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Art. XXVIII. Svenska Lafvarnas Färghistoria; or, The Uses of the Lichens in Dyeing, and other Economical Purposes. By J. P. Westring, M.D. Physician to the King of Sweden. No. I. pp. 48, No. II. pp. 32. Price 5s. each. Boosey. 1806.

THE nature and utility of this publication intitle it to attention in every country, where lichens can be produced or procured, and dyeing is an object of importance. It commenced late in the year 1805, and will be completed in twenty-four numbers, including seventy-two lichens (the most valuable of two hundred and twenty, on which, during fifteen years, the author has been making experiments); plates, neatly coloured, are introduced to represent the several lichens, and to display a specimen of the different dies which they yield under different processes. These processes are very clearly drawn up, in a manner adapted for the weakest capacity; and the different economical uses are specified so distinctly, as to excite attention from persons who have hitherto been wholly ignorant of their properties.

It might be expected that the country of Linnæus should continue to possess men of talents in Natural History; and his disciples, of late, seem to have formed a phalanx to defend its title to this distinction. Works of the greatest merit, in every branch of the science, have, within a short space of time, been laid before the public, by such men as Swartz, Thunberg, Quenzel, Palmstruch, Sparrman, Achurius, and others. The Lichens, however, had no distinct history that described all their properties; when Mr. Westring undertook the task. In performing it, he connects and completes his numerous essays on the subject, which have repeatedly been inserted in the transactions of the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm.*

This study has certainly been too much neglected in our own country, notwithstanding the respectable labours of Lord Dundonald and others, in discovering and describing the properties of various mosses. We are of opinion therefore, that a translation of the present work would give this pursuit a rank, in the estimation of English botanists and general readers, which hitherto it has never obtained. Independently of other advantages, it provides in the dyeing only, three new sources of industry. 1st. To the poor the gathering and preparing it promises a comfortable livelihood+; 2dly, the dyeing itself, will be more frequent and give employment to more hands, as according to the author's method it is not difficult, and is always serviceable; 3dly, to the ladies it may afford an amusing and innocent occupation, and those who have nothing better to do may be kept out of mischief: for the process will answer as well on a small scale as a large one, and thus in a pint bottle they may dye silks, ribbons, &c. of almost every colour with the greatest ease and expedition.

It has often been remarked, and many of our readers will object, that * See the transactions for 1791-1795, &c. Rev.

Many families in Leith already subsist by the latter branch of the employment. Rev.

the colours produced from lichens are never genuine, and will not stand; but the author has proved, by various experiments, that this assertion is unfounded. He remarks further, what may appear somewhat curious, that these colours are almost the only vegetable colours, that will adhere to white marble. They penetrate deep into it, he says, and may be used in painting upon it, in any hue that fancy may dictate. Might not experiments be made on glass and corals also?

Beside the uses of the Lichens in dyeing and the consumption of the Lichen Tartareus in England is already very considerable) they are found of great service in many other respects. To some of these purposes, likewise, we already apply them. Thus we have mosses of our own, which will produce a kind of gum, resembling the gummi Senegal so valuable in the cotton manufacture. The Lichen Islandicus, as well as the Snow-moss (Lichen nivalis), and the Rein-deer-moss (L.Rangiferinus), is acknowledged to be salutary in consumptive, and pulmonary disorders. The Hair-moss (L. Hirtus) boiled in a little water and milk is found serviceable in cases of jaundice. Many other remedies might be added from this useful class of plants. Mr. Olassen in his Travels in Iceland informs us, that the people of that country fatten old and lean oxen with the L. Islandicus, and that they prepare the L.L. Rangiferinus, Nivalis, Velleus, and Proboscideus into as many palatable dishes. The L. Velleus is thought, also, an agreeable aliment, in Canada.

The continuation of this work, will in all probability afford much additional information. If a translation is undertaken, and it is found expedient to copy the plates, very great care will be absolutely essential in correctness of delineation, and especially in a true representation of the colours to be produced.

The Ist. Number of this work contains the Flock-laf,† (Pulveraria chlorina) which by the various preparations here minutely prescribed, affords 14 beautiful colours on silk, wool, cotton, or linen; the Färglaf, L. Saxatilis) from which 12 colours may be produced; and the Mjölklaf (L. Lacteus) yielding also 12 colours.

The 2nd Number contains the Westrings-laf, (Isidium Westringii) with 12; the Ljus-laf, (L. Candelaris) with 8; and the Blas-laf, (L. Ventosus) with 12 different colours. The spermatic organs (organa carpomorpha) of each Lichen have been minutely examined by the learned

* See the works of Hoffman, Amoreux, and Willemet, as also the transactions of the Academy of Sciences at Lyon. 1786, 7.

+ Laf is derived from the Anglosaxon word Hlave, a rounded flat protuberance, which answers to the Greek λy, from which the Latin Lichen is adopted, signifying a ringworm, or a rounded flat protuberance, which is the natural growth of the Lichens. Tournefort supposes, that the name Lichen was derived from their property of curing ringworms, which Galen taught in his days.

So called by Professor Acharius in his description of new and little known Swedish Lichens, in honour of the Author of the present work, who first discovered that this Lichen produced a valuable genuine dye. See the transactions of the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm for 1794. P: 181. Rev.

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Professor ACHARIUS; of these an exact engraving is added, on a separate plate in the first number; but in the 2nd and following numbers, they are inserted on the same plate with the Lichens and the coloured specimens.

We have at present seen only the first two numbers; but we expect the continuation daily.

As our limits do not permit us, in the present instance, at least, to allot more space to this performance, we shall close our notice with a few remarks by the author. After having adverted to the great abundance of useful Lichens in Sweden, he observes,

"Many of these are substantial or effective dying materials, which, simply in water, impart their colours both to wool and silk; within one or two hours, beautiful and even precious colours may be fixed on the cloth. Others again are preparable materials, which require a previous process, for which the easiest method is always given. With the addition of different chemical salts, colours of the finest gloss may be procured, of which the greatest part become genuine. On silk they often obtain a firmness and lustre not inferior to the Chinese. Lastly, they may be used as compounded colours, when other materials are employed, either foreign, which thus become more durable, and may be used sparingly or domestic, as Barks, and Lichens of other kinds. Both the precious Cochineal and the Indigo, which cost us (in Sweden) yearly several tons of gold may, by the addition of proper lichens, be rendered in a great proportion unnecessary." Pref. p. vii.

"he gathering of the Lichens is best made after rain; with an iron scraper fitted for the purpose, they are easily loosened from rocks and stones; they ought to be well cleaned from pine leaves, &c. washed of all sand and earth in cold water, afterwards dried in the shade with moderate heat, and then pounded or ground to powder. Within four or at most six years they have grown up again on the same place. The örn-laf, (L. Tartareus) is however one of those, which grow more slowly.

"It were well if they could be sown or planted, which probably might

be done."

The author proposes in an other place to grind them and sow them on the first snow.

"They seem to come nearest to the Zoophyte species, and have, as it were, a polypus nature, not unlike the little animal vorticella rotatoria, which, when dry, resembles sand, but revives again when sprinkled with water. Here we find that a piece of their leaves, which has stuck to any substance, grows up by itself to a full size. Some have thought that they vegetate only in winter, and indeed it seems as if their life was inactive during the whole summer, however after a heavy rain or continuation of wet weather, we find them as brisk as in the cold season."

p. viii. But we must now refer our readers to the work itself; if any of them have the leisure and the inclination to study the Swedish language, we can promise them that it is not difficult of acquisition nor barrren of utility.

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