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About The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current | View This Issue
THE SUNDAY GREGORIAN, PORTLAND, OCTOBER 27, 1907.
k.4 a ' it
Side Lights on the Wizard Who
Has Bent Nature to His
Purpose of Improving Fruitsr
Flowers and Vegetables
' ..;.; ".Jlfc.
BY ALBERT EDWARD ULL.MAX.
LUTHER Burbanlc la the mfcn who
made more than 70 varieties of ap
ples grow on one tree. If he had
lived In the beginning of things earthly,
the serpent would have had a strenuous
time making a selection.
In the crossing of species and the ob
taining, of new products by that action,
this simple man of the soil has become
the horticultural wonder of the world.
Shakespeare wrote that it was wasteful
and ridiculous excess to "paint the lilly,"
but Burbank has done It with' great re
sults. Of his methods only the scientist can
write, and even then the average reader
would be unable to understand. It Is suf
ficient to say that the horticulturist states
that he 'can create In any fruit any kind
of color, size or seed, flavor, texture or
solidity desired, and the same with
flowers. They may rebel for a time, but
all ultimately yield to his persistent and
practical knowledge and endeavor.
While It would be out of place, per
haps, in the case of other noted men of
science, to go Into their inner lives in a
short description of their work for knowl
edge and mankind, it seems quite appro
priate to tell that Luther Burbank is &
bachelor. The naturalist was born In
Lancaster, Mass., on May T, 1849, and In
his boyhood was as much a clod-hopping
farm apprentice as any freckled Yankee
youth of today who milks the cows and
does the other chores.
But young Burbank the adjective fits
him yet has his eyes open to the mar
vels of nature's work all around him, and
(he early . decided that human genius and
. study can greatly aid nature in the work
lot selection and betterment of species
and forms. As the rugged and rocky
1 soil and rough climate of Massachusetts
(did not promise best for experiments,
he had even then been making, he betook
htm to the genial land and clime of Santa
i Rosa, Cal., and there he has worked out
his theories to the benefit and the won
der of the world.
His First Success.
His early life there was one of priva
tion. His poverty compelled him to take
any work that came to hand In the shape
of odd Jobs here and there. He passed
through & very severe Illness, spent
weeks In search of work and finally was
able to start a little nursery on his own
account. He was at home now and had
a start. Neighbors thought him an hon
est, hard-working young fellow, who
might squeeze through with a bare liv
ing. Then, suddenly, he did something.
An, order came for 20,000 young prune
trees. It had to be filled In nine months
end he had not a prune tree on his place.
How was he going to do it? He employed
a lot of men and boys to plant almonds
for him. They grew rapidly. When they
were ready, he had 20,000 prune-buds
ready for them, and In a short time the
prunes were budded into the growing
almonds, and before the time was up the
trees were delivered.
His nursery business grew. While
other man worked to Improve the
ground by cultivation, fertilization, Ir
rigation, weeding, hoeing and so on,
h worked to Improve the seed. Every
little while he would send out a cata
logue, telling seedsmen and others
that he had invented or created a new
fruit or flower. One of bta first suc
cesses was the sweet and mealy Bur
bank potato,, which has given cheaper
and better potatoes to the world. Thus
his fame began to grow and he dis
posed of his business that he might
devote his life to the experiment he
hid been contemplating for years.
Taking Vp Scientific Work.
It was then that scientific horticul
turists began to realize the vastness
.nil Importance of his work. Men of
science the world over began to write
about the marvelous achievements of
sec irrcscrf TJ-wrsz .
ryvcAi- or the nujA
THZZ HOtIC AT3AAT KOSA
COTTAOZ COVERED TAtr
thls quiet man, of whom the next
door neighbor knew nothing. Merely
to catalogue his work since then would
fill hundreds of pages. One can but
hint at them, and today, on his prov
ing grounds, some seven miles from his
home, experiments by the hundreds of
thousands are going on aU the time,
some of them .not completed, though
they were begun 20 and even 30 years
He conducts other experiments on
the grounds surrounding the plain lit
tle frame cottage, smothered with
green foliage. In which he makes his
home. If you could visit this won
derland of things that grow, the first
thing that would probably attract your
attention would be the cactus patch,
where you would see a row of heavy
leaved desert plants, covered with
great prickly thorns, and another row
absolutely devoid of them. And then,
to eat the fruit of this cactus the
prickly pear wholly free from thorns,
would surprise you, indeed.
