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UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
THE WILD PALM-TREE.
"Mid rocks, and sands, and barrenness.
How beautiful to see
The solitary tree!
Alone, amid the silent wild,
It rears its spreading crest;
In constant verdure drest.
The pilgrim on his road.
Beneath his earthly load.
On account of its great use to mankind, the family of the Palms stands in the first rank among the productions of the vegetable kingdom, and ought, more than most others, to excite the interest of naturalists; but, unfortunately, it is one of those which have been least noticed by travellers. Whether the difficulty of finding the different species at the same time in blossom, and bearing fruit, is the cause of this want of information, or whether it arises from the great height of the Palms preventing their easy examination, still the result is, that, in most collections, the fruit is preserved without a knowledge of the blossom, or the flowers without the fruit.
The Palms are peculiar to the warmer regions of the globe, and the name Palma has been given to these productions of the vegetable world, from the supposed resemblance of their broad leaves to the human hand, palma being the Latin word for a hand. On the same account, the Date, which is the fruit of a species of Palm, is called dactylus, a finger, not so much from its form, as from the mode in which it grows in clusters, spreading out like the fingers of tlu' hand.
These trees are of the utmost importance to the inhabitants of the tropical regions; the fruit and sap providing them with food, the fibrous part of their structure with clothing, and the leaves forming the greatest part of their slightly-constructed huts. After enumerating some of the uses to which they are applied, a French naturalist says, "besides these principal advantages, they bestow many secondary benefits, which deserve notice; the leaves of some kinds are formed into fans, parasols, and hats; others again are written on, in the same manner as we write on paper, with a metal style j artificial flowers are formed out of the pith of some; the light and supple rattancane is the slender shoot of another species, and solid and useful goblets are made from the shell of the cocoa-nut, which the most refined luxury does not despise."
The Palm is a most graceful plant, and, in the figurative language of Scripture its name is frequently employed to express beauty and elegance. The growth of the Palm is extremely singular; for, although some species attain the height of the largest forest-trees, their structure differs materially from that of a tree, properly so called. The leaves of the young plant arise immediately from the surface of the ground, and it is not until after the lapse of several years, that there is any appearance of stem, and this stem, when once formed, never increases in size, the growth •f the plant being always upward, so that the stem itself is formed by the former growth of the green portions of the Palm'; and as we can judge the age •f a tree by the circles visible in a section of its trunk, so the number of years a Palm has existed, is known by the scars left by the falling off of • its annual efreJe ef leaves.
The engraving represents a wild Palm-tree, near Mount Sinai, and is copied from Laborde's splendid work on Arabia Petraea: speaking of this interesting object, he says, "What appeared to me most worthy of notice was a Palm-tree in its natural state, which we found above Ouadi Seleh. The Palm-tree is always represented with its summit pointed, its leaves bent back and spreading over its head, from whence gracefully hang dates as bright as coral; and we never imagine that all this elegance is produced by art, and that nature, less refined, has only attended to its preservation. Before us we saw the Palm-tree as it had grown for many a year, forming a rampart of its perishing leaves, and again coming to life, as it were, in the midst of its wreck. Neglected by the Arab of the desert, who considers all attempts at cultivation beneath his dignity, the Palm-tree, at times, forms impenetrable forests; more frequently, however, it is found isolated near a fountain, as we see in the engraving. It presents itself to the thirsty traveller like a friendly lighthouse, pointing out to him the spot where water is to be found to quench his thirst, and a charitable shade in which to repose."
LION HUNT IN SOUTH AMERICA.
At Villavicencio I was highly entertained in hunting a Pagi, or Chilian Lion. On our arrival, the people were preparing to destroy this enemy to their cattle: several dogs were collected from the neighbouring farms, and some of the young men of the surrounding country were in hopes of taking him alive with their lassos, and of afterwards baiting him in the village for the diversion of the ladies; whilst others were desirous of signalizing the prowess of their favourite dogs. All of them were determined t» kill this ravenous brute, which had caused much damage, particularly among their horses.
