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The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 529, January 14, 1832 online

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the country during Advent. Every traveller on seeing it prostrates himself
immediately, and crosses himself, and considers himself in duty bound to
bestow his charity on the proprietor. Others carry emblematical figures
through the different towns, or sit by the road side, and uncover the
effigy to every passer-by.

W.H.H.

* * * * *


CURIOUS MANORIAL RIGHT.

(_For the Mirror_.)


At Ripley Castle, in Yorkshire, the seat of Sir William Ingilby, there is
in the great staircase an elegant Venetian window, in the divisions of
which, on stain-glass, are a series of escutcheons, displaying the
principal quarterings and intermarriages of the Ingilby family since their
settling at Ripley, during a course of 430 years.

In one of the chambers of the tower is the following sentence, carved on
the frieze of the wainscot: - "In the yeire of owre Ld. MDLV. was this
howse buyldyd, by Sir Wyllyam Ingilby, Knight, Philip and Marie reigning
that time."

John Pallisser, of Bristhwaite, formerly held his lands of the manor of
Ripley, by the payment of a red rose at Midsummer, and by carrying the
boar's head to the lord's table all the twelve days of Christmas.

W.G.C.

* * * * *



NOTES OF A READER.


EUGENE ARAM.


We intend to quote a few scenes and snatches from Mr. Bulwer's
extraordinary novel of this name. At present, however, we can only
introduce the ill-fated hero.

(Two young ladies, daughters of the lord of the Manor, approach Aram's
house: - )

"Madeline would even now fain have detained her sister's hand from the
bell that hung without the porch half embedded in ivy; but Ellinor, out of
patience - as she well might be - with her sister's unseasonable prudence,
refused any longer delay. So singularly still and solitary was the plain
around the house, that the sound of the bell breaking the silence had in
it something startling, and appeared, in its sudden and shrill voice, a
profanation to the deep tranquillity of the spot. They did not wait
long - a step was heard within - the door was slowly unbarred, and the
Student himself stood before them."

"He was a man who might, perhaps, have numbered some five and thirty years;
but at a hasty glance, he would have seemed considerably younger. He was
above the ordinary stature; though a gentle, and not ungraceful bend in
the neck rather than the shoulders, somewhat curtailed his proper
advantages of height. His frame was thin and slender, but well knit and
fair proportioned. Nature had originally cast his form in an athletic
mould, but sedentary habits and the wear of mind seemed somewhat to have
impaired her gifts. His cheek was pale and delicate; yet it was rather the
delicacy of thought than of weak health. His hair, which was long, and of
a rich and deep brown, was worn back from his face and temples, and left a
broad high majestic forehead utterly unrelieved and bare; and on the brow
there was not a single wrinkle - it was as smooth as it might have been
some fifteen years ago. There was a singular calmness, and, so to speak,
profundity of thought, eloquent upon its clear expanse, which suggested
the idea of one who had passed his life rather in contemplation than
emotion. It was a face that a physiognomist would have loved to look upon,
so much did it speak both of the refinement and the dignity of intellect."

"Such was the person - if pictures convey a faithful resemblance - of a man,
certainly the most eminent in his day for various and profound learning,
and a genius wholly self-taught, yet never contented to repose upon the
wonderful stores it had laboriously accumulated."

(Aram thus describes his own character: - )

"Ah!" said Aram, gently shaking his head, "it is a hard life we bookmen
lead. Not for us is the bright face of noon-day or the smile of woman, the
gay unbending of the heart, the neighing steed and the shrill trump; the
pride, pomp, and circumstance of life. Our enjoyments are few and calm;
our labour constant; but that is it not, Sir? - that is it not? the body
avenges its own neglect. We grow old before our time; we wither up; the
sap of our youth shrinks from our veins; there is no bound in our step. We
look about us with dimmed eyes, and our breath grows short and thick, and
pains, and coughs, and shooting aches come upon us at night; it is a
bitter life - a bitter life - joyless life. I would I had never commenced it.
And yet the harsh world scowls upon us: our nerves are broken, and they
wonder we are querulous; our blood curdles, and they ask why we are not
gay; our brain grows dizzy and indistinct (as with me just now), and,
shrugging their shoulders, they whisper their neighbours that we are mad.
I wish I had worked at the plough, and known sleep, and loved
mirth - and - and not been what I am."

"As the Student tittered the last sentence, he bowed down his head, and a
few tears stole silently down his cheek. Walter was greatly affected - it
took him by surprise: nothing in Aram's ordinary demeanour betrayed any
facility to emotion; and he conveyed to all the idea of a man, if not
proud, at least cold."

* * * * *


OLD JESTS.


Persons who gloat over dust and black-letter need scarcely be told that
the best of "modern" jests are almost literally from the antique: in short,
that what we employ to "set the table on a roar" were employed by the wise
men of old to enliven _their_ cups, deep and strong; - that to jest was a
part of the Platonic philosophy, and that the excellent fancies, the
flashes of merriment, of our forefathers, are nightly, nay hourly,
re-echoed for our amusement. Yet such is the whole art of pleasing: what
has pleased will, with certain modifications, continue to please again and
again, until the end of time.

But we may displease; and, as Hamlet says, "We must speak by the card."
The _Athenaeum_ a fortnight since drew forth a batch of these jests with
antique humour richly dight, and here they are. The reader will recognise
many old acquaintances, but he need not touch his hat, lest, his politeness
weary him. These old stories are but "pick'd to be new vann'd."

_Hierocles' Facetiae_.

1. An irritable man went to visit a sick friend, and asked him concerning
his health. The patient was so ill that he could not reply; whereupon the
other in a rage said, "I hope that I may soon fall sick, and then I will
not answer you when you visit me."

2. A speculative gentleman, wishing to teach his horse to do without food,
starved him to death. "I had a great loss," said he; "for, just as he
learned to live without eating, he died."

3. A curious inquirer, desirous to know how he looked when asleep, sat
with closed eyes before a mirror.

4. A young man told his friend that he dreamed that he had struck his foot
against a sharp nail. "Why then do you sleep without your shoes?" was the
reply.

5. A robustious countryman, meeting a physician, ran to hide behind a wall;
being asked the cause, he replied, "It is so long since I have been sick,
that I am ashamed to look a physician in the face."

6. A gentleman had a cask of Aminean wine, from which his servant stole a
large quantity. When the master perceived the deficiency, he diligently
inspected the top of the cask but could find no traces of an opening.
"Look if there be not a hole in the bottom," said a bystander. "Blockhead,"
he replied, "do you not see that the deficiency is at the top, and not
at the bottom?"

7. A young man meeting an acquaintance, said, "I heard that you were dead."
- "But," says the other, "you see me alive." - "I do not know how that may
be," replied he: "you are a notorious liar, but my informant was a person
of credit."

8. A man, hearing that a raven would live two hundred years, bought one to
try.

9. During a storm, the passengers on board a vessel that appeared in
danger seized different implements to aid them in swimming, and one of the
number selected for this purpose the anchor.

10. One of twin-brothers died: a fellow meeting the survivor asked, "Which
is it, you or your brother, that's dead?"

11. A man whose son was dead, seeing a crowd assembled to witness the
funeral, said, "I am ashamed to bring my little child into such a numerous
assembly."

12. The son of a fond father, when going to war, promised to bring home
the head of one of the enemy. His parent replied, "I should be glad to see
you come home without a head, provided you come safe."

13. A man wrote to his friend in Greece begging him to purchase books.
From negligence or avarice, he neglected to execute the commission; but
fearing that his correspondent might be offended, he exclaimed when next
they met, "My dear friend, I never got the letter that you wrote me about
the books."

14. A wittol, a barber, and a bald-headed man travelled together. Losing
their way, they were forced to sleep in the open air; and, to avert danger,
it was agreed to keep watch by turns. The lot first fell on the barber,
who, for amusement, shaved the fool's head while he slept; he then woke
him, and the fool, raising his hand to scratch his head, exclaimed, "Here's
a pretty mistake; rascal! you have waked the bald-headed man instead of
me."

15. A citizen, seeing some sparrows in a tree, went beneath and shook it,
folding out his hat to catch them as they fell.

16. A foolish fellow, having a house to sell, took a brick from the wall
to exhibit as a sample.

17. A man meeting his friend, said, "I spoke to you last night in a dream."
"Pardon me," replied the other, "I did not hear you."

18. A man that had nearly been drowned while bathing, declared that he
would not again go into the water until he had learned to swim.

(To understand the next, we must premise that a horse with his first teeth
was called by the Greeks "a first thrower.")

19. A man selling a horse was asked if it was a first thrower. "By Jove,"
said he, "he's a second thrower, for he threw both me and my father."

20. A fellow had to cross a river, and entered the boat on horseback;
being asked the cause, he replied, "I must ride, because I am in a hurry."

21. A student in want of money sold his books, and wrote home, "Father,
rejoice; for I now derive my support from literature."

We thank the wits of the _Athenaeum_ for these piquancies: they are in the
right true Attic vein, and are therefore characteristic of that clever
Journal.

* * * * *


KNOWLEDGE FOR THE PEOPLE.

(_From_ Part xiii. - _Botany._)


_Why have vegetables the function of transpiration?_

Because the sap, on arriving in the leaves, loses and gives out the
superabundant quantity of water which it contained.

_Why are limpid drops often observed hanging at the points of leaves at
sunrise?_

Because of the vegetable transpiration condensed by the coldness of the
night. It was long thought that they were produced by dew; but Mushenbro√Ђk
first proved the above, by conclusive experiments. He intercepted all
communication between a poppy and the ambient air, by covering it with a
bell; and between it and the earth, by covering the vessel in which it
grew with a leaden plate. Next morning the drop appeared upon it as
before - _Richard._

One of the hydrangea tribe perspires so freely, that the leaves wither and
become crisp in a very short space of time, if the plant be not amply
supplied with water: it has 160,000 apertures on every inch square of
surface, on the under disk of the leaf.

_Why is more or less of a gummy, resinous, or saccharine matter found in
every tree?_

Because it is formed by branches of those returning vessels that deposit
the new alburnum.

_Why is it inferred that these juices must be prepared in the plant itself,
by various secretions, and changes of the fluids which it absorbs?_

Because we find, that in the same climate, nay, even in the same spot of
ground, rue has its bitter - sorrel its acid - and the lettuce its cooling
juices; and that the juices of the various parts of one plant, or even of
one fruit, are extremely different. Sir James Smith mentions the
peach-tree as a familiar example. "The gum of this tree is mild and
mucilaginous. The bark, leaves, and flowers, abound with a bitter
secretion, of a purgative and rather dangerous quality, than which nothing
can be more distinct from the gum. The fruit is replete, not only with
acid, mucilage, and sugar, but with its own peculiar aromatic and highly
volatile secretion, elaborated within itself, on which its fine flavour
depends." - _Introduction to Botany, 6th edit_.

_Why are these juices readily found in the bark?_

Because they appear to be matured, or brought to greater perfection, in
layers of wood or bark that have no longer any principal share in the
circulation of the sap. Thus, the vessels containing them are often very
large, as the turpentine cells of the fir tribe, in all the species of
which these secretions abound. The substance from which spruce-beer is
made, is an extract of the branches of the _Abies Canadensis_, or Hemlock
Spruce; a similar preparation is obtained from the branches of _Dacrydium_,
in the South Seas.

_Why, in the spring, is the herbage under trees generally more luxuriant
than it is beyond the spread of their branches?_

Because the driving mists and fogs becoming condensed on the branches,
cause a frequent drip beneath the tree not experienced in other places;
and thus keep up a perpetual irrigation and refreshment of the soil.

_Why are certain plants useful or injurious to others that grow in their
vicinity?_

Because of certain fluids which the roots excrete from their slender
extremities; and in this manner the likings and antipathies of certain
plants may be accounted for. Thus, it is well known that the creeping
thistle is hurtful to oats, _erigeron acre_ to wheat, _scabiosa arvensis_
to flax, &c.

_Why are some resins odorous?_

Because they contain essential oil; some afford benzoic acid when heated,
and these have been termed balsams; such as tolu balsam and benzoin.

Common resin is obtained by distilling the exudation of different species
of fir; oil of turpentine passes over, and the resin remains behind.

_Why are the varieties of the cashew tribe, called varnish-trees?_

Because their large flowers abound in a resinous, sometimes acrid, and
highly poisonous juice, which afterwards turns black, and is used for
varnishing in India. One kind is the common cashew nut. All these
varnishes are extremely dangerous to some constitutions; the skin, if
rubbed with them, inflames, and becomes covered with pimples that are
difficult to heal; the fumes have also been known to produce painful
swelling and inflammation.

_Why do these varnishes, at first white, afterwards turn black?_

Because the recent juice is an organized substance, consisting of an
immense congeries of small parts, which disperse the sun's rays in all
directions, like a thin film of unmelted tallow; while the varnish which
has been exposed to the air loses its organized structure, becomes
homogeneous, and then transmits the sun's rays, of a rich, deep, uniform,
red colour.

The leaves of some species of Schinus are so filled with a resinous fluid,
that the least degree of unusual repletion of the tissue causes it to be
discharged; thus, some of them fill the air with fragrance after rain; and
other kinds expel their resin with such violence when immersed in water,
as to have the appearance of spontaneous motion, in consequence of the
recoil. Another kind is said to cause swellings in those who sleep under
its shade. - _Brewster's Journal._

_Why is the soap-tree so called?_

Because its bark, if pulverized, and shaken in water, soon yields a
solution, frothing, as if it contained soap. It is a native of Chili; the
trunk is straight, and of considerable height; the wood is hard, red, and
never splits; and the bark is rugged, fibrous, of ash-grey colour
externally, and white within.

_Why is a species of myrtle called the wax-tree?_

Because the leaves and stem, when bruised, and boiled in water, yield wax,
which concretes on cooling. Mr. Brande observes, "the glossy varnish upon
the upper surface of many trees is of a similar nature; and though there
are shades of difference, these varieties of wax possess the essential
properties of that formed by the bee: indeed, it was formerly supposed
that bees merely collected the wax already formed by the vegetable: but
Huber's experiments show, that the insect has the power of transmuting
sugar into wax, and that this is in fact a secretion."

The wax-palm of Humboldt has its trunk covered by a coating of wax, which
exudes from the spaces between the insertion of the leaves. It is,
according to Vaquelin, a concrete, inflammable substance, consisting of
1/3 wax, and 2/3 resin.

_Why are some oils called vegetable butters?_

Because they become solid at the ordinary temperatures. Such are cocoa-nut
oil, palm oil, and nutmeg oil.

_Why are some volatile oils obtained by expression?_

Because they are contained in distinct vesicles in the rind of fruits, as
in the lemon, orange, and bergamot.

_Why is the oil of poppy-seed perfectly wholesome?_

Because it is in no degree narcotic; nor has it any of the properties of
the poppy itself. This oil is consumed on the Continent in considerable
quantity, and employed extensively in adulterating olive oil. Its use was
at one time prohibited in France, by decrees issued in compliance with
popular clamour; but it is now openly sold, the government and people
having grown wiser.

_Why is the juice of the poppy called opium?_

Because of its derivation from the Persian _afioun_, and the Arabian
_aphium_. The botanical name of the poppy, _papaver_, is said to be
derived from its being commonly mixed with the pap, papa, given to
children in order to ease pain, and procure sleep.

_Why does opium produce sleep?_

Because it contains an alkaline substance called Morphia. The same drug
contains a peculiar acid called the Meconic; and a vegetable alkali named
Narcotine, to which unpleasant stimulating properties are attributed by
Majendie.

_Why is sugar so generally found in plants?_

Because it is not only the seasoning of most eatable fruits, but abounds
in various roots, as the carrot, beet, parsnip, and in many plants of the
grass, or cane kind, besides the famous sugar cane.

Sir James Smith observes that "there is great reason to suppose sugar not
so properly an original secretion, as the result of a chemical change in
secretions already formed, either of an acid or mucilaginous nature, or
possibly a mixture of both. In ripening fruits, this change is most
striking, and takes place very speedily, seeming to be greatly promoted by
heat and light. By the action of frost, as Dr. Darwin observes, a
different change is wrought in the mucilage of the vegetable body, and it
becomes starch."

M. Berard considers gum and lignin as the principles in unripe fruits
which chiefly tend to the formation of sugar during their ripening, and he
has given several analyses of fruits in illustration of these views. Mr.
Brande also considers the elements of water as probably concerned in the
change.

* * * * *



THE NATURALIST.


THE SUGAR CANE.


At the island of Tahiti (Otaheite) South Pacific Ocean, there are several
varieties of the sugar cane, differing, however, in their qualities. The
number of varieties are eight, and are as follow: -

1. Rutu - of good quality.

2. Avae - of indifferent quality.

3. Irimotu - a rich cane, but does not grow to a large size.

4. Patu - a good cane, of a red colour.

5. To-ura - a dark-striped cane, hard and good.

6. Toute - a bad cane, of a red colour.

7. Veu - a good cane.

8. Vaihi - this attains a large size, and is considered of the best quality.
It is said by the natives to have been introduced from the Sandwich
Islands.

At Manilla (Island of Luconia) the planters mention three cultivated
varieties of the sugar cane: -

1. Cana negra - black sugar cane.

2. " morada - brown "

3. " blancha - white "

of which the black or cana negra is considered the best, from its strength
and the quantity of syrup contained in it.

_Mr. G.B.'s MS. Journal_, 1829-30.

* * * * *


THE BARN OWL;

_and the Benefits it confers on Man. By Charles Waterton, Esq._


This pretty aerial wanderer of the night often comes into my room; and
after flitting to and fro, on wing so soft and silent that he is scarcely
heard, he takes his departure from the same window at which he had entered.

I own I have a great liking for this bird; and I have offered it
hospitality and protection on account of its persecutions, and for its
many services to me, - I say services, as you will see in the sequel. I
wish that any little thing I could write or say might cause it to stand
better with the world at large than it has hitherto done: but I have
slender hopes on this score; because old and deep-rooted prejudices are
seldom overcome; and when I look back into the annals of remote antiquity,
I see too clearly that defamation has done its worst to ruin the whole
family, in all its branches, of this poor, harmless, useful friend of mine.

Ovid, nearly two thousand years ago, was extremely severe against the owl.
In his _Metamorphoses_ he says: -

"Foedaque fit volucris, venturi nuncia luctus,
Ignavus bubo, dirum mortalibus omen."[1]

In his _Fasti_ he openly accuses it of felony: -

"Nocte volant, puerosque petunt nutricis egentes."[2]

Lucan, too, has hit it hard: -

"Et laetae juranter aves, bubone sinistro:"[3]

and the Englishman who continued the _Pharsalia_, says -

"Tristia mille locis Stylus dedit omina bubo."[4]

Horace tells us that the old witch Canidia used part of the plumage of the
owl in her dealings with the devil: -

"Plumamque nocturnae strigis."[5]

Virgil, in fine, joined in the hue and cry against this injured family: -

"Solaque culminibus ferali carmine bubo Saepe queri, et longas in fletum
ducere voces."[6]

In our own times we find that the village maid cannot return home from
seeing her dying swain, without a doleful salutation from the owl: -

"Thus homeward as she hopeless went,
The churchyard path along,
The blast grew cold, the dark owl scream'd
Her lover's funeral song."

Amongst the numberless verses which might be quoted against the family of
the owl, I think I only know of one little ode which expresses any pity
for it. Our nursery maid used to sing it to the tune of the Storm, "Cease
rude Boreas, blust'ring railer." I remember the first two stanzas of it: -

"Once I was a monarch's daughter,
And sat on a lady's knee;
But am now a nightly rover,
Banish'd to the ivy tree -
Crying, hoo hoo, hoo hoo, hoo hoo,
Hoo hoo hoo, my feet are cold!
Pity me, for here you see me,
Persecuted, poor, and old."

I beg the reader's pardon for this exordium. I have introduced it, in
order to show how little chance there has been, from days long passed and
gone to the present time, of studying the haunts and economy of the owl,
because its unmerited bad name has created it a host of foes, and doomed
it to destruction from all quarters. Some few, certainly, from time to
time, have been kept in cages and in aviaries. But nature rarely thrives
in captivity, and very seldom appears in her true character when she is
encumbered with chains, or is to be looked at by the passing crowd through
bars of iron. However, the scene is now going to change; and I trust that
the reader will contemplate the owl with more friendly feelings, and quite
under different circumstances. Here, no rude schoolboy ever approaches its
retreat; and those who once dreaded its diabolical doings are now fully
satisfied that it no longer meddles with their destinies, or has any thing
to do with the repose of their departed friends. Indeed, human wretches in
the shape of body-snatchers seem here in England to have usurped the
office of the owl in our churchyards; "et vendunt tumulis corpora rapta
suis."[7]

Up to the year 1813, the barn owl had a sad time of it at Walton Hall. Its
supposed mournful notes alarmed the aged housekeeper. She knew full well
what sorrow it had brought into other houses when she was a young woman;
and there was enough of mischief in the midnight wintry blast, without
having it increased by the dismal screams of something which people knew
very little about, and which every body said was far too busy in the


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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 529, January 14, 1832 → online text (page 2 of 3)