Зображення сторінки

are found on spring barley in the proportion of three to two, one ear frequently yielding forty or more grains. These are disposed in six rows, two of these being on each of two sides, and one row on each of the other sides.


Ear and Plant of Two-rowed Barley. LONG-EARED BARLEY, sometimes called TwoROWED BARLEY-Hordeum distichonis partially cultivated in every part of England, and is a very good sort. Some persons object to it, that the ears being long and heavy, it is more apt to lodge than other kinds. The grains are regularly disposed in a double row, lying over each other like tiles on a roof, or like the scales of fishes. The ear is somewhat flatted, being transversely greater in breadth than in thickness. The husk of the grain is thin, and its malting qualities are excellent.

its awns

SPRAT or BATTLEDORE BARLEY-Hordeum zeocriton has shorter and broader ears than either of the sorts already described ;

or beards are longer, so that birds cannot so easily get out the grains, which also lie closer together than those of other kinds. Sprat barley seldom, if ever, grows so tall as either of the other species, and its straw is not only shorter, but coarser, so as to render it not desirable for use as fodder.

It was formerly the universal practice in this country to sow barley in the spring. The end of March or beginning of April was the more usual time, but the sowing was sometimes deferred to the beginning of May. The practice in this respect has somewhat varied of late, and a more early season has been chosen for sowing, so that it is not uncommon for the process to be performed in January, under the idea that the produce in such cases is greater. In the county of Norfolk, where the cultivation of barley is carried forward very extensively, and with the greatest skill, the farmers were formerly guided in their choice of seed time by a maxim which had long been handed down to them from father to son:

“ When the oak puts on his gosling grey,

'Tis time to sow barley night and day;" meaning, that when the oak exhibits the grey appearance which accompanies the bursting of its buds, a few days preceding the expansion of the leaves, it is then improper to lose any time in getting their seed-barley into the ground. The budding and leafing of the birch trees is, in Sweden, considered an indication of the proper time for barley-sowing. In different countries there are, of course, different natural guides in the operations of husbandry ; but an intelligent and observing farmer, in every country, will not fail to regard those which have been sanctioned by experience; while the agriculturist, who is bound by a servile adherence to particular months and even weeks for his operations, will unwisely treat as old saws such relics of the practical skill of öur forefathers as the lines we have quoted. Linnæus, the great Swedish naturalist, constantly exhorted his countrymen to observe at what time each tree unfolds its buds and expands its leaves. In our own country, Mr. Stillingfleet, an eminent naturalist, made a series of very accurate observations upon this interesting appearance of the spring. A farmer who would keep a calendar of Nature in the same manner for a few years, and at the same time register his days of sowing and the issue of his harvest, would secure, no doubt, a valuable collection of rules for his guidance, peculiarly applicable to the exact circumstances of situation and soil amidst which he pursues his calling *.

The produce of barley, according to the quality of the soil, is from three to four quarters to the acre. A larger produce is not unfrequent; and even so much as seven quarters have been reaped in very favourable seasons and situations.

The average weight of a Winchester bushel of barley is between fifty and fifty-one pounds, and the same measure of bigg weighs but little more than forty-six pounds. It is very seldom that the former is found to weigh beyond fifty-two, or the latter beyond forty-eight pounds to the bushel. The average length of a grain of barley, taking the mean of many thousand measurements, is 0.345 inch, while that of a grain of bigg is 0.3245 inch. The medium length of these two species gives, therefore, as nearly as

* See Howitt's Book of the Seasons, p. 99.

possible one-third of an inch, which agrees with the lowest denomination or basis the barleycorn of our linear measure *.

The purposes to which barley is principally applied in this kingdom are those of brewing and distilling. Some portion is still brought more directly into consumption as human food; but this portion, for the most part, now undergoes the previous process of decortication (removal of the bark), whereby it is converted into what is called Scotch or pearl barley. This grain, in its raw state, is also used to some extent for feeding poultry and fattening swine, for which latter purpose it is commonly converted into meal. The ancients were accustomed to feed their horses upon barley, as is the case among the Spaniards to the present day; and Pliny relates (Book xviii. c. 7,) that the Roman gladiators were called Hordearii, from their use of this grain as food.

The use of barley in the preparation of a fermented liquor dates from the very remotest times. The invention of this preparation is ascribed to the Egyptians by ancient Greek writers, one of whom, Dioscorides, attributes the first cultivation of barley to the same people, under the guidance of Osiris ; while Herodotus informs us that the people of Egypt, being without vines, made their wine from barley t. Pliny, in his Natural History, gives the Egyptian name of this liquid as Zythum 1. An intoxicating liquor is still made from this grain, both in Egypt and Nubia, to which the name of bouzah is given. This is of very general consumption among the lower rank of people. Burckhardt observed another use to which barley is applied in the latter

* Supp. Encyc. Brit., Art. Brewing. + Lib. ii, cap. 78.

Nat. Hist. lib. xxii. c. 25.

country. The green ears are boiled in water, and served up to be eaten with milk. Among the Greeks beer was distinguished as barley wine, a name which sufficiently identifies the intoxicating property of the liquid, and the material whence this was drawn. From a passage in Tacitus we learn that the German people were, in his day, acquainted with the process of preparing beer from malted grain; and Pliny describes a similar liquid under the name of Cerevisia, an appellation which it retained in Latin books of more recent date. It farther appears that malt liquor has formed an article of manufacture and consumption in this country for a period at least coeval with the time of Tacitus; but we do not know whether any one kind of grain was exclusively employed in its preparation, or whether wheat and barley were not used for the purpose, either indiscriminately or in conjunction.

The general drinks of the Anglo-Saxons were ale and mead: wine was a luxury for the great.

In the Saxon Dialogues preserved in the Cotton Library in the British Museum, a boy, who is questioned upon his habits and the uses of things, says, in answer to the inquiry what he drank—"Ale if I have it, or water if I have it not.” He adds, that wine is the drink “ of the elders and the wise." Ale was sold to the people, as at this day, in houses of entertainment; for a priest was forbidden by a law to eat or drink at ceapealethetum, literally, places where ale was sold *.? After the Norman conquest, wine became more commonly used ; and the vine was extensively cultivated in England. The people, however, held to the beverage of their forefathers with great pertinacity; and neither the juice of the grape nor of the apple were ever general favourites. The

[ocr errors]

* Turner's' Anglo-Saxons, vol. iii. p. 32.

« НазадПродовжити »