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Title: The plant-lore and garden-craft of Shakespeare

Author: Henry Nicholson Ellacombe

Release Date: March 25, 2009 [EBook #28407]

Language: English

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Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been left as in the original. Some typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected. A complete list follows the text. Greek words that may not display correctly in all browsers are transliterated in the text using hovers like this: βιβλος. Position your mouse over the line to see the transliteration. Underlined letters indicate diacritical marks and special characters that may not be visible in all browsers. Position your mouse over the line to see an explanation.






"It would be hard to name a better commonplace book for summer lawns. . . . The lover of poetry, the lover of gardening, and the lover of quaint, out-of-the-way knowledge will each find something to please him. . . . It is a delightful example of gardening literature."—Pall Mall Gazette.

"Mr. Ellacombe, with a double enthusiasm for Shakespeare and for his garden, has produced a very readable and graceful volume on the Plant-Lore of Shakespeare."—Saturday Review.

"Mr. Ellacombe brings to his task an enthusiastic love of horticulture, wedded to no inconsiderable practical and theoretical knowledge of it; a mind cultivated by considerable acquaintance with the Greek and Latin classics, and trained for this special subject by a course of extensive reading among the contemporaries of his author: and a capacity for patient and unwearied research, which he has shown by the stores of learning he has drawn from a class of books rarely dipped into by the student—Saxon and Early English herbals and books of leechcraft; the result is a work which is entitled from its worth to a place in every Shakesperian library."—Spectator.

"The work has fallen into the hands of one who knows not only the plants themselves, but also their literary history; and it may be said that Shakespeare's flowers now for the first time find an historian."—Field.

"A delightful book has been compiled, and it is as accurate as it is delightful."—Gardener's Chronicle.

"Mr. Ellacombe's book well deserves a place on the shelves of both the student of Shakespeare and the lover of plant lore."—Journal of Botany.

"By patient industry, systematically bestowed, Mr. Ellacombe has produced a book of considerable interest; . . . full of facts, grouped on principles of common sense about quotations from our great poet."—Guardian.

"Mr. Ellacombe is an old and faithful labourer in this field of criticism. His 'Plant-lore and Garden-craft of Shakespeare' . . . is the fullest and best book on the subject."—The Literary World (American).
















"My Herbale booke in Folio I unfold.
I pipe of plants, I sing of somer flowers."

Cutwode, Caltha Poetarum, st. 1.



"Faultes escaped in the Printing, correcte with your pennes; omitted by my neglygence, overslippe with patience; committed by ignorance, remit with favour."

Lily, Euphues and his England, Address to the gentlemen Readers.




Introduction 1
Plant-lore of Shakespeare 7
Garden-craft of Shakespeare 333
I. The Daisy 359
II. The Seasons of Shakespeare's Plays 379
III. Names of Plants 391
Index of Plays 421
General Index 431




Since the publication of the First Edition I have received many kind criticisms both from the public critics and from private friends. For these criticisms I am very thankful, and they have enabled me to correct some errors and to make some additions, which I hope will make the book more acceptable and useful.

For convenience of reference I have added the line numbers to the passages quoted, taking both the quotations and the line numbers from the Globe Shakespeare. In a few instances I have not kept exactly to the text of the Globe Edition, but these are noted; and I have added the "Two Noble Kinsmen," which is not in that Edition.

In other respects this Second Edition is substantially the same as the First.

H. N. E.

Bitton Vicarage, Gloucestershire,
February, 1884.




The following Notes on the "Plant-lore and Garden-craft of Shakespeare" were published in "The Garden" from March to September, 1877.

They are now republished with additions and with such corrections as the altered form of publication required or allowed.

As the Papers appeared from week to week, I had to thank many correspondents (mostly complete strangers to myself) for useful suggestions and inquiries; and I would again invite any further suggestions or remarks, especially in the way of correction of any mistakes or omissions that I may have made, and I should feel thankful to any one that would kindly do me this favour.

In republishing the Papers, I have been very doubtful whether I ought not to have rejected the cultural remarks on several of the plants, which I had added with a special reference to the horticultural character of "The Garden" newspaper. But I decided to retain them, on finding that they interested some readers, by whom the literary and Shakespearean notices were less valued.

The weekly preparation of the Papers was a very pleasant study to myself, and introduced me to much literary and horticultural information of which I was previously ignorant. In republishing them I hope that some of my readers may meet with equal pleasure, and with some little information that may be new to them.

H. N. E.

Bitton Vicarage, Gloucestershire,
May, 1878.



double A with birds and flowers


ALL the commentators on Shakespeare are agreed upon one point, that he was the most wonderfully many-sided writer that the world has yet seen. Every art and science are more or less noticed by him, so far as they were known in his day; every business and profession are more or less accurately described; and so it has come to pass that, though the main circumstances of his life are pretty well known, yet the students of every art and science, and the members of every business and profession, have delighted to claim him as their fellow-labourer. Books have been written at various times by various writers, which have proved (to the complete satisfaction of the writers) that he was a soldier,[1:1] a sailor, a lawyer,[1:2] an astronomer, a physician,[1:3] a divine,[1:4] a printer,[1:5] an [2]actor, a courtier, a sportsman, an angler,[2:1] and I know not what else besides.

I also propose to claim him as a fellow-labourer. A lover of flowers and gardening myself, I claim Shakespeare as equally a lover of flowers and gardening; and this I propose to prove by showing how, in all his writings, he exhibits his strong love for flowers, and a very fair, though not perhaps a very deep, knowledge of plants; but I do not intend to go further. That he was a lover of plants I shall have no difficulty in showing; but I do not, therefore, believe that he was a professed gardener, and I am quite sure he can in no sense be claimed as a botanist, in the scientific sense of the term. His knowledge of plants was simply the knowledge that every man may have who goes through the world with his eyes open to the many beauties of Nature that surround him, and who does not content himself with simply looking, and then passing on, but tries to find out something of the inner meaning of the beauties he sees, and to carry away with him some of the lessons which they were doubtless meant to teach. But Shakespeare was able to go further than this. He had the great gift of being able to describe what he saw in a way that few others have arrived at; he could communicate to others the pleasure that he felt himself, not by long descriptions, but by a few simple words, a few natural touches, and a few well-chosen epithets, which bring the plants and flowers before us in the freshest, and often in a most touching way.

For this reason the study of the Plant-lore of Shakespeare is a very pleasant study, and there are other things which add to this pleasure. One especial pleasure arises from the thoroughly English character of his descriptions. It has often been observed that wherever the scenes of his plays are laid, and whatever foreign characters he introduces, yet they really are all Englishmen of the time of Elizabeth, and the scenes are all drawn from the England of his day. This is certainly true of the plants and flowers we meet with in the plays; they are thoroughly English plants that (with very few exceptions) he saw in the hedgerows and woods of Warwickshire,[2:2] or in [3]his own or his friends' gardens. The descriptions are thus thoroughly fresh and real; they tell of the country and of the outdoor life he loved, and they never smell of the study lamp. In this respect he differs largely from Milton, whose descriptions (with very few exceptions) recall the classic and Italian writers. He differs, too, from his contemporary Spenser, who has certainly some very sweet descriptions of flowers, which show that he knew and loved them, but are chiefly allusions to classical flowers, which he names in such a way as to show that he often did not fully know what they were, but named them because it was the right thing for a classical poet so to do. Shakespeare never names a flower or plant unnecessarily; they all come before us, when they do come, in the most natural way, as if the particular flower named was the only one that could be named on that occasion. We have nothing in his writings, for instance, like the long list of trees described (and in the most interesting way) in the first canto of the First Book of the "Faerie Queene," and indeed he is curiously distinct from all his contemporaries. Chaucer, before him, spoke much of flowers and plants, and drew them as from the life. In the century after him Herrick may be named as another who sung of flowers as he saw them; but the real contemporaries of Shakespeare are, with few exceptions,[3:1] very silent on the subject. One instance will suffice. Sir Thomas Wyatt's poems are all professedly about the country—they abound in woods and vales, shepherds and swains—yet in all his poems there is scarcely a single allusion to a flower in a really natural way. And because Shakespeare only introduces flowers in their right place, and in the most purely natural way, there is one necessary result. I shall show that the number of flowers he introduces is large, but the number he omits, and which he must have known, is also very large, [4]and well worth noting.[4:1] He has no notice, under any name, of such common flowers as the Snowdrop, the Forget-me-Not, the Foxglove, the Lily of the Valley,[4:2] and many others which he must have known, but which he has not named; because when he names a plant or flower, he does so not to show his own knowledge, but because the particular flower or plant is wanted in the particular place in which he uses it.

Another point of interest in the Plant-lore of Shakespeare is the wide range of his observation. He gathers flowers for us from all sorts of places—from the "turfy mountains" and the "flat meads;" from the "bosky acres" and the "unshrubbed down;" from "rose-banks" and "hedges even-pleached." But he is equally at home in the gardens of the country gentlemen with their "pleached bowers" and "leafy orchards." Nor is he a stranger to gardens of a much higher pretension, for he will pick us famous Strawberries from the garden of my Lord of Ely in Holborn; he will pick us White and Red Roses from the garden of the Temple; and he will pick us "Apricocks" from the royal garden of Richard the Second's sad queen. I propose to follow Shakespeare into these many pleasant spots, and to pick each flower and note each plant which he has thought worthy of notice. I do not propose to make a selection of his plants, for that would not give a proper idea of the extent of his knowledge, but to note every tree, and plant, and flower that he has noted. And as I pick each flower, I shall let Shakespeare first tell us all he has to say about it; in other words, I shall quote every passage in which he names the plant or flower; for here, [5]again, it would not do to make a selection from the passages, my object not being to give "floral extracts," but to let him say all he can in his own choice words. There is not much difficulty in this, but there is difficulty in determining how much or how little to quote. On the one hand, it often seems cruel to cut short a noble passage in the midst of which some favourite flower is placed; but, on the other hand, to quote at too great a length would extend the book beyond reasonable limits. The rule, therefore, must be to confine the quotations within as small a space as possible, only taking care that the space is not so small as entirely to spoil the beauty of the description. Then, having listened to all that Shakespeare has to say on each flower, I shall follow with illustrations (few and short) from contemporary writers; then with any observations that may present themselves in the identification of Shakespeare's plant with their modern representatives, finishing each with anything in the history or modern uses or cultivation of the plant that I think will interest readers.

For the identification of the plants, we have an excellent and trustworthy guide in John Gerard, who was almost an exact contemporary of Shakespeare. Gerard's life ranged from 1545 to 1612, and Shakespeare's from 1564 to 1616. Whether they were acquainted or not we do not know, but it is certainly not improbable that they were; I should think it almost certain that they must have known each other's published works.[5:1]

[6] My subject naturally divides itself into two parts—

First, The actual plants and flowers named by Shakespeare; Second, His knowledge of gardens and gardening.

I now go at once to the first division, naming each plant in its alphabetical order.


[1:1] "Was Shakespeare ever a Soldier?" by W. J. Thoms, F.S.A., 1865, 8vo.

[1:2] "Shakespeare's legal acquirements considered in a letter to J. P. Collier," by John, Lord Campbell, 1859, 12mo. "Shakespeare a Lawyer," by W. L. Rushton, 1858, 12mo.

[1:3] "Remarks on the Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," by J. C. Bucknill, 1860, 8vo.

[1:4] Eaton's "Shakespeare and the Bible," 1858, 8vo.

[1:5] "Shakespere and Typography; being an attempt to show Shakespere's personal connection with, and technical knowledge of, the Art of Printing," by William Blades, 1872, 8vo.

[2:1] "Was Shakespeare an Angler," by H. N. Ellacombe, 1883, 12mo.

[2:2] "The country around Stratford presents the perfection of quiet English scenery; it is remarkable for its wealth of lovely wild flowers, for its deep meadows on each side of the tranquil Avon, and for its rich, sweet woodlands."—E. Dowden's Shakespeare in Literature Primers, 1877.

[3:1] The two chief exceptions are Ben Jonson (1574-1637) and William Browne (1590-1645). Jonson, though born in London, and living there the greatest part of his life, was evidently a real lover of flowers, and frequently shows a practical knowledge of them. Browne was also a keen observer of nature, and I have made several quotations from his "Britannia's Pastorals."

[4:1] Perhaps the most noteworthy plant omitted is Tobacco—Shakespeare must have been well acquainted with it, not only as every one in his day knew of it, but as a friend and companion of Ben Jonson, he must often have been in the company of smokers. Ben Jonson has frequent allusions to it, and almost all the sixteenth-century writers have something to say about it; but Shakespeare never names the herb, or alludes to it in any way whatever.

[4:2] It seems probable that the Lily of the Valley was not recognized as a British plant in Shakespeare's time, and was very little grown even in gardens. Turner says, "Ephemerū is called in duch meyblumle, in french Muguet. It groweth plentuously in Germany, but not in England that ever I coulde see, savinge in my Lordes gardine at Syon. The Poticaries in Germany do name it Lilium Cōvallium, it may be called in englishe May Lilies."—Names of Herbes, 1548. Coghan in 1596 says much the same: "I say nothing of them because they are not usuall in gardens."—Haven of Health.

[5:1] I may mention the following works as more or less illustrating the Plant-lore of Shakespeare:—

1.—"Shakspere's Garden," by Sidney Beisly, 1864. I have to thank this author for information on a few points, but on the whole it is not a satisfactory account of the plants of Shakespeare, and I have not found it of much use.

2.—"Flowers from Stratford-on-Avon," and

3.—"Girard's Flowers of Shakespeare and of Milton," 2 vols. These two works are pretty drawing-room books, and do not profess to be more.

4.—"Natural History of Shakespeare, being Selections of Flowers, Fruits, and Animals," arranged by Bessie Mayou, 1877. This gives the greater number of the passages in which flowers are named, without any note or comment.

5.—"Shakespeare's Bouquet—the Flowers and Plants of Shakespeare," Paisley, 1872. This is only a small pamphlet.

6.—"The Rural Life of Shakespeare, as illustrated by his Works," by J. C. Roach Smith, 8vo, London, 1870. A pleasant but short pamphlet.

7.—"A Brief Guide to the Gardens of Shakespeare," 1863, 12mo, 12 pages, and

8.—"Shakespeare's Home and Rural Life," by James Walter, with Illustrations. 1874, folio. These two works are rather topographical guides than accounts of the flowers of Shakespeare.

9.—"The Flowers of Shakespeare," depicted by Viola, coloured plates, 4to, 1882. A drawing-room book of little merit.

10.—"The Shakspere Flora," by Leo H. Grindon, 12mo, 1883. A collection of very pleasant essays on the poetry of Shakespeare, and his knowledge of flowers.




  Perdita. Here's flowers for you.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4.
  Duke. Away before me to sweet beds of flowers.
Twelfth Night, act i, sc. 1.



leaves and flowers decoration


  K. Henry. The united vessel of their blood,
Mingled with venom of suggestion—
As, force perforce, the age will pour it in—
Shall never leak, though it do work as strong
As Aconitum or rash gunpowder.
2nd King Henry IV, act iv, sc. 4 (44).

There is another place in which it is probable that Shakespeare alludes to the Aconite; he does not name it, but he compares the effects of the poison to gunpowder, as in the passage above.

  Romeo. Let me have
A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear
As will disperse itself through all the veins,
That the life-weary taker may fall dead
And that the trunk may be discharged of breath
As violently as hasty powder fired
Romeo and Juliet, act v, sc. 1 (59).

The plant here named as being as powerful in its action as gunpowder is the Aconitum Napellus (the Wolf's bane or Monk's-hood). It is a member of a large family, all of which are more or less poisonous, and the common Monk's-hood as much so as any. Two species are found in America, but, for the most part, the family is confined to the northern portion of the Eastern Hemisphere, ranging from the Himalaya through Europe to Great Britain. It is now found wild in a few parts of England, but it is certainly not indigenous; it was, however, very early introduced into England, being found in all the English vocabularies of plants from the tenth century downwards, and frequently mentioned in the early English medical recipes.

[10] Its names are all interesting. In the Anglo-Saxon Vocabularies it is called thung, which, however, seems to have been a general name for any very poisonous plant;[10:1] it was then called Aconite, as the English form of its Greek and Latin name, but this name is now seldom used, being, by a curious perversion, solely given to the pretty little early-flowering Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), which is not a true Aconite, though closely allied; it then got the name of Wolf's-bane, as the direct translation of the Greek lycoctonum, a name which it had from the idea that arrows tipped with the juice, or baits anointed with it, would kill wolves and other vermin; and, lastly, it got the expressive names of Monk's-hood[10:2] and the Helmet-flower, from the curious shape of the upper sepal overtopping the rest of the flower.

As to its poisonous qualities, all authors agree that every species of the family is very poisonous, the A. ferox of the Himalaya being probably the most so. Every part of the plant, from the root to the pollen dust, seems to be equally powerful, and it has the special bad quality of being, to inexperienced eyes, so like some harmless plant, that the poison has been often taken by mistake with deadly results. This charge against the plant is of long standing, dating certainly from the time of Virgil—miseros fallunt aconita legentes—and, no doubt, from much before his time. As it [11]was a common belief that poisons were antidotes against other poisons, the Aconite was supposed to be an antidote against the most deadly one—

"I have heard that Aconite
Being timely taken hath a healing might
Against the scorpion's stroke."

Ben Jonson, Sejanus, act iii, sc. 3.

Yet, in spite of its poisonous qualities, the plant has always held, and deservedly, a place among the ornamental plants of our gardens; its stately habit and its handsome leaves and flowers make it a favourite. Nearly all the species are worth growing, the best, perhaps, being A. Napellus, both white and blue, A. paniculatum, A. japonicum, and A. autumnale. All the species grow well in shade and under trees. In Shakespeare's time Gerard grew in his London garden four species—A. lycoctonum, A. variegatum, A. Napellus, and A. Pyrenaicum.


[10:1] "Aconita, thung." Ælfric's "Vocabulary," 10th century.

"Aconitum, thung." Anglo-Saxon Vocabulary, 11th century.

"Aconita, thung." "Durham Glossary of the names of Worts," 11th century.

The ancient Vocabularies and Glossaries, to which I shall frequently refer, are printed in

I. Wright's "Volume of Vocabularies," 1857.

II. "Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England," by Rev. O. Cockayne, published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, 3 vols., 1866.

III. "Promptorium Parvulorum," edited by Albert Way, and published by the Camden Society, 3 vols., 1843-65.

IV. "Catholicon Anglicum," edited by S. J. Hertage, and published by the Early English Text Society, 1881, and by the Camden Society, 1882.

[10:2] This was certainly its name in Shakespeare's time—

"And with the Flower Monk's-hood makes a coole."

Cutwode, Caltha Poetarum, 1599 (st. 117).

ACORN, see Oak.


  Thersites. The parrot will not do more for an Almond.
Troilus and Cressida, act v, sc. 2 (193).

"An Almond for a parrot" seems to have been a proverb for the greatest temptation that could be put before a man. The Almond tree is a native of Asia and North Africa, but it was very early introduced into England, probably by the Romans. It occurs in the Anglo-Saxon lists of plants, and in the "Durham Glossary" (11th century) it has the name of the "Easterne nutte-beam." The tree was always a favourite both for the beauty of its flowers, which come very early in the year, and for its Biblical associations, so that in Shakespeare's time the trees were "in our London gardens [12]and orchards in great plenty" (Gerard). Before Shakespeare's time, Spenser had sung its praises thus—

"Like to an Almond tree ymounted hye
On top of greene Selinis all alone
With blossoms brave bedecked daintily;
Whose tender locks do tremble every one
At everie little breath that under Heaven is blowne."

F. Q., i. 7, 32.

The older English name seems to have been Almande—

"And Almandres gret plente,"

Romaunt of the Rose;

"Noyz de l'almande, nux Phyllidis,"

Alexander Neckam;

and both this old name and its more modern form of Almond came to us through the French amande (Provençal, amondala), from the Greek and Latin amygdalus. What this word meant is not very clear, but the native Hebrew name of the plant (shaked) is most expressive. The word signifies "awakening," and so is a most fitting name for a tree whose beautiful flowers, appearing in Palestine in January, show the wakening up of Creation. The fruit also has always been a special favourite, and though it is strongly imbued with prussic acid, it is considered a wholesome fruit. By the old writers many wonderful virtues were attributed to the fruit, but I am afraid it was chiefly valued for its supposed virtue, that "five or six being taken fasting do keepe a man from being drunke" (Gerard).[12:1] This popular error is not yet extinct.

As an ornamental tree the Almond should be in every shrubbery, and, as in Gerard's time, it may still be planted in town gardens with advantage. There are several varieties of the common Almond, differing slightly in the colour and size of the flowers; and there is one little shrub (Amygdalus nana) of the family that is very pretty in the front row of a shrubbery. All the species are deciduous.


[12:1] "Plutarch mentions a great drinker of wine who, by the use of bitter almonds, used to escape being intoxicated."—Flora Domestica, p. 6.



  And sweetens, in the suffering pangs it bears,
The Aloes of all forces, shocks, and fears.
A Lover's Complaint, st. 39.

Aloes have the peculiarity that they are the emblems of the most intense bitterness and of the richest and most costly fragrance. In the Bible Aloes are mentioned five times, and always with reference to their excellence and costliness.[13:1] Juvenal speaks of it only as a bitter—

"Animo corrupta superbo
Plus Aloes quam mellis habet" (vi. 180).

Pliny describes it very minutely, and says, "Strong it is to smell unto, and bitter to taste" (xxvii. 4, Holland's translation). Our old English writers spoke of it under both aspects. It occurs in several recipes of the Anglo-Saxon Leechdoms, as a strong and bitter purgative. Chaucer notices its bitterness only—

"The woful teres that they leten falle
As bittre weren, out of teres kynde,
For peyne, as is ligne Aloes or galle."

Troilus and Cryseide, st. 159.

But the author of the "Remedie of Love," formerly attributed to Chaucer, says—

"My chambre is strowed with myrrhe and incense
With sote savouring Aloes and sinnamone,
Breathing an aromaticke redolence."

Shakespeare only mentions the bitter quality.

The two qualities are derived from two very different plants. The fragrant ointment is the product of an Indian shrub, Aquilaria agallochum; and the bitter purgative is from the true Aloes, A. Socotrina, A. vulgaris, and others. These plants were well known in Shakespeare's time, and were grown in England. Turner and Gerard describe them [14]as the Sea Houseleek; and Gerard tells us that they were grown as vegetable curiosities, for "the herbe is alwaies greene, and likewise sendeth forth branches, though it remaine out of the earth, especially if the root be covered with lome, and now and then watered; for so being hanged on the seelings and upper posts of dining-roomes, it will not onely continue a long time greene, but it also groweth and bringeth forth new leaves."[14:1]


[13:1] Numbers xxiv. 6; Psalms xlv. 8; Proverbs vii. 17; Canticles iv. 14; John xix. 39.

[14:1] In the emblems of Camerarius (No. 92) is a picture of a room with an Aloe suspended.


  By this, the boy that by her side lay kill'd
Was melted like a vapour from her sight,
And in his blood that on the ground lay spill'd,
A purple flower sprung up chequer'd with white.
Resembling well his pale cheeks, and the blood
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood.
Venus and Adonis (1165).

Shakespeare does not actually name the Anemone, and I place this passage under that name with some doubt, but I do not know any other flower to which he could be referring.

The original legend of the Anemone as given by Bion was that it sprung from the tears of Venus, while the Rose sprung from Adonis' blood—

ἆιμα ροδον τίκτει. τά δέ δάκρυα τάν ἀνεμώναν.

Bion Idyll, i, 66.

"Wide as her lover's torrent blood appears
So copious flowed the fountain of her tears;
The Rose starts blushing from the sanguine dyes,
And from her tears Anemones arise."

Polwhele's Translation, 1786.

But this legend was not followed by the other classical writers, who made the Anemone to be the flower of Adonis. Theocritus compares the Dog-rose (so called also in his day, κυνοσβατος) and the Anemone with the Rose, and the Scholia [15]comment on the passage thus—"Anemone, a scentless flower, which they report to have sprung from the blood of Adonis; and again Nicander says that the Anemone sprung from the blood of Adonis."

The storehouse of our ancestors' pagan mythology was in Ovid, and his well-known lines are—

"Cum flos e sanguine concolor ortus
Qualem, quæ; lento celant sub cortice granum
Punica ferre solent; brevis est tamen usus in illis,
Namque male hærentem, et nimiâ brevitate caducum
Excutiunt idem qui præstant nomina, venti,"—

Thus translated by Golding in 1567, from whom it is very probable that Shakespeare obtained his information—

"Of all one colour with the bloud, a flower she there did find,
Even like the flower of that same tree, whose fruit in tender rind
Have pleasant graines enclosede—howbeit the use of them is short,
For why, the leaves do hang so loose through lightnesse in such sort,
As that the windes that all things pierce[15:1] with everie little blast
Do shake them off and shed them so as long they cannot last."[15:2]

I feel sure that Shakespeare had some particular flower in view. Spenser only speaks of it as a flower, and gives no description—

"In which with cunning hand was pourtrahed
The love of Venus and her Paramoure,
The fayre Adonis, turned to a flowre."

F. Q., iii, 1, 34.

"When she saw no help might him restore
Him to a dainty flowre she did transmew."

F. Q., iii, 1, 38.

Ben Jonson similarly speaks of it as "Adonis' flower" (Pan's Anniversary), but with Shakespeare it is different; he describes the flower minutely, and as if it were a well-known flower, "purple chequered with white," and considering that [16]in his day Anemone was supposed to be Adonis' flower (as it was described in 1647 by Alexander Ross in his "Mystagogus Poeticus," who says that Adonis "was by Venus turned into a red flower called Anemone"), and as I wish, if possible, to link the description to some special flower, I conclude that the evidence is in favour of the Anemone. Gerard's Anemone was certainly the same as ours, and the "purple" colour is no objection, for "purple" in Shakespeare's time had a very wide signification, meaning almost any bright colour, just as purpureus had in Latin,[16:1] which had so wide a range that it was used on the one hand as the epithet of the blood and the poppy, and on the other as the epithet of the swan ("purpureis ales oloribus," Horace) and of a woman's white arms ("brachia purpurea candidiora nive," Albinovanus). Nor was "chequered" confined to square divisions, as it usually is now, but included spots of any size or shape.

We have transferred the Greek name of Anemone to the English language, and we have further kept the Greek idea in the English form of "wind-flower." The name is explained by Pliny: "The flower hath the propertie to open but when the wind doth blow, wherefore it took the name Anemone in Greeke" ("Nat. Hist." xxi. 11, Holland's translation). This, however, is not the character of the Anemone as grown in English gardens; and so it is probable that the name has been transferred to a different plant than the classical one, and I think no suggestion more probable than Dr. Prior's that the classical Anemone was the Cistus, a shrub that is very abundant in the South of Europe; that certainly opens its flowers at other times than when the wind blows, and so will not well answer to Pliny's description, but of which the flowers are bright-coloured and most fugacious, and so will answer to Ovid's description. This fugacious character of the Anemone is perpetuated in Sir William Jones' lines ("Poet. Works," i, 254, ed. 1810)—


"Youth, like a thin Anemone, displays
His silken leaf, and in a morn decays;"

but the lines, though classical, are not true of the Anemone, though they would well apply to the Cistus.[17:1]

Our English Anemones belong to a large family inhabiting cold and temperate regions, and numbering seventy species, of which three are British.[17:2] These are A. Nemorosa, the common wood Anemone, the brightest spring ornament of our woods; A. Apennina, abundant in the South of Europe, and a doubtful British plant; and A. pulsatilla, the Passe, or Pasque flower, i.e., the flower of Easter, one of the most beautiful of our British flowers, but only to be found on the chalk formation.


[15:1] Golding evidently adopted the reading "qui perflant omnia," instead of the reading now generally received, "qui præstant nomina."

[15:2] Gerard thought that Ovid's Anemone was the Venice Mallow—Hibiscus trionum—a handsome annual from the South of Europe.

[16:1] In the "Nineteenth Century" for October, 1877, is an interesting article by Mr. Gladstone on the "colour-sense" in Homer, proving that Homer, and all nations in the earlier stages of their existence, have a very limited perception of colour, and a very limited and loosely applied nomenclature of colours. The same remark would certainly apply to the early English writers, not excluding Shakespeare.

[17:1] Mr. Leo Grindon also identifies the classical Anemone with the Cistus. See a good account of it in "Gardener's Chronicle," June 3, 1876.

[17:2] The small yellow A. ranunculoides has been sometimes included among the British Anemones, but is now excluded. It is a rare plant, and an alien.


(1) Sebastian. I think he will carry this island home and give it his son for an Apple.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 1 (91).
(2) Malvolio. Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy; as a Squash is before 'tis a Peascod, or a Codling when 'tis almost an Apple.
Twelfth Night, act i, sc. 5 (165).
(3) Antonio. An Apple, cleft in two, is not more twin
Than these two creatures.
Ibid., act 5, sc. 1 (230).
(4) Antonio. An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly Apple rotten at the heart.
Merchant of Venice, act i, sc. 3 (100).
(5) Tranio. He in countenance somewhat doth resemble you.
  Biondello. As much as an Apple doth an oyster, and all one.
Taming of the Shrew, act iv, sc. 2 (100).
[18](6) Orleans. Foolish curs, that run winking into the mouth of a Russian bear, and have their heads crushed like rotten Apples.
Henry V, act iii, sc. 7 (153).
(7) Hortensio. Faith, as you say, there's small choice in rotten Apples.
Taming of the Shrew, act i, sc. 1 (138).
(8) Porter. These are the youths that thunder at a playhouse, and fight for bitten Apples.
Henry VIII, act v, sc. 4 (63).
(9) Song of Winter. When roasted Crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (935).
(10) Puck. And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl
In very likeness of a roasted Crab;
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (47).
(11) Fool. Shal't see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though she's as like this as a Crab's like an Apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
  Lear. Why, what can'st thou tell, my boy?
  Fool. She will taste as like this as a Crab does to a Crab.
King Lear, act i, sc. 5 (14).
(12) Caliban. I prithee, let me bring thee where Crabs grow.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 2 (171).
(13) Petruchio. Nay, come, Kate, come, you must not look so sour.
  Katherine. It is my fashion, when I see a Crab.
  Petruchio. Why, here's no Crab, and therefore look not sour.
Taming of the Shrew, act ii, sc. 1 (229).
(14) Menonius. We have some old Crab-trees here at home that will not
Be grafted to your relish.
Coriolanus, act ii, sc. 1 (205).
(15) Suffolk. Noble stock
Was graft with Crab-tree slip.
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (213).
(16) Porter. Fetch me a dozen Crab-tree staves, and strong ones.
Henry VIII, act v, sc. 4 (7).
[19](17) Falstaff. My skin hangs about me like an old lady's loose gown; I am withered like an old Apple-john.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 3 (3).
(18) 1st Drawer. What the devil hast thou brought there? Apple-johns? Thou knowest Sir John cannot endure an Apple-john.
  2nd Drawer. Mass! thou sayest true; the prince once set a dish of Apple-johns before him, and told him there were five more Sir Johns; and putting off his hat, said, I will now take my leave of these six dry, round, old, withered knights.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (1).
(19) Shallow. Nay, you shall see my orchard, where, in an arbour, we will eat a last year's Pippin of my own graffing, with a dish of Caraways, and so forth.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Davey. There's a dish of Leather-coats for you.
Ibid., act v, sc. 3 (1, 44).
(20) Evans. I pray you be gone; I will make an end of my dinner. There's Pippins and cheese to come.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act i, sc. 2 (11).
(21) Holofernes. The deer was, as you know, sanguis, in blood; ripe as the Pomewater, who now hangeth like a jewel in the ear of cœlo—the sky, the welkin, the heaven; and anon falleth like a Crab on the face of terra—the soil, the land, the earth.
Love's Labour's Lost, act iv, sc. 2 (3).
(22) Mercutio. Thy wit is a very Bitter Sweeting; it is a most sharp sauce.
  Romeo. And is it not well served in to a sweet goose?
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 4 (83).
(23) Petruchio. What's this? A sleeve? 'Tis like a demi-cannon.
What! up and down, carved like an Apple-tart?
Taming of the Shrew, act iv, sc. 3 (88).
(24)   How like Eve's Apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!
Sonnet xciii.

Here Shakespeare names the Apple, the Crab, the Pippin, the Pomewater, the Apple-john, the Codling, the Caraway, the Leathercoat, and the Bitter-Sweeting. Of the Apple generally I need say nothing, except to notice that the name [20]was not originally confined to the fruit now so called, but was a generic name applied to any fruit, as we still speak of the Love-apple, the Pine-apple,[20:1] &c. The Anglo-Saxon name for the Blackberry was the Bramble-apple; and Sir John Mandeville, in describing the Cedars of Lebanon, says: "And upon the hills growen Trees of Cedre, that ben fulle hye, and they beren longe Apples, and als grete as a man's heved"[20:2] (cap. ix.). In the English Bible it is the same. The Apple is mentioned in a few places, but it is almost certain that it never means the Pyrus malus, but is either the Orange, Citron, or Quince, or is a general name for a tree fruit. So that when Shakespeare (24) and the other old writers speak of Eve's Apple, they do not necessarily assert that the fruit of the temptation was our Apple, but simply that it was some fruit that grew in Eden. The Apple (pomum) has left its mark in the language in the word "pomatum," which, originally an ointment made of Apples, is now an ointment in which Apples have no part.

The Crab was held in far more esteem in the sixteenth century than it is with us. The roasted fruit served with hot ale (9 and 10) was a favourite Christmas dish, and even without ale the roasted Crab was a favourite, and this not for want of better fruit, for Gerard tells us that in his time "the stocke or kindred of Apples was infinite," but because they were considered pleasant food.[20:3] Another curious use of Crabs is told in the description of Crab-wake, or "Crabbing the Parson," at Halesowen, Salop, on St. Kenelm's Day (July 17), in Brand's "Popular Antiquities" (vol. i. p. 342, Bohn's edition). Nor may we now despise the Crab tree, though we do not eat its fruit. Among our native trees there is none more beautiful than the Crab tree, both in flower and in fruit. An old Crab tree in full flower is a sight that will delight any artist, nor is it altogether useless; its wood is very hard and very lasting, and from its fruit [21]verjuice is made, not, however, much in England, as I believe nearly all the verjuice now used is made in France.

The Pippin, from being originally a general name for any Apple raised from pips and not from grafts, is now, and probably was in Shakespeare's time, confined to the bright-coloured, long-keeping Apples (Justice Shallow's was "last year's Pippin"), of which the Golden Pippin ("the Pippin burnished o'er with gold," Phillips) is the type.

The Bitter-Sweeting (22) was an old and apparently a favourite Apple. It is frequently mentioned in the old writers, as by Gower, "Conf. Aman." viii. 174—

"For all such time of love is lore,
And like unto the Bitter-swete,[21:1]
For though it think a man fyrst swete
He shall well felen at laste
That it is sower."

By Chaucer—

"Yet of that art they conne nought wexe sadde,
For unto hem it is a Bitter Swete."

Prologue of the Chanoune's Yeman.

And by Ben Jonson—

That love's a Bitter-sweet I ne'er conceive
Till the sour minute comes of taking leave,
And then I taste it."[21:2]


Parkinson names it in his list of Apples, but soon dismisses it—"Twenty sorts of Sweetings, and none good." The name is now given to an Apple of no great value as a table fruit, but good as a cider apple, and for use in silk dyeing.

It is not easy to identify the Pomewater (21). It was highly esteemed both by Shakespeare ("it hangeth like a jewel in the ear of cœlo") and many other writers. In Gerard's figure it looks like a Codling, and its Latin name is Malus carbonaria, which probably refers to its good qualities as a roasting Apple. The name Pomewater (or Water Apple) makes us expect a juicy but not a rich Apple, and with this agrees Parkinson's description: "The [22]Pomewater is an excellent, good, and great whitish Apple, full of sap or moisture, somewhat pleasant sharp, but a little bitter withall; it will not last long, the winter frosts soon causing it to rot and perish." It must have been very like the modern Lord Suffield Apple, and though Parkinson says it will not last long, yet it is mentioned as lasting till the New Year in a tract entitled "Vox Graculi," 1623. Speaking of New Year's Day, the author says: "This day shall be given many more gifts than shall be asked for; and apples, egges, and oranges shall be lifted to a lofty rate; when a Pomewater bestuck with a few rotten cloves shall be worth more than the honesty of a hypocrite" (quoted by Brand, vol. i. 17, Bohn's edition).

We have no such difficulty with the "dish of Apple-johns" (17 and 18). Hakluyt recommends "the Apple John that dureth two years to make show of our fruit" to be carried by voyagers.[22:1] "The Deusan (deux ans) or Apple-john," says Parkinson, "is a delicate fine fruit, well rellished when it beginneth to be fit to be eaten, and endureth good longer than any other Apple." With this description there is no difficulty in identifying the Apple-john with an Apple that goes under many names, and is figured by Maund as the Easter Pippin. When first picked it is of a deep green colour, and very hard. In this state it remains all the winter, and in April or May it becomes yellow and highly perfumed, and remains good either for cooking or dessert for many months.

The Codling (2) is not the Apple now so called, but is the general name of a young unripe Apple.

The "Leathercoats" (19) are the Brown Russets; and though the "dish of Caraways" in the same passage may refer to the Caraway or Caraway-russet Apple, an excellent little apple, that seems to be a variety of the Nonpareil, and has long been cultivated in England, yet it is almost certain that it means a dish of Caraway Seeds. (See Carraways.)


[20:1] See Pine, p. 208.

[20:2] "A peche appulle." "The appulys of a peche tre."—Porkington MSS. in Early English Miscellany. (Published by Warton Club.)

[20:3] "As for Wildings and Crabs . . . their tast is well enough liked, and they carrie with them a quicke and a sharp smell; howbeit this gift they have for their harsh sournesse, that they have many a foule word and shrewd curse given them."—Philemon Holland's Pliny, book xv. c. 14.

[21:1] "Amor et melle et felle est fecundissimus."—Plautus.

[21:2] Juliet describes leave-taking in almost the same words—"Parting is such sweet sorrow."

[22:1] "Voyages," 1580, p. 466.



(1) Titania. Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;
Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with Apricocks and Dewberries,
With purple Grapes, green Figs, and Mulberries.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (167).
(2) Gardener. Go, bind thou up yon dangling Apricocks, Which, like unruly children, make their sire Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight.
Richard II, act iii, sc. 4 (29).
(3) Palamon. Would I were,
For all the fortunes of my life hereafter,
Yon little tree, yon blooming Apricocke;
How I would spread and fling my wanton armes
In at her window! I would bring her fruit
Fit for the gods to feed on.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act ii, sc. 2 (291).

Shakespeare's spelling of the word "Apricocks" takes us at once to its derivation. It is derived undoubtedly from the Latin præcox or præcoquus, under which name it is referred to by Pliny and Martial; but, before it became the English Apricot it was much changed by Italians, Spaniards, French, and Arabians. The history of the name is very curious and interesting, but too long to give fully here; a very good account of it may be found in Miller and in "Notes and Queries," vol. ii. p. 420 (1850). It will be sufficient to say here that it acquired its name of "the precocious tree," because it flowered and fruited earlier than the Peach, as explained in Lyte's "Herbal," 1578: "There be two kinds of Peaches, whereof the one kinde is late ripe, . . . the other kinds are soner ripe, wherefore they be called Abrecox or Aprecox." Of its introduction into England we have no very certain account. It was certainly grown in England before Turner's time (1548), though he says, "We have very few of these trees as yet;"[23:1] but the only account of its introduction is by Hakluyt, who states that it was brought from Italy by one Wolf, gardener to King Henry the Eighth. If that be its true history, Shakespeare was in [24]error in putting it into the garden of the queen of Richard the Second, nearly a hundred years before its introduction.[24:1]

In Shakespeare's time the Apricot seems to have been grown as a standard; I gather this from the description in Nos. 2 (see the entire passage s.v. "Pruning" in Part II.) and 3, and from the following in Browne's "Britannia's Pastorals"—

"Or if from where he is[24:2] he do espy
Some Apricot upon a bough thereby
Which overhangs the tree on which he stands,
Climbs up, and strives to take them with his hands."

Book ii. Song 4.


[23:1] "Names of Herbes," s.v. Malus Armeniaca.

[24:1] The Apricot has usually been supposed to have come from Armenia, but there is now little doubt that its original country is the Himalaya (M. Lavaillee).

[24:2] On a Cherry tree in an orchard.


  Aufidius. Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, where against
My grained Ash an hundred times hath broke,
And starr'd the moon with splinters.
Coriolanus, act iv, sc. 5 (112).

Warwickshire is more celebrated for its Oaks and Elms than for its Ash trees. Yet considering how common a tree the Ash is, and in what high estimation it was held by our ancestors, it is strange that it is only mentioned in this one passage. Spenser spoke of it as "the Ash for nothing ill;" it was "the husbandman's tree," from which he got the wood for his agricultural implements; and there was connected with it a great amount of mystic folk-lore, which was carried to its extreme limit in the Yggdrasil, or legendary Ash of Scandinavia, which was almost looked upon as the parent of Creation: a full account of this may be found in Mallet's "Northern Antiquities" and other works on Scandinavia. It is an English native tree,[24:3] and it adds much to [25]the beauty of any English landscape in which it is allowed to grow. It gives its name to many places, especially in the South, as Ashdown, Ashstead, Ashford, &c.; but to see it in its full beauty it must be seen in our northern counties, though the finest in England is said to be at Woburn.

"The Oak, the Ash, and the Ivy tree,
O, they flourished best at hame, in the north countrie."

Old Ballad.

In the dales of Yorkshire it is especially beautiful, and any one who sees the fine old trees in Wharfdale and Wensleydale will confess that, though it may not have the rich luxuriance of the Oaks and Elms of the southern and midland counties, yet it has a grace and beauty that are all its own, so that we scarcely wonder that Gilpin called it "the Venus of the woods."


[24:3] It is called in the "Promptorium Parvulorum" "Esche," and the seed vessels "Esche key."


(1) Marcus. O, had the monster seen those lily hands
Tremble, like Aspen leaves, upon a lute.
Titus Andronicus, act 2, sc. 4 (44).
(2) Hostess. Feel, masters, how I shake. . . . . Yea, in very truth do I an 'twere an Aspen leaf.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (114).

The Aspen or Aspe[25:1] (Populus tremula) is one of our three native Poplars, and has ever been the emblem of enforced restlessness, on account of which it had in Anglo-Saxon times the expressive name of quick-beam. How this perpetual motion in the "light quivering Aspen" is produced has not been quite satisfactorily explained; and the mediæval legend that it supplied the wood of the Cross, and has never since ceased to tremble, is still told as a sufficient reason both in Scotland and England.

"Oh! a cause more deep,
More solemn far the rustic doth assign,
To the strange restlessness of those wan leaves;
[26] The cross, he deems, the blessed cross, whereon
The meek Redeemer bowed His head to death,
Was formed of Aspen wood; and since that hour
Through all its race the pale tree hath sent down
A thrilling consciousness, a secret awe,
Making them tremulous, when not a breeze
Disturbs the airy thistle-down, or shakes
The light lines of the shining gossamer."

Mrs. Hemans.

The Aspen has an interesting botanical history, as being undoubtedly, like the Scotch fir, one of the primæval trees of Europe; while its grey bark and leaves and its pleasant rustling sound make the tree acceptable in our hedgerows, but otherwise it is not a tree of much use. In Spenser's time it was considered "good for staves;" and before his time the tree must have been more valued than it is now, for in the reign of Henry V. an Act of Parliament was passed (4 Henry V. c. 3) to prevent the consumption of Aspe, otherwise than for the making of arrows, with a penalty of an Hundred Shillings if used for making pattens or clogs. This Act remained in force till the reign of James I., when it was repealed. In our own time the wood is valued for internal panelling of rooms, and is used in the manufacture of gunpowder.

By the older writers the Aspen was the favourite simile for female loquacity. The rude libel is given at full length in "The Schoole-house of Women" (511-545), concluding thus—

"The Aspin lefe hanging where it be,
With little winde or none it shaketh;
A woman's tung in like wise taketh
Little ease and little rest;
For if it should the hart would brest."

Hazlitt's Popular English Poetry, vol. iv, p. 126.

And to the same effect Gerard concludes his account of the tree thus: "In English Aspe and Aspen tree, and may also be called Tremble, after the French name, considering it is the matter whereof women's tongues were made (as the poets and some others report), which seldom cease wagging."


[25:1] "Espe" in "Promptorium Parvulorum." "Aspen" is the case-ending of "Aspe."



  Hostess. What say you to young Master Fenton? he capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April and May; he will carry't, he will carry't; 'tis in his Buttons; he will carry't.
Merry Wives, act iii, sc. 2 (67).

"Though the Bachelor's Button is not exactly named by Shakespeare, it is believed to be alluded to in this passage; and the supposed allusion is to a rustic divination by means of the flowers, carried in the pocket by men and under the apron by women, as it was supposed to retain or lose its freshness according to the good or bad success of the bearer's amatory prospects."[27:1]

The true Bachelor's Button of the present day is the double Ranunculus acris, but the name is applied very loosely to almost any small double globular flowers. In Shakespeare's time it was probably applied still more loosely to any flowers in bud (according to the derivation from the French bouton). Button is frequently so applied by the old writers—

"The more desire had I to goo
Unto the roser where that grewe
The freshe Bothum so bright of hewe.
*       *       *       *       *
But o thing lyked me right welle;
I was so nygh, I myght fele
Of the Bothom the swote odour
And also see the fresshe colour;
And that right gretly liked me."

Romaunt of the Rose.

And by Shakespeare—

The canker galls the infants of the Spring
Too oft before their Buttons be disclosed.

Hamlet, act i, sc. 3 (54).


[27:1] Mr. J. Fitchett Marsh, of Hardwicke House, Chepstow, in "The Garden." I have to thank Mr. Marsh for much information kindly given both in "The Garden" and by letter.



(1) K. Richard. Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the Balm from an anointed king.
Richard II, act iii, sc. 2 (54).
(2) K. Richard. With mine own tears I wash away my Balm.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (207).
(3) K. Henry. 'Tis not the Balm, the sceptre, and the ball.
Henry V, act iv, sc. 1 (277).
(4) K. Henry. Thy place is fill'd, thy sceptre wrung from thee,
Thy Balm wash'd off, wherewith thou wast anointed.
3rd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 1 (16).
(5) K. Henry. My pity hath been Balm to heal their wounds.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 8 (41).
(6) Lady Anne. I pour the helpless Balm of my poor eyes.
Richard III, act i, sc. 2 (13).
(7) Troilus. But, saying thus, instead of oil and Balm,
Thou lay'st in every gash that love hath given me
The knife that made it.
Troilus and Cressida, act i, sc. 1 (61).
(8) 1st Senator. We sent to thee, to give thy rages Balm.
Timon of Athens, act v, sc. 4 (16).
(9) France. Balm of your age,
Most best, most dearest.
King Lear, act i, sc. 1 (218).
(10) K. Henry. Let all the tears that should bedew my hearse
Be drops of Balm to sanctify thy head.
2nd Henry IV, act iv, sc. 5 (114).
(11) Mowbray. I am disgraced, impeach'd, and baffled here:
Pierced to the soul with slander's venom'd spear;
The which no Balm can cure, but his heart-blood
Which breathed this poison.
Richard II, act i, sc. 1 (170).
(12) Dromio of Syracuse. Our fraughtage, Sir,
I have conveyed aboard, and I have bought
The oil, the Balsamum, and aqua vitæ.
Comedy of Errors, act iv, sc. 1 (187).
(13) Alcibiades. Is this the Balsam that the usuring Senate
Pours into captains' wounds?
Timon of Athens, act iii, sc. 5 (110).
[29](14) Macbeth. Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great Nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
Macbeth, act ii, sc. 2 (37).
(15) Quickly. The several chairs of order look you scour
With juice of Balm and every precious flower.
Merry Wives, act v, sc. 5 (65).
(16) Cleopatra. As sweet as Balm, as soft as air, as gentle.
Antony and Cleopatra, act v, sc. 2 (314).
(17)   And trembling in her passion, calls it Balm,
Earth's sovereign salve to do a goddess good.
Venus and Adonis (27).
(18)   And drop sweet Balm in Priam's painted wound.
Lucrece (1466).
(19)   With the drops of this most balmy time
My love looks fresh.
Sonnet cvii.

In all these passages, except the two last, the reference is to the Balm or Balsam which was imported from the East, from very early times, and was highly valued for its curative properties. The origin of Balsam was for a long time a secret, but it is now known to have been the produce of several gum-bearing trees, especially the Pistacia lentiscus and the Balsamodendron Gileadense; and now, as then, the name is not strictly confined to the produce of any one plant. But in Nos. 15 and 16 the reference is no doubt to the Sweet Balm of the English gardens (Melissa officinalis), a plant highly prized by our ancestors for its medicinal qualities (now known to be of little value), and still valued for its pleasant scent and its high value as a bee plant, which is shown by its old Greek and Latin names, Melissa, Mellissophyllum, and Apiastrum. The Bastard Balm (Melittis melissophyllum) is a handsome native plant, found sparingly in Devonshire, Hampshire, and a few other places, and is well worth growing wherever it can be induced to grow; but it is a very capricious plant, and is apparently not fond of garden cultivation. "Très jolie plante, mais d'une culture difficile" (Vilmorin). It probably would thrive best in the shade, as it is found in copses.



(1) Iris. Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Vetches, Oats, and Pease.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (60).
(2) Constable. Can sodden water,
A drench for surrein'd jades, their Barley broth,
Decoct their cold blood to such valiant heat?
Henry V, act iii, sc. 5 (18).[30:1]

These two passages require little note. The Barley (Hordeum vulgare) of Shakespeare's time and our own is the same. We may note, however, that the Barley broth (2) of which the French Constable spoke so contemptuously as the food of English soldiers was probably beer, which long before the time of Henry V. was so celebrated that it gave its name to the plant (Barley being simply the Beer-plant), and in Shakespeare's time, "though strangers never heard of such a word or such a thing, by reason it is not everyewhere made," yet "our London Beere-Brewers would scorne to learne to make beere of either French or Dutch" (Gerard).


[30:1] "Vires ordea prestant."—Modus Cenandi, 176. ("Babee's Book.")


  Caliban. We shall lose our time
And all be turn'd to Barnacles.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (248).

It may seem absurd to include Barnacles among plants; but in the time of Shakespeare the Barnacle tree was firmly believed in, and Gerard gives a plate of "the Goose tree, Barnacle tree, or the tree bearing Geese," and says that he declares "what our eies have seene, and our hands have touched."

A full account of the fable will be found in Harting's "Ornithology of Shakespeare," p. 247, and an excellent account in Lee's "Sea Fables Explained" (Fisheries Exhibition handbooks), p. 98. But neither of these writers have quoted [31]the testimony of Sir John Mandeville, which is, however, well worth notice. When he was told in "Caldilhe" of a tree that bore "a lytylle Best in Flessche in Bon and Blode as though it were a lytylle Lomb, withouten Wolle," he did not refuse to believe them, for he says, "I tolde hem of als gret a marveylle to hem that is amonges us; and that was of the Bernakes. For I tolde hem, that in our Contree weren Trees, that beren a Fruyt, that becomen Briddes fleeynge; and tho that fallen in the Water lyven, and thei that fallen on the Erthe dyen anon; and thei ben right gode to mannes mete. And here of had thei als gret marvaylle that sume of hem trowed, it were an impossible thing to be" ("Voiage and Travaille," c. xxvi.).


(1) Captain. 'Tis thought the King is dead; we will not stay.
The Bay-trees in our country are all wither'd.
Richard II, act ii, sc. 4 (7).
(2) Bawd. Marry come up, my dish of chastity with Rosemary and Bays!
Pericles, act iv, sc. 6 (159).
(3)   The Vision—Enter, solemnly tripping one after another, six personages, clad in white robes, wearing on their heads garlands of Bays, and golden vizards on their faces, branches of Bays or Palms in their hands.
Henry VIII, act iv, sc. 2

It is not easy to determine what tree is meant in these passages. In the first there is little doubt that Shakespeare copied from some Italian source the superstition that the Bay trees in a country withered and died when any great calamity was approaching. We have no proof that such an idea ever prevailed in England. In the second passage reference is made to the decking of the chief dish at high feasts with garlands of flowers and evergreens. But the Bay tree had been too recently introduced from the South of Europe in Shakespeare's time to be so used to any great extent, though the tree was known long before, for it is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Vocabularies by the name of [32]Beay-beam, that is, the Coronet tree;[32:1] but whether the Beay-beam meant our Bay tree is very uncertain. We are not much helped in the inquiry by the notice of the "flourishing green Bay tree" in the Psalms, for it seems very certain that the Bay tree there mentioned is either the Oleander or the Cedar, certainly not the Laurus nobilis.

The true Bay is probably mentioned by Spenser in the following lines—

"The Bay, quoth she, is of the victours born,
Yielded them by the vanquisht as theyr meeds,
And they therewith doe Poetes heads adorne
To sing the glory of their famous deeds."

Amoretti—Sonnet xxix.

And in the following passage (written in the lifetime of Shakespeare) the Laurel and the Bay are both named as the same tree—

"And when from Daphne's tree he plucks more Baies
His shepherd's pipe may chant more heavenly lays."

Christopher BrookeIntrod. verses to Browne's Pastorals.

In the present day no garden of shrubs can be considered complete without the Bay tree, both the common one and especially the Californian Bay (Oreodaphne Californica), which, with its bright green lanceolate foliage and powerful aromatic scent (to some too pungent), deserves a place everywhere, and it is not so liable to be cut by the spring winds as the European Bay.[32:2] Parkinson's high praise of the Bay tree (forty years after Shakespeare's death) is too long for insertion, but two short sentences may be quoted: "The Bay leaves are of as necessary use as any other in the garden or orchard, for they serve both for pleasure and profit, both for ornament and for use, both for honest civil [33]uses and for physic, yea, both for the sick and for the sound, both for the living and for the dead; . . . so that from the cradle to the grave we have still use of it, we have still need of it."

The Bay tree gives us a curious instance of the capriciousness of English plant names. Though a true Laurel it does not bear the name, which yet is given to two trees, the common (and Portugal) Laurel, and the Laurestinus, neither of which are Laurels—the one being a Cherry or Plum (Prunus or Cerasus), the other a Guelder Rose (Viburnum).[33:1]


[32:1] "The Anglo-Saxon Beay was not a ring only, or an armlet: it was also a coronet or diadem. . . . The Bays, then, of our Poets and the Bay tree were in reality the Coronet and the Coronet tree."—Cockayne, Spoon and Sparrow, p. 21.

[32:2] The Californian Bay has not been established in England long enough to form a timber tree, but in America it is highly prized as one of the very best trees for cabinet work, especially for the ornamental parts of pianos.

[33:1] For an interesting account of the Bay and the Laurels, giving the history of the names, &c., see two papers by Mr. H. Evershed in "Gardener's Chronicle," September, 1876.


(1) Puck. When I a fat and Bean-fed horse beguile.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (45).
(2) Carrier. Peas and Beans are as dank here as a dog; and that is the next way to give poor jades the bots.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 1 (9).

The Bean (Faba vulgaris), though an Eastern plant, was very early introduced into England as an article of food both for men and horses. As an article of human food opinions were divided, as now. By some it was highly esteemed—

"Corpus alit Faba; stringit cum cortice ventrem,
Desiccat fleuma, stomacum lumenque relidit"—

is the description of the Bean in the "Modus Cenandi," l. 182 ("Babee's Book," ii, 48). While H. Vaughan describes it as—

"The Bean
By curious pallats never sought;"

and it was very generally used as a proverb of contempt—


"None other lif, sayd he, is worth a Bene."[34:1]
"But natheles I reche not a Bene."[34:2]

It is not apparently a romantic plant, and yet there is no plant round which so much curious folk lore has gathered. This may be seen at full length in Phillips' "History of Cultivated Vegetables." It will be enough here to say that the Bean was considered as a sacred plant both by the Greeks and Romans, while by the Egyptian priests it was considered too unclean to be even looked upon; that it was used both for its convenient shape and for its sacred associations in all elections by ballot; that this custom lasted in England and in most Europeans countries to a very recent date in the election of the kings and queens at Twelfth Night and other feasts; and that it was of great repute in all popular divinations and love charms. I find in Miller another use of Beans, which we are thankful to note among the obsolete uses: "They are bought up in great quantities at Bristol for Guinea ships, as food for the negroes on their passage from Africa to the West Indies."

As an ornamental garden plant the Bean has never received the attention it seems to deserve. A plant of Broad Beans grown singly is quite a stately plant, and the rich scent is an additional attraction to many, though to many others it is too strong, and it has a bad character—"Sleep in a Bean-field all night if you want to have awful dreams or go crazy," is a Leicestershire proverb:[34:3] and the Scarlet Runner (which is also a Bean) is one of the most beautiful climbers we have. In England we seldom grow it for ornament, but in France I have seen it used with excellent effect to cover a trellis-screen, mixed with the large blue Convolvulus major.


[34:1] Chaucer, "The Marchandes Tale," 19.

[34:2] Ibid., "The Man of Lawes Tale," prologue.

[34:3] Copied from the mediæval proverb: "Cum faba florescit, stultorum copia crescit."



  Pistol. Where fires thou find'st unraked and hearths unswept,
There pinch the maids as blue as Bilberry—
Our radiant Queen hates sluts and sluttery.
Merry Wives, act v, sc. 5 (48).

The Bilberry is a common British shrub found on all mossy heaths, and very pretty both in flower and in fruit. Its older English name was Heathberry, and its botanical name is Vaccinium myrtillus. We have in Britain four species of Vaccinium: the Whortleberry or Bilberry (V. myrtillus), the Large Bilberry (V. uliginosum), the Crowberry (V. vitis idæa), and the Cranberry (V. oxycoccos). These British species, as well as the North American species (of which there are several), are all beautiful little shrubs in cultivation, but they are very difficult to grow; they require a heathy soil, moisture, and partial shade.


  Duke. Fond fathers,
Having bound up the threatening twigs of Birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight
For terror, not to use, in time the rod
Becomes more mock'd than fear'd.
Measure for Measure, act i, sc. 3 (23).

Shakespeare only mentions this one unpleasant use of the Birch tree, the manufacture of Birch rods; and for such it seems to have been chiefly valued in his day. "I have not red of any vertue it hath in physick," says Turner; "howbeit, it serveth for many good uses, and for none better than for betynge of stubborn boys, that either lye or will not learn." Yet the Birch is not without interest. The word "Birch" is the same as "bark," meaning first the rind of a tree and then a barque or boat (from which we also get our word "barge"), and so the very name carries us to those early times when the Birch was considered one [36]of the most useful of trees, as it still is in most northern countries, where it grows at a higher degree of latitude than any other tree. Its bark was especially useful, being useful for cordage, and matting, and roofing, while the tree itself formed the early British canoes, as it still forms the canoes of the North American Indians, for which it is well suited, from its lightness and ease in working.

In Northern Europe it is the most universal and the most useful of trees. It is "the superlative tree in respect of the ground it covers, and in the variety of purposes to which it is converted in Lapland, where the natives sit in birchen huts on birchen chairs, wearing birchen boots and breeches, with caps and capes of the same material, warming themselves by fires of birchwood charcoal, reading books bound in birch, and eating herrings from a birchen platter, pickled in a birchen cask. Their baskets, boats, harness, and utensils are all of Birch; in short, from cradle to coffin, the Birch forms the peculiar environment of the Laplander."[36:1] In England we still admire its graceful beauty, whether it grows in our woods or our gardens, and we welcome its pleasant odour on our Russia leather bound books; but we have ceased to make beer from its young shoots,[36:2] and we hold it in almost as low repute (from the utilitarian point of view) as Turner and Shakespeare seem to have held it.


[36:1] "Gardener's Chronicle."

[36:2] "Although beer is now seldom made from birchen twigs, yet it is by no means an uncommon practice in some country districts to tap the white trunks of Birches, and collect the sweet sap which exudes from them for wine-making purposes. In some parts of Leicestershire this sap is collected in large quantities every spring, and birch wine, when well made, is a wholesome and by no means an unpleasant beverage."—B. in The Garden, April, 1877. "The Finlanders substitute the leaves of Birch for those of the tea-plant; the Swedes extract a syrup from the sap, from which they make a spirituous liquor. In London they make champagne of it. The most virtuous uses to which it is applied are brooms and wooden shoes."—A Tour Round My Garden, Letter xix.

BITTER-SWEET, see Apple (22).



(1) Falstaff. Give you a reason on compulsion!—if reasons were as plentiful as Blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.[37:1]
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (263).
(2) Falstaff. Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher and eat Blackberries?
Ibid. (450).
(3) Thersites. That same dog-fox Ulysses is not proved worth a Blackberry.
Troilus and Cressida, act v, sc. 4 (12).
(4) Rosalind. There is a man . . . . hangs odes upon Hawthorns and elegies on Brambles.
As You Like it, act iii, sc. 2 (379).
(5)   The thorny Brambles and embracing bushes,
As fearful of him, part, through whom he rushes.
Venus and Adonis (629).

I here join together the tree and the fruit, the Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) and the Blackberry. There is not much to be said for a plant that is the proverbial type of a barren country or untidy cultivation, yet the Bramble and the Blackberry have their charms, and we could ill afford to lose them from our hedgerows. The name Bramble originally meant anything thorny, and Chaucer applied it to the Dog Rose—

"He was chaste and no lechour,
And sweet as is the Bramble flower
That bereth the red hepe."

But in Shakespeare's time it was evidently confined to the Blackberry-bearing Bramble.

There is a quaint legend of the origin of the plant which is worth repeating. It is thus pleasantly told by Waterton: "The cormorant was once a wool merchant. He entered into partnership with the Bramble and the bat, and they freighted a large ship with wool; she was wrecked, and the firm became bankrupt. Since that disaster the bat skulks about till midnight to avoid his creditors, the cormorant is for ever diving into the deep to discover its foundered [38]vessel, while the Bramble seizes hold of every passing sheep to make up his loss by stealing the wool."

As a garden plant, the common Bramble had better be kept out of the garden, but there are double pink and white-blossomed varieties, and others with variegated leaves, that are handsome plants on rough rockwork. The little Rubus saxatilis is a small British Bramble that is pretty on rockwork, and among the foreign Brambles there are some that should on no account be omitted where ornamental shrubs are grown. Such are the R. leucodermis from Nepaul, with its bright silvery bark and amber-coloured fruit; R. Nootkanus, with very handsome foliage, and pure white rose-like flowers; R. Arcticus, an excellent rockwork plant from Northern Europe, with very pleasant fruit, but difficult to establish; R. Australis (from New Zealand), a most quaint plant, with leaves so depauperated that it is apparently leafless, and hardy in the South of England; and R. deliciosus, a very handsome plant from the Rocky Mountains. There are several others well worth growing, but I mention these few to show that the Bramble is not altogether such a villainous and useless weed as it is proverbially supposed to be.


[37:1] See Raisins, p. 238.


  Maria. Get ye all three into the Box tree.
Twelfth Night, act ii, sc. 5 (18).

The Box is a native British tree, and in the sixteenth century was probably much more abundant as a wild tree than it is now. Chaucer notes it as a dismal tree. He describes Palamon in his misery as—

"Like was he to byholde,
The Boxe tree or the Asschen deed and colde."

The Knightes Tale.

Spenser noted it as "The Box yet mindful of his olde offence," and in Shakespeare's time there were probably more woods of Box in England than the two which still remain [39]at Box Hill, in Surrey, and Boxwell, in Gloucestershire. The name remains, though the trees are gone, in Box in Wilts, Boxgrove, Boxley, Boxmoor, Boxted, and Boxworth.[39:1] From its wild quarters the Box tree was very early brought into gardens, and was especially valued, not only for its rich evergreen colour, but because, with the Yew, it could be cut and tortured into all the ungainly shapes which so delighted our ancestors in Shakespeare's time, though one of the most illustrious of them, Lord Bacon, entered his protest against such barbarisms: "I, for my part, do not like images cut out in Juniper or other garden stuff; they be for children" ("Essay of Gardens").

The chief use of the Box now is for blocks for wood-carving, for which its close grain makes it the most suitable of all woods.[39:2]


[39:1] In Boxford, and perhaps in some of the other names, the word has no connection with the tree, but marks the presence of water or a stream.

[39:2] In some parts of Europe almost a sacred character is given to the Box. For a curious record of blessing the Box, and of a sermon on the lessons taught by the Box, see "Gardener's Chronicle," April 19, 1873.

BRAMBLE, see Blackberries.


(1) Ariel. So I charm'd their ears,
That calf-like they my lowing follow'd through
Tooth'd Briers, sharp Furzes, pricking Goss, and Thorns.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (178).
(2) Fairy. Over hill, over dale,
Thorough Bush, thorough Brier.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (2).
(3) Thisbe. Of colour like the red Rose on triumphant Brier.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 1 (90).
[40](4) Puck. I'll lead you about a round,
Through bog, through bush, through Brake, through Brier.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (10).
(5) Puck. For Briers and Thorns at their apparel snatch.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 2 (29).
(6) Hermia. Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew and torn with Briers.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 2 (443).
(7) Oberon. Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from Brier.
Ibid., act v, sc. 1 (400).
(8) Adriana. If aught possess thee from me, it is dross,
Usurping Ivy, Brier, or idle Moss.
Comedy of Errors, act ii, sc. 2 (179).
(9) Plantagenet. From off this Brier pluck a white Rose with me.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (30).
(10) Rosalind. O! how full of Briers is this working-day world!
As You Like It, act i, sc. 3 (12).
(11) Helena. The time will bring on summer,
When Briers shall have leaves as well as Thorns,
And be as sweet as sharp.
All's Well, act iv, sc. 4 (32).
(12) Polyxenes. I'll have thy beauty scratched with Briers.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (436).
(13) Timon. The Oaks bear mast, the Briers scarlet hips.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (422).
(14) Coriolanus. Scratches with Briers,
Scars to move laughter only.
Coriolanus, act iii, sc. 3 (51).
(15) Quintus. What subtle hole is this,
Whose mouth is cover'd with rude-growing Briers?
Titus Andronicus, act iii, sc. 3 (198).

In Shakespeare's time the "Brier" was not restricted to the Sweet Briar, as it usually is now; but it meant any sort of wild Rose, and even it would seem from No. 9 that it was applied to the cultivated Rose, for there the scene is laid in the Temple Gardens. In some of the passages it probably does not allude to any Rose, but simply to any [41]wild thorny plant. That this was its common use then, we know from many examples. In "Le Morte Arthur," the Earl of Ascolot's daughter is described—

"Hyr Rode was rede as blossom or Brere
Or floure that springith in the felde" (179).

And in "A Pleasant New Court Song," in the Roxburghe Ballads—

"I stept me close aside
Under a Hawthorn Bryer."

It bears the same meaning in our Bibles, where "Thorns," "Brambles," and "Briers," stand for any thorny and useless plant, the soil of Palestine being especially productive of thorny plants of many kinds. Wickliffe's translation of Matthew vii. 16, is—"Whether men gaderen grapis of thornes; or figis of Breris?" and Tyndale's translation is much the same—"Do men gaddre grapes of thornes, or figges of Bryeres?"[41:1]


[41:1] "Brere—Carduus, tribulus, vepres, veprecula."—Catholicon Anglicum.


(1) Iris. And thy Broom groves,
Whose shadow the dismissed bachelor loves,
Being lass-lorn.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (66).
(2) Puck. I am sent with Broom before
To sweep the dust behind the door.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act v, sc. 1 (396).
(3) Man. I made good my place; at length they came to the Broomstaff with me.
Henry VIII, act v, sc. 4 (56).

The Broom was one of the most popular plants of the Middle Ages. Its modern Latin name is Cytisus scoparius, but under its then Latin name of Planta genista it gave its name to the Plantagenet family, either in the time of Henry II., as generally reported, or probably still earlier. As the [42]favourite badge of the family it appears on their monuments and portraits, and was embroidered on their clothes and imitated in their jewels. Nor was it only in England that the plant was held in such high favour; it was the special flower of the Scotch, and it was highly esteemed in many countries on the Continent, especially in Brittany. Yet, in spite of all this, there are only these three notices of the plant in Shakespeare, and of those three, two (2 and 3) refer to its uses when dead; and the third (1), though it speaks of it as living, yet has nothing to say of the remarkable beauties of this favourite British flower. Yet it has great beauties which cannot easily be overlooked. Its large, yellow flowers, its graceful habit of growth, and its fragrance—

"Sweet is the Broome-flowre, but yet sowre enough"—

Spenser, Sonnet xxvi.

at once arrest the attention of the most careless observer of Nature. We are almost driven to the conclusion that Shakespeare could not have had much real acquaintance with the Broom, or he would not have sent his "dismissed bachelor" to "Broom-groves."[42:1] I should very much doubt that the Broom could ever attain to the dimensions of a grove, though Steevens has a note on the passage that "near Gamlingay, in Cambridgeshire, it grows high enough to conceal the tallest cattle as they pass through it; and in places where it is cultivated still higher." Chaucer speaks of the Broom, but does not make it so much of a tree—

"Amid the Broom he basked in the sun."

And other poets have spoken of the Broom in the same way—thus Collins—

"When Dan Sol to slope his wheels began
Amid the Broom he basked him on the ground."

Castle of Indolence, canto i.

And a Russian poet speaks of the Broom as a tree—


"See there upon the Broom tree's bough
The young grey eagle flapping now."

Flora Domestica, p. 68.

As a garden plant it is perhaps seen to best advantage when mixed with other shrubs, as when grown quite by itself it often has an untidy look. There is a pure white variety which is very beautiful, but it is very liable to flower so abundantly as to flower itself to death. There are a few other sorts, but none more beautiful than the British.


[42:1] Yet Bromsgrove must be a corruption of Broom-grove, and there are other places in England named from the Broom.


  Wooer. Her careless tresses
A wreake of Bulrush rounded.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 1 (104).

See Rush, p. 262.


(1) Celia. They are but Burs, cousin, thrown upon thee in holiday foolery; if we walk not in the trodden paths our very petticoats will catch them.
  Rosalind. I could shake them off my coat; these Burs are in my heart.
As You Like It, act i, sc. 3 (13).
(2) Lucio. Nay, friar, I am a kind of Bur; I shall stick.
Measure for Measure, act iv, sc. 3 (149).
(3) Lysander. Hang oft, thou cat, thou Burr.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 2 (260).
(4) Pandarus. They are Burs, I can tell you; they'll stick where they are thrown.
Troilus and Cressida, act iii, sc. 2 (118).
(5) Burgundy. And nothing teems
But hateful Docks, rough Thistles, Kecksies, Burs.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (51).
[44](6) Cordelia. Crown'd with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds,
With Burdocks, Hemlock, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 4 (3).

The Burs are the unopened flowers of the Burdock (Arctium lappa), and their clinging quality very early obtained for them expressive names, such as amor folia, love leaves, and philantropium. This clinging quality arises from the bracts of the involucrum being long and stiff, and with hooked tips which attach themselves to every passing object. The Burdock is a very handsome plant when seen in its native habitat by the side of a brook, its broad leaves being most picturesque, but it is not a plant to introduce into a garden.[44:1] There is another tribe of plants, however, which are sufficiently ornamental to merit a place in the garden, and whose Burs are even more clinging than those of the Burdock. These are the Acænas; they are mostly natives of America and New Zealand, and some of them (especially A. sarmentosa and A. microphylla) form excellent carpet plants, but their points being furnished with double hooks, like a double-barbed arrow, they have double powers of clinging.



A Clote-leef he had under his hood
For swoot, and to keep his heed from hete."

Chaucer, Prologue of the Chanounes Yeman (25).

This Clote leaf is by many considered to be the Burdock leaf, but it was more probably the name of the Water-lily.


  Burgundy. The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
The freckled Cowslip, Burnet, and green Clover.
Henry V. act v, sc. 2 (48).

The Burnet (Poterium sanguisorba) is a native plant of no great beauty or horticultural interest, but it was valued as a good salad plant, the leaves tasting of Cucumber, and Lord Bacon (contemporary with Shakespeare) seems to have been especially fond of it. He says ("Essay of Gardens"):

[45] "Those flowers which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest, but being trodden upon and crushed, are three—that is, Burnet, Wild Thyme, and Water Mints; therefore you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread." Drayton had the same affection for it—

"The Burnet shall bear up with this,
Whose leaf I greatly fancy."

Nymphal V.

It also was, and still is, valued as a forage plant that will grow and keep fresh all the winter in dry barren pastures, thus often giving food for sheep when other food was scarce. It has occasionally been cultivated, but the result has not been very satisfactory, except on very poor land, though, according to the Woburn experiments, as reported by Sinclair, it contains a larger amount of nutritive matter in the spring than most of the Grasses. It has brown flowers, from which it is supposed to derive its name (Brunetto).[45:1]


[45:1] "Burnet colowre, Burnetum, burnetus."—Promptorium Parvulorum.


  Evans. Pauca verba, Sir John; good worts.
  Falstaff. Good worts! good Cabbage.
Merry Wives, act i, sc. 1 (123).

The history of the name is rather curious. It comes to us from the French Chou cabus, which is the French corruption of Caulis capitatus, the name by which Pliny described it.

The Cabbage of Shakespeare's time was essentially the same as ours, and from the contemporary accounts it seems that the sorts cultivated were as good and as numerous as they are now. The cultivated Cabbage is the same specifically as the wild Cabbage of our sea-shores (Brassica oleracea) improved by cultivation. Within the last few years the Cabbage has been brought from the kitchen garden [46]into the flower garden on account of the beautiful variegation of its leaves. This, however, is no novelty, for Parkinson said of the many sorts of Cabbage in his day: "There is greater diversity in the form and colour of the leaves of this plant than there is in any other that I know groweth on the ground. . . . Many of them being of no use with us for the table, but for delight to behold the wonderful variety of the works of God herein."


  Falstaff. Though the Camomile, the more it is trodden on the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted the sooner it wears.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (443).

The low-growing Camomile, the emblem of the sweetness of humility, has the lofty names of Camomile (Chamæmelum, i.e., Apple of the Earth) and Anthemis nobilis. Its fine aromatic scent and bitter flavour suggested that it must be possessed of much medicinal virtue, while its low growth made it suitable for planting on the edges of flower-beds and paths, its scent being brought out as it was walked upon. For this purpose it was much used in Elizabethan gardens; "large walks, broad and long, close and open, like the Tempe groves in Thessaly, raised with gravel and sand, having seats and banks of Camomile; all this delights the mind, and brings health to the body."[46:1] As a garden flower it is now little used, though its bright starry flower and fine scent might recommend it; but it is still to be found in herb gardens, and is still, though not so much as formerly, used as a medicine.

Like many other low plants, the Camomile is improved by being pressed into the earth by rolling or otherwise, and there are many allusions to this in the old writers: thus Lily in his "Euphues" says: "The Camomile the more it [47]is trodden and pressed down, the more it spreadeth;" and in the play, "The More the Merrier" (1608), we have—

"The Camomile shall teach thee patience
Which riseth best when trodden most upon."


[46:1] Lawson, "New Orchard," p. 54.

CARDUUS, see Holy Thistle.


(1) Perdita. The fairest flowers o' the season
Are our Carnations and streak'd Gillyvors,
Which some call Nature's bastards.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (81).
(2) Polyxenes. Then make your garden rich in Gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.
Ibid. (98).

There are two other places in which Carnation is mentioned, but they refer to carnation colour—i.e., to pure flesh colour.

(3) Quickly. 'A could never abide Carnation; 'twas a colour he never liked.
Henry V, act ii, sc. 3 (35).
(4) Costard. Pray you, sir, how much Carnation riband may a man buy for a remuneration?
Love's Labour's Lost, act iii, sc. 1 (146).

Dr. Johnson and others have supposed that the flower is so named from the colour, but that this is a mistake is made very clear by Dr. Prior. He quotes Spenser's "Shepherd's Calendar"—

"Bring Coronations and Sops-in-Wine
Worn of Paramours."

and so it is spelled in Lyte's "Herbal," 1578, coronations or cornations. This takes us at once to the origin of the name. The plant was one of those used in garlands (coronæ), [48]and was probably one of the most favourite plants used for that purpose, for which it was well suited by its shape and beauty. Pliny gives a long list of garland flowers (Coronamentorum genera) used by the Romans and Athenians, and Nicander gives similar lists of Greek garland plants (στεφανωματικὰ ἄνθη), in which the Carnation holds so high a place that it was called by the name it still has—Dianthus, or Flower of Jove.

Its second specific name, Caryophyllus—i.e., Nut-leaved—seems at first very inappropriate for a grassy leaved plant, but the name was first given to the Indian Clove-tree, and from it transferred to the Carnation, on account of its fine clove-like scent. Its popularity as an English plant is shown by its many names—Pink, Carnation, Gilliflower[48:1] (an easily-traced and well-ascertained corruption from Caryophyllus), Clove, Picotee,[48:2] and Sops-in-Wine, from the flowers being used to flavour wine and beer.[48:3] There is an historical interest also in the flowers. All our Carnations, Picotees, and Cloves come originally from the single Dianthus caryophyllus; this is not a true British plant, but it holds a place in the English flora, being naturalized on Rochester and other castles. It is abundant in Normandy, and I found it (in 1874) covering the old castle of Falaise in which William the Conqueror was born. Since that I have found that it grows on the old castles of Dover, Deal, and Cardiff, all of them of Norman construction, as was [49]Rochester, which was built by Gundulf, the special friend of William. Its occurrence on these several Norman castles make it very possible that it was introduced by the Norman builders, perhaps as a pleasant memory of their Norman homes, though it may have been accidentally introduced with the Normandy (Caen) stone, of which parts of the castles are built. How soon it became a florist's flower we do not know, but it must have been early, as in Shakespeare's time the sorts of Cloves, Carnations, and Pinks were so many that Gerard says: "A great and large volume would not suffice to write of every one at large in particular, considering how infinite they are, and how every yeare, every clymate and countrey, bringeth forth new sorts, and such as have not heretofore bin written of;" and so we may certainly say now—the description of the many kinds of Carnations and Picotees, with directions for their culture, would fill a volume.


[48:1] This is the more modern way of spelling it. In the first folio it is "Gillyvor." "Chaucer writes it Gylofre, but by associating it with the the Nutmeg and other spices, appears to mean the Clove Tree, which is, in fact, the proper signification."—Flora Domestica. In the "Digby Mysteries" (Mary Magdalene, l. 1363) the Virgin Mary is addressed as "the Jentyll Jelopher."

[48:2] Picotee is from the French word picoté marked with little pricks round the edge, like the "picots," on lace, picot being the technical term in France for the small twirls which in England are called "purl" or "pearl."

[48:3] Wine thus flavoured was evidently a very favourite beverage. "Bartholemeus Peytevyn tenet duas Caracutas terræ in Stony-Aston in Com. Somerset de Domino Rege in capite per servitium unius[48-a] Sextarii vini Gariophilati reddendi Domino Regi per annum ad Natale Domini. Et valet dicta terra per ann. xl."

[48-a] "A Sextary of July-flower wine, and a Sextary contained about a pint and a half, sometimes more."—Blount's Antient Tenures.


  Shallow. Nay, you shall see my orchard, where, in an arbour we will eat a last year's Pippin of my own graffing, with a dish of Caraways and so forth.
2nd Henry IV, act v, sc. 3 (1).

Carraways are the fruit of Carum carui, an umbelliferous plant of a large geographical range, cultivated in the eastern counties, and apparently wild in other parts of England, but not considered a true native. In Shakespeare's time the seed was very popular, and was much more freely used than in our day. "The seed," says Parkinson, "is much used to be put among baked fruit, or into bread, cakes, &c., to give them a rellish. It is also made into comfits and put into Trageas or (as we call them in English) Dredges, that are taken for cold or wind in the body, as also are served to the table with fruit."

Carraways are frequently mentioned in the old writers as an accompaniment to Apples. In a very interesting bill of fare of 1626, extracted from the account book of Sir Edward Dering, is the following—


"Carowaye and comfites, 6d.

     .       .       .       .       .
         .       .       .       .       .

A Warden py that the cooke
Made—we fining ye Wardens. 2s. 4d.

     .       .       .       .       .

Second Course.

         .       .       .       .       .

A cold Warden pie.

     .       .       .       .       .

Apples and Carrawayes."—Notes and Queries, i, 99.

So in Russell's "Book of Nurture:" "After mete . . . pepyns Careaway in comfyte," line 78, and the same in line 714; and in Wynkyn de Worde's "Boke of Kervynge" ("Babee's Book," p. 266 and 271), and in F. Seager's "Schoole of Vertue" ("Babee's Book," p. 343)—

"Then cheese with fruite On the table set,
With Bisketes or Carowayes  As you may get."

The custom of serving roast Apples with a little saucerful of Carraway is still kept up at Trinity College, Cambridge, and, I believe, at some of the London Livery dinners.


  Evans. Remember, William, focative is caret,
  Quickly. And that's a good root.
Merry Wives, act iv, sc. 1 (55).

Dame Quickly's pun gives us our Carrot, a plant which, originally derived from our wild Carrot (Daucus Carota), was introduced as a useful vegetable by the Flemings in the time of Elizabeth, and has probably been very little altered or improved since the time of its introduction. In Shakespeare's time the name was applied to the "Yellow Carrot" or Parsnep, as well as to the Red one. The name of Carrot comes directly from its Latin or rather Greek name, Daucus [51]Carota, but it once had a prettier name. The Anglo-Saxons called it "bird's-nest," and Gerard gives us the reason, and it is a reason that shows they were more observant of the habits of plants than we generally give them credit for: "The whole tuft (of flowers) is drawn together when the seed is ripe, resembling a bird's nest; whereupon it hath been named of some Bird's-nest."


(1) Prospero. And by the spurs pluck'd up
The Pine and Cedar.
Tempest, act v, sc. 1 (47).
(2) Dumain. As upright as the Cedar.
Love's Labour's Lost, act iv, sc. 3 (89).
(3) Warwick. As on a mountain top the Cedar shows,
That keeps his leaves in spite of any storm.
2nd Henry VI, act v, sc. 1 (205).
(4) Warwick. Thus yields the Cedar to the axe's edge,
Whose arms gave shelter to the princely eagle,
Under whose shade the ramping lion slept,
Whose top-branch o'erpeered Jove's spreading tree,
And kept low shrubs from winter's powerful wind.
3rd Henry VI, act v, sc. 2 (11).
(5) Cranmer. He shall flourish,
And, like a mountain Cedar, reach his branches
To all the plains about him.
Henry VIII, act v, sc. 5 (215).
(6) Posthumus. When from a stately Cedar shall be lopped branches, which, being dead many years, shall after revive.
Cymbeline, act v, sc. 4 (140); and act v, sc. 5 (457).
(7) Soothsayer. The lofty Cedar, royal Cymbeline,
Personates thee. Thy lopp'd branches
. . . . . are now revived,
To the majestic Cedar join'd.
Ibid., act v, sc. 5 (453).
[52](8) Gloucester. But I was born so high,
Our aery buildeth in the Cedar's top,
And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.
Richard III, act i, sc. 3 (263).
(9) Coriolanus. Let the mutinous winds
Strike the proud Cedars 'gainst the fiery sun.
Coriolanus, act v, sc. 3 (59).
(10) Titus. Marcus, we are but shrubs, no Cedars we.
Titus Andronicus, act iv, sc. 3 (45).
(11) Daughter. I have sent him where a Cedar,
Higher than all the rest, spreads like a Plane
Fast by a brook.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act ii, sc. 6 (4).
(12)   The sun ariseth in his majesty;
Who doth the world so gloriously behold
That Cedar-tops and hills seem burnished gold.
Venus and Adonis (856).
(13)   The Cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot,
But low shrubs wither at the Cedar's root.
Lucrece (664).

The Cedar is the classical type of majesty and grandeur, and superiority to everything that is petty and mean. So Shakespeare uses it, and only in this way; for it is very certain he never saw a living specimen of the Cedar of Lebanon. But many travellers in the East had seen it and minutely described it, and from their descriptions he derived his knowledge of the tree; but not only, and probably not chiefly from travellers, for he was well acquainted with his Bible, and there he would meet with many a passage that dwelt on the glories of the Cedar, and told how it was the king of trees, so that "the Fir trees were not like his boughs, and the Chestnut trees were not like his branches, nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty, fair by the multitude of his branches, so that all the trees of Eden that were in the garden of God envied him" (Ezekiel xxxi. 8, 9). It was such descriptions as these that supplied Shakespeare with his imagery, and which made our ancestors try to introduce the tree into England. But there seems to have been much difficulty in establishing it. Evelyn tried to introduce it, but did not succeed at first, and the tree is not mentioned in his "Sylva" of 1664. It was, [53]however, certainly introduced in 1676, when it appears, from the gardeners' accounts, to have been planted at Bretby Park, Derbyshire ("Gardener's Chronicle," January, 1877). I believe this is the oldest certain record of the planting of the Cedar in England, the next oldest being the trees in Chelsea Botanic Gardens, which were certainly planted in 1683. Since that time the tree has proved so suitable to the English soil that it is grown everywhere, and everywhere asserts itself as the king of evergreen trees, whether grown as a single tree on a lawn, or mixed in large numbers with other trees, as at Highclere Park, in Hampshire (Lord Carnarvon's). Among English Cedar trees there are probably none that surpass the fine specimens at Warwick Castle, which owe, however, much of their beauty to their position on the narrow strip of land between the Castle and the river. I mention these to call attention to the pleasant coincidence (for it is nothing more) that the most striking descriptions of the Cedar are given by Shakespeare to the then owner of the princely Castle of Warwick (Nos. 3 and 4).

The mediæval belief about the Cedar was that its wood was imperishable. "Hæc Cedrus, Ae sydyretre, et est talis nature quod nunquam putrescet in aqua nec in terra" (English Vocabulary—15th cent.); but as a timber tree the English-grown Cedar has not answered to its old reputation, so that Dr. Lindley called it "the worthless though magnificent Cedar of Lebanon."


(1) Helena. So we grew together,
Like to a double Cherry, seeming parted,
But yet a union in partition;
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 2 (208).
(2) Demetrius. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing Cherries, tempting grow!
Ibid., act iii, sc. 2 (139).
[54](3) Constance. And it' grandam will
Give it a Plum, a Cherry, and a Fig.
King John, act ii, sc. 1 (161).
(4) Lady. 'Tis as like you
As Cherry is to Cherry.
Henry VIII, act v, sc. 1 (170).
(5) Gower. She with her neeld composes
Nature's own shape of bud, bird, branch, or berry;
That even her art sisters the natural Roses,
Her inkle, silk, twin with the rubied Cherry.
Pericles, act v, chorus (5).
(6) Dromio of Syracuse. Some devils ask but the paring of one's nail,
A Rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin,
A Nut, a Cherry-stone.
Comedy of Errors, act iv, sc. 3 (72).
(7) Queen. Oh, when
The twyning Cherries shall their sweetness fall
Upon thy tasteful lips.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act i, sc. 1 (198).
(8)   When he was by, the birds such pleasure took,
That some would sing, some other in their bills
Would bring him Mulberries and ripe-red Cherries.
He fed them with his sight, they him with berries.
Venus and Adonis (1101).

Besides these, there is mention of "cherry lips"[54:1] and "cherry-nose,"[54:2] and the game of "cherry-pit."[54:3] We have the authority of Pliny that the Cherry (Prunus Cerasus) was introduced into Italy from Pontus, and by the Romans was introduced into Britain. It is not, then, a true native, but it has now become completely naturalized in our woods and hedgerows, while the cultivated trees are everywhere favourites for the beauty of their flowers, and their rich and handsome fruit. In Shakespeare's time there were almost as many, and probably as good varieties, as there are now.


[54:1] Midsummer Night's Dream, act v, sc. 1; Richard III, act i, sc. 1; Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 1.

[54:2] Midsummer Night's Dream, act v, sc. 1.

[54:3] Twelfth Night, act iii, sc. 4.



(1) Witch. A sailor's wife had Chestnuts in her lap,
And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd.
Macbeth, act i, sc. 3 (4).
(2) Petruchio. And do you tell me of a woman's tongue
That gives not half so great a blow to hear
As will a Chestnut in farmer's fire?
Taming of the Shrew, act i, sc. 2 (208).
(3) Rosalind. I' faith, his hair is of a good colour.
  Celia. An excellent colour; your Chestnut was ever the only colour.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 4 (11).

This is the Spanish or Sweet Chestnut, a fruit which seems to have been held in high esteem in Shakespeare's time, for Lyte, in 1578, says of it, "Amongst all kindes of wilde fruites the Chestnut is best and meetest for to be eaten." The tree cannot be regarded as a true native, but it has been so long introduced, probably by the Romans, that grand specimens are to be found in all parts of England; the oldest known specimen being at Tortworth, in Gloucestershire, which was spoken of as an old tree in the time of King Stephen; while the tree that is said to be the oldest and the largest in Europe is the Spanish Chestnut tree on Mount Etna, the famous Castagni du Centu Cavalli, which measures near the root 160 feet in circumference. It is one of our handsomest trees, and very useful for timber, and at one time it was supposed that many of our oldest buildings were roofed with Chestnut. This was the current report of the grand roof at Westminster Hall, but it is now discovered to be of Oak, and it is very doubtful whether the Chestnut timber is as lasting as it has long been supposed to be.

The Horse Chestnut was probably unknown to Shakespeare. It is an Eastern tree, and in no way related to the true Chestnut, and though the name has probably no connection with horses or their food, yet it is curious that the petiole has (especially when dry) a marked resemblance to a horse's leg and foot, and that both on the parent stem and the petiole may be found a very correct representation of a horseshoe with its nails.[55:1]


[55:1] For an excellent description of the great differences between the Spanish and Horse Chestnut, see "Gardener's Chronicle," Oct. 29, 1881.



(1) Burgundy. The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
The freckled Cowslip, Burnet, and green Clover.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (48).
(2) Tamora. I will enchant the old Andronicus
With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous,
Than baits to fish, or Honey-stalks to sheep,
When, as the one is wounded with the bait,
The other rotted with delicious food.
Titus Andronicus, act iv, sc. 4 (89).

"Honey-stalks" are supposed to be the flower of the Clover. This seems very probable, but I believe the name is no longer applied. Of the Clover there are two points of interest that are worth notice. The Clover is one of the plants that claim to be the Shamrock of St. Patrick. This is not a settled point, and at the present day the Woodsorrel is supposed to have the better claim to the honour. But it is certain that the Clover is the "clubs" of the pack of cards. "Clover" is a corruption of "Clava," a club. In England we paint the Clover on our cards and call it "clubs," while in France they have the same figure, but call it "trefle."


  Biron. A Lemon.
  Longaville. Stuck with Cloves.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (633).[56:1]

As a mention of a vegetable product, I could not omit this passage, but the reference is only to the imported spice and not to the tree from which then, as now, the Clove was gathered. The Clove of commerce is the unexpanded flower of the Caryophyllus aromaticus, and the history of its [57]discovery and cultivation by the Dutch in Amboyna, with the vain attempts they made to keep the monopoly of the profitable spice, is perhaps the saddest chapter in all the history of commerce. See a full account with description and plate of the plant in "Bot. Mag.," vol. 54, No. 2749.


[56:1] "But then 'tis as full of drollery as ever it can hold; 'tis like an orange stuck with Cloves as for conceipt."—The Rehearsal, 1671, act iii, sc. 1.


(1) Biron. Allons! allons! sowed Cockle reap'd no Corn.
Love's Labour's Lost, act iv, sc. 3 (383).
(2) Coriolanus. We nourish 'gainst our senate
The Cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd, and scatter'd,
By mingling them with us.
Coriolanus, act iii, sc. 1 (69).

In Shakespeare's time the word "Cockle" was becoming restricted to the Corn-cockle (Lychnis githago), but both in his time, and certainly in that of the writers before him, it was used generally for any noxious weed that grew in corn-fields, and was usually connected with the Darnel and Tares.[57:1] So Gower—

"To sowe Cockel with the Corn
So that the tilthe is nigh forlorn,
Which Crist sew first his owne hond—
Now stant the Cockel in the lond
Where stood whilom the gode greine,
For the prelats now, as men sain,
For slouthen that they shoulden tille."

Confessio Amantis, lib. quintus (2-190, Paulli).

Latimer has exactly the same idea: "Oh, that our prelates would bee as diligent to sowe the corne of goode doctrine as Sathan is to sow Cockel and Darnel." . . . "There was never such a preacher in England as he (the devil) is. Who is able to tel his dylygent preaching? which every daye and every houre laboreth to sowe Cockel and [58]Darnel" (Latimer's Fourth Sermon). And to the same effect Spenser—

"And thus of all my harvest-hope I have
Nought reaped but a weedie crop of care,
Which when I thought have thresht in swelling sheave,
Cockle for corn, and chaff for barley bare."

The Cockle or Campion is said to do mischief among the Wheat, not only, as the Poppy and other weeds, by occupying room meant for the better plant, but because the seed gets mixed with the corn, and then "what hurt it doth among corne, the spoyle unto bread, as well in colour, taste, and unwholsomness is better known than desired." So says Gerard, but I do not know how far modern experience confirms him. It is a pity the plant has so bad a character, for it is a very handsome weed, with a fine blue flower, and the seeds are very curious objects under the microscope, being described as exactly like a hedgehog rolled up.[58:1]


[57:1] "Cokylle—quædam aborigo, zazannia."—Catholicon Anglicum.

[58:1] In Dorsetshire the Cockle is the bur of the Burdock. Barnes' Glossary of Dorset.


  Iago. The food that to him now is as luscious as Locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as Coloquintida.
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (354).

The Coloquintida, or Colocynth, is the dried fleshy part of the fruit of the Cucumis or Citrullus colocynthis. As a drug it was imported in Shakespeare's time and long before, but he may also have known the plant. Gerard seems to have grown it, though from his describing it as a native of the sandy shores of the Mediterranean, he perhaps confused it with the Squirting Cucumber (Momordica elaterium). It is a native of Turkey, but has been found also in Japan. It is also found in the East, and we read of it in the history of Elisha: "One went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild Vine, and gathered thereof wild [59]Gourds, his lap full."[59:1] It is not quite certain what species of Gourd is here meant, but all the old commentators considered it to be the Colocynth,[59:2] the word "vine" meaning any climbing plant, a meaning that is still in common use in America.

All the tribe of Cucumbers are handsome foliaged plants, but they require room. On the Continent they are much more frequently grown in gardens than in England, but the hardy perennial Cucumber (Cucumis perennis) makes a very handsome carpet where the space can be spared, and the Squirting Cucumber (also hardy and perennial) is worth growing for its curious fruit. (See also Pumpion.)


[59:1] 2 Kings iv. 39.

[59:2] "Invenitque quasi vitem sylvestrem, et collegit ex ea Colocynthidas agri."—Vulgate.


(1) Armado. I am that flower,
  Dumain. That Mint.
  Longaville. That Columbine.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (661).
(2) Ophelia. There's Fennel for you and Columbines.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 5 (189).

This brings us to one of the most favourite of our old-fashioned English flowers. It is very doubtful whether it is a true native, but from early times it has been "carefully nursed up in our gardens for the delight both of its forme and colours" (Parkinson); yet it had a bad character, as we see from two passages quoted by Steevens—

"What's that—a Columbine?
No! that thankless flower grows not in my garden."

All Fools, by Chapman, 1605.

and again in the 15th Song of Drayton's "Polyolbion"—

"The Columbine amongst they sparingly do set."

[60] Spenser gave it a better character. Among his "gardyn of sweet floures, that dainty odours from them threw around," he places—

"Her neck lyke to a bounch of Cullambynes."

And, still earlier, Skelton (1463-1529) spoke of it with high praise—

"She is the Vyolet,
The Daysy delectable,
The Columbine commendable,
The Ielofer amyable."—Phyllip Sparrow.

Both the English and the Latin names are descriptive of the plant. Columbine, or the Dove-plant, calls our attention to the "resemblance of its nectaries to the heads of pigeons in a ring round a dish, a favourite device of ancient artists" (Dr. Prior); or to "the figure of a hovering dove with expanded wings, which we obtain by pulling off a single petal with its attached sepals" (Lady Wilkinson); though it may also have had some reference to the colour, as the word is used by Chaucer—

"Come forth now with thin eyghen Columbine."

The Marchaundes Tale (190).

The Latin name, Aquilegia, is generally supposed to come from aquilegus, a water-collector, alluding to the water-holding powers of the flower; it may, however, be derived from aquila, an eagle, but this seems more doubtful.

As a favourite garden flower, the Columbine found its way into heraldic blazonry. "It occurs in the crest of the old Barons Grey of Vitten, as may be seen in the garter coat of William Grey of Vitten" (Camden Society 1847), and is thus described in the Painter's bill for the ceremonial of the funeral of William Lord Grey of Vitten (MS. Coll. of Arms, i, 13, fol. 35a): "Item, his creste with the favron, or, sette on a leftehande glove, argent, out thereof issuyinge, caste over threade, a braunch of Collobyns, blue, the stalk vert." Old Gwillim also enumerates the Columbine among his "Coronary Herbs," as follows: "He beareth argent, a chevron sable between three Columbines slipped proper, by the name of Hall of Coventry. The Columbine is pleasing [61]to the eye, as well in respect of the seemly (and not vulgar) shape as in regard of the azury colour thereof, and is holden to be very medicinable for the dissolving of imposthumations or swellings in the throat."

As a garden plant the Columbine still holds a favourite place. Hardy, handsome, and easy of cultivation, it commends itself to the most ornamental as well as to the cottage garden, and there are so many different sorts (both species and varieties) that all tastes may be suited. Of the common species (A. vulgaris) there are double and single, blue, white, and red; there is the beautiful dwarf A. Pyrenaica, never exceeding six inches in height, but of a very rich deep blue; there are the red and yellow ones (A. Skinneri and A. formosa) from North America; and, to mention no more, there are the lovely A. cœrulea and the grand A. chrysantha from the Rocky Mountains, certainly two of the most desirable acquisitions to our hardy flowers that we have had in late years.


(1) Rosalind. I prythee take the Cork out of thy mouth, that I may hear thy tidings.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (213).
(2) Clown. As you'ld thrust a Cork into a hogshead.
Winter's Tale, act iii, sc. 3 (95).
(3) Cornwall. Bind fast his Corky arms.
King Lear, act iii, sc. 7 (28).

It is most probable that Shakespeare had no further acquaintance with the Cork tree than his use of Corks. The living tree was not introduced into England till the latter part of the seventeenth century, yet is very fairly described both by Gerard and Parkinson. The Cork, however, was largely imported, and was especially used for shoes. Not only did "shoemakers put it in shoes and pantofles for warmness sake," but for its lightness it was used for the high-heeled shoes of the fashionable ladies. I suppose from the following lines that these shoes were a distinguishing part of a bride's trousseau—


"Strip off my bride's array,
My Cork-shoes from my feet,
And, gentle mother, be not coy
To bring my winding sheet."

The Bride's Burial—Roxburghe Ballads.

The Cork tree is a necessary element in all botanic gardens, but as an ornamental tree it is not sufficiently distinct from the Ilex. Though a native of the South of Europe it is hardy in England.


(1) Gonzalo. No use of metal, Corn, or wine, or oil.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 1 (154).
(2) Duke. Our Corn's to reap, for yet our tithe's to sow.
Measure for Measure, act iv, sc. 1 (76).
(3) Titania. Playing on pipes of Corn, (67)
  *       *       *       *       *
  The green Corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (94).
(4) K. Edward. What valiant foemen, like to autumn's Corn,
Have we mowed down in tops of all their pride!
3rd Henry VI, act v, sc. 7 (3).
(5) Pucelle. Talk like the vulgar sort of market men
That come to gather money for their Corn.
1st Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (4).
  Poor market folks that come to sell their Corn.
Ibid. (14).
  Good morrow, gallants! want ye Corn for bread?
Ibid. (41).
  Burgundy. I trust, ere long, to choke thee with thine own,
And make thee curse the harvest of that Corn.
Ibid. (46).
(6) Duchess. Why droops my lord like over-ripened Corn
Hanging the head at Ceres' plenteous load?
2nd Henry VI, act i, sc. 2. (1).
[63](7) Warwick. His well-proportioned beard made rough and ragged
Like to the summer's Corn by tempest lodged.
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (175).
(8) Mowbray. We shall be winnow'd with so rough a wind
That even our Corn shall seem as light as chaff.
2nd Henry IV, act iv, sc. 1 (194).
(9) Macbeth. Though bladed Corn be lodged and trees blown down.
Macbeth, act iv, sc. 1 (55).
(10) Longaville. He weeds the Corn, and still lets grow the weeding.
Love's Labour's Lost, act i, sc. 1 (96).
(11) Biron. Allons! allons! sowed Cockle reap'd no Corn.
Ibid., act iv, sc 3 (383).
(12) Edgar. Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
Thy sheep be in the Corn.
King Lear, act iii, sc. 6 (43).
(13) Cordelia. All the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining Corn.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 4 (6).
(14) Demetrius. First thrash the Corn, then after burn the straw.
Titus Andronicus, act ii, sc. 3 (123).
(15) Marcus. O, let me teach you how to knit again
This scattered Corn into one mutual sheaf.
Ibid., act v, sc. 3 (70).
(16) Pericles. Our ships are stored with Corn to make your needy bread.
Pericles, act i, sc. 4 (95).
(17) Cleon. Your grace that fed my country with your Corn.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 3 (18).
(18) Menenius. For Corn at their own rates.
Coriolanus, act i, sc. 1 (193).
  Marcus. The gods sent not Corn for the rich men only.
Ibid. (211).
  Marcus. The Volsces have much Corn.
Ibid. (253).
  Citizen. We stood up about the Corn.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 3 (16).
  Brutus. Corn was given them gratis.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 1 (43).
  Coriolanus. Tell me of Corn!
Ibid. (61).
  The Corn of the storehouse gratis.
Ibid. (125).
  The Corn was not our recompense.
Ibid. (120).
[64]  This kind of service
Did not deserve Corn gratis.
Coriolanus, act iii, sc. 1 (124).
(19) Cranmer. I am right glad to catch this good occasion
Most thoroughly to be winnow'd, where my chaff
And Corn shall fly asunder.
Henry VIII, act v, sc. 1 (110).
(20) Cranmer. Her foes shake like a field of beaten Corn
And hang their heads with sorrow.
Ibid., act v, sc. 4 (32).
(21) K. Richard. We'll make foul weather with despised tears;
Our sighs and they shall lodge the summer Corn.
Richard II, act iii, sc. 3 (161).
(22) Arcite. And run
Swifter then winde upon a field of Corne
(Curling the wealthy eares) never flew.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act ii, sc. 3 (91).
(23)   As Corn o'ergrown by weeds, so heedful fear
Is almost choked by unresisted lust.
Lucrece (281).

I have made these quotations as short as possible. They could not be omitted, but they require no comment.


(1) Burgundy. The even mead that erst brought sweetly forth
The freckled Cowslip, Burnet, and green Clover.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (48).
(2) Queen. The Violets, Cowslips, and the Primroses,
Bear to my closet.
Cymbeline, act i, sc. 5 (83).
(3) Iachimo. On her left breast
A mole, cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops
I' the bottom of a Cowslip.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 2 (37).
(4) Ariel. Where the bee sucks there suck I,
In a Cowslip's bell I lie.
Tempest, act v, sc. 1 (88).
(5) Thisbe. Those yellow Cowslip cheeks.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act v, sc. 1 (339).
[65](6) Fairy. The Cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every Cowslip's ear.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (10).[65:1]

"Cowslips! how the children love them, and go out into the fields on the sunny April mornings to collect them in their little baskets, and then come home and pick the pips to make sweet unintoxicating wine, preserving at the same time untouched a bunch of the goodliest flowers as a harvest-sheaf of beauty! and then the white soft husks are gathered into balls and tossed from hand to hand till they drop to pieces, to be trodden upon and forgotten. And so at last, when each sense has had its fill of the flower, and they are thoroughly tired of their play, the children rest from their celebration of the Cowslip. Blessed are such flowers that appeal to every sense." So wrote Dr. Forbes Watson in his very pretty and Ruskinesque little work "Flowers and Gardens," and the passage well expresses one of the chief charms of the Cowslip. It is the most favourite wild flower with children. It must have been also a favourite with Shakespeare, for his descriptions show that he had studied it with affection. The minute description in (6) should be noticed. The upright golden Cowslip is compared to one of Queen Elizabeth's Pensioners, who were splendidly dressed, and are frequently noticed in the literature of the day. With Mrs. Quickly they were the ne plus ultra of grandeur—"And yet there has been earls, nay, which is more, pensioners" ("Merry Wives," act ii, sc. 2). Milton, too, sings in its praise—

"Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowering May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow Cowslip and the pale Primrose."

Song on May Morning.


"Whilst from off the waters fleet,
Then I set my printless feet
O'er the Cowslip's velvet head
That bends not as I tread."

Sabrina's Song in Comus.

But in "Lycidas" he associates it with more melancholy ideas—

"With Cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears."

This association of sadness with the Cowslip is copied by Mrs. Hemans, who speaks of "Pale Cowslips, meet for maiden's early bier;" but these are exceptions. All the other poets who have written of the Cowslip (and they are very numerous) tell of its joyousness, and brightness, and tender beauty, and its "bland, yet luscious, meadow-breathing scent."

The names of the plant are a puzzle; botanically it is a Primrose, but it is never so called. It has many names, but its most common are Paigle and Cowslip. Paigle has never been satisfactorily explained, nor has Cowslip. Our great etymologists, Cockayne and Dr. Prior and Wedgwood, are all at variance on the name; and Dr. Prior assures us that it has nothing to do with either "cows" or "lips," though the derivation, if untrue, is at least as old as Ben Jonson, who speaks of "Bright Dayes-eyes and the lips of Cowes." But we all believe it has, and, without inquiring too closely into the etymology, we connect the flower with the rich pastures and meadows of which it forms so pretty a spring ornament, while its fine scent recalls the sweet breath of the cow—"just such a sweet, healthy odour is what we find in cows; an odour which breathes around them as they sit at rest on the pasture, and is believed by many, perhaps with truth, to be actually curative of disease" (Forbes Watson).

Botanically, the Cowslip is a very interesting plant. In all essential points the Primrose, Cowslip, and Oxlip are identical; the Primrose, however, choosing woods and copses and the shelter of the hedgerows, the Cowslip choosing the open meadows, while the Oxlip is found in either. The garden "Polyanthus of unnumbered dyes" (Thomson's "Seasons:" Spring) is only another form produced by [67]cultivation, and is one of the most favourite plants in cottage gardens. It may, however, well be grown in gardens of more pretension; it is neat in growth, handsome in flower, of endless variety, and easy cultivation. There are also many varieties of the Cowslip, of different colours, double and single, which are very useful in the spring garden.


[65:1]Drayton also allotted the Cowslip as the special Fairies' flower—

"For the queene a fitting bower,
(Quoth he) is that tall Cowslip flower."—Nymphidia.

CRABS, see Apple.

CROCUS, see Saffron.


  Queen. There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of Crow-flowers, Nettles, Daisies, and Long Purples.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 7 (169).

The Crow-flower is now the Buttercup,[67:1] but in Shakespeare's time it was applied to the Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), and I should think that this was the flower that poor Ophelia wove into her garland. Gerard says, "They are not used either in medicine or in nourishment; but they serve for garlands and crowns, and to deck up gardens." We do not now use the Ragged Robin for the decking of our gardens, not that we despise it, for it is a flower that all admire in the hedgerows, but because we have other members of the same family as easy to grow and more [68]handsome, such as the double variety of the wild plant, L. Chalcedonica, L. Lagascæ, L. fulgens, L. Haagena, &c. In Shakespeare's time the name was also given to the Wild Hyacinth, which is so named by Turner and Lyte; but this could scarcely have been the flower of Ophelia's garland, which was composed of the flowers of early summer, and not of spring. (See Appendix, p. 388.)


[67:1] In Scotland the Wild Hyacinth is still called the Crow-flower—

"Sweet the Crow-flower's early bell
Decks Gleniffer's dewy dell,
Blooming like thy bonny sel,
My young, my artless dearie, O."

Tannahill, Gloomy Winter.


  Perdita. Bold Oxlips, and
The Crown Imperial.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (125).

The Crown Imperial is a Fritillary (F. imperialis). It is a native of Persia, Afghanistan, and Cashmere, but it was very early introduced into England from Constantinople, and at once became a favourite. Chapman, in 1595, spoke of it as—

"Fair Crown Imperial, Emperor of Flowers."

Ovid's Banquet of Sense.

Gerard had it plentifully in his garden, and Parkinson gave it the foremost place in his "Paradisus Terrestris." "The Crown Imperial," he says, "for its stately beautifulnesse deserveth the first place in this our garden of delight, to be here entreated of before all other Lillies." George Herbert evidently admired it much—

"Then went I to a garden, and did spy
A gallant flower,
The Crown Imperial."

Peace (13).

And if not in Shakespeare's time, yet certainly very soon after, there were as many varieties as there are now. The plant, as a florist's flower, has stood still in a very remarkable way. Though it is apparently a plant that invites the attention of the hybridizing gardener, yet we still have but the two colours, the red and the yellow (a pure white would [69]be a great acquisition), with single and double flowers, flowers in tiers, and with variegated leaves. And all these varieties have existed for more than two hundred years.

As a stately garden plant it should be in every garden. It flowers early, and then dies down. But it should be planted rather in the background, as the whole plant has an evil smell, especially in sunshine. Yet it should have a close attention, if only to study and admire the beautiful interior of the flower. I know of no other flower that is similarly formed, and it cannot be better described than in Gerard's words: "In the bottome of each of the bells there is placed six drops of most cleere shining sweet water, in taste like sugar, resembling in shew faire Orient pearles, the which drops if you take away, there do immediately appeare the like; notwithstanding, if they may be suffered to stand still in the floure according to his owne nature, they wil never fall away, no, not if you strike the plant untill it be broken." How these drops are formed, and what service they perform in the economy of the flower, has not been explained, as far as I am aware; but there is a pretty German legend which tells how the flower was originally white and erect, and grew in its full beauty in the garden of Gethsemane, where it was often noticed and admired by our Lord; but in the night of the agony, as our Lord passed through the garden, all the other flowers bowed their head in sorrowful adoration, the Crown Imperial alone remaining with its head unbowed, but not for long—sorrow and shame took the place of pride, she bent her proud[69:1] head, and blushes of shame, and tears of sorrow soon followed, and so she has ever continued, with bent head, blushing colour, and ever-flowing tears. It is a pretty legend, and may be found at full length in "Good Words for the Young," August, 1870.


[69:1] The bent head of the Crown Imperial could not well escape notice—

"The Polyanthus, and with prudent head,
The Crown Imperial, ever bent on earth,
Favouring her secret rites, and pearly sweets."—Forster.



(1) Song of Spring. When Daisies pied, and Violets blue,
And Lady-smocks all silver-white,
And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
Do paint the meadows with delight.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (904).
(2) Cordelia. He was met even now
As mad as the vex'd sea; singing aloud;
Crown'd with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds,
With Burdocks, Hemlock, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining Corn.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 4 (1).

There is a difficulty in deciding what flower Shakespeare meant by Cuckoo-buds. We now always give the name to the Meadow Cress (Cardamine pratensis), but it cannot be that in either of these passages, because that flower is mentioned under its other name of Lady-smocks in the previous line (No. 1), nor is it "of yellow hue;" nor does it grow among Corn, as described in No. 2. Many plants have been suggested, and the choice seems to me to lie between two. Mr. Swinfen Jervis[70:1] decides without hesitation in favour of Cowslips, and the yellow hue painting the meadows in spring time gives much force to the decision; Schmidt gives the same interpretation; but I think the Buttercup, as suggested by Dr. Prior, will still better meet the requirements.


[70:1] "Dictionary of the Language of Shakespeare," 1868.

CUPID'S FLOWER, see Pansies.


(1) Clown. What am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast?
Three pound of Sugar, five pound of Currants.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (39).
[71](2) Theseus. I stamp this kisse upon thy Currant lippe.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act i, sc. 1 (241).

The Currants of (1) are the Currants of commerce, the fruit of the Vitis Corinthiaca, whence the fruit has derived its name of Corans, or Currants.

The English Currants are of an entirely different family; and are closely allied to the Gooseberry. The Currants—black, white, and red—are natives of the northern parts of Europe, and are probably wild in Britain. They do not seem to have been much grown as garden fruit till the early part of the sixteenth century, and are not mentioned by the earlier writers; but that they were known in Shakespeare's time we have the authority of Gerard, who, speaking of Gooseberries, says: "We have also in our London gardens another sort altogether without prickes, whose fruit is very small, lesser by muche than the common kinde, but of a perfect red colour." This "perfect red colour" explains the "currant lip" of No. 2.

CYME, see Senna.


(1) Suffolk. Their sweetest shade, a grove of Cypress trees!
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (322).
[72](2) Aufidius. I am attended at the Cypress grove.
Coriolanus, act i, sc. 10 (30).
(3) Gremio. In ivory coffers I have stuff'd my crowns,
In Cypress chests my arras counterpoints.
Taming of the Shrew, act ii, sc. 1 (351).

The Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), originally a native of Mount Taurus, is found abundantly through all the South of Europe, and is said to derive its name from the Island of Cyprus. It was introduced into England many years before Shakespeare's time, but is always associated in the old authors with funerals and churchyards; so that Spenser calls it the "Cypress funereal," which epithet he may have taken from Pliny's description of the Cypress: "Natu morosa, fructu supervacua, baccis torva, foliis amara, odore violenta, ac ne umbrâ quidem gratiosa—Diti sacra, et ideo funebri signo ad domos posita" ("Nat. Hist.," xvi. 32).

Sir John Mandeville mentions the Cypress in a very curious way: "The Cristene men, that dwellen beyond the See, in Grece, seyn that the tree of the Cros, that we callen Cypresse, was of that tree that Adam ete the Appule of; and that fynde thei writen" ("Voiage," &c., cap. 2). And the old poem of the "Squyr of lowe degre," gives the tree a sacred pre-eminence—

"The tre it was of Cypresse,
The fyrst tre that Iesu chese."

Ritson's Ear. Eng. Met. Romances, viii. (31).

"In the Arundel MS. 42 may be found an alphabet of plants. . . . The author mentions his garden 'by Stebenhythe by syde London,' and relates that he brought a bough of Cypress with its Apples from Bristol 'into Estbritzlond,' fresh in September, to show that it might be propagated by slips."—Promptorium Parvulorum, app. 67.

The Cypress is an ornamental evergreen, but stiff in its growth till it becomes of a good age; and for garden purposes the European plant is becoming replaced by the richer forms from Asia and North America, such as C. Lawsoniana, macrocarpa, Lambertiana, and others.


[71:1] Cypress, or Cyprus (for the word is spelt differently in the different editions), is also mentioned by Shakespeare in the following—

(1) Clown. In sad Cypress let me be laid.
Twelfth Night, act ii, sc. 4.
(2) Olivia. To one of your receiving
Enough is shown; and Cyprus, not a bosom,
Hides my poor heart.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 1.
(3) Autolycus. Lawn as white as driven snow,
Cyprus, black as e'er was crow.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3.

But in all these cases the Cypress is not the name of the plant, but is the fabric which we now call crape, the "sable stole of Cypre's lawn" of Milton's "Penseroso."



(1) Autolycus. When Daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy o'er the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (1).
(2) Perdita. Daffodils
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 4 (118).
(3) Wooer. With chaplets on their heads of Daffodillies.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 1 (94).

See also Narcissus, p. 175.

Of all English plants there have been none in such constant favour as the Daffodil, whether known by its classical name of Narcissus, or by its more popular names of Daffodil, or Daffadowndilly, and Jonquil. The name of Narcissus it gets from being supposed to be the same as the plant so named by the Greeks first and the Romans afterwards. It is a question whether the plants are the same, and I believe most authors think they are not; but I have never been able to see very good reasons for their doubts. The name Jonquil comes corrupted through the French, from juncifolius or "rush-leaf," and is properly restricted to those species of the family which have rushy leaves. "Daffodil" is commonly said to be a corruption of Asphodel ("Daffodil is Ασφοδελον, and has capped itself with a letter which eight hundred years ago did not belong to it."—Cockayne, Spoon and Sparrow, 19), with which plant it was confused (as it is in Lyte's "Herbal"), but Lady Wilkinson says very positively that "it is simply the old English word 'affodyle,'[73:2] [74]which signifies 'that which cometh early.'" "Daffadowndilly," again is supposed to be but a playful corruption of "Daffodil," but Dr. Prior argues (and he is a very safe authority) that it is rather a corruption of "Saffron Lily." Daffadowndilly is not used by Shakespeare, but it is used by his contemporaries, as by Spenser frequently, and by H. Constable, who died in 1604—

"Diaphenia, like the Daffadowndilly,
White as the sun, fair as the Lilly,
Heigh, ho! how I do love thee!"

But however it derived its pretty names, it was the favourite flower of our ancestors as a garden flower, and especially as the flower for making garlands, a custom very much more common then than it is now. It was the favourite of all English poets. Gower describes the Narcissus—

"For in the winter fresh and faire
The flowres ben, which is contraire
To kind, and so was the folie
Which fell of his surquedrie"—i.e., of Narcissus.

Confes. Aman. lib. prim. (1. 121 Paulli).

Shakespeare must have had a special affection for it, for in all his descriptions there is none prettier or more suggestive than Perdita's short but charming description of the Daffodil (No. 2). A small volume might be filled with the many poetical descriptions of this "delectable and sweet-smelling flower," but there are some which are almost classical, and which can never be omitted, and which will bear repetition, however well we know them. Milton says, "The Daffodillies fill their cups with tears."[74:1] There are Herrick's well-known lines—

"Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon,
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attained his noon;
[75] Stay, stay,
Until the hastening day
Has run
But to the even-song;
And having prayed together, we
Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay as you,
We have as short a spring,
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you or anything.
We die,
As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer's rain,
Or as the pearls of morning dew,
Ne'er to be found again."

And there are Keats' and Shelley's well-known and beautiful lines which bring down the praises of the Daffodil to our own day. Keats says—

"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,
Its loveliness increases, it will never
Pass into nothingness. . . . .
. . . . . . In spite of all
Some shape of beauty moves away the pale
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are Daffodils
With the green world they live in."

Shelley is still warmer in his praise—

"Narcissus, the fairest among them all,
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness."

The Sensitive Plant, p. 1.

Nor must Wordsworth be left out when speaking of the poetry of Daffodils. His stanzas are well known, while his sister's prose description of them is the most poetical of all: "They grew among the mossy stones; . . . some rested their heads on these stones as on a pillow, the rest tossed [76]and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, they looked so gay and glancing."[76:1]

But it is time to come to prose. The Daffodil of Shakespeare is the Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudo-Narcissus) that is found in abundance in many parts of England. This is the true English Daffodil, and there is only one other species that is truly native—the N. biflorus, chiefly found in Devonshire. But long before Shakespeare's time a vast number had been introduced from different parts of Europe, so that Gerard was able to describe twenty-four different species, and had "them all and every of them in our London gardens in great abundance." The family, as at present arranged by Mr. J. G. Baker, of the Kew Herbarium, consists of twenty-one species, with several sub-species and varieties; all of which should be grown. They are all, with the exception of the Algerian species, which almost defy cultivation in England, most easy of cultivation—"Magnâ curâ non indigent Narcissi." They only require after the first planting to be let alone, and then they will give us their graceful flowers in varied beauty from February to May. The first will usually be the grand N. maximus, which may be called the King of Daffodils, though some authors have given to it a still more illustrious name. The "Rose of Sharon" was the large yellow Narcissus, common in Palestine and the East generally, of which Mahomet said: "He that has two cakes of bread, let him sell one of them for some flower of the Narcissus, for bread is the food of the body, but Narcissus is the food of the soul." From these grand leaders of the tribe we shall be led through the Hoop-petticoats, the many-flowered Tazettas, and the sweet [77]Jonquils, till we end the Narcissus season with the Poets' Narcissus (Ben Jonson's "chequ'd and purple-ringed Daffodilly"), certainly one of the most graceful flowers that grows, and of a peculiar fragrance that no other flower has; so beautiful is it, that even Dr. Forbes Watson's description of it is scarcely too glowing: "In its general expression the Poets' Narcissus seems a type of maiden purity and beauty, yet warmed by a love-breathing fragrance; and yet what innocence in the large soft eye, which few can rival amongst the whole tribe of flowers. The narrow, yet vivid fringe of red, so clearly seen amidst the whiteness, suggests again the idea of purity, gushing passion—purity with a heart which can kindle into fire."


[73:1] This account of the Daffodil, and the accounts of some other flowers, I have taken from a paper by myself on the common English names of plants read to the Bath Field Club in 1870, and published in the "Transactions" of the Club, and afterwards privately printed.—H. N. E.


"Herbe orijam and Thyme and Violette
Eke Affodyle and savery thereby sette."

Palladius on Husbandrie, book i, 1014. (E. E. Text Soc.)

[74:1] "The cup in the centre of the flower is supposed to contain the tears of Narcissus, to which Milton alludes; . . . and Virgil in the following—

'Pars intra septa domorum
Narcissi lacrymas . . . ponunt.'"—Flora Domestica, 268.

[76:1] The "Quarterly Review," quoting this description, says that "few poets ever lived who could have written a description so simple and original, so vivid and descriptive." Yet it is an unconscious imitation of Homer's account of the Narcissus—

"νάρκισσόν θ' . . .
θαυμαστὸν γανόωντα; σέβας δέ τε πᾶσιν ἰδέσθαι
ἀθανάτοις τε θεοῖς ἠδὲ θνητοῖς ἀνθρώποις;
τοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ ῥίζης ἑκατὸν κάρα ἐξεπεφύκει;
κηώδει τ' ὀδμῆ πᾶς τ' οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ὕπερθεν,
γαῖά τε πᾶσ' ἐγέλασσε, καὶ ἁλμυρὸν οἶδμα θαλάσσης."

Hymn to Demeter, 8-14.


(1) Song of Spring. When Daisies pied, and Violets, &c.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (904). (See Cuckoo-buds.)
(2) Lucius. Let us
Find out the prettiest Daisied plot we can,
And make him with our pikes and partizans
A grave.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (397).
(3) Ophelia. There's a Daisy.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 5 (183).
(4) Queen. There with fantastic garlands did she come Of Crow-flowers, Nettles, Daisies, and Long Purples.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 7 (169).
(5)   Without the bed her other faire hand was
On the green coverlet; whose perfect white
Show'd like an April Daisy on the Grass.
Lucrece (393).
(6)   Daisies smel-lesse, yet most quaint.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Introd. song.

See Appendix. I., p. 359.

DAMSONS, see Plums.



(1) Cordelia. Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining Corn.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 4 (5). (See Cuckoo-flowers.)
(2) Burgundy. Her fallow leas,
The Darnel, Hemlock, and rank Fumitory
Doth root upon.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (44).
(3) Pucelle. Good morrow, Gallants! want ye Corn for bread?
I think the Duke of Burgundy will fast,
Before he'll buy again at such a rate;
'Twas full of Darnel; do you like the taste?
1st Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (41).

Virgil, in his Fifth Eclogue, says—

"Grandia sæpe quibus mandavimus hordea solcis
Infelix lolium et steriles dominantur avenæ."

Thus translated by Thomas Newton, 1587—

"Sometimes there sproutes abundant store
Of baggage, noisome weeds,
Burres, Brembles, Darnel, Cockle, Dawke,
Wild Oates, and choaking seedes."

And the same is repeated in the first Georgic, and in both places lolium is always translated Darnel, and so by common consent Darnel is identified with the Lolium temulentum or wild Rye Grass. But in Shakespeare's time Darnel, like Cockle (which see), was the general name for any hurtful weed. In the old translation of the Bible, the Zizania, which is now translated Tares, was sometime translated Cockle,[78:1] and Newton, writing in Shakespeare's time, says—"Under the name of Cockle and Darnel is comprehended all vicious, noisom and unprofitable graine, encombring and hindring good corne."—Herball to the Bible. The Darnel is not only injurious from choking the corn, but its seeds become mixed with the true Wheat, and so in Dorsetshire—and [79]perhaps in other parts—it has the name of "Cheat" (Barnes' Glossary), from its false likeness to Wheat. It was this false likeness that got for it its bad character. "Darnell or Juray," says Lyte ("Herball," 1578), "is a vitious graine that combereth or anoyeth corne, especially Wheat, and in his knotten straw, blades, or leaves is like unto Wheate." Yet Lindley says that "the noxious qualities of Darnel or Lolium temulentum seem to rest upon no certain proof" ("Vegetable Kingdom," p. 116).


[78:1] "When men were a sleepe, his enemy came and oversowed Cockle among the wheate, and went his way."—Rheims Trans., 1582. For further early references to Cockle or Darnel see note on "Darnelle" in the "Catholicon Anglicum," p. 90, and Britten's "English Plant Names," p. 143.


(1) Clown. I must have Saffron to colour the Warden pies—Mace—Dates? none; that's out of my note.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (48).
(2) Nurse. They call for Dates and Quinces in the pastry.
Romeo and Juliet, act iv, sc. 4 (2).
(3) Parolles. Your Date is better in your pie and your porridge than in your cheek.
All's Well that Ends Well, act i, sc. 1 (172).
(4) Pandarus. Do you know what a man is? Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and such like, the spice and salt that season a man?
  Cressida. Ay, a minced man; and then to be baked with no Date in the pye; for then the man's date's out.
Troilus and Cressida, act i, sc. 2 (274).

The Date is the well-known fruit of the Date Palm (Phœnix dactylifera), the most northern of the Palms. The Date Palm grows over the whole of Southern Europe, North Africa, and South-eastern Asia; but it is not probable that Shakespeare ever saw the tree, though Neckam speaks of it in the twelfth century, and Lyte describes it, and Gerard made many efforts to grow it; he tried to grow plants from the seed, "the which I have planted many times in my garden, and have grown to the height of three foot, but the first frost hath nipped them in such sort that they perished, [80]notwithstanding mine industrie by covering them, or what else I could do for their succour." The fruit, however, was imported into England in very early times, and was called by the Anglo-Saxons Finger-Apples, a curious name, but easily explained as the translation of the Greek name for the fruit, δακτυλοι which was also the origin of the word date, of which the olden form was dactylle.[80:1]


[80:1] "A dactylle frute dactilis."—Catholicon Anglicum.


  Queen. Our cold maids do Dead Men's Fingers call them.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 7 (172).

See Long Purples, p. 148.


  Titania. Feed him with Apricocks and Dewberries.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (169).

The Dewberry (Rubus cæsius) is a handsome fruit, very like the Blackberry, but coming earlier. It has a peculiar sub-acid flavour, which is much admired by some, as it must have been by Titania, who joins it with such fruits as Apricots, Grapes, Figs, and Mulberries. It may be readily distinguished from the Blackberry by the fruit being composed of a few larger drupes, and being covered with a glaucous bloom.


  Oberon. Be, as thou wast wont to be
(touching her eyes with an herb),
See, as thou wast wont to see;
[81] Dian's Bud o'er Cupid's flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (76).

The same herb is mentioned in act iii, sc. 2 (366)—

Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye,
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error, with his might,
And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.

But except in these two passages I believe the herb is not mentioned by any author. It can be nothing but Shakespeare's translation of Artemisia, the herb of Artemis or Diana, a herb of wonderful virtue according to the writers before Shakespeare's day. (See Wormwood.)


(1) Burgundy. And nothing teems
But hateful Docks, rough Thistles, Kecksies, Burs.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (51).
(2) Antonio. He'd sow it with Nettle seed,
  Sebastian. Or Docks, or Mallows.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 1 (145).

The Dock may be dismissed with little note or comment, merely remarking that the name is an old one, and is variously spelled as dokke, dokar, doken, &c. An old name for the plant was "Patience;" the "bitter patience" of Spenser, which is supposed by Dr. Prior to be a corruption of Passions.


(Dramatis personæ in Much Ado About Nothing.)

The Dogberry is the fruit either of the Cornus sanguinea or of the Euonymus Europæus. Parkinson limits the name [82]to the Cornus, and says: "We for the most part call it the Dogge berry tree, because the berries are not fit to be eaten, or to be given to a dogge." The plant is only named by Shakespeare as a man's name, but it could scarcely be omitted, as I agree with Mr. Milner that it was "probable that our dramatist had the tree in his mind when he gave a name to that fine fellow for a 'sixth and lastly,' Constable, Dogberry of the Watch" ("Country Pleasures," p. 229).


(1) King. The Ebon-coloured ink.
Love's Labour's Lost, act i, sc. 1 (245).
(2) King. By heaven, thy love is black as Ebony.
  Biron. Is Ebony like her? O wood divine!
A wife of such wood were felicity.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 3 (247).
(3) Clown. The clearstores towards the south north are as lustrous as Ebony.
Twelfth Night, act iv, sc. 2 (41).
(4) Pistol. Rouse up revenge from Ebon den.
2nd Henry IV, act v, sc. 5 (39).
(5)   Death's Ebon dart, to strike him dead.
Venus and Adonis (948).

The Ebony as a tree was unknown in England in the time of Shakespeare. The wood was introduced, and was the typical emblem of darkness. The timber is the produce of more than one species, but comes chiefly from Diospyros Ebenum, Ebenaster, Melanoxylon, Mabola, &c. (Lindley), all natives of the East.


(1) Oberon. I know a bank where the wild Thyme blows,
Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows;
[83] Quite over-canopied with luscious Woodbine,
With sweet Musk-Roses and with Eglantine.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (249).
(2) Arviragus. Thou shalt not lack
The flower that's like thy face, pale Primrose, nor
The azured Harebell, like thy veins, no, nor
The leaf of Eglantine, whom not to slander,
Out-sweeten'd not thy breath.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (220).

If Shakespeare had only written these two passages they would sufficiently have told of his love for simple flowers. None but a dear lover of such flowers could have written these lines. There can be no doubt that the Eglantine in his time was the Sweet Brier—his notice of the sweet leaf makes this certain. Gerard so calls it, but makes some confusion—which it is not easy to explain—by saying that the flowers are white, whereas the flowers of the true Sweet Brier are pink. In the earlier poets the name seems to have been given to any wild Rose, and Milton certainly did not consider the Eglantine and the Sweet Brier to be identical. He says ("L'Allegro")—

"Through the Sweet Briar or the Vine,
Or the twisted Eglantine."

But Milton's knowledge of flowers was very limited. Herrick has some pretty lines on the flower, in which it seems most probable that he was referring to the Sweet Brier—

"From this bleeding hand of mine
Take this sprig of Eglantine,
Which, though sweet unto your smell,
Yet the fretful Briar will tell,
He who plucks the sweets shall prove
Many Thorns to be in love."

It was thus the emblem of pleasure mixed with pain—

"Sweet is the Eglantine, but pricketh nere."

Spenser, Sonnet xxvi.

And so its names pronounced it to be; it was either the Sweet Brier, or it was Eglantine, the thorny plant (Fr., aiglentier). There was also an older name for the plant, of which I can give no explanation. It was called Bedagar. [84]"Bedagar dicitur gallice aiglentier" (John de Gerlande). "Bedagrage, spina alba, wit-thorn" (Harl. MS., No. 978 in "Reliquiæ Antiquæ," i, 36).[84:1] The name still exists, though not in common use; but only as the name of a drug made from "the excrescences on the branches of the Rose, and particularly on those of the wild varieties" (Parsons on the Rose).

It is a native of Britain, but not very common, being chiefly confined to the South of England. I have found it on Maidenhead Thicket. As a garden plant it is desirable for the extremely delicate scent of its leaves, but the flower is not equal to others of the family. There is, however, a double-flowered variety, which is handsome. The fruit of the single flowered tree is large, and of a deep red colour, and is said to be sometimes made into a preserve. In modern times this is seldom done, but it may have been common in Shakespeare's time, for Gerard says quaintly: "The fruit when it is ripe maketh most pleasant meats and banqueting dishes, as tarts and such like, the making whereof I commit to the cunning cooke, and teeth to eat them in the rich man's mouth." And Drayton says—

"They'll fetch you conserve from the hip,
And lay it softly on your lip."

Nymphal II.

Eglantine has a further interest in being one of the many thorny trees from which the sacred crown of thorns was supposed to be made—"And afterwards he was led into a garden of Cayphas, and there he was crowned with Eglantine" (Sir John Mandeville).


[84:1] "Est et cynosrodos, rosa camina, ung eglantier, folia myrti habens, sed paulo majora; recta assurgens in mediam altitudinem inter arborem et fruticem; fert spongiolas, quibus utuntur medici, ad malefica capitis ulcera, la malle tigne, vocatur antem vulgo in officinis pharmacopolarum, bedegar."—Stephani de re Hortensi Libellus, p. 17, 1536.


(1) Arviragus. And let the stinking Elder, grief, untwine
His perishing root with the increasing Vine!
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (59).
[85](2) Host. What says my Æsculapius? my Galen? my heart of Elder?
Merry Wives, act ii, sc. 3 (29).
(3) Saturninus. Look for thy reward
Among the Nettles at the Elder tree,
  *       *       *       *       *
  This is the pit and this the Elder tree.
Titus Andronicus, act ii, sc. 3 (271).
(4) Williams. That's a perilous shot out of an Elder gun, that a poor and private displeasure can do against a monarch.
Henry V, act iv, sc. 1 (200).
(5) Holofernes. Begin, sir, you are my Elder.
  Biron. Well followed; Judas was hanged on an Elder.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (608).

There is, perhaps, no tree round which so much of contradictory folk-lore has gathered as the Elder tree.[85:1] With many it was simply "the stinking Elder," of which nothing but evil could be spoken. Biron (No. 5) only spoke the common mediæval notion that "Judas was hanged on an Elder;" and so firm was this belief that Sir John Mandeville was shown the identical tree at Jerusalem, "and faste by is zit, the Tree of Eldre that Judas henge himself upon, for despeyr that he hadde, when he solde and betrayed oure Lord." This was enough to give the tree a bad fame, which other things helped to confirm—the evil smell of its leaves, the heavy narcotic smell of its flowers, its hard and heartless wood,[85:2] and the ugly drooping black fungus that is almost exclusively found on it (though it occurs also on the Elm), which was vulgarly called the Ear of Judas (Hirneola auricula Judæ). This was the bad character; but, on the other hand, there were many who could tell of its many virtues, so that in 1644 appeared a book entirely devoted to its praises. This was "The Anatomie of the Elder, translated from the Latin of Dr. Martin Blockwich by C. de Iryngio" [86](i.e., Christ. Irvine), a book that, in its Latin and English form, went through several editions. And this favourable estimate of the tree is still very common in several parts of the Continent. In the South of Germany it is believed to drive away evil spirits, and the name "'Holderstock' (Elder Stock) is a term of endearment given by a lover to his beloved, and is connected with Hulda, the old goddess of love, to whom the Elder tree was considered sacred." In Denmark and Norway it is held in like esteem, and in the Tyrol an "Elder bush, trained into the form of a cross, is planted on the new-made grave, and if it blossoms the soul of the person lying beneath it is happy." And this use of the Elder for funeral purposes was, perhaps, also an old English custom; for Spenser, speaking of Death, says—

The Muses that were wont greene Baies to weare,
Now bringen bittre Eldre braunches seare."

Shepherd's Calendar—November.

Nor must we pass by the high value that was placed on the wood both by the Jews and Greeks. It was the wood chiefly used for musical instruments, so that the name Sambuke was applied to several very different instruments, from the fact that they were all made of Elder wood. The "sackbut," "dulcimer," and "pipe" of Daniel iii. are all connected together in this manner.

As a garden plant the common Elder is not admissible, though it forms a striking ornament in the wild hedgerows and copses, while its flowers yield the highly perfumed Elder-flower water, and its fruits give the Elder wine; but the tree runs into many varieties, several of which are very ornamental, the leaves being often very finely divided and jagged, and variegated both with golden and silver blotches. There is a handsome species from Canada (Sambucus Canadensis), which is worth growing in shrubberies, as it produces its pure white flowers in autumn.


[85:1] Called also Eldern in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and still earlier, Eller or Ellyr ("Catholicon Anglicum"). "The Ellern is a tree with long bowes, ful sounde and sad wythout, and ful holowe within, and ful of certayne nesshe pyth."—Clanvil de prop.

[85:2] From the facility with which the hard wood can be hollowed out, the tree was from very ancient times called the Bore-tree. See "Catholicon Anglicum," s.v. Bur-tre.



(1) Adriana. Thou art an Elm, my husband, I a Vine,
Whose weakness married to thy stronger state
Makes me with thy strength to communicate.
Comedy of Errors, act ii, sc. 2 (176).
(2) Titania. The female Ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the Elm.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (48).
(3) Poins. Answer, thou dead Elm, answer![87:1]
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc, 4 (358).

Though Vineyards were more common in England in the sixteenth century than now, yet I can nowhere find that the Vines were ever trained, in the Italian fashion, to Elms or Poplars. Yet Shakespeare does not stand alone in thus speaking of the Elm in its connection with the Vine. Spenser speaks of "the Vine-prop Elme," and Milton—

"They led the Vine
To wed her Elm; she spoused, about him twines
Her marriageable arms, and with her brings
Her dower, the adopted clusters, to adorn
His barren leaves."

And Browne—

"She, whose inclination
Bent all her course to him-wards, let him know
He was the Elm, whereby her Vine did grow."

Britannia's Pastorals, book i, song 1.

"An Elm embraced by a Vine,
Clipping so strictly that they seemed to be
One in their growth, one shade, one fruit, one tree;
Her boughs his arms; his leaves so mixed with hers,
That with no wind he moved, but straight she stirs."

Ibid., ii, 4.

But I should think that neither Shakespeare, nor Browne, nor Milton ever saw an English Vine trained to an Elm; they were simply copying from the classical writers.

[88]The Wych Elm is probably a true native, but the more common Elm of our hedgerows is a tree of Southern Europe and North Africa, and is of such modern introduction into England that in Evelyn's time it was rarely seen north of Stamford. It was probably introduced into Southern England by the Romans.


[87:1] Why Falstaff should be called a dead Elm is not very apparent; but the Elm was associated with death as producing the wood for coffins. Thus Chaucer speaks of it as "the piler Elme, the cofre unto careyne," i.e., carrion ("Parliament of Fowles," 177).


  Falstaff. Let the sky rain Potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green Sleeves, hail kissing-comfits, and snow Eringoes.
Merry Wives, act v, sc. 5 (20).

Gerard tells us that Eringoes are the candied roots of the Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum), and he gives the recipe for candying them. I am not aware that the Sea Holly is ever now so used, but it is a very handsome plant as it is seen growing on the sea shore, and its fine foliage makes it an ornamental plant for a garden. But as used by Falstaff I am inclined to think that the vegetable he wished for was the Globe Artichoke, which is a near ally of the Eryngium, was a favourite diet in Shakespeare's time, and was reputed to have certain special virtues which are not attributed to the Sea Holly, but which would more accord with Falstaff's character.[88:1] I cannot, however, anywhere find that the Artichoke was called Eringoes.


[88:1] For these supposed virtues of the Artichoke see Bullein's "Book of Simples."


(1) Ophelia. There's Fennel for you and Columbines.
Hamlet, act iv, sc 5 (189).
(2) Falstaff. And a' plays at quoits well, and eats conger and Fennel.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (266).

[89] The Fennel was always a plant of high reputation. The Plain of Marathon was so named from the abundance of Fennel (μαραθρον) growing on it.[89:1] And like all strongly scented plants, it was supposed by the medical writers to abound in "virtues." Gower, describing the star Pleiades, says—

"Eke his herbe in speciall
The vertuous Fenel it is."

Conf. Aman., lib. sept. (3, 129. Paulli.)

These virtues cannot be told more pleasantly than by Longfellow—

"Above the lowly plants it towers,
The Fennel with its yellow flowers,
And in an earlier age than ours
Was gifted with the wondrous powers—
Lost vision to restore.
It gave men strength and fearless mood,
And gladiators fierce and rude
Mingled it with their daily food:
And he who battled and subdued
A wreath of Fennel wore."

"Yet the virtues of Fennel, as thus enumerated by Longfellow, do not comprise either of those attributes of the plant which illustrate the two passages from Shakespeare. The first alludes to it as an emblem of flattery, for which ample authority has been found by the commentators.[89:2] Florio is quoted for the phrase 'Dare finocchio,' to give fennel, as meaning to flatter. In the second quotation the allusion is to the reputation of Fennel as an inflammatory herb with much the same virtues as are attributed to Eringoes."—Mr. J. F. Marsh in The Garden.

The English name was directly derived from its Latin name Fœniculum, which may have been given it from its hay-like smell (fœnum), but this is not certain. We have another English word derived from the Giant Fennel of the South of Europe (ferula); this is the ferule, an instrument of punishment for small boys, also adopted from the Latin, the [90]Roman schoolmaster using the stalks of the Fennel for the same purpose as the modern schoolmaster uses the cane.

The early poets looked on the Fennel as an emblem of the early summer—

"Hyt befell yn the month of June
When the Fenell hangeth yn toun."

Libæus Diaconus.(1225).

As a useful plant, the chief use is as a garnishing and sauce for fish. Large quantities of the seed are said to be imported to flavour gin, but this can scarcely be called useful. As ornamental plants, the large Fennels (F. Tingitana, F. campestris, F. glauca, &c.) are very desirable where they can have the necessary room.


[89:1] "Fennelle or Fenkelle, feniculum maratrum."—Catholicon Anglicum.


" Christophers. No, my good lord.
  Count. Your good lord! O, how this smells of Fennel."
Ben Jonson, The Case Altered, act ii, sc. 2.


  Gadshill. We have the receipt of Fern-seed—we walk invisible.
  Chamberlain. Now, by my faith, I think you are more beholding to the night than to Fern-seed for your walking invisible.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 1 (95).

There is a fashion in plants as in most other things, and in none is this more curiously shown than in the estimation in which Ferns are and have been held. Now-a-days it is the fashion to admire Ferns, and few would be found bold enough to profess an indifference to them. But it was not always so. Theocritus seems to have admired the Fern—

"Like Fern my tresses o'er my temples streamed."

Idyll xx. (Calverley.)

"Come here and trample dainty Fern and Poppy blossom."

Idyll v. (Calverley.)

But Virgil gives it a bad character, speaking of it as "filicem invisam." Horace is still more severe, "neglectis urenda filix innascitur agris." The Anglo-Saxon translation of Boethius spoke contemptuously of the "Thorns, and the Furzes, and the Fern, and all the weeds" (Cockayne). And so it was in Shakespeare's time. Butler spoke of it as the—


"Fern, that vile, unuseful weed,
That grows equivocably without seed."

Cowley spoke the opinion of his day as if the plant had neither use nor beauty—

"Nec caulem natura mihi, nec Floris honorem,
Nec mihi vel semen dura Noverca dedit—
Nec me sole fovet, nec cultis crescere in hortis
Concessum, et Foliis gratia nulla meis—
Herba invisa Deis poteram cœloque videri,
Et spurio Terræ nata puerperio."

Plantarum, lib. i.

And later still Gilpin, who wrote so much on the beauties of country scenery at the close of the last century, has nothing better to say for Ferns than that they are noxious weeds, to be classed with "Thorns and Briers, and other ditch trumpery." The fact, no doubt, is that Ferns were considered something "uncanny and eerie;" our ancestors could not understand a plant which seemed to them to have neither flower nor seed, and so they boldly asserted it had neither. "This kinde of Ferne," says Lyte in 1587, "beareth neither flowers nor sede, except we shall take for sede the black spots growing on the backsides of the leaves, the whiche some do gather thinking to worke wonders, but to say the trueth it is nothing els but trumperie and superstition." A plant so strange must needs have strange qualities, but the peculiar power attributed to it of making persons invisible arose thus:—It was the age in which the doctrine of signatures was fully believed in; according to which doctrine Nature, in giving particular shapes to leaves and flowers, had thereby plainly taught for what diseases they were specially useful.[91:1] Thus a heart-shaped leaf was for heart disease, a liver-shaped for the liver, a bright-eyed flower was for the eyes, a foot-shaped flower or leaf would certainly cure the gout, and so on; and then when they found a plant which certainly grew and increased, but of which the organs of fructification were invisible, it was a clear conclusion that properly used the plant would confer the gift of invisibility. Whether the [92]people really believed this or not we cannot say,[92:1] but they were quite ready to believe any wonder connected with the plant, and so it was a constant advertisement with the quacks. Even in Addison's time "it was impossible to walk the streets without having an advertisement thrust into your hand of a doctor who had arrived at the knowledge of the Green and Red Dragon, and had discovered the female Fern-seed. Nobody ever knew what this meant" ("Tatler," No. 240). But to name all the superstitions connected with the Fern would take too much space.

The name is expressive; it is a contraction of the Anglo-Saxon fepern, and so shows that some of our ancestors marked its feathery form; and its history as a garden plant is worth a few lines. So little has it been esteemed as a garden plant that Mr. J. Smith, the ex-Curator of the Kew Gardens, tells us that in the year 1822 the collection of Ferns at Kew was so extremely poor that "he could not estimate the entire Kew collection of exotic Ferns at that period at more than forty species" (Smith's "Ferns, British and Exotic," introduction). Since that time the steadily increasing admiration of Ferns has caused collectors to send them from all parts of the world, so that in 1866 Mr. Smith was enabled to describe about a thousand species, and now the number must be much larger; and the closer search for Ferns has further brought into notice a very large number of most curious varieties and monstrosities, which it is still more curious to observe are, with very few exceptions, confined to the British species.


[91:1] See Brown's "Religio Medici," p. ii. 2.

[92:1] It probably was the real belief, as we find it so often mentioned as a positive fact; thus Browne—

"Poor silly fool! thou striv'st in vain to know
If I enjoy or love where thou lov'st so;
Since my affection ever secret tried
Blooms like the Fern, and seeds still unespied."

Poems, p. 26 (Sir E. Brydges' edit. 1815).



(1) Titania. Feed him with Apricocks and Dewberries,
With purple Grapes, green Figs, and Mulberries.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (169).
(2) Constance. And its grandam will
Give it a Plum, a Cherry, and a Fig.
King John, act ii, sc. 1 (161).
(3) Guard. Here is a rural fellow
That will not be denied your Highness's presence,
He brings you Figs.
Antony and Cleopatra, act v, sc. 2 (233).
(4) 1st Guard. A simple countryman that brought her Figs.
Ibid. (342).
  Ditto. These Fig-leaves
Have slime upon them.
Ibid., act v, sc. 2 (354).
(5) Pistol. When Pistol lies, do this; and Fig me, like
The bragging Spaniard.
2nd Henry IV, act v, sc. 3 (123).
(6) Pistol. Die and be damned, and Figo for thy friendship.
  Fluellen. It is well.
  Pistol. The Fig of Spain.
Henry V, act iii, sc. 6 (60).
(7) Pistol. The Figo for thee, then.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (60).
(8) Iago. Virtue! a Fig!
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (322).
(9) Iago. Blessed Fig's end!
Ibid., act ii, sc. 1 (256).
(10) Horner. I'll pledge you all, and a Fig for Peter.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 3 (66).
(11) Pistol. "Convey," the wise it call; "steal!" foh! a Fico for the phrase!
Merry Wives, act i, sc. 3 (32).
(12) Charmian. O excellent! I love long life better than Figs.
Antony and Cleopatra, act i, sc. 2 (32).

In some of these passages (as 5, 6, 7, and perhaps in more) the reference is to a grossly insulting and indecent gesture called "making the fig." It was a most unpleasant custom, which largely prevailed throughout Europe in Shakespeare's time, and on which I need not dwell. It is fully described in Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare," i, 492.

In some of the other quotations the reference is simply to the proverbial likeness of a Fig to a matter of the least [94]importance.[94:1] But in the others the dainty fruit, the green Fig, is noticed.

The Fig tree, celebrated from the earliest times for the beauty of its foliage and for its "sweetness and good fruit" (Judges ix. 11), is said to have been introduced into England by the Romans; but the more reliable accounts attribute its introduction to Cardinal Pole, who is said to have planted the Fig tree still living at Lambeth Palace. Botanically, the Fig is of especial interest. The Fig, as we eat it, is neither fruit nor flower, though partaking of both, being really the hollow, fleshy receptacle enclosing a multitude of flowers, which never see the light, yet come to full perfection and ripen their seed. The Fig stands alone in this peculiar arrangement of its flowers, but there are other plants of which we eat the unopened or undeveloped flowers, as the Artichoke, the Cauliflower, the Caper, the Clove, and the Pine Apple.


[94:1] This proverbial worthlessness of the Fig is of ancient date. Theocritus speaks of συκινοι ανδρες, useless men; Horace, "Olim truncus eram ficulnus, inutile lignum;" and Juvenal, "Sterilis mala robora ficus."


  Caliban. I'll bring thee to clustering Filberds.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 2(174). (See Hazel.)


  Cæsar. This common body
Like to a vagabond Flag upon the stream
Goes to and back, lackeying the varying tide,
To rot itself with motion.
Antony and Cleopatra, act i, sc. 4 (44).

We now commonly call the Iris a Flag, and in Shakespeare's time the Iris pseudoacorus was called the Water Flag, and so this passage might, perhaps, have been placed [95]under Flower-de-luce. But I do not think that the Flower-de-luce proper was ever called a Flag at that time, whereas we know that many plants, especially the Reeds and Bulrushes, were called in a general way Flags. This is the case in the Bible, the language of which is always a safe guide in the interpretation of contemporary literature. The mother of Moses having placed the infant in the ark of Bulrushes, "laid it in the Flags by the river's brink," and the daughter of Pharaoh "saw the ark among the Flags." Job asks, "Can the Flag grow without water?" and Isaiah draws the picture of desolation when "the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up, and the Reeds and the Flags shall wither." But in these passages, not only is the original word very loosely translated, but the original word itself was so loosely used that long ago Jerome had said it might mean any marsh plant, quidquid in palude virens nascitur. And in the same way I conclude that when Shakespeare named the Flag he meant any long-leaved waterside plant that is swayed to and fro by the stream, and that therefore this passage might very properly have been placed under Rushes.


(1) Ford. What, a hodge-pudding? a bag of Flax?
Merry Wives, act v, sc. 5 (159).
(2) Clifford. Beauty that the tyrant oft reclaims
Shall to my flaming wrath be oil and Flax.
2nd Henry VI, act v, sc. 2 (54).
(3) Sir Toby. Excellent; it hangs like Flax in a distaff.
Twelfth Night, act i, sc. 3 (108).
(4) 3rd Servant. Go thou: I'll fetch some Flax and white of eggs
To apply to his bleeding face.[95:1]
King Lear, act iii, sc. 7 (106).
[96](5) Ophelia. His beard was as white as snow,
All Flaxen was his poll.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 5 (195).
(6) Leontes. My wife deserves a name
As rank as any Flax-wench.
Winter's Tale, act i, sc. 2 (276).
(7) Emilia. It could
No more be hid in him, than fire in Flax.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act v, sc. 3 (113).

The Flax of commerce (Linum usitatissimum) is not a true native, though Turner said: "I have seen flax or lynt growyng wilde in Sommerset shyre" ("Herbal," part ii. p. 39); but it takes kindly to the soil, and soon becomes naturalized in the neighbourhood of any Flax field or mill. We have, however, three native Flaxes in England, of which the smallest, the Fairy Flax (L. catharticum), is one of the most graceful ornaments of our higher downs and hills.[96:1] The Flax of commerce, which is the plant referred to by Shakespeare, is supposed to be a native of Egypt, and we have early notice of it in the Book of Exodus; and the microscope has shown that the cere-cloths of the most ancient Egyptian mummies are made of linen. It was very early introduced into England, and the spinning of Flax was the regular occupation of the women of every household, from the mistress downwards, so that even queens are represented in the old illuminations in the act of spinning, and "the spinning-wheel was a necessary implement in every household, from the palace to the cottage."—Wright, Domestic Manners. The occupation is now almost gone, driven out by machinery, but it has left its mark on our language, at least on our legal language, which acknowledges as the only designation of an unmarried woman that she is "a spinster."

A crop of Flax is one of the most beautiful, from the rich colour of the flowers resting on their dainty stalks. But it is also most useful; from it we get linen, linseed oil, oilcake, and linseed-meal; nor do its virtues end there, for "Sir [97]John Herschel tells us the surprising fact that old linen rags will, when treated with sulphuric acid, yield more than their own weight of sugar. It is something even to have lived in days when our worn-out napkins may possibly reappear on our tables in the form of sugar."—Lady Wilkinson.

As garden plants the Flaxes are all ornamental. There are about eighty species, some herbaceous and some shrubby, and of almost all colours, and in most of the species the colours are remarkably bright and clear. There is no finer blue than in L. usitatissimum, no finer yellow than in L. trigynum, or finer scarlet than in L. grandiflorum.


[95:1] "Juniper. Go get white of egg and a little Flax, and close the breach of the head; it is the most conducible thing that can be."—Ben Jonson, The Case Altered, act ii, sc. 4.

[96:1] "From the abundant harvests of this elegant weed on the upland pastures, prepared and manufactured by supernatural skill, 'the good people' were wont, in the olden time, to procure the necessary supplies of linen!"—Johnston.


(1) Perdita. Lilies of all kinds,
The Flower-de-luce being one.
Winters Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (126).
(2) K. Henry. What sayest thou, my fair Flower-de-luce?
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (323).
(3) Messenger. Cropped are the Flower-de-luces in your arms;
Of England's coat one half is cut away.
1st Henry VI, act i, sc. 1 (80).
(4) Pucelle. I am prepared; here is my keen-edged sword
Deck'd with five Flower-de-luces on each side.
Ibid., act i, sc. 2 (98).
(5) York. A sceptre shall it have, have I a soul, On which I'll toss the Flower-de-luce of France.
2nd Henry VI, act v, sc. 1 (10).

Out of these five passages four relate to the Fleur-de-luce as the cognizance of France, and much learned ink has been spilled in the endeavour to find out what flower, if any, was intended to be represented, so that Mr. Planché says that "next to the origin of heraldry itself, perhaps nothing connected with it has given rise to so much controversy as the origin of this celebrated charge." It has been at various times asserted to be an Iris, a Lily, a sword-hilt, a spearhead, and a toad, or to be simply the Fleur de St. Louis. [98]Adhuc sub judice lis est—and it is never likely to be satisfactorily settled. I need not therefore dwell on it, especially as my present business is to settle not what the Fleur-de-luce meant in the arms of France, but what it meant in Shakespeare's writings. But here the same difficulty at once meets us, some writers affirming stoutly that it is a Lily, others as stoutly that it is an Iris. For the Lily theory there are the facts that Shakespeare calls it one of the Lilies, and that the other way of spelling it is Fleur-de-lys. I find also a strong confirmation of this in the writings of St. Francis de Sales (contemporary with Shakespeare). "Charity," he says, "comprehends the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and resembles a beautiful Flower-de-luce, which has six leaves whiter than snow, and in the middle the pretty little golden hammers" ("Philo," book xi., Mulholland's translation). This description will in no way fit the Iris, but it may very well be applied to the White Lily. Chaucer, too, seems to connect the Fleur-de-luce with the Lily—

"Her nekke was white as the Flour de Lis."

These are certainly strong authorities for saying that the Flower-de-luce is the Lily. But there are as strong or stronger on the other side. Spenser separates the Lilies from the Flower-de-luces in his pretty lines—

"Strow mee the grounde with Daffadown-Dillies,
And Cowslips, and Kingcups, and lovéd Lillies;
The Pretty Pawnce
And the Chevisaunce
Shall match with the fayre Floure Delice."

Shepherd's Calendar.

Ben Jonson separates them in the same way—

"Bring rich Carnations, Flower-de-luces, Lillies."

Lord Bacon also separates them: "In April follow the double White Violet, the Wall-flower, the Stock-Gilliflower, the Cowslip, the Flower-de-luces, and Lilies of all Natures;" and so does Drayton—

"The Lily and the Flower de Lis
For colours much contenting."

Nymphal V.

[99] In heraldry also the Fleur-de-lis and the Lily are two distinct bearings. Then, from the time of Turner in 1568, through Gerard and Parkinson to Miller, all the botanical writers identify the Iris as the plant named, and with this judgment most of our modern writers agree.[99:1] We may, therefore, assume that Shakespeare meant the Iris as the flower given by Perdita, and we need not be surprised at his classing it among the Lilies. Botanical classification was not very accurate in his day, and long after his time two such celebrated men as Redouté and De Candolle did not hesitate to include in the "Liliacæ," not only Irises, but Daffodils, Tulips, Fritillaries, and even Orchids.

What Iris Shakespeare especially alluded to it is useless to inquire. We have two in England that are indigenous—one the rich golden-yellow (I. pseudacorus), which in some favourable positions, with its roots in the water of a brook, is one of the very handsomest of the tribe; the other the Gladwyn (I. fœtidissima), with dull flowers and strong-smelling leaves, but with most handsome scarlet fruit, which remain on the plant and show themselves boldly all through the winter and early spring. Of other sorts there is a large number, so that the whole family, according to the latest account by Mr. Baker, of Kew, contains ninety-six distinct species besides varieties. They come from all parts of the world, from the Arctic Circle to the South of China; they are of all colours, from the pure white Iris Florentina to the almost black I. Susiana; and of all sizes, from a few inches to four feet or more. They are mostly easy of cultivation and increase readily, so that there are few plants better suited for the hardy garden or more ornamental.


[99:1] G. Fletcher's Flower-de-luce was certainly the Iris—

"The Flower-de-Luce and the round specks of dew
That hung upon the azure leaves did shew
Like twinkling stars that sparkle in the evening blue."

The "leaves" here must be the petals.



(1) Cordelia. Crown'd with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 4 (3). (See Cuckoo-flowers.)
(2) Burgundy. Her fallow leas
The Darnel, Hemlock, and rank Fumitory
Doth root upon.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (44).

Of Fumitories we have five species in England, all of them weeds in cultivated grounds and in hedgerows. None of them can be considered garden plants, but they are closely allied to the Corydalis, of which there are several pretty species, and to the very handsome Dielytras, of which one species—D. spectabilis—ranks among the very handsomest of our hardy herbaceous plants. How the plant acquired its name of Fumitory—fume-terre, earth-smoke—is not very satisfactorily explained, though many explanations have been given; but that the name was an ancient one we know from the interesting Stockholm manuscript of the eleventh century published by Mr. J. Pettigrew, and of which a few lines are worth quoting. (The poem is published in the "Archæologia," vol. xxx.)—

"Fumiter is erbe, I say,
Yt spryngyth ī April et in May,
In feld, in town, in yard, et gate,
Yer lond is fat and good in state,
Dun red is his flour
Ye erbe smek lik in colowur."


(1) Ariel. So I charm'd their ears,
That calf-like they my lowing follow'd through
Tooth'd Briers, sharp Furzes, pricking Goss, and Thorns.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (178).
(2) Gonzalo. Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, long Heath, brown Furze, anything.
Ibid., act i, sc. 1 (70).

[101]We now call the Ulex Europæus either Gorse, or Furze, or Whin; but in the sixteenth century I think that the Furze and Gorse were distinguished (see Gorse), and that the brown Furze was the Ulex. It is a most beautiful plant, and with its golden blossoms and richly scented flowers is the glory of our wilder hill-sides. It is especially a British plant, for though it is found in other parts of Europe, and even in the Azores and Canaries, yet I believe it is nowhere found in such abundance or in such beauty as in England. Gerard says, "The greatest and highest that I did ever see do grow about Excester, in the West Parts of England;" and those that have seen it in Devonshire will agree with him. It seems to luxuriate in the damp, mild climate of Devonshire, and to see it in full flower as it covers the low hills that abut upon the Channel between Ilfracombe and Clovelly is a sight to be long remembered. It is, indeed, a plant that we may well be proud of. Linnæus could only grow it in a greenhouse, and there is a well-known story of Dillenius that when he first saw the Furze in blossom in England he fell on his knees and thanked God for sparing his life to see so beautiful a part of His creation. The story may be apocryphal, but we have a later testimony from another celebrated traveller who had seen the glories of tropical scenery, and yet was faithful to the beauties of the wild scenery of England. Mr. Wallace bears this testimony: "I have never seen in the tropics such brilliant masses of colour as even England can show in her Furze-clad commons, her glades of Wild Hyacinths, her fields of Poppies, her meadows of Buttercups and Orchises, carpets of yellow, purple, azure blue, and fiery crimson, which the tropics can rarely exhibit. We have smaller masses of colour in our Hawthorns and Crab trees, our Holly and Mountain Ash, our Broom, Foxgloves, Primroses, and purple Vetches, which clothe with gay colours the length and breadth of our land" ("Malayan Archipelago," ii. 296).

As a garden shrub the Furze may be grown either as a single lawn shrub or in the hedge or shrubbery. Everywhere it will be handsome both in its single and double varieties, and as it bears the knife well, it can be kept within limits. The upright Irish form also makes an elegant shrub, but does not flower so freely as the typical plant.



(1) Bottom. And, most clear actors, eat no Onions nor Garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 2 (42).
(2) Lucio. He would mouth with a beggar, though she smelt brown bread and Garlic.
Measure for Measure, act iii, sc. 2 (193).
(3) Hotspur. I had rather live
With cheese and Garlic in a windmill.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 1 (161).
(4) Menenius. You that stood so much
Upon the voice of occupation, and
The breath of Garlic-eaters.
Coriolanus, act iv, sc. 6 (96).
(5) Dorcas. Mopsa must be your mistress; marry, Garlic to mend her kissing with.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (162).

There is something almost mysterious in the Garlick that it should be so thoroughly acceptable, almost indispensable, to many thousands, while to others it is so horribly offensive as to be unbearable. The Garlick of Egypt was one of the delicacies that the Israelites looked back to with fond regret, and we know from Herodotus that it was the daily food of the Egyptian labourer; yet, in later times, the Mohammedan legend recorded that "when Satan stepped out from the Garden of Eden after the fall of man, Garlick sprung up from the spot where he placed his left foot, and Onions from that which his right foot touched, on which account, perhaps, Mohammed habitually fainted at the sight of either." It was the common food also of the Roman labourer, but Horace could only wonder at the "dura messorum illia" that could digest the plant "cicutis allium nocentius." It was, and is the same with its medical virtues. According to some it was possessed of every virtue,[102:1] so that it had the name of Poor Man's Treacle [103](the word treacle not having its present meaning, but being the Anglicised form of theriake, or heal-all[103:1]); while, on the other hand, Gerard affirmed "it yieldeth to the body no nourishment at all; it ingendreth naughty and sharpe bloud."

Bullein describes it quaintly: "It is a grosse kinde of medicine, verye unpleasant for fayre Ladies and tender Lilly Rose colloured damsels which often time profereth sweet breathes before gentle wordes, but both would do very well" ("Book of Simples"). Yet if we could only divest it of its evil smell, the wild Wood Garlick would rank among the most beautiful of our British plants. Its wide leaves are very similar to those of the Lily of the Valley, and its starry flowers are of the very purest white. But it defies picking, and where it grows it generally takes full possession, so that I have known several woods—especially on the Cotswold Hills—that are to be avoided when the plant is in flower. The woods are closely carpeted with them, and every step you take brings out their fœtid odour. There are many species grown in the gardens, some of which are even very sweet smelling (as A. odorum and A. fragrans); but these are the exceptions, and even these have the Garlick scent in their leaves and roots. Of the rest many are very pretty and worth growing, but they are all more or less tainted with the evil habits of the family.


[102:1] "You (i.e., citizens) are still sending to the apothecaries, and still crying out to 'fetch Master Doctor to me;' but our (i.e., countrymen's) apothecary's shop is our garden full of pot herbs, and our doctor is a good clove of Garlic."—The Great Frost of January, 1608.


"Crist, which that is to every harm triacle."

Chaucer, Man of Lawes Tale.

"Treacle was there anone forthe brought."

Le Morte Arthur, 864.

GILLIFLOWERS, see Carnations.


(1) Clown. I must have Saffron to colour the Warden pies—Mace—Dates? none, that's out of my note; Nutmegs, seven—a race or two of Ginger, but that I may beg.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (48).
[104](2) Sir Toby. Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale.
  Clown. Yes, by St. Anne, and Ginger shall be hot i' the mouth too.
Twelfth Night, act ii, sc. 3 (123).
(3) Pompey. First, here's Young Master Rash, he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old Ginger, nine score and seventeen pounds, of which he made five marks ready money; marry, then, Ginger was not much in request, for the old women were all dead.
Measure for Measure, act iv, sc. 3 (4).
(4) Salanio. I would she were as lying a gossip in that as ever knapped Ginger.
Merchant of Venice, act iii, sc. 1 (9).
(5) 2nd Carrier. I have a gammon of bacon and two razes of Ginger to be delivered as far as Charing Cross.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 1 (26).
(6) Orleans. He's of the colour of the Nutmeg.
  Dauphin. And of the heat of the Ginger.
Henry V, act iii, sc. 7 (20).
(7) Julia. What is't you took up so Gingerly?
Two Gentlemen of Verona, act i, sc. 2 (70).
(8) Costard. An I had but one penny in the world, thou should'st have it to buy Ginger-bread.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 1 (74).
(9) Hotspur. Swear me, Kate, like a lady as thou art,
A good mouth-filling oath, and leave "in sooth,"
And such protest of pepper Ginger-bread
To velvet-guards and Sunday-citizens.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 1 (258).

Ginger was well known both to the Greeks and Romans. It was imported from Arabia, together with its name, Zingiberri, which it has retained, with little variation, in all languages.

When it was first imported into England is not known, but probably by the Romans, for it occurs as a common ingredient in many of the Anglo-Saxon medical recipes. Russell, in the "Boke of Nurture," mentions several kinds of Ginger; as green and white, "colombyne, valadyne, and Maydelyn." In Shakespeare's time it was evidently very common and cheap.

[105] It is produced from the roots of Zingiber officinale, a member of the large and handsome family of the Ginger-worts. The family contains some of the most beautiful of our greenhouse plants, as the Hedychiums, Alpinias, and Mantisias; and, though entirely tropical, most of the species are of easy cultivation in England. Ginger is very easily reared in hotbeds, and I should think it very probable that it may have been so grown in Shakespeare's time. Gerard attempted to grow it, but he naturally failed, by trying to grow it in the open ground as a hardy plant; yet "it sprouted and budded forth greene leaves in my garden in the heate of somer;" and he tells us that plants were sent him by "an honest and expert apothecarie, William Dries, of Antwerp," and "that the same had budded and grown in the said Dries' garden."


  Falstaff. All the other gifts appertinent to man, as the malice of this age shapes them, are not worth a Gooseberry.
2nd Henry IV, act i, sc. 2 (194).

The Gooseberry is probably a native of the North of England, but Turner said (s.v. uva crispa) "it groweth onely that I have sene in England, in gardines, but I have sene it in Germany abrode in the fieldes amonge other busshes."

The name has nothing to do with the goose. Dr. Prior has satisfactorily shown that the word is a corruption of "Crossberry." By the writers of Shakespeare's time, and even later, it was called Feaberry (Gerard, Lawson, and others), and in one of the many books on the Plague published in the sixteenth century, the patient is recommended to eat "thepes, or goseberries" ("A Counsell against the Sweate," fol. 23).



  Ariel. Tooth'd Briers, sharp Furzes, pricking Goss, and Thorns.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (180).

In speaking of the Furze (which see), I said that in Shakespeare's time the Furze and Gorse were probably distinguished, though now the two names are applied to the same plant. "In the 15th Henry VI. (1436), license was given to Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, to inclose 200 acres of land—pasture, wode, hethe, vrises,[106:1] and gorste (bruere, et jampnorum), and to form thereof a Park at Greenwich."—Rot. Parl. iv. 498.[106:2] This proves that the "Gorst" was different from the "Vrise," and it may very likely have been the Petty Whin. "Pricking Goss," however, may be only a generic term, like Bramble and Brier, for any wild prickly plant.


[106:1] There is a hill near Lansdown (Bath) now called Frizen or Freezing Hill. Within memory of man it was covered with Gorse. This was probably the origin of the name, "Vrisen Hill."

[106:2] "Promptorium Parvulorum," p. 162, note.


  Pistol. For Gourd and fullam holds.
Merry Wives, act i, sc. 3 (94).

I merely mention this to point out that "Gourd," though probably originally derived from the fruit, is not the fruit here, but is an instrument of gambling. The fruit, however, was well known in Shakespeare's time, and was used as the type of intense greenness—

"Whose cœrule stream, rombling in pebble-stone,
Crept under Moss, as green as any Gourd."

Spenser, Virgil's Gnat.

GRACE, see Rue.


GRAPES, see Vines.


(1) Gonzalo. How lush and lusty the Grass looks! how green!
Tempest, act ii, sc. 1 (52).
(2) Iris. Here, on this Grass-plot, in this very place
To come and sport.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (73).
(3) Ceres. Why hath thy Queen
Summon'd me hither to this short-grass'd green?
Ibid. (82).
(4) Lysander. When Phœbe doth behold
Her silver visage in the watery glass,
Decking with liquid pearl the bladed Grass.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act i, sc. 1 (209).
(5) King. Say to her, we have measured many miles
To tread a measure with her on this Grass.
  Boyet. They say, that they have measured many miles
To tread a measure with her on the Grass.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (184).
(6) Clown. I am no great Nebuchadnezzar, sir, I have not much skill in Grass.
All's Well that Ends Well, act iv, sc. 5 (21).
(7) Luciana. If thou art changed to aught, 'tis to an ass.
  Dromio of Syracuse. 'Tis true; she rides me, and I long for Grass.
Comedy of Errors, act ii, sc. 2 (201).
(8) Bolingbroke. Here we march
Upon the Grassy carpet of the plain.
Richard II, act iii, sc. 3 (49).
(9) King Richard. And bedew
Her pasture's Grass with faithful English blood.
Ibid. (100).
(10) Ely. Grew like the summer Grass, fastest by night, Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.
Henry V, act i, sc. 1 (65).
(11) King Henry. Mowing like Grass
Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 3 (13).
[108](12) Grandpre. And in their pale dull mouths the gimmal bit
Lies foul with chew'd Grass, still and motionless.
Henry V, act iv, sc. 2 (49).
(13) Suffolk. Though standing naked on a mountain top
Where biting cold would never let Grass grow.
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (336).
(14) Cade. All the realm shall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to Grass.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 2 (74).
(15) Cade. Wherefore on a brick wall have I climbed into this garden, to see if I can eat Grass or pick a Sallet another while, which is not amiss to cool a man's stomach this hot weather.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 10 (7).
(16) Cade. If I do not leave you all as dead as a door-nail, I pray God I may never eat Grass more.
Ibid. (42).
(17) 1st Bandit. We cannot live on Grass, on berries, water,
As beasts and birds and fishes.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (425).
(18) Saturninus. These tidings nip me, and I hang the head
As Flowers with frost or Grass beat down with storms.
Titus Andronicus, act iv, sc. 4 (70).
(19) Hamlet. Ay but, sir, "while the Grass grows"—the proverb is something musty.
Hamlet, act iii, sc. 2 (358).
(20) Ophelia. He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a Grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 5 (29).
(21) Salarino. I should be still
Plucking the Grass to know where sits the wind.
Merchant of Venice, act i, sc. 1 (17).

In and before Shakespeare's time Grass was used as a general term for all plants. Thus Chaucer—

"And every grass that groweth upon roote
Sche schal eek know, to whom it will do boote
Al be his woundes never so deep and wyde."

The Squyeres Tale.

[109]It is used in the same general way in the Bible, "the Grass of the field."

In the whole range of botanical studies the accurate study of the Grasses is, perhaps, the most difficult as the genus is the most extensive, for Grasses are said to "constitute, perhaps, a twelfth part of the described species of flowering plants, and at least nine-tenths of the number of individuals comprising the vegetation of the world" (Lindley), so that a full study of the Grasses may almost be said to be the work of a lifetime. But Shakespeare was certainly no such student of Grasses: in all these passages Grass is only mentioned in a generic manner, without any reference to any particular Grass. The passages in which hay is mentioned, I have not thought necessary to quote.


  Arviragus. Thou shalt not lack
The flower that's like thy face, pale Primrose, nor
The azured Harebell, like thy veins.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (220). (See Eglantine.)

The Harebell of Shakespeare is undoubtedly the Wild Hyacinth (Scilla nutans), the "sanguine flower inscribed with woe" of Milton's "Lycidas," though we must bear in mind that the name is applied differently in various parts of the island; thus "the Harebell of Scotch writers is the Campanula, and the Bluebell, so celebrated in Scottish song, is the Wild Hyacinth or Scilla; while in England the same names are used conversely, the Campanula being the Bluebell and the Wild Hyacinth the Harebell" ("Poets' Pleasaunce")—but this will only apply in poetry; in ordinary language, at least in the South of England, the Wild Hyacinth is the Bluebell, and is the plant referred to by Shakespeare as the Harebell.

It is one of the chief ornaments of our woods,[109:1] growing [110]in profusion wherever it establishes itself, and being found of various colours—pink, white, and blue. As a garden flower it may well be introduced into shrubberies, but as a border plant it cannot compete with its rival relation, the Hyacinthus orientalis, which is the parent of all the fine double and many coloured Hyacinths in which the florists have delighted for the last two centuries.


[109:1] "'Dust of sapphire,' writes my friend Dr. John Brown to me of the wood Hyacinths of Scotland in the spring; yes, that is so—each bud more beautiful itself than perfectest jewel."—Ruskin, Proserpina, p. 73.


  Cordelia. Crown'd with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds,
With Harlocks, Hemlock, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 4 (3). (See Cuckoo-flowers.)

I cannot do better than follow Dr. Prior on this word: "Harlock, as usually printed in 'King Lear' and in Drayton, ecl. 4—

'The Honeysuckle, the Harlocke,
The Lily and the Lady-smocke,'

is a word that does not occur in the Herbals, and which the commentators have supposed to be a misprint for Charlock. There can be little doubt that Hardock is the correct reading, and that the plant meant is the one now called Burdock." Schmidt also adopts Burdock as the right interpretation.


(1) Rosalind. There's a man hangs odes upon Hawthorns and elegies on Brambles.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (379).
(2) Quince. This green plot shall be our stage, this Hawthorn-brake our tiring house.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (3).
(3) Helena. Your tongue's sweet air,
More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When Wheat is green, when Hawthorn-buds appear.
Ibid., act i, sc. 1 (183).
[111](4) Falstaff. I cannot cog and say thou art this and that, like a many of these lisping Hawthorn-buds.
Merry Wives, act iii, sc. 3 (76).
(5) K. Henry. Gives not the Hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade
To shepherds looking on their silly sheep,
Than doth a rich embroider'd canopy
To kings that fear their subjects' treachery?
O yes, it doth; a thousand-fold it doth.
3rd Henry VI, act ii, sc. 5 (42).
(6) Edgar. Through the sharp Hawthorn blows the cold wind (bis).
King Lear, act iii, sc. 4 (47 and 102).
(7) Arcite. Againe betake you to yon Hawthorne house.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iii, sc. 1 (90).

Under its many names of Albespeine, Whitethorn, Haythorn or Hawthorn, May, and Quickset, this tree has ever been a favourite with all lovers of the country.

"Among the many buds proclaiming May,
Decking the field in holiday array,
Striving who shall surpass in braverie,
Mark the faire blooming of the Hawthorn tree,
Who, finely cloathed in a robe of white,
Fills full the wanton eye with May's delight.
Yet for the braverie that she is in
Doth neither handle card nor wheel to spin,
Nor changeth robes but twice; is never seen
In other colours but in white or green."

such is Browne's advice in his "Britannia's Pastorals" (ii. 2). He, like the other early poets, clearly loved the tree for its beauty; and in picturesque beauty the Hawthorn yields to none, when it can be seen in some sheltered valley growing with others of its kind, and allowed to grow unpruned, for then in the early summer it is literally a sheet of white, yet beautifully relieved by the tender green of the young leaves, and by the bright crimson of the anthers, and loaded with a scent that is most delicate and refreshing. But not only for its beauty is the Hawthorn a favourite tree, but also for its many pleasant associations—it is essentially the May tree, the tree that tells that winter is really past, and that summer has fairly begun. Hear Spenser—


"Thilke same season, when all is yclade
With pleasaunce; the ground with Grasse, the woods
With greene leaves, the bushes with blooming buds,
Youngthes folke now flocken in everywhere
To gather May-baskets and smelling Brere;
And home they hasten the postes to dight,
And all the kirk-pillours eare day-light,
With Hawthorne-buds, and sweet Eglantine,
And girlondes of Roses, and soppes-in-wine."

Shepherd's Calendar—May.

Yet in spite of its pretty name, and in spite of the poets, the Hawthorn now seldom flowers till June, and I should suppose it is never in flower on May Day, except perhaps in Devonshire and Cornwall; and it is very doubtful if it ever were so found, except in these southern counties, though some fancy that the times of flowering of several of our flowers are changed, and in some instances largely changed. But "it was an old custom in Suffolk, in most of the farmhouses, that any servant who could bring in a branch of Hawthorn in full blossom on the 1st of May was entitled to a dish of cream for breakfast. This custom is now disused, not so much from the reluctance of the masters to give the reward, as from the inability of the servants to find the Whitethorn in flower."—Brand's Antiquities.[112:1] Even those who might not see the beauty of an old Thorn tree, have found its uses as one of the very few trees that will grow thick in the most exposed places, and so give pleasant shade and shelter in places where otherwise but little shade and shelter could be found.

"Every shepherd tells his tale
Under the Hawthorn in the dale."—Milton.

And "at Hesket, in Cumberland, yearly on St. Barnabas' Day, by the highway side under a Thorn tree is kept the court for the whole forest of Englewood."—History of Westmoreland.

The Thorn may well be admitted as a garden shrub either [113]in its ordinary state, or in its beautiful double white, red, and pink varieties, and those who like to grow curious trees should not omit the Glastonbury Thorn, which flowers at the ordinary time, and bears fruit, but also buds and flowers again in winter, showing at the same time the new flowers and the older fruit.

Nor must we omit to mention that the Whitethorn is one of the trees that claims to have been used for the sacred Crown of Thorns. It is most improbable that it was so, in fact almost certain that it was not; but it was a mediæval belief, as Sir John Mandeville witnesses: "Then was our Lord yled into a gardyn, and there the Jewes scorned hym, and maden hym a crowne of the branches of the Albiespyne, that is Whitethorn, that grew in the same gardyn, and setten yt upon hys heved. And therefore hath the Whitethorn many virtues. For he that beareth a branch on hym thereof, no thundre, ne no maner of tempest may dere hym, ne in the howse that it is ynne may non evil ghost enter."

And we may finish the Hawthorn with a short account of its name, which is interesting:—"Haw," or "hay," is the same word as "hedge" ("sepes, id est, haies," John de Garlande), and so shows the great antiquity of this plant as used for English hedges. In the north, "haws" are still called "haigs;" but whether Hawthorn was first applied to the fruit or the hedge, whether the hedge was so called because it was made of the Thorn tree that bears the haws, or whether the fruit was so named because it was borne on the hedge tree, is a point on which etymologists differ.


[112:1] "Gilbert White in his 'Naturalists' Calendar' as the result of observations taken from 1768 to 1793 puts down the flowering of the Hawthorn as occurring in different years upon dates so widely apart as the twentieth of April and the eleventh of June."—Milner's Country Pleasures, p. 83.


(1) Mercutio. Her [Queen Mab's] chariot is an empty Hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.
Romeo and Juliet, act i, sc. 4 (67).
(2) Petruchio. Kate like the Hazel twig
Is straight and slender and as brown in hue
As Hazel-nuts and sweeter than the kernels.
Taming of the Shrew, act ii, sc. 1 (255).
[114](3) Caliban. I'll bring thee to clustering Filberts.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 2 (174).
(4) Touchstone. Sweetest Nut hath sourest rind,
Such a Nut is Rosalind.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (115).
(5) Celia. For his verity in love I do think him as concave as a covered goblet or a worm-eaten Nut.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 4 (25).
(6) Lafeu. Believe this of me, there can be no kernel in this light Nut.
All's Well that Ends Well, act ii, sc. 5 (46).
(7) Mercutio. Thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking Nuts, having no other reason but because thou hast Hazel eyes.
Romeo and Juliet, act iii, sc. 1 (20).
(8) Thersites. Hector shall have a great catch, if he knock out either of your brains; a' were as good crack a fusty Nut with no kernel.
Troilus and Cressida, act ii, sc. 1 (109).
(9) Gonzalo. I'll warrant him for drowning; though the ship were no stronger than a Nut-shell.
Tempest, act i, sc. 1 (49).
(10) Titania. I have a venturous fairy that shall seek
The squirrel's hoard, and fetch thee new Nuts.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (40).
(11) Hamlet. O God, I could be bounded in a Nut-shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
Hamlet, act ii, sc. 2 (260).
(12) Dromio of Syracuse. Some devils ask but the parings of one's nail,
A Rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin,
A Nut, a Cherry-stone.
Comedy of Errors, act iv, sc. 3 (72).

Dr. Prior has decided that "'Filbert' is a barbarous compound of phillon or feuille, a leaf, and beard, to denote its distinguishing peculiarity, the leafy involucre projecting beyond the nut." But in the times before Shakespeare the name was more poetically said to be derived from the nymph Phyllis. Nux Phyllidos is its name in the old vocabularies, and Gower ("Confessio Amantis") tells us why—


"Phyllis in the same throwe
Was shape into a Nutte-tree,
That alle men it might see;
And after Phyllis philliberde,
This tre was cleped in the yerde"

(Lib. quart.),

and so Spenser spoke of it as "'Phillis' philbert" (Elegy 17).[115:1]

The Nut, the Filbert, and the Cobnut, are all botanically the same, and the two last were cultivated in England long before Shakespeare's time, not only for the fruit, but also, and more especially, for the oil.

There is a peculiarity in the growth of the Nut that is worth the notice of the botanical student. The male blossoms, or catkins (anciently called "agglettes or blowinges"), are mostly produced at the ends of the year's shoots, while the pretty little crimson female blossoms are produced close to the branch; they are completely sessile or unstalked. Now in most fruit trees, when a flower is fertilized, the fruit is produced exactly in the same place, with respect to the main tree, that the flower occupied; a Peach or Apricot, for instance, rests upon the branch which bore the flower. But in the Nut a different arrangement prevails. As soon as the flower is fertilized it starts away from the parent branch; a fresh branch is produced, bearing leaves and the Nut or Nuts at the end, so that the Nut is produced several inches away from the spot on which the flower originally was. I know of no other tree that produces its fruit in this way, nor do I know what special benefit to the plant arises from this arrangement.

Much folk-lore has gathered round the Hazel tree and the Nuts. The cracking of Nuts, with much fortune-telling connected therewith, was the favourite amusement on All Hallow's Eve (Oct. 31), so that the Eve was called Nutcrack Night. I believe the custom still exists; it certainly has not been very long abolished, for the Vicar of Wakefield and his neighbours "religiously cracked Nuts on All [116]Hallow's Eve." And in many places "an ancient custom prevailed of going a Nutting on Holy Rood Day (Sept. 14), which it was esteemed quite unlucky to omit."—Forster.[116:1]

A greater mystery connected with the Hazel is the divining rod, for the discovery of water and metals. This has always by preference been a forked Hazel-rod, though sometimes other rods are substituted. The belief in its power dates from a very early period, and is by no means extinct. The divining-rod is said to be still used in Cornwall, and firmly believed in; nor has this belief been confined to the uneducated. Even Linnæus confessed himself to be half a convert to it, and learned treatises have been written accepting the facts, and accounting for them by electricity or some other subtle natural agency. Most of us, however, will rather agree with Evelyn's cautious verdict, that the virtues attributed to the forked stick "made out so solemnly by the attestation of magistrates, and divers other learned and credible persons, who have critically examined matters of fact, is certainly next to a miracle, and requires a strong faith."


[115:1] "Hic fullus—a fylberd-tre."—Nominale, 15th cent.

"Fylberde, notte—Fillum."

"Filberde, tre—Phillis."—Promptorium Parvulorum.

"The Filbyrdes hangyng to the ground."—Squyr of Lowe Degre (37).

[116:1] See a long account of the connection of nuts with All Hallow's Eve in Hanson, "Med. ævi Calend." i. 363.


  Gonzalo. Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, long Heath, brown Furze, anything.
Tempest, act i, sc. 1 (70).

There are other passages in which the word Heath occurs in Shakespeare, but in none else is the flower referred to; the other references are to an open heath or common. And in this place no special Heath can be selected, unless by "long Heath" we suppose him to have meant the Ling (Calluna vulgaris). And this is most probable, for so Lyte calls it. "There is in this countrie two kindes of Heath, one which beareth the flowres alongst the stemmes, and is called Long Heath." But it is supposed by some that the correct reading is "Ling, Heath," &c., and in that case Heath will be a generic word, meaning any of the British [117] species (see Ling)]. Of British species there are five, and wherever they exist they are dearly prized as forming a rich element of beauty in our landscapes. They are found all over the British Islands, and they seem to be quite indifferent as to the place of their growth. They are equally beautiful in the extreme Highlands of Scotland, or on the Quantock and Exmoor Hills of the South—everywhere they clothe the hill-sides with a rich garment of purple that is wonderfully beautiful, whether seen under the full influence of the brightest sunshine, or under the dark shadows of the blackest thundercloud. And the botanical geography of the Heath tribe is very remarkable; it is found over the whole of Europe, in Northern Asia, and in Northern Africa. Then the tribe takes a curious leap, being found in immense abundance, both of species and individuals, in Southern Africa, while it is entirely absent from North and South America. Not a single species has been found in the New World. A few plants of Calluna vulgaris have been found in Newfoundland and Massachusetts, but that is not a true Heath.

As a garden plant the Heath has been strangely neglected. Many of the species are completely hardy, and will make pretty evergreen bushes of from 2ft. to 4ft. high, but they are better if kept close-grown by constant clipping. The species best suited for this treatment are E. Mediterranea, E. arborea, and E. codonoides. Of the more humble-growing species, E. vagans (the Cornish Heath) will grow easily in most gardens, though in its native habitat it is confined to the serpentine formation; nor must we omit E. herbacea, which also will grow anywhere, and, if clipped yearly after flowering, will make a most beautiful border to any flower-bed; or it may be used more extensively, as it is at Doddington Park, in Gloucestershire (Sir Gerald Codrington's), where there is a large space in front of the house, several yards square, entirely filled with E. herbacea. When this is in flower (and it is so for nearly two months, or sometimes more) the effect, as seen from above, is of the richest Turkey carpet, but of such a colour and harmony as no Turkey carpet ever attained.

Several of the South-European Heaths were cultivated in England in Shakespeare's time.



  Ghost. Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed Hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ear did pou
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That swift as quicksilver it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body,
And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood; so did it mine;
And a most instant tetter bark'd about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.
Hamlet, act i, sc. 5 (61).

Before and in the time of Shakespeare other writers had spoken of the narcotic and poisonous effects of Heben, Hebenon, or Hebona. Gower says—

"Ful of delite,
Slepe hath his hous, and of his couche,
Within his chambre if I shall touche,
Of Hebenus that slepy tre
The bordes all aboute be."

Conf. Aman., lib. quart. (ii. 103, Paulli).

Spenser says—

"Faire Venus sonne, . . .
Lay now thy deadly Heben bow apart."

F. Q., introd., st. 3.

"There (in Mammon's garden) Cypresse grew in greatest store,
And trees of bitter gall and Heben sad."

F. Q., book ii, c. viij, st. 17.

And he speaks of a "speare of Heben wood," and "a Heben launce." Marlowe, a contemporary and friend of Shakespeare, makes Barabas curse his daughter with—

"In few the blood of Hydra, Lerna's bane,
The juice of Hebon, and Cocytus breath,
And all the poison of the Stygian pool."

Jew of Malta, act iii, st. 4.

[119] It may be taken for granted that all these authors allude to the same tree, but what tree is meant has sorely puzzled the commentators. Some naturally suggested the Ebony, and this view is supported by the respectable names of Archdeacon Nares, Douce, Schmidt, and Dyce. A larger number pronounced with little hesitation in favour of Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger), the poisonous qualities of which were familiar to the contemporaries of Shakespeare, and were supposed by most of the botanical writers of his day (and on the authority of Pliny) to be communicated by being poured into the ears. But the Henbane is not a tree, as Gower's "Hebenus" and Spenser's "Heben" certainly were; and though it will satisfy some of the requirements of the plant named by Shakespeare, it will not satisfy all.[119:1]

It might have been supposed that the difficulty would at once have been cleared up by reference to the accounts of the death of Hamlet's father, as given by Saxo Grammaticus, and the old "Hystorie of Hamblet," but neither of these writers attribute his death to poison.[119:2]

The question has lately been very much narrowed and satisfactorily settled (for the present, certainly, and probably altogether) by Dr. Nicholson and the Rev. W. A. Harrison. These gentlemen have decided that the true reading is Hebona, and that Hebona is the Yew. Their views are stated at full length in two exhaustive papers contributed to the New Shakespeare Society, and published in their "Transactions."[119:3] The full argument is too long for insertion here, [120]and my readers will thank me for referring them to the papers in the "Transactions." The main arguments are based on three facts: 1. That in nearly all the northern nations (including, of course, Denmark) the name of the Yew is more or less like Heben. 2. That all the effects attributed by Shakespeare to the action of Hebona are described as arising from Yew-poisoning by different medical writers, some of them contemporary with him, and some writing with later experiences. 3. That the post mortem appearances after Yew-poisoning and after snake-poisoning are very similar, and it was "given out, that sleeping in my orchard, a serpent stung me."

But it may well be asked, How could Shakespeare have known of all these effects, which (as far as our present search has discovered) are not named by any one writer of his time, and some of which have only been made public from the results of Yew-poisoning since his day? I think the question can be answered in a very simple way. The effects are described with such marked minuteness that it seems to me not only very probable, but almost certain, that Shakespeare must have been an eye-witness of a case of Yew-poisoning, and that what he saw had been so photographed on his mind that he took the first opportunity that presented itself to reproduce the picture. With his usual grand contempt for perfect accuracy he did not hesitate to sweep aside at once the strict historical records of the old king's death, and in its place to paint for us a cold-blooded murder carried out by means which he knew from his personal experience to be possible, and which he felt himself able to describe with a minuteness which his knowledge of his audiences assured him would not be out of place even in that great tragedy.

The objection to the Yew theory of Hebona, that the Yew is named by Shakespeare under its more usual name, is no real objection. On the same ground Ebony and Henbane must be excluded; together with Gilliflowers, which he elsewhere speaks of as Carnations; and Woodbine, because he also speaks of Honeysuckle.


[118:1] Hebona is the reading of the First Quarto (1603) and of the Second Quarto (1604), and is decided by the critics to be the true reading.

[119:1] Mr. Beisley suggests Enoron, i.e., Nightshade, which Mr. Dyce describes as "a villainous conjecture." In my first edition I expressed my belief that Hebenon was either Henbane or a general term for a deadly poisonous plant; but I had not then seen Dr. Nicholson's and Mr. Harrison's papers.

[119:2] Saxo Grammaticus: "Ubi datus parricidio locus, cruenta manu mentis libidinem satiavit; trucidati quoque fratris uxore potitus, incestum parricidio adjecit."—Historiæ Danorum, lib. iii, fol. xxvii, Ed. 1514.

"The Historye of Hamblet, Prince of Denmark:" Fergon "having secretly assembled certain men and perceiving himself strong enough to execute his enterprise, Horvendile, his brother, being at a banquet with his friends, sodainely set upon him, where he slewe him as treacherously, as cunningly he purged himselfe of so detestable a murder to his subjects."—Collier's Shakespeare's Library.

[119:3] "Hamlet's Cursed Hebenon," by Dr. R. B. Nicholson, M.D. (read Nov. 14, 1879). "Hamlet's Juice of Cursed Hebona," by Rev. W. A. Harrison, M.A. (read May 12, 1882). Both the papers are published in the "Transactions" of the Society.



(1) Burgundy. Her fallow leas
The Darnel, Hemlock, and rank Fumitory
Doth root upon.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (44).
(2) 3rd Witch. Root of Hemlock digg'd i' the dark.
Macbeth, act iv, sc. 1 (25).
(3) Cordelia. Crown'd with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds,
With Burdocks, Hemlock, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 4 (3).

One of the most poisonous of a suspicious family (the Umbelliferæ), "the great Hemlocke doubtlesse is not possessed of any one good facultie, as appeareth by his lothsome smell and other apparent signes," and with this evil character the Hemlock was considered to be only fit for an ingredient of witches' broth—

"I ha' been plucking (plants among)
Hemlock, Henbane, Adder's Tongue,
Nightshade, Moonwort, Leppard's-bane."

Ben Jonson, Witches' Song in the Masque of the Queens.

Yet the Hemlock adds largely to the beauty of our hedgerows; its spotted tall stems and its finely cut leaves make it a handsome weed, and the dead stems and dried umbels are marked features in the winter appearance of the hedges. As a poison it has an evil notoriety, being supposed to be the poison by which Socrates was put to death, though this is not quite certain. It is not, however, altogether a useless plant—"It is a valuable medicinal plant, and in autumn the ripened stem is cut into pieces to make reeds for worsted thread."—Johnston.


(1) Pistol. Let gallows gape for dog; let man go free,
And let not Hemp his windpipe suffocate.
Henry V, act iii, sc. 6 (45).
(2) Chorus. And in them behold
Upon the Hempen tackle ship-boys climbing.
Henry V, act iii, chorus (7).
[122](3) Puck. What Hempen homespuns have we swaggering here?
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (79).
(4) Cade. Ye shall have a Hempen caudle then, and the pap of a hatchet.
2nd Henry VI, act iv, sc. 7 (95).
(5) Hostess. Thou Hemp-seed.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 1 (64).

In all these passages, except the last, the reference is to rope made from Hemp, and not to the Hemp plant, and it is very probable that Shakespeare never saw the plant. It was introduced into England long before his time, and largely cultivated, but only in few parts of England, and chiefly in the eastern counties. I do not find that it was cultivated in gardens in his time, but it is a plant well deserving a place in any garden, and is especially suitable from its height and regular growth, for the central plant of a flower-bed. It is supposed to be a native of India, and seems capable of cultivation in almost any climate.[122:1]

The name has a curious history. "The Greek κάνναβις, and Latin cannabis, are both identical with the Sanscrit kanam, as well as with the German hanf, and the English hemp. More directly from cannabis comes canvas, made up of hemp or flax, and canvass, to discuss: i.e., sift a question; metaphorically from the use of hempen sieves or sifters."—Birdwood's Handbook to the Indian Court, p. 23.


[122:1] In Shakespeare's time the vulgar name for Hemp was Neckweed, and there is a curious account of it under that name by William Bullein, in "The Booke of Compounds," f. 68.



  Song. Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green Holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the Holly!
This life is most jolly.
As You Like It, act ii, sc. 7 (180).

[123] From this single notice of the Holly in Shakespeare, and from the slight account of it in Gerard, we might conclude that the plant was not the favourite in the sixteenth century that it is in the nineteenth; but this would be a mistake. The Holly entered largely into the old Christmas carols.

Comes in like a bride,
With Holly and Ivy clad"—

and it was from the earliest times used for the decoration of houses and churches at Christmas. It does not, however, derive its name from this circumstance, though it was anciently spelt "holy," or called the "holy tree," for the name comes from a very different source, and is identical with "holm," which, indeed, was its name in the time of Gerard and Parkinson, and is still its name in some parts of England, though it has almost lost its other old name of Hulver,[123:1] except in the eastern counties, where the word is still in use. But as an ornamental tree it does not seem to have been much valued, though in the next century Evelyn is loud in the praises of this "incomparable tree," and admired it both for its beauty and its use. It is certainly the handsomest of our native evergreens, and is said to be finer in England than in any other country; and as seen growing in its wild habitats in our forests, as it may be seen in the New Forest and the Forest of Dean, it stands without a rival, equally beautiful in summer and in winter; in summer its bright glossy leaves shining out distinctly in the midst of any surrounding greenery, while as "the Holly that outdares cold winter's ire" (Browne), it is the very emblem of bright cheerfulness, with its foliage uninjured in the most severe weather, and its rich coral berries, sometimes borne in the greatest profusion, delighting us with their brilliancy and beauty. And as a garden shrub, the Holly still holds its own, after all the fine exotic shrubs that have been introduced into our gardens during the present century. It can be grown as a single shrub, or it may be clipped, and will then form the best and the most impregnable hedge that can be grown. No other [124]plant will compare with it as a hedge plant, if it be only properly attended to, and we can understand Evelyn's pride in his "glorious and refreshing object," a Holly hedge 160ft. in length, 7ft. in height, and 5ft. in diameter, which he could show in his "poor gardens at any time of the year, glittering with its armed and vernished leaves," and "blushing with their natural corale." Nor need we be confined to plain green in such a hedge. The Holly runs into a great many varieties, with the leaves of all shapes and sizes, and blotched and variegated in different fashions and colours. All of these seem to be comparatively modern. In the time of Gerard and Parkinson there seems to have been only the one typical species, and perhaps the Hedgehog Holly.

I may finish the notice of the Holly by quoting two most remarkable uses of the tree mentioned by Parkinson: "With the flowers of Holly, saith Pliny from Pythagoras, water is made ice; and againe, a staffe of the tree throwne at any beast, although it fall short by his defect that threw it, will flye to him, as he lyeth still, by the speciall property of the tree." He may well add—"This I here relate that you may understand the fond and vain conceit of those times, which I would to God we were not in these dayes tainted withal."


[123:1] "Hulwur-tre (huluyr), hulmus, hulcus aut huscus."—Promptorium Parvulorum.


  Margaret. Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus, and lay it to your heart; it is the only thing for a qualm.
  Hero. There thou prickest her with a Thistle.
  Beatrice. Benedictus! Why Benedictus? You have some moral in this Benedictus.
  Margaret. Moral! No, by my troth, I have no moral meaning: I meant plain Holy Thistle.
Much Ado About Nothing, act iii, sc. 4 (73).

The Carduus benedictus, or Blessed Thistle, is a handsome annual from the South of Europe, and obtained its name from its high reputation as a heal-all, being supposed [125]even to cure the plague, which was the highest praise that could be given to a medicine in those days. It is mentioned in all the treatises on the Plague, and especially by Thomas Brasbridge, who, in 1578, published his "Poore Mans Jewell, that is to say, a Treatise of the Pestilence: vnto which is annexed a declaration of the vertues of the Hearbes Carduus Benedictus and Angelica." This little book Shakespeare may have seen; it speaks of the virtues of the "distilled" leaves: it says, "it helpeth the hart," "expelleth all poyson taken in at the mouth and other corruption that doth hurt and annoye the hart," and that "the juyce of it is outwardly applied to the bodie" ("lay it to your heart"), and concludes, "therefore I counsell all them that have Gardens to nourish it, that they may have it always to their own use, and the use of their neighbours that lacke it." The plant has long lost this high character.

HONEYSTALKS, see Clover.


(1) Hero. And bid her steal into the pleached bower
Where Honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter.
Much Ado About Nothing, act iii, sc. 1 (7).
(2) Ursula. So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the Woodbine coverture.
Ibid. (29).
(3) Titania. Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.
So doth the Woodbine the sweet Honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the Female Ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the Elm.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (47).
(4) Hostess. O thou Honeysuckle villain.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 1 (52).
(5) Oberon. I know a bank where the wild Thyme blows,
Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious Woodbine.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (249).

[126] I have joined together here the Woodbine and the Honeysuckle, because there can be little doubt that in Shakespeare's time the two names belonged to the same plant,[126:1] and that the Woodbine was (where the two names were at all discriminated, as in No. 3), applied to the plant generally, and Honeysuckle to the flower. This seems very clear by comparing together Nos. 1 and 2. In earlier writings the name was applied very loosely to almost any creeping or climbing plant. In an Anglo-Saxon Vocabulary of the eleventh century it is applied to the Wild Clematis ("Viticella—Weoden-binde"); while in Archbishop Ælfric's "Vocabulary" of the tenth century it is applied to the Hedera nigra, which may be either the Common or the Ground Ivy ("Hedera nigra—Wude-binde"); and in the Herbarium and Leechdom books of the twelfth century it is applied to the Capparis or Caper-plant, by which, however (as Mr. Cockayne considers), the Convolvulus Sepium is meant. After Shakespeare's time again the words began to be used confusedly. Milton does not seem to have been very clear in the matter. In "Paradise Lost" he makes our first parents "wind the Woodbine round this arbour" (perhaps he had Shakespeare's arbour in his mind); and in "Comus" he tells us of—

"A bank
With ivy-canopied, and interwove
With flaunting Honeysuckle."[126:2]

While in "Lycidas" he tells of—

"The Musk Rose and the well-attired Woodbine."

And we can scarcely suppose that he would apply two such contrary epithets as "flaunting" and "well-attired" to the same plant. And now the name, as of old, is used with great uncertainty, and I have heard it applied to many [127]plants, and especially to the small sweet-scented Clematis (C. flammula).

But with the Honeysuckle there is no such difficulty. The name is an old one, and in its earliest use was no doubt indifferently applied to many sweet-scented flowers (the Primrose amongst them); but it was soon attached exclusively to our own sweet Honeysuckle of the woods and hedges. We have two native species (Lonicera periclymenum and L. xylosteum), and there are about eighty exotic species, but none of them sweeter or prettier than our own, which, besides its fragrant flowers, has pretty, fleshy, red fruit.

The Honeysuckle has ever been the emblem of firm and fast affection—as it climbs round any tree or bush, that is near it, not only clinging to it faster than Ivy, but keeping its hold so tight as to leave its mark in deep furrows on the tree that has supported it. The old writers are fond of alluding to this. Bullein in "The Book of Simples," 1562, says very prettily, "Oh, how swete and pleasant is Wood-binde, in woodes or arbours, after a tender, soft rain: and how friendly doe this herbe, if I maie so name it, imbrace the bodies, armes, and branches of trees, with his long winding stalkes, and tender leaves, openyng or spreading forthe his swete Lillis, like ladie's fingers, emōg the thornes or bushes," and there is no doubt from the context that he is here referring to the Honeysuckle. Chaucer gives the crown of Woodbine to those who were constant in love—

"And tho that weare chaplets on their hede
Of fresh Woodbine, be such as never were
To love untrue in word, thought, ne dede,
But aye stedfast; ne for pleasaunce ne fere,
Though that they should their hertes al to-tere,
Would never flit, but ever were stedfast
Till that there lives there asunder brast."

The Flower and the Leaf.

The two last lines well describe the fast union between the Honeysuckle and its mated tree.



"Woodbines of sweet honey full."

Beaumont and Fletcher, Tragedy of Valentinian.

[126:2] Milton probably took the idea from Theocritus—

"Ivy reaches up and climbs,
Gilded with blossom-dust about its lip;
Round which a Woodbine wreathes itself, and flaunts
Her saffron fruitage."—Idyll i. (Calverley).



  Iago. 'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant Nettles or sow Lettuce, set Hyssop, and weed up Thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness, or maimed with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills.
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (322).

We should scarcely expect such a lesson of wisdom drawn from the simple herb-garden in the mouth of the greatest knave and villain in the whole range of Shakespeare's writings. It was the preaching of a deep hypocrite, and while we hate the preacher we thank him for his lesson.[128:1]

The Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is not a British plant, but it was held in high esteem in Shakespeare's time. Spenser spoke of it as—

"Sharp Isope good for green wounds remedies"—

and Gerard grew in his garden five or six different species or varieties. He does not tell us where his plants came from, and perhaps he did not know. It comes chiefly from Austria and Siberia; yet Greene in his "Philomela," 1615, speaks of "the Hyssop growing in America, that is liked of strangers for the smell, and hated of the inhabitants for the operation, being as prejudicial to the one as delightsome to the other." It is now very little cultivated, for it is not a plant of much beauty, and its medicinal properties are not much esteemed; yet it is a plant that must always have an interest to readers of the Bible; for there it comes before us as the plant of purification, as the plant of which the study was not beneath the wisdom of Solomon, and especially [129]as the plant that added to the cruelties of the Crucifixion. Whether the Hyssop of Scripture is the Hyssopus officinalis is still a question, but at the present time the most modern research has decided that it is.


[128:1] It seems likely from the following passage from Lily's "Euphues, the anatomy of wit," 1617, that the plants were not named at random by Iago, but that there was some connection between them. "Good gardeners, in their curious knots, mixe Isope with Time, as aiders the one with the others; the one being dry, the other moist." The gardeners of the sixteenth century had a firm belief in the sympathies and antipathies of plants.


  Banquo. Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the Insane Root
That takes the reason prisoner?
Macbeth, act i, sc. 3 (83).

It is very possible that Shakespeare had no particular plant in view, but simply referred to any of the many narcotic plants which, when given in excess, would "take the reason prisoner." The critics have suggested many plants—the Hemlock, the Henbane, the Belladonna, the Mandrake, &c., each one strengthening his opinion from coeval writers. In this uncertainty I should incline to the Henbane from the following description by Gerard and Lyte. "This herbe is called . . . of Apuleia-Mania" (Lyte). "Henbane is called . . . of Pythagoras, Zoroaster, and Apuleius, Insana" (Gerard).


(1) Titania. The female Ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the Elm.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (48).
(2) Prospero. That now he was
The Ivy which had hid my princely trunk
And suck'd my verdure out on't.
Tempest, act i, sc. 2 (85).
(3) Adriana. If ought possess thee from me, it is dross,
Usurping Ivy, Brier, or idle Moss.
Comedy of Errors, act ii, sc. 2 (179).
[130](4) Shepherd. They have scared away two of my best sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find than the master; if anywhere I have them 'tis by the seaside browsing of Ivy.[130:1]
Winter's Tale, act iii, sc. 3 (66).
(5) Perithores. His head's yellow,
Hard hayr'd, and curl'd, thicke twin'd like Ivy tops,
Not to undoe with thunder.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 2 (115).

The rich evergreen of "the Ivy never sear" (Milton) recommended it to the Romans to be joined with the Bay in the chaplets of poets—

"Hanc sine tempora circum
Inter victrices Hederam tibi serpere lauros."—Virgil.
"Seu condis amabile carmen
Prima feres Hederæ victricis præmia."—Horace.

And in mediæval times it was used with Holly for Christmas decorations, so that Bullein called it "the womens Christmas Herbe." But the old writers always assumed a curious rivalry between the two—

"Holly and Ivy made a great party
Who should have the mastery
In lands where they go."

And there is a well-known carol of the time of Henry VI., which tells of the contest between the two, and of the mastery of the Holly; it is in eight stanzas, of which I extract the last four—

"Holly he hath berries as red as any Rose,
The foresters, the hunters, keep them from the does;
Ivy she hath berries as black as any Sloe,
There come the owls and eat them as they go;
Holly he hath birds, a full fair flock,
The nightingale, the popinjay, the gentle laverock;
Good Ivy, say to us, what birds hast thou?
None but the owlet that cries 'How, how!'"

[131] Thus the Ivy was not allowed the same honour inside the houses of our ancestors as the Holly, but it held its place outside the houses as a sign of good cheer to be had within. The custom is now extinct, but formerly an Ivy bush (called a tod of Ivy) was universally hung out in front of taverns in England, as it still is in Brittany and Normandy. Hence arose two proverbs—"Good wine needs no bush," i.e., the reputation is sufficiently good without further advertisement; and "An owl in an Ivy bush," as "perhaps denoting originally the union of wisdom or prudence with conviviality, as 'Be merry and wise.'"—Nares.

The Ivy was a plant as much admired by our grandfathers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as it is now by us. Spenser was evidently fond of it—

"And nigh thereto a little chappel stoode
Which being all with Yvy overspread
Deckt all the roofe, and shadowing the rode
Seem'd like a grove faire branched over hed."

F. Q., vi, v, 25.

In another place he speaks of it as—

"Wanton Yvie, flouring fayre."—F. Q., ii, v, 29.

And in another place—

"Amongst the rest the clambering Ivie grew
Knitting his wanton armes with grasping hold,
Least that the Poplar happely should rew
Her brother's strokes, whose boughs she doth enfold
With her lythe twigs till they the top survew,
And paint with pallid greene her buds of gold."

Virgil's Gnat.

Chaucer describes it as—

"The erbe Ivie that groweth in our yard that mery is."

And in the same poem he prettily describes it as—

"The pallid Ivie building his own bowre."

As a wild plant, the Ivy is found in Europe, Asia, and Africa, but not in America, and wherever it is found it loves to cover old walls and buildings, and trees of every sort, [132]with its close and rich drapery and clusters of black fruit,[132:1] and where it once establishes itself it is always beautiful, but not always harmless. Both on trees and buildings it requires very close watching. It will very soon destroy soft-wooded trees, such as the Poplar and the Ash, by its tight embrace, not by sucking out the sap, but by preventing the outward growth of the shoots, and checking—and at length preventing—the flow of sap; and in buildings it is no doubt beneficial as long as it is closely watched and kept in place, but if allowed to drive its roots into joints, or to grow under roofs, the swelling roots and branches will soon displace any masonry, and cause immense mischief.

We have only one species of Ivy in England, and there are only two real species recognized by present botanists, but there are infinite varieties, and many of them very beautiful. These variegated Ivies were known to the Greeks and Romans, and were highly prized by them, one especially with white fruit (at present not known) was the type of beauty. No higher praise could be given to a beauty than that she was "Hedera formosior alba." These varieties are scarcely mentioned by Gerard and Parkinson, and probably were not much valued; they are now in greater repute, and nothing will surpass them for rapidly and effectually covering any bare spaces.

I need scarcely add that the Ivy is so completely hardy that it will grow in any aspect and in any soil; that its flowers are the staple food of bees in the late autumn; and that all the varieties grow easily from cuttings at almost any time of the year.


[130:1] Sheep feeding on Ivy—

"My sheep have Honeysuckle bloom for pasture; Ivy grows
In multitudes around them, and blossoms like the Rose."

Theocritus, Idyll v. (Calverley).


"The Ivy-mesh
Shading the Ethiop berries."—Keats, Endymion.


  Burgundy. And nothing teems
But hateful Docks, rough Thistles, Kecksies, Burs,
Losing both beauty and utility.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (51).

Kecksies or Kecks are the dried and withered stems of the Hemlock, and the name is occasionally applied to the [133]living plant. It seems also to have been used for any dry weeds—

"All the wyves of Tottenham came to se that syght,
With Wyspes, and Kexis, and ryschys ther lyght,
To fech hom ther husbandes, that wer tham trouth plyght."

"The Tournament of Tottenham," in
Ritson's Ancient Songs and Ballads.


  Lysander. Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hindering Knot-grass made;
You bead, you Acorn.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 2 (328).

The Knot-grass is the Polygonum aviculare, a British weed, low, straggling, and many-jointed, hence its name of Knot-grass. There is no doubt that this is the plant meant, and its connection with a dwarf is explained by the belief, probably derived from some unrecorded character detected by the "doctrine of signatures," that the growth of children could be stopped by a diet of Knot-grass. Steevens quotes Beaumont and Fletcher to this effect, and this will probably explain the epithet "hindering." But there may be another explanation. Johnston tells us that in the north, "being difficult to cut in the harvest time, or to pull in the process of weeding, it has obtained the sobriquet of the Deil's-lingels." From this it may well be called "hindering," just as the Ononis, from the same habit of catching the plough and harrow, has obtained the prettier name of "Rest-harrow."

But though Shakespeare's Knot-grass is undoubtedly the Polygonum, yet the name was also given to another plant, for this cannot be the plant mentioned by Milton—

"The chewing flocks
Had ta'en their supper on the savoury herb
Of Knot-grass dew-besprent."—Comus.

In this case it must be one of the pasture Grasses, and may be Agrostis stolonifera, as it is said to be in Aubrey's "Natural History of Wilts" (Dr. Prior).



  Song of Spring. And Lady-smocks all silver-white,
And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
Do paint the meadows with delight.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (905).

Lady-smocks are the flowers of Cardamine pratensis, the pretty early meadow flower of which children are so fond, and of which the popularity is shown by its many names: Lady-smocks, Cuckoo-flower,[134:1] Meadow Cress, Pinks, Spinks, Bog-spinks, and May-flower, and "in Northfolke, Canterbury Bells." The origin of the name is not very clear. It is generally explained from the resemblance of the flowers to smocks hung out to dry, but the resemblance seems to me rather far-fetched. According to another explanation, "the Lady-smock, a corruption of Our Lady's-smock, is so called from its first flowering about Lady-tide. It is a pretty purplish white, tetradynamous plant, which blows from Lady-tide till the end of May, and which during the latter end of April covers the moist meadows with its silvery-white, which looks at a distance like a white sheet spread over the fields."—Circle of the Seasons. Those who adopt this view called the plant Our Lady's-smock, but I cannot find that name in any old writers. Drayton, coeval with Shakespeare, says—

"Some to grace the show,
Of Lady-smocks most white do rob each neighbouring mead,
Wherewith their loose locks most curiously they braid."

And Isaac Walton, in the next century, drew that pleasant picture of himself sitting quietly by the waterside—"looking down the meadows I could see here a boy gathering Lilies and Lady-smocks, and there a girl cropping Culverkeys and Cowslips."[134:2]

[135]There is a double variety of the Lady-smock which makes a handsome garden plant, and there is a remarkable botanical curiosity connected with the plant which should be noticed. The plant often produces in the autumn small plants upon the leaves, and by the means of these little parasites the plant is increased, and even if the leaves are detached from the plant, and laid upon moist congenial soil, young plants will be produced. This is a process that is well known to gardeners in the propagation of Begonias, and it is familiar to us in the proliferous Ferns, where young plants are produced on the surface or tips of the fronds; and Dr. Masters records "the same condition as a teratological occurrence in the leaves of Hyacinthus Pouzolsii, Drosera intermedia, Arabis pumila, Chelidonum majus, Chirita Sinensis, Epicia bicolor, Zamia, &c."—Vegetable Teratology, p. 170.


[134:1] "Ladies-smock.—A kind of water cresses, of whose virtue it partakes; and it is otherwise called Cuckoo-flower."—Phillips, World of Words, 1696.

[134:2] Culverkeys is mentioned in Dennis' "Secrets of Angling" as a meadow flower: "pale Ganderglas, and azor Culverkayes." It is also mentioned by Aubrey, in his "Natural History of Wilts;" but the name is found in no other writer, and is now extinct. It is difficult to say what plant is meant; many have been suggested: the Columbine, the Meadow Orchis, the Bluebell, &c. I think it must be the Meadow Geranium, which is certainly "azor" almost beyond any other British plant. "Culver" is a dove or pigeon, and "keyes" or "kayes" are the seeds of a plant, and the seeds of the Geranium were all likened to the claws of birds, so that our British species is called G. columbinum.


  Larks heels trim.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Introd. song.

Lark's heels is one of the many names of the Garden Delphinium, otherwise called Larkspur, Larksclaw, Larkstoes.


(1) Clarence. To whom the heavens in thy nativity
Adjudged an Olive branch and Laurel crown
As likely to be blest in peace and war.
3rd Henry VI, act iv, sc. 6 (33).
[136](2) Titus. Cometh Andronicus bound with Laurel boughs.
Titus Andronicus, act i, sc. 1 (74).
(3) Cleopatra. Upon your sword
Sit Laurel victory.
Antony and Cleopatra, act i, sc. 3 (99).
(4) Ulysses. Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, Laurels.
Troilus and Cressida, act i, sc. 3 (107).

This is one of the plants which Shakespeare borrowed from the classical writers; it is not the Laurel of our day, which was not introduced till after his death,[136:1] but the Laurea Apollinis, the Laurea Delphica—

"The Laurel meed of mightie conquerors
And poet's sage,"—Spenser;

that is, the Bay. This is the tree mentioned by Gower—

"This Daphne into a Lorer tre
Was turned, whiche is ever grene,
In token, as yet it may be sene,
That she shalle dwelle a maiden stille."

Conf. Aman. lib. terc.

There can be little doubt that the Laurel of Chaucer also was the Bay, the—

"Fresh grene Laurer tree
That gave so passing a delicious smelle
According to the Eglantere ful welle."

He also spoke of it as the emblem of enduring freshness—

"Myn herte and al my lymes be as grene
As Laurer, through the yeer is for to seene."

The Marchaundes Tale.

The Laurel in Lyte's "Herbal" (the Lauriel or Lourye) seems to be the Daphne Laureola. But unconsciously Chaucer and Shakespeare spoke with more botanical accuracy than we do, the Bay being a true Laurel, while the Laurel is a Cherry (see Bay).


[136:1] The first Laurel grown in Europe was grown by Clusius in 1576.



  Perdita. Here's flowers for you;
Hot Lavender, Mints, Savory, Marjoram.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (103).

The mention of Lavender always recalls Walton's pleasant picture of "an honest ale-house, where we shall find a cleanly room, Lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck against the wall, and my hostess, I may tell you, is both cleanly and handsome and civil." Whether it is from this familiar, old-fashioned picture, or from some inherent charm in the plant, it is hard to say, but it is certain that the smell of Lavender is always associated with cleanliness and freshness.[137:1]

It is not a British plant, but is a native of the South of Europe in dry and barren places, and it was introduced into England in the sixteenth century, but it probably was not a common plant in Shakespeare's time, for though it is mentioned by Spenser as "the Lavender still gray" ("Muiopotmos"), and by Gerard as growing in his garden, it is not mentioned by Bacon in his list of sweet-smelling plants. The fine aromatic smell is found in all parts of the shrub, but the essential oil is only produced from the flowers. As a garden plant it is found in every garden, but its growth as an extensive field crop is chiefly confined to the neighbourhood of Mitcham and Carshalton in Surrey; and there at the time of the picking of the flowers, and still more in the later autumn when the old woody plants are burned, the air for a long distance is strongly and most pleasantly impregnated with the delicate perfume.


[137:1] The very name suggests this association. Lavender is the English form of the Latin name, Lavendula; "lavendula autem dicta quoniam magnum vectigal Genevensibus mercatoribus præbet quotannis in Africam eam ferentibus, ubi lavandis fovendisque corporibus Lybes ea utuntur, nec nisi decocto ejus abluti, mane domo egrediuntur."—Stephani Libellus de re Hortensi, 1536, p. 54. The old form of our "laundress" was "a Lavendre."




(1) Thisbe. His eyes were green as Leeks.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act v, sc. 1 (342).
(2) Pistol. Tell him I'll knock his Leek about his pate upon Saint Davy's Day.
Henry V, act iv, sc. 1 (54).
(3) Fluellen. If your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where Leeks did grow, wearing Leeks in their Monmouth caps; which your majesty knows to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the Leek upon Saint Tavy's Day.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 7 (101).
(4)   In act v, sc. 1, is the encounter between Fluellen and Pistol, when he makes the bully eat the Leek; this causes such frequent mention of the Leek that it would be necessary to extract the whole scene, which, therefore, I will simply refer to in this way.

We can scarcely understand the very high value that was placed on Leeks in olden times. By the Egyptians the plant was almost considered sacred, "Porrum et cæpe nefas violare et frangere morsu" (Juvenal); we know how Leeks were relished in Egypt by the Israelites; and among the Greeks they "appear to have constituted so important a part in ancient gardens, that the term πρασιά, or a bed, derived its name from πρασον, the Greek word for Onion," or Leek[138:1] (Daubeny); while among the Anglo-Saxons it was very much the same. The name is pure Anglo-Saxon, and originally meant any vegetable; then it was restricted to any bulbous vegetable, before it was finally further restricted to our Leek; and "its importance was considered so much above that of any other vegetable, that leac-tun, the Leek-garden, became the common name of the kitchen garden, and leac-ward, the Leek-keeper, was used to designate the gardener" (Wright). The plant in those days gave its name [139]to the Broad Leek which is our present Leek, the Yne Leek or Onion, the Garleek (Garlick), and others of the same tribe, while it was applied to other plants of very different families, as the Hollow Leek (Corydalis cava), and the House Leek (Sempervivum tectorum).

It seems to have been considered the hardiest of all flowers. In the account of the Great Frost of 1608, "this one infallible token" is given in proof of its severity. "The Leek whose courage hath ever been so undaunted that he hath borne up his lusty head in all storms, and could never be compelled to shrink for hail, snow, frost, or showers, is now by the violence and cruelty of this weather beaten unto the earth, being rotted, dead, disgraced, and trod upon."

Its popularity still continues among the Welsh, by whom it is still, I believe, very largely cultivated; but it does not seem to have been much valued in England in Shakespeare's time, for Gerard has but little to say of its virtues, but much of its "hurts." "It hateth the body, ingendreth naughty blood, causeth troublesome and terrible dreames, offendeth the eyes, dulleth the sight, &c." Nor does Parkinson give a much more favourable account. "Our dainty eye now refuseth them wholly, in all sorts except the poorest; they are used with us sometimes in Lent to make pottage, and is a great and generall feeding in Wales with the vulgar gentlemen." It was even used as the proverbial expression of worthlessness, as in the "Roumaunt of the Rose," where the author says, speaking of "Phiciciens and Advocates"—

"For by her wille, without leese,
Everi man shulde be seke,
And though they die, they settle not a Leke."

And by Chaucer—

"And other suche, deare ynough a Leeke."

Prologue of the Chanoune's Tale.

"The beste song that ever was made
Ys not worth a Leky's blade,
But men will tend ther tille."

The Child of Bristowe.


[138:1] For a testimony of the high value placed on the Leek by the Greeks see a poem on Μῶλυ, in "Anonymi Carmen de Herbis" in the "Poetæ Bucolici et didactici."



  Biron. A Lemon.
  Longaville. Stuck with Cloves.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (654).

See Orange and Cloves.


  Iago. If we will plant Nettles or sow Lettuce. (See Hyssop.)
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (324).

This excellent vegetable with its Latin name probably came to us from the Romans.

"Letuce of lac derivyed is perchaunce;
For milk it hath or yeveth abundaunce."

Palladius on Husbandrie, ii, 216 (15th cent.) E. E. Text Soc.

It was cultivated by the Anglo-Saxons, who showed their knowledge of its narcotic qualities by giving it the name of Sleepwort; it is mentioned by Spenser as "cold Lettuce" ("Muiopotmos"). And in Shakespeare's time the sorts cultivated were very similar to, and probably as good as, ours.


(1) Iris. Thy banks with Pioned and Lilied[140:1] brims.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (64).
(2) Launce. Look you, she is as white as a Lily and as small as a wand.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, act ii, sc. 3 (22).
(3) Julia. The air hath starved the Roses in her cheeks,
And pinch'd the Lily-tincture of her face.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 4 (160).
(4) Flute. Most radiant Pyramus, most Lily-white of hue.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (94).
(5) Thisbe. These Lily lips.
Ibid., act v, sc. 1 (337).
[141](6) Perdita. Lilies of all kinds,
The Flower-de-luce being one!
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (126).
(7) Princess. Now by my maiden honour, yet as pure
As the unsullied Lily.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (351).
(8) Queen Katharine. Like the Lily
That once was mistress of the field and flourish'd,
I'll hang my head, and perish.
Henry VIII, act iii, sc. 1 (151).
(9) Cranmer. Yet a virgin,
A most unspotted Lily shall she pass
To the ground.
Ibid., act v, sc. 5 (61).
(10) Troilus. Give me swift transportance to those fields,
Where I may wallow in the Lily beds
Proposed for the deserver.
Troilus and Cressida, act iii, sc. 2 (12).
(11) Marcus. O, had the monster seen those Lily hands
Tremble, like Aspen leaves, upon a lute.
Titus Andronicus, act ii, sc. 4 (44).
(12) Titus. Fresh tears
Stood on her cheeks as doth the honey-dew
Upon a gather'd Lily almost wither'd.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 1 (111).
(13) Iachimo. How bravely thou becomest thy bed, fresh Lily!
Cymbeline, act ii, sc. 2 (15).
(14) Guiderius. O sweetest, fairest Lily!
My brother wears thee not the one half so well,
As when thou grew'st thyself.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 2 (201).
(15) Constance. Of Nature's gifts thou may'st with Lilies boast,
And with the half-blown Rose.
King John, act iii, sc. 1 (53).
(16) Salisbury. To gild refined gold, to paint the Lily,
To throw a perfume on the Violet,
  *       *       *       *       *
  Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 2 (11).
(17) Kent. A Lily-livered, action-taking knave.
King Lear, act ii, sc. 2 (18).
(18) Macbeth. Thou Lily-liver'd boy.
Macbeth, act v, sc. 3 (15).
[142](19)   For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
Sonnet xciv.
(20)   Nor did I wonder at the Lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion of the Rose.
Ibid. xcviii.
(21)   The Lily I condemned for thy hand.
Ibid. xcix.
(22)   Their silent war of Lilies and of Roses
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field.
Lucrece (71).
(23)   Her Lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss.
Ibid. (386).
(24)   The colour in thy face
That even for anger makes the Lily pale,
And the red Rose blush at her own disgrace.
Ibid. (477).
(25)   A Lily pale with damask die to grace her.
Passionate Pilgrim (89).
(26)   Full gently now she takes him by the hand,
A Lily prison'd in a jail of snow.
Venus and Adonis (361).
(27)   She locks her Lily fingers one in one.
Ibid. (228).
(28)   Whose wonted Lily white
With purple tears, that his wound wept, was drench'd.
Ibid. (1053).

Which is the queen of flowers? There are two rival candidates for the honour—the Lily and the Rose; and as we look on the one or the other, our allegiance is divided, and we vote the crown first to one and then to the other. We should have no difficulty "were t'other fair charmer away," but with two such candidates, both equally worthy of the honour, we vote for a diarchy instead of a monarchy, and crown them both.[142:1] Yet there are many that would at [143]once choose the Lily for the queen, and that without hesitation, and they would have good authority for their choice. "O Lord, that bearest rule," says Esdras, "of the whole world, Thou hast chosen Thee of all the flowers thereof one Lily." Spenser addresses the Lily as—

"The Lily, lady of the flow'ring field"—F. Q., ii, 6, 16,

which is the same as Shakespeare's "mistress of the field," (8), and many a poet since his time has given the same vote in many a pretty verse, which, however, it would take too much space to quote at length; so that I will content myself with these few lines by Alexander Montgomery (coeval with Shakespeare)—

"I love the Lily as the first of flowers
Whose stately stalk so straight up is and stay;
To whom th' lave ay lowly louts and cowers
As bound so brave a beauty to obey."

Montgomery here has clearly in his mind's eye the Lily now so called; but the name was not so restricted in the earlier writers. "Lilium, cojus vox generali et licentiosa usurpatione adscribitur omni flori commendabili" (Laurembergius, 1632). This was certainly the case with the Greek and Roman writers, and it is so in our English Bible in most of the cases where the word is used, but perhaps not universally so. It is so used by Gower, describing Tarquin cutting off the tall flowers, by some said to be Poppies and by others Lilies—

"And in the garden as they gone,
The Lilie croppes one and one,
Where that they were sprongen out,
He smote off, as they stood about."

Conf. Ama. lib. sept.

It is used in the same way by Bullein when, speaking of the flower of the Honeysuckle (see Honeysuckle), and it must have been used in the same sense by Isaak Walton, when he saw a boy gathering "Lilies and Lady-smocks" in the meadows.

We have still many records of this loose way of speaking of the Lily, in the Water Lily, the Lily of the Valley, the [144]Lent Lily, St. Bruno's Lily, the Scarborough Lily, the Belladonna Lily, and several others, none of which are true Lilies.

But it is time to come to Shakespeare's Lilies. In all the twenty-eight passages the greater portion simply recall the Lily as the type of elegance and beauty, without any special reference to the flower, and in many the word is only used to express a colour, Lily-white. But in the others he doubtless had some special plant in view, and there are two species which, from contemporary writers, seem to have been most celebrated in his day. The one is the pure White Lily (Lilium candidum), a plant of which the native country is not yet quite accurately ascertained. It is reported to grow wild in abundance in Lebanon, and it probably came to England from the East in very early times. It was certainly largely grown in Europe in the Middle Ages, and was universally acknowledged by artists, sculptors, and architects, as the emblem of female elegance and purity, and none of us would dispute its claim to such a position. There is no other Lily which can surpass it, when well grown, in stateliness and elegance, with sweet-scented flowers of the purest white and the most graceful shape, and crowning the top of the long leafy stem with such a coronal as no other plant can show. On the rare beauties and excellences of the White Lily it would be easy to fill a volume merely with extracts from old writers, and such a volume would be far from uninteresting. Those who wish for some such account may refer to the "Monographie Historique et Littéraire des Lis," par Fr. de Cannart d'Hamale, 1870. There they will find more than fifty pages of the botany, literary history, poetry, and medical uses of the plant, together with its application to religious emblems, numismatics, heraldry, painting, &c. Two short extracts will suffice here:—"Le lis blanc, surnommé la fleur des fleurs, les délices de Venus, la Rose de Junon, qu'Anguillara désigna sous le nom d'Ambrosia, probablement à cause de son parfum suivant, et pent être aussi de sa soidisante divine origine, se place tout naturellement à le tête de ce groupe splendide." "C'est le Lis classique, par excellence, et en même temps le plus beau du genre."

The other is the large Scarlet or Chalcedonian Lily; and this also is one of the very handsomest, though its beauty [145]is of a very different kind to the White Lily. The habit of the plant is equally stately, and is indeed very grand, but the colours are of the brightest and clearest red. These two plants were abundantly grown in Shakespeare's time, but besides these there do not seem to have been more than about half-a-dozen species in cultivation. There are now forty-six recognized species, besides varieties in great number.

The Lily has a very wide geographical range, spreading from Central Europe to the Philippines, and species are found in all quarters of the globe, though the chief homes of the family seem to be in California and Japan. Yet we have no wild Lily in England. Both the Martagon and the Pyrenean Lily have been found, but there is no doubt they are garden escapes.

As a garden plant it may safely be said that no garden can make any pretence to the name that cannot show a good display of Lilies, many or few. Yet the Lily is a most capricious plant; while in one garden almost any sort will grow luxuriantly, in a neighbouring garden it is found difficult to grow any in a satisfactory manner. Within the last few years their culture has been much studied, and by the practical knowledge of such great growers of the family as G. F. Wilson, H. J. Elwes, and other kindred liliophilists, we shall probably in a few years have many difficulties cleared up both in the botanical history and the cultivation of this lovely tribe.

But we cannot dismiss the Lily without a few words of notice of its sacred character. It is the flower specially dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and which is so familiar to us in the old paintings of the Annunciation. But it has, of course, a still higher character as a sacred plant from the high honour placed on it by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. After all that has been written on "the Lilies of the field," critics have not yet decided whether any, and, if so, what particular plant was meant. Each Eastern traveller seems to have selected the flower that he most admired in Palestine, and then to pronounce that that must be the Lily referred to. Thus, at various times it has been decided to be the Rose, the Crown Imperial, the White Lily, the Chalcedonian Lily, the Oleander, the Wild [146]Artichoke, the Sternbergia, the Tulip, and many others, but the most generally received opinion now is, that if a true Lily at all, the evidence runs most strongly in favour of the L. Chalcedonicum; but that Dean Stanley's view is more probably the correct one, that the term "Lily" is generic, alluding to the many beautiful flowers, both of the Lily family and others, which abound in Palestine. The question, though deeply interesting, is not one for which we need to be over-curious as to the true answer. All of us, and gardeners especially, may be thankful for the words which have thrown a never dying charm over our favourites, and have effectually stopped any foolish objections that may be brought against the deepest study of flowers, as a petty study, with no great results. To any such silly objections (and we often hear them) the answer is a very short and simple one—that we have been bidden by the very highest authority to "consider the Lilies."


[140:1] This is a modern reading, the older and more correct reading is "twilled."


"Within the garden's peaceful scene
Appeared two lovely foes,
Aspiring to the rank of Queen,
The Lily and the Rose.
*       *       *       *       *
Yours is, she said, the noblest hue,
And yours the statelier mien,
And till a third surpasses you
Let each be deemed a Queen."—Cowper.


(1) Ariel. All prisoners, sir,
In the Line-grove which weather-fends your cell.
Tempest, act v, sc. 1 (9).
(2) Prospero. Come, hang them on this Line.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (193).
(3) Stephano. Mistress Line, is not this my jerkin?
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (235).

It is only in comparatively modern times that the old name of Line or Linden, or Lind,[146:1] has given place to Lime. The tree is a doubtful native, but has been long introduced, perhaps by the Romans. It is a very handsome tree when allowed room, but it bears clipping well, and so is very often tortured into the most unnatural shapes. It was a very favourite tree with our forefathers to plant in avenues, not only for its rapid growth, but also for the delicious scent of its flowers; but the large secretions of honey-dew which [147]load the leaves, and the fact that it comes late into leaf and sheds its leaves very early, have rather thrown it out of favour of late years. As a useful tree it does not rank very high, except for wood-carvers, who highly prize its light, easily-cut wood, that keeps its shape, and is very little liable to crack or split either in the working or afterwards. Nearly all Grinling Gibbons' delicate carving is in Lime wood. To gardeners the Lime is further useful as furnishing the material for bast or bazen mats,[147:1] which are made from its bark, and interesting as being the origin of the name of Linnæus.


[146:1] "Be ay of chier as light as lyf on Lynde."—Chaucer, The Clerkes Tale, l'envoi.

[147:1] "Between the barke and the woode of this tree, there bee thin pellicles or skins lying in many folds together, whereof are made bands and cords called Bazen ropes."—Philemon Holland's Pliny's Nat. Hist. xvi. 14. The chapter is headed "Of the Line or Linden Tree."


  Gonzalo. Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, Ling, Heath, brown Furze, anything.
Tempest, act i, sc. 1 (70).

If this be the correct reading (and not Long Heath) the reference is to the Heather or Common Ling (Calluna vulgaris). This is the plant that is generally called Ling in the South of England, but in the North of England the name is given to the Cotton Grass (Eriophorum). It is very probable, however, that no particular plant is intended, but that it means any rough, wild vegetation, especially of open moors and heaths.


  Iago. The food that to him now is as luscious as Locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as Coloquintida.
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (354).

The Locust is the fruit of the Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), a tree that grows naturally in many parts of the South of Europe, the Levant, and Syria, and is largely cultivated [148]for its fruit.[148:1] These are like Beans, full of sweet pulp, and are given in Spain and other southern countries to horses, pigs, and cattle, and they are occasionally imported into England for the same purpose. The Carob was cultivated in England before Shakespeare's time. "They grow not in this countrie," says Lyte, "yet, for all that, they be sometimes in the gardens of some diligent Herboristes, but they be so small shrubbes that they can neither bring forth flowers nor fruite." It was also grown by Gerard, and Shakespeare may have seen it; but it is now very seldom seen in any collection, though the name is preserved among us, as the jeweller's carat weight is said to have derived its name from the Carob Beans, which were used for weighing small objects.

The origin of the tree being called Locust is a little curious. Readers of the New Testament, ignorant of Eastern customs, could not understand that St. John could feed on the insect locust, which, however, is now known to be a common and acceptable article of food, so they looked about for some solution of their difficulty, and decided that the Locusts were the tender shoots of the Carob tree, and that the wild honey was the luscious juice of the Carob fruit. Having got so far it was easy to go farther, and so the Carob soon got the names of St. John's Bread and St. John's Beans, and the monks of the desert showed the very trees by which St. John's life was supported. But though the Carob tree did not produce the locusts on which St. John fed, there is little or no doubt that "the husks which the swine did eat," and which the Prodigal Son longed for, were the produce of the Carob tree.


[148:1] Pods of the Carob tree were found in a house at Pompeii. For an account of the use of the Locust as an article of food, both in ancient and modern times, see Hogg's "Classical Plants of Sicily," p. 114.


  Queen. There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of Crow-flowers, Nettles, Daisies, and Long Purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do Dead Men's Fingers call them.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 7 (169).

[149] In "Flowers from Stratford-on-Avon" (a pretty book published a few years ago with plates of twelve of Shakespeare's flowers) it is said that "there can be no doubt that the Wild Arum is the plant alluded to by Shakespeare as forming part of the nosegay of the crazed Ophelia;" but the authoress gives no authority for this statement, and I believe that there can be no reasonable doubt that the Long Purples and Dead Men's Fingers are the common purple Orchises of the woods and meadows (Orchis morio, O. mascula, and O. maculata). The name of Dead Men's Fingers was given to them from the pale palmate roots of some of the species (O. latifolia, O. maculata, and Gymnadenia conopsea), and this seems to have been its more common name.

"Then round the meddowes did she walke,
Catching each flower by the stalke,
Such as within the meddowes grew,
As Dead Man's Thumb and Harebell blew;
And as she pluckt them, still cried she,
Alas! there's none 'ere loved like me."

Roxburghe Ballads.

As to the other names to which the Queen alludes, we need not inquire too curiously; they are given in all their "liberality" and "grossness" in the old Herbals, but as common names they are, fortunately, extinct. The name of Dead Men's Fingers still lingers in a few places, but Long Purples has been transferred to a very different plant. It is named by Clare and Tennyson—

"Gay Long-purples with its tufty spike;
She'd wade o'er shoes to reach it in the dyke."

Clare's Village Minstrel, ii, 90.

"Round thee blow, self-pleached deep,
Bramble Roses, faint and pale,
And Long Purples of the dale."

A Dirge, Tennyson.

But in both these passages the plant intended is the Lythrum salicaria, or Purple Loosestrife.

The meadow Orchis, though so common, is thus without any common English name; for though I have often asked country people for its name, I have never obtained one; [150]and so it is another of those curious instances which are so hard to explain, where an old and common English word has been replaced by a Greek or Latin word, which must be entirely without meaning to nine-tenths of those who use it.[150:1] There are similar instances in Crocus, Cyclamen, Hyacinth, Narcissus, Anemone, Beet, Lichen, Polyanthus, Polypody, Asparagus, and others.

The Orchid family is certainly the most curious in the vegetable kingdom, as it is almost the most extensive, except the Grasses. Growing all over the world, in any climate, and in all kinds of situations, it numbers 3000 species, of which we have thirty-seven native species in England; and with their curious irregular flowers, often of very beautiful colours, and of wonderful quaintness and variety of shape, they are everywhere so distinct that the merest tyro in botany can separate them from any other flower, and the deepest student can find endless puzzles in them, and increasing interest.

Though the most beautiful are exotics, and are the chief ornaments of our stoves and hothouses, yet our native species are full of interest and beauty. Of their botanical interest we have a most convincing proof in Darwin's "Fertilization of Orchids," a book that is almost entirely confined to the British Orchids, and which, in its wonderfully clear statements, and its laborious collection of many little facts all leading up to his scientific conclusions, is certainly not the least to be admired among his other learned and careful books. And as to their horticultural interest, it is most surprising that so few gardeners make the use of them that they might. They were not so despised in Shakespeare's time, for Gerard grew a large number in his garden. It is true that some of them are very impatient of garden cultivation, especially those of the Ophrys section (such as the Bee, Fly, and Spider Orchises), and the rare O. hircina, which [151]will seldom remain in the garden above two or three years, except under very careful and peculiar cultivation. But, on the other hand, there are many that rejoice in being transferred to a garden, especially O. maculata, O. mascula, O. pyramidalis, and the Butterfly Orchis of both kinds (Habenaria bifolia and chlorantha). These, if left undisturbed, increase in size and beauty every year, their flowers become larger, and their leaves (in O. maculata and O. mascula) become most beautifully spotted. They may be placed anywhere, but their best place seems to be among low shrubs, or on the rockwork. Nor must the hardy Orchid grower omit the beautiful American species, especially the Cypripedia (C. spectabile, C. pubescens, C. acaule, and others). They are among the most beautiful of low hardy plants, and they succeed perfectly in any peat border that is not too much exposed to the sun. The only caution required is to leave them undisturbed; they resent removal and broken roots; and though I hold it to be one of the first rules of good gardening to give away to others as much as possible, yet I would caution any one against dividing his good clumps of Cypripedia. The probability is that both giver and receiver will lose the plants. If, however, a plant must be divided, the whole plant should be carefully lifted, and most gently pulled to pieces with the help of water.


[150:1] Though country people generally have no common name for the Orchis morio, yet it is called in works on English Botany the Fool Orchis; and it has the local names of "Crake-feet" in Yorkshire; of "giddy-gander" in Dorset; and "Keatlegs and Neatlegs" in Kent. Dr. Prior also gives the names "Goose and goslings" and "Gander-gooses" for Orchis morio, and "Standerwort" for Orchis mascula. This last is the Anglo-Saxon name for the flower, but it is now, I believe, quite extinct.



  Clown. I must have Saffron to colour the warden-pies—Mace—Dates? none.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (48).

The Mace is the pretty inner rind that surrounds the Nutmeg, when ripe. It was no doubt imported with the Nutmeg in Shakespeare's time. (See Nutmeg.)



  Antonio. He'ld sow't with Nettle seed.
  Sebastian. Or Docks, or Mallows.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 1 (145).

The Mallow is the common roadside weed (Malva sylvestris), which is not altogether useless in medicine, though the Marsh Mallow far surpasses it in this respect. Ben Jonson speaks of it as an article of food—

"The thresher . . . feeds on Mallows and such bitter herbs."

The Fox, act i, sc. 1.

It is not easy to believe that our common Wild Mallow was so used, and Jonson probably took the idea from Horace—

"Me pascant olivæ,
Me chichorea, levesque malvæ."

But the common Mallow is a dear favourite with children, who have ever loved to collect, and string, and even eat its "cheeses:" and these cheeses are a delight to others besides children. Dr. Lindley, certainly one of the most scientific of botanists, can scarcely find words to express his admiration of them. "Only compare a vegetable cheese," he says, "with all that is exquisite in marking and beautiful in arrangement in the works of man, and how poor and contemptible do the latter appear. . . . Nor is it alone externally that this inimitable beauty is to be discovered; cut the cheese across, and every slice brings to view cells and partitions, and seeds and embryos, arranged with an unvarying regularity, which would be past belief if we did not know from experience, how far beyond all that the mind can conceive, is the symmetry with which the works of Nature are constructed."

As a garden plant of course the Wild Mallow has no place, though the fine-cut leaves and faint scent of the Musk Mallow (M. moschata) might demand a place for it in those parts where it is not wild, and especially the white variety, which is of the purest white, and very ornamental. But our common Mallow is closely allied to some of the handsomest plants known. The Hollyhock is one very near [153]relation, the beautiful Hibiscus is another, and the very handsome Fremontia Californica is a third that has only been added to our gardens during the last few years. Nor is it only allied to beauty, for it also claims as a very near relation a plant which to many would be considered the most commercially useful plant in the world, the Cotton-plant.


(1) Cleopatra. Give me to drink Mandragora.
  Charmian. Why, madam?
  Cleopatra. That I might sleep out this great gap of time,
My Antony is away.
Antony and Cleopatra, act i, sc. 5 (4).
(2) Iago. Not Poppy, nor Mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday.
Othello, act iii, sc. 3 (330).
(3) Falstaff. Thou Mandrake.
2nd Henry IV, act i, sc. 2 (16).
(4) Ditto. They called him Mandrake.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 2 (338).
(5) Suffolk. Would curses kill, as doth the Mandrake's groan.
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (310).
(6) Juliet. And shrieks like Mandrakes' torn out of the earth
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad.
Romeo and Juliet, act iv, sc. 3 (47).

There is, perhaps, no plant on which so many books and treatises (containing for the most part much sad nonsense) have been written as the Mandrake, and there is certainly no plant round which so much superstition has gathered, all of which is more or less silly and foolish, and a great deal that is worse than silly. This, no doubt, arose from its first mention in connection with Leah and Rachel, and then in the Canticles, which, perhaps, shows that even in those days some strange qualities were attributed to the plant; but how from that beginning such, and such wide-spread, superstitions could have arisen, it is hard to say. I can scarcely tell these superstitious fables in better words than Gerard [154]described them: "There hath been many ridiculous tales brought up of this plant, whether of old wives or some runagate surgeons or physicke-mongers I know not. . . . They adde that it is never or very seldome to be found growing naturally but under a gallowes, where the matter that has fallen from a dead body hath given it the shape of a man, and the matter of a woman the substance of a female plant, with many other such doltish dreams. They fable further and affirme that he who would take up a plant thereof must tie a dog thereunto to pull it up, which will give a great shreeke at the digging up, otherwise, if a man should do it, he should surely die in a short space after." This, with the addition that the plant is decidedly narcotic, will sufficiently explain all Shakespeare's references. Gerard, however, omits to notice one thing which, in justice to our forefathers, should not be omitted. These fables on the Mandrake are by no means English mediæval fables, but they were of foreign extraction, and of very ancient date. Josephus tells the same story as held by the Jews in his time and before his time. Columella even spoke of the plant as "semi-homo;" and Pythagoras called it "Anthropomorphus;" and Dr. Daubeny has published in his "Roman Husbandry" a most curious drawing from the Vienna MS. of Dioscorides in the fifth century, "representing the Goddess of Discovery presenting to Dioscorides the root of this Mandrake" (of thoroughly human shape) "which she had just pulled up, while the unfortunate dog which had been employed for that purpose is depicted in the agonies of death."[154:1] All these beliefs have long, I should hope, been extinct among us; yet even now artists who draw the plant are tempted to fancy a resemblance to the human figure, and in the "Flora Græca," where, for the most part, the figures of the plants are most beautifully accurate, the figure of the Mandrake is painfully human.[154:2]

[155] As a garden plant, the Mandrake is often grown, but more for its curiosity than its beauty; the leaves appear early in the spring, followed very soon by its dull and almost inconspicuous flowers, and then by its Apple-like fruit. This is the Spring Mandrake (Mandragora vernalis), but the Autumn Mandrake (M. autumnalis or microcarpa) may be grown as an ornamental plant. The leaves appear in the autumn, and are succeeded by a multitude of pale-blue flowers about the size of and very much resembling the Anemone pulsatilla (see Sweet's "Flower Garden," vol. vii. No. 325). These remain in flower a long time. In my own garden they have been in flower from the beginning of November till May. I need only add that the Mandrake is a native of the South of Europe and other countries bordering on the Mediterranean, but it was very early introduced into England. It is named in Archbishop Ælfric's "Vocabulary" in the tenth century with the very expressive name of "Earth-apple;" it is again named in an Anglo-Saxon Vocabulary of the eleventh century (in the British Museum), but without any English equivalent; and Gerard cultivated both sorts in his garden.


[154:1] In the "Bestiary of Philip de Thaun" (12 cent.), published in Wright's Popular Treatises on Science written during the Middle Ages, the male and female Mandrake are actually reckoned among living beasts (p. 101).

[154:2] For some curious early English notices of the Mandrake, see "Promptorium Parvulorum," p. 324, note. See also Brown's "Vulgar Errors," book ii. c. 6, and Dr. M. C. Cooke's "Freaks of Plant Life."


(1) Perdita. The Marigold that goes to bed wi' the sun,
And with him rises weeping; these are flowers
Of middle summer.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (105).
(2) Marina. The purple Violets and Marigolds
Shall, as a carpet, hang upon thy grave
While summer-days do last.
Pericles, act iv, sc. 1 (16).
(3) Song. And winking Mary-buds begin
To ope their golden eyes.
Cymbeline, act ii, sc. 3 (25).
(4)   Marigolds on death-beds blowing.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Introd. song.
(5)   Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the Marigolds at the sun's eye.
Sonnet xxv.
[156](6)   Her eyes, like Marigolds, had sheathed their light,
And canopied in darkness sweetly lay,
Till they might open to adorn the day.
Lucrece (397).

There are at least three plants which claim to be the old Marigold. 1. The Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). This is a well-known golden flower—

"The wild Marsh Marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray."


And there is this in favour of its being the flower meant, that the name signifies the golden blossom of the marish or marsh; but, on the other hand, the Caltha does not fulfil the conditions of Shakespeare's Marigold—it does not open and close its flowers with the sun. 2. The Corn Marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum), a very handsome but mischievous weed in Corn-fields, not very common in England and said not to be a true native, but more common in Scotland, where it is called Goulands. I do not think this is the flower, because there is no proof, as far as I know, that it was called Marigold in Shakespeare's time. 3. The Garden Marigold or Ruddes (Calendula officinalis). I have little doubt this is the flower meant; it was always a great favourite in our forefathers' gardens, and it is hard to give any reason why it should not be so in ours. Yet it has been almost completely banished, and is now seldom found but in the gardens of cottages and old farmhouses, where it is still prized for its bright and almost everlasting flowers (looking very like a Gazania) and evergreen tuft of leaves, while the careful housewife still picks and carefully stores the petals of the flowers, and uses them in broths and soups, believing them to be of great efficacy, as Gerard said they were, "to strengthen and comfort the heart;" though scarcely perhaps rating them as high as Fuller: "we all know the many and sovereign vertues . . . in your leaves, the Herb Generall in all pottage" ("Antheologie," 1655, p. 52).

The two properties of the Marigold—that it was always in flower, and that it turned its flowers to the sun and followed his guidance in their opening and shutting—made it a very favourite flower with the poets and emblem writers. T. Forster, in the "Circle of the Seasons," 1828, says that "this plant received the name of Calendula, because it was [157]in flower on the calends of nearly every month. It has been called Marigold for a similar reason, being more or less in blow at the times of all the festivals of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the word gold having reference to its golden rays, likened to the rays of light around the head of the Blessed Virgin." This is ingenious, and, as he adds, "thus say the old writers," it is worth quoting, though he does not say what old writer gave this derivation, which I am very sure is not the true one. The old name is simply goldes. Gower, describing the burning of Leucothoe, says—

"She sprong up out of the molde
Into a flour, was named Golde,
Which stant governed of the Sonne."

Conf. Aman., lib. quint.

Chaucer spoke of the "yellow Goldes;"[157:1] in the "Promptorium Parvulorum" we have "Goolde, herbe, solsequium, quia sequitur solem, elitropium, calendula;" and Spenser says—

"And if I her like ought on earth might read
I would her liken to a crowne of Lillies,
Upon a virgin brydes adorned head,
With Roses dight and Goolds and Daffodillies."

Colin Clout.

But it was its other quality of opening or shutting its flowers at the sun's bidding that made the Marigold such a favourite with the old writers, especially those who wrote on religious emblems. It was to them the emblem of constancy in affection,[157:2] and sympathy in joy and sorrow, though it was also the emblem of the fawning courtier, who can only shine when everything is bright. As the emblem of constancy, it was to the old writers what the Sunflower was to Moore—


"The Sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look which she did when he rose."

It was the Heliotrope or Solsequium or Turnesol of our forefathers, and is the flower often alluded to under that name.[158:1] "All yellow flowers," says St. Francis de Sales, "and, above all, those that the Greeks call Heliotrope, and we call Sunflower, not only rejoice at the sight of the sun, but follow with loving fidelity the attraction of its rays, gazing at the sun, and turning towards it from its rising to its setting" ("Divine Love," Mulholland's translation).

Of this higher and more religious use of the emblematic flower there are frequent examples. I will only give one from G. Withers, a contemporary of Shakespeare's later life—

"When with a serious musing I behold
The grateful and obsequious Marigold,
How duly every morning she displays
Her open breast when Phœbus spreads his rays;
How she observes him in his daily walk,
Still bending towards him her small slender stalk;
How when he down declines she droops and mourns,
Bedewed, as 'twere, with tears till he returns;
And how she veils her flowers when he is gone.
When this I meditate, methinks the flowers
Have spirits far more generous than ours,
And give us fair examples to despise
The servile fawnings and idolatries
Wherewith we court these earthly things below,
Which merit not the service we bestow."

From the time of Withers the poets treated the Marigold very much as the gardeners did—they passed it by altogether as beneath their notice.



"That werud of yolo Guldes a garland."

The Knightes Tale.


"You the Sun to her must play,
She to you the Marigold,
To none but you her leaves unfold."

Middleton and Rowley, The Spanish Gipsy.

See also Thynne's "Emblems," No. 18; and Cutwode's "Caltha Poetarum," 1599, st. 18, 19.

[158:1] "Solsequium vel heliotropium; Solsece vel sigel-hwerfe" (i.e., sun-seeker or sun-turner).—Ælfric's Vocabulary.

"Marigolde; solsequium, sponsa solis."—Catholicon Anglicum.

In a note Mr. Herttage says, "the oldest name for the plant was ymbglidegold, that which moves round with the sun."



(1) Perdita. Here's flowers for you;
Hot Lavender, Mints, Savory, Marjoram.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (103).
(2) Lear. Give the word.
  Edgar. Sweet Marjoram.
  Lear. Pass.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 6 (93).
(3)   The Lily I condemned for thy hand,
And buds of Marjoram had stolen thy hair.
Sonnet xcix.
(4) Clown. Indeed, sir, she was the sweet Marjoram of the Salad, or rather the Herb-of-grace.
All's Well that Ends Well, act iv, sc. 5 (17).

In Shakespeare's time several species of Marjoram were grown, especially the Common Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), a British plant, the Sweet Marjoram (O. Marjorana), a plant of the South of Europe, from which the English name comes,[159:1] and the Winter Marjoram (O. Horacleoticum). They were all favourite pot herbs, so that Lyte calls the common one "a delicate and tender herb," "a noble and odoriferous plant;" but, like so many of the old herbs, they have now fallen into disrepute. The comparison of a man's hair to the buds of Marjoram is not very intelligible, but probably it was a way of saying that the hair was golden.


[159:1] See "Catholicon Anglicum," s.v. Marioron and note.

MARYBUDS, see Marigold.


  Timon. The Oaks bear Mast, the Briers scarlet hips.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (174).

We still call the fruit of beech, beech-masts, but do not apply the name to the acorn. It originally meant food used for fatting, especially for fatting swine. See note in "Promptorium Parvulorum," p. 329, giving several instances of this use, and Strattmann, s.v. Mæst.



(1) Apemantus. There's a Medlar for thee, eat it.
  Timon. On what I hate I feed not.
  Apemantus. Dost hate a Medlar?
  Timon. Ay, though it looks like thee.
  Apemantus. An thou hadst hated Meddlers sooner, thou shouldst have loved thyself better now.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (305).
(2) Lucio. They would have married me to the rotten Medlar.
Measure for Measure, act iv, sc. 3 (183).
(3) Touchstone. Truly the tree yields bad fruit.
  Rosalind. I'll graff it with you, and then I shall graff it with a Medlar; then it will be the earliest fruit in the country, for you'll be rotten ere you be half ripe, and that's the right virtue of the Medlar.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (122).
(4) Mercutio. Now will he sit under a Medlar tree.
And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
As maids call Medlars when they laugh alone.
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 1 (80).[160:1]

The Medlar is an European tree, but not a native of England; it has, however, been so long introduced as to be now completely naturalized, and is admitted into the English flora. It is mentioned in the early vocabularies, and Chaucer gives it a very prominent place in his description of a beautiful garden—

"I was aware of the fairest Medler tree
That ever yet in alle my life I sie,
As ful of blossomes as it might be;
Therein a goldfinch leaping pretile
Fro' bough to bough, and as him list, he eet
Here and there of buddes and floweres sweet."

The Flower and the Leaf (240).

And certainly a fine Medlar tree "ful of blossomes" is a handsome ornament on any lawn. There are few deciduous trees that make better lawn trees. There is nothing stiff about the growth even from its early youth; it forms a low, [161]irregular, picturesque tree, excellent for shade, with very handsome white flowers, followed by the curious fruit; it will not, however, do well in the North of England or Scotland.

It does not seem to have been a favourite fruit with our forefathers. Bullein says "the fruite called the Medler is used for a medicine and not for meate;" and Shakespeare only used the common language of his time when he described the Medlar as only fit to be eaten when rotten. Chaucer said just the same—

"That ilke fruyt is ever lenger the wers
Till it be rote in mullok or in stree—
We olde men, I drede, so fare we,
Till we be roten, can we not be rype."

The Reeves Tale.

And many others writers to the same effect. But, in fact, the Medlar when fit to be eaten is no more rotten than a ripe Peach, Pear, or Strawberry, or any other fruit which we do not eat till it has reached a certain stage of softness. There is a vast difference between a ripe and a rotten Medlar, though it would puzzle many of us to say when a fruit (not a Medlar only) is ripe, that is, fit to be eaten. These things are matters of taste and fashion, and it is rather surprising to find that we are accused, and by good judges, of eating Peaches when rotten rather than ripe. "The Japanese always eat their Peaches in an unripe state. In the 'Gartenflora' Dr. Regel says, in some remarks on Japanese fruit trees, that the Japanese regard a ripe Peach as rotten."

There are a few varieties of the Medlar, differing in the size and flavour of the fruits, which were also cultivated in Shakespeare's time.


[160:1] So Chester speaks of it as "the Young Man's Medlar" ("Love's Martyr," p. 96, New Sh. Soc.).


(1) Perdita. Here's flowers for you;
Hot Lavender, Mints, Savory, Marjoram.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (103).
(2) Armado. I am that flower,
  Dumain. That Mint.
  Longaville. That Columbine.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (661).

[162] The Mints are a large family of highly-perfumed, strong-flavoured plants, of which there are many British species, but too well known to call for any further description.


  Tamora. The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
O'ercome with Moss and baleful Mistletoe.
Titus Andronicus, act ii, sc. 3 (94).

The Mistletoe was a sore puzzle to our ancestors, almost as great a mystery as the Fern. While they admired its fresh, evergreen branches, and pretty transparent fruit, and used it largely in the decoration of their houses at Christmas, they looked on the plant with a certain awe. Something of this, no doubt, arose from its traditional connection with the Druids, which invested the plant with a semi-sacred character, as a plant that could drive away evil spirits; yet it was also looked upon with some suspicion, perhaps also arising from its use by our heathen ancestors, so that, though admitted into houses, it was not (or very seldom) admitted into churches. And this character so far still attaches to the Mistletoe, that it is never allowed with the Holly and Ivy and Box to decorate the churches, and Gay's lines were certainly written in error—

"Now with bright Holly all the temples strow,
With Laurel green and sacred Mistletoe."

The mystery attaching to the Mistletoe arose from the ignorance as to its production. It was supposed not to grow from its seeds, and how it was produced was a fit subject for speculation and fable. Virgil tells the story thus—

"Quale solet sylvis brumali frigore viscum
Fronde virere novâ, quod non sua seminat arbos,
Et croceo fœtu teretes circumdare truncos."

Æneid, vi, 205.

In this way Virgil elegantly veils his ignorance, but his commentator in the eighteenth century (Delphic Classics) [163]tells the tale without any doubts as to its truth. "Non nascitur e semine proprio arboris, at neque ex insidentum volucrum fimo, ut putavere veteres, sed ex ipso arborum vitali excremento." This was the opinion of the great Lord Bacon; he ridiculed the idea that the Mistletoe was propagated by the operation of a bird as an idle tradition, saying that the sap which produces the plant is such as "the tree doth excerne and cannot assimilate," and Browne ("Vulgar Errors") was of the same opinion. But the opposite opinion was perpetuated in the very name ("Mistel: fimus, muck," Cockayne),[163:1] and was held without any doubt by most of the writers in Shakespeare's time—

"Upon the oak, the plumb-tree and the holme,
The stock-dove and the blackbird should not come,
Whose mooting on the trees does make to grow
Rots-curing hyphear, and the Mistletoe."

Browne, Brit. Past. i, 1.

So that we need not blame Gerard when he boldly said that "this excrescence hath not any roote, neither doth encrease himselfe of his seed, as some have supposed, but it rather commethe of a certaine moisture gathered together upon the boughes and joints of the trees, through the barke whereof this vaporous moisture proceeding bringeth forth the Misseltoe." We now know that it is produced exclusively from the seeds probably lodged by the birds, and that it is easily grown and cultivated. It will grow and has been found on almost any deciduous tree, preferring those with soft bark, and growing very seldom on the Oak.[163:2] Those who wish for full information upon the [164]proportionate distribution of the Mistletoe on different British trees will find a good summary in "Notes and Queries," vol. iii. p. 226.


[163:1] "Mistel est a mist stercus, quod ex stercore avium pronascitur, nec aliter pronasci potest."—Wachter, Glossary (quoted in "Notes and Queries," 3rd series, vii. 157. In the same volume are several papers on the origin of the word). Dr. Prior derives it from mistl (different), and tan (twig), being so unlike the tree it grows upon.

[163:2] Mistletoe growing on an oak had a special legendary value. Its rarity probably gave it value in the eyes of the Druids, and much later it had its mystic lore. "By sitting upon a hill late in a evening, near a Wood, in a few nights a fire drake will appeare, mark where it lighteth, and then you shall find an oake with Mistletoe thereon, at the Root whereof there is a Misle-childe, whereof many strange things are conceived. Beati qui non crediderunt."—Plat., Garden of Eden, 1659, No. 68.


(1) Adriana. If ought possess thee from me, it is dross,
Usurping Ivy, Brier, or idle Moss.
Comedy of Errors, act ii, sc. 2 (179).
(2) Tamora. The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
O'ercome with Moss and baleful Mistletoe.
Titus Andronicus, act ii, sc. 3 (94).
(3) Apemantus. These Moss'd trees
That have outlived the eagle.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (223).
(4) Hotspur. Steeples and Moss-grown towers.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 1 (33).
(5) Oliver. Under an Oak whose boughs were Moss'd with age,
And high top bald with dry antiquity.
As You Like It, act iv, sc. 3 (105).
(6) Arviragus. The ruddock would,
With charitable bill,
  *       *       *       *       *
  bring thee all this;
Yea, and furr'd Moss besides, when flowers are none,
To winter-ground thy corse.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (224).[164:1]

If it were not for the pretty notice of Moss in the last passage (6), we should be inclined to say that Shakespeare had as little regard for "idle Moss" as for the "baleful Mistletoe." In his day Moss included all the low-growing and apparently flowerless carpet plants which are now divided into the many families of Mosses, Lichens, Club [165]Mosses, Hepaticæ, Jungermanniæ, &c., &c. And these plants, though holding no rank in the eyes of a florist, are yet deeply interesting, perhaps no family of plants more so, to those who have time and patience to study them. The Club Mosses, indeed, may claim a place in the garden if they can only be induced to grow, but that is a difficult task, and the tenderer Lycopodiums are always favourites when well grown among greenhouse Ferns; but for the most part, the Mosses must be studied in their native haunts, and when so studied, they are found to be full of beauty and of wonderful construction. Nor are they without use, and it is rather strange that Shakespeare should have so markedly called them "idle," or useless, considering that in his day many medical virtues were attributed to them. This reputation for medical virtues they have now all lost, except the Iceland Moss, which is still in use for invalids; but the Mosses have other uses. The Reindeer Moss (Cladonia rangiferina) and Roch-hair (Alectoria jubata) are indispensable to the Laplander as food for his reindeer, and Usnea florida is used in North America as food for cattle; the Iceland Moss (Cetraria Islandica) is equally indispensable as an article of food to all the inhabitants of the extreme North; and the Tripe de la Roche (Gyrophora cylindrica) has furnished food to the Arctic explorers when no other food could be obtained; while many dyes are produced from the Lichens, especially the Cudbear (a most discordant corruption of the name of the discoverer, Mr. Cuthbert), which is the produce of the Rock Moss (Lecanora tartarea). So that even to us the Mosses have their uses, even if they do not reach the uses that they have in North Sweden, where, according to Miss Bremer, "the forest, which is the countryman's workshop, is his storehouse, too. With the various Lichens that grow upon the trees and rocks, he cures the virulent diseases with which he is sometimes afflicted, dyes the articles of clothes which he wears, and poisons the noxious and dangerous animals which annoy him."

As to the beauty of Mosses and Lichens we have only to ask any artist or go into any exhibition of pictures. Their great beauty has been so lovingly described by Ruskin ("Modern Painters"), that no one can venture to do more [166]than quote his description. It is well known to many, but none will regret having it called to their remembrance—"placuit semel—decies repetita placebit"—space, however, will oblige me somewhat to curtail it. "Meek creatures! the first mercy of the earth, veiling with hushed softness its dentless rocks: creatures full of pity, covering with strange and tender honour the sacred disgrace of ruin, laying quiet fingers on the trembling stones to teach them rest. No words that I know of will say what these Mosses are; none are delicate enough, none perfect enough, none rich enough. . . . . They will not be gathered like the flowers for chaplet or love token; but of these the wild bird will make its nest and the wearied child its pillow, and as the earth's first mercy so they are its last gift to us. When all other service is vain from plant and tree, the soft Mosses and grey Lichens take up their watch by the headstone. The woods, the blossoms, the gift-bearing Grasses have done their parts for a time, but these do service for ever. Trees for the builder's yard, flowers for the bride's chamber, Corn for the granary, Moss for the grave."


[164:1] There may be special appropriateness in the selection of the "furr'd Moss" to "winter-ground thy corse." "The final duty of Mosses is to die; the main work of other leaves is in their life, but these have to form the earth, out of which other leaves are to grow."—Ruskin, Proserpina, p. 20.


(1) Titania. Feed him with Apricocks and Dewberries,
With purple Grapes, green Figs, and Mulberries.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (169).
(2) Volumnia. Thy stout heart,
Now humble as the ripest Mulberry
That will not bear the handling.
Coriolanus, act iii, sc. 2 (78).
(3) Prologue. Thisby tarrying in Mulberry shade.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act v, sc. 1 (149).
(4) Wooer. Palamon is gone
Is gone to the wood to gather Mulberries.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 1 (87).
(5)   The birds would bring him Mulberries and ripe-red Cherries.
Venus and Adonis (1103). (See Cherries.)

We do not know when the Mulberry, which is an Eastern tree, was introduced into England, but probably very early. [167]We find in Archbishop Ælfric's "Vocabulary," "morus vel rubus, mor-beam," but it is doubtful whether that applies to the Mulberry or Blackberry, as in the same catalogue Blackberries are mentioned as "flavi vel mori, blace-berian." There is no doubt that Morum was a Blackberry as well as a Mulberry in classical times. Our Mulberry is probably the fruit mentioned by Horace—

"Ille salubres
Æstates peraget, qui nigris prandia Moris
Finiet ante gravem quæ legerit arbore solem."

Sat. ii, 4, 24.

And it certainly is the fruit mentioned by Ovid—

"In duris hærentia mora rubetis."

Metam., i, 105.

In the Dictionarius of John de Garlande (thirteenth century)[167:1] we find, "Hec sunt nomina silvestrium arborum, qui sunt in luco magistri Johannis; quercus cum fago, pinus cum lauro, celsus gerens celsa;" and Mr. Wright translates "celsa" by "Mulberries," without, however, giving his authority for this translation.[167:2] But whenever introduced, it had been long established in England in Shakespeare's time.

It must have been a common tree even in Anglo-Saxon times, for the favourite drink, Morat, was a compound of honey flavoured with Mulberries (Turner's "Anglo-Saxons").[167:3] Spenser spoke of it—

"With love juice stained the Mulberie,
The fruit that dewes the poet's braine."

Elegy, 18.

Gerard describes it as "high and full of boughes," and growing in sundry gardens in England, and he grew in his own London garden both the Black and the White Mulberry. Lyte also, before Gerard, describes it and says: "It is called [168]in the fayning of Poetes the wisest of all other trees, for this tree only among all others bringeth forth his leaves after the cold frostes be past;" and the Mulberry Garden, often mentioned by the old dramatists, "occupied the site of the present Buckingham Palace and Gardens, and derived its name from a garden of Mulberry trees planted by King James I. in 1609, in which year 935l. was expended by the king in the planting of Mulberry trees near the Palace of Westminster."[168:1]

As an ornamental tree for any garden, the Mulberry needs no recommendation, being equally handsome in shape, in foliage, and in fruit. It is a much prized ornament in all old gardens, so that it has been well said that an old Mulberry tree on the lawn is a patent of nobility to any garden; and it is most easy of cultivation; it will bear removal when of a considerable size, and so easily can it be propagated from cuttings that a story is told of Mr. Payne Knight that he cut large branches from a Mulberry tree to make standards for his clothes-lines, and that each standard took root, and became a flourishing Mulberry tree.

Though most of us only know of the common White or Black Mulberry, yet, where it is grown for silk culture (as it is now proposed to grow it in England, with a promised profit of from £70 to £100 per acre for the silk, and an additional profit of from £100 to £500 per acre from the grain (eggs)!!), great attention is paid to the different varieties; so that M. de Quatrefuges briefly describes six kinds cultivated in one valley in France, and Royle remarks, "so many varieties have been produced by cultivation that it is difficult to ascertain whether they all belong to one species; they are," as he adds, "nearly as numerous as those of the silkworm" (Darwin).

We have good proof of Shakespeare's admiration of the Mulberry in the celebrated Shakespeare Mulberry growing in his garden at New Place at Stratford-on-Avon. "That Shakespeare planted this tree is as well authenticated as anything of that nature can be, . . . and till this was planted there was no Mulberry tree in the neighbourhood. The tree was celebrated in many a poem, one especially by Dibdin, but [169]about 1752, the then owner of New Place, the Rev. Mr. Gastrell, bought and pulled down the house, and wishing, as it should seem, to be 'damned to everlasting fame,' he had some time before cut down Shakespeare's celebrated Mulberry tree, to save himself the trouble of showing it to those whose admiration of our great poet led them to visit the poetick ground on which it stood."—Malone. The pieces were made into many snuff-boxes[169:1] and other mementoes of the tree.

"The Mulberry tree was hung with blooming wreaths;
The Mulberry tree stood centre of the dance;
The Mulberry tree was hymn'd with dulcet strains;
And from his touchwood trunk the Mulberry tree
Supplied such relics as devotion holds
Still sacred, and preserves with pious care."

Cowper, Task, book vi.


[167:1] The Dictionarius of John de Garlande is published in Wright's "Vocabularies." His garden was probably in the neighbourhood of Paris, but he was a thorough Englishman, and there is little doubt that his description of a garden was drawn as much from his English as from his French experience.

[167:2] The authority may be in the "Promptorium Parvulorum:" "Mulberry, Morum (selsus)."

[167:3] "Moratum potionis genus, f. ex vino et moris dilutis confectæ."—Glossarium Adelung.

[168:1] Cunningham's "Handbook of London," p. 346, with many quotations from the old dramatists.

[169:1] Some of these snuff-boxes were inscribed with the punning motto "Memento Mori."


(1) Prospero. You demi-puppets, that
By moonshine do the greensour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight Mushrooms.
Tempest, act v, sc. 1 (36).
(2) Fairy. I do wander everywhere.
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (6).
(3) Quickly. And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,
Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring:
The expressure that it bears, green let it be,
More fertile-fresh than all the field to see.
Merry Wives, act v, sc. 5 (69).
(4) Ajax. Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.
Troilus and Cressida, act ii, sc. 1 (22).

[170] The three first passages, besides the notice of the Mushroom, contain also the notice of the fairy-rings, which are formed by fungi, though probably Shakespeare knew little of this. No. 4 names the Toadstool, and the four passages together contain the whole of Shakespeare's fungology, and it is little to be wondered at that he has not more to say on these curious plants. In his time "Mushrumes or Toadstooles" (they were all classed together) were looked on with very suspicious eyes, though they were so much eaten that we frequently find in the old herbals certain remedies against "a surfeit of Mushrooms." Why they should have been connected with toads has never been explained, but it was always so—

"The grieslie Todestoole growne there mought I see,
And loathed paddocks lording on the same."—Spenser.

They were associated with other loathsome objects besides toads, for "Poisonous Mushrooms groweth where old rusty iron lieth, or rotten clouts, or neere to serpent's dens or rootes of trees that bring forth venomous fruit.[170:1] . . . Few of them are good to be eaten, and most of them do suffocate and strangle the eater. Therefore, I give my advice unto those that love such strange and new-fangled meates to beware of licking honey among thornes, lest the sweetnesse of one do not counteracte the sharpnesse and pricking of the other." This was Gerard's prudent advice on the eating of "Mushrumes and Toadstooles," but nowadays we know better. The fungologists tell us that those who refuse to eat any fungus but the Mushroom (Agaricus campestris) are not only foolish in rejecting most delicate luxuries, but also very wrong in wasting most excellent and nutritious food. Fungologists are great enthusiasts, and it may be well to take their prescription cum grano salis; but we may qualify Gerard's advice by the well-known enthusiastic description of Dr. Badham, who certainly knew much more of fungology than Gerard, and did not recommend to others what he had not personally tried himself. After praising the beauty of an English autumn, even in comparison with Italy, he thus concludes his pleasant and useful [171]book, "The Esculent Funguses of England": "I have myself witnessed whole hundredweights of rich, wholesome diet rotting under trees, woods teeming with food, and not one hand to gather it. . . . I have, indeed, grieved when I reflected on the straitened conditions of the lower orders to see pounds innumerable of extempore beefsteaks growing on our Oaks in the shape of Fistula hepatica; Ag. fusipes, to pickle in clusters under them; Puffballs, which some of our friends have not inaptly compared to sweet-bread for the rich delicacy of their unassisted flavour; Hydna, as good as oysters, which they very much resemble in taste; Agaricus deliciosus, reminding us of tender lamb's kidneys: the beautiful yellow Chantarelle, that kalon kagathon of diet, growing by the bushel, and no basket but our own to pick up a few specimens in our way; the sweet nutty-flavoured Boletus, in vain calling himself edulis when there was none to believe him; the dainty Orcella; the Ag. hetherophyllus, which tastes like the crawfish when grilled; the Ag. ruber and Ag. virescens, to cook in any way, and equally good in all."

As to the fairy rings (Nos. 1, 2, and 3) a great amount of legendary lore was connected with them. Browne notices them—

"A pleasant mead
Where fairies often did their measures tread,
Which in the meadows makes such circles green
As if with garlands it had crowned been."

Britannia's Pastorals.

Cowley said—

"Where once such fairies dance,
No grass does ever grow;"

and in Shakespeare's time the sheep refused to eat the grass on the fairy rings (1); I believe they now feed on it, but I have not been able to ascertain this with certainty. Others, besides the sheep, avoided them. "When the damsels of old gathered may-dew on the grass, which they made use of to improve their complexions, they left undisturbed such of it as they perceived on the fairy rings, apprehensive that the fairies should in revenge destroy their beauty, nor was it reckoned safe to put the foot within the rings, lest they should be liable to fairies' power."—Douce's Illustrations, p. 180.


[170:1] Herrick calls them "brownest Toadstones."


MUSK ROSES, see Rose.


(1) Doll. They say Poins has a good wit.
  Falstaff. He a good wit? hang him, baboon! his wit's as thick as Tewksbury Mustard; there is no more conceit in him than in a mallet.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (260).
(2) Titania. Pease-blossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!
  *       *       *       *       *
  Bottom. Your name, I beseech you, sir?
  Mustardseed. Mustardseed.
  Bottom. Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well; that same cowardly giant-like ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house: I promise you your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now. I desire your more acquaintance, good Master Mustardseed.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (165, 194).
(3) Bottom. Where's the Mounsieur Mustardseed?
  Mustardseed. Ready.
  Bottom. Give me your neaf, Mounsieur Mustardseed. Pray you, leave your courtesy, good mounsieur.
  Mustardseed. What's your will?
  Bottom. Nothing, good mounsieur, but to help Cavalery Cobweb to scratch.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (18).
(4) Grumio. What say you to a piece of beef and Mustard?
  Katharine. A dish that I do love to feed upon.
  Grumio. Ay, but the Mustard is too hot a little.
  Katharine. Why then, the beef, and let the Mustard rest.
  Grumio. Nay, then, I will not; you shall have the Mustard,
Or else you get no beef of Grumio.
  Katharine. Then both, or one, or anything thou wilt.
  Grumio. Why then, the Mustard without the beef.
Taming of the Shrew, act iv, sc. 3 (23).
(5) Rosalind. Where learned you that oath, fool?
  [173]Touchstone. Of a certain knight that swore by his honour they were good pancakes, and swore by his honour the mustard was naught; now I'll stand to it, the pancakes were naught, and the Mustard was good, yet was the knight not forsworn. . . . . You are not forsworn; no more was this knight swearing by his honour, for he never had any; or if he had, he had sworn it away before he ever saw those cakes or that Mustard.
As You Like It, act i, sc. 2 (65).

The following passage from Coles, in 1657, will illustrate No. 1: "In Gloucestershire about Teuxbury they grind Mustard and make it into balls which are brought to London and other remote places as being the best that the world affords." These Mustard balls were the form in which Mustard was usually sold, until Mrs. Clements, of Durham, in the last century, invented the method of dressing mustard-flour, like wheat-flour, and made her fortune with Durham Mustard; and it has been supposed that this was the only form in which Mustard was sold in Shakespeare's time, and that it was eaten dry as we eat pepper. But the following from an Anglo-Saxon Leech-book seems to speak of it as used exactly in the modern fashion. After mentioning several ingredients in a recipe for want of appetite for meat, it says: "Triturate all together—eke out with vinegar as may seem fit to thee, so that it may be wrought into the form in which Mustard is tempered for flavouring, put it then into a glass vessel, and then with bread, or with whatever meat thou choose, lap it with a spoon, that will help" ("Leech Book," ii. 5, Cockayne's translation). And Parkinson's account is to the same effect: "The seeds hereof, ground between two stones, fitted for the purpose, and called a quern, with some good vinegar added to it to make it liquid and running, is that kind of Mustard that is usually made of all sorts to serve as sauce both for fish and flesh." And to the same effect the "Boke of Nurture"—

"Yet make moche of Mustard, and put it not away,
For with every dische he is dewest who so lust to assay."

(L. 853).



(1) Euphronius. I was of late as petty to his ends
As is the morn-dew on the Myrtle-leaf
To his grand sea.
Antony and Cleopatra, act iii, sc. 12 (8).
(2) Isabella. Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled Oak
Than the soft Myrtle.
Measure for Measure, act ii, sc. 2 (114).
(3)   Venus, with young Adonis sitting by her,
Under a Myrtle shade began to woo him.
Passionate Pilgrim (143).
(4)   Then sad she hasteth to a Myrtle grove.
Venus and Adonis (865).

Myrtle is of course the English form of myrtus; but the older English name was Gale, a name which is still applied to the bog-myrtle.[174:1] Though a most abundant shrub in the South of Europe, and probably introduced into England before the time of Shakespeare, the myrtle was only grown in a very few places, and was kept alive with difficulty, so that it was looked upon not only as a delicate and an elegant rarity, but as the established emblem of refined beauty. In the Bible it is always associated with visions and representations of peacefulness and plenty, and Milton most fitly uses it in the description of our first parents' "blissful bower"—

"The roofe
Of thickest covert was inwoven shade,
Laurel and Mirtle, and what higher grew
Of firm and fragrant leaf."

Paradise Lost, iv.

In heathen times the Myrtle was dedicated to Venus, and from this arose the custom in mediæval times of using the flowers for bridal garlands, which thus took the place of Orange blossoms in our time.

"The lover with the Myrtle sprays
Adorns his crisped cresses."

Drayton, Muse's Elysium.


"And I will make thee beds of Roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered o'er with leaves of Myrtle."

Roxburghe Ballads.

As a garden shrub every one will grow the Myrtle that can induce it to grow. There is no difficulty in its cultivation, provided only that the climate suits it, and the climate that suits it best is the neighbourhood of the sea. Virgil describes the Myrtles as "amantes littora myrtos," and those who have seen the Myrtle as it grows on the Devonshire and Cornish coasts will recognise the truth of his description.


[174:1] "Gayle; mirtus."—Catholicon Anglicum, p. 147, with note.


  Emilia. This garden has a world of pleasures in't,
What flowre is this?
  Servant. 'Tis called Narcissus, madam.
  Emilia. That was a faire boy certaine, but a foole,
To love himselfe; were there not maides enough?
Two Noble Kinsmen, act ii, sc. 2 (130).

See Daffodils, p. 73.


(1) Cordelia. Crown'd with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds,
With Burdocks, Hemlock, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 4. (3).
(2) Queen. Crow-flowers, Nettles, Daisies, and Long Purples.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 7 (170). (See Crow-flowers.)
(3) Antonio. He'd sow't with Nettle-seed.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 1 (145).
(4) Saturninus. Look for thy reward
Among the Nettles at the Elder Tree.
Titus Andronicus, act ii, sc. 3 (271).
[176](5) Sir Toby. How now, my Nettle of India?
Twelfth Night, act ii, sc. 5 (17).[176:1]
(6) King Richard. Yield stinging Nettles to my enemies.
Richard II, act iii, sc. 2 (18).
(7) Hotspur. I tell you, my lord fool, out of this Nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 3 (8).
(8) Ely. The Strawberry grows underneath the Nettle.
Henry V, act i, sc. 1 (60).
(9) Cressida. I'll spring up in his tears, an 'twere a Nettle against May.
Troilus and Cressida, act i, sc. 2 (190).
(10) Menenius. We call a Nettle but a Nettle, and
The fault of fools but folly.
Coriolanus, act ii, sc. 1 (207).
(11) Laertes. Goads, Thorns, Nettles, tails of wasps.
Winter's Tale, act i, sc. 2 (329).
(12) Iago. If we will plant Nettles or sow Lettuce.
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (324). (See Hyssop.)
(13) Palamon. Who do bear thy yoke
As 'twer a wreath of roses, yet is heavier
Than lead itselfe, stings more than Nettles.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act v, sc. 1 (101).

The Nettle needs no introduction; we are all too well acquainted with it, yet it is not altogether a weed to be despised. We have two native species (Urtica urens and U. dioica) with sufficiently strong qualities, but we have a third (U. pilulifera) very curious in its manner of bearing its female flowers in clusters of compact little balls, which is far more virulent than either of our native species, and is said by Camden to have been introduced by the Romans to chafe their bodies when frozen by the cold of Britain. The story is probably quite apocryphal, but the plant is an alien, and only grows in a few places.

Both the Latin and English names of the plant record its qualities. Urtica is from uro, to burn; and Nettle is (etymologically) the same word as needle, and the plant is so named, not for its stinging qualities, but because at one [177]time the Nettle supplied the chief instrument of sewing; not the instrument which holds the thread, and to which we now confine the word needle, but the thread itself, and very good thread it made. The poet Campbell says in one of his letters—"I have slept in Nettle sheets, and dined off a Nettle table-cloth, and I have heard my mother say that she thought Nettle cloth more durable than any other linen." It has also been used for making paper, and for both these purposes, as well as for rope-making, the Rhea fibre of the Himalaya, which is simply a gigantic Nettle (Urtica or Böhmeria nivea), is very largely cultivated. Nor is the Nettle to be despised as an article of food.[177:1] In many parts of England the young shoots are boiled and much relished. In 1596 Coghan wrote of it: "I will speak somewhat of the Nettle that Gardeners may understand what wrong they do in plucking it for the weede, seeing it is so profitable to many purposes. . . . Cunning cookes at the spring of the yeare, when Nettles first bud forth, can make good pottage with them, especially with red Nettles" ("Haven of Health," p. 86). In February, 1661, Pepys made the entry in his diary—"We did eat some Nettle porridge, which was made on purpose to-day for some of their coming, and was very good." Andrew Fairservice said of himself—"Nae doubt I should understand my trade of horticulture, seeing I was bred in the Parish of Dreepdaily, where they raise lang Kale under glass, and force the early Nettles for their spring Kale" ("Rob Roy," c. 7). Gipsies are said to cook it as an excellent vegetable, and M. Soyer tried hard, but almost in vain, to recommend it as a most dainty dish. Having so many uses, we are not surprised to find that it has at times been regularly cultivated as a garden crop, so that I have somewhere seen an account of tithe of Nettles being taken; and in the old churchwardens' account of St. Michael's, Bath, is the entry in the year 1400, "Pro Urticis venditis ad Lawrencium Bebbe, 2d."

Nettles are much used in the neighbourhood of London to pack plums and other fruit with bloom on them, so that in some market gardens they are not only not destroyed, [178]but encouraged, and even cultivated. And this is an old practice; Lawson's advice in 1683 was—"For the gathering of all other stone-fruit, as Nectarines, Apricots, Peaches, Pear-plums, Damsons, Bullas, and such like, . . . in the bottom of your large sives where you put them, you shall lay Nettles, and likewise in the top, for that will ripen those that are most unready" ("New Orchard," p. 96).

The "Nettle of India" (No. 5) has puzzled the commentators. It is probably not the true reading; if the true reading, it may only mean a Nettle of extra-stinging quality; but it may also mean an Eastern plant that was used to produce cowage, or cow-itch. "The hairs of the pods of Mucuna pruriens, &c., constitute the substance called cow-itch, a mechanical Anthelmintic."—Lindley. This plant is said to have been called the Nettle of India, but I do not find it so named in Shakespeare's time.

In other points the Nettle is a most interesting plant. Microscopists find in it most beautiful objects for the microscope; entomologists value it, for it is such a favourite of butterflies and other insects, that in Britain alone upwards of thirty insects feed solely on the Nettle plant, and it is one of those curious plants which mark the progress of civilization by following man wherever he goes.[178:1]

But as a garden plant the only advice to be given is to keep it out of the garden by every means. In good cultivated ground it becomes a sad weed if once allowed a settlement. The Himalayan Böhmerias, however, are handsome, but only for their foliage; and though we cannot, perhaps, admit our roadside Dead Nettles, which however are much handsomer than many foreign flowers which we carefully tend and prize, yet the Austrian Dead Nettle (Lamium orvala, "Bot. Mag.," v. 172) may be well admitted as a handsome garden plant.


[176:1] This a modern reading; the correct reading is "metal."


"Si forte in medio positorum abstemius herbis
Vivis et Urtica."—Horace, Ep. i, 10, 8.
"Mihi festa luce coquatar Urtica."—Persius vi, 68.

[178:1] "L'ortie s'établit partout dans les contrées temperées à la suite de l'homme pour disparaitre bientôt si le lieu on elle s'est ainsi implanteè cesse d'etre habité."—M. Lavaillee, Sur les Arbres, &c., 1878.

NUT, see Hazel.



(1) Dauphin. He's [the horse] of the colour of the Nutmeg.
Henry V, act iii, sc. 7 (20).
(2) Clown. I must have . . . Nutmegs Seven.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (50).
(3) Armado. The omnipotent Mars, of lances the almighty,
Gave Hector a gift—
  Dumain. A gilt Nutmeg.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (650).

Gerard gives a very fair description of the Nutmeg tree under the names of Nux moschata or Myristica; but it is certain that he had not any personal knowledge of the tree, which was not introduced into England or Europe for nearly 200 years after. Shakespeare could only have known the imported Nut and the Mace which covers the Nut inside the shell, and they were imported long before his time. Chaucer speaks of it as—

"Notemygge to put in ale
Whether it be moist or stale,
Or for to lay in cofre."—Sir Thopas.

And in another poem we have—

"And trees ther were gret foisoun,
That beren notes in her sesoun.
Such as men Notemygges calle
That swote of savour ben withalle."

Romaunt of the Rose.

The Nutmeg tree (Myrista officinalis) "is a native of the Molucca or Spice Islands, principally confined to that group denominated the Islands of Banda, lying in lat. 4° 30´ south; and there it bears both blossom and fruit at all seasons of the year" ("Bot. Mag.," 2756, with a full history of the spice, and plates of the tree and fruit).



(1) Prospero. If thou more murmur'st, I will rend an Oak,
And peg thee in his knotty entrails,
Tempest, act i, sc. 2 (294).
(2) Prospero. To the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove's stout Oak With his own bolt.
Ibid., act v, sc. 1 (44).
(3) Quince. At the Duke's Oak we meet.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act i, sc. 2 (113).
(4) Benedick. An Oak with but one green leaf on it would have answered her.
Much Ado About Nothing, act ii, sc. 1 (247).
(5) Isabella. Thou split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled Oak.
Measure for Measure, act ii, sc. 2 (114). (See Myrtle.)
(6) 1st Lord. He lay along
Under an Oak, whose antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that brawls along this wood.
As You Like It, act ii, sc. 1 (30).
(7) Oliver. Under an Oak, whose boughs were Mossed with age,
And high top bald with dry antiquity.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 3 (156).
(8) Paulina. As ever Oak or stone was sound.
Winter's Tale, act ii, sc. 3 (89).
(9) Messenger. And many strokes, though with a little axe,
Hew down and fell the hardest-timber'd Oak.
3rd Henry VI, act ii, sc. 1 (54).
(10) Mrs. Page. There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter,
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter time at still midnight
Walk round about an Oak, with great ragg'd horns.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Page. Why yet there want not many that do fear
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's Oak.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Mrs. Ford. That Falstaff at that Oak shall meet with us.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act iv, sc. 4 (28).
[181]  Fenton. To night at Herne's Oak.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act iv, sc. 6 (19).
  Falstaff. Be you in the park about midnight at Herne's Oak, and you shall see wonders.
Ibid., act v, sc. 1 (11).
  Mrs. Page. They are all couched in a pit hard by Herne's Oak.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Mrs. Ford. The hour draws on. To the Oak, to the Oak!
Ibid., act v, sc. 3 (14).
  Quickly. Till 'tis one o'clock
Our dance of custom round about the Oak
Of Herne the Hunter, let us not forget.
Ibid., act v, sc. 5 (78).
(11) Timon. That numberless upon me stuck as leaves
Do on the Oak, have with one winter's brush
Fell from their boughs, and left me open, bare
For every storm that blows.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (263).
(12) Timon. The Oaks bear mast, the Briers scarlet hips.
Ibid. (422).
(13) Montano. What ribs of Oak, when mountains melt on them,
Can hold the mortise?
Othello, act ii, sc. 1 (7).
(14) Iago. She that so young could give out such a seeming
To seel her father's eyes up close as Oak.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 3 (209).
(15) Marcius. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down Oaks with rushes.
Coriolanus, act i, sc. 1 (183).
(16) Arviragus. To thee the Reed is as the Oak.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (267).
(17) Lear. Oak-cleaving thunderbolts.
King Lear, act iii, sc. 2 (5).
(18) Nathaniel. Though to myself forsworn, to thee I'll faithful prove;
Those thoughts to me were Oaks, to thee like Osiers bow'd.
Love's Labour's Lost, act iv, sc. 2 (111).
  [The same lines in the "Passionate Pilgrim."]
[182](19) Nestor. When the splitting wind
Makes flexible the knees of knotted Oaks.
Troilus and Cressida, act i, sc. 3 (49).
(20) Volumnia. To a cruel war I sent him, from whence he returned, his brows bound with Oak.
Coriolanus, act i, sc. 3 (14).
  Volumnia. He comes the third time home with the Oaken garland.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 1 (137).
  Cominius. He proved best man i' the field, and for his meed
Was brow-bound with the Oak.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 2 (101).
  2nd Senator. The worthy fellow is our general; he's the rock, the Oak, not to be wind-shaken.
Ibid., act v, sc. 2 (116).
  Volumnia. To charge thy sulphur with a bolt
That should but rive an Oak.
Ibid., act v, sc. 3 (152).
(21) Casca. I have seen tempests when the scolding winds
Have rived the knotty Oaks.
Julius Cæsar, act i, sc. 3 (5).
(22) Celia. I found him under a tree like a dropped Acorn.
  Rosalind. It may well be called Jove's tree, when it drops forth such fruit.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (248).
(23) Prospero. Thy food shall be
The fresh-brook muscles, wither'd roots, and husks
Wherein the Acorn cradled.
Tempest, act i, sc. 2 (462).
(24) Puck. All their elves for fear
Creep into Acorn-cups, and hide them there.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (30).
(25) Lysander. Get you gone, you dwarf—you beed—you Acorn!
Ibid., act iii, sc. 2 (328).
(26) Posthumus. Like a full-Acorned boar—a German one.
Cymbeline, act ii, sc. 5 (16).
(27) Messenger. About his head he weares the winner's Oke.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 2 (154).
(28)   Time's glory is . . . .
To dry the old Oak's sap.
Lucrece (950).

[183] Here are several very pleasant pictures, and there is so much of historical and legendary lore gathered round the Oaks of England that it is very tempting to dwell upon them. There are the historical Oaks connected with the names of William Rufus, Queen Elizabeth, and Charles II.; there are the wonderful Oaks of Wistman's Wood (certainly the most weird and most curious wood in England, if not in Europe); there are the many passages in which our old English writers have loved to descant on the Oaks of England as the very emblems of unbroken strength and unflinching constancy; there is all the national interest which has linked the glories of the British navy with the steady and enduring growth of her Oaks; there is the wonderful picturesqueness of the great Oak plantations of the New Forest, the Forest of Dean, and other royal forests; and the equally, if not greater, picturesqueness of the English Oak as the chief ornament of our great English parks; there is the scientific interest which suggested the growth of the Oak for the plan of our lighthouses, and many other interesting points. It is very tempting to stop on each and all of these, but the space is too limited, and they can all be found ably treated of and at full length in any of the books that have been written on the English forest trees.


(1) Iris. Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Vetches, Oats, and Pease.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (60).
(2) Spring Song. When shepherds pipe on Oaten straws.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (913).
(3) Bottom. Truly a peck of provender; I could munch your good dry Oats.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (35).
(4) Grumio. Ay, sir, they be ready; the Oats have eaten the horses.
Taming of the Shrew, act iii, sc. 2 (207).
[184](5) First Carrier. Poor fellow, never joyed since the price of Oats rose—it was the death of him.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 1 (13).
(6) Captain. I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried Oats,
If it be man's work, I'll do it.
King Lear, act v, sc. 3 (38).

Shakespeare's Oats need no comment, except to note that the older English name for Oats was Haver (see "Promptorium Parvulorum," p. 372; and "Catholicon Anglicum," p. 178, with the notes). The word was in use in Shakespeare's time, and still survives in the northern parts of England.


(1) Clarence. To whom the heavens in thy nativity
Adjudged an Olive branch.
3rd Henry VI, act iv, sc. 6 (33). (See Laurel.)
(2) Alcibiades. Bring me into your city,
And I will use the Olive with my sword.
Timon of Athens, act v, sc. 4 (81).
(3) Cæsar. Prove this a prosperous day, the three-nook'd world
Shall bear the Olive freely.
Antony and Cleopatra, act iv, sc. 6 (5).
(4) Rosalind. If you will know my house
'Tis at the tuft of Olives here hard by.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 5 (74).
(5) Oliver. Where, in the purlieus of this forest stands
A sheepcote fenced about with Olive trees?
Ibid., act iv, sc. 3 (77).
(6) Viola. I bring no overture of war, no taxation of homage; I hold the Olive in my hand; my words are as full of peace as matter.
Twelfth Night, act i, sc. 5 (224).
(7) Westmoreland. There is not now a rebel's sword unsheath'd,
But peace puts forth her Olive everywhere.
2nd Henry IV, act iv, sc. 4 (86).
(8)   And peace proclaims Olives of endless age.
Sonnet cvii.

[185] There is no certain record by which we can determine when the Olive tree was first introduced into England. Miller gives 1648 as the earliest date he could discover, at which time it was grown in the Oxford Botanic Garden. But I have no doubt it was cultivated long before that. Parkinson knew it as an English tree in 1640, for he says: "It flowereth in the beginning of summer in the warmer countries, but very late with us; the fruite ripeneth in autumne in Spain, &c., but seldome with us" ("Herball," 1640). Gerard had an Oleaster in his garden in 1596, which Mr. Jackson considers to have been the Olea Europea, and with good reason, as in his account of the Olive in the "Herbal" he gives Oleaster as one of the synonyms of Olea sylvestris, the wild Olive tree. But I think its introduction is of a still earlier date. In the Anglo-Saxon "Leech Book," of the tenth century, published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, I find this prescription: "Pound Lovage and Elder rind and Oleaster, that is, wild Olive tree, mix them with some clear ale and give to drink" (book i. c. 37, Cockayne's translation). As I have never heard that the bark of the Olive tree was imported, it is only reasonable to suppose that the leeches of the day had access to the living tree. If this be so, the tree was probably imported by the Romans, which they are very likely to have done. But it seems very certain that it was in cultivation in England in Shakespeare's time and he may have seen it growing.

But in most of the eight passages in which he names the Olive, the reference to it is mainly as the recognized emblem of peace; and it is in that aspect, and with thoughts of its touching Biblical associations that we must always think of the Olive. It is the special plant of honour in the Bible, by "whose fatness they honour God and man," linked with the rescue of the one family in the ark, and with the rescue of the whole family of man in the Mount of Olives. Every passage in which it is named in the Bible tells the uniform tale of its usefulness, and the emblematical lessons it was employed to teach; but I must not dwell on them. Nor need I say how it was equally honoured by Greeks and Romans. As a plant which produced an abundant and necessary crop of fruit with little or no labour (φύτευμ' [186]ἀχείρωτον ἀυτόποιον, Sophocles; "non ulla est oleis cultura," Virgil), it was looked upon with special pride, as one of the most blessed gifts of the gods, and under the constant protection of Minerva, to whom it was thankfully dedicated.[186:1]

We seldom see the Olive in English gardens, yet it is a good evergreen tree to cover a south wall, and having grown it for many years, I can say that there is no plant—except, perhaps, the Christ's Thorn—which gives such universal interest to all who see it. It is quite hardy, though the winter will often destroy the young shoots; but not even the winter of 1860 did any serious mischief, and fine old trees may occasionally be seen which attest its hardiness. There is one at Hanham Hall, near Bristol, which must be of great age. It is at least 30ft. high, against a south wall, and has a trunk of large girth; but I never saw it fruit or flower in England until this year (1877), when the Olive in my own garden flowered, but did not bear fruit. Miller records trees at Campden House, Kensington, which, in 1719, produced a good number of fruit large enough for pickling, and other instances have been recorded lately. Perhaps if more attention were paid to the grafting, fruit would follow. The Olive has the curious property that it seems to be a matter of indifference whether, as with other fruit, the cultivated sort is grafted on the wild one, or the wild on the cultivated one; the latter plan was certainly sometimes the custom among the Greeks and Romans, as we know from St. Paul (Romans xi. 16-25) and other writers, and it is sometimes the custom now. There are a great number of varieties of the cultivated Olive, as of other cultivated fruit.

One reason why the Olive is not more grown as a garden tree is that it is a tree very little admired by most travellers. Yet this is entirely a matter of taste, and some of the greatest authorities are loud in its praises as a picturesque tree. One short extract from Ruskin's account of the tree will suffice, though the whole description is well worth reading. "The Olive," he says, "is one of the most characteristic and beautiful features of all southern scenery. . . . What the Elm and the Oak are to England, the Olive is to [187]Italy. . . . It had been well for painters to have felt and seen the Olive tree, to have loved it for Christ's sake; . . . to have loved it even to the hoary dimness of its delicate foliage, subdued and faint of hue, as if the ashes of the Gethsemane agony had been cast upon it for ever; and to have traced line by line the gnarled writhing of its intricate branches, and the pointed fretwork of its light and narrow leaves, inlaid on the blue field of the sky, and the small, rosy-white stars of its spring blossoming, and the heads of sable fruit scattered by autumn along its topmost boughs—the right, in Israel, of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow—and, more than all, the softness of the mantle, silver-grey, and tender, like the down on a bird's breast, with which far away it veils the undulation of the mountains."—Stones of Venice, vol. iii. p. 176.


[186:1] See Spenser's account of the first introduction of the Olive in "Muiopotmos."


(1) Bottom. And, most dear actors, eat no Onions nor Garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 2 (42).
(2) Lafeu. Mine eyes smell Onions, I shall weep anon:
Good Tom Drum, lend me a handkercher.
All's Well that Ends Well, act v, sc. 3 (321).
(3) Enobarbus. Indeed the tears live in Onion that should water this Sorrow.
Antony and Cleopatra, act i, sc. 2 (176).
(4) Enobarbus. Look, they weep,
And I, an ass, am Onion-eyed.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 2 (34).
(5) Lord. And if the boy have not a woman's gift
To rain a shower of commanded tears,
An Onion will do well for such a shift,
Which in a napkin being close conveyed
Shall in despite enforce a watery eye.
Taming of the Shrew, Induction, sc. 1 (124).

There is no need to say much of the Onion in addition to what I have already said on the Garlick and Leek, except to [188]note that Onions seem always to have been considered more refined food than Leek and Garlick. Homer makes Onions an important part of the elegant little repast which Hecamede set before Nestor and Machaon—

"Before them first a table fair she spread,
Well polished and with feet of solid bronze;
On this a brazen canister she placed,
And Onions as a relish to the wine,
And pale clear honey and pure Barley meal."

Iliad, book xi. (Lord Derby's translation).

But in the time of Shakespeare they were not held in such esteem. Coghan, writing in 1596, says of them: "Being eaten raw, they engender all humourous and corruptible putrifactions in the stomacke, and cause fearful dreames, and if they be much used they snarre the memory and trouble the understanding" ("Haven of Health," p. 58).

The name comes directly from the French oignon, a bulb, being the bulb par excellence, the French name coming from the Latin unio, which was the name given to some species of Onion, probably from the bulb growing singly. It may be noted, however, that the older English name for the Onion was Ine, of which we may perhaps still have the remembrance in the common "Inions." The use of the Onion to promote artificial crying is of very old date, Columella speaking of "lacrymosa cæpe," and Pliny of "cæpis odor lacrymosus." There are frequent references to the same use in the old English writers.

The Onion has been for so many centuries in cultivation that its native home has been much disputed, but it has now "according to Dr. Regel ('Gartenflora,' 1877, p. 264) been definitely determined to be the mountains of Central Asia. It has also been found in a wild state in the Himalaya Mountains."—Gardener's Chronicle.


(1) Beatrice. The count is neither sad nor sick, nor merry nor well; but civil count, civil as an Orange, and something of that jealous complexion.
Much Ado About Nothing, act ii, sc. 1 (303).
[189](2) Claudio. Give not this rotten Orange to your friend.
Much Ado About Nothing, act iv, sc. 1 (33).
(3) Bottom. I will discharge it either in your straw-coloured beard, your Orange-tawny beard.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act i, sc. 2 (95).
(4) Bottom. The ousel cock so black of hue
With Orange-tawny bill.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 1 (128).
(5) Menenius. You wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an Orange-wife and a fosset-seller.
Coriolanus, act ii, sc. 1 (77).

I should think it very probable that Shakespeare may have seen both Orange and Lemon trees growing in England. The Orange is a native of the East Indies, and no certain date can be given for its introduction into Europe. Under the name of the Median Apple a tree is described first by Theophrastus, and then by Virgil and Palladius, which is supposed by some to be the Orange; but as they all describe it as unfit for food, it is with good reason supposed that the tree referred to is either the Lemon or Citron. Virgil describes it very exactly—

"Ipsa ingens arbor, faciemque simillima lauro
Et si non alium late jactaret odorem
Laurus erat; folia hand ullis labentia ventis
Flos ad prima tenax."—Georgic ii, 131.

Dr. Daubeny, who very carefully studied the plants of classical writers, decides that the fruit here named is the Lemon, and says that it "is noticed only as a foreign fruit, nor does it appear that it was cultivated at that time in Italy, for Pliny says it will only grow in Media and Assyria, though Palladius in the fourth century seems to have been familiar with it, and it was known in Greece at the time of Theophrastus." But if Oranges were grown in Italy or Greece in the time of Pliny and Palladius, they did not continue in cultivation. Europe owes the introduction or reintroduction to the Portuguese, who brought them from the East, and they were grown in Spain in the eleventh century. The first notice of them in Italy was in the year 1200, when a tree was planted by St. Dominic at Rome. The first grown in France is said to have been the old tree which [190]lived at the Orangery at Versailles till November, 1876, and was called the Grand Bourbon. "In 1421 the Queen of Navarre gave the gardener the seed from Pampeluna; hence sprang the plant, which was subsequently transported to Chantilly. In 1532 the Orange tree was sent to Fontainebleau, whence, in 1684, Louis XIV. transferred it to Versailles, where it remained the largest, finest, and most fertile member of the Orangery, its head being 17yds. round." It is not likely that a tree of such beauty should be growing so near England without the English gardeners doing their utmost to establish it here. But the first certain record is generally said to be in 1595, when (on the authority of Bishop Gibson) Orange trees were planted at Beddington, in Surrey, the plants being raised from seeds brought into England by Sir Walter Raleigh. The date, however, may be placed earlier, for in Lyte's "Herbal" (1578) it is stated that "In this countrie the Herboristes do set and plant the Orange trees in there gardens, but they beare no fruite without they be wel kept and defended from cold, and yet for all that they beare very seldome." There are no Oranges in Gerard's catalogue of 1596, and though he describes the trees in his "Herbal," he does not say that he then grew them or had seen them growing. But by 1599 he had obtained them, for they occur in his catalogue of that date under the name of "Malus orantia, the Arange or Orange tree," so that it is certainly very probable that Shakespeare may have seen the Orange as a living tree.

As to the beauty of the Orange tree, there is but one opinion. Andrew Marvel described it as—

"The Orange bright,
Like golden lamps in a green night."


George Herbert drew a lesson from its power of constant fruiting—

"Oh that I were an Orenge tree,
That busie plant;
Then should I ever laden be,
And never want
Some fruit for him that dressed me."


[191] And its handsome evergreen foliage, its deliciously scented flowers, and its golden fruit—

"A fruit of pure Hesperian gold
That smelled ambrosially"—


at once demand the admiration of all. It only fails in one point to make it a plant for every garden: it is not fully hardy in England. It is very surprising to read of those first trees at Beddington, that "they were planted in the open ground, under a movable covert during the winter months; that they always bore fruit in great plenty and perfection; that they grew on the south side of a wall, not nailed against it, but at full liberty to spread; that they were 14ft. high, the girth of the stem 29in., and the spreading of the branches one way 9ft., and 12ft. another; and that they so lived till they were entirely killed by the great frost in 1739-40."—Miller.[191:1] These trees must have been of a hardy variety, for certainly Orange trees, even with such protection, do not now so grow in England, except in a few favoured places on the south coast. There is one species which is fairly hardy, the Citrus trifoliata, from Japan,[191:2] forming a pretty bush with sweet flowers, and small but useless fruit (seldom, I believe, produced out-of-doors); it is often used as a stock on which to graft the better kinds, but perhaps it might be useful for crossing, so as to give its hardiness to a variety with better flower and fruit.

Commercially the Orange holds a high place, more than 20,000 good fruit having been picked from one tree, and England alone importing about 2,000,000 bushels annually. These are almost entirely used as a dessert fruit and for marmalade, but it is curious that they do not seem to have been so used when first imported. Parkinson makes no mention of their being eaten raw, but says they "are used as sauce for many sorts of meats, in respect of the sweet sourness giving a relish and delight whereinsoever they are used;" and he mentions another curious use, no longer in [192]fashion, I believe, but which might be worth a trial: "The seeds being cast into the grounde in the spring time will quickly grow up, and when they are a finger's length high, being pluckt up and put among Sallats, will give them a marvellous fine aromatick or spicy tast, very acceptable."[192:1]


[191:1] In an "Account of Gardens Round London in 1691," published in the "Archæologia," vol. xii., these Orange trees are described as if always under glass.

[191:2] "Bot. Mag.," 6513.

[192:1] For an account of the early importation of the fruit see "Promptorium Parvulorum," p. 371, note.

OSIER, see Willow.


(1) Perdita. Bold Oxlips, and
The Crown Imperial.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (125).
(2) Oberon. I know a bank where the wild Thyme blows,
Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (249).
(3)   Oxlips in their cradles growing.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Intro. song.

The true Oxlip (Primula eliator) is so like both the Primrose and Cowslip that it has been by many supposed to be a hybrid between the two. Sir Joseph Hooker, however, considers it a true species. It is a handsome plant, but it is probably not the "bold Oxlip" of Shakespeare, or the plant which is such a favourite in cottage gardens. The true Oxlip (P. elatior of Jacquin) is an eastern counties' plant; while the common forms of the Oxlip are hybrids between the Cowslip and Primrose. (See Cowslip and Primrose.)


(1) Rosalind. Look here what I found on a Palm tree.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (185).
[193](2) Hamlet. As love between them like the Palm might flourish.
Hamlet, act v, sc. 2 (40).
(3) Volumnia. And bear the Palm for having bravely shed
Thy wife and children's blood.
Coriolanus, act v, sc. 3 (117).
(4) Cassius. And bear the Palm alone.
Julius Cæsar, act i, sc. 2 (131).
(5) Painter. You shall see him a Palm in Athens again, and flourish with the highest.
Timon of Athens, act v, sc. 1 (12).
(6) The Vision.—Enter, solemnly tripping one after another, six personages, clad in white robes, wearing on their heads garlands of Bays, and golden vizards on their faces, branches of Bays or Palm in their hands.
Henry VIII, act iv, sc. 2.

To these passages may be added the following, in which the Palm tree is certainly alluded to though it is not mentioned by name—

  Sebastian. That in Arabia
There is one tree, the Phœnix' throne; one Phœnix
At this hour reigning there.
Tempest, act iii, sc. 3 (22).[193:1]

And from the poem by Shakespeare, published in Chester's "Love's Martyr," 1601.

"Let the bird of loudest lay
On the sole Arabian tree
Herald sad and Trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey."

Two very distinct trees are named in these passages. In the last five the reference is to the true Palm of Biblical and classical fame, as the emblem of victory, and the typical representation of life and beauty in the midst of barren waste and deserts. And we are not surprised at the veneration in which the tree was held, when we consider either [194]the wonderful grace of the tree, or its many uses in its native countries, so many, that Pliny says that the Orientals reckoned 360 uses to which the Palm tree could be applied. Turner, in 1548, said: "I never saw any perfit Date tree yet, but onely a little one that never came to perfection;"[194:1] and whether Shakespeare ever saw a living Palm tree is doubtful, but he may have done so. (See Date.) Now there are a great number grown in the large houses of botanic and other gardens, the Palm-house at Kew showing more and better specimens than can be seen in any other collection in Europe: even the open garden can now boast of a few species that will endure our winters without protection. Chamærops humilis and Fortunei seem to be perfectly hardy, and good specimens may be seen in several gardens; Corypha australis is also said to be quite hardy, and there is little doubt but that the Date Palm (Phœnix dactylifera), which has long been naturalized in the South of Europe, would live in Devonshire and Cornwall, and that of the thousand species of Palms growing in so many different parts of the world, some will yet be found that may grow well in the open air in England.

But the Palm tree in No. 1 is a totally different tree, and much as Shakespeare has been laughed at for placing a Palm tree in the Forest of Arden, the laugh is easily turned against those who raise such an objection. The Palm tree of the Forest of Arden is the

"Satin-shining Palm
On Sallows in the windy gleams of March"—

Idylls of the King—Vivien.

that is, the Early Willow (Salix caprea) and I believe it is so called all over England, as it is in Northern Germany, and probably in other northern countries. There is little doubt that the name arose from the custom of using the Willow branches with the pretty golden catkins on Palm Sunday as a substitute for Palm branches.

"In Rome upon Palm Sunday they bear true Palms,
The Cardinals bow reverently and sing old Psalms;
[195] Elsewhere those Psalms are sung 'mid Olive branches,
The Holly branch supplies the place among the avalanches;
More northern climes must be content with the sad Willow."

Goethe (quoted by Seeman).

But besides Willow branches, Yew branches are sometimes used for the same purpose, and so we find Yews called Palms. Evelyn says they were so called in Kent; they are still so called in Ireland, and in the churchwarden's accounts of Woodbury, Devonshire, is the following entry: "Memorandum, 1775. That a Yew or Palm tree was planted in the churchyard, ye south side of the church, in the same place where one was blown down by the wind a few days ago, this 25th of November."[195:1]

How Willow or Yew branches could ever have been substituted for such a very different branch as a Palm it is hard to say, but in lack of a better explanation, I think it not unlikely that it might have arisen from the direction for the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus xxiii. 40: "Ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, the branches of Palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and Willows of the brook." But from whatever cause the name and the custom was derived, the Willow was so named in very early times, and in Shakespeare's time the name was very common. Here is one instance among many—

"Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
The Palms and May make country houses gay,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay—
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pee-we, to-witta-woo."

T. Nash. 1567-1601.


[193:1] I do not include among "Palms" the passage in Hamlet, act i, sc. 1: "In the most high and palmy state of Rome," because I bow to Archdeacon Nares' judgment that "palmy" here means "grown to full height, in allusion to the palms of the stag's horns, when they have attained to their utmost growth." He does not, however, decide this with certainty, and the question may be still an open one.

[194:1] "Names of Herbes," s.v. Palma.

[195:1] In connection with this, Turner's account of the Palm in 1538 is worth quoting: "Palmā arborem in anglia nunq' me vidisse memini. Indie tamen ramis palmarū (ut illi loqūntur) sœpius sacerdotē dicentē andivi. Bendic etiā et hos palmarū ramos, quū prœter salignas frondes nihil omnino viderē ego, quid alii viderint nescio. Si nobis palmarum frondes non suppeterent; prœstaret me judice mutare lectionem et dicere. Benedic hos salicū ramos q' falso et mendaciter salicum frondes palmarum frondes vocare."—Libellus, De re Herbaria, s.v. Palma.



(1) Ophelia. And there is Pansies—that's for thoughts.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 5 (176).
(2) Lucentio. But see, while idly I stood looking on,
I found the effect of Love-in-idleness.
Taming of the Shrew, act i, sc. 1 (155).
(3) Oberon. Yet mark'd I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it Love-in-idleness.
Fetch me that flower; the herb I show'd thee once;
The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (165).
(4) Oberon. Dian's Bud o'er Cupid's flower
Hath such free and blessed power.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (78).

The Pansy is one of the oldest favourites in English gardens, and the affection for it is shown in the many names that were given to it. The Anglo-Saxon name was Banwort or Bonewort, though why such a name was given to it we cannot now say. Nor can we satisfactorily explain its common names of Pansy or Pawnce (from the French, pensées—"that is, for thoughts," says Ophelia), or Heart's-ease,[196:1] which name was originally given to the Wallflower. The name Cupid's flower seems to be peculiar to Shakespeare, but the other name, Love-in-idle, or idleness, is said to be still in use in Warwickshire, and signifies love in vain, or to no purpose, as in Chaucer: "The prophet David saith; If God ne kepe not the citee, in ydel waketh he that keptit it."[196:2] And in Tyndale's translation of the New [197]Testament, "I have prechid to you, if ye holden, if ye hav not bileved ideli" (1 Cor. xv. 2). "Beynge plenteuous in werk of the Lord evermore, witynge that youre traveil is not idel in the Lord" (1 Cor. xv. 58).

But beside these more common names, Dr. Prior mentions the following: "Herb Trinity, Three faces under a hood, Fancy, Flamy,[197:1] Kiss me, Cull me or Cuddle me to you, Tickle my fancy, Kiss me ere I rise, Jump up and kiss me, Kiss me at the garden gate, Pink of my John, and several more of the same amatory character."

Spenser gives the flower a place in his "Royal aray" for Elisa—

"Strowe me the grounde with Daffadowndillies,
And Cowslips, and Kingcups, and loved Lillies,
The pretie Pawnce,
And the Chevisaunce
Shall match with the fayre Flower Delice."

And in another place he speaks of the "Paunces trim"—F. Q., iii. 1. Milton places it in Eve's couch—

"Flowers were the couch,
Pansies, and Violets, and Asphodel,
And Hyacinth, earth's freshest, softest lap."

He names it also as part of the wreath of Sabrina—

"Pansies, Pinks, and gaudy Daffadils;"

and as one of the flowers to strew the hearse of Lycidas—

"The White Pink and the Pansie streaked with jet,
The glowing Violet."


[196:1] "The Pansie Heart's ease Maiden's call."—Drayton Ed., ix.

[196:2] And again—

"The other heste of hym is this,
Take not in ydel my name or amys."

Pardeners Tale.

"Eterne God, that through thy purveance
Ledest this world by certein governance,
In idel, as men sein, ye nothinge make."

The Frankelynes Tale.

[197:1] "Flamy, because its colours are seen in the flame of wood."—Flora Domestica, 166.


  Biondello. I knew a wench married in an afternoon as she went to the garden for Parsley to stuff a rabbit.
Taming of the Shrew, act iv, sc 4 (99).

[198] Parsley is the abbreviated form of Apium petroselinum, and is a common name to many umbelliferous plants, but the garden Parsley is the one meant here. This well-known little plant has the curious botanic history that no one can tell what is its native country. In 1548 Turner said, "Perseley groweth nowhere that I knowe, but only in gardens."[198:1] It is found in many countries, but is always considered an escape from cultivation. Probably the plant has been so altered by cultivation as to have lost all likeness to its original self.

Our forefathers seem to have eaten the parsley root as well as the leaves—

"Quinces and Peris ciryppe with Parcely rotes
Right so bygyn your mele."

Russell's Boke of Nurture, 826.

"Peres and Quynces in syrupe with Percely rotes."

Wynkyn de Worde's Boke of Kervynge.


[198:1] "Names of Herbes," s.v. Apium.


(1) Prince Henry. To take note how many pair of silk stockings thou hast, viz., these, and those that were thy Peach-coloured ones!
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 2 (17).
(2) Pompey. Then there is here one Master Caper, at the suit of Master Threepile the mercer, for some four suits of Peach-coloured satin, which now peaches him a beggar.
Measure for Measure, act iv, sc. 3 (10).

The references here are only to the colour of the Peach blossom, yet the Peach tree was a well-known tree in Shakespeare's time, and the fruit was esteemed a great delicacy, and many different varieties were cultivated. Botanically the Peach is closely allied to the Almond, and still more closely to the Apricot and Nectarine; indeed, many writers consider both the Apricot and Nectarine to be only varieties of the Peach.

The native country of the Peach is now ascertained to be [199]China, and not Persia, as the name would imply. It probably came to the Romans through Persia, and was by them introduced into England. It occurs in Archbishop's Ælfric's "Vocabulary" in the tenth century, "Persicarius, Perseoctreow;" and John de Garlande grew it in the thirteenth century, "In virgulto Magistri Johannis, pessicus fert pessica." It is named in the "Promptorium Parvulorum" as "Peche, or Peske, frute—Pesca Pomum Persicum;" and in a note the Editor says: "In a role of purchases for the Palace of Westminster preserved amongst the miscellaneous record of the Queen's remembrance, a payment occurs, Will le Gardener, pro iij koygnere, ij pichere iijs.—pro groseillere iijd, pro j peschere vjd." a.d. 1275, 4 Edw: 1—

We all know and appreciate the fruit of the Peach, but few seem to know how ornamental a tree is the Peach, quite independent of the fruit. In those parts where the soil and climate are suitable, the Peach may be grown as an ornamental spring flowering bush. When so grown preference is generally given to the double varieties, of which there are several, and which are not by any means the new plants that they are generally supposed to be, as they were cultivated both by Gerard and Parkinson.


(1) Falstaff. I warrant they would whip me with their fine wits till I were as crest-fallen as a dried Pear.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act iv, sc. 5 (101).
(2) Parolles. Your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered Pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry, 'tis a withered Pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet 'tis a withered Pear.
All's Well that Ends Well, act i, sc. 1 (174).
(3) Clown. I must have Saffron to colour the Warden pies.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (48).
(4) Mercutio. O, Romeo . . . thou a Poperin Pear.
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 1 (37).

If we may judge by these few notices, Shakespeare does not seem to have had much respect for the Pear, all the [200]references to the fruit being more or less absurd or unpleasant. Yet there were good Pears in his day, and so many different kinds that Gerard declined to tell them at length, for "the stocke or kindred of Pears are not to be numbered; every country hath his peculiar fruit, so that to describe them apart were to send an owle to Athens, or to number those things that are without number."

Of these many sorts Shakespeare mentions by name but two, the Warden and the Poperin, and it is not possible to identify these with modern varieties with any certainty. The Warden was probably a general name for large keeping and stewing Pears, and the name was said to come from the Anglo-Saxon wearden, to keep or preserve, in allusion to its lasting qualities. But this is certainly a mistake. In an interesting paper by Mr. Hudson Turner, "On the State of Horticulture in England in early times, chiefly previous to the fifteenth century," printed in the "Archæological Journal," vol. v. p. 301, it is stated that "the Warden Pear had its origin and its name from the horticultural skill of the Cistercian Monks of Wardon Abbey in Bedfordshire, founded in the twelfth century. Three Warden Pears appeared in the armorial bearings of the Abbey."

It was certainly an early name. In the "Catholicon Anglicum" we find: "A Parmayn, volemum, Anglice, a Warden;" and in Parkinson's time the name was still in use, and he mentions two varieties, "The Warden or Lukewards Pear are of two sorts, both white and red, both great and small." (The name of Lukewards seems to point to St. Luke's Day, October 18, as perhaps the time either for picking the fruit or for its ripening.) "The Spanish Warden is greater than either of both the former, and better also." And he further says: "The Red Warden and the Spanish Warden are reckoned amongst the most excellent of Pears, either to bake or to roast, for the sick or for the sound—and indeed the Quince and the Warden are the only two fruits that are permitted to the sick to eat at any time." The Warden pies of Shakespeare's day, coloured with Saffron, have in our day been replaced by stewed Pears coloured with Cochineal.[200:1]

[201] I can find no guide to the identification of the Poperin Pear, beyond Parkinson's description: "The summer Popperin and the winter Popperin, both of them very good, firm, dry Pears, somewhat spotted and brownish on the outside. The green Popperin is a winter fruit of equal goodnesse with the former." It was probably a Flemish Pear, and may have been introduced by the antiquary Leland, who was made Rector of Popering by Henry VIII. The place is further known to us as mentioned by Chaucer—

"A knyght was fair and gent
In batail and in tornament,
His name was Sir Thopas.
Alone he was in fer contre,
In Flaundres, all beyonde the se,
At Popering in the place."

As a garden tree the Pear is not only to be grown for its fruit, but as a most ornamental tree. Though the individual flowers are not, perhaps, so handsome as the Apple blossoms, yet the growth of the tree is far more elegant; and an old Pear tree, with its curiously roughened bark, its upright, tall, pyramidal shape, and its sheet of snow-white blossoms, is a lovely ornament in the old gardens and lawns of many of our country houses. It is by some considered a British tree, but it is probably only a naturalized foreigner, originally introduced by the Romans.


[200:1] The Warden was sometimes spoken of as different from Pears. Sir Hugh Platt speaks of "Wardens or Pears."


(1) Iris. Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Vetches, Oats, and Pease.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (60).
(2) Carrier. Peas and Beans are as dank here as a dog.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 1 (9). (See Beans.)
(3) Biron. This fellow picks up wit, as pigeons Pease.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (315).
(4) Bottom. I had rather have a handful or two of dried Peas.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (41).
[202](5) Fool. That a shealed Peascod?
King Lear, act i, sc. 4 (219).
(6) Touchstone. I remember the wooing of a Peascod instead of her.
As You Like It, act ii, sc. 4 (51).
(7) Malvolio. Not yet old enough to be a man, nor young enough for a boy; as a Squash is before 'tis a Peascod, or a Codling when 'tis almost an Apple.
Twelfth Night, act i, sc. 5 (165).
(8) Hostess. Well, fare thee well! I have known thee these twenty-nine years come Peascod time.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (412).
(9) Leontes. How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
This Squash, this gentleman.
Winter's Tale, act i, sc. 2 (159).
(10) Peascod, Pease-Blossom, and Squash—Dramatis personæ in Midsummer Night's Dream.

There is no need to say much of Peas, but it may be worth a note in passing that in old English we seldom meet with the word Pea. Peas or Pease (the Anglicised form of Pisum) is the singular, of which the plural is Peason. "Pisum is called in Englishe a Pease;" says Turner—

"Alle that for me thei doo pray,
Helpeth me not to the uttermost day
The value of a Pese."

The Child of Bristowe, p. 570.

And the word was so used in and after Shakespeare's time, as by Ben Jonson—

"A pill as small as a pease."—Magnetic Lady.

The Squash is the young Pea, before the Peas are formed in it, and the Peascod is the ripe shell of the Pea before it is shelled.[202:1] The garden Pea (Pisum sativum) is the cultivated form of a plant found in the South of Europe, but very much altered by cultivation. It was probably not introduced into England as a garden vegetable long before [203]Shakespeare's time. It is not mentioned in the old lists of plants before the sixteenth century, and Fuller tells us that in Queen Elizabeth's time they were brought from Holland, and were "fit dainties for ladies, they came so far and cost so dear."

The beautiful ornamental Peas (Sweet Peas, Everlasting Peas, &c.) are of different family (Lathyrus, not Pisum), but very closely allied. There is a curious amount of folklore connected with Peas, and in every case the Peas and Peascods are connected with wooing the lasses. This explains Touchstone's speech (No. 6). Brand gives several instances of this, from which one stanza from Browne's "Pastorals" may be quoted—

"The Peascod greene, oft with no little toyle,
He'd seek for in the fattest, fertil'st soile,
And rend it from the stalke to bring it to her,
And in her bosom for acceptance wooe her."

Book ii, song 3.


[202:1] The original meaning of Peascod is a bag of peas. Cod is bag as Matt. x. 10—"ne codd, ne hlaf, ne feo on heora gyrdlum—'not a bag, not a loaf, not (fee) money in their girdles.'"—Cockayne, Spoon and Sparrow, p. 518.



(1) Hotspur. Such protest of Pepper-gingerbread.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 1 (260). (See Ginger, 9.)
(2) Falstaff. An I have not forgotten what the inside of a church is made of, I am a Pepper-corn, a brewer's horse.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 3 (8).
(3) Poins. Pray God, you have not murdered some of them.
  Falstaff. Nay, that's past praying for, for I have Peppered two of them.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 4 (210).
(4) Falstaff. I have led my ragamuffins, where they are Peppered.
Ibid., act v, sc. 3 (36).
(5) Mercutio. I am Peppered, I warrant, for this world.
Romeo and Juliet, act iii, sc. 1 (102).
[204](6) Ford. He cannot 'scape me, 'tis impossible he should; he cannot creep into a halfpenny purse or into a Pepper-box.
Merry Wives, act iii, sc. 5 (147).
(7) Sir Andrew. Here's the challenge, read it; I warrant there's vinegar and Pepper in't.
Twelfth Night, act iii, sc. 4 (157).

Pepper is the seed of Piper nigrum, "whose drupes form the black Pepper of the shops when dried with the skin upon them, and white Pepper when that flesh is removed by washing."—Lindley. It is, like all the pepperworts, a native of the Tropics, but was well known both to the Greeks and Romans. By the Greeks it was probably not much used, but in Rome it seems to have been very common, if we may judge by Horace's lines—

"Deferar in vicum, vendentem thus et odores,
Et piper, et quidquid chartis amicitur ineptis."

Epistolæ ii, 1-270.

And in another place he mentions "Pipere albo" as an ingredient in cooking. Juvenal mentions it as an article of commerce, "piperis coemti" (Sat. xiv. 293). Persius speaks of it in more than one passage, and Pliny describes it so minutely that he evidently not only knew the imported spice, but also had seen the living plant. By the Romans it was probably introduced into England, being frequently met with in the Anglo-Saxon Leech-books. It is mentioned by Chaucer—

"And in an erthen pot how put is al,
And salt y-put in and also Paupere."

Prologue of the Chanoune's Yeman.

It was apparently, like Ginger, a very common condiment in Shakespeare's time, and its early introduction into England as an article of commerce is shown by passages in our old law writers, who speak of the reservation of rent, not only in money, but in "pepper, cummim, and wheat;" whence arose the familiar reservation of a single peppercorn as a rent so nominal as to have no appreciable pecuniary value.[204:1]

[205] The red or Cayenne Pepper is made from the ground seeds of the Capsicum, but I do not find that it was used to known in the sixteenth century.


[204:1] Littleton does not mention Pepper when speaking of rents reserved otherwise than in money, but specifies as instances, "un chival, ou un esperon dor, ou un clovegylofer"—a horse, a golden spur, or a clove gilliflower.


  Caliban. I prythee let me bring thee where Crabs grow;
And I with my long nails will dig thee Pig-nuts.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 2 (171).

Pig-nuts or Earth-nuts are the tuberous roots of Conopodium denudatum (Bunium flexuosum), a common weed in old upland pastures; it is found also in woods. This root is really of a pleasant flavour when first eaten, but leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. It is said to be much improved by roasting, and to be then quite equal to Chestnuts. Yet it is not much prized in England except by pigs and children, who do not mind the trouble of digging for it. But the root lies deep, and the stalk above it is very brittle, and "when the little 'howker' breaks the white shank he at once desists from his attempt to reach the root, for he believes that it will elude his search by sinking deeper and deeper into the ground" (Johnston). I have never heard of its being cultivated in England, but it is cultivated in some European countries, and much prized as a wholesome and palatable root.


(1) Prospero. She did confine thee,
  *       *       *       *       *
  Into a cloven Pine;
  *       *       *       *       *
  It was mine art,
When I arrived and heard thee, that made gape
The Pine and let thee out.
Tempest, act i, sc. 2 (273).
(2) Suffolk. Thus droops this lofty Pine and hangs his sprays.
2nd Henry VI, act ii, sc. 3 (45).
[206](3) Prospero. And by the spurs plucked up
The Pine and Cedar.
Tempest, act v, sc. 1 (47).
(4) Agamemnon. As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap,
Infect the sound Pine and divert his grain
Tortive and errant from his course of growth.
Troilus and Cressida, act i, sc. 3 (7).
(5) Antony. Where yonder Pine does stand
I shall discover all.
  *       *       *       *       *
  This Pine is bark'd
That overtopped them all.
Antony and Cleopatra, act iv, sc. 12 (23).
(6) Belarius. As the rudest wind
That by the top doth take the mountain Pine,
And make him stoop to the vale.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (174).
(7) 1st Lord. Behind the tuft of Pines I met them.
Winter's Tale, act ii, sc. 1 (33).
(8) Richard. But when from under this terrestrial ball
He fires the proud top of the eastern Pines.
Richard II, act iii, sc. 2 (41).
(9) Antonio. You may as well forbid the mountain Pines
To wag their high tops and to make no noise,
When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven.
Merchant of Venice, act iv, sc. 1 (75).
(10)   Ay me! the bark peel'd from the lofty Pine,
His leaves will wither, and his sap decay;
So must my soul, her bark being peel'd away.
Lucrece (1167).

In No. 8 is one of those delicate touches which show Shakespeare's keen observation of nature, in the effect of the rising sun upon a group of Pine trees. Mr. Ruskin says that with the one exception of Wordsworth no other English poet has noticed this. Wordsworth's lines occur in one of his minor poems on leaving Italy—

"My thoughts become bright like yon edging of Pines
On the steep's lofty verge—how it blackened the air!
But touched from behind by the sun, it now shines
With threads that seem part of its own silver hair."

While Mr. Ruskin's account of it is this: "When the sun [207]rises behind a ridge of Pines, and those Pines are seen from a distance of a mile or two against his light, the whole form of the tree, trunk, branches and all, becomes one frost-work of intensely brilliant silver, which is relieved against the clear sky like a burning fringe, for some distance on either side of the sun."—Stones of Venice, i. 240.

The Pine is the established emblem of everything that is "high and lifted up," but always with a suggestion of dreariness and solitude. So it is used by Shakespeare and by Milton, who always associated the Pine with mountains; and so it has always been used by the poets, even down to our own day. Thus Tennyson—

"They came, they cut away my tallest Pines—
My dark tall Pines, that plumed the craggy ledge—
High o'er the blue gorge, and all between
The snowy peak and snow-white cataract
Fostered the callow eaglet; from beneath
Whose thick mysterious boughs in the dark morn
The panther's roar came muffled while I sat
Down in the valley."

Complaint of Ænone.

Sir Walter Scott similarly describes the tree in the pretty and well-known lines—

"Aloft the Ash and warrior Oak
Cast anchor in the rifted rock;
And higher yet the Pine tree hung
His shattered trunk, and frequent flung,
Where seemed the cliffs to meet on high,
His boughs athwart the narrow sky."

Yet the Pine which was best known to Shakespeare, and perhaps the only Pine he knew, was the Pinus sylvestris, or Scotch fir, and this, though flourishing on the highest hills where nothing else will flourish, certainly attains its fullest beauty in sheltered lowland districts. There are probably much finer Scotch firs in Devonshire than can be found in Scotland. This is the only indigenous Fir, though the Pinus pinaster claims to be a native of Ireland, some cones having been supposed to be found in the bogs, but the claim is not generally allowed (there is no proof of the discovery of the cones); and yet it has become so completely naturalized on the coast of Dorsetshire, especially about Bournemouth, [208]that it has been admitted into the last edition of Sowerby's "English Botany."

But though the Scotch Fir is a true native, and was probably much more abundant in England formerly than it is now, the tree has no genuine English name, and apparently never had. Pine comes directly and without change from the Latin, Pinus, as one of the chief products, pitch, comes directly from the Latin, pix. In the early vocabularies it is called "Pin-treow," and the cones are "Pin-nuttes." They were also called "Pine apples," and the tree was called the Pine-Apple Tree.[208:1] This name was transferred to the rich West Indian fruit[208:2] from its similarity to a fir-cone, and so was lost to the fruit of the fir-tree, which had to borrow a new name from the Greek; but it was still in use in Shakespeare's day—

"Sweete smelling Firre that frankensence provokes,
And Pine Apples from whence sweet juyce doth come."

Chester's Love's Martyr.

And Gerard describing the fruit of the Pine Tree, says: "This Apple is called in . . . Low Dutch, Pyn Appel, and in English, Pine-apple, clog, and cones." We also find "Fyre-tree," which is a true English word meaning the "fire-tree;" but I believe that "Fir" was originally confined to the timber, from its large use for torches, and was not till later years applied to the living tree.

The sweetness of the Pine seeds, joined to the difficulty of extracting them, and the length of time necessary for their ripening, did not escape the notice of the emblem-writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. With them it was the favourite emblem of the happy results of persevering labour. Camerarius, a contemporary of Shakespeare and a great botanist, gives a pretty plate of a man holding a Fir-cone, with this moral: "Sic ad virtutem et honestatem et laudabiles actiones non nisi per labores ac varias difficultates perveniri potest, at postea sequuntur suavissimi fructus." He acknowledges his obligation for this moral to the [209]proverb of Plautus: "Qui e nuce nucleum esse vult, frangat nucem" ("Symbolorum," &c., 1590).

In Shakespeare's time a few of the European Conifers were grown in England, including the Larch, but only as curiosities. The very large number of species which now ornament our gardens and Pineta from America and Japan were quite unknown. The many uses of the Pine—for its timber, production of pitch, tar, resin, and turpentine—were well known and valued. Shakespeare mentions both pitch and tar.


[208:1] For many examples see "Catholicon Anglicum," s.v. Pyne-Tree, with note.

[208:2] The West Indian Pine Apple is described by Gerard as "Ananas, the Pinea, or Pine Thistle."


(1) Romeo. A most courteous exposition.
  Mercutio. Nay, I am the very Pink of courtesy.
  Romeo. Pink for flower.
  Mercutio. Right.
  Romeo. Why, then is my pump well flowered.
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 4 (60).
(2) Maiden. Pinks of odour faint.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Introd. song.

To these may perhaps be added the following, from the second verse sung by Mariana in "Measure for Measure," act iv, sc. 1 (337)—

Hide, oh hide, those hills of snow
Which thy frozen bosom bears!
On whose tops the Pinks that grow
Are of those that April wears.

The authority is doubtful, but it is attributed to Shakespeare in some editions of his poems.

The Pink or Pincke was, as now, the name of the smaller sorts of Carnations, and was generally applied to the single sorts. It must have been a very favourite flower, as we may gather from the phrase "Pink of courtesy," which means courtesy carried to its highest point; and from Spenser's pretty comparison—

"Her lovely eyes like Pincks but newly spred."

Amoretti, Sonnet 64.

[210] The name has a curious history. It is not, as most of us would suppose, derived from the colour, but the colour gets its name from the plant. The name (according to Dr. Prior) comes through Pinksten (German), from Pentecost, and so was originally applied to one species—the Whitsuntide Gilliflower. From this it was applied to other species of the same family. It is certainly "a curious accident," as Dr. Prior observes, "that a word that originally meant 'fiftieth' should come to be successively the name of a festival of the Church, of a flower, of an ornament in muslin called pinking, of a colour, and of a sword stab." Shakespeare uses the word in three of its senses. First, as applied to a colour—

Come, thou monarch of the Vine,
Plumpy Bacchus with Pink eyne.

Antony and Cleopatra, act ii, sc. 7.[210:1]

Second, as applied to an ornament of dress in Romeo's person—

Then is my pump well flowered;

Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 4.

i.e., well pinked. And in Grumio's excuses to Petruchio for the non-attendance of the servants—

Nathaniel's coat, Sir, was not fully made,
And Gabriel's pumps were all unpinked
I' the heel.

Taming of the Shrew, act iv, sc. 1.

And thirdly, as the pinked ornament in muslin—

There's a haberdasher's wife of small wit near him, that railed upon me till her Pink'd porringer fell off her head.

Henry VIII, act v, sc. 3.

And as applied to the flower in the passage quoted above. He also uses it in another sense—

This Pink is one of Cupid's carriers;
Clap on more sail—pursue!

Merry Wives of Windsor, act ii, sc. 7.

where pink means a small country vessel often mentioned under that name by writers of the sixteenth century.


[210:1] It is very probable that this does not refer to the colour—"Pink = winking, half-shut."—Schmidt. And see Nares, s.v. Pinke eyne.



  Iris. Thy banks with Pioned and twilled brims,
Which spongy April at thy best betrims,
To make cold nymphs chaste crowns.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (65).

There is much dispute about this passage, the dispute turning on the question whether "Pioned" has reference to the Peony flower or not. The word by some is supposed to mean only "digged," and it doubtless often had this meaning,[211:1] though the word is now obsolete, and only survives with us in "pioneer," which, in Shakespeare's time, meant "digger" only, and not as now, "one who goes before to prepare the way"—thus Hamlet—

Well said, old mole! cans't work i' the earth so fast?
A worthy pioner?

Hamlet, act i, sc. 5 (161).

and again—

There might you see the labouring pioner
Begrim'd with sweat, and smeared all with dust.

Lucrece (1380).

But this reading seems very tame, tame in itself, and doubly tame when taken in connection with the context, and "Certainly savours more of the commentators' prose than of Shakespeare's poetry" ("Edinburgh Review," 1872, p. 363). I shall assume, therefore, that the flower is meant, spelt in the form of "Piony," instead of Peony or Pæony.[211:2]

The Pæony (P. corallina) is sometimes allowed a place in the British flora, having been found apparently wild at the Steep Holmes in the Bristol Channel and a few other places, [212]but it is now considered certain that in all these places it is a garden escape. Gerard gave one such habitat: "The male Peionie groweth wilde upon a Coneyberry in Betsome, being in the parish of Southfleet, in Kent, two miles from Gravesend, and in the ground sometimes belonging to a farmer there, called John Bradley;" but on this his editor adds the damaging note: "I have been told that our author himselfe planted that Peionee there, and afterwards seemed to find it there by accident; and I do believe it was so, because none before or since have ever seen or heard of it growing wild since in any part of this kingdome."

But though not a native plant, it had been cultivated in England long before Shakespeare's and Gerard's time. It occurs in most of the old vocabularies from the tenth century downwards, and in Shakespeare's time the English gardens had most of the European species that are now grown, including also the handsome double-red and white varieties. Since his time the number of species and varieties has been largely increased by the addition of the Chinese and Japanese species, and by the labours of the French nurserymen, who have paid more attention to the flower than the English.

In the hardy flower garden there is no more showy family than the Pæony. They have flowers of many colours, from almost pure white and pale yellow to the richest crimson; and they vary very much in their foliage, most of them having large fleshy leaves, "not much unlike the leaves of the Walnut tree," but some of them having their leaves finely cut and divided almost like the leaves of Fennel (P. tenuifolia). They further vary in that some are herbaceous, disappearing entirely in winter, while others, Moutan or Tree Pæonies, are shrubs; and in favourable seasons, when the shrub is not injured by spring frosts, there is no grander shrub than an old Tree Pæony in full flower.

Of the many different species the best are the Moutans, which, according to Chinese tradition, have been grown in China for 1500 years, and which are now produced in great variety of colour; P. corallina, for the beauty of its coral-like seeds; P. Cretica, for its earliness in flowering; P. tenuifolia, single and double, for its elegant foliage; P. Whitmaniana, for its pale yellow but very fleeting flowers, [213]which, before they are fully expanded, have all the appearance of immense Globe-flowers (trollius); P. lobata, for the wonderful richness of its bright crimson flowers; and P. Whitleji, a very old and very double form of P. edulis, of great size, and most delicate pink and white colour.



"Which to outbarre, with painful pyonings,
From sea to sea, he heapt a mighty mound!"

Spenser, F. Q., ii, 10, 46.

[211:2] The name was variously spelt, e.g.

"And other trees there was mane one
The Pyany, the Poplar, and the Plane."

The Squyr of Lowe Degre, 39.

"The pretie Pinke and purple Pianet."

Cutwode, Caltha Poetarum, 1599, st. 24.

"A Pyon (Pyion A.) dionia, herba est."—Catholicon Anglicum.

PIPPIN, see Apple.


  Daughter. I have sent him where a Cedar,
Higher than all the rest, spreads like a Plane
Fast by a brook.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act ii, sc. 6 (4).

There is no certain record how long the Plane has been introduced into England; it is certainly not a native tree, nor even an European tree, but came from the East, and was largely planted and much admired both by the Greeks and Romans. We know from Pliny that it was growing in France in his day on the part opposite Britain, and the name occurs in the old vocabularies. But from Turner's evidence in 1548 it must have been a very scarce tree in the sixteenth century. He says: "I never saw any Plaine tree in Englande, saving once in Northumberlande besyde Morpeth, and an other at Barnwell Abbey besyde Cambryge." And more than a hundred years later Evelyn records a special visit to Lee to inspect one as a great curiosity. The Plane is not only a very handsome tree, and a fast grower, but from the fact that it yearly sheds its bark it has become one of the most useful trees for growing in towns. The wood is of very little value. To the emblem writers the Plane was an example of something good to the eye, but of no real use. Camerarius so moralizes it (Pl. xix.), and, quoting Virgil's "steriles platanos," he says of it, "umbram non fructum platanus dat."



(1) Costard. O sir, Plantain, a plain Plantain! no l'envoy, no l'envoy; no salve, sir, but a Plantain.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Moth. By saying that a costard was broken in a shin. Then call'd you for the l'envoy.
  Costard. True! and I for a Plantain.
Loves Labour's Lost, act iii, sc. 1 (76).
(2) Romeo. Your Plantain leaf is excellent for that.
  Benvolio. For what, I pray thee?
  Romeo. For your broken shin.
Romeo and Juliet, act i, sc. 2 (52).
(3) Troilus. As true as steel, as Plantage to the moon.
Troilus and Cressida, act iii, sc. 2 (184).
(4) Palamon. These poore slight sores
Neede not a Plantin.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act i, sc. 2 (65).

The most common old names for the Plantain were Waybroad (corrupted to Weybread, Wayborn, and Wayforn) and Ribwort. It was also called Lamb's-tongue and Kemps, while the flower spike with the stalk was called Cocks and Cockfighters (still so called by children).[214:1] The old name of Ribwort was derived from the ribbed leaves, while Waybroad marked its universal appearance, scattered by all roadsides and pathways, and literally bred by the wayside. It has a similar name in German, Wegetritt, that is Waytread; and on this account the Swedes name the plant Wagbredblad, and the Indians of North America Whiteman's Foot, for it springs up near every new settlement, having sprung up after the English settlers, not only in America, but also in Australia and New Zealand—

"Whereso'er they move, before them
Swarms the stinging fly, the Ahmo,
Swarms the bee, the honey-maker:
[215] Wheresoe'er they tread, beneath them
Springs a flower unknown among us,
Springs the 'White man's foot' in blossom."

Longfellow's Hiawatha.

And "so it is a mistake to say that Plantain is derived from the likeness of the plant to the sole of the foot, as in Richardson's Dictionary. Rather say, because the herb grows under the sole of the foot."—Johnston. How, or when, or why the plant lost its old English names to take the Latin name of Plantain, it is hard to say. It occurs in a vocabulary of the names of plants of the middle of the thirteenth century—"Plantago, Planteine, Weibrode," and apparently came to us from the French, "Cy est assets de Planteyne, Weybrede."—Walter de Biblesworth (13th cent.) But with the exception of Chaucer[215:1] I believe Shakespeare is almost the only early writer that uses the name, though it is very certain that he did not invent it; but "Plantage" (No 3), which is doubtless the same plant, is peculiar to him.[215:2]

It was as a medical herb that our forefathers chiefly valued the Plantain, and for medical purposes its reputation was of the very highest. In a book of recipes (Lacnunga) of the eleventh century, by Ælfric, is an address to the Waybroad, which is worth extracting at length—

"And thou, Waybroad!
Mother of worts,
Open from eastward,
Mighty within;
Over thee carts creaked,
Over thee Queens rode,
Over thee brides bridalled,
Over thee bulls breathed,
All these thou withstood'st
Venom and vile things
And all the loathly ones
That through the land rove."

Cockayne's Translation.

[216] In another earlier recipe book the Waybroad is prescribed for twenty-two diseases, one after another; and in another of the same date we are taught how to apply it: "If a man ache in half his head . . . delve up Waybroad without iron ere the rising of the sun, bind the roots about the head with Crosswort by a red fillet, soon he will be well." But the Plantain did not long sustain its high reputation, which even in Shakespeare's time had become much diminished. "I find," says Gerard, "in ancient writers many good-morrowes, which I think not meet to bring into your memorie againe; as that three roots will cure one griefe, four another disease, six hanged about the neck are good for another maladie, &c., all which are but ridiculous toys." Yet the bruised leaves still have some reputation as a styptic and healing plaster among country herbalists, and perhaps the alleged virtues are not altogether fanciful.

As a garden plant the Plantain can only be regarded as a weed and nuisance, especially on lawns, where it is very difficult to destroy them. Yet there are some curious varieties which may claim a corner where botanical curiosities are grown. The Plantain seems to have a peculiar tendency to run into abnormal forms, many of which will be found described and figured in Dr. Masters' "Vegetable Teratology," and among these forms are two which are exactly like a double green Rose, and have been cultivated as the Rose Plantain for many years. They were grown by Gerard, who speaks of "the beauty which is in the plant," and compared it to "a fine double Rose of a hoary or rusty greene colour." Parkinson also grew it and valued it highly.


[214:1] Of these names Plantain properly belongs to Plantago major; Lamb's-tongue to P. media; and Kemps, Cocks, and Ribwort to P. lanceolata.


"His forehead dropped as a stillatorie
Were ful of Plantayn and peritorie."

Prologue of the Chanoune's Yeman.

[215:2] Nares, and Schmidt from him, consider Plantage = anything planted.


(1) Constance. Give grandam kingdom, and it grandam will
Give it a Plum, a Cherry, and a Fig.
King John, act ii, sc. 1 (161).
(2) Hamlet. The satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and Plum-tree gum.
Hamlet, act ii, sc. 2 (198).
[217](3) Simpcox. A fall off a tree.
  Wife. A Plum-tree, master.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Gloucester. Mass, thou lovedst Plums well that wouldst venture so.
  Simpcox. Alas! good master, my wife desired some Damsons,
And made me climb with danger of my life.
2nd Henry VI, act ii, sc. 1 (196).
(4) Evans. I will dance and eat Plums at your wedding.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act v, sc. 5.[217:1]
(5)   The mellow Plum doth fall, the green sticks fast,
Or, being early pluck'd, is sour to taste.
Venus and Adonis (527).
(6)   Like a green Plum that hangs upon a tree,
And falls, through wind, before the fall should be.
Passionate Pilgrim (135).
(7) Slender. Three veneys for a dish of stewed Prunes.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act i, sc. 1 (295).
(8) Falstaff. There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed Prune.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 3 (127).
(9) Pompey. Longing (saving your honour's presence) for stewed Prunes.
  *       *       *       *       *
  And longing, as I said, for Prunes.
  *       *       *       *       *
  You being then, if you he remembered, cracking the stones of the foresaid Prunes.
Measure for Measure, act ii, sc. 1 (92).
(10) Clown. Four pounds of Prunes, and as many of Raisins of the sun.
Winters Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (51).
(11) Falstaff. Hang him, rogue; he lives upon mouldy stewed Prunes and dried cakes.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (158).

Plums, Damsons, and Prunes may conveniently be joined together, Plums and Damsons being often used synonymously (as in No. 3), and Prunes being the dried Plums. The Damsons were originally, no doubt, a good variety from the East, and nominally from Damascus.[217:2] They seem to [218]have been considered great delicacies, as in a curious allegorical drama of the fifteenth century, called "La Nef de Sante," of which an account is given by Mr. Wright: "Bonne-Compagnie, to begin the day, orders a collation, at which, among other things, are served Damsons (Prunes de Damas), which appear at this time to have been considered as delicacies. There is here a marginal direction to the purport that if the morality should be performed in the season when real Damsons could not be had, the performers must have some made of wax to look like real ones" ("History of Domestic Manners," &c.).

The garden Plums are a good cultivated variety of our own wild Sloe, but a variety that did not originate in England, and may very probably have been introduced by the Romans. The Sloe and Bullace are, speaking botanically, two sub-species of Prunus communis, while the Plum is a third sub-species (P. communis domestica). The garden Plum is occasionally found wild in England, but is certainly not indigenous. It is somewhat strange that our wild plant is not mentioned by Shakespeare under any of its well-known names of Sloe, Bullace, and Blackthorn. Not only is it a shrub of very marked appearance in our hedgerows in early spring, when it is covered with its pure white blossoms, but Blackthorn staves were indispensable in the rough game of quarterstaff, and the Sloe gave point to more than one English proverb: "as black as a Sloe," was a very common comparison, and "as useless as a Sloe," or "not worth a Sloe," was as common.

"Sir Amys answered, 'Tho'
I give thee thereof not one Sloe!
Do right all that thou may!"

Amys and AmylionEllis's Romances.

"The offecial seyde, Thys ys nowth
Be God, that me der bowthe,
Het ys not worthe a Sclo."

The Frere and His BoyRitson's Ancient Popular Poetry.

Though even as a fruit the Sloe had its value, and was not altogether despised by our ancestors, for thus Tusser advises—


"By thend of October go gather up Sloes,
Have thou in readines plentie of thoes,
And keepe them in bed-straw, or still on the bow,
To staie both the flix of thyselfe and thy cow."

As soon as the garden Plum was introduced, great attention seems to have been paid to it, and the gardeners of Shakespeare's time could probably show as good Plums as we can now. "To write of Plums particularly," said Gerard, "would require a peculiar volume. . . . Every clymate hath his owne fruite, far different from that of other countries; my selfe have threescore sorts in my garden, and all strange and rare; there be in other places many more common, and yet yearly commeth to our hands others not before knowne."


[217:1] Omitted in the Globe edition.

[217:2] Bullein, in his "Government of Health," 1588, calls them "Damaske Prunes."


(1) Lafeu. Go to, sir, you were beaten in Italy for picking a kernel out of a Pomegranate.
All's Well that Ends Well, act ii, sc. 3 (275).
(2) Juliet. It was the nightingale and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon Pomegranate tree.[219:1]
Romeo and Juliet, act iii, sc. 5 (2).
(3) Francis. Anon, anon, sir, Look down into the Pomegarnet, Ralph.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (41).

There are few trees that surpass the Pomegranate in interest and beauty combined. "Whoever has seen the Pomegranate in a favourable soil and climate, whether as a single shrub or grouped many together, has seen one of the most beautiful of green trees; its spiry shape and thick-tufted foliage of vigorous green, each growing shoot shaded into tenderer verdure and bordered with crimson and adorned [220]with the loveliest flowers; filmy petals of scarlet lustre are put forth from the solid crimson cup, and the ripe fruit of richest hue and most admirable shape."—Lady Calcott's Scripture Herbal. A simpler but more valued testimony to the beauty of the Pomegranate is borne in its selection for the choicest ornaments on the ark of the Tabernacle, on the priest's vestments, and on the rich capitals of the pillars in the Temple of Solomon.

The native home of the Pomegranate is not very certainly known, but the evidence chiefly points to the North of Africa. It was very early cultivated in Egypt, and was one of the Egyptian delicacies so fondly remembered by the Israelites in their desert wanderings, and is frequently met with in Egyptian sculpture. It was abundant in Palestine, and is often mentioned in the Bible, and always as an object of beauty and desire. It was highly appreciated by the Greeks and Romans, but it was probably not introduced into Italy in very early times, as Pliny is the first author that certainly mentions it, though some critics have supposed that the aurea mala and aurea poma of Virgil and Ovid were Pomegranates. From Italy the tree soon spread into other parts of Europe, taking with it its Roman name of Punica malus or Pomum granatum. Punica showed the country from which the Romans derived it, while granatum (full of grains) marked the special characteristic of the fruit that distinguished it from all other so-called Apples. Gerard says: "Pomegranates grow in hot countries, towards the south in Italy, Spaine, and chiefly in the kingdom of Granada, which is thought to be so named of the great multitude of Pomegranates, which be commonly called Granata."[220:1] This derivation is very doubtful, but was commonly accepted in Gerard's day.[220:2] The Pomegranate lives and flowers well in England, but when it was first introduced is not recorded. I do not find it in the old vocabularies, but a prominent place is given to it in "that Gardeyn, wele wrought," "the garden that so lyked me;"—


"There were, and that I wote fulle well,
Of Pomgarnettys a fulle gret delle,
That is a fruit fulle welle to lyke,
Namely to folk whaune they ben sike."

Romaunt of the Rose.

Turner describes it in 1548: "Pomegranat trees growe plentuously in Italy and in Spayne, and there are certayne in my Lorde's gardene at Syon, but their fruite cometh never with perfection."[221:1]

Gerard had it in 1596, but from his description it seems that it was a recent acquisition. "I have recovered," he says, "divers young trees hereof, by sowing of the seed or grains of the height of three or four cubits, attending God's leisure for floures and fruit." Three years later, in 1599, it is noticed for its flowers in Buttes's "Dyet's Dry Dinner" (as quoted by Brand), where it is asserted that "if one eate three small Pomegranate flowers (they say) for a whole yeare he shall be safe from all manner of eyesore;" and Gerard speaks of the "wine which is pressed forth of the Pomegranate berries named Rhoitas or wine of Pomegranates," but this may have been imported. But, when introduced, it at once took kindly to its new home, so that Parkinson was able to describe its flowers and fruits from personal observation. In all the southern parts of England it grows very well, and is one of the very best trees we have to cover a south wall; it also grows well in towns, as may be seen at Bath, where a great many very fine specimens have been planted in the areas in front of the houses, and have grown to a considerable height. When thus planted and properly pruned, the tree will bear its beautiful flowers from May all through the summer; but generally the tree is so pruned that it cannot flower. It should be pruned like a Banksian Rose, and other plants that bear their flowers on last year's shoots, i.e., simply thinned, but not cut back or spurred. With this treatment the branches may be allowed to grow in their natural way without being nailed in, and if the single-blossomed species be grown, the flowers in good summers will bear fruit. In 1876 I counted on a tree in Bath more than sixty fruit; the fruits will perhaps seldom [222]be worth eating, but they are curious and handsome. The sorts usually grown are the pure scarlet (double and single), and a very double variety with the flowers somewhat variegated. These are the most desirable, but there are a few other species and varieties, including a very beautiful dwarf one from the East Indies that is too tender for our climate out-of-doors, but is largely grown on the Continent as a window plant.


[219:1] In illustration of Juliet's speech Mr. Knight very aptly quotes a similar remark from Russell's "History of Aleppo," adding that a "friend whose observations as a traveller are as accurate as his descriptions are graphic and forcible, informs us that throughout his journeys in the East he never heard such a choir of nightingales as in a row of Pomegranate trees that skirt the road from Smyrna to Bondjia."

[220:1] In a Bill of Medicines furnished for the use of Edward I. 1306-7, is—

"Item pro malis granatis vi. lx s.
Item pro vino malorum granatorun xx lb., lx s."

Archæological Journal, xiv, 27.

[220:2] See Prescott's "Ferdinand and Isabella," vol. iii. p. 346, note (Ed. 1849)—the arms of the city are a split Pomegranate.

[221:1] "Names of Herbes," s.v. Malus Punica.

POMEWATER, see Apple.

POPERING, see Pear.


  Iago. Not Poppy or Mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou ownedst yesterday.
Othello, act iii, sc. 3 (330).

The Poppy had of old a few other names, such as Corn-rose and Cheese-bowls (a very old name for the flower), and being "of great beautie, although of evil smell, our gentlewomen doe call it Jone Silverpin." This name is difficult of explanation, even with Parkinson's help, who says it meanes "faire without and foule within," but it probably alludes to its gaudy colour and worthlessness. But these names are scarcely the common names of the plant, but rather nicknames; the usual name is, and always has been, Poppy, which is an easily traced corruption from the Latin papaver, the Saxon and Early English names being variously spelt, popig and papig, popi and papy; so that the Poppy is another [223]instance of a very common and conspicuous English plant known only or chiefly by its Latin name Anglicised.

Our common English Poppy, "being of a beautiful and gallant red colour," is certainly one of the handsomest of our wild flowers, and a Wheat field with a rich undergrowth of scarlet Poppies is a sight very dear to the artist,[223:1] while the weed is not supposed to do much harm to the farmer. But this is not the Poppy mentioned by Iago, for its narcotic qualities are very small; the Poppy that he alludes to is the Opium Poppy (P. somniferum). This Poppy was well known and cultivated in England long before Shakespeare's day, but only as a garden ornament; the Opium was then, as now, imported from the East. Its deadly qualities were well known. Gower describes it—

"There is growend upon the ground
Popy that bereth the sede of slepe."

Conf. Aman., lib. quint. (2, 102 Paulli).

Spenser speaks of the plant as the "dull Poppy," and describing the Garden of Proserpina, he says—

"There mournful Cypress grew in greatest store,
And trees of bitter gall, and Heben sad,
Dead-sleeping Poppy, and black Hellebore,
Cold Coloquintida."

F. Q., ii, 7, 52.

And Drayton similarly describes it—

"Here Henbane, Poppy, Hemlock here,
Procuring deadly sleeping."

Nymphal v.

The name of opium does not seem to have been in general use, except among the apothecaries. Chaucer, however, uses it—

"A claire made of a certayn wyn,
With necotykes, and opye of Thebes fyn."

The Knightes Tale.

[224] And so does Milton—

"Which no cooling herb
Or medicinal liquor can asswage,
Nor breath of vernal air from Snowy Alp;
Sleep hath forsook and given me o'er
To death's benumming opium as my only cure."

Samson Agonistes.

Many of the Poppies are very ornamental garden plants. The pretty yellow Welsh Poppy (Meconopsis Cambrica), abundant at Cheddar Cliffs, is an excellent plant for the rockwork where, when once established, it will grow freely and sow itself; and for the same place the little Papaver Alpinum, with its varieties, is equally well suited. For the open border the larger Poppies are very suitable, especially the great Oriental Poppy (P. orientale) and the grand scarlet Siberian Poppy (P. bracteatum), perhaps the most gorgeous of hardy plants: while among the rarer species of the tribe we must reckon the Meconopses of the Himalayas (M. Wallichi and M. Nepalensis), plants of singular beauty and elegance, but very difficult to grow, and still more difficult to keep, even if once established; for though perfectly hardy, they are little more than biennials. Besides these Poppies, the large double garden Poppies are very showy and of great variety in colour, but they are only annuals.


[223:1] "We usually think of the Poppy as a coarse flower; but it is the most transparent and delicate of all the blossoms of the field. The rest, nearly all of them, depend on the texture of their surface for colour. But the Poppy is painted glass; it never glows so brightly as when the sun shines through it. Wherever it is seen, against the light or with the light, always it is a flame, and warms the wind like a blown ruby."—Ruskin, Proserpina, p. 86.


(1) Thersites. How the devil Luxury, with his fat rump and Potato-finger, tickles these together.
Troilus and Cressida, act v, sc. 2 (55).
(2) Falstaff. Let the sky rain Potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green Sleeves, hail kissing-comfits, and snow Eringoes.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act v, sc. 5 (20).

The chief interest in these two passages is that they contain almost the earliest notice of Potatoes after their introduction into England. The generally received account is that they were introduced into Ireland in 1584 by Sir [225]Walter Raleigh, and from thence brought into England; but the year of their first planting in England is not recorded. They are not mentioned by Lyte in 1586. Gerard grew them in 1597, but only as curiosities, under the name of Virginian Potatoes (Battata Virginianorum and Pappas), to distinguish them from the Spanish Potato, or Convolvulus Battatas, which had been long grown in Europe, and in the first edition of his "Herbal" is his portrait, showing him holding a Potato in his hand. They seem to have grown into favour very slowly, for half a century after their introduction, Waller still spoke of them as one of the tropical luxuries of the Bermudas—

"With candy'd Plantains and the juicy Pine,
On choicest Melons and sweet Grapes they dine,
And with Potatoes fat their wanton swine."

The Battel of the Summer Islands.

Potato is a corruption of Batatas or Patatas.

As soon as the Potato arrived in England, it was at once invested with wonderful restorative powers, and in a long exhaustive note in Steevens' Shakespeare, Mr. Collins has given all the passages in the early writers in which the Potato is mentioned, and in every case they have reference to these supposed virtues. These passages, which are chiefly from the old dramatists, are curious and interesting in the early history of the Potato, and as throwing light on the manners of our ancestors; but as in every instance they are all more or less indelicate, I refrain from quoting them here.

As a garden plant, we now restrict the Potato to the kitchen garden and the field, but it belongs to a very large family, the Solanaceæ or Nightshades, of which many members are very ornamental, though as they chiefly come from the tropical regions, there are very few that can be treated as entirely hardy plants. One, however, is a very beautiful climber—the Solanum jasminoides from South America—and quite hardy in the South of England. Trained against a wall it will soon cover it, and when once established will bear its handsome trusses of white flowers with yellow anthers in great profusion during the whole summer. A better known member of the family is the Petunia, very [226]handsome, but little better than an annual. The pretty Winter Cherry (Physalis alkekengi) is another member of the family, and so is the Mandrake (see Mandrake). The whole tribe is poisonous, or at least to be suspected, yet it contains a large number of most useful plants, as the Potato, Tomato, Tobacco, Datura, and Cayenne Pepper.


(1) Queen. The Violets, Cowslips, and the Primroses,
Bear to my closet.
Cymbeline, act i, sc. 5 (83).
(2) Queen. I would be blind with weeping, sick with groans,
Look pale as Primrose with blood-drinking sighs,
And all to have the noble duke alive.
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (62).
(3) Arviragus. Thou shalt not lack
The flower that's like thy face, pale Primrose.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (220).
(4) Hermia. In the wood where often you and I
Upon faint Primrose-beds were wont to lie.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act i, sc. 1 (214).
(5) Perdita. Pale Primroses,
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bright Phœbus in his strength.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (122).
(6) Ophelia. Like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the Primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.
Hamlet, act i, sc. 3 (49).
(7) Porter. I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the Primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.
Macbeth, act ii, sc. 3 (20).
(8)   Primrose, first-born child of Ver
Merry spring-time's harbinger,
With her bells dim.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Introd. song.
(9)   Witness this Primrose bank whereon I lie.
Venus and Adonis (151).

Whenever we speak of spring flowers, the first that comes [227]into our minds is the Primrose. Both for its simple beauty and for its early arrival among us we give it the first place over

"Whatsoever other flowre of worth
And whatso other hearb of lovely hew,
The joyous Spring out of the ground brings forth
To cloath herself in colours fresh and new."

It is a plant equally dear to children and their elders, so that I cannot believe that there is any one (except Peter Bell) to whom

"A Primrose by the river's brim
A yellow Primrose is to him—
And it is nothing more;"

rather I should believe that W. Browne's "Wayfaring Man" is a type of most English countrymen in their simple admiration of the common flower—

"As some wayfaring man passing a wood,
Whose waving top hath long a sea-mark stood,
Goes jogging on and in his mind nought hath,
But how the Primrose finely strews the path,
Or sweetest Violets lay down their heads
At some tree's roots or mossy feather beds."

Britannia's Pastorals, i, 5.

It is the first flower, except perhaps the Daisy, of which a child learns the familiar name; and yet it is a plant of unfailing interest to the botanical student, while its name is one of the greatest puzzles to the etymologist. The common and easy explanation of the name is that it means the first Rose of the year, but (like so many explanations that are derived only from the sound and modern appearance of a a name) this is not the true account. The full history of the name is too long to give here, but the short account is this—"The old name was Prime Rolles—or primerole. Primerole is an abbreviation of Fr., primeverole: It., primaverola, diminutive of prima vera from flor di prima vera, the first spring flower. Primerole, as an outlandish unintelligible word, was soon familiarized into primerolles, and this into primrose."—Dr. Prior. The name Primrose was not at first always applied to the flower, but was an old English word, used to show excellence—


"A fairer nymph yet never saw mine eie,
She is the pride and Primrose of the rest."

Spenser, Colin Clout.

"Was not I [the Briar] planted of thine own hande
To bee the Primrose of all thy lande;
With flow'ring blossomes to furnish the prime
And scarlet berries in sommer time?"

Spenser, Shepherd's Calendar—Februarie.

It was also a flower name, but not of our present Primrose, but of a very different plant. Thus in a Nominale of the fifteenth century we have "hoc ligustrum, a Primerose;" and in a Pictorial Vocabulary of the same date we have "hoc ligustrum, Ace a Prymrose;" and in the "Promptorium Parvulorum," "Prymerose, primula, calendula, ligustrum"—and this name for the Privet lasted with a slight alteration into Shakespeare's time. Turner in 1538 says, "ligustrum arbor est non herba ut literatorū vulgus credit; nihil que minus est quam a Prymerose." In Tusser's "Husbandry" we have "set Privie or Prim" (September Abstract), and—

"Now set ye may
The Box and Bay
Hawthorn and Prim
For clothe's trim"—(January Abstract).

And so it is described by Gerard as the Privet or Prim Print (i.e., primé printemps), and even in the seventeenth century, Cole says of ligustrum, "This herbe is called Primrose." When the name was fixed to our present plant I cannot say, but certainly before Shakespeare's time, though probably not long before. It is rather remarkable that the flower, which we now so much admire, seems to have been very much overlooked by the writers before Shakespeare. In the very old vocabularies it does not at all appear by its present Latin name, Primula vulgaris, but that is perhaps not to be wondered at, as nearly all the old botanists applied that name to the Daisy. But neither is it much noticed by any English name. I can only find it in two of the vocabularies. In an English Vocabulary of the fourteenth century is "Hæc pimpinella, Ae primerolle," but it is very doubtful if this can be our Primrose, as the Pimpernel of old writers was the [229]Burnet. Gower mentions it as the flower of the star Canis Minor—

"His stone and herbe as saith the scole
Ben Achates and Primerole."

Conf. Aman. lib. sept. (3, 130. Paulli).

And in the treatise of Walter de Biblesworth (13th century) is—

"Primerole et primeveyre (cousloppe)
Sur tere aperunt en tems de veyre."

I should think there is no doubt this is our Primrose. Then we have Chaucer's description of a fine lady—

"Hir schos were laced on hir legges hyghe
Sche was a Primerole, a piggesneyghe
For any lord have liggyng in his bedde,
Or yet for any gode yeman to wedde."

The Milleres Tale.

I have dwelt longer than usual on the name of this flower, because it gives us an excellent example of how much literary interest may be found even in the names of our common English plants.

But it is time to come from the name to the flower. The English Primrose is one of a large family of more than fifty species, represented in England by the Primrose, the Oxlip, the Cowslip, and the Bird's-eye Primrose of the North of England and Scotland. All the members of the family, whether British or exotic, are noted for the simple beauty of their flowers, but in this special character there is none that surpasses our own. "It is the very flower of delicacy and refinement; not that it shrinks from our notice, for few plants are more easily seen, coming as it does when there is a dearth of flowers, when the first birds are singing, and the first bees humming, and the earliest green putting forth in the March and April woods; and it is one of those plants which dislikes to be looking cheerless, but keeps up a smouldering fire of blossom from the very opening of the year, if the weather will permit."—Forbes Watson. It is this character of cheerfulness that so much endears the flower to us; as it brightens up our hedgerows after the dulness of winter, the harbinger of many brighter perhaps, but not more acceptable, beauties to come, it is the very [230]emblem of cheerfulness. Yet it is very curious to note what entirely different ideas it suggested to our forefathers. To them the Primrose seems always to have brought associations of sadness, or even worse than sadness, for the "Primrose paths" and "Primrose ways" of Nos. 6 and 7 are meant to be suggestive of pleasures, but sinful pleasures.

Spenser associates it with death in some beautiful lines, in which a husband laments the loss of a young and beautiful wife—

"Mine was the Primerose in the lowly shade!
*       *       *       *       *
Oh! that so fair a flower so soon should fade,
And through untimely tempest fade away."

Daphnidia, 232.

In another place he speaks of it as "the Primrose trew"—Prothalamion; but in another place his only epithet for it is "green," which quite ignores its brightness—

"And Primroses greene
Embellish the sweete Violet."

Shepherd's Calendar—April.

Shakespeare has no more pleasant epithets for our favourite flower than "pale," "faint," "that die unmarried;" and Milton follows in the same strain yet sadder. Once, indeed, he speaks of youth as "Brisk as the April buds in Primrose season" ("Comus"); but only in three passages does he speak of the Primrose itself, and in two of these he connects it with death—

"Bring the rathe Primrose that forsaken dies,
*       *       *       *       *
And every flower that sad embroidery wears."—Lycidas.
"O fairest flower, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken Primrose fading timelesslie;
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst outlasted
Bleak winter's force that made thy blossoms drie."

On the Death of a Fair Infant.

His third account is a little more joyous—

"Now the bright morning star, daye's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
[231] The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow Cowslip and the pale Primrose."

On May Morning.

And nearly all the poets of that time spoke in the same strain, with the exception of Ben Jonson and the two Fletchers. Jonson spoke of it as "the glory of the spring" and as "the spring's own spouse." Giles Fletcher says—

"Every bush lays deeply perfumed
With Violets; the wood's late wintry head,
Wide flaming Primroses set all on fire."

And Phineas Fletcher—

"The Primrose lighted new her flame displays,
And frights the neighbour hedge with fiery rays.
And here and there sweet Primrose scattered.
*       *       *       *       *
Nature seem'd work'd by Art, so lively true,
A little heaven or earth in narrow space she drew."

I can only refer very shortly to the botanical interest of the Primula, and that only to direct attention to Mr. Darwin's paper in the "Journal of the Linnæan Society," 1862, in which he records his very curious and painstaking inquiries into the dimorphism of the Primula, a peculiarity in the Primula that gardeners had long recognized in their arrangement of Primroses as "pin-eyed" and "thrum-eyed." It is perhaps owing to this dimorphism that the family is able to show a very large number of natural hybrids. These have been carefully studied by Professor Kerner, of Innspruck, and it seems not unlikely that a further study will show that all the European so-called species are natural hybrids from a very few parents.

Yet a few words on the Primrose as a garden plant. If the Primrose be taken from the hedges in November, and planted in beds thickly in the garden, they make a beautiful display of flowers and foliage from February till the beds are required for the summer flowers; and there are few of our wild flowers that run into so many varieties in their wild state. In Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire I have seen the wild Primrose of nearly all shades of colour, from the purest white to an almost bright red, and these can all be brought [232]into the garden with a certainty of success and a certainty of rapid increase. There are also many double varieties, all of which are more often seen in cottage gardens than elsewhere; yet no gardener need despise them.

One other British Primrose, the Bird's-eye Primrose, almost defies garden cultivation, though in its native habitats in the north it grows in most ungenial places. I have seen places in the neighbourhood of the bleak hill of Ingleborough, where it almost forms the turf; yet away from its native habitat it is difficult to keep, except in a greenhouse. For the cultivation of the other non-English species, I cannot do better than refer to an excellent paper by Mr. Niven in the "The Garden" for January 29, 1876, in which he gives an exhaustive account of them.

I am not aware that Primroses are of any use in medicine or cookery, yet Tusser names the Primrose among "seeds and herbs for the kitchen," and Lyte says "the Cowslips, Primroses, and Oxlips are now used dayly amongst other pot herbes, but in physicke there is no great account made of them." They occur in heraldy. The arms of the Earls of Rosebery (Primrose) are three Primroses within a double tressure fleury counter-fleury, or.

PRUNES, see Plums.


  Mrs. Ford. Go to, then. We'll use this unwholesome humidity, this gross watery Pumpion.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act iii, sc. 3 (42).

The old name for the Cucumber (in Ælfric's "Vocabulary") is hwer-hwette, i.e., wet ewer, but Pumpion, Pompion, and Pumpkin were general terms including all the Cucurbitaceæ such as Melons, Gourds, Cucumbers, and Vegetable Marrows. All were largely grown in Shakespeare's days, but I should [233]think the reference here must be to one of the large useless Gourds, for Mrs. Ford's comparison is to Falstaff, and Gourds were grown large enough to bear out even that comparison. "The Gourd groweth into any forme or fashion you would have it, . . . . being suffered to clime upon an arbour where the fruit may hang; it hath beene seene to be nine foot long." And the little value placed upon the whole tribe helped to bear out the comparison. They were chiefly good to "cure copper faces, red and shining fierce noses (as red as red Roses), with pimples, pumples, rubies, and such-like precious faces." This was Gerard's account of the Cucumber, while of the Cucumber Pompion, which was evidently our Vegetable Marrow, and of which he has described and figured the variety which we now call the Custard Marrow, he says, "it maketh a man apt and ready to fall into the disease called the colericke passion, and of some the felonie."

Mrs. Ford's comparison of a big loutish man to an overgrown Gourd has not been lost in the English language, for "bumpkin" is only another form of "Pumpkin," and Mr. Fox Talbot, in his "English Etymologies," has a very curious account of the antiquity of the nickname. "The Greeks," he says, "called a very weak and soft-headed person a Pumpion, whence the proverb πεπονος μαλακωτερος, softer than a Pumpion; and even one of Homer's heroes, incensed at the timidity of his soldiers, exclaims ὠ πεπονες, you Pumpions! So also cornichon (Cucumber) is a term of derision in French."

Yet the Pumpion or Gourd had its uses, moral uses. Modern critics have decided that Jonah's Gourd, "which came up in a night and perished in a night," was not a Gourd, but the Palma Christi, or Castor-oil tree. But our forefathers called it a Gourd, and believing that it was so, they used the Gourd to point many a moral and illustrate many a religious emblem. Thus viewed it was the standing emblem of the rapid growth and quick decay of evil-doers and their evil deeds. "Cito nata, cito pereunt," was the history of the evil deeds, while the doers of them could only say—

"Quasi solstitialis herba fui,
Repente exortus sum, repente occidi."




  Nurse. They call for Dates and Quinces in the pastry.
Romeo and Juliet, act iv, sc. 4 (2).

Quince is also the name of one of the "homespun actors" in "Midsummer Night's Dream," and is no doubt there used as a ludicrous name. The name was anciently spelt "coynes"—

"And many homely trees ther were
That Peches, Coynes, and Apples bere,
Medlers, Plommes, Perys, Chesteyns,
Cherys, of which many oon fayne is."

Romaunt of the Rose.

The same name occurs in the old English vocabularies, as in a Nominale of the fifteenth century, "hæc cocianus, a coventre;" in an English vocabulary of the fourteenth century, "Hoc coccinum, a quoyne," and in the treatise of Walter de Biblesworth, in the thirteenth century—

"Issi troverez en ce verger
Estang un sek Coigner (a Coyn-tre, Quince-tre)."

And there is little doubt that "Quince" is a corruption of "coynes" which again is a corruption, not difficult to trace, of Cydonia, one of the most ancient cities of Crete, where the Quince tree is indigenous, and whence it derived its name of Pyrus Cydonia, or simply Cydonia. If not indigenous elsewhere in the East, it was very soon cultivated, and especially in Palestine. It is not yet a settled point, and probably never will be, but there is a strong consensus of most of the best commentators, that the Tappuach of Scripture, always translated Apple, was the Quince. It is supposed to be the fruit alluded to in the Canticles, "As the Apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons; I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste;" and in Proverbs, "A word fitly spoken is like Apples of gold in pictures of silver;" and the tree is supposed to have given its name to various places in Palestine, as Tappuach, Beth-Tappuach, and Aen-Tappuach.

By the Greeks and Romans the Quince was held in [235]honour as the fruit especially sacred to Venus, who is often represented as holding a Quince in her right hand, the gift which she received from Paris. In other sculptures "the amorous deities pull Quinces in gardens and play with them. For persons to send Quinces in presents, to throw them at each other, to eat them together, were all tokens of love; to dream of Quinces was a sign of successful love" (Rosenmuller). The custom was handed down to mediæval times. It was at a wedding feast that "they called for Dates and Quinces in the pastry;" and Brand quotes a curious passage from the "Praise of Musicke," 1586 ("Romeo and Juliet" was published in 1596)—"I come to marriages, wherein as our ancestors did fondly, and with a kind of doting, maintaine many rites and ceremonies, some whereof were either shadowes or abodements of a pleasant life to come, as the eating of a Quince Peare to be a preparative of sweet and delightful dayes between the married persons."

To understand this high repute in which the Quince was held, we must remember that the Quince of hot countries differs somewhat from the English Quince. With us the fruit is of a fine, handsome shape, and of a rich golden colour when fully ripe, and of a strong scent, which is very agreeable to many, though too heavy and overpowering to others. But the rind is rough and woolly, and the flesh is harsh and unpalatable, and only fit to be eaten when cooked. In hotter countries the woolly rind is said to disappear, and the fruit can be eaten raw; and this is the case not only in Eastern countries, but also in the parts of Tropical America to which the tree has been introduced from Europe.

In England the Quince is probably less grown now than it was in Shakespeare's time—yet it may well be grown as an ornamental shrub even by those who do not appreciate its fruit. It forms a thick bush, with large white flowers, followed in the autumn by its handsome fruit, and requires no care. "They love shadowy, moist places;" "It delighteth to grow on plaine and even ground and somewhat moist withall." This was Lyte's and Gerard's experience, and I have never seen handsomer bushes or finer fruit than I once saw on some neglected bushes that skirted a horsepond on a farm in Kent; the trees were evidently revelling in their state of moisture and neglect. The tree has a horticultural value as [236]giving an excellent stock for Pear-trees, on which it has a very remarkable effect, for "Cabanis asserts that when certain Pears are grafted on the Quince, their seeds yield more varieties than do the seeds of the same variety of Pear when grafted on the wild Pear."—Darwin. Its economic value is considered to be but small, being chiefly used for Marmalade,[236:1] but in Shakespeare's time, Browne spoke of it as "the stomach's comforter, the pleasing Quince," and Parkinson speaks highly of it, for "there is no fruit growing in the land," he says, "that is of so many excellent uses as this, serving as well to make many dishes of meat for the table, as for banquets, and much more for their physical virtues, whereof to write at large is neither convenient for me nor for this work."


[236:1] This was a very old use for the Quince. Wynkyn de Worde, in the "Boke of Kervynge" (p. 266), speaks of "char de Quynce;" and John Russell, in the "Boke of Nurture" (l. 75), speaks of "chare de Quynces." This was Quince marmalade.


(1) Falstaff. When a' was naked, he was, for all the world, like a fork'd Radish.
2nd Henry IV, act iii, sc. 2 (333).
(2) Falstaff. If I fought not with fifty of them, I am a bunch of Radish.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (205).

There can be no doubt that the Radish was so named because it was considered by the Romans, for some reason unknown to us, the root par excellence. It was used by them, as by us, "as a stimulus before meat, giving an appetite thereunto"—

"Acria circum
Rapula, lactucæ, Radices, qualia lassum
Pervellunt stomachum."—Horace.

But it was cultivated, or allowed to grow, to a much larger size than we now think desirable. Pliny speaks of Radishes weighing 40lb. each, and others speak even of 60lb. and 100lb. But in Shakespeare's time the Radish was very much what it is now, a pleasant salad vegetable, but of no [237]great value. We read, however, of Radishes being put to strange uses. Lupton, a writer of Shakespeare's day, says: "If you would kill snakes and adders strike them with a large Radish, and to handle adders and snakes without harm, wash your hands in the juice of Radishes and you may do without harm" ("Notable Things," 1586).

We read also of great attempts being made to procure oil from the seed, but to no great effect. Hakluyt, in describing the sufficiency of the English soil to produce everything necessary in the manufacture of cloth, says: "So as there wanteth, if colours might be brought in and made naturall, but onely oile; the want whereof if any man could devise to supply at the full with anything that might become naturall in this realme, he, whatsoever he were that might bring it about, might deserve immortal fame in this our Commonwealth, and such a devise was offered to Parliament and refused, because they denied to allow him a certain liberty, some others having obtained the same before that practised to work that effect by Radish seed, which onely made a trial of small quantity, and that went no further to make that oile in plenty, and now he that offered this devise was a merchant, and is dead, and withal the devise is dead with him" ("Voiages," vol. ii.).

The Radish is not a native of Britain, but was probably introduced by the Romans, and was well-known to the Anglo-Saxon gardener under its present name, but with a closer approach to the Latin, being called Rædic, or Radiolle.[237:1]

A curious testimony to the former high reputation of the Radish survives in the "Annual Radish Feast at Levens Hall, a custom dating from time immemorial, and supposed by some to be a relic of feudal times, held on May 12th at Levens Hall, the seat of the Hon. Mrs. Howard, and adjoining the high road about midway between Kendal and Milnthorpe. Tradition hath it that the Radish feast arose out of a rivalry between the families of Levens Hall and Dallam Tower, as to which should entertain the Corporation with their friends and followers, and in which Levens Hall eventually carried the palm. The feast is provided on the bowling green in front of the Hall, where several long tables [238]are plentifully spread with Radishes and brown bread and butter, the tables being repeatedly furnished with guests" ("Gardener's Chronicle").


[237:1] "Catholicon Anglicum."


  Clown. Four pounds of Prunes and as many of Raisins o' the sun.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (51).

Raisins are alluded to, if not actually named, in "1st Henry IV.," act ii, sc. 4, when Falstaff says: "If reasons were as plentiful as Blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I——" "It seems that a pun underlies this, the association of reasons with Blackberries springing out of the fact that reasons sounded like raisins."—Earle, Philology, &c.

Bearing in mind that Raisin is a corruption of racemus, a bunch of Grapes, we can understand that the word was not always applied, as it is now, to the dried fruit, but was sometimes applied to the bunch of Grapes as it hung ripe on the tree—

"For no man at the firste stroke
He may not felle down an Oke;
Nor of the Reisins have the wyne
Till Grapes be ripe and welle afyne."

Romaunt of the Rose.

The best dried fruit were Raisins of the sun, i.e., dried in the sun, to distinguish them from those which were dried in ovens. They were, of course, foreign fruit, and were largely imported. The process of drying in the sun is still the method in use, at least, with "the finer kinds, such as Muscatels, which are distinguished as much by the mode of drying as by the variety and soil in which they are grown, the finest being dried on the Vines before gathering, the stalk being partly cut through when the fruits are ripe, and the leaves being removed from near the clusters, so as to allow the full effect of the sun in ripening."

The Grape thus becomes a Raisin, but it is still further [239]transformed when it reaches the cook; it then becomes a Plum, for Plum pudding has, as we all know, Raisins for its chief ingredient and certainly no Plums; and the Christmas pie into which Jack Horner put in his thumb and pulled out a Plum must have been a mince-pie, also made of Raisins; but how a cooked Raisin came to be called a Plum is not recorded. In Devonshire and Dorsetshire it undergoes a further transformation, for there Raisins are called Figs, and a Plum pudding is called a Fig pudding.


(1) 2nd Servant. I had as lief have a Reed that will do me no service, as a partizan I could not heave.
Antony and Cleopatra, act ii, sc. 7 (13).
(2) Arviragus. Fear no more the frown o' the great,
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the Reed is as the Oak;
The sceptre, learning, physick, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (264).
(3) Ariel. His tears run down his beard, like winter's drops
From eaves of Reeds.
Tempest, act v, sc. 1 (16).
(4) Ariel. With hair up-staring—then like Reeds, not hair—
Ibid., act i, sc. 2 (213).
(5) Hotspur. Swift Severn's flood;
Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks,
Ran fearfully among the trembling Reeds.
1st Henry IV, act 1, sc. 3 (103).
(6) Portia. And speak between the change of man and boy
With a Reed voice.
Merchant of Venice, act iii, sc. 4 (66).
(7) Wooer. In the great Lake that lies behind the Pallace
From the far shore thick set with Reeds and Sedges.
  *       *       *       *       *
  [240]The Rushes and the Reeds
Had so encompast it.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 1 (71, 80).
(8)   To Simois' Reedy banks the red blood ran.
Lucrece (1437).

Reed is a general term for almost any water-loving, grassy plant, and so it is used by Shakespeare. In the Bible it is perhaps possible to identify some of the Reeds mentioned, with the Sugar Cane in some places, with the Papyrus in others, and in others with the Arundo donax. As a Biblical plant it has a special interest, not only as giving the emblem of the tenderest mercy that will be careful even of "the bruised Reed," but also as entering largely into the mockery of the Crucifixion: "They put a Reed in His right hand," and "they filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it upon a Reed and gave Him to drink." The Reed in these passages was probably the Arundo donax, a very elegant Reed, which was used for many purposes in Palestine, and is a most graceful plant for English gardens, being perfectly hardy, and growing every year from 12ft. to 14ft. in height, but very seldom flowering.[240:1]

But in Shakespeare, as in most writers, the Reed is simply the emblem of weakness, tossed about by and bending to a superior force, and of little or no use—"a Reed that will do me no service" (No. 1). It is also the emblem of the blessedness of submission, and of the power that lies in humility to outlast its oppressor—

"Like as in tempest great,
Where wind doth bear the stroke,
Much safer stands the bowing Reed
Then doth the stubborn Oak."

Shakespeare mentions but two uses to which the Reed was applied, the thatching of houses (No. 3), and the making of Pan or Shepherd's pipes (No. 6). Nor has he anything to say of its beauty, yet the Reeds of our river sides (Arundo [241]phragmites) are most graceful plants, especially when they have their dark plumes of flowers, and this Milton seems to have felt—

"Forth flourish't thick the flustering Vine, forth crept
The swelling Gourd, up stood the Cornie Reed
Embattled in her field."

Paradise Lost, book vii.


[240:1] I have only been able to find one record of the flowering of Arundo donax in England—"Mem: Arundo donax in flower, 15th September, 1762, the first time I ever saw it, but this very hot dry summer has made many exotics flower. . . . It bears a handsome tassel of flowers."—P. Collinson's Hortus Collinsonianus.


  Macbeth. What Rhubarb, Cyme, or what purgative drug
Would scour these English hence?
Macbeth, act v, sc. 3 (55).

Andrew Boorde writing from Spayne in 1535, to Thomas Cromwell, says, "I have sent to your Mastershipp the seeds of Reuberbe the whiche come forth of Barbary in this parte ytt ys had for a grett tresure."[241:1] But the plant does not seem to have become established and Shakespeare could only have known the imported drug, for the Rheum was first grown by Parkinson, though it had been described in an uncertain way both by Lyte and Gerard. Lyte said: "Rha, as it is thought, hath great broad leaves;" and then he says: "We have found here in the gardens of certaine diligent herboristes that strange plant which is thought by some to be Rha or Rhabarbum;" but from the figure it is very certain that the plant was not a Rheum. After the time of Parkinson, it was largely grown for the sake of producing the drug, and it is still grown in England to some extent for the same purpose, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Banbury; though it is doubtful whether any of the species now grown in England are the true species that has long produced Turkey Rhubarb. The plant is now grown most extensively as a spring vegetable, though I cannot find when it first began to be so used. Parkinson evidently tried it and thought well of it. "The leaves have a fine acid taste; a syrup, therefore, made with the juice and [242]sugar cannot but be very effectual in dejected appetites." Yet even in 1807 Professor Martyn, the editor of "Millar's Dictionary," in a long article on the Rhubarb, makes no mention of its culinary qualities, but in 1822 Phillips speaks of it as largely cultivated for spring tarts, and forced for the London markets, "medical men recommending it as one of the most cooling and wholesome tarts sent to table."

As a garden plant the Rhubarb is highly ornamental, though it is seldom seen out of the kitchen garden, but where room can be given to them, Rheum palmatum or Rheum officinale, will always be admired as some of the handsomest of foliage plants. The finest species of the family is the Himalayan Rheum nobile, but it is exceedingly difficult to grow. Botanically the Rhubarb is allied to the Dock and Sorrel, and all the species are herbaceous.


[241:1] Quoted in Furnival's forewords to Boorde's "Introduction to Knowledge," p. 56.


  Clown. Let me see; what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound of sugar, five pound of Currants, Rice——What will this sister of mine do with Rice?[242:1]
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (38).

Shakespeare may have had no more acquaintance with Rice than his knowledge of the imported grain, which seems to have been long ago introduced into England, for in a Nominale of the fifteenth century we have "Hoc risi, indeclinabile, Ryse." And in the "Promptorium Parvulorum," "Ryce, frute. Risia, vel risi, n. indecl. secundum quosdam, vel risium, vel risorum granum (rizi vel granum Indicum)." Turner was acquainted with it: "Ryse groweth plentuously in watery myddowes between Myllane and Pavia."[242:2] And Shakespeare may have seen the plant, for Gerard grew it in his London garden, though "the floure did not show itselfe by reason of the injurie of our unseasonable yeare 1596." It is a native of Africa, and was soon [243]transferred to Europe as a nourishing and wholesome grain, especially for invalids—"sume hoc ptisanarium oryzæ," says the doctor to his patient in Horace, and it is mentioned both by Dioscorides and Theophrastus. It has been occasionally grown in England as a curiosity, but seldom comes to any perfection out-of-doors, as it requires a mixture of moisture and heat that we cannot easily give it. There are said to be species in the North of China growing in dry places, which would perhaps be hardy in England and easier of cultivation, but I am not aware that they have ever been introduced.


[242:1] In 1468 the price of rice was 3d. a pound = 3s. of our money ("Babee's Book," xxx.).

[242:2] "Names of Herbes," s.v. Oryza.


(1) Titania. Some to kill cankers in the Musk-rose buds.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 3 (3).
(2) Titania. And stick Musk-Roses in thy sleek, smooth head.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (3).
(3) Julia. The air hath starved the Roses in her cheeks.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, act iv, sc. 4 (159).
(4) Song. There will we make our beds of Roses
And a thousand fragrant posies.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act iii, sc. 1 (19).
(5) Autolycus. Gloves as sweet as Damask Roses.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (222).
(6) Olivia. Cæsario, by the Roses of the spring,
By maidhood, honour, truth, and everything,
I love thee so.
Twelfth Night, act iii, sc. 1 (161).
(7) Diana. When you have our Roses,
You barely leave us thorns to prick ourselves
And mock us with our bareness.
All's Well that Ends Well, act iv, sc. 2 (18).
(8) Lord. Let one attend him with a silver basin
Full of Rose-water and bestrew'd with flowers.
Taming of the Shrew, Induction, sc. 1 (55).
(9) Petruchio. I'll say she looks as clear
As morning Roses newly wash'd with dew.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 1 (173).
[244](10) Tyrrell. Their lips were four red Roses on a stalk,
Which in their summer beauty kiss'd each other.
Richard III, act iv, sc. 3 (12).
(11) Friar. The Roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes.
Romeo and Juliet, act iv, sc. 1 (99).
(12) Romeo. Remnants of packthread and old cakes of Roses
Were thinly scatter'd, to make up a show.
Ibid., act v, sc. 1 (47).
(13) Hamlet. With two Provincial Roses on my razed shoes.
Hamlet, act iii, sc. 2 (287).
(14) Laertes. O Rose of May,
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
Ibid., act iv, sc. 5 (157).
(15) Duke. For women are as Roses, whose fair flower
Being once display'd doth fall that very hour.
Twelfth Night, act ii, sc. 4 (39).
(16) Constance. Of Nature's gifts, thou may'st with Lilies boast,
And with the half-blown Rose.
King John, act iii, sc. 1 (153).
(17) Queen. But soft, but see, or rather do not see,
My fair Rose wither.
Richard II, act v, sc. 1 (7).
(18) Hotspur. To put down Richard, that sweet lovely Rose,
And plant this Thorn, this canker, Bolingbroke.
1st Henry IV, act i, sc. 3 (175).
(19) Hostess. Your colour, I warrant you, is as red as any Rose.
2nd Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (27).
(20) York. Then will I raise aloft the milk-white Rose,
With whose sweet smell the air shall be perfumed.
2nd Henry VI, act i, sc. 1 (254).
(21) Don John. I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a Rose in his grace.
Much Ado About Nothing, act i, sc. 3 (27).
(22) Theseus. But earthlier happy is the Rose distill'd
Than that which withering on the virgin Thorn
Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.[244:1]
Midsummer Night's Dream, act i, sc. 1 (76).
[245](23) Lysander. How now, my love! Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the Roses there do fade so fast?
Midsummer Night's Dream, act i, sc. 1 (128).
(24) Titania. The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson Rose.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 1 (107).
(25) Thisbe. Of colour like the red Rose on triumphant Brier.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 1 (95).
(26) Biron. Why should I joy in any abortive mirth?
At Christmas I no more desire a Rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth,
But like of each thing that in season grows.[245:1]
Love's Labour's Lost, act i, sc. 1 (105).
(27) King (reads). So sweet a kiss the golden sun gives not
To those fresh morning drops upon the Rose.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 3 (26).
(28) Boyet. Blow like sweet Roses in this summer air.
  Princess. How blow? how blow? Speak to be understood.
  Boyet. Fair ladies mask'd are Roses in their bud;
Dismask'd, their damask sweet commixture shown,
Are angels veiling clouds, or Roses blown.
Ibid., act v, sc. 2 (293).
(29) Touchstone. He that sweetest Rose will find,
Must find Love's prick and Rosalind.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (117).
(30) Countess. This Thorn
Doth to our Rose of youth rightly belong.
All's Well that Ends Well, act i, sc. 3 (135).
(31) Bastard. My face so thin,
That in mine ear I durst not stick a Rose.
King John, act i, sc. 1 (141).
(32) Antony. Tell him he wears the Rose
Of youth upon him.
Antony and Cleopatra, act iii, sc. 13 (20).
(33) Cleopatra. Against the blown Rose may they stop their nose
That kneel'd unto the buds.
Ibid. (39).
[246](34) Boult. For flesh and blood, sir, white and red, you shall see a Rose; and she were a Rose indeed!
Pericles, act iv, sc. 6 (37).
(35) Gower. Even her art sisters the natural Roses.
Ibid., act v, chorus (7). (See Cherry, No. 5.)
(36) Juliet. What's in a name? That which we call a Rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 2 (43).
(37) Ophelia. The expectancy and Rose of the fair state.
Hamlet, act iii, sc. 1 (160).
(38) Hamlet. Such an act . . . takes off the Rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
And sets a blister there.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 4 (40).
(39) Othello. When I have pluck'd the Rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again,
It needs must wither. I'll smell it on the tree.
Othello, act v, sc. 2 (13).
(40) Timon. Rose-cheeked youth.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (86).
(41) Othello. Thou young and Rose-lipp'd cherubim.
Othello, act iv, sc. 2 (63).
(42)   Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
Not royall in their smells alone
But in their hue.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Introd. song.
(43) Emilia. Of all flowres
Methinks a Rose is best.
  Woman. Why, gentle madam?
  Emilia. It is the very Embleme of a maide.
For when the west wind courts her gently,
How modestly she blows, and paints the Sun
With her chaste blushes? When the north winds neere her,
Rude and impatient, then, like Chastity,
Shee locks her beauties in her bud againe,
And leaves him to base Briers.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 2 (160).
(44) Wooer. With cherry lips and cheekes of Damaske Roses.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 2 (95).
(45)   See Nettles, No. 13.
(46)   Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
Sonnet xxxv.
[247](47)   The Rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour that doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
As the perfumed tincture of the Roses,
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
When summer's breath their masked buds discloses;
But, for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwoo'd and unrespected fade;
Die to themselves—sweet Roses do not so;
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made.
Sonnet liv.
(48)   Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
Roses of shadow, since his Rose is true?
Ibid. lxvii.
(49)   Shame, like a canker in the fragrant Rose,
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name.
Ibid. xcv.
(50)   Nor did I wonder at the Lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion of the Rose.
Ibid. xcviii.
(51)   The Roses fearfully in thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair;
A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both
And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath.
Ibid. xcix.
(52)   I have seen Roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such Roses see I in her cheeks.
Ibid. cxxx.
(53)   More white and red than dove and Roses are.
Venus and Adonis (10).
(54)   What though the Rose has prickles? yet 'tis plucked.
Ibid. (574).
(55)   Who, when he lived, his breath and beauty set
Gloss on the Rose, smell to the Violet.
Ibid. (935).
(56)   Their silent war of Lilies and of Roses.
Lucrece (71).
(57)   O how her fear did make her colour rise,
First red as Roses that on lawn we lay,
Then white as lawn, the Roses took away.
Ibid. (257).
(58)   That even for anger makes the Lily pale,
And the red Rose blush at her own disgrace.
Ibid. (477).
(59)   I know what Thorns the growing Rose defends.
Ibid. (492).
(60)   Rose-cheeked Adonis hied him to the chase.
Venus and Adonis. (3).
(61)   A sudden pale,
Like lawn being spread upon the blushing Rose,
Usurps her cheek.
Ibid. (589).
[248](62)   That beauty's Rose might never die.
Sonnet i.
(63)   Nothing this wide universe I call Save thou, my Rose; in it thou art my all.
Ibid. cix.
(64)   Rosy lips and cheeks
Within time's bending sickle's compass come.
Ibid. cxvi.
(65)   Sweet Rose, fair flower, untimely pluck'd, soon vaded,
Pluck'd in the bud, and vaded in the spring!
The Passionate Pilgrim (131).

In addition to these many passages, there are perhaps thirty more in which the Rose is mentioned with reference to the Red and White Roses of the houses of York and Lancaster. To quote these it would be necessary to extract an entire act, which is very graphic, but too long. I must, therefore, content myself with the beginning and the end of the chief scene, and refer the reader who desires to see it in extenso to "1st Henry VI.," act ii, sc. 4. The scene is in the Temple Gardens, and Plantagenet and Somerset thus begin the fatal quarrel—

  Plantagenet. Let him that is a true-born gentleman
And stands upon the honour of his birth,
If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
From off this Brier pluck a White Rose with me.
  Somerset. Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer,
But dare maintain the party of the truth,
Pluck a Red Rose from off this Thorn with me.

And Warwick's wise conclusion on the whole matter is—

This brawl to-day,
Grown to this faction in the Temple Garden,
Shall send, between the Red Rose and the White,
A thousand souls to death and deadly night.

There are further allusions to the same Red and White Roses in "3rd Henry VI.," act i, sc. 1 and 2, act ii, sc. 5, and act v, sc. 1; "1st Henry VI.," act iv, sc. 1; and "Richard III.," act v, sc. 4.

There is no flower so often mentioned by Shakespeare as the Rose, and he would probably consider it the queen of flowers, for it was so deemed in his time. "The Rose doth [249]deserve the cheefest and most principall place among all flowers whatsoever, being not onely esteemed for his beautie, vertues, and his fragrant and odoriferous smell, but also because it is the honore and ornament of our English Scepter."—Gerard. Yet the kingdom of the Rose even then was not undisputed; the Lily was always its rival (see Lily), for thus sang Walter de Biblesworth in the thirteenth century—

"En ço verger troveroums les flurs
Des queus issunt les doux odours (swote smel)
Les herbes ausi pur medicine
La flur de Rose, la flur de Liz (lilie)
Liz vaut per royne, Rose pur piz."

But a little later the great Scotch poet Dunbar, who lived from 1460 to 1520, that is, a century before Shakespeare, asserted the dignity of the Rose as even superior to the Thistle of Scotland.

"Nor hold none other flower in sic dainty
As the fresh Rose of colour red and white;
For if thou dost, hurt is thine honesty,
Considering that no flower is so perfite,
So full of virtue, pleasaunce, and delight,
So full of blissful angelic beauty,
Imperial birth, honour, and dignity."

Volumes have been written, and many more may still be written, on the delights of the Rose, but my present business is only with the Roses of Shakespeare. In many of the above passages the Rose is simply the emblem of all that is loveliest and brightest and most beautiful upon earth, yet always with the underlying sentiment that even the brightest has its dark side, as the Rose has its thorns; that the worthiest objects of our earthly love are at the very best but short-lived; that the most beautiful has on it the doom of decay and death. These were the lessons which even the heathen writers learned from their favourite Roses, and which Christian writers of all ages loved to learn also, not from the heathen writers, but from the beautiful flowers themselves. "The Rose is a beautiful flower," said St. Basil, "but it always fills me with sorrow by reminding me of my [250]sins, for which the earth was doomed to bear thorns." And it would be easy to fill a volume, and it would not be a cheerless volume, with beautiful and expressive passages from poets, preachers, and other authors, who have taken the Rose to point the moral of the fleeting nature of all earthly things. Herrick in four lines tells the whole—

"Gather ye Roses while ye may
Old time is still a-flying,
And the same flower that smiles to-day,
To-morrow will be dying."

But Shakespeare's notices of the Rose are not all emblematical and allegorical. He mentions these distinct sorts of Roses—the Red Rose, the White Rose, the Musk Rose, the Provençal Rose, the Damask Rose, the Variegated Rose, the Canker Rose, and the Sweet Briar.

The Canker Rose is the wild Dog Rose, and the name is sometimes applied to the common Red Poppy.

The Red Rose and the Provençal Rose (No. 13) are no doubt the same, and are what we now call R. centifolia, or the Cabbage Rose; a Rose that has been supposed to be a native of the South of Europe, but Dr. Lindley preferred "to place its native country in Asia, because it has been found wild by Bieberstein with double flowers, on the eastern side of Mount Caucasus, whither it is not likely to have escaped from a garden."[250:1] We do not know when it was introduced into England, but it was familiar to Chaucer—

"The savour of the Roses swote
Me smote right to the herté rote,
As I hadde alle embawmed be.
*       *       *       *       *
Of Roses there were grete wone,
So faire were never in Rone."

i.e., in Provence, at the mouth of the Rhone. For beauty in shape and exquisite fragrance, I consider this Rose to be still unrivalled; but it is not a fashionable Rose, and [251]is usually found in cottage gardens, or perhaps in some neglected part of gardens of more pretensions. I believe it is considered too loose in shape to satisfy the floral critics of exhibition flowers, and it is only a summer Rose, and so contrasts unfavourably with the Hybrid Perpetuals. Still, it is a delightful Rose, delightful to the eye, delightful for its fragrance, and most delightful from its associations.

The White Rose of York (No. 20) has never been satisfactorily identified. It was clearly a cultivated Rose, and by some is supposed to have been only the wild White Rose (R. arvensis) grown in a garden. But it is very likely to have been the Rosa alba, which was a favourite in English gardens in Shakespeare's time, and was very probably introduced long before his time, for it is the double variety of the wild White Rose, and Gerard says of it: "The double White Rose doth grow wilde in many hedges of Lancashire in great abundance, even as Briers do with us in these southerly parts, especially in a place of the countrey called Leyland, and in a place called Roughford, not far from Latham." It was, therefore, not a new gardener's plant in his time, as has been often stated. I have little doubt that this is the White Rose of York; it is not the R. alba of Dr. Lindley's monograph, but the double variety of the British R. arvensis.

The White Rose has a very ancient interest for Englishmen, for "long before the brawl in the Temple Gardens, the flower had been connected with one of the most ancient names of our island. The elder Pliny, in discussing the etymology of the word Albion, suggests that the land may have been so named from the White Roses which abounded in it—'Albion insula sic dicta ab albis rupibus, quas mare alluit, vel ob rosas albas quibus abundat.' Whatever we may think of the etymological skill displayed in the suggestion . . . we look with almost a new pleasure on the Roses of our own hedgerows, when regarding them as descended in a straight line from the 'rosas albas' of those far-off summers."—Quarterly Review, vol. cxiv.

The Damask Rose (No. 5) remains to us under the same name, telling its own history. There can be little doubt that the Rose came from Damascus, probably introduced into Europe by the Crusaders or some of the early travellers [252]in the East, who speak in glowing terms of the beauties of the gardens of Damascus. So Sir John Mandeville describes the city—"In that Cytee of Damasce, there is gret plentee of Welles, and with in the Cytee and with oute, ben many fayre Gardynes and of dyverse frutes. Non other Cytee is not lyche in comparison to it, of fayre Gardynes, and of fayre desportes."—Voiage and Travaile, cap. xi. And in our own day the author of "Eöthen" described the same gardens as he saw them: "High, high above your head, and on every side all down to the ground, the thicket is hemmed in and choked up by the interlacing boughs that droop with the weight of Roses, and load the slow air with their damask breath. There are no other flowers. The Rose trees which I saw were all of the kind we call 'damask;' they grow to an immense height and size."—Eöthen, ch. xxvii. It was not till long after the Crusades that the Damask Rose was introduced into England, for Hakluyt in 1582 says: "In time of memory many things have been brought in that were not here before, as the Damaske Rose by Doctour Linaker, King Henry the Seventh and King Henrie the Eight's Physician."—Voiages, vol. ii.[252:1]

As an ornamental Rose the Damask Rose is still a favourite, though probably the real typical Rosa Damascena is very seldom seen—but it has been the parent of a large number of hybrid Roses, which the most critical Rosarian does not reject. The whole family are very sweet-scented, so that "sweet as Damask Roses" was a proverb, and Gerard describes the common Damaske as "in other respects like the White Rose; the especiale difference consisteth in the colour and smell of the floures, for these are of a pale red colour and of a more pleasant smell, and fitter for meate or medicine."

The Musk Roses (No. 1) were great favourites with our forefathers. This Rose (R. moschata) is a native of the North of Africa and of Spain, and has been also found in Nepaul. Hakluyt gives the exact date of its introduction. "The turkey cockes and hennes," he says, "were brought about fifty yeres past, the Artichowe in time of King Henry the [253]Eight, and of later times was procured out of Italy the Muske Rose plant, the Plumme called the Perdigwena, and two kindes more by the Lord Cromwell after his travel."—Voiages, vol. ii. It is a long straggling Rose, bearing bunches of single flowers, and is very seldom seen except against the walls of some old houses. "You remember the great bush at the corner of the south wall just by the blue drawing-room windows; that is the old Musk Rose, Shakespeare's Musk Rose, which is dying out through the kingdom now."—My Lady Ludlow, by Mrs. Gaskell. But wherever it is grown it is highly prized, not so much for the beauty as for the delicate scent of its flowers. The scent is unlike the scent of any other Rose, or of any other flower, but it is very pleasant, and not overpowering; and the plant has the peculiarity that, like the Sweet Briar, but unlike other Roses, it gives out its scent of its own accord and unsought, and chiefly in the evening, so that if the window of a bedroom near which this rose is trained is left open, the scent will soon be perceived in the room. This peculiarity did not escape the notice of Lord Bacon. "Because the breath of flowers," he says, "is far sweeter in the air (when it comes and goes like the warbling of music) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight than to know what be the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air. Roses, damask and red, are fast flowers of their smells, so that you may walk by a whole row of them, and find nothing of their sweetness, yea, though it be in a morning's dew. Bays, likewise, yield no smell as they grow, Rosemary little, nor Sweet Marjoram; that which above all others yields the sweetest smell in the air is the Violet, especially the white double Violet which comes twice a year, about the middle of April, and about Bartholomew-tide; next to that is the Musk-rose."—Essay of Gardens.

The Roses mentioned in Nos. 34, 51, and 52 as a mixture of red and white must have been the mottled or variegated Roses, commonly called the York and Lancaster Roses;[253:1] [254]these are old Roses, and very probably quite as old as the sixteenth century. There are two varieties: in one each petal is blotched with white and pink; this is the R. versicolor of Parkinson, and is a variety of R. Damascena; in the other most of the petals are white, but with a mixture of pink petals; this is the Rosa mundi or Gloria mundi, and is a variety of R. Gallica.

These, with the addition of the Eglantine or Sweet Brier (see Eglantine), are the only Roses that Shakespeare directly names, and they were the chief sorts grown in his time, but not the only sorts; and to what extent Roses were cultivated in Shakespeare's time we have a curious proof in the account of the grant of Ely Place, in Holborn, the property of the Bishops of Ely. "The tenant was Sir Christopher Hatton (Queen Elizabeth's handsome Lord Chancellor) to whom the greater portion of the house was let in 1576 for the term of twenty-one years. The rent was a Red Rose, ten loads of hay, and ten pounds per annum; Bishop Cox, on whom this hard bargain was forced by the Queen, reserving to himself and his successors the right of walking in the gardens, and gathering twenty bushels of Roses yearly."—Cunningham. We have records also of the garden cultivation of the Rose in London long before Shakespeare's time. "In the Earl of Lincoln's garden in Holborn in 24 Edw. I., the only flowers named are Roses, of which a quantity was sold, producing three shillings and twopence."—Hudson Turner.

My space forbids me to enter more largely into any account of these old species, or to say much of the many very interesting points in the history of the Rose, but two or three points connected with Shakespeare's Roses must not be passed over. First, its name. He says through Juliet (No. 36) that the Rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But the whole world is against him. Rose was its old Latin name corrupted from its older Greek name, and the same name, with slight and easily-traced differences, has clung to it in almost all European countries.

Shakespeare also mentions its uses in Rose-water and Rose-cakes, and it was only natural to suppose that a flower so beautiful and so sweet was meant by Nature to be of great use to man. Accordingly we find that wonderful virtues [255]were attributed to it,[255:1] and an especial virtue was attributed to the dewdrops that settled on the full-blown Rose. Shakespeare alludes to these in Nos. 22 and 27; and from these were made cosmetics only suited to the most extravagant.

"The water that did spryng from ground
She would not touch at all,
But washt her hands with dew of Heaven
That on sweet Roses fall."

The Lamentable Fall of Queen Ellinor.—Roxburghe Ballads.

And as with their uses, so it was also with their history. Such a flower must have a high origin, and what better origin than the pretty mediæval legend told to us by Sir John Mandeville?—"At Betheleim is the Felde Floridus, that is to seyne, the Feld florisched; for als moche as a fayre mayden was blamed with wrong and sclaundered, for whiche cause sche was demed to the Dethe, and to be brent in that place, to the whiche she was ladd; and as the Fyre began to brent about hire, sche made hire preyeres to oure Lord, that als wissely as sche was not gylty of that Synne, that He wolde helpe hire and make it to be knowen to alle men, of his mercyfulle grace. And when sche hadde thus seyd, sche entered into the Fuyr; and anon was the Fuyr quenched and oute; and the Brondes that weren brennynge becomen red Roseres, and the Brondes that weren not kyndled becomen white Roseres, full of Roses. And these weren the first Roseres and Roses, both white and rede, that evere ony man saughe."—Voiage and Travaile, cap. vi.

With this pretty legend I may well conclude the account of Shakespeare's Roses, commending, however, M. Biron's sensible remarks on unseasonable flowers (No. 26) to those who estimate the beauty of a flower or anything else in proportion to its being produced out of its natural season.


[244:1] This was a familiar idea with the old writers: "Therefore, sister Bud, grow wise by my folly, and know it is far greater happinesse to lose thy virginity in a good hand than to wither on the stalk whereon thou growest."—Thomas Fuller, Antheologia, p. 32. (See also Chester's "Cantoes," No. 13, p. 137, New Shak. Soc.)

[245:1] "Non vivunt contra naturam, qui hieme concupiscunt rosas?"—Seneca, Ep. 122.

[250:1] We have an old record of the existence of large double Roses in Asia by Herodotus, who tells us, that in a part of Macedonia were the so-called gardens of Midas, in which grew native Roses, each one having sixty petals, and of a scent surpassing all others ("Hist.," viii. 138).

[252:1] The Damask Rose was imported into England at an earlier date but probably only as a drug. It is mentioned in a "Bill of Medicynes furnished for the use of Edward I., 1306-7: 'Item pro aqua rosata de Damasc,' lb. xl, iiiili."—Archæological Journal, vol. xiv. 271.

[253:1] The York and Lancaster Roses were a frequent subject for the epigram writers; and gave occasion for one of the happiest of English epigrams. On presenting a White Rose to a Lancastrian lady—

"If this fair Rose offend thy sight,
It in thy bosom wear;
'Twill blush to find itself less white,
And turn Lancastrian there."

[255:1] "A Rose beside his beauty is a cure."—G. Herbert, Providence.



(1) Perdita. Reverend Sirs,
For you there's Rosemary and Rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long;
Grace and remembrance be to you both.[256:1]
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (73).
(2) Bawd. Marry, come up, my dish of chastity with Rosemary and bays.
Pericles, act iv, sc. 6 (159).
(3) Edgar. Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices
Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, and sprigs of Rosemary.
Lear, act ii, sc. 3 (14).
(4) Ophelia. There's Rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 5 (175).
(5) Nurse. Doth not Rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?
  Romeo. Ay, nurse; what of that? both with an R.
  Nurse. Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name; R is for the ——. No; I know it begins with some other letter:—and she hath the prettiest sententious of it, of you and Rosemary, that it would do you good to hear it.
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 4 (219).
(6) Friar. Dry up your tears, and stick your Rosemary
On this fair corse.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 5 (79).

The Rosemary is not a native of Britain, but of the sea-coast of the South of Europe, where it is very abundant. It was very early introduced into England, and is mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon Herbarium under its Latin name of Ros marinus, and is there translated by Bothen, i.e. Thyme; also in an Anglo-Saxon Vocabulary of the eleventh century, where it is translated Feld-madder and Sun-dew. In these places our present plant may or may not be meant, but there is no doubt that it is the one referred to in an ancient English poem of the fourteenth century, on the virtues of herbs, published in Wright and Halliwell's "Reliquiæ Antiquæ." The account of "The Gloriouse Rosemaryne" is long, but the beginning and ending are worth quoting—


"This herbe is callit Rosemaryn
Of vertu that is gode and fyne;
But alle the vertues tell I ne cane,
No I trawe no erthely man.
*       *       *       *       *
Of thys herbe telles Galiene
That in hys contree was a quene,
Gowtus and Crokyt as he hath tolde,
And eke sexty yere olde;
Sor and febyl, where men hyr sey
Scho semyth wel for to dey;
Of Rosmaryn scho toke sex pode,
And grownde hyt wel in a stownde,
And bathed hir threyes everi day,
Nine mowthes, as I herde say,
And afterwarde anoynitte wel hyr hede
With good bame as I rede;
Away fel alle that olde flessche,
And yoge i-sprong tender and nessche;
So fresshe to be scho then began
Scho coveytede couplede be to man." (Vol. i, 196).

We can now scarcely understand the high favour in which Rosemary was formerly held; we are accustomed to see it neglected, or only tolerated in some corner of the kitchen garden, and not often tolerated there. But it was very different in Shakespeare's time, when it was in high favour for its evergreen leaves and fine aromatic scent, remaining a long time after picking, so long, indeed, that both leaves and scent were almost considered everlasting. This was its great charm, and so Spenser spoke of it as "the cheerful Rosemarie" and "refreshing Rosemarine," and good Sir Thomas More had a great affection for it. "As for Rosemarine," he said, "I lett it run alle over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because tis the herb sacred to remembrance, and therefore to friendship; whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language that maketh it the chosen emblem at our funeral wakes and in our buriall grounds." And Parkinson gives a similar account of its popularity as a garden plant: "Being in every woman's garden, it were sufficient but to name it as an ornament among other sweet herbs and flowers in our gardens. In this our land, where it hath been planted in noblemen's and great men's gardens against brick walls, and there continued long, it riseth up in [258]time unto a very great height, with a great and woody stem of that compasse that, being cloven out into boards, it hath served to make lutes or such like instruments, and here with us carpenters' rules and to divers others purposes." It was the favourite evergreen wherever the occasion required an emblem of constancy and perpetual remembrance, such especially as weddings and funerals, at both of which it was largely used; and so says Herrick of "The Rosemarie Branch"—

"Grow for two ends, it matters not at all,
Be't for my bridall or my buriall."

Its use at funerals was very widespread, for Laurembergius records a pretty custom in use in his day, 1631, at Frankfort: "Is mos apud nos retinetur, dum cupresso humile, vel rore marino, non solum coronamus funera jamjam ducenda, sed et iis appendimus ex iisdem herbis litteras collectas, significatrices nominis ejus quæ defuncta est. Nam in puellarum funeribus hæc fere fieri solent" ("Horticulturæ," cap. vj.).

Its use at weddings is pleasantly told in the old ballad of "The Bride's Good-morrow"—

"The house is drest and garnisht for your sake
With flowers gallant and green;
A solemn feast your comely cooks do ready make,
Where all your friends will be seen:
Young men and maids do ready stand
With sweet Rosemary in their hand—
A perfect token of your virgin's life.
To wait upon you they intend
Unto the church to make an end:
And God make thee a joyfull wedded wife."

Roxburghe Ballads, vol. i.

It probably is one of the most lasting of evergreens after being gathered, though we can scarcely credit the statement recorded by Phillips that "it is the custom in France to put a branch of Rosemary in the hands of the dead when in the coffin, and we are told by Valmont Bomare, in his 'Histoire Naturelle,' that when the coffins have been opened after several years, the plant has been found to have vegetated so much that the leaves have covered the corpse." These were [259]the general and popular uses of the Rosemary, but it was of high repute as a medicine, and still holds a place, though not so high as formerly, in the "Pharmacopœia." "Rosemary," says Parkinson, "is almost of as great use as Bayes, both for inward and outward remedies, and as well for civill as physicall purposes—inwardly for the head and heart, outwardly for the sinews and joynts; for civile uses, as all do know, at weddings, funerals, &c., to bestow among friends; and the physicall are so many that you might as well be tyred in the reading as I in the writing, if I should set down all that might be said of it."

With this high character we may well leave this good, old-fashioned plant, merely noting that the name is popularly but erroneously supposed to mean the Rose of Mary. It has no connection with either Rose or Mary, but is the Ros marinus, or Ros Maris (as in Ovid—

"Ros maris, et laurus, nigraque myrtus olent;"

De Arte Aman., iii, 390),

the plant that delights in the sea-spray; and so the old spelling was Rosmarin. Gower says of the Star Alpheta—

"His herbe proper is Rosmarine;"

Conf. Aman., lib. sept.

a spelling which Shenstone adopted—

"And here trim Rosmarin that whilom crowned
The daintiest garden of the proudest peer."

It was also sometimes called Guardrobe, being "put into chests and presses among clothes, to preserve them from mothes and other vermine."


[256:1] Grace was symbolized by the Rue, or Herb of Grace, and remembrance by the Rosemary.


(1) Perdita. For you there's Rosemary and Rue.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (74). (See Rosemary, No. 1.)
(2) Gardener. Here did she fall a tear; here in this place
I'll set a bank of Rue, sour Herb of Grace:
Rue, even for ruth, here shortly shall beseen,
In the remembrance of a weeping queen.
Richard II, act iii, sc. 4 (104).
[260](3) Antony. Grace grow where these drops fall.
Antony and Cleopatra, act iv, sc. 2 (38).
(4) Ophelia. There's Rue for you; and here's some for me: we may call it Herb-grace o' Sundays: O, you must wear your Rue with a difference.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 5 (181).
(5) Clown. Indeed, sir, she was the Sweet Marjoram of the salad, or rather the Herb of Grace.
  Lafeu. They are not salad-herbs, you knave, they are nose-herbs.
All's Well that Ends Well, act iv, sc. 5 (17).

Comparing (2) and (3) together, there is little doubt that the same herb is alluded to in both; and it is, perhaps, alluded to, though not exactly named, in the following:

Friar Laurence. In man, as well as herbs, grace and rude will.
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 3 (28).

Shakespeare thus gives us the two names for the same plant, Rue and Herb of Grace, and though at first sight there seems to be little or no connection between the two names, yet really they are so closely connected, that the one name was derived from, or rather suggested by, the other. Rue is the English form of the Greek and Latin ruta, a word which has never been explained, and in its earlier English form of rude came still nearer to the Latin original. But ruth was the English word for sorrow and remorse, and to rue was to be sorry for anything, or to have pity;[260:1] we still say a man will rue a particular action, i.e., be sorry for it; and so it was a natural thing to say that a plant which was so bitter, and had always borne the name Rue or Ruth, must be connected with repentance. It was, therefore, the Herb of Repentance, and this was soon transformed into the Herb of Grace (in 1838 Loudon said, "It is to this day called Ave Grace in Sussex"), repentance being the chief sign of grace; and it is not unlikely that this idea was strengthened by the connection of Rue with the bitter herbs of the Bible, though it is only once mentioned, and then with no special remark, [261]except as a tithable garden herb, together with Anise and Cummin.

The Rue, like Lavender and Rosemary, is a native of the more barren parts of the coasts of the Mediterranean, and has been found on Mount Tabor, but it was one of the earliest occupants of the English Herb garden. It is very frequently mentioned in the Saxon Leech Books, and entered so largely into their prescriptions that it must have been very extensively grown. Its strong aromatic smell,[261:1] and bitter taste, with the blistering quality of the leaves, soon established its character as almost a heal-all.

"Rew bitter a worthy gres (herb)
Mekyl of myth and vertu is."

Stockholm MS., 1305.

Even beasts were supposed to have discovered its virtues, so that weasels were gravely said, and this by such men as Pliny, to eat Rue when they were preparing themselves for a fight with rats and serpents. Its especial virtue was an eye-salve, a use which Milton did not overlook—

"To nobler sights
Michael from Adam's eyes the filme removed
Which that false fruit which promised clearer sight
Had bred; then purged with Euphrasie and Rue
The visual nerve, for he had much to see:"

Paradise Lost, book xi.;

and which was more fully stated in the old lines of the Schola Salerni—

"Nobilis est Ruta quia lumina reddit acuta;
Auxilio rutæ, vir lippe, videbis acute;
Cruda comesta recens oculos Caligine purgat;
Ruta facit castum, dat lumen, et ingerit astum;
Cocta facit Ruta et de pollicibus loca tuta."

After reading this high moral and physical character of the herb, it is rather startling to find that "It is believed that if stolen from a neighbour's garden it would prosper better." It was, however, an old belief—

"They sayen eke stolen sede is butt the bette."

Palladius on Husbandrie (c. 1420) iv, 269.

[262] "It is a common received opinion that Rue will grow the better if it bee filtched out of another man's garden."—Holland's Pliny, xix. 7.

As other medicines were introduced the Rue declined in favour, so that Parkinson spoke of it with qualified praise—"Without doubt it is a most wholesom herb, although bitter and strong. Some do rip up a bead-rowl of the virtues of Rue, . . . but beware of the too-frequent or overmuch use therof." And Dr. Daubeny says of it, "It is a powerful stimulant and narcotic, but not much used in modern practise."

As a garden plant, the Rue forms a pretty shrub for a rock-work, if somewhat attended to, so as to prevent its becoming straggling and untidy. The delicate green and peculiar shape of the leaves give it a distinctive character, which forms a good contrast to other plants.



"Rewe on my child, that of thyn gentilnesse
Rewest on every sinful in destresse."

Chaucer, The Man of Lawes Tale.

[261:1] "Ranke-smelling Rue."—Spenser, Muiopotmos.


(1) Rosalind. He taught me how to know a man in love; in which cage of Rushes I am sure you are not prisoner.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (388).
(2) Phœbe. Lean but on a Rush,
The cicatrice and capable impressure
Thy palm some moment keeps.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 5 (22).
(3) Clown. As fit as Tib's Rush for Tom's forefinger.
All's Well that Ends Well, act ii, sc. 2 (24).
(4) Romeo. Let wantons light of heart
Tickle the senseless Rushes with their heels.
Romeo and Juliet, act i, sc. 4 (35).
(5) Dromio of Syracuse. Some devils ask but the parings of one's nail,
A Rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin,
A Nut, a Cherry-stone.
Comedy of Errors, act iv, sc. 3 (72).
(6) Bastard. A Rush will be a beam
To hang thee on.
King John, act iv, sc. 3 (129).
[263](7) 1st Groom. More Rushes, more Rushes.
2nd Henry IV, act v, sc. 5 (1).
(8) Eros. He's walking in the garden—thus; and spurns
The Rush that lies before him.
Antony and Cleopatra, act iii, sc. 5 (17).
(9) Othello. Man but a Rush against Othello's breast,
And he retires.
Othello, act v, sc. 2 (270).
(10) Grumio. Is supper ready, the house trimmed, Rushes strewed, cobwebs swept?
Taming of the Shrew, act iv, sc. 1 (47).
(11) Katherine. Be it moon or sun, or what you please,
And if you please to call it a Rush-candle,
Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 5 (13).
(12) Glendower. She bids you on the wanton Rushes lay you down,
And rest your gentle head upon her lap.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 1 (214).
(13) Marcius. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down Oaks with Rushes.
Coriolanus, act i, sc. 1 (183).
(14) Iachimo. Our Tarquin thus
Did softly press the Rushes.
Cymbeline, act ii, sc. 2 (12).
(15) Senator. Our gates
Which yet seem shut, we have but pinn'd with Rushes!
They'll open of themselves.
Coriolanus, act i, sc. 4 (16).
(16)   And being lighted, by the light he spies
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks;
He takes it from the Rushes where it lies.
Lucrece (316).
(17)   See Reeds, No. 7.
(18) Wooer. Rings she made
Of Rushes that grew by, and to 'em spoke
The prettiest posies.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 1 (109).

See also Flag, Reed, and Bulrush.

Like the Reed, the Rush often stands for any water-loving, [264]grassy plant, and, like the Reed, it was the emblem of yielding weakness and of uselessness.[264:1] The three principal Rushes referred to by Shakespeare are the Common Rush (Juncus communis), the Bulrush (Scirpus lacustris), and the Sweet Rush (Acorus calamus).

The Common Rush, though the mark of badly cultivated ground, and the emblem of uselessness, was not without its uses, some of which are referred to in Nos. 1, 3, and 11. In Nos. 3 and 18 reference is made to the Rush-ring, a ring, no doubt, originally meant and used for the purposes of honest betrothal, but afterwards so vilely used for the purposes of mock marriages, that even as early as 1217 Richard Bishop of Salisbury had to issue his edict against the use of "annulum de junco."

The Rush betrothal ring is mentioned by Spenser—

"O thou great shepheard, Lobbin, how great is thy griefe!
Where bene the nosegayes that she dight for thee?
The coloured chaplets wrought with a chiefe,
The knotted Rush-ringes and gilt Rosemarie."

Shepherd's Calendar—November.

And by Quarles—

"Love-sick swains
Compose Rush-rings, and Myrtle-berry chains,
And stuck with glorious King-cups in their bonnets,
Adorned with Laurel slip, chant true love sonnets."

But the uses of the Rush were not all bad. Newton, in 1587, said of the Rush—"It is a round smooth shoote without joints or knots, having within it a white substance or pith, which being drawn forth showeth like long white, soft, gentle, and round thread, and serveth for many purposes. Heerewith be made manie pretie imagined devises for Bride-ales and other solemnities, as little baskets, hampers, frames, pitchers, dishes, combs, brushes, stooles, chaires, purses with strings, girdles, and manie such other [265]pretie and curious and artificiall conceits, which at such times many do take the paines to make and hang up in their houses, as tokens of good will to the new married Bride; and after the solemnities ended, to bestow abroad for Bride-gifts or presents." It was this "white substance or pith" from which the Rush candle (No. 11) was and still is made: a candle which in early days was probably the universal candle, which, till within a few years, was the night candle of every sick chamber, in which most of us can recollect it as a most ghastly object as it used to stand, "stationed in a basin on the floor, where it glimmered away like a gigantic lighthouse in a particularly small piece of water" (Pickwick), till expelled by the night-lights, and which is still made by Welsh labourers, and, I suppose, in Shakespeare's time was the only candle used by the poor.

"If your influence be quite damm'd up
With black usurping mists, some gentle taper,
Though a Rush-candle from the wicker hole
Of some clay habitation, visit us
With thy long levell'd rule of streaming light."—Comus.

But the chief use of Rushes in those days was to strew the floors of houses and churches (Nos. 4, 7, 10, 12, and 14). This custom seems to have been universal in all houses of any pretence. "William the son of William of Alesbury holds three roods of land of the Lord the King in Alesbury in Com. Buck by the service of finding straw for the bed of the Lord the King, and to strew his chamber, and also of finding for the King when he comes to Alesbury straw for his bed, and besides this Grass or Rushes to make his chamber pleasant."—Blunt's Tenures. The custom went on even to our own day in Norwich Cathedral, and the "picturesque custom still lingers in the West of strewing the floors of the churches on Whit Sunday with Rushes freshly pulled from the meadows. This custom attains its highest perfection in the church of St. Mary Redcliffe at Bristol. On 'Rush Sunday' the floor is strewn with Rushes. All the merchants throw open their conservatories for the vicar to take his choice of their flowers, and the pulpit, the lectern, the choir, and the communion rails and table present a scene of great beauty."—The Garden, May, 1877.

[266] For this purpose the Sweet-scented Rush was always used where it could be procured, and when first laid down it must have made a pleasant carpet; but it was a sadly dirty arrangement, and gives us a very poor idea of the cleanliness of even the best houses, though it probably was not the custom all through the year, as Newton says, speaking of Sedges, but evidently confusing the Sedge with the Sweet-scented Rush, "with the which many in this countrie do use in sommer time to straw their parlours and churches, as well for cooleness as for pleasant smell."[266:1] This Rush (Acorus calamus) is a British plant, with broad leaves, which have a strong cinnamon-like smell, which obtained for the plant the old Saxon name of Beewort. Another (so-called) Rush, the Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus), is one of the very handsomest of the British plants, bearing on a long straight stem a large umbel of very handsome pink flowers. Wherever there is a pond in a garden, these fine Rushes should have a place, though they may be grown in the open border where the ground is not too dry.

There is a story told by Sir John Mandeville in connection with Rushes which is not easy to understand. According to his account, our Saviour's crown of thorns was made of Rushes! "And zif alle it be so that men seyn that this Croune is of Thornes, zee shall undirstande that it was of Jonkes of the See, that is to sey, Russhes of the See, that prykken als scharpely as Thornes. For I have seen and beholden many times that of Parys and that of Constantynoble, for thei were bothe on, made of Russches of the See. But men have departed hem in two parties, of the which on part is at Parys, and the other part is at Constantynoble—and I have on of the precyouse Thornes, that semethe licke a white Thorn, and that was zoven to me for great specyaltee. . . . The Jewes setten him in [267]a chayere and clad him in a mantelle, and then made thei the Croune of Jonkes of the See."—Voiage and Travaile, c. 2.

I have no certainty to what Rush the pleasant old traveller can here refer. I can only guess that as Rushes and Sedges were almost interchangeable names, he may have meant the Sea Holly, formerly called the Holly-sedge, of which there is a very appropriate account given in an old Saxon runelay thus translated by Cockayne: "Hollysedge hath its dwelling oftenest in a marsh, it waxeth in water, woundeth fearfully, burneth with blood (i.e., draws blood and pains) every one of men who to it offers any handling."[267:1]



"Around the islet at its lowest edge,
Lo, there beneath, where breaks th' encircling wave,
The yielding mud is thick with Rushes crowned.
No other flower with frond or leafy growth
Or hardened fibre there can life sustain,
For none bend safely to the watery shock."

Dante, Purgatorio, canto i. (Johnston).

[266:1] "In the South of Europe Juniper branches were used for this purpose, as they still are in Sweden."—Flora Domestica, p. 213.

"As I have seen upon a bridal day,
Full many maids clad in their best array,
In honour of the bride, come with their flaskets
Filled full of flowers, other in wicker baskets
Bring from the Marish Rushes, to overspread
The ground whereon to Church the lovers tread."

Browne's Brit. Past., i, 2.

[267:1] I leave this as I first wrote it, but I have to thank Mr. Britten for the very probable suggestion that Sir John Mandeville was right. Not only does the Juncus acutus "prykken als scharpely as Thornes," but "what is shown in Paris at the present day as the crown of Thorns is certainly, as Sir John says, made of rushes; the curious may consult M. Rohault de Fleury's sumptuous 'Mémoire sur les Instruments de la Passion,' for a full description of it."


(1) Iris. Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Vetches, Oats, and Pease.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (60).
(2) Iris. You sunburnt sicklemen, of August weary,
Come hither from the furrow and be merry;
Make holiday; your Rye-straw hats put on.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (135).
(3) Song. Between the acres of the Rye
These pretty country folks would lye.
As You Like It, act v, sc. 3 (23).

The Rye of Shakespeare's time was identical with our own (Secale cereale). It is not a British plant, and its native country is not exactly known; but it seems probable that both the plant and the name came from the region of the Caucasus.

As a food-plant Rye was not in good repute in Shakespeare's time. Gerard said of it, "It is harder to digest [268]than Wheat, yet to rusticke bodies that can well digest it, it yields good nourishment." But "recent investigations by Professor Wanklyn and Mr. Cooper appear to give the first place to Rye as the most nutritious of all our cereals. Rye contains more gluten, and is pronounced by them one-third richer than Wheat. Rye, moreover, is capable of thriving in almost any soil."—Gardener's Chronicle, 1877.


(1) Ceres. Who (i.e., Iris), with thy Saffron wings upon my flowers,
Diffusest honeydrops, refreshing showers.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (78).
(2) Antipholus of Ephesus. Did this companion with the Saffron face
Revel and feast it at my house to day?
Comedy of Errors, act iv, sc. 4 (64).
(3) Clown. I must have Saffron to colour the Warden pies.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (48).
(4) Lafeu. No, no, no, your son was misled with a snipt-taffeta fellow there, whose villanous Saffron would have made all the unbaked and doughy youth of a nation in his colour.
All's Well that Ends Well, act iv, sc. 5 (1).

Saffron (from its Arabic name, al zahafaran) was not, in Shakespeare's time, limited to the drug or to the Saffron-bearing Crocus (C. sativus), but it was the general name for all the Croci, and was even extended to the Colchicums, which were called Meadow Saffrons.[268:1] We have no Crocus really a native of Britain, but a few species (C. vernus, C. nudiflorus, C. aureus, and C. biflorus) have been so naturalized in certain parts as to be admitted, though very doubtfully, into the British flora; but the Saffron Crocus can in no way be considered a native, and the history of its introduction into England is very obscure. It is mentioned [269]several times in the Anglo-Saxon Leech Books: "When he bathes, let him smear himself with oil; mingle it with Saffron."—Tenth Century Leech Book, ii. 37. "For dimness of eyes, thus one must heal it: take Celandine one spoonful, and Aloes, and Crocus (Saffron in French)."—Schools of Medicine, tenth century, c. 22. In these instances it may be only the imported drug; but the name occurs in an English Vocabulary among the Nomina herbarum: "Hic Crocus, Ae Safurroun;" and in a Pictorial Vocabulary of the fourteenth century, "Hic Crocus, Ance Safryn;" so that I think the plant must have been in cultivation in England at that time. The usual statement, made by one writer after another, is that it was introduced by Sir Thomas Smith into the neighbourhood of Walden in the time of Edward III., but the original authority for this statement is unknown. The most authentic account is that by Hakluyt in 1582, and though it is rather long, it is worth extracting in full. It occurs in some instructions in "Remembrances for Master S.," who was going into Turkey, giving him hints what to observe in his travels: "Saffron, the best of the universall world, groweth in this realme. . . . It is a spice that is cordiall, and may be used in meats, and that is excellent in dying of yellow silks. This commodity of Saffron groweth fifty miles from Tripoli, in Syria, on an high hyll, called in those parts Gasian, so as there you may learn at that part of Tripoli the value of the pound, the goodnesse of it, and the places of the vent. But it is said that from that hyll there passeth yerely of that commodity fifteen moiles laden, and that those regions notwithstanding lacke sufficiency of that commodity. But if a vent might be found, men would in Essex (about Saffron Walden), and in Cambridgeshire, revive the trade for the benefit of the setting of the poore on worke. So would they do in Herefordshire by Wales, where the best of all England is, in which place the soil yields the wilde Saffron commonly, which showeth the natural inclination of the same soile to the bearing of the right Saffron, if the soile be manured and that way employed. . . It is reported at Saffron Walden that a pilgrim, proposing to do good to his countrey, stole a head of Saffron, and hid the same in his Palmer's staffe, which he had made hollow before of purpose, and so he brought the root into [270]this realme with venture of his life, for if he had bene taken, by the law of the countrey from whence it came, he had died for the fact."—English Voiages, &c., vol. ii. From this account it seems clear that even in Hakluyt's time Saffron had been so long introduced that the history of its introduction was lost; and I think it very probable that, as was suggested by Coles in his "Adam in Eden" (1657), we are indebted to the Romans for this, as for so many of our useful plants. But it is not a Roman or Italian plant. Spenser wrote of it as—

"Saffron sought for in Cilician soyle—"[270:1]

and Browne—

"Saffron confected in Cilicia"—Brit. Past., i, 2;

which information they derived from Pliny. It is supposed to be a native of Asia Minor, but so altered by long cultivation that it never produces seed either in England or in other parts of Europe.[270:2] This fact led M. Chappellier, of Paris, who has for many years studied the history of the plant, to the belief that it was a hybrid; but finding that when fertilized with the pollen of a Crocus found wild in Greece, and known as C. sativus var. Græcus (Orphanidis), it produces seed abundantly, he concludes that it is a variety of that species, which it very much resembles, but altered and rendered sterile by cultivation. It is not now much cultivated in England, but we have abundant authority from Tusser, Gerard, Parkinson, Camden, and many other writers, that it was largely cultivated before and after Shakespeare's time, and that the quality of the English Saffron [271]was very superior.[271:1] The importance of the crop is shown by its giving its name to Saffron Walden in Essex,[271:2] and to Saffron Hill in London, which "was formerly a part of Ely Gardens" (of which we shall hear again when we come to speak of Strawberries), "and derives its name from the crops of Saffron which it bore."—Cunningham. The plant has in the same way given its name to Zaffarano, a village in Sicily, near Mount Etna, and to Zafaranboly, "ville située près Inobole en Anatolie, au sud-est de l'ancienne Héraclée."—Chappellier. The plant is largely cultivated in many parts of Europe, but the chief centres of cultivation are in the arrondissement of Pithiviers in France, and the province of Arragon in Spain; and the chief consumers are the Germans. It has also been largely cultivated in China for a great many years, and the bulbs now imported from China are found to be, in many points, superior to the European—"l'invasion Tartare aurait porté le Safran en Chine, et de leur côté les croisés l'auraient importé en Europe."—Chappellier.

I need scarcely say that the parts of the plant that produce the Saffron are the sweet-scented stigmata, the "Crocei odores" of Virgil; but the use of Saffron has now so gone out of fashion, that it may be well to say something of its uses in the time of Shakespeare, as a medicine, a dye, and a confection. On all three points its virtues were so many that there is a complete literature on Crocus. I need not name all the books on the subject, but the title page of one (a duodecimo of nearly three hundred pages) may be quoted as an example: "Crocologia seu curiosa Croci Regis Vegetabilium enucleatio continens Illius etymologiam, differencias, tempus quo viret et floret, culturam, collectionem, usum mechanicum, Pharmaceuticum, Chemico medicum, omnibus pene humani corporis partibus destinatum additis diversis observationibus et questionibus Crocum concernentibus ad normam et formam S. R. I. Academiæ Naturæ curiosorum congesta a Dan: Ferdinando Hertodt, Phys. et [272]Med. Doc., &c., &c. Jenæ. 1671." After this we may content ourselves with Gerard's summary of its virtues: "The moderate use of it is good for the head, and maketh sences more quicke and lively, shaketh off heavy and drowsie sleep and maketh a man mery." For its use in confections this will suffice from the "Apparatus Plantarum" of Laurembergius, 1632: "In re familiari vix ullus est telluris habitatus angulus ubi non sit Croci quotodiana usurpatio, aspersi vel incocti cibis." And as to its uses as a dye, its penetrating powers were proverbial, of which Luther's Sermons will supply an instance: "As the Saffron bag that hath bene ful of Saffron, or hath had Saffron in it, doth ever after savour and smel of the swete Saffron that it contayneth; so our blessed Ladye which conceived and bare Christe in her wombe, dyd ever after resemble the maners and vertues of that precious babe which she bare" ("Fourth Sermon," 1548). One of the uses to which Saffron was applied in the Middle Ages was for the manufacture of the beautiful gold colour used in the illumination of missals, &c., where the actual gold was not used. This is the recipe from the work of Theophilus in the eleventh century: "If ye wish to decorate your work in some manner take tin pure and finely scraped; melt it and wash it like gold, and apply it with the same glue upon letters or other places which you wish to ornament with gold or silver; and when you have polished it with a tooth, take Saffron with which silk is colored, moistening it with clear of egg without water, and when it has stood a night, on the following day cover with a pencil the places which you wish to gild, the rest holding the place of silver" (Book i, c. 23, Hendrie's translation).

Though the chief fame of the Saffron Crocus is as a field plant, yet it is also a very handsome flower; but it is a most capricious one, which may account for the area of cultivation being so limited. In some places it entirely refuses to flower, as it does in my own garden, where I have cultivated it for many years but never saw a flower, while in a neighbour's garden, under apparently the very same conditions of soil and climate, it flowers every autumn. But if we cannot succeed with the Saffron Crocus, there are many other Croci which were known in the time of Shakespeare, and grown not "for any other use than in regard of [273]their beautiful flowers of several varieties, as they have been carefully sought out and preserved by divers to furnish a garden of dainty curiosity." Gerard had in his garden only six species; Parkinson had or described thirty-one different sorts, and after his time new kinds were not so much sought after till Dean Herbert collected and studied them. His monograph of the Crocus, in 1847, contained the account of forty-one species, besides many varieties. The latest arrangement of the family by Mr. George Maw, of Broseley, contains sixty-eight species, besides varieties; of these all are not yet in cultivation, but every year sees some fresh addition to the number, chiefly by the unwearied exertions in finding them in their native habitats, and the liberal distribution of them when found, of Mr. Maw, to whom all the lovers of the Crocus are deeply indebted. And the Croci are so beautiful that we cannot have too many of them; they are, for the most part, perfectly hardy, though some few require a little protection in winter; they are of an infinite variety of colour, and some flower in the spring and some in the autumn. Most of us call the Crocus a spring flower, yet there are more autumnal than vernal species, but it is as a spring flower that we most value it. The common yellow Crocus is almost as much "the first-born of the year's delight" as the Snowdrop. No one can tell its native country, but it has been the brightest ornament of our gardens, not only in spring, but even in winter, for many years. It was probably first introduced during Shakespeare's life. "It hath floures," says Gerard, "of a most perfect shining yellow colour, seeming afar off to be a hot glowing coal of fire. That pleasant plant was sent unto me from Robinus, of Paris, that painful and most curious searcher of simples." From that beginning perhaps it has found its way into every garden, for it increases rapidly, is very hardy, and its brightness commends it to all. It is the "most gladsome of the early flowers. None gives more glowing welcome to the season, or strikes on our first glance with a ray of keener pleasure, when, with some bright morning's warmth, the solitary golden fringes have kindled into knots of thick-clustered yellow bloom on the borders of the cottage garden. At a distance the eye is caught by that glowing patch, its warm heart open to the sun, and dear to [274]the honey-gathering bees which hum around the chalices."—Forbes Watson.

With this pretty picture I may well close the account of the Crocus, but not because the subject is exhausted, for it is very tempting to go much further, and to speak of the beauties of the many species, and of the endless forms and colours of the grand Dutch varieties; and whatever admiration may be expressed for the common yellow Dutch Crocus, the same I would also give to almost every member of this lovely and cheerful family.


[268:1] Fuller says of the crocodile—"He hath his name of χροχό-δειλος, or the Saffron-fearer, knowing himself to be all poison, and it all antidote."—Worthies of England, i, 336, ed. 1811.

[270:1] "Cilician," or "Corycean," were the established classical epithets to use when speaking of the Saffron. Cowley quotes—

"Corycii pressura Croci"—Lucan;
"Ultima Corycio quæ cadit aura Croco"—Martial;

and adds the note—"Omnes Poetæ hoc quasi solenni quodam Epitheto utuntur. Corycus nomen urbis et montis in Cilicia, ubi laudatissimus Crocus nascebatur."—Plantarum, lib. i, 49.

[270:2] "Saffron is . . . a native of Cashmere, . . . and the . . . Saffron Crocus and the Hemp plant have followed their (the Aryans) migrations together throughout the temperate zone of the globe."—Birdwood, Handbook to the Indian Court, p. 23.

[271:1] "Our English hony and Safron is better than any that commeth from any strange or foregn land."—Bullein, Government of Health, 1588.

[271:2] The arms of the borough of Saffron Walden are "three Saffron flowers walled in."


  Edgar. Half-way down
Hangs one that gathers Samphire, dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
King Lear, act iv, sc. 6 (14).

Being found only on rocks, the Samphire was naturally associated with St. Peter, and so it was called in Italian Herba di San Pietro, in English Sampire and Rock Sampier[274:1]—in other words, Samphire is simply a corruption of Saint Peter. The plant grows round all the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland, wherever there are suitable rocks on which it can grow, and on all the coasts of Europe, except the northern coasts; and it is a plant very easily recognized, if not by its pale-green, fleshy leaves, yet certainly by its taste, or its "smell delightful and pleasant." The leaves form the pickle, "the pleasantest sauce, most familiar, and best agreeing with man's body," but now much out of fashion. In Shakespeare's time the gathering of Samphire was a regular trade, and Steevens quotes from Smith's "History of Waterford" to show the danger attending the trade: "It is terrible to see how people gather it, hanging by a rope several fathoms from the top of the impending rocks, as it were in the air." In our own time the quantity required could be easily got without much danger, for it grows in places perfectly accessible in sufficient quantity for the present requirements, for in some parts it grows away from the cliffs, so that "the fields about Porth Gwylan, in [275]Carnarvonshire, are covered with it." It may even be grown in the garden, especially in gardens near the sea, and makes a pretty plant for rockwork.

There is a story connected with the Samphire which shows how botanical knowledge, like all other knowledge, may be of great service, even where least expected. Many years ago a ship was wrecked on the Sussex coast, and a small party were left on a rock not far from land. To their horror they found the sea rising higher and higher, and threatening before long to cover their place of refuge. Some of them proposed to try and swim for land, and would have done so, but just as they were preparing for it an officer saw a plant of Samphire growing on the rock, and told them they might stay and trust to that little plant that the sea would rise no further, for that the Samphire, though always growing within the spray of the sea, never grows where the sea could actually touch it. They believed him and were saved.


[274:1] Dr. Prior.


  Perdita. Here's flowers for you;
Hot Lavender, Mints, Savory, Marjoram.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4. (103).

Savory might be supposed to get its name as being a plant of special savour, but the name comes from its Latin name Saturcia, through the Italian Savoreggia. It is a native of the South of Europe, probably introduced into England by the Romans, for it is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon recipes under the imported name of Savorie. It was a very favourite plant in the old herb gardens, and both kinds, the Winter and Summer Savory, were reckoned "among the farsing or farseting herbes, as they call them" (Parkinson), i.e., herbs used for stuffing.[275:1] Both kinds are still grown in herb gardens, but are very little used.



"His typet was ay farsud ful of knyfes
And pynnes, for to give fair wyves."

Canterbury Tale, Prologue.

"The farced title running before the King."

Henry V, act iv, sc. 1 (431).

The word still exists as "forced;" e.g., "a forced leg of mutton," "forced meat balls."



(1) 2nd Servant. And Cytherea all in Sedges hid,
Which seem to move and wanton with her breath,
Even as the waving Sedges play with wind.
Taming of the Shrew, Induction, sc. 2. (53).
(2) Iris. You nymphs, called Naiads, of the winding brooks,
With your Sedged crowns and ever-harmless looks.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (128).
(3) Julia. The current that with gentle murmur glides,
Thou knowest, being stopped, impatiently doth rage;
But when his fair course is not hindered,
He makes sweet music with the enamell'd stones,
Giving a gentle kiss to every Sedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage;
And so by many winding nooks he strays
With willing sport to the wild ocean.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, act ii, sc. 7 (25).
(4) Benedick. Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into Sedges.
Much Ado About Nothing, act ii, sc. 1 (209).
(5) Hotspur. The gentle Severn's Sedgy bank.
1st Henry IV, act i, sc. 3 (98).
(6)   See Reeds, No. 7.

Sedge is from the Anglo-Saxon Secg, and meant almost any waterside plant. Thus we read of the Moor Secg, and the Red Secg, and the Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum) is called the Holly Sedge. And so it was doubtless used by Shakespeare. In our day Sedge is confined to the genus Carex, a family growing in almost all parts of the world, and containing about 1000 species, of which we have fifty-eight in Great Britain; they are most graceful ornaments both of our brooks and ditches; and some of them will make handsome garden plants. One very handsome species—perhaps the handsomest—is C. pendula, with long tassel-like flower-spikes hanging down in a very beautiful form, which is not uncommon as a wild plant, and can easily be grown [277]in the garden, and the flower-spikes will be found very handsome additions to tall nosegays. There is another North American species, C. Fraseri, which is a good plant for the north side of a rock-work: it is a small plant, but the flower is a spike of the purest white, and is very curious, and unlike any other flower.


  Macbeth. What Rhubarb, Senna, or what purgative drug
Would scour these English hence?[277:1]
Macbeth, act v, sc. 3 (55).

Even in the time of Shakespeare several attempts were made to grow the Senna in England, but without success; so that he probably only knew it as an important "purgative drug." The Senna of commerce is made from the leaves of Cassia lanceolata and Cassia Senna, both natives of Africa, and so unfitted for open-air cultivation in England. The Cassias are a large family, mostly with handsome yellow flowers, some of which are very ornamental greenhouse plants; and one from North America, Cassia Marylandica, may be considered hardy in the South of England.


[277:1] In this passage the old reading for "Senna" is "Cyme," and this is the reading of the Globe Shakespeare; but I quote the passage with "Senna" because it is so printed in many editions.


  Peto. He persuaded us to do the like.
  Bardolph. Yea, and to tickle our noses with Speargrass to make them bleed, and then to beslubber our garments with it and swear it was the blood of true men.
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (339).

Except in this passage I can only find Speargrass mentioned in Lupton's "Notable Things," and there without any description, only as part of a medical recipe: "Whosoever is tormented with sciatica or the hip gout, let them take an herb [278]called Speargrass, and stamp it and lay a little thereof upon the grief." The plant is not mentioned by Lyte, Gerard, Parkinson, or the other old herbalists, and so it is somewhat of a puzzle. Steevens quotes from an old play, "Victories of Henry the Fifth": "Every day I went into the field, I would take a straw and thrust it into my nose, and make my nose bleed;" but a straw was never called Speargrass. Asparagus was called Speerage, and the young shoots might have been used for the purpose, but I have never heard of such a use; Ranunculus flammula was called Spearwort, from its lanceolate leaves, and so (according to Cockayne) was Carex acuta, still called Spiesgrass in German. Mr. Beisly suggests the Yarrow or Millfoil; and we know from several authorities (Lyte, Hollybush, Gerard, Phillip, Cole, Skinner, and Lindley) that the Yarrow was called Nosebleed; but there seems no reason to suppose that it was ever called Speargrass, or could have been called a Grass at all, though the term Grass was often used in the most general way. Dr. Prior suggests the Common Reed, which is probable. I have been rather inclined to suppose it to be one of the Horse-tails (Equiseta).[278:1] They are very sharp and spearlike, and their rough surfaces would soon draw blood; and as a decoction of Horse-tail was a remedy for stopping bleeding of the nose, I have thought it very probable that such a supposed virtue could only have arisen when remedies were sought for on the principle of "similia similibus curantur;" so that a plant, which in one form produced nose-bleeding, would, when otherwise administered, be the natural remedy. But I now think that all these suggested plants must give way in favour of the common Couch-grass (Triticum repens). In the eastern counties, this is still called Speargrass; and the sharp underground stolons might easily draw blood, when the nose is tickled with them. The old emigrants from the eastern counties took the name with them to America, but applied it to a Poa (Webster's "Dictionary," s.v. Speargrass).


[278:1] "Hippurus Anglice dicitur sharynge gyrs."—Turner's Libellus, 1538.


SQUASH, see Peas.


  Iris. Thy turfy mountains, where live nibbling sheep,
And flat meads thatch'd with Stover, them to keep.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (62).

In this passage, Stover is probably the bent or dried Grass still remaining on the land, but it is the common word for hay or straw, or for "fodder and provision for all sorts of cattle; from Estovers, law term, which is so explained in the law dictionaries. Both are derived from Estouvier in the old French, defined by Roquefort—'Convenance, nécessité, provision de tout ce qui est nécessaire.'"—Nares. The word is of frequent occurrence in the writers of the time of Shakespeare. One quotation from Tusser will be sufficient—

"Keepe dry thy straw—
"If house-roome will serve thee, lay Stover up drie,
And everie sort by it selfe for to lie.
Or stack it for litter if roome be too poore,
And thatch out the residue, noieng thy door."

November's Husbandry.


(1) Iago. Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief
Spotted with Strawberries in your wife's hand?[279:1]
Othello, act iii, sc. 3 (434).
[280](2) Ely. The Strawberry grows underneath the Nettle,
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality;
And so the prince obscured his contemplation
Under the veil of wildness.
Henry V, act i, sc. 1 (60).
(3) Gloster. My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
I saw good Strawberries in your garden there;
I do beseech you send for some of them.
  Ely. Marry, and will, my Lord, with all my heart.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Where is my lord Protector? I have sent
For these Strawberries.
King Richard III, act iii, sc. 4 (32).

The Bishop of Ely's garden in Holborn must have been one of the chief gardens of England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, for this is the third time it has been brought under our notice. It was celebrated for its Roses (see Rose); it was so celebrated for its Saffron Crocuses that part of it acquired the name which it still keeps, Saffron Hill; and now we hear of its "good Strawberries;" while the remembrance of "the ample garden," and of the handsome Lord Chancellor to whom it was given when taken from the bishopric, is still kept alive in its name of Hatton Garden. How very good our forefathers' Strawberries were, we have a strong proof in old Isaak Walton's happy words: "Indeed, my good scholar, we may say of angling as Dr. Boteler said of Strawberries: 'Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did;' and so, if I might be judge, God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling." I doubt whether, with our present experience of good Strawberries, we should join in this high praise of the Strawberries of Shakespeare's or Isaak Walton's day, for their varieties of Strawberry must have been very limited in comparison to ours. Their chief Strawberry was the Wild Strawberry brought straight from the woods, and no doubt much improved in time by cultivation. Yet we learn from Spenser and from Tusser that it was the custom to grow it just as it came from the woods.

Spenser says—

"One day as they all three together went
Into the wood to gather Strawberries."—F. Q., vi. 34;

[281] and Tusser—

"Wife, into thy garden, and set me a plot
With Strawbery rootes of the best to be got:
Such growing abroade, among Thornes in the wood,
Wel chosen and picked, prove excellent good.
*       *       *       *       *
The Gooseberry, Respis, and Roses al three
With Strawberies under them trimly agree."

September's Husbandry.

And even in the next century, Sir Hugh Plat said—

"Strawberries which grow in woods prosper best in gardens."

Garden of Eden, i, 20.[281:1]

Besides the wild one (Fragaria vesca), they had the Virginian (F. Virginiana), a native of North America, and the parent of our scarlets; but they do not seem to have had the Hautbois (F. elatior), or the Chilian, or the Carolinas, from which most of our good varieties have descended.

The Strawberry is among fruits what the Primrose and Snowdrop are among flowers, the harbinger of other good fruits to follow. It is the earliest of the summer fruits, and there is no need to dwell on its delicate, sweet-scented freshness, so acceptable to all; but it has also a charm in autumn, known, however, but to few, and sometimes said to be only discernible by few. Among "the flowers that yield sweetest smell in the air," Lord Bacon reckoned Violets, and "next to that is the Musk Rose, then the Strawberry leaves dying, with a most excellent cordial smell." In Mrs. Gaskell's pretty tale, "My Lady Ludlow," the dying Strawberry leaves act an important part. "The great hereditary faculty on which my lady piqued herself, and with reason, for I never met with any other person who possessed it, was the power she had of perceiving the delicious odour arising from a bed of Strawberry leaves in the late autumn, when the leaves were all fading and dying." The old lady quotes Lord Bacon, and then says: "'Now the Hanburys [282]can always smell the excellent cordial odour, and very delicious and refreshing it is. In the time of Queen Elizabeth the great old families of England were a distinct race, just as a cart-horse is one creature and very useful in its place, and Childers or Eclipse is another creature, though both are of the same species. So the old families have gifts and powers of a different and higher class to what the other orders have. My dear, remember that you try and smell the scent of dying Strawberry leaves in this next autumn, you have some of Ursula Hanbury's blood in you, and that gives you a chance.' 'But when October came I sniffed, and sniffed, and all to no purpose; and my lady, who had watched the little experiment rather anxiously, had to give me up as a hybrid'" ("Household Words," vol. xviii.). On this I can only say in the words of an old writer, "A rare and notable thing, if it be true, for I never proved it, and never tried it; therefore, as it proves so, praise it."[282:1] Spenser also mentions the scent, but not of the leaves or fruit, but of the flowers—

"Comming to kisse her lyps (such grace I found),
Me seem'd I smelt a garden of sweet flowres
That dainty odours from them threw around:
*       *       *       *       *
Her goodly bosome, lyke a Strawberry bed,
*       *       *       *       *
Such fragrant flowres doe give most odorous smell."[282:2]

Sonnet lxiv.

There is a considerable interest connected with the name of the plant, and much popular error. It is supposed to be called Strawberry because the berries have straw laid under them, or from an old custom of selling the wild ones strung on straws.[282:3] In Shakespeare's time straw was used for the protection of Strawberries, but not in the present fashion—


"If frost doe continue, take this for a lawe,
The Strawberies look to be covered with strawe.
Laid ouerly trim upon crotchis and bows,
And after uncovered as weather allows."

Tusser, December's Husbandry.

But the name is much more ancient than either of these customs. Strawberry in different forms, as Strea-berige, Streaberie-wisan, Streaw-berige, Streaw-berian wisan, Streberilef, Strabery, Strebere-wise, is its name in the old English Vocabularies, while it appears first in its present form in a Pictorial Vocabulary of the fifteenth century, "Hoc ffragrum, Ace a Strawbery." What the word really means is pleasantly told by a writer in Seeman's "Journal of Botany," 1869: "How well this name indicates the now prevailing practice of English gardeners laying straw under the berry in order to bring it to perfection, and prevent it from touching the earth, which without that precaution it naturally does, and to which it owes its German Erdbeere, making us almost forget that in this instance 'straw' has nothing to do with the practice alluded to, but is an obsolete past-participle of 'to strew,' in allusion to the habit of the plant." This obsolete word is preserved in our English Bibles, "gathering where thou hast not strawed," "he strawed it upon the water," "straw me with apples;" and in Shakespeare—

The bottom poison, and the top o'erstrawed
With sweets.—Venus and Adonis.

From another point of view there is almost as great a mistake in the second half of the name, for in strict botanical language the fruit of the Strawberry is not a berry; it is not even "exactly a fruit, but is merely a fleshy receptacle bearing fruit, the true fruit being the ripe carpels, which are scattered over its surface in the form of minute grains looking like seeds, for which they are usually mistaken, the seed lying inside of the shell of the carpel." It is exactly the contrary to the Raspberry, a fruit not named by Shakespeare, though common in his time under the name of Rasps. "When you gather the Raspberry you throw away the receptacle under the name of core, never suspecting that it is the very part you had just before been feasting upon in the Strawberry. In the one case, the receptacle robs the [284]carpels of all their juice in order to become gorged and bloated at their expense; in the other case, the carpels act in the same selfish manner upon the receptacles."—Lindley, Ladies' Botany.

Shakespeare's mention of the Strawberry and the Nettle (No. 2) deserves a passing note. It was the common opinion in his day that plants were affected by the neighbourhood of other plants to such an extent that they imbibed each other's virtues and faults. Thus sweet flowers were planted near fruit trees, with the idea of improving the flavour of the fruit, and evil-smelling trees, like the Elder, were carefully cleared away from fruit trees, lest they should be tainted. But the Strawberry was supposed to be an exception to the rule, and was supposed to thrive in the midst of "evil communications" without being corrupted. Preachers and emblem-writers naturally seized upon this: "In tilling our gardens we cannot but admire the fresh innocence and purity of the Strawberry, because although it creeps along the ground, and is continually crushed by serpents, lizards, and other venomous reptiles, yet it does not imbibe the slightest impression of poison, or the smallest malignant quality, a true sign that it has no affinity with poison. And so it is with human virtues," &c. "In conversation take everything peacefully, no matter what is said or done. In this manner you may remain innocent amidst the hissing of serpents, and, as a little Strawberry, you will not suffer contamination from slimy things creeping near you."—St. Francis de Sales.

I need only add that the Strawberry need not be confined to the kitchen garden, as there are some varieties which make very good carpet plants, such as the variegated Strawberry, which, however, is very capricious in its variegation; the double Strawberry, which bears pretty white button-like flowers; and the Fragaria lucida from California, which has very bright shining leaves, and was, when first introduced, supposed to be useful in crossing with other species; but I have not heard that this has been successfully effected.


[279:1] "Mrs. Somerville made for me a delicate outline sketch of what is called Othello's house in Venice, and a beautifully coloured copy of his shield surmounted by the Doge's cap, and bearing three Mulberries for device—proving the truth of the assertion that the Otelli del Moro were a noble Venetian folk, who came originally from the Morea, whose device was the Mulberry, the growth of that country, and showing how curious a jumble Shakespeare has made both of name and device in calling him a Moor, and embroidering his arms on his handkerchief as Strawberries."—F. Kemble's Records, vol. i. 145.

[281:1] It seems probable that the Romans only knew of the Wild Strawberry, of which both Virgil and Ovid speak—

"Qui legitis flores et humi nascentia fraga."—Ecl., ii.
"Contentique cibis nullo cogente creatis
Arbuteos fœtus montanaque fraga legebant."—Metam., i, 105.

[282:1] "Quæ neque confirmare argumentis neque refellere in animo est; ex ingenio suo quisque demat vel addat fidem."—Tacitus.

[282:2] The flowers of Fragaria lucida are slightly violet-scented, but I know of no Strawberry flower that can be said to "give most odorous smell."


"The wood nymphs oftentimes would busied be,
And pluck for him the blushing Strawberry,
Making from them a bracelet on a bent,
Which for a favour to this swain they sent."

Browne's Brit. Past., i, 2.



(1) Prince Henry. But, sweet Ned—to sweeten which name of Ned, I give thee this pennyworth of Sugar, clapped even now into my hand by an under-skinker.
  *       *       *       *       *
  To drive away the time till Falstaff comes, I prithee, do thou stand in some by-room, while I question my puny drawer to what end he gave me the Sugar.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Nay, but hark you, Francis; for the Sugar thou gavest me, 'twas a pennyworth, was't not?
1st Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4 (23, 31, 64).
(2) Biron. White-handed mistress, one sweet word with thee.
  Princess. Honey, and Milk, and Sugar, there is three.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (230).
(3) Quickly. And in such wine and Sugar of the best and the fairest, that would have won any woman's heart.
Merry Wives, act ii, sc. 2 (70).
(4) Bassanio. Here are sever'd lips
Parted with Sugar breath; so sweet a bar
Should sunder such sweet friends.
Merchant of Venice, act iii, sc. 2 (118).
(5) Touchstone. Honesty coupled to beauty is to have honey a sauce to Sugar.
As You Like It, act iii, sc. 2 (30).
(6) Northumberland. Your fair discourse hath been as Sugar,
Making the hard way sweet and delectable.
Richard II, act ii, sc. 3 (6).
(7) Clown. Let me see,—what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound of Sugar, five pound of Currants.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 3 (39).
(8) K. Henry. You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate: there is more eloquence in a Sugar touch of them than in the tongues of the French council.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (401).
(9) Queen Margaret. Poor painted Queen, vain flourish of my fortune!
Why strew'st thou Sugar on that bottled spider,
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?
Richard III, act i, sc. 3 (241).
[286](10) Gloucester. Your grace attended to their Sugar'd words,
But look'd not on the poison of their hearts.
Richard III, act iii, sc. 1 (13).
(11) Polonius. We are oft to blame in this—
Tis too much proved—that with devotion's visage
And pious actions we do Sugar o'er
The devil himself.
Hamlet, act iii, sc. 1 (46).
(12) Brabantio. These sentences, to Sugar, or to gall,
Being strong on both sides, are equivocal.
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (216).
(13) Timon. And never learn'd
The icy precepts of respect, but follow'd
The Sugar'd game before thee.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (257).
(14) Pucelle. By fair persuasion mix'd with Sugar'd words
We will entice the Duke of Burgundy.
1st Henry VI, act iii, sc. 3 (18).
(15) K. Henry. Hide not thy poison with such Sugar'd words.
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (45).
(16) Prince Henry. One poor pennyworth of Sugar-candy, to make thee long-winded.
1st Henry IV, act iii, sc. 3 (180).
(17)   Thy Sugar'd tongue to bitter Wormwood taste.
Lucrece (893).

As a pure vegetable product, though manufactured, Sugar cannot be passed over in an account of the plants of Shakespeare; but it will not be necessary to say much about it. Yet the history of the migrations of the Sugar-plant is sufficiently interesting to call for a short notice.

Its original home seems to have been in the East Indies, whence it was imported in very early times. It is probably the "sweet cane" of the Bible; and among classical writers it is named by Strabo, Lucan, Varro, Seneca, Dioscorides, and Pliny. The plant is said to have been introduced into Europe during the Crusades, and to have been cultivated in the Morea, Rhodes, Malta, Sicily, and Spain.[286:1] By the Spaniards [287]it was taken first to Madeira and the Cape de Verd Islands, and, very soon after the discovery of America, to the West Indies. There it soon grew rapidly, and increased enormously, and became a chief article of commerce, so that though we now almost look upon it as entirely a New World plant, it is in fact but a stranger there, that has found a most congenial home.

In 1468 the price of Sugar was sixpence a pound, equal to six shillings of our money,[287:1] but in Shakespeare's time it must have been very common,[287:2] or it could not so largely have worked its way into the common English language and proverbial expressions; and it must also have been very cheap, or it could not so entirely have superseded the use of honey, which in earlier times was the only sweetening material.

Shakespeare may have seen the living plant, for it was grown as a curiosity in his day, though Gerard could not succeed with it: "Myself did plant some shootes thereof in my garden, and some in Flanders did the like, but the coldness of our clymate made an end of myne, and I think the Flemmings will have the like profit of their labour." But he bears testimony to the large use of Sugar in his day; "of the juice of the reede is made the most pleasant and profitable sweet called Sugar, whereof is made infinite confections, sirupes, and such like, as also preserving and conserving of sundrie fruits, herbes and flowers, as roses, violets, rosemary flowers and such like."


[286:1] "It is the juice of certain canes or reedes whiche growe most plentifully in the Ilandes of Madera, Sicilia, Cyprus, Rhodus and Candy. It is made by art in boyling of the Canes, much like as they make their white salt in the Witches in Cheshire."—Coghan, Haven of Health, 1596, p. 110.

[287:1] "Babee's Book," xxx.

[287:2] It is mentioned by Chaucer—

"Gyngerbred that was so fyn.
And licorys and eek comyn
With Sugre that is trye."—Tale of Sir Thopas.

SWEET MARJORAM, see Marjoram.


(1) Desdemona (singing). The poor soul sat sighing by a Sycamore tree.
Othello, act iv, sc. 3 (41).
[288](2) Benvolio. Underneath the grove of Sycamore
That westward rooteth from the city's side,
So early walking did I see your son.
Romeo and Juliet, act i, sc. 1 (130).
(3) Boyet. Under the cool shade of a Sycamore I thought to close mine eyes some half an hour.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (89).

In its botanical relationship, the Sycamore is closely allied to the Maple, and was often called the Great Maple, and is still so called in Scotland. It is not indigenous in Great Britain, but it has long been naturalized among us, and has taken so kindly to our soil and climate that it is one of our commonest trees. It is one of the best of forest trees for resisting wind; it "scorns to be biassed in its mode of growth even by the prevailing wind, but shooting its branches with equal boldness in every direction, shows no weatherside to the storm, and may be broken, but never can be bended."-Old Mortality, c. i.

The history of the name is curious. The Sycomore, or Zicamine tree of the Bible and of Theophrastus and Dioscorides, is the Fig-mulberry, a large handsome tree indigenous in Africa and Syria, and largely planted, partly for the sake of its fruit, and especially for the delicious shade it gives. With this tree the early English writers were not acquainted, but they found the name in the Bible, and applied it to any shade-giving tree. Thus in Ælfric's Vocabulary in the tenth century it is given to the Aspen—"Sicomorus vel celsa æps." Chaucer gives the name to some hedge shrub, but he probably used it for any thick shrub, without any very special distinction—

"The hedge also that yedde in compas
And closed in all the greene herbere
With Sicamour was set and Eglateere,
Wrethen in fere so well and cunningly
That every branch and leafe grew by measure
Plaine as a bord, of an height by and by."

The Flower and the Leaf.

Our Sycamore would be very ill suited to make the sides and roof of an arbour, but before the time of Shakespeare it seems certain that the name was attached to our present tree, and it is so called by Gerard and Parkinson.

[289] The Sycamore is chiefly planted for its rapid growth rather than for its beauty. It becomes a handsome tree when fully grown, but as a young tree it is stiff and heavy, and at all times it is so infested with honeydew as to make it unfit for planting on lawns or near paths. It grows well in the north, where other trees will not well flourish, and "we frequently meet with the tree apart in the fields, or unawares in remote localities amidst the Lammermuirs and the Cheviots, where it is the surviving witness of the former existence of a hamlet there. Hence to the botanical rambler it has a more melancholy character than the Yew. It throws him back on past days, when he who planted the tree was the owner of the land and of the Hall, and whose name and race are forgotten even by tradition. . . . And there is reasonable pride in the ancestry when a grove of old gentlemanly Sycamores still shadows the Hall."—Johnston. But these old Sycamores were not planted only for beauty: they were sometimes planted for a very unpleasant use. "They were used by the most powerful barons in the West of Scotland for hanging their enemies and refractory vassals on, and for this reason were called dool or grief trees. Of these there are three yet standing, the most memorable being one near the fine old castle of Cassilis, one of the seats of the Marquis of Ailsa, on the banks of the River Doon. It was used by the family of Kennedy, who were the most powerful barons of the West of Scotland, for the purpose above mentioned."—Johns.

The wood of the Sycamore is useful for turning and a few other purposes, but is not very durable. The sap, as in all the Maples, is full of sugar, and the pollen is very curious; "it appears globular in the microscope, but if it be touched with anything moist, the globules burst open with four valves, and then they appear in the form of a cross."—Miller.

THISTLE (see also Holy Thistle).

(1) Burgundy. And nothing teems
But hateful Docks, rough Thistles, Kecksies, Burs.
Henry V, act v, sc. 2 (51).
[290](2) Bottom. Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your weapons ready in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped humble bee on the top of a Thistle; and, good mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iv, sc. 1 (10).

Thistle is the old English name for a large family of plants occurring chiefly in Europe and Asia, of which we have fourteen species in Great Britain, arranged under the botanical families of Carlina, Carduus, and Onopordon. It is the recognized symbol of untidiness and carelessness, being found not so much in barren ground as in good ground not properly cared for. So good a proof of a rich soil does the Thistle give, that a saying is attributed to a blind man who was choosing a piece of land—"Take me to a Thistle;" and Tusser says—

"Much wetnes, hog-rooting, and land out of hart makes Thistles a number foorthwith to upstart. If Thistles so growing proove lustie and long, It signifieth land to be hartie and strong."

October's Husbandry (13).

If the Thistles were not so common, and if we could get rid of the associations they suggest, there are probably few of our wild plants that we should more admire: they are stately in their foliage and habit, and some of their flowers are rich in colour, and the Thistledown, which carries the seed far and wide, is very beautiful, and was once considered useful as a sign of rain, for "if the down flyeth off Coltsfoot, Dandelyon, or Thistles when there is no winde, it is a signe of rain."—Coles.

It had still another use in rustic divination—

"Upon the various earth's embroidered gown,
There is a weed upon whose head grows down,
Sow Thistle 'tis y'clept, whose downy wreath
If anyone can blow off at a breath
We deem her for a maid."—Browne's Brit. Past., i, 4.

But it is owing to these pretty Thistledowns that the plant becomes a most undesirable neighbour, for they carry the seed everywhere, and wherever it is carried, it soon vegetates, and a fine crop of Thistles very quickly follows. In [291]this way, if left to themselves, the Thistles will soon monopolize a large extent of country, to the extinction of other plants, as they have done in parts of the American prairies, and as they did in Australia, till a most stringent Act of Parliament was passed about twenty years ago, imposing heavy penalties upon all who neglected to destroy the Thistles on their land. For these reasons we cannot admit the Thistle into the garden, at least not our native Thistles; but there are some foreigners which may well be admitted. There are the handsome yellow Thistles of the South of Europe (Scolymus), which besides their beauty have a classical interest. "Hesiod elegantly describing the time of year, says,

ἠμος δε σκολυμος τ'ανθει,

when the Scolymus flowers, i.e., in hot weather or summer ("Op. et dies," 582). This plant crowned with its golden flowers is abundant throughout Sicily."—Hogg's Classical Plants of Sicily. There is the Fish-bone Thistle (Chamæpeuce diacantha) from Syria, a very handsome plant, and, like most of the Thistles, a biennial; but if allowed to flower and go to seed, it will produce plenty of seedlings for a succession of years. And there is a grand scarlet Thistle from Mexico, the Erythrolena conspicua ("Sweet," vol. ii. p. 134), which must be almost the handsomest of the family, and which was grown in England fifty years ago, but has been long lost. There are many others that may deserve a place as ornamental plants, but they find little favour, for "they are only Thistles."

Any notice of the Thistle would be imperfect without some mention of the Scotch Thistle. It is the one point in the history of the plant that protects it from contempt. We dare not despise a plant which is the honoured badge of our neighbours and relations, the Scotch; which is ennobled as the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, that claims to be the most ancient of all our Orders of high honour; and which defies you to insult it or despise it by its proud mottoes, "Nemo me impune lacessit," "Ce que Dieu garde, est bien gardé." What is the true Scotch Thistle even the Scotch antiquarians cannot decide, and in the uncertainty it is perhaps safest to say that no Thistle in particular can claim [292]the sole honour, but that it extends to every member of the family that can be found in Scotland.[292:1]

Shakespeare has noticed the love of the bee for the Thistle, and it seems that it is for other purposes than honey gathering that he finds the Thistle useful. For "a beauty has the Thistle, when every delicate hair arrests a dew-drop on a showery April morning, and when the purple blossom of a roadside Thistle turns its face to Heaven and welcomes the wild bee, who lies close upon its flowerets on the approach of some storm cloud until its shadow be past away. For with unerring instinct the bee well knows that the darkness is but for a moment, and that the sun will shine out again ere long."—Lady Wilkinson.


[292:1] See an interesting and fanciful account of the fitness of the Thistle as the emblem of Scotland in Ruskin's "Proserpina," pp. 135-139.


(1) Ariel. Tooth'd Briers, sharp Furzes, pricking Goss, and Thorns,
Which entered their frail skins.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (180).
(2) Quince. One must come in with a bush of Thorns and a lanthorn, and say he comes in to disfigure, or to present, the person of Moonshine.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (60).
(3) Puck. For Briers and Thorns at their apparel snatch.
Ibid., act iii, sc. 2 (29).
(4) Prologue. This man with lanthorn, dog, and bush of Thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine.
Ibid., act v, sc. 1 (136).
(5) Moonshine. All that I have to say, is to tell you that the lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this Thorn-bush, my Thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.
Ibid. (261).
(6) Dumain. But, alack, my hand is sworn
Ne'er to pluck thee from thy Thorn.
Love's Labour's Lost, act iv, sc. 3 (111).
[293](7) Carlisle. The woe's to come; the children yet unborn
Shall feel this day as sharp to them as Thorn.
Richard II, act iv, sc. 1 (322).
(8) King Henry. The care you have of us,
To mow down Thorns that would annoy our foot,
Is worthy praise.
2nd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 1 (66).
(9) Gloucester. And I—like one lost in a Thorny wood,
That rends the Thorns and is rent with the Thorns,
Seeking a way, and straying from the way.
3rd Henry VI, act iii, sc. 2 (174).
(10) K. Edward. Brave followers, yonder stands the Thorny wood.
Ibid., act v, sc. 4 (67).
(11) K. Edward. What! can so young a Thorn begin to prick.
Ibid., act v, sc. 4 (13).
(12) Romeo. Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,
Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like Thorn.
Romeo and Juliet, act i, sc. 4 (25).
(13) Boult. A Thornier piece of ground.
Pericles, act iv, sc. 6 (153).
(14) Leontes. Which being spotted
Is goads, Thorns, Nettles, tails of wasps.
Winter's Tale, act i, sc. 2 (328).
(15) Florizel. But O, the Thorns we stand upon!
Ibid., act iv, sc. 4 (596).
(16) Ophelia. Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Shew me the steep and Thorny path to Heaven.
Hamlet, act i, sc. 3 (47).
(17) Ghost. Leave her to Heaven,
And to those Thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her.
Ibid., act i, sc. 5 (86).
(18) Bastard. I am amazed, methinks, and lose my way
Among the Thorns and dangers of this world.
King John, act iv, sc. 3 (40).
See also Rose, Nos. 7, 18, 22, 30, the scene in the Temple gardens; and Brier, No. 11.

Thorns and Thistles are the typical emblems of desolation and trouble, and so Shakespeare uses them; and had he spoken of Thorns in this sense only, I should have been [294]doubtful as to admitting them among his other plants, but as in some of the passages they stand for the Hawthorn tree and the Rose bush, I could not pass them by altogether. They might need no further comment beyond referring for further information about them to Hawthorn, Briar, Rose, and Bramble; but in speaking of the Bramble I mentioned the curious legend which tells why the Bramble employs itself in collecting wool from every stray sheep, and there is another very curious instance in Blount's "Antient Tenures" of a connection between Thorns and wool. The original document is given in Latin, and is dated 39th Henry III. It may be thus translated: "Peter de Baldwyn holds in Combes, in the county of Surrey, by the service to go a wool gathering for our Lady the Queen among the White Thorns, and if he refuses to gather it he shall pay into the Treasury of our Lord the King xxs. per annum." I should almost suspect a false reading, as the editor is inclined to do, but that many other services, equally curious and improbable, may easily be found.


(1) Oberon. I know a bank where the wild Thyme blows.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (249).
(2) Iago. We will plant Nettles or sow Lettuce, set Hyssop and weed up Thyme.
Othello, act i, sc. 3 (324). (See Hyssop.)
(3)   And sweet Time true.
Two Noble Kinsmen, Introd. song.

It is one of the most curious of the curiosities of English plant names that the Wild Thyme—a plant so common and so widely distributed, and that makes itself so easily known by its fine aromatic, pungent scent, that it is almost impossible to pass it by without notice—has yet no English name, and seems never to have had one. Thyme is the Anglicised form of the Greek and Latin Thymum, which name it probably got from its use for incense in sacrifices, while its other name of serpyllum pointed out its creeping habit. I do not know when the word Thyme was first [295]introduced into the English language, for it is another curious point connected with the name, that thymum does not occur in the old English vocabularies. We have in Ælfric's "Vocabulary," "Pollegia, hyl-wyrt," which may perhaps be the Thyme, though it is generally supposed to be the Pennyroyal; we have in a Vocabulary of thirteenth century, "Epitime, epithimum, fordboh," which also may be the Wild Thyme; we have in a Vocabulary of the fifteenth century, "Hoc sirpillum, Ace petergrys;" and in a Pictorial Vocabulary of the same date, "Hoc cirpillum, Ace a pellek" (which word is probably a misprint, for in the "Promptorium Parvulorum," c. 1440, it is "Peletyr, herbe, serpillum piretrum"), both of which are almost certainly the Wild Thyme; while in an Anglo-Saxon Vocabulary of the tenth or eleventh century we have "serpulum, crop-leac," i.e., the Onion, which must certainly be a mistake of the compiler. So that not even in its Latin form does the name occur, except in the "Promptorium Parvulorum," where it is "Tyme, herbe, Tima, Timum—Tyme, floure, Timus;" and in the "Catholicon Anglicum," when it is "Tyme; timum epitimum; flos ejus est." It is thus a puzzle how it can have got naturalized among us, for in Shakespeare's time it was completely naturalized.

I have already quoted Lord Bacon's account of it under Burnet, but I must quote it again here: "Those flowers which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest, but being trodden upon and crushed, are three—that is Burnet, Wild Thyme, and Water mints; therefore you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread;" and again in his pleasant description of the heath or wild garden, which he would have in every "prince-like garden," and "framed as much as may be to a natural wildness," he says, "I like also little heaps, in the nature of mole-hills (such as are in wild heaths) to be set some with Wild Thyme, some with Pinks, some with Germander." Yet the name may have been used sometimes as a general name for any wild, strong-scented plant. It can only be in this sense that Milton used it—

"Thee, shepherd! thee the woods and desert caves,
With Wild Thyme and the gadding Vine o'ergrown,
And all their echoes mourn."


[296] for certainly a desert cave is almost the last place in which we should look for the true Wild Thyme.

It is as a bee-plant especially that the Thyme has always been celebrated. Spenser speaks of it as "the bees alluring Tyme," and Ovid says of it, speaking of Chloris or Flora—

"Mella meum munus; volucres ego mella daturos
Ad violam et cytisos, et Thyma cana voco."

Fasti, v.

so that the Thyme became proverbial as the symbol of sweetness. It was the highest compliment that the shepherd could pay to his mistress—

"Nerine Galatea, Thymo mihi dulcior Hyblæ."

Virgil, Ecl. vii.

And it was because of its wild Thyme that Mount Hymettus became so celebrated for its honey—"Mella Thymi redolentia flore" (Ovid). "Thyme, for the time it lasteth, yeeldeth most and best honni, and therefore in old time was accounted chief (Thymus aptissimus ad mellificum—Pastus gratissimus apibus Thymum est—Plinii, 'His. Nat.')

'Dum thymo pascentur apes, dum rore cicadæ.'

Virgil, Georg.

Hymettus in Greece and Hybla in Sicily were so famous for Bees and Honni, because there grew such store of Tyme; propter hoc Siculum mel fert palmam, quod ibi Thymum bonum et frequens est."—Varro, The Feminine Monarchie, 1634.

The Wild Thyme can scarcely be considered a garden plant, except in its variegated and golden varieties, which are very handsome, but if it should ever come naturally in the turf, it should be welcomed and cherished for its sweet scent. The garden Thyme (T. vulgaris) must of course be in every herb garden; and there are a few species which make good plants for the rockwork, such as T. lanceolatus from Greece, a very low-growing shrub, with narrow, pointed leaves; T. carnosus, which makes a pretty little shrub, and others; while the Corsican Thyme (Mentha Requieni) is perhaps the lowest and closest-growing of all herbs, making a dark-green covering to the soil, and having a very strong scent, though more resembling Peppermint than Thyme.


TOADSTOOLS, see Mushrooms.


  Anne. Alas! I had rather be set quick i' the earth
And boul'd to death with Turnips.
Merry Wives of Windsor, act iii, sc. 4 (89).

The Turnips of Shakespeare's time were like ours, and probably as good, though their cultivation seems to have been chiefly confined to gardens. It is not very certain whether the cultivated Turnip is the wild Turnip improved in England by cultivation, or whether we are indebted for it to the Romans, and that the wild one is only the degenerate form of the cultivated plant; for though the wild Turnip is admitted into the English flora, yet its right to the admission is very doubtful. But if we did not get the vegetable from the Romans we got its name. The old name for it was nœp, nep, or neps, which was only the English form of the Latin napus, while Turnip is the corruption of terræ napus, but when the first syllable was added I do not know. There is a curious perversion in the name, for our Turnip is botanically Brassica rapa, while the Rape is Brassica napus, so that the English and Latin have changed places, the Napus becoming a Rape and the Rapa a Nep.

The present large field cultivation of Turnips is of comparatively a modern date, though the field Turnip and garden Turnip are only varieties of the same species, while there are also many varieties both of the field and garden Turnip. "One field proclaims the Scotch variety, while the bluer cast tells its hardy Swedish origin; the tankard proclaims a deep soil, and the lover of boiled mutton, rejoicing, sees the yellower tint of the Dutch or Stone Turnip, which he desires to meet with again in the market."—Phillips.

It is not very easy to speak of the moral qualities of Turnips, or to make them the symbols of much virtue, yet Gwillim did so: "He beareth sable, a Turnip proper, a [298]chief or gutte de Larmes. This is a wholesome root, and yieldeth great relief to the poor, and prospereth best in a hot sandy ground, and may signifie a person of good disposition, whose vertuous demeanour flourisheth most prosperously, even in that soil, where the searching heat of envy most aboundeth. This differeth much in nature from that whereof it is said, 'And that there should not be among you any root that bringeth forth gall and wormwood.'"—Gwillim's Heraldry, sec. iii. c. 11.


  Iris. Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas,
Of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Vetches, Oats, and Pease.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (60).

The cultivated Vetch (Vicia sativa) is probably not a British plant, and it is not very certain to what country it rightly belongs; but it was very probably introduced into England by the Romans as an excellent and easily-grown fodder-plant. There are several Vetches that are true British plants, and they are among the most beautiful ornaments of our lanes and hedges. Two especially deserve to take a place in the garden for their beauty; but they require watching, or they will scramble into parts where their presence is not desirable; these are V. cracca and V. sylvatica. V. cracca has a very bright pure blue flower, and may be allowed to scramble over low bushes; V. sylvatica is a tall climber, and may be seen in copses and high hedges climbing to the tops of the Hazels and other tall bushes. It is one of the most graceful of our British plants, and perhaps quite the most graceful of our climbers; it bears an abundance of flowers, which are pure white streaked and spotted with pale blue; it is not a very common plant, but I have often seen it in Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, and wherever it is found it is generally in abundance.

The other name for the Vetch is Tares, which is, no doubt, an old English word that has never been satisfactorily explained. The word has an interest from its biblical [299]associations, though modern scholars decide that the Zizania is wrongly translated Tares, and that it is rather a bastard Wheat or Darnel.


(1) Titania. Feed him with Apricocks and Dewberries,
With purple Grapes, green Figs, and Mulberries.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii, sc. 1 (169).
(2) Menenius. The tartness of his face sours ripe Grapes.
Coriolanus, act v, sc. 4 (18).
(3) Song. Come, thou monarch of the Vine,
Plumpy Bacchus, with pink eyne!
In thy fats our cares be drown'd,
With thy Grapes our hairs be crown'd.
Antony and Cleopatra, act ii, sc. 7 (120).
(4) Cleopatra. Now no more
The juice of Egypt's Grape shall moist this lip.
Ibid., act v, sc. 2 (284).
(5) Timon. Dry up thy Marrows, Vines, and plough-torn leas.
Timon of Athens, act iv, sc. 3 (193).
(6) Timon. Go, suck the subtle blood o' the Grape,
Till the high fever seethe your blood to froth.
Ibid. (432).
(7) Touchstone. The heathen philosopher, when he had a desire to eat a Grape, would open his lips when he put it into his mouth; meaning thereby that Grapes were made to eat and lips to open.
As You Like It, act v, sc. 1 (36).
(8) Iago. Blessed Fig's end! the wine she drinks is made of Grapes.
Othello, act ii, sc 1 (250).
(9) Lafeu. O, will you eat no Grapes, my royal fox?
Yes, but you will my noble Grapes, an if
My royal fox could reach them.
All's Well that Ends Well, act ii, sc. 1 (73).
(10) Lafeu. There's one Grape yet.
Ibid., act ii, sc. 1 (105).
(11) Pompey. 'Twas in "The Bunch of Grapes," where, indeed, you have a delight to sit.
Measure for Measure, act ii, sc. 1 (133).
[300](12) Constable. Let us quit all
And give our Vineyards to a barbarous people.
Henry V, act iii, sc. 5 (3).
(13) Burgundy. Her Vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,
Unpruned, dies.
  *       *       *       *       *
  Our Vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges,
Defective in their natures, grow to wildness.
Ibid., act v, sc. 2 (41, 54).
(14) Mortimer. And pithless arms, like to a wither'd Vine
That droops his sapless branches to the ground.
1st Henry VI, act ii, sc. 5 (11).
(15) Cranmer. In her days every man shall eat in safety,
Under his own Vine, what he plants; and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours.
Henry VIII, act v, sc. 5 (34).
(16) Cranmer. Peace, plenty, love, truth, terror,
That were the servants to this chosen infant,
Shall then be his, and like a Vine grow to him.
Ibid. (48).
(17) Lear. Now, our joy,
Although the last, not least; to whose young love
The Vines of France and milk of Burgundy
Strive to be interess'd.
King Lear, act i, sc. 1 (84).
(18) Arviragus. And let the stinking Elder, grief, untwine
His perishing root with the increasing Vine!
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (59).
(19) Adriana. Thou art an Elm, my husband, I a Vine,
Whose weakness married to thy stronger state
Makes me with thy strength to communicate.
Comedy of Errors, act ii, sc. 2 (176).
(20) Gonzalo. Bound of land, tilth, Vineyard, none.
Tempest, act ii, sc. 1 (152).
(21) Iris. Thy pole-clipt Vineyard.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (68).
(22) Ceres. Vines with clustering bunches growing,
Plants with goodly burthen bowing.
Ibid. (112).
(23) Richmond. The usurping boar,
That spoil'd your summer fields and fruitful Vines.
Richard III, act v, sc. 2 (7).
[301](24) Isabella. He hath a garden circummured with brick,
Whose western side is with a Vineyard back'd;
And to that Vineyard is a planched gate,
That makes his opening with this bigger key:
This other doth command a little door,
Which from the Vineyard to the garden leads.
Measure for Measure, act iv, sc. 1 (28).
(25)   The Vine shall grow, but we shall never see it.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act ii, sc. 2 (47).
(26)   Even as poor birds, deceived with painted Grapes,
Do forfeit by the eye and pine the maw.
Venus and Adonis (601).
(27)   For one sweet Grape, who will the Vine destroy?
Lucrece (215).

Besides these different references to the Grape Vine, some of its various products are mentioned, as Raisins, wine, aquavitæ or brandy, claret (the "thin potations" forsworn by Falstaff), sherris-sack or sherry, and malmsey. But none of these passages gives us much insight into the culture of the Vine in England, the whole history of which is curious and interesting.

The Vine is not even a native of Europe, but of the East, whence it was very early introduced into Europe; so early, indeed, that it has recently been found "fossil in a tufaceous deposit in the South of France."—Darwin. It was no doubt brought into England by the Romans. Tacitus, describing England in the first century after Christ, says expressly that the Vine did not, and, as he evidently thought, could not grow there. "Solum, præter oleam vitemque et cætera calidioribus terris oriri sueta, patiens frugum, fæcundum." Yet Bede, writing in the eighth century, describes England as "opima frugibus atque arboribus insula, et alendis apta pecoribus et jumentis Vineas etiam quibusdam in locis germinans."[301:1]

From that time till the time of Shakespeare there is abundant proof not only of the growth of the Vine as we now grow it in gardens, but in large Vineyards. In Anglo-Saxon times "a Vineyard" is not unfrequently mentioned in various documents. "Edgar gives the Vineyard situated [302]at Wecet, with the Vine-dressers."—Turner's Anglo-Saxons. "'Domesday Book' contained thirty-eight entries of valuable Vineyards; one in Essex consisted of six acres, and yielded twenty hogsheads of wine in a good year. There was another of the same extent at Ware."—H. Evershed, in Gardener's Chronicle. So in the Norman times, "Giraldus Cambrensis, speaking of the Castle of Manorbeer (his birthplace), near Pembroke, said that it had under its walls, besides a fishpond, a beautiful garden, enclosed on one side by a Vineyard and on the other by a wood, remarkable for the projection of its rocks and the height of its Hazel trees. In the twelfth century Vineyards were not uncommon in England."—Wright. Neckam, writing in that century, refers to the usefulness of the Vine when trained against the wall-front: "Pampinus latitudine suâ excipit æris insultus, cum res ita desiderat, et fenestra clementiam caloris solaris admittat."—Hudson Turner.

In the time of Shakespeare I suppose that most of the Vines in England were grown in Vineyards of more or less extent, trained to poles. These formed the "pole-clipt Vineyards" of No. 21, and are thus described by Gerard: "The Vine is held up with poles and frames of wood, and by that means it spreadeth all about and climbeth aloft; it joyneth itselfe unto trees, or whatsoever standeth next unto it"—in other words, the Vine was then chiefly grown as a standard in the open ground.

There are numberless notices in the records and chronicles of extensive vineyards in England, which it is needless to quote; but it is worth noticing that the memory of these Vineyards remains not only in the chronicles and in the treatises which teach of Vine-culture, but also in the names of streets, &c., which are occasionally met with. There is "Vineyard Holm," in the Hampshire Downs, and many other places in Hampshire; the "Vineyard Hills," at Godalming; the "Vines," at Rochester and Sevenoaks; the "Vineyards," at Bath and Ludlow; the "Vine Fields," near the Abbey at Bury St. Edmunds;[302:1] the "Vineyard [303]Walk" in Clerkenwell; and "near Basingstoke the 'Vine' or 'Vine House,' in a richly wooded spot, where, as is said, the Romans grew the first Vine in Britain, the memory of which now only survives in the Vine Hounds;"[303:1] and probably a closer search among the names of fields in other parts would bring to light many similar instances.[303:2]

Among the English Vineyards those of Gloucestershire stood pre-eminent. William of Malmesbury, writing of Gloucestershire in the twelfth century, says: "This county is planted thicker with Vineyards than any other in England, more plentiful in crops, and more pleasant in flavour. For the wines do not offend the mouth with sharpness, since they do not yield to the French in sweetness" ("De Gestis Pontif.," book iv.) Of these Vineyards the tradition still remains in the county. The Cotswold Hills are in many places curiously marked with a succession of steps or narrow terraces, called "litchets" or "lynches;" these are traditionally the sites of the old Vineyards, but the tradition cannot be fully depended on, and the formation of the terraces has been variously accounted for. By some they are supposed to be natural formations, but wherever I have seen them they appear to me too regular and artificial; nor, as far as I am aware, does the oolite, on which formation these terraces mostly occur, take the form of a succession of narrow terraces. It seems certain that the ground was artificially formed into these terraces with very little labour, and that they were utilized for some special cultivation, and as likely for Vines as for any other.[303:3] It is also certain that as the Gloucestershire Vineyards were among the most ancient and the best in England, so they held their ground till within a very recent period. I cannot find the exact date, but some time during the last century there is "satisfactory testimony of the full success of a plantation in Cromhall Park, from which ten hogsheads of wine were made in the year. The Vine plantation was discontinued or destroyed in consequence of a dispute with the Rector on a claim of the tythes."—Rudge's [304]History of Gloucestershire. This, however, is not quite the latest notice I have met with, for Phillips, writing in 1820, says: "There are several flourishing Vineyards at this time in Somersetshire; the late Sir William Basset, in that county, annually made some hogsheads of wine, which was palatable and well-bodied. The idea that we cannot make good wine from our own Grapes is erroneous; I have tasted it quite equal to the Grave wines, and in some instances, when kept for eight or ten years, it has been drunk as hock by the nicest judges."—Pomarium Britannicum. It would have been more satisfactory if Mr. Phillips had told us the exact locality of any of these "flourishing Vineyards," for I can nowhere else find any account of them, except that in a map of five miles round Bath in 1801 a Vineyard is marked at Claverton, formerly in the possession of the Bassets, and the Vines are distinctly shown.[304:1] At present the experiment is again being tried by the Marquis of Bute, at Castle Coch, near Cardiff, to establish a Vineyard, not to produce fruit for the market, but to produce wine; and as both soil and climate seem very suitable, there can be little doubt that wine will be produced of a very fair character. Whether it will be a commercial success is more doubtful, but probably that is not of much consequence.

I have dwelt at some length on the subject of the English Vineyards, because the cultivation of the Vine in Vineyards, like the cultivation of the Saffron, is a curious instance of an industry foreign to the soil introduced, and apparently for many years successful,[304:2] and then entirely, or almost, given up. The reasons for the cessation of the English Vineyards are not far to seek. Some have attributed it to a change in the seasons, and have supposed that our summers were formerly hotter than they are now, bringing as a proof the Vineyards and English-made wine of other days. This was Parkinson's idea. "Our yeares in these times do not fall [305]out to be so kindly and hot to ripen the Grape to make any good wine as formerly they have done." But this is a mere assertion, and I believe it not to be true. I have little doubt that quite as good wine could now be made in England as ever was made, and wine is still made every year in many old-fashioned farmhouses. But foreign wines can now be produced much better and much cheaper, and that has caused the cessation of the English Vineyards. It is true that French and Spanish wines were introduced into England very early, but it must have been in limited quantities, and at a high price. When the quantities increased and the price was lowered, it was well to give up the cultivation of the Vine for some more certain crop better suited to the soil and the climate, for it must always have been a capricious and uncertain crop. Hakluyt was one who was very anxious that England should supply herself with all the necessaries of life without dependence on foreign countries, yet, writing in Shakespeare's time, he says: "It is sayd that since we traded to Zante, that the plant that beareth the Coren is also broughte into this realme from thence, and although it bring not fruit to perfection, yet it may serve for pleasure, and for some use, like as our Vines doe which we cannot well spare, although the climat so colde will not permit us to have good wines of them" ("Voiages, &c.," vol. ii. p. 166). Parkinson says to the same effect: "Many have adventured to make Vineyards in England, not only in these later days but in ancient times, as may well witness the sundry places in this land, entituled by the name of Vineyards, and I have read that many monasteries in this kingdom having Vineyards had as much wine made therefrom as sufficed their convents year by year, but long since they have been destroyed, and the knowledge how to order a Vineyard is also utterly perished with them. For although divers both nobles and gentlemen have in these later times endeavoured to plant and make Vineyards, and to that purpose have caused Frenchmen, being skilfull in keeping and dressing Vines, to be brought over to perform it, yet either their skill faileth them or their Vines were not good, or (the most likely) the soil was not fitting, for they could never make any wine that was worth the drinking, being so small and heartlesse, that they soon gave over their practise."

[306] There is no need to say anything of the modern culture of the Vine, or its many excellent varieties. Even in Virgil's time the varieties cultivated were so many that he said—

"Sed neque quam multæ species, nec nomina quæ sint
Est numerus; neque enim numero comprendere refert;
Quem qui scire velit, Lybici velit æquoris idem
Discere quam multæ Zephyro turbentur arenæ;
Aut ubi navigiis violentior incidit Eurus
Nosse quot Ionii veniant ad littora fluctus."

Georgica, ii, 103.

And now the number must far exceed those of Virgil's time. "The cultivated varieties are extremely numerous; Count Odart says that he will not deny that there may exist throughout the world 700 or 800, perhaps even 1,000 varieties; but not a third of these have any value."—Darwin. These are the Grapes that are grown in our hothouses; some also of a fine quality are produced in favourable years out-of-doors. There are also a few which are grown as ornamental shrubs. The Parsley-leaved Vine (Vitis laciniosa) is one that has been grown in England, certainly since the time of Shakespeare, for its pretty foliage, its fruit being small and few; but it makes a pretty covering to a wall or trellis. The small Variegated Vine (Vitis or Cissus heterophyllus variegatus) is another very pretty Vine, forming a small bush that may be either trained to a wall or grown as a low rockwork bush; it bears a few Grapes of no value, and is perfectly hardy. Besides these there are several North American species, which have handsome foliage, and are very hardy, of which the Vitis riparia or Vigne des Battures is a desirable tree, as "the flowers have an exquisitely fine smell, somewhat resembling that of Mignonnette."—Don. I mention this particularly, because in all the old authors great stress is laid on the sweetness of the Vine in all its parts, a point of excellence in it which is now generally overlooked. Lord Bacon reckons "Vine flowers" among the "things of beauty in season" in May and June, and reckons among the most sweet-scented flowers, next to Musk Roses and Strawberry leaves dying, "the flower of the Vines; it is a little dust, like the dust of a bent, which [307]grows among the duster in the first coming forth." And Chaucer says: "Scorners faren like the foul toode, that may noughte endure the soote smel of the Vine roote when it flourisheth."—The Persones Tale.

Nor must we dismiss the Vine without a few words respecting its sacred associations, for it is very much owing to these associations that it has been so endeared to our forefathers and ourselves. Having its native home in the East, it enters largely into the history and imagery of the Bible. There is no plant so often mentioned in the Bible, and always with honour, till the honour culminates in the great similitude, in which our Lord chose the Vine as the one only plant to which He condescended to compare Himself—"I am the true Vine!" No wonder that a plant so honoured should ever have been the symbol of joy and plenty, of national peace and domestic happiness.


[301:1] According to Vopiscus, England is indebted to the Emperor Probus (a.d. 276-282) for the Vine: "Gallis omnibus et Britannis et Hispanis hinc permisit ut vites haberent, et Vinum conficerent."

[302:1] At Stonehouse "there are two arpens of Vineyard."—Domesday Book, quoted by Rudder. Also "the Vineyard" was the residence of the Abbots of Gloucester. It was at St. Mary de Lode near Gloucester, and "the Vineyard and Park were given to the Bishopric of Gloucester at its foundation and again confirmed 6th Edward VI."—Rudder.

[303:1] "Edinburgh Review," April, 1860.

[303:2] See Preface to "Palladius on Husbandrie," p. viii. (Early English Text Society), for a further account of old English Vineyards.

[303:3] For a very interesting account of the formation of lynches, and their connection with the ancient communal cultivation of the soil see Seebohm's "English Village Community," p. 5.

[304:1] On this Vineyard Mr. Skrine, the present owner of Claverton, has kindly informed me that it was sold in 1701 by Mr. Richard Holder for £21,367, of which £28 was for "four hogsheads of wine of the Vineyards of Claverton."

[304:2] Andrew Boorde was evidently a lover of good wine, and his account is: "This I do say that all the kingdoms of the world have not so many sundry kindes of wine as we in England, and yet there is nothing to make of."—Breviary of Health, 1598.


(1) Queen. The Violets, Cowslips, and the Primroses,
Bear to my closet.
Cymbeline, act i, sc. 5 (83).
(2) Angelo. It is I,
That, lying by the Violet in the sun,
Do as the carrion does, not as the flower,
Corrupt with virtuous season.
Measure for Measure, act ii, sc. 2 (165).
(3) Oberon. Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act ii, sc. 1 (250).
(4) Salisbury. To gild refined gold, to paint the Lily,
To throw a perfume on the Violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of Heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
King John, act iv, sc. 2 (11).
(5) K. Henry. I think the king is but a man, as I am; the
Violet smells to him as it doth to me.
Henry V, act iv, sc. 1 (105).
[308](6) Laertes. A Violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent; sweet, not lasting.
The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
No more.
Hamlet, act i, sc. 3 (7).
(7) Ophelia. I would give you some Violets, but they withered all when my father died.
Ibid., act iv, sc. 5 (184).
(8) Laertes. Lay her i' the earth,
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May Violets spring!
Ibid., act v, sc. 1 (261).
(9) Belarius. They are as gentle
As zephyrs blowing below the Violet,
Not wagging his sweet head.
Cymbeline, act iv, sc. 2 (171).
(10) Duke. That strain again! It had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of Violets,
Stealing and giving odour!
Twelfth Night, act i, sc. 1 (4).
(11) Song of Spring. When Daisies pied, and Violets blue, &c.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (904). (See Cuckoo-buds.)
(12) Perdita. Violets dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes
Or Cytherea's breath.
Winter's Tale, act iv, sc. 4 (120).
(13) Duchess. Welcome, my son; Who are the Violets now,
That strew the green lap of the new-come spring?
Richard II, act v, sc. 2 (46).
(14) Marina. The yellows, blues,
The purple Violets and Marigolds,
Shall as a carpet hang upon thy grave
While summer-days do last.
Pericles, act iv, sc. 1 (16).
(15)   These blue-veined Violets whereon we lean
Never can blab, nor know not what we mean.
Venus and Adonis (125).
(16)   Who when he lived, his breath and beauty set
Gloss on the Rose, smell to the Violet.
Ibid. (936).
(17)   When I behold the Violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white,
  *       *       *       *       *
[309]  Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow.
Sonnet xii.
(18)   The forward Violet thus did I chide:
"Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly died."
Ibid. xcix.

There are about a hundred different species of Violets, of which there are five species in England, and a few sub-species. One of these is the Viola tricolor, from which is descended the Pansy, or Love-in-Idleness (see Pansy). But in all the passages in which Shakespeare names the Violet, he alludes to the purple sweet-scented Violet, of which he was evidently very fond, and which is said to be very abundant in the neighbourhood of Stratford-on-Avon. For all the eighteen passages tell of some point of beauty or sweetness that attracted him. And so it is with all the poets from Chaucer downwards—the Violet is noticed by all, and by all with affectation. I need only mention two of the greatest. Milton gave the Violet a chief place in the beauties of the "Blissful Bower" of our first parents in Paradise—

"Each beauteous flower,
Iris all hues, Roses, and Jessamin
Rear'd high their flourish't heads between, and wrought
Mosaic; underfoot the Violet,
Crocus and Hyacinth with rich inlay
Broidered the ground, more coloured than with stone
Of costliest emblem;"

Paradise Lost, book iv.

and Sir Walter Scott crowns it as the queen of wild flowers—

"The Violet in her greenwood bower,
Where Birchen boughs with Hazels mingle,
May boast itself the fairest flower
In glen, in copse, or forest dingle."

Yet favourite though it ever has been, it has no English name. Violet is the diminutive form of the Latin Viola, [310]which again is the Latin form of the Greek ἴον. In the old Vocabularies Viola frequently occurs, and with the following various translations:—"Ban-wyrt," i.e., Bone-wort (eleventh century Vocabulary); "Clœfre," i.e., Clover (eleventh century Vocabulary); "Violé, Appel-leaf" (thirteenth century Vocabulary);[310:1] "Wyolet" (fourteenth century Vocabulary); "Vyolytte" (fifteenth century Nominale); "Violetta, Ace, a Violet" (fifteenth century Pictorial Vocabulary); and "Viola Cleafre, Ban-vyrt" (Durham Glossary). It is also mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Herbarium of Apuleius in the tenth century as "the Herb Viola purpurea; (1) for new wounds and eke for old; (2) for hardness of the maw" (Cockayne's translation). In this last example it is most probable that our sweet-scented Violet is the plant meant, but in some of the other cases it is quite certain that some other plant is meant, and perhaps in all. For Violet was a name given very loosely to many plants, so that Laurembergius says: "Vox Violæ distinctissimis floribus communis est. Videntur mihi antiqui suaveolentes quosque flores generatim Violas appellasse, cujuscunque etiam forent generis quasi vi oleant."—Apparat. Plant., 1632. This confusion seems to have arisen in a very simple way. Theophrastus described the Leucojum, which was either the Snowdrop or the spring Snowflake, as the earliest-flowering plant; Pliny literally translated Leucojum into Alba Viola. All the earlier writers on natural history were in the habit of taking Pliny for their guide, and so they translated his Viola by any early-flowering plant that most took their fancy. Even as late as 1693, Samuel Gilbert, in "The Florists' Vade Mecum," under the head of Violets, only describes "the lesser early bulbous Violet, a common flower yet not to be wasted, because when none other appears that does, though in the snow, whence called Snowflower or Snowdrop;" and I think that even later instances may be found.

When I say that there is no genuine English name for the Violet, I ought, perhaps, to mention that one name has been attributed to it, but I do not think that it is more than a clever guess. "The commentators on Shakespeare have [311]been much puzzled by the epithet 'happy lowlie down,' applied to the man of humble station in "Henry IV.," and have proposed to read 'lowly clown,' or to divide the phrase into 'low lie down,' but the following lines from Browne clearly prove 'lowly down' to be the correct term, for he uses it in precisely the same sense—

'The humble Violet that lowly down
Salutes the gay nymphs as they trimly pass.'

Poet's Pleasaunce."

This may prove that Browne called the Violet a Lowly-down, but it certainly does not prove that name to have been a common name for the Violet. It was, however, the character of lowliness combined with sweetness that gave the charm to the Violet in the eyes of the emblem writers: it was for them the readiest symbol of the meekness of humility. "Humilitas dat gratiam" is the motto that Camerarius places over a clump of Violets. "A true widow is, in the church, as a little March Violet shedding around an exquisite perfume by the fragrance of her devotion, and always hidden under the ample leaves of her lowliness, and by her subdued colouring showing the spirit of her mortification, she seeks untrodden and solitary places," &c.—St. Francis de Sales. And the poets could nowhere find a fitter similitude for a modest maiden than

"A Violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye."

Violets, like Primroses, must always have had their joyful associations as coming to tell that the winter is passing away and brighter days are near, for they are among

"The first to rise
And smile beneath spring's wakening skies,
The courier of a band
Of coming flowers."

Yet it is curious to note how, like Primroses, they have been ever associated with death, especially with the death of the young. I suppose these ideas must have arisen from a sort of pity for flowers that were only allowed to see the opening year, and were cut off before the full beauty of [312]summer had come. This was prettily expressed by H. Vaughan, the Silurist:

"So violets, so doth the primrose fall
At once the spring's pride and its funeral,
Such early sweets get off in their still prime,
And stay not here to wear the foil of time;
While coarser flowers, which none would miss, if past,
To scorching summers and cold winters last."

Daphnis, 1678.

It was from this association that they were looked on as apt emblems of those who enjoyed the bright springtide of life and no more. This feeling was constantly expressed, and from very ancient times. We find it in some pretty lines by Prudentius—

"Nos tecta fovebimus ossa
Violis et fronde frequente,
Titulumque et frigida saxa
Liquido spargemus odore."

Shakespeare expresses the same feeling in the collection of "purple Violets and Marigolds" which Marina carries to hang "as a carpet on the grave" (No. 14), and again in Laertes' wish that Violets may spring from the grave of Ophelia (No. 8), on which Steevens very aptly quotes from Persius Satires—

"e tumulo fortunataque favillâ.
Nascentur Violæ."

In the same spirit Milton, gathering for the grave of Lycidas—

"Every flower that sad embroidery wears,"

gathers among others "the glowing Violet;" and the same thought is repeated by many other writers.

There is a remarkable botanical curiosity in the structure of the Violet which is worth notice: it produces flowers both in spring and autumn, but the flowers are very different. In spring they are fully formed and sweet-scented, but they are mostly barren and produce no seed, while in autumn they are [313]very small, they have no petals and, I believe, no scent, but they produce abundance of seed.[313:1]

I need say nothing to recommend the Violet in all its varieties as a garden plant. As a useful medicinal plant it was formerly in high repute—

"Vyolet an erbe cowth
Is knowyn in ilke manys mowthe,
As bokys seyn in here language,
It is good to don in potage,
In playstrys to wondrys it is comfortyf,
Wh oyer erbys sanatyf:"

Stockholm MS.

and it still holds a place in the Pharmacopœia, while the chemist finds the pretty flowers one of the most delicate tests for detecting the presence of acids and alkalies; but as to the many other virtues of the Violet I cannot do better than quote Gerard's pleasant and quaint words: "The Blacke or Purple Violets, or March Violets of the garden, have a great prerogative above others, not only because the minde conceiveth a certain pleasure and recreation by smelling and handling of those most odoriferous flowres, but also for that very many by these Violets receive ornament and comely grace; for there be made of them garlands for the head, nosegaies, and poesies, which are delightfull to looke on and pleasant to smell to, speaking nothing of their appropriate vertues; yea, gardens themselves receive by these the greatest ornament of all chiefest beautie and most gallant grace, and the recreation of the minde which is taken thereby cannot but be very good and honest; for they admonish and stir up a man to that which is comely and honest, for flowres through their beautie, variety of colour, and exquisite forme, do bring to a liberall and greatte many minde the remembrance of honestie, comelinesse, and all kindes of vertues. For it would be an unseemely and filthie thing (as a certain wise man saith) for him that doth looke upon and handle faire and beautifull things, and who frequenteth and is conversant in faire and beautifull places, to have his minde not faire but filthie and deformed." With these brave words of [314]the old gardener I might well close my account of this favourite flower, but I must add George Herbert's lines penned in the same spirit—

"Farewell, dear flowers, sweetly your time ye spent,
Fit, while ye lived, for smell or ornament,
And after death for cures;
I follow straight without complaint or grief,
Since if my scent be good, I care not if
It be as short as yours."

Poems on Life.


[310:1] Appel-leaf is given as the English name for Viola in two other MS. Glossaries quoted by Cockayne, vol. iii. p. 312.

[313:1] This peculiarity is not confined to the Violet. It is found in some species of Oxalis, Impatiens, Campanula, Eranthemum, Amphicarpea, Leeisia, &c. Such plants are technically called Cleistogamous, and are all self-fertilizing.


(1) Petruchio. Why, 'tis a cockle or a Walnut-shell,
A knack, a toy, a trick, a baby's cap.
Taming of the Shrew, act iv, sc. 3 (66).
(2) Ford. Let them say of me, "As jealous as Ford that searched a hollow Walnut for his wife's leman."
Merry Wives of Windsor, act iv, sc. 2 (170).

The Walnut is a native of Persia and China, and its foreign origin is told in all its names. The Greeks called it Persicon, i.e., the Persian tree, and Basilikon, i.e., the Royal tree; the Latins gave it a still higher rank, naming it Juglans, i.e., Jove's Nut. "Hæc glans, optima et maxima, ab Jove et glande juglans appellata est."—Varro. The English names tell the same story. It was first simply called Nut, as the Nut par excellence. "Juglantis vel nux, knutu."—Ælfric's Vocabulary. But in the fourteenth century it had obtained the name of "Ban-nut," from its hardness. So it is named in a metrical Vocabulary of the fourteenth century—

Corulus nux
Hasyl Note

and this name it still holds in the West of England. But at the same time it had also acquired the name of Walnut. "Hec avelana, Ace Walnot-tree" (Vocabulary fourteenth century). "Hec avelana, a Walnutte and the Nutte" (Nominate fifteenth century). This name is commonly supposed to have reference to the hard shell, but it only [315]means that the nut is of foreign origin. "Wal" is another form of Walshe or Welch, and so Lyte says that the tree is called "in English the Walnut and Walshe Nut tree." "The word Welsh (wilisc, woelisc) meant simply a foreigner, one who was not of Teutonic race, and was (by the Saxons) applied especially to nations using the Latin language. In the Middle Ages the French language, and in fact all those derived from Latin, and called on that account linguæ Romanæ, were called in German Welsch. France was called by the mediæval German writers daz Welsche lant, and when they wished to express 'in the whole world,' they said, in allen Welschen und in Tiutschen richen, 'in all Welsh and Teutonic kingdoms.' In modern German the name Wälsch is used more especially for Italian."—Wright's Celt, Roman, and Saxon.[315:1] This will at once explain that Walnut simply means the foreign or non-English Nut.

It must have been a well-established and common tree in Shakespeare's time, for all the writers of his day speak of it as a high and large tree, and I should think it very likely that Walnut trees were even more extensively planted in his day than in our own. There are many noble specimens to be seen in different parts of England, especially in the chalk districts, for "it delights," says Evelyn, "in a dry, sound, rich land, especially if it incline to a feeding chalk or marl; and where it may be protected from the cold (though it affects cold rather than extreme heat), as in great pits, valleys, and highway sides; also in stony ground, if loamy, and on hills, especially chalky; likewise in cornfields." The grand specimens that may be seen in the sheltered villages lying under the chalk downs of Wiltshire and Berkshire bear witness to the truth of Evelyn's remarks. But the finest English specimens can bear no comparison with the size of the Walnut trees in warmer countries, and especially where they are indigenous. There they "sometimes attain prodigious size and great age. An Italian architect mentions having seen at St. Nicholas, in Lorraine, a single plank of the wood of the Walnut, 25ft. wide, upon which the Emperor Frederick III. had given a sumptuous banquet. In the Baidar Valley, near Balaclava, in the Crimea, stands a Walnut tree at least 1000 years old. It yields annually from [316]80,000 to 100,000 Nuts, and belongs to five Tartar families, who share its produce equally."—Gardener's Chronicle.

The economic uses of the Walnut are now chiefly confined to the timber, which is highly prized both for furniture and gun-stocks, and to the production of oil, which is not much used in Europe, but is highly valued in the East. "It dries much more slowly than any other distilled oil, and hence its great value, as it allows the artist as much time as he requires in order to blend his colours and finish his work. In conjunction with amber varnish it forms a vehicle which leaves nothing to be desired, and which doubtless was the vehicle of Van Eyck, and in many instances of the Venetian masters, and of Correggio."—Arts of the Middle Ages, preface. In mediæval times a high medicinal value was attached to the fruit, for the celebrated antidote against poison which was so firmly believed in, and which was attributed to Mithridates, King of Pontus, was chiefly composed of Walnuts. "Two Nuttes (he is speaking of Walnuts) and two Figges, and twenty Rewe leaves, stamped together with a little salt, and eaten fasting, doth defende a man from poison and pestilence that day."—Bullein, Governmente of Health, 1558.

The Walnut holds an honoured place in heraldry. Two large Walnut trees overshadow the tomb of the poet Waller in Beaconsfield churchyard, and "these are connected with a curious piece of family history. The tree was chosen as the Waller crest after Agincourt, where the head of the family took the Duke of Orleans prisoner, and took afterwards as his crest the arms of Orleans hanging by a label in a Walnut tree with this motto for the device: Hæc fructus virtutis."—Gardener's Chronicle, Aug., 1878.

Walnuts are still very popular, but not as poison antidotes; their popularity now rests on their use as pickles, their excellence as autumn and winter dessert fruits, and with pseudo-gipsies for the rich olive hue that the juice will give to the skin. These uses, together with the beauty in the landscape that is given by an old Walnut tree, will always secure for it a place among English trees; yet there can be little doubt that the Walnut is a bad neighbour to other crops, and for that reason its numbers in England have been much diminished. Phillips said there was a decided antipathy between Apples and Walnuts, and spoke of the Apple tree as—


"Uneasy, seated by funereal Yew
Or Walnut (whose malignant touch impairs
All generous fruits), or near the bitter dews
Of Cherries."

And in this he was probably right, though the mischief caused to the Apple tree more probably arises from the dense shade thrown by the Walnut tree than by any malarious exhalation emitted from it.


[315:1] See Earle's "Philology of the English Tongue," p. 23.

WARDEN, see Pears.


(1) Iris. Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Vetches, Oats, and Pease.
Tempest, act iv, sc. 1 (60).
(2) Helena. More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When Wheat is green, when Hawthorn-buds appear.
Midsummer Night's Dream, act i, sc. 1 (184).
(3) Bassanio. His reasons are as two grains of Wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.
Merchant of Venice, act i, sc. 1 (114).
(4) Hamlet. As peace should still her Wheaten garland wear.
Hamlet, act v, sc. 2 (41).
(5) Pompey. To send measures of Wheat to Rome.
Antony and Cleopatra, act ii, sc. 6 (36).
(6) Edgar. This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. . . . He mildews the white Wheat, and hurts the poor creatures of earth.
King Lear, act iii, sc. 4 (120).
(7) Pandarus. He that will have a cake out of the Wheat, must needs tarry the grinding.
Troilus and Cressida, act i, sc. 1 (15).
[318](8) Davy. And again, sir, shall we sow the headland with Wheat?
  Shallow. With red Wheat, Davy.
2nd Henry IV, act v, sc. 1 (15).
(9) Theseus. Your Wheaten wreathe
Was then nor threashed nor blasted.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act i, sc. 1 (68).

I might perhaps content myself with marking these passages only, and dismiss Shakespeare's Wheat without further comment, for the Wheat of his day was identical with our own; but there are a few points in connection with English Wheat which may be interesting. Wheat is not an English plant, nor is it a European plant; its original home is in Northern Asia, whence it has spread into all civilized countries.[318:1] For the cultivation of Wheat is one of the first signs of civilized life; it marks the end of nomadic life, and implies more or less a settled habitation. When it reached England, and to what country we are indebted for it, we do not know; but we know that while we are indebted to the Romans for so many of our useful trees, and fruits, and vegetables, we are not indebted to them for the introduction of Wheat. This we might be almost sure of from the very name, which has no connection with the Latin names, triticum or frumentum, but is a pure old English word, signifying originally white, and so distinguishing it as the white grain in opposition to the darker grains of Oats and Rye. But besides the etymological evidence, we have good historical evidence that Cæsar found Wheat growing in England when he first landed on the shores of Kent. He daily victualled his camp with British Wheat ("frumentum ex agris quotidie in castra conferebat"); and it was while his soldiers were reaping the Wheat in the Kentish fields that they were surrounded and successfully attacked by the British. He tells us, however, that the cultivation of Wheat was chiefly confined to Kent, and was not much known inland: "interiores plerique frumenta non serunt, sed lacte et carne vivunt."—De Bello Gallico, v, 14. Roman Wheat has frequently been [319]found in graves, and strange stories have been told of the plants that have been raised from these old seeds; but a more scientific inquiry has proved that there have been mistakes or deceits, more or less intentional, for "Wheat is said to keep for seven years at the longest. The statements as to mummy Wheat are wholly devoid of authenticity, as are those of the Raspberry seeds taken from a Roman tomb."—Hooker, "Botany" in Science Primers. The oft-repeated stories about the vitality of mummy Wheat were effectually disposed of when it was discovered that much of the so-called Wheat was South American Maize.


[318:1] Yet Homer considered it to be indigenous in Sicily—Odyss: ix, 109—and Cicero, perhaps on the authority of Homer, says the same: "Insula Cereris . . . ubi primum fruges inventæ esse dicuntur."—In Verrem, v, 38.


(1) Viola. Make me a Willow cabin at your gate.
Twelfth Night, act i, sc. 5 (287).
(2) Benedick. Come, will you go with me?
  Claudio. Whither?
  Benedick. Even to the next Willow, about your own business.
Much Ado About Nothing, act ii, sc. 1 (192).
  Benedick. I offered him my company to a Willow tree, either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be whipped.
Ibid. (223).
(3) Nathaniel. These thoughts to me were Oaks, to thee like Osiers bow'd.
Love's Labour's Lost, act iv, sc. 2 (112).
(4) Lorenzo. In such a night
Stood Dido, with a Willow in her hand,
Upon the wild sea-banks.
Merchant of Venice, act v, sc. 1 (9).
(5) Bona. Tell him, in hope he'll prove a widower shortly,
I'll wear the Willow garland for his sake.
3d Henry VI, act iii, sc. 3 (227).
  Post. [The same words repeated.]
Ibid., act iv, sc. 1 (99).
(6) Queen. There is a Willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke.
Hamlet, act iv, sc. 7 (167).
[320](7) Desdemona (singing)— The poor soul sat sighing by a Sycamore tree.
Sing all a green Willow;
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
Sing Willow, Willow, Willow.
The fresh streams ran by her, and murmur'd her moans;
Sing Willow, Willow, Willow.
Her salt tears fell from her and soften'd the stones,
Sing Willow, Willow, Willow.
Sing all a green Willow must be my garland.
Othello, act iv, sc. 3 (41).
(8) Emilia. I will play the swan,
And die in music. [Singing] Willow, Willow, Willow.
Ibid., act v, sc. 2 (247).
(9) Wooer. Then she sang
Nothing but Willow, Willow, Willow.
Two Noble Kinsmen, act iv, sc. 1 (100).
(10) Friar. I must up-fill this Willow cage of ours
With baleful Weeds and precious juiced Flowers.
Romeo and Juliet, act ii, sc. 3 (7).
(11) Celia. West of this place, down in the neighbour bottom;
The rank of Osiers by the murmuring stream
Left on your right hand, brings you to the place.
As You Like It, act iv, sc. 3 (79).
(12)   When Cytherea all in love forlorn
A longing tarriance for Adonis made
Under an Osier growing by a brook.
Passionate Pilgrim vi.
(13)   Though to myself forsworn, to thee I'll constant prove; Those thoughts, to me like Oaks, to thee like Osiers bow'd.
Ibid. v.

See also Palm Tree, No. 1, p. 192.

Willow is an old English word, but the more common and perhaps the older name for the Willow is Withy, a name which is still in constant use, but more generally applied to the twigs when cut for basket-making than to the living tree. "Withe" is found in the oldest vocabularies, but we do not find "Willow" till we come to the vocabularies of the fifteenth century, when it occurs as "Hæc Salex, Ae Wyllo-tre;" "Hæc Salix-icis, a Welogh;" "Salix, Welig." [321]Both the names probably referred to the pliability of the tree, and there was another name for it, the Sallow, which was either a corruption of the Latin Salix, or was derived from a common root. It was also called Osier.

The Willow is a native of Britain. It belongs to a large family (Salix), numbering 160 species, of which we have seventeen distinct species in Great Britain, besides many sub-species and varieties. So common a plant, with the peculiar pliability of the shoots that distinguishes all the family, was sure to be made much use of. Its more common uses were for basket-making, for coracles, and huts, or "Willow-cabins" (No. 1), but it had other uses in the elegancies and even in the romance of life. The flowers of the early Willow (S. caprea) did duty for and were called Palms on Palm Sunday (see Palm), and not only the flowers but the branches also seem to have been used in decoration, a use which is now extinct. "The Willow is called Salix, and hath his name à saliendo, for that it quicklie groweth up, and soon becommeth a tree. Heerewith do they in some countries trim up their parlours and dining roomes in sommer, and sticke fresh greene leaves thereof about their beds for coolness."—Newton's Herball for the Bible.[321:1]

But if we only look at the poetry of the time of Shakespeare, and much of the poetry before and after him, we should almost conclude that the sole use of the Willow was to weave garlands for jilted lovers, male and female. It was probably with reference to this that Shakespeare represented poor mad Ophelia hanging her flowers on the "Willow tree aslant the brook" (No. 6), and it is more pointedly referred to in Nos. 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9. The feeling was expressed in a melancholy ditty, which must have been very popular in the sixteenth century, of which Desdemona says a few of the first verses (No. 7), and which concludes thus—

"Come all you forsaken and sit down by me,
He that plaineth of his false love, mine's falser than she;
The Willow wreath weare I, since my love did fleet,
A garland for lovers forsaken most meet."

[322] The ballad is entitled "The Complaint of a Lover Forsaken of His Love—To a Pleasant New Tune," and is printed in the "Roxburghe Ballads." This curious connection of the Willow with forsaken or disappointed lovers stood its ground for a long time. Spenser spoke of the "Willow worne of forlorne paramoures." Drayton says that—

"In love the sad forsaken wight
The Willow garland weareth"—

Muse's Elysium.

and though we have long given up the custom of wearing garlands of any sort, yet many of us can recollect one of the most popular street songs, that was heard everywhere, and at last passed into a proverb, and which began—

"All round my hat I vears a green Willow
In token," &c.

It has been suggested by many that this melancholy association with the Willow arose from its Biblical associations; and this may be so, though all the references to the Willow that occur in the Bible are, with one notable exception, connected with joyfulness and fertility. The one exception is the plaintive wail in the 137th Psalm—

"By the streams of Babel, there we sat down,
And we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the Willows among the rivers we hung our harps."

And this one record has been sufficient to alter the emblematic character of the Willow—"this one incident has made the Willow an emblem of the deepest of sorrows, namely, sorrow for sin found out, and visited with its due punishment. From that time the Willow appears never again to have been associated with feelings of gladness. Even among heathen nations, for what reason we know not, it was a tree of evil omen, and was employed to make the torches carried at funerals. Our own poets made the Willow the symbol of despairing woe."—Johns. This is the more remarkable because the tree referred to in the Psalms, the Weeping Willow (Salix Babylonica), which by its habit of growth is to us so suggestive of crushing sorrow, was quite unknown in Europe till a very recent period. "It [323]grows abundantly on the banks of the Euphrates, and other parts of Asia, as in Palestine, and also in North Africa;" but it is said to have been introduced into England during the last century, and then in a curious way. "Many years ago, the well-known poet, Alexander Pope, who resided at Twickenham, received a basket of Figs as a present from Turkey. The basket was made of the supple branches of the Weeping Willow, the very same species under which the captive Jews sat when they wept by the waters of Babylon. The poet valued highly the small and tender twigs associated with so much that was interesting, and he untwisted the basket, and planted one of the branches in the ground. It had some tiny buds upon it, and he hoped he might be able to rear it, as none of this species of Willow was known in England. Happily the Willow is very quick to take root and grow. The little branch soon became a tree, and drooped gracefully over the river, in the same manner that its race had done over the waters of Babylon. From that one branch all the Weeping Willows in England are descended."—Kirby's Trees.[323:1]

There is probably no tree that contributes so largely to the conveniences of English life as the Willow. Putting aside its uses in the manufacture of gunpowder and cricket bats, we may safely say that the most scantily-furnished house can boast of some article of Willow manufacture in the shape of baskets. British basket-making is, as far as we know, the oldest national manufacture; it is the manufacture in connection with which we have the earliest record of the value placed on British work. British baskets were exported to Rome, and it would almost seem as if baskets were unknown in Rome until they were introduced from Britain, for with the article of import came the name also, and the British "basket" became the Latin "bascauda." We have curious evidence of the high value attached to these baskets. Juvenal describes Catullus in fear of shipwreck throwing overboard his most precious treasures: "precipitare volens etiam pulcherrima," and among these "pulcherrima" he mentions "bascaudas." Martial bears a still higher testimony to the [324]value set on "British baskets," reckoning them among the many rich gifts distributed at the Saturnalia—

"Barbara de pictis veni bascauda Britannis
Sed me jam vult dicere Roma suam."—Book xiv, 99.

Many of the Willows make handsome shrubs for the garden, for besides those that grow into large trees, there are many that are low shrubs, and some so low as to be fairly called carpet plants. Salix Reginæ is one of the most silvery shrubs we have, with very narrow leaves; S. lanata is almost as silvery, but with larger and woolly leaves, and makes a very pretty object when grown on rockwork near water; S. rosmarinifolia is another desirable shrub; and among the lower-growing species, the following will grow well on rockwork, and completely clothe the surface: S. alpina, S. Grahami, S. retusa, S. serpyllifolia, and S. reticulata. They are all easily cultivated and are quite hardy.


[321:1] In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Willow does not appear to have had any value for its medical uses. In the present day salicine and salicylic acid are produced from the bark, and have a high reputation as antiseptics and in rheumatic cases.

[323:1] This is the traditional history of the introduction of the Weeping Willow into England, but it is very doubtful.

WOODBINE, see Honeysuckle.


(1) Rosaline. To weed this Wormwood from your fruitful brain.
Love's Labour's Lost, act v, sc. 2 (857).
(2) Nurse. For I had then laid Wormwood to my dug.
  *       *       *       *       *
  When it did taste the Wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug, and felt it bitter, pretty fool.
Romeo and Juliet, act i, sc. 3 (26).
(3) Hamlet (aside). Wormwood, Wormwood.
Hamlet, act iii, sc. 2 (191).
(4)   Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,
Thy private feasting to a public fast,
Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name,
Thy sugar'd tongue to bitter Wormwood taste.
Lucrece (890).

See also Dian's Bud.

[325] Wormwood is the product of many species of Artemisia, a family consisting of 180 species, of which we have four in England. The whole family is remarkable for the extreme bitterness of all parts of the plant, so that "as bitter as Wormwood" is one of the oldest proverbs. The plant was named Artemisia from Artemis, the Greek name of Diana, and for this reason: "Verily of these three Worts which we named Artemisia, it is said that Diana should find them, and delivered their powers and leechdom to Chiron the Centaur, who first from these Worts set forth a leechdom, and he named these Worts from the name of Diana, Artemis, that is, Artemisias."—Herbarium Apulæi, Cockayne's translation. The Wormwood was of very high reputation in medicine, and is thus recommended in the Stockholm MS.:

"Lif man or woman, more or lesse
In his head have gret sicknesse
Or gruiance or any werking
Awoyne he take wt. owte lettyng
It is called Sowthernwode also
And hony eteys et spurge stamp yer to
And late hy yis drunk, fastined drinky
And his hed werk away schall synkyn."[325:1]

But even in Shakespeare's time this high character had somewhat abated, though it was still used for all medicines in which a strong bitter was recommended. But its chief use seems to have been as a protection against insects of all kinds, who might very reasonably be supposed to avoid such a bitter food. This is Tusser's advice about the plant—

"While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or twaine
To save against March, to make flea to refraine:
Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is strowne,
No flea, for his life, dare abide to be knowne.
[326] What saver is better (if physick be true),
For places infected than Wormwood and Rue?
It is as a comfort for hart and the braine,
And therefore to have it, it is not in vaine."

July's Husbandry.

This quality was the origin of the names of Mugwort[326:1] and Wormwood. Its other name (in the Stockholm MS. referred to), Avoyne or Averoyne is a corruption of the specific name of one of the species, A. Abrotanum. Southernwood is the southern Wormwood, i.e., the foreign, as distinguished from the native plant. The modern name for the same species is Boy's Love, or Old Man. The last name may have come from its hoary leaves, though different explanations are given: the other name is given to it, according to Dr. Prior, "from an ointment made with its ashes being used by young men to promote the growth of a beard." There is good authority for this derivation, but I think the name may have been given for other reasons. "Boy's Love" is one of the most favourite cottage-garden plants, and it enters largely into the rustic language of flowers. No posy presented by a young man to his lass is complete without Boy's Love; and it is an emblem of fidelity, at least it was so once. It is, in fact, a Forget-me-Not, from its strong abiding smell; so St. Francis de Sales applied it: "To love in the midst of sweets, little children could do that; but to love in the bitterness of Wormwood is a sure sign of our affectionate fidelity." Not that the Wormwood was ever named Forget-me-Not, for that name was given to the Ground Pine (Ajuga chamæpitys) on account of its unpleasant and long-enduring smell, until it was transferred to the Myosotis (which then lost its old name of Mouse-ear), and the pretty legend was manufactured to account for the name.

In England Wormwood has almost fallen into complete disuse; but in France it is l