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have been, if the nard of GarçıAs and of ARRIAN was one and the same plant, it is wonderful, that it should ever have been exported to Persia and Arabia, where it grew, we are told, in so great abundance. The nard of Arabia was, probably, the ANDROPOGON Schænanthus, which is a native of that country; but, even if we suppose, that the spikenard of India was a reed or a grass, we shall never be able to distinguish it among the many Indian species of Cypirus, Andropogon, Schænus, Carex, and other genera of those natural orders, which here form a wilderness of sweets, and some of which have not only fragrant roots, but even spikes in the ancient and modern senses of that emphatical word; one of them, which I never have seen in blossom, but suppose from its appearance to be a Schænus, is even called Gónarda, and its dry root has a most agreeable odour ; another, which RHEEDE names Bálaca, or Ramacciam, or white Irivéli, and which BURMAN thought a variety of the Schænanthus, is a considerable article, it seems, of Indian commerce, and, therefore, cultivated with diligence, but less esteemed than the black fort, or Carabála, which has a more fragrant root and affords an extremely odoriferous oil (e). All those plants would, perhaps, have been called nards by the ancients; and all of them have stronger pretensions to the appellation of the true Spikenard, than the Febrifuge ANDROPOGON, which the Hindus of Behár do not use as a perfume. After all, it is assuming a fact without proof, to assert, that the Indian fpikenard was evidently gramineous; and, surely, that fact is not proved by the word arista, which is conceived to be of a Grecian origin, though never applied in the fame sense by the Greeks themselves, who perfectly well knew what was best for mankind in the vegetable system, and for what gift they adored the goddess of Eleusis. The Roman poets (and poets only are cited by Dr. BLANE, though natur
(e) 12 Hort. Malab. tab. 12. and 9 H. M. p. 145. Sce also the Flora Indica, and a note from HerMAN on the valuable oil of Serce,
alists also are mentioned) were fond of the word arista, because it was very convenient at the close of an hexameter, where we generally, if not constantly, find it; as Homer declares in LUCIAN, that he began his Iliad with Mons, because it was the first commodious word, that presented itself, and is introduced laughing at a profound critick, who discovered in that single word an epitome of the whole poem on the wrath of ACHILLES: such poets as Ovid and LACTANTIUS described plants, which they never had seen, as they described the nest of the phenix, which never existed, from their fancy alone ; and their descriptions ought not seriously to be adduced as authorities on a queltion merely botanical ; but, if all the naturalists of Greece and Italy had concurred in assuring us, that the nard of India bore an ear or spike, without naming the source of their own information, they would have deserved no credit whatever ; because not one of them pretends to have seen the fresh plant, and they had not even agreed among themselves, whether its virtues resided in the root or in the husky leaves and stalks, that were united with it. PIETRO DELLA VALLE, the most learned and accomplished of eastern travellers, does not feem to have known the Indian spikenard, though he mentions it more than once by the obsolete name of Spigonardo ; but he introduces a Sumbul from Khatá, or a part of China, which he had seen dry, and endeavours to account for the Arabick name in the following manner :-“ Since the Khatáian
Sumbul, says he, is not a spike but a root, it was probably so named, “ because the word Sumbul may fignify, in a large acceptation, not
only the spike, but the whole plant, whatever herb or grass may be “ sown; as the Arabick dictionary (f), entitled Kámús, appears to in“ dicate:” The passage, to which he alludes, is this : “SUMBUL, says “ the author of the Kámús, is an odoriferous plant, the strongest of
(f) Giacche Sombol del Cataio é radice e non è Spiga, potremmo dire, che così s'i chiami, perchè forse la parola Sombol pofsa piu largamente significare non solo la spiga, ma tutta la pianta di ogni erba ò biada, che li femini; come par, che il Camūs, vacabolario Arabico, ne dia indizio.
Lett, 18. di Dagbd d.
which is the Súrì, and the weakest, the Hindi ; but the Sumbul of Rúm “ has the name of nardin.” I suggested in my
paper, and shall repeat in this, that the Indian spikenard, as it is gathered for use, is in fact the whole plant ; but there is a better reason why the name Sumbul has been applied to it. By the way, DELLA VALLE failed, as he tells us, along the coast of Macrán, which he too supposes to have been a part of Gedrofia; but he never had heard, that it produced Indian spikenard, though the Persians were fully acquainted with that province ; for he would not have omitted so curious a fact in his correspondence with a learned physician of Naples, for whose fake he was particularly inquisitive concerning the drugs of Asia : it is much to be wished, that he had been induced to make a short excursion into the plains of Macrán, where he might have found, that the wonderful tree, which ARRIAN places in them, with flowers like violets, and with thorns of such force and magnitude, as to keep wild beasts in captivity, and to transfix men on horseback, who rode by them incautiously, was no more probably than a Mimosa, the blossoms of which resembled violets in nothing but in having an agreeable scent.
Let us return to the Arabs, by whom DIOSCORIDES was translated with aflıftance, which the wealth of a great prince will always purchase, from learned Greeks, and who know the Indian spikenard, better than any European, by the name of Sumbulu'l Hind: it is no wonder, that they represent it as weaker in scent and in power than the Sumbul of the lower Aña, which, unless my smell be uncommonly defective, is a strong Valerian ; especially as they could only have used the dry nard of India, which loses much of its odour between Rangpur and Calcutta. One question only remains (if it be a question), whether the Sumbulu'l Hind be the true Indian spikenard ; for, in that case, we know the plant to be of the natural order, which Linnæus calls aggregate. Since the
publication of my paper on this subject, I put a fair and plain question severally to three or four Muselman physicians, " What is the Indian
name of the plant, which the Arabs call Sumbulu'l Hind?” They all answered, but some with more readiness than others, Fatámánsì. After a pretty long interval, I shewed them the Spikes (as they are called) of Jatámánsì, and asked, what was the Arabick name of that Indian drug : they all answered readily, Sumbulu'l Hind. The same evidence may be obtained in this country by any other European, who seeks it ; and if, among twelve native physicians, versed in Arabian and Indian philology, a single man should after due consideration give different answers, I will cheerfully submit to the Roman judgement of non liquet. My own inquiries having convinced me, that the Indian spikenard of Dioscorides is the Sumbulu'l Hind, and that the Sumbulu'l Hind is the Jatámánsì of AMARSINH, I am persuaded, that the true nard is a species of Valerian, produced in the most remote and hilly parts of India, such as Népál, Morang, and Butan, near which PTOLEMY fixes its native soil : the commercial agents of the Dévarája call it also Pampi, and, by their account, the dried specimens, which look like the tails of ermines, rise from the ground, resembling ears of green wheat both in form and colour ; a fact, which perfectly accounts for the names Stachys, Spica, Sumbul, and Khúshah, which Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Perfans have given to the drug, though it is not properly a spike, and not merely a root, but the whole plant, which the natives gather for sale, before the radical leaves, of which the fibres only remain after a few months, have unfolded themselves from the base of the stem. It is used, say the Butan agents, as a perfume and in medicinal unguents, but with other fragrant substances, the scent and power of which it is thought to increase: as a medicine, they add, it is principally esteemed for complaints in the bowels. Though considerable quantities of fatámánsì are brought in the caravans from Butan, yet the living plants, by a law of the country, cannot be exported without a licence from the sovereign,
and the late Mr. Purling, on receiving this intelligence, obligingly wrote, for my fatisfaction, to the Dévarája, requesting him to send eight or ten of the plants to Rangpur: ten were accordingly sent in pots from Tafsudan, with as many of the natives to take care of them under a chief, who brought a written answer from the Rájá of Butan; but that prince made a great merit of having complied with such a request, and my friend had the trouble of entertaining the messenger and his train for several weeks in his own house, which they seem to have left with reluctance. An account of this transaction was contained in one of the last letters, that Mr. Purling lived to write ; but, as all the plants withered before they could reach Calcutta, and as inquiries of greater importance engaged all my time, there was an end of my endeavours to procure the fresh fatámánsì, though not of my conviction, that it is the true nard of the ancients.