At four o'clock we left the village, more than twenty in number, each leading a dog, and having a chosen lasso on his arm, ready to throw at a moment's warning. About a mile from the village we separated, by different by-roads, into five or six parties, the men taking the dogs on their horses, to prevent the possibility of the scent being discovered by the lion. All noise was avoided; even the smoking of cigars was dispensed with, lest the smell should alarm their prey, and they should lose their sport. The party which I joined consisted of five individuals. After riding about four miles, we arrived at a small rivulet, where a young colt was tied to a tree, having been taken there for that purpose. We then retired about three hundred yards, and the colt being alone began to neigh, which had the desired effect; for before sunset, one of our party, placed in advance, let go his dog and whistled, at which signal three other dogs were loosed, and ran towards the place where the colt had been left. We immediately followed, and soon found the lion with his back against a tree, defending himself against his adversaries.
'On our appearance he seemed inclined to make a start, and attempt an escape. The lassos were immediately in motion, when four more dogs came up, and shortly afterwards their masters, who, hearing the noise, had ridden to the spot as fast as the woods would permit them. The poor brute seemed now to fear the increase of his enemies. However, he maintained his post, and killed three or four dogs, at which the owner of one of them became so enraged, that he threw his lasso round the neck of the lion, when the dogs, supposing the onset more secure, sprang, on him, and he was soon overpowered, but so \ dreadfully wounded and torn, that it became necessary to put an end to his life. The length of this animal, from the nose to the root of the tail, was five feet four inches, and from the bottom of the foot to the top of the shoulder, thirty-one inches. Its head was round, and much like that of a cat, the upper lip being entire, and supplied with whiskers; the nose flat, the eyes large, of a brownish hue, but very much suffused with blood; the ears short and pointed. It had no mane. The neck, back, and sides were of a dusky ash colour, with some yellowish spots; the belly of a dirty white; the hair on his buttocks long and shaggy. Each jaw was armed with four cutting, four canine, and sixteen grinding teeth j each of its fore-paws and hind-feet with five toes, and very strong talons.
Four lassos, attached to the girths of the saddles of two horses, were fastened to the lion, which was thus dragged to the village, where we arrived about nine o'clock, and were received by the whole of the inhabitants with shouting and rejoicing. The remainder of the night jwas^ spent in dancing and carousing.
The people informed me that the favourite food of the lion is horse-flesh; that watching a good opportunity it jumps upon the back of its prey, which it worries, tearing the flesh with one paw, whilst it secures its hold with the other; after sucking the blood it drags the carcase to some hiding-place, covers it with leaves, and returns when hungry to devour it. If it enter a place where horned cattle are kept, the bulls and cows immediately form a circle, and place the calves and young cattle in the centre; they then face their enemy boldly, and not unfrequently oblige him to retreat, on which the bulls follow him and often gore him to death. It would therefore appear to be more from fear than choice that he is attached to the flesh of horses. The animal was never known to attack a man; so timid is he of the human race, that he runs away at the apearance of a child, which may, perhaps, be accounted for from the abundance of cattle supplying him so easily with food, that he is seldom in want of flesh.
[stevenson's Rmdenc* in Smith America,]
Thk* cheerfulness of heart which springs up in us, from the survey of Nature's works, is an admirable preparation for gratitude. The mind has gone a great way towards praise and thanksgiving, that is filled with such secret gladness. A grateful reflection on the supreme Cause, who produces it, sanctifies it in the soul, and gives it its proper value. Such an habitual disposition of mind, consecrates every field and wood, turns an ordinary walk into a morning or evening sacrifice, and will improve those transient gleams <rf joy which naturally brighten up and refresh the soul on such occasions, into an inviolable and perpetual state of bliss and happiness. Addison.
In the wildest anarchy of man's insurgent appetites and sins, there is still a reclaiming voice; a voice which, even when in practice disregarded, it is impossible not to own; and to which, at the very moment that we refuse our obedience, we find that we cannot refuse the homage of what ourselves do feel and acknowledge to be the best, the highest principles of our nature. Chalmers.
