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Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery, A

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_XI" id="CHAPTER_XI"></SPAN>CHAPTER XI.</h2> <h3><span class="smcap">Yams, Mangoes, Bread-fruit, Shea or Butter Tree, Cow Tree, Water Tree, Licorice, Manna, Opium, Tobacco, and Gum.</span></h3> <p><b>What are Yams?</b></p> <p>The roots of a climbing plant growing in tropical climates. The root of the yam is wholesome and well-flavored; nearly as large as a man's leg, and of an irregular form. Yams are much used for food in those countries where they grow; the natives either roast or boil them, and the white people grind them into flour, of which they make bread and puddings. The yam is of a dirty brown color outside, but white and mealy within.</p> <p><b>What are Mangoes?</b></p> <p>The fruit of the Mango Tree, a native of India and the south-western parts of Asia; it also grows abundantly in the West Indies and Brazil. It was introduced into Jamaica in 1782; where it attains the height of thirty or forty feet, with thick and wide-extended branches. The varieties of the mango are very numerous,&mdash;upwards of eighty are cultivated; and the quality of these varies according to the countries and situations in which they grow. The mangoes of Asia are said to be much better than those of America.</p> <p><b>Describe the appearance of the Mango Tree.</b></p> <p>The flowers of this tree are small and whitish, formed in <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_86" id="Page_86"></SPAN>[86]</span>pyramidal clusters. The fruit has some resemblance to a short thick cucumber, about the size of a goose's egg; its taste is delicious and cooling; it has a stone in the centre, like that of a peach. At first this fruit is of a fine green color, and some varieties continue so, while others change to a fine golden or orange color. The mango tree is an evergreen, bearing fruit once or twice a year, from six or seven years old to a hundred. </p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Pyramidal</i>, resembling a pyramid.</p></div> <p><b>How is this fruit eaten?</b></p> <p>When ripe, it is eaten by the natives either in its natural state, or bruised in wine. It is brought to us either candied or pickled, as the ripe fruit is very perishable; in the latter case, they are opened with a knife, and the middle filled up with fresh ginger, garlic, mustard, salt, and oil or vinegar. The fruit of the largest variety weighs two pounds or upwards. The several parts of this tree are all applied to some use by the Hindoos: the wood is consecrated to the service of the dead; from the flour of the dried kernels different kinds of food are prepared; the leaves, flowers, and bark, are medicinal. </p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Medicinal</i>, fit for medicine, possessing medical properties.</p> <p><i>Consecrated</i>, separated from a common to a sacred use.</p></div> <p><b>Is there not a tree which bears a fruit that may be used for bread?</b></p> <p>Yes; the Bread-fruit Tree, originally found in the southeastern parts of Asia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean, though introduced into the tropical parts of America. It is one of the most interesting, as well as singular productions of the vegetable kingdom, being no less beautiful than it is useful. This tree is large and shady; its leaves are broad and indented, like those of the fig tree&mdash;from twelve to eighteen inches long, rather fleshy, and of a dark green. The fruit, when full-grown, is from six to nine inches round, and of an oval form&mdash;when ripe, of a rich, yellow tinge; it generally hangs in clusters of two or three, on a small thick stalk; the pulp is white, partly <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_87" id="Page_87"></SPAN>[87]</span>farinaceous, and partly fibrous, but when ripe, becomes yellow and juicy.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Indented</i>, toothed like the edge of a saw.</p> <p><i>Farinaceous</i>, mealy, consisting of meal or flour; from <i>farina</i>, flour.</p></div> <p><b>How is the Bread-Fruit eaten?</b></p> <p>It is roasted until the outside is of a brown color and crisp; the pulp has then the consistency of bread, which the taste greatly resembles; and thus it forms a nourishing food: it is also prepared in many different ways, besides that just mentioned. The tree produces three, sometimes four crops in a year, and continues bearing for fifty years, so that two or three trees are enough for a man's yearly supply. Its timber, which at first is of a rich yellow, but afterwards assumes the color of mahogany, is used in the building of houses and canoes; the flowers, when dried, serve as tinder; the sap or juice serves for glue; the inner bark is made, by the natives of some of the islands of the Pacific Ocean, into a kind of cloth; and the leaves are useful for many purposes. One species of the bread-fruit, called the Jaca tree, grows chiefly on the mainland of Asia.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Mainland</i>, the continent.</p></div> <p><b>Describe the Jaca Tree.</b></p> <p>This kind grows to the same, if not a larger size than the bread-fruit of the islands, but is neither so palatable nor so nutritious; the fruit often weighs thirty pounds, and contains two or three hundred seeds, each four times as large as an almond. December is the time when the fruit ripens; it is then eaten, but not much relished; the seeds are also eaten when roasted. There are also other trees in different parts of the world, mostly of the palm species, which yield bread of a similar kind.</p> <p><b>Is there not a tree which produces a substance resembling the Butter which we make from the milk of the cow?</b></p> <p>The Shea, or Butter Tree, a native of Africa: it is similar in appearance to the American oak, and the fruit, (from the kernel of which the butter is prepared,) is somewhat like an <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_88" id="Page_88"></SPAN>[88]</span>olive in form. The kernel is inclosed in a sweet pulp, under a thin, green rind.</p> <p><b>How is the Butter extracted?</b></p> <p>The kernel, being taken out and dried in the sun, is boiled in water; by which process a white, firm, and rich-flavored butter is produced, which will keep for a whole year without salt. The growth and preparation of this commodity is one of the first objects of African industry, and forms a principal article of their trade with one another.</p> <p><b>You have given me an account of a useful Butter prepared from a plant; is there not also a tree which can supply the want of a cow?</b></p> <p>In South America there is a tree, the juice of which is a nourishing milk; it is called the Cow Tree. This tree is very fine; the leaves are broad, and some of them ten inches long; the fruit is rather fleshy, and contains one or two nuts or kernels. The milk is very abundant, and is procured by incisions made in the trunk of the tree; it is tolerably thick, and of a glutinous quality, a pleasant taste, and agreeable smell. The negroes and people at work on the farms drink it, dipping into it their bread made of maize.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Glutinous</i>, having the quality of glue,&mdash;an adhesive, gummy substance, prepared from the skins of animals: it is used in joining wood, &amp;c., and for many other purposes.</p></div> <p><b>What time of the day is the best for drawing the juice?</b></p> <p>Sunrise; the blacks and natives then hasten from all quarters with large bowls to receive the milk; some drink it on the spot, others carry it home to their families.</p> <p><b>What island possesses a remarkable substitute for the want of springs of Water?</b></p> <p>Ferro, one of the Canary Isles, situated in the Atlantic Ocean. In this island there is no water, except on a part of the beach which is nearly inaccessible; to supply the place of a fountain, Nature has bestowed on the island a particular kind <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_89" id="Page_89"></SPAN>[89]</span>of tree, unknown in other parts of the world. It is of a moderate size, with straight, long, evergreen leaves; on its top a small cloud continually rests, which so drenches the leaves with moisture, that it perpetually distils upon the ground a stream of clear water. To these trees, as to perennial springs, the inhabitants of Ferro repair, and are supplied with abundance of water for themselves and cattle. </p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Perennial</i>, lasting through the year, perpetual.</p></div> <p><b>What is Licorice?</b></p> <p>A plant, the juice of which is squeezed from the roots, and then boiled with sugar, and used as a remedy for coughs, &amp;c. Great quantities are exported from Spain, Italy, &amp;c. The dried root is of great use in medicine, and makes an excellent drink for colds and other affections of the lungs by boiling it with linseed.</p> <p><b>What are the Lungs?</b></p> <p>The organs of respiration in man and many other animals. There are two of these organs, one on each side of the chest. </p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Respiration</i>, breathing; the act of inhaling air into the lungs, and again expelling it, by which animal life is supported.</p></div> <p><b>What is Manna?</b></p> <p>A sweet, white juice, oozing from the branches and leaves of a kind of ash tree, growing chiefly in the southern parts of Italy, during the heats of summer. When dry, it is very light, easily crumbled, and of a whitish, or pale yellow color, not unlike hardened honey.</p> <p><b>Is Manna peculiar to the Ash Tree of Southern Italy?</b></p> <p>No. Manna is nothing more than the nutritious juices of the tree, which exude during the summer heats; and what confirms this is, that the very hot summers are always those which are most productive of manna. Several different species of trees produce a kind of manna; the best and most used is, however, that of Calabria, in Italy.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_90" id="Page_90"></SPAN>[90]</span></p> <p><b>What are its uses?</b></p> <p>It was much esteemed formerly in medicine, but it has now gone nearly into disuse. The peasants of Mount Libanus eat it as others do honey. The Bedouin Arabs consume great quantities, considering it the greatest dainty their country affords. In Mexico, they are said to have a manna which they eat as we do cheese. At Brian&ccedil;on, in France, they collect it from all sorts of trees that grow there, and the inhabitants observe, that such summers as produce the greatest quantities of manna are very fatal to the trees, many of them perishing in the winter.</p> <p><b>Is there not another tree which produces Manna?</b></p> <p>Yes: the Tamarisk, a tree peculiar to Palestine and parts of Arabia. This remarkable substance is produced by several trees, and in various countries of the East. On Mount Sinai there is a different species of Tamarisk that yields it. It is found on the branches of the tree, and falls on the ground during the heat of the day.</p> <p><b>Where is Mount Libanus?</b></p> <p>Mount Libanus, or Lebanon, is situated in Asiatic Turkey; it was anciently famous for its large and beautiful cedar trees. The "Cedars of Lebanon" are frequently mentioned in Holy Writ. There are now scarcely any remaining of superior size and antiquity, but they vary from the largest size down to mere saplings; and their numbers seem to increase rather than diminish, there being many young trees springing up.</p> <p><b>How is Manna gathered?</b></p> <p>From August to September, the Italians collect it in the following manner, <i>viz.</i>: by making an incision at the foot of the tree, each day over that of the preceding, about four inches from one another: these cuts, or incisions, are nearly two inches long, and half an inch deep. When the cut is made, the manna directly begins to flow, at first like clear water, but congealing as it flows, it soon becomes firm: this they collect in baskets. Manna has been found to consist of two distinct substances <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_91" id="Page_91"></SPAN>[91]</span>one nearly resembling sugar, the other similar to a gum or mucilage.</p> <p><b>What nation was fed with a kind of Manna?</b></p> <p>The Children of Israel, when wandering in the desert wilderness, where no food was to be procured, were fed by a miraculous supply of manna, showered down from Heaven every morning on the ground in such quantities as to afford sufficient food for the whole host.</p> <p><b>What is Opium?</b></p> <p>A narcotic, gummy, resinous juice, drawn from the head of the white poppy, and afterwards thickened; it is brought over in dark, reddish brown lumps, which, when powdered, become yellow.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Narcotic</i>, producing sleep and drowsiness.</p></div> <p><b>In what countries is it cultivated?</b></p> <p>In many parts of Asia, India, and even the southern parts of Europe, whence it is exported into other countries. The Turks, and other Eastern nations, chew it. With us it is chiefly used in medicine. The juice is obtained from incisions made in the seed-vessels of the plant; it is collected in earthen pots, and allowed to become sufficiently hard to be formed into roundish masses of about four pounds weight. In Europe the poppy is cultivated mostly for the seeds. Morphia and laudanum are medicinal preparations of opium.</p> <p><b>What is Tobacco?</b></p> <p>An herbaceous plant which flourishes in many temperate climates, particularly in North America; it is supposed to have received its name from Tabaco, a province of Mexico; it is cultivated in the West Indies, the Levant, on the coast of Greece, in the Archipelago, Malta, Italy, France, Ceylon, &amp;c. It was not known in Europe till the discovery of America by the Spaniards; and was carried to England about the time of Queen Elizabeth, either by Sir Francis Drake or Sir Walter Raleigh. Tobacco is either taken as snuff, smoked in pipes or in the form <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_92" id="Page_92"></SPAN>[92]</span>of cigars, or chewed in the mouth like opium. There are many different species of this plant, most of them natives of America, some of the Cape of Good Hope and China. Tobacco contains a powerful poison called nicotine.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Herbaceous</i>, like an herb or plant, not a shrub or tree.</p></div> <p><b>What part of the plant is used?</b></p> <p>The leaves, which are stripped from the plant, and after being moistened with water, are twisted up into rolls; these are cut up by the tobacconist, and variously prepared for sale, or reduced into a scented powder called snuff.