Page images

church, would have his sheer and his He meets M. le Curé on the Place, and answer ready enough. But M. Bap- readily accepts his invitation to pass tiste fortunately takes it to be his busi- an evening with him by the wood fire ness-in spite of the busy symbolism in the presbytère. As they sit, M. le that surrounds him and the highly com- Professeur tells his host of the lands plicated dogmas of his great Churcb- in which he has travelled-wide, wonto preach "simple Christ to simple derful, enchanted lands. Baptiste lismen," and is content if they leave him tens, delighted. Then the guest goes no wiser, but a little better.

on to politics, to science, to speculaThe only change in his devoted and tion. Words like "Ultramontanism" monotonous life is occasionally to take and “obscurantism” roll glibly off his déjeuner and perhaps a hand at cards, tongue. M. le Curé pushes his chair chez Mademoiselle Angèle. Mademoi- back a little, bewildered. The proselle carefully remembers to forget fessor speaks easily of what have been that she knew Baptiste as a grubby to bis hearer the supreme certainties little peasant boy. Baptiste's own of religion and life, as moot points natural good breeding and simplicity only: of Infallibility as more than cause him really to forget it. If his fallible; of a future where, it may be, muslin lappets are tumbled and his the very bulwarks of the great faith large hands not too clean, he is hap- shall have been swept away. He talks, pily free from the self-consciousness as the talker always does, for himself, which would make such defects pain- not his hearer. He is so clever and ful. True, Mademoiselle's simpering stupid that he is perfectly unconscious and affectation distress him a little of the confusion, the terror even, he Bnt she has a cuisine so recherché, and has raised in his host's honest mind. it being neither fast nor vigil, Provi. He bids him good-night cheerfully. dence, that good, kind Providence, M. Baptiste riorgets how dear candles must mean M. Baptiste to enjoy it! He are, and sits, staring at the gray ashes does. He is delightfully polite and on the hearth, till the couple he has good-tempered. Certainly, be has noth- produced for his visitor are burnt to ing to talk of but Laforge. But he their sockets and have flickered into talks of it very pleasantly. Mademoi- darkness. selle Angèle gives him the most wel- If it were, indeed, as M. le Profescome aumônes for his poor. When she seur implied it might be! If the one is not digging up her soul, as it were, true Church were not the Truth after and looking at the roots (and so effect all! If, behind the deep, intense, ually preventing its growth, no doubt), mocking blue of the sky, there were she is really the most excellent of really no answer nor any that hear, rielles filles. M. Baptiste, after the still and "the hope of the world were a more excellent coffee, takes his leave, lie!" The horror of one cut adriftfeeling comfortable, satisfied, and well- lost on a gray and pitiless sea-overdisposed to all the world.

whelms M. le Curé's soul. When he Once, only once, there comes an up- creeps up to bed, the dawn is showing heaval in his life.

pearl and rose in the east. For the One perfect winter's day there ar- first time in all his life, anxious and rives in Laforge a certain Professor awful thoughts keep him awake. of Archæology, with a large, wise, For a day or two he performs his dubald head, and near-sighted eyes look ties as a man in a dream. But babit ing for Roman remains through specta- and education are strong. M. le Procles. He stays at the Hotel de France. fesseur-still quite unconscious of what he has done--returns to Paris.ascent to that church with less ease The fears lift, slowly, from Baptiste's than he used; the busy wrinkles grow soul-as he so often has seen the clouds thick round his pleasant eyes, and his lift from the mountains and leave the ruddy face shrivels a little like a winpeaks clear and serene against the sky. ter apple. The advanced schoolmasHe perceives, with an infinite relief, ter gets a post in a town which is much that he has only been tempted of the better worth upsetting than ever Ladevil-not to the common sins of the forge could have been. Annette dies. flesh, but to the subtler sin of a pre- Many of M. le Curé's friends lie now sumptuous mind. "Believe what I in the sunny, untidy, graveyard on the tell you, because I tell you" has been mountain slope, wtih its rude, ill-made well said to be the first and last word wooden crosses and poor, loving little of his Church. Before his rough cru- offerings of sham immortelles. The cifix, M. le Curé confesses the intellect day cannot be far away when M. le ual vanity and wickedness which made Curé must lie there too. Well, he has him question, even for a moment, her done his work. If he has not brought divine pronouncements.

enlightenment--and he has not-he has For a few years he looks back on brought peace. If he has taught but that temptation of his soul as a trav- an illiberal creed, he has taught it deeller looks back on some awful chasm, voutly and intensely, in season and out narrowly shunned. Then, gradually, of season, faithfully and from his he forgets. The calm life of Laforge, heart. He has continued the noble the daily round of honest duties, his tradition of his Church, and has helped own narrow and sensible mind, blot to make it-more than any other in the out the impression. In the greatest of world-the Church of the peasant and all consolations for the uncertainty of the poor. the future--work in the present-he If indeed the faith of that Church be grows old. His bishop, who can re- realized, in that kingdom where they. move him to a better or worse cure at that have riches shall hardly enter, his discretion, forgets all about him. where there shall be not many wise The fierce political whirlwinds which and not many prudent, and where men fell many great trees, leave this mod shall be judged, not for their lack of est shrub unharmed. The children he ten talents, but for their use of the has taught in the church are children one committed to their trust, M. le no more. M. le Curé makes the steepCuré's place may well be a high one. The Oornhil Magazine.

8. G. Tallentyre.



There is an element of uncanniness ficult to see yet the precise bourne at about some of the recent developments which it will arrive. All through the in plant-growing. The honorable pro- centuries, till now, man has been confession of gardening, coeval, we are tent to rear his plant children out of led to believe, with man's own origin, Mother Earth, trusting to pure water is being lured down strange by-paths and fresh sunshine to ensure their in these latter days, straying far from healthy development; the ordinary Nature's obvious course that has suf- routine of day and night, and the natticed it for so many ages, and it is dif- ural course of the seasons, summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, tle in connection with the Durham Colhave been their share, and he has been lege of Science, in Germany near Bressatisfied with the offspring that have lau, and in Sweden at Alvidaberg, resulted from this upbringing. But where he grew many plants under elecnowadays the adventurous impulse of trical treatment. The results were the times is leading him to experiment very remarkable. Thus strawberin many various ways, and in the spirit ries in electrified fields showed an inof many a modern ardent education crease of 50 per cent. to 128 per cent. ist he is bringing all sorts of previ. over those grown in normal fields. ously unheard of influences to bear- Corn showed an increase of 35 per electric force, electric light colored cent. to 40 per cent.; potatoes 20 per lights, germ inoculation, anæsthetics, cent., beets 26 per cent., and so on. and what not-in the hope of raising a And since in many of these cases the product superior to anything that has treatment was tentative and varied for gone before. The days of experiment experimental purposes the results will are yet too young for any of the most be largely improved when only the modern developments of plant-growing most satisfactory method is employed. to have become an integral part of hor. In fact, Professor Lemstrom believes ticulture; and gardeners of all men, that under this treatment one may with a fixed routine ingrained in them safely reckon upon an average increase through countless centuries, move of 15 per cent, over the normal for all slowly and are apt to regard innova- crops grown on land of ordinary fertions very dubiously. Still a consid- tility. It is worth noticing that elecerable measure of success, that argues tricity is of no use on poor land, and a probable future, has been accorded it will not help poor farming. Just as to some of them, and they claim a deti- “to him that hath to him shall be nite place in our notice.

given,” so it is on fertile and well-culFor instance, electricity, that great tivated land that the greatest increase force that the latter part of the nine is shown under electroculture. teenth century harnessed to the uses The method of applying electricity of man, has not, in its victorious ca- is as follows. A wire net is first reer, left untouched the domain of the stretched across the field a little above plants, and now electroculture, or the the surface; this net is then connected application of the electric current in with an electrical machine stationed in plant-growing, is fast becoming a a shed or building without the field, recognized development in up-to-date and the current traverses the net. As agriculture and horticulture. To Pro- the seeds sprout and the little plants fessor S. Lemstrom, of Helsingfors begin to grow, the net must be raised, University, we owe much of our as on no account must it touch the knowledge in this matter, for he has plants; but the raising need only be been experimenting for a considera- done once or twice during the summer. ble number of years on the effect of On rainy days it is quite useless to appassing a current of electricity through ply the electric current, as through the growing plants, and he has come to the damp the wire net loses its electrical conclusion that in the large majority charge directly. It is also injurious to of cases, crops grown in an electrified the crops to have the machine working atmosphere are far above the average during brilliant sunshine. both in quality and quantity. During Now, when we come to inquire why the years 1902-1903 he had experi- the electric influence should cause so mental fields in England near Newcas- marked an improvement in the crops,

we are on somewhat difficult ground. this line of research through his royBut it can probably be accounted for ages to the Polar regions. He saw in two ways. In the first place the there that the plants showed a rapid positive current passing from the development far surpassing that of points of the wire net to the earth plants in more southern climes; he causes the production of ozone and ni. saw, too, great differences in the size tric compounds wbich are beneficial to of wood rings in different years, and the plant. In the second place the he noted the pointed needle leaves of negative electricity passing up from the pines and the spikey beards of the the earth to the points of the net tends corn. Then, with the keen eye of the to draw up with it through the plant man of science, he realized that the the sap from the root, and thus the in- largest rings in the wood and the greatcreased circulation of the juices gives est harvest occurred in the years when increased energy of growth. Of there were more sunspots, when the course, in the application of electricity, aurora played more vividly, when, in as in the use of all good things, there fact, the air was largely charged must be moderation, and individual with the electric fluid, and he compreplants require individual treatment as hended the reason of the spikes, leaves, to the exact strength that is best for and beards. And from this vantage them.

ground he was led through years of But in all matters such as this the study to the conclusion that electricity mundane and first question asked by must be numbered among the princia practical farmer is “Will it pay?" pal factors in plant life, a factor that, Or will the cost of the apparatus up to the present, has been practically swamp the increased profits? For the overlooked, but which, nevertheless, commercial aspect is perforce the one plays a most important, though subtle, that appeals to him most. To this in- part in it. quiry Professor Lemstrom asserts that Other workers, both French and be can give a most satisfactory answer English, confirm the above, and in -it will pay. Thus take the case of some respects amplify it. Thus Dr. wheat, for example, and suppose a Cook found that if he electrified seeds hectare (24.7 acres) is put under elec- he not only produced more successful troculture. The initial cost of setting plants from them, but a greater perup the apparatus he estimates at about centage germinated. It is as though £108, the annual upkeep at £23. Now, life in some of them was fickering reckoning wheat as giving 34 bushels but faintly, and would have gone out to the acre, an increase of 45 per cent. altogether had not the electric stimudue to the electric current will give an lus fanned it into flame. increase of 383 bushels for the field, French men of science working at and 383 bushels at 3s. 6d. give £67 electroculture have been largely devotprotit. Deducting for the upkeep of ing their energies to trying to utilize the machine we have a net profit of the electricity of the atmosphere. If £44 for that one field, or more than this could be done a practically unlimfour-tenths of the whole cost realized ited source at nominal expense could in the first year. The larger the area be obtained. And their experiments worked the greater the profit, since show that the idea is feasible. For the cost of working does not increase instance, by setting up a geomagnetiin the same ratio.

fère-practically a lightning conductor It is interesting to learn that Pro in the centre of a field, and connectfessor Lemstrom was led to take up ing it with a network of wires running through the soil of the field, an in- after a spurt of hard work. Still, this crease of 50 per cent. was secured in a eventual exhaustion of a plant is a potato crop, while an even greater matter of minor consideration to a percentage of improvement showed in florist if he can get his blooms earlier tomatoes, peas, and other plants ex- on the market, and larger and more perimented upon. In fact, we may richly colored into the bargain. And conclude that on all counts electricity therein comes another peculiarity and stimulates growth and development in virtue of the electric light stimulus; it the plant world, and that electrocul- leads to increased brilliancy of color ture has an undoubted future before it. both as to the green of the leaves and

But electricity provides yet another the hue of the flowers, and this discovmeans of jogging Nature's arm, though ery suggests another line of developin this case it is not the direct action ment in plant-growing which has yet of the force, but its power as an il- to be worked out. luminant, on which is based a second The French experimenters were not important and recent development in satisfied with treating the plants unplant-growing. As long ago as 1881 der consideration to a few hours of Sir W. Siemens experimented upon electric lighting. They went the whole plants with electric light, but the light length and left them no rest. Even was costly, and the matter fell through the change to sunlight was denied for some years. But at the end of them, Day and night unceasingly last century the question was taken up they were exposed to the full glare of again in both America and France, the electric arc. In fact, one may and most interesting possibilities were compare the American treatment to disclosed. The American experiments the case of a man who takes alcohol simply arranged for a number of plants occasionally in moderation, the French to be kept in cool glasshouses and the treatment to a man who uses alcohol electric light to be turned on for some as his sole nourishment, for the results hours, brilliantly illuminating them are analogous. In the American when night fell, and thus shortening method and the moderate man the the time of darkness, but not abolish- stimulant is effective and not evil; in ing it altogether. In neighboring the French method and the intempercool glasshouses similar plants were ate man the outcome is stunting, disgrown under normal conditions of day figurement, and degradation, After and night. The result was that the some six months' continuous subjectplants with the longer period of light ing to the light a common pea had a throve better and developed earlier fat, twisted stem with tiny, undevelthan the others. Lettuces, radishes, oped leaves, and other plants showed beet, and spinach all improved, but similar abortions. The green color the lettuces in particular. A few was, however, emphasized. Everyplants, such as cauliflowers, like some thing was intensely green, thus carrypeople who cannot do with their hours ing the heightening of hues a stage of sleep curtailed, did not come up to further from the brightness observed the standard, but they were in a small under the moderate electric light treatminority. Violets, daisies, and other ment. All this, too, is comparable to flowers bloomed more freely and bet- the brilliance of tints under an Arctic ter, though they, in common with other summer, when the days are very long plants are apt to feel the reaction and and the nights are very short. And be more exhausted than the normal, this possibility of a development of injust as a man feels additional fatigue tensity of color is a line of research

« PreviousContinue »