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Coral ceases to grow when the worm, that forms it, is not exposed to the washing of the sea. Coral rocks, therefore, never exceed the highest tide; when the tide subsides, they appear firm and compact, exceedingly hard and rugged. But no sooner does the water return, than these insects are observed peeping out of holes, which were before invisible ; and their reefs rise perpendicularly from the very bed of the ocean to the surface a.
The nature of corals and corallines was first discovered by Mr. Ellis. “ Your discoveries,” said Linnæus, in a letter from Upsal, to that philosopher , “ may be said to vie with with astonishment, and I adored in silent admiration the omnipotence of God, who had given even to these minute animals the power to construct such a work. My thoughts were confounded, when I considered the immense series of years that must elapse, before such an island can rise from the fathomless abyss of the ocean, and become visible on the surface. At a future period they will assume another shape ; all the islands will join, and form a circular slip of earth, with a pond or lake in the circle ; and this form will again change, as these animals continue building, till they reach the surface, and then the water will one day vanish, and only one great island be visible. It is a strange feel. ing, to walk about on a living island, where all below is actively at work. And to what corner of the earth can we penetrate, where human beings are not already to be found ? In the remotest regions of the north, amidst mountains of ice; under the burning sun of the equator; nay, even in the middle of the ocean, on islands which have been formed by animals, they are met with ! ”
a The coral islands of the Pacific rise from the 30th parallel of south latitude, to 30th of north latitude. “Of the rapidity with which the coral grows, we are not in possession of sufficient information, on which to form a correct judgment. Osnaburg Island is supposed to have been only a reef of rocks, when the Matilda was wrecked there, in 1792 ; it is now an island, fourteen miles in length, and covered on one side with tall trees, and the lagoon in the centre is dotted with columns. The coral, therefore, has, probably, made a rapid growth since 1792, although Captain Beechey found two anchors, of a ton weight each, and a kedge anchor, which he supposes belonged to the Matilda, thrown upon the sunken reef of live coral, and around these anchors the coral had made no progress in growing, while some large shell-fish, adhering to the same rock, were so overgrown with coral, as to have only space enough left to open about an inch. It is probable, however, that the oxide proceeding from the anchors may have been prejudicial, as far as its effects extended, to the coral insect, and thus have prevented its growth. All navigators, who have visited these seas, state that no charts or maps are of any service after a few years, owing to the number of fresh rocks and reefs which are continually rising to the surface; and it is perfectly accordant with the instincts of animals, to continue working without intermission, until their labours are consummated, or their lives are extinct.”—Anon
b Nov. 8, 1769.
those of Columbus. He found out America, or a new India, in the west; you have laid open hitherto unknown Indies in the depths of the ocean.”
VEGETABLE PROGRESSION. . MANY vegetables are so attached to climates and soils, that, if transplanted without peculiar attention to their relative economy, they die a. In this they associate with certain animals. But when they have once become habituated to the change, both plants and subjugated animals improve under the care and industry of man; sometimes even more than under the influence of soil or climate. How much cultivation will effect is evident from the circumstance, that (in 1820) a cowslip grew in a garden, at Heytesbury, the stem of which rose to the height of a foot; and, measuring an inch round, contained 150 pips. There was, also, a beautiful auricula, growing in May, 1821, in the garden of Mr. Tanby of Bath, having eight distinct stalks, combined in one flat stem, completely incorporated together; and bearing a calyx, containing 107 petals. In a field, belonging to Mr. Oakley of Halford, near Ludlow, a pea produced 105 pods; and a grain of oats having accidentally fallen on a quantity of burnt clay in a field, belonging to Mr. Juckes of Cocknage, produced 19 stems, and the astonishing number of 2,345 grains b.
a M. Humboldt has observed, that “certain forms become more common from the equator to the pole; like ferns, glumaceæ, and rhododendrons, &c. Other forms increase from the poles to the equator; as the rubiaceæ, malvaceæ, and the composite plants; others attain their maximum in the temperate zone, and diminish both towards the poles and the equator ; as the amentaceæ, cruciferæ, and umbelliferæ.” A highly interesting work might be written on the subject of in what manner the European, Asiatic, African, and American mountains harmonize or differ in respect to their minerals, plants, insects, reptiles, fishes, birds, and quadrupeds.
• In the year 1827, there grew on the farm of Bents, parish of Kirkmichael, Dumfriesshire, a root of rye, size of a Portugal onion, from which sprung sixty-six stalks, each provided with a well-filled head. It was allowed to ripen, and when pulled up, the grains were counted, and found to amount to the amazing number of four thousand and ninety-six pickles – perhaps the greatest quantity ever produced from one grain of rye. Mr. Crow discovered the plant early in the season, and many witnessed the phenomenon when growing. Anon.
At the seat of Sir William Folkes; a snake-melon grew to so large a size as to measure 8 feet 6 inches ; and near Lord Glastonbury's, at Shillington, there was a mushroom, the circumference of which was 27 feet; diameter, 10 inches ; depth, 3 inches ; stalk, '64 round; and its length 6 inches. Another mushroom was gathered near Brigg, the weight of which was 29 ounces. Mr. Martell, of Southsea, Hants, cut a cucumber, 5 feet in length; Sir Mark Wood pulled a St. Germain pear, which measured 16. inches by 15 ; and weighed two pounds! Mr. Pleasance brought an apple to perfection, which weighed one pound one ounce, measuring 12 inches ; and a currant has been reared in Cambridgeshire, the fruit of which was so large, that a single berry weighed 61 grains; measuring two inches and a half. A pumpkin was seen in the shop of Mr. Warne, Dean Street, Red Lion Square, which measured 7 feet 10 inches round; and another was grown in the garden of Mr. Hoare of Luscombe, which measured 9 feet 3 inches. In the garden of the poor-house, at Heligoland, was a horsebean, having 126 pods, containing 399 good beans. The Honourable F. G. Howard had a bunch of grapes, weighing 15 pounds; and at Hampton Court Palace, a vine in a grapehouse produced in one year 2,200 bunches of grapes, averaging one pound each. This wonderful produce reminds us of a tradition of St. John, recorded by Irenæus, where Christ is made to say, “ The days shall come, in which there shall be vines, which shall have each 10,000 branches ; and every of those branches shall have 10,000 lesser branches; and every of these 10,000 twigs ; and every of these twigs 10,000 clusters of grapes ; and every one of these grapes shall yield 275 gallons of wine a.”
Many islands have lost years of strength and labour from not sufficiently attending to the adaptation of plant to climate, soil, and phenomena. Thus, had St. Jago been planted with indigo, the fan-palm, and other exotics, it might, probably, have escaped the effects of many storms, to which it has been so fatally subjected. Previous to Lord Macartney's visit, little rain had fallen for three years; and the island, rendered almost as barren as a rock, was reduced to great privation and distress. In the midst of this devastation, palm-trees flourished in the sand ; indigo plants were healthy; and the sugar maple in perfect verdure. The Asclepias gigantea was in luxuriant flower; the physic nut, the Adansonia, and the great fan-palm, also, flourished vigorously. The negligence in this particular is the less to be excused, since, poor as this island is in native productions, it has successfully adopted every plant, that has been introduced into it.
a Irenæus. B. v. c. 33.
The laurel and the bay a were supposed to be exempt from injury by storms. Pliny even says of the former, that it has a virtuous property against the effects of pestilence and venomous animals. Be these as they may, it is certain, that sycamores will grow by the sea-shore, where other trees have failed : and it is no less certain, that camphor-trees generally outlive the most violent hurricanes. In 1773, there was a violent monsoon in the Isle of France, when Mr. Poiare, who had the care of the botanic garden, observed, that though every other tree was rooted up, a young camphor was left, not only uninjured, but apparently untouched. This tree is indigenous in China and Japan; and is found in those countries to be little affected either by winds or monsoons.
VEGETABLE EMIGRATIONS. The first patron of vegetable importation in Europe was * “Neyther falling sicknesse, neyther dryll infest or hurt one in that place where a bay-tree is.”—Lupton's Syxt Booke of Notable Things.
b Nat. Hist. lib. ix. © This tree is not the Sumatra camphor-tree, which is peculiar to that island and Borneo. It affords camphor in a concrete as well as oily state; and it is found in crystallised masses in the fissures and cavities of the tree.
Cosmo I. of Tuscany. The cork-tree, unknown in Italy in the time of Pliny, had previously been introduced from Barbary : but he imported a multitude of exotics from America, Africa, and the Levant; from whose collection many of the botanic gardens of European princes were afterwards enriched.
All the more valuable productions of the West Indies came originally from the East. The olive was known in the time of Moses round Mount Ararat : but now it is found in no country less distant than from three to four hundred miles. The Morea abounds in this plant. In ancient times it was dedicated to Minerva ; because, producing oil of the best flavour, it was esteemed an act of wisdom to preserve it not only for domestic uses, but as a staple for exportation. In the time of Evander it was introduced into Italya. The Spaniards b planted the olive in South America. They then interdicted its culture; but afterwards rescinded the regulation. They also introduced many European fruits and plants. Labat says, that a Spaniard seldom eats fruit in a wood, but he plants in return a stone or a pip.
The vine being planted in Chili, its seeds were abundantly propagated by birds d. When the rose was first planted in Peru, it shot so luxuriantly, that it would not blossomo. Being, however, accidentally burnt to the ground, new shoots sprang up and succeeded. From Peru this exotic was transplanted to Chili, where it grows upon the hills, and flourishes without thorns.
M. D'Ogeron planted the cocoa in the French settlement of St. Domingo, in 1656. This had increased, in 1715, to
a Jefferson introduced it into the United States. b Antonio de Ribera.
• Brackenbridge, Voy. i. p. 263. d For the progress of the vine from the time of Homer, see Gibbon, i. 85.
e No author, previous to Herodotus, mentions the double rose. These, with sixty leaves, and more than common fragrance, were in the gardens of Midas, in Macedonia. But Herodotus speaks of it as a rarity. Lib. viii.
* The prickles of the rose-plant proceed from the bark ; but thorns proceed from the wood, as in the hawthorn.