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The harvest perishes; with prickles crown'd,
Now learn what arms industrious peasants wield,
172 The land caltrop is an herb with a prickly fruit, which grows commonly in Italy, and other warm countries.
173 These are not the common oats degenerated by growing wild, but a different species: the chaff of them is hairy, and the seed is small, like that of grass. It was the general opinion of the ancients that wheat and barley degenerated into these weeds ; but they are specifically different, and rise from their own seeds.–Martyn.
It is remarked that the wild oat remains a century in the soil, without losing its vegetative quality. As it ripens before any crop, of grain, it sheds its seed on the ground, protected from the birds by the roughness of its coat.-See Marshall, quoted by Stawell.
C'est une opinion générale dans l'Italie que l'ivraie ou le gioglio, selon la manière de parler du peuple, si elle est mêlée dans le pain avec la farine, dérange la tête de celui qui en mange. On dit aussi d'un homme mélancolique, 'a mangiato di pane con loglio.'De Lille.
In Ireland, this weed, which the peasants call reeleigh, is very prevalent in the corn, and its flour has been observed to be of an intoxicating quality. Stawell.
176 It is necessary for the farmer to use a wise discrimination. It is said that the destructive fly of America prevails from the absence of rooks, whereas crows (with which these innocent birds are often confounded) are most unprincipled plunderers. In Ireland they are remarked for rooting up the potatoe sets when just planted, and watching for them in all the stages of their growth : they contrive to draw the longest wheaten straws out of the closest made stacks. The impudent familiarity of the sparrow should not be suffered to disgust us; who, by the destruction of insect-eggs, almost repays the debt to vegetation contracted by his voraciousness Stawell,
The share, the crooked plough's strong beam, the
wain That slowly rolls on Ceres to her fane : Flails, sleds, light osiers, and the harrow's load, The hurdle, and the mystic van of God. These, mindful, long provide, ere use require, 185 If rural fame thy breast with glory fire.
Form’d for the crooked plough, by force subdu’d, Bend the tough elm yet green amid the wood : Beyond eight feet in length the beam extend, With double back the pointed share defend, 190 Double the earth-boards that the glebe divide, And cast the furrow'd ridge on either side; But light the polish'd yoke of linden bough, And light the beechen staff that turns the plough.
182 In the feasts of Ceres at Rome her statue was carried about in a cart or waggon.-Martyn.
183 The tribulum, or tribula, was an instrument used by the ancients to thrash their corn. It was a plank set with stones or pieces of iron, with a weight laid on it, and so was drawn over the corn by oxen.-Martyn.
Immediately preceding the revolution they trampled out the grain with oxen, in France, and preferred that mode to the Aail. Burning the straw to obtain the grain was an ancient practice in Ireland.-See Young's Tour in France, quoted by Stawell.
184 The fan, or van, the instrument that separates the wheat from the chaff, is a proper emblem of separating the virtuous from the wicked. In the drawings of the ancient paintings by Bellori there are two that seem to relate to initiations, and in each of them is the vannus. In one, the person that is initiating stands in a devout posture, and with a veil on, the old mark of devotion; while two that were formerly initiated hold the van over his head. In the other, there is a person holding the van, with a young infant in it. • Whose fan is in his hand, and he shall thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner ; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.' Luke iii. 17.-Holdsworth and Spence, quoted by Warton.
These long suspend where smoke their strength explores,
195 And seasons into use, and binds their pores.
Nor thou the rules our fathers taught despise, Sires by long practice and tradition wise.
With ponderous roller smooth the level floor, And bind with chalky cement o’er and o'er ; 200 Lest weeds spring up, and as it wears away, The tiny mouse creep thro’ its chinks to-day. There rise his granaries, there the blind mole works, There the lone toad within its hollow lurks, And all the nameless monsters of the soil,
205 That swarm and fatten on thy gather'd spoil : The weevil wasting with insatiate rage, And the wise ant that dreads the wants of age.
With many a bud if flow’ring almonds bloom, And arch their gay festoons that breathe perfume, 210 So shall thy harvest like profusion yield, And cloudless suns mature the fertile field : But if the branch, in pomp of leaf array’d, Diffuse a vain exuberance of shade, So fails the promise of th' expected year,
215 And chaff and straw defraud the golden ear.
Some medicate the beans, with previous toil Steep them in nitre, and dark lees of oil,
208 It is an error that the ant lays up corn, or any food whatever, for winter use.-T. A. Knight.
209 Thé blossoms of all trees are formed in the preceding year, and are a much better proof that a good season has passed than that one is to come.-T. A. Knight.
217 On a vu plusieurs fois, en conséquence de la préparation des semences, un seul grain pousser sept ou huit tiges, dont chacun portoit un épi de plus de cinquante grains. Le nombre de tiges sur un même pied s'est quelquefois trouvé prodigieux; on en a compté jusqu'à trente, soixante, et près
But false their swell, and oft the chosen seed,
Thus if the boatman who long-laboring plied
de cent. Un grain de seigle, qui avoit crû sous les débris d'une couche de mon jardin, m'a donné 14 épis et 833 grains. Pline raconte qu'on avoit envoyé d'Afrique à Auguste un grain qui avoit poussé 400 tiges, et que Néron en avoir reçu un sur lequel on en comptoit 560.-Pluche, quoted by De Lille,
218 Saline bodies, particularly a strong solution of common salt, appear to destroy one species of parasitical plant--that which constitutes smut in corn. But modern experience proves that nothing of this kind has any influence on the (probably) very numerous family of parasitical plants which produce diseases on corn and fruit-trees.-T. A. Knight.
224 There is an old opinion that the earth is fond of variety of seed, and the farmers generally change their seed of every kind within a short period, to prevent degeneration. With some, however, this principle is exploded, who deem it more reasonable to cull the best seed from their own every year, as has been observed by Mr. Bakewell with respect to his breed. ing cattle.—Letter on Husbandry in Lord Kaimes' Life.
It has been intimated that plants acquire certain habits, which they preserve for a time, though removed to different soils and climates : this disposition may and has been taken advantage of. The Siberian wheat, habituated to a rapid Vegetation, in a season of momentary warmth, retains the impression of its climate. Fruit-trees that are forced will vegetate under the same premature impulse, even after the cause is removed. The corn of a southern aspect will ripen early, though changed to a more unfavorable situation.Stawell,
Nor less intent, Arcturus' train behold,
When poising Libra rest and labor weighs, 235
When Taurus' golden horns the year unbar, And Sirius “ 'gins to pale' his yielding star, Then beans and lucerne claim the mellow soil, 245 And millet springing from thy yearly toil.
231 Arcturus is a star of the first magnitude, in the sign Boötes: the Kids, two stars on the left arm of Auriga, whose rising portended storms: the Dragon, a constellation between the two Bears.
234 Abydos is situated on the Asiatic side of the Hellespont.
235, 237 The time mentioned by Virgil for the sowing of barley, is from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice. This perhaps may seem strange to an English reader, it being our custom to sow it in the spring ; but it is certain that in warmer climates they sow it at the latter end of the year; whence it happens that their barley harvest is consi. derably sooner than their wheat harvest. Thus we find, in the book of Exodus, the flax and the barley were destroyed by the hail, because the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in seed; but the wheat and the rye escaped, because they were not yet come up.–Martyn.
2-13 C'est par le Belier que commence l'année astronomique ; mais comme c'est au mois d'Avril que la Nature ouvre son sein, Virgile a jugé à-propos de faire ouvrir l'année rurale par le signe du Taureau, où le soleil entre le 22 Avril. Virgile donne au Taureau deux cornes dorées, à cause d'une étoile brillante qu'il a au bout de chacune de ses deux cornes.--De Lille.
245 The lucerne was introduced from Media into Greece by Darius, in the Persian war.