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The Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) online

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he entreated us by his looks to remain, and
watch the result. At the end of that time we
could see, by the fixedness of the man's eye,
that he saw his victim approaching; in another
instant the head of a large cobra capella peered
from the hole. We naturally shrunk back.
The charmer, however, seemed rather delight-
ed thaa dismayed as the monster emerged



from its earthy home. Presently its whole
length appeared. A more magnificent snake
I had never seen, and I must admit that it
seemed fascinated by the juggler, who now
slowly retreated a few paces, to show his
power. As he moved the serpent moved ;
when he stopped, the serpent did the same.
The eye of the snake seemed magnetically
rivited on that of the charmer, depending on,
and watching his every movement. The man
assured me afterwards that, had he ceased to
play for a single instant the cobra capella
would have sprang on him, and destroyed him.
I certainly never saw anything more curious,
but I must confess that the very close proxi-
mity of this death-dealing monster was by no
means pleasing to my feelings.

When the man (followed at about five yards
distance by the snake,) arrived at a smooth
spot in the middle of the garden, he suddenly
squatted down, and began to play louder, and
more energetically than before. The animal
paused for a moment, then raising itself, stood
upright, reared on its tail, in the same posi-
tion as that which it often assumes previous to
making the fatal spring. Imagining this to
be the case, a trembling shudder went round
that portion of the party who had never before
witnessed a similar exhibition. The old hands,
the regular Qui His (a nickname given to
Bengalees,) stood perfectly unmoved. They
were aware of what was about to follow. The
snake, thus painfully poised, began a sort of
bounding up and down, keeping it eyes steadily
fixed on the musician, almost in time to the
tune he was playing. Europeans, who had
never visited British India, may doubt the
fact ; but those who have been in the east,
will bear me out in the truth of the following
assertion. The cobra capella actually danced
for several minutes on its tail, apparently
charmed with the uncouth music the juggler
was playing. In the meantime the native boy
stole round, and on a certain signal given by
his master, suddenly dropped the kedgeree
pot on the snake. A strong, waxed cloth was
passed under it, drawn up, and tied. The
fatigued musician got up, salamed to the com-
pany, and carried his captive into the house,
where he had several others similarly impri-
soned. In about half an hour the same thing
was repealed with precisely similar effect.
Out of the four snakes said to lurk in the gar-
den one only escaped his fascination ; and this
one failure he ascribed to the presence of an
evil eye amongst our followers. Even in these
remote parts the same superstition respecting
the " Evil Eye" exists, that tinges the minds
of half the students in the German Universi-
ties.

The next exhibition of his powers was given
in the hall, when certainly he performed tricks



and wonders, which I shall not, however, set
down. Had I not seen them I should not have
believed them ; I cannot, therefore, expect
that my readers should do so, and will not
risk my reputation for veracity by relating
them.

Being desirous of seeing a combat between
a snake and its inveterate enemy, the mun-
gooze, (an animal similar to the ichneumon of
Egypt,) I requested the charmer to exhibit a
fight of the kind. He instantly consented (as
every one of these men carry not only snakes,
but mungoozes with them,) and led us out into
the compound — the field attached to almost
every house in cantonments. Having expres-
sed our fears lest any of the party might be
injured by the reptile, he proposed that the
exhibition should take place under an enormous
pheasant-coop of worked wire, which was lying
unused in the court-yard. This arrangement
was acceded to, and, at our suggestion, the
snake first taken in the morning was selected
for the encounter. The mouth of the vessel
in which he was enclosed was placed under
the edge of the coop, and the covering sud-
denly withdrawn. In a moment after the
cobra capella darted out. The kedgeree-^ot
was then taken away, and the edges of the
pheasantry let down. During two or three
minutes the monster poked his nose all round
the enclosure, evidently wishing to escape ; but,
finding this impossible, he quietly coiled him-
self up, freeing, however, his magnificent head
from the folds, and remained in a sort of listen-
ing attitude.

Presently the man produced the mungooze,
and let him in to his adversary. Never was
I more surprised. This was the first time I
had seen one. I had expected to behold a
somewhat powerful opponent. Never could I
have fancied that so small an animal would
have dared to cope with serpents of the largest
and deadliest kind ; such, however, was the
case. For a time the mungooze ran about
without going direct up to the snake, which,
however, having perceived its tormentor on
its first entrance, had prepared to give him
battle. Suddenly the tiny creature, which
seemed to be little more than a single mouth-
ful to its adversary, saw the snake, and with-
out hesitation ran at it. So apparently unequal
a contest I never beheld. The cobra capella
had reared itself, and spread out its hood, a
sort of fleshy cape it inflates when irritated,
and which has given rise to its designation.
The marks round its eyes resembled a pair of
spectacles. Its marble-stained scales seemed
all alive, as it raised itself some three feet high
to meet the attack of the little savage, whose
fiery eyes seemed suddenly to glow like red-
hot cinders as it rushed towards its mighty
enemy, and bit it. The snake darted at it,



10



THE FRIEND.



squeezed it, inflicted its dreadful wound, and
then drew itself back. Tlie mun'^ooze was
evidently disabled. Faint, and almost dying,
it retreated. Many of us fancied tlie battle
over, and regretted tlie untimely end of the
courageous little beast. After limping about
for some minutes, and even lying down with
exhaustion, the niungooze began to poke its
nose on the grass. What it swallowed none
have ever been able to trace, though large
rewards have been oHered for the discovery.
What the herb is which this little animal par-
takes of none can tell, but certainly its elTects
are miraculous ; for, no sooner did the crea-
ture imbibe the sought-for antidote, than it
suddenly recovered ils pristine strength, and
again attacked the serpent. Tliis scene was
re-enacted no less than seven times ; each
time the cobra appearing weaker and weaker,
till actually tired out. The mungooze at
length succeeded in catching the monster by
the throat, and destroying it, to the surprise
and admiration of all present.

For " The Friend."
EFFECTS OF
CHARCOAL ON VJEGETATION.

Some of the gardeners and scientific men
of Germany, have within a few years interest-
ed themselves in a series of experiments upon
this subject, conducted at the royal botanic
gardens of Munich, by Edward Lucas of Er-
furt, assistant gardener. The results are
highly curious, and may probably be turned
to good account by cultivators in this country.
Professor Zuccarini of Munich, mentions that
by the use of charcoal, shoots of plants, leaves,
parts of leaves, calyces, &c. may be made to
grow, even of plants that seldom or never
make roots in the usual way of treatment.

He states that Lucas, in the spring of 18.39,
discovered that several plants in a hot-house
that were plunged in refuse of charcoal,
showed an extraordinary vigour of growth, as
soon as they had pushed their roots through
the holes in the bottom of the pots, into this
under stratum. This observation led to a set
of experiments, which quite astonished him-
self, and the scientific friends who encouraged
him to prosecute them.

He at first used the refuse of charcoal, too
fine to be burnt, from which he sifted the
coarser pieces by a coarse earth seive. He
found that to answer best which had been
exposed for some months to the influence of the
air and weather. In such charcoal, unmixed
with any other material, he succeeded the first
season in getting cuttings of many plants to
grow ; he names sixty-six kinds ; among them
Euphorbias, Begonias, Cacti, and other succu-
lent plants, black pepper and the bread fruit.
The unsuccessful experiments were few com-
pared with the successful. From parts of
leaves he succeeded in getting a considerable
variety of plants to vegetate ; he enimierates
twenty-nine, including a species of Euphorbia,
two of Begonia, and the sweet potato. All the
species of Gloxinia grew, even from a flower-
stem or a calyx. A species of pine (I'inus ex-
celsa,) grew from the leaves.

He then mixed various kinds of earth with



the charcoal, and still had the most extraordi- !
nary results. He says tliat all the plants he ]
subjected to this treatment, were as much dis-
tinguished by their luxuriance, as by the i
more perfect development of their individual i
parts. This was particularly the case with |
tuberous rooted plants, which besides their
perfect development, had also a much longer i
period of vegetation ; so that the difterence in '
this respect, between those that were cultivat- 1
ed in their usual soil, and those which had a
mixture of charcoal, amounted to nearly two I
months. Orange tiees with yellow leaves, '
having had a layer of charcoal laid on after
the upper surface of earth had been removed,!
soon recovered their green colour ; this was i
also the case with someotlier plants. He was
not very particular as to tlie proportion of
earth he mixed with charcoal, but generally
found half of each to do very weli, always
taking care that the coal had been exposed
for some time to the weather, and that timely
watering was never neglected, as the porosity
of the earth causes it to dry quickly. An old
and sickly plant of the Doryanthes excelsa,
which had been declining for two years, and
had no roots left but one old and decayed one,
was planted in one third charcoal. In three
weeks it began to grow, and finally recovered
perfectly.

Lucas, in an essay written within a year,
mentions that many gardeners not having
succeeded in their experiments, charcoal had
fallen into disrepute among them ; but he be-
lieves that in every case the failure was owing
to the manner of applying it, or to the quality
of the coal itself. He has found that in many
cases, purticularly when used in pots, as soon
as the capillary vessels of the charcoal are fiill,
a farther supply of water is useless and injuri-
ous; when mixed with soil, however, it requires
more frequent watering. But the chief cause
of failure was the fineness of the charcoal, by
which its most valuable qualities, — capillarity,
capability of condensing gases, and porosity,
were lost.

Many new plants, of which he names se-
venty-two, some very difficult sorts to root,
had grown in charcoal, since his last published
essay. He mentions four kinds of magnolia, a
myrtle, Canada pine, Indian azalea, an erica,
the tendrils of a grape, the oleander, and two
kinds of medicinal guaiacum. Among the
plants he names, are species of the most op-
posite families, and most of them rooted much
easier than in sand or earth ; with some, no
trial of the usual methods of propagating had
before been successful at the botanic garden
of Munich. He had not made much use of
charcoal in sowing seeds, but when applied, it
had proved very efficacious. He had made
experiments upon the fitness of charcoal for
packing plants for transportation ; and for
this purpose some young chamcedoreas, ferns,
calceolarias, salvias, verbenas and young cab-
bage and cucumber plants, some with moss
round the roots, others without any covering,
were put in dry or very slightly moistened
charcoal, firmly pressed down, and the closed
box placed for four weeks in an airy shed, on
which the sun shone for several hours ; at the
expiration of this period, the palms and ferns



were found in a very fresh state ; the calcecda-
nas and saWias had some yellow leaves, but
had made young shoots ; a species of peiunia,
even flowered on tne box being opened j the
verbenas only liad sutfered, but were still ali\e;
the young cabbage and cucumber plants taken
out of dung beds liad rotted, but witliout injur-
ing any of the plants lying beside them; cut
flowers of many dilFerent sorts kept perleclly
fresii in pure dry charcoal, for from eight to
fourteen days. Rad/shes, parsnips, onions,
and the turnip-like roots of oxalis lasiandra,
Zvcc. attained a considerable size in a bed
filled one foot deep with pure charcoal; the
roots of tulips which had produced flowers in
the spring, being planted in the same bed,
flowered again perfectly well late in the
autumn.

'I'o prove if any difference existed with
respect to the etlicacy of different sorts of
charcoal, the garden inspector, M. Seitz, had
charcoal made from eight kinds of wood, viz.,
oak, linden, ash, beech, alder, willow, elm and
fir. They were found to have almost exactly
similar effects. It was very different with
animal charcoal, which in this experiment
produced the most favourable results; many
leaves rooted in them which had not succeeded
in the wood charcoal, and some very soon pro-
duced shoots.

Zuccarini says that those leaves were found
to vegetate most freely which had strong pro-
minent veins. The cut ends of these being
placed in the charcoal, a small tuber or callos-
ity formed upon the extremity of each. These
attained the size of a large pea before putting
out roots, and from them proceeded the germ
or shoot which formed the new plant; each
vein thus producing a separate plant. He found
it of advantage as soon as the growth of the
tuber was sufficiently advanced, to remove the
cutting from the coal into a proper sort of
mould, and, by this means, the little knob
being able to provide its own nourishment, will
prevent the untimely exhaustion of the parent
leaf. If this precaution is delayed, an entire
stoppage takes place in the growth ; the knob
produces neither roots nor buds, and dies ; be-
cause the parent leaf cannot yield any more
nourishment ; and the charcoal appears to him
to have a preserving and stimulating, rather
than a nourishing quality.

W. Neubert of Tubingen discovers, how-
ever, that by the use of charcoal, plants thrive
permanently in much smaller pots than here-
tofiire. He had primulas, eight years old,
with stems a foot and a half high, growing
and blooming luxuriantly in pots of two inches
diameter. He transplants them every autumn,
and takes away half the ball of roots and all
the side shoots, and is careful to keep them
tolerably moist. He finds his plants (quite
the reverse of Lucas's experience,) produced
much fewer roots than usual, and conjectures
that this may be owing to his having used
beach coal instead of fir, as Lucas did.

