D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

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drier, the awn will again roll up, in which action M, Roux thought it
would tend to draw up the seed, but from the position of the hairs the
feathery awn can easily slip downward, and would therefore not aifect


Fig. 21.— Seed of Sttpa pevxata. (Natural size.)

the seed. "When moistened once more, it would again force the seed
farther downward, and so on until the projjer depth was obtained. A
species of anemone (.1. mofitana), again, has essentially the same ar-
rangement, though belonging to a widely separated order.



A still more remarkable instance is afforded by a beautiful South
European grass, Stipa pennata (Fig. 21), the structure of which has
been described by Vaucher, and more recently, as well as more com-
pletely, by Frank Darwin. The actual seed is small, with a sharp
point, and stiff, short hairs pointing backward. The posterior end of
the seed is produced into a fine twisted corkscrew-like rod, which is
followed by a plain cylindrical portion, attached at an angle to the
corkscrew, and ending in a long and beautiful feather, the whole being
more than a foot in length. The long feather, no doubt, facilitates the
dispersion of the seeds hj wind ; eventually, however, they sink to the
ground, which they tend to reach ; the seeds being the heaviest portion,
point downward. So the seed remains as long as it is dry, but if a
shower comes on, or when the dew falls, the spiral unwinds, and if, as
is most probable, the surrounding hei'bage or any other obstacle pre-
vents the feathers from rising, the seed itself is forced down and so
driven by degrees into the ground.

I have already mentioned several cases in which plants produce
two kinds of seeds, or at least of pods, the one being adapted to bury-
ing itself in the ground. Heterocarpism, if I may term it so, or the
power of producing two kinds of reproductive bodies, is not confined
to these species. There is, for instance, a
North African species of corydalis {C. hete-
rocarpa of Durieu) wliich produces two kinds
of seed (Fig. 22), one somewhat flattened,
short, and broad, with rounded angles ; the
other elongated, hooked, and shaped like a
shepherd's crook with a thickened staff. In
this case the hook in the latter form perhaps
serves for dispersion.

Our common Thrincia Jiirta (Fig. 13, h)
also possesses, besides the fruits with the well-
known feathery crown, others which are des-
titute of such a provision, and which probably,
therefore, are intended to take root at home.
Mr. Drummond, in the volume of " Hook-
er's Journal of Botany" for 1842, Las described a species of AUsmacem
which has two sorts of seed-vessels ; the one produced from large, float-
ing flowers, the other at the end of short, submerged stalks. He does
not, however, describe either the seeds or seed-vessels in detail.

Before concluding, I will say a few words as to the very curious
forms presented by certain seeds and fruits. The pods of Lotus, for
instance, quaintly resemble a bird's foot, even to the toes ; whence the
specific name of one species, Ornithopodioides ; those of Ilippocrepis
remind one of a horseshoe ; those of Traj)a bicornis have an absurd re-
semblance to the skeleton of a bull's head. These likenesses appear to
be accidental, but there are some which probably are of use to the

22.— Seeds or Corydalis





plant. For instance, there are two species of Scorpiurus (Fig. 23), the
pods of which lie on the ground, and so curiously resemble the one {S.
subvillosa, Fig. 23, a) a centiped, the other {S. vermiculata, Fig. 23,
Ji) a worm or caterpillar, that it is almost impossible not to suppose
that the likeness must be of some use to the plant.

Fig. 23.— a, -'od oy? ScoRrixTRUs subvillosa ; 6, Pod op Scorpiurus vermiculata.

The pod of Blsemda pdecinus (Fig. 24, «) also has a striking re-
semblance to a flattened centiped; while the seeds oi Ahrus precato-
rius, both in size and in their very striking color, mimic a small beetle,
Artemis circumusta.

Mr. Moore has recently called attention to other cases of this kind.
Thus the seed of Murtynia diandra much resembles a beetle with
long antenna? : several species of Lupins have seeds much like spiders,
and those of Dimorphochlami/s, a gourd-like plant, mimic a piece of
dry twig. In the common castor-oil plants (Fig. 24, b), though the
rescmblant'o \s not so close, still at first glance the seeds might readily


be taken for beetles or ticks. In many Euphorbiaceous pkiuts, as, for
instance, in Jatropha (Fig. 24, c), the resemblance is even more strik-
ing. The seeds have a central line resembling the space between the
elytra, dividing and slightly diverging at the end, while between them
the end of the abdomen seems to peep ; at the anterior end the seeds
possess a small lobe, or caruncle, which mimics the head or thorax of

Fio. 34 a.— Pod of Fig. 24 ft.- Seed op Castor- Fig. 24 c— Seed op

BisERBULA. Oil (Ricinu?). Jatropha.

the insect, and which even seems specially arranged for this ])urpose ;
at least it would seem from experiments made at Kew that the carun-
culus exercises no appreciable effect during germination.

These resemblances might benefit the plant in one of two ways.
If it be an advantage to the plant that the seeds should be swallowed
by birds, their resemblance to insects might lead to this result. On
the other hand, if it be desirable to escape from graminivorous birds,
then the resemblance to insects would serve as a protection. We do
not, however, yet know enough about the habits of these plants to
solve this question.

Indeed, as we have gone on, many other questions will, I doubt
not, have occurred to you, which we are not yet in a position to an-
swer. Seeds, for instance, differ almost infinitely in the sculpturing of
their surface. But I shall wofully have failed in my object to-night
if you go away with the impression that we know all about seeds. On
the contrary, there is not a fruit or a seed, even of one of our common-
est plants, which would not amply justify and richly reward the most
careful study.

In this, as in other branches of science, we have but made a begin-
ning. We have learned just enough to perceive how little we know.
Our great masters in natural history have immortalized themselves by
their discoveries, but they have not exhausted the field ; and, if seeds
and fruits can not vie with flowers in the brilliance and color with
which they diecorate our gardens and our fields, still they surely rival
— it would be impossible to excel them — in the almost infinite variety
of the problems they present to us, the ingenuity, the interest, and
the charm of the beautiful contrivances which they offer for our study
and our admiration. — Fortnightly Jievieic.




I WISH to show how drowning might, under ordinary circumstances,
be avoided, even in the case of persons otherwise wholly ignorant
of what is called the art of swimming. The numerous frightful casu-
alties render every working suggestion of importance, and that which
I here offer I venture to think is entirely available.

When one of the inferior animals takes the water, falls or is thrown
in, it instantly begins to walk as it does when out of the water. But,
when a man who can not " swim " falls into the water, he makes a few
spasmodic struggles, throws up his anns, and drowns. The brute, on
the other hand, treads water, remains on the surface, and is virtually
insubmergible. In order, then, to escape di'owning, it is only neces-
sary to do as the brute does, and that is to tread or walk the water.
The brute has no advantage in regard of his relative weight, in re-
spect of the water, over man, and yet the man perishes while the brute
lives. Nevertheless, any man, any woman, any child who can walk on
the land may also walk in the water, just as readily as the animal does,
if only he will, and that without any prior instruction or drilling what-
ever. Throw a dog into the water, and he treads or walks the water
instantly, and there is no imaginable reason why a human being under
like circumstances should not do as the dog does.

The brute, indeed, walks in the water instinctively, whereas the
man has to be told. The ignorance of so simple a possibility, namely,
the possibility of treading water, strikes me as one of the most singular
things in the histc)ry of man, and speaks very little indeed for his in-
telligence. He is, in fact, as ignorant on the subject as is the newborn
babe. Perhaps something is to be ascribed to the vague meaning
which is attached to the word sicim. When a man swims it means
one thing, when a dog swims it means another and quite a different
act. The dog is wholly incapable of swimming as a man swims, but
nothing is more certain than that a man is capable of swimming, and
on the instant, too, as a dog swims, without any previous training or
instruction, and that, by so doing without fear or hesitancy, he will be
just as safe in the water as the dog is.

The brute in the water continues to go on all-fours, and the man
who wishes to save his life, and can not otherwise swim, must do so
too, striking alternately, one two, one two, but without hurry or pre-
cipitation, with hand and foot, exactly as the brute does. Whether
he be provided with paw or hoof, the brute swims with the greatest
ease and buoyancy. The human being, if he will, can do so too, with
the further immense advantage of having a paddle-formed hand, and

VOL. XIX. — 24


of being able to rest himself when tired by floating, a thing of which
the animal has no conception. Bridget Money, a poor Irish immigrant,
saved her own life and her thi-ee children's lives, when the steamer
conveying them took fire on Lake Erie, by floating herself, and making
them float, which simply consists in lying quite still, with the mouth
shut and the head thrown w^ell back in the water. The dog, the horse,
the cow, the swine, the deer, and even the cat, all take to the water on
occasion, and sustain themselves perfectly without any prior experi-
ence whatever. Nothing is less diflicult, whether for man or brute,
than to tread water, even for the first time. I have done so often,
using the feet alone, or the hands alone, or the whole four, many times,
with perhaps one of my children on my back. Once I recollect being
carried a good way out to sea by the receding tide at Boulogne, but
regained the shore without difiiculty. A drop of water once passed
through the rima of the glottis, and on another occasion I experienced
such sudden indisposition that, if I had been unable to float, it must, I
think, have gone hard with me.

Men and animals are able to sustain themselves for long distances
in the water, and would do so much oftener were they not incapaci-
tated, in regard of the former at least, by sheer terror, as w^ell as com-
plete ignorance of their real powers. Webb's wonderful endurance
will never be forgotten. But there are other instances only less re-
markable. Some years since, the second mate of a ship fell overboard
while in the act of fisting a sail. It was blowing fresh ; the time was
night, and the place some miles out in the stormy German Ocean.
The hardy fellow nevertheless managed to gain the English coast.
Brock, with a dozen other pilots, was plying for fares by Yarmouth ;
and, as the main-sheet was belayed, a sudden puff of wind upset the
boat, when presently all perished except Brock himself, who, from four
in the afternoon of an October evening to one the next morning, swam
thirteen miles before he was able to hail a vessel at anchor in the ofling.
Animals themselves are capable of swimming immense distances, al-
though unable to rest by the way. A dog recently swam thirty miles
in America in order to rejoin his master. A mule and a dog washed
overboard during a gale in the Bay .of Biscay have been known to
make their way to shore. A dog swam ashore with a letter in his
mouth at the Cape of Good Hope. The crew of the ship to which the
dog belonged all perished, which they need not have done had they
only ventured to tread water as the dog did. As a certain ship was
laboring heavily in the trough of the sea, it was found needful, in
order to lighten the vessel, to throw some troop-horses overboard,
which had been taken in at Corunna. The poor things, my informant,
a staff-surgeon, told me, when they found themselves abandoned, faced
round and swam for miles after the vessel. A man on the east coast
of Lincolnshire saved quite a number of lives by swimming out on
horseback to vessels in distress. He commonly rode an old gray



mare, but, -wheu the mare -was not to hand, he took the first horse that

The loss of life from shipwreck, boating, bathing, skating, fishing,
and accidental immersion is so disastrously great, that every feasible pro-
cedure calculated to avert it ought to be had recourse to. People will
not consent to wear life-preservers, but, if they only knew that in their
own limbs, properly used, they possessed the most efficient of life-pre-
servers, they would most likely avail themselves of them. In every
school, every house, there ought to be a slate tank of sufficient depth,
with a trickle of water at one end and a siphon at the other, in order
to keep the contents pure. A pail or two of hot water would at any
time render the contents sufficiently warm. In such a tank every
chUd from the time it could walk ought to be made to tread water
daily. Every adult, when the opportunity presents itself, should do
so. The printed injunction should be pasted lap on all boat-houses,
on every boat, at every bathing-place, and in every school. " Tread
water when you find yourself out of your depth " is all that need be
said, unless, indeed, we add, " Float when you are tired." Every one,
of whatever age or sex, or however encumbered with clothing, might
tread water with at least as much facility, even in a breaking sea, as a
four-footed animal does. The position of a person who treads water
is, in other respects, very much safer and better than is the sprawling
attitude which we assume in ordinary swimming. And then the beauty
of it is that we can tread water without any preliminary teaching,
whereas " to swim " involves time and pains, entails considerable
fatigue, and is very seldom adequately acquired, after all.

The Indians on the Missouri River, when they have occasion to
traverse that impetuous stream, invariably tread water just as the dog
treads it. The natives of Joanna, an island on the coast of Madagas-
car, young persons of both sexes, walk the water, carrying fruit and
vegetables to ships becalmed, or it may be lying-to, in the offing miles
away. Some Ki-oomen, whose canoe upset before my eyes in the sea-
way on the coast of Africa, walked the water, to the safe-keeping of
their lives, with the utmost facility ; and I witnessed negro children
on other occasions doing so at a very tender age. At Madras, watch-
ing their opportunity, messengers, with letters secured in an oil-skin
cap, plunge into the boiling surf, and make their way, treading the
water, to the vessels outside, through a sea in which an ordinary Euro-
pean boat will not live. At the Cape of Good Hope men used to pro-
ceed to the vessels in the offing through the mountain-billows, treading
the water as they went with the utmost security. And yet here, on
our own shores, and amid smooth waters, men, women, and children
perish like flies annually, when a little properly-directed effort — tread-
ing the water as I have said — would haply suffice to rescue them every
one. — Nature.




THE indications seen during the past two years of advance in the
law protecting intellectual property are interesting and important.
This article will describe some of the more salient steps — the legisla-
tion and lately reported decisions — which are of interest to all friends
of practical science. That such readers have a general knowledge of
the system which has been established by Congress in order " to pro-
mote the progress of science and the useful arts" — the patent and
copyright laws — may be taken for granted. Without rehearsing prin-
ciples that have been long established, let us speak at once of matters
lately questioned or newly declared.

During the last decade trade-marks became associated in the public
mind with patents, owing to the fact that in 1870, when a codified
statement of the patent and copyright laws was moved in Congress,
that body interleaved a chapter embodying a national trade-mark law.
This was done apparently on the theory that the three subjects were
so homogeneous as to warrant considering trade-marks embraced
within the constitutional power ; and this position stood unchallenged
for several years. But, when challenged, it was overthrown. The
Supreme Court pointed out that the power is limited to securing to
authors and inventors the right to their tcritings and discoveries ; and
said that a trade-mark can not be classified either with inventions or
discoveries in the arts and sciences, or with the writings of authors ;
and that, if any law of Congress on the subject can be sustained, it
must be one limited to marks intended for foreign (or Indian) com-
merce. An act has been passed (March 3, 1881) conforming to this
view. It authorizes inhabitants of the United States or of any foreign
country which reciprocates to register trade-marks, and protects their
use in foreign (and Indian) commerce only. Trade-marks have thus
been distinctly dissociated from inventions, as they should be.

Just as naturalists pronounce it difficult to draw a distinct line
between plants and animals, so lawyers are finding confusion between
what is a book, what a machine. A new system of book-keeping,
consisting of a book of forms or blanks, the pages of which contained
ruled lines and headings showing how a merchant's account-book
might be prepared on a new and advantageous plan, was copyrighted ;
but the Court, when an imitator was sued, said that all that could be
secured under the copyright law was the right to print the introduc-
tory essay, and the particular columns and headings by way of sample.
To secure the control of the new system of book-keeping, the contriver


of it should have taken out a patent ; for want of this, any one not
reprinting his book had the right to make and use account-books
framed on his plan. By way of contrast is the story of a large blank-
book, each page of which was marked in spaces, these spaces being
numbered to correspond Avith imaginary bonds and coupons, the idea
being that as fast as coupons should be paid they might be kept each
in the space appropriate to its number, or any notice received relative
to a bond outstanding might be pasted in the space allotted to that
bond, for ready reference. The contriver of this " book " patented it,
and the Court said that he was right ; it was not a literary work, but
an invention.

