Изображения страниц

They are then dried in the sun, turning increased to an infinite degree. The deblack in the process, in which state they are mand for them, however, has diminished in fit as an article of commerce. Some few of Europe, while among the people of their the cultivators scald them in hot water, native country they have never been conbefore they are smoked. The inferior sorts sumed. At one period spices were eaten at are merely dried in the sun. These may be every meal, sweetened in preserves, and discovered by their shrivelled appearance. spread upon cakes, or pickled in vinegar The dealers generally mix them largely with honey. The excessive use of them

has been pronounced injurious to the constitution, though when the sailors of the north até them every morning, masticated

them instead of their tobacco, mingled them with the better qualities. A good tree, in their spirits, the scurvy was kept out of well cultivated, produces about twenty-five the vessels. pounds; though, as two-thirds of them are Next to the clove, the nutmeg is the generally barren, and many others poor most curious of spices. Its geographical bearers, the average of a plantation does distribution is far more extensive. Flourishnot exceed five pounds. Occasionally, ne- ing to perfection in the Moluccas, it thrives vertheless, instances occur of far greater well in New Guinea, Borneo, and the littlefecundity. One tree is told of, by writers known island of Ceram, but the Dutch have entitled to credit, which boré 1,100lbs. endeavoured to confine its cultivation to Another was known long to exist in the Pulo Aye, Banda, and Nera. Nutmegs of west of Amboyna which, in the year 1748, fine flavour are produced on the western yielded 140lbs. : its trunk was eight feet in borders of the Archipelago, and have been diameter, and the natives, assigning it an found also in Australia, though tasteless age of 150 years, held it sacred. Such, and without value. however, are extraordinary instances. The The nutmeg-tree (Nux Myristica) grows produce of an acre is usually about 330lbs., on its native soil to the height of forty or which, calculating them at the price now fifty feet, with a well-branched stem, somepaid for them in England, is worth about what resembling the clove in appearance. sixty guineas. There can be no doubt, A smooth bark, ash-coloured, with a deep however, that, under a liberal system, the shade of green, encloses a red, succulent produce of cloves in the Moluccas might bewood, full of a crimson sap, which forms an

indelible dye, though not applied to that changing its gorgeous crimson into a dull purpose, since to obtain it it is necessary to red, and ultimately a dusky yellow. destroy the tree. The leaves are like those The nuts have to be cured with much of the pear, but larger and sharper, with attention, a certain insect always breeding the under-surface a dark green, and the in them, which it is necessary to extirpate. upper grey—a characteristic in trees of the They are daily smoked on hurdles, over a nut tribe. When pounded or bruised they slow wood fire, during two or three months. yield a rich aromatic odour.

They are then freed from the shells, dipped Coming to maturity about its ninth year, in lime-water, and are then fitted for the the nutmeg-tree usually lives to the seventy- market. Such is the planter's task in the fifth. The manner of its natural propagation is exceedingly curious, and baffles all the efforts of the Dutch to extirpate it from the islands. A certain blue pigeon, called by the Malays the nutmeg-bird,, by the Hollanders the nut-eater, feeds on the pulpy-covering, called mace, which envelopes the fruit. This only being digested, the nutmegs are scattered over the islands, abundantly supplied with a kind of guano manure, and groves of trees spring up as though' by magic where the inveterate watchfulness of the Dutchman had previously not left a root. When they are three years old the saplings are transplanted carefully, and interspersed throughout parks of palm, whose shade they require. There is a law in Banda against hewing down any of these trees.

The nutmeg bears fruit all the year, though April, July, and August are the regular harvest seasons. The plantations display an aspect of unequalled beauty. Millions of little white heads sparkle on the trees, betokening the fruit in its first stage. At the same time flowers like the lily of the valley, advanced a stage beyond-glitter amid the green foliage, and from these

small red pistils spring, expanding gradually throughout nine months into the perfect fruit. The nut, with its covering of mace, Moluccas. In the island of Pinang, howhas the size and appearance of a nectarine. ever, in the Straits of Malacca, where the Round it runs a furrow, like that on one cultivation has been introduced, a far more side of a peach. The outer coat is smooth, laborious process has to be pursued. A and green during the early stage of its ex- deep-red friable soil, a well-sheltered, wellistence. As it ripens, a flush overspreads drained, yet well-irrigated spot, must be it, like that of the apricot. At length this chosen. The stumps of trees must be recovering, which resembles the thick rind of moved, the nests of white ants extirpated, a walnut, bursts, and discovers the rich the ground trenched, manured, and nuts crimson coat of mace, exhibiting through perfectly ripe selected for seed—those of a its interstices a glossy black shell, the last spherical form being the best—and placed covering of the nut. Under the heat the in the earth twenty-four hours after being sun these breathe out the finest perfumes— gathered. Then the “nursery " must be a rich fruit's rind,

continually weeded, smoked with bonfires, Fragrant and sweet, and fluted by the wind.* and thinned; the young shrubs, trans

They are then gathered, and the rind planted to the plantation and set into large thrown away, while the nuts are carried to holes, covered over with sheds filled up with the stores to be separated from the mace. time to time with liquid fish manure.

manure and burnt earth, and supplied from This is dried in the sun for some days, ground must be kept loose, that the roots

The • John Stebbing.

mav spread. Very curious processes have

[ocr errors]

been found by Dr. Oxley to improve the I derable contraband trade also exists, though tree and enrich the favour of its fruit, the sugglers expose themselves to immense dead animals buried near, blood poured on peril-death being the punishment of a plethe earth, fish and oil ake-but not the beian, banishment the award of a native much-lauded guano, which is injurious, noble. To complete these precautions, a Besides these accurate details of attention, squadron of lightiy-built gallers annually the trunk of the tree should, once a-year, visits all the islands in the group, to enforce be washed with soap and water, to keep it the regulations, to seize and punish offenclear of moss.

ders, to compel the destruction of illegal In weeding the plantation, also, much plantations, and uphold the exclusive privi. discrimination is to be practised. Certain leges of the Dutch. In consequence of this grasses are destructive, certain others bene- demoralizing, tyrannical, wasteful system, cial to the nutmeg-tree, which, it will the volueca Islands have degenerated from thus be seen, is in a foreign soil a tender age to age, until they now exist as a monu subject for culture, though, when once ment to the grasping eupidity and blind brought to maturity, it thrives long and ambition of Holland. well, rewarding the planter by an abun- Next in order among these familiar acdance of the fragrant nuts so highly prized counts of spices, the cinnamon introduces in Europe. Formerly they were eaten at itself. The name means Chinese wood, and dessert, preserved in syrup, like the cloves, it has been disputed which is the native or pickled in sweet vinegar.

country of the tree. Certainly, it appears In drying the nuts, great care is taken to have flourished from the remotest period not to shrivel them by the application of in China, though in Ceylon, also, the naexcessive heat. Having been cured, they tural adaptation of the soil to its cultivacannot be too soon sent to market; whereas tion, with many other circumstances, lead the mace is not valued in London until, us to suppose it was indigenous there." Cerafter being kept a few months, it has lost tain it is, also, that the ancients knew the its crimson tinge, which deepens into a virtues, and enjoyed the flavour and fragolden colour.

grance of this curious product. It was The produce of nutmegs in the Banda known to the Greeks and Romans under a Igles is about six hundred thousand pounds name closely similar to that we bestow on annually, and of mace a fourth of that it, but was so rare and costly that none but quantity. Of cloves, about three hundred the wealthy could purchase it. Some say thousand pounds are exported to Europe, it was at first used by birds in the construcChina, Bengal, and the United States. As, tion of their nests, and collected in this however, we have already said, the mono- form, none knowing where and how it poly which has ever restricted the culture grew. That it came from the East was of spices confines the amount of their pro- generally supposed, but, as with nutmegs duce, the islands having been watered with and cloves, its native place was a great human blood to preserve the privilege of mystery. exclusive trade.

In 1506, it was discovered to flourish wild A visitor to the London Docks may ob- in Ceylon; and thenceforward that island serve the bags of cloves there piled. When was highly esteemed on account of its proonce ready for sale, it requires little care, duction. In 1770 an improved quality was keeping well, and not easily injured. They obtained by cultivation by the Dutch goare now sold at a comparatively low rate, vernor. The chiefs at first resisted the though formerly considered the most costly attempt, which shocked their prejudices, articles of commerce. Among the first and vast number of trees were destroyed by direct traders to the Spice Islands were the the natives, who went out at night and companies of Magellan, who gave at the poured boiling water over them. This feelrate of £12 for about six cwt. of cloves. ing, however, gave way before the perseThese were sold at 3,000 per cent. profit in verance of the Europeans, and Ceylon England. To enhance the price, the Dutch was gradually covered with cinnamon destroyed myriads of trees, paying small gardens. pensions to the native chiefs to carry on the Thousands of acres unvaried by any

other process year by year. The Moluccas, in- cultivation, are covered by plantations of deed, contain the only farms for the culture this elegant and aromatical laurel. The of nutmegs and cloves. The natives tend general aspect is that of a vast laurel-copse, the plantations, collect the produce under with a few trees of extraordinary growth inspection, carry it to the stores, receive a shooting up to the height of forty or fifty fixed price-about 31d. a pound. A consi- ' feet, with a trunk twenty inches in dismi.

ter. *

The wood is soft and white, burning the “rods” are gathered and formed into without emitting a perfume, and useful in bundles, from three to four feet long and some kinds of cabinet-work. Ten species, 85 lbs. in weight. Occasionally, the frauof which only one is cultivated, have been dulent planters attempt to mix the inferior discovered; the common, or sweet cinna- with the superior qualities, but the Governmon, the snake, the camphor, the astrin- ment tasters have so delicate a sense that gent, the mucilaginous, the drum, the wild, they immediately detect the imposition. the flower, the trefoil, and the white-ant The duty of these officials is somewhat arcinnamon. The general shape of the leaf duous, and during the performance of it in the laurel varieties is long oval, the they are obliged to eat bread-and-butter flower is white, tinged in the middle with at intervals to keep the skin on their brown, monopetalous, and stellated.

A tongues. curious fruit, about the size of a small The bundles are tied up with pliant canes, hedge-strawberry, containing one seed, like and resemble slender casks, being fuller an acorn, with a rich purple colour, abounds round the middle than at the ends. These on the tree. When boiled it yields a fine are then packed in bales, with the interoil, which congeals when cold, and is said stices filled up with black pepper. The to form a good ointment for diseased pepper attracting the superfluous moisture limbs.

of the fragrant bark, preserves it, while its When in full bloom the cinnamon plan- own flavour is greatly improved by contact tations afford a picture of extreme beauty. with this delicate spice. The best cinnamon The immense low groves of this odorous is of a light-brown colour, and scarcely exlaurel; the myriads of white blossoms in ceeds the thickness of good paper. The clusters, like those of the lilac; the leaves, coarser kinds are darker, stouter, and more flame-coloured at one end, dark-green at pungent to the taste; while the finest sort the other; and the graceful stems, like is sweet and almost melts in the mouth. those of the hazel, supporting brilliant para- Formerly the use of this aromatic bark was sites, such as the pitcher-plant, the gor- far more universal than at present, and geous gloriosa superba, with the scarlet opulent epicures loved to have their tables flowers of the ixora coccinea, and the pink perfumed with petals of the vinca rosea, intermingled amid

Dulcet syrups tinct with cinnamon. * the more sober foliage. The best cinnamon is obtained from the

A pungent and delicious water is prestraight stems that spring from the root after an old tree has been cut down. Great pared from the bark, as well as oil of cin

namon, which is very expensive, as three care is necessary to distinguish the age of hundred pounds weight yields only twentythese. Those most valuable are about ten

four ounces. The former price was ten feet high and about an inch in diameter. guineas a quart; but it has been reduced. When too young, they have an unripe, The genuine article, however, rarely reaches green taste; when too old, coarse and gritty. England. Many frauds are also practised From April to August, and from November by the bark being sold after the oil has to January, are the usual “barking sea- | been extracted—a weak, poor scent only sons,” though considerable quantities are

remaining. collected at other times, as the plants reach

From this short sketch of the three prinmaturity. To ascertain this, the “peeler” cipal spices, the reader may have derived strikes a heavy knife diagonally into the

some information as well as entertainment. stem. If the inner bark, which is the cin. There are other products of inferior imporpamon, separates easily from the wood, it

tance, but similar character, which may is ripe. The little tree is cut down, scraped form the subject of another article. At and barked with a sharp-pointed hook, present we shall only add, that the mode-passed rapidly from one end to another. rate use of the clove, the nutmeg, and the The smaller slips are placed within the cinnamon is extremely beneficial. They larger, and laid to dry in the sun, which add richness to the flavour of our food, and curls them into the form in which they are

are wholesome in the extreme. Of course sold in Europe. The operation is one of their excessive use, like excess of all other much delicacy, as, in scraping, if any of kinds, is injurious, being at once destructhe outer bark remains a bitter taste is tive to the system, and indicative of an given to the inner. Having been dried, epicurean and luxurious appetite.

• Classification of the 'laurus' cinnamonum is class ix., enneandria: order i., monogynia, according to Linnæus.

• John Keats.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

two together; K1; now knit 3 rows plain, A NORWEGIAN MORNING OR BON- again decreasing as before.

NET CAP, IN SHETLAND WOOL. Now, with Cerise wool, knit six ribs or Materials.-Half an ounce each of Cerise and

twelve rows, decreasing as before. Then White Shetland Wool; two Steel Knitting Pins, with White the same as the first white No. 12; Crochet Hook, No. 2.

stripe. Then continue with White and

Cerise alternately till there are four White Cast on 240 stitches. K (or knit) two and four Cerise stripes irrespective of the plain rows *; now knit one stitch ; take first deep border. Now, with Cerise, knit two together; knit 115 stitches; take two 16 rows, decreasing as before. This finishes together, and take two together again ; now with one stitch. For the Border along the K the remainder, taking two together before front, with Cerise, make 2 L stitches, with the last stitch. The next row back is plain; 1 ch between each L; in one loop of the now repeat from * till there are 18 ribs of knitting 3 ch; more L as before in on knitting in which there are 36 rows alter- equal space to the 3 ch : this is along the rately decreased and plain. Take the white front only. 2nd row, 9 L with 1 ch between wool—knit three rows in the same way, each u the 1 ch; 1 ch Dc between next 2 L; which is one rib and one row, decreasing as 1 ch 9 L with 1 ch between each u next; 1 ch before : Kone stitch; take two together; repeat. This last row is worked with the wind the wool twice over the pins ; take knitting at the back within the row of L two together, wind twice over the pin again stitches. Run Cerise ribbon in the alternate till there are 41 holes; then take two to- holes of the white rows, and the same in gether twice; make 41 holes again; take the alternate L stitches of the border.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »