VIOLET by Charles Jordan

A Bouquet of long ago is a memory vision of to-day. It is seen through a long vista of years, but appears fresh and fragrant as on the day when it was gathered. A sweet little posy it is in dainty white sheath. Along with a tiny red Testament it is proudly carried by a small child as part of her equipment for a great epoch in her history, her first day at church. It contains many choice blossoms, for the garden from which it was culled abounded in such. Viewed across the years, however, all have become shadowy and undistinguishable but one. That one is a dark purple Pansy. There is nothing vague or undefined about it. It is vivid in every detail of rich colour, velvet texture, deep yellow heart, and delicate odour. But that is not all. During the brief period of the child's intercourse with it, it became a memory page on which the record of the hour was written. The sights, sounds, circumstances, and even thoughts, of that far-off time have become indelibly impressed upon it. Pansies like it bloom year by year. In each that first Pansy lives again, and with it that sunny Sabbath morning of long ago. The garden in which the flowers grew, the church bells, the solemn hush within the sanctuary, the summer air without, voices long silent, forms long vanished—all rise out of the past, a living picture, exactly as presented to the infant consciousness.

That such an experience is not uncommon we may gather from the most casual survey of the poets. Take a few examples. In describing an old man's visit to a garden which had been the scene of a thrilling episode of his youth, Tennyson makes him say—

And now,
As tho' 'twere yesterday, as tho' it were
The hour just flown, that morn with all its sound
(For those old Mays had thrice the life of these)
Rings in mine ears.

Longfellow says of flowers—

Stars they are wherein we read our history.

Another, in describing a flower haunted by the "Flower Spirit," says—

The wanderer gives it Memory's tear
Whilst home seems pictured on its leaf;

And hopes and hearts and voices dear,
Come o'er him—beautiful as brief.

These passages all refer to flowers in general. Was then the Pansy's survival of the other flowers in the child's bouquet a mere accident? Had her attention fixed itself in the same way on some other blossom, would the result have been the same? The evidence of the poets seems to indicate that it would not. When they come to particularise they almost invariably assign the part here performed by the Pansy either to it or to its near relative the Violet. Evidently they consider them specially adapted to serve in such a capacity. Tennyson says—

The smell of violets hidden in the green
Pour'd back into my empty soul and frame

The times when I remember to have been
Joyful and free from blame.

Again he associates the remembrance of Maud with

. . . the meadow your walks have left so sweet

That whenever a March-wind sighs
He sets the jewel-print of your feet

In violets blue as your eyes.

Another addresses the Violet thus—

Still doth thine April presence bring

Of April joys a dream
When life was in its sunny Spring—

A fair unrippled stream.

Yet another, who imagines that his happiest days are behind him, complains to the Heart's-ease—

But now thou only mock'st my grief
By waking thoughts of pleasures fled.

Flowers are Nature's poems. They supply no material needs; but, like all true poetry, answer in a way, none the less real that it is indefinable, to spiritual wants—

Silent they seem, yet each to thoughtful eye
Glows with true poesy.

But as there are various kinds of flowers and various kinds of poetry, so, it would seem, lias each particular flower its own particular type of poetry—

The violet varies from the lily as far

As oak from elm ; one loves the soldier, one

The silken priest of peace, one this, one that.

Thus we find that, as a rule, each has special characteristics and a special mission of its own which are recognised more or less by all the poets. All acknowledge the sovereign supremacy of the Eose. They extol her perfection of form, delicate gradation of colour, matchless odour. She is the emblem of love, royalty, and luxury. She is their Queen. The Lily suggests lofty grace and unsullied purity. She may be called their saint. Other flowers are more or less intimate acquaintances—some grave, some gay— and their appreciation of them varies with varying states of mind and circumstance. But the Pansy and Violet are familiar friends. They entrust them with their confidences, they revel with them amid reminiscences of the past, seek consolation from them in the stress and hurry of the present, and learn hope from them for the future.

As far as the Violet is concerned, we may question the correctness of the statement made in the verse just quoted, in comparing it with the Lily—" One loves the soldier, one the silken priest of peace." For the Violet's sympathies are universal. It loves "soldier" and "priest of peace" alike, and is loved by all in return. What Longfellow says of flowers in general, may most aptly be applied to the Pansy and Violet. They—

. . . expand their light and soul-like wings,
Teaching us by most persuasive reasons
How akin they are to human things.

There seems to have been no period in the world's history when they have not excited the interest and admiration of all sorts of people. Young and old, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, poetical or prosaic—all have been attracted to them by one influence or another.

Ancient fable makes them play a prominent part in the loves and wars of its gods and goddesses. Both it represents to have been nymphs transformed into flowers. It attributes the colours of the Pansy to a dart from Cupid's bow, in allusion to which Shakespeare makes Oberon describe the Pansy as—

A little Western flower,
Before milk-white ; now purple with love's wound.

The purple of the Violet is made the result of a similar encounter. In its case, however, the colour was sent upon it by Diana, not as a wound, but as a safeguard. Eapin thus describes the episode—

The goddess cried, "Since beauty's such a snare,
Ah, rather perish such destructive grace."
Then stained with dusky blue the virgin's face.

If these old legends were true, they would afford good examples of misfortune, borne so gracefully as to become the greatest good fortune. For among the attractions of these flowers their rich colour is not the least.

The Violet is said to have derived its name from the goddess Io, for whose behoof, when in the form of a heifer, Violets were made to spring from the earth. Whatever may have been the fabled perfections of that creation of old-world imagination, they could not have connected the name with associations so sweet and elevating, as those which it owes to the simple flower. The word "Violet" breathes music and poetry without reference to any goddess. It was so much esteemed in ancient Athens, that it was engraven on tablets all over the city. The citizens coveted no higher title than that of " Athenian crowned with Violets." The Eomans admired the flower too, and showed their appreciation of it in ways suited to their genius. They cultivated it extensively in their gardens, and were particularly partial to a wine distilled from its flowers. In the games of flowers held at Toulouse, in the picturesque days of the Troubadours, a golden Violet was the prize awarded for the best poetic composition. The Violet was the chosen flower of the lady who instituted the games. While undergoing imprisonment, she sent it to her true knight as a pledge of her constancy, of which virtue it henceforth became symbolic among the Troubadours. Thus early was it associated with poesy. Nor has the warrior disdained it. It was the chosen badge of Napoleon Bonaparte. During his exile his officers were in the habit of toasting him as "Corporal Violette, the flower that returns with the Spring." Even with the epicure has it found favour. A sherbet made of extract of Violets was much esteemed in the East, of which Mahomet is reported to have said that it surpassed all other extracts, as far as he himself excelled the rest of creation. Coming down to more recent times, we find it figuring largely in popular superstition, heing regarded as lucky in some circumstances, and as unlucky in others. A pretty fancy that the nightingale only sang above a bed of Violets is referred to by Milton in the lines—

In the violet embossed vale

The love-lorn nightingale

Nightly her sad song mourneth well.

It was also greatly esteemed for supposed medicinal qualities. In England in the olden time it was the recognised emblem of fidelity. Thus an old sonnet has it—

Violet is for faithfulnesse.

It is not surprising that so beloved a flower should have found a place on the bier. Especially for the bier of those who have died young it has been deemed appropriate. Thus Shelley says—

Violets for a maiden dead.

And Mrs. Hemans—

Bring flowers, pale flowers, on her bier to shed
A crown for the brow of the early dead.

For this in the woods was the Violet nursed.

Perhaps no flower could so well harmonise with such an occasion. The Eose speaks too much of
earthly pomp and ambition; and, moreover, seems peculiarly suggestive of the evanescence of all that is fair. The Lily is too pure, too apart from human sympathy. But that, beside the forsaken tabernacle of the spirit, should be laid the flower whose sensitive petals are written all over with its life-history, seems most fitting. Could any flower so well foreshadow the springtide that awaits humanity as that which has ever been associated with the Springs of Earth? It were surely no unwarrantable extravagance of fancy to imagine the closed eyes open in a happier sphere, and reading in the familiar face of the Violet the old tales of earth, in the light of fuller experience. So while men lay violet blossoms, which have been plucked from their roots, beside the human flowers which have been gathered from their place on earth, they also plant living roots of them on the graves of their beloved dead, there to speak, with each returning spring, of "life re-orient out of dust." Tennyson draws consolation from the thought that his lamented friend's body having been laid in English soil—

From his ashes may be made
The violet of his native land.

In this he was anticipated by Shakespeare, who says—

Lay her in the earth; and from her fair unpolluted flesh may violets spring.

That the attention given to the Pansy has been equal in universality to that bestowed upon the Violet may be gathered from the number and variety of its names, suggestive of rustic wit, poetic fancy, or human love and comradeship. Here are a few of them. Three-faces-under-a-hood, Love-in-idleness, Call-me-toyou, Herb Trinity, Heart's-ease, Forget-me-not. And there are very many more. The poet Barton thus apostrophises it—

And thou, so rich in gentle names, appealing
To hearts that own our common lot,
Thou styled by sportive fancy's better feeling,
A thought, the Heart's-ease, or Forget-me-not.

From its classical associations it has been described as—

Jove's own floweret where three colours meet.

Its three colours suggesting the Trinity, it was in old religious rites the flower specially allotted to Trinity Sunday. Hence the name, Herb Trinity. Of its many names Pansy is the one it has retained, probably because it has been found to suit it best. It is a corruption of the French pens^es, thoughts. Thus Shakespeare makes Ophelia say—

There's pansies, that's for thoughts.

Another poet says—

Are not pansies emblems meet for thoughts?
The pure, the chequer'd-gay and deep by turns:
A line for every mood, the bright things wear
In their soft velvet coat.

The- peculiarities of the structure of the flower have always struck the popular fancy, as some of its names show. On the Continent it is known as the stepmother. The upper petal represents the stepmother in her armchair, the next two petals her own daughters accommodated with a chair each, and the lower pair her stepdaughters sharing a chair between them. As a rule, the poets do not say much of their outward form. They are near and dear friends. Of the features of such, dear as they are to them, men do not speak nor even think much, so engrossed are they with the inner soul which they express. Most of them would therefore probably agree with Euskin's criticism of Milton's phrase, "Pansies freakt with jet." "Milton," he says, "sticks in the stains and puts us off with that unhappy freak of jet in the very flower that without this bit of paper - staining would have been the most precious of all to us. 'There's Pansies, that's for thoughts.'"

So, for " most persuasive reasons," the poets of all times have loved and lauded the Violet and the Pansy. Homer speaks of "Meadows purpled o'er with violets" as "a scene to fill a god with wonder and delight." Milton, with Eden's flowers to select from, requires " Pansies and Violets" to help in the formation of a couch in Paradise. Spenser refers affectionately to the "pretty pawnee." Shakespeare tells of "Violets dim, but sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes." Wordsworth, when he would convey an idea of the sweetness of a young maid, compares her to—

A violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the eye,

Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

As for Tennyson, he is continually referring to the Violet. The sentiment he puts into the mouth of his May Queen is very emphatically his own—

0 sweet is the new Violet that comes beneath the sky.

William Howitt says—

Pluck the Violets blue,—
Ah pluck not a few.

Knowest thou what good thoughts from Heaven the Violet instils 1

So precious are they in the eyes of another that he sees them—.

Gleaming like amethysts in the dewy grass.

From the unpretentious habit of their growth they have come to be regarded as emblematic of modesty and unobtrusive worth. It is in this aspect that Barton views them in the lines—

Beautiful are you in your lowliness,

Bright in your hues, delicious in your scent;
Lovely your modest blossoms, downward bent,

As shrinking from your gaze, yet prompt to bless

The passer-by with fragrance, and express
How gracefully, though mutely eloquent,
Are unobtrusive worth and meek content

Rejoicing in their own obscure recess.

Mrs. Osgood thus praises the same qualities—

The Violet droops its soft and bashful brow,
But from its heart sweet incense fills the air.

So rich within—so pure without—art thou,
With modest mien and soul of virtue rare.

Violets are harbingers of Spring which few of the poets fail to mention in describing its advent. Shakespeare begins a list of Spring flowers with "Daisies pied and Violets blue." Bennet tells how

Violets' hidden eyes
Are watching May's sweet coming.

Mrs. Hemans, who dearly loves the "Violets darkly blue," in inviting the children to the Spring woods, holds out as an inducement:—

Where the Violets lie may now be your home.

Tennyson weaves them in a "Wreath of March." One of the first signs of approaching Spring he notices is that

By ashen roots the Violets grow.

In describing, in "In Memoriam," how, under the influence of advancing Spring, Spring had begun to dawn in his own soul, he says—

My regret
Becomes an A2»il violet,
And buds and blossoms like the rest.

We might have expected that in the new world beyond the Atlantic new flowers would usher in the everywhere - welcome season. But even there the modest Violet is not overlooked. An American poet, in proclaiming its return, couples the old-world flower with a new-world bird. He says—

The blue-bird and the Violet are with us once again.

Still do poets, children, and common care-laden
H people seek the faithful and beloved family in their sequestered haunts, and draw from them the comfort, inspiration, and hope they are so well fitted to impart. None the less do they appreciate them in garden precincts, where, in richer dress, but with the same friendly countenance, they welcome all who love them. In these latter days, the care and attention of which they are so worthy have been lavished on them as never before. That they have amply repaid such attention many a choice garden bears testimony. In such a garden there are beds of them which are true poems, expressed in tenderest hues, from deepest purple to purest white; and which contain many a blossom which enshrines memories as thrilling and thoughts as inspiring as its little woodland ancestor treasured for the poets of old. In such a garden the merry-hearted may stroll in the sunshine, chanting such lays as these:—

Deep Violets you liken to

The kindest eyes that look on you

Without a thought disloyal.
Pansies for ladies all! I wis
That none who wear such brooches miss

A jewel in the mirror.

The pretty Pansies then I'll tie,
Like stones some chain enchasing,

The next to them their near ally
The purple Violet placing.

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Plant Lore-Thyme

Plant Lore-Thyme

THYME.—Among the Greeks, Thyme denoted the graceful elegance of the Attic style, because it covered Mount Hymettus, and gave to the honey made there the aromatic flavour of which the ancients were so fond. "To smell of Thyme" was, therefore, a commendation bestowed on those writers who had mastered the

Attic style. With the Greeks, also, Thyme was an emblem of

activity; and as this virtue is eminently associated with true courage, the ladies of chivalrous times embroidered on the scarfs which they presented to their knights, the figure of a bee hovering about a spray of Thyme, in order to inculcate the union of the

amiable with the active. In olden times, it was believed that

Thyme renewed the spirits of both man and beast; and the old herbalists recommended it is a powerful aid in melancholic and

splenetic diseases. Fairies and elves were reputed to be specially

fond of Wild Thyme. Oberon exclaims with delight;—

"I know a bank whereon the Wild Thyme blows,
Where Oxlips and the woody Violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with lush Woodbine.
With sweet Musk-Roses, and with Eglantine."

The fairy king's musical hounds would willingly forsake the richest blossoms of the garden in order to hunt for the golden dew in the flowery tufts of Thyme. Of witches is is said, that when they

"Won't do penance for their crime, They bathed themselves in Oregane and Thyme."

In the South of France, when a summons to attend a meeting of the votaries of Marianne is sent, it is accompanied by tufts of Wild Thyme, or Ferigoule, that being the symbol of advanced Republicanism.
Plant lore, legends, and lyrics: Embracing the myths, traditions ...
By Richard Folkard


(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.)

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 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 ^Elfric'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 ParvuloruVn,'' c. 1440, it is "Peletyr, herbe, scrpillum 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 ; ftos 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." Lycidas.

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 oould pay to his mistress—

"" Nerine Galatea, Thymo mihi dulcior Hyblaa."

V1rg1l, Ed. 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 cicada?.'

V1rg1l, 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.
The plant-lore & garden-craft of Shakespeare
By Henry Nicholson Ellacombe

Mr. John Mortimer followed with this short paper entitled "A Sprig of Thyme."


"How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers? "—Andrew Marvtll.

Among snowdrops, crocuses, polyanthuses, and primroses, that go to form a nosegay gift of homely February flowers, the gathered posy brought to me from an old-fashioned Staffordshire garden, I find some fragrant sprigs of thyme. The scent of it is grateful to the nostrils, and if I take one of these grey-green sprigs from among the scentless blooms and press it between the palms of my hands, as one does a spray of bog-myrtle, it leaves thereon a pleasant odour, subtly suggestive in its aromatic sweetness. It is reminiscent of grey old gardens, and, in a milder way, of hillside and pastoral solitudes, where its parent, the mother of thyme, finds habitation. The thyme of the garden plot is, as we know, to be reckoned among pot-herbs, and in such culinary associations it calls up visions of savoury flesh-pots. For this reason, it may be, the term vulgaris has been applied to it in botanical nomenclature. No well-ordered kitchen garden is without it, but best do I like to see it growing in the fair companionship of such flowers as here, in this posy, do keep it company. So, too, I take it, thought Louis Stevenson, when, in his address "To a Gardener," he said: —

"Friend, in my mountain-side demesne,
My plain-beholding, rosy green
And linnet-haunted garden ground,
Let still the esculents abound.
Let first the onion flourish there,
Rose among roots, the maiden-fair,
Wine-scented and poetic soul
Of the capacious salad bowl.
Let thyme the mountaineer (to dress
The tinier birds) and wading cress,
The lover of the shallow brook,
From all my plots and borders look."

Thyme, alike of the garden and the wilderness, is loved of bees, and from it they derive for their honey an added flavour. Mount Hymettus, we are told, was clothed with the attractive herb, and the honey extracted therefrom by Attic bees had a peculiar and much-prized quality of the aromatic kind. Of such delicate sweetness was it that the thyme from which it was extracted became typical of that quality in Greek literature which is known as the Attic style. Your poet strove to impart to his verse "the smell of thyme." So did Sophocles, for his grace of expression, come to be called the "Attic Bee." From the plantlore associated with it we learn, too, that " Thyme was an emblem of activity, and as this virtue is eminently associated with true courage, the ladies of chivalrous times embroidered on the scarfs which they presented to their knights, the figure of a bee hovering about a spray of thyme, in order to inculcate the union of the amiable with the active."

So much have I extracted from my sprig of thyme, hovering over it bee-like, and'now let me go on to say that my thyme-scented garden-posy came to me seasonably, inasmuch as it reminded me, in a sweet and supplementary way, of a little hill ramble which I had taken a day or two before, and about which there lingered in the memory a sense of fragrant garden herbs, early spring flowers, and other influences of a wilder kind. "Only lie long enough," says Hood, "and bed becomes a bed of thyme." The temptation to test the truth of that is with some of us a daily one, but this was a walk which necessitated early rising, and so it was from the early morning train that, in the first stage of my journey, I alighted at a little hill-foot station, about a dozen miles from town. Ab I passed through the wicket-gate and up the steep path which leads to the roadway, from the bough of a beech tree up there a full-throated throstle, looking down upon me, piped forth a melodious welcome. The air was crisp and fresh, and on the village of stone houses, grouped, cup-like, in a hollow of the hills, and on the upward-reaching slopes of pasture and moorland rising all about, there rested the tranquil beauty of the early morning sunshine. In the open space, with the village fountain in the centre, and upon which the tree-shaded church looks down, many roads do radiate to places high and low, and, taking the steepest of these highways, which leads to the moorland heights I love, I passed upward to that high curve where, among a cluster of stone houses, the workshop of my friend, the woodwright, is perched. I suspect that worthy gossip had seen me ascending the hill, for I found him in the roadway, lying in wait for me, and, as usual, eager for a little wayside talk. Coming to the footway with a cheery morning salutation, he took up his position by the low stone fence of a spacious patch of cottage garden, and, with his cap pushed back from his forehead so as to reveal his rugged, shining face full-fronted, and with his hands plunged deep into the pockets of his corduroy trousers, he began by remarking on the beauty of the day and the probability of its lasting. Then he passed on to discuss the mildness of the winter, the like of which was not within his memory. There had been little frost, and as for snow, certainly a ruck of it had fallen on one day, but it melted as it came. Evidences of the genial nature of the season were to be found in the cottage gardens, where wall-flowers had bloomed all the winter, and marigolds had kept open their golden eyes. The snowdrops had put in an early appearance, the crocuses had flamed up through the mould, primroses there were too, and the green spears of the daffodils were already well uplifted. As for the early snowdrop, I remember how l went to look for it in my I'leasaunce on the first day of the year, and how, in the waning misty afternoon, from beneath a dusky hedgerow in Sleepy Hollow, I gathered a solitary infantile flower. I remember, too, how, after gathering that first snowdrop, as I walked through the shadowy land where the ploughshare rested idly in the furrow and and peasant folk moved dreamily, I heard from far away, but clearly distinguishable, those sweet and solemn strains of music, to which are usually linked the words of the hymn which begins: —

"Sun of my soul. Thou Saviour dear,
It is not night if Thou be near,
O may no earth-born cloud arise.
To hide Thee from Thy servant's eyes."

In this hill-side garden-place, among its marigolds and primroses, there were breadths of thyme, and the woodwright drew my attention to it as another proof of the absence of nipping frosts. Then his thoughts took a medicinal turn in relation to the herb, and he said he had heard that in some form of drink it was good for folk who suffered from headache. A good many folk suffer from headache, but I don't think the woodwright was among them, or he would probably have known more about that herb-remedy. Among poets, Herrick knew the pain, and said to his lady : —

"My head doth ache,
O Sappho! take

Thy fillet;
And bind the pain
Or brine sumo banc

To kill it."

According to him the rosy God, Eros, is sometimes a victim, with this result to the physician: —

"I held Love's head while it did ache,
But so it chanced to be,
The cruel pain did his forsake,
And forthwith came to me."

In his erotic verse Herrick used many flowers and aromatic herbs, but I do not remember that thyme plays any part among them as an expression of the perfumed sweetness of Anthea, Julia, Sylvia, and the rest.

Regarding the medicinal properties of thyme, we are told that in old days "it was believed that thyme renewed the spirits of both man and beast; and the old herbalists recommended it as a powerful aid in melancholic and splenetic diseases."

From the consideration of herbs the woodwright's thoughts took a wider range, as he turned from the garden patch to look upon a broader prospect. From where his workshop stands there is a fine view of hills and valleys manifold, with the heathery moorland rising near enough to hear the grouse call to each other and the fretful pewit pipe wearily. With the white pigeons fluttering overhead in the sunshine, my friend discoursed variously, Ilia talk being mixed up in a scrappy way of reflections on men and things, with bits of country-side gossip, that sometimes fell upon the ear irrelevantly. I could not piece it together now, but I remember that it turned from things pastoral to huntings and carousals, with stories intermingled of people who had led riotous lives in hall and cot, and of fortunes that had been won and lost on horse racing or upon some such risky chances as the drawing of a long straw or a short one from a stack. One of his stories was of a wager depending upon the relative paces of a couple of snails, which, in a tricky incident belonging to it, reminded me forcibly of Mark Twain's story of " The Jumping Frog." In the course of his hunting talk he surprised me greatly by remarking, in a casual way, "We had a staghuut here the other day." Now, I know the country thereabouts pretty well, and was aware that there were deer in the neighbourhood; indeed, I was then on my way to look once more upon the herd in a distant corrie, but I was not aware that the antlered beauties of these parts were ever now-a-days pursued by horse or hound. Such was the fact, however, though the event, it seemed, was an occasional one, for my friend went on to relate the story of the stag-hunt with the descriptive power of one who had taken part in the chase. The victim, he told me, was a lonely stag, a pariah of the herd, one driven out by his fellows, who had taken refuge, beyond the boundaries, in a plantation of firs visible from where we stood. From there would the outcast go foraging in the neighbouring fields, to the discontent of farmers, and at night-time would visit the gardens and homesteads near where we were standing, a poor Autolycus, snapping up such unconsidered trifles as potato peelings. He was a fine stag though, the woodwright said, as he indicated his height above the roadway by a movement of his hand—a red stag, too— who could leap walls with ease, the loftiest of them, could even leap over that little hayshed across the way, were he so disposed. As my friend described his points, the lines of Scott's song came back again: —

"It was a stag, a stag of ten,
Bearing its brandies sturdily:
He came stately down the glen,
Ever sing hardily, hardily.

"He had an eye and he could heed,
Ever sing warily, warily:
He had a foot and he could speed—
Hunters watch so narrowly."

There was something pathetic, however, about that lone stag of the fir plantation,and one wondered if it was through sympathy that those two young fawns had been drawn to him, which the hunters found when they came to rouse the poor outcast from his hiding-place. The woodwright became eloquent as he described, with a sportsman's zest, the meet of the hunters and their hounds. There were redcoats there, and fair Dianas of the chase—a goodly sight—and when the quarry was up and the hunters and dogs were in full cry, it was a stirring business. With index finger he traced out the way the stag took, an upward one, leading over many stone fences of the hillside. Long and far was the hunt, the stag once, at least, being so close pressed by the dogs that he took to the water of a lake, and, at another point, made a great leap for life over a steep crag, but in the end, and it was a comfort to know it, he escaped from his pursuers. When the hue and cry had died down the homing instinct would bring him back to the shade of melancholy boughs again, there to have respite until another hunting day came round, for— though the deer knew it not—his ultimate fate had been decreed; he was not to be shot, but, if possible, the dogs were to be upon him at last.

When I had taken leave of the woodwright, as I passed on my upward way in the direction which the stag had first taken, my thoughts were very much occupied with that poor hunted creature. Among such afterthoughts came to me some lines, not altogether relevant perhaps, but linked to the subject by an association of ideas. They are Cowper's and describe that outcast feeling in which the poet was sometimes prone to indulge. He says: —

I was a stricken deer that left the herd

Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt

My panting side was charged, when I withdrew

To seek a tranquil death in distant shades,

There was I found by one who had himself

Been hurt by th' archers. In his side he bore,

And in his feet, the cruel scars.

With gentle force soliciting the darts

He drew them forth, and healed and bade me live.

Since then, with few associates, in remote

And silent woods, I wander, far from those

My former partners of the peopled scene,

With few associates, and not wishing more."

A robin, perched on a thorn tree by the wayside, his breast showing a bright spot of crimson among the brown twigs, warbled to me of the coming spring and of the time when leaves should be " large and long," as the Bobin Hood ballad has it, and the boughs should be white with May. With deep-chested music of a rougher kind did the keeper's dog, chained there to the cottage wall, salute me as he vainly strove to release himself from bondage. Along the cart-track, fringed with heather and bilberry, I reached the crest of the ridge, and then dropped down into the corrie where at times you may hear the curlew call and where the red-deer lie. I came upon the herd gathered close by the gate which gives access to the wood below. You remember how Kingsley, in one of his "North Devon Idylls," tells of the effect upon his artist friend, Claude Mellot, of such a sight seen there on Exmoor, above the gorge of Watersmeet, and how the cockney artist had tears in his eyes when the keeper showed him "sixty head of red deer all together." Well, here were at least as many, probably more, could one hare counted them, stags and hinds, proud antlered beauties that I go to see again and again. Children of the mist, too, were they, as I saw them on a former day, when all the corrie was filled with moving vaporous clouds, out of which they were revealed under such picturesque and shadowy conditions as would have delighted the eye of an artist. I remember, too, how the mist, which hung low, in its partial clearing showed above it a belt of pines, saw-edged and ragged. In the wood the cloud-wreaths trailed among the tree-boles in a ghost-like fashion, giving to that vernal place a strangely weird aspect. On this later day, the air being clearer, as I passed through, I could see far down the sunglinted aisles, whose soft carpet of turf was reddened with fallen beech leaves and rusted bracken.

There is little left to tell save that when I had passed from the deercorrie through the shadow of the wood to smoother-pastured places, I wended my way, by gated cart-tracks that led me towards the plain. Near where the track crosses a brook in a wooded hollow there stands within a grey old garden an ancient stone house with mullioned windows, upon whose gabled chimney-stack was perched a glossy starling, who, with gaping beak, was inhaling the blue smoke that "reeked from the lum," seeming the while like one saying to himself, "O diviner air." Beyond the hollow is a steep green lane, with goldentipped gorse bushes straggling into it from the hedgerows, and further, again, cottages with gardens, in which I noticed the full-flowered purple Daphne Hezereon. After this came the prosaic railway-station and the townward-tending train.

In recalling the incidents which I have here roughly written down they have been to me thyme-scented memories, but, beyond this, there is in such communings with nature that sense of something far more deeply interfused—

"Whose sweet-smelling presence
Out-perfumes the thyme."
Papers of the Manchester Literary Club, Volume 24
By Manchester Literary Club

Wild or Creeping Thyme

(Thymus Serpyllum) Mint family

Flowers^-Very small purple or pink purple, fragrant, clustered at ends of branches or in leaf axils. Hairy calyx and corolla 2lipped, the latter with lower lip 3-cleft; stamens 4; style 2cleft. Leaves: Oblong, opposite, aromatic. Stem: 4 to \2 in. long, creeping, woody, branched, forming dense cushions.

Preferred Habitat—Roadsides, dry banks, and waste places.

Flowering Season—June—September.

Distribution—Naturalized from Europe. Nova Scotia to Middle

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows;
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine.
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine."

—A Midsummer Night's Dream,

According to Danish tradition, any one waiting by an elderbush on Midsummer Night at twelve o'clock will see the king of fairyland and all his retinue pass by and disport themselves in favorite haunts, among others the mounds of fragrant wild thyme. How well Shakespeare knew his folk-lore!

Thyme is said to have been one of the three plants which made the Virgin Mary's bed. Indeed, the European peasants have as many myths as there are quotations from the poets about this classic plant. Its very name denotes that it was used as an incense in Greek temples. No doubt it was the Common Thyme (7. vulgaris), an erect, tall plant cultivated in gardens here as a savory, that Horace says the Romans used so extensively for bee culture.

Dense cushions of creeping thyme usually contain two forms of blossoms on separate plants—hermaphrodite (male and female), which are much the commoner; ana pistillate, or only female, flowers, in which the stamens develop no pollen. The latter are more fertile; none can fertilize itself. But blossoms so rich in nectar naturally attract quantities of insects—bees and butterflies chiefly. A newly opened hermaphrodite flower, male on the first day, dusts its visitors as they pass the ripe stamens. This pollen they carry to a flower two days old, which, having reached the female stage, receives it on the mature two-cleft stigma, now erect and tall, whereas the stamens are past maturity.
Nature's garden: an aid to knowledge of our wild flowers and their insect ...
By Mrs. Nellie Blanchan (De Graff) Doubleday, Neltje Blanchan

4. Thymus (Thyme). 1. T. Serppllum (Wild Thyme).—Flowers in heads or whorled; stems branched, hairy ; leaves flat, egg-shaped, blunt, more or less fringed at the base, stalked; floral leaves similar; upper lip of the corolla notched; root perennial. Those who love to wander over breezy hills, where the sheep are scattered far and wide about the landscape, well know the Wild Thyme. During July and August, many an open lonely tract of our scenery is purpled over with its flowers, which are bringing fragrance to wide-spread heath, or grassy moorland, or sunny bank, or chalky sea-cliff, and forming aromatic tuft-like cushions, on which the rambler may repose to listen to murmuring bees and low whispering airs. Often as we have gone over such hills on some Sabbath morning, summoned by the weleome bell to the House of Prayer, we have, as we looked on the flock, been reminded of the shepherd's boy whom Graham describes as watching his sheep, on the thymy hills of Scotland:—

"Nor yet less pleasing at the Heavenly Throne
The Sabbath service of the shepherd boy,
In some lone gleu where every sound is lull'd
To slumber, save the tinkling of the rill,
Or bleat of lamb, or falcon's hovering cry j
Stretch'd on the sward he reads of Jesse's son,
Or sheds a tear o'er him to Egypt sold,
Ami wonders why he weeps; the volume closed,
With thyme-sprig laid between the leaves, he singB
The sacred lays, his weekly lesson, conn'd
With meikle care, beneath the lowly roof
Where humble lore is learnt.
Thus reading, hymning, all alone, unseen,
The shepherd boy the Sabbath holy keeps."

So refreshing is the perfume of the Thyme, that we wonder not that the old Greeks gave to the plant a name expressive of strength or courage, in the belief that it renewed the spirits both of man and animals, though they certainly ascribed to the slightly tonic and stimulating properties of the herb a higher praise than they deserved. Thyme tea is yet in good favour in villages, and many a tuft of the closely allied garden Thyme is still to be seen on the cottage plot, and is gathered for that purpose. Often, too, perhaps, it is looked upon by some moralizing matron, to whom it is significant of the mingled weal and woe of daily life, as she remembers the old proverb, " Rue and thyme grow baithe in a garden." The plant was, in the opinion of our fathers, " a noble strengthener of the lungs, as notable a one as grows;" and in some of the earliest manuscripts of this country, it was recommended for those who were " streyt ondyd," that is, short-breathed.

Besides its use as an infusion, and in various liquid preparations, an ointment was made from Thyme blossoms which was considered very healing. The leaves bruised, and laid upon the part stung by a bee or wasp, were thought to allay the irritation. Parkinson says of this herb: "Thyme is a speciall helpe to melancholicke and splenetickc disease. The oyle that is chymically drawne out of ordinarie thyme is used, as the whole herbe is, in pils for the head and stomacke. It is also much used for the tooth-ache, as many other such-like hot oyles are." The substance now sold as a remedy for tooth-ache by the name of Oil of Thyme, is made, however, from the Marjoram. Mr. Purton, whoso medical, as well as botanical science, renders him a good authority in such matters, considers an infusion of the leaves of wild Thyme good for head-ache, and says it is reputed to be an infallible cure for nightmare; and Linnseus recommended its use for pains in the head. The plant yields camphor by distillation, and an infusion of its leaves may probably be taken with advantage by nervous persons. Bees are very fond of its flowers, and these are very pretty, in their deep purple tint, varying to pale lilac, and clustering amid their chocolate-coloured floral leaves. The plant is common on dry places in most European countries, and it forms a thick turf on some of the fields of Iceland, among which the whortleberries, bearberries, and cranlwrries flourish in abundance; while with its frequent companion, the Marjoram, it grows on the Himalayan mountains of India, at the height of 8,200 feet above the sea. The Germans call this plant Thimian; the French, Thym; the Dutch, Gemeene thym; the Italians, Teino; the Spanish, Tomillo; the Poles, Tym, and the Danes, Timian. The old French writers term it Pouliot-thym, and Pillolet, and it was formerly called in this country, Puliall Mountaine, Pella Mountaine, and had besides the names of Running Thyme, Creeping Thyme, Mother of Thyme, and Shepherd's Thyme. Its leaves laid near the resorts of mice are said to drive these animals from the place.

Old writers, both in prose and verse, tell how sheep are improved by feeding upon Thyme; but the fact is, that these animals, except by accident, or when driven by hunger, leave untouched the aromatic herbs supposed to be so beneficial to them. But the Thyme grows on downs and commons where the air is pure and bracing and the pasturage sweet; and sheep seem to have been destined rather for hilly and mountainous, than for lowland pastures and turnip fields, though they can be accommodated to the latter conditions.

The wild Thyme varies much in different situations, not only in the degree of hairyness of its stems and leaves, but also as to size and odour. Sometimes, instead of the dark green glossy foliage, we find specimens with leaves white with down, and occasionally the flowers are white. When growing on dry exposed situations it is small and prostrate, but when beneath the shelter of furze or broom it has a stalk a foot or more high.

Mr. Babington has recently expressed his opinion that two species of Thyme are included in that described as serpyllum; one is T. Chamcedrys, the other the true T. Serpyllum, but as the difference is chiefly in their habit of growth, they require to be examined while growing. He remarks, " In T. Serpyllum there is a difference between the flowering shoot and that intended to extend the plant. Quite prostrate and rooting shoots are produced each year, which grow from the end of the shoots of the preceding year, and do not flower; also there spring from the other axils of these old prostrate parts of the plant short erect or ascending shoots, which form a linear series, and each of which terminates in a capitate spike, consisting of a very few whorls, and which die back to the base after the seed has fallen. The growing shoot is perennial, but the flowering shoot is annual. In T. Chamcedrys there is no such manifest separation between the flowering and young shoots. The terminal bud often produces the strongest shoot, which itself ends in flowers, differing thus from the terminal shoot of T. Seipyllum, which always ends in a flowerless shoot. It wants the regularity of T. JSerpyllum, and presents a dense irregular mass of leafy shoots and flowers intermixed."

The garden Thyme is a native of Southern Europe; it is largely cultivated in. herb gardens for the London market. It has the same qualities as the wild Thyme, yielding camphor in distillation with water. It is in Spain infused in the pickle used to preserve olives, and before the introduction of Oriental spices entered largely into the cookery of all European countries.
The flowering plants of Great Britain, Volume 3
By Anne Pratt

Plant Lore-Rosemary

ROSEMARY.—Rosmarinus, the botanical name of Rosemary, signifies the "dew of the sea," and has been applied to the plant on account of its fondness for the sea-shore. Formerly it was called Rosmarinus coronarius because of its use in chaplets and garlands, with which the principal guests at feasts were crowned. In place of more costly incense, the ancients often employed Rosemary in their religious ceremonies, and especially at funeral rites. The Romans ornamented their Lares, or household gods, with this plant, and at the Palilia, or festival held in honour of Pales, the purification of the flocks was made with the smoke of Rosemary. But the plant is essentially funereal in its character: its aroma serves to preserve the corpse of the departed, and its leaves, ever green, symbolise immortality: hence, like the Asphodel and Mallow, it was frequently planted near tombs :—

"Come funeral flower ! who lov'st to dwell,
With the pale corse in lonely tomb.
And throw across the desert gloom

A sweet decaying smell."—Kirk* While.

In the Northern counties, mourners at funerals often carry a branch of Rosemary, and it is still customary in some rural districts to distribute sprigs of the plant at funerals, in order that those attending may cast them into the grave. Gay refers to this custom in his ' Shepherd's Week ':—

"Sprigg'd Rosemary the lads and lasses bore,
While dismally the parson walked before.
Upon her grave the Rosemary they threw,
The Daisy, Butter-flower, and Endive blue."

Sprigs of Rosemary were, however, in olden times, worn at weddings, as well as at funerals. Herrick says :—

"Grow for two ends, it matters not at all,
Be't for my bridal or my burial."

Shakspeare and others of our old poets make frequent mention of
Rosemary as an emblem of remembrance, and as being worn at
weddings, possibly to signify the fidelity of the lovers. Thus
Ophelia says :—

"There's Rosemary for you, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember."

Sprigs of Rosemary mingled in the coronal which bound the hair of the unfortunate Anne of Cleves on the occasion of her nuptials with King Henry VIII. In olden times, Rosemary garlanded the wassail bowl, and at Christmas the dish of roast beef, decked with Rosemary and Bays, was ushered in with the carol beginning—

"The boar's head in hand bring I,
With garlands gay and Rosemary."

The silvery foliage of this favourite plant mingled well with the Holly, Mistletoe, and Bays employed in decking rooms, 4c, at Christmas-tide—a custom which may perhaps be accounted for by a Spanish tradition that the Rosemary (like the Juniper in other legends) afforded shelter and protection to the Virgin Mary during her flight with the infant Saviour into Egypt. The plant is said to flower on the day of the Passion of our Lord because the Virgin Mary spread on a shrub of Rosemary the under linen and little frocks of the infant Jesus; and according to tradition, it brings happiness on those families who employ it in perfuming the house

on Christmas night. In Germany, there exists a curious custom

of demanding presents from women on Good Friday, at the

same time striking them with a branch of Rosemary or Fir.

It is a common saying in Sicily, that Rosemary is the favourite plant of the fairies, and that the young fairies, under the guise of

snakes, lie concealed under its branches. In the rural districts

of Portugal, it it called Akcrim, a word of Scandinavian origin {Ellegrim), signifying Elfin-plant. Rosemary occupied a prominent place in monastic gardens, on account of its curative properties, and in Queen Elizabeth's time, its silvery foliage grew all over the walls of the gardens at Hampton Court. Now-a-days the plant is rarely seen out of the kitchen garden, and indeed a common saying has arisen that " Rosemary only grows where the mistress is master." The plant was formerly held in high estimation as a "comforter of the brain," and a strengthener of the memory. In Kngland, Rosemary worn about the body is said to strengthen the memory, and to afford successful assistance to the wearer in anything he may undertake. In an ancient Italian recipe, the

flowers of Rosemary, Rue, Sage, Marjoram, Fennel, Quince, &c, are recommended for the preservation of youth. In Bologna, there is an old belief that the flowers of Rosemary, if placed in contact with the skin, and especially, with the heart, give gaiety and sprightliness. Spirit of wine distilled from Rosemary produces the true Hungary water. By many persons Rosemary is used as tea for headaches and nervous disorders. An Italian legend, given in the Mythologie des Plantes, tells that a certain queen, who was childless, one day, whilst walking in the palace gardens, was troubled with a feeling of envy whilst contemplating a vigorous Rosemary-bush, because of its numerous branches and offshoots. Strange to relate, she afterwards gave birth to a Rosemary-bush, which she planted in a pot and carefully supplied with milk four times a day. The king of Spain, nephew of the queen, having stolen this pot of Rosemary, sustained it with goat's milk. One day, whilst playing on the flute, he saw to his astonishment a beautiful

he fell desperately in love with this strange visitor; but being obliged to depart to fight for his country, he commended the Rosemary-bush to the special care of his head gardener. In his absence, his sisters one day amused themselves by playing on the king's flute, and forthwith the beautiful princess emerged once more from the Rosemary. The king's sisters, tormented by jealousy, struck her; the princess forthwith vanished, the Rosemary began to droop, and the gardener, afraid of the king's wrath, fled into the woods. At the midnight hour, he heard a dragon talking to its mate, and telling her the story of the mystic Rosemary-bush. The dragon let fall the fact, that if the Rosemary was to be restored, it could only be by being fed or sprinkled with dragons' blood: no sooner did the gardener hear this, than he fell upon the male and female dragons, slew them, and carrying off some of their blood, applied it to the roots of the king's Rosemary. So the spell was broken: the king returned, and soon after married the charming Princess

Rosa Marina. A curious charm, or dream-divination, is still

extant in which Rosemary plays an important part; the mode of procedure is as follows:—On the eve of St. Magdalen, three maidens, under the age of twenty-one, are to assemble in an upper room, and between them prepare a potion, consisting of wine, rum, gin, vinegar, and water, in a ground-glass vessel. Into this each maid is then to dip a sprig of Rosemary, and fasten it in her bosom; and after taking three sips of the potion, the three maids are silently to go to sleep in the same bed. As a result, the dreams of each will reveal their destiny. Another elaborate spell for effecting the same result on the first of July, consists in the gathering of a sprig
of Rosemary, a red Rose, a white Rose, a blue flower, a yellow flower, nine blades of long Grass, and a sprig of Rue, all of which are to be bound together with a lock of the maiden's hair who wishes to work the spell. This nosegay is to be sprinkled with the blood of a white pigeon and some salt, and laid beneath the maid's head when she retires to rest. Her dreams will then portend her fate. Rosemary is deemed a herb of the Sun.
Plant lore, legends, and lyrics: Embracing the myths, traditions ...
By Richard Folkard


(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.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


Romeo. Ay, nurse ; what of that? both with an R.

Nurse. Ah, mocker 1 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 seacoast 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, ie. 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 "Reliquiae Antiquae." The account of "The Gloriouse Rosemaryne " is long, but the beginning and ending are worth quoting—

1 Grace was symbolized by the Rue, or Herb of Grace, and remembrance by the Rosemary.

"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 powde,

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 flessrhe,

And yowge i-sprang 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 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 buriaU."

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 bumile, vel rore marino, non solum coronamus funera jamjam ducenda, sed et iis appendimus ex iisdem herbis litteras collectas, significatrices nominis ejus quae defuncta est. Nam in puellarum funeribus hsec fere fieri solent" (" Horticulturae," 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 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 " Pharmacopoeia." "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 niothes and other vermine."
The plant-lore & garden-craft of Shakespeare
By Henry Nicholson Ellacombe


'T~^\OTH not Rosemary and Romeo both begin

J / with a letter?' asks Juliet's nurse. Yes,

but what did she mean by the query, and by the further remark that 'Juliet hath the prettiest sententions of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good to hear it'? For answer we must make some search into the beliefs and customs of the past.

Rosemary is the 'Ros-marinus' of the old herbalists, but it is not a native of Britain, and there is no exact record of when it was introduced here from the South of Europe. Mention of ' Rosmarinus' occurs in an Anglo-Saxon vocabulary of the eleventh century, where it is translated Feldmadder and Sun - dew. There is some doubt whether this has reference to the actual plant now known to us as rosemary, but in no case was it the Rose of Mary, as some have supposed. It is not a rose, and the * Mary' is from 'marinus,' or 'maris.' The old English spelling was Rosmarin, or Rosmarine; in these forms one finds the word used by Gower, and Shenstone, and other old poets.

In the South of Europe the rosemary has long had magic properties ascribed to it. The Spanish ladies used to wear it as an antidote against the evil eye, and the Portuguese called it the Elfin plant, and dedicated it to the fairies. The idea of the antidote may have been due to a confusion of the name with that of the Virgin; but as a matter of fact the ' Ros-marinus' is frequently mentioned by old Latin writers, including Horace and Ovid. The name came from the fondness of the plant for the sea-shore, where it often gets sprinkled with the 'ros,' or dew of the sea, that is to say, seaspray. Another cause of confusion, perhaps, was that the leaves of the plant somewhat resemble those of the juniper, which in mediaeval times was one of the plants held sacred to the Virgin Mary. In the island of Crete, it is said, a bride dressed for the wedding still calls last of all for a sprig of rosemary to bring her luck.

And thus we come to find rosemary in close association with both marriage and death, just as the hyacinth was, and perhaps still is, among the Greeks. It is interesting to trace the connection by which the same plant came to have two such different uses.

One of the earliest mentions of rosemary in English literature is in a poem of the fourteenth century called 'The Gloriouse Rosemaryne,' which begins thus:

'This herbe is callit rosemaryn,
Of vertu that is gode and fyne;
But all the vertues tell I ne can,
Nor, I trowe, no erthely man.'

Nevertheless, the poet proceeds to record at great length many astounding virtues, including the restoration of youth to the aged by bathing in rosemary water.

The 'cheerful rosemarie' and 'refreshing rosemarine' of Spenser was once a great favourite in England, although now it is hardly allowed garden space. Sir Thomas More said: 'I let it run all over my garden walls, not only 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 burial grounds.'

The popularity of the plant was doubtless due to the long-enduring scent and verdure of the leaves. It is one of the most lasting of evergreens, and the pleasant aromatic odour lingers very long after the leaves have been gathered.

Fragrance and endurance, then, are the characteristics of a plant which came to be commonly accepted as an emblem of constancy, and also of loving remembrance. Thus it is that Herrick sings of it:

'Grow for two ends, it matters not at all,
Be't for my bridal or my burial.'

Thus it is that we find Friar Laurence over Juliet's body, saying:

'Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary
On this fair corse,'

which is certainly not what the nurse meant when she told Romeo of the 'prettiest sententions.'

High medicinal properties were ascribed to the rosemary, so much so that old Parkinson writes: 'Rosemary is almost as great use as bayes, both for outward and inward remedies, and as well for civill as physicall purposes; inwardly for the head and heart, outwardly for the sinews and joynts; for civill uses, as all do know, at weddings, funerals, etc., 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."

One of the 'physicall' uses was in stirring up the tankard of ale or sack, and at weddings a sprig was usually dipped in the loving-cup to give it fragrance as well as luck.

The virtues of the plant are celebrated in a curious wedding sermon quoted by Hone:

'The rosemary is for married men, the which by name, nature, and continued use, man challengeth as properly belonging to himself. It overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden boasting man's rule; it helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memory, and is very medicinal for the head. Another property is, it affects the heart. Let this rosmarinus, this flower of man, ensign of your wisdom, love, and loyalty, be carried not only in your hands but in your heads and hearts.'

One does not easily reconcile this laudation with the popular superstition that wherever the rosemary flourished there should the woman be the ruling power. And to this superstition, be it noted, has been ascribed the disfavour into which the plant has fallen among gardeners since Shakespeare's time.

The medical properties may have been overrated by old Parkinson, but some are recognised even to this day. Thus rosemary is used as an infusion to cure headaches, and is believed to be an extensive ingredient in hair-restorers. It is also one of the ingredients in the manufacture of Eau-deCologne, and has many other uses in the form of oil of rosemary. It is said that bees which feed on rosemary blossoms produce a very delicatelyflavoured honey. Perfumers are greatly indebted to it. According to De Gubernatis, the flowers of the plant are proof against rheumatism, nervous indisposition, general debility, weakness of sight, melancholy, weak circulation, and cramp. Almost as comprehensive a cure as some of our modern universal specifics!

The medicinal properties of rosemary have been held by some to account for its funeral uses. At all events, an ingenious writer of the seventeenth century held that the custom of carrying a sprig at a funeral had its rise from a notion of an 'alexipharmick' or preservative virtue in the herb which would protect the wearer from 'pestilential distempers,' and be a powerful defence 'against the morbid efHuvias of the corpse.' For the same reason, this writer asserts, it was customary to burn rosemary in the chambers of the sick, just like frankincense, 'whose odour is not much different from rosemary, which gave the Greeks occasion to call it Libanotis, from Libanos (frankincense).'

The hyssop of the Bible is believed by some to be rosemary, and it is said that in the East it was customary to hang up a bunch in the house as a protection against evil spirits, and to use it in various ceremonies against enchantment. Perhaps there was some connection between this custom and that of the Greeks referred to by Aristotle, who regarded indigestion as the effect of witchcraft, and who used rue as an antidote. The dispelling of the charm was just the natural physical action of the herb.

In Devonshire, however, there was a more mystic use for rosemary in dispelling the charms of witches. A bunch of it had to be taken in the hand and dropped bit by bit on live coals, while the two first verses of the sixty-eighth psalm were recited, followed by the Lord's Prayer. Bayleaves were sometimes used in the same manner; but if the afflicted one were suffering physically, he had also to take certain prescribed medicines. Rosemary worn about the body was believed to strengthen the memory and to add to the success of the wearer in anything he might undertake.

It is as an emblem of remembrance that rosemary is most frequently used by the old poets. Thus Ophelia:

'There is rosemary for you, that's for remembrance;
I pray you, love, remember.'

And in The Winter's Tale:

'For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long;
Grace and remembrance be with you both.'
And thus Drayton:

'He from his lass him lavender hath sent,

Showing her love, and doth requital crave;
Him rosemary his sweetheart, whose intent
Is that he her should in remembrance have.'

Quotations might be easily multiplied, but the reader will find in Brand's Popular Antiquities numerous references to the plant by writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

As an emblem of rejoicing, rosemary was also often used. Hone quotes a contemporary account of the joyful entry of Queen Elizabeth into London in 1558, wherein occurs this passage: 'How many nosegays did her Grace receive at poor women's hands? How often times stayed she her chariot when she saw any simple body offer to speak to her Grace? A branch of rosemary given to her Grace, with a supplication by a poor woman about Fleet Bridge, was seen in her chariot till her Grace came to Westminster.' The object of the particular floral offering in this case is not very obvious, unless as an emblematic tribute to the maiden queen.

Rosemary used to be carried in the hand at weddings, as well as strewed on the ground and dipped in the cup. Thus Stow narrates of a wedding in 1560, that 'fine flowers and rosemary were strewed for them coming home'; and Brand cites numerous instances from old plays. In one, 'the parties enter with rosemary, as if from a wedding'; and in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady, the question is asked about a wedding, 'Were the rosemary branches dipped?' This dipping, moreover was in scented water as well as in the loving-cup, and hence the allusion in Dekker's Wonderful Year to a bride who had died on her wedding-night:

'Here is a strange alteration; for the rosemary that was washed in sweet water to set out the bridal is now wet in tears to furnish her burial.'

It is on record that Anne of Cleves wore rosemary at her wedding with Henry the Eighth; and in an account of some marriage festivities at Kenilworth, attended by Queen Elizabeth, there is frequent mention of the plant. An idea of how it was sometimes used is given in a description of a sixteenth century wedding quoted by the Rev. Hilderic Friend: 'The bride being attired in a gown of sheep's russet and a kirtle of fine worsted, attired with abillement of gold' (milliner's French even then!); 'and her hair, yellow as gold, hanging down behind her, which was curiously combed and plaited' she was led to church between two sweet boys, with bride-laces and rosemary tied about her silken sleeves. There was a fair bride-cup of silver-gilt carried before her, wherein was a goodly branch of rosemary gilded very fair, and hung about with silken ribands of all colours.'

Coles says that the garden rosemary was called Rosmarinus coronarium, because the women made crowns and garlands of it. Ben Jonson says that it was customary for the bridesmaids to present the bridegroom next morning with a bunch of rosemary. And Brand says that as late as 1698 the custom still prevailed in England of decking the bridal bed with sprigs of rosemary.

In Jonson's Tale of a Tub, one of the characters assembled to await the intended bridegroom says: 'Look an' the wenches ha' not found un out, and do present un with a van of rosemary and bays, enough to vill a bow-pott or trim the head of my best vore-horse; we shall all ha' bride-laces and points, I see.' And again, a country swain assures his sweetheart at their wedding: 'We'll have rosemary and bayes to vill a bow-pott, and with the same I'll trim the vorehead of my best vorehorse '—so that it would seem the decorative use was not confined to the bride, the guests, and the banquet.

As a love-charm the reputation of rosemary seems to have come from the South. There is an old Spanish proverb which runs:

'Who passeth by the rosemarie,

And careth not to take a spray,
For woman's love no care has he,

Nor shall he, though he live for aye.'

Mr. Thiselton-Dyer says that rosemary is used in some parts of the country, as nut-charms are on Halloween, to foretell a lover; only, St. Agnes' Eve is the occasion on which to invoke with a sprig of rosemary, or thyme, with this formula:

'St. Agnes, that's to lovers kind,
Come, ease the troubles of my mind.'

For love-potions, decoctions of rosemary were much employed.

As to funereal uses, those who are familiar with Hogarth's drawings will remember one of a funeral party with sprigs of rosemary in their hands. Misson, a French traveller [temp. William the Third), thus describes English funeral ceremonies: 'When they are ready to set out, they nail up the coffin, and a servant presents the company with sprigs of rosemary. Everyone takes a sprig and carries it in his hand till the body is put into the grave, at which time they all throw their sprigs in after it.' Hence Gay:

'To show their love, the neighbours far and near,
Follow'd with wistful looks the damsel's bier;
Sprigg'd rosemary the lads and lasses bore,
While dismally the parson walk'd before.
Upon her grave the rosemary they threw.'

Whether the fact that the rosemary buds in January has anything to do with its funereal uses admits of conjecture, as Sir Thomas Browne would say; but that fact was certainly present to the writer of the following verses, which were worthily rescued by Hone from a 'fugitive copy,' although the writer's name has been lost:

'Sweet-scented flower! who art wont to bloom

On January's front severe,

And o'er the wintry desert drear
To waft thy waste perfume!
Come, thou shalt form my nosegay now,
And I will bind thee round my brow;

And, as I twine the mournful wreath,
I'll weave a melancholy song,
And sweet the strain shall be, and long—

The melody of death.

'Come, funeral flower! who lov'st to dwell
With the pale corse in lonely tomb,
And throw across the desert gloom

A sweet decaying smell.

Come, pressing lips, and lie with me

Beneath the lonely alder-tree,

And we will sleep a pleasant sleep,

And not a care shall dare intrude

To break the marble solitude,
So peaceful and so deep.

'And hark! the wind-god, as he flies,
Moans hollow in the forest trees,
And, sailing on the gusty breeze,

Mysterious music dies.

Sweet flower! the requiem wild is mine.

It warns me to the lonely shrine—
The cold turf-altar of the dead.

My grave shall be in yon lone spot,

Where, as I lie by all forgot,

A dying fragrance thou wilt o'er my ashes shed.'

In South Wales, in Cheshire, and in Bucks, the custom still obtains, according to Mr. Hilderic Friend, for each mourner to carry a sprig of rosemary to the grave, into which it is thrown. For weddings, rosemary was dipped in scented water, but for funerals in plain water. Hence the reference in an old play, quoted by Hone:

'If there be
Any so kind as to accompany
My body to the earth, let them not want
For entertainment. Prythee, see they have
A sprig of rosemary, dipp'd in common water,
To smell at as they walk along the streets.'

In Dekker's Wonderful Year there is a description of a charnel-house pavement strewed with withered rosemary, hyacinth, cypress, and yew. During the Plague rosemary was in such demand for funerals that, says Dekker, what 'had wont to be sold for twelvepence an armfull went now at six shillings a handfull.' Certainly a remarkable rise. What the price was in 1531 we know not; but in an account of the funeral expenses of a Lord Mayor of London, who died in that year, appears an item, 'For yerbes at the bewyral £0 1 o'—which presumably refers to rosemary.

'Cypresse garlands,' wrote Coles, 'are of great account at funeralls among the gentiler sort; but Rosemary and Bayes are used by the commons both at funeralls and weddings. They are all plants which fade not a good while after they are gathered and used, as I conceive, to intimate unto us that the remembrance of the present solemnity might not die presently, but be kept in minde for many yeares.'

We have now seen something of the many significations of rosemary, and find an explanation of why the same plant was used for both weddings and funerals, in the fact that it emblemised remembrance by its evergreen and fragrant qualities. One may have doubts about the truth of the story of the man of whom it is recorded that he wanted to be married again on the day of his wife's funeral because the rosemary which had been used at her burial would come in usefully and economically for the wedding ceremony. But if the story is too good to be true, there is suggestion enough in the circumstance referred to by Shakespeare, that 'Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corpse.'
Storyology: essays in folk-lore, sea-lore, and plant-lore
By Benjamin Taylor


Herbs played a much more prominent part in the customs, the medicine, and the daily life of our forefathers than they do in the more sophisticated existence of the present day. No herb was in more universal use than rosemary. It was used at festivities of all kinds, at public entertainments, at weddings, and at funerals. It was strowed on the floor, was carried in the hand, and was stuck in the hat. In old collections of popular medical recipes, rosemary continually appears as an ingredient in wonderfully compounded 'waters,' oils, and salves. The works of the older dramatists contain frequent allusions to its various medicinal and symbolical uses. Ophelia's well-known saying, 'There's rosemary, that's for remembrance,' is but one among many such passages. In the Winter's Tale, Perdita, distributing her flowers, says:

For you there's rosemary and rue: these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long:
Grace and remembrance be to you both,
And welcome to our shearing!

Rosemary was long considered a good medicine for disorders of the head; it was also supposed to clear the head and to strengthen the memory, and so naturally became the symbol of remembrance and fidelity. It is very possible that the enduring nature of the odour of the plant has contributed to its long-standing association with these qualities. In consequence of its symbolic character it was largely used in connection both with funerals and with weddings. Horace and Ovid tell us how the ancients used to strow sprigs and boughs of cypress upon the graves of departed friends; and with the substitution of rosemary, and sometimes sage, for cypress, the custom has been maintained until a very recent date. When the body of Juliet, supposed dead, is

about to be removed to the vault of the Capulets, Friar Laurence says to the distracted friends:

Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary
On this fair corse.

Bishop Corbet, in his poem on John Dawson, the Christ Church butler, addresses the undertaker's sable band as 'Ye Men of Rosemary.' Mrs Beecher Stowe, in her Poganuc People, tells us how the rugged New-England descendants of the Puritans in the early part of this century used no flowers about their dead, only the tansy and rosemary—bitter herbs of affliction.

It was formerly customary for the mourners as they walked in funeral procession to carry sprigs of the plant in their hands, which they afterwards threw into the grave. Gay, in his SliephercPs Week, describing a rural funeral, says:

To show their love, the neighbours far and near
Followed with wistful look the damsel's bier.
Sprigged rosemary the lads and lasses bore,
While dismally the parson walked before:
Upon her grave the rosemary they threw,
The daisy, butter-flower, and endive blue.

This ancient custom was, until lately, still kept up in Shropshire. The sprigs were distributed to the mourners just before leaving the house, and at the same time each member of the party was helped to a 'funeral cake.' These cakes generally took the form of oblong spongebiscuits, one of which, wrapped in black-edged note-paper and sealed with black wax, was sent to every near relative or friend not present But they are now going out of use, and will soon be, like so many other country customs, things of the past In Germany, not many years ago, rosemary was always used for a death-wreath for any young girl dying shortly before her wedding.

In courtship and bridal, as in death, the plant has for centuries been a popular symbol of fidelity and remembrance. Stow tells us that in the reign of Elizabeth rosemary was strown before brides on their way back from church. The gift of the herb to a man by his sweetheart was considered most significant. An old instance is found in Robert Greene's Never too Late (1590): 'Shee hath given thee a Nosegay of flowers, wherein, as a top gallant for all the rest, is set in Rosemary for remembrance—thou hast wonne her: els had shee not given thee this nosegay.' At weddings, it used to be the custom to (tip a sprig in the cup before drinking to the health of the newly married couple. The famous old beverage of warm ale, sugared and spiced, with a roasted crab or apple floating thereon, known as lamb'swool, was commonly stirred with a sprig of rosemary, to give it an additional flavour. Derbyshire folk have a belief that rosemary worn about the person will strengthen memory and will give success in love. In Spain they have a proverb:
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Mary, when washing one day, hung the clothes of the infant Jesus upon it to dry. It had formerly been a very insignificant plant; but after receiving this honour, it became an evergreen and fragrant. According to Mr J. W. Crombie, an authority on Spanish folklore, it is believed that all the instruments of the Passion can be seen in its flower, and that it puts forth fresh blossoms every Friday, 'as if to embalm His holy body.' If a house be fumigated with it on the night of the Nativity, it is thought that no harm will come to that house the whole year through. Spanish peasants often wear it in their hats as a protection against witches and dangers in travelling. The practice of wearing rosemary in the hat is doubtless connected with the widespread and long-standing belief in the efficacy ot the plant as a medicine for the head and brain and for the nerves generally. Edgar, in King Lear, describes how the 'Bedlam beggars

Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary.

The following curious prescription for a headache is given in an old Collection of Receipts in Cookery, Physick, and Surgery (1759): 'Dry rosemary before the fire till 'twill crumble to a very fine powder; one pugil (handful) of saffron; and with the powder of rosemary and saffron make the yolk of an egg into a stiff poultis, and lay it as hot as you can endure it to the temples.' The oil of rosemary made from the leaves of the plant is the principal ingredient in the perfume called Hungary Water, which was formerly taken very generally to quiet the nerves. The oil is still extensively used in various preparations for the hair and head. The leaves on their under part are covered with a short whitish gray down, as if dashed with sea-spray, and it is from this fanciful resemblance that the plant is supposed to derive its name, which simply means seadew (rosmarinus).

Rosemary is often given internally in cases of chronic diarrhoea, and is also a common country remedy for coughs and colds. Lyte, in his Dodoens (1578), recommends rosemary for fastening loose teeth ; while another writer of the same period, Andrew Borde, in his Dyetary of Healthe, gives it as a remedy for 'palsies and for the falFynge syckenes, and for the cowghe, and good against colde.' The Plague raged in London in 1603, and so greatly was the demand for flowers and herbs affected thereby, that, as Dekker tells us, rosemary which had usually been sold for twelvepence an armful, was then not to be bought under six shillings a handful. In Yorkshire and Lancashire, and probably in other country districts, there is a saying that rosemary only grows in the gardens of houses where the goodwife 'wears the breeches.' The same is said in Shropshire of parsley. Yorkshire folk also say that mint, on the other hand, will not grow in the gardens of the henpecked.

In the old-time Christmas function of bringing in the boar's head, rosemary always formed part of the coronal of the stately dish that was ceremoniously borne to the table with musical accompaniment quaint and solemn. Scott describes the custom, with many other old Christmas observances, in the introduction to the sixth canto of Marmion. The ancient ceremony is still carefully

performed every Christmas Day in the hall of Queen's College, Oxford, to the accompaniment of the old carol:

The boar's head in hand bear I,
Bedecked with bays and rosemary;
And I pray you, my masters, be merry,
Quot estis in convivio.
Chamber's journal of popular literature, science and arts
By William Chambers, Robert Chambers


The boar's head in hand I bear,

Bedecked with bays and rosemary,

And I pray you my masters, " be merry."

Old Carol.

There's rosemary for you, that's for remembrance; Pray you, love, remember.

Shakespeare, Hamlet.

The rosemary may be called a versatile flower. It has been associated with life and death, with joy and sorrow. It has decorated with its luxuriant foliage the garden walls of proud Hampton Court, and has thriven in many a kitchen garden. It belongs to the mint family and was accorded a most honorable place among the ancients. The Latin calls it rosamarius, meaning dew of the sea, because it grows so luxuriantly near the seashore and also because the foliage has a silvery appearance as if covered with dew. It is said that the gray bushes along the rocky coasts of France and Italy well warrant the name. It was also called Mary's rose and was an emblem of the Virgin. The Greeks and Romans made garlands of it with which they crowned the guests of honor at their feasts. They also burned it as incense at many of their religious ceremonies. During the Palilia, or Shepherd's Festival, which was held in April to celebrate the founding of Rome by the shepherds and husbandmen, rosemary and laurel in large quantities were burned that the smoke might purify the sacred groves and fountains from unintentional pollution by the flocks and herds. It was one of the herbs used by the Romans in embalming their dead and its evergreen leaves symbolized to them the immortality of the soul. When they invaded Briton they brought with them many of their old rites and superstitions, and this may account for its popularity as a funeral emblem. Until comparatively recently in many parts of rural England it was strewn upon the coffin and sprays of rosemary were distributed to all those who attended the service that they might be cast into the grave as a final ceremony, emblematic of the life to come.

One of the most pathetic incidents connected with the funeral of Princess Alice of Hesse was when a poor old peasant woman of the Odenwald timidly laid her little wreath of rosemary beside the rare and costly flowers that covered the casket. In spite of its association with the dead, as an emblem of memory and faithfulness the rosemary was in great demand as a bridal flower. Herrick refers to its double use when he said:

Grow for two ends, it matters not at all,
Be't for my bridal or my burial.

It was customary for the bride to wear several sprays twined in her bridal wreath by some member of her family, to silently remind her to take with her to her new home memories of the dear old roof-tree and the loving hearts she was leaving behind. It was a token of gladness as well as of the dignity of the marriage sacrament. The bridal bed was decked with its sprays. The young men and maidens who attended the happy couple all wore or carried sprigs of rosemary, but it was to be borne in the heart as well as in the hand. Mystically it was thought to strengthen both the memory and the heart and to signify love and loyalty. In an old play is found the question: "Was the rosemary dipped?" This refers to the custom of dipping a spray in the wine cup before drinking to the bridal couple.

In Miss Strickland's description of the wedding of the unfortunate Anne of Cleves to Henry VIII, it is said that the Queen wore a coronet of gold and gems in which was fastened a spray of rosemary, "that herb of grace which was worn by maidens both at weddings and funerals."

At his first appearance on his wedding day the bridegroom was presented by the bridesmaids with a bunch of rosemary tied with white satin ribband, indicating the authority of the bride in the household. Wherever the plant grew in the garden, in that house it was a common saying that the "Mistress was master," or as another proverb expresses it, "Where rosemary flourishes in the garden, the gray mare is the better horse." This superstition may account for the fact that the plant is not now so prominent a feature in gardens as it used to be.

The following charm was said to be very potent: On the eve of St. Magdalene three maidens all under twenty-one must be gathered in the bed chamber of one of the number and together must prepare a mixture of wine, vinegar, and water in a ground glass vessel. Each maid must take three sips of the liquid, into which she must dip a spray of rosemary to be placed in her bosom. They must then all go silently to sleep in the same bed. One spoken word will break the charm. If the conditions were carefully complied with the dream of each, it was said, would reveal her fate.

Among the early Britons the herb was held to be of great importance in the observance of Christmas. The wassail bowl, which was passed around the banqueting hall, was wreathed, the night before, with rosemary, and the boar's head, the first dish to be served on Christmas day, and which was carried» with great state to the central table, was trimmed with the same plant. The association with Christmas may have been suggested by an old Spanish tradition that when the Mother was escaping with the Child Jesus from Herod's soldiers, some of the plants among which they passed rustled and crackled, thus betraying the travelers; but a tall rosemary bush stretched out its branches like arms

and the Mother and Child found refuge in its thick foliage. There is also a legend that the linen and little frocks of the Holy Child were spread upon a rosemary bush to dry. When the Virgin came to get them she found she had hung them upon a sunbeam. Thus it became Mary's rose and was thought to bring peace and good will to every family who numbered it among their Christmas adornments.

The plant was cultivated extensively throughout England in the monastic gardens on account of its curative properties. It was said to be beneficial for all disorders of the liver and for convulsions from any cause. A liniment was made from it that was used for gout. Mixed with honey it was in demand for bronchial troubles.

Cervantes tells a story that a young man was once bitten by dogs at a gipsy camp. The Queen took hairs from the dogs, fried them in oil, and laid the product on the wound. Next she laid on green rosemary, which she had chewed to a pulp, and then binding up the leg with cloth, she made the sign of the cross over the bite, and a quick cure was the result.

Timbs says that rosemary water was called "the bath of life."

In some verses, which are known as The Bride's Good Morrow, its use at marriage is pictured:

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 attend,
Unto the church to make an end,

And God make thee a joyful wife.

In contrast, Gray sets out in rhyme the funeral custom:

To show their love the neighbors far and near, Followed with wistful look the damsel's bier. Sprigged rosemary the lads and lassies bore, While dismally the parson walked before.

Briesly, in his Chronicles, thus vividly described the scene at the burial of a huntsman, whose fellows attended with the dogs:

The old huntsmen gathered round the grave in a solid ring, each holding his dog by the slip, and when the final ashes to ashes, dust to dust was pronounced, the whole strewed their sprigs of rosemary over the coffin, then raising their heads, gave a simultaneous "Yaho! tally-ho!" the sound of which became heightened by the dogs joining their voices -as they rung the last cry over their earthed companion.

In old days the rosemary was sometimes called guard robe, because it was strewn in chests of clothing to keep out the moths.

After the great division in the church the names of many plants were changed in the hope of obliterating the scientific and medical knowledge of the monks. But the name of this flower was too sacred to be taken away.

The Italians recommended it for the preservation of youth and to strengthen the memory, and there was an old belief that if it was used in the bath it would impart gaiety and sprightliness. Young women considered it very effective in the removal of freckles.

In Hungary a medicinal water is distilled from the plant which is esteemed as a remedy for nervous troubles. A fine aromatic oil is obtained from it in America and England which is of value in manufacturing perfumes. The plant is also cultivated for the use of the bees, the honey extracted from it being of an excellent quality.

The fairies, too, claim an interest in the rosemary. In Scandinavia it is called ellegritn, which means elfin plant. It is said that the little elves hide in its branches when they are having their frolics, or when they are caught in a storm. There is no plant that the Italian and Spanish fairies care more for. In fact, with all fairies it is really quite a national flower, and the reason is that it hides and protects them under all circumstances.

Once upon a time there was a Queen who was very unhappy because she had no children. As she was walking in her garden she saw a beautiful rosemary bush and she wept bitterly, saying, " Even this plant has branches and blossoms, while I who long for a child have none." The next morning when she awoke she was surprised to see the plant by her bedside. She had it potted and cared for it herself, spraying it with milk several times a day. Her nephew, who was King of Spain, came to visit her, and noticing what care she took of it imagined that it must be something very rare, so he stole it and took it with him when he returned to his kingdom. One day when he was playing on the flute he was astonished to see a beautiful Princess emerge from the bush. He was so startled that he dropped his flute, and the maiden disappeared. The King was very unhappy for he had immediately fallen desperately in love with his beautiful visitor. Being called by state affairs, he entrusted his precious plant to the special custody of his head gardener, with instructions to guard it most securely. His sisters were in the garden one day and amused themselves by playing on his flute. Again the beautiful young girl stepped out of the rosemary bush. The sisters, who were jealous of her beauty and regarded her as an intruder, struck her. From that time the plant began to droop and wither. The gardener, fearing the anger of the King, fled into the wood, and at midnight he overheard two dragons talking to each other. In the course of the conversation one dragon remarked that the rosemary could only be restored by sprinkling it with dragon's blood. When the man heard this he immediately attacked and killed them, and taking some of the blood poured it on the roots of the plant, thereby breaking the spell and bringing to life the Princess Rosa Maria, who had been invisibly chained by an enchantment, which could only be interrupted by the music from a flute. The King soon came back and they were married with great splendor and lived happily ever after.

The rosemary has had a place in literature in both ancient and modern times. The early English writers especially make numerous references to it. Chaucer and Spenser both allude to its popularity. Shakespeare makes use of it in several of his plays, which show a familiarity with its traditions. Drayton, in his quaint language, has much to say about the flower. Herrick and Gay have both given it an honored place among their floral symbols. Shenstone expresses indignation at the disrespect shown to the rosemary in modern times, while Tom Moore sings of it in mournful strains.

Come funeral flower! sweet-scented flower,
Come press my lips, and lie with me
Beneath the lovely alder tree,
And we will sleep a pleasant sleep,
And not a care shall dare intrude,
To break the marble solitude,
So peaceful and so deep.

Henry Kirke Whitej

To the Herb Rosemary.

Flower lore and legend
By Katharine McMillan Beals