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THE VERVAIN, A DRUIDICAL CHARM.
The Vervain was one of the sacred plants of the Druids, who observed many peculiar rites at its gathering. After libations of honey had been poured forth, it was gathered with much solemn ceremony at the rising of the dog-star, when neither sun nor moon looked upon it. In digging it up, the left hand only was used. It was then waved aloft, and the leaves, stalk, and root dried separately in the shade. It is described in their mystical writings as “ cheerful, placid vervain, which has been borne aloft and kept apart from the moon.” Thus prepared, it was considered an antidote to many diseases, and, above all, it was a charm to conciliate friendship.
There are fairer flowers that bloom on the lea,
And give out their fragrant scent to the gale; But the vervain, with charmed leaf, shall be
The plant of our choosing, though scentless and pale.
For, wrapp'd in the veil of thy lowly flower,
They say that a powerful influence dwells, And that, duly cull'd in the star-bright hour,
Thou bindest the heart by thy powerful spells.
We will plant thee beneath our sheltering tree,
In our bow'r we will bid thy blossoms unfold; So faithful and firm may our friendships be,
So never may glowing hearts grow cold.
Pseudo-narcissus. Common daffodil.
Hexandria Monogynia. Sheath one-flowered. Nectary bell-shaped, upright, curled ;
as long as the petals. Petals egg-shaped, Bulb roundish. Leaves rather glaucous, bluntly keeled, fattish at the edge. Flower nodding, large, of an unpleasant scent. Germen with three grooves. Stalk twoedged. Petals straw-coloured. Nectary throughout of a full yellow; the rim a little plaited and snipt.Withering.
In the months of March and May, the hedgerows and coppices, in many parts of the country, are gay with the blossoms of the daffodil; and oftentimes you may trace the homeward path of the village children by these bright yellow flowers, which, one after another, have fallen from their hands, as they wandered
along, exhausted by the fatigues of their first spring rambles; and perhaps, like older children, weary of the treasures they were so anxious to obtain when they set out.
With this plant we have an association furnished by Shakspeare.
We may be allowed to add to this the plaintive dirge of one of our elder bards, who poured forth his strains in the spring-time of our poesy.
Root short, white within. Stem solid, one tenth to half an
inch high; thick as a crow or goose-quill. Pileus thin, cupped, rather elastic, but brittle ; deep carmine colour within, buffy underneath, with mealy granulations.Withering.
This is the P. epidendrá" of Bull and Sowerby. It is one of the most beautiful of the Fungus tribe, and is found, late in the autumn and very early in the spring, on decayed sticks, in woods and damp hedges, putting forth its crimson cups to receive the pelting of many a pitiless storm, while
66 As yet the trembling year is unconfirmed."