Onb reason why God hath scattered up and down several degrees of pleasure and pain, in all the things that environ and affect us, and blended them together, in almost all that our thoughts and senses have to do with, is, that we, fHding imperfection, dissatisfaction, and want of'complete happiness in all the enjoyments which the creatures can afford us, might be led to seek it in the enjoyment of Him with whom "there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore." Lockh.
Architecture has been divided into Civil, Military, and Naval. Civil architecture, of which we are about to speak, refers to the building of churches, palaces, private houses, &c, and the different varieties of style may be said to be four, namely, Egyptian, Chinese, Grecian, and Gothic. On referring to the more permanent buildings in these different styles, we shall find the peculiarities of each can be easily traced to the more ordinary dwellings of the original inhabitants of the countries to which they respectively belong.
The Egyptian style is massive, and the buildings are frequently excavated from the solid rock, thus following the practice of the people who dwelt in caverns cut out of the sides of rocks and hills, before the art of building habitations was practised. The Chinese formed their lighter dwellings after the fashion of the original Tartar tent, with awnings and verandahs. The Grecian orders of architecture are referrible to buildings of wood, and the Gothic to bowers formed by the bending over and entwining together of the upper branches of trees.
In the present paper we shall confine ourselves to the Grecian style, which was also adopted by the Romans.
The buildings of these ancient nations are distinguished by five varieties of columns, and as many different modes of arranging the mouldings, and other ornaments with which they are decorated. These various methods of decoration have acquired the name of the Five Orders of Architecture, and, in well-designed buildings, the ornaments and mouldings belonging to one order are never found confounded with the columns of another.
The Greeks seem to have derived their ideas of architecture from the Egyptians, and some of theii earlier buildings partook of much of the Egyptian character; but as the climate of Greece was subject to frequent rains, it was found necessary to raise the whole structure on an artificial platform, and to cover it with an inclined roof, with projecting eaves. The different materials, also, of which the buildings were constructed, as we have already noticed, produced a great difference in the relative proportions of the various parts. The edifices of the Egyptians being chiefly formed of immense blocks of granite, the heaviest kind of stone; the supports of the superstructure were necessarily massive in proportion: the mysterious character, also, of their idolatry, was assisted by the dismal grandeur of their stupendous temples. The stone, of which the Grecian temples are constructed, is of a much lighter description, and many parts of their buildings show, that before they had learnt the method of working in marble, the material usually employed was wood; so that, partly following the design of their original wooden buildings, and partly importing the style of the Egyptians, a structure, partaking of the character of the architecture of both nations, was the consequence.
In noticing the progress of the art, we find the plain and sturdy Doric column succeeded by the more graceful and. ornamented Ionic, and that, again, by the richly decorated Corinthian and the Composite order of the Romans.
The principal feature in an order of architecture is the perpendicular support, or column. The bottom of this column rests upon a square plinth, sometimes ornamented with mouldings; this is called the base; the top of the column is also covered in the same manner, and this ornament is the capital; the body of the column is named the shaft. That part of the building which rests on the column is the
entablature, and is divided into three parts, the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice. "The architrave consists of a lintel laid along the tops of the columns; the frieze is ahove this, and represents the ends of the cross-beams of a wooden building, resting upon the former, and having the spaces between filled up, having also a moulding fixed, so as to conceal the horizontal joint, and divide it from the architrave. The upper member, or cornice, resembles the projecting eaves of a Greek house, showing the ends of the rafters."
The mouldings with which a bui.ding is ornamented have obtained various names, according to their forms: wo subjoin a few, to illustrate the subject.,"
The Greek Q/?olo,;»>i.Th« Scotia. J The Cavetto. The Cima Reveria"
j The most ancient of the three orders is the Doric. The column of this order was generally formed, when employed by the Greeks, without a base, resting directly on the flat eurface of the platform, and it was usually fluted with twenty very shallow flutings. It is the strongest in proportion of any of the other orders, its height being about six times the diameter of the base, • ■*
'The Ionic order is much more graceful than the last, and the ornament of the capital more elaborate. It has been fancifully said, that the intention of the architect, in the proportion of these two orders, was to give an idea of the male and female form, the sturdy unornamented Doric having a masculine character, and the more slender Ionic a feminine, and the volutos, the spiral ornaments of the capital/ were said to have been suggested by the appearance of the curls on each side of a lady's head. The Corinthian column is still slenderer and more decorated than either of the former, and the beautiful capital with which it , is decorated, adds materially to its elegant appearance. The origin of the Corinthian capital has been attributed to accident. A basket, it is said, was placed on the ground covered with a tile, to protect its contents from insects, and being, from some cause or other, forgotten, a plant of the Acanthus kind, on which it had been
placed, shot up its leaves and covered its outer surface, in the manner represented in the engraving, while at the same time, the tile, opposing the free growth of the longer leaves, forced them to curl round, so as to bear some resemblance to the volutes at the angles of the capital. This appearance, it is said, was noticed by a sculptor of the
name of Callimachus, who, struck with the beauty of the group, immediately imagined the Corinthian capital.
The Tuscan column was invented by the Romans, and was formed upon the model of the ancient Doric, i with such alterations as suggested themselves to the architects of those days. The chief of these consisted in the alteration of the proportions of the shaft, by making it of a slenderer form, and by constantly forming it with a base.
The Composite order is the most ornamented of the whole five, and was designed from various parts of the Corinthian and Ionic. It is employed in many of the most splendid edifices of the Roman capital.
The warmth and protection which birds receive from their parent, is beautifully illustrative of the security afforded by a superintending Providence, to those who apply to him for help: "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust." To my feelings there is not in the whole Bible a more elegant or delightful metaphor than this, or one which the human mind, especially when in a state of affliction and distress, may dwell upon with greater comfort and satisfaction. "When I have seen a bird of prey hovering over some newly-hatched chickens, and perceived them run for shelter under the wings of their parent, I am forcibly reminded that in the hour of danger and temptation I may fly, by prayer, to my heavenly Father for refuge and protection. Those who have made the works of creation their study, will have had many opportunities of appreciating the truth of the remarks I have ventured from time to time to make, respecting the lessons of instruction which may he derived from die delightful contemplation of the various objects with which we are perpetually surrounded.—Jesse's Gleanings.
FAMILIAR ILLUSTRATIONS OF NATURAL PHENOMENA.
No. XIII. Water In Its Solid Statk.
A Winter, in the northern parts of Europe, offers natural scenes of great interest and beauty. The sky is pure and clear: a bright sun lights up the prospect: the earth is covered with snow of dazzling* whiteness: and the rivers and lakes are hidden beneath a barrier of solid ice. The whole face of the country presents a surface, over which the traveller may glide with rapidity, ease, and security, defended from the cold, and seated in a commodious sledge: so that winter, instead of being there a period of "home-born happiness," is selected, by the natives of Russia and Siberia, as the time to undertake journeys on tracts which are nearly impassable in the summer-months. If the traveller passes through a forest, he perceives every bough and sprig to be wrapped in a glassy case, caused by the congelation of the vapour in the atmosphere. A thousand vivid colours are reflected from every twig; and, if a breeze springs up, the icy crystals are detached, and fall with a tinkling sound upon the solid surface of the hardened snow. In the cities, rich equipages glide along without noise. The horses are decorated with plumes of feathers; and ladies, wrapped in furs, and attended by a numerous escort, are swept rapidly along, in cars made in imitation of swans, or in other fanciful shapes. Artificial hills are formed of ice, down which those who are sufficiently adventurous are hurried with a force which carries them up an opposite ascent of the same kind. And, it is said, that even a palace has been constructed, sufficiently large to contain many hundred persons, of no other materials than ice and snow.
'All these remarkable phenomena are caused by a difference of a few degrees in the temperature of the air. If that temperature continues for a considerable time below the freezing point, all the water which is exposed to the action of the air becomes solid, and takes some of the different forms of which it is susceptible, as ice, snow, hail, hoar-frost, or congealed vapour. This scene, however, is as fugitive, as it is remarkable and beautiful. As soon as a thaw sets in, a very few hours are sufficient to break the charm, to destroy all this variety, and to reduce the water to its more usual form.
Facts of this nature, which, however well known, are often overlooked, show us, practically, with how great accuracy the Providence of God has arranged all the parts of the] natural world. It is of vital importance to all the processes of vegetation and of animal life, that water should usually be found in a fluid state; yet the mean temperature of the earth, in order that this may be the case, must have been fixed within certain limits, which are very narrow, compared even with the heat or cold with which we arc acquainted. And yet, in those parts of the world where the water is sometimes frozen for many weeks or months together, the temporary change is often a convenience. The surface of the snow forms a natural rail-road for the Laplander, the Russian, and the Canadian: the Esquimaux, during his long winter, forms his hut of snow, and glazes the window of it with ice. We have already noticed, that heat and ice together may be said to form water, and hence we might expect that—however contrary to our prejudices—the freezing of water should produce an increase of sensible heat, in the bodies near that which is so frozen, since the act of freezing separates the heat which was unobserved, or latent, in the water. Experiment shows that this is actually the case; if a very delicate
thermometer is suspended above the surface of freezing water, it is found to indicate a current of air, rising from the water, of a higher temperature than that of the rest of the air. It is proved, by other means, that a pound of water, at the temperature of 32°, or at the freezing-point, gives out 140° of heat in being converted into ice. This effect is often made very sensible, by a rise of the temperature, when a sudden fall of snow comes on, in a hard frost. The snow is commonly said to bring down Ike cold. The real cause is the heat given out by the vapour of water suddenly frozen.
Now consider what effects follow from this fact in the great laboratory of nature. Bodies already solid, when exposed to cold, grow continually colder and colder, parting with their heat at different rates, according to their powers of conducting or radiating heat. But when, as in the case of water, a change of form from fluid to solid takes place, there is a sudden interruption in this uniformity of sensible cooling. After the surface of water is cooled down to the freezing-point, giving out its heat all the time as it grows colder, it continues to give out heat during the time of freezing without growing sensibly colder in the least, and thereby retards the influence of the cold upon surrounding objects. Thus the freezing of vast lakes in North America, and of the Polar seas, is an operation which, to a certain, and probably to a considerable extent, diminishes the intensity of cold which would otherwise be felt.
It is true, that, when a thaw takes place, the operation is reversed, and the heat necessary to liquefy the ice is taken from surrounding objects, occasioning them to be cooled. Every one knows the uncomfortable sensations of a cold thaw, which really arise from part of the heat of our own bodies being taken away to turn ice into water. But, in the parts of the earth where this change takes place on an immense scale, the check thus given to a sudden rise of temperature does not seem to be more than is necessary to prevent injurious consequences. The climate still undergoes a very speedy change, passing from the depth of winter to an intensely hot summer in a few days j and vegetation springs forth with a rapidity unexampled in any other parts of the world.
The good effects of ice, in its various forms, to prevent the too-rapid communication of cold, do not cease after the change from the fluid to the solid state is completed. Ice is a very imperfect conductor of heat, and, since it floats upon water, it prevents the water beneath it from being cooled. When frozen water is in the form of snow, its good effects are still more evident. Farmers well know what protection to their plants is afforded by a coating of snow. Nothing is more common than to see, during a hard frost, great injury done to the wheat or turnips in exposed places from which the snow has drifted away, while those parts which are well covered by it, are perfectly unhurt. And the reason is plain :—the parts below the snow will usually be subject to a degree of cold which is very little, if at all, below 32°, the freezing point. This is a temperature which plants, in general, can endure without injury, and some can continue to carry on the process of vegetation, and even of flowering, as we often see snowdrops in blossom beneath the snow. Those parts of a field, on the contrary, which are exposed, become intensely cold, not only by parting with their heat to the cold air with which they are in contact, but by the radiation of heat into the cold regions of the upper atmosphere, as we have seen in the case of the formation of dew*.
• gee Saturday lUguin*, Vol. JV, p. 117.