July 2. There has been much talk for a week or two of a poisonous worm, that 'tïs said breeds in the Lombardy poplar trees. We have heard of a man, a boy, a dog and a cat killed by one. It is mentioned in this day's paper as follows:
"This tree which has become an ornament to the city, we are sorry to learn is suspected of a worm of the most poisonous description. The subject we think requires the most serious examination, and for the purpose of inviting to it, those who are best qualified by particular study or experience, we state the following fact which has been communicated to us by respectable citizens. "On Monday morning at 10 o'clock, an experiment was made in Southwark, in the presence of several gentlemen, with a view of ascertaining the efTects of the bite or sting of one of these reptiles. A worm found in a Lombardy poplar was placed before a Cat, rather more than half grown. In attempting to smell, she was stung in the nose. In about fifteen minutes she fainted away, and remained apparently lifeless for five minutes; after which she exhibited marks of violent internal pains, and in 45 minutes died. "The worm is of a pale,chocolate color, has a fork at the extremity of the tail, having from ten to fourteen feet. They vary in size, some being but an inch, others four inches long. They are extremely strong and animated. Arsenic, vitriol, and aqua-fortis have been applied to them, without producing instant death. Some of these worms, we understand, have been left with Mr Peale, at the Museum, for examination. A gentleman who has made some observations on the subject, remarks that they seldom appear in moist situations. They have been fouud on fences in the neighborhood of the poplar. He suggests trying the effects of hot ley; poured on the root of the tree."There is another piece in Poulson's paper, much to the same effect, signed Humanitas.
That a man or boy has been killed by those worms is all flummery.
July 4. The thirtieth year of Independence — great doings today — but very quiet up our way. Nancy Skyrin and her daughter Elizabeth were here after dinner. They did not stay to tea, wishing to be at home before night, as it is a night of hubbub, or may be so. Notwithstanding, W. D. and self went between 8 and 9 o'clock to Jacob Downing's — a hubbub there with black Harry — I wish he was in Guinea.
They are making a rumpus in New York about ye poplar worm. Some have cut down their trees, others think little or nothing of it. They talk of some one being killed by one, but no names are mentioned.
Joseph Parish, a young physician, has by experiment, set this matter in a light, that seems to do it all away. He, and many others I believe, are under no concern about ye poplar worm.