Bookseller. Your verses, Mr. Botanist, consist of pure description, I hope there is sense in the notes.
Poet. I am only a flower-painter, or occasionally attempt a landskip; and leave the human figure with the subjects of history to abler artists.
B. It is well to know what subjects are within the limits of your pencil; many have failed of success from the want of this self-knowledge. But pray tell me, what is the essential difference between Poetry and Prose? is it solely the melody or measure of the language?
P. I think not solely; for some prose has its melody, and even measure. And good verses, well spoken in a language unknown to the hearer, are not easily to be distinguished from good prose. B. Is it the sublimity, beauty, or novelty of the sentiments?
P. Not so; for sublime sentiments are often better expressed in prose. Thus when Warwick in one of the plays of Shakespear, is left wounded on the field after the loss of the battle, and his friend says to him, "Oh, could you but fly!" what can be more sublime than his answer, "Why then, I would not fly." No measure of verse, I imagine, could add dignity to this sentiment. And it would be easy to select examples of the beautiful or new from prose writers, which I suppose no measure of verse could improve.
B. In what then consists the essential difference between Poetry and Prose?
P. Next to the measure of the language, the principal distinction appears to me to consist in this: that Poetry admits of but few words expressive of very abstracted ideas, whereas Prose abounds with them. And as our ideas derived from visible objects are more distinct than those derived from the objects of our other senses, the words expressive of these ideas belonging to vision make up the principal part of poetic language. That is, the Poet writes principally to the eye, the Prose-writer uses more abstracted terms. Mr. Pope has written a bad verse in the Windsor Forest:
"And Kennet swift for silver Eels renown'd."
The word renown'd does not present the idea of a visible object to the mind, and is thence prosaic. But change this line thus,
"And Kennet swift, where silver Graylings play." and it becomes poetry, because the scenery is then brought before the eye.
B. This may be done in prose.
P. And when it is done in a single word, it animates the prose; so it is more agreeable to read in Mr. Gibbon's History, "Germany was at this time over-shadowed with extensive forests;" than Germany was at this time full of extensive forests. But where this mode of expression occurs too frequently, the prose approaches to poetry: and in graver works, where we expect to be instructed rather than amused, it becomes tedious and impertinent. Some parts of Mr. Burke's eloquent orations become intricate and enervated by superfluity of poetic ornament; which quantity of ornament would have been agreeable in a poem, where much ornament is expected.
B. Is then the office of poetry only to amuse?
P. The Muses are young ladies, we expect to see them dressed; though not like some modern beauties with so much gauze and feather, that "the Lady herself is the least part of her." There are however didactic pieces of poetry, which are much admired, as the Georgics of Virgil, Mason's English Garden, Hayley's Epistles; nevertheless Science is best delivered in Prose, as its mode of reasoning is from stricter analogies than metaphors or similies.
B. Do not Personifications and Allegories distinguish poetry?
P. These are other arts of bringing objects before the eye; or of expressing sentiments in the language of vision; and are indeed better suited to the pen than the pencil.
B. That is strange, when you have just said they are used to bring their objects before the eye.
P. In poetry the personification or allegoric figure is generally indistinct, and therefore does not strike us as forcibly as to make us attend to its improbability; but in painting, the figures being all much more distinct, their improbability becomes apparent, and seizes our attention to it. Thus the person of Concealment is very indistinct and therefore does not compel us to attend to its improbability, in the following beautiful lines of Shakespear:
"—She never told her love; But let Concealment, like a worm i' th' bud, Feed on her damask cheek."—
But in these lines below the person of Reason obtrudes itself into our company, and becomes disagreeable by its distinctness, and consequent improbability.
"To Reason I flew, and intreated her aid, Who paused on my case, and each circumstance weigh'd; Then gravely reply'd in return to my prayer, That Hebe was fairest of all that were fair. That's a truth, reply'd I, I've no need to be taught, I came to you, Reason, to find out a fault. If that's all, says Reason, return as you came, To find fault with Hebe would forfeit my name."
Allegoric figures are on this account in general less manageable in painting and in statuary than in poetry: and can seldom be introduced in the two former arts in company with natural figures, as is evident from the ridiculous effect of many of the paintings of Rubens in the Luxemburgh gallery; and for this reason, because their improbability becomes more striking, when there are the figures of real persons by their side to compare them with. Mrs. Angelica Kauffman, well apprised of this circumstance, has introduced no mortal figures amongst her Cupids and her Graces. And the great Roubiliac, in his unrivalled monument of Time and Fame struggling for the trophy of General Fleming, has only hung up a medallion of the head of the hero of the piece. There are however some allegoric figures, which we have so often heard described or seen delineated, that we almost forget that they do not exist in common life; and hence view them without astonishment; as the figures of the heathen mythology, of angels, devils, death and time; and almost believe them to be realities, even when they are mixed with representations of the natural forms of man. Whence I conclude, that a certain degree of probability is necessary to prevent us from revolting with distaste from unnatural images; unless we are otherwise so much interested in the contemplation of them as not to perceive their improbability.
B. Is this reasoning about degrees of probability just?—When Sir Joshua Reynolds, who is unequalled both in the theory and practice of his art, and who is a great master of the pen as well as the pencil, has asserted in a discourse delivered to the Royal Academy, December 11, 1786, that "the higher styles of painting, like the higher kinds of the Drama, do not aim at any thing like deception; or have any expectation, that the spectators should think the events there represented are really passing before them." And he then accuses Mr. Fielding of bad judgment, when he attempts to compliment Mr. Garrick in one of his novels, by introducing an ignorant man, mistaking the representation of a scene in Hamlet for a reality; and thinks, because he was an ignorant man, he was less liable to make such a mistake.
P. It is a metaphysical question, and requires more attention than Sir Joshua has bestowed upon it.—You will allow, that we are perfectly deceived in our dreams; and that even in our waking reveries, we are often so much absorbed in the contemplation of what passes in our imaginations, that for a while we do not attend to the lapse of time or to our own locality; and thus suffer a similar kind of deception as in our dreams. That is, we believe things present before our eyes, which are not so.
There are two circumstances, which contribute to this compleat deception in our dreams. First, because in sleep the organs of sense are closed or inert, and hence the trains of ideas associated in our imaginations are never interrupted or dissevered by the irritations of external objects, and can not therefore be contrasted with our sensations. On this account, though we are affected with a variety of passions in our dreams, as anger, love, joy; yet we never experience surprize.—For surprize is only produced when any external irritations suddenly obtrude themselves, and dissever our passing trains of ideas.
Secondly, because in sleep there is a total suspension of our voluntary power, both over the muscles of our bodies, and the ideas of our minds; for we neither walk about, nor reason in compleat sleep. Hence, as the trains of ideas are passing in our imaginations in dreams, we cannot compare them with our previous knowledge of things, as we do in our waking hours; for this is a voluntary exertion; and thus we cannot perceive their incongruity. Thus we are deprived in sleep of the only two means by which we can distinguish the trains of ideas passing in our imaginations, from those excited by our sensations; and are led by their vivacity to believe them to belong to the latter. For the vivacity of these trains of ideas, passing in the imagination, is greatly increased by the causes above-mentioned; that is, by their not being disturbed or dissevered either by the appulses of external bodies, as in surprize; or by our voluntary exertions in comparing them with our previous knowledge, of things, as in reasoning upon them.
B. Now to apply.
P. When by the art of the Painter or Poet a train of ideas is suggested to our imaginations, which interests us so much by the pain or pleasure it affords, that we cease to attend to the irritations of common external objects, and cease also to use any voluntary efforts to compare these interesting trains of ideas with our previous knowledge of things, a compleat reverie is produced: during which time, however short, if it be but for a moment, the objects themselves appear to exist before us. This, I think, has been called by an ingenious critic "the ideal presence" of such objects. (Elements of Criticism by Lord Kaimes). And in respect to the compliment intended by Mr. Fielding to Mr. Garrick, it would seem that an ignorant Rustic at the play of Hamlet, who has some previous belief in the appearance of Ghosts, would sooner be liable to fall into reverie, and continue in it longer, than one who possessed more knowledge of the real nature of things, and had a greater facility of exercising his reason.
B. It must require great art in the Painter or Poet to produce this kind of deception?
P. The matter must be interesting from its sublimity, beauty, or novelty; this is the scientific part; and the art consists in bringing these distinctly before the eye, so as to produce (as above-mentioned) the ideal presence of the object, in which the great Shakespear particularly excells.
B. Then it is not of any consequence whether the representations correspond with nature?
P. Not if they so much interest the reader or spectator as to induce the reverie above described. Nature may be seen in the market-place, or at the card-table; but we expect something more than this in the play-house or picture-room. The further the artists recedes from nature, the greater novelty he is likely to produce; if he rises above nature, he produces the sublime; and beauty is probably a selection and new combination of her most agreeable parts. Yourself will be sensible of the truth of this doctrine by recollecting over in your mind the works of three of our celebrated artists. Sir Joshua Reynolds has introduced sublimity even into its portraits; we admire the representation of persons, whose reality we should have passed by unnoticed. Mrs. Angelica Kauffman attracts our eyes with beauty, which I suppose no where exists; certainly few Grecian faces are seen in this country. And the daring pencil of Fuseli transports us beyond the boundaries of nature, and ravishes us with the charm of the most interesting novelty. And Shakespear, who excells in all these together, so far captivates the spectator, as to make him unmindful of every kind of violation of Time, Place, or Existence. As at the first appearance of the Ghost of Hamlet, "his ear must be dull as the fat weed, which roots itself on Lethe's brink," who can attend to the improbablity of the exhibition. So in many scenes of the Tempest we perpetually believe the action passing before our eyes, and relapse with somewhat of distaste into common life at the intervals of the representation.
B. I suppose a poet of less ability would find such great machinery difficult and cumbersome to manage?
P. Just so, we should be mocked at the apparent improbabilities. As in the gardens of a Scicilian nobleman, described in Mr. Brydone's and in Mr. Swinburn's travels, there are said to be six hundred statues of imaginary monsters, which so disgust the spectators, that the state had once a serious design of destroying them; and yet the very improbable monsters in Ovid's Metamorphoses have entertained the world for many centuries.
B. The monsters in your Botanic Garden, I hope, are of the latter kind?
P. The candid reader must determine.
Again the Goddess strikes the golden lyre, And tunes to wilder notes the warbling wire; With soft suspended step Attention moves, And Silence hovers o'er the listening groves; 5 Orb within orb the charmed audience throng, And the green vault reverberates the song. "Breathe soft, ye Gales!" the fair CARLINA cries, Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies. How sweetly mutable yon orient hues, 10 As Morn's fair hand her opening roses strews; How bright, when Iris blending many a ray Binds in embroider'd wreath the brow of Day; Soft, when the pendant Moon with lustres pale O'er heaven's blue arch unfurls her milky veil; 15 While from the north long threads of silver light Dart on swift shuttles o'er the tissued night!
[Carlina. l. 7. Carline Thistle. Of the class Confederate Males. The seeds of this and of many other plants of the same class are furnished with a plume, by which admirable mechanism they perform long aerial journeys, crossing lakes and deserts, and are thus disseminated far from the original plant, and have much the appearance of a Shuttlecock as they fly. The wings are of different construction, some being like a divergent tuft of hairs, others are branched like feathers, some are elevated from the crown of the seed by a slender foot-stalk, which gives, than a very elegant appearance, others sit immediately on the crown of the seed.
Nature has many other curious vegetable contrivances for the dispersion of seeds: see note on Helianthus. But perhaps none of them has more the appearance of design than the admirable apparatus of Tillandsia for this purpose. This plant grows on the branches of trees, like the misleto, and never on the ground; the seeds are furnished with many long threads on their crowns; which, as they are driven forwards by the winds, wrap round the arms of trees, and thus hold them fast till they vegetate. This it very analogous to the migration of Spiders on the gossamer, who are said to attach themselves to the end of a long thread, and rise thus to the tops of trees or buildings, as the accidental breezes carry them.]
"Breathe soft, ye Zephyrs! hear my fervent sighs, Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies!"— —Plume over plume in long divergent lines 20 On whale-bone ribs the fair Mechanic joins; Inlays with eider down the silken strings, And weaves in wide expanse Daedalian wings; Round her bold sons the waving pennons binds, And walks with angel-step upon the winds.
25 So on the shoreless air the intrepid Gaul Launch'd the vast concave of his buoyant ball.— Journeying on high, the silken castle glides Bright as a meteor through the azure tides; O'er towns and towers and temples wins its way, 30 Or mounts sublime, and gilds the vault of day. Silent with upturn'd eyes unbreathing crowds Pursue the floating wonder to the clouds; And, flush'd with transport or benumb'd with fear, Watch, as it rises, the diminish'd sphere. 35 —Now less and less!—and now a speck is seen!— And now the fleeting rack obtrudes between!— With bended knees, raised arms, and suppliant brow To every shrine with mingled cries they vow.— "Save Him, ye Saints! who o'er the good preside; 40 "Bear Him, ye Winds! ye Stars benignant! guide." —The calm Philosopher in ether fails, Views broader stars, and breathes in purer gales; Sees, like a map, in many a waving line Round Earth's blue plains her lucid waters mine; 45 Sees at his feet the forky lightnings glow, And hears innocuous thunders roar below. ——Rife, great MONGOLFIER! urge thy venturous flight High o'er the Moon's pale ice-reflected light; High o'er the pearly Star, whose beamy horn. 50 Hangs in the east, gay harbinger of morn; Leave the red eye of Mars on rapid wing; Jove's silver guards, and Saturn's dusky ring; Leave the fair beams, which, issuing from afar; Play with new lustres round the Georgian star; 55 Shun with strong oars the Sun's attractive throne, The sparkling zodiack, and the milky zone; Where headlong Comets with increasing force Through other systems bend their blazing course.— For thee Cassiope her chair withdraws, 60 For thee the Bear retracts his shaggy paws; High o'er the North thy golden orb shall roll, And blaze eternal round the wondering pole. So Argo, rising from the southern main, Lights with new stars the blue etherial plain; 65 With favoring beams the mariner protects, And the bold course, which first it steer'd, directs.
Inventress of the Woof, fair LINA flings The flying shuttle through the dancing strings;
[For thee the Bear. l. 60. Tibi jam brachia contrahit ardens Scorpius. Virg. Georg. l. 1. 34. A new star appeared in Cassiope's chair in 1572. Herschel's Construction of the Heavens. Phil. Trans. V. 75. p. 266.]
[Linum. l. 67. Flax Five males and five females. It was first found on the banks of the Nile. The Linum Lusitanicum, or portigal flax, has ten males: see the note on Curcuma. Isis was said to invent spinning and weaving: mankind before that time were clothed with the skins of animals. The fable of Arachne was to compliment this new art of spinning and weaving, supposed to surpass in fineness the web of the Spider.]
Inlays the broider'd weft with flowery dyes, 70 Quick beat the reeds, the pedals fall and rise; Slow from the beam the lengths of warp unwind, And dance and nod the massy weights behind.— Taught by her labours, from the fertile soil Immortal Isis clothed the banks of Nile; 75 And fair ARACHNE with her rival loom Found undeserved a melancholy doom.— Five Sister-nymphs with dewy fingers twine The beamy flax, and stretch the fibre-line; Quick eddying threads from rapid spindles reel, 80 Or whirl with beaten foot the dizzy wheel. —Charm'd round the busy Fair five shepherds press, Praise the nice texture of their snowy dress, Admire the Artists, and the art approve, And tell with honey'd words the tale of love.
85 So now, where Derwent rolls his dusky floods Through vaulted mountains, and a night of woods, The Nymph, GOSSYPIA, treads the velvet sod, And warms with rosy smiles the watery God; His ponderous oars to slender spindles turns, 90 And pours o'er massy wheels his foamy urns; With playful charms her hoary lover wins, And wields his trident,—while the Monarch spins. —First with nice eye emerging Naiads cull From leathery pods the vegetable wool;
[Gossypia. l. 87. Gossypium. The cotton plant. On the river Derwent near Matlock in Derbyshire, Sir RICHARD ARKWRIGHT has created his curious and magnificent machinery for spinning cotton; which had been in vain attempted by many ingenious artists before him. The cotton-wool is first picked from the pods and seeds by women. It is then carded by cylindrical cards, which move against each other, with different velocities. It is taken from these by an iron-hand or comb, which has a motion similar to that of scratching, and takes the wool off the cards longitudinally in respect to the fibres or staple, producing a continued line loosely cohering, called the Rove or Roving. This Rove, yet very loosely twisted, is then received or drawn into a whirling canister, and is rolled by the centrifugal force in spiral lines within it; being yet too tender for the spindle. It is then passed between two pairs of rollers; the second pair moving faster than the first elongate the thread with greater equality than can be done by the hand; and is then twisted on spoles or bobbins.
The great fertility of the Cotton-plant in these fine flexile threads, whilst those from Flax, Hemp, and Nettles, or from the bark of the Mulberry-tree, require a previous putrefection of the parenchymatous substance, and much mechanical labour, and afterwards bleaching, renders this plant of great importance to the world. And since Sir Richard Arkwright's ingenious machine has not only greatly abbreviated and simplefied the labour and art of carding and spinning the Cotton-wool, but performs both these circumstances better than can be done by hand, it is probable, that the clothing of this small seed will become the principal clothing of mankind; though animal wool and silk may be preferable in colder climates, as they are more imperfect conductors of heat, and are thence a warmer clothing.]
95 With wiry teeth revolving cards release The tanged knots, and smooth the ravell'd fleece; Next moves the iron-band with fingers fine, Combs the wide card, and forms the eternal line; Slow, with soft lips, the whirling Can acquires 100 The tender skeins, and wraps in rising spires; With quicken'd pace successive rollers move, And these retain, and those extend the rove; Then fly the spoles, the rapid axles glow;— And slowly circumvolves the labouring wheel below.
105 PAPYRA, throned upon the banks of Nile, Spread her smooth leaf, and waved her silver style.
[Cyperus. Papyrus. l. 105. Three males, one female. The leaf of this plant was first used for paper, whence the word paper; and leaf, or folium, for a fold of a book. Afterwards the bark of a species of mulberry was used; whence liber signifies a book, and the bark of a tree. Before the invention of letters mankind may be said to have been perpetually in their infancy, as the arts of one age or country generally died with their inventors. Whence arose the policy, which still continues in Indostan, of obliging the son to practice the profession of his father. After the discovery of letters, the facts of Astronomy and Chemistry became recorded in written language, though the antient hieroglyphic characters for the planets and metals continue in use at this day. The antiquity of the invention of music, of astronomical observations, and the manufacture of Gold and Iron, are recorded in Scripture.]
—The storied pyramid, the laurel'd bust, The trophy'd arch had crumbled into dust; The sacred symbol, and the epic song, 110 (Unknown the character, forgot the tongue,) With each unconquer'd chief, or fainted maid, Sunk undistinguish'd in Oblivion's shade. Sad o'er the scatter'd ruins Genius sigh'd, And infant Arts but learn'd to lisp and died. 115 Till to astonish'd realms PAPYRA taught To paint in mystic colours Sound and Thought. With Wisdom's voice to print the page sublime, And mark in adamant the steps of Time. —Three favour'd youths her soft attention share, 120 The fond disciples of the studious Fair,
[About twenty letters, ten cyphers, and seven crotches, represent by their numerous combinations all our ideas and sensations! the musical characters are probably arrived at their perfection, unless emphasis, and tone, and swell could be expressed, as well as note and time. Charles the Twelfth of Sweden had a design to have introduced a numeration by squares, instead of by decimation, which might have served the purposes of philosophy better than the present mode, which is said to be of Arabic invention. The alphabet is yet in a very imperfect state; perhaps seventeen letters could express all the simple sounds in the European languages. In China they have not yet learned to divide their words into syllables, and are thence necessitated to employ many thousand characters; it is said above eighty thousand. It is to be wished, in this ingenious age, that the European nations would accord to reform our alphabet.]
Hear her sweet voice, the golden process prove; Gaze, as they learn; and, as they listen, love. The first from Alpha to Omega joins The letter'd tribes along the level lines; 125 Weighs with nice ear the vowel, liquid, surd, And breaks in syllables the volant word. Then forms the next upon the marshal'd plain In deepening ranks his dexterous cypher-train; And counts, as wheel the decimating bands, 130 The dews of AEgypt, or Arabia's sands, And then the third on four concordant lines Prints the lone crotchet, and the quaver joins; Marks the gay trill, the solemn pause inscribes, And parts with bars the undulating tribes. 135 Pleased round her cane-wove throne, the applauding crowd Clap'd their rude hands, their swarthy foreheads bow'd; With loud acclaim "a present God!" they cry'd, "A present God!" rebellowing shores reply'd— Then peal'd at intervals with mingled swell 140 The echoing harp, shrill clarion, horn, and shell; While Bards ecstatic, bending o'er the lyre, Struck deeper chords, and wing'd the song with fire. Then mark'd Astronomers with keener eyes The Moon's refulgent journey through the skies; 145 Watch'd the swift Comets urge their blazing cars, And weigh'd the Sun with his revolving Stars. High raised the Chemists their Hermetic wands, (And changing forms obey'd their waving hands,) Her treasur'd gold from Earth's deep chambers tore, 150 Or fused and harden'd her chalybeate ore. All with bent knee from fair PAPYRA claim Wove by her hands the wreath of deathless fame. —Exulting Genius crown'd his darling child, The young Arts clasp'd her knees, and Virtue smiled.
155 So now DELANY forms her mimic bowers, Her paper foliage, and her silken flowers;
[So now Delany. l. 155. Mrs. Delany has finished nine hundred and seventy accurate and elegant representations of different vegetables with the parts of their flowers, fructification, &c. according with the classification of Linneus, in what she terms paper-mosaic. She began this work at the age of 74, when her sight would no longer serve her to paint, in which she much excelled; between her age of 74 and 82, at which time her eyes quite failed her, she executed the curious Hortus ficcus above-mentioned, which I suppose contains a greater number of plants than were ever before drawn from the life by any one person. Her method consisted in placing the leaves of each plant with the petals, and all the other parts of the flowers, on coloured paper, and cutting them with scissars accurately to the natural size and form, and then parting them on a dark ground; the effect of which is wonderful, and their accuracy less liable to fallacy than drawings. She is at this time (1788) in her 89th year, with all the powers of a fine understanding still unimpaired. I am informed another very ingenious lady, Mrs. North, is constructing a similar Hortus ficcus, or Paper-garden; which she executes on a ground of vellum with such elegant taste and scientific accuracy, that it cannot fail to become a work of inestimable value.]
Her virgin train the tender scissars ply, Vein the green leaf, the purple petal dye: Round wiry stems the flaxen tendril bends, 160 Moss creeps below, and waxen fruit impends. Cold Winter views amid his realms of snow DELANY'S vegetable statues blow; Smooths his stern brow, delays his hoary wing, And eyes with wonder all the blooms of spring.
165 The gentle LAPSANA, NYMPHAEA fair, And bright CALENDULA with golden hair,
[Lapsana, Nymphaea alba, Calendula. l. 165. And many other flowers close and open their petals at certain hours of the day; and thus constitute what Linneus calls the Horologe, or Watch of Flora. He enumerates 46 flowers, which possess this kind of sensibility. I shall mention a few of them with their respective hours of rising and setting, as Linneus terms them. He divides them first into meteoric flowers, which less accurately observe the hour of unfolding, but are expanded sooner or later, according to the cloudiness, moisture, or pressure of the atmosphere. 2d. Tropical flowers open in the morning and close before evening every day; but the hour of the expanding becomes earlier or later, at the length of the day increases or decreases. 3dly. AEquinoctial flowers, which open at a certain and exact hour of the day, and for the most part close at another determinate hour.
Hence the Horologe or Watch of Flora is formed from numerous plants, of which the following are those most common in this country. Leontodon taraxacum, Dandelion, opens at 5—6, closes at 8—9. Hieracium pilosella, mouse-ear hawkweed, opens at 8, closes at 2. Sonchus laevis, smooth Sow-thistle, at 5 and at 11—12. Lactuca sativa, cultivated Lettice, at 7 and jo. Tragopogon luteum, yellow Goatsbeard, at 3—5 and at 9—10. Lapsana, nipplewort, at 5—6 and at 10—1. Nymphaea alba, white water lily, at 7 and 5. Papaver nudicaule, naked poppy, at 5 and at 7. Hemerecallis fulva, tawny Day-lily, at 5 and at 7—8. Convolvulus, at 5—6. Malva, Mallow, at 9—10, and at 1. Arenarea purpurea, purple Sandwort, at 9—10, and at 2—3. Anagallis, pimpernel, at 7—8. Portulaca hortensis, garden Purilain, at 9—10, and at 11—12. Dianthus prolifer, proliferous Pink, at 8 and at 1. Cichoreum, Succory, at 4—5. Hypochiaeris, at 6—7, and at 4—5. Crepis at 4—5, and at 10—II. Picris, at 4—5, and at 12. Calendula field, at 9, and at 3. Calendula African, at 7, and at 3—4.
As these observations were probably made in the botanic gardens at Upsal, they must require further attention to suit them to our climate. See Stillingfleet Calendar of Flora.]
Watch with nice eye the Earth's diurnal way, Marking her solar and sidereal day, Her slow nutation, and her varying clime, 170 And trace with mimic art the march of Time; Round his light foot a magic chain they fling, And count the quick vibrations of his wing.— First in its brazen cell reluctant roll'd Bends the dark spring in many a steely fold; 175 On spiral brass is stretch'd the wiry thong, Tooth urges tooth, and wheel drives wheel along; In diamond-eyes the polish'd axles flow, Smooth slides the hand, the ballance pants below. Round the white circlet in relievo bold 180 A Serpent twines his scaly length in gold; And brightly pencil'd on the enamel'd sphere Live the fair trophies of the passing year. —Here Time's huge fingers grasp his giant-mace, And dash proud Superstition from her base, 185 Rend her strong towers and gorgeous fanes, and shed The crumbling fragments round her guilty head. There the gay Hours, whom wreaths of roses deck, Lead their young trains amid the cumberous wreck; And, slowly purpling o'er the mighty waste, 190 Plant the fair growths of Science and of Taste. While each light Moment, as it dances by With feathery foot and pleasure-twinkling eye, Feeds from its baby-hand, with many a kiss, The callow nestlings of domestic Bliss.
195 As yon gay clouds, which canopy the skies, Change their thin forms, and lose their lucid dyes; So the soft bloom of Beauty's vernal charms Fades in our eyes, and withers in our arms. —Bright as the silvery plume, or pearly shell, 200 The snow-white rose, or lily's virgin bell, The fair HELLEBORAS attractive shone, Warm'd every Sage, and every Shepherd won.— Round the gay sisters press the enamour'd bands, And seek with soft solicitude their hands. 205 —Ere while how chang'd!—in dim suffusion lies The glance divine, that lighten'd in their eyes;
[Helleborus. I. 201. Many males, many females. The Helleborus niger, or Christmas rose, has a large beautiful white flower, adorned with a circle of tubular two-lipp'd nectarics. After impregnation the flower undergoes a remarkable change, the nectaries drop off, but the white corol remains, and gradually becomes quite green. This curious metamorphose of the corol, when the nectaries fall off, seems to shew that the white juices of the corol were before carried to the nectaries, for the purpose of producing honey: because when these nectaries fall off, no more of the white juice is secreted in the corol, but it becomes green, and degenerates into a calyx. See note on Lonicera. The nectary of the Tropaeolum, garden nasturtion, is a coloured horn growing from the calyx.]
Cold are those lips, where smiles seductive hung, And the weak accents linger on their tongue; Each roseat feature fades to livid green,— 210 —Disgust with face averted shuts the scene.
So from his gorgeous throne, which awed the world, The mighty Monarch of the east was hurl'd, To dwell with brutes beneath the midnight storm, By Heaven's just vengeance changed in mind and form. 215 —Prone to the earth He bends his brow superb, Crops the young floret and the bladed herb; Lolls his red tongue, and from the reedy side Of slow Euphrates laps the muddy tide. Long eagle-plumes his arching neck invest, 220 Steal round his arms, and clasp his sharpen'd breast; Dark brinded hairs in bristling ranks, behind, Rise o'er his back, and rustle in the wind, Clothe his lank sides, his shrivel'd limbs surround, And human hands with talons print the ground. 225 Silent in shining troops the Courtier-throng Pursue their monarch as he crawls along; E'en Beauty pleads in vain with smiles and tears, Nor Flattery's self can pierce his pendant ears.
Two Sister-Nymphs to Ganges' flowery brink 230 Bend their light steps, the lucid water drink, Wind through the dewy rice, and nodding canes, (As eight black Eunuchs guard the sacred plains), With playful malice watch the scaly brood, And shower the inebriate berries on the flood.— 235 Stay in your crystal chambers, silver tribes! Turn your bright eyes, and shun the dangerous bribes; The tramel'd net with less destruction sweeps Your curling shallows, and your azure deeps; With less deceit, the gilded fly beneath, 240 Lurks the fell hook unseen,—to taste is death!— —Dim your slow eyes, and dull your pearly coat, Drunk on the waves your languid forms shall float,
[Two Sister-Nymphs. l. 229. Menispernum. Cocculus. Indian berry. Two houses, twelve males. In the female flower there are two styles and eight filaments without anthers on their summits; which are called by Linneus eunuchs. See the note on Curcuma. The berry intoxicates fish. Saint Anthony of Padua, when the people refused to hear him, preached to the fish, and converted them. Addison's travels in Italy.]
On useless fins in giddy circles play, And Herons and Otters seize you for their prey.—
245 So, when the Saint from Padua's graceless land In silent anguish sought the barren strand, High on the shatter'd beech sublime He stood, Still'd with his waving arm the babbling flood; "To Man's dull ear," He cry'd, "I call in vain, "Hear me, ye scaly tenants of the main!"— 250 Misshapen Seals approach in circling flocks, In dusky mail the Tortoise climbs the rocks, Torpedoes, Sharks, Rays, Porpus, Dolphins, pour Their twinkling squadrons round the glittering shore; 255 With tangled fins, behind, huge Phocae glide, And Whales and Grampi swell the distant tide. Then kneel'd the hoary Seer, to heaven address'd His fiery eyes, and smote his sounding breast; "Bless ye the Lord!" with thundering voice he cry'd, 260 "Bless ye the Lord!" the bending shores reply'd; The winds and waters caught the sacred word, And mingling echoes shouted "Bless the Lord!" The listening shoals the quick contagion feel, Pant on the floods, inebriate with their zeal, 265 Ope their wide jaws, and bow their slimy heads, And dash with frantic fins their foamy beds.
Sopha'd on silk, amid her charm-built towers, Her meads of asphodel, and amaranth bowers, Where Sleep and Silence guard the soft abodes, 270 In sullen apathy PAPAVER nods. Faint o'er her couch in scintillating streams Pass the thin forms of Fancy and of Dreams; Froze by inchantment on the velvet ground Fair youths and beauteous ladies glitter round;
[Papaver. l. 270. Poppy. Many males, many females. The plants of this class are almost all of them poisonous; the finest opium is procured by wounding the heads of large poppies with a three-edged knife, and tying muscle-shells to them to catch the drops. In small quantities it exhilarates the mind, raises the passions, and invigorates the body: in large ones it is succeeded by intoxication, languor, stupor and death. It is customary in India for a messenger to travel above a hundred miles without rest or food, except an appropriated bit of opium for himself, and a larger one for his horse at certain stages. The emaciated and decrepid appearance, with the ridiculous and idiotic gestures, of the opium-eaters in Constantinople is well described in the Memoirs of Baron de Tott.]
275 On crystal pedestals they seem to sigh, Bend the meek knee, and lift the imploring eye. —And now the Sorceress bares her shrivel'd hand, And circles thrice in air her ebon wand; Flush'd with new life descending statues talk, 280 The pliant marble softening as they walk; With deeper sobs reviving lovers breathe, Fair bosoms rise, and soft hearts pant beneath; With warmer lips relenting damsels speak, And kindling blushes tinge the Parian cheek; 285 To viewless lutes aerial voices sing, And hovering Loves are heard on rustling wing. —She waves her wand again!—fresh horrors seize Their stiffening limbs, their vital currents freeze; By each cold nymph her marble lover lies, 290 And iron slumbers seal their glassy eyes. So with his dread Caduceus HERMES led From the dark regions of the imprison'd dead, Or drove in silent shoals the lingering train To Night's dull shore, and PLUTO'S dreary reign 295 So with her waving pencil CREWE commands The realms of Taste, and Fancy's fairy lands; Calls up with magic voice the shapes, that sleep In earth's dark bosom, or unfathom'd deep; That shrined in air on viewless wings aspire, 300 Or blazing bathe in elemental fire. As with nice touch her plaistic hand she moves, Rise the fine forms of Beauties, Graces, Loves; Kneel to the fair Inchantress, smile or sigh, And fade or flourish, as she turns her eye.
305 Fair CISTA, rival of the rosy dawn, Call'd her light choir, and trod the dewy lawn; Hail'd with rude melody the new-born May, As cradled yet in April's lap she lay.
[So with her waving pencil. l. 295. Alluding to the many beautiful paintings by Miss EMMA CREWE; to whom the author is indebted for the very elegant Frontispiece, where Flora, at play with Cupid, is loading him with garden-tools.]
[Cistus labdaniferus. l. 304. Many males, one female. The petals of this beautiful and fragrant shrub, as well as of the Oenothera, tree primrose, and others, continue expanded but a few hours, falling off about noon, or soon after, in hot weather. The most beautiful flowers of the Cactus grandiflorus (see Cerea) are of equally short duration, but have their existence in the night. And the flowers of the Hibiscus trionum are said to continue but a single hour. The courtship between the males and females in these flowers might be easily watched; the males are said to approach and recede from the females alternately. The flowers of the Hibiscus sinensis, mutable rose, live in the West Indies, their native climate, but one day; but have this remarkable property, they are white at the first expansion, then change to deep red, and become purple as they decay.
The gum or resin of this fragrant vegetable is collected from extensive underwoods of it in the East by a singular contrivance. Long leathern thongs are tied to poles and cords, and drawn over the tops of these shrubs about noon; which thus collect the dust of the anthers, which adheres to the leather, and is occasionally scraped off. Thus in some degree is the manner imitated, in which the bee collects on his thighs and legs the same material for the construction of his combs.]
"Born in yon blaze of orient sky, 310 "Sweet MAY! thy radiant form unfold; "Unclose thy blue voluptuous eye, "And wave thy shadowy locks of gold.
"For Thee the fragrant zephyrs blow, "For Thee descends the sunny shower; 315 "The rills in softer murmurs slow, "And brighter blossoms gem the bower.
"Light Graces dress'd in flowery wreaths "And tiptoe Joys their hands combine; "And Love his sweet contagion breathes, 320 "And laughing dances round thy shrine.
"Warm with new life the glittering throngs "On quivering fin and rustling wing "Delighted join their votive songs, "And hail thee, GODDESS OF THE SPRING."
325 O'er the green brinks of Severn's oozy bed, In changeful rings, her sprightly troop She led; PAN tripp'd before, where Eudness shades the mead, And blew with glowing lip his sevenfold reed; Emerging Naiads swell'd the jocund strain, 330 And aped with mimic step the dancing train.—
[Sevenfold reed. I. 328. The sevenfold reed, with which Pan is frequently described, seems to indicate, that he was the inventor of the musical gamut.]
"I faint, I fall!"—at noon the Beauty cried, "Weep o'er my tomb, ye Nymphs!"—and sunk and died. —Thus, when white Winter o'er the shivering clime Drives the still snow, or showers the silver rime; 335 As the lone shepherd o'er the dazzling rocks Prints his steep step, and guides his vagrant flocks; Views the green holly veil'd in network nice, Her vermil clusters twinkling in the ice; Admires the lucid vales, and slumbering floods, 340 Fantastic cataracts, and crystal woods, Transparent towns, with seas of milk between, And eyes with transport the refulgent scene:— If breaks the sunshine o'er the spangled trees, Or flits on tepid wing the western breeze, 345 In liquid dews descends the transient glare, And all the glittering pageant melts in air. Where Andes hides his cloud-wreath'd crest in snow, And roots his base on burning sands below; Cinchona, fairest of Peruvian maids 350 To Health's bright Goddess in the breezy glades On Quito's temperate plain an altar rear'd, Trill'd the loud hymn, the solemn prayer preferr'd: Each balmy bud she cull'd, and honey'd flower, And hung with fragrant wreaths the sacred bower; 355 Each pearly sea she search'd, and sparkling mine, And piled their treasures on the gorgeous shrine; Her suppliant voice for sickening Loxa raised, Sweet breath'd the gale, and bright the censor blazed.
—"Divine HYGEIA! on thy votaries bend 360 Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend! While streaming o'er the night with baleful glare The star of Autumn rays his misty hair; Fierce from his fens the Giant AGUE springs, And wrapp'd in fogs descends on vampire wings;
[Cinchona. l. 349. Peruvian bark-tree. Five males, and one female. Several of these trees were felled for other purposes into a lake, when an epidemic fever of a very mortal kind prevailed at Loxa in Peru, and the woodmen, accidentally drinking the water, were cured; and thus were discovered the virtues of this famous drug.]
365 "Before, with shuddering limbs cold Tremor reels, And Fever's burning nostril dogs his heels; Loud claps the grinning Fiend his iron hands, Stamps with his marble feet, and shouts along the lands; Withers the damask cheek, unnerves the strong, 370 And drives with scorpion-lash the shrieking throng. Oh, Goddess! on thy kneeling votaries bend Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend!" —HYGEIA, leaning from the blest abodes, The crystal mansions of the immortal gods, 375 Saw the sad Nymph uplift her dewy eyes, Spread her white arms, and breathe her fervid sighs; Call'd to her fair associates, Youth, and Joy, And shot all-radiant through the glittering sky; Loose waved behind her golden train of hair, 380 Her sapphire mantle swam diffus'd in air.— O'er the grey matted moss, and pansied sod, With step sublime the glowing Goddess trod, Gilt with her beamy eye the conscious shade, And with her smile celestial bless'd the maid. 385 "Come to my arms," with seraph voice she cries, "Thy vows are heard, benignant Nymph! arise; Where yon aspiring trunks fantastic wreath Their mingled roots, and drink the rill beneath, Yield to the biting axe thy sacred wood, 390 And strew the bitter foliage on the flood." In silent homage bow'd the blushing maid,— Five youths athletic hasten to her aid, O'er the scar'd hills re-echoing strokes resound, And headlong forests thunder on the ground. 395 Round the dark roots, rent bark, and shatter'd boughs, From ocherous beds the swelling fountain flows; With streams austere its winding margin laves, And pours from vale to vale its dusky waves. —As the pale squadrons, bending o'er the brink, 400 View with a sigh their alter'd forms, and drink; Slow-ebbing life with refluent crimson breaks O'er their wan lips, and paints their haggard cheeks; Through each fine nerve rekindling transports dart, Light the quick eye, and swell the exulting heart. 405 —Thus ISRAEL's heaven-taught chief o'er trackless lands Led to the sultry rock his murmuring bands. Bright o'er his brows the forky radiance blazed, And high in air the rod divine He raised.— Wide yawns the cliff!—amid the thirsty throng 410 Rush the redundant waves, and shine along; With gourds and shells and helmets press the bands, Ope their parch'd lips, and spread their eager hands, Snatch their pale infants to the exuberant shower, Kneel on the shatter'd rock, and bless the Almighty Power.
415 Bolster'd with down, amid a thousand wants, Pale Dropsy rears his bloated form, and pants; "Quench me, ye cool pellucid rills!" he cries, Wets his parch'd tongue, and rolls his hollow eyes. So bends tormented TANTALUS to drink, 420 While from his lips the refluent waters shrink; Again the rising stream his bosom laves, And Thirst consumes him 'mid circumfluent waves. —Divine HYGEIA, from the bending sky Descending, listens to his piercing cry; 425 Assumes bright DIGITALIS' dress and air, Her ruby cheek, white neck, and raven hair; Four youths protect her from the circling throng, And like the Nymph the Goddess steps along.— —O'er Him She waves her serpent-wreathed wand, 430 Cheers with her voice, and raises with her hand, Warms with rekindling bloom his visage wan, And charms the shapeless monster into man.
[Digitalis. l. 425. Of the class Two Powers. Four males, one female, Foxglove. The effect of this plant in that kind of Dropsy, which is termed anasarca, where the legs and thighs are much swelled, attended with great difficulty of breathing, is truly astonishing. In the ascites accompanied with anasarca of people past the meridian of life it will also sometimes succeed. The method of administering it requires some caution, as it is liable, in greater doses, to induce very violent and debilitating sickness, which continues one or two days, during which time the dropsical collection however disappears. One large spoonful, or half an ounce, of the following decoction, given twice a day, will generally succeed in a few days. But in more robust people, one large spoonful every two hours, till four spoonfuls are taken, or till sickness occurs, will evacuate the dropsical swellings with greater certainty, but is liable to operate more violently. Boil four ounces of the fresh leaves of purple Foxglove (which leaves may be had at all seasons of the year) from two pints of water to twelve ounces; add to the strained liquor, while yet warm, three ounces of rectified spirit of wine. A theory of the effects of this medicine, with many successful cases, may be seen in a pamphlet, called, "Experiments on Mucilaginous and Purulent Matter," published by Dr. Darwin in 1780. Sold by Cadell, London.]
So when Contagion with mephitic breath And withered Famine urged the work of death; 435 Marseilles' good Bishop, London's generous Mayor, With food and faith, with medicine and with prayer, Raised the weak head and stayed the parting sigh, Or with new life relumed the swimming eye.— 440 —And now, PHILANTHROPY! thy rays divine Dart round the globe from Zembla to the Line; O'er each dark prison plays the cheering light, Like northern lustres o'er the vault of night.—
[Marseillle's good Bishop. l. 435. In the year 1720 and 1722 the Plague made dreadful havock at Marseilles; at which time the Bishop was indefatigable in the execution of his pastoral office, visiting, relieving, encouraging, and absolving the sick with extream tenderness; and though perpetually exposed to the infection, like Sir John Lawrence mentioned below, they both are said to have escaped the disease.]
[London's generous Mayor, l. 435. During the great Plague at London in the year 1665, Sir John Lawrence, the then Lord Mayor, continued the whole time in the city; heard complaints, and redressed them; enforced the wisest regulations then known, and saw them executed. The day after the disease was known with certainty to be the Plague, above 40,000 servants were dismissed, and turned into the streets to perish, for no one would receive them into their houses; and the villages near London drove them away with pitch-forks and fire-arms. Sir John Lawrence supported them all, as well as the needy who were sick, at first by expending his own fortune, till subscriptions could be solicited and received from all parts of the nation. Journal of the Plague-year, Printed for E. Nutt, &c. at the R. Exchange. 1722.]
From realm to realm, with cross or crescent crown'd, Where'er Mankind and Misery are found, 445 O'er burning sands, deep waves, or wilds of snow, Thy HOWARD journeying seeks the house of woe. Down many a winding step to dungeons dank, Where anguish wails aloud, and fetters clank; To caves bestrew'd with many a mouldering bone, 450 And cells, whose echoes only learn to groan; Where no kind bars a whispering friend disclose, No sunbeam enters, and no zephyr blows, HE treads, inemulous of fame or wealth, Profuse of toil, and prodigal of health; 455 With soft assuasive eloquence expands Power's rigid heart, and opes his clenching hands; Leads stern-ey'd Justice to the dark domains, If not to fever, to relax the chains; Or guides awaken'd Mercy through the gloom, 460 And shews the prison, sister to the tomb!— Gives to her babes the self-devoted wife, To her fond husband liberty and life!— —The Spirits of the Good, who bend from high Wide o'er these earthly scenes their partial eye, 465 When first, array'd in VIRTUE'S purest robe, They saw her HOWARD traversing the globe; Saw round his brows her sun-like Glory blaze In arrowy circles of unwearied rays; Mistook a Mortal for an Angel-Guest, 470 And ask'd what Seraph-foot the earth imprest. —Onward he moves!—Disease and Death retire, And murmuring Demons hate him, and admire."
Here paused the Goddess,—on HYGEIA'S shrine Obsequious Gnomes repose the lyre divine; 475 Descending Sylphs relax the trembling strings, And catch the rain-drops on their shadowy wings. —And now her vase a modest Naiad fills With liquid crystal from her pebbly rills; Piles the dry cedar round her silver urn, 480 (Bright climbs the blaze, the crackling faggots burn), Culls the green herb of China's envy'd bowers, In gaudy cups the steamy treasure pours; And, sweetly-smiling, on her bended knee Presents the fragrant quintessence of Tea.
Bookseller. The monsters of your Botanic Garden are as surprising as the bulls with brazen feet, and the fire-breathing dragons, which guarded the Hesperian fruit; yet are they not disgusting, nor mischievous: and in the manner you have chained them together in your exhibition, they succeed each other amusingly enough, like prints of the London Cries, wrapped upon rollers, with a glass before them. In this at least they resemble the monsters in Ovid's Metamorphoses; but your similies, I suppose, are Homeric?
Poet. The great Bard well understood how to make use of this kind of ornament in Epic Poetry. He brings his valiant heroes into the field with much parade, and sets them a fighting with great fury; and then, after a few thrusts and parries, he introduces a long string of similies. During this the battle is supposed to continue; and thus the time necessary for the action is gained in our imaginations; and a degree of probability produced, which contributes to the temporary deception or reverie of the reader.
But the similies of Homer have another agreeable characteristic; they do not quadrate, or go upon all fours (as it is called), like the more formal similies of some modern writers; any one resembling feature seems to be with him a sufficient excuse for the introduction of this kind of digression; he then proceeds to deliver some agreeable poetry on this new subject, and thus converts every simile into a kind of short episode.
B. Then a simile should not very accurately resemble the subject?
P. No; it would then become a philosophical analogy, it would be ratiocination instead of poetry: it need only so far resemble the subject, as poetry itself ought to resemble nature. It should have so much sublimity, beauty, or novelty, as to interest the reader; and should be expressed in picturesque language, so as to bring the scenery before his eye; and should lastly bear so much veri-similitude as not to awaken him by the violence of improbability or incongruity.
B. May not the reverie of the reader be dissipated or disturbed by disagreeable images being presented to his imagination, as well as by improbable or incongruous ones? P. Certainly; he will endeavour to rouse himself from a disagreeable reverie, as from the night-mare. And from this may be discovered the line of boundary between the Tragic and the Horrid: which line, however, will veer a little this way or that, according to the prevailing manners of the age or country, and the peculiar associations of ideas, or idiosyncracy of mind, of individuals. For instance, if an artist should represent the death of an officer in battle, by shewing a little blood on the bosom of his shirt, as if a bullet had there penetrated, the dying figure would affect the beholder with pity; and if fortitude was at the same time expressed in his countenance, admiration would be added to our pity. On the contrary, if the artist should chuse to represent his thigh as shot away by a cannon ball, and should exhibit the bleeding flesh and shattered bone of the stump, the picture would introduce into our minds ideas from a butcher's shop, or a surgeon's operation-room, and we should turn from it with disgust. So if characters were brought upon the stage with their limbs disjointed by torturing instruments, and the floor covered with clotted blood and scattered brains, our theatric reverie would be destroyed by disgust, and we should leave the play-house with detestation.
The Painters have been more guilty in this respect than the Poets; the cruelty of Apollo in flaying Marcias alive is a favourite subject with the antient artists: and the tortures of expiring martyrs have disgraced the modern ones. It requires little genius to exhibit the muscles in convulsive action either by the pencil or the chissel, because the interstices are deep, and the lines strongly defined: but those tender gradations of muscular action, which constitute the graceful attitudes of the body, are difficult to conceive or to execute, except by a master of nice discernment and cultivated taste. B. By what definition would you distinguish the Horrid from the Tragic?
P. I suppose the latter consists of Distress attended with Pity, which is said to be allied to Love, the most agreeable of all our passions; and the former in Distress, accompanied with Disgust, which is allied to Hate, and is one of our most disagreeable sensations. Hence, when horrid scenes of cruelty are represented in pictures, we wish to disbelieve their existence, and voluntarily exert ourselves to escape from the deception: whereas the bitter cup of true Tragedy is mingled with some sweet consolatory drops, which endear our tears, and we continue to contemplate the interesting delusion with a delight which it is not easy to explain.
B. Has not this been explained by Lucretius, where he describes a shipwreck; and says, the Spectators receive pleasure from feeling themselves safe on land? and by Akenside, in his beautiful poem on the Pleasures of Imagination, who ascribes it to our finding objects for the due exertion of our passions?
P. We must not confound our sensations at the contemplation of real misery with those which we experience at the scenical representations of tragedy. The spectators of a shipwreck may be attracted by the dignity and novelty of the object; and from these may be said to receive pleasure; but not from the distress of the sufferers. An ingenious writer, who has criticised this dialogue in the English Review for August, 1789, adds, that one great source of our pleasure from scenical distress arises from our, at the same time, generally contemplating one of the noblest objects of nature, that of Virtue triumphant over every difficulty and oppression, or supporting its votary under every suffering: or, where this does not occur, that our minds are relieved by the justice of some signal punishment awaiting the delinquent. But, besides this, at the exhibition of a good tragedy, we are not only amused by the dignity, and novelty, and beauty, of the objects before us; but, if any distressful circumstances occur too forcible for our sensibility, we can voluntarily exert ourselves, and recollect, that the scenery is not real: and thus not only the pain, which we had received from the apparent distress, is lessened, but a new source of pleasure is opened to us, similar to that which we frequently have felt on awaking from a distressful dream; we are glad that it is not true. We are at the same time unwilling to relinquish the pleasure which we receive from the other interesting circumstances of the drama; and on that account quickly permit ourselves to relapse into the delusion; and thus alternately believe and disbelieve, almost every moment, the existence of the objects represented before us.
B. Have those two sovereigns of poetic land, HOMER and SHAKESPEAR, kept their works entirely free from the Horrid?—or even yourself in your third Canto?
P. The descriptions of the mangled carcasses of the companions of Ulysses, in the cave of Polypheme, is in this respect certainly objectionable, as is well observed by Scaliger. And in the play of Titus Andronicus, if that was written by Shakespear (which from its internal evidence I think very improbable), there are many horrid and disgustful circumstances. The following Canto is submitted to the candour of the critical reader, to whose opinion I shall submit in silence.
And now the Goddess founds her silver shell, And shakes with deeper tones the inchanted dell; Pale, round her grassy throne, bedew'd with tears, Flit the thin forms of Sorrows, and of Fears; 5 Soft Sighs responsive whisper to the chords, And Indignations half-unsheath their swords. "Thrice round the grave CIRCAEA prints her tread, And chaunts the numbers, which disturb the dead; Shakes o'er the holy earth her sable plume, 10 Waves her dread wand, and strikes the echoing tomb! —Pale shoot the stars across the troubled night, The timorous moon withholds her conscious light; Shrill scream the famish'd bats, and shivering owls, And loud and long the dog of midnight howls!—
[Circaea. l. 7. Enchanter's Nightshade. Two males, one female. It was much celebrated in the mysteries of witchcraft, and for the purpose of raising the devil, as its name imports. It grows amid the mouldering bones and decayed coffins in the ruinous vaults of Sleaford-church in Lincolnshire. The superstitious ceremonies or histories belonging to some vegetables have been truly ridiculous; thus the Druids are said to have cropped the Misletoe with a golden axe or sickle; and the Bryony, or Mandrake, was said to utter a scream when its root was drawn from the ground; and that the animal which drew it up became diseased and soon died: on which account, when it was wanted for the purposes of medicine, it was usual to loosen and remove the earth about the root, and then to tie it by means of a cord to a dog's tail, who was whipped to pull it up, and was then supposed to suffer for the impiety of the action. And even at this day bits of dried root of Peony are rubbed smooth, and strung, and sold under the name of Anodyne necklaces, and tied round the necks of children, to facilitate the growth of their teeth! add to this, that in Price's History of Cornwall, a book published about ten years ago, the Virga Divinatoria, or Divining Rod, has a degree of credit given to it. This rod is of hazle, or other light wood, and held horizontally in the hand, and is said to bow towards the ore whenever the Conjurer walks over a mine. A very few years ago, in France, and even in England, another kind of divining rod has been used to discover springs of water in a similar manner, and gained some credit. And in the very last year, there were many in France, and some in England, who underwent an enchantment without any divining rod at all, and believed themselves to be affected by an invisible agent, which the Enchanter called Animal Magnetism!]
—Then yawns the bursting ground!—two imps obscene Rise on broad wings, and hail the baleful queen; Each with dire grin salutes the potent wand, And leads the sorceress with his sooty hand; Onward they glide, where sheds the sickly yew 20 O'er many a mouldering bone its nightly dew; The ponderous portals of the church unbar,— Hoarse on their hinge the ponderous portals jar; As through the colour'd glass the moon-beam falls, Huge shapeless spectres quiver on the walls; 25 Low murmurs creep along the hollow ground, And to each step the pealing ailes resound; By glimmering lamps, protecting saints among, The shrines all tremble as they pass along, O'er the still choir with hideous laugh they move, 30 (Fiends yell below, and angels weep above!) Their impious march to God's high altar bend, With feet impure the sacred steps ascend; With wine unbless'd the holy chalice stain, Assume the mitre, and the cope profane; 35 To heaven their eyes in mock devotion throw, And to the cross with horrid mummery bow; Adjure by mimic rites the powers above, And plite alternate their Satanic love.
Avaunt, ye Vulgar! from her sacred groves 40 With maniac step the Pythian LAURA moves; Full of the God her labouring bosom sighs, Foam on her lips, and fury in her eyes, Strong writhe her limbs, her wild dishevell'd hair Starts from her laurel-wreath, and swims in air.— 45 While twenty Priests the gorgeous shrine surround Cinctur'd with ephods, and with garlands crown'd,
[Laura. l. 40. Prunus. Lauro-cerasus. Twenty males, one female. The Pythian priestess is supposed to have been made drunk with infusion of laurel-leaves when she delivered her oracles. The intoxication or inspiration is finely described by Virgil. AEn. L. vi. The distilled water from laurel-leaves is, perhaps, the most sudden poison we are acquainted with in this country. I have seen about two spoonfuls of it destroy a large pointer dog in less than ten minutes. In a smaller dose it is said to produce intoxication: on this account there is reason to believe it acts in the same manner as opium and vinous spirit; but that the dose is not so well ascertained. See note on Tremella. It is used in the Ratafie of the distillers, by which some dram-drinkers have been suddenly killed. One pint of water, distilled from fourteen pounds of black cherry stones bruised, has the same deleterious effect, destroying as suddenly as laurel-water. It is probable Apricot-kernels, Peach-leaves, Walnut-leaves, and whatever possesses the kernel-flavour, may have similar qualities.]
Contending hosts and trembling nations wait The firm immutable behests of Fate; —She speaks in thunder from her golden throne 50 With words unwill'd, and wisdom not her own.
So on his NIGHTMARE through the evening fog Flits the squab Fiend o'er fen, and lake, and bog; Seeks some love-wilder'd Maid with sleep oppress'd, Alights, and grinning fits upon her breast. 55 —Such as of late amid the murky sky Was mark'd by FUSELI'S poetic eye; Whose daring tints, with SHAKESPEAR'S happiest grace, Gave to the airy phantom form and place.— Back o'er her pillow sinks her blushing head, 60 Her snow-white limbs hang helpless from the bed; While with quick sighs, and suffocative breath, Her interrupted heart-pulse swims in death. —Then shrieks of captured towns, and widows' tears, Pale lovers stretch'd upon their blood-stain'd biers, 65 The headlong precipice that thwarts her flight, The trackless desert, the cold starless night, And stern-eye'd Murder with his knife behind, In dread succession agonize her mind. O'er her fair limbs convulsive tremors fleet, 70 Start in her hands, and struggle in her feet; In vain to scream with quivering lips she tries, And strains in palsy'd lids her tremulous eyes; In vain she wills to run, fly, swim, walk, creep; The WILL presides not in the bower of SLEEP. 75 —On her fair bosom sits the Demon-Ape Erect, and balances his bloated shape;
[The Will presides not. 1. 74. Sleep consists in the abolition of all voluntary power, both over our muscular motions and our ideas; for we neither walk nor reason in sleep. But, at the same time, many of our muscular motions, and many of our ideas, continue to be excited into action in consequence of internal irritations and of internal sensations; for the heart and arteries continue to beat, and we experience variety of passions, and even hunger and thirst in our dreams. Hence I conclude, that our nerves of sense are not torpid or inert during sleep; but that they are only precluded from the perception of external objects, by their external organs being rendered unfit to transmit to them the appulses of external bodies, during the suspension of the power of volition; thus the eye-lids are closed in sleep, and I suppose the tympanum of the car is not stretched, because they are deprived of the voluntary exertions of the muscles appropriated to these purposes; and it is probable something similar happens to the external apparatus of our other organs of sense, which may render them unfit for their office of perception during sleep: for milk put into the mouths of sleeping babes occasions them to swallow and suck; and, if the eye-lid is a little opened in the day-light by the exertions of disturbed sleep, the person dreams of being much dazzled. See first Interlude.]
Rolls in their marble orbs his Gorgon-eyes, And drinks with leathern ears her tender cries.
Arm'd with her ivory beak, and talon-hands, 80 Descending FICA dives into the sands; Chamber'd in earth with cold oblivion lies; Nor heeds, ye Suitor-train, your amorous sighs; Erewhile with renovated beauty blooms, Mounts into air, and moves her leafy plumes. 85 —Where HAMPS and MANIFOLD, their cliffs among, Each in his flinty channel winds along; With lucid lines the dusky Moor divides, Hurrying to intermix their sister tides.
[When there arises in sleep a painful desire to exert the voluntary motions, it is called the Nightmare or Incubus. When the sleep becomes so imperfect that some muscular motions obey this exertion of desire, people have walked about, and even performed some domestic offices in sleep; one of these sleep-walkers I have frequently seen: once she smelt of a tube-rose, and sung, and drank a dish of tea in this state; her awaking was always attended with prodigious surprize, and even fear; this disease had daily periods, and seemed to be of the epileptic kind.]
[Ficus indica. l. 80. Indian Fig-tree. Of the glass Polygamy. This large tree rises with opposite branches on all sides, with long egged leaves; each branch emits a slender flexile depending appendage from its summit like a cord, which roots into the earth and rises again. Sloan. Hist. of Jamaica. Lin. Spec. Plant. See Capri-ficus.]
Where still their silver-bosom'd Nymphs abhor, 90 The blood-smear'd mansion of gigantic THOR,— —Erst, fires volcanic in the marble womb Of cloud-wrapp'd WETTON raised the massy dome; Rocks rear'd on rocks in huge disjointed piles Form the tall turrets, and the lengthen'd ailes;
[Gigantic Thor. l. 90. Near the village of Wetton, a mile or two above Dove-Dale, near Ashburn in Dirbyshire, there is a spacious cavern about the middle of the ascent of the mountain, which still retains the Name of Thor's house; below is an extensive and romantic common, where the rivers Hamps and Manifold sink into the earth, and rise again in Ham gardens, the seat of John Port, Esq. about three miles below. Where these rivers rise again there are impressions resembling Fish, which appear to be of Jasper bedded in Limestone. Calcareous Spars, Shells converted into a kind of Agate, corallines in Marble, ores of Lead, Copper, and Zinc, and many strata of Flint, or Chert, and of Toadstone, or Lava, abound in this part of the country. The Druids are said to have offered human sacrifices inclosed in wicker idols to Thor. Thursday had its name from this Deity.
The broken appearance of the surface of many parts of this country; with the Swallows, as they are called, or basons on some of the mountains, like volcanic Craters, where the rain-water sinks into the earth; and the numerous large stones, which seem to have been thrown over the land by volcanic explosions; as well as the great masses of Toadstone or Lava; evince the existence of violent earthquakes at some early period of the world. At this time the channels of these subterraneous rivers seem to have been formed, when a long tract of rocks were raised by the sea flowing in upon the central fires, and thus producing an irresistable explosion of steam; and when these rocks again subsided, their parts did not exactly correspond, but left a long cavity arched over in this operation of nature. The cavities at Castleton and Buxton in Derbyshire seem to have had a similar origin, as well as this cavern termed Thor's house. See Mr. Whitehurst's and Dr. Hutton's Theories of the Earth.]
95 Broad ponderous piers sustain the roof, and wide Branch the vast rain-bow ribs from side to side. While from above descends in milky streams One scanty pencil of illusive beams, Suspended crags and gaping gulphs illumes, 100 And gilds the horrors of the deepen'd glooms. —Here oft the Naiads, as they chanced to play Near the dread Fane on THOR'S returning day, Saw from red altars streams of guiltless blood Stain their green reed-beds, and pollute their flood; 105 Heard dying babes in wicker prisons wail, And shrieks of matrons thrill the affrighted Gale; While from dark caves infernal Echoes mock, And Fiends triumphant shout from every rock! —-So still the Nymphs emerging lift in air 110 Their snow-white shoulders and their azure hair; Sail with sweet grace the dimpling streams along, Listening the Shepherd's or the Miner's song; But, when afar they view the giant-cave, On timorous fins they circle on the wave, 115 With streaming eyes and throbbing hearts recoil, Plunge their fair forms, and dive beneath the soil.— Closed round their heads reluctant eddies sink, And wider rings successive dash the brink.— Three thousand steps in sparry clefts they stray, 120 Or seek through sullen mines their gloomy way; On beds of Lava sleep in coral cells, Or sigh o'er jasper fish, and agate shells. Till, where famed ILAM leads his boiling floods Through flowery meadows and impending woods, 125 Pleased with light spring they leave the dreary night, And 'mid circumfluent surges rise to light; Shake their bright locks, the widening vale pursue, Their sea-green mantles fringed with pearly dew; In playful groups by towering THORP they move, 130 Bound o'er the foaming wears, and rush into the Dove.
With fierce distracted eye IMPATIENS stands, Swells her pale cheeks, and brandishes her hands,
[Impatiens. l. 131. Touch me not. The seed vessel consists of one cell with five divisions; each of these, when the seed is ripe, on being touched, suddenly folds itself into a spiral form, leaps from the stalk and disperses the seeds to a great distance by it's elasticity. The capsule of the geranium and the beard of wild oats are twisted for a similar purpose, and dislodge their seeds on wet days, when the ground is best fitted to receive them. Hence one of these, with its adhering capsule or beard fixed on a stand, serves the purpose of an hygrometer, twisting itself more or less according to the moisture of the air.
The awn of barley is furnished with stiff points, which, like the teeth of a saw, are all turned towards the point of it; as this long awn lies upon the ground, it extends itself in the moist air of night, and pushes forwards the barley corn, which it adheres to; in the day it shortens as it dries; and as these points prevent it from receding, it draws up its pointed end; and thus, creeping like a worm, will travel many feet from the parent stem. That very ingenious Mechanic Philosopher, Mr. Edgeworth, once made on this principle a wooden automaton; its back consisted of soft Fir-wood, about an inch square, and four feet long, made of pieces cut the cross-way in respect to the fibres of the wood, and glued together: it had two feet before, and two behind, which supported the back horizontally; but were placed with their extremities, which were armed with sharp points of iron, bending backwards. Hence, in moist weather, the back lengthened, and the two foremost feet were pushed forwards; in dry weather the hinder feet were drawn after, as the obliquity of the points of the feet prevented it from receding. And thus, in a month or two, it walked across the room which it inhabited. Might not this machine be applied as an Hygrometer to some meteorological purpose?]
With rage and hate the astonish'd groves alarms, And hurls her infants from her frantic arms. 135 —So when MEDAEA left her native soil Unaw'd by danger, unsubdued by toil; Her weeping sire and beckoning friends withstood, And launch'd enamour'd on the boiling flood; One ruddy boy her gentle lips caress'd, 140 And one fair girl was pillow'd on her breast;
While high in air the golden treasure burns, And Love and Glory guide the prow by turns. But, when Thessalia's inauspicious plain Received the matron-heroine from the main; 145 While horns of triumph sound, and altars burn, And shouting nations hail their Chief's return: Aghaft, She saw new-deck'd the nuptial bed, And proud CREUSA to the temple led; Saw her in JASON'S mercenary arms 150 Deride her virtues, and insult her charms; Saw her dear babes from fame and empire torn, In foreign realms deserted and forlorn; Her love rejected, and her vengeance braved, By Him her beauties won, her virtues saved.— 155 With stern regard she eyed the traitor-king, And felt, Ingratitude! thy keenest sting; "Nor Heaven," She cried, "nor Earth, nor Hell can hold "A Heart abandon'd to the thirst of Gold!" Stamp'd with wild foot, and shook her horrent brow, 160 And call'd the furies from their dens below. —Slow out of earth, before the festive crowds, On wheels of fire, amid a night of clouds, Drawn by fierce fiends arose a magic car, Received the Queen, and hovering flamed in air.— 165 As with raised hands the suppliant traitors kneel And fear the vengeance they deserve to feel, Thrice with parch'd lips her guiltless babes she press'd, And thrice she clasp'd them to her tortur'd breast; Awhile with white uplifted eyes she stood, 170 Then plung'd her trembling poniards in their blood. "Go, kiss your sire! go, share the bridal mirth!" She cry'd, and hurl'd their quivering limbs on earth. Rebellowing thunders rock the marble towers, And red-tongued lightnings shoot their arrowy showers; 175 Earth yawns!—the crashing ruin sinks!—o'er all Death with black hands extends his mighty Pall; Their mingling gore the Fiends of Vengeance quaff, And Hell receives them with convulsive laugh.
Round the vex'd isles where fierce tornados roar, 180 Or tropic breezes sooth the sultry shore; What time the eve her gauze pellucid spreads O'er the dim flowers, and veils the misty meads; Slow, o'er the twilight sands or leafy walks, With gloomy dignity DICTAMNA stalks;
[Dictamnus. l. 184. Fraxinella. In the still evenings of dry seasons this plant emits an inflammable air or gas, and flashes on the approach of a candle. There are instances of human creatures who have taken fire spontaneously, and been totally consumed. Phil. Trans.
The odours of many flowers, so delightful to our sense of smell, as well as the disgreeable scents of others, are owing to the exhalation of their essential oils. These essential oils have greater or less volatility, and are all inflammable; many of them are poisons to us, as these of Laurel and Tobacco; others possess a narcotic quality, as is evinced by the oil of cloves instantly relieving slight tooth-achs; from oil of cinnamon relieving the hiccup; and balsam of peru relieving the pain of some ulcers. They are all deleterious to certain insects, and hence their use in the vegetable economy being produced in flowers or leaves to protect them from the depredations of their voracious enemies. One of the essential oils, that of turpentine, is recommended, by M. de Thosse, for the purpose of destroying insects which infect both vegetables and animals. Having observed that the trees were attacked by multitudes of small insects of different colours (pucins ou pucerons), which injured their young branches, he destroyed them all intirely in the following manner: he put into a bowl a few handfuls of earth, on which he poured a small quantity of oil of turpentine; he then beat the whole together with a spatula, pouring on it water till it became of the consistence of soup; with this mixture he moistened the ends of the branches, and both the insects and their eggs were destroyed, and other insects kept aloof by the scent of the turpentine. He adds, that he destroyed the fleas of his puppies by once bathing them in warm water impregnated with oil of turpentine. Mem. d'Agriculture, An. 1787, Trimest. Printemp. p. 109. I sprinkled some oil of turpentine, by means of a brush, on some branches of a nectarine-tree, which was covered with the aphis; but it killed both the insect and the branches: a solution of arsenic much diluted did the same. The shops of medicine are supplied with resins, balsams, and essential oils; and the tar and pitch, for mechanical purposes, arc produced from these vegetable secretions.]
185 In sulphurous eddies round the weird dame Plays the light gas, or kindles into flame. If rests the traveller his weary head, Grim MANCINELLA haunts the mossy bed, Brews her black hebenon, and, stealing near, 190 Pours the curst venom in his tortured ear.— Wide o'er the mad'ning throng URTICA flings Her barbed shafts, and darts her poison'd stings.
[Mancinella, I. 188. Hyppomane. With the milky juice of this tree the Indians poison their arrows; the dew-drops, which fall from it, are so caustic as to blister the skin, and produce dangerous ulcers; whence many have found their death by sleeping under its shade. Variety of noxious plants abound in all countries; in our own the deadly nightshade, henbane, hounds-tongue, and many others, are seen in almost every high road untouched by animals. Some have asked, what is the use of such abundance of poisons? The nauseous or pungent juices of some vegetables, like the thorns of others, are given them for their defence from the depredations of animals; hence the thorny plants are in general wholesome and agreeable food to graminivorous animals. See note on Ilex. The flowers or petals of plants are perhaps in general more acrid than their leaves; hence they are much seldomer eaten by insects. This seems to have been the use of the essential oil in the vegetable economy, as observed above in the notes on Dictamnus and on Ilex. The fragrance of plants is thus a part of their defence. These pungent or nauseous juices of vegetables have supplied the science of medicine with its principal materials, such as purge, vomit, intoxicate, &c.]
[Urtica. I. 191. Nettle. The sting has a bag at its base, and a perforation near its point, exactly like the stings of wasps and the teeth of adders; Hook, Microgr. p. 142. Is the fluid contained in this bag, and pressed through the perforation into the wound, made by the point, a caustic essential oil, or a concentrated vegetable acid? The vegetable poisons, like the animal ones, produce more sudden and dangerous effects, when instilled into a wound, than when taken into the stomach; whence the families of Marfi and Psilli, in antient Rome, sucked the poison without injury out of wounds made by vipers, and were supposed to be indued with supernatural powers for this purpose. By the experiments related by Beccaria, it appears that four or five times the quantity, taken by the mouth, had about equal effects with that infused into a wound. The male flowers of the nettle are separate from the female, and the anthers are seen in fair weather to burst with force, and to discharge a dust, which hovers about the plant like a cloud.]
And fell LOBELIA'S suffocating breath Loads the dank pinion of the gale with death.— 195 With fear and hate they blast the affrighted groves, Yet own with tender care their kindred Loves!— So, where PALMIRA 'mid her wasted plains, Her shatter'd aqueducts, and prostrate sanes,
[Lobelia. I. 193. Longiflora. Grows in the West Indies, and spreads such deleterious exhalations around it, that an oppression of the breast is felt on approaching it at many feet distance when placed in the corner of a room or hot-house. Ingenhouz, Exper. on Air, p. 14.6. Jacquini hort. botanic. Vindeb. The exhalations from ripe fruit, or withering leaves, are proved much to injure the air in which they are confined; and, it is probable, all those vegetables which emit a strong scent may do this in a greater or less degree, from the Rose to the Lobelia; whence the unwholesomeness in living perpetually in such an atmosphere of perfume as some people wear about their hair, or carry in their handkerchiefs. Either Boerhaave or Dr. Mead have affirmed they were acquainted with a poisonous fluid whose vapour would presently destroy the person who sat near it. And it is well known, that the gas from fermenting liquors, or obtained from lime-stone, will destroy animals immersed in it, as well as the vapour of the Grotto del Cani near Naples.]
[So, where Palmira. I. 197. Among the ruins of Palmira, which are dispersed not only over the plains but even in the deserts, there is one single colonade above 2600 yards long, the bases of the Corinthian columns of which exceed the height of a man: and yet this row is only a small part of the remains of that one edifice! Volney's Travels.]
(As the bright orb of breezy midnight pours 200 Long threads of silver through her gaping towers, O'er mouldering tombs, and tottering columns gleams, And frosts her deserts with diffusive beams), Sad o'er the mighty wreck in silence bends, Lifts her wet eyes, her tremulous hands extends.— 205 If from lone cliffs a bursting rill expands Its transient course, and sinks into the sands; O'er the moist rock the fell Hyaena prowls, The Leopard hisses, and the Panther growls; On quivering wing the famish'd Vulture screams, 210 Dips his dry beak, and sweeps the gushing streams; With foamy jaws, beneath, and sanguine tongue, Laps the lean Wolf, and pants, and runs along; Stern stalks the Lion, on the rustling brinks Hears the dread Snake, and trembles as he drinks; 215 Quick darts the scaly Monster o'er the plain, Fold after fold, his undulating train; And, bending o'er the lake his crested brow, Starts at the Crocodile, that gapes below.
Where seas of glass with gay reflections smile 220 Round the green coasts of Java's palmy isle; A spacious plain extends its upland scene, Rocks rise on rocks, and fountains gush between; Soft zephyrs blow, eternal summers reign, And showers prolific bless the soil,—in vain! 225 —No spicy nutmeg scents the vernal gales, Nor towering plaintain shades the mid-day vales; No grassy mantle hides the sable hills, No flowery chaplet crowns the trickling rills; Nor tufted moss, nor leathery lichen creeps 230 In russet tapestry o'er the crumbling steeps. —No step retreating, on the sand impress'd, Invites the visit of a second guest; No refluent fin the unpeopled stream divides, No revolant pinion cleaves the airy tides;
235 Nor handed moles, nor beaked worms return, That mining pass the irremeable bourn.— Fierce in dread silence on the blasted heath Fell UPAS sits, the HYDRA-TREE of death. Lo! from one root, the envenom'd soil below, 240 A thousand vegetative serpents grow; In shining rays the scaly monster spreads O'er ten square leagues his far-diverging heads; Or in one trunk entwists his tangled form, Looks o'er the clouds, and hisses in the storm.
[Upas. l. 238. There is a poison-tree in the island of Java, which is said by its effluvia to have depopulated the country for 12 or 14 miles round the place of its growth. It is called, in the Malayan language, Bohon-Upas; with the juice of it the most poisonous arrows are prepared; and, to gain this, the condemned criminals are sent to the tree with proper direction both to get the juice and to secure themselves from the malignant exhalations of the tree; and are pardoned if they bring back a certain quantity of the poison. But by the registers there kept, not one in four are said to return. Not only animals of all kinds, both quadrupeds, fish, and birds, but all kinds of vegetables also are destroyed by the effluvia of the noxious tree; so that, in a district of 12 or 14 miles round it, the face of the earth is quite barren and rocky, intermixed only with the skeletons of men and animals; affording a scene of melancholy beyond what poets have described or painters delineated. Two younger trees of its own species are said to grow near it. See London Magazine for 1784, or 1783. Translated from a description of the poison-tree of the island of Java, written in Dutch by N.P. Foereh. For a further account of it, see a note at the end of the work.]
245 Steep'd in fell poison, as his sharp teeth part, A thousand tongues in quick vibration dart; Snatch the proud Eagle towering o'er the heath, Or pounce the Lion, as he stalks beneath; Or strew, as marshall'd hosts contend in vain, 250 With human skeletons the whiten'd plain. —Chain'd at his root two scion-demons dwell, Breathe the faint hiss, or try the shriller yell; Rise, fluttering in the air on callow wings, And aim at insect-prey their little stings. 255 So Time's strong arms with sweeping scythe erase Art's cumberous works, and empires, from their base; While each young Hour its sickle fine employs, And crops the sweet buds of domestic joys!
With blushes bright as morn fair ORCHIS charms, 260 And lulls her infant in her fondling arms;
[Orchis. l. 259. The Orchis morio in the circumstance of the parent-root shrivelling up and dying, as the young one increases, is not only analogous to other tuberous or knobby roots, but also to some bulbous roots, as the tulip. The manner of the production of herbaceous plants from their various perennial roots, seems to want further investigation, as their analogy is not yet clearly established. The caudex, or true root, in the orchis lies above the knob; and from this part the fibrous roots and the new knob are produced. In the tulip the caudex lies below the bulb; from whence proceed the fibrous roots and the new bulbs; and I suspect the tulip-root, after it has flowered, dies like the orchis-root; for the stem of the last year's tulip lies on the outside, and not in the center of the new bulb; which I am informed does not happen in the three or four first years when raised from seed, when it only produces a stem, and slender leaves without flowering. In the tulip-root, dissected in the early spring, just before it begins to shoot, a perfect flower is seen in its center; and between the first and second coat the large next year's bulb is, I believe, produced; between the second and third coat, and between this and the fourth coat, and perhaps further, other less and less bulbs are visible, all adjoining to the caudex at the bottom of the mother-bulb; and which, I am told, require as many years before they will slower, as the number of the coats with which they are covered. This annual reproduction of the tulip-root induces some florists to believe that tulip-roots never die naturally, as they lose so few of them; whereas the hyacinth-roots, I am informed, will not last above five or seven years after they have flowered.