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exclusively would appear to be due an improvement the value of which it would be difficult to exaggerateindeed without which a piano would not to-day seem to be a piano. This is the sustaining, often miscalled the “ loud, ” pedal, invented in 1772. John Broadwood was also the inventor of one form of soft pedal. But the next epoch-making invention the introduction of metal into the frame-work, like most improvements, was due not to one but to several men. Chief among those to whom it is credited are Joseph Smith, who foreshadowed the idea as early as 1799 ; James Shudi Broadwood who tried it experimentally in 1804 and permanently in 1818 ; Isaac Hawkins, an Englishman at one time resident in America; William Allen, a Scotchman, and three Americans. These latter were : Alpheus Babcock, whose invention comprised a complete metal frame made in one casting patented at Boston, 17th December 1825; Conrad Mayer of Philadelphia who in 1832 modified this iron framing abolishing the bars ; and Jonas Chickering of Boston, who in 1843 patented a frame combining a minimum of bulk with a maximum of strength.
The invention of "overstringing,” or carrying the bass strings obliquely across the treble strings, and thus getting a greater length, is difficult to trace to its author. It must not be forgotten that clavichords were sometimes overstrung, and this may have suggested the practice to pianoforte manufacturers. But in a Philadelphia patent dated 24th May 1831 Alpheus Babcock claims originality for “cross stringing pianofortes.” Unfortunately the original record was destroyed by fire in 1836. But if by this term he meant overstringing he conceived both the principles that characterise the modern American pianoforte. It was not till a year later that the idea was mooted by a European manufacturerTheobald Boehm, of flute fame. One of the most eminent historians of the pianoforte, Mr. A. J. Hipkins, regards American pianoforte manufacture as having reached its flood-mark in the instrument exhibited by Henry Engelhard Steinway at the New York Academy of Music on 8th February 1859.
The earliest known printed notice of a public performance on the piano is in the form of a play bill issued by Covent Garden theatre, London, dated 16th May 1767. This announces that “ Miss Brickler will sing a favourite song from Judith, accompanied by Mr. Dibdin on a new instrument called Piano Forte." The first use of it as a solo instrument appears to have been a performance by J. C. Bach at the Thatched House on 2nd June 1768. A few years later, in 1771, it was introduced at Drury Lane. Its triumph may be considered as completed in 1796 when it superseded the harpsichord in that very conservative institution, the British King's Band.
The full effect of a metal and over-strung framework was probably not dreamed of by a single one of those between whom the credit of these inventions is divi: ded, It is “iron entering into the soul ” of the piano which has transformed it from the tinkling instrument known to Mozart and Haydn into what has aptly been called the "chamber orchestra” of to-day. The increase in
“ " power can perhaps best be realized from a comparison of the tension on the strings of old and modern instru. ments. When iron was first introduced the tension was 10 tons ; a quarter of a century ago it was 16 tons; now, on a “concert grand ” it is 32 tons ! One of these larger instruments passes in the process of manufacture through some eighty pairs of hands; and contains
10,700 pieces of wood, metal, and felt. The increase in the number of pianos made is not less remarkable than their increase in power.
In a little under a century, 1797-1889, one firm alone, Messrs. Pleyel, Wolff and Co. made 100,000 pianos. And in a little over a century. 1780-1894, the premier British firm, Messrs. Broadwood and another British firm, Messrs. Collard and Collard, have each made nearly double the number 195,000! The keys of the former alone is placed end to end would extend 3,987 miles, or further than from London to Chicago ! The wire in them would go upwards of thirteen times round the world ; the sounding-boards
i used in them would cover an area of 3,130,722 square feet! And assuming each has been used one hour each week day for five years, and three pieces gone through in that time, then 175,968 pieces have been played on Broadwood pianos alone! Thus the life-story of the piano reaches back, through its ancestors, to pre-historic times and encircles the globe. And the two hundred years during which it has existed as we know it divides into three periods; fifty years during which it lay dormant; fifty years of rivalry with its predecessors, especially the harpsichord, and a hundred years during which its history has been a romance-not least because, after growing out of recognition it has retraced its steps towards the rising of the sun.
CLEMENT ANTROBUS HARRIS.
Art. V.-ARECA CATECAU. LINN.
“ Gua" and also Supari,” is an object of extensive culture in the portions of the Khulna tract of the Sundarbans which have been longest under cultivation. It
may be seen in all parts of the Bagherhat Subdivision and especially in the vicinity of Morrellgunge, where it flourishes in a remarkable degree, and also throughout the Backergunge tract of the Sundarbans where it thrives luxuriantly and in places fringes the banks of the large streams. It is scarce in the Sundarbans of the 24-Parganas district where it fails to grow owing, it is said, to the extreme saline nature of the soil.
In appearance the Areca palm is perhaps the most elegant of the whole species of palms and it has been observed that “a grove of Betel palms, with their slender, cylindrical stems peering fifty or sixty feet upward, waving their green plumes and fragrant flowers, presents a scene of sylvan beauty rarely to be excelled under our tropical sky.” The tree yields the betel nut of commerce.
The nut has a thin brown rind and in size is intermediate between walnut and hazel nut. It is hard and when young is, in conjunction with other things, prescribed in decoctions, in dysentery and bowel complaints. Betel nut is much relished by the Indians, being chewed with the leaf of the Piper betel. Its general substance is of a faint oily grey colour, thickly marked with curly streaks of brownish red. Green nuts are intoxicating.
The nut is believed to sweeten the breath, strengthen the stomach and preserve the teeth. When chewed with pân (the Piper betel) and lime, it gives the
saliva a red colour which it also imparts to the lips and gums. By some, betel nuts are considered to have tonic properties. Roasted and pulverized they make excellent charcoal powder for the teeth.
It is usual at entertainments and social gatherings of Indians to distribute among the guests betel nuts covered with silver or gold leaf, and it is considered a grave insult when an offering of this sort is refused. At marriages, shradh and anna-prasan
and other ceremonies, betel nuts, either 4, 8, 16 or 20 in number, covered with gold or silver leaf are sent out to guests along with the invitations. The number of betel nuts thus presented denotes the social standing of the guest.
The tree produces fruit from the age of five to its twenty-fifth year. It begins to blossom in April and May and the nuts are fit to be gathered in the months of August and September. They become fully ripe in the months of October and November. A tree will bear annually on an average from 50 to 60 nuts. The fruit ripens only once during the year. The
. nuts vary in size, though quality depends solely upon the amount of stringent matter they contain, a point which is ascertained by cutting them. If the white or medul. lary portion, which intersects the red or astringent part, be small with bluish tinge, and the astringent part be very red, the nut is considered of good quality ; but when the medullary portion is in a large quantity, the nut is considered more mature without much astringency and is not esteemed valuable.
Like most of the Palm tribe the trunk of the tree is used for ordinary building purposes and is most useful for house posts.
The spathe, called by the natives "Chumari” and sometimes also “ Dega," which stretches over the