</p> <p><b>Who was Sir Francis Drake?</b></p> <p>Sir Francis Drake was a distinguished naval officer, who flourished in the reign of Elizabeth. He made his name immortal by a voyage into the South Seas, through the Straits of Magellan; which, at that time, no Englishman had ever attempted. He died on board his own ship in the West Indies, 1595.</p> <p><b>Who was Sir Walter Raleigh?</b></p> <p>Sir Walter Raleigh was also an illustrious English navigator and historian, born in 1552. He performed great services for Queen Elizabeth, particularly in the discovery of Virginia, and in the defeat of the Spanish Armada; he lived in honor and prosperity during her reign, but on the accession of James the First, was stripped of his favor at court, unaccountably accused of high treason, tried, and condemned to die; being reprieved, however, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London many years, during which time he devoted himself to writing and study. Receiving, at last, a commission to go and explore the gold mines at Guiana, he embarked; but his design having been betrayed to the Spaniards, he was defeated: and on his return to England, in July, 1618, was arrested and beheaded, (by order of the King, on his former attainder,) October 29; suffering his fate with great magnanimity.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_93" id="Page_93"></SPAN>[93]</span></p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>High Treason</i>, in England, means an offence committed against the sovereign. In the United States it consists in levying war against the government, adhering to its enemies, and giving them aid and comfort.</p> <p><i>Reprieved</i>, respited from sentence of death.</p> <p><i>Magnanimity</i>, greatness of mind, bravery.</p></div> <p><b>What is Gum?</b></p> <p>A mucilaginous juice, exuding from the bark of certain trees or plants, drawn thence by the warmth of the sun in the form of a glutinous matter; and afterwards by the same cause rendered firm and tenacious. There are many different gums, named after the particular tree or plant from which they are produced.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Mucilaginous</i>, consisting of mucilage.</p> <p><i>Tenacious</i>, adhering closely.</p></div> <p><b>What is the character of Gum?</b></p> <p>Gum is capable of being dissolved in water, and forming with it a viscid transparent fluid; but not in vinous spirits or oil; it burns in the fire to a black coal, without melting or catching fire; and does not dissolve in water at boiling heat. The name of <i>gum</i> has been inaccurately given to several species of gum-resins, which consist of resin and various other substances, flowing from many kinds of trees, and becoming hard by exposure to the air. These are soluble in dilute alcohol. Gum is originally a milky liquor, having a greater quantity of water mixed with its oily parts, and for that reason it dissolves in either water or oil. Another sort is not oily, and therefore dissolves in water only, as gum Arabic, the gum of the cherry-tree, &amp;c.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Viscid</i>, thick, ropy.</p> <p><i>Vinous</i>, having the qualities of wine.</p></div> <p><b>Are the last-mentioned sorts properly called Gums?</b></p> <p>No, though commonly called gums, they are only dried mucilages, which were nothing else than the mucilaginous lymph issuing from the vessels of the tree, in the same manner as it does from mallows, comfrey, and even from the cucumber; the vessels of which being cut across, yield a lymph which is plainly mucilaginous, and if well dried, at length becomes a kind of gum, or rather, a hardened mucilage.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Lymph</i>, transparent fluid.</p></div><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_94" id="Page_94"></SPAN>[94]</span></p> <p><b>What is Gum Arabic?</b></p> <p>The juice of a small tree of the Acacia tribe, growing in Egypt, Arabia Petr&aelig;a, Palestine, and in different parts of America.</p> <p><b>Are there other plants or trees which produce Gum, besides those already mentioned?</b></p> <p>A great number, though not all commonly in use. The leaves of rhubarb, the common plum, and even the sloe and the laurel, produce a clear, tasteless gum; there are also a number of different gums, brought from foreign countries, of great use in medicine and the arts. Most of the Acacias produce gums, though the quality of all is not equally good.</p> <p><b>What is Rhubarb?</b></p> <p>A valuable root growing in China, Turkey, and Russian Tartary. Quantities of it are imported from other parts of the world: that from Turkey is esteemed the best. Rhubarb is also cultivated in our gardens, and the stalks of the leaves are often used in tarts; but the root, from the difference of climate, does not possess any medicinal virtue.</p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2>
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