Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Davy, in another place, has stated the advantages arising to this class of vegetables, from their stony external concretion ; namely, “the defence it offers from humidity; the shield which it presents to the assaults of insects; and the strength and stability that it administers to plants, which, from being hollow, without this support, would be less perfectly enabled to resist the effect of storms.

Those canes which are not hollow, are long and slender, and from wanting the power to sustain themselves, come usually in contact with the ground, when they would speedily decay, from moisture, but for the impenetrable coat of mail with which nature has furnished them. tions still arise for future investigators. How came the matter of flint to invest those plants which most need it, and not others ? Whence does this silex come? Is it derived from the air ? or from water? or from the earth ? That it emanates from the atmosphere is wholly inadmissible. If the silex proceed from water, where is the proof? and how is the superficial deposit effected ? Also, as silex is not a constituent part of water, if incorporated at all, it can be held only in solution. By what law is this solution

But ques

produced, so that the law of gravity should be suspended ? If the silex be derived from the earth, by what vessels is it conveyed to the surface of the plants ? and, in addition, if earth be its source, how is it that earth-seeking, and hollow plants, with their epidermis of silex, should arise in soils that are not silicious ? being equally predominant, whether the soil be calcareous, argillaceous, or loamy. The decomposition of decayed animal and vegetable substances, doubtless composes the richest superficial mould ; but this soil, so favourable for vegetation, gives the reed as much silex, but no more, in proportion to the size of the stalk, than the same plants growing in mountainous districts, and primitive soils. It is to be regretted, that the solution of these questions, with others that might be enumerated, had not occupied the profoundly investigating spirit of Mr. Davy; but which subjects now offer an ample scope for other philosophical speculators.

It is a demonstrative confirmation of the accuracy of Mr. Davy's reasoning, that a few years ago, after the burning of a large mow, in the neighbourhood of Bristol, a stratum of pure, compact, vitrified silex appeared at the bottom, forming one continuous sheet, nearly an inch in thickness. I secured a portion, which, with a steel, produced an abundance of bright sparks.

Upon Mr. Coleridge's return from the north, to Bristol, where he meant to make some little stay, I felt peculiar pleasure in introducing him to young Mr. Davy. The interview was mutually agreeable, and, that which does not often occur, notwithstanding their raised expectations, each, afterward, in referring to the other, expressed to me the opinion, that his anticipations had been surpassed. They frequently met each other under my roof, and their conversations were often brilliant; intermixed, occasionally, with references to the scenes of their past lives.

On one occasion, Mr. Coleridge entered into some of his college scenes, to one of which I may here refer. He said that, perhaps, it was culpable in him not to have paid more attention to his dress, than he did when at the University, but the great, excluded the little. He said that he was once walking through a street in Cambridge, leaning on the arms of two silk gowns, when his own habiliments formed rather a ludicrous contrast. His cap had the merit of having once been new; and some untoward rents in his

which he had a month before intended to get mended,

gown,

left a strong tendency, in some of its posterior parts, to trail along the ground in the form, commonly called “tatters.” The three friends were settling the exact site of Troy, or some other equally momentous subject, when they were passed by two spruce gownsmen, one of whom said to the other, (which just caught the ear of Mr. C.) “That sloven thinks he can hide his ribbons by the gowns of his companions.” Mr. C. darted an appalling glance at him, and passed on. He now learned the name, and acquired some particulars respecting the young man who had offended him, and hastened home to exercise his Juvenallian taient.

The next day he gave his satire to a friend, to show it to the young man, who became quite alarmed at the mistake he had made, and also at the ominous words, “He who wrote this can write more." The cauldron might boil over with fresh "bubble, bubble, toil and trouble." There was no time to lose. He therefore immediately proceeded to Mr. C.'s chambers; apologized for his inconsiderate expressions : thought him to have been some “ rough colt” from the country, again begged his pardon, and received the hand of reconciliation. This young, mis-calculating Cantabrigian, now became one of Mr. C.'s warmest friends, and afterwards arose to eminence.

The satire was singularly cutting. I can recal but two unconnected lines :

66 With

eye

that looks around with asking gaze,
“ And tongue that traffics in the trade of praise.”

Mr. Coleridge now told us of the most remarkable of his Cambridge eccentricities, that of his having enlisted as a soldier. He had previously stated to me many of the following particulars, yet not the whole; but in addition to that which I heard from Mr. C. (who never told all the incidents of his military life to any one person, but, on the contrary, detailed some few to one, and some few to another.) Having taken a deep interest in this singular adventure, I made a point of collecting from different friends, every scattered fact I could obtain, and shall now throw the whole into one narrative.

But before I proceed, I must take some notice of a statement on this subject, communicated to the public, by Mr. Bowles, wherein his account appears to clash with mine. Of this gentleman (with whose name and writings I have connected

« AnteriorContinuar »