A Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery
by Benziger Brothers
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Enlarged and Revised Edition.




This book, a reprint of a successful English publication, has been so enlarged as to be to all intents and purposes new. It has been carefully revised by a Reverend gentleman, who for some time filled the chair of Physics and Chemistry in one of our colleges.

Recent inventions and improvements are described in a simple, popular style, so as to be easily understood by all, and short notices are given of prominent inventors and scientists. The paragraphs relating to doctrinal matters conform in every respect to the teachings of the Church.

A feature which will commend the book to every teacher is the definitions of difficult words and terms, following the paragraphs in which such words occur.

Technical language is avoided as much as possible, so as to enable young pupils to become familiarly acquainted with the various phenomena of nature, the leading characteristics and general history of the objects of the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, and the fundamental truths of the arts and sciences.

The illustrations are of a superior order, and a very complete Index, which will be appreciated by every teacher, supplements the book. In a word, no pains have been spared to enhance the value of the work, and render it an important auxiliary in the dissemination of useful and entertaining knowledge.

The publishers beg to acknowledge their obligations to the Sisters of Mercy, Loretto, Pa., to whose kindness they are indebted for many valuable suggestions.

In the hope that the book may be found suited to the accomplishment of its aim, it is respectfully submitted to schools and instructors of youth, who are the best judges of its merits.



I. Dew, Water, Rain, Snow, Hail, Atmosphere, Wind, Lightning, Thunder, Electricity, Twilight, and the Aurora Borealis

II. Corn, Barley, Pearl Barley, Oats, Rye, Potatoes, Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate

III. Calico, Cotton, Cloth, Wool, Baize, Linen, Flax, Hemp, Diaper, Holland, Canvas, and Flannel

IV. Cocoa, Toddy, Cherries, Bark, Cork, Cochineal, Cloves, Cinnamon, and Cassia

V. Bombazine, Crape, Camlet, Cambric, Lace, Silk, Velvet, and Mohair

VI. Currants, Raisins, Figs, Rice, Sugar, Sugar Candy, &c., Sago, Millet, Ginger, Nutmeg, Mace, Pimento or Allspice, Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper

VII. Glass, Mirrors, Earthenware, Porcelain, Needles, Pins, Paper, Printing, Parchment, and Vellum

VIII. Capers, Almonds, Oranges, Lemons, Citrons, Limes, Olives, Oils, Melons, Tamarinds, and Dates

IX. Hats, Stockings, Shoes, Gloves, Leather, Furs, and Ink

X. Asbestus, Salt, Coal, Iron, Copper, Brass, Zinc, and Lapis Calaminaris

XI. Yams, Mangoes, Bread-Fruit, Shea or Butter Tree, Cow Tree, Water Tree, Licorice, Manna, Opium, Tobacco, and Gum

XII. Spectacles, Mariner's Compass, Barometer, Thermometer, Watches, Clocks, Telescope, Microscope, Gunpowder, Steam Engine, and Electro-Magnetic Telegraph

XIII. Soap, Candles, Tallow Tree, Spermaceti, Wax, Mahogany, India Rubber or Caoutchouc, Sponge, Coral, Lime, Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Gas, Hydrogen, Chalk, and Marble

XIV. Gold, Silver, Lead, Tin, Platina, Sulphur, Gems or Precious Stones—as Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, Turquois, Pearls, Mother-of-Pearl, and Ivory

XV. Starch, Arrow-root, Tapioca, Isinglass, Caviare, the Vine, Wine, Gin, Rum, Brandy, Vinegar, Indigo, Gamboge, Logwood, Tar, Pitch, Camphor, Musk, Myrrh, Frankincense, and Turpentine

XVI. Bricks, Mortar, Granite, Slate, Limestone, or Calcareous Rocks, Steel, Earths, Volcanoes, and Earthquakes

XVII. Architecture, Sculpture, Use of Money, and Navigation

XVIII. Music, Painting, Poetry, Astronomy, Arts and Sciences, Art of Writing, and Chemistry

XIX. Attraction, Tides, Gravity, Artesian Wells, Air, Aneroid Barometer, Ear-Trumpet, Stethoscope, Audiphone, Telephone, Phonograph, Microphone, Megaphone, Tasimeter, Bathometer, Anemometer, Chronometer

XX. Light, Lime Light, Magnesium Light, Electric Light, Rainbow, Prism, Spectrum, Colors, Photography, Camera Obscura, Stereoscope, Kaleidoscope

XXI. Electricity, Electric Currents, Electric Battery, Electrotyping, Stereotyping, Telegraph, Ocean Cable, Lightning Rod, The Gulf Stream, The Mt. Cenis Tunnel, The Suez Canal, Suspension Bridges, Eminent Americans






What is Dew?

Moisture collected from the atmosphere by the action of cold. During the day, the powerful heat of the sun causes to arise from the earth and water a moist vapor, which, after the sun sinks below the horizon, is condensed by the cold, and falls in the form of dew. Dews are more copious in the Spring and Autumn than at any other season; in warm countries than in cold ones: because of the sudden changes of temperature. Egypt abounds in dews all the summer; for the air being too hot to condense the vapors in the day-time, they never gather into clouds and form rain.

Horizon, the line which bounds the view on all sides, so that the earth and sky appear to meet. A Greek word, from the verb signifying to mark boundaries.

Temperature, degree of heat or cold.

Condense, to cause the particles of a body to approach or unite more closely.

What are its uses?

It cools and refreshes the vegetable creation, and prevents it from being destroyed by the heat of the sun. All hot countries where there is little or no rain are therefore blessed with this provision by the all-bountiful Creator, to render them luxuriant and inhabitable; and the dews which fall are so copious, that the earth is as deeply soaked with them during the night as if a heavy rain had fallen. For this reason also it is, that we so often read in the Bible of the "dew of Heaven" being promised to the Israelites as a signal favor.

Luxuriant, fertile, flourishing.

Signal, remarkable, eminent.

From what does the vapor originate?

Vapor is water, combined with a still greater quantity of caloric,—that is, an imponderable and subtile form of matter, which causes the sensation of heat; and which, driving asunder the particles of the water, renders it aeriform.

Imponderable, without sensible weight.

Subtile, thin, not dense, or compact.

Particle, a small portion of matter.

Aeriform, having the form of air.

What is Water?

The fluid which covers more than three-fifths of the surface of our globe, and which is necessary for the life and health of the animal and vegetable creation; for without water there would be neither rain nor dew, and everything would perish. It is likewise a necessary beverage for man and the inferior animals.

Beverage, drink, liquor for drinking.

In how many states do we find Water?

In four: 1st, solid, as in ice, snow, hail, &c.; 2d, fluid, as in its common form; 3d, aeriform, as in steam; and 4th, in a state of union with other matter. Its most simple state is that of ice, which is water deprived of a certain portion of its caloric: crystallization then takes place, and the water becomes solid and is called ice.

Crystallization, the process by which the parts of a solid body, separated by solution or fusion, are again brought into the solid form. If the process is slow, the figure assumed is regular and bounded by plane and smooth surfaces.

Solution, the diffusion of a solid through some liquid.

Fusion, melting, or rendering fluid by heat.

From what cause is the Water deprived of its caloric?

From the coldness of the atmosphere: underneath the poles of our globe it is mostly solid; there it is similar to the hardest rocks, and may be cut with a chisel, like stone or marble. This great solidity is occasioned by the low temperature of the surrounding air; and in very cold countries ice may be ground so fine as to be blown away by the wind, and will still be ice.

Poles, the extremities or ends of the axis, an imaginary line, supposed to be drawn through the centre of the earth; or when applied to the heavens, the two points directly over them.

Is ice the only instance of Water existing in a state of solidity?

No; it is found in a solid state in many minerals, as in marble, &c., and is then called water of Crystallization. It is essential, in many cases, to their solidity and transparency.

Essential, necessary.

Transparency, clearness, the power of transmitting light.

Does Nature decompose Water in any of her operations?

Yes: every living vegetable has the power of decomposing water, by a secret process peculiar to itself. Fish, too, and all cold-blooded amphibious animals are gifted with the same power.

Decomposing, separating a mixed body into its several parts.

Amphibious, able to live both in water and out of it.

Of what use is this power to vegetables?

The water which they decompose affords them nourishment for the support of their vital juices, and enables them, by combining the fluid gases which compose it with those of the air and the soil, to form their different products; while the superfluous gas is abundantly given out by their leaves, to refresh the spent air, and render it wholesome for the animals that breathe it.

Vital, belonging to life, necessary to existence.

Superfluous, unnecessary, not wanted.

What is Rain?

The condensed aqueous vapors raised in the atmosphere by the sun and wind, converted into clouds, which fall in rain, snow, hail, or mist: their falling is occasioned by their own weight in a collision produced by contrary currents of wind, from the clouds passing into a colder part of the air, or by electricity. If the vapors are more copious, and rise a little higher, they form a mist or fog, which is visible to the eye; higher still they produce rain. Hence we may account for the changes of the weather: why a cold summer is always a wet one—a warm, a dry one.

Aqueous, watery; consisting of water.

Collision, a striking together, a clash, a meeting.

