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An average quantity planted does not necessarily yield an average supply. Experience shows, that although an average quantity is sown, yet from the effect of drought in seed-time, of rains in harvest, and the grubs, and worms, and Hessian flies, the crop will fall below the average ; whereas, with favoring sunshine and showers, in other years, the product will be beyond the average. If the demand is for food only, so that an average crop is necessary to supply the average de. mand, in case of a short supply, the people will feel the ill effects in scarcity and high prices; and in case of an abundant harvest, the supply exceeding the demand, the farmer feels the ill effects in reduced prices. And if grain does not, on an average, yield a remuner. ating price, the tendency is to discourage production and cause scarcity. But where there is a steady demand for a supply beyond what is necessary for food, and a quantity is produced in average years to meet that supply, even in case of short crops, there is corn enough in the country to supply the country with food, the shortness of the crop will be felt in the increased price, it will be used more economically, both for food and for distillation, and no desolating scarcity will be perceived. So, in a year of production considerably beyond the average of years, the effect will be felt in some reduction of price, affecting the whole product; the distiller of burning-fluid, finding the price low, knowing that there will be a demand for his alcohol, which may be perfectly preserved without loss, except the slight one of interest, is induced to come into the market and purchase freely, thus maintaining and equalizing prices, to the benefit both of farmer and consumer, and causing the superabundant product of one year to supply the deficiencies of another.
“In looking at the magnitude of this interest to the whole country, and for future time, in an industrial and economical point of view, I am unwilling to give up the hope of deriving the artificial light of the country from this source, until the resources of science and skill have been exhausted in vain in finding means to keep and use it with safety. If, with all reasonable precautions, it cannot be used without danger to life, in the name of humanity let it be abandoned. But all useful agents are attended with some danger. A common lamp or candle may set fire to a dress or a curtain and destroy a life or a dwelling. All that can be hoped is to produce an article which, with reasonable care and prudence, and knowledge of its qualities, may be used with reasonable safety.
“ It appears to me, that there are two modes in which scientific research and investigation may tend to prevent or lessen the danger in using this article. One is, by a thorough knowledge of the chemical qualities of these ingredients, so to mix and combine them, as to render them less explosive ; and the other to ascertain and point out the mode of action and operation of these fluids, and show the causes and modes of sudden and unexpected ignition, so that those who use them may easily learn, and with ordinary prudence practise, the necessary means of avoiding danger. In the hope that something of this sort can be done, I commend the subject to the continued attention of our scientific friends."
Dr. C. T. Jackson, in illustration of the views of Judge Shaw, observed, " that the use of alcohol was of the greatest importance to the agriculture of the Western States, for it was the most valuable product of Indian corn in many of those States. If corn could not be converted into alcohol and oil, it would in many places cease to be a profitable crop. Indian corn, when fermented, yielded first fifteen gallons of oil of corn (a fixed oil) per hundred bushels of corn.
" The next product was a fermented one, which on distillation yielded corn-whiskey, and the corn-whiskey passed into our Eastern States for manufacturing purposes.
“ This was, in part, rectified into alcohol of ninety per cent., and that was used for the manufacture of burning-fluid, of cologne, spirits or tinctures of various kinds, &c. The ordinary whiskey was used for making white vinegar by fermentation in tuns filled with beach shavings, and this vinegar was employed in the manufacture of white-lead and sugar of lead. This vinegar was also extensively sold for making pickles and for domestic uses, and, when colored by burnt sugar, passed ordinarily for cider-vinegar, though it was not so pleasant to the taste as the true cider-vinegar.
“ The oil from Indian corn has thus far been profitably separated only by the process of fermentation. It is of sufficient value to repay the cost of raising corn in the Western States, the oil being worth on the spot where made about one dollar per gallon, which is fifteen cents' worth of oil per bushel of corn. The alcohol or whiskey was also a valuable product.
“Dr. Jackson had separated from six to eleven per cent. of pure corn oil from the eastern varieties of Zea mays, and had found most oil in the Canada and rice corn. It is contained in the gluten-cells of the grain, and is set free by decomposition of those cells by fermentation."
Three hundred and sixty-first meeting.
May 4, 1852. — MONTHLY MEETING. The VICE-PRESIDENT, Mr. Everett, in the chair.
Professor Agassiz made an oral communication at considerable length, “On the Foundation of Symmetry throughout the Animal Kingdom.”
Dr. Asa Gray communicated the characters of two new genera of plants of the order Violacee, discovered by the naturalists of the United States Exploring Expedition.
“ One of these genera, of a single species, was discovered in the Feejee Islands. It belongs to the tribe Violea, having an irregular corolla, which is not unlike that of Ionidium ; but the fruit is probably baccate, and the stamens are diadelphous, the posterior one being distinct from the four others. Something like this structure occurs in Corynostylis ; but the corolla of that genus is very different. The genus is named in memory of the botanical draughtsman of the expedition, the late Alfred T. Agate. I trust that the name Agatea will be deemed sufficiently different from Agathèa and Agati to be retained.
“AGATEA, Nov. Gen. “ Calyx 5.phyllus, subæqualis, basi haud productus, deciduus. Petala 5, erecta, inæqualia ; postica lateralibus paullo minora; anticum majus, labelliforme, spathulatum, basi dilatatum gibboso-saccatum. Stamina 5, diadelpha, nempe ; filamenta brevia, plana, antica (glandula carnosa aucta) et lateralia marginibus connata, posticum angustius distinctum : antheræ introrsum adnatæ, loculis appositis apice liberis mucronatis ; connectivo in appendicem petaloideam latam producto. Ovarium globosum ; placentis parietalibus 3 pluriovulatis. Stylus apice clavatus, curvatus : stigma laterale. Fructus baccatus ? - Frutex sarmentosus ; foliis oblongis subintegerrimis ramisque glabris ; stipulis minimis caducis; racemis paniculisve axillaribus multifloris; pedicellis 2-3-bracteolatis infra apicem articulatis ; floribus parvis viridulis.
“ AGATEA VIOLARIS, sp. nov. — Feejee Islands.
“The other genus is from the Sandwich Islands, where three species were collected by the naturalists of the Expedition. It belongs to the section Alsodineæ, having a regular corolla. Indeed, it differs from Alsodeia, Paypayrola, Aubl., and Pentaloba, Lour. (if these are distinct genera), chiefly in the entirely separated stamens, with narrow filaments and normal anthers, destitute of any dilated or prolonged connective, and in the unilateral stigma, which, in a flower otherwise perfectly regular, vindicates its relationship with the genuine Violeæ. The fol. lowing are the characters of the genus and species.
“ISODENDRION, Nov. Gen. “Calyx 5-phyllus, æqualis, persistens. Corolla regularis; petala 5, lineari-spathulata, longe tubuloso-conniventia, apice dilatata patentia. Stamina 5, discreta : filamenta angusta, inappendiculata, apice haud producta, antheram basifixam nudam gerentia. Ovarium uniloculare ; placentis 3 parietalibus'2-ovulatis. Stylus elongatus, subclavatus, apice decurvus : stigma punctiforme laterale. Ovula collateralia, horizontalia. Capsula coriacea, 3-sperma, 3-valvis. Semina Violæ. — Arbusculæ vel frutices Sandwicenses ; foliis alternis confertis; stipulis triangulatis appressis diu persistentibus ; floribus axillaribus solitariis breviter pedicellatis parvis.
“ISODENDRION PYRIFOLIUM : foliis membranaceis ovalibus seu ovatoellipticis crenato-serratis petiolatis, junioribus subtus ramulisque pubescentibus ; stipulis sepalisque dorso sericeis margine scariosis; foribus pendulis. — Kaala Mountains, Oahu, Sandwich Islands.
“ISODENDRION LONGIFOLIUM : glabrum ; foliis subcoriaceis obovatolanceolatis seu cuneato-oblongis in petiolum angustatis subrepandis ; sepalis ovatis stipulisque lævibus ; foribus in ramos crassos brevissime pedicellatis. - Kaala Mountains, Oahu, Sandwich Islands.
“ISODENDRION LAURIFOLIUM : glabrum ; foliis coriaceis oblongolanceolatis subrepandis basi obtusis brevissime petiolatis ; sepalis lan. ceolatis. - With the preceding.
“ The other Violaceæ of the Sandwich Islands which occur in the collection are the shrubby Viola Chamissoniana of Gingins, from which
V. trachelifolia of the same author is not to be distinguished, and a new species from the island of Kauai, V. Kauensis, which has the habit of V. sarmentosa of Oregon, and nearly the structure of the Australian V. hederacea.”
Dr. Gray also communicated the characters of a new genus of Anonacee from the Feejee Islands, dedicated to Mr. Rich, the official botanist of the Exploring Expedition, viz. :
"RICHELLA, Nov. Gen. “Calyx subtrilobus, persistens. Corolla e petalis 6 ovatis, internis dimidio brevioribus. Torus acetabuliformis. Stamina indefinita Guatteriæ. Ovaria plura, libera, 2-ovulata : styli intus longitudinaliter stig. matosi. Ovula suturæ ventrali juxta basim inserta, adscendentia, superposita. Fructus e carpellis paucis, obovoideis, subcarnosis (siccate coriaceis), indehiscentibus, breviter stipitatis, monospermis. Semen magnum, samaroideo-nuciforme ; nempe, testa coriacea marginibus alato-productis. Albumen, embryo, etc. ordinis. — Arbor Uvariæ facie.
“RICHELLA MONOSPERMA. Ovolau, Feejee Islands. — According to Blume's arrangement of the order, this genus would stand next to Polyalthia, from which it is distinguished, as from all the others, by its winged seed.”
At the suggestion of Professor Lovering, the Academy referred to the Committee on Publications an account by Mr. John Farrar, formerly Professor at Cambridge, of his observa. tions of the solar eclipse of September 17, 1811. As these observations do not appear to have been published, the committee have made the following extracts for the Proceedings :
" The place of observation is about five hundred feet southwest of Harvard Hall in Cambridge. Several gentlemen assisted me in observing the eclipse, and the following are the times, - in mean solar time, — with the instrument used in the observation in each case :