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backward, like a stocking, or woman's glove.* Not only the whole skin, but scales from the very eyes, are peeled off, and appear in the head of the slough like a pair of spectacles. The reptile, at the time of changing his coat, had entangled himself intricately in the grass and weeds, so that the friction of the stalks and blades might promote this curious shifting of his exuvie
- “ Lubrica serpens Exuit in spinis vestem.”—LUCRET.
Smooth serpents that in thickets leave their skin. It would be a most entertaining sight, could a person be an eyewitness to such a feat, and see the snake in the act of changing his garment. As the convexity of the scales of the eyes in the slough is now inward, that circumstance alone is a proof that the skin has been turned: not to mention that now the present inside is much darker than the outer. If you look through the scales of the snake's eyes from the concave side, viz. as the reptile used them, they lessen objects much. Thus it appears, from what has been said, that snakes crawl out of the mouth of their own sloughs, and quit the tail part last, just as eels are skinned by a cook-maid. While the scales of the eyes are growing loose, and a new skin is forming, the creature, in appearance, must be blind, and feel itself in an awkward, uneasy situation.
I have seen many sloughs, or skins of snakes, entire, after they have cast them off; and once, in particular, I remember to have found one of these sloughs so intricately interwoven amongst some brakes, that it was with difficulty removed without being broken : this undoubtedly was done by the creature to assist in getting rid of its encumbrance.
I have great reason to suppose that the eft, or common lizard, also casts its skin, or slough, but not entire like the snake ; for, on the 30th of March, 1777, I saw one with something ragged hanging to it, which appeared to be part of its old skin.
* “ The snake, renew'd in all his speckled pride
Of pompous youth, has cast his slough aside ;
OBSERVATIONS ON VEGETABLES.
TREES, ORDER OF LOSING THEIR LEAVES.
ONE of the first trees that become naked is the walnut; the mulberry, the ash, especially if it bears many keys, and the horse-chestnut come next. All lopped trees, while their heads are young, carry their leaves a long while. Apple-trees and peaches remain green very late, often till the end of November : young beeches never cast their leaves till spring, till the new leaves sprout and push them off: in the autumn, the beechen leaves turn of a deep chestnut colour. Tall beeches cast their leaves about the end of October.
SIZE AND GROWTH.—Mr. Marsham, of Stratton, near Norwich, informs me by letter thus : “I became a planter early; so that an oak, which I planted in 1720, is become now, at one foot from the earth, 12 feet 6 inches in circumference, and at 14 feet (the half of the timber length), is 8 feet 2 inches. So, if the bark were to be measured as timber, the tree gives 116} feet, buyer's measure. Perhaps you never heard of a larger oak, while the planter was living. I flatter myself that I increased the growth by washing the stem, and digging a circle as far as I supposed the roots to extend, and by spreading sawdust, &c., as related in the Phil. Trans. I wish I had begun with beeches (my favourite trees, as well as yours); I might then have seen very large trees of my own raising. But I did not begin with beech till 1741, and then by seed; so that my largest is now 5 feet from the ground, 6 feet 3 inches in girth, and, with its head, spreads a circle of 20 yards diameter. This tree was also dug round, washed, &c. Stratton, 24th July, 1790.”
The circumference of trees planted by myself, at one foot from the ground (1790) :
The great oak in the Holt, which is deemed by Mr. Marsham to be the biggest in this island, at 7 feet from the ground, measures, in circumference, 34 feet. It has, in old times, lost several of its boughs, and is tending to decay. Mr. Marsham computes that, at 14 feet length, this oak contains 1000 feet of timber.
It has been the received opinion that trees grow in height only by their annual upper shoot. But my neighbour over the way, whose occupation confines him to one spot, assures me that trees are expanded and raised in the lower parts also. The reason that he gives is this : the point of one of my firs began, for the first time, to peer over an opposite roof at the beginning of summer ; but, before the growing season was over, the whole shoot of the year, and three or four joints of the body beside, became visible to him as he sits on his form in his shop. According to this supposition, a tree may advance in height considerably, though the summer shoot should be destroyed every year.
FLOWING OF SAP.-If the bough of a vine is cut late in the spring, just before the shoots push out, it will bleed considerably; but, after the leaf is out, any part may be taken off without the least inconvenience. So oaks may be barked while the leaf is budding; but, as soon as they are expanded, the bark will no longer part from the wood, because the sap that lubricates the bark, and makes it part, is evaporated off through the leaves.
WHITE. RENOVATION OF LEAVES.— When oaks are quite stripped of their leaves by chaffers, they are clothed again soon after midsummer with a beautiful foliage; but beeches, horse
chestnuts, and maples, once defaced by those insects, never recover their beauty again for the whole season. *
AsH TREES.—Many ash trees bear loads of keys every year; others never seem to bear any at all. The prolific ones are naked of leaves, and unsightly; those that are sterile abound in foliage, and carry their verdure a long while, and are pleasing objects.
BEECH.—Beeches love to grow in crowded situations, and will insinuate themselves through the thickest covert, so as to surmount it all: they are therefore proper to mend thin places in tall hedges.
SYCAMORE.—May 12.—The sycamore, or great maple, is in bloom, and at this season makes a beautiful appearance, and affords much pabulum for bees, smelling strongly like honey. The foliage of this tree is very fine, and very ornamental to outlets. All the maples have saccharine juices.
GALLS OF LOMBARDY POPLAR.–The stalks and ribs of the leaves of the Lombardy poplar are embossed with large tumours of an oblong shape, which, by incurious observers, have been taken for the fruit of the tree. These galls are full of small insects, some of which are winged, and some not. The parent insect is of the genus of cynips. Some poplars in the garden are quite loaded with these excrescences.
CHESTNUT TIMBER.—John Carpenter brings home some
*. .. “See, the fading, many-coloured woods,
Shade, deepening over shade, the country round
A gentler mood inspires; for now the leaf
old chestnut trees, which are very long ; in several places the woodpeckers had begun to bore them. The timber and bark of these trees are so very like oak, as might easily deceive an indifferent observer; but the wood is very shakey, and, towards the heart cup-shakey (that is to say, apt to separate in round pieces like cups), so that the inward parts are of no use. They are bought for the purpose of cooperage, but must make but ordinary barrels, buckets, &c. Chestnut sells for half the price of oak; but has sometimes been sent into the king's dock, and passed off instead of oak.
LIME BLOSSOMS.—Dr. Chandler tells, that in the south of France an infusion of the blossoms of the lime-tree (tilia) is in much esteem as a remedy for coughs, hoarsenesses, fevers, &c.; and that at Nismes, he saw an avenue of limes that was quite ravaged and torn in pieces by people greedily gathering the bloom, which they dried and kept for these purposes.
Upon the strength of the information, we made some tea of lime blossoms, and found it a very soft, well-flavoured, pleasant, saccharine julep, in taste much resembling the juice of liquorice.
BLACKTHORN.—This tree usually blossoms while cold N.E. winds blow; so that the harsh rugged weather obtaining at this season, is called by the country people blackthorn winter. *
Ivy BERRIES.—Ivy berries afford a noble and providential supply for birds in winter and spring; for the first severe frost freezes and spoils all the haws, sometimes by the middle of November. Ivy berries do not seem to freeze.
*“Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields,
And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race