Page images
PDF
EPUB

was so well prepared. Do not mourn for one who was not like the children of this world, and whose faith was made perfect through suffering, long and bitter suffering. Of that I did not tell either of you when it would not avail; it would have made you most unhappy, and would not have saved her a single pang. My dear Mrs. Rucker, be thankful that you were the object of such fond and faithful love, as few in this world have to give, to such a spotless mind and purified soul as this that has now soared to its proper sphere. At six o'clock yesterday evening, or a little after it, she fell sweetly asleep; and though wasted to a shadow- even that shadow looks in death serenely beautifulher forehead and eyebrows are finer than any thing I ever saw. What a heavenly treasure she has been to me! Whatever vexed or harassed me, I always found a balm from her lips and a cordial in her eyes to soothe and cheer me; her last words were a fervid expression of the unequalled affection she bore me. You well know that I saw this cloud impending last spring, and labored to make up my mind to the deepest wound that could be inflicted on it; yet when it came nearer I could not endure to look at it, and fed myself with vain hopes. . . He who made her all pure and lovely as she was knew what was best for her, and after indulging her in more of innocent happiness than falls to the lot of most people in a long life, he has, through this fiery trial, brought her home safely to himself. Good is the will of the Lord!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Do not, my dear friends, mourn for the freed spirit that exults in its release from a painful prison. Thank God for me, that gave me a child whose presence was a blessing, and whose memory will hover round me like a vision of bliss, till, through the merits of my Saviour, I shall know as I am known. Could I forget her with a wish, I would not part with the dear image for this world's treasure: she indeed never gave her mother grief, but when she died, never intentionally offended, never hurt me with a cold look. My sun is fast declining, I have not many years to mourn. But why mourn for this blessed spirit! O, do not mourn, my dear friends: consecrate her memory; think cheerfully, speak easily of her. Adieu, dear friends, adieu." Memoir and Correspondence, Vol. 1. pp. 53-55.

No one can wish us to clothe in words the feelings with which every heart must be affected by this funeral hymn, so touching, so solemn, and so holy.

Here we conclude. We have succeeded but ill in these imperfect notices of Mrs. Grant, if we have not given the

impression of a woman of extraordinary good sense, and of uncommon powers of mind; whose letters, embracing a wide variety of subjects, are as truly valuable as those of any other writer, and likely to be of as permanent interest, and to afford as lasting gratification; but especially of a woman of great strength of character, formed by religious principle and penetrated by religious sentiment, the vital principle of whose moral being was faith in God and immortality, whose sympathies were warm and diffusive, and who was full of disinterested kindness.

ART. VI.1. Leçon sur la Statique Chimique des Etres Organisés, Professée par M. DUMAS, pour la Clôture de son Cours à l'Ecole de Médecine. Paris: Fortier, Masson, & Co. 1841. 8vo. pp. 48. 2. The Chemical and Physiological Balance of Organic Nature; an Essay. By J. DUMAS and J. B. BousSINGAULT, Members of the Institute of France. [An English Translation of the Third French Edition.] London: H. Bailliere. 1844. 12mo. pp. 156. 3. Lectures on the Applications of Chemistry and Geology to Agriculture. By JAMES F. W. JOHNSTON, F. R. S., etc. Edinburgh Blackwood & Sons. 8vo. New York: Wiley & Putnam. 12mo.

4. A Treatise on the Forces which produce the Organization of Plants; with an Appendix, containing several Memoirs on Capillary Attraction, Electricity, and the Chemical Action of Light. By JOHN WILLIAM DRAPER, M. D., Professor of Chemistry in the University of New York. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1844. 4to. pp. 216.

We need not inform our readers, that the subjects with which these works are occupied have recently excited much attention and interest. Few strictly scientific treatises have been so generally read in this country as Professor Liebig's

volumes on chemistry, in its applications to vegetable and animal physiology. They have not only been repeatedly issued in rival editions by respectable publishers, but the two comely octavos have been transformed into a couple of almost illegible pamphlets, and widely scattered over the land in the form of cheap literature." We are relieved, therefore, from the misgiving we might naturally feel at placing works with such uninviting scientific titles at the head of our article; and may, without hesitation, proceed to give some account of them.

Professor Dumas is at the head of the French school of organic chemistry. His eloquent discourse on the prominent features of the life of plants and animals, considered under a chemical point of view, was pronounced at the close of his annual course of lectures at the School of Medicine, in the spring of 1841, and it forms a spirited summary of the principles which he had very fully developed during that session, and in preceding years. To the second edition was appended a series of explanatory and historical documents; and these were increased in the third, of which the second work on our list is an English translation. A portion of the appendix, and of the researches upon which these striking generalizations are based, was furnished by the zealous fellow-laborer of Dumas, M. Boussingault, whose name is accordingly associated with his own upon the title-page.

Professor Johnston's volume consists of a full series of lectures, the greater part of which were actually addressed to an audience of practical agriculturists, the Farmers' Club of Durham, England; and we are free to say, that, for the amount of useful matter it comprises, and for just scientific views happily and plainly applied to practical use, the work is unrivalled. It embraces a wider field, and enters into more specific details, than the plan of Professor Liebig's works permitted; and is, therefore, more directly available to the cultivator of the soil, whose wants it was especially intended to supply. Although addressed not to men of science, but to farmers, it will bear the test of scientific criticism, as such a work should do, perhaps above all others. One should be a complete master of a science, in order safely to teach its applications to practice. No idea is more fallacious, than that those who know little of a science may yet be qualified to write elementary books for those who know nothing. Those who have but a pittance of scientific knowledge had - No. 126. 14

VOL. LX.

best give God thanks, and make no boast of it; and as for their writing, let that appear when there is no need of such vanity."

Professor Draper's large and handsome quarto volume is a work of higher pretensions. It is addressed to the learned, and purports to contain important discoveries in the domain of science.

"The time has now arrived," he announces in his Preface, "when both vegetable and animal physiology are to have their foundations laid on chemistry and natural philosophy, the only basis which can elevate them from their present deplorable posi tion to that of true sciences. It is with this impression, that the explanations which I have given in this book, of the mode by which light acts in determining organization, and of the mechanical causes by which such organized matter is transmitted from point to point of living systems, (for these are the leading facts which this work is designed to illustrate,) are offered to the attention of chemical philosophers."

The italics are our own. The preface bears the date of October 1, 1844. It is, of course, incumbent upon us to give our readers some general account of these discoveries. The problem which Dr. Draper has undertaken to investigate is a very interesting and fundamental one; and towards its elucidation much has already been done, and more may be expected from chemical and physical research. So imposing a volume of original researches demands our special attention. But as our author, writing much in the manner of a popular lecturer, and taking nothing for granted, although ostensibly addressing chemical philosophers," seldom distinguishes between that which is to be deemed original, and that which mere sucklings in science might be supposed to know, it may be worth while, in the first place, to favor our unlearned readers with a sketch of those general conclusions, which the vegetable physiologists and chemists had already obtained. This we shall attempt to do, after our own fashion, taking the vegetable kingdom as our startingpoint, and pursuing the course which, in our view, leads to the most natural and clear exposition of the general phenomena and results of vegetation, considered under a chemico-physiological aspect.

Of what, it may be asked, do plants essentially consist? Whence do they obtain the matter which enters into their

composition, - that is, their food? And what changes does the plant impress upon the materials it feeds on? The answer to these questions brings to view the reciprocal relations and influences of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, and enables us to comprehend the office of plants in the general economy of the world.

The food and the elementary composition of plants stand in a necessary relation to each other. Since it is absurd to suppose that vegetables possess the power of creating any element, whatever they contain must have been derived from without. Their composition, therefore, indicates their food. If we have learned the chemical composition of a vegetable, and also what it gives back to the soil and the air, we know what it must have derived from without; that is, its food.. Or, if we have ascertained what the plant takes from the soil and air, and what it returns to them, we have learned its chemical composition, the difference between these two. And when we compare the nature and condition of the materials which the plant takes from the soil and the air with what it gives back to them, we may comprehend the influences of vegetation upon the mineral kingdom.

If we consider, then, the materials of which plants are composed, we shall learn what their food must necessarily contain. These materials are of two kinds; the difference between which may readily be made apparent. Every one knows that water, that universal solvent, as it percolates the soil, dissolves a portion of the various earthy matters it meets with. These, being drawn into the plant with the water which the roots imbibe, are at length deposited either in the wood or the leaves, from which the greater part of the water at length escapes by evaporation; they form the ashes which are left on burning a leaf or a piece of wood. Now, although it is true, that these earthy or mineral matters are often turned to account by the plant, and although some of them are necessary in the formation of certain products of certain plants, as, the flinty matter which gives needful firmness to the stalks of wheat, and the phosphate of magnesia, the iron, &c., which always exist in the grain, yet none of them are essential to simple vegetation, which may, and often does, proceed as well without them. These materials, whose presence is in some sort accidental, may be called the earthy, mineral, or inorganic constituents of plants.

« PreviousContinue »