Dr. Bnchner undertakes to explain npon
scientific principles, the wonderful effects of
charcoal. He ascribes them in part to the
power possessed by that substance of absorb-
ing light and heat to a very great degree, in
consequence of its dark colour and extreme



THE FRIEND.



porosity ; and also to its capacity for absorb-
ing atmosplieric air. Among all tlm bodies ca-
pable of absorbing gasts and vapors, charcoal
has been proved by numerous experiments, to
lioldthe first rank. Consequently, when long
exposed to atmospheric action, it imbibes ma-
ny qualities highly conducive to vigorous veg-
etaiiou, and is the means of conveying to tlit
roots of plants, besides light and heat, nitrogen
hydrogen and oxygen in great abundance.

He remarks that for a long time it was ge-
nerally supposed, that charcoal, as an inani-
mate body, incapable of decay, contributed in
no degree to the nourishment of plants, and
that charcoal dust could oidy serve, at most,
to make the earth looser and warmer.
Lucas found that the charcoal in which plants
grew, by degrees underwent decomposition.

Judging from the effects of charcoal on veg-
etation, its antiseptic properties are of great
importance. It has very little power of re-
taining water ; and this property deserves
great attention, in respect to recovering the
haalth of-plants which have been injured by
being in a clayey soil, or too freely watered,
or after continued rain, or being in contact
with manure not sutKciently decomposed.

Lucas has not confined his experiments to
coal. He has for six years been making use
of snow in the germination of certain kinds of
sseds, chiefly those of alpine plants. He first
put into pots a portion of earth, the most suit-
able to the kind of plant to bs cultivated ; then
a layer of snow, then the seed, and covered it
with another layer of snow. He then set them
in a box covered with glass, and placed it in a
temperature of 59° to 60° Fah., in which the
snow melted. Many of the seeds germinated
in two days. He even succeeded with the
purple crotalaria, which he had never done
before by any other method. After germina-
tion, he sprinkles a little sand over the seed.

Professor I. Liebig, of Giessen, who has
devoted so much learned research to agricul
tural chemistry, is of opinion, " that the loose
formation of the snow, which allows of an un
interrupted admission of oxygen ; the exclu
sion of those foreign agents which are always
found in a soil that contains corrupted vegeta
ble matter ; a!id finally the volatile alkali of
the snow, — all these causes combined, eflect
the remarkable appearance of germination in
this process."

Remarkable case of Instinct in a Bird. —
One of the most remarkable cases of instinc-
tive knowledge in birds, was related by my
grandfather who witnessed the fact with his
own eyes. He was attracted to the door, one
summer day, by a troubled twittering, indicat-
ing distress and terror. A bird who had built
her nest in the tree near the door, was flying
back and forth with the utmost speed, uttering
wailing cries as she went. Ho was at last at
a loss to account for her strange movements ;
but they were soon explained, by the sight of
a snake, slowly winding up the tree.

Animal magnetism was then unheard of;
and whosoever had dared to mention it, would
doubtless have been hung on Witch's Hill,
without benefit of clergy. Nevertheless, mar-
vellous and unaccountable stories have been



told of the snake's power to charm birds. My
grandfather having a mind to test the truth of
such stories, thought he would watch the pro-
gress of things, but being a humane man, he
resolved to kill the snake before it despoiled
the nest. The distressed mother meanwhile
continued her rapid movements and troubled
cries, and he soon discovered that she went
and came continually with something in her
bill, from one particular tree — a white ash.
The snake wound his way up ; but the instant
his head came near the nest, his folds relaxed,
he fell rigid, and apparently lifeless. My
grandfather made sure of his death by cutting
off his head, and then mounted the tree to
examine into the mystery. The snug little
nest was filled with eggs, and covered with the
leaves of the ichi.te ash !

The little bird knew, if my readers do not,
that contact with the white ash is deadly to a
snake. This is no idle superstition ; but a
veritable fact in natural history. The Indians
are aware of it, and twist garlands of white
ash leaves around their ancles, as a protection
against rattle snakes. Slaves often take the
same precaution, when they travel through
svvamps and forests guided by the north star;
or to the cabin of some poor white man, who
teaches them to read and write by the light of
pine splinters.

I have never heard any explanation of the
effect produced by the white ash ; but I know
that settlers in the wilderness, like to have
these trees around their log-houses, being con-
vinced that no snake will voluntarily come
near them. When touched with the boughs
they are said to grow suddenly rigid, with
strong convulsions ; after a while they slowly
recover, but seem sickly for some time. — L.
M. Child.



CARE OF STOCK.

At seasonable times, we have spoken of the
producing and gathering in of hay, roots, &c. ;
also of the importance of making the barn
comfortable. Without feed, and comfortable
lodging, stock will not thrive. But these
alone are not all that the farmer may pro-
fitably allow to his domestic animals.

Kindness, or gentleness in the general treat-
ment of all animals, is quite conducive to their
enjoyment and thrift ; we therefore recom-
mend the employment of kind tones and gen-
tle action towards the inmates of the barn.
No matter how large your outlay of kindness,
for the investment will yield a good interest.

The card and curry-comb, excitino- the ac-
tion of the skin, help to increase the circula-
tion, and to give health and vigour to the ani-
mal. The cow being generally confined to
the yard in winter, and accustomed to but
little exercise, requires carding and rubbinn-
more than the ox, whose exercise will open
the pores of the skin and help to keep up good
circulation throughout the system. And yet
it is the or, that goes into company with his
owner, whose hide is rubbed down with elbow
grease; while the cow, needing it more, is
seldom thus favoured. A good carding, each
morning, will be found economical food for
your beasts.



Let all your animals be so well littered that
their bed shall be dry and comfortable. Sides
bedaubed and wet with excrements, must be
both uncomfortable and unhealthy.

Feed out your hay in small quantities at a
time ; the cattle relish better that which has
just been before them, than that which they
have fouled by their breath. Mix a variety of
kinds together; fresh meadow hay, salt marsh
hay, oat or barley straw, English hay ; these,
or whatever other ingredients you may have,
it is often well to mix thoroughly, and feed
out to the stock. The proportions must be
determined by the quantity of each that is to
be consumed in the course of the winter; but
make your calculations so as to have the food
become better in quality towards spring, than
it is in midwinter.

All hay, before being fed out, should be well
shaken up. The more the straws cross each
other, and the lighter they lay one upon the
other, the better will they be masticated, and
the more nourishment will they afford.

Like their owners, cattle relish variety, and
it is well to vary the kinds of food frequently ;
a foddering of corn stalks or clover, daily, is
relished not only by animals that are made to
eat mean hay, but also by those which are
plentifully fed with hay of the finest quality.

Roots are fed out profusely by some farmers
to their stock. That they are valuable, no
one doubts ; but we have sometimes thought
that where more than a peck, or at most a
peck and a half per day, is given to a cow,
that the excess above this quantity is much
less serviceable than the first peck. A large
quantity is too loosening, and produces an irri-
tation which causes much of the food to pass
off' too rapidly, and before it has given out the
nourishment it would have furnished had it
been longer retained. Where such results
follow, though your stock may thrive, yet the
keeping is expensive. We deem it doubtful
whether the use of roots diminishes to any
considerable extent the quantity of hay which
an animal requires ; but where roots are used,
meaner hay will answer the purpose, and the
stock will come out in much better condition
in the spring.

Be regular id your hours of feeding. This
regularity contributes much to the quiet and
contentment of all animals.

Keep the barn Hoor clean ; a broom should
always be kept there, and frequently used.
Save every thing that the stock can be made
to eat. The time spent in the barn in pre-
paring the feed, and in keeping the animals
clean and comfortable, is far from being
thrown away.

Water should always be in the barn yard,
and it is desirable to have it under cover.

The testimony in regard to the economy
of choppiniT hay and straw, is strong and full.
— N. E. Farmer.



" Those whom God hath freed from the
bondage of Popery, should strive to free them-
selves from all the remnants thereof; but if
they cleave still to any of them, God in judg-
ment may bring the whole upon them again?"
— Archbishop tfsher.



12



THE FRIEND.



For ■• Tho Fr
THE PATH OF DUTY.

Gems arc glittering bright before me,

lndia'8 treasures are around,



Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 5 of 154)