THE LOVES OF THE PLANTS.
VOLUME THE SECOND.
VIVUNT IN VENEREM FRONDES; NEMUS OMNE PER ALTUM FELIX ARBOR AMAT; NUTANT AD MUTUA PALMAE FAEDERA, POPULEO SUSPIRAT POPULUS ICTU, ET PLATANI PLATANIS, ALNOQUE ASSIBILAT ALNUS.
THE SECOND EDITION.
PRINTED BY J. NICHOLS,
FOR J. JOHNSON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD. M, DCC, XC.
The general design of the following sheets is to inlist Imagination under the banner of Science, and to lead her votaries from the looser analogies, which dress out the imagery of poetry, to the stricter ones, which form the ratiocination of philosophy. While their particular design is to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of BOTANY; by introducing them to the vestibule of that delightful science, and recommending to their attention the immortal works of the Swedish Naturalist LINNEUS.
In the first Poem, or Economy of Vegetation, the physiology of Plants is delivered; and the operation of the Elements, as far as they may be supposed to affect the growth of Vegetables. But the publication of this part is deferred to another year, for the purpose of repeating some experiments on vegetation, mentioned in the notes. In the second poem, or LOVES OF THE PLANTS, which is here presented to the Reader, the Sexual System of LINNEUS is explained, with the remarkable properties of many particular plants.
The author has withheld this work, (excepting a few pages) many years from the press, according to the rule of Horace, hoping to have rendered it more worthy the acceptance of the public,—but finds at length, that he is less able, from disuse, to correct the poetry; and, from want of leizure, to amplify the annotations.
In this second edition, the plants Amaryllis, Orchis, and Cannabis are inserted with two additional prints of flowers; some alterations are made in Gloriosa, and Tulipa; and the description of the Salt-mines in Poland is removed to the first poem on the Economy of Vegetation.
Linneus has divided the vegetable world into 24 Classes; these Classes into about 120 Orders; these Orders contain about 2000 Families, or Genera; and these Families about 20,000 Species; besides the innumerable Varieties, which the accidents of climate or cultivation have added to these Species.
The Classes are distinguished from each other in this ingenious system, by the number, situation, adhesion, or reciprocal proportion of the males in each flower. The Orders, in many of these Classes, are distinguished by the number, or other circumstances of the females. The Families, or Genera, are characterized by the analogy of all the parts of the flower or fructification. The Species are distinguished by the foliage of the plant; and the Varieties by any accidental circumstance of colour, taste, or odour; the seeds of these do not always produce plants similar to the parent; as in our numerous fruit-trees and garden flowers; which are propagated by grafts or layers.
The first eleven Classes include the plants, in whose flowers both the sexes reside; and in which the Males or Stamens are neither united, nor unequal in height when at maturity; and are therefore distinguished from each other simply by the number of males in each flower, as is seen in the annexed PLATE, copied from the Dictionaire Botanique of M. BULLIARD, in which the numbers of each division refer to the Botanic Classes.
CLASS I. ONE MALE, Monandria; includes the plants which possess but One Stamen in each flower.
II. TWO MALES, Diandria. Two Stamens.
III. THREE MALES, Triandria. Three Stamens.
IV. FOUR MALES, Tetrandria. Four Stamens.
V. FIVE MALES, Pentandria. Five Stamens.
VI. SIX MALES, Hexandria. Six Stamens.
VII. SEVEN MALES, Heptandria. Seven Stamens.
VIII. EIGHT MALES, Octandria. Eight Stamens.
IX. NINE MALES, Enneandria. Nine Stamens.
X. TEN MALES, Decandria. Ten Stamens.
XI. TWELVE MALES, Dodecandria. Twelve Stamens.
The next two Classes are distinguished not only by the number of equal and disunited males, as in the above eleven Classes, but require an additional circumstance to be attended to, viz. whether the males or stamens be situated on the calyx, or not.
XII. TWENTY MALES, Icosandria. Twenty Stamens inserted on the calyx or flower-cup; as is well seen in the last Figure of No. xii. in the annexed Plate.
XIII. MANY MALES, Polyandria. From 20 to 100 Stamens, which do not adhere to the calyx; as is well seen in the first Figure of No. xiii. in the annexed Plate.
In the next two Classes, not only the number of stamens are to be observed, but the reciprocal proportions in respect to height.
XIV. TWO POWERS, Didynamia. Four Stamens, of which two are lower than the other two; as is seen in the two first Figures of No. xiv.
XV. FOUR POWERS, Tetradynamia. Six Stamens; of which four are taller, and the two lower ones opposite to each other; as is seen in the third Figure of the upper row in No. 15.
The five subsequent Classes are distinguished not by the number of the males, or stamens, but by their union or adhesion, either by their anthers, or filaments, or to the female or pistil.
XVI. ONE BROTHERHOOD, Monadelphia. Many Stamens united by their filaments into one company; as in the second Figure below of No. xvi.
XVII. TWO BROTHERHOODS, Diadelphia. Many Stamens united by their filaments into two Companies; as in the uppermost Fig. No. xvii.
XVIII. MANY BROTHERHOODS, Polyadelphia. Many Stamens united by their filaments into three or more companies, as in No. xviii.
XIX. CONFEDERATE MALES, Syngenesia. Many Stamens united by their anthers; as in first and second Figures, No. xix.
XX. FEMININE MALES, Gynandria. Many Stamens attached to the pistil.
The next three Classes consist of plants, whose flowers contain but one of the sexes; or if some of them contain both sexes, there are other flowers accompanying them of but one sex.
XXI. ONE HOUSE, Monoecia. Male flowers and female flowers separate, but on the same plant.
XXII. TWO HOUSES, Dioecia. Male flowers and female flowers separate, on different plants.
XXIII. POLYGAMY, Polygamia. Male and female flowers on one or more plants, which have at the same time flowers of both sexes.
The last Class contains the plants whose flowers are not discernible.
XXIV. CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE, Cryptogamia.
The Orders of the first thirteen Classes are founded on the number of Females, or Pistils, and distinguished by the names, ONE FEMALE, Monogynia. TWO FEMALES, Digynia. THREE FEMALES, Trigynia, &c. as is seen in No. i. which represents a plant of one male, one female; and in the first Figure of No. xi. which represents a flower with twelve males, and three females; (for, where the pistils have no apparent styles, the summits, or stigmas, are to be numbered) and in the first Figure of No. xii. which represents a flower with twenty males and many females; and in the last Figure of the same No. which has twenty males and one female; and in No. xiii. which represents a flower with many males and many females.
The Class of TWO POWERS, is divided into two natural Orders; into such as have their seeds naked at the bottom of the calyx, or flower cup; and such as have their seeds covered; as is seen in No. xiv. Fig. 3. and 5.
The Class of FOUR POWERS, is divided also into two Orders; in one of these the seeds are inclosed in a silicule, as in Shepherd's purse. No. xiv. Fig. 5. In the other they are inclosed in a silique, as in Wall-flower. Fig. 4.
In all the other Classes, excepting the Classes Confederate Males, and Clandestine Marriage, as the character of each Class is distinguished by the situations of the males; the character of the Orders is marked by the numbers of them. In the Class ONE BROTHERHOOD, No. xvi. Fig. 3. the Order of ten males is represented. And in the Class TWO BROTHERHOODS, No. xvii. Fig. 2. the Order ten males is represented.
In the Class CONFEDERATE MALES, the Orders are chiefly distinguished by the fertility or barrenness of the florets of the disk, or ray of the compound flower.
And in the Class of CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE, the four Orders are termed FERNS, MOSSES, FLAGS, and FUNGUSSES.
The Orders are again divided into Genera, or Families, which are all natural associations, and are described from the general resemblances of the parts of fructification, in respect to their number, form, situation, and reciprocal proportion. These are the Calyx, or Flower-cup, as seen in No. iv. Fig. 1. No. x. Fig. 1. and 3. No. xiv. Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4. Second, the Corol, or Blossom, as seen in No. i. ii. &c. Third, the Males, or Stamens; as in No. iv. Fig. 1. and No. viii. Fig. 1. Fourth, the Females, or Pistils; as in No. i. No. xii. Fig. 1. No. xiv. Fig. 3. No. xv. Fig. 3. Fifth, the Pericarp or Fruit-vessel; as No. xv. Fig. 4. 5. No. xvii. Fig. 2. Sixth, the Seeds.
The illustrious author of the Sexual System of Botany, in his preface to his account of the Natural Orders, ingeniously imagines, that one plant of each Natural Order was created in the beginning; and that the intermarriages of these produced one plant of every Genus, or Family; and that the intermarriages of these Generic, or Family plants, produced all the Species: and lastly, that the intermarriages of the individuals of the Species produced the Varieties.
In the following POEM, the name or number of the Class or Order of each plant is printed in italics; as "Two brother swains." "One House contains them." and the word "secret" expresses the Class of Clandestine Marriage.
The Reader, who wishes to become further acquainted with this delightful field of science, is advised to study the words of the Great Master, and is apprized that they are exactly and literally translated into English, by a Society at LICHFIELD, in four Volumes Octavo.
To the SYSTEM OF VEGETABLES is prefixed a copious explanation of all the Terms used in Botany, translated from a thesis of Dr. ELMSGREEN, with the plates and references from the Philosophia Botannica of LINNEUS.
To the FAMILIES OF PLANTS is prefixed a Catalogue of the names of plants, and other Botanic Terms, carefully accented, to shew their proper pronunciation; a work of great labour, and which was much wanted, not only by beginners, but by proficients in BOTANY.
* * * * *
Lo, here a CAMERA OBSCURA is presented to thy view, in which are lights and shades dancing on a whited canvas, and magnified into apparent life!—if thou art perfectly at leasure for such trivial amusement, walk in, and view the wonders of my INCHANTED GARDEN.
Whereas P. OVIDIUS NASO, a great Necromancer in the famous Court of AUGUSTUS CAESAR, did by art poetic transmute Men, Women, and even Gods and Goddesses, into Trees and Flowers; I have undertaken by similar art to restore some of them to their original animality, after having remained prisoners so long in their respective vegetable mansions; and have here exhibited them before thee. Which thou may'st contemplate as diverse little pictures suspended over the chimney of a Lady's dressing-room, connected only by a slight festoon of ribbons. And which, though thou may'st not be acquainted with the originals, may amuse thee by the beauty of their persons, their graceful attitudes, or the brilliancy of their dress.
Descend, ye hovering Sylphs! aerial Quires, And sweep with little hands your silver lyres; With fairy footsteps print your grassy rings, Ye Gnomes! accordant to the tinkling strings; 5 While in soft notes I tune to oaten reed Gay hopes, and amorous sorrows of the mead.— From giant Oaks, that wave their branches dark, To the dwarf Moss, that clings upon their bark, What Beaux and Beauties crowd the gaudy groves, 10 And woo and win their vegetable Loves. How Snowdrops cold, and blue-eyed Harebels blend Their tender tears, as o'er the stream they bend; The lovesick Violet, and the Primrose pale Bow their sweet heads, and whisper to the gale; 15 With secret sighs the Virgin Lily droops, And jealous Cowslips hang their tawny cups. How the young Rose in beauty's damask pride Drinks the warm blushes of his bashful bride; With honey'd lips enamour'd Woodbines meet, 20 Clasp with fond arms, and mix their kisses sweet.—
Stay thy soft-murmuring waters, gentle Rill; Hush, whispering Winds, ye ruflling Leaves, be still; Rest, silver Butterflies, your quivering wings; Alight, ye Beetles, from your airy rings;
[Vegetable Loves. l. 10. Linneus, the celebrated Swedish naturalist, has demonstrated, that ail flowers contain families of males or females, or both; and on their marriages has constructed his invaluable system of Botany.]
25 Ye painted Moths, your gold-eyed plumage furl, Bow your wide horns, your spiral trunks uncurl; Glitter, ye Glow-worms, on your mossy beds; Descend, ye Spiders, on your lengthen'd threads; Slide here, ye horned Snails, with varnish'd shells; 30 Ye Bee-nymphs, listen in your waxen cells!—
BOTANIC MUSE! who in this latter age Led by your airy hand the Swedish sage, Bad his keen eye your secret haunts explore On dewy dell, high wood, and winding shore; 35 Say on each leaf how tiny Graces dwell; How laugh the Pleasures in a blossom's bell; How insect Loves arise on cobweb wings, Aim their light shafts, and point their little stings.
First the tall CANNA lifts his curled brow 40 Erect to heaven, and plights his nuptial vow;
[Canna. l. 39. Cane, or Indian Reed. One male and one female inhabit each flower. It is brought from between the tropics to our hot-houses, and bears a beautiful crimson flower; the seeds are used as shot by the Indians, and are strung for prayer-beads in some catholic countries.]
The virtuous pair, in milder regions born, Dread the rude blast of Autumn's icy morn; Round the chill fair he folds his crimson vest, And clasps the timorous beauty to his breast.
45 Thy love, CALLITRICHE, two Virgins share, Smit with thy starry eye and radiant hair;— On the green margin sits the youth, and laves His floating train of tresses in the waves; Sees his fair features paint the streams that pass, 50 And bends for ever o'er the watery glass.
Two brother swains, of COLLIN'S gentle name, The same their features, and their forms the same,
[Callitriche, l. 45. Fine-Hair, Stargrass. One male and two females inhabit each flower. The upper leaves grow in form of a star, whence it is called Stellaria Aquatica by Ray and others; its stems and leaves float far on the water, and are often so matted together, as to bear a person walking on them. The male sometimes lives in a separate flower.]
[Collinsonia. l. 51. Two males one female. I have lately observed a very singular circumstance in this flower; the two males stand widely diverging from each other, and the female bends herself into contact first with one of them, and after some time leaves this, and applies herself to the other. It is probable one of the anthers may be mature before the other? See note on Gloriosa, and Genista. The females in Nigella, devil in the bush, are very tall compared to the males; and bending over in a circle to them, give the flower some resemblance to a regal crown. The female of the epilobium angustisolium, rose bay willow herb, bends down amongst the males for several days, and becomes upright again when impregnated.]
[Genista. l. 57. Dyer's broom. Ten males and one female inhabit this flower. The males are generally united at the bottom in two sets, whence Linneus has named the class "two brotherhoods." In the Genista, however, they are united in but one set. The flowers of this class are called papilionaceous, from their resemblance to a butterfly, as the pea-blossom. In the Spartium Scoparium, or common broom, I have lately observed a curious circumstance, the males or stamens are in two sets, one set rising a quarter of an inch above the other; the upper set does not arrive at their maturity so soon as the lower, and the stigma, or head of the female, is produced amongst the upper or immature set; but as soon as the pistil grows tall enough to burst open the keel-leaf, or hood of the flower, it bends itself round in an instant, like a French horn, and inserts its head, or stigma, amongst the lower or mature set of males. The pistil, or female, continues to grow in length; and in a few days the stigma arrives again amongst the upper set, by the time they become mature. This wonderful contrivance is readily seen by opening the keel-leaf of the flowers of broom before they burst spontaneously. See note on Collinsonia, Gloriosa, Draba.]
With rival love for fair COLLINIA sigh, Knit the dark brow, and roll the unsteady eye. 55 With sweet concern the pitying beauty mourns, And sooths with smiles the jealous pair by turns.
Sweet blooms GENISTA in the myrtle shade, And ten fond brothers woo the haughty maid. Two knights before thy fragrant altar bend, 60 Adored MELISSA! and two squires attend. MEADIA'S soft chains five suppliant beaux confess, And hand in hand the laughing belle address; Alike to all, she bows with wanton air, Rolls her dark eye, and waves her golden hair.
[Melissa. l. 60. Balm. In each flower there are four males and one female; two of the males stand higher than the other two; whence the name of the class "two powers." I have observed in the Ballota, and others of this class, that the two lower stamens, or males become mature before the two higher. After they have shed their dust, they turn themselves away outwards; and the pistil, or female, continuing to grow a little taller, is applied to the upper stamens. See Gloriosa, and Genista.
All the plants of this class, which have naked seeds, are aromatic. The Marum, and Nepeta are particularly delightful to cats; no other brute animals seem pleased with any odours but those of their food or prey.]
[Meadia. l. 61. Dodecatheon, American Cowslip. Five males and one female. The males, or anthers, touch each other. The uncommon beauty of this flower occasioned Linneus to give it a name signifying the twelve heathen gods; and Dr. Mead to affix his own name to it. The pistil is much longer than the stamens, hence the flower-stalks have their elegant bend, that the stigma may hang downwards to receive the fecundating dust of the anthers. And the petals are so beautifully turned back to prevent the rain or dew drops from sliding down and washing off this dust prematurely; and at the same time exposing it to the light and air. As soon as the seeds are formed, it erects all the flower-stalks to prevent them from falling out; and thus loses the beauty of its figure. Is this a mechanical effect, or does it indicate a vegetable storge to preserve its offspring? See note on Ilex, and Gloriosa.
In the Meadia, the Borago, Cyclamen, Solanum, and many others, the filaments are very short compared with the slyle. Hence it became necessary, 1st. to furnish the stamens with long anthers. 2d. To lengthen and bend the peduncle or flower-slalk, that the flower might hang downwards. 3d. To reflect the petals. 4th. To erect these peduncles when the germ was fecundated. We may reason upon this by observing, that all this apparatus might have been spared, if the filaments alone had grown longer; and that thence in these flowers that the filaments are the most unchangeable parts; and that thence their comparative length, in respect to the style, would afford a most permanent mark of their generic character.]
65 Woo'd with long care, CURCUMA cold and shy Meets her fond husband with averted eye: Four beardless youths the obdurate beauty move With soft attentions of Platonic love.
With vain desires the pensive ALCEA burns, 70 And, like sad ELOISA, loves and mourns. The freckled IRIS owns a fiercer flame, And three unjealous husbands wed the dame. CUPRESSUS dark disdains his dusky bride, One dome contains them, but two beds divide. 75 The proud OSYRIS flies his angry fair, Two houses hold the fashionable pair.
[Curcuma. l. 65. Turmeric. One male and one female inhabit this flower; but there are besides four imperfect males, or filaments without anthers upon them, called by Linneus eunuchs. The flax of our country has ten filaments, and but five of them are terminated with anthers; the Portugal flax has ten perfect males, or stamens; the Verbena of our country has four males; that of Sweden has but two; the genus Albuca, the Bignonia Catalpa, Gratiola, and hemlock-leaved Geranium have only half their filaments crowned with anthers. In like manner the florets, which form the rays of the flowers of the order frustraneous polygamy of the class syngenesia, or confederate males, as the sun-flower, are furnished with a style only, and no stigma: and are thence barren. There is also a style without a stigma in the whole order dioecia gynandria; the male flowers of which are thence barren. The Opulus is another plant, which contains some unprolific flowers. In like manner some tribes of insects have males, females, and neuters among them: as bees, wasps, ants.
There is a curious circumstance belonging to the class of insects which have two wings, or diptera, analogous to the rudiments of stamens above described; viz. two little knobs are found placed each on a stalk or peduncle, generally under a little arched scale; which appear to be rudiments of hinder wings; and are called by Linneus, halteres, or poisers, a term of his introduction. A.T. Bladh. Amaen. Acad. V. 7. Other animals have marks of having in a long process of time undergone changes in some parts of their bodies, which may have been effected to accommodate them to new ways of procuring their food. The existence of teats on the breasts of male animals, and which are generally replete with a thin kind of milk at their nativity, is a wonderful instance of this kind. Perhaps all the productions of nature are in their progress to greater perfection? an idea countenanced by the modern discoveries and deductions concerning the progressive formation of the solid parts of the terraqueous globe, and consonant to the dignity of the Creator of all things.]
[Alcea, l. 69. Flore pleno. Double hollyhock. The double flowers, so much admired by the florists, are termed by the botanist vegetable monsters; in some of these the petals are multiplied three or four times, but without excluding the stamens, hence they produce some seeds, as Campanula and Stramoneum; but in others the petals become so numerous as totally to exclude the stamens, or males; as Caltha, Peonia, and Alcea; these produce no seeds, and are termed eunuchs. Philos. Botan. No. 150.
These vegetable monsters are formed in many ways. 1st. By the multiplication of the petals and the exclusion of the nectaries, as in larkspur. 2d. By the multiplication of the nectaries and exclusion of the petals; as in columbine. 3d. In some flowers growing in cymes, the wheel-shape flowers in the margin are multiplied to the exclusion of the bell-shape flowers in the centre; as in gelder-rose. 4th. By the elongation of the florets in the centre. Instances of both these are found in daisy and feverfew; for other kinds of vegetable monsters, see Plantago.
The perianth is not changed in double flowers, hence the genus or family may be often discovered by the calyx, as in Hepatica, Ranunculus, Alcea. In those flowers, which have many petals, the lowest series of the petals remains unchanged in respect to number; hence the natural number of the petals is easily discovered. As in poppies, roses, and Nigella, or devil in a bulb. Phil. Bot. p. 128.]
[Iris. l. 71. Flower de Luce. Three males, one female. Some of the species have a beautifully freckled flower; the large stigma or head of the female covers the three males, counterfeiting a petal with its divisions.]
[Cupressus. l. 73. Cypress. One House. The males live in separate flowers, but on the same plant. The males of some of these plants, which are in separate flowers from the females, have an elastic membrane; which disperses their dust to a considerable distance, when the anthers burst open. This dust, on a fine day, may often be seen like a cloud hanging round the common nettle. The males and females of all the cone-bearing plants are in separate flowers, either on the same or on different plants; they produce resins, and many of them are supposed to supply the most durable timber: what is called Venice-turpentine is obtained from the larch by wounding the bark about two feet from the ground, and catching it as it exsudes; Sandarach is procured from common juniper; and Incense from a juniper with yellow fruit. The unperishable chests, which contain the Egyptian mummies, were of Cypress; and the Cedar, with which black-lead pencils are covered, is not liable to be eaten by worms. See Miln's Bot. Dict. art. coniferae. The gates of St. Peter's church at Rome, which had lasted from the time of Constantine to that of Pope Eugene the fourth, that is to say eleven hundred years, were of Cypress, and had in that time suffered no decay. According to Thucydides, the Athenians buried the bodies of their heroes in coffins of Cypress, as being not subject to decay. A similar durability has also been ascribed to Cedar. Thus Horace,
——speramus carmina fingi Posse linenda cedre, & lavi servanda cupresso.
[Osyris. l. 75. Two houses. The males and females are on different plants. There are many instances on record, where female plants have been impregnated at very great distance from their male; the dust discharged from the anthers is very light, small, and copious, so that it may spread very wide in the atmosphere, and be carried to the distant pistils, without the supposition of any particular attraction; these plants resemble some insects, as the ants, and cochineal insect, of which the males have wings, but not the female.]
With strange deformity PLANTAGO treads, A Monster-birth! and lifts his hundred heads; Yet with soft love a gentle belle he charms, 80 And clasps the beauty in his hundred arms. So hapless DESDEMONA, fair and young, Won by OTHELLO'S captivating tongue, Sigh'd o'er each strange and piteous tale, distress'd, And sunk enamour'd on his sooty breast.
85 Two gentle shepherds and their sister-wives With thee, ANTHOXA! lead ambrosial lives;
[Plantago. l. 77. Rosea. Rose Plantain. In this vegetable monster the bractes, or divisions of the spike, become wonderfully enlarged; and are converted into leaves. The chaffy scales of the calyx in Xeranthemum, and in a species of Dianthus, and the glume in some alpine grasses, and the scales of the ament in the salix rosea, rose willow, grow into leaves; and produce other kinds of monsters. The double flowers become monsters by the multiplication of their petals or nectaries. See note on Alcea.
[Anthoxanthum. l. 83. Vernal grass. Two males, two females. The other grasses have three males and two females. The flowers of this grass give the fragrant scent to hay. I am informed it is frequently viviparous, that is, that it bears sometimes roots or bulbs instead of seeds, which after a time drop off and strike root into the ground. This circumstance is said to obtain in many of the alpine grasses, whose seeds are perpetually devoured by small birds. The Festuca Dometorum, fescue grass of the bushes, produces bulbs from the sheaths of its straw. The Allium Magicum, or magical onion, produces onions on its head, instead of seeds. The Polygonum Viviparum, viviparous bistort, rises about a foot high, with a beautiful spike of flowers, which are succeeded by buds or bulbs, which fall off and take root. There is a bulb, frequently seen on birch-trees, like a bird's nest, which seems to be a similar attempt of nature, to produce another tree; which falling off might take root in spongy ground.
There is an instance of this double mode of production in the animal kingdom, which is equally extraordinary: the same species of Aphis is viviparous in summer, and oviparous in autumn. A. T. Bladh. Amoen. Acad. V. 7.]
Where the wide heath in purple pride extends, And scatter'd furze its golden lustre blends, Closed in a green recess, unenvy'd lot! 90 The blue smoak rises from their turf-built cot; Bosom'd in fragrance blush their infant train, Eye the warm sun, or drink the silver rain.
The fair OSMUNDA seeks the silent dell, The ivy canopy, and dripping cell; 95 There hid in shades clandestine rites approves, Till the green progeny betrays her loves.
[Osmunda. l. 93. This plant grows on moist rocks; the parts of its flower or its seeds are scarce discernible; whence Linneus has given the name of clandestine marriage to this class. The younger plants are of a beautiful vivid green.]
With charms despotic fair CHONDRILLA reigns O'er the soft hearts of five fraternal swains; If sighs the changeful nymph, alike they mourn; 100 And, if she smiles, with rival raptures burn. So, tun'd in unison, Eolian Lyre! Sounds in sweet symphony thy kindred wire; Now, gently swept by Zephyr's vernal wings, Sink in soft cadences the love-sick strings; 105 And now with mingling chords, and voices higher, Peal the full anthems of the aerial choir.
[Chondrilla. l. 97. Of the class Confederate Males. The numerous florets, which constitute the disk of the flowers in this class, contain in each five males surrounding one female, which are connected at top, whence the name of the class. An Italian writer, in a discourse on the irritability of flowers, asserts, that if the top of the floret be touched, all the filaments which support the cylindrical anther will contrast themselves, and that by thus raising or depressing the anther the whole of the prolific dust is collected on the stigma. He adds, that if one filament be touched after it is separated from the floret, that it will contract like the muscular fibres of animal bodies, his experiments were tried on the Centaurea Calcitrapoides, and on artichokes, and globe-thistles. Discourse on the irratability of plants. Dodsley.]
Five sister-nymphs to join Diana's train With thee, fair LYCHNIS! vow,—but vow in vain; Beneath one roof resides the virgin band, 110 Flies the fond swain, and scorns his offer'd hand; But when soft hours on breezy pinions move, And smiling May attunes her lute to love, Each wanton beauty, trick'd in all her grace, Shakes the bright dew-drops from her blushing face; 115 In gay undress displays her rival charms, And calls her wondering lovers to her arms.
When the young Hours amid her tangled hair Wove the fresh rose-bud, and the lily fair,
[Lychnis. l. 108. Ten males and five females. The flowers which contain the five females, and those which contain the ten males, are found on different plants; and often at a great distance from each other. Five of the ten males arrive at their maturity some days before the other five, as may be seen by opening the corol before it naturally expands itself. When the females arrive at their maturity, they rise above the petals, as if looking abroad for their distant husbands; the scarlet ones contribute much to the beauty of our meadows in May and June.]
Proud GLORIOSA led three chosen swains, 120 The blushing captives of her virgin chains.— —When Time's rude hand a bark of wrinkles spread Round her weak limbs, and silver'd o'er her head, Three other youths her riper years engage, The flatter'd victims of her wily age.
125 So, in her wane of beauty, NINON won With fatal smiles her gay unconscious son.—
[Gloriosa. l. 119. Superba. Six males, one female. The petals of this beautiful flower with three of the stamens, which are first mature, stand up in apparent disorder; and the pistil bends at nearly a right angle to insert its stigma amongst them. In a few days, as these decline, the other three stamens bend over, and approach the pistil. In the Fritillaria Persica, the six stamens are of equal lengths, and the anthers lie at a distance from the pistil, and three alternate ones approach first; and, when these decline, the other three approach: in the Lithrum Salicaria, (which has twelve males and one female) a beautiful red flower, which grows on the banks of rivers, six of the males arrive at maturity, and surround the female some time before the other six; when these decline, the other six rise up, and supply their places. Several other flowers have in similar manner two sets of stamens of different ages, as Adoxa, Lychnis, Saxifraga. See Genista. Perhaps a difference in the time of their maturity obtains in all these flowers, which have numerous stamens. In the Kahnia the ten stamens lie round the pistil like the radii of a wheel; and each anther is concealed in a nich of the corol to protect it from cold and moisture; these anthers rise separately from their niches, and approach the pistil for a time, and then recede to their former situations.]
Clasp'd in his arms she own'd a mother's name,— "Desist, rash youth! restrain your impious flame, "First on that bed your infant-form was press'd, 130 "Born by my throes, and nurtured at my breast."— Back as from death he sprung, with wild amaze Fierce on the fair he fix'd his ardent gaze; Dropp'd on one knee, his frantic arms outspread, And stole a guilty glance toward the bed; 135 Then breath'd from quivering lips a whisper'd vow, And bent on heaven his pale repentant brow; "Thus, thus!" he cried, and plung'd the furious dart, And life and love gush'd mingled from his heart.
The fell SILENE and her sisters fair, 140 Skill'd in destruction, spread the viscous snare.
[Silene. l. 139. Catchfly. Three females and ten males inhabit each flower; the viscous material, which surrounds the stalks under the flowers of this plant, and of the Cucubulus Otites, is a curious contrivance to prevent various insects from plundering the honey, or devouring the seed. In the Dionaea Muscipula there is a still more wonderful contrivance to prevent the depredations of insects: The leaves are armed with long teeth, like the antennae of insects, and lie spread upon the ground round the stem; and are so irritable, that when an insect creeps upon them, they fold up, and crush or pierce it to death. The last professor Linneus, in his Supplementum Plantarum, gives the following account of the Arum Muscivorum. The flower has the smell of carrion; by which the flies are invited to lay their eggs in the chamber of the flower, but in vain endeavour to escape, being prevented by the hairs pointing inwards; and thus perish in the flower, whence its name of fly-eater. P. 411. in the Dypsacus is another contrivance for this purpose, a bason of water is placed round each joint of the stem. In the Drosera is another kind of fly-trap. See Dypsacus and Drosera; the flowers of Silene and Cucubalus are closed all day, but are open and give an agreeable odour in the night. See Cerea. See additional notes at the end of the poem.]
The harlot-band ten lofty bravoes screen, And frowning guard the magic nets unseen.— Haste, glittering nations, tenants of the air, Oh, steer from hence your viewless course afar! 145 If with soft words, sweet blushes, nods, and smiles, The three dread Syrens lure you to their toils, Limed by their art in vain you point your stings, In vain the efforts of your whirring wings!— Go, seek your gilded mates and infant hives, 150 Nor taste the honey purchas'd with your lives!
When heaven's high vault condensing clouds deform, Fair AMARYLLIS flies the incumbent storm,
[Amaryllis, l. 152. Formosissima. Most beautiful Amaryllis. Six males, one female. Some of the bell-flowers close their apertures at night, or in rainy or cold weather, as the convolvulus, and thus protect their included stamens and pistils. Other bell-flowers hang their apertures downwards, as many of the lilies; in those the pistil, when at maturity, is longer than the stamens; and by this pendant attitude of the bell, when the anthers burst, their dust falls on the stigma: and these are at the same time sheltered as with an umbrella from rain and dews. But, as a free exposure to the air is necessary for their fecundation, the style and filaments in many of these flowers continue to grow longer after the bell is open, and hang down below its rim. In others, as in the martagon, the bell is deeply divided, and the divisions are reflected upwards, that they may not prevent the access of air, and at the same time afford some shelter from perpendicular rain or dew. Other bell-flowers, as the hemerocallis and amaryllis, have their bells nodding only, as it were, or hanging obliquely toward the horizon; which, as their stems are slender, turn like a weathercock from the wind; and thus very effectually preserve their inclosed stamens and anthers from the rain and cold. Many of these flowers, both before and after their season of fecundation, erect their heads perpendicular to the horizon, like the Meadia, which cannot be explained from meer mechanism.
The Amaryllis formosissima is a flower of the last mentioned kind, and affords an agreeable example of art in the vegetable economy, 1. The pistil is of great length compared with the stamens; and this I suppose to have been the most unchangeable part of the flower, as in Meadia, which see. 2. To counteract this circumstance, the pistil and stamens are made to decline downwards, that the prolific dust might fall from the anthers on the stigma. 3. To produce this effect, and to secure it when produced, the corol is lacerated, contrary to what occurs in other flowers of this genus, and the lowest division with the two next lowest ones are wrapped closely over the style and filaments, binding them forceibly down lower toward the horizon than the usual inclination of the bell in this genus, and thus constitutes a most elegant flower. There is another contrivance for this purpose in the Hemerocallis flava: the long pistil often is bent somewhat like the capital letter N, with design to shorten it, and thus to bring the stigma amongst the anthers.]
Seeks with unsteady step the shelter'd vale, And turns her blushing beauties from the gale.— 155 Six rival youths, with soft concern impress'd, Calm all her fears, and charm her cares to rest.— So shines at eve the sun-illumin'd fane, Lifts its bright cross, and waves its golden vane; From every breeze the polish'd axle turns, 160 And high in air the dancing meteor burns.
Four of the giant brood with ILEX stand, Each grasps a thousand arrows in his hand;
[Ilex. l. 161. Holly. Four males, four females. Many plants, like many animals, are furnished with arms for their protection; these are either aculei, prickles, as in rose and barberry, which are formed from the outer bark of the plant; or spinae, thorns, as in hawthorn, which are an elongation of the wood, and hence more difficult to be torn off than the former; or stimuli, stings, as in the nettles, which are armed with a venomous fluid for the annoyance of naked animals. The shrubs and trees, which have prickles or thorns, are grateful food to many animals, as goosberry, and gorse; and would be quickly devoured, if not thus armed; the stings seem a protection against some kinds of insects, as well as the naked mouths of quadrupeds. Many plants lose their thorns by cultivation, as wild animals lose their ferocity; and some of them their horns. A curious circumstance attends the large hollies in Needwood-forest, they are armed with thorny leaves about eight feet high, and have smooth leaves above; as if they were conscious that horses and cattle could not reach their upper branches. See note on Meadia, and on Mancinella. The numerous clumps of hollies in Needwood-forest serve as landmarks to direct the travellers across it in various directions; and as a shelter to the deer and cattle in winter; and in scarce seasons supply them with much food. For when the upper branches, which are without prickles, are cut down, the deer crop the leaves and peel off the bark. The bird-lime made from the bark of hollies seems to be a very similar material to the elastic gum, or Indian rubber, as it is called. There is a fossile elastic bitumen found at Matlock in Derbyshire, which much resembles these substances in its elasticity and inflammability. The thorns of the mimosa cornigere resemble cow's horns in appearance as well as in use. System of Vegetables, p. 782.]
A thousand steely points on every scale Form the bright terrors of his bristly male.— 165 So arm'd, immortal Moore uncharm'd the spell, And slew the wily dragon of the well.— Sudden with rage their injur'd bosoms burn, Retort the insult, or the wound return; Unwrong'd, as gentle as the breeze that sweeps 170 The unbending harvests or undimpled deeps, They guard, the Kings of Needwood's wide domains, Their sister-wives and fair infantine trains; Lead the lone pilgrim through the trackless glade, Or guide in leafy wilds the wand'ring maid.
175 So WRIGHT's bold pencil from Vesuvio's hight Hurls his red lavas to the troubled night; From Calpe starts the intolerable flash, Skies burst in flames, and blazing oceans dash;— Or bids in sweet repose his shades recede, 180 Winds the still vale, and slopes the velvet mead; On the pale stream expiring Zephyrs sink, And Moonlight sleeps upon its hoary brink.
Gigantic Nymph! the fair KLEINHOVIA reigns, The grace and terror of Orixa's plains;
[Hurls his red lavas. l. 176. Alluding to the grand paintings of the eruptions of Vesuvius, and of the destruction of the Spanish vessels before Gibraltar; and to the beautiful landscapes and moonlight scenes, by Mr. Wright of Derby.]
[Kleinhovia. l. 183. In this class the males in each flower are supported by the female. The name of the class may be translated "Viragoes," or "Feminine Males."
The largest tree perhaps in the world is of the same natural order as Kleinhovia, it is the Adansonia, or Ethiopian Sour-gourd, or African Calabash tree. Mr. Adanson says the diameter of the trunk frequently exceeds 25 feet, and the horizontal branches are from 45 to 55 feet long, and so large that each branch is equal to the largest trees of Europe. The breadth of the top is from 120 to 150 feet. And one of the roots bared only in part by the wasting away of the earth by the river, near which it grew, measured 110 feet long; and yet these stupendous trees never exceed 70 feet in height. Voyage to Senegal.]
O'er her warm cheek the blush of beauty swims, And nerves Herculean bend her sinewy limbs; With frolic eye she views the affrighted throng, 190 And shakes the meadows, as she towers along, With playful violence displays her charms, And bears her trembling lovers in her arms. So fair THALESTRIS shook her plumy crest, And bound in rigid mail her jutting breast; 195 Poised her long lance amid the walks of war, And Beauty thunder'd from Bellona's car; Greece arm'd in vain, her captive heroes wove The chains of conquest with the wreaths of love.
When o'er the cultured lawns and dreary wastes 200 Retiring Autumn flings her howling blasts, Bends in tumultuous waves the struggling woods, And showers their leafy honours on the floods, In withering heaps collects the flowery spoil, And each chill insect sinks beneath the soil; 205 Quick flies fair TULIPA the loud alarms, And folds her infant closer in her arms; In some lone cave, secure pavilion, lies, And waits the courtship of serener skies.— So, six cold moons, the Dormouse charm'd to rest, 210 Indulgent Sleep! beneath thy eider breast, In fields of Fancy climbs the kernel'd groves, Or shares the golden harvest with his loves.—
[Tulipa. l. 205. Tulip. What is in common language called a bulbous root, is by Linneus termed the Hybernacle, or Winter-lodge of the young plant. As these bulbs in every respect resemble buds, except in their being produced under ground, and include the leaves and flower in miniature, which are to be expanded in the ensuing spring. By cautiously cutting in the early spring through the concentric coats of a tulip-root, longitudinally from the top to the base, and taking them off successively, the whole flower of the next summer's tulip is beautifully seen by the naked eye, with its petals, pistil, and stamens; the flowers exist in other bulbs, in the same manner, as in Hyacinths, but the individual flowers of these being less, they are not so easily differed, or so conspicuous to the naked eye.
In the seeds of the Nymphaea Nelumbo, the leaves of the plant are seen so distinctly, that Mr. Ferber found out by them to what plant the seeds belonged. Amoen. Acad. V. vi. No. 120. He says that Mariotte first observed the future flower and foliage in the bulb of a Tulip; and adds, that it is pleasant to see in the buds of the Hepatica, and Pedicularia hirsuta, yet lying in the earth; and in the gems of Daphne Mezereon; and at the base of Osmunda Lunaria, a perfect plant of the future year compleat in all its parts. Ibid.]
But bright from earth amid the troubled air Ascends fair COLCHICA with radiant hair, 215 Warms the cold bosom of the hoary year, And lights with Beauty's blaze the dusky sphere. Three blushing Maids the intrepid Nymph attend, And six gay Youths, enamour'd train! defend. So shines with silver guards the Georgian star, 220 And drives on Night's blue arch his glittering car; Hangs o'er the billowy clouds his lucid form, Wades through the mist, and dances in the storm.
[Colchicum autumnale. I. 214. Autumnal Meadow-saffron. Six males, three females. The germ is buried within the root, which thus seems to constitute a part of the flower. Families of Plants, p. 242 These singular flowers appear in the autumn without any leaves, whence in some countries they are called Naked Ladies: in the March following the green leaves spring up, and in April the seed-vessel rises from the ground; the seeds ripen in May, contrary to the usual habits of vegetables, which slower in the spring, and ripen their seeds in the autumn. Miller's Dict. The juice of the root of this plant is so acrid as to produce violent effects on the human constitution, which also prevents it from being eaten by subterranean insects, and thus guards the seed-vessel during the winter. The defoliation of deciduous trees is announced by the flowering of the Colchicum; of these the ash is the last that puts forth its leaves, and the first that loses them. Phil. Bot. p. 275.
The Hamamelis, Witch Hazle, is another plant which flowers in autumn; when the leaves fall off, the flowers come out in clusters from the joints of the branches, and in Virginia ripen their seed in the ensuing spring; but in this country their seeds seldom ripen. Lin. Spec. Plant. Miller's Dict.]
GREAT HELIANTHUS guides o'er twilight plains In gay solemnity his Dervise-trains; 225 Marshall'd in fives each gaudy band proceeds, Each gaudy band a plumed Lady leads; With zealous step he climbs the upland lawn, And bows in homage to the rising dawn; Imbibes with eagle-eye the golden ray, 230 And watches, as it moves, the orb of day.
[Helianthus. l. 223. Sun flower. The numerous florets, which constitute the disk of this flower, contain in each five males surrounding one female, the five stamens have their anthers connected at top, whence the name of the class "confederate males;" see note on Chondrilla. The sun-flower follows the course of the sun by nutation, not by twisting its stem. (Hales veg. stat.) Other plants, when they are confined in a room, turn the shining surface of their leaves, and bend their whole branches to the light. See Mimosa.]
[A plumed Lady leads. l. 226. The seeds of many plants of this class are furnished with a plume, by which admirable mechanism they are disseminated by the winds far from their parent stem, and look like a shuttlecock, as they fly. Other seeds are disseminated by animals; of these some attach themselves to their hair or feathers by a gluten, as misleto; others by hooks, as cleavers, burdock, hounds-tongue; and others are swallowed whole for the sake of the fruit, and voided uninjured, as the hawthorn, juniper, and some grasses. Other seeds again disperse themselves by means of an elastic seed-vessel, as Oats, Geranium, and Impatiens; and the seeds of aquatic plants, and of those which grow on the banks of rivers, are carried many miles by the currents, into which they fall. See Impatiens. Zostera. Cassia. Carlina.]
Queen of the marsh, imperial DROSERA treads Rush-fringed banks, and moss-embroider'd beds; Redundant folds of glossy silk surround Her slender waist, and trail upon the ground; 235 Five sister-nymphs collect with graceful ease, Or spread the floating purple to the breeze; And five fair youths with duteous love comply With each soft mandate of her moving eye. As with sweet grace her snowy neck she bows, 240 A zone of diamonds trembles round her brows; Bright shines the silver halo, as she turns; And, as she steps, the living lustre burns.
[Drosera. l. 231. Sun-dew. Five males, five females. The leaves of this marsh-plant are purple, and have a fringe very unlike other vegetable productions. And, which is curious, at the point of every thread of this erect fringe stands a pellucid drop of mucilage, resembling a ducal coronet. This mucus is a secretion from certain glands, and like the viscous material round the flower-stalks of Silene (catchfly) prevents small insects from infesting the leaves. As the ear-wax in animals seems to be in part designed to prevent fleas and other insects from getting into their ears. See Silene. Mr. Wheatly, an eminent surgeon in Cateaton-street, London, observed these leaves to bend upwards, when an insect settled on them, like the leaves of the muscipula veneris, and pointing all their globules of mucus to the centre, that they compleatly intangled and destroyed it. M. Broussonet, in the Mem. de l'Acad. des Sciences for the year 1784. p. 615. after hiving described the motion of the Dionaea, adds, that a similar appearance has been observed in the leaves of two species of Drosera.]
Fair LONICERA prints the dewy lawn, And decks with brighter blush the vermil dawn; 245 Winds round the shadowy rocks, and pansied vales, And scents with sweeter breath the summer-gales;
[Lonicera. l. 243. Caprifolium. Honeysuckle. Five males, one female. Nature has in many flowers used a wonderful apparatus to guard the nectary, or honey-gland, from insects. In the honey-suckle the petal terminates in a long tube like a cornucopiae, or horn of plenty; and the honey is produced at the bottom of it. In Aconitum, monkshood, the nectaries stand upright like two horns covered with a hood, which abounds with such acrid matter that no insects penetrate it. In Helleborus, hellebore, the many nectaries are placed in a circle, like little pitchers, and add much to the beauty of the flower. In the Columbine, Aquilegia, the nectary is imagined to be like the neck and body of a bird, and the two petals standing upon each side to represent wings; whence its name of columbine, as if resembling a nest of young pigeons fluttering whilst their parent feeds them. The importance of the nectary in the economy of vegetation is explained at large in the notes on part the first.
Many insects are provided with a long and pliant proboscis for the purpose of acquiring this grateful food, as a variety of bees, moths, and butterflies: but the Sphinx Convolvuli, or unicorn moth, is furnished with the most remarkable proboscis in this climate. It carries it rolled up in concentric circles under its chin, and occasionally extends it to above three inches in length. This trunk consists of joints and muscles, and seems to have more versatile movements than the trunk of the elephant; and near its termination is split into two capillary tubes. The excellence of this contrivance for robbing the flowers of their honey, keeps this beautiful insect fat and bulky; though it flies only in the evening, when the flowers have closed their petals, and are thence more difficult of access; at the same time the brilliant colours of the moth contribute to its safety, by making it mistaken by the late sleeping birds for the flower it rests on.
Besides these there is a curious contrivance attending the Ophrys, commonly called the Bee-orchis, and the Fly-orchis, with some kinds of the Delphinium, called Bee-larkspurs, to preserve their honey; in these the nectary and petals resemble in form and colour the insects, which plunder them: and thus it may be supposed, they often escape these hourly robbers, by having the appearance of being pre-occupied. See note on Rubia, and Conserva polymorpha.]
With artless grace and native ease she charms, And bears the Horn of Plenty in her arms. Five rival Swains their tender cares unfold, 250 And watch with eye askance the treasured gold.
Where rears huge Tenerif his azure crest, Aspiring DRABA builds her eagle nest; Her pendant eyry icy caves surround, Where erst Volcanos min'd the rocky ground. 255 Pleased round the Fair four rival Lords ascend The shaggy steeps, two menial youths attend. High in the setting ray the beauty stands, And her tall shadow waves on distant lands.
[Draba. I. 252. Alpina. Alpine Whitlow-grass. One female and six males. Four of these males stand above the other two; whence the name of the class "four powers." I have observed in several plants of this class, that the two lower males arise, in a few-days after the opening of the flower, to the same height as the other four, not being mature as soon as the higher ones. See note on Gloriosa. All the plants of this class possess similar virtues; they are termed acrid and anti corbutic in their raw state, as mustard, watercress; when cultivated and boiled, they become a mild wholesome food, as cabbage, turnep.
There was formerly a Volcano on the Peake of Tenerif, which became extinct about the year 1684. Philos. Trans. In many excavations of the mountain, much below the summit, there is now found abundance of ice at all seasons. Tench's Expedition to Botany Bay, p. 12. Are these congelations in consequence of the daily solution of the hoar-frost which is produced on the summit during the night?]
Stay, bright inhabitant of air, alight, 260 Ambitious VISCA, from thy eagle-flight!— ——Scorning the sordid soil, aloft she springs, Shakes her white plume, and claps her golden wings; High o'er the fields of boundless ether roves, And seeks amid the clouds her soaring loves!
265 Stretch'd on her mossy couch, in trackless deeps, Queen of the coral groves, ZOSTERA sleeps;
[Viscum. l. 260. Misletoe. Two houses. This plant never grows upon the ground; the foliage is yellow, and the berries milk-white; the berries are so viscous, as to serve for bird-lime; and when they fall, adhere to the branches of the tree, on which the plant grows, and strike root into its bark; or are carried to distant trees by birds. The Tillandsia, or wild pine, grows on other trees, like the Misletoe, but takes little or no nourishment from them, having large buckets in its leaves to collect and retain the rain water. See note on Dypsacus. The mosses, which grow on the bark of trees, take much nourishment from them; hence it is observed that trees, which are annually cleared from moss by a brush, grow nearly twice as fast. (Phil. Transact.) In the cyder countries the peasants brush their apple-trees annually.]
[Zostera. l. 266. Grass-wrack. Class, Feminine Males. Order, Many Males. It grows at the bottom of the sea, and rising to the surface, when in flower, covers many leagues; and is driven at length to the shore. During its time of floating on the sea, numberless animals live on the under surface of it; and being specifically lighter than the sea water, or being repelled by it, have legs placed as it were on their backs for the purpose of walking under it. As the Scyllcea. See Barbut's Genera Vermium. It seems necessary that the marriages of plants should be celebrated in the open air, either because the powder of the anther, or the mucilage on the stigma, or the reservoir of honey might receive injury from the water. Mr. Needham observed, that in the ripe dust of every flower, examined by the microscope, some vesicles are perceived, from which a fluid had escaped; and that those, which still retain it, explode if they be wetted, like an eolopile suddenly exposed to a strong heat. These observations have been verified by Spallanzani and others. Hence rainy seasons make a scarcity of grain, or hinder its fecundity, by bursting the pollen before it arrives at the moist stigma of the flower. Spallanzani's Dissertations, v. II. p. 321. Thus the flowers of the male Vallisneria are produced under water, and when ripe detach themselves from the plant, and rising to the surface are wafted by the air to the female flowers. See Vallisneria.]
The silvery sea-weed matted round her bed, And distant surges murmuring o'er her head.— High in the flood her azure dome ascends, 270 The crystal arch on crystal columns bends; Roof'd with translucent shell the turrets blaze, And far in ocean dart their colour'd rays; O'er the white floor successive shadows move, As rise and break the ruffled waves above.— 275 Around the nymph her mermaid-trains repair, And weave with orient pearl her radiant hair; With rapid fins she cleaves the watery way, Shoots like a diver meteor up to day; Sounds a loud conch, convokes a scaly band, 280 Her sea-born lovers, and ascends the strand.
E'en round the pole the flames of Love aspire, And icy bosoms feel the secret fire!— Cradled in snow and fann'd by arctic air Shines, gentle BAROMETZ! thy golden hair; 285 Rooted in earth each cloven hoof descends, And round and round her flexile neck she bends; Crops the grey coral moss, and hoary thyme, Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime; Eyes with mute tenderness her distant dam, 290 Or seems to bleat, a Vegetable Lamb.
[Barometz. l. 284. Polypodium Barometz. Tartarian Lamb. Clandestine Marriage. This species of Fern is a native of China, with a decumbent root, thick, and every where covered with the most soft and dense wool, intensely yellow. Lin. Spec. Plant.
This curious stem is sometimes pushed out of the ground in its horizontal situation by some of the inferior branches of the root, so as to give it some resemblance to a Lamb standing on four legs; and has been said to destroy all other plants in its vicinity. Sir Hans Sloane describes it under the name of Tartarian Lamb, and has given a print of it. Philos. Trans. abridged, v. II. p. 646. but thinks some art had been used to give it an animal appearance. Dr. Hunter, in his edition of the Terra of Evelyn, has given a more curious print of it, much resembling a sheep. The down is used in India externally for stopping hemorrhages, and is called golden moss.
The thick downy clothing of some vegetables seems designed to protect them from the injuries of cold, like the wool of animals. Those bodies, which are bad conductors of electricity, are also bad conductors of heat, as glass, wax, air. Hence either of the two former of these may be melted by the flame of a blow-pipe very near the fingers which hold it without burning them; and the last, by being confined on the surface of animal bodies, in the interstices of their fur or wool, prevents the escape of their natural warmth; to which should be added, that the hairs themselves are imperfect conductors. The fat or oil of whales, and other northern animals, seems designed for the same purpose of preventing the too sudden escape of the heat of the body in cold climates. Snow protects vegetables which are covered by it from cold, both because it is a bad conductor of heat itself, and contains much air in its pores. If a piece of camphor be immersed in a snow-ball, except one extremity of it, on setting fire to this, as the snow melts, the water becomes absorbed into the surrounding snow by capillary attraction; on this account, when living animals are buried in snow, they are not moistened by it; but the cavity enlarges as the snow dissolves, affording them both a dry and warm habitation.]
—So, warm and buoyant in his oily mail, Gambols on seas of ice the unwieldy Whale; Wide-waving fins round floating islands urge His bulk gigantic through the troubled surge; 295 With hideous yawn the flying shoals He seeks, Or clasps with fringe of horn his massy cheeks; Lifts o'er the tossing wave his nostrils bare, And spouts pellucid columns into air; The silvery arches catch the setting beams, 300 And transient rainbows tremble o'er the streams.
Weak with nice sense, the chaste MIMOSA stands, From each rude touch withdraws her timid hands; Oft as light clouds o'er-pass the Summer-glade, Alarm'd she trembles at the moving shade; 305 And feels, alive through all her tender form, The whisper'd murmurs of the gathering storm; Shuts her sweet eye-lids to approaching night; And hails with freshen'd charms the rising light.
[Mimosa. I. 301. The sensitive plant. Of the class Polygamy, one house. Naturalists have not explained the immediate cause of the collapsing of the sensitive plant; the leaves meet and close in the night during the sleep of the plant, or when exposed to much cold in the day-time, in the same manner as when they are affected by external violence, folding their upper surfaces together, and in part over each other like scales or tiles; so as to expose as little of the upper surface as may be to the air; but do not indeed collapse quite so far, since I have found, when touched in the night during their sleep, they fall still further; especially when touched on the foot-stalks between the stems and the leaflets, which seems to be their most sensitive or irritable part. Now as their situation after being exposed to external violence resembles their sleep, but with a greater degree of collapse, may it not be owing to a numbness or paralysis consequent to too violent irritation, like the faintings of animals from pain or fatigue? I kept a sensitive plant in a dark room till some hours after day-break: its leaves and leaf-stalks were collapsed as in its most profound sleep, and on exposing it to the light, above twenty minutes passed before the plant was thoroughly awake and had quite expanded itself. During the night the upper or smoother surfaces of the leaves are appressed together; this would seem to shew that the office of this surface of the leaf was to expose the fluids of the plant to the light as well as to the air. See note on Helianthus. Many flowers close up their petals during the night. See note on vegetable respiration in Part I.]
Veil'd, with gay decency and modest pride, 310 Slow to the mosque she moves, an eastern bride; There her soft vows unceasing love record, Queen of the bright seraglio of her Lord.— So sinks or rises with the changeful hour The liquid silver in its glassy tower. 315 So turns the needle to the pole it loves, With fine librations quivering as it moves.
All wan and shivering in the leafless glade The sad ANEMONE reclined her head; Grief on her cheeks had paled the roseate hue, 320 And her sweet eye-lids dropp'd with pearly dew. —"See, from bright regions, borne on odorous gales The Swallow, herald of the summer, sails;
[Anemone. l. 318. Many males, many females. Pliny says this flower never opens its petals but when the wind blows; whence its name: it has properly no calix, but two or three sets of petals, three in each set, which are folded over the stamens and pistil in a singular and beautiful manner, and differs also from ranunculus in not having a melliferous pore on the claw of each petal. ]
[The Swallow. l. 322. There is a wonderful conformity between the vegetation of some plants, and the arrival of certain birds of passage. Linneus observes that the wood anemone blows in Sweden on the arrival of the swallow; and the marsh mary-gold, Caltha, when the cuckoo sings. Near the same coincidence was observed in England by Stillingfleet. The word Coccux in Greek signifies both a young fig and a cuckoo, which is supposed to have arisen from the coincidence of their appearance in Greece. Perhaps a similar coincidence of appearance in some parts of Asia gave occasion to the story of the loves of the rose and nightingale, so much celebrated by the eastern poets. See Dianthus. The times however of the appearance of vegetables in the spring seem occasionally to be influenced by their acquired habits, as well as by their sensibility to heat: for the roots of potatoes, onions, &c. will germinate with much less heat in the spring than in the autumn; as is easily observable where these roots are stored for use; and hence malt is best made in the spring. 2d. The grains and roots brought from more southern latitudes germinate here sooner than those which are brought from more northern ones, owing to their acquired habits. Fordyce on Agriculture. 3d. It was observed by one of the scholars of Linneus, that the apple-trees sent from hence to New England blossomed for a few years too early for that climate, and bore no fruit; but afterwards learnt to accommodate themselves to their new situation. (Kalm's Travels.) 4th. The parts of animals become more sensible to heat after having been previously exposed to cold, as our hands glow on coming into the house after having held snow in them; this seems to happen to vegetables; for vines in grape-houses, which have been exposed to the winter's cold, will become forwarder and more vigorous than those which have been kept during the winter in the house. (Kenedy on Gardening.) This accounts for the very rapid vegetation in the northern latitudes after the solution of the snows.
The increase of the irritability of plants in respect to heat, after having been previously exposed to cold, is further illustrated by an experiment of Dr. Walker's. He cut apertures into a birch-tree at different heights; and on the 26th of March some of these apertures bled, or oozed with the sap-juice, when the thermometer was at 39; which same apertures did not bleed on the 13th of March, when the thermometer was at 44. The reason of this I apprehend was, because on the night of the 25th the thermometer was as low as 34; whereas on the night of the 12th it was at 41; though the ingenious author ascribes it to another cause. Trans. of Royal Soc. of Edinburgh, v. 1. p. 19.]
"Breathe, gentle AIR! from cherub-lips impart Thy balmy influence to my anguish'd heart; 325 Thou, whose soft voice calls forth the tender blooms, Whose pencil paints them, and whose breath perfumes; O chase the Fiend of Frost, with leaden mace Who seals in death-like sleep my hapless race; Melt his hard heart, release his iron hand, 330 And give my ivory petals to expand. So may each bud, that decks the brow of spring, Shed all its incense on thy wafting wing!"—
To her fond prayer propitious Zephyr yields, Sweeps on his sliding shell through azure fields, 335 O'er her fair mansion waves his whispering wand, And gives her ivory petals to expand; Gives with new life her filial train to rise, And hail with kindling smiles the genial skies. So shines the Nymph in beauty's blushing pride, 340 When Zephyr wafts her deep calash aside; Tears with rude kiss her bosom's gauzy veil, And flings the fluttering kerchief to the gale. So bright, the folding canopy undrawn, Glides the gilt Landau o'er the velvet lawn,
345 Of beaux and belles displays the glittering throng; And soft airs fan them, as they roll along.
Where frowning Snowden bends his dizzy brow O'er Conway, listening to the surge below; Retiring LICHEN climbs the topmost stone, 350 And 'mid the airy ocean dwells alone.— Bright shine the stars unnumber'd o'er her head, And the cold moon-beam gilds her flinty bed; While round the rifted rocks hoarse whirlwinds breathe, And dark with thunder sail the clouds beneath.— 355 The steepy path her plighted swain pursues, And tracks her light step o'er th' imprinted dews, Delighted Hymen gives his torch to blaze, Winds round the craggs, and lights the mazy ways;
[Lichen. l. 349. Calcareum. Liver-wort. Clandestine Marriage. This plant is the first that vegetates on naked rocks, covering them with a kind of tapestry, and draws its nourishment perhaps chiefly from the air; after it perishes, earth enough is left for other mosses to root themselves; and after some ages a soil is produced sufficient for the growth of more succulent and large vegetables. In this manner perhaps the whole earth has been gradually covered with vegetation, after it was raised out of the primeval ocean by subterraneous fires.]
Sheds o'er their secret vows his influence chaste, 360 And decks with roses the admiring waste.
High in the front of heaven when Sirius glares, And o'er Britannia shakes his fiery hairs; When no soft shower descends, no dew distills, Her wave-worn channels dry, and mute her rills; 365 When droops the sickening herb, the blossom fades, And parch'd earth gapes beneath the withering glades. —With languid step fair DYPSACA retreats; "Fall gentle dews!" the fainting nymph repeats; Seeks the low dell, and in the sultry shade 370 Invokes in vain the Naiads to her aid.—
[Dypsacus. l. 367. Teasel. One female, and four males. There is a cup around every joint of the stem of this plant, which contains from a spoonful to half a pint of water; and serves both for the nutriment of the plant in dry seasons, and to prevent insects from creeping up to devour its seed. See Silene. The Tillandsia, or wild pine, of the West Indies has every leaf terminated near the stalk with a hollow bucket, which contains from half a pint to a quart of water. Dampier's Voyage to Campeachy. Dr. Sloane mentions one kind of aloe furnished with leaves, which, like the wild pine and Banana, hold water; and thence afford necessary refreshment to travellers in hot countries. Nepenthes had a bucket for the same purpose at the end of every leaf, Burm. Zeyl. 41. 17.]
Four silvan youths in crystal goblets bear The untasted treasure to the grateful fair; Pleased from their hands with modest grace she sips, And the cool wave reflects her coral lips.
375 With nice selection modest RUBIA blends, Her vermil dyes, and o'er the cauldron bends; Warm 'mid the rising steam the Beauty glows, As blushes in a mist the dewy rose.
[Rubia. l. 375. Madder. Four males and one female. This plant is cultivated in very large quantities for dying red. If mixed with the food of young pigs or chickens, it colours their bones red. If they are fed alternate fortnights with a mixture of madder, and with their usual food alone, their bones will consist of concentric circles of white and red. Belchier. Phil. Trans. 1736. Animals fed with madder for the purpose of these experiments were found upon dissection to have thinner gall. Comment. de rebus. Lipsiae. This circumstance is worth further attention. The colouring materials of vegetables, like those which serve the purpose of tanning, varnishing, and the various medical purposes, do not seem essential to the life of the plant; but seem given it as a defence against the depredations of insects or other animals, to whom these materials are nauseous or deleterious. To insects and many smaller animals their colours contribute to conceal them from the larger ones which prey upon them. Caterpillars which feed on leaves are generally green; and earth-worms the colour of the earth which they inhabit; Butterflies which frequent flowers, are coloured like them; small birds which frequent hedges have greenish backs like the leaves, and light coloured bellies like the sky, and are hence less visible to the hawk, who passes under them or over them. Those birds which are much amongst flowers, as the gold-finch (Fringilla carduelis), are furnished with vivid colours. The lark, partridge, hare, are the colour of the dry vegetables or earth on which they rest. And frogs vary their colour with the mud of the streams which they frequent; and those which live on trees are green. Fish, which are generally suspended in water, and swallows, which are generally suspended in air, have their backs the colour of the distant ground, and their bellies of the sky. In the colder climates many of these become white during the existence of the snows. Hence there is apparent design in the colours of animals, whilst those of vegetables seem consequent to the other properties of the materials which possess them.]
With chemic art four favour'd youths aloof 380 Stain the white fleece, or stretch the tinted woof; O'er Age's cheek the warmth of youth diffuse, Or deck the pale-eyed nymph in roseate hues. So when MEDEA to exulting Greece From plunder'd COLCHIS bore the golden fleece; 385 On the loud shore a magic pile she rais'd, The cauldron bubbled, and the faggots blaz'd;—- Pleased on the boiling wave old AESON swims, And feels new vigour stretch his swelling limbs;
[Pleased on the boiling wave. l. 387. The story of AEson becoming young, from the medicated bath of Medea, seems to have been intended to teach the efficacy of warm bathing in retarding the progress of old age. The words relaxation and bracing, which are generally thought expressive of the effects of warm and cold bathing, are mechanical terms, properly applied to drums or strings; but are only metaphors when applied to the effects of cold or warm bathing on animal bodies. The immediate cause of old age seems to reside in the inirritability of the finer vessels or parts of our system; hence these cease to act, and collapse or become horny or bony. The warm bath is peculiarly adapted to prevent these circumstances by its increasing our irritability, and by moistening and softening the skin, and the extremities of the finer vessels, which terminate in it. To those who are past the meridian of life, and have dry skins, and begin to be emaciated, the warm bath, for half an hour twice a week, I believe to be eminently serviceable in retarding the advances of age.]
Through his thrill'd nerves forgotten ardors dart, 390 And warmer eddies circle round his heart; With softer fires his kindling eye-balls glow, And darker tresses wanton round his brow.
As dash the waves on India's breezy strand, Her flush'd cheek press'd upon her lily hand, 395 VALLISNER sits, up-turns her tearful eyes, Calls her lost lover, and upbraids the skies;
[Vallisniria. l. 395. This extraordinary plant is of the class Two Houses. It is found in the East Indies, in Norway, and various parts of Italy. Lin. Spec. Plant. They have their roots at the bottom of the Rhone, the flowers of the female plant float on the surface of the water, and are furnished with an elastic spiral stalk, which extends or contracts as the water rises and falls; this rise or fall, from the rapid descent of the river, and the mountain torrents which flow into it, often amounts to many feet in a few hours. The flowers of the male plant are produced under water, and as soon as their farina, or dust, is mature; they detach themselves from the plant, and rise to the surface, continue to flourish, and are wafted by the air, or borne by the currents to the female flowers. In this resembling those tribes of insects, where the males at certain seasons acquire wings, but not the females, as ants, Cocchus, Lampyris, Phalaena, Brumata, Lichanella. These male flowers are in such numbers, though very minute, as frequently to cover the surface of the river to considerable extent. See Families of Plants translated from Linneus, p. 677.]
For him she breathes the silent sigh, forlorn, Each setting-day; for him each rising morn.— "Bright orbs, that light yon high etherial plain, 400 Or bathe your radiant tresses in the main; Pale moon, that silver'st o'er night's sable brow;— For ye were witness to his parting vow!— Ye shelving rocks, dark waves, and sounding shore,— Ye echoed sweet the tender words he swore!— 405 Can stars or seas the sails of love retain? O guide my wanderer to my arms again!"—
Her buoyant skiff intrepid ULVA guides, And seeks her Lord amid the trackless tides;
[Ulva, l. 407. Clandestine marriage. This kind of sea-weed is buoyed up by bladders of air, which are formed in the duplicatures of its leaves; and forms immense floating fields of vegetation; the young ones, branching out from the larger ones, and borne on similar little air-vessels. It is also found in the warm baths of Patavia; where the leaves are formed into curious cells or labyrinths for the purpose of floating on the water. See ulva labyrinthi-formis Lin. Spec. Plant. The air contained in these cells was found by Dr. Priestley to be sometimes purer than common air, and sometimes less pure; the air-bladders of fish seem to be similar organs, and serve to render them buoyant in the water. In some of these, as in the Cod and Haddock, a red membrane, consisting of a great number of leaves or duplicatures, is found within the air-bag, which probably secretes this air from the blood of the animal. (Monro. Physiol. of Fish. p. 28.) To determine whether this air, when first separated from the blood of the animal or plant, be dephlogisticated air, is worthy inquiry. The bladder-sena (Colutea), and bladder-nut (Staphylaea), have their seed-vessels distended with air; the Ketmia has the upper joint of the stem immediately under the receptacle of the flower much distended with air; these seem to be analogous to the air-vessel at the broad end of the egg, and may probably become less pure as the seed ripens: some, which I tried, had the purity of the surrounding atmosphere. The air at the broad end of the egg is probably an organ serving the purpose of respiration to the young chick, some of whose vessels are spread upon it like a placenta, or permeate it. Many are of opinion that even the placenta of the human fetus, and cotyledons of quadrupeds, are respiratory organs rather than nutritious ones.
The air in the hollow stems of grasses, and of some umbelliferous plants, bears analogy to the air in the quills, and in some of the bones of birds; supplying the place of the pith, which shrivels up after it has performed its office of protruding the young stem or feather. Some of these cavities of the bones are said to communicate with the lungs in birds. Phil. Trans.
The air-bladders of fish are nicely adapted to their intended purpose; for though they render them buoyant near the surface without the labour of using their fins, yet, when they rest at greater depths, they are no inconvenience, as the increased pressure of the water condenses the air which they contain into less space. Thus, if a cork or bladder of air was immersed a very great depth in the ocean, it would be so much compressed, as to become specifically as heavy as the water, and would remain there. It is probable the unfortunate Mr. Day, who was drowned in a diving-ship of his own construction, miscarried from not attending to this circumstance: it is probable the quantity of air he took down with him, if he descended much lower than he expected, was condensed into so small a space as not to render the ship buoyant when he endeavoured to ascend.]
Her secret vows the Cyprian Queen approves, 410 And hovering halcyons guard her infant-loves; Each in his floating cradle round they throng, And dimpling Ocean bears the fleet along.— Thus o'er the waves, which gently bend and swell, Fair GALATEA steers her silver shell;
415 Her playful Dolphins stretch the silken rein, Hear her sweet voice, and glide along the main. As round the wild meandering coast she moves By gushing rills, rude cliffs, and nodding groves; Each by her pine the Wood-nymphs wave their locks, 420 And wondering Naiads peep amid the rocks; Pleased trains of Mermaids rise from coral cells, Admiring Tritons sound their twisted shells; Charm'd o'er the car pursuing Cupids sweep, Their snow-white pinions twinkling in the deep; 425 And, as the lustre of her eye she turns, Soft sighs the Gale, and amorous Ocean burns.
On DOVE'S green brink the fair TREMELLA stood, And view'd her playful image in the flood;
[Tremella, l. 427. Clandestine marriage. I have frequently observed fungusses of this Genus on old rails and on the ground to become a transparent jelly, after they had been frozen in autumnal mornings; which is a curious property, and distinguishes them from some other vegetable mucilage; for I have observed that the paste, made by boiling wheat-flour in water, ceases to be adhesive after having been frozen. I suspected that the Tremella Nostoc, or star-jelly, also had been thus produced; but have since been well informed, that the Tremella Nostoc is a mucilage voided by Herons after they have eaten frogs; hence it has the appearance of having been pressed through a hole; and limbs of frogs are said sometimes to be found amongst it; it is always seen upon plains or by the sides of water, places which Herons generally frequent.
Some of the Fungusses are so acrid, that a drop of their juice blisters the tongue; others intoxicate those who eat them. The Ostiacks in Siberia use them for the latter purpose; one Fungus of the species, Agaricus muscarum, eaten raw; or the decoction of three of them, produces intoxication for 12 or 16 hours. History of Russia. V. 1. Nichols. 1780. As all acrid plants become less so, if exposed to a boiling heat, it is probable the common mushroom may sometimes disagree from being not sufficiently stewed. The Oftiacks blister their skin by a fungus found on Birch-trees; and use the Agiricus officin. for Soap. ib.
There was a dispute whether the fungusses should be classed in the animal or vegetable department. Their animal taste in cookery, and their animal smell when burnt, together with their tendency to putrefaction, insomuch that the Phallus impudicus has gained the name of stink-horn; and lastly, their growing and continuing healthy without light, as the Licoperdon tuber or truffle, and the fungus vinosus or mucor in dark cellars, and the esculent mushrooms on beds covered thick with straw, would seem to shew that they approach towards the animals, or make a kind of isthmus connecting the two mighty kingdoms of animal and of vegetable nature.]
To each rude rock, lone dell, and echoing grove 430 Sung the sweet sorrows of her secret love. "Oh, stay!—return!"—along the sounding shore Cry'd the sad Naiads,—she return'd no more!— Now girt with clouds the sullen Evening frown'd, And withering Eurus swept along the ground; 435 The misty moon withdrew her horned light, And sunk with Hesper in the skirt of night;
No dim electric streams, (the northern dawn,) With meek effulgence quiver'd o'er the lawn; No star benignant shot one transient ray 440 To guide or light the wanderer on her way. Round the dark craggs the murmuring whirlwinds blow, Woods groan above, and waters roar below; As o'er the steeps with pausing foot she moves, The pitying Dryads shriek amid their groves; 445 She flies,—she stops,—she pants—she looks behind, And hears a demon howl in every wind. —As the bleak blast unfurls her fluttering vest, Cold beats the snow upon her shuddering breast; Through her numb'd limbs the chill sensations dart, 450 And the keen ice bolt trembles at her heart. "I sink, I fall! oh, help me, help!" she cries, Her stiffening tongue the unfinish'd sound denies; Tear after tear adown her cheek succeeds, And pearls of ice bestrew the glittering meads; 455 Congealing snows her lingering feet surround, Arrest her flight, and root her to the ground; With suppliant arms she pours the silent prayer; Her suppliant arms hang crystal in the air; Pellucid films her shivering neck o'erspread, 460 Seal her mute lips, and silver o'er her head, Veil her pale bosom, glaze her lifted hands, And shrined in ice the beauteous statue stands. —DOVE'S azure nymphs on each revolving year For fair TREMELLA shed the tender tear; 465 With rush-wove crowns in sad procession move, And sound the sorrowing shell to hapless love."
Here paused the MUSE,—across the darken'd pole Sail the dim clouds, the echoing thunders roll; The trembling Wood-nymphs, as the tempest lowers, 470 Lead the gay Goddess to their inmost bowers; Hang the mute lyre the laurel shade beneath, And round her temples bind the myrtle wreath. —Now the light swallow with her airy brood Skims the green meadow, and the dimpled flood; 475 Loud shrieks the lone thrush from his leafless thorn, Th' alarmed beetle sounds his bugle horn; Each pendant spider winds with fingers fine His ravel'd clue, and climbs along the line; Gay Gnomes in glittering circles stand aloof 480 Beneath a spreading mushroom's fretted roof; Swift bees returning seek their waxen cells, And Sylphs cling quivering in the lily's bells. Through the still air descend the genials showers, And pearly rain-drops deck the laughing flowers.