The Botanic Garden. Part II. - Containing The Loves of the Plants. A Poem. - With Philosophical Notes.
by Erasmus Darwin
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[AEga l. 364. Conserva aegagropila. It is found loose in many lakes in a globular form, from the size of a walnut to that of a melon, much resembling the balls of hair found in the stomachs of cows; it adheres to nothing, but rolls from one part of the lake to another. The Conserva vagabunda dwells on the European seas, travelling along in the midst of the waves; (Spec. Plant.) These may not improperly be called itinerant vegetables. In a similar manner the Fucus natans (swimming) strikes no roots into the earth, but floats on the sea in very extensive masses, and may be said to be a plant of passage, as it is wafted by the winds from one shore to another.]

—With eager step the boiling surf she braves, And meets her refluent lover in the waves; Loose o'er the flood her azure mantle swims, 380 And the clear stream betrays her snowy limbs.

So on her sea-girt tower fair HERO stood At parting day, and mark'd the dashing flood; While high in air, the glimmering rocks above, Shone the bright lamp, the pilot-star of Love. 385 —With robe outspread the wavering flame behind She kneels, and guards it from the shifting wind; Breathes to her Goddess all her vows, and guides Her bold LEANDER o'er the dusky tides; Wrings his wet hair, his briny bosom warms, 390 And clasps her panting lover in her arms.

Deep, in wide caverns and their shadowy ailes, Daughter of Earth, the chaste TRUFFELIA smiles;

[Truffelia. l. 392. (Lycoperdon Tuber) Truffle. Clandestine marriage. This fungus never appears above ground, requiring little air, and perhaps no light. It is found by dogs or swine, who hunt it by the smell. Other plants, which have no buds or branches on their stems, as the grasses, shoot out numerous stoles or scions underground; and this the more, as their tops or herbs are eaten by cattle, and thus preserve themselves,]

On silvery beds, of soft asbestus wove, Meets her Gnome-husband, and avows her love. 395 —High o'er her couch impending diamonds blaze, And branching gold the crystal roof inlays; With verdant light the modest emeralds glow, Blue sapphires glare, and rubies blush, below; Light piers of lazuli the dome surround, 400 And pictured mochoes tesselate the ground; In glittering threads along reflective walls The warm rill murmuring twinkles, as it falls; Now sink the Eolian strings, and now they swell, And Echoes woo in every vaulted cell; 405 While on white wings delighted Cupids play, Shake their bright lamps, and shed celestial day.

Closed in an azure fig by fairy spells, Bosom'd in down, fair CAPRI-FICA dwells;—

[Caprificus. l. 408 Wild fig. The fruit of the fig is not a seed-vessel, but a receptacle inclosing the flower within it. As these trees bear some male and others female flowers, immured on all sides by the fruit, the manner of their fecundation was very unintelligible, till Tournefort and Pontedera discovered, that a kind of gnat produced in the male figs carried the fecundating dust on its wings, (Cynips Psenes Syst. Nat. 919.), and, penetrating the female fig, thus impregnated the flowers; for the evidence of this wonderful fact, see the word Caprification, in Milne's Botanical Dictionary. The figs of this country are all female, and their seeds not prolific; and therefore they can only be propagated by layers and suckers.

Monsieur de la Hire has shewn in the Memoir, de l'Academ. de Science, that the summer figs of Paris, in Provence, Italy, and Malta, have all perfect stamina, and ripen not only their fruits, but their seed; from which seed other fig-trees are raised; but that the stamina of the autumnal figs are abortive, perhaps owing to the want of due warmth. Mr. Milne, in his Botanical Dictionary (art. Caprification), says, that the cultivated fig-trees have a few male flowers placed above the female within the same covering or receptacle; which in warmer climates perform their proper office, but in colder ones become abortive: And Linneus observes, that some figs have the navel of the receptacle open; which was one reason that induced him to remove this plant from the class Clandestine Marriage to the class Polygamy. Lin. Spec. Plant.

From all these circumstances I should conjecture, that those female fig-flowers, which are closed on all sides in the fruit or receptacle without any male ones, are monsters, which have been propagated for their fruit, like barberries, and grapes without seeds in them; and that the Caprification is either an ancient process of imaginary use, and blindly followed in some countries, or that it may contribute to ripen the fig by decreasing its vigour, like cutting off a circle of the bark from the branch of a pear-tree. Tournefort seems inclined to this opinion; who says, that the figs in Provence and at Paris ripen sooner, if their buds be pricked with a straw dipped in olive-oil. Plumbs and pears punctured by some insects ripen sooner, and the part round the puncture is sweeter. Is not the honey-dew produced by the puncture of insects? will not wounding the branch of a pear-tree, which is too vigorous, prevent the blossoms from falling off; as from some fig-trees the fruit is said to fall off unless they are wounded by caprification? I had last spring six young trees of the Ischia fig with fruit on them in pots in a stove; on removing them into larger boxes, they protruded very vigorous shoots, and the figs all fell off; which I ascribed to the increased vigour of the plants.]

So sleeps in silence the Curculio, shut 410 In the dark chambers of the cavern'd nut, Erodes with ivory beak the vaulted shell, And quits on filmy wings its narrow cell. So the pleased Linnet in the moss-wove nest, Waked into life beneath its parent's breast, 415 Chirps in the gaping shell, bursts forth erelong, Shakes its new plumes, and tries its tender song.— —And now the talisman she strikes, that charms Her husband-Sylph,—and calls him to her arms.— Quick, the light Gnat her airy Lord bestrides, 420 With cobweb reins the flying courser guides, From crystal steeps of viewless ether springs, Cleaves the soft air on still expanded wings; Darts like a sunbeam o'er the boundless wave, And seeks the beauty in her secret cave. 425 So with quick impulse through all nature's frame Shoots the electric air its subtle flame. So turns the impatient needle to the pole, Tho' mountains rise between, and oceans roll. Where round the Orcades white torrents roar, 430 Scooping with ceaseless rage the incumbent shore, Wide o'er the deep a dusky cavern bends Its marble arms, and high in air impends; Basaltic piers the ponderous roof sustain, And steep their massy sandals in the main; 435 Round the dim walls, and through the whispering ailes Hoarse breathes the wind, the glittering water boils. Here the charm'd BYSSUS with his blooming bride Spreads his green sails, and braves the foaming tide; The star of Venus gilds the twilight wave, 440 And lights her votaries to the secret cave; Light Cupids flutter round the nuptial bed, And each coy sea-maid hides her blushing head.

[Basaltic piers. l. 433. This description alludes to the cave of Fingal in the island of Staffa. The basaltic columns, which compose the Giants Causeway on the coast of Ireland, as well as those which support the cave of Fingal, are evidently of volcanic origin, as is well illustrated in an ingenious paper of Mr. Keir, in the Philos. Trans. who observed in the glass, which had been long in a fusing heat at the bottom of the pots in the glass-houses at Stourbridge, that crystals were produced of a form similar to the parts of the basaltic columns of the Giants Causeway.]

[Byssus. 437. Clandestine Marriage. It floats on the sea in the day, and sinks a little during the night; it is found in caverns on the northern shores, of a pale green colour, and as thin as paper.]

Where cool'd by rills, and curtain'd round by woods, Slopes the green dell to meet the briny floods, 445 The sparkling noon-beams trembling on the tide, The PROTEUS-LOVER woos his playful bride, To win the fair he tries a thousand forms, Basks on the sands, or gambols in the storms. A Dolphin now, his scaly sides he laves, 450 And bears the sportive damsel on the waves; She strikes the cymbal as he moves along, And wondering Ocean listens to the song. —And now a spotted Pard the lover stalks, Plays round her steps, and guards her favour'd walks;

[The Proteus-love. l. 446. Conserva polymorpha. This vegetable is put amongst the cryptogamia, or clandestine marriages, by Linneus; but, according to Mr. Ellis, the males and females are on different plants. Philos. Trans. Vol. LVII. It twice changes its colour, from red to brown, and then to black; and changes its form by losing its lower leaves, and elongating some of the upper ones, so as to be mistaken by the unskilful for different plants. It grows on the shores of this country.

There is another plant, Medicago polymorpha, which may be said to assume a great variety of shapes; as the seed-vessels resemble sometimes snail-horns, at other times caterpillars with or without long hair upon them; by which means it is probable they sometimes elude the depredations of those insects. The seeds of Calendula, Marygold, bend up like a hairy caterpillar, with their prickles bridling outwards, and may thus deter some birds or insects from preying upon them. Salicornia also assumes an animal similitude. Phil. Bot. p. 87. See note on Iris in additional notes; and Cypripedia in Vol. I.]

455 As with white teeth he prints her hand, caress'd, And lays his velvet paw upon her breast, O'er his round face her snowy fingers strain The silken knots, and fit the ribbon-rein. —And now a Swan, he spreads his plumy sails, 460 And proudly glides before the fanning gales; Pleas'd on the flowery brink with graceful hand She waves her floating lover to the land; Bright shines his sinuous neck, with crimson beak He prints fond kisses on her glowing cheek, 465 Spreads his broad wings, elates his ebon crest, And clasps the beauty to his downy breast.

A hundred virgins join a hundred swains, And fond ADONIS leads the sprightly trains;

[Adonis. l. 468. Many males and many females live together in the same flower. It may seem a solecism in language, to call a flower, which contains many of both sexes, an individual; and the more so to call a tree or shrub an individual, which consists of so many flowers. Every tree, indeed, ought to be considered as a family or swarm of its respective buds; but the buds themselves seem to be individual plants; because each has leaves or lungs appropriated to it; and the bark of the tree is only a congeries of the roots of all these individual buds. Thus hollow oak-trees and willows are often seen with the whole wood decayed and gone; and yet the few remaining branches flourish with vigour; but in respect to the male and female parts of a flower, they do not destroy its individuality any more than the number of paps of a sow, or the number of her cotyledons, each of which includes one of her young.

The society, called the Areoi, in the island of Otaheite, consists of about 100 males and 100 females, who form one promiscuous marriage.]

Pair after pair, along his sacred groves 470 To Hymen's fane the bright procession moves; Each smiling youth a myrtle garland shades, And wreaths of roses veil the blushing maids; Light joys on twinkling feet attend the throng, Weave the gay dance, or raise the frolic song; 475 —Thick, as they pass, exulting Cupids fling Promiscuous arrows from the sounding string; On wings of gossamer soft Whispers fly, And the sly Glance steals side-long from the eye. —As round his shrine the gaudy circles bow, 480 And seal with muttering lips the faithless vow, Licentious Hymen joins their mingled hands, And loosely twines the meretricious bands.— Thus where pleased VENUS, in the southern main, Sheds all her smiles on Otaheite's plain,

485 Wide o'er the isle her silken net she draws, And the Loves laugh at all, but Nature's laws."

Here ceased the Goddess,—o'er the silent strings Applauding Zephyrs swept their fluttering wings; Enraptur'd Sylphs arose in murmuring crowds 490 To air-wove canopies and pillowy clouds; Each Gnome reluctant sought his earthy cell, And each bright Floret clos'd her velvet bell. Then, on soft tiptoe, NIGHT approaching near Hung o'er the tuneless lyre his sable ear; 495 Gem'd with bright stars the still etherial plain, And bad his Nightingales repeat the strain.


P. 7. Additional note to Curcuma. These anther-less filaments seem to be an endeavour of the plant to produce more stamens, as would appear from some experiments of M. Reynier, instituted for another purpose: he cut away the stamens of many flowers, with design to prevent their fecundity, and in many instances the flower threw out new filaments from the wounded part of different lengths; but did not produce new anthers. The experiments were made on the geum rivale, different kinds of mallows, and the aechinops ritro. Critical Review for March, 1788.

P. 8. Addition to the note on Iris. In the Persian Iris the end of the lower petal is purple, with white edges and orange streaks, creeping, as it were, into the mouth of the flower like an insect; by which deception in its native climate it probably prevents a similar insect from plundering it of its honey: the edges of the lower petal lap over those of the upper one, which prevents it from opening too wide on fine days, and facilitates its return at night; whence the rain is excluded, and the air admitted. See Polymorpha, Rubia, and Cypripedia in Vol. I.

P. 12. Additional note on Chandrilla. In the natural state of the expanded flower of the barberry, the stamens lie on the petals; under the concave summits of which the anthers shelter themselves, and in this situation remain perfectly rigid; but on touching the inside of the filament near its base with a fine bristle, or blunt needle, the stamen instantly bends upwards, and the anther, embracing the stigma, sheds its dust. Observations on the Irritation of Vegetables, by T. E. Smith, M. D.

P. 15. Addition to the note on Silene. I saw a plant of the Dionaea Muscipula, Flytrap of Venus, this day, in the collection of Mr. Boothby at Ashbourn-Hall, Derbyshire, Aug. 20th, 1788; and on drawing a straw along the middle of the rib of the leaves as they lay upon the ground round the stem, each of them, in about a second of time, closed and doubled itself up, crossing the thorns over the opposite edge of the leaf, like the teeth of a spring rap-trap: of this plant I was favoured with an elegant coloured drawing, by Miss Maria Jackson of Tarporly, in Cheshire, a Lady who adds much botanical knowledge to many other elegant acquirements. In the Apocynum Androsaemifolium, one kind of Dog's bane, the anthers converge over the nectaries, which consist of five glandular oval corpuscles surrounding the germ; and at the same time admit air to the nectaries at the interstice between each anther. But when a fly inserts its proboscis between these anthers to plunder the honey, they converge closer, and with such violence as to detain the fly, which thus generally perishes. This account was related to me by R.W. Darwin, Esq; of Elston, in Nottinghamshire, who showed me the plant in flower, July 2d, 1788, with a fly thus held fast by the end of its proboscis, and was well seen by a magnifying lens, and which in vain repeatedly struggled to disengage itself, till the converging anthers were separated by means of a pin: on some days he had observed that almost every flower of this elegant plant had a fly in it thus entangled; and a few weeks afterwards favoured me with his further observations on this subject.

"My Apocynum is not yet out of flower. I have often visited it, and have frequently found four or five flies, some alive, and some dead, in its flowers; they are generally caught by the trunk or proboscis, sometimes by the trunk and a leg; there is one at present only caught by a leg: I don't know that this plant sleeps, as the flowers remain open in the night; yet the flies frequently make their escape. In a plant of Mr. Ordino's, an ingenious gardener at Newark, who is possessed of a great collection of plants, I saw many flowers of an Apocynum with three dead flies in each; they are a thin-bodied fly, and rather less than the common house-fly; but I have seen two or three other sorts of flies thus arrested by the plant. Aug. 12, 1788."

P. 18. Additional note on Ilex. The efficient cause which renders the hollies prickly in Needwood Forest only as high as the animals can reach them, may arise from the lower branches being constantly cropped by them, and thus shoot forth more luxuriant foliage: it is probable the shears in garden-hollies may produce the same effect, which is equally curious, as prickles are not thus produced on other plants.

P. 41. Additional note on Ulva. M. Hubert made some observations on the air contained in the cavities of the bambou. The stems of these canes were from 40 to 50 feet in height, and 4 or 5 inches in diameter, and might contain about 30 pints of elastic air. He cut a bambou, and introduced a lighted candle into the cavity, which was extinguished immediately on its entrance. He tried this about 60 times in a cavity of the bambou, containing about two pints. He introduced mice at different times into these cavities, which seemed to be somewhat affected, but soon recovered their agility. The stem of the bambou is not hollow till it rises more than one foot from the earth; the divisions between the cavities are convex downwards. Observ. sur la Physique par M. Rozier, l. 33. p. 130.

P. 65. Additional note on Gossypium.

————emerging Naiads cull From leathery pods the vegetable wool. ——eam circum Milesia vellera nymphae Carpebant, hyali saturo fucata colore. Virg. Georg. IV. 334.

P. 119. Addition to Orchis. The two following lines were by mistake omitted; they were to have been inserted after l. 282, p. 119.

Saw on his helm, her virgin hands inwove, Bright stars of gold, and mystic knots of love;

P. 136. Addition to the note on Tropaeolum. In Sweden a very curious phenomenon has been observed on certain flowers, by M. Haggren, Lecturer in Natural History. One evening be perceived a faint flash of light repeatedly dart from a Marigold; surprized at such an uncommon appearance, he resolved to examine it with attention; and, to be assured that it was no deception of the eye, he placed a man near him, with orders to make a signal at the moment when he observed the light. They both saw it constantly at the same moment.

The light was most brilliant on Marigolds, of an orange or flame colour; but scarcely visible on pale ones.

The flash was frequently seen on the same flower two or three times in quick succession, but more commonly at intervals of several minutes; and when several flowers in the same place emitted their light together, it could be observed at a considerable distance.

This phaenomenon was remarked in the months of July and August, at sun-set, and for half an hour after, when the atmosphere was clear; but after a rainy day, or when the air was loaded with vapours, nothing of it was seen.

The following flowers emitted flashes, more or less vivid, in this order:

1. The Marigold, (Calendula Officinalis). 2. Garden Nasturtion, (Tropaeolum majus). 3. Orange Lily, (Lilium bulbiferum). 4. The Indian Pink, (Tagetes patula et erecta).

Sometimes it was also observed on the Sun-flowers, (Helianthus annuus). But bright yellow, or flame colour, seemed in general necessary for the production of this light; for it was never seen on the flowers of any other colour.

To discover whether some little insects, or phosphoric worms, might not be the cause of it, the flowers were carefully examined even with a microscope, without any such being found.

From the rapidity of the flash, and other circumstances, it might be conjectured, that there is something of electricity in this phaenomenon. It is well known, that when the pistil of a flower is impregnated, the pollen bursts away by its elasticity, with which electricity may be combined. But M. Haggren, after having observed the slash from the Orange-lily, the anthers of which are a considerable space distant from the petals, found that the light proceeded from the petals only; whence he concludes, that this electric light is caused by the pollen, which in flying off is scattered upon the petals. Obser. Physique par M. Rozier, Vol. XXXIII. p. iii.

P. 153. Addition to Avena. The following lines were by mistake omitted; they were designed to have been inserted after l. 102, p. 153.

Green swells the beech, the widening knots improve, So spread the tender growths of culture'd love; Wave follows wave, the letter'd lines decay, So Love's soft forms neglected melt away.

P. 157. Additional note to Bellis. Du Halde gives an account of a white wax made by small insects round the branches of a tree in China in great quantity, which is there collected for economical and medical purposes: the tree is called Tong-tsin. Description of China, Vol. I. p. 230.

Description of the Poison-Tree in the Island of JAVA. Translated from the original Dutch of N. P. Foerich.

This destructive tree is called in the Malayan language Bohon-Upas, and has been described by naturalists; but their accounts have been so tinctured with the marvellous, that the whole narration has been supposed to be an ingenious fiction by the generality of readers. Nor is this in the least degree surprising, when the circumstances which we shall faithfully relate in this description are considered.

I must acknowledge, that I long doubted the existence of this tree, until a stricter enquiry convinced me of my error. I shall now only relate simple unadorned facts, of which I have been an eye-witness. My readers may depend upon the fidelity of this account. In the year 1774 I was stationed at Batavia, as surgeon, in the service of the Dutch East-India Company. During my residence there I received several different accounts of the Bohon Upas, and the violent effects of its poison. They all then seemed incredible to me, but raised my curiosity in so high a degree, that I resolved to investigate this subject thoroughly, and to trust only to my own observations. In consequence of this resolution, I applied to the Governor-General, Mr. Petrus Albertus van der Parra, for a pass to travel through the country: my request was granted; and, having procured every information. I set out on my expedition. I had procured a recommendation from an old Malayan priest to another priest, who lives on the nearest inhabitable spot to the tree, which is about fifteen or sixteen miles distant. The letter proved of great service to me in my undertaking, as that priest is appointed by the Emperor to reside there, in order to prepare for eternity the souls of those who for different crimes are sentenced to approach the tree, and to procure the poison.

The Bohon-Upas is situated in the island of Java, about twenty-seven leagues from Batavia, fourteen from Soura Charta, the seat of the Emperor, and between eighteen and twenty leagues from Tinksor, the present residence of the Sultan of Java. It is surrounded on all sides by a circle of high hills and mountains; and the country round it, to the distance of ten or twelve miles from the tree, is entirely barren. Not a tree, nor a shrub, nor even the least plant or grass is to be seen. I have made the tour all around this dangerous spot, at about eighteen miles distant from the centre, and I found the aspect of the country on all sides equally dreary. The easiest ascent of the hills is from that part where the old ecclesiastick dwells. From his house the criminals are sent for the poison, into which the points of all warlike instruments are dipped. It is of high value, and produces a considerable revenue to the Emperor.

Account of the manner in which the Poison it procured.

The poison which is procured from this tree is a gum that issues out between the bark and the tree itself, like the camphor. Malefactors, who for their crimes are sentenced to die, are the only persons who fetch the poison; and this is the only chance they have of saving their lives. After sentence is pronounced upon them by the judge, they are asked in court, whether they will die by the hands of the executioner, or whether they will go to the Upas tree for a box of poison? They commonly prefer the latter proposal, as there is not only some chance of preserving their lives, but also a certainty, in case of their safe return, that a provision will be made for them in future by the Emperor. They are also permitted to ask a favour from the Emperor, which is generally of a trifling nature, and commonly granted. They are then provided with a silver or tortoiseshell box, in which they are to put the poisonous gum, and are properly instructed how to proceed while they are upon their dangerous expedition. Among other particulars, they are always told to attend to the direction of the winds; as they are to go towards the tree before the wind, so that the effluvia from the tree are always blown from them. They are told, likewise, to travel with the utmost dispatch, as that is the only method of insuring a safe return. They are afterwards sent to the house of the old priest, to which place they are commonly attended by their friends and relations. Here they generally remain some days, in expectation of a favourable breeze. During that time the ecclesiastic prepares them for their future fate by prayers and admonitions. When the hour of their departure arrives, the priest puts them on a long leather-cap, with two glasses before their eyes, which comes down as far as their breast; and also provides them with a pair of leather-gloves. They are then conducted by the priest, and their friends and relations, about two miles on their journey. Here the priest repeats his instructions, and tells them where they are to look for the tree. He shews them a hill, which they are told to ascend, and that on the other side they will find a rivulet, which they are to follow, and which will conduct them directly to the Upas. They now take leave of each other; and, amidst prayers for their success, the delinquents hasten away. The worthy old ecclesiastic has assured me, that during his residence there, for upwards of thirty years, he had dismissed above seven hundred criminals in the manner which I have described; and that scarcely two out of twenty have returned. He shewed me a catalogue of all the unhappy sufferers, with the date of their departure from his house annexed; and a list of the offences for which they had been condemned: to which was added, a list of those who had returned in safety. I afterwards saw another list of these culprits, at the jail keeper's at Soura-Charta, and found that they perfectly corresponded with each other, and with the different informations which I afterwards obtained. I was present at some of these melancholy ceremonies, and desired different delinquents to bring with them some pieces of the wood, or a small branch, or some leaves of this wonderful tree. I have also given them silk cords, desiring them to measure its thickness. I never could procure move than two dry leaves that were picked up by one of them on his return; and all I could learn from him, concerning the tree itself, was, that it stood on the border of a rivulet, as described by the old priest; that it was of a middling size; that five or six young trees of the same kind stood close by it; but that no other shrub or plant could be seen near it; and that the ground was of a brownish sand, full of stones, almost impracticable for travelling, and covered with dead bodies. After many conversations with the old Malayan priest, I questioned him about the first discovery, and asked his opinion of this dangerous tree; upon which he gave me the following answer:

"We are told in our new Alcoran, that, above an hundred years ago, the country around the tree was inhabited by a people strongly addicted to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrha; when the great prophet Mahomet determined not to suffer them to lead such detestable lives any longer, he applied to God to punish them: upon which God caused this tree to grow out of the earth, which destroyed them all, and rendered the country for ever uninhabitable."

Such was the Malayan opinion. I shall not attempt a comment; but must observe, that all the Malayans consider this tree as an holy instrument of the great prophet to punish the sins of mankind; and, therefore, to die of the poison of the Upas is generally considered among them as an honourable death. For that reason I also observed, that the delinquents, who were going to the tree, were generally dressed in their best apparel.

This however is certain, though it may appear incredible, that from fifteen to eighteen miles round this tree, not only no human creature can exist, but that, in that space of ground, no living animal of any kind has ever been discovered. I have also been assured by several persons of veracity, that there are no fish in the waters, nor has any rat, mouse, or any other vermin, been seen there; and when any birds fly so near this tree that the effluvia reaches them, they fall a sacrifice to the effects of the poison. This circumstance has been ascertained by different delinquents, who, in their return, have seen the birds drop down, and have picked them up dead, and brought them to the old ecclesiastick.

I will here mention an instance, which proves them a fact beyond all doubt, and which happened during my stay at Java.

In the year 1775 a rebellion broke out among the subjects of the Massay, a sovereign prince, whose dignity is nearly equal to that of the Emperor. They refused to pay a duty imposed upon them by their sovereign, whom they openly opposed. The Massay sent a body of a thousand troops to disperse the rebels, and to drive them, with their families, out of his dominions. Thus four hundred families, consisting of above sixteen hundred souls, were obliged to leave their native country. Neither the Emperor nor the Sultan would give them protection, not only because they were rebels, but also through fear of displeasing their neighbour, the Massay. In this distressful situation, they had no other resource than to repair to the uncultivated parts round the Upas, and requested permission of the Emperor to settle there. Their request was granted, on condition of their fixing their abode not more than twelve or fourteen miles from the tree, in order not to deprive the inhabitants already settled there at a greater distance of their cultivated lands. With this they were obliged to comply; but the consequence was, that in less than two months their number was reduced to about three hundred. The chiefs of those who remained returned to the Massay, informed him of their losses, and intreated his pardon, which induced him to receive them again as subjects, thinking them sufficiently punished for their misconduct. I have seen and conversed with several of those who survived soon after their return. They all had the appearance of persons tainted with an infectious disorder; they looked pale and weak, and from the account which they gave of the loss of their comrades, of the symptoms and circumstances which attended their dissolution, such as convulsions, and other signs of a violent death, I was fully convinced that they fell victims to the poison.

This violent effect of the poison at so great a distance from the tree, certainly appears surprising, and almost incredible; and especially when we consider that it is possible for delinquents who approach the tree to return alive. My wonder, however, in a great measure, ceased, after I had made the following observations:

I have said before, that malefactors are instructed to go to the tree with the wind, and to return against the wind. When the wind continues to blow from the same quarter while the delinquent travels thirty, or six and thirty miles, if he be of a good constitution, he certainly survives. But what proves the most destructive is, that there is no dependence on the wind in that part of the world for any length of time.—There are no regular land-winds; and the sea-wind is not perceived there at all, the situation of the tree being at too great a distance, and surrounded by high mountains and uncultivated forests. Besides, the wind there never blows a fresh regular gale, but is commonly merely a current of light, soft breezes, which pass through the different openings of the adjoining mountains. It is also frequently difficult to determine from what part of the globe the wind really comes, as it is divided by various obstructions in its passage, which easily change the direction of the wind, and often totally destroy its effects.

I, therefore, impute the distant effects of the poison, in a great measure, to the constant gentle winds in those parts, which have not power enough to disperse the poisonous particles. If high winds are more frequent and durable there, they would certainly weaken very much, and even destroy the obnoxious effluvia of the poison; but without them, the air remains infested and pregnant with these poisonous vapours.

I am the more convinced of this, as the worthy ecclesiastick assured me, that a dead calm is always attended with the greatest danger, as there is a continual perspiration issuing from the tree, which is seen to rise and spread in the air, like the putrid steam of a marshy cavern.

Experiments made with the Gum of the UPAS TREE.

In the year 1776, in the month of February, I was present at the execution of thirteen of the Emperor's concubines, at Soura-Charta, who were convicted of infidelity to the Emperor's bed. It was in the forenoon, about eleven o'clock, when the fair criminals were led into an open space within the walls of the Emperor's palace. There the judge passed sentence upon them, by which they are doomed to suffer death by a lancet poisoned with Upas. After this the Alcoran was presented to them, and they were, according to the law of their great prophet Mahomet, to acknowledge and to affirm by oath, that the charges brought against them, together with the sentence and their punishment, were fair and equitable. This they did, by laying their right hand upon the Alcoran, their left hands upon their breast, and their eyes lifted towards heaven; the judge then held the Alcoran to their lips, and they kissed it.

These ceremonies over, the executioner proceeded on his business in the following manner:—Thirteen posts, each about five feet high, had been previously erected. To these the delinquents were fastened, and their breasts stripped naked. In this situation they remained a short time in continual prayers, attended by several priests, until a signal was given by the judge to the executioner; on which the latter produced an instrument, much like the spring lancet used by farriers for bleeding horses. With this instrument, it being poisoned with the gum of the Upas, the unhappy wretches were lanced in the middle of their breasts, and the operation was performed upon them all in less than two minutes.

My astonishment was raised to the highest degree, when I beheld the sudden effects of that poison, for in about five minutes after they were lanced, they were taken with a tremor, attended with a subsultus tendinum, after which they died in the greatest agonies, crying out to God and Mahomet for mercy. In sixteen minutes by my watch, which I held in my hand, all the criminals were no more. Some hours after their death, I observed their bodies full of livid spots, much like those of the Petechiae, their faces swelled, their colour changed to a kind of blue, their eyes looked yellow, &c. &c.

About a fortnight after this, I had an opportunity of seeing such another execution at Samarang. Seven Malayans were executed there with the same instrument, and in the same manner; and I found the operation of the poison, and the spots in their bodies exactly the same.

These circumstances made me desirous to try an experiment with some animals, in order to be convinced of the real effects of this poison; and as I had then two young puppies, I thought them the fittest objects for my purpose. I accordingly procured with great difficulty some grains of Upas. I dissolved half a grain of that gum in a small quantity of arrack, and dipped a lancet into it. With this poisoned instrument I made an incision in the lower muscular part of the belly in one of the puppies. Three minutes after it received the wound the animal began to cry out most piteously, and ran as fast as possible from one corner of the room to the other. So it continued during six minutes, when all its strength being exhausted, it fell upon the ground, was taken with convulsions, and died in the eleventh minute. I repeated this experiment with two other puppies, with a cat, and a fowl, and found the operation of the poison in all of them the same: none of these animals survived above thirteen minutes.

I thought it necessary to try also the effect of the poison given inwardly, which I did in the following manner. I dissolved a quarter of a grain of the gum in half an ounce of arrack, and made a dog of seven months old drink it. In seven minutes a retching ensued, and I observed, at the same time, that the animal was delirious, as it ran up and down the room, fell on the ground, and tumbled about; then it rose again, cried out very loud, and in about half an hour after was seized with convulsions, and died. I opened the body, and found the stomach very much inflamed, as the intestines were in some parts, but not so much as the stomach. There was a small quantity of coagulated blood in the stomach; but I could discover no orifice from which it could have issued; and therefore supposed it to have been squeezed out of the lungs, by the animal's straining while it was vomiting.

From these experiments I have been convinced that the gum of the Upas is the most dangerous and most violent of all vegetable poisons; and I am apt to believe that it greatly contributes to the unhealthiness of that island. Nor is this the only evil attending it: hundreds of the natives of Java, as well as Europeans, are yearly destroyed and treacherously murdered by that poison, either internally or externally. Every man of quality or fashion has his dagger or other arms poisoned with it; and in times of war the Malayans poison the springs and other waters with it; by this treacherous practice the Dutch suffered greatly during the last war, as it occasioned the loss of half their army. For this reason, they have ever since kept fish in the springs of which they drink the water; and sentinels are placed near them, who inspect the waters every hour, to see whether the fish are alive. If they march with an army or body of troops into an enemy's country, they always carry live fish with them, which they throw into the water some hours before they venture to drink it; by which means they have been able to prevent their total destruction.

This account, I flatter myself, will satisfy the curiosity of my readers, and the few facts which I have related will be considered as a certain proof of the exigence of this pernicious tree, and its penetrating effects.

If it be asked why we have not yet any more satisfactory accounts of this tree, I can only answer, that the object to most travellers to that part of the world consists more in commercial pursuits than in the study of Natural History and the advancement of Sciences. Besides, Java is so universally reputed an unhealthy island, that rich travellers seldom make any long stay in it; and others want money, and generally are too ignorant of the language to travel, in order to make enquiries. In future, those who visit this island will probably now be induced to make it an object of their researches, and will furnish us with a fuller description of this tree.

I will therefore only add, that there exists also a sort of Cajoe-Upat on the coast of Macassar, the poison of which operates nearly in the same manner, but is not half so violent or malignant as that of Java, and of which I shall likewise give a more circumstantial account in a description of that island.—London Magazine.



Group of insects—Tender husband—Self-admirer—Rival lovers—Coquet —Platonic wife—Monster-husband—Rural happiness—Clandestine marriage —Sympathetic lovers—Ninon d'Enclos—Harlots—Giants—Mr. Wright's paintings—Thalestris Autumnal scene—Dervise procession—Lady in full dress—Lady on a precipice—Palace in the sea—Vegetable lamb—Whale— Sensibility—Mountain-scene by night—Lady drinking water—Lady and cauldron—Medea and AEson—Forlorn nymph Galatea on the sea—Lady frozen to a statue


Air-balloon of Mongolfier—Arts of weaving and spinning—Arkwright's cotton mills—Invention of letters, figures and crotchets—Mrs. Delany's paper-garden—Mechanism of a watch, and design for its case—Time, hours, moments—Transformation of Nebuchadnazer—St. Anthony preaching to fish Sorceress—Miss Crew's drawing—Song to May—Frost scene—Discovery of the bark—Moses striking the rock—Dropsy—Mr. Howard and prisons


Witch and imps in a church—Inspired Priestess—Fusseli's night-mare—Cave of Thor and subterranean Naiads—Medea and her children—Palmira weeping Group of wild creatures drinking—Poison tree of Java—Time and hours—Lady shot in battle—Wounded deer—Harlots—Laocoon and his sons—Drunkards and diseases—Prometheus and the vulture—Lady burying her child in the plague Moses concealed on the Nile—Slavery of the Africans—Weeping Muse


Maid of night Fairies—Electric lady—Shadrec, Meshec, and Abednego, in the fiery furnace—Shepherdesses—Song to Echo—Kingdom of China—Lady and distaff—Cupid spinning—Lady walking in snow—Children at play—Venus and Loves—Matlock Bath—Angel bathing—Mermaid and Nereids—Lady in salt— Lot's wife—Lady in regimentals—Dejanira in a lion's skin—Offspring from the marriage of the Rose and Nightingale—Parched deserts in Africa— Turkish lady in an undress—Ice-scene in Lapland—Lock-lomond by moon light—Hero and Leander—Gnome-husband and Palace under ground—Lady inclosed in a fig—Sylph-husband—Marine cave—Proteus-lover—Lady on a Dolphin—Lady bridling a Pard—Lady saluted by a Swan—Hymeneal procession —Night


* * * * *

Seeds of Canna used for prayer-beads

Stems and leaves of Callitriche so matted together, as they float on the water, as to bear a person walking on them

The female in Collinsonia approaches first to one of the males, and then to the other

Females in Nigella and Epilobium bend towards the males for some days, and then leave them

The stigma or head of the female in Spartium (common broom) is produced amongst the higher set of males; but when the keal-leaf opens, the pistil suddenly twists round like a French-horn, and places the stigma amidst the lower set of males

The two lower males in Ballota become mature before the two higher; and, when their dust is shed, turn outwards from the female

The plants of the class Two Powers with naked seeds are all aromatic

Of these Marum and Nepeta are delightful to cats

The filaments in Meadia, Borago, Cyclamen, Solanum, &c. shewn by reasoning to be the most unchangeable parts of those flowers

Rudiments of two hinder wings are seen in the class Diptera, or two-winged insects

Teats of male animals

Filaments without anthers in Curcuma, Linum, &c. and styles without stigmas in many plants, shew the advance of the works of nature towards greater perfection

Double flowers, or vegetable monsters, how produced

The calyx and lower series of petals not changed in double flowers

Dispersion of the dust in nettles and other plants

Cedar and Cypress unperishable

Anthoxanthum gives the fragrant scent to hay

Viviparous plants: the Aphis is viviparous in summer, and oviparous in autumn

Irritability of the stamen of the plants of the class Syngenesia, or Confederate males

Some of the males in Lychnis, and other flowers arrive sooner at their maturity

Males approach the female in Gloriosa, Fritillaria, and Kalmia

Contrivances to destroy insects in Silene, Dionaea muscipula, Arum muscivorum, Dypsacus, &c.

Some bell-flowers close at night; others hang the mouths downwards; others nod and turn from the wind; stamens bound down to the pistil in Amaryllis formofissima; pistil is crooked in Hemerocallis flava, yellow day-lily Thorns and prickles designed for the defence of the plant; tall Hollies have no prickles above the reach of cattle

Bird-lime from the bark of Hollies like elastic gum

Adansonia the largest tree known, its dimensions

Bulbous roots contain the embryon flower, seen by dissecting a tulip-root

Flowers of Colchicum and Hamamelis appear in autumn, and ripen their seed in the spring following

Sunflower turns to the sun by nutation, not by gyration

Dispersion of seeds

Drosera catches flies

Of the nectary, its structure to preserve the honey from insects

Curious proboscis of the Sphinx Convolvoli

Final cause of the resemblance of some flowers to insects, as the Bee-orchis

In some plants of the class Tetradynamia, or Four Powers, the two shorter stamens, when at maturity, rise as high as the others

Ice in the caves on Teneriff, which were formerly hollowed by volcanic fires

Some parasites do not injure trees, as Tillandsia and Epidendrum

Mosses growing on trees injure them

Marriages of plants necessary to be celebrated in the air

Insects with legs on their backs

Scarcity of grain in wet seasons

Tartarian lamb; use of down on vegetables; air, glass, wax, and fat, are bad conductors of heat; snow does not moisten the living animals buried in it, illustrated by burning camphor in snow

Of the collapse of the sensitive plant

Birds of passage

The acquired habits of plants

Irritability of plants increased by previous exposure to cold

Lichen produces the first vegetation on rocks

Plants holding water

Madder colours the bones of young animals

Colours of animals serve to conceal them

Warm bathing retards old age

Male flowers of Vallisneria detach themselves from the plant, and float to the female ones

Air in the cells of plants, its various uses

How Mr. Day probably lost his life in his diving-ship

Air-bladders of fish

Star-gelly is voided by Herons

Intoxicating mushrooms

Mushrooms grow without light, and approach to animal nature

Seeds of Tillandsia fly on long threads, like spiders on the gossamer

Account of cotton mills

Invention of letters, figures, crotchets

Mrs. Delany's and Mrs. North's paper-gardens

The horologe of Flora

The white petals of Helleborus niger become first red, and then change into a green calyx

Berries of Menispernum intoxicate fish

Effects of opium

Frontispiece by Miss Crewe

Petals of Cistus and Oenanthe continue but a few hours

Method of collecting the gum from Cistus by leathern throngs

Discovery of the Bark

Foxglove how used in Dropsies

Bishop of Marseilles, and Lord Mayor of London

Superstitious uses of plants, the divining rod, animal magnetism

Intoxication of the Pythian Priestess, poison from Laurel-leaves, and from cherry-kernels

Sleep consists in the abolition of voluntary power; nightmare explained

Indian fig emits slender cords from its summit

Cave of Thor in Derbyshire, and sub-terraneous rivers explained

The capsule of the Geranium makes a hygrometer; Barley creeps out of a barn Mr. Edgeworth's creeping hygrometer

Flower of Fraxinella flashes on the approach of a candle

Essential oils narcotic, poisonous, deleterious to insects

Dew-drops from Mancinella blister the skin

Uses of poisonous juices in the vegetable economy

The fragrance of plants a part of their defence

The sting and poison of a nettle

Vapour from Lobelia suffocative; unwholesomness of perfumed hair-powder

Ruins of Palmira

The poison-tree of Java

Tulip roots die annually

Hyacinth and Ranunculus roots

Vegetable contest for air and light

Some voluble stems turn E.S.W. and others W.S.E.

Tops of white Bryony as grateful as asparagus

Fermentation converts sugar into spirit, food into poison

Fable of Prometheus applied to dram-drinkers

Cyclamen buries its seeds and trifolium subterraneum

Pits dug to receive the dead in the plague

Lakes of America consist of fresh water

The seeds of Cassia and some others are carried from America, and thrown on the coasts of Norway and Scotland

Of the gulf-stream

Wonderful change predicted in the gulph of Mexico

In the flowers of Cactus grandiflorus and Cistus some of the stamens are perpetually bent to the pistil

Nyctanthes and others are only fragrant in the night; Cucurbita lagenaria closes when the sun shines on it

Tropeolum, nasturtian, emits sparks in the twilight

Nectary on its calyx

Phosphorescent lights in the evening

Hot embers eaten by bull-frogs

Long filaments of grasses, the cause of bad seed-wheat

Chinese hemp grew in England above 14 feet in five months

Roots of snow-drop and hyacinth insipid like orchis

Orchis will ripen its seeds if the new bulb be cut off

Proliferous flowers

The wax on the candle-berry myrtle said to be made by insects

The warm springs of matlock produced by the condensation of steam raised from great depths by subterranean fires

Air separated from water by the attraction of points to water being less than that of the particles of water to each other

Minute division of sub-aquatic leaves

Water-cress and other aquatic plants inhabit all climates

Butomus esculent; Lotus of Egypt; Nymphaea

Ocymum covered with salt every night

Salt a remote cause of scrophula, and immediate cause of sea-scurvy

Coloured spatha of Arum, and blotched leaves, if they serve the purpose of a coloured petal

Tulip-roots with a red cuticle produce red flowers

Of vegetable mules the internal parts, at those of fructification, resemble the female parent; and the external parts, the male one

The same occurs in animal mules, as the common mule and the hinnus, and in sheep

The wind called Harmattan from volcanic eruptions; some epidemic coughs or influenza have the same origin

Fish killed in the sea by dry summers in Asia

Hedysarum gyrans perpetually moves its leaves like the respiration of animals

Plants possess a voluntary power of motion Loud cracks from ice-mountains explained

Muschus corallinus vegetates below the snow, where the heat is always about 40.

Quick growth of vegetables in northern latitudes after the solution of the snows explained

The Rail sleeps in the snow

Conserva aegagropila rolls about the bottom of lakes

Lycoperdon tuber, truffle, requires no light

Account of caprification

Figs wounded with a straw, and pears and plumbs wounded by insects ripen sooner, and become sweeter

Female figs closed on all sides, supposed to be monsters

Basaltic columns produced by volcanoes shewn by their form

Byssus floats on the sea in the day, and sinks in the night

Conserva polymorpha twice changes its colour and its form

Some seed-vessels and seeds resemble insects

Individuality of flowers not destroyed by the number of males or females which they contain

Trees are swarms of buds, which are individuals


Adonis Aegragropila Alcea Amaryllis Anemone Anthoxanthum Arum Avena

Barometz Bellis Byssus

Cactus Calendula Callitriche Canna Cannabis Capri-ficus Carlina Caryophyllus Caffia Cereus Chondrilla Chunda Cinchona Circaea Cistus Cocculus Colchicum Collinsonia Conserva Cupressus Curcuma Cuscuta Cyclamen Cyperus

Dianthus Dictamnus Digitalis Dodecatheon Draba Drosera Dypsacus

Ficus Fucus Fraxinella

Galanthus Genista Gloriosa Gossypium

Hedysarum Helianthus Helleborus Hippomane Ilex Impatiens Iris


Lapsana Lauro-cerasus Lichen Linum Lobelia Lonicera Lychnis Lycoperdon

Mancinella Meadia Melissa Menispermum Mimosa Muschus


Ocymum Orchis Osmunda Osyris

Papaver Papyrus Plantago Polymorpha Polypodium Prunus



Trapa Tremella Tropaeolum Truffelia Tulipa

Ulva Upas Urtica

Vallisneria Viscum Vitis


* * * * *



Please to place the print of Flora and Cupid opposite to the Title-page.

The two prints of flowers in small compartments both facing the last page of the Preface.

The print of Meadia opposite to p. 6.

Gloriosa opposite p. 14.

Dionaea p. 16.

Amaryllis p. 17.

Vallisneria p. 40.

Hedysarum p. 172.

Apocynum p. 185.

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