Copyright
D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

. (page 12 of 110)
Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 12 of 110)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


basilica of that name. Xor can I pause here to dwell upon the mar-
vels of this noble temple, or to tell of its glorious aisles and column-
supported galleries ; of its lake-like marble floor, or of the wealth of
malachite, of lapis lazuli, of verde antique, of alabaster, and of gold,
that has been lavished upon the decoration of its shrine. I must
stop, however, to note that nowhere has the presence of the dread
malaria made itself so obvious to myself. We had scarcely entered
the church, when we became conscious of an odor which recalled at
once the retort-house of a gas-works, the bilge-water on board ship,
and the atmosphere of a dissecting-room ; and we were obliged to
make a hasty retreat. There could be little doubt that the gaseous
emanations which produced this intolerable odor were equally present
in the Campagna outside, but that in the church they were pent up
and concentrated.

Even did space admit, this is not the place to enter into any pro-
longed dissertation on the history or causes of this terrible scourge of
the Roman Campagna, the fever-producing malaria. The name ex-
presses the unquestionable truth, that it is a gaseous emanation from
the soil ; and all that is certainly known about it may be summed up
in a very few lines. The vast undulating plain known as the Cam-
pagna was ages ago overflowed by the sea, and owes it present aspect
to volcanic agency. Of this the whole soil affords ample evidence.



THE EUCALYPTUS IN THE ROMAN CAMPAGNA. 97

Xot only are lava, peperino, and the volcanic puzzuolana abundant,
l)ut in many places — as at Bracciano and Baccano — are to be seen the
remains of ancient craters. When the Campagna was in the earliest
phase of its history, it was one fertile garden, interspersed with thriv-
ing towns and villages. It was also the theatre of events which ter-
minated in making Rome the mistress of the world. This very su-
2)remacy was the final cause of its ruin and of its present desolation.
While the land remained in the possession of small holders every acre
was assiduously tilled and drained ; but when it passed into the hands
of large landed proprietors, who held it from the mere lust of posses-
sion, it became uncared for and uncultivated.

Filtering into a soil loaded with easily decomposed sulphur com-
pounds, the decomposing vegetable matter finds no exit through the
underlying rock. The consequences may be imagined, but, to those
who have not experienced them, are not easily described. This once
fertile land is now a horrid waste, untouched, except at rare intervals,
by the hand of the farmer, and untenanted save by the herdsman.
Even he, during the months of summer, when the malaria is at its
worst, is compelled, if he will avoid the fever, to go with his flocks to
the mountains. It may be mentioned, in passing, that the malaria-
fever, or " Roman fever " as it has been called, has been the subject
of recent investigation by Professor Tommassi-Crudelli, of Rome,
Mho attributes it to the presence of an organism, to whicb the specific
name of Bacillus malar ice has been given.

Leaving St. Paul's, we pursued for a short time the Ostian road ;
nnd at a poor osteria, where chestnuts, coarse bread, and wine, were
the only obtainable refreshments, our route turned to the left, along a
road powdered with the reddish dust of the pozzuolana — the mineral
which forms the basis of the original " Roman cement " — large masses
of which rock form the roadside fences. After a drive of perhaps
half an hour, we found ourselves at the Monastery of Tre Fontane
(three fountains). The Abbey of the Tre Fontane comprises within
its precincts three churches, of which the earliest dates from the ninth
•entury. One of these, San Paolo alU Tre Fontane, gives its name to
ilie monastery. A monk, wearing the brown robe and sandals of the
Trappist order, met us at the gate. The contrast now presented be-
tween the sterile semi-volcanic country around and the smiling oasis
which faces us, is striking. Here are fields which have borne good
grass ; some sloping hills covered with vines ; and, directly in the
foreground, almost a forest of eucalypt-trees.

We have come to learn about eucalypts ; and our guide takes
quite kindly to the role of informant. What follows is derived
from his I'/ya voce teaching, from my own observation on the «pot,
and from a very interesting pamphlet, printed at Rome in 1879,
and entitled " Culture de I'Eucalyptus aux Trois Fontanes," 1>y >[.
Auguste Vallee.



