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And saw it eat the air for food."
against the decency, the propriety, or the
wholesomeness of animal flesh, turns from " Stretch'd at its case the beast I view'd,
it with simulated loathing, and turns heart
ily to his mushes, his puddings, and his we ask fruits.
So, lems in solitude, apart from the enjoyments built up out of apparently the most inconof life; the soldier, why he has allowed gruous materials, but science proves that himself to be subjected to the toil and dust these varying forms are all constituted of of his extra-dangerous trade ; the busy one or several similar substances; that merchant, to what purpose he assiduously the whole of the multitudinous quantities strives to equalize supply and demand over which environ us yield but sixty-one elethe earth ; nay, even when we ask of the mentary substances. But four alone of criminal why in the practice of crime he these bear an essential part of what we dares an ignominipus death, we receive call organic existence. The two chief one answer from all, which, though ex constituents of the atmosphere are nitropressed in phrase characteristic of each, gen and oxygen. The latter and hydrogen is essentially the same : “What can we constitute water, the latter and nitrogen do ? we cannot help it ; a man can not united form ammonia, a volatile alkali, a live upon air." The answer appears to kind of air which streams forth in great furnish an explanation; and even the judge abundance through the mountain chimneys is frequently so persuaded of the validity of subterranean fires. of the plea, that he allows it to dictate These four, of which three are airs or leniency.
gases, with carbon, a “solid," when comBut then comes the naturalist, an im- bined form all the materials of plants or practicable kind of man, who will recog- animals—the “organic" world. The most nize no truth but that which he can prove important and general of the compounds experimentally, and
says, “ You can live of these elements are water, which perupon air ; nay, in fact, man lives on air vades the atmosphere as vapor; and caralone, and nothing else whatever.” When bonic acid and ammonia, which are diffused we put the question, What do men really in the atmosphere as gases; and on the live upon ? the answers will be various. examination of these three compounds of The Guacho who, in the immense pampas the four elements turns the complete study of Buenos Ayres, in swift career lassos of animal and vegetable life. The comthe guanaco, or the wild bull, dayly swal mon air is about four-fifths of nitrogen, lows ten pounds of the flesh of his game, and one-fifth of oxygen, one two-thouonly occasionally varied by a moiety of sandth of carbonic acid, and less than that pumpkin. Bread is not known to him. / amount of ammonia. The Irish peasant regales himself on a For every inch of oxygen he inspires, a meager supply of "potatoes and point.” | man expires a cubic inch of carbonic acid Meat is strange to him, and he is happy if | The same exchange occurs in the process occasionally he can add a herring to savor of combustion ; and according to the comthe mealy tubers. The Greenlander, in putation of Poggendorf, about twelve thouhis smoky, fetid hut, beneath unsoftening sand five hundred cubic geographical miles snows, revels in the“ blubber" of a stranded of carbonic acid gas have been expired in a whale or captured seal. There the glisten- period of five thousand years, exclusive ing, unctuous black sucks the sugar cane of vast quantities which rise from the voland swallows the banana ; and there the canic chimneys. According to this estiSiamese swells himself with monstrous mate, the carbonic acid of the atmosphere quantities of rice; the Abyssinian with should now be to oxygen as one to one great chunks of raw flesh quickly dismem- hundred and fifty-five, but in fact actually bered from the yet sentient, vital carcass measured, it is found to amount to oneof a brute ; and the Esquimaux drinks in fourth per cent. From this it is evident his brimming fill of warm fish oil. Here that some process prevails which transfers the Pekin gourmand zests it on his the carbonic acid into other relations. fattened rat, and imbibes his “bird-nest Oxygen is combined and continually combroth; and then the “dietetic reformer" bines with every terrestrial substance, but emphatically, nay, vehemently protesting conspicuously so with carbon and hydro
gen, which process is called combustion, in the plants composing it. To this in which a quantity of heat bearing a de- group belong the cereals and pulses, the terminate proportion to the amount of tuberous vegetables, sow - breads, manoxygen “ consumed” is always liberated. dioc, yams, taro, and the stems of the Nitrogen, considered apart from other sub- palms, whence we have sago.
The stances, has no striking familiarity with second group includes the fruits rich in them, except only hydrogen, with which it sugar and gum, which owe their peculiar readily unites to form ammonia. The cooling properties to malic, citric, and four elements under consideration com tartaric acids, and their delicious flavors bined form numerous permutations. Of to a small quantity of aromatic substance. these but two classes are of decisive im- In addition to our well-known fruits are portance in the organic world. One of the date, the banana, the bread fruit, the these classes comprises albumen, fibrine, sugar cane, and the saccharine and gumcaseine, gelatine-substances formed of my, fleshy roots which compose a large the union of all four of these elements. portion of our domestic vegetables. The The other class is gum, sugar, starch, the third class consists of the oleaginous kerliquors from these, (spirit, wine, beer,) and nels of various fruits, the cacao, cocoa nut, the various kinds of fat, all of which are the Brazil nut, and the many kinds of nuts substances devoid of one of the four ele- with which we gratify the taste. Man rements, namely, nitrogen. These merely quires for nutrition three principal subpass through animate bodies, which burns stances, rich in nitrogene, fibrine, caseine, the carbon and hydrogen with the oxygen and albumen; these occur not only in the inspired, and they are expired as carbonic animal kingdom, but are abundant in the acid and water. By this process of com- vegetable world. Further for the mainbustion, is evolved the heat indispensable tenance of respiration, and, therefore, of to animal life. The animal body is in- heat, he consumes a certain quantity of capable of forming from these constituents, substances devoid of nitrogen, which are or of forming from any other substance furnished both by the fat of animals and except caseine, albumen, fibrine, etc., sub- by the great majority of vegetables. We stances necessary to its vitality and vigor, now readily comprehend some of the most but must receive substances prepared for striking features of the phenomena of its nutrition or to be converted into bony respiration of man and animals. Thus structures.
far we have seen that the whole animate Liebig has proved that albumen, fibrine, world lives upon the vegetable, either and caseine are the only materials of nu- mediately or immediately; but we do not trition ; that these can not be replaced by arrive at the conclusion of our investigaother substances; and that when they are tions here ; for here the question arises : withheld vitality must cease. But co-oper- What do plants live upon? As the first ating with these to sustain life, must be step to the solution of this question we inalso the compounds devoid of nitrogen. quire, What is the plant composed of? These are commonly called “ food,” but Considered apart from the inorganic con“ Liebig" proves that they are the “ma- stituents, the ash and salts, the body of terials of respiration" only. Comparing the plant is composed of matters which the requisitions of animal life and form, contain no nitrogen, of cellular and vegwith the contents of plants, the food of etable jelly, which have similar composianimals, we find in their juices a certain tion with sugar, gum, and starch, and are quantity of solved albumen. In all the different from the various fatty and waxy cereal world there is ever a certain quantity substances in that the latter have a small of a substance called formerly gluten. proportion of oxygen. But besides these Legumine and gluten, or caseine and fibrine, the plant requires nitrogenous substances occur in the cells of all known plants. to give rise to those chemical processes
The second class, the substances de- by which the transmutation of the nutrient void of nitrogen, are as widely distributed matter is effected. The inquiry into the in the vegetable world. When we review nutrition of the plant includes, therefore, all the nutritive substances man obtains the inquiry into the sources of carbon and from the vegetable kingdom, we find three nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen being sufgroups, the first of which is remarkable ficiently provided by water and common for the great amount of starch contained | air. The general notion is, that the plant
extracts its carbon and nitrogen from ma- Whence this, if there is no process by mure, or from the humus of the soil. Allan- which the inorganic matter is carried over imal and vegetable bodies, as soon as vitality into the circle of the organic ? If the is extinct, pass into a state of decomposi- reasoning we are rejecting were true, tion or dissipation into the atmosphere, be- what enormous quantities of carbonic acid ing changed into carbonic acid, ammonia, and ammonia would have been poured and water. While this change is incom- forth by respiration and combustion dur'plete, a residue, itself much altered, of a ing thousands of years, from the decombrownish or black color, remains, which, at position of animal and vegetable bodies, the commencement of the decomposition, is and the continual flow of those products called manure, and toward its close, hu- from volcanoes during that time. The mus or vegetable mold. It is a compost fact is, that ammonia only occurs in exof the products of decomposition. In the ceedingly small quantities, and carbonic beginning of the solution of this group acid is a minor agent in the composition of phenomena it was reasoned that “ of the atmosphere. But science has bon and nitrogen are abundant in humus; proved that these matters are immediin a soil that is rich in humus, or well ately withdrawn from the atmosphere and manured, plants thrive better than in one embodied in the animate world. that is poor in humus; consequently hu- In the pampas of South America exmus is the source of the carbon and ni- isted, at the period of their first occupatrogen of plants.” This reasoning was tion by the Spaniards, the same thrifty inconclusive. There was a period of our vegetation as at present, the same scanty earth’s existence when no vegetable feath- population, the same quantity of indigeered its solid crust, in which no animal nous animals that now wander there. The lived, and in which no humus could possi- Spaniards introduced the horse and neat bly be present. From this soil, devoid of cattle, and these have multiplied in such humus, gradually developed vegetation profusion that Monte Video alone exports in such gigantic luxuriance that it—buried annually three hundred thousand hides ; and preserved for us by subsequent revo- and no marked diminution was experilution as coal-assumes a most essential enced in the abundance of horses there, part in the human economy of the present though the military expedition of Rosas day.
destroyed one hundred thousand of these Here is the fact, bearing decisive denial animals. The native organic life and its right into the teeth of the argument, which quantity have, therefore, since the discov further involved the assumption that ery by the Spaniards, importantly increased, " there exists on the earth a definite quan- and millions on millions of pounds of nitity of organic matter, which circulates trogen and carbon combined into organic between the animal and vegetable king- substances have been exported without dom; the decaying animal serves as nu- the soil there having received the smallest triment to the plant, and the developed appreciable return of organic matter. plant again to the animal.” But here it Whence this export if not from the atis forgotten that the putrefactive process mosphere. If we consider only one of intervenes, which unquestionably causes the constituents of tea, nitrogen, we find the dissolution of the organic matter and that of that alone China exports three its dissipation as ex-organic compound, hundred thousand pounds without any carbonic acid and ammonia. Further : considerable return of that element. The the organic substance which it is assumed haymaker of Switzerland and the Tyrol was at once created with the earth must, mows a definite amount of grass every in the great lapse of time, have long since year on the Alps, inaccessible to cattle, been used up. But the case is exactly and returns not the smallest quantity of the contrary. Equally in the course of organic matter to the soil. Whence the the great geognostic periods, and in that constituents of the hay? The plant must of the history of the earth, beginning with have carbon and nitrogen, and in South mankind, there is seen, in the former, from America and the Alps there is no known period to period, and in the latter from cen- or suspected possibility of obtaining these tury to century, an ever-increasing fullness matters except from the ammonia and of organic life, and incessant multiplication carbonic acid of the atmosphere. in the animal and in the vegetable world. The Northern provinces of Holland,
Friesland, Gromingen, and Dreuthe ex- the latter of these compounds, and burns port annually about a million pounds of the former in the respiratory process for nitrogen in cheese. They obtain this the maintenance of the necessary heat. from their meadows by means of cows; Thus it is demonstrated, in fact, that man, they furnish the only manure the meadows through the mediation of plants, lives upon receive. Whence the exported tons of air, and science sees him “ eat the air for nitrogen, since the cows return nothing to food." the meadows but what they have received from it in addition to the nitrogen trans
OLD LETTERS. planted. But the positive experiments of Boussingault* settle this point. Bous- THERE's a package of old letters in the little singault devoted four hectares of land
Which the key tied to this locket, worn upon (nearly five acres) of his estate in Al
my heart, unlocks; sace to experiments, which were pursued Will you go and get the package, and the letters with the utmost assiduity and care dur
read to me? ing many years. He allowed this land I have tried to do it often, but, for tears, I could to be cultured in the usual manner for twenty-one years. But the manure that you have brought them—thank you, darling was used was weighed, as well as the
now sit down upon the bed,
And lift gently to your bosom my poor throbproduct of the harvest, and the quantity
bing, burning head'; of the carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and ni- Read the blessed words distinctly, that I lose trogen, and ash of both were very accu
not even one; rately ascertained. The result found 0, the precious hand that penn'd them, its last
work for me is done! was, that on an average, the annual harvest gained from the soil twice as much But if you should ever see him, whom I never
more shall see, nitrogen, three times as much carbon and
Tell him that the sweetest solace his dear lethydrogen, and four times as much oxy- ters were to me; gen, as had been given to it in manure, That I never ceased to love him, never doubted supposing here that the whole contents
that he loved ; of the manure entered the plant, which
That my faith in him was perfect, and remain'd
through all unmoved. is not actually the case. Since, then, carbonic acid, ammonia, and water form the And, O! tell him when he came not, as he
ised he would come, food of plants, and we find that these If I could not choose but sorrow, that my grief matters never can be so combined as not for him was dumb; to contain far more oxygen than the sub- That I never yet reproach'd him, ne'er a word stances occurring in plants, free oxygen
of censure spoke ;
That his mem'ry must be gentle to the heart gas must necessarily be set free in the
his coldness broke. vital processes of the plant. And thus, as the final movement of our inquiry, we
Tell him, through the years which follow'd,
when no tidings from him came, reach this conclusion : that decomposition Nor his absence, nor his silence, was I ever and respiration liberate all vegetable and heard to blame; animal substances (diminishing the oxy- O, this wild desire to see him, God subdue gen in the air) in the form of carbonic
within my breast !
For it racks me into torture, and my soul hath acid, ammonia, and water, which diffuse
need of rest. themselves through the atmosphere. The
When I'm dead, and in my coffin, and the shroud plant takes these substances and forms
about me wound, from them, accompanied by an incessant | And my narrow bed is ready, in the pleasant increase of the oxygen of the atmosphere, church-yard ground, compounds rich in carbon and hydrogen, Lay the locket and the letters both together on but devoid of nitrogen, such as starch, And this little ring he gave me, never from my
my heart, gum, sugar, and the various fatty matters,
finger part. and others rich in nitrogen, namely, al
Now, I'm ready, read the letters, the dear letbumen, fibrine, and caseine. The animal
ters once again; world builds up its corporeal frame from As I listen while you read them, I shall lose all
sense of pain;
And if, when you have finish'd, I should gently See the Chemical and Physiological Bal- fall asleep ance of Organic Nature. Dumas and Bous. Gently fall asleep and wake not-dearest sister, singault, 12mo. London, 1844.
do not weep.
A NIGHT OF TERROR.
I had gone one evening to a coffeehouse or casino, where I hoped to find
the latest newspapers. At a small table FOUND myself far from home on sat two gentlemen, engaged at chess. A
business at Prague. It was in April. little elderly man, in a scarlet cloak, was However agreeable the diversion, I could walking up and down the room with his not suppress my home-sickness. I longed hands behind him. I took up the newsfor our little town, where my young wife paper. had been impatiently expecting my return No one attracted my attention so much already for seven weeks. Since our wed as the gentleman in scarlet. There was ding-day we had never before been so in his figure, in his movements, and in his long separated. It is true Fanny sent me features something striking and repulsive, letters every week; but these lines, so full which corresponded with his evident want of love, and fondness, and melancholy, were of taste in dress. He was something only oil to the fire. Taking leave of my under the usual size, but large-boned and few acquaintances and friends, I told my broad-shouldered. He seemed to be behost to make out my bill. I was to set tween fifty and sixty years of age, and had off on the morrow with the post.
a stoop in his walk. His coal-black hair In the morning the landlord appeared hung thick about his head. His tawny with a pretty heavy account. I felt for complexion, and his hawk's-nose and high my pocket-book, and sought it in all my cheek-bones, gave hit a very repelling pockets, and in all corners. It was gone. I look. The malice of the infernal regions felt very uncomfortable, for there were more seemed to mock one from every feature. than fourteen hundred dollars in bills in it. “ If that man is not Satan himself,"
It was in vain that I turned the room thought I," he must be Satan's brother." topsy - turvy; the pocket-book was not I looked involuntarily at his feet for the forthcoming. It was either stolen or lost. cloven foot, and, sure enough, he had one I had it in my hands only the day, before ; human foot like ours, but his left was a I was accustomed to carry it in the breast- club foot in a laced boot; yet he did not pocket of my coat. Fanny's letters were limp with it, but walked softly about as if there too. I was certain that I had felt it among egg-shells, which he did not care the night before when undressing. How to break. now were my bank-notes to be recovered ? As the red-coat passed the chess-table Whoever had got them could easily change one of the players said to his antagonist, them into gold and silver.
who seemed somewhat embarrassed,“ You As my thoughts took this turn there are lost now beyond salvation.” The redsuddenly occurred to me the recollection coat stopped a moment, cast a glance upon of a figure that I had seen at billiards the board, and remarked to the victor, about a week before in a close red coat, “ You are mistaken. In three moves you and that then seemed to me like a prince will be checkmated.” The winner smiled of darkness in human shape. My blood haughtily; his opponent shook his head actually ran cold at the remembrance ; despairingly, and moved; at the third and yet I was so desperate that I thought move the supposed victor was actually to myself, “I don't care for my part! | checkmated. Were he here now he would be right wel I had not seen him since, but I did not come, if he would only bring me my forget the striking figure and the infernal pocket-book."
physiognomy, and I was really frightened Just then some one knocked at the door. at the thought of dreaming about them. “ Holloa !” thought I; “ the tempter is And now he stood unexpectedly before not going to take a joke in earnest.” Ime in my room! ran to the door ; my mind was full of the plaguy red-coat, and I really believed that
THE TEMPTATION. it was he.
And lo! wonderful surprise! when I " Pardon, sir, if I disturb you," said opened the door in stepped, with a slight he; “ have I the honor to address Mr. nod, the very tempter I was thinking of. Robert .?"
I must relate how and where I had “I am that person," I replied. made the acquaintance of this apparition. “ How do you prove it ?"