By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Everyday Objects - Or Picturesque Aspects of Natural History.
Author: Adams, W. H. Davenport (William Henry Davenport)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Everyday Objects - Or Picturesque Aspects of Natural History." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: EVERYDAY OBJECTS.




    Picturesque Aspects of Natural History.





                   "To know
    That which about us lies in daily life,
    Is the prime wisdom."







The very favourable reception accorded both by Press and Public to
the "Circle of the Year," has induced me to prepare a second volume,
similar in design, but dealing with different branches of the same
subject. As the former was founded on the _first_ series of a popular
French work, "Les Saisons," by M. Hoefer, so the present has been
suggested by the _second_ series; but in availing myself of it, I
have omitted much, I have revised more, and at various parts my
additions have been considerable. And here, as in my former effort, I
have written from a popular rather than a scientific point of view.
It has not been my object to sketch the outlines or lay down the
foundations of any science; but to show, as best I could, how much of
wonder and beauty enters into our daily life, and what inexhaustible
sources of study lie at our very feet. It is, perhaps, a misfortune
of our common systems of education that they too much neglect the
tuition of the eye; that the young are not taught to mark the curious
and interesting objects which are comprehended within their daily
vision; that they know so much about ancient mythology and so little
about modern science,--so much about gods and heroes, so little about
stars and flowers.

I have called this volume "Everyday Objects," not because those which
it describes may be seen every day, but because they mostly belong
to the region of the commonplace and familiar; and I have called it
"Picturesque Aspects of Natural History," because I have endeavoured,
in companionship with my French _collaborateur_, to indicate the
poetical side of the various sciences into which I have presumed to
penetrate. If it should awaken a love of nature in any breast, or
develop a spirit of inquiry, which may lead the student further and
further on the path of knowledge, the labour bestowed upon these
pages will not have been in vain.

The instinct of curiosity,--says M. Hoefer, in his preface to the
first series of "Les Saisons,"--is the awakening of the intellectual
life: it commences with the lisping of the child, accompanies the
adult in every phase of his existence, and, far from becoming extinct
with the last throb of the heart, revives before the unknown shadows
of the grave. What, then, is there in the whole world of greater
importance to follow and direct than the movements and impulses of
this curiosity, of these uncertain pulsations of the soul? In this
lies the secret of all education; and upon education depends the
future of humanity.

Unfortunately, he continues, the methods hitherto employed have been
absolutely insufficient. And the insufficiency is most notable as
regards the imperfect and defective training given to the instinct
of curiosity. Observe the child. Of everything which excites his
attention, he never fails to ask you the _reason why_. It is thus
that he enters into the connexion of "cause" and "effect." It is
a sign. But instead of following up this natural indication, and
developing the thought by the exercise of the reason, we proceed as
if the being under our charge were incapable of reason; we overload
the memory of the child with a multitude of words, whose value he
cannot understand until later in life, and perhaps never. The true
direction of the mind is to proceed from the thought to the word, and
not from the word to the thought. It is for want of having recognised
and applied this principle that our educational systems have failed
so utterly.

Let us take, for example, the study of nature. No science, assuredly,
ought to prove more attractive to the mind than natural history. Yet
mark how repulsive zoology, botany, and mineralogy are made at the
very outset, by the dryness of their nomenclatures and the dreariness
of their classifications. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to lay down a
course of study in the midst of the marvels which everywhere surround
us; undoubtedly names are required for the objects which attract our
notice. But are not the methods we employ directly opposed to the end
we set before ourselves?

I address myself to parents and teachers; and I say to them, Do you
wish to inculcate a love of science, and yet put into the hands
of your children or pupils books which differ as widely from the
book of nature as human brotherhood--(a fiction!)--differs from
universal gravitation? Instead of familiarising us at first with the
animals and plants within our everyday reach, you collect, under
the same irrevocable iron "form," genera and species never intended
to meet in any one particular zone, and many of which are so rare
that few persons will ever be fortunate enough to see them except
in collections and engravings. And, curious to state, the rarest
species nearly always obtain your preferences; judging, at least,
from the minute descriptions which you consecrate to them. Monstrous
absurdity! You seek at a distance that which lies close to your
hands, as if the Everyday Objects above, beneath, and around, were
unworthy of the science you profess.

But here we must pause. Upon the principles thus laid down by M.
Hoefer, have been founded the two unpretending companion volumes,
of which the second is now submitted to the lenient judgment of the





    CHAP.                                                       PAGE


        The Number of the Stars,                                   4

        The Great Bear and the Little Bear,                        8

        Orion,                                                    13

        Diurnal Movement,                                         15

        Determination of the Cardinal Points,                     17


        The Snow,                                                 32

        Red Snow,                                                 39

        The Eternal Snow,                                         44

        The Inhabitants of the Eternal Snows,                     48

        The _Arvicola Leucurus_,                                  49

        The Marmot,                                               53

        The Chamois,                                              56

        The Eagle and the Wren,                                   57

        The Snow Bunting,                                         66

        The Red-billed Crow,                                      68

        Reptiles,                                                 70

        Inferior Animals,                                         71

        Herbaceous Plants which best endure the Cold of Winter,   75

        The Dog Mercury,                                          77

        The Garden Nightshade,                                    82

        The Dog's-tooth Grass,                                    88

           *       *       *       *       *




        The Earth's Figure is seen in the Sky as in a Mirror,    102


        Causes of the Circulation of the Sap,                    132

        The Daisy,                                               138

        The Tulip,                                               152

        The Heliotrope,                                          156

        The Anemones,                                            157

        The Arum,                                                161

        The Ranunculaceæ,                                        165

        The Wood-louse,                                          169

        The Dragon-flies,                                        174

           *       *       *       *       *



        The Adumbrated Sphere,                                   191


        The Perianth,                                            208

        The Calyx,                                               208

        The Corolla,                                             223

        The Prunella,                                            230

        The Scutellaria,                                         235

        The Lilies,                                              241

        The Gentians,                                            250

        An Alpine Excursion,                                     256

        The Pimpernel,                                           260

        The Mole--The Staphylinus--The Mole Cricket,             265

        The Earwig,                                              278

           *       *       *       *       *




        The Circle, and the uniform Movement of the Stars
          (according to the Theory of the Ancients destroyed
           by Kepler),                                           289

        The Solar Constitution,                                  292

        Result of recent Astronomical Researches,                296


        Chemical action of Light,                                312

        Action of Heat,                                          313

        Arable Land,                                             318

        Mushrooms or Agarics,                                    325

        The Number of Vegetable Species distributed over the
          whole Surface of the Globe,                            337

        The Harvest Bug,                                         349

        The Cheese Mite,                                         354

        The Number of Animal Species distributed over the whole
          Surface of the Globe,                                  356

        What is Chlorophyll?                                     366

        Carnations and Pinks,                                    371

        The Eglantine and the Convolvulus,                       379

        Metamorphosis: a Physico-philosophical Meditation,       384

           *       *       *       *       *

    APPENDIX,                                                    405



      Lastly, came Winter clothèd all in frieze,
      Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill;
      Whilst on his hoary beard his breath did freeze,
      And the dull drops, that from his purpled bill
      As from a limbeck did adown distil:
      In his right hand a tippèd staff he held,
      With which his feeble steps he stayèd still;
      For he was faint with cold, and weak with eld;
    That scarce his loosèd limbs he able was to wield.

    --SPENSER, _The Faerie Queene_, Canto vi.
    (Of Mutability).

       *       *       *       *       *

      You naked trees, whose shady leaves are lost,
      Wherein the birds were wont to build their bower,
      And now are clothed with moss and hoary frost,
      Instead of blossoms, wherewith your buds did flower;
        I see your tears that from your boughs do rain,
        Whose drops in dreary icicles remain.

    --SPENSER, _The Shepherd's Calendar_,
    Eclogue I.




                        Skies flower'd with stars,
    Violet, rose, or pearl-hued, or soft blue,
    Golden, or green, the light now blended, now

    --P. J. BAILEY, _Festus_.


Our observation of the celestial phenomena may most easily be made in
the winter-time. Then the nights are long, and the vault of heaven
is crowded with stars, and, unilluminated by the moon, exhibits all
its splendours. In the other seasons of the year, and particularly in
summer, the twilight gleam encroaches, so to speak, upon a portion of
the nights, which are otherwise so brief, and precludes our vision
from any exact estimate of the stars. Those demitints, those soft
subdued reflections of light, scarcely permit the eye to distinguish
even stars of the first and second magnitude, which shine like spots
of dull gold on a background of pale silver.


How many are the stars?

To such a question comes the immediate answer, They are infinite in

But, after a little meditation, we begin to perceive that the
question, apparently so simple, is, in reality, one of very great
complexity. Let us endeavour to disentangle its various threads.

We must not forget that, in every scientific analysis, it is
important we should, in the first place, separate two intimately
united elements,--the individual who observes, and the product of
the observation. The former, the "sensorial factor," is subject to
every condition of space and time; the second, the "intellectual
factor," tends, by its generalisations, to free itself from those
very conditions which are the inseparable co-efficients of matter
and movement. The individual passes; save from an outer standpoint,
we know not whence he comes, nor whither he goes. The product of the
observation remains; transmissible from generation to generation,
it will gradually expand and increase, if it be founded upon truth;
but, on the contrary, its splendour will wane, and will eventually
disappear, if it be founded upon error. Eternal is this spectacle of
actors and puppets succeeding one another uninterruptedly upon the
same stage! As one falls, another steps forward into his place, and
so the great army marches forward with unbroken ranks.

He who, "in cities pent," sees the sky only through a garret window,
or in the narrow intervals between house and house, can form no
accurate idea of the magnificence of the firmament. The peasant, the
shepherd, or the labourer, spent with his daily work, prefers sleep
to astronomical vigils; and even amongst those more favoured sons of
fortune, who enjoy sufficient leisure, but few are found who feel
a genuine pleasure in the study of the stars. Though they are the
poetry of heaven, their music is inaudible to the majority of souls.
We content ourselves with an occasional careless glance at their
serene loveliness, and then turn again to the pleasures or avocations
of commonplace life.

But, come; let us arouse ourselves! Let us quit the city for awhile;
let us throw off all thought of its too-engrossing pursuits; let us
find time to count the stars. Gentle readers, I ask you to follow me.

Ah, me! how small is the train of followers! How great my delusion
in supposing that a complete phalanx of students of the celestial
wonders would reply to my invitation!

We have now arrived in the open country; and here, on the summit of
this gentle ascent, crowned with a clump of leafless trees, we pause.
The sky glitters with a cold, keen light, which is reflected back by
the snowy plains. While the eye ranges delightedly over the starry
vault, the ear is struck by the distant sound of bells, which, at
the midnight hour, ring in the infant year--ring in so many hopes
and expected joys, and unexpected sorrows--ring out so many passing
pleasures and rudely dissipated visions.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

As the chime glides softly over the meadows, and along the resounding
vales, and through the leafless woods, repeated by echo after echo,
until its music dies away in the distance, like our recollections
of the dreams of youth, we murmur to ourselves that solemn song of
the poet, which so aptly blends the regrets of the past with the
anticipations of the future; we exclaim--

    "Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
      The flying cloud, the frosty light:
      The year is dying in the night;
    Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

    "Ring out false pride in place and blood,
      The civic slander and the spite;
      Ring in the love of truth and right,
    Ring in the common love of good.

    "Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
      Ring out the harrowing lust of gold;
      Ring out the thousand wars of old,
    Ring in the thousand years of peace.

    "Ring in the valiant man and free,
      The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
      Ring out the darkness of the land,
    Ring in the Christ that is to be."[1]

The spectacle is majestic and impressive. Let us seek, in the first
place, to ascertain our position in reference to the four points of
the compass--the four cardinal points. But how is this to be done?
By day it is easy enough. I have only to turn myself towards the sun
when it has reached the highest point of its diurnal course, and
there, in front of me, lies the south, in my rear the north, the east
on my left, and on my right the west.

But is it possible to ascertain one's position during the absence of
the "orb of day?"

Both possible and easy, provided the sky be clear and cloudless.

But this condition is as necessary by day as by night. How can we
determine in which direction lies the south, if the sun be hidden
from our gaze by an uniformly opaque atmosphere, and if objects, lit
up by a diffuse light, project no shadow at any time of the day?

Endeavour to group together the stars which more particularly strike
your gaze; and be careful, in these groupings, to define every
fantastic figure which is suggested by your vivid imagination.
Undoubtedly, our earliest ancestors, the "world's gray forefathers,"
proceeded in this manner, in their anxiety to lay hold of some
definite guiding-marks in yonder ocean of sparkling atoms. And
to study a science by its history is to follow up its successive


Observe yonder very remarkable group of seven stars; nearly all are
of the same splendour, and they are so arranged as to figure an
antique chariot, provided with a somewhat curved axle pole.

Observe it carefully. And not far from this group you will detect
another, by no means so conspicuous, but exactly resembling it in
form. This second chariot is turned in an inverse direction, and the
stars composing it, with three exceptions, are much less brilliant.

Here, then, are two groups of stars, clearly distinguished by their
configuration--two _constellations_, for such is the scientific name
given to all the stellar groups.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--The Great Bear and Little Bear.]

It has been the fortune of the first of these two groups to strike
the eye of the most indifferent observer from the remotest antiquity;
and its likeness to a _quadriga_ early procured it the name of a
_car_ or _chariot_. For those Christians who pleased themselves in
studding the sky with Biblical personages, it is _David's Chariot_.
This species of apotheosis was borrowed from the Pagans. They placed
in the skies their divinities, their demigods, their heroes, and the
principal facts and stories of their mythology. For the Greeks and
Romans the "Chariot of David" was the female of the Bear, an ursa, or
ἀρκτὸς. Whence came this transfiguration? Listen to the fanciful
old myth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Callisto was the most beautiful of the daughters of the King Lycaon.
Jupiter, who may appropriately be styled the "Don Juan" or "Lovelace"
of the heathen Olympus, fell in love with her; and she bore him a
son, named Arcas, who gave his name to Arcadia, that land of song
and fable, groves and streams, where Lycaon exercised his sovereign
sway. Juno, the queen of heaven, and wife of the so-called king of
gods and men, transported by her jealous rage, changed Callisto into
a she-bear; who, one day, would have been unwittingly slain by Arcas,
if Jupiter, opportunely appearing on the scene, had not metamorphosed
the hunter into another animal, _Ursa Minor_, or the Little Bear.
According to this myth, the Little Bear will be but a transformation
of the former, who was the Great Bear, or, before all and above all,
_the_ Bear.

It is somewhat surprising, according to certain writers, that Homer
should refer to only one of these constellations:--

    Ἄρκτοιθ᾿ ἥν καὶ ἄμαξαν ἐπίκλησιν
    (The Bear, which men the Chariot also name).

But the learned commentators who have censured the poet for making
no distinction between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, probably never
looked at the starry vault with an attentive eye; otherwise, like
all the world, they might have convinced themselves that the seven
stars, _septem triones_ (whence the word "septentrion"), forming the
beautiful constellation, which, undoubtedly, long before Homer's
time, was known as "The Bear" or "The Celestial Chariot," were
all that could be seen. With a single exception, these stars are
of the second magnitude--that is to say, they, so far as regards
their brilliancy, rank next to the most brilliant stars of the
firmament. The least conspicuous star in the group--one of the third
magnitude--occupies the base of the pole of the Celestial Chariot, or
of the Bear's tail; it is the fourth star counting from the extremity
of the tail. On celestial charts, it is particularised by the fourth
letter of the Greek alphabet, δ (delta).

Observe, in passing, that the first of these charts, wherein the
stars of a constellation were indicated by Greek characters, appeared
in 1603, at Augsburg, under the title of "Uranometria." Its author,
Jean Bayer, an amateur astronomer, who died in 1660, conceived the
idea of designating by the first letters of the Greek alphabet--α,
β, γ, δ, and so on--the most noticeable stars. The animals bearing
the names of the constellations are drawn in this map with very
considerable care; but it requires, let us hasten to add, much
imagination and good-will to recognise, in the form of a stellar
group, the animal shown in the drawing.

Thus far Ursa Major. The four stars of the quadriga, or chariot, have
been employed to form the dorso-lumbar region of the animal; the
three others define its tail; and, finally, twenty-four little stars,
some of which are hardly visible to the naked eye, compose the head
and paws of the celestial "plantigrade."

As for Ursa Minor, it is impossible to distinguish it immediately
when you are unaccustomed to surveying or examining the celestial
vault. To detect its position, you require to be forewarned of it; to
know, in the first place, that there exists in the vicinity of the
Bear an exactly similar stellar group. The point of the tail--α in
Ursa Minor--alone possesses a splendour comparable to that of the
principal stars in Ursa Major. But how construct a figure with one
star? The four other stars, two of which mark the anterior part of
the animal's body, and two others the tail, properly so called, are
only of the third magnitude: they are marked β, γ, δ, ε. Finally, the
stars which define the posterior portion, marked ζ and η on Bayer's
chart, are only of the fourth magnitude--in other words, are scarcely
visible. The eye, to detect them, must be wholly free from any gleam
of light.

Many generations passed before they succeeded in discovering what
a single individual solved during his brief career. All Homer's
contemporaries, and, prior to these, tens of millions of mortals,
had contemplated the sky, and yet none of them had detected the
difference between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. The distinction,
therefore, is of a comparatively recent date; probably does not date
back earlier than the sixth century before the Christian era.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us recall ourselves, now, to the question propounded. The first
impression produced by the aspect of the sky during a beautiful
winter night is, we repeat, that the number of the stars is infinite.
This wholly spontaneous thought, which, to some extent, imposes
itself on the mind long before the reason attempts any calculation,
is, strange to say, both false and true.

But how can a thought be both false and true? Nothing is easier
than to explain the seeming contradiction. We shall return to it
hereafter, after we have indulged in some indispensable digressions.


One of the finest and loftiest flights of Longfellow's imagination is
to be found in his poem on the occultation of Orion. He has seldom,
if ever, sounded a more vigorous strain. After alluding to that music
of the spheres which Pythagoras dreamed of, and which Shakespeare has
described in a passage of great beauty, he continues:--

    "Beneath the sky's triumphal arch
    This music sounded like a march,
    And with its chorus seemed to be
    Preluding some great tragedy.
    Sirius was rising in the east;
    And, slow ascending one by one,
    The kindling constellations shone.
    Begirt with many a blazing star,
    Stood the great giant Algebar,
    Orion, hunter of the beast!
    His sword hung gleaming by his side;
    And, on his arm, the lion's hide
    Scattered across the midnight air
    The golden radiance of its hair."

The most ancient observer who wished, with his own eyes, to assure
himself whether the number of the stars was infinite, must have
quickly perceived that, in spite of an apparent impossibility, it
is no difficult task to complete their enumeration. To execute this
operation conveniently, however, we must invent a process; and of all
processes, the simplest, and that which first occurs to the mind,
is to group the stars by configurations which, to a certain degree,
are _mnemo-technical_. Such, in our belief, is the true origin--a
point so often and laboriously discussed--of the _asterisms_
or _constellations_. Their fanciful, mythological, or poetical
embellishments, are of later date.

       *       *       *       *       *

The census or enumeration of the stars, which we suppose to have
commenced during our winter nights, must at first have been limited
to the most characteristic groups, composed of the most brilliant
points. In this scientific labour the first rank would necessarily be
occupied by Arctos (or Ursa Major) and Orion. Why? Because these two
constellations attract and rivet everybody's gaze.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--Orion.]

Orion is situated on the side opposite to the Great Bear. It is
the most beautiful constellation in our western sky. You may
easily recognise it by three stars, very close together, which are
inscribed, as it were, in the centre of a great trapezium of four
stars, two of which are of the first magnitude. Beneath the three
first stars, called the Three Kings, or Orion's Belt, is visible a
small stellar group of the fourth and fifth magnitude, near which,
with a good average glass, may be distinguished the largest and most
remarkable of the nebulæ.

Here we find the mythologists--those theologians of the Greco-Roman
polytheism--at disagreement. According to an ancient legend,
immortalised by Homer--

          "Aurora sought Orion's love,...
    Till, in Ortygia, Dian's wingèd dart
    Had pierced the hapless hunter to the heart."[3]

The giant, in the lower world, is still animated by a burning passion
for the chase--

    "There huge Orion, of portentous size,
    Swift through the gloom a giant-hunter flies;
    A ponderous mace of brass, with direful sway,
    Aloft he whirls, to crush the savage prey;
    Stern beasts in trains that by his truncheon fell,
    Now, grisly forms, shoot o'er the lawns of hell."[4]

According to later traditions, the giant Orion, son of Tura and
Neptune, was endowed by his father with the faculty of walking upon
the sea as well as upon earth. He abandoned himself to the fierce
joys of the chase in the wooded isle of Crete, to whose shades he
had accompanied Diana and Latona. Swollen with pride, he defied to
combat all the monsters of the universe, and was slain by a scorpion
which the earth had engendered under his feet. But, through the
intercession of Diana, a place was given to him in the firmament
opposite Scorpio.


Let us put aside these dreams of the world's youth, and return to the

Nature, transformed by the ancients into a multiple divinity, never
fails to overwhelm with surprise the observer who interrogates her
with simplicity and without any preconcerted system. And it was thus
that he who first undertook to enumerate the stars, by the help of
the constellations, made at once the greatest and most unexpected
discovery. What, in fact, was not his astonishment on seeing the
gradual displacement of objects which, at the first glance, appeared

To this very natural astonishment soon succeeded, we doubt not, a
desire to analyse the phenomenon. The most beautiful constellations
of the firmament, Ursa and Orion, will have their points of repery on
the star-gemmed sphere. An attentive study, eagerly pursued through
a certain lapse of time, would teach him that Orion rises and sets
like the sun and the moon, while the Bear, remaining perpetually
above the horizon, neither rises nor sets. Stimulated by curiosity,
the observer would afterwards assure himself that the whole of the
celestial vault revolved upon an axis, while the stars divided into
groups; remain fixed, fixed in this sense, that they constantly
maintain among themselves the same relations of distance. The idea of
a solid sphere, to which the stars were attached like golden nails,
then came quite naturally to the human mind. Such, undoubtedly, was
the origin of the discovery of _diurnal movement_; of that general
movement which carries all the stars from west to east, to bring them
back to the same points in the course of one complete day.

To hear our professors of astronomy invariably repeating, that
"the spectator of the starry vault may see, every moment, new stars
rising above the horizon,--may see them mount the sky,--halt in their
upward march when they have attained a certain elevation,--afterwards
re-descend, and pass below the horizon;"--to hear, we say, these
words incessantly reproduced, one would think that a cursory glance
at the sky would suffice to reveal the general movement, and that
what is within the ken of the first comer, should not be called a

But we see in this another of those illusions which blind
contemporaries as to the time-long efforts of their predecessors to
discover the very results which long ago became our common patrimony.
Unquestionably, if you have eyes, you cannot fail to see the apparent
movement of the earth and moon; but from thence to the relation of
the whole celestial sphere is a wide interval. How many men are there
who possess, on the one hand, sufficient patience to fix their gaze
only for a couple of hours on the same point of the starry firmament;
and, on the other, sufficient intelligence to estimate the relation
of this point to a fixed point of the horizon, and to measure, by the
thought, the interval separating these two points? Let each one ask


However it may be, the discovery of the rotation of the celestial
system must have been rapidly brought to perfection as it was
transmitted from one generation to another. It must soon have been
recognised that this sphere is inclined in such a manner that one
of its _poles_--the _poles of the world_, which, in reality,
are simply the prolonged extremities of the axis of terrestrial
rotation--is always above the horizon, while the other remains below.
And this phenomenon would lead to the geometrical conception of
an axis of rotation of the celestial sphere. Thus we may explain,
with perfect ease, why the Bear and the neighbouring constellations
should describe perfect circles, and the other and more distant
constellations only arcs of circles, of a greater or lesser diameter;
finally, without even looking at the sky, we can understand that
some stars there are which show themselves on the horizon, only to
disappear immediately, and others which remain completely invisible
to the inhabitants of our climates. By a singularly fortunate
coincidence, the pole, that geometrical point around which revolve
those circumpolar constellations that are continually above our
horizon, is occupied by a star "well known to fame," and hence, on
the faith of its renown, supposed by many people to be a star of
peculiar brilliancy.[5] It is named the _Polar Star_ (α in Ursa
Minor), and is between the second and third magnitude.

Now if, with arms extended, we so place ourselves that our back shall
be turned to Polaris, we shall have opposite to us the point of the
arc occupied by the sun at _noon_; on our left the east, and on our
right the west. It is thus we may easily learn our position in the
absence of the orb of day.

The discovery of this simple mode of guidance was, nevertheless, an
epoch in history. From thence the mariner grew bold enough to quit
the coast, which he had hitherto hugged with timorous prudence, and
venture out into the open sea. Thenceforth, the darkness disappeared;
new countries were revealed to one another, and nations, which from
time immemorial had remained apart, were brought into frequent

It was with eyes fixed upon the Bear, which alone does not bathe
itself in the waters of Ocean, that Ulysses set out from Calypso's
enchanted island.

According to Homer, who reflects in his immortal work the condition
of scientific knowledge among his contemporaries, the ocean was a
great broad river, surrounding the earth with circumfluent volume,
and in its waves the stars were bathed or extinguished in the
evening, to be rekindled in the morning on the opposite side.

By saying that the Bear alone does not bathe in the waters of

    Οῖη δʹ ἄμμορός ἐστι λοετρῶν ᾿Ωκεανοῑο--

the poet plainly shows that Ursa Minor, and the other circumpolar
constellations, were unknown in his time.

If the knowledge of these constellations was from the beginning so
useful and so necessary to navigation, the constellation nearest to
the pole could not, at first, have served as a guide to any but a
people essentially maritime. And here we find the Phœnicians, or
Tyrians, in the foremost rank.

After reminding us that Ursa Major was also called Helice, or "the
spiral," as in the famous passage in the "Argonauta" of Apollonius

    "Night in the east poured darkness; on the sea
    The wakeful sailor to Orion's star
    And Helicè turned heedful,"--

and Ursa Minor, Cynosura,--that is, the dog's tail,--Manilius,[7] a
Latin poet, who wrote at the beginning of the Christian era, goes on
to say:--

"At one of the extremities of the world's axis are two
constellations, well known to the hapless mariner: they are his
guides when the bait of gain impels him across the ocean. Helice is
the larger, and describes the larger circle: it is recognised by its
seven stars, which rival one another in splendour; and by this it is
that the Greeks steer their barks. The smaller, Cynosura, describes a
lesser circle: it is inferior both in size and lustre; but, according
to the witness of the Tyrians, is of greater importance. For the
Phœnicians no safer guide exists when they seek to approach a coast
invisible from the high seas."

The testimony of Manilius is confirmed by that of Aratus and Strabo.
The pseudo-Eratosthenes, in his book on the constellations, refers to
Ursa Minor under the name of Φοινίκη, the "Phœnician." It appears,
then, to be established that the Phœnicians were the first to group
a constellation of the same general outline as Helice, the Little
Bear, or Ursa Minor. But that, as we have already explained, the two
constellations do not lie in the same direction, every one may see:

    "Nec paribus positæ sunt frontibus; utraque caudam
    Vergit in alterius rostrum, sequiturque sequentem."[8]

        Not in the same direction do they face:
        The one its tail towards the other's snout
        Turns, and they thus, pursuing, each pursue.

Certain it is that the Phœnicians, as experienced seamen, would
guide their course by the constellation lying nearest to the pole.
But was this constellation the same which we now-a-days call Ursa
Minor? It is quite allowable for us to put such a question, because
everybody knows that, owing to the movement of the terrestrial
axis around the poles of the ecliptic, the axis of the world (the
terrestrial axis prolonged) is displaced to an extent which becomes
perfectly appreciable at the end of a certain time.[9] We may
calculate, therefore, that the pole, now situated, as we have already
said, near the star Polaris (α in Ursa Minor), was formerly at some
distance from it. So, at the epoch of the greatest prosperity of the
Phœnician people, or about three thousand years ago, the north pole
would nearly correspond with a star in Draco, now 24° 52' distant.

[This constellation is shown in fig. 2, between Ursa Major and Ursa
Minor; the α in Draco is a star surrounded by a circle, like the
Polar Star, α in Ursa Minor.]

       *       *       *       *       *

That the constellation of Draco was well known to the ancients, we
may gather from a passage in the "Phenomena" of Aratus, a work partly
translated by Cicero:--

"The Dragon, like the sinuous course of a river, uncoils his
long scaly body, and surrounds with undulating folds the two
constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor."

Bringing together these different facts for the sake of comparison,
we arrive at the conclusion that the Polar Star, by whose
scintillating light the early mariners steered their tiny keels,
was not the Polaris of to-day--α in Ursa Minor--but α in the
constellation of the Dragon.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Arabs, those navigators of the Waterless Sea (as they poetically
designate the desert of Sahara), have bestowed particular
appellations on several stars; but they guide themselves rather by
their radiance than by their position. Thus, such stars as α Draco,
α Cepheus, α Cygnus, which have occupied, and, in the course of
centuries, will again occupy the place of Polaris, have received
no special denomination; while the stars of Ursa Major, α and β
(occupying the posterior angles of the chariot), are called Dubke and
Merak;[10] γ, δ, ε, ζ, η, which follow in due succession--Phegæa,
or Phad, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar, and Ackaïr, or Benetnasch. Certain
stars in the same constellation, which are barely visible, have also
received distinctive names: such is Alcor, a star between the fifth
and sixth magnitude, in the tail of Ursa Major, between Mizar and
Benetnasch. This star, it is true, had a special use: it served the
Arabs as the test of a good eyesight.

A further proof that the Arabs founded their stellar nomenclature
almost exclusively upon the lustre and colour of the stars, is
obvious in the names which they gave to the stars forming the
constellation of Orion. (See Fig. 2.) Thus, α and β, two stars of the
first magnitude, occupying the right or eastern shoulder, and the
left or western foot of the giant-hunter, are called respectively,
Betelguese and Rigel; the star γ, named Bellatrix, in the left
shoulder, is of the second magnitude, like the stars δ, ε, ζ, which
represent Orion's Belt, and bear the names of "the Three Kings" and
"St James's Staff." Now the star η marking the right knee or inferior
eastern angle of the brilliant trapezium, is only of the third
magnitude; therefore, it has received no special designation.

The colour by which some stars are distinguished could not have
failed to be remarked by those observers who first began to
enumerate, or take census of, the celestial bodies. Thus Sirius,
the most refulgent of the stars of heaven, situated in Canis Major,
is of a bluish-white, like Rigel; and Arcturus, situated on the
prolongation of the tail of Ursa Major, is reddish-yellow, like

Sirius, or the Dog-star, rose heliacally at the hottest time of
the year, and hence the Greeks were accustomed to ascribe all the
diseases of the season to its influence. It was--

                      "The star
    Autumnal; of all stars, in dead of night,
    Conspicuous most, and named Orion's dog:
    Brightest it shines, but ominous, and dire
    Disease portends to miserable man."

To sum up: the figurative grouping of the stars, the variety of
their luminous magnificence, their position towards Polaris, the
determination of that position by the longitudinal circles passing
through the axis of the world, and twisted perpendicularly to this
axis by the circles parallel to the Equator,--such is the aggregate
of the elements which must, at a very early period, have presided
over the enumeration of those sparkling points, each of which is the
centre of a system.

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally, are there any stars which the eye cannot perceive? Such a
question would never have been propounded to the ancients. And why?
Because no reasoning would have drawn from them an admission that
it was possible by artificial means to enlarge the range of our
eyesight. They would have deemed it madness to pretend to improve
and develope what is not of human creation; the visual apparatus, as
it is bestowed on us by nature, they supposed to be the most perfect
instrument which man could imagine. And, in truth, nothing could
fairly be objected to this way of looking at things.

       *       *       *       *       *

The 48 constellations (21 northern, 12 zodiacal, and 15 austral)
indicated by Ptolemæus, contain a total of 1026 stars, whose relative
positions had been determined by Hipparchus. To undertake an
enumeration of the stars, and to transmit the result to posterity,
appeared to Pliny an audacity before which even a god would have
recoiled (_Hipparchus--ausus, rem etiam Deo improbam, annumerare
posteris stellas_).[11]

Yet numerous doubts had already risen in the mind of Hipparchus as
to the accuracy of the number recognised. In the first place, the
ancients undoubtedly knew, as we do, that the visual faculty is not
the same in all individuals; that there are some who, in the same
celestial space, see more stars than others. Many persons can discern
up to stars of the seventh magnitude, while with others the sight
fails far within that limit. The ancients must also have known, as
we do, that, for the enumeration to be complete, the sky must be
observed from all the points of the terrestrial surface on which
man is planted. Even in our own days the catalogues of the southern
heavens are far from being perfect. Finally, more than two thousand
years before the time of Galileo, Democritus had already enunciated
the opinion that the Milky Way was a mass of innumerable stars. All
these signs should have been accepted as warnings against premature

       *       *       *       *       *

The invention of telescopes suddenly enlarged the question, and it
became necessary to establish a line of demarcation between the
number of stars visible to the naked eye and the number visible
through the agency of the telescope. Argelander, the author of the
"Uranometria," has found that the stars visible to the naked eye,
over the entire surface of the heavens, range from 5000 to 5800. Otto
Struve, employing Herschel's method of computation, has estimated at
upwards of twenty millions (20,374,034) the number of stars visible
with the Herschel 20-feet telescope.

But, in presence of all the nebulæ resolvable into stellar
masses, and before the development of the artificial range of our
sight,--in presence, finally, of that hopeless perspective which
the more we discover the more we perceive how much there remains to
discover,--are we not forcibly carried back to our point of departure?

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

Ought not the imagination which, at the first glance, led us to
believe the number of stars to be infinite,--ought it not to draw us
nearer to the truth?

How should the imagination reveal to us, without difficulty, what
the intellect, assisted by the senses, can only discover after ages
of assiduous exertion?

These questions, it seems to us, are worthy of our studious

       *       *       *       *       *

We subjoin a table of the constellations in both hemispheres, with
the number of stars in each, for the convenience of our younger


    Ursa Minor, the Lesser Bear,                           24
    Ursa Major, the Great Bear,                            87
    Perseus, and Head of Medusa,                           59
    Auriga, the Charioteer,                                66
    Boötes, the Herdsman,                                  54
    Draco, the Dragon,                                     80
    Cepheus,                                               35
    Canes Venatici, the Greyhounds Asteria and Chara,      28
    Cor Caroli (Heart of Charles II.),                      3
    Triangulum, the Triangle,                              16
    Triangulum Minus, the Lesser Triangle,                 10
    Musca, the Fly,                                         6
    Lynx,                                                  44
    Leo Minor, the Lesser Lion,                            53
    Coma Berenicis, Hair of Queen Berenice,                43
    Cameleopardalis, the Giraffe,                          58
    Mons Menelaus, Mt. Menelaus,                            4
    Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown,                   21
    Serpens, the Serpent,                                  64
    Scutum Sobieski, Sobieski's Shield,                     8
    Hercules, with the Dog Cerberus,                      113
    Serpentarius, or Ophiuchus, the Serpent-Bearer,        74
    Taurus Poniatowski, Poniatowski's Bull,                 7
    Lyra, the Harp,                                        22
    Vulpeculus et Anser, the Fox and Goose,                37
    Sagitta, the Arrow,                                    18
    Aquila, the Eagle, with Antinous,                      71
    Delphinus, the Dolphin,                                18
    Cygnus, the Swan,                                      81
    Cassiopeia, the Lady in her Chair,                     55
    Equulus, the Horse's Head,                             10
    Lacerta, the Lizard,                                   16
    Pegasus, the Flying Horse,                             89
    Andromeda,                                             11
    Tarandus, the Rein-deer,                               12


    Phœnix,                                               13
    Apparatus Sculptoris, the Sculptor's Tools,            12
    Eridanus Fluvius, the River Po,                        84
    Hydrus, the Water-Snake,                               10
    Cetus, the Whale,                                      97
    Fornax Chemica, the Chemical Furnace,                  19
    Horologium, the Clock,                                 12
    Rheticulus Rhomboidialus,                              10
    Xiphias Dorado, the Sword-Fish,                         7
    Celapraxitellis, the Engraver's Tools,                 16
    Lepus, the Hare,                                       19
    Columba Noachi, Noah's Dove,                           10
    Orion,                                                 78
    Argo Navis, the Ship Argo,                             64
    Canis Major, the Great Dog,                            31
    Equulus Pictoris,                                       8
    Monoceros, the Unicorn,                                31
    Canis Minor, the Lesser Dog,                           14
    Chameleon,                                             10
    Pyxis Nautica, the Mariner's Compass,                   4
    Piscis Volans, the Flying-Fish,                         8
    Hydra, the Serpent,                                    60
    Sextans, the Sextant,                                  41
    Robur Carolinum (Charles II.'s Oak),                   12
    Antlia Pneumatica, the Air-Pump,                        3
    Crater, the Cup,                                       31
    Corvus, the Crow,                                       9
    Crux, the Cross,                                        6
    Apis Musca, the Bee or Fly,                             4
    Avis Indica, the Bird of Paradise,                     11
    Circinus, the Mariner's Compass,                        4
    Centaurus, the Centaur,                                35
    Lupus, the Wolf,                                       24
    Norma, or Euclid's Square,                             12
    Triangulum Australe, the Southern Triangle,             5
    Ara, the Altar,                                         9
    Telescopium, the Telescope,                             9
    Corona Australis, the Southern Crown,                  12
    Pavo, the Peacock,                                     14
    Indus, the Indian,                                     12
    Microscopium, the Microscope,                          10
    Octans Hadliensis, Hadley's Octant,                    43
    Grus, the Crane,                                       14
    Toucan, the American Goose,                             9
    Piscis Australis, the Southern Fish,                   24
    Mons Mensa, the Table Mountain,                        30


    Aries, the Ram,                                        66
    Taurus, the Bull,                                     141
    Gemini, the Twins,                                     85
    Cancer, the Crab,                                      83
    Leo, the Lion,                                         95
    Virgo, the Virgin,                                    110
    Libra, the Balance,                                    51
    Scorpio, the Scorpion,                                 44
    Sagittarius, the Archer,                               69
    Capricornus, the Goat,                                 51
    Aquarius, the Water-Bearer,                           108
    Pisces, the Fishes,                                   113


[Footnote 1: Tennyson, "In Memoriam," cvi.]

[Footnote 2: Homer, "Odyssey," v. 273.]

[Footnote 3: Homer, "Odyssey," Book v., 121-124.]

[Footnote 4: Ibid., Book xi., 571-574.]

[Footnote 5: The pole-star, however, is not the true polar point, but
distant from it about 1° 32', which, in A.D. 2100, will be decreased
to 26' 30".]

[Footnote 6: Homer, "Odyssey," Book v., 275.]

[Footnote 7: Manilius, "Astronomicon," Book i., 291-300.]

[Footnote 8: Manilius, "Astronomicon," i., 308, 309.]

[Footnote 9: This displacement amounts to about fifty seconds
annually, or, more accurately, to 50".3. It is easy, therefore, to
calculate that the complete rotation of the terrestrial axis around
the poles of the ecliptic will occupy 25,765 years.]

[Footnote 10: These are also called the Pointers, because an
imaginary line from the lower to the upper, prolonged in the same
direction, passes nearly over the Polar Star.]

[Footnote 11: Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," Book ii., 24.]




                        Ah, bitter chill it was!
      The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
    The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass,
      And silent was the flock in woolly fold.


The winter of 1867-68 will count among the severest recorded in
meteorological annals. As early as the winter solstice the cold began
to make itself felt. In a few days the centigrade thermometer sank to
12° below zero, through the influence of a very keen north-east wind.
At Paris, where, on an average, the winter temperature is two degrees
higher than in the surrounding country, the Seine was completely
frozen for upwards of a fortnight. To meet with a similar phenomenon
we must go back as far as 1788. In January 1830, when, on the 17th,
the temperature sank down to 17°.3, the Seine was also frozen, but
the ice speedily melted. The extreme cold of 1788 coincides, like
that of 1830, with the appearance of two comets. In bringing together
these and other similar facts, some writers are induced to believe
themselves authorised in establishing theories which attribute a
certain frigorific influence to the comets. But no such coincidence
existed in the winter of 1867-68, nor in any other years signalised
by the occurrence of excessive frost.

       *       *       *       *       *

What are we to think of the supposed influence of the moon upon the

This question, so constantly revived, is here not out of place. The
exceptionally prolonged cold, during which the thermometer remained
for three weeks below zero, the barometer oscillating between 76° and
76°·5, commenced on the 22d of December, three days before the new
moon; now, it is on Christmas-day, at 48 min. past 11 p.m., that the
moon is found in conjunction,--that is to say, has become completely
invisible to us by passing between the earth and the sun. And the
thaw, which terminated this period of frost, commenced on the 12th
of the following January, just three days after the full moon; the
exact moment of its opposition, when the moon reflected upon us the
whole hemisphere of its borrowed lustre, took place on the 9th, at 2
min. past 11 in the evening. It is then in the neighbourhood of the
syzygies (conjunction and opposition) of the moon that we must place
the commencement and termination of the cold period to which we have
been alluding.

We should not have thought of recalling these coincidences, if
it had not occurred to us that some meteorologists, in accordance
with the popular belief, have attributed to the syzygies a marked
influence on the changes of the weather. Toaldo has deduced from
half-a-century's observations, taken at Padua, this general fact,
that the maximum of influence manifests itself at the syzygies, and
somewhat more at the new than at the full moon; that the minimum
coincides with the first and second quarter; that the action of the
perigee (_minima_ distance of the moon from the earth) is equal to
that of the full moon; and that the action of the apogee (_maxima_
distance of the moon from the earth) is double that of the quarters.
Observe that the Italian meteorologist extended this influence to
three days before and three days after a phase, for the moon's
passage through the syzygies; while he restricted it to a day before
and a day after, for the quadratures.

The work which Toaldo did for the climate of Padua, Pilgram had
already executed for that of Vienna. But the result at which he
arrived, after five-and-twenty years of observation (from 1763 to
1788), was the contrary to that of Toaldo: namely, that the new
moon is the least active of all the phases in reference to changes
of weather. What, then, are we to conclude? That the problem is one
of extreme difficulty, and that there are probably several elements
necessary to its solution, which at present escape us. Then, too,
we ought to have a clear understanding of what is meant by "changes
of weather;" we must eliminate all vagueness from the word, and not
allow it to be governed by any preconceived theory.


    Thick clouds ascend, in whose capacious womb
    A vapoury deluge lies, to snow congealed.
    Heavy they roll their fleecy world along,
    And the sky saddens with the gathered storm.
    Through the hushed air the whitening shower descends;
    At first thin wavering; till at last the flakes
    Fall broad, and wide, and fast, dimming the day
    With a continual flow.

    --THOMSON, _The Seasons_.

The earth is covered with snow; it is enveloped, as the poets say, in
a shroud of white. But this phrase, poetical as it may appear, is, in
reality, inadmissible. A shroud is used to wrap round a dead body, a
corpse, whose elements, since they are no longer maintained united by
the undefinable principle of life, go to form other compounds,--more
permanent and lasting,--which will mingle with the earth, the water,
and the air. But the earth which the snow covers preserves, on the
contrary, the germ of life in the seeds and roots of plants; it
rests itself, only for the purpose of communicating, at the return
of spring, a new impulse to the sap, whose circulation sleeps during

The moment is propitious for studying the snow: come, then, let us
examine it.

And, first, what is snow? Put a little into the hollow of your hand,
and see what transpires.

It melts, and leaves nothing but water as a residuum.

Snow, then, is frozen water,--water which existed in the atmosphere
in the state of vapour, and which, to speak the language of
physicists, has passed from the gaseous state into the liquid, and
thence into the solid. If you doubt its identity with water, let a
chemist analyse a portion of it for you: he will tell you that it
is composed, like distilled water, of hydrogen and oxygen, in the
proportion of two parts of the former to one part of the latter.
The reader will, of course, understand that we abstract all foreign
substances which may accidentally have got mixed up with it.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--A Snowy Landscape.]

It was once a wide-spread opinion that snow is favourable to
vegetation, on account of the salts which it contains. Analysis,
however, gave a negative result; it demonstrated the absence of these
salts. Recourse was then had to another hypothesis: it was supposed
that the air contained in snow is richer in oxygen than the free air,
and that to the action of this gas must be attributed its fertilising
property. Another error! The truth really is, that snow maintains the
soil which it covers at a perceptibly constant temperature, and that,
when thawing, it mellows it by its aqueous infiltrations; so that
if, before a fall of snow, the earth has experienced the action of a
strong frost capable of killing injurious insects, all the chances
will be in favour of a fertile year.

       *       *       *       *       *

Snow forms crystals. To observe them clearly, you must examine the
snow which falls in very cold and dry weather. It then appears to be
a dust composed of little thin plates. Look at the small flake which
has fallen on your coat-sleeve; it is isolated; hasten to examine
it before it melts, or before other flakes become amalgamated with
it. What a graceful star! (Fig. 6, _a_). It is formed of six regular
rays. There are others which have only three, four, or five rays. But
on inspecting these more closely, you see that many of these rays
are broken or abortive, and that, when finally analysed, each star
possesses the same number of rays.

Why are there continually six rays? Why are there never more nor
fewer than this number? One might suspect in nature a peculiar
affection for the number _six_; as, for example, in the cells of the
bees and the wasps, which form a regular hexagon (Fig. 6, _b_). Why,
in the infinity of polygons, has the instinct of these insects only
chosen one hexagon? What is the reason for this preference?

[Illustration: _a b c_

FIG. 6.]

If you interrogate geometry, it will reply to you that, of all the
polygons inscribed in a circle (Fig. 6, _c_), there is but one whose
sides are equal to the radius of that circle; and this polygon is
exactly that of the bee and wasp's cell. Here, then, is a very
singular coincidence. If you afterwards examine very minutely the
work of the bee, you will find in each cell of the honeycomb a
pyramidal base, composed of three equal rhombs, whose angles solve a
grand geometrical problem, that of giving the maximum of space with
the minimum of matter. The papier-maché combs of the wasp are formed
of a single row of cells, each of which has a nearly level bottom.
This is all that is required; for these cells are destined, not for
the reception of honey, but only of the larvæ, the offspring of their

Do not think that you have but to pick up a thumbful of snow to
procure your crystals! These change their form very quickly, and
it is almost impossible to detect it in snow which has remained
for any length of time upon the ground. The great flakes which
fall in relatively mild weather, when the temperature borders upon
freezing-point, are often nothing better than masses of small
amorphous atoms of ice; to get at the crystals, you must remove the
kind of icy varnish which encases them.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the accurate observation of the crystallisation of water which
precipitates itself in the air, we have at our disposal a means
as simple as convenient--a pane of glass. All we have to do is to
arrange everything in such a manner that the congelation shall
be both slow and certain; on this condition alone can we obtain
well-defined crystals. A cold room is best adapted for this kind of
experimentation; and thus you will frequently see deposited upon the
window-glass, in an uninhabited chamber, some exceedingly graceful
designs, as follow.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.]

These are asteriæ,--arborescent, and leaf-like crystals,--imitating
the beautiful foliage of ferns and mosses. The severer the cold, the
more regular, be it understood, is the formation of these crystals.

Owing to its dazzling whiteness, snow is a great reflector of light,
and singularly illuminates the darkness of the winter nights. The
long dreary nights of the polar world are lit up by the glories
of the magnetic auroras, joined to the radiancy of the snow. This
induces us to repeat a question which we have often addressed to
ourselves, namely,--under what aspect must the very varied changes
which the solar light experiences on the surface of our planet be
presented to the inhabitants of Mars and Venus? A more attentive
observation of the ashen-gray light of the moon, which appears to be
principally produced by the reflection of the more or less luminous
face of the earth, may perhaps one day provide us with an answer to
our question.

Before quitting this subject, let us remember that both snow and
frost are of great utility to the husbandman. The latter, by
expanding the humidity with which the hard clods are penetrated,
crumbles them into powder, and renders stiff land porous, friable,
and mellow. It also clears the soil from the plague of insect life,
which, if it increased without so powerful a check, would probably
prove a terrible injury to the crops. Moreover, it so hardens in
winter the moist soft ground as to permit of the necessary field
operations being carried on. Snow, as Dr Child remarks,[12] is even
more useful. It covers up the tender plants with a thick mantle,
which defends them against the attacks of excessive cold. "God
giveth snow like wool," and for somewhat the same purposes as wool.
The mantle which so closely wraps about the gaunt limbs of the
winter-stricken earth neither allows the internal heat to escape
nor the external cold to enter in. It has been found that the
inner surface of the snow seldom falls much below 32° F., although
the temperature of the external air may be many degrees under the
freezing-point; and it is known that this amount of cold can be
endured by the crops without injury, so long as their covering
protects them from the raking influence of the wind. In climates
where the winter's cold is longer and more intense than in England,
the protective influence of snow is much more plainly shown. Where it
lies long and deep, it opens out routes that were impracticable in
summer on account of their ruggedness, and prepares a smooth path for
the sledge, or for the "lumberer," over which the largest trunks of
the forest may be carried with ease to the river or canal.

In the polar regions (we quote from Dr Child) snow supplies the
ever-ready material out of which the Esquimaux construct their
houses, and hardy explorers extemporise the huts in which they find
shelter when absent from their ships on distant expeditions. Nor are
the ships themselves considered "snug winter quarters" until their
sides have been banked up in walls of snow, and the roof raised over
the deck has been thickly covered with it. Snow huts are warmer than
might have been expected. If built upon ice over the sea, their
temperature is sensibly influenced by the heat of the unfrozen water
below, which is said seldom to fall much under 40º F. in any part of
the ocean. Even where the external temperature has sunk to 20º or
30º below zero, sufficient warmth is produced in a snow hut by the
huddling together of three or four persons within it. When Dr Elisha
Kane, the American explorer, passed a cold arctic winter's night in a
hut beyond Smith's Sound, the temperature produced by its complement
of lodgers, and two or three oil lamps, reached 90º F.; so that he
was compelled by the heat to follow the example of the rest of the
party, and partially to divest himself of his clothing. Yet in lat.
79º N., Dr Kane marked a temperature of 75º below zero in the month
of February. No fluid could resist it. Even chloric ether became
solid, and the air was pungent and acrid in respiration.


As if it had been ordained that there should be nothing absolute in
nature, snow itself, the very type of whiteness, sometimes exhibits
the most curious colouring. Who, for instance, has not heard tell of
_red snow_? Its existence was even known to Pliny, the great Roman
naturalist, and he attributed it to a dust with which the snow became
covered after it had lain several days on the ground. "Snow itself,"
he says[13] "reddens with old age" (_Ipsa nix vetustate rubescit_).

Benedict de Saussure was the first who described red snow like a
naturalist.[14] He observed it on the occasion of his ascent of
Mont Breven, near Chamounix, in 1760; and was greatly astonished
at seeing the snow tinted in various places of an extremely vivid
red. "In the middle of each patch," he says, "was the greatest
intensity of colour, and the middle, moreover, was of a lower level
than the edges. On examining this red snow closely, I saw that its
colour depended upon a fine powder which mingled with it, and which
penetrated to a depth of two or three inches. This powder could not
have descended from the summit of the mountain, since it was found in
localities isolated and even remote from the rocks; nor did it seem
to have been deposited by the winds, since it did not lie in drifts.
One would have said that it was a production of the snow itself, a
residuum of its thaw.... What at first suggested this opinion was the
fact that the colour, extremely weak on the edges of each concave
patch, gradually grew deeper as it approached the bottom, where the
trickling water had carried down a greater quantity of residuum."

       *       *       *       *       *

The learned Swiss naturalist found this red snow on many other
mountains, and during a certain period of thaw, subjected it to
various experiments, which led him to the conclusion that it was a
vegetable matter, "a dust, or pollen, of the stamens of plants."
Slightly odorous, it exhaled, during combustion, a scent not unlike
that of sealing-wax.

Ramond met with red snow in the Pyrenees, at an elevation of 7800
feet. He discovered in it, when burnt on incandescent coals, the
odour of opium or of chicory. He supposed that the little deep red
lamellæ which coloured the snow were mica, and looked upon the mica
as a product of the decomposition of the rocks by the action of the
sun and breezes of spring. But this opinion was overthrown by Captain
Ross, who, in 1819, found red snow in Baffin's Bay (lat. 85° 54'
N.), to a depth of thirteen feet, over a soil perfectly free from
mica. Other explorers affirm that in those regions they have never
met with the red snow more than three to four inches deep. Captain
Parry, in his Polar voyage, found this coloured snow principally
in the track of his sledges; and, agreeing with Sir John Ross, he
supposed it to derive its redness from the presence of a kind of
mushroom, of the genus _Uredo_, to which Bauer has given the name
of _Uredo nivalis_.[15] According to experiments made by Bauer on
specimens brought from the Polar regions, these tiny mushrooms are,
on the average, a fiftieth of a millimètre in diameter; they develop
themselves like vegetables; the youngest are sometimes colourless;
when entirely freed from snow, they grow black under the influence of
an intense cold, without losing their germinative faculty, and give
birth, under the influence of a higher temperature, to a green matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us continue to examine the difference of opinion between

De Candolle declared the red snow of the polar regions to be
identical with that of the Alps, after having carefully compared
the two. But he saw in it a genus of cryptogams, differing from the
genus _Uredo_.[16] Robert Brown asserted that it was a kind of alga,
allied to the _Tremella cruenta_. Azara was of this same opinion,
except that, instead of a tremella, he recognised in it an alga of
the genus _Protococcus_, which he called _Protococcus kermesinus_,
because its colour resembled that of the kermes, or cochineal.

In the opinion of the observers whom we have cited, the colouring
corpuscles of the snow belong to the vegetable kingdom. This opinion
was supported by numerous adherents, and soon acquired so great
an authority, that, in an assembly of naturalists at Lausanne, De
Candolle overwhelmed with sarcasm a communication from Lamont, Prior
of the Hospice of St Bernard, on the "animality of red snow." And yet
this last hypothesis was not so rash as might have been supposed; for
Dr Scoresby, to whom we owe a profound study on the crystalline forms
of snow, had already attributed to an animal matter the colouring of
the snow and polar ice.

Now-a-days, however, it may be regarded as finally settled that
this phenomenon is due to the immense aggregation of minute plants
belonging to the species called _Protococcus nivalis_;[17] so
called in allusion to the extreme simplicity of its organisation,
and the peculiar nature of its habitat. If we place a portion of
the snow coloured with this plant upon a piece of white paper,
says Mr Macmillan,[18] and allow it to melt and evaporate, we find
a residuum of granules just sufficient to give a faint crimson
tinge to the paper. Placed under the microscope, these granules
resolve themselves into spherical purple cells, from the 1/1000th
to the 1/3000th part of an inch in diameter. Each of these cells
has an opening, surrounded by serrated or indented lines, whose
smallest diameter does not exceed the 1/5000th part of an inch! When
perfect, the plant is not unlike a red-currant berry; as it decays,
the red colouring matter fades into a deep orange, and the deep
orange changes into a dull brown. The thickness of the wall of the
cell does not exceed the 1/20000th part of an inch! Each cell may
be considered a distinct individual plant, since it is perfectly
independent of others with which it may be aggregated, and performs
for and by itself all the functions of growth and reproduction,
having a containing membrane which absorbs liquids and gases from
the surrounding matrix or elements, a contained fluid of peculiar
character, formed out of these materials, and a number of excessively
minute granules, equivalent to spores, or, as some would say, to
cellular buds, which are to become the genus of new plants. There is
something, adds Mr Macmillan, extremely mysterious in the performance
of these widely different functions, by an organism which appears
so excessively simple. That one and the same primitive cell should
thus minister equally to absorption, nutrition, and reproduction,
is an extraordinary illustration of the fact, that the smallest and
simplest organised object is, in itself, and for the part it was
created to perform in the operations of nature, as admirably adapted
as the largest and most complicated.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--Protococcus nivalis.]


The epithet "eternal" or "perpetual," applied to snow, would appear
to savour of the ambitious, if not of the profane. Can we say of
anything which belongs to earth that it is "eternal?" Assuredly not.
The earth has not always worn the aspect which it now wears, and, at
a period not far distant from its origin, could not in any region
have been covered with snow. Now, whatever has had a beginning cannot
be eternal. Many authors have, for this reason, substituted for
the word _eternal_ the word _perpetual_. But the latter is equally
inapplicable. Who will venture to affirm that our globe or its system
will endure _perpetually_?

This difficulty, however, is one which need not particularly
embarrass us. We have been long accustomed to look upon language as a
simple mask, or, at least, as a very dubious interpreter of thought.
And we shall, therefore, continue to use indifferently the words
"eternal" and "perpetual."

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us suppose that two travellers set out from the equator,
that plane of separation between the northern and the southern
hemispheres. Let us also suppose that each proceeds in a
diametrically opposite direction to the other, pursuing his route
along one of those meridian lines which divide the earth into
longitudinal portions, like the slices of a melon (to compare great
things with small). The following will be their climatic stages:--

 At first the two travellers will each traverse a moiety of the
 _torrid zone_, limited below and above the Equator by two parallel
 circles,--in the northern hemisphere by the Tropic of Cancer, and in
 the southern by the Tropic of Capricorn. Do not let these appellations
 alarm you: they show, once more, the narrow connexity of the heaven
 with the earth; _tropic_, coming from the Greek τροπή signifies a
 return--the sun returns from his apparent excursions, after having
 passed from the tropics to the zenith. For these circles form the
 extreme limits of the sun's march towards the north and towards the
 south: they are the two solstices--the summer solstice, when the sun
 enters the zodiacal sign of Cancer, and the winter solstice, when it
 enters the sign of Capricorn. The torrid zone is the only one which
 is thus divided into two portions by the Equinoctial, and which the
 sun passes twice a year to the zenith, that is, to the point directly
 above the heads of the inhabitants.

After having crossed the tropics, one of our two travellers will
enter the _North Temperate Zone_, bounded by the Arctic Polar
Circle--the other, the _South Temperate Zone_, bounded by the
Antarctic Polar Circle. Having passed the polar circles, they will
find themselves speedily arrested by ice and snow which never
melt--by eternal ice and snow. These inhospitable regions compose
the two _frigid zones_, which cover, like two immense hoods (forming
the 0·82 parts of the terrestrial surface), the one, the northern
hemisphere, the other, the southern.[19]

In their progress through these various climates, our two travellers
will arrive at a very curious comparative result,--that the southern
hemisphere is colder than the northern. This difference becomes
especially recognisable below the 50th degree of south latitude;
so that, after passing the Antarctic Circle, the ice opposes the
voyager's course with nearly insurmountable obstacles; while, in the
northern hemisphere, the whaler frequently penetrates to Spitzbergen,
situated much nearer to the Pole than to the Polar Circle. This is a
general fact; we confine ourselves to putting it forward.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us now suppose that our two travellers, always ready to compare
the results of their inquiries, accomplish the ascent of a very
lofty mountain situated under the Equator, such as Chimborazo. In
the course of their ascent, they will traverse the same climates and
the same zones which had marked the stages of their journey from
the Equator to the Poles: at their starting-point they will find
themselves in the Torrid zone, then will come the Temperate and
the Frigid zones, the latter rendered inaccessible by glaciers and
eternal snows. These vertical zones of the mountain are characterised
by vegetables and animals whose types are found in the corresponding
horizontal zones of the terrestrial surface. But what is most
remarkable is, that there exists between the northern and the
southern slopes of the mountain the same difference as between the
southern and northern hemispheres: the line of the eternal snows
descends much lower on the northern than on the southern slope,
in the same manner as, in the southern hemisphere, the polar ice
advances much nearer the Equator than in the northern.

Such is the general view-point which we must adopt for the clearer
comprehension of the details of observation. Of course, when speaking
of the limit of the eternal snows, we refer only to the _lower_
limit, that is to say, to the greatest elevation attained by the
snow-line in the course of a single year. As for the _upper_ limit,
it entirely escapes us; for the summits of the loftiest mountains
do not reach the atmospheric strata which, by virtue of their
refraction, cannot contain any vesicular, aqueous, or condensable

The line of eternal snow which, _at the poles_, is found on the level
of the ground, gradually rises as we approach the torrid zone, where
it attains its maximum of elevation, from 13,000 to 17,000 feet.
This phenomenon does not exclusively depend upon the geographical
latitude, nor on the mean annual temperature of the locality: it is
the result of an aggregate of diverse circumstances which we have not
the space here to enumerate and discuss. We shall content ourselves
with placing before the reader a table which will show the remarkable
differences existing in the height of the perpetual snow-line in
various places.


    | Latitude. |         Place.          |   Height of    |
    |  (Degs.)  |                         |   Snow-Line.   |
    |    79 N.  | Spitzbergen             |          0     |
    |    71     | Mageroe (Norway)        |      2,350     |
    | 70 to 60  | Norway (Interior of)    | 3,500 to 5,100 |
    |    65     | Iceland                 |      3,050     |
    |    54     | Oonalashka (W. America) |      3,510     |
    |    50     | Altai Mountains         |      7,034     |
    |    45     | Alps, The, N. declivity |      8,885     |
    |    45     |    Do.,    S. declivity |      9,150     |
    |    43     | The Caucasus            |     11,863     |
    |    43     | The Pyrenees            |      9,000     |
    |    40     | Mount Ararat            |     14,150     |
    |    36     | Karakorum, N. side      |     17,500     |
    |    36     |    Do.,    S. side      |     19,300     |
    |    36     | Kuen-luen, N. side      |     15,000     |
    |    35     |    Do.,    S. side      |     15,680     |
    |    29     | Himalaya,  N. side      |     19,560     |
    |    28     |    Do.,    N. side      |     15,500     |
    |    17     | Cordilleras of Mexico   |     14,650     |
    |    13     | Ethiopian Mountains     |     14,075     |
    |           |                         |                |
    |     1 S.  | Andes, in Quito         |     15,680     |
    |    16     |  Do.,  in Bolivia, E.   |     15,800     |
    |    18     |  Do.,  in Bolivia, W.   |     18,400     |
    |    33     |  Do.,  in Chili         |     14,600     |
    |    43     |  Do.,  in Patagonia     |      6,300     |
    |    54     | Strait of Magelhaens    |      3,700     |


If men have the faculty of living under all climates, they make use
of that faculty, as we know, with extreme reserve. They have never
permanently inhabited the polar regions and the perpetually snowy
summits of the mountains: it is only at intervals that a few pioneers
have temporarily ventured thither. Starting from this fact, it was
long believed that the zone of eternal snows was not inhabited by
any living being. Even men of science admitted, as an article of
faith, that where man could not fix his residence no animal could
live. They made, however, a concession with respect to vegetables,
and particularly as regarded the lichens and the mosses.

Well, observation and research conjointly, have erased this article
of faith from the scientific code. It has been demonstrated that
the icy regions, which man visits only at rare intervals, and
where he sojourns but for a time, are the home of a certain number
of animal species, more or less allied to the human species. The
scientific exploration of these regions dates only from our own time.
Spitzbergen, and the summit of the Alps,--such are our points of

It is difficult to conceive of anything more interesting than the
historical exposition of the limited _Fauna glacialis_. First, let us
take the discovery, comparatively recent, of a small rodent of the
mouse order.


On the 8th of January 1832, a Swiss naturalist, M. Hugi, started
from Soleure to study the winter condition of the classic glacier of
Grindelwald. The undertaking was in many respects a difficult one;
the sides of the Mettenberg, bordering on this glacier, were covered
with an uniform stratum of hardened snow; a pathway had to be cut out
with the pickaxe. M. Hugi and his companions did not arrive at the
Stierreg until towards evening.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--Among the Alps.]

A goatherd lives there during the summer. They sought around and
about for his little cabin, but, on the uniform white carpet of snow
which covered everything, no sign of it could be detected. At length
they came upon a little mound, which they immediately proceeded to
excavate; and late in the night they discovered the roof of the hut.
They then redoubled their efforts to sweep away the snow obstructing
the door. On opening it a score of mice emerged from the cabin, some
of which they killed.

For a picture of the poor victims we are indebted to M. Hugi. "These
little rodents are of a yellowish gray, and very slender; from the
head to the tip of the tail they measure about nine inches. The hind
paws are of a length wholly disproportionate to the fore paws. The
tail and ears are naked; their transparency is remarkable.... This
animal," adds M. Hugi, "appeared to me completely unknown, and I do
not remember to have seen it in any zoological collection."

After determining its genus and species, the intrepid explorer of the
Alps was entitled to have given it a name; but this honour escaped

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--The Arctic Vole.]

The same little rodent has since been found in many other parts of
the Alps; notably among the rocks of the Grands-Mulets, some 12,500
feet above the sea-level.

Desirous of comparing the climate of Spitzbergen with that of the
summit of the Alps, M. Martins established himself, in 1841, with
his friend, A. Bravais, on the Faulhorn. "While," he says, "we were
engaged in our experiments, we often perceived a little animal
passing swiftly by us, and stealthily gliding into its burrow. We
remarked that it was also found in the _auberge_, or inn, and that
it fed upon Alpine plants. At the first glance, its resemblance to
the common mouse led us to think that this inconvenient guest had
followed man into his abode on the Faulhorn, as it had formerly
crossed the seas on board ship. But a more attentive examination
showed me that, far from being a mouse, it was a species of vole,
which had hitherto escaped the researches of naturalists. I
designated it by the name of the snow-vole, _Arvicola nivalis_."

It was the same animal which M. Hugi had discovered nine years
before. The ice was broken, and names, both generic and specific,
afterwards fell like hail on the body of our poor little rodent. Some
would have had it called--

    Hypudæus alpinus.
    Hypudæus petrophilus.
    Hypudæus nivicola.
    Hypudæus Hugei.

Others, and fewer in number, preferred the designation of
"White-tailed Vole,"--

      Arvicola leucurus.

Others again, "the Lebrun vole,"--

      Arvicola Lebrunii.

Which of all these names shall prevail? We cannot say, and it matters
very little to us. Perhaps the nomenclators may in time agree among
themselves upon the appellation of the genus. However this may be, we
know--and it is an important fact--that a mammal exists at altitudes
where men could not live, and that he is found in the Alps, above
even the lower limit of the perpetual snows. Is it the only mammal
which can live at such a height?


Who, in the wide world of London, where so many waifs and strays are
drifting with the great current of human life, has not observed the
Savoyard wanderer with his dancing marmot? If the man did not attract
our notice, his curious companion would. In form he belongs partly
to the bear, and partly to the rat. Naturalists have, therefore,
expressly created for him the genus _Arctomys_,--a Latinised Greek
name, signifying "The Bear-Rat."

In fact, the marmot resembles Harlequin's cloak, or rather, if it
be permissible to compare little things with great, the Austrian
Empire,--a composite of territories and races; and Buffon has
described him very aptly. He has, he says, the nose, the lips,
and the shape of the head of the hare; the hair and nails of the
badger; the teeth of the beaver; the cat's whiskers; the eyes of the
dormouse; the feet of the bear, with a short tail and truncated ears.

Add to this that the marmot--he is a little larger than a rabbit--is
omnivorous like man and the bear, with whom he shares his aptitude
for dance and sport. While he eats any and everything, he
nevertheless prefers vegetable food to all other kinds; and with his
orange-coloured incisors gnaws the bark of shrubs. He rarely drinks,
but when he does drink takes a hearty draught; is particularly fond
of milk; drinks it by raising his head at each mouthful, like a hen,
and giving utterance to an audible murmur of contentment, just as
if he were reciting his _Benedicite_. Will it be in allusion to
this characteristic that the common French phrase has originated,
_Marmotter des prières_?[20]

During the summer the marmots inhabit the snowy summits of the Alps.
At the beginning of autumn they descend to a lower level, for the
purpose of excavating the burrows in which they pass the winter,
completely benumbed by the frost. This is the time when the hunters
easily capture them; they have nothing to do but to dig (_creuser_
is the technical word); and frequently they are found as many as ten
or twelve in the same burrow, rolled up like balls, and buried in a
litter of hay. Their sleep, says De Saussure, is so profound, that
the hunter deposits them in his sack and carries them away without
awakening them. The Chamounix hunters, he adds, have already entirely
expelled or destroyed the goats formerly so abundant on their
mountains; and it is probable that, in less than a century, we shall
see neither chamois nor marmots.

This prophecy of De Saussure's is on the point of being realised.
Still, even at the present day, marmots are not very rare in the
Valais and the canton of Ticino (du Tissin), where they are called
_Mure montane_ (mountain rats); a phrase from which is derived,
without doubt, the appellation _marmot_. They prefer as their abode
the stony islets which rise here and there in the midst of the rocks.
The ears of travellers who venture into the barrenest recesses of the
Alps of the Bernese Oberland are sometimes struck by a very sharp
whistling, for which, at first, they find it difficult to account. It
is the young marmot's cry of alarm; for the old appear to be deprived
of this strident faculty.

For a considerable period only a single species was known--the marmot
properly so called (_Arctomys marmotta_, Gmelin); but four others
must now be added:--1st, The marmot of the Caucasus (_Arctomys
musicus_), still imperfectly known; 2d, The marmot of Canada
(_Arctomys empetra_), who clambers up the trees like a cat, and is
distributed throughout all North America, particularly in Hudson's
Bay, and Alaska, on the north-west coast; 3d, The _Arctomys monax_,
who appears to be peculiar to Maryland; 4th, The Russian marmot
(_Arctomys citillus_), of the size of a field-mouse, and of a brown
colour, spotted with white; 5th, The marmot of Siberia (_Arctomys
bobac_), smaller than the common species, of a yellow gray, and
building vast burrows shaped like a funnel.

Will the reader permit us an allusion, in passing, to a question
which we do not see discussed in books of natural history? Formerly
among the treasures of ancient druggists figured a kind of panacea,
called "Graetz's balls." What were these "Graetz's balls," at one
time esteemed as a universal medicine, but no longer included in our

This was their origin:--The subterranean dwellings which certain
species of marmots construct with so much skill, are each composed
of two galleries, which unite together like the arms of a Y, and
terminate in a _cul-de-sac_. There are found the globules of clay
known as "Graetz's balls." They are an industrial product of
our rodents, as M. Oscar Schmidt established in 1866, by close
observation of the _Arctomys bobac_ of the Zoological Garden of
Vienna. The marmot creates these balls by scratching up the earth,
and appears to amuse himself--a child's amusement!--by rolling them
to and fro in his galleries.


                  "Even so
    This way the chamois leapt."[21]

Must we omit this graceful ruminant from the number of mammals
inhabiting the eternal snows? No; for it is not of his own will that
the chamois has taken refuge upon the snowy peaks of the Alps. If we
meet with him there, it is because he seeks to shelter himself from
the destructive instincts of man.

The chamois is one of those animal species which, before a century,
perhaps, will have disappeared; his bones will then figure in the
palæontological museums by the side of the skeletons of extinct
species. There, too, will be displayed the famous _chamois balls_,
each of the size of a nut, covered with a shining substance
resembling leather, of an agreeable odour, and seeming to be a morbid
dejection, composed of roots and other undigested matter. These
balls, the _bezoars_ of the old physicians, were regarded as a remedy
against every ill the human flesh is heir to; it was even professed
that they rendered soldiers invulnerable, and were a better defence
against bullets than the finest armour ever wrought by the smiths of
Milan. How precious a remedy for this epoch of civilisation, when
man--is he much wiser than his supposed progenitor, the ape?--seeks
to replace the cholera and the pestilence by the most terrific
engines of destruction!

       *       *       *       *       *

The birds inhabiting the inhospitable region of the snows are more
numerous than the mammals. Let us briefly refer to a few of the more


In speaking of the eagle, Tennyson's noble lines to that "imperial
bird" will occur to every reader, from the force and clearness of the
picture which they present:--

    "He clasps the crag with hookèd hands;
    Close to the sun in lonely lands,
    Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

    "The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
    He watches from his mountain walls,
    And like a thunderbolt he falls."

The affection of the eagle for his "mountain walls" may be easily
understood. This giant bird, with his carnivorous instincts, is
endowed with a remarkable tenacity of life, and can exist in habitats
wholly inaccessible to man. But it is strange that a bird, which
is as common a type of humility as the eagle is of ambition, and
which we almost always cite as a contrast to the eagle--we mean, the
delicate little wren--should also be found among the snow and ice,
the silence and solitude, of the loftiest mountain regions.

To study the flight of the eagle, we should repair to Alpine
highlands. When he has reached a certain altitude of the atmosphere,
the royal bird descends obliquely, as upon an inclined plane, with
a rush and a din of wings, and at a speed of upwards of thirty-six
yards per second. We assured ourselves of the accuracy of this fact
during an ascent of Mount Hochkœrpf, in the canton of Glaris. The
bird traversed in six minutes a space of 40,000 Swiss feet, which
is equal to about forty yards per second. This result agrees, on
the whole, with the observations of a traveller, who wrote in the
_Nouvelle Gazette de Zurich_, on the 26th of August 1863:--

"A society of tourists set out from Corri to climb the Stützerhorn,
which is 8400 feet in height. From the summit they perceived an
enormous eagle, which, having taken his flight from Calanda, beyond
the Rhine, directed his course towards the Stützerhorn, for the
purpose of halting, after a certain inflection, on the side of the

The duration of the flight was five minutes; the interval between
the starting-point and the point of arrival, two French leagues and
a half. In three hundred seconds, therefore, the eagle must have
traversed a space of 3000 Swiss feet, which is equal to a speed of
forty-five yards per second. Hence, the swiftness of the eagle's
flight is nearly equal to the velocity of sound.

One of the most admirable descriptions of the habits of this bird
with which we are acquainted, is furnished by the well-known
naturalist Macgillivray:--

"There he stands"--on his lonely crag--"nearly erect, with his
tail depressed, his large wings half raised by his side, his neck
stretched out, and his eye glistening as he glances around. Like
other robbers of the desert, he has a noble aspect, an imperative
mien, a look of proud defiance; but his nobility has a cast of
clownishness, and his falconship a vulturine tinge. Still he is a
noble bird, powerful, independent, proud, and ferocious, regardless
of the weal or woe of others, and intent only on the gratification of
his own appetite; without generosity, without honour; bold against
the defenceless, but ever ready to sneak from danger. Such is his
nobility, about which men have so raved.

"Suddenly he raises his wings, for he has heard the whistle of the
shepherd on the crag, and bounding forward, he springs into the air.
Hardly do those vigorous flaps serve at first to prevent his descent,
but now curving upwards, he glides majestically along. As he passes
the corner of that buttressed and battlemented crag, forth rush two
ravens from their nest, croaking fiercely. While one flies above
him, the other steals beneath, and they essay to strike him, but
dare not, for they have an instinctive knowledge of the power of his
grasp; and, after following him a little way, they return to their
home, vainly exulting in the thought of having driven him from their

"But on a far journey, he advances in a direct line, flapping his
great wings at regular intervals, then shooting along without seeming
to move them. In ten minutes he has progressed three miles, although
he is in no haste, and now disappears behind the shoulder of the
hill. But we may follow him in imagination, for his habits being well
known to us, we may be allowed the ornithological license of tracing
them in continuance."

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--The Eagle's Habitat.]

Homeward bound,--Mr Macgillivray continues,--after having supplied
his own wants, he knows that his young must be provided with
food. Therefore he sweeps across the moor, at a height of two or
three hundred feet, bending his course to either side, his wings
wide-spread, his neck and feet retracted, now beating the air, and
again sailing smoothly along. Suddenly he halts, poises himself for
a moment, stoops, but recovers himself without touching the ground.
The object of his regards, a golden plover, which he spied on her
nest, has contrived to elude him, and he does not care to pursue
her. Now, then, he ascends a little, wheels in short abrupt curves,
presently rushes down headlong, assumes the horizontal position when
close to the ground, prevents himself from being dashed against it by
expanding his wings and tail, thrusts forth his talons, and grasping
a poor, terrified ptarmigan that sat cowering among the gray lichens,
squeezes it to death, raises his head exultingly, utters a clear,
shrill cry, and, rising from the ground, pursues his journey.

As he passes a tall cliff overhanging a silent lake, he is attacked
by a fierce peregrine falcon, which darts and plunges at him, as
if resolved to deprive him of his booty, or drive him headlong to
the ground. A more formidable foe is this than the raven; and the
eagle, with a scream and a yelp, throws himself into postures of
defence, until, at length, the hawk, perceiving that the tyrant has
no intention of plundering his nest, leaves him to pursue his course
without further molestation. Over dense woods, and green fields,
and scattered hamlets, the eagle speeds; and now he enters the long
river-valley, near whose upper end, cradled in mist, rises the rock
of his eyrie. About a mile from it he meets his mate, who has been
abroad on a similar design, and is returning with a white hare as
her spoil. With loud strident cries they congratulate each other,
cries that alarm the drowsy shepherd on the green strath below, who,
remembering the lambs carried off in spring-time, discharges at them
a volley of maledictions.

Their nest is of considerable size, but rudely constructed; a pile
of twigs and heather and dead sticks, somewhat hollow in the middle,
where lies a thin deposit of wool and feathers. Here repose the
eaglets, two in number, and clothed in soft white down.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--The Lammergeier.]

Independently of the species which, like the _Pandion haliætus_, and
the _Aquila nævia_, inhabit the lower regions, the eagles which visit
the Alps are very remarkable. Thus, the species of _Gypaëtos_, which
the inhabitants designate under the name of the _Lammergeier_, or
"Lamb-slayer," is the European condor. The spread of his wings is
about ten feet; he weighs from eighteen to twenty-four pounds, and
can easily carry off in his talons kids, lambs, and even children.

The _Steinadler_, which, like the preceding, belongs to the
inaccessible mountains of the cantons of Glaris, Schwyz, the Grisons,
Appenzell, and Berne, would seem to be a variety or sub-species of
the _Aquila imperialis_. The inhabitants of Eblingen, a village on
the borders of the Lake of Brienz, hunt him vigorously. Finally, some
eagles there are which only sojourn in the Alps temporarily; they
appear to be astray; such are--

      The _Circæetus leucopsis_, which has a particular affection for
      serpent-haunted districts;

      The _Haliætus leucocephala_, with head and tail of a milky white,
      belonging to the north of Europe and America; and

      The _Neophron percnopterus_, or Egyptian eagle, of carrion-like
      odour, which is sometimes met with in the neighbourhood of Geneva.

The tawny-headed vulture (_Vultur fulvus_), and the ashy vulture
(_Vultur cinereus_), with gray-brown mouth, and a brownish collar
round his bare neck, are extremely rare in Switzerland.

       *       *       *       *       *

But we now take leave of the eagle, and turn our attention to the
lowly wren, whose charming but simple music has been described in
charming but simple verse by Bishop Mant:--

    "The quick note of the russet wren,
    Familiar to the haunts of men;
    He quits in hollowed wall his bower,
    And through the winter's gloomy hour
    Sings cheerily; nor yet hath lost
    His blitheness, chilled by pinching frost,
    Nor yet is forced for warmth to cleave
    To caverned nook or straw-built cave,--
    Sing, gentle bird! sing on, designed
    A lesson for our anxious kind,
    That we, like thee, with hearts content"----

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--The Wren.]

The wren here referred to is a British species, the common wren, or
_Troglodytes vulgaris_, one of the smallest of our British songsters;
a restless, lively bird, which twitters about the hedgerows in
summer, and about the garden and shrubbery in winter, and chanting
his mellow song even under the gloomy sky of December. Allied to this
familiar bird is the Gold-crowned Knight,[22] or _Sylvia regulus_,
which is found in the Alpine deserts at an elevation of 9000 to
10,000 feet. Like our own Jenny Wren, he has a very fine, slender
bill, which denotes his insectivorous propensities. He is easily
known by the little crest of silky feathers which he wears on his
head, like a diadem, and also by his peculiar cry of _souci-î-î-î_.

Our crowned knight is very partial to the society of the tits, and,
like them, he is easily caught with birdlime. He is so fond of
the company of other birds, that, when he finds himself alone, he
becomes disquieted; his prolonged tiny chirp grows plaintive; and
he flies to and fro in quest of comrades. He may be regarded as a
trustworthy barometer, for, prior to rainy weather, his song is
very loud and incessant. Devoted to the pursuit of insects or their
larvæ, he seems to pay no attention to the passer-by; he flutters
vivaciously from branch to branch, and puts himself in all imaginable
positions, sometimes with his head upwards, sometimes with his head
downwards. We have often watched, with extreme gratification, the
acrobatic tricks of our Lilliputian gymnast. Occasionally, before
he perches, you will see him, in a frenzy of indecision, rapidly
agitating his wings, and revolving them like a wheel. If you look
at him, while thus engaged, _against_ the light, you will think you
see a tiny, ethereal, diaphanous spinning-top. After "assisting" at
such a spectacle, which the first wood will furnish, you will not be
indisposed to admit with us, that the bird designated by the Greeks
τροχιλος, or "little wheel," and whose identity has so often been
discussed, was, in reality, our golden-crested knight. Moreover,
he is a true cosmopolite, in every acceptation of the word. Not
only does he never quit us, not only does he remain faithful to us
throughout the year, but we meet with him over all Europe. He is
also found in Asia, and even, it is said, in America, from the West
Indies to Canada. His flight being very short, it is supposed that he
passed from one hemisphere to another by way of Behring's Strait. It
is certain, at all events, that he discovered the New World before
Christopher Columbus.

During the severe cold of the winter of 1867-8, we saw our knight--a
very rare circumstance--haunt the vicinity of our houses, though he
prefers the green shade of the forests, and especially of the forests
of pine and fir. He who has seen him pecking at the bark and leaves
of these trees, while the ground was covered with snow, and during a
frost of 10° below zero (C.), will feel no astonishment at meeting
him upon the snowy summits of the Alps.

Yet this pet bird of ours, this Lilliputian warbler, does not weigh
more, with all his feathers, than a quarter of an ounce, or the two
thousandth part of an eagle. Away with the hunter who would attempt
such tiny game! A bird so small that he glides through the meshes
of a net,--so delicate, that if you would not irreparably injure
your "specimen," you must shoot him with a few grains of finest
shot,--a bird of such frail appearance, withstanding all climates,
and distributed over the entire surface of the globe,--here is a
subject worthy the meditation of man, who pretends to be the "lord of

THE SNOW-BUNTING--(_Emberiza plectrophanes nivalis_).

This is the snow-lark-bunting of Macgillivray, and a species of
the genus _Plectrophanes_. In Scotland, he is frequently called
the Snow-flake, and, in other parts of Great Britain, the Snow or
Oat-fowl. His weight does not exceed an ounce and a half. His bill
and legs are black; his forehead and crown white, with an admixture
of black on the hind part of the head; black are the back and sides,
but each wing is marked by a broad belt of white; the quill feathers
are black, with white bases; the secondaries are white, with black
spots on the interior webs.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--The Crests of Inaccessible Rocks.]

The snow-bunting's favourite localities, where he loves to build his
nest, are the crests of inaccessible rocks, surrounded by vast fields
of snow, in whose midst the sun and tempest have created a few oases.
The most he does is to approach the hospices of Monts St Bernard and
St Gothard, and construct his nest under the eaves of their roofs.
This nest, made of long blades of grass, is lined internally with
hair and the feathers of poultry. At the beginning of May, the female
lays six eggs of a snowy whiteness, and the male assists in hatching
them, and bringing up the young. The bill of the latter is, at first,
of a bright yellow, which turns black, like that of the parents, as
they grow older.

The snow-bunting rarely descends into the wooded region. Of a very
sprightly disposition, he spends nearly all his life in the midst
of the snows and the ice. His song somewhat resembles that of the
finch, which he also resembles in size and social instincts; for he
may frequently be seen in numerous bands hovering above the highest

The snow-bunting is also met with in the northern districts of Asia
and America.

THE RED-BILLED CROW--(_Corvus pyrrhocorax_).

The familiar cry of this bird, who resembles the thrush,--the
_krapp-krapp_ of the red-billed crow (_la corneille des
nieges_),--agreeably falls on the ear of the traveller, when
wandering through solitudes devoid of any other living being. By
their cries and their presence these birds animate the denuded
rocks which rise like promontories in seas of ice. They are easily
distinguished from other species by their coral-red bills; whence
their name of _Pyrrhocorax_. They nest in troops in the crevices of
the most inaccessible rocks, and propagate there from generation to
generation. Their presence is indicated by enormous heaps of ordure,
veritable guano, which might well be used for manure. Their abrupt
ascents and strident cries are signs of bad weather, which the
mountaineer knows how to profit by.

If caught when young, these birds are easily domesticated. M.
Tschudi, in his "Life among the Alps," relates the history of one who
had been tamed. He would himself go in quest of the bread, cheese,
and fruits which composed his repast; then, holding in his claws the
prize he had coveted, devour it with avidity. What remained of his
meal he carefully concealed in paper, and would gallantly defend the
hidden treasure against whomsoever dared to approach it, against
dogs as well as man. Fire had a singular attraction for him; he
would extract from a lamp the burning wick, and swallow it without
sustaining any injury; he would swallow even the _débris_ of the
charcoal as he fluttered about the chimney. He showed an excessive
joy at the sight of smoke, and loudly clapped his wings. Whenever
he caught sight of any burning coal, he did not fail to pick up
immediately all the paper, rags, or twigs he could lay his claws on;
these he would place in the stove, and amuse himself by watching the
smoke they gave forth. If a stranger entered the room, he gave vent
to the most deafening cries, though he was exceedingly gentle and
familiar towards persons with whom he was acquainted. His friends and
favourites he distinguished in a peculiar manner; he ran in front
of them, displayed his joy by expanding his wings, and alternately
perched himself on their hands, their head, their shoulders, eyeing
them all over, and bending his head as if to kiss them. Every morning
he entered his master's bedroom, called him by his name, posted
himself on his pillow, and waited tranquilly until he awoke; then he
expressed his satisfaction by all kinds of gestures and noises.


Close to the line of perpetual snow a black variety of vipers has
been met with; but none of the serpent race ever _cross_ that line.

The only reptile found within the boundaries of the snowy region is
a kind of lizard (_Zootoca pyrrhogastra_), the only one, perhaps,
of all the vertebrata which could live at an elevation above the
sea-level of more than 9500 feet, buried in the snow for upwards of
ten months.

During the few bright summer weeks, he feeds upon some rare insects
and spiders.

The frigid zone is so far the natural habitat of these lizards, that
they would rather die of hunger than live in the more genial regions
to which men have wished to transplant them. In length they nearly
equal our common lizards, but they are not quite so big; their back
is of a chesnut brown, marked with black streaks and dots; the throat
is bluish; the belly of the male is of a greenish blue, spotted with
black, while that of the female is of so lively a red as to have
suggested the name of the species, _Pyrrhogastra_; just as the name
of the genus is derived from the circumstance that the young are
hatched in the mother's belly, and are born alive like the young of
a mammal. This statement, too, holds good with respect to the viper,
which also endures the cold of elevated regions.


Our information is still very incomplete so far as relates to the
molluscs, the arachnida, and the insects which inhabit the frigid
zone. The Alpine snail (_Helix Alpicola_), so remarkable for its
transparency, appears to be the sole mollusc which, in certain
localities, attains to an elevation of 7000 feet. It is, however,
surpassed by the earthworm, which is not only distributed over the
surface of every country, but ascends to the snowy summits of the
loftiest mountains. Few animals have their geographical distribution
so extended both horizontally and vertically; and only some species
of spiders and millepeds keep company with the earthworm.

Among the other inhabitants of the snows have also been observed a
dozen species of butterflies,--nearly all diurnal,--for the phalænæ
(?), or nocturnal Lepidoptera, appear to be much more sensible to
the cold. M. Agassiz saw the "Little Vulcan" (_Vanessa urticæ_)
fluttering in the snowy desert which borders on the glacier of Aar,
as if it were completely in its element. The wings of the majority of
these butterflies are sombre-coloured; their caterpillars live upon
the auriculas, and seem to accomplish their metamorphoses in regions
uninhabitable to us. The leaf-wasp (_Tenthredo spinacula_) appears to
deposit its larvæ, at a height of nearly 10,000 feet, in the galls
of the Alpine rose (_rhododendron ferrugineum_ and _rhododendron

       *       *       *       *       *

The coleoptera have also numerous representatives in the region of
perpetual snows, with this difference--equally characteristic of
other animals--that, upon the southern declivity, they ascend 1000 to
1500 feet higher than on the northern. We may mention, as specially
distributed in the topmost zone of the Alpine world:--

      The _Chrysomela salicina_, a pretty little beetle, sometimes
      blue, sometimes deep green, and finely punctuated, which lives
      almost exclusively upon a species of dwarf willow (_Salix

      The _Nebria Escheri_, a black beetle, about two thirds of an inch
      long, with feet and antennæ of a brownish red; and

      The _Nebria Chevrierii_, with rust-coloured feet and antennæ,
      common in the sources of the Rhine.

       *       *       *       *       *

Special mention must be made of the _Snow-Flea_. Do not think we
are referring to an insect of the same species as our common fleas:
the snow-flea approximates much more closely to the lice family
than to the fleas, though it hops like the latter. The history of
its discovery dates back as far as 1839. At this epoch, M. Desor, a
learned Swiss naturalist, had undertaken some researches upon the
glaciers. Accompanied by some friends, he set out from the hospice
of the Grimsel, and arrived in the vicinity of the glacier of the
Lower Aar. He had commenced his observations, when suddenly he heard
Agassiz calling him, and shouting, "Come, come, make haste; here are
your Mont Rosa fleas." Desor ran to the spot, and saw under a stone
the little creatures whom Agassiz persisted in taking to be veritable
lice, pretending they had been accidentally brought to these heights.

"I recognised with extreme joy," says M. Desor, "the little creatures
whose loss I had regretted a year before. They are not pretty, but,
on the contrary, very ugly. However, they showed, in opposition to
the opinion of Agassiz, that they really inhabited the glacier,
and were not merely chance visitors. We found them by thousands
under other stones. ... Our guide, with whom the glaciers were old
acquaintances, had never seen them before, and the tiny creatures
excited his astonishment. What surprised us most was the rapidity
with which they penetrated into even the most compact ice, till they
resembled blood-corpuscles circulating in their vessels. This fact
shows that there exist, in the hardest and most transparent ice,
certain capillary fissures which escape an unskilled eye: it also
proves that the glaciers, on their surface, and down to a certain
depth, are by no means incompatible with the development of organised

The tiny insect in question was at first baptized by the name of
_Desoria saltans_ (order of the _Thysanouræ_ of Latreille), but has
since received definitively the name of _Desoria glacialis_. It
belongs to the family of the _Poduræ_, singular creatures which, by
virtue of their form, are a link between the earwigs and the spiders.

These are its generic characters:--

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--_Desoria glacialis_; _a_, natural size; _b_,

The body elongated, cylindrical, garnished with long setiform hairs,
and composed of eight segments, six of which are perfectly distinct,
and two (the two latter) very short, and scarcely perceptible;
four-jointed antennæ, longer than the head; long, slender,
cylindrical feet; forked tail, silky, and transversely wrinkled;
seven eyes, laterally grouped at the base of each antenna; body
without scales.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--_Podura plumbea_; _a_, natural size; _b_,

The _Desoria glacialis_, a species at present unique, is of a velvety
black, and about one-sixth of an inch in length.

The _Podura plumbea_ (or "Spring Tail"), common enough in England,
and found under all kinds of stones, will give the reader an idea of
the flea of the glaciers.

On comparing these two species, we remark, first, that the _Podura
plumbea_ is somewhat longer and thicker in body than the flea of the
glaciers (see Fig. 16; _a_, natural size; _b_, enlarged); but it is
more particularly by the length of its antennæ that we distinguish
it. It owes its specific name of _Plumbea_ to the livid blue or
leaden colour of the scales which cover its body. These scales
resemble those of butterflies; only they are much smaller, more
finely situated, and very variable in form and size (Fig. 17). In
catching it great care is required, for it is so easily crushed; it
is, besides, very soft to the touch, though, when examined with a
microscope, it is seen to bristle all over with hairs, apparently
very hard.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.]

Our _poduræ_ have also the faculty of leaping, and cling by thousands
to humid places, especially to mosses and the under-surface of
stones. The mechanism of their leap is explained by the presence of a
forked, flexible, and elastic appendage, lodged in a kind of ventral
groove beneath the last segments; by projecting this rapidly behind,
the whole body of the animal is thrown forward. At the slightest
contact the insect folds up its caudal appendage under its belly,
and you would then suppose it did not possess one. This circumstance
explains why, in many books of natural history of good repute, the
_poduræ_, and especially so common a species as the _Podura plumbea_,
are represented without this characteristic instrument.


The "way to look at things," which is the true foundation of science,
varies, not only according to a man's degree of intellectual
cultivation, but according to his social condition or profession.
The herborist has eyes only for the plants in which he deals,--the
"simples" which, as we read in old Gerarde, wrought such wonderful
cures in the days of our forefathers,--and from the most exquisite
flowers he turns with indifference. The gardener, on the other hand,
is wholly absorbed by his love and his hate,--his charming exotics,
and his troublesome weeds. The latter he regards with much the same
feelings as a society wholly composed of honest men would regard
an infusion of the "dangerous elements;" for weeds, like rogues,
take what is not their own, and deprive others of their means of
sustenance. But to classify plants according to their virtues or
vices is not worthy of science, exclaims the rigid botanist. Would
you mingle vile self-interest with the pure study of the vegetable
kingdom? Remember that all selfish feelings ought to be banished from
the sublime sanctuary of analysis and synthesis.

This sounds exceedingly well. Disinterested words, from whatever
quarter they come, always produce--perhaps, on account of their
comparative rarity--an admirable effect. But what is their real
value? To ascertain it, the listener must be able to seize, like so
many luminous threads, all the emotions which are acting upon the
heart and tongue of the speaker. But we are very far from having
arrived at this degree of perfection. Shall we ever attain to it?
Yes, because we can conceive its possibility. But, until that golden
epoch, the pure love of science will always remain a myth, and we
shall not have universally understood the necessity of seeking in the
profound study of nature the grand destiny of man.

It is among the weeds and noxious plants that we shall find the
species capable of enduring longest the cold of winter. What part,
then, do they fulfil in the economy of creation? An ambitious, but
not a novel question, which has often been propounded in reference to
our parasitical insects.

The best answer which we can make to it is this: Everything invites
us to work. Labour is imposed even upon him who least desires it.
Earth will yield a return only in proportion to the care we bestow
upon her.

If, after having toiled and sown, we had nothing to do but to gather
in the harvest, every person would become an agriculturist. But a
soil which is not manured will soon grow exhausted; and if it be
neither ploughed nor harrowed, instead of barley or vegetables,
it will soon be covered with tares; rank weeds will flourish in
every field. Such is the chastisement reserved for sloth,--the true
"original sin" of the human race.

Well, then, it is among the weeds, everywhere so common, that we meet
with the plants best able to brave the rigours of frost.


The annual _Dog Mercury_ (_Mercurialis annua_) is one of the most
tenacious. It attracts the passer-by, if he condescend to bestow a
glance upon it, only by its extreme abundance; it propagates very
largely, though it is by no means partial to all localities. For
instance, it avoids the woods as persistently as its congener, the
common Dog Mercury (_Mercurialis perennis_) seeks them. It prefers
the vicinity of human habitations and uncultivated fields. If let
alone, it spreads with a dangerous rapidity, and invades every garden
which is not kept in the most exquisite order. Still, we must not
deal too harshly with it. It is not altogether unfriendly to man. In
truth, owing to its laxative properties, it renders him invaluable
services. The country people have great faith in fomentations of
Dog Mercury and honey. Understand, we pray you, that not an atom of
mercury enters into it, despite its significant name; but a decoction
of the annual Dog Mercury, mixed with a little thick honey, answers
all the purposes of those lenitive clysters which are so beneficial
to excitable temperaments. The leaves of the plant are eaten in
Germany like spinach.

Of the _Mercurialis perennis_ Mr Sowerby writes:--"This plant was
formerly used in medicine, but has long been abandoned as a remedy.
It is extremely acrid, and even poisonous, though recommended in some
old books as a good pot-herb, probably from being confounded with the
annual species. When steeped in water, the leaves give out a fine
blue colour resembling indigo. This colouring matter is turned red by
acids, and destroyed by alkalis, but is otherwise permanent; it might
possibly prove valuable as a dye, if any means could be discovered
of fixing it, and the herb has been introduced into this work with
the view of drawing the attention of chemists to the subject; no
experiments seem to have been lately made upon it."

[Illustration: FIG. 18.]

Let us now advise you how to distinguish our medicinal plant from
the "ill weeds" with which it loves to associate. Its ovate, rough,
irregularly-dentated, and petiolated leaves would not give it a
sufficiently marked character, had it no other features peculiar to
itself. But observe the yellowish-green _glomerules_, arranged, like
millet, on a long frail spike. (Fig. 18, _a_.) They exhale, as your
nose will inform you, a peculiar aroma, like that of spiced bread: no
other plant but our Dog Mercury is gifted with this odour. Now, bring
your magnifying-glass to bear upon it; with the point of a knife or
a feather open one of the grains which form the _glomerules_ of the
spike; out of it will leap, as if impelled by an invisible spring,
a large number of stamens, easily distinguished by their elastic
thread-like anthers, covered with tiny yellow beads. Each greenish
grain is a _flower_; the calyx, which also serves as the corolla, is
represented by three little petals, forming the external envelope of
the little flower. (Fig. 18, _b_.) But something essential is still
wanting; in the centre of the stamens you do not find any pistil. Why
is so important an organ wanting? Because our little rounded flowers,
with their spice-bread odour, have but one sex, are _unisexual_; they
are male flowers, since they are furnished only with stamens. In
vain do you hunt on the same stem for their companions, the female
flowers. You will find them only upon _other_ stems, distinct from
those which bear the male flowers. The Dog Mercury, then, is a plant
whose two sexes are lodged in two different houses, οἴκοι--is, in
fact, a _dioecious_ species.

But you are sure to find the female flowers in the immediate
neighbourhood of the stems with the male flowers. They are easily
recognised by their larger and darker leaves (Fig. 18, _c_);
and especially by their little twin pods, green, wrinkled, and
pedicellate,[24] which garnish the axil of the leaves. (Fig. 18,
_d_.) From this characteristic the female mercury was formerly
mistaken for the _male_; and many centuries elapsed before
naturalists recognised, what now-a-days seems so simple, that the
little pods, joined in couples, and containing each a grain, composed
the _fruit_ of a single plant; that every fruit proceeds from an
ovary; and that every ovary is a sign of the feminine sex.

In the _Historia Naturalis_ of Pliny, who was at once so acute and so
credulous an observer, we first meet with the name of _Mercurialis_.

"The plant is so denominated," he says,[25] "because it was
discovered by Mercury. Its juice, mingled with that of the _hibiscus_
(a species of the _Malvaceæ_) and the purslain, forms a kind of
unguent, with which, if you thoroughly rub the hands, they can touch
molten lead without being injured."

The description which Dioscorides[26] gives of the _Linozosis_, which
he also calls _Parthenion_, or _Mercury's Plant_ (Ἑρμου
βοτάνιον), applies, in the main, to our Dog Mercury. It is true
that its leaves "are not like those of the basilic"
(φίλλα ὄμοια ὁκίμῳ); but they resemble in all
respects those of the smooth variety of cultivated mint; and,
apparently, the basilic of Dioscorides was one of our mints. The fruit
of the female, he adds,--evidently meaning the male flowers,--are
disposed in clusters.

Both species of the Herb or Dog Mercury belong to the family

Our attention must now be directed to another point. It is a fact,
that in winters of moderate severity the Mercury continues to infest
our gardens and cultivated fields. It only succumbs to a frost equal
to six to ten degrees below freezing-point; then its congealed stem
totters, and grows black, and its leaves mingle so completely with
the soil that it is difficult to discover any vestiges.

How singular a contrast! The plants most destructive in our kitchen
gardens are frequently the most useful in medicine. There are no
drugs more popular than the weeds which we call Herb Mercury, Garden
Nightshade, and Dog's-tooth grass. All belong to families whose
properties are strongly marked. As already stated, the Mercury
ranks among the _Euphorbiaceæ_, remarkable for their acrid and
more or less purgative juice. In this family occur the most violent
drastics, such as the _Croton tiglium_, whose oil (expressed from the
seeds) has long been considered an efficacious medicine. The Garden
Nightshade is one of the _Solanaceæ_, and cousin-german of the useful
potato; and the Dog's-tooth grass, whose roots compose three-fourths
of our possets, is of the same family as our cereals.


[Illustration: FIG. 19.]

[Illustration: FIG. 20.]

If you have seen--and who has not?--the flowers of the potato-plant,
you will immediately recognise the flowers of the Garden or Black
Nightshade. (Fig. 19.) This noxious herb--noxious in some, but
useful in other respects, and, therefore, not to be visited with too
hasty a condemnation--flowers and fructifies throughout the year.
Its fertility is extreme; only the severest winter-frosts can crush
out its prolific life. The fruits which succeed to the flowers are
smaller berries or "apples" than those of the potato. (See Fig. 20.)

In the history of botany, and even in that of philosophy, the Black
Nightshade (_Solanum nigrum_) has a certain interest. Thus, says
M. Hoefer, both Cordus and Jean Bauhin, botanists of the sixteenth
century, have described the flower of this plant as if its corolla
were composed of five distinct petals.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.]

Where were the eyes of those great botanists? The corolla of the
nightshade, like that of all the _Solanaceæ_, is plainly and
obviously monopetalous,--that is, composed of a single piece; to
assure yourself of this, you have but to open it out. (See Fig.
21, _b_.) It was the sharp-pointed, ovate divisions of the limb
which imposed on the old observers; a fresh proof that _seeing_ and
_observing_ are two very distinct things. Our vision enters into full
exercise from earliest infancy; observation is not acquired until
after much labour and many years.

Do not forget to add, that the five stamens are brought very closely
together by their elongated anthers, as is also seen in the flower of
the potato-plant. (Fig. 21, _a_.)

The same botanists who took our solanum for a plant with a
polypetalous corolla, considered the Bitter-sweet (_Solanum
dulcamara_) to be a metamorphosis of the Garden Nightshade! The
former they christened the red-berried solanum (_Solanum baccis
rubris_), and the latter, the black-berried solanum (_Solanum baccis

       *       *       *       *       *

But if we once launch into the hypothetical, we shall be unable to
stop half-way. If the species of one and the same genus are the
result of a transformation, why may we not assert as much of the
genera of a family, or the families of an order?

Thus we should arrive, step by step, at an unique type, not
only for the vegetable kingdom, but for vegetables and animals,
including man himself, and realise, to some extent, the ideal of the
Greeks,--_unity in variety_.

Be it acknowledged, however, that _we_ have no desire to rise to
so lofty an elevation. The potato-plant--unknown to the ancients,
inasmuch as it is a native of the New World--has not been found to
lose its character since its introduction into the ancient continent;
its congener, the nightshade--an old native, like every bad
herb--accompanies it everywhere; but its fibrous roots are absolutely
virgin of every farinaceous tubercule.

Though the nightshade is common everywhere, Tournefort was the first
to describe it with complete accuracy. That great observer even
specifies various peculiarities which most of our botanists omit from
their descriptions. Thus, he rightly remarks, that the peduncles
branch out so as to form a kind of umbel, and do not emerge, as
is usually the case, from the axils of the leaves, but a little
below, from the very branches of the stem. He was also the first
to note--and it was a veritable discovery--that the white flowers
of the nightshade, grouped in threes to eights, are each formed
of a single cup-shaped leaf,--in other words, that the corolla is
monophyllous, and slightly bell-like or campanulated. Nor does he
forget to describe the disposition of the five stamens, set close
around the pistil, which, as it develops, forms a globular bacciform
fruit, embraced by a five-lobed calyx. This fruit, which changes in
colour from green to black, is filled with a great number of grains
in a thick liquid, exhaling a nauseous odour. As for the leaves, they
resemble those of spinach, for which, in some countries, they serve
as a substitute.

Like all plants found by the wayside, and among heaps of refuse,
the nightshade loves to vary its form, and of its various forms
some nomenclators have made as many different species. The typical
variety, the _Solanum nigrum_, has glabrous stems and leaves, that
is, they are covered with short, but hardly visible hairs; its
berries are black.

The smooth variety, or _Solanum villosum_, is rather rare, and has
swollen or bulging leaves and stems; its berries are red or of
a reddish yellow. The two varieties seem able, by sowing, to be
transformed into one another. A sub-variety of the _Solanum villosum_
has been described as a peculiar species, under the name of _Solanum
miniatum_, so named on account of its vermilion-coloured berries.
The _Solanum ochroleucum_ and _Solanum luteovirens_, the first
with yellowish, and the second with greenish berries, are simply
varieties, and the same may be said of the dwarf form, known by the
name of _Solanum humile_.

But the physician is more interested in the solanum than either the
gardener or botanist. For him it is no useless or noxious weed, but,
on the contrary, is an eminently precious herb. And, in fact, if it
possessed only one-half the virtues formerly attributed to it, we
ought to bow to the ground every time we encounter it.

Listen to our authorities even if you do not respect them.

Cæsalpin asserts that the decoction or juice of the nightshade is
a sovereign remedy for complaints of the stomach and the bladder,
and regards nightshade-water, mixed with an equal quantity of
absinthe-water, as one of the best sudorifics.

Tragus, a physician and botanist like Cæsalpin, recommends the juice
of the nightshade as anti-choleraic, as well as efficacious in
inflammation of the liver and stomach. And yet, at the same time, he
grows emphatic in reference to its poisonous properties. "Do not,"
he says, "employ this herb immoderately, lest it should happen to
you as, in 1541, I saw it happen to an inhabitant of Erbach, near
Hohenburg. After having eaten a few nightshade-berries, he was
seized, on the following day, by a furious monomania, which led
his neighbours to believe him possessed of a devil. After having
uselessly employed every kind of exorcism, they sent for me. I made
my patient swallow some very strong wine; he fell into a profound
slumber; and, when he awoke, was cured."[27]

Withering affirms that a couple of grains of the dried leaves will
act as a powerful sudorific, and that they have also been found
useful in some cutaneous disorders.

Here is another authority, before whom naturalists are accustomed
to give way. We make use of the _Solanum nigrum_, says
Tournefort,[28] when it is necessary to subdue inflammation,
or soften and relax the fibres. The pounded herb is applied
to hæmorrhoids. The juice, with a sixth-part of rectified
spirit-of-wine, is advantageous in cases of erysipelas, ringworm,
wildfire, and all diseases of the skin. Nightshade is also employed
in anodyne cataplasms.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tournefort did not confine himself to simple botanical descriptions;
he did, what our modern botanists neglect doing,--he made
experiments, both physiological and chemical, on the plants employed
in medicine. Thus, he began by tasting the different parts of the

"The root," he says, "is almost insipid; the leaves taste like a
saltish herb; there is something sharp and vinegary in the fruit;
the whole plant has a narcotic odour. The _leaves_ do not redden
turnsole,[29] but the ripe _fruit_ reddens it greatly; whence we
may conjecture that the _sal-ammoniac_ contained in this plant is
moderated in the leaves by a very considerable portion of fœtid
oil and earth, but that the acid portion of the salt is strongly
developed in the ripe fruit; so that we must choose our part of the
plant according to the purposes we wish to employ it for. The fruits,
for instance, are more refreshing, but more repellant, than the
leaves, which soften while resolving, cleansing, and absorbing."

We admit that these data leave much to be desired from a chemical
point of view. We may well ask, for example, how the illustrious
philosopher ascertained the presence of sal-ammoniac in nightshade?
But it is not fair to criticise the science of the past, by judging
it through the deceitful prism of the science of to-day. We must
adopt the methods of our predecessors, when discussing natural
productions from all the view-points of their applications.


In clearing an uncultivated field we uproot a great number of
herbaceous plants of different families; but those of the _Gramineæ_,
or Grasses, invariably predominate. They are the trailing roots,
or _rhizomes_, of certain species which have been included under
the general denomination of Dog's-tooth. These tenacious and
vigorous roots,--so wholesome in various maladies, so injurious
to cultivation,--are, whatever certain botanists may say, far
from tracing their origin in all cases to the _Triticum repens_
(couch-grass) and _Panicum dactylon_--those terrible enemies of the
corn-field, which, once established in the soil, are with difficulty
extirpated, and prove very injurious to the "golden crops."
Nearly every grass which puts forth _rhizomes_ will furnish the
_Dogs-tooth_. We may cite, for instance, several species of _Festuca_
(as _Festuca rubra_ and _Festuca pinnata_), or fescue grass; at least
two kinds of meadow grass (_Poa compressa_ and _Poa pratensis_), a
species of wild-oats (_Avena elatior_), to say nothing of the weeds
_Arundo phragmites_ and _Arundo epigeios_. The long _rhizomes_ of
these vivacious plants possess nearly the same properties, due to
their saccharine principles.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.--A Corn-field.]

How shall we distinguish these plants from one another? Their leaves
have almost exactly the same configuration; they are linear;[30]
and their flowers are not apparent,--they do not attract the gaze
of the passer-by. Yet they possess all the organs necessary for the
reproduction of their species:--three stamens, each composed of an
anther and a characteristic filament; on this anther, whose two
lobes are arranged like the branches of an X, the pistil softly and
tenderly balances itself on the summit of a frail thread, to which it
is attached by the back. Remark, too, the two styles with feathery
stigmata,[31] like the barbs of feathers. Nothing is wanting to
constitute a complete flower.

There is even a perianth, or calyx, represented by a couple of
tiny membraneous scales, scientifically known as _glumellulæ_;
then at the base of each spikelet, composed of one or two of these
bright green lilliputian flowers, are two other and larger scales,
called _glumellæ_: they represent an _involucre_.[32] It is almost
unnecessary to add, that the free, unilocular ovary, or seed vessel,
forms, as a result of its development, the seed, whose embryo adheres
laterally to a farinaceous kernel, or _perisperm_. The union of one
or more of these flowers composes a spikelet, and the union of the
_spikelets_ constitutes the spike, which may be disposed on a simple
or ramified axis. Such are, in general, the characters we must keep
before us in the difficult study of the Gramineæ.

Let us now see, more closely, the two plants which, according to the
botanists, furnish the root of the Dog's-tooth.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.--A River's Sandy Bank.]

When walking along the sandy bank of a river, you must frequently
have trodden under foot a low, almost crawling herb, remarkable for
its violet-red spikes, which, three to five in number, are arranged
like the fingers of a hand, on the summit of a short curving stem.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.--(P. 93.)]

This glaucous-leaved herb is the _Panicum dactylon_ (_i.e._,
fingered-millet) of Linnæus. The long trailing _rhizomes_, joined
to some less prominent characters, have been sufficient for some
botanists to create a special genus, _Cynodon_, or _Kynodon_ (a Greek
word, signifying literally "Dog's-tooth"), and to change the Linnean
denomination of our grass into _Cynodon dactylon_. It is seldom met
with in cultivated land; but in such a locality as we have already
described, and sometimes on open sandy shores, where the summer sea
comes with a gentle ripple and a subdued music, it may frequently
be found. Its long, tough runners creep through and over the loose
soil for many yards, rooting at every joint, and furnished with flat,
rather short leaves, of a glaucous hue. The flowers grow in narrow,
linear spikes, arranged at the top of a short leafy stem in the form
of an umbel, and give the grass, when in bloom, a very peculiar and
characteristic aspect.

But if the _Cynodon dactylon_ is rare in cultivated fields, the
_Triticum repens_--commonly called couch-grass, but, in our opinion,
the true and genuine dog's-tooth--is particularly abundant. (See Fig.
23.) Its long subterranean stems increase with astonishing rapidity,
and if the smallest fragment be left in the soil, it will vegetate,
and speedily extend itself, until it becomes almost impossible to
extirpate it. It is a kind of wild barley, with stiff leaves of a
moderate length, and of a bluish tint, and a double spike, composed
of clusters of four to six flowers, each crowned by a narrow ridge.
We must not confound the _Triticum repens_ with the _Elymus caninus_
of Linnæus, which has no trailing underground roots like the former.
It differs also from the latter in the roughness of _each_ side of
its leaves,--only one side of the leaf of the _Triticum repens_ being
rough,--and in the crests which rise above the flowers.

Was the dog's-tooth known to the ancients? Undoubtedly, for the
dog's-tooth flourishes in all climates,--is truly cosmopolitan. But
it is difficult to decide whether their _Agrostis_ and their _Gramen_
apply to the above-mentioned species.

       *       *       *       *       *

According to Diodorus, the primitive Egyptians lived upon herbs.
"They also eat," he says,[33] "the stems and roots which grow in the
marshes. Especially did they hunt after the _Agrostis_, a plant
remarkable for its sweet savour and the sufficient nourishment
which it offers to the wants of man. It is likewise considered an
excellent provision for cattle, from its fattening properties. It is
in remembrance of these benefits that the inhabitants of Egypt, when
worshipping their gods, carry this plant in their hand."

The _Agrostis_ of Diodorus would apply to all the _Graminaceæ_ whose
stems and roots contain nutritive and saccharine principles. Let us
here remind the reader that the sugar-cane belongs to the same family
as barley and the dog's-tooth.

Pliny is much more explicit. What he says of the _Gramen_ (or
grass), the "commonest of herbs"--_inter herbas vulgatissimum_--and
of the geniculated spaces between its knots (_geniculatis serpit
internodiis_), applies with tolerable accuracy to our _Triticum
repens_. He also speaks of the diuretic properties of a decoction
from its trailing roots.[34] As for his _Gramen aculeatum_ (or
needle-like grass), it is positively our _Cynodon dactylon_. "The
five spurs or needles which shoot out," he says, "from the top of the
stem, have procured it the name of _Dactylon_." To these digitiform
spikes he attributes the property of checking the bleeding of the
nose, when they are introduced into the nostrils. But a thorn is much
better fitted to produce this effect; the spikes of the digitated
panicle of the _Cynodon dactylon_ are much too soft to determine
epistaxis by a mechanical action. So it is not improbable that they
owe their putative virtue to their colouring, which is not unlike
that of blood, and which has even procured for the species the
name of _Digitaria sanguinalis_. In the same manner the capricious
mediæval imagination pronounced liverwort, with its marbled leaves,
a sovereign remedy for diseases of the lungs,--organs remarkable for
their marbled appearance.

Dioscorides is quite as explicit as Pliny. What the latter names
_Gramen_, he, however, calls _Agrostis_. After having particularised
the nodosities of the stem--a feature common to nearly all the
Graminaceæ--he describes very clearly the long creeping roots put forth
by the said stem; and he does not forget to mention the sugary savour,
so characteristic of the rhizomes (ῥίζας γλυκείας) of the
_Triticum repens_.[35] Theophrastus confines himself to indicating the
_Agrostis_ as a herb which infests the fields.[36]

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Cynodon dactylon_ is, at the present day, very common in Greece,
where it is specially partial to low grounds, which are somewhat damp
and sandy. The inhabitants call it _Agriada_, a name derived from
ἄγριος, "wild." But if we may believe Fraas, the author of a _Flora
Classica_, the genuine dog's-tooth, _Triticum repens_, is, on the
contrary, very rare in the land of Socrates. This is a curious fact,
if a fact, for geographical botany.

Throughout the Middle Ages, and down to the eighteenth century,
were confounded, under the generic name of _Gramina_, or grasses,
the most diversely-featured herbs, including the dog's-tooth.
Tabernæmontanus, Dodonné, Mathiole, Jean and Gaspard Bauhin, were
the first to attempt the clearing of a path through this intricate
wilderness. They eulogised, at the same time, the emollient
properties of the dog's-tooth.

Tournefort[37] and Bernard de Jussieu, who appear to have made a
chemical analysis of it, pretend that the roots of the dog's-tooth
contain a large quantity of oil, earth, and several acid liquids,
as well as a little fixed salt. "According to all appearance," they
add, "the roots act by means of a salt analogous to salt of coral,
enveloped in a great deal of sulphur."

Instead of mocking us with such fantastic analyses, which can only
excite the laughter of our modern chemists, Tournefort and Bernard
de Jussieu would have deserved better of science if they had applied
themselves to the task of introducing light and order into the cloudy
chaos of the _Graminaceæ_ of the botanists of their age.

       *       *       *       *       *

But winter is passing away, and the time for the singing of birds is
at hand. Already the earth is awakening from her prolonged lethargy;
the hedgerows are green with budding leaves; the purple crocuses
shine in many a sheltered field; on bank and brae, in glen and vale,
the glory of the primrose makes glad the heart of man; the wood
anemone hangs its delicate head in the woodlands; and it seems as if
a gladder feeling animated the universal nature.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.--On bank and brae, in glen and vale.]

And the heart and the brain and the soul sympathise in this apparent
delight of material things; the heart beating more freely, the brain
feeling a stronger working power, and the soul rising to purer views
of life and its duties:--

    "Oh, who can speak the joys of spring's young morn,
      When wood and pasture open on his view,
    When tender green buds blush upon the thorn,
      And the first primrose dips its leaves in dew!"


[Footnote 12: Chaplin Child, "Beredici," p. 171.]

[Footnote 13: Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," Book xi.]

[Footnote 14: De Saussure, "Voyage dans les Alpes," Book iii., p. 45
(ed. 1803, Neufchâtel).]

[Footnote 15: Annales de Chimie et de Physique, vol. xxvii., p. 134.]

[Footnote 16: Philosophical Transactions, 1820, vol. ii., p. 165.]

[Footnote 17: It is but fair to add, however, that Vogt and others
contend for the animal origin of this substance, and regard the
_Protococcus nivalis_ as simply a development of the infusoria,
_Disceræa nivalis_.]

[Footnote 18: Macmillan, "Footnotes from the Page of Nature," pp.

[Footnote 19: The two temperate zones together represent perceptibly
the half, or 0.520, and the torrid zone, two-fifths, or, more
exactly, 0.398, of the terrestrial surface.]

[Footnote 20: That is, muttering, marmot-wise, one's prayers.]

[Footnote 21: Byron.]

[Footnote 22: Also called the Golden-crested Wren.]

[Footnote 23: C. Vogt, Agassiz, und seiner Freunde geologische
Alpenreisen, p. 181. Frankfort, 1847.]

[Footnote 24: A flower with a stalk is called _pedunculate_ or
_pedicellate_; without a stalk, it is _sessile_.]

[Footnote 25: Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," xxv. 18.]

[Footnote 26: Dioscorides, "Materia Medica," iv. 191.]

[Footnote 27: Tragus, "Historia Stirpium" (ed. 1552).]

[Footnote 28: Tournefort, "Histoire des Plantes" (ed. 1727), i. 74,

[Footnote 29: _Turnsole_, a colouring substance made of coarse linen
rags, which, after being cleaned and bleached, are dipped into a
mixture of ammoniacal matter, and the juice of the _Crozophora

[Footnote 30: Leaves are said to be _linear_, when the veins do not
spread out, but run from the base to the extreme point.]

[Footnote 31: A _stigma_ is the continuation of the cellular tissue
of the style, and has sometimes projecting cellules of hairs.]

[Footnote 32: A whorl, or ring, of _bracts_ (floral leaves) is so

[Footnote 33: Diodorus, i. 43.]

[Footnote 34: Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," xxiv. 188.]

[Footnote 35: Dioscorides, iv. 30.]

[Footnote 36: Theophrastus, "Historia Plantarum," i. 10; xi. 2, 4.]

[Footnote 37: Tournefort, "Histoire des Plantes," ii. 54.]



    Now that the Winter's gone, the earth hath lost
    Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
    Candies the grass, or calls an icy cream
    Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
    But the warm sun thaws the benumbèd earth,
    And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
    To the glad swallow; wakes in hollow tree
    The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble bee;
    Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
    In triumph to the world the youthful Spring;
    And valleys, hills, and woods, in rich array,
    Welcome the coming of the longed-for May.


                            'Tis silence all,
    And pleasing expectation.
                              Even mountains, vales,
    And forests, seem impatient to demand
    The promised sweetness. Man superior walks
    Amid the glad creation, musing praise,
    And looking lively gratitude.





                          "Blue the sky,
    Spreads like an ocean hung on high."



It may be doubted whether many of the patrons of Mudie's are
acquainted with the works of a philosopher, who, in his day, enjoyed
no little fame--I mean, Robert Boyle (1627-1691),--and yet there are
passages in them well worth attentive perusal, from the lucidity
of their style and the soundness of their reflections. He has, for
instance, some observations in his "Considerations on the Usefulness
of Experimental Philosophy," which are germane to the general purport
and tone of our little book. He remarks, that the contemplation of
the vastness, beauty, and regular motions of the heavenly bodies,
the excellent structure of animals and plants, besides a multitude
of other phenomena of nature, and the subserviency of most of these
to man, ought, certainly, to induce him, as a rational creature, to
conclude that this vast, beautiful, orderly, and, in a word, many
ways admirable, system of things, that we call the world, was framed
by an Author supremely powerful, wise, and good.

The works of God, he adds, are so worthy of their Author, that,
besides the impresses of His wisdom and goodness that are left, as
it were, upon their surfaces, there are a great many more curious
and excellent tokens and effects of Divine artifice in the hidden
and innermost recesses of them; and these are not to be discovered
by the perfunctory looks of oscitant and unskilful beholders; but
require, as well as deserve, the most attentive and prying inspection
of inquisitive and well-instructed considerers. It is not by a slight
survey, but by a diligent and skilful scrutiny of the works of God,
that a man must be, by a rational and affective conviction, engaged
to acknowledge, with the prophet, that the Author of nature is
"wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."

That He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working must be the
conclusion of every devout student of the celestial phenomena; and
to those we shall, therefore, devote the first portion of our Spring

       *       *       *       *       *

What reception would formerly have been given to any poet who had
dared to exclaim--

    "The bright face of the heavens contemplate,
    And then, as in a mirror, you shall see,
    Outlined, the figure of the rounded earth"?

Would he not have been met with the reproach which Horace, in his
_Ars Poetica_, so epigrammatically formulates?--

                "Pictoribus atque poetis
    Quidlibet audendi semper fuit æqua potestas."

    An equal licence ever was accorded
    To poet as to painter, that he might
    The boldest sweeps of fancy still essay!

As for men of science, they would not have condescended to honour
even with a smile such strange and fantastic words.

Let us suppose, now, that our poetical astronomer, thus contemned,
had addressed his scientific censors in some such language as the

Do not think, illustrious sirs, that it is by a purely poetical
licence I call the firmament a mirror in which the earth may be seen
reflected. Only, to prevent all equivoque, we must understand one
another. The mirror to which I am alluding does not reflect _light_,
but _movement_. It is in a particular movement of the stars that the
true figure of our planet is reflected, is revealed to us. But before
the human mind can appreciate this movement,--especially before it
can discover the cause,--we must be prepared to devote ourselves to
centuries of assiduous effort. In this long interval, philosophers of
every class will allow unrestricted scope to their imagination.

Shall we, then, recall some of these opinions,--some of these truly
poetical licences?

Homer and Hesiod represented the earth as a disc, or as a flat
rondel, surrounded on all sides by a winding river which they called
the Ocean, and which, in the extreme East, communicated with the
Phasis, in Colchis. Above this terrestrial disc the outspread sky was
arched like a vast dome; a dome supported by two massive pillars,
resting on the shoulders of the god Atlas.

Surely the ancient poets must have evolved the earth-disc from their
own prolific imagination. Can they never have seen a far-off vessel,
showing, as it approached them, at first the tops of its masts, then
its swelling sails, and finally its hull? They might have made so
simple an observation in any seaport; if they did, why did it not
suggest to them the idea that the earth, instead of being level, must
be round? Because it is easier to let the imagination speak than the

The fiction of the earth-disc remained long unshaken, with the
exception of a few modifications. Thales figured to himself the earth
as floating on a humid element. And, six centuries later, we find
Seneca still adopting the opinion of the Greek philosopher. "This
humid element (_humor_)," he says, "which sustains the disc of the
earth like a ship, may be, perhaps, the ocean, or a liquid of simpler
nature than water."[38]

But how, then, was the rising or setting of the stars explained?
The ancients supposed that they were extinguished at sunset, and
rekindled at sunrise. Thus, an unfounded hypothesis has for its
consequence a still more baseless hypothesis; and in this manner we
glide down the slope of fiction to fall eventually into an abyss of
contradictions. Such is the true punishment of error.

Let us continue.--According to the Chaldeans, who were thought to
be profoundly versed in astronomy, the earth was hollow, and shaped
like an egg-shell. And,--adds Diodorus, from whom we have this
detail,--they adduce numerous and plausible proofs of this assertion.

Yet was this idea in direct opposition to the evidence of our senses
when we travel over a wide plain, or navigate the great deep; at
least, unless we admit that the earth has the form of a reversed
egg-shell, with its convex face uppermost, and its concave one
beneath. Heraclitus of Ephesus introduced the Chaldean doctrine into

Anaximander represents the earth as a cylinder, whose upper face
alone is inhabited. This cylinder, adds the philosopher, is a
third of its diameter in height, and floats freely in the midst
of the celestial vault, because there is no reason why it should
move more to one side than the other. Leucippus, Democritus,
Heraclitus, and Anaxagoras,--names of high repute in the history of
philosophy,--adopted Anaximander's system, though it was neither more
nor less than a wild phantasy.

Anaximenes and Zenophanes, without pronouncing dogmatically on
the form of the earth, represented it as resting,--the one upon
compressed air, the other upon roots which were prolonged _ad
infinitum_. But upon what was the compressed air supported? And of
what nature were these mysterious roots?

Plato, with a nearer approximation to the probable, gave to the earth
the form of a cube. The cube, bounded by six square equal surfaces,
appeared to him the most perfect geometrical solid, and consequently
the most suitable for the earth, supposed to be the centre of the

Eudoxes, who, in his long travels in Greece and Egypt, must have seen
new constellations rising in the south, while others disappeared
in the north, never ventured to adduce from his astronomical
observations the sphericity of the earth.

Aristotle, bolder than Eudoxes, was led to the conception of this
sphericity by simple consideration of mechanics. The earth, he
said, must be a sphere, because each particle of matter is carried,
by gravity, towards the centre; and as this fact is general, the
superficial particles must be at an equal distance from the centre.
This theoretical view was adopted by Archimedes, who applied it to
the waters covering the terrestrial surface. Aristotle went further;
he saw the rotundity of the earth in the shadow thrown by the latter
on the bright face of the moon during its eclipses.

It is a noteworthy fact that the arguments of Aristotle, founded
on a method to which all the progress of science is due, remained
unaccepted for two thousand years. And why?

We shall attempt to explain.

Among those subjects whose comprehension seems to have been specially
difficult to the mind of man, we must include the fact that the
earth floats without any solid support in the infinity of space, and
carries its denizens on its surface, both above and below.

Our creeds, which have ever pretended to explain everything in the
physical as well as in the moral order, have here endeavoured to
come to the assistance of the weakness of the human mind. And as each
creed asserts itself to be the best, to the exclusion of every other,
men began to imagine for the earth a navel, and placed it where it
was supposed pleasing to the divinity.

The Greek priests dismissed a couple of eagles, one towards the west,
the other towards the east; the place where these favourite birds
of Jove, of the "Father of gods and men," encountered each other,
was to be considered the "navel" of the earth. It chanced to be
Delphos, whose oracle was the most esteemed in the ancient world; the
sacerdotal caste accumulated there immense wealth. The Greek priests
prudently refrained from dealing with the difficult problem of the
earth's solid support.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Hebrew pontiffs, however, were not so reserved. After having made
Jerusalem the "navel of the world," they allowed for the earth itself
seven solid columns as a foundation. The question of the Antipodes,
in which the greatest intellects of antiquity believed,--Pythagoras,
Plato, and Aristotle,--was thus pontifically judged and condemned.
And Christians who preferred to follow the Judaical observance of
external ceremonies to a true comprehension of the spirit of the
Gospels, exaggerated the application of this sentence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The dogmatic condemnation of the existence of the Antipodes long
arrested man in his search for that fourth quarter of the world
whose inhabitants should have their feet directed towards ours. It
was one of the principal obstacles which Columbus was called upon
to surmount in the realisation of his sublime idea. When cited
before the Council of Salamanca,--composed of prelates and men
of science,--he had to meet the revived objection of Lactantius,
a Christian apologist of the third century:[39]--"Can there be
anything more absurd than a belief in the existence of Antipodes,
of inhabitants with their feet opposite to our feet, of people who
walk with their feet in the air, and their heads on the ground?--that
there is a part of the world where everything is inverted, where
trees throw out their branches from top to bottom, while it rains,
and hails, and snows, from bottom to top?"

Columbus admirably demonstrated, from an artificial globe, that
flies walked as easily on the lower as on the upper surface, and
hence pointed out that men, compared with the size of the earth,
are much smaller still than flies. But his judges persisted in
their conviction, and did not fail to cast in his face the jesting
words of Plutarch: "Philosophers, rather than renounce a favourite
hypothesis, would make human beings crawl on the lower face of the
earth like worms or lizards." But it was principally the authority of
St Augustine which they invoked to condemn a belief in the Antipodes.
St Augustine had declared such a belief incompatible with the dogmas
of the faith; for to admit the existence of inhabitable lands, in the
opposite hemisphere, would be to admit the existence of peoples not
descended from Adam, since it would have been impossible for him to
traverse the ocean lying between Asia and the Antipodes!

       *       *       *       *       *

Some authorities denied the Antipodes on the ground taken by certain
classic writers, that the regions of the opposite hemisphere were
uninhabitable under the tropics, on account of the extreme heat,
and near the Poles, on account of the extreme cold. Others cited
Epicurus, affirming that the earth was inhabitable and roofed with
a celestial vault only in our western hemisphere, the other half
being an inaccessible chaos. Others pretended that no traveller
could reach the east by way of the west, because the earth, being
pear-shaped, he would encounter on his road an insurmountable
tuberosity,--undoubtedly the tail or stalk of the pear! Finally,
there were some who dwelt upon the magnitude of the earth, whose
circuit would occupy a voyage of upwards of three years.

It was to this objection, as the most serious, that Columbus
principally addressed his reply. And he replied by discovering the
New World. But had not this daring genius been supported in his
projects by the Spanish sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, he would
have been handed over to the Inquisition, and condemned as a heretic.
It was then so dangerous to believe in the Antipodes, that a Bishop
of Salzburg was deposed from his episcopal throne, and deprived
of his ecclesiastical dignity, by the Pope Zacharias, for having
countenanced the heresy.

We now know why, for a whole series of centuries, men would not
follow in the footsteps of Aristotle, who was the first to establish
theoretically the sphericity of the earth.

The discovery of the New World, and the voyages of circumnavigation
which rapidly succeeded one another, demonstrated, not only that
inhabitants there are whose feet are opposite to ours, but that the
earth does not rest upon any species of support; that it floats, like
a star, freely in space.

The ice was broken. The question of the earth's figure was revived,
and, this time, discussed in a new light.

_Is the earth perfectly round?_

Copernicus never doubted it; he who was the first, after Pythagoras,
to represent our planet as revolving round the sun. The geometrical
sphericity of the earth wonderfully harmonised with the perfect
circles in which he supposed the planets to move. Kepler, who had
first laid a sacrilegious hand on the holy figure of the circle,
and on the circular orbits of the stars, never ventured, however,
to dispute the perfect rotundity of the earth; it appeared to him
a matter beyond all controversy. Galileo was the first to hazard a
doubt. But this doubt became a certainty only through the labours of

       *       *       *       *       *

Galileo, who died in the very year that Newton was born (1642),
had discovered, as we know, that all bodies, in falling, obey an
uniformly accelerative force, called _gravitation_, and that the
space traversed increases as the square of the time occupied in
their descent. Huygens perceived that gravity varies according to the
parallels of latitude, and it was not long before he demonstrated,
by the number of oscillations which a pendulum of a certain length
performs in a certain time, that it diminishes in a regular ratio as
we approach the Equator, where it reaches its _minimum_, and that
it augments, on the contrary, in due proportion as we approach the
Poles, where it must attain its _maximum_. Strong in this knowledge,
and knowing, moreover, that the material molecules, uniformly
distributed in the volume of a sphere, act upon a point of its
surface as if they were all reunited in the centre of that sphere,
Huygens deduced from it the inequality of the equatorial and the
polar radius; he attempted even to determine how much the former
exceeded the latter. We know, now-a-days, that this difference is
139,670 feet (41,848,380-41,708,710 feet).

Newton admits, with Huygens, that the earth bulges out at the Equator
and is flattened at the Poles; that, in a word, it is a spheroid
of revolution. He went much farther: he made the precession of
the Equinoxes depend upon this flattening; but he did not furnish
its mathematical demonstration. What has been the result? A free
skirmishing ground for all opinions.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.--Sir Isaac Newton.]

While Newton maintained that the form of the earth was that of a
spheroid flattened at the poles, as a necessary sequence of the great
natural law which bears his name, Jacques Cassini declared himself
in favour of an elongated spheroid. The difference between these
two illustrious teachers originated a controversy which lasted for
upwards of fifty years. The Academy of Sciences of Paris pronounced,
not unnaturally, in favour of the opinion of their colleague, though
it was far from having the authority of Dominique Cassini, father
of Jacques, and, still less, that of the illustrious President of
the Royal Society of London. But patriotic ardour supplemented the
weakness of their arguments. The flattened spheroid and Newton's law
were rejected by France, because they were an English invention.
Undoubtedly, no one _openly_ acknowledged so paltry a reason, but
it was certainly true as a sentiment. As everybody knows, it was
Voltaire who first removed the prohibition, and popularised the
Newtonian philosophy in France.

How did our astronomers finally succeed in demonstrating
mathematically the veritable form of our planet?

To obtain a clear and accurate conception, we are obliged to
transport ourselves back two thousand years. Let us recall, in the
first place, that, owing to the diurnal movement, all the stars
progress from east to west; that they rise and set, to recommence
the same rotation. This is a general and conspicuous fact, which
everybody can confirm for himself. But now for another, whose
observation requires a little more time and patience. During the
diurnal movement, which carries on all the stars and the sun himself,
the latter progresses independently, in the inverse direction of
the celestial vault, as a fly might do upon a revolving globe. But
this second fact is complicated with a third: While advancing on his
own account, from west to east, the circle which the sun traverses
is not parallel to the Equator; the radiant luminary transports
himself alternatively into the northern and southern hemispheres,
accomplishing this rotation in 365 days and a fraction of a day, in
an oblique plane, which cuts that of the Equator under an angle of
about 23-1/2°.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us here take advantage of a parenthesis to explain a few
astronomical technicalities, necessary for the due comprehension of
our subject.

It is in the plane, or _oblique circle_,--ὁ κῦκλος λοξός, as
Ptolemæus called it,--that eclipses occur, owing to the relative
positions of the sun, earth, and moon; and it is for this reason
modern astronomers have denominated it the _Ecliptic_. The Ecliptic
is the Equator of the _oblique sphere_ (σφαῖρα
ἐγκεκλιμμένη), properly so called, as the Equator is that of
the sphere of the world, or the _right sphere_ (σφαῖρα ὀρθή).
The circles parallel to the Ecliptic, which continue to diminish in
diameter up to the poles of the oblique sphere, bear the name of
_parallels of latitude_; and we give that of _meridians of longitude_
or _oblique ascensions_ (ἀναφοραὶ λοξαί) to the great
circles which cut the first rectangularly as they all pass through
the axis and the poles of the Ecliptic. The same division by circles
cutting each other rectangularly has been made on the right sphere,
or sphere of the world. Only, _there_ the latitudes are named
_declinations_, and the longitudes _right ascensions_. The general
diurnal movement is a movement in right ascension; it is measured upon
the Equator. The individual annual movement of the sun is a movement in
longitude; it is measured upon the Ecliptic.

The zone, or belt, which the sun seems to trace in its annual march,
from the limit of its southern excursion (_the winter solstice_) to
the limit of its boreal excursion (_the summer solstice_), and in
returning from that limit to the other, after having twice passed
through the equinoctial line (or Equator),--this zone is marked on
the firmament by a belt of constellations known as the _Zodiac_.

These constellations are named, according to the figurative grouping
of the stars (on which we have commented in Book I.),--the Ram, the
Bull, the Twins, the Crab, the Lion, the Virgin, the Balance, the
Scorpion, the Archer, the Cow, the Water-bearer, the Fishes. There
are twelve, three for each season. The constellations represented by
these figures, so singularly chosen, spread over the whole celestial
vault,--that is, over an extent of 360°.

       *       *       *       *       *

To resume.

The heavens, like earth, have their annals: everything changes
there as in the human world. In the age of Hipparchus,--or some two
thousand years ago,--the sun entered, at the spring equinox, into the
zodiacal sign of Aries; in the summer solstice, it entered into that
of Cancer; at the autumnal equinox, into Libra; and at the winter
solstice, into Capricorn. These signs then corresponded exactly to
the constellations which they represent.

Now, whatever Aristotle and his disciples may say, the firmament
is not incorruptible (ἀφθαρτός) and immovable; even the _fixed_
stars, as we call them, change their place in time. We have seen
that the whole celestial vault or "right sphere" runs, from east to
west, around the poles of the world; we have seen also that the sun
moves, on his own account, from west to east, around the poles of
the oblique sphere, or the Ecliptic. Well, this does not suffice;
there is a third movement to be observed,--that of the right sphere
itself round the poles of the Ecliptic; and this, not like that of
the sun, from west to east, but inversely, from east to west. Only,
this movement of the starry sphere in longitude, or parallel to the
plane of the Ecliptic, is extremely slow, compared with the movement
of the same sphere in right ascension, or parallel to the Equator of
the world. While the former traverses in twenty-four hours the 360°
of the circle, the latter occupies (in round numbers) 25,000 years.

Who was the first discoverer of the slow movement of the heavens?
Hipparchus. This great astronomer, on comparing his own observations
with the more ancient ones of Aristillus and Timocharis, succeeded
in ascertaining that the constellation which, 150 years before him,
corresponded to the spring equinox, did not, in _his_ time, any
longer coincide exactly with the same equinoctial point, but had
outstripped or preceded it about 2°. This is what we mean by the
_precession of the equinoxes_.

Hipparchus was at first of opinion that this movement affected only
the constellations of the Zodiac; but he soon became assured of its
universality. He perceived that if it does not alter the parallels
of latitude; because it has occurred parallel with the Ecliptic, it
makes the position of the equinox retrograde from east to west, and
the sun pass slowly through the same constellations in the reverse of
the order in which he annually traverses them.

We know this movement now to nearly the fraction of a second. By an
inappreciable _daily_ quantity, it rises, at the end of the year, to
50".3,--in a century, to about 1-1/2°,--in twenty centuries, to 30°,
or the twelfth part of the Zodiac. It is for this reason the Ram,
which, in the days of Hipparchus, was occupied by the sun in spring,
has no longer any value as a commemorative sign; it gives place
now-a-days to the constellation of the Fishes, and corresponds to the
constellation of Taurus, or the Bull; the constellation of Taurus to
Gemini, or the Twins; the constellation of the Twins to Cancer, and
so on. But little more than a month, then (a month of 2000 years!),
of the _great year_ (a year of 25,000 years!) has elapsed since the
epoch of Hipparchus. It is to astronomy especially that, with a
slight variation, we may apply the aphorism of Hippocrates--"_Brevis
vita, ars longa_" (Life is short, and art long).

       *       *       *       *       *

The precession of the equinoxes explains why the pole of our starry
vault does not occupy invariably the same point of the firmament, and
why the constellations which we now see shining during the nights of
a given season change their places as time glides by.

       *       *       *       *       *

But what is the cause of this movement?

Before this question, as before a sovereign tribunal, appear the two
opposite doctrines which have been enunciated on the value of the
earth and the sun in the world's system. According to the doctrine at
once the oldest and most intolerant, the earth occupies immovably the
centre of the world; the sun and the planets are only its satellites;
they, like the moon, revolve around the earth; finally, all the
starry sphere, the whole celestial vault, rotates upon its own axis
in four-and-twenty hours. We have been speaking as if this were
really and truly the condition of things. If we admit this doctrine,
which bears the name of the Ptolemean system,--though, in truth, it
is probably as old as humanity itself,--how shall we explain the
precession of the equinoxes? We cannot do otherwise than suppose,
that while the celestial sphere executes its diurnal movement round
the poles of the world, it executes another and much slower movement
round the poles of the Ecliptic.

But this assuredly is a most singular supposition. What! the same
starry sphere revolves at one and the same time parallel to the plane
of the Equator, and parallel to another plane (the Ecliptic) inclined
upon the first? After having imagined eight spheres of crystal to
explain the movements of the moon, the sun, the planets (Mercury,
Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn), and the stars, do we require a ninth?
Where will you stop, if you begin to discover additional movements?
You are condemned to wander from hypothesis to hypothesis, until you
fall into an abyss of contradictions!

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is the language employed by the tribunal of posterity, in
addressing itself to the error which would substitute appearance for

       *       *       *       *       *

According to the other theory, it is the _sun_ which occupies the
centre of the system, and it is the _earth_ which, accompanied by
the remainder of the planets, revolves around _it_. This theory is
likewise of considerable antiquity, though generally known as the
_Copernican system_. But four-and-twenty centuries prior to the
epoch of Nicholas Copernicus, it was taught by the "Samian sage,"
Pythagoras, and his disciples. The system then in acceptance,
however, imposed upon them the necessity of silence. Ptolemæus was
acquainted with it, but endeavoured to turn it into ridicule. "There
are people," he says, "who pretend that heaven is immovable, and
that it is earth which revolves on its own axis; evidently these
individuals are unaware how supremely absurd is their opinion (πάνμ
γελοιότατον)." And it was in the name of logic and mathematics
that Ptolemæus thus treated the Pythagoreans!

In the system of Copernicus,--the diurnal movement of the right
sphere,--it is the earth's rotation upon its own axis which, being
prolonged into the heavens, marks there, by its extremities, what
are called the _Poles of the world_, just as the _Equator of the
world_ is simply the prolongation of the terrestrial Equator. As for
the Equator of the oblique sphere (the Ecliptic), in which the sun
_apparently_ moves, it is, in reality, the identical plane in which
the earth moves during its annual revolution round the sun. Now, in
this movement of translation, the axis of the earth does not remain
constantly parallel to itself; it deviates,--very slightly, it is
true,--and so as to be scarcely perceptible to several generations
of men. It is then quite natural that our successors should see, for
a long time to come, the northern pole of the starry sphere near the
extremity of the tail of Ursa Minor. But, two thousand years hence,
this slow deviation will have become very perceptible; astronomers
will then see the pole of the world in another constellation, and, as
this displacement is continuous, the prolonged axis of the earth will
have traced on the firmament, in 25,000 to 26,000 years, a circle
parallel to the plane of the Ecliptic, and having for its centre the
pole of that plane. This circle is the base of a cone whose summit
rests upon the earth. (Fig. 27, _a_.)

[Illustration: FIG. 27.]

But this imaginary defined circle (which appears elliptic on account
of the perspective) is but the mean of a series of oscillations
around the pole of the world, which changes its position, as we
have just shown. (Fig. 27, _b_.) These oscillations originate in
the circumstance that the axis of the earth inclines alternately
forward and backward, in such wise, that a star, after having
approached the Pole, immediately afterwards recedes from it; they
cause the terrestrial globe to resemble the head of a man who, by an
alternation of gesture, says alternately yes and no. Only, while man
(the puppet!) occupies but a second or two in affirming and denying
the same thing, the earth employs about eighteen years and a half in
inclining once forward to say _yes_ (in Latin, _adnuere_), and once
backward to say _no_ (in Latin, _abnuere_). This is scientifically
denominated the _nutation_ of the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Who was the fortunate mortal to discover a phenomenon so singular?
Bradley, the English astronomer; the same who discovered the
_aberration of light_. It was in the course of his researches to
determine the annual parallax or distance of the stars that, at an
interval of nineteen years, he made, in 1728, the discovery of the
aberration of light, and, in 1747, that of nutation.

The reader may not be displeased to know under what circumstances
he accomplished the latter discovery. While observing, for several
successive years, the circumpolar stars, and notably the star γ in
Draco,--a constellation situated between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor
(see Fig. 2, p. 9),--Bradley noticed that this star changed its
position by a movement constantly directed towards the north, from
1727 to 1736, or for a period of nine years. When it had reached the
latter limit, the star appeared stationary for a moment, and then
retraced its course in a southerly direction. Would it also occupy
a period of nine years to arrive at the limit of this contrary
excursion? Bradley affirmed that it would, and communicated his
prediction to a French astronomer, Le Monnier.

How was Bradley led to appear in the new character of a seer?

By two special circumstances--the universality, and the duration of
the phenomenon.

If the star γ in Draco had been the only one to direct its course
towards the north, Bradley would probably have been led to believe
that the Pole exercised upon it a peculiar attraction; but he
perceived that many other stars rose in like manner towards the
Pole with an uniform and constant march; it was, therefore, more
natural to suppose that the Pole advanced towards _them_. And what
strengthened the probability of this hypothesis was, that the stars
situated in the neighbourhood of the _course_ of the solstices
exhibited a corresponding displacement. But there was already
recognised as in existence a peculiar movement which explained the
precession of the equinoxes. Was it necessary, therefore, to suppose
a second, a kind of rotatory movement? Newton had already thought of
it, by imagining a nutation, through which the Pole might alternately
rise and sink on the plane of the Ecliptic in the space of a year.
But the displacement which occurs in that interval is too slight
to be perceptible to observation. There might, therefore, be a
reasonable doubt of the accuracy of Newton's idea.

Bradley resumed the idea of his illustrious compatriot. He recognised
in the northward movement of the stars the effect of a similar
rotation, but one which took much longer in its accomplishment. By
doubling the interval of nine years, to the term of which he had
seen the movement become stationary, he obtained a period nearly
approaching that which the moon employs in returning to the same
nodes. This coincidence flashed upon him like a ray of light.

       *       *       *       *       *

We must here remind the reader,--who, we hope, is not weary of
our scientific or semi-scientific disquisition,--that the lunar
nodes,--_i.e._, the points of the Ecliptic through which the moon
passes when it proceeds from south to north (the ascending node),
and from north to south (the descending node),--are the analogues
of the solar equinoxes; the equatorial points through which the sun
passes on its course from south to north (the spring equinox), and
in returning from north to south (the autumn equinox),--points of
intersection whose retrogradation constitutes, as we have seen, the
precession of the equinoxes. Well, the moon's nodes retrograde in a
similar manner by a movement directed from east to west; only it is
a much slower movement. While the equinoxes are displaced but fifty
seconds (50") in a year, the lunar nodes, during the same period, and
in the same direction, move over a space of 19° 20' 29"; so that, in
less than nineteen years, they have made the complete circuit of the
heavens, to return to exactly the same point, after traversing 360°.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus, then, we have explained the data on which Bradley rested his
prediction. It was confirmed by Le Monnier, who observed, in fact,
that the star γ in Draco, and the neighbouring stars, observed by
Bradley from 1727 to 1736, moving from south to north, occupied
the same period of time, from 1736 to 1745, in accomplishing an
equal excursion in a contrary direction, from north to south. These
observations enabled him to fix approximatively the quantity of the

To sum up; it was recognised that the angle made by the axis of the
terrestrial poles with the axis of the poles of the Ecliptic, far
from remaining constantly equal to itself (the amount was 23° 27' 30"
in the middle of the present century), varies by 0".48 yearly, and
that this angle itself experiences a variation whose mean value is
48" in a century. It sometimes exceeds this mean value, and sometimes
falls below it, by an amount which rises to nearly 9".65. Thus, while
describing, in an interval of 25,000 to 26,000 years, its curve
around the poles of the Ecliptic, the earth's axis describes, from
east to west, a small ellipsis in the space of about eighteen and
two-third years, and imperceptibly changes, moreover, its angle of

But, in fine, what is the true cause of all these movements?

Were the earth a perfect sphere, were all its radii of equal length,
the effect of the universal _ponderation_ would make itself felt
as if all the material molecules were concentrated at a single
point--the centre; and, apart from this ponderation, which exercises
itself in the direct ratio of the masses, and in the inverse ratio
of the square of the distances, nothing exists which would sway
our globe in one direction rather than in another,--no precession
of the equinoxes would take place, the plane of the Ecliptic would
invariably coincide with the plane of the Equator, and an eternal
spring would smile on the fortunate earth. The dream of the poet
would be realised, and light would spread

    "Through all the seasons of the golden year."

But, as observation shows, the contrary has taken place, since,
besides its movements of diurnal rotation and annual revolution,
the earth has its mobile axis, which is independently inclined and
displaced. Thus, the material molecules of the planetary surface are
not all at an equal distance from the centre; and, consequently, the
earth is not a perfect sphere. It is, as D'Alembert has demonstrated,
the bulging, equatorial portion which experiences, owing to the solar
attraction, a retrograde movement, carrying onward the rest of the
globe in a general march, called the precession of the equinoxes.

But this general movement, as we have seen, is, in itself, simply the
mean of a series of oscillations, which D'Alembert has also connected
with gravitation. He has shown that the nutation of the earth's axis
results from the moon's attraction on the bulging portion of our
globe. Finally, it has been mathematically demonstrated that the said
bulging portion of the earth produces, under the continuous action
of the sun, the precession of the equinoxes; just as this portion
determines, by its continuous action, the nutation of the lunar axis.
As in this universal ponderation all the wheelwork of the world
catches (_tous les rouages du monde s'engrènent_), and the planets,
such as Mars and Venus, must also have their share in the action,
however weak it may be, we have contrived to render an exact account
of the slow changes of the obliquity of the Ecliptic.

Let us resume. Movement and matter, all is _ponderated_.

Inasmuch as matter is unequally distributed around the earth's
centre, being flattened at the Poles and bulging at the Equator, it
follows that the sun's enormous weight makes it vacillate, so that
it describes at its axis a cone around the poles of the plane of its
orbit. Its movement we see in the heavens in the precession of the
equinoxes. But the terrestrial axis traces it tremblingly, because
the moon, owing to its vicinity, exercises a perturbing action on
our planet, which, in its turn, exercises on the moon a still more
energetic influence.



[Footnote 38: Seneca, "Quæstiones Naturales," vi. 6.]

[Footnote 39: Lactantius, "De Falsa Sapientia," iii. 24.]




    "There lives and works
    A soul in all things, and that soul is God."



We have returned, at least in an astronomical sense, to the budding,
happy, radiant spring; the sun, in its apparent course, crosses the
equinoctial line; the duration of the day, transiently equal to
that of the night, will augment in proportion as the great luminary
describes above our horizon greater and yet greater arcs of a circle.
Yet this is not the budding, happy, radiant spring of the poets. No,
if it be spring according to the law of universal gravitation, it is
winter still by the law of life. The forest trees, such as the oak,
the ash, the fir, and the beech, continue to present the image of
death; and the sap which should reanimate them has not awakened from
its winter sleep.

A solemn moment is it when the sap--that life-blood of the
plant--arrested by the icy grasp of winter in its circulatory
movement--receives a new impulse through the vivifying action of
the central luminary of our system. What a subject for study and

[Illustration: FIG. 28.--Landscape in Winter.]

It has been very finely dealt with by Longfellow.

How wonderful! he exclaims,--and we only regard the wonder with
indifference, because it is repeated annually,--how wonderful is
the advent of spring!--the great annual miracle, as he calls it, of
the blossoming of Aaron's rod, repeated on myriads and myriads of
branches!--the gentle progression and growth of herbs, flowers,
trees,--gentle, and yet irrepressible,--which no force can stay, no
violence restrain,--like the influence of love, which wins its way,
and cannot be withstood by any human power, because itself is divine
power. True enough it is, that if spring came but once in a century,
or burst forth with the terror of an earthquake, and not in silence,
what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold
the miraculous change! But now the silent succession suggests nothing
but necessity. To most men, only the _cessation_ of the miracle would
be miraculous, and the perpetual exercise of God's power seems less
wonderful than its withdrawal would be.

       *       *       *       *       *

May we venture on another quotation? We take it, gentle reader, from
a living poet, whose works are not so widely read as their genuine
poetical feeling and wealth of language deserve--I mean Sydney Dobell.

After describing the return of Spring, and her grief and astonishment
at the spectacle of earth, pale, frozen, seemingly dead, he

                            "She fell upon
    The corse, and warmed it. The natural earth,
    Which was not _dead_ but _slept_, unclosed her eyes;
    Then Spring, o'erawed at her own miracle,
    Fell on her knees.
      Meanwhile the attendant birds,--her haste outstript,--
    Chasing her voice, crowd round, and fill the air
    With jocund loyalty.
                          With flowers Spring dressed the Earth;
    Then did her mother, Earth, rejoice in her;
    And she, with filial love and joy, admired,
    Weeping and trembling, in the wont of maids.
    Meantime her pious fame had filled the skies.
    He that begat her, the almighty Sun,
    Passing in regal state, did call her 'child,'
    And blessed her and her mother where they sat--
    Her by the imposition of bright hands,
    The Earth with kisses. Then the Spring would go,
    Abashed with bliss,--decorous in the face
    Of love parental. But the Earth stood up,
    And held her there; and, these encircling, came
    All kind of happy shapes that wander space,
    Brightening the air. And they two sang like gods
    Under the answering heavens."

[Illustration: FIG. 29.--"The attendant birds crowd round, and fill
the air."]

We think that the ancients, if they had seriously reflected upon
the important part played by the sun in the economy of nature; how
it is the heart, and spring, and inner power of every movement and
manifestation of life; how it is, as Sir David Brewster says, the
centre and soul of our world, the lamp that lights it, the fire that
heats it, the magnet that guides and controls it, the fountain of
colour, which gives its azure to the sky, its verdure to the fields,
its rainbow-hues to the gay world of flowers, and the purple light
of love to the marble cheek of youth and beauty;--we think that the
ancients, if they had thought upon, or had known, all this, would not
have given the earth a chief place in our system. And that they did
so is all the more strange when we remember that they attributed to
the world a _soul_ (the "soul of the world" is a favourite idea with
the great philosophers of antiquity), and looked upon the planets as
living creatures.

But they were swayed by that egotistical instinct which leads man to
refer everything to himself, even the very gods which he has created
after his own image. The Bible teaches us that there is but one God.
Alas! are there not as many gods as there are men? Does not each of
us create a deity in accordance with his own inclinations, his mode
of thought, his degree of mental culture, the sphere of his ideas? Is
the God of a tolerant philosopher identical with that of a bigoted
fanatic? It is not so much due to a deceitful appearance, an optical
illusion, as to a kind of innate infatuation, that the human race
have come to consider the planet they inhabit as the centre of the


Let us return to the sap, the life-blood of vegetation.

How is it that its movement does not recommence at the same time in
all plants? Why are some clothed with leaves when the others are
scarcely budding? Wherefore, in certain genera, do the flowers appear
before the leaves?

Some authorities assert,--but facts show it to be a purely gratuitous
supposition,--that the flower, which, with the fruit, seems to be
the goal or object of vegetation, demands a greater activity on the
part of the sap. But, in truth, many trees and shrubs, such as the
poplar, the willow, and the hazel, flourish at an epoch when the sap
is barely aroused from its protracted lethargy.

These are questions which have still to be answered.

But upon yet another question we may dwell at some detail. What is
the cause of the circulation of the sap?

To the best of our knowledge, this important problem has never been
propounded as it should have been. And for this reason: all observers
who have taken up its consideration have had in view only the _rising
sap_, and the cause of its rising. Evidently this is but a _part_
of the problem. The ascending sap, after undergoing an important
modification in the leaves, becomes the _descending_ sap; just as the
venous blood is transformed, on coming into contact with the air in
the lungs, into arterial blood. It is this alternative movement of
_going and coming_ which constitutes the circulation both of the sap
and the blood, and which ceases completely only with the life of the
plant or the animal. We must, therefore, bear in mind,--which has not
been hitherto done,--these two opposite, yet indissolubly connected,
movements, before we can approach with advantage the solution of the
proposed question.[40]

Science consists in discovering, among the different ways of looking
at things which present themselves to the mind, the one which appears
to explain most clearly the phenomena submitted to observation. He
who doubts the accuracy of our remark need only join us in reviewing
the different opinions enunciated up to the present time on the cause
of the rise of the sap.

Grew, an English botanist, a contemporary of Newton, and his
fellow-member in the Royal Society of London, attributed the rise of
the sap to the play of the utricles of which the plant is composed.
These utricles, he said, maintain a close intercommunication; through
their contraction, the sap passes from the lower to the upper, and
thus arrives almost at the top of the plant. Grew's authority carried
conviction to the minds of many botanists, particularly to those
of his compatriots. Yet was his opinion altogether imaginary; the
supposed contraction of the utricles does not exist.

       *       *       *       *       *

La Hire, a French botanist, who flourished at the beginning of
the eighteenth century,--son of the geometrician of the same
name,--pretended that he could account for the rise of the sap by the
play of the little valves with which the interior of the sap-vessels
was furnished; at the same time he assigned a very active _rôle_
to the fibres of the roots. The fibres elevate, he said, the whole
column of superimposed liquid, incessantly introducing, by a kind of
suction, new fluids into the organs.

Unfortunately, the "play of the little valves, with which the
interior of the sap-vessels is furnished," is a pure invention of La
Hire's. Instead of growing wise by experiment, he suffered himself
to be led astray by a false analogy. Valves are found in the veins
of man and the mammals; but no one has ever seen the sides of the
vessels of a plant garnished with valves to induce a circulation of
the sap.

Mariotte, so well known by his researches into the compressibility
of air, represented the rise of the sap as dependent upon what he
called "the attraction taking place in the narrow tubes"--upon what,
in fact, we now term _capillarity_. "This first entrance of water
into the roots is in obedience," he said, "to a law of nature; for
wherever very narrow tubes exist which touch the water, it enters
into them, and even rises, contrary to its natural inclination."

       *       *       *       *       *

Many botanists adopted the opinion of Mariotte. But if it were
well founded, all _capillary_ bodies, even inorganic ones, ought
to present a circulatory movement analogous to that of the sap.
Now, this is not the case. A body must be animated, must be living,
for attraction to take place in the narrow tubes, and to produce a
movement comparable to that of the nutritive liquid.

       *       *       *       *       *

Malpighi attributed the rise of the sap to the alternating
rarefaction and condensation of this liquid by heat; Perrault, to a
kind of fermentation; De Saussure, to a peculiar irritability of the
vessels. Of these three hypotheses, the first is purely physical; the
second, chemical; the third, vital. So, as we see, there is something
for everybody--_chacun à son gout!_

       *       *       *       *       *

The same question has, in our own day, been taken up from a new point
of view, on the occasion of Dutrochet's discovery of the endosmose.
This philosopher was one of the first to perceive that two liquids,
separated from one another by a membrane, quickly effect or induce a
current which always carries the thinner liquid towards the denser,
and ends by mingling the two completely. "It is endosmose," he said,
"which produces at one and the same time the progression of the sap
by _impulsion_, and its progression by _affluxion_. The sap would
receive its impulse in the spongioles of the roots; thence would be
carried towards the upper parts by the turgescence of the organs--by
the affluxion, which would thus act as a forcible mode of suction."

The basis of this theory is, that the sap contained in the upper
parts will be more concentrated or denser than that in the lower
portions of the same plant. But this is a mere supposition. And even
this supposition has been swept away by the recent experiments of
Hartig and others, which show that the difference in density between
the two saps is not only almost null, but in many ligneous plants the
lower sap is, on the contrary, denser than the upper.[41]

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally, and more recently, M. Joseph Boehm has put forth a theory
which offers some points of analogy with that of Grew. According to
Boehm, the rise of the sap is the effect of a suction, the cause of
which must be sought both in the atmospheric pressure and in the
transpiration which takes place through the organs, and notably
through the leaves of the plant. The part which he attributes to the
cellules, of which the organs are composed, he thus describes:--"When
the superficial cellules of the plant lose water by transpiration,"
he says, "of two things, one will happen: either these cellules will
contract and shrivel, or they carry up, by a kind of aspiration, to
the neighbouring cellules, situated in deeper layers, a quantity of
water equivalent to what they had lost. In the normal condition, the
latter is always the result; each cellule takes from its neighbour
what itself has lost, and this action, becoming more and more
general, is continued from the leaves to the extremities of the
roots. The cellules of the spongioles replace the water which they
have yielded, from the humid medium surrounding them."

In support of this theory,[42] M. Boehm has made several experiments,
which, we fear, will not carry conviction to every mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the different theories which we have been attempting to explain,
their authors, as it seems to us, have neglected an essential
element--the _life_ of the plant. Then, the experiments undertaken
by way of proof, have been made upon cut stems or branches, which,
consequently, did not enjoy their integral vitality. In fact, the
results indicated could just as well have been obtained with inert as
with living matter.

Taking into account all these considerations, we are doubtful whether
any value can be placed on the theories just enunciated. Undoubtedly,
physical causes, such as capillarity, heat, evaporation, atmospheric
pressure, electricity, have a certain marked and constant action. But
this action is here complex; it is found combined with a new force,
whose effects constitute precisely the profound difference which
exists between the massive mineral framework of the globe and the
transitory beings peopling its surface. It matters little whether we
call it _vital force_, or otherwise; sufficient that it _exists_. We
must, therefore, allow for its influence when endeavouring to explain
the varied movements of which plants, as well as animals, may be the


_The Daisy_ (_Bellis perennis_).

    "Wel by reason men it call maie
    The daisie, or els the eye of the daie."[43]

Among all the treasures of the floral world, that which should excite
in each of us the tenderest emotion, and most readily stir up in our
minds thoughts too deep for tears, is the Daisy,--that favourite of
our innocent and happy childhood.

Ah! would we were now as content with simple joys as in the days when
that wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower was to us a beauty, a prize,
and a charm!

[Illustration: FIG. 30.--"The Daisie scattered in each mead and

We wonder how many of our poets have done homage to the sweet and
simple "nursling," or rather, whether by any _true_ poet it has been
neglected. Cowper reminds us that in

    "The spring and play-time of the year"

the village-wife and her little ones go forth to

    "Prank their hair with daisies."

James Montgomery, whose admiration of nature is somewhat frigid, can
yet remind us that--

    "The rose has but a summer reign,
        The daisy never dies."

Chaucer warms into enthusiasm when he thinks of its pastoral,
innocent gracefulness ("simplex munditiis"):--

    "So glad am I when in the Daisy's presence,
    That I am fain to do her reverence;
    For she of all sweet flowers is the flower
    With virtue filled, and honourable power;
    For ever fair alike, and fresh of hue,
    As well in winter as in summer new."

Let us not omit a reference to quaint but genial William Browne:--

    "The Daisie, scattered on each meade and down,
    A golden tuft within a silver crowne:
    Fair fall that dainty flower! and may there be
    No shepherd graced that does not honour thee!"

Yes! let no poet be taken to your heart of hearts who has no love
for the "flower white and rede,"--in French, called "La Belle

    "The op'ning gowan, wet wi' dew,"

--Burns's "bonnie gem,"--the flower of the meadow and the lea, of the
woodland and the vale.

A modest, unassuming flower, destined to be trodden under the feet
of the thoughtless, it withstands the rigorous breath of winter, is
beautiful throughout the circle of the year--_Bellis perennis_, as
the Swedish botanist not infelicitously called it. Its vegetation
is arrested only during the harshest frosts; but it resumes its
living growth as soon as it becomes sensible of the first rays of the
spring-time sun.

It is at the moment of nature's awakening, about "the solemn
Easter-tide," that this "sweet nursling of the vernal year" displays
all the simple coquettishness of its chaplet of flowers,--that
chaplet which has also procured for it the name of the tiny
"Marguerite,"--that is, "little pearl,"--a name which the French have
adopted from the Latin--_Margarita_.

Here let us pause, and propound a question.

How would you propose to test the real character, the genuine nature,
of friend or acquaintance?

Your answers, dear readers (believe me, I hear them clearly!), are
very various. Some of you say, that the best means of sounding the
depths of the human heart is by bringing before it a misery which
needs to be relieved. Others recommend the bestowal of a benefit. But
such processes of analysis appear to me far from being infallible;
too wide a margin is left for the operation of sentiments of pride
or vanity. Why not conduct the man whose real character you wish
to discover into a meadow enamelled with sparkling daisies? Thus
you would impose upon nature the task of interrogating him. If he
manifest feelings of indifference, you will do well to regard him
with suspicion: take care how you admit him into your intimacy; for
his heart must be cold, and his mind troubled--

    "The man that takes not daisies to his soul
    Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils."

But to return to our daisy. Observe how, by its organs, it yields
itself--in anticipation, as it were--to its fate. And, first, its
long and fibrous roots anchor it so solidly in the soil that the
cattle which browse it cannot tear it up. Next, its stem is so short
that it seems to be blended with the roots; one might almost doubt
whether any existed. But, if you look at it more closely, you may
readily assure yourself that the stem is the point whence issue the
recumbent branches which bear the leaves. Why does not the daisy
boast of stems erect and free? Would they not be incessantly bent or
broken by the merry troops of children who love to play and dance
upon Nature's carpet, the soft green sward?

       *       *       *       *       *

The leaves of our daisy, then, seem to issue directly from the roots,
without the intermediary of an _apparent_ stem, which must not be
confounded--recollect this, dear reader!--with the stalk or peduncle
that bears the crown of petals. These leaves in form resemble tiny
crenelated spatules, with the handles flattened, and the edges
trimmed with little hairs or fibres. The peduncle, too, seems to
start immediately from the roots. The principal part of the peduncle
is surmounted, as already hinted, by the flower, to which we next
direct our inquisitive and searching gaze.

What shall we call it? To what shall we liken it? To a gilded
button framed in a pearl. This button, this "yellow eye," as
Tabernæmontanus, a botanist of the sixteenth century, named
it,--the "eye of day" of our old poets,--a drop of gold in a rim of
silver,--is not like any other flower; is quite a world or system of
Lilliputian blossoms, each of which is represented by a miniature
tube, yellow at the summit, and of a greenish white at the base,--the
said tube being the union, or combination, of the tops or summits
forming the central gem, the gilded button, the drop of gold. You may
readily note this arrangement in the larger variety of daisy, the
_Chrysanthemum leucanthum_ of Linnæus,--two Latinised Greek words
which signify, literally, "golden-blossomed white flower."

If you doubt whether each of these tiny tubes be a flower, you have
only to analyse them with the assistance of your ever-useful lens.
The analysis of one will suffice; for all the others resemble it.
Now, with your penknife, split the tube throughout its entire length:
you will thus lay bare all the parts which enter into the composition
of a veritable flower, commencing with the most conspicuous. Through
the magnifying glass you can see five stamens,--free as regards
their short filaments, but united by their elongated anthers;
a characteristic which gives name to the great family of the
_Synantheraceæ_, of which family our daisy is an honoured member;--a
bifid (_i.e._, cloven in two) style traversing the middle of the
anthers, which form for it a kind of sheath (see Fig. 31, _a_);--a
monopetalous, tubular, and obscurely bilabiated (two-lipped) corolla,
inserted at the summit of an unilocular (one-lobed) ovary, which is
attached to the calyx (see Fig. 31, _b_). In these tiny flowers,
then, which we call in Latin _flosculi_, in French _fleurons_, in
English _florets_, nothing is deficient. As they are shaped like
tubes, we call them, by way of distinction, _tubulifloral_.

But what are these white rays, lightly shaded with pink, which
enclose or encircle the florets? (See Fig. 32, _a_.) Examine them
at their points of insertion. You will perceive there some traces
of reproductive organs, among which the style is most prominent. As
for the corolla, it is represented only by its brown lip, which is
immeasurably developed. It is this exaggerated development which
constitutes the _white rays_, or petals, that prove so attractive to
the eye. (See Fig. 32, _b_.) Do not forget to observe, by the way,
that they are rose-tinted only on the side which directly undergoes
the action of the light. To distinguish them from the tubular
florets,--the _tubulifloræ_,--these "white rays" have been called
_ligulate florets_, or _ligulifloræ_.

The complete flowers (or the florets) and the rays (or partially
abortive flowers) form, in their aggregate, what our botanists
have agreed to call an _inflorescence of the capitula_. Disposed
quincuncially on an ovoid receptacle, or _phoranth_, both are grouped
(Fig. 32, _c_) in alternating rows.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.]

[Illustration: FIG. 32.]

To explain thoroughly this species of inflorescence, we will venture
upon an hypothesis. Let us suppose that we could elongate the said
ovoid receptacle as if it were a ball of wax,--it would be changed
into a sheath-like inflorescence; all our smaller florets, whose
union composes what is improperly called the _flower_ of the daisy,
would be ranged around an elongated, instead of being placed upon a
flattened axis. This axis characterises all the Synantheraceæ of the
family of the Compositæ (a sub-order); sometimes naked, sometimes
garnished with varied hairs, either shrunken or persistent, it has
furnished several characters useful in the classification of genera
and species. But possessed with a mania for complicating everything,
botanists designate it indifferently _receptacle_, _phoranthe_,
_clinanthe_, etc. Why not employ one and the same word to distinguish
one and the same thing? Why not have preserved the name _axis_, and
have attached to it such qualifying terms as might be necessary to
indicate simple differences of forms?

       *       *       *       *       *

The ancients looked upon nature,--I cannot sufficiently insist
upon this theme,--with quite other eyes than we do. The study and
description of characters, so indispensable to our classifications
and nomenclatures, appeared to them a useless labour; they had not
even an idea of its value. But it was of signal importance to them
to investigate the virtues and properties of plants, so far as they
might be rendered available for the preservation of health and the
cure of disease.

Our daisy is common in Greece. Theophrastus, therefore, ought to
have known it, though he does not refer to it. It is common also in
the plains of Italy. Pliny was the first to describe it, under the
name of _bellis_; he attributes to it the properties of the St John's
wort.[44] And it is noteworthy that the daisy belongs to the same
family as the latter; a circumstance certainly not known in the days
of Pliny.

The botanists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are by no
means niggards in the eulogiums which they lavish on the medicinal
properties of our graceful Synantheracea. Bock (better known,
perhaps, under the name of _Tragus_, a Goat), who mistook the yellow
anthers for the seeds, recommended the leaves of the _Gänzeblume_
(goose-flower, as he called it) as a laxative. Tabernæmontanus
prescribed them as a remedy for cramps in the stomach and the
spitting of blood.

Ray, who expresses his astonishment that the Greeks had not spoken of
it, looked upon the daisy as an excellent vulnerary. "Externally,"
says he, "we employ it with success in the form either of a poultice
or a fomentation; for internal treatment, we mix its juice with
vulnerary potions."--These properties procured it the name of
_Consolida minor_, which would make it the pendant of the larger
Consolida, _Symphytum officinale_, a species of the Boraginaceæ, very
common in damp and shady localities.

Ruel recommended cataplasms of daisies and cowslips for gout and
scrofulous tumours. Chomel affirmed that he knew by experience
that the flowers of the daisy and the _herb robert_[45] (_Geranium
Robertianum_), if dried in a hot dish, and applied to the head,
considerably relieved headache.[46]

Wepfer set great value on a mixture of daisy, cress, and rummularia
in the treatment of pneumonia; and Michaelis assures us that he had
cured dropsies by the use of the flowers of the daisy cooked as a

Tournefort, who was very partial to this kind of observation,--now
repudiated by our botanists,--says, that the daisy, taken as a
warm drink or a decoction, quickens the blood when congealed by a
very severe attack of cold, as happens in pneumonia; it removes
obstructions, facilitates the circulation, and gives the fibres an
opportunity of recovering their elasticity.[47]

Garidel sums up in the following words the result of his personal
observations:--"I have frequently remarked that the juice of the
daisy acts as a laxative, and even as a purgative; the decoction does
not have that effect so often as Schroeder observes, who says that
mothers frequently give the leaves as a gentle aperient to their
children.... Care should be taken not to administer this remedy
indifferently to all pleuretics, nor at any season; for if we give it
when the expectoration is easy, we run the risk, by the employment
of a laxative at a wrong time, of spoiling everything, and checking
the expectoration. This I have seen occur in several cases, where the
remedy had been administered by a hermit."[48]

Can it be true that the commonest plants are the most useful? Nature
is quite capable of affording us these surprises; nature, who, by her
shifting and proteiform movements, never ceases to laugh at human
theories. But men, as was said long ago, have eyes, though not to
see; and everybody also knows, from his own experience, that he has
ears, not to understand!

However this may be, the daisy, which, as we have seen, was formerly
so extolled for its officinal properties, is now-a-days completely
ignored by physicians. What, then, are we to conclude? That all the
remedies in vogue--melancholy to confess!--are an affair of fashion.
When men shall have resumed perukes, and women abandoned chignons
for furbelows, we shall remember, perhaps, the virtues of the lowly,
tender daisy.

We cannot take leave of our favourite wild-flower without repeating
Wordsworth's beautiful stanzas. He takes as his motto a fine passage
from Wither, quaint old George Wither:--

    "Her [the Muse's] divine skill taught me this,
    That from everything I saw
    I could some instruction draw,
    And raise pleasure to the height
    Through the meanest object's sight.
    By the murmur of a spring
    Or the least bough's rustelling;
    By a daisy whose leaves spread
    Shut when Titan goes to bed;...
    She could more infuse in me
    Than all Nature's beauties can
    In some other wiser man."

On this hint our great meditative poet speaks, and speaks most
tenderly and truly:--

    "In youth from rock to rock I went,
    From hill to hill, in discontent
    Of pleasure high and turbulent,
        Most pleased when most uneasy;
    But now my own delights I make,--
    My thirst at every rill can slake,
    And gladly Nature's love partake
        Of thee, sweet daisy!...

    "By violets in their secret mews
    The flowers the wanton zephyrs choose;
    Proud be the rose, with rains and dews
        Her head impearling;
    Thou liv'st with less ambitious aim,
    Yet hast not gone without thy fame;
    Thou art, indeed, by many a claim,
        The poet's darling.

    "If to a rock from rains he fly,
    Or, some bright day of April sky,
    Imprison'd by hot sunshine lie,
        Near the green holly,
    And wearily at length should fare;
    He need but look about, and there
    Thou art! a friend at hand, to scare
        His melancholy.

    "A hundred times, by rock or bower,
    Ere thus I have lain couch'd an hour,
    Have I derived from thy sweet power
        Some apprehension;
    Some steady love; some brief delight;
    Some memory that had taken flight;
    Some chime of fancy, wrong or right,
        Or stray invention....

    "Oft do I sit by thee at ease,
    And weave a web of similes,
    Loose types of things through all degrees.
        Thoughts of thy raising;
    And many a fond and idle name
    I give to thee, for praise or blame,
    As is the humour of the game,
        While I am gazing.

    "A nun demure, of lowly port,
    Or sprightly maiden of Love's court,
    In thy simplicity the sport
        Of all temptations;
    A queen in crown of rubies dress'd;
    A starveling in a scanty vest;
    Are all, as seem to suit thee best,
        Thy appellations.

    "A little cyclops, with one eye
    Staring to threaten and defy,--
    That thought comes next; and instantly
        The freak is over;
    The shape will vanish, and, behold!
    A silver shield with boss of gold,
    That spreads itself, some fairy bold
        In fight to cover.

    "I see thee glittering from afar,
    And there thou art a pretty star;
    Not quite so fair as many are
        In heaven above thee!
    Yet like a star, with glittering crest,
    Self-pois'd in air, thou seem'st to rest:
    May peace come never to his breast
        Who shall reprove thee!"

We may add that we know but of four references to the daisy in
Shakspeare. In _Cymbeline_, act iv., scene 2:--

                              "Let us
    Find out the prettiest daisied plot we can."

In _Love's Labour's Lost_, act v., scene 2:--

    "Where daisies pied[49] and violets blue
    Do paint the meadows with delight."

Again, in _Hamlet_, act iv., scene 7:--

    "There with fantastic garlands did she come
    Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples."

[Illustration: FIG. 33.]

And, lastly, in _Hamlet_, act iv., scene 5:--

      "There's a daisy; I would give you some violets, but they
      withered all when my father died."

In Milton there are but two allusions. In the Masque of _Comus_:--

    "By dimpled brook and fountain-brim,
    The wood-nymphs, deck'd with daisies trim,
    Their merry wakes and pastimes keep."

And in _L'Allegro_:[50]--

    "Meadows trim with daisies pied."


    "The pied windflowers and the tulip tall."


It is probable that, for the majority of floral amateurs, the name
of the tulip is inseparable from a plant which, with the hyacinth
and the lily, becomes, in the merry spring-time, the ornament of
our gardens. Yet, towards the end of March, the observer will
occasionally discover, in the woods and groves, the _wild tulip_,[51]
the _Tulipa sylvestris_ of Linnæus, which may, perhaps, be very
properly taken for the type of a small tribe of the Liliaceæ. It
is easily recognised by its flower, which resembles a large yellow
campanula, slightly green on the exterior. Like all plants of the
same family, it has but a single floral envelope or perianth, which
may be either a corolla or a calyx as you will. The initiated protest
and asseverate that it is a calyx; but the _profanum vulgus_, who
compose the majority, will have it to be a corolla, on account of its
colouring. To cut the knot, and please all parties, our beautiful
floral envelope has been denominated a _petaloid perianth_.

The divisions of this perianth, six in number, may, in truth, be
considered as _petals_; they are detached down to the base, and full
in proportion as the pistil is developed. The latter is composed
of three stigmata, attached, without the intermediary of a stylus
(sessile stigmata), to a free ovary (that is, an ovary not joined
to the perianth), which, as it develops, forms a capsule with three
angular projections marking so many lobes; each of these lobes
includes a great number of compressed seeds. As in all the Liliaceæ,
and in many other vegetable families, the stamens, six in number, are
_hypogynous_,--that is to say, inserted at the base of the division
of the perianth. The stem, nearly two feet in height, bears a single
flower only: the leaves are lanceolate, like all of the family,
and the root is formed of a bulb, with thin and brownish-coloured
external _tunicæ_.

Is the wild tulip an original species, or only a degenerate variety
of the cultivated tulip (_Tulipa Gesneriana_)? The question is one
not very easily solved.

It is generally admitted that the cultivated tulip,--which everybody
knows,--was introduced into Europe from the East, towards the middle
of the sixteenth century. It is, at all events, certain that none of
our older botanists speak of our wild tulip. Dodonnée himself refers
to the Eastern tulip only, of which he was the first to give, in his
"Historia Stirpium," a tolerable delineation.

A circumstance which would favour the belief that the tulip was
imported from the East is the Oriental derivation of its name:
_tulipa_, in Italian _tulipano_, comes to us, it is said, from the
Turkish _tuliband_, or the Persian _dulbend_, whence is obtained, by
corruption, _turban_, the characteristic head-gear of the Orientals.
Thus, at bottom, _tulip_ and _turban_ are the same word, only altered
in form.

       *       *       *       *       *

Who does not know with what a glory of colours the skill of our
horticulturists has succeeded in clothing the tulip?

Inasmuch as the cultivated species bears the distinctive addition
of _Gesneriana_,--and of this species all existing tulips are but
varieties,--we might reasonably suppose that Gesner, the celebrated
Swiss naturalist (who died at Zurich, aged sixty-nine, in 1565),
was the first to speak of it. But he makes no allusion to it in his
"Historia Plantarum" (printed at Bâle in 1541); he only refers to it
in his "Additions" to the works of Valerius Cordus, published in 1561.

We subjoin a literal translation of the words of Conrad Gesner:--

"In the year 1559, at the beginning of April, I saw at Augsburg, in
the garden of F. H. Herwart, magistrate of that town, a plant whose
seed had been brought from Constantinople, or, according to some,
from Cappadocia. It was called _tulip_."

About the same epoch, this plant was cultivated at Vienna, in the
gardens of some wealthy amateurs; whence several tulip-bulbs were
afterwards sent into England.

This ornamental plant, whose splendour is of such brief duration,
became, towards the middle of the sixteenth century, the object of
a commercial speculation, which marks an epoch in horticultural
annals. The towns of Amsterdam, Haarlem, Utrecht, Alkmar, Leyden, and
Rotterdam, were the head-quarters of the new trade.

The years 1634 to 1637 marked its apogee, its culmination; it was
the reign of the _tulipomania_,--a malady which, notwithstanding
its severity, does not figure among our pathological nomenclatures.
Bulbs of the variety called _Viceroy_ were sold for 3000 florins
(£235) each; and amateurs paid even as high as 5000 florins (£430)
for the _Semper Augustus_ variety! Those who had not the needful
amount of ready money disposed of their goods, their cattle, and
their furniture. And not only the horticulturists, but the seamen,
and artisans, and servants, plunged headlong, into this frantic
gambling. Tulip bulbs were then as eagerly sought after as shares in
the company of the Mississippi in the days of Law,--or in the South
Sea Stocks, also set afloat by that ingenious financier.

But it was not so much a love of flowers as a lust of speculation
which lay at the bottom of this famous mania. For example, a
gentleman engaged a merchant to deliver, at the end of six months,
a bulb worth 1000 florins. When the time came, the price of the
bulb had either gone up or down, and the contractor paid only the
difference; as for delivering the wares, neither party cared about
it. It was, therefore, the exact equivalent of a speculation in the
funds or in railway shares. The transactions took place on the public
exchanges, as well as in coffee-houses, inns, and on the promenades.
They originated a fertile crop of abuses, and to put an end to them
the intervention of the Government was required.

However, we may cite several examples of distinguished men who have
cherished a partiality for the tulip, in the better sense of the
word. Among these was Justus Lipsius, the great philologist. In his
garden he cultivated with his own hands, it is said, the rarest
varieties, and his floricultural tastes were shared by two of his
intimate friends, Dodonée (Diodati) and L'Écluse, the two most
illustrious botanists of their time.

But all these details, however curious and interesting, do not teach
us whether our wild tulip has sprung from the cultivated germs. As it
is impossible to solve this problem experimentally, we are forced to
be satisfied with a simple conjecture.

And, for our own part, we are strongly of opinion that the wild
and cultivated tulips may, from their very origin, have co-existed
independently of one another. And now to put forward a fact in
support of this statement.


With the Heliotrope every lover of flowers is familiar; it is not
less prized for its delicate fragrance than the tulip for its
glowing colours. No doubt exists as to the country from which we
have imported the cultivated heliotrope, nor as to the epoch when it
was introduced: it came from Peru, whence the name given to it by
Linnæus, _Heliotropium Peruvianium_; and was brought into Europe,
in 1740, by Joseph de Jussieu. Although not known in Europe above
a hundred and thirty years, it is now an "old, familiar face" in
every garden. Now, by the side of the cultivated species, a native
of the New World, we can place a wild variety, indigenous to the Old
World, common in our own country, and, indeed, in all the countries
of temperate Europe; whence it has received the appellation of
_Heliotropium Europæum_.

The European species, let me state, is in every respect similar to
the Peruvian species, except that its flowers are inodorous and of a
paler blue. Yet it was known before the discovery of America,--before
the discovery of those regions from which we have obtained the
cultivated heliotrope. Thus, the two varieties have existed
contemporaneously, and have flourished independently of each other,
from their very origin. Why should not such be the case with the wild
and cultivated tulip?


From our Spring posy the delicate Anemones must not be omitted.
More than twenty species are cultivated in Great Britain, and I
hardly know to which I would give the preference. They are called
by that most unmeaning term, "florist's flowers," and from the
attention bestowed upon them, the cultivated varieties have been
greatly improved. But you and I, dear reader, will go forth into
the "wild woods," and enjoy the rich gifts of nature untampered
by horticultural science. It is towards the end of March that the
wood anemone (_Anemone nemorosa_) begins to expand its graceful
leaves and snow-white buds to the stray sunbeams that force their
way through the embowering branches of stately elms and spreading
beeches, and in April it has attained its full glory, contributing
largely to the beauty and the show which then embellish the
forest glade. Snow-white, and faint rose-red, and soft delicate
lilac,--these are the prevailing hues of its tender petals.

It is said that the wood anemone never blossoms earlier than March
16, and never later than April 2. It opens out its loveliness to
the sun about the same time as the swallow returns from the genial
South to our land of pleasant verdure. Country children associate it
with the appearance of the cuckoo, and call it the "cuckoo flower,"
but the "wandering voice" is later than the woodland blossom in its
welcome to the spring.

Why is it called _Anemone_? Of course, the English name is derived
from the Greek άνεμος, "wind;" but what connexion is there between
the wind and the flower? Credulous old Pliny asserted that it never
bloomed except when the wind blew. Some of our botanical writers
explain that it shivers and bends before the winds of March and the
breezes of April. Others remind us that though generally found in the
shelter of the groves, it will thrive lustily in windy and exposed
localities. But I suspect the true reason of the name is its peculiar
sensitiveness to atmospheric changes. As a foreteller of the storm it
is not less trustworthy than a barometer, never failing to fold up
its exquisite petals when the winds are gathering over the distant

Our plant is considered injurious food for cattle; and it was on
account of its unwholesome properties, perhaps, that the Egyptians
regarded it as an emblem of sickness; or the idea may have been
suggested by its frail and feeble appearance.

The yellow wood anemone is a rare and beautiful variety, which I have
sometimes met with among the chalky downs of Kent. Its botanical
designation is _Anemone ranunculoides_.

A still richer species is the _Anemone pulsatilla_, or Pasque Flower
Anemone; a silky downy plant, easily recognised by its blossom of
glowing purple. The blue mountain anemone (_Anemone Apennina_) is
only to be found, as its name indicates, on the bold rugged sides of
lofty mountain-heights.

The Anemones belong to a very important order,--the _Ranunculaceæ_,
or Crowfoot family,--which is divided into five sub-orders: 1.
Clematidæ; 2. Anemoneæ; 3. Ranunculaceæ; 4. Helliboreæ; and 5.
Actœæ, or Pœniæ. Linnæus distinguishes forty-one known genera,
comprising a thousand species. There are nine British genera of

In Drayton's "Poly-Olbion" occurs a rich descriptive passage,--an
exquisite "flower-piece,"--which, on account of its beauty, deserves
to be better known, and more frequently quoted. The poet is enlarging
upon the floral rites which were celebrated at the espousals of the
rivers Thame and Isis, and sets before us a bright bevy of Nymphs
and Naiads; engaged in twining "dainty chaplets" to deck the persons
of the bride and bridegroom. The stalwart Thame,--so it seems to
them,--should not be "dressed with flowers to gardens that belong,"
but with blossoms plucked from his own meads and pastures. As most of
those selected are fit for a spring-time nosegay, we may well enrich
our pages with quaint old Drayton's enumeration of them:--

    "The Primrose placing first, because that in the Spring
    It is the first appears; then only flourishing;
    The azured Harebell next with them they neatly mixt,
    T' allay whose luscious smell they Woodbine placed betwixt.
    Among those things of scent there prick they in the Lily,
    And near to that again her sister Daffodilly.
    To sort these flowers of show with others that were sweet,
    The Cowslip there they couch, and the Oxlip for her meet;
    The Columbine amongst them they sparingly do set,
    The yellow King-cup, wrought in many a curious fret;[52]
    And now and then among, of Eglantine a spray,
    By which again a course of Lady-mocks they lay;
    The Crow-flower, and thereby the Clorra-flower they stick,
    The Daisy over all those sundry sweets so thick,
    As Nature doth herself to imitate her right;
    Who seems in that her 'pearl' so greatly to delight,
    That every plain therewith she powdereth to behold.
    The crimson Darnel-flower, the Blue-bottle and gold,
    Which, though esteemed but weeds, yet, for their dainty hues,
    And for their scent, not ill, they for their purpose choose.
    Thus, having told you how the Bridegroom Thames was drest,
    I'll show you how the Bride, fair Isis, they invest."

Here the poet resorts to the garden for his decorative wreath, but
is careful, as we shall see, to eschew "florist's flowers," and to
select only our dear old favourites:--

    "The red, the dainty white, the gaudy Damask Rose,
    The brave Carnation, then, of sweet and sovereign power
    (So of his colour called, although a July flower),
    With the other of his kind, the speckled and the pale;
    Then the odoriferous Pink that sends forth such a gale
    Of sweetness, yet in scents as various as in sorts;
    The purple Violet then the Pansy there supports;
    The Marigold above t' adorn the arched bar;
    The double Daisy, Thrift, the Button-Bachelor;
    Sweet William, Sops in Wine, the Campion, and to these
    Some Lavender they put, and Rosemary, and Bays;
    Sweet Marjoram with her like, sweet Basil rare for smell,
    With many a flower whose name were now too long to tell."

If our space permitted, we should like to gossip awhile about each
of the flowers commemorated by our old poet, for to each attaches
some legend, or romantic tradition, some rural observance, or sweet
poetical association. But we must continue our researches, and they
bring us now to the _Arum_.


To the French the Arum is commonly known as the Calf's foot (_Pied de
veau_). It is a common enough plant, growing on the borders of the
wood, and delighting especially in the shade of the hazel trees, but
it bears not the slightest resemblance to the hoof of any quadruped
whatsoever, unless, indeed, to a very fervid imagination there should
be visible a shadowy similitude in its leaf.

And it is, in truth, asserted--but, not having the eye of faith, the
editor cannot see any ground for the assertion--that its sagillate
or arrow-headed leaves, marked by a strongly-defined midrib, bear a
certain likeness to the "under bi-ungulated face" of the foot of a
young ruminant. Appearing in the early days of spring, they contrast
agreeably, by their shining verdure, with the colour of the dead
leaves heaped up at the base of the hedgerows. Simultaneously with
its leaves comes forth a curious organ,--rare in vegetables of
temperate regions, common in the tropical palms, and characteristic
of the family of the Aroidaceæ, to which our Arum belongs. This
organ, rolled up in a coil or spiral, is named the _spathe_.
It protects the flowers in their young state, and, as they are
developed, gradually falls off. Its colour is a greenish yellow; at
the summit it is sometimes streaked with purplish veins, and at the
base it swells out in a globose fashion.

A small thermometer, introduced into the interior of the rolled-up
spathe, indicates a rise of temperature equal to one or two degrees
above that of the external atmosphere. Whence comes this difference?
Because in the spathe is frequently found imprisoned another organ,
the seat of the mystery of reproduction. This organ is a fleshy axis,
on which are arranged the flowers in two distinct rings; the upper is
occupied by the stamens, reduced to simple anthers (sessile stamens);
observe the filamentous appendages--they are abortive ovaries. These
same appendages also surmount the lower ring, where several rows
are set of sessile ovaries; each ovary composed of a single lobe,
containing a very small number of ovules, the majority of which
miscarry as the ovaries become metamorphosed into bright red berries:
these are the fruits which appear in autumn; they form a spike or ear
of coral, each containing, ordinarily, a single seed. The flowers, as
a consequence of this separation of the two sexes, are _monœcious_;
the succulent axis which bears them is called a spadix.[53] On
tearing open the spathe, our glance first rests upon the apex of the
spadix, which has a club-like form, and is of a beautiful violet-red
colour. The two rings of sexual organs have much less attraction for
the profane; the lower ring, loaded with female flowers, is more
prominent than the upper ring, which bears the male flowers.

The root of our Arum also deserves a particular examination. It is
a white tubercular stock or stem, containing a quantity of fecula,
mixed, as in the West Indian manioc, with an acrid poisonous
principle which produces a burning painful heat in the throat. This
injurious principle is destroyed by exposure to the fire, and by
repeatedly boiling the plant in water. After being thus heated, there
remains only the fecula, in the form of a white powder, which, in
times of scarcity, supplies a very nutritious food. "I made use of
it," says Bosc, "during the storms of the Revolution, when I had
taken refuge in the solitudes of the forest of Montmorency. This
plant is so abundant in this forest, and in many other localities,
that, at the epoch I speak of, it would have ensured the subsistence
of several thousands of men, if they had known its alimentary
properties. I was seriously counting on the resources which it would
place at my disposal, when the death of Robespierre relieved me from
my difficulties."[54]

Our _arum_, which we have taken as a type of the family of the
Aroidaceæ, is called _maculatum_, or "spotted," in allusion to the
white and violet spots with which its leaves are besprinkled.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.--The _Arum arisarum_.]

Another, and not less interesting species, is the _Arum arisarum_.
(See Fig. 34, _a_.) It loves to display its exquisite leafage on the
rocks bordering the "sea-marge," and is found in profusion along
almost the entire littoral of the Mediterranean. It is a precocious
flower--making its appearance about the end of December, and
flourishing until the beginning of Spring. The spathe, which in the
_Arum maculatum_ has all the aspect of an etiolated leaf, assumes,
in the _Arum arisarum_, the tints of a corolla,--is of a beautiful
warm red violet, streaked with white. The fleshy axis, which ought
rather to be called gynandrous (both male and female) than a spadix,
is of a red colour; naked in its upper portion, which terminates with
a kind of apple. It would remind a drummer-boy of the formidable
staff carried by his drum-major (see Fig. 34, _b_.); the stamens,
reduced to the condition of bilobed anthers, are mounted around the
central part; and the ovaries, less numerous than the stamens, occupy
the base of the axis. Each monocular ovary is crowned by a sessile
stigma, and each lobe contains a great number of erect ovules. In
the _Arum maculatum_, the number of ovules does not exceed six. Some
botanists have laid hold of this characteristic as an excuse for
withdrawing the Mediterranean species from the _arums_, and creating
a new genus, _arisarum_. The variety we have just described is, in
that case, denominated the _Arisarum vulgare_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ancients have mentioned numerous species of the _arum_. But
it is a very difficult task to bring their nomenclature into any
kind of agreement with the species described by modern botanists.
However, we may, I think, regard the _arisarum_ of Pliny and
Dioscorides as positively identical with our _Arum arisarum_.
But we are unable to admit that the _aron_, the _hepha_, the
_dracunculus_, the _dracontium_, can be, as commentators represent,
one and the same plant; still less can we admit that this plant is
our _Arum maculatum_, which is very much rarer in the south than in
the north and centre of Europe. In the solution of such problems
as these, geographical botany is an element which must not be
neglected. Unfortunately it has never been taken into account by the
commentators on the great classical authorities.

Let me advance a simple proposition. Since the potatoe has become
diseased, and the species tends to degenerate, may we not find a
substitute for it,--at least, a partial one,--among our Aroids, and,
notably, in the _Arum maculatum_?


Let us return for a while to the order of Ranunculaceæ, of which
the Anemones have already furnished us with a specimen. Several very
poisonous plants are members of this order; and, in truth, very few
can be pronounced wholly innocent. I do not think there is much
harm in the _Lesser Celandine_, however--the glossy, starry flower,
yellow as a buttercup, with heart-shaped leaves, which Wordsworth has

    "Ere a leaf is on the bush,
    In the time before the thrush
    Has a thought about its nest,
    Thou wilt come with half a call,
    Spreading out thy glossy breast,
    Like a careless prodigal;
    Telling tales about the sun,
    When we've little warmth or none."

There cannot be much harm in it, for in the north of Europe the
peasantry boil its leaves, and eat them as greens. It thrives in
all parts of England, in green woods and meadows, and on wild furzy
wastes and open commons; under leafy hedges, and even in the gay
pastures, among the primroses and hepaticas. A number of small,
grain-like tubers lie around it, close to the surface of the earth;
whence it was a common saying in "the days of old" that this plant
showered down wheat in its vicinity.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the same order belongs the _Buttercup_ (_Ranunculus bulbosus_),
whose bulbous root procured for it from our forefathers the name of
"St Anthony's turnip."

If the good saint ever partook of buttercup-corms, we do not envy
him his sensations; when boiled, they disorder the stomach, and if
eaten raw, act as an emetic.

It was formerly thought, says a pleasing writer, that crowfoot (the
buttercup is a species of crowfoot), mingled with the pasture,
improved its nature, and that the butter yielded by cows which fed
upon this mixture was of a superior quality. _Nous avons changé tout
cela_; we are wiser now; and have discovered that cows carefully
avoid eating buttercups, and that several kinds of crowfoot are even
poisonous to cattle. On some pasture-lands, in those countries where
the produce of the dairy receives particular attention, women and
children are employed to destroy the crowfoot, which they do either
by pulling up the root, or by plucking off the flower, and preventing
it from dispersing its seed. The root of the buttercup is of a highly
stimulating property if taken in an uncooked state, and its juice
will occasion sneezing; but boiling deprives this, as well as many
other vegetable productions, of its injurious properties. A similar
effect is produced by drying it in the sun; wherefore the hay crop is
not at all deteriorated by its acrid nature.

A very beautiful ornament of still pools and gently-flowing streams
is the _Water-ranunculus_ (_Ranunculus aqua atilis_), whose leaves
vary according to the depth, or calmness, or swiftness of their
watery habitat, and are thus adapted to permit the passage of water
without suffering any injury from its force. The leaves on the
surface have a round lobed shape; those immersed hang down in thin
small fibres, which offer but little resistance to the current.

The RANUNCULACEÆ also include the _Black Hellebore_, or Christmas
rose (_Helleborus niger_), one of our most splendid winter-garden
decorations, whose juice the ancients considered a wonderful remedy
for mental disorders. In whiteness it rivals the snow, which often
accumulates around it, and the snow-drop, which is frequently bound
up in the same wreath. It is called the _Black Hellebore_, to
distinguish it from the two wild species which grow in our woods, its
root being covered with a thick black skin.

The fragrant white _Clematis_ must not be omitted; its starry drops
are "things of beauty," which every true poetic eye will know how to
appreciate. It is sometimes called "Traveller's Joy," and sometimes
"Virgin's Bower;" either name is richly suggestive of pleasant
fancies. Do you remember the beautiful picture in Keats's "Endymion,"
of the shady sacred retreat where Adonis lay and slumbered? The
clematis was one of the precious flowers that adorned it:--

                    "Above his head
    Four lily stalks did their white honours wed,
    To make a coronal, and round him grew
    All tendrils green, of every bloom and hue,
    Together intertwined and trammelled fresh;
    The vine of glossy sprout,--the ivy mesh,
    Shading its Ethiop berries,--and woodbine,
    Of velvet leaves and bugle blooms divine;--
    Convolvulus in streakèd vases blush,
    The creeper mellowing for an autumn flush,--
    And _Virgin's Bower_ trailing airily,
    With others of the sisterhood."

Finally, our order comprises the _Hepatica_, with its blue or
pink blossoms and three-lobed leaves, which, from their fancied
resemblance to the form of the liver, procured the plant its English
name of liverwort; the _Flos Adonis_, or pheasant's eye,--the
_goutte-de-sang_ of the French,--so called because the ancients
fabled that it sprang from the blood of Adonis, when wounded by the
bear; the marsh marigold; the gay and vivacious larkspur; the deadly
wolfsbane, or aconite, which secretes so potent a poison; and the
aromatic love-in-a-mist, or French flower.[55]


Under the soft moss, under the stones, in all localities where
mouldiness is easily developed, under the closed doors of cellars,
you must certainly have more than once observed a tiny creature of
the form of a horse-bean, of a gray leaden colour, and supplied with
a considerable number of feet. This last characteristic will induce
you immediately to abandon the idea that you have before you an

Catch hold of it, and count its feet.

Well said; but it runs much more quickly than I would have suspected
from its previously dilatory movements.

Because it knows that danger threatens it, instinct impels it to
escape at its utmost speed. Do not be afraid to handle it; the poor
creature can do you no harm.

Unable to escape, it counterfeits death, and remains perfectly

Now examine it. It has fourteen feet, symmetrically arranged in
couples; their size perceptibly increases from the first to the last.
When the animal is at rest, they are coiled inside, so as to form an
angle whose opening faces the medial line. But here is something much
more curious; its body, which does not possess the vestige of a wing,
is also without those segments which would divide it visibly, as in
the case of insects, into head, thorax, and abdomen; but is composed
of rings, hard and scaly, like those of a shrimp.

Can it be a crustacean?

Yes; the animal you hold in your hand, and which everybody knew
by the name of wood-louse long before our naturalists knew how
to classify it, belongs to the great animal division of the
_Articulata_, which, instead of having their skeleton _inside_ the
body, like the Vertebrates, have it externally. The Crustacea form
a class of this division, to which also belong the Insects, the
Arachnida, and the Myriapoda.

Let us continue to anatomise our crustacean.

In front of its first ring (a transversal segment) you see a little
black head, with two lateral bead-like eyes, and a couple of antennæ.
The latter are each composed of three joints, which are extremely
mobile; their base is covered by the edges of the sloping head. The
most conspicuous rings of the body are seven in number; their lateral
borders are pointed in front, and rounded behind. But, if you look
closely, you will see some other rings, a little less projecting
than the former; they circumscribe the abdominal region, the belly,
properly so called, in which the intestines are lodged. These rings,
or abdominal segments, are six in number; but they have not all the
same form. The one which occupies the tail is triangular, pointed,
and surrounded by four (caudal) appendages. The three next segments,
counting from the front to the rear, are prolonged laterally in
a very marked manner; the two anterior, on the contrary, have no
such distinction. As for the caudal appendages, the two outer ones
are very strong, conical, and composed of two articulations, while
the inner, situated above the former, are frail, cylindrical, and
terminated by a tuft of hairs, whence issues a viscous liquid. (See
Fig. 35, _a_.)

[Illustration: FIG. 35. The Wood-Louse.]

An enumeration of these characteristics is tedious, but necessary
for the determination of the genus and the species. They belong
to the _Oniscus asellus_, or common wood-louse. But why, you ask,
why such a strange conjunction of names,--one Greek, ὀνίσκος, the
other Latin, _asellus_? Both carry the same meaning: why not, then,
have called our tiny crustacean an ass-ass (if such a compound be
possible)? Why, neither close at hand nor at a distance, has it
the slightest resemblance to an ass; and to say that we have only
borrowed these names from the ancients, is neither an explanation nor
a justification.

But we have not yet done with the wood-lice. Are these interesting
little creatures (they _are_ interesting, are they not?) oviparous
or viviparous? I defy you to show me anywhere a single wood-louse's
egg. Have the patience to observe our crustaceans more nearly. Among
the crowd, you will remark some--they are the females--with a kind
of membraneous pouch underneath the body, stretching from the head
to the fifth pair of legs. The pellicle which forms this pouch is so
thin, and so transparent, that you can distinguish the eggs within
it. These eggs, instead of being expelled for incubation, remain
in the mother's pouch until they are hatched. At that felicitous
moment, the membranous bag splits cross-wise, longitudinally and
transversally, to permit the emergence of the young wood-lice. The
latter are extremely small, and in form resemble nothing in the world
so much as a little white line (Fig. 35, _b_). They differ from
their parents only in having one pair of feet, and one ring less
than they have. They undergo no metamorphoses. After their birth,
the little ones, which have proportionally very large antennæ, do
not immediately separate from their mother. By a wonderful act of
forethought on the part of Nature,[56] they keep themselves concealed
in the middle of the respiratory _laminæ_, which garnish the under
part of the tail.

The specific characters of the _Oniscus asellus_ are tolerably
well defined. By its rings of dark gray, a little lighter at the
edges, which form for it an articulated, glossy carapace, marked
with white spots, longitudinally arranged; by the uniform pale gray
colour of its belly and its legs, covered with scattered hairs;
and, particularly, by its habits, our wood-louse, which the Germans
call cellar-louse (_Kellerlaus_), is distinguished from its kindred
species, of which naturalists have made distinct genera. Thus, the
_asellus_ found generally under stones, which counterfeits death by
rolling itself up in a ball like a hedgehog, and will rather suffer
itself to be crushed than unfold, is the _Oniscus armadillo_, which
some naturalists transform into the _Armadillo vulgaris_. (See Fig.
36.) This species prefers the solitude of the field to inhabited
places. Its body is considerably expanded, and its rings do not
terminate in a point on their lateral and posterior edges.

[Illustration: FIG. 36. _Oniscus armadillo._]

Another species, equally common underneath stones, has its head and
tail covered over with granulations; its antennæ are composed of
seven joints, of which the fourth and fifth are perceptibly situated
lengthwise. This is the _Oniscus granulatus_ of some entomologists;
others have designated it the _Porcellio scaber_. Why not simplify
the study of species?

The wood-lice seem to live upon decomposed vegetable matter. But in
default of other food, they devour their own kind; in this respect
resembling beings who are supposed to rank much higher in the animal

In the pharmacopœia of the ancients our wood-lice found a place.
Reduced into powder, and mixed with various substances, they were
prescribed as diuretic and aperient; but they were long ago abandoned
in medicine.

THE DRAGON-FLIES (_Libellulæ_).

In walking along the banks of a river, you must frequently have seen
hovering around you a cloud of insects, whom you would readily take
to be butterflies, were not you arrested in your conjecture by the
largeness of their head, the length of their body, the form of their
vivid, diaphanous, gauze-like wings, and, generally,--which will most
astonish you,--by their carnivorous instincts. You have about you and
before, then, not butterflies, but Dragon-flies--the _Libellulæ_ of
naturalists. They are the _demoiselles_, or "ladies," of the French;
so called, perhaps, in allusion to their airy and graceful flight.

Among these Libellulæ, one is called _Eleanora_. If she does
not shine so brightly as the others--if her colours are less
brilliant--she has, at least, the advantage of being so common that
you can easily obtain a specimen.

But, first, let us pause to think of the strange dissimilarity in
the names bestowed on the _Libellulæ_ by the English and French
respectively. They are the _Dragon-flies_ of the former,--fierce,
rapacious, formidable; the _Ladies_ of the latter,--elegant, light,
and radiant. Here we have a glimpse of national character. With the
Frenchman, "appearance" counts for so much; with the Englishman,
everything depends upon the "reality." Yet our English poets can
appreciate their gay exterior. Moore speaks of them as--

    "Those bright things which have their dwelling
    Where the little streams are welling!"
Poor Clare, the Northamptonshire poet, correctly studied--

    "The great dragon-fly with gauzy wings,
    In gilded coat of purple, green, and brown,
    That on broad leaves of hazel basking clings."

And Mary Howitt has seen them--

    "Here and there they dart,
    And flush like gleams of green and azure light."

[Illustration: FIG. 37.--The Common Dragon-fly.]

Beautiful as they are, they must be ranked among Nature's fiercest
and most insatiable destroyers. They are the terror of the insect
world. On this point we shall hereafter enlarge, but before I
forget it, I would fain relate an anecdote, in illustration of
their voracity, which I have read somewhere or other. A naturalist
recounts with what interest he has often watched the proceedings of
the dragon-fly. He has seen it, in a locality where white butterflies
were numerous, dart down as a hawk upon a quarry, seize with its legs
a firm hold of a butterfly, and carry it to a branch of an adjoining
tree. In a moment one of the white wings would drop from the boughs,
and then another would come wavering downwards, and so on, until all
four had fallen; and the dragon-fly, after a short pause, would again
dart forth in pursuit of a fresh victim. He never launched himself on
his prey when on a perfect horizontal line with it; but took care to
be either somewhat higher, or somewhat lower, so that he could seize
it with his feet.

But now let us consider by what characteristics the reader is to
recognise his Libellulæ.

The eyes are very large, the size of the insect considered; of a
brown colour, and nearly joined together at the top of the head; in
front of this point of junction a tiny vesicle is visible, carrying
three _ocelli_ (_i.e._, little, simple, glossy eyes), two on each
side, and the third on the anterior margin: the thorax is large,
hairy, and composed of two yellow plates; the abdomen laterally
depressed, in such a manner as to give great prominence to the medial
line. This last and well-marked feature it is which has procured for
the Eleanora the scientific name of _Libellula depressa_,--a name
proposed by Linnæus, and unanimously adopted; such unanimity being
a rare occurrence among naturalists, though, to parody a phrase of
Sheridan's, when naturalists _do_ agree, it is something wonderful!

In the male Libellulæ, the upper surface of the abdomen is bluish in
hue, and covered as it were with an ashy dust, while in the female it
is olive; in both sexes the first and last abdominal segment are of a
deeper shade than the other segments. The feet are black, and bristle
all over with stiff hairs; the thighs are of a brownish red. The
two pairs of wings, each strongly reticulated, present, towards the
extremity of the upper border, a black rectangular spot; their base,
moreover, is edged with brown spots; the spots of the lower pair are
triangular and larger than those of the upper pair, which are nearly
linear. They form, to a certain extent, the reservoir of the liquid
which nourishes and maintains the circulation of the network of the

The Libellula, which Geoffroy calls (in his "Histoire des Insectes")
the _Philinta_, is simply the male of the species we have just been
describing. You may see them

    "Where water-lilies mount their snowy buds,"

pursuing one another with an abrupt, jerking--I had almost said

       *       *       *       *       *

A species less common than the preceding, but closely resembling
it, is the _Françoise_ of Geoffroy, the _Libellula quadrimaculata_
of Linnæus. It owes its descriptive or specific designation to the
colours which diversify its wings. On the outer edge of each, two
brown marginal spots are conspicuous: the first at the place where
in the Eleanora (and other species) the black spot is found, and the
second nearly in the centre of the external border, which, at this
point, is considerably compressed; moreover, the lower wings are
marked, beneath their yellow base, with a kind of triangular spot of
blackish brown, finely reticulated with yellow. Externally, there is
no difference of appearance between male and female, except that the
abdomen of the latter is somewhat the larger.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now we come to the _Sylvia_, the _Libellula cancellata_ of Linnæus.
Its eyes and thorax wear a greenish hue; the diaphanous wings are
spotted with brown near the outer margin; the abdomen is of a
bluish-gray; the extremity of the sixth segment, and the following
segments, are wholly black.

The _Julia_, or _Libellula grandis_ (Linn.), has been separated
from the Libellulæ by the great entomologists, such as Fabricius
and Latreille, and included in the genus _Aeshna_ (Phœbus, what a
name!), preserving the descriptive adjective _grandis_. What are the
reasons put forward to justify this separation? Principally, the
form of the abdomen, and the position of those little smooth and
simple eyes, like tiny pearls or _pearlets_, which we call _ocelli_.
In the Libellulæ, properly so called, the ocelli, three in number,
are situated on either side and on the exterior margin of a kind of
semi-triangular vesicle, and the abdomen is slightly depressed, and
not unlike a club; while in the _Aeshnæ_ the ocelli are placed on a
simple keel-shaped transversal embossment, and the abdomen is narrow,
elongated, and almost cylindrical.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Aeshna grandis_ (or the "Julia") is one of the largest of the
British species. Its head is large, and its eyes are of a brown
colour shading into blue; the yellow thorax has two bright yellow
bands or stripes obliquely painted on each side. The abdomen is of a
reddish or even rusty brown; generally spotted with white and yellow
at the top and bottom of each wing. This species haunts the vicinity
of streams and "silent pools."

       *       *       *       *       *

We come, in due order, to the _Aeshna forcipata_, or "Carolina," with
its dirty yellow head, and its greenish-yellow thorax, the latter
marked on each side with three oblique lines of black: the abdomen
is black, and composed of segments laterally spotted with yellow.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Libellula_, which the illustrious Geoffroy designates "Louisa,"
is, according to modern entomologists, neither a _Libellula_ nor
a _Aeshna_, but a species of _Agarion_,--the _Agarion virgo_
(_Libellula virgo_, Linn.) The Agarions are distinguishable from
the Libellula and the Aeshna by their remarkably thin, filiform,
and exceedingly elongated abdomen, and by the three ocelli arranged
triangle-wise on the top of the head.

The "Louisa" (_Agarion virgo_) is by no means uncommon in England,
and may be found along the upper course of the Thames, the Avon, and
other rivers. It is easily recognised by its frail slender body,
shining with metallic blue reflexes. There are numerous varieties,
distinguished by their varieties of "light and shade." The spotless
green-winged species is the "Ulrica" of Geoffroy. The two sexes are
not alike. In the centre of their delicately-reticulated wings the
males have a large bluish-brown spot, which is wanting in the females.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--Male and Female of the _Agarion virgo_.]

The genera _Libellula_, _Aeshna_, and _Agarion_ compose the small
family of the _Libellulites_--a family plainly and conspicuously
characterised by the size of their head, and by the two pairs of
diaphanous wings of almost equal dimensions (the posterior pair is
a _little_ shorter than the anterior), which, while the animal is at
rest, are kept horizontally extended.

[Illustration: FIG. 39.--"A sunny pool, half-fringed with trees."]

These are the characteristics which present themselves to the
observant eye at the first glance. Do you doubt me? Betake yourself,

    "The bird is building in the tree,
    And the flower has opened to the bee,"--

betake yourself, I say, to any sunny pool, half-fringed with trees,
or pleasant river-margin; go, armed with net and microscope, and,
having secured a specimen of these terrors of the insect world, where

    "The strong on weak, cunning on simple, prey,"

devote yourself to its patient examination.

It is only such an examination that can reveal to us some equally
important, but less obvious features of the insect. But to catch
a Dragon-fly is not always an easy task; the Libellulæ are very
timorous, or else they are suspicious of the prowling naturalist who
seeks what he can entrap. Their flight is livelier and swifter than
even that of the butterfly: when disturbed in their repose, they fly
away abruptly, their wings rustling or crackling like a sheet of
parchment; if obstinately pursued, they grow irritated, and in their
quick jerking movements exhibit all the rage of the Carnivora.

But can our Libellulæ be carnivorous? Most undoubtedly. To convince
yourself of it, you have but to glance at their mouth, which is
wholly unlike a butterfly's. What an arsenal of weapons adapted for
seizing and crushing a victim! How strong are those saw-toothed scaly
mandibles! How strong their auxiliaries, the jaws, which terminate
in that dentated spring projection, furnished internally with ciliæ!
Surely, such instruments testify to their ferocious instincts,
and should induce our French neighbours to deny them the graceful
name of "les demoiselles." What a libel on tender woman,--on man's
"ministering angel!" Do but observe them. They do not rest upon the
blossom to extract its nectared sweets; in truth, they could not
do so, for they are not furnished with a proboscis. Warlike as the
Amazons,--the only portion of the female sex they can justly be said
to resemble,--they hover in the air to pounce, like vultures, upon
whatever insects may come within their reach; they quickly transfix,
and as quickly devour them. If they love to fly about the pools, the
marshes, and the streams, it is because they are sure of prey in
these localities. And, in fact, they there encounter and devour an
innumerable quantity of flies, moths, gnats, and the like.

       *       *       *       *       *

But there is another reason why the Dragon-flies, obeying the secret
impulse of nature, resort to the haunts we have been describing. They
were their cradles or nurseries, and they become, in due time, the
scenes of their espousals.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before speaking of the singular metamorphosis they afterwards
accomplish, we must touch lightly on the subject of the mode of
reproduction of our brilliant _demoiselles_.

It is laid down as a law that, in the insect world, the males are
invariably smaller or weaker than the females. Yet this law does not
hold good with reference to the Libellulæ, whose males are, on the
contrary, larger and stronger than their females. Man may lay down
laws, and extort obedience to them, within his own domain; but nature
laughs at human rules, and gives up her secrets only to the free
thought, unshackled by the fetters of authority.

But why is the male Dragon-fly stronger than the female? Because
the former must make the first advances, and carry off his aërial
companion to celebrate their bridal. For this purpose, he holds her
tightly by the neck, and continues to fly in this way for some few
minutes. At length, he perches himself on the branch of a willow, or
the leaf of an aquatic plant, along with his companion.

The eggs laid by the female are oblong in shape, and sometimes united
together in clusters: the female deposits them in the water, or on
some water-floated leaf plant, shortly after their fecundation.


    "To-day I saw the Dragon-fly
    Come from the wells where he did lie;
    An inner impulse rent the veil
    By his old husk: from head to tail
    Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
    He dried his wings: like gauze they grew,
    Through croft and pasture wet with dew,
    A living flash of light he flew."


If in your walks abroad you should meet with a pool of turbid water,
do not object to linger for a moment on its brink. Nature, as a
reward for your trouble, will gratify you with an extraordinary
surprise. Stir up the mud with a stick, or, better still, with your
hand; and then, as the children say, you shall see--what you shall

Oh, what an ugly creature is struggling in this handful of slime! It
looks like a large spider!

Nay, examine it more attentively; it can do you no harm.

Well, it is a singular animal; greenish in colour, bristling with
hairs, and covered with mud. It is not a spider, for it has only six
legs and these are exactly like the legs of insects. I can distinctly
make out three joints (articulations) to each tarsus, which
terminates in a simple hook. The belly is formed of regular segments;
is rounded above, and flat underneath. What do I see? On the top, and
nearly in the middle, each ring is armed with a spine, so that the
row of spiny projections remind one of the back of a crocodile. Pray
tell me, what is this curious creature?

Before I tell you, I would have you more thoroughly acquainted with
it. Continue your examination.

The face has a strange expression; it looks--the insect, I mean--like
a masked knight. Its mask, formed of a scaly substance and thoroughly
compact, is composed of two pieces, which are separated from one
another by a transversal suture: the upper, which is broader than it
is high, we may call the vizor; it consists of two lobes, soldered
together longitudinally; the lower, which is higher than it is broad,
will be the chin-piece; it is triangular in shape, and its base rests
against the vizor, while the summit is jointed or articulated with a
support, which acts as a hinge when the mask is raised or lowered.

These movements, let me tell you, are voluntary; the animal raises
its mask to arrest on their way the Infusoria and other animalcules
on which it feeds. For crushing them, it is provided with strong
mandibles, which you can detect by lowering the mask with a pin, or
the point of a penknife. The eyes, which resemble little mammillary
protuberances, are situated above and outside of the vizor. On the
animal's back, where the belly joins the thorax, do you observe those
four little sheath-like or scabbard-like tongues? The extremity
of the body, the tail, is marked by three conspicuous triangular
points, lying close to the opening, through which the water enters
and issues, as if it were alternately sucked in and poured out by a
piston. This, you must understand, is the respiratory apparatus. (See
Fig. 40.)

[Illustration: FIG. 40.--Larva of the _Libellula depressa_.]

[Illustration: FIG. 41.--Larva of the _Agarion virgo_.]

Well, then, what is the name of this most singular creature, this
masked knight?

It is the larva of the _Libellula depressa_; the dismal envelope
whence will issue the gaudy Dragon-fly. Listen to a graphic
description of the mask you are looking at:--

"Conceive your under-lip to be horny instead of fleshy, and to be
elongated perpendicularly downwards, so as to wrap over your chin
and extend to its bottom; that this elongation is there expanded
into a triangular convex plate attached to it by a joint, so as
to bend upwards again and fold over the face as high as the nose,
concealing not only the chin and the first-mentioned elongation, but
the mouth and part of the cheeks; conceive, moreover, that to the
end of this last-mentioned plate are fixed two other convex ones,
so broad as to cover the nose and temples; that these can open at
pleasure transversely, like a pair of jaws, so as to expose the
nose and mouth, and that their inner edges, where they meet, are
cut into numerous short teeth, or spines, or armed with one or more
sharp claws;--you will then have as accurate an idea as any powers of
description can give you of the strange conformation of the under-lip
of the larva of those insects, which conceals the mouth and face
precisely as I have supposed a similar construction of _your_ lip
would do yours. When at rest, this mask applies closely to and covers
the face; when they would make use of it, they unfold it like an
arm, catch the prey at which they aim by means of the mandibuliform
plates, and then partly refold it, so as to hold the prey to the
mouth in the most convenient position for the operation of the two
pairs of jaws with which they are provided."

And so the creature I have been examining is only a larva! How
strange to compare it,--thick, ugly, unwieldy,--with the insect that
issues from it, so aërial, so graceful, so light, so beautiful! The
more I think of the contrast, the more it interests me.

This larva, however, has all the characteristics of a perfect insect,
and I will wager that more than one observer has described it as
such, and classified it among aquatic insects. Yet it is but a larva!
And each species has its own special larva (see Figs. 40 and 41).

This seems to me as difficult to believe as if you told me that John,
James, Peter,--in fact, all men,--were only temporary bodies from
which more perfect beings would one day emerge. For the medium in
which these masked creatures live,--the troubled and muddy medium for
which they are adapted by their organisation, and in which they seem
destined to live out their life,--differs wholly and absolutely from
the aërial medium wherein, you tell me, they will one day rejoice.

Do you see, on the brink of the pond, those dried-up bodies? They are
those of your aquatic insects, the mortal remains of Libellulites;
they have rent open their vest, as you would do a garment which had
become too narrow; the rent is very conspicuous along the back;
and through the fissure issue the winged and aërial resuscitated
Dragon-flies, summoned to live in a world differing so widely from
their former one! Under the tongues were folded up the wings, and the
mask that puzzled you so greatly is split open on the level of the
sutures, so as to represent a ⟙, wanting only a handle to reproduce
one of those hieroglyphics (☥) which are found so frequently on the
Egyptian monuments, and which, according to some Egyptologists,
signify _eternal life_.

And here, my friend and companion, we may take leave of

    "The great Dragon-fly with gauzy wings."


[Footnote 40: The best means of ascertaining the coexistence of an
ascending and descending sap have been indicated in "The Circle of
the Year," pp. 163-8.]

[Footnote 41: See the _Botanische Zeitung_ ("Botanical Gazette") for
the years 1853, 1856, 1859, and 1861.]

[Footnote 42: Boehm, "Sur la Cause de l'Ascension de la Séve,"
Mémoire communiqué à l'Académie des Sciences de Vienne, juillet 1863.]

[Footnote 43: Chaucer.]

[Footnote 44: Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," xxvi. 5.]

[Footnote 45: See "The Circle of the Year."]

[Footnote 46: Chomel, "Histoire des Plantes Usuelles," ii. 282.]

[Footnote 47: Tournefort, "Histoire des Plantes," i. 103.]

[Footnote 48: Garidel, "Histoire des plantes qui naissent aux
environs d'Aix," p. 56.]

[Footnote 49: "Pied," that is, vari-coloured, motley-coated.]

[Footnote 50: See also Shelley's "Sensitive Plant," &c.]

[Footnote 51: This is common enough in Germany and France, especially
in the vineyards, but very rare in England.]

[Footnote 52: So we say, "fretted roof."]

[Footnote 53: When the spike bears numerous flowers, surrounded by a
spathe, or sheathing bract, it is called a spadix.]

[Footnote 54: Bosc, a distinguished naturalist, died in 1828, aged
69. In the ministry of Roland, he accepted the delicate post of
administrator of prisons; was proscribed after the terrible events of
May 31, 1793; and lay concealed, along with Laréveillière-Lépaux, for
several weeks in the forest of Montmorency.]

[Footnote 55: The seeds of the latter are used in the East, where
they are more pungent than in our cold climates, instead of pepper.
"They are thought to be the cummin alluded to in Scripture, where our
Saviour reproved the Pharisees for their singularity in minor things,
and their neglect of important duties."]

[Footnote 56: That is, the Creative Power which, in common parlance,
we choose to call Nature.]



    Blessed, thrice blessed is the man with whom
    The generous prodigality of nature,
    The balm, the bliss, the beauty, and the bloom,
    The bounteous providence in every feature,
    Recall the good Creator to His creature,
    Making all earth a fane, all heaven its dome!...
      The sod's a cushion for _his_ pious want,
    And consecrated by the heaven within it,
      The sky-blue pool, a font;
    Each cloud-capped mountain is a holy altar;
      An organ breathes in every grove,
      And the full heart's a psalter,
    Rich in deep hymns of gratitude and love.


           *       *       *       *       *

    The poetry of Earth is never dead....
    A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.





    "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light."


                        "A sound of song
    Beneath the vault of Heaven is blown."



The unequal duration of Day and Night, the succession and regular
return of the seasons, all the phenomena observable upon the earth,
are but the effects of a cause which we must seek in the heavens. It
is impossible to explain _them_ unless we contemplate _it_ on high,
relegating our planet into the great chorus of the worlds, where it
holds but a modest rank. Only, to perform this miracle, we must for
a moment repress in ourselves the senses which deceive us by their
exaggeration or appearances, and give free course to enlightened
thought. It is by this means alone that we can succeed in fully
demonstrating the close and perpetual relationship which exists
between our planet and the other spheres composing what we call the
Solar System.

       *       *       *       *       *

Permit us here a parenthesis, or, shall we say, a digression?

The whole secret of science, the whole secret of human knowledge--in
truth, the whole future of humanity--lies in these two
words--_Enlightened Thought_.

And here, gentle reader, I solicit your assistance in endeavouring
to elucidate a question which has a for a long time puzzled me. Why
do we apply the word "light" to that which sets in motion the eye
of the body, and to that which induces the operation of the eye
of the mind,--to the singularly mysterious physical agent without
whose intervention all the external world would be to man a dream or
a void, as well as to the still more mysterious moral agent which
illuminates the world within?

I anticipate your answer. "The light," you say, "which opens up to me
the material world is a reality; the other is only an image."

And it is true that this is the solution which first presents itself
to the mind. But the longer you reflect upon it, the more you will
be inclined to agree with me that it is unsatisfactory. What,
then, means this agreement among all peoples, past and present, to
designate by the same words--as

    Light             To illuminate
    Obscurity         To obscure
    Shadow            To overshadow
    Morning           To darken
    Day               To clear away
    Twilight          To blind
    Gloom             To cloud

--those actions, processes, or operations which take place or are
produced in the outer world, physical or material, and in the inner
world, intellectual or moral.

Were your pretended "image" the result of purely personal
impressions,--all persons are not equally apt in apprehending those
fictitious relations which are the food of poetry,--were it, in
a word, no more than an individual conception, and, therefore,
eminently variable, I should not hesitate to accept your opinion: we
should simply be discussing what are called, in scholastic language,
the individual sense (_sens propre_) and the imaginative sense (_sens
figuré_). But there exists upon this point an unanimous and universal
agreement: all languages, living or dead, attest it; it embraces the
aggregate of the members of the human family.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is the _first_ point which induces me to doubt the legitimacy
of the proposed explanation. But I am confirmed in my hesitation by
numerous other facts.

Let us emerge from the domain of rhetoric to enter that of
experimental physiology and psychology. Too powerful a light
blinds the organs of seeing. No mortal eye, unless with the aid of
artificial appliances, can gaze upon the sun, the great source of
light. If the vision is to act clearly, we must proceed step by
step. If from a very light apartment we pass rapidly, and without
transition, into a darkened room, or _vice versâ_, we feel
temporarily blinded: the eye demands a short time to recover, as
it were, from its astonishment. If we fix our gaze for one or two
minutes on a star of the first magnitude, as, for example, Sirius,
and afterwards turn away abruptly, the eye will for a while remain
insensible to stars of a less intense splendour.

These are incontestable physiological facts, which anybody may easily
verify for himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, in the psychological order facts exist which are in all
respects analogous. Take one of those truths which the human thought,
labouring generation after generation, has taken centuries to
discover or elucidate; place it suddenly before an unprepared mind;
however luminous may be this truth, it will be simply shadow and
darkness to the mind we speak of; it will not comprehend an iota
of it. Why? For the very obvious reason that it lies outside its
sphere of ideas, in every respect comparable to the sphere of vision,
beyond which and within which there is no more room for the sensorial
impressions. There, as here, we must proceed gradually, and arrange
the transitions so as to produce the desired results.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be easy for me to develop this parallel by other and still
more remarkable facts; but what I have just said will suffice to
show that the line of demarcation which philosophers have, upon
principle, desired to trace between the physical and moral order,
has turned the mind aside from many fertile fields of research and
speculation. Let us cite an example. The sun is the visible centre
of light, heat, organic life; in fine, of all the movements of our
material world. Yet it is but a relative focus, since the sun, with
its planetary train, revolves, probably, in company with other suns
or systems, around a centre as yet unknown; and as there is no reason
why we should pause in this cycloidal progression, this second centre
or focus of systems may revolve around a third, the third around
a fourth, and so on. Thus we shall have an indeterminate series
of relative centres; for the term does not exist of which we can
say,--there is the beginning, or here is the end of the series.

We do not meet with the absolute in the material, any more than in
the intellectual world. Truth, by its power of attraction, sets in
motion all the wheels of our understanding; we seek after it eagerly,
in the doubt which torments us, in the obscurity which surrounds us;
we all feel the need of being enlightened by it, and warmed, and
revivified; we all are in need of belief, and, at the same time, of
possessing--let there be no illusion in this respect--a certainty or
demonstration of what we believe.

But the truth which we think our own does not leave the mind at rest;
a slight effort suffices, in fact, to teach us that the truth we
accept depends upon another and remoter truth, and that the world
of thought is thus carried onward in an interminable series of
relative truths; unless we find it more convenient to pause here at a
primary cause, as elsewhere at a primordial centre, which we may ever
identify with the primary cause. But is this truth, supposed to be
final, capable of satisfying equally every mind? With this question,
dear reader, I close my parenthesis.

       *       *       *       *       *

To understand clearly the variable duration of the day at all points
of the terrestrial surface, let us so place ourselves as to see our
planet distinctly in front. I need hardly say that this invitation is
not addressed to the visual organs of the body, but to the "mind's
eye, Horatio." With the former, fixed as we are on the surface of
the globe, we can only see the shadows of objects standing out in
relief upon it, and still, with the sun at our back, can perceive
but a comparatively insignificant portion. With the second, on the
contrary, we may detach ourselves from the earth, may mount afar
into space, may plant ourselves on some aërial height, whence we may
embrace, at a single glance, all the illuminated hemisphere of our
globe: we shall have but a single shadow on the prospect,--that which
our brightened planet casts behind it, and which, in four-and-twenty
hours, traverses the entire surface of the globe, producing light
wherever it passes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having completed our preparations, let us note what we perceive with
our eye thus disjoined from our body,--an eye equally well adapted to
fix every moving object, and to see at any distance bodies extremely
small, or bodies extremely large. What a marvellous eye! And it is
for us to develop its power, and freely to increase its range. What
an arduous task!

The luminous envelope, the photosphere of the sun, simultaneously
darts its rays in all directions, with an intensity which diminishes
with the square of the distance.

Let us follow those which direct their course towards our planet.

So long as the rays do not come into collision, or strike against
resistant matter, they neither warm nor enlighten. Confirming the
Newtonian hypothesis of emission, they travel straight as arrows
through the icy space, the shadowy ocean in which the waves of the
terrestrial atmosphere are lost. But the moment they encounter a
material obstacle, the rays partly penetrate it, and are partly
thrown back, in such a manner as to form a series of undulations like
those which the falling of a stone into a pond produces. As they
recede from these repeated shocks, the rays come under that theory of
undulation which Huygens promoted.[57]

Let us trace the rays of light back to their origin. These encounter
first the globes nearest to the sun: the almost imperceptible
asteroids, which, on account of the solar splendour, can scarcely be
detected, and which, as yet, have received no baptismal names. Yonder
beams illuminate other revolving globes,--Mercury, Venus, the Earth.
If we here arrest our gaze, we are influenced by a vague and mournful
recollection; the Earth was our place of sojourn at an epoch when
thought, formerly shackled, had become free. It is thus that a seed,
removed from the stem which nourished it, wanders afar to diffuse
and perfect its species. Our planet, of an ochreous yellow, relieved
with green and white, possesses no special privileges; it shares in
the ponderated movements of the spheres; it is neither the largest,
nor the smallest, nor the heaviest, nor the lightest, nor the nearest
to, nor the farthest from, the sun. And shall Earth alone, of all the
planets, nourish that kind of "thinking seed" which we name the human
race? It seems improbable.

       *       *       *       *       *

But let us return to the great orb of light. It illuminates exactly
one half of our earth; the other half lies in shade. And as the earth
rotates upon its own axis, every point of its surface is necessarily
exposed to the action of the solar rays. This action varies in
duration and intensity.

All this I was taught, when I was still at school on our revolving
planet. I remember, too, as a lesson learned by heart, that, under
the Equator, or, more exactly, in 0° 0´ latitude, as well as at
the Poles, or under 90° latitude; the duration of the day is equal
to that of the night, with this difference, that, while under the
Equator, a day of twelve hours alternates invariably with a night
of the same duration, at the Poles a day of six months succeeds
continually to a night of six months. I also recollect that, at
a given moment, namely, at the spring and autumn equinoxes, the
duration of the day, over all the terrestrial surface, is equal to
that of the night, just as under the Equator; and that, after these
two epochs, under the intermediary latitudes, between the Equator
and the Poles, the length of the days and their corresponding nights
varies according to the seasons; that, in our northern hemisphere,
after the spring equinox, the days increase while the nights
diminish, to such an extent that, at the summer solstice,--21-22
June,--they attain their _maximum_ of length (and the nights their
_minimum_), the reverse taking place during the period that elapses
between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

I remember that I learned these data when I was living rooted to or
anchored upon the earth; but the explanation which my masters gave
me was not so clear as I could have wished. Their considerations on
the declensions of the sun, on the obliquity of the ecliptic, on the
necessity of exactly reducing the earth to a simple point in relation
to the distance of the stars, to the end that the phenomena occurring
(_rapportés_) on parallel planes would be nearly identical with those
observed from the centre of the globe, or from a point situated on
its surface; all these fine things, which demanded a certain faculty
of geometrical intuition, left a curious vagueness of idea upon my
mind. I accepted them, under the influence of authority, as beyond
discussion, but I was by no means satisfied whenever I wished to
ascertain their foundation.

       *       *       *       *       *

But now--in the regions of space--everything grows simple before the
mind, in which, apparently, all my power of thought is concentrated.

Behold the illuminated atmosphere; it reminds me vividly of the
disc of the full moon. Ah, what exquisite iris colours! They mark
the meeting-points of the bright with the obscured hemisphere: a
circular line carried through all these points would exactly separate
day and night. On the one side, motion and life and glow; on the
other, silence and shade and calm. This line _moves_, carrying
with it in its movement day and night, the illuminated and the
darkened hemisphere; it moves from east to west, so that the bright
hemisphere and the shadowy one, whose union forms what may be called
the _photo-adumbrated_ sphere, revolves, in four-and-twenty hours,
round an axis which coincides at this moment--the 21st day of March,
according to the "terrestrial worms,"--with the axis of the earth
rotating on itself in an inverse direction, that is to say, from west
to east. Let us note this coincidence: it is remarkable; inasmuch
as, at the equinoxes, the terrestrial equator divides exactly the
illuminated and the obscured hemisphere into two equal parts, one of
which is situated to the north, the other to the south, and their
line of separation coincides with a meridian circle.

       *       *       *       *       *

But I see another, and much slower movement, very clearly defined.
The axis of rotation of the _photo-adumbrated sphere_ does not remain
parallel with the terrestrial axis of rotation; it retires from it
little by little, so as to form with it an angle which attains its
maximum at the summer solstice (21-22 June); afterwards, returning
upon itself, it coincides anew with the terrestrial axis of rotation
(the autumn equinox), to make an angle in the contrary direction,
whose maximum, of the same value as the former, corresponds to the
winter solstice (21-22 December). This movement, which is annual,
complicates itself with the diurnal. It is rendered visible by
the displacement of the polar shroud of snow: the portion which,
at the moment of the spring equinox, belonged, in the northern
hemisphere, to the obscured hemisphere, moves onward, as a result
of the inclination of its axis, to become an integral part of the
illuminated hemisphere; while, at the same time, the portion which,
in the southern hemisphere, belonged to the illuminated hemisphere,
moves onward to become an integral part of the darkened hemisphere.
Owing to this displacement, the sun shows itself for six consecutive
months above the horizon, for the North Pole; at the spring equinox
it begins to rise, at the summer solstice it attains its maximum
elevation, and from the summer solstice it begins to decline. Thus,
then, we have in reality _a day six months long_, of which the
morning and the evening are the two equinoxes, its noon the summer

In the same periods an exactly opposite order of things prevails in
the southern hemisphere.

Everything, even to the minutest detail, is in this way very clearly
explained. Two facts--like the touches of a painter's brush--suffice
to impress the whole upon the mind, namely:--

      That, first, one half of the terrestrial surface is constantly
      illuminated by the sun, while the other half remains in darkness;

      That, secondly, the rotation of the earth upon its axis produces
      day and night, by carrying from east to west the illuminated
      hemisphere, always diametrically opposite to the darkened

This being thoroughly understood, let us place ourselves in the
equatorial plane, so as to embrace at a single glance a quarter of
the illuminated and a quarter of the darkened hemisphere. If the
equator of the photo-adumbrated sphere perpetually coincided with the
terrestrial equator,--if, in other words, the earth, in revolving
round the sun, invariably occupied the plane of the Equator, which,
when prolonged, would pass through the centre of the illuminating
orb,--the diurnal rotation would not cease to divide equally the
light and the darkness over the earth's surface, as is shown in Fig.
42 _a_, where S indicates the sun, EE the terrestrial equator, and
N S the extremities (or North and South Poles) of the axis which
divides the globe into an illuminated and a darkened half. This
phenomenon of coincidence exists; but only for a very brief period,
and is only repeated twice a year,--that is, at the equinoxes. At
all other times, the equator of the photo-adumbrated sphere, in
whose plane the orb of light is situated, passes sometimes above and
sometimes below the terrestrial equator.

[Illustration: FIG. 42.--S, the Sun; EE, the Equator; N, North Pole;
S, South Pole.]

But this alternate movement of northern and southern declination has
its limits; it stops at 23° 27' 30" on either side of the Equator;
this, too, is the maximum of the distance which the imaginary axis
of the photo-adumbrated sphere retires from the axis of terrestrial
rotation; it is at the same time the value of the obliquity of the
ecliptic, or of the inclined plane which the earth traverses in its
annual movement of revolution.

Fig. 42 _b_, which represents the photo-adumbrated sphere at the
summer solstice, will enable the reader to comprehend with the utmost
facility the six months' day of the North Pole, coinciding with the
six months' night of the South Pole; for the triangle N C D indicates
the amount by which the illuminated moiety increases in the northern
hemisphere between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, the
amount being equal to that by which the adumbrated moiety overspreads
in a contrary direction the South Pole in the southern hemisphere.
The superfluous quantity of the photo-adumbrated sphere is _nil_ at
the apex of the two opposite triangles, or in the equinoctial region.
And then, in effect, both day and night are always twelve hours
long. Starting from the equinoctial line, we see how easy it is to
calculate for each locality the variable dimensions of the arc which
the sun, in its apparent course, traces above the horizon.

       *       *       *       *       *

To see very distinctly the portion of the illuminated hemisphere,
which, passing beyond the North Pole, forms a luminous course on
the darkened moiety of our globe, I have but to place myself at
midnight, on the 21st of June, in the prolongation of the terrestrial
equator; in the same way, to see the corresponding portion of the
darkened hemisphere, which advances beyond the South Pole to invade
the illuminated, I have but to occupy at noon, on the 21st of June, a
point of the same equatorial prolongation. Six months later, the same
spectacle will be presented, inversely, on the 21st of December, in
the southern hemisphere. See Fig. 43 _a_, where the pole N indicates
the six months' day of the northern hemisphere (from the spring to
the autumn equinox); while in Fig. 43 _b_, the pole S indicates the
six months' night of the northern hemisphere (during the same period).

[Illustration: FIG. 43.--The Six Months' Day and Night.]

Now, no effort of the imagination is required to understand why the
inhabitants of the northern hemisphere enjoy summer while those of
the southern are enduring winter; why it is "blossoming spring"
to the former when it is "purple autumn" to the latter, and _vice
versâ_. Equally easy is it to comprehend why, after the equinox,
_day_, or the duration of the sun above the horizon, gradually
diminishes in one hemisphere and increases in the other; why, in
summer, and in both hemispheres, the longest days alternate with the
shortest nights, and in winter, the longest nights with the shortest
days. It will not be more difficult to explain the cause of the
prevailing cold in the polar zones, despite the prolonged sojourn of
the sun above the horizon for a great part of the year. Observe how
obliquely the solar rays are directed towards yonder shrouds of ice
and snow: how can they warm them? They nearly all vanish into space.
(See Fig. 42.)

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally, there is not a phenomenon, even to that of dawn and
twilight, which cannot, on these principles, be very fully and
clearly explained. I have indicated, in a preceding paragraph, the
rainbow-glories of colour noticeable on the line of demarcation
between the illuminated and the darkened hemispheres. They are
wanting where the rays of light strike vertically or nearly
vertically. It is this circumstance which explains why, in the
intertropical regions, the crepuscular phenomena are nearly null; why
the sun, so to speak, sets and rises abruptly, like a taper which
we extinguish or rekindle. These iris-gleams increase, on the other
hand, in intensity, in proportion as we recede from tropical regions:
the red touches the horizon, while the violet blends with the azure
of the sky; between these two extremes, which are always very clearly
marked, are arranged in less perceptible fashion, and in the order of
refraction, the other colours of the rainbow.

       *       *       *       *       *

What time and labour does it not require for the mind to disengage,
to free itself from the fetters and incumbrances of sensorial
appearances, the illusions of the senses, and to rise sufficiently
high to seize at a glance all the dynamics of the world!

It is this faculty, however, which distinguishes the intellect from
the imagination.

That he may abandon himself to the enjoyment of those pleasures
which, like Dead Sea apples, crumble to ashes on his lips, the
fool puts aside all mental toil, and disregards the shortness of
his time,--ignores the brief period allowed for the development
of the understanding. But, at least, let Imagination abstain
from substituting its idle dreams for the assured results which
can be only the reward of reason, conscientiousness, and labour!
Unfortunately, here as elsewhere, it is _vox clamantis_, and we
preach in the desert!


[Footnote 57: No one, I think, has ever before attempted to
reconcile, in this way, the two principal theories which have been
put forth on the propagation of light.]




                  "Now the shining meads
    Do boast the pansy, lily, and the rose,
    And every flower doth laugh as zephyr blows."



The Flower seems to have been created expressly to say to
men:--"Listen! Those things which most attract your glance are but
subordinate, and the principal escape you."

That the warning is true, all history attests. It is only, so to
speak, from yesterday that the discovery of the sex of plants is to
be dated; the tiny organs occupying the centre of the flower having
always appeared so insignificant that they had passed, for some
thousands of years, completely unnoticed. The eye of the spectator
was caught by the calyx and the corolla; these envelopes, though of
secondary importance so far as the reproduction of the vegetable is
concerned, seemed to eyes dazzled by their glowing colours the true
flower,--in fact, the _entire_ flower. Science, which is the slow
elaboration of thought matured by the study of objects of no human
origin, has completely swept aside this premature judgment.


We have already, and more than once, employed the word _perianth_[58]
to designate the calyx or corolla, whether taken separately or
together. In the former case, the _perianth_ is _simple_; in the
latter, it is _double_. A more appropriate word could not be made use
of. It is derived from the Greek πεσὶ, around, and ἃνθος,
flower; and literally signifies, "floral envelope." Simple or double,
this envelope is the metamorphosis of several leaves, never of a
solitary one, inserted upon planes so closely brought together that
they seem confounded. Observe, in fact, how the leaves tend to efface
their intervals on the blossom-bearing spray; they draw towards each
other, they are apparently in eager haste to accomplish their destined
transformation. What eloquence there is in this simple language of

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Calyx._--The outermost whorl, or verticle, of the flower is
called the _calyx_. And why? Out of a notion altogether incorrect.
It is true that this foliaceous envelope may often assume the shape
of a cup (in Latin, _calix_), and hence that the name has about it a
semi-poetical air. But this only occurs when the calyx is composed of
a _single_ leaf, which has procured for it the special designations
of _monosepalous_, _gamopetalous_, and _monophyllous_,--three
different words expressing one and the same thing! The violet and
the primrose are examples of a monophyllous, monosepalous, or
gamopetalous calyx.

I see, dear reader, that you are puzzled by the word _sepal_.
Certainly you would look for it in vain in any classical dictionary;
it is neither Greek nor Latin. It was only invented, scarce a century
ago, by a Swiss botanist, whose works have chiefly remained in
manuscript,--by Necker, brother of the celebrated minister of Louis
XVI., and uncle of the illustrious Madame de Staël. Let me explain
the circumstance which determined, I suspect, the choice of this
fanciful word,--a word belonging to no language but that of modern

The botanists of antiquity called the coloured leaflets of the
corolla, _petals_. In this they were doubly right; for, first, they
are, in reality, nothing but metamorphosed leaves; second, the word
_petal_ (in Greek, πέταλον) signified "a leaf" as early as the days
of Homer, who, when speaking of the nightingale, says, like a keen
observer of nature, that this bird, on the return of spring, sings--

    "Couched among the thick leaves of the grove."

    (Δενδρέων ἐν πετάλοισι καθεζομένη

The word _petal_ was preserved by Tournefort, handed down by Linnæus
and the two De Jussieus, and afterwards adopted by all botanists with
the signification given to it by the ancients. Now, as the calyx may
also consist of leaflets, which are generally green, Necker conceived
the idea of applying to them the same term, after substituting an
_s_ for the initial letter _p_. Thus was created the word _sepal_.
The innovation, I must point out, was not unanimously adopted. Many
botanists continued to use the words "calicinal leaflets," introduced
by Linnæus; others, though they adopted the innovation, protested
against it.

But leaving the _word_, let us return to the _thing_.

The calyx consists originally of several leaflets. Is the
monophyllous or monosepalous calyx a transformation due to the
junction of the primitive leaflets? Observation replies in the

In the formation of junctures or adhesions nature proceeds from
beneath to above. Our language proceeds inversely to nature: we speak
of a lobed, dentated, or partite calyx, as if it were primarily
monophyllous, and its more or less profound divisions (indicated
by the words "lobed," "dentated," "partite") were but consecutive
results, produced from above to below.

The truth is, that the calicinal divisions, which we call _lobes_,
_lacinias_, and the like, are but the tops of leaflets united
at their base. The monophyllous calyx (formed of one piece) is,
therefore, simply the result of a more or less complete union of the
leaflets composing, properly speaking, the calicinal whorl. This
whorl is originally _polyphyllous_; that is to say, formed of several
distinct parts. If it were, in the first place, _monophyllous_, it
would be impossible to understand how its divisions are made from top
to bottom, since nature, in its developments, proceeds from bottom
to top. In the final analysis, then, it is an error to consider the
calyx as a cup, primarily formed of a single piece.

       *       *       *       *       *

Grew, an English botanist of the eighteenth century, seems to have
been the first who made use of the word _calyx_. "I call a calyx,"
he says,[60] "the external portion of the flower, which enfolds
the others, whether it be all in one piece, as in the violets, or
divided, as in the roses."

       *       *       *       *       *

If we wish to conform to the truth, as brought before us by nature,
we must revolutionize our terminology. Instead of speaking of
bipartite, tripartite, quadripartite, or of bilobed and trilobed
calices,--terms all signifying that the monophyllous calyx is cloven
more or less deeply from top to bottom, we must say that the calyx
in such and such a species has its leaflets united at the base, or
one third, fourth, or half of its height; the _polyphyllous_ or
_polysepalous_ calyx will be that whose leaflets remain detached,
as was the case in the monophyllous or monosepalous calyx. This
language, recommended by the authority of Auguste Saint-Hilaire,
would be more precise and exact: therefore, it will not be very
quickly adopted. One would say that the human mind condemns itself
to pass through the purgatory of what is false and complex, before
resolving to adopt the simple and the true.

       *       *       *       *       *

If we admit the theory according to which all the organs of the
vegetable are the result of a metamorphosis of the leaf, we shall
ask what place is to be given to the calyx in the series of these
transformations?--Answer: The calyx is a foliaceous transformation,
intermediary between the bracts and the corolla.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is particularly in the study of the calyx that the attentive eye
is struck by those proteiform movements in which nature makes sport
of our absolute rules.

For example: in the _Berberis vulgaris_, the young calicinal
leaflets have less resemblance to the bracts than to the petals of
the corolla, and hence they have received the name of _petaloid
sepals_. In other flowers this morphogenic wavering inclines towards
the bracts rather than towards the corolla. We hesitate, therefore,
whether we must give the name of _calyx_ or _bracts_ to the three
under leaflets which are visible beneath the petaloid envelope of
the _Anemone nemorosa_, or wood anemone. The calyx of the Celandine
(_Ranunculus ficaria_), which also flowers in spring, is exactly like
a whorl or involucre formed by the union of the bracts.

A similar embarrassment takes place when the calyx, in its
metamorphosis, inclines too visibly in the direction of the corolla.
Thus, in the _Polygala vulgaris_,--a little, vivacious, and very
abundant plant,--the two inner leaflets of the calyx are not only
larger than the three other outer leaves, but they are coloured like
the petals, and become, towards the close of their flowering time,
membranous, herbaceous, and marked with three strong veins: they
resemble the wings of a butterfly, and have been called wings.

These peculiarities are useful in the distinction of certain species,
which, at bottom, are simply varieties. Thus, in the _Polygala
Austriaca_ (_Polygala amara_ of Keoch, _Polygala uliginosa_ of
Reichenbach),--a plant with small white or bluish leaves, which is
sometimes met with on the borders of peaty swamps,--the central vein
or ridge of the wings is simple, and never anastomoses with the
lateral veins; while, in the _Polygala vulgaris_, as well as in the
_Polygala depressa_ and _Polygala amarella_, the vein is ramified,
and anastomoses more or less widely with the laterals.

       *       *       *       *       *

But since we are upon this subject, why should we not seize the
opportunity of familiarising ourselves, under the form of a
digression, with the little family of the Polygalaceæ? But no; we
will adjourn the episode, since it would cut the thread of our
discourse upon the calyx, our _calicology_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some calices there are, which, by their colouring, approximate so
closely to the second floral envelope, that one is always tempted to
call them corollas.

Such are:--The red calyx of the fuchsia;

The yellow calyx of the furze (_Ulex Europæus_), and of a kind of
hellebore (_Helleborus hyemalis_);

The rosy calyx of the Christmas rose (_Helleborus niger_);

The blue calyx of the larkspur (_Delphinium Ajacis_); and the Napel
aconite (_Aconitum Napellus_).

In the _Aquilegia vulgaris_, and in the _Trollius Europæus_, the
calyx, by the form and colouring of its leaflets, is confounded with
the second whorl so completely, that Linnæus gave it the name of

Nevertheless, in the midst of these waverings, which lead us to
mistake the calicinal leaflets sometimes for bracts, sometimes for
petals, we recognise perfectly the foliaceous type. Independently
of its colour, which is generally green, the calyx has the same
organisation as the leaf; we find in it the same tracheæ and the
same stomata, the same glands and the same hairs; the veins and
ramifications are also the same; and, in more than one instance,
the calicinal leaflet resumes the character of a veritable leaf.
Look, for example, at the five leaflets, united so strongly at the
base but so free at the top, arranged in the form of a quincunx, of
the hundred-leaved rose. The two external, enlarged, and lanceolate
pieces are garnished on the right and left, and often at the point,
with tiny foliaceous appendages, which, in every respect, imitate the
composite leaf that carries the slender stem. And if we move aside
the external or bearded parts of the calyx, we see that the internal
bear less and less resemblance to a leaf. Thus, the part which
comes next is _semi-bearded_; that is to say, it is furnished with
foliaceous appendages only on one side; and the two upper pieces are
_beardless_, that is, reduced to the dilated central vein.

It was these metamorphic forms of the free portion of the calicinal
foliola (united below) of the rose, which originated a well-known
enigma, conveyed in the following Latin distich:--

    "Quique sumus fratres, unus barbatus et alter,
    Imberbes duo, sum semi-berbes duo, sum semi-berbes ego."

      ("We are brothers, both bearded, two beardless; I am two
      half-bearded, and I myself am half-bearded.")

They are specially noticeable in a variety of the Rose of Bengal, in
which all the petals seem to be transformed into calicinal leaves.
(Fig. 44.)

       *       *       *       *       *

The part of the calyx formed by the union of the sepals is called the
_tube_: it is invariably the lower part. The upper portion, where the
sepals are free, is the _limb_.

Throughout the vegetable kingdom you will not find a calyx in which
the union of the sepals takes place at the top.

This time, at all events, we have found--what is exclusively rare in
nature--a rule without an exception.

Generally, it is almost impossible to disunite, without rending, the
foliola composing the tube of the calyx, their union is so complete.
This circumstance prevented the first observers from accurately
apprehending the composition and true development of the calyx. There
are cases, nevertheless, in which Nature--the coquette!--suffers
herself to be surprised, if her lover have patience. As an example we
shall cite the monophyllous calyx of the Œnotheræ.

[Illustration: FIG. 44.--Rose of Bengal.]

Let us take the species known as _Œnothera biennis_. It belongs,
with the fuchsia, circæa, trapa, and others, to the Evening Primrose
family, or Onograceæ.

Its pale yellow blossoms are unfolded during the hush of evening-time
in almost every garden, shedding abroad on the breeze its delicate
but delicious odour. Its petals open in a remarkable manner. The
calyx, as we shall see, has small hooks attached to its upper
extremity, by which it holds the flower together before expansion.
The calicinal divisions gradually unfold at the lower part, and
reveal the yellow flower, which remains awhile closed at the upper
parts of the hooks. The flower then suddenly opens half-way, when it
stops; afterwards completing its expansion gradually, and finally
opening with a loud noise.

This curious plant is of American origin, and was unknown in
our country until 1674, when it was introduced by some French

It opens generally at about six or seven o'clock in the evening.

And this statement induces me to digress. Where can I better
introduce to the reader's notice a Floral Dial? It is not so complete
as it might be made if I had space to enlarge upon the subject. My
object, however, is simply to _suggest_; and this brief allusion to
the hours at which flowers fold and unfold may induce the reader to
study in more detail a very pleasant branch of botanical science. He
will find full particulars in Mr Loudon's excellent "Encyclopædia of

It is generally stated that the first Floral Dial, or clock, which
showed the time by the opening or shutting up of blossoms throughout
the day, was a fancy or invention of the great Swedish naturalist,
Linnæus. But there is a distinct allusion to this poetical
measurement of the "fleeting hours" in Marvell's poem on "The

    "How well the skilful gardener drew
    By flowers and herbs this dial new!
    Where, from above, the milder sun
    Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
    And, as it works, the industrious bee
    Computes its time as well as we.
    How could such sweet and wholesome hours
    Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?"

Whether the idea first occurred to Englishman or Swede, poet or
botanist, matters but little; it is a graceful, a suggestive, a
beautiful idea, and might well be reproduced in some of our large
public gardens.

    "'Twas a lovely thought to mark the hours,
      As they floated in light away,
    By the opening and the folding flowers,
      As they laugh to the summer's day.

    "Thus had each moment its own rich hue,
      And its graceful cup and bell,
    In whose coloured vase might sleep the dew,
      Like a pearl in an ocean shell."



                                                      Open.    Close.
                                                      H. M.     H. M.
                                                       P.M.      A.M.
    Goat's Beard (Lat. syn. _Tragopogon luteum_),      9.10       3.5
    Late-flowering Dandelion (_Leontodon serotinum_),  12.1       4.0
    Hawkweed (_Picris echioides_),                     12.0       4.5
    Alpine Hawk's-beard (_Crepis Alpina_),             12.0       4.5
    Wild Succory (_Cichorium intybus_),                 7.0       5.0
    Naked-stalked Poppy (_Papaver nudicaule_),          7.8       5.0
    Copper-coloured Day-lily (_Hemerocallis fulva_),  11.12       5.0
    Smooth Sow-thistle (_Sonchus lævis_),              12.0       5.0
    Blue-flowered Sow-thistle (_Sonchus Alpinus_),      4.5       5.6
    Field Bindweed (_Convolvulus arvensis_),           10.0       5.6
    Common Nipplewort (_Lapsana communis_),             4.5       6.7
    Spotted Cat's-ear (_Hypochæris maculata_),          5.0       7.0
    White Water-lily (_Nymphæa alba_),                 10.0       7.0
    Garden Lettuce (_Lactuca sativa_),                  3.4       7.0
    African Marigold (_Tagetes erecta_),                2.0       8.0
    Mouse-ear Hawkweed (_Hieracium piloscella_),        2.0       8.0
    Proliferous Pink (_Dianthus proliferus_),           1.0       8.0
    Field Marigold (_Calendula arvensis_),              3.0       9.0
    Purple Sandwort (_Arenaria purpurea_),              2.3      9.10
    Creeping Mallow (_Malva Caroliniana_),             12.1      9.10
    Chickweed (_Stellaria media_),                     9.10      9.10

After this long digression, we return to our Evening Primrose.

Its large yellow flowers are disposed in clusters at the top of a
stem often twenty inches long. The Pythagorean tetrad (_i.e._, the
number 4 and its double) predominates in all its organs: 4 stigmata
crowning a filiform stylus; quadrangular capsule with 4 polyspermous
lobes; opening at top by the separation of 4 valves; twice 4 stamens;
4 petals on a large, emarginated limb; 4 sepals. These are united at
the base, but not so as to prevent the observer from distinguishing
their number.

The general terms "regular" and "irregular," applied to the calyx,
as to every other organ, require to be employed with considerable
reserve. The delicate shades, which ought to separate regularity from
irregularity, are often so inappreciable that it is almost impossible
to say where one begins and the other ends. See, for example, the
Labiatæ. In most genera and species of this family, the two lips,
one of which consists of two and the other of three foliola, bring
out very completely the inequality of the calyx. But there are also
Labiatæ, the inequality of whose sepals completely effaces the
character of the irregular bilabiated calyx.

In certain inflorescences, where the flowers comprising them are
very close together, as, for example, in the capitules of the
Synantheraceæ, the free upper portions of the calyx may take the
most irregular forms; as, sometimes, a tuft, simple or feathery;
sometimes, membranous or scarious spangles; and, sometimes, bristles
of greater or less stiffness. What elements of the calyx do these
transformations represent? The veins, and notably the midrib of the
limb of the sepals, united underneath.

The free foliola of the _polyphyllous_ calyx may vary in form, like
the caulinary leaves whence they issue by way of metamorphosis; they
may be oval, elliptical, linear, &c. Yet none have ever been observed
of a heart-shape (_cordiform_).

Certain foliola of the polyphyllous calyx affect fantastic outlines.
In the _Delphinium_, the upper sepal is prolonged into a spur. In the
aconites it is hollow like a helmet. The spur of the calyx of the
monk's-hood (_Capucine_) is the result of the united prolongation of
these foliola. The buckler (_Scutellum_), from which is named the
_Scutellaria_, a genus of Labiatæ, is a demi-orbicular boss formed
below the inferior lip of the calyx.

       *       *       *       *       *

The union of the calicinal foliola sometimes forms a conical calyx,
as in the _Silena conica_, and sometimes a cup-shaped calyx, as
in the orange; sometimes, moreover, an urceolate calyx, as in the
henbane (_Hyosciamus niger_). These forms may vary singularly. The
calyx of the black alder (_Rhamnus frangula_) is shaped like a top;
that of the haricot (_Phaseolus vulgaris_), like a bell; that of the
tobacco-plant, or the _Mollucella spinosa_, is infundibuliform (or

[Illustration: FIG. 45.--The Henbane.]

The observer is sometimes embarrassed in deciding to which whorl he
should refer the foliola he is examining. Thus, the tiny foliola
which, in the strawberry and the potentilla, alternate with others
and larger ones, are stipules rather than sepals. Ought the sepals
of the calyx in the Malvaceæ to be assimilated in like manner to the
stipules? It is difficult to reply to this question satisfactorily.
Take, for example, the _Hibiscus Syriacus_, an ornamental shrub,
better known by the name of the garden-hemp. The inner calyx, or
calyx properly so called, of this Malvacea has five sepals, while
the outer calyx, or calicule, has twelve. Now, a leaf cannot have
more than two stipules, one on each side. For an outer calyx, then,
the proper number of foliola is ten, not twelve. To look upon the
second calyx as a "supernumerary development," would be to hazard a
supposition contrary to the unity of plan of the floral organs.

       *       *       *       *       *

The calyx, like the corolla, is not an absolutely indispensable
organ. Sometimes, therefore, it is _caducous_--that is, falls off
before the flower expands,--as in poppies; sometimes, _persistent_,
or remains after flowering,--as in roses and the majority of
plants. In some cases it is persistent only until after the act of
fecundation, but this act accomplished, it falls with the corolla in
most of the Cruciferæ and Ranunculaceæ. This is a _deciduous_ calyx.

The "caducity" and "persistency" of floral envelopes furnish some
valuable characteristics for the distinction of species. Thus, two
closely-allied Cruciferæ, the _Alyssum calicinum_, so common in
spring upon stony soils, and the _Alyssum montanum_, can only be
distinguished from one another by the fact that the calyx of the
former is persistent, of the latter caducous. It is true that the
flowers of the _Alyssum calicinum_ are of a yellow which easily
passes into white, while those of the _Alyssum montanum_ are of a
beautiful permanent yellow. But this latter distinction is not so
good as the former.

The persistent calyx sometimes assumes a considerable increase of
very common appearance. For example, take the _Physalis alkekengi_,
a member of the Nightshade family or Solanaceæ. The red bladder-like
accrescence surrounding the scarlet fruit is the calyx, which, after
flowering, has grown much larger than it was before. And these
bright flowers which resemble large strawberries, and abound on the
borders of meadow-paths, if you look at them closely, you find to be
the accrescent calices of the _Trifolium fragiferum_. The very word
_fragiferum_ reminds us of the strawberry.

The calyx may change in consistency and texture in proportion as
the ovary, to which it adheres, changes into fruit. The fleshy
pulpy substance of the apple, and, in general, of the fruits of
the Pomaceæ, is simply an excessive development of the calicinal
tube united all around the ovary, and recognisable in the pips,
imprisoned, towards the centre, in horny lobes. In other plants, as
the flower develops into fruit, the calyx becomes woody: such is the
case with the Water Chestnut (_Trappa natans_).

Finally, the calyx may even contribute to the dissemination of the
seed. We may cite, as an example, a Brazilian species of Urticaceæ,
which Saint-Hilaire named the _Elasticaria_. The fleshy and
cylindrical parts of the calyx are curved inwards, and thus defend,
as one might do with one's bended fingers, the young fruit until it
is completely developed; as soon as the fruit is ripe, they spring up
erect, and launch it to a distance.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Corolla._--If from the circumference we proceed to the centre
of the flower, the calyx being the first, the _corolla_ will be its
second envelope.

If, on the contrary, we proceed from the centre to the circumference,
the corolla will form the fourth whorl; the pistil (consisting of
stigmata, stylus, and ovary) being the first; the nectariferous
disc (often wanting) the second; and the stamens the third whorl.
Remarkable for its varied tints, the corolla, to indifferent or
ignorant eyes, seems the entire flower.

A black or blackish colour is exceedingly rare. Out of 300 vegetable
species which compose the flora of Central Europe, there are not six
with blackish or even grayish flowers. No hypothesis has yet been put
forward to explain this mark-worthy rarity.

Species with a yellow corolla are the most numerous, forming more
than a sixth of the European flora: then come, in their order of
frequency, species with green, white, red, and blue flowers; the
white increasing in number as we approach the Pole.

Dividing the flora into twenty parts, we may ascribe to each colour,
and its various tints, the following proportion:--

    Yellow,      6.0
    Green,       4.50
    White,       4.0
    Red,         3.50
    Blue,        1.50
    Black,       0.50

The analogy between the parts or _petals_ of the corolla and the
leaf, is perhaps not quite so striking as between the leaf and the
_sepals_ of the calyx. The phrase "rose-leaves" is an expression
consecrated by immemorial usage. Why not prefer the term "corollary
leaves or leaflets (_foliola_)" to that of petals?

The corollary leaves, or petals, are organised like true leaves.
They have the same system of venation; their _lamina_ correspond
to the "limb," or "blade;" and their _unguis_, or "claw," to the
"petiole," or stalk. (See Fig. 46, _a_.) The upper margin of petals
is frequently more obtuse than the overspreading margin of the blade
of a leaf, which, in most cases, is pointed. Non-_unguiculate_ petals
represent the _sessile_ leaves. (Fig. 46, _b_.) Their form is much
more varied than that of the calicinal foliola, which are never
unguiculate or petiolated.

[Illustration: FIG. 46, _a_.--Unguis of the Corolla.

FIG. 46, _b_.--A Sessile Petal.]

The petal is defined as _regular_ when its two halves, folded
one upon another at the midrib, exactly cover each other; in the
opposite case it is called _irregular_. In certain species, the
petals are furnished with characteristic appendages. But observe,
these appendages, which generally affect the form of a spur, have no
character of generality. Thus, for example, in the violet, a single
petal is prolonged into a spur below its point of attachment; in
larkspur, and the other _Delphiniums_, there are two which terminate
in the same manner; in the _Aquilegia vulgaris_, all the petals are
_calcarate_ (_calcar_, a spur).

According as the veins of the petal proceed in a straight or curved
direction, its limb may be flat, or concave, or hollowed like
a boat--_i.e._, _cymbiform_ (_cymba_, a boat), or _naviculate_
(_navis_, a ship), or like a spoon, _cochleariform_ (_cochleare_, a
spoon). When the spur is very short, as in Antirrhinum and Valerian,
the corolla or petal is termed _gibbous_ (_gibbus_, a swelling), or
_saccate_ at the base.

If a petal continue narrow, so as to seem formed by the prolongation
of the claw, it is called _linear_; if the limb be prolonged below,
so as to form two lobes, it is _cordate_, as in _Genista caudicans_;
or if the lobes be acute, it may be _sagittate_ or _hastate_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _number_ of petals varies from two to twelve, and more. A corolla
with a single petal, _unipetalous_, which we must not confound with
the _monopetalous_ corolla, is a monstrosity, created by defective
development; the other petals or foliola are abortive. A corolla with
two petals, or _dipetalous_, as in _Circæa Lutetiana_, is rare. A
_tripetalous_ corolla occurs only when the calyx has likewise three
foliola. But in this instance opinions are divided: the majority
will not admit more than a single floral envelope,--a perianth of
six foliola, of which three, herbaceous and internal, alternate with
three petaloid and external.

Many of our aquatic plants may be quoted as examples: such as the
_Butomus umbellatus_, or flowering rush; the little frog-bit, or
_Hydrocharis morsus ranæ_; and the water plantain, _Alisma plantago_.

The _tetrapetalous_ (or four-petalled) corolla is usually arranged
like a cross, and is much more frequent than the _dipetalous_ or
_tripetalous_; for examples, we need only refer to the large and
important family of the Cruciferæ.

The number five (_pentapetalous_) is still more common; but we meet
with it in other organs besides petals, and it seems particularly
characteristic of the vegetable kingdom.

Thus, all the Umbelliferæ have five sepals, five petals, and five
stamens; in all the Crassulaceæ, the number five applies, not only to
the sepals and the petals, as well as to the stamens, but also to the
carpels which compose the ovary.

Corollas with six, eight, nine, ten, or twelve petals are relatively
rarer; and when the petals become so numerous that we cannot count
them, we have to deal with transformations of stamens into petals,
with those monstrosities of cultivation which we call double flowers,
_flores pleni_, where all the male organs have disappeared,--flowers
wholly unfit for fructification.

The petals of the corolla are not always free. Like those of the
calyx, they may be attached to one another by their edges, but this
union invariably takes place, as in the former, from bottom to top.
Therefore, we never see any petals united at the top, and disengaged
at the bottom (see Fig. 47, _a_.) But the reader must take careful
note that this invariable characteristic is not peculiar only to the
floral envelopes; it is not met with in the stamens, for these may
be united, either by their anthers, as in the whole family of the
Synantheræ, or by their filaments, as in the Leguminosæ. And what
we have said of the stamens applies also to the parts constituting
the pistil. This radical difference between the perianth and the
true reproductive organs ought, from the beginning, to have fixed
the attention of botanists on the centripetal and centrifugal
metamorphosis of the leaf, which we have spoken of in "The Circle of
the Year."

[Illustration: FIG. 47, _a_.--Natural junction of Petal.]

[Illustration: FIG. 47, _b_.--Unnatural (and impossible) junction.]

       *       *       *       *       *

In many plants we are permitted to follow step by step, as it were,
the union of the petals, and their definitive transformation into
what is called the _monopetalous_ corolla. The term _monopetaloid_
ought then to be rejected, if we are to believe that the
_monopetalous_ corolla is the result of the metamorphosis of a
single leaf. The word _gamopetalous_, or, rather, _gamophyllous_,
is preferable. As we have remarked in reference to the calyx, we
shall here repeat that the expressions _bilobed_, _trilobed_,
_quadrilobed_, or _bipartite_, _tripartite_, _quadripartite_
corollas, are radically vicious, because they are the consequence of
a false point of view, according to which the _monopetalous_ corolla
will be simply a single metamorphosed leaf, susceptible of being more
or less deeply divided from top to bottom.

The polypetalous corolla, as well as the gamophyllous corolla,
may be regular or irregular, according as the foliola are equally
or unequally united. But here again we must be careful not to lay
down too absolute rules. Examine, for instance, the gamophyllous
corolla of the gentians; their two lobes are very unequal, and yet
the corolla is regular: five very large lobes alternate with five
very small, in such wise that each of the latter is situated between
two larger lobes. Each division of the corolla of the periwinkle is
irregular, and yet the aggregate of their divisions is regular: these
are all of the same form and the same size.

In the gamophyllous corolla we are able to discern, through the
different forms it assumes, the form of the parts which compose
the union. Thus, for example, the _tubulate_ corolla supposes the
pre-existence of unguiculate petals.

       *       *       *       *       *

Inequality of union produces the _bilabiate_ corolla, which is
invariably tubular. This is the case in the natural family of the
Labiatæ. The upper lip is composed of two petals, and the lower of
three. The parts of the upper are sometimes so closely joined that
they appear to be but one, as in the _Lamium_; and the lower often
becomes quadrilobed by the division of the middle petal, as in the

In the labiated corolla, the mouth of the tube is open, while in
the _personate_ or _masked_ (_persona_, a mask) it is closed by
the pressure of the lower lip against the upper; as in Snapdragon
and Frogsmouth, the projection of the lower lip being called the
_palate_. By this feature the family of the Scrophulariaceæ is
easily distinguished from that of the Labiatæ.

In some corollas, the two lips are hollowed out in a very singular
fashion, as in the Calceolaria; assuming a "slipper-like appearance,"
similar to what takes place in the labellum of certain orchids,--to
wit, the _Cypripedium_. These _calceolate_ (_calceolus_, a slipper)
corollas may be looked upon as consisting of two slipper-like lips.

       *       *       *       *       *

The forms of the bilabiate, tubular, and ligulose florets, of the
capitula of the Synantheræ, are likewise due to simple differences of
union. The floscular capitulum comprises the tubular florets, and the
semi-floscular capitulum, the ligulate florets; the radiate capitulum
consists of florets ligulate or bilabiate at the circumference, and
of tubular florets over the rest of the receptacle. By considering
the capitula, as the vulgar do, to be flowers, Tournefort introduced
considerable confusion into the nomenclature of the Synantheræ.


    "Dawn, gentle flower,
      From the morning earth!
    We will gaze and wonder
      At thy wondrous birth!

    "Bloom, gentle flower,
      Lover of the light,
    Sought by wind and shower,
      Fondled by the night!"[61]


[Illustration: FIG. 48.--"Rejoicing in the shade of over-arching

In your summer-walks, dear reader,--summer-walks through green lanes
rejoicing in the shade of over-arching elms, or along woodland
glades, carpeted with odorous turf,--you must frequently have met
with an herbaceous plant, whose purple-blue flowers, arranged in
regular succession, form the prettiest coloured cones imaginable at
the extremity of the stem and branches. To this plant, the self-heal,
we shall return immediately. Perhaps you have passed it by somewhat
indifferently, for we pay little heed to common things, and on the
threshold of woods, and in their winding avenues, the self-heal
is very common. The celebrated German botanist, Bock (or Tragus)
bestowed upon it, two centuries before the epoch of Linnæus, the name
of _Prunella vulgaris_. The specific appellation, _vulgaris_, is here
employed very appropriately, but we should commit a grave error if we
supposed every species qualified as _vulgaris_ to be "common." For
example, the _Lysimachia vulgaris_, a species of Primulaceæ, is far
from being found everywhere.

Pray, take the trouble to pick one lowly specimen; being specially
careful to take up the whole plant, stem, root, and branch. Lying
along the ground, it seems larger than it really is. Its root is
a creeper; at the level of the insection of the leaves some small
shoots project, the fibrous radicles which compel the lower part of
the stem to crawl like the bugle, _Ajuga reptans_.

Does the prunella belong to the family of Labiatæ, like the bugle?

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--The Prunella.]

See for yourself. The stem is quadrangular; the branches and leaves
composed of two lips. The stamens are four in number, two of which
are longer than the others; finally, by means of a lens, you can
easily distinguish, at the very bottom of the calyx, four tiny seeds
(a _tetrachænium_) grouped around the style. These features indicate
that our plant belongs, in effect, like the bugle, to the Labiatæ

But mark the difference. In the bugle, as in all the species of the same
genus (_Ajuga_), as well as in all the _Teucriums_--of which wild sage
(_Teucrium scorodonia_) is the most widely-diffused type--in all the
Labiatæ, the corolla is apparently _unilabiate_,--that is to say, the
upper lip is so shortened that only the lower is prominently visible.
This is not the case with our self-heal: it is distinctly bilabiate. The
upper lip of the corolla here forms a positive _hood_, sufficiently ample
to protect the didynamous stamens (two long and two short), as in Fig.
50, _a_; the lower lip is three-lobed, and the central lobe is largest of
the three. By separating the two lips, you can see the two short stamens
fixed to the base of the lower one, and the two long attached to the
central part of the upper. (See Fig. 50, _b_.)

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--The Lips of the _Prunella vulgaris_.]

Let us pursue the analysis of the flowery cone you hold in your hand.

The least practical eye is immediately struck by the arrangement of
the parts and the variety of the colours. To recognise these things
more thoroughly, please to cast your glances alternately from the top
to the base, and from the base to the apex of its terminal flower. A
little below the base you will see a pair of opposite, entire, and
sinuous leaves, with shorter stalks than any of the others. The base
is defined by two opposite, whitish, and nearly triangular leaves,
with green points. The top of the floral spike is likewise marked by
a couple of bracts; but these are much smaller, and red-coloured,
like the two leaves of the calyx. The interval is occupied by bracts,
which diminish in size from the base to the top of the spike; on a
level with each pair six flowers are inserted, three for each bract.

The flowers, thus arranged by whorls, present some interesting
peculiarities. The lower and upper show only their reddish calices;
the middle, for the most part, display both a calyx and a corolla,
varying from blue to pale-rose, which gives the plant a very peculiar
appearance. In the under flowers, the corolla has already fallen;
by separating the lips of the calyx, you may catch sight of the
tetrachænium, that is, the four-seeded fruit, which is developed at
the bottom of the tube. In the upper flowers, the corolla is not yet
expanded. It resembles a small deep-coloured globe; you may say an
eye, a bull's-eye, which, from the depths of the calyx, regards you
with a piercing glance. Hence, perhaps, the French name for this
plant, _prunelle_, an eye.

       *       *       *       *       *

We often meet with a variety of self-heal with a white corolla,
green calyx, and pinnatifid leaves, a variety of which some
botanists have erroneously made a separate species, under the name
of _Prunella alba_. It is equally wrong, in our opinion, to convert
the large-flowered variety into a distinct species, by taking as its
specific character the _lateral cleft of the upper lip of the calyx
overlapping the middle cleft_; for this same characteristic is found
in many individuals of the common species. The _dentiform appendage_
which the two longest stamens exhibit at the top of their filaments
is also an uncertain feature; you must have recourse to your
magnifying-glass to see if this appendage is _obtuse_ and very short,
as in the large-flowered prunella, or _sharp_, as in the common
species. As for the size of the corolla, it is, in fact, very marked;
but, as a characteristic, is wholly insufficient. The creation of the
varieties _Pinnatifida_, _Laciniifolia_, and _Integrifolia_ is no
better justified. For it is no rare thing to see on the same stalk,
at different heights, pinnatifid, whole, and laciniate leaves.

The prunella is remarkable for the long hairs which garnish the
calyx, and, principally, the edges of the bracts. Examined in the
microscope, they assume the form of tiny, pointed bamboos; the knots
bulge out a little, and the intervals are punctuated.

The botanists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are by no
means sparing in their eulogiums on the marvellous virtues of our
flower, which, by the way, Bock (Tragus) was the first to figure with
tolerable accuracy.[62]

Tournefort thus dwells upon its medicinal properties:--

"It forms an ingredient in arquebusade water and vulnerary potions.
It is ordered in possets and broths, in apozèmes for the spitting of
blood, dysentery, hæmorrhages, and the like. It has also been used
for ulcers in the mouth, and a remedy against headaches; after being
mixed with rose-oil and vinegar, the temples were bathed with it."

In the Pharmacopœia of to-day, however, it finds no place.


At the first glance, the Scutellaria has no resemblance to the
prunella. Yet the classificators have united these plants in one
small tribe, under the name of _Scutellarinaceæ_. These are the
characters which they give to them: Lower or anterior stamens longer
than the superior or posterior; calyx closed at maturity by the
approximation of the two lips. The latter character is not nearly so
marked in the prunella as in the scutellaria.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.--_Scutellaria galericulata._]

The two commonest species of scutellaria in England are the
_Scutellaria galericulata_ and _Scutellaria minor_. They do not
inhabit the same localities. The former, which is at the same time
the commonest, grows on the river-banks, and especially delights in
the mould accumulated in the hollow trunks of old willows. It is
easily known by its tender blue corolla, but especially by its calyx,
which, after the fall of the corolla, develops itself in a singular
manner. If you compress its sides, it will open so as to disclose,
at the bottom of its throat, its seeds, which are white, red, or
brown, according to their degrees of maturity. (Fig. 52, _a_.) Now
look at these two _jaws_: the upper resembles a small helmet (Lat.
_galericula_), or, if you prefer it, a judge's cap. As for the lower,
it has exactly the shape of a shield (Lat. _scutum_),--whence its
name, _scutellaria_. (Fig. 52, _b_.) Thus, the emblems of military
and judicial rank are found united in the calyx of our pretty labiate.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.--Calyx of the Scutellaria.]

The second species (_Scutellaria minor_), rarer than the former,
is met with on the banks of ponds and in damp woodland paths. It
attracts your gaze by its tiny caps or helmets: the moment you see
it, you exclaim, "That's a scutellaria!" More diminutive in all its
parts than its congener, it is also distinguished by its whole leaves
(they are crenelated or dentate in the _Scutellaria galericulata_),
by its soft, rose-hued corolla, with brown lips coquettishly pointed
with red, and by its hairy calyx.

The _Scutellaria Columnæ_[63] is very rare. It may be recognised
by its erect stems and flowers of a bright violet hue, arranged in
terminal spikes and garnished with bracts; while the flowers are
axillary, and form no spike, in the two species above described.

The _Scutellariæ_ were first described with accuracy and classified
by Linnæus, who included them among his _Didynamia_, a class of
vegetables distinguished by the unequal length of the stamens.


    "Ye field flowers! the gardens eclipse you, 'tis true;
    Yet, wildlings of nature, I dote upon you,
      For ye waft me to summers of old,
    When the earth beamed around me with fairy delight,
    And daisies and buttercups gladdened my sight,
      Like treasures of silver and gold.

    "Even now, what affections the violet awakes!
    What loved little islands, far seen in the lakes,
      Can the wild water-lily restore!
    What landscapes I read in the primrose's looks!
    What pictures of pebbles and minnowy brooks
      In the vetches that tangle the shore!"[64]

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--"A loved little island, far seen in the

"How beautiful," says Miss Pratt, in one of her agreeable little
books,[65]--"how beautiful are the little islands of the stream,
edged with the tall white meadow sweet, which sends its perfume
far up over the green lands that lie around, and contrasts with
the deep blue colour of the purple loose-strife! The willow herb,
or codlins-and-cream, as the children call it, grows in perfection
there; and there, too, bloom the little yellow water-flag, and the
vetches, and the rich water-lily, which, seated on its round leaf,
seems to swim over the crystal stream. The water-plantain, with its
numerous small pink blossoms, grows in thick clusters quite down in
the water, mingling with the white flowers and large spear-shaped
leaves of the arrow-head, or half shading the large cup of the
yellow water-lily. Then, too, the blue-eyed forget-me-not covers
the little isles in such abundance that many of them well deserve
the name of azure islands. The water-rat hides among the flowers,
nibbling with much glee at the arrow-head, or rushing out from under
its broad green leaves; and the water-fowl, followed by her young,
sails across the stream in all the stateliness of matron dignity;
and the little meek-eyed daisy grows beside the yellow velvet flower
of the silver-weed, or the blue blossoms and succulent leaves of the

The _true_ Forget-me-not, _Myosotis palustris_, is invariably found
in marshy localities or on the banks of streams; but the Meadow
Scorpion-grass, _Myosotis arvensis_, is frequently mistaken for it.
The "genuine article" has a bright blue blossom, much smaller than,
but in shape something resembling, the primrose; in its bract it has
a drop of gold, and on each segment of the coloured portion of the
flower is a small streak or fleck of white.

Both the true forget-me-not and the false belong to the Borage
family, or Boraginaceæ, which includes sixty-seven known genera, and
nearly nine hundred species.

It is said that after the battle of Waterloo, a remarkable number of
forget-me-nots sprung up all over the fatal field. The circumstance
might well be made the theme of a poet's lay, were it not for a
suspicion that the little blue flowers belonged to the _Myosotis
arvensis_ species, and not to the _Myosotis palustris_.

But why _Myosotis_? This Greek compound surely means "mouse-ear,"
and what have these plants to do with the auricular organs of mice?
Why, their leaves were supposed to resemble in form the ear of _Mus
domesticus_. The name of "scorpion-grass" originated in the fact that
the top of the stem coils round while the buds are unblown, like a
scorpion's tail. It is strange how quick the common people have been
to detect these analogies, and to perpetuate them in the appellations
they have bestowed on the flowers of the meadow, the wood, and the
green lane.

The singularly beautiful name of the _Myosotis palustris_--we mean
its common and non-scientific name,--is ascribed, in a well-known
German legend, to the dying knight who, having ventured at a
dangerous spot to pluck a handful of the bright blue blossoms for
his lady-love, fell into the stream, and as he sank, flung the
dear-bought spoil towards her, exclaiming, "Forget me not!"

A more probable origin is suggested by Miss Strickland. "Henry of
Lancaster (Henry IV.)," she says, "appears to have been the person
who gave it its emblematical and poetical meaning, by uniting it, at
the period of his exile, with the initial letters of his watchword,
_Souveigne vous de moi_; thus rendering it the symbol of remembrance,
and, like the subsequent fatal roses of York and Lancaster and
Stuart, the lily of Bourbon, and the violet of Napoleon, an
historical flower."

       *       *       *       *       *

We have said that the scorpion-grass belongs to the natural family
Boraginaceæ, which receives its name from the common borage, a bright
blue flower with very rough leaves. All its members are rough or
hairy, except those which, like the forget-me-not, become smooth
from living partly under water. The black stalks of the borage
burn, it is said, like match-paper, and its root enters largely
into the composition of rouge. Its flowers were at one time held
in great respect as a wholesome bitter ingredient for a tankard of
ale. According to Pliny, "if the leaves and flowers of the borage
be immersed in wine, and that wine drunken, the potion will make
men blithe and merry, and drive away all heavy sadness and dull

Burton, in his "Anatomy of Melancholy," also says of it--

    "Borage and hellebore fill two scenes,
    Sovereign plants to purge the veins
    Of melancholy, and cheer the heart
    Of those black fumes which make it smart."

Most of the Boraginaceæ are weeds, but they include a few ornamental
garden-flowers; as, for example, the Peruvian heliotrope--the
"cherry-pie" of the children--which is well known for the fragrance
of its blue blossoms. Its Greek name refers to an ancient belief
that it always "turned" to meet the sun; but neither heliotrope nor
sunflower exhibits any such devotedness towards the great "orb of
day." The poet's comparison--

    "As the sunflower turns to his God, when he sets,
    The same look that he turned when he rose"--

is very pretty and suggestive, but unfortunately it is not true.


Are we justified in classing these among our summer flowers? Well,
the lily of the valley may, perhaps, be more justly claimed by
Spring, as it generally unveils its beauty in the month of May; but
the water-lily belongs to Summer; and, at all events, it will be most
convenient to speak of them in this category.

The lily of the valley (_Convallaria majalis_),--the May-lily of
old writers,--has long been a favourite type of retiring modesty
and tender loveliness. It affects the silence and solitude of
the woodlands, where, in the shadow of broad leaves and sweeping
branches, the inquiring botanist discovers--

                      "Like detected light,
    Its little green-tipt lamps of white."

Shakspeare, who neglected nothing, refers to its gentle humility of

    "Shipwrecked upon a kingdom where no pity,
    No friends, no hope, no kindred weep for me;
    Almost no grave allowed me! like the lily
    That once was mistress of the field, and flourished,
    I'll hang my head and perish."

Our lily is a native of cold and temperate countries, and never
shakes its pendant bells at the bidding of a hot Eastern breeze.
It is very abundant in Norway. That agreeable writer and observant
traveller, Henry Inglis, says:--"It stood everywhere around, scenting
the air, and in such profusion, that it was scarcely possible to step
without bruising its tender stalks and blossoms. I have not seen this
flower mentioned in any enumeration of Norwegian plants, but it grows
in all the western parts of Norway in latitude 59° and 60°, wherever
the ground is free from forest, in greater abundance than any other

As it will not live in hot countries, it cannot be the "lily of
the field" which furnished our Saviour with so fruitful a text for
warning and instruction. This, in all probability, was the yellow
amaryllis, or _Amaryllis lutea_, a flower bearing some resemblance
to our yellow crocus, but much larger, and with broader leaves.
Its delicate blossoms escape from an undivided spathe, or sheath,
and are bell-shaped, with six clefts and six stamens, which are
alternately short and long. The flower seldom rises more than three
or four inches above the soil, accompanied by green leaves, which,
after the flowering has passed, continue to preserve their freshness
throughout the winter.

But some authorities are not content with the yellow amaryllis, and
put forth as the _true_ "lily of the field," either the narcissus, or
the golden lily, or the stately crinum, according to their several

       *       *       *       *       *

Not connected with these flowers by any botanical relationship, and
surpassing them all in beauty, is the _Water-lily_ (_Nymphæa alba_),
whose large round leaves and full white blossoms are the glory of so
many of our secluded lakes and quiet streams. Everybody knows old
Izaak Walton's quaint eulogium on the strawberry: "Doubtless God
_could_ have made a better fruit, but doubtless He never hath." In
like manner I am inclined to say: "Doubtless God might have created a
fairer flower, but doubtless He never hath." Alas! like most things
rare and beautiful, its existence is very brief! pluck it, and
straightway it vanishes,--like a poet's dream, the moment he attempts
to realise it.

It is sometimes asserted of our wild water-lily that it retires below
the surface of the stream shortly after noon, remaining in the liquid
depths during night, and rising again into the light of day at early
dawn. Those who are acquainted with the haunts and habits of these
beautiful flowers know that this is not strictly correct, as they may
often be seen, "by the pale moonlight," lying folded above the water.
It is not impossible, however, that _some_ may sink; and certain it
is, that as the sun sets they close their silver vases.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--"Brightened by the uplifted cups of our
delicate naiads."]

    "Broad-leaved are they, and their white canopies
    Are upward turned to catch the heaven's dew."

So says Keats; but this is true only while the sun is asserting
his supremacy in the azure sky. And then, the spectacle of a calm,
rush-fringed pool, nestling in the shadow of some ancient elms or
drooping willows, and brightened by the uplifted cups of our delicate
naiads, is a scene of surpassing beauty. We turn from this favourite
flower regretfully, "murmuring," as novelists say, Mrs Hemans's
graceful apostrophe:--

        "Oh! beautiful thou art,
    Thou sculpture-like and stately river queen,
    Crowning the depths as with the light serene
        Of a pure heart!

        "Bright lily of the wave!
    Rising in fearless grace with every swell,
    Thou seem'st as if a spirit meekly brave
        Dwelt in thy cell!"

Permit me, reader, another quotation. I take it from your and my
favourite, Wordsworth:--

    "Rapturously we gather flowery spoils
    From land and water; lilies of each hue,
    _Golden and white_, that float upon the waves,
    And court the wind."

The lily of golden hue, the _yellow water-lily_, is the _Nuphar
lutea_ of botanists. The country people, on account of its
peculiar scent, most unpoetically call it "brandy-bottle." It is
far more plentiful than the regal nymphæa; its flower is not so
full of petals; and it is by no means so handsome. Yet, with its
smooth, glossy leaves, and golden cups, and long floating stems,
it favourably attracts the eye. We are told that "its roots are
nutritious, and are frequently powdered and eaten for bread in
Sweden;" that, mixed with the bark of the Scotch fir, they form a
cake much relished by the Swedes; in which case the Swedish palate
certainly cannot be censured as fastidious. "These roots are also
burnt on the hearths of farmhouses, because their smoke is reputed
to drive away the crickets, whose chirping is sometimes too loud
and shrill to be deemed musical." Assuredly this is untrue of many
parts of England, as the cricket is popularly supposed to be "lucky,"
and no old country-wife would allow it to be driven away from her

The water-lily of the East, the beautiful Lotus,--the _Nelumbium
speciosum_, which is figured on so many Egyptian and Indian
monuments,--is rich in blue and red, as well as in white blossoms.
These are said to sink quite below the surface in the evening and
during the night shadows; whence Moore says of them, with his
artificial prettiness--

    "Those virgin lilies, all the night
      Bathing their beauties in the lake,
    That they may rise more fresh and bright
      When their beloved sun's awake."

It was formerly abundant on the Nile, and the Egyptians consecrated
it to their supreme god, Osiris; but, with the splendour and
mysticism of ancient Egypt, it has completely passed away.

But it is scarcely less prized by the Hindus, who have also
consecrated it to one of their deities. A traveller thus speaks of
the sacred Ganges in connexion with it:--"The rich and luxuriant
clusters of the lotus float in quick succession upon the silvery
current. Nor is it the sacred lotus alone which embellishes the
wavelets of the Ganges; large white, yellow, and scarlet flowers
pay an equal tribute; and the prows of the numerous native vessels
navigating the stream are garlanded by long wreaths of the most
brilliant daughters of the parterre. India may be called a paradise
of flowers: the most beautiful lilies grow spontaneously upon the
sandy shores of the rivers, and from every projecting cliff some
shrub dips its flowers in the waters below."

No reader of English poetry but is familiar with Tennyson's
"Lotus-Eaters"--a poem founded on the old myth of a people who lived
upon the insane root that takes the reason prisoner, and, beguiled
by its sweet intoxication, abandoned themselves to a state of dreamy

    "And round about the keel with faces pale,
    Dark faces, pale against that rosy flame,
    The mild-eyed, melancholy Lotus-eaters came.

    "Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
    Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
    To each, but whoso did receive of them,
    And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
    Far, far away did seem to mourn and rave
    On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
    His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
    And deep asleep he seemed, yet all awake,
    And music in his ears his beating heart did make.

    "They sat them down upon the yellow sand,
    Between the sun and moon upon the shore;
    And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland,
    Of wife, and child, and slave; but evermore
    Most weary seemed the sea, weary the oar,
    Weary the wandering fields of barren foam.
    Then some one said, 'We will return no more;'
    And all at once they sang, 'Our island home
    Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam.'"

But the lotus of poetry is not the _Nelumbium speciosum_. There
is some difficulty in identifying it with any modern plant; but
the general opinion seems to be, that it was the _Zizyphus lotus_,
a species allied to the _Zizyphus jujuba_, and included in the
Buckthorn family (_Rhamnaceæ_).

The reader will be by this time aware that of the plants called by
the general English name of "lily," some have very little kinship
to each other, and others none at all. The little garden flowers
named _Lilium_ (from the Celtic word _lis_, "whiteness") are mostly
very handsome. Ben Jonson, speaking of the ordinary lily, says, very

    "It is not growing like a tree
    In bulk, doth make man better be,
    Or standing long, an oak, three hundred year,
    To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear:
    A lily of a day
    Is fairer far in May,
    Although it fall and die that night,--
    It was the plant and flower of light."

The white garden-lily is a native of the Levant, but has become
thoroughly naturalised in England, and is one of the commonest but
most admired ornaments of our cottage-gardens. The old herbalists
thought highly of its medicinal properties, and pronounced it a
certain remedy for the bite of a serpent. It is true, at all events,
that its bruised petals are an excellent cure for any ordinary wound
or bruise.

Our ancestors, among their other superstitious fancies, entertained
the extraordinary belief that the price of a bushel of wheat in the
ensuing season was foretold by the number of white cups which crowned
the white lily's stem, each cup being estimated at one shilling. I
opine that our modern farmers would feel dissatisfied if the Mark
Lane averages were regulated by this simple standard.

The common Turk's-cap lily (_Lilium martagon_) is identified with
the ancient hyacinth, the "sanguine flower inscribed with woe." The
orange lily (_Lilium bulbiferum_) is a native of Southern Europe.
When the Dutch were at feud with the House of Orange, they were
accustomed to root up this flower from their gardens, as some solace
to their indignant feelings.

[Illustration: FIG. 55.--Lily of the Valley.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The garden lilies belong to the natural family of the _Liliaceæ_,
which includes the following sub-orders:--

1. _Tulipeæ_, tulip tribe; bulbous plants, with the segments of the
perianth scarcely adherent in a tube.

2. _Hemerocallideæ_, day-lily tribe; bulbous plants, with a tubular

3. _Scilleæ_, or _Alliæ_, squill or onion tribe; bulbous, with black
and brittle testa.

4. _Anthericeæ_ or _Asphodeleæ_, asphodel tribe; roots fascicled or
fibrous, leaves neither coriaceous nor permanent.

5. _Convollarieæ_, lily of the valley tribe; stem developed as a
rhizome or tuber.

6. _Asparageæ_, asparagus tribe; stem usually fully developed,
arborescent, branched in some cases, and leaves frequently permanent
and coriaceous.

7. _Alonieæ_, aloes tribe; stem usually developed, arborescent, with
succulent leaves.

8. _Aphyllantheæ_, grass-tree tribe; characterised by a rush-like
habit and membranous imbricated bracts.


Let me now direct your attention, reader, to a pretty plant, of very
elegant appearance: crowned, as it is, by a cluster of rosy flowers,
it would not disgrace our well-kept parterres. It is called the
common Centaury (_Erythræa centaurium_). You will never see it in the
fields side by side with the _Delphinium_; but in July and August
will meet with it frequently on the borders of woodland paths and
open glades.

Would you create for yourself by the study of nature a source
of enjoyment equally pure and inexhaustible, adopt a method of
classification for your own use, and, to facilitate you in the task,
take for your types those plants which are at once the commonest
and most characteristic of each season. Quite at your ease, you may
begin your analysis by examining the parts which, like the calyx
and the corolla, most attract your attention. The most rational
plan, however, would be, to commence with the seed, and to follow it
through all the wonderful phases of its life, from the development of
the embryo to the maturity of the fruit. Unfortunately, we are all
compelled to take time into account; time is so much more precious
than money,--it is the measurement of our existence. Undoubtedly, the
mind, with its gigantic strides, like those of an Homeric god, tends
to overleap the confines both of time and space. But the senses,
without whose co-operation the intellect could not create science,
never fail to remind us that we are, alas! but mortals. By this
incessant appeal to order, we are under the necessity of doing, not
what we _would_, but what we _can_. And the part we really play is,
consequently, much more modest than that which we love to imagine
ourselves as playing.

But to return to our flowers.

       *       *       *       *       *

What see you in the little centaury which you hold in your hand?
(Fig. 56.)

In the first place, a corolla with five petals of a delicate
rose-hue, very pleasant to the sight.

Take care! those foliola are not _petals_, if you give that name
to the free parts of the corolla. Look at them thoroughly. Your
foliola are prolonged at their base in a narrow tube, which is easily
removed. If you had begun here,--if, instead of proceeding from the
top to the bottom, you had, in your analysis, proceeded from the
bottom to the top, you would have acquired a wholly different view
of things. You would have said that the corolla is tubular, greenish,
with a rosy limb, deeply divided into five lobes. And in so doing,
you would have run no risk of deceiving yourself. The indications
given by Nature herself are the most precious; they are the lessons
of a teacher who cannot err: never pass them by with indifference or
neglect. In your study of the different parts of a vegetable, follow,
as far as possible, the actual movement of the sap.

[Illustration: FIG. 56.--The Common Centaury.]

The calyx of our gentian has, like its corolla, the form of a
five-divided tube; which, indeed, is one of the usual characters of
the Gentian family.

But it is important here to take notice of this fact, because it
is not, as at first sight you would suppose, the corolla, but the
calyx, which encircles the base of the ovary. The tube of the corolla
stops towards the middle of the latter organ, and nearly on a level
with the linear divisions of the calyx. You must be careful not to
confound with these calycine divisions the green foliola which lie
around the base of the flower, and which are neither more nor less
than abortive leaves.

Now call to mind that the flower is an union of concentric whorls,
or of rings set one within another. The _staminal_ whorl and the
_carpellary_ whorl, surrounded by a double perianth (corolla and
calyx), are here composed--the first, of five stamens, and the second
of a bilobed ovary, surmounted by a twisted style. We may now
examine more closely the reproductive organs.

The stamens are inserted upon the top of the tube of the corolla,
and if you look at the base of their filaments you would be inclined
to pronounce it a foliaceous expansion, or, rather, a metamorphic
doubling of the corolla. Suppose the stamens to be the result of the
transformation of the petals, the filament would be the "claw," and
the anther the "limb" of a foliole. At least, theory would tell you
so. But observation will show that these are not petals changing into
stamens, but, on the contrary, stamens changing into petals; as is
seen in the sterile (or "double") flowers of many of our ornamental
plants, and even of some of our fruit trees. How, then, shall we
conciliate theory with observation? Look, and you shall find.

       *       *       *       *       *

Observe the anthers which surmount the filaments. There is something
peculiarly characteristic in them. As they open and spread abroad
the pollen, they visibly coil themselves up in the form of a spiral.
(Fig. 58.) Owing to this twisting, they are found more or less
inclined upon their filaments, and are gifted with a considerable
mobility. Thoroughly to understand the relation between the
continuous anther and the filament, we must examine the stamens
before their expansion, while they are still folded up within the
floral bud, their matrix. The anthers are then quite straight, and,
with a magnifying-glass, you can easily see how they are inserted,
by the lower part of their back, upon the top of the filament, whose
(so-called) _connective_ prolongation separates the two lobes of
the pollen receptacle. The anthers are then _introrse_ (_introrsum_,
inwardly)--that is to say, their face being inclined inwards, they
look towards the centre of the flower, occupied by the style, a
filiform prolongation of the ovary; the apex of the style (stigma) is
thick, globulose, and of a glandular structure. The fruit, resulting
from the metamorphosis of the ovary, is an elongated fusiform
capsule, composed of two lobes, each containing a very large number
of extremely small seeds.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--Anthers of the Centaury.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The characters we have just enumerated apply, or the majority of
them, to the interesting family of the Gentianaceæ--a natural group
of plants, nearly all remarkable for their bitter, febrifugal,
and anti-scrofulous properties. The flowering cymes of the common
centaury are very frequently employed as a substitute for the
medicinal gentian, so well known as a valuable tonic.

The medicinal gentian is the _Gentiana lutea_,--a plant growing about
three feet high,--which thrives abundantly on the Pyrenees, and the
Alps of Switzerland and Austria, at an elevation of 3000 to 5000
feet. It is not, however, so common now as formerly on the Alpine
heights, owing probably to its great consumption, but it is spreading
into many districts of Central Europe.

Frequent enough in the vicinity of Paris is the _Chlora perforata_,
a gentian remarkable for its glaucous leaves and yellow terminal

The _Gentiana kurroo_ of the Himalayas, and the British species,
_Gentiana campestris_ and _Gentiana amarella_, possess the tonic
properties of the family. The _Cheritta_ of the pharmacopœia is
the herb and root of _Agathotes chirayta_ (_Ophelia chirata_), a
herbaceous plant which flourishes in the Himalayas.

       *       *       *       *       *

We must not omit a reference to a Lilliputian gentian, the _filiform
gentian_ of Linnæus, and the _Exacum filiforme_ or _Cicendia
filiformis_ of other botanical authorities.

Its stem, from two and a half to four inches in length, is
embellished with radical oblong leaves, disposed in fours, and short
caulinary leaves, opposite and linear; the corolla is yellow, the
calyx has four triangular lobes; the stamens also are four. It is
this predominant number which has induced some botanists to elevate
our little gentian into a species of _Exacum_ or _Cicendia_,--two
genera, of which the first was named by Adamson, the second by De
Candolle. As for the tiny _Gentiana pusilla_, or _Exacum pusillum_,
we may look upon it as a simple variety of the _Exacum filiforme_,
differing from the latter only in its shorter and feebler stem, in
the somewhat narrower divisions of its calyx, and the tint of its
corolla, which is of a paler yellow, sometimes inclining to rose.

Botanists, or lovers of flowers, may grow as passionately fond of
gentians as some persons do of tulips or hyacinths. But it is not
in England or Scotland, it is in the Alpine pastures of Switzerland
only, that you can hope to satisfy your _Gentianomania_.


Permit me, dear reader, to set down a few hints, in case you should
at any time be disposed to make a pilgrimage into the Golden Land, or
El Dorado, of botanists and geologists.

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--An Alpine Landscape.]

Before you plunge into the Alps, you will meet, in the sub-alpine
regions, among the valleys which intersect and the meadows which
clothe the lower spurs of the Jura, the _Gentiana campestris_. It is
a plant of from five to six inches in height, whose blue, five-lobed
corolla, with its velvety gorge, changes into yellow when dried; the
two outer teeth of the calyx are elliptical, and much larger than
the others. Your attention will hardly be drawn to this tiny gentian
among the crowd of more beautiful and attractive plants blooming
around it.

One excursion which you should not fail to make is the ascent
of the Dent de Jaman,--the hieroglyphic summit of one of those
charming mountains which mirror themselves in the Lake of Geneva.
This classical, and, moreover, very easy ascent, has the advantage
of carrying you up a series of terraces, so that the character of
the vegetation changes rapidly. The acclivity begins at the little
town of Montreux, situated near the point where the blue arrowy
Rhone pours its waters into the enchanted lake. From Montreux to
the village of Glion, you will be delighted to greet your old
acquaintances: the familiar faces of your native fields, meadows, and
woodlands. But soon a difference in the character of the flora forces
itself upon you. Species which are rarer at home become tolerably
common, as, for instance, the yellow digitalis (_Digitalis lutea_),
so easily recognised by its cymes of tiny flowers. The vulneraria
(_Anthyllis vulneraria_) is as widely diffused as the trefoil in our
English pastures.

       *       *       *       *       *

A little above Glion,--a picturesque village apparently hung over the
lake--the _sub-alpine region_ commences. Around villas and mansions,
nearly all inhabited by English families, you will find in abundance
the English mercury (_Chenopodium Bonus Henricus_), and in the shady
hedges the narcotic Herb-Paris (_Paris quadrifolia_).

The apparition of the _Astrantia major_, which resembles an
artificial or fancy-created flower, warns us that we are passing
beyond the limits of the ordinary flora. I believe that we have no
representative in England of that singular umbellifer. The Alpine
pastures of the narrow-ridged Mount Caü, which resembles the back
of a dromedary, exhale a fragrance like that of the famous Swiss
tea, so much extolled as a remedy against cholera. The odour of the
hay-lofts attached to the châlets--true shepherd's huts--which rise
at intervals along the back of Mont Dromedary, is so penetrating
as to produce headache. The hay owes its aromatic fragrance to the
musk-chervil (_Myrrhis odorata_), whose strong stems form such thick
luxuriant pasturages; to various orchideæ, particularly to the
_Nigritella suaveolens_, remarkable for the intense colour--nearly
black--of its flowers; and finally, to the gentians, whose scent is
strongly brought out by drying.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rich close sward which borders on the Dent de Jaman provides
the herboriser with more than one agreeable surprise. You will be
struck by the beauty of the flowery tufts of the _Linaria Alpina_,
rejoicing in a deep sapphire blue. You will also have an opportunity
of making acquaintance with a campanula which is abundant on Mont
Cenis (_Campanula Cœnisia_); its beautiful terminal flower, of a
pale blue, is characterised by the long hairs which line the opening
of the corolla.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the gentians, those great ornaments of the Alpine pasturages,
we shall direct the attention of our readers to--

The purple gentian (_Gentiana purpurea_), and the spotted gentian
(_Gentiana punctata_). These are distinguished by their plentiful
appearance: their large oval leaves, and the height of their vigorous
stems, recall those of the yellow gentian. The features which
separate these two species are not very distinct: the corolla of the
former is purple without and yellow within; that of the latter is of
a bright yellow, marked by spots of deep purple, which, however, are
not permanent; the calyx is campanulated, with upright and lanceolate

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Gentiana acaulis_ contrasts singularly with the preceding
species, its stem being so short that one is almost tempted to deny
the existence of any; its large corollas, of a bright celestial blue,
lie on the ground as if they had fallen fresh from a bouquet. We must
not confound this species with the _Gentiana pumila_, a much smaller
plant, with a very elongated calyx, which grows abundantly on the
turf of Mont St Bernard.

The _Gentiana verna_ and the _Gentiana nivalis_, with a corolla of
the finest azure, inhabit the loftiest points of the Alps, where all
vegetation begins to disappear. The former, or the gentian of spring,
flowers, in these frozen regions, in June and July; it is one of
twenty-four phanerogamous plants of the last vegetable station of
Mont Blanc. This station is formed by a series of vertical layers of
protogene, which separates the upper part of the Glacier des Bossons
from that of Taconay. The débris of the rock, decomposed under the
influence of atmospheric agencies, form, in the midst of the _nevé_,
tiny flowering parterres--oases in the desert, islands in the vast
ocean of ice and snow. There, sheltered by the rocks, and warmed by
the sun, and refreshed by the snow, which rapidly melts in summer,
these pretty plants thrive and grow beautiful, though their brief
existence is summed up in a few short weeks.

According to Charles Martins, the phanerogamous plants which flourish
at an elevation of 10,000 feet are the following:--

      _Mean temperature, 47° to 36°._

    1. Gentiana verna.
    2. Silena acaulis.
    3. Draba frigida.[66]
    4. Draba fladnizensis.
    5. Cardamine bellidifolia.
    6. Cardamine resedifolia.
    7. Potentilla frigida.
    8. Phyteuma hemisphericum.
    9. Pyrethrum Alpinum.
    10. Erigeron uniflorum.
    11. Saxifraga bryoides.
    12. Saxifraga Groenlandica.
    13. Saxifraga muscoides.
    14. Saxifraga oppositifolia.
    15. Androsace Helvetica.
    16. Androsace pubescens.
    17. Lazula spicata.
    18. Festuca Halleri.
    19. Poa laxa.[67]
    20. Poa cæsia.
    21. Poa Alpina.
    22. Trisetum subspicatum.
    23. Agrostis rupestris.
    24. Carex nigra (Cariceæ).


Accompany me to the corn-field; not for any discourse upon the state
and prospect of the crops, or on the comparative value to man of
wheat or barley, but for the sake of the little red flower which
shines like a star among the growing harvest.

You cannot mistake it, for, with the exception of the tiny
chaff-weed, the smallest wild plant which bears a distinct flower,
it is the only scarlet blossom in the wheat-field, except, indeed,
the red poppy, which every good farmer seeks to banish from his land.
Mark me,--I say the only _scarlet_ flower; for there are several--as,
for instance, the pheasant's eye, or Adonis--of a deep crimson.

The pimpernel belongs to the Primrose family, or Primulaceæ. It has
a five-cleft calyx, and a monopetalous corolla. Its stamens, of an
equal number, are inserted on the corolla, opposite its segments.
It is a _meteoric_ flower; so-called, because it keeps itself shut
during wet or cloudy weather. Hence, it is known among country people
as "the shepherd's warning" or "poor man's weather-glass." And
Darwin, enumerating the various signs of rain, says of it--

    "Closed is the pink-eyed pimpernel;
    In fiery red the sun doth rise,
    Then wades through clouds to mount the skies:
    'Twill surely rain, we see 't with sorrow;
    No working in the fields to-morrow."

It should be added, however, that if the rain continue for several
days, the pimpernel will lose its sensibility, and cease to act as a
natural weather-glass.

And here we may observe, that singular as is the habit of the flowers
anticipating rain by folding their petals within their calices,
the way which the Siberian sow-thistle has with it is still more
curious. This plant, during that clear weather which most flowers
affect, keeps entirely shut; but as soon as a thick mist overspreads
the earth, or a cloud obscures the bright face of heaven, it begins
to open its light blue corolla.

Everybody knows, or should know, that when the robin looks sad and
drooping, and ceases to greet you with his wonted blithesome strain,
"foul weather" is at hand. Many animals, by their peculiar habits,
afford equally certain indications of approaching atmospheric changes.

This does not seem strange to us; we account for it by the instinct
which every animal possesses, in a larger or smaller degree. But the
same anticipatory faculty is possessed by several plants; they feel
the increasing moisture of the air long before it can be detected by
ourselves. Thus, when a storm is at hand, some species of anemones
fold up their blossoms; the fragrant flowers of the wild pink
convolvulus wind themselves together; the awns of the wild oat, and
the sweet-scented meadow-grass, stand in an erect position, and the
clover leaves are drawn closely up.

Naturalists, says Pratt, are unable to discover why some plants
should be affected by moisture and others not; but the regular
changes of these natural barometers seem a providential arrangement
to supply certain wants of the flowers in which they occur. We may
draw this inference from the different positions of several flowers
according to their circumstances. Thus the poppy, when in bud, hangs
down on its stem, and preserves its petals from rain and wind; but
as soon as it is fully developed, and has acquired strength, and
the sun's rays are necessary to perfect its colours, it expands to
the full light of day. The violet, again, while its seed is forming,
shades the capsule by its purple corolla; but as soon as the seeds
are ripe, and they are required to spring to some distance from
their capsules, the flower immediately rises up with the cup for
its support, and flings abroad its offering on the earth's maternal
bosom. Adaptations of this kind are frequent and striking in the
vegetable kingdom, and surely one is justified in regarding them as
the work of an all-powerful and all-wise Creative Mind. Look, for
instance, at the orchis: it grows on the ground in Europe, and is
consequently provided with roots formed of large lobes; but when it
festoons the pillar of the virgin forests of the New World, its roots
are formed of a number of fibres, so that they may penetrate the bark
of the tree.

But to return to our pimpernel. It was at one time called
_Centunculus_, from _cento_, a covering, because it spread in
such abundance over the cultivated fields. Its botanical name was
afterwards changed to _Anagallis arvensis_. _Anagallis_ signifies
"to laugh," and there existed an old belief that a decoction of the
pimpernel acted as a remedy against melancholy, and a provocative of

The seeds of this plant are very numerous. They are enclosed in small
capsules, and eaten by the birds.

There is only one other _British_ species of pimpernel, the
_Anagallis linetta_, or bog pimpernel, which it would be unpardonable
if the botanist omitted to notice, so delicately beautiful are
its pale-rose blossoms and tiny clusters of leaves. As its name
indicates, it is found only in marshy localities.

The blue pimpernel (_Anagallis cerulea_), though not a native of
England, is found occasionally. It is described as growing in
beautiful little tufts about the hills of Madeira, and enlivening
them by its cheerful colour, which may bear comparison with the azure
of the sky.

[Illustration: FIG. 60.--"The Wheat-field, with its mass of emerald

And here we will take leave of the wheat-field, with its mass of
emerald waves, now beginning to wear a golden glory on their crests,
as they ripple in the genial sunshine.


_The Mole, the Staphylinus, and the Mole-Cricket._

Do you hear that noise? It seems to issue from beneath yonder heap of
pebbles at the foot of the garden-wall. Surely the stones are moving;
they seem to be walking alone, and of their own impulse, for I cannot
see anything to set them in motion.

Let us draw near and examine the mystery. "Ah, what a hideous black
creature!" It is retreating in a terrible state of alarm, as if it
felt itself pursued by some formidable enemy.

This "hideous creature" is known to French gardeners by the name of
_courtilière_; to naturalists, as a species of _Staphylinus_. (Fig.
61.) Its great and persistent adversary is the mole: a mammal at war
with an insect!

[Illustration: FIG. 61.--The _Staphylinus olens_.]

Watch well, I pray you, the mole's movements, which you can do
the more easily that here, contrary to his ordinary custom, he is
wandering in the open day; the light blinds him,--accustomed as he
is to pass his life in the subterranean galleries which he excavates
by his own labour. But if he does not see us, he hears us; the sound
of our footsteps was sufficient to make him prick up his ears (if
we may so speak of a mole), and he remains motionless. Do not stir,
or he will betake himself to flight, and we shall lose an excellent
opportunity of being present at a very curious spectacle.

He is now reassured. He recommences his manœuvres, pushing before
him every little pebble which he meets with. For this purpose
he employs his elongated snout, exactly as a pig grubs among
the uncleanness of his sty. But his next movements are not of a
porcine character. With feet broad as battledores, the mole, while
manœuvring with his nose, quietly pushes aside every clod which
threatens to obstruct his progress. These sidelong, abrupt, and
jerking movements remind you of those of a dog, seeking with his
paws to enlarge the opening of the burrow wherein a rabbit has
taken refuge. The mole has thus the habit of a hunting-dog; and, to
complete the resemblance, he stops at intervals in his scratching,
and shakes the dust off his head. One is quite surprised to see
a little mammal executing the movements we are wont to regard as
peculiar to an animal much larger than he is.

       *       *       *       *       *

The beetle quits in affright the heap of stones where it had hoped to
find an asylum; it now crosses our path, holding itself erect, with a
menacing air, and its tail armed with a forked barb. The mole follows
in close pursuit: who would have believed he could run so quickly?
Let us bar his passage, and study him at our leisure.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first thing we remark is his glossy hair, which is softer to the
touch than the finest velvet. Where are his eyes? Blow aside the hair
which covers his face. There they are, and they resemble miniature
pearls of a shining black.

How could Aristotle say that the mole had no eyes? To believe it
you must read the assertion for yourself. And here are the very
words of the authority who, for so many centuries, was accepted as

"All viviparous animals have eyes, _except the mole_" (πλὴν

Then, as if a sudden doubt had seized him, and he were frightened
at his own statement, the illustrious Stagyrite hastens to add: "We
might, perhaps, strictly admit that he has." But another change comes
over the spirit of the philosopher's dream; his hesitation vanishes,
and he immediately repeats and justifies his former assertion in
these terms:--

"But, carefully considered, the mole does _not see_, because he has
no apparent eyes externally" (ὅλως μὲν γὰρ οὔθ' ὁρᾷ,
οὔτ' ἔχει εἰς τὸ φανερὸν δήλους

These last words denote--I beg pardon of the manes of a great
philosopher--an absolute want of observation. Evidently, Aristotle
had not taken the trouble to _look_ before he made his statement. And
do not think that this curious indifference was peculiar to the great
master of the Peripatetic School; it characterises more or less all
the philosophers of antiquity, as well as too many who have followed
in their footsteps.

Pliny has simply translated Aristotle when he says:--"Among
quadrupeds the moles are wanting in the sense of sight" (_quadrupedum
talpis visus non est_).[69]

But it is a curious thing that both Aristotle and Pliny maintain,
that if you lift up the skin where the eyes _ought_ to be, you will
perceive the organs of vision. How could they remove the skin without
distinguishing in it the eyes, like black and brilliant beads? Did
they practise anatomy, like their own imaginary mole, without eyes?
The whole matter would be inexplicable if we did not take into
account that force of inertia which binds man in chains of iron, in
the moral world as well as in the physical.

To see, to observe; to retrace one's steps, that one may see and
observe more distinctly; is a labour repugnant to the human mind.
To create systems, in order that he may proclaim himself a great
doctrinal teacher, is the work which flatters man, or the creative
power of his imagination. Centuries of effort are needed before he
can disentangle himself from his self-woven thrall in presence of the
phenomena of nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

A striking peculiarity in the mole's structure is his hands, or
feet, with their five fingers, or toes, turned outward, and their
curious resemblance to the human hand. Few animals exhibit a similar
conformation. Everything in the structure of the fore-limbs indicates
the animal's burrowing instinct,--the length of the bone, which
corresponds to the human _radius_, or fore-arm,--the breadth of the
hands,--and the bend of the arms, which are so fashioned that the
elbows project outwardly.

Does the mole's burrowing instinct lead it in quest of insects or of
vegetable roots?

According to the old traditional belief, the mole feeds upon
roots. From time immemorial, it has been looked upon as an animal
so destructive, that, in every country, its destruction has been
encouraged by large rewards. Well, this belief, transmitted from
generation to generation, owes, like so many other traditions, its
authority to its antiquity, and is devoid of foundation.

The mole is an essentially carnivorous animal, and no more lives
upon roots than the dog or the cat. He is pre-eminently the hunter
of the white-worm and beetle; and therefore, instead of vowing its
extermination, we ought to take every possible means to preserve and
multiply his race. These absurd traditions and credulous notions,
wholly without any experimental confirmation, frequently lead us to
take steps in diametrical opposition to our own interests.

Moles are particularly partial to meadows which are somewhat damp,
as, for instance, those where the leafless colchicum displays, in
autumn, its pale-rose flowers. In summer, the fields are covered
with mole-hills. It will be said, perhaps, that these conical heaps
of earth are injurious to vegetation. But that will be an error,
contradicted by observation. Meadows besprinkled with mole-hills
grow excellent hay, if care be taken to level them; for the earth
thus distributed serves as manure. If they are visited by the moles,
it is because these animals find there a plentiful supply of the
_rhizophagous_ (root-eating) insects, on which they feed.

The forest is also a favourite haunt of the moles. Apparently they
find, under the layers of leaves and roots, so rich in larvæ of
every kind, the wherewithal to satisfy amply their insectivorous
tastes. It is the mole which generally produces that rustling of
the dry leaves the wanderer is so apt to attribute to a snake or an
adder. Stand still for a moment, and patiently watch. Do you see that
undulatory movement? Thrust your stick rapidly into the uplifted
heap. There is our persevering hunter; he struggles hard to escape
from his terrible enemy, but, with a little alacrity, you will not
find it difficult to capture him.

Moles are among the most prolific of mammals; and, in fact, were it
not so, their race would have been long ago exterminated. We may,
perhaps, venture to say, that by multiplying so prodigiously, they
wish to do us a service in spite of ourselves. How tender is the
solicitude of nature for the ungrateful human species!

To see the marvellous qualities ascribed to the mole by the ancients,
one would suppose that they had made him the object of their special
study. Yet, as we have shown, they could never have watched his
habits with any degree of patience. They saw everything through the
delusive prism of their imagination. As a proof, we will tell you
what they said of the mole.

"Since this animal has been doomed to a perpetual blindness, and
lives interred beneath the surface of the earth, like the dead, he
possesses, by way of compensation, some extraordinary qualities.
His subterranean existence renders him, of all animals, the most
capable of religion (_nullum religionis capacius animal_). To acquire
the gift of second-sight, you must eat the heart of a mole, while
still beating, and freshly plucked from the animal's body. To cure
toothache, suspend to your neck the tooth of a live mole. Lymphatic
people will gain in strength if sprinkled with a mole's blood. The
ashes of a mole are a sovereign remedy for scrofula; some recommend
for this disease the animal's liver, others the right foot, and
others the head. The earth of mole-hills, fashioned into pastilles,
and preserved in a tin box, is an excellent cure for all kinds of
tumours, and especially for abscesses on the neck."[70]

Such, according to Pliny's report, are the virtues of the mole, as
taught by the Magi. The Middle Ages adopted this teaching, and even
to-day, in obscure rural districts, you will meet with superstitious
notions which remind you of the ideas of the ancient wise men and
necromancers of antiquity.

We have thus summarised the natural history of our _hunter_, let us
now say a few words respecting the _game_ he pursues.

       *       *       *       *       *

The insect before us is the _Staphylinus olens_. Its study has been
much neglected, probably on account of its repulsive appearance.
But, conquering our repugnance, let us take the creature between
our forefinger and thumb. See how vigorously it defends itself! Its
forked appendage is not formidable, it is too soft; but take care of
its mandibles! With these hard, horny, pointed pincers, it pricks the
skin and draws blood. Now, bring your nose close to the frightful
black insect at the very moment when it appears the most irritated.
Come! A little courage will conquer your new feeling of disgust.

What do you smell?

A pleasant odour of rennet apples! It reminds me of that diffused
by another insect, much less ugly than your _Staphylinus_, the
_Cicondela campestris_.

It is this peculiarity which explains the specific name of
"odorous" (_olens_) given to your captive. As for its generic name,
_Staphylinus_, I have no means of interpreting its etymology; for the
insect's shape has no resemblance to that of a bunch or cluster,--in
Greek, ςταφυλή. But this last word also signifies the _uvula_, and,
perhaps, by the effort of a little imagination, the naturalist may
trace a similitude between that organ of the throat and the body of
the _Staphylinus_.

The _Staphylini_ are characterised by a very narrow neck, which
separates, as by a kind of web, the head from the thorax. In
diffusing the peculiar odour of which we have just spoken, they
simultaneously eject a musky volatile liquid contained in two
retractile whitish bladders, situated near the anus. They run
quickly, elevating their abdomen like the earwig. The antennæ,
inserted in the rear of the strong mandibles, are each composed
of eleven articulations, of which the first is the longest; these
joints, rounded in form, are arranged like the beads of a necklace.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Staphylini belong to that numerous section of insects whose
_tarsi_ are composed of five articulations, and which have thence
received the name of Pentaceii.

In this section they form, with some other genera, the family of
_Brachelytræ_, so called because their elytra, or wing-sheaths, are
much shorter than the abdomen.

Our _Staphylinus olens_ is finely punctuated, somewhat hairy, and
of a dull black colour. Though very common in our gardens, and
wherever any putrefying substances are to be found, its habits
are not very well known. For if it were generally understood that
it is an essentially carnivorous animal, that it carries on a
determined warfare against the caterpillar, larvæ, and especially the
white-worm, far from seeking to destroy it, men would surely attempt
to increase its numbers. It is a proof that the Staphylini are useful
insects, that they are rare in seasons when the white-worms abound,
as was the case, for example, in the years 1867 and 1868. The larva
of the Staphylinus is as carnivorous as the perfect insect, which it
likewise resembles in form.

To sum up: in every phase of their existence, the Staphylini render
immense services to the agriculturist. It is very desirable that
this fact should be generally recognised, and their rehabilitation
generally proclaimed.


The habits of the mole-cricket are nearly the same as those of the
mole. When winter approaches, it takes refuge underneath the surface
of the earth, and remains benumbed and lethargic in its nest so long
as the cold lasts. On the welcome return of spring, it makes its way
back to the light by a vertical gallery, on which a great number of
lateral galleries abut, the said lateral galleries being the roads
it travels in pursuit of its prey. This subterranean work it executes
with its strong fore-feet, which are broad, and unguiculated, or
indented, much like those of a mole. Hence its popular name of the
_mole-cricket_ (Fig. 62, _a_).

[Illustration: FIG. 62.]

These insects (of the _Orthoptera_ order) belong to the small family
of the crickets--a family closely akin to that of the grasshoppers.
This close kinship has been recognised by the poets, and we find
them brought together in a very charming sonnet, which cannot be
too frequently perused by any reader, and which may therefore be
introduced as a relief to our duller prose:--

    "Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
      Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
      Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon,
    When even the bees lag at the summoning brass;
    And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
      With those who think the candles come too soon,
      Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
    Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;
    Oh, sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
      One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
    Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong
      At your clear hearts; and both were sent on earth
    To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song--
      Indoors and out, summer and winter, mirth."

So sings Leigh Hunt--a poet, by the way, whose heart was ever open
at "the feel of June," and whose genial writings, whether prose or
verse, whether delightful essays or melodious songs, should be read
in the "happy summer-time," when the idler, reclining on the sunny
grass, with the beauty of an English landscape around him, wants the
companionship of a gentle spirit and a refined and healthy intellect.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.--The idler, reclining on the sunny grass.]

The mole-cricket is, like the grasshopper, a child of summer. It
differs, moreover, from the "cricket on the hearth" in lacking those
organs of _stridulation_ (excuse the word, kind reader!) which
mark "the glad silent moments" with their tricksome (and sometimes
inconvenient) tune. Their posterior thighs have an apparent bulging
about them, but the legs are very short; so short, that our little
friend could not compete with its cousin, the grasshopper, in
vaulting exercises, even were it not otherwise prevented by its large
abdomen. Nor is it much assisted by its wings, for though they are
broad, they are not organised for rapid flight, and the mole-cricket
makes but little use of them. Nature, however, has compensated it
for all these disadvantages by the gift of those strong, powerful,
flexible fore-feet of which I have already spoken.

The species generally met with in gardens, corn-fields, and orchards
is the _Gryllotalpa vulgaris_ of Latreille, identical with the
_Gryllus gryllotalpa_ of Linnæus. It has a brown head, garnished with
rusty-coloured mandibles; the thorax is of a brownish-gray, velvety,
tinged with red in the fore parts; the elytra, or wing-sheaths, which
are much shorter than the abdomen, are gray, and marked by black and
conspicuously prominent nerves; the wings, folded back like a fan,
are about one-fourth longer than the abdomen.

       *       *       *       *       *

The mole-cricket,--mark me!--is no more of a root-eater than the
mole; it is carnivorous, like the Staphylinus. As an experiment in
confirmation of this statement, we shut up one of these curious
Orthopteras in a large chest filled with mould. Concealed in the
galleries which it speedily constructed for its use, it fed upon
larvæ, and never touched the cereals which we had sown in the earth.
Here was a proof that we had to plead the cause of another of man's

The mole-cricket ejects, when pursued or tormented, a blackish
liquid, whose etherealised odour reminds one of the peculiar smell
of certain rotten apples. The female, larger than the male, lays
her eggs, which are, comparatively speaking, of a tolerable size
(Fig. 62, _b_), at some depth underground. The young, when hatched,
resemble their parents, except that they are white, and possess
merely the rudiments of wings.

If the mole-cricket, in its subterranean progress, encounters any
roots, it cuts them with its mandibles, not to feed upon them, but
to get rid of an obstacle; hence the mischief of which the farmer
accuses it, though this slight amount of injury is altogether
outweighed by its services in destroying a swarm of insects.

Perhaps, therefore, we must not blame the farmer for the hostility
with which he pursues it, especially if we are to accept as a true
picture of its doings the sketch recently drawn by a popular writer:--

"It is easy to understand that an insect which undermines land in
this way must cause great damage to cultivation (!). Whether the
crops serve it for food or not, they are not the less destroyed by
its underground burrowings. Lands infested by the mole-cricket are
recognisable by the colour of the vegetation, which is yellow and
withered; and the rubbish which these miners heap up at the side of
the openings leading to their galleries, resembling mole-hills in
miniature, betrays their presence to the farmer."

If, I say, this be a true picture, we cannot wonder at the means
employed by the farmer to clear his fields of such dangerous tenants.
The plan generally adopted is to dig, at intervals, a number of
little trenches, which are filled up with cow-dung, well trodden
down. The supposed root-eaters assemble in these warm nests; and
every fourth or fifth day, a labourer, armed with a pitchfork, scoops
up the manure at a single stroke, and scatters it over the ground,
while another crushes the unfortunate _Gryllotalpæ_ as fast as they
make their appearance.


Next to the domestic fly, the earwig is, perhaps, one of our
commonest, and, let us add, one of our most troublesome, insects.
Whence comes its popular appellation? From a mere fable. To amuse
the silly--alas! how great their number!--marvelling, without doubt,
at the spectacle of an insect's tail armed with strong pincers, some
jester wished to transform it into a terrible animal; and therefore
he pretended that it introduced itself into the human ear, and from
thence penetrated to the brain, with the view of driving out its
proprietor,--_i.e._, the mind or spirit which animates it. Only,
the originator of this absurd bugbear forgot one little fact: there
is no opening by which the ear can communicate with the brain! As
for the pincers, they are not so formidable as they appear. This
character, however, has been considered a sufficient foundation
by the naturalists, even by Linnæus himself, for the insect's
scientific name, _Forficula auricularia_, which is almost literally
translated by the French _oreille-pince_,--our English _earwig_ or
_ear-piercer_. (Fig. 64.)

[Illustration: FIG. 64.--The Earwig (_Forficula auricularia_).]

What dress is to man, their wings are to insects; by these
we distinguish them, at the first glance, from one another.
The elytra,--those horny sheaths which protect the membranous
wings,--embrace, in the Coleoptera, the entire upper surface of the
long annulated abdomen, and resemble vari-coloured _chlamydes_. But
now, look for the elytra of our Forficula. You will hardly believe
that they are represented by this kind of abbreviated light-brown
jacket, which does not extend below the middle of the back. Do you
observe yonder whitish spots? They indicate the tips of the wings,
which are longer than their covers. Lift up one of the elytra with
your penknife, and you will find that the wing which it partly
screens is worth your attention. The fore part (we should call it
the _upper_, if the animal walked erect like a man) is straight, and
without a fold. Raise it with a pin to see the posterior or lower
part. Observe, it curves underneath so as to bind the intermediate
portion like a fan. But this flabelliform wing,--of tolerable
dimensions when unfolded,--seems intended by the Creative Thought
only to mark its unity of plan: the earwig does not fly,--it secures
its food by crawling.

The elytra and the wings, inconspicuous as they are, produced so
great an impression on the early naturalists, that they made them
the principal characteristics of an entire order of insects. De
Geer, a celebrated Swedish naturalist, named them the _Dermaptera_
(from δέρμα, skin, and πτερόν, wing), in allusion to the
transparent skin-like appearance of the elytra. This name, though
adopted by Kirby, has not been preserved. A French entomologist
suggested the designation which is now in use,--_Orthoptera_ (from
ὀρθός, straight, and πτερόν),--referring to the manner in
which the wings are folded underneath the elytra.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here we must pause to recapitulate for the benefit of our younger
readers, and to avoid confusion, the various orders into which the
insect world is divided.

1. _Aptera_ (from α, without, and πτερόν, a wing),--wingless.
Examples--Flea, louse, chigo.

2. _Diptera_ (δίς, two, and πτερόν),--two-winged. Sub-divided
into Nemocera, having six-jointed antennæ; Brachycera, having
three-jointed antennæ. Examples--Gnat, tipula; May-fly, gad-fly.

3. _Hemiptera_ (ἕμι, half, and πτερόν),--half-winged.
Sub-divided into Heteroptera, with wings of different textures;
Homoptera, with wings of one substance. Examples--Land-bug, water-bug;
cicada, lantern-fly.

4. _Lepidoptera_ (λεπίς, a scale, and πτερόν),--scaly-winged.
Examples--Tiger-moth, butterfly, silkworm.

5. _Orthoptera_ (ὀρθός, straight, and
πτερόν),--straight-winged. Examples--Earwig, cockroach,

6. _Stymenoptera_ (ὑμήν, a membrane, and
πτερόν),--membranous-winged. Examples--Bee, wasp, ant.

7. _Neuroptera_ (νευρόν, nerve, and πτερόν),--nerve-marked
wings. Examples--Dragon-fly, caddis-fly, ant-lin.

8. _Strepsiptera_ (στρεψις, a twisting, and πτερόν),--curled
or twisted wings. Examples--Xenos, elenchus.

9. _Coleoptera_ (κολεός, a sheath, and πτερόν),--sheathed
wings. Examples--Beetle, cockchafer.

The order of _Orthoptera_, with which we are now concerned, is not
very well known. The reason is, perhaps, that the insects belonging
to it--earwigs, cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets--are not less
disagreeable than useless, so far as man is concerned. Being nearly
all of them omnivorous, like man himself, they frequently aid him,
very much against his inclination, in the consumption of natural
products of every kind.

It has been remarked that the species of great animals are far fewer
in number than those of the little. This remark applies with peculiar
force to the Orthoptera, which do not include nearly so many small
species as the Coleoptera.

       *       *       *       *       *

The earwig is the type of the tiny group of the Forficulidæ, of
which two species only are known to the common world--the _Forficula
auricularia_ and the _Forficula minor_.

The first species everybody is acquainted with. We have already
spoken of its elytra and its wings; but we now say a word upon the
two extremities of its body. The two antennæ, which crown the head,
are extremely mobile, owing, of course, to the numerous articulations
of which they are made up. These are fourteen in number (if we
include the base, which is itself composed of two movable parts). In
reality, however, there are but twelve; for we ought to eliminate
the base,--because, in form and size, it differs greatly from
articulations properly so called,--and, at the same time, to regard
as one the articulation or joint inserted in it. In fine, I am of
opinion, contrary to the general conclusion, that the antennæ of the
earwig consist but of twelve articulations, bristling with hairs,
and easily counted almost by the unassisted eye. With the help of a
microscope, the observer can easily distinguish the large nervure
traversing them from top to bottom, and communicating to the antennæ
their characteristic sensibility and mobility.

The brownish-coloured abdomen, composed of imbricated rings, forms,
in itself alone, upwards of half the body. The animal can move itself
in every direction; can bend and twist like a young eel. To the last
of its rings, which is larger than the others, are attached the two
curved branches of the forceps (_forficula_). These are weapons of
defence rather than of attack. At the same time, they are useful as
a sexual distinction. The forceps of the male are strongly arched,
and furnished with indentations perfectly visible to the naked eye
(see Fig. 64, _a_); those of the female are scarcely bent at all, and
their indentations can only be seen with the microscope. In numerous
individuals, the last ring of the abdomen is provided with four
tubercles, one in each side and two in the middle; but this is not a
uniform characteristic.

The earwig is a _trimeral_ insect; that is, its tarsi are each
composed of three joints. Its mandibles are comparatively weak. The
moment you touch it, the insect raises, with great quickness, the
extremity of its supple body, and endeavours to defend itself with
its pincers. The female lays her eggs chiefly in the chinks and
crannies of time-worn timber, and the larvæ issuing from them do not
differ, in any material respect, from the perfect insect. (See Fig.
64, _b_.)

The small species, known as _Forficula minor_, is not very common.
It is about half the size of its better-known congener, and is also
distinguished from it by its joints, ten in number,--by its legs,
of a very pale yellow,--and by its pincers, which are not only very
short, but almost straight, and scarcely marked, even in the male,
with any indentations. More, the wings are of the colour of the
elytra, and without any white spots. This species is chiefly met with
in the spring-time, and then in damp sandy localities, near ponds and

       *       *       *       *       *

Another, and still rarer species, to which we may permit ourselves
an allusion, has yellow pincers, rather black at the extremity,
and garnished inside, towards the middle, with a horny tubercular
projection. In the Pyrenees a species has been found which has no
wings at all, and has therefore been named _Forficula aptera_.

Our readers will now inquire, What is the use of this curiously
constructed animal? Is it not an abomination to the gardener? Well,
we admit that it eats up the leaves of his plants, and the petals of
his flowers, especially of the dahlia; but, on the other hand, it
destroys those far more injurious insects, _thrips_, _aphis_, and the

But it has a peculiar interest for the scientific student from the
point of view of what we may call its _muscular dynamometry_,--its
power of traction, which is far superior to that of our strongest

Do you doubt the truth of this assertion? Try, then, the following

Fasten to the insect's pincer, or forceps, with a thread, a
halfpenny, which will weigh about two grains, while the weight of
its body, on an average, will not exceed five centigrammes. Give
the insect free course over a sheet of paper, and you will see it
drag along the coin like a light chariot. Our animal is, therefore,
capable of drawing a burden fifty times heavier than its own body.
A man of eleven stone would, in the same ratio, be able to drag
7700 lbs. Neither man nor horse can enter, in this respect, into
competition with the earwig. If all the members of the animal kingdom
were classified according to their power of traction, it is probable
that the post of honour at the top of the list would be occupied by
our despised _Forficula auricularia_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The idea of a _muscular dynamometry_ of insects is not so new as
one might be tempted to think it. From time immemorial men have
been struck, without being able to account for it, by the enormous
disproportion existing between the weight of a flea and the force or
energy displayed by its extraordinary bounds. Hence the popularity of
a recent exhibition in London of Performing Fleas. Pliny, eighteen
centuries ago, asserted that the muscular strength of the ants
exceeded that of all other animals, if we compared the burden they
were able to carry with the diminutiveness of their bodies. "_Si quis
comparet onera corporibus earum, fateatur nullis portione vires esse

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this interesting
question was taken up by Borelli, Lahire, Buffon, and Gueneau de
Montbeliard. Recently it has been revived, with much ability, by
Felix Plateau, whose experiments have proved that the insects, in
comparison with their weight, possess an uncommon muscular force, far
beyond that of vertebrate animals; that in the same group of insects
this force varies in different species; and that in the small species
it is often of astounding energy.

The muscles are enclosed in solid sheaths (so to speak), which
constitute the jointed limbs of insects, and the thickness of the
sides of these sheaths seems to decrease in ratio with the size. No
relation, therefore, exists between the stature of individuals and
the volume and strength of their muscles. A giant may be weaker than
a dwarf. Here is another mystery for science to reveal!

       *       *       *       *       *

But we must take leave of our earwig. Its English name is derived by
some authorities from _ear_, and the old English _wiega_, a worm or
grub,--identical with the German _oberwurm_, and based, of course, on
the fiction which we have already exploded.

Newman, however, suggests a somewhat different name, and,
consequently, a different etymology:[72]--"The shape of the hind
wings," he says, "when fully opened, is nearly that of the human ear;
and from this circumstance it seems highly probable that the original
name of this insect was _earwing_." But we cannot agree with Mr

It remains to be added, that the female earwig sits upon her eggs,
and hatches them like a hen; and like a hen, too, she gathers her
young around her with evident affection.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.--Landscape.]


[Footnote 58: "The term _perianth_ is usually confined to the flowers
of Endogens, whatever colours they present, whether green, as in
asparagus, or coloured, as in tulip. Some use the term as a general
one, and restrict the use of _perigone_ to cases where a pistil is
present, not applying it to unisexual flowers, in which stamens only
are produced."--_Professor Balfour, "Manual of Botany_," p. 169.]

[Footnote 59: Homer, "Odyssey," Book xix., line 520.]

[Footnote 60: Grew, "Anatomy of Plants," p. 147.]

[Footnote 61: Barry Cornwall.]

[Footnote 62: Tragus, "Historia Stirpium," p. 310 (ed. 1552).]

[Footnote 63: Fabius Columna (Fabio Colonna), an Italian man of
science, who died in 1650, at the age of eighty-three.]

[Footnote 64: Thomas Campbell.]

[Footnote 65: Anne Pratt, "Flowers and their Associations" (ed.

[Footnote 66: _Draba aretoides_ has been found on Chimborazo at
16,000 feet.]

[Footnote 67: _Poa annua_ grows at an elevation of 7400 feet.]

[Footnote 68: Aristotle, "Hist. Animal.," i. 9.]

[Footnote 69: Pliny, "Hist. Nat.," xi. 52.]

[Footnote 70: Pliny, "Hist. Nat.," xxx. 7, 12, 24.]

[Footnote 71: Pliny, "Hist. Nat.," xi. 36.]

[Footnote 72: Newman, "Introduction to the History of British



    "Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
      Think not of them; _thou_ hast thy music too,
    While barred clouds bloom the softly dying day,
      And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
      Among the river shallows, borne aloft
        Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
      Hedge crickets sing; and now with treble soft
      The redbreast whistles from a garden croft,
        And gathering swallows twitter from the skies."


       *       *       *       *       *

    "It was a fair and mild autumnal sky,
    And earth's ripe pleasures met the admiring eye,
    As a rich beauty, when her bloom is lost,
    Appears with more magnificence and cost."





      "The contemplation of the works of creation elevates the mind to
      the admiration of whatever is great and noble, accomplishing the
      object of all study, which is to inspire the love of truth, of
      wisdom, of beauty, especially of goodness, the highest beauty,
      and of that supreme and eternal Mind which contains all truth and
      wisdom, all beauty and goodness."--MARY SOMERVILLE.


To discern the luminous point which should guide us in the shadows of
the infinite, is the gift of genius. The first to discern this point
in astronomy, the illustrious Kepler thereby succeeded in formulating
those laws, or rather rules, by which the movements of the stars are
regulated. How did he succeed? How did he arrive at a goal so much
to be desired? By intelligence in full possession of itself. It was
by abstracting his thoughts from all systematic conceptions,--the
shackles of science; it was by defying the traditional authority
which had so long enslaved men's minds; it was by interrogating
nature, which leaves all liberty to her interrogator, that Kepler
was able to deserve and win the glorious title of "legislator of
the heavens,"--a title which we must not, however, understand too
literally; it bears witness only to the power of intellect.

Let us attempt, at a modest distance, to proceed like Kepler; let us
make astronomy without troubling ourselves concerning astronomers.
This is the sole means of seizing the luminous point which should
guide our steps.

       *       *       *       *       *

The movement, in virtue of which every star performs the circuit
of heaven in four-and-twenty hours, is incessantly reproduced in a
uniform and a constant manner. The acquisition of this first fact,
simple as it seems, was a somewhat laborious task, and undoubtedly
dates back to a distant antiquity. But now comes another fact, where
observation demands the closest mental attention, and which is of a
more recent discovery.

To comprehend it clearly, let us first call to mind that the moment
when the sun crosses the Equator,--whether to return into the
northern hemisphere (at the _spring equinox_), or into the southern
(at the _autumn equinox_),--is instantaneous. More than one way
exists of determining this moment exactly; but here we need not enter
upon the subject.

Is the interval of time occupied by the sun in travelling from the
spring to the autumn equinox equal to the interval which our luminary
requires to pass from the autumn equinox to the vernal?

A singular question, you reply. Who, indeed, would venture to
maintain that the number of days, hours, minutes, seconds, was not
exactly the same in the one case as in the other?

Well, the period is _not_ the same; and, therefore, merely to
propound _this_ question was a masterpiece of genius. For no ordinary
intellectual audacity was needed to doubt the reality of the supposed
perfect circle which the sun apparently describes--according to the
recognised authorities--in its uniform progress around the globe;
that globe believed by all the early astronomers to be imperturbably
and everlastingly situated in the centre of their thrice-sacred
geometrical figure. This dogma being accepted as infallible, there
was every evidence that the two intervals of time, which divided the
astronomical year into two moieties, would be of equal duration. It
did not occur to the mind of any one of the faithful that the sojourn
of the sun, in his circular and uniform movement, might be longer or
shorter in the northern than in the southern hemisphere.

What, then, was the name of the audacious innovator who ventured upon
putting forth so revolutionary a suggestion?

It was Hipparchus. At least it was he who, confidently relying upon
his observations, was the first to affirm that the sun remains longer
in the northern than in the southern hemispheres; or, more accurately
speaking, that its passage from the spring to the autumn equinox
occupies 187 days, while from the autumn to the spring equinox the
duration of its course is only 178 days 6 hours (nearly). The year
of 365-1/4 days--that is, the Egyptian year, which was universally
adopted by the ancient astronomers--was thus discovered to be really
divided into two unequal portions, although, _theoretically_, the sun
ought to occupy exactly the same space of time in passing from the
spring to the autumn, as from the autumn to the spring equinox.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fact pointed out and attested by Hipparchus had an influence
which he never anticipated on the progress of science. In opposition
to all the systems previously designed by man, it followed, in the
first place, that the movement of the sun, in relation to a mean
movement, must sometimes be accelerated, sometimes be retarded; that
the solar arc described in a given time would be greater in winter
than in summer.

Astronomers who, trammelled by particular theories, were unable
and unwilling to accept of any new light, immediately hastened
to raise, as is invariably the case with those who defend a bad
cause, a subsidiary and damaging question. They asked whether those
inequalities of the sun's movement were real, or only apparent;
whether they were more than a mere optical phenomenon, arising
from the sun's position _vis-à-vis_ to an observer placed on the
earth's surface. And they unhesitatingly pronounced in favour of the
appearance, and against the reality.

But man, says an old adage, is always punished after the manner
of his sin. Dogmatic and obstinate authority involved our
anti-revolutionary astronomers in fresh complications. Such is the
case, too, very frequently, in the domain of theology!

Does the sun--the sun as each of us beholds him--ever change his
size? Does he ever shrink in his majestic proportions? Is the
magnitude of his broad golden disc ever lessened?

       *       *       *       *       *

Assuredly this new question, which was not less audacious than its
predecessor, did not come--there is sacrilege in the thought--from
the conservative areopagus of all ancient doctrines; the learned
areopagus, or supreme tribunal, which had erected into a dogma the
circular orbit and uniform movement of the sun around the earth, the
centre of the universe! It could only have been suggested by some
unworthy heterodoxical disturber of men's minds,--his name, alas! has
not been handed down to us,--who had dared to look upon the heavens,
and learn from their bright and beautiful face, without a master, the
A B C of science. This "pestilent heretic" had, probably, remarked
one of the commonest phenomena connected with the celestial bodies,
which astronomers hitherto had not deigned to notice.

Undoubtedly, dear reader, you will have been more than once impressed
by the appearance of the solar orb, when obscured in one of those
mists so frequent towards the end of autumn:--

    "Cold grew the foggy morn, the day was brief;
    Loose on the cherry hung the crimson leaf;
    The dew dwelt ever on the herb; the woods
    Roared with strong blasts, with mighty showers the floods."

[Illustration: FIG. 66.--"When the glory of the woods is rapidly

Such a day, in this sad season of the year, when the glory of
the woods is rapidly departing, and from the swollen streams and
dewy pastures the vapours ascend in a dense whirl of clouds, is
of frequent occurrence; and on such a day, the solar sphere, as
it struggles through the screening mists, seems like the face of
the moon at its full, when slightly veiled. Your eye rests upon
it without pain. And as observation sharpens your mind, you put
to yourself the natural question, Is not the sun farther from the
earth at this epoch when it affords us the least heat, than at that
period of the year when its vivifying power is greatest? I think it
is obvious that, to the unexperienced, such a method of explaining
the cold of winter and the heat of summer by the variation in the
distance of our great solar luminary would naturally occur.

But the demon of certainty--an excellent demon, whatever the orthodox
may say--is present, to stimulate us all. You may have just formed
your theories, you may cite your traditional authorities, but these
will not satisfy our awakened curiosity. We ask for demonstrations,
for irrefragable proofs drawn from the Bible of Nature. We will
listen to no oracles but those which are confirmed by the voices of
God's second revelation.

Therefore, men required to be assured that the sun was really nearer
to us in summer than in winter. For this purpose, it was requisite
to make, at the beginning of summer, an observation analogous to
that which had been made at the beginning of winter, and afterwards
to compare the apparent magnitudes of the solar disc at these two
opposite periods of the year.

Behold us, then, at work. You are perfectly tranquil as to the
result; for you are persuaded beforehand that the sun _must_ be
farther from us in the cold season than in the hot. You regard this
as a self-evident truth, like an axiom of Euclid's.

But Nature is a great magician; she contrives the most dramatic
surprises for the mind which takes the trouble to interrogate her in
all simplicity and without dogmatic pretensions.

What a _coup-de-théâtre_ it was for the observer who first
established experimentally that the apparent diameter of the sun is
greater in winter than in summer--that we are _nearer_ the sun in the
cold season, than in the hot!

       *       *       *       *       *

On more closely examining a result apparently so paradoxical, man
discovered that the angle which subtracts the sun, as seen from
the earth,--the _visual angle_ which gives the sun's apparent
diameter,--varies necessarily throughout the year. Thus, the
semi-diameter, or radius, which on the 24th of June equals 15' 45",
will, a month later, have increased one second (15' 46"); on the 2d
of August will equal 15' 47"; on the 2d September, 15' 53", and so
on. We put the exact measurements before the reader in a tabulated


    On January 21,             16' 16"
    "  February 25,            16' 10"
    "  March 31,               16' 1"
    "  April 30,               15' 53"
    "  May 30,                 15' 47"
    "  June 24, minimum,       15' 45"
    "  July 24,                15' 46"
    "  August 3,               15' 47"
    "  September 2,            15' 53"
    "  October 2,              16' 1"
    "  November 6,             16' 10"
    "  December 21, maximum,   16' 17"

We do not trouble the reader with the fractions of a second, which
indicate the quantity of the apparent increase of the radius from the
end of June to the end of December, and its apparent decrease from
the beginning of January to the end of June.

       *       *       *       *       *

A glance at the above figures shows that the mean of the apparent
diameters, all measured at the moment of the sun's passing the
meridian, is about half a degree, or 30'; and that--which is
sufficiently curious--720 of these mean suns, set one against
another, would be required to fill up the contour of a great circle
of the celestial sphere. Is it this fact which suggested the idea of
dividing the circle into 720/2 = 360°?

       *       *       *       *       *

Simultaneously with the discovery of the variations of the solar
charioteer, it was ascertained that the moments of the sun's passage
of the meridian--moments which measure the 365 different positions
occupied by the sun in the 365 days of the year--are not separated by
equal intervals, or that equal intervals of time do not correspond
to the equal angular displacements,--in fine, that the maximum and
minimum of the sun's angular velocity coincide with the maximum and
minimum of its apparent diameter. Now, remember that the extreme
points where the sun experiences its maximum and minimum angular
displacement are named, according to Ptolemæus, the former the
_perigee_, the latter the _apogee_; or, if we follow Copernicus, the
former the _perihelion_, and the latter the _aphelion_.

The aggregate of these facts was known to the ancients; but the
manner in which it was sought to explain them merits notice as a
specimen of blind attachment to a preconceived system.

Ptolemæus, the organ of the dictatorial astronomy of antiquity,
declares, _ex cathedrâ_, that "the inequalities of the sun's
movements are only apparent; that they are simply the effects of
the position and of the arrangements of the circles in which these
movements are accomplished; and that, in this _apparent disorder of
the phenomena_ (περί τὴν ὑπονουμένην τῶν
φαινομένων ἀταξίαν), nothing really occurs contrary
to their actual immobility (τῷ ὄντι πέφυκε
συμβαίνειν οὐδὲν ἀλλότριον αὐτῶν
τῆς ἀΐδιοτητος)."

Now, according to this dogmatic immutability, the straight lines, or
radii, which proceed from the revolving star to the centre of the
circle, would describe "equal angles in equal times." This is exactly
the contrary of the result obtained, as we have seen, by careful

But this difficulty no more embarrassed the great pontiff of
astronomy than a conscientious scruple would perplex the author of a
theological dogma. Listen to him:--

"The true cause of these apparent irregularities is explained by two
very simple hypotheses. Either the one or the other would account
for the phenomena. In fact, if we suppose the movement to occur in
a circle described around the centre of the world, and in the plane
of the ecliptic, so that the point whence we are looking corresponds
with this centre, we must admit either that the planets make their
movements equal in non-concentric circles, or that, if these circles
are concentric, it is not simply in these circles that they move, but
in others, called _epicycles_, carried through the concentric."[73]

Examine Fig. 67. Here A B G D represent the ecliptic, E its centre,
and A E G its diameter; Z H T K is the epicycle, in which the planet
moves uniformly around the centre A, while the epicycle uniformly
traverses the circle A B G D. Now, suppose that the star has arrived
at H; it would appear to an observer at E to be more advanced by the
uniform movement of all the arc A H; if it be at K, it would appear,
on the contrary, to be less advanced by all the arc A K. At Z the
star would appear more distant, and at T, nearer than if it were at A.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.--The Circle and the Epicycle.]

       *       *       *       *       *

To explain the other phenomena, such as the stations and
retrocessions of the planets, recourse was again had to the epicycles
or deferred eccentric circles. By multiplying these it was possible
to account for all the angular inequalities in the movements of a
planet. It is of importance to note this point, in order to show
how very dangerous it is to trust absolutely to mathematics in our
search after the truth; that science which, by the certainty of its
demonstrations, nourishes our intellectual pride, and may, therefore,
occasionally lull the mind into a false security. The theory of
epicycles, from a mathematical point of view, was irreproachable, and
it sufficiently accounted for the facts which threatened to overthrow
the dogma of circular orbits and uniform planetary movement.

       *       *       *       *       *

But by degrees, as observations grew more accurate and
comprehensive, these and other theories, however fine in
appearance,--_teres atque rotundus_,--gradually disappeared, if
fundamentally erroneous. By the invention of micrometers, we were
enabled to measure more exactly than had formerly been possible
the variations of diameter or the modifications of distance, and
afterwards to compare them with the changes of velocity. From
this comparison it results that the latter are not greater than
is compatible with the alterations of distance indicated by the
variations of diameter; in a word, that the hypothesis of epicycles
is decidedly insufficient to account for all the inequalities
detected by careful investigation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kepler was the first to break the charm which had held captive the
mind of astronomers, including even Copernicus and Tycho Brahé.
Ptolemæus had considered the mean positions of the stars to be
real. Kepler, strong in his researches, declared that they were
but a factitious mode of calculation by which the _true_ positions
might be ascertained; that the mean movement is simply an artifice
representing the star's place, _if_ no inequality existed; in fine,
that we must take the movements as they are in nature,--the true
movements, given by observation,--and not the mean movements, deduced
from an erroneous hypothesis.

This declaration of principles met, at the time, with the hostility
of all astronomers of any reputation, but it has become the
starting-point of the discovery of the laws on which the whole
edifice of astronomy reposes. Had Kepler, however, been left to
depend entirely on his own resources, he might, perhaps, have
never completed his task. A fortunate circumstance brought him an
unexpected ally. Tycho, having taken refuge in Bohemia, sent for the
young astronomer (Kepler then was but twenty-nine years old), to
assist him in the composition of the "Rudolphine Tables."[74]

"This," says Kepler, "was a providential interposition. I repaired
to Bohemia early in the year 1600, in the hope of learning the
correction of the eccentricities of the planets. Perceiving that
Tycho made use of a mixed system (which made Mercury and Venus
revolve around the sun, and all these planets, with their companions,
around the earth), I asked his permission to follow out my own
ideas. It was the will of Providence again, that we should occupy
ourselves with Mars. My whole attention, therefore, was directed to
this planet: and it is through the movements of Mars we must obtain
our insight into the secrets of astronomy, or remain ignorant of them
for ever (_ex Martis motibus omnino necesse est nos in cognitionem
astronomiæ arcanorum venire aut ea perpetuo nescire_)."[75]

Why this preference given to Mars? In the first place, because, among
all the planets then known, it was Mars which, in its movement round
the sun, departed most from the circle; next, its orbit approaches
nearest to the earth's; the earth is very near to Mars when she
passes between that planet and the sun,--that is to say, when she is
in _opposition_, while she retires from it triple the distance when
in _conjunction_,--that is, when the sun is between her and Mars.
Hence arise certain variations of aspect, particularly adapted to
make manifest the form of the orbit, and the law of the real movement
of the "red planet, Mars." As for the other planets, as far as they
were then known, their orbits differ so little from the circle, that
the nature of the curve which they describe in reality would never
have been exactly recognised by any inexperienced star-gazer.

For these reasons Kepler regarded as providential the choice he had
been led to make of Mars at the outset of his astronomical career.
Before the close of 1601, Tycho died, bequeathing to his young
fellow-worker a treasury of observation. Thenceforth Kepler undertook
to finish without assistance the famous Rudolphine Tables. They cost
him five-and-twenty years of assiduous labour. Looking upon Tycho's
observations, because of their exactness, as "a gift from the Divine
Goodness," he employed them, in the first place, as a test of the old
hypotheses of planetary orbits and movements. Let us do our best to
grasp the range and bearing of this part of his work.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the system of Copernicus, which Kepler ardently adopted, the
earth revolves around the sun. Now, observation having shown that
the sun remains seven or eight days longer in the northern than in
the southern signs of the Zodiac, we must of necessity admit that
the sun, instead of being situated in the centre of the terrestrial
orbit, occupies a point _outside_ that centre, in such a manner that
the earth must sometimes be nearer to, and sometimes farther from,
the sun. The distance by which it departs from the centre of its
orbit, which Copernicus, like the ancients, supposed to be circular,
is called its _eccentricity_.

Astronomers were long preoccupied with the idea of seeking in this
_eccentricity_ a point where the movements should appear equal. This
point was the centre of the _equant_,--a name given to the eccentric
circle described from the point of equality or from the centre of the
mean movements.

Now, let us recall the principal condition of the problem which
Kepler had undertaken to solve. This condition required that the
straight line drawn from the centre of our globe to the centre of the
sun,--in a word, that the _vector radius_, as it is called, should
describe around the sun certain angles, whose variability should
agree with the results of observation.

Starting from this point, Kepler found that, for certain positions
of Mars (in the _aphelion_ and _perihelion_, corresponding to the
_minimum_ and _maximum_ of velocity), the centre of the orbit,
always supposing it to be circular, divided into two equal parts
(or _bisected_) the total eccentricity: in other words, that it
exactly occupied the middle between the centre of the eccentric and
the _equant_ of Ptolemæus; but it did not appear to him necessary
to bisect it in other positions, intermediate between those of the
aphelion and the perihelion. He established that the differences
in longitude amounted to eight or nine minutes. Now, observations
so exact as those of Tycho were altogether incompatible with such
great error.[76] Therefore, the geometrical hypothesis which gave
these errors was false; the orbit of Mars could not be a circle, and
to save these eight or nine minutes, furnished by observation but
in disaccord with theory, it would be needful to recommence all the
calculations of astronomy. This conclusion, not less legitimate than
daring, supplied Kepler with the first decisive step in the task he
had undertaken.

This is not the place to relate all the essays and miscarriages
through which this man of genius passed before finally completing his
discovery of the rules that bear his name. But we may put before the
reader the construction which led to them.

On a sheet of paper let us mark down by a point (Fig. 68) the place
occupied by the earth in relation to the sun.[77] From this point
_o_, we draw a right line terminating at _a_, the sun's noon-day
position (for example, on the 1st of January); the succeeding lines
shall touch upon _a´ a´´_, which the sun occupies successively after
the same interval of time (twenty-four hours, or the exact duration
of the earth's rotation on its axis);--and let us continue after
this mode until the sun has accomplished, by its own proper movement
from west to east, the whole circuit of the heavens, traversing
360 degrees in the space of a year. If we ascribe to the radius
_o a_ a certain length, corresponding to a definite solar diameter,
the lengths of all the others, corresponding to the variations of
the same diameter, will depend upon that of the first, which, for
facility of calculation, we suppose to be divided into one thousand

[Illustration: FIG. 68.--Diagram for Kepler's Laws.]

After having thus allotted to each straight line its approximate
length, let us join their extremities by a curve. What do we see
before us? A geometrical figure widely different from a circle, for
the diameters (_i.e._, the straight lines passing through the centre)
are far from being equal. The figure is an ellipse.

If now we pass from the appearance to the reality, _o_ will be the
sun, and _a a´ a´´_, _m m´_ will indicate the terrestrial orbit,
or the points of the curve successively occupied by the earth in
movement. The moveable straight lines, free at one extremity, and at
the other attached to the centre of the sun, are called the _Vector
heliocentric radii_. By the help of this construction, you see that
the point occupied by the sun is beyond or without the centre; this
eccentric point is the _focus_ of the ellipse, and the distance
from this focus to the centre, its _eccentricity_. The extremity
of the major axis, the nearest to the focus, is the _perihelion_,
and its farthest extremity the _aphelion_. The difference of the
angles formed by the vector radii indicate the inequality of the
movements: to the greatest angle, the perihelion, corresponds the
_maximum_ of velocity (_a a´ a´´_), just as to the smallest, or
aphelion, corresponds the _minimum_ (_m m´_); the other angles mark
the velocities intermediary between these two extremes. We have thus
before us a series of triangles with their apices at the focus of the
ellipse, and their bases on the contour of the curve.

But these latter are not sufficient for the mind, whose principal
function lies in seeking unity among the variety of phenomena.

In what way are the variations of distance connected with the
variations of velocity? What is the simplest expression of their
relationship? These are questions which naturally presented
themselves to Kepler's inquiring intellect. By dint of immeasurable
patience, and recommencing more than once the same toil, this great
astronomer discovered that the variable arc traversed by the earth
(or, in appearance, the sun), in four-and-twenty hours, multiplied by
one half the corresponding vector radius, is a constant quantity: is
the product which, as elementary geometry teaches, gives the surface
of a triangle. And, in fact, look at the matter carefully: the
_vector radii_ form triangles whose base is the arc traversed in the
same interval of time, and whose apices rest upon the centre of the
sun (or, in appearance, the observer, or the centre of the earth).

To fix these ideas thoroughly in our minds,--and a superficial
knowledge is worse than useless,--let us imagine to ourselves a man
holding horizontally extended a tube of a certain length, capable,
like a telescope, of being lengthened or shortened at pleasure;
and let us fancy him pivoting upon himself, in such a manner that
he sweeps, every minute, exactly the same area or same quantity
of surface, while varying perpetually the swiftness of movement
and the length of the tube; this "ideal man" will have solved the
problem whose solution is inscribed, in ineffaceable letters, on the
machinery of our globe; he will describe around him an ellipse, of
which he himself occupies one of the foci.

       *       *       *       *       *

By this method of investigation and deduction, Kepler succeeded in
breaking up the traditionary authority of the circle and of uniform
movement. He broke it up for ever by two of his celebrated laws,
which may be rendered in the following terms:--

      1st, _The orbit of the earth, as well as the curves described by
      the other planets, are ellipses, one of whose foci is represented
      by the sun_;

      2d, _The heliocentric vector radius of a planet describes around
      the sun areas equal with the times; or, in other words, the
      surfaces described by the vector radii, in equal times, are also

The ancients had looked for equality in the movements of planets
traversing the circumferences of circles: they were mistaken. It is
true this equality exists; only, not where they supposed. If they had
sought it in the surfaces described by the vector radii, they would
have anticipated Kepler's discovery of the laws which govern our

But their astronomical dogmas prevented them from seeing the path
which led to this great discovery.

Hence we may conclude that Dogma is an evil thing.



[Footnote 73: Ptolemæus, "Syntaxis Mathematicalis," iii. 3.]

[Footnote 74: Certain astronomical calculations, so called because
begun under the patronage of Rudolf II., Emperor of Germany

[Footnote 75: Kepler, "Astronomia Nova, seu de Motibus Stellæ
Martis," p. 53 (ed. 1609).]

[Footnote 76: The reader should turn to Kepler's immortal work, "De
Motibus Stellæ Martis," for the manifold attempts of the astronomer
to bring calculation into agreement with observation. In every page
is revealed what has been finely called "the passionate patience of

[Footnote 77: There is certainly no exaggeration in comparing the
earth to a point, since the diameter of the sun is 112 times that
of the earth, and its mean distance a little more than 12,000
terrestrial diameters: the earth is but a microscopical point
in space, if we compare it to the place occupied by the central




    "I care not, Fortune, what you me deny;
    You cannot rob me of free Nature's grace;
    You cannot shut the windows of the sky
    Through which Aurora shows her bright'ning face;
    You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
    The woods and lawns by living streams at eve."


Of all the strata composing our planetary mass, the most important,
so far as man is concerned, is, at the same time, the most
superficial; for it is here that all the phenomena of life transpire.
Our vegetable earth is the great laboratory in which are prepared all
the solid, liquid, and gaseous aliments necessary for the nourishment
of animal life. It is on the surface of the globe that men play
their various parts. And why? Can it be for no other purpose than to
modify, in some degree, its aspect, that they occupy the terrestrial
surface? One would be tempted to think so on consulting what these
majestic _bimanes_ pompously designate their "Universal History."
Regions formerly blooming with fertility,--gay with gardens, and
orchards, and meadows,--musical with brooks, and glorious with
harvest,--are now uncultivated and barren. Monuments which seemed
adapted to defy the winds and the rains, and the corroding touch of
the years, lie shattered in ruins; and with them the once populous
cities and the once mighty empires of which they were the pride. The
jackal howls among the broken columns of Tadmor; the sand-drifts have
accumulated above the splendour of Memphis and Thebes. With their
stones other monuments are raised, other cities are embellished, and
other empires, which, in their turn, undergo the same unalterable
fate: a perpetual relation of human forms, in every respect
comparable with that which transpires in the bosom of the prolific
earth, our common mother and nurse.

But why do men wander so far from the straight way? Why do they their
best to ensure each other's unhappiness? They seem, alas! ignorant of
the tendency of their actions, while attaching themselves to things
transitory, and despising things imperishable. These, indeed, they
would utterly ignore; they would live, like the brutes, unconscious
of their destiny, if, at the bottom of their indestructible
conscience, there did not prevail a glimmer of light, though more
or less eclipsed, if they did not all feel themselves attracted, if
they did not all irresistibly gravitate, some more quickly, others
more slowly, towards the sun of eternal truth and justice. Instead
of moving with sidelong sinuous pace, instead of taking ninety-nine
steps backward for every one hundred taken in advance, they would
all march onward in the way of progress; were it not that they pass
their time in clipping their own wings; were it not that, to bend
their heads the better--_Veluti pecora ventri obedientia_--they
check the aspiring flight of that thought which would soar beyond
the present; in a word, were it not that they lay a sacrilegious
hand--unfortunate wretches!--on that which God Himself has respected
in His creature--Liberty! The doubt which perplexes us as to the
great problem of our destiny,--the doubt which allows so much
latitude to the workings of our conscience,--does it not indicate the
path we ought to follow? Should not men regard their freedom with
peculiar reverence, when the Divinity they invoke has mercifully
refrained from fettering it? Creatures of a day, who live as if you
would never die! the contradictions and the miseries of which you so
incessantly complain, are your own work. Help, help yourselves, by
the development of your faculties, by the cultivation of your heart
and mind, for herein you shall see the law and the prophets. Barren
lip-service is nothing better than blasphemy!

       *       *       *       *       *

But let us return to the ground which we tread, and where our
life-companions are the animals and the plants.

       *       *       *       *       *

The uppermost stratum of our globe undergoes the direct action of
the light and heat of the all-vivifying "orb of day." This action,
very unequal in its effects, and most important to understand, has
scarcely been touched as yet by scientific research. Our geologists,
having been more busily engaged with the inside than the outside
of the earth, have broached certain plausible theories--for the
most part of a very dubious character--respecting the central fire,
Plutonism and Neptunism, the stratification of the planets, the
formation of mountains, valleys, and basins. Our mineralogists,
thinking far less of the chemical molecular constitution of the
different formations than of their crystalline constitution, have
minutely studied the physical qualities and geometrical forms of the
integral parts of the rocks; but neither have condescended to direct
their inquiries to the layer of soil trodden underneath their feet.
Yet this very layer of arable earth, to which all bodies must return
after death what they have taken from it during life,--this much
despised _humus_, furnishes all our agricultural products, the very
foundation and support of our material existence.

To touch industrial occupations--to meddle with trade, commerce, or
agriculture--is unworthy of Science! Such is the silly cry of the
many distinguished savants who pride themselves on what they call
their "freedom from selfish considerations."

Be it so; but then you ought surely to be consistent, and never
regard science as a profession or a bread-winner.


It is no easy study to investigate the modifications and chemical
effects which the terrestrial surface is capable of receiving or
undergoing, either from the direct rays of the sun, or from diffused
light. It requires new methods of inquiry,--methods frequently
of extreme delicacy, as the labours of Bunsen and Roscoe, of
Kirchhofer and Tyndall, have abundantly demonstrated. Let us here
confine ourselves to establishing the fact that the chemical action
of light varies according to the geological constitution of the
soil,--according to the diurnal and annual obliquity of the solar
rays,--according to the hours of the day,--according to the latitudes
and seasons. The maximum of effects is manifested about the times of
the solstices.

For the better co-ordination of these phenomena, might we not, as has
been done in regard to the distribution of heat over the terrestrial
surface,[78] link together by lines the points of equality? We should
thus create an aggregate of _iso-photo-chemical_ lines,--diurnal,
mensual, and annual,--of incontestible utility for the progress of
general physics and meteorology, which are still in their infancy.

But to realise this magnificent programme, the union and agreement is
necessary of scientific men in every region of the globe; an ideal,
therefore, as yet, is very far from being attained.


The earth is subject to the influence of two different sources of
heat. One, like the arterial blood, strikes from the centre to the
circumference: this internal heat it is which has been stored up
since the unknown epoch when our globe was nothing more than an
incandescent nucleus, surrounded by condensable vapours. The other,
like the venous blood, flows from the circumference towards the
centre: this is the solar heat which the earth continues to receive
through its crust.

The first of these sources lies beyond the domain of experiment. It
has been the object of numerous hypotheses and diverse speculations,
with which we shall not here concern ourselves. The second source
is alone accessible to our investigations, and yet the network of
_isothermal lines_ is scarcely defined.

Since the year 1817, when Alexander von Humboldt conceived the
felicitous idea of representing by lines the same mean temperatures
enjoyed, in a given space of time, by the different regions of the
globe, researches of this nature have very considerably multiplied.
But these researches--do not forget--refer rather to the temperature
of the atmosphere than to the heating of the inferior stratum of that
gaseous ocean whose bed or foundation is the terrestrial crust. And
it is the penetration of the latter by the sun's calorific rays which
we would especially desire to understand. Here, then, a sufficient
margin is left for our curiosity.

"If the king, my father, does not rest from his conquests," cried
Alexander of Macedon, while still a child, "he will leave me nothing
to do when I shall have reached manhood." To such a complaint, be you
sure, dear reader, that the conquests made by science will never give
rise. Every step in advance is but a step into the infinite: what we
have done only shows us the boundless extent of what we have to do.

It is this reflection which must always teach humility to the
scientific student, even while he rejoices in the achievements of
human patience and genius. He will not despair for he knows that
great victories have been won: he will not grow arrogant, for he
knows that he is still on the threshold of eternal truth. As Sir
J. Herschel has justly said:--"He who has seen obscurities, which
appeared impenetrable, in physical and mathematical science, suddenly
dispelled, and the most barren and unpromising fields of inquiry
converted, as if by inspiration, into rich and inexhaustible springs
of knowledge and power, on a simple change of our point of view, or
by merely bringing them to bear on some principle which it never
occurred before to try, will surely be the very last to acquiesce
in any dispiriting prospects of either the present or the future
destinies of mankind; while, on the other hand, the boundless views
of intellectual and moral, as well as material relations, which open
to him on all hands in the course of these pursuits,--the knowledge
of the trivial place he occupies in the scale of creation, and the
sense continually pressed upon him of his own weakness and incapacity
to suspend or modify the slightest movement of the vast machinery
he sees in action around him, must effectually convince him that
humility of pretension, no less than confidence of hope, is what best
becomes his character."[79]

The temperature of the terrestrial surface perpetually varies under
the influence of local as well as general causes. Had this fact
been known to the philosophers of antiquity, they would have taken
advantage of it to liken the earth to an animal whose skin is more or
less sensible of heat, not only according to the difference of the
seasons, but according to the different hours of the day.

The diurnal thermometrical variations are those which penetrate the
least profoundly into the interior of the soil. At a depth of about
five feet they cease to be perceptible. The maxima and minima of the
year, however, can be detected at a sufficiently considerable depth.
The limit descends as low as 80 to 100 feet. Below 100 feet, the
terrestrial stratum is found invariable,--that is, inaccessible to
the thermometrical changes of the atmosphere. It is remarkable that
the temperature of this stratum differs but little from the mean
annual temperature of the air, which, in the latitude of London, is

       *       *       *       *       *

The maxima and minima of the yearly heat are propagated very slowly
in the earth, and their difference gradually becomes less and
less. Thermometers buried 26 feet deep in the ground, mark, in our
latitudes, the maximum of temperature only on the 10th of December,
and the minimum on the 15th of June. But there are certain elements
which we must take into account. Thus, the depth of the invariable
thermometrical curve depends both on the latitude of the place,
on the conductibility of the strata, and the difference between
the highest and lowest temperature of the year. The less this
difference, the more nearly does the invariable stratum approach the
surface. Here we have the reason why, in the intertropical torrid
zone, where the temperature scarcely varies above two or three
degrees in the whole year, the invariable curve is not found more
than forty centimetres beneath the surface.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the temperate zone, lying between the torrid and the frigid zones,
the same phenomena assume, apparently, a more complex character;
the isogeothermal lines inflect as diversely as the isothermal, and
the former are far from running parallel with the latter. And this
is easily understood, even without any experiment, for there is no
relation between the ever-varied composition of the terrestrial
strata, and the much more uniform composition of the atmosphere.

In the frigid zone, the soil remains constantly frozen for an
insignificant depth, whatever may be the temperature of the
encircling atmosphere. In some regions a stratum of ice and snow
eternally reposes on the surface of the soil.

Unfortunately the observations, which require to be undertaken on an
uniform plan and under well-weighed conditions, at various points
over the whole globe, are as yet far too few to assist us in defining
any general currents of heat or cold, whether variable or constant,
as prevailing in the lower strata of the gaseous ocean of our planet.


A more useful picture than that of the isogeothermal lines would be
one of all the arable land covering the continents of the Old World
and the New,--indicating the composition of this nutritive earth, the
nature of the soil on which it reposes, as well as the various kinds
of cultivation appropriate in different climates. Here is a work to
be achieved,--a work which would benefit the whole human race,--a
work differing vastly from the conquests and achievements of too many
of those "heroes" the world delights to honour.

            "Peace hath her victories
    More renowned than war."

In this immense task, of which, as yet, not even the outlines have
been sketched, particular attention would require to be paid to the
_subsoil_; for upon this the success of all cultivation literally

[Illustration: FIG. 69.--_a_, Humus, or stratum of arable earth,--the
horizontal line shows the depth reached by the labourer; _b_,
subsoil; _c_, subsoil; _d_, arable earth; _e_, humus in an inclined
stratum; _f_, humus mixed with subsoil.]

Arable land is the most superficial stratum of the cultivable
terrestrial crust; it is this which the plough turns up and
subdues; it is this which, properly manured, and enriched by the
decomposition of organic matter, furnishes to vegetables their
principal nourishment. As it varies in thickness, it necessarily
presents one or other of the following circumstances:--1st, The
labourer, penetrating the entire stratum of arable earth (Fig. 69,
_a_), will strike down to the subsoil (Fig. 69, _b_); or, 2d, he will
not traverse the entire stratum (Fig. 69, _c_); or, 3d, after having
traversed the entire depth of the humus, he will reach a portion of
the subsoil (Fig. 69, _d_); or, 4th, after having gone through both
humus and subsoil, he will discover another layer of arable earth,
which may be either pure humus, in a thick inclined stratum (Fig. 69,
_e_), or humus mixed with the débris of the subsoil.

As for the subsoil, it may, by its composition, completely modify,
stimulate, or delay the action of the vegetable mould, however rich
this may be in assimilating principles. Thus, where the subsoil is
argillaceous, the pluvial waters are arrested by it as by a bed of
impervious cement, and render the ground too damp and cold to yield
abundant harvests. In such a case subsoil-drainage is the best
remedy. But if the earth be porous, the moisture gradually percolates
through its various layers, fertilising and warming, communicating
to the plants the needful humidity, and assisting in the production
of that most glorious of all the scenes of cultivated nature--a
corn-field thickly ripe with golden grain. In the poet's "Palace of
Art" no finer picture can be seen than this:

    "The reapers at their sultry toil.
      In front they bind the sheaves. Behind
    Are realms of upland, prodigal in oil,
      And hoary to the wind."

Oh! a sight to thank God for, and rejoice in, is the field all aglow
with the splendour of the harvest!

[Illustration: FIG. 70.--"Behind are realms of upland."]

Without having recourse to chemical analysis, which is within the
reach of a very limited number of persons, _clayey_ soils may be
distinguished by the vegetable species that most commonly flourish in
them: as--

      I. _Plants belonging to clayey soils._--The Queen of the
      Meadows, _Spiræa ulmaria_ (order _Rosaceæ_). Wild Angelica,
      _Angelica sylvestris_. Common Sorrel, _Rumex acetosa_ (order
      _Polygonaceæ_), and various kinds of Ranunculaceæ, as _Ranunculus
      lingua_, _Ranunculus flamma_, and _Ranunculus sceleratus_.

      II. _Plants belonging to sandy soils._--Horny Lotus, _Lotus
      corniculatus_ (order _Rhamnaceæ_). Little Harebell, _Campanula
      rotundifolia_ (order _Campanulaceæ_). Eyebright, _Euphrasia
      officinalis_ (order _Scrophulariaceæ_). _Anthoxanthum odoratum._

      III. _Plants belonging to argilo-calcareous soils._--Coltsfoot,
      _Tussilago farfara_ (order _Compositæ_). Wild Mustard, _Sinapis
      arvensis_ (order _Cruciferæ_). Buckwheat, _Polygonum aviculare_
      (order _Polygonaceæ_).

      IV. _Plants belonging to a sandy and calcareous soil._--Broom,
      _Genista scoparia_ (order _Leguminosæ_). Centaury, _Centaurea
      nigra_ (order _Gentianaceæ_). _Galium verum_ (order _Rubiaceæ_).
      The Jacobea, _Seneecio Jacobæa_.

      V. _Plants belonging to alluvial and marshy soils._--Reed,
      _Arundo phragmites_, _Poa aquatica_, _Poa fluitans_. Rush,
      _Juncus conglomeratus_ (order _Juncaceæ_).

After these different soils have been brought under cultivation, the
characteristic species, which we have just enumerated, disappear,
and are replaced by other plants, which grow, to all appearance,
spontaneously, under the name of _weeds_; but, in reality, spring
from germs or seeds too frequently mixed up with the different
manures, or spread abroad by the agency of birds or the wind.

In reference to this latter consideration, the diffusion of plants,
we shall transcribe an interesting passage from Balfour's excellent
"Manual of Botany."

"Some plants," he remarks, "are disseminated generally over the
globe, while others are confined within narrow limits. Some of the
common weeds in Britain, such as chickweed, shepherd's purse, and
groundsel, are found at the southern extremity of South America.
_Laura minor_ and _trisulca_, _Convolvulus sepium_, _Phragmites
communis_, _Cedium Mariscus_, _Scirpus lacustris_, _Juncus effusus_,
and _Solanum nigrum_, are said to be common to Great Britain and New
Holland. _Nasturtium officinale_, and _Samolus Valerandi_ are very
extensively diffused, and they may be reckoned true cosmopolites.
They are both natives of Europe, and they occur, the former near
Rio Janeiro, the latter at St Vincent. _The lower the degree of
development, the greater seems to be the range._ Some cryptogamic
plants, as _Lecanora subfusca_, are found all over the globe.

"Man has been instrumental in widely distributing culinary
vegetables, such as the potato, and the cereal grains, as well as
many other plants useful for food and manufacture. Corn plants,
such as barley, oats, rye, wheat, spelt, rice, maize, and millet,
are so generally cultivated over the globe, that almost all trace
is lost of their native country. They can arrive at perfection in a
great variety of circumstances, and they have thus probably a wider
geographical range than any other kind of plants.

"As regards these plants, the globe may be divided into _five_ grand
regions--the region of _rice_, which may be said to support the
greatest number of the human race; the region of _maize_; of _wheat_;
of _rye_; and lastly, of _barley_ and _oats_. The first three are the
most extensive, and maize has the greatest range of temperature.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.--The Rye District.]

"The grains extending farthest north in Europe are barley and oats.
Rye is the next, and is the prevailing grain in Sweden and Norway,
and all the lands bordering on the Baltic, the North of Germany, and
part of Siberia. Wheat follows rye; it is cultivated in the middle
and South of France, England, part of Scotland, part of Germany,
Hungary, Crimea, and the Caucasus. We next come to a district where
wheat still abounds, but no longer exclusively furnishes bread,--rice
and maize becoming frequent. To this zone belong Portugal, Spain,
part of France, Italy, and Greece, Persia, Northern India, Arabia,
Egypt, the Canary Islands, &c. Wheat can be reared wherever the mean
temperature of the whole year is not under 37° or 39° F., and the
mean summer heat, for a period of at least three or four months, is
above 55°. It succeeds best on the limits of the sub-tropical region.
In the Scandinavian peninsula, the cultivation of barley extends to
70° N. latitude, rye to 67°, and oats to 65°. The cultivation of rice
prevails in Eastern and Southern Asia, and it is a common article
of subsistence in various countries bordering on the Mediterranean.
Maize succeeds best in the hottest and dampest parts of tropical
climates. It may be reared as far as 40° N. and S. latitude on the
American continent, on the western side; while in Europe it can grow
even to 50° or 52° of latitude. It is now cultivated in all regions
in the tropical and temperate zones which are colonised by Europeans.
Millet of different kinds is met with in the hottest parts of Africa,
in the South of Europe, in Asia Minor, and in the East Indies."[80]

Professor Houston furnishes the following table in illustration of
the distribution of _wheat_ and _barley_. It also shows the mean
temperature which they require:--


                                 Winter  Summer  Annual
                                 Mean.   Mean.   Mean.
    N. Lat. 62-1/2° Faroe,        39°     51°     45°
                 70 Lapland,      22      46      33
             67·30' Russia,        9      46      32
             57·30' Siberia,       0      60      32


                                 Winter  Summer  Annual
                                 Mean.   Mean.   Mean.

    Lat. 58° Scotland,            36°     57°     64°
             Norway,              23      59      39
             Sweden,              23      59      39
             Russia,              15      60      37
         30° Cairo,               57      88      72
             Macao,               64      82      73
             Rio Janeiro,         68      78      74
             Havannah,            71      82      77
             Bourbon,             71      80      77

"Winds, water, and animals, are also instrumental in disseminating
plants. Many seeds, with winged and feathery appendages, are easily
wafted about; others are carried by rivers and streams, and some can
be transported by the ocean currents to a great distance, with their
generating powers unimpaired."


Every year--principally in autumn--we are startled by hearing or
reading of cases of poisoning by mushrooms. Erudite connoisseurs,
however, who have profited by Dr Badham's book on "Esculent Fungi,"
do not suffer themselves to be intimidated by these sad narratives,
though, unfortunately, they are frequently too well founded; because
they know how to distinguish the good from the ill, the true from
the false, the edible from the poisonous mushroom. But this security
ought not to embolden the inexperienced amateur in risking his
life for the sake of a delicacy. It is true, nevertheless, that we
frequently see men's lives exposed for something less.

"Look, what a splendid mushroom I have discovered!" a lady said to
me, the other day; a lady who knew something of flowers, but nothing
of _cryptogams_. "Take care!" I replied, taking from her hand the
supposed prize; "this is the false mushroom; and would suffice, if
served up at your table, to poison yourself and all your guests."

I ought here to observe that my friend had narrowly escaped death
two years before, through regaling herself with a dish of mushrooms
of very dubious character. Among the symptoms which she experienced,
and which she described with medical exactness, she particularly
dwelt upon the cold sweats, accompanied by a sentiment of undefinable
terror, which is nothing else than the dread of death: it was the
special symptom of poisoning with an unwholesome fungus.

Let us endeavour to make ourselves better acquainted with this
formidable enemy of epicures. You will have no difficulty in finding
it in any warm, close season, but especially in spring and autumn.
The toadstool thrives indifferently in the shade of all the forest
trees, but seems to prefer the oak and birch to the pine and fir.
A patch of soft greensward, at the foot of an old oak, and in the
neighbourhood of a "brawling stream" or "tranquil pool," will
generally be covered with fungi of this description. The numerous
synonyms attaching to it show how greatly it has exercised the
_classifying spirit_ of our naturalists. Some call it _Agaricus
muscarius_, as if we should say "kill-fly mushroom;" others,
changing only the specific designation, designate it _Agaricus
pseudo-aurantiacus_,--which signifies, literally, "false orange," in
allusion to the beautiful yellow colour of the _true_ aurantiacus.
What is certain is, that our mushroom, which can kill men as well as
flies, belongs to the genus _Agaric_, so numerous in species that it
can be formed into a family, that of the _Agariceæ_. The Agarics, of
which the esculent mushroom (_Agaricus edulis_) represents the type,
are easily recognised by their more or less fleshy _pileus_, or cap,
garnished underneath with _lamellæ_, or gills, which radiate from the
centre to the circumference, when the pedicel is in the centre.

[Illustration: FIG. 72.--"At the foot of an old oak."]

But some cryptogamists are unwilling to recognise the _orange
mushrooms_ (_les oronges_), whether true or false, as Agarics. They
place them in a separate genus, the genus _Amanita_, though without
informing us where they found the name. Meanwhile, they justify the
formation of the new genus by the presence of the white swelling,
the _volva_, or wrapper, of the _mycelium_, or spawn, which entirely
covers both the true and the false mushroom on its emergence from the
earth. Each, then, is an _Amanita_. But now remark their specific
difference. The true mushroom, as it develops, ruptures its ovoid
wrapper, or volva, leaving the remains entirely at the base of the
pedicel; while, in the false mushroom, the débris of the volva are
formed, not only at the base of the pedicel, as in the real Agaric,
but even upon the red surface of the pileus itself: these are the
white irregular warts characteristic of the Amanita, but wholly
wanting in the Agaricus. Thus, there are two Amanitas: the _Amanita
muscaria_, or "fly agaric," and the _Amanita aurantiaca_, or, as the
English botanists call it, _Agaricus Cæsareus_, the imperial mushroom.

This fanciful "study" in nomenclature has the advantage of initiating
us into the most essential distinctive characters of the two species
in question. However, a few additional details are necessary to
complete our history.


The species seems to have been expressly created to teach our
gourmands the necessity of vigilance; that before enjoying a dainty
they must first learn to distinguish, under penalty of death, the
poisonous fungus from that which safely and pleasantly tickles
the palate. The warning is useful, moreover, as showing that even
sensualists are not wholly exempt from the law of work.

The _Amanita_, like most falsehoods, is pleasant to the sight. Its
round pileus, of a beautiful orange-red colour, spotted with white
warts, and lined with white gills, seems to invite your attention.
(Fig. 73.) Strike it down with your stick; the lamellæ or gills
underneath resemble the white leaves of a book. Its graceful stalk,
ornamented on the upper part by a well-designed necklet, is bulbous
in its lower portion; its flesh is dazzlingly white; in short, its
entire appearance is attractive. Yet it is a traitor! You little know
the depth of its wickedness. Mix a few shreds of its white flesh with
a little milk; every fly which drinks of the mixture will, in a few
seconds, fall dead, their swollen abdomen bearing testimony to the
effect of the poison. And in many districts of Germany, particularly
in Thuringia, the peasants make use of it to rid themselves of the
swarms of flies which, towards the close of summer, infest their
habitations. It is thus that man may frequently turn to his advantage
those objects of nature which, at the first glance, appear injurious
rather than useful.

[Illustration: FIG. 73.--The _Amanita Muscaria_.]

Various experiments have been essayed to test the intoxicating
influence of our _Amanita_. Bulliard, author of the "Histoire des
Champignons de France," made two cats partake of it. Six hours
afterwards, these animals, who are so tenacious of life, were dead.

Haller, in his "Histoire des Plantes Vénéneuses de la Suisse," says
that "the _Agaricus muscarius_ (_Amanita muscaria_) cannot be eaten
with impunity, six Lithuanians having died of it; and in Kamtschatka
it has been known to excite deadly attacks of delirium, accompanied
by so deep a despondency, that those who have eaten of it would
fain fling themselves into the fire, or fall upon their knives or
daggers." This, however, we take to be an exaggeration. The truth
is, that in Kamtschatka it is used to produce intoxication; and such
is its strength, it imparts an intoxicating property to the urine
of those who swallow it. When the fungus itself is not at hand, the
would-be drunkard frequently resorts to this nauseous potion.

The flesh of the _Amanita_ is not yellow. Yet Vicat speaks of
poisonings produced by the _Yellow Amanita_. "I had much difficulty,"
says this physician, "in saving two families of Lausanne, poisoned
through eating a very small quantity of mushrooms, which the father
in the one case, and the mother in the other, had mistaken for
_Agarici Cæsarei_, though they were both esteemed great connoisseurs,
and especially in this species; nor had they been once deceived for
upwards of thirty years, until they indulged themselves in this
delicious but deceitful dish."

These poisonings could have been occasioned only by the _Amanita_.
Some varieties exist, in which the under surface of the pileus is
yellow, but the flesh is white. To one of these varieties Vicat's
anecdote probably refers.

Thus, the _Amanita formosa_ of Persoon has pedicel, pileus, and
warts of the pileus, of a citron yellow. It is but a variety of the
_Amanita muscaria_.

The _Amanita umbrina_ of the same botanist (the _Agaricus
pantherinus_ of De Candolle) has an olive-coloured pileus; its
surface, like that of _Amanita muscaria_, is covered with white

The _Amanita solitarius_ is distinguished by the size of its
umbilical cap,--sometimes depressed in the centre,--which is
furnished with a great number of white or pale brown scales; when
fully developed, it measures from thirty to forty centimetres in
diameter. The pedicel is bulbous, with a membranous ring, white as
snow, clasped around it; at the base it is clothed in pellicles, the
remains of its scaly volva. The flesh is firm, thick, and white.
You rarely meet with more than two or three individuals in the
same locality; hence its name of _solitarius_. Bulliard speaks of
the flesh as good to eat, when cooked on a gridiron, and seasoned
with fresh butter, salt, and pepper. It is possible. But as it is
so easily confused with the poisonous species, the author of the
"Histoire des Champignons" would have done better to prohibit its
consumption, whether eatable or not.

We may now turn to the method adopted by Dr Vicat to save the lives
of the two families at Lausanne, who, as we have seen, were poisoned
by partaking of the _Amanita_:--

       *       *       *       *       *

I dissolved, he says, six grains of tartar emetic in a litre of
water, and from time to time administered a spoonful to my patients;
moreover, I made them swallow floods of warm water, sweetened with a
little honey,--that is, a large tea-spoonful of honey to a cupful of

I had much difficulty to get one of the sufferers, who was sixty
years old, to swallow the first few spoonfuls. He was plunged into
a lethargic insensibility differing in no respect from complete
apoplexy; his teeth were closely set. Those whom I had ordered
to administer the mixture had given it up, after several useless
attempts; and in all probability the old man would have sunk, had I
not had the patience to hold, for some hours, against his teeth the
back of the blade of a small silver knife, so as to profit by the
few moments when the teeth were a little less firmly clenched. I
used some force to make the blade act as a wedge, and after a while
opened up a passage to the handle, which, serving as a lever, forced
the jaws sufficiently apart to admit the introduction of a spoonful
of the emetic. It was not, however, until fully two hours had passed
that the patient, having undoubtedly swallowed the necessary dose,
began to vomit, with strenuous efforts and frightful cries. This
was at midnight. Four in the morning arrived before, after numerous
alternations of vomiting and profound lethargy, he began to speak,
and then like a man in delirium. After the first vomit, which was
inconsiderable, the convulsions of his whole body were so very
violent as to require four men to hold him, while I continued to make
use of my knife as at first. Nor did I desist until I was satisfied
that his stomach had been sufficiently cleansed. After this, I
applied two strong blisters to the back of his legs. As these acted,
the purging subsided, and at the end of twenty-four hours it had
passed away entirely, the invalid finding himself as well as could
be expected after sustaining so severe a shock. The other patients,
who were not in so much danger, experienced twitchings and tremblings
in the face, which quite disfigured them; the brain seemed a blank;
though awake, they felt as in a dream, and their visions were most

It is evident, from these particulars, that mushroom-poisoning
specially affects the encephalic nervous system, and that the best
remedies are emetics and antispasmodics. In our present ignorance of
what are the poisonous principles in the _Amanita_, we can adopt no
other method than a chemical neutralisation.


In this mushroom, for which, as we have seen, the _Amanita_ is too
frequently mistaken, the inside as well as the outside is yellow;
the upper surface of the pileus, which is equally free from scales
and warts, is, however, of a reddish yellow, like that of an orange
(whence the popular French name, _la vrai oronge_); all the other
parts are of a beautiful citron hue. This agaric exhales an agreeable
odour, combined apparently of the scent of the vanilla and the
truffle. It decomposes rapidly, and when in a state of advanced
putridity, the fragrance I speak of is succeeded by--well, by a
fearful stench! When young, and still completely covered with its
wrapper or _volva_ (this, in the _Amanita_, is imperfect), it is very
like a hen's egg which has been partly buried in the ground so as
to expose only the larger end. It seems partial to solitude; more
than four or five are seldom found in the same locality. Moreover,
in autumn it affects the same habitats as the _Amanita_,--which is

It would seem that our imperial mushroom was specially appreciated by
the ancients, and it is said that Nero pronounced it a dish fit for
the gods. In this circumstance originated the scientific name which
has now become popular, and which was first applied to it by the
cryptogamist Fries, _Agaricus Cæsareus_.

[Illustration: FIG. 74.--The Imperial Mushroom.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Boletus_ of Pliny appears to have been our Agaricus, and not
one of our _Boleti_, which are easily recognised by the numerous
tubercular projections covering the under part of the pileus. In
proof of this I would point out that the Roman naturalist, after
speaking of the _Boleti_ as genuine delicacies, immediately inveighs
against them as dangerously poisonous. He relates that it was with
one of these, or rather with one of the false mushrooms so easily
mistaken for the true, that Agrippina poisoned the Emperor Claudius,
to secure the imperial crown for her son Nero.[81]

The virtues of the mushrooms have been sung by Juvenal and Martial.
The latter accurately distinguishes the true from the false, when
reproaching Cæcilianus with his gluttony.

"Ah, you are used to devour your _Boleti_ alone, in the face of your
invited guests; eat then, the _Boletus_ which Claudius ate!"

    "Dic mihi, quis furor est? Turba spectante vocata,
    Solus boletos, Cæciliane, voras.
    Quid dignum tanto tibi ventri, gulaque precabor?
    Boletum, qualem Claudius edit, edas."[82]

The best known and most valuable species of Agarici may be briefly

      _Agaricus campestris_, or _Common Mushroom_, found in nearly all
      temperate regions: pileus convex, and white, with a tinge of
      brown; thick set on the under side with dark brown gills; stem
      firm and fleshy, and surrounded by a white membranous ring.

      _Agaricus Cæsareus_, or _Imperial Mushroom_, the _Kaiserling_ of
      the Germans, already described.

      _Agaricus deliciosus_, or _Orange-milked Agaric_, found in
      coverts of fir and juniper; pileus viscid, orange, and upwards of
      four inches broad; gills and juice of a fine orange colour.

      _Agaricus procerus_, or _Parasol Mushroom_, found in the shade of
      trees, on meadows with a sandy soil; stem from eight to twelve
      inches high, with a thick spongy ring; pileus bell-shaped, and
      covered with brown scales.

      _Agaricus Virgineus_, or _White Field Agaric_, found in rich
      moist pastures; pileus whitish, and convex; gills of a light
      chocolate shade; stem nearly two inches broad.

      _Agaricus eburneus_, or _Ivory Mushroom_, found in beech woods;
      grayish-yellow pileus; broad gills; stem long and scaly.

      _Agaricus Georgii_, _St George's Agaric_, or _Whitecaps_, found
      in moist pastures, and in the shelter of old barns, farmhouses,
      and churches; flesh yellow; gills yellowish-white; pileus twelve
      to eighteen inches broad; the least valuable of British species
      of agaric, but useful in ketchup-making.

      _Agaricus oreades_, _Fairy-ring Mushroom_, or _Scotch bonnets_,
      found in meadows, where it grows in circles known as "fairy
      rings;" pileus seldom exceeds an inch in diameter; stem solid,
      tough, and fibrous, with a boss or _umbo_ in the centre, of a
      light brown colour; the flesh white, and of a pleasant odour.

      _Agaricus odorus_, _Anise Mushroom_, or _Sweet-scented Agaric_;
      pileus slightly convex, about three inches broad, and with pale
      gills; the scent like that of anise; stem strong, fleshy, but not
      very tall.

      _Agaricus formosus_, or _Smoky Mushroom_; so called from the
      colour of the upper surface of the pileus; the stalk and gills of
      a pale yellow; grows in fir woods.

      _Agaricus primulus_, or _Mousseron_, grows in woods and pastures,
      where the soil is sandy; pileus convex, yellow, about three or
      four inches in diameter; gills change from white to flesh colour.

_How many Vegetable Species exist over the whole surface of the

I will not do my readers the injustice to suppose that they are
unacquainted with the writings of our greatest English poetess,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning. They will not fail to have been attracted
by the prodigal genius, the superabundant power, the exquisite
imagery, the profound spirit of tenderness, the high, pure thoughts,
which render almost every page such delightful reading. Successful as
she was, however, in giving expression to the most subtle emotions
and the intensest feeling, I think she was even happier in her
descriptions of scenery. These are invariably aglow with life and
colour, and have all the fidelity of Creswick with the imaginative
insight of Turner. Turning over her "Aurora Leigh," the other day, I
lighted on the following beautiful picture:--

    "I flattered all the beauteous country round,
    As poets use--the skies, the clouds, the fields,
    The happy violets, hiding from the roads
    The primroses run down to, carrying gold--
    The tangled hedgerows, where the rows push out
    Their tolerant horns and patient churning mouths
    'Twixt dripping ash-boughs--hedgerows all alive
    With birds, and gnats, and large white butterflies,
    Which look as if the May-flower had caught life
    And palpitated forth upon the wind:
    Hills, vales, woods, netted in a silver mist;
    Farms, granges, doubled up among the hills,
    And cattle grazing in the watered vales,
    And cottage chimneys smoking from the woods,
    And cottage gardens smelling everywhere,
    Confused with smell of orchards."

[Illustration: FIG. 75.--"And cattle grazing in the watered vales."]

As I read this fine passage, the thought occurred to me, how many
thousands there are who, in such a scene as it so vividly depicts,
would see no beauty whatever, whose heart would not respond to
it, whose sympathies would not be aroused by all its variety of
outline and all its rich magnificence of colour! Yet not in so wide
a landscape alone, but in the smallest nook,--in the little clump
of elms by the side of the stream, in yonder grassy knoll rising
straight up from the old churchyard, in the quiet angle of the green
pasture-meadows,--there is a whole world of wonder and beauty for him
who has eyes to see and a heart to feel! Look at the flowery bank
which runs along the side of an English lane. Is it not crowded with
objects of the rarest and purest interest? Count the many varieties
of grasses which clothe it so abundantly, count the many species of
flowers and herbs which adorn it with a grace beyond all human skill,
and acknowledge that in itself it might supply the inquirer with
matter for years of study and meditation.

Pursuing this train of thought, I was led to think of the number
of genera and species into which the plant world is divided,--a
remarkable proof, not only of the power and wisdom, but of the
goodness of the Creator, of His desire to furnish man with
inexhaustible sources of pleasure and entertainment; and finally, to
put to myself the question, How many vegetable species exist over the
whole surface of the globe? If this corner of a leafy English lane is
so rich in variety, what must be the case with "the wide, wide world?"

I was now brought to see that a question so difficult could, like so
many others, be usefully approached only by its _inferior limit_;
in other words, that in the actual condition of botanical science,
we can but affirm the number which certainly _exceeds_ the sum of
the vegetable species scattered over the surface of our earth. To
determine this total with mathematical accuracy, we should need to
have explored the terrestrial crust, liquid and solid, land and
water, from the bed of ocean to the line of perpetual snow, and
from the equator to the poles. And as yet we are very far from
having obtained so complete a possession of the planet which has
been assigned as a dwelling-place to our poor humanity,--alas, more
presumptuous than powerful!

       *       *       *       *       *

The number of plants mentioned by Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and
Pliny, whom we take to be the representatives of ancient botany,
does not exceed five hundred species. How very few, compared with
the presumable total! The Middle Ages added scarcely anything to the
botanical researches of antiquity. It is only since the discovery of
America that we have seen the domain of Flora extending itself in
unexpected proportions. But we must come down to the epoch of Linnæus
(the middle of the eighteenth century) before we can obtain an
accurate list of species, scientifically classified. Murray's edition
of the "_Specilegium_" of Linnæus contains two thousand and forty-two
species, including the Cryptogams. Wildmore, in another edition of
the same great work, raised the total to twenty thousand. And this
was the point at which our botanists had arrived when the nineteenth
century opened.

But it was not long before they perceived that all these estimates,
large as they seemed, fell immeasurably short of the reality. In
attempting to distribute the different species among the then known
regions of the globe, Alexander von Humboldt arrived at a total of
forty-four thousand species, Phanerogams and Cryptogams included. De
Candolle extended the estimate to upwards of fifty-six thousand.

Let us divide, in fancy, the earth into two parts,--one which has
been visited by travellers, and one which still remains to be
explored. Can you determine which would present the larger area? The

Thus we possess but a very imperfect knowledge of the luxuriant, the
glowing vegetation of the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the
New World, in spite of the labours of Bates, Agassiz, Wallace, and
others. To the north of the equator, we know very little of the flora
of Yucatan, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the isthmus of Panama, the Chaco
of Antioquius, the province of Los Pastos. We are not much better
acquainted with the vegetation of the countries south of the equator.
What do we know of the manifold species flourishing in Paraguay, in
the province of the Missions, in the immense wooded region between
the Ucayali, the Rio de la Madeira, and the Tocantin, three affluents
of the mighty river Amazon? We know scarcely anything.

Our ignorance increases if from America we pass to Africa. Nearly
the whole interior of this continent, from 15° N. latitude to 20°
S. latitude, is, botanically speaking, a blank to us. The same is
the case with the greater portion of Central Asia. The floras of the
south and south-east of Arabia are still sealed letters,--treasuries
to which we have not found the key. As much may be said of the floras
of the countries situated between the Thian-Schan, the Kuenlung, and
the Himalaya, as well as of the floras of western China, and most of
the trans-Gangetic countries. We know still less of the vegetation of
the interior of Madagascar, Borneo, New Guinea, and the greater part
of Australia. To conclude: we are probably not acquainted with more
than one-fifth of the vegetable species which cover the surface of
our globe.

There are regions, moreover, which we imagine will always lie
outside of our sphere of investigation; such, for instance, are
the Polar regions, properly so called. Undoubtedly, it is open to
us to conjecture that the Poles--those two extremities of our axis
of planetary rotation--are not the home of any form of life. But
this is only a conjecture; we are even without an analogy for it;
since we have found, as shown in an earlier chapter of the present
volume, living beings, plants, and animals, among the snows of our
loftiest mountains. Moreover, might not the auroras, whose maximum
of intensity occurs exactly at the poles, render life possible in
regions where we at present suppose it to be _im_possible? Conjecture
for conjecture,--acknowledge that we here touch in both cases upon an
element completely beyond our human power.

       *       *       *       *       *

These, then, are the reasons why, at present, we can only venture
upon defining the _lower_ limit, the _restricted_ number, above which
we are unable to fix the total of vegetable species living on the
surface of our planet.

The method to be adopted has been indicated by Alexander von Humboldt
in his "Ansichten der Natur" ("Pictures of Nature"). His method
consists in the comparison of the vegetable families whose numerical
relations are _known_, with the number of species contained in our
herbariums, or cultivated in our botanical gardens.

But here, at the outset, a difficulty confronts us. Does any relation
exist between the classification of plants by natural families and by
their geographical distribution?

To group plants according to their analogies of structure, we study
them from an abstract point of view, and without any regard to the
medium in which they flourish. The question grows complicated if we
also take into consideration their characteristic conditions and
their distribution over the terrestrial surface. Families are then
split asunder, and the importance of our scientific classifications

The gathering together of a small number of species, represented by
innumerable individuals, confined within the same area, may suffice
to communicate to a landscape its characteristic physiognomy: as,
for example, is the case with the Asiatic steppes, the _landes_ of
Brittany, the moors of Scotland, the palm-groves and the clumps of
Cactaceæ of tropical America. By the side of species which impress us
by their _mass_--that is, by the frequent reproduction of the same
individuals at an infinitesimal distance from one another--are placed
those much more numerous species which are everywhere very thinly

But do the plants themselves follow, from the equator to the poles,
the same law of _decrease_ as obtains from the base to the summit of
the loftiest equatorial mountains?

Under identical isothermal lines, is the ratio of families known and
identified to the probable aggregate of Phanerogams the same, in the
temperate zone, on either side of the equator?

What are the vegetable families which preponderate at the two
extremes, represented by the torrid and the frigid zones?

Under the same geographical latitude, or between the same isothermal
lines, are the Synantheræ, the Gramineæ, the Leguminosæ, the Labiatæ,
the Cruciferæ, the Umbelliferæ, more numerous in the Old than in the
New World?

What families, either through their mass of individuals or their
number of species, take precedence of the other Phanerogams?

How many species of one and the same family belong to any particular

What groups or families are characteristic of each zone?

Is the present classification of genera and species in all respects
what could be desired?

       *       *       *       *       *

These are questions that require to be considered, and to some of
them we shall presently attempt replies.

Herbariums, though their classification is too frequently imperfect,
may furnish us with data of great utility. The great herbarium of
Benjamin Delessert was estimated, after his death, to contain 86,000
species,--a total not widely differing from that which Lindley, in
1835, estimated as the probable aggregate of the vegetable species of
the world.

Great in importance are botanic gardens. Loudon, in his _Hortus
Britannicus_ (ed. 1832), places at 22,660 the number of Phanerogams
cultivated in the gardens of the Bristol amateur botanists. With
this number we must not confound the living species exhibited, in
other counties, in gardens designed for the instruction of students,
nor the grand total reared for a similar purpose at Kew. Kunth's
enumeration, in 1861, of the plants at the Botanic Gardens at Berlin,
one of the richest in Europe, amounted to upwards of 14,000 species,
including 375 heaths. Among the Phanerogams were 1600 Synantheræ,
1150 Leguminosæ, 428 Labiatæ, 370 Umbelliferæ, 460 Orchidaceæ, 60
Palmaceæ, 600 Gramineæ and Cyperaceæ, &c. By comparing these data
with the number of species described in the works of De Candolle,
Walpers, Bentham, Lindley, Kunth, and others, we find that in the
Berlin gardens are cultivated only one-seventh of the known species
of the Synantheræ, one-eighth of the Leguminosæ, one-ninth of the
Gramineæ, and about one-fiftieth of the smaller families, such as the
Labiatæ and Umbelliferæ.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, if we admit that, on the one hand, the number of phanerogamous
species cultivated in all the great gardens of Europe is about
30,000, and, on the other, that the cultivated Phanerogams form about
one-eighth part of the species described in books and preserved in
herbariums, we obtain a total of 24,000 species.

But the Cryptogams, or Agams, such as heaths, mosses, lichens,
mushrooms, fungi, mould, and the like, of which our knowledge, as
yet, is very imperfect, are probably much more numerous in species
than the Phanerogams; for these vegetables, mostly microscopical,
develop themselves wherever life can manifest itself--on the barren
and denuded rocks, as well as in the air and in the depths of the
ocean. If we suppose that they exceed only by 2000 the estimated
number of Phanerogams, we shall obtain a total of just half-a-million!

Such, in our opinion, is the number which approximatively represents
the lower limit of the aggregate of vegetable species (phanerogamous
and cryptogamous) inhabiting our planet. The innumerable individuals
of this half-million of species are born, and live, and reproduce
their kind, and die, like the twelve hundred millions of individuals
of our solitary human species. The former, it is true, remain fixed
to the soil which has witnessed their birth, while the latter wander,
more or less freely over the terrestrial surface. Do not animals
enjoy the same privilege of locomotion? Undoubtedly. But men boast of
the reason and the conscience with which they are endowed. Agreed.
But with the exception of a small number--the infinite minority of
progress--to what advantage have men employed the reason and the
conscience of which they boast?

       *       *       *       *       *

But this is a digression. We proceed to place before the reader
a few final data in illustration of the subject we have been
considering--the number of existing vegetable species.

The following is an estimate of the known species of plants on the
globe at different dates:--

                                 Phanerogams.  Cryptogams.  Total.
    According to Linnæus, 1753,     5,323           615      5,938
                 Pusoon,  1807,    19,949         6,000     25,949
                 Stendel, 1824,    39,684        10,765     50,649
                 Stendel, 1841,    78,000        13,000     91,000
                 Stendel, 1844,    80,000        15,000     95,000

The advance made of late years in the knowledge of existing species
will be apparent from a consideration of Lindley's estimate in 1846:--

                      Genera.   Species.
    Thallogens,         939       8,394
    Acrogens,           310       4,086
    Rhizogens,           21          53
    Endogens,         1,420      13,684
    Dictyogens,          17         268
    Gymnogens,           37         210
    Exogens,          6,191      16,225
                     ------     -------
             Total,   8,935      92,920

According to Hinds, the following families are almost entirely
restricted to particular divisions of the globe:--

      _To Europe_--Globulariaceæ, Ceratophyllaceæ.

      _To Asia_--Dipterocarpaceæ, Aquilariaceæ, Camelliaceæ,
      Moringaceæ, Stilaginaceæ.

      _To Africa_--Bruniaceæ, Brexiaceæ, Belvisiaceæ, Penæaceæ.

      _To North America_--Sarraceniaceæ.

      _To South America_--Rhizobolaceæ, Gillesiaceæ, Calyceraceæ,
      Vochysiaceæ, Simarubaceæ, Monimiaceæ, Humiriaceæ, Papayaceæ,
      Gesneraceæ, Lacistemaceæ.

      _To Australasia_--Goodeniaceæ, Epacridaceæ, Stackhousiaceæ,
      Brunoniaceæ, Tremandraceæ.

[A group of plants occurring only in one of the six great divisions
of the world is called _monomic_, (from μονος _one_, and νομὸς,
a _region_).

A group common to two divisions is _dinomic_; to three, _trinomic_;
to four, _quatrinomic_; to all the divisions, _polynomic_.]


      (_fam._ Articaceæ),
      (_fam._ Sapindaceæ),


      (_fam._ Rutaceæ),
      (_fam._ Ehretiaceæ),
      (_fam._ Verbenaceæ),
      (_fam._ Goodeniaceæ),
      (_fam._ Loganiaceæ),


"I very much wish," said my friend T. to me one day, "to buy a small
estate in the vicinity of ---- Forest. If there should be one to
sell, pray let me know of it."

It was not long before an opportunity arose for my friend to satisfy
his desire. But after I had made him acquainted with it, he declared
himself no longer willing to purchase a property in a district where,
as he had learned, one was devoured by _red beasts_ all through the
finest months of the year. What a frightful neighbourhood to live
in, where you were forbidden to walk in your garden under pain of
catching an itch in your legs!

Unquestionably, it is only too true that the cultivated ground,
whether on the northern or the southern slope of the forest, is
infested, from the beginning of summer to the beginning of winter,
by Lilliputian horrors, like so many tiny red points, which cling
obstinately to the skin, and there deposit, under the epidermis,
their microscopic brood. Once planted there, the _rougets_, as the
French call them, or _harvest bugs_, as we English call them, effect
considerable mischief; and if, to relieve one's self, one indulges
in "a scratch," the cutaneous surface is quickly covered by small
blisters, which on a cursory examination might be taken for a skin
affection not generally named in polite hearing.

But one does not perceive the galleries excavated by these annoying
insects, positive tunnels or covered ways, through which they proceed
to pour forth elsewhere the superfluity of their numerous progeny.
Less prolific than the _Acari_, which create upon the skin immense
patches of irritation, the harvest bugs confine themselves to a few
circumscribed localities: their favourite choice being the legs, the
arms, and the corners of the eyes, especially among young children.
They are not above domestic animals; cats and dogs frequently suffer
from them,--not, indeed, over the whole surface of the body, for they
are not so wandering as the _Acari_,--but particularly inside the
shell of the ear.

At the first glance you would scarcely believe that those red points,
apparently immovable, could be living beings,--could be animals
belonging to an order of some importance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us attempt to isolate one of the animalcules with the point of a
pin: it is not an easy thing to do, because they usually adhere to
the epidermis in clusters of three or four individuals. There, now we
have succeeded, and here is one before us: it is only the fifth of
a millimètre in diameter, which is, for most people, the very last
limit of the visual function (see the small white line in Fig. 76,
_a_). And, in truth, it _would_ be imperceptible to the eye but for
its bright red colour. To study it carefully, of course, you must
make use of a very strong lens, or, rather, of a microscope. (See
Fig. 76, _b_.)

[Illustration: FIG. 76.--_a Leptus Autumnalis_ (nat. size). _b_ Ditto

To this tiny animal has been given the name of _Leptus autumnalis_;
the first, on account of its extreme delicacy; the second, because
it is visible up to the end of autumn.

When examined through a microscope, it produces on the spectator the
impression of a spider; but, like all other insects, it has only six

Our naturalists, however, have found some difficulty in classifying
it; and by way of cutting the Gordian knot of their embarrassments,
some have placed it in a separate family of _Microphthiræ_ (literally
"little lice"), which is made to include all Arachnidæ with six legs.
Others, who regard the wheat worm as an insect, rank it among the
parasitical Apteræ.

In effect, it has all the characters of the parasitical insect--its
protracted head, distinct from the rest of its body, is sometimes
thrust forward in quest of its food, sometimes drawn back or
concealed, to protect it from danger. Intended to suck rather than
to knead or bruise, it has a sucker, but no mandibles. The head is
without antennæ, and its palpi are very short, barely visible, and
of a conical form. The body is ovular and very soft (whence the
Grecian name _leptus_, λεπτός, signifying "soft"). The anterior
part, corresponding to the thorax, is broader than it is long, and
is marked underneath, on each side of the central line, by a black
point: these two points, symmetrically placed, appear to represent
the eyes.

The posterior portion, corresponding to the abdomen, is longer than
it is broad, and covered with hairs. Each leg consists of six joints,
easily distinguished by the hairs inserted at each articulation; and
each terminates in a couple of strong crooked _claws_, which enable
the animal to obtain a firm hold on the skin.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus, then, to judge from the aggregate of its characters, the
harvest bug, _Leptus autumnalis_, belongs to the class Arachnidæ,
while the number of its feet places it in the class Insects. But this
is a detail which causes little annoyance to a person being devoured
by the "red beasts," and only anxious to rid himself of them.

But if such be his desire, let me tell him that the best remedies are
bathing the afflicted part with lotions of vinegar, or rubbing it
with sulphur ointment.

I have been asked whether certain tiny parasites, such as the
_Ocypete rubra_,--which is also red, and has six feet like the
_Leptus autumnalis_, but which, instead of attacking man and his
domestic companions, attaches itself to flies,--I have been asked
whether these insectiform Arachnidæ may not be species of larva not
yet arrived at their matured condition.

For my part, I must acknowledge that, whether the _Ocypete rubra_
is or is not the transitory state of a more perfect animal, I do
not know. But I am sure that the _Leptus autumnalis_ lives and dies
on the skin where it has selected its dwelling-place,--a _living_

       *       *       *       *       *

It is impossible to be too circumspect in the determination of
certain genera and species, whose different phases of existence
are little known, and which seem, so far as their characteristics
are concerned, to participate of several orders or classes of
articulated animals. The errors which have been committed in this
respect ought at least to teach us caution.

Thus, the red, oval, six-legged animalcules, whose mobile heads are
furnished with a proboscis shaped like an angular beak, and whose
two palpi are large and semi-transparent,--the singular animalcules
which, in June or July, are hatched in the spongy stems of certain
aquatic vegetables,--notably the _Potamogeton natans_,--have been
described[83] as forming a peculiar genus of Arachnidæ, the genus
_Achlysia_; and this genus, created by Audouin, was ranked along
with the _Leptus_ and _Ocypete_ in the family of Microphthiræ. Yet
nothing is less exact. These Achlysia are simply the larvæ of a kind
of _Hydrachna_ or water-acarus. To be convinced of this, you have
but to watch their development. At first very small and pear-shaped,
these larvæ, deprived, like all larvæ, of the reproductive organs,
rapidly increase in size. At the end of a few weeks you will see
them adhering to a leaf of potamogeton; they thrust their proboscis
into the stem, and cling to it with their palpi. Little by little,
the legs, the proboscis, and the palpi, are drawn back towards the
body, abandoning the skin which has hitherto formed for each of these
organs a kind of horny sheath. From the larva state, the animal
passes into that of the nymph. But this nymph continues to feed and
enlarge; proboscis, legs, and palpi grow thinner and harder; claws,
ciliæ, and hairs are developed; and, finally, through a fissure in
the skin emerges the perfect animal, red as wine, with eight feet,
and about two millimetres in length. This animal, placed in the
family of the _Hydrachnellæ_, has been described by De Geer under
the name of _Acarus aquaticus globosus_, and by Dugès under that of
_Hydrachna globosa_, on account of its globular form.


From the crust of a dry old cheese,--such a kind of cheese as a
_bon-vivant_ likes with a glass of "good old ale,"--a very fine
powder often crumbles off, like the dust made by wood-eating worms.

Examine this powder with your lens, or if you have good eyes, you may
make use of _them_. You will quickly detect something moving in it,
and by degrees you will see that this movement pervades the whole
mass; that there is a general stir and commotion in all directions.

But you find it impossible to distinguish clearly the form of the
animals which are thus agitated. You are certain, however, that they
are not maggots, for _they_ affect moist cheeses; besides, they are
visible enough to everybody, and at need can make themselves _felt_
upon your hands, and even upon your face, for they have a faculty of
launching themselves to a distance by a little manœuvre familiar
enough to serpents: bringing the head round towards the tail, they
curve themselves like the spring of a watch, then abruptly uncoiling
themselves with the help of some solid _appui_, they fling forth into
the air, and are thus launched to very considerable distances. It is
a curious species of locomotion, not unworthy the attention of the

To clear up the mystery of a movement whose cause is not apparent at
the first glance, let us sprinkle with this impalpable débris,--with
this kind of sawdust, or _cheese_-dust,--a little strip of glass, and
place it beneath the focus of a microscope.

Ah! you exclaim, what a frightful creature! These long sharp ciliæ
seem to be so many lancets covering the whole body, and especially
the legs; its head, like that of the harvest-bug, protrudes and
recedes under a transparent carapace; thus communicating to the
animal something of the aspect of a turtle. In all other respects
its form exactly resembles the harvest-bug; only its body is more
elongated towards the anterior extremity than that of the latter.
While the harvest-bug makes us think of a spider, the body of the
Acarus has a greater likeness to an insect's. (Fig. 77.) Yet the
Acarus has eight legs, like a spider, and the harvest-bug six, like
an insect. Attempt, then, to establish your absolute rules!

[Illustration: FIG. 77.--The _Acarus domesticus_.]

Let us continue our observation of this cheese-worm. The well-defined
thorax forms nearly one-third of the fore-part of the body, which is
of a shining whitish-red or reddish-white. The proboscis, shaped like
a conical tube, is armed with two projecting mandibles, which, like
true pincers, can be brought close together, or moved wide apart,
thrust forward singly or simultaneously. Our animal, which a small
lens makes very distinct, has been more than once confounded with the
_Sarcoptes scabiei_.

Let us resume. Our cheese-dust, which to all appearance walks alone,
encloses legions of mites; the old you may detect by their eight
feet, the young by having six. The germs, or eggs, whence they
spring, are found mixed among the excrements of the living, and the
débris of the dead.

It is in this way that a crust of cheese offers us a true, a vivid
image of the terrestrial crust. So may we learn to compare small
things with great.


In the present condition of scientific knowledge, no satisfactory
answer can be given to this important and most interesting question.

The truth is, that what we may call Geographical Zoology is as yet
in its very infancy. The few works which have been published on the
subject have been published within the last eighty or ninety years;
and they embrace only the vertebrate animals, notably the mammals,
birds, and reptiles, or amphibia. We shall attempt to place before
the reader an outline of the results that have so far been obtained.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of all the Vertebrata, we are best acquainted with the mammals. And
yet our zoologists differ very widely in respect to the number of
their species, though the calculations have been made at very short
intervals. For instance, in 1829, Minding computed that the globe
contained 1230 species of mammals. In 1832, Charles Bonaparte reduced
the total to 1149. Oken estimates it at 1500; and this last figure
would seem to be the most probable.

Nothing is more curious than the distribution of these 1500 species
of mammals, according to the different regions and climates of the

Man, according to the best-considered data of science, forms a single
family, a single genus, a single species. He alone possesses the
power of adapting himself to every climate, and of taking possession
of countries the most widely opposite in character. We find him
among the snows of the North Pole; we find him under the blazing
sun of the Tropics. We find him in the palm-fringed islands of
Southern Seas, and in the barren burning waste of the inhospitable
Sahara. Considered as an animal who feeds and reproduces himself,
he forms alone the order of _Bimana_; so named in opposition to the
_Quadrumana_, or apes, who make use of their fore-feet as we do of
our two hands. Deprive man of his progressive and transmissible
intellect--of those mysterious powers which we call the mind and
the soul--and he would become at once the most useless and the most
wretched member of the animal world.

The warm regions of the old and new continents are the true home and
haunt of the apes. They are not sufficiently developed to be able to
frequent the temperate or frigid zone. In our European menageries the
specimens nearly all die of consumption. The Quadrumana form about
one-fourteenth of the whole number of species of Mammalia.

      The _Carnivora_, characterised by the development of their canine
      teeth, are spread over the whole globe. They are found in greater
      numbers in the torrid, however, than in the frigid zone. Their
      species compose at least one-third of the Mammalia.

      The _Rodentia_, characterised by the development of the incisors,
      are wanting in Polynesia, and are rare in Australia. They are
      found in their maximum number in the torrid zone. Like the
      Carnivora, they form about one-third of the Mammalia.

      The _Ruminantia_, remarkable for the development of their
      digestive apparatus, are distributed into 165 species,
      representing something less than one-ninth of the Mammalia.
      Africa, of all the continents, is richest in the Ruminants.

      The _Marsupialia_, so strangely distinguished by the membranous
      pouch in which they enclose their young, belong to America, and
      especially Australia. At present about 123 species are known, or
      a little more than one-thirteenth of the Mammalia.

      The _Edentata_, so named on account of their incomplete
      dentition, inhabit the tropical regions of the Old and New
      World. They are distributed into 32 species, 19 of which belong
      to America. The Edentata, therefore, do not form more than
      one-fiftieth of the Mammalia.

      The _Pachydermata_, which owe their name to the thickness of
      their skin or hide, almost exclusively belong to the Old World.
      None are found in Australia. The number of their species is 38,
      of which 5 only belong to Southern and Central America. The
      Pachyderms form, therefore, nearly one-thirty-seventh of the

      The _Cetaceæ_,--which the naturalists of antiquity ranked among
      the fishes, though the females bear their young alive, and
      are furnished with a mammary apparatus,--chiefly frequent the
      Northern waters, but some of their species are found in the South
      Pacific. They represent, it may be assumed, about a one-hundredth
      part of the Mammalia.

      The _Birds_, by their feather-clad bodies, and by the
      transformation of their two fore-limbs into wings, form the
      best-characterised class in the whole animal kingdom. But
      naturalists can no more agree as to the number of their species
      than as to the number of species composing the Mammalia. Some,
      taking as a foundation the rich ornithological collection in the
      Berlin Museum, allow for 6000 species being distributed over the
      surface of the globe; others, like Lessen, increase the total to
      6266; while Dr Gray, no mean authority, raises it to at least

The majority of the _Raptores_, or birds of prey (vulture, falcon,
eagle), as well as nearly all the _Waders_ (stork, crane, heron), and
_Palmipedes_ (duck, goose, water-hen), are cosmopolitan birds. The
other orders, such as the _Scansores_ (parrot, parroquet, magpie),
the _Passeres_ (comprising nearly all the singing birds), and the
_Gallinaceæ_ (pheasant, pintado), prefer, as a general rule, the warm
temperate regions. They are not found in the extreme north, nor in
the equatorial climes, except in limited numbers.


_Assumed total, 1600 species._

    Bimana             form   1     species.
    Quadrumana          "   105 (?)    "
    Carnivora           "   510 (?)    "
    Rodentia            "   508 (?)    "
    Ruminantia          "   165        "
    Marsupialia         "   123        "
    Edentata            "   152        "
    Pachydermata        "    38        "
    Cetaceæ             "    18 (?)    "

[Of course, the foregoing is but an approximative estimate, but it
will provide the reader with a tolerably accurate notion of the
proportion borne by the different classes of Mammalia.]

       *       *       *       *       *

About 5000 species of birds have been classified. By Cuvier's system
they are divided into six orders:--

      1. _Raptores_, or birds of prey.

      2. _Passerine birds_, now generally called _Insessores_, or

      3. _Scansores_, or Climbing, frequently called _Zygodactyli_ or
      _Zygodactylous_ birds.

      4. _Gallinaceæ_, now more frequently known as _Rasores_.

      5. _Grallatores_, Waders, or Stilt birds.

      6. _Palmipedes_, or Web-footed birds, now more generally
      recognised as _Natatores_, or Swimmers.

It has been proposed to separate the _Brevipennes_, or short-winged
birds, from the Grallatores, and erect them into a separate order.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Reptiles_, of which the majority possess the faculty of living
upon land and in water,--whence their name of Amphibia,--never pass
beyond the limits of warm and temperate climates: their blood, which
has the same temperature as the medium wherein they live--whence
their name of "cold-blooded animals"--does not circulate where the
mean annual temperature descends below freezing-point. Yet frogs and
salamanders have been met with in Greenland, and on the banks of the
Mackenzie River, in North America, under 67° latitude.

       *       *       *       *       *

Linnæus was not acquainted with more than 215 species of _Amphibia_,
divided into four orders:--the Chelonians, or tortoises; the Saurians
(as the lizard and crocodile); the Ophidians (serpents); and the
Batrachians (frogs). In 1789, Lacépède raised the total to 303; in
1820, Merrem estimated it at 677. At present, the number of species
of Reptilia classified and described amounts to 2000, and the four
orders into which they are distributed are--

    1. _Ophidia_, or Serpents.
    2. _Sauria_, or Lizards.
    3. _Loricata_, or Crocodiles.
    4. _Chelonia_, or Tortoises.

According to Sching, there are 7 tortoises, 33 serpents, and 35

       *       *       *       *       *

_Fishes_ are the least known of those superior animals whose skeleton
and vertebral column are situated in the interior of the body, and
which are thence named _Vertebrata_. The richest collections, such
as those of the British Museum, and those of the Museum of Natural
History in Paris, which contain about 3000 species, do not represent
probably more than a fourth of the existing total, including
fresh-water and salt-water fish. How many rivers and streams in
both hemispheres still remain to be explored! How far we are from
a knowledge of the fishes which people the different strata of the
great ocean.

Agassiz divides this great class of vertebrated animals into the
four orders of _Cycloid, Ctenoid, Placoid, and Ganoid_, according
to the character of their scales. Cuvier, into _Osseous_ fishes
(with true bones), and _Cartilaginous_; subdividing the former into
_Acanthopterygii_ and _Malacopterygii_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The difficulty of the problem we are here considering increases when
we come to the inferior animals. Who would pretend to determine the
number of species of _Mollusca_ which inhabit the earth, the fresh
waters and the salt? This much is certain, that it cannot be less
than that of the Vertebrates.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the vast aggregate of the _Articulata_, the inquirer finds himself
utterly astray and bewildered. This great division is not divided
into those which have, and those which have not, articulated members.

The first subdivision includes _Insects_, _Arachnida_, _Crustacea_,
and _Myriapoda_; the second, _Annelida_ and _Entozoa_.

Some naturalists, be it said, rank the _Cirrhopoda_ as intermediate
between the two; others place them among the Mollusca. Others, again,
include the _Rotifera_ in the second subdivision.

We shall in this place confine our remarks to the _Insects_.
According to the most distinguished entomologists, the average number
of species at present, described or not described, and preserved in
entomological collections, is between 150,000 and 170,000.

This estimate is obviously below the truth. Take only the Coleoptera,
which forms but one, though, it is true, the most numerous order of
insects. Thirty years ago the most complete collections contained
about 7000 species. In 1850, the museum at Berlin, according to
Alexander von Humboldt, contained nearly 32,000. We would here
call the reader's attention to the just remarks of the author of
the "Natural History of the Coleoptera," an entomologist of great
authority, whom a long residence in America had peculiarly qualified
to pronounce an opinion on the subject before us:--

"If we remember," says the Count de Castelnau, "that there are
immense regions in Asia and the two Americas of which we do not
possess a single coleoptera; if we reflect that the interior of the
vast continent of New Holland is, from this standpoint, entirely
unknown, and that most of the archipelagoes of the great ocean have
never been entomologically explored, we may conclude, without any
fear of mistake, that the number of existing coleopteras exceeds
_one hundred thousand_. However frightful this number may appear, it
will seem less so if we examine only the species discovered in the
neighbourhood of Paris, within a radius of twelve to fifteen leagues;
and we do not hesitate to say, that in a few years the Parisian fauna
alone will present material for a considerable work, which shall not
treat of less than 3000 to 4000 species of Coleoptera."[84]

       *       *       *       *       *

If we admit that the other orders of insects, the Lepidoptera, the
Hemiptera, the Hymenoptera, the Neuroptera, the Orthoptera, the
Diptera, the Strepsiptera, comprise, taken altogether, at least the
same number of species as the Coleoptera alone, we shall gain, for
the class of insects, a total of 200,000. And we shall certainly
keep within the truth if we assign the same number of species to
the Annelida, the Crustacea, the Arachnida, the Myriapoda, and the
Monomorpha, to which, with some modification, we may apply the
remarks already called forth by the Coleoptera.

Let us recapitulate. The four classes of _Vertebrate Animals_ include

     1,600 species    Mammals.
     5,000    "       Birds.
     2,000    "       Reptiles.
    12,000    "       Fishes.

If we add to these 20,600 species of Vertebrate Animals, 200,000
species of Articulata, and 22,000 Mollusca (a minimum), we shall have
a total of 242,600.

But to complete the grand whole of beings "who grow, and live,
and feel" (the definition of animals laid down by Linnæus), we
must add the Intestinal Worms, the Echinodermata, the Acalephæ
(or Sea-nettles), and the Polypes. The history of these singular
creatures, which apparently form the transition between the animal
and vegetable kingdom, and have thence been designated _Zoophytes_,
leaves much, very much, to be desired before it will be possible to
indicate, even approximatively, the number of their species.

       *       *       *       *       *

And, finally, what shall we say of the Infusoria? These microscopic
forms of life seem, by their extreme multiplicity, to animate
all nature. It is in studying these that the inquirer needs to
be constantly on his guard, that he may not mistake transitory
conditions--or larvæ--for actual species, and it behoves him to
understand thoroughly the difficult delimitation of specific
characters. It would be far easier to ascertain the exact number of
human beings who at present people the terrestrial surface, than to
fix the total of the species of Infusoria now in existence; assuredly
it exceeds 250,000. What an infinite variety of design is here! What
a picture it presents of the inexhaustibility of the Creative Mind!

       *       *       *       *       *

Add, then,--let us say, in conclusion,--to this last great total the
aggregate of the Vertebrates, the Articulates, and the Molluscs, and
for our grand whole we have a minimum of _half a million_ of ANIMAL
SPECIES! This is the very figure, observe, at which we arrived as
representing the lowest limit of the totality of VEGETABLE SPECIES,
living and moving, flourishing, and dying, and reproducing, on the
surface of the globe.

We leave the reader to meditate--as meditate he surely must--on the
sublime thoughts, the overpowering ideas of Power and Wisdom which
these considerations suggest.


We are drawing towards the close of autumn; we shall soon be in sight
of the "melancholy days of the year;" when, for a while, the "voice
of the turtle" will cease in the leafless groves, and the banks and
braes will be sadly bare of their floral garniture. As yet, however,
the trees retain their glorious vesture, though streaked and varied
with the gorgeous colours of decay; and in the sheltered corners
of the woods, on the sunny southern slope of the grassy hill, and
beneath the covert of the still fragrant hedgerow, many a blossom
appeals to our souls with its promptings of sweet images and tender
fancies. The arum still raises its clusters of deep-scarlet berries,
and spreads its spotted leaf--

    "Armed with keen tortures for the unwary tongue;"

the blue-bells hang their delicate cups among the thick herbage;
and the wild marigold contrasts its yellow splendour with all this
crimson and azure magnificence. The daisy, too, has not forsaken
us--sweet shield of silver, embossed with gold!--but brightens still
the pleasant meadow and the sloping bank.

[Illustration: FIG. 78.--"As yet, the trees retain their glorious

    "The rose has but a summer reign,
      The daisy never dies;"

and though it first makes its appearance in the merry spring-time,
and is truly a child of the early year, it lingers on to become
a precious ornament of our scanty autumn wreaths. Sweet flower
of song!--dearer to the poet than even lily or violet!--who does
not remember, and remembering feel, all the pathos of the dying
exclamation of poor Keats,--"I feel the daisies already growing over
me!" They heighten the commonest and cheer the saddest corners of
the earth, and are ever ready, in their simple loveliness, to awaken
thoughts of grateful tenderness and love--

    "So glad am I when in the daisy's presence,
    That I am fain to do it reverence."

To what do the leaves, now changing their hues so rapidly, and
varying through all the tints of purple, brown, and yellow,--to what
do they owe their normal colour, the fresh, vivid, beautiful green?

To a substance called _chlorophyll_--(χλωρὸς, green, and
φυλλον, a leaf).

Well, what _is_ chlorophyll?

The colouring matter of plants, which, accompanied by grains of
starch, floats like very minute seeds in the fluid of their cells. In
some respects it is analogous to wax; it will not dissolve in water,
but is easily affected by ether or alcohol.

Chlorophyll is dependent upon the action of light, if not for its
formation, at all events for its development. Keep a plant in a
dark room or cellar, and it will become blanched and sickly; the
colouring matter dries up, and the white, wan tissue of the leaf is
all that survives. The more a plant is exposed to the light, the
deeper will be its green. In a shrubbery you may notice that the
brown leaves of any particular ever-green or bush, if so situated as
to lose the direct action of the sun's rays, will soon change colour.
Instead of their natural brightness of tint, they assume a sickly
greenish-yellow hue, and are said to be suffering from _chlorosis_.
The formation of the chlorophyll is obstructed, or takes place too
slowly. Of course, this peculiar condition will frequently arise from
bad soil, or a long continuance of damp weather; but it is also the
result of a want of light.

It should be observed that young leaves are always of a lighter green
than old; simply because the latter have been exposed for a longer
time to the light. And so the leaf goes on deepening and deepening in
colour, until the sad days of autumn come, and the green gives way
to yellow and brown and red, owing to the influence of the changing
season on the chlorophyll of the plant.

In reference to this interesting subject,--which deserves to be more
closely investigated,--we may place before the reader the results of
certain recent experiments.[85]

MM. Prillieux, Brongniart, and Roze (_Comptes Rendus_, Jan. 3 and 17)
have made some important observations on the apparently spontaneous
movements of the grains of chlorophyll within the leaves of plants.
These had been observed by Böhm to congregate under the direct action
of the sun; Famitzin, confirmed by Borodine, had also recorded
very marked movements in the leaves of a moss under the influence
of light. This class of plants offer great facilities for these
observations, inasmuch as the movements can be observed in them under
the microscope without dissection. M. Prillieux kept a moss in the
dark for several days, when the cells presented the appearance of a
green network, between the meshes of which was a clear transparent
ground. All the grains of chlorophyll were applied to the walls which
separate the cells from one another; there were none on the upper or
under walls which form the surfaces of the leaf. Under the influence
of light the grains change their position from the lateral to the
superficial walls; under favourable circumstances this change takes
place in about a quarter of an hour. On attaining their new position,
the grains do not remain absolutely immovable, but continually
approach and separate from one another. If again darkened, they
leave their new position and return to the lateral walls. Artificial
light produces the same effect as daylight. M. Brongniart further
observed that this movement of the chlorophyll, under the influence
of light, does not consist in the change of position of isolated
grains, but of masses of network, each containing a certain number
of grains. In addition, M. E. Roze states that, besides the grains
of chlorophyll which coat the walls of the cell, each cell is lined
with a transparent mucous plasma formed of very fine threads, the
extremities of which unite together the grains of chlorophyll. This
protoplasm exhibits, under a high magnifying power, a very slow
motion, and carries the grains of chlorophyll along with it. M. Roze
believes, therefore, that the motion is a plasmic one, the protoplasm
being the vital and animating part of the cell.


Among the latest flowers of the autumnal garden are those old
favourites, the "July-flowers," or _Carnations_, which, because they
were "fair and sweet and medicinal," Jeremy Taylor preferred to "the
prettiest tulips, that are good for nothing." I remember a time when
they were among the best-prized ornaments of our parterres, and very
delicious it was to inhale the balmy breath that rose into the warm
air of an autumn evening from rich masses of carnations and pinks.
The carnations were also called--_sub consule Planco_--in the merry
days when I haunted the green lanes of a pretty Devonshire village,
carnations, and clove July-flowers or gilliflowers; and an ancient
name for the pink was that of sops-in-wine, because they were infused
in the wine-cups of our much-drinking ancestors. So Drayton says:--

    "Bring hither the pink and purple columbine,
            With gilliflowers;
    Bring coronations, and sops-in-wine,
            Worn of paramours."

The same poet alludes to them under their more modern appellations:--

    "The brave carnation, then, of sweet and sovereign power
    (So of his colour called, although a July flower),
    With the other of his kind, the speckled and the pale;--
    Then the odoriferous pink, that sends forth such a gale
    Of sweetness, yet in scents as various as in sorts."

The scientific name of this beautiful family of plants, whose
rich dyes are not less conspicuous than their Sabæan odours, is
_Dianthus_, or "Flower of God." They form a genus of the natural
order Carophyllaceæ; the calyx is tubular, and five-toothed; there
are five petals, which at the throat of the corolla are lightened
(as it were) into a linear "claw." The stamens are double the
number of the petals; the capsule is of a cylindrical outline, and

[Illustration: FIG. 79.--"When I haunted the green lanes of a
Devonshire village."]

I am quite prepared to agree with a sympathetic writer on flowers
that, during summer, and far into the autumn months, the greatest
beauty of our gardens is the varied tribe of Carnations, while their
exquisite, subtle, yet potent aroma is not to be excelled, I think,
or, at all events, is not far surpassed, in strength and sweetness,
by the much-lauded rose. A carnation seems, to my humble taste, the
very embodiment, as it were, of the favourite qualities so insisted
upon by Mr Matthew Arnold, "sweetness and light." And even in winter,
when its radiant petals have disappeared, there is something graceful
to the eye in the long slender leaves of the pink, covered with their
sea-green powdery bloom.

The two species commonly grown in gardens are, the garden pink
(_Dianthus hortensis_) and the carnation proper (_Dianthus
caryophyllus_); both of which are generally referred to one original,
the castle-pink, July-flower, or clove-gilliflower. The carnation, as
a garden flower, was originally brought into England from Germany,
where it has always been a favourite object of cultivation.

There are several hundred varieties of it, which are arranged
into three principal divisions: _flakes_, which are diversified
by broad stripes of two colours only; _bizarres_, which are of
several colours, and very irregularly streaked; and _picotees_ (from
_piquetté_, spotted), whose flowers are besprinkled with different
colours, and their petals fringed or serrated.

In England, the _native_ species of pink are five in number, but
they are mostly rare, or, when abundant, are found in very limited

The commonest kind is the little _Deptford Pink_ (_Dianthus
Armeria_), which sometimes grows in thick clusters among the meadow
grass. In shape, its blossom resembles that of the garden pink; in
size, it is about equal to that of the sweet william; and its flowers
grow in a very similar manner. It is a scentless pink, however, with
serrated or notched petals, and its rose-coloured petals curiously
besprinkled with tiny spots of white.

A very pretty species is the _Maiden Pink_ (_Dianthus deltoides_),
which some botanists think to have been the original of our garden
favourite; and a kind deserving notice for its large and fragrant
flowers is the _Dianthus superbus_.

The maiden pink, I should add, has delicate rose-coloured blossoms,
daintily touched with silver, and a white eye encircled by a deep
purple ring. It is not unworthy of its fanciful and highly suggestive

A rare British variety is the _Clustered Pink_, or _Childing Pink_
(_Dianthus prolifer_), which produces its flowers in plentiful
clusters, but is only allowed a season's sunshine.

The _India_ or _China Pink_ (_Dianthus chinensis_) is a native of
Eastern Asia, but has now become a frequent denizen in our English

One wild species, the _Mountain Pink_ (_Dianthus cœsius_), it has
never been my fortune to gather in its native home. It is described
as a large handsome flower, and it loves to breathe the "difficult
air" of the lofty mountain-top. "Never," we are told, "is it found
in plain or valley; but it is one of those blossoms whose beauty
gladdens the mountaineer, or bids the traveller wonder that so lovely
a flower should be blushing on the lone summit, scarcely accessible
to his footstep; or cheering a rock, where only the yellow lichen,
or the verdant or gray moss, reminds him of vegetation. Such a
sight might bid one think of the old motto, which accompanied a
wild flower, 'I trust only in Heaven.' How beautiful is it in its
loneliness! Scarce an eye meets it but that of the towering bird, as
he dashes through the air above it, yet is it as full of lustre as
the flowers we daily see and admire. Surely it should arrest the eye
and the thoughts of the traveller as certainly as would a monument of
human skill on such a spot. Like a lone ruin, it is a page of story,
telling not only of the past, but the present, and reminding us of a
Being who has reared it there, where it stands a memento of power and

    "Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
      Thanks to its tenderness, its joys and fears,
    To me the meanest flower that blows can give
      Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."


Of greater interest, however, because a native species, and more
easily attained, is the _Castle Pink_, to which brief reference has
already been made. Its perfume is like that of precious spices, and
after a shower of rain, the air, for some distance, is actually
interpenetrated with it. As its name indicates, it loves to grow upon
the shattered walls of

    "Chiefless castles breathing stern farewells;"

and it may be found, unless swept away by barbarous "improvements,"
adorning the gray old masonry of Sandown Castle, and on ruins in the
neighbourhood of Norwich. On the walls of Rochester's stately keep
it grows at a height which defies the spoiler's hand; and on the
time-worn ruins of an ancient minster, it shines, in the summer-noon,
"with a flush of flowers." It blossoms in July, and there are not,
it is said, more than half-a-dozen spots in England where it may be
found wild.

[Illustration: FIG. 80.--"On the time-worn ruins of an ancient

       *       *       *       *       *

To this dainty and beautiful tribe belongs that common but handsome
and most fragrant flower, the _Bearded Pink_ or _Sweet William_
(_Dianthus barbatus_),--a native of central Europe and southern
France, with long lanceolate leaves, bearded petals, ornamental
bracts, and dense clusters or tufts of crimson or rose-coloured
blossoms. It has long been a favourite with the cottager, for it is
so hardy that it will grow in any soil, and will flourish even in
the odd corner known as the "children's garden." Its popular name,
"long, long ago," was "London tuftes;" and it owes its specific
appellation of _barbatus_, or "bearded," to the nature of its calyx.
That quaintest of quaint old botanists, delightful Gerarde, lavishes
encomiums upon its beauty, and pronounces it meet "to deck up the
bosoms of the beautiful, and garlands and crowns for pleasure." I
suspect that now-a-days it seldom figures in a posy.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the same order as the Dianthi--that is, to the
_Caryophyllaceæ_--belong many wild flowers of lowly growth but
abounding interest; as, for example, the corn-cockle, whose
lilac-coloured petals, soaring conspicuously among the tall
waving corn, have procured for it the right royal appellation of
_Agrostemma_, or "the crown of the field." So, too, the numerous
species of campion and catchfly (_Silene_), with their singular
expanded calices; and those handsome flowers, the white and rosy
lychnises, which love to air their charms by the side of running
waters. The cottony down upon these plants was wont to be much used
for the wicks of lamps.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then, too, the whole tribe of chickweeds are included in the
Caryophyllaceæ. They are spring flowers, with pearly white blossoms,
five-petalled, like a five-rayed star, and long slender drooping
leaves. Their resemblance to a star has suggested their scientific
name, _Stellaria_; and they are truly the "stars of the earth,"
glistering among the thick herbage with a modest beauty. The
_Stellaria media_ supplies our song-birds with an abundant and a
wholesome provision.

A handsome wild plant of this order is the Soapwort (_Saponaria
officinalis_). It is common in Kent, and some of the neighbouring
shires, but in many parts of England is never seen. Its full cluster
of rose-hued blossoms is rather larger, and more loosely set
together, than those of the sweet william; which, however, it much
resembles in its leaves, these being opposite to each other, and
nearly sheathing or surrounding the stalk at their bases.

"The juice of the soapwort," says Miss Pratt, "is one of those
vegetable substances which, by making a lather with water, will
cleanse linen, and remove grease as effectually as soap. It grows
more generally in the neighbourhood of villages than in any other
situation, as if providence had placed it there especially for
the service of the cottager; yet it is very little used, either
from ignorance of its properties, or because it would require
some cultivation to render it sufficiently plentiful for household
purposes. It needs the addition of ashes to make it a good soap
for washing linen; but it is of much service to the shepherds on
the Alps, who wash their flocks, previously to shearing them, with
soapsuds made by boiling this plant in water. The large fruit of the
horse-chestnut has similar cleansing properties, and may be used by
cutting it into small pieces, or scraping it into water. It has even
been suggested that if the nuts were reduced to powder, and made
into balls, with some unctuous substance, they would answer all the
purposes of our manufactured soap; and yet numbers of poor people see
these nuts lying decaying in their neighbourhood, and have no idea of
making them of any service."

On the Continent, however, the peasantry are wiser, and not
only provide themselves with chestnuts for soap, but gather the
beech-leaves to stuff their mattresses.

Returning to the Caryophyllaceæ, we may add that some of the
plants of this order have poisonous qualities, which are due to
the principle called _saponine_ existing in many of the species of
Saponaria, Silene, Lychnis, and Dianthus.

According to Lindley, the order includes no less than 53 genera, and
1055 species. They inhabit chiefly temperate and cold regions, and
are ranked in three sub-orders,--Alsineæ, Sileneæ, and Mollugineæ.


What plant do our poets mean by the eglantine? What by the woodbine?
Are they one and the same, or are they different?

We cannot answer those questions until we have referred to three or
four passages in which they are introduced. And, first, let us take
an example from Spenser:--

        "And over him, art striving to compare
        With nature, did an arbour green dispread,
        Framèd of wanton ivy, flowering fair,
        Through which the fragrant eglantine did spread
        His pricking arms, entrailed with roses red,
        Which dainty odours round about them threw,
        And all within with flowers was garnishèd,
        That when wild Zephyrus amongst them blew,
    Did breathe out bounteous smells, and painted colours shew."

And now from Milton:--

    "Through the sweetbriar, or the vine,
    Or the twisted eglantine."

The following is from Sir Walter Scott:--

                          "On the hill
    Let the white heath-bell flourish still,
    Cherish the tulip, prune the vine,
    But freely let the woodbine twine,
    And leave untrimmed the eglantine."

From Burns:--

    "The woodbine I will pu' when the evening star is near,
    And the diamond draps of dew shall be her een sae clear."

From Michael Drayton:--

    "The azured harebell next with them they neatly mixt:
    T' allay whose luscious smell they woodbine placed betwixt ...
    The columbine amongst they sparingly do set,
    And now and then among, of eglantine a spray."

And lastly, from Shakespeare:--

    "And leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,
    Out-sweetened not thy breath."

There is evidently some confusion here, and the eglantine of one poet
is not the eglantine of another. Sir Walter Scott, we take it, is
thinking of the wild clematis or virgin's bower, when he wishes the
eglantine to remain untrimmed. And Milton undoubtedly refers to the
honeysuckle, which, twisting round the framework of a cottage-porch,
tempts the neighbouring bees to rifle its calyxes of their honeyed
sweets. But the _true_ eglantine of our earlier poets seems to have
been the prickly sweetbriar, formerly called _Rosa eglantina_; now
known as _Rosa rubiginosa_. No plant is of greater value for a garden
hedge, owing to the delicious fragrance exhaled not only by its
flowers but by its leaves.

On the other hand, the "lush woodbine," which so often finds
honourable mention in our poets, is none other than the honeysuckle,
the "twisted eglantine" of Milton. Its botanical name is

The eglantine and the woodbine, therefore, though occasionally
confounded by careless writers, are two entirely distinct plants; the
former being the sweetbriar of modern gardens, and the latter the

[Illustration: FIG. 81.--"Our leafy hedgerows."]

It has been justly said by a writer (whom we have already quoted),
that of all the flowers which, towards the end of summer and the
beginning of autumn, adorn our pastoral scenery, "filling the air
with fragrance, and the earth with beauty," none are more generally
attractive than the wild climbing plants of our leafy hedgerows.
By interlacing their delicate boughs, covered with foliage and
flowers,--or with berries bright and sparkling,--or, as in the wild
clematis, crowned with the lightest, feathery seeds,--they wind
about the trees and bushes in festoons and wreaths of the utmost
elegance,--and contribute in no slight degree to the aspect of
richness and beauty which the landscape exhibits at this time of the
year. As their stems are so slender and delicate that they would be
crushed by the burthen of their flowery clusters and numerous leaves,
or rent and uprooted by the wind, unless they found support from
other plants, we see them hanging by their tendrils, or by their
pliant arms, about the trunks of aged trees,--the ancestral elms,
or "those green-robed senators of mighty woods, tall oaks,"--like a
frail maiden to the sturdy arm of some strong-shouldered brother, or,
it may be, of some one "nearer and dearer still."

In reference to those climbing plants, one curious circumstance
deserves to be noted.

Some of them follow the sun's apparent course, that is, from east to
west,--and always twine around the stem which supports them in the
direction of left to right. Such is the case with the common black
briony, so common in our woods and groves.

Others invariably twine _contrary_ to the sun, or from right to left;
as is the case with the convolvulus, or large white bindweed.

This singular tendency, be it observed, is always constant in each
individual of the species, and if you endeavour to train one of these
plants in a different direction, you will infallibly kill it.

The convolvulus will not grow from left to right, and the black
briony will not grow from right to left. _Crede experto._

The convolvulus, or white bindweed (_Convolvulus sepium_, or
_Calystegia sepium_), is one of the most elegant, though one of
the commonest climbing plants which festoon our willows, or creep
over our grassy banks, or wind in and about our hedges. Its large
white bells, which the country people unpoetically call "old men's
nightcaps," are remarkable for their purity of hue and exquisite
beauty of outline; and the leaves, which are heart-shaped, equally
claim our admiration. Like the pink field-convolvulus (_Convolvulus
arvensis_), or the rosy-hued seaside bindweed (_Calystegia
soldanella_), it is very tenacious of life, and if it once secures
a footing, is eradicated with difficulty. Hence it is dearer to the
poet and artist than to the farmer and gardener, each of whom pursues
it with a determined hostility.

The Convolvulaceæ form a distinct family or order, containing
forty-five genera, and upwards of seven hundred species. They are
found in temperate and tropical countries; and include the dodder,
sweet potato, scammony, spomœa, and the jalap plant.


If we are to understand by the term _metamorphosis_ simply "a
change," it is evident that everybody undergoes metamorphosis, is
changed or transformed; nothing _is_, all _becomes_.

The water which flows on for ever, but never twice washes the same
pebbly bed, will afford us an apt image of this perpetual "to become."

But even the said pebbly bed, like the hardest rock, like the
seemingly everlasting granite, must and does change. The compact,
chrystalline, azoic rock, without a trace of life in its dense mass,
would eventually decompose if constantly assailed and affected by
the moving waves of that gaseous ocean whose bed is formed by the
terrestrial crust. If the rock is found covered by more or less
stratified layers, its presence in the bosom of the earth will
attest to passing generations the primordial incandescence of our
planet at some epoch when life as yet was _not_,--when the liquid
element, hurled far away into space under the form of vapour,
exhibited the aspect of a "bearded meteor," or a comet, with blazing
nucleus and incandescent tail. Many the changes which since that
distant epoch have taken place upon the earth, and many more must
occur before our planet ceases to contribute its strain to the grand
harmony of the spheres. Our world will _end_ as surely as it once
had a beginning: its duration, though it be computed by hundreds of
thousands of years, is nothing, will be nothing, compared with that
of the revolution of yonder sun, circling, with its wondrous train of
planets, around some mysterious centre as yet unknown. And in this
period, hitherto incalculable, what chances of perturbation will
necessarily arise?

Let us suppose that the centre around which oscillates, on the one
part, the moon while drawing near and receding from the earth; on the
other, the earth while drawing near and receding from the sun: let
us suppose that these centres oscillate in the same manner around
other centres as yet undetermined,--and this hypothesis is very
rational, since it is based on the principle that everything moves
or changes,--it may happen that in these periodical oscillations,
one or more of the circulating masses will eventually fall into
their focus of attraction, or will start so widely astray that the
wheelwork of our world, the various parts of our planetary system,
will separate,--not to be annihilated, for nothing in the universe
can be _annihilated_,--but to be metamorphosed, and group themselves
elsewhere in a different order.[87]

It is thus that in chemistry, which I would call the _astronomy of
atoms_, it is shown that bodies are only so far decomposed as to
admit of their recombination in new forms; the end of one is the
beginning of another.

Now, that which is true of the systems of the elementary bodies
composing terrestrial matter, is, in all probability, true also--why
should it not be?--of the systems of the celestial bodies.

Differences of magnitude, of space, and of time, which overwhelm
our feeble imaginations, vanish before the unity of plan of the
Creator's thought. A crystalline molecule, which will not affect
the finest balance, is a world, with an equator and poles of its
own, and its central atom round which atomic satellites gravitate.
Whether these atoms are infinitely small or infinitely great,
whether the time of their revolutions is measured by thousandths
of a second or by myriads of years, is of little importance so far
as their gravitation (_ponderation_, or _poising_) is concerned.
For this ponderation is absolutely identical, whether we call it
_affinity_,--when speaking of the atomic movements of chemically
decomposable matter; or _gravitation_ or _attraction_, when referring
to those atoms of the great whole which we call stars, and whose
metamorphic scale is far beyond the range of beings planted on the
surface of one of the stellar atoms. However profound may be the
researches of our astronomers, they will never attain to a knowledge
of the metamorphoses of worlds. The spectacle of celestial spheres
rising anew from their ashes, like "the Arabian bird" of fable, will
be as impossible for them as the knowledge of the decompositions and
recompositions of our material bodies would be for chemists, planted
on the surface of an atom of carbon. How, from such a standpoint,
could they contemplate the manifold forms of matter, and embrace at
a glance all its changes?... Well, we are relatively as powerless as
these imaginary denizens of an atom of matter, rooted as we are to
the crust of a planet,--a molecule suspended in the eternal ocean.

What shall we now say of the forms and movements of _living matter_?

In the first place, that they are infinitely more varied and more
changeful than those of inanimate nature. Next, that the difference
between their metamorphoses is very wide. The eye can follow the
transformations of a rock exposed to the decomposing action of the
agents which surround us on every side. This action is calculable,
and the elements which it has dissociated may be determined and
weighed. The effects of the force, called either affinity or
attraction, which maintains these elements united, are not beyond the
range of our observation; tables of affinity, and of atomic weights,
have been constructed, which enable the chemist to dominate over
matter, just as the astronomer embraces the stars, the atoms of the
world, by the law of universal gravitation.

But no sooner is matter interpenetrated by that mysterious force
which we call life, than our most potent means of investigation
suddenly cease to be efficient. Undoubtedly, you may analyse the
seed before you sow it, and thus may ascertain that it consists
of _carbon_, _hydrogen_, _oxygen_, and _azote_. But with the same
elements attempt to recompose your seed, using exactly the same
proportions as those you discovered in it; and if you think that
your synthesis has been successful, ensure that your grain, once
confided to the earth, shall become a focus of divers movements,
giving birth below to the ramifications of the root, terminated by
the spongioles,--above, to the ramifications of the stem, garnished
with leaves, flowers, and fruits; finally, ensure that this aggregate
of organs, multiplying millions of times the weight and volume of the
seed, shall always and exactly reproduce the same type or the same

If, with your apparatus,--if, with the means at the disposal of
humanity,--you should succeed in achieving all these marvels of
nature; then perhaps you might settle the great problem of what life
is,--whether an independent force, or a simple modification of an
universal force, of which heat, light, electricity, and magnetism,
will be but different modes of manifestation.

And yet, even in such a case, you must not boast too loudly of your
power; for you will find it necessary to turn and return the term you
have arrived at, in every direction; nor will it furnish you with the
relation or the cause of the formidable progression whose _alpha_ and
_omega_, whose beginning and end, escape us so absolutely.

Whence, in all its interminable metamorphoses, whence comes life?
Whither goes it? Were our world to perish, its ruins would not
cease, in their apparently disordered movements, to obey the law of
universal gravitation: they would so group themselves as to form
other worlds, resembling the system of which they were anteriorly
the framework. But this force in no wise tells you why, when, and
how life will make its appearance on these spheroids of revolution,
which, in their state of ponderation, are attracted in the direct
ratio of their masses and in the inverse ratio of the square of their

       *       *       *       *       *

This is not all. Man justly plumes himself on having arrived, by a
process of experiment, at the following irrefragable axiom: that "the
matter which serves for the movements of life renews itself, while
the mould or form remains." You may even affirm, without appearing
too adventurous, that the innumerable whirling globules which enter
into the composition of the human blood are so many microscopical
individuals, each with its own proper life,--infinitesimal forms
which are born, and move to and fro, and disappear, and are renewed,
without the individual--whose aggregate they perform--having any
consciousness of all this activity.

Thus it is that the collective integral being which we call humanity,
lives and is developed through the removal of the individuals
composing it,--ephemeral creatures, each of whom thinks himself a god!

Must we stop there? That would be to declare humanity the last
term of a progression whose commencement and end, according to our
own acknowledgment, completely escape us: it would be at once a
contradiction and a flagrant violation of the great law of infinite
continuity which reigns everywhere.

       *       *       *       *       *

To suppose that beyond humanity there is only nothingness, would be
to enunciate an hypothesis as puerile as that which pretended the
earth was not only the centre of our system, but the sole inhabited
or inhabitable point in the immensity of space, and that the stars
of the firmament were created for the service and pleasure of
mortals. Suppose that this absurd belief were true; of what use, I
ask you, would be all our agitations, all our flutterings, all our
conceptions, all our conquests, all our glories, all our memories,
when the end of the world would sweep away and annihilate our race?
It was well worth the trouble, truly, of being born, of living, and
of suffering, to terminate, after all, in so inglorious a fashion!...
Adhere to your hypothesis, materialist, if you have the courage;
surely, no man of sense can accept it!

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us now resume the thread of our meditations.

The end of our system has come at last: the sun, the planets, and
their satellites form but one chaotic igneous mass,--a brilliant
fugitive luminary, new-born to the inhabitants of worlds which have
escaped intact.

The dust of our extinguished world will not be scattered hap-hazard;
the molecules of matter, indissolubly linked together by universal
gravitation, will so arrange themselves as to constitute a new, and
perhaps a more perfect world. But in the constitution of this new
world, balanced like the old, our human bones, our ashes united
with those of our ancestors, may have, as far as they are matter,
their due share. As for the Thought which makes the true power of
humanity, which gives to man all his value,--Thought, perfectible and
transmissible,--it will contribute nothing, because it is absolutely
imponderable and impassible. Will it then be lost for ever?

If the world is to last for ever, you may justly regard as immortal
the indefinite transmission of Thought, and the perpetuity of the
memory of certain great men. But will all this avail, if the world
must perish?

The world will never end, you say; it is eternal.

But how do you know this? If it has had a beginning, as geology and
astronomy prove,[90] it will also have an end. This end, however,
will not be an annihilation; it will simply be, as we have already
pointed out, a transformation of matter. As for the problems, whether
nature itself was created, and whether it is eternal, let us leave
them to the discussion of heated theoricians, who are too blind to
perceive that some questions it is wisest neither to affirm nor deny,
but _to know how to ignore_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The error, then, which we have been considering, destroys itself
through its consequences. Let us admit, in effect, that our
world--such as it is, just as it is--will last for ever. In that case
what becomes of the power and travail of humanity? All they have
accomplished are some slight changes of the terrestrial crust, barely
sufficient, here and there, to modify the influences of climate.
A limited number of men labour, it is true, for the progress and
full development of transmissible thought. But even supposing that,
in the course of centuries, humanity succeeds in comprehending, it
can only _grow_ through the development of the faculties of all its
members, and the due balance of all the social forces by means of
liberty. Supposing that reason, united to science and conscience,
should finally combine in one family the various tribes and peoples
scattered over the earth's broad surface; do you indulge yourself
in the hope of crossing the limits of the human organization, and
establishing the royalty of man "through the interpretation and
imitation of Nature?"

Do you cherish the idea of penetrating, through the perfect union of
all your intellectual forces, the mysteries of creation?

No; you would never dare to form such a hope, to nourish such an
idea, at least unless you felt that the earth (which you must
first demonstrate) comprehends in itself the whole universe, that
the humanity swarming on its surface is eternal, that every other
creature is absolutely subordinate to it: in a word, that Man is all!

But we know how limited is human power. We are not masters even
of the mechanism of the body; the movements of organic life are
independent of our will; we can neither command the stomach, the
lungs, nor the heart: that marvellous process of absorption and
elimination, that perpetual movement hither or thither which
constitutes the essence of the assimilative function, goes on in
us--as in all living beings, animal or vegetable--completely outside
our sphere of activity. Then, without quitting our planet, how
numerous are the movements which still escape the human will!

       *       *       *       *       *

It is quite different when we lift up our eyes to examine the face of
heaven. We have no grasp whatever of the incommensurable spiraloids
of innumerable worlds to which our own belongs; we have no means
of communicating with the inhabitants of other planets; we cannot
establish any interchange of thought with the _men_ (if there be
any) of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,--who form, perhaps,
like the _men_ of the earth, the most elevated circle of material
life, varying under an infinity of forms upon each of their floating
domiciles.... I see you smiling, reader, because you do not believe
that these _other earths_--satellites of the sun, like our own--are
inhabited by beings analagous to our human race. You are at liberty
not to believe it. But then, to be in agreement with yourselves,
you ought to declare in favour of the Science of the Past, though
demonstrated to be false, against the Science of the Present. Will
you do so? Certainly not. But then, of two things, one: either you
will be obliged to make the earth an unique exception, a kind of
monstrosity in the midst of the other mechanism of the universe,
which will be to throw yourself back upon the erroneous science
of the ancients; or you must perforce admit that the earth is not
specially privileged, and that the other planets, its companions,
have also their human inhabitants.

       *       *       *       *       *

Is this all? Alas, all this is nothing! The other worlds whose suns
appear to us under the form of scintillating points or stars, will,
undoubtedly, in like manner, possess their systems of planets and
satellites. Why should they divaricate from the general plan of the
universe? Now, multiply the number of the stars--who has counted
them?--with the probable number of their planets, and you will gain,
if this be permitted you, the number of _humanities_ who people
yonder star-sown space. And it is not only with _these_ we must be
able to correspond, but with the humanities of all the nebulæ of
all the firmaments--for remember our starry heaven itself is but
a nebula--that we must establish an interchange of ideas, if you
would have your power, and civilisation, and intellectual royalty,
something more than a mere optical illusion of your pride.

       *       *       *       *       *

You do not cease to proclaim as an axiom that "there are no abrupt
intervals in Nature;" that Nature never ventures upon sudden leaps
or bounds ("in natura non datur saltus"), and yet you would make
an exception for the world of thought--a world which no more lies
outside the laws of nature than does the physical world. The former
ought even to secure our preference; it is there only that we are
free, that we can become true creators, by creating for ourselves
our own happiness; that we can grow great before our own eyes, by
following, not the tyrannous will of the _brute_, but the tender
voice of the _angel_; by listening to conscience--that pure and
infallible counsellor--conscience, the foundation of all justice, the
latent force of generations passing away and coming, the universal
gravitation of our species as of all the ultra-terrestrial humanities.

       *       *       *       *       *

But how can the humanities, with which we suppose the universe to be
peopled,--how can they communicate with one another?

The law of attraction comprehends not only the celestial bodies,
but also their intervals, the intersidereal spaces. Do these spaces
present a void to the thinking beings who probably people the stars?

Everything, force and matter, testifies to an entire unity of plan
or thought, and the mind which is powerful enough to rise above all
the attractions and influences of the body, the mind which, by its
continuous labour, alone renders life and man of any importance, the
mind once detached from the animal nature which it drags behind it
like a prisoner to the chariot of his conqueror, shall it be inferior
to inert matter? shall it be less than a ship without its compass?
Continuous here, shall that continuity be elsewhere broken up? Surely
this is impossible.

       *       *       *       *       *

But how are we to recognise this continuity of essence in a spirit
which, like man's, appears unavoidably fixed, like a parasite, to the
surface of a planet?

Here lies the whole difficulty of the question; a question all the
more perplexing because, in the search after scientific truth,
the mind walks surely and steadily, except when resting upon the
senses,--which are the backbone, so to speak, of the experimental

Answers, indeed, are not wanting, for each religion has its own.
Every creed attempts to solve the problem. But then, faith is
required to accept the answer or solution, and alas! faith is not
implanted in every soul. It is useless, therefore, to wish that it
might be the gift of those who, to the authority of tradition and
long-established dogmas, prefer the liberty of discussion and the
axioms of science. Are our bigots actually aware of what they do when
they seek to compel into their circle of belief those minds which
tend to escape from it at a tangent? We assert that in so doing they
are guilty of an act of iniquity, of a veritable blasphemy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some explanation is necessary here. You believe, we hope, in the
majesty, power, wisdom, and mercy of God, in the revelations He has
vouchsafed to man, in the immortality of the soul. These are great
problems, however; the greatest problems a mortal can venture to
discuss. Already I see the bigot frowning; he professes to be shocked
by the word "problem," he would fain substitute for it that of
"certainty" or "truth." Well, through faith we accept them as truths;
but, metaphysically speaking, they may be regarded as problems which
the All-wise has submitted to man's earnest consideration. In fact,
the God in whom you and we believe, in whom you and we put all
our trust, has surrounded them with something of uncertainty, has
invested them with so much of doubtfulness as may test our faith.

Yes, in doing so, He has had a purpose to fulfil. Let us think of a
geometrician--and an ancient writer said that God, by creating the
world, created geometry--for the sake of exercising the minds of his
pupils, his children, giving them a problem to be solved.

If at the same time, he placed before them the solution, he would
assuredly fail in his object. No means would remain of distinguishing
the capable from the incapable, the studious from the indifferent,
the idler from the worker, if they all found the question answered

True, if the problem is too difficult, if the solution lies beyond
the faculties of those whom he wishes to test and put to the proof,
the master will not fail to furnish them with all the elements
necessary for their guidance, whether they consider it from without,
or whether they consider it with the help of their own inner

But science and conscience stand in need of an equally difficult
task; the first, that it may learn to observe clearly, the latter
that it may learn to act purely. And it is here, above all, that the
two-fold nature of man becomes a perplexity and a stumbling-block. On
the one hand, man creates theories, in order to disembarrass himself
of the science which calls for the exercise of powerful and laborious
observation; on the other, he creates dogmas, which he hopes may lull
to sleep that ever active, ever restless conscience, which demands
fertile and beneficial actions, and rejects barren or deceitful

It is true that to many minds the discussion of the questions at
which we have hinted seems a sorry work, because the time given
for their discussion is necessarily so limited. What is life? they
say. What can be effected in so short an interval? What can man
hope to accomplish in the few short years that intervene between
manhood, when the mind is mature, and old age, when the intellect
grows enfeebled? These are the men who echo the old poet's mournful

    "A good that never satisfies the mind,
    A beauty fading like the April flowers,
    A sweet with floods of gall that runs combined,
    A pleasure passing ere in thought made ours,
    An honour that more fickle is than wind,
    A glory at opinion's frown that lowers,
    A treasury which bankrupt Time devours,
    A knowledge than grave ignorance more blind,
    A vain delight our equals to command,
    A style of greatness in effect a dream,
    A swelling thought of holding sea and land,
    A servile lot, decked with a pompous name;
    Are the strange ends we toil for here below,
    Till wisest death make us our urns know."

But the poet, while taking this despondent view of life, forgets--not
only that it is an opportunity, but--that it is the first stage of an
eternal existence, and that the progress begun now shall be continued
hereafter, when the mind, freed from its material clogs, shall enter
upon the full fruition of its wondrous powers. And however brief it
may be, is it not better it should be devoted to noble work than to
ignoble idleness? Is it not better to use it as a time of preparation
than to waste it in empty pleasures? To the despairing wail of the
poet just quoted we would oppose, as far worthier of a gallant
spirit, Ben Jonson's admirable conclusions:--

          "It is not growing like a tree
          In bulk, doth make men better be;
    Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
    To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere.
               A lily of a day
               Is fairer far in May,
        Although it fall and die that night;
        It was the plant and flower of light.
    In small proportions we just beauties see,
    And in short measure life may perfect be."

This is the true philosophy; to make our life as perfect as our
faculties will permit, and to look upon it as the introduction to
a grander life, where the problems here discussed shall find a
satisfactory solution.

    "Oh for the time when in our seraph wings
      We veil our brows before the Eternal Throne--
    The day when, drinking knowledge at its springs,
      We know as we are known."

Let us beware, however, when we devote our life to the pursuit of
wisdom, that we do not make a false start. Do not let us diverge into
the narrow way of bigotry and dogma. It is the property of exclusive
and intolerant error to dominate and to reign alone. For this
reason we systematically refuse and reject all control; and it is
thus men have been fatally led to lay a rash hand upon intellectual
liberty,--liberty, which the All-wise Himself has refrained from
touching! Such is the early taint of our race, the moral situation of

But retribution has followed close upon this violation of all that
is most sacred in our human world. The schools of philosophy, and
the infallible creeds, founded upon authority to the exclusion of
all mental and spiritual freedom, have never ceased to be at war
with one another, and instead of labouring for that union which is
strength,--that union so necessary to the happiness and advancement
of humanity,--they have everywhere sown irreconcilable antipathies
and bloody discords. Such is the religion of those who, under a
pretence of worshipping God, worship only themselves! History affords
us abundant illustrations of this melancholy truth.

Finally, let us return to our metamorphosis. The butterfly,
which the Greeks designated by the same word as the soul, ψυχή,
springs, like every living creature, from an egg. But see what a
transformation this egg undergoes! It becomes a caterpillar--a
transitory form of animal life, remarkable for its voracity; this
caterpillar is in its turn transformed; it grows into a chrysalis,--a
temporary tomb, and whence issues the winged insect, alone adapted to
the discharge of all the functions of a perfect animal. Gluttonous
and greedy of enjoyment, the caterpillar lived for itself. So the
caterpillar has no sex; while the butterfly hovers from flower to
flower, has to seek therein its own nourishment, there to find the
companion with whom its being is to be united.

       *       *       *       *       *

This metamorphosis impresses the observer; principally because its
periods are so distinct, and are so plainly marked by stages, which
have all the appearance of veritable species. But he would greatly
err if he thought it confined to a certain class of insects. All
insects,--nay, more, all animals, including man himself,--undergo
certain transformations in the course of their lives. Metamorphosis
plays an important part in the unity of the general scheme of
Creative Thought. If it is not always recognised, the reason is, that
its phases are not boldly marked, that the periods blend into one
another, that the various stages are effaced in the continuousness of
the transformation.

       *       *       *       *       *

But let not this continuity prevent the observer from detecting
or discerning _in that which is, that which is to come_. In the
caterpillar he must learn to see the chrysalis; in the chrysalis he
must be ready to recognise the future butterfly. And in all these
changes the thoughtful mind may acknowledge a significant emblem of
that immortality of the soul, that final transformation of humanity,
which the Word of God has promised to us:--

    "Child of the sun! pursue thy rapturous flight,
    Mingling with her thou lov'st in fields of light;
    And, where the fields of Paradise unfold,
    Quaff fragrant nectars from their cups of gold.
    There shall thy wings, rich as an evening sky,
    Expand and shut with silent ecstasy!
    Yet wert thou once a worm, a thing that crept
    On the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept.
    And such is man; soon from his cell of clay
    To burst a seraph in the blaze of day."[92]

To assure ourselves by observation that, in living matter, there
are organs irrevocably destined to decay or disappear, while others
incline and grow towards perfection, is certainly one of the noblest
studies imaginable. If philosophers, instead of employing their time
in profitless speculations, devoted themselves to the examination of
the great Book of Nature, God's second revelation, they would long
ago have discovered what they are still seeking.

And we should now know how to distinguish, in man as in the insect,
the rudimentary condition of his future life; and the belief in the
immortality of the soul would not only be the creed of the Christian,
but a scientific truth.


[Footnote 78: Reference is here invited to Humboldt's _thermal_ and
_isothermal_ lines. See Dr A. K. Johnston's "Physical Atlas," and
Humboldt's "Kosmos."]

[Footnote 79: Sir J. Herschel, "Preliminary Discourse on the Study of
Natural Philosophy."]

[Footnote 80: Professor Balfour's "Manual of Botany," pp. 566-568.]

[Footnote 81: Pliny, "Hist. Nat.," xxii. 46.]

[Footnote 82: Martial, "Epigram.," i. 21.]

[Footnote 83: "Annales des Sciences Naturelles," i. 18.]

[Footnote 84: Count de Castelnau, "Histoire Naturelle des
Coléoptères," i. 7.]

[Footnote 85: As recorded, in a condensed form, in _The Academy_
(Feb. 12, 1870), pp. 131, 132.]

[Footnote 86: This section is translated from M. Hoefer, without
addition or alteration.]

[Footnote 87: From these slow movements, which have been designated
the "secular inequalities," we might with some probability infer
the end of the world, which even Newton regarded as certain,--at
least, unless "the Great Architect at times retouched His work."
The inequalities or secular variations affect the elements of the
orbits, such as the inclination of the plane of the orbit,--the
semi-major axis of the ellipse, or the mean distance of the planet
from the sun,--the eccentricity of the ellipse, or the relation
between the distance which separates the forces from the centre
and the semi-major axis assumed to be unity,--and the movements of
the perihelions and the nodes. These elements change with extreme
slowness. Thus, the inclination of Jupiter diminishes by 8" in a
century; and that of Saturn increases by 9"; but the very ecliptic
varies,--it diminishes 33" in a century.

The variations of the eccentricities are scarcely computable by
centuries; their effect is, that the ellipses insensibly approach or
recede from a circular form.

It is demonstrated by mathematical analysis that these variations are
periodical, and confined within narrow limits, in such wise that "the
planetary system can oscillate only round a certain mean, from which
it never departs except by a very small quantity." But may not this
very mean, which we have taken to be constant, oscillate round a more
distant and still more constant mean?

Observation had long ago detected a continual acceleration in the
movement of Jupiter, and a not less certain diminution in the
movement of Saturn. Now, to say of a star that its velocity augments,
is to declare that it draws nearer its centre of movement. To say
that its velocity decreases, is to affirm that it is retiring from
that centre.

It would seem, therefore, that Jupiter,[88] the greatest of our
planets, is destined to be swallowed up, or absorbed, in the
incandescent mass of the Sun, while Saturn,[89] with its belt and
eight satellites, will gradually wander further and further into
the mysterious infinity of space. It is true enough that these
catastrophes are very distant,--distant to a period of time which
the human imagination cannot even grasp,--and the "common herd" will
certainly feel no anxious apprehension about an event which will not
take place until myriads of years have elapsed.

Yet, in the last century, the question excited the curiosity of
certain scientific societies, and they directed the attention of the
geometers to these formidable perturbations. Euler and Lagrange spent
their keen intellects upon them to no profit. Laplace discovered that
between the mean velocities of Jupiter and Saturn the ratios are
simple, and capable of calculation; five times the velocity of Saturn
perceptibly equals ten times the velocity of Jupiter. These terms,
which, in the regularly-decreasing and indefinite series, might have
been neglected, have acquired a value which was worthy of being taken
into consideration. From thence result, in the movements of the two
planets, those perturbations whose complete development necessitates
a period of upwards of nine hundred years.... This will be, then,
another periodic inequality.

But, independently of the centres, which we suppose to be in
themselves variable, may there not exist, in the space traversed by
our planet, some cause of perturbation? Is our system so isolated in
the universe that it neither receives nor loses aught of that which
constitutes its force and matter? Is there no solidarity between
its different worlds? And if this solidarity exists, is not their
transformation a necessity?]

[Footnote 88: The equatorial diameter of Jupiter in English miles is
56,065; its density is ·24 of the Earth's; its distance from the sun,
494,270,000 miles; inclination of its orbit to the ecliptic, 1° 18'

[Footnote 89: The equatorial diameter of Saturn in English miles is
79,147; its density, ·12, the Earth = 1; its distance from the sun,
906,200,000 miles; and the inclination of its orbit to the ecliptic,
2° 29' 36".]

[Footnote 90: Our author, it must be understood, is considering these
questions apart from the Scriptural standpoint.]

[Footnote 91: William Drummond.]

[Footnote 92: Samuel Rogers.]




The total Solar Eclipse, which is to render famous the month of
December in the present year--famous, that is, in astronomical
annals--deserves, we think, some special notice in our pages. In
1860, the _Himalaya_ was fitted out by Government for the use of
the _savants_ desirous of observing the Solar Eclipse visible that
year in Spain, and the results of the expedition were so important
as fully to warrant the liberality of the Government. The eclipse of
the present year will also be visible in Spain, but the path of the
sun's shadow will pass as far north as Cape Spartel, and, crossing
Algeria, will go northwards, _via_ Sicily, and in the direction of
Constantinople. The totality of the eclipse will not last so long
as that of the Indian eclipse in 1868. The sun will be hidden from
sight for no longer period than about two minutes twelve seconds, and
whatever observations our astronomers are anxious to make must be
made in that brief interval. It may not unreasonably be suggested
that, in so short a time, no data can be ascertained worth the
cost and trouble the proposed expedition will necessitate; but the
reader requires to be informed that the most valuable acquisitions
lately won in the region of solar physics have been the result of
observations which may almost be described as momentary.

What, then, is the important point on which our astronomers hope to
gain information from a close examination of the approaching eclipse?

This question has been ably answered by a well-informed writer in
the _Daily News_. The great problem to be solved is that of the
strange appearance of the solar corona; of that glory of light which
rings round the great luminary when totally eclipsed, to it, as some
astronomers assert, a purely optical phenomenon, or, as others more
reasonably declare, "one of the most imposing of all the features
of the solar system." It is true that the former opinion is held by
such men as Faye, Lockyer, and Professor Airy; but if it be founded
on fact, the phenomenon loses all its importance, and nearly all
its interest. If the other opinion prove correct, and the corona is
discovered to be in reality an appendage of the orb of day, then
the mind must at once acknowledge its unsurpassed splendour, its
magnificent proportions. As its glow and ethereal radiancy often
extends several degrees from the eclipsed sun, its diameter cannot be
less than 2,800,000 miles.

Assume, then, that it is shaped like a globe, that it is the globular
envelope (so to speak) of the sun, and we may conclude that its outer
boundary would at most enclose a volume twenty-seven times as large
as the sun's, or, in other words, _twenty-seven million times_ larger
than our terrestrial world.

It is in reference to this magnificent phenomenon that we hope to
obtain some satisfactory information in December 1870. The results
ascertained from the eclipse of 1868 proved to be almost directly
contradictory to those obtained last year in the United States,
and the problem now is, to discover _why_ these results were

In the meantime,--observes the writer already quoted,--some
astronomers say that the observations already made suffice to show
the real nature of the solar corona. "It has frequently happened
that, with the means of solving a problem ready at their hands,
astronomers have been content rather to wait till new observations
removed their doubts, than to undertake the work of carefully
analysing the facts already discovered. It is urged that the
atmospheric explanation (Faye's and Lockyer's) is opposed by simple
optical considerations; that the blackness of the moon's disc, in
the very heart of the corona, affords the most unmistakable evidence
that the moon lies nearer to us than the corona." The solar glare
which, according to Faye's theory, illuminates our atmosphere,
ought, according to this view--and ordinary reasoners will think
this argument irrefragable--to cover the lunar disc as well as the
surrounding heavens.

It is also argued, very forcibly, that the active atmosphere above
the horizon of the observer is partially obscured during total
eclipse, while all that part lying in the direction in which the
corona is seen is wholly shielded from the direct rays of the sun,
and cannot, therefore, furnish the "atmospheric glare" on which M.
Faye relies.

M. Faye's theory is powerfully combated in a paper read by Mr Proctor
before the Royal Astronomical Society, and a summary of which
appeared in "Nature."[93]

He remarked that if we in reality possess sufficient evidence to
determine whether the corona is or is not a solar appendage, it would
be unfortunate for, and in some sense a discredit to science, if the
precious seconds available for observers in December next were wasted
upon observations directed to such a point determinable beforehand.

He proceeded to express his belief that the corona was no terrestrial
phenomenon, arguing that the very blackness of the moon as compared
with the corona (to which we have already referred), shows that
the coronal splendour is _behind_ the moon. In fact, the moon is
projected on the corona as on a background; whereas, if the light be
due to atmospheric glare, the corona ought to be a foreground.

This argument, however, may fail on the ground of its very
simplicity. Mr Proctor, therefore, proceeded to inquire whether air
which lies between the observer and the corona is really illuminated.
He pointed out that all round the sun, for many degrees, perfect
darkness should prevail if the illumination of the atmosphere by
direct solar light were in question. As to the atmospheric glare
caused by the coloured flames and prominences of the sun's disc, it
must be comparatively small, bearing no higher proportion to the
actual light of the atmosphere than ordinary atmospheric glare bears
to actual sunlight,--a very small proportion indeed.

But a fatal objection to the theory that the corona is due either
to the glare from the prominences or to light reflected from the
surrounding air, consisted in the fact that the so-called glare ought
to cover the moon's disc.

Mr Proctor next referred to a number of observations in support
of the view that the coronal light is not terrestrial; such as
the appearance of glare during partial eclipses, the glare always
trenching on the lunar disc; the relatively greater darkness of the
central part of the lunar disc in annular eclipses; the visibility
of that part of the lunar disc which lies beyond the sun in partial
eclipses, the limb being seen dark on the background of the sky; and
the visibility of the corona in partial eclipses;--were its most
distinctive peculiarities, having been recognised when the sun's face
is not wholly covered.

What, then, _is_ the actual nature of the corona?

May it not consist of the denser parts of meteoric systems travelling
round the sun?

Leverrier has shown, and Mr Buxendell has helped to show, that the
motion of Mercury's perihelion indicates the presence of a ring
of bodies in the vicinity of the sun; but we have good reason for
believing that for each meteor system our earth encounters, there
must be millions on millions whose perihelia lie within the earth's
orbit. Since the earth meets with fifty-six such systems, it will be
seen how enormous probably is the total number.

Is, then, the corona simply the projection of these systems,
illuminated as they must be by an intensity of solar light exceeding
many hundred-fold that which illumines our summer days, nay, in
certain places, were raised by his heat to a state of incandescence?

       *       *       *       *       *

Such are some of the questions which, it is hoped, the eclipse of
December 1870 will help to solve; and we think our readers will
admit that their importance justifies us in looking forward to the
approaching phenomenon with anxious curiosity. The bounds of human
knowledge are gradually enlarging; and as they enlarge, they do but
more vividly illustrate the infinite wisdom and perfectness of the
scheme of creation.


Before bringing these pages to a close, and appending to our
description of Everyday Objects (everyday, but not commonplace) the
word "Finis," we wish to direct the reader's attention to the subject
of coloured stars; not because these beautiful spheres can be fairly
classed under our general title, but because they serve to show the
peculiar attractiveness and novelty of scientific inquiry, and the
wonderful results that spring from the persevering study of God's

To the eye of the ordinary observer, one star seems much like
another; these "lamps of night" differ, indeed, in brilliancy, in
their distance from the earth, in their relative magnitudes; but
to all appearance they exhibit a complete identity in physical
constitution, and their white light has furnished poetry with one of
its commonest images.

But the astronomer, armed with his wonder-revealing glass, has
discovered that innumerable stars are exquisitely coloured; that some
are blue, and others green, and others red. If on a clear night you
examine Perseus with your telescope, you will find that the star Eta
is of a glowing red. In the system of Ophiuchus you will encounter a
blue star; in that of Draco, a deep red star; Taurus has a large red
and a small bluish star; and in Argo, a blue sun is attended by a
dark-red satellite.

The stars occur in double, triple, or multiple groups or clusters;
and the systems so constituted differ from what we presumptuously
call _the_ Solar System in their colouring; and in this variety
or diversity, yet another variety is visible. The binary coloured
systems are not all composed of blue and red suns. In that of Gamma
Andromedæ the great central orb is of an orange hue, the moon
revolving round it green as emerald. What results from the marriage
of these two colours--from this union of orange and emerald? Do
we not see in it, says a French astronomer,[94] a combination,
if the phrase is allowable, full of youth (_assortiment plein de
jeunesse_)--a grand, a magnificent orange-coloured sun in the
midst of the firmament--next to it, a resplendent emerald, which
interweaves with the gold its greenish gleams?

The following lively picture is borrowed from the graphic pages of M.

There is more variety, he says, in the innumerable star-systems which
crowd the fields of space, than in all the changes which the most
skilful opticians can project on the screen of a magic lantern. Some
of the planetary universes lighted up by two suns display the entire
gamut of colours above blue, but are without the sparkling tints of
gold and purple which contribute so greatly to the luminosity of our

In this category may be placed certain systems situated in the
constellations of Andromedæ, the Serpent, Ophiuchus, and Coma

Others are illuminated by red suns, as, for example, a double star in

Others, again, are wholly dominated by blue and yellow, or, at least,
are kindled by a blue sun and a yellow sun, which afford but a
limited series of the tints or shades comprised in the combinations
of these primitive colours; such are the systems of Ceta, Eridanus
(where one is straw-coloured, the other blue), Cameleopardalis,
Orion, Rhinoceros, Gemini, Boötes (where the greater one is yellow,
and the lesser a greenish blue), and Cygnus (where the smaller is
"blue as a sapphire"). On the other hand, combinations of red and
green may be found in Cassiopeia, Coma Berenices, and Hercules.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are other stellar systems which, according to Flammarion,
more nearly approximate to our own, in the sense that one of the
suns illuminating them has, like ours, a white light,--the source
of all colours,--while its neighbouring luminary casts a permanent
reflection upon everything. Such, for instance, are the worlds
revolving round the great sun of Alpha, in Aries; this great sun is
white, but a smaller sun is constantly visible in the sky, whose
azure reflections cover as with "a diaphanous veil" the various
objects exposed to its rays. Number 26 in Ceta presents the same
conditions, which are those, too, of a great number of the most
brilliant stars. In the case of the worlds gravitating round the
principal world of these binary systems, the originative white
lustre would appear to create the infinite varieties noticeable upon
the earth, with the distinction, of course, that an azure gleam
constantly issues from the other sun; but for the planets gravitating
round the latter, the predominant colouring will be blue, tempered by
the action of the remoter white sun.

And just as white suns have blue suns for their companions, so
have red suns yellow, or _vice versâ_. What a strange and curious
radiance--like that of "a dome of many-coloured glass"--must be shed
upon a planet by its red and green or yellow and blue suns! What
striking contrasts, what fairylike changes, must be produced by a red
day and a green day succeeding alternately to a white day, or a day
of darkness! Why do not our poets take up such a theme as this? Can
they find aught more remarkable or more eëry in the dreams of their

Supposing that these wonderful spheres are surrounded, like Jupiter
or Saturn, by a ring of satellites, what can be their aspect when lit
up by several suns, each sun a source of different-coloured light?

This one, we may imagine, will be divided into hemispheres, red
and blue, that will suspend in the firmament a crescent of gold;
another will seem to drop from the azure circle like a gorgeous
cluster of emerald fruit. Ruby moons, opaline moons, moons of
jasper and amethyst,--all shining with a mystic and indescribable
radiance,--surely the heavens are decked with jewels like an Eastern

[Illustration: FIG. 82.--"Bright with the beauty of the silver moon."]

Our poets may chant the praises of our modest, simple nights, of our
calm, hushed heavens, bright only with the beauty of the silver moon,
which pours its pale lustre with a winning charm on town and tree, on
wood and lake. They may sing, as Barry Cornwall sings--

    "Now to thy silent presence, night!
      Is this my first song offer'd: oh! to thee
    That lookest with thy thousand eyes of light--
      To thee and thy starry nobility
    That float with a delicious murmuring--
      Though unheard here--about thy forehead blue;
      And as they ride along in order due,
    Circling the round globe in their wandering.
    To thee their ancient queen and mother sing....
    Not dull and cold and dark art thou:
    Who that beholds thy clearer brow,
    Endiademed with gentlest streaks
      Of fleecy-silver'd cloud, adorning
    Thee, fair as when the young sun wakes....
      But must feel thy powers."

In some such ecstatic strains as this we may laud our moonlit nights,
acknowledging in our heart of hearts the power of their silent,
subtle loveliness; but how shall we compare them with nights made
wonderful by a blending of golden and emerald fires? by the shifting
coruscations of stars of many colours?

But here we must conclude a dissertation which threatens to become a
rhapsody. It is difficult, however, to treat of such a theme, and to
follow up all its strange and startling suggestions, in sober prose.


The Alpine Flora, of which in a preceding section we have given a
very imperfect sketch, has been examined with loving minuteness by
Messrs Elijah Walton and T. G. Bonney; and other united results of
pen and pencil have been placed before the public in a handsome
volume entitled "Flowers from the Upper Alps, with Glimpses of
their Homes." A somewhat similar subject has been treated with much
delicacy of feeling and fervour of description by the Rev. Hugh
Macmillan, in his "Holidays in High Lands."

Among the Alpine plants sketched and described by Messrs Walton
and Bonney are the beautiful _Lychnis_, a close relative of our
corn-cockle and garden pink, and so called, says Gerard, the quaint
old botanist, because it is a "light-giving flower." He also met with
immense breadths of violet _pansies_,--"that's for thoughts," says
Ophelia,--covering the sloping pasture-grounds of the Col d'Autune,
and blending with rose and star gentians, soldanellas, primulas, and
anemones. The pink blossoms and bare stem of the _house leek_ is
found "among the blocks tumbled down from the ice-streams, and its
sparkling clusters seem to glow with a richer hue on the stony ruin
which has shattered the pine, and crushed the life even out of the

In the Glarus Alps the odorous crimson tufts of the _Kammblume_
are discovered in a profusion which rejoices and astonishes the
traveller. The yellow-blossomed _ragwort_ spreads its stem over
the rugged mountain-sides in every Alpine district. But next in
fame and beauty to the gentians,--which is, _par excellence_, the
mountain-flower,--must be placed the _edelwein_, celebrated by Kobele
and other famous poets, and growing in almost every part of the Alps
from Dauphiné to the Dolomites.

For further details respecting a most interesting branch of botany,
we refer the reader to the two works already named, and he will find
that the barrenest, stoniest slope of the Alpine rocks, the bleak
recesses where the ice river has its origin, and the rugged ledge
where the pitiless winds seem to expend their wildest fury, have
their objects of grace and beauty,--their gentle and ever-welcome
evidence of the Divine love, the Divine wisdom, and the Divine power,
as exercised for the delight of man in the remotest wildernesses of
the earth. The love of God is everywhere.


[Footnote 93: "Nature," vol. i. p. 543.]

[Footnote 94: Flammarion, "Les Merveilles Celestes," pp. 160, 161.]


    "Academy," the, quoted, 369-371.

    Achtysia, the genus, characteristics of, 353.

    _Aeshna grandis_, described, 178;
      _forcipata_, 178, 179.

    _Agaricus Cæsareus_, the, description of, 333, 334.

    Agarics, varieties of, characterised, 335, 336.

    Agarions, the, general characteristics of their form, 79.

    _Agarion virgo_, the, described, 179.

    Alps, the, an excursion among, 256-260.

    Alpine snail, the, remarkable transparency of, 71.

    _Amanita muscaria_, the, described, 328-330;
      its poisonous properties, 331-333.

    _Amanita solitarius_, the, description of, 331.

    Amphibia, the, number of species of, 361, 362.

    Anaximander, the author of the "Uranometria," his enumeration of
      the stars, 25.

    Ancients, the, their notion of the earth's shape, 104-107.

    Anemones, the, blossoming time of, 157, 158;
      their sensitiveness to atmospheric changes, 158;
      varieties of, 159;
      references to, by Drayton, 159-161.

    Animal life, distribution of, 357, 366.

    Antipodes, the, existence of, believed in by the ancients, 107;
      proved by Columbus, 108, 109.

    Arabs of the desert, the, their nomenclature for the stars, 22, 23.

    Aratus, the author of "Phenomena," quoted, 22.

    Arctic vole, the, discovery of, by M. Hugi, 50, 51;
      described by its discoverer, 51;
      examined and named by M. Martins, 51, 52.

    Arcturus, the star, its colour, 23.

    Argesilaus, the author of the "Uranometria," his enumeration of
       the stars, 25.

    Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, his theory of the globe's
       sphericity, 106;
      on the mole's want of sight, 267.

    Articulata, the, number of the species of, 362, 363.

    Arum, the, described, 161, 162;
      its root, 163;
      its alimentary properties, 163;
      its various species, 164, 165.

    Asterisms, origin of, 14.

    Atmosphere, the, illumination of, 313.

    Autumn, aspect of nature in, 366, 367.

    Bailey, P. J., the poet, quoted, 3.

    Balfour, Professor J. H., quoted, 208;
      on the diffusion of plants, 321-324.

    Bearded pink. _See_ SWEET WILLIAM.

    Birds, number of the species of, 359, 360.

    Black Hellebore, the, described, 168.

    Boehm, M. Joseph, his theory of the rise of sap, 136, 137.

    Boletus, the, of the Romans, 334.

    Boraginaceæ, the, characteristics of, 239-241.

    Bosc, the French naturalist, his reference to the alimentary
        properties of the Arum, 163;
      his career sketched, 163.

    Boyle, Robert, on the contemplation of the universe, 101, 102.

    Bradley, the astronomer, his discovery of the nutation of the
        earth, 12.

    Browning, Mrs E. B., her poetry characterised, 337;
      her "Aurora Leigh" quoted, 337, 338.

    Bug, the harvest, description of, 349-352.

    Burton, of the "Anatomy of Melancholy," quoted, 240.

    Buttercup, the, its bulbous roots, 166;
      its stimulating properties, 167.

    Byron, Lord, the poet, quoted, 101.

    Cæsalpin, the botanist, on the _Solanum nigrum_, 86.

    Callisto, the legend of, 9.

    Calypso, the island of, referred to, 19.

    Calyx, the, of flowers, parts of, 211.

    Campbell, Thomas, the poet, quoted, 236, 237.

    Candolle, De, his opinions on the nature of red snow, 41, 42.

    Cardinal points of the compass, how to ascertain our position in
        reference to the, 7, 8;
      process of determination of the, 17-19.

    Carew, Thomas, the poet, quoted, 100.

    Carnations, characterised by Jeremy Taylor and Drayton, 371;
      described, 372;
      varieties of, 373.

    Carnivora, the, distribution of, 358.

    Cassini, Jacques, his theory of the earth's form, 111, 112.

    Castle pink, the, described, 375, 376.

    Castelnau, the Count of, quoted, 363, 364.

    Cereals, the, range of, 323, 324.

    Cetacea, the, distribution of, 358;
      described, 208-215;
      curious forms of, 220-223.

    Chaldeans, the, their conception of the earth's shape, 105.

    Chamois, the, described, 56, 57.

    Chaucer, the poet, his description of the daisy quoted, 138, 140.

    Cheese mite, the, where found, 354;
      its ugly form, 355, 356.

    Chomel, the botanist, on the medical properties of the daisy,
      146, 147.

    Chlorophyll, experiments in, 368, 369.

    _Chrysomela salicinia_, the, described, 72.

    Clare, John, the Northamptonshire poet, on the dragon-fly, 175.

    Clematis, the, described, 168;
      celebrated by Keats, 168.

    Columbus, Christopher, his demonstration of the existence of the
        Antipodes, 108, 109.

    Compass, the, points of, 7.

    Constellations, table of the number of stars in the northern, southern,
        and zodiacal, 27, 28.

    _Convallaria majalis._ _See_ LILY OF THE VALLEY.

    Convolvulus, the, described, 383, 384.

    Copernicus, the astronomer, his theory of the earth's rotundity, 110;
      antiquity of his so-called theory, 118, 119.

    Cornwall, Barry, the poet, quoted, 229.

    Corolla, the, of flowers, 214, 215, 223;
      varieties of, 225-229.

    Crabbe, George, the poet, quotation from, 288.

    _Cynodon dactylon_, the, described, 91-93.

    Daisy, the, described by Chaucer, 138, 140;
      by Cowper, 139;
      by James Montgomery and William Browne, 140;
      its vegetation, 140, 141;
      described, 142-145;
      referred to by the ancients, 145;
      and by the botanists of the Middle Ages, 146;
      characterised by Wepfer, Tournefort, and Garidel, 147;
      its medical properties, 146, 147;
      George Withers' tribute to, 148;
      celebrated by Wordsworth, 149, 150;
      by Shakespeare and Milton, 151, 152.

    Darwin, Erasmus, the poet, on the pimpernel, 261.

    David's Chariot, position of, 8, 9.

    Day and night, varying length of, 198, 199.

    Delphos, the "navel of the world," 107.

    Democritus, the philosopher, on the Milky Way, 25.

    Dent de Jaman, the, described, 257.

    Desor, M., the Swiss naturalist, his discovery of the snow-flea,
       72, 73.

    _Desoria saltans_, the, described, 73;
      _glacialis_, description of, 74.

    Dial, floral, referred to and exemplified, 217, 218.

    Diodorus, the historian, quoted, 93, 94.

    Dioscorides, the author of "Materia Medica," his reference to
       Mercury's plant, 81;
      on the _Agrostis_, 95.

    Diurnal movement of the stars, origin of its discovery, 16.

    Dobell, Sydney, the poet, quoted, 129, 131.

    Dogma, folly of, 292.

    Dog Mercury, the, its power of propagation, 77, 78;
      described by Mr Sowerby, 78;
      how distinguished from weeds, 79;
      its diœcious character, 80;
      mentioned by Pliny the naturalist, 80, 81;
      and by Dioscorides, 81;
      its disappearance before the power of snow, 81.

    Dog-star, the. _See_ SIRIUS.

    Dog's-tooth grass, the, characteristics of, features of, described,
      its emollient properties, 96.

    Draco, the constellation of, known to the ancients, 22.

    Dragon-fly, the, described by the poets, 174, 175;
      its destructive properties, 175;
      the female, 182, 183;
      its metamorphosis, 183-187.

    Drayton, Michael, the poet, his description of a spring-time posy,
      on carnations, 371.

    Drummond, William, the poet, quoted, 399, 400.

    Dutrochet, the philosopher, his theory of the rise of sap, 136.

    Eagle, the, its affection for the mountains, 57;
      its flight described, 58-62;
      its nest, 62;
      the various species of, 62, 63.

    Earth, the, shape of, as conceived by Homer and Hesiod, 103, 104;
      by Seneca, 104;
      by the Chaldeans, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Zenophanes, 105;
      by Plato, 105, 106;
      by Eudoxes and Aristotle, 106;
      by the Greeks and Hebrews, 107;
      a problem, 398, 399.

    Earwig, the, form of, described, 278-280.

    Edelwein, the, in the Alps, description of, 418.

    Flammarion, M., on coloured stars, 414, 415.

    _Flos Adonis_, the, legend connected with, 169.

    Forficulæ, the, group of, characteristics of, 286.

    Forget-me-not, the, celebrated by Campbell the poet, 236, 237;
      described by Miss Pratt, 238;
      analysis of its form, 238, 239;
      legends connected with, 239, 240.

    Friendship, the test of, 141.

    Frigid zones, the, position of, 45, 46;
      the lizards of, described, 70, 71.

    Galileo, his discoveries in gravitation, 110, 111.

    Ganges, the banks of, described, 248.

    Garidel, the botanist, on the medical properties of the daisy, 147.

    Garden-lily, the, described, 248.

    Garden-nightshade, the, its extreme fertility, 82;
      description of, 83;
      by Tournefort, 84, 85, 89;
      its various forms, 85;
      its medical properties, 85-87.

    Genesis, the book of, quoted, 191.

    _Gentiana lutea_, the, its medical properties, 254.

    _Gentiana campestris_, described, 256, 257.

    Gentianaceæ, the family of, its characteristics described, 252-255;
      a Lilliputian specimen of, 255.

    Gentians, the, of the Alps, description of, 10.

    Gerard, the botanist, quoted, 418.

    Gesner, Conrad, the botanist, on the tulip, 154.

    Goethe, J. Wolfgang, the poet, quoted, 191.

    Gold-crowned wren, the, description of, 64;
      its partiality to the society of other birds, 64, 65;
      its gymnastic accomplishments, 65;
      its cosmopolitan character, 65, 66;
      its smallness of size, 66.

    Graetz's balls, origin of, stated, 55, 56.

    Gramineæ, the, general characteristics of, 88-90;
      how described by the naturalists of the Middle Ages, 95, 96.

    Gramen, the, Pliny the historian on, 94, 95.

    Grasshopper, the, described by Leigh Hunt, 274.

    Great Bear, the, origin of the story of, 9, 10;
      Homer's reference to, 10.

    Grew, the botanist, his theory of the rise of sap, 124;
      on the calyx of flowers, 211.

    Hay, aromatic, an instance of, 258.

    Heat, the action of, described, 313-317.

    Heavens, the, movement in, 115, 116.

    Hebrews, the, their conception of the earth's supports in space, 107.

    Hedgerows, the, wild climbing plants of, 382, 383.

    Hepatica, the, described, 168, 169.

    Herbs, the food of the primitive Egyptians, 93, 94.

    Hipparchus, the astronomer, his discovery of the precession of
       the equinoxes, 116;
      his astronomical researches, 291, 292.

    Homer, the poet, his reference to the Great Bear, 10, 19;
      and to Orion, 15;
      his scientific knowledge, 19;
      his conception of the earth's shape, 103, 104;
      quoted, 210.

    Honeycomb, the, of the bee, described, 85.

    Honeysuckle, the, celebrated by Scott, Burns, and Drayton, 380.

    Hood, Thomas, the poet, quoted, 190.

    Horace, the poet, quoted, 103.

    House leek, the, in the Alps, described, 418.

    Houston, Professor, his table of the distribution of wheat and
       barley, 324, 325.

    Howitt, Mary, the poetess, on the dragon-fly, 175.

    Hugi, M., the Swiss naturalist, his discovery of the Arctic vole,

    Humanity, the future of, 393.

    Human power, limitation of, 394.

    Hunt, Leigh, his poem on the grasshopper, quoted, 274.

    Huygens, the savant, his researches into the laws of gravitation,

    Immortality, an emblem of, in the metamorphosis of the caterpillar,
       402, 403.

    Infusoria, the, number of, 365.

    Inglis, Henry, the traveller, quoted, 142.

    Insects, the various orders of, enumerated, 280;
      the number of species of, 363, 364.

    Jonson, Ben, the dramatist, quoted, 207, 248, 400.

    Kane, Dr Elisha, the American explorer, his Arctic experiences, 39.

    Keats, the poet, quoted, 29, 168, 190, 244, 298.

    Kepler, the astronomer, his adoption of the theory of the earth's
       rotundity, 110.

    Lactantius, on the non-existence of the Antipodes, 108.

    La Hire, the French botanist, his theory of the rise of sap, 134.

    Landscape, a wintry, described, 5.

    Leaf-wasp, the, its mode of depositing its larvæ, 71, 72.

    Le Monnier, the French astronomer, on the theory of the nutation of
       the earth, 123.

    Lesser celandine, the, celebrated by Wordsworth, 166;
      described, 166.

    _Libellula cancellata_, described, 177.

    _Libellula grandis_, described, 178.

    Libellulæ, the family of, its characteristics, 174-183.
       _See_ DRAGON-FLY.

    Libellulites, the family of, its general characteristics, 179, 180.

    Liberty, a plea for intellectual, 407.

    Life, origin of, speculated upon, 390, 391.

    Light, the nature of, 192, 193;
      physiological facts concerning, 194-196;
      the theory of, 197, 198;
      chemical action of, 312, 313.

    Liliaceæ, the family of, its characteristics, 249, 250.

    Lily of the field, the, of the Gospels, described, 242, 243.

    Lily of the valley, the, described by Shakespeare, 242;
      its native countries, 242.

    Little Bear, the, position of, 11, 12;
      distinct from the Great Bear, 12;
      first recognised by the Phœnicians, 20.

    Little Vulcan, the, butterfly, described by Agassiz, 71.

    Longfellow, the poet, his description of Orion, 13;
      quoted, 128, 129.

    Lychnis, the, described, 418.

    Macgillivray, the naturalist, quoted, 59, 60.

    Macmillan, Rev. Hugh, quoted, 42-44.

    Malpighi, the botanist, his theory of the rise of sap, 135.

    Mammalia, the, summarised, 360.

    Manilius, the poet, his references to the Great Bear, quoted, 20, 21.

    Mant, Bishop, quoted, 63, 64.

    Mariotte, the botanist, his theory of the rise of sap, 135.

    Marmot, the, described, 53;
      its habits, 53, 54;
      the various species of, 55.

    Mars, the planet, referred to, 301, 302.

    Marsupialia, the, distribution of, 358.

    Martins, M., the naturalist, his examination and description of
       the Arctic vole, 51, 52.

    Marvell, Andrew, the poet, quoted, 217.

    Matter, forms of living, 388, 389.

    _Mercurialis annua._ _See_ DOG MERCURY.

    Metamorphosis, the function of, in nature, 401, 402.

    Milton, his allusion to the daisy, quoted, 151, 152.

    Mole, the, peculiar movements of, 265, 266;
      described, 267;
      Aristotle and Pliny on its want of sight, 267;
      its hands and fingers, 268;
      its favourite haunts, 269;
      marvellous properties ascribed to, 270, 271.

    Mole-cricket, the, its form and habits described, 273-278.

    Mollusca, the, number of species of, 362.

    Moon, influence of, on the weather, 30, 31.

    Moore, Thomas, the poet, his characterisation of the dragon-fly, 174;
      his allusion to the water-lily of the East, 246.

    Mountain pink, the, described, 374, 375.

    Mushroom, the, how to be distinguished, 327, 328;
      some varieties of, described, 329-337.

    Mutability, the lesson of, 316.

    _Myosotis palustris._ _See_ FORGET-ME-NOT.

    Nature, beauty and suggestiveness of, 339;
      our imperfect knowledge of, 341, 342;
      the infinite diversity of, 365.

    _Nebria escheri_ described, 72;
      _chevrierii_, 72.

    Newman, Mr, author of "History of British Insects," quoted, 285.

    Newton, Sir Isaac, his theories as to the form of the earth, 111, 112.

    _Nuphar lutea_, the, described, 245.

    Nutation of the earth, the, explained, 120, 121, 123;
      its discovery, 121, 122.

    Observer, the, of nature, 4, 5.

    _Œnothera biennis_, described, 216, 218, 219.

    Orion, the occultation of, its position in the heavens, 14;
      its place in the old mythology, 15.

    Pachydermata, the, distribution of, 359.

    Parry, Captain, on the nature of red snow, 41.

    Perianth, the, of flowers, 208.

    Perrault, the botanist, his theory of the rise of sap, 135.

    Petals, the, of flowers, described, 109, 224-227.

    Phœnicians, the, their knowledge of the Great and Little Bears,
       20, 21.

    _Physalis alkekengi_, described, 222.

    Pilgran, the meteorologist, his researches into the nature of
       climate, 31.

    Pimpernel, the, all about, 260-264.

    Pinks, the various kinds of, described, 374.

    Planets, the, whether inhabited, 395.

    Plants, discovery of the sex of, 207;
      appropriate to certain soils, 320, 321;
      diffusion of, 321-325;
      classification of, 343-345.

    Plato, the philosopher, his notion of the form of the globe, 105, 106.

    Pliny, the naturalist, on numbering the stars, 25;
      his reference to red snow, 39;
      and to the mercurialis, 80, 81;
      on the gramen, 94, 95;
      his reference to the daisy, 146;
      on the mole, 270, 271.

    Plutarch, the historian, on the probability of the existence of the
       antipodes, 108.

    _Podura plumbea_, the, described, 74, 75.

    Polar Star, the, its position in the heavens, 18.

    Poles, day at the, 200, 201.

    _Polygala vulgaris_, the, described, 213.

    Pointers, constellation of the, referred to, 22.

    Pratt, Miss, on the forget-me-not, 238.

    Proctor, R. A., on solar phenomena, 410, 411.

    _Protococcus nivalis_, the plant described, 42-44.

    Prunella, the, or "self-heal," described, 230-233.

    Ptolemæus, his enumeration of the constellations, 24;
      his acquaintance with the so-called Copernican theory, 119;
      astronomical theories of, 297, 298.

    Pythagoras, the philosopher, his familiarity with the so-called
       Copernican theory, 119.

    Quadrumana, the, distribution of, 357, 358.

    Ramond, the naturalist, his researches in the natural history of
       red snow, 40, 41.

    Ranunculaceæ, the, general characteristics of, 166-169.

    Ray, the botanist, on the daisy, 146.

    Red-billed crow, the, its appearance described, 68, 69;
      its habits, 69;
      the history of one which had been tamed, 69, 70.

    Red snow, known to Pliny, the naturalist, 39;
      first described scientifically by De Saussure, 39, 40;
      discovered by Ramond in the Pyrenees, 40;
      by Captain Ross in Baffin's Bay, 41;
      described by Sir John Ross, 41;
      a fungus (?) 41.

    Reptiles, the, distribution of, 361.

    Rhizomes, or trailing roots, referred to, 88, 89.

    Rhodius, Apollonius, the poet, quoted, 20.

    Rodentia, the, distribution of, 358.

    Rogers, the poet, quoted, 403.

    Ruminantia, the, how distributed, 358.

    Salamanca, the council of, referred to, 108.

    Sap, the circulation of, 132;
      its ascent and descent, 133;
      theories concerning the rise of, 134-137.

    Saussure, Benedict de, the naturalist, his observations on red snow,
       39, 40.

    Science, unselfishness of, 76;
      the peculiar characteristics of, 133.

    Scutellariæ, the, characteristics of, indicated, 235, 236.

    Seasons, the, changes of, 204, 205.

    Seneca, the philosopher, his conception of the earth's support in
       space, 104.

    Shakespeare, his allusions to the daisy, quoted, 150, 151;
      the lily described by, 242.

    Shelley, the poet, quoted, 152.

    Sirius, the star, its colour, 26;
      deleterious influence ascribed to, by the Greeks, 23, 24.

    Snow, the, preservation of the germ of life in seeds and roots, 32;
      its composition, 32, 33;
      the reason of its preservative qualities, 34;
      in the form of crystals, 34; a reflector of light, 37;
      its utility to the agriculturist, 37;
      in the polar regions, 38, 39;
      red snow, _which see_.

    Snow-bunting, the, description of, 66, 67;
      its favourite localities, 67, 68.

    Snow, perpetual, the line of, where situated, 47;
      its variations, 48.

    Snow-flea, the, its discovery narrated, 72, 73;
      its generic characters, 74.

    Soapwort, the, described, 378;
      its juice, 378, 379.

    Soil, effect of temperature upon, 317;
      cultivation of, 318-320;
      plants appropriate to different kinds of, 320, 321.

    _Solanum nigrum_, the, described, 82-85.

    Solar corona, the, nature of, 409-412.

    Solar eclipse of 1870, the, considered, 407-412.

    Solstices, the summer and winter, 45.

    Somerville, Mrs, quoted, 289.

    Sowerby, Mr, on the _Mercurialis annua_, 78.

    Species, number of vegetable, 339, 340, 347, 348;
      number of animal, 356.

    Spencer, Edmund, the poet, quoted, 2.

    Spring, the awakening of, described, 127-131.

    _Staphylium olens_, described, 271-273.

    Stars, the, their infinite number, 4;
      their diurnal movement, 15-17;
      coloured, 412-417.

    Stellaria, the, characteristics of, enumerated, 378.

    Strickland, Miss, on the legend of the forget-me-not, 240.

    Struve, Otto, his computation of the number of the stars, 25, 26.

    Sun, the, movements of, in the heavens, 292-296;
      length of its radius, 296, 297.

    Sweetbriar, the, celebrated by Spenser, Milton, Scott, and Drayton,
      by Shakespeare, 381.

    Taylor, Jeremy, on carnations, 371.

    Telescopes, importance of their invention to science, 26.

    Temperate zones, the, reference to, 45.

    Temperature, effect of, on soil, 317.

    Tennyson, Alfred, the poet, quoted, 6, 7, 57, 183, 247, 319.

    Theophrastus, an ancient writer, on the _Agrostis_, 95.

    Thomson, James, the poet, quoted, 32, 100.

    Thought, freedom of, asserted, 311;
      indestructibility of, 392.

    Toaldo, the Italian meteorologist, his researches into the phenomena
       of climate, 31.

    Tournefort, the naturalist, his description of the _Solanum nigrum_,
       84, 85, 87;
      quoted, 96, 234;
      on the medical properties of the daisy, 147.

    Tragus, the botanist, his account of the _Solanum nigrum_, 86.

    _Triticum repens_, the, described, 93.

    Tschudi, M., the naturalist, his description of a red-billed crow,
       quoted, 69, 70.

    Tulip, the, described, 152, 153;
      its introduction into Europe, 153;
      its cultivation, 154, 155.

    Twilight, phenomena of, 205.

    Vertebrata, the, orders of, 362.

    Vole, the Arctic. _See_ ARCTIC VOLE.

    Voltaire, François Arouet, his popularisation of the Newtonian
       philosophy, 113.

    Walton, Isaak, his eulogium on the strawberry, 244.

    Water, the crystallisation of, instanced and described, 36, 37.

    Water-lily, the, described by Keats and Mrs Hemans, 244;
      by Wordsworth, 245;
      analysis of its form, 245;
      of the East, described, 246.

    Water-ranunculus, the, description of, 167.

    Winters, instances of some severe, 29, 30.

    Winter-time, appropriate for the observation of celestial phenomena, 3;
      the passing away of, and merging into spring, 96, 97.

    Withering, the botanist, on the _Solanum nigrum_, 86.

    Wither, George, the poet, his tribute to the daisy, quoted, 148.

    Wood-louse, the, its characteristics enumerated, 169-172;
      another species of, 173.

    Wordsworth, William, the poet, his celebration of the daisy, quoted,
       149, 150;
      his poem on the lesser celandine, 166;
      his reference to the lily of the valley, 245;
      quoted, 375.

    Wren, the, described by Bishop Mant, 63, 64;
      its habits stated, 64.

    Yellow water-lily, the, description of, 245.

    Zodiac, the, constellations of, 114, 115.

    _Zootoca pyrrhogastra_, the, described, 70.


    _Crown 8vo, Elegantly Bound in Cloth and Gold, Price 5s._,

    Studies of Nature and Pictures of the Seasons.

    _With Numerous Illustrations._



    =Bell's Weekly Messenger.=

"Its purpose is to tell both young and old, but especially the
former, how much of interest there is in everything connected with
nature, its resources and productions during the progress of the
year, and how, month after month, animals, insects, trees, shrubs,
flowers, and even weeds have their several functions to fill, and the
manner of their doing so.... The illustrations, which are numerous,
greatly increase the value of the volume."

    =The Observer.=

"_The Circle of the Year_ is essentially a book for the country. The
townsman may indeed read it to profit, but it will assuredly raise
within him a hankering to be out in the fields, wandering along
the green lanes among the trailing hedge-flowers, or attempting to
realize the curious fact that a lily of the valley is first cousin to
an asparagus."

    =The Berwick Warder.=

"It is a healthy and vigorous work, which none can fail to profit

    =The Border Advertiser.=

"The book is therefore really what it professes to be, a picture of
the seasons, and very beautiful and engaging, many of the pictures
being drawn in fine sympathy with the outward beauty, and in harmony
with the inward spirit lying not deeply under all God's beautiful
works. The book is laden with fine thoughts and pleasing observation,
and is a handsome and valuable volume for the young."

    =The Perth Advertiser.=

"Mr Adams has done his work well.... We might liken him to the master
of a panorama, only his figures are of the sublimest order--such as,
the procession of the seasons on the earth, and the corresponding
procession of the constellations in the heavens."

    =Public Opinion.=

"_The Circle of the Year_ should be placed in the hands of all those
who are curious to know what beautiful secrets the silent operations
of nature disclose."

    =The News of the World.=

"A book which leads to a contemplation of nature in its varying
aspects, is of unfailing interest and attraction; and just such a
book is the one before us.... The book is a companion for all seasons
of the year."

    =The Aberdeen Free Press.=

"The book will be found indeed a very pleasant and instructive one."

    =The Edinburgh Courant.=

"Its aim is to teach the unscientific observer how to make use of his
eye,--'how to look, and what to look at;' and to show him how much
of wonder and beauty lies everywhere around him, if he could only
recognise it."

    =The Scotsman.=

"_The Circle of the Year_ is a superior class of gift-book.... It
is a loving and laborious exposition of a great variety of natural
phenomena, as they may be observed in the course of the year by the
student of natural history, written in such a pleasing style, and
adorned with so many illustrations, literary and familiar, that the
thoughtful youth who once commences its perusal, is certain to be
carried by it through the whole cycle of the seasons."

    =The Queen.=

"The work is replete with interesting observation; legends connected
with the subjects treated upon are introduced, and the pages are
interspersed with many excellent illustrations."

    =The Sunday Times.=

"The book is charmingly got up in all respects, with good letterpress
and abundance of illustrations."

    =The Kelso Mail.=

"In a number of daily walks, a vast amount of curious and instructive
information is imparted to the reader, who cannot leave these studies
of nature without being wiser, and perhaps better than he was
before. The illustrations are numerous and excellent, the typography
beautiful, and the binding elegant."

    =The Aberdeen Journal.=

"The book is founded on a French work, _Les Saisons_, and the object
of author and editor is to teach the unscientific observer how to
make use of his eyes--_how_ to look, and _what_ to look at. The
book is written in a popular style, befitting its pretensions, and
numerous woodcuts illustrate the text, while poetry is freely used
with effect."

    _Crown 8vo, Elegantly Bound in Cloth and Gold, Price 5s._,

    English Worthies in the Reign of Elizabeth.

    _Profusely Illustrated._



The Morning Advertiser.

"The handsome and studious volume before us contains memorials of
the men who fought and wrote and meditated under Elizabeth, that we
owe the brightest glories of our literature, the rise and permanence
of our power, the world-wide expansion of our commerce, and, as a
consequence, our national wealth, which is 'power.'"

The Dumfries Herald.

"The biographies of these men, compiled from the best sources, are
given in a lively and interesting style, and nothing, we fancy, could
be more welcome to the youthful readers, for whom the volume is
principally designed, than the gift of such a book."

The Athenæum.

"In the lives of Raleigh and Hawkins, Gilbert, Cavendish, Drake,
Philip Sydney, and Shakespeare, a portion of the heroism and
intellect of the Elizabethan period is here illustrated.... The
purpose is so good, and the work so honestly done, that we cannot but
warmly commend both. A more wholesome book for young readers we have
seldom seen. It is one, moreover, in which faded memories may dip and
be refreshed."

The Court Journal.

"The author has bestowed much care in the compilation of the volume,
the best sources of information only having been chosen."

The Inverness Courier.

"The whole breathes a healthy, manly, patriotic spirit, which every
one must wish to see fostered among the youth of this utilitarian
age. The volume is beautifully printed and illustrated."

The London Scotsman.

"In the plain but comparatively accurate record of the deeds of these
'brave men of old' which Mr Adams has furnished, there can be no
doubt that he has done much to add to the information of his older
and to stimulate the patriotism of his younger readers."

    _Post 8vo, Elegantly Bound, Price 6s._,



    English Worthies in the Old English Period.



    _With Illustrations by F. Barnard._


    Popular and Standard Books


*** Complete Catalogue of Mr. NIMMO'S Publications, choicely printed
and elegantly bound, suitable for the Library, Presentation, and
School Prizes, etc. etc., will be forwarded gratis, post free, on

'_Mr. Nimmo's books are well known as marvels of cheapness, elegance,
and sterling worth._'--OBSERVER.


In fcap. 8vo, printed on toned paper, elegantly bound in cloth extra,
with beautifully illuminated imitation ivory tablet on side, price
3s. 6d.; also kept in cloth extra, gilt edges, without tablet; also
in full calf, gilt edges, full gilt back; in fine morocco, plain,
price 7s. 6d. Each Volume contains a Memoir, and is illustrated with
a Portrait of the Author engraved on Steel, and numerous full-page
Illustrations on Wood, from designs by eminent Artists; also
beautiful Illuminated Title-page.













    12. THE CASQUET OF GEMS. Choice Selections
    from the Poets.


    14. BALLADS: Scottish and English.





       *       *       *       *       *

*** This Series of Books, from the very superior manner in which
it is produced, is at once the cheapest and handsomest edition of
the Poets in the market. The volumes form elegant and appropriate
Presents as School Prizes and Gift-Books, either in cloth or morocco.

      'They are a marvel of cheapness, some of the volumes extending to
      as many as 700, and even 900, pages, printed on toned paper in
      a beautifully clear type. Add to this, that they are profusely
      illustrated with wood engravings, are elegantly and tastefully
      bound, and that they are published at 3s. 6d. each, and our
      recommendation of them is complete.'--_Scotsman._


_New Series of Choice Books, beautifully printed on superfine paper,
profusely Illustrated with original Engravings by the first Artists,
and elegantly bound in cloth extra, plain edges, price 3s. 6d. each,
or richly bound in cloth and gold, and gilt edges, price 5s. each._


      =1. Almost Faultless: A Story of the Present Day.= By the Author of
      'A Book for Governesses.'

'The author has written a capital story in a high moral tone.'--_The
Court Journal._


      =2. Lives of Old English Worthies before the Conquest. By W. H.

'The author's aim is to illuminate, what may be regarded as obscure,
certain periods of historic England, accompanied with biographical


      =3. Every-Day Objects; or, Picturesque Aspects of Natural History.


      =4. My Schoolboy Friends: A Story of Whitminster Grammar School.
      By ASCOTT R. HOPE=, Author of 'A Book about Dominies,' 'Stories of
      School Life,' etc.

'This is a most interesting book. Boys, for whom it is especially
written, will thoroughly enjoy it.'--_Westminster Review._


      =5. Drifted and Sifted: A Domestic Chronicle of the Seventeenth

'The author of this interesting, and we may add pathetic, story
appears to possess the art of reproducing bygone times with much
ability.'--_The Record._

      =6. Warrior, Priest, and Statesman; or, English Heroes in the
      Thirteenth Century. By W. H. DAVENPORT ADAMS.=

      =7. Totty Testudo. The Life and Wonderful Adventures of Totty
      Testudo. An Autobiography by FLORA F. WYLDE.=

'The book is of engrossing interest, and the reader will be
astonished, as he lays it down, to find that he has been able to get
so much entertainment and instruction from the personal adventures of
a tortoise.'--_Inverness Courier._

      =8. On Holy Ground; or, Scenes and Incidents in the Land of
      Promise. By EDWIN HODDER=, Author of 'Memories of New Zealand
      Life,' 'The Junior Clerk,' etc.


_Crown 8vo, beautifully printed on superfine paper, profusely
Illustrated by eminent Artists, in cloth extra, plain edges, price
3s. 6d. each, or richly bound in cloth and gold, and gilt edges,
price 5s. each._


      =1. Sword and Pen; or, English Worthies in the Reign of Elizabeth.

'A more _wholesome_ book for young readers we have seldom
seen.'--_The Athenæum._


      =2. Norrie Seton; or, Driven to Sea. By Mrs. George Cupples,
      Author of 'Unexpected Pleasures,' etc.=

'Mrs. Cupples has given to the boys in this volume just the sort of
sea-story with which they will be delighted.'--_The Scotsman._


      =3. The Circle of the Year; or, Studies of Nature and Pictures of
      the Seasons. By W. H. DAVENPORT ADAMS.=

'Its purpose is to tell both young and old, but especially the
former, how much of interest there is in everything connected with
Nature.'--_Bell's Messenger._


      =4. The Wealth of Nature: Our Food Supplies from the Vegetable
      Kingdom. By the Rev. JOHN MONTGOMERY, A.M.=

'It would be difficult to put into the hands of any boy or girl a
volume which more equally combines the instructive and interesting in
literature.'--_N. B. Mail._


      =5. Stories of School Life. By Ascott R. Hope.=

      =6. Stories of French School Life. By Ascott R. Hope.=

'We were among the many who greatly admired Mr Hope's "Stories of
School Life" and "Stories about Boys," and when we found that he
had undertaken to illustrate French school life, we gladly opened
the volume. The stories are interesting in the highest degree; they
appeal to the best sympathies of the lads for whom they are written.
They set forth the right and the true against the false, and they are
full of good, hearty humour.'--_Public Opinion._


_A Series of excellent Works, profusely Illustrated with original
Engravings by the first Artists, choicely printed on superfine paper,
and elegantly bound in cloth and gold, and gilt edges, crown 8vo,
price 3s. 6d. each._

      =1. Tales of Old English Life; or, Pictures of the Periods. By
      WILLIAM FRANCIS COLLIER, LL.D.,= Author of 'History of English
      Literature,' etc.

      =2. Mungo Park's Life and Travels.= With a Supplementary Chapter,
      detailing the results of recent Discovery in Africa.

      =3. Benjamin Franklin: A Biography. From the celebrated 'Life' by
      JARED SPARKS=, and the more recent and extensive 'Life and Times'
      by JAMES PARTON.

      =4. Wallace, the Hero of Scotland: A Biography. By JAMES PATERSON.=

      =5. Men of History. By Eminent Writers.=

      =6. Women of History. By Eminent Writers.=

      =7. Old-World Worthies; or, Classical Biography. Selected from

      =8. Epoch Men, and the Results of their Lives. By Samuel NEIL.=

      =9. The Mirror of Character. Selected from the Writings of

      =10. Wisdom, Wit, and Allegory. Selected from 'The Spectator.'=

      =11. The Spanish Inquisition: Its Heroes and Martyrs. By JANET
      GORDON=, Author of 'Champions of the Reformation,' etc.

      =12. The Improvement of the Mind. By Isaac Watts, D.D.=

      =13. The Man of Business considered in Six Aspects.= A Book for
      Young Men.

*** This elegant and useful Series of Books has been specially
prepared for School and College Prizes: they are, however, equally
suitable for General Presentation. In selecting the works for
this Series, the aim of the Publisher has been to produce books
of a permanent value, interesting in manner and instructive in
matter--books that youth will read eagerly and with profit, and which
will be found equally attractive in after-life.


_A series of entertaining and instructive volumes, profusely
Illustrated with original Engravings by the first Artists, choicely
printed on superfine paper, and elegantly bound in cloth and gold,
and gilt edges, crown 8vo, price 3s. 6d. each._

      =1. Christian Osborne's Friends. By Mrs. Harriet Miller DAVIDSON=,
      Author of 'Isobel Jardine's History,' and Daughter of the late
      Hugh Miller.

      =2. Round the Grange Farm; or, Good Old Times. By JEAN L. WATSON=,
      Author of 'Bygone Days in our Village,' etc.

      =3. Stories about Boys. By Ascott R. Hope=, Author of 'Stories of
      School Life,' 'My Schoolboy Friends,' etc. etc.

      =4. George's Enemies: A Sequel to 'My Schoolboy Friends.' By
      ASCOTT R. HOPE=, Author of 'Stories about Boys,' etc. etc.

      =5. Violet Rivers; or, Loyal to Duty. A Tale for Girls. By
      WINIFRED TAYLOR=, Author of 'Story of Two Lives,' etc.

      =6. Wild Animals and Birds: Curious and Instructive Stories about
      their Habits and Sagacity.= With numerous Illustrations.

      =7. The Twins of Saint-Marcel: A Tale of Paris Incendie. By Mrs.
      A. S. ORR=, Author of 'The Roseville Family,' etc. etc.

      =8. Rupert Rochester, the Banker's Son. A Tale. By WINIFRED
      TAYLOR=, Author of 'Story of Two Lives,' etc.

      =9. The Story of Two Lives; or, The Trials of Wealth and Poverty.
      By WINIFRED TAYLOR=, Author of 'Rupert Rochester,' etc.

      =10. The Lost Father; or, Cecilia's Triumph. A Story of our own
      Day. By DARYL HOLME.=

      =11. Friendly Fairies; or, Once upon a Time.=

      =12. The Young Mountaineer; or, Frank Miller's Lot in Life. The
      Story of a Swiss Boy. By DARYL HOLME.=

      =13. Stories from over the Sea.= With Illustrations.

      =14. The Story of a Noble Life; or, Zurich and its Reformer Ulric
      Zwingle. By Mrs. HARDY (JANET GORDON)=, Author of 'The Spanish
      Inquisition,' 'Champions of the Reformation,' etc. etc.

      =15. Stories of Whitminster. By Ascott R. Hope=, Author of 'My
      Schoolboy Friends,' 'Stories about Boys,' etc. etc.

*** The object steadily kept in view in preparing the above series
has been to give a collection of works of a thoroughly healthy
moral tone, agreeably blending entertainment and instruction. It is
believed this end has been attained, and that the several volumes
will be found eminently suitable as Gift Books and School Prizes,
besides proving of permanent value in the Home Library.


Extra foolscap 8vo, cloth elegant, gilt edges, Illustrated, price 2s.
6d. each.

      =1. Memorable Wars of Scotland. By Patrick Fraser Tytler,
      F.R.S.E.,= Author of 'The History of Scotland,' etc.

      =2. Seeing the World: A Young Sailor's own Story, By CHARLES
      NORDHOFF=, Author of 'The Young Man-of-War's-Man.'

      =3. The Martyr Missionary: Five Years in China. By Rev. CHARLES P.
      BUSH, M.A.=

      =4. My New Home: A Woman's Diary.=

      =5. Home Heroines: Tales for Girls. By T. S. Arthur=, Author of
      'Life's Crosses,' etc.

      =6. Lessons from Women's Lives. By Sarah J. Hale.=

      =7. The Roseville Family. A Historical Tale of the Eighteenth
      Century. By Mrs. A. S. ORR=, Author of 'Mountain Patriots,' etc.

      =8. Leah. A Tale of Ancient Palestine. Illustrative of the Story
      of Naaman the Syrian. By Mrs. A. S. ORR.=

      =9. Champions of the Reformation: The Stories of their Lives. By

      =10. The History of Two Wanderers; or, Cast Adrift.=

      =11. Beattie's Poetical Works.=

      =12. The Vicar of Wakefield. By Oliver Goldsmith.=

      =13. Edgar Allan Poe's Poetical Works.=

      =14. The Miner's Son, and Margaret Vernon. By M. M. POLLARD=,
      Author of 'The Minister's Daughter,' etc. etc.

      =15. How Frank began to Climb the Ladder, and the Friends who lent
      him a hand. By CHARLES BRUCE=, Author of 'Lame Felix,' etc.

      =16. Conrad and Columbine. A Fairy Tale. By James MASON.=

      =17. Aunt Ann's Stories. Edited by Louisa Loughborough.=

      =18. The Snow-Sweepers' Party, and the Tale of Old Tubbins. By R.
      ST. JOHN CORBET=, Author of 'Mince Pie Island,' etc. etc.

      =19. The Story of Elise Marcel.= A Tale for Girls.


Two Shilling Reward Books.

_Foolscap 8vo, Illustrated, elegantly bound in cloth extra, bevelled
boards, gilt back and side, gilt edges, price 2s. each._

      =1. The Far North: Explorations In the Arctic Regions. By ELISHA
      KENT KANE, M.D.=

      =2. Great Men of European History. From the Beginning of the
      Christian Era till the Present Time. By DAVID PRYDE, M.A.=

      =3. The Young Men of the Bible. A Series of Papers, Biographical
      and Suggestive. By Rev. JOSEPH A. COLLIER.=

      =4. The Blade and the Ear: A Book for Young Men.=

      =5. Monarchs of Ocean: Columbus and Cook.=

      =6. Life's Crosses, and How to Meet them. By T. S. Arthur.=

      =7. A Father's Legacy to his Daughters, etc. A Book for Young
      Women. By Dr. GREGORY.=

      =8. Mountain Patriots. A Tale of the Reformation in Savoy. By
      Mrs. A. S. ORR.=

      =9. Labours of Love: A Tale for the Young. By Winifred Taylor.=

      =10. Mossdale: A Tale for the Young. By Anna M. De Iongh.=

      =11. The Standard-Bearer. A Tale of the Times of Constantine the
      Great. By ELLEN PALMER.=

      =12. Jacqueline. A Story of the Reformation in Holland. By Mrs.


Home and School Reward Books.

_Foolscap 8vo, Illustrated, elegantly bound in cloth extra, bevelled
boards, gilt back and side, gilt edges, price 2s. each._

      =1. Lame Felix. A Book for Boys. By Charles Bruce.=

      =2. Picture Lessons by the Divine Teacher; or, Illustrations of
      the Parables of our Lord. By PETER GRANT, D.D.=

      =3. Nonna: A Story of the Days of Julian the Apostate. By Ellen

      =4. Philip Walton; or, Light at Last. By the Author of 'Meta
      Frantz,'= etc.

      =5. The Minister's Daughter, and Old Anthony's Will. Tales for
      the Young. By M. M. POLLARD=, Author of 'The Miner's Son,' etc.

      =6. The Two Sisters. By M. M. Pollard.=

      =7. A Needle and Thread: A Tale for Girls. By Emma J. Barnes=,
      Author of 'Faithful and True, or the Mother's Legacy.'

      =8. Taken Up: A Tale for Boys and Girls. By A. Whymper.=

      =9. An Earl's Daughter. By M. M. Pollard.=

      =10. Life at Hartwell; or, Frank and his Friends. By Katharine
      E. MAY=, Author of 'Alfred and his Mother,' etc. etc.

      =11. Stories Told in a Fisherman's Cottage. By Ellen Palmer=,
      Author of 'Nonna,' 'The Standard-Bearer,' etc. etc.

      =12. Max Wild, the Merchant's Son; and other Stories for the


Sunday-School Reward Books.

_Foolscap 8vo, cloth extra, gilt edges, Illustrated, price 1s. 6d.

      =1. Bible Blessings. By Rev. Richard Newton.=

      =2. One Hour a Week: Fifty-two Bible Lessons for the Young.=

      =3. The Best Things. By Rev. Richard Newton.=

      =4. The Story of John Heywood: A Tale of the Time of Harry VIII.
      By CHARLES BRUCE-, Author of 'How Frank began to Climb,' etc.

      =5. Lessons from Rose Hill; and Little Nannette.=

      =6. Great and Good Women: Biographies for Girls. By LYDIA H.

      =7. At Home and Abroad; or, Uncle William's Adventures.=

      =8. Alfred and his Mother; or, Seeking the Kingdom. By KATHARINE
      E. MAY.=

      =9. Asriel; or, The Crystal Cup. By Mrs. Henderson.=

      =10. The Kind Governess; or, How to make Home Happy.=

      =11. Percy and Ida. By Katharine E. May.=

      =12. Three Wet Sundays with the Book of Joshua. By Ellen PALMER=,
      Author of 'Christmas at the Beacon,' etc. etc.

      =13. The Fishermen of Galilee; or, Sunday Talks with Papa. By


Sunday and Week-Day Reward Books.

_Foolscap 8vo, cloth extra, gilt edges, Illustrated, price 1s. 6d.

      =1. The Sculptor of Bruges.= By Mrs. W. G. Hall.

      =2. From Cottage to Castle; or, Faithful in Little. A Tale
      founded on Fact.= By M. H., Author of 'The Red Velvet Bible,' etc.

      =3. Christmas at the Beacon. By Ellen Palmer.=

      =4. The Sea and the Savages: A Story of Adventure.= By HAROLD

      =5. The Swedish Singer; or, The Story of Vanda Rosendahl.= By
      Mrs. W. G. HALL.

      =6. My Beautiful Home; or, Lily's Search.= By Chas. Bruce.

      =7. The Story of a Moss Rose; or, Ruth and the Orphan Family.= By

      =8. Summer Holidays at Silversea.= By E. Rosalie Salmon.

      =9. Fred Graham's Resolve.= By the Author of 'Mat and Sofie.'

      =10. Wilton School; or, Harry Campbell's Revenge. A Tale.= By F.

      =11. Grace Harvey and her Cousins.=

      =12. Blind Mercy; and other Tales.= By Gertrude Crockford.

      =13. Evan Lindsay. By Margaret Fraser Tytler=, Author of 'Tales
      of Good and Great Kings,' 'Tales of the Great and Brave,' etc.

Nimmo's One Shilling Favourite Reward Books.

Demy 18mo, Illustrated, cloth extra, price 1s. each; also in gilt
side and edges, price 1s. 6d. each.

      =1. The Vicar of Wakefield.= Poems and Essays. By OLIVER

      =2. Æsop's Fables,= With Instructive Applications. By Dr. CROXALL.

      =3. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.=

      =4. The Young Man-of-War's-Man: A Boy's Voyage round the World.

      =5. The Treasury of Anecdote: Moral and Religious.=

      =6. The Boy's Own Workshop;= or, The Young Carpenters. By JACOB

      =7. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.=

      =8. The History of Sandford and Merton. A Moral and Instructive
      Lesson for Young Persons.=

      =9. Evenings at Home; or, The Juvenile Budget Opened.= Consisting
      of a variety of Miscellaneous Pieces for the Instruction and
      Amusement of Young Persons. By Dr. AIKIN and Mrs. BARBAULD.

      =10. Unexpected Pleasures; or, Left alone in the Holidays.= By
      Mrs. GEORGE CUPPLES, Author of 'Norrie Seton,' etc.

      =11. The Beauties of Shakespeare. With a General Index by the
      Rev. WILLIAM DODD, LL.D.=

      =12. Gems from 'The Spectator.'= A Selection from the most
      admired Writings of Addison and Steele.

      =13. Burns' Poetical Works. With a Complete Glossary.=

      =14. The Sketch Book.= By Washington IRVING.

*** The above Series of elegant and useful books is specially
prepared for the entertainment and instruction of young persons.

Nimmo's Popular Religious Gift Books.

18mo, finely printed on toned paper, handsomely bound in cloth extra,
price 1s. each.

      =1. Across the River: Twelve Views of Heaven. By Norman MACLEOD,=
      HAMILTON, D.D.; etc. etc.

      =2. Emblems of Jesus; or, Illustrations of Emmanuel's Character=
      and Work.

      =3. Life Thoughts of Eminent Christians.=

      =4. Comfort for the Desponding; or, Words to Soothe and Cheer=
      Troubled Hearts.

      =5. The Chastening of Love: Words of Consolation for the=
      Christian Mourner. By JOSEPH PARKER, D.D., Manchester.

      =6. The Cedar Christian, and other Practical Papers. By the Rev.=

      =7. Consolation for Christian Mothers Bereaved of Little=
      Children. By A FRIEND OF MOURNERS.

      =8. The Orphan; or, Words of Comfort for the Fatherless and=

      =9. Gladdening Streams; or, The Waters of the Sanctuary. A Book=
      for Fragments of Time on each Lord's Day of the Year.

      =10. Spirit of the Old Divines.=

      =11. Choice Gleanings from Sacred Writers.=

      =12. Direction in Prayer; or, The Lord's Prayer Illustrated in a=
      Series of Expositions. By PETER GRANT, D.D.

      =13. Scripture Imagery. By Peter Grant, D.D., Author of 'Emblems=
      of Jesus,' etc,.


Foolscap 8vo, Coloured Frontispieces, handsomely bound in cloth,
Illuminated, price 1s. each.

      =1. Four Little People and their Friends.=

      =2. Elizabeth;= or, The Exiles of Siberia. A Tale from the French
      of Madame COTTIN.

      =3. Paul and Virginia.= From the French of BERNARDIN SAINT-PIERRE.

      =4. Little Threads: Tangle Thread, Golden=
            Thread, and Silver Thread.

      =5. Benjamin Franklin, the Printer Boy.=

      =6. Barton Todd, and The Young Lawyer.=

      =7. The Perils of Greatness: The Story of Alexander Menzikoff.=

      =8. Little Crowns, and How to Win them. By= Rev. JOSEPH A.

      =9. Great Riches: Nelly Rivers' Story. By Aunt FANNY.=

      =10. The Right Way, and The Contrast.=

      =11. The Daisy's First Winter.= And other Stories. By HARRIET

      =12. The Man of the Mountain.= And other Stories.

      =13. Better than Rubies. Stories for the Young,= Illustrative of
         Familiar Proverbs. With 62 Illustrations.

      =14. Experience Teaches. And other Stories for the Young,=
         Illustrative of Familiar Proverbs. With 39 Illustrations.

      =15. The Happy Recovery. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With 26 Illustrations.

      =16. Gratitude and Probity. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With 21 Illustrations.

      =17. The Two Brothers. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With 13 Illustrations.

      =18. The Young Orator. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With 9 Illustrations.

      =19. Simple Stories to Amuse and Instruct Young Readers.=
         With Illustrations.

      =20. The Three Friends. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With Illustrations.

      =21. Sybil's Sacrifice. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With 12 Illustrations.

      =22. The Old Shepherd. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With Illustrations.

      =23. The Young Officer. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With Illustrations.

      =24. The False Heir. And other Stories for the Young.=
         With Illustrations.

      =25. The Old Farmhouse; or, Alice Morton's Home.=
         And other Stories. By M. M. POLLARD.

      =26. Twyford Hall; or, Rosa's Christmas Dinner,=
         and what she did with it. By CHARLES BRUCE.

      =27. The Discontented Weathercock. And other Stories=
         for Children. By M. JONES.

      =28. Out at Sea, and other Stories. By Two Authors.=

      =29. The Story of Waterloo; or, The Fall of NAPOLEON.=

      =30. Sister Jane's Little Stories. Edited by Louisa=



_In demy 18mo, with Illustrations, elegantly bound in cloth._

This Series of Books will be found unequalled for genuine interest
and value, and it is believed they will be eagerly welcomed by
thoughtful children of both sexes. Parents may rest assured that each
Volume teaches some noble lesson, or enforces some valuable truth.

      1. In the Brave Days of Old; or, The Story of the Spanish Armada.
      For Boys and Girls.

      2. The Lost Ruby. By the Author of 'The Basket of Flowers,' etc.

      3. Leslie Ross; or, Fond of a Lark. By Charles Bruce.

      4. My First and Last Voyage. By Benjamin Clarke.

      5. Little Katie: A Fairy Story. By Charles Bruce.

      6. Being Afraid. And other Stories for the Young. By CHARLES

      7. The Toll-Keepers. And other Stories for the Young. By BENJAMIN

      8. Dick Barford: A Boy who would go down Hill. By CHARLES BRUCE.

      9. Joan of Arc; or, The Story of a Noble Life. Written for Girls.

      10. Helen Siddal: A Story for Children. By Ellen Palmer.

      11. Mat and Sofie: A Story for Boys and Girls.

      12. Peace and War. By the Author of 'The Basket of Flowers,' etc.

      13. Perilous Adventures of a French Soldier in Algeria.

      14. The Magic Glass; or, The Secret of Happiness.

      15. Hawks' Dene: A Tale for Children. By Katharine E. MAY.

      16. Little Maggie. And other Stories. By the Author of 'The Joy
      of Well-Doing,' etc. etc.

      17. The Brother's Legacy; or, Better than Gold. By M. M. POLLARD.

      18. The Little Sisters; or, Jealousy. And other Stories for the
      Young. By the Author of 'Little Tales for Tiny Tots,' etc.

      19. Kate's New Home. By Cecil Scott, Author of 'Chryssie Lyle,'



      In crown 4to, price 12s. 6d., elegantly bound in cloth, extra
      gilt and gilt edges, also in Turkey morocco antique, very
      handsome, 42s., the popular Drawing-room Edition of the

      =Poems and Songs by Robert Burns. With Illustrations= by R.
      J. M'WHIRTER, and other eminent Scottish Artists.

_Fourth Edition. Eleventh Thousand._

In demy 8vo, cloth elegant, richly gilt, price 7s. 6d., or in Turkey
morocco antique, 21s.,

      =Things a Lady would Like to Know, concerning= Domestic
      Management and Expenditure, arranged for Daily Reference. By
      HENRY SOUTHGATE, Author of 'Many Thoughts of Many Minds,' 'Noble
      Thoughts in Noble Language,' 'Gone Before,' 'The Bridal Bouquet,'
      etc. etc.

_Tenth Thousand._

In crown 8vo, beautifully bound in cloth extra, full of Engravings
and Coloured Pictures, price 3s. 6d., or gilt edges price 4s.,

      =Three Hundred Bible Stories and Three Hundred= Bible Pictures. A
      Pictorial Sunday Book for the Young.

_The Excelsior Edition of Shakespeare's Complete Works._

In large demy 8vo, with Steel Portrait and Vignette, handsomely
bound, price 5s.,

      =Shakespeare's Complete Works. With a Biographical= Sketch
      by MARY COWDEN CLARKE, a Copious Glossary, and numerous

_The Excelsior Edition of Whiston's Josephus._

In large demy 8vo, with Steel Portrait and Vignette, handsomely
bound, price 5s.,

      =The Whole Works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish= Historian. With
      Life, Portrait, Notes, Index, etc.



      _Crown 8vo, with Frontispiece and Vignette, in elegant wrapper
      printed in colours, price 1s. each. Also, in Twenty-six volumes,
      cloth extra, full gilt back, price 2s. per volume; and in
      Thirteen double volumes, roxburgh style, gilt top, price 3s. 6d.
      per volume._

Edited by the Rev. P. HATELY WADDELL, LL.D. With Notes, Biographical
and Critical, and a Glossary of Scotch Words and Foreign Phrases for
each Novel.

    1. =Waverley; or, ''Tis Sixty Years Since.'=
    2. =Guy Mannering; or, The Astrologer.=
    3. =The Antiquary.=
    4. =Rob Roy.=
    5. =Old Mortality.=
    6. =The Black Dwarf, and A Legend of Montrose.=
    7. =The Bride of Lammermoor.=
    8. =The Heart of Mid-Lothian.=
    9. =Ivanhoe: A Romance.=
    10. =The Monastery.=
    11. =The Abbot: A Sequel.=
    12. =Kenilworth.=
    13. =The Pirate.=
    14. =The Fortunes of Nigel.=
    15. =Peveril of the Peak.=
    16. =Quentin Durward.=
    17. =St. Ronan's Well.=
    18. =Redgauntlet.=
    19. =The Betrothed.=
    20. =The Talisman: A Tale of the Crusaders.=
    21. =Woodstock; or, The Cavalier.=
    22. =The Fair Maid of Perth; or, St. Valentine's Day.=
    23. =Anne of Geierstein; or, The Maiden of the Mist.=
    24. =Count Robert of Paris.=
    25. =The Surgeon's Daughter, and Castle Dangerous.=
    26. =The Highland Widow, and my Aunt Margaret's Mirror.=

        With an interesting summarised account of the Scott

The above may also be had in substantial half-calf bindings.


      Just ready, in crown 8vo, with Steel Frontispiece and Vignette,
      handsomely bound, cloth extra, price 5s. each; also in full gilt
      side, back, and edges, price 6s. each.

_Seventh Thousand._

      =The English Circumnavigators: The most remarkable= Voyages
      round the World by English Sailors. (Drake, Dampier, Anson, and
      Cook's Voyages.) With a Preliminary Sketch of their Lives and
      Discoveries. Edited, with Notes, Maps, etc., by DAVID LAING

      =The Book of Adventure and Peril. A Record of= Heroism and
      Endurance on Sea and Land. Compiled and Edited by CHARLES
      BRUCE, Editor of 'Sea Songs and Ballads,' 'The Birthday Book of
      Proverbs,' etc.

      =The Great Triumphs of Great Men. Edited by= JAMES MASON.

      =Great Historical Mutinies, comprising the Story= of the Mutiny
      of the 'Bounty,' the Mutiny at Spithead and the Nore, the
      Mutinies of the Highland Regiments, and the Indian Mutiny, etc.
      Edited by DAVID HERBERT, M.A.

      =Famous Historical Scenes from Three Centuries.= Pictures of
      celebrated events from the Reformation to the end of the French
      Revolution. Selected from the works of Standard Authors by A. R.

      =The English Explorers; comprising details of the= more famous
      Travels by Mandeville, Bruce, Park, and Livingstone. With Map of
      Africa and Chapter on Arctic Exploration.

      =The Book for Every Day; containing an Inexhaustible= Store of
      Amusing and Instructive Articles. Edited by JAMES MASON.

      =The Book of Noble Englishwomen: Lives made= Illustrious by
      Heroism, Goodness, and Great Attainments. Edited by CHARLES BRUCE.

      =A Hundred Wonders of the World in Nature and= Art, described
      according to the latest Authorities, and profusely Illustrated.
      Edited by JOHN SMALL, M.A.

_Other Popular and Standard Volumes in preparation._

       *       *       *       *       *

    |                Transcriber notes:                        |
    |                                                          |
    | The equals sign is used to surround =bold text=;         |
    | underscores to surround _italic text_.                   |
    |                                                          |
    | Corrected various punctuation.                           |
    | P.24. 'Ptolemoeus' changed to 'Ptolemæus'.               |
    | P.187. T (large down tack) mathematical symbol.          |
    | P.187. Heiroglyphics "The Ankh" symbol.                  |
    | P.252. 'Fig. 57.' changed to 'fig. 56.'.                 |
    | P.254. 'Fig. 35.' changed to 'fig. 58.'.                 |
    | P.389. 'ramificacations' changed to 'ramifications'.     |
    | P.390. 'disorderd' changed to 'disordered'.              |
    | P.427. 'Withers' changed to 'Wither'.                    |
    | Index:  Voltaire, '713' is p.113, changed.               |
    |  There are difference customs between titles             |
    |  Mr (British) and Mr. (American) and the corresponding   |
    |  Mrs (British) and Mrs. (American) found in this books,  |
    |  so the only title with a period is found in the adds    |
    |  for consistency, as in the book.                        |
    |                                                          |

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Everyday Objects - Or Picturesque Aspects of Natural History." ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.