THERE are not a few timid souls who imagine that England is falling into decay. Our Cousin John is apt to complain. He has been accustomed to enlarge upon his debts, his church-rates and poor-rates, his taxes on air, light, motion, “ everything, from the ribbons of the bride to the brass nails of the coffin,” upon the wages of his servants both on the laud and the water, upon his Irish famine and exodus, and his vast expenses at home and abroad. And when we consider how small is his homestead, a few islands in a high latitude inferior to those of Japan in size and climate, and how many of his family have left him to better their condition, one might easily conclude that he had passed his meridian, and that his prospects were as cloudy as his atmosphere.

But our Cousin John, with a strong constitution, is in a green old age, and still knows how to manage his property.

Within the last two years he has quietly extinguished sixty millions of his debts in terminable annuities. He has improved his outlying lands of Scotland and Ireland, ransacked the battle-fields of Europe for bone-dust and the isles of the Pacific for guano, and imported enough to fertilize four millions of acres, and, not content with the produce of his homefarm, imports the present year more than four millions of tons of grain and corn to feed nineteen millions of his people.

He has carried his annual exports up to six hundred and thirty millions of dollars, and importing more than he exports still leaves the world his debtor. He has a strong fancy for new possessions, and selects the most productive spots for his plantations; When he desired muslin, calico, and camel's-hair shawls for his family, he put his finger on India; and when he called for those great staples of commerce, indigo, saltpetre, jute, flax, and linseed, India sent them at his bidding. When he required coffee, he found Ceylon a Spice Island, and at his demand it furnished him with an annual supply of sixty millions of pounds. He required more sugar for his coffee, and by shipping a few coolies from Calcutta and Bombay to the Mauritius, once the Isle of France, it yields him annually two hundred and forty million pounds of sugar, more than St. Domingo ever yielded in the palmy days of slavery. He wanted wool, and his flocks soon overspread the plains of Australia, tendering him the finest fleeces, and his shepherds improved their leisure not in playing like Tityrus on the reed, but in opening for him mines of copper and gold, He had his eye on California, but Fremont was too quick for him, and he now contents himself with pocketing a large proportion of her gold, to say nothing of the silver of Mexico and Peru.

Wherever there is a canal to be excavated, a railway to be built, or a line of steamers to be established, our Cousin John is ready with a full purse to favor the enterprise. He turns even his sailors and soldiers to good account: the other day he subdued one hundred and fifty millions of rebels in the Indies, and then we find him dictating a treaty of peace and a tribute to the Emperor of China from the ruins of his summer-palace and the walls of Pekin. Although generally well disposed, especially towards his kith and kin this side the water, he is choleric, and if his best customers treat him ill, he does not hesitate to knock them down. Although dependent on Russia for his hemp and naval stores, and on China for his raw silk and teas, he suffers no such considerations to deter him from fighting, and usually gets some advantage when he comes, to terms. He is belting the world with colonies, and forming agencies for his children wherever he can send the messengers of his commerce. At this very moment he is considering whether he shall transport coolies from China to Australia, Natal, or the Feegee Islands, to raise his cotton and help put down Secession and exportduties, or whether he shall give a new stimulus to India cotton by railways and irrigation, He seems to prosper in all Lis business; for the “ Edinburgh Review” reports him worth six thousand millions of pounds, at least, — a very comfortable provision for his family.

The wealth and power of Great Britain are supposed to rest upon her mines of iron and coal. These undoubtedly help to sustain the fabric. With her iron and coal, she fashions and propels the winged Mercuries of her commerce; with these and the clay that underlies her soil, she erects her factories and workshops; these form the Briarean arms by which she fabricates her tissues. But it is by more minute columns than these, it is by the hollow tubes revealed by the microscope, the fibres of silk, wool, and flax, hemp, jute, and cotton, that she sustains the great structure of her wealth. These she spins, weaves, and prints into draperies which exact a tribute from the world. During the year 1860 Great Britain imported or produced a million tons of such fibres, an amount equal to five million bales of cotton, more than one-half of which were in cotton alone. These fibres it is our purpose to examine.

The thread of the silk-worm came early into use. The Chinese ascribe its introduction to the wife of one of their emperors, to whom divine honors were subsequently paid. Until the Christian era silk was little known in Europe or Western Asia. It is mentioned but three times in the common version of the Old Testament, and in each case the accuracy of the translation is questioned by German critics. It is, however, distinctly alluded to by St. John, by Aristotle, and by the pouts who flourished at the court of Augustus, Virgil, Horace, and Tibullus, and is referred to by the writers of the first four centuries. Tertullian, in his homily on Female Attire, tells the ladies, — “Clothe yourselves with the silk of truth, with the fine linen of sanctity, and the purple of modesty.” The golden-mouthed St. Chrisostom writes in his Homilies, — “ Does the rich man wear silken shawls ? His soul is in tatters.” “ Silken shawls are beautiful, but they are the production of worms.”

The silken thread was early introduced. Galen recommends it for tying blood-vessels in surgical operations, and remarks that the rich ladies in the cities of the Roman Empire generally possessed such thread; he alludes also to shawls interwoven with gold, the material of which is brought from a distance, and is called Sericum, or silk. Down to the time of the Emperor Aurclian silk was of great value, and used only by the rich. His biographer informs us that Aurelian neither had himself in his wardrobe a garment composed wholly of silk, nor presented any to others, and when his own wile begged him to allow her a single shawl of purple silk, he replied, — “Far be it from me to permit thread to he balanced with its weight in gold ! ” — for a pound of gold was then the price of a pound of silk.

Silk is mentioned in some very ancient Arabic inscriptions ; but down to the reign of the Emperor Justinian was imported into Europe from the country of the Seres, a people of Eastern Asia, supposed to be the Chinese, from whom it derived its name. During the reign of Justinian two monks brought the eggs of the silkworm to Byzantium from Serinda in India, and the manufacture of silk became a royal monopoly of the Roman Empire.

From Greece the culture of silk was gradually carried into Italy and Spain, and English abbots and bishops often returned from Rome with vestments of silk and gold. Silken threads are attached to the covers of ancient English manuscripts. Silk in the form of velvet may be seen on some of the ancient armor in the Tower of London; and portions of silk garments were found in 1827 in the Cathedral of Durham, on opening the tomb of St. Cuthbert. The use of silk, however, was so rare in England. down to the time of the Tudors, that a pair of silk hose formed an acceptable present to Queen Elizabeth.

The principal supply of raw silk is now derived from China, where silks are much worn, and there Marco Polo several centuries since found silk robes in very general use. Japan also abounds in silk, and the late Japanese embassy and suite were arrayed in garments of that material.

The annual consumption of raw silk in Great Britain now averages seven millions of pounds, and the value of the annual export of silk fabrics is not far from ten millions of dollars.

The manufacture of silk was introduced into England by the French Protestants who were driven into exile on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Their descendants are still found in London and Coventry, where the silk-trade has been long established, and is now going through the ordeal to which it has been exposed by the new treaty with France.

The French undoubtedly take the lead in silk fabrics, for which they are admirably qualified by exquisite taste and great artistic skill; but the silk manufacture in England is now so interwoven, in many of its branches, with the manufacture of wool and cotton, and aided by improved machinery, that it may be considered as firmly established.

Our own climate is well adapted to the silk-worm, and we have had our Morus-multicaulis fever; but so light is the freight on silk compared with its value, that we must defer our hope of any extended growth until the price of labor in Europe approaches nearer to our own, or until the excess of production in other branches shall divert genius into this channel, in which it will eventually cheapen production by machinery as it has done in other enterprises.

We read in the classics of the Colchian and Milesian fleeces, of the soft wools of Italy, and of the transfer of sheep from Italy to Bietica, in Spain. Italy and Spain were both adapted to sheep husbandry. Virgil writes,—

“ Hic gelidi fontes,hic mollia prat a, Lycori”;

while Spain, with her alternations of hill and dale and her varying climate, was eminently fitted for the pasturage of sheep. Even in ancient times Spain furnished wool of great fineness and of various colors, and cloths like the modern plaids were woven there from wool of different shades. Sometimes the Spanish sheep was immersed alive in the Tyrian purple.

In modern times, the sheep of Spain have been introduced into France and Germany, and from them have sprung the French merino and Saxony varieties. These again have been exported to Natal and Australia.

Before the American Revolution, the sheep of this country furnished a wool so coarse that English travellers reported that America could never compete with England in broadcloth. But when the French armies overran Spain, the vast flocks of merinos which annually traversed the country in search of fresh pasturage were driven into Portugal, and by the enterprise of Messrs. Jarvis, Derby, and Humphrey, large numbers of them were imported into our Northern States. These have improved our wool, until now it surpasses the English in fineness.

The fine-wool sheep thrive most in a dry climate and elevated country. We learn from Strabo, Columella, and Martial, that the fine wool of Italy was raised principally among the Apennines ; and in Spain, Estromadura, a part of the ancient Bætica, is still famous for its wool. There the Spanish flocks winter, and thence in spring are sent to pasture in the mountains of Leon and Asturias. Other flocks are led in the same season from great distances to the heights of the Sierra Morena, where the vegetation is remarkably favorable to improvement of the wool.

In this country, the elevated lands of Texas and New Mexico are admirably adapted to the fine-wool sheep ; and upon the head-waters of the Missouri and the Yellowstone is another district much resembling the Spanish sheep-walks, where the mountain-sheep and the antelope still predominate.

When Cæsar invaded England he found there great numbers of flocks, and for many centuries wool was the great staple of English exports; but during the reign of Queen Elizabeth numerous artisans were driven from Brabant and Flanders by the Duke of Alva, and the manufacture of wool, which had enriched the Low Countries, was permanently established in England.

With the progress of agriculture, the turnip-culture enabled Great Britain to increase the number of her sheep ; but they were raised more for the market than for their fleeces, which were rarely fine, and the demand for wool soon exceeded the supply. England then opened her ports to the free importation of wool from every region, and now annually manufactures two hundred millions of pounds, twice the amount manufactured in this country, of which two-thirds are drawn from distant lands, and her export of woollens for 1860 exceeded one hundred millions of dollars.

The same policy which has built up this vast manufacture, namely, the free importation of the raw material and of every article used in its manufacture, with a moderate duty on foreign cloths, will enable us to compete with England. Our farmers’ wives prefer the sheep-husbandry to the care of the dairy; much of our land furnishes cheap pasturage, and the prices of mutton are remunerative; but many of the low grades of wool come from abroad, and the mill-owner will not embark largely in the manufacture, unless he can purchase his materials as cheaply as his foreign competitor.

Cotton is mentioned by Herodotus five centuries before the Christian era. He alludes to the cotton-trees of India, and describes a cuirass sent from Egypt to the King of Sparta embellished with gold and with fleeces from trees. Theophrastus, the disciple of Aristotle, notices the growth of cotton both in India and Arabia, and observes that the cotton-plants of India have a leaf like the black mulberry, and are set on the plains in rows, resembling vines in the distance. On the Persian Gulf he noticed that they bore no fruit, but a capsule about the size of a quince, which, when ripe, expanded so as to set free the wool, which was woven into cloth of various kinds, both very cheap and of great value.

The cotton-plant was observed by the Greeks who accompanied Alexander in his march to India; and his officers have left a description of the cotton dress and turban which formed the costume of the natives at that remote period.

Cotton early found its way into Egypt, then the seat of arts and of commerce ; for Pliny in his “Natural History” informs us that “in Upper Egypt, towards Arabia, there grows a shrub which some call Gossypion and others Xylon. It is small, and bears a fruit resembling the filbert, within which is a downy wool that is spun into thread. There is nothing to be preferred to these stuffs for whiteness or softness. Beautiful garments are made from them for the priests of Egypt.”

The troops of Anthony wore cotton when he visited Cleopatra, and she was arrayed in vestments of fine muslin. It was soon after used for the sails of vessels, and the Homans employed it for awnings in the Forum and the Amphitheatres.

It was cultivated at an early period in the Levant, whence if was gradually introduced into Sicily, France, and England.

Arabian travellers who reached China in the ninth century did not observe the cotton-plant in that country, but found the natives clad in silk.

The cotton-plant, although indigenous in India, has also been found growing spontaneously in many parts of Africa. It was discovered by Columbus in Hispaniola, and among the presents sent by Cortes to Charles V. were cotton mantles, vests, and carpets of various figures, and in the conquest of Mexico the Indian allies wore armor of quilted cotton, impervious to arrows.

The plant of India resembles that of America in most particulars. It is there often placed in alternate rows with rice, and after the rice-harvest is over puts forth a beautiful yellow flower with a crimson eye in each petal; this is succeeded by a green pod tilled with a white pulp, which as it ripens turns brown, and then separates into several divisions containing the cotton. A luxuriant field, says Forbes in his “ Oriental Memoirs” “exhibits at the same time the expanding blossom, the bursting capsule, and the snowy fleeces of pure cotton, and is one of the most beautiful objects in the agriculture of Hindustan.”

The manufacture of cotton in India, with very simple machinery, was early brought to high perfection. Travellers in the ninth century describe muslins in India which were of such fineness that they might be drawn through a ring of moderate size; and Tavernier speaks of turbans, composed of thirty-five ells of the cloth, which would weigh but four ounces. Muslin has been sold in India for five hundred rupees the piece, so fine, that, when laid upon the grass after the dew had fallen, it was no longer visible. The patience, the nice sense of touch, and the flexible fingers of the Hindoos have with the simplest means achieved results in this branch of manufacture which have not been surpassed by any people.

But this manufacture is now breathing its last; the cotton-gin, the spinning-frame, the nude with its countless spindles, and the power-loom are fearful competitote ; and although British India still produces quite as much cotton as our Southern States, and while she exports at least eight hundred thousand bales annually to England and China, continues at the same time to make the larger part of her own clothing, flourishing cities, like Dacca and Delhi, once the seat of manufactures, are going to decay, and a large proportion of her people, willing to toil at six cents per day in occupations that have been transmitted for centuries in the same families, are either driven to the culture of the fields or compelled to spin and weave for a pittance the jute which is converted into gunny-cloth.

When India muslins and calicoes were first imported into England, they met with a formidable opposition. They had suddenly become fashionable, and threatened to supersede the long-established woollens; and the nation, in its wisdom, first prohibited the importation of these fabrics, and then subjected them to a duty of sixpence per yard. In France, Amiens, Rouen, and Paris protested against cotton as ruinous to the country. But it has surmounted all these obstacles, is firmly established in both nations, and now its manufacture gives support to oneseventh part of the population of Great Britain, employs there thirty-four millions of spindles, consumes annually two and a half million bales of the raw material, and sends abroad, in addition to thread and yarn, twenty-eight hundred million yards of fabrics, of the aggregate value of two hundred and thirty millions of dollars.

In 1856, Great Britain derived her supply of cotton from the following countries, namely : —

From the United States . 71 per cent.

“ the East Indies . . 19 “ “

“ Brazil . . . . . 5 “ “

“ Egypt . . . . . . . 4 1/2 “ “

“ the West Indies . 1/2

But while her supply from India in the twelve years from 1845 to 1857 increased nearly two hundred per cent., namely, from two hundred thousand to six hundred thousand bales, she has increased her exports of cotton fabrics to that country to such an extent, that, for every pound she imports, she returns a pound of thread and cloth enhanced at least fourfold in value, while she returns to the United States in cotton fabrics less than three per cent, of the cotton she receives from them. And since 1857 such improvements have been made in the cotton-mills of New England, that we now consume more than a million of bales annually, and our production and export are rapidly increasing.

Some curious alternations have attended the growth and manufacture of cotton. As machinery has improved and the cost of goods diminished, the price of cotton has advanced and a strong stimulus been given to its production.

New States have consequently been opened to its culture, and the alluvial lands of Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas have been devoted to the plant. Slaves have thus been attracted from the Middle States and diverted from the less profitable culture of wheat and tobacco to the cotton-fields. Half a century since, the Middle States contained two-thirds of the negroes of the Union ; but under the census of 1860 two millions and a half of slaves are now found south of North Carolina, and but a million and a half north of the Cotton States. In the Cotton States the negroes nearly equal the white population ; in the Border States the whites are at least four to one. In the Cotton States the slaves and the culture of cotton are increasing at the rate of at least five per cent.; in the Border States the slave population is either stationary or retrograde, and the future of those States is clearly indicated. Down to a recent period the march of the planter and his forces across the Cotton States has been like that of an invading army. Vast forests of heavy timber have been felled, land rapidly exhausted and abandoned, and new fields opened and soon deserted for a virgin soil.

But with the increased demand of the last seven years for cotton, and with the enhanced price of the slave, which rises at least one hundred dollars with each advance of a cent per pound on cotton, more permanent improvements have been made, railways have been opened, and at least fifty thousand tons of guano and cotton-seed have been annually applied to the exhausted cotton-fields of the Carolinas and Georgia. Under these appliances the crops of the United States have kept pace with the manufacture, and in 1859 rose to the amount of twenty-one hundred millions of pounds, thus replenishing the markets that had been recently exhausted, and actually exceeding the entire consumption for the same year of both Europe and America.

But the crops fluctuate from year to year, and a less favorable season for 1860, accompanied by an increase of at least ten per cent, in spindles, leaves the supply barely equal to the demand, while the diminished crop, and the cry of Secession at the South, with the introduction of an export-duty, have alarmed the spinners of England and led them to consider the effects of a deficiency and to seek new sources of supply.

With the progress of trade the price of the middling cotton of America for the last fifteen years has varied at Liverpool from fourpence to ninepence per pound, and now stands at seven and a half pence by the last quotations. As the stock accumulates or the sale of goods is checked, the price naturally declines, and a check is given to production. As the stock declines or goods advance, an impetus is given to prices, the culture is extended, and cotton flow's in from Egypt and India. When the cotton of Bombay commands more than fivepence per pound at Liverpool, it flows in a strong current from India to Manchester. Should the export-duty be levied in the Cotton States, it may well be presumed that the burden will fall principally upon the planter, and give an additional stimulus to the growth of India, and a new incentive to the British Government to start the culture in other colonies.

The gentlemen of the South sometimes imagine that Old England, as well as New England, is entirely dependent upon cotton, and that society there would he disintegrated, if the crop in the Cotton States should be withheld for a single year. But the Northern mills have usually six months’ supply ; and Great Britain holds upon an average enough for three months in her ports, for two months at her mills, and as much more upon the ocean. The English spinner, too, can not only reduce his time one-fourth without stopping, but can reduce his consumption another fourth by raising, his numbers and increasing the fineness of his cloth ; and as he draws one-fourth of his supply from other countries, it is obvious that he might hold out for nearly two years without a hale from America.

Could the cotton-planter hold out any longer ? Let it not be forgotten that the Embargo was voted to bring England to terms by withholding rice, cotton, wheat., and naval stores, but proved a signal failure. We reaped from it no harvests, and were put back by it at least six years in our national progress; while England enjoyed the carrying-trade of the world, which we had abandoned, and drew her supplies from Russia and India while our crops perished in our own ware-houses.

The vast export of cotton goods from Great Britain to India has now liberated at least halfa million bales of cotton for the supply of England in addition to what India previously furnished ; and as the export of goods to India and China continues to increase, the surplus of cotton must rise with it. But India is able to treble her production. It is true that the staple of her cotton suffers from the dry summers, that her land is but half tilled by ploughs consisting of a simple beam of wood with two prongs and a single handle, that she has been destitute of roads and facilities for transportation, that her lands are held at oppressive rents, that American planters there have failed to make good cotton, and that the annual yield of her soil is as small as that of the exhausted fields of South Carolina. But still she produces at least four million bales of cotton, and great changes are now in progress : railways are pervading the country; canals are being dug for irrigating, and irrigation -quadruples the crop, while it improves the staple ; and the diversion of a few districts from the ordinary crops, with improved tillage, will increase the production to an indefinite extent.

The latest intelligence from India apprises us that in one large cotton district the American planters have at length succeeded, and American cotton is now growing there on one hundred and fortysix thousand acres.


In American Cotton. In Native, Kupas. Total.

1851 31,688 acres 223,314 acres 255,002

1860 140,326 “ 230,677 “ 377,003

In Africa, also, the export of cotton is on the increase; and Egypt is erecting new works to retain and direct the overflow of the Nile, which will augment her exports.

There is a belt around the earth’s surface of at least sixty degrees in width, adapted in great part to the culture of cotton. Great Britain now commands capital, while China and India overflow with labor. Let Great Britain divert a few millions of this capital and but half a million of coolies to any fertile area of five thousand square miles within this belt, and she can in a few years double her supply of cotton, and command the residue of her importation at reasonable prices.

Among these spots none is more, promising than Central America, where the cotton-plant is perennial, and a single acre, as we are assured by Mr. Squier, yields semiannually a bale of superior cotton. But let us hope that the South may abandon her dream of a Southern Empire, and the chimera which now haunts her, that the Northerner is hostile to the Southerner, when in reality he has no such feeling, but merely recoils from institutions which he believes to be at variance with moral and material progress.

Hemp, or Cannabis saliva, from which we possibly derive the modern term canvas, was known to the ancients and used by them for rope and cordage and occasionally for cloth. It was found early in Thrace, in Caria, and upon the Rhone. Herodotus says that garments were made of it by the Thracians “so much like linen that none but an experienced person could tell whether they were made of hemp or of flax.”

Moschion, who flourished two centuries before the Christian era, states that the celebrated ship Syracusia built by Hiero II. was piovided with rope made from the hemp of the Rhone. Although the plant is indigenous in Northern India, where it is cultivated for its narcotic qualities, it is adapted to a southern climate ; and we may safely infer that it was not a native of either Italy, Greece, or Asia Minor, but was doubtless introduced into Caria by the active trade between the Euxine and Miletus. Cloth of hemp is still worn by boatmen upon the Danube ; but although its fibre is nearly as delicate as that of flax and cotton, it is used principally for cordage, for which purpose it is imported from the interior of Russia into England and the United States. In 1858 the entire importation into Great Britain was forty-four thousand tons. A large amount is now raised in Missouri and Kentucky, whose soil is admirably adapted to the hemp-plant. Hemp grows freely in Bologna, Romagna, and Naples, and the Italians have a saying, that “ it may be grown everywhere, but cannot be produced fit for use in heaven or on earth without manure.” The Italian hemp is aided by irrigation.

The plant is annual, and attains a height of three to ten feet, according to the soil and climate. Its stalk is hollow, filled with a soft pith, and surrounded by a cellular texture coated with a delicate membrane which runs parallel to the stalk and is covered by a thin cuticle. In Russia the seed is sown in June and gathered in September.

The Manila hemp (Musa textilis) does not appear to have been known to the ancients, and is now found in the Philippine Islands, the Indian Archipelago, and Japan, regions unexplored by the ancients. It is also found at the base of the Himalaya Mountains. It is a large herbaceous plant, which requires a warm climate, and is cut after a growth of eighteen months. The outer layers or fibres of the plant are called the bandola, which is used in the fabrication of cordage; the inner layers have a more delicate fibre called the lupin, which is woven into fine fabrics; while the intermediate layers, termed tupoz, are made into cloth of different degrees of fineness.

The filaments, after they are gathered, are separated by a knife, and rendered soft and pliable by beating them with a mallet; their ends are then gummed together, after which they are wound into balls, and the finer qualities are woven without going through the process of spinning. With the produce of this plant the natives pay their tribute, purchase the necessaries of life, and provide themselves with clothing.

The imports of this article into Great Britain in 1859 were very considerable, while the United States also imported a very large amount. It is used for cordage by the ships of both countries. In one respect it differs from wool, cotton, and hemp, the fibres of all of which are found by the microscope to consist of tubes, while the filaments of the Musa textilis, although often fine, are in no case hollow, and consequently are less flexible and divisible than other fibres.

Within the last twenty years, a new export from India, in the shape of Jute and its fabrics, has grown up from insignificance into commercial importance, and is now among the chief exports of the country. This article demands our particular attention, as it requires but four months for its production, furnishes a very large supply of textile material, is raised at one-fifth the expense of cotton, and has been sold in India as low as one cent per pound.

Jute is generally grown as an after-crop in India upon high ground, and flourishes best in a hot and rainy season. The seed is sown broadcast in April or May, when there is sufficient rain to moisten the ground. When the plant is a foot and a half high it is weeded. It rises on good soil to the height of twelve feet, and flowers between August and September. The stems are usually threefourths of an inch in diameter. The leaves have long foot-stalks, the flowers are small and yellow, and the capsules short and globose, containing five cells for the seed. The fruit ripens in September and October. The average yield in fibre to the acre is from four hundred to seven hundred pounds. When the crop is ripe, the stems are cut close to the root, made up into bundles, and deposited for a week in some neighboring pond or stream.

The process of separating the fibre from the stern is thus described by Mr. Healy in the “ Journal of Agriculture for India ” : —

“The native operator, standing up to his middle in water, takes as many of the sticks in his hands as he can grasp, and removing a small portion of the bark from the end next the roots, and grasping them together, he with a little management strips off the whole from end to end, without breaking either stem or fibre. He then, swinging the bark around his head, dashes it repeatedly against the surface of the water, drawing it towards him to wash off the impurities.”

The filaments are then hung up to dry in the sun, often in lengths of twelve feet, and when dried the jute is ready for the market.

The color at first is a pure white, but gradually changes to yellow. The fibre, which is fine and delicate, is tubular, like that of flax and cotton, and is easily wrought; but its tenacity is not equal to that of other textile materials, although it is substituted in many fabrics for wool, flax, and cotton. A large portion of the crop, which already exceeds two hundred thousand tons, is exported to England as it comes from the field, and is there used in the manufacture: both of wool and cotton to cheapen the fabric. The vigilant eye will often detect it in woollen manufactures, in shawls, and even in sail-cloths ; but when spun with cotton or wool, it is very difficult to discover its presence.

A few years since, there was a great reduction in the price of plaid shawls from England, which took the dealers by surprise, as the cost was previously supposed to have reached the lowest point; but a close examination of the threads elicited the fact that the manufacturer had adroitly twisted in with his wool a liberal allowance of jute, costing but two or three cents a pound when wool cost thirty, and thus reduced the price of the fabric.

By the use of shoddy in the manufacture of woollens, and of jute in both cotton and woollen fabrics, the English artisan saves many millions of pounds both of wool and cotton. In those districts of India where British skill and commercial enterprise have checked the manufacture of muslin and calicoes, the Hindoos of all classes find in the culture and manufacture of jute employment for all, “ from the palanquin-bearer and husbandman down to the Hindoo widow, saved by the interposition of England from the funeral pile, but condemned by custom for the residue of her days literally to sackcloth and ashes.” The fine and long-stapled jute is reserved for the export trade, for which it bears a comparatively high price ; the residue is spun and woven by these classes as a domestic manufacture; it is made into gunny-cloth, which is circulated through the globe, forms the bagging for our corn, wheat, and cotton on their voyage to distant ports, and finally makes its last appearance as paper.

The long stems of the jute are highly esteemed in India; they resemble willow wands, are useful for basket-work and fencing, for trellis-work and the support of vines, and to make a charcoal which is valued for the manufacture of gunpowder.

The export of jute from India to England for 1859 was sixty thousand tons. The export of gunny-cloth from India to the United States in the same year amounted to several millions of pieces.

Why should not this valuable plant be introduced into America? It requires the same season and soil as our Indian corn, and would doubtless flourish in the rich alluvial lands of the West, and furnish a very cheap and useful domestic manufacture for our Western farmers.

The term Linen is doubtless derived from Linurn, the classic and botanic name of flax. In Holy Writ, Moses called down the hail upon the growing flax of Lower Egypt, and Isaiah speaks of those " that work in fine flax.” According to Herodotus, the ancient Egyptians wore linen. Plutarch informs us that the priests of Isis wore linen on account of its purity, and mentions a tradition that flax was used for clothing “ because the color of its blossom resembles the ethereal blue which surrounds the world”; and he adds, that the priests of Isis were buried in their sacred vestments. An eminent cotton-spinner, who subjected four hundred specimens of mummy-cloth to the microscope, has ascertained that they were all linen ; and even now, when aspiring cotton has contested its superiority, and claimed to be more healthful and more beneficial to the human frame, the choicest drapery of our tables and couches, and many of our most costly and elegant articles of dress, are fabricated from flax.

Flax is sown in the spring and harvested in the summer, and requires but three months for its growth. While cotton grows in hot climates only, flax grows both under the tropics and in temperate climates, and as far north as Russia, Ireland, and Canada; and while at the South it runs mostly to seed, the best varieties are produced in Normandy, Belgium, and Poland.

In another particular flax has the advantage over cotton. While the latter, under the ordinary course of cultivation in South Carolina, yields but one bale to four acres, and in virgin soil rarely more than one bale to two acres, flax yields in good soil from five to eight hundred pounds of fibre to the acre, which may be converted into flax-cotton by modern machinery ; and as the product has but three per cent, waste, while cotton loses eleven per cent, in its manufacture, the flax-cotton which is produced from a single acre is the equivalent of one to two bales of cotton.

With these important advantages, namely, its adaptation to a northern climate where the white man can labor, and a capacity for yielding so large an amount of fibre, flax holds a high place in the list of textile materials.

Flax can be raised with very moderate expense up to the time of harvest. If the soil is free from weeds, it requires little more preparation, care, or expense for its culture than wheat or barley. But from this point onward a large expenditure of labor is requisite, which greatly enhances the cost, carrying it up as high as ten to twenty cents per pound, according to the degree of fineness; for the filaments must be separated from the stem by immersion in water, must be kept in parallel lines, and prepared for the spindle by skilful and long-continued labor.

To insure the host quality, it must be pulled and bound in bundles before it is entirely ripe, thus impairing the value of the seed, while the edible and nutritious portion of the stalk is lost or injured in the water.

For many years it was spun on the little wheel, but of late years improved machinery has been applied at Belfast, Leeds, Dundee, and other cities of Great Britain; yet nearly a third of the value is lost in the broken filaments, which are reduced to tow in its preparation for the spindle. With a fibre at least as fine and delicate as that of cotton, its full value to the world will not be demonstrated until it is effectually cottonized.

In its present state, however, it has come into very extensive use. More than eighty thousand tons were, in 1859, imported into Great Britain, and many acres are there devoted to its culture. The consumption in that country is estimated to exceed one hundred and sixty thousand tons, a quantity equivalent to eight hundred thousand bales of cotton. In addition to this, ten millions of bushels of flax-seed are annually crushed in Great Britain, a large portion of which is drawn from India.

The culture of flax was introduced into this country early in the last century by the Scotch, who crossed over to Ireland under Elizabeth and Cromwell, and soon after the siege of Derry transferred their arts and their industry to this country. Several colonies of these were planted in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and a large colony was established at Natfield, New Hampshire, upon a tract twelve miles square, one of the best sections of the State, situate in the area between Manchester, Lowell, Lawrence, and Exeter. Here every farmer cultivated his field of barley and flax, here every woman had her little wheel, and the article formed the currency of the place;—notes were given payable in spinning-wheels. Girls were seen beetling the linen on the grass; and when the harvest was over, the men mounted their horses, and with well-filled saddle-bags threaded the by-roads of the forest to find a market in Boston, Lynn, Salem, or Newburyport. Fortunes were thus accumulated, and a flourishing academy and two Presbyterian societies are now sustained by funds thus acquired by the Pinkerton family. But as the wages of girls gradually rose from two shillings to two dollars per week with the invention of the cotton-gin, the power-loom, and the spinning-jenny, the culture of flax was gradually abandoned, the seat of manufactures removed from the hills to the waterfalls, and the flaxfields converted into market-gardens or milk-farms. The town of Derry, once the great seat of New-England manufactures, is now principally distinguished for the Stark, Rogers, and Reed it gave to the French War and the Revolution, for the Bells, Dinsmores, Wilsons, and Pattersons it has given to the halls of legislation, and the McKeens, McGregors, Morisons, and Nesmiths it has furnished to commerce or the Church.

At the present rates of labor, the culture of flax cannot be revived in this region until the mode of curing and dressing it is cheapened ; and there is reason to hope that this revolution is at hand.

At the present moment flax is raised both in India and Ohio for the seed alone. An acre of ripened flax yields from ten to twenty bushels of seed, and each bushel affords nearly or quite two gallons of linseed-oil. The well-ripened seed is most prolific in oil.

It has been supposed by some that flax exhausts the soil. It is undoubtedly true that it does best under a rotation of crops, and that the ingredients it withdraws from the soil should be restored to preserve its fertility. But the reduction of the plant to ashes shows that its chemical components can be restored at a cost of three dollars per acre, while the properties withdrawn by the seed can be easily supplied by returning in other fertilizers the equivalent for half a ton of flax-seed. If the oil-cake be consumed upon the farm, little more than the above and its product in manure will be required.

The ashes of the flax-plant have been analyzed. Dr. Royle, of England, a distinguished writer upon fibrous plants, assures us that the following compound will supply to one acre all that the plant requires, and leave the land as fertile as before the flax was gathered : —

lbs.s. d.

Muriate of Potash . . 30 cost 2 6

Common Salt . . 28 “ 0 3

Burned Plaster of Paris . 34 “ 0 6

Bone-Dust . . . 54 “ 3 3

Epsom Salts . . . 56 “ 4 0

10 6

It has been ascertained by the microscope that wool, cotton, hemp, jute, and flax are composed of minute fibres, each of which forms a hollow tube, and there is a close resemblance between the tubes of each,— the tube of the cotton, however, collapsing as it ripens. These tubes in the jute and flax are closely cemented together, and the term Fibrilia has been applied to fibres of the plant when reduced to a short staple like cotton. The process for effecting this result is very accurately described in a work just published, entitled “ Fibrilia.” The patentees of this invention claim that their process, in the space of twenty-four hours, converts the flax and tow, as they come from the threshing-mill, into an article which may be spun and woven by the same machinery as cotton. The article produced and lately exhibited at public meetings resembles cotton in its appearance and qualities, with the advantage that it wastes less in the manufacture, has more lustre, and receives a superior color. The patentees and their friends further claim that this cotton can be raised in all temperate latitudes, at the rate of four to eight hundred pounds per acre, and profess within the past year to have manufactured twelve thousand pounds.

These statements have been confidently made at public meetings in the State House of Massachusetts, and it is understood that a mill containing one hundred looms, half of which are now in operation, has been erected at Roxbury, under the direction of gentlemen who are familiar with the manufacture. Should the same results be obtained on a large scale which have attended the manufacture of the first few bales, the first step in a great revolution will be effected.

By the process of Mr. S. M. Allen of Boston, the great outlay of labor which has usually attended the culture and preparation of flax is avoided. When the plant has attained its full height of twenty to thirty inches, and its seed is ripened, it is harvested like grass with a mowing-machine, dried like hay or oats in the field, and then carried to the threshingmilk After the seed is separated, the stalk is transferred to a patent brake, moved by two or four horses, and costing from three to four hundred dollars. This machine is composed of several sets of fluted iron rollers, between which the stalk passes from one set to another, the rollers gradually diminishing in size, but increasing in rapidity of motion, by means of which the woody texture of the plant is effectually broken and separated. The filaments are then carried through a coarse card or picker. The slaves are thus separated, and two tons of stalks reduced to half a ton of linten, which may be either taken at once to the retort or baled for shipment. When the flax is thus reduced by the farmer to linten, the article is reputed to be worth to the manufacturer four cents a pound, or at least twenty dollars for the product of an acre yielding a single ton of flax-straw.

According to this statement the farmer would realize from his crop at least as follows: —

Estimated value of seed, 14 bushels, at $1.25 . . . . . $17.50

Estimated value of 500 lbs. of linten, at 4 cts. . . . . . 20.00

Estimated value of 3/4 of a ton of shives from unrotted stems, valuable for cattle, at $8.00 per ton . . 6.00

Produce of an acre $43.50

And this produce would be realized with little more labor than a crop of oats or wheat, returning less than twenty-five dollars to the acre. Unless the soil should be foul, no weeding would be required, while the breaking would cost little more than a second threshing, and a second crop of turnips can be taken from the same soil.

From the patent brake and the picker the linten is carried to a retort, which may hold from five hundred to three thousand pounds of fibre, — the capacity of one hundred cubic feet being required for each thousand pounds; and the retort, which may be made from boiler-plates, costs from three hundred to fifteen hundred dollars. Here the linten is put into a hot bath of air forced through heated water, and thus charged with moisture, which softens the filaments and diminishes the cohesion of the fibres. After this air-bath, pure water of the temperature of one hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty degrees is admitted into the retort, and the linten is immersed in it for five or six hours.

After this steeping process is completed, the water is let off from below, and pure water admitted from above under pressure, until the color begins to change; the fibre is then steeped for three or four hours in a weak solution of soda-ash; the alkali is washed out by the admission of pure water alternating with steam, and, if necessary to complete the bleaching, a "weak solution of chlorine is applied. All this may be effected without removing the linten from the retort. The product is then dried as in ordinary drying-rooms.

When dried, it is carried again through a set of cards, and a piece of machinery termed a railway-head, with positive draught, which can be set so as to give any length of staple, and to present the flax-cotton thus produced in any form required for spinning, either separately or mixed with cotton or wool, and thus adapted to the machinery used in the manufacture of either of these articles. The cost of this process, from the brake to the final production of the cotton, is set by the patentee, after leaving him a fair profit, at three cents per pound of cotton ; and if we add this to the cost of the linten, and allow for freight and storage, the entire cost of the fibrilia is hut eight cents per pound, or two-thirds of the present price of middling cotton.

The idea of modifying the filaments of flax and hemp so as to convert them into cotton is by no means a new one. As long ago as 1747 it was proposed to convert flax into cotton by boiling it in a solution of caustic potash, and subsequently washing it with soap; and in 1775 Lady Moira, aided by T. B. Bailey, actually converted some refuse flax into cotton by boiling it in alkali. The result was, that the fibres seemed to be set at liberty from each other; after which it was carded on cotton cards, spun, and woven as cotton.

The Chevalier Claussen, as recently as 1850, claimed to have discovered the process, and actually took out a patent; but his invention, which consisted in boiling the cut and crushed steins of the flax in a solution of caustic soda, turned out a failure, —the cutting, crushing, and boiling processes proving alike defective.

New discoveries are the result of repeated trials ; perseverance usually prevails ; and if States are lo secede at pleasure and withhold their cotton, and no other good uses can be found for flax or hemp, why should not their fibres secede also, — be set at liberty and resolve themselves into a cotton state ?

We might pass from the fibrous plants, and the metamorphosis of flax into cotton, fo the Pinna, whose fibres grow in the sea on the coast of Italy, and anchor the huge shell-fish to the rock or the sand. These fibres are brought up by divers, and woven into beautiful fabrics. We might repeat the tale of the crab which lives with this shell-fish, and apprises his blind housekeeper of the approach of danger,—a tale confirmed by ancient and modern naturalists,—for there are strange doings in the sea as well as upon the land. We might also dilate upon China grass, which is manufactured in the East into delicate fabrics. But our limits compel us to defer these topics.