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It is by the aid of the reed1 that the nations of the East decide their wars; fixing in it a barbed point, they inflict a wound from which the arrow cannot be withdrawn. By the addition of feathers they accelerate the flight of this instrument of death, and the weapon, if it breaks in the wound, furnishes the combatants with a weapon afresh. With these missiles the warriors darken the very rays of the sun.2 It is for this reason more particularly that they desire a clear and serene sky, and hold in abhorrence all windy and rainy weather, which has the effect of compelling them, in spite of themselves, to be at peace with one another.

If a person were carefully to enumerate the peoples of Æthiopia, Egypt, Arabia, India, Scythia, Bactria, and Sarmatia, together with all the numerous peoples of the East, and the vast realms of the Parthians, he would find that fully one-half of mankind throughout the whole world live under a dominion imposed by the agency of the arrow. It was their surpassing excellence in this arm that so ennobled the warriors of Crete, though in this respect, as well as in all others, Italy has gained the mastery; there being no reed in existence better adapted for making arrows than that found in the Rhenus, a river of the territory of Bononia: filled with a greater quantity of pith than any of the others, it is light, and easily cleaves the air, while at the same time it has sufficient weight to resist the action of the wind; an advantage that is not possessed in an equal degree by those employed among the Belgæ. These advantages, however, are possessed by the most approved kinds that are found in Crete, although those of India are preferred; in the opinion of some persons, however, these last are of a totally different nature, for by adding a point to them, the natives are able to use them as lances even. Indeed, we find that in India the reed grows to the thickness of a tree, a fact which is proved by the specimens which are everywhere to be seen in our temples. The Indians assure us that in this plant, too, there is the distinction of male and female; the body of the male being more compact, and that of the female of a larger size. In addition to this, if we can credit the fact, a single compartment between the joints is sufficiently large to answer the purposes of a boat.3 These reeds are found more particularly on the banks of the river Acesines.

In every variety of the reed a single root gives birth to numerous stems, and if cut down, they will shoot again with increased fecundity. The root, which is naturally tenacious of life, is also jointed as well as the stem. The reeds of India are the only ones in which the leaves are short; but in all the varieties these leaves take their rise at the joints, and surround the stem with a fine tissue about half way upwards to the next joint, and then leave the stem and droop downwards. The reed, as well as the calamus, although rounded, has two sides, which throw out leaves alternately from above the joints, in such a way that when one springs from the right side, the next issues from the joint above it on the left, and so in turns. Branches, too, shoot occasionally from the stem, being themselves reeds of diminutive growth.

1 "Claus." The so-called reed of the East, used for making darts and arrows, does not belong to the genus Arundo, but to those of the Bambos and Nastus.

2 Few readers of history will fail to recollect the report made to King Henry V. by Davy Gam, before the battle of Agincourt:—" The enemy are so numerous," said the messenger, "that their arrows will darken the sun." "We must e'en be content to fight in the dark then," was the warrior's reply.

3 See B. vii. c. 2. This is probably an exaggeration. He alludes to the Bambos arundinacea of Lamarck, the Arundo arbor of C. Bauhin.

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