Electricity, a natural agent existing in all bodies (see page 18).

What seasons are more liable to rain than others?

The Spring and Autumn are generally the most rainy seasons, the vapors rise more plentifully in Spring; and in the Autumn, as the sun recedes from us and the cold increases, the vapors, which lingered above us during the summer heats, fall more easily.

Recede, to fall back, to retreat.

What is Snow?

Rain congealed by cold in the atmosphere, which causes it to fall to the earth in white flakes. Snow fertilizes the ground by defending the roots of plants from the intenser cold of the air and the piercing winds.

Congealed, turned by the force of cold from a fluid to a solid state; hardened.

Fertilize, to render fruitful.

Intenser, raised to a higher degree, more powerful.

What is Hail?

Drops of rain frozen in their passage through cold air. Hail assumes various figures according to the degrees of heat or cold through which it passes, being sometimes round, flat, &c.

What is the Atmosphere?

The mass of aeriform fluid which encompasses the earth on all sides: it extends about fifty miles above its surface. Air is the elastic fluid of which it is composed.

Elastic, having the power of springing back, or recovering its former figure after the removal of any external pressure which has altered that figure. When the force which compresses the air is removed, it expands and resumes its former state.

What are the uses of air?

It is necessary to the well-being of man, since without it neither he nor any animal or vegetable could exist. If it were not for atmospheric air, we should be unable to converse with each other; we should know nothing of sound or smell; or of the pleasures which arise from the variegated prospects which surround us: it is to the presence of air and carbonic acid that water owes its agreeable taste. Boiling deprives it of the greater part of these, and renders it insipid.

Variegated, diversified, changed; adorned with different colors.

Insipid, tasteless.

What is Wind?

Air in motion with any degree of velocity.

What is Lightning?

The effect of electricity in the clouds. A flash of lightning is simply a stream of the electric fluid passing from the clouds to the earth, from the earth to the clouds, or from one cloud to another. Lightning usually strikes the highest and most pointed objects, as high hills, trees, spires, masts of ships, &c.

What is Thunder?

The report which accompanies the electrical union of the clouds: or the echoes of the report between them and the earth. Thunder is caused by a sudden discharge of electrical matter collected in the air, by which vibrations are produced, which give rise to the sound.

What is Electricity?

One of those agents passing through the earth and all substances, without giving any outward signs of its presence, when at rest; yet when active, often producing violent and destructive effects. It is supposed to be a highly elastic fluid, capable of moving through matter. Clouds owe their form and existence, probably, to it; and it passes through all substances, but more easily through metals, water, the human body, &c., which are called conductors, than through air, glass, and silk, which are called non-conductors. When bodies are not surrounded with non-conductors, the electricity escapes quickly into the earth.

To what part of bodies is Electricity confined?

To their surfaces, as the outside may be electric, and the inside in a state of neutrality. The heat produced by an electric shock is very powerful, but is only accompanied by light when the fluid is obstructed in its passage. The production and condensation of vapor is a great source of the atmospheric electricity.

Condensation, the act of making any body dense or compact; that is, of bringing its parts into closer union.

In what other sense is the term Electricity employed?

This term is also employed to designate that important branch of knowledge which relates to the properties shown by certain bodies when rubbed against, or otherwise brought in contact with, each other, to attract substances, and emit sparks of fire.

Designate, to point out by some particular token.

Emit, to send forth, to throw out.

Whence is the word derived?

From electron, the Greek word for amber, a yellow transparent substance, remarkable for its electrical power when rubbed: amber is of a resinous nature, and is collected from the sea-shore, or dug from the earth, in many parts of the world. It is employed in the manufacture of beads and other toys, on account of its transparency; is of some use in medicine, and in the making of varnishes.

Transparent, clear, capable of being seen through.

Resinous, containing resin, a gummy vegetable juice.

Name a few substances possessing this remarkable property.

Silks of all kinds; the hair and fur of animals, paper, sulphur, and some other minerals; most of the precious stones; the paste of which false gems are made; and many other substances used by us in the common affairs of life, are susceptible of electrical excitement; among domestic animals the cat furnishes a remarkable instance. When dry and warm, the back of almost any full-grown cat (the darker its color the better) can be excited by rubbing it with the hand in the direction of the hair, a process which is accompanied with a slight snapping noise, and in the dark by flashes of pale blue light. When a piece of glass is rubbed with silk, or a stick of red sealing-wax with woollen cloth, each substance acquires the property of attracting and repelling feathers, straws, threads of cotton, and other light substances; the substances just mentioned as highly electric are, however, merely specimens. All objects, without exception, most probably are capable of being electrically excited; but some require more complicated contrivances to produce it than others.

Electric, having the properties of electricity.

Susceptible, disposed to admit easily.

Repelling, the act of driving back.

Complicated, formed by the union of several parts in one.

Is there not a machine by which we are enabled to obtain large supplies of electric power at pleasure?

Yes; the electrical machine. It is made of different forms and sizes: for common purposes those of the simplest form are the best. A common form of the machine consists of a circular plate of glass, which can be turned about a horizontal axis by means of a suitable handle. This plate turns between two supports, and near its upper and lower edges are two pairs of cushions, usually made of leather, stuffed with horse-hair and coated with a mixture of zinc, tin, and mercury, called an amalgam. These cushions are the rubbers for producing friction, and are connected with the earth by means of a metal chain or rod. Two large hollow cylinders of brass with globular ends, each supported by two glass pillars, constitute the reservoir for receiving the electricity. They are called the prime conductors, and are supplied with U-shaped rods of metal, furnished with points along their sides, called combs, for the purpose of receiving the electricity from the glass plate, the arms of the U being held upon either side. The other ends of the conductors are connected by a rod from the middle of which projects another rod terminating in a knob, for delivering the spark.

On turning the plate, a faint snapping sound is heard, and when the room is darkened, a spark is seen to be thrown out from the knob projecting from the prime conductors.

Many curious and interesting experiments may be performed by means of the machine, illustrating the general properties of electricity. For instance: a person standing on an insulated bench, that is, a bench with glass legs, or having the legs resting on glass, and having one hand on the conductor, can send sparks, with the other hand, to everything and everybody about. This illustrates communication of electricity by contact. A wooden head, covered with long hairs, when placed on the conductor, illustrates electrical repulsion, by the hairs standing on end.

If the hand is held to the knob, sparks will pass from it in rapid succession, causing in the hand a sensation of pain. This is called an electric shock, and is caused by the electric fluid occasioning a sudden motion by the contraction of the muscles through which it passes. The force of the shock is in proportion to the power of the machine.

What are the Muscles?

Bundles of thin fleshy fibres, or threads, fastened to the bones of animals, the contraction and expansion of which move the bones or perform the organic functions of life.

Organic, relating to organs or natural instruments by which some process is carried on.

Functions, employments or offices of any part of the body.

Contraction, drawing in or shortening.

Expansion, extending or spreading out.

What is Twilight?

The light from the first dawning of day to the rising of the sun; and again between its setting and the last remains of day. Without twilight, the sun's light would appear at its rising, and disappear at its setting, instantaneously; and we should experience a sudden transition from the brightest sunshine to the profoundest obscurity. The duration of twilight is different in different climates; and in the same places it varies at different periods of the year.

Instantaneously, done in an instant, in a moment's time.

Obscurity, darkness, want of light.

How is it produced?

By the sun's refraction—that is, the variation of the rays of light from their direct course, occasioned by the difference of density in the atmosphere.

Variation, change.

Density, closeness of parts, compactness.

What is the poetical name for the morning Twilight?

Aurora, the goddess of the morning, and harbinger of the rising sun: whom poets and artists represent as drawn by white horses in a rose-colored chariot, unfolding with her rosy fingers the portals of the East, pouring reviving dew upon the earth, and re-animating plants and flowers.

Harbinger, a forerunner.

Portals, gates, doors of entrance.

Reanimating, invigorating with new life.

What remarkable phenomenon is afforded to the inhabitants of the polar regions?

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, a luminous appearance in the northern parts of the heavens, seen mostly during winter, or in frosty weather, and clear evenings; it assumes a variety of forms and hues, especially in the polar regions, where it appears in its perfection, and proves a great solace to the inhabitants amidst the gloom of their long winter's night, which lasts from one to six months, while the summer's day which succeeds it lasts in like manner for the same period of time.

Of what nature is the Aurora Borealis?

It is decidedly an electrical phenomenon which takes place in the higher regions of the atmosphere. It is somehow connected with the magnetic poles of the earth; and generally appears in form of a luminous arch, from east to west, but never from north to south.

Phenomenon, an extraordinary appearance. The word is from a Greek one, signifying, to show or appear.

Magnetic, belonging to the magnet, or loadstone.

Luminous, bright, shining.

In what country is it seen constantly from October to Christmas?

In Siberia, where it is remarkably bright. On the western coast of Hudson's Bay, the sun no sooner disappears, than the Aurora Borealis diffuses a thousand different lights and colors with such dazzling beauty, that even the full moon cannot eclipse it.



What is Corn?

Corn signifies a race of plants which produce grain in an ear or head, fit for bread, the food of man; or the grain or seed of the plant, separated from the ear.

What is generally meant by Corn?

In this country, maize, or Indian corn, is generally meant; but, in a more comprehensive sense, the term is applied to several other kinds of grain, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, &c.

Where was Corn first used?

It is uncertain. The Athenians pretend that it was amongst them it was first used; the Cretans, Sicilians, and Egyptians also lay claim to the same. From the accounts in the Bible, we find that its culture engaged a large share of the attention of the ancient Hebrews.

Culture, growth, cultivation. Hebrews, the children of Israel, the Jews

Who were the Athenians?

Inhabitants of Athens, the capital city of Greece.

Who were the Cretans?

The inhabitants of Crete, an island of the Archipelago.

Who were the Sicilians?

Inhabitants of Sicily, the largest island of the Mediterranean Sea, now a part of Italy, and separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina.

Where do the Egyptians dwell?

In Egypt, a country of Africa. It is extremely fertile, producing great quantities of corn. In ancient times it was called the dry nurse of Rome and Italy, from its furnishing with corn a considerable part of the Roman Empire; and we are informed, both from sacred and profane history, that it was anciently the most fertile in corn of all countries of the world. The corn of Syria has always been very superior, and by many classed above that of Egypt.

For what is Barley generally used?

It is very extensively used for making malt, from which are prepared beer, ale, porter, &c.; in Scotland it is a common ingredient in broths, for which reason its consumption is very considerable, barley broth being a dish very frequent there.

Ingredient, a separate part of a body consisting of different materials.

What is Pearl Barley?

Barley freed from the husk by a mill.

What are Oats?

A valuable grain, serving as food for horses. Oats are also eaten by the inhabitants of many countries, after being ground into meal and made into oat cakes. Oatmeal also forms a wholesome drink for invalids, by steeping it in boiling water.

What are the uses of Rye?

In this and some other countries it is much used for bread, either alone or mixed with wheat; in England principally as food for cattle, especially for sheep and lambs, when other food is scarce in winter. Rye yields a strong spirit when distilled.

Distilled, subjected to distillation—the operation of extracting spirit from a substance by evaporation and condensation.

Of what country is the Potato a native?

Potatoes grew wild in Peru, a country of South America; whence they were transplanted to other parts of the American continent, and afterwards to Europe. The honor of introducing this useful vegetable into England is divided between Sir Francis Drake, in 1580, and Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1586, some ascribing it to the former, and others to the latter. It is certain they were obtained from Virginia in the time of Raleigh; they were cultivated only in the gardens of the nobility, and were reckoned a great delicacy. They now constitute a principal article of food in most of the countries of Europe and America; in Ireland, they have long furnished nearly four-fifths of the entire food of the people.

What part of the plant is eaten?

The root, which, when roasted or boiled, affords a wholesome and agreeable meal.

What is Tea?

The leaves of an evergreen shrub, a native of China and Japan, in which countries alone it is extensively cultivated for use. The tea-plant was at one time introduced into South Carolina, where its culture appears to have been attended with but little success. It may yet become a staple production of some portions of the United States.

Evergreen, retaining its leaves fresh and green through all seasons.

How is it prepared for use?

By carefully gathering the leaves, one by one, while they are yet small, young, and juicy. They are then spread on large flat iron pans, and placed over small furnaces, when they are constantly shifted by the hand till they become too hot to be borne.

What is next done?

They are then removed with a kind of shovel resembling a fan, and poured on mats, whence they are taken in small quantities, and rolled in the palm of the hand always in one direction, until they cool and retain the curl.

How often is this operation repeated?

Two or three times, the furnace each time being made less hot. The tea is then placed in the store-houses, or packed in chests, and sent to most of the countries in Europe and America.

Describe the appearance of the Tea-tree.

The Tea-tree when arrived at its full growth, which it does in about seven years, is about a man's height; the green leaves are narrow, and jagged all round; the flower resembles that of the wild rose, but is smaller. The shrub loves to grow in valleys, at the foot of mountains, and on the banks of rivers where it enjoys a southern exposure to the sun; though it endures considerable variation of heat and cold, as it flourishes in the northern clime of Pekin, where the winter is often severe; and also about Canton, where the heat is sometimes very great. The best tea, however, grows in a temperate climate, the country about Nankin producing better tea than either Pekin or Canton, between which two places it is situated.

What produces the difference between Green and Bohea, or Black?

There are varieties of the plant, and the difference of the tea arises from the mode of preparation.

What nation first introduced it into Europe?

The Dutch in 1610; it was introduced into England in 1650

What is Coffee?

The berry of the coffee-tree, a native of Arabia. The coffee-tree is an evergreen, and makes a beautiful appearance at all times of the year, but especially when in flower, and when the berries are red, which is usually during the winter. It is also cultivated in Persia, the East Indies, Liberia on the coast of Africa, the West Indies, Brazil and other parts of South America, as well as in most tropical climates.

Tropical, being within the tropics, that is, in the Torrid Zone.

Who was the original discoverer of Coffee, for the drink of man?

It is not exactly known: the earliest written accounts of the use of Coffee are by Arabian writers in the 15th century; it appears that in the city of Aden it became, in the latter half of that century, a very popular drink, first with lawyers, studious persons, and those whose occupation required wakefulness at night, and soon after, with all classes. Its use gradually extended to other cities, and to those on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, it was carried to Batavia where it was soon extensively planted, and at last young trees were sent to the botanical garden at Amsterdam.

Who introduced it into France and England?

Thevenot, the traveller, brought it into France, and a Greek servant named Pasqua (taken to England by Mr. Daniel Edwards, a Turkey merchant, in 1652, to make his coffee,) first set up the profession of coffee-man, and introduced the drink among the English.

How is it prepared?

The berries are roasted in a revolving metallic cylinder, till they are of a deep brown color, and then ground to powder, and boiled.

Metallic, consisting of metal.

What is Chocolate?

A kind of cake or paste, made of the kernel of the cacao-nut.

Describe the Cacao-nut Tree.

It resembles the cherry tree, and grows to the height of fifteen or sixteen feet. The cacao-nut tree bears leaves, flowers, and fruit, all the year through.

Where does it grow?

In tropical regions, where it is largely cultivated.

Of what form is the fruit?

It is somewhat like a cucumber, about three inches round, and of a yellowish red color. It contains from ten to forty seeds, each covered with a little rind, of a violet color; when this is stripped off, the kernel, of which they make the chocolate, is visible.

How do they make it into a drink?

By boiling it with water or milk. There are various newly-invented ways of preparing chocolate, so that it may be made in a few minutes, by only pouring boiling water upon it.



What is Calico?

A kind of printed cotton cloth, of different colors.

From what place did it take its name?

From Calicut, a city on the coast of Malabar, where it was first made; much is now manufactured in the United States, England, and many other countries.

What is Cotton?

A downy or woolly substance, enclosed in the pod, or seed-vessel, of the cotton-plant. The commercial classification of cotton is determined—1, by cleanliness or freedom from sand, dry leaf, and other impurities; 2, by absence of color; both subject also to character of staple, length, and strength and fineness of fibre. These together determine relative value. There are two general classifications, long-stapled and short-stapled. Of the former the best is the sea island cotton of the United States. The short staple cotton, grows in the middle and upper country; the long staple is cultivated in the lower country near the sea, and on the islands near the coasts.

How is it cultivated?

The seeds are sown in ridges made with the plough or hoe; when the plants are mature, the pods open, and the cotton is picked from them.

Where did Cotton anciently grow, and for what was it used?

In Egypt, where it was used by the priests and sacrificers, for a very singular kind of garment worn by them alone.

In what manufacture is it now used?

It is woven into muslins, dimities, cloths, calicoes, &c.; and is also joined with silks and flax, in the composition of other stuffs, and in working with the needle.

How is the Cotton separated from the seed?

By machines called cotton gins, of which there are two kinds; the roller-gin, and the saw-gin. In the former, the cotton, just as gathered from the plant, is drawn between two rollers, placed so closely together as to permit the passage of the cotton, but not of the seeds, which are consequently left behind. In the saw-gin, the cotton is placed in a receiver, one side of which consists of a grating of parallel wires, about an eighth of an inch apart; circular saws, revolving on a common axis between these wires, entangle in their teeth the cotton, and draw it from the seeds, which are too large to pass between the wires.

How is it made into Calico, &c.?

The cotton having been separated from the seed, is spun by a machine for the purpose. It is next woven, then dressed, and printed.

What is Cloth?

The word, in its general sense, includes all kinds of stuffs woven in the loom, whether the threads be of wool, cotton, hemp, or flax.

To what is it more particularly applied?

To a web or tissue of woollen threads.

Web, any thing woven.

What is Wool?

The covering or hair of sheep. To prepare it for the weaver, it is first shorn, washed, and dried, then carded or combed by machinery into fibres or threads: formerly this was always performed by the hand, by means of an instrument, called a comb, with several rows of pointed teeth; this, though not much used now, is still occasionally employed, except in large factories. This combing is repeated two or three times, till it is sufficiently smooth and even for spinning. Spinning or converting wool, or cotton, silk, &c. into thread, was anciently performed by the distaff and spindle: these we find mentioned in sacred history, and they have been used in all ages, and in all countries yet discovered. The natives of India, and of some other parts of the world, still employ this simple invention.

What was the next improvement?

The invention of the hand-wheel. In 1767, a machine called the spinning-jenny was invented by a weaver named Hargreaves; but the greatest improvement in the art of spinning was effected by Mr. Arkwright, in 1768: these two inventions were combined, and again improved upon in 1776; so that by the new plan, the material can be converted into thread in a considerably shorter space of time than in the ancient mode; leaving to man merely to feed the machine, and join the threads when they break. The sheep, whose wool forms the material for nearly all woollen clothing, came originally from Africa.

Does weaving differ according to the material used?

The principle of weaving is the same in every kind of fabric, and consists in forming any kind of thread into a flat web, or cloth, by interlacing one thread with another; the various appearances of the manufacture arise as much from the modes in which the threads are interwoven, as from the difference of material.

Is not the employment of Wool in the manufacture of Clothing of great antiquity?

In the earliest records we possess of the arts of mankind, wool is mentioned as forming a chief article in the manufacture of clothing; it is spoken of in the Bible, as a common material for cloth, as early as the time of Moses. The ancient Greeks and Romans are well known to have possessed this art. At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the manufacture was established in many parts of Europe, particularly in Spain, from which country it extended itself to France and Italy. There is no doubt that it was introduced into England by its conquerors the Romans, a manufactory being established at Winchester, sufficiently large to supply the Roman army.

Manufactory, a place where things are made or manufactured; derived from the Latin manus, a hand, and the verb facio, to do or make.

What circumstance contributed to the progress of this manufacture among the English?

In 1330, the English, being desirous of improving their woollen manufacture, invited over the Flemings, by the offer of various privileges, to establish manufactories there. The skill of these people soon effected a great improvement in the English fabrics, so that there no longer remained any occasion for the exportation of English wool into Flanders, to be manufactured into fine cloth; and a law was passed by the government to forbid it. Both the cotton and woollen manufactures have, of late years, arisen to great importance in the United States.

What country affords the best Wool?

The wool of Germany is most esteemed at the present day: that of Spain was formerly the most valuable, but the Spanish breed of sheep, having been introduced into Germany, succeeded better there than in Spain, and increased so rapidly, that the Spanish wool trade has greatly diminished. Australia is one of the principal wool-growing countries in the world, for the breed of sheep sent out to that country and Tasmania has succeeded remarkably well.

What part of the world is meant by Australia?

A British Island in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising the Colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. It is the principal of the group of large islands, in the Oriental Archipelago. Tasmania is another of the same group, separated from New South Wales by a channel called Bass's Strait, and also belongs to Great Britain.

What is meant by an Archipelago?

A part of a sea studded with numerous islands; but the term is more particularly applied to that lying between Europe and Asia, which contains the Greek Islands. The word is a corruption from the Greek, signifying the AEgean Sea.

Is the Wool of the sheep all of one quality?

No; it varies according to the species of sheep, the soil on which they are fed, and the part of the animal from which it is taken: the chief distinction is between the long and the short wool; the long wool is employed in the manufacture of carpets, crapes, blankets, &c.; and the finer and shorter sorts for hosiery, broadcloths &c.

Where were Carpets originally made?

Carpets are of oriental origin, and are made of different sorts of stuffs; they are woven in a variety of ways. Persian and Turkey carpets are most esteemed; they are woven in a piece, in looms of a very simple construction. Formerly the manufacture of these carpets was confined to Persia and Turkey; but they are now successfully made, both in Europe and the United States, &c. Great Britain is the principal seat of the carpet manufacture of the world. Brussels, Wilton, and Kidderminster carpets derive their names from the places where they were invented.

Is not the art of weaving very ancient?

It appears to have been known from a period as early as the time of Abraham and Jacob; its inventor is not known, but it is possible that men took a lesson from the ingenious spider, which weaves its web after the same manner. The ancient Egyptians appear to have brought it to great perfection, and were even acquainted with the art of interweaving colors after the manner of the Scottish plaid.

What is Baize?

A coarse, open, woollen stuff, with a long nap. It is chiefly made in the United States, England, France, &c.

What is Linen?

There are various kinds of linen, made from cotton, flax, and hemp; but the term is chiefly applied to that woven with the two last mentioned. Linen means cloth of flax; hence its derivation from the Latin word linum, flax.

What is Flax?

An annual plant, the fibres of which are beaten into threads, spun, and afterwards woven into linen; it is extensively cultivated in the United States, Russia, and some other countries of Europe. Hemp is a plant of a similar nature, equally used with flax, in the manufacture of linens. Russian hemp is cultivated to a larger extent than that of any other country, and is considered the best that is grown.

How long has the use of Hemp and Flax been known?

Those plants are said to be natives of Persia, and introduced from some parts of the East into Europe, over which it is now widely distributed: it existed both in a wild and cultivated state, in some parts of Russia, as early as five centuries before Christ These products form a considerable article of exportation, besides the quantity used in Russia itself; a considerable part is wrought into linens, diapers, canvas, and other manufactures; and even the seeds are exported, both in their natural state and as oil. In various parts of Russia, hemp-seed oil and flax-seed (or linseed) oil are prepared in very large quantities.

What is Diaper?

A sort of linen cloth, woven in flowers, and other figures; it is said to have received its name from d'Iper, now Ypres, a town of Belgium, situated on a river of the same name, where it was first made.

What is Holland?

A fine, close, even, linen cloth, used for sheets, &c. It obtained its name from being principally made in Holland.

What is Canvas?

A hempen cloth, so loosely woven as to leave interstices between the threads, in little squares. It is used for working in patterns upon it with wools, &c.; by painters for a ground work on which they draw their pictures; for tents, sails, and many other purposes. There are several sorts, varying in the fineness of their texture.

What is Damask?

A sort of silken stuff, having some parts raised on its surface to represent flowers or figures. It took its name from Damascus, in Syria, whence it was first brought.

Is there not another sort of Damask?

Yes, made from linen; and so called because its large flowers resemble those of damask roses. It was first made in Flanders, and is used for table linen, &c.

What is Flannel?

A slight, loose, woollen stuff, used for warm clothing; it was originally made in Wales, where it still continues to be manufactured in great perfection.



Of what form is the tree which bears those large nuts, called Cocoa nuts?

It is tall and straight, without branches, and generally about thirty or forty feet high; at the top are twelve leaves, ten feet long, and half a foot broad; above the leaves, grows a large excrescence in the form of a cabbage, excellent to eat, but taking it off kills the tree. The cocoa is a species of Palm.

Is not the Indian liquor called Toddy, produced from the Cocoa Tree?

Yes, between the leaves and the top arise several shoots about the thickness of a man's arm, which, when cut, distil a white, sweet, and agreeable liquor; while this liquor exudes, the tree yields no fruit; but when the shoots are allowed to grow, it puts out a large cluster or branch, on which the cocoa nuts hang, to the number of ten or twelve.

Distil, to let fall in drops.

Exude, to force or throw out.

How often does this tree produce nuts?

Three times a year, the nuts being about the size of a man's head, and of an oval form.

Of what countries is it a native?

Of Asia, the Indies, Africa, Arabia, the Islands of the Southern Pacific, and the hottest parts of America.

What are the uses of this Tree?

The leaves of the tree are made into baskets; they are also used for thatching houses: the fibrous bark of the nut, and the trunk of the tree, are made into cordage, sails, and cloth; the shell, into drinking bowls and cups; the kernel affords a wholesome food, and the milk contained in the shell, a cooling liquor.

From what country was the Cherry Tree first brought?

From Cerasus, a city of Pontus, in Asia, on the southern borders of the Black Sea; from which place this tree was brought to Rome, in the year of that city 680, by Lucullus; it was conveyed, a hundred and twenty-eight years after, into Great Britain, A.D. 55.

What is the meaning of A.D.?

A short way of writing Anno Domini, Latin words for in the year of our Lord.

Who was Lucullus?

A renowned Roman general.

Is the wood of the Cherry Tree useful?

It is used in cabinet-making, for boxes, and other articles.

What is Bark?

The exterior part of trees, which serves them as a skin or covering.

Exterior, the outside.

Does it not undergo some change during the year?

Each year the bark of a tree divides, and distributes itself two contrary ways, the outer part gives towards the skin, till it becomes skin itself, and at length falls off; the inner part is added to the wood. The bark is to the body of a tree, what the skin of our body is to the flesh.

Of what use is Bark?

Bark is useful for many things: of the bark of willows and linden trees, ropes are sometimes made. The Siamese make their cordage of the cocoa tree bark, as do most of the Asiatic and African nations; in the East Indies, they make the bark of a certain tree into a kind of cloth; some are used in medicines, as the Peruvian bark for Quinine; others in dyeing, as that of the alder; others in spicery, as cinnamon, &c.; the bark of oak, in tanning; that of a kind of birch is used by the Indians for making canoes.

What are Canoes?

Boats used by savages; they are made chiefly of the trunks of trees dug hollow; and sometimes of pieces of bark fastened together.

How do the savages guide them?

With paddles, or oars; they seldom carry sails, and the loading is laid in the bottom.

Are not the savages very dexterous in the management of them?

Yes, extremely so; they strike the paddles with such regularity, that the canoes seem to fly along the surface of the water; at the same time balancing the vessels with their bodies, to prevent their overturning.

Dexterous, expert, nimble.

Do they leave their canoes in the water on their return from a voyage?

No, they draw them ashore, hang them up by the two ends, and leave them to dry; they are generally so light as to be easily carried from place to place.

Were not books once made of Bark?

Yes, the ancients wrote their books on the barks of many trees, as on those of the ash and the lime tree, &c.

Which part did they use?

Not the exterior or outer bark, but the inner and finer, which is of so durable a texture, that there are manuscripts written on it which are still extant, though more than a thousand years old.

Is it not also used in Manure?

Yes, especially that of the oak; but the best oak bark is used in tanning.

What is Cork?

The thick, spongy, external bark of the Cork Tree, a species of oak. There are two varieties of this tree, the broad-leaved and the narrow: it is an evergreen, and grows to the height of thirty feet. The Cork Tree attains to a very great age.

Where is the Tree found?

In Spain, Italy, France, and many other countries. The true cork is the produce of the broad-leaved tree.

What are its uses?

Cork is employed in various ways, but especially for stopping vessels containing liquids, and, on account of its buoyancy in water, in the construction of life boats. It is also used in the manufacture of life preservers and cork jackets. The greatest quantities are brought from Catalonia, in Spain. The uses of Cork were well known to the ancients.

To what particular use did the Egyptians put it?

They made coffins of it, lined with a resinous composition, which preserved the bodies of the dead uncorrupted.

What is Cochineal?

A drug used by the dyers, for dyeing crimsons and scarlets; and for making carmine, a brilliant red used in painting, and several of the arts.

Is it a plant?

No, it is an insect. The form of the Cochineal is oval; it is about the size of a small pea, and has six legs armed with claws, and a trunk by which it sucks its nourishment.

What is its habitation?

It breeds in a fruit resembling a pear; the plant which bears it is about five or six feet high; at the top of the fruit grows a red flower, which when full blown, falls upon it; the fruit then appears full of little red insects, having very small wings. These are the Cochineals.

How are they caught?

By spreading a cloth under the plant, and shaking it with poles, till the insects quit it and fly about, which they cannot do many minutes, but soon tumble down dead into the cloth; where they are left till quite dry.

Does the insect change its color when it is dead?

When the insect flies, it is red; when it is fallen, black; and when first dried, it is greyish; it afterwards changes to a purplish grey, powdered over with a kind of white dust.

From what countries is the Cochineal brought?

From the West Indies, Jamaica, Mexico, and other parts of America.

What are Cloves?

The dried flower-buds of the Clove Tree, anciently a native of the Moluccas; but afterwards transplanted by the Dutch (who traded in them,) to other islands, particularly that of Ternate. It is now found in most of the East Indian Islands.

Describe the Clove Tree.

It is a large handsome tree of the myrtle kind; its leaves resemble those of the laurel. Though the Clove Tree is cultivated to a great extent, yet, so easily does the fruit on falling take root, that it thus multiplies itself, in many instances, without the trouble of culture. The clove when it first begins to appear is white, then green, and at last hard and red; when dried, it turns yellow, and then dark brown.

What are its qualities?

The Clove is the hottest, and most acrid of aromatic substances; one of our most wholesome spices, and of great use in medicine; it also yields an abundance of oil, which is much used by perfumers, and in medicine.

Acrid, of a hot, biting taste.

Aromatic, fragrant, having an agreeable odor.

What is Cinnamon?

An agreeable, aromatic spice, the bark of a tree of the laurel kind; the Cinnamon tree grows in the Southern parts of India; but most abundantly in the island of Ceylon, where it is extensively cultivated; its flowers are white, resembling those of the lilac in form, and are very fragrant; they are borne in large clusters. The tree sends up numerous shoots the third or fourth year after it has been planted; these shoots are planted out, when nearly an inch in thickness.

How is the bark procured?

By stripping it off from these shoots, after they have been cut down; the trees planted for the purpose of obtaining cinnamon, throw out a great number of branches, apparently from the same root, and are not allowed to rise higher than ten feet; but in its native uncultivated state, the cinnamon tree usually rises to the height of twenty or thirty feet.

How is the Cinnamon Tree cultivated?

By seed, sown during the rains; from shoots cut from large trees; and by transplanting old stumps. The cinnamon tree, in its wild state, is said to be propagated by means of a kind of pigeons, that feed on its fruit; in carrying which to their nests, the seeds fall out, and, dropping in various places, take root, spring up, and become trees.

Propagated, spread, extended, multiplied.

What else is obtained from this tree?

The bark, besides being used as a spice, yields an oil highly esteemed, both as a medicine and as a perfume; the fruit by boiling also produces an oil, used by the natives for burning in lamps; as soon as it hardens, it becomes a solid substance like wax, and is formed into candles. Camphor is extracted from the root. Cassia is cinnamon of an inferior kind.



What is Bombazine?

A stuff composed of silk and wool woven together in a loom. It was first made at Milan, and thence sent abroad; great quantities are now made in England and other countries.

Where is Milan situated?

In Italy, and is noted for its cathedral.

For what is Bombazine used?

For dresses. Black bombazine is worn entirely for mourning. The original bombazine has, however, become much less used than formerly, on account of the numerous newly-invented fabrics of finer or coarser qualities, composed of the same materials mixed in various degrees, as Mousselines de laine, Challis, &c.

What is Crape?

A light, transparent stuff, resembling gauze, made of raw silk very loosely woven, or of wool; by raw silk is meant, silk in the state in which it is taken from the silk worm.

Where was Crape first made?

At Bologna, a city of Italy.

What city of France was long celebrated for its manufacture?

Lyons, the second city of France, where there are large silk manufactories. Great quantities are also made in England, principally in the city of Norwich, which has long been distinguished for the beauty of its crapes.

What is Camlet?

A stuff made sometimes of wool, sometimes of silk and hair, especially that of goats. The oriental camlet is made of the pure hair of a sort of goat, a native of Angora, a city of Natolia, in Turkey. The European camlets are made of a mixture of woollen thread and hair.

What countries are most noted for them?

England, France, Holland, and Flanders; the city of Brussels, in Belgium, exceeds them all in the beauty and quality of its camlets; those of England are the next.

What is Cambric?

A species of linen made of flax; it is very fine and white.

From whence did it take its name?

From Cambray, a large and celebrated city of French Flanders, where it was first made; it is now made at other places in France; and also in England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States, &c.

What is Lace?

A work composed of many threads of fine linen or silk, interwoven one with another according to some particular pattern. Belgium, France, and England are the principal countries in which this manufacture is carried on; vast quantities of the finest laces were formerly made in Flanders.

From what is Silk produced?

From the silk-worm, an insect not more remarkable for the precious matter it furnishes, than for the many forms it assumes before and after it envelopes itself in the beautiful ball, the silken threads of which form the elegant texture which is so much worn.

Texture, a web or substance woven.

What are the habits of this insect, and on what does it feed?

After bursting from the egg, it becomes a large worm or caterpillar of a yellowish white color, (which is its first state;) this caterpillar feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree, till, arriving at maturity, it winds itself up in a silken bag or case, called a cocoon, about the size and shape of a pigeon's egg, and becomes a chrysalis; in which state it lies without signs of life; in about ten days it eats its way out of its case, a perfect butterfly, which lays a number of eggs and then dies. In the warmth of the summer weather, these eggs are hatched, and become worms, as their parents did at first.

Maturity, ripeness, perfection

How much silk is each ball said to contain?

Each ball consists of a very fine, soft, bright, delicate thread, which being wound off, extends in length six miles.

What is meant by Chrysalis?

The second state into which the insect passes before it comes to be a butterfly. The maggot or worm having ceased to eat, fixes itself in some place till its skin separates, and discovers a horny, oblong body, which is the chrysalis.

Where was Silk first made?

The culture and manufacture of silk was originally confined to China. The Greeks, under Alexander the Great, brought home, among other Eastern luxuries, wrought silks from Persia, about 323, B.C. It was not long unknown to the Romans, although it was so rare, that it was even sold weight for weight with gold. The Emperor Aurelian, who died in 275, B.C. refused the Empress, his wife, a suit of silk which she solicited with much earnestness, merely on account of its dearness. Heliogabalus, the Emperor, who died half a century before Aurelian, was the first who wore a holosericum or garment all of silk.

Who introduced the Silk Worm itself into Europe?

Two monks, engaged as missionaries in China, obtained a quantity of silk worms' eggs, which they concealed in a hollow cane, and conveyed in safety to Constantinople in 552; the eggs were hatched in the proper season by the warmth of manure, and the worms fed with the leaves of the wild mulberry tree. These worms in due time spun their silk, and propagated under the care of the monks, who also instructed the Romans in the whole process of manufacturing their production. From the insects thus produced, proceeded all the silk worms which have since been reared in Europe, and the western parts of Asia. The mulberry tree was then eagerly planted, and on this, their natural food, they were successfully reared in Greece; and the manufacture was established at Thebes, Athens, and Corinth, in particular. The Venetians, soon after this time commencing a trade with the Greeks, supplied all the Western parts of Europe with silks for many centuries.

Where were the cities of Thebes and Athens situated?

Thebes was an ancient city of Beotia, in Greece, founded by Cadmus, a Phenician, though of Egyptian parentage. Sailing from the coast of Phenicia, he arrived in Beotia, and built the city, calling it Thebes, from the city of that name in Egypt. To this prince is ascribed the invention of sixteen letters of the Greek Alphabet. Athens was the capital of Attica, founded by Cecrops, an Egyptian. It was the seat of learning and the arts, and has produced some of the most celebrated warriors, statesmen, orators, poets, and sculptors in the world. Since the emancipation of Greece from the cruel bondage of its conquerors the Turks, who had oppressed it for three centuries, Athens has been chosen as its capital, and is still a considerable town adorned with splendid ruins of the beautiful buildings it once possessed. Thebes and Corinth, another celebrated city, are now only villages.

Warrior, a soldier.

Statesmen, men versed in the arts of government.

Orator, a public speaker.

Poet, one who composes poetry.

Sculptor, one who cuts figures in stone, marble, or ivory.

Who were the Venetians?

Inhabitants of Venice, a city of Italy.

Did this manufacture continue to be confined to the Greeks and Venetians?

By no means. The rest of Italy, and Spain, by degrees learnt the art from some manufactories in Sicily; and about the reign of Francis the First, the French became masters of it. It, however, long remained a rarity; their King, Henry the Second, is supposed to have worn the first pair of knit silk stockings. The Fourth Henry encouraged the planting of mulberry trees; his successors also did the same, and the produce of silk in France is now very considerable.

When was the manufacture of silk introduced into England?

There was a company of silk women in England as early as the year 1455; but they probably were merely employed in needlework of silk and thread, for Italy supplied England with the broad manufacture during the chief part of the fifteenth century. The great advantage this new manufacture afforded, made King James the First very desirous for its introduction into England, particularly in 1608, when it was recommended, in very earnest terms, to plant mulberry trees for the rearing of silk worms; but unhappily without effect. However, towards the latter end of this reign, the broad silk manufacture was introduced, and with great success. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes contributed greatly to its promotion, by the number of French workmen who took refuge in England; to them the English are indebted for the art of manufacturing many elegant kinds of silks, satins, velvets, &c., which had formerly been imported from abroad up to the year 1718. The silk manufacture has also been successfully introduced into some portions of the United States.

Revocation, act of recalling, repeal.

Imported, brought into.

What was the Edict of Nantes?

A law made in favor of the Protestants, the repealing of which drove many of their most skilful workmen to take refuge in England. They were kindly received, and settled in Spitalfields, and many other parts of England as well as Ireland, where they carried on a flourishing and ingenious manufacture.

Were the attempts to rear Silk Worms in England successful?

No; after many trials, all of which failed, attention was directed to the establishments for procuring both raw and wrought silks, in the settlements in India belonging to Britain; this was attended with complete success, the climate being extremely favorable, and the price of labor cheap. Raw silk is imported in quantities from India, China, Italy, &c.

How is the Silk taken from the Worm?

The people who are employed in the care of these insects collect the golden balls from off the mulberry trees, (to the leaves of which the insects glue their silk) and put them into warm water, that the threads may unfasten and wind off more easily; having taken off the coarse woolly part which covers the balls, they take twelve or fourteen threads at a time, and wind them off into skeins. In order to prepare this beautiful material for the hand of the weaver to be wrought into silks, stuffs, brocades, satins, velvets, ribbons, &c., it is spun, reeled, milled, bleached, and dyed.

Milled, worked in a kind of mill.

Bleached, whitened.

What is Velvet?

A rich kind of stuff, all silk, covered on the outside with a close, short, fine, soft shag; the wrong side being very strong and close. The principal number, and the best velvets, were made in France and Italy; others in Holland; they are now brought to great perfection in England. An inferior kind is made by mixing cotton with the silk. Velvet has been known in Europe for some centuries, but its manufacture was long confined to some of the chief cities of Italy. From that country the French learned the art, and greatly improved it.

Whence is the word Velvet derived?

From the Italian word velluto, signifying velvet, which comes from vellus, hair or fleece.

What is Mohair?

The hair of a kind of goat, common about Angora, in Turkey. It is used in the manufacture of various kinds of stuffs, shawls, &c.

Is there not another animal much celebrated for the material it furnishes in the making of shawls?

Yes; the Thibet goat. The wool is sent to Cashmere, where it is spun and dyed. Cashmere is situated in the north-west extremity of India, and has long been celebrated for the beautiful and valuable shawls bearing its name which are manufactured there. The goats are beautiful creatures, with long, fine, wavy hair, reaching nearly to the ground, so as almost to conceal their legs. The material of which the shawls are made is a fine silky down, which grows under the long hair, next to the skin.



What are Currants?

A kind of small raisins or dried grapes.

Whence are they brought?

From several islands of the Archipelago, particularly Zante and Cephalonia; and from the Isthmus of Corinth, in Greece.

Do they grow on bushes like our Currants?

No, on vines like other grapes, except that the leaves are somewhat thicker, and the grapes much smaller: they have no pips, and are of a deep red, or rather black color.

When are they gathered, and how are they dried?

They are gathered in August, and laid on the ground in heaps till dry; they are then cleaned, and put into magazines, from which they are taken and packed in barrels for exportation.

What do you mean by Exportation?

The act of conveying goods for sale from one country to another.

What are Raisins?

Grapes prepared by drying them in the sun, or by the heat of an oven. Raisins of Damascus, so called from the capital city of Syria, near which they are cultivated, are very large, flat, and wrinkled on the surface; soft and juicy inside, and nearly an inch long. Raisins of the sun, or jar raisins, so called from being imported in jars, are all dried by the heat of the sun; they are of a reddish blue color, and are the produce of Spain, whence the finest and best raisins are brought. There are several other sorts, named either from the place in which they grow, or the kind of grape of which they are made, as those of Malaga, Valencia, &c.

In what manner are they dried?

The common way of drying grapes for raisins, is to tie two or three bunches of them together while yet on the vine, and dip them into a lye made of hot wood-ashes, mixed with a little olive oil. This makes them shrink and wrinkle: after this they are cut from the branches which supported them, but left on the vine for three or four days, separated on sticks, in an upright position, to dry at leisure. Different modes, however, are adopted, according to the quality of the grape. The commonest kinds are dried in hot ovens, but the best way is that in which the grapes are cut when fully ripe, and dried by the heat of the sun, on a floor of hard earth or stone.

Lye, a liquor made from wood-ashes; of great use in medicine, bleaching, sugar works, &c.

What are Figs?

A soft, luscious fruit, the produce of the fig-tree. The best figs are brought from Turkey, but they are also imported from Italy, Spain, and the southern part of France. The islands of the Archipelago yield an inferior sort in great abundance. In this country they are sometimes planted in a warm situation in gardens, but, being difficult to ripen, they do not arrive at perfection. The figs sent from abroad are dried by the heat of the sun, or in furnaces for the purpose.

Luscious, sweet to excess, cloying.

What is Rice?

A useful and nutritious grain, cultivated in immense quantities in India, China, and most eastern countries; in the West Indies, Central America, and the United States; and in southern Europe. It forms the principal food of the people of eastern and southern Asia, and is more extensively consumed than any other species of grain, not even excepting wheat.

Nutritious, wholesome, good for food.

Does it not require a great deal of moisture?

Yes, it is usually planted in moist soils, and near rivers, where the ground can be overflowed after it is come up. The Chinese water their rice-fields by means of movable mills, placed as occasion requires, upon any part of the banks of a river; the water is raised in buckets to a proper height, and afterwards conveyed in channels to the destined places.

What is Sugar?

A sweet, agreeable substance, manufactured chiefly from the Sugar Cane,[1] a native of the East and West Indies, South America and the South Sea Islands; it is much cultivated in all tropical countries. The earliest authentic accounts of sugar, are about the time of the Crusades,[2] when it appears to have been purchased from the Saracens, and imported into Europe.

[Footnote 1: Most of the sugar in Europe is made from beets.] [Footnote 2: See Chapter XVII., article Navigation.]

Authentic, true, certain.

Crusades, holy wars.

Saracens, Turks or Arabs.

How is it prepared?

The canes are crushed between large rollers in a mill, and the juice collected into a large vessel placed to receive it; it is then boiled, and placed in pans to cool, when it becomes imperfectly crystallized, in which state we use it. This is called raw or soft sugar: loaf sugar, or the hard white sugar, is the raw brown sugar, prepared by refining it till all foreign matter is removed.

Is the Sugar Cane the only vegetable that produces Sugar?

All vegetables contain more or less sugar, but the plant in which it most abounds is the sugar-cane. In the United States, a large quantity of sugar is prepared from the sap of the Sugar Maple Tree. The trees are tapped at the proper season by a cut being made in the bark, and the juice runs into a vessel placed to receive it; it is then prepared in the same manner as the juice of the sugar cane.

