The Botanic Garden A Poem in Two Parts. Part 1: The Economy of Vegetation: Canto IV.

A poem by Erasmus Darwin

Argument of the Fourth Canto.

Address to the Sylphs. I. Trade-winds. Monsoons. N.E. and S.W. winds. Land and sea breezes. Irregular winds. 9. II. Production of vital air from oxygene and light. The marriage of Cupid and Psyche. 25. III. 1. Syroc. Simoom. Tornado. 63. 2. Fog. Contagion. Story of Thyrsis and Aegle. Love and Death. 79. IV. 1. Barometer. Air-pump. 127. 2. Air- balloon of Mongulfier. Death of Rozier. Icarus. 143. V. Discoveries of Dr. Priestley. Evolutions and combinations of pure air. Rape of Proserpine. 165. VI. Sea-balloons, or houses constructed to move under the sea. Death of Mr. Day. Of Mr. Spalding. Of Captain Pierce and his Daughters. 195. VII. Sylphs of music. Cecelia singing. Cupid with a lyre riding upon a lion. 233. VIII. Destruction of Senacherib's army by a pestilential wind. Shadow of Death. 263. IX. 1. Wish to possess the secret of changing the course of the winds. 305. 2. Monster devouring air subdued by Mr. Kirwan. 321. X. 1. Seeds suspended in their pods. Stars discovered by Mr. Herschel. Destruction and resuscitation of all things. 351. 2. Seeds within seeds, and bulbs within bulbs. Picture on the retina of the eye. Concentric strata of the earth. The great seed. 381. 3. The root, pith, lobes, plume, calyx, coral, sap, blood, leaves respire and absorb light. The crocodile in its egg. 409. XI. Opening of the flower. The petals, style, anthers, prolific dust. Transmutation of the silkworm. 441. XII. 1. Leaf-buds changed into flower-buds by wounding the bark, or strangulating a part of the branch. 461. 2. Ingrafting. Aaron's rod pullulates. 477. XIII. 1. Insects on trees. Humming-bird alarmed by the spider-like apearance of Cyprepedia. 491. 2. Diseases of vegetables. Scratch on unnealed glass. 511. XIV. 1. Tender flowers. Amaryllis, fritillary, erythrina, mimosa, cerea. 523. 2. Vines. Oranges. Diana's trees. Kew garden. The royal family. 541. XV. Offering to Hygeia. 587. Departure of the Goddess. 629.


The Botanic Garden A Poem in Two Parts. Part 1: The Economy of Vegetation: Canto IV.

As when at noon in Hybla's fragrant bowers
CACALIA opens all her honey'd flowers;
Contending swarms on bending branches cling,
And nations hover on aurelian wing;
5 So round the GODDESS, ere she speaks, on high
Impatient SYLPHS in gawdy circlets fly;
Quivering in air their painted plumes expand,
And coloured shadows dance upon the land.

[Cacalia opens. l. 2. The importance of the nectarium or honey-gland in the vegetable economy is seen from the very complicated apparatus, which nature has formed in some flowers for the preservation of their honey from insects, as in the aconites or monkshoods; in other plants instead of a great apparatus for its protection a greater secretion of it is produced that thence a part may be spared to the depredation of insects. The cacalia suaveolens produces so much honey that on some days it may be smelt at a great distance from the plant. I remember once counting on one of these plants besides bees of various kinds without number, above two hundred painted butterflies, which gave it the beautiful appearance of being covered with additional flowers.]

I. "SYLPHS! YOUR light troops the tropic Winds confine,
10 And guide their streaming arrows to the Line;
While in warm floods ecliptic breezes rise,
And sink with wings benumb'd in colder skies.
You bid Monsoons on Indian seas reside,
And veer, as moves the sun, their airy tide;
15 While southern gales o'er western oceans roll,
And Eurus steals his ice-winds from the Pole.
Your playful trains, on sultry islands born,
Turn on fantastic toe at eve and morn;
With soft susurrant voice alternate sweep
20 Earth's green pavilions and encircling deep.
OR in itinerant cohorts, borne sublime
On tides of ether, float from clime to clime;
O'er waving Autumn bend your airy ring,
Or waft the fragrant bosom of the Spring.

[The tropic winds. l. 9. See additional notes, No. XXXIII.]

25 II. "When Morn, escorted by the dancing Hours,
O'er the bright plains her dewy lustre showers;
Till from her sable chariot Eve serene
Drops the dark curtain o'er the brilliant scene;
You form with chemic hands the airy surge,
30 Mix with broad vans, with shadowy tridents urge.
SYLPHS! from each sun-bright leaf, that twinkling shakes
O'er Earth's green lap, or shoots amid her lakes,
Your playful bands with simpering lips invite,
And wed the enamour'd OXYGENE to LIGHT.--
35 Round their white necks with fingers interwove,
Cling the fond Pair with unabating love;
Hand link'd in hand on buoyant step they rise,
And soar and glisten in unclouded skies.
Whence in bright floods the VITAL AIR expands,
40 And with concentric spheres involves the lands;
Pervades the swarming seas, and heaving earths,
Where teeming Nature broods her myriad births;
Fills the fine lungs of all that breathe or bud,
Warms the new heart, and dyes the gushing blood;
45 With Life's first spark inspires the organic frame,
And, as it wastes, renews the subtile flame.

[The enamour'd oxygene. l. 34. The common air of the atmosphere appears by the analysis of Dr. Priestley and other philosophers to consist of about three parts of an elastic fluid unfit for respiration or combustion, called azote by the French school, and about one fourth of pure vital air fit for the support of animal life and of combustion, called oxygene. The principal source of the azote is probably from the decomposition of all vegetable and animal matters by putrefaction and combustion; the principal source of vital air or oxygene is perhaps from the decomposition of water in the organs of vegetables by means of the sun's light. The difficulty of injecting vegetable vessels seems to shew that their perspirative pores are much less than those of animals, and that the water which constitutes their perspiration is so divided at the time of its exclusion that by means of the sun's light it becomes decomposed, the inflammable air or hydrogene, which is one of its constituent parts, being retained to form the oil, resin, wax, honey, &c. of the vegetable economy; and the other part, which united with light or heat becomes vital air or oxygene gas, rises into the atmosphere and replenishes it with the food of life.

Dr. Priestley has evinced by very ingenious experiments that the blood gives out phlogiston, and receives vital air, or oxygene-gas by the lungs. And Dr. Crawford has shewn that the blood acquires heat from this vital air in respiration. There is however still a something more subtil than heat, which must be obtained in respiration from the vital air, a something which life can not exist a few minutes without, which seems necessary to the vegetable as well as to the animal world, and which as no organized vessels can confine it, requires perpetually to be renewed. See note on Canto I. l. 401.]

"So pure, so soft, with sweet attraction shone
Fair PSYCHE, kneeling at the ethereal throne;
Won with coy smiles the admiring court of Jove,
50 And warm'd the bosom of unconquer'd LOVE.--
Beneath a moving shade of fruits and flowers
Onward they march to HYMEN'S sacred bowers;
With lifted torch he lights the festive train,
Sublime, and leads them in his golden chain;
55 Joins the fond pair, indulgent to their vows,
And hides with mystic veil their blushing brows.
Round their fair forms their mingling arms they fling,
Meet with warm lip, and clasp with rustling wing.--
--Hence plastic Nature, as Oblivion whelms
60 Her fading forms, repeoples all her realms;
Soft Joys disport on purple plumes unfurl'd,
And Love and Beauty rule the willing world.

[Fair Psyche. l. 48. Described from an antient gem on a fine onyx in possession of the Duke of Marlborough, of which there is a beautiful print in Bryant's Mythol. Vol II. p. 392. And from another antient gem of Cupid and Psyche embracing, of which there is a print in Spence's Polymetis. p. 82.]

[Repeoples all her realms. l. 60.

Quae mare navigerum et terras frugiferentes
Concelebras; per te quoniam genus omne animantum
Concipitur, visitque exortum lumina folis. - Lucret.]

III. 1. "SYLPHS! Your bold myriads on the withering heath
Stay the fell SYROC'S suffocative breath;
65 Arrest SIMOOM in his realms of sand,
The poisoned javelin balanced in his hand;--
Fierce on blue streams he rides the tainted air,
Points his keen eye, and waves his whistling hair;
While, as he turns, the undulating soil
70 Rolls in red waves, and billowy deserts boil.

[Arrest Simoom. l. 65. "At eleven o'clock while we were with great pleasure contemplating the rugged tops of Chiggre, where we expected to solace ourselves with plenty of good water, Idris cried out with a loud voice, "fall upon your faces, for here is the simoom!" I saw from the S.E. a haze come in colour like the purple part of a rainbow, but not so compressed or thick; it did not occupy twenty yards in breadth, and was about twelve feet high from the ground. It was a kind of a blush upon the air, and it moved very rapidly, for I scarce could turn to fall upon the ground with my head to the northward, when I felt the heat of its current plainly upon my face. We all lay flat upon the ground, as if dead, till Idris told us it was blown over. The meteor, or purple haze, which I saw was indeed passed; but the light air that still blew was of heat to threaten suffocation. For my part I found distinctly in my breast, that I had imbibed a part of it; nor was I free of an asthmatic sensation till I had been some months in Italy." Bruce's Travels. Vol. IV. p. 557.

It is difficult to account for the narrow track of this pestilential wind, which is said not to exceed twenty yards, and for its small elevation of twelve feet. A whirlwind will pass forwards, and throw down an avenue of trees by its quick revolution as it passes, but nothing like a whirling is described as happening in these narrow streams of air, and whirlwinds ascend to greater heights. There seems but one known manner in which this channel of air could be effected, and that is by electricity.

The volcanic origin of these winds is mentioned in the note on Chunda in Vol. II. of this work; it must here be added, that Professor Vairo at Naples found, that during the eruption of Vesuvius perpendicular iron bars were electric; and others have observed suffocating damps to attend these eruptions. Ferber's Travels in Italy, p. 133. And lastly, that a current of air attends the passage of electric matter, as is seen in presenting an electrized point to the flame of a candle. In Mr. Bruce's account of this simoom, it was in its course over a quite dry desert of sand, (and which was in consequence unable to conduct an electric stream into the earth beneath it,) to some moist rocks at but a few miles distance; and thence would appear to be a stream of electricity from a volcano attended with noxious air; and as the bodies of Mr. Bruce and his attendants were insulated on the sand, they would not be sensible of their increased electricity, as it passed over them; to which it may be added, that a sulphurous or suffocating sensation is said to accompany flames of lightning, and even strong sparks of artificial electricity. In the above account of the simoom, a great redness in the air is said to be a certain sign of its approach, which may be occasioned by the eruption of flame from a distant volcano in these extensive and impenetrable deserts of sand. See Note on l. 294 of this Canto.]

You seize TORNADO by his locks of mist,
Burst his dense clouds, his wheeling spires untwist;
Wide o'er the West when borne on headlong gales,
Dark as meridian night, the Monster sails,
75 Howls high in air, and shakes his curled brow,
Lashing with serpent-train the waves below,
Whirls his black arm, the forked lightning flings,
And showers a deluge from his demon-wings.

[Tornado's. l. 71. See additional notes, No. XXXIII.]

2. "SYLPHS! with light shafts YOU pierce the drowsy FOG,
80 That lingering slumbers on the sedge-wove bog,
With webbed feet o'er midnight meadows creeps,
Or flings his hairy limbs on stagnant deeps.
YOU meet CONTAGION issuing from afar,
And dash the baleful conqueror from his car;
85 When, Guest of DEATH! from charnel vaults he steals,
And bathes in human gore his armed wheels.

[On stagnant deeps. l. 82. All contagious miasmata originate either from animal bodies, as those of the small pox, or from putrid morasses; these latter produce agues in the colder climates, and malignant fevers in the warmer ones. The volcanic vapours which cause epidemic coughs, are to be ranked amongst poisons, rather than amongst the miasmata, which produce contagious diseases.]

"Thus when the PLAGUE, upborne on Belgian air,
Look'd through the mist and shook his clotted hair,
O'er shrinking nations steer'd malignant clouds,
90 And rain'd destruction on the gasping crouds.
The beauteous AEGLE felt the venom'd dart,
Slow roll'd her eye, and feebly throbb'd her heart;
Each fervid sigh seem'd shorter than the last,
And starting Friendship shunn'd her, as she pass'd.
95 --With weak unsteady step the fainting Maid
Seeks the cold garden's solitary shade,
Sinks on the pillowy moss her drooping head,
And prints with lifeless limbs her leafy bed.
--On wings of Love her plighted Swain pursues,
100 Shades her from winds, and shelters her from dews,
Extends on tapering poles the canvas roof,
Spreads o'er the straw-wove matt the flaxen woof,
Sweet buds and blossoms on her bolster strows,
And binds his kerchief round her aching brows;
105 Sooths with soft kiss, with tender accents charms,
And clasps the bright Infection in his arms.--
With pale and languid smiles the grateful Fair
Applauds his virtues, and rewards his care;
Mourns with wet cheek her fair companions fled
110 On timorous step, or number'd with the dead;
Calls to its bosom all its scatter'd rays,
And pours on THYRSIS the collected blaze;
Braves the chill night, caressing and caress'd,
And folds her Hero-lover to her breast.--
115 Less bold, LEANDER at the dusky hour
Eyed, as he swam, the far love-lighted tower;
Breasted with struggling arms the tossing wave,
And sunk benighted in the watery grave.
Less bold, TOBIAS claim'd the nuptial bed,
120 Where seven fond Lovers by a Fiend had bled;
And drove, instructed by his Angel-Guide,
The enamour'd Demon from the fatal bride.--
--SYLPHS! while your winnowing pinions fan'd the air,
And shed gay visions o'er the sleeping pair;
125 LOVE round their couch effused his rosy breath,
And with his keener arrows conquer'd DEATH.

[The beauteous Aegle. l. 91. When the plague raged in Holland in 1636, a young girl was seized with it, had three carbuncles, and was removed to a garden, where her lover, who was betrothed to her, attended her as a nurse, and slept with her as his wife. He remained uninfected, and she recovered, and was married to him. The story is related by Vinc. Fabricius in the Misc. Cur. Ann. II. Obs. 188.]

IV. 1. "You charm'd, indulgent SYLPHS! their learned toil,
And crown'd with fame your TORRICELL, and BOYLE;
Taught with sweet smiles, responsive to their prayer,
130 The spring and pressure of the viewless air.
--How up exhausted tubes bright currents flow
Of liquid silver from the lake below,
Weigh the long column of the incumbent skies,
And with the changeful moment fall and rise.
135 --How, as in brazen pumps the pistons move,
The membrane-valve sustains the weight above;
Stroke follows stroke, the gelid vapour falls,
And misty dew-drops dim the crystal walls;
Rare and more rare expands the fluid thin,
140 And Silence dwells with Vacancy within.--
So in the mighty Void with grim delight
Primeval Silence reign'd with ancient Night.

[Torricell and Boyle. l. 128. The pressure of the atmosphere was discovered by Torricelli, a disciple of Galileo, who had previously found that the air had weight. Dr. Hook and M. Du Hamel ascribe the invention of the air-pump to Mr. Boyle, who however confesses he had some hints concerning its construction from De Guerick. The vacancy at the summit of the barometer is termed the Torricellian vacuum, and the exhausted receiver of an air pump the Boylean vacuum, in honour of these two philosophers.

The mist and descending dew which appear at first exhausting the receiver of an air-pump, are explained in the Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXVIII. from the cold produced by the expansion of air. For a thermometer placed in the receiver sinks some degrees, and in a very little time, as soon as a sufficient quantity of heat can be acquired from the surrounding bodies, the dew becomes again taken up. See additional notes, No. VII. Mr. Saussure observed on placing his hygrometer in a receiver of an air- pump, that though on beginning to exhaust it the air became misty, and parted with its moisture, yet the hair of his hygrometer contracted, and the instrument pointed to greater dryness. This unexpected occurrence is explained by M. Monge (Annales de Chymie, Tom. V.) to depend on the want of the usual pressure of the atmosphere to force the aqueous particles into the pores of the hair; and M. Saussure supposes, that his vesicular vapour requires more time to be redissolved, than is necessary to dry the hair of his thermometer. Essais sur l'Hygrom. p. 226. but I suspect there is a less hypothetical way of understanding it; when a colder body is brought into warm and moist air, (as a bottle of spring-water for instance,) a steam is quickly collected on its surface; the contrary occurs when a warmer body is brought into cold and damp air, it continues free from dew so long as it continues warm; for it warms the atmosphere around it, and renders it capable of receiving instead of parting with moisture. The moment the air becomes rarefied in the receiver of the air-pump it becomes colder, as appears by the thermometer, and deposits its vapour; but the hair of Mr. Saussure's hygrometer is now warmer than the air in which it is immersed, and in consequence becomes dryer than before, by warming the air which immediately surrounds it, a part of its moisture evaporating along with its heat.]

2. "SYLPHS! your soft voices, whispering from the skies,
Bade from low earth the bold MONGULFIER rise;
145 Outstretch'd his buoyant ball with airy spring,
And bore the Sage on levity of wing;--
Where were ye, SYLPHS! when on the ethereal main
Young ROSIERE launch'd, and call'd your aid in vain?
Fair mounts the light balloon, by Zephyr driven,
150 Parts the thin clouds, and sails along the heaven;
Higher and yet higher the expanding bubble flies,
Lights with quick flash, and bursts amid the skies.--
Headlong He rushes through the affrighted air
With limbs distorted, and dishevel'd hair,
155 Whirls round and round, the flying croud alarms,
And DEATH receives him in his sable arms!--
So erst with melting wax and loosen'd strings
Sunk hapless ICARUS on unfaithful wings;
His scatter'd plumage danced upon the wave,
160 And sorrowing Mermaids deck'd his watery grave;
O'er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed,
And strew'd with crimson moss his marble bed;
Struck in their coral towers the pausing bell,
And wide in ocean toll'd his echoing knell.

[Young Rosiere launch'd. l. 148. M. Pilatre du Rosiere with a M. Romain rose in a balloon from Boulogne in June 1785, and after having been about a mile high for about half an hour the balloon took fire, and the two adventurers were dashed to pieces on their fall to the ground. Mr. Rosiere was a philosopher of great talents and activity, joined with such urbanity and elegance of manners, as conciliated the affections of his acquaintance and rendered his misfortune universally lamented. Annual Register for 1784 and 1785, p. 329.]

[And wide in ocean. l. 164. Denser bodies propagate vibration or sound better than rarer ones; if two stones be struck together under the water, they may be heard a mile or two by any one whose head is immersed at that distance, according to an experiment of Dr. Franklin. If the ear be applied to one end of a long beam of timber, the stroke of a pin at the other end becomes sensible; if a poker be suspended in the middle of a garter, each end of which is pressed against the ear, the least percussions on the poker give great sounds. And I am informed by laying the ear on the ground the tread of a horse may be discerned at a great distance in the night. The organs of hearing belonging to fish are for this reason much less complicated than of quadrupeds, as the fluid they are immersed in so much better conveys its vibrations. And it is probable that some shell-fish which have twisted shells like the cochlea and semicircular canals of the ears of men and quadrupeds may have no appropriated organ for perceiving the vibrations of the element they live in, but may by their spiral form be in a manner all ear.]

165 V. "SYLPHS! YOU, retiring to sequester'd bowers,
Where oft your PRIESTLEY woos your airy powers,
On noiseless step or quivering pinion glide,
As sits the Sage with Science by his side;
To his charm'd eye in gay undress appear,
170 Or pour your secrets on his raptured ear.
How nitrous Gas from iron ingots driven
Drinks with red lips the purest breath of heaven;
How, while Conferva from its tender hair
Gives in bright bubbles empyrean air;
175 The crystal floods phlogistic ores calcine,
And the pure ETHER marries with the MINE.

[Where oft your Priestley. l. 166. The fame of Dr. Priestley is known in every part of the earth where science has penetrated. His various discoveries respecting the analysis of the atmosphere, and the production of variety of new airs or gasses, can only be clearly understood by reading his Experiments on Airs, (3 vols. octavo, Johnson, London.) the following are amongst his many discoveries. 1. The discovery of nitrous and dephlogisticated airs. 2. The exhibition of the acids and alkalies in the form of air. 3. Ascertaining the purity of respirable air by nitrous air. 4. The restoration of vitiated air by vegetation. 5. The influence of light to enable vegetables to yield pure air. 6. The conversion by means of light of animal and vegetable substances, that would otherwise become putrid and offensive, into nourishment of vegetables. 7. The use of respiration by the blood parting with phlogiston, and imbibing dephlogisticated air.

The experiments here alluded to are, 1. Concerning the production of nitrous gas from dissolving iron and many other metals in nitrous acid, which though first discovered by Dr. Hales (Static. Ess. Vol. I. p. 224) was fully investigated, and applied to the important purpose of distinguishing the purity of atmospheric air by Dr. Priestley. When about two measures of common air and one of nitrous gas are mixed together a red effervescence takes place, and the two airs occupy about one fourth less space than was previously occupied by the common air alone.

2. Concerning the green substance which grows at the bottom of reservoirs of water, which Dr. Priestley discovered to yield much pure air when the sun shone on it. His method of collecting this air is by placing over the green substance, which he believes to be a vegetable of the genus conferva, an inverted bell-glass previously filled with water, which subsides as the air arises; it has since been found that all vegetables give up pure air from their leaves, when the sun shines upon them, but not in the night, which may be owing to the sleep of the plant.

3. The third refers to the great quantity of pure air contained in the calces of metals. The calces were long known to weigh much more than the metallic bodies before calcination, insomuch that 100 pounds of lead will produce 112 pounds of minium; the ore of manganese, which is always found near the surface of the earth, is replete with pure air, which is now used for the purpose of bleaching. Other metals when exposed to the atmosphere attract the pure air from it, and become calces by its combination, as zinc, lead, iron; and increase in weight in proportion to the air, which they imbibe.]

"So in Sicilia's ever-blooming shade
When playful PROSERPINE from CERES stray'd,
Led with unwary step her virgin trains
180 O'er Etna's steeps, and Enna's golden plains;
Pluck'd with fair hand the silver-blossom'd bower,
And purpled mead,--herself a fairer flower;
Sudden, unseen amid the twilight glade,
Rush'd gloomy DIS, and seized the trembling maid.--
185 Her starting damsels sprung from mossy seats,
Dropp'd from their gauzy laps the gather'd sweets,
Clung round the struggling Nymph, with piercing cries,
Pursued the chariot, and invoked the skies;--
Pleased as he grasps her in his iron arms,
190 Frights with soft sighs, with tender words alarms,
The wheels descending roll'd in smoky rings,
Infernal Cupids flapp'd their demon wings;
Earth with deep yawn received the Fair, amaz'd,
And far in Night celestial Beauty blaz'd.

[When playful Proserpine. l. 178. The fable of Proserpine's being seized by Pluto as she was gathering flowers, is explained by Lord Bacon to signify the combination or marriage of etherial spirit with earthly materials. Bacon's Works, Vol. V. p. 470. edit. 4to. Lond. 1778. This allusion is still more curiously exact, from the late discovery of pure air being given up from vegetables, and that then in its unmixed state it more readily combines with metallic or inflammable bodies. From these fables which were probably taken from antient hieroglyphics there is frequently reason to believe that the Egyptians possessed much chemical knowledge, which for want of alphabetical writing perished with their philosophers.]

195 VI. "Led by the Sage, Lo! Britain's sons shall guide
Huge SEA-BALLOONS beneath the tossing tide;
The diving castles, roof'd with spheric glass,
Ribb'd with strong oak, and barr'd with bolts of brass,
Buoy'd with pure air shall endless tracks pursue,
200 And PRIESTLEY'S hand the vital flood renew.--
Then shall BRITANNIA rule the wealthy realms,
Which Ocean's wide insatiate wave o'erwhelms;
Confine in netted bowers his scaly flocks,
Part his blue plains, and people all his rocks.
205 Deep, in warm waves beneath the Line that roll,
Beneath the shadowy ice-isles of the Pole,
Onward, through bright meandering vales, afar,
Obedient Sharks shall trail her sceptred car,
With harness'd necks the pearly flood disturb,
210 Stretch the silk rein, and champ the silver curb;
Pleased round her triumph wondering Tritons play,
And Seamaids hail her on the watery way.
--Oft shall she weep beneath the crystal waves
O'er shipwreck'd lovers weltering in their graves;
215 Mingling in death the Brave and Good behold
With slaves to glory, and with slaves to gold;
Shrin'd in the deep shall DAY and SPALDING mourn,
Each in his treacherous bell, sepulchral urn!--
Oft o'er thy lovely daughters, hapless PIERCE!
220 Her sighs shall breathe, her sorrows dew their hearse.--
With brow upturn'd to Heaven, "WE WILL NOT PART!"
He cried, and clasp'd them to his aching heart,--
--Dash'd in dread conflict on the rocky grounds,
Crash the mock'd masts, the staggering wreck rebounds;
225 Through gaping seams the rushing deluge swims,
Chills their pale bosoms, bathes their shuddering limbs,
Climbs their white shoulders, buoys their streaming hair,
And the last sea-shriek bellows in the air.--
Each with loud sobs her tender sire caress'd,
230 And gasping strain'd him closer to her breast!--
--Stretch'd on one bier they sleep beneath the brine,
And their white bones with ivory arms intwine!

[Led by the Sage. l. 195. Dr. Priestley's discovery of the production of pure air from such variety of substances will probably soon be applied to the improvement of the diving bell, as the substances which contain vital air in immense quantities are of little value as manganese and minium. See additional notes, No. XXXIII. In every hundred weight of minium there is combined about twelve pounds of pure air, now as sixty pounds of water are about a cubic foot, and as air is eight hundred times lighter than water, five hundred weight of minium will produce eight hundred cubic feet of air or about six thousand gallons. Now, as this is at least thrice as pure as atmospheric air, a gallon of it may be supposed to serve for three minutes respiration for one man. At present the air can not be set at liberty from minium by vitriolic acid without the application of some heat, this is however very likely soon to be discovered, and will then enable adventurers to journey beneath the ocean in large inverted ships or diving balloons.

Mr. Boyle relates, that Cornelius Drebelle contrived not only a vessel to be rowed under water, but also a liquor to be caried in that vessel, which would supply the want of fresh air. The vessel was made by order of James I. and carried twelve rowers besides passengers. It was tried in the river Thames, and one of the persons who was in that submarine voyage told the particulars of the experiments to a person who related them to Mr. Boyle. Annual Register for 1774, p. 248.]

[Day and Spalding mourn. l. 217. Mr. Day perished in a diving bell, or diving boat, of his own construction at Plymouth in June 1774, in which he was to have continued for a wager twelve hours one hundred feet deep in water, and probably perished from his not possessing all the hydrostatic knowledge that was necessary. See note on Ulva, Vol. II. of this work. See Annual Register for 1774. p. 245.

Mr. Spalding was professionally ingenious in the art of constructing and managing the diving bell, and had practised the business many years with success. He went down accompanied by one of his young men twice to view the wreck of the Imperial East-Indiaman at the Kish bank in Ireland. On descending the third time in June, 1783, they remained about an hour under water, and had two barrels of air sent down to them, but on the signals from below not being again repeated, after a certain time, they were drawn up by their assistants and both found dead in the bell. Annual Register for 1783, p. 206. These two unhappy events may for a time check the ardor of adventurers in traversing the bottom of the ocean, but it is probable in another half century it may be safer to travel under the ocean than over it, since Dr. Priestley's discovery of procuring pure air in such great abundance from the calces of metals.]

[Hapless Pierce! l, 219. The Haslewell East-Indiaman, outward bound, was wrecked off Seacomb in the isle of Purbec on the 6th of January, 1786; when Capt. Pierce, the commander, with two young ladies, his daughters, and the greatest part of the crew and passengers perished in the sea. Some of the officers and about seventy seamen escaped with great difficulty on the rocks, but Capt. Pierce finding it was impossible to save the lives of the young ladies refused to quit the ship, and perished with them.]

"VII. SYLPHS OF NICE EAR! with beating wings you guide
The fine vibrations of the aerial tide;
235 Join in sweet cadences the measured words,
Or stretch and modulate the trembling cords.
You strung to melody the Grecian lyre,
Breathed the rapt song, and fan'd the thought of fire,
Or brought in combinations, deep and clear,
240 Immortal harmony to HANDEL'S ear.--
YOU with soft breath attune the vernal gale,
When breezy evening broods the listening vale;
Or wake the loud tumultuous sounds, that dwell
In Echo's many-toned diurnal shell.
245 YOU melt in dulcet chords, when Zephyr rings
The Eolian Harp, and mingle all its strings;
Or trill in air the soft symphonious chime,
When rapt CECILIA lifts her eye sublime,
Swell, as she breathes, her bosoms rising snow,
250 O'er her white teeth in tuneful accents slow,
Through her fair lips on whispering pinions move,
And form the tender sighs, that kindle love!

"So playful LOVE on Ida's flowery sides
With ribbon-rein the indignant Lion guides;
255 Pleased on his brinded back the lyre he rings,
And shakes delirious rapture from the strings;
Slow as the pausing Monarch stalks along,
Sheaths his retractile claws, and drinks the song;
Soft Nymphs on timid step the triumph view,
260 And listening Fawns with beating hoofs pursue;
With pointed ears the alarmed forest starts,
And Love and Music soften savage hearts.

[Indignant lion guides. l. 254. Described from an antient gem, expressive of the combined power of love and music, in the Museum Florent.]

VIII. "SYLPHS! YOUR bold hosts, when Heaven with justice dread
Calls the red tempest round the guilty head,
265 Fierce at his nod assume vindictive forms,
And launch from airy cars the vollied storms.--
From Ashur's vales when proud SENACHERIB trod,
Pour'd his swoln heart, defied the living GOD,
Urged with incessant shouts his glittering powers;
270 And JUDAH shook through all her massy towers;
Round her sad altars press'd the prostrate crowd,
Hosts beat their breasts, and suppliant chieftains bow'd;
Loud shrieks of matrons thrill'd the troubled air,
And trembling virgins rent their scatter'd hair;
275 High in the midst the kneeling King adored,
Spread the blaspheming scroll before the Lord,
Raised his pale hands, and breathed his pausing sighs,
And fixed on Heaven his dim imploring eyes,--
"Oh! MIGHTY GOD! amidst thy Seraph-throng
280 "Who sit'st sublime, the Judge of Right and Wrong;
"Thine the wide earth, bright sun, and starry zone,
"That twinkling journey round thy golden throne;
"Thine is the crystal source of life and light,
"And thine the realms of Death's eternal night.
285 "Oh, bend thine ear, thy gracious eye incline,
"Lo! Ashur's King blasphemes thy holy shrine,
"Insults our offerings, and derides our vows,---
"Oh! strike the diadem from his impious brows,
"Tear from his murderous hand the bloody rod,
290 "And teach the trembling nations, "THOU ART GOD!"--
--SYLPHS! in what dread array with pennons broad
Onward ye floated o'er the ethereal road,
Call'd each dank steam the reeking marsh exhales,
Contagious vapours, and volcanic gales,
295 Gave the soft South with poisonous breath to blow,
And rolled the dreadful whirlwind on the foe!--
Hark! o'er the camp the venom'd tempest sings,
Man falls on Man, on buckler buckler rings;
Groan answers groan, to anguish anguish yields,
300 And DEATH'S loud accents shake the tented fields!
--High rears the Fiend his grinning jaws, and wide
Spans the pale nations with colossal stride,
Waves his broad falchion with uplifted hand,
And his vast shadow darkens all the land.

[Volcanic gales. l. 294. The pestilential winds of the east are described by various authors under various denominations; as harmattan, samiel, samium, syrocca, kamsin, seravansum. M. de Beauchamp describes a remarkable south wind in the deserts about Bagdad, called seravansum, or poison-wind; it burns the face, impedes respiration, strips the trees of their leaves, and is said to pass on in a streight line, and often kills people in six hours. P. Cotte sur la Meteorol. Analytical Review for February, 1790. M. Volney says, the hot wind or ramsin seems to blow at the season when the sands of the deserts are the hottest; the air is then filled with an extreamly subtle dust. Vol. I. p. 61. These winds blow in all directions from the deserts; in Egypt the most violent proceed from the S.S.W. at Mecca from the E. at Surat from the N. at Bassora from the N.W. at Bagdad from the W. and in Syria from the S.E.

On the south of Syria, he adds, where the Jordan flows is a country of volcanos; and it is observed that the earthquakes in Syria happen after their rainy season, which is also conformable to a similar observation made by Dr. Shaw in Barbary. Travels in Egypt, Vol. I. p. 303.

These winds seem all to be of volcanic origin, as before mentioned, with this difference, that the Simoom is attended with a stream of electric matter; they seem to be in consequence of earthquakes caused by the monsoon floods, which fall on volcanic fires in Syria, at the same time that they inundate the Nile.]

305 IX. 1. "Ethereal cohorts! Essences of Air!
Make the green children of the Spring your care!
Oh, SYLPHS! disclose in this inquiring age
One GOLDEN SECRET to some favour'd sage;
Grant the charm'd talisman, the chain, that binds,
310 Or guides the changeful pinions of the winds!
--No more shall hoary Boreas, issuing forth
With Eurus, lead the tempests of the North;
Rime the pale Dawn, or veil'd in flaky showers
Chill the sweet bosoms of the smiling Hours.
315 By whispering Auster waked shall Zephyr rise,
Meet with soft kiss, and mingle in the skies,
Fan the gay floret, bend the yellow ear,
And rock the uncurtain'd cradle of the year;
Autumn and Spring in lively union blend,
320 And from the skies the Golden Age descend.

[One golden secret. l. 308. The suddenness of the change of the wind from N.E. to S.W. seems to shew that it depends on some minute chemical cause; which if it was discovered might probably, like other chemical causes, be governed by human agency; such as blowing up rocks by gunpowder, or extracting the lightening from the clouds. If this could be accomplished, it would be the most happy discovery that ever has happened to these northern latitudes, since in this country the N.E. winds bring frost, and the S.W. ones are attended with warmth and moisture; if the inferior currents of air could be kept perpetually from the S.W. supplied by new productions of air at the line, or by superior currents flowing in a contrary direction, the vegetation of this country would be doubled; as in the moist vallies of Africa, which know no frost; the number of its inhabitants would be increased, and their lives prolonged; as great abundance of the aged and infirm of mankind, as well as many birds and animals, are destroyed by severe continued frosts in this climate.]

2. "Castled on ice, beneath the circling Bear,
A vast CAMELION spits and swallows air;
O'er twelve degrees his ribs gigantic bend,
And many a league his leathern jaws extend;
325 Half-fish, beneath, his scaly volutes spread,
And vegetable plumage crests his head;
Huge fields of air his wrinkled skin receives,
From panting gills, wide lungs, and waving leaves;
Then with dread throes subsides his bloated form,
330 His shriek the thunder, and his sigh the storm.
Oft high in heaven the hissing Demon wins
His towering course, upborne on winnowing fins;
Steers with expanded eye and gaping mouth,
His mass enormous to the affrighted South;
335 Spreads o'er the shuddering Line his shadowy limbs,
And Frost and Famine follow as he swims.--
SYLPHS! round his cloud-built couch your bands array,
And mould the Monster to your gentle sway;
Charm with soft tones, with tender touches check,
340 Bend to your golden yoke his willing neck,
With silver curb his yielding teeth restrain,
And give to KIRWAN'S hand the silken rein.
--Pleased shall the Sage, the dragon-wings between,
Bend o'er discordant climes his eye serene,
345 With Lapland breezes cool Arabian vales,
And call to Hindostan antarctic gales,
Adorn with wreathed ears Kampschatca's brows,
And scatter roses on Zealandic snows,
Earth's wondering Zones the genial seasons share,
350 And nations hail him "MONARCH OF THE AIR."

[A vast Camelion. l. 322. See additional notes, No. XXXIII. on the destruction and reproduction of the atmosphere.]

[To Kirwan's hand. l. 342. Mr. Kirwan has published a valuable treatise on the temperature of climates, as a step towards investigating the theory of the winds; and has since written some ingenious papers on this subject in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Society.]

X. 1. "SYLPHS! as you hover on ethereal wing,
Brood the green children of parturient Spring!--
Where in their bursting cells my Embryons rest,
I charge you guard the vegetable nest;
355 Count with nice eye the myriad SEEDS, that swell
Each vaulted womb of husk, or pod, or shell;
Feed with sweet juices, clothe with downy hair,
Or hang, inshrined, their little orbs in air.

[The myriad seeds. l. 355. Nature would seem to have been wonderfully prodigal in the seeds of vegetables, and the spawn of fish; almost any one plant, if all its seeds should grow to maturity, would in a few years alone people the terrestrial globe. Mr. Ray asserts that 101 seeds of tobacco weighed only one grain, and that from one tobacco plant the seeds thus calculated amounted to 360,000! The seeds of the ferns are by him supposed to exceed a million on a leaf. As the works of nature are governed by general laws this exuberant reproduction prevents the accidental extinction of the species, at the same time that they serve for food for the higher orders of animation.

Every seed possesses a reservoir of nutriment designed for the growth of the future plant, this consists of starch, mucilage, or oil, within the coat of the seed, or of sugar and subacid pulp in the fruits, which belongs to it.

For the preservation of the immature seed nature has used many ingenious methods; some are wrapped in down, as the seeds of the rose, bean, and cotton-plant; others are suspended in a large air-vessel, as those of the bladder-sena, staphylaea, and pea.]

"So, late descry'd by HERSCHEL'S piercing sight,
360 Hang the bright squadrons of the twinkling Night;
Ten thousand marshall'd stars, a silver zone,
Effuse their blended lustres round her throne;
Suns call to suns, in lucid clouds conspire,
And light exterior skies with golden fire;
365 Resistless rolls the illimitable sphere,
And one great circle forms the unmeasured year.
--Roll on, YE STARS! exult in youthful prime,
Mark with bright curves the printless steps of Time;
Near and more near your beamy cars approach,
370 And lessening orbs on lessening orbs encroach;--
Flowers of the sky! ye too to age must yield,
Frail as your silken sisters of the field!
Star after star from Heaven's high arch shall rush,
Suns sink on suns, and systems systems crush,
375 Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall,
And Death and Night and Chaos mingle all!
--Till o'er the wreck, emerging from the storm,
Immortal NATURE lifts her changeful form,
Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of flame,
380 And soars and shines, another and the same.

[And light exterior. l. 364. I suspect this line is from Dwight's Conquest of Canaan, a poem written by a very young man, and which contains much fine versification.]

[Near and more near. l. 369. From the vacant spaces in some parts of the heavens, and the correspondent clusters of stars in their vicinity, Mr. Herschel concludes that the nebulae or constellations of fixed stars are approaching each other, and must finally coalesce in one mass. Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXV.]

[Till o'er the wreck. l. 377. The story of the phenix rising from its own ashes with a twinkling star upon its head, seems to have been an antient hieroglyphic emblem of the destruction and resuscitation of all things.

There is a figure of the great Platonic year with a phenix on his hand on the reverse of a medal of Adrian. Spence's Polym. p. 189.]

2. "Lo! on each SEED within its slender rind
Life's golden threads in endless circles wind;
Maze within maze the lucid webs are roll'd,
And, as they burst, the living flame unfold.
385 The pulpy acorn, ere it swells, contains
The Oak's vast branches in its milky veins;
Each ravel'd bud, fine film, and fibre-line
Traced with nice pencil on the small design.
The young Narcissus, in it's bulb compress'd,
390 Cradles a second nestling on its breast;
In whose fine arms a younger embryon lies,
Folds its thin leaves, and shuts its floret-eyes;
Grain within grain successive harvests dwell,
And boundless forests slumber in a shell.
395 --So yon grey precipice, and ivy'd towers,
Long winding meads, and intermingled bowers,
Green files of poplars, o'er the lake that bow,
And glimmering wheel, which rolls and foams below,
In one bright point with nice distinction lie
400 Plan'd on the moving tablet of the eye.
--So, fold on fold, Earth's wavy plains extend,
And, sphere in sphere, its hidden strata bend;--
Incumbent Spring her beamy plumes expands
O'er restless oceans, and impatient lands,
405 With genial lustres warms the mighty ball,
And the GREAT SEED evolves, disclosing ALL;
LIFE buds or breathes from Indus to the Poles,
And the vast surface kindles, as it rolls!

[Maze within maze. l. 383. The elegant appearance on dissection of the young tulip in the bulb was first observed by Mariotte and is mentioned in the note on tulipa in Vol.II, and was afterwards noticed by Du Hamel. Acad. Scien. Lewenhook assures us that in the bud of a currant tree he could not only discover the ligneous part but even the berries themselves, appearing like small grapes. Chamb. Dict. art. Bud. Mr. Baker says he dissected a seed of trembling grass in which a perfect plant appeared with its root, sending forth two branches, from each of which several leaves or blades of grass proceeded. Microsc. Vol. I. p. 252. Mr. Bonnet saw four generations of successive plants in the bulb of a hyacinth. Bonnet Corps Organ. Vol. I. p. 103. Haller's Physiol. Vol. I. p. 91. In the terminal bud of a horse-chesnut the new flower may be seen by the naked eye covered with a mucilaginous down, and the same in the bulb of a narcissus, as I this morning observed in several of them sent me by Miss ---- for that purpose. Sept. 16.

Mr. Ferber speaks of the pleasure he received in observing in the buds of Hepatica and pedicularis hirsuta yet lying hid in the earth, and in the gems of the shrub daphne mezereon, and at the base of osmunda lunaria a perfect plant of the future year, discernable in all its parts a year before it comes forth, and in the seeds of nymphea nelumbo the leaves of the plant were seen so distinctly that the author found out by them what plant the seeds belonged to. The same of the seeds of the tulip tree or liriodendum tulipiferum. Amaen. Aced. Vol. VI.]

[And the great seed. l. 406. Alluding to the [Greek: proton oon], or first great egg of the antient philosophy, it had a serpent wrapped round it emblematical of divine wisdom, an image of it was afterwards preserved and worshipped in the temple of Dioscuri, and supposed to represent the egg of Leda. See a print of it in Bryant's Mythology. It was said to have been broken by the horns of the celestial bull, that is, it was hatched by the warmth of the Spring. See note on Canto I. l. 413.]

[And the vast surface. l. 408. L'Organization, le sentiment, le movement spontané, la vie, n'existent qu'a la surface de la terre, et dans le lieux exposes á la lumiére. Traité de Chymie par M. Lavoisier, Tom. I. p. 202.]

3. "Come, YE SOFT SYLPHS! who sport on Latian land,
410 Come, sweet-lip'd Zephyr, and Favonius bland!
Teach the fine SEED, instinct with life, to shoot
On Earth's cold bosom its descending root;
With Pith elastic stretch its rising stem,
Part the twin Lobes, expand the throbbing Gem;
415 Clasp in your airy arms the aspiring Plume,
Fan with your balmy breath its kindling bloom,
Each widening scale and bursting film unfold,
Swell the green cup, and tint the flower with gold;
While in bright veins the silvery Sap ascends,
420 And refluent blood in milky eddies bends;
While, spread in air, the leaves respiring play,
Or drink the golden quintessence of day.
--So from his shell on Delta's shower-less isle
Bursts into life the Monster of the Nile;
425 First in translucent lymph with cobweb-threads
The Brain's fine floating tissue swells, and spreads;
Nerve after nerve the glistening spine descends,
The red Heart dances, the Aorta bends;
Through each new gland the purple current glides,
430 New veins meandering drink the refluent tides;
Edge over edge expands the hardening scale,
And sheaths his slimy skin in silver mail.
--Erewhile, emerging from the brooding sand,
With Tyger-paw He prints the brineless strand,
435 High on the flood with speckled bosom swims,
Helm'd with broad tail, and oar'd with giant limbs;
Rolls his fierce eye-balls, clasps his iron claws,
And champs with gnashing teeth his massy jaws;
Old Nilus sighs along his cane-crown'd shores,
440 And swarthy Memphis trembles and adores.

[Teach the fine seed. l. 411. The seeds in their natural state fall on the surface of the earth, and having absorbed some moisture the root shoots itself downwards into the earth and the plume rises in air. Thus each endeavouring to seek its proper pabulum directed by a vegetable irritability similar to that of the lacteal system and to the lungs in animals.

The pith seems to push up or elongate the bud by its elasticity, like the pith in the callow quills of birds. This medulla Linneus believes to consist of a bundle of fibres, which diverging breaks through the bark yet gelatinous producing the buds.

The lobes are reservoirs of prepared nutriment for the young seed, which is absorbed by its placental vessels, and converted into sugar, till it has penetrated with its roots far enough into the earth to extract sufficient moisture, and has acquired leaves to convert it into nourishment. In some plants these lobes rise from the earth and supply the place of leaves, as in kidney-beans, cucumbers, and hence seem to serve both as a placenta to the foetus, and lungs to the young plant. During the process of germination the starch of the seed is converted into sugar, as is seen in the process of malting barley for the purpose of brewing. And is on this account very similar to the digestion of food in the stomachs of animals, which converts all their aliment into a chyle, which consists of mucilage, oil, and sugar; the placentation of buds will be spoken of hereafter.]

[The silvery sap. l. 419. See additional notes, No. XXXVI.]

[Or drink the golden. l. 422. Linneus having observed the great influence of light on vegetation, imagined that the leaves of plants inhaled electric matter from the light with their upper surface. (System of Vegetables translated, p. 8.)

The effect of light on plants occasions the actions of the vegetable muscles of their leaf-stalks, which turn the upper side of the leaf to the light, and which open their calyxes and chorols, according to the experiments of Abbe Tessier, who exposed variety of plants in a cavern to different quantities of light. Hist. de L'Academie Royal. Ann. 1783. The sleep or vigilance of plants seems owing to the presence or absence of this stimulus. See note on Nimosa, Vol. II.]

XI. "Come, YE SOFT SYLPHS! who fan the Paphian groves,
And bear on sportive wings the callow Loves;
Call with sweet whisper, in each gale that blows,
The slumbering Snow-drop from her long repose;
445 Charm the pale Primrose from her clay-cold bed,
Unveil the bashful Violet's tremulous head;
While from her bud the playful Tulip breaks,
And young Carnations peep with blushing cheeks;
Bid the closed Petals from nocturnal cold
450 The virgin Style in silken curtains fold,
Shake into viewless air the morning dews,
And wave in light their iridescent hues;
While from on high the bursting Anthers trust
To the mild breezes their prolific dust;
455 Or bend in rapture o'er the central Fair,
Love out their hour, and leave their lives in air.
So in his silken sepulchre the Worm,
Warm'd with new life, unfolds his larva-form;
Erewhile aloft in wanton circles moves,
460 And woos on Hymen-wings his velvet loves.

[Love out their hour. l. 456. The vegetable passion of love is agreeably seen in the flower of the parnassia, in which the males alternately approach and recede from the female, and in the flower of nigella, or devil in the bush, in which the tall females bend down to their dwarf husbands. But I was this morning surprised to observe, amongst Sir Brooke Boothby's valuable collection of plants at Ashbourn, the manifest adultery of several females of the plant Collinsonia, who had bent themselves into contact with the males of other flowers of the same plant in their vicinity, neglectful of their own. Sept. 16. See additional notes, No. XXXVIII.]

[Unfolds his larva-form. l. 458. The flower bursts forth from its larva, the herb, naked and perfect like a butterfly from its chrysolis; winged with its corol; wing-sheathed by its calyx; consisting alone of the organs of reproduction. The males, or stamens, have their anthers replete with a prolific powder containing the vivifying fovilla: in the females, or pistils, exists the ovary, terminated by the tubular stigma. When the anthers burst and shed their bags of dust, the male fovilla is received by the prolific lymph of the stigma, and produces the seed or egg, which is nourished in the ovary. System of Vegetables translated from Linneus by the Lichfield Society, p. 10.]

XII. 1. "If prouder branches with exuberance rude
Point their green gems, their barren shoots protrude;
Wound them, ye SYLPHS! with little knives, or bind
A wiry ringlet round the swelling rind;
465 Bisect with chissel fine the root below,
Or bend to earth the inhospitable bough.
So shall each germ with new prolific power
Delay the leaf-bud, and expand the flower;
Closed in the Style the tender pith shall end,
470 The lengthening Wood in circling Stamens bend;
The smoother Rind its soft embroidery spread
In vaulted Petals o'er their fertile bed;
While the rough Bark, in circling mazes roll'd,
Forms the green Cup with many a wrinkled fold;
475 And each small bud-scale spreads its foliage hard,
Firm round the callow germ, a Floral Guard.

[Wound them, ye Sylphs! l. 463. Mr. Whitmill advised to bind some of the most vigorous shoots with strong wire, and even some of the large roots; and Mr. Warner cuts, what he calls a wild worm about the body of the tree, or scores the bark quite to the wood like a screw with a sharp knife. Bradley on Gardening, Vol. II. p. 155. Mr. Fitzgerald produced flowers and fruit on wall trees by cutting off a part of the bark. Phil. Trans. Ann. 1761. M. Buffon produced the same effect by a straight bandage put round a branch, Act. Paris, Ann. 1738, and concludes that an ingrafted branch bears better from its vessels being compressed by the callous.

A compleat cylinder of the bark about an inch in height was cut off from the branch of a pear tree against a wall in Mr. Howard's garden at Lichfield about five years ago, the circumcised part is now not above half the diameter of the branch above and below it, yet this branch has been full of fruit every year since, when the other branches of the tree bore only sparingly. I lately observed that the leaves of this wounded branch were smaller and paler, and the fruit less in size, and ripened sooner than on the other parts of the tree. Another branch has the bark taken off not quite all round with much the same effect.

The theory of this curious vegetable fact has been esteemed difficult, but receives great light from the foregoing account of the individuality of buds. A flower-bud dies, when it has perfected its seed, like an annual plant, and hence requires no place on the bark for new roots to pass downwards; but on the contrary leaf-buds, as they advance into shoots, form new buds in the axilla of every leaf, which new buds require new roots to pass down the bark, and thus thicken as well as elongate the branch, now if a wire or string be tied round the bark, many of these new roots cannot descend, and thence more of the buds will be converted into flower-buds.

It is customary to debark oak-trees in the spring, which are intended to be felled in the ensuing autumn; because the bark comes off easier at this season, and the sap-wood, or alburnum, is believed to become harder and more durable, if the tree remains till the end of summer. The trees thus stripped of their bark put forth shoots as usual with acorns on the 6th 7th and 8th joint, like vines; but in the branches I examined, the joints of the debarked trees were much shorter than those of other oak- trees; the acorns were more numerous; and no new buds were produced above the joints which bore acorns. From hence it appears that the branches of debarked oak-trees produce fewer leaf-buds, and more flower- buds, which last circumstance I suppose must depend on their being sooner or later debarked in the vernal months. And, secondly, that the new buds of debarked oak-trees continue to obtain moisture from the alburnum after the season of the ascent of sap in other vegetables ceases; which in this unnatural state of the debarked tree may act as capillary tubes, like the alburnum of the small debarked cylinder of a pear-tree abovementioned; or may continue to act as placental vessels, as happens to the animal embryon in cases of superfetation; when the fetus continues a month or two in the womb beyond its usual time, of which some instances have been recorded, the placenta continues to supply perhaps the double office both of nutrition and of respiration.]

[And bend to earth. l. 466. Mr. Hitt in his treatise on fruit trees observes that if a vigorous branch of a wall tree be bent to the horizon, or beneath it, it looses its vigour and becomes a bearing branch. The theory of this I suppose to depend on the difficulty with which the leaf-shoots can protrude the roots necessary for their new progeny of buds upwards along the bended branch to the earth contrary to their natural habits or powers, whence more flower-shoots are produced which do not require new roots to pass along the bark of the bended branch, but which let their offspring, the seeds, fall upon the earth and seek roots for themselves.]

[With new prolific power. l. 467. About Midsummer the new buds are formed, but it is believed by some of the Linnean school, that these buds may in their early state be either converted into flower-buds or leaf-buds according to the vigour of the vegetating branch. Thus if the upper part of a branch be cut away, the buds near the extremity of the remaining stem, having a greater proportional supply of nutriment, or possessing a greater facility of shooting their roots, or absorbent vessels, down the bark, will become leaf-buds, which might otherwise have been flower-buds. And the contrary as explained in note on l. 463. of this Canto.]

[Closed in the style. l. 469. "I conceive the medulla of a plant to consist of a bundle of nervous fibres, and that the propelling vital power separates their uppermost extremities. These, diverging, penetrate the bark, which is now gelatinous, and become multiplied in the new gem, or leaf-bud. The ascending vessels of the bark being thus divided by the nervous fibres, which perforate it, and the ascent of its fluids being thus impeded, the bark is extended into a leaf. But the flower is produced, when the protrusion of the medulla is greater than the retention of the including cortical part; whence the substance of the bark is expanded in the calyx; that of the rind, (or interior bark,) in the corol; that of the wood in the stamens, that of the medulla in the pistil. Vegetation thus terminates in the production of new life, the ultimate medullary and cortical fibres being collected in the seeds." Linnei Systema Veget. p. 6. edit. 14.]

2. "Where cruder juices swell the leafy vein,
Stint the young germ, the tender blossom stain;
On each lop'd shoot a softer scion bind,
480 Pith press'd to pith, and rind applied to rind,
So shall the trunk with loftier crest ascend,
And wide in air its happier arms extend;
Nurse the new buds, admire the leaves unknown,
And blushing bend with fruitage not its own.

[Nurse the new buds. l. 483. Mr. Fairchild budded a passion-tree, whose leaves were spotted with yellow, into one which bears long fruit. The buds did not take, nevertheless in a fortnight yellow spots began to shew themselves about three feet above the inoculation, and in a short time afterwards yellow spots appeared on a shoot which came out of the ground from another part of the plant. Bradley, Vol. II. p. 129. These facts are the more curious since from experiments of ingrafting red currants on black (Ib. Vol. II.) the fruit does not acquire any change of flavour, and by many other experiments neither colour nor any other change is produced in the fruit ingrafted on other stocks.

There is an apple described in Bradley's work which is said to have one side of it a sweet fruit which boils soft, and the other side a sour fruit which boils hard, which Mr. Bradley so long ago as the year 1721 ingeniously ascribes to the farina of one of these apples impregnating the other, which would seem the more probable if we consider that each division of an apple is a separate womb, and may therefore have a separate impregnation like puppies of different kinds in one litter. The same is said to have occurred in oranges and lemons, and grapes of different colours.]

485 "Thus when in holy triumph Aaron trod,
And offer'd on the shrine his mystic rod;
First a new bark its silken tissue weaves,
New buds emerging widen into leaves;
Fair fruits

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'The Botanic Garden A Poem in Two Parts. Part 1: The Economy of Vegetation: Canto IV.' by Erasmus Darwin

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy