Imagens das páginas
PDF
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

LATE LEcrURER 01v COMPARATIVE ANATOMY Ar CHARING-CROSS HosPIrAL. [PLATE orv.]

[ocr errors]

“They spawne, as it were, in March and Aprill; the Geese are found in Maie and June, and come to fulnesse of feathers in the moneth after. And thus hauing through God’s assistance, dicoursed somewhat at large of Grasses, Herbes, Shrubs, Trees, Mosses, and certaine excrescences of the earth, with other things moe incident to the Historic thereof, we conclude and ende our present volume, with this woonder of England. For which God’s name be euer honored and praised.”—Gerarde, Herball, 1633.

“ Da ich nach meiner Art zu forschen, zu wissen, und zu geniesen mich nur an Symbole halten darf, so gehiiren diese Geschtipfe zu den Heiligthiimern, welche fetischartig immer vor mir stehen und durch ihr seltsame Gebilde, die nach dem Regellosen strebende, sich selbst immer regelnde und so im Kleinsten wie im GrOssten durchaus gott-und menschenahnliche Natur sinnlich vergegenwiirtigen.”—Goethe, Die Lepaden, 1823.

HE words with which the great poet-philosopher of Germany concludes a fragmentary note on the Barnacles, and which are placed at the head of this article, stand in somewhat striking contrast with the pious sentiments preceding them, expressed just two centuries before, by “ old Gerarde,” as many still lovingly term him, as a fitting conclusion to the description of the Bernicle-tree, which forms the last of the Appendices to his ponderous “ Herball.”

The above difference in the way of regarding the same subject, may, however, be no less due to the difference in the range of vision of the renowned courtier of Weimar and of the comparatively obscure English “master in Chirurgerie,” than to a probable “ change of type ” in 3 he mind of men brought about during the lapse of two centuries.

Although, from the scope of the periodical in which it appears, this article should properly be zoological rather than

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][graphic]

historical in its bearings, it will not, I think, be out of place, before we enter upon the region of crude—and, may be, uninteresting—fact, to take a preliminary glance at a myth which has been for so long a period associated with the creatures which are the subject of the following pages, and traces of which even now exist in the nomenclature of the naturalisti"

Professor Max Miller, in his charming work on the Science Of Language, devotes several pages to the tracing out of this myth through its several phases, which extend over a period of no less than five centuries.

It was language, believes this, one of our best philologists, which first suggested this myth ; for, as he well Observes, “ Words without definite meanings are at the bottom of nearly all our philosophical and religious controversies, and even the sO-called exact sciences have frequently been led astray by the same Siren voice.”

“Barnacle,” in the sense Of the marine animals which are the subject of this article, though nearly identical in sound with “Barnacles” in the sense of spectacles,T had, originally, no connection whatever with that term, being evidently the diminution Of the Latin pe'rna, a ham ; pernacula being changed into bernaculad

Now whence did the “ Bernicle goose,” the reputed progeny, adult form, or imago, of this supposed mollusc, derive its. deceitful and misleading title? Bernicle geese were caught in Ireland (Hibernia), and were hence probably called originally Hibernicce or Hiberniculw. By a dropping of the first syllable —-which frequently occurs in Latin words which have found their way into the modern Romance dialects—the word became transformed into Bemiculce, a term almost synonymous with the name of the shells, Bernaculce. As the names, then, were identical, or nearly so, “ argal,” the creatures were one and the

* “No man would suspect Linnaeus of having shared the vulgar error, nevertheless he retained the name of Anetp'fera, or duck-bearing, as given to, the shell, and that of Berm'cula, as given to the goose.”-—-Max Miiller.

1' In this sense the word may soon be disposed of. It seems to be connected with the German Brille, which is a corruption Of beryllus—“ gemma speculum presbiterorum aut veterum d i brill ” (Diefenbach, Glossarium Latino- Germanicum). In Old French the word be'rz'cle is used in the same sense, and in the dialect of Berri the form bemiques is found. The word bmmiculc appears to be traceable to beryllus, through the intermediate modification berynicula or beryllicula (dimin.).

1 “ Appellantur et pernae concharum generis, circa Ponties insulas frequentissimae. Stant velut suillo crure longo in arena defixae, hiantesque, qua limpitudo est, pedin non minus spatio, cibum venantur.”_Pliny, Hist. Nat. 32, 55.

VOL. KIL—NO. XLIX. C C

same. Such reasoning is irresistible, and must, of course, be conclusive l *

The vitality and antiquity of this myth was great ; for though it had to run the gauntlet of contradiction—cg. by Albertus Magnus and by Roger Bacon, in the thirteenth century,1' the belief in the miraculous transformation of the Barnacle-shell into the Barnacle-goose was as firmly established in the twelfth as it was in the seventeenth century. No better instance of the reality of this belief can be given than the fact that Berniclegeese were allowed to be eaten during Lent, as they were not fowl but fish—an iniquitous custom against which Giraldus Cambrensis with much zeal and unction inveighs.

A brief relation may not be without interest of the myth which had not only managed to struggle against contradictions no less than five centuries, but was of such seemingly sufiicient stability that it could be turned to account by the faithful— both pastor and flock—in the no little important matter of varying—so elastic is the zoology of ecclesiastical dietetics i— the somewhat meagre monotony of Lenten dishes.

Bellenden, archdeacon of Murray, thus quaintly renders the description of the origin of the “ geis genesit of the see, namit clakis,”§ given by One Hector Boece, in a Latin history of Scotland (1527) :—“ All treis that ar cassin in the seis be proces of tyme apperis first wormeetin, and in the small boris

* One Joannes Caius, however, suggests to Gesner, that the bird called Bemaclus ought to be called Bernclacus, for the Old Britons and the modern Scots called, and still call, the wild goose Clake. “Hence they still retain the name which is corrupted with us, Lake or Fenlake, tie. lake goose, instead of Fencklake, for our people frequently change letters, and say bem for bren.” One fatal objection to this theory is that among the numerous varieties of the name berm'cula not one comes at all near to bemckzcus.

1‘ The former declares that he saw the birds lay eggs and hatch them, which fact was corroborated later (in 1599) by some Dutch sailors who had visited Greenland. fEneas Sylvius (afterwards Pope Pius II.), when on a visit to King James (1393-1437) who, by the way, he terms “ hominem quadratum [the ‘ dvflp nrpdywvog’ of Aristotle P] et multa pinguetudine gravem,” inquired after the bernacle-tree, and complains, somewhat petulantly, that miracles will always flee farther and farther, for that when he came to Scotland to see the tree, he was told that it grew further north in the Orcades.

I Professor Max Miiller states that in Bombay, where with some classes of people fish is a prohibited article of food, the priests call the barnacle a sea-vegetable, under which name it is allowed to be eaten.

§ Gesner, in the Third Book (“ Qui est de Avium natura ”) of his Historic Animalium, gives two rough woodcuts of the “ clakis,” and states, inter alia, that the bemiclre were called Barliatce, but that he prefers brdtee, or

bemicle.

« AnteriorContinuar »