In the garden not far off you would
find a bed of wonderful crimson rhu
barb, with stalks two Inches thick,
and growing the year round. If you
were Interested in flowers you would
find gorgeous and splendid creations.
There are beds and beds of popples,
several thousand or more, and no two
alike, all under test. The amaryllis
also shows the great results of his
work. It has been developed from a
small flower to one 10 or 12 inches In
breadth, with many asonlshlng combi
nations of color. He had to change
the bulb, stem and leaf to do this.
- AYonderful Hybridizing.
His work with the daisy is interest
ing. From England, Japan, Australia,
and In fact from every land where
lives the daisy, he got 'seeds of the
best varieties by thousands and thou
sands. He planted these and then
killed them, and out of their death
came a new daley, fairer and more
beautiful, more hardy, and that would
flower In every climate perennially. It
was the Shasta daisy clear white, of
great size, and center of pure yellow.
In vegetables you will see equally
wonderful results. Besides the Bur
bank potato, you will find that among
many things the tomato and sugar
beet have been changed wonderfully
and made better. In fruits, he has
made a giant plum of delicious flavor,
the largest known; a prune like sugar,
larger, earlier and more productive
than any before. He joined the plum
and apricot, and created the plumcot.
The same process brought forth a
quince with the flavor of a pine apple,
and he is working along the same lines
to give us a blackberry two or three
Inches in size, almost seedless, with
thomiess bushes and. with a rich anil
In his methods of working, this man
Burbank is quick and decided. He is con
stantly among his things that grow with
his assistants. His keen eyes, trained to
scientific accuracy, see at a glance all
the faults and good qualities of a tree or
plant, and he instantly decides to kill or
As a Man. "
If K were your privilege to be with him
a day you would find him an early riser,
like the farm boy of years ago. The fur
nishings of his home are simple, nothing
gaudy, nothing costly, nothing orna
mental, only useful. His breakfast Is a
little fruit and coffee. His lunch hardly
more; his dinner a light one. He Is not
strenuous and takes little exercise oth.tr
than the quiet outdoor strolls while en
gaged In his work. As his guest, you
would find more wonders than you had
ever witnessed before, and you would
taste "fruits that few mortal men have
Vernon L. Kellogg, professor of ento
mology in Stanford University, wrote of
him lately that he does not appear to
have any fundamental laws to reveal.
i- ' r '& - ,
UZVDSSZ WOOD jiZ CSSSj0TJPW&? AtEfiS VogC
but that he Is quick to see and seizes
opportunity at once. He instances what
Mr. Burbank did with tils prize plum
seedling. Instead of waiting for six
years for it to grow and bloom and bear
fruit, he grafted It on to a sturdy plum
tree and the very next year he had the
delight of seeing Its offspring.
Luther Burbank ,1s a simple-hearted,
good man. He Is shy and reserved in all
matters but his work; there he Is definite
and clear and decisive. He has the spirit
of a boy and looks much younger than a
man of 59. And, curiously, though he is
a bachelor, as has been said, one of the
most Interesting of the books that bav
come from his pen is "The 'I'raining of
the Human Plant."
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY
Suggestions Concerning Its XJncomf ortableness to Certain People Under Certain Circumstance.
(BY GEORGE A. THACHER.)
R. J. A. KING, of Seattle, Jn a let
ter printed not long ago in The
Oregonlan, intimates that I manu
factured opinions for prominent scien
tific men and then proceeded to quote
them to sustain my own spiritistic
belief. He concludes by saying that I
evidently bellve that truth is to ba at
tained b counting heads, but that I
should select my heads with more care.
That Is harsh criticism, but It is per
fectly justified If I have done as he says.
If counting heads secures the truth there
are many cherished beliefs of the Anglo
Saxon race that must go to the wall, the
Christian religion among them. Prob
ably Mr. King did not mean that, but
used the statement as a convenient way
of castigating me for misquoting Profes
sor N. 8. Shaler (as he thinks I did).
That shows that ha considers Proesser
Shaler'a opinion not only of Interest, but
as carrying weight In estimating the
value of psychical research. Mr. King
clinches that idea by quoting Professor
Bhaler on spiritualism In his book,, ;The
That Is my point of view precisely. If
ay 20, scientific men of prominence agree
that the results of a careful investigation
point towards a eertaln conclusion, it
certainly Indicates that that line of inves
tigation deserves the careful considera
tion of all intelligent men. My letter in
The Oregonlan was Inspired by that idea.
Now as for my quotations. The quota
tion from Professor Shaler's writings is
to be found on page 321 of "The Individ
ual," and the other quotations may be
verified quite as easily by any reader of
the works of Sir Oliver Lodg, Mr. Sav
age and the others I mentioned. If I
were to adopt the tone of Mr. King I
might say that he quotes from his favor
ite author only what serves his purpose,
and consequently advertises alike his ig
norance and Intolerance over his own sig
nature in The Oregonlan. but that might
be considered as rubbing It In on the
raw. I will Bay that Mr. King was In
discreet merely, and call his attention to
the fact that he does not discriminate
between spiritualism and psychical research.-
Professor Shaler does discrimi
nate as becomes a scientific man, hence
the value of his opinions. There is one
thing especially noticeable in Mr. King's
attempt to demolish me with hs con
temptuous disapproval and that is his
dislike of the idta of immortality. In
that he is so: much like the majority of us
who consider It Impertinent or unpleasant
and most of all inconvenient to discuss
immortality as a fact that there Is no
wonder that society does not welcome or
assist psychical research. If It is Im
portant to society why do not the Legis
latures of Oregon and Washington ap
propriate as many thousands of dollars a
year for the purpose of investigating It as
they do to sustain state schools or even
to prevent forest fires? Why Is the sub
ject tabooed In ordinary social Inter
course? Of course the answer is simple.
Immortality In another world must be
preceded by death In this one, and the
thought of death does not h'p us to do
the most or enjoy the most in life. We
don't know Immortality to be a fact, and
as a general proposition we don't want
to know it.
Even the churches minister to the
popular desire by making It a matter of
faith, and in very many Instances de
clare any attempt to verify the dogma
as Satanic. That reduces it to a matter
of opinion which In times of bereavement
is refurbished and named "the blessed
hope of Immortality," and for the balance
of the years is laid away and deliberate
ly put out of mind. It Is said that F.
W. H. Myers once asked an aged church
member of most immaculate orthodoxy
what he expected to happen to him after
death. After some hesitation he reluc
tantly admitted that he expected to enter
eternal bliss, but he did wish Mr. Myers
would not bring up such a depressing
subject. Jhat is the trouble with Mr.
King. . He wanted to squelch a trouble
some citizen. If he had really wanted to
know he would have asked politely where
these hopeful and promising opinions of
scientific men could be found.
That suggests the attitude of the ma
jority. I am not sufficiently In Dr.
Hyslop's confidence to know how many
of Portland's 40 millionaires contributed
to the work which he described in his
lectures here, but I doubt If the amount
will appreciably reduce the Multnomah
County tax next year. Of all men the
rich and powerful and socially prominent
are those who desire least to know of
anything which might make It desirable
to change their plans of living. They are
too well satisfied as they are. "Where
Ignorance Is bliss," etc.
On the other hand, those who are not
prosperous and selfsatisfied, those who
are sick and distracted by trouble, and
those who want to know the truth at
all costs, sometimes really want to know
If men survive physical death. It Is hard
for them to fight the conventions of so
ciety, which are made by the powerful:
and life is a pressing business, not to
mention tlie faint hope which never dies
that they may become fortunate and
happy in this life. So after all it seems
that the only sincere .searchers for truth
about another life are those who for
some reason ignore criticism and reproof
and whose purpose is flxe,d. Such people
are called cranks, if it is not safe to
call them insane, or liable to become so.
However, they do in a way probably rep
resent the weak-kneed majority.
It arouses curious dreams of society
to - think of a time when survival of
physical death shall be accepted as a
fact as truly as that men grow old. The
race admits that dissipation doesn't pay
in the life of TO years; that self denial Is
necessary to provide a competence; that
the good opinion of men is necessary to
happiness and that consequently char
acter must not be distinctly bad unless
It can be successfully concealed; that men
are Intellectual (spiritual) beings and that
memory, as Lady Macbeth found, may
become an unendurable curse. Those
facts are recognized and are met or
dodged In various ways. Supposing It to
be known that Intelligence and memory
survive Indefinitely and that pretence
and hypocrisy must be known as well
as a man's face, what a painful re
adjustment would be In order.
There would not be the slightest- com
fort in damning Rockefeller; we should
be too busy In lamenting our on pet
failings. Of course it would be evident
that the man who wronged another really
only damaged his own chance for hap
piness; that the millionaire who absorbed
wealth as an object In life was simply
collecting sticks and stones that he did
not want, and was depriving others of
what they needed; that selfishness of
any kind in short, was simply moral
Bulclde; that ignorance was lack of
ability to live: that power was a curse
unutterable unless used In service; that
genuine democracy, and not its counter
felt, was the only real fact In human
relations that would stand.
After all. Is It any wonder that we
don't want to know about immortality?
First, there Is or might be the necessity
of looking at existence from a new point
of view, which we naturally wish to avoid
as a horrid discomfort: next there would
be the necessity of changing our plans
as we claim to be intelligent beings. Of
course perfection could not be attained,
but there would be the everlasting spur
of necessity to keep trying; and last of
all, or rather first, would be the need of
keeping the zest of life and fighting
physical death with even more determina
tion than at present. Do we really want
the gift of a scientifically certain Im
mortality, or do we prefer what the
ministers preach about at funerals "the
blessed hope of immortality"? Can we
really want to entertain a hope at certain
times which would make us most un
happy If It were proved to be true, and
which we desire at other times may not
be proven true? That's a safe proposi
tion from a psychological standpoint,
for all men have to do Is to refrain from
thinking the opposing thoughts at the
same time. A man may safely hope one
thing today and another a week from
today, even though that other oppose the
first. It Is a trifle Inconsistent, but so
we are all of us. So is 'Mr. King, who
has tried to demolish the force of a
letter I wrote by intimating that I
"faked" my quotations from the scien
tists, especially from the man whom he
describes as the great Professor Shaler.
After all. Omar puts the case succinctly.
Why, if the soul can fling- the dust aalde.
And naked on the air of hea-en ride.
Wer't not a shame, war't not a shame for
In this clay carcase crippled to abide?
Baseball Lingo 1907.
"Oh, father!" quoth a tender maid,
'"Pray what's this I read
About the baseball game they played'
Such language I ne'er beard!
"It says that Twlstem had great form,
'His speed was lightning-like';
'He was the goods, and very warm.
And 'had 'era on the hike'!
" 'A pitchers' battle'; fireworks start'
'Strong's weak one Nlbbsley nabbed'!
A rotten throw' 'buy him a cart!'
'Just air big Mugsey grabbed.'
" "Blibbs smashed to center for a sack;
Squibs cracked It on the nose';
'Squibs bohbled failed to get It back';
'Spltzbald turned on his hose' !
"'Another marker." "annexed two';
'Jones skied, but riled, alas'!
"Bean beat a bunt and Charley drew
A plainly (ramed-up pass'!
" 'Then Slugger slung the sphere for one.
'And Swatem sent blm on.'
While 'Killlt warped It toward the sun
It may come down by dawn'!
"'They all romped home; the fans west
" 'Oh what a pud"! they cried;
Then Crackem popped first down too
'Pink plunked to Plum and died' I
"Fright got - a bins!, stole to sec"
'Fish fozzled Pounder's drive;
But Smasher almost broke bis neck'
'More honey for our hive' !
''And so it goes some other stuff
'Left garden's brilliant catch';
" 'Farm him," "Look at that bush league
" '6ome uv them fowls may hatch.' "
" I told you he'd connect with it,'
Blim burned the sod to right'!
"'Just watch us squeeze"'; '"A dandy
hit' " ;
'"Aw! bring that Umps a light"'!
"Oh. daddy! daddy!" cried the girl.
"My hrain is troubled sore.
And swirling, twirling in a whirl
Who won. and what's the acore?"