All know that during ten years past improvements in the Office
have been made, of which the system of printing patents for distribu-
tion and the issue of the " Gazette " are prominent examples. Im-
provements continue. The classification of subjects of invention has
been revised, and is republished in the " Gazette " for January 4th
last. As now framed it arranges patented inventions in twenty-four
divisions, these being divided into one hundred and sixty-four classes,
and these again into nearly three thousand sub-classes. Persons desir-
ing to inform themselves with regard to the state of the art in any line
of invention can gain much knowledge by procuring the specifications
and di'awings in the sub-class containing such invention, or can sub-
scribe for future specifications and drawings in any desired class.

The number of patents which have been issued has now reached
nearly a quarter of a million. To examine as many of them as is
often necessary for determining the novelty of an application involves
so much delay and expense that three successive commissioners have
earnestly recommended the preparation of a digest. Congress, this
spring, authorized this work, and appropriated ten thousand dollars
for the expense.

There have been noteworthy decisions on the effect of an inventor's
disclosure of his invention, or of his delay in applying for a patent, to
impair his right. They indicate that the importance to inventors of
" keeping their own counsel " is not sufficiently understood. An in-
ventor may make use of his invention to test its operation, ascertain
its deiocls, and mature improvements, quite freely ; and, if these are
his purposes, the facts that the use was openly known and was benefi-
cial to the public are not fatal to his right. For example, the patent
for the Nicholson pavement was contested on a showing that in 1854,
before applying for a patent, the inventor laid a block of the pavement
in a Boston street to test its merits. The Supremo Court said that as
he had not used or allowed others to use it for profit, but only by way
of experiment, there was no abandonment. But a slight disclosure by
way of sale or manufacture for sale may destroy the right. For ex-
ample, an inventor's making three sets of articles of ladies' wear for
two ladies of his acquaintance, who wore them until they were worn


out, was pronounced an abandonment of his invention, because it was
not a use for experiment or in private, but a practical use of the com-
pleted article. Even a single sale to a buyer, who bought the thing
only " on trial," has been pronounced an abandonment.

A case of some hardship was that of a card-manufacturer who ran
machines of his invention for several years under arrangements in-
tended to secure secrecy : a limited number of workmen were em-
ployed ; the factory-doors were kept locked, each workman having a
key ; and visitors were but rarely admitted. Yet no foiinal pledge of
secrecy was exacted from those who saw the machine. In course of
time the inventor obtained a patent, but in the mean time his foreman
had " given away " the secret to competitors. The Judge said that an
inventor's conducting his business so that the public have an oppor-
tunity of knoAving and imitating his invention forfeits his right, with-
out proof that any great number of persons knew it. If any one knew
it under such circumstances that he might have made it public without
a breach of confidence, the right is abandoned.

With respect to delay, while it is familiar that an inventor is not
limited to any j^articular time within which he must apj^ly, yet the
Supreme Court has lately said, quite emphatically, that, unless he is
vigilant and active in applying, or there is good excuse, such as sick-
ness, poverty, etc., for his postponement, he runs the risk that his in-
vention will be considered abandoned to the public. The story of the
case was, that "Woodbury, in 1848, applied for a patent for an improve-
ment in planing-machines, but it was rejected. He took no further
steps until 1870, and meantime the principle of his invention had been
adopted by other persons. Then he obtained a patent ; but it was
annulled for his long neglect. Inventors should be wary of disclosure
and delay.

A decision of the Supreme Court known as Mitchell vs. Tilghman
(19 Wall., 287) has given some persons an idea that a process can not
be the subject of a patent ; though the intention was, only to decide
that the patentee was confined in his right to the particular method
pointed out in his specification. He litigated the case further, gath-
ered additional evidence, and presented the question to the Court
again ; and the Court has in effect overruled its former decision, now
explaining emphatically that a patent may be, under American law,
granted for a process. Our patent law is not confined to new machines
and new compositions of matter, but extends to any new and useful
art of manufacture ; and a manufacturing process is clearly an art.
The principle is that, whoever discovers that a certain useful result
will be produced in any art by the use of certain means, is entitled to
a patent, provided he fully and accurately specifies the means. This

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 45 of 110)