Page images

ing a much humbler plant than either of the others. The leaves also, in an earlier state, are of a different form and a darker hue, and when bruised emit, in a slight degree, a disagreeable venomous smell. The safest way to avoid doubt or danger, is to cultivate the curled parsley. Most cattle eat it, but it is said to be noxious to geese. AETIOLOGY, that branch of physic which assigns the causes of diseases; in this sense we say the aetiology of the small-pox, dropsy, &c. AETiology, in rhetoric, is deemed a figure of speech, whereby, in relating an event, we, at the same time, unfold the causes of it. AETNA, a famous volcanic or burning mountain in Sicily, situated on the eastern coast, not far from Catania. The height of this mountain is above 10,000 feet above the surface of the sea, and its circumference at the base is 180 miles. Over its sides are 77. cities, towns, and villages, the number of the inhabitants of which is about 115,000. From Catania to the summit is the distance of 30 miles, and the traveller must pass through three distinct climates, which may be denominated the torrid, the temperate, and the frigid, Accordingly, the whole mountain is divided into three distinct regions, called the fertile, the woody, and the barren. The first, or lowest region, extends through an interval of ascent from 12 to 18 miles. The city of Catania and several villages are situated in this first zone, and it abounds in pastures, orchards, and various kinds of fruit trees. Its great fertility is ascribed to the decomposition of lava, and of those vegetables, which have been introduced by the arts of agriculture, and the exertions of human industry. The figs and fruit in general, in this region, are reckoned the finest in Sicily. The lava of this region flows from a number of small mountains, which are dispersed over the immense declivity of AEtna. The woody region, or temperate zone, extends from 8 to 10 miles in a direct line, towards the top of the mountain; it comprehends a surface of about 40 or 45 square leagues. It forms a zone of the brightest green all around the mountain, which exhibits a pleasing contrast to the white and hoary head of the mountain. It is called the woody region, because it abounds with oaks, beeches, and firs. The soil is similar to that of the lower region. The air here is cool and refreshing, and every breeze is loaded with a thousand perfumes, the whole ground being covered

over with the richest aromatic plants. Many parts of this region are the most heavenly spots upon earth; and if Etna resemble hell within, it may with equal justice be said to resemble Paradise without. The upper region, called the frigid zone, is marked out by a circle of snow and ice. The surface of this zone is for the most part flat and even, and the approach to it is indicated by the decline of vegetation, by uncovered rocks of lava and heaps of sand, by near views of an expanse of snow and ice, and of torrents of smoke issuing from the crater of the mountain, and by the difficulty and danger of advancing amidst streams of melted snow, sheets of ice, and gusts of . chilling wind. The curious traveller, however, thinks himself amply recompensed, upon gaining the summit, for the peril which he has encountered. At night the number of stars seem increased, and their light appears brighter than usual. The lustre of the milky-way is like a pure flame, that shoots across the heavens, and with the naked eye we may observe clusters of stars totally invisible in the lower regions. The scoriae of which the mountain is composed have the same kind of base, containing shoerls and felt-spars. AFFIDAVIT signifies an oath in writing, sworn before some person who is authorised to take the same. In an affidavit, the time, place of habitation, and addition of the person who makes it, are to be inserted. Affidavits are chiefly used to certify the serving of processes or other matters concerning the proceedings in a court; and therefore should set forth the matter of fact to be proved, without taking any notice of the merits of the cause. They are read in court upon motions, but are not admitted in evidence at trials. By statute, the judges of the courts at Westminster may commission persons, in the several counties in England, to take af. fidavits relating to any thing depending in their several courts. AFFINITY, among civilians, denotes the relation of each of the parties married to the kindred of the other. Affinity is distinguished into three kinds. 1. Direct affinity, or that subsisting between the husband and his wife's relations by blood; or, between the wife and her husband's relations, by blood. 2. Secondary affinity, or that which subsists between the husband and his wife's relations, by marriage. S. Collateral affinity, or that which o

