An EXPLANATION of the EIGHTEENTH PLATE
Couhage, or Cow-Itch
THE Phasiolus siliqua birsuta, or Hairy Kidney-Bean, called in the East-Indies where
it grows Coubage, is a Plant producing Pods like the common French Bean, but
cluster'd more together, and covered all over with short brown Hairs ; some of which be-
ing rubbed on the Back of one's Hand, or any other tender Part, cause a kind of painful
Itching, troublesome for a Time, but going off without any farther Mischief. These
Hairs, wherewith waggish People divert themselves sometimes at the Expence of their
Companions, by strewing them on their Shirts or between their Sheets, are by Corruption
usually called Cow-Itch.
One of these Pods, about three Inches long, having six Beans in it, Dr. HOOKE says
was given him by a Sea-Captain. The whole Surface thereof was covered over with a
thick and shining brown Down or Hair, which was very fine, and stiff for its Size. Rub-
bing some of this Down on the Back of his Hand, he found little or no Trouble therefrom
at first, though he was sensible many of the sharp Points were made to penetrate pretty
deeply into the Skin ; which made him doubtful whether it was the true Coubage. But
soon after his Hand began to itch, and smarted in some Places, as if stung with a Flea or
Gnat. This continued a pretty while, and by Degrees the Skin swelled with little red
Pustules : but enduring it without either scratching or rubbing, the Pain abated gradually,
and was quite gone within an Hour, as were likewise the little Pustules.
He then examined this Down by his Microscope, and found it to be a Multitude of
small slender Bodies much resembling Needles, such as are represented by A B, C D, E F.
They appeared very transparent, and seemed to be not hollow, tho' of that the Doctor
could not be quite certain. Their Extremities A A A were very sharp, stiff and hard, like
the Substance of some Kinds of Thorns, and therefore being exceedingly minute they
must easily by rubbing be thrust into the tender Parts of the Skin, and occasion quick
and pungent, though not a violent Pain, which is the very Sensation we call Itching, and
what even Horse-Hairs shred small, and strewed between the Sheets will produce.
There may probably be more than one Sort of the Coubage, or perhaps the Doctor
did not examine his with any considerable Magnifier: for having some of it at this present
time under one of the greatest Magnifiers, in order to give a just Description thereof,
(which is the Method taken as often as the Objects can be got, to render these Accounts
exactly agreeable to Truth) there are many minute Spiculæ plainly to be discerned on every
Side of the little Hairs, pointing backwards like the Beards of a Javelin ; by which Con-
formation when once they enter they cannot easily be withdrawn.
We have in our own Gardens some Species of the Phasioli, the Pods whereof are co-
vered like the Coubage with brown Hairs ; which if rubbed on the Skin, when the Pods
are full ripe, and the Hairs themselves grown stiff and hard by being dry, produce nearly
the same Effects ; though when green and moist they are soft and pliable, and entirely
harmless. Of this Nature are the Lupines, yellow, blue, and white, and likewise the
sweet-scented or perfumed Pease.
PLATE XVIII. FIG. 2.
The Sting of a Bee
A Bee's Sting, the Doctor tells us, appears through the Microscope to be a Sheath
without a Chape or Top, in Form like the Holster of a Pistol, beginning at?,
and ending at b ; which Sheath he plainly distinguished to be hollow, containing a Sword
or Dart within it, together with a poisonous Liquor, which being conveyed into the
Wound it makes, occasions a most severe Pain.
This Sheath or Case appeared to have several Joinings marked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and
was armed near the Top on both sides with several sharp transparent Thorns, Hooks or
Beards, growing out of little Protuberancies, as represented p p, q q, r r, s s, t t, v v:
Which Hooks the Creature spreads out, or draws in, occasionally, as a Cat does her
The Sword or Dart which is lodged within the Sheath, appeared as in the Figure,
with its sharp End a b protruded beyond the said Sheath like a Sword in a Scabbard