Page images

day, but this was only when he felt some symptoms of an approaching fever. By this precaution he preserved himself, during the five years he resided at Senegal, from the diarrhea and fever, which are so fatal there, and which are, however, the only diseases of the place; while other officers suffered very severely, only one of them excepted, upon whom M. Adanson prevailed to use this remedy, which for its simplicity was despised by the rest. This ptisan alone prevents that heat of urine which is common in these parts, from the month of July to November, provided the person abstains from wine: The fruit is not less useful than the leaves and the bark. The pulp that envelopes the seeds has an agreeable acid taste, and is eaten for pleasure: it is also dried and powdered, and used medicinally in pestilential fevers, the dysentery, and bloody flux: the dose is a drachm, passed through a fine sieve, taken either in common water, or in an infusion of the plantain. This powder is brought into Europe under the name of terra sigillata Lemnia. The woody bark of the fruit, and the fruit itself, when spoiled, help to supply the negroes with an excellent soap, which they make by drawing a lie from the ashes, and boiling it with palm-oil that begins to be rancid. The trunks of such of these trees as are decayed, the negroes hollow out into burying places for their poets, musicians, and buffoons. Persons of these characters they esteem greatly while they live, supposing them to derive their superior talents from sorcery, or a commerce with demons; but they regard their bodies with horror when dead, and will not give them burial in the usual manner, neither suffering them to be put into the ground, nor thrown into the sea or any river, because they imagine that the water would not then nourish the fish, nor the earth produce its fruits. The bodies shut up in these trunks become dry without rotting, and form a kind of mummies without the help of embalming. The baobal is very distinct from the calabash-tree of America, with which it has been confounded by Father Labat.

The following is an account of a REMARKABLE OAK TRIL:

Behold the oak does young and verdant stand
Above the grove, all others to command;
His wide-extended limbs the forest crown'd,
Shading the trees, as well as they the ground:
Young murm'ring tempests in his boughs are bred,
And gathering clouds from round his lofty head;
Outrageous thunder, stormy winds, and rain,
Discharge their fury on his head in vain;
Earthquakes below, and lightnings from above,
Real not his trunk, nor his fix'd root remove.


Mr. Gilpin, in his forest scenery, gives the following account. of an aged oak :

"Close by the gate of the Water-wa.k, at Magdalen College in Oxford, grew an oak, which perhaps stood there a saplin when Alfred the Great founded the university. This period only includes a space of nine hundred years, which is no great age for an oak. It is a difficult matter indeed to ascertain the age of a tree. The age of a castle or abbey is the object of history: even a common house is recorded by the family that built it. All these objects arrive at maturity in their youth, if I may so speak. But the tree gradually completing its growth, is not worth recording in the early part of its existence: it is then only a common tree; and afterwards, when it becomes remarkable for its age, all memory of its youth is lost. This tree, however, can almost produce historical evidence for the age assigned to it."

About five hundred years after the time of Alfred, William of Wainfleet, Dr. Stukely tells us, expressly ordered this college to be founded near the great oak; (Itiner. Curios.) and an oak could not, I think, be less than five hundred years of age, to merit that title, together with the honour of fixing the site of a college. When the magnificence of Cardinal Wolsey erected that handsome tower which is so ornamental to the whole building, this tree might probably be in the meridian of its glory; or rather, perhaps it had attained a green old age. But it must have been manifestly in its decline, at that memorable æra, when the tyranny of James gave the fellows of Magdalen so noble an opportunity of withstanding bigotry and superstition. It was afterwards much injured in the time of Charles II, when the present walks were laid out its roots were disturbed; and from that period it declined fast, and became reduced by degrees to little more than a mere trunk. The oldest members of the university can scarcely recollect it in better plight: but the faithful records of history* have handed down its ancient dimensions.

It once flung its boughs through a space of sixteen yards on every side from its trunk; and under its magnificent pavilion could have sheltered with ease three thousand men: though in its decayed state, it could, for many years, do little more than shelter some luckless individual, whom the driving shower had overtaken in his evening walk. In the summer of the year 1788, this magnificent ruin fell to the ground, alarming the college with its crashing sound. It then appeared how precariously it had stood for many years. Its grand taproot was decayed; and it had hold of the earth only by two or three roots, of which none was more than a couple of inches in diameter. From a part of its ruins, a chair has been made See Pr. Plot's Hist. of Oxf. ch. vi. sect. ́›

for the president of the college, which will long continue it memory.

This will be a proper place for introducing the history of SOME OF THE LARGEST TREES NOW GROWING IN ENGLAND. -In Hainault Forest, near Barking in Essex, there is an oak which has attained the enormous bulk of thirty-six feet in circumference. This extraordinary tree has been known for ages by the name of Fairlop. The tradition of the country traces it half way-up the Christian æra. Beneath its shade, which overspreads an area of three hundred feet in circuit, an annual fair has long been held on the first Friday in July, and no booth is suffered to be erected beyond the extent of its boughs.

At Cromwell Park, near Letbury in Gloucestershire, the seat of Lord Dacre, is a huge chesnut tree, probably as remarkable for antiquity as size; having been mentioned (according to Sir Richard Atkins) in king John's days, six centuries ago, as the wonder of the neighbourhood, and measuring at present, at the foot, fifty-seven feet in circumference. It is supposed to be at least eight hundred years old.

