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they cease to become a habitat for such microscopic abominations. The copper-salt poisons the poisoners.

Dr. Burg goes so far as to recommend that building materials, articles of furniture, and clothing, &c., should be injected with sulphate of copper, in order to avert infection, and in support of this refers to the immunity of workers in copper from cholera, typhoid fever, and infectious diseases generally.

I agree with him to the extent of suggesting the desirability of occasionally mopping house floors with this solution. Its visible effects on the wood are first to stain it with a faint green tinge which gradually tones down to a brown stain, giving to deal the appearance of oak, a change which has no disadvantage from an artistic point of view. If the wood is already tainted with organic matter capable of giving off sulphuretted hydrogen, the darkening change is more rapid and decided, owing to the formation of sulphide

of copper.

The solution of sulphate should not be put into iron or zinc vessels, as it rapidly corrodes them, and deposits a non-adherent film of copper. It will even disintegrate common earthenware, by penetrating the glaze, and crystallising within the pores of the ware, but this is a work of time (weeks or months). Stoneware resists

a this, and wooden buckets may be used safely. It is better to keep the crystals and dissolve when required. Ordinary earthenware may be used with impunity if washed immediately afterwards.

Ti

ENSILAGE. 'HIS subject has been largely expounded and discussed lately

in the Times and other newspapers. As most of my readers are doubtless aware, it is simply a substitute for haymaking, by digging pils, paving and building them round with stone or concrete, then placing the green fodder therein and covering it over with sufficient earth to exclude the air.

We are told that very inferior material (such as coarse maize grass mixed with chaff) when thus preserved gives better feeding and milking results than good English hay.

I may mention a very humble experience of my own that bears upon this. When a boy, I was devoted to silkworms, and my very small supply of pocket-money was over-taxed in the purchase of exorbitantly small pennyworths of mulberry leaves at Covent Garden. But a friend in the country had a mulberry tree, and at rather long intervals I obtained large supplies, which, in spite of all my careful

a

wrapping in damp cloths, became rotted in about ten days. I finally tried digging a hole and burying them. They remained fresh and green until all my silkworms commenced the working and fasting stage of their existence. This was ensilage on a small scale.

The correspondence in the newspapers has suggested a number of reasons why English farmers do not follow the example of their continental neighbours in this respect; climate, difference of grasses, &c., &c., are named, but the real reason why this is commercially impossible, and farming, properly so called, is becoming a lost art in England (mere meadow or prairie grazing gradually superseding it) is not named in any part of the discussion that I have read.

I refer to the cause which is abolishing the English dairy, which drives us to the commercial absurdity of importing fragile eggs from France, Italy, Spain, &c., apples from the other side of the Atlantic, tame house-fed rabbits from Belgium, and so on, with all other agricultural products which are precisely those we are naturally best able to produce at home; I mean those demanding a small area of land and a proportionately large amount of capitul and labour. A poultry or rabbit farm, acre for acre, demands fully ten times the capital, ten times the labour, and yields ten times the produce obtained by our big-field beef and mutton graziers.

The scientific and economic merits of ensilage are probably all that is claimed for it, and it is especially adapted for our uncertain haymaking climate, but what farmer who is merely a lodger on the land, holding it as an annual tenant at will or under a stinted beggarly lease of 21 years, would expend his capital in building a costly silo which becomes by our feudal laws and usages the absolute property of the landlord ?

Our tenant farmers employ the latest and best achievements of engineering science in the form of implements, but take care that they shall be upon wheels, or otherwise non-fixtures, and use rich chemically prepared manures, provided they are not permanent, while they abstain from improvements which involve any serious outlay in the form of fixtures on the land. Those who lecture them about their want of enterprise should always remember that their condition is merely a form of feudal seridom, tempered by the possession of capital, and that all their agricultural operations are influenced by a continual struggle to prevent their capital from falling into the hands of the feudal lord. Anybody who has ever read an ordinary form of English farm-lease with its prohibitions concerning the sale of hay and straw, and restrictions to "four-course," or other mode of cultivation, must see the hopelessness of any development of British agriculture comparable to that of British commerce and manufactures.

Imagine the condition of a London shopkeeper or Midland manufacturer holding his business premises as a yearly tenant, liable at six months' notice to quit, with confiscation of all his business fixtures.

THE

THE FRACTURE OF COMETS.
HE view of the constitution of comets expounded in one of my

notes of April last, viz. that they are meteoric systems consisting of a central mass, or masses, round which a multitude of minor bodies are revolving like satellites around their primary, is strongly confirmed by the curious proceedings of the present comet, which proceedings also justify my last note of last month pointing out the omission of our astronomers, who have neglected the positive and irregular repulsive action of the sun upon comets, that, like the great comets of 1843, 1880, and 1882, come within a few hundred thousand miles of the visible solar surface.

The solar prominences are stupendous eruptions from the sun, consisting, as the spectroscope demonstrates, of hydrogen flames and incandescent metallic vapours ejected with furious violence to visible distances ranging from ten or twenty to above three hundred thousand miles, but this flame shown by the spectroscope is but the flash of the gun, the actual ejection proceeding vastly farther, far beyond the limits of the corona, as described in last month's notes. These eruptions are so abundant that Secchi alone observed and recorded 2,767 in one year (1871). Speaking generally, the sun is never free from them, and they proceed from all parts of the sun, but most abundantly from the sun-spot zones.

A system of meteoric bodies such as I suppose to form a comet (I mean the comet as it exists in space before the generation of its tail, which is only formed as it approaches the sun) could not approach so near to the sun as did the present comet at perihelion, without encountering more or less of these furious blasts the flash of some of which have been seen to move with a measurable mean velocity of above 300 miles per second, and a probable maximum velocity sufficient to eject solid matter beyond the reclaiming grasp of solar gravitation.

It is evident that such a meteoric system as I suppose to constitute a comet would, in the course of a rapid perihelion flight crossing these outblasts, be liable to various degrees of ejection in different parts, that would disturb its original structure by blowing some of its constituents out of their orbits, or even quite away from the control of the feeble gravitation of the general meteoric mass, and thus effecting a rupture of the comet.

Now such a disintegration or dispersion of the present comet has been actually observed. Several able observers have described a breaking of the head of this comet shortly after its perihelion passage.

Commander Sampson's observations with the great 26-inch equatorial of the Washington Naval Observatory are very explicit. On October 25 he saw the nucleus as a single welldefined globular body. On November 3, with the same telescope, he saw a triple nucleus, due to the formation of two additional minor bodies. These were still more distinctly seen on November 6. Mr. W. R. Brooks, of New York, saw a detached fragment of the comet which afterwards faded out of view. Professor Schmidt observed another and similar fragment which has likewise disappeared.

All these observations indicate disruption due to some disturbing force, acting with different degrees of violence upon different portions of the comet.

Minor disturbances of this kind will, I think, account for the trail of meteoric bodies which Schiaparelli has shown, to follow the paths of other comets. A great disturbance might give quite a new orbit to the meteoric fragments.

These considerations suggest another and a curious view of the question of possible cometary collision with the sun, viz. that a comet might be travelling in such an orbit as to make it mathematically due to plunge obliquely beneath the solar surface at its next perihelion ; but on its approach to the surface of the sun it might encounter so violent an outrush of solar-prominence matter as to drive it bodily out of its course, and avert the threatened peril to its existence.

THE ORIGIN OF COMETS.

E read in story-books of uncomfortable people who have

cherished a guilty secret in their bosoms, that it has "gnawed their vitals," until at last they have carried it to the grave. I have such a secret that does the gnawing business whenever I write or speak of comets, concerning the origin of which I am guilty of an hypothesis that has hitherto been cherished as aforesaid from the very shame of adding another to an already exaggerated heap of speculations on celestial physics.

It assumes, in the first place, that all the other suns which we see as stars are constituted like our own sun ; that they eject grea

eruptions similar to the prominences above described, and even of vastly greater magnitude as in the case of the flashing stars that have excited so much wonderment among astronomers, but which I regard simply as suns like ours, subject like ours to periodic maximum and minimum activities, but of greater magnitude.

If such is the case, some of the prominence matter or vaporous constituents of these suns must be ejected with much greater proportional violence than are those from our sun. But those from our sun have been proved to rush out on some occasions with a velocity so great that the solar gravitation cannot bring them back. If such is ever the case with the explosions of our sun, it must be of frequent occurrence with the greater explosions of certain stars, and therefore vast quantities of meteoric matter are continually ejected into space, and travelling there until they come within the gravitation domain of some other sun like ours, when they will necessarily be bent into such orbits as those of comets.

But what will be the nature of this meteoric matter ?

If from our sun, it would be a multitude of metallic hailstones, due to the condensation of the metallic vapour by cooling as it leaves the sun, and such meteoric hail would correspond to the meteoric stones that fall upon our earth, and which, for reasons stated in “ The Fuel of the Sun," I believe to be of solar origin. Besides these, there would be ice-hail, such as Schevedorf claims to be meteoric.

A star mainly composed of hydrogen and carbon, or densely enveloped in these gases (as the spectroscope indicates to be the case in some of these flashing stars), would eject hydro-carbon vapours, condensible by cooling into solids similar to those we obtain by the condensation of terrestrial hydro-carbon vapours (paraffin, camphor, turpentine, and all the essential oils, for example), and thus we should have the meteoric systems composed of these particles circulating about their own common centre of mass as above stated, and displaying the spectrum which Dr. Huggins has found common to comets.

If this is correct, the present comet comes from a sun that contains metallic sodium in addition to the hydro-carbons, as the spectrum of this metal was seen when this comet was near enough to the sun to render its vapour incandescent.

W. MATTIEU WILLIAMS.

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