Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE MONTHLY ANTHOLOGY.

FOR

JUNE, 1808.

For the Anthology.

THE BOTANIST, No. 15.

( The same subject continued from the Anthology for April.)

“ The bright consummate Flower "Spirits odorous breatbes."

MILTON.

MILTON

FLOWERS, says the most learn. far enough.* This essential oil coned of poets, spirits odorous breathe. tains something more subtile and On what does this odour depend? active than itself, viz. an exceedingThe chemists give us this vague an- ly minute, volatile and scarcely pon. swer, that it depends on the oil of derable spirit, which, when separat. the plant. But a vegetable distilsed, leaves nothing peculiar in the retwo kinds of oil, differing very much maining oil. This is the spiritus from each other; the one is fixed, rector of the old chemists, the prethe other volatile. The fixed oil is dominant, prevailing, paramount or combined with mucilage ; the vola- ruling spirit of the plant. This spi. tile with the aroma, or spiritus rec. rit, which is inimitable by art, imtor of the plant. The fixed oil is parts that smell, taste, and medicinal found only in the seeds; and is con- virtue to that particular species of fined almost entirely to those, which plant, and is found in no other. have two cotyledons, as flax-seed, The fixed oil is innate ; but the esalmonds, and rape-seed; but the volatile oil is found in every part of a “ We are so far from being admitted plant, except the cotyledons of the into the secrets of nature, that we scarceseeds, where it never occurs, and ly approach the first entrance. We overis distinguished pre-eminently in the

look the operations of those invisible fluids, which encompass them; upon

whose motions and operations depend When we say, that the fine odour those qualities,t for which they are most of a flower depends on its volatile remarkable. "Locke on Human Underoil, or that its aromatick virtue is standing. Vol. II. p. 207. contained in it, and is therefore cal. Wbat Locke calls QUALITIES, some of led its essential oil, we go not quite the ancients called forms.

Vol. V. No. VI. 2M

flower.

sential oil is the vegetable economy, tick, we would remind him, that operating in perfect health, and in spirit, in the German language, is full perfection, while drawing its geist, or as Juncker has it gascht, sustentation from the earth, and whence is derived the English word from the air. The essential oils of ghost, or spirit ; and hence our fashplants have their respective charac. ionable chemical word gas, or gaz, teristicks from these aroma, or spic by which we are to understand « an rits alone ; the volatile oil, serves, in exceedingly rare, highly elastick, some degree, for enveloping, arrest. and invisible fluid, not condensible ing and preventing a too sudden and by cold.” Should the critick copious expenditure of them ; while persist in refusing his imprimathe fixed oil serves only for con- tur to the term spirit, we will necting the solid parts together, like compound with him, by giving him, the oil or fat in animals. The dif. in its stead, the word quintessence, ference therefore of these two oils by which we mean the specifick esis very wide.

sence, the active principle, by the Should any one object, that, by power of which medicines operate, fixing our eyes too intently on the 'Tis the distinguishing part of me. poetical phrase of Milton, we have dicinal simples, which can be separat. strayed from the enlightened path ed, in imagination, from the tangi. of modern chemistry into a thicket ble body, leaving its organization of fragrant flowers, and are there entire. To be still more particular. stupified and bewildered, * we an- The ancient philosophers and the swer, that it may be so, notwith old chemists conceived that fire, air, standing the limits which we assign water and earth, contributed to the to the meaning -of the term spirit. composition of all vegetables ; to all We mean by it the finest and most which was added, a fifth thing, or subtle parts of bodies; the most ac. ents, which enriched and distinguishtive part of matter, with regard to ed the whole, by its own particular its facility of motion, in comparison efficacy ; and on which the odour, with the grosser parts; that which taste and virtue of each plant depende is discoverable by the smartness to ed : they, therefore, asserted, that the smell, and which rises first in each species of plants was made up distillation. The name of " spirit” of the four common elements ; but to was formerly given to any subtle these was added a fifth, which, though volatile substance, that exhaled from small in quantity, was the most pow. bodies in a given degree of heat; erful, efficacious, and predominant and by a sort of imaginary analogy, of its ingredients : this, therefore, was transferred to the human sys- they called the fifth essence, or, as tem ; hence the term animal spirits, expressed in Latin, the quinta essenwhich was ingeniously supposed to tia. The knowledge of quintessences reside in the nervous fluid, as the was considered, two hundred years spiritus rector resides in the essential ago, as the utmost bounds of chemioil of plants.

cal perfection. Is not this precisely If the term spirit, or spiritus rector, the case, at present, with the knowshould displease the fastidious cri. ledge of gasses, or spirits ?

We have said, that all aromatick See the effects of flowers on the hu- plants contain a volatile oil ; but pian system, when in a confined place, this aromatick oil does not reside in in our thirteenth number.

the same part in every kind of plant,

Sometimes we find it distributed the Botanist to speak slightly of the through the whole plant, as in the pleasure derived from the sight of Bohemian angelica ; sometimes it ex- an elegant plant. Amidst “the inists only in the bark, as in cinnamon. satiable variety of nature," * few are Balm, mint, rosemary, and worm- its productions that can be placed wood, contain their essential oil in in competition with a beautiful and their leaves and stems; while the fragrant flower. The most brilliant Elecampane and Florentine iris depo gem but dazzles the eye with its sit it in their roots. All the terebin. splendour ; while the blind man is thenate, or resin-bearing trees, have regaled with the fragrance of the it in their young branches, while the rose, the lily, and the jessamine. chamomile and the rose have it in The attempt to describe by words their petals. Many fruits contain what, in truth, requires the faithful it throughout their whole substance, pencil of a Flemish painter, may as pepper and juniper. Oranges and well be deemed a futile task. Who lemons contain it in their rind or would attempt to describe " the gay peel.* The nutmeg tree bears its carnation ?". Even - may essential oil in the nut, and its imme. throw his pencil by, in despair of diate envelopement. The seeds of imitating the violet or the apple blos. the umbelliferous plants, such as fen- som. What colours on the painter's nel, cummin, and anise, have the vesi. pallet can express the richness of the cles of essential oil along the pro- Amaryllis foramsissimaor the Superbia jecting lines upon their skin. gloriosa, or the Dodecatheon of Lio

The taste of volatile, or essential næus? Who could hope to sucoils, is hot ; but it is remarkable, ceed in the description of the Strethat the taste of the plant does not litzia Regina,t adorned, as it is, always influence that of its essential “with purple, azure, and specked oil; for the oil of pepper has no ex. with gold? or the Ixora coccitraordinary acrimony; and that nea, the cluster of whose flowers which is obtained from wormwood are so brilliant, that they resemis not bitter : and so of colour, the ble burning coals? If the painter oil of red roses is white; the oil of lan can give but a faint resemblance of vender yellow ; of chamomile a fine the violet, or the passion-flower, blue ; that of parsley a bright green; or the Chalcedonian lily, what would that of millefoil a sea-green. This he say, if requested to express, with is the valuable part of Botany ; his colours, the CactUS GRANDIwhich, if diligently pursued in this FLORUS, or night-blowing Ceres ! country, will shew the subordinate This stately flower is a native of rank of the nomenclatureship of the Vera Cruz. It expands a most science, and the knowledge of the beautiful corol of nearly a foot in dia, external forms of plants merely. meter; and has twenty stamina surClassifiers have almost led the world rounding one pistillum. The inside to forget the great use and end of of the calyx is a splendid yellow, the Botany. Far be it, however, from

* Cicero. * If a lump of sugar be rubbed against + so called by Sir !oseph Banks, in the oil-containing-vesicles of the orange, honour of the Queen of England. This or lemon, it imbibes the volatile oil, and plant is curiously formed, as well as preforms a pleasant oleo-sasharum, soluble io eminently splendid. water.

Milton.

petals of the purest white ; but Or marks where Jove directs his glitterviewing it in front, so as to look ing car into its deep bell, with its long 0

O'er Heaven's blue vault, berself a bright

er star !"* trembling stamina, baffles all description ; for its colour, in one shade, The Botanist, nevertheless, canis fire-red; and viewed in another not, will not, suffer her to rival in light, it resembles the blaze of a his affection, his « blushing ROSE furnace, or burning nitre. We may veiled in a dud of fragrance,” remark generally, that the most

whose qualities are often disregarded splendid flowers are of the shortest because common. QUEEN of Flowduration : thus this grand flower, ers! where is the poet that has not expands its beautiful corol, and dif- celebrated thy beauties? where the fuses a fragrant odour, for a few painter that has not aimed to imihours in the night ; and then closes tate thee? and who that has senses to open no more. It generally does not wish to take to his bosom opens about eight o'clock in the "the fresh blown ROSES wash'd in evening, and closes before sun rise; dew Of the beautiful sex we and the next day, this short-lived fondly compare the most beautiful belle resembles'a dingy, wilied husk to flowers. Were I then to renew of corn. The first time the Bota- my youth, and to live over again ; nist gazed at this transient beauty, and were I disposed to ransack creaand saw its sudden change, it was tion for a comparison I should with sensations he never can forget: compare _ But-why this vain he confesses, that, in the vast assem- wish ;-this melancholy reflection! blage of flowers that adorn the earth, this flaunting beauty caught “ No more the summer of my life rc bis eye, and excited strongly his

