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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

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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:

“ 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.

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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:

“ 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

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resisting contagion, that during a raging pestilence Claudius was advised by his physicians to remove his court to Laurentium on that account. It was also supposed to resist lightning, of which Tiberius was very fearful, and it is said, that to avoid it he would creep under his bed, and shade his head with the boughs.

Mr. L. Hunt alludes to this power in the Bay, in his Descent of Liberty:

Long have you my laurels worn,
And though some under leaves be torn
Here and there, yet what remains
Still its pointed green retains,
And still an easy shade supplies
To your calm-kept watchful eyes.
Only would you keep it brightening,
And its power to shake the lightning,
Harmless down its glossy ears,
Suffer not so many years
To try what they can bend and spoil,
But oftener in its native soil
Let the returning slip renew
Its upward sap and equal hue;
And wear it then with glory shaded,

Till the spent earth itself be faded.” W. Browne tells us also, that “Baies being the materials of poets' ghirlands, are supposed not subject to any hurt of Jupiter's thunderbolts, as other trees are."-(See note to page 8, vol. i.).

“ Where bayes still grow (by thunder not struck down),
The victor's garland and the poet's crown.”

(See W. Browne's Poems, vol. iii.) It is remarkable that this beautiful tree, which is hardy, handsome, sweet, and an evergreen, to say nothing of classical associations, is so seldom and so sparingly cultivated in this country. Evelyn tells us " that some Bay-trees were sent from Flanders with stems so even and upright, and with heads so round, full, and flourishing, that one of them

sold for twenty pounds; and, doubtless,” adds he, “ as good might be raised here, were our gardeners as industrious to cultivate and shape them. I wonder we plant not whole groves of them, and abroad, they being hardy enough, grow upright, and would make a noble Daphneon."

Virgil celebrates the filial affection of the Bay, where, speaking of the different methods of propagating trees,

he says,

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“ Others have a thick wood arousing from their roots; as cherries, and elms: the little Parnassian bay also shelters itself under the great shade of its mother.”—Martyn's TRANSLATION, p. 114.

This would not, perhaps, convey to us so strong a meaning, did we not know, as Evelyn informs us, that while young, this tree thrives not well any-where but under its "mother's shade; where nothing else will thrive.”

The Bay is a native of Asia, and the southern parts of Europe: it is not uncommon in the woods and hedges in Italy. The Abbé St. Pierre observes, “ that it grows in abundance on the banks of the river Peneus, in Thessaly, which might well give occasion to the fable of the metamorphosis of Daphne, the daughter of that river.”

It may be raised from berries, suckers, cuttings, or layers: it will bear the open air, and, when grown to a tolerable size, requires no other care than to water it occasionally in dry weather, to prune it in the spring, and to shift it into a larger pot when it has outgrown the old one. In doing this, the earth must not be cleared from the roots. A Bay-tree must not be hastily dismissed when it appears dead, but should be preserved till the second year; for when past hope of recovery, they will often revive, and flourish again as well as ever.

The Bay, which is the meed of the poet, a poet only

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