Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

basket-work. The common, or white willow, salix alba, takes its specific name from the white silken surface of the leaves on the under side. The bark is used to tan leather, and to dye yarn of a cinnamon colour. It is one of the trees to which the necessitous Kamtschatdales are often obliged to recur for their daily bread, which they make of the inner bark, ground into flour. The bark of this willow has in some cases been found a good substitute for the Peruvian bark. The grey willow, or sallow, salix rinerea, grows from six to twelve feet high. In many parts of England, children gather the flowering branches of this tree on Palm Sunday, and call them palms. With the bark, the inhabitants of the Highlands and the Hebrides tan leather. The wood, which is soft, white, and flexible, is made into handles for hatchets, spades, Sec. It also furnishes shoemakers with their cutting-boards, and whettingboards to smooth the edges of their knives upon.

The weeping willow, talix Babylonica, a native of the Levant, was not cultivated in this country till 1730. This tree, with its long, slender, pendulous branches, is one of the most elegant ornaments cf English scenery. The situation which it affects, also, on the margins of brooks or rivers, increases its beauty; like Narcissus, it often seems to bend over the water for the purpose of admiring the reflection:—

-" Shadowy trees, that lean

So elegantly o'er the water's brim."

There is a fine weeping willow in a garden near the Paddington end of the New Road, and a most magnificent one, also, in a garden on the banks of the Thames, just before Richmond-bridge, on the Richmond side of the river. Several of the arms of this tree are so large, that one of them would in itself form a fine tree. They are propped by a number of stout poles; and the tree appears in a flourishing condition. If that tree be, as it is said, no more than ninety-five years old, the quickness of its growth is indeed astonishing.

Martyn relates an interesting anecdote, which he gives on the authority of the SI. James's Chronicle, for August, 1801:

"The famous and admired weeping willow planted by Pope, which has lately been felled to the ground, came from Spain, enclosing a present for lady Suf

folk. Mr. Pope was in company when the covering was taken off; he observed that the pieces of stick appeared as if they had some vegetation; and added, • Perhaps they may produce something we have not in England.' Under this idea, he planted it in his garden, and it produced the willow-tree that has given birth to so many others." It is said, that the destruction of this tree was caused by the eager curiosity of the admirers of the poet, who, by their numbers, so disturbed the quiet and fatigued the patience of the possessor, with applications to be permitted to see this precious relic, that to put an end to the trouble at once and for ever, she gave orders that it should be felled to the ground.

The weeping willow, in addition to the pensive, drooping appearance of its branches, weeps little drops of water, which stand like fallen tears upon the leaves. It will grow in any but a dry soil, but most delights, and best thrives, in the immediate neighbourhood of water. The willow, in poetical language, commonly introduces a stream, or a forsaken lover:—

11 We pass a gulph, in which the willows dip

Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink." Conifer.

Chatterton describes

"The willow, shadowing the bubbling brook."

Churchill mentions, among other trees

"The willow weeping o'er the fatal wave, Where many a lover finds a watery grave; The cypress, sacred held when lovers mourn

Their true love snatched away."

Besides Shakspeare's beautiful mention of the willow on the death of Ophelia, and notices of it by various other poets, there are several songs in which despairing lovers call upon the willow-tree:—

"Ah, willow! willow
The willow shall be
A garland for me,
Ah, willow 1 willow!"

Chatterton has one, of which the bur then runs—

"Mie love ys dedde,
Gon to hys denthe-bedde.
Al under the wyllowe tree."

In the " Two Noble Kinsmen," said tc have been written by Shakespeare and "Sung

Fletcher, a young girl, who loses her wit with hopeless love for Palamoo—

Nothing but * Willow! willow! willow!'

and between Ever was ' Palamon, fair Palamon l' "

Herrick thus addresses the willow-tree:

'Thou art to all lost love the best,
The. only true plant found;
Wherewith young men and maids distrest.
And left of love, are crowned.

'When once the lover's rose is dead,
Or laid aside forlorn,
Then willow garlands 'bout the head,
Bedewed with tears, are worn.

"When with neglect, the lover's bane,
Poor maids rewarded be
For their love lost, their only gain
Is but a wreath from thee.

"And underneath thy cooling shade,
When weary of the light,
The love-spent youth and love-sick maid
Come to weep out the night,"

This poet has some lines addressed to u willow garland also :—

"A willow garland thou didst send
Perfumed, last day, to me;
Which did but only this portend,
I was forsook by thee.

"Since it is so, I'll tell thee what;
To-morrow thou shalt see
Me wear the willow, after that
To die upon the tree.

"As beasts unto the altars go
With garlands dressed, so I
Will with my willow-wreath also
Come forth, and sweetly die."

The willow seems, from the oldest times, to have been dedicated to grief; under them the children of Israel lamented their captivity:—" By the rivers of Babyon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion: we hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.1,

The wicker-baskets made by our forefathers are the subject of an epigram by Martial:—

"From Britain's painted sons I came,
And basket is my barbarous name;
Yet now I am so modish grown,
That Rome would claim me for her own.'

It is worthy to be recollected, that tome of the amullett trees known an wil

lows; nay, the smallest tree known, without any exception. The herbaceous willow, xalt.i herbacea, is seldom higher than three inches, sometimes not mo* than two; and yet it is in every respect a tree, notwithstanding the name herbaceous, which, as it has been observed, is inappropriate. Dr. Clarke says, in his "Travels in Norway," " We soon recognised some of our old Lapland acquaintances, such as Betida nana, with its minute leaves, 1 ke silver pennies; mountain-birch; and the dwarf alpine species of willow: of which half a dozen trees, with all their branches, leaves, flowers, and roots, might be compressed within two of the pages of a lady's pocket-book, without coming into contact with each other. After our return to England, specimens of the talix herbacea were given to our friends, which, when framed and glazed, had the appearance of miniature drawings. The author, in collecting them for his herbiary, has frequently compressed twenty of these trees between two of the pages of a duodecimo volume." Yet in the great northern forests, Dr. Clarke found a species of willow "that would make a splendid ornament in our English shrubberies, owing to its quick growth, and beautiful appearance. It had much more the appearance of an orange than of a willow-tree, its large luxuriant leaves being of the most vivid green colour, splendidly shining. We believed it to be a variety of talix amygdalina, but it may be a distinct species: it principally flourishes in Westro Bothnia, and we never saw it elsewhere."

So much, and more than is here quoted, respecting the willow, has been gathered by the fair authoress of Sylvan Sketches.

In conclusion, be it observed, that the common willow is in common language sometimes called the sallow, and under that name it is mentioned by Chaucer:—

"Whoso hnildeth his house all of salowes. And pricketh his blind hors over the falowes,

And suffrcth his wife for to seche hallowes.

Hi* is worthy to be honged on the gallowes." Chaucer.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

His name stands in the church of England calendar. He suffered martyrdom at Rome, under Valerian. Mr. Audley relates of St. Lawrence, " that being peculiarly obnoxious, the order for his punishment was,' Bring out the grate of iron; and when it is red hot, on with him, roast iim, broil him, turn him: upon pain of our high displeasure, do every man his office, O ye tormentors' These orders were obeyed, and after Lawrence had been pressed down with fire-forks for a long time, he said to the tyrant,' This side is now roasted enough; O tyrant, do you think roasted meat or raw the best V Soon after he had said this he expired. The church of St. Lawrence Jewry, in London, is dedicated to him, and has a gridiron on the steeple for a vane, that being generally supposed the instrument of his torture. The ingenious Mr. Robinson, in his * Ecclesiastical Researches,' speaking about this saint, says,'PhilipII. of Spain, having won a battle on the 10th of August, the festival of St. Lawrence, vowed to consecrate a Palace, aCBVRCH, and a Monastery to his honour. He did erect the Escvrial, which is the largest Palace in Europe. This immense quarry consists of several courts and quadrangles, all disposed in the shape of n Gridiron. The bars form several courts; and the Royal Family occupy the Handle.' 'Gridirons,' says one, who examined it,' are met with in every part of the building. There are scttlptnred gridirons, iron gridirons, painted gridirons, marble gridirons, &c &c. There are gridirons over the doors, gridirons in the yards, gridirons in the windows, gridirons in the galleries. Never was an instrument of martyrdom so multiplied, so honoured, so celebrated: and thus much for gridirons.'"»

Chronology. On the 10th of August, 1575, Peter Bales, one of our earliest and most eminent writing-masters, finished a performance which contained the Lord's prayer, the creed, the decalogue, with two short prayers in Latin, his own name, motto, the day of the month, year of our Lord, and reign of the queen, (Elizabeth,) to whom he afterwards presented it at Hampton-court, all within the circle of

* Companion to the Almanac.

a single penny, enchased in a ring with Borders of gold, and covered with a crystal, so accurately wrought, as to be plainly legible, to the great admiration of her majesty, her ministers, and several ambassadors at court.

In 1590, Bales kept a school at the upper end of the Old Bailey, and the same year published his " Writing SchoolMaster." In 1595, he had a trial of skill in writing with a Mr. Daniel (David) Johnson, for a "golden pen" of £20 value, and won it. Upon this victory, his contemporary and rival in penmanship, John Davies, made a satirical, illnatured epigram, intimating that penury continually compelled Bales to remove himself and his " golden pen," to elude the pursuit of his creditors. The particulars of the contest for the pen, supposed to be written by Bales himself, are in the British Museum, dated January 1, 1596.

So much concerning Peter Bales is derived from the late Mr. Butler's "Chronological Exercises," an excellent arrangement of biographical, historical, and miscellaneous facts for the daily use of young ladies.

Peter Bales according to Mr. D Israeli, " astonished the eyes of beholders by showing them what they could not see." He cites a narrative, among the Harleian MSS., of" a rare piece of work brought to pass by Peter Bales, an Englishman, and a clerk of the chancery." Mr. D'Israeli presumes this to have been the whole Bible, "in an English walnut no bigger than a hen's egg. The nut holdeth the book: there are as many leaves in his little book as the great Bible, and he hath written as much in one of his little leaves, as a great leaf of the Bible." This wonderfully unreadable copy of the Bible was "seen by many thousands."

Peter Huet, the celebrated bishop of Avranches, long doubted the story of an eminent writing-master having comprised "the Iliad in a nut-shell," but, after trifling half an hour in examining the matter he thought it possible. One day, in company at the dauphin's, with a piece of paper and a common pen, he demonstrated, that a piece of vellum, about ten inches in length, and eight in width, pliant and firm, can be folded up and enclosed in the shell of a large walnut, that in breadth it can contain one line of thirty verses, perfectly written with a crow-quill, and in length two hundred ana fifty lines; that one side will then contain seven thousand five hundred \erses, the other side as much, and that therefore the piece of vellum will hold the whole fifteen thousand verses of the Iliad.

The writing match between Peter Bales and David Johnson, mentioned by Mr. Butler, " was only traditionally known, till, with my own eyes," says Mr. D' Israeli, " I pondered on this whole trial of skill in the precious manuscript of the champion himself; who, like Caesar, not only knew how to win victories, but also to record them." Johnson for a whole year gave a public challenge, " To any one who should take exceptions to this my writing and teaching. Bales was magnanimously silent, till he discovered that since this challenge was proclaimed, he " was doing much less in writing and teaching." Bales then sent forth a challenge, " To all Englishmen and strangers," to write for a gold pen of twenty pounds value, in all kinds of hands, "best, straightest, and fastest," and most kind of ways; "a full, a mean, a small, with line and without line; in a slow-set band, a mean facile hand, and a fast running hand;" and further, " to write truest and speediest, most secretary and clerk-like, from a man's mouth, reading Dr pronouncing, either English or Latin." Within an hour, Johnson, though a young friend of Bales, accepted the challenge, and accused the veteran of arrogance. "Such an absolute challenge," says he, "was never witnessed by man, without exception of any in the world!" Johnson, a few days after, met Bales, and showed him a piece of" secretary's hand," which he had written on fine parchment, and said, " Mr. Bales, give me one shilling out of your purse, and, if within six months you better or equal this piece of writing, I will give you forty pounds for it." Bales accepted the shilling, and the parties were thereby bound over to the trial of skill. The day before it took place, a printed paper posted through the city taunted Bales's "proud poverty," and his pecuniary motives as " ungentle, base, and mercenary, not answerable to the dignity of the golden pen!" Johnson declared that he would maintain his chalenge for a thousand pounds more, but that Bales was unable to make good a thousand groats. Bales retorted by affirming the paper a sign of his rival's weakness, " yet who so bold," says Bales, '' as blind Bayard, £nat at not a word

of Latin to cast at a dog, or say ' Bol' tc a goose I" The goose was mentioned perhaps, in allusion to Michaelmas-day 1595, when the trial commenced before five judges; an ancient gentleman" was intrusted with "the golden pen." The first trial was for the manner of teaching scholars; this terminated in favour of Bales. The second, for secretary and clerk-like writing, dictated in English and in Latin, was also awarded to Bales; Johnson confessing that he wanted the Latin tongue, and was no clerk. On the third and last trial, for fair writing in sundry kinds of hands, Johnson prevailed in beauty and most " authentic piopor tion," and for superior variety of the Roman hand; but in court-hand, and set-text, Bales exceeded, and in bastard secretary was somewhat perfecter than Johnson. For a finishing blow, Bales drew forth his " master-piece," and, offering to forego his previous advantages if Johnson could better this specimen, his antagonist was struck dumb. In compassion to the youth of Johnson, some of the judges urged the others not to give judgment in public. Bales remonstrated against a private decision in vain, but he obtained the verdict.and secured the prize. Johnson, however, reported that he had won the golden pen, and issued an " Appeal to all impartial Penmen," wherein he affirmed, that the judges, though his own friends, and honest gentlemen, were unskilled in judging of most hands, and again offered forty pounds to be allowed six months to equal Bales's "masterpiece." Finally, he alleged, that the judges did not deny that Bales-possessed himself of the golden pen by a trick: he relates, that Bales having pretended that his wife was in extreme sickness, he desired that she might have a sight of the golden pen, to comfort her, that the " ancient gentleman," relying upon the kind husband's word, allowed the golden pen to be carried to her, and that thereupon Bales immediately pawned it, and afterwards, to make sure work, sold it at a great loss, so that the judges, ashamed of their own oonduct, were compelled to give such a verdict as suited the occasion. Bales rejoined, by publishing to the universe the day and hour when the judges i brought the golden pen to his house, and' painted it with a hand over his door for a sign.' This is shortly the history of R

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][merged small][graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »