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or, as Shakespeare says:

  And nightly meadow-fairies, look you sing,
  Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring:
  The expressure that it bears, green let it be,
  More fertile-fresh than all the field to see;
  And, Honi soit qui mal y pense, write,
  In emerald tufts, flowers, purple, blue, and white:
  Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
  Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee!
  Fairies use flowers for their charactery.

The instantaneous appearance of the simple
descriptions of fungi, such as mildew, mouldiness
and dry-rot, together with the curious and
unexpected localities wherein they frequently
occur, as well as the rapidity with which the
larger species, such as mushrooms and
toad-stools, spring up, and, more than all, the apparent
impossibility of the introduction of seeds in
many places where funguses are sometimes found
mouldiness for example in the very centre of
a large appleall tend to give an. air of plausibility
to an idea still somewhat entertained,
that these plants are the product of spontaneous
or equivocal generation. Botanists, however,
know that a seed is as indispensable for the
production of the minutest speck of mouldiness the
microscope can reveal to our view, as the acorn
is for the production of the giant oak of the

Fries says, respecting this spontaneous or
accidental growth of fungi, " The sporules are
so infinite (in a single individual I have counted
above ten millions), so subtile (they are scarcely
visible to the naked eye, and often resemble thin
smoke), so light (raised perhaps by evaporation
into the atmosphere), and are dispersed in so
many ways by the attraction of the sun, by
insects, wind, elasticity, adhesion, &c., that it
would be difficult to conceive a place from which
they can be excluded."

In their shapes the funguses are ever varying.
The simplest are like threads, but some shoot
out into branches like seaweed, or puff themselves
out into puff-balls; some are like a bunch
of grapes, or the beads of a necklace; and others
thrust their heads into mitres, or assume the
shape of a cup, or a wine-funnel. Some are
shell-shaped, many bell-shaped, and others hang
upon thin stalks like a lawyer's wig; some affect
the form of a horse's hoof, others of a goat's
beard; the " impudent fungus" looks the very
thing it is called, and another is only to be seen
through a thick red trellis which surrounds it.
Other funguses exhibit a nest in which they
rear their young, and passing by these vague
  If shapes they can be called, that shapes have none
of tree parasites which mould themselves at the
will of their entertainer, mention may be made
of two singular and constant forms. The first
is in shape exactly like an ear, clinging to trees
and trembling when touched, and has been de-
dicated to Judas; the other, lolling out from the
bark of chesnut-trees, is so like a tongue in form
and general appearance, that in the days of
enchanted trees and superstition none dare cut it
off for eating or pickling purposes, lest the
knight to whom it belonged should afterwards
come and claim it.

Funguses are as varying in their colours and
textures as in their sizes and shapes. The most,
splendid of all the mushrooms, Agaricus xerampelinus,
is of a beautiful red and orange colour;
while in a single genus there are to be found
species which correspond to every hue. Some
don the imperial purple, others dress themselves
in violet and yellow, while another may assume
a dingy black or milk-white complexion, or, what
is rarest of all to meet with in this class of plants,
a pale green colour. Sometimes the funguses
are zoned with concentric circles of different
lines, or spotted; at other times they are of
uniform tint. The bonnets of some shine as if
they were sprinkled with mica, and others
appear to be made of velvet or kid. The
consistence of fungi differs according to the sort,
from a watery pulp to a fleshy, leathery, corky,
or woody texture.

The odours and tastes of funguses are very
characteristic. Some yield an insupportable
stench, as for example the Clathrus, the offensive
odour of which had given rise to the superstition,
throughout the Landes, that it is capable
of producing cancer, and in consequence the
inhabitants cover it carefully over, lest by
accident some one should chance to touch it, and
become infected with that disease. Others
smell strongly of onions, or cinnamon, or apricots,
or ratafia, or "like the bloom of May,"
or a stale poultice, or red mullet; the Hydna
generally gives out a smell of tallow; and
moulds have each their peculiar smell. As
regards the tastes of fungi, sweet, sapid, sour,
peppery, rich, rank, acid, nauseous, and bitter,
are all terms which describe them. In a few,
generally unsafe ones, there is little or no taste
in the mouth while they are being masticated,
but shortly after swallowing the throat becomes
dry, and there is a sense of choking.

Of all vegetable productions funguses are the
most highly azotised, that is to say, that in
addition to the usual chemical constituents of
vegetable tissuesoxygen, hydrogen, and carbon
a fourth element is now found to exist in great
abundance, which was formerly looked up to
as affording the only mark of distinction between
plants and animals. This element is azote, or
nitrogen, and shows itself by the strong
cadaverous smell which some of them give out in
decaying, and also by the savoury, meat-like
taste which others afford. Dr. Marcet has
proved that, like animals, they absorb a large
quantity of oxygen, and disengage in return
from their surface a large quantity of carbonic
acid, with the exception of a few, which give out
hydrogen, or azotic gas. They yield moreover,
to chemical analysis, in addition to sugar, gum,
and resin, a peculiar acid called fungic acid, and
a variety of salts.

Several kinds of funguses, and the spawn of
the truffle, emit a phosphorescent light. In Italy
the olive mushroom (Agaricus olearius) is often
seen shining brightly amidst the darkness of the