FLORA attired by the ELEMENTS.







THE general design of the following sheets is to inlist Imagination under the banner of Science; and to lead her votaries from the looser analogies, which dress out the imagery of poetry, to the stricter, ones which form the ratiocination of philosophy. While their particular design is to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of Botany, by introducing them to the vestibule of that de­lightful science, and recommending to their attention the immortal works of the celebrated Swedish Naturalist, LINNEUS.

In the first Poem, or Economy of Vegetation, the phy­siology of Plants is delivered; and the operation of the Elements, as far as they may be supposed to affect the growth of Vegetables. In the second Poem, or Loves of the Plants, the Sexual System of Linneus is explained, with the remarkable properties of many particular plants.


IT may be proper here to apologize for many of the subsequent conjectures on some articles of natural philosophy, as not being supported by accurate investigation or conclusive experi­ments. Extravagant theories however in those parts of philosophy, where our knowledge is yet imperfect, are not without their use; as they encourage the execution of laborious experiments, or the investigation of ingenious deductions, to confirm or refute them. And since natural objects are allied to each other by many affinities, every kind of theoretic distribution of them adds to our knowledge by developing some of their analogies.

The Rosicrucian doctrine of Gnomes, Sylphs, Nymphs, and Salamanders, was thought to afford a proper machinery for a Botanic poem; as it is probable, that they were originally the names of hieroglyphic figures representing the elements.

Many of the important operations of Nature were shadowed or allegorized in the heathen mythology, as the first Cupid springing from the Egg of Night, the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, the Rape of Proserpine, the Congress of Jupiter and Juno, Death and Resus­citation of Adonis, &c. many of which are ingeniously explained in the works of Bacon, Vol. V. p. 47. 4th Edit. London, 1778. The [Page viii] Egyptians were possessed of many discoveries in philosophy and che­mistry before the invention of letters; these were then expressed in hieroglyphic paintings of men and animals; which after the dis­covery of the alphabet were described and animated by the poets, and became first the deities of Egypt, and afterwards of Greece and Rome. Allusions to those fables were therefore thought proper orna­ments to a philosophical poem, and are occasionally introduced either as represented by the poets, or preserved on the numerous gems and medallions of antiquity.


OFT tho' thy genius, D—! amply fraught
With native wealth, explore new worlds of mind;
Whence the bright ores of drossless wisdom brought,
Stampt by the Muse's hand, enrich mankind;
Tho' willing Nature to thy curious eye,
Involved in night, her mazy depths betray;
Till at their source thy piercing search descry
The streams, that bathe with Life our mortal clay;
Tho', boldly soaring in sublimer mood
Through trackless skies on metaphysic wings,
Thou darest to scan the approachless Cause of Good,
And weigh with steadfast hand the Sum of Things;
Yet wilt thou, charm'd amid his whispering bowers,
Oft with lone step by glittering Derwent stray,
Mark his green foliage, count his musky flowers,
That blush or tremble to the rising ray;
While FANCY, seated in her rock-roof'd dell,
Listening the secrets of the vernal grove,
Breathes sweetest strains to thy symphonious shell,
And gives new echoes to the throne of Love.

Argument of the First Canto.

THE Genius of the place invites the Goddess of Bo­tany. 1. She descends, is received by Spring, and the Elements, 59. Addresses the Nymphs of Fire. Star-light Night seen in the Camera Obscura, 81. I. Love created the Universe. Chaos explodes. All the Stars revolve. God. 97. II. Shooting Stars. Lightning. Rainbow. Colours of the Morning and Evening Skies. Exterior Atmosphere of inflammable Air. Twilight. Fire-balls. Aurora Borealis. Planets. Comets. Fixed Stars. Sun's Orb, 115. III. 1. Fires at the Earth's Centre. Animal Incubation, 137. 2. Volcanic Mountains. Venus visits the Cyclops, 149. IV. Heat confined on the Earth by the Air. Phosphoric lights in the Even­ing. Bolognian Stone. Calcined Shells. Memnon's Harp, 173. Ignis fatuus. Luminous Flowers. Glow-worm. Fire-fly. Lu­minous Sea-insects. Electric Eel. Eagle armed with Lightning, 189. V. 1. Discovery of Fire. Medusa, 209. 2. The chemical Properties of Fire. Phosphorus. Lady in Love, 223. 3. Gun-powder, 237. VI. Steam-engine applied to Pumps, Bellows, Water-engines, Corn-mills, Coining, Barges, Waggons, Flying-chariots, 253. Labours of Hercules. Abyla and Calpe, 297. VII. 1. Electric Machine. Hesperian Dragon. Electric kiss. Halo round the heads of Saints. Electric Shock. Fairy-rings, 335. 2. Death of Professor Richman, 371. 3. Franklin draws Lightning [Page xii] from the Clouds. Cupid snatches the Thunder-bolt from Jupiter▪ 383. VIII. Phosphoric Acid and Vital Heat produced in the Blood▪ The great Egg of Night, 399. IX. Western Wind unfettered▪ Naiad released. Frost assailed. Whale attacked, 421. X. Buds and Flowers expanded by Warmth, Electricity, and Light. Draw­ings with colourless sympathetic Inks; which appear when warmed by the Fire, 457. XI. Sirius. Jupiter and Semele. Northern Constellations. Ice-islands navigated into the Tropic Seas. Rainy Monsoons, 497. XII. Points erected to procure Rain. Elijah on Mount-Carmel, 547. Departure of the Nymphs of Fire like sparks from artificial Fireworks, 585.


"STAY YOUR RUDE STEPS! whose throbbing breasts infold
The legion-fiends of Glory, or of Gold!
STAY! whose false lips seductive simpers part,
While Cunning nestles in the harlot-heart!—
For you no Dryads dress the roseate bower,5
For you no Nymphs their sparkling vases pour;
[Page 2]Unmark'd by you, light Graces swim the green,
And hovering Cupids aim their shafts, unseen.
"But THOU! whose mind the well-attemper'd ray
Of Taste and Virtue lights with purer day; 10
Whose finer sense each soft vibration owns
With sweet responsive sympathy of tones;
So the fair flower expands it's lucid form1
To meet the sun, and shuts it to the storm;—
For thee my borders nurse the fragrant wreath,15
My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breathe;
Slow slides the painted snail, the gilded fly
Smooths his fine down, to charm thy curious eye;
On twinkling fins my pearly nations play,
Or win with sinuous train their trackless way; 20
My plumy pairs in gay embroidery dress'd
Form with ingenious bill the pensile nest,
[Page 3]To Love's sweet notes attune the listening dell,
And Echo sounds her soft symphonious shell
"And, if with Thee some hapless Maid should stray,
Disasterous Love companion of her way,2 26
Oh, lead her timid steps to yonder glade,
Whose arching cliffs depending alders shade;
There, as meek Evening wakes her temperate breeze,
And moon-beams glimmer through the trembling trees,
The rills, that gurgle round, shall soothe her ear,31
The weeping rocks shall number tear for tear;
There as sad Philomel, alike forlorn,
Sings to the Night from her accustomed thorn;
While at sweet intervals each falling note 35
Sighs in the gale, and whispers round the grot;
[Page 4]The sister-woe shall calm her aching breast,
And softer slumbers steal her cares to rest.—
"Winds of the North! restrain your icy gales,
Nor chill the bosom of these happy vales!40
Hence in dark heaps, ye gathering Clouds, revolve!
Disperse, ye Lightnings! and, ye Mists, dissolve!
—Hither, emerging from you orient skies,
BOTANIC GODDESS! bend thy radiant eyes;
O'er these soft scenes assume thy gentle reign,45
Pomona, Ceres, Flora in thy train;
O'er the still dawn thy placid smile effuse,
And with thy silver sandals print the dews;
In noon's bright blaze thy vermil vest unfold.
And wave thy emerald banner star'd with gold."50
Thus spoke the GENIUS, as He stept along,
And bade these lawns to Peace and Truth belong;
Down the steep slopes He led with modest skill
The willing pathway, and the truant rill,
Stretch'd o'er the marshy vale yon willowy mound,55
Where shines the lake amid the tufted ground,
Raised the young woodland, smooth'd the wavy green,
And gave to Beauty all the quiet scene.—
She comes!—the GODDESS!—through the whispering air,
Bright as the morn, descends her blushing car; 60
Each circling wheel a wreath of flowers intwines,
And gem'd with flowers the silken harness shines;
The golden bits with flowery studs are deck'd,
And knots of flowers the crimson reins connect.—
And now on earth the silver axle rings,65
And the shell sinks upon its slender springs;
Light from her airy seat the Goddess bounds,
And steps celestial press the pansied grounds.
Fair Spring advancing calls her feather'd quire,
And tunes to softer notes her laughing lyre; 70
Bids her gay hours on purple pinions move,
And arms her Zephyrs with the shafts of Love,
[Page 6]Pleased GNOMES, ascending from their earthy beds,3
Play round her graceful footsteps, as she treads;
Gay SYLPHS attendant beat the fragrant air 75
On winnowing wings, and waft her golden hair;
Blue NYMPHS emerging leave their sparkling streams,
And FIERY FORMS alight from orient beams;
Musk'd in the rose's lap fresh dews they shed,
Or breathe celestial lustres round her head.80
First the fine Forms her dulcet voice requires,
Which bathe or bask in elemental fires;
From each bright gem of Day's refulgent car,
From the pale sphere of every twinkling star,
From each nice pore of ocean, earth, and air,85
With eye of flame the sparkling hosts repair,
[Page 7]Mix their gay hues, in changeful circles play,
Like motes, that tenant the meridian ray.—
So the clear Lens collects with magic power
The countless glories of the midnight hour; 90
Stars after stars with quivering lustre fall,
And twinkling glide along the whiten'd wall.—
Pleased, as they pass, she counts the glittering bands,
And stills their murmur with her waving hands;
Each listening tribe with fond expectance burns,95
And now to these, and now to those, she turns.
Hung with gold-tresses o'er the vast inane,
[Page 8]Pierced with your silver shafts the throne of Night,
And charm'd young Nature's opening eyes with light; 100
When LOVE DIVINE, with brooding wings unfurl'd,5
Call'd from the rude abyss the living world.
[Page 9]"—LET THERE BE LIGHT!" proclaim'd the ALMIGHTY LORD,
Astonish'd Chaos heard the potent word;—
Through all his realms the kindling Ether runs,6 105
And the mass starts into a million suns;
Earths round each sun with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issue from the first;
[Page 10]Bend, as they journey with projectile force,
In bright ellipses their reluctant course; 110
Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres roll,
And form, self-balanced, one revolving Whole.
—Onward they move amid their bright abode,
Space without bound, THE BOSOM OF THEIR GOD!
II. ETHEREAL POWERS! YOU chase the shooting stars,7
Or yoke the vollied lightenings to your cars,116
Cling round the aërial bow with prisms bright,8
And pleased untwist the sevenfold threads of light;
[Page 11]Eve's silken couch with gorgeous tints adorn,9
And fire the arrowy throne of rising Morn.120
—OR, plum'd with flame, in gay battalion's spring
To brighter regions borne on broader wing;
Where lighter gases, circumfused on high,10
Form the vast concave of exterior sky;
[Page 12]With airy lens the scatter'd rays assault,125
And bend the twilight round the dusky vault;11
Ride, with broad eye and scintillating hair,
The rapid Fire-ball through the midnight air;
Dart from the North on pale electric streams,
Fringing Night's sable robe with transient beams.130
—OR rein the Planets in their swift careers,
Gilding with borrow'd light their twinkling spheres;
Alarm with comet-blaze the sapphire plain,12
The wan stars glimmering through its silver train;
[Page 13]Gem the bright Zodiac, stud the glowing pole,135
Or give the Sun's phlogistic orb to roll.13
III. NYMPHS! YOUR fine forms with steps impassive mock
Earth's vaulted roofs of adamantine rock;
Round her still centre tread the burning soil,14
And watch the billowy Lavas, as they boil; 140
Where, in basaltic caves imprison'd deep,
Reluctant fires in dread suspension sleep;
Or sphere on sphere in widening waves expand,15
And glad with genial warmth the incumbent land.
So when the Mother-bird selects their food 145
With curious bill, and feeds her callow brood;
[Page 14]Warmth from her tender heart eternal springs,
And pleased she clasps them with extended wings.
"You from deep cauldrons and unmeasured caves
Blow flaming airs, or pour vitrescent waves; 150
O'er shining oceans ray volcanic light,
Or hurl innocuous embers to the night.—16
While with loud shouts to Etna Heccla calls,
And Andes answers from his beacon'd walls;
[Page 15]Sea-wilder'd crews the mountain-stars admire,155
And Beauty beams amid tremendous fire.
"Thus when of old, as mystic bards presume,
Huge CYCLOPS dwelt in Etna's rocky womb,
On thundering anvils rung their loud alarms,
And leagued with VUCLAN forged immortal arms; 160
Descending VENUS sought the dark abode,
And sooth'd the labours of the grisly God.—
While frowning Loves the threatening falchion wield,
And tittering Graces peep behind the shield,
With jointed mail their fairy limbs o'erwhelm,165
Or nod with pausing step the plumed helm;
With radiant eye She view'd the boiling ore,
Heard undismay'd the breathing bellows roar,
Admired their sinewy arms, and shoulders bare,
And ponderous hammers lifted high in air,170
With smiles celestial bless'd their dazzled sight,
And Beauty blazed amid infernal night.
IV." EFFULGENT MAIDS! YOU round deciduous day,
Tressed with soft beams, your glittering bands array;17
On Earth's cold bosom, as the Sun retires,175
Confine with folds of air the lingering fires;
O'er Eve's pale forms diffuse phosphoric light,18
And deck with lambent flames the shrine of Night.
[Page 17]So, warm'd and kindled by meridian skies,
And view'd in darkness with dilated eyes,180
BOLOGNA's chalks with saint ignition blaze,
BECCARI's shells emit prismatic rays.19
[Page 18]So to the sacred Sun in MEMNON'S fane,20
Spontaneous concords quired the matin strain;
—Touch'd by his orient beam, responsive rings 185
The living lyre, and vibrates all it's strings;
Accordant ailes the tender tones prolong,
And holy echoes swell the adoring song.
"You with light Gas the lamps nocturnal feed,21
Which dance and glimmer o'er the marshy mead; 190
[Page 19]Shine round Calendula at twilight hours,22
And tip with silver all her saffron flowers;
Warm on her mossy couch the radiant Worm,23
Guard from cold dews her love-illumin'd form,
From leaf to leaf conduct the virgin light,195
Star of the earth, and diamond of the night.
You bid in air the tropic Beetle burn,
And fill with golden flame his winged urn;
Or gild the surge with infect-sparks, that swarm
Round the bright oar, the kindling prow alarm; 200
Or arm in waves, electric in his ire,
The dread Gymnotus with ethereal fire,—24
Onward his course with waving tail he helms,
And mimic lightenings scare the watery realms,
[Page 20]So, when with bristling plumes the Bird of JOVE 205
Vindictive leaves the argent fields above,
[Page 21]Borne on broad wings the guilty world he awes,
And grasps the lightening in his shining claws.25
V. 1. "NYMPHS! YOUR soft smiles uncultur'd man subdued,
And charm'd the Savage from his native wood; 210
You, while amazed his hurrying Hords retire
From the fell havoc of devouring FIRE,26
[Page 22]Taught, the first Art! with piny rods to raise
By quick attrition the domestic blaze,
Fan with soft breath, with kindling leaves provide,215
And list the dread Destroyer on his side.
So, with bright wreath of serpent-tresses crown'd,
Severe in beauty, young MEDUSA frown'd;27
Erewhile subdued, round WISDOM'S Aegis roll'd 219
Hiss'd the dread snakes, and flam'd in burnish'd gold;
Flash'd on her brandish'd arm the immortal shield,
And Terror lighten'd o'er the dazzled field.
2. NYMPHS! YOU disjoin, unite, condense, expand,
And give new wonders to the Chemist's hand;
[Page 23]On tepid clouds of rising steam aspire,225
Or fix in sulphur all it's solid fire;28
With boundless spring elastic airs unfold,
Or fill the fine vacuities of gold;
With sudden flash vitrescent sparks reveal,29
By fierce collision from the flint and steel; 230
[Page 24]Or mark with shining letters KUNKEL's name
In the pale Phosphor's self-consuming flame.30
So the chaste heart of some enchanted Maid
Shines with insidious light, by Love betray'd;
Round her pale bosom plays the young Desire,235
And slow she wastes by self-consuming fire.
3. "You taught mysterious BACON to explore
Metallic veins, and part the dross from ore;
With sylvan coal in whirling mills combine
The crystal'd nitre, and the sulphurous minè; 240
Through wiry nets the black diffusion strain,
And close an airy ocean in a grain.— 31
[Page 25]Pent in dark chambers of cylindric brass,
Slumbers in grim repose the sooty mass;
Lit by the brilliant spark, from grain to grain 245
Runs the quick fire along the kindling train;
On the pain'd ear-drum bursts the sudden crash,
Starts the red flame, and Death pursues the flash.—
[Page 26]Fear's feeble hand directs the fiery darts,
And Strength and Courage yield to chemic arts; 250
Guilt with pale brow the mimic thunder owns,
And Tyrants tremble on their blood-stain'd thrones.
VI. NYMPHS! YOU erewhile on simmering cauldrons play'd,
And call'd delighted SAVERY to your aid;32
[Page 27]Bade round the youth explosive STEAM aspire 255
In gathering clouds, and wing'd the wave with fire;
Bade with cold streams the quick expansion stop,
And sunk the immense of vapour to a drop.—
Press'd by the ponderous air the Piston falls
Resistless, sliding through it's iron walls; 260
Quick moves the balanced beam, of giant-birth,
Wields his large limbs, and nodding shakes the earth.
"The Giant-Power from earth's remotest caves
Lifts with strong arm her dark reluctant waves;
Each cavern'd rock, and hidden den explores,265
Drags her dark coals, and digs her shining ores.—
Next, in close cells of ribbed oak confined,
Gale after gale, He crowds the struggling wind;
The imprison'd storms through brazen nostrils roar,
Fan the white flame, and fuse the sparkling ore.270
Here high in air the rising stream He pours
To clay-built cisterns, or to lead-lined towers;
[Page 28]Fresh through a thousand pipes the wave distils,
And thirsty cities drink the exuberant rills.—
There the vast mill-stone with inebriate whirl 275
On trembling floors his forceful fingers twirl.
Whose flinty teeth the golden harvests grind,
Feast without blood! and nourish human-kind.33
"Now his hard hands on Mona's rifted crest,34
Bosom'd in rock, her azure ores arrest; 280
[Page 29]With iron lips his rapid rollers seize35
The lengthening bars, in thin expansion squeeze;
Descending screws with ponderous fly-wheels wound
The tawny plates, the new medallions round;
Hard dyes of steel the cupreous circles cramp,285
And with quick fall his massy hammers stamp.
The Harp, the Lily and the Lion join,
And GEORGE and BRITAIN guard the sterling coin.
"Soon shall thy arm, UNCONQUER'D STEAM! afar
Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car; 290
Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear
The flying-chariot through the fields of air.
[Page 30]—Fair crews triumphant, leaning from above,
Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move;
Or warrior-bands alarm the gaping crowd,295
And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud.
"So mighty HERCULES o'er many a clime36
Waved his vast mace in Virtue's cause sublime,
[Page 31]Unmeasured strength with early art combined,
Awed, served, protected, and amazed mankind.— 300
First two dread Snakes at JUNO's vengeful nod
Climb'd round the cradle of the sleeping God;
Waked by the shrilling hiss, and rustling sound,
And shrieks of fair attendants trembling round,
Their gasping throats with clenching hands he holds;
And Death untwists their convoluted folds.306
Next in red torrents from her sevenfold heads
Fell HYDRA's blood on Lerna's lake he sheds;
Grasps ACHELOUS with resistless force,
And drags the roaring River to his course; 310
Binds with loud bellowing and with hideous yell
The monster Bull, and threefold Dog of Hell.
"Then, where Nemea's howling forests wave,
He drives the Lion to his dusky cave;
[Page 32]Seized by the throat the growling fiend disarms,315
And tears his gaping jaws with sinewy arms;
Lifts proud ANTEUS from his mother-plains,
And with strong grasp the struggling Giant strains;
Back falls his fainting head, and clammy hair,
Writhe his weak limbs, and flits his life in air;— 310
By steps reverted o'er the blood-dropp'd fen
He tracks huge CACUS to his murderous den;
Where breathing flames through brazen lips he fled,
And shakes the rock-roof'd cavern o'er his head.
"Last with wide arms the solid earth He tears,325
Piles rock on rock, on mountain mountain rears;
Heaves up huge ABYLA on Afric's sand,
Crowns with high CALPE Europe's saliant strand,
Crests with opposing towers the splendid scene,
And pours from urns immense the sea between.— 330
—Loud o'er her whirling flood Charybdis roars,
Affrighted Scylla bellows round his shores,
[Page 33]Vesuvio groans through all his echoing caves,
And Etna thunders o'er the insurgent waves.
VII. 1. NYMPHS! YOUR fine hands ethereal floods amass37
From the warm cushion, and the whirling glass; 336
Beard the bright cylinder with golden wire,
And circumfuse the gravitating fire.
Cold from each point cerulean lustres gleam,38
Or shoot in air the scintillating stream.340
So, borne on brazen talons, watch'd of old
The sleepless dragon o'er his fruits of gold;
[Page 34]Bright beam'd his scales, his eye-balls blazed with ire,
And his wide nostrils breath'd inchanted fire.
You bid gold-leaves, in crystal lantherns held,39
Approach attracted, and recede repel'd; 346
While paper-nymphs instinct with motion rise,
And dancing fauns the admiring Sage surprize.
OR, if on wax some fearless Beauty stand,
And touch the sparkling rod with graceful hand; 350
Through her fine limbs the mimic lightnings dart,
And flames innocuous eddy round her heart;
O'er her fair brow the kindling lustres glare,
Blue rays diverging from the bristling hair;
While some fond Youth the kiss ethereal sips.355
And soft fires issue from their meeting lips.
[Page 35]So round the virgin Saint in silver streams
The holy Halo shoots it's arrowy beams.40
"You crowd in coated jars the denser fire,
Pierce the thin glass, and fuse the blazing wire; 360
Or dart the red flash through the circling band
Of youths and timorous damsels, hand in hand.
—Starts the quick Ether through the fibre-trains
Of dancing arteries, and of tingling veins,
Goads each fine nerve, with new sensation thrill'd,41 365
Bends the reluctant limbs with power unwill'd;
[Page 36]Palsy's cold hands the fierce concussion own,42
And Life clings trembling on her tottering throne.—
So from dark clouds the playful lightning springs,
Rives the firm oak, or prints the Fairy-rings.43 370
2. NYMPHS! on that day YE shed from lucid eyes.
Celestial tears, and breathed ethereal sighs!
[Page 37]When RICHMAN rear'd, by fearless haste betray'd,44
The wiry rod in Nieva's fatal shade;—
Clouds o'er the Sage, with fringed skirts succeed,375
Flash follows flash, the warning corks recede;
Near and more near He ey'd with fond amaze
The silver streams, and watch'd the saphire blaze;
Then bursts the steel, the dart electric sped,
And the bold Sage lay number'd with the dead!— 380
NYMPHS! on that day YE shed from lucid eyes
Celestial tears, and breathed ethereal sighs!
3. "You led your FRANKLIN to your glazed retreats,45
Your air-built castles, and your silken seats;
[Page 38]Bade his bold arm invade the lowering sky,385
And seize the tiptoe lightnings, ere they fly;
O'er the young Sage your mystic mantle spread,
And wreath'd the crown electric round his head.—
Thus when on wanton wing intrepid LOVE46
Snatch'd the raised lightning from the arm of JOVE; 390
Quick o'er his knee the triple bolt He bent,
The cluster'd darts and forky arrows rent,
Snapp'd with illumin'd hands each flaming shaft,
His tingling fingers shook, and stamp'd, and laugh'd;
[Page 39]Bright o'er the floor the scatter'd fragments blaz'd,395
And Gods retreating trembled as they gaz'd;
The immortal Sire, indulgent to his child,
Bow'd his ambrosial locks, and Heaven relenting smiled.
VIII. "When Air's pure essence joins the vital flood,
And with phosphoric Acid dyes the blood,400
YOUR VIRGIN TRAINS the transient HEAT dispart,47
And lead the soft combustion round the heart;
[Page 40]Life's holy lamp with fires successive feed,
From the crown'd forehead to the prostrate weed,
From Earth's proud realms to all that swim or sweep
The yielding ether or tumultuous deep.406
You swell the bulb beneath the heaving lawn,
Brood the live seed, unfold the bursting spawn;
Nurse with soft lap, and warm with fragrant breath
The embryon panting in the arms of Death; 410
Youth's vivid eye with living light adorn,
And fire the rising blush of Beauty's golden morn.
"Thus when the Egg of Night, on Chaos hurl'd,48
Burst, and disclosed the cradle of the world;
[Page 41]First from the gaping shell refulgent sprung 415
IMMORTAL LOVE, his bow celestial strung;—
O'er the wide waste his gaudy wings unfold,
Beam his soft smiles, and wave his curls of gold;—
With silver darts He pierced the kindling frame,
And lit with torch divine the ever-living flame."420
IX. THE GODDESS paused, admired with conscious pride
The effulgent legions marshal'd by her side,
Forms sphered in fire wirh trembling light array'd,
Ens without weight, and substance without shade;
And, while tumultuous joy her bosom warms,425
Waves her white hand, and calls her hosts to arms,
"Unite, ILLUSTRIOUS NYMPHS! your radiant powers,
Call from their long repose the VERNAL HOURS.
[Page 42]Wake with soft touch, with rosy hands unbind
The struggling pinions of the WESTERN WIND;49 430
Chafe his wan cheeks, his ruffled plumes repair,
And wring the rain-drops from his tangled hair.
Blaze round each frosted rill, or stagnant wave,
And charm the NAIAD from her silent cave;
Where, shrined in ice, like NIOBE she mourns,435
And clasps with hoary arms her empty urns.
[Page 43]Call your bright myriads, trooping from afar,
With beamy helms, and glittering shafts of war;
In phalanx firm the FIEND OF FROST assail,50
Break his white towers, and pierce his crystal mail; 440
To Zembla's moon-bright coasts the Tyrant bear,
And chain him howling to the Northern Bear.
"So when enormous GRAMPUS, issuing forth
From the pale regions of the icy North;
[Page 44]Waves his broad tail, and opes his ribbed mouth,445
And seeks on winnowing fin the breezy South;
From towns deserted rush the breathless hosts,
Swarm round the hills, and darken all the coasts;
Boats follow boats along the shouting tides,
And spears and javelins pierce his blubbery sides; 450
Now the bold Sailor, raised on pointed toe,
Whirls the wing'd harpoon on the slimy foe;
Quick sinks the monster in his oozy bed,
The blood-stain'd surges circling o'er his head,
Steers to the frozen pole his wonted track,455
And bears the iron tempest on his back.
X. "On wings of flame, ETHEREAL VIRGINS! sweep
O'er Earth's fair bosom, and complacent deep;
Where dwell my vegetative realms benumb'd,
In buds imprison'd, or in bulbs intomb'd,51 460
[Page 45]Pervade, PELLUCID FORMS! their cold retreat,
Ray from bright urns your viewless floods of heat; 52
[Page 46]From earth's deep wastes electric torrents pour,53
Or shed from heaven the scintillating shower;
Pierce the dull root, relax its fibre-trains,465
Thaw the thick blood, which lingers in its veins;
[Page 47]Melt with warm breath the fragrant gums, that bind
The expanding foliage in its scaly rind;
And as in air the laughing leaflets play,
And turn their shining bosoms to the ray,470
NYMPHS! with sweet smile each opening flower invite,
And on its damask eyelids pour the light.
"So shall my pines, Canadian wilds that shade,
Where no bold step has pierc'd the tangled glade,
High-towering palms, that part the Southern flood 475
With shadowy isles and continents of wood,
Oaks, whose broad antlers crest Britannia's plain,
Or bear her thunders o'er the conquer'd main,
Shout, as you pass, inhale the genial skies,
And bask and brighten in your beamy eyes; 480
Bow their white heads, admire the changing clime,
Shake from their candied trunks the tinkling rime;
With bursting buds their wrinkled barks adorn,
And wed the timorous floret to her thorn;
[Page 48]Deep strike their roots, their lengthening tops revive,
And all my world of foliage wave, alive.458
"Thus with Hermetic art the ADEPT combines54
The royal acid with cobaltic mines;
Marks with quick pen, in lines unseen portrayed,
The blushing mead, green dell, and dusky glade; 490
Shades with pellucid clouds the tintless field,
And all the future Group exists conceal'd;
Till waked by fire the dawning tablet glows,
Green springs the herb, the purple floret blows,
Hills vales and woods in bright succession rise,495
And all the living landscape charms his eyes.
IX. "With crest of gold should sultry SIRIUS glare,
And with his kindling tresses scorch the air;
[Page 49]With points of flame the shafts of Summer arm,
And burn the beauties he designs to warm;— 500
—So erst when JOVE his oath extorted mourn'd,
And clad in glory to the Fair return'd;
While Loves at forky bolts their torches light,
And resting lightnings gild the car of Night;
His blazing form the dazzled Maid admir'd,505
Met with fond lips, and in his arms expir'd;—
NYMPHS! on light pinion lead your banner'd hosts
High o'er the cliffs of ORKNEY's gulphy coasts;
Leave on your left the red volcanic light,
Which HECCLA lifts amid the dusky night; 510
Mark on the right the DOFRINE's snow-capt brow,
Where whirling MAELSTROME roars and foams below;
Watch with unmoving eye, where CEPHEUS bends
His triple crown, his scepter'd hand extends;
[Page 50]Where studs CASSIOPE with stars unknown55 515
Her golden chair, and gems her sapphire zone;
Where with vast convolution DRACO holds
The ecliptic axis in his scaly folds,
O'er half the skies his neck enormous rears,
And with immense meanders parts the BEARS; 520
Onward, the kindred BEARS with footstep rude
Dance round the Pole, pursuing and pursued.
"There in her azure coif and starry stole,
Grey TWILIGHT sits, and rules the slumbering Pole;
Bends the pale moon-beams round the sparkling coast,
And strews with livid hands eternal frost.526
There, NYMPHS! alight, array your dazzling powers,
With sudden march alarm the torpid Hours;
[Page 51]On ice-built isles expand a thousand sails,56
Hinge the strong helms, and catch the frozen gales;
[Page 52]The winged rocks to feverish climates guide,
Where fainting Zephyrs pant upon the tide; 530
Pass, where to CEUTA CALPE's thunder roars,
And answering echoes shake the kindred shores;
Pass, where with palmy plumes CANARY smiles,
And in her silver girdle binds her isles;
Onward, where NIGER's dusky Naiad laves 535
A thousand kingdoms with prolific waves,
Or leads o'er golden sands her threefold train57
In steamy channels to the fervid main,
While swarthy nations croud the sultry coast,
Drink the fresh breeze, and hail the floating Frost,540
[Page 53]NYMPHS! veil'd in mist, the melting treasures steer,
And cool with arctic snows the tropic year.
So from the burning Line by Monsoons driven
Clouds sail in squadrons o'er the darken'd heaven;
Wide wastes of sand the gelid gales pervade,58 545
And ocean cools beneath the moving shade.
XII. Should SOLSTICE, stalking through the sickening bowers,
Suck the warm dew-drops, lap the falling showers;
Kneel with parch'd lip, and bending from it's brink
From dripping palm the scanty river drink; 550
NYMPHS! o'er the soil ten thousand points erect,59
And high in air the electric flame collect.
[Page 54]Soon shall dark mists with self-attraction shroud
The blazing day, and sail in wilds of cloud;
Each silvery Flower the streams aerial quaff,555
Bow her sweet head, and infant Harvest laugh.
"Thus when ELIJA mark'd from Carmel's brow
In bright expanse the briny flood below;
Roll'd his red eyes amid the scorching air,
Smote his firm breast, and breathed his ardent prayer;
High in the midst a massy altar stood,561
And slaughter'd offerings press'd the piles of wood;
While ISRAEL's chiefs the sacred hill surround,
And famish'd armies crowd the dusty ground;
[Page 55]While proud Idolatry was leagued with dearth,565
And wither'd famine swept the desert earth.—
"OH, MIGHTY LORD! thy woe-worn servant hear,
"Who calls thy name in agony of prayer;
"Thy fanes dishonour'd, and thy prophets slain,
"Lo! I alone survive of all thy train!— 570
"Oh send from heaven thy sacred fire,—and pour
"O'er the parch'd land the salutary shower,—
"So shall thy Priest thy erring flock recal,—
"And speak in thunder, "THOU ART LORD OF ALL.—"
He cried, and kneeling on the mountain-sands,575
Stretch'd high in air his supplicating hands.
—Descending flames the dusky shrine illume;
Fire the wet wood, the sacred bull consume;
Wing'd from the sea the gathering mists arise,
And floating waters darken all the skies; 580
The King with shifted reins his chariot bends,
And wide o'er earth the airy flood descends;
With mingling cries dispersing hosts applaud,
And shouting nations own THE LIVING GOD."
[Page 56]The GODDESS ceased,—the exulting tribes obey,
Start from the soil, and win their airy way; 586
The vaulted skies with streams of transient rays
Shine, as they pass, and earth and ocean blaze.
So from fierce wars when lawless Monarch's cease,
Or Liberty returns with laurel'd Peace; 590
Bright fly the sparks, the colour'd lustres burn,
Flash follows flash, and flame-wing'd circles turn;
Blue serpents sweep along the dusky air,
Imp'd by long trains of scintillating hair;
Red rockets rise, loud cracks are heard on high,595
And showers of stars rush headlong from the sky,
Burst, as in silver lines they hiss along,
And the quick flash unfolds the gazing throng.

Argument of the Second Canto.

ADDRESS to the Gnomes. I. The Earth thrown from a volcano of the Sun; it's atmosphere and ocean; it's journey through the zodiac; vicissitude of day-light, and of seasons, 11. II. Primeval islands. Paradise, or the golden Age. Venus rising from the sea, 33. III. The first great earthquakes; continents raised from the sea; the Moon thrown from a volcano, has no atmosphere, and is frozen; the earth's diurnal motion retarded; it's axis more inclined; whirls with the moon round a new centre. 67. IV. Formation of lime-stone by aqueous solution; calcaneous spar; white marble; antient statue of Hercules resting from his labours. Antinous. Apollo of Belvidere. Venus de Medici. Lady Elizabeth Foster, and Lady Melbourn by Mrs. Damer. 93. V. 1. Of morasses. Whence the production of Salt by elutriation. Salt-mines at Cracow, 115. 2. Production of nitre. Mars and Venus caught by Vulcan, 143. 3. Production of iron. Mr. Michel's improvement of artificial magnets. Uses of Steel in agriculture, navigation, war, 183. IV. Production of acids, whence Flint. Sea-sand. Selenite. Asbestus. Fluor. Onyx, Agate, Mocho, Opal, Sapphire, Ruby, Diamond. Jupiter and Europa, 215. VI. 1. New subterraneous fires from fermentation. Production of Clays; manufacture of Porcelain in China; in Italy; in England. Mr. Wedgwood's works at Etruria in Staffordshire. Cameo of a Slave in Chains; of Hope. Figures on the Portland or Barberini vase explained, 271. 2. Coal; Pyrite; Naphtha; Jet; Amber. Dr. Franklin's discovery of disarming the Tempest of it's lightning. Liberty of America; of Ireland; of France, 349. VII. Antient [Page 58] central subterraneous fires. Production of Tin, Copper, Zink, Lead, Mercury, Platina, Gold and Silver. Destruction of Mexico. Slavery of Africa, 395. VIII. Destruction of the armies of Cam­byses, 431. IX. Gnomes like stars of an Orrery. Inroads of the Sea stopped. Rocks cultivated. Hannibal passes the Alps, 499. X. Matter circulates. Manures to Vegetables like Chyle to Ani­mals. Plants rising from the Earth. St. Peter delivered from Prison, 537. Departure of the Gnomes, 575.


AND NOW THE GODDESS with attention sweet
Turns to the GNOMES, that circle round her feet;
Orb within orb approach the marshal'd trains,
And pigmy legions darken all the plains;
Thrice shout with silver tones the applauding bands,
Bow, ere She speaks, and clap their fairy hands.
[Page 60]So the tall grass, when noon-tide zephyr blows,
Bends it's green blades in undulating rows;
Wide o'er the fields the billowy tumult spreads,
And rustling harvests bow their golden heads.10
I. "GNOMES! YOUR bright forms, presiding at her birth,
Clung in fond squadrons round the new-born EARTH;
When high in ether, with explosion dire,
From the deep craters of his realms of fire,60
The whirling Sun this ponderous planet hurl'd,15
And gave the astonish'd void another world.
When from it's vaporous air, condensed by cold,61
Descending torrents into oceans roll'd;
[Page 61]And fierce attraction with relentless force
Bent the reluctant wanderer to it's course.20
"Where yet the Bull with diamond-eye adorns
The Spring's fair forehead, and with golden horns;
Where yet the Lion climbs the ethereal plain,
And shakes the Summer from his radiant mane;
Where Libra lifts her airy arm, and weighs,25
Poised in her silver ballance, nights and days;
With paler lustres where Aquarius burns,
And showers the still snow from his hoary urns;
YOUR ardent troops pursued the flying sphere,
Circling the starry girdle of the year; 30
While sweet vicissitudes of day and clime
Mark'd the new annals of enascent Time.
II. "YOU trod with printless step Earth's tender globe,
While Ocean wrap'd it in his azure robe;62
Beneath his waves her hardening strata spread,63 25
Raised her Primeval Islands from his bed,64
[Page 63]Stretch'd her wide lawns, and sunk her winding dells,
And deck'd her shores with corals, pearls, and shells.
"O'er those blest isles no ice-crown'd mountains tower'd,
No lightning darted, and no tempests lower'd; 40
Soft fell the vesper-drops, condensed below,
Or bent in air the rain-refracted bow;
Sweet breathed the zephyrs, just perceiv'd and lost;
And brineless billows only kiss'd the coast;
Round the bright zodiac danced the vernal hours,45
And Peace, the Cherub, dwelt in mortal bowers!
[Page 64]So young DIONE, nursed beneath the waves,65
And rock'd by Nereids in their coral caves,
Charm'd the blue sisterhood with playful wiles,
Lisp'd her sweet tones, and tried her tender smiles.50
Then, on her beryl throne by Triton's borne,
Bright rose the Goddess like the Star of morn;
When with soft fires the milky dawn He leads,
And wakes to life and love the laughing meads;—
With rosy fingers, as uncurl'd they hung 55
Round her fair brow, her golden locks she wrung;
O'er the smooth surge on silver sandals stood,
And look'd enchantment on the dazzled flood.—
The bright drops, rolling from her lifted arms,
In slow meanders wander o'er her charms,60
Seek round her snowy neck their lucid track,
Pearl her white shoulders, gem her ivory back,
Round her fine waist and swelling bosom swim,
And star with glittering brine each crystal limb.—
[Page 65]—The immortal form enamour'd Nature hail'd,65
And Beauty blazed to heaven and earth, unvail'd.
III. "You! who then, kindling after many an age,
Saw with new fires the first Volcano rage,66
O'er smouldering heaps of livid sulphur swell
At Earth's firm centre, and distend her shell,70
[Page 66]Saw at each opening cleft the furnace glow,
And seas rush headlong on the gulphs below.—
GNOMES! how you shriek'd! when through the troubled air
Roar'd the fierce din of elemental war;
When rose the continents, and sunk the main,75
And Earth's huge sphere exploding burst in twain.—
GNOMES! how you gazed! when from her wounded side67
Where now the South-Sea heaves its waste of tide,
Rose on swift wheels the MOON's refulgent car,
Circling the solar orb, a sister-star,80
Dimpled with vales, with shining hills emboss'd,
And roll'd round Earth her airless realms of frost.68
"GNOMES! how you trembled! with the dreadful force
When Earth recoiling stagger'd from her course;69
When, as her Line in slower circles spun,85
And her shock'd axis nodded from the sun,
With dreadful march the accumulated main
Swept her vast wrecks of mountain, vale, and plain;
And, while new tides their shouting floods unite,
And hail their Queen, fair Regent of the night; 90
[Page 68]Chain'd to one centre whirl'd the kindred spheres,
And mark'd with lunar cycles solar years.
IV. "GNOMES! YOU then bade dissolving SHELLS distil70
From the loose summits of each shatter'd hill,
To each fine pore and dark interstice flow,95
And fill with liquid chalk the mass below.
Whence sparry forms in dusky caverns gleam
With borrow'd light, and twice refract the beam;
While in white beds congealing rocks beneath
Court the nice chissel, and desire to breathe.— 100
"Hence wearied HERCULES in marble rears71
His languid limbs, and rests a thousand years;
Still, as he leans, shall young ANTINOUS please
With careless grace, and unaffected ease;
Onward with loftier step APOLLO spring,105
And launch the unerring arrow from the string;
In Beauty's bashful form, the veil unfurl'd,
Ideal VENUS win the gazing world.
Hence on ROUBILIAC's tomb shall Fame sublime
Wave her triumphant wings, and conquer Time; 110
Long with soft touch shall DAMER's chissel charm,
With grace delight us, and with beauty warm;
FOSTER's fine form shall hearts unborn engage,72
And MELBOURN's smile enchant another age.
V. GNOMES! YOU then taught transuding dews to pass
Through time-fall'n woods, and root-inwove morass73 116
Age after age; and with filtration fine
Dispart, from earths and sulphurs, the saline.
1. "HENCE with diffusive SALT old Ocean steeps74
His emerald shallows, and his sapphire deeps.120
[Page 71]Oft in wide lakes, around their warmer brim
In hollow pyramids the crystals swim;
Or, fused by earth-born fires, in cubic blocks
Shoot their white forms, and harden into rocks.124
"Thus, cavern'd round in CRACOW's mighty mines,
With crystal walls a gorgeous city shines;
Scoop'd in the briny rock long streets extend
Their hoary course, and glittering domes ascend;
Down the bright steeps, emerging into day,
Impetuous fountains burst their headlong way,130
O'er milk-white vales in ivory channels spread,
And wondering seek their subterraneous bed.
Form'd in pellucid salt with chissel nice,
The pale lamp glimmering through the sculptured ice,
With wild reverted eyes fair LOTTA stands,135
And spreads to Heaven, in vain, her glassy hands;
Cold dews condense upon her pearly breast,
And the big tear rolls lucid down her vest.
Far gleaming o'er the town transparent fanes
Rear their white towers, and wave their golden vanes;
Long lines of lustres pour their trembling rays,141
And the bright vault returns the mingled blaze.
2. "HENCE orient NITRE owes it's sparkling birth,75
And with prismatic crystals gems the earth,
O'er tottering domes in filmy foliage crawls,145
Or frosts with branching plumes the mouldering walls.
[Page 74]As woos Azotic Gas the virgin Air,
And veils in crimson clouds the yielding Fair,
Indignant Fire the treacherous courtship flies,
Waves his light wing, and mingles with the skies.150
"So Beauty's GODDESS, warm with new desire,
Left, on her silver wheels, the GOD of Fire;
Her faithless charms to fiercer MARS resign'd,
Met with fond lips, with wanton arms intwin'd.
—Indignant VULCAN eyed the parting Fair,155
And watch'd with jealous step the guilty pair;
O'er his broad neck a wiry net he flung,
Quick as he strode, the tinkling meshes rung;
Fine as the spider's flimsy thread He wove
The immortal toil to lime illicit love; 160
Steel were the knots, and steel the twisted thong,
Ring link'd in ring, indissolubly strong;
On viewless hooks along the fretted roof
He hung, unseen, the inextricable woof.—
[Page 75]—Quick start the springs, the webs pellucid spread,165
And lock the embracing Lovers on their bed;
Fierce with loud taunts vindictive VULCAN springs,
Tries all the bolts, and tightens all the strings,
Shakes with incessant shouts the bright abodes,
Claps his rude hands, and calls the festive Gods.— 170
—With spreading palms the alarmed Goddess tries
To veil her beauties from celestial eyes,
Writhes her fair limbs, the slender ringlets strains,
And bids her Loves untie the obdurate chains;
Soft swells her panting bosom, as she turns,175
And her flush'd cheek with brighter blushes burns.
Majestic grief the Queen of Heaven avows,
And chaste Minerva hides her helmed brows;
Attendant Nymphs with bashful eyes askance
Steal of intangled MARS a transient glance; 180
Surrounding Gods the circling nectar quaff,
Gaze on the Fair, and envy as they laugh.
III. "HENCE dusky IRON sleeps in dark abodes,76
And ferny foliage nestles in the nodes;
Till with wide lungs the panting bellows blow,185
And waked by fire the glittering torrents flow;
[Page 77]—Quick whirls the wheel, the ponderous hammer falls,
Loud anvils ring amid the trembling walls,
Strokes follow strokes, the sparkling ingot shines,
Flows the red slag, the lengthening bar refines; 190
Cold waves, immersed, the glowing mass congeal,
And turn to adamant the hissing Steel.77
"Last MICHELL's hands with touch of potent charm78
The polish'd rods with powers magnetic arm;
[Page 78]With points directed to the polar stars 195
In one long line extend the temper'd bars;
[Page 79]Then thrice and thrice with steady eye he guides,
And o'er the adhesive train the magnet slides;
The obedient Steel with living instinct moves,
And veers for ever to the pole it loves.200
"Hail, adamantine STEEL! magnetic Lord!
King of the prow, the plowshare, and the sword!
True to the pole, by thee the pilot guides
His steady helm amid the struggling tides,
Braves with broad sail the immeasurable sea,205
Cleaves the dark air, and asks no star but Thee.—
By thee the plowshare rends the matted plain,
Inhumes in level rows the living grain;
Intrusive forests quit the cultured ground,
And Ceres laughs with golden fillets crown'd.— 210
O'er restless realms when scowling Discord flings
Her snakes, and loud the din of battle rings;
Expiring Strength, and vanquish'd Courage feel
Thy arm resistless, adamantine STEEL!
IV. "HENCE in fine streams diffusive ACIDS flow,79
Or wing'd with fire o'er Earth's fair bosom blow; 216
Transmute to glittering Flints her chalky lands,
Or sink on Ocean's bed in countless Sands.
Hence silvery Selenite her chrystal moulds,
And soft Asbestus smooths his silky folds; 220
His cubic forms phosphoric Fluor prints,
Or rays in spheres his amethystine tints.
Soft cobweb clouds transparent Onyx spreads,
And playful Agates weave their colour'd threads;
Gay pictured Mochoes glow with landscape-dyes,225
And changeful Opals roll their lucid eyes;
Blue lambent light around the Sapphire plays,
Bright Rubies blush, and living Diamonds blaze.80
"Thus, for attractive earth, inconstant JOVE81
Mask'd in new shapes forsook his realms above.— 230
[Page 82]First her sweet eyes his Eagle-form beguiles,
And HEBE feeds him with ambrosial smiles;
Next the chang'd God a Cygnet's down assumes,
And playful LEDA smooths his glossy plumes;
Then glides a silver Serpent, treacherous guest!235
And fair OLYMPIA folds him in her breast;
Now lows a milk-white Bull on Afric's strand,
And crops with dancing head the daisy'd land.—
With rosy wreathes EUROPA's hand adorns
His fringed forehead, and his pearly horns; 240
Light on his back the sportive Damsel bounds,
And pleased he moves along the flowery grounds;
Bears with slow step his beauteous prize aloof,
Dips in the lucid flood his ivory hoof;
Then wets his velvet knees, and wading laves 245
His silky sides amid the dimpling waves.
[Page 83]While her fond train with beckoning hands deplore,
Strain their blue eyes, and shriek along the shore;
Beneath her robe she draws her snowy feet,
And, half-reclining on her ermine seat,250
Round his raised neck her radiant arms she throws,
And rests her fair cheek on his curled brows;
Her yellow tresses wave on wanton gales,
And high in air her azure mantle sails.
—Onward He moves, applauding Cupids guide,255
And skim on shooting wing the shining tide;
Emerging Triton's leave their coral caves,
Sound their loud conchs, and smooth the circling waves,
Surround the timorous Beauty, as she swims,
And gaze enamour'd on her silver limbs.260
—Now Europe's shadowy shores with loud acclaim
Hail the fair fugitive, and shout her name;
Soft echoes warble, whispering forests nod,
And conscious Nature owns the present God.
—Changed from the Bull, the rapturous God assumes
Immortal youth, with glow celestial blooms,266
[Page 84]With lenient words her virgin fears disarms,
And clasps the yielding Beauty in his arms;
Whence Kings and Heroes own illustrious birth,
Guards of mankind, and demigods on earth.270
VI. "GNOMES! as you pass'd beneath the labouring soil,
The guards and guides of Nature's chemic toil,
YOU saw, deep-sepulchred in dusky realms,
Which Earth's rock-ribbed ponderous vault o'erwhelms,
With self-born fires the mass fermenting glow,82 275
And flame-wing'd sulphurs quit the earths below.
I. "HENCE ductile CLAYS in wide expansion spread,83
Soft as the Cygnet's down, their snow-white bed;
[Page 85]With yielding flakes successive forms reveal,
And change obedient to the whirling wheel.280
—First CHINA's sons, with early art elate,
Form'd the gay tea-pot, and the pictured plate;
Saw with illumin'd brow and dazzled eyes84
In the red stove vitrescent colours rise;
Speck'd her tall beakers with enamel'd stars,285
Her monster-josses, and gigantic jars;
Smear'd her huge dragons with metallic hues,
With golden purples, and cobaltic blues;85
Bade on wide hills her porcelain castles glare,
And glazed Pagodas tremble in the air.290
"ETRURIA! next beneath thy magic hands86
Glides the quick wheel, the plaistic clay expands,
[Page 86]Nerved with fine touch, thy fingers (as it turns)
Mark the nice bounds of vases, ewers, and urns;
Round each fair form in lines immortal trace 295
Uncopied Beauty, and ideal Grace.
"GNOMES! as you now dissect with hammers fine
The granite-rock, the nodul'd flint calcine;
Grind with strong arm, the circling chertz betwixt,
Your pure Ka-o-lins and Pe-tun-tses mixt; 300
O'er each red saggars burning cave preside,
The keen-eyed Fire-Nymphs blazing by your side;[Page]

Copied from Capt Phillip's Voyage to Botany Bay, by permission of the proprietor.


[Page 87]And pleased on WEDGWOOD ray your partial smile,
A new Etruria decks Britannia's isle.—
Charm'd by your touch, the flint liquescent pours 305
Through finer sieves, and falls in whiter showers;
Charm'd by your touch, the kneaded clay refines,
The biscuit hardens, the enamel shines;
Each nicer mould a softer feature drinks,
The bold Cameo speaks, the soft Intaglio thinks.310
"To call the pearly drops from Pity's eye,
Or stay Despair's disanimating sigh,
Whether, O Friend of art! the gem you mould
Rich with new taste, with antient virtue bold;
Form the poor fetter'd SLAVE on bended knee87 315
From Britain's sons imploring to be free;
[Page 88]Or with fair HOPE the brightening scenes improve,
And cheer the dreary wastes at Sydney-cove;
Or bid Mortality rejoice and mourn
O'er the fine forms on PORTLAND's mystic urn.—88 320
"Here by fall'n columns and disjoin'd arcades,
On mouldering stones, beneath deciduous shades,
Sits HUMANKIND in hieroglyphic state,
Serious, and pondering on their changeful state;
While with inverted torch, and swimming eyes,325
Sinks the fair shade of MORTAL LIFE, and dies.
There the pale GHOST through Death's wide portal bends
His timid feet, the dusky steep descends;
With smiles assuasive LOVE DIVINE invites,
Guides on broad wing, with torch uplifted lights; 330
IMMORTAL LIFE, her hand extending, courts
The lingering form, his tottering step supports;
[Page 89]Leads on to Pluto's realms the dreary way,
And gives him trembling to Elysian day.
Beneath, in sacred robes the PRIESTESS dress'd,335
The coif close-hooded, and the fluttering vest,
With pointing finger guides the initiate youth,
Unweaves the many-colour'd veil of Truth,
Drives the profane from Mystery's bolted door,
And Silence guards the Eleusinian lore.— 340
"Whether, O Friend of Art! your gems derive
Fine forms from Greece, and fabled Gods revive;89
Or bid from modern life the Portrait breathe,
And bind round Honour's brow the laurel wreath;
Buoyant shall sail, with Fame's historic page,345
Each fair medallion o'er the wrecks of age;
[Page 90]Nor Time shall mar; nor steel, nor fire, nor fire, nor rust
Touch the hard polish of the immortal bust.
2. "HENCE sable COAL his massy couch extends,90
And stars of gold the sparkling Pyrite blends; 350
Hence dull-eyed Naphtha pours his pitchy streams,
And Jet uncolour'd drinks the solar beams,
Bright Amber shines on his electric throne,91
And adds ethereal lustres to his own.
—Led by the phosphor-light, with daring tread 355
Immortal FRANKLIN sought the fiery bed;92
[Page 91]Where, nursed in night, incumbent Tempest shrouds
The seeds of Thunder in circumfluent clouds,
Besieged with iron points his airy cell,
And pierced the monster slumbering in the shell.360
"So, born on sounding pinions to the WEST,
When Tyrant-Power had built his eagle nest;
While from his eyry shriek'd the famish'd brood,
Clenched their sharp claws, and champ'd their beaks for blood,
Immortal FRANKLIN watch'd the callow crew,365
And stabb'd the struggling Vampires, ere they flew.
—The patriot-flame with quick contagion ran,
Hill lighted hill, and man electrised man;
Her heroes slain awhile COLUMBIA mourn'd,
And crown'd with laurels LIBERTY return'd.370
"The Warrior, LIBERTY, with bending sails
Helm'd his bold course to fair HIBERNIA's vales;—
Firm as he steps, along the shouting lands,
Lo! Truth and Virtue range their radiant bands;
[Page 92]Sad Superstition wails her empire torn,375
Art plies his oar, and Commerce pours her horn.
"Long had the Giant-form on GALLIA's plains
Inglorious slept, unconscious of his chains;
Round his large limbs were wound a thousand strings
By the weak hands of Confessors and Kings; 380
O're his closed eyes a triple veil was bound,
And steely rivets lock'd him to the ground;
While stern Bastile with iron cage inthralls93
His folded limbs, and hems in marble walls.
—Touch'd by the patriot-flame, he rent amazed 385
The flimsy bonds, and round and round him gazed;
[Page 93]Starts up from earth, above the admiring throng
Lifts his Colossal form, and towers along;
High o'er his foes his hundred arms He rears,
Plowshares his swords, and pruning hooks his spears; 390
Calls to the Good and Brave with voice, that rolls
Like Heaven's own thunder round the echoing poles;
Gives to the winds his banner broad unfurl'd,
And gathers in its shade the living world!
VII. "GNOMES! YOU then taught volcanic airs to force
Through bubbling Lavas their resistless course,396
O'er the broad walls of rifted Granite climb,
And pierce the rent roof of incumbent Lime,94
[Page 94]Round sparry caves metallic lustres fling,
And bear phlogiston on their tepid wing.400
"HENCE glows, refulgent Tin! thy chrystal grains,
And tawny Copper shoots her azure veins;
Zinc lines his fretted vault with sable ore,
And dull Galena tessellates the floor;
On vermil beds in Idria's mighty caves 405
The living Silver rolls its ponderous waves;
With gay refractions bright Platina shines,
And studs with squander'd stars his dusky mines;
Long threads of netted gold, and silvery darts,
Inlay the Lazuli, and pierce the Quartz;— 410
—Whence roof'd with silver beam'd PERU, of old,
And hapless MEXICO was paved with gold.
"Heavens! on my sight what sanguine colours blaze!
Spain's deathless shame! the crimes of modern days!
When Avarice, shrouded in Religion's robe,415
Sail'd to the West, and slaughter'd half the globe;
While Superstition, stalking by his side,
Mock'd the loud groans, and lap'd the bloody tide;
[Page 96]For sacred truths announced her frenzied dreams,
And turn'd to night the sun's meridian beams.— 420
Hear, oh, BRITANNIA! potent Queen of isles,
On whom fair Art, and meek Religion smiles,
Now AFRIC's coasts thy craftier sons invade
With murder, rapine, theft,—and call it Trade!
—The SLAVE, in chains, on supplicating knee,425
Spreads his wide arms, and lifts his eyes to Thee;
With hunger pale, with wounds and toil oppress'd,
"ARE WE NOT BRETHREN?" sorrow choaks the rest;—
—AIR! bear to heaven upon thy azure flood
Their innocent cries!—EARTH! cover not their blood!
VIII. "When Heaven's dread justice smites in crimes o'ergrown 431
The blood-nursed Tyrant on his purple throne,
GNOMES! YOUR bold forms unnumber'd arms outstretch,
And urge the vengeance o'er the guilty wretch.—
[Page 97]Thus when CAMBYSES led his barbarous hosts95 435
From Persia's rocks to Egypt's trembling coasts,
Defiled each hallowed fane, and sacred wood,
And, drunk with fury, swell'd the Nile with blood;
Waved his proud banner o'er the Theban states,
And pour'd destruction through her hundred gates; 440
In dread divisions march'd the marshal'd bands,
And swarming armies blacken'd all the lands,
By Memphis these to ETHIOP's sultry plains,
And those to HAMMON's sand-incircled fanes.—
Slow as they pass'd, the indignant temples frown'd,445
Low curses muttering from the vaulted ground;
Long ailes of Cypress waved their deepen'd glooms,
And quivering spectres grinn'd amid the tombs;
Prophetic whispers breathed from SPHINX's tongue,
And MEMNON's lyre with hollow murmurs rung; 450
[Page 98]Burst from each pyramid expiring groans,
And darker shadows stretch'd their lengthen'd cones.—
Day after day their deathful rout They steer,
Lust in the van, and rapine in the rear.
"GNOMES! as they march'd, You hid the gather'd fruits,
The bladed grass, sweet grains, and mealy roots; 456
Scared the tired quails, that journey'd o'er their heads,
Retain'd the locusts in their earthy beds;
Bade on your sands no night-born dews distil,
Stay'd with vindictive hands the scanty rill.— 460
Loud o'er the camp the Fiend of Famine shrieks,
Calls all her brood, and champs her hundred beaks;
O'er ten square leagues her pennons broad expand,
And twilight swims upon the shuddering sand;
Perch'd on her crest the Griffin Discord clings,465
And Giant Murder rides between her wings;
Blood from each clotted hair, and horny quill,
And showers of tears in blended streams distil;
[Page 99]High-poised in air her spiry neck she bends,
Rolls her keen eye, her Dragon-claws extends,470
Darts from above, and tears at each fell swoop
With iron fangs the decimated troop.
"Now o'er their head the whizzing whirlwinds breathe,
And the live desert pants, and heaves beneath;
Tinged by the crimson sun, vast columns rise 475
Of eddying sands, and war amid the skies,
In red arcades the billowy plain surround,
And stalking turrets dance upon the ground.96
—Long ranks in vain their shining blades extend,
To Demon-Gods their knees unhallow'd bend,480
Wheel in wide circle, form in hollow square,
And now they front, and now they fly the war,
[Page 100]Pierce the deaf tempest with lamenting cries,
Press their parch'd lips, and close their blood-shot eyes.
—GNOMES! o'er the waste YOU led your myriad powers,
Climb'd on the whirls, and aim'd the flinty showers!— 486
Onward resistless rolls the infuriate surge,
Clouds follow clouds, and mountains mountains urge;
Wave over wave the driving desert swims,
Bursts o'er their heads, inhumes their struggling limbs;
[Page 101]Man mounts on man, on camels camels rush,491
Hosts march o'er hosts, and nations nations crush,—
Wheeling in air the winged islands fall,
And one great earthy Ocean covers all!—
Then ceased the storm,—NIGHT bow'd his Ethiop brow
To earth, and listen'd to the groans below,— 496
Grim HORROR shook,—awhile the living hill
Heaved with convulsive throes,—and all was still!
IX. "GNOMES! whose fine forms, impassive as the air,
Shrink with soft sympathy for human care; 500
Who glide unseen, on printless slippers borne,
Beneath the waving grass, and nodding corn;
Or lay your tiny limbs, when noon-tide warms,
Where shadowy cowslips stretch their golden arms,—
So mark'd on orreries in lucid signs,97 505
Star'd with bright points the mimic zodiac shines;
[Page 102]Borne on fine wires amid the pictured skies
With ivory orbs the planets set and rise;
Round the dwarf earth the pearly moon is roll'd,
And the sun twinkling whirls his rays of gold.— 510
Call your bright myriads, march your mailed hosts,
With spears and helmets glittering round the coasts;
Thick as the hairs, which rear the Lion's mane,
Or fringe the Boar, that bays the hunter-train;
Watch, where proud Surges break their treacherous mounds,
And sweep resistless o'er the cultured grounds; 516
Such as erewhile, impell'd o'er Belgia's plain,
Roll'd her rich ruins to the insatiate main;
With piles and piers the ruffian waves engage,
And bid indignant Ocean stay his rage.520
"Where, girt with clouds, the rifted mountain yawns,
And chills with length of shade the gelid lawns,
[Page 103]Climb the rude steeps, the granite-cliffs surround,98
Pierce with steel points, with wooden wedges wound;99
Break into clays the soft volcanic slaggs,525
Or melt with acid airs the marble craggs;
Crown the green summits with adventurous flocks,
And charm with novel flowers the wondering rocks.
—So when proud Rome the Afric Warrior braved,
And high on Alps his crimson banner waved; 530
While rocks on rocks their beetling brows oppose
With piny forests, and unfathomed snows;
[Page 104]Onward he march'd, to Latium's velvet ground
With fires and acids burst the obdurate bound,100
Wide o'er her weeping vales destruction hurl'd,540
And shook the rising empire of the world.
X. "Go, gentle GNOMES! resume your vernal toil,
Seek my chill tribes, which sleep beneath the soil;
On grey-moss banks, green meads, or furrow'd lands
Spread the dark mould, white lime, and crumbling sands;
Each bursting bud with healthier juices feed,546
Emerging scion, or awaken'd seed.
So, in descending streams, the silver Chyle
Streaks with white clouds the golden floods of bile;
[Page 105]Through each nice valve the mingling currents glide,555
Join their fine rills, and swell the sanguine tide;
Each countless cell, and viewless fibre seek,
Nerve the strong arm, and tinge the blushing cheek.
"Oh, watch, where bosom'd in the teeming earth,
Green swells the germ, impatient for its birth; 560
Guard from rapacious worms its tender shoots,
And drive the mining beetle from its roots;
With ceaseless efforts rend the obdurate clay,
And give my vegetable babes to day!
—Thus when an Angel-form, in light array'd,565
Like HOWARD pierced the prison's noisome shade;
Where chain'd to earth, with eyes to heaven upturn'd,
The kneeling Saint in holy anguish mourn'd;—
Ray'd from his lucid vest, and halo'd brow
O'er the dark roof celestial lustres glow,570
"PETER, arise!" with cheering voice He calls,
And sounds seraphic echo round the walls;
[Page 106]Locks, bolts, and chains his potent touch obey,
And pleased he leads the dazzled Sage to day.
XI. "YOU! whose fine fingers fill the organic cells,
With virgin earth, of woods and bones and shells; 576
Mould with retractile glue their spongy beds,101
And stretch and strengthen all their fibre-threads.—
Late when the mass obeys its changeful doom,
And sinks to earth, its cradle and its tomb,580
GNOMES! with nice eye the slow solution watch,
With fostering hand the parting atoms catch,
[Page 107]Join in new forms, combine with life and sense,
And guide and guard the transmigrating Ens.102
"So when on Lebanon's sequester'd hight 585
The fair ADONIS left the realms of light,103
[Page 108]Bow'd his bright locks, and, fated from his birth
To change eternal, mingled with the earth;—
With darker horror shook the conscious wood,
Groan'd the sad gales, and rivers blush'd with blood;
On cypress-boughs the Loves their quivers hung,591
Their arrows scatter'd, and their bows unstrung;
And BEAUTY's GODDESS, bending o'er his bier,
Breathed the soft sigh, and pour'd the tender tear.—
Admiring PROSERPINE through dusky glades 595
Led the fair phantom to Elysian shades,
Clad with new form, with finer sense combined,
And lit with purer flame the ethereal mind.
[Page 109]—Erewhile, emerging from infernal night,
The bright Assurgent rises into light,600
Leaves the drear chambers of the insatiate tomb,
And shines and charms with renovated bloom.—
While wondering Loves the bursting grave surround,
And edge with meeting wings the yawning ground,
Stretch their fair necks, and leaning o'er the brink 605
View the pale regions of the dead, and shrink;
Long with broad eyes ecstatic BEAUTY stands,
Heaves her white bosom, spreads her waxen hands;
Then with loud shriek the panting Youth alarms,
"My Life! my Love! and springs into his arms."610
The GODDESS ceased,—the delegated throng
O'er the wide plains delighted rush along;
In dusky squadrons, and in shining groups,
Hosts follow hosts, and troops succeed to troops;
Scarce bears the bending grass the moving freight,615
And nodding florets bow beneath their weight.
[Page 110] So when light clouds on airy pinions sail,
Flit the soft shadows o'er the waving vale;
Shade follows shade, as laughing Zephyrs drive,104
And all the chequer'd landscape seems alive.620

Argument of the Third Canto.

ADDRESS to the Nymphs. I. Steam rises from the ocean, floats in clouds, descends in rain and dew, or is condensed on hills, produces springs, and rivers, and returns to the sea. So the blood circulates through the body and returns to the heart. 11. II. 1. Tides, 57. 2. Echinus, nautilus, pinna, cancer. Grotto of a mermaid. 65. 3. Oil stills the waves. Coral rocks. Ship-worm, or Teredo. Maelstrome, a whirlpool on the coast of Norway. 85. III. Rivers from beneath the snows on the Alps. The Tibber. 103. IV. Overflowing of the Nile from African Monsoons, 129. V. 1. Giesar, a boiling fountain in Iceland, destroyed by inundation, and consequent earthquake, 145. 2. Warm medicinal springs. Buxton. Duke and Dutchess of Devonshire. 157. VI. Combination of vital air and inflammable gas produces water. Which is another source of springs and rivers. Allegorical loves of Jupiter and Juno productive of vernal showers. 201. VII. Aquatic Taste. Distant murmur of the sea by night. Sea-horse. Nereid singing. 261. VIII. The Nymphs of the river Derwent lament the death of Mrs. French, 297. IX. Inland navigation. Monument for Mr. Brindley, 321. X. Pumps explained. Child sucking. Mothers exhorted to nurse their children. Cherub sleeping. 345. XI. Engines for extinguishing fire. Story of two lovers perish­ing in the flames. 377. XII. Charities of Miss Jones, 427. [Page 112] XIII. Marshes drained. Hercules conquers Achilous. The horn of Plenty. 463. XIV. Showers. Dews. Floating lands with water. Lacteal system in animals. Caravan drinking. 509. Departure of the Nymphs like water spiders; like northern nations skaiting on the ice. 549.


AGAIN the GODDESS speaks!—glad Echo swells
The tuneful tones along her shadowy dells,
Her wrinkling founts with soft vibration shakes,
Curls her deep wells, and rimples all her lakes,
Thrills each wide stream, Britannia's isle that laves,5
Her headlong cataracts, and circumfluent waves.
[Page 114]—Thick as the dews, which deck the morning flowers,
Or rain-drops twinkling in the sun-bright showers,
Fair Nymphs, emerging in pellucid bands,
Rise, as she turns, and whiten all the lands.10
I. "YOUR buoyant troops on dimpling ocean tread,
Wafting the moist air from his oozy bed,
AQUATIC NYMPHS!—YOU lead with viewless march
The winged vapours up the aerial arch,105
On each broad cloud a thousand sails expand,106 15
And steer the shadowy treasure o'er the land,
[Page 115]Through vernal skies the gathering drops diffuse,
Plunge in soft rains, or sink in silver dews.—107
[Page 116]YOUR lucid bands condense with fingers chill
The blue mist hovering round the gelid hill;108 109 20
In clay-form'd beds the trickling streams collect,
Strain through white sands, through pebbly veins direct;
Or point in rifted rocks their dubious way,
And in each bubbling fountain rise to day.
"NYMPHS! YOU then guide, attendant from their source,
The associate rills along their sinuous course; 26
Float in bright squadrons by the willowy brink,
Or circling slow in limpid eddies sink;
Call from her crystal cave the Naiad-Nymph,
Who hides her fine form in the passing lymph,30
And, as below she braids her hyaline hair,
Eyes her soft smiles reflected in the air;
Or sport in groups with River-Boys, that lave
Their silken limbs amid the dashing wave;
Pluck the pale primrose bending from its edge,35
Or tittering dance amid the whispering sedge.—
"Onward you pass, the pine-capt hills divide,
Or feed the golden harvests on their side;
The wide-ribb'd arch with hurrying torrents fill,
Shove the slow barge, or whirl the foaming mill.40
OR lead with beckoning hand the sparkling train
Of refluent water to its parent main,
[Page 118]And pleased revisit in their sea-moss vales
Blue Nereid-forms array'd in shining scales,
Shapes, whose broad oar the torpid wave impels,45
And Tritons bellowing through their twisted shells.
"So from the heart the sanguine stream distils,
O'er Beauty's radiant shrine in vermil rills,
Feeds each fine nerve, each slender hair pervades,
The skins bright snow with living purple shades,50
Each dimpling cheek with warmer blushes dyes,
Laughs on the lips, and lightens in the eyes.
—Erewhile absorb'd, the vagrant globules swim
From each fair feature, and proportion'd limb,
Join'd in one trunk with deeper tint return 55
To the warm concave of the vital urn.
II. I. "AQUATIC MAIDS! YOU sway the mighty realms
Of scale and shell, which Ocean overwhelms;
As Night's pale Queen her rising orb reveals,
And climbs the zenith with refulgent wheels,60
[Page 119]Car'd on the foam your glimmering legion rides,110
Your little tridents heave the dashing tides,
Urge on the sounding shores their crystal course,
Restrain their fury, or direct their force.
2. "NYMPHS! YOU Adorn, in glossy volumes roll'd,
The gaudy conch with azure, green, and gold.111 66
YOU round Echinus ray his arrowy mail,112
Give the keel'd Nautilus his oar and sail;
[Page 121]Firm to his rock with silver cords suspend
The anchor'd Pinna, and his Cancer-friend;113 70
With worm-like beard his toothless lips array,114
And teach the unwieldy Sturgeon to betray.—
Ambush'd in weeds, or sepulcher'd in sands,
In dread repose He waits the scaly bands,
Waves in red spires the living lures, and draws 75
The unwary plunderers to his circling jaws,
Eyes with grim joy the twinkling shoals beset,
And clasps the quick inextricable net.
YOU chase the warrior Shark, and cumberous Whale,
And guard the Mermaid in her briny vale; 80
Feed the live petals of her insect-flowers,115
Her shell-wrack gardens, and her sea-fan bowers;
[Page 122]With ores and gems adorn her coral cell,
And drop a pearl in every gaping shell.116
3. "YOUR myriad trains o'er stagnant ocean's tow,
Harness'd with gossamer, the loitering prow; 86
Or with fine films, suspended o'er the deep,117
Of oil effusive lull the waves to sleep.
YOU stay the flying bark, conceal'd beneath,
Where living rocks of worm-built coral breathe;118 90
[Page 123]Meet fell TEREDO, as he mines the keel119
With beaked head, and break his lips of steel;
Turn the broad helm, the fluttering canvas urge120
From MAELSTROME's fierce innavigable surge.
—'Mid the lorn isles of Norway's stormy main,95
As sweeps o'er many a league his eddying train,
Vast watery walls in rapid circles spin,
And deep-ingulph'd the Demon dwells within;
Springs o'er the fear-froze crew with Harpy-claws,
Down his deep den the whirling vessel draws; 100
Churns with his bloody mouth the dread repast,
The booming waters murmuring o'er the mast.
III. "Where with chill frown enormous ALPS alarms
A thousand realms, horizon'd in his arms;
While cloudless suns meridian glories shed 105
From skies of silver round his hoary head,
Tall rocks of ice refract the coloured rays,
And Frost sits throned amid the lambent blaze;
NYMPHS! YOUR thin forms pervade his glittering piles,
His roofs of chrystal, and his glassy ailes; 110
Where in cold caves imprisoned Naiads sleep,
Or chain'd on mossy couches wake and weep;
Where round dark crags indignant waters bend121
Through rifted ice, in ivory veins descend,
Seek through unfathom'd snows their devious track,115
Heave the vast spars, the ribbed granites crack,122
[Page 125]Rush into day, in foamy torrents shine,
And swell the imperial Danube or the Rhine.—
—Or feed the murmuring TIBER, as he laves
His realms inglorious with diminish'd waves,120
Hears his lorn Forum sound with Eunuch-strains,
Sees dancing slaves insult his martial plains;
[Page 126]Parts with chill stream the dim religious bower,
Time-mouldered bastion, and dismantled tower;
By alter'd fanes and nameless villas glides,125
And classic domes, that tremble on his sides;
Sighs o'er each broken urn, and yawning tomb,
And mourns the fall of LIBERTY and ROME.
IV. "Sailing in air, when dark MONSOON inshrouds123
His tropic mountains in a night of clouds; 130
Or drawn by whirlwinds from the Line returns,
And showers o'er Afric all his thousand urns;[Page]

Fertilization of Egypt

London Publish'd Decr. 1st. 1791. by J. Johnson. St. Pauls Church Yard.

