Page images

description. It was introduced into England in 1724, by a West Indian Captain, and given by him to his brother, who had a candle box constructed from a plank, which so pleased him that he ordered a bureau to be made of the same material, but the workmen complained of the hardness of the wood injuring their tools. The negroes raise a scaffolding round the tree before it is felled, and as they only cut it to the ground, the root, which is generally the most beautiful part, is left useless, (it requiring very laborious work to raise it) unless for particular purposes. The grain of the wood varies according to the soil. The tree growing upon rocks yields a better and closer wood than that upon the lower and richer lands, which accounts for the superior quality of some.

The Spaniards have been known to build their ships of war of this wood.


Of this plant, a native of India, there are different species, sometimes cultivated in Britain. The seed affords food for poultry, and is highly esteemed for making puddings, being by some preferred to rice. The seed is sown in the spring, and it will ripen about August, when the plant must be immediately cut down, and the seed beaten out to preserve it from the birds.


A genus of fossils, being bright and beautiful stones, composed of small separate concretions moderately hard, effervescing with, and soluble in, acids, and calcining in a moderate fire. It consists of calcareous earth, united with fixed air, and is convertible into a strong quick-lime, like chalk or limestone. It takes a beautiful polish, and is frequently stained different colours. The varieties of Marble are very numerous ; the Black Marble of Flanders is most valued, and owes its colour to a slight admixture of iron. This description is found also in Derbysbire, and in the county of Kilkenny, in Ireland, beautifully marked with white spots. Fine solid marbles are found in Italy, France, Blankenburgh, Flanders, and the Western Islands of Scotland. Those discovered in Germany, Norway, and Sweden, are considered inferior. The method of inlaying Scagliola, or plaster in marble, or metals, in imitation of every kind of ornament, was invented in 1778, and is still practised.


There are several species of this plant, three of which are natives of Britain, viz. the Alba, or White Mustard, cultivated in gardens as a salad

herb. The Nigra, or common Mustard, propagated in fields, the seed of which powdered and mixed into a paste with water is much used at table. This kind is frequently found growing naturally. A third species is the Arvensis, generally known by the title of Durham Mustard seed. This kind grows spontaneously also in many parts of Britain. Mustard seed is recommended as a stimulant to appetite and to assist digestion. By distillation with water it yields an essential oil, and besides its use in medi. cine, cataplasms made with the pulverized seed, vinegar, and bread, are of the utmost service in cases of fever, fixed to the soles of the feet, or applied to benumbed limbs, &c.


The inner rind of the nutmeg, of a yellowish colour, inclined to red, about an inch in length divided into a number of filaments. It is very pleasant, fragrant spice, and the oil extracted from the nutmeg when heated by pressure is useful for many medicinal purposes.

When the nutmegs are gathered, and the first rind has been removed, the Mace is very carefully taken off with a knife, and dried in the sun ; afterwards it is moistened with a small quantity of sea water to preserve the oil.


Correctly is applied to any corn prepared in a particular manner for brewing the various kinds of beer, but its common acceptation denotes barley, prepared so as to produce by fermentation a potable liquor.

MOHAIR (See Wool).


A strongly scented substance used as a perfume, •and sometimes in medicine, particularly in the East, where its properties are held in very high estimation. It is contained in a bag under the belly of the Moschus, an East Indian animal, which inhabits the highest rocky mountains, from the Altaic chain to that which divides Thibet from India, likewise in China and Tonquin, and in Eastern Siberia. The pursuit of these animals is very difficult and dangerous, as they take amazing leaps, and seek the highest points of the rocks. The Indians consider the flesh, particularly of the young ones, a great delicacy. The best and most plentiful is that imported from Thibet. Musk is also obtained from an animal resembling a fox or marten, called the Civet or Musk Cat. Several of them have been brought into Holland from China and the Indies, and they form a considerable branch of commerce at Amsterdam. It sheds this perfume against shrubs or stones but that is considered finer which is taken from the bag. Musk affords the strongest of all odours, and it will remain good for many years.

There is a plant growing in the West Indies and some parts of Africa, the seed of which yields an odour similar to that of Musk. In France and Italy the perfumers consume vast quantities of the seed, of which necklaces and other ornaments are frequently made.

MERCURY (See Quicksilver).


The shell of a muscle called Mytilas Margatifera (not of the Pearl oyster), the inside of which is found in its natural state beautifully polished, and being divested of its external lamina by the aid of aquafortis, the outer part assumes an equal lustre. The manufacturing this shell into various ornamental articles has been brought to great perfection, particularly at Jerusalem.

NITRE (See Saltpetre).


« PreviousContinue »