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LITERARY WEEKLY INTELLIGENCER,
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16. 1793.
DESCRIPTION OF A SINGULAR PLANT FROM BOTANY
THE plate that accompanies this number, exhibits a representation of one of the most singular vegetable productions that has been discovered in our late settlement in New South Wales. The stump is perennial, but the leaves and seed stalk are annual. The perennial stump rises to the height of six feet or thereby, is of a conical shape, and hard consistence; but whether it be internally of a fibrous texture like wood, my information does not enable me to say. On the surface it is covered all over with blind wart like tubercles or excrescences, somewhat resembling the protuberances of pollards, that swell out below the place where the tree has been cut over; but from these no stems ever shoot forth. There oozes out from the whole of its surface a great abundance of a viscid juice, of a yellowish colour, which accumulating in the hollows, becomes a semifluid concretion VOL. XVii.
of a gummy nature, which the natives make use of for nearly the same purposes as we might do tar; employing it as a kind of cement for joining pieces of wood together. But though they be often much pinched for want of food, I do not find that ever they have been observed to eat it. The qualities of this gummy substance have not, that I know of, been ascertained by any chemical analysis, or economical experiments. It seems not to be in the smallest degree of an inflammable nature: for though it is very common in those parts for the natives to set fire to the dry grafs that at certain seasons covers the whole surface of the ground, and though by that means these stumps that grow up among it are in general so scorched as to have afsumed a black and smoky appearance, yet they never seem to have actually taken fire, or to have suffered any material injury from that cause.
The leaves are broader and more rigid than any kind of grafs known in Europe, but they are neither. so stiff nor so thick as the finest of the aloe tribe. The flower stem is solid, not tubulated nor jointed. It is of a firm, woody, fibrous consistence, very tough and elastic. It rises to the height of six feet or more, and is quite straight, and smooth on the surface; it is therefore employed by the natives for fhafts to their darts, and other purposes of that sort. I should think that some of these rods must have been brought to Britain. But none of them that I have heard of have as yet reached Scotland. On the top it supports a panicle containing seeds, the whole panicle not unlike in appearance to that of the elymus are
naria; but its botanical characters I have not been able to ascertain.
The Europeans there commonly distinguish it by the name of the yellow gum tree.
Some seeds that were sent to the Botanic garden here under that name, have vegetated. The plants have at present exactly the appearance of a kind of grafs, not having as yet discovered the rudiments of any kind of a stump rising above ground.
ON THE BEST MODE OF CARRYING
For the Bee.
TRAVELLERS of learning and refined taste are, by the publishing of their discoveries and observations, continually furnishing instruction and amusement to men of letters and philosophical speculation; whilst men in a more humble situation, such as I, to whom the description of a painting, the dimensions of a statue, or the analysis of a piece of ore, can afford no entertainment, must confine their observations to the ruder and more common objects that occur in society, and elude the attention of those more accomplished persons. Confined, however, as our range must be in our humble sphere, we may perhaps sometimes have it in our power to suggest to the public overlooked trifles that may in some degree promote the welfare of man.
In this view, I fhall send to the Bee my observations in a journey to London, on a very common ob ject.
The porters in Edinburgh, and I suppose through. out Scotland, when carrying a burden on the back, stoop forward, and pass the belt to which the weight is appended, over the top of the head; by which means, if the burden is nearly of as great a weight as the body would be able to bear, the head must be much hurt, and health of course impaired. Practice however renders them insensible of the inconvenience; and as men usually do, they follow implicitly the custom handed down to them from their parents, without ever thinking of the advantage or even pofsibility of any other method of carrying their burdens.
On the same principle, another equally absurd and still more pernicious practice is continued by the ba kers in Scotland. Their apprentices, usually at first young boys, carry the bread to their customers over the whole town, on a board resting solely upon the head, without any thing that can in the smallest degree alleviate the prefsure on that tender part of the body, still more tender in those growing youths than in up-grown men. Hence it is evident that ei ther their constitutions must be impaired, or less work can be done than there would, if a better manner of doing it were adopted. A person that never saw or heard of any other mode of procedure, is not much struck with these absurdities, as they are rendered familiar by habit, and an improvement on them does not readily suggest itself. This is also the case in regard to many other articles of domestic economy; for a person travelling through the country sees in an infinite number of particulars a different practice pre