Online Encyclopedia

MUSTARD

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 97 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MUSTARD. The varieties of mustard-seed of commerce are produced from several species of the genus Brassica (a member of the natural order Cruciferae). Of these the principal are the black or brown mustard, Brassica nigra (Sinapis nigra), the white mustard, Brassica alba, and the Sarepta mustard, B. juncea. Both the white and black mustards are cultivated to some extent in various parts of England. The white is to be found in every garden as a salad plant; but it has come into increasing favour as a forage crop for sheep, and as a green manure, for which purpose it is ploughed down when about to come into flower. The black mustard is grown solely for its seeds, which yield the well-known condiment. The name of the condiment was in French moustarde, mod. moutarde, as being made of the seeds of the plant pounded and mixed with must (Lat. mustum, i.e. unfermented wine) .1 The word was thus transferred to the plant itself. When white mustard is cultivated for its herbage it is sown usually in July or August, after some early crop has been removed. The land being brought into a fine tilth, the seed, at the rate of 12 lb per acre, is sown broadcast, and covered in the way recommended for clover seeds. In about six weeks it is ready either for feeding off by sheep or for ploughing down as a preparative for wheat or barley. White mustard is not fastidious in regard to soil. When grown for a seed crop it is treated in the way about to be described for the other variety. For this purpose either kind requires a fertile soil, as it is an exhausting crop. The seed is sown in April, is once hoed in May, and requires no further culture. As soon as the pods have assumed a brown colour the crop is reaped and laid down in handfuls, which lie until dry enough for thrashing or stacking. In removing it from the ground it must be handled with great care, and carried to the thrashing-floor or stack on cloths, to avoid the loss of seed. The price depends much on its being saved in dry weather, as the quality suffers much from wet. This great evil attends its growth, that the seeds which are unavoidably shed in harvesting the crop remain in the soil, and stock it permanently with what proves a pestilent weed amongst future crops. White mustard is used as a small salad—generally accompanied by garden cress—while still in the seed leaf. To keep up a supply the seed should be sown every week or ten days. The sowings in the open ground may be made from March till October, earlier or later according to the season. The ground should be light and rich, and the situation warm and sheltered. Sow thickly in rows 6 in. apart, and slightly cover the seed, pressing the surface smooth with the back of the spade. When gathering the crop, cut the young plants off even with the ground, or pull 1 There were two kinds of mustum, one the best for keeping, produced after the first treading of the grapes, and called mustum lixivum; the other, mustum tortivum, obtained from the mass, of trodden grapes by the wine-press, was used for inferior purposes. Un Caprice was produced at the Theatre Frangais, and the employment in it of such a word as " rebonsoir " shocked some of the old school. But the success of the piece was immediate and marked. It increased Musset's reputation with the public in a degree out of proportion to its intrinsic importance; and indeed freed him from the burden of depression caused by want of appreciation. In 1848 Il ne faut jurer de lien was played at the Theatre Frangais and the Chandelier at the Theatre Historique. Between this date and 1851 Bettine was produced on the stage and Carmosine written; and between this time and the date of his death, from an affection of the heart, on the 2nd of May 1857, the poet produced no large work of importance. Alfred de Musset now holds the place which Sainte-Beuve first accorded, then denied, and then again accorded to him—as a poet of the first rank. He had genius, though not genius of that strongest kind which its possessor can always keep in ;heck. His own character worked both for and against his success as a writer. He inspired a strong personal affection in his contemporaries. His very weakness and his own consciousness of it produced such beautiful work as, to take one instance, the Nuit d'octobre. His Nouvelles are extraordinarily brilliant; his poems are charged with passion, fancy and fine satiric power; in his plays he hit upon a method of his own, in which no one has dared or availed to follow him with any closeness. He was one of the first, most original, and in the end most successful of the first-rate writers included in the phrase " the 1830 period." The wilder side of his life has probably been exaggerated; and his brother Paul de Musset has given in his Biographic a striking testimony to the finer side of his character. In the later years of his life Musset was elected, not without opposition, a member of the French Academy. Besides the works above referred to, the Nouvelles et conies and the Euvres posthumes, in which there is much of interest concerning the great tragic actress Rachel, should be specially mentioned. The biography of Alfred de Musset by his brother Paul, partial as it naturally is, is of great value. Alfred de Musset has afforded matter for many appreciations, and among these in English may be mentioned the sketch (189o) of C. F. Oliphant and the essay (1855) of F. T. Palgrave. See also the monograph by Arvede Barine (Madame Vincens) in the " Grands ecrivains francais " series. Musset's correspondence with George Sand was published intact for the first time in 1904. A monument to Alfred de Musset by Antonin Mercie, presented by M. Osiris, and erected on the Place du Theatre Francais, was duly " inaugurated " on the 24th of February 1906. The ceremony took place in the vestibule of the theatre, where speeches were delivered by Jules Claretie, Francois Coppee and others, and Mounet-Sully recited a poem, written for the occasion by Maurice Magre. (W. H. P.)
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