98 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Before the year 1868, the abbey was entirely deserted. It is true
that a haggard-looking monk was to be found there, who acted as
cicerone to visitors to the churches ; but even he was obliged to sleep
each night in Rome. The place attained so evil a reputation that it
was locally known as " The Tomb." There are now twenty-nine
Brothers attached to the monastery, all of whom sleep there each
night. This remarkable result, though no doubt to a great extent due
to the drainage and alteration of the character of the soil by cultiva-
tion, is unquestionably mainly owing to the planting of the eucalyptus.
It would take long to tell of the heroic perseverance of these monks ;
of the frequent discouragements, of the labor interrupted by sickness,
of the gaps made in their number by the fatal malaria, and the un-
daunted courage in overcoming obstacles which has culminated in the
result now achieved. Let us pass to the consideration of the actual
means by which so happy a change in their immediate surroundings
has been brought about. At Tre Fontane are cultivated at least
eleven varieties of eucalyptus. Some of these, as E. viminalis and
E. botryoides, flourish best where the ground is naturally humid ; E.
resinifera and E. raeliodora love best a drier soil. The variety Globu-
lus (blue gum-tree) possesses a happy adaptability to nearly any pos-
sible condition of growth. At the monastery, as in most elevated
parts of the Campagna, the soil is of volcanic origin, and there is not
much even of that ; often only eight, and rarely more than sixteen
inches overlying the compact tufa. But, with the aid of very simple
machinery, the Trappists bore into the subsoil, blast it with dynamite,
and find, in the admixture of its debris with the arable earth, the mostr
suitable soil for the reception of the young plants.

The seeds are sown in autumn, in a mixture of ordinary garden-
earth, the soil of the country, and a little thoroughly decomposed ma-
nure. This is done in wooden boxes, which, Avith the object of keeping
the seeds damp, are lightly covered until germination has taken place.
When the young plants have attained to about two inches, they are
transferred to very small flower-pots, where they remain until the time
arrives for their final transplantation. The best time for this operation
is in spring, because the seedlings have then quite eight months in
which to gather strength against the winter cold. One precaution
taken in planting is worth notice. Each plant is placed in a hole of
like depth and diameter. In this way, no individual rootlet is more
favored than its fellow, and, as each absorbs its soil-nutriment equally,
the regularity of growth and of the final form of the tree is assured.
A space of three feet is left between each seedling ; but so rapid is the
growth, that in the following year it is found necessary to uproot
nearly one half of the plants, which finally find themselves at a dis-
tance from each other of about five feet. From this time, much care
is required in weeding and particularly in sheltering from the wind,
for the stem of the eucalyptus is particularly fragile, and violent storms



THE EUCALYPTUS IN THE ROMAN CAMPAGNA. 99

sometimes rage in the Campagna. The other great enemy of the tree
is cold, and this offers an almost insurmountable obstacle to its success-
ful culture in Great Britain, It seems to be well proved that most of
the species will survive a winter in which the temperature does not fall
lower than 23'' Fahr. How fortunately circumstanced is the culture
of the tree at Rome, may be learned from the fact that the mean low-
est temperature registered at the observatory of the Roman College
during the years 1863-'74 was 23*48°. Once only in those years a cold
of 20° was registered, and even that does not seem to have injured the
plants ; but when, in 1875, the minimum temperature fell to 1G°, the
result was the loss in a single night of nearly half the plantation of the
year.

But when, as at Tre Fontane, the conditions of growth ai-e on the
whole favorable, the rapidity of that growth approaches the marvel-
ous. The mean height, for example, of three trees chosen for measure-
ment by M. Vallee in 1879, was twenty-six feet, and the mean circum-
ference twenty-eight inches. These trees had been planted in 1875, or
in other words were little more than four years old. Other trees of
eight years' growth were fifty feet high and nearly three feet in cir-
cumference at their largest part. These figures refer to Eucahjptits
globulus, which certainly grows faster than the other species ; and it
must be remembered that in warmer climates the growth is even still
more rapid. I have seen, for example, trees of Eucalyptus resinifera
at Blidah in Algeria which at only five years old were already quite
sixty feet high.

The question of how and why the eucalypts exercise sanitary
changes so important as those which have been effected at this little
oasis in the Campagna, may be best answered when two remarkable
properties which characterize many of the species have been shortly
considered. The first of these is the enormous quantity of water
which the plant can absorb from the soil. It has been demonstrated
that a square metre — which may roughly be taken as equal to a square
yard — of the leaves of Eucalyptus globulus will exhale into the atmos-
phere, during twelve hours, four pints of water. Now, as this square
metre of leaves — of course, the calculation includes both surfaces —
weighs two and three quarter pounds, it will be easily seen that any
given weight of eucalyptus-leaves can transfer from the soil to the at-
mosphere nearly twice that weight of water. 31. Vallee does not hesi-
tate to say that under the full breeze and sunshine — which could
necessarily form no factor in such accurate experiments as those con-
ducted by him — the evaporation of water would be equal to four or five
times the weight of the leaves. One ceases to wonder at these figures,
on learning that it has been found possible to count, on a square milli-
metre of the under surface of a single leaf of Eucalyptus globulus, no
less than three hundred and fifty stomata or breathing-pores. And it
now begins to be intelligible that, if such an enormous quantity of



loo THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

water cnn be transferred from eartli to air, it may be possible that an
atmosjihere, which without such aid would be laden with malarious
exhalations, may be rendered pure by this process of leaf distillation :
the putrescible constituents of the stagnant water are absorbed by the
roots, and become part of the vegetable tissue of the tree.

But this is not all. Like those of the pine, the leaves of all species
of eucalyptus secrete large quantities of an aromatic essential oil. It
has recently been shown — and the statement has been very impressively
put by Mr. Kingzett — that, under the combined action of air and
moisture, oils of the turpentine class are rapidly oxidized, and that, as
a result of this oxidation, large quantities of peroxide of hydrogen are
produced. Now, peroxide of hydrogen is — being itself one of the
most potent oxidizers known — a very active disinfectant ; and, as the
leaves of some species of eucalyptus contain in each hundred pounds
from three to six pounds of essential oil, we can hardly avoid the con-
clusion that the oxygen-carrying property of the oil is an important
element in the malaria-destroying power of the genus. Moreover, the
oxidation of the oil is attended by the formation of large quantities
of substances analogous in their properties to camphor, and the reputa-
tion of camphor as an hygienic agent seems sufficiently well founded to
allow us to admit at least the possibility of these bodies playing some
jsart in so beneficent a scheme.

Before closing this paper, it may be well to note that the Trappist
monks of the Tre Fontane attach much importance to the regular use
of an infusion of eucalyptus-leaves as a daily beverage. The tincture
of eucalyptus is said to be useful in intermittent fevers, though of
course inferior to quinine. As we threaded the coast-line via Civita
Vecchia to Leghorn, we could not help being struck by the fact that
the precincts of all the railway-stations were thickly planted with eu-
calypts. Since our return, I learn with much gratification that the
Italian Government have given a grant of land to the Trappists, and
have also afforded them the aid of convict-labor to a considerable ex-
tent for the establishment of a new plantation. And looking back
not only at what has been actually accomplished during the past
ten years, but to the important fund of information which has
been accumulated, one can only look forward hopefully and with en-
couragement to the future of the eucalyptus in the Roman Cam-
pagna. — Chambers's Journal.



INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.



INFLUENCE OF THE POST AND TELEGEAPII ON
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

By C. M. DUXBAE.

IT is a beautiful theory that man was made for society ; but it is
an eminently better one that society was made for man. Man
was necessarily in existence before society. He contains within him-
self all the virtues that are an ornament to society, all the elements
that strengthen government. And government, and even society
itself, however consequential they may appear to the view of the
haughty and superficial observ^er, are, notwithstanding, only means to
an end. That end is the betterment of the material, moral, and intel-
lectual conditions of the individuals composing that society and state ;
to confer upon them, as far as possible, the greatest amount of happi-
ness. For this society was formed, and for this it is maintained. To
protect the individual in his pursuit of happiness, governments were
instituted, and when they no longer subserve that chief end they be-
come obsolete.

The primitive and fundamental type of governmental organization
and authority is the family. Therein the natural affections cement
the compact between the different members of the household. Natuje
also compels the observance of the different duties due from each mem-
ber. The duties are mutual. The natural obligation of the head of
the family is to provide for the maintenance of those whom he has
been instrumental in bringing into the world. And they, on their
part, are bound to yield to him the respect naturally due him, and
obedience in all matters in which his years of experience render him
more fit to judge. This might be said to be the condition of a fam-
ily in a state of nature. Such is the primitive form of government —
one established by nature itself. Individuals unite into families, fami-
lies into clans, clans into villages, villages into provinces, and these
into states. All formations subsequent to that of the family are ar-
tificial ; but the duties of the members of these corporations to each
other and to their rulers or public servants, and the latter to the
individual members, are analogous to those of members of a family.
It is not the writer's intention to enter here into an extensive view or
review of the theory of the social compact, or into a discussion of its
fallacy or plausibility ; suffice it to say that it illustrates the principle
that the people are the source of governmental authority — a principle
that, at least, is recognized by all well-informed Americans.

The different forms of political institutions in existence are due to
the different phases of nature with which different peoples have been
surrounded. Even the various forms of religious worship, in most
cases, owe their origin to some cause produced by nature, whether of



102 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

climate, soil, or atmosphere peculiar to the locality of the people pro-
fessing and practicing those forms of religion. Consequently, the
diversity of customs and habits of different peoples should give rise to
rights and duties differing in nature and degree between the diverse
political divisions. Now, what is the duty of a people in such cases
in their relations with each other ? It is the duty of a good father
to love and protect the members of his family before other persons ;
his care and solicitude should begin with his own. Yet he owes a
duty to his kind— that is, to help others when required, if he can do
so without injury to himself or those depending on him. We may
say that men in a state of nature would be compelled by force of cir-
cumstances to the observance of these rules. How is it with regard
to states ? Their first duty is to look to the welfare of their own
citizens ; yet they should remember that individuals of whatever
nationality have natural and inherent rights that should be every-
where recognized, since the exercise of these rights is necessary to
existence. It is true that an individual, passing from one state into
another, can not cai-ry with him rights not possessed by the citizens of
the state he enters, especially if their exercise would interfere with
the political or civil rights of the natives. Thus it is that rights
will always vary from one people to another. Sometimes the laws
and rights vary in the state itself ; there frequently arises a diversity
of laws and customs between the different provinces of the same
country : as in ancient France, which was formed out of a number
of feudal sovereignties, each having its particular law, and givihg
rise to frequent conflicts between different customs. A like cause
produced a like effect in the German Empire : the law varied from
one city to another, and even from one street to another in the same
city. Another difliculty arises. How are we to determine between
these conflicting laws ? The law of nations is the same, theoretically
at least, for all humanity. Private international law, which is a
branch of the law of nations, has also a tendency to unity — not that
it has for an ideal the uniformity of the law of all portions of the
human race ; such would be too dreamy an idea. But the rules which
serve to solve these conflicts can and should be the same the world
over, notwithstanding the diversity of legislation. It is this unity
that private international law has sought, and now seeks to establish.
How can it be realized ? It can not be formed, like the civil law
of each people, by legislation, or command of a superior authority,
since independent sovereign nations recognize no authority superior
to themselves. Each legislature can not make laws that will be
operative beyond the limits of the territory over which it has legisla-
tive power. Here, again, we see the analogy between private interna-
tional law and the law of nations. Nations, like individuals, have their
personality ; between individuals, the juridical disputes arise either
upon a contract, or on account of a wrong committed ; it is the same



INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS. 103

with nations : they can not be bound but by their own consent ; hence
the treaties whicji form the basis of the positive law of nations. It is
also by concurrence of wills that nations obligate themselves to ob-
serve certain rules looking to the conflicts likely to arise in the appli-
cation of the particular laws of the different states. Agreements are
not necessarily expressed ; a tacit consent suffices to form an agree-
ment. It is the same in international conventions : the greater part
of those which form the basis of the law of nations are tacit agree-
ments ; the law of nations is principally a customary law, which is
founded on the tacit consent of the peoples. That which is true of
the law of nations is also true of the private international law : cer-
tain rules common to all nations can not be formed but by a concur-
rence of consent, express or implied. On this particular point the
treaties are very few ; and these are particular agreements between
the two states, having no relation but to the interests of the con-
tracting parties. There remain only the customs which are estab-
lished by implied general consent. This is almost the sole source of
the private international law. There is, however, a vast difference
between the international customs and the customs which form one
of the sources of the civil law of each state. The latter have the force
of law, until abrogated by some particular statutory enactment ; they
are the implied expression of the sovereign will of the nation — they
might be called tacit laws. Not so with the international customary
right. Since it is a question of sovereignties, they can not, correctly
speaking, be called laws ; hence the nations could not be bound to
recognize a legislative authority higher than their own. The interna-
tional customs do not hold the place of laws — they hold the place of
agreements ; they are implied treaties. How are these implied trea-
ties formed ? This is a capital question, and as difficult as it is impor-
tant. Ordinarily international customs are considered as being of
the same nature as national customs. This is not the case : the for-
mer are tacit treaties, while the latter are tacit laws, and there is a
great difference between treaties and laws ; the treaties are formed
by a concourse of wills, and the laws are promulgated by way of
commandment ; the treaties differ in their essence from laws ; the
conditions, therefore, under which tacit treaties can be formed should
also differ from the conditions under which implied laws are formed.
The intimate lien which exists between the private international law
and the law of nations brings up a redoubtable problem. Is there a
law of nations ? Those who deny it have strong reasons for doubting.
Can there be a law without a legislature ; without a tribunal to apply
the law, and without any authority to execute the sentence of the
court ? And, in this matter of the law of nations, where are the leg-
islative, executive, and judicial powers ? It may be said that right is
necessarily anterior to the law, that it results from the nature of man
and civil societies : if the relations between individuals are necessarily



104 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

regulated by right, it must or should be the same with international
relations. It is ever the case that the law of nations has not the cer-
tainty or authority of the civil or public law, which is almost every-
where codified, while the law of nations can not be, inasmuch as
huumanity is not organized. The arguments which may be advanced
against the existence of the law of nations are, in a measure, appli-
cable to the private international law. If the latter is a branch of the
former, it may be said that what is true of the one is true of the
other. There is only this difference, that the law of nations regulates
public interests, while the private international law is virtually identi-
cal with the civil law of each state ; and only occupies itself with pri-
vate interests. This difference is considerable, and leads to important
consequences. The existence of a law, properly so called, regulating
the relations of nations with each other is, at best, problematical ; as
yet it is force alone which decides their disputes. This is not the
case with the private international laws of different nations. It is
they, not the nations, which are on trial ; it is individuals, and the
courts, and not the sword, which must decide their differences.

In order that we have a private international law, man must en-
joy everywhere the same rights whatever be his nationality — that is,
he must enjoy everywhere equally the same civil or private rights.
Now, what are civil or private rights ? Certain faculties, the exer-
cise of which is necessary to man for his physical, intellectual, and
moral existence. Can a man exercise these everywhere, or are they
limited to the state in which he was born ? Man is not an incoi-po-
real hereditament, attached to the soil on which he was born, but is a
citizen of the world ; he establishes himself where circumstances, or
his faculties, call him ; even without quitting his natal soil he can en-



Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 12 of 110)