of this paper is to concentrate and preserve, in a form suitable for future
reference, the most useful and interesting articles on the aforesaid subjects. Each num-
ber will contain sixteen octavo pages, printed on good paper, and when a suffi-
cient amount is published to form a volume of convenient size, an alphabetical table
of contents will be published and forwarded to subscribers, in order for binding.
This number, shows the general plan of the work.

Published monthly, for one dollar a year, payable in advance; six copies to the
same address for five dollars. Q^ Letters may be addressed to the Editor, in every
instance post paid, No. 31 Cherry street.

For Uie Observer and liecord of Agriculture, Science,
and Art.


The writer of this has not observed in
any of the scientific works, published, the
following theory, and as the present time
is emphatically named the " Day of ad-
vancement in Steam Power,'''' the atten-
tion of scientific and practical engineers
is most respectfully directed to the sub-
ject with a request that any position here
assumed which may be incorrect, may be
so proved, and given to the public through
the columns of the Observer 4' Record.

The writer has no object in view be-
yond that of every other citizen, who
feels most anxiously the importance of
cheap and rapid communications from one
section of country to another, steam when
directed in the best manner of which it
is capable seems to be the only agent yet
known fitted for this purpose.

1. Required an application of steam
power upon the wheels of a Locomotive
that will cause them to ascend upon an
inclined plane at the highest grade, or the
greatest angle from the horizon, without
sliding on the rails.

2. Required the difierence, (if any)
between the maximum inclination from
the horizon at which the wheels of a Lo-
comotive will ascend upon a plane when
the best application of power is communi-
cated to those wheels from the rectilinear
motion of pistons, and connecting rods of
steam engines, and the maximum inclina-
tion at which wheels may be retained at
any required position, upon a plane, when

they are prevented from turning by the
application of what is usually named a

^^nswer lo the first. — The wrist of
the crank, if attached to the same wheel
that runs upon the rail of the inclined
plane, or to the axle of the wheels
that run upon the rails should not re-
ceive any power, or force from the
engne, while it is describing any part
of a circle nearer to the rails of the
plane than the periphery of the axle
which receives the bearing of the load,
that is when lines are drawn parallel with
the inclined rails, so as to meet the peri-
phery of the axle at the greatest distance
from the rails, and where it turns in the
boxes, the power should be applied above
these lines, but not below them.

The wheels which run upon the rails,
then perform the function of levers of the
second order, the periphery of each
wheel while in contact with a rail is a ful-
crum, snd the power applied being farther
distant from the fulcrum than the body
moved, (the axle and load) consequently
forms a lever of the second order.

This effect may be produced by form-
ing the axle into a triple crank, each
placed at an angle of one hundred and
twenty degrees from the other respective-
ly, provided power can be applied from
the rectilinear alternating motion of the
pistons to the cranks, only while the
cranks are above a line parallel with the
inclined plane, and at as great a distance
from it as the most distant part of the
axle which supports the load (as aforesaid,)



Jlnswer to the Second. — If the power
from the steam engine be applied to the
wheel or axle, above the line aforesaid, in
the manner described, or by the aid of an
additional wheel placed above with a cog
wheel connected with the axle, so as to
work into another cog wheel connected
with the axle of the wheels that run up-
on the rails of the inclined plane, the
maximum inclination of a plane from the
horizon, on which wheels may ascend
when sufficient power is applied, and the
maximum inclination of a plane upon
which wheels may be retained by a brake
(which prevents them from turning) will
be the same,* provided the periphery of
each wheel is perfectly cylindrical, and
the rails a perfect plane, and both compo-
sed of non-elastic substances; because the
principle upon which the power is ap-
plied to the wheels to prevent them from
rolling down upon the plane in one case,
and causing them to roll upwards in the
other case is the same; the difference being
the manner of applying the power, and
the quantity, or degree of force applied.
The power required to cause the wheels
to roll upwards upon the plane will be
more than that required to keep them sta-
tionary, and the difference will be in pro-
portion to the elasticity of the substance
composing the wheels and inclined rails,
upon which they run, and, the irregular-
ity of the surface of each that comes in
contact with the other.

With ordinary iron wheels and rails, the
difference in practice would not, probably
be more than one per cent.

For tlie Observer and Record.

The use of cotton cloth next to the skin,
is highly recommended for the cure and
prevention of this complaint. The rea
sons given for the superiority of this over
wool or flax, is its superior absorbent
power, thereby preserving a more uniform
degree of moisture to the skin where the
perspiration is irregular. Another ques-
tion naturally arises, what is the best sub-
stance to surround this? wool, fur, silk,
flax and cotton, each has advocates, per-
haps each may be best in particular situa-
tions, for instance wool and fur, may be
best in dry cold weather, silk in damp

* Friction not estimated.

situations, flax where the atmosphere is
both dry and warm, and cotton where it
is a medium between extreme dryness,
moisture, heat and cold.

A proper degree of heat and electricity
in the human system appears to consti-
tute so large a portion of what is denomi-
nated health, that every fact (however
trivial it may appear) which shows how
to produce or preserve the just propor-
tions, is worthy of consideration.

A. D. V.

The above suggestions are certainly
upon a subject of great importance, to
which might be added something relative
to the color of clothing, for instance whe-
ther or not, the heat from the body pas-
ses outward to a lower temperature, tend-
ing to produce an equilibrium in the same
ratio, as the heat from the rays of the
sun passes inwards to a lower tempera-
inve.-Co7n7minlcations from experimen-
ters are requested.



By A. Hawkins, Esqr. Hort. Trans, vol. 2, part 1.

The writer states that Mr. Luscombe
of Combe Royal near Kingsbridge, had
discovered a method of raising Orange
and Lemon trees from cuttings, by which
he had raised eleven plants out of thir-
teen. The art is to place the cuttings in
the mould deep enough to touch the bot-
tom of the pot; they are then to be plung-
ed in a bark, or hot bed and kept. This
method has been scarcely known to fail
of success in Mr. Luscombes* practice.


To prevent the blight in Pear trees the
following method is recommended. When
the tree is about ten or twelve feet high,
cut off the centre or main branch, a foot
or two above the point where the lower
branches issue. Some persons attribute
the blight to an overcharge of electricity
in the main centre branch, and when that
is removed sufficiently low an increased
number of sprouts issue, each of which
conducts 9 portion of electricity to the
earth', through the body of the tree, in the
aggregate, more than the main branch
would have been capable of doing had it
been suffered to remain on the tree.




Persons engaged in cultiva-

1. SmL

ting Peach trees, recommend a soil where
sand predominates, and of a medium de-
gree of fertility.

2. To plant. Prepare the ground as
for corn, plant three or four stones (pre-
viously cracked hy iho frost) at suitable
distances asunder; the spaces between the
places occupied by the stones may be
planted with corn, so that the young trees
and the corn may be cultivated at the
same time.

3. To guard against the peach insect
or luorm, wrap a leaf of Tobacco in a
spiral manner round the young tree or
plant when it is only four or five inches
high, confine the ujjper end by a string to
the tree an inch or two above the ground,
heap up sand against the tobacco so as to
press it against the tree as low as the up-
per roots. Plant two or three stalks of
tobacco round each tree. Pursue the same
course each succeeding year, so long as
the trees remain healthy. If the process
here recommended should prove insuffi-
cient wash the body and principle bran-
ches of the trees with a decoction of to-
bacco, formed by boiling some tobacco in
water and applying some of the liquid to
the body from the roots upwards, includ-
ing the large branches, or the liquid may
be combined witli soft soap, ley of wood
ashes, or any substance which will destroy
insects and vermin, without injuring veg-
etables. If all of these fail, search the root
and the body, at and near the ground, and
remove with the point of a knife, or other
suitable instrument such worms as may
be discovered, the search should be made
about the last of July, and again late in
September; on the first of October remove
the earth, so as to form a basin round the
body of the tree, in this state they are
left, until the season of cultivation; the
following spring; the ice and water which
frequently fill the hole, or -basin during

) the winter, effectually kill the worm,
should it have escaped the search, and de-
scended into the roots for winter cover-
ing. Excessive bearing should be pre-
vented, by close pruning. Branches to
be removed may previously have roots
formed on them, by what is called the

"Chinese 7}iethod" see the article pg. 14»

^^nother ptan recommended \s to pour

boiling water, soap suds, or ley, on the

body and roots after the last search in

autumn, and in the spring to place un-

leached wood ashes upon the roots, and

against the tree, to several inches in

height, and over this sharp sand is placed,

which is sometimes confined to a uniform
height through the summer by a box with-
out toj) or bottom, which surrounds the

A decoction of aloes, or a coat of tar
might be applied to the body, in case all
the above methods fail.

4. For the Yellows. Bore a hole in
the body of the tree, fill it with mercurial
ointment, and plug or cork it up. Another ^
bore a hole in the north side of the tree,
fill it with spirits of turpentine and cork
it up. Another, wash the body of the
tree with strong brine, after the worms
are removed, repeat the operation fre-
quently through the spring and summer;
tie a small bag of salt round each tree.
This last method is recommended to guard
all trees from the attacks of insects.

Hogs should be allowed to run in a
peach orchard, to eat the imperfect fruit,
and search for depredators. Diseased trees
should be drawn up by a strong team, and
converted into fuel.

( To be continued.)


Frequent enquiries have been made for
information, as to the best manner of pre-
serving the Chinese Mulberry tree (Mo-
rns Multicaulis,) through the winter, a
few words therefore, upon the subject may
be of service to such readers of the Ob-

Online LibraryD. PeirceObserver and record of agriculture, Science and art (Volume v.1) → online text (page 7 of 35)