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On the other hand, we possess abundant evidence of the ready and extensive diffusion of odours. The scent of some spicy and flowery lands is perceived at the distance of forty miles from their coasts;
"And many a league,
Cheer'd with the grateful smell, old Ocean smiles." So minutely subdivided are odoriferous substances, that in some, as in those that arise from asafoetida, each parti. cle has been calculated to be of a volume of only the 481,000,000,000,000,000,000th part of a cubic inch. Still, as Nature has given to our nervous system the power of appreciating so rare an emanation, and as some odours impart as much disgust as others afford pleasure, perfume cannot be merely an unimportant accessory part of bodies, bestowed on matter as elegance of form is, to flatter the sense; nor is it only to serve as a guide; for some of the most agreeable odours perniciously intoxicate the senses; and some fœtid smells, as from a sewer, etc., though unwholesome, are less so than the baleful, though scarcely perceptible scent, arising from some marshy grounds. We might be led to suspect the importance of odour, from seeing how generally it pervades all created matter. Not alone does the vegetable world, but metals, and stones, also, emit odours: but that which is most familiar to us, is the scent evolved from all animals-that by which the predatory beast discovers his prey:— -the bloodhound tracks his victim, and the sagacious dog of St. Bernards discovers the traveller buried beneath the snow.
The exhalations of men, of the several quarters of the globe, are also different in smell. The traveller has unpleasant reminiscenses, of those peculiar to the negro, the Indian, and the Esquimaux. In youth, the odour exhaled by the human body is positively agreeable; but it is too often succeeded, of a later period, by one unpleasant and noxious, and demanding the continual remedies derived from our refined habits. This again is found to increase suddenly into fetidity, by agitation of the darker passions, as anger and fear, and still more in fallibly from the first decline of health to the last stage of disease.
An inherent odour appears to have been given to the higher order of animals, to excite them to sexual interMan, besides this stimulant, is excited to sexual passions by odours foreign to his system. This is, then, also, one of the numerous characteristics which we have in common with the creature of mere instinct; circumstances not degrading man, but tending to the perfection of his physico-intellectual nature, and sometimes adding to those passions which constitute his moral probation. The luxurious and unmeasured use of odours has not ceased with the pagan era, or in the paphian temples; neither is it confined to the Zenana of the Eastern Odalisk: it is as much in vague among ourselves, and in this country; and we therefore shall give a few out of numberless examples of its pernicious, and sometimes fatal consequences. Our observations have already proved, that per. fumes are worse than needless auxiliaries to youth and
beauty, and that they may add to the effervescence of early passion in those who are but little aware of the nature of the exotic charm,—a charm the false prophet has not forgotten to place in his sensual paradise, and poets in the bowers of Circe and Armida.
If smoking stramonium relieves asthma, and reclining on a pillow of hops produces sleep, on the other hand also, the occasionally pernicious effects of odoriferous bodies cannot be doubted. In a slighter degree it is seen in the fainting and headache produced by strongly perfumed flowers in close rooms.
The unconscious apprentice of the chemist, when first pounding rhubarb and hellebore, learns, by experience, the properties of these drugs; their volatilized aroma purging as effectually as if he had swallowed a portion of their substance. Snuff takers, whose olfactory organs are rendered less sensitive by the constant use of a pungent plant, are frequently distressed by nausea if some new perfume be added to their snuff. We may conceive the effect that pungent odours must have on the susceptible nerves of the refined and sensitive, when we see the fury they produce in brute animals. It has happened sometimes in cattlefairs, that mischievous persons have scattered into the air pungent powders, by which the animals collected for sale were made so furious that they have broken down all barriers and escaped, after overthrowing, in their mad career, men and women, tents and booths. The reader has no doubt heard of the existence of a fever called hay
fever attacking delicate persons during the harvest of that fodder.
Herodotus informs us that the Scythians became intoxicated by inhaling the vapour from the seeds of a kind of flax; and modern medicine has observed, that the odour alone of hyoscyamus, (henbane) particularly when its power is hightened by the action of heat, produces, in those who inhale it, a disposition to anger and quarrelling.*
The Dictionaire de Medicine de l'Encyclopedie Methodique, (Tome 7, article Jusquiame,) cites three examples in proof of it. The most remarkable, is that of a married couple, who, perfectly harmonious and affectionate everywhere else, could not pass a few hours together in a room where they worked, without engaging in the most bloody strife. The room was thought to be enhanted or bewitched. At length it was discovered that the whole blame of these terrible disputes was attributable to a large packet of the seeds of hyosciamus placed near a stove; and their removal caused a perfect restoration of peace.
Two persons, sleeping in a granary containing the seeds of hyosciamus, wore attacked by stupor and violent headache; and two others, in Saxony, are reported to have become mad after breathing the smoke produced by
This remedy, tried on healthy persons produces the following mental aberrations: Melancholy, avoiding company, distrust, fleeing from home at night, fear of being sold or poisoned, inclination to laugh about every thing, lo quacity, jealousy, furor with flinging, and inclination to murder: awkardness in every thing.
burning the same seed. Very strong smells have been occasionally supposed to produce epilepsy. The malva moschata causes, it is said, hysterical attacks; and the flowers of the nerium oleander, and the lily, have been fatal in more instances than one, after they had been long confined in a room.
To "die of a rose in aromatic pain," is an idea that looses some of its facetiousness, when we really find some young women (for example, the daughter of Nicholas I., Count of Salin, and of a Polish Bishop, etc.,) dying immediately after respiring the perfume of heaps of those flowers, or of violets. The rooms in which flowers are most diligently amassed by our ladies of fashion, are generally the smallest: it is in the elegant penetralia of the boudoir that they shut them up. The heat there is favorable to the rapid elicitation of odour from the dying plant: the atmosphere is scarcely disturbed by a current, and seldom renewed, whilst, in their natural situation, the cooled air moderates the evaporation, and its undulation wafts towards us a diluted fragrance.
There is no occasion, perhaps, for farther illustration of the effects of vegetable perfume. Our readers must be acquainted, by report, with that tree of Indian climes, whose deadly character has become the theme of many a touching tale, and beneath whose poisonous shade the woary traveller sleeps, to rise no more. Nor are there whose historical recollections will not furnish them many with instances of death among great personages, caused