Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tomb of their deceased brother, and spoke feelingly of the scanty honours they had bestowed on his memory. Suddenly a voice was heard apparently proceeding from the roof of the church, lamenting the situation of the defunct in purgatory, and reproaching the brotherhood with their lukewarmness and want of zeal on his account. The friars, as soon as their astonishment gave them power to speak, consulted together, and agreed to acquaint the rest of the community with this singular event, so interesting to the whole society.

M. St. Gille, who wished to carry on the joke still further, dissuaded them from taking this step, telling them that they would be treated by their absent brethren as a set of fools and visionaries. He recommended them, however, immediately to call the whole community into the church, where the ghost of their departed brother might probably reiterate his compliments. Accordingly, all the friars, novices, and laybrothers, and even the domestics of the convent, were forth with summoned and collected together. In a short time, the voice from the roof repeated its lamentations and reproaches, and all the members of the convent fell on their faces, and vowed a solemn reparation. As a first step, they chaunted a de profundis, with a full choir; during the intervals of which, the ghost occasionally expressed the comfort he received from their pious exercises and ejaculations. When all was over, the prior entered into a serious conversation with M. St. Gille, and, on the strength of what had just passed, sagaciously inveighed against the absurd incredulity of modern sceptics, on the article of ghosts or apparations. M. St. Gille thought it now high time to disabuse the good fathers. This purpose he found it extremely difficult to effect, till he had prevailed upon them to return into the church, and then witness the manner in which he had conducted this ludicrous deception.

In consequence of three memoirs presented by the Abbé de la Chapelle to the Royal Academy of Sciences, at Paris, in which he communicated to them the observations he had made on the subject of ventriloquism in general, and those he had made on M. St. Gille in particular, that learned body deputed two of its members, De Fouchy and Le Roi, to accompany him to St. Germain-en-Laye, in order to verify the facts, and to make their remarks on the nature and causes of this extraordinary faculty. In the course of this inquiry, a singular plan was laid and executed, to put M. St. Gille's powers of deception to the trial, by engaging him to exert them in the presence of a large party, consisting of the commissaries of the academy, and some persons of the highest quality, who were to dine in the open forest near to St. Germain-en-Laye, on a particular day. All the members of this party were in the secret, except a certain lady, here designed by the title of the Countess of B-, who was pitched upon as a proper victim to M. St. Gille's deceptive powers, as she knew nothing either of M. St. Gille or ventriloquism; and possibly, we should think, for another reason, which the abbé, through politeness, suppresses. She had only been told, in general, that this party had been formed in consequence of a report that an aërial spirit had lately established itself in the forest of St. Germain, and that a grand deputation from the Academy of Sciences were to pass the day there to inquire into the reality of the fact.

M. St. Gille, it is not to be doubted, was one of the select party. Previously to his joining the company in the forest, he completely deceived even one of the commissaries of the academy, whom he accidentally met.

Just as he was abreast of him, prepared and guarded as the academician was against an imposition of this kind, he verily believed that he had heard his associate, M. De Fouchy, who was then with the company at above a hundred yards distance, calling after him to return as expeditiously as possible. His valet too, after repeating to his master the purport of M. De Fouchy's supposed exclamation, turned about towards the company, and, with the greatest simplicity imaginable, bawled out, as loud as he could, in answer to him, “ Yes, Sir."

After this promising beginning, the party sat down to dinner ; and the aërial spirit, who had been previously furnished with proper anecdotes respecting the company, soon began to address the Countess of B—, particularly, in a voice that seemed to be in the air over their heads. Sometimes he spoke to her from the tops of the trees around them, or from the surface of the ground at some distance; at other times the voice seemed to issue from a considerable depth under her feet. During the dinner, the spirit appeared to be absolutely inexhaustible in the gallantries which he addressed to her ; though he sometimes said civil things to the Duchess of C This kind of conversation lasted above two urs ; and, in fine, the countess was firmly persuaded, as the rest of the company pretended to be, that this was the voice of an aërial spirit ; nor would she, as the Abbé de la Chapelle observes, have been undeceived, had not the rest of the company at length excited in her some suspicions. The little plot against her was then owned, and she acknowledged herself to be mortified only in being waked from so delicious an illusion.

We might easily multiply anecdotes of this description, as ventriloquism has recently had many professors. What once was deemed a proof of the black art, is now frequently displayed on the theatre. But this wonderful faculty teaches a moral lesson. It shows the value of knowledge. A power of this character possessed by a crafty man, and exercised by him over the uneducated, would have conferred on the operator an authority for good or evil, surpassing, all calculation. Ventriloquism, if perverted from an instrument of mere amusement into an engine of imposture, is only one out of the various methods which cunning adopts to impose on credulity. Ambition and avarice may employ many means, but the end is always the same; and whether we think of a blue ribband, or Morison's pills, -a star and garter, or a bottle of Solomon's Balm of Gilead, -we always arrive at the same conclusion. For falsehood, under all its Protean forms, needs but to be seen, to be abhorred and shunned ; and the mirror in which her hateful lineaments may be traced in all their revolting deformity, is the bright reflecting glass of knowledge.

THOUGHTS ON GARDENING.–No. 1.

The attention paid to horticulture and floriculture in the Channel Islands has justly gained for them the well-merited appellation of the “Garden of Flowers." Of late years, these delightful pursuits have received an additional stimulus from the annual exhibitions, and a spirit of emulation has thus been excited which cannot fail of producing the happiest results. As practice may be greatly aided by theory, we have collected a variety of remarks on the philosophy of planting and gardening, from the old works of Bradley, Evelyn, Nourse, and Lawrence, which are scarce and expen

sive. From them we have made a compilation, which we intend to publish in a series of numbers, in the hope that they may instruct the young horticulturist, and at the same time amuse those who are proficients in the art.

Vegetation, in all its departments, is entirely dependent on the order of nature. Whether we speak of trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants, their principles are equally the same; that is to say, they all alike draw their nourishment from their roots, which nourishment is conveyed through proper vessels into the stem, the branches, the leaves, the flowers, and the fruits. In order to show, with more distinctness, by what means every plant receives and distributes nourishment to all its several parts, we may draw a parallel between plants and animals. It is certain that life, be it animal or vegetable, must be maintained by a due circulation and distri. bution of juices in the bodies they are to support. By the aid of microscopes, the several vessels which are contained in a plant, may be traced, and the course of the juices, through these ducts and channels, may be thus easily discovered. The sap circulates in the vessels of plants, much after the same manner as the blood does in the bodies of animals. We shall commence this inquiry, by a short description of the vessels in plants, and their situation.

First.—The root of a plant is of a spongy nature, ready to imbibe such humid particles, as are fitted to be received into its pores; and we may observe, that the various qualities of different plants depend chiefly on the size of the pores in their roots, by which they receive their several nourishments.

Secondly.—We must understand that the wood of every plant is composed of capillary tubes, running parallel to each other, from the root (upright) through the trunk. These cavities are generally so small, that they are hardly to be discerned by the naked eye, unless in a piece of charcoal, cane, or oaken board. These vessels renew and augment themselves every year, as we may observe by cutting a tree horizontally, which will discover to us the lateral shootings, and the annual additions of the pipes; and this is the reason why the trunks of trees increase in their circumference. These tubes, for the sake of distinction, we shall call arterial vessels, and through them the sap rises from the root in fine vapour, for their cavities are so small that it would be impossible they could admit any thing, whose parts were so dense as those of a liquor.

Thirdly.—The passages, or pipes, by which the sap returns downward, are much more open than the former, and are capable of receiving a liquor into them. These are placed immediately on the outside of the arterial vessels, between the wood and inner bark, and lead down directly to the covering of the root. They perform the office of veins, and contain the liquid sap which is found in plants in the spring and summer months.

Fourthly.—The bark of a tree is of a spongy nature, and by many little strings which pass between the arterial pipes, it corresponds with the pith, These pipes are so interwoven with one another, that they form a spongelike body, which absorbs the air, and thereby nourishes the plant, and keeps the whole body in health ; and that this is the use of this spongy body, is certain, because when we keep a plant in a close place, or exclude the air from it, it soon languishes, and makes small shoots, which are certain signs of sickness.

Fifthly.-The pith is composed of little transparent globes, chained or linked together as are the bubbles which compose the froth of any liquor. Vol. III.-No. 1.

2

In fact, a plant may be compared to an alembic, which distils the juices of the earth. The root having sucked in the salts of the earth, and thereby filled itself with proper juices for the nourishment of the tree, these juices are set in motion by heat, that is to say, they are made to evaporate into steam, as the contents of a still will do when they begin to warm. Now, as soon as this steam or vapour rises from the root, its own natural quality carries it upward to meet the air ; it then enters the mouths of the several arterial vessels of the tree, and passes up them to the top, with a force answerable to the heat that puts it in motion ; by this means it opens (gradually, as it can force its way) the minute vessels which are rolled up in the buds, and expands them by degrees into leaves. Thus, when we give a forcing heat to the root of a plant, it grows quicker than when it has only a moderate heat. But as every vapour of this kind when it feels the cold, will condense and thicken into a water, so when this vapour rises through the arterial vessels, and arrives at the extreme parts of them, to wit, the buds of a tree, it there meets with cold enough to condense it into a liquor, as the vapour in a still is known to do. In this form it returns to the root down to the vessels which do the office of veins, lying between the wood and inner bark ; leaving, as it passes by, such parts of its juice as the texture of the bark will receive, and which may be requisite for its support.

The following experiment, made by the ingenious Mr. Lawrence, more than a century agone, which he has mentioned in his "Clergyman's Recreation,” relating to the jessamine, may convince us of the certainty of the sap's circulation in plants. We shall give it in his own words.

“Suppose a plain jessamine tree spreading itself into two or three branches from one common stem near the root. Into any one of these branches, in August, inoculate a bud taken from a yellow striped jessamine, where it is to abide all winter ; and in the summer, when the tree begins to make its shoots, you will find here and there some leaves tinged with yellow, even on the other branches not inoculated, till, by degrees, in succeeding years, the whole tree, even the very wood of all the tender branches, will be most beautifully striped and dyed with yellow and green intermixed." He further adds, that “though the inoculated bud should not shoot out, or that it should live but two or three months, and after that happen to die, or be wounded by accident, yet even in that little time it will have communicated its virtue to the whole sap, and the tree will become entirely striped."

The famous Bradley, Professor of Botany in the University of Cambridge, tried this experiment with perfect success, and he says that it gave him the first idea of the motion of the sap, and induced him to make further inquiries. After this acknowledgment, the professor adds the following remark: “But for a more immediate satisfaction on this point, we may have recourse to any one of the tithymels, or milky plants, and upon cutting their leaves, we shall plainly discover the vessels through which the milk flows to maintain the life and growth of the plant.”

The motion of the sap continues in a plant as long as the sun's warmth can keep it in a fluid state, but is condensed or thickened by the cold of winter, and is thereby changed into the consistency of gum, and, being thus stagnated, it cannot flow any more, till the warmth of the following spring, or some artificial heat, rarifies it into its former liquid state. It then renews its former vigour, and pushes forth branches, leaves, &c. But we must not suppose that it is only the melted sap

that does that office of germination ; the root has not been idle, while the branches have stood still; it has not lost the moisture of the preceding autumn to impregnate and furnish itself with proper salts or nurture, from whence the tree is to be maintained. Here is a supply laid in, to furnish food for the summer, as some industrious animals will do to nourish themselves in the winter.

In the next place, it may not be amiss to confute a common opinion, to wit, that the sap returns to the root in winter; for, if it did so, how comes it that trees, which are cut down in November and December, will put forth branches and leaves in the following spring, although they have peither roots nor earth to feed them? This plainly shows, that the sap

is condensed or thickened in the tree, during its circulating course, by extreme cold, and remains in that gummy state till the warmth of the spring, as we have already remarked, liquifies it, and by the vapour which must then arise from it, the buds, are pushed forth, so long as there is matter sufficient to feed them.

From what has been said, it appears that plants have a circulation of sap, and proper means whereby to supply themselves with nutriment; and it is also certain that all plants, in their several kinds, require different sorts of food, one from another, on the same principle that various sorts of animals subsist on different diets. Between them we may institate the following comparisons, which will make this view of the subject more palpable.

Land animals may be compared in general to those plants which are called terrene, because they can only live upon earth, such as oaks, beech, elms, &c.

Amphibious animals, such as the otter, beaver, tortoise, frogs, &c., which live as well on the land as in the waters, may be compared to the willow, alder, minths, and such others.

Aquatic animals, whether inhabitants of rivers or of the sea, are analogous to the water plants, such as water lilies, water plaintains, &c. which only live in rivers or fresh water; or to the fuci, sea weeds, corals, coraline, &c., which are marine plants; for not one of these will live out of its proper element.

Nor does the comparison cease here. As the several land animals have their respective diets, so likewise have the terrene plants their several soils from whence they draw their nourishment.

As some animals feed on flesh, others on fish, roots, leaves, grain or fruits ; so we find that some plants love clay, others loam, sand, gravel, &c. Nor is this all that we ought to observe. We should carefully consider in what situation we rear plants, for much depends on locality and aspect, whether in a valley, on the sides or tops of hills ; whether exposed to the south or north winds, or inland or near to the sea ; for it is a proper air that keeps a plant in health, and fits it to receive its nourishment. A certain degree of warmth, natural to each plant, is also worthy the attention of the young horticulturist; for it is a warmth, natural to each plant, that puts its juices in their proper motion,

In our next number we propose to explain the philosophy of the generation of plants.

« ZurückWeiter »