What is Sugar Candy?

Sugar purified and crystallized.

What is Barley Sugar?

Sugar boiled till it is brittle, and cast on a stone anointed with oil of sweet almonds, and then formed into twisted sticks.

What is Sago?

A substance prepared from the pith of the Sago Palm, which grows naturally in various parts of Africa and the Indies. The pith, which is even eatable in its natural state, is taken from the trunk of the tree, and thrown into a vessel placed over a horse-hair sieve; water is then thrown over the mass, and the finer parts of the pith pass through the sieve; the liquor thus obtained is left to settle. The clear liquor is then drawn off, and what remains is formed into grains by being passed through metal dishes, with numerous small holes; it is next dried by the action of heat, and in this state it is exported. The Sago Palm also produces sugar.

What is Millet, and in what countries does it grow?

Millet is an esculent grain, originally brought from the Eastern countries. It is cultivated in many parts of Europe, but most extensively in Egypt, Syria, China, and Hindostan, whence we are furnished with it, it being rarely cultivated among us, except as a curiosity.

Esculent, good for food.

For what is Millet used?

It is in great request amongst the Germans for puddings; for which it is sometimes used amongst us. The Italians make loaves and cakes of it.

What is Ginger?

The root of a plant cultivated in the East and West Indies, and in America; it is a native of South-eastern Asia and the adjoining islands.

Describe its nature and use.

It is a warm aromatic, much used in medicine and cookery. The Indians eat the root when green as a salad, chopping it small with other herbs; they also make a candy of it with sugar. The ginger sold in the shops here is dried, which is done by placing the roots in the heat of the sun or in ovens, after being dug out of the ground. Quantities not only of the dried root, but also of the candied sugar, are imported.

What are Nutmegs?

A delicate aromatic fruit or spice, brought from the East Indies. The nutmeg tree greatly resembles our pear tree, and produces a kind of nut, which bears the same name as the tree.

What is the appearance of the Nutmeg?

Its form is round, and its smell agreeable. The nutmeg is inclosed in four different covers; the first, a thick fleshy coat, (like our walnut,) which opens of itself when ripe; under this lies a thin reddish network, of an agreeable smell and aromatic taste, called mace; this wraps up the shell, which opens as the fruit grows. The shell is the third cover, which is hard, thin, and blackish; under this is a greenish film of no use; and in the last you find the nutmeg, which is the kernel of the fruit.

What are its uses?

The nutmeg is much used in our food, and is of excellent virtue as a medicine. It also yields an oil of great fragrance.

Is the Mace used as a spice?

Yes, it is separated from the shell of the nutmeg, and dried in the sun. It is brought over in flakes of a yellow color, smooth and net-like, as you see it in the shops. Its taste is warm, bitterish, and rather pungent; its smell, aromatic. It is used both in food and medicine, as the nutmeg, and also yields an oil.

Pungent, of a hot, biting taste.

What is Pimento or Allspice?

The dried unripe berry or fruit of a tree growing in great abundance in Jamaica, particularly on the northern side of that island, on hilly spots, near the coast; it is also a native of both Indies. The Pimento Tree is a West Indian species of Myrtle; it grows to the height of twenty or thirty feet; the leaves are all of a deep, shining green, and the blossom consists of numerous branches of small, white, aromatic flowers, which render its appearance very striking; there is scarcely in the vegetable world any tree more beautiful than a young Pimento about the month of July, when it is in full bloom.

When is the time to gather the spice?

About the month of September, not long after the blossoms are fallen, the berries are gathered by the hand; one laborer on the tree, employed in gathering the small branches, will give employment to three below (who are generally women and children) in picking the berries. They are then spread out thinly, and exposed to the sun at its rising and setting for some days; when they begin to dry, they are frequently winnowed, and laid on cloths to preserve them better from rain and dew; by this management they become wrinkled, and change from green to a deep reddish brown color. Great quantities are annually imported.

What are its uses?

It forms a pleasant addition to flavor food; it also yields an agreeable essential oil, and is accounted the best and mildest of common spices.

Essential, pure; extracted so as to contain all the virtues of the spice in a very small compass.

Why is it called Allspice?

Because it has been supposed to combine the flavor of cloves, nutmegs, and cinnamon; the French call it round clove, from its round shape, and the taste being somewhat like that spice.

What is Pepper?

The product of a creeping shrub, growing in several parts of the East Indies, Asia, and America.

In what manner does Pepper grow, and what part of the shrub is used?

Pepper is the fruit of this shrub, and grows in bunches or clusters, at first green; as it ripens it becomes reddish, until having been exposed for some time to the heat of the sun, (or probably gathered before perfectly ripe,) it becomes black, as in the condition we have it. There are two sorts, the black and the white.

What is the White Pepper?

The white pepper is merely the black deprived of its outside skin. For this purpose the finest red berries are selected, and put in baskets to steep, either in running water, or in pits dug for the purpose, near the banks of rivers. Sometimes they are only buried in the ground. In any of these situations, they swell and burst their skins, from which, when dry, they are carefully separated by rubbing between the hands, or fanning.

What is Cayenne Pepper?

The dried fruit of a plant called bird pepper, a native of both Indies. It is more pungent than the other sorts.



What is Glass?

A transparent, solid, brittle, factitious body, produced by fusing sand with an alkali. The essential ingredients of glass are silex and potash, or soda; a few other substances are sometimes added. Silex is found nearly pure in rock crystal, flint, and other varieties of quartz; for the manufacture of the better kinds of glass in this country, it is generally obtained from sand, especially the white sand of New Jersey.

Factitious, made by art, not found in a state of nature.

What is Potash?

The saline matter obtained from the ashes of wood, by causing water to pass through them; the water imbibes the salt, which is then obtained from it by evaporation. When purified by calcination, it is termed pearlash. In countries where there are vast forests, as in America and Russia, it is manufactured on a very large scale.

What can you say of the origin of Glass?

The period of its invention is quite unknown. Pliny relates that some merchants, driven by a storm to the coast of Phenicia, near the river Belus, made a large fire on the sand to dress some food, using as fuel some of the plant Kali, which grew there in great abundance; an imperfect glass was thus formed by the melting of the sand and ashes together. This production was picked up by a Syrian merchant, who, attracted by its great beauty, examined the cause of its origin, and, after many attempts, succeeded in its manufacture.

Who was Pliny?

A celebrated Roman naturalist and historian.

At what place was Glass first made?

Some authors mention Sidon in Syria, which became famous for glass and glass-houses; but others maintain that the first glass-houses noticed in history were built at Tyre; which, they add, was the only place where glass was made for many ages. It is certain that the art was known to the Egyptians.

What is Phenicia?

A sub-division of Syria in Asia.

What is an author?

A person who writes a book.

What is signified by a glass-house?

A building erected for the making and working of glass.

What countries had glass windows first?

Italy, then France and England; they began to be common about the year 1180.

In what year, and where, was the making of glass bottles begun?

In 1557, in London. The first glass plates for mirrors and coach-windows were made at Lambeth, in 1673.

What is a Mirror?

A body which exhibits the images of objects presented to it by reflection. The word mirror is more peculiarly used to signify a smooth surface of glass, tinned and quicksilvered at the back,[3] which reflects the images of objects placed before it.

[Footnote 3: See Chapter XII., article Mercury.]

Are they a modern invention?

The use of mirrors is very ancient; mention is made of brazen mirrors or looking-glasses in Exodus, the 38th chapter and 8th verse. Some modern commentators will not admit the mirrors themselves to have been of brass, but of glass set or framed in brass; but the most learned among the Jewish rabbins say that in those times the mirrors made use of by the Hebrew women in dressing their heads were of metal, and that the devout women mentioned in this passage made presents to Moses of all their mirrors to make the brazen laver for the Tabernacle. It might likewise be proved that the ancient Greeks made use of brazen mirrors, from many passages in the ancient poets.

Commentators, explainers of passages in the Bible, &c.

Rabbins, doctors among the Jews, their learned men or teachers.

What nation invented the large looking-glass plates now in use?

The French.

What city of Italy excelled all Europe for many years in the making of fine glass?

Venice. The manufacture of fine glass was first introduced into England by Venetian artists in 1078.

Of what is Earthenware composed?

Of clay, and those earths which are capable of being kneaded into a paste easily receiving any form, and acquiring solidity by exposure to fire: sand, chalk, and flint are likewise mixed with clay.

In what manner is it formed into such a variety of shapes?

The flint or sand, and soft clay, are mixed together in various proportions for the different kinds of ware; this paste is afterwards beaten till it becomes fit for being formed at the wheel into plates, dishes, basins, &c. These are then put into a furnace and baked; after which they are glazed.

What nation so greatly excelled in the manufacture of a beautiful species of Earthenware?

The Chinese,—who, as far as can be ascertained, were its inventors. Porcelain is a fine sort of earthenware, chiefly made in China, whence it was called China or China-ware; it is also brought from many parts of the East, especially from Japan, Siam, Surat, and Persia. The art of making porcelain was one of those in which Europe had been excelled by oriental nations; but for many years past earthenwares have been made in different parts of Europe, so like the oriental, that they have acquired the name of porcelain. The first European porcelains were made in Saxony and France, and afterwards in England, Germany, and Italy, all of which differed from those of Japan and China, but each possessing its peculiar character. They are now brought to great perfection in Europe, particularly in England, France and Prussia.

Before the invention of Earthenware, what supplied its place to the early inhabitants of the world?

The more civilized the inhabitants of any country became, the more they would perceive the convenience of possessing vessels of various descriptions for holding or preparing their food; some of the objects which first presented themselves would be the larger kinds of shells; and, in hot climates, the hard coverings of the cocoa-nut or gourd. In some cases the skins of beasts were used, as they still are in the East, where they are sewed together, and formed into a kind of bottle to hold milk, wine, &c.; but the people of colder climates would not be able to avail themselves of these natural productions, and would be obliged to make use of other substances.

What, then, would they employ?

Clay, which in many countries is found in great abundance, from its adhesive property, and its retaining its form when dry, and becoming insoluble in water after having been baked in the fire, would naturally attract the attention of an improving people: from this it arises that the early remains of culinary and other vessels which have been discovered have been formed of this material. Among the remains of ancient Egypt, numerous vessels have been found formed of common clay baked in the fire; and, though of rude workmanship, extremely elegant in form.

Adhesive, sticky; apt or tending to adhere.

Insoluble, not capable of being dissolved.

Culinary, belonging to cooking or domestic purposes.

Of what are Needles made?

Of steel; and though exceedingly cheap, they go through a great number of operations before they are brought to perfection. It was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth that the English learnt the art of making needles.

Of what are Pins made?

Of brass wire, blanched with tin. They are manufactured in England, France, the United States, and other countries. Though there is scarcely any commodity cheaper than pins, there is no other which passes through the hands of a greater number of workmen; more than twenty persons being successively employed in the manufacture of each, from the drawing of the brass wire to the sticking of the pin in the paper. Pins are supposed to have been made in England about 1543, or even earlier. Before this art was invented, the ladies made use of wooden skewers.

Blanched, whitened.

Of what is Paper made?

Of linen and cotton rags beaten to a pulp in water; also from straw, wood, and many plants.

What materials were used for writing, before the invention of Paper?

Various were the materials on which mankind in different ages and countries contrived to write: stones, bricks, the leaves of herbs and trees, and their rinds or barks; tablets of wood, wax, and ivory; plates of lead, silk, linen rolls, &c. At length the Egyptian paper made of the papyrus, was invented; then parchment; and lastly, paper manufactured of cotton or linen rags. There are few sorts of plants which have not at some time been used for paper and books. In Ceylon, for instance, the leaves of the talipot; in India, the leaves of the palm (with which they commonly covered their houses,) were used for books. In the East Indies, the leaves of the plantain tree, dried in the sun, were used for the same purpose. In China, paper is made of the inner bark of the mulberry, the bamboo, the elm, the cotton, and other trees.

What is Papyrus?

A large rush, chiefly growing in Egypt, on the banks of the Nile. The ancient Egyptians made sails, ropes, mats, blankets, and canvas, of the stalks and fibres of the papyrus. Their priests also wore shoes made of it; and even sugar was extracted from this plant. Moses, the deliverer raised by God to rescue the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, was exposed to the Nile in a basket of papyrus. The plant is now, however, exceedingly scarce.

Where was the first Paper Mill erected in England?

At Dartford, by a German named Spilman, in 1588. The only sort made, however, was the coarse brown; and it was not till 1690, when the French protestant refugees settled in England, that their own paper-makers began to make white writing and printing paper. The manufacture has been brought to great perfection, both for beauty and substance, in England and the United States.

Protestant, a name given in Germany to those who adhered to the doctrines of the apostate monk, Martin Luther, because they protested against a decree of Charles V. and applied to a general council.

Refugee, from refuge, a place of safety from danger; an asylum. Here it more particularly means those French Protestants who quit their homes and sought other countries, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which deprived them of their religious liberty.

Is it known to whom we are indebted for the invention of Linen Paper?

Not exactly. It has long been disputed among the learned when, and by whom, it was invented; some authors say it was discovered by the Germans, others by the Italians; others ascribe it to some refugee Greeks at Basil, who took the idea from the making of cotton paper in their own country; some, that the Arabs first introduced it into Europe. Perhaps the Chinese have the best title to the invention, inasmuch as they have for many ages made paper, and in some provinces of the same materials as are now used by us in its manufacture.

In what place was the art of Printing first practised?

Who were the inventors of Printing, in what city, and in what year it was begun, has long been a subject of great dispute. Mentz, Harlem, and Strasburg, cities of Germany, all lay claim to the invention, but Mentz seems to have the best title to it.

What was the first Book that was printed from metal types?

A copy of the Holy Scriptures, which made its appearance between the years 1450 and 1452.

Who introduced Printing into England?

William Caxton, a merchant of London, who had acquired a knowledge of it in his travels abroad.

Of what does Printing consist?

Of the art of taking impressions with ink, from movable characters and figures made of metal, &c., upon paper or parchment.

What is Parchment?

Sheep or goat's skin, prepared after a peculiar manner, which renders it proper for several uses, especially for writing on, and for the covering of books. The ancients seem to have used the skins of animals as a writing material, from a remote period.

From what is the word Parchment taken?

From Pergamena, the ancient name of this manufacture, which it is said to have taken from the country of Pergamus; and to Eumenes, king of that country, its invention is usually ascribed, though in reality, that prince appears to have been the improver, rather than the inventor of parchment; since some accounts refer its invention to a still earlier period of time. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, who lived about 450 years before Christ, relates that the ancient Ionians made use of sheep and goat-skins in writing, many ages before the time of Eumenes; the Persians of old, too, wrote all their records on skins, and probably such skins were prepared and dressed for that purpose, after a manner not unlike our parchments, though not so artificially.

Who were the Ionians?

The inhabitants of Ionia, an ancient country in the western part of Asia Minor.

In what manner is Parchment now prepared?

The sheep-skins are smeared over with lime[4] on the fleshy side, folded, laid in heaps, and thus left for some days; they are next stretched very tight on wooden frames, after having been washed, drained, and half dried. The flesh is then carefully taken off with iron instruments constructed on purpose, and the skin cleansed from the remaining hairs that adhere to it. After having gone through several operations till it is perfectly clean and smooth, it is fit for writing upon.

[Footnote 4: See Chapter XVI., article Lime.]

What are the uses of Parchment?

Parchment is of great use for writings which are to be preserved, on account of its great durability; the writing on it remaining perfect for a great number of years. It is also used for the binding of books, and various other purposes.

What is Vellum?

A finer sort of parchment than the former, but prepared in the same manner, except that it is not passed through the lime-pit. It is made of the skins of very young calves: there is also a still finer sort made of the skins of sucking lambs, or kids; this is called virgin parchment, and is very thin, fine, and white, and is used for fancy-work, such as ladies' fans, &c.



What are Capers?

The full-grown flower-buds of the Caper Tree, a small shrub, generally found growing out of the fissures of rocks, or among rubbish, on old walls and ruins, giving them a gay appearance with its large white flowers. It is a native of Italy: it is also common in the south of France, where it is much cultivated.

How are they prepared, and for what are they used?

They are gathered, and dried in the shade; then infused in vinegar, to which salt is added; after which they are put in barrels, to be used as a pickle, chiefly in sauces.

What are frequently substituted for Capers?

The buds of broom pickled in the same manner, or the berries of the nasturtium, an American annual plant, with pungent fruit.

What are Almonds?

The nut of the Almond Tree, a species of the peach, growing in most of the southern parts of Europe; there are two kinds, the bitter and the sweet.

What are their qualities and use?

The sweet almonds are of a soft, grateful taste, and much used by the confectioner in numerous preparations of sweet-meats, cookery, &c. Both sorts yield an oil, and are useful in medicine.

Of what country is the Orange a native?

It is a native of China, India, and most tropical countries; but has long been produced in great perfection in the warmer parts of Europe and America. Oranges are imported in immense quantities every year, from the Azores, Spain, Portugal, Italy, &c. They are brought over in chests and boxes, packed separately in paper to preserve them. The oranges in common use with us are the bitter or Seville, the China or sweet orange, and those from Florida.

Where are the Azores situated?

In the Atlantic Ocean, about 800 miles west of Portugal. These islands are very productive in wine and fruits.

Where is Seville?

In Spain; it is an ancient and considerable city, the capital of the province of Andalusia. The flowers of the Seville orange are highly odoriferous, and justly esteemed one of the finest perfumes. Its fruit is larger than the China orange, and rather bitter; the yellow rind or peel is warm and aromatic. The juice of oranges is a grateful and wholesome acid.

Odoriferous, sweet-scented, fragrant; having a brisk, agreeable smell which may be perceived at a distance.

Who first introduced the China Orange into Europe?

The Portuguese. It is said that the very tree from which all the European orange trees of this sort were produced, was still preserved some years back, at the house of the Count St. Laurent, in Lisbon. In India, those most esteemed, and which are made presents of as rarities, are no larger than a billiard ball. The Maltese oranges are said by some to be the finest in the world.

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