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Heaven in a cloud attracted Those tears shed not in vain; And sent them swiftly speeding To that far battle plain.
There from the cloud they trickled Like dew-drops o'er the brave; That tears the turf might hallow Upon his foreign grave.
BROOK WEED, or WATER PIMPERNEL; (Samosus Valerandi; so called because gathered in the Isle of Samos, by Valerandus, a botanist of the sixteenth century), was one of the holy herbs of the Druids, and used by them in solemn incantations. Its pretty little white bell-shaped flowers are not common in England, though generally met with in wet places in most parts of the world.
RUE (Ruta Graveolens) was in ancient times accounted as magical, and was used in spells and sorceries. Subsequently it acquired a better reputation, from the properties ascribed to it of preserving from infection, and of being antidotal to poison; thence it came to be esteemed holy, and was used in the Roman Catholic church as an Aspergillum, or holy water sprinkler (and in the early ages, especially in exorcisms, for the expulsion of evil spirits); hence it was called Herb of Grace. "There's rue for you, and some for me: we may call it Herb o' Grace on Sundays." So says poormad Ophelia (Hamlet, Activ., scene 6). But the Rue, from it bitterness, is also esteemed an herb of sorrow.
"Here di he drop a tear: here in this place
I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
King Richard II., act iii., scene 4.
THE COMMON FENNEL GIANT, or FERULE, (Ferula Communis) was venerated among the Greeks as the plant in whose stalk Prometheus concealed the fire which he stole from the chariot of the sun, and brought down to earth from heaven. And certainly the plant is well adapted for the conveyance of fire: the stalk, which is erect, jointed, and from ten to twelve feet high, is
filled with a dry, spongy pith, in which fire can be kept smouldering like tinder, without consuming the outside: it is thus used by the Sicilians. The stem rises from the centre of a bunch
of bright green leaves spreading on the ground; and is surmounted by a panicle of yellow flowers.
It was early adopted as the badge of authority, from its sceptre-like form, by the principals of schools; hence Martial calls it "the Sceptre of the Pedagogues." It was borne as a sceptre by the sovereigns of the Lower Empire, and hence became a symbol of monarchial power; it was, indeed, a fitting emblem of the fragility of the sway of those emperors. Bacchus commanded his votaries to carry no other weapon but the stalk of the Ferula in their feasts, that the quarrels excited by wine might at least be bloodless.
IIe parts ! the glorious king is gone
They see his face no more ;
And quit the pomps they wore. How dimm’d the aerial courtappears!
Dark, mute, disconsolateSighs breathe around, and dewy tears
Weep for its banish'd State.
Yet they may hail in orient bowers
A sun-rise far more fair. Then let this lesson, learn’d aright,
With us through life be borne ; Tho' weeping may endure a night,
Joy coineth in the morn.*
Well may those Courtiers mourn the
light Of hidden diadem : They shone in its reflections bright,
Its ray3 were wealth to them. But must this night of grief remain ?
Must they for ever mourn ? Shall not the absent sovereign
Back to his realm return ?
Yes! yes !-e'en now is midnight past,
E'en now the herald Dawn Hath from the gates of day at last
The guardian bolts withdrawn. He comes refreshed, the regal Sun !
He comes with power renew'd, Like victor after triumphs won
O'er foes in fight subdued.
THE DITTANY OF CRETE, (Origanum Dictamnus) among the Romans crowned Juno Lucina, whence it was made the emblem of nativity. It was esteemed as vulnerary ; when Eneas was wounded by an arrow, in his combat with Turnus, Venus gathered the Dittany from Mount Ida in Crete, its native isle, and brought it to Iapis, the physician of Eneas, and taught him to express the juice, and give it to his patient, and thus a cure was effected (Eneiad xii.). Pliny says (book xxv.) that men learned the healing qualities of Dittany from the stags, that browsed upon
it to cure themselves of arrow wounds. Virgil ascribes the same instinct to goats :
Non illa feris incognita capris Gramina, cum tergo volucres læsere sagittæ.
Eneid, xii. The Dittany evolves a viscid juice, which in the evening beconies an inflammable gas, eo easily ignited that the least spark sufices to set it blazing all over the plant, but without injury to it. The stalks are nine inches high, hairy and purplish; the leaves are round, thick, woolly, and very white; the flowers in spikes of loose, nodding, purplish heads.
MANDRAKE (Atropa Mandragora) is peculiarly a plant of the gloomy superstitions, from its poisonous properties, and its fætid smell.
The root is fleshy, and often forked ; the leaves dark green, and springing from the crown of the root; the flower is whitish and five-cleft; the fruit, a soft globular berry, as large as a nut-meg, and of a greenish yellow colour when ripe. The root was supposed to resemble the human body, and to be endowed with many magical qualities, and especially with that of exciting love. In small doses it was narcotic :
Not Poppy, nor Vandragora,
But far more brilliant, far more gay
Than at the parting scene
And worn with joyous mien.
In hues that youth bescem; Soft primrose, blue of summer air,
Pink tints of fairy dream.
Roses are scattered in his path,
And pearls around him shine : Great King! what earthly monarch
hath A welcome such as thine ? The silent hours when thou wert not,
Hours lonely, long and drear, Are now redeem'd, repaid, forgot
In bliss to greet thee here.
So hearts may mourn the sun-set hours
That bring a night of care :
* Psalm, xxx, 5.
It was believed to grow under gibbets whereon the decaying bodies of murderers were hanging, and to Translated from the German of E. Geibel. shriek and groan when pulled up; nay, to pull it up was fatal, where- Wo still cin Hertz von Liebe glüht, fore it was customary to tie a dog to O rühret, rühret nicht daran. the root, and compel him to pluck it up, by which he died; the by-stander stopping his ears not to hear the
Where heart in silence glows with love, fatal groan of the angry plant.
Lay not a hand ungentle there ; There the sad Mandrake grows, whose groans
Quench not the spark of heavenly fire, are deathful.— The Sad Shepherd, a play
That were unhallow'd deed-forby Ben Jonson.
That unprofan'd and pure can prove, roots, which they fashion into a like- It is the young and hopeful heart ness of the human figure. Health,
Blest in its first and guileless love. prosperity, and the cure of diseases, were supposed to be obtained by keeping these charms in the house.
Ogrudge it not that spring-tidedream, The roots were carried into Northern nations (where the Mandragora does
So bright in rosy tintings shown :
Thou knowst not what a Paradise not grow) and sold by traders, formed
Is lost when love's young dream into Lares, or house-hold Gods. They
has flown. were from six to ten inches high; were clothed, laid upon wool in small boxes, and moistened with wine, and meat offered to them at every meal.
How many a strong heart breaks at They were never taken out but to be
once, oracularly consulted, when they were
When of its own dear love bereft: fancied to answer questions, and to And hearts that can endure, live on, foretell events by movements of the
With nought but hate and darkness head.
left. The Mandrakes mentioned in Scripture, as so eagerly coveted by Rachel, were of a different species from the above. They are supposed to be iden- And some that clos'd to hide their tical with a plant of the Melon species wounds, which is found in Tuscany as well as Cry loud for pleasure in their need, in the East. It has leaves like those And grovel in the dust- alas ! of the Lettuce, and an agreeable fruit To them sweet love is dead indeed. of the size, shape, and colour of a small apple, with a fragrant smell ; it is ripe in May, about the period of the wheat harvest in Judea, the time
Ah, fruitless comes repentance then, when Reuben found the Mandrakes
The bitterest tears are all in vain in the field. These fruits have been
To make the wither'd roses bloom, supposed to be the classical apples of
Or the dead heart be young again, love. A surname of Venus was Mandragoritis.
BALM OF GILEAD, or balm of JeriThere is in Cayenne a shrub called cho (Balsamum Judaicum) was a Epitet, venerated by the natives as shrub highly venerated from early possessing the same love-inspiring times on account of its medicinal properties as the Mandrakes.
qualities, especially for the cure of has had Epitet given to him,” is a wounds. It was celebrated by Pliny, proverb among the Aborigines of Strabo, Tacitus, and Justin. In JuCayenne to signify a man devotedly dea it grew only in the gardens near in love : eperdument amoureux, as
Jericho. Justin describes it as like the French express it,
a fir tree, but not so tall, Josephus
says it was brought first out of Arabia Felix by the Queen of Sheba, as a present to Solomon, who planted it at Jericho: but the Balın of Gilead is mentioned as a precious article of merchandise in Genesis xxxvii, long before the era of the Queen of Sheba. A shrub of this species was brought to Egypt by Cleopatra and planted at Aim Shems, now Matara, in an old garden mentioned with great interest by travellers, both Mahometan and Christian.
The Eastern Christians attached a religious value to it, and had many superstitious opinions relating to it. They believed that it would only flourish under the care of Christian gardeners; and that the incision for causing the gum to flow should be made in the bark by an implement of stone, or of bone, but not of iron, otherwise the balsam would be corrupt. They believed it to be a Sovereign remedy for fifty diseases : and in Confirmation they used it to anoint the persons confirmed. . It was also mingled in the oil at the Coronation of European monarchs.
Not all the water in the rough, rude sea, Can wash the balm from an anointed King. King Richard II., act 3, scene 2.
The Coptic Christians had a tradition that when the Holy Family were leaving Egypt to return to Judea, they stopped to rest at Matara, and went from house to house begging a cup of water, which was everywhere refused. The Virgin Mary sat down, faint from thirst and sorrow, under the Balsam trees that had been cultivated there from the one formerly brought from the Holy Land, and immediately a fountain sprang up beside her, to relieve her distress; and from that time forth the trees would not grow unless watered from that fountain. The Balm trees of Matara were killed by an inundațion of the Nile in 1615.
It is believed that the true Balm tree is now extinct; the tree at present known as such grows about Babelmandel; the trunk is eight or ten inches in diameter, the wood is light, the bark smooth, the leaves are few, and the flowers like those of the Acacia, small and white, except that five flowers hang on the filaments, and in the Acacia only one flower,
amongst the Christian females ; it is The BANYAN TREE of the East called the Holy ROSE OF JERICHO, Indies is called the fig tree of Adam (Anastatica Hieropuntica.) It grows and Eve, from the idea that our first amoug the sands of Egypt, Palestine, parents used its large leaves for clothand Syria, and is found in Barbary. ing. Some have supposed it the tree It is cruciform ; and when its flowers of the forbidden fruit in Eden. The and leaves have withered and fallen Portuguese in old times scrupled to eat off, the branches, as they dry, curl of the fruit, because, when cut transinwards, and form a round mass, versely, it showed within the figure thence called a rose. The roots die ; of a cross. With the Brámins it is a the winds tear it up, and blow it holy tree, for, say they, the supreme about the sands till it lodges in a deity, Brahma, took shelter under it moist spot, or is wetted with the from a thunder storm, and blessed it, rain ; then the curled-up globe ex- and gave it the power of averting pands and suffers the seeds to escape lightning. from the seed-vessel in which they In Senegal is a sacred tree called were enclosed ; and becoming em- Ded, which the natives believe to bedded in the sands, they germinate afford an impenetrable asylum to anew,-hence its name, Anastatica, fugitives, from which no force could from Avastasis, Resurrection. It is avail to remove them, and where no venerated in Palestine from the tra- weapon, not even the poisoned arrows dition thatit blossomed at the moment of their pursuers, could reach them. when our Lord was born, and was The name of the Peony (Pæonia endowed with qualities propitious to officinalis) is derived from Peon, the nativity. Wherefore the Eastern celebrated Greek Physician of Thegwomen, when occasion requires, are saly. Theseus having descended to anxious to have one of these dried the infernal regions, and attempted plants expanding in a vase of water to carry away Proserpine, was debeside them, firmly believing that it tained in captivity by Pluto: Hercules has a salutary influence. It is an going to deliver the prisoner, fought article of commerce, and bears a high with and wounded Pluto so seriously price in the East.
that the latter was obliged to repair There are some lines, by an old to Thessaly, to seek the aid of Peon, Italian poet, very applicable to this who cured him by medicaments drawn “Rose,” to whose existance and ex- from the Peony. pansion moisture is so necessary.
This flower is esteemed by the
superstitious Greeks to be of divine MADRIGAL
origin, emanating from the light of Translated from the Italian of Benedetto dell' the full moon, on which account it Uva.*
was believed to cure epilepsy, long Come tenero fiore
considered as a moon-struck malady. Spiega la chioma sua, se lo nodrica The once popular “Anodyne NeckPioggia, o rugiada amica.
lace,” worn round the neck to cure
or avert epilepsy, was formed of dried E'en as a gentle flower
Peony roots cut into regular pieces, Unfolds its beauties to the view, and strung on a narrow ribbon. The If cherished by the genial dew, black seeds powdered and taken in Or kindly shower ;
wine when fasting in the morning, So may a lovely thought bloom fair and just before bed time, were believed, Within the heart if foster'd there even in late days, to preserve from
By Grace with drops divine. nightmare and evil dreams. Pliny Not so ? —then vainly would it ope, says (book xxv.), that it was efficaOf flower or fruit can be no hope, cious in the sports of the Fauns, from
For it must droop and pine, whose malicious antics nightmares And like a plant unwater'd die and evil dreams were supposed to l'pon a soil parch'd up and dry. proceed. The Peony was formerly
How can the fragile flower used by adepts in some of their cerel'nfold its beauties to the view monies, and was superstitiously beUnless it drinks the genial dew, lieved to have power over the winds Or kindly shower ?
(from its lunar origin), to protect the
* A Monk, native of Capua ; flourished about 1570. VOL. XLVIII.NO. CCLXXXIII.