In Darley church-yard, near Matlock in Derbyshire, is a yew tree, thirty-three feet in girt.

In the church-yard of Aldworth, in Berkshire, is a yew tree, the trunk of which, four feet from the ground, measures nine yards in circumference. It is of considerable height: all recollection of its age is lost.

THE SHELTON OAK.-About a mile and a half from Shrewsbury, where the Pool road diverges from that which leads to Oswestry, there stands an ancient decayed oak. There is a tradition, that Owen Glendwr (Glynder) ascended this tree to reconnoitre; and finding that the king was in great force, and that the Earl of Northumberland had not joined his son Hotspur, he fell back to Oswestry, and immediately after the battle of Shrewsbury, retreated precipitately to Wales. This tree is now in a complete state of decay, and hollow, even in the larger ramifications. The following are the dimensions of the Shelton Oak :

ft. in.

44 3 25 1

Girt, at bottom, close to the ground
Ditto, 5 feet from ditto
Ditto, 8 feet from ditto
Height of the tree



Vide Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxi. p. 305.


41 6

THE BOWTHORPE OAK, Situate in the park between Bourne and Stamford

“On a fine eminence, of slow ascent,

The landscape round stretch'd to a vast extent,”

-18 the property of Philip Duncombe Pauncefort, Esq. The trunk is thirty-nine feet six inches in circumference. The inside of the body is hollow, and the lower part of it was formerly used as a feeding place for calves, the upper, as a pigeon-house. The late possessor, George Pauncefort, Esq (in whose family it has been for many centuries,) in 1768 had it floored, with benches placed round, and a door of entrance: frequently twelve persons have dined in it with ease.

[blocks in formation]

No tradition is to be found respecting it, it having, ever since the memory of the oldest inhabitants, or their ancestors, been in the same state of decay.

We conclude this chapter with an essay on the UPAS, or POISON-TREE OF JAVA; by Thomas Horsefield, M. D.-From the Seventh Volume of the Transactions of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Java.

The literary and scientific world has in few instances been more grossly and impudently imposed upon, than by the account of the Bohan Upas, published in Holland about the year 1780. The history and origin of this celebrated forgery still remains a mystery. Foersch, who put his name to the publication, certainly was (according to the information I have received from credible persons, who have long resided on the island,) a surgeon in the Dutch East India Company's service, about the time the account of the Upas appeared. It would be in some degree interesting to become acquainted with his character. I have been led to suppose that his literary abilities were as mean, as his contempt of truth was


Having hastily picked up some vague information concerning the Upas, he carried it to Europe, where his notes were arranged, doubtlessly by a different hand, in such a form as, by their plausibility and appearance of truth, to be generally credited.

But though the account just mentioned, in so far as relates to the situation of the Poison Tree, to its effects on the surrounding country, and to the application said to have been made of the Upas on criminals in different parts of the island, as well as the description of the poisonous substance itself, and its mode of collection, has been demonstrated to be an extravagant forgery, the existence of a tree in Java, from whose sap a poison is prepared, equal in fatality, when thrown into the circulation, to the strongest animal poisons hitherto known, is a

fact, which it is at present my object to establish and to illustrate.

The tree which produces this poison, is called Antshar, and grows in the eastern extremity of the island.

The Antshar is one of the largest trees in the forests of Java. The stem is cylindrical, perpendicular, and rises completely naked to the height of sixty, seventy, or eighty feet. Near the surface of the ground it spreads obliquely, dividing into numerous broad appendages or wings, much like the Canarium commune, and several others of our large forest trees. It is covered with a whitish bark, slightly bursting in longitudinal furrows. Near the ground this bark is, in old trees, more than half an inch thick; and, upon being wounded, it yields plentifully the milky juice from which the celebrated poison is prepared. A puncture or incision being made in the tree, the juice or sap appears oozing out, of a yellowish colour, somewhat frothy; from old trees, paler; and nearly white from young ones: when exposed to the air, its surface becomes brown. The consistence very much resembles milk, only it is thicker and viscid. This sap is contained in the true bark, or cortex, which, when punctured, yields a considerable quantity, so that in a short time a cupful may be collected from a large tree. The inner bark, or liber, is of a close fibrous texture, like that of the Morus papyrifera, and when separated from the other bark, and cleansed from the adhering particles, resembles a coarse piece of linen. It has been worked into ropes, which are very strong, and the poorer class of people employ the inner bark of younger trees, which is more easily prepared, for the purpose of making a coarse stuff, which they wear when working in the fields. But it requires much bruising, washing, and, a long immersion in water, before it can be used; and even when it appears completely purified, persons wearing this dress, on being exposed to the rain, are affected with an intolerable itching, which renders their flimsy covering almost insupportable.

It will appear, from the account of the manner in which the poison is prepared, that the deleterious quality exists in the gum, a small portion of which still adhering to the bark, produces, whenit becomes wet, this irritating effect; and it is singular, that this property of the prepared bark is known to the Javanese, in all places where the tree grows, (for instance, in various parts of the provinces of Bangil and Malang, and even at Onarang,) while the preparation of a poison from its juice, which produces a mortal effect when introduced into the body by pointed weapons, is an exclusive art of the inhabitants of the eastern extremity of the island.

One of the regents in the eastern districts informed me, that having many years ago prepared caps or bonnets from

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »