Select Specimens of Natural History Collected in Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile. Volume 5.
Travels to discover the Source of the Nile,
EGYPT, ARABIA, ABYSSINIA, AND NUBIA.
ΑΙΕΙ ΦΕΡΕΙ ΤΙ
“AND HE SPAKE OF TREES, FROM THE CEDAR-TREE THAT IS IN LEBANON, EVEN UNTO
THE HYSSOP THAT SPRINGETH OUT OF THE WALL: HE SPAKE ALSO OF BEASTS, AND OF
FOWL, AND OF CREEPING THINGS, AND OF FISHES.”
PRINTED BY J. RUTHVEN,
FOR G. G. J. AND J. ROBINSON, PATERNOSTER-ROW,
|Of PLANTS, SHRUBS, AND TREES.|
|Balessan, Balm, or Balsam,||16|
|Sassa, Myrrh, Opocalpasum,||27ii|
|Ergett el Krone,||35|
|Gir Gir, or Gesh el Aube,||47|
|Farek, or Bauhinia Acuminata,||57|
|Wooginoos, or Brucea Antidysenterica,||69|
|Cusso, or Bankesia Abyssinica,||73|
|Nisser, or Golden Eagle,||155|
|Tsaltsalya, or Fly,||188|
|Cerastes, or Horned Viper,||198|
|Caretta, or Sea Tortoise,||215|
|1. General Map.|
|2. Itinerary from Gondar to the Source of the Nile.|
|3. Chart of Solomon’s Voyage to Tarshish.|
As it has been my endeavour, throughout this history, toleave nothing unexplained that may assist the readerin understanding the different subjects that have been treatedin the course of it, I think myself obliged to say a fewwords concerning the manner of arranging this Appendix.With regard to the Natural History, it must occur to everyone, that, however numerous and respectable they may bewho have dedicated themselves entirely to this study, theybear but a very small proportion to those who, for amusementor instruction, seek the miscellaneous and generaloccurrences of life that ordinarily compose a series of travels.
By presenting the two subjects promiscuously, I was apprehensiveof incommoding and disgusting both species ofreaders. Every body that has read Tournefort, and someother authors of merit of that kind, must be sensible howunpleasant it is to have a very rapid, well-told, interestingnarrative, concerning the arts, government, or ruins of Corinth,Athens, or Ephesus, interrupted by the appearance ofa nettle or daffodil, from some particularity which theymay possess, curious and important in the eye of a botanist,but invisible and indifferent to an ordinary beholder.vi
To prevent this, I have placed what belongs to NaturalHistory in one volume or appendix, and in so doing I hopeto meet the approbation of my scientific botanical readers,by laying the different subjects all together before them,without subjecting them to the trouble of turning overdifferent books to get at any one of them. The figures,landscapes, and a few other plates of this kind, are illustrationsof what immediately passes in the page; these descriptionsseldom occupy more than a few lines, and thereforesuch plates cannot be more ornamentally or usefullyplaced than opposite to the page which treats of them.
Some further consideration was necessary in placing themaps, and the Appendix appeared to me to be by far themost proper part for them. The maps, whether such as aregeneral of the country, or those adapted to serve particularitineraries, should always be laid open before the reader,till he has made himself perfectly master of the bearingsand distances of the principal rivers, mountains, or provinceswhere the scene of action is then laid. Maps thatfold lie generally but one way, and are mostly of strong paper,so that when they are doubled by an inattentive hand,contrary to the original fold they got at binding, they break,and come asunder in quarters and square pieces, the mapis destroyed, and the book ever after incomplete; whereas,even if this misfortune happens to a map placed in theAppendix, it may either be taken out and joined anew, orreplaced at very little expence by a fresh map from thebookseller.
I shall detain the reader but a few minutes with whatI have further to say concerning the particular subjects ofviiNatural History of which I have treated. The choice Iknow, though it may meet with the warmest concurrencefrom one set of readers, will not perhaps be equally agreeableto the taste of others. This I am heartily sorry for.My endeavour and wish is to please them all, if it were possible,as it is not.
The first subject I treat of is trees, shrubs, or plants; andin the selecting of them I have preferred those which, havingonce been considered as subjects of consequence by theancients, and treated largely of by them, are now come, fromwant of the advantage of drawing, lapse of time, changeof climate, alteration of manners, or accident befallen theinhabitants of a country, to be of doubtful existence anduncertain description; the ascertaining of many of these isnecessary to the understanding the classics.
It is well known to every one the least versant in this partof Natural History, what a prodigious revolution has happenedin the use of drugs, dyes, and gums, since the time ofGalen, by the introduction of those Herculean medicinesdrawn from minerals. The discovery of the new world,besides, has given us vegetable medicines nearly as activeand decisive as those of minerals themselves. Many foundin the new world grow equally in the old, from whichmuch confusion has arisen in the history of each, that willbecome inextricable in a few generations, unless attendedto by regular botanists, assisted by attentive and patientdraughts-men ignorant of system, or at least not slaves toit, who set down upon paper what with their eyes they seedoes exist, without amusing themselves with imagining, accordingto rules they have themselves made, what it regularlyviiishould be. One drawing of this kind, painfully and attentivelymade, has more merit, and promotes true knowledge morecertainly, than a hundred horti sicci which constantly produceimaginary monsters, and throw a doubt upon the whole.The modern and more accurate system of botany has fixedits distinctions of genus and species upon a variety of suchfine parts naturally so fragil, that drying, spreading, andpressing with the most careful hands, must break away anddestroy some of those parts. These deficient in one plant,exiting in another in all other respects exactly similar, areoften, I fear, construed into varieties, or different species, andwell if the misfortune goes no farther. They are preciselyof the same bad consequence as an inaccurate drawing,where these parts are left out through inattention, or design.
After having bestowed my first consideration upon thesethat make a principal figure in ancient history, which areeither not at all or imperfectly known now, my next attentionhas been to those which have their uses in manufactures,medicine, or are used as food in the countries I amdescribing.
The next I have treated are the plants, or the varieties ofplants, unknown, whether in genus or species. In these Ihave dealt sparingly in proportion to the knowledge I yethave acquired in this subject, which is every day increasing,and appears perfectly attainable.
The history of the birds and beasts is the subject whichoccupies the next place in this Appendix; and theixrule I follow here, is to give the preference to suchof each kind as are mentioned in scripture, and concerningwhich doubts have arisen. A positive precept thatsays, Thou shalt not eat such beast, or such bird, is absolutelyuseless, as long as it is unknown what that bird andwhat that animal is.
Many learned men have employed themselves with successupon these topics, yet much remains still to do; for ithas generally happened, that those perfectly acquaintedwith the language in which the scriptures were written,have never travelled nor seen the animals of Judea, Palestine,or Arabia; and again, such as have travelled in thesecountries, and seen the animals in question, have been eithernot at all, or but superficially acquainted with the originallanguage of scripture. It has been my earnest desireto employ the advantage I possess in both these requisites, tothrow as much light as possible upon the doubts that havearisen. I hope I have done this freely, fairly, and candidly;if I have at all succeeded, I have obtained my reward.
As for the fishes and other marine productions of the RedSea, my industry has been too great for my circumstances.I have by me above 300 articles from the Arabian gulf alone,all of equal merit with those specimens which I have herelaid before the public. Though I have selected a very fewarticles only, and these perhaps not the most curious, yetas they are connected with the trade of