Зображення сторінки

only by the accretion of particles-layer upon at which water freezes; air must have free layer, without any chemical change taking access to the seed, which, if placed so deep in the place as an essentiality. The sun may shine soil as to prevent the permeation of the atmofor ages upon a stone without quickening it

sphere never germinates. Under favourable into life, changing its constitution, or adding circumstances, the life-quickening processes to its mass. Organic matter consists of ar begin; the starch, which is a compound of rangements of cells or sacs, and the increase carbon and oxygen, is converted into sugar by in size is due to the absorption of gaseous the absorption of another equivalent of oxygen matter, through the fine tissue of which they from the air; and we have an evident proof are composed. The gas—a compound of carbon of this change in the sweetness which most and oxygen-is decomposed by the excitement seeds acquire in the process, the most familiar induced by light; and the solid matter thus example of which we have in the conversion obtained is employed in building a new cell of barley into malt. The sugar thus formed or producing actual growth, a true function furnishes the food to the now living creation, of life, in all the processes of which matter is which, in a short period, shoots its first leaves constantly undergoing chemical change. above the soil; and these, which rising from

The simplest developments of vegetable life their dark chamber are white, quickly become are the formation of confervæ upon water, and green under the operations of light. of lichens upon the surface of the rock. In In the process of germination a species of chemical constitution, these present no very slow combustion takes place, and-as in the remarkable differences from the cultivated chemical processes of animal life and in those flower which adorns our garden, or the tree of active ignition-carbonic acid gas, composed which has risen in its pride amidst the chang of oxygen and charcoal, or carbon, is evolved. ing seasons of many centuries. Each alike Thus, by a mystery which our science does not have derived their solid constituents from the enable us to reach, the spark of life is kindled atmosphere, and the chemical changes in all -life commences its work—the plant grows. are equally dependant upon the powers which The first conditions of vegetable growth are, have their mysterious origin in the great centre therefore, singularly similar to those which are of our planetary system.

found to prevail in the animal economy. The Without dwelling upon the processes which leaf-bud is no sooner above the soil than a new take place in the lower forms of vegetable set of conditions begin ; the plant takes carlife, the purposes of this essay will be fully bonic acid from the atmosphere, and having, answered by taking an example from amongst in virtue of its vitality, by the agency of the higher class of plants, and examining its luminous power, decomposed this gas, it reconditions, from the germination of the seed tains the carbon, and pours forth the oxygen to the full development of the flower-rich in to the air. This process is stated to be a form, colour, and odour.

function of vitality; but as this has been In the seed-cell we find, by minute exa variously described by different authors, it is mination, the embryo of the future plant care important to state with some minuteness what fully preserved in its envelope of starch and does really take place. gluten. The investigations which have been car The plant absorbs carbonic acid from the ried on upon the vitality of seeds appear to prove atmosphere through the under surfaces of the that, under favourable conditions, this life-germ leaves, and the whole of the bark; it at the may be maintained for centuries. Grains of | same time derives an additional portion from wheat, which had been found in the hands of the moisture which is taken up by the roots, an Egyptian mummy, germinated and grew: | and conveyed “to the topmost twig" by the these grains were produced, in all probability, force of capillary attraction, and another power, more than three thousand years since ; they called endosmosis, which is exerted in a most had been placed, at her burial, in the hands of striking manner by living organic tissues. a priestess of Isis, and in the deep repose of This mysterious force is shown in a pleasing the Egyptian catacomb were preserved to tell way by covering some spirits of wine and us, in the eighteenth century, the story of that water in a wine-glass with a piece of bladder; wheat which Joseph sold to his brethren. the water will escape, leaving the strong spirit

The process of germination is essentially a behind. chemical one. The seed is placed in the soil, Independently of the action of light the excluded from the light, supplied with a due plant may be regarded as a mere machine; quantity of moisture, and maintained at a the fluids and gases which it absorbs, pass certain temperature, which must be above that off in a condition but very little changed

--- just as water would strain through a 1 with the oxygen and carbon, and altogether sponge or a porous stone. The consequence new and more complicated operations are in of this is the blanching or etiolation of the activity. plant, which we produce by our artificial Such are the phenomena of vegetable life treatment of celery and sea-kale,-the for which the researches of our philosophers have mation of the carbonaceous compound called developed. This curious order--this regular chlorophyle, which is the green colouring progression --showing itself at well-marked matter of the leaves, being entirely checked in epochs, is now known to be dependent upon darkness. If such a plant is brought into the solar influences; the light, its dormant powers are awakened, and,

“ Bright effluence of bright essence increate” instead of being little other than a sponge through which fluids circulate, it exerts most works its mysterious wonders on every organic remarkable chemical powers; the carbonic acid form. Much is still involved in mystery ; but of the air and water is decomposed; its char to the call of science some strange truths have coal is retained to add to the wood of the been made manifest to man, and of some of plant, and the oxygen is set free again to the these the phenomena must now be explained. atmosphere. In this process is exhibited one Germination is a chemical change which of the most beautiful illustrations of the har takes place most readily in darkness; vegetable mony which prevails through all the great growth is due to the secretion of carbon under phenomena of nature with which we are ac the agency of light; and the processes of quainted-the mutual dependence of the vege floriation are shown to involve some new and table and animal kingdoms.

compound operations : these three states must In the animal economy there is a constant be distinctly appreciated. production of carbonic acid, and the beautiful The sunbeam comes to us as a flood of vegetable kingdom, spread over the earth in pellucid light, usually colourless; if we disturb such infinite variety, requires this carbonic acid this white beam, as by compelling it to pass for its support. Constantly removing from the through a triangular piece of glass, we break air the pernicious agent produced by the animal it up into coloured bands, which we call the world, and giving back that oxygen which is spectrum, in which we have such an order of required as the life-quickening element by the chromatic rays as are seen in the rainbow of a animal races, the balance of affinities is con summer shower. These coloured rays are now stantly maintained by the phenomena of vege known to be the sources of all the tints by table growth. This interesting inquiry will which nature adorns the surface of the earth, form the subject of another essay.

or art imitates, in its desire to create the beauThe decomposition of carbonic acid is di tiful. These coloured bands have not the same rectly dependent upon luminous agency; from illuminating power, nor do they possess the the impact of the earliest morning ray to the same heat-giving property. The yellow rays period when the sun reaches the zenith, the give the most LIGHT; the red rays have the excitation of that vegetable vitality by which function of HEAT in the highest degree. Beyond the chemical change is effected regularly in- | these properties the sunbeam possesses another, creases. As the solar orb sinks towards the which is the power of producing CHEMICAL horizon the chemical activity diminishes—the CHANGE--of effecting those magical results sun sets—the action is reduced to its minimum which we witness in the photographic pro--the plant, in the repose of darkness, passes cesses, by which the beams illuminating any to that state of rest which is as necessary to object are made to delineate it upon the prethe vegetating races as sleep is to the wearied pared tablet of the artist. animal.

It has been suspected that these three pheThese are two well-marked stages in the nomena are not due to the same agency, but life of a plant, germination and vegetation that, associated in the sunbeam, we have are exerted under different conditions; the LIGHT, producing all the blessings of vision, time of flowering arrives, and another change and throwing the veil of colour over all things occurs, the processes of forming the alkaline -HEAT, maintaining that temperature over and acid juices, of producing the oil; wax, our globe which is necessary to the perfection and resin, and of secreting those nitrogenous of living organisms—and a third principle, compounds which are found in the seed, are in ACTINISM, by which the chemical changes alfull activity. Carbonic acid is now evolved luded to are effected. We possess the power, by and oxygen is retained; hydrogen and nitrogen the use of coloured media, of separating these are also forced, as it were, into combination principles from each other, and of analyzing their effects. A yellow glass allows light to the summer advances, light, relatively to the pass through it most freely, but it obstructs other forces, is largely increased : at this actinism almost entirely; a deep-blue glass, season the trees of the forest, the herb of on the contrary, prevents the permeation of | the valley, and the cultivated plants which light, but it offers no interruption to the actinic, adorn our dwellings, are all alike adding to or chemical rays; a red glass, again, cuts off their wood. Autumn comes on, and then heat, most of the rays, except those which have pe so necessary for ripening grain, is found to culiarly a calorific, or heat-giving power. exist in considerable excess. It is curious,

With this knowledge we proceed in our ex too, that the autumnal heat has properties periments, and learn some of the mysteries of peculiarly its own,so decidedly distinguished nature's chemistry. If, above the soil in which from the ordinary heat, that Sir John Herschel the seed is placed, we fix a deep pure yellow and Mrs. Somerville have adopted a term to glass, the chemical change which marks ger distinguish it. The peculiar browning or mination is prevented ; if, on the contrary, we scorching rays of autumn are called the paraemploy a blue one, it is greatly accelerated; thermic rays: they possess a remarkable cheseeds, indeed, placed beneath the soil, covered mical action added to their calorific one; and with a cobalt blue finger-glass, will germinate to this is due those complicated phenomena many days sooner than such as may be exposed already briefly described. to the ordinary influences of sunshine ;-this

In these experiments carefully tried, we are proves the necessity of the principle actinism enabled to imitate the conditions of nature, to this first stage of vegetable life. Plants, and supply, at any time, those states of solar however, made to grow under the influences radiation which belong to the varying seasons of such blue media present much the same of the year. conditions as those which are reared in the Such is a rapid sketch of the mysteries of dark; they are succulent instead of woody, a flower; “Consider the lilies of the field, how and have yellow leaves and white stalks, they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; indeed, the formation of leaves is prevented, and yet I say unto you, Solomon in all his glory and all the vital energy of the plant is exerted was not arrayed like one of these." in the production of stalk. The chemical Under the influence of the sunbeam, vegeprinciple of the sun's rays, alone, is not there table life is awakened, continued, and comfore sufficient; remove the plant to the in pleted; a wondrous alchemy is effected; the fluence of light, as separated from actinism, change in the condition of the solar radiations by the action of yellow media, and wood is determines the varying conditions of vegetable formed abundantly, the plant grows most vitality; and in its progress those transmutahealthfully, and the leaves assume that dark tions occur, which at once give beauty to the green which belongs to tropical climes or to exterior world, and provide for the animal our most brilliant summers. Light is thus races the necessary food by which their existproved to be the exciting agent in effecting ence is maintained. The contemplation of inthose chemical decompositions which have al fluences such as these realizes in the human ready been described ; but under the influence soul that sweet feeling which, with Keats, of isolated light it is found that plants will finds that not flower. When, however, the subject of

“ A thing of beauty is a joy for ever; our experiment is brought under the influence

Its loveliness increasing, it will never of a red glass, particularly of that variety in Pass into nothingness, but still will keep which a beautifully pure red is produced by A bower quiet for us, and a sleep oxide of gold, the whole process of floriation

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet

breathing. and the perfection of the seed is accomplished.

Careful and long-continued observations have proved that in the spring, when the process of

“ Such the sun and moon, germination is most active, the chemical rays

Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon

For simple sheep; and such are daffodils, are the most abundant in the sunbeam. As With the green world they live in.”


In our preceding remarks on Italy, and on among the most degraded and abject there the men who are likely, from their abilities or should always be found, when most needed, position in society, to exercise an important some master spirits, who, rising above the influence upon her destiny, happy or sinister, trammels that surround them, not only shake according to the principles by which that in off their own fetters, but turn all their energies fluence may be directed, we have endeavoured to the relieving of others also from them. They to account for the apathy which England in | look around-they call on their more fortugeneral has shown towards Italian affairs, by nately situated fellow-creatures for aid-and presuming that she is in reality little acquainted shall not the call be responded to? Yes, with them in their true aspect; and that in surely; as long as that sacred bond of symproportion as she shall be enabled to form an pathy exists by which the human race is held impartial judgment of them, she will extend to

together. But they must show their claim to the Italians that generous sympathy which she this sympathy. They complain—they must never long withholds from any cause that she show their complaint to be well founded. sees to be based upon justice and honour.

“ Thrice is he arm'd who hath his quarrel just.” Indeed, to be utterly indifferent to the welfare of Italy, to the physical comforts and moral and in England, at any rate, none but a just happiness of her gifted children, would be to quarrel will find champions. Let us then evince ingratitude for all the refinements, so ascertain, if we can, how far the quarrel of the cial and intellectual, for which Europe is Italians with their rulers is just. They comindebted chiefly to her, who has been to modern plain of their government--is their complaint ages all that Greece was, to surrounding coun just ? Let us inquire. We will not go back tries, in the days of paganism.

century after century, through the annals of Before, then, we resume our biographical oppression and misrule : where is the country sketches of Italy's “ Foremost Men," we will that could not show the same, at one period or give a brief statement of the circumstances other? No: “let by-gones be by-gones ;" that have called forth the energies of those excepting as far as occasional reference to them men; what they are in search of, what they may be useful, from the prudential considerarequire, what they wish for ; whether they tion that what has been may be again, if not have a right to demand it, and, if refused, to guarded against in good time. So for the endeavour to obtain it; leaving the delicate present we will confine ourselves to the prequestion of “how ?" the modus operandi, for sent, and limit our inquiries into the actual discussions more purely political than we pre estate and administration of “Imperial Rome;" tend to enter into.

for if absolutism be any claim to that proud All historical evidence, as well as the daily title which she once assumed, she has as good experience of civilized society, will bear us out a right to it now as Imperial Paris may have, in the assertion that a country can only be under the fiat of her wonder-working dictator. happy and prosperous, intellectually, morally, In considering modern Rome, however, we and physically, in proportion as it is justly, cannot help referring to ancient times; for wisely, and virtuously governed. Under a this very good reason, that, with respect to her tyrannical government, the national character, constitution, she has nothing modern in her however happily it may have been endowed whole composition. by nature, must deteriorate, physically or The Roman government is at this moment, morally; almost invariably it does so in both as it has ever been, a government entirely sur respects.-An oppressed people, forbidden to generis, and therefore difficult to be compregive utterance to their complaints, to assert hended by any one unacquainted with its their rights as rational beings, gradually suc internal principles. All other governments in cumb to brute force, and take refuge in sen the world are changeable, according to times suality and the vices invariably attendant upon and circumstances, and are reformed or modiit. Under this sort of régime, however, whole fied, according to the different conditions of nations would finally disappear from the face different generations ; for, as reasonable goof the earth, did not the wisdom of Him who vernments, governing rational beings, they aim rules over the whole of it decree, that even ! at benefiting civilisation, by keeping pace with


civil progress. The Papal government alone maintains other principles : pretending to derive its existence, and its consequent claims to implicit deference and passive obedience, from the divinity of the Word of God, and the sanctity of Christian revelation, it professes to be immoveable, immutable, and infallible; and hence it of necessity abhors all change-at least all change from bad to better; though from bad to worse it by no means sets itself so obstinately against.

Many governments, aiming at absolutism, have promulgated the doctrine that the right of ruling is conferred by God; but none of them have ever carried this divine right so far as to attest that the laws framed by themselves were unalterable, as descending from on high.

To the Papal government alone, belongs this monstrous and absurd falsehood. Its civil legislation consists in a heterogeneous mixture of sundry ancient Roman laws, such as are con- | tained in the digest of the Justinian code and the Pandects. How is it to be expected that decrees and regulations promulgated centuries ago, under totally different forms of government and states of society, can be equally applicable to the manners and requirements of the present generation? These laws, moreover, are subjected to all the modifications of the Canon law, which is declared to be of so far more noble a character than any other, as to be held supreme in the Roman states. Let us then see what this redoubtable law is, and in what its excellence may consist.

In remote ages, times of barbarism and ignorance, the Church, and especially the Roman Curia, undertook to decide and decree in lay affairs—a right which properly belongs solely to the civil government; these decisions and decrees were put forth sometimes by the Roman Pontiff, sometimes merely by individual bishops : they were first formed into serial order by the monk, Gratian, in 1030; they were thus continued by Raimondo di Pennaforte, in 1230; by Clement V., and John XXII. in 1317; these were respectively termed Decretali, Clementine, and others more recently, and we may add more appropriately, Stravaganti.

It is these united decrees that form the Canon law, through which the popes, in the middle ages, ventured upon every kind of usurpation; even so far as to declare themselves supreme judges, and absolute masters of ali monarchies, and the rightful sovereigns and lawful distributors of all newly discovered territories. This law, according to the assertion of the Church of Rome, is sacred, immutable and unalienable because it is not derived

from human reason, and the contingencies of the age, like other human legislative systems, but from an anterior divine right, from the very source of religious authority and faith, from Christianity itself. It is the unjust pretensions founded upon it that have kept the Papacy in a continual struggle with the whole of civilized Europe for the last five centuries. Science, reason, and progress have constantly resisted it, as an obstinate and inveterate enemy; and civilization has so far overthrown it, everywhere else, that we have been obliged to enter into this account of it, as it yet exists, in its last stronghold, Rome, in order to make the influence it still maintains there, and its effects upon the unfortunate people still subject to its rule, evident to our readers.

In all civilized countries, it is a grand and fundamental axiom, that in the eye of the law all men are equal. But, according to the Canon law, a priest is held to be so far elevated above his fellow-creatures, as not to be subject to the common judgment of an ordinary tribunal. A priest or clerk, therefore, only depends on his bishop, or on the ecclesiastical authorities. This privilege extends not merely to his personal safety, but to his property and interests also ; not only his ecclesiastical benefices, but likewise his private fortune, hereditary or acquired. Hence, a layman, who is unfortunate enough to have a clerk or priest for his debtor, cannot summon him before a civil tribunal, but only before that of the bishop, or some other ecclesiastical authority: these worthies, again, being ignorant themselves of the law, are obliged to keep an auditor, who is nominally paid with a pittarce miserable enough, but who generally manages to make himself amends for its deficiencies by his power over the fortunes and properties of the citizens, thus submitted to him, instead of, as they ought to be, to the collegial tribunals which were introduced into the Papal States, under the government of the regno Italico, or kingdom of Italy.

This absurd and much abused privilege of the Canon law, carries its claims so high as to assert a retrospective influence on such individuals as may formerly have been clerks, and have afterwards assumed the secular garb; and if any public company or society should be found to contain one single clerk or ecclesiastic, any lawsuits connected with that company or society, either as plaintiffs or defendants, even if entirely of a commercial nature, must be submitted to the ecclesiastical tribunal, which has the absolute power of decision on the case ; although, by the Canon law itself, priests are forbidden to interfere in commercial matters, in

« НазадПродовжити »