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The revolutions of France and America were viewed with considerable disquiet from Britain. But the pole and cap of liberty clearly made an impact on a young poet by the name of James Woodhouse, whose 1803 poem, “Autumn and the Redbreast, an Ode”, paid a striking tribute to the varied beauty of mushrooms: Reindeer, it seems, just loved Amanita muscaria, or Fly Agaric, as it is better known. They could be led around by the nose, as it were, just by sprinkling pieces of the mushroom in front of them. Why the animals were so fond of these fungi was a question that must have occurred to many. To find the answer, all they had to do was taste the mushroom. A blissful euphoria quickly permeated their body and vivid visions, perhaps even of sugarplums, danced before their eyes. Heavenly sounds resonated in their ears. Unless they overindulged. Then there was dead silence.

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