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prism is equal in area to each rectangular side of the prism, so as to present equal resistance, according to the hypothesis, then the triangular faces will be nearer to the centre in the proportion of three to four, so that the attractions will not be equal as the hypothesis would require.

A third hypothesis of M. Prechtl is, that the degree of compressibility may be such that each particle will be surrounded by six others, giving it the form of a cube, which, it must be admitted, is a very possible supposition.

All further application of the same hypothesis is precluded by M. PRECHTL, by denying that one particle can be surrounded by more than six others; although in fact it is most evident, that any sphere when not compressed will be surrounded by twice that number, and consequently by a slight degree of compression will be converted into a dodecahedron, according to the most probable hypothesis of simple compression.

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VI. On a Substance from the Elm Tree, called Ulmin. By James

Smithson, Esq. F. R. S.

Read December 10, 1812.

1. The substance now denominated Ulmin was first made known by the celebrated Mr. KLAPROTH, to whom nearly every department of chemistry is under numerous and great obligations.*

Ulmin has been ranked by Dr. Thomson, in his System of Chemistry, as a distinct vegetable principle, on the ground of its possessing qualities totally peculiar and extraordinary. It is said, that though in its original state easily soluble in water and wholly insoluble in alcohol and ether, it changes, when nitric, or oxymuriatic acid is poured into its solution, into a resinous substance no longer soluble in water, but soluble in alcohol, and this singular alteration is attributed to the union to it of a small portion of oxygen which it has acquired from these acids.* Being possessed of some of this substance which had been sent to me some years ago from Palermo, by the same person from whom Mr. KLAPROTH had received it, I became induced, by the foregoing account, to pay attention to it, and have observed facts which appear to warrant a different etiology of its phenomena, and opinion of its nature, from what has been given of them. The ulmin made use of in the following experiments, had

• Dr. Thomson's Syst. of Chem. Vol. IV. p. 696. Fourth edition.


been freed from the fragments of bark by solution in water and filtration, and recovered in a dry state by the evaporation of the solution on a water bath.

2. In lumps, ulmin appears black, but in thin pieces it is seen to be transparent, and of a deep red colour.

In a dilute state, solution of ulmin is yellow; in a concentrated one, dark red, and not unlike blood.

When solution of ulmin dries, either spontaneously or by being heated, the ulmin divides into long narrow strips disposed in rays to the centre, which curl up and detach them

, selves from the vessel, and the fluid part seems to draw together, and becomes remarkably protuberant. Solution of ulmin slowly and feebly restores the colour of turnsol paper reddened by an acid.

3. Dilute nitric acid being poured into a solution of ulmin, a copious precipitate immediately formed. The mixture was thrown on a filter. The matter which has been considered as a resin remained on the paper, and a clear yellow liquor came

a through. This yellow solution, on evaporation, produced a number of prismatic crystals looking like nitrate of potash. They were tinged yellow by some of the resin. This mixture, heated in a gold dish, deflagrated with violence, and a large quantity of fixed alkali remained.

Dilute muriatic acid caused an exactly similar precipitation in solution of ulmin to nitric acid, and the precipitate was the same resin-like substance. The filtered liquor afforded a quantity of saline matter, which, after being freed by ignition from a portion of dissolved resin, shot into pure white cubes of muriate of potash, as appeared by decomposing them by nitric acid. MDCCCXIII.


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