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life for the dying, and declared he should make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem with a palm branch in his hand. At another time, in the same journey, when they came up to an orange-tree in charge of a blind man, Mary asked him to spare an orange for her thirsty child; the man gave her three—one for Jesus, another for Joseph, and the third for herself. Then the blind man received his sight.
The Weeping Willow was believed, in early Christian days, to have wept since the time when its twigs were used to inflict stripes on the Saviour, whose Crown of Thorns gave rise to these lines on the Hawthorn :—
“The Hawthorn's knotted branches frown,
Of the Holm Oak, this legend is related:—“When it was decided at Jerusalem to crucify Christ, all the trees met, and unanimously vowed not to allow their wood to be made the instrument of shame. But there was also a Judas among the trees. When the Jews came with axes to cut the Cross destined for Jesus, all the trunks broke into a thousand little pieces, so that it was impossible to utilise them for the Cross. The holm oak alone remained standing quite whole, and gave up its trunk for the bad purpose. This is why Ionian woodmen are afraid to tarnish their axes by touching this cursed tree. Such is the fate of many benefactors in this world; but Jesus Himself did not share this bad opinion of the tree. He seems, on the contrary, to have shown a preference for the generous tree, which, in dying with Him, shared the fate of the Redeemer. We are told that the Christ showed Himself most frequently to the saints near a holm oak.
Cameron states that, in the Highlands, the Aspen-tree (Gaelic critheann—trembling) is believed to be the wood of which the Cross was made ; hence, its leaves have trembled ever since. The Elder has been popularly taken for the tree on which Judas hung himself—a tradition Shakespeare mentions in Love's Labour's Lost.
The Rose, the flower of Venus, has become, under Christianity, the flower of the Virgin Mary; thus, it has long been the custom for the Popes to send every year a golden rose to the most pious of Christian princes; and the Rosary itself, on which pious women count their prayers, is said to have got its name from the red hips of the dog-rose, which formed the original beads. The traditions regarding Mahomet give some prominence to certain trees. The rose is said to have sprung up out of the sweat he dropped on the ground in an agony of prayer. And, at the hour of his death, he is represented as inhaling the sweet odour of apples, brought him by his angel-guides to Paradise.
IV. THE SYMBOLIC USES OF TREES
Will now be considered :— Whatever may be the explanation given by Gaelic scholars as to how it came about, it is a singular fact that the names of the letters of the Gaelic Alphabet, from A to U, are the names of trees, beginning with the Elm, and ending with the White Thorn. It would be interesting to learn (but the living authorities do not seem to know) on what principle the names first belonging to trees were afterwards distributed among the letters of the alphabet, Apart from the obvious symbolic language of plants in the Lovers' Calendar, their symbolic use in other fields is common in our day. The Primrose, as a modest souvenir of Lord Beaconsfield, is a recent example; still more recent is the proposal made at a Liberal gathering to wear a button-hole decoration in honour of Mr. Gladstone on his birthday, to consist of a lily for purity, Supported by leaves of oak and ivy, to represent strength and tenacity. With the Jews, the Almond-tree was the emblem of vigilance, because it is the first to show by its flourish that spring has come, The Spaniards adopt the Pomegranate as the national tree, on account of its many-seeded fruit, the emblem of fecundity; the Prussians thus adopt the Linden or Lime-tree, the emblem of married love, while the English have the national Rose for beauty, and the Oak for strength. Grandeur and dignity are well attributed to the Ash and the Elm. The Sycamore, perhaps because it was the hiding-place of Zaccheus, is emblematic of curiosity, and the Holly, of forethought; while the Quince symbolises temptation, following the story of the fatal apple; the Pear-blossom stands for affection, and the Myrtle, for love. The Orange-blossom implies chastity; the tree itself, generosity. Intemperance is the ungrateful meaning given to the heart-cheering Vine. The Olive fares better as the immemorial emblem of peace; and the Myrrh, as dropping gladness. The Hazel tells of reconciliation; the Hawthorn, of hope; the Palm, said to grow faster for being weighed down, of victory; and the Cedar, of immortality. Death and regeneration are signified by the Walnut and the Cypress, while sorrow and mourning find representatives in the Yew and the Willow. The Poplar typifies bravery; the trembling Aspen, fear; and crime is fitly symbolised by the Tamarisk, the leaves of which were used by the Romans to cover the eyes of criminals on the way to death.
V.—COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE.
