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UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION. APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
THE TALAPAT PALM.
We have already* described a singular specimen of the rich and varied natural productions of Ceylon, namely, the "Forbidden Fruit," or "Eve's Appletree," of that island. We now present an engraving from the original drawing f by the late Mr. S. Daniell, of another interesting object, belonging to the same class. The properties of the former plant, so far as they have yet been discovered, are of a noxious quality, but the noble Palm which we now describe, is not only worthy of admiration for its appearance, but almost every part of it is capable of being applied to purposes of practical utility.
The Talapdt Palm, called also Codda Pana, Taliha, SfC, is the Corypha umbraculi/era of Willdenow: and is named in Dr. Davy's work Licuala spinosa. It is a native of Ceylon, where it grows among the mountains in the interior, but is not confined to that island, being also found in the Burman empire, and in some parts of the southern peninsula of India. The largest dimensions which are generally assigned to it, are one hundred and fifty or sixty feet in height, and nine or ten feet in circumference round the trunk. Perhaps the average height may be taken at about 140 feet, and the duration of the tree at about eighty years.
The brief and quaint, but accurate description of it by Knox is as follows. "This tree is as big and tall as a ship's mast, and very straight, bearing only leaves, which are of great use and benefit to the inhabitants of Ceylon: one single leaf being so broad and large, that it will cover fifteen or twenty men, and keep them dry when it rains. The leaf, being dried, is very strong and limber, and most wonderfully made for men's convenience to carry along with them, for though it be thus broad when open, yet it folds close like a lady's fan, and then is no bigger than a man's arm, and extremely light."
In the first volume of the Oriental Annual, edited by the Rev. Hobart Caunter, is a description of the scene represented in our engraving. "On the banks'of the Calany river," says Mr. Caunter, "we had the gratifying opportunity of seeing a Talipat Palm in full blossom, which is by no means a thing of common occurrence. The scene in which we witnessed this remarkable effort of nature was very novel and imposing; it opened on a confined valley, through which the river wound its irregular way, and upon whose transparent bosom were several boats pursuing their quiet course, to the rough, but not discordant, song of the Ceylonese mariner. Our attention was also particularly arrested by several rafts on this river, over each of which a complete canopy was thrown, formed of a single leaf of the Talipat, that entirely covered both freight and crew.
"This extraordinary tree, certainly among the most singular productions of the vegetable kingdom, grows sometimes to the height of 200 feet. It blossoms only once during its existence, then dies, and in dying, like the fabled phoenix, sheds the seeds of a future generation around it: the flower, which bursts forth with a loud explosion, is occasionally thirty feet in length. The tree which we saw was not above 100 feet high, and measured nearly seven feet round; but they are sometimes much larger: the fruit is about the size of a twenty-four pound tannon-shot, and contains a thick pulp, with seeds like the Palmyra, fDorassus flabelliformis.)"
Mr. Caunter adds, that a leaf of ordinary dimensions, which he saw, covered fourteen men; one
• See Saturday Magazine, Vol. V., p. 90.
t The Palm in the annexed illustration is copied bv permission, from a drawing in the collection formed by the Right Hon. Sir Alexander Johnston, to which we have before been indebted.
brought home by Mr. J. W. Bennett, and now to be seen in the Museum of King's College, London, measures thirty-six feet in circumference.
The pith resembles that of the Sago-palm, (Caryota vrens), and is used as food in times of scarcity. This is also the case in Malabar, where, according to Dr. Buchanan Hamilton, one tree yields ten puddles, or rather more than two pecks and a quarter, of a powder fit for this purpose. The period when it is most employed in Malabar, is from the middle of July to the middle of August; the people in general being so improvident, that by this time their stock of grain is nearly exhausted, and sells for almost double the price that is demanded immediately after harvest. Many of these palms are raised from the seed, in the gardens of the middle divisions of Malabar. The leaves serve for thatch, umbrellas, and as a substitute for paper; but for the former purpose they are not considered so eligible as those of the Coco-palm, (Cocos nucifera,) the latter being twice as durable as those of the Talapdt. Ten leaves are produced annually by this palm: it flowers, if permitted to live so long, at the age of twenty year?, and dies soon after having ripened its fruit; but it is generally cut down when about fifteen years old. Dr. Davy, who also saw one of the Talapdts in blossom, states that it is never found wild.
The leaves when dried are of a coriaceous texture, and may be folded up like a fan, the ribs or joints being hard and firm, like canes. The thin connecting portions, or folds, are prepared for writing upon, by being steeped in milk: they will then readily take an impression from the point of an iron stylus, such a< was anciently used by the Romans X for writing with on tablets of wax; these leaves are commonlytermed olas, and books made of them are remarkably durable, for many which have been in existence upwards of five centuries, are in excellent preservation. Some very fine palms will yield folds five inches in width, and these are very valuable; but when these cannot be met with, the natives ingeniously contrive to fasten two together, and give them a polished surface of varnish and gilding: this is particularly the case with the splendid manuscripts containing the sacred writings of the Budd'hists, many of which were brought from Ava, during the late war: the material used as ink in these books is the gum obtained from a peculiar kind of tree, named by the Burmese, P'heet-tsec, or wood-oil tree.
All books relating to their religion, and other works of importance are written on these leaves; but in Malabar, accounts, and matters of inferior moment, are kept on the leaves of the palmyra. The Royal Asiatic Society possesses a fine collection of all the various kinds of palm-leaf manuscripts, and among them, a complete and perfect copy of the most important of the Buddhist records, called the Pansiyapanasjatakdya, which comprises 1172 leaves or 2344 pages, each leaf being inscribed on both sides. A native, it is estimated, will write on an average, about four of these pages each day; consequently, the copying of this book must have occupied about 58C days. The title of this extraordinary work, is derived from pmi. five; siya, hundred; panas, fifty; jatakdya, incarnations: signifying the history of the five hundred and fifty transmigrations, through every state of existence, from reptile to Deity, which Budd ha underwent during his probation for that brightest and most sacred character: it was originally written in Pali, and was translated subsequently, into Singhalese. It is very difficult to meet with an entire copy, and the one in question was copied for Sir Alexander
1 See Saturday Magazine, Vol. V., p, 51.
Johnston, (by whom it was presented to the Society,) by one of the most learned of the Budd'hist priests on the island of Ceylon.
Fans made of these leaves, were conferred on individuals as a mark of distinction; in the maritime provinces of Ceylon, they were allowed to have a certain number of those which folded up; in the inland provinces, they were formed into a circular shape, like shields, ornamented with talc and peacocks' feathers, and mounted on thin poles; small ones of the latter description were commonly used by the priests. Specimens of all these different kinds, are among the curious oriental collections in the Museum of the Royal Asiatic Society.
The leaf, when cut off at the extremity of the petioles, is said to be worn by persons travelling through the jungles, as a covering for the head: for this purpose only a part of the leaf is used; it forms a sort of wedge, or inverted keel, and thus enables the wearer to force aside the branches which impede his path.
A SPANISH WINE-STORE. Nothing at Xeres so much surprises the stranger, and is more worthy his inspection, than the Bodegas, or wine-vaults. The vintage itself, though interesting, has nothing particularly striking or picturesque in it; and after having walked through the broiling vineyards, and seen the process of picking and pressing the grapes, the curiosity of the traveller will be satisfied. There are few, however, who would not feel inclined to repeat their visits more than once to the bodega. The term wine-vaults is ill suited to convey an idea of these really splendid and extraordinary establishments, which I should class among the things best worth seeing in Spain. Instead of descending into a dark, low, grovelling, and musty magazine, like the London Dock wine-vaults, spacious as they are, you first pass through a street, one entire side of which, for the extent of a quarter of a mile, is occupied by one of these bodegas, and entering through large folding doors, you find yourself, to your astonishment, in what at first sight, appears to be a church of considerable dimensions, with a lofty roof, and divided into spacious aisles.
In the centre, you see in large characters, "Bodega of Jesus j" and at the sides, "Nave of St. Andrew, St. Pedrb, St. Jago." Your eye soon runs along the lower part of the building, and you see some thousand butts of wine ranged along the aisles, and against the arched pillars. A delicious fragrance, which you easily recognise, soon convinces you, notwithstanding the pious inscriptions you have been reading, that you are in a place exclusively dedicated to the enjoyments of the body.
On entering, you are waited upon by the superintendent of the bodega, who accompanies you through the different aislua, and who explains to you, on passing each barrel, the name, quality, age, and peculiar flavour of the wine within it; and, in order that you may understand it practically as well as theoretically, his observations are rendered clear and intelligible by a full glass of the delicious liquor. You proceed thus slowly through the whole range of the bodega, occasionally reposing like Bacchus, astride of a huge butt, and sipping bumpers of luscious Paxareti, fragrant Muscatel, or dark creamy Sherry, half a century old. While on the outside, every thing is blazing with the intenseness of the noon-tide heat; within, a delightful coolness and a soft mellow light prevail. In this manner you keep jn quaffing the nectar which is so liberally supplied
you, until your senses become not quite so cool and collected as when you first entered, and you think it high time to make your retreat into the hot and dusty streets of Xeres.
Each wine establishment is conducted by an overseer, who is called the Capataz, and to whom is entrusted the purchasing of the different wines from the grower, the selection, and the mixing of them, as also the proving and tasting of the brandies required; in all of which, considerable judgment, skill, and experience, are required. These men, who, with nearly all employed in the bodegas, come from the mountains of Asturia, the Andalusians being too indolent, generally amass large fortunes by their care and frugality, and afterwards retire to their native province with the fruit of tijeir industry. ,
The interior of one of these large bodegas may be compared to an immense hospital filled with patients, and the capataz or superintendent to the visiting physician. The former goes his daily round, accompanied by one of the superintendents of the bodega, whom we will call the apothecary. As he passes each butt, he begins his inquiry into' the state of his patient; not by feeling his pulse, but by tapping, which is immediately performed by his attendant, who runs a spike into it, and presents him with a bumper of the contents. On tasting it, he may probably find that the wine is sick, as it is called by the merchants, being usually the case with young wines; a jar or two of brandy is therefore prescribed for the invalid, and the dose is forthwith administered. A second butt may be found to be equally qualmish, and is relieved in the same manner. The body or constitution of a third may probably be naturally weak and delicate; this is strengthened and improved by being mixed with wine which is sounder and stronger: while a fourth may be at the very last extremity, so as to require the application of musk. Speaking, however, more seriously, the bodega requires a great deal of skill, constant attention, a nice taste, and a discriminating judgment in the selection, not only of the wines, but of the brandies; in the improving the delicacy and flavour of the former, increasing or diminishing the body, dryness, and colour, and finally, giving such a variety of shades and differences in flavour and price, as may best suit the particular market, and gratify the taste and caprice of John Bull.
With this I shall conclude the remarks I have been
making, merely observing that, however far we may
be from drinking the sherry wine in its original state
in our own country, owing to the impossibility of
preserving it without the addition of a spirituous
body, it is so very superior to the lighter kinds of
sherry which are drank in their pure state, and which
supply the general consumption in the country, that
the last-mentioned wines cannot be compared to it.
To the wealthy merchants and exporters of Xeres,
we are, indeed, indebted for a wine, which, like port,
may be called a sound British wine, and which is far
more suitable to an English constitution and climate.
than the lighter wines of France and the Rhine.
[Sketches in Spain and Morocco, by Sir Arthur De CArEix Brooke, Bart.]
A Slowness to applaud betrays a cold temper, or an envious spirit. H. More.
There is always some love in esteem, and some esteem iu love; some hatred in contempt, some contempt in hatred. Skelton.
Where there is yet shame, there in time may be virtue. —Johnson.
St. Mary's Church And The County-hall.
Warwick, the capital of the very important manufacturing county to which it gives its name, is a place of high antiquity. By the Britons it was called Caer Guarvk; the Romans are supposed to have had a fort or station here; and it appears to have been strongly fortified by the Saxons at the period of the Norman invasion. Its situation, indeed, on the summit of a freestone rock, at the foot of which runs the river Avon, rendered it extremely well calculated for purposes of defence; and its castle, which is still, perhaps, the most magnificent fortified structure in this country, in former times was almost impregnable.
Warwick is situated in the midst of a pleasant champaign country, and is approached by four great roads, from the cardinal points, which are cut through the free-stone rock. Our engraving afTords a very favourable idea of the street-scenery of this place. In the distance is seen the beautiful tower of the church of St. Mary; the building in the centre is the County-Hall, and a portion of the County-Prison is seen on the extreme right. The streets are generally spacious and regular, and meet in the centre of the town, which is divided into the parishes of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, both in the diocese of Worcester.
A religious structure, dedicated to St. Mary, occupied the same place as the present, previously to the Conquest. It was partly rebuilt subsequently to that period, and rendered collegiate in conformity with the will of Henry de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, when a dean and secular canons were established therein. It was again rebuilt by Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, at the latter end of the fourteenth century; and in the middle of the fifteenth century, a chapel of extraordinary beauty, and richness of architectural decoration was added to it, as a place of sepulture for this munificent family.
In 1694, however, the entire structure, with the exception of the choir and the chapel alluded to, was destroyed by a disastrous fire, which consumed nearly the whole town of Warwick, and caused damage to the extent of nearly £120,000. The church was in a great measure rebuilt within ten years; but with the exception of the tower, which gives an impressive effect to the edifice on a distant view, the renovation was effected in the worst possible taste. The building is cruciform; its extreme length is 18C feet; its breadth 66 feet; and the transept measures about 106 feet. The tower, which rises to a height of 130 feet, springs from four pointed arches, under which the pathway is carried, and rising in several stages, terminates in six embellished pinnacles. The interior of the choir, which is in the most perfect state, is a very beautiful example of the decorated style of pointed (or English) architecture, of which it forms one of the most florid of existing specimens. The stalls on either side,—the lofty and elaborately-finished stone ceiling,—the many highlyinteresting monuments of one of the most illustrious English families which adorn it; and the "dim religious light" which is shed over the whole, are well calculated to elevate the thoughts to the contemplation of Him to whose honour it was built.
The most interesting feature in the structure, and which alone ought to obtain for it extensive celebrity, is the Chapel of our Lady, frequently called Beauchamp's Chapel, after its founder, already alluded to, of whose name, indeed, it is an honourable memorial. This beautiful building, which adjoins the south transept, has been pronounced to be, both "in
its external and internal embellishment, inferior only to the chapel of Henry the Seventh at Westminster." This is high praise, but it may be safely pronounced that there are few finer examples of the architectural skill of our forefathers now in existence. This fabric was completed in the third year of the reign of Edward the Fourth, at a cost of 2481/. 4*. 7$<L, apparently an insignificant sum; but it must be remembered, that wheat then sold at 3s. Ad. per quarter.
After glancing at the exterior, which is enriched with an open-work parapet, and buttresses of great beauty, we enter the principal room, which is 58 feet long, 25 feet wide, and rises to a height of 32 feet. The roof is richly groined, and enriched with fantracery. In the centre stands the monument of the founder, which has been pronounced by Mr. Britton, inferior to none in England except that of Henry the Seventh at Westminster Abbey. It is an altartomb of gray marble, most elaborately enriched with niches, and various decorations in the purest taste; on the slab is a figure of the Earl of Warwick, one of the distinguished characters of the fifteenth century, in the proportions of life, composed of brass, gilt. The splendid monument of another celebrated person, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester*, who died in 1588, is -an historical memento of high interest, especially to the readers of one of Sir Walter Scott's most touching stories, Kcnilworth. The altarscreen of the chapel is adorned with a basso relievo of the Annunciation of the Virgin; on either side of which is "a shrine of the most delicate and elaborate workmanship." The southern side of the apartment is richly worked in panels, and the east window adorned with painted glass, the designs on which are very curious, and include a portrait of the founder. An oratory, confessional, and other rooms well deserving of inspection, adjoin the edifice.
To the north of the church, is a venerable building called the chapter-house; which is appropriated to the somewhat opposite purposes of a mausoleum, and a national school; the latter being situated in what was formerly a chapel, in the upper story of the edifice. St. Mary's is a vicarage, in the patronage of the crown; it is valued iu the king's books at 20/. a year. The parish church of St. Nicholas, which was rebuilt about half a century since, is distinguished by a tower and spire, but it has no pretensions tu architectural beauty.
The County Hall is situated in Northgate street. The facade, which is constructed of freestone, is enriched with Corinthian pilasters, with a central portico of the same order, surmounted by a bold triangular pediment. The Hall, or principal room, is 110 feet in length, and 45 in width, and is very elegantly ornamented; the civil and criminal courts are on either side; Jhey are neat and commodious.
The exterior of the County Gaol which adjoins the hall, is also of stone, but the order is Doric. The bridewell for the county, adjoins this edifice, its internal arrangements and management arc equally deserving of commendation. The male prisoners are chiefly engaged in drawing and preparing wire, for the manufacture of pins, which are headed by the boys and women. Amongst the curiosities of the place, is a large oven, capable of baking 400 loaves at one time. The Town Sessions-House (in which are assembly-rooms,) in High-Street, is also a neat edifice, in the Grecian style of architecture, well calculated for public purposes. Warwick was made a corporate town in 1554; its population, according to the census of 1831, is 9109.
• 6eeS«twrd*|r Magtuint, Vol. I., p. 101.