Page images
PDF
EPUB

:

put into small bags and strongly pressed, when it is ready for the market. The nuts, which are still covered with a woody shell, are exposed to the sun for some days, afterwards dried before a fire, and then beaten with small sticks to remove the shell, which flies off in pieces. The nutmegs thus prepared are subjected to another process, before being ready for exportation ; to prevent the depredation of insects, they are immersed two or three times in a mixture of lime and salt water, afterwards laid in a heap, where they heat, and after having sweated sufficiently they are prepared for a sea voyage.

The Cinnamon Tree, whose bark yields the well known and highly esteemed spice, is a native of Ceylon, and rises to the height of twenty or thirty feet. The cinnamon is obtained from the inner bark of the tree, and the strongest and best kind is got from the small branches, which do not exceed an inch in diameter. The leaves and other parts of the tree yield the same delicate flavour as the bark, and may be employed for similar purposes. In Ceylon the cinnamon trees are barked twice in the year ; the first, or great harvest, continues from April to August, and the second, or small harvest, from November to January. Branches of three years old are lopped off; and the epidermis, or outer bark, being removed by scraping with a knife, the twigs are ripped up lengthwise, and the bark is gradually loosened till it slips off. Smaller tubes or quills of peeled bark are inserted in those of larger diameter, which, as they dry, roll up close together. They are afterwards tied up in bundles, and are ready for the market. The Dutch long monopolised the trade in cinnamon. The first introduction of this plant into the British Colony was in 1782, when some cinnamon trees were found in a collection of East India plants in a French ship from the Isle of France bound for St Domingo, which was captured by Admiral Rodney. The collection was carried to Jamaica, and two of the cinnamon trees planted, from which have been produced many hundreds of young trees, now thriving in every part of the Island, and bearing bark of the finest quality.

Pimenta, Jamaica Pepper, or Allspice Tree, is a native of the West India Islands. This fine tree, which grows spontaneously and abundantly in Jamaica, rises to the height of thirty feet, and is remarkable for the beauty of its leaves, which are of a deep shining green. The Pimenta plantations are chiefly on the north side of the Island; and nothing can exceed the fragrance which is exhaled from these spicy groves.

Soon after the trees are in blossom, the berries are fit for gathering, for they are not suffered to ripen on the tree; they are then collected and spread on a terrace, and being exposed to the sun for about a week, they are ready for the market. A single tree sometimes yields a hundred-weight of dried spice; and more than 170,000lb. weight are annually exported from Jamaica. The name Allspice is derived from the smell and taste, resembling that of a mixture of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmegs.

The Ginger-plant has something of the habit of a grass in its appearance, and grows to the height of two, and sometimes three feet; it is a native of the East Indies, and is extensively cultivated in the West Indies, where it is planted in March or April, flowers about September, and when the stalks have withered about the end of the year, the roots are dug up in January and February following. The roots of

ginger, on account of which it is cultivated, furnish a well-known and excellent spice. The black and the white ginger are the roots of the same plant, and differ only in the selection and mode of curing. The larger roots are chosen for the white ginger; and each root being washed and scraped separately, is dried in the sun. The whole remaining roots of the crop, after being picked and cleaned, are put into baskets, dipped into boiling water, and after being scalded, are dried on a platform, and put up in bags for the market, under the name of black ginger. The young roots of ginger constitute one of the most delicious pre

When intended for this purpose, the roots are dug up while they are tender and full of sap, carefully picked and washed, and after being scraped and peeled, they are put into jars, and covered with syrup, which is sometimes changed two or three times.

Encyclopedia Edinensis.

serves.

VII.-GRAMINIVOROUS ANIMALS.

GRAMINIVOROUS Animals are as different from the carnivorous kinds, in their structure, as in their dispositions and habits. The sharp pointed teeth of the latter enable them to seize and hold their prey, while the broad cutting teeth of the horse, the ox, the sheep, and the deer, qualify this tribe for browsing upon their pasture, enabling them to bite close where it is short, which the horse and sheep can do, in a degree that one could hardly expect.

There are but three animals of the horse kind, the horse, the ass, and the zebra.

Of all quadruped animals the Horse seems the most beautiful; his noble size, the glossy snioothness of his skin, the graceful ease of his motions, and the exact symmetry of his shape, have taught us to regard him as the first, and as the most perfectly formed. To have an idea of this noble animal in his native simplicity, we are not to look for him in the pastures or the stables to which he has been consigned by man; but in those wild and extenbive plains where he ranges without control. There were at one time wild horses in Europe, but they have long been brought totally under subjection; and even those which are found in America, are of a Spanish breed, which, being sent thither upon its first discovery, have since become wild, and have spread over all the south of that vast continent, almost to the straits of Magellan. These, in general, are a small breed, of about fourteen hands high. They are caught by a kind of noose, called a lasso, then held fast by the legs, and tied to a tree, where they are left for two days, without food or drink. By this time they begin to grow manageable; and in a few weeks become as tame as if they never had been in a state of wildness. Should they by any accident be once more set at liberty, they never become wild again, but know their masters, and come to their call. It is not, however, in the new, but in the old world, that we are to look for the horse in a true state of nature; in the extensive deserts of Africa, in Arabia, and the wide spread plains of Tartary. The wild horses to the north of China are a weak and timid breed; those at the Cape of Good Hope, are small, vicious, and untameable. But of all countries in the world, where the horse runs wild, Arabia produces the most beautiful. They are found, though not in great numbers, in the deserts of that country; and the natives use every stratagem to take them. They are not very large, but their swiftness is slmost incredible, so that any attempt to pursue them in the usual manner of the chase would be utterly fruitless. The only method, therefore, of taking them, is by traps hidden in the sand, which entangling their feet, the hunter at length comes up and secures them. It is not without great assiduity, and repeated trials of all the best horses in different parts of the world, that the English horses have attained their present high superiority. An English horse is known to excel the Arabian in size and swiftness, to be more durable than the Barb, and more hardy than the Persian. An ordinary racer is ascertained to go at the rate of a mile in two minutes; and we had one instance in the admirable Childers, of still greater rapidity. He has been frequently known to move eightytwo feet in a second, or almost a mile in a minute. He ran round the course of Newmarket, which is little less than four miles, in six minutes and forty seconds. Few horses have since been found that could equal him; and those of his breed have been remarkably deficient.

The Ass is a patient animal, and for its size can bear the greatest weight of any quadruped. He is generally slow, stupid, and headstrong; but this may be imputed as much to bad treatment as to natural disposition. The wild asses of Lybia and Numidia run with such amazing swiftness, that scarcely even the coursers of the country can overtake them.

The Zebra is the most beautiful, but at the same time the wildest animal in nature. Nothing can exceed the delicate regularity of this creature's colour, or the lustrous smoothness of its skin; but, on the other hand, nothing can be more timid or more untameable. It is less in size than the horse, but larger than the ass, and in shape resembles the mule. But though its form is handsome, the great beauty of the zebra lies in the amazing regularity and elegance of its colours. In the male they are white and brown; in the female white and black. These colours are disposed in alternate stripes over the whole body, and with such exactness and symmetry, that one would think nature had employed the rule and compass to paint them. These stripes, which, like so many ribbands, are laid all over the body, are narrow, parallel, and exactly separated from each other. It is not here, as in other parti-coloured animals, where the tints are blended with each other; every stripe is perfectly distinct, and preserves its colour round the frame, or any individual limb, without any diminution; so that at a little distance one would be apt to suppose the animal was dressed out by art, and not thus admirably adorned by nature. The Zebra is to be found neither in Europe, Asia, nor America; it is a native of South Africa, where they are often found in large herds. The

cry

of the zebra is neither like that of a horse, nor an ass, but resembles more the 'confused barking of a mastiff dog.

Next in point of utility to the horse kind, is the class of ruminating animals, including the cow, the sheep, the deer, and a great variety of others. These are for the most part harmless and easily tamed. Animals that chew the cud are furnished with four stomachs, through which the food successively passes, and undergoes the proper separations. The ruminating animals which have cloven hoofs, are the cow, the sheep, the goat, the gazelle, and the decr.

The largest of the cow kind is the Urus, or wild bull of Lithuania, which grows to a size scarcely attained by any other quadruped except the elephant. The Bison, which abounds in the American prairies, is distinguished by its shaggy mane, and the hump between its shoulders. The Buffalo, which abounds in Guinea and Malabar, and also in many parts of India, very nearly resembles our common breed, with which, however, it will not couple, showing thereby that it is a distinct species from the other three already mentioned, which show no such antipathy to one another. The buffaloes are very fierce in their wild state, roaming in

« PreviousContinue »