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those are some of the handsomest and sweetest kinds; as the American Basil, with a flesh-coloured flower, remarkable for its agreeable scent; the Monk's Basil, a small annual plant, with a white and purple flower,-a mysterious foreigner, whose country is unknown to us; and Sweet Basil, which has spikes of white flowers, five or six inches in length, and a strong scent of cloves: of this species there is a variety smelling of citron, and another of which the flowers are purple.

In the East this plant is used both in cookery and medicine, and the seeds are considered efficacious against the poison of serpents.

The Basil, called by the Hindoos, holy or sacred herb, is so highly venerated by them, that they have given one of its names to a sacred grove of their Parnassus, on the banks of the Yamuna.

In Persia (where it is called rayhan), it is generally found in churchyards:

« the Basil-tuft that waves Its fragrant blossom over graves.” It is probably the custom to use it in Italy also to adorn tombs and graves, and this may have been Boccaccio's reason for selecting it to shade the melancholy treasure of Isabella. The exquisite story which he has told us, has lately become familiar to English readers, in the poems of Mr. Barry Cornwall and Mr. Keats. The former does not venture, like Boccaccio, to describe Isabella as cherishing the head of her lover, but makes her bury the heart in a pot of Basil; first so enwrapping and embalming it as to preserve it from decay. Mr. Keats is more true to his Italian original, and not only describes her as burying the head, but makes the head itself serve to enrich the soil, and beautify the tree; nay, even to become a part of it:

“ And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,

And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze:
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she sảw not, but in peace
Hung over her sweet basil evermore,
And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

" And so she ever fed it with thin tears,

Whence thick and green and beautiful it grew,
So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
Of basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
Nurture besides, and life from human fears,
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view;
So that the jewel safely casketed

Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread." This young poet now lies in an Italian grave, which is said to be adorned with a variety of flowers. Among them Sweet Basil should not be forgotten.

And here we are naturally led to the Bay-tree.

BAY.

LAURUS NOBILIS.

LAURINEÆ.

ENNEANDRIA MONOGYNIA.

Greek, Daphne.--Italian, alloro ; lauro.-French, laurier.

This Bay, by way of distinction, called the Sweet Bay, well justifies the epithet: the exquisite fragrance of the Bay-leaf, especially when crushed, is known to every one; even in our climate, where it ranks but as a shrub, and doubtless, in its native soil, where it grows to a height of twenty or thirty feet, the perfume would be still finer. How

many grand and delightful images does the very name of this tree awaken in our minds ! The warrior

thinks of the victorious general returning in triumph to his country, amid the shouts of an assembled populace; the prince, of imperial Cæsar; the poet and the man of taste, see Petrarch crowned in the Capitol. Women, who are enthusiastic admirers of genius in any shape, think of all these by turns, and almost wonder how Daphne could have had the heart to run so fast from that most godlike of all heathen gods, Apollo.

It is said, that turning a deaf ear to the eloquent pleadings of the enamoured god, she fled, to escape his continued importunities : he pursued, and Daphne, fearful of being caught, entreated the assistance of the gods, who changed her into a laurel. Apollo crowned his head with its leaves, and commanded that the tree should be ever after held sacred to his divinity. Thus it is the true inheritance of the poet; but when bestowed upon the conqueror, is only to be considered as an acknowledgment that he deserves immortality from Apollo's children.

Spenser, indignant at the slight shown to his illustrious father, speaks in a vindictive strain of the fair Daphne:

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“ Proud Daphne, scorning Phoebus' lovely fire,

On the Thessalian shore from him did flee;
For which the gods, in their revengeful ire,
Did her transform into a laurel-tree.”

SPENSER'S SONNETS.

This noble tree has often been confounded with the common laurel, which is of quite a different genus, bearing the botanical name of prunus laurocerasus. The Bay was formerly called Laurel, and the fruit only named Bayes; this has probably occasioned the mistake. The word Bay, indeed, is probably derived from Bacca, the name of

the berry.

Thomson, as if resolved to have the right laurel at any rate, makes use of both:

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“ from her majestic brow She tore the laurel, and she tore the bay."

Thomson's BRITANNIA.

The Bay not only served to grace triumphant brows, mortal and immortal, but was also placed over the houses of sick persons, from some superstitious notion of its efficacy. It adorned the gates of the Cæsars and high pontiffs. It was worn by the priestess of Delphi, who chewed some of the leaves and threw them on the sacred fire. Letters and dispatches sent from a victorious general to the senate, were wrapped in Bay-leaves; the spears, tents, ships, &c. were all dressed up with them;

; and, in the triumph, every common soldier carried a branch in his hand.

The Bay was in great esteem with the physicians, who considered it as a panacea. The statue of Esculapius, though perhaps with an allusion also to his father Apollo (who was the god of physic in general, as his son seems to have been of its practitioners), was adorned with its leaves. From the custom that prevailed in some places of crowning the young doctors in physic with this Laurel in berry (Bacca-lauri), the students were called Baccalaureats, Bay-laureats, or Bachelors. The term has, with some propriety, been extended to single men, as the male and female berries do not grow on the same plant; and it seems we might with equal correctness bestow the name upon unmarried ladies.

The decay of the Bay-tree was formerly considered by the superstitious as an omen of disaster. It is said that before the death of Nero, though in a very mild winter, all these trees withered to the root, (yet surely his death was no serious disaster !) and that a great pestilence in Padua was preceded by the same phenomenon. The Laurel had so great a reputation for clearing the air and

thinks of the victorious general returning in triumph to his country, amid the shouts of an assembled populace; the prince, of imperial Cæsar; the poet and the man of taste,

; see Petrarch crowned in the Capitol. Women, who are enthusiastic admirers of genius in any shape, think of all these by turns, and almost wonder how Daphne could have had the heart to run so fast from that most godlike of all heathen gods, Apollo.

It is said, that turning a deaf ear to the eloquent pleadings of the enamoured god, she fled, to escape his continued importunities : he pursued, and Daphne, fearful of being caught, entreated the assistance of the gods, who changed her into a laurel. Apollo crowned his head with its leaves, and commanded that the tree should be ever after held sacred to his divinity. Thus it is the true inheritance of the poet; but when bestowed upon the conqueror, is only to be considered as an acknowledgment that he deserves immortality from Apollo's children.

Spenser, indignant at the slight shown to his illustrious father, speaks in a vindictive strain of the fair Daphne:

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“ Proud Daphne, scorning Phæbus lovely fire,

On the Thessalian shore from him did flee;
For which the gods, in their revengeful ire,
Did her transform into a laurel-tree.”

SPENSER'S SONNETS.

This noble tree has often been confounded with the common laurel, which is of quite a different genus, bearing the botanical name of prunus laurocerasus. The Bay was formerly called Laurel, and the fruit only named Bayes; this has probably occasioned the mistake. The word Bay, indeed, is probably derived from Bacca, the name of the berry.

Thomson, as if resolved to have the right laurel at any rate, makes use of both:

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