JACK, s. Short for Jack-Sepoy; in former days a familiar style for the native soldier; kindly, rather than
he should be leading the Jacks.Oakfield, ii. 66.
JACK, s. The tree called by botanists Artocarpus integrifolia, L. fil., and its fruit. The name, says Drury,
is a corruption of the Skt. word Tchackka, which means the fruit of the tree (Useful Plants, p. 55).
There is, however, no such Skt. word; the Skt. names are Kantaka, Phala, Panasa, and Phalasa. [But
the Malayal. chakka is from the Skt. chakra, round.] Rheede rightly gives Tsjaka (chakka) as the
Malayalam name, and from this no doubt the Portuguese took jaca and handed it on to us. They call
it, says Garcia Orta, in Malavar jacas, in Canarese and Guzerati panas (f. 111). The Tamil form is
sakkei, the meaning of which, as may be adduced from various uses to which the word is put in Tamil,
is the fruit abounding in rind and refuse. (Letter from Bp. Caldwell.)
We can hardly doubt that this
is the fruit of which Pliny writes: Major alia pomo et suavitate praecellentior; quo sapientiores Indorum
vivunt. (Folium alas avium imitatur longitudine trium cubitorum, latitudine duum). Fructum e cortice
mittit admírabilem succi dulcedine; ut uno quaternos satiet. Arbori nomen palae, pomo arienae; plurima
est in Sydracis, expeditionum Alexandri termino. Est et alia similis huic; dulcior pomo; sed interaneorum
valetudini infesta (Hist. Nat. xii. 12). Thus rendered, not too faithfully, by Philemon Holland: Another
tree there is in India, greater yet than the former; bearing a fruit much fairer, bigger, and sweeter than
the figs aforesaid; and whereof the Indian Sages and Philosophers do ordinarily live. The leaf resembleth
birds wings, carrying three cubits in length, and two in breadth. The fruit it putteth forth at the bark,
having within it a wonderfull pleasant juice: insomuch as one of them is sufficient to give four men a
competent and full refection. The trees name is Pala, and the fruit is called Ariena. Great plenty of
them is in the country of the Sydraci, the utmost limit of Alexander the Great his expeditions and voyages.
And yet there is another tree much like to this, and beareth a fruit more delectable that this Ariena,
albeit the guts in a mans belly it wringeth and breeds the bloudie flix (i. 361).
Strange to say, the fruit
thus described has been generally identified with the plantain: so generally that (we presume) the Linnaean
name of the plantain Musa sapientum, was founded upon the interpretation of this passage. (It was, I
find, the excellent Rumphius who originated the erroneous identification of the ariena with the plantain).
Lassen, at first hesitatingly (i. 262), and then more positively (ii. 678), adopts this interpretation, and
seeks ariena in the Skt. varana. The shrewder Gilde-meister does the like, for he, sans phrase, uses
arienae as Latin for plantains. Ritter, too, accepts it, and is not staggered even by the uno quaternos
satiet. Humboldt, quoth he, often saw Indians make their meal with a very little manioc and three bananas
of the big kind (Platano-arton). Still less sufficed the Indian Brahmins (sapientes), when one fruit was
enough for four of them (v. 876, 877). Bless the venerable Prince of Geographers! Would one Kartoffel,
even of the big kind, make a dinner for four German Professors? Just as little would one plantain suffice
four Indian Sages.
The words which we have italicised in the passage from Pliny are quite enough to
show that the jack is intended; the fruit growing e cortice (i.e. piercing the bark of the stem, not pendent
from twigs like other fruit), the sweetness, the monstrous size, are in combination infallible. And as regards
its being the fruit of the sages, we may observe that the jack fruit is at this day in Travancore one of
the staples of life. But that Pliny, after his manner, has jumbled things, is also manifest. The first two
clauses of his description (Major alia, &c.; Folium alas, &c.) are found in Theophrastus, but apply to
two different trees. Hence we get rid of the puzzle about the big leaves, which led scholars astray after
plantains, and originated Musa sapientum. And it is clear from Theophrastus that the fruit which caused
dysentery in the Macedonian army was yet another. So Pliny has rolled three plants into one. Here are
the passages of Theophrastus:
(1) And there is another tree which is both itself a tree of great size, and produces a fruit that is wonderfully
big and sweet. This is used for food by the Indian Sages, who wear no clothes. (2) And there is yet
another which has the leaf of a very long shape, and resembling the wings of birds, and this they set
upon helmets; the length is about two cubits.
(3) There is another tree the fruit of which is long, and not
straight but crooked, and sweet to the taste. But this gives rise to colic and dysentery ( [Greek Text]
Allo te estin ou o karpoV makroV kai ouk euquV alla skolioV, esqiomenoV de glukuV. OutoV en th koilia
dpgmon poiei kai dusenterian
) wherefore Alexander published a general order against eating it.(Hist.