Most villages and towns, not hopelessly prostrate before the aggressive inroads of an unromantic civilisation, possess one or more “Lovers' Walks,” for which an avenue of trees to line the path seems to be a great recommendation. Trees and their fruit have had much to do with the mysteries of love. Our own Hallowe'en rites are proof of this, in the burning of hazel nuts to discover the matrimonial future, as graphically described by Burns. Akin to this game is the custom among young girls in Belgium on St. Michael's Day. They mix together full walnuts with nuts that have been emptied, but sealed up again; then, blindfolded, they take one at random. She who gets a full one will soon get a husband ; if an empty one, she will continue a “wanter." When two Greek lovers part, they exchange, as a test of fidelity, the halves of a leaf of plane tree. When they next meet, each produces his or her half; both together must form a complete leaf, or the courtship would be imperilled. Roman lovers used to plant a rose-tree on the grave of a sweetheart dying before marriage. In some Danubian districts, a young woman is engaged to her lover when he offers and she accepts an apple, which is an essential symbol of nuptial gifts. In Southern Italy, when apples are served at a wedding dinner, each guest takes one, and, having made an incision, he puts a piece of silver in it. All the apples are then handed to the bride, who bites into the apples, and retains the money as a luck-penny. Sicilian girls, on St. John's Day, throw apples from their windows to the street, and then watch who will pick them up. If a man does so, the girl will be married within a year; if a woman, no marriage that year; if the person looks at it, without touching it, that foreshadows early widowhood for her; if a priest passes first, the girl will die unmarried. At marriage ceremonies in Corsica, the church-door is decked with garlands of laurel, supposed to prevent domestic brawls. Formerly, near Bologna, when a daughter was born, it was the custom, if the family could afford it, to plant 100 poplars, of which great care was taken till the girl's marriage, when they were cut down and sold, to provide a dowry for her—the most sensible thing recorded of all these curious practices. It had probably been derived from a Roman usage of planting cypresses on the birth of a girl, the trees being called, from that time, her dowry.
(To be continued.)
THE MASSACRE OF THE ROSSES.—The Christian Leader says regarding this pamphlet:—“The remarkable change for the better that has come over the public sentiment in regard to the Highland crofters receives a striking illustration in the story of a pamphlet, Zhe Massacre of the Aosses in Strathcarron, by Donald Ross (Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie). [Price sixpence.] It was first published little more than thirty years ago, when the horrible incidents it narrates took place; but the impression it made, save in a limited circle of sympathetic souls, was comparatively slight, and so rare had the pamphlet become that, when collecting materials for his “History of the Highland Clearances,” Mr. Mackenzie of Inverness was unable to procure a copy. Having now succeeded in recovering one, he has reprinted it; and, at length, three decades after the faithful Highland citizen of Glasgow wrote it with his heart on fire, the story procures an audience. Truth to tell, the nation thirty years ago did not adequately realize the barbarous cruelties that were being practised upon the peasantry of the Highlands. Mr. Ross called the attention of the LordAdvocate of the day to the shocking work that was wrought in Strathcarron in 1854 upon an inoffensive people who had paid their rents regularly, but were being evicted from the land their forefathers had cultivated for centuries, in order to make room for sheep. Like his successor in office in our own day, the only reply his lordship vouchsafed was to the effect that the majesty of the law must be vindicated : Happily, the nation is now thoroughly aroused on this subject; and never again will it be allowed to sink out of sight until an honest endeavour has been made by the legislature to rectify the evil. The Bill at present before Parliament is insufficient, evading the most essential points, especially that which relates to the absolutely needful enlarging of the crofts; and continued agitation, deepening in intensity, is therefore inevitable. With upwards of a hundred true and resolute friends in the House of Commons, the croster's case is no longer hidden away, and his ultimate deliverance is certain.”
THE SPRING BENEATH HIGH WATER-MARK IN LOCH-ERIBOLL.
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL GAELIC BY THE AUTHOR,
THE following verses were composed on a half-tide spring-well in the shores of LochEriboll, Sutherlandshire; and the legend concerning it runs thus:–Many years ago, on a communion Sabbath in the heat of summer, the services were held on the hillside, and the people were parched with thirst. Many of them had travelled far; the services continued until late in the afternoon, and there was no water to be had, the brook having run dry. One good man knelt in his distress on the seashore and prayed for relief, and, immediately, this spring bubbled up, pure and sweet, amidst the rough pebbles of the shore; he told the others, and they all crowded to it, with thankful hearts, and were refreshed. Since composing this poem, I discovered another spring of the same kind in the shore of Fassiefern, Lochiel-Side, entirely covered at half-tide, and, when the sea recides beyond that again, its waters are cool, sweet, and refreshing.
What hath made thee, little fountain,
Where a bird will never seek thee,
Sweet thy waters are, O springlet,
Ever, while the tide is flowing,
Springlet, I would rather see thee
Where, at noon or dewy evening,
Where the stag would come at dawning,
Eager for the crystal waters,
Where the hunter's eye would seek thee,
And he'd bound away so lightly,
Where the little birds, in joyance,
Ere they woke the fragrant woodlands
Where thou would'st a trysting place be
Where she'd list the honey'd whispers,