I have noticed that you have endeavored to direct the attention of our cultivators to the raising of madder and of indigo. Madder, to afford a beautiful and permanent tint, must be raised in a soil containing a large portion of calcareous earth, the more the better. The Dutch madder does not afford so beautiful a color, nor is it as permanent as that raised at Avignon, in France. The soil on which the latter grows contains fifty-six per cent, of fine limestone, the former not more than ten per cent. Madder raised in the non-calcareous soil of Alsace, gives a color ol no permanency or beauty; but when raised in soil containing more than ninety per cent, of lime earth, the roots give faster and more beautiful dyes than that ot Avignon. The natural soils of Kentucky and Illinois would produce madder of very superior quality. About the year 1817, when in Kentucky, I used some madder raised in their gardens, and it proved to beol excellent quality. It requires three years to bring madder to perfection, and I am afraid this will prevent our cultivators from growing it, as few of them would be willing to wait that time for returns. They might, however, plant beds every year, and after the first three years have annual crops. Madder is raised in narrow beds, about four feet wide, for the convenience of keeping it free of weeds—an operation necessary to the perfection of the roots. In Kentucky they let the shoots grow to about one foot high, when they lay them down and cover them with soil, and these form new roots. This may be repeated two or three times in their summer season. Those laid down the first year make good roots for consumption when dug at the end of the third season. They leave a good space between each bed to afford soil for covering the shoots. At the final digging, roots of the size of a goose quill are laid by for grinding, and the smaller ones are transplanted. To prepare madder for market, it is necessary to stove-dry the roots and grind them and these operations require considerable outlay, and experienced operators. In grinding, the outside cuticle is first taken off, and this forms what is known in the market as " mull-madder," which is only used in dyeing blacks bottle-greens, and dark browns. The nexl layer taken off is known as " gamene," and is used for a great variety of common colors The third is known as " ombre," and the fourth as crop or "grappe." Either ol the last may be used for red dyes ; but the crop gives the most beautiful color. Madder roots are imported from Smyrna tc England, called Palestine madder, which are ground in London. There are two colors extracted from madder, when boiled, a red and a dingy yellow : but when the red alone is required the liquoi must be kept below a boiling heat. Indio.—Indigo is an annual crop ; it is cul when at maturity, placed in a steeper, ther covered with soft water, and stones placed or the plant to keep it under the water. It remains steeping until the liquor becomes of a greenish yellow, with a copper colored scurr round the outside. The liquor is then drawr into a receiver, and the workmen beat it witr. long poles to oxydize the green faecula, whicr. will then precipitate as blue indigo. About the latter end of the year 1799, oi the beginning of 1800,1 owned a large dyeing establishment in the west of England, consuming about four hundred pounds of indigc per week. At the date above mentioned 1 went to London to lay in a stock for the blue vats; among the lots offered were two chests made in South Carolina, on the Peedee river by the late General Wade Hampton. On examining them I found it of a deep rich coppei color, clean and smooth in the fracture, and a! it was offered at one shilling per pound cheaper than Bengal of similar quality, I boughi them with several of the latter ; and as I ex pected, the quantity ot coloring matter extrac ted from the South Carolina, was greater b] at least ten per cent, than from the Bengal. I emigrated to this country in the yea 1808, and the following year I wrote to Gen Wade Hampton to know if he continued ti make indigo and to inform him of the supe riority of the two chests I had used. In his answer he informed me that he had given up the making of indigo, because cotton planting paid better, and that indigo making so injured the health of his slaves that some of them never recovered their previous strength. The injury he complained of is produced during the beating process ; for so rapid is the absorption of oxygen gas from the atmosphere, during the operation, that those who stand over it must be breathing an air with its vital principle so diminished as to render it unfit to sustain animal life. This difficulty might be easily obviated by letting the liquor from the steep run into a receiver, shorter and narrower than the lower one, with a cullender bottom made oi zinc, and through it dripping into the lower one called the beater. It would require three or four feet between the two. I believe, by this process, the green faecula would be more completely oxydized, and a better quality of indigo produced than by beating. Those who prefer the old process could restore the strength of their slaves by the following simple operation :—let them procure a twelve gallon graded gasometer, and convey into it for every three gallons of atmospheric air one gallon of oxygen gas; by breathing this increased vital fluid a few times, the whole of the carbon that had increased in the blood fiom breathing a noi.-vital gas, would pass off, and strength be restored. Wii. Partridge. Binghamton, ?. ?., 1853. [We hope our agriculturists and planters will give the above communication a faithful consideration. The Bengal indigo monopolizes our market, as the first quality.— [Ed.
This article was originally published with the title "Madder and Indigo" in Scientific American 8, 50, 395 (August 1853)