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the opinion with great hesitation, for the double purpose of affording a caution which can be attended with no injurious effects to those exposed to the secret workings of this silent agent, and to invite those more competent to investigate the subject.
ANIMAL PLANT-TARTAREAN LAMB. This strange plant is said to be a native of the regions watered by the rivers Don and Wolga, and to flourish in the wastes of Chinese Tartary. If it had not received a formidable pame from the learned collectors of vegetable productions, and obtained a place among the less wonderful creations of nature, we might be disposed to consider the descriptions of its figure and the accounts of its properties, as entitled only to rank with the thousand and one tales invented by fabulous travellers for their own amusement and the entertainment of their credulous readers. But as testimonies come from authorities so high we are bound to accept them as firm truths.
The curious stem is represented as pushed out of the earth by the lower branches, so as to give it the appearance of a sheep, all the limbs of which are discoverable. The body is covered with a thick skin like that of a new born lamb, and is clothed with a golden moss, which serves to protect it from the severe cold of the Northern regions, where it has chosen its residence. A projection, like a peck, is bent down to the earth, and renders more perfect its resemblance to the animal species. It has even been said that it possesses the appetite, as well as the form of a quadruped, and feeds on the grasses around: but it is now agreed that these more tender plants are destroyed by the spreading of the root fibres, and are not actually devoured by the chimerical sheep.
the chimerical sheep. When the fruit arrives to maturity, the stalk witbers; it yields a juice resembling blood in its color. The Wolf, somewhat of an epicure in his food, is more fond of its taste than of the flavor of real mutton ; a luxurious refinement which is improved by the Muscovites to decoy this piratical marauder within their power, and affords them opportunities of executiog the sentence of death upon the offender, for his felonies against their flocks.
This singular production seems properly to hold an intermediate station between the tribe of mushrooms, which spring in the
Aspidium Barometz. Wildenow. Sp. Plant. 110. Polypodium Bale ometz. Lin. Spect. Plant.
midst of corruption, with quaint and strange shapes, presenting neither leaves nor flowers to ornament their stems, and the ferns, which rise in wild and unfrequented places, with elegant forms and singular aspect, furnishing no visible seeds to perpetuate their races. Many delineations of its appearance, in prints and engravings, have been placed in scientific books; but probably none more descriptive, or more fanciful than the poetical picture drawn by Darwin in bis Botanical Garden, II. 280.
- Cradled in snow, and favned by arctic air,
THE FRINGED GENTIAN_HAIR BELL.* The autumn of the New England year is more remarkable for the bright tints scattered over its fading leaves, than for the profusion of its opening blossoms. Yet there are a few beautiful flowers which linger behind their companions to shed their perfume on the sudny days of that sober season, and, perhaps, look more lovely, bending to the passing wind in their solitary bowers, when the Rose, the Lily, and the gay children of spring, have retired to their winter rest. Among these pone are more delicate than the Gentians, which do not unfold their buds until September or October, and none more graceful and elegant than that sister of the family commonly known by the names placed above, and distinguished by Botanists with the appellation written below. This modest plant is frequently found on the open hill sides, though sometimes it creeps under the shelter of the woods. It is often gathered on the little island hillocks of our meadows, when the water that surrounds the spot where it fixes its roots, is half covered with ice.
It is exceeded by few of the vegetable tribe so profusely spread over our fields in richness of coloring, or delicacy of form. The stem is erect, and seldom exceeds eight or ten inches in stature. It is thinly covered with pale green, lance shaped leaves, springing opposite to each other. Towards the top it is divided into several branches crowned with flowers of a fine deep purple, bordered
*Gentiana Crinita-Corollas four cleft, the segments sub-ciliate-leaves lanceolate, acute: stem erect, round.
with a little fringe of the same hue. As the sun rises they expand till they resemble inverted bells in appearance ; when his descend ing rays fall upon them, the coralla gradually twist together, and are thus protected from the night frosts.
Its medicinal properties are said to be few and simple. The root possesses a bitter taste, and sometimes is sold by apothecaries, instead of the imported plant of more powerful virtues : an innocent deception practised by the professors of the pestle and mortar, who if common report be not untrue, do occasionally substitute a native of milder power for foreign drug of more nauseous taste; influenced, as we may charitably believe, by the benevolent wish to soften human suffering, in the change from a remedy whose effects might be too painful. It is said to increase the appetite and enable the organs of digestion to proceed more easily in their operations.
THE GINSENG. The Chinese writers, as their words are translated by those who have decyphered the endless byerogliphics of tạe language, declare in the bold extravagance of Oriental expression, that the root of the Ginseng, is the best gift of heaven ; a noble bequest, of the celestial deities transplanted from the gardens of paradise to adorn the earth, and bestowed on mortals by a beneficent providence to compensate all the sufferings of man's estate : the food of immortality: a remedy for every ill Aesh inherits by descent : wholesome for the weakness of the frail body: refreshing for the memory: soothing the mind : calming the wild passions: and bestowing inexpressible delights. Having such an exalted opinion of its virtues, the right of collecting it is conferred on the Emperor, and the exclusive monopoly is protected by a penalty no less than perpetual slavery, as a punishment for digging a single fibre witbout the royal permission. The district where it flourishes is protected by a cordon of sentinels, and surrounded by a line of stakes. Guards patrol during the season of its growth, to secure the territory from the intrusion of the inhabitants, and to seize the depredators, whose love of gain may entice them to brave every danger in procuring a drug worth its weight in Gold. The reigning dynasty employs a small army of Tartars in its botanical service. Each
* Panax Quinquefolium. Root susiform: leaves three, quinate: leafets. oral, acuminate, serate, petioled. Bigelow's Flor. Bos. 375.
man is obliged to furnish to bis Majesty, about two ounces, and to sell him the remainder he may collect for its weight in pure silver. They go forth to scour the desert with no other provision than a bag of parched millet, and spreading themselves out in a long line at equal distances from each otber, traverse the whole country. If any one is lost in the wilderness,or devoured by the wild beasts, bis companions search for a short space, and then continue their march. The duty is performed in about six months and yields to the Emperor annually about 20,000 pounds of the valuaable root, considered by the physicians as containing wonderful medical virtues, and esteemed by the mandarios as an invaluable luxury.
The plant, the object of so mnch extravagant fondness, superstitious regard, and strange esteem, with this peculiar nation, is scattered through the United States from the great Lakes of the Northern boundary to a latitude far South. In the Northern and Middle sections, it flourishes freely, and the only portion which is esteemed valuable has been exported to Asia ; but has not commaoded the enormous price borne by the Chinese root, not having been prepared with sufficient skill to suit the fastidious purchasers.
In external appearance no mysterious properties, or superior efficacy, is indicated by excelling beauty or excessive deformity. The Ginseng so closely resembles the common Sassaparilla* that the one would be mistaken for the other on hasty examination. A single, round, green stem shoots up, and is regularly divided at the top into three leaves, each composed of five leafets, indented along the margin, of a fair green above and a paler tint beneath. A slender stalk rises at the parting of the leaves, supporting a simple umbel of little flowers in summer, and a bunch of kidoey shaped berries of a bright scarlet color in autumn. The root consists of a fleshy, oblong portion, of a whitish color, covered with wrinkles, and terminating in fibres. The successive years of its growth are marked by rings. The taste is pleasant, having an agreeable mixture of sweet and bitter with an aromatic flavor. Its medicinal virtues are very feeble, and its use with physicians is, rather to moderate the action and conceal the bitterness of other drugs, than to operate by its own powers. It is sometimes employed as an innocent refreshment, instead of " the pernicious beast, Tobacco." L.
* Aralia nudicaulie.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE ARMY,
ON THE DEPRECIATION OF THE CURRENCY.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 199.
And be it further enacted, That if the General Court shall not, some time before the first day of August, in each of the years before mentioned, respectively agree and conclude upon an act, ap. portioning the said sum to be paid in such year respectively ; then and in such case, each town, and other place in this state, shall pay by a tax to be levied on the polls and estates within their limits, respectively, the same proportion of said sum, as such town or other place was taxed by the General Court in the tax act, then next preceding. And the Treasurer of this State, is hereby empowered and directed, some time in the month of August in every such year, to issue and send forth his warrants directed to the Selecimen or Assessors of each town or other incorporated place within this State, or to some suitable person or persons in such place or places therein as are not incorporated, requiring them to assess the polls and estates, within their several towns and other places, for their respective parts and proportions of the sums, before directed and engaged to be assessed, to be paid into the treasury, on or before the 20th day of December, in such year, respectively; and the Assessors as also all persons thereby assessed, shall observe, be gove erned by, and subject to, all such rules and directions as shall hare been given in the then last preceding tax act.
Provided nevertheless, That if the General Court shall make provision for the redemption of the notes, which may be issued in consequence of this act, before the several years respectively, on which the tax granted hereby, is ordered to be laid, then the clause granting said tax, together with the other clauses grounded thereon, to be void, otherwise to remain in force.
Provided also, That in all cases where the balance due to any officer and soldier, shall not exceed the sum of one hundred pounds, the Treasurer is directed to issue one note only, for the whole balance, and the times of payment shall be the same as the second payment would be where it was made in four notes. And in case of death or removal out of the County of any of the persons herein