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BOTANY.--No. XXXI. CONVOLVULACEÆ, BINDWEED AND
but extremely delicate. Another species, which is found upon the sea-shores in tro
pical climates, is shrubby, and stretches Tuis order, as its name implies, is disa along the ground to an amazing length; tinguished by the long and often twining while a third, found by the writer in the nature of the stem. But, in this respect, province of San Blas, Mexico, puts on the there is great variation, for the stem of the goodly port. of a large tree, whose long corn bindweed is not only thin and slender, 1 pendent branches are thickly ornamented
with large white flowers. The seed-vessel, they are differently written, the pronunciaforms a note-worthy character in this fa- tion is the same ; for among the Spaniards, mily, which is of great assistance in ascer- the j and x have the sound of our b in taining whether a plant belongs to it or horse, so that jalapa and Xalapa are both not; for it is partitioned off into from two to pronounced halapa. The roots attain a four cells, by walls, which run from the prodigious size, so as to weigh, in some centre, and meet the sides of the seed- instances, fifty pounds; but those which vessel, without being united to it. When are brought to this country seldom weigh the fruit is ripe, this circumstance is very more than six or eight ounces, for the evident, for it is seen opening at the junc- smaller roots contain more of the specific tion of the valves, to allow the escape of properties of the drug. Not only the conthe seeds, while the portions are observed volvulus jalapa and C. scammonea, just to point to the middle of each valve, with mentioned, are known and used in mediout being united to them.
cine; but in most countries where any of In England we have three species of thespecies are indigenous,they are employed convolvulus, which have the capsule only by the natives. The writer found that two-celled, surmounted by a style that is the convolvulus braziliensis was in some ultimately divided into two round stigmas, places called a jalapa, and used for the corresponding in number to the cells.
same purposes as the jalapa itself. This C. arvensis, small bindweed, entwines the is a very handsome plant, with broad culms of corn, and produces leaves which leaves, and large purple flowers, and with are shaped like an arrow; C. sepium, a long shrubby stem, which lies among great bindweed, common in hedges; its the white sand of the sun-dried beach, in leaves appear as if a piece had been cut many of the tropical regions. off behind; C. soldanella, sea bindweed, All the three natives of this country found on the sea-shore; the leaves are contain properties of the same nature as kidney-shaped, and they lie flat on the the jalapa ; the sea bindweed for a long ground, and show a disposition to twine. time was scarcely used, from a belief that The Powers are large and rose-coloured, a dose prepared from the root would be too with yellow plaits. The dodder belongs powerful to be administered with safety. to this family, and is externally related to The greater bind ed, which seems to have it by the twining nature of the stems. Of been the smilax of Dioscorides, and the one species of this curious parasitic, we easione of Theophrastus, has sometimes have given a figure, which will give an been called the scammony of Europe, and idea of its form to those who do not hap- prescribed as a substitute for that drug, pen to have met with it in its living state. It might seem singular that we should It derives its support from the plant upon send to Asia Minor for a medicine, while which it grows: whether it borrows any one of the same efficacy is growing in the of its sap might be questioned, since many next hedge, not three yards, perhaps, from plants run, vegetate, and flourish, merely our doors, did we not know that it is chaby the nutriment they obtain from the sur- racteristic of man to overlook the advanrounding atmosphere. We should hardly, tages that lie near him, and to seek after at first sight, persuade ourselves that this those things that are far from his reach. pale and almost formless stem belonged to The intelligent reader knows that there is a a plant, did we not see blossoms upon it, fashion, not only in the style of dress or which, in respect of size and perfection, are costume, but also in the opinions of manin no wise related to the meagre stem kind. It is not surprising, then, that drugs which produces them. In tropical climates have not been exempted from its influence; it is no uncommon thing to see the plants a medicine which in one age makes a figure and shrubs beset with a species of dodder, in almost every prescription, in the next, but in this country the sight is not com- may be scarcely thought worthy of mention. mon, except in some particular places. This observation is exemplified by the
As abounding with useful plants, this jalapa, as not one-tenth of the quantity family is entitled to a special notice. Their which was a few years ago brought to roots contain a resin that is purgative; of Europe, is now imported. But such is this we have examples in the jalap and the profusion in which salutary herbs are scammony, of which the former is a native
sown upon the face of the earth, that the of Xalapa, a province of Mexico, while physician may select either that he prefers, the latter is brought from the Levant. It without affecting the safety of the patient. should be remarked here, in reference to After speaking of the root as containing the words Xalapa and jalapa, that though a powerful medicine, which, if taken in
ROMISH MIRACLES AT NAPLES.
large quantities, would prove very perni- | San Januarius ; still less is it there to be cious, it will appear like reversing the disputed but that the prayers, which form matter, amounting almost to a contradic- part of the ceremony, must have a great tion, to say, that the “roots,” or tubers, deal to do with the liquefaction; for no form a very pleasant and nutritious diet; one will there admit that they are only but the convolvulus batatas has been intended to render the whole of this notable known as yielding an edible root ever piece of make-believe more plausible. since the discovery of America, and, in When the blood, or whatever it is, does fact, lent its name to our potatoe, which not liquefy, the populace have sometimes, was first brought from the same continent. it is said, exhibited their zeal and devotion The sweet potatoe, as it is called, resembles in behalf of the miracle, without any conour common sort in appearance, and in sideration for the poor saint himself
, by size generally equals our largest kinds; foully abusing him, bestowing on him the when boiled, it is sweet and bland, and appellations of scoundrel, briccone, and vamay, with the addition of a little vinegar, rious other Billingsgate names. One would be treated as apple-sauce, which will, per- imagine that such revolting and blasphemhaps, give the reader a better idea of its ous scenes would be instantly put a stop to savour than any other description. These by the priests themselves. However, they, tubers are not, properly speaking, the roots, it seems, endure all that the others dare: buteenlarged stems growing in the ground, and, indeed, it might be a matter of some which, in this situation, are often the de- peril to interfere; for if a refractory saint positories of fecula, or starch, or nutritious is obliged to stand the pelting of these matter.
wretches' tongues, refractory priests could expect no less than to be torn piecemeal.
In his account of these proceedings, Webb Every school-boy has read of the lique- notices as “especially execrable,” the confaction of St. Januarius, or San Genar, as duct of one ecclesiastic of conspicuous he is here called, which takes place an- rank, “ who palpably manifested, by a nually, on his festival
, the 19th of Sep- display of derision, his utter disbelief and tember, and the 6th of May, to the great high scorn of the whole farce !” That it satisfaction of the faithful; nor can there should excite scorn, even in catholics be any doubts that the same miracle may themselves of the least understanding, is be repeated every day throughout the year, not surprising; why then, in the name of and each hour in the day. On these oc- common sense and common decency, are casions, the sacred vial is taken from its such abominable exhibitions and buffoonrepository, and the officiating priest holdseries any longer tolerated ? it up to the people, and shakes it, until Let me not be told that some respect is the substance it contains begins to melt; due even to the superstitions of an ignorant which, of course, many chemical prepara- people: let the common people themselves tions will do, if enclosed in a bottle that be ever so besotted and imbruted in worse is rubbed in the warm hands, and well than pagan idolatry, their priests can have agitated. As to the substance itself, and no such excuse unless we suppose them one the degree of liquefaction produced, that and all, the highest as well as the lowest, must, of course, be taken entirely upon to be equally ignorant, and not culpable, trust, -at any rate by the majority of spec- only because labouring under the grossest lators; because, how is it possible that delusions. If mummeries of this kind are any one, even a few feet off, should be not essential to, but the mere excrescences able clearly to distinguish what is contained of roman catholicism—the impurities it in the vial, or whether it stirs ? Even the had contracted in times of universal ignoinotion of the vial itself would prevent the rance and superstition, wherefore are they eye ascertaining whether the substance was not now abandoned ? Why have not all solid or liquid, the whole time. As an jugglery and mountebankism of this sort ocular deception, it is by no means so in- been discountenanced by the church itself, genious as many of those performed by and suffered gradually to fall into desuemountebanks who devour fire, and pull tude? By being now kept up, they yards of ribands out of their mouths, or as furnish protestants with fair arguments many of the feats performed by a clown in against it; although it must be admitted, a pantomine. However, it would not be that the greatest wonder that romanism sıfe to make such remarks' at Naples : can produce, is, that it should even now the substance is firmly believed to be hu- be able to maintain its ground at all, in man blood, and the blood of no other than spite of the palpable absurdities with which
it is on every side beset; but such is hu-, whole community. In the most wholeman nature ! Neither can it be alleged some societies there will be blotches; and that such practices may be safely tolerated far am I from claiming for England unas harmless, as serving to amuse a people spotted purity of manners; but still, foul not sufficiently enlightened to be con- as they are in themselves, these leper spots vinced of matters of faith by reasoning are partial; they do not extend over the and argument, and incapable of rational whole of our social body—they have not devotion. Systematic deception is not thoroughly corrupted its entire mass.-From laudable: no casuistry can justify such Rae Wilson. wretched expediency as that of fostering slavish superstition, merely because it is
INSECTS.-No. XXXIV. agreeable to the people themselves, because
(Vegetable Food.) they are well satisfied, and the more rea- The range of insects in search of food is dily attached to the system it is intended very extensive. The vegetable kingdom to promote. Away with such base, worldly, presents to them a vast field, while the and cowardly policy, so opposed to the larger animals are limited to a comparatively very principles of christianity! the re- small portion. Separate the grasses, and a ligion of the gospel rejects it with con- few herbs and shrubs, and of the thousands tempt; and if the filth and cobwebs of of plants which cover the face of the earth, corruptions, that are now disgracing the the rest are disgusting to them, or absotemple of popery, cannot be swept away lutely poisonous. Yet how plenteous is without endangering the fabric itself
, it must the feast to which the insect tribes are be deplorably rotten, unsound, and unsafe. invited. From the gigantic banyan, which
Similar policy and craftiness, and worldly covers acres with its shade, to the tiny authority on the part of its priesthood, fungus which the eye can scarcely perceive, - upheld paganism for a time; and equal there is one immense banquet, of which pleas might be still urged for main- they may partake. It is probable that not taining the latter. In fact, it may be said a single plant exists, even of those which still to exist here in this part of Italy at to others are most nauseous and poisonous, least; for it has done little more than put that does not yield to some insect or other on a new dress, and assumed new names, delicious food. with very little if any internal change. Indeed, a considerable proportion of veSaints, both male and female, have been getables must have been expressly designed substituted for the divinities of the heathen for their entertainment and support
. To pantheon; and it is to these that the people mankind, and to the larger animals, for are taught to address themselves, and in instance, the common nettle appears to be them to confide. The madonna is the of little use, but it provides food for at great goddess of their devotion—the deity least thirty distinct species of insects. Nor of the roman catholic Olympus. Could any is this all. The larger herbaceous animals thing be urged in favour of this system on are confined to a foliaceous or farinaceous the score of its salutary influence upon diet; they can subsist on no other part of morals, we might admit that even so de- the plant than its leaves and seeds, either graded a religion was preferable to none; in a recent or dried state, with the addition but, unfortunately, roman catholic devotion sometimes of the tender twigs or bark; but has very little, if any thing, to do with con- to different tribes of the insect race, every duct. Assassins, prostitutes, and utter re-part supplies appropriate food. Some probates may be. very good roman catholics: attack its roots; others select the trunk even Cardinal “Ruffo's cut-throats would and branches; a third class feed upon the never mount a horse without crossing them leaves; a fourth, with yet more delicate selves, and muttering a prayer !” As for the appetite, prefer the flowers; and a fifth, the domestic virtues, it is mockery, when fruit or seeds. Even still further selection speaking of Naples, to mention them; takes place. Of those which feed upon such universal dissoluteness prevails here, the roots, stem, and branches of vegetables, that even the “hypocrisies of decency some larva eat only the bark, others the are disregarded as perfectly useless; and mar- alburnum, others the exuding resinous or riage seems to be kept up for no other pur- other excretions; a fourth class the pith, pose than as yielding the additional luxury and a fifth penetrates into the heart of the of-adultery. To be sure this renders the solid wood. Of those which prefer the crime less disgraceful, or rather takes away leaves, some taste nothing but the sap all disgrace whatever from its individuals; which fills their veins; others eat the but then it is only to heap it upon the parenchyma, never touching the cuticle; others, only the lower surface of the leaf ; ( the vegetable world. Latterly, another of while a fourth description devour the whole these pests (aphis lanigera) has been substance of the leaf. Of the flower-feed- very destructive to our apple-trees. It is ers, some eat the petals; others, in their thus described by Mr. Knapp: “In the perfect state, select the pollen which swells spring of the year,” says he, a slight the anthers; and a still larger class of these, hoariness is observed upon the branches of the honey secreted in the nectaries. certain species of our orchard fruit. the
Appropriate instruments are furnished to season advances, this hoariness increases ; insects, according to their habits. The it becomes cottony, and toward the middle innumerable tribes of moths and butterflies or end of summer, the under-sides of some eat only the honey, which is frequently of the branches are invested with a thick situated at the bottom of a tube of great downy substance, so long, as at times to length. They have, therefore, an organ be sensibly agitated by the air. Upon exexquisitely fitted for its office-a slender amining this substance, we find that it contubular tongue, more or less long, some- ceals a multitude of small wingless creatimes not shorter than three inches, but tures, which are busily employed in preying spirally convoluted when at rest, like the upon the limb of the tree beneath. This main-spring of a watch, into a convenient they are well enabled to do, by means of a compass. This tongue, which they can beak terminating in a fine bristle, which, instantly unrol, they dart into the bottom being insinuated through the bark and the of a flower, and, as through a syphon, draw sappy part of the wood, enables the creaup a supply of its delicious nectar, on ture to extract, as with a syringe, the sweet which they feed. This organ is of a car- vital liquor that circulates in the plant. tilaginous substance, and apparently com- The sap-wort, (alburnum,) being thus posed of a series of innumerable rings, wounded, rises up in excrescences and which, to be capable of such rapid convolu- nodes all over the branch, and deforms it; tion, must be moved by an equal number the limb, deprived of its nutriment, grows of distinct muscles. Though seemingly sickly; the leaves turn yellow, and the simple, the tongue is composed, in fact, of part perishes. Branch after branch is thus three distinct tubes; the two lateral ones, assailed, until they all become leafless, and cylindrical and entire, intended, as Reau- the tree dies. mur thinks, for the reception of the air; Aphides attack the young and softer and the intermediate one, through which parts of plants; but this insect seems alone the honey is conveyed, nearly square, easily to wound the harder bark of the formed of two separate grooves, projecting apple, and by no means makes choice of from the lateral tubes; which grooves, by the most tender parts of the branch. They means of a most curious apparatus of give a preference to certain sorts, but not hooks, like those in the laminæ of a fea- always the most rich fruits; as ciderther, fasten into each other, and can be apples and wildings are greatly infested by either united into an air-tight canal, or be them, and, from some unknown cause, instantly separated at the pleasure of the other varieties seem to be exempted from insect.
their depredations. The Wheeler's-russet The sucker of the brown aphis of the oak and Crofton-pippin, I have never observed (aphis quercus) is much larger than the injured by them. This insect is viviparous, body, and, when unemployed, is carried or produces its young alive, forming a between the legs close to the belly, extend- cradle for them, by discharging from the ing behind the insect, like a tail, slightly extremities of its body a quantity of long curved upward. The instrument consists cottony matter, which, becoming interof a transparent tube, terminating in a hole woven and entangled, prevents the young so minute, that Reaumur could not dis- from falling to the earth, and completely cover it with his most powerful micro- envelopes the parent and the offspring. scopes, but he proved its existence, by In this cottony substance, we observe, as pressing out from it a drop of fluid. By soon as the creature becomes animated in means of pressure, also, he could render spring, and as long as it remains in vigour, more obvious two instruments of a brownish many round pellucid bodies, which, at colour contained in the sucker, and which first sight, look like eggs, only that they he conjectured to act like the piston of a are larger than we might suppose to be pump; though, from their minuteness, this ejected by the animal. They consist of a could not be fully established.
sweet glutinous fluid, and are probably the No wonder that, with such an instru. discharges of the aphis, and the first food ment, the aphides make great ravages in of its young. That it is thus consumed, I