Here I study objects more in detail, and am able to note the species of trees that form the shrubbery. I observe the Magnolia, with large white wax-like flowers, somewhat resembling the giant nympha of Guiana. Some of these have already disappeared, and in their stead are seen the coral-red seed-cones, scarce less ornamental than the flowers themselves.
According to John Knott, the French traveler, Le Vaillant, said that the more coquettish among the Hottentot girls are excited by extreme vanity to practice artificial elongation of the nympha and labia. They are said to pull and rub these parts, and even to stretch them by hanging weights to them.
In one of his Latin epigrams occurs the celebrated line upon the miracle at Cana: Vidit et erubuit nympha pudica Deum: as englished by Dryden, The conscious water saw its Lord and blushed. Abraham Cowley is now less remembered for his poetry than for his pleasant volume of essays, published after the Restoration; but he was thought in his own time a better poet than Milton.
Who does not love the beautiful water-lily, the Nympha odorata of our ponds and lakes? No one, not even he of whom the poet said, A primrose by the river's brim A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more, could be quite insensible to the charms of this loveliest of wild flowers.
There is, to be sure, a charming couplet in some old humanist about LYMPHA NEPENTHI; but modern scholars are disposed to think either that the text is corrupt and that the writer was picturing an imaginary NYMPHA some laughing sea-lady or else that he merely indulged in one of those poetic flights which are a feature of the literature of his period.
Our pond-lily closely resembles the lotus, the Nympha lotus of Egypt, Syria and other countries of the East, which has been venerated in all times, and figures extensively in Egyptian hieroglyphics, besides forming the model for the capital of Egyptian columns. Another, or perhaps the same species, is held sacred among the Hindoos.
Among these could be distinguished that gigantic nympha so celebrated under the name of Victoria regia for South America is the native country of this rare plant. Every night, as our party were resting from their labours, they heard strange noises proceeding from the water. There was plunging and plashing, and now and then a snorting sound like that sometimes uttered by frightened swine.
Morgagni describes a supernumerary left nympha, and Petit is accredited with seeing a case which exhibited neither nymphae, clitoris, nor urinary meatus. Mauriceau performed nymphotomy on a woman whose nymphae were so long as to render coitus difficult. Morand quotes a case of congenital malformation of the nymphae, to which he attributed impotency.
Many fountains have been established within the last few years, and the site of that once formidable building the Bastile is now occupied by one. Its situation is too confined for so handsome a structure, and I had some difficulty in finding my way to it. Quos duro cernis simulatos marmore fructus Hujus Nympha loci credidit esse suos. Which may be thus translated,
Even so, the metamorphoses of insects, from the egg to the maggot and caterpillar, and from these, through the nympha and aurelia into the perfect insect, are but a more individuated and intenser form of a similar transformation of the plant from the seed-leaflets, or cotyledons, through the stalk, the leaves, and the calyx, into the perfect flower, the various colours of which seem made for the reflection of light, as the antecedent grade to the burnished scales, and scale-like eyes of the insect.