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

subsists between the husband and the relations of his wife's relations. The degrees of affinity are always the same with those of consanguinity. Hence, in whatever degree of consanguinity the kindred of one of the parties married are, they are in the same degree of affinity to the other. By the canon law, direct affinity renders marriage unlawful to the fourth generation, inclusive; but the case is otherwise with respect to the secondary and collateral kinds. It is likewise to be observed, that the affinity coutracted by a criminal commerce, is an impediment to marriage so far as the second generation: thus, a man is not allowed to marry the sister of a woman he has lain with. Nay, with regard to contracting marriage, affinity is not dissolved by death: for, though a woman may be admitted a witness for the brother of her deceased husband, she is not allowed to marry him. AFFINITY, in chemistry, the attraction manifest between the part of bodies in chemical combination is, by many authors, distinguished by this name. See CrieMistry. AFFIRMATION, an indulgence allowed by law to the people called Quakers, who, in cases where an oath is required from others, may make a solemn affirmation that what they say is true. But their affirmation is confined to civil cases, and is not allowed in any criminal cause, nor with regard to places of profit or trust under the government. AFFRAY, or AffrayMENT, in law, formerly signified the crime of affrighting other persons, by appearing in unusual armour, brandishing a weapon, &c. But, at present, affray denotes a skirmish or fighting between two or more : and there must be a stroke given, otherwise it is no affray. AFFRONTEE, in heraldry, an appellation given to animals facing one another on an escutcheon, a kind of bearing, which is otherwise called confrontée, and stands opposed to adossée. AFT, in the sea language, the same with abaft. See ABAFT. AFZELIA, in botany, a genus of the Didynamia Augiospermia class and order: the calyx is quinquepartite, the corolla campanulated, and the capsule rotundated with hemispheric receptacles. There is but one species, found in Africa, near the equinoctial. AGAPANTHUS, in botany, a genus of the Hexandria Monogynia class and order, of the natural order of Liliacae: the calyx is a spathe; the corolla is one petalled; the stamina are six filaments, inserted into the

throat, shorter than the corolla ; the anthers kidney-shaped and incumbent; the pistillum is a superior germ ; the style filiform, of the length of three stamens ; the stigma simple or trifid; the pericarpium is an oblong capsule; the seeds numerous, oblong, compressed, and enlarged with a membrane. There is one species, viz. A. umbellatus, or African blue lily. This is the African tuberose hyacinth with a blue umbellated flower. The root of this plant is composed of thick fleshy fibres; from the same head arises a cluster of leaves, which are thick and succulent; and of a dark green colour. Between these issues the flower stalk, supporting an umbel of blue flowers in a sheath, and each flower standing on a pedicle, about an inch long. The umbel being large, the flowers mumerous, and of a light blue colour, make a fine appearance. They come out at the end of August, or beginning of September, and frequently continue in beauty till spring. It is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, from whence it was brought to Holland, and in 1692 it was cultivated at Hampton Court. This plant is propagated by offsets, taken at the latter end of June, planted in separate pots, with light kitchen-garden earth, and placed in a shady situation. In five weeks the offsets will put off new roots, and the pots should then be removed to a more sunny situation, and have more water. In September they will put out their flowerstalks, and toward the end of the month the flowers will begin to open, and should be removed under shelter in bad, weather, but in good weather exposed to the free air. Toward the end of October they should be removed to the green-house, and have the benefit of free air, and be occasionally watered during winter, in mild weather, but in frost they should be kept dry. AGARIC, in botany, a genus of the order of Fungi, and class of Cryptogamia; the pileus or cap has gills underneath, and the gills differ in substance from the rest of the plant, being composed of two lamina, and the seeds are in the gills. There are hearly 400 species. Dr. Withering distributes them into three general classes, comprehending those which have central stems, those with lateral stems, and those which have no stems; and he again subdivides the two former classes into such as have solid, and such as have hollow stems, with decurrent, fixed, and loose gills respectively. Under these heads he arranges the species by the colour of the gills, into those whose gills are white, brown, red, buff, yellow, grey, green, and purple. As this ingenious author has formed a system, that serves to facilitate the investigation and description of the several species of Agarics, we shall here give a brief sketch of the principles upon which it is founded. Agarics are composed of a cap or pileus, with gills underneath, and are either with or without stems. The stems are either central or lateral. They have also a root, which is more or less apparent, and some of them, in their unfolded state, wholly enclosed in a membranaceous or leather-like case, called a wrapper. Some of them have also a curtain, or thin membrane, extending from the stem to the edge of the pileus, which is rent as the pileus expands, and soon vanishes; but the part attached to the stem often remains, and forms round it a ring, which is more or less permanent, as its substance is more or less tender. Of all the species of Agaric, one only has been selected for cultivation in our gardens, viz. the A. campestris, or common mushroom, or champignon. The gills of this species are loose, pinky red, changing to a liver colour, in contact with the stem, but not united to it; very thick set, irregularly disposed, some forked next the stem, some next the edge of the pileus, some at both ends, and in that case generally excluding the intermediate smaller gills, The pileus is white, changing to brown when old, and becoming scurfy; regularly convex, fleshy, flatter with age, from two to four inches, and sometimes nine inches, in diameter, and liquefying in decay; the flesh white. The stem is solid, white, cylindrical, from two to three inches high, half an inch in diameter; the curtain white and delicate. When this mushroom first makes its appearance, it is smooth and almost globular; and in this state it is called a button. This species is esteemed the best and most savoury of the genus, and is much in request for the table in England. It is eaten fresh, either stewed or boiled, and preserved either as a pickle or in powder; and it furnishes the sauce called Catchup. The field plants are better for eating than those raised on artificial beds, their flesh being more tender; and those who are accustomed to them can distinguish them by their smell. But the cultivated ones are more sightly, may be more easily collected in the proper state for eating, and are firmer and better for pickling. The wild mushrooms are found in parks and other pastures, where the turf has not been plough

ed up for many years; and the best time for gathering them is August and September. AGATE, a fossil compounded of various substances, as chalcedony, cornelian, jasper, hornstone, quartz, &c. These different fossils do not all occur in every agate, commonly only two or three. There are different kinds of agate, as the fortification, the landscape, the ribbon, the moss, the tube, the clouded, the zoned, the star, the fragment, the punctuated, the petrefaction, the coral, and the jasper agate. No country affords finer agate, or in greater abundance, than Germany: it is found in great quantity at Oberstein, where several thousand persons are employed in quarrying, sorting, cutting, and polishing it. It is also found in France, England, Scotland, and Ireland, and very beautiful in the East Indies, where, however, it is confounded with onyx. It is cut into vases, mortars, snuff-boxes, and sometimes into plates for inlaying in tables. Very handsome specimens are made into seals, and the smaller pieces are used for gun flints. It was highly valued by the ancients, who executed many fine works in it: these, however, are only to be found in the cabinets of the rich. The collections of Brunswick and Dresdemar are remarkable for beautiful specimens of this kind. AGATHOPHYLLUM, a genus of the Dodecandria Monogynia class and order: calyx very minute, truncate; petals six, inserted into the calyx; drupe somewhat globular ; , nut half five-celled, one-seeded; kernel five-lobed. One species, viz. A. aromaticum, a tree in Madagascar, with an aromatic rufous bark. AGAVE, in botany, a genus of the Hexandria Monogynia class and order, of the natural order of Coronariae : it has no calyx; the corolla is one-petalled and funnel-shaped; the stamina are filiform ; the anthers linear; the pistillum is an oblong germen; the style filiform; the stigma headed and three-cornered, the pericarpium is oblong, and the seeds are numerous. There are seven species, of which we shall notice the A. Americana, or great American aloe, whose stems, when vigorous, rise upwards of twenty feet high, (one in the King of Prussia's garden rose to 40 feet,) and branch out on every side, so as to form a kind of pyramid, composed of greenish yellow flowers, which stand erect, and come out in thick clusters at every joint. The seeds do not come to maturity in England. When this plant flowers, it makes a beautiful appearance; and if it be protected from the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »