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Æthusa growing about Boston, although botanically the same with Æthusa cynapium, is altogether destitute of the nauseous alliaceous taste by which that plant is noted in Europe. Another instance, adduced in Bigelow's Medical Botany, is of Asarum Canadense, which, although widely different in effect upon the human body, the elder Michaux says can with difficulty be distinguished from a European species of Asarum. A still more striking case is that of the chestnut-tree. Michaux the son thought the American chestnut distinct from the Castanea vesca, relying for his distinctions chiefly on the size and shape of the fruit; but Pursh and Nuttall deny that there is any thing in our chestnut sufficiently marked to become the ground of a specific description. Yet the wood of our chestnut is porous, weak and brittle, while in Europe that tree is in the highest estimation for compactness, tenacity and strength. In Italy the chestnut is employed in making staves for wine and brandy-casks, but the staves fabricated from it here have not been found close-grained enough for the same purpose.
Throughout France and the rest of South Europe, the hoops of casks and vats of all dimensions are generally made of young chestnut, which experience testifies to be as flexible, tough and elastic as the occasion requires, and moreover peculiarly eligible on account of its durability : whereas coopers in this country uniformly assured Michaux that our chestnut was too brittle to be used in hooping. In both continents, however, the chestnut is equally valued for its capacity of withstanding exposure to the vicissitudes of heat and cold, of moisture and dryness, for which reason it is preferred in several of the Middle States in the construction of rails and posts for enclosures.* These examples, which might be multiplied, will suffice to show the nature of the fact, and to manifest the ne
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"The trunk of the chestnut in Europe exceeds that of all other trees in thickness. One of these vegetable monsters growing on the sides of mount Ætna is asserted by Michaux to be a hundred and sixty feet in circumference, or fifty three feet in diameter, entirely hollow and subsist. ing only by means of the bark and a few adjacent layers of wood. Near this chestnut are several others, seventy-five feet in circumference. Not far from Sancerre in France is a chestnut thirty feet in circumference, with a perfectly sound trunk, which is supposed to be a thousand years old, and which for six hundred years has gone by the name of le Gros Châtaigner. No chestnuts of such enormous size have yet been noticed in the United States; but the chestnuts, which grow on the mountains of North Carolina, are as large as the generality of chesnuts in Europe. Michaux, Histoire des Arbres Forestiers de l'Amerique Septentrionale, tom. ii, p. 157.
cessity there is for a careful examination of the differences between allied plants in Europe and America.
That these and all other deficiences in our botanical collections will be made up by those who are most directly interested in seeing it accomplished, by native Americans, we certainly have at this time equal reason to hope and believe. The prevalence of the study of botany, either as a source of elegant recreation, or as a means of enlarging the boundaries of human knowledge and multiplying the comforts of human life, is much increased in our country since that period, when the few botanists, who belonged to it, looked to nothing higher than the ministering to the curiosity of two or three men of letters in Europe. And although we are not of opinion that botany has any peculiar tendency to instill exalted notions of moral obligation like ethics, or sharpen the acuteness of our intellectual powers like abstract reasoning, yet we think it authorized to assume a very respectable rank among the sciences of secondary importance : for, even encumbered as it now is with artificial forms, if the study of it be pursued, where alone it ought to be pursued, among the wild scenes of our meadows, rocks and forests, it cannot fail to improve the mind and heart by leading the imagination to dwell upon those noble exbibitions of the power of providence in exterior nature, the majesty of which is only surpassed by their beauty,
ART. VI.Symzonia, a Voyage of Discovery, by Captain
Adam Seaborn. New York, 1820. 12mo, pp. 248. Nothing furnishes a stronger illustration of the superficial taste of men, than the almost exclusive attention they have paid to the external surface of the globe. The same willingness to be blinded by the outside appearance, which obtains in the details of manners and character, has exerted a much more pernicious effect on the general regard men have bestowed upon the earth they inhabit. One is fatigued with the mass of travels to explore its unknown regions, of voyages to discover its distant seas. Not an arrogant mountain, that towers upward, but has been measured ; nor an indenture on the rind, by the name of an ocean, a mine, or a valley, but has been fathomed, descended, and traversed till one is weary of
this superficial pains-taking. All the while, the honest solid interior, the root and heart and kernel, the marrow and pith, the sacred penetralia of our globe have remained worse than unexplored.
We say, 'worse than unexplored,' because if men had confined themselves to a total neglect of these regions, much as we should have derided their folly, for travelling round and round so fair an abode without venturing bravely into it, we could have accused them of nothing worse than insensibility. It is a matter, however, which admits of no disguise to the diligent student of antiquity, or the observer of popular belief, that the conduct of men toward these interior regions has not rested here. And without trying to soften what after all must be confessed and hurried over as well as it can, it is a fact too notorious to be concealed, that the ancients from some primitive pique against the internals, early contrived to get the t in the name of the latter changed into an f; and to propagate the idea, that the centre of the earth was actually the location of a spot, which we desire not to mention to the ears polite' of the public. This seems to have produced an awkward feeling in men's minds, about visiting these abodes; and as the same insidious geographers were careful to lay down the entrance to them either in some pestiserous grotto or flaming crater, the persons best inclined by temper and taste to gravitate to the centre have either been wholly deterred, or gone about it with great tardiness of spirit. One of the most distinguished explorers of ancient times, indeed, found courage to undertake the excursion, by the virtue of a branch of gold, which he had the good fortune to find growing near the avenue; and if any thing would be attractive enough to enlist imitators of the experiment, we think it would be to have the entrance, through forests equally promising. We find no mention in Michaux, however, of a fungus of this kind, on any of our forest trees; and a late distinguished prince, the unfortunate emperor of Hayti, appears to have placed his hopes for the discovery of the internal regions (we make a matter of conscience to restore the t) on an attraction the same, to be sure, in principle, but different in form ; for it is the only apophthegm, as far as we are acquainted, preserved of this monarch, that if there were a bag of coffee in the mouth of - , there would be two Americans after it.'
To do men justice, it must be acknowledged after all, that
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this their conduct has not proceeded from an abstract aversion to having the lower regions explored. On the contrary, they have shown themselves more disinterested on this head, than on most others. Backward as they have been to undertake the expedition themselves, there is none on which they are so ready to set out their neighbours; and if polite wishes and friendly intimations could carry one thither, there are not many parts of the upper regions, which would be more frequented than the lower. But it seems to have but little effect; and people stand complimenting each other, like over polite folks at a door, neither being willing to take the first step, and each bowing his friend heartily onward.
We confess that we have always thought this prejudice against the interior unreasonable, and wholly unauthorized by analogy, the best guide we can have in the want of positive information. The works of nature, the more they are studied, are found to exhibit a certain beautiful harmony, on which we have a right to proceed in regard to what is unknown. There are so few productions of nature, which fall beneath our inspection, of which the outside is not the least valuable part, that we find it hard to believe that she has lavished all her resources on the exterior of the great globe itself; and condemned the main mass of it to a base and inanimate stratification, or to a hopeless chaos. In general, that which is good for much, whether in the unorganized, the vegetable, animal, or intellectual world, carries its merit within ; and external beauties and superficial merits are proverbially transitory and worthless; either found to be unattended with interior worth, or at any rate far less permanent, and liable to rust, mildew, and decay. If you would have a fixed and permanent scarlet dye, you must seek out some unpromising mineral oxyde, or grind up a poor worm from a foreign coast; while that which you find on the leaves of the tulip, on a beautiful cheek, or the evening sky is gone almost before you can notice it. Messrs Perkins, Fairman, and Heath, nay Messrs Murray, Draper, & Co. have an ingenious machine, by the aid of which, and a productive paper-mill, they can make money almost as fast as à woman of fashion can spend it; such beautiful money too, that our brethren in the west have already borrowed a milo lion or two of it from one bank, “ without the demand being half satisfied :' nay, have even given a premium for the new bills over the old, as we ourselves, in our earlier days, remember to
have entertained a strong prejudice in favor of a bright cent, So rapid too is the operation of this wonder-working machine, that what was hemp and flax yesterday, and linen, and rags, and money today, too often brings you down to rags tomorrow, and not perhaps quite so often as it might, to hemp again, the day after. This is superficial money, while the true, interior, substantial coin must be dug deep out of a dreary mine, amidst the rushing of subterranean waters, and the toiling of ponderous engines, and be beaten, and roasted, and smelted, and coined, and milled out of rough, unseemly ores; and after all is but a white or yellow counter, with an ugly Spanish nose upon it, while the other money is covered with ships, and eagles, and lions, and goddesses, as gay as the pantheon. .
The moment you turn your attention to the globe itself, you find it increase in value, as you penetrate below the surface ; thereby furnishing the strongest encouragement to make thorough work; and instead of grubbing on the outside, go at once to the inside. The mere superficies of the earth is, as we all know, barren, sterile, worthless; and decked with beauties and riches not its own. The great trees, which adorn it, are not set down like flower pots on the top, but if Virgil can be trusted, actually go downward as far as they rise upward, and bring from below all that nourishes the splendid foliage above. It is so with the members of the whole vegetable tribe, which would die in the first sultry sun on the treacherous bosom of the soil, if they did not shoot inward their sagacious fibres, and force down their greedy taproots, and suck out some of the nutriment of the rich strata within. The farther you go down into the earth, the richer it grows. You first meet with your pigments and ochres, then with your rich porcelain clays and petuntzes ; farther down you have your salt and your coal, and still farther your gold and your silver. Then too what blessed fountains of health gush up from its hidden springs. It is a great thing on the surface of the earth to get plain fair water, and this, at some places, as at Taunton, is so weak that it will not run down hill. While the fountains from beneath come bubbling up with all their sparkling carbonic gases, and tingling chalybeate freshness. In short, we look upon the earth as a great fig, the outside black and unpromising; remove the skin, and you come to an agreeable, nutritious pulp; while the germ, thé fructification, the origin, and life of the whole is shut up and enclosed in the centre.
New Series, No.7.
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