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INSCRIBED

WITH THE GREATEST REGARD

AS A MEMORIAL OF LONG FRIENDSHIP

TO

SAMUEL SWINTON ESQUIRE

OF SWINTON NB

BY

THE AUTHOR.

ON

THE SPIKENARD OF THE ANCIENTS.

BY

CHARLES HATCHETT, Esq. F.R. S. &c.

THE

HE History of the Nardus Indica or Spikenard of the Ancients had been long involved in doubt and obscurity, until the late Sir Gilbert Blane made a communication upon the subject in the year 1790, to the Royal Society, and satisfactorily corroborated the opinion of Linnæus, who in his system, had arranged it in the order of Grasses ;-and although Sir William Jones, in a Paper published in the Second Volume of the Asiatic Researches, arguing as a Philologer, rather than as a Botanist, did not agree with Linnæus, but thought the true Nardus Indica, to be a plant known in India by the name of Jatamansi, yet taking all circumstances into consideration, there is every reason to believe that Linnæus was in the right when he classed it with the Grasses, and the facts detailed by Sir Gilbert Blane, with others which have been subsequently ascertained, leave scarcely any doubt, that the plant described by Sir Gilbert Blane is the true Spikenard of the Ancients.

Sir Gilbert Blane was enabled to communicate this information, in consequence of having received a letter with a well preserved

B

dried specimen of the plant, from his brother who was residing at Lucknow, and Sir Joseph Banks having carefully examined it, pronounced it to be a Species of those Grasses called by Linnæus Andropogon, but different from any other of that genus hitherto described in botanical systems, and different from any plant usually imported under the name of Nardus.*

Mr. Blane of Lucknow, in his letter to his brother, dated December 1786, states, that when travelling with the Nabob Visier upon a hunting excursion towards the Northern mountains, he was one day surprised by perceiving the air perfumed with an aromatic odour, and upon asking the cause, he was told that it proceeded from the grass trodden and bruised by the feet of the elephants and horses of the Nabob's retinue.

Mr. Blane collected some of the roots and planted them in his garden at Lucknow, where they throve, and in the rainy season shot up spikes six feet in height, one of which was the specimen sent by him to his brother, and subsequently examined by Sir Joseph Banks.

The manner by which Mr. Blane was induced to notice this plant, singularly corresponds as Sir Gilbert Blane observes, with an occurrence stated by Arrian in his History of the Expedition of Alexander the great into India, Arrian relates that during the march of the army through the deserts of Gadrosia now called Makran, a maritime province of Persia situate between Kerman and the River Indus, being the frontier of Persia towards India, the air was perfumed by the Spikenard which was trampled under foot by the army, and that the Phoenicians who accompanied the expedition, collected large quantities of it to carry to their own

Pomet (History of Drugs) and Lewis (History of the Materia Medica) also speak of the Nardus Indica as a species of Grass, and carefully distinguish it from the Nardus Celtica, which is a small species of Valerian, and from the Nardus Italica which is a Lavender.

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