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basket-work. The common, or white willow, salir alba, takes its specific name from the white silken surface of the leaves on the under side. The bark is used to tan leather, and to dye yarn of a cinnamon colour. It is one of the trees to which the necessitous Kamtschatdales are often obliged to recur for their daily bread, which they make of the inner bark, ground into flour. The bark of this willow has in some cases been found a good substitute for the Peruvian bark. The grey willow, or sallow, salia cinerea, grows from six to twelve feet high. In many parts of England, children gather the flowering branches of this tree on Palm Sunday, and call them palms. With the bark, the inhabitants of the Highlands and the Hebrides tan leather. The wood, which is soft, white, and flexible, is made into handles for hatchets, spades, &c. It also furnishes shoemakers with their cutting-boards, and whettingboards to smooth the edges of their knives upon.
*. weeping willow, salir Babylonica, a native of the Levant, was not cultivated in this country till 1730. This tree, with its long, slender, pendulous branches, is one of the most elegant ornaments of English scenery. The situation which it affects, also, on the margins of brooks or rivers, increases its beauty; like Narcissus, it often seems to bend over the water for the purpose of admiring the reflection:—
“Shadowy trees, that lean So elegantly o'er the water's brim.”
There is a fine weeping willow in a garden near the Paddington end of the New Road, and a most magnificent one, also, in a garden on the banks of the Thames, just before Richmond-bridge, on the Richmond side of the river. Several of the arms of this tree are so large, that one of them would in itself form a fine tree. They are propped by a number of stout poles; and the tree appears in a flourishing condition. If that tree be, as it is said, no more than ninety-five years old, the quickness of its growth is indeed astonishing. Martyn relates an interesting anecdote, which he gives on the authority of the St. James's Chronicle, for August, 1801: “The famous and admired weeping willow planted by Pope, which has lately been felled to the ground, came from Spain, enclosing a present for lady Suf.
folk. Mr. Pope was in company when the covering was taken off; he observed that the pieces of stick appeared as if they had some vegetation; and added, ‘Perhaps they may produce something we have not in England.’ Under this idea, he planted it in his garden, and it p. the willow-tree that has given irth to so many others.” It is said, that the destruction of this tree was caused by the eager curiosity of the admirers of the poet, who, by their numbers, so disturbed the quiet and fatigued the patience of the possessor, with applications to be permitted to see this precious relic, that to put an end to the trouble at once and for ever, she gave orders that it should be felled to the ground.
The weeping willow, in addition to the pensive, drooping appearance of its branches, weeps little drops of water, which stand like fallen tears upon the leaves. It will grow in any but a dry soil, but most delights, and best thrives, in the immediate neighbourhood of water. The willow, in poetical language, como introduces a stream, or a forsaken over :
Fletcher, a young girl, who loses her wit with hopeless love for Palamon—
Nothing but “Willow ! willow ! willow !" and between
Ever was “Palamon, fair Palamon ''"
Herrick thus addresses the willow-tree:
“Thou art to all lost love the best,
“When once the lover’s rose is dead,
." When with neglect, the lover's bane,
“And underneath thy cooling shade,
This poet has some lines addressed to a willow garland also:—
“A willow garland thou didst send Perfumed, last day, to me; Which did but only this portend, I was forsook by thee.
“Since it is so, I'll tell thee what;
“As beasts unto the altars go
The willow seems, from the oldest times, to have been dedicated to grief; under them the children of Israel lamented their captivity:-" By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion: we hanged out hap: upon the willows in the midst thereof.”*
The wicker-baskets made by our forefathers are the subject of an epigram by Martial :—
“From Britain's painted sons I came,
It is worthy to be recollected, that some of the smallest trees known are wil
* The Psalmns.
lows; nay, the smallest tree known, without any exception. The herbaceous willow, salia herbacea, is seldom higher than three inches, sometimes not more than two; and yet it is in every respect a tree, notwithstanding the name herbaceous, which, as it has been observed, is inappropriate. Dr. Clarke says, in his “Travels in Norway,” “We soon recognised some of our old Lapland acquaintances, such as Betula nana, with its minute leaves, like silver pennies; mountain-birch; and the dwarf alpine species of willow: of which half a dozen trees, with all their branches, leaves, flowers, and roots, might be compressed within two of the pages of a lady's pocket-book, without coming into contact with each other. After our return to England, specimens of the salir herbacea were given to our friends, which, when framed and glazed, had the appearance of miniature drawings. The author, in collecting them for his herbiary, has frequently compressed twenty of these trees between two of the pages of a duodecimo volume.” Yet in the great northern forests, Dr. Clarke found a species of willow “that would make a splendid ornament in our English shrubberies, owing to its quick growth, and beautiful appearance. It had much more the appearance of an orange than of a willow-tree, its large luxuriant leaves being of the most vivid green colour, splendidly shining. We believed it to be a variety of salir amygdalina, but it may be a distinct species : it principally flourishes in Westro Bothnia, and we never saw it elsewhere.” So much, and more than is here quoted, respecting the willow, has been gathered by the fair authoress of Sylvan Sketches. In conclusion, be it observed, that the common willow is in common language sometimes called the sallow, and under that name it is mentioned by Chaucer:—
His name stands in the church of Engiand calendar. He suffered martyrdom at Roine, under Valerian. Mr. Audley relates of St. Lawrence, “that being peculiarly obnoxious, the order for his punishment was, ‘Bring out the grate of iron; and when it is red hot, on with him, roast him, brail him, turn him ; upon pain of our high displeasure, do every man his office, O ye tormentors.’ These orders were obeyed, and after Lawrence had been pressed down with fire-forks for a long time, he said to the tyrant, ‘This side is now roasted enough; O tyrant, do you think roasted meat or raw the best ?’ Soon after he had said this he expired. The church of St. Lawrence Jewry, in London, is dedicated to him, and has a E. on the steeple for a vane, that
ing generally supposed the instrument of his torture. The ingenious Mr. Robinson, in his “ Ecclesiastical Researches,” speaking about this saint, says, “Philip II. of Spain, having won a battle on the 10th of August, the festival of St. Lawrence, vowed to consecrate a PALAce, a Church, and a 'Mon Astery to his honour. He did erect the Escuri AL, which is the largest Palace in Europe. This immense quarry consists of several courts and quadrangles, all disposed in the shape of a GRidiron. The bars form several courts; and the Royal Family occupy the HANDLE.’ ‘ Gridirons,’ says one, who examined it, “are met with in every part of the building. There are sculptured gridirons, iron gridirons, painted gridirons, marble gridirons, &c. &c. There are gridirons over the doors, gridirons in the yards, gridirons in the windows, gridirons in the galleries. Never was an instrument of martyrdom so multiplied, so honoured, so celebrated: and thus much for gridirons.”
On the 10th of August, 1575, Peter Bales, one of our earliest and most eminent writing-masters, finished a performance which contained the Lord's prayer, the creed, the decalogue, with two short prayers in Latin, his own name, motto, the day of the month, year of our Lord, and reign of the queen, (Elizabeth,) to whom he afterwards presented it at Hampton-court, all within the circle of
* Companion to the Almanac,
a single penny, enchased in a ring with borders J. and covered with a crystal, so accurately wrought, as to be plainly legible, to the great admiration of her majesty, her ministers, and several ambassadors at court. In 1590, Bales kept a school at the upper end of the Old Bailey, and the same year published his “Writing SchoolMaster.” In 1595, he had a trial of skill in writing with a Mr. Daniel (David) Johnson, for a “golden pen” of £20 value, and won it. Upon this victory, his contemporary and rival in penmanship, John Davies, made a satirical, illnatured epigram, intimating that penury continually compelled Bales to remove himself and his “golden pen,” to elude the pursuit of his creditors. The particulars of the contest for the pen, supposed to be written by Bales himself, are in the British Museum, dated January 1, 1596. So much concerning Peter Bales is derived from the late Mr. Butler's “Chronological Exercises,” an excellent arrangement of biographical, historical, and miscellaneous facts for the daily use of young ladies. Peter Bales according to Mr. D’ Israeli, “astonished the eyes of beholders by showing them what they could not see.” He cites a narrative, among the Harleian MSS., of “a rare piece of work brought to pass by Peter Bales, an Englishman, and a clerk of the chancery.” Mr. D'Israeli presumes this to have been the whole Bible, “in an English walnut no bigger than a hen's egg. The nut holdeth the book: there are as many leaves in his little book as the great Bible, and he hath written as much in one of his little leaves, as a great leaf of the Bible.” This wonderfully unreadable copy of the Bible was “seen by many thousands.” . . Peter Huet, the celebrated bishop of Avranches, long doubted the story of an eminent writing-master having comprised “ the Iliad in a nut-shell,” but, after trifling half an hour in examining the matter, he thought it possible. One day, in company at the dauphin's, with a piece of aper and a common pen, he demonstrated, that a piece of vellum, about ten inches in length, and eight in width, pliant and firm, can be folded up, and enclosed in the shell of a large walnut; that in breadth it can contain one line of thirty verses, so written with a crow.quill, and in length two hundred and fifty lines; that one side will then contain seven thousand five hundred verses, the other side as much, and that therefore the piece of vellum will hold the whole fifteen thousand verses of the Iliad.
The writing match between Peter Bales and David Johnson, mentioned by Mr. Butler, “was only traditionally known, till, with my own eyes,” says Mr. D' Israeli, “I pondered on this whole trial of skill in the precious manuscript of the champion himself; who, like Caesar, not only knew how to win victories, but also to record them.” Johnson for a whole year gave a public challenge, “To any one who should take exceptions to this my writing and teaching.” Bales was inagnanimously silent, till he discovered that since this challenge was proclaimed, he “was doing much less in writing and teaching.” Bales then sent forth a challenge, “To all Englishmen and strangers,” to write for a gold so of twenty pounds value, in all kinds of hands, “best, straightest, and fastest,” and most kind of ways; “a full, a mean, a small, with line and without line; in a slow-set hand, a mean facile hand, and a fast running hand;” and further, “ to write truest and speediest, most secretary and clerk-like, from a man's mouth, reading or pronouncing, either English or Latin.” Within an hour, Johnson, though a young friend of Bales, accepted the challenge, and accused the veteran of arrogance. “Such an absolute challenge,” says he, “was never witnessed by man, without exception of any in the world !” Johnson, a few days i. met Bales, and showed him a piece of “secretary's hand,” which he had written on fine parchment, and said, “Mr. Bales, give me one shilling out of your purse, and, if within six months you better or equal this piece of writing, I will give you forty pounds for it." Bales accepted the shilling, and the parties were thereby bound over to the trial of skill. The day before it took place, a printed paper posted through the city taunted Bales's “proud poverty,” and his pecuniary motives as “ungentle, base, and mercenary, not answerable to the dignity of the golden pen!” Johnson declared that he would maintain his challenge for a thousand pounds more, but that Bales was unable to make good a thousand groats. Bales retorted by af. firming the paper a sign of his rival's weakness, “yet who so bold,” says Bales, “as blind Bayard, that hath not a word
of Latin to cast at a dog, or say “Bo!" to a goose!” The goose was mentioned, perhaps, in allusion to Michaelmas-day, 1595, when the trial commenced before five judges; an “ancient gentleman" was intrusted with “ the golden pen.” The first trial was for the manner of teaching scholars; this terminated in favour of Bales. The second, for secretary and clerk-like writing, dictated in English and in Latin, was also awarded to Bales; Johnson confessing that he wanted the Latin tongue, and was no clerk. On the third and last trial, for fair writing in sundry kinds of hands, Johnson prevailed in beauty and most “authentic proportion,” and for superior variety of the Roman hand; but in court-hand, and set-text, Bales exceeded, and in bastard secretary was somewhat perfecter than Johnson. For a finishing blow, Bales drew forth his “master-piece,” and, offering to forego his previous advantages is Johnson could better this specimen, his antagonist was struck dumb. In compassion to the youth of Johnson, some of the judges urged the others not to give judgment in public. Bales remonstrated against a private decision in vain, but he obtained the verdict and secured the prize. Johnson, however, reported that he had won the golden pen, and issued an “Appo to all impartial Penmen,” wherein affirmed, that the judges, though his own friends, and honest gentlemen, were unskilled in judging of most hands, and again offered forty pounds to be allowed six months to equal Bales's “masterpiece.” Finally, he alleged, that the judges did not deny that Bales possessed himself of the golden pen by a trick: he relates, that Bales having pretended that his wife was in extreme sickness, he desired that she might have a sight of the golden pen, to comfort her, that the “ancient gentleman,” relying upon the kind husband's word, allowed the golden pen to be carried to her, and that thereupon Bales immediately pawned it, and afterwards, to make sure work, sold it at a great loss, so that the judges, ashamed of their own conduct, were compelled to give such a verdict as suited the occasion. Bales rejoined, by o: to the universe the day and hour when the judges brought the golden pen to his house, and painted it with a hand over his door for a sign.” This is shortly the history of a
* Mr. D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature