Dr Chandler’s Bantam sow brought him this last summer a large litter of pigs, several of which were not cloven-footed, but had their toes joined together. For tho’ on the upper part of the foot there was somewhat of a suture, or division; yet below in the soles the toes were perfectly united; and on some of the hind legs there was a solid hoof like that of a colt. The feet of the sow are completely cloven. Mr Ray in his Synopsis animalium quadrupedum, takes on notice of this singular variety; but Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae says, “Varietas frequens Upsaliae Suis domestici semper monunguli: in ceteris eadem species.”
My shrub, Rhus cotinus, known to the nursery-men by the title of Cocygria, makes this summer a peculiar shew, being covered all over with it’s “bracteae paniculae filiformes,” which give it a feathery plume-like appearance, very amusing to those that have not seen it before. On the extremities of these panicles appear about midsumer a minute white bloom which with us brings no seeds to perfection. Towards the end of August the panicles turn red & decay.
Simeon Etty brought me two eggs of a Razor-bill from the cliffs of the Isle of Wight: they are large, & long, & very blunt at the big end, & very sharp & peaked at the small. The eggs of these birds are, as Ray justly remarks, “in omnibus hujus beneris majora quam pro corporis mole.” One of these eggs is of a pale green, the other more white; both are marked & dotted irregularly with chcolate-coloured spots. Razor-bills lay but one egg, except the first is taken away, & then a second, & on to a third. By their weight these eggs seem to have been sat on, & to contain young ones.
“On the last day of this month my Fathr Mr Ben Wh. shot in his own garden at S. Lambeth, a Loxia curvisrostra, or Cross bill, as it was feeding on the cones of his Scotch firs. There were six, four cocks, & two hens: what he shot was a cock, which was beautifull variegated with brown, & green, & a great deal of red: it answered very accurately to Willughby’s description; & weighed rather more than 1 ounce & an half. In the evening the five remaining birds were seen to fly over the garden, making a chearful note.” Thus far Mrs Ben White. To which we add that flights of Cross bills used to frequent Mrs Snooke’s scotch firs in the month of July only. Mr Ray says, “per autumnum interdum sed rarius in Angliam venit, non autem apud nos perennat aut ndificat.” Synopsis.
The foreign Arum in the vicarage court, called by my Grandmother Dragons, & by Linnaeus Arum Dracunculus, has lately blown. It is an Italian plant, & yet has subsisted there thro’ all the severe frosts of 80 or 90 years; & has escaped all the diggings, & alterations that have befallen the borders of that garden. It thrives best under a N. wall, but how it is propagated does not appear. The spatha, & spadix are very long.
Strawberries from the woods are over; the crop has been prodigious. The decanter, into which wine from the cool cellar was poured, became clouded over with a thick condensation standing in drops. This appearance, which is never to be seen but in warm weather, is a curious phaenomenon, & exhibits matter for speculation to the modern philosopher. A friend of mine enquires whether the “rorantia pocula” of Tully in his “de senectute” had any reference to such appearances. But there is great reason to suppose that the ancients were not accurate philosophers enough to pay much regard to such occurrences. They knew little of pneumatics, or the laws whereby air is condensed, & rarifyed; & much less that water is dissolved in air, & reducible therefrom by cold. If they saw such dews on their statues, or metal utensiles, they looked on them as ominous, & were awed with a superstitious horror. Thus Virgil makes his weeping statues, & sweating brazen vessles prognostic of the violent death of Julius Caesar:.. “maestrum illacrymat templis ebur, aeraq sudant.” Georgic 1st
Fyfield, the spaniel, rejects the bones of a wood-cock with horror. Gathered in the non-pareils. The prodigious crop of apples this year verified in some measure the words of Virgil made use of in the description of the Corycian garden;
“Quotq’ in flore novo pomis se fertilis arbos/Induerat, totidem in autumno matura tenebat.”
Codlins came in for stewing. Wasps encrease & gnaw the cherries. Hung bottles to take the wasps.
“Contemplator item, cum se Nux plurima silvis
Induet in florem, & ramos curvabit olentis:
Si superant foetus, pariter frumenta sequenterur;
Magnaque cum mango veniet tritura calore.”*
If by Nux in this passage Virgil meant the Wall-nut, then it must follow, that he must also mean that a good wall-nut year usually proves a good year for wheat. This remark is verifyed in a remarkable manner this summer with us; for the wallnut trees are loaded with a myriad of nuts, which hang in vast clusters; & the crop of wheat is such as has not been known for many seasons. The last line seems also to imply, that this coincident, even in Italy, does not befall but only in a dry, sultry summer. Tho’ wall-nut-trees in England blow long before wheat; yet it is probable that in Italy, where wheat is more early than with us, they may blossom together. And indeed unless these vegetables had accorded in the time of their bloom, the Poet would scarce have introduced together as an instance of concomitant fertility.
Mr. Reeve, a master Carpenter in the town of Lambeth, is employed in building a Conservatory for the Queen of Naples, the dimensions of which are 117 feet in length, 40 feet in breadth, 20 feet to the angle of the roof, & 10 feet to the eaves. This noble greenhouse ( the largest that has been constructed yet in this kingdom) Continue Reading »