mains, youthful admiration. Well might My autumn's lengthening evenings chill

my veins ! the poetical Darwin say of his are

Down the bleak stream of years -fulgent Cerea,"

Wing'd on, I hasten to the tomb's re

pose, “ Bright as the blush of rising morn The port whose deep, dark bottom shall

she warms The dull cold eye of midnight with My anchor, never to be weigh'd again!"

her charms; There to the skies she lifts her pencilla brows,

* Botanick Garden, Canto IV. Opes her fair lips, and breathes her vir. + Milton's Paradise. gin vows;

L'allegro. Eyes the white zenith; counts the suns,

|| CAMOENS adds here " by wees en that roll

woes,”—but the “ woes" of the Botanist Their distant fires, and blaze around the

are yet to come. pole ;

detain

RETROSPECT OF FRENCH LITERATURE.

THE following is a letter from a Prussian nobleman at Paris to his friend at Berlin, written in the beginning of 1789, &c. containing an

account of the men of letters resid. ing in the former capital, the academies, the spectacles, &c. &c.

“I am at Paris : the very name

is so connected with great objects, Caffé Procope, * the spots on which and such delightful recollections, great events have been acted, and that my ideas are confounded, and where they have been celebrated, exI am scarcely able to contemplate cite our sensibility, and combine the the dazzling spectacle, which this association of moral and local ideas. superb city presents to my imagina. “ Pardon me this burst of enthu. tion. Since the distant period, when siasm. I return to you, my dea: « four oxen paraded the indolent friend: you do not love politicks ; monarch through the streets of Par- in the arts, you pretend not to be a is," until the splendid age of Louis connoisseur ; literature alone interXIV. when Perault decorated the ests you, and it is relative to it that front of the Louvre ; Le Brun and I am now about to write to you. .Le Seur animated the canvas; Mo. “ The present is scarcely a faliere made both court and city laugh vourable moment of literature. The at their own expense ; Boileau lash, French live on their past glory, in ed with his satirical scourge all the the same manner that a merchant bad authors of his time ; La Fon- without any money lives on his cred. taine aspired to and obtained im- it. Debauchery, which ever since mortality ; Racine surprised in the the time of the regency, occupied inmost folds of the heart the true the place of gallantry, the precious language of the passions ; Bossuet, remnant of the days of chivalry, has after having dragged man along the equally depraved the taste and the tombs, elevated him to heaven in a morals. The ladies have become car of fire ; Fenelon, nourished with judges of literature, and placed the milk of the ancients, squandered themselves on the throne of criti. useful lessons on kings ; or the mel. cism ; formed as they are, to seize ancholy, but profound Pascal sound the delicate shades of sentiment, and ed the depth of our ignorance ; from decide on sallies of wit, they are not the Gothick magnificence of Dago. equally calculated to appreciate probert, until the time when the great fi und meditation, and the burning Condé wept at the verses of the energy of real eloquence. What is great Corneille, and when nature grand therefore, is no longer known ; exhausted herself, as it were, in as- and what is pretty is alone cultivat. sembling men of genius around the ed. The dissipated lives of men of throne of Louis, what a series of letters bereaves them of the time ne. interesting personages, and memora- cessary for great works, while it de. ble events, of which Paris has been prives them of that peculiar turn of at once the cradle and the theatre, mind, which conveys a colour of the very remembrance of which ani- originality to their writings. mates all the streets, edifices, and « The writers of the last age, even the foot paths.

closely foilowing the steps of the “ What friend of humanity can ancients, have seized those simple survey the statue of Henry IV. and striking features, which characwithout saluting it with a tender terise true beauty ; their descendveneration ! what secret horrourants have wished to excel them, but must not one experience while pass- they have fallen into turgidity and ing through the Rue de la Féron- exaggeration. nerie, where this good king was assassinated. The Louvre, the Hotel Where the man of letters and men de Bourbon, le Ceveau, and lc of wit were accustomed to assemble.

« AnteriorContinuar »