[Page 127]High o'er his head the beams of SIRIUS glow,
And, Dog of Nile, ANUBIS barks below.
NYMPHS! YOU from cliff to cliff attendant guide 135
In headlong cataracts the impetuous tide;
Or lead o'er wastes of Abyssinian sands
The bright expanse to EGYPT's shower-less lands.124
—Her long canals the sacred waters fill,
And edge with silver every peopled hill; 140
[Page 128]Gigantic SPHINX in circling waves admire,
And MEMNON bending o'er his broken lyre;
O'er furrow'd glebes and green savannas sweep,
And towns and temples laugh amid the deep.
V. I. "High in the frozen North where HECCLA glows,
And melts in torrents his coeval snows; 146
O'er isles and oceans sheds a sanguine light,
Or shoots red stars amid the ebon night;
When, at his base intomb'd, with bellowing sound
Fell GIESAR roar'd, and struggling shook the ground;125 150
[Page 129]Pour'd from red nostrils, with her scalding breath,
A boiling deluge o'er the blasted heath;
And, wide in air, in misty volumes hurl'd
Contagious atoms o'er the alarmed world;
NYMPHS! YOUR bold myriads broke the infernal spell,155
And crush'd the Sorceress in her flinty cell.
2. "Where with soft fires in unextinguish'd urns,
Cauldron'd in rock, innocuous Lava burns;
On the bright lake YOUR gelid hands distil
In pearly showers the parsimonious rill; 160
And, as aloft the curling vapours rise
Through the cleft roof, ambitious for the skies,
In vaulted hills condense the tepid steams,
And pour to HEALTH the medicated streams.
—So in green vales amid her mountains bleak 165
BUXTONIA smiles, the Goddess-Nymyh of Peak;126
[Page 130]Deep in warm waves, and pebbly baths she dwells,
And calls HYGEIA to her sainted wells.
"Hither in sportive bands bright DEVON leads
Graces and Loves from Chatsworth's flowery meads.— 170
Charm'd round the NYMPH, they climb the rifted rocks;
And steep in mountain-mist their golden locks;
On venturous step her sparry caves explore,
And light with radiant eyes her realms of ore;
—Oft by her bubbling founts, and shadowy domes,175
In gay undress the fairy legion roams,
Their dripping palms in playful malice fill,
Or taste with ruby lip the sparkling rill;
Croud round her baths, and, bending o'er the side,
Unclasp'd their sandals, and their zones untied,180
Dip with gay fear the shuddering foot undress'd,
And quick retract it to the fringed vest;
[Page 131]Or cleave with brandish'd arms the lucid stream,
And sob, their blue eyes twinkling in the steam.127
—High o'er the chequer'd vault with transient glow 185
Bright lustres dart, as dash the waves below;
And Echo's sweet responsive voice prolongs
The dulcet tumult of their silver tongues.—
O'er their flush'd cheeks uncurling tresses flow,
And dew-drops glitter on their necks of snow; 190
Round each fair Nymph her dropping mantle clings,
And Loves emerging shake their showery wings.
[Page 132]Here oft her LORD surveys the rude domain,128
Fair arts of Greece triumphant in his train;
Lo! as he steps, the column'd pile ascends,195
The blue roof closes, or the crescent bends;
New woods aspiring clothe their hills with green,
Smooth slope the lawns, the grey rock peeps between;
Relenting Nature gives her hand to Taste,
And Health and Beauty crown the laughing waste.200
VI. "NYMPHS! YOUR bright squadrons watch with chemic eyes
The cold-elastic vapours, as they rise;
With playful force arrest them as they pass,
And to pure AIR betroth the flaming GAS.129
[Page 133]Round their translucent forms at once they fling 205
Their rapturous arms, with silver bosoms cling;
In fleecy clouds their fluttering wings extend,
Or from the skies in lucid showers descend;
Whence rills and rivers owe their secret birth,
And Ocean's hundred arms infold the earth.210
"So, robed by Beauty's Queen, with softer charms
SATURNIA woo'd the Thunderer to her arms;
O'er her fair limbs a veil of light she spread,
And bound a starry diadem on her head;
[Page 134]Long braids of pearl her golden tresses grac'd,215
And the charm'd CESTUS sparkled round her waist.
—Raised o'er the woof, by Beauty's hand inwrought,
Breathes the soft Sigh, and glows the enamour'd Thought;
Vows on light wings succeed, and quiver'd Wiles,
Assuasive Accents, and seductive Smiles.220
—Slow rolls the Cyprian car in purple pride,
And, steer'd by LOVE, ascends admiring Ide;130
Climbs the green slopes, the nodding woods pervades,
Burns round the rocks, or gleams amid the shades.—
Glad ZEPHYR leads the train, and waves above 225
The barbed darts, and blazing torch of Love;
Reverts his smiling face, and pausing flings
Soft showers of roses from aurelian wings.
Delighted Fawns, in wreathes of flowers array'd,
With tiptoe Wood-Boys beat the chequer'd glade; 230
[Page 135]Alarmed Naiads, rising into air,
Lift o'er their silver urns their leafy hair;
Each to her oak the bashful Dryads shrink,
And azure eyes are seen through every chink.
—LOVE culls a flaming shaft of broadest wing,235
And rests the fork upon the quivering string;
Points his arch eye aloft, with fingers strong
Draws to his curled ear the silken thong;
Loud twangs the steel, the golden arrow flies,
Trails a long line of lustre through the skies; 240
"Tis done!" he shouts, "the mighty Monarch feels!"
And with loud laughter shakes the silver wheels;
Bends o'er the car, and whirling, as it moves,
His loosen'd bowstring, drives the rising doves.
—Pierced on his throne the starting Thunderer turns,245
Melts with soft sighs, with kindling rapture burns;
Clasps her fair hand, and eyes in fond amaze
The bright Intruder with enamour'd gaze.
"And leaves my Goddess, like a blooming bride,
"The fanes of Argos for the rocks of Ide?250
[Page 136]"Her gorgeous palaces, and amaranth bowers,
"For cliff-top'd mountains, and aerial towers?
He said; and, leading from her ivory seat
The blushing Beauty to his lone retreat,
Curtain'd with night the couch imperial shrouds,255
And rests the crimson cushions upon clouds.—
Earth feels the grateful influence from above,
Sighs the soft Air, and Ocean murmurs love;
Etherial Warmth expands his brooding wing,
And in still showers descends the genial Spring.131 260
VII. "NYMPHS OF AQUATIC TASTE! whose placid smile
Breathes sweet enchantment o'er BRITANNIA's isle;
Whose sportive touch in showers resplendent flings
Her lucid cataracts, and her bubbling springs;
Through peopled vales the liquid silver guides,265
And swells in bright expanse her freighted tides.
[Page 137]YOU with nice ear, in tiptoe trains, pervade
Dim walks of morn or evening's silent shade;
Join the lone Nightingale, her woods among,
And roll your rills symphonious to her song; 270
Through fount-full dells, and wave-worn valleys move,
And tune their echoing waterfalls to love;
Or catch, attentive to the distant roar,
The pausing murmurs of the dashing shore;
Or, as aloud she pours her liquid strain,275
Pursue the NEREID on the twilight main.
—Her playful Sea-horse woos her soft commands,132
Turns his quick ears, his webbed claws expands,
[Page 138]His watery way with waving volutes wins,
Or listening librates on unmoving fins.280
The Nymph emerging mounts her scaly seat,
Hangs o'er his glossy sides her silver feet,
With snow-white hands her arching veil detains,
Gives to his slimy lips the slacken'd reins,
Lifts to the star of Eve her eye serene,285
And chaunts the birth of Beauty's radiant Queen.—
O'er her fair brow her pearly comb unfurls
Her beryl locks, and parts the waving curls,
Each tangled braid with glistening teeth unbinds
And with the floating treasure musks the winds.— 290
Thrill'd by the dulcet accents, as she sings,
The rippling wave in widening circles rings;
Night's shadowy forms along the margin gleam
With pointed ears, or dance upon the stream;
The Moon transported stays her bright career,300
And maddening Stars shoot headlong from the sphere.
VIII. "NYMPHS! whose fair eyes with vivid lustres glow
For human weal, and melt at human woe;
Late as YOU floated on your silver shells,
Sorrowing and slow by DERWENT's willowy dells; 300
Where by tall groves his foamy flood he steers
Through ponderous arches o'er impetuous wears,
By DERBY's shadowy towers reflective sweeps,
And gothic grandeur chills his dusky deeps;
You pearl'd with Pity's drops his velvet sides,305
Sigh'd in his gales, and murmur'd in his tides,
Waved o'er his fringed brink a deeper gloom,
And bow'd his alders o'er MILCENA's tomb.133
"Oft with sweet voice She led her infant-train,
Printing with graceful step his spangled plain,310
Explored his twinkling swarms, that swim or fly,
And mark'd his florets with botanic eye.—
"Sweet bud of Spring! how frail thy transient bloom,
"Fine film, she cried, "of Nature's fairest loom!
Soon Beauty fades upon its damask throne!"— 315
—Unconscious of the worm, that mined her own!—
—Pale are those lips, where soft caresses hung,
Wan the warm cheek, and mute the tender tongue,
Cold rests that feeling heart on Derwent's shore,
And those love-lighted eye-balls roll no more!320
IX. "YOUR virgin trains on BRINDLEY's cradle smiled,134
And nursed with fairy-love the unletter'd child,
Spread round his pillow all your secret spells,
Pierced all your springs, and open'd all your wells.—
As now on grass, with glossy folds reveal'd,325
Glides the bright serpent, now in flowers conceal'd;
[Page 141]Far shine the scales, that gild his sinuous back,
And lucid undulations mark his track;
So with strong arm immortal BRINDLEY leads
His long canals, and parts the velvet meads; 330
Winding in lucid lines, the watery mass
Mines the firm rock, or loads the deep morass,
With rising locks a thousand hills alarms,
Flings o'er a thousand streams its silver arms,
Feeds the long vale, the nodding woodland laves,335
And Plenty, Arts, and Commerce freight the waves.
—NYMPHS! who erewhile round BRINDLEY's early bier
On snow-white bosoms shower'd the incessant tear,
Adorn his tomb!—oh, raise the marble bust,
Proclaim his honours, and protect his dust!340
With urns inverted, round the sacred shrine
Their ozier wreaths let weeping Naiads twine;
While on the top MECHANIC GENIUS stands,
Counts the fleet waves, and balances the lands.
X. "NYMPHS! YOU first taught to pierce the secret caves
Of humid earth, and lift her ponderous waves;135 346
Bade with quick stroke the sliding piston bear
The viewless columns of incumbent air;—
Press'd by the incumbent air the floods below,
Through opening valves in foaming torrents flow,350
Foot after foot with lessen'd impulse move,
And rising seek the vacancy above.—
So when the Mother, bending o'er his charms,
Clasps her fair nurseling in delighted arms;
[Page 143]Throws the thin kerchief from her neck of snow,
And half unveils the pearly orbs below; 356
With sparkling eye the blameless Plunderer owns
Her soft embraces, and endearing tones,
Seeks the salubrious fount with opening lips,
Spreads his inquiring hands, and smiles, and sips.360
"CONNUBIAL FAIR! whom no fond transport warms
To lull your infant in maternal arms;
Who, bless'd in vain with tumid bosoms, hear
His tender wailings with unfeeling ear;
The soothing kiss and milky rill deny 365
To the sweet pouting lip, and glistening eye!—
Ah! what avails the cradle's damask roof,136
The eider bolster, and embroider'd woof!—
Oft hears the gilded couch unpity'd plains,
And many a tear the tassel'd cushion stains!370
[Page 144]No voice so sweet attunes his cares to rest,
So soft no pillow, as his Mother's breast!—
—Thus charm'd to sweet repose, when twilight hours
Shed their soft influence on celestial bowers,
The Cherub, Innocence, with smile divine 375
Shut his white wings, and sleeps on Beauty's shrine.
XI. "From dome to dome when flames infuriate climb,
Sweep the long street, invest the tower sublime;
Gild the tall vanes amid the astonish'd night,
And reddening heaven returns the sanguine light; 380
While with vast strides and bristling hair aloof
Pale Danger glides along the falling roof;
And Giant Terror howling in amaze
Moves his dark limbs across the lurid blaze.
NYMPHS! YOU first taught the gelid wave to rise,385
Hurl'd in resplendent arches to the skies;137
[Page 145]In iron cells condensed the airy spring,
And imp'd the torrent with unfailing wing;
—On the fierce flames the shower impetuous falls,
And sudden darkness shrouds the shatter'd walls; 390
Steam, smoak, and dust in blended volumes roll,
And Night and Silence repossess the Pole.—
"Where were ye, NYMPHS! in those disasterous hours,
Which wrap'd in flames AUGUSTA's sinking towers?
Why did ye linger in your wells and groves,395
When sad WOODMASON mourn'd her infant loves?138
[Page 146]When thy fair Daughters with unheeded screams,
Ill-fated MOLESWORTH! call'd the loitering streams?—
The trembling Nymph on bloodless fingers hung
Eyes from the tottering wall the distant throng,400
With ceaseless shrieks her sleeping friends alarms,
Drops with singed hair into her lover's arms.—
The illumin'd Mother seeks with footsteps fleet,
Where hangs the safe balcony o'er the street,
Wrap'd in her sheet her youngest hope suspends,405
And panting lowers it to her tiptoe friends;
Again she hurries on affection's wings,
And now a third, and now a fourth, she brings;
Safe all her babes, she smooths her horrent brow,
And bursts through bickering flames, unscorch'd, below.
So, by her Son arraign'd, with feet unshod 411
O'er burning bars indignant Emma trod.
"E'en on the day when Youth with Beauty wed,
The flames surprized them in their nuptial bed;—
[Page 147]Seen at the opening sash with bosom bare,415
With wringing hands, and dark dishevel'd hair,
The blushing Beauty with disorder'd charms
Round her fond lover winds her ivory arms;
Beat, as they clasp, their throbbing hearts with fear,
And many a kiss is mix'd with many a tear;— 420
Ah me! in vain the labouring engines pour
Round their pale limbs the ineffectual shower!—
—Then crash'd the floor, while sinking crouds retire,
And Love and Virtue sunk amid the fire!—
With piercing screams afflicted strangers mourn,425
And their white ashes mingle in their urn.
XII. "PELLUCID FORMS! whose crystal bosoms show
The shine of welfare, or the shade of woe;
Who with soft lips salute returning Spring,
And hail the Zephyr quivering on his wing; 430
Or watch, untired, the wintery clouds, and share
With streaming eyes my vegetable care;
[Page 148]Go, shove the dim mist from the mountain's brow,139
Chase the white fog, which floods the vale below;
Melt the thick snows, that linger on the lands,435
And catch the hailstones in your little hands;140
Guard the coy blossom from the pelting shower,
And dash the rimy spangles from the bower;
From each chill leaf the silvery drops repel,141
And close the timorous floret's golden bell.142 440
"So should young SYMPATHY, in female form,
Climb the tall rock, spectatress of the storm;
Life's sinking wrecks with secret sighs deplore,
And bleed for others' woes, Herself on shore;
To friendless Virtue, gasping on the strand,445
Bare her warm heart, her virgin arms expand,
Charm with kind looks, with tender accents cheer,
And pour the sweet consolatory tear;
Grief's cureless wounds with lenient balms asswage,
Or prop with firmer staff the steps of Age; 450
[Page 150]The lifted arm of mute Despair arrest,
And snatch the dagger pointed to his breast;
Or lull to slumber Envy's haggard mien,
And rob her quiver'd shafts with hand unseen.
—Sound, NYMPHS OF HELICON! the trump of Fame,
And teach Hibernian echoes JONES'S name;143 456
Bind round her polish'd brow the civic bay,
And drag the fair Philanthropist to day.—
So from secluded springs, and secret caves,
Her Liffy pours his bright meandering waves,460
Cools the parch'd vale, the sultry mead divides,
And towns and temples star his shadowy sides.
XIII. "CALL YOUR light legions, tread the swampy heath,
Pierce with sharp spades the tremulous peat beneath;
With colters bright the rushy sward bisect,465
And in new veins the gushing rills direct;—
[Page 151]So flowers shall rise in purple light array'd,
And blossom'd orchards stretch their silver shade;
Admiring glebes their amber ears unfold,
And Labour sleep amid the waving gold.470
"Thus when young HERCULES with firm disdain
Braved the soft smiles of Pleasure's harlot train;
To valiant toils his forceful limbs assign'd,
And gave to Virtue all his mighty mind,
Fierce ACHELOUS rush'd from mountain-caves,144 475
O'er sad Etolia pour'd his wasteful waves,
O'er lowing vales and bleating pastures roll'd,
Swept her red vineyards, and her glebes of gold,
Mined all her towns, uptore her rooted woods,
And Famine danced upon the shining floods.480
[Page 152]The youthful Hero seized his curled crest,
And dash'd with lifted club the watery Pest;
With waving arm the billowy tumult quell'd,
And to his course the bellowing Fiend repell'd.
"Then to a Snake the finny Demon turn'd 485
His lengthen'd form, with scales of silver burn'd;
Lash'd with resistless sweep his dragon-train,
And shot meandering o'er the affrighted plain.
The Hero-God, with giant fingers clasp'd
Firm round his neck, the hissing monster grasp'd; 490
With starting eyes, wide throat, and gaping teeth,
Curl his redundant folds, and writhe in death.
"And now a Bull, amid the flying throng
The grisly Demon foam'd, and roar'd along;
With silver hoofs the flowery meadows spurn'd,495
Roll'd his red eye, his threatening antlers turn'd.
[Page 153]Dragg'd down to earth, the Warrior's victor-hands145
Press'd his deep dewlap on the imprinted sands;
Then with quick bound his bended knee he fix'd
High on his neck, the branching horns betwixt,500
Strain'd his strong arms, his sinewy shoulders bent,
And from his curled brow the twisted terror rent.
—Pleased Fawns and Nymphs with dancing step applaud,
And hang their chaplets round the resting God;
Link their soft hands, and rear with pausing toil 505
The golden trophy on the furrow'd soil;
Fill with ripe fruits, with wreathed flowers adorn,
And give to PLENTY her prolific horn.
XIV. "On Spring's fair lap, CERULEAN SISTERS! pour
From airy urns the sun-illumined shower,510
Feed with the dulcet drops my tender broods,
Mellifluous flowers, and aromatic buds;
Hang from each bending grass and horrent thorn
The tremulous pearl, that glitters to the morn;
[Page 154]Or where cold dews their secret channels lave,515
And Earth's dark chambers hide the stagnant wave,
O, pierce, YE NYMPHS! her marble veins, and lead
Her gushing fountains to the thirsty mead;
Wide o'er the shining vales, and trickling hills
Spread the bright treasure in a thousand rills.146 520
So shall my peopled realms of Leaf and Flower
Exult, inebriate with the genial shower;
[Page 155]Dip their long tresses from the mossy brink,
With tufted roots the glassy currents drink;
Shade your cool mansions from meridian beams,525
And view their waving honours in your streams.
"Thus where the veins their confluent branches bend,
And milky eddies with the purple blend;
The Chyle's white trunk, diverging from its source,
Seeks through the vital mass its shining course; 530
O'er each red cell, and tissued membrane spreads
In living net-work all its branching threads;
Maze within maze its tortuous path pursues,
Winds into glands, inextricable clues;
Steals through the stomach's velvet sides, and sips 535
The silver surges with a thousand lips;
Fills each fine pore, pervades each slender hair,
And drinks salubrious dew-drops from the air.
"Thus when to kneel in Mecca's awful gloom,
Or press with pious kiss Medina's tomb,540
[Page 156]League after league, through many a lingering day,
Steer the swart Caravans their sultry way;
O'er sandy wastes on gasping camels toil,
Or print with pilgrim-steps the burning soil;
If from lone rocks a sparkling rill descend,545
O'er the green brink the kneeling nations bend,
Bathe the parch'd lip, and cool the feverish tongue,
And the clear lake reflects the mingled throng."
THE GODDESS PAUSED,—the listening bands awhile
Still seem to hear, and dwell upon her smile; 550
Then with soft murmur sweep in lucid trains
Down the green slopes, and o'er the pebbly plains,
To each bright stream on silver sandals glide,
Reflective fountain, and tumultuous tide.
So shoot the Spider-broods at breezy dawn 555
Their glittering net-work o'er the autumnal lawn;
From blade to blade connect with cordage fine
The unbending grass, and live along the line;
[Page 157]Or bathe unwet their oily forms, and dwell
With feet repulsive on the dimpling well.560
So when the North congeals his watery mass,
Piles high his snows, and floors his seas with glass;
While many a Month, unknown to warmer rays,
Marks its slow chronicle by lunar days;
Stout youths and ruddy damsels, sportive train,565
Leave the white soil, and rush upon the main;
From isle to isle the moon-bright squadrons stray,
And win in easy curves their graceful way;
On step alternate borne, with balance nice
Hang o'er the gliding steel, and hiss along the ice.570

Argument of the Fourth Canto.

ADDRESS to the Sylphs. I. Trade-winds. Monsoons. N. E. and S. W. winds. Land and sea breezes. Irregular winds. 9. II. Production of vital air from oxygene and light. The marriage of Cupid and Psyche. 25. III. 1. Syroc. Simoom. Tornado. 63. 2. Fog. Contagion. Story of Thyrsis and Aegle. Love and Death. 79. IV. 1. Barometer. Air-pump. 127. 2. Air-balloon of Mongulfier. Death of Rozier. Icarus. 143. V. Discoveries of Dr. Priestley. Evolutions and combinations of pure air. Rape of Proserpine. 165. VI. Sea-balloons, or houses constructed to move under the sea. Death of Mr. Day. Of Mr. Spalding. Of Captain Pierce and his Daughters. 195. VII. Sylphs of music. Cecelia singing. Cupid with a lyre riding upon a lion. 233. VIII. Destruction of Senacherib's army by a pestilential wind. Shadow of Death. 263. IX. 1. Wish to possess the secret of changing the course of the winds. 305. 2. Monster devouring air subdued by Mr. Kirwan. 321. X. 1. Seeds suspended in their pods. Stars discovered by Mr. Herschel. De­struction and resuscitation of all things. 351. 2. Seeds within seeds, and bulbs within bulbs. Picture on the retina of the eye. Concentric strata of the earth. The great seed. 381. 3. The root, pith, lobes, plume, calyx, coral, sap, blood, leaves respire and absorb light. The crocodile in its egg. 409. XI. Opening [Page 160] of the flower. The petals, style, anthers, prolific dust. Trans­mutation of the silkworm. 441. XII. 1. Leaf-buds changed into flower-buds by wounding the bark, or strangulating a part of the branch. 461. 2. Ingrafting. Aaron's rod pullulates. 477. XIII. 1. Insects on trees. Humming-bird alarmed by the spider­like apearance of Cyprepedia. 491. 2. Diseases of vegetables. Scratch on unnealed glass. 511. XIV. 1. Tender flowers. Ama­ryllis, fritillary, erythrina, mimosa, cerea. 523. 2. Vines. Oranges. Diana's trees. Kew garden. The royal family. 541. XV. Of­fering to Hygeia. 587. Departure of the Goddess. 615.


AS when at noon in Hybla's fragrant bowers
CACALIA opens all her honey'd flowers;147
[Page 162]Contending swarms on bending branches cling,
And nations hover on aurelian wing;
So round the GODDESS, ere she speaks, on high 5
Impatient SYLPHS in gawdy circlets fly;
Quivering in air their painted plumes expand,
And coloured shadows dance upon the land.
I. "SYLPHS! YOUR light troops the tropic Winds confine,148
And guide their streaming arrows to the Line; 10
While in warm floods ecliptic breezes rise,
And sink with wings benumb'd in colder skies.
You bid Monsoons on Indian seas reside,
And veer, as moves the sun, their airy tide;
While southern gales o'er western oceans roll,15
And Eurus steals his ice-winds from the Pole.
YOUR playful trains, on sultry islands born,
Turn on fantastic toe at eve and morn;
With soft susurrant voice alternate sweep
Earth's green pavilions and encircling deep.20
[Page 163]OR in itinerant cohorts, borne sublime
On tides of ether, float from clime to clime;
O'er waving Autumn bend your airy ring,
Or waft the fragrant bosom of the Spring.
II. "When Morn, escorted by the dancing Hours,
O'er the bright plains her dewy lustre showers; 26
Till from her sable chariot Eve serene
Drops the dark curtain o'er the brilliant scene;
YOU form with chemic hands the airy surge,
Mix with broad vans, with shadowy tridents urge.30
SYLPHS! from each sun-bright leaf, that twinkling shakes
O'er Earth's green lap, or shoots amid her lakes,
Your playful bands with simpering lips invite,
And wed the enamour'd OXYGENE to LIGHT.—149
[Page 164]Round their white necks with fingers interwove,35
Cling the fond Pair with unabating love;
Hand link'd in hand on buoyant step they rise,
And soar and glisten in unclouded skies.
Whence in bright floods the VITAL AIR expands,
And with concentric spheres involves the lands; 40
Pervades the swarming seas, and heaving earths,
Where teeming Nature broods her myriad births;
Fills the fine lungs of all that breathe or bud,
Warms the new heart, and dyes the gushing blood;
[Page 165]With Life's first spark inspires the organic frame,45
And, as it wastes, renews the subtile flame.
"So pure, so soft, with sweet attraction shone
Fair PSYCHE, kneeling at the ethereal throne;150
Won with coy smiles the admiring court of Jove,
And warm'd the bosom of unconquer'd LOVE.— 50
Beneath a moving shade of fruits and flowers
Onward they march to HYMEN's sacred bowers;
With lifted torch he lights the festive train,
Sublime, and leads them in his golden chain;
Joins the fond pair, indulgent to their vows,55
And hides with mystic veil their blushing brows.
Round their fair forms their mingling arms they fling,
Meet with warm lip, and clasp with rustling wing.—
[Page 166]—Hence plastic Nature, as Oblivion whelms
Her fading forms, repeoples all her realms; 60 151
Soft Joys disport on purple plumes unfurl'd,
And Love and Beauty rule the willing world.
III. 1. "SYLPHS! YOUR bold myriads on the witheringheath
Stay the fell SYROC's suffocative breath;
Arrest SIMOOM in his realms of sand,152 65
The poisoned javelin balanced in his hand;—
[Page 167]Fierce on blue streams he rides the tainted air,
Points his keen eye, and waves his whistling hair;
While, as he turns, the undulating soil
Rolls in red waves, and billowy deserts boil.71
[Page 168]You seize TORNADO by his locks of mist,153
Burst his dense clouds, his wheeling spires untwist;
Wide o'er the West when borne on headlong gales,
Dark as meridian night, the Monster sails,
Howls high in air, and shakes his curled brow,75
Lashing with serpent-train the waves below,
Whirls his black arm, the forked lightning flings,
And showers a deluge from his demon-wings.
2. "SYLPHS! with light shafts YOU pierce the drowsy FOG,
That lingering slumbers on the sedge-wove bog,80
With webbed feet o'er midnight meadows creeps,
Or flings his hairy limbs on stagnant deeps.154
[Page 169]YOU meet CONTAGION issuing from afar,
And dash the baleful conqueror from his car;
When, Guest of DEATH! from charnel vaults he steals,
And bathes in human gore his armed wheels.86
"Thus when the PLAGUE, upborne on Belgian air,
Look'd through the mist and shook his clotted hair,
O'er shrinking nations steer'd malignant clouds,
And rain'd destruction on the gasping crouds.90
The beauteous Aegle felt the venom'd dart,155
Slow roll'd her eye, and feebly throbb'd her heart;
Each fervid sigh seem'd shorter than the last,
And starting Friendship shunn'd her, as she pass'd.
—With weak unsteady step the fainting Maid 95
Seeks the cold garden's solitary shade,
[Page 170]Sinks on the pillowy moss her drooping head,
And prints with lifeless limbs her leafy bed.
—On wings of Love her plighted Swain pursues,
Shades her from winds, and shelters her from dews,100
Extends on tapering poles the canvas roof,
Spreads o'er the straw-wove matt the flaxen woof,
Sweet buds and blossoms on her bolster strows,
And binds his kerchief round her aching brows;
Sooths with soft kiss, with tender accents charms,105
And clasps the bright Infection in his arms.—
With pale and languid smiles the grateful Fair
Applauds his virtues, and rewards his care;
Mourns with wet cheek her fair companions fled
On timorous step, or number'd with the dead; 110
Calls to her bosom all its scatter'd rays,
And pours on THYRSIS the collected blaze;
Braves the chill night, caressing and caress'd,
And folds her Hero-lover to her breast.—
Less bold, LEANDER at the dusky hour 115
Eyed, as he swam, the far love-lighted tower;
[Page 171]Breasted with struggling arms the tossing wave,
And sunk benighted in the watery grave.
Less bold, TOBIAS claim'd the nuptial bed,
Where seven fond Lovers by a Fiend had bled; 120
And drove, instructed by his Angel-Guide,
The enamour'd Demon from the fatal bride.—
—SYLPHS! while your winnowing pinions fan'd the air,
And shed gay visions o'er the sleeping pair;
LOVE round their couch effused his rosy breath,125
And with his keener arrows conquer'd DEATH.
IV. 1. "You charm'd, indulgent SYLPHS! their learnedtoil,
And crown'd with fame your TORRICELL, and BOYLE;156
[Page 172]Taught with sweet smiles, responsive to their prayer,
The spring and pressure of the viewless air.130
—How up exhausted tubes bright currents flow
Of liquid silver from the lake below,
Weigh the long column of the incumbent skies,
And with the changeful moment fall and rife.
—How, as in brazen pumps the pistons move,135
The membrane-valve sustains the weight above;
[Page 173]Stroke follows stroke, the gelid vapour falls,
And misty dew-drops dim the crystal walls;
Rare and more rare expands the fluid thin,
And Silence dwells with Vacancy within.— 140
So in the mighty Void with grim delight
Primeval Silence reign'd with ancient Night.
2. "SYLPHS! your soft voices, whispering from the skies,
Bade from low earth the bold MONGULFIER rise;
Outstretch'd his buoyant ball with airy spring,145
And bore the Sage on levity of wing;—
Where were ye, SYLPHS! when on the ethereal main
Young ROSIERE launch'd, and call'd your aid in vain?157
Fair mounts the light balloon, by Zephyr driven,
Parts the thin clouds, and sails along the heaven; 150
[Page 174]Higher and yet higher the expanding bubble flies,
Lights with quick flash, and bursts amid the skies.—
Headlong He rushes through the affrighted air
With limbs distorted, and dishevel'd hair,
Whirls round and round, the flying croud alarms,155
And DEATH receives him in his sable arms!—
So erst with melting wax and loosen'd strings
Sunk hapless ICARUS on unfaithful wings;
His scatter'd plumage danced upon the wave,
And sorrowing Mermaids deck'd his watery grave; 160
O'er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed,
And strew'd with crimson moss his marble bed;
Struck in their coral towers the pausing bell,
And wide in ocean toll'd his echoing knell.158
V. "SYLPHS! YOU, retiring to sequester'd bowers,
Where oft your PRIESTLEY WOOS your airy powers,159 166
[Page 176]On noiseless step or quivering pinion glide,
As sits the Sage with Science by his side;
To his charm'd eye in gay undress appear,
Or pour your secrets on his raptured ear.170
How nitrous Gas from iron ingots driven
Drinks with red lips the purest breath of heaven;
How, while Conferva from its tender hair
Gives in bright bubbles empyrean air;
The crystal floods phlogistic ores calcine,175
And the pure ETHER marries with the MINE.
"So in Sicilia's ever-blooming shade
When playful PROSERPINE from CERES stray'd,160
[Page 177]Led with unwary step her virgin trains
O'er Etna's steeps, and Enna's golden plains; 180
Pluck'd with fair hand the silver-blossom'd bower,
And purpled mead,—herself a fairer flower;
Sudden, unseen amid the twilight glade,
Rush'd gloomy DIS, and seized the trembling maid.—
Her starting damsels sprung from mossy feats,185
Dropp'd from their gauzy laps the gather'd sweets,
Clung round the struggling Nymph, with piercing cries,
Pursued the chariot, and invoked the skies;—
Pleased as he grasps her in his iron arms,
Frights with soft sighs, with tender words alarms,190
The wheels descending roll'd in smoky rings,
Infernal Cupids flapp'd their demon wings;
Earth with deep yawn received the Fair, amaz'd,
And far in Night celestial Beauty blaz'd.
VI. "Led by the Sage, Lo! Britain's sons shall guide161
Huge SEA-BALLOONS beneath the tossing tide; 196
The diving castles, roof'd with spheric glass,
Ribb'd with strong oak, and barr'd with bolts of brass,
Buoy'd with pure air shall endless tracks pursue,
And PRIESTLEY's hand the vital flood renew.— 200
Then shall BRITANNIA rule the wealthy realms,
Which Ocean's wide insatiate wave o'erwhelms;
Confine in netted bowers his scaly flocks,
Part his blue plains, and people all his rocks.
[Page 179]Deep, in warm waves beneath the Line that roll,205
Beneath the shadowy ice-isles of the Pole,
Onward, through bright meandering vales, afar,
Obedient Sharks shall trail her sceptred car,
With harness'd necks the pearly flood disturb,
Stretch the silk rein, and champ the silver curb; 210
Pleased round her triumph wondering Tritons play,
And Seamaids hail her on the watery way.
—Oft shall she weep beneath the crystal waves
O'er shipwreck'd lovers weltering in their graves;
Mingling in death the Brave and Good behold 215
With slaves to glory, and with slaves to gold;
Shrin'd in the deep shall DAY and SPALDING mourn,162
Each in his treacherous bell, sepulchral urn!—
[Page 180]Oft o'er thy lovely daughters, hapless PIERCE!163
Her sighs shall breathe, her sorrows dew their hearse.—
With brow upturn'd to Heaven, "WE WILL NOT PART!"
He cried, and clasp'd them to his aching heart.—
—Dash'd in dread conflict on the rocky grounds,
Crash the shock'd masts, the staggering wreck rebounds;
Through gaping seams the rushing deluge swims,225
Chills their pale bosoms, bathes their shuddering limbs,
Climbs their white shoulders, buoys their streaming hair,
And the last sea-shriek bellows in the air.—
Each with loud sobs her tender sire caress'd,
And gasping strain'd him closer to her breast!— 230
[Page 181]—Stretch'd on one bier they sleep beneath the brine,
And their white bones with ivory arms intwine!
VII. "SYLPHS OF NICE EAR! with beating wings YOU guide
The fine vibrations of the aerial tide;
Join in sweet cadences the measured words,235
Or stretch and modulate the trembling cords.
You strung to melody the Grecian lyre,
Breathed the rapt song, and fan'd the thought of fire,
Or brought in combinations, deep and clear,
Immortal harmony to HANDEL's ear.— 240
You with soft breath attune the vernal gale,
When breezy evening broods the listening vale;
Or wake the loud tumultuous sounds, that dwell
In Echo's many-toned diurnal shell.
You melt in dulcet chords, when Zephyr rings 245
The Eolian Harp, and mingle all its strings;
[Page 182]Or trill in air the soft symphonious chime,
When rapt CECILIA lifts her eye sublime,
Swell, as she breathes, her bosoms rising snow,
O'er her white teeth in tuneful accents flow,250
Through her fair lips on whispering pinions move,
And form the tender sighs, that kindle love!
"So playful LOVE on Ida's flowery sides
With ribbon-rein the indignant Lion guides;164
Pleased on his brinded back the lyre he rings,255
And shakes delirious rapture from the strings;
Slow as the pausing Monarch stalks along,
Sheaths his retractile claws, and drinks the song;
Soft Nymphs on timid step the triumph view,
And listening Fawns with beating hoofs pursue; 260
[Page 183]With pointed ears the alarmed forest starts,
And Love and Music soften savage hearts.
VIII. "SYLPHS! YOUR bold hosts, when Heaven with justice dread
Calls the red tempest round the guilty head,
Fierce at his nod assume vindictive forms,265
And launch from airy cars the vollied storms.—
From Ashur's vales when proud SENACHERIB trod,
Pour'd his swoln heart, defied the living GOD,
Urged with incessant shouts his glittering powers;
And JUDAH shook through all her massy towers; 270
Round her sad altars press'd the prostrate crowd,
Hosts beat their breasts, and suppliant chieftains bow'd;
Loud shrieks of matrons thrill'd the troubled air,
And trembling virgins rent their scatter'd hair;
High in the midst the kneeling King adored,275
Spread the blaspheming scroll before the Lord,
Raised his pale hands, and breathed his pausing sighs,
And fixed on Heaven his dim imploring eyes,—
[Page 184]"Oh! MIGHTY GOD! amidst thy Seraph-throng
"Who sit'st sublime, the Judge of Right and Wrong;
"Thine the wide earth, bright sun, and starry zone,281
"That twinkling journey round thy golden throne;
"Thine is the crystal source of life and light,
"And thine the realms of Death's eternal night.
"Oh, bend thine ear, thy gracious eye incline,285
"Lo! Ashur's King blasphemes thy holy shrine,
"Insults our offerings, and derides our vows,—
"Oh! strike the diadem from his impious brows,
"Tear from his murderous hand the bloody rod,
"And teach the trembling nations, "THOU ART GOD!—"
—SYLPHS! in what dread array with pennons broad 290
Onward ye floated o'er the ethereal road,
Call'd each dank steam the reeking marsh exhales,
Contagious vapours, and volcanic gales,165
[Page 185]Gave the soft South with poisonous breath to blow,295
And rolled the dreadful whirlwind on the foe!—
Hark! o'er the camp the venom'd tempest sings,
Man falls on Man, on buckler buckler rings;
Groan answers groan, to anguish anguish yields,
And DEATH's loud accents shake the tented fields!300
—High rears the Fiend his grinning jaws, and wide
Spans the pale nations with colossal stride,
Waves his broad falchion with uplifted hand,
And his vast shadow darkens all the land.
IX. 1. "Ethereal cohorts! Essences of Air!305
Make the green children of the Spring your care!
Oh, SYLPHS! disclose in this inquiring age
One GOLDEN SECRET to some favour'd sage;166
Grant the charm'd talisman, the chain, that binds,
Or guides the changeful pinions of the winds!310
—No more shall hoary Boreas, issuing forth
With Eurus, lead the tempests of the North;
Rime the pale Dawn, or veil'd in flaky showers
Chill the sweet bosoms of the smiling Hours.
By whispering Auster waked shall Zephyr rise,315
Meet with soft kiss, and mingle in the skies,
[Page 187]Fan the gay floret, bend the yellow ear,
And rock the uncurtain'd cradle of the year;
Autumn and Spring in lively union blend,
And from the skies the Golden Age descend.320
2. "Castled on ice, beneath the circling Bear,
A vast CAMELION spits and swallows air;167
O'er twelve degrees his ribs gigantic bend,
And many a league his leathern jaws extend;
Half-fish, beneath, his scaly volutes spread,325
And vegetable plumage crests his head;
Huge fields of air his wrinkled skin receives,
From panting gills, wide lungs, and waving leaves;
Then with dread throes subsides his bloated form,
His shriek the thunder, and his sigh the storm.330
Oft high in heaven the hissing Demon wins
His towering course, upborne on winnowing fins;
[Page 188]Steers with expanded eye and gaping mouth,
His mass enormous to the affrighted South;
Spreads o'er the shuddering Line his shadowy limbs,335
And Frost and Famine follow as he swims.—
SYLPHS! round his cloud-built couch your bands array,
And mould the Monster to your gentle sway;
Charm with soft tones, with tender touches check,
Bend to your golden yoke his willing neck,340
With silver curb his yielding teeth restrain,
And give to KIRWAN's hand the silken rein.168
—Pleased shall the Sage, the dragon-wings between,
Bend o'er discordant climes his eye serene,
With Lapland breezes cool Arabian vales,345
And call to Hindostan antarctic gales,
Adorn with wreathed ears Kampschatca's brows,
And scatter roses on Zealandic snows,
[Page 189]Earth's wondering Zones the genial seasons share,
And nations hail him "MONARCH OF THE AIR."350
X. 1. "SYLPHS! as you hover on ethereal wing,
Brood the green children of parturient Spring!—
Where in their bursting cells my Embryons rest,
I charge you guard the vegetable nest;
Count with nice eye the myriad SEEDS, that swell169 355
Each vaulted womb of husk, or pod, or shell;
Feed with sweet juices, clothe with downy hair,
Or hang, inshrined, their little orbs in air.
"So, late decry'd by HERSCHEL's piercing sight,
Hang the bright squadrons of the twinkling Night; 360
Ten thousand marshall'd stars, a silver zone,
Effuse their blended lustres round her throne;
Suns call to suns, in lucid clouds conspire,
And light exterior skies with golden fire;170
Resistless rolls the illimitable sphere,365
And one great circle forms the unmeasured year.
—Roll on, YE STARS! exult in youthful prime,
Mark with bright curves the printless steps of Time;
Near and more near your beamy cars approach,171
And lessening orbs on lessening orbs encroach;— 370
Flowers of the sky! ye too to age must yield,
Frail as your silken sisters of the field!
[Page 191]Star after star from Heaven's high arch shall rush,
Suns sink on suns, and systems systems crush,
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall,375
And Death and Night and Chaos mingle all!
—Till o'er the wreck, emerging from the storm,172
Immortal NATURE lifts her changeful form,
Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of flame,
And soars and shines, another and the same.380
2. "Lo! on each SEED within its slender rind
Life's golden threads in endless circles wind;
Maze within maze the lucid webs are roll'd173
And, as they burst, the living flame unfold.
[Page 192]The pulpy acorn, ere it swells, contains 385
The Oak's vast branches in its milky veins;
Each ravel'd bud, fine film, and fibre-line
Traced with nice pencil on the small design.
The young Narcissus, in it's bulb compress'd,
Cradles a second nestling on its breast; 390
In whose fine arms a younger embryon lies,
Folds its thin leaves, and shuts its floret-eyes;
Grain within grain successive harvests dwell,
And boundless forests slumber in a shell.
—So yon grey precipice, and ivy'd towers,
Long winding meads, and intermingled bowers,
[Page 193]Green files of poplars, o'er the lake that bow,
And glimmering wheel, which rolls and foams below,
In one bright point with nice distinction lie
Plan'd on the moving tablet of the eye.400
—So, fold on fold, Earth's wavy plains extend,
And, sphere in sphere, its hidden strata bend;—
Incumbent Spring her beamy plumes expands
O'er restless oceans, and impatient lands,
With genial lustres warms the mighty ball,405
And the GREAT SEED evolves, disclosing ALL;174
LIFE buds or breathes from Indus to the Poles,
And the vast surface kindles, as it rolls!175
3. "Come, YE SOFT SYLPHS! who sport on Latian land,
Come, sweet-lip'd Zephyr, and Favonius bland!410
Teach the fine SEED, instinct with life, to shoot176
On Earth's cold bosom its descending root;
With Pith elastic stretch its rising stem,
Part the twin Lobes, expand the throbbing Gem;
Clasp in your airy arms the aspiring Plume,415
Fan with your balmy breath its kindling bloom,
Each widening scale and bursting film unfold,
Swell the green cup, and tint the flower with gold;
[Page 195]While in bright veins the silvery Sap ascends,177
And refluent blood in milky eddies bends; 420
While, spread in air, the leaves respiring play,
Or drink the golden quintessence of day.178
—So from his shell on Delta's shower-less isle
Bursts into life the Monster of the Nile;
First in translucent lymph with cobweb-threads 425
The Brain's fine floating tissue swells, and spreads;
Nerve after nerve the glistening spine descends,
The red Heart dances, the Aorta bends;
Through each new gland the purple current glides,
New veins meandering drink the refluent tides; 430
[Page 196]Edge over edge expands the hardening scale,
And sheaths his slimy skin in silver mail.
—Erewhile, emerging from the brooding sand,
With Tyger-paw He prints the brineless strand,
High on the flood with speckled bosom swims,435
Helm'd with broad tail, and oar'd with giant limbs;
Rolls his fierce eye-balls, clasps his iron claws,
And champs with gnashing teeth his massy jaws;
Old Nilus sighs along his cane-crown'd shores,
And swarthy Memphis trembles and adores.440
XI. "Come, YE SOFT SYLPHS! who fan the Paphian groves,
And bear on sportive wings the callow Loves;
Call with sweet whisper, in each gale that blows,
The slumbering Snow-drop from her long repose;
Charm the pale Primrose from her clay-cold bed,445
Unveil the bashful Violet's tremulous head;
While from her bud the playful Tulip breaks,
And young Carnations peep with blushing cheeks;
[Page 197]Bid the closed Petals from nocturnal cold
The virgin Style in silken curtains fold,450
Shake into viewless air the morning dews,
And wave in light their iridescent hues;
While from on high the bursting Anthers trust
To the mild breezes their prolific dust;
Or bend in rapture o'er the central Fair,455
Love out their hour, and leave their lives in air.179
So in his silken sepulchre the Worm,
Warm'd with new life, unfolds his larva-form;
Erewhile aloft in wanton circles moves,
And woos on Hymen-wings his velvet loves.460
XII. 1. "If prouder branches with exuberance rude
Point their green gems, their barren shoots protrude;
[Page 198]Wound them, ye SYLPHS! with little knives, or bind180
A wiry ringlet round the swelling rind;
Bisect with chissel fine the root below,465
Or bend to earth the inhospitable bough.181
[Page 199]So shall each germ with new prolific power
Delay the leaf-bud, and expand the flower;
Closed in the Style the tender pith shall end,
The lengthening Wood in circling Stamens bend;
The smoother Rind its soft embroidery spread
In vaulted Petals o'er their fertile bed;
While the rough Bark, in circling mazes roll'd,
Forms the green Cup with many a wrinkled fold;
And each small bud-scale spreads its foliage hard,475
Firm round the callow germ, a Floral Guard.
2. "Where cruder juices swell the leafy vein,
Stint the young germ, the tender blossom stain;
On each lop'd shoot a foster scion bind,
Pith press'd to pith, and rind applied to rind,480
So shall the trunk with loftier crest ascend,
And wide in air its happier arms extend;
[Page 200]Nurse the new buds, admire the leaves unknown,182
And blushing bend with fruitage not its own.
"Thus when in holy triumph Aaron trod,485
And offer'd on the shrine his mystic rod;
First a new bark its silken tissue weaves,
New buds emerging widen into leaves;
Fair fruits protrude, enascent flowers expand,
And blush and tremble round the living wand.490
XIII. 1. "SYLPHS! on each Oak-bud wound the wormy galls,
With pigmy spears, or crush the venom'd balls;
[Page 201]Fright the green Locust from his foamy bed,
Unweave the Caterpillar's gluey thread;
Chase the fierce Earwig, scare the bloated Toad,495
Arrest the snail upon his slimy road;
Arm with sharp thorns the Sweet-brier's tender wood,
And dash the Cynips from her damask bud;
Steep in ambrosial dews the Woodbine's bells,
And drive the Night-moth from her honey'd cells.500
So where the Humming-bird in Chili's bowers
On murmuring pinions robs ths pendent flowers;
Seeks, where fine pores their dulcet balm distill,
And sucks the treasure with proboscis-bill;
Fair CYPREPEDIA with succesfful guile183 505
Knits her smooth brow, extinguishes her smile;
[Page 202]A Spiders bloated paunch and jointed arms
Hide her fine form, and mask her blushing charms;
In ambush sly the mimic warrior lies,
And on quick wing the panting plunderer flies.510
2 "Shield the young Harvest from devouring blight,184
The Smut's dark poison, and the Mildew white;[Page]


London Publish'd Decr. 1st. 1791. by J. Johnson. St. Pauls Church Yard.

[Page 203]Deep-rooted Mould, and Ergot's horn uncouth,185
And break the Canker's desolating tooth.
First in one point the festering wound confin'd 515
Mines unperceived beneath the shrivel'd rin'd;
Then climbs the branches with increasing strength,
Spreads as they spread, and lengthens with their length;
—Thus the slight wound ingraved on glass unneal'd186
Runs in white lines along the lucid field; 520
[Page 204]Crack follows crack, to laws elastic just,
And the frail fabric shivers into dust.
XIV. 1. "SYLPHS! if with morn destructive Eurus springs,
O, clasp the Harebel with your velvet wings;
Screen with thick leaves the Jasmine as it blows,525
And shake the white rime from the shuddering Rose;
Whilst Amaryllis turns with graceful ease
Her blushing beauties, and eludes the breeze.—
SYLPHS! if at noon the Fritillary droops,
With drops nectarous hang her nodding cups; 530 [Page]

Erythrina Corallodendron.

London Publish'd Decr. 1st. 1791. by J. Johnson. St. Pauls Church Yard.

[Page 205]Thin clouds of Gossamer in air display,
And hide the vale's chaste Lily from the ray;
Whilst Erythrina o'er her tender flower
Bends all her leaves, and braves the sultry hour;—
Shield, when cold Hesper sheds his dewy light,535
Mimosa's soft sensations from the night;
Fold her thin foilage, close her timid flowers,
And with ambrosial slumbers guard her bowers;187
O'er each warm wall while Cerea flings her arms,
And wastes on night's dull eye a blaze of charms.540
2. Round her tall Elm with dewy fingers twine
The gadding tendrils of the adventurous Vine;
[Page 206]From arm to arm in gay festoons suspend
Her fragrant flowers, her graceful foliage bend;
Swell with sweet juice her vermil orbs, and feed 545
Shrined in transparent pulp her pearly seed;
Hang round the Orange all her silver bells,
And guard her fragrance with Hesperian spells;
Bud after bud her polish'd leaves unfold,
And load her branches with successive gold.550
So the learn'd Alchemist exulting sees
Rise in his bright matrass DIANA's trees;
Drop after drop, with just delay he pours
The red-fumed acid on Potosi's ores;
With sudden flash the fierce bullitions rise,555
And wide in air the gas phlogistic flies;
Slow shoot, at length, in many a brilliant mass
Metallic roots across the netted glass;
Branch after branch extend their silver stems,
Bud into gold, and blossoms into gems.
So sits enthron'd in vegetable pride
Imperial KEW by Thames's glittering side;
Obedient sails from realms unfurrow'd bring
For her the unnam'd progeny of spring;
Attendant Nymphs her dulcet mandates hear,565
And nurse in fostering arms the tender year,
Plant the young bulb, inhume the living seed,
Prop the weak stem, the erring tendril lead;
Or fan in glass-built fanes the stranger flowers
With milder gales, and steep with warmer showers.570
Delighted Thames through tropic umbrage glides,
And flowers antarctic, bending o'er his tides;
Drinks the new tints, the sweets unknown inhales,
And calls the sons of science to his vales.
In one bright point admiring Nature eyes 575
The fruits and foliage of discordant skies,
Twines the gay floret with the fragrant bough,
And bends the wreath round GEORGE'S royal brow.
—Sometimes retiring, from the public weal
One tranquil hour the ROYAL PARTNERS steal;
[Page 208] Through glades exotic pass with step sublime,
Or mark the growths of Britain's happier clime;
With beauty blossom'd, and with virtue blaz'd,
Mark the fair Scions, that themselves have rais'd;
Sweet blooms the Rose, the towering Oak expands,585
The Grace and Guard of Britain's golden lands.
XV. SYLPHS! who, round earth on purple pinions borne,
Attend the radiant chariot of the morn;
Lead the gay hours along the ethereal hight,
And on each dun meridian shower the light; 590
SYLPHS! who from realms of equatorial day
To climes, that shudder in the polar ray,
From zone to zone pursue on shifting wing,
The bright perennial journey of the spring; 595
Bring my rich Balms from Mecca's hallow'd glades,
Sweet flowers, that glitter in Arabia's shades;
Fruits, whose fair forms in bright succession glow
Gilding the Banks of Arno, or of Po;
[Page 209]Each leaf, whose fragrant steam with ruby lip
Gay China's nymphs from pictur'd vases sip; 600
Each spicy rind, which sultry India boasts,
Scenting the night-air round her breezy coasts;
Roots whose bold stems in bleak Siberia blow,
And gem with many a tint the eternal snow;
Barks, whose broad umbrage high in ether waves 605
O'er Ande's steeps, and hides his golden caves;
—And, where yon oak extends his dusky shoots
Wide o'er the rill, that bubbles from his roots;
Beneath whose arms, protected from the storm
A turf-built altar rears it's rustic form; 610
SYLPHS! with religious hands fresh garlands twine,
And deck with lavish pomp HYGEIA's shrine.
"Call with loud voice the Sisterhood, that dwell
On floating-cloud, wide wave, or bubbling well;
Stamp with charm'd foot, convoke the alarmed Gnomes
From golden beds, and adamantine domes; 615
[Page 210]Each from her sphere with beckoning arm invite,
Curl'd with red flame, the Vestal Forms of light.
Close all your spotted wings, in lucid ranks
Press with your bending knees the crowded banks,620
Cross your meek arms, incline your wreathed brows,
And win the Goddess with unwearied vows.
"Oh, wave, HYGEIA! o'er BRITANNIA's throne
Thy serpent-wand, and mark it for thy own;
Lead round her breezy coasts thy guardian trains,625
Her nodding forests, and her waving plains;
Shed o'er her peopled realms thy beamy smile,
And with thy airy temple crown her isle!"
The GODDESS ceased,—and calling from afar
The wandering Zephyrs, joins them to her car; 630
Mounts with light bound, and graceful, as she bends,
Whirls the long lash, the flexile rein extends;
On whispering wheels the silver axle slides,
Climbs into air, and cleaves the crystal tides;
[Page 211]Burst from its pearly chains, her amber hair 635
Streams o'er her ivory shoulders, buoy'd in air;
Swells her white veil, with ruby clasp confined
Round her fair brow, and undulates behind;
The lessening coursers rise in spiral rings,
Pierce the slow-sailing clouds, and stretch their shadowy wings.640

Verses omitted by mistake, to be inserted after line 320. Canto III. page 140.

—HERE her sad Consort, stealing through the gloom
Of murmuring cloysters, gazes on her tomb;
Hangs in mute anguish o'er the scutcheon'd hearse,
Or graves with trembling style the votive verse.
"Sexton! oh, lay beneath this sacred shrine,
When Time's cold hand shall close my aching eyes,
Oh, gently lay this wearied earth of mine,
Where wrap'd in night my loved MILCENA lies.
"So shall with purer joy my spirit move,
When the last trumpet thrills the caves of Death,
Catch the first whispers of my waking love,
And drink with holy kiss her kindling breath.
"The spotless Fair, with blush ethereal warm,
Shall hail with sweeter smile returning day,
Rise from her marble bed a brighter form,
And win on buoyant step her airy way.
"Shall bend approved, where beckoning hosts invite,
On clouds of silver her adoring knee,
Approach with Seraphim the throne of light,
—And BEAUTY plead with angel-tongue for Me!"


  • ROSICRUSIAN machinery. 73
  • All bodies are immersed in the matter of heat. Particles of bodies do not touch each other. 97
  • Gradual progress of the formation of the earth, and of plants and animals. Monstrous births 101
  • Fixed stars approach towards each other, they were projected from chaos by explosion, and the planets projected from them 105
  • An atmosphere of inflammable air above the common atmosphere principally about the poles 123
  • Twilight fifty miles high. Wants further observations 126
  • Immediate cause of volcanos from steam and other vapours. They prevent greater earthquakes 152
  • Conductors of heat. Cold on the tops of mountains 174
  • Phosphorescent light in the evening from all bodies 177
  • Phosphoric light from calcined shells. Bo­lognian stone. Experiments of Beccari and Wilson 182
  • Ignis fatuus doubtful 189
  • Electric Eel. Its electric organs. Com­pared to the electric Leyden phial 202
  • Discovery of fire. Tools of steel. Forests subdued. Quantity of food increased by cookery 212
  • Medusa originally an hieroglyphic of divine wisdom 218
  • Cause of explosions from combined heat. Heat given out from air in respiration. Oxy­gene looses less heat when converted into nitrous acid than in any other of its combina­tions 226
  • Sparks from the collision of flints are electric. From the collision of flint and steel are from the combustion of the steel 229
  • Gunpowder described by Bacon. Its power. Should be lighted in the centre. A new kind of it. Levels the weak and strong 242
  • Steam-engine invented by Savery. Im­proved by Newcomen. Perfected by Watt and Boulton 254
  • Divine benevolence. The parts of nature not of equal excellence 278
  • Mr. Boulton's steam-engine for the pur­pose of coining would save many lives from the executioner 281
  • Labours of Hercules of great antiquity. Pillars of Hercules. Surface of the Medite­ranean lower than the Atlantic. Abyla and Calpe. Flood of Deucalion 297
  • Accumulation of electricity not from fric­tion 335
  • Mr. Bennet's sensible electrometer 345
  • Halo of saints is pictorial language 358
  • We have a sense adapted to perceive heat but not electricity 365
  • Paralytic limbs move by electric influence 367
  • Death of Professor Richman by electricity 373
  • Lightning drawn from the clouds. How to be safe in thunder storms 383
  • Animal heat from air in respiration. Per­petual necessity of respiration. Spirit of ani­mation perpetually renewed 401
  • Cupid rises from the egg of night. Mrs. Cosway's painting of this subject 413
  • Western-winds. Their origin. Warmer than south-winds. Produce a thaw 430
  • Water expands in freezing. Destroys suc­culent plants, not resinous ones. Trees in valleys more liable to injury. Fig-trees bent to the ground in winter 439
  • Buds and bulbs are the winter cradle of the plant. Defended from frost and from insects. Tulip produces one flower-bulb and several leaf-bulbs, and perishes. 460
  • [Page 212] Electricity forwards the growth of plants. Silk-worms electrised spin sooner. Water de­composed in vegetables, and by electricity 463
  • Matter of heat if different from light. Ve­getables blanched by exclusion of light. Turn tht upper surface of their leaves to the light. Water decomposed as it escapes from their pores. Hence vegetables purify air in the day time only. 462
  • Sympathetic inks which appear by heat, and disappear in the cold. Made from cobalt 487
  • Star in Cassiope's chair 515
  • Ice-islands 100 fathoms deep. Sea-ice more difficult of solution. Ice evaporates producing great cold. Ice-islands increase. Should be navigated into southern climates. Some ice-islands have floated southwards 60 miles long. Steam attending them in warm climates 529
  • Monsoon cools the sands of Abyssinia 545
  • Ascending vapours are electrised plus, as appears from an experiment of Mr. Bennet. Electricity supports vapour in clouds. Thunder showers from combination of inflammable and vital airs 551
  • Solar volcanos analogous to terrestrial and lunar ones. Spots of the sun are excavations 14
  • Spherical form of the earth. Ocean from condensed vapour. Character of Mr. White­hurst 17
  • Granite the oldest part of the earth. Then limestone. And lastly, clay, iron, coal, sand­stone. Three great concentric divisions of the globe 35
  • Formation of primeval islands before the production of the moon. Paradise. The Golden Age. Rain-bow. Water of the sea originally fresh 36
  • Venus rising from the sea an hieroglyphic emblem of the production of the earth beneath the ocean 47
  • First great volcanos in the central parts of the earth. From steam, inflammable gas, and vital air. Present volcanos like mole-hills 66
  • Moon has little or no atmosphere. Its ocean is frozen. Is not yet inhabited, but may be in time 80
  • Earth's axis changed by the ascent of the moon. Its diurnal motion retarded. One great tide 82
  • Limestone produced from shells. Spars with double refractions. Marble. Chalk 91
  • Antient statues of Hercules. Antinous. Apollo. Venus. Designs of Roubiliac. Mo­nument of General Wade. Statues of Mrs. Damer 99
  • Morasses rest on limestone. Of immense extent 114
  • Salts from animal and vegetable bodies decompose each other, except marine salt. Salt mines in Poland. Timber does not decay in them. Rock-salt produced by evaporation from sea-water. Fossil shells in salt mines. Salt in hollow pyramids. In cubes. Sea-water contains about one-thirtieth of salt 117
  • Nitre, native in Bengal and Italy. Nitrous gas combined with vital air produces red clouds, and the two airs occupy less space than one of them before, and give out heat. Oxy­gene and azote produce nitrous acid 141
  • Iron from decomposed vegetables. Chaly­beat springs. Fern-leaves in nodules of iron Concentric spheres of iron nodules owing to polarity, like iron-filings arranged by a magnet. Great strata of the earth owing to their polarity 181
  • Hardness of steel for tools. Gave supe­riority to the European nations. Welding of steel. Its magnetism. Uses of gold 190
  • Artificial magnets improved by Savery and Dr. Knight, perfected by Mr. Michel. How produced. Polarity owing to the earth's rotatory motion. The electric fluid, and the matter of heat, and magnetism gravitate on each other. Magnetism being the lightest is found nearest the axis of the motion. Electri­city produces northern lights by its centrifugal motion 193
  • Acids from vegetable recrements. Flint has its acid from the new world. Its base in part from the old world, and in part from the new. Precious stones 213
  • Diamond. Its great refraction of light. Its volatibility by heat. If an inflammable body. 226
  • Fires of the new world from fermentation. Whence sulphur and bitumen by sublimation, the clay, coal, and flint remaining 273
  • Colours not distinguishable in the enamel­kiln, till a bit of dry wood Is introduced 281
  • Etrurian pottery prior to the foundations of Rome. Excelled in fine forms, and in a non-vitreous encaustic painting, which was lost till restored by Mr. Wedgwood. Still influ­ences the taste of the inhabitants 289
  • Mr. Wedgwood's cameo of a slave in chains, and of Hope 313
  • Basso-relievos of two or more colours not made by the antients. Invented by Mr. Wedgwood 340
  • [Page 213] Petroleum and naptha have been sublimed. Whence jet and amber. They absorb air. Attract straws when rubbed. Electricity from electron the greek name for amber 351
  • Clefts in granite rocks in which metals are found. Iron and manganese found in all vegetables. Manganese in limestone. Warm springs from steam rising up the clefts of granite and limestone. Ponderous earth in limestone clefts and in granite. Copper, lead, iron, from descending materials. High mountains of granite contain no ores near their summits. Transmutation of metals. Of lead into ca­lamy. Into silver 394
  • Armies of Cambyses destroyed by famine, and by sand-storms 431
  • Whirling turrets of sand described and ex­plained 474
  • Granite shews iron as it decomposes. Marble decomposes. Immense quantity of charcoal exists in limestone. Volcanic slags decompose, and become clay 519
  • Millstones raised by wooden pegs 520
  • Hannibal made a passage by fire over the Alps 527
  • Passed tense of many words twofold, as driven or drove, spoken or spoke. A poetic licence 575
  • Clouds consist of aqueous spheres, which do not easily unite, like globules of quicksilver, as may be seen in riding through water. Owing to electricity. Snow. Hailstones rounded by attrition and dissolution of their angles. Not from frozen drops of water 15
  • Dew on points and edges of grass, or hangs over cabbage-leaves, needle floats on water 18
  • Mists over rivers and on mountains. Halo round the moon. Shadow of a church-steeple upon a mist. Dry mist, or want of transpa­rency of the air, a sign of fair-weather 20
  • Tides on both sides of the earth. Moon's tides should be much greater than the earth's tides. The ocean of the moon is frozen 61
  • Spiral form of shells saves calcareous matter. Serves them as an organ of hearing. Calca­reous matter produced from inflamed mem­branes. Colours of shells, labradore-stone from mother-pearl. Fossil shells not now found recent 66
  • Sea-insects like flowers. Actinia 82
  • Production of pearls, not a disease of the fish. Crab's eyes. Reservoirs of pearly matter 84
  • Rocks of coral in the south-sea. Coralloid limestone at Linsel, and Coalbrook Dale 90
  • Rocks thrown from mountains, ice from glaciers, and portions of earth, or morasses, removed by columns of water. Earth-motion in Shropshire. Water of wells rising above the level of the ground. St. Alkmond's well near Derby might be raised many yards, so as to serve the town. Well at Sheerness, and at Hartford in Connecticut 116
  • Moonsoons attended with rain. Overflow­ing of the Nile. Vortex of ascending air. Rising of the Dogstar announces the floods of the Nile. Anubis hung out upon their temples 129
  • Situations exempt from rain. At the Line in Lower Egypt. On the coast of Peru 138
  • Giesar, a boiling fountain in Iceland. Water with great degrees of heat dissolves siliceous matter. Earthquake from steam 150
  • Warm springs not from decomposed pyrites. From steam rising up fissures from great depths 166
  • Buxton bath possesses 82 degrees of heat. Is improperly called a warm bath. A chill at immersion, and then a sensation of warmth, like the eye in an obscure room owing to increased sensibility of the skin 184
  • Water compounded of pure air and inflam­mable air with as much matter of heat as pre­serves it fluid. Perpetually decomposed by vegetables in the sun's light, and recomposed in the atmosphere 204
  • Mythological interpretation of Jupiter and Juno designed as an emblem of the composition of water from two airs 260
  • Death of Mrs. French 308
  • Tomb of Mr. Brindley 321
  • Invention of the pump. The piston lifts the atmosphere above it. The surrounding at­mosphere presses up the water into the vacuum. Manner in which a child sucks 346
  • Air-cell in engines for extinguishing fire. Water dispersed by the explosion of Gun­powder. Houses preserved from fire by earth on the floors, by a second cieling of iron-plates or coarse mortar. Wood impregnated with alabaster or flint 386
  • Muscular actions and sensations of plants 440
  • River Achelous. Horn of Plenty 475
  • Flooding lands defends them from vernal frosts. Some springs deposit calcareous earth. Some contain azotic gas, which contributes to produce nitre. Snow water less serviceable 520
  • [Page 214]Cacalia produces much honey, that a part may be taken by insects without injury 2
  • Analysis of common air. Source of azote. Of Oxygene. Water decomposed by vegetable pores and the sun's light. Blood gives out phlogiston and receives vital air. Acquires heat and the vivifying principle 34
  • Cupid and Psyche 48
  • Simoom, a pestilential wind. Described. Owing to volcanic electricity. Not a whirlwind 65
  • Contagion either animal or vegetable 85
  • Thyrsis escapes the Plague 91
  • Barometer and air-pump. Dew on ex­hausting the receiver though the hygrometer points to dryness. Rare air will dissolve or acquire more heat, and more moisture, and more electricity 128
  • Sound propagated best by dense bodies, as wood, and water, and earth. Fish in spiral shells all ear 164
  • Discoveries of Dr. Priestley. Green vege­table matter. Pure air contained in the calces of metals, as minium, manganese, calamy, ochre 166
  • Fable of Proserpine an antient chemical emblem 178
  • Diving balloons supplied with pure air from minium. Account of one by Mr. Boyle 195
  • Mr. Day. Mr. Spalding 217
  • Captain Pierce and his daughters 219
  • Pestilential winds of volcanic origin. Jor­dan flows through a country of volcanos 274
  • Change of wind owing to small causes. If the wind could be governed, the products of the earth would be doubled, and its number of inhabitants increased 308
  • Mr. Kirwan's treatise on temperature of climates 342
  • Seeds of plants. Spawn of fish. Nutri­ment lodged in seeds. Their preservation in their seed-vessels 355
  • Fixed stars approach each other 369
  • Fable of the Phoenix 377
  • Plants visible within bulbs, and buds, and seeds 383
  • Great Egg of Night 406
  • Seeds shoot into the ground. Pith. Seed-lobes. Starch converted into sugar. Like animal chyle 411
  • Light occasions the actions of vegetable muscles. Keeps them awake 422
  • Vegetable love in Parnassia, Nigella. Ve­getable adultery in Collinsonia 456
  • Strong vegetable shoots and roots bound with wire, in part debarked, whence leaf-buds converted into flower-buds. Theory of this curious fact 463
  • Branches bent to the horizon bear more fruit 466
  • Engrafting of a spotted passion-flower pro­duced spots upon the stock. Apple soft on one side and hard on the other 479
  • Cyprepedium assumes the form of a large spider to affright the humming-bird. Fly­ophris. Willow-wren sucks the honey of the crown-imperial 513
  • Diseases of plants four kinds. Honey-dew 519
  • Ergot a disease of rye 521
  • Glass unannealed. Its cracks owing to elasticity. One kind of lead-ore cracks into pieces. Prince Rupert's drops. Elastic balls 527
  • Sleep of plants. Their irritability, sensi­bility, and voluntary motions 546



Etherial Forms! you chase the shooting stars,
Or yoke the vollied lightnings to your cars.
CANTO I. 1. 115.

THERE seem to be three concentric strata of our incumbent atmosphere; in which, or between them, are produced four kinds of meteors; lightning, shooting stars, fire-balls, and northern lights. First, the lower region of air, or that which is dense enough to resist by the adhesion of its particles the descent of condensed vapour, or clouds, which may extend from one to three or four miles high. In this region the common lightning is produced from the accumulation or defect of electric matter in those floating fields of vapour either in respect to each other, or in respect to the earth beneath them, or the dissolved vapour above them, which is constantly varying both with the change of the form of the clouds, which thus evolve a greater or less surface; and also with their ever-changing degree of condensation. As the lightning is thus produced in dense air, it proceeds but a short course on account of the greater resistance which it encounters, is attended with a loud explosion, and appears with a red light.

2. The second region of the atmosphere I suppose to be that which has too little tenacity to support condensed vapour or clouds; but which yet contains invisible vapour, or water in aerial solution. This aerial solution of water differs from that dissolved in the matter of heat, as it is supported by its adhesion to the particles of air, and is not pre­cipitated by cold. In this stratum it seems probable that the meteors called shooting stars are produced; and that they consist of electric sparks, or lightning, passing from one region to another of these invisible fields of aero-aqueous solution. The height of these shooting stars has not yet been ascertained by sufficient observation; Dr. Blagden thinks their situation is lower down in the atmosphere than that of fireballs, which he conjectures from their swift apparent motion, and ascribes their smallness to the more minute division of the electric matter of which they are supposed to consist, owing to [Page 2] the geater resistance of the denser medium through which they pass, than that in which the fire-balls exist. Mr. Brydone observed that the shooting stars appeared to him to be as high in the atmosphere, when he was near the summit of mount Etna, as they do when observed from the plain. Phil. Tran. Vol. LXIII.

As the stratum of air, in which shooting stars are supposed to exist is much rarer than that in which lightning resides, and yet much denser than that in which fire­balls are produced, they will be attracted at a greater distance than the former, and at a less than the latter. From this rarity of the air so small a sound will be pro­duced by their explosion, as not to reach the lower parts of the atmosphere; their quantity of light from their greater distance being small, is never seen through dense air at all, and thence does not appear red, like lightning or fire balls. There are no apparent clouds to emit or to attract them, because the constituent parts of these aero-aqueous regions may possess an abundance or deficiency of electric matter and yet be in perfect reciprocal solution. And lastly their apparent train of light is probably owing only to a continuance of their impression on the eye; as when a fire-stick is whirled in the dark it gives the appearance of a compleat circle of fire: for these white trains of shooting stars quickly vanish, and do not seem to set any thing on fire in their passage, as seems to happen in the transit of fire-balls.

3. The second region or stratum of air terminates I suppose where the twilight ceases to be refracted, that is, where the air is 3000 times rarer than at the surface of the earth; and where it seems probable that the common air ends, and is surrounded by an atmo­sphere of inflammable gas tenfold rarer than itself. In this region I believe fire-balls sometimes to pass, and at other times the northern lights to exist. One of these fire-balls or draco volans, was observed by Dr. Pringle and many others on Nov. 26, 1758, which was afterwards estimated to have been a mile and a half in circumference, to have been about one hundred miles high, and to have moved towards the north with a velocity of near thirty miles in a second of time. This meteor had a real tail many miles long, which threw off sparks in its course, and the whole exploded with a sound like distant thunder. Philos. Trans. Vol. LI.

Dr. Blagden has related the history of another large meteor, or fire-ball, which was seen the 18th of August, 1783, with many ingenious observations and conjectures. This was estimated to be between 60 and 70 miles high, and to travel 1000 miles at the rate of about twenty miles in a second. This fire-ball had likewise a real train of light left behind it in its passage, which varied in colour; and in some part of its course gave off sparks or explosions where it had been brightest; and a dusky red streak remained visible perhaps a minute. Philos. Trans. Vol. LXXIV.

These fire-balls differ from lightning, and from shooting stars in many remarkable circumstances; as their very great bulk, being a mile and a half in diameter; their tra­velling 1000 miles nearly horizontally; their throwing off sparks in their passage; and changing colours from bright blue to dusky red; and leaving a train of fire behind them, continuing about a minute. They differ from the northern lights in not being diffused, but passing from one point of the heavens to another in a defined line; and this in a region above the crepuscular atmosphere, where the air is 3000 times rarer than at the [Page 3] surface of the earth. There has not yet been even a conjecture which can account for these appearances!—One I shall therefore hazard; which, if it does not inform, may amuse the reader.

In the note on l. 123, it was shewn that there is probably a supernatant stratum of inflammable gas or hydrogene, over the common atmosphere; and whose density at the surface where they meet, must be at least ten times less than that upon which it swims; like chemical ether floating upon water, and perhaps without any real contact. 1. In this region, where the aerial atmosphere terminates and the inflammable one begins, the quantity of tenacity or resistance must be almost inconceivable; in which a ball of elec­tricity might pass 1000 miles with greater ease than through a thousandth part of an inch of glass. 2. Such a ball of electricity passing between inflammable and common air would set fire to them in a line as it passed along; which would differ in colour accord­ing to the greater proportionate commixture of the two airs; and from the same cause there might occur greater degrees of inflammation, or branches of fire, in some parts of its course.

As these fire-balls travel in a defined line, it is pretty evident from the known laws of electricity, that they must be attracted; and as they are a mile or more in diameter, they must be emitted from a large surface of electric matter; because large nobs give larger sparks, less diffused, and more brightly luminous, than less ones or points, and resist more forceably the emission of the electric matter. What is there in nature can attract them at so great a distance as 1000 miles, and so forceably as to detach an electric spark of a mile diameter? Can volcanos at the time of their eruptions have this effect, as they are generally attended with lightning? Future observations must discover these secret operations of nature! As a stream of common air is carried along with the passage of electric aura from one body to another; it is easy to conceive, that the common air and the inflammable air between which the fire-ball is supposed to pass, will be partially intermixed by being thus agitated, and so far as it becomes intermixed it will take fire, and produce the linear flame and branching sparks above described. In this circumstance of their being attracted, and thence passing in a defined line, the fire-balls seem to differ from the coruscations of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, which probably take place in the same region of the atmosphere; where the common air exists in extreme tenuity, and is covered by a still rarer sphere of inflammable gas, ten times lighter than itself.

As the electric streams, which constitute these northern lights, seem to be repelled or radiated from an accumulation of that fluid in the north, and not attracted like the fire­balls; this accounts for the diffusion of their light, as well as the silence of their passage; while their variety of colours, and the permanency of them, and even the breadth of them in different places, may depend on their setting on fire the mixture of inflammable and common air through which they pass; as seems to happen in the transit of the fire-balls.

[Page 4] It was observed by Dr. Priestley that the electric shock taken through inflammable air was red, in common air it is blueish; to these circumstances perhaps some of the colours of the northern lights may bear analogy; though the density of the medium through which light is seen must principally vary its colour, as is well explained by Mr. Morgan. Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXV. Hence lightning is red when seen through a dark cloud, or near the horizon; because the more refrangible rays cannot permeate so dense a medium. But the shooting stars consist of white light, as they are generally seen on clear nights, and nearly vertical: in other situations their light is probably too faint to come to us. But as in some remarkable appearances of the northern lights, as in March, 1716, all the prismatic colours were seen quickly to succeed each other, these appear to have been owing to real combustion; as the density of the interposed medium could not be supposed to change so frequently; and therefore these colours must have been owing to different degrees of heat according to Mr. Morgan's theory of combustion. In Smith's Optics, p. 69. the prismatic colours, and optical deceptions of the northern lights are described by Mr. Cotes.

The Torricellian vacuum, if perfectly free from air, is said by Mr. Morgan and others to be a perfect non-conductor. This circumstance therefore would preclude the electric streams from rising above the atmosphere. But as Mr. Morgan did not try to pass an electric shock through a vacuum, and as air, or something containing air, sur­rounding the transit of electricity may be necessary to the production of light, the con­clusion may perhaps still be dubious. If however the streams of the northern lights were supposed to rise above our atmosphere, they would only be visible at each extremity of their course; where they emerge from, or are again immerged into the atmosphere; but not in their journey through the vacuum; for the absence of electric light in a vacuum is sufficiently proved by the common experiment of shaking a barometer in the dark; the electricity, produced by the friction of the mercury in the glass at its top, is luminous if the barometer has a little air in it; but there is no light if the vacuum be complete.

The aurora borealis, or northern dawn, is very ingeniously accounted for by Dr. Franklin on principles of electricity. He premises the following electric phenomena: 1. that all new fallen snow has much positive electricity standing on its surface. 2. That about twelve degrees of latitude round the poles are covered with a crust of eternal ice, which is impervious to the electric fluid. 3. That the dense part of the atmosphere rises but a few miles high; and that in the rarer parts of it the electric fluid will pass to almost any distance.

Hence he supposes there must be a great accumulation of positive electric matter on the fresh fallen snow in the polar regions; which, not being able to pass through the crust of ice into the earth, must rise into the rare air of the upper parts of our atmosphere, which will the least resist its passage; and passing towards the equator descend again into the denser atmosphere, and thence into the earth in silent streams. And that many of the appearances attending these lights are optical deceptions, owing to the situation of the eye that beholds them; which makes all ascending parallel lines appear to converge to a point.

[Page 5] The idea, above explained in note on l. 123, of the existence of a sphere of inflam­mable gas over the aerial atmosphere would much favour this theory of Dr. Franklin; because in that case the dense aerial atmosphere would rise a much less height in the polar regions, diminishing almost to nothing at the pole itself; and thus give an easier passage to the ascent of the electric fluid. And from the great difference in the specific gravity of the two airs, and the velocity of the earth's rotation, there must be a place between the poles and the equator, where the superior atmosphere of inflammable gas would terminate; which would account for these streams of the aurora borealis not appearing near the equator; add to this that it is probable the electric fluid may be heavier than the magnetic one; and will thence by the rotation of the earth's surface ascend over the magnetic one by its centrifugal force; and may thus be induced to rise through the thin stratum of aerial atmosphere over the poles. See note on Canto II. l. 193. I shall have occasion again to mention this great accumulation of inflammable air over the poles; and to conjecture that these northern lights may be pro­duced by the union of inflammable with common air, without the assistance of the electric spark to throw them into combustion.

The antiquity of the appearance of northern lights has been doubted; as none were recorded in our annals since the remarkable one on Nov. 14, 1574, till another remark­able one on March 6, 1716, and the three following nights, which were seen at the same time in Ireland, Russia, and Poland, extending near 30 degrees of longitude and from about the 50th degree of latitude over almost all the north of Europe. There is however reason to believe them of remote antiquity though inaccurately described; thus the following curious passage from the Book of Maccabees, (B. II. c. v.) is such a de­scription of them, as might probably be given by an ignorant and alarmed people. ‘Through all the city, for the space of almost forty days, there were seen horsemen run­ning in the air, in cloth of gold, and armed with lances, like a band of soldiers; and troops of horsemen in array encountering and running one against another, with shak­ing of shields and multitude of pikes, and drawing of swords, and casting of darts, and glittering of golden ornaments and harness.’


Cling round the aerial bow with prisms bright,
And pleased untwist the sevenfold threads of light.
CANTO I. l. 117.

THE manner in which the rainbow is produced was in some measure understood before Sir Isaac Newton had discovered his theory of colours. The first person who expressly shewed the rainbow to be formed by the reflection of the sunbeams from drops of falling rain was Antonio de Dominis. This was afterwards more fully and distinctly explained by Des Cartes. But what caused the diversity of its colours was not then un­derstood; it was reserved for the immortal Newton to discover that the rays of light con­sisted of seven combined colours of different refrangibility, which could be seperated at pleasure by a wedge of glass. Pemberton's View of Newton.

Sir Isaac Newton discovered that the prismatic spectrum was composed of seven colours in the following proportions, violet 80, indigo 40, blue 60, green 60, yellow 48, orange 27, red 45. If all these colours be painted on a circular card in the proportions above men­tioned, and the card be rapidly whirled on its center, they produce in the eye the sensa­tion of white. And any one of these colours may be imitated by painting a card with the two colours which are contiguous to it, in the same proportions as in the spectrum, and whirling them in the same manner.

My ingenious friend, Mr. Galton of Birmingham, ascertained in this manner by a set of experiments the following propositions; the truth of which he had preconceived from the above data.

1. Any colour in the prismatic spectrum may be imitated by a mixture of the two colours contiguous to it.

2. If any three successive colours in the prismatic spectrum are mixed, they compose only the second or middlemost colour.

3. If any four successive colours in the prismatic spectrum be mixed, a tint similar to a mixture of the second and third colours will be produced, but not precisely the same, because they are not in the same proportion.

4. If beginning with any colour in the circular spectrum, you take of the second colour a quantity equal to the first, second, and third; and add to that the fifth colour, equal in quantity to the fourth, fifth, and sixth; and with these combine the seventh colour in the proportion it exists in the spectrum, white will be produced. Because the first, second, and third, compose only the second; and the fourth, fifth, and sixth, com­pose only the fifth; therefore if the seventh be added, the same effect is produced, as if all the seven were employed.

5. Beginning with any colour in the circular spectrum, if you take a tint composed of a certain proportion of the second and third, (equal in quantity to the first, second, third, and fourth,) and add to this the sixth colour equal in quantity to the fifth, sixth, and seventh, white will be produced.

[Page 7] From these curious experiments of Mr. Galton many phenomena in the chemical changes of colours may probably become better understood; especially if, as I suppose, the same theory must apply to transmitted colours, as to reflected ones. Thus it is well known, that if the glass of mangonese, which is a tint probably composed of violet and indigo, be mixed in a certain proportion with the glass of lead, which is yellow; that the mixture becomes transparent. Now from Mr. Galton's experiments it appears, that in reflected colours such a mixture would produce white, that is, the same as if all the colours were reflected. And therefore in transmitted colours the same circumstances must pro­duce transparency, that is, the same as if all the colours were transmitted. For the particles, which constitute the glass of mangonese will transmit red, violet, indigo, and blue; and those of the glass of lead will transmit orange, yellow, and green; hence all the primary colours by a mixture of these glasses become transmitted, that is, the glass becomes transparent.

Mr. Galton has further observed that five successive prismatic colours may be com­bined in such proportions as to produce but one colour, a circumstance which might be of consequence in the art of painting. For if you begin at any part of the circular spectrum above described, and take the first, second, and third colours in the proportions in which they exist in the spectrum; these will compose only the second colour equal in quantity to the first, second, and third; add to these the third, fourth, and fifth in the proportion they exist in the spectrum, and these will produce the fourth colour equal in quantity to the third, fourth, and fifth. Consequently this is precisely the same thing, as mixing the second and fourth colours only; which mixture would only produce the third colour. Therefore if you combine the first, second, fourth, and fifth in the proportions in which they exist in the spectrum, with double the quantity of the third colour, this third colour will be produced. It is probable that many of the unexpected changes in mixing colours on a painter's easle, as well as in more fluid chemical mixtures, may depend on these principles rather than on a new arrangement or combination of their minute particles.

Mr. Galton further observes, that white may universally be produced by the com­bination of one prismatic colour, and a tint intermediate to two others. Which tint may be distinguished by a name compounded of the two colours, to which it is intermediate. Thus white is produced by a mixture of red with blue-green. Of orange with indigo­blue. Of Yellow with violet-indigo. Of green with red-violet. Of blue with Orange-red. Of indigo with yellow-orange. Of violet with green-yellow. Which he further remarks exactly coincides with the theory and facts mentioned by Dr. Robert Darwin of Shrews­bury in his account of ocular spectra; who has shewn that when one of these contrasted colours has been long viewed, a spectrum or appearance of the other becomes visible in the fatigued eye. Philos. Trans. Vol. LXXVI. for the year 1786.

These experiments of Mr. Galton might much assist the copper-plate printers of callicoes and papers in colours; as three colours or more might be produced by two copper-plates. Thus suppose some yellow figures were put on by the first plate, and upon some parts of these yellow figures and on other parts of the ground blue was laid on by another copper-plate. The three colours of yellow, blue, and green might be produced; as green leaves with yellow and blue flowers.


Eve's silken couch with gorgeous tints adorn,
Or fire the arrowy throne of rising morn.
CANTO I. l. 119.

THE rays from the rising and setting sun are refracted by our spherical atmosphere, hence the most refrangible rays, as the violet, indigo, and blue are reflected in greater quantities from the morning and evening skies; and the least refrangible ones, as red and orange, are last seen about the setting sun. Hence Mr. Beguelin observed that the shadow of his finger on his pocket-book was much bluer in the morning and evening, when the shadow was about eight times as long as the body from which it was projected. Mr. Melville observes, that the blue rays being more refrangible are bent down in the evenings by our atmosphere, while the red and orange being less refrangible continue to pass on and tinge the morning and evening clouds with their colours. See Priestley's History of Light and Colours, p. 440. But as the particles of air, like those of water, are themselves blue, a blue shadow may be seen at all times of the day, though much more beautifully in the mornings and evenings, or by means of a candle in the middle of the day. For if a shadow on a piece of white paper is produced by placing your finger between the paper and a candle in the day light, the shadow will appear very blue; the yellow light of the candle upon the other parts of the paper apparently deepens the blue by its contrast; these colours being opposite to each other, as explained in note II.

Colours are produced from clouds or mists by refraction, as well as by reflection. In riding in the night over an unequal country I observed a very beautiful coloured halo round the moon, whenever I was covered with a few feet of mist, as I ascended from the vallies; which ceased to appear when I rose above the mist. This I suppose was owing to the thinness of the stratum of mist, in which I was immersed; had it been thicker, the colours refracted by the small drops, of which a fog consists, would not have passed through it down to my eye.

There is a bright spot seen on the cornea of the eye, when we face a window, which is much attended to by portrait painters; this is the light reflected from the spherical surface of the polished cornea, and brought to a focus; if the observer is placed in this focus, he sees the image of the window; if he is placed before or behind the focus, he only sees a luminous spot, which is more luminous and of less extent, the nearer he approaches to the focus. The luminous appearance of the eyes of animals in the dusky corners of a room, or in holes in the earth, may arise in some instances from the same principle; viz. the reflection of the light from the spherical cornea; which will be coloured red or blue in some degree by the morning, evening, or meridian light; or by the objects from which that light is previously reflected. In the cavern at Colebrook Dale, where the mineral tar exsudes, the eyes of the horse, which was drawing a cart from within [Page 9] towards the mouth of it, appeared like two balls of phosphorus, when he was above 100 yards off, and for a long time before any other part of the animal was visible. In this case I suspect the luminous appearance to have been owing to the light, which had entered the eye, being reflected from the back surface of the vitreous humour, and thence emerg­ing again in parallel rays from the animals eye, as it does from the back surface of the drops of the rainbow, and from the water-drops which lie, perhaps without contact, on cabbage leaves, and have the brilliancy of quicksilver. This accounts for this luminous appearance being best seen in those animals which have large apertures in their iris, as in cats and horses, and is the only part visible in obscure places, because this is a better re­flecting surface than any other part of the animal. If any of these emergent rays from the animals eye can be supposed to have been reflected from the choroid coat through the semi-transparent retina, this would account for the coloured glare of the eyes of dogs or cats and rabits in dark corners.


Alarm with comet-blaze the sapphire plain,
The wan stars glimmering through its silver train.
CANTO I. l. 134.

THERE have been many theories invented to account for the tails of comets. Sir Isaac Newton thinks that they consist of rare vapours raised from the nucleus of the comet, and so rarefied by the sun's heat as to have their general gravitation diminished, and that they in consequence ascend opposite to the sun, and from thence reflect the rays of light. Dr. Halley compares the light of the tails of comets to the streams of the aurora berealis, and other electric effluvia. Philos. Trans. No. 347.

Dr. Hamilton observes that the light of small stars are seen undiminished through both the light of the tails of comets, and of the aurora borealis, and has further illustrated their electric analogy, and adds that the tails of comets consist of a lucid self-shining sub­stance which has not the power of refracting or reflecting the rays of light. Essays.

The tail of the comet of 1744 at one time appeared to extend above 16 degrees from its body, and must have thence been above twenty three millions of miles long. And the comet of 1680, according to the calculations of Dr. Halley on November the 11th, was not above one semi-diameter of the earth, or less than 4000 miles to the northward of the way of the earth; at which time had the earth been in that part of its orbit, what might have been the consequence! no one would probably have survived to have registered the tremendous effects.

[Page 10] The comet of 1531, 1607, and 1682 having returned in the year 1759, according to Dr. Halley's prediction in the Philos. Trans. for 1705, there seems no reason to doubt that all the other comets will return after their proper periods. Astronomers have in general acquiesced in the conjecture of Dr. Halley, that the comets of 1532, and 1661 are one and the same comet, from the similarity of the elements of their orbits, and were therefore induced to expect its return to its perihelium 1789. As this comet is liable to be disturbed in its ascent from the sun by the planets Jupiter and Saturn, Dr. Maskelyne expected its return to its perihelium in the beginning of the year 1789, or the latter end of the year 1788, and certainly sometime before the 27th of April, 1789, which pre­diction has not been fulfilled. Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXVI.


Or give the sun's phlogistic orb to roll.
CANTO I. l. 136.

THE dispute among philosophers about phlogiston is not concerning the existence of an inflammable principle, but rather whether there be one or more inflammable principles. The disciples of Stahl, which till lately included the whole chemical world, believed in the identity of phlogiston in all bodies which would flame or calcine. The disciples of Lavoisier pay homage to a plurality of phlogistons under the various names of charcoal, sulphur, metals, &c. Whatever will unite with pure air, and thence compose an acid, is esteemed in this ingenious theory to be a different kind of phlogistic or inflammable body. At the same time there remains a doubt whether these inflammable bodies, as metals, sulphur, charcoal, &c. may not be compounded of the same phlogiston along with some other material yet undiscovered, and thus an unity of phlogiston exist, as in the theory of Stahl, though very differently applied in the explication of chemical phenomena.

Some modern philosophers are of opinion that the sun is the great fountain from which the earth and other planets derive all the phlogiston which they posses; and that this is formed by the combination of the solar rays with all opake bodies, but particularly with the leaves of vegetables, which they suppose to be organs adapted to absorb them. And that as animals receive their nourishment from vegetables they also obtain in a secondary manner their phlogiston from the sun. And lastly as great masses of the mineral kingdom, which have been found in the thin crust of the earth which human labour has penetrated, have evidently been formed from the recrements of animal and vegetable bodies, these also are supposed thus to have derived their phlogiston from the sun.

Another opinion concerning the sun's rays is, that they are not luminous till they arrive at our atmosphere; and that there uniting with some part of the air they produce [Page 11] combustion, and light is emitted, and that an etherial acid, yet undiscovered, is formed from this combustion.

The more probable opinion is perhaps, that the sun is a phlogistic mass of matter, whose surface is in a state of combustion, which like other burning bodies emits light with immense velocity in all directions; that these rays of light act upon all opake bodies, and combining with them either displace or produce their elementary heat, and become chemically combined with the phlogistic part of them; for light is given out when phlogistic bodies unite with the oxygenous principle of the air, as in combustion, or in the reduction of metallic calxes; thus in presenting to the flame of a candle a letter­wafer, (if it be coloured with red-lead,) at the time the red-lead becomes a metallic drop, a flash of light is perceived. Dr. Alexander Wilson very ingeniously endeavours to prove that the sun is only in a state of combustion on its surface, and that the dark spots seen on the disk are excavations or caverns through the luminous crust, some of which are 4000 miles in diameter. Phil. Trans. 1774. Of this I shall have occasion to speak again.


Round her still centre tread the burning soil,
And watch the billowy Lavas, as they boil.
CANTO I. 1. 139.

M. DE MAIRAN in a paper published in the Histoire de l'Academic de Sciences, 1765, has endeavoured to shew that the earth receives but a small part of the heat which it possesses, from the sun's rays, but is principally heated by fires within itself. He thinks the sun is the cause of the vicissitudes of our seasons of summer and winter by a very small quantity of heat in addition to that already residing in the earth, which by emana­tions from the centre to the circumference renders the surface habitable, and without which, though the sun was constantly to illuminate two thirds of the globe at once, with a heat equal to that at the equator, it would soon become a mass of solid ice. His reasonings and calculations on this subject are too long and too intricate to be in­serted here, but are equally curious and ingenious and carry much conviction along with them.

The opinion that the center of the earth consists of a large mass of burning lava, has been espoused by Boyle, Boerhave, and many other philosophers. Some of whom con­sidering its supposed effects on vegetation and the formation of minerals have called it a second sun. There are many arguments in support of this opinion. 1. Because the power of the sun does not extend much beyond ten feet deep into the earth, all below being in winter and summer always of the same degree of heat, viz. 48, which being [Page 12] much warmer than the mildest frost, is supposed to be sustained by some internal distant fire. Add to this however that from experiments made some years ago by Dr. Franklin the spring-water at Philadelphia appeared to be of 52° of heat, which seems further to confirm this opinion, since the climates in North America are supposed to be colder than those of Europe under similar degrees of latitude. 2. Mr. De Luc in going 1359 feet perpendicular into the mines of Hartz on July the 5th, 1778, on a very fine day found the air at the bottom a little warmer than at the top of the shaft. Phil. Trans. Vol. LXIX. p. 488. In the mines in Hungary, which are 500 cubits deep, the heat becomes very troublesome when the miners get below 480 feet depth. Morinus de Locis subter. p. 131. But as some other deep mines as mentioned by Mr. Kirwan are said to possess but the common heat of the earth; and as the crust of the globe thus penetrated by human labour is so thin compared with the whole, no certain deduction can be made from these facts on either side of the question. 3. The warm-springs in many parts of the earth at great distance from any Volcanos seem to originate from the condensation of vapours arising from water which is boiled by subterraneous fires, and cooled again in their pas­sage through a certain length of the colder soil; for the theory of chemical solution will not explain the equality of their heat at all seasons and through so many centuries. See note on Fucus in Vol. II. See a letter on this subject in Mr. Pilkinton's View of Derby­shire from Dr. Darwin. 4. From the situations of volcanos which are always found upon the summit of the highest mountains. For as these mountains have been lifted up and lose several of their uppermost strata as they rise, the lowest strata of the earth yet known appear at the tops of the highest hills; and the beds of the Volcanos upon these hills must in consequence belong to the lowest strata of the earth, consisting perhaps of granite or basaltes, which were produced before the existance of animal or vegetable bodies, and might constitute the original nucleus of the earth, which I have supposed to have been projected from the sun, hence the volcanos themselves appear to be spira­cula or chimneys belonging to great central fires. It is probably owing to the escape of the elastic vapours from these spiracula that the modern earthquakes are of such small ex­tent compared with those of remote antiquity, of which the vestiges remain all over the globe. 5. The great size and height of the continents, and the great size and depth of the South-sea, Atlantic, and other oceans, evince that the first earthquakes, which pro­duced these immense changes in the globe, must have been occasioned by central fires. 6. The very distant and expeditious communication of the shocks of some great earth­quakes. The earthquake at Lisbon in 1755 was perceived in Scotland, in the Peak of Derbyshire, and in many other distant parts of Europe. The percussions of it travelled with about the velocity of sound, viz. about thirteen miles in a minute. The earthquake in 1693 extended 2600 leagues. (Goldsmith's History.) These phenomena are easily ex­plained if the central parts of the earth consist of a fluid lava, as a percussion on one part of such a fluid mass would be felt on other parts of its confining vault, like a stroke on a fluid contained in a bladder, which however gentle on one side is perceptible to the hand placed on the other; and the velocity with which such a concussion would travel would be that of sound, or thirteen miles in a minute. For further information on this part of the subject the reader is referred to Mr. Michell's excellent Treatise on Earthquakes in the [Page 13] Philos. Trans. Vol. LI. 7. That there is a cavity at the center of the earth is made pro­bable by the late experiments on the attraction of mountains by Mr. Maskerlyne, who sup­posed from other considerations that the density of the earth near the surface should be five times less than its mean density. Phil. Trans. Vol. LXV. p. 498. But found from the attraction of the mountain Schehallien, that it is probable, the mean density of the earth is but double that of the hill. Ibid. p. 532. Hence if the first supposition be well founded there would appear to be a cavity at the centre of considerable magnitude, from whence the immense beds and mountains of lava, toadstone, basaltes, granite, &c. have been protruded. 8. The variation of the compass can only be accounted for by sup­posing the central parts of the earth to consist of a fluid mass, and that part of this fluid is iron, which requiring a greater degree of heat to bring it into fusion than glass or other metals, remains a solid, and the vis inertiae of this fluid mass with the iron in it, occasions it to perform sewer revolutions than the crust of solid earth over it, and thus it is gradu­ally left behind, and the place where the floating iron resides is pointed to by the direct or retrograde motions of the magnetic needle. This seems to have been nearly the opinion of Dr. Halley and Mr. Euler.


Or sphere on sphere in widening waves expand,
And glad with genial warmth the incumbent land.
CANTO I. l. 143.

A CERTAIN quantity of heat seems to be combined with all bodies besides the sensible quantity which gravitates like the electric fluid amongst them. This combined heat or latent heat of Dr. Black, when set at liberty by fermentation, inflammation, crystallization, freezing, or other chemical attractions producing new combinations, passes as a fluid element into the surrounding bodies. And by thawing, diffusion of neutral salts in water, melting, and other chemical solutions, a portion of heat is attracted from the bodies in vicinity and enters into or becomes combined with the new solutions.

Hence a combination of metals with acids, of essential oils and acids, of alcohol and water, of acids and water, give out heat; whilst a solution of snow in water or in acids, and of neutral salts in water, attract heat from the surrounding bodies. So the acid of nitre mixed with oil of cloves unites with it and produces a most violent flame; the same acid of nitre poured on snow instantly dissolves it and produces the greatest degree of cold yet known, by which at Petersburgh quicksilver was first frozen in 1760.

Water may be cooled below 32° without being frozen, if it be placed on a solid floor and secured from agitation, but when thus cooled below the freezing point the least [Page 14] agitation turns part of it suddenly into ice, and when this sudden freezing takes place a thermometer placed in it instantly rises as some heat is given out in the act of congelation, and the ice is thus left with the same sensible degree of cold as the water had possessed before it was agitated, but is nevertheless now combined with less latent heat.

A cubic inch of water thus cooled down to 32° mixed with an equal quantity of boil­ing water at 212° will cool it to the middle number between these two, or to 122. But a cubit inch of ice whose sensible cold also is but 32, mixed with an equal quantity of boiling water, will cool it six times as much as the cubic inch of cold water above­mentioned, as the ice not only gains its share of the sensible or gravitating heat of the boiling water but attracts to itself also and combines with the quantity of latent heat which it had lost at the time of its congelation.

So boiling water will acquire but 212° of heat under the common pressure of the at­mosphere, but the steam raised from it by its expansion or by its solution in the atmo­sphere combines with and carries away a prodigious quantity of heat which it again parts with on its condensation; as is seen in common distillation where the large quantity of water in the worm-tub is so soon heated. Hence the evaporation of ether on a ther­mometer soon sinks the mercury below freezing, and hence a warmth of the air in winter frequently succeeds a shower.

When the matter of heat or calorique is set at liberty from its combinations, as by inflammation, it passes into the surrounding bodies, which possess different capacities of acquiring their share of the loose or sensible heat; thus a pint measure of cold water at 48° mixed with a pint of boiling water at 212° will cool it to the degree between these two numbers, or to 154°, but it requires two pint measures of quicksilver at 48° of heat to cool one pint of water as above. These and other curious experiments are adduced by Dr. Black to evince the existance of combined or latent heat in bodies, as has been ex­plained by some of his pupils, and well illustrated by Dr. Crawford. The world has long been in expectation of an account of his discoveries on this subject by the celebrated author himself.

As this doctrine of elementary heat in its fluid and combined state is not yet univer­sally received, I shall here add two arguments in support of it drawn from different sources, viz. from the heat given out or absorbed by the mechanical condensation or expansion of the air, and perhaps of other bodies, and from the analogy of the various phenomena of heat with those of electricity.

I. If a thermometer be placed in the receiver of an air-pump, and the air hastily ex­hausted, the thermometer will sink some degrees, and the glass become steamy; the same occurs in hastily admitting a part of the air again. This I suppose to be produced by the expansion of part of the air, both during the exhaustion and re-admission of it; and that the air so expanded becomes capable of attracting from the bodies in its vicinity a part of their heat, hence the vapours contained in it and the glass receiver are for a time colder and the steam is precipitated. That the air thus parts with its moisture from the cold occasioned by its rarefaction and not simply by the rarefaction itself is evident, because in a minute or two the same rarefied air will again take up the dew deposited on the receiver; and because water will evaporate sooner in rare than in dense air.

[Page 15] There is a curious phenomenon similar to this observed in the fountain of Hiero con­structed on a large scale at the Chemnicensian mines in Hungary. In this machine the air in a large vessel is compressed by a column of water 260 feet high, a stop-cock is then opened, and as the air issues out with great vehemence, and thus becomes immediately greatly expanded, so much cold is produced that the moisture from this stream of air is precipitated in the form of snow, and ice is formed adhering to the nosel of the cock. This remarkable circumstance is described at large with a plate of the machine in Philos. Trans. Vol. LII. for 1761.

The following experiment is related by Dr. Darwin in the Philos. Trans. Vol. LXXVIII. Having charged an air-gun as forcibly as he well could the air-cell and syringe became exceedingly hot, much more so than could be ascribed to the friction in working it; it was then left about half an hour to cool down to the temperature of the air, and a thermometer having been previously fixed against a wall, the air was discharged in a con­tinual stream on its bulb, and it sunk many degrees. From these three experiments of the steam in the exhaustéd receiver being deposited and re-absorbed, when a part of the air is exhausted or re-admitted, and the snow produced by the fountain of Hiero, and the extraordinary heat given out in charging, and the cold produced in discharging an air-gun, there is reason to conclude that when air is mechanically compressed the elementary fluid heat is pressed out of it, and that when it is mechanically expanded the same fluid heat is re-absorbed from the common mass.

It is probable all other bodies as well as air attract heat from their neighbours when they are mechanically expanded, and give it out when they are mechanically condensed. Thus when a vibration of the particles of hard bodies is excited by friction or by per­cussion, these particles mutually recede from and approach each other reciprocally; at the times of their recession from each other, the body becomes enlarged in bulk, and is then in a condition to attract heat from those in its vicinity with great and sudden power; at the times of their approach to each other this heat is again given out, but the bodies in contact having in the mean while received the heat they had thus lost, from other bodies behind them, do not so suddenly or so forcibly re-absorb the heat again from the body in vibration; hence it remains on its surface like the electric fluid on a rubbed glass globe, and for the same reason, because there is no good conductor to take it up again. Hence at every vibration more and more heat is acquired and stands loose upon the sur­face; as in filing metals or rubbing glass tubes; and thus a smith with a few strokes on a nail on his anvil can make it hot enough to light a brimstone-match; and hence in striking flint and steel together heat enough is produced to vitrify the parts thus strucken off, the quantity of which heat is again probably increased by the new chemical com­bination.

II. The analogy between the phenomena of the electric fluid and of heat furnishes another argument in support of the existence of heat as a gravitating fluid. 1. They are both accumulated by friction on the excited body. 2. They are propagated easily or with difficalty along the same classes of bodies; with ease by metals, with less ease by water; and with difficulty by resins, bees-wax, silk, air, and glass. Thus glass canes or canes of sealing-wax may be melted by a blow-pipe or a candle within a quarter of an [Page 16] inch of the fingers which hold them, without any inconvenient heat, while a pin or other metallic substance applyed to the flame of a candle so readily conducts the heat as immediately to burn the fingers. Hence clothes of silk keep the body warmer than clothes of linen of equal thickness, by confining the heat upon the body. And hence plains are so much warmer than the summits of mountains by the greater density of the air con­fining the acquired heat upon them. 3. They both give out light in their passage through air, perhaps not in their passage through a vacuum. 4. They both of them fuse or vitrify metals. 5. Bodies after being electrized if they are mechanically ex­tended will receive a greater quantity of electricity, as in Dr. Franklin's experiment of the chain in the tankard; the same seems true in respect to heat as explained above. 6. Both heat and electricity contribute to suspend steam in the atmosphere by producing or increasing the repulsion of its particles. 7. They both gravitate, when they have been accumulated, till they find their equilibrium.

If we add to the above the many chemical experiments which receive an easy and ele­gant explanation from the supposed matter of heat, as employed in the works of Bergman and Lavoisier, I think we may reasonably allow of its existence as an element, occasionally combined with other bodies, and occasionally existing as a fluid, like the electric fluid gravitating amongst them, and that hence it may be propagated from the central fires of the earth to the whole mass, and contribute to preserve the mean heat of the earth, which in this country is about 48 degrees but variable from the greater or less effect of the sun's heat in different climates, so well explained in Mr. Kirwan's Treatise on the Temperature of different Latitudes. 1787, Elmsly. London.


So to the sacred Sun in Memnon's fane
Spontaneous concords quired the matin strain.
CANTO I. l. 181.

THE gigantic statue of Memnon in his temple at Thebes had a lyre in his hands, which many credible writers assure us, sounded when the rising sun shone upon it. Some philo­sophers have supposed that the sun's light possesses a mechanical impulse, and that the sounds abovementioned might be thence produced. Mr. Michell constructed a very tender hori­zontal balance, as related by Dr. Priestley in his history of light and colours, for this pur­pose, but some experiments with this balance which I saw made by the late Dr. Powel, who threw the focus of a large reflector on one extremity of it, were not conclusive eitherway, as the copper leaf of the balance approached in one experiment and receded in another.

There are however methods by which either a rotative or alternating motion may be produced by very moderate degrees of heat. If a straight glass tube, such as are used for barometers, be suspended horizontally before a fire, like a roasting spit, it will revolve by intervals; for as glass is a bad conductor of heat the side next the fire becomes heated sooner than the opposite side, and the tube becomes bent into a bow with the external part of the curve towards the fire, this curve then falls down and produces a fourth part of a revolution of the glass tube, which thus revolves with intermediate pauses.

Another alternating motion I have seen produced by suspending a glass tube about eight inches long with bulbs at each end on a centre like a scale beam. This curious machine is filled about one third part with purest spirit of wine, the other two thirds being a vacuum, and is called a pulse-glass, if it be placed in a box before the fire, so that either bulb, as it rises, may become shaded from the fire, and exposed to it when it descends, an alternate libration of it is produced. For spirit of wine in vacuo emits steam by a very small degree of heat, and this steam forces the spirit beneath it up into the upper bulb, which therefore descends. It is probable such a machine on a larger scale might be of use to open the doors or windows of hot-houses or mellon-frames, when the air within them should become too much heated, or might be employed in more important me­chanical purposes.

On travelling through a hot summer's day in a chaise with a box covered with leather on the fore-axle-tree, I observed, as the sun shone upon the black leather, the box began to open its lid, which at noon rose above a foot, and could not without great force be pressed down; and which gradually closed again as the sun declined in the evening. This I suppose might with still greater facility be applied to the purpose of opening melon­frames or the sashes of hot-houses.

The statue of Memnon was overthrown and sawed in two by Cambyses to discover its internal structure, and is said still to exist. See Savary's Letters on Egypt. The trun­cated statue is said for many centuries to have saluted the rising sun with chearful tones, and the setting sun with melancholy ones.


Star of the earth, and diamond of the night.
CANTO I. l. 192.

THERE are eighteen species of Lampyris or glow-worm, according to Linneus, some of which are found in almost every part of the world. In many of the species the females have no wings, and are supposed to be discovered by the winged males by their shining in the night. They become much more lucid when they put themselves in motion, which would seem to indicate that their light is owing to their respiration; in which process it is probable phosphoric acid is produced by the combination of vital air with some part of the blood, and that light is given out through their transparent bodies by this slow internal combustion.

There is a fire-fly of the beetle-kind described in the Dict. Raisonné under the name of Acudia, which is said to be two inches long, and inhabits the West-Indies and South America; the natives use them instead of candles, putting from one to three of them under a glass. Madam Merian says, that at Surinam the light of this fly is so great, that she saw sufficiently well by one of them to paint and finish one of the figures of them in her work on insects. The largest and oldest of them are said to become four inches long, and to shine like a shooting star as they fly, and are thence called Lantern­bearers. The use of this light to the insect itself seems to be that it may not fly against objects in the night; by which contrivance these insects are enabled to procure their sustenance either by night or day, as their wants may require, or their numerous enemies permit them; whereas some of our beetles have eyes adapted only to the night, and if they happen to come abroad too soon in the evening are so dazzled that they fly against every thing in their way. See note on Phosphorus, No. X.

In some seas, as particularly about the coast of Malabar, as a ship floats along, it seems during the night to be surrounded with fire, and to leave a long tract of light behind it. Whenever the sea is gently agitated it seems converted into little stars, every drop as it breaks emits light, like bodies electrified in the dark. Mr. Bomare says, that when he was at the port of Cettes in Languedoc, and bathing with a companion in the sea after a very hot day, they both appeared covered with fire after every immersion, and that laying his wet hand on the arm of his companion, who had not then dipped himself, the exact mark of his hand and fingers was seen in characters of fire. As numerous micro­scopic insects are found in this shining water, its light has been generally ascribed to them, though it seems probable that fish-slime in hot countries may become in such a state of incipient putrefaction as to give light, especially when by agitation it is more ex­posed to the air; otherwise it is not easy to explain why agitation should be necessary to produce this marine light. See note on Phosphorus No. X.


Or mark in shining letters Kunckel's name
In the pale phosphor's self-consuming flame.
CANTO I. l. 237.

KUNCKEL, a native of Hamburgh, was the first who discovered to the world the process for producing phosphorus; though Brandt and Boyle were likewise said to have previously had the art of making it. It was obtained from sal microcosmicum by evaporation in the form of an acid, but has since been found in other animal substances, as in the ashes of bones, and even in some vegetables, as in wheat flour. Keir's chemical Dict. This phosphoric acid is like all other acids united with vital air, and requires to be treated with charcoal or phlogiston to deprive it of this air, it then becomes a kind of animal sulphur, but of so inflammable a nature, that on the access of air it takes fire spontaneously, and as it burns becomes again united with vital air, and re-assumes its form of phosphoric acid.

As animal respiration seems to be a kind of slow combustion, in which it is probable that pbosphoric acid is produced by the union of phosphorus with the vital air, so it is also probable that phosphoric acid is produced in the excretory or respiratory vessels of luminous insects, as the glow-worm and fire-fly, and some marine insects. From the same principle I suppose the light from putrid fish, as from the heads of hadocks, and from putrid veal, and from rotten wood in a certain state of their putrefaction, is pro­duced, and phosphorus thus slowly combined with air is changed into phosphoric acid. The light from the Bolognian stone, and from calcined shells, and from white paper, and linen after having been exposed for a time to the sun's light, seem to produce either the phosphoric or some other kind of acid from the sulphurous or phlogistic matter which they contain. See note on Beccari's shells. l. 180.

There is another process seems similar to this slow combustion, and that is bleaching. By the warmth and light of the sun the water sprinkled upon linen or cotton cloth seems to be decomposed, (if we credit the theory of M. Lavoisier,) and a part of the vital air thus set at liberty and uncombined and not being in its elastic form, more easily dissolves the colouring or phlogistic matter of the cloth, and produces a new acid, which is itself colourless, or is washed out of the cloth by water. The new process of bleaching con­firms a part of this theory, for by uniting much vital air to marine acid by distilling it from manganese, on dipping the cloth to be bleached in water repleat with this super­aerated marine acid, the colouring matter disappears immediately, sooner indeed in cotton than in linen. See note XXXIV.

There is another process which I suspect bears analogy to these above-mentioned, and that is the rancidity of animal fat, as of bacon; if bacon be hung up in a warm kitchen, with much salt adhering on the outside of it, the fat part of it soon becomes [Page 20] yellow and rancid; if it be washed with much cold water after it has imbibed the salt, and just before it is hung up, I am well informed, that it will not become rancid, or in very slight degrees. In the former case I imagine the salt on the surface of the bacon attracts water during the cold of the night, which is evaporated during the day, and that in this evaporation a part of the water becomes decomposed, as in bleaching, and its vital air uniting with greater facility in its unelastic state with the animal fat, produces an acid, perhaps of the phosphoric kind, which being of a fixed nature lies upon the bacon, giving it the yellow colour and rancid taste. It is remarkable that the super­aerated marine acid does not bleach living animal substances, at least it did not whiten a part of my hand which I for some minutes exposed to it.


Quick moves the balanced beam, of giant-birth,
Wields his large limbs, and nodding shakes the earth.
CANTO I. l. 267.

THE expansive force of steam was known in some degree to the antients, Hero of Alexandria describes an application of it to produce a rotative motion by the re-action of steam issuing from a sphere mounted upon an axis, through two small tubes bent into tangents, and issuing from the opposite sides of the equatorial diameter of the sphere, the sphere was supplied with steam by a pipe communicating with a pan of boiling water, and entering the sphere at one of its poles.

A french writer about the year 1630 describes a method of raising water to the upper part of a house by filling a chamber with steam, and suffering it to condense of itself, but it seems to have been mere theory, as his method was scarcely practicable as he describes it. In 1655 the Marquis of Worcester mentions a method of raising water by fire in his Century of Inventions, but he seems only to have availed himself of the expansive force and not to have known the advantages arising from condensing the steam by an injection of cold water. This latter and most important improvement seems to have been made by Capt. Savery sometime prior to 1698, for in that year his patent for the use of that invention was confirmed by act of parliament. This gentleman appears to have been the first who reduced the machine to practice and exhibited it in an useful form. This method consisted only in expelling the air from a vessel by steam and condensing the steam by an injection of cold water, which making a vacuum, the pressure of the atmo­sphere forced the water to ascend into the steam-vessel through a pipe of 24 to 26 feet [Page 21] high, and by the admission of dense steam from the boiler, forcing the water in the steam­vessel to ascend to the height desired. This construction was defective because it required very strong vessels to resist the force of the steam, and because an enormous quantity of steam was condensed by coming in contact with the cold water in the steam-vessel.

About or soon after that time M. Papin attempted a steam-engine on similar principles but rather more defective in its construction.

The next improvement was made very soon afterwards by Messrs. Newcomen and Cawley of Dartmouth, it consisted in employing for the steam-vessel a hollow cylinder, shut at bottom and open at top, furnished with a piston sliding easily up and down in it, and made tight by oakum or hemp, and covered with water. This piston is suspended by chains from one end of a beam, moveable upon an axis in the middle of its length, to the other end of this beam are suspended the pump-rods.

The danger of bursting the vessels was avoided in this machine, as however high the water was to be raised it was not necessary to increase the density of the steam but only to enlarge the diameter of the cylinder.

Another advantage was, that the cylinder not being made so cold as in Savary's method, much less steam was lost in filling it after each condensation.

The machine however still remained imperfect, for the cold water thrown into the cylinder acquired heat from the steam it condensed, and being in a vessel exhausted of air it produced steam itself, which in part resisted the action of the atmosphere on the piston; were this remedied by throwing in more cold water the destruction of steam in the next filling of the cylinder would be proportionally increased. It has therefore in practice been found adviseable not to load these engines with columns of water weighing more than seven pounds for each square inch of the area of the piston. The bulk of water when converted into steam remained unknown until Mr. J. Watt, then of Glasgow, in 1764, determined it to be about 1800 times more rare than water. It soon occurred to Mr. Watt that a perfect engine would be that in which no steam should be condensed in filling the cylinder, and in which the steam should be so perfectly cooled as to produce nearly a perfect vacuum.

Mr. Watt having ascertained the degree of heat in which water boiled in vacuo, and under progressive degrees of pressure, and instructed by Dr. Black's discovery of latent heat, having calculated the quantity of cold water necessary to condense certain quantities of steam so far as to produce the exhaustion required, he made a communication from the cylinder to a cold vessel previously exhausted of air and water, into which the steam rushed by its elasticity, and became immediately condensed. He then adapted a cover to the cylinder and admitted steam above the piston to press it down instead of air, and instead of applying water he used oil or grease to fill the pores of the oakum and to lubri­cate the cylinder.

He next applied a pump to extract the injection water, the condensed steam, and the air, from the condensing vessel, every stroke of the engine.

[Page 22] To prevent the cooling of the cylinder by the contact of the external air, he sur­rounded it with a case containing steam, which he again protected by a covering of matters which conduct heat slowly.

This construction presented an easy means of regulating the power of the engine, for the steam being the acting power, as the pipe which admits it from the boiler is more or less opened, a greater or smaller quantity can enter during the time of a stroke, and consequently the engine can act with exactly the necessary degree of energy.

Mr. Watt gained a patent for his engine in 1768, but the further persecution of his designs were delayed by other avocations till 1775, when in conjunction with Mr. Boulton of Soho near Birmingham, numerous experiments were made on a large scale by their united ingenuity, and great improvements added to the machinery, and an act of parlia­ment obtained for the prolongation of their patent for twenty-five years, they have since that time drained many of the deep mines in Cornwall, which but for the happy union of such genius must immediately have ceased to work. One of these engines works a pump of eighteen inches diameter, and upwards of 100 fathom or 600 feet high, at the rate of ten to twelve strokes of seven feet long each, in a minute, and that with one fifth part of the coals which a common engine would have taken to do the same work. The power of this engine may be easier comprehended by saying that it raised a weight equal to 81000 pounds 80 feet high in a minute, which is equal to the combined action of 200 good horses. In Newcomen's engine this would have required a cylinder of the enormous diameter of 120 inches or ten feet, but as in this engine of Mr. Watt and Mr. Boulton the steam acts, and a vacuum is made, alternately above and below the piston, the power exerted is double to what the same cylinder would otherways pro­duce, and is further augmented by an inequality in the length of the two ends of the lever.

These gentlemen have also by other contrivances applied their engines to the turning of mills for almost every purpose, of which that great pile of machinery the Albion Mill is a well known instance. Forges, slitting mills, and other great works are erected where nature has furnished no running water, and future times may boast that this grand and useful engine was invented and perfected in our own country.

Since the above article went to the press the Albion Mill is no more; it is supposed to have been set on fire by interested or malicious incendaries, and is burnt to the ground. Whence London has lost the credit and the advantage of possessing the most powerful machine in the world!


In phalanx firm the fiend of Frost assail.
CANTO I. l. 446.

THE cause of the expansion of water during its conversion into ice is not yet well ascertained, it was supposed to have been owing to the air being set at liberty in the act of congelation which was before dissolved in the water, and the many air bubbles in ice were thought to countenance this opinion. But the great force with which ice expands during its congelation, so as to burst iron bombs and coehorns, according to the experi­ments of Major Williams at Quebec, invalidates this idea of the cause of it, and may sometime be brought into use as a means of breaking rocks in mining, or projecting cannon-balls, or for other mechanical purposes, if the means of producing congelation should ever be discovered to be as easy as the means of producing combustion.

Mr. de Mairan attributes the increase of bulk of frozen water to the different arrange­ment of the particles of it in crystallization, as they are constantly joined at an angle of 60 degrees; and must by this disposition he thinks occupy a greater volume than if they were parallel. He found the augmentation of the water during freezing to amount to one-fourteenth, one-eighteenth, one-nineteenth, and when the water was previously purged of air to only one-twenty-second part. He adds that a piece of ice, which was at first only one-fourteenth part specifically lighter than water, on being exposed some days to the frost became one-twelfth lighter than water. Hence he thinks ice by being exposed to greater cold still increases in volume, and to this attributes the bursting of ice in ponds and on the glaciers. See Lewis's Commerce of Arts, p. 257. and the note on Muschus in the other volume of this work.

This expansion of ice well accounts for the greater mischief done by vernal frosts at­tended with moisture, (as by hoar-frosts,) than by the dry frosts called black frosts. Mr. Lawrence in a letter to Mr. Bradley complains that the dale-mist attended with a frost on may-day had destroyed all his tender fruits; though there was a sharper frost the night before without a mist, that did him no injury; and adds, that a garden not a stone's throw from his own on a higher situation, being above the dale-mist, had received no damage. Bradley, Vol. II. p. 232.

Mr. Hunter by very curious experiments discovered that the living principle in fish, in vegetables, and even in eggs and seeds, possesses a power of resisting congelation. Phil. Trans. There can be no doubt but that the exertions of animals to avoid the pain of cold may produce in them a greater quantity of heat, at least for a time, but that vegetables, eggs, or seeds, should possess such a quality is truly wonderful. Others have imagined that animals possess a power of preventing themselves from becom­ing much warmer than 98 degrees of heat, when immersed in an atmosphere above that degree of heat. It is true that the increased exhalation from their bodies will in some measure cool them, as much heat is carried off by the evaporation of fluids, but this is a chemical not an animal process. The experiments made by those who continued [Page 24] many minutes in the air of a room heated so much above any natural atmospheric heat, do not seem conclusive, as they remained in it a less time than would have been neces­sary to have heated a mass of beef of the same magnitude, and the circulation of the blood in living animals, by perpetually bringing new supplies of fluid to the skin, would prevent the external surface from becoming hot much sooner than the whole mass. And thirdly, there appears no power of animal bodies to produce cold in diseases, as in scarlet fever, in which the increased action of the vessels of the skin produces heat and contributes to ex­haust the animal power already too much weakened.

It has been thought by many that frosts meliorate the ground, and that they are in general salubrious to mankind. In respect to the former it is now well known that ice or snow contain no nitrous particles, and though frost by enlarging the bulk of moist clay leaves it softer for a time after the thaw, yet as soon as the water exhales, the clay becomes as hard as before, being pressed together by the incumbent atmosphere, and by its self­attraction, called setting by the potters. Add to this that on the coasts of Africa, where frost is unknown, the fertility of the soil is almost beyond our conceptions of it. In respect to the general salubrity of frosty seasons the bills of mortality are an evidence in the negative, as in long frosts many weakly and old people perish from debility occasioned by the cold, and many classes of birds and other wild animals are benumbed by the cold or destroyed by the consequent scarcity of food, and many tender vegetables perish from the degree of cold.

I do not think it should be objected to this doctrine that there are moist days attended with a brisk cold wind when no visible ice appears, and which are yet more disagreeable and destructive than frosty weather. For on these days the cold moisture, which is de­posited on the skin is there evaporated and thus produces a degree of cold perhaps greater than the milder frosts. Whence even in such days both the disagreeable sensations and insalubrious effects belong to the cause abovementioned, viz. the intensity of the cold. Add to this that in these cold moist days as we pass along or as the wind blows upon us, a new sheet of cold water is as it were perpetually applied to us and hangs upon our bodies, now as water is 800 times denser than air and is a much better conductor of heat, we are starved with cold like those who go into a cold bath, both by the great number of particles in contact with the skin and their greater facility of receiving our heat.

It may nevertheless be true that snows of long duration in our winters may be less in­jurious to vegetation than great rains and shorter frosts, for two reasons. 1. Because great rains carry down many thousand pounds worth of the best part of the manure off the lands into the sea, whereas snow dissolves more gradually and thence carries away less from the land; any one may distinguish a snow-flood from a rain-flood by the transparency of the water. Hence hills or fields with considerable inclination of surface should be ploughed horizontally that the furrows may stay the water from showers till it deposits its mud. 2. Snow protects vegetables from the severity of the frost, since it is always in a state of thaw where it is in contact with the earth; as the earth's heat is about 48° and the heat of thawing snow is 32° the vegetables between them are kept in a degree of heat about 40, by which many of them are preserved. See note on Muschus, Vol. II. of this work.


Cold from each point cerulean lustres gleam.
CANTO I. l. 345.


THERE was an idle dispute whether knobs or points were preferable on the top of conductors for the defence of houses. The design of these conductors is to permit the electric matter accumulated in the clouds to pass through them into the earth in a smaller continued stream as the cloud approaches, before it comes to what is termed striking distance; now as it is well known that accumulated electricity will pass to points at a much greater distance than it will to knobs there can be no doubt of their preference; and it would seem that the finer the point and the less liable to become rusty the better, as it would take off the lightening while it was still at a greater distance, and by that means preserve a greater extent of building; the very extremity of the point should be of pure silver or gold, and might be branched into a kind of brush, since one small point can not be supposed to receive so great a quantity as a thicker bar might conduct into the earth.

If an insulated metallic ball is armed with a point, like a needle, projecting from one part of it, the electric fluid will be seen in the dark to pass off from this point, so long as the ball is kept supplied with electricity. The reason of this is not difficult to comprehend, every part of the electric atmosphere which surrounds the insulated ball is attracted to that ball by a large surface of it, whereas the electric atmosphere which is near the ex­tremity of the needle is attracted to it by only a single point, in consequence the particles of electric matter near the surface of the ball approach towards it and push off by their greater gravitation the particles of electric matter over the point of the needle in a con­tinued stream.

Something like this happens in respect to the diffusion of oil on water from a pointed cork, an experiment which was many years ago shewn me by Dr. Franklin; he cut a piece of cork about the size of a letter-wafer and left on one edge of it a point about a sixth of an inch in length projecting as a tangent to the circumference. This was dipped in oil and thrown on a pond of water and continued to revolve as the oil left the point for a great many minutes. The oil descends from the floating cork upon the water being diffused upon it without friction and perhaps without contact; but its going off at the point so forcibly as to make the cork revolve in a contrary direction seems analogous to the departure of the electric fluid from points.

Can any thing similar to either of these happen in respect to the earth's atmosphere and give occasion to the breezes on the tops of mountains, which may be considered as points on the earths circumference?


There is a phenomenon supposed to be electric which is yet unaccounted for, I mean the Fairy-rings, as they are called, so often seen on the grass. The numerous flashes of lightning which occur every summer are, I believe, generally discharged on the earth, and but seldom (if ever) from one cloud to another. Moist trees are the most frequent conductors of these flashes of lightning, and I am informed by purchasers of wood that innumerable trees are thus cracked and injured. At other times larger parts or prominences of clouds gradually sinking as they move along, are discharged on the moisture parts of grassy plains. Now this knob or corner of a cloud in being attracted by the earth will become nearly cylindrical, as loose wool would do when drawn out into a thread, and will strike the earth with a stream of electricity perhaps two or ten yards in diameter. Now as a stream of electricity displaces the air it passes through, it is plain no part of the grass can be burnt by it, but just the external ring of this cylinder where the grass can have access to the air, since without air nothing can be calcined. This earth after having been so calcined becomes a richer soil, and either fun­guses or a bluer grass for many years mark the place. That lightning displaces the air in its passage is evinced by the loud crack that succeeds it, which is owing to the sides of the aerial vacuum clapping together when the lightning is withdrawn. That nothing will calcine without air is now well understood from the acids produced in the burning of phlogistic substances, and may be agreeably seen by suspending a paper on an iron prong and putting it into the centre of the blaze of an iron-furnace; it may be held there some seconds and may be again withdrawn without its being burnt, if it be passed quickly into the flame and out again through the external part of it which is in contact with the air. I know some circles of many yards diameter of this kind near Foremark in Derbyshire which annually produce large white funguses and stronger grass, and have done so, I am informed, above thirty years. This increased fertility of the ground by calcination or charring, and its continuing to operate so many years is well worth the attention of the farmer, and shews the use of paring and burning new turf in agri­culture, which produces its effect not so much by the ashes of the vegetable fibres as by charring the soil which adheres to them.

These situations, whether from eminence or from moisture, which were proper once to attract and discharge a thunder-cloud, are more liable again to experience the same. Hence many fairy-rings are often seen near each other either without intersecting each other, as I saw this summer in a garden in Nottinghamshire, or intersecting each other as described on Arthur's seat near Edinburgh in the Edinb. Trans. Vol. II. p. 3.


Where dwell my vegetative realms benumb'd
In buds imprison'd, or in bulbs intomb'd.
CANTO I. l. 465.

A TREE is properly speaking a family or swarm of buds, each bud being an in­dividual plant, for if one of these buds be torn or cut out and planted in the earth with a glass cup inverted over it to prevent its exhalation from being at first greater than its power of absorption, it will produce a tree similar to its parent; each bud has a leaf, which is its lungs, appropriated to it, and the bark of the tree is a congeries of the roots of these individual buds, whence old hollow trees are often seen to have some branches flourish with vigour after the internal wood is almost intirely decayed and vanished. According to this idea Linneus has observed that trees and shrubs are roots above ground, for if a tree be inverted leaves will grow from the root-part and roots from the trunk-part. Phil. Bot. p. 39. Hence it appears that vegetables have two methods of pro­pagating themselves, the oviparous as by seeds, and the viviparous as by their buds and bulbs, and that the individual plants, whether from seeds or buds or bulbs, are all annual productions like many kinds of insects as the silk-worm, the parent perishing in the autumn after having produced an embryon, which lies in a torpid state during the winter, and is matured in the succeeding summer. Hence Linneus names buds and bulbs the winter-cradles of the plant or hybernacula, and might have given the same term to seeds. In warm climates few plants produce buds, as the vegetable life can be com­pleated in one summer, and hence the hybernacle is not wanted; in cold climates also some plants do not produce buds, as philadelphus, srangula, viburnum, ivy, heath, wood-nightshade, rue, geranium.

The bulbs of plants are another kind of winter-cradle, or hybernacle, adhering to the descending trunk, and are found in the perennial herbaceous plants which are too tender to bear the cold of the winter. The production of these subterraneous winter lodges, is not yet perhaps clearly understood, they have been distributed by Linneus according to their forms into scaly, solid, coated, and jointed bulbs, which however does not elucidate their manner of production. As the buds of trees may be truly esteemed individual annual plants, their roots constituting the bark of the tree, it follows that these roots (viz. of each individual bud) spread themselves over the last years bark, making a new bark over the old one, and thence descending cover with a new bark the old roots also in the same manner. A similar circumstance I suppose to happen in some herbaceous plants, that is, a new bark is annually produced over the old root, and thus for some years at least the old root or caudex increases in size and puts up new stems. As these roots increase in size the central part I suppose changes like the in­ternal wood of a tree and does not possess any vegetable life, and therefore gives out no fibres or rootlets, and hence appears bitten off, as in valerian, plantain, and devil's-bit. And this decay of the central part of the root I suppose has given occasion to the belief of the root-fibres drawing down the bulb so much insisted on by Mr. Milne in his Botanical Dictionary, Art. Bulb.

[Page 28] From the observations and drawings of various kinds of bulbous roots at different times of their growth, sent me by a young lady of nice observation, it appears probable that all bulbous roots properly so called perish annually in this climate: Bradley, Miller, and the Author of Spectacle de la Nature, observe that the tulip annually renews its bulb, for the stalk of the old flower is found under the old dry coat but on the outside of the new bulb. This large new bulb is the flowering bulb, but besides this there are other small new bulbs produced between the coats of this large one but from the same caudex, (or circle from which the root-fibres spring;) these small bulbs are leaf-bearing bulbs, and renew themselves annually with increasing size till they bear flowers.

Miss—favoured me with the following curious experiment: She took a small tulip-root out of the earth when the green leaves were sufficiently high to show the flower, and placed it in a glass of water; the leaves and flower soon withered and the bulb became wrinkled and soft, but put out one small side bulb and three bulbs beneath descending an inch into the water by long processes from the caudex, the old bulb in some weeks intirely decayed; on dissecting this monster, the middle descending bulb was found by its process to adhere to the caudex and to the old flower-stem, and the side ones were separated from the flower-stem by a few shrivelled coats but adhered to the caudex. Whence she concludes that these last were off-sets or leaf-bulbs which should have been seen between the coats of the new flower-bulb if it had been left to grow in the earth, and that the middle one would have been the new flower-bulb. In some years (perhaps in wet seasons) the florists are said to lose many of their tulip-roots by a similar process, the new leaf-bulbs being produced beneath the old ones by an elongation of the caudex without any new flower-bulbs.

By repeated dissections she observes that the leaf-bulbs or off-sets of tulip, crocus, gladiolus, fritillary, are renewed in the same manner as the flowering-bulbs, contrary to the opinion of many writers; this new leaf-bulb is formed on the inside of the coats from whence the leaves grow, and is more or less advanced in size as the outer coats and leaves are more or less shrivelled. In examining tulip, iris, hyacinth, hare-bell, the new bulb was invariably found between the flower-stem and the base of the innermost leaf of those roots which had flowered, and inclosed by the base of the innermost leaf in those roots which had not flowered, in both cases adhering to the caudex or fleshy circle from which the root-fibres spring.

Hence it is probable that the bulbs of hyacinths are renewed annually, but that this is performed from the caudex within the old bulb, the outer coat of which does not so shrivel as in crocus and fritillary and hence this change is not so apparent. But I believe as soon as the flower is advanced the new bulbs may be seen on dissection, nor does the annual increase of the size of the root of cyclamen and of aletris capensis mili­tate against this annual renewal of them, since the leaf-bulbs or off-sets, as described above, are increased in size as they are annually renewed. See note on orchis, and on anthoxanthum, in Vol. II. of this work.


From the deep craters of his realms of fire
The whirling sun this ponderous planet hurld.
CANTO II. l. 14.

DR. ALEXANDER WILSON, Professor of Astronomy at Glasgow, published a paper in the Philosophical Transactions for 1774, demonstrating that the spots in the sun's disk are real cavities, excavations through the luminous material, which covers the other parts of the sun's surface. One of these cavities he found to be about 4000 miles deep and many times as wide. Some objections were made to this doctrine by M. De la Laude in the Memoirs of the French Academy for the year 1776, which however have been ably answered by Professor Wilson in reply in the Philos. Trans, for 1783. Keil observes, in his Astronomical Lectures, p. 44, ‘We frequently see spots in the sun which are larger and broader not only than Europe or Africa, but which even equal, if they do not exceed, the surface of the whole terraqueous globe.’ Now that these cavities are made in the sun's body by a process of nature similar to our earthquakes does not seem improbable on several accounts. 1. Because from this discovery of Dr. Wilson it appears that the internal parts of the sun are not in a state of inflammation or of ejecting light, like the external part or luminous ocean which covers it; and hence that a greater degree of heat or inflammation and consequent expansion or explosion may occasionally be produced in its internal or dark nucleus. 2. Because the solar spots or cavities are frequently increased or diminished in size. 3. New ones are often pro­duced. 4. And old ones vanish. 5. Because there are brighter or more luminous parts of the sun's disk, called faculae by Scheiner and Hevelius, which would seem to be vol­canos in the sun, or, as Dr. Wilson calls them, ‘eructations of matter more luminous than that which covers the sun's surface.’ 6. To which may be added that all the planets added together with their satellites do not amount to more than one six hundred and fiftieth part of the mass of the sun according to Sir Isaac Newton.

Now if it could be supposed that the planets were originally thrown out of the sun by larger sun-quakes than those frequent ones which occasion these spots or excavations above-mentioned, what would happen? I. According to the observations and opinion of Mr. Herschel the sun itself and all its planets are moving forwards round some other centre with an unknown velocity, which may be of opake matter corresponding with the very antient and general idea of a chaos. Whence if a ponderous planet, as Saturn, could be supposed to be projected from the sun by an explosion, the motion of the sun itself might be at the same time disturbed in such a manner as to prevent the planet from falling again into it. 2. As the sun revolves round its own axis its form must be that of an oblate spheroid like the earth, and therefore a body projected from its surface perpendicularly upwards from that surface would not rise perpendicularly from the sun's centre, unless it happened to be projected exactly from either of its poles or [Page 30] from its equator. Whence it may not be necessary that a planet if thus projected from the sun by explosion should again fall into the sun. 3. They would part from the sun's surface with the velocity with which that surface was moving, and with the velocity acquired by the explosion, and would therefore move round the sun in the same direction in which the sun rotates on its axis, and perform eliptic orbits. 4. All the planets would move the same way round the sun, from this first motion acquired at leaving its surface, but their orbits would be inclined to each other according to the distance of the part, where they were thrown out, from the sun's equator. Hence those which were ejected near the sun's equator would have orbits but little inclined to each other, as the primary planets; the plain of all whose orbits are inclined but seven degrees and a half from each other. Others which were ejected near the sun's poles would have much more eccentric orbits, as they would partake so much less of the sun's rotatory motion at the time they parted from his surface, and would therefore be carried further from the sun by the velocity they had gained by the explosion which ejected them, and become comets. 5. They would all obey the same laws of motion in their revolutions round the sun; this has been determined by astronomers, who have demonstrated that they move through equal areas in equal times. 6. As their annual periods would depend on the height they rose by the explosion, these would differ in them all. 7. As their diurnal revolutions would depend on one side of the exploded matter adhering more than the other at the time it was torn off by the explosion, these would also differ in the different planets, and not bear any proportion to their annual periods. Now as all these circumstances coincide with the known laws of the planetary system, they serve to strengthen this conjecture.

This coincidence of such a variety of circumstances induced M. de Buffon to suppose that the planets were all struck off from the sun's surface by the impact of a large comet, such as approached so near the sun's disk, and with such amazing velocity, in the year 1680, and is expected to return in 2255. But Mr. Buffon did not recollect that these comets themselves are only planets with more eccentric orbits, and that therefore it must be asked, what had previously struck off these comets from the sun's body? 2. That if all these planets were struck off from the sun at the same time, they must have been so near as to have attracted each other and have formed one mass: 3. That we shall want new causes for separating the secondary planets from the primary ones, and must there­fore look out for some other agent, as it does not appear how the impulse of a comet could have made one planet roll round another at the time they both of them were driven off from the surface of the sun.

If it should be asked, why new planets are not frequently ejected from the sun? it may be answered, that after many large earthquakes many vents are left for the elastic vapours to escape, and hence, by the present appearance of the surface of our earth, earthquakes prodigiously larger than any recorded in history have existed; the same cir­cumstances may have affected the sun, on whose surface there are appearances of vol­canos, as described above. Add to this, that some of the comets, and even the georgium sidus, may, for ought we know to the contrary, have been emitted from the sun in more [Page 31] modern days, and have been diverted from their course, and thus prevented from re­turning into the sun, by their approach to some of the older planets, which is somewhat countenanced by the opinion several philosophers have maintained, that the quantity of matter of the sun has decreased. Dr. Halley observed, that by comparing the proportion which the periodical time of the moon bore to that of the sun in former times, with the proportion between them at present, that the moon is found to be somewhat accelerated in respect to the sun. Pemberton's View of Sir Isaac Newton, p. 247. And so large is the body of this mighty luminary, that all the planets thus thrown out of it would make scarcely any perceptible diminution of it, as mentioned above. The cavity mentioned above, as measured by Dr. Wilson of 4000 miles in depth, not penetrating an hundredth part of the sun's semi-diameter; and yet, as its width was many times greater than its depth, was large enough to contain a greater body than our terrestrial world.

I do not mean to conceal, that from the laws of gravity unfolded by Sir Isaac Newton, supposing the sun to be a sphere and to have no progressive motion, and not liable itself to be disturbed by the supposed projection of the planets from it, that such planets must return into the sun. The late Rev. William Ludlam, of Leicester, whose genius never met with reward equal to its merits, in a letter to me, dated January, 1787, after having shewn, as mentioned above, that planets so projected from the sun would return to it, adds, ‘That a body as large as the moon so projected, would disturb the motion of the earth in its orbit, is certain; but the calculation of such disturbing forces is difficult. The body in some circumstances might become a satellite, and both move round their common centre of gravity, and that centre be carried in an annual orbit round the sun.’

There are other circumstances which might have concurred at the time of such sup­posed explosions, which would render this idea not impossible. I. The planets might be thrown out of the sun at the time the sun itself was rising from chaos, and be attracted by other suns in their vicinity rising at the same time out of chaos, which would prevent them from returning into the sun. 2. The new planet in its course or ascent from the sun, might explode and eject a satellite, or perhaps more than one, and thus by its course being affected might not return into the sun. 3. If more planets were ejected at the same time from the sun, they might attract and disturb each others course at the time they left the body of the sun, or very soon afterwards, when they would be so much nearer each other.


While Ocean wrap'd it in his azure robe.
CANTO II. 1. 34.

FROM having observed that many of the highest mountains of the world consist of lime-stone replete with shells, and that these mountains bear the marks of having been lifted up by subterraneous fires from the interior parts of the globe; and as lime-stone replete with shells is found at the bottom of many of our deepest mines some philo­sophers have concluded that the nucleus of the earth was for many ages covered with water which was peopled with its adapted animals; that the shells and bones of these animals in a long series of time produced solid strata in the ocean surrounding the ori­ginal nucleus.

These strata consist of the accumulated exuviae of shell-fish, the animals perished age after age but their shells remained, and in progression of time produced the amazing quantities of lime-stone which almost cover the earth. Other marine animals called coralloids raised walls and even mountains by the congeries of their calcareous habita­tions, these perpendicular corralline rocks make some parts of the Southern Ocean highly dangerous, as appears in the journals of Capt. Cook. From contemplating the immense strata of lime-stone, both in respect to their extent and thickness, formed from these shells of animals, philosophers have been led to conclude that much of the water of the sea has been converted into calcareous earth by passing through their organs of digestion. The formation of calcareous earth seems more particularly to be an animal process as the formation of clay belongs to the vegetable economy; thus the shells of crabs and other testaceous fish are annually reproduced from the mucous membrane beneath them; the shells of eggs are first a mucous membrane, and the calculi of the kidneys and those found in all other parts of our system which sometimes contain calcareous earth, seem to originate from inflamed membranes; the bones themselves consist of calcareous earth united with the phosphoric or animal acid, which may be separated by dissolving the ashes of calcined bones in the nitrous acid; the various secretions of animals, as their saliva and urine, abound likewise with calcareous earth, as appears by the incrustations about the teeth and the sediments of urine. It is probable that animal mucus is a pre­vious process towards the formation of calcareous earth; and that all the calcareous earth in the world which is seen in lime-stones, marbles, spars, alabasters, marls, (which make up the greatest part of the earth's crust, as far as it has yet been penetrated,) have been formed originally by animal and vegetable bodies from the mass of water, and that by these means the solid part of the terraqueous globe has perpetually been in an increasing state and the water perpetually in a decreasing one.

After the mountains of shells and other recrements of aquatic animals were elevated above the water the upper heaps of them were gradually dissolved by rains and dews and oozing through were either perfectly crystallized in smaller cavities and formed [Page 33] calcareous spar, or were imperfectly crystallized on the roofs of larger cavities and pro­duced stalactites; or mixing with other undissolved shells beneath them formed marbles, which were more or less crystallized and more or less pure; or lastly, after being dissolved, the water was exhaled from them in such a manner that the external parts became solid, and forming an arch prevented the internal parts from approaching each other so near as to become solid, and thus chalk was produced. I have specimens of chalk formed at the root of several stalactites, and in their central parts; and of other stalactites which are hollow like quills from a similar cause, viz. from the external part of the stalactite harden­ing first by its evaporation, and thus either attracting the internal dissolved particles to the crust, or preventing them from approaching each other so as to form a solid body. Of these I saw many hanging from the arched roof of a cellar under the high street in Edinburgh.

If this dissolved limestone met with vitriolic acid it was converted into alabaster, parting at the same time with its fixable air. If it met with the fluor acid it became fluor; if with the siliceous acid, flint; and when mixed with clay and sand, or either of them, acquires the name of marl. And under one or other of these forms composes a great part of the solid globe of the earth.

Another mode in which limestone appears is in the form of round granulated par­ticles, but slightly cohering together; of this kind a bed extends over Lincoln heath, perhaps twenty miles long by ten wide. The form of this calcareous sand, its angles having been rubbed off, and the flatness of its bed, evinces that that part of the country was so formed under water, the particles of sand having thus been rounded, like all other rounded pebbles. This round form of calcareous sand and of other larger pebbles is produced under water, partly by their being more or less soluble in water, and hence the angular parts become dissolved, first, by their exposing a larger surface to the action of the menstruum, and secondly, from their attrition against each other by the streams or tides, for a great length of time, successively as they were collected, and perhaps when some of them had not acquired their hardest state.

This calcareous sand has generally been called ketton-stone and believed to resemble the spawn of fish, it has acquired a form so much rounder than siliceous sand from its being of so much softer a texture and also much more soluble in water. There are other soft calcareous stones called tupha which are deposited from water on mosses, as at Matlock, from which moss it is probable the water may receive something which induces it the readier to part with its earth.

In some lime-stones the living animals seem to have been buried as well as their shells during some great convulsion of nature, these shells contain a black coaly substance within them, in others some phlogiston or volatile alcali from the bodies of the dead animals remains mixed with the stone, which is then called liver-stone as it emits a sulphurous smell on being struck, and there is a stratum about six inches thick extends a considerable way over the iron ore at Wingerworth near Chesterfield in Derbyshire which seems evidently to have been formed from the shells of fresh-water muscles

[Page 34] There is however another source of calcareous earth besides the aquatic one above described and that is from the recrements of land animals and vegetables as found in marls, which consist of various mixtures of calcareous earth, sand, and clay, all of them perhaps principally from vegetable origin.

Dr. Hutton is of opinion that the rocks of marble have been softened by fire into a fluid mass, which he thinks under immense pressure might be done without the escape of their carbonic acid or fixed air. Edinb. Transact. Vol. I. If this ingenious idea be allowed it might account for the purity of some white marbles, as during their fluid state there might be time for their partial impurities, whether from the bodies of the animals which produced the shells or from other extraneous matter, either to sublime to the uppermost part of the stratum or to subside to the lowermost part of it. As a confirmation of this theory of Dr. Hutton's it may be added that some calcareous stones are found mixed with lime, and have thence lost a part of their fixed air or carbonic gas, as the bath-stone, and on that account hardens on being exposed to the air, and mixed with sulphur produces calcareous liver of sulphur. Falconer on Bath­water. Vol. I. p. 156. and p. 257. Mr. Monnet found lime in powder in the mountains of Auvergne, and suspected it of volcanic origin. Kirwan's Min. p. 22.


Gnomes! you then taught transuding dews to pass
Through time-fallen woods, and root-inwove morass.
CANTO II. l. 113.

WHERE woods have repeatedly grown and perished morasses are in process of time produced, and by their long roots fill up the interstices till the whole becomes for many yards deep a mass of vegetation. This fact is curiously verified by an account given many years ago by the Earl of Cromartie, of which the following is a short abstract.

In the year 1651 the EARL OF CROMARTIE being then nineteen years of age saw a plain in the parish of Lockburn covered over with a firm standing wood, which was so old that not only the trees had no green leaves upon them but the bark was totally thrown off, which he was there informed by the old countrymen was the universal manner in which fir-woods terminated, and that in twenty or thirty years the trees would cast themselves up by the roots. About fifteen years after he had occasion to travel the same way and observed that there was not a tree nor the appearance of a root of any of them; but in their place the whole plain where the wood stood was [Page 35] covered with a flat green moss or morass, and on asking the country people what was become of the wood he was informed that no one had been at the trouble to carry it away, but that it had all been overturned by the wind, that the trees lay thick over each other, and that the moss or bog had overgrown the whole timber, which they added was occasioned by the moisture which came down from the high hills above it and stagnated upon the plain, and that nobody could yet pass over it, which however his Lordship was so incautious as to attempt and slipt up to the arm-pits. Before the year 1699 that whole piece of ground was become a solid moss wherein the peasants then dug turf or peat, which however was not yet of the best sort. Philos. Trans. No. 330. Abridg. Vol. V. p. 272.

Morasses in great length of time undergo variety of changes, first by elutriation, and afterwards by fermentation, and the consequent heat. 1. By water perpetually oozing through them the most soluble parts are first washed away, as the essential salts, these together with the salts from animal recrements are carried down the rivers into the sea, where all of them seem to decompose each other except the marine salt. Hence the ashes of peat contain little or no vegetable alcali and are not used in the countries, where peat constitutes the fuel of the lower people, for the purpose of washing linen. The second thing which is always seen oozing from morasses is iron in solution, which produces chalybeate springs, from whence depositions of ochre and variety of iron ores. The third elutriation seems to consist of vegetable acid, which by means unknown appears to be converted into all other acids. 1. Into marine and nitrous acids as mentioned above. 2. Into vitriolic acid which is found in some morasses so plentifully as to preserve the bodies of animals from putrefaction which have been buried in them, and this acid carried away by rain and dews and meeting with calcareous earth produces gypsum or alabaster, with clay it produces alum, and deprived of its vital air produces sulphur. 3. Fluor acid which being washed away and meeting with calcareous earth produces fluor or cubic spar. 4. The siliceous acid which seems to have been dis­seminated in great quantity either by solution in water or by solution in air, and appears to have produced the sand in the sea uniting with calcareous earth previously dissolved in that element, from which were afterwards formed some of the grit-stone rocks by means of a siliceous or calcareous cement. By its union with the calcareous earth of the morass other strata of siliceous sand have been produced; and by the mixture of this with clay and lime arose the beds of marl.

In other circumstances, probably where less moisture has prevailed, morasses seem to have undergone a fermentation, as other vegetable matter, new hay for instance is liable to do from the great quantity of sugar it contains. From the great heat thus produced in the lower parts of immense beds of morass the phlogistic part, or oil, or asphaltum, becomes distilled, and rising into higher strata becomes again condensed forming coal­beds of greater or less purity according to their greater or less quantity of inflammable matter; at the same time the clay beds become purer or less so, as the phlogistic part is more or less completely exhaled from them. Though coal and clay are frequently pro­duced in this manner, yet I have no doubt, but that they are likewise often produced by [Page 36] elutriation; in situations on declivities the clay is washed away down into the valleys, and the phlogistic part or coal left behind; this circumstance is seen in many valleys near the beds of rivers, which are covered recently by a whitish impure clay, called water­clay. See note XIX. XX. and XXIII.

LORD CROMARTIE has furnished another curious observation on morasses in the paper above referred to. In a moss near the town of Eglin in Murray, though there is no river or water which communicates with the moss, yet for three or four feet of depth in the moss there are little shell-fish resembling oysters with living fish in them in great quantities, though no such fish are found in the adjacent rivers, nor even in the water pits in the moss, but only in the solid substance of the moss. This curious fact not only accounts for the shells sometimes found on the surface of coals, and in the clay above them; but also for a thin stratum of shells which sometimes exists over iron-ore.


Cold waves, immerged, the glowing mass congeal,
And turn to adamant the hissing Steel.
CANTO II. l. 191.

AS iron is formed near the surface of the earth, it becomes exposed to streams of water and of air more than most other metallic bodies, and thence becomes combined with oxygene, or vital air, and appears very frequently in its calciform state, as in variety of ochres. Manganese, and zinc, and sometimes lead, are also found near the surface of the earth, and on that account become combined with vital air and are exhibited in their calciform state.

The avidity with which iron unites with oxygene, or vital air, in which process much heat is given out from the combining materials, is shewn by a curious experiment of M. Ingenhouz. A fine iron wire twisted spirally is fixed to a cork, on the point of the spire is fixed a match made of agaric dipped in solution of nitre; the match is then ignited, and the wire with the cork put immediately into a bottle full of vital air, the match first burns vividly, and the iron soon takes fire and consumes with brilliant sparks till it is reduced to small brittle globules, gaining an addition of about one third of its weight by its union with vital air. Annales de Chymic. Traité de Chimie, per Lavoisier, c. iii.


It is probably owing to a total deprivation of vital air which it holds with so great avidity, that iron on being kept many hours or days in ignited charcoal becomes con­verted into steel, and thence acquires the faculty of being welded when red hot long before it melts, and also the power of becoming hard when immersed in cold water; both which I suppose depend on the same cause, that is, on its being a worse conductor of heat than other metals; and hence the surface both acquires heat much sooner, and loses it much sooner, than the internal parts of it, in this-circumstance resembling glass.

When steel is made very hot, and suddenly immerged in very cold water, and moved about in it, the surface of the steel becomes cooled first, and thus producing a kind of case or arch over the internal part, prevents that internal part from contracting quite so much as it otherwise would do, whence it becomes brittler and harder, like the glass­drops called Prince Rupert's drops, which are made by dropping melted glass into cold water. This idea is countenanced by the circumstance that hardened steel is specifically lighter than steel which is more gradually cooled. (Nicholson's Chemistry, p. 313.) Why the brittleness and hardness of steel or glass should keep pace or be companions to each other may be difficult to conceive.

When a steel spring is forcibly bent till it break, it requires less power to bend it through the first inch than the second, and less through the second than the third; the same I suppose to happen if a wire be distended till it break by hanging weights to it; this shews that the particles may be forced from each other to a small distance by less power, than is necessary to make them recede to a greater distance; in this circumstance perhaps the attraction of cohesion differs from that of gravitation, which exerts its power inversely as the squares of the distance. Hence it appears that is the innermost particles of a steel bar, by cooling the external surface first, are kept from approaching each other so nearly as they otherwise would do, that they become in the situation of the particles on the convex side of a bent spring, and can not be forced further from each other except by a greater power than would have been necessary to have made them recede thus far. And secondly, that if they be forced a little further from each other they separate; this may be exemplified by laying two magnetic needles parallel to each other, the contrary poles together, then drawing them longitudinally from each other, they will slide with small force till they begin to separate, and will then require a stronger force to really separate them. Hence it appears, that hardness and brittleness depend on the same cir­cumstance, that the particles are removed to a greater distance from each other and thus resist any power more forcibly which is applied to displace them further, this constitutes hardness. And secondly, if they are displaced by such applied force they immediately separate, and this constitutes brittleness.

Steel may be thus rendered too brittle for many purposes, on which account artists have means of softening it again, by exposing it to certain degrees of heat, for the con­struction of different kinds of tools, which is called tempering it. Some artists plunge large tools in very cold water as soon as they are compleatly ignited, and moving it about, [Page 38] take it out as soon as it ceases to be luminous beneath the water; it is then rubbed quickly with a file or on sand to clean the surface, the heat which the metal still retains soon begins to produce a succession of colours; if a hard temper be required, the piece is dipped again and stirred about in cold water as soon as the yellow tinge appears, if it be cooled when the purple tinge appears it becomes fit for gravers' tools used in work­ing upon metals; if cooled while blue it is proper for springs. Nicholson's Chemistry, p. 313. Keir's Chemical Dictionary.


The recent production of iron is evinced from the chalybeate waters which flow from morasses which lie upon gravel-beds, and which must therefore have produced iron after those gravel-beds were raised out of the sea. On the south side of the road between Cheadle and Okeymoor in Staffordshire, yellow stains of iron are seen to pene­trate the gravel from a thin morass on its surface. There is a fissure eight or ten feet wide, in a gravel-bed on the eastern side of the hollow road ascending the hill about a mile from Trentham in Staffordshire, leading toward Drayton in Shropshire, which fissure is filled up with nodules of iron-ore. A bank of sods is now raised against this fissure to prevent the loose iron nodules from falling into the turnpike road, and thus this natural curiosity is at present concealed from travellers. A similar fissure in a bed of marl, and filled up with iron nodules and with some large pieces of flint, is seen on the eastern side of the hollow road ascending the hill from the turnpike house about a mile from Derby in the road towards Burton. And another such fissure filled with iron nodes, appears about half a mile from Newton-Solney in Derbyshire, in the road to Burton, near the summit of the hill. These collections of iron and of flint must have been produced posterior to the elevation of all those hills, and were thence evidently of vegetable or animal origin. To which should be added, that iron is found in general in beds either near the surface of the earth, or stratified with clay coals or argillaceous grit, which are themselves productions of the modern world, that is, from the recrements of vegetables and air-breathing animals.

Not only iron but mangancse, calamy, and even copper and lead appear in some instances to have been of recent production. Iron and manganese are detected in all vegetable productions, and it is probable other metallic bodies might be found to exist in vegetable or animal matters, if we had tests to detect them in very minute quantities. Manganese and calamy are found in beds like iron near the surface of the earth, and in a calciform state, which countenances their modern production. The recent production of calamy, one of the ores of zinc, appears from its frequently incrusting calcareous spar in its descent from the surface of the earth into the uppermost fissures of the limestone mountains of Derbyshire. That the calamy has been carried by its solution or diffusion in water into these cavities, and not by its ascent from below in form of steam, is evinced from its not only forming a crust over the dogtooth spar, but by its afterwards dissolving or destroying the sparry crystal. I have specimens of calamy in the form of dogtooth spar, two inches high, which are hollow, and stand half an inch above the diminished [Page 39] sparry crystal on which they were formed, like a sheath a great deal too big for it; this seems to shew, that this process was carried on in water, otherwise after the calamy had incrusted its spar, and dissolved its surface, so as to form a hollow cavern over it, it could not act further upon it except by the interposition of some medium. As these spars and calamy are formed in the fissures of mountains they must both have been formed after the elevation of those mountains.

In respect to the recent production of copper, it was before observed in note on Canto II. l. 394, that the summit of the grit-stone mountain at Hawkstone in Shropshire, is tinged with copper, which from the appearance of the blue stains seems to have descended to the parts of the rock beneath. I have a calciform ore of copper consisting of the hollow crusts of cubic cells, which has evidently been formed on crystals of fluor, which it has eroded in the same manner as the calamy erodes the calcareous crystals, from whence may be deduced in the same manner, the aqueous solution or diffusion, as well as the recent production of this calciform ore of copper.

Lead in small quantities is sometimes found in the fissures of coal-beds, which fis­sures are previously covered with spar; and sometimes in nodules of iron-ore. Of the former I have a specimen from near Caulk in Derbyshire, and of the latter from Cole­brook Dale in Shropshire. Though all these facts shew that some metallic bodies are formed from vegetable or animal recrements, as iron, and perhaps manganese and calamy, all which are found near the surface of the earth; yet as the other metals are found only in fissures of rocks, which penetrate to unknown depths, they may be wholly or in part produced by ascending steams from subterraneous fires, as mentioned in note on Canto II. l. 394.


Over some lime works at Walsall in Staffordshire, I observed some years ago a stratum of iron earth about six inches thick, full of very large cavities; these cavities were evi­dently produced when the material passed from a semifluid state into a solid one; as the frit of the potters, or a mixture of clay and water is liable to crack in drying; which is owing to the further contraction of the internal part, after the crust is become hard. These hollows are liable to receive extraneous matter, as I believe gypsum, and some­times spar, and even lead; a curious specimen of the last was presented to me by Mr. Darby of Colebrook Dale, which contains in its cavity some ounces of lead-ore. But there are other septaria of iron-stone which seem to have had a very different origin, their cavities having been formed in cooling or congealing from an ignited state, as is inge­niously deduced by Dr. Hutton from their internal struture. Edinb. Transact. Vol. I. p. 246. The volcanic origin of these curious septaria appears to me to be further evinced from their form and the places where they are found. They consist of oblate spheroids and are found in many parts of the earth totally detached from the beds in which they lie, as at East Lothian in Scotland. Two of these, which now lie before me, were found with many others immersed in argillaceous shale or shiver, surrounded by broken lime­stone mountains at Bradbourn near Ashbourn in Derbyshire, and were presented to [Page 40] me by Mr. Buxton, a gentleman of that town. One of these is about fifteen inches in its equatorial diameter, and about six inches in its polar one, and contains beautiful star­like septaria incrusted and in part filled with calcareous spar. The other is about eight inches in its equatorial diameter, and about four inches in its polar diameter, and is quite solid, but shews on its internal surface marks of different colours, as if a beginning sepa­ration had taken place. Now as these septaria contain fifty per cent, of iron, according to Dr. Hutton, they would soften or melt into a semifluid globule by subterraneous fire by less heat than the limestone in their vicinity; and if they were ejected through a hole or fissure would gain a circular motion along with their progressive one by their greater friction or adhesion to one side of the hole. This whirling motion would produce the oblate spheroidical form which they possess, and which as far as I know can not in any other way be accounted for. They would then harden in the air as they rose into the colder parts of the atmosphere; and as they descended into so soft a material as shale or shiver, their forms would not be injured in their fall; and their presence in materials so different from themselves becomes accounted for.

About the tropics of the large septarium above mentioned, are circular eminent lines, such as might have been left is it had been coarsely turned in a lathe. These lines seem to consist of a fluid matter, which seems to have exsuded in circular zones, as their edges appear blunted or retracted; and the septarium seems to have split easier in such sections parallel to its equator. Now as the crust would first begin to cool and harden after its ejection in a semifluid state, and the equatorial diameter would become gradually enlarged as it rose in the air; the internal parts being softer would slide beneath the polar crust, which might crack and permit part of the semifluid to exsude, and it is probable the adhesion would thus become less in sections parallel to the equator. Which further confirms this idea of the production of these curious septaria. A new-cast cannon ball red-hot with its crust only solid, if it were shot into the air would propably burst in its passage; as it would consist of a more fluid material than these septaria; and thus by discharging a shower of liquid iron would produce more dreadful combustion, if used in war, than could be effected by a ball, which had been cooled and was heated again: since in the latter case the ball could not have its internal parts made hotter than the crust of it, without first loosing its form.


Transmute to glittering flints her chalky lands,
Or sink on Ocean's bed in countless sands.
CANTO II. l. 217.


THE great masses of siliceous sand which lie in rocks upon the beds of limestone, or which are stratified with clay, coal, and iron-ore, are evidently produced in the decom­position of vegetable or animal matters, as explained in the note on morasses. Hence the impressions of vegetable roots and even whole trees are often found in sand-stone, as well as in coals and iron-ore. In these sand-rocks both the siliceous acid and the cal­careous base seem to be produced from the materials of the morass; for though the prefence of a siliceous acid and of a calcareous base have not yet been separately exhibited from flints, yet from the analogy of flint to fluor, and gypsum, and marble, and from the conversion of the latter into flint, there can be little doubt of their existence.

These siliceous sand-rocks are either held together by a siliceous cement, or have a greater or less portion of clay in them, which in some acts as a cement to the siliceous crystals, but in others is in such great abundance that in burning them they become an imperfect porcelain and are then used to repair the roads, as at Chesterfield in Derbyshire; these are called argillaceous grit by Mr. Kirwan. In other places a calcareous matter cements the crystals together; and in other places the siliceous crystals lie in loose strata under the marl in the form of white sand; as at Normington about a mile from Derby.

The lowest beds of siliceous sand-stone produced from morasses seem to obtain their acid from the morass, and their calcareous base from the limestone on which it rests. These beds possess a siliceous cement, and from their greater purity and hardness are used for course grinding-stones and scyth stones, and are situated on the edges of lime­stone countries, having lost the other strata of coals, or clay, or iron, which were origi­nally produced above them. Such are the sand-rocks incumbent on limestone near Matlock in Derbyshire. As these siliceous sand-rocks contain no marine productions scattered amongst them, they appear to have been elevated, torn to pieces, and many fragments of them scattered over the adjacent country by explosions, from fires within the morass from which they have been formed; and which dissipated every thing in­flammable above and beneath them, except some stains of iron, with which they are in some places spotted. If these sand-rocks had been accumulated beneath the sea, and elevated along with the beds of limestone on which they rest, some vestiges of marine shells either in their siliceous or calcareous state must have been discerned amongst them.


In many of these sand-rocks are found the impressions of vegetable roots, which seem to have been the most unchangeable parts of the plant, as shells and shark's teeth are found in chalk-beds from their being the most unchangeable parts of the animal. In other instances the wood itself is penetrated, and whole trees converted into flint; speci­mens of which I have by me, from near Covenery, and from a gravel-pit in Shropshire near Child's Archal in the road to Drayton. Other polished specimens of vegetable flints abound in the cabinets of the curious, which evidently shew the concentric circles of woody fibres, and their interstices filled with whiter siliceous matter, with the branch­ing off of the knots when cut horizontally, and the parallel lines of wood when cut longitudinally, with uncommon beauty and variety. Of these I possess some beautiful specimens, which were presented to me by the Earl of Uxbridge.

The colours of these siliceous vegetables are generally brown, from the iron, I suppose, or manganese, which induced them to crystallize or to fuse more easily. Some of the cracks of the wood in drying are filled with white flint or calcedony, and others of them remain hollow, lined with innumerable small crystals tinged with iron, which I suppose had a share in converting their calcareous matter into siliceous crystals, because the crystals called Peak-diamonds are always found bedded in an ochreous earth; and those called Bristol-stones are situated on limestone coloured with iron. Mr. F. French presented me with a congeries of siliceous crystals, which he gathered on the crater (as he supposes) of an extinguished volcano at Cromach Water in Cumberland. The crystals are about an inch high in the shape of dogtooth or calcareous spar, covered with a dark ferruginous matter. The bed on which they rest is about an inch in thickness, and is stained with iron on its undersurface. This curious fossil shews the transmutation of calcareous earth into siliceous, as much as the siliceous shells which abound in the cabinets of the curious. There may sometime be discovered in this age of science, a method of thus impregnating wood with liquid flint, which would produce pillars for the support, and tiles for the covering of houses, which would be uninflammable and endure as long as the earth beneath them.

That some siliceous productions have been in a fluid state without much heat at the time of their formation appears from the vegetable flints above described not having quite lost their organized appearance; from shells, and coralloids, and entrochi being converted into flint without loosing their form; from the bason of calcedony round Giesar in Iceland; and from the experiment of Mr. Bergman, who obtained thirteen regular formed crystals by suffering the powder of quartz to remain in a vessel with fluor acid for two years; these crystals were about the size of small peas, and were not so hard as quartz. Opusc. de Terrâ Siliceâ, p. 33. Mr. Achard procured both calcareous and siliceous crystals, one from calcareous earth, and the other from the earth of alum, both dissolved in water impregnated with fixed air; the water filtrating very slowly through a porous bottom of baked clay. See Journal de Physique, for January, 1778.


In small cavities of these sand-rocks, I am informed, the beautiful siliceous nodules are found which are called Scot's-pebbles; and which on being cut in different directions take the names of agates, onyxes, sardonyxes, &c. according to the colours of the lines or strata which they exhibit. Some of the nodules are hollow and filled with crystals, others have a nucleus of less compact siliceous matter which is generally white, surrounded with many concentric strata coloured with iron, and other alternate strata of white agate or calcedony, sometimes to the number of thirty.

I think these nodules bear evident marks of their having been in perfect fusion by either heat alone, or by water and heat, under great pressure, according to the ingenious theory of Dr. Hutton; but I do not imagine, that they were injected into cavities from materials from without, but that some vegetables or parts of vegetables containing more iron or manganese than others, facilitated the compleat fusion, thus destroying the vestiges of vegetable organization, which were conspicuous in the siliceous trees above mentioned. Some of these nodules being hollow and lined with crystals, and others containing a nucleus of white siliceous matter of a looser texture, shew they were composed of the materials then existing in the cavity; which consisting before of loose sand, must take up less space when fused into a solid mass.

These siliceous nodules resemble the nodules of iron-stone mentioned in note on Canto II. l. 179, in respect to their possessing a great number of concentric spheres coloured generally with iron, but they differ in this circumstance, that the concentric spheres generally obey the form of the external crust, and in their not possessing a chaly­beate nucleus. The stalactites formed on the roofs of caverns are often coloured in concentric strata, by their coats being spread over each other at different times; and some of them, as the cupreous ones, possess great beauty from this formation; but as these are necessarily more or less of a cylindrical or conic form, the nodules or globular flints above described cannot have been constructed in this manner. To what law of nature then is to be referred the production of such numerous concentric spheres? I suspect to the law of congelation.

When salt and water are exposed to severe frosty air, the salt is said to be precipitated as the water freezes; that is, as the heat, in which it was dissolved, is withdrawn; where the experiment is tried in a bowl or bason, this may be true, as the surface freezes first, and the salt is found at the bottom. But in a fluid exposed in a thin phial, I found by experiment, that the extraneous matter previously dissolved by the heat in the mixture was not simply set at liberty to subside, but was detruded or pushed backward as the ice was produced. The experiment was this: about two ounces of a solution of blue vitriol were accidentally frozen in a thin phial, the glass was cracked and fallen to pieces, the ice was dissolved, and I found a pillar of blue vitriol standing erect on the bottom of the broken bottle. Nor is this power of congelation more extraordinary, than that by its powerful and sudden expansion it should burst iron shells and coehorns, or throw [Page 44] out the plugs with which the water was secured in them above one hundred and thirty yards, according to the experiments at Quebec by Major Williams. Edinb. Transact. Vol. II. p. 23.

In some siliceous nodules which now lie before me, the external crust for about the tenth of an inch consists of white agate, in others it is much thinner, and in some much thicker; corresponding with this crust there are from twenty to thirty superincumbent strata, of alternately darker and lighter colour; whence it appears, that the external crust as it cooled or froze, propelled from it the iron or manganese which was dissolved in it; this receded till it had formed an arch or vault strong enough to resist its further pro­trusion; then the next inner sphere or stratum as it cooled or froze, propelled forwards its colouring matter in the same manner, till another arch or sphere produced sufficient resistance to this frigorific expulsion. Some of them have detruded their colouring matter quite to the centre, the rings continuing to become darker as they are nearer it; in others the chalybeate arch seems to have stopped half an inch from the centre, and become thicker by having attracted to itself the irony matter from the white nucleus, owing probably to its cooling less precipitately in the central parts than at the surface of the pebble.

A similar detrusion of a marly matter in circular arches or vaults obtains in the salt mines in Cheshire; from whence Dr. Hutton very ingeniously concludes, that the salt must have been liquified by heat; which would seem to be be much confirmed by the above theory. Edinb. Transact. Vol. I. p. 244.

I cannot conclude this account of Scots-pebbles without observing that some of them on being sawed longitudinally asunder, seem still to possess some vestiges of the cylindrical organization of vegetables; others possess a nucleus of white agate much resembling some bulbous roots with their concentric coats, or the knots in elm-roots or crab-trees; some of these I suppose were formed in the manner above explained, during the congelation of masses of melted flint and iron; others may have been formed from a vegetable nucleus, and retain some vestiges of the organization of the plant.


The great abundance of siliceous sand at the bottom of the ocean may in part be washed down from the siliceous rocks above described, but in general I suppose it derives its acid only from the vegetable and animal matter of morasses, which is carried down by floods or by the atmosphere, and becomes united in the sea with its calcareous base from shells and coralloids, and thus assumes its crystalline form at the bottom of the ocean, and is there intermixed with gravel or other matters washed from the mountains in its vicinity.


The rocks of marble are often alternately intermixed with strata of chert, or coarse flint, and this in beds from one to three feet thick, as at Ilam and Matlock, or of less than the tenth of an inch in thickness, as a mile or two from Bakewell in the road to [Page 45] Buxton. It is difficult to conceive in what manner ten or twenty strata of either lime­stone or flint, of different shades of white and black, could be laid quite regularly over each other from sediments or precipitations from the sea; it appears to me much easier to comprehend, by supposing with Dr. Hutton, that both the solid rocks of marble and the flint had been fused by great heat, (or by heat and water,) under immense pressure; by its cooling or congelating the colouring matter might be detruded, and form parallel or curvilinean strata, as above explained.

The colouring matter both of limestone and flint was probably owing to the flesh of peculiar animals, as well as the siliceous acid, which converted some of the limestone into flint; or to some strata of shell-fish having been overwhelmed when alive with new materials, while others dying in their natural situations would lose their fleshy parts, either by its putrid solution in the water or by its being eaten by other sea-insects. I have some calcareous fossil shells which contain a black coaly matter in them, which was evidently the body of the animal, and others of the same kind filled with spar instead of it. The Labradore stone has I suppose its colours from the nacre or mother-pearl shells, from which it was probably produced. And there is a stratum of calcareous matter about six or eight inches thick at Wingerworth in Derbyshire over the iron-beds, which is replete with shells of fresh-water muscles, and evidently obtains its dark colour from them, as mentioned in note XVI. Many nodules of flint resemble in colour as well as in form the shell of the echinus or sea-urchin; others resemble some coralloids both in form and colour; and M. Arduini found in the Monte de Pancrasio, red flints branching like corals, from whence they seem to have obtained both their form and their colour. Ferber's Travels in Italy, p. 42.


As the nodules of flint found in chalk-beds possess no marks of having been rounded by attrition or solution, I conclude that they have gained their form as well as their dark colour from the flesh of the shell-fish from which they had their origin; but which have been so compleatly fused by heat, or heat and water, as to obliterate all vestiges of the shell, in the same manner as the nodules of agate and onyx were produced from parts of vegetables, but which had been so completely fused as to obliterate all marks of their organization, or as many iron-nodules have obtained their form and origin from peculiar vegetables.

Some nodules in chalk-beds consist of shells of echini filled up with chalk, the animal having been dissolved away by putrescence in water, or eaten by other sea-insects; other shells of echini, in which I suppose the animal's body remained, are converted into flint but still retain the form of the shell. Others, I suppose as above, being more completely fused, have become flint coloured by the animal flesh, but without the exact form either of the flesh or shell of the animal. Many of these are hollow within and lined with crystals, like the Scot's-pebbles above described; but as the colouring matter of animal [Page 46] bodies differs but little from each other compared with those of vegetables, these flints vary less in their colours than those above mentioned. At the same time as they cooled in concentric spheres like the Scot's-pebbles, they often possess faint rings of colours, and always break in concholoid forms like them.

This idea of the production of nodules of flint in chalk-beds is countenanced from the iron which generally appears as these flints become decomposed by the air; which by uniting with the iron in their composition reduces it from a vitrescent state to that of calx, and thus renders it visible. And secondly, by there being no appearance in chalk-beds of a string or pipe of siliceous matter connecting one nodule with another, which must have happened if the siliceous matter, or its acid, had been injected from without according to the idea of Dr. Hutton. And thirdly, because many of them have very large cavities at their centres, which should not have happened had they been formed by the injection of a material from without.

When shells or chalk are thus converted from calcareous to siliceous matter by the flesh of the animal, the new flint being heavier than the shell or chalk occupies less space than the materials it was produced from; this is the cause of frequent cavities within them, where the whole mass has not been completely fused and pressed together. In Derbyshire there are masses of coralloid and other shells which have become siliceous, and are thus left with large vacuities sometimes within and sometimes on the outside of the remaining form of the shell, like the French millstones, and I suppose might serve the same purpose; the gravel of the Derwent is full of specimens of this kind.

Since writing the above I have received a very ingenious account of chalk-beds from Dr. MENISH of Chelmsford. He distinguishes chalk-beds into three kinds; such as have been raised from the sea with little disturbance of their strata, as the cliffs of Dover and Margate, which he terms intire chalk. Another state of chalk is where it has suffered much derangement, as the banks of the Thames at Gravesend and Dartford. And a third state where fragments of chalk have been rounded by water, which he terms alluvial chalk. In the first of these situations of chalk he observes, that the flint lies in strata horizontally, generally in distinct nodules, but that he has observed two instances of solid plates or strata of flint, from an inch to two inches in thickness, interposed between the chalk-beds; one of these is in a chalk-bank by the road side at Berkhamstead, the other in a bank on the road from Chatham leading to Canterbury. Dr. Menish has further observed, that many of the echini are crushed in their form, and yet filled with flint, which has taken the form of the crushed shell, and that though many flint nodules are hollow, yet that in some echini the siliceum seems to have enlarged, as it passed from a fluid to a solid state, as it swells out in a protuberance at the mouth and anus of the shell, and that though these shells are so filled with flint yet that in many places the shell itself remains calcareous. These strata of nodules and plates of flint seem to countenance their origin from the flesh of a stratum of animals which perished by some natural violence, and were buried in their shells.


In many rocks of siliceous sand the particles retain their angular form, and in some beds of loose sand, of which there is one of considerable purity a few yards beneath the marl at Normington about a mile south of Derby. Other siliceous sands have had their angles rounded off, like the pebbles in gravel-beds. These seem to owe their globular form to two causes; one to their attrition against each other, when they may for centuries have lain at the bottom of the sea, or of rivers; where they may have been progressively accumulated, and thus progressively at the same time rubbed upon each other by the dashing of the water, and where they would be more easily rolled over each other by the their gravity being so much less than in air. This is evidently now going on in the river Derwent, for though there are no limestone rocks for ten or fifteen miles above Derby, yet a great part of the river-gravel at Derby consists of limestone nodules, whose angles are quite worn off in their descent down the stream.

There is however another cause which must have contributed to round the angles both of calcareous and siliceous fragments; and that is, their solubility in water; calca­reous earth is perpetually found suspended in the waters which pass over it; and the earth of flints was observed by Bergman to be contained in water in the proportion of one grain to a gallon. Kirwan's Mineralogy, p. 107. In boiling water, however, it is soluble in much greater proportion, as appears from the siliceous earth sublimed in the distillation of fluor acid in glass vessels; and from the basons of calcedony which sur­rounded the jets of hot water near mount Heccla in Iceland. Troil on Iceland. It is probable most siliceous sands or pebbles have at some ages of the world been long exposed to aqueous steams raised by subterranean fires. And if fragments of stone were long immersed in a fluid menstrum, their angular parts would be first dissolved, on account of their greater surface.

Many beds of siliceous gravel are cemented together by a siliceous cement, and are called breccia; as the plumb-pudding stones of Hartfordshire, and the walls of a subter­raneous temple excavated by Mr. Curzon, at Hagley near Rugely in Staffordshire; these may have been exposed to great heat as they were immersed in water; which water under great pressure of superincumbent materials may have been rendered red-hot, as in Papin's digester; and have thus possessed powers of solution with which we are unacquainted.


Another sourse of siliceous stones is from the granite, or basaltes, or porphyries, which are of different hardnesses according to the materials of their composition, or to the fire they have undergone; such are the stones of Arthur's-hill near Edinburgh, of the Giant's Causway in Ireland, and of Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire; the uppermost stratum of which last seems to have been cracked either by its elevation, or by its hastily cooling after ignition by the contact of dews or snows, and thus breaks into angular fragments, such as the streets of London are paved with; or have had their angles rounded by [Page 48] attrition or by partial solution; and have thus formed the common paving stones or bowlers; as well as the gravel, which is often rolled into strata amid the siliceous sand­beds, which are either formed or collected in the sea.

In what manner such a mass of crystallized matter as the Giant's Causway and similar columns of basaltes, could have been raised without other volcanic appearances, may be a matter not easy to comprehend; but there is another power in nature besides that of expansile vapour which may have raised some materials which have previously been in igneous or aqueous solution; and that is the act of congelation. When the water in the experiments above related of Major Williams had by congelation thrown out the plugs from the bomb-shells, a column of ice rose from the hole of the bomb six or eight inches high. Other bodies I suspect increase in bulk which crystallize in cooling, as iron and type-metal. I remember pouring eight or ten pounds of melted brimstone into a pot to cool and was surprized to see after a little time a part of the fluid beneath break a hole in the congealed crust above it, and gradually rise into a promontory several inches high; the basaltes has many marks of fusion and of crystallization and may thence, as well as many other kinds of rocks, as of spar, marble, petrosilex, jasper, &c. have been raised by the power of congelation, a power whose quantity has not yet been ascertained, and perhaps greater and more universal than that of vapours expanded by heat. These basaltic columns rise sometimes out of mountains of granite itself, as mentioned by Dr. Beddoes, (Phil. Transact. Vol. LXXX.) and as they seem to consist of similar materials more completely fused, there is still greater reason to believe them to have been elevated in the cooling or crystallization of the mass. See note XXIV.


Whence ductile Clays in wide expansion spread,
Soft as the Cygnet's down, their snow-white bed.
CANTO II. l. 276.

THE philosophers, who have attended to the formation of the earth, have ac­knowledged two great agents in producing the various changes which the terraqueous globe has undergone, and these are water and fire. Some of them have perhaps ascribed too much to one of these great agents of nature, and some to the other. They have generally agreed that the stratification of materials could only be produced from sediments or precipitations, which were previously mixed or dissolved in the sea; and that whatever effects were produced by fire were performed afterwards.

There is however great difficulty in accounting for the universal stratification of the solid globe of the earth in this manner, since many of the materials, which appear in strata, could not have been suspended in water; as the nodules of flint in chalk-beds, the extensive beds of shells, and lastly the strata of coal, clay, sand, and iron-ore, which in most coal-countries lie from five to seven times alternately stratified over each other, and none of them are soluble in water. Add to this if a solution of them or a mixture of them in water could be supposed, the cause of that solution must cease before a precipitation could commence.

1. The great masses of lava, under the various names of granite, porphyry, toadstone, moor-stone, rag, and slate, which constitute the old word, may have acquired the strati­fication, which some of them appear to possess, by their having been formed by suc­cessive eruptions of a fluid mass, which at different periods of antient time arose from volcanic shafts and covered each other, the surface of the interior mass of lava would cool and become solid before the superincumbent stratum was poured over it; to the same cause may be ascribed their different compositions and textures, which are scarcely the same in any two parts of the world.

2. The stratifications of the great masses of limestone, which were produced from sea-shells, seem to have been formed by the different times at which the innumerable shells were produced and deposited. A colony of echini, or madrepores, or cornua ammonis, lived and perished in one period of time; in another a new colony of either similar or different shells lived and died over the former ones, producing a stratum of more recent shell over a stratum of others which had began to petrify or to become marble; and thus from unknown depths to what are now the summits of mountains the limestone is disposed in strata of varying solidity and colour. These have afterwards undergone variety of changes by their solution and deposition from the water in which they were immersed, or from having been exposed to great heat under great pressure, according to the ingenious theory of Dr. Hutton, Edinb. Transact. Vol. I. Sec Note XVI.

[Page 50] 3. In most of the coal-countries of this island there are from five to seven beds of coal stratified with an equal number of beds, though of much greater thickness, of clay and sandstone, and occasionally of iron-ores. In what manner to account for the stratification of these materials seems to be a problem of greater difficulty. Philosophers have generally supposed that they have been arranged by the currents of the sea; but considering their insolubility in water, and their almost similar specific gravity, an accumulation of them in such distinct beds from this cause is altogether inconceiveable, though some coal-countries bear marks of having been at some time immersed beneath the waves and raised again by subterranean fires.

The higher and lower parts of morasses were necessarily produced at different periods of time, see Note XVII. and would thus originally be formed in strata of different ages. For when an old wood perished, and produced a morass, many centuries would elapse before another wood could grow and perish, again upon the same ground, which would thus produce a new stratum of morass over the other, differing indeed principally in its age, and perhaps, as the timber might be different, in the proportions of its component parts.

Now if we suppose the lowermost stratum of a morass become ignited, like fermenting hay, (after whatever could be carried away by solution in water was gone,) what would happen? Certainly the inflammable part, the oil, sulphur, or bitumen, would burn away, and be evaporated in air; and the fixed parts would be left, as clay, lime, and iron; while some of the calcareous earth would join with the siliceous acid, and produce sand, or with the argillaceous earth, and produce marl. Thence after many centuries another bed would take fire, but with less degree of ignition, and with a greater body of morass over it, what then would happen? The bitumen and sulphur would rise and might become condensed under an impervious stratum, which might not be ignited, and there form coal of different purities according to its degree of fluidity, which would permit some of the clay to subside through it into the place from which it was sublimed.

Some centuries afterwards another similar process might take place, and either thicken the coal-bed, or produce a new clay-bed, or marl, or sand, or deposit iron upon it, according to the concomitant circumstances above mentioned.

I do not mean to contend that a few masses of some materials may not have been rolled together by currents, when the mountains were much more elevated than at present, and in consequence the rivers broader and more rapid, and the storms of rain and wind greater both in quantity and force. Some gravel-beds may have been thus washed from the mountains; and some white clay washed from morasses into valleys beneath them; and some ochres of iron dissolved and again deposited by water; and some calcareous depositions from water, (as the bank for instance on which stand the houses at Matlock-bath;) but these are of small extent or consequence compared to the primitive rocks of granite or porpyhry which form the nucleus of the earth, or to the immense strata of limestone which crust over the greatest part of this granite or porphyry; or lastly to the very extensive beds of clay, marl, sandstone, coal, and iron, [Page 51] which were probably for many millions of years the only parts of our continents and islands, which were then elevated above the level of the sea, and which on that account became covered with vegetation, and thence acquired their later or superincumbent strata, which constitute, what some have termed, the new world.

There is another source of clay, and that of the finest kind, from decomposed granite, this is of a snowy white and mixed with shining particles of mica, of this kind is an earth from the country of Cherokees. Other kinds are from less pure lavas; Mr. Ferber asserts that the sulphurous steams from Mount Vesuvius convert the lava into clay.

‘The lavas of the antient Solfatara volcano have been undoubtedly of a vitreous nature, and these appear at present argillaceous. Some fragments of this lava are but half or at one side changed into clay, which either is viscid or ductile, or hard and stoney. Clays by fire are deprived of their coherent quality, which cannot be restored to them by pulverization, nor by humectation. But the sulphureous Solfatara steams restore it, as may be easily observed on the broken pots wherein they gather the sal ammoniac; though very well baked and burnt at Naples they are mollified again by the acid steams into a viscid clay which keeps the sormer fire-burnt colour. Travels in Italy, p. 156.


Smear'd her huge dragons with metallic hues,
With golden purples, and cobaltic blues;
CANTO II l. 287.

THE fine bright purples or rose colours which we see on china cups are not producible with any other material except gold, manganese indeed gives a purple but of a very different kind.

In Europe the application of gold to these purposes appears to be of modern invention. Cassius's discovery of the precipitate of gold by tin, and the use of that precipitate for colouring glass and enamels, are now generally known, but though the precipitate with tin be more successful in producing the ruby glass, or the colourless glass which becomes red by subsequent ignition, the tin probably contributing to prevent the gold from separating, (which it is very liable to do during the fusion; yet, for enamels, the precipitates made by alcaline salts answer equally well, and give a finer red, the colour produced by the tin precipitate being a bluish purple, but with the others a rose red. I am informed that some of our best artists prefer aurum fulminans, mixing it, before it has become dry, with the white composition or enamel flux; when once it is divided by the other matter, it is ground with great safety, and without the least danger of explosion, whether moist or dry. The colour is remarkably improved and brought forth by long grinding, which accordingly makes an essential circumstance in the process.

[Page 52] The precipitates of gold, and the colcothar or other red preparations of iron, are called tender colours. The heat must be no greater than is just sufficient to make the enamel run upon the piece, for if greater, the colours will be destroyed or changed to a different kind. When the vitreous matter has just become fluid it seems as if the coloured metallic calx remained barely intermixed with it, like a coloured powder of exquisite tenuity suspended in water: but by stronger fire the calx is dissolved, and metallic colours are altered by solution in glass as well as in acids or alcalies.

The Saxon mines have till very lately almost exclusively supplied the rest of Europe with cobalt, or rather with its preparations, zaffre and smalt, for the exportation of the ore itself is there a capital crime. Hungary, Spain, Sweden, and some other parts of the continent, are now said to afford cobalts equal to the Saxon, and specimens have been discovered in our own island, both in Cornwall and in Scotland; but hitherto in no great quantity.

Calces of cobalt and of copper differ very materially from those above mentioned in their application for colouring enamels. In those the calx has previously acquired the intended colour, a colour which bears a red heat without injury, and all that remains is to fix it on the piece by a vitreous flux. But the blue colour of cobalt, and the green or bluish green of copper, are produced by vitrification, that is, by solution in the glass, and a strong fire is necessary for their perfection. These calces therefore, when mixed with the enamel flux, are melted in crucibles, once or oftener, and the deep coloured opake glass, thence resulting, is ground into unpalpable powder, and used for enamel. One part of either of these calces is put to ten, sixteen, or twenty parts of the flux, according to the depth of colour required. The heat of the enamel kiln is only a full red, such as is marked on Mr. Wedgwood's thermometer 6 degrees. It is therefore necessary that the flux be so adjusted as to melt in that low heat. The usual materials are flint, or flint-glass, with a due proportion of red-led, or borax, or both, and sometimes a little tin calx to give opacity.

Ka-o-lin is the name given by the Chinese to their porcelain clay, and pe-tun-tse to the other ingredient in their China ware. Specimens of both these have been brought into England, and found to agree in quality with some of our own materials. Kaolin is the very same with the clay called in Cornwall and the petuntse is a granite similar to the Cornish moorstone. There are differences, both in the Chinese petuntses, and the English moorstones; all of them contain micaceous and quartzy particles, in greater or less quantity, along with feltspat, which last is the essential ingredient for the porcelain manufactory. The only injurious material commonly found in them is iron, which discolours the ware in proportion to its quantity, and which our moorstones are perhaps more frequently tainted with than the Chinese. Very fine porcelain has been made from English materials but the nature of the manufacture renders the process pre­carious and the profit hazardous; for the semivitrification, which constitutes porcelain, is necessarily accompanied with a degree of softness, or semifusion, so that the vessels are liable to have their forms altered in the kiln, or to run together with any accidental augmentations of the fire. [Page]

The Portland Vase


Or bid Mortality rejoice or mourn
O'er the fine forms of Portland's mystic urn.
CANTO II. l 321.

THE celebrated funereal vase, long in possession of the Barberini family, and lately purchased by the Duke of Portland for a thousand guineas, is about ten inches high and six in diameter in the broadest part. The figures are of most exquisite workmanship in bas relief of white opake glass, raised on a ground of deep blue glass, which appears black except when held against the light. Mr. Wedgwood is of opinion from many circumstances that the figures have been made by cutting away the external crust of white opake glass, in the manner the finest cameo's have been produced, and that it must thence have been the labour of a great many years. Some antiquarians have placed the time of its production many centuries before the christian aera; as sculpture was said to have been declining in respect to its excellence in the time of Alexander the Great. See an account of the Barberini or Portland vase by M. D'Hancarville, and by Mr. Wedgwood.

Many opinions and conjectures have been published concerning the figures on this celebrated vase. Having carefully examined one of Mr. Wedgwood's beautiful copies of this wonderful production of art, I shall add one more conjecture to the number.

Mr. Wedgwood has well observed that it does not seem probable that the Portland vase was purposely made for the ashes of any particular person deceased, because many years must have been necessary for its production. Hence it may be concluded, that the subject of its embellishments is not private history but of a general nature. This subject appears to me to be well chosen, and the story to be finely told; and that it represents what in antient times engaged the attention of philosophers, poets, and heroes, I mean a part of the Eleusinian mysteries.

These mysteries were invented in Aegypt, and afterwards transferred to Greece, and flourished more particularly at Athens, which was at the same time the seat of the fine arts. They consisted of scenical exhibitions representing and inculcating the expectation of a future life after death, and on this account were encouraged by the government, insomuch that the Athenian laws punished a discovery of their secrets with death. Dr. Warburton has with great learning and ingenuity shewn that the descent of Aeneas into hell, described in the Sixth Book of Virgil, is a poetical account of the represen­tations of the future state in the Eleusinian mysteries. Divine Legation, Vol. I. p, 210.

And though some writers have differed in opinion from Dr. Warburton on this subject, because Virgil has introduced some of his own heroes into the Elysian fields, as Deiphobus, Palinurus, and Dido, in the same manner as Homer had done before him, yet it is agreed that the received notions about a future state were exhibited in these mysteries, and as these poets described those received notions, they may be said, as far as these religious doctrines were concerned, to have described the mysteries.

[Page 54] Now as these were emblematic exhibitions they must have been as well adapted to the purposes of sculpture as of poetry, which indeed does not seem to have been un­common, since one compartment of figures in the sheild of Aeneas represented the regions of Tartarus. Aen. Lib. X. The procession of torches, which according to M. De St. Croix was exhibited in these mysteries, is still to be seen in basso relievo, discovered by Spon and Wheler. Memoires sur le Mysteres par De St. Croix. 1784. And it is very probable that the beautiful gem representing the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, as de­scribed by Apulcus, was originally descriptive of another part of the exhibitions in these mysteries, though afterwards it became a common subject of antient art. See Divine Legat. Vol. I. p. 323. What subject could have been imagined so sublime for the ornaments of a funereal urn as the mortality of all things and their resuscitation? Where could the designer be supplied with emblems for this purpose, before the Christian aera, but from the Eleusinian mysteries?

1. The exhibitions of the mysteries were of two kinds, those which the people were permitted to see, and those which were only shewn to the initiated. Concerning the latter, Aristides calls them ‘the most shocking and most ravishing representations.’ And Stoboeus asserts that the initiation into the grand mysteries exactly resembles death. Divine Legat. Vol. I. p. 280, and p. 272. And Virgil in his entrance to the shades below, amongst other things of terrible form, mentions death. Aen. VI. This part of the exhibition seems to be represented in one of the compartments of the Portland vase.

Three figures of exquisite workmanship are placed by the side of a ruined column whose capital is fallen off, and lies at their feet with other disjointed stones, they sit on loose piles of stone beneath a tree, which has not the leaves of any evergreen of this climate, but may be supposed to be an elm, which Virgil places near the entrance of the infernal regions, and adds, that a dream was believed to dwell under every leaf of it. Aen. VI. l. 281. In the midst of this group reclines a female figure in a dying attitude, in which extreme languor is beautifully represented, in her hand is an inverted torch, an antient emblem of extinguished life, the elbow of the same arm resting on a stone supports her as she sinks, while the other hand is raised and thrown over her drooping head, in some measure sustaining it and gives with great art the idea of fainting lassitude. On the right of her sits a man, and on the left a woman, both supporting themselves on their arms, as people are liable to do when they are thinking intensely. They have their backs towards the dying figure, yet with their faces turned towards her, as if seriously contemplating her situation, but without stretching out their hands to assist her.

This central figure then appears to me to be an hieroglyphic or Eleusinian emblem of MORTAL LIFF, that is, the lethum, or death, mentioned by Virgil amongst the terrible things exhibited at the beginning of the mysteries. The inverted torch shews the figure to be emblematic, if it had been designed to represent a real person in the act of dying there had been no necessity for the expiring torch, as the dying figure alone would have been sufficiently intelligible;—it would have been as absurd as to have put an inverted torch into the hand of a real person at the time of his expiring. Besides if this [Page]

The first Compartment.


The second Compartment.

[Page 55] figure had represented a real dying person would not the other figures, or one of them at least, have stretched out a hand to support her, to have eased her fall among loose stones, or to have smoothed her pillow? These circumstances evince that the figure is an emblem, and therefore could not be a representation of the private history of any par­ticular family or event.

The man and woman on each side of the dying figure must be considered as emblems, both from their similarity of situation and dress to the middle figure, and their being grouped along with it. These I think are hieroglyphic or Eleusinian emblems of HUMANKIND, with their backs toward the dying figure of MORTAL LIFE, unwilling to associate with her, yet turning back their serious and attentive countenances, curious indeed to behold, yet sorry to contemplate their latter end. These figures bring strongly to one's mind the Adam and Eve of sacred writ, whom some have supposed to have been allegorical or hieroglyphic persons of Aegyptian origin, but of more antient date, amongst whom I think is Dr. Warburton. According to this opinion Adam and Eve were the names of two hieroglyphic figures representing the early state of mankind; Abel was the name of an hieroglyphic figure representing the age of pasturage, and Cain the name of another hieroglyphic symbol representing the age of agriculture, at which time the uses of iron were discovered. And as the people who cultivated the earth and built houses would increase in numbers much faster by their greater production of food, they would readily conquer or destroy the people who were sustained by pasturage, which was typified by Cain slaying Abel.

2. On the other compartment of this celebrated vase is exhibited an emblem of immortality, the representation of which was well known to constitute a very principal part of the shews at the Eleusinian mysteries, as Dr. Warburton has proved by variety of authority. The habitation of spirits or ghosts after death was supposed by the antients to be placed beneath the earth, where Pluto reigned, and dispensed rewards or punishments. Hence the first figure in this group is of the MANES or GHOST, who having passed through an open portal is descending into a dusky region, pointing his toe with timid and unsteady step, feeling as it were his way in the gloom. This portal Aeneas enters, which is described by Virgil,—patet atri janua ditis, Aen. VI. l. 126; as well as the easy descent,—facilis descensus Averni. Ib. The darkness at the entrance to the shades is humorously described by Lucian. Div. Legat. Vol. I. p. 241. And the horror of the gates of hell was in the time of Homer become a proverb; Achilles says to Ulysses, "I hate a liar worse than the gates of hell;" the same expression is used in Isaiah, ch. xxxviii. v. 10. The MANES or GHOST appears lingering and fearful, and wishes to drag after him a part of his mortal garment, which however adheres to the side of the portal through which he has passed. The beauty of this allegory would have been expressed by Mr. Pope, by "We feel the ruling passion strong in death."

A little lower down in the group the manes or ghost is received by a beautiful female, a symbol of IMMORTAL LIFE. This is evinced by her fondling between her knees a large and playful serpent, which from its annually renewing its external skin has from great antiquity, even as early as the fable of Prometheus, been esteemed an emblem of [Page 56] renovated youth. The story of the serpent acquiring immortal life from the ass of Prometheus, who carried it on his back, is told in Bacon's Works, Vol. V. p. 462. Quarto edit. Lond. 1778. For a similar purpose a serpent was wrapped round the large hieroglyphic egg in the temple of Dioscuri, as an emblem of the renewal of life from a state of death. Bryant's Mythology, Vol II. p. 359. sec. edit. On this account also the serpent was an attendant on Aesculapius, which seems to have been the name of the hieroglyphic figure of medicine. This serpent shews this figure to be an emblem, as the torch shewed the central figure of the other compartment to be an emblem, hence they agreeably correspond, and explain each other, one representing MORTAL LIFE, and the other IMMORTAL LIFE.

This emblematic figure of immortal life sits down with her feet towards the figure of Pluto, but, turning back her face towards the timid ghost, she stretches forth her hand, and taking hold of his elbow, supports his tottering steps, as well as encourages him to advance, both which circumstances are thus with wonderful ingenuity brought to the eye. At the same time the spirit loosely lays his hand upon her arm, as one walking in the dark would naturally do for the greater certainty of following his conductress, while the general part of the symbol of IMMORTAL LIFE, being turned toward the figure of Pluto, shews that she is leading the phantom to his realms.

In the Pamphili gardens at Rome, Perseus in assisting Andromeda to descend from the rock takes hold of her elbow to steady or support her step, and she lays her hand loosely on his arm as in this figure. Admir. Roman. Antiq.

The figure of PLUTO can not be mistaken, as is agreed by most of the writers who have mentioned this vase; his grisley beard, and his having one foot buried in the earth, denotes the infernal monarch. He is placed at the lowest part of the group, and resting his chin on his hand, and his arm upon his knee, receives the stranger-spirit with inquisitive attention; it was before observed that when people think attentively they naturally rest their bodies in some easy attitude, that more animal power may be employed on the thinking faculty. In this group of figures there is great art shewn in giving an idea of a descending plain, viz. from earth to Elysium, and yet all the figures are in reality on an horizontal one. This wonderful deception is produced first by the descend­ing step of the manes or ghost; secondly, by the arm of the sitting figure of immortal life being raised up to receive him as he descends; and lastly, by Pluto having one foot sunk into the earth.

There is yet another figure which is concerned in conducting the manes or ghost to the realms of Pluto, and this is LOVE. He precedes the descending spirit on expanded wings, lights him with his torch, and turning back his beautiful countenance beckons him to advance. The antient God of love was of much higher dignity than the modern Cupid. He was the first that came out of the great egg of night, (Hesiod. Theog. V. CXX. Bryant's Mythol. Vol. II. p. 348.) and is said to possess the keys of the sky, sea, and earth. As he therefore led the way into this life, he seems to constitute a proper emblem for leading the way to a suture life. See Bacon's works. Vol. I. p. 568. and Vol. III. p. 582. Quarto edit.

[Page 57] The introduction of love into this part of the mysteries requires a little further expla­nation. The Psyche of the Aegyptians was one of their most favourite emblems, and represented the soul, or a future life; it was originally no other than the aurelia, or butterfly, but in after times was represented by a lovely female child with the beautiful wings of that insect. The aurelia, after its first stage as an eruca or caterpillar, lies for a season in a manner dead, and is inclosed in a sort of coffin, in this state of darkness it remains all the winter, but at the return of spring it bursts its bonds and comes out with new life, and in the most beautiful attire. The Aegyptians thought this a very proper picture of the soul of man, and of the immortality to which it aspired. But as this was all owing to divine Love, of which EROS was an emblem, we find this person frequently introduced as a concomitant of the soul in general or Psyche. (Bryant's Mythol. Vol. II. p. 386.) EROS, or divine Love, is for the same reason a proper attendant on the manes or soul after death, and much contributes to tell the story, that is, to shew that a soul or manes is designed by the descending figure. From this figure of Love M. D'Hancarville imagines that Orpheus and Eurydice are typified under the figure of the manes and immortal life as above described. It may be sufficient to answer, first, that Orpheus is always represented with a lyre, of which there are prints of four different gems in Spence's Polymetis, and Virgil so describes him, Aen. VI. cytharâ. fretus. And secondly, that it is absurd to suppose that Eurydice was fondling and playing with a serpent that had slain her. Add to this that Love seems to have been an inhabitant of the infernal regions, as exhibited in the mysteries, for Claudian, who treats more openly of the Eleusinian mysteries, when they were held in less veneration, invokes the deities to disclose to him their secrets, and amongst other things by what torch Love softens Pluto.

Dii, quibus in numerum, &c.
Vos mihi sacrarum penetralia pandite rerum,
Et vestri secreta poli, quâ lampade Ditem
Flexit amor.

In this compartment there are two trees, whose branches spread over the figures, one of them has smoother leaves like some evergreens, and might thence be supposed to have some allusion to immortality, but they may perhaps have been designed only as ornaments, or to relieve the figures, or because it was in groves, where these mysteries were originally celebrated. Thus Homer speaks of the woods of Proserpine, and mentions many trees in Tartarus, as presenting their fruits to Tantalus; Virgil speaks of the pleasant groves of Elysium; and in Spence's Polymetis there are prints of two antient gems, one of Orpheus charming Cerberus with his lyre, and the other of Hercules binding him in a cord, each of them standing by a tree. Polymet. p. 284. As however these trees have all different foliage so clearly marked by the artist, they may have had specific meanings in the exhibitions of the mysteries, which have not reached posterity, of this kind seem to have been the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life, in sacred writ, both which must have been emblematic or allegorical. The masks, [Page 58] hanging to the handles of the vase, seem to indicate that there is a concealed meaning in the figures besides their general appearance. And the priestess at the bottom, which I come now to describe, seems to shew this concealed meaning to be of the sacred or Eleusinian kind.

3. The figure on the bottom of the vase is on a larger scale than the others, and less finely finished, and less elevated, and as this bottom part was afterwards cemented to the upper part, it might be executed by another artist for the sake of expedition, but there seems no reason to suppose that it was not originally designed for the upper part of it as some have conjectured. As the mysteries of Ceres were celebrated by female priests, for Porphyrius says the antients called the priestesses of Ceres, Melissai, or bees, which were emblems of chastity. Div. Leg. Vol. I. p. 235. And as, in his Satire against the sex, Juvenal says, that few women are worthy to be priestesses of Ceres. Sat. VI. the figure at the bottom of the vase would seem to represent a PRIESTESS or HIEROPHANT, whose office it was to introduce the initiated, and point out to them, and explain the exhibitions in the mysteries, and to exclude the uninitiated, calling out to them, " Far, far retire, ye profane!" and to guard the secrets of the temple. Thus the introductory hymn sung by the hierophant, according to Eusebius, begins, "I will declare a secret to the initiated, but let the doors be shut against the profane." Div. Leg. Vol. I. p. 177. The priestess or hierophant appears in this figure with a close hood, and dressed in linen, which sits close about her; except a light cloak, which flutters in the wind. Wool, as taken from slaughtered animals, was esteemed profane by the priests of Aegypt, who were always dressed in linen. Apuleus, p. 64. Div. Leg. Vol. I. p. 318. Thus Eli made for Samuel a linen ephod. Samuel i. 3.

Secrecy was the foundation on which all mysteries rested, when publicly known they ceased to be mysteries; hence a discovery of them was not only punished with death by the Athenian law; but in other countries a disgrace attended the breach of a solemn oath. The priestess in the figure before us has her finger pointing to her lips as an emblem of silence. There is a figure of Harpocrates, who was of Aegyptian origin, the same as Orus, with the lotus on his head, and with his finger pointing to his lips not pressed upon them, in Bryant's Mythol. Vol. II. p. 398, and another female figure standing on a lotus, as if just risen from the Nile, with her finger in the same attitude, these seem to have been representations or emblems of male and female priests of the secret mysteries. As these sort of emblems were frequently changed by artists for their more elegant exhibition, it is possible the foliage over the head of this figure may bear some analogy to the lotus above mentioned.

This figure of secrecy seems to be here placed, with great ingenuity, as a caution to the initiated, who might understand the meaning of the emblems round the vase, not to divulge it. And this circumstance seems to account for there being no written ex­planation extant, and no tradition concerning these beautiful figures handed down to us along with them.

Another explanation of this figure at the bottom of the vase would seem to confirm the idea that the basso relievos round its sides are representations of a part of the [Page]

The [...]: Bottom of the Vase

[Page 59] mysteries, I mean that it is the head of ATIS. Lucian says that Atis was a young man of Phrygia, of uncommon beauty, that he dedicated a temple in Syria to Rhea, or Cybele, and first taught her mysteries to the Lydians, Phrygians, and Samothracians, which mysteries he brought from India. He was afterwards made an eunuch by Rhea, and lived like a woman, and assumed a feminine habit, and in that garb went over the world teaching her ceremonies and mysteries. Dict. par M. Danet, art. Atis. As this figure is covered with clothes, while those on the sides of the vase are naked, and has a Phrygian cap on the head, and as the form and features are so soft, that it is difficult to say whether it be a male or female figure, there is reason to conclude, 1. that it has reference to some particular person of some particular country; 2. that this person is Atis, the first great hierophant, or teacher of mysteries, to whom M. De la Chausse says the figure itself bears a resemblance. Museo. Capitol. Tom. IV. p. 402.

In the Museum Etruscum, Vol. I. plate 96, there is the head of Atis with feminine features, clothed with a Phrygian cap, and rising from very broad foliage, placed on a kind of term supported by the paw of a lion. Goreus in his explanation of the figure says that it is placed on a lion's foot because that animal was sacred to Cybele, and that it rises from very broad leaves because after he became an eunuch he determined to dwell in the groves. Thus the foliage, as well as the cap and feminine features, confirm the idea of this figure at the bottom of the vase representing the head of Atis the first great hierophant, and that the figures on the sides of the vase are emblems from the antient mysteries.

I beg leave to add that it does not appear to have been uncommon amongst the antients to put allegorical figures on funeral vases. In the Pamphili palace at Rome there is an elaborate representation of Life and of Death, on an antient sarcophagus. In the first Prometheus is represented making man, and Minerva is placing a butterfly, or the foul, upon his head. In the other compartment Love extinguishes his torch in the bosom of the dying figure, and is receiving the butterfly, or Psyche, from him, with a great number of complicated emblematic figures grouped in very bad taste. Admir. Roman. Antiq.


Whence sable Coal his massy couch extends,
And stars of gold the sparkling Pyrite blends.
CANTO II. l. 349.

TO elucidate the formation of coal-beds I shall here describe a fountain of fossil tar, or petroleum, discovered lately near Colebrook Dale in Shropshire, the particulars of which were sent me by Dr. Robert Darwin of Shrewsbury.

About a mile and a half below the celebrated iron-bridge, constructed by the late Mr. DARBY near Colebrook Dale, on the east side of the river Severn, as the workmen in October 1786 were making a subterranean canal into the mountain, for the more easy acquisition and conveyance of the coals which lie under it, they found an oozing of liquid bitumen, or petroleum; and as they proceeded further cut through small cavities of different sizes from which the bitumen issued. From ten to fifteen barrels of this fossil tar, each barrel containing thirty-two gallons, were at first collected in a day, which has since however gradually diminished in quantity, so that at present the product is about seven barrels in fourteen days.

The mountain, into which this canal enters, consists of siliceous sand, in which however a few marine productions, apparently in their recent state, have been found, and are now in the possession of Mr. WILLIAM REYNOLDS of Ketly Bank. About three hundred yards from the entrance into the mountain, and about twenty-eight yards below the surface of it, the tar is found oozing from the sand-rock above into the top and sides of the canal.

Beneath the level of this canal a shaft has been sunk through a grey argillaceous substance, called in this country clunch, which is said to be a pretty certain indication of coal; beneath this lies a stratum of coal, about two or three inches thick, of an inferior kind, yielding little flame in burning, and leaving much ashes; below this is a rock of a harder texture; and beneath this are found coals of an excellent quality; for the purpose of procuring which with greater facility the canal, or horizontal aperture, is now making into the mountain. July, 1788.

Beneath these coals in some places is found salt water, in other parts of the adjacent country there are beds of iron-stone, which also contain some bitumen in a less fluid state, and which are about on a level with the new canal, into which the fossil tar oozes, as above described.

There are many interesting circumstances attending the situation and accompaniments of this fountain of fossil tar, tending to develop the manner of its production. 1. As the canal passing into the mountain runs over the beds of coals, and under the reservoir of petroleum, it appears that a natural distillation of this fossil in the bowels of the earth must have taken place at some early period of the world, similar to the artificial distillation [Page 61] of coal, which has many years been carried on in this place on a smaller scale above ground. When this reservoir of petroleum was cut into, the slowness of its exsudation into the canal was not only owing to its viscidity, but to the pressure of the atmosphere, or to the necessity there was that air should at the same time insinuate itself into the small cavities from which the petroleum descended. The existence of such a distillation at some antient time is confirmed by the thin stratum of coal beneath the canal, (which covers the hard rock,) having been deprived of its fossil oil, so as to burn without flame, and thus to have become a natural coak, or fossil charcoal, while the petroleum distilled from it is found in the cavities of the rock above it.

There are appearances in other places, which favour this idea of the natural distillation of petroleum, thus at Matlock in Derbyshire a hard bitumen is found adhering to the spar in the clefts of the lime-rocks in the form of round drops about the size of peas; which could perhaps only be deposited there in that form by sublimation.

2. The second deduction, which offers itself, is, that these beds of coal have been exposed to a considerable degree of heat, since the petroleum above could not be separated, as far as we know, by any other means, and that the good quality of the coals beneath the hard rock was owing to the impermeability of this rock to the bituminous vapour, and to its pressure being too great to permit its being removed by the elasticity of that vapour. Thus from the degree of heat, the degree of pressure, and the permeability of the superincumbent strata, many of the phenomena attending coal-beds receive an easy explanation, which much accords with the ingenious theory of the earth by Dr. Hutton. Trans. of Edinb. Vol. I.

In some coal works the fusion of the strata of coal has been so slight, that there remains the appearance of ligneus fibres, and the impression of leaves, as at Bovey near Exeter, and even seeds of vegetables, of which I have had specimens from the collieries near Polesworth in Warwickshire. In some, where the heat was not very intense and the incumbent stratum not permeable to vapour, the fossil oil has only risen to the upper part of the coal-bed, and has rendered that much more inflammable than the lower parts of it, as in the collieries near Beaudesert, the seat of the EARL OF UXBRIDGE in Staffordshire, where the upper stratum is a perfect cannel, or candle-coal, and the lower one of an inferior quality. Over the coal-beds near Sir H. HARPUR's house in Derbyshire a thin lamina of asphaltum is found in some places near the surface of the earth, which would seem to be from a distillation of petroleum from the coals below, the more fluid part of which had in process of time exhaled, or been consolidated by its absorption of air. In other coal-works the upper part of the stratum is of a worse kind than the lower one, as at Alfreton and Denbigh in Derbyshire, owing to the super­cumbent stratum having permitted the exhalation of a great part of the petroleum; whilst at Widdrington in Northumberland there is first a seam of coal about six inches thick of no value, which lies under about four fathom of clay, beneath this is a white freestone, then a hard stone, which the workmen there call a whin, then two fathoms of clay, then another white stone, and under that a vein of coals three feet nine inches [Page 62] thick, of a similar nature to the Newcastle coal. Phil. Trans. Abridg. Vol. VI. plate II. p. 192. The similitude between the circumstances of this colliery, and of the coal beneath the fountain of tar above described, renders it highly probable that this upper thin seam of coal has suffered a similar distillation, and that the inflammable part of it had either been received into the clay above in the form of sulphur, which when burnt in the open air would produce alum; or had been dissipated for want of a receiver, where it could be condensed. The former opinion is perhaps in this cafe more probable as in some other coal-beds, of which I have procured accounts, the surface of the coal beneath clunch or clay is of an inferior quality, as at West Hallum in Nottinghamshire. The clunch probably from hence acquires its inflammable part, which on calcination becomes vitriolic acid. I gathered pieces of clunch converted partially into alum at a colliery near Bilston, where the ground was still on fire a few years ago.

The heat, which has thus pervaded the beds of morass, seems to have been the effect of the fermentation of their vegetable materials; as new hay sometimes takes fire even in such very small masses from the sugar it contains, and seems hence not to have been attended with any expulsion of lava, like the deeper craters of volcanos situated in beds of granite.

3. The marine shells found in the loose sand-rock above this reservoir of petroleum, and the coal-beds beneath it, together with the existence of sea-salt beneath these coals, prove that these coal beds have been at the bottom of the sea, during some remote period of time, and were afterwards raised into their present situation by subterraneous expan­sions of vapour. This doctrine is further supported by the marks of violence, which some coal-beds received at the time they were raised out of the sea, as in the collieries at Mendip in Somersetshire. In these there are seven strata of coals, equitant upon each other, with beds of clay and stone intervening; amongst which clay are found shells and fern branches. In one part of this hill the strata are disjoined, and a quantity of heterogeneous substances fill up the chasm which disjoins them, on one side of this chasm the seven strata of coal are seen corresponding in respect to their reciprocal thick­ness and goodness with the seven strata on the other side of the cavity, except that they have been elevated several yards higher. Phil. Trans. No. 360. abridg. Vol. V. p. 237.

The cracks in the coal-bed near Ticknall in Derbyshire, and in the sand-stone rock over it, in both of which specimens of lead-ore and spar are found, confirm this opinion of their having been forcibly raised up by subterraneous fires. Over the colliery at Brown-hills near Lichfield, there is a stratum of gravel on the surface of the ground; which may be adduced as another proof to shew that those coals had some time been beneath the sea, or the bed of a river. Nevertheless, these arguments only apply to the collieries above mentioned, which are few compared with those which bear no marks of having been immersed in the sea.

On the other hand the production of coals from morasses, as described in note XX. is evinced from the vegetable matters frequently found in them, and in the strata over them; as fern-leaves in nodules of iron-ore, and from the bog-shells or fresh water [Page 63] muscles sometimes found over them, of both which I have what I believe to be speci­mens; and is further proved from some parts of these beds being only in part trans­formed to coal; and the other part still retaining not only the form, but some of the properties of wood; specimens of which are not unfrequent in the cabinets of the curious, procured from Loch Neigh in Ireland, from Bovey near Exeter, and other places; and from a famous cavern called the Temple of the Devil, near the town of Altorf in Fran­conia, at the foot of a mountain covered with pine and savine, in which are found large coals resembling trees of ebony; which are so far mineralized as to be heavy and com­pact; and so to effloresce with pyrites in some parts as to crumble to pieces; yet from other parts white ashes are produced on calcination, from which fixed alcali is procured; which evinces their vegetable origin. (Dict. Raisonné, art. Charbon.) To these may be added another argument from the oil which is distilled from coals, and which is analogous to vegetable oil, and does not exist in any bodies truly mineral. Keir's Chemical Dictionary, art. Bitumen.

Whence it would appear, that though most collieries with their attendant strata of clay, sand-stone, and iron, were formed on the places where the vegetables grew, from which they had their origin; yet that other collections of vegetable matter were washed down from eminences by currents of waters into the beds of rivers, or the neighbouring seas, and were there accumulated at different periods of time, and under­went a great degree of heat from their fermentation, in the same manner as those beds of morass which had continued on the plains where they were produced. And that by this fermentation many of them had been raised from the ocean with sand and sea-shells over them; and others from the beds of rivers with accumulations of gravel upon them.

4. For the purpose of bringing this history of the products of morasses more distinctly to the eye of the reader, I shall here subjoin two or three accounts of sinking or boring for coals, out of above twenty which I have procured from various places, though the terms are not very intelligible, being the language of the overseers of coal-works.

1. Whitfield mine near the Pottery in Staffordshire. Soil 1 foot. brick-clay 3 feet. shale 4. metal which is hard brown and falls in the weather 42. coal 3. warrant clay 6. brown gritstone 36. coal 3 ½. warrant clay 3 ½. bass and metal 53 ½. hardstone 4. shaly bass 1 ½. coal 4. warrant clay, depth unknown. in all about 55 yards.

2. Coal-mine at Alfreton in Derbyshire. Soil and clay 7 feet. fragments of stone 9. bind 13. stone 6. bind 34. stone 5. bind 2. stone 2. bind 10. coal 1 ½. bind 1 ½. stone 37. bind 7. soft coal 3. bind 3. stone 20. bind 16. coal 7 ½. in all about 61 yards.

3. A basset coal-mine at Woolartan in Nottinghamshire. Sand and gravel 6 feet. bind 21. stone 10. smut or effete coal 1. clunch 4. bind 21. stone 18. bind 18. stone­bind 15. soft coal 2. clunch and bind 21. coal 7. in all about 48 yards.

4. Coal-mine at West-Hallam in Nottinghamshire. Soil and clay 7 feet. bind 48. smut 1 ½. clunch 4. bind 3. stone 2. bind 1. stone 1. bind 3. stone 1. bind 16. shale 2. bind 12. shale 3. clunch, stone, and a bed of cank 54. soft coal 4. clay and dun 1. soft coal 4 ½. clunch and bind 21. coal 1. broad bind 26. hard coal 6. in all about 74 yards.

[Page 64] As these strata generally lie inclined, I suppose parallel with the limestone on which they rest, the upper edges of them all come out to day, which is termed bassetting; when the whole mass was ignited by its fermentation, it is probable that the inflam­mable part of some strata might thus more easily escape than of others in the form of vapour; as dews are known to slide between such strata in the production of springs; which accounts for some coal-beds being so much worse than others. See note XX.


Climb the rude steeps, the Granite-cliffs surround.
CANTO II. l. 522.

THE lowest stratum of the earth which human labour has arrived to, is granite; and of this likewise consists the highest mountains of the world. It is known under variety of names according to some difference in its appearance or composition, but is now generally considered by philosophers as a species of lava; if it contains quartz, felt­spat, and mica in distinct crystals, it is called granite; which is found in Cornwall in rocks; and in loose stones in the gravel near Drayton in Shropshire, in the road towards Newcastle. If these parts of the composition be less distinct, or if only two of them be visible to the eye, it is termed porphyry, trap, whinstone, moorstone, slate. And if it appears in a regular angular form, it is called basaltes. The affinity of these bodies has lately been further well established by Dr. Beddoes in the Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXX.

These are all esteemed to have been volcanic productions that have undergone different degrees of heat; it is well known that in Papin's digester water may be made red hot by confinement, and will then dissolve many bodies which otherwise are little or not at all acted upon by it. From hence it may be conceived, that under immense pressure of superincumbent materials, and by great heat, these masses of lava may have undergone a kind of aqueous solution, without any tendency to vitrification, and might thence have a power of crystallization, whence all the varieties above mentioned from the different proportion of the materials, or the different degrees of heat they may have undergone in this aqueous solution. And that the uniformity of the mixture of the original earths, as of lime, argil, silex, magnesia, and barytes, which they contain, was owing to their boiling together a longer or shorter time before their elevation into mountains. See note XIX. art. 8.

The seat of volcanos seems to be principally, if not entirely, in these strata of granite; as many of them are situated on granite mountains, and throw up from time to time sheets of lava which run down over the preceeding strata from the same origin; and in this they seem to differ from the heat which has separated the clay, coal, and sand in morasses, which would appear to have risen from a kind of fermentation, and thus to have pervaded the whole mass without any expuition of lava.


A sketch of a supposed Section of the Earth in respect of the disposition of the Strata over each other without regard to their proportions or number.

[Page 65] All the lavas from Vesuvius contain one fourth part of iron, (Kirwan's Min.) and all the five primitive earths, viz. calcareous, argillaceous, siliceous, barytic, and magnesian earths, which are also evidently produced now daily from the recrements of animal and vegetable bodies. What is to be thence concluded? Has the granite stratum in very antient times been produced like the present calcareous and siliceous masses, according to the ingenious theory of Dr. Hutton, who says new continents are now forming at the bottom of the sea to rise in their turn, and that thus the terraqueous globe has been, and will be, eternal? Or shall we suppose that this internal heated mass of granite, which forms the nucleus of the earth, was a part of the body of the sun before it was separated by an explosion? Or was the fun originally a planet, inhabited like ours, and a satellite to some other greater fun, which has long been extinguished by diffusion of its light, and around which the present sun continues to revolve, according to a conjecture of the celebrated Mr. Herschell, and which conveys to the mind a most sublime idea of the progressive and increasing excellence of the works of the Creator of all things?

For the more easy comprehension of the facts and conjectures concerning the situation and production of the various strata of the earth, I shall here subjoin a supposed section of the globe, but without any attempt to give the proportions of the parts, or the number of them, but only their respective situation over each other, and a geological recapitulation.


1. The earth was projected along with the other primary planets from the sun, which is supposed to be on fire only on its surface, emitting light without much internal heat like a ball of burning camphor.

2. The rotation of the earth round its axis was occasioned by its greater friction or adhesion to one side of the cavity from which it was ejected; and from this rotation it acquired its spheroidical form. As it cooled in its ascent from the sun its nucleus became harder; and its attendant vapours were condensed, forming the ocean.

3. The masses or mountains of granite, porphery, basalt, and stones of similar structure, were a part of the original nucleus of the earth; or consist of volcanic productions since formed.

4. On this nucleus of granite and basaltes, thus covered by the ocean, were formed the calcareous beds of limestone, marble, chalk, spar, from the exuviae of marine animals; with the flints, or chertz, which accompany them. And were stratified by their having been formed at different and very distant periods of time.

5. The whole terraqueous globe was burst by central fires; islands and continents were raised, consisting of granite or lava in some parts, and of limestone in others; and great vallies were sunk, into which the ocean retired.

6. During these central earthquakes the moon was ejected from the earth, causing new tides; and the earth's axis suffered some change in its inclination, and its rotatory motion was retarded.

[Page 66] 7. On some parts of these islands and continents of granite or limestone were gradually produced extensive morasses from the recrements of vegetables and of land animals; and from these morasses, heated by fermentation, were produced clay, marle, sandstone, coal, iron, (with the bases of variety of acids;) all which were stratified by their having been formed at different, and very distant periods of time.

8. In the elevation of the mountains very numerous and deep fissures necessarily were produced. In these fissures many of the metals are formed partly from descending materials, and partly from ascending ones raised in vapour by subterraneous fires. In the fissures of granite or porphery quartz is formed; in the fissures of limestone calcareous spar is produced.

9. During these first great volcanic fires it is probable the atmosphere was either produced, or much increased; a process which is perhaps now going on in the moon; Mr. Herschell having discovered a volcanic crater three miles broad burning on her disk.

10. The summits of the new mountains were cracked into innumerable lozenges by the cold dews or snows falling upon them when red hot. From these summits, which were then twice as high as at present, cubes and lozenges of granite, and basalt, and quartz in some countries, and of marble and flints in others, descended gradually into the valleys, and were rolled together in the beds of rivers, (which were then so large as to occupy the whole valleys, which they now only intersect;) and produced the great beds of gravel, of which many valleys consist.

11. In several parts of the earth's surface subsequent earthquakes, from the fermen­tation of morasses, have at different periods of time deranged the position of the matters above described. Hence the gravel, which was before in the beds of rivers, has in some places been raised into mountains, along with clay and coal strata which were formed from morasses and washed down from eminences into the beds of rivers or the neighbouring seas, and in part raised again with gravel or marine shells over them; but this has only obtained in few places compared with the general distribution of such materials. Hence there seem to have existed two sources of earthquakes, which have occurred at great distance of time from each other; one from the granite beds in the central parts of the earth, and the other from the morasses on its surface. All the subsequent earthquakes and volcanos of modern days compared with these are of small extent and insignificant effect.

12. Besides the argillaceous sand-stone produced from morasses, which is stratified with clay, and coal, and iron, other great beds of siliceous sand have been formed in the sea by the combination of an unknown acid from morasses, and the calcareous matters of the ocean.

13. The warm waters which are found in many countries, are owing to steam arising from great depths through the fissures of limestone or lava, elevated by sub­terranean fires, and condensed between the strata of the hills over them; and not from any decomposition of pyrites or manganese near the surface of the earth.

14. The columns of basaltes have been raised by the congelation or expansion of granite beds in the act of cooling from their semi-vitreous fusion.


Aquatic nymphs! you lead with viewless march
The winged vapour up the aerial arch.
CANTO III. l. 13.

1. THE atmosphere will dissolve a certain quantity of moisture as a chemical men­struum, even when it is much below the freezing point, as appears from the diminution of ice suspended in frosty air, but a much greater quantity of water is evaporated and suspended in the air by means of heat, which is perhaps the universal cause of fluidity, for water is known to boil with less heat in vacuo, which is a proof that it will evaporate faster in vacuo, and that the air therefore rather hinders than promotes its evaporation in higher degrees of heat. The quick evaporation occasioned in vacuo by a small degree of heat is agreeably seen in what is termed a pulse-glass, which consists of an exhausted tube of glass with a bulb at each end of it and with about two thirds of the cavity filled with alcohol, in which the spirit is instantly seen to boil by the heat of the finger-end applied on a bubble of steam in the lower bulb, and is condensed again in the upper bulb by the least conceivable comparative coldness.

2. Another circumstance evincing that heat is the principal cause of evaporation is that at the time of water being converted into steam, a great quantity of heat is taken away from the neighbouring bodies. If a thermometer be repeatedly dipped in ether, or in rectified spirit of wine, and exposed to a blast of air, to expedite the evaporation by perpetually removing the saturated air from it, the thermometer will presently sink below freezing. This warmth, taken from the ambient bodies at the time of evaporation by the steam, is again given out when the steam is condensed into water. Hence the water in a worm-tub during distillation so soon becomes hot; and hence the warmth ac­companying the descent of rain in cold weather.

3. The third circumstance, shewing that heat is the principal cause of evaporation, is, that some of the steam becomes again condensed when any part of the heat is withdrawn. Thus when warmer south-west winds replete with moisture succeed the colder north­east winds all bodies that are dense and substantial, as stone walls, brick floors, &c. absorb some of the heat from the passing air, and its moisture becomes precipitated on them, while the north-east winds become warmer on their arrival in this latitude, and are thence disposed to take up more moisture, and are termed drying winds.

4. Heat seems to be the principal cause of the solution of many other bodies, as common salt, or blue vitriol dissolved in water, which when exposed to severe cold are precipitated, or carried, to the part of the water last frozen; this I observed in a phial filled with a solution of blue vitriol which was frozen; the phial was burst, the ice [Page 68] thawed, and a blue column of cupreous vitriol was left standing upright on the bottom of the broken glass, as described in note XIX.

II. Hence water may either be dissolved in air, and may then be called an aerial solution of water; or it may be dissolved in the fluid matter of heat, according to the theory of M. Lavoisier, and may then be called steam. In the former case it is probable there are many other vapours which may precipitate it, as marine acid gas, or fluor acid gas. So alcaline gas and acid gas dissolved in air precipitate each other, nitrous gas pre­cipitates vital air from its azote, and inflammable gas mixed with vital air ignited by an electric spark either produces or precipitates the water in both of them. Are there any subtle exhalations occasionally diffused in the atmosphere which may thus cause rain?

1. But as water is perhaps many hundred times more soluble in the fluid matter of heat than in air, I suppose the education of this heat, by whatever means it is occasioned, is the principal cause of devaporation. Thus if a region of air is brought from a warmer climate, as the S. W. winds, it becomes cooled by its contact with the earth in this latitude, and parts with so much of its moisture as was dissolved in the quantity of calorique, or heat, which it now looses, but retains that part which was suspended by its attraction to the particles of air, or by aerial solution, even in the most severe frosts.

2. A second immediate cause of rain is a stream of N. E. wind descending from a superior current of air, and mixing with the warmer S. W. wind below; or the reverse of this, viz. a superior current of S. W. wind mixing with an inferior one of N. E. wind; in both these cases the whole heaven becomes instantly clouded, and the moisture contained in the S. W. current is precipitated. This cause of devaporation has been ingeniously explained by Dr. Hutton in the Transact. of Edinburgh, Vol. I. and seems to arise from this circumstance; the particles of air of the N. E. wind educe part of the heat from the S. W. wind, and therefore the water which was dissolved by that quantity of heat is precipitated; all the other part of the water, which was suspended by its attraction to the particles of air, or dissolved in the remainder of the heat, continues unprecipitated.

3. A third method by which a region of air becomes cooled, and in consequence deposits much of its moisture, is from the mechanical expansion of air, when part of the pressure is taken off. In this case the expanded air becomes capable of receiving or attracting more of the matter of heat into its interstices, and the vapour, which was previously dissolved in this heat, is deposited, as is seen in the receiver of an air-pump, which becomes dewy, as the air within becomes expanded by the education of part of it. See note VII. Hence when the mercury in the barometer sinks without a change of the wind the air generally becomes colder. See note VII. on Elementary Heat. And it is probably from the varying pressure of the incumbent air that in summer days small black clouds are often thus suddenly produced, and again soon vanish. See a paper in Philos. Trans. Vol. LXXVIII. intitled Frigorific Experiments on the Mechanical Ex­pansion of Air.

[Page 69] 4. Another portion of atmospheric water may possibly be held in solution by the electric fluid, since in thunder storms a precipitation of the water seems to be either the cause or the consequence of the eduction of the electricity. But it appears more pro­bable that the water is condensed into clouds by the eduction of its heat, and that then the surplus of electricity prevents their coalescence into larger drops, which immediately succeeds the departure of the lightning.

5. The immediate cause why the barometer sinks before rain is, first, because a region of warm air, brought to us in the place of the cold air which it had displaced, must weigh lighter, both specifically and absolutely, if the height of the warm atmosphere be supposed to be equal to that or the preceeding cold one. And secondly, after the drops of rain begin to fall in any column of air, that column becomes lighter, the falling drops only adding to the prssure of the air in proportion to the resistance which they meet with in passing through that fluid.

If we could suppose water to be dissolved in air without heat, or in very low degrees of heat, I suppose the air would become heavier, as happens in many chemical solution, but if water dissolved in the matter of heat, or calorique, be mixed with an aerial solutions, of water, there can be no doubt but an atmosphere consisting of such a mixture must become lighter in proportion to the quantity of calorique. On the same circumstance depends the visible vapour produced from the breath of animals in cold weather, or from a boiling kettle; the particles of cold air, with which it is mixed, steal a part of its heat, and become themselves raised in temperature, whence part of the water is precipitated in visible vapour, which, if in great quantity sinks to the ground; if in small quantity, and the surrounding air is not previously saturated, it spreads itself till it becomes again dissolved.


Your lucid bands condense with fingers chill
The blue mist hovering round the gelid hill.
CANTO III. l. 19.

THE surface of the earth consists of strata many of which were formed originally beneath the sea, the mountains were afterwards forced up by subterraneous fires, as appears from the fillures in the rocks of which they consist the quantity of volcanic productions all over the world, and the numerous remains of craters of volcanos in mountainous countries. Hence the strata which compose the sides of mountains lie slanting downwards, and one or two or more of the external strata not reaching to the summit when the mountain was raised up, the second or third stratum or a more inferior one is there exposed to day; this may be well represented by forceably thrusting a blunt instrument through several sheets of paper, a bur will stand up with the lowermost sheet standing highest in the center of it. On this uppermost stratum, which is colder as it is more elevated, the dews are condensed in large quantities; and sliding down pass under the first or second or third stratum which compose the sides of the hill; and either form a morass below, or a weeping rock, by oozing out in numerous places, or many of these less currents meeting together burst out in a more copious rill.

The summits of mountains are much colder than the plains in their vicinity, owing to several causes; 1. Their being in a manner insulated or cut off from the common heat of the earth, which is always of 48 degrees, and perpetually counteracts the effects of external cold beneath that degree. 2. From their surfaces being larger in proportion to their solid contents, and hence their heat more expeditiously carried away by the ever-moving atmosphere. 3. The increasing rarity of the air as the mountain rises. All those bodies which conduct electricity well or ill, conduct the matter of heat likewise well or ill. See note VII. Atmospheric air is a bad conductor of electricity and thence confines it on the body where it is accumulated, but when it is made very rare, as in the exhausted receiver, the electric aura passes away immediately to any distance. The same circumstance probably happens in respect to heat, which is thus kept by the denser air on the plains from escaping, but is dissipated on the hills where the air is thinner. 4. As the currents of air rise up the sides of mountains they become mechanically rarefied, the pressure of the incumbent column lessening as they ascend. Hence the expanding air absorbs heat from the mountain as it ascends, as explained in note VII. 5. There is another, and perhaps more powerful cause, I suspect, which may occasion the great cold on mountains, and in the higher parts of the atmosphere, and which has not yet been attended to; I mean that the fluid matter of heat may prodably gravitate round the earth, and form an atmosphere on its surface, mixed with the aerial atmosphere, which may diminish or become rarer, as it recedes from the earth's surface, in a greater proportion than the air diminishes.

[Page 71] 6. The great condensation of moisture on the summits of hills has another cause, which is the dashing of moving clouds against them, in misty days this is often seen to have great effect on plains, where an eminent tree by obstructing the mist as it moves along shall have a much greater quantity of moisture drop from its leaves than falls at the same time on the ground in its vicinity. Mr. White, in his History of Selborne gives an account of a large tree so situated, from which a stream flowed during a moving mist so as to fill the cart-ruts in a lane otherwise not very moist, and ingeniously adds, that trees planted about ponds of stagnant water contribute much by these means to supply the reservoir. The spherules which constitute a mist or cloud are kept from uniting by so small a power that a little agitation against the leaves of a tree, or the greater attraction of a flat moist surface, condenses or precipitates them.

If a leaf has its surface moistened and particles of water separate from each other as in a mist be brought near the moistened surface of a leaf, each particle will be attracted more by that plain surface of water on the leaf than it can be by the surrounding particles of the mist, because globules only attract each other in one point, whereas a plain attracts a globule by a greater extent of its surface.

The common cold springs are thus formed on elevated grounds by the condensed vapours, and hence are stronger when the nights are cold after hot days in spring, than even in the wet days of winter. For the warm atmosphere during the day has dissolved much more water than it can support in solution during the cold of the night, which is thus deposited in large quantities on the hills, and yet so gradually as to soak in between the strata of them, rather than to slide off over their surfaces like showers of rain. The common heat of the internal parts of the earth is ascertained by springs which arise from strata of earth too deep to be affected by the heat of summer or the frosts of winter. Those in this country are of 48 degrees of heat, those about Philidelphia were said by Dr. Franklin to be 52; whether this variation is to be accounted for by the difference of the sun's heat on that country, according to the ingenious theory of Mr. Kirwan, or to the vicinity of subterranean fires is not yet, I think, decided. There are however sub­terraneous streams of water not exactly produced in this manner, as streams issuing from fissures in the earth, communicating with the craters of old volcanoes; in the Peak of Derbyshire are many hollows, called swallows, where the land floods sink into the earth, and come out at some miles distant, as at Ilam near Ashborne. See note on Fica, Vol. II.

Other streams of cold water arise from beneath the snow on the Alps and Andes, and other high mountains, which is perpetualy thawing at its under surface by the common heat of the earth, and gives rise to large rivers. For the origin of warm springs see note on Fucus, Vol. II.


You round Echinus ray his arrowy mail,
Give the keel'd Nautilus his oar and sail.
Firm to his rock with silver cords suspend
The anchor'd Pinna, and his Cancer-friend.
CANTO III. l. 67.

THE armour of the Echinus, or Sea-hedge Hog, consists generally of moveable spines; (Linnei System. Nat. Vol. I. p. 1102.) and in that respect resembles the armour of the land animal of the same name. The irregular protuberances on other sea-shells, as on some species of the Purpura, and Murex, serve them as a fortification against the attacks of their enemies.

It is said that this animal foresees tempestuous weather, and sinking to the bottom of the sea adheres firmly to sea-plants, or other bodies by means of a substance which resembles the horns of snails. Above twelve hundred of these fillets have been counted by which this animal fixes itself; and when afloat, it contracts these fillets between the bases of its points, the number of which often amounts to two thousand. Dict. raisonne. art. Oursin. de mer.

There is a kind of Nautilus, called by Linneus, Argonauta, whose shell has but one cell; of this animal Pliny affirms, that having exonerated its shell by throwing out the water, it swims upon the surface, extending a web of wonderful tenuity, and bending back two of its arms and rowing with the rest, makes a sail, and at length receiving the water dives again. Plin. IX. 29. Linneus adds to his description of this animal, that like the the Crab Diogenes or Bernhard, it occupies a house not its own, as it is not connected to its shell, and is therefore foreign to it; who could have given credit to this if it had not been attested by so many who have with their own eyes seen this argonaut in the act of sailing? Syst. Nat. p. 1161.

The Nautilus, properly so named by Linneus, has a shell consisting of many cham­bers, of which cups are made in the East with beautiful painting and carving on the mother-pearl. The animal is said to inhabit only the uppermost or open chamber, which is larger than the rest; and that the rest remain empty except that the pipe, or siphun­culus, which communicates from one to the other of them is filled with an appendage of the animal like a gut or string. Mr. Hook in his Philos. Exper. p. 306, imagines this to be a dilatable or compressible tube, like the air-bladders of fish, and that by contracting or permitting it to expand, it renders its shell boyant or the contrary. See Note on Ulva, Vol. II.

The Pinna, or Sea-wing, is contained in a two-valve shell, weighing sometimes fifteen pounds, and emits a beard of fine long glossy silk-like fibres, by which it is suspended to the rocks twenty or thirty feet beneath the surface of the sea. In this situation it is so successfully attacked by the eight-footed Polypus, that the species perhaps could not exist [Page 73] but for the exertions of the Cancer Pinnotheris, who lives in the same shell as a guard and companion. Amoen. Academ. Vol. II. p. 48. Lin. Syst. Nat. Vol. I. p. 1159, and p. 1040.

The Pinnotheris, or Pinnophylax, is a small crab naked like Bernard the Hermit, but is furnished with good eyes, and lives in the same shell with the Pinna; when they want food the Pinna opens its shell, and sends its faithful ally to forage; but if the Cancer sees the Polypus, he returns suddenly to the arms of his blind hostesss, who by closing the shell avoids the fury of her enemy; otherwise, when it has procured a booty, it brings it to the opening of the shell, where it is admitted, and they divide the prey. This was observed by Haslequist in his voyage to Palestine.

The Byssus of the antients, according to Aristotle, was the beard of the Pinna above mentioned, but seems to have been used by other writers indiscriminately for any spun material, which was esteemed finer or more valuable than wool. Reaumur says the threads of this Byssus are not less fine or less beautiful than the silk, as it is spun by the silk-worm; the Pinna on the coasts of Italy and Provence (where it is fished up by iron­hooks fixed on long poles) is called the silk-worm of the sea. The stockings and gloves manufactured from it, are of exquisite fineness, but too warm for common wear, and are thence esteemed useful in rhumatism and gout. Dict. Raisonné art. Pinne-marine. The warmth of the Byssus, like that of silk, is probably owing to their being bad conductors of heat, as well as of electricity. When these fibres are broken by violence, this animal as well as the muscle has the power to reproduce them like the common spiders, as was observed by M. Adanson. As raw silk, and raw cobwebs, when swallowed, are liable to produce great sickness (as I am informed) it is probable the part of muscles, which sometimes disagrees with the people who eat them, may be this silky web, by which they attach themselves to stones. The large kind of Pinna contains some mother-pearl of a reddish tinge, according to M. d'Argenville. The substance sold under the name of Indian weed, and used at the bottom of fish-lines, is probably a production of this kind, which however is scarcely to be distinguished by the eye from the tendons of a rat's tail, after they have been separated by putrefaction in water, and well cleaned and rubbed; a production, which I was once shewn as a great curiosity; it had the upper­most bone of the tail adhering to it, and was said to have been used as an ornament in a lady's hair.


With worm-like beard his toothless lips array,
And teach the unweildy Sturgeon to betray.
CANTO III. l. 71.

THE Sturgeon, Acipenser, Strurio. Lin. Syst. Nat. Vol. I. p. 403. is a fish of great cu­riosity as well as of great importance; his mouth is placed under the head, without teeth, like the opening of a purse, which he has the power to push suddenly out or retract. Before this mouth under the beak or nose hang four tendrils some inches long, and which so resemble earth-worms that at first sight they may be mistaken for them. This clumsy toothless fish is supposed by this contrivance to keep himself in good condition, the solidity of his flesh evidently shewing him to be a fish of prey. He is said to hide his large body amongst the weeds near the sea-coast, or at the mouths of large rivers, only exposing his cirrhi or tendrils, which small fish or sea-insects mistaking for real worms approach for plunder, and are sucked into the jaws of their enemy. He has been sup­posed by some to root into the soil at the bottom of the sea or rivers; but the cirrhi, or tendrills abovementioned, which hang from his snout over his mouth, must themselves be very inconvenient for this purpose, and as it has no jaws it evidently lives by suction, and during its residence in the sea a quantity of sea-insects are found in its stomach.

The flesh was so valued in the time of the Emperor Severus, that it was brought to table by servants with coronets on their heads, and preceded by music, which might give rise to its being in our country presented by the Lord Mayor to the King. At present it is caught in the Danube, and the Walga, the Don, and other large rivers for various pur­poses. The skin makes the best covering for carriages; isinglass is prepared from parts of the skin; cavear from the spawn; and the flesh is pickled or salted, and sent all over Europe.


Who with fine films, suspended o'er the deep,
Of Oil effusive lull the waves to sleep.
CANTO III. l. 87.

THERE is reason to believe that when oil is poured upon water, the two surfaces do not touch each other, but that the oil is suspended over the water by their mutual repulsion. This seems to be rendered probable by the following experiment: if one drop of oil be droped on a bason of water, it will immediately diffuse itself over the whole, for there being no friction between the two surfaces, there is nothing to prevent its spreading itself by the gravity of the upper part of it, except its own tenacity, into a pellicle [Page 75] of the greatest tenuity. But if a second drop of oil be put upon the former, it does not spread itself, but remains in the form of a drop, as the other already occupied the whole surface of the bason, and there is friction in oil passing over oil, though none in oil passing over water.

Hence when oil is diffused on the surface of water gentle breezes have no influence in raising waves upon it; for a small quantity of oil will cover a very great surface of water, (I suppose a spoonful will diffuse itself over some acres) and the wind blowing upon this carries it gradually forwards; and there being no friction between the two surfaces the water is not affected. On which account oil has no effect in stilling the agitation of the water after the wind ceases, as was found by the experiments of Dr. Franklin.

This circumstance lately brought into notice by Dr. Franklin had been mentioned by Pliny, and is said to be in use by the divers for pearls, who in windy weather taken down with them a little oil in their mouths, which they occasionally give out when the in­equality of the supernatant waves prevents them from seeing sufficiently distinctly for their purpose.

The wonderful tenuity with which oil can be spread upon water is evinced by a few drops projected from a bridge, where the eye is properly placed over it, passing through all the prismatic colours as it diffuses itself. And also from another curious ex­periment of Dr. Franklin's: he cut a piece of cork to about the size of a letter-wafer, leaving a point standing off like a tangent at one edge of the circle. This piece of cork was then dipped in oil and thrown into a large pond of water, and as the oil flowed off at the point, the cork-wafer continued to revolve in a contrary direction for several minutes. The oil flowing off all that time at the pointed tangent in coloured streams. In a small pond of water this experiment does not so well succeed, as the circulation of the cork stops as soon as the water becomes covered with the pellicle of oil. See Additional Note, No. XIII. and Note on Fucus, Vol. II.

The ease with which oil and water slide over each other is agreeably seen if a phial be about half filled with equal parts of oil and water, and made to oscillate suspended by a string, the upper surface of the oil and the lower one of the water will always keep smooth; but the agitation of the surfaces where the oil and water meet, is curious; for their specific gravities being not very different, and their friction on each other nothing, the highest side of the water, as the phial descends in its oscillation, having acquired a greater momentum than the lowest side (from its having descended further) would rise the highest on the ascending side of the oscillation, and thence pushes the then uppermost part of the water amongst the oil.


Meet fell Teredo, as he mines the keel
With beaked head, and break his lips of steel.
CANTO III. l. 91.

THE Teredo, or ship-worm, has two calcareous jaws, hemispherical, flat before, and angular behind. The shell is taper, winding, penetrating ships and submarine wood, and was brought from India into Europe, Linnei System. Nat. p. 1267. The Tarieres, or sea-worms, attack and erode ships with such fury, and in such num­bers, as often greatly to endanger them. It is said that our vessels have not known this new enemy above fifty years, that they were brought from the sea about the Antilles to our parts of the ocean, where they have increased prodigiously. They bore their passage in the direction of the fibres of the wood, which is their nourishment, and cannot return or pass obliquely, and thence when they come to a knot in the wood, or when two of them meet together with their stony mouths, they perish for want of food.

In the years 1731 and 1732 the United Provinces were under a dreadful alarm concerning these insects, which had made great depredation on the piles which support the banks of Zeland, but it was happily discovered a few years afterwards that these insects had totally abandoned that island, (Dict. Raisonné, art. Vers Rongeurs,) which might have been occasioned by their not being able to live in that latitude when the winter was rather severer than usual.


Turn the broad helm, the fluttering canvas urge
From Maelstrom's fierce innavigable surge.
CANTO III. l. 93.

ON the coast of Norway there is an extensive vortex, or eddy, which lies between the islands of Moskoe and Moskenas, and is called Moskoestrom, or Maelstrom; it occupies some leagues in circumference, and is said to be very dangerous and often destructive to vessels navigating these seas. It is not easy to understand the existence of a constant descending stream without supposing it must pass through a subterranean cavity to some other part of the earth or ocean which may lie beneath its level; as the Mediterranean seems to lie beneath the level of the Atlantic ocean, which therefore [Page 77] constantly flows into it through the Straits; and the waters of the Gulph of Mexico lie much above the level of the sea about the Floridas and further northward, which gives rise to the Gulph-stream, as described in note on Cassia in Vol. II.

The Maelstrom is said to be still twice in about twenty-four hours when the tide is up, and most violent at the opposite times of the day. This is not difficult to account for, since when so much water is brought over the subterraneous passage, if such exists, as compleatly to fill it and stand many feet above it, less disturbance must appear on the surface. The Maelstrom is described in the Memoires of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Pontoppiden's Hist. of Norway, and in Universal Museum for 1763, p. 131.

The reason why eddies of water become hollow in the middle is because the water immediately over the centre of the well, or cavity, falls faster, having less friction to oppose its descent, than the water over the circumference or edges of the well. The circular motion or gyration of eddies depends on the obliquity of the course of the stream, or to the friction or opposition to it being greater on one side of the well than the other; I have observed in water passing through a hole in the bottom of a trough, which was always kept full, the gyration of the stream might be turned either way by increasing the opposition of one side of the eddy with ones finger, or by turning the spout, through which the water was introduced, a little more obliquely to the hole on one side or on the other. Lighter bodies are liable to be retained long in eddies of water, while those rather heavier than water are soon thrown out beyond the circum­ference by their acquired momentum becoming greater than that of the water. Thus if equal portions of oil and water be put into a phial, and by means of a string be whirled in a circle round the hand, the water will always keep at the greater distance from the centre, whence in the eddies formed in rivers during a flood a person who endeavours to keep above water or to swim is liable to be detained in them, but on suffering himself to sink or dive he is said readily to escape. This circulation of water in descending through a hole in a vessel Dr. Franklin has ingeniously applied to the explanation of hurricanes or eddies of air.


While round dark crags imprison'd waters bend
Through rifted ice, in ivory veins descend.
CANTO III. l. 113.

THE common heat of the interior parts of the earth being always 48 degrees, both in winter and summer, the snow which lies in contact with it is always in a thawing state; Hence in ice-houses the external parts of the collection of ice is perpetually thawing and thus preserves the internal part of it; so that it is necessary to lay up many tons for the preservation of one ton. Hence in Italy considerable rivers have their source from beneath the eternal glaciers, or mountains of snow and ice.

In our country when the air in the course of a frost continues a day or two at very near 32 degrees, the common heat of the earth thaws the ice on its surface, while the thermometer remains at the freezing point. This circumstance is often observable in the rimy mornings of spring; the thermometer shall continue at the freezing point, yet all the rime will vanish, except that which happens to lie on a bridge, a board, or on a cake of cow-dung, which being thus as it were insulated or cut off from so free a com­munication with the common heat of the earth by means of the air under the bridge, or wood, or dung, which are bad conductors of heat, continues some time longer unthawed. Hence when the ground is covered thick with snow, though the frost continues, and the sun does not shine, yet the snow is observed to decrease very sensibly. For the common heat of the earth melts the under surface of it, and the upper one evaporates by its solution in the air. The great evaporation of ice was observed by Mr. Boyle, which experiment I repeated some time ago. Having suspended a piece of ice by a wire and weighed it with care without touching it with my hand, I hung it out the whole of a clear frosty night, and sound in the morning it had lost nearly a fifth of its weight. Mr. N. Wallerius has since observed that ice at the time of its congelation evaporates faster than water in its fluid form; which may be accounted for from the heat given out at the instant of freezing; (Saussure's Essais sur Hygromet. p. 249.) but this effect is only momentary.

Thus the vegetables that are covered with snow are seldom injured; since, as they lie between the thawing snow, which has 32 degrees of heat, and the covered earth which has 48, they are preserved in a degree of heat between these; viz. in 40 degrees of heat. Whence the moss on which the rein-deer feed in the northern latitudes vegetates beneath the snow; (See note on Muschus, Vol. II.) and hence many Lapland and Alpine plants perished through cold in the botanic garden at Upsal, for in their native situations, though the cold is much more intense, yet at its very commencement they are covered deep with snow, which remains till late in the spring. For this fact see Amaenit. Academ. Vol. I. No. 48. In our climate such plants do well covered with dried fern, under which they will grow, and even flower, till the severe vernal frosts cease. For the increase of glaciers see Note on Canto I. l. 529.


While southern gales o'er western oceans roll,
And Eurus steas his ice-winds from the pole.
CANTO IV. l. 15

THE theory of the winds is yet very imperfect, in part perhaps owing to the want of observations sufficiently numerous of the exact times and places where they begin and cease to blow, but chiefly to our yet imperfect knowledge of the means by which great regions of air are either suddenly produced or suddenly destroyed.

The air is perpetually subject to increase or diminution from its combination with other bodies, or its evolution from them. The vital part of the air, called oxygene, is continually produced in this climate from the perspiration of vegetables in the sunshine, and probably from the action of light on clouds or on water in the tropical climates, where the sun has greater power, and may exert some yet umknown laws of luminous combination. Another part of the atmosphere, which is called azote, is perpetually set at liberty from animal and vegetable bodies by putrefaction or combustion, from many springs of water, from volatile alcali, and probably from fixed alcali, of which there is an exhaustless source in the water of the ocean. Both these component parts of the air are perpetually again diminished by their contact with the soil, which covers the surface of the earth, producing nitre. The oxygene is diminished in the production of all acids, of which the carbonic and muriatic exist in great abundance. The azote is diminished in the growth of animal bodies, of which it constitutes an important part, and in its combinations with many other natural productions.

They are both probably diminished in immense quantities by uniting with the inflammable air, which arises from the mud of rivers and lakes at some seasons, when the atmosphere is light: the oxgene of the air producing water, and the azote producing volatile alcali by their combinations with this inflammable air. At other seasons of the year these principles may again change their combinations, and the atmospheric air be reproduced.

Mr. Lavoisier found that one pound of charcoal in burning consumed two pounds nine ounces of vital air, or oxygene. The consumption of vital air in the process of making red lead may readily be reduced to calculation; a small barrel contains about twelve hundred weight of this commodity, 1200 pounds of lead by calcination absorb about 144 pounds of vital air; now as a cubic foot of water weighs 1000 averdupois ounces, and as vital air is above 800 times lighter than water, it follows that every barrel of red lead contains nearly 2000 cubic feet of vital air. If this can be performed in miniature in a small oven, what may not be done in the immense elaboratories of nature!

These great elaboratories of nature include almost all her fossil as well as her animal and vegetable productions. Dr. Priestley obtained air of greater or less purity, both [Page 80] vital and azotic, from almost all the fossil substances he subjected to experiment. Four ounce-weight of lava from Iceland heated in an earthen retort yielded twenty ounce-measures of air.

4ounce-weight of lavagave20ounce measures of air.
1 ½granite20
7gypsum 230
4blue slate230
3 ½ white iron-ore560
4dark iron-ore410
¼stream tin20
2stream tin40
2black wad80
4sand stone75

In this account the fixed air was previously extracted from the limestones by acids, and the heat applied was much less than was necessary to extract all the air from the bodies employed. Add to this the known quantities of air which are combined with the calciform ores, as the ochres of iron, manganese, calamy, grey ore of lead, and some idea may be formed of the great production of air in volcanic eruptions, as mentioned in note on Chunda, Vol. II. and of the perpetual absorptions and evolutions of whole oceans of air from every part of the earth.

But there would seem to be an officina aeris, a shop where air is both manufactured and destroyed in the greatest abundance within the polar circles, as will hereafter be spoken of. Can this be effected by some yet unknown law of the congelation of aqueous or saline fluids, which may set at liberty their combined heat, and convert a part both of the acid and alcali of sea-water into their component airs? Or on the contrary can the electricity of the northern lights convert inflammable air and oxygene into water, whilst the great degree of cold at the poles unites the azote with some other base? Another officina aeris, or manufacture of air, would seem to exist within the tropics or at the line, though in a much less quantity than at the poles, owing perhaps to the action of the sun's light on the moisture suspended in the air, as will also be spoken of hereafter; but in all other parts of the earth these absorptions and evolutions of air in a greater or less degree are perpetually going on in inconceivable abundance; increased probably, and diminished at different seasons of the year by the approach or retrocession of the sun's light; future discoveries must elucidate this part of the subject. To this should be added [Page 81] that as heat and electricity, and perhaps magnetism, are known to displace air, that it is not impossible but that the increased or diminished quantities of these fluids diffused in the atmosphere may increase its weight a well as its bulk; since their specific attractions or affinities to matter are very strong, they probably also possess general gravitation to the earth; a subject which wants further investigation. See Note XXVI.


The velocity of the surface of the earth in moving round its axis diminishes from the equator to the poles. Whence if a region of air in this country should be suddenly removed a few degrees towards the north it must constitute a western wind, because from the velocity it had previously acquired in this climate by its friction with the earth it would for a time move quicker than the surface of the country it was removed to; the contrary must ensue when a region of air is transported from this country a few degrees southward, because the velocity it had acquired in this climate would be less than that of the earth's surface where it was removed to, whence it would appear to constitute a wind from the east, while in reality the eminent parts of the earth would be carried against the too slow air. But if this transportation of air from south to north be performed gradually, the motion of the wind will blow in the diagonal between south and west. And on the contrary if a region of air be gradually removed from north to south it would also blow diagonally between the north and east, from whence we may safely conclude that all our winds in this country which blow from the north or east, or any point between them, consist of regions of air brought from the north; and that all our winds blowing from the south or west, or from any point between them, are regions of air brought from the south.

It frequently happens during the vernal months that after a north-east wind has passed over us for several weeks, during which time the barometer has stood at above 30 ½ inches, it becomes suddenly succeeded by a south-west wind, which also continues several weeks, and the barometer sinks to nearly 28 ½ inches. Now as two inches of the mercury in the barometer balance one-fifteenth part of the whole atmosphere, an important question here presents itself, what is become of all this air.

1. This great quantity of air can not be carried in a superior current towards the line, while the inferior current flows towards the poles, because then it would equally affect the barometer, which should not therefore subside from 30 ½ inches to 28 ½ for six weeks together.

2. It cannot be owing to the air having lost all the moisture which was previously dissolved in it, because these warm south-west winds are replete with moisture, and the cold north-east winds, which weigh up the mercury in the barometer to 31 inches, consist of dry air.

3. It can not be carried over the polar regions and be accumulated on the meridian opposite to us in its passage towards the line, as such an accumulation would equal one-fifteenth of the whole atmosphere, and can not be supposed to remain in that situation for six weeks together,

[Page 82] 4. It can not depend on the existence of tides in the atmosphere, since it must then correspond to lunar periods. Nor to accumulations of air from the specific levity of the upper regions of the atmosphere, since its degree of fluidity must correspond with its tenuity, and consequently such great mountains of air can not be supposed to exist for so many weeks together as the south-west winds sometimes continue.

5. It remains therefore that there must be at this time a great and sudden absorption of air in the polar circle by some unknown operation of nature, and that the south wind runs in to supply the deficiency. Now as this south wind consists of air brought from a part of the earth's surface which moves faster than it does in this climate it must have at the same time a direction from the west by retaining part of the velocity it had previously acquired. These south-west winds coming from a warmer country, and becoming colder by their contact with the earth of this climate, and by their evpansion, (so great a part of the superincumbent atmosphere having vanished,) pre­cipitate their moisture; and as they continue for several weeks to be absorbed in the polar circle would seem to receive a perpetual supply from the tropical regions, especially over the line, as will hereafter be spoken of.

It may sometimes happen that a north-east wind having passed over us may be bent down and driven back before it has acquired any heat from the climate, and may thus for a few hours or a day have a south-west direction, and from its descending from a higher region of the atmosphere may possess a greater degree of cold than an inferior north-east current of air.

The extreme cold of Jan. 13, 1709, at Paris came on with a gentle south wind, and was diminished when the wind changed to the north, which is accounted for by Mr. Homberg from a reflux of air which had been flowing for some time from the north. Chemical Essays by R. Watson, Vol. V. p. 182.

It may happen that a north-east current may for a day or two pass over us and produce incessant rain by mixing with the inferior south-west current; but this as well as the former is of short duration, as its friction will soon carry the inferior current along with it, and dry or frosty weather will then succeed.


The north-east winds of this country consist of regions of air from the north, travelling sometimes at the rate of about a mile in two minutes during the vernal months for several weeks together from the polar regions toward the south, the mercury in the barometer standing above 30. These winds consist of air greatly cooled by the evaporation of the ice and snow over which it passes, and as they become warmer by their contact with the earth of this climate are capable of dissolving more moisture as they pass along, and are thence attended with frosts in winter and with dry hot weather in summer.

1. This great quantity of air can not be supplied by superior currents passing in a contrary direction from south to north, because such currents must as they arise into the atmosphere a mile or two high become exposed to so great cold as to occasion them [Page 83] to deposit their moisture, which would fall through the inferior current upon the earth in some part of their passage.

2. The whole atmosphere must have increased in quantity, because it appears by the barometer that there exists one-fifteenth part more air over us for many weeks together, which could not be thus accumulated by difference of temperature in respect to heat, or by any aerostatic laws at present known, or by any lunar influence.

From whence it would appear that immense masses of air were set at liberty from their combinations with solid bodies, along with a sufficient quantity of combined heat, within the polar circle, or in some region to the north of us; and that they thus per­petually increase the quantity of the atmosphere; and that this is again at certain times re-absorbed, or enters into new combinations at the line or tropical regions. By which wonderful contrivance the atmosphere is perpetually renewed and rendered fit for the support of animal and vegetable life.


The south-east winds of this country consist of air from the north which had passed by us, or over us, and before it had obtained the velocity of the earth's surface in this climate had been driven back, owing to a deficiency of air now commencing at the polar regions. Hence these are generally dry or freezing winds, and if they succeed north-east winds should prognosticate a change of wind from north-east to south-west; the barometer is generally about 30. They are sometimes attended with cloudy weather, or rain, owing to their having acquired an increased degree of warmth and moisture before they became retrograde; or to their being mixed with air from the south.

2. Sometimes these south-east winds consist of a vertical eddy of north-east air, without any mixture of south-west air; in that case the barometer continues above 30, and the weather is dry or frosty for four or five days together.

It should here be observed, that air being an elastic fluid must be more liable to eddies than water, and that these eddies must extend into cylinders or vortexes of greater diameter, and that if a vertical eddy of north-east air be of small diameter or has passed but a little way to the south of us before its return, it will not have gained the velocity of the earth's surface to the south of us, and will in consequence become a south-east wind.—But if the vertical eddy be of large diameter, or has passed much to the south of us, it will have acquired velocity from its friction with the earth's surface to the south of us, and will in consequence on its return become a south-west wind, producing great cold.


There seem to be three sources of the north-west winds of this hemisphere of the earth. 1. When a portion of southern air, which was passing over us, is driven back by accumulation of new air in the polar regions. In this cafe I suppose they are gene­rally moist or rainy winds, with the barometer under 30, and if the wind had previously been in the south-west, it would seem to prognosticate a change to the north-east.

[Page 84] 2. If a current of north wind is passing over us but a few miles high, without any easterly direction; and is bent down upon us, it must immediately possess a westerly direction, because it will now move faster than the surface of the earth where it arrives; and thus becomes changed from a north-east to a north-west wind. This descent of a north-east current of air producing a north-west wind may continue some days with clear or freezing weather, as it may be simply owing to a vertical eddy of north-east air, as will be spoken of below. It may otherwise be forced down by a current of south-west wind passing over it, and in this case it will be attended with rain for a few days by the mixture of the two airs of different degrees of heat; and will prognosticate a change of wind from north-east to south-west if the wind was previously in the north-east quarter.

3. On the eastern coast of North America the north-west winds bring frost, as the north-east winds do in this country, as appears from variety of testimony. This seems to happen from a vertical spiral eddy made in the atmosphere between the shore and the ridge of mountains which form the spine or back-bone of that continent. If a current of water runs along the hypothenuse of a triangle an eddy will be made in the included angle, which will turn round like a water-wheel as the stream passes in contact with one edge of it. The same must happen when a sheet of air flowing along from the north-east rises from the shore in a straight line to the summit of the Apalachian mountains, a part of the stream of north-east air will flow over the mountains, another part will revert and circulate spirally between the summit of the country and the eastern shore, continuing to move toward the south; and thus be changed from a north-east to a north-west wind.

This vertical spiral eddy having been in contact with the cold summits of these mountains, and descending from higher parts of the atmosphere will lose part of its heat, and thus constitute one cause of the greater coldness of the eastern sides of North America than of the European shores opposite to them, which is said to be equal to twelve degrees of north latitude, which is a wonderful fact, not otherwise easy to be explained, since the heat of the springs at Philadelphia is said to be 52, which is greater than the medium heat of the earth in this country.

The existence of vertical eddies, or great cylinders of air rolling on the surface of the earth, is agreeable to the observations of the constructors of windmills; who on this idea place the area of the fails leaning backwards, inclined to the horizon; and believe that then they have greater power than when they are placed quite perpen­dicularly. The same kind of rolling cylinders of water obtain in rivers owing to the friction of the water against the earth at their bottoms; as is known by bodies having been observed to float upon their surfaces quicker than when immersed to a certain depth. These vertical eddies of air probably exist all over the earth's surface, but particularly at the bottom or sides of mountains; and more so probably in the course of the south-west than of the north-east winds; because the former fall from an emi­nence, as it were, on a part of the earth where there is a deficiency of the quantity of air; as is shewn by the sinking of the barometer: whereas the latter are pushed or [Page 85] squeezed forward by an addition to the atmosphere behind them, as appears by the rising of the barometer.


A column of heated air becomes lighter than before, and will therefore ascend, by the pressure of the cold air which surrounds it, like a cork in water, or like heated smoke in a chimney.

Now as the sun passes twice over the equator for once over either tropic, the equator has not time to become cool; and on this account it is in general hotter at the line than at the tropics; and therefore the air over the line, except in some few instances hereafter to be mentioned, continues to ascend at all seasons of the year, pressed upwards by regions of air brought from the tropics.

This air thus brought from the tropics to the equator, would constitute a north wind on one side of the equator, and a south wind on the other; but as the surface of the earth at the equator moves quicker than the surface of the earth at the tropics, it is evident that a region of air brought from either tropic to the equator, and which had previously only acquired the velocity of the earth's surface at the tropics, will now move too flow for the earth's surface at the equator, and will thence appear to move in a direction contrary to the motion of the earth. Hence the trade-winds, though they consist of regions of air brought from the north on one side of the line, and from the south on the other, will appear to have the diagonal direction of north-east and south-west winds.

Now it is commonly believed that there are superior currents of air passing over these north-east and south-west currents in a contrary direction, and which descending near the tropics produce vertical whirlpools of air. An important question here again pre­sents itself, What becomes of the moisture which this heated air ought to deposit, as it cools in the upper regions of the atmosphere in its journey to the tropics? It has been shewn by Dr. Priestley and Mr. Ingenhouz that the green matter at the bottom of cisterns, and the fresh leaves of plants immersed in water, give out considerable quantities of vital air in the sun-shine; that is, the perspirable matter of plants (which is water much divided in its egress from their minute pores) becomes decomposed by the sun's light, and converted into two kinds of air, the vital and inflammable airs. The moisture contained or dis­solved in the ascending heated air at the line must exist in great tenuity; and by being exposed to the great light of the sun in that climate, the water may be decomposed, and the new airs spread on the atmosphere from the line to the poles.

1. From there being no constant deposition of rains in the usual course of the trade-winds, it would appear that the water rising at the line is decomposed in its ascent.

2. From the observations of M. Bougner on the mountain Pinchinca, one of the Cordelieres immediately under the line, there appears to be no condensible vapour above three or four miles high. Now though the atmosphere at that height may be cold to a very considerable degree; yet its total deprivation of condensible vapour would seem to shew, that its water was decomposed; as there are no experiments to evince that any de­gree of cold hitherto known has been able to deprive air of its moisture; and great [Page 86] abundance of snow is deposited from the air that flows to the polar regions, though it is exposed to no greater degrees of cold in its journey thither than probably exists at four miles height in the atmosphere at the line.

3. The hygrometer of Mr. Saussure also pointed to dryness as he ascended into rarer air; the single hair of which it was constructed, contracting from deficiency of moisture. Essais sur l'Hygromet. p. 143.

From these observations it appears either that rare and cold air requires more moisture to saturate it than dense air; or that the moisture becomes decomposed and converted into air, as it ascends into there cold and rare regions of the atmosphere.

4. There seems some analogy between the circumstance of air being produced or generated in the cold parts of the atmosphere both at the line and at the poles.


1. In the Arabian and Indian seas are winds, which blow fix months one way, and six months the other, and are called Monsoons; by the accidental dispositions of land and sea it happens, that in some places the air near the tropic is supposed to become warmer when the sun is vertical over it, than at the line. The air in these places con­sequently ascends pressed upon one side by the north-east regions of air, and on the other side by the south-west regions of air. For as the air brought from the south has pre­viously obtained the velocity of the earth's surface at the line, it moves faster than the earth's surface near the tropic where it now arrives, and becomes a south-west wind, while the air from the north becomes a north-east wind as before explained. These two winds do not so quietly join and ascend as the north-east and south-east winds, which meet at the line with equal warmth and velocity and form the trade-winds; but as they meet in contrary directions before they ascend, and cannot be supposed accurately to ba­lance each other, a rotatory motion will be produced as they ascend like water falling through a hole, and an horizontal or spiral eddy is the consequence; these eddies are more or less rapid, and are called Tornadoes in their most violent state, raising water from the ocean in the west or sand from the deserts of the east, in less violent degrees they only mix together the two currents of north-east and south-west air, and produce by this means incessant rains, as the air of the north-east acquires some of the heat from the south-west wind, as explained in Note XXV. This circumstance of the eddies produced by the monsoon-winds was seen by Mr. Bruce in Abyssinia; he relates that for many successive mornings at the commencement of the rainy monsoon, he observed a cloud of apparently small dimensions whirling round with great rapidity, and in a few minutes the heavens became covered with dark clouds with consequent great rains. See Note on Canto III. l. 125.

2. But it is not only at the place where the air ascends at the northern extremity of the rainy monsoon, and where it forms tornadoes, as observed above by Mr. Bruce, but over a great tract of country several degrees in length in certain parts as in the Arabian sea, a perpetual rain for several months descends, similar to what happens for weeks to­gether in our own climate in a less degree during the south-west winds. Another important [Page 87] question presents itself here, If the climate to which this south-west wind arrives, is not colder than that it comes from, why should it deposit its moisture during its whole journey? if it be a colder climate, why does it come thither? The tornadoes of air above described can extend but a little way, and it is not easy to conceive that a su­perior cold current of air can mix with an inferior one, and thus produce showers over ten degrees of country, since at about three miles high there is perpetual frost; and what can induce these narrow and shallow currents to flow over each other so many hundred miles?

Though the earth at the northren extremity of this monsoon may be more heated by certain circumstances of situation than at the line, yet it seems probable that the interme­diate country between that and the line, may continue colder than the line (as in other parts of the earth) and hence that the air coming from the line to supply this ascent or destruction of air at the northern extremity of the monsoon will be cooled all the way in its approach, and in consequence deposit its water. It seems probable that at the northern extremity of this monsoon, where the tornadoes or hurricanes exist, that the air not only ascends but is in part converted into water, or otherwise diminished in quantity, as no account is given of the existence of any superior currents of it.

As the south-west winds are always attended with a light atmosphere, an incipient vacancy, or a great diminution of air must have taken place to the northward of them in all parts of the earth wherever they exist, and a deposition of their moisture succeeds their being cooled by the climate they arrive at, and not by a contrary current of cold air over them, since in that case the barometer would not sink. They may thus in our own country be termed monsoons without very regular periods.

3. Another cause of TORNADOES independent of the monsoons is ingeniously ex­plained by Dr. Franklin; when in the tropical countries a stratum of inferior air becomes so heated by its contact with the warm earth, that its expansion is increased more than is equivalent to the pressure of the stratum of air over it; or when the superior stratum becomes more condensed by cold than the inferior one by pressure, the upper region will descend and the lower one ascend. In this situation if one part of the atmos­phere be hotter from some fortuitous circumstances, or, has less pressure over it, the lower stratum will begin to ascend at this part, and resemble water falling through a hole as mentioned above. If the lower region of air was going forwards with considerable velocity, it will gain an eddy by rising up this hole in the incumbent heavy air, so that the whirlpool or tornado has not only its progressive velocity, but its circular one also, which thus lifts up or overturns every thing within its spiral whirl. By the weaker whirlwinds in this country the trees are sometimes thrown down in a line of only twenty or forty yards in breadth, making a kind of avenue through a country. In the West Indies the sea rises like a cone in the whirl, and is met by black clouds produced by the cold upper air and the warm lower air being rapidly mixed; whence are produced the great and sudden rains called water-spouts; while the upper and lower airs exchange their plus or minus electricity in perpetual lightenings.


The sea being a transparent mass is less heated at its surface by the sun's rays than the land, and its continual change of surface contributes to preserve a greater uniformity in the heat of the air which hangs over it. Hence the surface of the tropical islands is more heated during the day than the sea that surrounds them, and cools more in the night by its greater elevation: whence in the afternoon when the lands of the tropical islands have been much heated by the sun, the air over them ascends pressed upwards by the cooler air of the incircling ocean, in the morning again the land becoming cooled more than the sea, the air over it descends by its increased gravity, and blows over the ocean near its shores.


1. There are various irregular winds besides those above described, which consist of horizontal or vertical eddies of air owing to the inequality of the earth's surface, or the juxtaposition of the sea. Other irregular winds have their origin from increased evapora­tion of water, or its sudden devaporation and descent in showers; others from the partial expansion and condensation of air by heat and cold; by the accumulation or defect of electric fluid, or to the air's new production or absorption occasioned by local causes not yet discovered. See Notes VII. and XXV.

2. There seem to exist only two original winds: one consisting of air brought from the north, and the other of air brought from the south. The former of these winds has also generally an apparent direction from the east, and the latter from the west, arising from the different velocities of the earth's surface. All the other winds above described are deflections or retrogressions of some parts of these currents of air from the north or south.

3. One fifteenth part of the atmosphere is occasionally destroyed, and occasionally re­produced by unknown causes. These causes are brought into immediate activity over a great part of the surface of the earth at nearly the same time, but always act more power­ful to the northward than to the southward of any given place; and would hence seem to have their principal effect in the polar circles, existing nevertheless though with less power toward the tropics or at the line.

For when the north-east wind blows the barometer rises, sometimes from 28 ½ inches to 30 ½, which shews a great new generation of air in the north; and when the south­west wind blows the barometer sinks as much, which shews a great destruction of air in the north. But as the north-east winds sometimes continue for five or six weeks, the newly-generated air must be destroyed at those times in the warmer climates to the south of us, or circulate in superior currents, which has been shewn to be improbable from its not depositing its water. And as the south-west winds sometimes continue for some weeks, there must be a generation of air to the south at those times, or superior currents, which last has been shewn to be improbable.

4. The north-east winds being generated about the poles are pushed forwards towards the tropics or line, by the pressure from behind, and hence they become warmer, as [Page 89] explained in Note VII. as well as by their coming into contact with a warmer part of the earth which contributes to make these winds greedily absorb moisture in their passage. On the contrary, the south-west winds, as the atmosphere is suddenly diminished in the polar regions, are drawn as it were into an incipient vacancy, and become therefore expanded in their passage, and thus generate cold, as explained in Note VII. and are thus induced to part with their moisture, as well as by their contact with a colder part of the earth's surface. Add to this, that the difference in the sound of the north-east and south-west winds may depend on the former being pushed forwards by a pressure behind, and the latter falling as it were into a partial or incipient vacancy before; whence the former becomes more condensed, and the latter more rarefied as it passes. There is a whistle, termed a lark-call, which consists of a hollow cylinder of tin-plate, closed at each end, about half an inch in diameter and a quarter of an inch high, with opposite holes about the size of a goose-quill through the centre of each end; if this lark-whistle be held between the lips the sound of it is manifestly different when the breath is forceably blown through it from within outwards, and when it is sucked from without inwards. Perhaps this might be worthy the attention of organ-builders.

5. A stop is put to this new generation of air, when about a fifteenth of the whole is produced, by its increasing pressure; and a similar boundary is fixed to its absorption or destruction by the decrease of atmospheric pressure. As water requires more heat to convert it into vapour under a heavy atmosphere than under a light one, so in letting off the water from muddy fish-ponds great quantities of air-bubbles are seen to ascend from the bottom, which were previously confined there by the pressure of the water. Similar bubbles of inflammable air are seen to arise from lakes in many seasons of the year, when the atmosphere suddenly becomes light.

6. The increased absorptions and evolutions of air must, like its simple expansions, depend much on the presence or absence of heat and light, and will hence, in respect to the times and places of its production and destruction, be governed by the approach or retrocession of the sun, and on the temperature, in regard to heat, of various latitudes, and parts of the same latitude, so well explained by Mr. Kirwan.

7. Though the immediate cause of the destruction or reproduction of great masses of air at certain times, when the wind changes from north to south, or from south to north can not yet be ascertained; yet as there appears greater difficulty in accounting for this change of wind for any other known causes, we may still suspect that there exists in the arctic and antarctic circles a BEAR or DRAGON yet unknown to philosophers, which at times suddenly drinks up, and as suddenly at other times vomits out one-fifteenth part of the atmosphere: and hope that this or some future age will learn how to govern and domesticate a monster which might be rendered of such important service to mankind.


IF along with the usual registers of the weather observations were made on the winds in many parts of the earth with the three following instruments, which might be constructed at no great expence, some useful information might be acquired.

[Page 90] 1. To mark the hour when the wind changes from north-east to south-west, and the contrary. This might be managed by making a communication from the vane of a weathercock to a clock; in such a manner, that if the vane should revolve quite round, a tooth on its revolving axis should stop the clock, or put back a small bolt on the edge of a wheel revolving once in twenty-four hours.

2. To discover whether in a year more air passed from north to south, or the con­trary. This might be effected by placing a windmill-sail of copper about nine inches diameter in a hollow cylinder about six inches long, open at both ends, and fixed on an eminent situation exactly north and south. Thence only a part of the north-east and south-west currents would affect the sail so as to turn it; and if its revolutions were counted by an adapted machinery, as the sail would turn one way with the north currents of air, and the contrary one with the south currents, the advance of the counting finger either way would shew which wind had prevailed most at the end of the year.

3. To discover the rolling cylinders of air, the vane of a weathercock might be so suspended as to dip or rise vertically, as well as to have its horizontal rotation.


NORTH-EAST WINDS consist of air flowing from the north, where it seems to be occasionally produced; has an apparent direction from the east owing to its not having acquired in its journey the increasing velocity of the earth's surface; these winds are analogous to the trade-winds between the tropics, and frequently continue in the vernal months for four and six weeks together, with a high barometer, and fair or frosty weather. 2. They sometimes consist of south-west air, which had passed by us or over us, driven back by a new accumulation of air in the north. These continue but a day or two, and are attended with rain. See Note XXV.

SOUTH-WEST WIND consists of air flowing from the south, and seems occasionally absorbed at its arrival to the more northern latitudes. It has a real direction from the west owing to its not having lost in its journey the greater velocity it had acquired from the earth's surface from whence it came. These winds are analogous to the monsoons between the tropics, and frequently continue for four or six weeks together, with a low barometer and rainy weather. 2. They sometimes consist of north-east air, which had passed by us or over us, which becomes retrograde by a commencing deficiency of air in the north. These winds continue but a day or two, attended with severer frost with a sinking barometer; their cold being increased by their expansion, as they return, into an incipient vacancy.

NORTH-WEST WINDS consist, first, of south-west winds, which have passed over us, bent down and driven back towards the south by newly generated northern air. They continue but a day or two, and are attended with rain or clouds. 2. They consist of north-east winds bent down from the higher parts of the atmosphere, and having there acquired a greater velocity than the earth's surface; are frosty or fair. 3. They consist of north-east winds formed into a vertical spiral eddy, as on the eastern coasts of North America, and bring severe frost.

[Page 91] SOUTH-EAST WINDS consist, first, of north-east winds become retrograde, continue for a day or two, frosty or fair, sinking barometer. 2. They consist of north-east winds formed into a vertical eddy not a spiral one, frost or fair.

NORTH WINDS consist, first, of air flowing slowly from the north, so that they acquire the velocity of the earth's surface as they approach, are fair or frosty, seldom occur. 2. They consist of retrograde south winds; these continue but a day or two, are pre­ceded by south-west winds; and are generally succeeded by north-east winds, cloudy or rainy, barometer rising.

SOUTH WINDS consist, first, of air flowing slowly from the south, loosing their previous western velocity by the friction of the earth's surface as they approach, moist, seldom occur. 2. They consist of retrograde north winds; these continue but a day or two, are preceded by north-east winds, and generally succeeded by south-west winds, colder, barometer sinking.

EAST WINDS consist of air brought hastily from the north, and not impelled farther southward, owing to a sudden beginning absorption of air in the northern regions, very cold, barometer high, generally succeeded by south-west wind.

WEST WINDS consist of air brought hastily from the south, and checked from pro­ceeding further to the north by a beginning production of air in the northern regions, warm and moist, generally succeeded by north-east wind. 2. They consist of air bent down from the higher regions of the atmosphere, if this air be from the south, and brought hastily it becomes a wind of great velocity, moving perhaps 60 miles an hour, is warm and rainy; if it consists of northern air bent down it is of less velocity and colder.

Application of the preceding Theory to some Extracts from a Journal of the Weather.

Dec. 1, 1790. The barometer sunk suddenly, and the wind, which had been some days north-east with frost, changed to south-east with an incessant though moderate fall of snow. A part of the northern air, which had passed by us I suppose, now became retrograde before it had acquired the velocity of the earth's surface to the south of us, and being attended by some of the southern air in its journey, the moisture of the latter became condensed and frozen by its mixture mith the former.

Dec. 2, 3. The wind changed to north-west and thawed the snow. A part of the southern air, which had passed by us or over us, with the retrograde northern air above described, was now in its turn driven back, before it had lost the velocity of the surface of the earth to the south of us, and consequently became a north-west wind; and not having lost the warmth it brought from the south produced a thaw.

Dec. 4, 5. Wind changed to north-east with frost and a rising barometer. The air from the north continuing to blow, after it had driven back the southern air as above described, became a north-east wind, having less velocity than the surface of the earth in this climate, and produced frost from its coldness.

[Page 92] Dec. 6, 7. Wind now changed to the south-west with incessant rain and a sinking barometer. From unknown causes I suppose the quantity of air to be diminished in the polar regions, and the southern air cooled by the earth's surface, which was previously frozen, deposits its moisture for a day or two; afterwards the wind continued south-west without rain, as the surface of the earth became warmer.

March 18, 1785. There has been a long frost; a few days ago the barometer sunk to 29 ½, and the frost became more severe. Because the air being expanded by a part of the pressure being taken off became colder. This day the mercury rose to 30, and the frost ceased, the wind continuing as before between north and east. March 19. Mercury above 30, weather still milder, no frost, wind north-east. March 20. The same, for the mercury rising shews that the air becomes more compressed by the weight above▪ and in consequence gives out warmth.

April 4, 5. Frost, wind north-east, the wind changed in the middle of the day to the north-west without rain, and has done so for three or four days, becoming again north-east at night. For the sun now giving greater degrees of heat, the air ascends as the sun passes the zenith, and is supplied below by the air on the western side as well as on the eastern side of the zenith during the hot part of the day; whence for a few hours, on the approach of the hot part of the day, the air acquires a westerly direction in this longitude. If the north-west wind had been caused by a retrograde motion of some southern air, which had passed over us, it would have been attended with rain or clouds.

April 10. It rained all day yesterday, the wind north-west, this morning there was a sharp frost. The evaporation of the moisture, (which fell yesterday) occasioned by the continuance of the wind, produced so much cold as to freeze the dew.

May 12. Frequent showers with a current of colder wind preceding every shower. The sinking of the rain or cloud pressed away the air from beneath it in its descent, which having been for a time shaded from the sun by the floating cloud, became cooled in some degree.

June 20. The barometer sunk, the wind became south-west, and the whole heaven was instantly covered with clouds. A part of the incumbent atmosphere having vanished, as appeared by the sinking of the barometer, the remainder became expanded by its elasticity, and thence attracted some of the matter of heat from the vapour inter­mixed with it, and thus in a few minutes a total devaporation took place, as in ex­hausting the receiver of an air-pump. See note XXV. At the place where the air is destroyed, currents both from the north and south flow in to supply the deficiency, (for it has been shewn that there are no other proper winds but these two) and the mixture of these winds produces so sudden condensation of the moisture, both by the coldness of the northern air and the expansion of both of them, that lightning is given out, and an incipient tornado takes place; whence thunder is said frequently to approach against the wind.

August 28, 1732. Barometer was at 31, and Dec. 30, in the same year, it was at 28 2-tenths. Medical Essays, Edinburgh, Vol. II. p. 7. It appears from these journals that the mercury at Edinburgh varies sometimes nearly three inches, or one tenth of [Page 93] the whole atmosphere. From the journals kept by the Royal Society at London it appears seldom to vary more than two inches, or one-fifteenth of the whole atmosphere. The quantity of the variation is said still to decrease nearer the line, and to increase in the more northern latitudes; which much confirms the idea that there exists at certain times a great destruction or production of air within the polar circle.

July 2, 1732. The westerly winds in the journal in the Medical Essays, Vol. II. above referred to, are frequently marked with the number three to shew their greater velocity, whereas the easterly winds seldom approach to the number two. The greater velocity of the westerly winds than the easterly ones is well known I believe in every climate of the world; which may be thus explained from the theory above delivered. 1. When the air is still, the higher parts of the atmosphere move quicker than those parts which touch the earth, because they are at a greater distance from the axis of motion. 2. The part of the atmosphere where the north or south wind comes from is higher than the part of it where it comes to, hence the more elevated parts of the atmosphere continue to descend towards the earth as either of those winds approach. 3. When southern air is brought to us it possesses a westerly direction also, owing to the velocity it had previously acquired from the earth's surface; and if it consists of air from the higher parts of the atmosphere descending nearer the earth, this westerly velocity becomes increased. But when northern air is brought to us, it possesses an apparent easterly direction also, owing to the velocity which it had previously acquired from the earth's surface being less than that of the earth's surface in this latitude; now if the north-east wind consists of air descending from higher parts of the atmosphere, this deficiency of velocity will be less, in consequence of the same cause, viz. The higher parts of the atmosphere descending, as the wind approaches, increases the real velocity of the western winds, and decreases the apparent velocity of the eastern ones.

October 22. Wind changed from south-east to south-west. There is a popular prog­nostication that if the wind changes from the north towards the south passing through the east, it is more likely to continue in the south, than if it passes through the west, which may be thus accounted for. If the north-east wind changes to a north-west wind, it shews either that a part of the northern air descends upon us in a spiral eddy, or that a superior current of southern air is driven back; but if a north-east wind be changed into a south-east wind it shews that the northern air is become retrograde, and that in a day or two, as soon as that part of it has passed, which has not gained the velocity of the earth's surface in this latitude, it will become a south wind for a few hours, and then a south-west wind.

The writer of this imperfect sketch of anemology wishes it may incite some person of greater leizure and ability to attend to this subject, and by comparing the various meteo­rological journals and observations already published, to construct a more accurate and methodical treatise on this interesting branch of philosophy.


And wed the enamoured Oxygene to Light.
CANTO IV. l. 34.

WHEN points or hairs are put into spring-water, as in the experiments of Sir B. Thompson, (Philos. Trans. Vol. LXXVII.) and exposed to the light of the sun, much air, which loosely adhered to the water, rises in bubbles, as explained in note on Fucus, Vol. II. A still greater quantity of air, and of a purer kind, is emitted by Dr. Priestley's green matter, and by vegetable leaves growing in water in the sun-shine, according to Mr. Ingenhouze's experiments; both which I suspect to be owing to a decomposition of the water perspired by the plant, for the edge of a capillary tube of great tenuity may be considered as a circle of points, and as the oxygene, or principle of vital air, may be ex­panded into a gas by the sun's light; the hydrogene or inflammable air may be detained in the pores of the vegetable.

Hence plants growing in the shade are white, and become green by being exposed to the sun's light; for their natural colour being blue, the addition of hydrogene adds yellow to this blue, and tans them green. I suppose a similar circumstance takes place in animal bodies; their perspirable matter as it escapes in the sun-shine becomes decom­posed by the edges of their pores as in vegetables, though in less quantity, as their per­spiration is less, and by the hydrogene being retained the skin becomes tanned yellow. In proof of this it must be observed that both vegetable and animal substances become bleached white by the sun-beams when they are dead, as cabbage-stalks, bones, ivory, tallow, bees-wax, linen and cotton cloth; and hence I suppose the copper-coloured natives of sunny countries might become etiolated or blanched by being kept from their infancy in the dark, or removed for a few generations to more northerly climates.

It is probable that on a sunny morning much pure air becomes separated from the dew by means of the points of vegetables on which it adheres, and much inflammable air imbibed by the vegetable, or combined with it; and by the sun's light thus decom­posing water the effects of it in bleaching linen seems to depend (as described in Note X.): the water is decomposed by the light at the ends or points of the cotton or thread, and the vital air unites with the phlogistic or colouring matters of the cloth, and produces a new acid, which is either itself colourless or washes out, at the same time the inflammable part of the water escapes. Hence there seems a reason why cotton bleaches so much sooner than linen, viz. because its fibres are three or four times shorter, and therefore protrude so many more points, which seem to facilitate the liberation of the vital air from the inflammable part of the water.

Bee's wax becomes bleached by exposure to the sun and dews in a similar manner as metals become calcined or rusty, viz. by the water on their surface being decomposed; and hence the inflammable material which caused the colour becomes united with vital air forming a new acid, and is washed away.

[Page 95] Oil close stopped in a phial not full, and exposed long to the sun's light, becomes bleached, as I suppose, by the decomposition of the water it contains; the inflammable air rising above the surface, and the vital air uniting with the colouring matter of the oil. For it is remarkable, that by shutting up a phial of bleached oil in a dark drawer, it in a little time becomes coloured again.

The following experiment shews the power of light in separating vital air from another basis, viz. from azote. Mr. Scheel inverted a glass vessel filled with colourless nitrous acid into another glass containing the same acid, and on exposing them to the sun's light, the inverted glass became partly filled with pure air, and the acid at the same time became coloured. Scheel in Crell's Annal. 1786. But if the vessel of colourless nitrous acid be quite full and stopped, so that no space is left for the air produced to ex­pand itself into, no change of colour takes place. Priestley's Exp. VI. p. 344. See Keir's very excellent Chemical Dictionary, p. 99. new edition.

A sun-flower three feet and half high according to the experiment of Dr. Hales, per­spired two pints in one day (Vegetable Statics.) which is many times as much in pro­portion to its surface, as is perspired from the surface and lungs of animal bodies; it follows that the vital air liberated from the surfaces of plants by the sunshine must much exceed the quantity of it absorbed by their respiration, and that hence they improve the air in which they live during the light part of the day, and thus blanched vegetables will sooner become tanned into green by the sun's light, than etiolated animal bodies will be­come tanned yellow by the same means.

It is hence evident, that the curious discovery of Dr. Priestley, that his green vegetable matter and other aquatic plants gave out vital air when the sun shone upon them, and the leaves of other plants did the same when immersed in water, as observed by Mr. Ingenhouze, refer to the perspiration of vegetables not to their respiration. Because Dr. Priestley observed the pure air to come from both sides of the leaves and even from the stalks of a water-flag, whereas one side of the leaf only serves the of the office of lungs, and certainly not the stalks. Exper. on Air, Vol. III. And thus in respect to the circum­stance in which plants and animals seemed the furtherest removed from each other, I mean in their supposed mode of respiration, by which one was believed to purify the air which the other had injured, they seem to differ only in degree, and the analogy between them remains unbroken.

Plants are said by many writers to grow much faster in the night than in the day; as is particularly observable in seedlings at their rising out of the ground. This probably is a consequence of their sleep rather than of the absence of light; and in this I suppose they also resemble animal bodies.


While in bright veins the silvery sap ascends.
CANTO IV. l. 419.

AS buds are the viviparous offspring of vegetables, it becomes necessary that they should be furnished with placental vessels for their nourishment, till they acquire lungs or leaves for the purpose of elaborating the common juices of the earth into nutri­ment. These vessels exist in bulbs and in seeds, and supply the young plant with a sweet juice till it acquires leaves, as is seen in converting barley into malt, and appears from the sweet taste of onions and potatoes, when they begin to grow.

The placental vessels belonging to the buds of trees are placed about the roots of most, as the vine; so many roots are furnished with sweet or mealy matter as fern-root, bryony, carrot, turnip, potatoe, or in the alburnum or sap-wood as in those trees which produce manna, which is deposited about the month of August, or in the joints of sugar cane, and grasses; early in the spring the absorbent mouths of these vessels drink up moisture from the earth, with a saccharine matter lodged for that purpose during the preceding autumn, and push this nutritive fluid up the vessels of the alburnum to every individual bud, as is evinced by the experiments of Dr. Hales, and of Mr. Walker in the Edinburgh Philosophical Transact. The former observed that the sap from the stump of a vine, which he had cut off in the beginning of April, arose twenty-one feet high in tubes affixed to it for that purpose, but in a few weeks it ceased to bleed at all, and Dr. Walker marked the progress of the ascending sap, and found likewise that as soon as the leaves became expanded the sap ceased to rise; the ascending juice of some trees is so copious and so sweet during the sap-season that it is used to make wine, as the birch, betula, and sycamore, acer pseudo-platinus, and particularly the palm.

During this ascent of the sap-juice each individual leaf-bud expands its new leaves, and shoots down new roots, covering by their intertexture the old bark with a new one; and as soon as these new roots (or bark) are capable of absorbing sufficient juices from the earth for the support of each bud, and the new leaves are capable of performing their office of exposing these juices to the influence of the air; the placental vessels cease to act, coalesce, and are transformed from sap-wood, or alburnum, into inert wood; serving only for the support of the new tree, which grows over them.

Thus from the pith of the new bud of the horse-chesnut five vessels pass out through the circle of the placental vessels above described, and carry with them a minuter circle of those vessels; these five bundles of vessels unite after their exit, and form the foot­stalk or petiole of the new five-fingered leaf, to be spoken of hereafter. This structure is well seen by cutting off a leaf of the horse-chesnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum) in September before it falls, as the buds of this tree are so large that the flower may be seen in them with the naked eye.

[Page 97] After a time, perhaps about midsummer, another bundle of vessels passes from the pith through the alburnum or sap-vessels in the bosom of each leaf, and unites by the new bark with the leaf, which becomes either a flower-bud or a leaf-bud to be expanded in the ensuing spring, for which purpose an apparatus of placental vessels are produced with proper nutriment during the progress of the summer and autumn, and thus the vegetable becomes annually increased, ten thousand buds often existing on one tree, according to the estimate of Linneus. Phil. Bot.

The vascular connection of vegetable buds with the leaves in whose bosoms they are formed is confirmed by the following experiment, (Oct. 20, 1781.) On the extremity of a young bud of the Mimosa (sensitive plant) a small drop of acid of vitriol was put by means of a pen, and, after a few seconds, the leaf in whose axilla it dwelt closed and opened no more, though the drop of vitriolic acid was so small as apparently only to injure the summit of the bud. Does not this seem to shew that the leaf and its bud have connecting vessels though they arise at different times and from different parts of the medulla or pith? And, as it exists previously to it, that the leaf is the parent of the bud?

This placentation of vegetable buds is clearly evinced from the sweetness of the rising sap, and from its ceasing to rise as soon as the leaves are expanded, and thus compleats the analogy between buds and bulbs. Nor need we wonder at the length of the umbilical cords of buds since that must correspond with their situation on the tree, in the same manner as their lymphatics and arteries are proportionally elongated.

It does not appear probable that any umbilical artery attends these placental ab­sorbents, since, as there seems to be no system of veins in vegetables to bring back the blood from the extremities of their arteries, (except their pulmonary veins,) there could not be any vegetable fluids to be returned to their placenta, which in vege­tables seems to be simply an organ for nutrition, whereas the placenta of the animal foetus seems likewise to serve as a respiratory organ like the gills of fishes.


And refluent blood in milky eddies bends.
CANTO IV. l. 420.

THE individuality of vegetable buds was spoken of before, and is confirmed by the method of raising all kinds of trees by Mr. Barnes. (Method of propagating Fruit Trees. 1759. Lond. Baldwin.) He cut a branch into as many pieces as there were buds or leaves upon it, and wiping the two wounded ends dry he quickly applied to each a cement, previously warmed a little, which consisted principally of pitch, and planted them in the earth. The use of this cement I suppose to consist in its preventing the bud from bleeding to death, though the author ascribes it to its antisceptic quality.

These buds of plants, which are thus each an individual vegetable, in many circum­stances resemble individual animals, but as animal bodies are detached from the earth, and move from place to place in search of food, and take that food at considerable intervals of time, and prepare it for their nourishment within their own bodies after it is taken, it is evident they must require many organs and powers which are not necessary to a stationary bud. As vegetables are immoveably fixed to the soil from whence they draw their mourishment ready prepared, and this uniformly not at returning intervals, it follows that in examining their anatome we are not to look for muscles of locomotion, as arms and legs; nor for organs to receive and prepare their nourishment, as a stomach and bowels; nor for a reservoir for it after it is prepared, as a general system of veins, which in locomotive animals contains and returns the superfluous blood which is left after the various organs of secretion have been supplied, by which con­trivance they are enabled to live a long time without new supplies of food.

The parts which we may expect to find in the anatome of vegetables correspondent to those in the animal economy are, 1. A system of absorbent vessels to imbibe the moisture of the earth similar to the lacteal vessels, as in the roots of plants; and another system of absorbents similar to the lymphatics of animal bodies, opening its mouths on the internal cells and external surfaces of vegetables; and a third system of ab­sorbent vessels correspondent with those of the placentation of the animal foetus. 2. A pulmonary system correspondent to the lungs or gills of quadrupeds and fish, by which the fluid absorbed by the lacteals and lymphatics may be exposed to the in­fluence of the air, this is done by the green leaves of plants, those in the air re­sembling lungs, and those in the water resembling gills; and by the petals of flowers. 3. Arterial systems to convey the fluid thus elaborated to the various glands of the vegetable for the purposes of its growth, nutrition, and various secretions. 4. The various glands which separate from the vegetable blood the honey, wax, gum, resin, starch, sugar, essential oil, &c. 5. The organs adapted for their propagation or re­production. 6. Muscles to perform several motions of their parts.

[Page 99] I. The existence of that branch of the absorbent vessels of vegetables which resembles the lacteals of animal bodies, and imbibes their nutriment from the moist earth, is evinced by their growth so long as moisture is applied to their roots, and their quickly withering when it is withdrawn.

Besides these absorbents in the roots of plants there are others which open their mouths on the external surfaces of the bark and leaves, and on the internal surfaces of all the cells, and between the bark and the alburnum or sap-wood; the existence of these is shewn, because a leaf plucked off and laid with its under side on water will not wither so soon as if left in the dry air,—the same if the bark alone of a branch which is separated from a tree be kept moist with water,—and lastly, by moistening the alburnum or sap-wood alone of a branch detached from a tree it will not so soon wither as if left in the dry air. By the following experiment these vessels were agreeably visible by a common magnifying glass, I placed in the summer of 1781 the footstalks of some large fig-leaves about an inch deep in a decoction of madder, (rubia tinctorum,) and others in a decoction of logwood, (haematoxylum campechense,) along with some sprigs cut off from a plant of picris, these plants were chosen because their blood is white, after some hours, and on the next day, on taking out either of these and cutting off from its bottom about a quarter of an inch of the stalk an internal circle of red points appeared, which were the ends of absorbent vessels coloured red with the decoction, while an external ring of arteries was seen to bleed out hastily a milky juice, and at once evinced both the absorbent and arterial system. These absorbent vessels have been called by Grew, and Malphigi, and some other philosophers, bronchi, and erroneously supposed to be air-vessels. It is probable that these vessels, when cut through, may effuse their fluids, and receive air, their sides being too stiff to collapse; since dry wood emits air­bubles in the exhausted receiver in the same manner as moist wood.

The structure of these vegetable absorbents consists of a spiral line, and not of a vessel interrupted with valves like the animal lymphatics, since on breaking almost any tender leaf and drawing out some of the fibres which adhere longest this spiral structure becomes visible even to the naked eye, and distinctly so by the use of a common lens. See Grew, Plate 51.

In such a structure it is easy to conceive how a vermicular or peristaltic motion of the vessel beginning at the lowest part of it, each spiral ring successively contracting itself till it fills up the tube, must forcibly push forwards its contents, as from the roots of vines in the bleeding season; and if this vermicular motion should begin at the upper end of the vessel it is as easy to see how it must carry its contained fluid in a contrary direction. The retrograde motion of the vegetable absorbent vessels is shewn by cutting a forked branch from a tree, and immersing a part of one of the forks in water, which will for many days prevent the other from withering; or it is shewn by planting a willow branch with the wrong end upwards. This structure in some degree obtains in the esophagus or throat of cows, who by similar means convey their food first downwards [Page 100] and afterward upwards by a retrograde motion of the annular muscles or cartilages for the purpose of a second mastication of it.

II. The fluids thus drank up by the vegetable absorbent vessels from the earth, or from the atmosphere, or from their own cells and interstices, are carried to the foot-stalk of every leaf, where the absorbents belonging to each leaf unite into branches, forming so many pulmonary arteries, and are thence dispersed to the extremities of the leaf, as may be seen in cutting away slice after slice the footstalk of a horse-chesnut in September before the leaf falls. There is then a compleat circulation in the leaf, a pulmonary vein receiving the blood from the extremities of each artery on the upper side of the leaf, and joining again in the footstalk of the leaf these veins produce so many arteries, or aortas, which disperse the new blood over the new bark, elongating its vessels, or pro­ducing its secretions; but as a reservoir of blood could not be wanted by a vegetable bud which takes in its nutriment at all times, I imagine there is no venous system, no veins properly so called, which receive the blood which was to spare, and return it into the pulmonary or arterial system.

The want of a system of veins was countenanced by the following experiment; I cut off several stems of tall spurge, (Euphorbia helioscopia) in autumn, about the centre of the plant, and observed tenfold the quantity of milky juice ooze from the upper than from the lower extremity, which could hardly have happened if there had been a venous system of vessels to return the blood from the roots to the leaves.

Thus the vegetable circulation, complete in the lungs, but probably in the other part of the system deficient in respect to a system of returning veins, is carried forwards without a heart, like the circulation through the livers of animals where the blood brought from the intestines and mesentery by one vein is dispersed through the liver by the vena portarum, which assumes the office of an artery. See Note XXXVII.

At the same time so minute are the vessels in the intertexture of the barks of plants, which belong to each individual bud, that a general circulation may possibly exist, though we have not yet been able to discover the venous part of it.

There is however another part of the circulation of vegetable juices visible to the naked eye, and that is in the corol or petals of flowers, in which a part of the blood of the plant is exposed to the influence of the air and light in the same manner as in the foliage, as will be mentioned more at large in Notes XXXVII and XXXIX.

These circulations of their respective fluids seem to be carried on in the vessels of plants precisely as in animal bodies by their irritability to the stimulus of their adapted fluids, and not by any mechanical or chemical attraction, for their absorbent vessels propel the juice upwards, which they drink up from the earth, with great violence; I suppose with much greater than is exerted by the lacteals of animals, probably owing to the greater minuteness of these vessels in vegetables and the greater rigidity of their coats. Dr. Hales in the spring season cut off a vine near the ground, and by fixing tubes on the remaining stump of it, found the sap to rise twenty-one feet in the tube by the propulsive [Page 101] power of these absorbents of the roots of it. Veget. Stat. p. 102. Such a power can not be produced by capillary attraction, as that could only raise a fluid nearly to the upper edge of the attracting cylinder, but not enable it to flow over that edge, and much less to rise 21 feet above it. What then can this power be owing to? Doubtless to the living activity of the absorbent vessels, and to their increased vivacity from the influence of the warmth of the spring succeeding the winter's cold, and their thence greater susceptibility to irritation from the juices which they absorb, resembling in all circumstances the action of the living vessels of animals.


While spread in air the leaves respiring play.
CANTO IV. l. 421.

I. THERE have been various opinions concerning the use of the leaves of plants in the vegetable oeconomy. Some have contended that they are perspiratory organs; this does not seem probable from an experiment of Dr. Hales, Veg. Stat. p. 30. He found by cutting off branches of trees with apples on them, and taking off the leaves, that an apple exhaled about as much as two leaves, the surfaces of which were nearly equal to the apple; whence it would appear that apples have as good a claim to be termed per­spiratory organs as leaves. Others have believed them excretory organs of excremen­tious juices; but as the vapour exhaled from vegetables has no taste, this idea is no more probable than the other; add to this that in moist weather, they do not appear to per­spire or exhale at all.

The internal surface of the lungs or air-vessels in men, are said to be equal to the ex­ternal surface of the whole body, or about fifteen square feet; on this surface the blood is exposed to the influence of the respired air through the medium however of a thin pel­licle; by this exposure to the air it has its colour changed from deep red to bright scarlet, and acquires something so necessary to the existence of life, that we can live scarcely a minute without this wonderful process.

The analogy between the leaves of plants and the lungs or gills of animals seems to embrace so many circumstances, that we can scarcely withhold our assent to their per­forming similar offices.

1. The great surface of the leaves compared to that of the trunk and branches of trees is such, that it would seem to be an organ well adapted for the purpose of exposing the vegetable juices to the influence of the air; this however we shall see afterwards is pro­bably performed only by their upper surfaces, yet even in this case the surface of the leaves in general bear a greater proportion to the surface of the tree, than the lungs of animals to their external surfaces.

[Page 102] 2. In the lungs of animal, the blood after having been exposed to the air in the ex­tremities of pulmonary artery, is changed in colour from deep red to bright scarlet, and certainly in some of its essential properties; it is then collected by the pulmonary vein and returned to the heart. To shew a similarity of circumstance in the leaves of plants the following experiment was made, June 24, 1781: A stalk with leaves and seed-vessels of large spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia) had been several days placed in a decoction of madder (Rubia tinctorum) so that the lower part of the stem, and two of the undermost leaves were immersed in it. After having washed the immersed leaves in clear water, I could readily discern the colour of the madder passing along the middle rib of each leaf. This red artery was beautifully visible both on the under and upper surface of the leaf; but on the upper side many red branches were seen going from it to the extremities of the leaf, which on the other side were not visible except by looking through it against the light. On this under side a system of branching vessels carrying a pale milky fluid were seen coming from the extremities of the leaf, and covering the whole underside of it, and joining into two large veins, one on each side of the red artery in the middle rib of the leaf, and along with it descending to the footstalk or petiole. On slitting one of these leaves with scissars, and having a common magnifying lens ready, the milky blood was seen oozing out of the returning veins on each side of the red artery in the middle rib, but none of the red fluid from the artery.

All these appearances were more easily seen in a leaf of Picris treated in the same manner; for in this milky plant the stems and middle rib of the leaves are sometimes naturally coloured reddish, and hence the colour of the madder seemed to pass further into the ramifications of their leaf-arteries, and was there beautifully visible with the returning branches of milky veins on each side.

3. From these experiments the upper surface of the leaf appeared to be the immediate organ of respiration, because the coloured fluid was carried to the extremities of the leaf by vessels most conspicuous on the upper surface, and there changed into a milky fluid, which is the blood of the plant, and then returned by concomitant veins on the under surface, which were seen to ooze when divided with scissars, and which in Picris, parti­cularly render the under surface of the leaves greatly whiter than the upper one.

4. As the upper surface of leaves constitutes the organ of respiration, on which the sap is exposed in the terminations of arteries beneath a thin pellicle to the action of the atmosphere, these surfaces in many plants strongly repel moisture, as cabbage-leaves, whence the particles of rain lying over their surfaces without touching them, as observed by Mr. Melville (Essays Literary and Philosop. Edinburgh) have the appearance of glo­bules of quicksilver. And hence leaves laid with the upper surfaces on water, wither as soon as in the dry air, but continue green many days, if placed with the under surfaces on water, as appears in the experiments of Mons. Bonnet (Usage des Fevilles.) Hence some aquatic plants, as the Water-lily (Nymphoea) have the lower sides of their leaves floating on the water, while the upper surfaces remain dry in the air.

5. As those insects, which have many spiracula, or breathing apertures, as wasps and flies, are immediately suffocated by pouring oil upon them, I carefully covered with [Page 103] oil the surfaces of several leaves of Phlomis, of Portugal Laurel, and Balsams, and though it would not regularly adhere, I found them all die in a day or two.

Of aquatic leaves, see Note on Trapa and on Fucus, in Vol. II. to which must be added that many leaves are furnished with muscles about their footstalks, to turn their upper surfaces to the air or light, as Mimosa and Hedysarum gyrans. From all these analogies I think there can be no doubt but that leaves of trees are their lungs, giving out a phlo­gistic material to the atmosphere, and absorbing oxygene or vital air.

6. The great use of light to vegetation would appear from this theory to be by disen­gaging vital air from the water which they perspire, and thence to facilitate its union with their blood exposed beneath the thin surface of their leaves; since when pure air is thus applied, it is probable, that it can be more readily absorbed. Hence in the curious experiments of Dr. Priestley and Mr. Ingenhouze, some plants purified air less than others, that is, they perspired less in the sunshine; and Mr. Scheele found that by putting peas into water, which about half-covered them, that they converted the vital air into fixed air, or carbonic acid gas, in the same manner as in animal respiration. See Note XXXIV.

7. The circulation in the lungs or leaves of plants is very similar to that of fish. In fish the blood after having passed through their gills does not return to the heart as from the lungs of air-breathing animals, but the pulmonary vein taking the structure of an artery after having received the blood from the gills, which there gains a more florrid colour, distributes it to the other parts of their bodies. The same structure occurs in the livers of fish, whence we see in those animals two circulations independent of the power of the heart, viz. that beginning at the termination of the veins of the gills, and branching through the muscles; and that which passes through the liver; both which are carried on by the action of those respective arteries and veins. Monro's Physiology of Fish, p. 19.

The course of the fluids in the roots, leaves, and buds of vegetables seems to be per­formed in a manner similar to both these. First the absorbent vessels of the roots and surfaces unite at the footstalk of the leaf; and then, like the Vena Portarum, an artery commences without the intervention of a heart, and spreads the sap in its numerous rami­fications on the upper surface of the leaf; here it changes its colour and properties, and becomes vegetable blood; and is again collected by a pulmonary vein on the under sur­face of the leaf. This vein, like that which receives the blood from the gills of fish, assumes the office and name of an artery, and branching again disperses the blood up­ward to the bud from the footstalk of the leaf, and downward to the roots; where it is all expended in the various secretions, the nourishment and growth of the plant, as fast as it is prepared.

II. The organ of respiration already spoken of belongs particularly to the shoots or buds, but there is another pulmonary system, perhaps totally independent of the green foliage, which belongs to the fructification only, I mean the corol or petals. In this there is an artery belonging to each petal, which conveys the vegetable blood to its ex­tremities, exposing it to the light and air under a delicate membrane covering the internal surface of the petal, where it often changes its colour, as is beautifully seen in some party-coloured [Page 104] poppies; though it is probable some of the iridescent colours of flowers may be owing to the different degrees of tenuity of the exterior membrane of the leaf refracting the light like soap-bubbles, the vegetable blood is then returned by correspondent vege­table veins, exactly as in the green foliage; for the purposes of the important secretions of honey, wax, the finer essential oil, and the prolific dust of the anthers.

1. The vascular structure of the corol as above described, and which is visible to the naked eye, and its exposing the vegetable juices to the air and light during the day, evinces that it is a pulmonary organ.

2. As the glands which produce the prolific dust of the anthers, the honey, wax, and frequently some odoriferous essential oil, are generally attached to the corol, and always fall off and perish with it, it is evident that the blood is elaborated or oxygenated in this pulmonary system for the purpose of these important secretions.

3. Many flowers, as the Colchicum, and Hamamelis arise naked in autumn, no green leaves appearing till the ensuing spring; and many others put forth their flowers and complete their impregnation early in the spring before the green foliage appears, as Mezereon, cherries, pears, which shews that these corols are the lungs belonging to the fructification.

4. This organ does not seem to have been necessary for the defence of the stamens and pistils, since the calyx of many flowers, as Tragopogon, performs this office; and in many flowers these petals themselves are so tender as to require being shut up in the calyx during the night, for what other use then can such an apparatus of vessels be designed?

5. In the Helleborus-niger, Christmas-rose, after the seeds are grown to a certain size, the nectaries and stamens drop off, and the beautiful large white petals change their colour to a deep green, and gradually thus become as calyx inclosing and defending the ripening seeds, hence it would seem that the white vessels of the corol served the office of exposing the blood to the action of the air, for the purposes of separating or producing the honey, wax, and prolific dust, and when these were no longer wanted, that these vessels coalesced like the placental vessels of animals after their birth, and thus ceased to perform that office and lost at the same time their white colour. Why should they loose their white colour, unless they at the same time lost some other property besides that of defending the seed-vessel, which they still continue to defend?

6. From these observations I am led to doubt whether green leaves be absolutely necessary to the progress of the fruit-bud after the last year's leaves are fallen off. The green leaves serve as lungs to the shoots and foster the new buds in their bosoms, whether these buds be leaf-buds or fruit-buds; but in the early spring the fruit-buds expand their corols, which are their lungs, and seem no longer to require green leaves; hence the vine bears fruit at one joint without leaves, and puts out a leaf-bud at another joint without fruit. And I suppose the green leaves which rise out of the earth in the spring from the Colchicum are for the purpose of producing the new bulb, and its pla­centa, and not for the giving maturity to the seed. When currant or goosberry trees lose their leaves by the depredation of insects the fruit continues to be formed, though less sweet and less in size.

[Page 105] 7. From these facts it appears that the flower-bud after the corol falls off, (which is its lungs,) and the stamens and nectary along with it, becomes simply an uterus for the purpose of supplying the growing embryon with nourishment, together with a system of absorbent vessels which bring the juices of the earth to the footstalk of the fruit, and which there changes into an artery for the purpose of distributing the sap for the secretion of the saccharine or farinaceous or acescent materials for the use of the embryon. At the same time as all the vessels of the different buds of trees inosculate or communicate with each other, the fruit becomes sweeter and larger when the green leaves continue on the tree, but the mature flowers themselves, (the succeeding fruit not considered) perhaps suffer little injury from the green leaves being taken off, as some florists have observed.

8. That the vessels of different vegetable buds inosculate in various parts of their circulation is rendered probable by the increased growth of one bud, when others in its vicinity are cut away; as it thus seems to receive the nourishment which was before divided amongst many.


Love out their hour and leave their lives in air.
CANTO IV. l. 456.

FROM the accurate experiments and observations of Spallanzani it appears that in the Spartium Junceum, rush-broom, the very minute seeds were discerned in the pod at least twenty days before the flower is in full bloom, that is twenty days before fecunda­tion. At this time also the powder of the anthers was visible, but glued fast to their sum­mits. The seeds however at this time, and for ten days after the blossom had fallen off, appeared to consist of a gelatinous substance. On the eleventh day after the falling of the blossom the seeds became heart-shape, with the basis attached by an appendage to the pod, and a white point at the apex; this white point was on pressure found to be a cavity in­cluding a drop of liquor.

On the 25th day the cavity which at first appeared at the apex was much enlarged and still full of liquor, it also contained a very small semi-transparent body, of a yellowish colour, gelatinous, and fixed by its two opposite ends to the sides of the cavity.

In a month the seed was much enlarged and its shape changed from a heart to a kidney, the little body contained in the cavity was increased in bulk and was less transparent, and gelatinous, but there yet appeared no organization.

[Page 106] On the 40th day the cavity now grown larger was quite filled with the body, which was covered with a thin membrane; after this membrane was removed the body appeared of a bright green, and was easily divided by the point of a needle into two portions, which manifestly formed the two lobes, and within these attached to the lower part the exceedingly small plantule was easily perceived.

The foregoing observations evince, 1. That the seeds exist in the ovarium many days before fecundation. 2. That they remain for some time solid, and then a cavity containing a liquid is formed in them. 3. That after fecundation a body begins to appear within the cavity fixed by two points to the sides, which in process of time proves to be two lobes containing a plantule. 4. That the ripe seed consists of two lobes adhering to a plantule, and surrounded by a thin membrane which is itself covered with a husk or cuticle. Spalanzani's Dissertations, Vol. II. p. 253.

The analogy between seeds and eggs has long been observed, and is confirmed by the mode of their production. The egg is known to be formed within the hen long before its impregnation; C. F. Wolf asserts that the yolk or the egg is nourished by the vessels of the mother, and that it has from those its arterial and venous branches, but that after impregnation these vessels gradually become impervious and obliterated, and that new ones are produced from the fetus and dispersed into the yolk. Haller's Physiolog. Tom. VIII. p. 94. The young seed after fecundation, I suppose, is nourished in a similar manner from the gelatinous liquor, which is previously deposited for that purpose; the uterus of the plant producing or secreting it into a reservoir or amnios in which the embryon is lodged, and that the young embryon is furnished with vessels to absorb a part of it, as in the very early embryon in the animal uterus.

The spawn of frogs and of fish is delivered from the female before its impregnation. M. Bonnet says that the male salamander darts his semen into the water, where it forms a little whitish cloud which is afterwards received by the swoln anus of the female, and she is fecundated.—He adds that marine plants approach near to these ani­mals, as the male does not project a fine powder but a liquor which in like manner forms a little cloud in the water.—And further adds, who knows but the powder of the stamina of certain plants may not make some impression on certain germs belonging to the ani­mal kingdom! Letter XLIII. to Spalanzani, Oevres Philos.

Spalanzani found that the seminal fluid of frogs and dogs even when diluted with much water retained its prolific quality. Whether this quality be simply a stimulus exciting the egg into animal action, which may be called a vivifying principle, or whether part of it be actually conjoined with the egg is not yet determined, though the latter seems more probable from the frequent resemblance of the fetus to the male parent. A conjunction however of both the male and female influence seems necessary for the purpose of reproduction throughout all organized nature, as well in hermaphrodite insects, microscopic animals, and polypi, and exists as well in the formation of the buds of vegetables as in the production of their seeds, which is ingeniously conceived and explained by Linneus. After having compared the flower to the larva of a butterfly, [Page 107] consisting of petals instead of wings, calyxes instead of wing-sheaths, with the organs of reproduction, and having shewn the use of the farina in fecundating the egg or seed, he proceeds to explain the production of the bud. The calyx of a flower, he says, is an expansion of the outer bark, the petals proceed from the inner bark or rind, the stamens from the alburnum or woody circle, and the style from the pith. In the pro­duction and impregnation of the seed a commixture of the secretions of the stamens and style are necessary; and for the production of a bud he thinks the medulla or pith bursts its integuments and mixes with the woody part or alburnum, and these forcing their passage through the rind and bark constitute the bud or viviparous progeny of the vegetable. System of Vegetables translated from Linneus, p. 8.

It has been supposed that the embryon vegetable after fecundation, by its living activity or stimulus exerted on the vessels of the parent plant, may produce the fruit or seed-lobes, as the animal fetus produces its placenta, and as vegetable buds may be supposed to produce their umbilical vessels or roots down the bark of the tree. This in respect to the production of the fruit surrounding the seeds of trees has been assimilated to the gall-nuts on oak-leaves, and to the bedeguar on briars, but there is a powerful objection to this doctrine, viz. that the fruit of figs, all which are female in this country, grow nearly as large without fecundation, and therefore the embryon has in them no self-living principle.


Seeks, where fine pores their dulcet balm distil.
CANTO IV. l. 503.

THE glands of vegetables which separate from their blood the mucilage, starch, or sugar for the placentation or support of their seeds, bulbs, and buds; or those which deposit their bitter, acrid, or narcotic juices for their defence from depredations of infects or larger animals; or those which secrete resins or wax for their protection from moisture or frosts, consist of vessels too fine for the injection or absorption of coloured fluids, and have not therefore yet been exhibited to the inspection even of our glasses, and can therefore only be known by their effects, but one of the most curious and im­portant of all vegetable secretions, that of honey, is apparent to our naked eyes, though before the discoveries of Linneus the nectary or honey-gland had not even acquired a name.

[Page 108] The odoriferous essential oils of several flowers seem to have been designed for their defence against the depredations of insects, while their beautiful colours were a necessary consequence of the size of the particles of their blood, or of the tenuity of the exterior membrane of the petal. The use of the prolific dust is now well ascertained, the wax which covers the anthers prevents this dust from receiving moisture, which would make it burst prematurely and thence prevent its application to the stigma, as sometimes happens in moist years and is the cause of deficient fecundation both of our fields and orchards.

The universality of the production of honey in the vegetable world, and the very complicated apparatus which nature has constructed in many flowers, as well as the acrid or deleterious juices she has furnished those flowers with (as in the Aconite) to protect this honey from rain and from the depredations of insects, seem to imply that this fluid is of very great importance in the vegetable economy; and also that it was necessary to expose it to the open air previous to its reabsorption into the vegetable vessels.

In the animal system the lachrymal gland separates its fluid into the open air for the purpose of moistening the eye, of this fluid the part which does not exhale is absorbed by the puncta lachrymalia and carried into the nostrils; but as this is not a nutritive fluid the analogy goes no further than its secretion into the open air and its reabsorption into the system; every other secreted fluid in the animal body is in part absorbed again into the system, even those which are esteemed excrementitious, as the urine and perspirable matter, of which the latter is secreted, like the honey, into the external air. That the honey is a nutritious fluid, perhaps the most so of any vegetable production, appears from its great similarity to sugar, and from its affording sustenance to such numbers of insects, which live upon it solely during summer, and lay it up for their winter provision. These proofs of its nutritive nature evince the necessity of its re­absorption into the vegetable system for some useful purpose.

This purpose however has as yet escaped the researches of philosophical botanists. M. Pontedera believes it designed to lubricate the vegetable uterus, and compares the horn-like nectaries of some flowers to the appendicle of the caecum intestinum of animals. Antholog. p. 49.) Others have supposed that the honey, when reabsorbed, might serve the purpose of the liquor amnii, or white of the egg, as a nutriment for the young embryon or fecundated seed in its early state of existence. But as the nectary is found equally general in male flowers as in female ones; and as the young embryon or seed grows before the petals and nectary are expanded, and after they fall off; and, thirdly, as the nectary so soon falls off after the fecundation of the pistillum; these seem to be insurmountable objections to both the above-mentioned opinions.

In this state of uncertainty conjectures may be of use so far as they lead to further experiment and investigation. In many tribes of insects, as the silk-worm, and perhaps in all the moths and butterflies, the male and female parents die as soon as the eggs are [Page 109] impregnated and excluded; the eggs remaining to be perfected and hatched at some future time. The same thing happens in regard to the male and female parts of flowers; the anthers and filaments, which constitute the male parts of the flower, and the stigma and style, which constitute the female part of the flower, fall off and die as soon as the seeds are impregnated, and along with these the petals and nectary. Now the moths and butterflies above-mentioned, as soon as they acquire the passion and the apparatus for the reproduction of their species, loose the power of feeding upon leaves as they did before, and become nourished by what?—by honey alone.

Hence we acquire a strong analogy for the use of the nectary or secretion of honey in the vegetable economy, which is, that the male parts of flowers, and the female parts, as soon as they leave their fetus-state, expanding their petals, (which constitute their lungs,) become sensible to the passion, and gain the apparatus for the reproduction of their species, and are fed and nourished with honey like the insects above described; and that hence the nectary begins its office of producing honey, and dies or ceases to produce honey at the same time with the birth and death of the stamens and the pistils; which, whether existing in the same or in different flowers, are separate and distinct animated beings.

Previous to this time the anthers with their filaments, and the stigmas with their styles, are in their fetus-state sustained by their placental vessels, like the unexpanded leaf-bud; with the seeds existing in the vegetable womb yet unimpregnated, and the dust yet unripe in the cells of the anthers. After this period they expand their petals, which have been shewn above to constitute the lungs of the flower; the placental vessels, which before nourished the anthers and the stigmas, coalesce or cease to nourish them; and they now acquire blood more oxygenated by the air, obtain the passion and power of reproduction, are sensible to heat, and cold, and moisture, and to mechanic stimulus, and become in reality insects fed with honey, similar in every respect except their being attached to the tree on which they were produced.

Some experiments I have made this summer by cutting out the nectaries of several flowers of the aconites before the petals were open, or had become much coloured, some of these flowers near the summit of the plants produced no seeds, others lower down produced seeds; but they were not sufficiently guarded from the farina of the flowers in their vicinity; nor have I had opportunity to try if these seeds would vegetate.

I am acquainted with a philosopher, who contemplating this subject thinks it not impossible, that the first insects were the anthers or stigmas of flowers; which had-by some means loosed themselves from their parent plant, like the male flowers of Vallisneria; and that many other insects have gradually in long process of time been formed from these; some acquiring wings, others fins, and others claws, from their ceaseless efforts to procure their food, or to secure themselves from injury. He contends, that none of these changes are more incomprehensible than the transformation of tadpoles into frogs, and caterpillars into butterflies.

There are parts of animal bodies, which do not require oxygenated blood for the purpose of their secretions, as the liver; which for the production of bile takes its blood [Page 110] from the mesenteric veins, after it must have lost the whole or a great part of its oxyge­nation, which it had acquired in its passage through the lungs. In like manner the pericarpium, or womb of the flower, continues to secrete its proper juices for the present nourishment of the newly animated embryon-seed; and the saccharine, acescent, or starchy matter of the fruit or seed-lobes for its future growth; in the same manner as these things went on before fecundation; that is, without any circulation of juices in the petals, or production of honey in the nectary; these having perished and fallen off with the male and female apparatus for impregnation.

It is probable that the depredations of insects on this nutritious fluid must be injurious to the products of vegetation, and would be much more so, but that the plants have either acquired means to defend their honey in part, or have learned to make more than is absolutely necessary for their own economy. In the same manner the honey-dew on trees is very injurions to them; in which disease the nutritive fluid, the vegetable-sap-juice, seems to be exsuded by a retrograde motion of the cutaneous lymphatics, as in the sweating sickness of the last century. To prevent the depredation of insects on honey a wealthy man in Italy is said to have poisoned his neighbour's bees perhaps by mixing arsnic with honey, against which there is a most flowery declamation in Quintilian. No. XIII. As the use of the wax is to preserve the dust of the anthers from moisture, which would prematurely burst them, the bees which collect this for the construction of the combs or cells, must on this account also injure the vegetation of a country where they too much abound.

It is not easy to conjecture why it was necessary that this secretion of honey should be exposed to the open air in the nectary or honey-cup, for which purpose of great an apparatus for its defence from insects and from showers became necessary. This diffi­culty increases when we recollect that the sugar in the joints of grass, in the sugar-cane, and in the roots of beets, and in ripe fruits is produced without the exposure to the air. On supposition of its serving for nutriment to the anthers and stigmas it may thus acquire greater oxygenation for the purpose of producing greater powers of sensibility, ac­cording to a doctrine lately advanced by a French philosopher, who has endeavoured to shew that the oxygene, or base of vital air, is the constituent principle of our power of sensibility.

From this provision of honey for the male and female parts of flowers, and from the provision of sugar, starch, oil, and mucilage, in the fruits, seed-cotyledons, roots, and buds of plants laid up for the nutriment of the expanding fetus, not only a very numerous class of insects, but a great part of the larger animals procure their food; and thus enjoy life and pleasure without producing pain to others, for these seeds or eggs with the nutriment laid up in them are not yet endued with sensitive life.

The secretions from various vegetable glands hardened in the air produce gums, resins, and various kinds of saccharine, saponaceous, and wax-like substances, as the gum of cherry or plumb-trees, gum tragacanth from the astragalus tragacantha, camphor from the laurus camphora, elemi from amyris elemifera, aneme from hymenoea courbaril, turpentine from pistacia terebinthus, balsam of Mecca from the buds of amyris opobal­samum, [Page 111] branches of which are placed in the temples of the East on account of their fragrance, the wood is called xylobalsamum, and the fruit carpobalsamum; aloe from a plant of the same name; myrrh from a plant not yet described; the remarkably elastic resin is brought into Europe principally in the form of flasks, which look like black leather, and are wonderfully elastic, and not penetrable by water, rectified ether dissolves it; its flexibility is encreased by warmth and destroyed by cold; the tree which yields this juice is the jatropha elastica, it grows in Guaiana and the neighbouring tracts of America; its juice is said to resemble wax in becoming soft by heat, but that it acquires no elasticity till that property is communicated to it by a secret art, after which it is poured into moulds and well dried and can no longer be rendered fluid by heat. Mr. de la Borde physician at Cayenne has given this account. Manna is obtained at Naples from the fraxinus ornus, or manna-ash, it partly issues spontaneously, which is preferred, and partly exsudes from wounds made purposely in the month of August, many other plants yield manna more sparingly; sugar is properly made from the saccharum officinale, or sugar-cane, but is found in the roots of beet and many other plants; American wax is obtained from the myrica cerifera, candle-berry myrtle, the berries are boiled in water and a green wax separates, with luke warm water the wax is yellow: the seed of croton sebiferum are lodged in tallow; there are many other vegetable exsudations used in the various arts of dyeing, varnishing, tanning, lacquering, and which supply the shop of the druggist with medicines and with poisons.

There is another analogy, which would seem to associate plants with animals, and which perhaps belongs to this Note on Glandulation, I mean the similarity of their digestive powers. In the roots of growing vegetables, as in the process of making malt, the farinaceous part of the seed is converted into sugar by the vegetable power of digestion in the same manner as the farinaceous matter of seeds are converted into sweet chyle by the animal digestion. The sap-juice which rises in the vernal months from the roots of trees through the alburnum or sap-wood, owes its sweetness I suppose to a similar digestive power of the absorbent system of the young buds. This exists in many vegetables in great abundance as in vines, sycamore, birch, and most abundantly in the palm-tree, (Isert's Voyage to Guinea,) and seems to be a similar fluid in all plants, as chyle is similar in all animals.

Hence as the digested food of vegetables consists principally of sugar, and from that is produced again their mucilage, starch, and oil, and since animals are sustained by these vegetable productions, it would seem that the sugar-making process carried on in vegetable vessels was the great source of life to all organized beings. And that if our improved chemistry should ever discover the art of making sugar from fossile or aerial matter without the assistance of vegetation, food for animals would then become as plentiful as water, and mankind might live upon the earth as thick as blades of grass, with no restraint to their numbers but the want of local room.

It would seem that roots fixed in the earth, and leaves innumerable waving in the air were necessary forthe decomposition of water, and the conversion of it into saccharine [Page 112] matter, which would have been not only cumberous but totally incompatible with the locomotion of animal bodies. For how could a man or quadruped have carried on his head or back a forest of leaves, or have had long branching lacteal or absorbent vessels terminating in the earth? Animals therefore subsist on vegetables; that is, they take the matter so far prepared, and have organs to prepare it further for the purposes of higher animation, and greater sensibility. In the same manner the apparatus of green leaves and long roots were found inconvenient for the more animated and sensitive parts of vegetable-flowers, I mean the anthers and stigmas, which are therefore separate beings, endued with the passion and power of reproduction, with lungs of their own, and fed with honey, a food ready prepared by the long roots and green leaves of the plant, and pre­sented to their absorbent mouths.

From this outline a philosopher may catch a glimpse of the general economy of na­ture; and like the mariner cast upon an unknown shore, who rejoiced when he saw the print of a human foot upon the sand, he may cry out with rapture, "A GOD DWELLS HERE."

The following is an Addition to the Note on Coal, No. XXIII.

FROM this account of the production of coals from morasses it would appear, that coal-beds are not to be expected beneath masses of lime-stone. Nevertheless I have been lately informed by my friend Mr. Michell of Thornhill, who I hope will soon favour the public with his geological investigations, that the beds of chalk are the uppermost of all the limestones; and that they rest on the granulated limestone, called ketton-stone; which I suppose is similar to that which covers the whole country from Leadenham to Sleaford, and from Sleaford to Lincoln; and that, thirdly, coal-delphs are frequently found beneath these two uppermost beds of limestone.

Now as the beds of chalk and of granulated limestone may have been formed by alluviation, on or beneath the shores of the sea, or in vallies of the land; it would seem, that some coal countries, which in the great commotions of the earth had been sunk beneath the water, were thus covered with alluvial limestone, as well as others with alluvial basaltes, or common gravel-beds. Very extensive plains which now consist of alluvial materials, were in the early times covered with water; which has since diminished, as the solid parts of the earth have increased. For the solid parts of the earth consisting chiefly of animal and vegetable recrements must have originally been formed or pro­duced from the water by animal and vegetable processes; and as the solid parts of the earth may be supposed to be thrice as heavy as water, it follows that thrice the quantity of water must have vanished compared with the quantity of earth thus produced. This may account for many immense beds of alluvial materials, as gravel, rounded sand, granulated limestone, and chalk, covering such extensive plains as Lincoln-heath, having become dry without the supposition of their having been again elevated from the ocean. At the same time we acquire the knowledge of one of the uses or final causes of the organized world, not indeed very flattering to our vanity, that it converts water into earth, forming islands and continents by its recrements or exuviae.


Expiring groans, p. 98. l. 451. Mr. Savery or Mr. Volney in their Travels through Egypt has given a curious description of one of the pyramids, with the operose method of closing them, and immuring the body, (as they supposed) for six thousand years. And has endeavoured from thence to shew, that, when a monarch died, several of his favourite courtiers were inclosed alive with the mummy in these great masses of stone-work; and had food and water conveyed to them, as long as they lived, proper apertures being left for this purpose, and for the admission of air, and for the exclusion of any thing offensive.

Unfolds his larva-form. p. 197. l. 458. The flower bursts forth from its larva, the herb, naked and perfect like a butterfly from its chrysolis; winged with its corol; wing-sheathed by its calyx; consisting alone of the organs of reproduction. The males, or stamens, have their anthers replete with a prolific powder containing the vivifying fovilla: in the females, or pistils, exists the ovary, terminated by the tubular stigma. When the anthers burst and shed their bags of dust, the male fovilla is received by the pro­lific lymph of the stigma, and produces the seed or egg, which is nourished in the ovary. System of Vegetables translated from Linneus by the Lichfield Society, p. 10.

Wound them ye Sylphs! p. 198. 1. 463. It is customary to debark oak-trees in the spring, which are intended to be felled in the ensuing autumn; because the bark comes off easier at this season, and the sap-wood, or alburnum, is believed to become harder and more durable, if the tree remains till the end of summer. The trees thus stripped of their bark put forth shoots as usual with acorns on the 6th 7th and 8th joint, like vines; but in the branches I examined, the joints of the debarked trees were much shorter than those of other oak-trees; the acorns were more numerous; and no new buds were pro­duced above the joints which bore acorns. From hence it appears that the branches of debarked oak-trees produce fewer leaf-buds, and more flower-buds, which last circum­stance I suppose must depend on their being sooner or later debarked in the vernal months. And, secondly, that the new buds of debarked oak-trees continue to obtain moisture from the alburnum after the season of the ascent of sap in other vegetables ceases; which in this unnatural state of the debarked tree may act as capillary tubes, like the alburnum of the small debarked cylinder of a pear-tree abovementioned; or may continue to act as placental vessels, as happens to the animal embryon in cases of super­fetation; when the fetus continues a month or two in the womb beyond its usual time, of which some instances have been recorded, the placenta continues to supply perhaps the double office both of nutrition and of respiration.

[Page 115] With new prolific power. p. 199. l. 467. About Midsummer the new buds are formed, but it is believed by some of the Linnean school, that these buds may in their early state be either converted into flower-buds or leaf-buds according to the vigour of the vegetating branch. Thus if the upper part of a branch be cut away, the buds near the extremity of the remaining stem, having a greater proportional supply of nutriment, or possessing a greater facility of shooting their roots, or absorbent vessels, down the bark, will become leaf-buds, which might otherwise have been flower-buds. And the con­trary as explained in note on l. 463. of this Canto.

Closed in the style. p. 199. l. 469.

I conceive the medulla of a plant to consist of a bundle of nervous fibres, and that the propelling vital power separates their uppermost extremities. These, diverging, penetrate the bark, which is now gelatinous, and become multiplied in the new gem, or leaf-bud. The ascending vessels of the bark being thus divided by the nervous fibres, which perforate it, and the ascent of its fluids being thus impeded, the bark is extended into a leaf. But the flower is produced, when the pro­trusion of the medulla is greater than the retention of the including cortical part; whence the substance of the bark is expanded in the calyx; that of the rind, (or interior bark,) in the corol; that of the wood in the stamens, that of the medulla in the pistil. Vege­tation thus terminates in the production of new life, the ultimate medullary and cortical fibres being collected in the seeds.

Linnei Systema Veget. p. 6. edit, 14.

Diana's trees, p. 206. l. 552. The chemists and astronomers from the earliest antiquity have used the same characters to represent the metals and the planets, which were most probably outlines or abstracts of the original hieroglyphic figures of Egypt. These afterwards acquired niches in their temples, and represented Gods as well as metals and planets; whence silver is called Diana, or the moon, in the books of alchemy.

The process for making Diana's silver tree is thus described by Lemeri. Dissolve one ounce of pure silver in acid of nitre very pure and moderately strong; mix this solution with about twenty ounces of distilled water; add to this two ounces of mercury, and let it remain at rest. In about four days there will form upon the mercury a tree of silver with branches imitating vegetation.

1. As the mercury has a greater affinity than silver with the nitrous acid, the silver becomes precipitated; and, being deprived of the nitrous oxygene by the mercury, sinks down in its metallic form and lustre. 2. The attraction between silver and mercury, which causes them readily to amalgamate together, occasions the precipitated silver to adhere to the surface of the mercury in preference to any other part of the vessel. 3. The attraction of the particles of the precipitated silver to each other causes the beginning branches to thicken and elongate into trees and shrubs rooted on the mercury. For other circumstances concerning this beautiful experiment see Mr. Keir's Chemical Dictionary, art. Arbor Dianae; a work perhaps of greater utility to mankind than the lost Alexandrian Library; the continuation of which is so eagerly expected by all, who are occupied in the arts, or attached to the sciences.



THERE are four strata of the atmosphere, and four kinds of meteors. 1. Lightning is electric, exists in visible clouds, its short course, and red light. 2. Shooting stars exist in invisible vapour, without sound, white light, have no luminous trains. 3. Twi-light; fire-balls move thirty miles in a second, and are about sixty miles high, have luminous trains, occasioned by an electric spark passing between the aerial and inflam­mable strata of the atmosphere, and mixing them and setting them on fire in its passage; attracted by volcanic eruptions; one thousand miles through such a medium resists less than the tenth of an inch of glass. 4. Northern lights not attracted to a point but dif­fused; their colours; passage of electric fire in vacuo dubious; Dr. Franklin's theory of of northern lights countenanced in part by the supposition of a superior atmosphere of inflammable air; antiquity of their appearance; described in Maccabees.


THE rainbow was in part understood before Sir Isaac Newton; the seven colours were discovered by him; Mr. Galton's experiments on colours; manganese and lead produce colourless glass.


THE rays refracted by the convexity of the atmosphere; the particles of air and of water are blue; shadow by means of a candle in the day; halo round the moon in a fog; bright spot in the cornea of the eye; light from cat's eyes in the dark, from a horse's eyes in a cavern, coloured by the choroid coat within the eye.


TAILS of comets from rarified vapour, like northern lights, from electricity; twenty millions of miles long; expected comet.


DISPUTE about phlogiston; the sun the fountain from whence all phlogiston is derived; its rays not luminous till they arrive at our atmosphere; light owing to their combustion with air, whence an unknown acid; the sun is on fire only on its surface; the dark spots on it are excavations through its luminous crust.


SUN's heat much less than that from the fire at the earth's centre; sun's heat pene­trates but a few feet in summer; some mines are warm; warm springs owing to sub­terraneous fire; situations of volcanos on high mountains; original nucleus of the earth; deep vallies of the ocean; distant perception of earthquakes; great attraction of mountains; variation of the compass; countenance the existence of a cavity or fluid lava within the earth.


COMBINED and sensible heat; chemical combinations attract heat, solutions reject heat; ice cools boiling water six times as much as cold water cools it; cold produced by evaporation; heat by devaporation; capacities of bodies in respect to heat, 1. Existence of the matter of heat shewn from the mechanical condensation and rarefaction of air, from the steam produced in exhausting a receiver, snow from rarefied air, cold from discharging an air-gun, heat from vibration or friction; 2. Matter of heat analogous to the electric fluid in many circumstances, explains many chemical phenomena.


MECHANICAL impulse of light dubious; a glass tube laid horizontally before a fire revolves; pulse-glass suspended on a centre; black leather contracts in the sunshine; Memnon's statue broken by Cambyses.


EIGHTEEN species of glow-worm, their light owing to their respiration in transparent lungs; Acudia of Surinam gives light enough to read and draw by, use of its light to the insect; luminous sea-insects adhere to the skin of those who bathe in the ports of Languedoc, the light may arise from putrescent slime.


DISCOVERED by Kunkel, Brandt, and Boyle; produced in respiration, and by luminous insects, decayed wood, and calcined shells; bleaching a slow combustion in which the water is decomposed; rancidity of animal fat owing to the decomposition of water on its surface; aerated marine acid does not whiten or bleach the hand.


HERO of Alexandria first applied steam to machinery, next a French writer in 1630, the Marquis of Worcester in 1655, Capt. Savery in 1689, Newcomen and Cawley added the piston; the improvements of Watt and Boulton; power of one of their large engines equal to two hundred horses.


EXPANSION of water in freezing; injury done by vernal frosts; fish, eggs, seeds, resist congelation; animals do not resist the increase of heat; frosts do not meliorate the ground, nor are in general salubrious; damp air produces cold on the skin by evapo­ration; snow less pernicious to agriculture than heavy rains for two reasons.


1. Points preferable to knobs for defence of buildings; why points emit the electric fluid; diffusion of oil on water; mountains are points on the earth's globe; do they produce ascending currents of air? 2. Fairy-rings explained; advantage of paring and burning ground.


A TREE is a swarm of individual plants; vegetables are either oviparous or vivi­parous; are all annual productions like many kinds of insects? Hybernacula, a new bark annually produced over the old one in trees and in some herbaceous plants, whence their roots seem end-bitten; all bulbous roots perish annually; experiment on a tulip-root; both the leaf-bulbs and the flower-bulbs are annually renewed.


THE spots in the sun are cavities, some of them four thousand miles deep and many times as broad; internal parts of the sun are not in a state of combustion; volcanos visible in the sun; all the planets together are less than one six hundred and fiftieth part of the sun; planets were ejected from the sun by volcanos; many reasons shewing the proba­bility of this hypothesis; Mr. Buffon's hypothesis that planets were struck off from the sun by comets; why no new planets are ejected from the sun; some comets and the georgium sidus may be of later date; Sun's matter decreased; Mr. Ludlam's opinion, that it is possible the moon might be projected from the earth.


HIGH mountains and deep mines replete with shells; the earth's nucleus covered with limestone; animals convert water into limestone; all the calcareous earth in the world formed in animal and vegetable bodies; solid parts of the earth increase; the water decreases; tops of calcareous mountains dissolved; whence spar, marbles, chalk, stalactites; whence alabaster, fluor, flint, granulated limestone, from solution of their angles, and by attrition; tupha deposited on moss; limestones from shells with animals [Page 120] in them; liver-stone from fresh-water muscles; calcareous earth from land-animals and vegetables, as marl; beds of marble softened by fire; whence Bath-stone contains lime as well as limestone.


THE production of morasses from fallen woods; account by the Earl Cromartie of a new morass; morasses lose their salts by solution in water; then their iron; their vegetable acid is converted into marine, nitrous, and vitriolic acids; whence gypsum, alum, sulphur; into fluor-acid, whence fluor; into siliceous acid, whence flint, the sand of the sea, and other strata of siliceous sand and marl; some morasses ferment like new hay, and, subliming their phlogistic part, form coal-beds above and clay below, which are also produced by elutriation; shell-fish in some morasses, hence shells sometimes found on coals and over iron-stone.


CALCIFORM ores; combustion of iron in vital air; steel from deprivation of vital air; welding; hardness; brittleness like Rupert's drops; specific levity; hardness and brittle­ness compared; steel tempered by its colours; modern production of iron, manganese, calamy; septaria of iron-stone ejected from volcanos; red-hot cannon balls.


1. Siliceous rocks from morasses; their cements. 2. Siliceous trees; coloured by iron or manganese; Peak-diamonds; Bristol-stones; flint in form of calcareous spar; has been fluid without much heat; obtained from powdered quartz and fluor-acid by Bergman and by Achard. 3. Agates and onyxes found in sand-rocks; of vegetable origin; have been in complete fusion; their concentric coloured circles not from superinduction but from congelation; experiment of freezing a solution of blue vitriol; iron and man­ganese repelled in spheres as the nodule of flint cooled; circular stains of marl in salt-mines; some flint nodules resemble knots of wood or roots. 4. Sand of the sea its acid from morasses; its base from shells. 5. Chert or petrosilex stratified in cooling; their colour and their acid from sea-animals; labradore-stone from mother-pearl. 6. Flints in chalk-beds; their form, colour, and acid, from the flesh of sea-animals; some are hollow and lined with crystals; contain iron; not produced by injection from without; coralloids converted to flint; French-millstones; flints sometimes found in solid strata. 7. Angles of sand destroyed by attrition and solution in steam; siliceous breccia cemented by solution in red-hot water. 8. Basaltes and granites are antient lavas; basaltes raised by its congelation not by subterraneous fire.


FIRE and water two great agents; stratification from precipitation; many stratified materials not soluble in water. 1. Stratification of lava from successive accumulation. 2. Stratifications of limestone from the different periods of time in which the shells were [Page 121] deposited. 3. Stratifications of coal, and clay, and sandstone, and iron-ores, not from currents of water, but from the production of morass-beds at different periods of time; morass-beds become ignited; their bitumen and sulphur is sublimed; the clay, lime, and iron remain; whence sand, marle, coal, white clay in valleys, and gravel-beds, and some ochres, and some calcareous depositions owing to alluviation; clay from decomposed granite; from the lava of Vesuvius; from vitreous lavas.


ROSE-COLOUR and purple from gold; precipitates of gold by alcaline salt preferable to those by tin; aurum fulminans long ground; tender colours from gold or iron not dissolved but suspended in the glass; cobalts; calces of cobalt and copper require a strong fire; Ka-o-lin and Pe-tun-tse the same as our own materials.


ITS figures do not allude to private history; they represent a part of the Elusinian mysteries; marriage of Cupid and Psyche; procession of torches; the figures in one compartment represent MORTAL LIFE in the act of expiring, and HUMANKIND attending to her with concern; Adam and Eve hyeroglyphic figures; Abel and Cain other hyero­glyphic figures; on the other compartment is represented IMMORTAL LIFE, the Manes or Ghost descending into Elisium is led on by DIVINE LOVE, and received by IMMORTAL LIFE, and conducted to Pluto; Tree of Life and Knowledge are emblematical; the figure at the bottom is of Atis, the first great Hierophant, or teacher of mysteries.


1. A fountain of fossile tar in Shropshire; has been distilled from the coal-beds beneath, and condensed in the cavities of a sand-rock; the coal beneath is deprived of its bitumen in part; bitumen sublimed at Matlock into cavities lined with spar. 2. Coal has been exposed to heat; woody fibres and vegetable seeds in coal at Bovey and Polesworth; upper part of coal-beds more bituminous at Beaudesert; thin stratum of asphaltum near Caulk; upper part of coal-bed worse at Alfreton; upper stratum of no value at Widdrington; alum at West-Hallum; at Bilston. 3. Coal at Coalbrooke-Dale has been immersed in the sea, shewn by sea-shells; marks of violence in the colliery at Mendip and at Ticknal; Lead-ore and spar in coal-beds; gravel over coal near Lichfield; Coal produced from morasses shewn by fern-leaves, and bog-shells, and muscle-shells; by some parts of coal being still woody; from Lock Neagh and Bovey, and the Temple of the devil; fixed alcali; oil.


GRANITE the lowest stratum of the earth yet known; porphory, trap, Moor-stone, Whin-stone, slate, basaltes, all volcanic productions dissolved in red-hot water; volcanos in granite strata; differ from the heat of morasses from fermentation; the [Page 122] nucleus of the earth ejected from the sun? was the sun originally a planet? supposed section of the globe.


I. Solution of water in air; in the matter of heat; pulse-glass. 2. Heat is the principal cause of evaporation; thermometer cooled by evaporation of ether; heat given from steam to the worm-tub; warmth accompanying rain. 3. Steam condensed on the eduction of heat; moisture on cold walls; south-west and north-east winds. 4. Solution of salt and of blue vitriol in the matter of heat. II. Other vapours may precipitate steam and form rain. 1. Cold the principal cause of devaporation; hence the steam dissolved in heat is precipitated, but that dissolved in air remains even in frosts; south-west wind. 2. North-east winds mixing with south-west winds produce rain; because the cold particles of air of the north-east acquire some of the matter of heat from the south-west winds. 3. Devaporation from mechanical expansion of air, as in the receiver of an air-pump; summer-clouds appear and vanish; when the barometers sink without change of wind the weather becomes colder. 4. Solution of water in electric fluid dubious. 5. Barometer sinks from the lessened gravity of the air, and from the rain having less pressure as it falls; a mixture of a solution of water in calorique with an aerial solution of water is lighter than dry air; breath of animals in cold weather why condensed into visible vapour and dissolved again.


LOWEST strata of the earth appear on the highest hills; springs from dews sliding between them; mountains are colder than plains; 1. from their being insulated in the air; 2. from their enlarged surface; 3. from the rarety of the air it becomes a better conductor of heat; 4. by the air on mountains being mechanically rarefied as it ascends; 5. gravitation of the matter of heat; 6. the dashing of clouds against hills; of fogs against trees; springs stronger in hot days with cold nights; streams from subterranean caverns; from beneath the snow on the Alps.


THE armour of the Echinus moveable; holds itself in storms to stones by 1200 or 2000 strings: Nautilus rows and sails; renders its shell buoyant: Pinna and Cancer; Byssus of the antients was the beard of the Pinna; as fine as the silk is spun by the silk-worm; gloves made of it; the beard of muscles produces sickness; Indian weed; tendons of rats tails.


STURGEON's mouth like a purse; without teeth; tendrils like worms hang before his lips, which entice small fish and sea-insects mistaking them for worms; his skin used for covering carriages; isinglass made from it; caviare from the spawn.


OIL and water do not touch; a second drop of oil will not diffuse itself on the pre­ceeding one; hence it stills the waves; divers for pearl carry oil in their mouths; oil on water produces prismatic colours; oiled cork circulates on water; a phial of oil and water made to oscillate.


THE Teredo has calcareous jaws; a new enemy; they perish when they meet to­gether in their ligneous canals; United Provinces alarmed for the piles of the banks of Zeland; were destroyed by a severe winter.


A WHIRLPOOL on the coast of Norway; passes through a subterraneous cavity; less violent when the tide is up; eddies become hollow in the middle; heavy bodies are thrown out by eddies; light ones retained; oil and water whirled in a phial; hurricanes explained.


SNOW in contact with the earth is in a state of thaw; ice-houses; rivers from beneath the snow; rime in spring vanishes by its contact with the earth; and snow by its evapo­ration and contact with the earth; moss vegetates beneath the snow; and Alpine plants perish at Upsal for want of snow.


AIR is perpetually subject to increase and to diminution; Oxygene is perpetually pro­duced from vegetables in the sunshine, and from clouds in the light, and from water; Azote is perpetually produced from animal and vegetable putrefaction, or combustion; from springs of water; volatile alcali; fixed alcali; sea-water; the y are both perpetually diminished by their contact with the soil, producing nitre; Oxygene is diminished in the production of all acids; Azote by the growth of animal bodies; charcoal in burning consumes double its weight of pure air; every barrel of red-lead absorbes 2000 cubic feet of vital air; air obtained from variety of substances by Dr. Priestley; Officina aeris in the polar circle, and at the Line. South-west winds; their westerly direction from the less velocity of the earth's surface; the contrary in respect to north-east winds; South-west winds consist of regions of air from the south; and north-east winds of regions of air from the north; when the south-west prevails for weeks and the barometer sinks to 28, what becomes of above one fifteenth part of the atmosphere; 1. It is not carried back by superior currents; 2. Not from its loss of moisture; 3. Not carried over the pole; 4. Not owing to atmospheric tides or mountains; 5. It is absorbed at the polar circle; hence south-west winds and rain; south-west sometimes cold. North-east winds consist of air from the north; cold by the evaporation of ice; are dry winds; 1. Not sup­plied [Page 124] by superior currents; 2. The whole atmosphere increased in quantity by air set at liberty from its combinations in the polar circles. South-east winds consist of north winds driven back. North-west winds consist of south-west winds driven back; north-west winds of America bring frost; owing to a vertical spiral eddy of air between the eastern coast and the Apalachian mountains; hence the greater cold of North America. Trade-winds; air over the Line always hotter than at the tropics; trade-winds gain their easterly direction from the greater velocity of the earth's surface at the line; not supplied by superior currents; supplied by decomposed water in the sun's great light; 1. Because there are no constant rains in the tract of the trade-winds; 2. Because there is no con­densible vapour above three or four miles high at the line. Monsoons and tornadoes; some places at the tropic become warmer when the sun is vertical than at the line; hence the air ascends, supplied on one side by the north-east winds, and on the other by the south-west; whence an ascending eddy or tornado, raising water from the sea, or sand from the desert, and incessant rains; air diminished to the northward produces south-west winds; tornadoes from heavier air above sinking through lighter air below, which rises through a perforation; hence trees are thrown down in a narrow line of twenty or forty yards broad, the sea rises like a cone, with great rain and lightning. Land and sea breezes; sea less heated than land; tropical islands more heated in the day than the sea, and are cooled more in the night. Conclusion; irregular winds from other causes; only two original winds north and south; different sounds of north-east and south-west winds; a Bear or Dragon in the arctic circle that swallows at times and dis­embogues again above one fifteenth part of the atmosphere; wind-instruments; reca­pitulation.


PURE air from Dr. Priestley's vegetable matter, and from vegetable leaves, owing to decomposition of water; the hydrogene retained by the vegetables; plants in the shade are tanned green by the sun's light; animal skins are tanned yellow by the retention of hydrogene; much pure air from dew on a funny morning; bleaching why sooner per­formed on cotton than linen; bees wax bleached; metals calcined by decomposition of water; oil bleached in the light becomes yellow again in the dark; nitrous acid coloured by being exposed to the sun; vegetables perspire more than animals, hence in the sun­shine they purify air more by their perspiration than they injure it by their respiration; they grow fastest in their sleep.


BUDS the viviparous offspring of vegetables; placentation in bulbs and feeds; placentation of buds in the roots, hence the rising of sap in the spring, as in vines, birch, which ceases as soon as the leaves expand; production of the leaf of Horse-chesnut, and of its new bud; oil of vitriol on the bud of Mimosa killed the leaf also; placentation shewn from the sweetness of the sap; no umbilical artery in vegetables.


BUDS set in the ground will grow if prevented from bleeding to death by a cement; vegetables require no muscles of locomotion, no stomach or bowels, no general system of veins; they have, 1. Three systems of absorbent vessels; 2. Two pulmonary systems; 3. Arterial systems; 4. Glands; 5. Organs of reproduction; 6. muscles. I. Absorbent system evinced by experiments by coloured absorptions in fig-tree and picris; called air-vessels erroneously; spiral structure of absorbent vessels; retrograde motion of them like the throats of cows. II. Pulmonary arteries in the leaves, and pulmonary veins; no general system of veins shewn by experiment; no heart; the arteries act like the vena portarum of the liver; pulmonary system in the petals of flowers; circulation owing to living irritability; vegetable absorption more powerful than animal, as in vines; not by capillary attraction.


I. Leaves not perspiratory organs, nor excretory ones; lungs of animals. 1. Great surfaces of leaves. 2. Vegetable blood changes colour in the leaves; experiment with spurge; with picris. 3. Upper surface of the leaf only acts as a respiratory organ. 4. Upper surface repels moisture; leaves laid on water. 5. Leaves killed by oil like insects; muscles at the foot-stalks of leaves. 6. Use of light to vegetable leaves; experiments of Priestley, Ingenhouze, and Scheel. 7. Vegetable circulation similar to that of fish. II. Another pulmonary system belongs to flowers; colours of flowers. 1. Vascular structure of the corol. 2. Glands producing honey, wax, &c. perish with the corol. 3. Many flowers have no green leaves attending them, as Colchicum. 4. Corols not for the defence of the stamens. 5. Corol of Helleborus Niger changes to a calyx. 6. Green leaves not necessary to the fruit-bud; green leaves of Colchicum belong to the new bulb not to the flower. 7. Flower-bud after the corol falls is simply an uterus; mature flowers not injured by taking of the green leaves. 8. Inosculation of vegetable vessels.


SEEDS in broom discovered twenty days before the flower opens; progress of the seed after impregnation; seeds exist before fecundation; analogy between seeds and eggs; progress of the egg within the hen; spawn of frogs and of fish; male Salamander; marine plants project a liquor not a powder; seminal fluid diluted with water, if a stimulus only? Male and female influence necessary in animals, insects, and vegetables, both in production of feeds and buds; does the embryon feed produce the surrounding fruit, like insects in gall-nuts?


VEGETABLE glands cannot be injected with coloured fluids; essential oil; wax; honey; nectary, its complicate apparatus; exposes the honey to the air like the lacrymal gland; honey is nutritious; the male and female parts of flowers copulate and die like moths and butterflies, and are fed like them with honey; anthers supposed to become insects; depredation of the honey and wax injurious to plants; honey-dew; honey oxygenated by exposure to air; necessary for the production of sensibility; the provision for the embryon plant of honey, sugar, starch, &c. supplies food to numerous classes of animals; various vegetable secretions as gum tragacanth, camphor, elemi, anime, turpentine, balsam of Mecca, aloe, myrrh, elastic resin, manna, sugar, wax, tallow, and many other concrete juices; vegetable digestion; chemical production of sugar would multiply mankind; economy of nature.


Errata in Part I.

  • Page 34. l. 354. for the read her.
  • 37. l. 379. for bursts read burst.
  • 41. l. 423. for wirh read with.
  • 58. At the end of the Argument, instead of "Departure of the Gnomes" please to add Transmigration of matter, 575.
    • Death and resuscitation of Adonis, 585.
    • Departure of the Gnomes, 611.
  • Page 76. instead of III. put 3.
  • 80. instead of IV. put 4.
  • 144. l. 376. for shut read shuts.
  • 147. l. 423. for sinking read shrinking.
  • 170. l. 110. for her read its.
  • 190. l. 359. for decry'd read descry'd.
  • 204. l. 530. for nectarous read nectareous.
In the Additional Notes.
  • Page 44. l. 12. for frigorific read frigorescent.
  • 45. l. 6. for congelating read congealing.
  • Page 46. l. 4. for concholoide read conchoide.
  • 49. l. 20. for word read world.


Please to place the print of Flora attired by the Elements opposite to the Title-page. Place all the four prints of the Portland Vase opposite to Page 88, in the following order:

  • I. The print of the whole Vase.
  • II. The first compartment of it.
  • III. The second compartment of it.
  • IV. The bottom and handles.

Cyprepedium fronting Page 202.

Erythrina fronting Page 205.

Section of the earth fronting Page 65 of the Additional Notes.

BOOKS PUBLISHED BY The Botanic Society at Lichfield.


Sold by Leigh and Sotheby, York-Street, Covent Garden. EIGHTEEN SHILLINGS IN BOARDS.


Sold by J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church-Yard. SIXTEEN SHILLINGS IN BOARDS.



FLORA at Play with CUPID.






THE general design of the following sheets is to inlist Imagination under the banner of Science, and to lead her votaries from the looser analogies, which dress out the imagery of poetry, to the stricter ones, which form the ratiocination of philosophy. While their particular design is to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of BOTANY; by introducing them to the vestibule of that delightful science, and recommending to their attention the immortal works of the Swedish Naturalist LINNEUS.

In the first Poem, or Economy of Vegetation, the physiology of Plants is delivered; and the operation of the Elements, as far as they may be supposed to affect the growth of Vegetables. But the pub­lication of this part is deferred to another year, for the purpose of repeating some experiments on vegetation, mentioned in the notes. In the second poem, or LOVES OF THE PLANTS, which is here pre­sented to the Reader, the Sexual System of LINNEUS is explained, with the remarkable properties of many particular plants.

The author has withheld this work, (excepting a few pages) many years from the press, according to the rule of Horace, hoping to have rendered it more worthy the acceptance of the public,—but finds at length, that he is less able, from disuse, to correct the poetry; and, from want of leizure, to amplify the annotations.

In this second edition, the plants Amaryllis, Orchis, and Cannabis are inserted with two additional prints of flowers; some alterations are made in Gloriosa, and Tulipa; and the description of the Salt­mines in Poland is removed to the first poem on the Economy of Vegetation.


LINNEUS has divided the vegetable world into 24 Classes; these Classes into about 120 Orders; these Orders contain about 2000 Families, or Genera; and these Families about 20,000 Species; besides the innumerable Varieties, which the accidents of climate or cultivation have added to these Species.

The Classes are distinguished from each other in this ingenious system, by the number, situation, adhesion, or reciprocal proportion of the males in each flower. The Orders, in many of these Classes, are distinguished by the number, or other circumstances of the females. The Families, or Genera, are characterized by the analogy of all the parts of the flower or fructification. The Species are distinguished by the foliage of the plant; and the Varieties by any accidental cir­cumstance of colour, taste, or odour; the seeds of these do not al­ways produce plants similar to the parent; as in our numerous fruit-trees and garden flowers; which are propagated by grafts or layers.

The first eleven Classes include the plants, in whose flowers both the sexes reside; and in which the Males or Stamens are neither united, nor unequal in height when at maturity; and are therefore distinguished from each other simply by the number of males in each flower, as is seen in the annexed PLATE, copied from the Dictionaire Botanique of M. BULLIARD, in which the numbers of each division refer to the Botanic Classes.

  • [Page iv] CLASS I. ONE MALE, Monandria; includes the plants which posses but One Stamen in each flower.
  • II. Two MALES, Diandria. Two Stamens.
  • III. THREE MALES, Triandria. Three Stamens.
  • IV. FOUR MALES, Tetrandria. Four Stamens.
  • V. FIVE MALES, Pentandria. Five Stamens.
  • VI. Six MALES, Hexandria. Six Stamens.
  • VII. SEVEN MALES, Heptandria. Seven Stamens.
  • VIII. EIGHT MALES, Octandria. Eight Stamens.
  • IX. NINE MALES, Enneandria. Nine Stamens.
  • X. TEN MALES, Decandria. Ten Stamens.
  • XI. TWELVE MALES, Dodecandria. Twelve Stamens.

The next two Classes are distinguished not only by the number of equal and disunited males, as in the above eleven Classes, but re­quire an additional circumstance to be attended to, viz. whether the males or stamens be situated on the calyx, or not.

  • XII. TWENTY MALES, Icosandria. Twenty Stamens inserted on the calyx or flower-cup; as is well seen in the last Figure of No. xii. in the annexed Plate.
  • XIII. MANY MALES, Polyandria. From 20 to 100 Stamens, which do not adhere to the calyx; as is well seen in the first Figure of No. xiii. in the annexed Plate.

In the next two Classes, not only the number of stamens are to be observed, but the reciprocal proportions in respect to height.

  • XIV. Two POWERS, Didynamia. Four Stamens, of which two are lower than the other two; as is seen in the two first Figures of No. xiv.
  • XV. FOUR POWERS, Tetradynamia. Six Stamens; of which four are taller, and the two lower ones opposite to each other; as is seen in the third Figure of the upper row in No. 15.

[Page v] The five subsequent Classes are distinguished not by the number of the males, or stamens, but by their union or adhesion, either by their anthers, or filaments, or to the female or pistil.

  • XVI. ONE BROTHERHOOD, Monadelphia. Many Stamens united by their filaments into one company; as in the second Figure below of No. xvi.
  • XVII. Two BROTHERHOODS, Diadelphia. Many Stamens united by their filaments into two Companies; as in the uppermost Fig, No. xvii.
  • XVIII. MANY BROTHERHOODS, Polyadelphia. Many Stamens united by their filaments into three or more companies, as in No. xviii.
  • XIX. CONFEDERATE MALES, Syngenesia. Many Stamens united by their anthers; as in first and second Figures, No. xix.
  • XX. FEMININE MALES, Gynandria. Many Stamens attached to the pistil.

The next three Classes consist of plants, whose flowers contain but one of the sexes; or if some of them contain both sexes, there are other flowers accompanying them of but one sex.

  • XXI. ONE HOUSE, Monoecia. Male flowers and female flowers separate, but on the same plant.
  • XXII. Two HOUSES, Dioecia. Male flowers and female flowers separate, on different plants.
  • XXIII. POLYGAMY, Polygamia. Male and female flowers on one or more plants, which have at the same time flowers of both sexes.

The last Class contains the plants whose flowers are not discernible.


[Page vi] The Orders of the first thirteen Classes are founded on the number of Females, or Pistils, and distinguished by the names, ONE FEMALE, Monogynia. Two FEMALES, Digynia. THREE FEMALES, Trigynia. &c. as is seen in No. 1. which represents a plant of one male, one female; and in the first Figure of No. xi. which represents a flower with twelve males, and three females; (for, where the pistils have no apparent styles, the summits, or stigmas, are to be numbered) and in the first Figure of No. xii. which represents a flower with twenty males and many females; and in the last Figure of the same No. which has twenty males and one female; and in No. xiii. which represents a flower with many males and many females.

The Class of Two POWERS, is divided into two natural Orders; into such as have their seeds naked at the bottom of the calyx, or flower cup; and such as have their seeds covered; as is seen in No. xiv. Fig. 3. and 5.

The Class of FOUR POWERS, is divided also into two Orders; in one of these the seeds are inclosed in a silicule, as in Shepherd's purse. No. xiv. Fig. 5. In the other they are inclosed in a silique, as in Wall-flower. Fig. 4.

In all the other Classes, excepting the Classes Confederate Males, and Clandestine Marriage, as the character of each Class is distin­guished by the situations of the males; the character of the Orders is marked by the numbers of them. In the Class ONE BROTHER­HOOD, No. xvi. Fig. 3. the Order of ten males is represented. And in the Class Two BROTHERHOODS, No. xvii. Fig. 2. the Order ten males is represented.

In the Class CONFEDERATE MALES, the Orders are chiefly dis­tinguished by the fertility or barrenness of the florets of the disk, or ray of the compound flower.

[Page vii] And in the Class of CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE, the four Orders are termed FFRNS, MOSSES, FLAGS, and FUNGUSSES.

The Orders are again divided into Genera, or Families, which are all natural associations, and are described from the general resemblances of the parts of fructification, in respect to their number, form, situa­tion, and reciprocal proportion. These are the Calyx, or Flower­cup, as seen in No. iv. Fig. 1. No. x. Fig. 1. and 3. No. xiv. Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4. Second, the Corol, or Blossom, as seen in No. i. ii. &c. Third, the Males, or Stamens; as in No. iv. Fig. 1. and No. viii. Fig. 1. Fourth, the Females, or Pistils; as in No. i. No. xii. Fig. 1. No. xiv. Fig. 3. No. xv. Fig. 3. Fifth, the Pericarp or Fruit­vessel; as No. xv. Fig. 4. 5. No. xvii. Fig. 2. Sixth, the Seeds.

The illustrious author of the Sexual System of Botany, in his pre­face to his account of the Natural Orders, ingeniously imagines, that one plant of each Natural Order was created in the beginning; and that the intermarriages of these produced one plant of every Genus, or Family; and that the intermarriages of these Generic, or Family plants, produced all the Species: and lastly, that the intermarriages of the individuals of the Species produced the Varieties.

In the following POEM, the name or number of the Class or Order of each plant is printed in italics; as "Two brother swains." "One House contains them." and the word "secret." expresses the Class of Clandestine Marriage.

The Reader, who wishes to become further acquainted with this delightful field of science, is advised to study the words of the Great Master, and is apprized that they are exactly and literally translated into English, by a Society at LICHFIELD, in four Volumes Octavo.

[Page viii] To the SYSTEM OF VEGETABLES is prefixed a copious ex­planation of all the Terms used in Botany, translated from a thesis of Dr. ELMSGREEN, with the plates and references from the Philoso­phia Botannica of LINNEUS.

To the FAMILIES OF PLANTS is prefixed a Catalogue of the names of plants, and other Botanic Terms, carefully accented, to shew their proper pronunciation; a work of great labour, and which was much wanted, not only by beginners, but by proficients in BOTANY.

The SYSTEM OF VEGETABLES translated from the Sys­tema Vegetabilium, in two Vols. is sold by LEIGH and SOTHEBY, York Street, Covent Garden: Price 18 Shillings, in Boards.

The FAMILIES OF PLANTS translated from the Genera Plantarum, in two Vols. by JOHNSON, St. Paul's Church-Yard, LONDON: Price 16 Shillings, in Boards. [Page]






Lo, here a CAMERA OBSCURA is presented to thy view, in which are lights and shades dancing on a whited canvas, and magnisied into apparent life!—if thou art perfectly at leasure for such trivial amusement, walk in, [Page x] and view the wonders of my INCHANTED GARDEN.

Whereas P. OVIDIUS NASO, a great Ne­cromancer in the famous Court of AUGUSTUS CAESAR, did by art poetic transmute Men, Women, and even Gods and Goddesses, into Trees and Flowers; I have undertaken by similar art to restore some of them to their original animality, after having remained pri­soners so long in their respective vegetable mansions; and have here exhibited them be­fore thee. Which thou may'st contemplate as diverse little pictures suspended over the chimney of a Lady's dressing-room, connected only by a slight festoon of ribbons. And which, [Page xi] though thou may'st not be acquainted with the originals, may amuse thee by the beauty of their persons, their graceful attitudes, or the brilliancy of their dress.



DESCEND, ye hovering Sylphs! aerial Quires,
And sweep with little hands your silver lyres;
With fairy footsteps print your grassy rings,
Ye Gnomes! accordant to the tinkling strings;
While in soft notes I tune to oaten reed 5
Gay hopes, and amorous sorrows of the mead.—
From giant Oaks, that wave their branches dark,
To the dwarf Moss, that clings upon their bark,
[Page 2]What Beaux and Beauties crowd the gaudy groves,
And woo and win their vegetable Loves.1 10
How Snowdrops cold, and blue-eyed Harebels blend
Their tender tears, as o'er the stream they bend;
The lovesick Violet, and the Primrose pale
Bow their sweet heads, and whisper to the gale;
With secret sighs the Virgin Lily droops,15
And jealous Cowslips hang their tawny cups.
How the young Rose in beauty's damask pride
Drinks the warm blushes of his bashful bride;
With honey'd lips enamour'd Woodbines meet,
Clasp with fond arms, and mix their kisses sweet.— 20
Stay thy soft-murmuring waters, gentle Rill;
Hush, whispering Winds, ye rustling Leaves, be still;
Rest, silver Butterflies, your quivering wings;
Alight, ye Beetles, from your airy rings;
[Page 3]Ye painted Moths, your gold-eyed plumage furl,25
Bow your wide horns, your spiral trunks uncurl;
Glitter, ye Glow-worms, on your mossy beds;
Descend, ye Spiders, on your lengthen'd threads;
Slide here, ye horned Snails, with varnish'd shells;
Ye Bee-nymphs, listen in your waxen cells!— 30
BOTANIC MUSE! who in this latter age
Led by your airy hand the Swedish sage,
Bad his keen eye your secret haunts explore
On dewy dell, high wood, and winding shore;
Say on each leaf how tiny Graces dwell; 35
How laugh the Pleasures in a blossom's bell;
How insect Loves arise on cobweb wings,
Aim their light shafts, and point their little stings.
"First the tall CANNA lifts his curled brow2
Erect to heaven, and plights his nuptial vow; 40
[Page 4]The virtuous pair, in milder regions born,
Dread the rude blast of Autumn's icy morn;
Round the chill fair he folds his crimson vest,
And clasps the timorous beauty to his breast.
Thy love, CALLITRICHE, two Virgins share,3 45
Smit with thy starry eye and radiant hair;—
On the green margin sits the youth, and laves
His floating train of tresses in the waves;
Sees his fair features paint the streams that pass,
And bends for ever o'er the watery glass.50
Two brother swains, of COLLIN'S gentle name,4
The same their features, and their forms the same,
[Page 5]With rival love for fair COLLINIA sigh,
Knit the dark brow, and roll the unsteady eye.
With sweet concern the pitying beauty mourns,55
And sooths with smiles the jealous pair by turns.
Sweet blooms GENISTA in the myrtle shade,5
And ten fond brothers woo the haughty maid.
Two knights before thy fragrant altar bend,
Adored MELISSA! and two squires attend.6 60
MEADIA's soft chains five suppliant beaux confess,7
And hand in hand the laughing belle address;
Alike to all, she bows with wanton air,
Rolls her dark eye, and waves her golden hair.



Woo'd with long care, CURCUMA cold and shy8 65
Meets her fond husband with averted eye:
Four beardless youths the obdurate beauty move
With soft attentions of Platonic love.
With vain desires the pensive ALCEA burns,9
And, like sad ELOISA, loves and mourns.70
The freckled IRIS owns a fiercer flame,10
And three unjealous husbands wed the dame.
[Page 9]CUPRESSUS dark disdains his dusky bride,11
One dome contains them, but two beds divide.
The proud OSYRIS flies his angry fair,12 75
Two houses hold the fashionable pair.
With strange deformity PLANTAGO treads,13
A Monster-birth! and lifts his hundred heads;
Yet with soft love a gentle belle he charms,
And clasps the beauty in his hundred arms.80
So hapless DESDEMONA, fair and young,
Won by OTHELLO'S captivating tongue,
Sigh'd o'er each strange and piteous tale, distress'd,
And sunk enamour'd on his sooty breast.
Two gentle shepherds and their sister-wives 85
With thee, ANTHOXA! lead ambrosial lives;14
[Page 11]Where the wide heath in purple pride extends,
And scatter'd furze its golden lustre blends,
Closed in a green recess, unenvy'd lot!
The blue smoak rises from their turf-built cot; 90
Bosom'd in fragrance blush their infant train,
Eye the warm sun, or drink the silver rain.
The fair OSMUNDA seeks the silent dell,15
The ivy canopy, and dripping cell;
There hid in shades clandestine rites approves,95
Till the green progeny betrays her loves.
With charms despotic fair CHONDRILLA reigns16
O'er the soft hearts of five fraternal swains;
If sighs the changeful nymph, alike they mourn;
And, if she smiles, with rival raptures burn.100
So, tun'd in unison, Eolian Lyre!
Sounds in sweet symphony thy kindred wire;
Now, gently swept by Zephyr's vernal wings,
Sink in soft cadence the love-sick strings;
And now with mingling chords, and voices higher,105
Peal the full anthems of the aerial choir.
Five sister-nymphs to join Diana's train
With thee, fair LYCHNIS! vow,—but vow in vain;17
Beneath one roof resides the virgin band,
Flies the fond swain, and scorns his offer'd hand; 110
But when soft hours on breezy pinions move,
And smiling May attunes her lute to love,
Each wanton beauty, trick'd in all her grace,
Shakes the bright dew-drops from her blushing face;
In gay undress displays her rival charms,115
And calls her wondering lovers to her arms.
When the young Hours amid her tangled hair
Wove the fresh rose-bud, and the lily fair,
[Page 14]Proud GLORIOSA led three chosen swains,18
The blushing captives of her virgin chains.— 120
—When Time's rude hand a bark of wrinkles spread
Round her weak limbs, and silver'd o'er her head,
Three other youths her riper years engage,
The flatter'd victims of her wily age.
So, in her wane of beauty, NINON WON 125
With fatal smiles her gay unconscious son.—[Page]

Gloriosa Superba

[Page 15]Clasp'd in his arms she own'd a mother's name,—
"Desist, rash youth! restrain your impious flame,
"First on that bed your infant-form was press'd,
"Born by my throes, and nurtured at my breast."— 130
Back as from death he sprung, with wild amaze
Fierce on the fair he fix'd his ardent gaze;
Dropp'd on one knee, his frantic arms outspread,
And stole a guilty glance toward the bed;
Then breath'd from quivering lips a whisper'd vow,135
And bent on heaven his pale repentant brow;
"Thus, thus!" he cried, and plung'd the furious dart,
And life and love gush'd mingled from his heart.
The fell SILENE and her sisters fair,19
Skill'd in destruction, spread the viscous snare.140
The harlot-band ten lofty bravoes screen,
And frowning guard the magic nets unseen.—
Haste, glittering nations, tenants of the air,
Oh, steer from hence your viewless course afar!
If with soft words, sweet blushes, nods, and smiles,145
The three dread Syrens lure you to their toils,
Limed by their art in vain you point your stings,
In vain the efforts of your whirring wings!—
Go, seek your gilded mates and infant hives,
Nor taste the honey purchas'd with your lives!150 [Page]

Dionaea Mascipula


Amaryllis formosissima

When heaven's high vault condensing clouds deform,
Fair AMARYLLIS flies the incumbent storm,20
[Page 18]Seeks with unsteady step the shelter'd vale,
And turns her blushing beauties from the gale.—
Six rival youths, with soft concern impress'd,155
Calm all her fears, and charm her cares to rest.—
So shines at eve the sun-illumin'd fane,
Lifts its bright cross, and waves its golden vane;
From every breeze the polish'd axle turns,
And high in air the dancing meteor burns.160
Four of the giant brood with ILEX stand,21
Each grasps a thousand arrows in his hand;
[Page 19]A thousand steely points on every scale
Form the bright terrors of his bristly male.—
So arm'd, immortal Moore uncharm'd the spell,165
And slew the wily dragon of the well.—
Sudden with rage their injur'd bosoms burn,
Retort the insult, or the wound return;
Unwrong'd, as gentle as the breeze that sweeps
The unbending harvests or undimpled deeps,170
They guard, the Kings of Needwood's wide domains,
Their sister-wives and fair infantine trains;
Lead the lone pilgrim through the trackless glade,
Or guide in leafy wilds the wand'ring maid.
So WRIGHT'S bold pencil from Vesuvio's hight 175
Hurls his red lavas to the troubled night;22
From Calpè starts the intolerable flash,
Skies burst in flames, and blazing oceans dash;—
Or bids in sweet repose his shades recede,
Winds the still vale, and slopes the velvet mead; 180
On the pale stream expiring Zephyrs sink,
And Moonlight sleeps upon its hoary brink.
Gigantic Nymph! the fair KLEINHOVIA reigns,23
The grace and terror of Orixa's plains;
[Page 21]O'er her warm cheek the blush of beauty swims,
And nerves Herculean bend her sinewy limbs;
With frolic eye she views the affrighted throng,
And shakes the meadows, as she towers along,190
With playful violence displays her charms,
And bears her trembling lovers in her arms.
So fair THALESTRIS shook her plumy crest,
And bound in rigid mail her jutting breast;
Poised her long lance amid the walks of war,195
And Beauty thunder'd from Bellona's car;
Greece arm'd in vain, her captive heroes wove
The chains of conquest with the wreaths of love.
When o'er the cultured lawns and dreary wastes
Retiring Autumn flings her howling blasts,200
Bends in tumultuous waves the struggling woods,
And showers their leafy honours on the floods,
In withering heaps collects the flowery spoil,
And each chill insect sinks beneath the soil;
[Page 22]Quick flies fair TULIPA the loud alarms,24 205
And folds her infant closer in her arms;
In some lone cave, secure pavilion, lies,
And waits the courtship of serener skies.—
So, six cold moons, the Dormouse charm'd to rest,
Indulgent Sleep! beneath thy eider breast,210
In fields of Fancy climbs the kernel'd groves,
Or shares the golden harvest with his loves.—
[Page 23]But bright from earth amid the troubled air
Ascends fair COLCHICA with radiant hair,25
Warms the cold bosom of the hoary year,215
And lights with Beauty's blaze the dusky sphere.
Three blushing Maids the intrepid Nymph attend,
And six gay Youths, enamour'd train! defend.
So shines with silver guards the Georgian star,
And drives on Night's blue arch his glittering car; 220
Hangs o'er the billowy clouds his lucid form,
Wades through the mist, and dances in the storm.
GREAT HELIANTHUS guides o'er twilight plains26
In gay solemnity his Dervise-trains;
Marshall'd in fives each gaudy band proceeds,225
Each gaudy band a plumed Lady leads;27
With zealous step he climbs the upland lawn,
And bows in homage to the rising dawn;
Imbibes with eagle-eye the golden ray,
And watches, as it moves, the orb of day.230
Queen of the marsh, imperial DROSERA treads28
Rush-fringed banks, and moss-embroider'd beds;
Redundant folds of glossy silk surround
Her slender waist, and trail upon the ground;
Five sister-nymphs collect with graceful ease,235
Or spread the floating purple to the breeze;
And five fair youths with duteous love comply
With each soft mandate of her moving eye.
As with sweet grace her snowy neck she bows,
A zone of diamonds trembles round her brows; 240
Bright shines the silver halo, as she turns;
And, as she steps, the living lustre burns.
Fair LONICERA prints the dewy lawn,29
And decks with brighter blush the vermil dawn;
Winds round the shadowy rocks, and pansied vales,245
And scents with sweeter breath the summer-gales;
[Page 27]With artless grace and native ease she charms,
And bears the Horn of Plenty in her arms.
Five rival Swains their tender cares unfold,
And watch with eye askance the treasured gold.250
Where rears huge Tenerif his azure crest,
Aspiring DRABA builds her eagle nest;30
Her pendant eyry icy caves surround,
Where erst Volcanos min'd the rocky ground.
Pleased round the Fair four rival Lords ascend 255
The shaggy steeps, two menial youths attend.
High in the setting ray the beauty stands,
And her tall shadow waves on distant lands.
Stay, bright inhabitant of air, alight,
Ambitious VISCA, from thy eagle-flight!—31 260
—Scorning the sordid soil, aloft she springs,
Shakes her white plume, and claps her golden wings;
High o'er the fields of boundless ether roves,
And seeks amid the clouds her soaring loves!
Stretch'd on her mossy couch, in trackless deeps,265
Queen of the coral groves, ZOSTERA sleeps;32
[Page 29]The silvery sea-weed matted round her bed,
And distant surges murmuring o'er her head.—
High in the flood her azure dome ascends,
The crystal arch on crystal columns bends; 270
Roof'd with translucent shell the turrets blaze,
And far in ocean dart their colour'd rays;
O'er the white floor successive shadows move,
As rise and break the ruffled waves above.—
Around the nymph her mermaid-trains repair,275
And weave with orient pearl her radiant hair;
With rapid fins she cleaves the watery way,
Shoots like a silver meteor up to day;
Sounds a loud conch, convokes a scaly band,
Her sea-born lovers, and ascends the strand.280
E'en round the pole the flames of Love aspire,
And icy bosoms feel the secret fire!—
Cradled in snow and fann'd by arctic air
Shines, gentle BAROMETZ! thy golden hair;33
Rooted in earth each cloven hoof descends,285
And round and round her flexile neck she bends;
Crops the grey coral moss, and hoary thyme,
Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime;
Eyes with mute tenderness her distant dam,
Or seems to bleat, a Vegetable Lamb. 290
[Page 31]—So, warm and buoyant in his oily mail,
Gambols on seas of ice the unwieldy Whale;
Wide-waving fins round floating islands urge
His bulk gigantic through the troubled surge;
With hideous yawn the flying shoals He seeks,295
Or clasps with fringe of horn his massy cheeks;
Lifts o'er the tossing wave his nostrils bare,
And spouts pellucid columns into air;
The silvery arches catch the setting beams,
And transient rainbows tremble o'er the streams.300
Weak with nice sense, the chaste MIMOSA stands,34
From each rude touch withdraws her timid hands;
Oft as light clouds o'er-pass the Summer-glade,
Alarm'd she trembles at the moving shade;
And feels, alive through all her tender form,305
The whisper'd murmurs of the gathering storm;
Shuts her sweet eye-lids to approaching night;
And hails with freshen'd charms the rising light.
[Page 33]Veil'd, with gay decency and modest pride,
Slow to the mosque she moves, an eastern bride; 310
There her soft vows unceasing love record,
Queen of the bright seraglio of her Lord.—
So sinks or rises with the changeful hour
The liquid silver in its glassy tower.
So turns the needle to the pole it loves,315
With fine librations quivering as it moves.
All wan and shivering in the leafless glade
The sad ANEMONE reclined her head;35
Grief on her cheeks had paled the roseate hue,
And her sweet eye-lids dropp'd with pearly dew.320
—"See, from bright regions, borne on odorous gales
The Swallow, herald of the summer, sails;36
[Page 34]"Breathe, gentle AIR! from cherub-lips impart
"Thy balmy influence to my anguish'd heart; 324
"Thou, whose soft voice calls forth the tender blooms,
"Whose pencil paints them, and whose breath perfumes;
"O chase the Fiend of Frost, with leaden mace
"Who seals in death-like sleep my hapless race;
"Melt his hard heart, release his iron hand,
"And give my ivory petals to expand.330
"So may each bud, that decks the brow of spring,
"Shed all its incense on thy wafting wing!"—
To her fond prayer propitious Zephyr yields,
Sweeps on his sliding shell through azure fields,
O'er her fair mansion waves his whispering wand,335
And gives her ivory petals to expand;
Gives with new life her filial train to rise,
And hail with kindling smiles the genial skies.
So shines the Nymph in beauty's blushing pride,
When Zephyr wafts her deep calash aside; 340
Tears with rude kiss her bosom's gauzy veil,
And flings the fluttering kerchief to the gale.
So bright, the folding canopy undrawn,
Glides the gilt Landau o'er the velvet lawn,
[Page 36]Of beaux and belles displays the glittering throng; 345
And soft airs fan them, as they roll along.
Where frowning Snowden bends his dizzy brow
O'er Conway, listening to the surge below;
Retiring LICHEN climbs the topmost stone,37
And 'mid the airy ocean dwells alone.— 350
Bright shine the stars unnumber'd o'er her head,
And the cold moon-beam gilds her flinty bed;
While round the rifted rocks hoarse whirlwinds breathe,
And dark with thunder sail the clouds beneath.
The steepy path her plighted swain pursues,355
And tracks her light step o'er th' imprinted dews,
Delighted Hymen gives his torch to blaze,
Winds round the craggs, and lights the mazy ways;
[Page 37]Sheds o'er their secret vows his influence chaste,
And decks with roses the admiring waste.360
High in the front of heaven when Sirius glares,
And o'er Britannia shakes his fiery hairs;
When no soft shower descends, no dew distills,
Her wave-worn channels dry, and mute her rills;
When droops the sickening herb, the blossom fades,365
And parch'd earth gapes beneath the withering glades.
—With languid step fair DYPSACA retreats;38
"Fall gentle dews!" the fainting nymph repeats;
Seeks the low dell, and in the sultry shade
Invokes in vain the Naiads to her aid.— 370
[Page 38] Four silvan youths in crystal goblets bear
The untasted treasure to the grateful fair;
Pleased from their hands with modest grace she sips,
And the cool wave reflects her coral lips.
With nice selection modest RUBIA blends,39 375
Her vermil dyes, and o'er the cauldron bends;
Warm 'mid the rising steam the Beauty glows,
As blushes in a mist the dewy rose.
With chemic art four favour'd youths aloof
Stain the white fleece, or stretch the tinted woof; 380
O'er Age's cheek the warmth of youth diffuse,
Or deck the pale-eyed nymph in roseate hues.
So when MEDEA to exulting Greece
From plunder'd COLCHIS bore the golden fleece;
On the loud shore a magic pile she rais'd,385
The cauldron bubbled, and the faggots blaz'd;—
Pleased on the boiling wave old AESON swims,40
And feels new vigour stretch his swelling limbs;
[Page 40]Through his thrill'd nerves forgotten ardors dart,
And warmer eddies circle round his heart; 390
With softer fires his kindling eye-balls glow,
And darker tresses wanton round his brow.
As dash the waves on India's breezy strand,
Her flush'd cheek press'd upon her lily hand,
VALLISNER sits, up-turns her tearful eyes,41 395
Calls her lost lover, and upbraids the skies;[Page]

Vallisneria Spiralis.

[Page 41]For him she breathes the silent sight, forlorn,
Each setting-day; for him each rising morn.—
"Bright orbs, that light you high etherial plain,
"Or bathe your radiant tresses in the main; 400
"Pale moon, that silver'st o'er night's sable brow;—
"For ye were witness to his parting vow!—
"Ye shelving rocks, dark waves, and sounding shore,—
"Ye echoed sweet the tender words he swore!—
"Can stars or seas the sails of love retain?405
"O guide my wanderer to my arms again!"—
Her buoyant skiff intrepid ULVA guides,42
And seeks her Lord amid the trackless tides;
[Page 42]Her secret vows the Cyprian Queen approves,
And hovering halcyons guard her inftant-loves; 410
Each in his floating cradle round they throng,
And dimpling Ocean bears the fleet along.—
Thus o'er the waves, which gently bend and swell,
Fair GALATEA steers her silver shell;
[Page 43]Her playful Dolphins stretch the silken rein,415
Hear her sweet voice, and glide along the main.
As round the wild meandering coast she moves
By gushing rills, rude cliffs, and nodding groves;
Each by her pine the Wood-nymphs wave their locks,
And wondering Naiads peep amid the rocks; 420
Pleased trains of Mermaids rise from coral cells,
Admiring Tritons found their twisted shells;
Charm'd o'er the car pursuing Cupids sweep,
Their snow-white pinions twinkling in the deep;
And, as the lustre of her eye she turns,425
Soft sighs the Gale, and amorous Ocean burns.
On DOVE'S green brink the fair TREMELLA stood,43
And view'd her playful image in the flood;
[Page 44]To each rude rock, lone dell, and echoing grove
Sung the sweet sorrows of her secret love.430
"Oh, stay!—return!"—along the sounding shore
Cry'd the sad Naiads,—she return'd no more!—
Now girt with clouds the sullen Evening frown'd,
And withering Eurus swept along the ground;
The misty moon withdrew her horned light,435
And sunk with Hesper in the skirt of night;
[Page 45]No dim electric streams, (the northern dawn,)
With meek effulgence quiver'd o'er the lawn;
No star benignant shot one transient ray
To guide or light the wanderer on her way.440
Round the dark craggs the murmuring whirlwinds blow,
Woods groan above, and waters roar below;
As o'er the steeps with pausing foot she moves,
The pitying Dryads shriek amid their groves;
She flies,—she stops,—she pants—she looks behind,445
And hears a demon howl in every wind.
—As the bleak blast unfurls her fluttering vest,
Cold beats the snow upon her shuddering breast;
Through her numb'd limbs the chill sensations dart,
And the keen ice-bolt trembles at her heart; 450
"I sink, I fall! oh, help me, help!" she cries,
Her stiffening tongue the unfinish'd sound denies;
Tear after tear adown her cheek succeeds,
And pearls of ice bestrew the glittering meads;
Congealing snows her lingering feet surround,455
Arrest her flight, and root her to the ground;
[Page 46]With suppliant arms she pours the silent prayer;
Her suppliant arms hang crystal in the air;
Pellucid films her shivering neck o'erspread,
Seal her mute lips, and silver o'er her head,460
Veil her pale bosom, glaze her lifted hands,
And shrined in ice the beauteous statue stands
—DOVE'S azure nymphs on each revolving year
For fair TREMELLA shed the tender tear;
With rush-wove crowns in sad procession move,465
And sound the sorrowing shell to hapless love."
Here paused the MUSE,—across the darken'd pole
Sail the dim clouds, the echoing thunders roll;
The trembling Wood-nymphs, as the tempest lowers,
Lead the gay Goddess to their inmost bowers; 470
Hang the mute lyre the laurel shade beneath,
And round her temples bind the myrtle wreath.
—Now the light swallow with her airy brood
Skims the green meadow, and the dimpled flood;
[Page 47]Loud shrieks the lone thrush from his leafless thorn,475
Th' alarmed beetle sounds his bugle horn;
Each pendant spider winds with singers sine
His ravel'd clue, and climbs along the line;
Gay Gnomes in glittering circles stand aloof
Beneath a spreading mushroom's fretted roof; 480
Swift bees returning seek their waxen cells,
And Sylphs cling quivering in the lily's bells.
Through the still air descend the genials showers,
And pearly rain-drops deck the laughing flowers.



YOUR verses, Mr. Botanist, consist of pure de­scription, I hope there is sense in the notes.


I am only a flower-painter, or occasionally attempt a land­skip; and leave the human figure with the subjects of history to abler artists.


It is well to know what subjects are within the limits of your pencil; many have failed of success from the want of this self­knowledge. But pray tell me, what is the essential difference be­tween Poetry and Prose? is it solely the melody or measure of the language?


I think not solely; for some prose has its melody, and even measure. And good verses, well spoken in a language unknown to the hearer, are not easily to be distinguished from good prose.

[Page 49]

Is it the sublimity, beauty, or novelty of the sentiments?


Not so; for sublime sentiments are often better expressed in prose. Thus when Warwick in one of the plays of Shakespear, is left wounded on the field after the loss of the battle, and his friend says to him, "Oh, could you but fly!" what can be more sublime than his answer, "Why then, I would not fly." No measure of verse, I imagine, could add dignity to this sentiment. And it would be easy to select examples of the beautiful or new from prose writers, which I suppose no measure of verse could improve.


In what then consists the essential difference between Poetry and Prose?


Next to the measure of the language, the principal distinction appears to me to consist in this: that Poetry admits of but few words expressive of very abstracted ideas, whereas Prose abounds with them. And as our ideas derived from visible objects are more dis­tinct than those derived from the objects of our other sense, the words expressive of these ideas belonging to vision make up the principal part of poetic language. That is, the Poet writes princi­pally [Page 50] to the eye, the Prose-writer uses more abstracted terms. Mr. Pope has written a bad verse in the Windsor Forest: ‘And Kennet swift for silver Eels renown'd. The word renown'd does not present the idea of a visible object to the mind, and is thence prosaic. But change this line thus, ‘And Kennet swift, where silver Graylings play. and it becomes poetry, because the scenery is then brought before the eye.


This may be done in prose.


And when it is done in a single word, it animates the prose; so it is more agreeable to read in Mr. Gibbon's History, ‘Germany was at this time over-shadowed with extensive forests;’ than Germany was at this time full of extensive forests. But where this mode of expression occurs too frequently, the prose approaches to poetry: and in graver works, where we expect to be instructed ra­ther than amused, it becomes tedious and impertinent. Some parts of Mr. Burke's eloquent orations become intricate and enervated by superfluity of poetic ornament; which quantity of ornament would have been agreeable in a poem, where much ornament is ex­pected.

[Page 51]

Is then the office of Poetry only to amuse?


The Muses are young ladies, we expect to see them dressed; though not like some modern beauties with so much gauze and fea­ther, that "the Lady herself is the least part of her." There are however didactic pieces of poetry, which are much admired, as the Georgics of Virgil, Mason's English Garden, Hayley's Epistles; nevertheless Science is best delivered in Prose, as its mode of reason­ing is from stricter analogies than metaphors or similies.


Do not Personifications and Allegories distinguish poetry?


These are other arts of bringing objects before the eye; or of expressing sentiments in the language of vision; and are indeed better suited to the pen than the pencil.


That is strange, when you have just said they are used to bring their objects before the eye.


In poetry the personification or allegoric figure is generally indistinct, and therefore does not strike us so forcibly as to make us attend to its improbability; but in painting, the figures being all [Page 52] much more distinct, their improbability becomes apparent, and seizes our attention to it. Thus the person of Concealment is very indis­tinct, and therefore does not compel us to attend to its improbability, in the following beautiful lines of Shakespear:

—She never told her love;
But let Concealment, like a worm i' th' bud,
Feed on her damask cheek.—

But in these lines below the person of Reason obtrudes itself into our company, and becomes disagreeable by its distinctness, and cones­quent improbability.

To Reason I flew, and intreated her aid,
Who paused on my case, and each circumstance weigh'd;
Then gravely reply'd in return to my prayer,
That Hebe was fairest of all that were fair.
That's a truth, reply'd I, I've no need to be taught,
I came to you, Reason, to find out a fault.
If that's all, says Reason, return as you came,
To find fault with Hebe would forfeit my name.

Allegoric figures are on this account in general less manageable in painting and in statuary than in poetry: and can seldom be intro­duced in the two former arts in company with natural figures, as is evident from the ridiculous effect of many of the paintings of Rubens in the Luxemburgh gallery; and for this reason, because their im­probability becomes more striking, when there are the figures of real persons by their side to compare them with.

[Page 53] Mrs. Angelica Kauffman, well apprised of this circumstance, has introduced no mortal figures amongst her Cupids and her Graces. And the great Roubiliac, in his unrivalled monument of Time and Fame struggling for the trophy of General Fleming, has only hung up a medallion of the head of the hero of the piece. There are however some allegoric figures, which we have so often heard described or seen delineated, that we almost forget that they do not exist in common life; and hence view them without astonishment; as the figures of the heathen mythology, of angels, devils, death and time; and almost believe them to be realities, even when they are mixed with representations of the natural forms of man. Whence I con­clude, that a certain degree of probability is necessary to prevent us from revolting with distaste from unnatural images; unless we are otherwise so much interested in the contemplation of them as not to perceive their improbability.


Is this reasoning about degrees of probability just?—When Sir Joshua Reynolds, who is unequalled both in the theory and practice of his art, and who is a great master of the pen as well as the pencil, has asserted in a discourse delivered to the Royal Academy, December 11, 1786, that ‘the higher styles of painting, like the higher kinds of the Drama, do not aim at any thing like deception; or have any expectation, that the spectators should think the events there represented are really passing before them.’ And he then accuses Mr. Fielding of bad judgment, when he attempts to compliment Mr. Garrick in one of his novels, by introducing an ignorant man, mistaking the representation of a scene in Hamlet for a reality; and [Page 54] thinks, because he was an ignorant man, he was less liable to make such a mistake.


It is a metaphysical question, and requires more attention than Sir Joshua has bestowed upon it.—You will allow, that we are per­fectly deceived in our dreams; and that even in our waking reveries, we are often so much absorbed in the contemplation of what passes in our imaginations, that for a while we do not attend to the lapse of time or to our own locality; and thus suffer a similar kind of de­ception as in our dreams. That is, we believe things present before our eyes, which are not so.

There are two circumstances, which contribute to this compleat deception in our dreams. First, because in sleep the organs of sense are closed or inert, and hence the trains of ideas associated in our imaginations are never interrupted or disserered by the irritations of external objects, and can not therefore be contrasted with our sen­sations. On this account, though we are affected with a variety of passions in our dreams, as anger, love, joy; yet we never experience surprize.—For surprize is only produced when any external irrita­tions suddenly obtrude themselves, and dissever our passing trains of ideas.

Secondly, because in sleep there is a total suspension of our volun­tary power, both over the muscles of our bodies, and the ideas of our minds; for we neither walk about, nor reason in compleat sleep. Hence, as the trains of ideas are passing in our imaginations in dreams, we cannot compare them with our previous knowledge of things, as we do in our waking hours; for this is a voluntary exertion; and thus we cannot perceive their incongruity.

[Page 55] Thus we are deprived in sleep of the only two means by which we can distinguish the trains of ideas passing in our imaginations, from those excited by our sensations; and are led by their vivacity to be­lieve them to belong to the latter. For the vivacity of these trains of ideas, passing in the imagination, is greatly increased by the causes above-mentioned; that is, by their not being disturbed or dissevered either by the appulses of external bodies, as in surprize; or by our voluntary exertions in comparing them with our previous knowledge of things, as in reasoning upon them.


Now to apply.


When by the art of the Painter or Poet a train of ideas is sug­gested to our imaginations, which interests us so much by the pain or pleasure it affords, that we cease to attend to the irritations of common external objects, and cease also to use any voluntary efforts to compare these interesting trains of ideas with our previous know­ledge of things, a compleat reverie is produced: during which time, however short, if it be but for a moment, the objects themselves appear to exist before us. This, I think, has been called by an in­genious critic "the ideal presence" of such objects. (Elements of Criticism by Lord Kaimes). And in respect to the compliment in­tended by Mr. Fielding to Mr. Garrick, it would seem that an ig­norant Rustic at the play of Hamlet, who has some previous belief in the appearance of Ghosts, would sooner be liable to fall into re­verie, and continue in it longer, than one who possessed more know­ledge [Page 56] of the real nature of things, and had a greater facility of ex­ercising his reason.


It must require great art in the Painter or Poet to produce this kind of deception?


The matter must be interesting from its sublimity, beauty, or novelty; this is the scientific part; and the art consists in bringing these distinctly before the eye, so as to produce (as above-mentioned) the ideal presence of the object, in which the great Shakespear par­ticularly excells.


Then it is not of any consequence whether the representations correspond with nature?


Not if they so much interest the reader or spectator as to in­duce the reverie above described. Nature may be seen in the market­place, or at the card-table; but we expect something more than this in the play-house or picture-room. The further the artists recedes from nature, the greater novelty he is likely to produce; if he rises above nature, he produces the sublime; and beauty is probably a selection and new combination of her most agreeable parts. Your­self will be sensible of the truth of this doctrine by recollecting over [Page 57] in your mind the works of three of our celebrated artists. Sir Joshua Reynolds has introduced sublimity even into its protraits; we admire the representation of persons, whose reality we should have passed by unnoticed. Mrs. Angelica Kauffman attracts our eyes with beauty, which I suppose no where exists; certainly few Grecian faces are seen in this country. And the daring pencil of Fuseli transports us beyond the boundaries of nature, and ravishes us with the charm of the most interesting novelty. And Shakespear, who excells in all these together, so far captivates the spectator, as to make him un­mindful of every kind of violation of Time, Place, or Existence. As at the first appearance of the Ghost of Hamlet, ‘his ear must be dull as the fat weed, which roots itself on Lethe's brink,’ who can attend to the improbality of the exhibition. So in many scenes of the Tempest we perpetually believe the action passing before our eyes, and relapse with somewhat of distaste into common life at the intervals of the representation.


I suppose a poet of less ability would find such great machi­nery difficult and cumbersome to manage?


Just so, we should be shocked at the apparent improbabilities. As in the gardens of a Scicilian nobleman, described in Mr. Brydone's and in Mr. Swinburn's travels, there are said to be fix hundred statues of imaginary monsters, which so disgust the spectators, that the state had once a serious design of destroying them; and yet the very [Page 58] improbable monsters in Ovid's Metamorphoses have entertained the world for many centuries.


The monsters in your Botanic Garden, I hope, are of the latter kind?


The candid reader must determine.


AGAIN the Goddess strikes the golden lyre,
And tunes to wilder notes the warbling wire;
With soft suspended step Attention moves,
And Silence hovers o'er the listening groves;
Orb within orb the charmed audience throng,5
And the green vault reverberates the song.
"Breathe soft, ye Gales!" the fair CARLINA cries,44
"Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies.
"How sweetly mutable yon orient hues,
"As Morn's fair hand her opening roses strews; 10
"How bright, when Iris blending many a ray
"Binds in embroider'd wreath the brow of Day;
"Soft, when the pendant Moon with lustres pale
"O'er heaven's blue arch unsurls her milky veil;
"While from the north long threads of silver light 15
"Dart on swift shuttles o'er the tissued night!
[Page 61]Breathe soft, ye Zephyrs! hear my fervent sighs,
"Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies!"—
—Plume over plume in long divergent lines
On whale-bone ribs the fair Mechanic joins; 20
Inlays with eider down the silken strings,
And weaves in wide expanse Daedalian wings;
Round her bold sons the waving pennons binds,
And walks with angel-step upon the winds.
So on the shoreless air the intrepid Gaul 25
Launch'd the vast concave of his bouyant ball.—
Journeying on high, the silken castle glides
Bright as a meteor through the azure tides;
O'er towns and towers and temples wins its way,
Or mounts sublime, and gilds the vault of day.30
Silent with upturn'd eyes unbreathing crowds
Pursue the floating wonder to the clouds;
And, flush'd with transport or benumb'd with fear,
Watch, as it rises, the diminish'd sphere.
[Page 62]—Now less and less!—and now a speck is seen!— 35
And now the fleeting rack obtrudes between!—
With bended knees, raised arms, and suppliant brow
To every shrine with mingled cries they vow.—
"Save Him, ye Saints! who o'er the good preside;
"Bear Him, ye Winds! ye Stars benignant! guide.40
—The calm Philosopher in ether sails,
Views broader stars, and breathes in purer gales;
Sees, like a map, in many a waving line
Round Earth's blue plains her lucid waters shine;
Sees at his feet the forky lightnings glow,45
And hears innocuous thunders roar below.
—Rise, great MONGOLFIER! urge thy venturous flight
High o'er the Moon's pale ice-reflected light;
High o'er the pearly Star, whose beamy horn
Hangs in the east, gay harbinger of morn; 50
Leave the red eye of Mars on rapid wing,
Jove's silver guards, and Saturn's dusky ring;
Leave the fair beams, which, issuing from afar,
Play with new lustres round the Georgian star;
[Page 63]Shun with strong oars the Sun's attractive throne,55
The sparkling zodiack, and the milky zone;
Where headlong Comets with increasing force
Through other systems bend their blazing course,—
For thee Cassiope her chair withdraws,
For thee the Bear retracts his shaggy paws;45 60
High o'er the North thy golden orb shall roll,
And blaze eternal round the wondering pole.
So Argo, rising from the southern main,
Lights with new stars the blue etherial plain;
With favoring beams the mariner protects,65
And the bold course, which first it steer'd, directs.
Inventress of the Woof, fair LINA flings
The flying shuttle through the dancing strings;
[Page 64]Inlays the broider'd west with flowery dyes,
Quick beat the reeds, the pedals fall and rise; 70
Slow from the beam the lengths of warp unwind,
And dance and nod the massy weights behind.—
Taught by her labours, from the fertile soil
Immortal ISIS clothed the banks of Nile;
And fair ARACHNE with her rival loom 75
Found undeserved a melancholy doom.—
Five Sister-nymphs with dewy fingers twine
The beamy flax, and stretch the fibre-line;
Quick eddying threads from rapid spindles reel,
Or whirl with beaten foot the dizzy wheel.80
—Charm'd round the busy Fair five shepherds press,
Praise the nice texture of their snowy dress,
Admire the Artists, and the art approve,
And tell with honey'd words the tale of love.
So now, where Derwent rolls his dusky floods 85
Through vaulted mountains, and a night of woods,
[Page 65]The Nymph, GOSSYPIA, treads the velvet sod,46
And warms with rosy smiles the watery God;
His ponderous oars to slender spindles turns,
And pours o'er massy wheels his foamy urns; 90
With playful charms her hoary lover wins,
And wields his trident,—while the Monarch spins.
—First with nice eye emerging Naiads cull
From leathery pods the vegetable wool;
[Page 66]With wiry teeth revolving cards releas 95
The tanged knots, and smooth the ravell'd fleece;
Next moves the iron-hand with fingers fine,
Combs the wide card, and forms the eternal line;
Slow, with soft lips, the whirling Can acquires
The tender skeins, and wraps in rising spires; 100
With quicken'd pace successive rollers move,
And these retain, and those extend the rove;
Then fly the spoles, the rapid axles glow;—
And slowly circumvolves the labouring wheel below.
PAPYRA, throned upon the banks of Nile,47 105
Spread her smooth leaf, and waved her silver style.
[Page 67]—The storied pyramid, the laurel'd bust,
The trophy'd arch had crumbled into dust;
The sacred symbol, and the epic song,
(Unknown the character, forgot the tongue,)110
With each unconquer'd chief, or sainted maid,
Sunk undistinguish'd in Oblivion's shade,
Sad o'er the scatter'd ruins Genius sgh'd,
And infant Arts but learn'd to lisp and died.
Till to astonish'd realms PAPYRA taught 115
To paint in mystic colours Sound and Thought.
With Wisdom's voice to print the page sublime,
And mark in adamant the steps of Time.
Three favour'd youths her soft attention share,
The fond disciples of the studious fair,120
[Page 68]Hear her sweet voice, the golden process prove;
Gaze, as they learn; and, as they listen, love.
The first from Alpha to Omega joins
The letter'd tribes along the level lines;
Weighs with nice ear the vowel, liquid, surd,125
And breaks in syllables the volant word.
Then forms the next upon the marsal'd plain
In deepening ranks his dexterous cypher-train;
And counts, as wheel the decimating bands,
The dews of Aegypt, or Arabia's sands.130
And then the third on four concordant lines
Prints the lone crotchet, and the quaver joins;
Marks the gay trill, the solemn pause inscribes,
And parts with bars the undulating tribes.134
Pleased round her cane-wove throne, the applauding crowd
Clap'd their rude hands, their swarthy foreheads bow'd;
With loud acclaim "a present God!" they cry'd,
"A present God!" rebellowing shores reply'd,—
Then peal'd at intervals with mingled swell
The echoing harp, shill clarion, horn, and shell; 140
[Page 69]While Bards ecstatic, bending o'er the lyre,
Struck deeper chords, and wing'd the song with fire,
Then mark'd Astronomers with keener eyes
The Moon's refulgent journey through the skies;
Watch'd the swift Comets urge their blazing cars,145
And weigh'd the Sun with his revolving Stars.
High raised the Chemists their Hermetic wands,
(And changing forms obey'd their waving hands,)
Her treasur'd gold from Earth's deep chambers tore,
Or fused and harden'd her chalybeate ore.150
All with bent knee from fair PAPYRA claim
Wove by her hands the wreath of deathless fame.
—Exulting Genius crown'd his darling child,
The young Arts clasp'd her knees, and Virtue smiled.
So now DELANY forms her mimic bowers,48 155
Her paper soliage, and her silken flowers;
[Page 70]Her virgin train the tender scissars ply,
Vein the green leaf, the purple petal dye:
Round wiry stems the flaxen tendril bends,
Moss creeps below, and waxen fruit impends.160
Cold Winter views amid his realms of snow
DELANY'S vegetable statues blow;
Smooths his stern brow, delays his hoary wing,
And eyes with wonder all the blooms of spring.
The gentle LAPSANA, NYMPHAEA fair,49 165
And bright CALENDULA with golden hair,
[Page 71]Watch with nice eye the Earth's diurnal way,
Marking her solar and sidereal day,
Her slow nutation, and her varying clime,
And trace with mimic art the march of Time; 170
Round his light foot a magic chain they fling,
And count the quick vibrations of his wing.—
[Page 72]First in its brazen cell reluctant roll'd
Bends the dark spring in many a steely fold;
On spiral brass is stretch'd the wiry thong,175
Tooth urges tooth, and wheel drives wheel along;
In diamond eyes the polish'd axles flow,
Smooth slides the hand, the ballance pants below.
Round the white circlet in relievo bold
A Serpent twines his scaly length in gold; 180
And brightly pencil'd on the enamel'd sphere
Live the fair trophies of the passing year.
—Here Time's huge fingers grasp his giant-mace,
And dash proud Superstition from her base,
Rend her strong towers and gorgeous fanes, and shed 185
The crumbling fragments round her guilty head.
There the gay Hours, whom wreaths of roses deck,
Lead their young trains amid the cumberous wreck;
And, slowly purpling o'er the mighty waste,
Plant the fair growths of Science and of Taste.190
While each light Moment, as it dances by
With feathery soot and pleasure-twinkling eye,
[Page 73]Feeds from its baby-hand, with many a kiss,
The callow nestlings of domestic Bliss.
As yon gay clouds, which canopy the skies,195
Change their thin forms, and lose their lucid dyes;
So the soft bloom of Beauty's vernal charms
Fades in our eyes, and withers in our arms.
—Bright as the silvery plume, or pearly shell,
The snow-white rose, or lily's virgin bell,200
The fair HELLEBORAS attractive shone,50
Warm'd every Sage, and every Shepherd won.—
Round the gay sisters press the enamour'd bands,
And seek with soft solicitude their hands.
—Ere while how chang'd!—in dim suffusion lies 205
The glance divine, that lighten'd in their eyes;
[Page 74]Cold are those lips, where smiles seductive hung,
And the weak accents linger on their tongue;
Each roseat feature fades to livid green,—
—Disgust with face averted shuts the scene.210
So from his gorgeous throne, which awed the world,
The mighty Monarch of the east was hurl'd,
To dwell with brutes beneath the midnight storm,
By Heaven's just vengeance changed in mind and form.
—Prone to the earth He bends his brow superb,215
Crops the young floret and the bladed herb;
Lolls his red tongue, and from the reedy side
Of slow Euphrates laps the muddy tide.
Long eagle plumes his arching neck invest,
Steal round his arms, and clasp his sharpen'd breast; 220
Dark brinded hairs in bristling ranks, behind,
Rise o'er his back, and rustle in the wind,
Clothe his lank sides, his shrivel'd limbs surround,
And human hands with talons print the ground.
Silent in shining troops the Courtier-throng 225
Pursue their monarch as he crawls along;
[Page 75]E'en Beauty pleads in vain with smiles and tears,
Nor Flattery's self can pierce his pendant ears.
Two Sister-Nymphs to Ganges' flowery brink51
Bend their light steps, the lucid water drink,230
Wind through the dewy rice, and nodding canes,
(As eight black Eunuchs guard the sacred plains),
With playful malice watch the scaly brood,
And shower the inebriate berries on the flood.—
Stay in your crystal chambers, silver tribes!235
Turn your bright eyes, and shun the dangerous bribes;
The tramel'd net with less destruction sweeps
Your curling shallows, and your azure deeps;
With less deceit, the gilded fly beneath,
Lurks the fell hook unseen,—to taste is death!— 240
—Dim your slow eyes, and dull your pearly coat,
Drunk on the waves your languid forms shall float,
[Page 76]On useless fins in giddy circles play,
And Herons and Otters seize you for their prey.—
So, when the Saint from Padua's graceless land 245
In silent anguish sought the barren strand,
High on the shatter'd beech sublime He stood,
Still'd with his waving arm the babbling flood;
"To Man's dull ear," He cry'd, "I call in vain,
Hear me, ye scaly tenants of the main!"—
Misshapen Seals approach in circling flocks,250
In dusky mail the Tortoise climbs the rocks,
Torpedoes, Sharks, Rays, Porpus, Dolphins, pour
Their twinkling squadrons round the glittering shore;
With tangled fins, behind, huge Phocae glide,255
And Whales and Grampi swell the distant tide.
Then kneel'd the hoary Seer, to heaven address'd
His siery eyes, and smote his sounding brest;
"Bless ye the Lord!" with thundering voice he cry'd,
"Bless ye the Lord!" the bending shores reply'd;
The winds and waters caught the sacred word,
And mingling echoes shouted "Bless the Lord!"
[Page 77]The listening shoals the quick contagion feel.
Pant on the floods, inebriate with their zeal,
Ope their wide jaws, and bow their slimy heads,265
And dash with frantic sins their foamy beds.
Sopha'd on silk, amid her charm-built towers,
Her meads of asphodel, and amaranth bowers,
Where Sleep and Silence guard the soft abodes,
In sullen apathy PAPAVER nods.52 270
Faint o'er her couch in scintillating streams
Pass the thin forms of Fancy and of Dreams;
Froze by inchantment on the velvet ground
Fair youths and beauteous ladies glitter round;
[Page 78]On crystal pedestals they seem to sigh,275
Bend the meek knee, and lift the imploring eye.
—And now the Sorceress bares her shrivel'd hand,
And circles thrice in air her ebon wand;
Flush'd with new life descending statues talk,
The pliant marble softening as they walk; 280
With deeper sobs reviving lovers breathe,
Fair bosoms rise and soft hearts pant beneath;
With warmer lips relenting damsels speak,
And kindling blushes tinge the Parian cheek;
To viewless lutes aërial voices sing,285
And hovering Loves are heard on rustling wing.
—She waves her wand again!—fresh horrors seize
Their stiffening limbs, their vital currents freeze;
By each cold nymph her marble lover lies,
And iron slumbers seal their glassy eyes.290
So with his dread Caduceus HERMES led
From the dark regions of the imprison'd dead,
Or drove in silent shoals the lingering train
To Night's dull shore, and PLUTO'S dreary reign.
So with her waving pencil CREWE commands53 295
The realms of Taste, and Fancy's fairy lands;
Calls up with magic voice the shapes, that sleep
In earth's dark bosom, or unfathom'd deep;
That shrined in air on viewless wings aspire,
Or blazing bathe in elemental fire.300
As with nice touch her plaistic hand she moves,
Rise the fine forms of Beauties, Graces, Loves;
Kneel to the fair Inchantress, smile or sigh,
And fade or flourish, as she turns her eye.
Fair CISTA, rival of the rosy dawn,54 305
Call'd her light choir, and trod the dewy lawn;
Hail'd with rude melody the new-born May,
As cradled yet in April's lap she lay.
"Born in yon blaze of orient sky,
"Sweet MAY! thy radiant form unfold; 310
"Unclose thy blue voluptuous eye,
"And wave thy shadowy locks of gold,
"For Thee the fragrant zephyrs blow,
"For Thee descends the sunny shower;
"The rills in softer murmurs flow,315
"And brighter blossoms gem the bower.
"Light Graces dress'd in flowery wreaths
"And tiptoe Joys their hands combine;
"And Love his sweet contagion breathes,
"And laughing dances round thy shrine.320
"Warm with new life the glittering throngs
"On quivering fin and rustling wing
"Delighted join their votive songs,
"And hail thee, GODDESS OF THE SPRING."
O'er the green brinks of Severn's oozy bed,325
In changeful rings, her sprightly troop She led;
PAN tripp'd before, where Eudness shades the mead,
And blew with glowing lip his sevenfold reed;55
Emerging Naiads swell'd the jocund strain,
And aped with mimic step the dancing train.— 330
[Page 82]"I faint, I fall!"—at noon the Beauty cried,
"Weep o'er my tomb, ye Nymphs!"—and sunk and died.
—Thus, when white Winter o'er the shivering clime
Drives the still snow, or showers the silver rime;
As the lone shepherd o'er the dazzling rocks 335
Prints his steep step, and guides his vagrant flocks;
Views the green holly veil'd in network nice,
Her vermil clusters twinkling in the ice;
Admires the lucid vales, and slumbering floods,
Fantastic cataracts, and crystal woods,340
Transparent towns, with seas of milk between,
And eyes with transport the refulgent scene:—
If breaks the sunshine o'er the spangled trees,
Or flits on tepid wing the western breeze,
In liquid dews descends the transient glare,345
And all the glittering pageant melts in air.
Where Andes hides his cloud-wreath'd crest in snow,
And roots his base on burning sands below;
[Page 83]CINCHONA, fairest of Peruvian maids,56
To Health's bright Goddess in the breezy glades 350
On Quito's temperate plain an altar rear'd,
Trill'd the loud hymn, the solemn prayer preferr'd:
Each balmy bud she cull'd, and honey'd flower,
And hung with fragrant wreaths the sacred bower;
Each pearly sea the search'd, and sparkling mine,355
And piled their treasures on the gorgeous shrine;
Her suppliant voice for sickening Loxa raised,
Sweet breath'd the gale, and bright the censor blazed.
—"Divine HYGEIA! on thy votaries bend
"Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend!360
"While streaming o'er the night with baleful glare
"The star of Autumn rays his misty hair;
"Fierce from his fens the Giant AGUE springs,
"And wrapp'd in fogs descends on vampire wings;
[Page 84]"Before, with shuddering limbs cold Tremor reels,365
"And Fever's burning nostril dogs his heels;
"Loud claps the grinning Fiend his iron hands,
"Stamps with his marble feet, and shouts along the lands;
"Withers the damask cheek, unnerves the strong,
"And drives with scorpion-lash the shrieking throng.370
"Oh, Goddess! on thy kneeling votaries bend
"Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend!"
—HYGEIA, leaning from the blest abodes,
The crystal mansions of the immortal gods,
Saw the fad Nymph uplift her dewy eyes,375
Spread her white arms, and breathe her fervid sighs;
Call'd to her fair associates, Youth, and Joy,
And shot all-radiant through the glittering sky;
Loose waved behind her golden train of hair,
Her sapphire mantle swam diffus'd in air.— 380
O'er the grey matted moss, and pansied sod,
With step sublime the glowing Goddess trod,
Gilt with her beamy eye the conscious shade,
And with her smile celestial bless'd the maid.
[Page 85]"Come to my arms," with seraph voice she cries,385
"Thy vows are heard, benignant Nymph! arise;
"Where yon aspiring trunks fantastic wreath
"Their mingled roots, and drink the rill beneath,
"Yield to the biting axe thy sacred wood,
"And strew the bitter foliage on the flood."390
In silent homage bow'd the blushing maid,—
Five youths athletic hasten to her aid,
O'er the scar'd hills re-echoing strokes resound,
And headlong forests thunder on the ground.
Round the dark roots, rent bark, and shatter'd boughs,395
From ocherous beds the swelling fountain flows;
With streams austere its winding margin laves,
And pours from vale to vale its dusky waves.
—As the pale squadrons, bending o'er the brink,
View with a sigh their alter'd forms, and drink; 400
Slow-ebbing life with refluent crimson breaks
O'er their wan lips, and paints their haggard cheeks;
Through each fine nerve rekindling transports dart,
Light the quick eye, and swell the exulting heart.
[Page 86]—Thus ISRAEL's heaven-taught chief o'er trackless sands
Led to the sultry rock his murmuring bands.406
right o'er his brows the forky radiance blazed,
And high in air the rod divine He raised.—
Wide yawns the cliff!—amid the thirsty throng
Rush the redundant waves, and shine along; 410
With gourds and shells and helmets press the bands,
Ope their parch'd lips, and spread their eager hands,
Snatch their pale infants to the exuberant shower,
Kneel on the shatter'd rock, and bless the Almighty Power,
Bolster'd with down, amid a thousand wants,415
Pale Dropsy rears his bloated form, and pants;
"Quench me, ye cool pellucid rills!" he cries,
Wets his parch'd tongue, and rolls his hollow eyes,
So bends tormented TANTALUS to drink,
While from his lips the refluent waters shrink; 420
Again the rising stream his bosom laves,
And Thirst consumes him 'mid circumfluent waves.
[Page 87]—Divine HYGEIA, from the bending sky
Descending, listens to his piercing cry;
Assumes bright DIGITALIS' dress and air,57 425
Her ruby cheek, white neck, and raven hair;
Four youths protect her from the circling throng,
And like the Nymph the Goddess steps along.—
—O'er Him She waves her serpent-wreathed wand,
Cheers with her voice, and raises with her hand,430
Warms with rekindling bloom his visage wan,
And charms the shapeless monster into man.
So when Contagion with mephitic breath
And wither'd Famine urged the work of death;
Marseilles' good Bishop, London's generous Mayor,58 59 435
With food and faith, with medicine and with prayer,
Raised the weak head and stayed the parting sigh,
Or with new life relumed the swimming eye.—
—And now, PHILANTHROPY! thy rays divine
Dart round the globe from Zembla to the Line; 440
O'er each dark prison plays the cheering light,
Like northern lustres o'er the vault of night.—
[Page 89]From realm to realm, with cross or crescent crown'd,
Where'er Mankind and Misery are found,
O'er burning sands, deep waves, or wilds of snow,445
Thy HOWARD journeying seeks the house of woe.
Down many a winding step to dungeons dank,
Where anguish wails aloud, and fetters clank;
To caves bestrew'd with many a mouldering bone,
And cells, whose echoes only learn to groan; 450
Where no kind bars a whispering friend disclose,
No sunbeam enters, and no zephyr blows,
HE treads, inemulous of fame or wealth,
Profuse of toil, and prodigal of health;
With soft assuasive eloquence expands 455
Power's rigid heart, and opes his clenching hands;
Leads stern-ey'd Justice to the dark domains,
If not to sever, to relax the chains;
Or guides awaken'd Mercy through the gloom,
And shews the prison, sister to the tomb!— 460
Gives to her babes the self-devoted wife,
To her fond husband liberty and life!—
[Page 90]—The Spirits of the Good, who bend from high
Wide o'er these earthly scenes their partial eye,
When first, array'd in VIRTUE's purest robe,465
They saw her HOWARD traversing the globe;
Saw round his brows her sun-like Glory blaze
In arrowy circles of unwearied rays;
Mistook a Mortal for an Angel-Guest,
And ask'd what Seraph-foot the earth imprest.470
—Onward he moves!—Disease and Death retire,
And murmuring Demons hate him, and admire."
Here paused the Goddess,—on HYGEIA's shrine
Obsequious Gnomes repose the lyre divine;
Descending Sylphs relax the trembling strings,475
And catch the rain-drops on their shadowy wings.
—And now her vase a modest Naiad fills
With liquid crystal from her pebbly rills;
Piles the dry cedar round her silver urn,
(Bright climbs the blaze, the crackling faggots burn),480
[Page 91]Culls the green herb of China's envy'd bowers,
In gaudy cups the steamy treasure pours;
And, sweetly-smiling, on her bended knee
Presents the fragrant quintessence of Tea.



THE monsters of your Botanic Garden are as sur­prising as the bulls with brazen feet, and the fire-breathing dragons, which guarded the Hesperian fruit; yet are they not disgusting, nor mischievous: and in the manner you have chained them together in your exhibition, they succeed each other amusingly enough, like prints of the London Cries, wrapped upon rollers, with a glass before them. In this at least they resemble the monsters in Ovid's Metamorphoses; but your similies, I suppose, are Homeric?


The great Bard well understood how to make use of this kind of ornament in Epic Poetry. He brings his valiant heroes into the field with much parade, and sets them a fighting with great fury; and then, after a few thrusts and parries, he introduces a long string of similies. During this the battle is supposed to continue; and thus the time necessary for the action is gained in our imagina­tions; [Page 93] and a degree of probability produced, which contributes to the temporary deception or reverie of the reader.

But the similies of Homer have another agreeable characteristic; they do not quadrate, or go upon all fours (as it is called), like the more formal similies of some modern writers; any one resembling feature seems to be with him a sufficient excuse for the introduction of this kind of digression; he then proceeds to deliver some agree­able poetry on this new subject, and thus converts every simile into a kind of short episode.


Then a simile should not very accurately resemble the subject?


No; it would then become a philosophical analogy, it would be ratiocination instead of poetry: it need only so far resemble the subject, as poetry itself ought to resemble nature. It should have so much sublimity, beauty, or novelty, as to interest the reader; and should be expressed in picturesque language, so as to bring the scenery before his eye; and should lastly bear so much veri-simili­tude as not to awaken him by the violence of improbability or in­congruity.


May not the reverie of the reader be dissipated or disturbed by disagreeable images being presented to his imagination, as well as by improbable or incongruous ones?

[Page 94]

Certainly; he will endeavour to rouse himself from a disagree­able reverie, as from the night-mare. And from this may be dis­covered the line of boundary between the Tragic and the Horrid: which line, however, will veer a little this way or that, according to the prevailing manners of the age or country, and the peculiar asso­ciations of ideas, or idiosyncracy of mind, of individuals. For in­stance, if an artist should represent the death of an officer in battle, by shewing a little blood on the bosom of his shirt, as if a bullet had there penetrated, the dying figure would affect the beholder with pity; and if fortitude was at the same time expressed in his countenance, admiration would be added to our pity. On the con­trary, if the artist should chuse to represent his thigh as shot away by a cannon ball, and should exhibit the bleeding flesh and shattered bone of the stump, the picture would introduce into our minds ideas from a butcher's shop, or a surgeon's operation-room, and we should turn from it with disgust. So if characters were brought upon the stage with their limbs disjointed by torturing instruments, and the floor covered with clotted blood and scattered brains, our theatric reverie would be destroyed by disgust, and we should leave the play­house with detestation.

The Painters have been more guilty in this respect than the Poets; the cruelty of Apollo in flaying Marcias alive is a favourite subject with the antient artists: and the tortures of expiring mar­tyrs have disgraced the modern ones. It requires little genius to exhibit the muscles in convulsive action either by the pencil or the chiffel, because the interstices are deep, and the lines strongly defined: but those tender gradations of muscular action, which constitute the graceful attitudes of the body, are difficult to con­ceive or to execute, except by a master of nice discernment and cultivated taste.

[Page 95]

By what definition would you distinguish the Horrid from the Tragic?


I suppose the latter consists of Distress attended with Pity, which is said to be allied to Love, the most agreeable of all our pas­sions; and the former in Distress, accompanied with Disgust, which is allied to Hate, and is one of our most disagreeable sensations. Hence, when horrid scenes of cruelty are represented in pictures, we wish to disbelieve their existence, and voluntarily exert ourselves to escape from the deception: whereas the bitter cup of true Tragedy is mingled with some sweet consolatory drops, which endear our tears, and we continue to contemplate the interesting delusion with a delight which it is not easy to explain.


Has not this been explained by Lucretius, where he describes a shipwreck; and says, the Spectators receive pleasure from feeling themselves safe on land? and by Akenside, in his beautiful poem on the Pleasures of Imagination, who ascribes it to our finding objects for the due exertion of our passions?


We must not confound our sensations at the contemplation of real misery with those which we experience at the scenical repre­sentations of tragedy. The spectators of a shipwreck may be at­tracted by the dignity and novelty of the object; and from these may be said to receive pleasure; but not from the distress of the suf­ferers. An ingenious writer, who has criticised this dialogue in the English Review for August, 1789, adds, that one great source of our pleasure from scenical distress arises from our, at the same time, generally contemplating one of the noblest objects of nature, that [Page 96] of Virtue triumphant over every difficulty and oppression, or support­ing its votary under every suffering: or, where this does not occur, that our minds are relieved by the justice of some signal punishment awaiting the delinquent. But, besides this, at the exhibition of a good tragedy, we are not only amused by the dignity, and novelty, and beauty, of the objects before us; but, if any distressful circumstances occur too forcible for our sensibility, we can voluntarily exert our­selves, and recollect, that the scenery is not real: and thus not only the pain, which we had received from the apparent distress, is lessened, but a new source of pleasure is opened to us, similar to that which we frequently have felt on awaking from a distressful dream; we are glad that it is not true. We are at the same time unwilling to relinquish the pleasure which we receive from the other interesting circumstances of the drama; and on that account quickly permit ourselves to relapse into the delusion; and thus alternately believe and disbelieve, almost every moment, the existence of the objects represented before us.


Have those two sovereigns of poetic land, HOMER and SHAKESPEAR, kept their works entirely free from the Horrid?— or even yourself in your third Canto?


The descriptions of the mangled carcasses of the companions of Ulysses, in the cave of Polypheme, is in this respect certainly ob­jectionable, as is well observed by Scaliger. And in the play of Titus Andronicus, if that was written by Shakespear (which from its in­ternal evidence I think very improbable), there are many horrid and disgustful circumstances. The following Canto is submitted to the candour of the critical reader, to whose opinion I shall submit in silence.


AND now the Goddess sounds her silver shell,
And shakes with deeper tones the inchanted dell;
Pale, round her grassy throne, bedew'd with tears,
Flit the thin forms of Sorrows, and of Fears;
Soft Sighs responsive whisper to the chords,5
And Indignations half-unsheath their swords.
"Thrice round the grave CIRCAEA prints her tread,60
And chaunts the numbers, which disturb the dead;
Shakes o'er the holy earth her sable plume,
Waves her dread wand, and strikes the echoing tomb!10
—Pale shoot the stars across the troubled night,
The timorous moon withholds her conscious light;
Shrill scream the famish'd bats, and shivering owls,
And loud and long the dog of midnight howls!—
[Page 99]—Then yawns the bursting ground!—two imps obscene
Rise on broad wings, and hail the baleful queen;
Each with dire grin salutes the potent wand,
And leads the sorceress with his sooty hand;
Onward they glide, where sheds the sickly yew
O'er many a mouldering bone its nightly dew; 20
The ponderous portals of the church unbar,—
Hoarse on their hinge the ponderous portals jar;
As through the colour'd glass the moon-beam falls,
Huge shapeless spectres quiver on the walls;
Low murmurs creep along the hollow ground,25
And to each step the pealing ailes resound;
By glimmering lamps, protecting saints among,
The shrines all tremble as they pass along,
O'er the still choir with hideous laugh they move,
(Fiends yell below, and angels weep above!)30
Their impious march to God's high altar bend,
With feet impure the sacred steps ascend;
With wine unbless'd the holy chalice stain,
Assume the mitre, and the cope profane;
[Page 100] To heaven their eyes in mock devotion throw,35
And to the cross with horrid mummery bow;
Adjure by mimic rites the powers above,
And plite alternate their Satanic love.
Avaunt, ye Vulgar! from her sacred groves
With maniac step the Pythian LAURA moves;61 40
Full of the God her labouring bosom sighs,
Foam on her lips, and fury in her eyes,
Strong writhe her limbs, her wild dishevell'd hair
Starts from her laurel-wreath, and swims in air.—
While twenty Priests the gorgeous shrine surround 45
Cinctur'd with ephods, and with garlands crown'd,
[Page 101]Contending hosts and trembling nations wait
The firm immutable behests of Fate;
—She speaks in thunder from her golden throne
With words unwill'd, and wisdom not her own.50
So on his NIGHTMARE through the evening fog
Flits the squab Fiend o'er fen, and lake, and bog;
Seeks some love-wilder'd Maid with sleep oppress'd,
Alights, and grinning sits upon her breast.
—Such as of late amid the murky sky 55
Was mark'd by FUSELI's poetic eye;
Whose daring tints, with SHAKESPEAR's happiest grace,
Gave to the airy phantom form and place—
Back o'er her pillow sinks her blushing head,
Her snow-white limbs hang helpless from the bed; 60
While with quick sighs, and suffocative breath,
Her interrupted heart-pulse swims in death.
—Then shrieks of captured towns, and widows' tears,
Pale lovers stretch'd upon their blood-stain'd biers,
The headlong precipice that thwarts her flight,65
The trackless desert, the cold starless night,
[Page 102]And stern-eye'd Murderer with his knife behind,
In dread succession agonize her mind.
O'er her fair limbs convulsive tremors fleet,
Start in her hands, and struggle in her feet; 70
In vain to scream with quivering lips she tries,
And strains in palsy'd lids her tremulous eyes;
In vain she wills to run, fly, swim, walk, creep;
The WILL presides not in the bower of SLEEP.62
—On her fair bosom sits the Demon-Ape 75
Erect, and balances his bloated shape;
[Page 103]Rolls in their marble orbs his Gorgon-eyes,
And drinks with leathern ears her tender cries.
Arm'd with her ivory beak, and talon-hands,
Descending FICA dives into the sands;63 80
Chamber'd in earth with cold oblivion lies;
Nor heeds, ye Suitor-train, your amorous sighs;
Erewhile with renovated beauty blooms,
Mounts into air, and moves her leafy plumes.
—Where HAMPS and MANIFOLD, their cliffs among,85
Each in his flinty channel winds along;
With lucid lines the dusky Moor divides,
Hurrying to intermix their sister tides.
[Page 104]Where still their silver-bosom'd Nymphs abhor,
The blood-smear'd mansion of gigantic THOR,—64 90
—Erst, fires volcanic in the marble womb
Of cloud-wrapp'd WETTON raised the massy dome;
Rocks rear'd on rocks in huge disjointed piles
Form the tall turrets, and the lengthen'd ailes;
[Page 105]Broad ponderous piers sustain the roof, and wide 95
Branch the vast rain-bow ribs from side to side.
While from above descends in milky streams
One scanty pencil of illusive beams,
Suspended crags and gaping gulphs illumes,
And gilds the horrors of the deepen'd glooms.100
—Here oft the Naiads, as they chanced to play
Near the dread Fane on THOR's returning day,
Saw from red altars streams of guiltless blood
Stain their green reed-beds, and pollute their flood;
Heard dying babes in wicker prisons wail,105
And shrieks of matrons thrill the affrighted Gale;
While from dark caves infernal Echoes mock,
And Fiends triumphant shout from every rock!
So still the Nymphs emerging lift in air
Their snow-white shoulders and their azure hair; 110
Sail with sweet grace the dimpling streams along,
Listening the Shepherd's or the Miner's song;
But, when afar they view the giant-cave,
On timorous fins they circle on the wave,
[Page 106]With streaming eyes and throbbing hearts recoil,115
Plunge their fair forms, and dive beneath the soil.—
Closed round their heads reluctant eddies sink,
And wider rings successive dash the brink.—
Three thousand steps in sparry clefts they stray,
Or seek through sullen mines their gloomy way; 120
On beds of Lava sleep in coral cells,
Or sigh o'er jasper fish, and agate shells.
Till, where famed ILAM leads his boiling floods
Through flowery meadows and impending woods,
Pleased with light spring they leave the dreary night,125
And 'mid circumfluent surges rise to light;
Shake their bright locks, the widening vale pursue,
Their sea-green mantles fringed with pearly dew;
In playful groups by towering THORP they move,
Bound o'er the foaming wears, and rush into the Dove.130
With fierce distracted eye IMPATIENS stands,65
Swells her pale cheeks, and brandishes her hands,
[Page 107]With rage and hate the astonish'd groves alarms,
And hurls her infants from her frantic arms.
—So when MEDAEA left her native soil 135
Unaw'd by danger, unsubdued by toil;
Her weeping sire and beckoning friends withstood,
And launch'd enamour'd on the boiling flood;
One ruddy boy her gentle lips caress'd,
And one fair girl was pillow'd on her breast 140
[Page 108]While high in air the golden treasure burns,
And Love and Glory guide the prow by turns.
But, when Thessalia's inauspicious plain
Received the matron-heroine from the main;
While horns of triumph found, and altars burn,145
And shouting nations hail their Chief's return;
Aghast, She saw new deck'd the nuptial bed,
And proud CREUSA to the temple led;
Saw her in JASON's mercenary arms
Deride her virtues, and insult her charms; 150
Saw her dear babes from fame and empire torn,
In foreign realms deserted and forlorn;
Her love rejected, and her vengeance braved,
By Him her beauties won, her virtues saved.—
With stern regard she eyed the traitor-king,155
And felt, Ingratitude! thy keenest sting;
"Nor Heaven," She cried, "nor Earth, nor Hell can hold
"A Heart abandon'd to the thirst of Gold!"
Stamp'd with wild foot, and shook her horrent brow,
And call'd the furies from their dens below.160
[Page 109]—Slow out of earth, before the festive crowds,
On wheels of fire, amid a night of clouds,
Drawn by fierce fiends arose a magic car,
Received the Queen, and hovering flamed in air.—
As with raised hands the suppliant traitors kneel 165
And fear the vengeance they deserve to feel,
Thrice with parch'd lips her guiltless babes she presr'd,
And thrice she clasp'd them to her tortur'd breast;
Awhile with white uplifted eyes she stood,
Then plung'd her trembling poniards in their blood.170
"Go, kiss your sire! go, share the bridal mirth!"
She cry'd, and hurl'd their quivering limbs on earth.
Rebellowing thunders rock the marble towers,
And red-tongued lightnings shoot their arrowy showers;
Earth yawns!—the crashing ruin sinks!—o'er all 175
Death with black hands extends his mighty Pall;
Their mingling gore the Fiends of Vengeance quaff,
And Hell receives them with convulsive laugh.
Round the vex'd isles where fierce tornados roar,
Or tropic breezes sooth the sultry shore; 180
[Page 110]What time the eve her gauze pellucid spreads
O'er the dim flowers, and veils the misty meads;
Slow, o'er the twilight sands or leafy walks,
With gloomy dignity DICTAMNA stalks;66
[Page 111]In sulphurous eddies round the weird dame 185
Plays the light gas, or kindles into flame.
If rests the traveller his weary head,
Grim MANCINELLA haunts the mossy bed,67
Brews her black hebenon, and, stealing near.
Pours the curst venom in his tortured ear.— 190
Wide o'er the mad'ning throng URTICA slings68
Her barbed shafts, and darts her poison'd stings.
[Page 112]And fell LOBELIA's suffocating breath69
Loads the dank pinion of the gale with death.
—With fear and hate they blast the affrighted groves,195
Yet own with tender care their kindred Loves!
So, where PALMIRA 'mid her wasted plains,70
Her shatter'd aqueducts, and prostrate fanes,
[Page 113](As the bright orb of breezy midnight pours
Long threads of silver through her gaping towers,200
O'er mouldering tombs, and tottering columns gleams,
And frosts her deserts with diffusive beams),
Sad o'er the mighty wreck in silence bends,
Lifts her wet eyes, her tremulous hands extends.—
If from lone cliffs a bursting rill expands 205
Its transient course, and sinks into the sands;
O'er the moist rock the fell Hyaena prowls,
The Leopard hisses, and the Panther growls;
On quivering wing the famish'd Vulture screams,210
Dips his dry beak, and sweeps the gushing streams;
With foamy jaws, beneath, and sanguine tongue,
Laps the lean Wolf, and pants, and runs along;
Stern stalks the Lion, on the rustling brinks
Hears the dread Snake, and trembles as he drinks;
Quick darts the scaly Monster o'er the plain,215
Fold after fold, his undulating train;
[Page 114]And, bending o'er the lake his crested brow,
Starts at the Crocodile, that gapes below.
Where seas of glass with gay reflections smile
Round the green coasts of Java's palmy isle; 220
A spacious plain extends its upland scene,
Rocks rise on rocks, and fountains gush between;
Soft zephyrs blow, eternal summers reign,
And showers prolific bless the soil,—in vain!
—No spicy nutmeg scents the vernal gales,225
Nor towering plaintain shades the mid-day vales;
No grassy mantle hides the fable hills,
No flowery chaplet crowns the trickling rills;
Nor tufted moss, nor leathery lichen creeps
In russet tapestry o'er the crumbling steeps.230
—No step retreating, on the sand impress'd,
Invites the visit of a second guest;
No refluent fin the unpeopled stream divides,
No revolant pinion cleaves the airy tides;
[Page 115]Nor handed moles, nor beaked worms return,235
That mining pass the irremeable bourn.—
Fierce in dread silence on the blasted heath
Fell UPAS sits, the HYDRA-TREE of death.71
Lo! from one root, the envenom'd soil below,
A thousand vegetative serpents grow; 240
In shining rays the scaly monster spreads
O'er ten square leagues his far-diverging heads;
Or in one trunk entwists his tangled form,
Looks o'er the clouds, and hisses in the storm.
[Page 116]Steep'd in fell poison, as his sharp teeth part,245
A thousand tongues in quick vibration dart;
Snatch the proud Eagle towering o'er the heath,
Or pounce the Lion, as he stalks beneath;
Or strew, as marshall'd hosts contend in vain,
With human skeletons the whiten'd plain.250
—Chain'd at his root two scion-demons dwell,
Breathe the faint hiss, or try the shriller yell;
Rise, fluttering in the air on callow wings,
And aim at insect-prey their little stings.
So Time's strong arms with sweeping scythe erase 255
Art's cumberous works, and empires, from their base;
While each young Hour its sickle fine employs,
And crops the sweet buds of domestic joys!
With blushes bright as morn fair ORCHIS charms,72
And lulls her infant in her fondling arms; 260
[Page 117]Soft plays Affection round her bosom's throne,
And guards his life, forgetful of her own.
So wings the wounded Deer her headlong flight,
Pierced by some ambush'd archer of the night,
Shoots to the woodlands with her bounding fawn,265
And drops of blood bedew the conscious lawn;
There hid in shades she shuns the cheerful day,
Hangs o'er her young, and weeps her life away.
So stood Eliza on the wood-crown'd height,
O'er Minden's plain, spectatress of the fight,270
Sought with bold eye amid the bloody strife
Her dearer self, the partner of her life;
From hill to hill the rushing host pursued,
And view'd his banner, or believed she view'd.
Pleased with the distant roar, with quicker tread 275
Fast by his hand one lisping boy she led;
And one fair girl amid the loud alarm
Slept on her kerchief, cradled by her arm;
While round her brows bright beams of Honour dart,
And Love's warm eddies circle round her heart.280
[Page 119]—Near and more near the intrepid Beauty press'd,
Saw through the driving smoke his dancing crest,
Heard the exulting shout, "they run! they run!"
"Great GOD!" she cried, "He's safe! the battle's won!"
—A ball now hisses through the airy tides,285
(Some Fury wing'd it, and some Demon guides!)
Parts the fine locks, her graceful head that deck,
Wounds her fair ear, and sinks into her neck;
The red stream, issuing from her azure veins,
Dyes her white veil, her ivory bosom stains.— 290
—"Ah me!" she cried, and, sinking on the ground,
Kiss'd her dear babes, regardless of the wound;
"Oh, cease not yet to beat, thou Vital Urn!
"Wait, gushing Life, oh, wait my Love's return!—
"Hoarse barks the wolf, the vulture screams from far!
"The angel, Pity, shuns the walks of war!— 296
"Oh, spare ye War-hounds, spare their tender age!—
"On me, on me," she cried, "exhaust your rage!"—
Then with weak arms her weeping babes caress'd,
And sighing bid them in her blood-stain'd vest.300
From tent to tent the impatient warrior flies,
Fear in his heart, and frenzy in his eyes;
Eliza's name along the camp he calls,
Eliza echoes through the canvas walls;
Quick through the murmuring gloom his footsteps tread,
O'er groaning heaps, the dying and the dead,306
Vault o'er the plain, and in the tangled wood,
Lo! dead Eliza weltering in her blood!—
—Soon hears his listening son the welcome sounds,
With open arms and sparkling eyes he bounds:— 310
"Speak low," he cries, and gives his little hand,
"Eliza sleeps upon the dew-cold sand;
"Poor weeping Babe with bloody fingers press'd,
"And tried with pouting lips her milkless breast;
"Alas! we both with cold and hunger quake— 315
"Why do you weep?—Mama will soon awake."
—"She'll wake no more!" the hopeless mourner cried,
Upturn'd his eyes, and clasp'd his hands, and sigh'd;
[Page 121]Stretch'd on the ground awhile entranc'd he lay,
And pres'd warm kisses on the lifeless clay; 320
And then unsprung with wild convulsive start,
And all the Father kindled in his heart;
"Oh, Heavens!" he cried, "my first rash vow forgive!
These bind to earth, for these I pray to live!"—
Round his chill babes he wrapp'd his crimson vest,325
And clasp'd them sobbing to his aching breast.
Two Harlot-Nymphs, the fair CUSCUTAS, please73
With labour'd negligence, and studied ease;
[Page 122]In the meek garb of modest worth disguised,
The eye averted, and the smile chastised,330
With sly approach they spread their dangerous charms,
And round their victim wind their wiry arms.
So by Scamander when LAOCOON stood,
Where Troy's proud turrets glitter'd in the flood,
Raised high his arm, and with prophetic call 335
To shrinking realms announced her fatal fall;
Whirl'd his fierce spear with more than mortal force,
And pierced the thick ribs of the echoing horse;
[Page 123]Two Serpent-forms incumbent on the main,
Lashing the white waves with redundant train,340
Arch'd their blue necks, and shook their towering crests,
And plough'd their foamy way with speckled breasts;
Then darting fierce amid the affrighted throngs,
Roll'd their red eyes, and shot their forked tongues.—
—Two daring Youths to guard the hoary sire 345
Thwart their dread progress, and provoke their ire.
Round fire and sons the scaly monsters roll'd,
Ring above ring, in many a tangled fold,
Close and more close their writhing limbs surround,
And fix with foamy teeth the envenom'd wound.350
—With brow upturn'd to heaven the holy Sage
In silent agony sustains their rage;
While each fond Youth, in vain, with piercing cries
Bends on the tortured Sire his dying eyes.
"Drink deep, sweet youths," seductive VITIS cries,74 355
The maudlin tear-drop glittering in her eyes;
Green leaves and purple clusters crown her head,
And the tall Thyrsus stays her tottering tread.
Five hapless swains with soft assuasive smiles
The harlot meshes in her deathful toils; 360
"Drink deep," she carols, as she waves in air
The mantling goblet, "and forget your care."—
O'er the dread feast malignant Chemia scowls,
And mingles poison in the nectar'd bowls;
Fell Gout peeps grinning through the flimsy scene,365
And bloated Dropsy pants behind unseen;
Wrapp'd in his robe white Lepra hides his stains,
And silent Frenzy writhing bites his chains.
So when PROMETHEUS braved the Thunderer's ire,75
Stole from his blazing throne etherial fire,370
And, lantern'd in his breast, from realms of day
Bore the bright treasure to his Man of clay;—
High on cold Caucasus by VULCAN bound,
The lean impatient Vulture fluttering round,
His writhing limbs in vain he twists and strains 375
To break or loose the adamantine chains.
The gluttonous bird, exulting in his pangs,
Tears his swoln liver with remorseless fangs.
The gentle CYCLAMEN with dewy eye76
Breathes o'er her lifeless babe the parting sigh; 380
And, bending low to earth, with pious hands
Inhumes her dear Departed in the sands.
"Sweet Nursling! withering in thy tender hour,
Oh, sleep," She cries, "and rise a fairer flower!"
—So when the Plague o'er London's gasping crowds 385
Shook her dank wing, and steer'd her murky clouds;
When o'er the friendless bier no rites were read,
No dirge slow-chanted, and no pall out-spread;
While Death and Night piled up the naked throng,
And Silence drove their ebon cars along; 390
Six lovely daughters, and their father, swept
To the throng'd grave CLEONE saw, and wept;
[Page 127]Her tender mind, with meek Religion fraught,
Drank all-resigned Affliction's bitter draught;
Alive and listening to the whisper'd groan 395
Of others' woes, unconscious of her own!—
One smiling boy, her last sweet hope, she warms
Hushed on her bosom, circled in her arms,—
Daughter of woe! ere morn, in vain caress'd,
Clung the cold Babe upon thy milkless breast,400
With feeble cries thy last sad aid required,
Stretch'd its stiff limbs, and on thy lap expired!—
—Long with wide eye-lids on her Child she gazed,
And long to heaven their tearless orbs she raised;
Then with quick foot and throbbing heart she found 405
Where Chartreuse open'd deep his holy ground;77
[Page 128]Bore her last treasure through the midnight gloom,
And kneeling dropp'd it in the mighty tomb;
"I follow next!" the frantic mourner said,
And living plunged amid the festering dead.410
Where vast Ontario rolls his brineless tides,78
And feeds the trackless forests on his sides,
Fair CASSIA trembling hears the howling woods,79
And trusts her tawny children to the floods.—
[Page 129]Cinctured with gold while ten fond brothers stand,415
And guard the beauty on her native land,
[Page 130]Soft breathes the gale, the current gently moves,
And bears to Norway's coasts her infant-loves.
—So the sad mother at the noon of night
From bloody Memphis stole her silent flight; 420
Wrapp'd her dear babe beneath her folded vest,
And clasp'd the treasure to her throbbing breast,
With soothing whispers hushed its feeble cry,
Pressed the soft kiss, and breathed the secret sigh.—
—With dauntless step she seeks the winding shore,425
Hears unappall'd the glimmering torrents roar;
With Paper-flags a floating cradle weaves,
And hides the smiling boy in Lotus-leaves;
Gives her white bosom to his eager lips,
The salt tears mingling with the milk he sips; 430
Waits on the reed-crown'd brink with pious guile,
And trusts the scaly monsters of the Nile.—
[Page 131]—Erewhile majestic from his lone abode,
Embassador of Heaven, the Prophet trod;
Wrench'd the red Scourge from proud Oppression's hands,
And broke, curst Slavery! thy iron bands.436
Hark! heard ye not that piercing cry,
Which shook the waves and rent the sky!—
E'en now, e'en now, on yonder Western shores
Weeps pale Despair, and writhing Anguish roars:440
E'en now in Afric's groves with hideous yell
Fierce SLAVERY stalks, and slips the dogs of hell;
From vale to vale the gathering cries rebound,
And sable nations tremble at the sound!—
—YE BANDS OF SENATORS! whose suffrage sways 445
Britannia's realms, whom either Ind obeys;
Who right the injured, and reward the brave,
Stretch your strong arm, for ye have power to save!
Throned in the vaulted heart, his dread resort,
Inexorable CONSCIENCE holds his court.450
[Page 132]With still small voice the plots of Guilt alarms,
Bares his mask'd brow, his lifted hand disarms;
But, wrapp'd in night with terrors all his own,
He speaks in thunder, when the deed is done.
Hear him, ye Senates! hear this truth sublime,455
No radiant pearl, which crested Fortune wears,
No gem, that twinkling hangs from Beauty's ears,
Not the bright stars, which Night's blue arch adorn,
Nor rising suns that gild the vernal morn,460
Shine with such lustre as the tear, that breaks
For other's woe down Virtue's manly cheeks."
Here ceased the MUSE, and dropp'd her tuneful shell,
Tumultuous woes her panting bosom swell,
O'er her flush'd cheek her gauzy veil she throws,465
Folds her white arms, and bends her laurel'd brows;
For human guilt awhile the Goddess sighs,
And human sorrows dim celestial eyes.



POETRY has been called a sister-art both to Painting and to Music; I wish to know, what are the particulars of their relationship?


It has been already observed, that the principal part of the language of poetry consists of those words, which are expressive of the ideas, which we originally receive by the organ of sight; and in this it nearly indeed resembles painting; which can express itself in no other way, but by exciting the ideas or sensations belonging to the sense of vision. But besides this essential similitude in the language of the poetic pen and pencil, these two sisters resemble each other, if I may so say, in many of their habits and manners. The painter, to produce a strong effect, makes a few parts of his picture large, distinct, and luminous, and keeps the remainder in shadow, or even beneath its natural size and colour, to give emi­nence to the principal figure. This is similar to the common [Page 134] manner of poetic composition, where the subordinate characters are kept down, to elevate and give consequence to the hero or heroine of the piece.

In the south aile of the cathedral church at Lichfield, there is an antient monument of a recumbent figure; the head and neck of which lie on a roll of matting in a kind of niche or cavern in the wall; and about five feet distant horizontally in another opening or cavern in the wall are seen the feet and ankles, with some folds of garment, lying also on a matt; and though the intermediate space is a solid stone-wall, yet the imagination supplies the deficiency, and the whole figure seems to exist before our eyes. Does not this re­semble one of the arts both of the painter and the poet? The former often shows a mulcular arm amidst a group of figures, or an im­passioned face; and, hiding the remainder of the body behind other objects, leaves the imagination to compleat it. The latter, describing a single feature or attitude in picturesque words, produces before the mind an image of the whole.

I remember seeing a print, in which was represented a shrivelled hand stretched through an iron grate, in the stone floor of a prison­yard, to reach at a mess of porrage, which affected me with more horrid ideas of the distress of the prisoner in the dungeon below, than could have been perhaps produced by an exhibition of the whole person. And in the following beautiful scenery from the Midsummer-night's dream, (in which I have taken the liberty to alter the place of a comma), the description of the swimming step and prominent belly bring the whole figure before our eyes with the distinctness of reality.

When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive,
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
[Page 135]
Which she with pretty and with swimming gate,
Following her womb, (then rich with my young squire),
Would imitate, and sail upon the land.

There is a third sister-feature, which belongs both to the pictorial and poetic art; and that is the making sentiments and passions visible, as it were, to the spectator; this is done in both arts by describing or portraying the effects or changes which those sentiments or passions produce upon the body. At the end of the unaltered play of Lear, there is a beautiful example of poetic painting; the old King is introduced as dying from grief for the loss of Cordelia; at this crisis, Shakespear, conceiving the robe of the king to be held together by a clasp, represents him as only saying to an attendant courtier in a faint voice, "Pray, Sir, undo this button,—thank you, Sir," and dies. Thus by the art of the poet, the oppression at the bosom of the dying King is made visible, not described in words.


What are the features, in which these Sister-arts do not re­semble each other?


The ingenious Bishop Berkeley, in his Treatise on Vision, a work of great ability, has evinced, that the colours, which we see, are only a language suggesting to our minds the ideas of solidity and extension, which we had before received by the sense of touch. Thus when we view the trunk of a tree, our eye can only acquaint us with the colours or shades; and from the previous experience of the sense of touch, these suggest to us the cylindrical form, with the prominent or depressed wrinkles on it. From hence it appears, that [Page 136] there is the strictest analogy between colours and sounds; as they are both but languages, which do not represent their correspondent ideas, but only suggest them to the mind from the habits or associ­ations of previous experience. It is therefore reasonable to conclude, that the more artificial arrangements of these two languages by the poet and the painter bear a similar analogy.

But in one circumstance the Pen and the Pencil differ widely from each other, and that is the quantity of Time which they can in­clude in their respective representations. The former can unravel a long series of events, which may constitute the history of days or years; while the latter can exhibit only the actions of a moment. The Poet is happier in describing successive scenes; the Painter in representing stationary ones: both have their advantages.

Where the passions are introduced, as the Poet, on one hand, has the power gradually to prepare the mind of his reader by previous climacteric circumstances; the Painter, on the other hand, can throw stronger illumination and distinctness on the principal moment or catastrophe of the action; besides the advantage he has in using an universal language, which can be read in an instant of time. Thus where a great number of figures are all seen together, supporting or contrasting each other, and contributing to explain or aggrandize the principal effect, we view a picture with agreeable surprize, and contemplate it with unceasing admiration. In the representation of the sacrifice of Jephtha's Daughter, a print done from a painting of Ant. Coypel, at one glance of the eye we read all the interesting passages of the last act of a well-written tragedy; so much poetry is there condensed into a moment of time.


Will you now oblige me with an account of the relationship between Poetry, and her other sister, Music?

[Page 137]

In the poetry of our language I don't think we are to look for any thing analogous to the notes of the gamut; for, except perhaps in a few exclamations or interrogations, we are at liberty to raise or sink our voice an octave or two at pleasure, without altering the sense of the words. Hence, if either poetry or prose be read in me­lodious tones of voice, as is done in recitativo, or in chaunting, it must depend on the speaker, not on the writer: for though words may be selected which are less harsh than others, that is, which have fewer sudden stops or abrupt consonants amongst the vowels, or with fewer sibilant letters, yet this does not constitute melody, which consists of agreeable successions of notes referrable to the gamut; or harmony, which consists of agreeable combinations of them. If the Chinese language has many words of similar articula­tion, which yet signify different ideas, when spoken in a higher or lower musical note, as some travellers affirm, it must be capable of much finer effect, in respect to the audible part of poetry, than any language we are acquainted with.

There is however another affinity, in which poetry and music more nearly resemble each other than has generally been understood, and that is in their measure or time. There are but two kinds of time acknowledged in modern music, which are called triple time, and common time. The former of these is divided by bars, each bar containing three crotchets, or a proportional number of their subdivisions into quavers and semiquavers. This kind of time is analogous to the measure of our heroic or iambic verse. Thus the two following couplets are each of them divided into five bars of triple time, each bar consisting of two crotchets and two quavers; nor can they be divided into bars analogous to common time without the bars interfering with some of the crotchets, so as to divide them.

3/4 Soft-warbling beaks | in each bright blos | som move,
And vo | cal rosebuds thrill | the inchanted grove, |

[Page 138] In these lines there is a quaver and a crochet alternately in every bar, except in the last, in which the in make two semiquavers; the e is supposed by Grammarians to be cut off, which any one's ear will readily determine not to be true.

3/4 Life buds or breathes | from Indus to | the poles,
And the | vast surface kind | les, as it rolls. |

In these lines there is a quaver and a crotchet alternately in the sirst bar; a quaver, two crotchets, and a quaver, make the second bar. In the third bar there is a quaver, a crotchet, and a rest after the crotchet, that is, after the word poles, and two quavers begin the next line. The fourth bar consists of quavers and crotchets alter­nately. In the last bar there is a quaver, and a rest after it, viz. after the word kindles; and then two quavers and a crotchet. You will clearly perceive the truth of this, if you prick the musical cha­racters above mentioned under the verses.

The common time of musicians is divided into bars, each of which contains four crotchets, or a proportional number of their subdivision into quavers and semiquavers. This kind of musical time is analo­gous to the dactyle verses of our language, the most popular instances of which are in Mr. Anstie's Bath-Guide. In this kind of verse the bar does not begin till after the first or second syllable; and where the verse is quite complete, and written by a good ear, these first syl­lables added to the last complete the bar, exactly in this also corre­sponding with many pieces of music;

2/4 Yet | if one may guess by the | size of his calf, Sir,
He | weighs about twenty-three | stone and a half, Sir.

2/4 Master | Mamozet's head was not | finished so soon,
For it | took up the barber a | whole afternoon.

[Page 139] In these lines each bar consists of a crotchet, two quavers, another crotchet, and two more quavers: which are equal to four crotchets, and, like many bars of common time in music, may be subdivided into two in beating time without disturbing the measure.

The following verses from Shenstone belong likewise to common time:

2/4 A | river or a sea |
Was to him a dish | of tea,
And a king | dom bread and butter.

The first and second bars consist each of a crotchet, a quaver, a crotchet, a quaver, a crotchet. The third bar consists of a quaver, two crotchets, a quaver, a crotchet. The last bar is not complete without adding the letter A, which begins the first line, and then it consists of a quaver, a crotchet, a quaver, a crotchet, two quavers.

It must be observed, that the crotchets in triple time are in general played by musicians slower than those of common time, and hence minuets are generally pricked in triple time, and country dances ge­nerally in common time. So the verses above related, which are analogous to triple time, are generally read slower than those analo­gous to common time; and are thence generally used for graver com­positions. I suppose all the different kinds of verses to be found in our odes, which have any measure at all, might be arranged [...] one or other of these two musical times; allowing a note or [...] sometimes to precede the commencement of the bar, and occasional rests, as in musical compositions: if this was attended to by those who set poetry to music, it is probable the sound and sense would oftener coincide. Whether these musical times can be applied to the lyric and heroic verses of the Greek and Latin poets, I do not pre­tend to determine; certain it is, that the dactyle verse of our lan­guage, when it is ended with a double rhime, much resembles the measure of Homer and Virgil, except in the length of the lines.

[Page 140]

Then there is no relationship between the other two of these sister-ladies, Painting and Music?


There is at least a mathematical relationship, or perhaps I ought rather to have said a metaphysical relationship between them. Sir Isaac Newton has observed, that the breadths of the seven primary colours in the Sun's image refracted by a prism are proportional to the seven musical notes of the gamut, or to the intervals of the eight sounds contained in an octave, that is, proportional to the following numbers:

Red.Orange.Yellow.Green.Blue.Indigo. Violet. 
1/91/161/10 1/91/161/161/9  

Newton's Optics, Book I, part 2. prop. 3 and 6. Dr. Smith, in his Harmonics, has an explanatory note upon this happy discovery, as he terms it, of Newton. Sect. 4. Art. 7.

From this curious coincidence, it has been proposed to produce a luminous music, consisting of successions or combinations of colours, analogous to a tune in respect to the proportions above mentioned. This might be performed by a strong light, made by means of Mr. Argand's lamps, passing through coloured glasses, and falling on a defined part of a wall, with moveable blinds before them, which might communicate with the keys of a harpsichord; and thus pro­duce at the same time visible and audible music in unison with each other.

The execution of this idea is said by Mr. Guyot to have been at­tempted by Father Caffel without much success.

[Page 141] If this should be again attempted, there is another curious coinci­dence between sounds and colours, discovered by Dr. Darwin of Shrewsbury, and explained in a paper on what he calls Ocular Spectra, in the Philosophical Transactions, Vol. LXXVI. which might much facilitate the execution of it. In this treatise the Doctor has demon­strated, that we see certain colours, not only with greater ease and distinctness, but with relief and pleasure, after having for some time contemplated other certain colours; as green after red, or red after green; orange after blue, or blue after orange; yellow after violet, or violet after yellow. This he shews arises from the ocular spectrum of the colour last viewed coinciding with the irritation of the colour now under contemplation. Now as the pleasure we receive from the sensation of melodious notes, independent of the previous asso­ciations of agreeable ideas with them, must arise from our hearing some proportions of sounds after others more easily, distinctly, or agreeably; and as there is a coincidence between the proportions of the primary colours, and the primary sounds, if they may be so called; he argues, that the same laws must govern the sensations of both. In this circumstance, therefore, consists the sisterhood of Music and Painting; and hence they claim a right to borrow metaphors from each other; musicians to speak of the brilliancy of sounds, and the light and shade of a concerto; and painters of the harmony of colours, and the tone of a picture. Thus it was not quite so ab­surd, as was imagined, when the blind man asked if the colour scarlet was like the sound of a trumpet. As the coincidence or op­position of these ocular spectra, (or colours which remain in the eye after having for some time contemplated a luminous object) are more easily and more accurately ascertained, now their laws have been investigated by Dr. Darwin, than the relicts of evanescent sounds upon the ear; it is to be wished that some ingenious musician would further cultivate this curious field of science: for if visible music can be agreeably produced, it would be more easy to add sentiment to it by the representations of groves and Cupids, and sleeping [Page 142] nymphs amid the changing colours, than is commonly done by the words of audible music.


You mentioned the greater length of the verses of Homer and Virgil. Had not these poets great advantage in the superiority of their languages compared to our own?


It is probable, that the introduction of philosophy into a country must gradually affect the language of it; as philosophy con­verses in more appropriated and abstracted terms; and thus by de­grees eradicates the abundance of metaphor, which is used in the more early ages of society. Otherwise, though the Greek compound words have more vowels in proportion to their consonants than the English ones, yet the modes of compounding them are less general; as may be seen by variety of instances given in the preface of the Translators, prefixed to the SYSTEM OF VEGETABLES by the Lich­field Society; which happy property of our own language rendered that translation of Linneus as expressive and as concise, perhaps more so than the original.

And in one respect, I believe, the Engish language serves the pur­pose of poetry better than the antient ones, I mean in the greater ease of producing personifications; for as our nouns have in general no genders affixed to them in prose-compositions, and in the habits of conversation, they become easily personified only by the addition of a masculine or feminine pronoun, as,

Pale Melancholy sits, and round her throws
A death-like silence, and a dread repose.
Pope's Abelard.

[Page 143] And secondly, as most of our nouns have the article a or the prefixed to them in prose-writing and in conversation, they in general become personisied even by the omission of these articles; as in the bold figure of Shipwreck in Miss Seward's Elegy on Capt. Cook:

But round the steepy rocks and dangerous strand
Rolls the white surf, and SHIPWRECK guards the land.

Add to this, that if the verses in our heroic poetry be shorter than those of the ancients, our words likewise are shorter; and in respect to their measure or time, which has erroneously been called melody and harmony, I doubt, from what has been said above, whether we are so much inferior as is generally believed;since many passages, which have been stolen from antient poets, have been translated into our language without losing any thing of the beauty of the ver­sification.


I am glad to hear you acknowledge the thefts of the modern poets from the antient ones, whose works I suppose have been reckoned lawful plunder in all ages. But have not you borrowed epithets, phrases, and even half a line occasionally from modern poems?


It may be difficult to mark the exact boundary of what should be termed plagiarism: where the sentiment and expression are both borrowed without due acknowledgement, there can be no doubt;— single words, on the contrary, taken from other authors, cannot con­vict a writer of plagiarism; they are lawful game, wild by nature, the property of all who can capture them;—and perhaps a few common flowers of speech may be gathered, as we pass over our [Page 144] neighbour's inclosure, without stigmatizing us with the title of thieves; but we must not therefore plunder his cultivated fruit.

The four lines at the end of the plant Upas are imitated from Dr. Young's Night Thoughts. The line in the episode adjoined to Cassia, "The salt tear mingling with the milk he sips," is from an interest­ing and humane passage in Langhorne's Justice of Peace. There are probably many others, which, if I could recollect them, should here be acknowledged. As it is, like exotic plants, their mixture with the natives ones, I hope, adds beauty to my Botanic Garden:—and such as it is, Mr. Bookseller, I now leave it to you to desire the Ladies and Gentlemen to walk in; but please to apprize them, that, like the spectators at an unskilful exhibition in some village-barn, I hope they will make Good-humour one of their party; and thus their­selves supply the defects of the representation.


NOW the broad Sun his golden orb unshrouds,
Flames in the west, and paints the parted clouds;
O'er heaven's wide arch refracted lustres flow,
And bend in air the many-colour'd bow.—
—The tuneful Goddess on the glowing sky 5
Fix'd in mute extacy her glistening eye;
[Page 146]And then her lute to sweeter tones she strung,
And swell'd with softer chords the Paphian song.
Long ailes of Oaks return'd the silver sound,
And amorous Echoes talk'd along the ground; 10
Pleas'd Lichfield listen'd from her sacred bowers,
Bow'd her tall groves, and shook her stately towers.80
"Nymph! not for thee the radiant day returns,
Nymph! not for thee the golden solstice burns,
Refulgent CEREA!—at the dusky hour81 15
She seeks with pensive step the mountain-bower,
[Page 147]Bright as the blush of rising morn, and warms
The dull cold eye of Midnight with her charms.
There to the skies she lifts her pencill'd brows,
Opes her fair lips, and breathes her virgin vows; 20
Eyes the white zenyth; counts the suns, that roll
Their distant fires, and blaze around the Pole;
Or marks where Jove directs his glittering car
O'er Heaven's blue vault,—Herself a brighter star.
—There as soft Zephyrs sweep with pausing airs 25
Thy snowy neck, and part thy shadowy hairs,
Sweet Maid of Night! to Cynthia's sober beams
Glows thy warm cheek, thy polish'd bosom gleams.
In crowds around thee gaze the admiring swains,
And guard in silence the enchanted plains; 30
[Page 148]Drop the still tear, or breathe the impassion'd sigh,
And drink inebriate rapture from thine eye.
Thus, when old Needwood's hoary scenes the Night
Paints with blue shadow, and with milky light;
Where MUNDY pour'd, the listening nymphs among,82 35
Loud to the echoing vales his parting song;
With measured step the Fairy Sovereign treads,
Shakes her high plume, and glitters o'er the meads;
Round each green holly leads her sportive train,
And little footsteps mark the circled plain; 40
Each haunted rill with silver voices rings,
And Night's sweet bird in livelier accents sings.
Ere the bright star, which leads the morning sky,
Hangs o'er the blushing east his diamond eye,
The chaste TROPAEO leaves her secret bed;83 45
A saint-like glory trembles round her head;
[Page 149] Eight watchful swains along the lawns of night
With amorous steps pursue the virgin light;
O'er her fair form the electric lustre plays,
And cold she moves amid the lambent blaze.50
So shines the glow-fly, when the sun retires,
And gems the night-air with phosphoric fires;84
[Page 150]Thus o'er the marsh aërial lights betray,
And charm the unwary wanderer from his way.
So when thy King, Afsyria, fierce and proud,55
Three human victims to his idol vow'd;
Rear'd a vast pyre before the golden shrine
Of sulphurous coal, and pitch-exsuding pine;—
—Loud roar the flames, the iron nostrils breathe,
And the huge bellows pant and heave beneath; 60
Bright and more bright the blazing deluge flows,
And white with seven-fold heat the furnace glows.
And now the Monarch fix'd with dread surprize
Deep in the burning vault his dazzled eyes.
"Lo! Three unbound amid the frightful glare 65,
"Unscorch'd their sandals, and unsing'd their hair!
"And now a fourth with seraph-beauty bright
"Descends, accosts them, and outshines the light!
"Fierce flames innocuous, as they step, retire!
"And slow they move amid a world of fire!"70
He spoke,—to Heaven his arms repentant spread,
And kneeling bow'd his gem-incircled head.
Two Sister-Nymphs, the fair AVENAS, lead85
Their fleecy squadrons on the lawns of Tweed;
Pass with light step his wave-worn banks along,75
And wake his Echoes with their silver tongue;
Or touch the reed, as gentle Love inspires,
In notes accordant to their chaste desires.
"Sweet ECHO! sleeps thy vocal shell,
"Where this high arch o'erhangs the dell; 80
"While Tweed with sun-reflecting streams
"Chequers thy rocks with dancing beams?
"Here may no clamours harsh intrude,
"No brawling hound or clarion rude;
"Here no fell beast of midnight prowl,85
"And teach thy tortured cliffs to howl!
"Be thine to pour these vales along
"Some artless Shepherd's evening song;
"While Night's sweet bird, from yon high spray
"Responsive, listens to his lay 90
"And if, like me, some love-lorn maid
"Should sing her sorrows to thy shade,
"Oh, sooth her breast, ye rocks around!
"With softest sympathy of sound."
From ozier bowers the brooding Halcyons peep,95
The Swans pursuing cleave the glassy deep,
On hovering wings the wondering Reed-larks play,
And silent Bitterns listen to the lay.—
[Page 153] Three shepherd-swains beneath the beachen shades
Twine rival garlands for the tuneful maids; 100
On each smooth bark the mystic love-knot frame,
Or on white sands inscribe the favour'd name.
From Time's remotest dawn where China brings
In proud succession all her Patriot-Kings;
O'er desert-sands, deep gulfs, and hills sublime,105
Extends her massy wall from clime to clime;
With bells and dragons crests her Pagod-bowers,
Her silken palaces, and porcelain towers;
With long canals a thousand nations laves;
Plants all her wilds, and peoples all her waves; 110
Slow treads fair CANNABIS the breezy strand,86
The distaff streams dishevell'd in her hand;
[Page 154]Now to the left her ivory neck inclines,
And leads in Paphian curves its azure lines;87
Dark waves the fringed lid, the warm cheek glows,115
And the fair ear the parting locks disclose;
Now to the right with airy sweep she bends,
Quick join the threads, the dancing spole depends.
Five Swains attracted guard the Nymph, by turns
Her grace inchants them, and her beauty burns; 120
To each She bows with sweet assuasive smile,
Hears his soft vows, and turns her spole the while.
So when with light and shade, concordant strife!
Stern CLOTHO weaves the chequer'd thread of life;
Hour after hour the growing line extends,125
The cradle and the coffin bound its ends;
[Page 155]Soft cords of silk the whirling spoles reveal,
If smiling Fortune turn the giddy wheel;
But if sweet Love with baby-fingers twines,
And wets with dewy lips the lengthening lines,130
Skein after skein celestial tints unfold,
And all the silken tissue shines with gold.
Warm with sweet blushes bright GALANTHA glows,88
And prints with frolic step the melting snows;
[Page 156]O'er silent floods, white hills, and glittering meads 135
Six rival swains the playful beauty leads,
Chides with her dulcet voice the tardy Spring,
Bids slumbering Zephyr stretch his folded wing,
Wakes the hoarse Cuckoo in his gloomy cave,
And calls the wondering Dormouse from his grave,140
Bids the mute Redbreast cheer the budding grove,
And plaintive Ringdove tune her notes to love.
Spring! with thy own sweet smile, and tunesul tongue,
Delighted BELLIS calls her infant throng.89
Each on his reed astride, the Cherub-train 145
Watch her kind looks, and circle o'er the plain;
Now with young wonder touch the sliding snail,
Admire his eye-tipp'd horns, and painted mail;
Chase with quick step, and eager arms outspread,
The pausing Butterfly from mead to mead; 150
[Page 157]Or twine green oziers with the fragrant gale,90
The azure harebel, and the primrose pale,
Join hand in hand, and in procession gay
Adorn with votive wreaths the shrine of May.
—So moves the Goddess to the Idalian groves,155
And leads her gold-hair'd family of Loves.
These, from the flaming furnace, strong and bold
Pour the red steel into the sandy mould;
On tinkling anvils (with Vulcanian art),
Turn with hot tongs, and forge the dreadful dart; 160
The barbed head on whirling jaspers grind,
And dip the point in poison for the mind;
Each polish'd shaft with snow-white plumage wing,
Or strain the bow reluctant to its string.
Those on light pinion twine with busy hands,165
Or stretch from bough to bough the flowery bands;
[Page 158]Scare the dark beetle, as he wheels on high,
Or catch in silken nets the gilded fly;
Call the young Zephyrs to their fragrant bowers,
And stay with kisses sweet the Vernal Hours.170
Where, as proud Masson rises rude and bleak,
And with mishapen turrets crests the Peak,
Old Matlock gapes with marble jaws, beneath,
And o'er scar'd Derwent bends his flinty teeth;
Deep in wide caves below the dangerous soil91 175
Blue sulphurs flame, imprison'd waters boil.
[Page 159]Impetuous steams in spiral colums rise
Through rifted rocks, impatient for the skies;
Or o'er bright seas of bubbling lavas blow,
As heave and toss the billowy fires below; 180
Condensed on high, in wandering rills they glide
From Masson's dome, and burst his sparry side;
Round his grey towers, and down his fringed walls,
From cliff to cliff, the liquid treasure falls;
In beds of stalactite, bright ores among,185
O'er corals, shells, and crystals, winds along;
Crusts the green mosses, and the tangled wood,
And sparkling plunges to its parent flood.
—O'er the warm wave a smiling youth presides,
Attunes its murmurs, its meanders guides,190
[Page 160] (The blooming FUCUS), in her sparry coves92
To amorous Echo sings his secret loves,
Bathes his fair forehead in the misty stream,
And with sweet breath perfumes the rising steam,
—So, erst, an Angel o'er Bethesda's springs,195
Each morn descending, shook his dewy wings;
And as his bright tranflucent form He laves,
Salubrious powers enrich the troubled waves.
Amphibious Nymph, from Nile's prolific bed
Emerging TRAPA lifts her pearly head;93 200
Fair glows her virgin cheek and modest breast,
A panoply of scales deforms the rest;
[Page 162]Her quivering fins and panting gills she hides,
But spreads her silver arms upon the tides;
Slow as she sails, her ivory neck she laves,205
And shakes her golden tresses o'er the waves.
Charm'd round the Nymph, in circling gambols glide
Four Nereid-forms, or shoot along the tide;
Now all as one they rise with frolic spring,
And beat the wondering air on humid wing; 210
Now all descending plunge beneath the main,
And lash the foam with undulating train;
Above, below, they wheel, retreat, advance,
In air and ocean weave the mazy dance;
Bow their quick heads, and point their diamond eyes,215
And twinkle to the sun with ever-changing dyes.
Where Andes, crested with volcanic beams,
Sheds a long line of light on Plata's streams;
Opes all his springs, unlocks his golden caves,
And feeds and freights the immeasurable waves; 220
[Page 163]Delighted OCYMA at twilight hours94
Calls her light car, and leaves the sultry bowers;—
Love's rising ray, and Youth's seductive dye,
Bloom'd on her cheek, and brighten'd in her eye;
Chaste, pure, and white, a zone of silver graced 225
Her tender breast, as white, as pure, as chaste;—
[Page 164]By four fond swains in playful circles drawn,
On glowing wheels she tracks the moon-bright lawn,
Mounts the rude cliff, unveils her blushing charms,
And calls the panting zephyrs to her arms.230
Emerged from ocean springs the vaporous air,
Bathes her light limbs, uncurls her amber hair,
Incrusts her beamy form with films saline,
And Beauty blazes through the crystal shrine.—
So with pellucid studs the ice-flower gems95 235
Her rimy foliage, and her candied stems.
So from his glassy horns, and pearly eyes,
The diamond-beetle darts a thousand dyes;
Mounts with enamel'd wings the vesper gale,
And wheeling shines in adamantine mail 240
Thus when loud thunders o'er Gomorrah burst,
And heaving earthquakes shook his realms accurst,
An Angel-guest led forth the trembling Fair
With shadowy hand, and warn'd the guiltless pair;
[Page 165]"Haste from these lands of sin, ye Righteous! fly,245
"Speed the quick step, nor turn the lingering eye!"—
—Such the command, as fabling Bards indite,
When Orpheus charm'd the grisly King of Night;
Sooth'd the pale phantoms with his plaintive lay,
And led the fair Assurgent into day.— 250
Wide yawn'd the earth, the fiery tempest flash'd,
And towns and towers in one vast ruin crash'd;—
Onward they move,—loud horror roars behind,
And shrieks of Anguish bellow in the wind.
With many a sob, amid a thousand fears,255
The beauteous wanderer pours her gushing tears;
Each soft connection rends her troubled breast,
—She turns, unconscious of the stern behest!—
"I faint!—I fall!—ah, me!—sensations chill
"Shoot through my bones, my shuddering bosom thrill!
"I freeze! I freeze! just Heaven regards my fault,261
"Numbs my cold limbs, and hardens into salt!—
"Not yet, not yet, your dying Love resign!—
"This last, last kiss receive!—no longer thine!"—
[Page 166]She said, and ceased,—her stiffen'd form He press'd,265
And strain'd the briny column to his breast;
Printed with quivering lips the lifeless snow,
And wept, and gazed the monument of woe.—
So when Aeneas through the flames of Troy
Bore his pale fire, and led his lovely boy; 270
With loitering step the fair Creusa stay'd,
And Death involved her in eternal shade.—
—Oft the lone Pilgrim, that his road forsakes,
Marks the wide ruins, and the sulphur'd lakes;
On mouldering piles amid asphaltic mud 275
Hears the hoarse bittern, where Gomorrah stood;
Recalls the unhappy Pair with lifted eye,
Leans on the crystal tomb, and breathes the silent sigh.
With net-wove sash and glittering gorget dress'd,
And scarlet robe lapell'd upon her breast,280
Stern ARA frowns, the measured march assumes,96
Trails her long lance, and nods her shadowy plumes;
[Page 167]While Love's soft beams illume her treacherous eyes,
And Beauty lightens through the thin disguise.
So erst, when HERCULES, untamed by toil,285
Own'd the soft power of DEJANIRA's smile;—
His lion-spoils the laughing Fair demands,
And gives the distaff to his awkward hands;
[Page 168]O'er her white neck the bristly mane she throws,
And binds the gaping whiskers on her brows; 290
Plaits round her slender waist the shaggy vest,
And clasps the velvet paws across her breast.
Next with soft hands the knotted club she rears,
Heaves up from earth, and on her shoulder bears.
Onward with loftier step the Beauty treads,295
And trails the brinded ermine o'er the meads;
Wolves, bears, and bards, forsake the affrighted groves,
And grinning Satyrs tremble, as she moves.
CARYO's sweet smile DIANTHUS proud admires,97
And gazing burns with unallow'd desires; 300
[Page 169]With sighs and sorrows her compassion moves,
And wins the damsel to illicit loves.
The Monster-offspring heirs the father's pride,
Mask'd in the damask beauties of the bride.
So, when the Nightingale in eastern bowers 305
On quivering pinion woos the Queen of flowers;
Inhales her fragrance, as he hangs in air,
And melts with melody the blushing fair;
Half-rose, half-bird, a beauteous Monster springs,
Waves his thin leaves, and claps his glossy wings; 310
[Page 170]Long horrent thorns his mossy legs surround,
And tendril-talons root him to the ground;
Green films of rind his wrinkled neck o'espread,
And crimson petals crest his curled head;
Soft-warbling beaks in each bright blossom move,315
And vocal Rosebuds thrill the enchanted grove!—
Admiring Evening stays her beamy star,
And still Night listens from his ebon car;
While on white wings descending Houries throng,
And drink the floods of odour and of song.320
When from his golden urn the Solstice pours
O'er Afric's sable sons the sultry hours;
When not a gale flits o'er her tawny hills,
Save where the dry Harmattan breathes and kills;98
[Page 171]When stretch'd in dust her gasping panthers lie,325
And writh'd in foamy folds her serpents die;
Indignant Atlas mourns his leafless woods,
And Gambia trembles for his sinking floods;
Contagion stalks along the briny sand,
And Ocean rolls his sickening shoals to land.99 330
[Page 172]—Fair CHUNDA smiles amid the burning waste,100
Her brow unturban'd, and her zone unbrac'd;
Ten brother-youths with light umbrella's shade,
Or fan with busy hands the panting maid;
Loose wave her locks, disclosing, as they break,335
The rising bosom and averted cheek;[Page]

Hedysarum gyrans

[Page 173]Clasp'd round her ivory neck with studs of gold
Flows her thin vest in many a gauzy fold;
O'er her light limbs the dim transparence plays,
And the fair form, it seems to hide, betrays.340
Where leads the northern Star his lucid train
High o'er the snow-clad earth, and icy main,
With milky light the white horizon streams,
And to the moon each sparkling mountain gleams.—
Slow o'er the printed snows with silent walk 345
Huge shaggy forms across the twilight stalk;
And ever and anon with hideous sound
Burst the thick ribs of ice, and thunder round.—101
There, as old Winter flaps his hoary wing,
And lingering leaves his empire to the Spring,350
Pierced with quick shafts of silver-shooting light
Fly in dark troops the dazzled imps of night.—
"Awake, my Love!" enamour'd MUSCHUS cries102
"Stretch thy fair limbs, refulgent Maid! arise;
"Ope thy sweet eye-lids to the rising ray,355
"And hail with ruby lips returning day.
"Down the white hills dissolving torrents pour,
"Green springs the turf, and purple blows the flower;
"His torpid wing the Rail exulting tries,
"Mounts the soft gale, and wantons in the skies; 360
"Rise, let us mark how bloom the awaken'd groves,
"And 'mid the banks of roses hide our loves."
Night's tinsel beams on smooth Lock-lomond dance,
Impatient AEGA views the bright expanse;—103
In vain her eyes the passing floods explore,365
Wave after wave rolls freightless to the shore.
—Now dim amid the distant foam she spies
A rising speck,—"'tis he! 'tis he!" she cries;
As with firm arms he beats the streams aside,
And cleaves with rising chest the tossing tide,370
With bended knee she prints the humid sands,
Up-turns her glistening eyes, and spreads her hands;
—"'Tis he, 'tis he!—My Lord, my life, my love!—
"Slumber, ye winds; ye billows, cease to move!
"Beneath his arms your buoyant plumage spread,375
"Ye Swans! ye Halcyons! hover round his head!"—
[Page 176]—With eager step the boiling surf she braves,
And meets her refluent lover in the waves;
Loose o'er the flood her azure mantle swims,
And the clear stream betrays her snowy limbs.380
So on her sea-girt tower fair HERO stood
At parting day, and mark'd the dashing flood;
While high in air, the glimmering rocks above,
Shone the bright lamp, the pilot-star of Love.
—With robe outspread the wavering flame behind 385
She kneels, and guards it from the shifting wind;
Breathes to her Goddess all her vows, and guides
Her bold LEANDER o'er the dusky tides;
Wrings his wet hair, his briny bosom warms,
And clasps her panting lover in her arms.390
Deep, in wide caverns and their shadowy ailes,
Daughter of Earth, the chaste TRUFFELIA smiles;104
[Page 177]On silvery beds, of soft asbestus wove,
Meets her Gnome-husband, and avows her love.
High o'er her couch impending diamonds blaze,395
And branching gold the crystal roof inlays;
With verdant light the modest emeralds glow,
Blue sapphires glare, and rubies blush, below;
Light piers of lazuli the dome surround,
And pictured mochoes tesselate the ground; 400
In glittering threads along reflective walls
The warm rill murmuring twinkles, as it falls;
Now sink the Eolian strings, and now they swell,
And Echoes woo in every vaulted cell;
While on white wings delighted Cupids play,405
Shake their bright lamps, and shed celestial day.
Closed in an azure fig by fairy spells,
Bosom'd in down, fair CAPRI-FICA dwells;—105
[Page 179]So sleeps in silence the Curculio, shut
In the dark chambers of the cavern'd nut,410
Erodes with ivory beak the vaulted shell,
And quits on filmy wings its narrow cell.
So the pleased Linnet in the moss-wove nest,
Waked into life beneath its parent's breast,
Chirps in the gaping shell, bursts forth erelong,415
Shakes its new plumes, and tries its tender song.—
—And now the talisman she strikes, that charms
Her husband-Sylph,—and calls him to her arms.—
Quick, the light Gnat her airy Lord bestrides,
With cobweb reins the flying courser guides,420
From crystal steeps of viewless ether springs,
Cleaves the soft air on still expanded wings;
Darts like a sunbeam o'er the boundless wave,
And seeks the beauty in her secret cave.
So with quick impulse through all nature's frame 425
Shoots the electric air its subtle flame.
So turns the impatient needle to the pole,
Tho' mountains rise between, and oceans roll.
Where round the Orcades white torrents roar,
Scooping with ceaseless rage the incumbent shore,430
Wide o'er the deep a dusky cavern bends
Its marble arms, and high in air impends;
Basaltic piers the ponderous roof sustain,106
And steep their massy sandals in the main;
Round the dim walls, and through the whispering ailes 435
Hoarse breathes the wind, the glittering water boils.
Here the charm'd BYSSUS with his blooming bride107
Spreads his green sails, and braves the foaming tide;
The star of Venus gilds the twilight wave,
And lights her votaries to the secret cave; 440
Light Cupids flutter round the nuptial bed,
And each coy sea-maid hides her blushing head.
Where cool'd by rills, and curtain'd round by woods,
Slopes the green dell to meet the briny floods,
The sparkling noon-beams trembling on the tide,445
The PROTEUS-LOVER woos his playful bride,108
To win the fair he tries a thousand forms,
Basks on the sands, or gambols in the storms.
A Dolphin now, his scaly sides he laves,
And bares the sportive damsel on the waves; 450
She strikes the cymbal as he moves along,
And wondering Ocean listens to the song.
—And now a spotted Pard the lover stalks,
Plays round her steps, and guards her favour'd walks;
[Page 182]As with white teeth he prints her hand, caress'd,455
And lays his velvet paw upon her breast,
O'er his round face her snowy fingers strain
The silken knots, and fit the ribbon-rein.
—And now a Swan, he spreads his plumy sails,
And proudly glides before the fanning gales; 460
Pleas'd on the flowery brink with graceful hand
She waves her floating lover to the land;
Bright shines his sinuous neck, with crimson beak
He prints fond kisses on her glowing cheek,
Spreads his broad wings, elates his ebon crest,465
And clasps the beauty to his downy breast.
A hundred virgins join a hundred swains,
And fond ADONIS leads the sprightly trains;109
[Page 183]Pair after pair, along his sacred groves
To Hymen's fane the bright procession moves; 470
Each smiling youth a myrtle garland shades,
And wreaths of roses veil the blushing maids;
Light joys on twinkling feet attend the throng,
Weave the gay dance, or raise the frolic song;
—Thick, as they pass, exulting Cupids fling 475
Promiscuous arrows from the sounding string;
On wings of gossamer soft Whispers fly,
And the fly Glance steals side-long from the eye.
—As round his shrine the gaudy circles bow,
And seal with muttering lips the faithless vow,480
Licentious Hymen joins their mingled hands,
And loosely twines the meretricious bands.—
Thus where pleased VENUS, in the southern main,
Sheds all her smiles on Otaheite's plain,
[Page 184]Wide o'er the isle her silken net she draws,485
And the Loves laugh at all, but Nature's laws."
Here ceased the Goddess,—o'er the silent srings
Applauding Zephyrs swept their fluttering wings;
Enraptur'd Sylphs arose in murmuring crowds
To air-wove canopies and pillowy clouds; 490
Each Gnome reluctant sought his earthy cell,
And each bright Floret clos'd her velvet bell.
Then, on soft tiptoe, NIGHT approaching near
Hung o'er the tuneless lyre his sable ear;
Gem'd with bright stars the still etherial plain,495
And bad his Nightingales repeat the strain.


Apocynum androscemifolium.


P. 7. Additional note to Curcuma. These anther-less filaments seem to be an endea­vour of the plant to produce more stamens, as would appear from some experiments of M. Reynier, instituted for another purpose: he cut away the stamens of many flowers, with design to prevent their secundity, and in many instances the flower threw out new filaments from the wounded part of different lengths; but did not produce new anthers. The experiments were made on the geum rivale, different kinds of mallows, and the aechinops ritro. Critical Review for March, 1788.

P. 8. Addition to the note on Iris. In the Persian Iris the end of the lower petal is purple, with white edges and orange streaks, creeping, as it were, into the mouth of the flower like an insect; by which deception in its native climate it probably prevents a similar insect from plundering it of its honey: the edges of the lower petal lap over those of the upper one, which prevents it from opening too wide on fine days, and fa­cilitates its return at night; whence the rain is excluded, and the air admitted. See Po­lymorpha, Rubia, and Cypripedia in Vol. I.

P. 12. Additional note on Chondrilla. In the natural state of the expanded flower of the barberry, the stamens lie on the petals; under the concave summits of which the anthers shelter themselves, and in this situation remain perfectly rigid; but on touch­ing the inside of the filament near its base with a fine bristle, or blunt needle, the stamen instantly bends upwards, and the anther, embracing the stigma, sheds its dust. Observations on the Irritation of Vegetables, by T. E. Smith, M. D.

P. 15. Addition to the note on Silene. I saw a plant of the Dionaea Muscipula, Fly-trap of Venus, this day, in the collection of Mr. Boothby at Ashbourn-Hall, Derby­shire, Aug. 20th, 1788; and on drawing a straw along the middle of the rib of the leaves as they lay upon the ground round the stem, each of them, in about a second of time, closed and doubled itself up, crossing the thorns over the opposite edge of the leaf, like the teeth of a spring rap-trap: of this plant I was savoured with an elegant co­loured drawing, by Miss Maria Jackson of Tarporly, in Cheshire, a Lady who adds much botanical knowledge to many other elegant acquirements.

[Page 186] In the Apocynum Androsaemifolium, one kind of Dog's bane, the anthers converge over the nectaries, which consist of five glandular oval corpuscles surrounding the germ; and at the same time admit air to the nectaries at the interstice between each anther. But when a fly inserts its proboscis between these anthers to plunder the honey, they converge closer, and with such violence as to detain the fly, which thus generally pe­rishes. This account was related to me by R. W. Darwin, Esq of Elston, in Nottinghamshire, who showed me the plant in flower, July 2d, 1788, with a fly thus held fast by the end of its proboscis, and was well seen by a magnifying lens, and which in vain repeatedly struggled to disengage itself, till the converging anthers were separated by means of a pin: on some days he had observed that almost every flower of this ele­gant plant had a fly in it thus entangled; and a few weeks afterwards favoured me with his further observations on this subject.

‘My Apocynum is not yet out of flower. I have often visited it, and have frequently found four or five flies, some alive, and some dead, in its flowers; they are generally caught by the trunk or proboscis, sometimes by the trunk and a leg; there is one at present only caught by a leg: I don't know that this plant sleeps, as the flowers re­main open in the night; yet the flies frequently make their escape. In a plant of Mr. Ordino's, an ingenious gardener at Newark, who is possessed of a great collection of plants, I saw many flowers of an Apocynum with three dead flies in each; they are a thin-bodied fly, and rather less than the common house-fly; but I have seen two or three other sorts of flies thus arrested by the plant. Aug. 12, 1788.’

P. 18. Additional note on Ilex. The efficient cause which renders the hollies prickly in Needwood Forest only as high as the animals can reach them, may arise from the lower branches being constantly cropped by them, and thus shoot forth more luxu­riant soliage: it is probable the shears in garden-hollies may produce the same effect, which is equally curious, as prickles are not thus produced on other plants.

P. 41. Additional note on Ulva. M. Hubert made some observations on the air contained in the cavities of the bambou. The stems of these canes were from 40 to 50 feet in height, and 4 or 5 inches in diameter, and might contain about 30 pints of elastic air. He cut a bambou, and introduced a lighted candle into the cavity, which was extinguished immediately on its entrance. He tried this about 60 times in a cavity of the bambou, containing about two pints. He introduced mice at different times into these cavities, which seemed to be somewhat affected, but soon recovered their agility. The stem of the bambou is not hollow till it rises more than one foot from the earth; the divisions between the cavities are convex downwards. Observ. sur la Physique par M. Rozier, l. 33. p. 130.

[Page 187] P. 65. Additional note on Gossypium.

—emerging Naïads cull
From leathery pods the vegetable wool.

—eam circum Milesia vei [...]ra nymphae
Carpebant, hyali saturo sucata colore.
Virg. Georg. IV. 334.

P. 119. Addition to Orchis. The two following lines were by mistake omitted; they were to have been inserted after l. 282, p. 119.

Saw on his helm, her virgin hands inwove,
Bright stars of gold, and mystic knots of love;

P. 136. Addition to the note on Tropaeolum. In Sweden a very curious phenomenon has been observed on certain fl [...]wers, by M. Haggren, Lecturer in Natural History. One evening he perceived a faint flash of light repeatedly dart from a Marigold; sur­prized at such an uncommon appearance, he resolved to examine it with attention; and, to be assured that it was no deception of the eye, he placed a man near him, with orders to make a signal at the moment when he observed the light. They both saw it con­stantly at the same moment.

The light was most brilliant on Marigolds, of an orange or flame colour; but scarcely visible on pale ones.

The flash was frequently seen on the same flower two or three times in quick succession, but more commonly at intervals of several minutes; and when several slowers in the same place emitted their light together, it could be observed at a considerable distance.

This phaenomenon was remarked in the months of July and Augst, at sun-set, and for half an hour after, when the atmosphere was clear; but after a rainy day, or when the air was loaded with vapours, nothing of it was seen.

The following flowers emitted flashes, more or less vivid, in this order:

1. The Marigold, (Calendula Officinalis).

2. Garden Nasturtion, (Tropaeolum majus).

3. Orange Lily, (Lilium bulbiferum).

4. The Indian Pink, (Tagetes patula et crecta).

Sometimes it was also observed on the Sun-flowers, (H linthus annuus). But bright yellow, or flame colour, seemed in general necessary for the production of this light; for it was never seen on the flowers of any other colour.

To discover whether some little insects, or phosphoric worms, might not be the cause of it, the flowers were carefully examined even with a microscope, without any such being sound.

From the rapidity of the flash, and other circumstances, it might be conjectured, that there is something of electricity in this phaenomenon. It is well known, that when the [Page 188] pistil of a flower is impregnated, the pollen bursts away by its elasticity, with which elec­tricity may be combined. But M. Haggren, after having observed the flash from the Orange-lily, the anthers of which are a considerable space distant from the petals, found that the light proceeded from the petals only; whence he concludes, that this electric light is caused by the pollen, which in flying off is scattered upon the petals. Obser. Physìque par M. Rozier, Vol. XXXIII. p. 111.

P. 153. Addition to Avena. The following lines were by mistake omitted; they were designed to have been inserted after l. 102, p. 153.

Green swells the beech, the widening knots improve,
So spread the tender growths of culture'd love;
Wave follows wave, the letter'd lines decay,
So Love's soft forms neglected melt away.

P. 157. Additional note to Bellis. Du Halde gives an account of a white wax made by small insects round the branches of a tree in China in great quantity, which is there collected for economical and medical purposes: the tree is called Tong-tsin. Descrip­tion of China, Vol. I. p. 230.

Description of the Poison-Tree in the Island of JAVA. Translated from the original Dutch of N. P. Foersch.

THIS destructive tree is called in the Malayan language Bohon-Upas, and has been described by naturalists; but their accounts have been so tinctured with the mar­vellou, that the whole narration has been supposed to be an ingenious fiction by the ge­nerality of readers. Nor is this in the least degree surprising, when the circumstances which we shall faithfully relate in this description are considered.

I must acknowledge, that I long doubted the existence of this tree, until a stricter enquiry convinced me of my error. I shall now only relate simple unadorned facts, of which I have been an eye-witness. My readers may depend upon the fidelity of this account. In the year 1774 I was stationed at Batavia, as a surgeon, in the service of the Dutch East-India Company. During my residence there I received several different ac­counts of the Bohon Upas, and the violent effects of its poison. They all then seemed incredible to me, but raised my curiosity in so high a degree, that I resolved to investi­gate this subject thoroughly, and to trust only to my own observations. In consequence of this resolution, I applied to the Governor-General, Mr. Petrus Albertus van der Parra, for a pass to travel through the country: my request was granted; and, having procured [Page 189] every information, I set out on my expedition. I had procured a recommendation from an old Malayan priest to another priest, who lives on the nearest inhabitable spot to the tree, which is about fifteen or sixteen miles distant. The letter proved of great service to me in my undertaking, as that priest is appointed by the Emperor to reside there, in order to prepare for eternity the souls of those who for different crimes are sentenced to approach the tree, and to procure the poison.

The Bohon-Upas is situated in the island of Java, about twenty-seven leagues from Batavia, fourteen from Soura Charta, the seat of the Emperor, and between eighteen and twenty leagues from Tinkjoe, the present residence of the Sultan of Java. It is sur­rounded on all sides by a circle of high hills and mountains; and the country round it, to the distance of ten or twelve miles from the tree, is entirely barren. Not a tree, nor a shrub, nor even the least plant or grass is to be seen. I have made the tour all around this dangerous spot, at about eighteen miles distant from the centre, and I found the aspect of the country on all sides equally dreary. The easiest ascent of the hills is from that part where the old ecclesiaslick dwells. From his house the criminals are sent for the poison, into which the points of all warlike instruments are dipped. It is of high value, and produces a considerable revenue to the Emperor.

Account of the manner in which the Poison is procured.

The poison which is procured from this tree is a gum that issues out between the bark and the tree itself, like the camphor. Malefactors, who for their crimes are sentenced to die, are the only persons who fetch the poison; and this is the only chance they have of saving their lives. After sentence is pronounced upon them by the judge, they are asked in court, whether they will die by the hands of the executioner, or whether they will go to the Upas tree for a box of poison? They commonly prefer the latter pro­posal, as there is not only some chance of preserving their lives, but also a certainty, in case of their safe return, that a provision will be made for them in future by the Em­peror. They are also permitted to ask a favour from the Emperor, which is generally of a triffing nature, and commonly granted. They are then provided with a silver or tortoiseshell box, in which they are to put the poisonous gum, and are properly in­structed how to proceed while they are upon their dangerous expedition. Among other particulars, they are always told to attend to the direction of the winds; as they are to go towards the tree before the wind, so that the effluvia from the tree are always blown from them. They are told, likewise, to travel with the utmost dispatch, as that is the only method of insuring a safe return. They are afterwards sent to the house of the old priest, to which place they are commonly attended by their friends and relations. Here they generally remain some days, in expectation of a favourable breeze. During that time the ecclesiastic prepares them for their future fate by prayers and admonitions.

[Page 190] When the hour of their departure arrives, the priest puts them on a long leather-cap, with two glasses before their eyes, which comes down as far as their breast; and also provides them with a pair of leather-gloves. They are then conducted by the priest, and their friends and relations, about two miles on their journey. Here the priest re­peats his instructions, and tells them where they are to look for the tree. He shews them a hill, which they are told to ascend, and that on the other side they will find a rivulet, which they are to follow, and which will conduct them directly to the Upas. They now take leave of each other; and, amidst prayers for their success, the delin­quents hasten away.

The worthy old ecclesiastic has assured me, that during his residence there, for up­wards of thirty years, he had dismissed above seven hundred criminals in the manner which I have described; and that scarcely two out of twenty have returned. He shewed me a catalogue of all the unhappy sufferers, with the date of their departure from his house annexed; and a list of the offences for which they had been condemned: to which was added, a list of those who had returned in safety. I afterwards saw another list of these culprits, at the jail-keeper's at Soura-Charta, and found that they perfectly corresponded with each other, and with the different informations which I afterwards obtained.

I was present at some of these melancholy ceremonies, and desired different delin­quents to bring with them some pieces of the wood, or a small branch, or some leaves of this wonderful tree. I have also given them silk cords, desiring them to measure its thickness. I never could procure more than two dry leaves that were picked up by one of them on his return; and all I could learn from him, concerning the tree itself, was, that it flood on the border of a rivulet, as described by the old priest; that it was of a middling size; that five or six young trees of the same kind stood close by it; but that no other shrub or plant could be seen near it; and that the ground was of a brownish sand, full of stones, almost impracticable for travelling, and covered with dead bodies. After many conversations with the old Malayan priest, I questioned him about the first discovery, and asked his opinion of this dangerous tree; upon which he gave me the following answer:

‘We are told in our new Alcoran, that, above an hundred years ago, the country around the tree was inhabited by a people strongly addicted to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrha; when the great prophet Mahomet determined not to suffer them to lead such detestable lives any longer, he applied to God to punish them: upon which God caused this tree to grow out of the earth, which destroyed them all, and rendered the country for ever uninhabitable.’

Such was the Malayan opinion. I shall not attempt a comment; but must observe, that all the Malayans consider this tree as an holy instrument of the great prophet to punish the sins of mankind; and, therefore, to die of the poison of the Upas is generally [Page 191] considered among them as an honourable death. For that reason I also observed, that the delinquents, who were going to the tree, were generally dressed in their best apparel.

This however is certain, though it may appear incredible, that from fifteen to eighteen miles round this tree, not only no human creature can exist, but that, in that space of ground, no living animal of any kind has ever been discovered. I have also been assured by several persons of veracity, that there are no fish in the waters, nor has any rat, mouse, or any other vermin, been seen there; and when any birds fly so near this tree that the effuvia reaches them, they fall a sacrifice to the effects of the poison. This circumstance has been ascertained by different delinquents, who, in their return, have seen the birds drop down, and have picked them up dead, and brought them to the old ecclesiastick.

I will here mention an instance, which proves them a fact beyond all doubt, and which happened during my stay at Java.

In the year 1775 a rebellion broke out among the subjects of the Massay, a sove­reign prince, whose dignity is nearly equal to that of the Emperor. They refused to pay a duty imposed upon them by their sovereign, whom they openly opposed. The Massay sent a body of a thousand troops to disperse the rebels, and to drive them, with their families, out of his dominions. Thus four hundred families, consisting of above sixteen hundred souls, were obliged to leave their native country. Neither the Emperor nor the Sultan would give them protection, not only because they were rebels, but also through sear of displeasing their neighbour, the Massay. In this distressful situation, they had no other resource than to repair to the uncultivated parts round the Upas, and requested permission of the Emperor to settle there. Their request was granted, on condition of their fixing their abode not more than twelve or fourteen miles from the tree, in order not to deprive the inhabitants already settled there at a greater distance of their cultivated lands. With this they were obliged to comply; but the consequence was, that in less than two months their number was reduced to about three hundred. The chiefs of those who remained returned to the Massay, informed him of their losses, and intreated his pardon, which induced him to receive them again as subjects, thinking them sufficiently punished for their misconduct. I have seen and conversed with several of those who survived soon after their return. They all had the appearance of persons tainted with an infectious disorder; they looked pale and weak, and from the account which they gave of the loss of their comrades, of the symptoms and circumstances which attended their dissolution, such as convulsions, and other signs of a violent death, I was fully convinced that they fell victims to the poison.

This violent effect of the poison at so great a distance from the tree, certainly appears surprising, and almost incredible; and especially when we consider that it is possible for delinquents who approach the tree to return alive. My wonder, however, in a great measure, ceased, after I had made the following observations:

[Page 192] I have said before, that malefactors are instructed to go to the tree with the wind, and to return against the wind. When the wind continues to blow from the same quarter while the delinquent travels thirty, or six and thirty miles, if he be of a good constitution, he certainly survives. But what proves the most destructive is, that there is no dependence on the wind in that part of the world for any length of time.—There are no regular land-winds; and the sea-wind is not perceived there at all, the situation of the tree being at too great a distance, and surrounded by high mountains and uncul­tivated forests. Besides, the wind there never blows a fresh regular gale, but is com­monly merely a current of light, soft breezes, which pass through the different openings of the adjoining mountains. It is also frequently difficult to determine from what part of the globe the wind really comes, as it is divided by various obstructions in its passage, which easily change the direction of the wind, and often totally destroy its effects.

I, therefore, impute the distant effects of the poison, in a great measure, to the con­stant gentle winds in those parts, which have not power enough to disperse the poisonous particles. If high winds are more frequent and durable there, they would certainly weaken very much, and even destroy the obnoxious effluvia of the poison; but without them, the air remains infected and pregnant with these poisonous vapours.

I am the more convinced of this, as the worthy ecclesiastick assured me, that a dead calm is always attended with the greatest danger, as there is a continual perspiration issuing from the tree, which is seen to rise and spread in the air, like the putrid steam of a marshy cavern.

Experiments made with the Gum of the UPAS-TREE.

IN the year 1776, in the month of February, I was present at the execution of thir­teen of the Emperor's concubines, at Soura-Charta, who were convicted of infidelity to the Emperor's bed. It was in the forenoon, about eleven o'clock, when the fair cri­minals were led into an open space within the walls of the Emperor's palace. There the judge passed sentence upon them, by which they are doomed to suffer death by a lancet poisoned with Upas. After this the Alcoran was presented to them, and they were, according to the law of their great prophet Mahomet, to acknowledge and to affirm by oath, that the charges brought against them, together with the sentence and their punishment, were fair and equitable. This they did, by laying their right hand upon the Alcoran, their left hands upon their breast, and their eyes lifted towards heaven; the judge then held the Alcoran to their lips, and they kissed it.

These ceremonies over, the executioner proceeded on his business in the following manner:—Thirteen posts, each about five feet high, had been previously erected. To these the delinquents were fastened, and their breasts stripped naked. In this situation they remained a short time in continual prayers, attended by several priests, until a signal [Page 193] was given by the judge to the executioner; on which the latter produced an instrument, much like the spring lancet used by farriers for bleeding horses. With this instrument, it being poisoned with the gum of the Upas, the unhappy wretches were lanced in the middle of their breasts, and the operation was performed upon them all in less than two minutes.

My astonishment was raised to the highest degree, when I beheld the sudden effects of that poison, for in about five minutes after they were lanced, they were taken with a tremor, attended with a subsultus tendinum, after which they died in the greatest agonies, crying out to God and Mahomet for mercy. In sixteen minutes by my watch, which I held in my hand, all the criminals were no more. Some hours after their death, I ob­served their bodies full of livid spots, much like those of the Petech [...]ae, their faces swelled, their colour changed to a kind of blue, their eyes looked yellow, &c. &c.

About a fortnight after this, I had an opportunity of seeing such another execution at Samarang. Seven Malayans were executed there with the same instrument, and in the same manner; and I found the operation of the poison, and the spots in their bodies exactly the same.

These circumstances made me desirous to try an experiment with some animals, in order to be convinced of the real effects of this poison; and as I had then two young puppies, I thought them the fittest objects for my purpose. I accordingly procured with great difficulty some g