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no doubt. It reminds you of your donkey, which
turns aside its head from a bunch of freshsweet
grass to munch dirty straw and dusty dead
leaves. It is their nature to.

Another instance of long life under simple
treatment is the original plant of Neottopteris
Australasica at Kew, imported in 1825, and now
a magnificent specimen, although but, rarely
shifted during those forty years and more.
This, however, is far surpassed in size and
beauty by the Neottopteris musæfolia, or
Banana-leaved Bird's-nest Fern, a species
described in the following words: "I saw two fine
specimens of the Bird's-nest Fern, each of which
had between forty and fifty perfect green leaves;
the average length of the leaves was six feet,
and from one foot to fourteen inches across in
the broadest part. They were growing on each
side of a doorway; when I was walking up to
them, I thought they were American aloes."

But the age of these, as well as of Mr
Smith's Marine Aspleniums, must be trifling
compared with that of many tree ferns growing
wild with trunks from twenty to thirty feet
high and moreor even with that of specimens
of our native species which have a tendency in
their old days to run up to stalk. The Osmunda,
for instance, the royal or flowering fern, grows
in tufts, which, in favourable situations, and
with age, become erect and trunk-like, often
attaining an elevation of two feet or more and
requiring time to do it in.

The development of the Tree Fern from the
scarcely visible spore to the lofty-plumed
columnar shaft is long, long, long. That spore
might be the grain of mustard-seed of Scripture.
Consequently, like the Scholasticus who bought
a crow to see whether it would live a couple of
centuries, I have procured an infant Australian
tree fern, to ascertain how long it will take to
grow as tall as my house is high.

And not only are ferns long lived as individuals,
they are geologically ancient of days. We hear
of old people, who knew other old people,
who had talked with or knew somebody who
had talked with Dr. Johnson, or Richard III,
or possibly King Stephen and William Rufus
It is a question whether some of our human
forefathers have not seen mammoths and
gigantic Irish elks in the flesh. There is no
question, but a certainty, that ferns were
"Hail fellow, well met!" with strange and
remarkable vegetable forms whose
representatives have long ceased to exist.

The coal which cooks our Sunday dinners
mainly consists of the ferns which increased and
multiplied long before such a thing as Sunday
existed. They were contemporaneous with the
Sigillarias, the Lepidodendrons, the Stigmarias,
and the Calamitesall now swept away to the
limbo of the past. Their vigorous growth was
unbrowsed on by ruminant, ungnawed by
rodent animals. No collectors ravaged them
for the London markets, "leading to the
extinction of rare native species, and rendering
even the more common scarce in localities
within easy reach." They are the connecting
ink between, the present era and the hot old
times of scalding rain and of earthquakes
shaking the land as housemaids shake carpets.
They knew the days when there was no such
thing as climate, the earth being everywhere
warm alike. Our planet was still so hot in
itself that its innate temperature rendered
superfluous and inappreciable the heat which
reached it from the sun.

Tell me, proud arborescent Fern, are the
intense heat and incessant rains of tropical
Africa only a mild souvenir of the atmospheric
state ofthe Carboniferous Period? If so, you will
allow that it is better, if not for you, for me at
least, to have come into the world now than then.


MANY years ago, when I was a young man,
I had occasion to travel on business of
importance in the north of Ireland. Arrived at
Newry in the evening, I received the pleasant
intelligence that no "kyar" could be had to take
me on that night to the place of my destination,
a village some eight or ten milesIrish miles
beyond Rosstrevor, the next attempt at a town.

"Sure couldn't yer honour stop where I
was for the night? The beds was iligint, and
divil a bit o' good was to be done out the night.
It was goin' to rain and blow, snow, maybe,
and the road undher the mountain, along by
the say, was a wild place intirely, haardly a
house anywhere along it, an'," in a lowered
tone, "thim most partly hanted."

But my business brooked no delay, and I
persisted in my inquiries, till I found that if I
chose to leave my valise to be sent after me in
the morning I could hire a "horse-baste."

"Jist give the baste his head," were the
parting words of the owner; "don't bother
him any way, at all, at all; but spake till him
whiles, he'll understand your honour like a
Christian, an' divil a bit o' need ye'll have for
whip or spur."

And so it proved, and I began to hope that,
if the rain kept off, the journey might not turn
out so miserable as I had expected.

But not long was I allowed to cherish that
fond illusion. We had got far beyond the last
houses that straggled in the environs of the
village, and were fairly "undher the mountain
and along by the say," which, for the most part
invisible, made its close vicinity known by the
crashing roar of its troubled waters, and
occasionally even by a far-sent jet of spray, keen
and salt, on my face. Even in summer daylight,
I remembered, there was along here as dreary
a bit of road as need be seen. On the left
towered steep the dark mountain, on the right
the barren shore was swept by the tide; the
road, never of the best, was now terribly cut
up by long-continued rains, and ere we had
struggled long through the difficulties that beset
our progress, I began to feel that the willing little
horse was becoming distressed by his efforts
to keep his footing among the unseen holes
and ruts that he encountered at every step.