Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

sense.

basking. This love of warmth gives perhaps more peculiar than extensive. the point to the line (iii. 1) :

În “ Titus Andronicus” we find (see " That kiss is comfortless,

above) Tamora encouraging her sons to As frozen water to a starved snake." the unremunerative task of robbing The other allusion to snakes is in wasps of their honey, and later (v. 19

we read : Tamora's enumeration of the horrors which Lavinia and her husband were

" We'll follow where thou lead'st

Like stinging bees on hottest summer's day supposed to have prepared for her, “ a

Led by their master to the flower'd fields." thousand hissing snakes ;" and it is a coincidence that on the only other oc- Shakespeare had been reading translacasion that Shakespeare places a scene

tions of the classics in which are sugunder a “ mossy” tree, there should be gested both of the errors implied in the both beasts of prey and venomous rep- lines quoted. When Virgil or Ovid tiles beneath its shade. Tamora de- speaks of leading bees to flowered fields scribes the trees as “o'ercome with the poet refers to the practice in Southmoss,” and here are snakes and, so says

ern Europe, doubtless unknown to Aaron, a panther. In “ As You Like Shakespeare, of transporting whole It,” Oliver relates how, under a tree, farms of hives on large-decked boats whose boughs were mossed,” he be- from pasturage to pasturage, but is it held a snake and a lioness.

likely that the English dramatist, ad

dressing audiences of bee-keepers (for An insignificance, dear sir, no doubt, And yet not all significance without "

bee-keeping was, in those days, an almost

universal country practice) would speak The toad goes with the snake in every of “stinging" bees“ following their accumulation of horrors in Shakespeare, master," in a friendly spirit, and on the and is therefore found here (“ ten “ hottest summer's day,” too? Critics thousand swelling toads”), and not need hardly have discussed such nononly by direct mention but, as Shakes

The other error, which Shakespeare so very frequently employs it, by peare's audience shared with him, was suggestion.

that bees have a king. Pliny is delightThe venomous malice of my swelling heart,” ful on this theme, and Virgil has some says Aaron. So Pericles of the swelling arch of the hive, and it is this mistake,

charming references to the male monocean :

a sufficiently simple one, and not the “ Thou storm thou! venomously wilt thou other, obviously foolish, that Shakesspit all thyself ?”'

peare made. It was “the magister of But a more exact coincidence will be the hive," “ the master-bee,” that led found in “Henry VI.,” where Gloster them. Not the human owner of the speaks of

hive. Elsewhere, he makes the male " The envious malice of thy swelling heart,” bee produce honey, and calls the neu

ters, as every other poet does, she. to the Bishop of Winchester-the exact

There is a very striking passage in words of Aaron, except that “ venoinous” takes the place of “envious.” the subject. Shakespeare hated flies as

“ Titus Andronicus” of which a fly is Now Shakespeare uses the two words as heartily as Martin Luther-and essynonymous ("envenomed with his pecially their buzzing. So in this place, envy' in “Hamlet," and so forth), and where Titus affects a great indignation Envy when symbolized is the toad. My “deadly

standing eye" in the with his brother for killing a fy, and above passage is, of course, an allu- mother," it's “ gilded wings” and

talks pitifully of its poor "father and sion to that special favorite of Shakes-“ pretty buzzing melody,” Shakespeare peare, the basilisk-cockatrice, with the

means to show us Titus going mad. fatal,” “ killing, “ deadly,"

Give me thy knife,” he says to Mardering,” and “ death-darting" orb

cus, “I will insult on him," and he “ whose unavoided eye is murderous."

stabs the dead fly repeatedly. Shakespeare never pays much atten

Alas, poor man! grief has so wrought on tion to Insects. Nobody did in his

him, day. So the entomology of his plays is He takes false shadows for true substances,"

mur

says his brother, as Titus, having done but my argument, I venture to think, with the fly, rises to go. In another requires no further strengthening. part of the play (iv. 4) the Emperor, As a matter of fact, Shakespeare has complaining of the popular agitation in never yet been seriously approached on favor of the ill-used Andronici, says :

the side of his natural history.

His references to Nature in some depart"These disturbers of our peace ments have been catalogued, but there Buz in the people's ears"

has never been any intention hitherto to

establish the individuality or identity a frequent expression in Shakespeare of the man Shakespeare from his natand nearly always used in the same un- ural history, nor to study it as a whole complimentary sense to the fly as lying, with relation to the writer. It may be mischievous, or annoying.

a matter for surprise that it should have If I were to follow out all my notes been left for me, an unaccredited stufurther into the flora, the meteorology, dent of the Bard, and at the end of this the precious stones, and inanimate na- century, to look at Shakespeare from a ture generally, of the play, I could new point of view. But the fact reeasily treble the matter of this article, mains.—Contemporary Review.

DEFENCE NOT DEFIANCE.

WHEN “the great and good Lin- are more beautiful than our English næus” first saw gorse in blossom on furzes ; and an English moor, aglow Wimbledon Common, he fell on his with yellow gorse and on fire with purknees, says the veracious legend, and ple heather, is a lovelier sight than anythanked God audibly then and there for thing to be seen among the unvaried having created so glorious and unique a dark green of tropical forests. Morecombination of color and perfume. It over, the human race in these islands was a bright sunny day, no doubt, in owes much to those refulgent flowers ; early spring, and Wimbledon Common for we all know that “when the gorse must have been somewhat more pictur- is out of blossom, then is kissing out of esque

in Linnæus's time than in its ex- fashion ;” and the gorse has managed, isting suburban condition ; but even so, by flowering all the year round, to prethe act savors of the eighteenth century. vent inconvenience to many million pairs Let us frankly admit, between ourselves, of human lovers. Yet I cannot find 'twas just a trifle theatrical. It reminds that any historian of our flora has yet one of Gibbon on his own fat marrow- treated the benignant though prickly bones. The age of the Georges loved plant at proper length in any exhaustive these affected little displays of what it monograph. I propose, therefore, to called “sensibility." The traveller meet this felt want in the literature of fresh back from Abyssinia or New Hol- the subject by devoting a few pages of land was expected to go down upon all scientific gossip to the various kinds of fours on Portsmouth Bard in the rap gorse, their origin, development, and ture of his return, and kiss with fervor subsequent fortunes. the sacred soil of England. So Linnæus The life-history of the common furze may be excused for his too obtrusive is a singular and interesting one. In its gratitude, to the damage of his small- adult stage, as everybody knows who has clothes, on the ground that, after all, ever attempted to pick a flowering branch he just followed the fashion. A man of the bright golden bloom, it is conwho really meant it would have ab- spicuously and I will even venture to say stained, I fancy, from the overt act of unpleasantly prickly. But as the young falling on his knees, and if he thanked Nero refused with tears to sign a deathHeaven at all, would have thanked it warrant, and as Robespierre declined a silently.

judgeship rather than pass capital senOn the main point, however, I am at tence upon a fellow-creature, so the one with Linnæus. Few plants on earth

Few plants on earth many-spined gorse, which in its maturer

The pea,

years sheds your blood without pity, is Surrey, and on continental waysides, a in its infant stage as gentle and shrink- spiny variety for purposes of self-proing a plant as that pet of poets, the mod- tection. Only the thistle-loving donkey est violet. If you take a few little beans and the close-cropping goose can manage out of the ripe pods on a furze-bush to pick up an honest living anyhow on and bury them in a flower-pot, you will such pungent provender. find the tiny seedlings which sprout So the infant furze-bush recapitulates from the seeds are entirely ungorselike. for us in full the whole history of the They have broad and flattened trefoil origin and development of its species. leaves-in point of fact they are essen- For when the little beans begin to tially clovers. You may observe similar sprout, the first things to appear above trefoil leaves on adult bushes of the ground are two simple round seedpretty yellow genista so commonly cul. leaves. These represent for us the tivated in conservatories and window. fundamental common ancestor of the gardens. Young gorse-plants when they whole tribe of pea-blossoms; no matter first come up are to all intents and pur- which of them you sow, you will find poses in the genista stage ; it is only as the earliest stage consists invariably of they grow up and begin to realize their these two round seed-leaves. proper position in life as furze bushes, the bean, the furze-bush, the laburnum, that they set about developing their the wisteria (which young ladies will murderous spines and prickles.

call “westaria"), the tiny clover, and Why is this? Well, the young plant the huge American acacia or locust-tree, and the young animal often recapitulate all alike belong to this single family, to some extent the evolutionary history readily distinguished from all others by of their race and species. Thus the com- its butterfly-winged flowers, and all bemon frog begins life as a tadpole, which gin life, from Alaska to Australia, with is essentially a fish with gills and swim- the self-same pair of simple round seedming organs; while he ends it as a frog, leaves. But next after the round leaves which is essentially a reptile, breathing in the seedling gorse come three or four by means of lungs, and hopping on all little hairy trefoils, like those of clover fours on terra firma. So too the human or laburnum on a smaller scale ; and embryo in its earliest stage exhibits gill. this second type of foliage is a reminlike slits like a fish's ; and, later on, re- iscence of the time when the ancessembles roughly at various times the tors of furze were simple trefoil bearing reptile, the lower mammals, and the an- bushes exactly resembling the greencestral monkey. Now the progenitors house genista. Above the clover-like of gorse were soft and innocent shrubs leaves again, the seedling begins to put with trefoil leaves, like clover or genista; forth single narrow blades, but flattened but as they grew for the most part on and leaf-like, not round and prickly very open stretches of down or moor- as in the older bushes. Gradually, as land, they were exposed to be eaten the plant increases in stature and wisdown by deer and rabbits, sheep, cattle, dom, it learns to produce stiffer and and horses. Under these circumstances, more conical leaves, which pass by deonly the prickliest and thorniest among grees into thorns or prickles. In the them stood a chance of surviving ; and, adult state, all the branches end in a indeed, you may observe that almost all stout spine, and the leaves being also the vegetation on our English commons spiny, it requires the eye and the faith is well defended by sharp spines against of a trained botanist to distinguish bethe attacks of herbivores. Waste lands tween them. But the seedling shoots in Britain are overgrown with brambles, still give us the history of gorse and its blackthorn, junipers, and furze-bushes ; evolution in brief ; they supply for us while even the smaller plants, like every intermediate stage from the pretty butcher's broom and carline, trefoil through the narrow flat leaf, offensively prickly. Nay, more : the growing rounder and sharper as the pretty little rest-harrow, with its dainty stem mounts upward, to the murderous purple pea blossoms, which is commonly prickles of the full-grown furze-bush. unarmed in fields and meadows, has de- Our common English broom, which veloped on the commons of Kent and I earnestly trust all readers of this Mag

are

azine can distinguish for themselves plant, continually exposed on open from furze or gorse, preserves for us in plains or hills to the attacks of browsing fuller detail certain intermediate stages herbivores. Like the licensed victualin this evolutionary history. For in lers, it takes for its motto “ Defence not broom, most of the foliage is trefoil Defiance." It sacrifices the advantages throughout; but the upper branches of a broad flat leaf, and puts up with have often solitary leaves, flat and nar- the discomfort of small pointed narrow row like the intermediate form on the ones, because it finds protection against gorse-bush. This last is also the com- enemies is more important for a shrub monest type in most species of genistas. which occupies its station in life than We may therefore say that gorse begins expanded feeding-surface. Appetite life as a generalized or undifferentiated would naturally lead it to have leaves pea-flower ; next, passes through a con- like a laburnum ; necessity compels it dition analogous to that of the trefoil- to clothe itself instead in short and bearing greenhouse genista ; afterward stubbly prickles. You may regard it, resembles its unarmed ally, the English in fact, as a sort of vegetable hedgebroom ; and finally develops its own hog—a bristling plant- porcupine. Like characteristic and specific features as a the mediaval baron in his hill-top fully armed furze-bush. Only, the stronghold, gorse is more intent upon stages which occupy the broom for the the problem of defence than upon the whole of its lifetime are telescoped, as it gratification of a native love for air and were, in the gorse into the first three sunshine, food and drink in abundance. weeks of its infant existence.

If you look at a gorse-bush in sumLeaves are the mouths and stomachs mer or winter, you will observe at once of plants. Their business is to drink that it is green all over. The short in the floating carbonic acid of the air, spiky branches are very much the same and to digest it, under the influence of in color and texture as the short spiky sunlight, so as to turn it from inorganic leaves which grow threateningly out into organic matter. Now, if you im- from them. That is to say, the plant agine yourself a plant for a moment, makes up for the want of flat and exyou must see at once that by far the panded foliage by utilizing the branches most convenient and natural form for as subsidiary digestive organs. Every your leaves to assume, under ordinary part alike is engaged in drinking in circumstances, is that of a flat extended the floating carbonic acid ; every part blade, as in the oak, the beech, the alike is full of green chlorophyli-the bean, or the lily. This shape clearly active agent of plant digestion. Both allows the greatest possible develop- in leaves and branches, when the sunment of absorptive surface; it gives light falls upon them, the process of plenty of room for thousands of the assimilation goes on uninterruptedly. tiny mouths or stomata-microscopic Thus gorse makes up in the number throats, guarded by miniature lips, and intricacy of its busy green spikes which open in fit weather and suck in for the lack of any large and expanded whatever particles of carbonic acid may drinking-surface. To put it briefly, it happen to pass their way. It also is mouth and stomach all over. affords a broad expanse

of

About its second or third year, the for the sunlight to fall upon, and so to young furze-bush begins to blossom. effect that disintegration of the ele- Apparertly, to the unobservant eye of ments of carbonic acid which is the the ordinary townsman, it proceeds to prime function of vegetable life. So flower thenceforth all the year round obviously sensible and useful is this flat without any interruption. In reality, form of leaf that no plant in its right however, it does nothing of the sort. mind ever dreams of discarding it ex. And bere I will venture to expound to cept for some good and sufficient reason. you why it is that gorse is never out of

And such good and sufficient reason blossom, and kissing accordingly never the furze-bush has for rejecting and dis- out of fashion. The fact is, there are carding it. Gorse is no fool , it knows in England two distinct species of its own business. It has found out ex- furze, superficially indistinguishable to actly what tactics suit a north-European the unlearned eye, but quite well marked

green cells

when once the difference between them Confining ourselves for the present has been pointed out to you.

The first to the great winter gorse, we may nois the great or winter gorse, with pale tice for ourselves on any heath or comyellow flowers. This is a tall and mon that it is a tall, stout bush, five or bushy shrub, very woody at the base, six feet in height, and ferociously and covered all over with soft down or prickly. By origin, it is entirely a hair, especially on the bark of the west-European plant, extending from larger branches. It begins to blossom Ireland to central Germany ; but it can in early autumn, straggles on as best it stand neither extreme heat nor extreme may through the winter season, puts cold; it hardly extends to the highout fresh masses of bloom on every lands of Scotland, and is unknown in sunny day in December and January, Scandinavia-else how should we have and continues on through spring or that pretty legend of Linnæus ? But early summer. Indeed, one may see it on the other hand it never reaches the in the depth of winter with hoar-frost Mediterranean region, where its place coating its bold yellow blossoms. The is taken by prickly genistas and other second kind is the dwarf or summer southern pea flowers. Heat bakes it, gorse-a much smaller plant, less bushy cold chills it ; it loves the intermediate and more creeping ; it has fewer hairs climate of Britain and Belgium. In and brighter green leaves ; its flowers one word, the greater gorse is a specialare smaller, of a deeper golden yellow, ized form well adapted to survive on and it likewise differs in certain techni- the open and defenceless moors of cal points about the calyx and bracts north-western Europe. For that world which the natural benevolence of my it was developed ; in that world alone character prevents me from inflicting does it thrive and maintain itself. As on unbotanical readers. This smaller usual, however, let it defend itself as it species begins to flower in early sum- may, man has found out a plan to utilmer, just about the time when the ize it as fodder for his own purposes. greater gorse leaves off, and it contin- Sheep-farmers burn it down to the ues in blossom through July, August, ground, when its stems become too high and September, till the greater gorse is and woody. The plant then sends up ready to start again. The one plant green succulent shoots from the uninblooms from October till May, the jured root-stock ; and these shoots, other takes up the running from May though already somewhat coarse and till October.

prickly, are eaten by sheep in default Thus it comes about that gorse of of better forage. one kind or another is never out of blos- As autumn comes on, the great gorse som. Careless observers, not distin- prepares itself for its flowering season. guishing between these two allied but If you examine the boughs in October, distinct species, have come to the con- you will find them thickly covered with clusion that one and the same plant is tiny brown buds in all stages of developperpetually in flower. This is the less ment. Some are just ready to open ; to be wondered at as the two often grow others are still in the first wee pin-head together over miles of waste land on stage of their existence. The plant heaths and commons. But their effect arranges things so of set purpose. It when in flower is really very different: wishes to flower from time to time the great gorse has its pale yellow blos- through the winter season ; and it gradsoms scattered irregularly in patches uates its buds so that some will be in a on the round top of the bushes ; the fit state to take advantage of every fine dwarf summer gorse,

the other spell in the frostiest weather. Why it hand, has them arranged in close, up- should choose this curious time for flowright spikes, very thick and regular. ering I will point out a little later ; for The larger sort makes the more effec- the present it will be enough to call attive masses on a big scale in the land- tention to the fact that due provision is scape ; the smaller looks daintier and made beforehand for a long blossoming prettier on a very close view, especially season. The buds, as I mentioned just when intermixed, as it often is, with now, are brown and velvety ; and the ling and Scotch heather.

brownness is due to the numerous little

on

« ZurückWeiter »