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shrubs were only varieties of each other produced by culture; whereas it must appear to every one, who reads my paper, that my intention in mentioning the spurious varnish-tree was to show it was different from Kompfer's true varnishtree, though Kompfer supposes otherwise.
In my paper I took notice, that one of the best kinds of varnish was collected from the anacardium in Japan; and recommended it to the inhabitants of the British islands in America, to make trial of the occidental anacardium, or cashew-nut tree, which abounds in those islands. This has occasioned Mr. Ellis to take great pains to show, that, the eastern and western anacardium were different trees: a fact, which was well known to every botanist before; and of which I could not be ignorant, having been possessed of both sorts near 30 years. But as I was assured, from many repeated experiments, that the milky juice, with which every part of the cashew-tree abounds, would stain linen with as permanent a black as that of the oriental anacardium; so I just hinted, that it was worth the trial. Nor was my hint grounded on those experiments only, but on the informations I had received from persons of the best credit, who had resided long in the American islands, that people are very careful to keep their linen at a distance from those trees, well knowing that if a drop of the juice fell on it, they could never wash out the stain.
But Mr. Ellis, in order to prove that this tree has no such quality of staining, says, he has made some experiments on the caustic oil; with which the shell or cover of the cashew-nut abounds; and that he found it was not endued with any staining quality. But surely those experiments cannot be mentioned to prove that the milky juice of the tree has not this property: and Sir Hans Sloane, in his History of Jamaica, says, that the inhabitants of Jamaica stain their cottons. with the bark of the cashew-tree.
LVI. An Answer to the preceding Remarks. By Mr. J. Ellis, F. R. S. p. 441.
My letter to Mr. Webb, which is printed in the 49th volume of the Philosophical Transactions,* was intended to show that Mr. Miller, in his reply to the Abbé Mazeas's letter, had brought no proofs to lessen the discovery, which he tells us the Abbé Sauvages had made, in attempting to improve the art of painting or staining linens and cottons of a fine durable black colour, by making use of the juice of the Carolina pennated toxicodendron, instead of the common method of staining black with galls and a preparation of iron; which, he says, always turns to a rusty colour when washed.
Mr. Miller, instead of producing the proper proofs, to show that this method
* Page 46 of this vol.
It should be observed, that the species of rhus used in Sauvages' experiments was the rhus vernis, Linn. The species used in those of the Abbé Mazeas was the rhus toxicodendron. Lion.
of staining cottons and linens of a black colour was known before, or quoting the authors in which he says it is mentioned, contents himself with telling the Society, that this American toxicodendron is the same plant with the true varnishtree of Japan; and that calicoes are painted with the juice of this shrub. In my letter to Mr. Webb, I have endeavoured to show, that notwithstanding the authority of Dr. Dillenius, and the authors that have followed him, it does not appear, from Dr. Kaempfer's description of this Japan plant, that it can be the same with our American one.
The design then of this paper, is to lay before this Society some further reasons, why these plants cannot be the same; and that even if they were the same, Mr. Miller has produced no authority to show that this juice was ever made use of for this purpose abroad; with some remarks on his reply to my letter, in which he obliges me to be more particular than I intended, in explaining some errors, which I find he has run into.
In my letter to Mr. Webb, I have pointed out the exact description which Kompfer has given us of the leaves of this plant, showing how much they differ from our American one: but now I shall mention some observations that escaped me before, and which, I think, will give us a clearer proof of this matter. Kompfer then informs us, that this Japan varnish-tree, or sitz-dsju, is a tree, not a shrub; and this author, it is well known, is remarkably exact in the description of his Japan plants, making the necessary distinctions between a shrub, an arborescent shrub, and a tree. He then goes on to explain the manner of its growth: and tells us, that it grows with long sappy shoots, very luxuriantly, to the height of a sallow or willow-tree, which we may reasonably allow to be from 20 to 30 feet; whereas this Carolina pennated toxicodendron, as Mr. Miller tells us in his Dictionary, 6th edit. in folio, is a shrub, and seldom rises above 5 feet high with us: and many people, who have been in North America, agree, that it is but a slow grower there, and is one of the shrubby underwoods of that country: so that, allowing it to grow even double the height it does here, it is still but a shrub, in comparison with the other. Further, while Dr. Dillenius was warm with this supposed discovery, of our having got the true Japan var nish-tree in America, attempts were made there, by intelligent persons under his direction, to procure this varnish after the manner of Kaempfer; but without success, as I am assured by persons of that country now here, with whom the Doctor corresponded.
Let us now consult the growth of the Carolina and Virginia sumachs, or rhuses, in our nursery-gardens, and compare them with this little shrubby toxicodendron, and we shall find, that even in this cold climate nature keeps her regular proportionable pace in the growth of vegetables of the same country. Let us observe the growth of some of these rhuses, and we shall find that great
luxuriancy of the shoots, which Kompfer so justly describes in his varnish-tree. One of these American ones even seems to promise the same height as the Japan rhus; whereas this little shrubby toxicodendron still preserves the same dwarfish slow growing habit, that it has in its native country.
This leads me, in the next place, to show, that these two plants must be of different genuses; the one a rhus, and the other a toxicodendron: and if so, according to Mr. Miller, they ought to be properly distinguished, and not ranked together, as Dr. Linneus has done. In order to prove this, let us then examine Kampfer's description of the parts of the flower, and see whether it does not answer exactly to the genus of rhus; and whether the flowers are not male and female in themselves, that is, hermaphrodites, on the same tree. And And yet Dr. Dillenius, and the authors that have copied after him, say, that his toxicodendron has the male blossoms on one plant, and the female on the other; whence it must evidently be another genus. It appears, however, that Dr. Dillenius was not altogether ignorant of this difference of genus in these two plants; but rather than his toxicodendron, which he had made agree exactly in the leaves, should not agree in the fructification, he makes the accurate Kompfer guilty of an unpardonable oversight, in not taking notice of the difference of the sexes of this varnish-tree in different plants; whereas we find, that nothing can be more minutely and judiciously described, than he has done both the male and female parts of the blossom, which change into the fruit on the same plant.
Mr. Miller remarks very justly, that the leaves of the same tree often vary much in shape, such as those of the poplar, sallow, &c. But in answer to this we may reasonably suppose, that Dr. Kompfer, who was on the spot, would not choose for his specimens leaves of the most uncommon sorts that were on the tree, and neglect the most common. This would be carrying the supposition further than can be allowed, unless we suppose this author had not the understanding even of a common gardener; for otherwise, I am persuaded, Sir Hans Sloane would not have thought his specimens worth purchasing.
I now come to that part of Mr. Miller's reply, relating to the China varnishtree,* that was raised from seeds sent to the Royal Society by Father D'Incarville; where he still insists on it, that this is the same with the spurious varnish tree of Kaempfer. His reasons are, that notwithstanding the indentation and roundness of the bottom of the lobe leaves of the China varnish-tree, and though the lobe leaves of the spurious Japan varnish-tree come to a point at the base, and are nowise indented, but quite even on the edges; yet he says, because they have an equal number of pinnæ, or lobe leaves, on the whole leaf of each tree, they must be the same.
• The true China varnish-tree is supposed to be the rhus vernix of Linneus.
In answer to this, I say their lobe-leaves are not equal; for I have examined both the specimens and drawings of Dr. Kaempfer's spurious varnish-tree, and I don't find that the number of the pinnæ exceed 7 on a side: whereas I have a smail specimen of a leaf by me, that was taken from the top of one of D'Incarville's China varnish-trees, which is above 8 feet high, and stands in an open exposure; and this leaf though but a foot long, has 12 lobe-leaves on a side, and each lobe indented at the base. See fig. 5, pl. 7, where this specimen is exactly delineated. At the same time I observed, that the leaves of the shoots of another tree were a yard long, as they were this summer at the garden young of the British Museum. Another thing is remarkable in the leaves of this China varnish-tree; and that is, the lobes of the leaves, as they approach to the end, grow smaller and smaller; whereas in the spurious Japan varnish-tree they are rather, if there is any difference, larger towards the end. I shall make this further remark, that though these indentations on the lobe-leaves may vary in number in this China varnish-tree; yet, as I observed before, since they are continued on even in the smaller leaves at the top of the branches of a tree 8 feet high in the open ground, it appears to me that this specific character, besides the form and insertion of the lobe-leaves, will ever distinguish it as a different species from the fasi-no-ki,* or spurious varnish-tree of Kompfer.
Mr. Miller now goes on to tell us, he is confirmed in his belief of their being the same, by making some observations on the seeds of this China varnish-tree; and therefore asserts that they are the same. It is natural to suppose he compared them with the accurate drawings of the seeds of Kaempfer's fasi-no-ki, p. 794. that being the only place where the seeds of it are described. Mr. Miller goes on, and allows this China varnish-tree changes to a purple in the autumn; but not so deep as the true varnish-tree. I suppose he means by this true varnish-tree, the Carolina pennated toxicodendron; for Kompfer has not told us what colour the true varnish-tree of Japan changes to in autumn.
But this is no certain proof on either side of the question, only a corroborating circumstance of the species of a tree: nor should I have mentioned it, but for the manner in which Kaempfer, with an imagination truly poetical, describes the autumnal beauty of his Fasi-no-ki, or spurious varnish-tree. bore suo autumnati quâ viridantes sylvas suaviter interpolat, intuentium oculos e longinquo in se convertit." Even this description would make one suspect it is not the same with the China varnish-tree, which, I am informed, did not turn purplish in the garden of the British Museum till the first frost came on: whereas it is well known, that some of the rhus's and toxicodendrons, particularly the Carolina pennated one, change to a fine scarlet colour in the beginning
The fisi-nc-ki is the rhus succ‹daneum. Iina.
of a dry autumn, even before any frost appears. In the next paragraph I find Mr. Miller has entirely mistaken the meaning of one part of my letter to Mr. Webb; which I must recommend to him to read again, and he will find it exactly agrees with his own sentiments. There he will find my opinion is, that notwithstanding the change of soil and situation, this sitz-dsju, or true varnish-tree, and the fasi-no-ki, or spurious varnish-tree of Kompfer, are distinct species of rhus or toxicodendron, and will ever remain so.
Mr. Miller now desires me, since I have seen Dr. Kampfer's specimens in the British Museum, to declare whether I think I am mistaken. In answer to this, and to satisfy Mr. Miller as well as myself, I have been very lately at the museum, and have looked very carefully over Dr. Kaempfer's specimens, and do sincerely think, as did other judges at the same time, that the sitz-dsju is not the same with the Carolina pennated toxicodendron, nor the fasi-no-ki the same with Father D'Incarville's China varnish-tree.
Mr. Miller informs us, that one of the best kinds of varnishes is collected from the anacardium in Japan. In answer to this, I must beg leave to show the society, that Dr. Kompfer does not so much as mention that this anacardium grows in Japan; but that the varnish which is collected from it, is brought to them from Siam: and I believe it will appear plainly from what follows, that there is not a plant of this kind in the kingdom of Japan; for Siam and Cambodia, especially the parts of those kingdoms where Kompfer informs us this * anacardium grows, lie in the latitudes of from 10 to 15 degrees north, which must be full as hot as our West Indies: so that it is not probable, that it would bear the cold of the winters in Japan; for Japan lies from the latitudes of 33 to above 40 degrees north, which is about the same parallel with our North American colonies.
Mr. Miller has only the bark of the cashew-tree left to support his argument of the dying property. This the Brasilian writers say, that the native Indians of Brasil used to dye their cotton-yarn with; but of what colour no mention is made. And whether this bark is used to give strength to this yarn, as we dye and tan our fishing-nets with oak-bark, or for ornament, is uncertain; for a great deal of this yarn was used in the making their net-hammocks, as well as their coarse garments. Mr Miller then introduces Sir Hans Sloane, in opposition to Dr. Browne, whose History of Jamaica I had quoted, to prove that the juice of the acajou was of the same nature and properties with that of the gum-arabic, and consequently not fit for varnish: whereas it plainly appears that Dr. Browne is right, and agrees exactly in opinion with Sir Hans.
* This is likewise called the Malacca bean, from its growing in great plenty on that coast, near the equinoctial line.-Orig.