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had the same precursor in suffi- with the late earthquake, an opcient abundance; such a rainy portunity may perhaps be affordsummer as the past having been ed to you or them, either to hardly remembered by any one. strengthen one or other of the The rain water, gradually perco- old theories, or to offer some new lating into the bowels of the earth, and still more rational explanamay be converted into steam, by tion of a phenomenon which cana combustion, to which a variety not fail highly to interest the enof causes may give excitement. lightened and reflecting mind, as Amongst these, the moistening of well as to impress it with the large beds of pyrites may perhaps most profound admiration of the be offered as one of the most power of the Deity. simple explanations. Our late I remain, Sir, earthquake, however, may have Your obedient humble servant, not improbably had some remote
THOMAS LAUDER Dick. connection with a subterraneous volcanic influence ; and an account which appeared from Na
An Essay on the Oopas, or Poisonples, informing us that, on Au
tree of Java, by Thomas Horsegust 7 last, Vesuvius was again
field, M. D. in action, renders this last idea the less unlikely. Although, per- (From the Seventh Volume of the Trans
actions of the Lit. and Phil. Soc. of Java.) haps, not caused by electricity, it is very evident that this subtle I have proposed to myself in agent was not entirely absent- on the following essay, to offer you the late occasion, as may be not a short account of the Oopas of only considered apparent from Java. I feel some satisfaction in some of the effects produced, but being able, at a time when every is also proved by the flash of subject relating to this island has lightning seen to accompany the acquired a degree of interest, to other phenomena at Montrose. furnish you with a faithful deThe electric theory of earthquakes scription of the tree, made by has been supported by Dr. Stuke- myself on the spot where it grows, ly, in his papers in vol. xlvi. of and to relate its effects on the the Philosophical Transactions: animal system by experiments and the Chevalier Vivenzio sup- personally instituted and superinposes the same cause to have ope- tended; and I fatter myself that rated ' in producing those of the practical information detailed Calabria in 1783. But I cannot in the following sheets will refute conceive electricity to have been the falsehoods that have been pubthe primary agent in producing lished concerning this subject, at the shock of August 13 last ; the same time that it will remove otherwise it must have certainly the uncertainty in which it has left more unequivocal effects be- been enveloped. hind it. Having, however, en- The literary and scientific world deavoured in this paper to bring has in few instances been more before your readers most of the grossly and impudently imposed facts and appearances connected upon than by the account of the Vol. LVIII.
Pohon Oopas, published in Hol- lation to the Dutch government land about the year 1780. The at that period, or with its inhistory and origin of this cele. ternal history during the last fifty brated forgery still remains a years, the first glance at the acmystery. Foersch, who put his count of Foersch must have name to the publication, certainly evinced its falsity and misreprewas (according to information I sentation. Long after it had been have received from creditable promulgated, and published in persons who have long resided the different public journals in on the island) a surgeon in the most of the languages of Europe, Dutch East India Company's ser- a statement of facts, amounting vice, about the time the account to a refutation of this account, of the Oopils appeared.* It would was published in one of the be in some degree interesting to volumes of the Transactions of become acquaivted with his cha- the Batavian Society, or in one racter. I have been led to sup- of its prefatory addresses. But pose that his literary abilities were not having the work at hand, I as mean, as his contempt of truth cannot with certainty refer to it, was consummate.
nor shall I enter into a regular Having hastily picked up some examination and refutation of the vague information concerning the publication of Foersch, which is Oopas, he carried it to Europe, too contemptible to merit such where his notes were arranged, attention. doubtlessly by a different hand, But though the account just in such a form, as by their plau- mentioned, in so far as relates to sibility and appearance of truth, the situation of the Poison Tree, to be generally credited.
to its effects on the surrounding It is in no small degree sur- country, and to the application prising that so palpable a false- said to have been made of the hood should have been asserted Oopas on criminals in different with so much boldness and have parts of the island, as well as the remained so long without refuta- description of the poisonous subtion-or that a subject of a na- stance itself, and its mode of colture so curious and so easily in- lection, has been demonstrated to vestigated, relating to its prin- be an extravagant forgery,—the cipal colony, should not have been existence of a tree on Java, from inquired into and corrected by whose sap a poison is prepared, the naturalists of the mother- equal in fatality, when thrown country.
into the circulation, to the strongTo a person in any degree ac- est animal poisons hithertoknown, quainted with the geography of is a fact, which it is at present the island, with the manners of my object to establish and to ilthe princes of Java, and their re- lustrate.
The tree which produces this
poison is called Antshar, and grows * Foersch was a surgeon of the third class at Samarang in the year 1773. His
in the eastern extremity of the account of the Oopas Tree appeared in
island. Before I proceed to the description of it and of the effects
produced by its poison, I must inquiry, and noted with minute premise a few remarks on the his- attention every thing that related tory of its more accurate investi- to their history and operation. gation, and on the circumstances It is in fact more surprizing which have lately contributed to that a subject of so much notobring a faithful account of this riety in the district of Blambansubject before the public.
gan, and of so great celebrity and At the time I was prosecuting misrepresentation in every other my inquiries into the botany and part of the world, should so long natural history of the island on have reinained unexplored, than behalf of the Dutch government, that it should finally have been M. Leschenault de La Tour, a noticed and described; and since French naturalist, was making a my visit to that province I have private collection of objects of more than once remarked the natural history for the governor coincidence which led two persons of the north-east coast of Java. of nations different from each He shortly preceded me in my other, and from that which has visit to the eastern districts of the been long in possession of the island, and while I was on my island, who commenced their inroute from Sourabaya in that di- quiries without any previous comrection, I received from him a munication and with different obcommunication containing an ac- jects in view, within the period count of the poison-tree as he of about six inonths, to visit found it in the province of Blam- and examine the Oopas Tree of bangan. I am induced to make Java. this statement, in order to con- The work of Rumphius contains cede, as far as regards myself, to a long account of the Oopas, unMr. Leschenault de La Tour, in der the denomination of Arbor the fullest manner, the priority of Toxicaria ; the tree does not grow observing the Oopas of Java. I in Anıboyna, and his description do this to prevent any reflection, was made from the information in case a claim to the discovery he obtained from Macassat. should be made at a future pe- His figure was drawn from a riod: but I must be permitted to branch of that which was called add in justice to the series of in- the male tree, sent to him from quiries which engaged me and the same place, and establishing the manner in which they were the identity of the poison-tree of carried on, that the knowledge of Macassar and the other Eastern the existence of this tree was by Islands with the Antshar of Java. no means uncommon or secret in The account of this author is the district of Blambangan, in the too extensive to be abridged in environs of Banyoo-wangee; that this place. It concentrates all the commandant of the place, a that has till lately been published man of some curiosity and inquiry, on this subject ; but the relation was acquainted with it, and that is mixed with many assertions it could not (in all probability) and remarks of a fabulous nature, have escaped the notice of a per- and it is highly probable that it son, who made the vegetable pro- was consulted in the fabrication ductions an object of particular of Foersch's story. It is, how
2 P 2
ever, highly interesting, as it to the game, and, by a different gives an account of the effects of mode of preparation, furnishes a the poisoned darts, formerly em- poison far exceeding the Oopas ployed in the wars of the Eastern in violence. Its name is Tshettik, islands, on the human system, and its specific description will and of the remedies by which succeed to that of the Antshar. their effect was counteracted and The genus has not before been cured.
discovered or described. The simple sap of the Arbor Toxicaria (according to Rum
Description of the Antshar. phius) is harmless, and requires The Antshar belongs to the the addition of ginger and several twenty-first class of Linnæus, substances analogous to it, such the Monoecia. The male and as Ledoory and Lampoegang, to female flowers are produced in render it active and mortal. In catkins (amenta) on the same so far it agrees with the Antshar, branch, at no great distance from which in its simple state is sup- each other, the female flowers are posed to be inert, and before in general above the male. being used as a poison, is sub- The characters of the genus jected to a preparation which will be described after the history of MALE. FLOWER-Calix consistthe tree. The same effervescence ing of several scales, which are and boiling which occurs on the imbricate. mixture of the substances added Corol. None-Stamines. Filato the milky juice by the Javanese ments many, very short, covered in Blambangan, has been ob- by the scales of the receptacle served in the preparation of the anthers. poison of Macassar, and in pro- The receptacle on which the portion to the violence of these filaments are placed, has a coeffects the poison is supposed to nical form, abrupt, somewhat be active.
rounded above. A dissertation has been pub- FEMALE.
Catkins lished by Crisp. Æjmlæus at ovate. Calix consisting of a numUpsal, which contains the sub- ber of imbricate scales (generally stance of the account of Rum- more than in the inale) containphius;
an extract from it is given ing one flower. in · Dr. Duncan's Medic. Com- Corol. None. ment. for the year 1790. 2d vol. Pistil-Germ single, ovate, Vth Decad.
erect ; styles two, long, slender, It appears from the account of spreading; stigmas simple, acute. Rumphius that this tree is also Seed-vessel, an oblong drupe, found in Borneo, Sumatra and covered with the calix. Bali.
Seed, an ovate nut, with one Besides the true poison-tree, cell. the (opas of the Eastern Islands, and the Antshar of the Javanese,
Specific Description. this island produces a shrub, The Antshar is one of the largest which, as far as observations have trees in the forests of Java. The hitherto been made, is peculiar stem is cylindrical, perpendicular,
and rises completely naked to the and even when it appears comheight of sixty, severity or eighty pletely purified, persons wearing feet. Near the surface of the this dress, on being exposed to ground it spreads obliquely, di- the rain, are affected with. an inviding into numerous broad ap- tolerable itching, which renders pendages or wings, much like the their flimsy covering almost inCanarian
commune, and several supportable. others of our large forest trees. It will appear from the account It is covered with a whitisha bark, of the manner in which the poislightly bursting in longitudinal son is prepared, that the deletefurrows: near the ground this rious quality exists in the gum, bark is, in old trees, more than a small portion of which still allhalf an inch thick, and, upon hering to the trark, produces, being wounded, yields plentifully when it becomes wet, this irrithe milky juice from which the tating effect, and it is singular, celebrated poison is prepareil. A that this property of the prepared puncture or incision being inade bark is known to the Javanese in in the tree, the juice or sap ap- all places where the tree grow3 pears oozing out, of a yellowish (for instance in various parts of colour (somewhat frothy); from the provinces of Bangil and Maold trees, paler; and nearly white lang, and even at Onarang), from young ones : when exposed while the preparation of a poison to the air, its surface becomes from its juice, which produces a brown. The consistence very mortal effect when introduced much resembles milk, only it is into the body by pointed weapons, thicker and viscid. This sap is is an exclusive art of the inhabicontained in the true bark (or tints of the eastern extremity of cortex), which, when punctured, the island. yields a considerable quantity, so One of the Regents in the that in a short time a cup full eastern districts informed me, may be collected from a large that having many years ago pretree. The inner bark (or liber) pared caps or bonnets from the is of a close fibrous texture, like inner bark of the Antshar, which that of the morus papyrifera, and were stiffened in the usual manner when separated from the other with thick rice water, and handbark, and cleansed from the ad- somely painted, for the purpose hering particles, resembles a of decorating his Mantries, they coarse piece of linen. It has been all decidedly refused to wear worked into ropes which are very them, asserting that they would strong, and the poorer class of cause their hair to fall off. people employ the inner bark of The stem of the Antshar having younger trees, which is more arrived at the before-mentioned easily prepared, for the purpose of height, sends off a few stout making a coarse stuff which they branches, which spreading nearly wear when working in the fields. horizontally with several irreguBut it requires much bruising, lar curves, divide into smaller washing, and a long immersion branches, and form a hemisphein water before it can be used, rical, but not very regular crown.