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Many a jest told of the Key's betraying
Shakspeare notices with what eagerness the pleasures of May-day morning were pursued in his time:
'Tis as much impossible, Unless we swept them from the door with cannons, To scatter 'em, as 't is to make 'em sleep On May-day morning.
The May-day diversions and May-poles were not confined to the country. In London there were anciently several May-poles, the last of which, near Somerset House, in the Strand, was not taken down till the year 1717.
In the scarlet berries of the Hawthorn, which are called haws, Providence has furnished an abundant supply of food for the small birds during winter: and it is a current notion that “store of haws portend cold winters.” So says Lord Bacon, and no doubt experience might often be found to confirm the observation.
A beautiful variety of this tree, with double red blossom of extraordinary fragrance, is cultivated in our gardens.
DECLARATION OF LOVE.
In the East, the Tulip is employed as the emblem by which a lover makes a declaration of love, presenting the idea that, like that flower, he has a face all on fire and a heart reduced to a coal
whose leaves, with their ruby glow, Hide the heart that lies burning and black below. On account of the elegance of its form, the beauty of its colours, but its want of fragrance and other useful qualities, this flower has been considered as an appropriate symbol of a female who possesses no other recommendation than personal charms.
It is supposed to have been brought from Persia to the Levant, and it was introduced into western Europe about the middle of the sixteenth century, by Busbeck, ambassador from the Emperor of Germany to the Porte ; who, to his astonishment, found Tulips on the road between Adrianople and Constantinople, blooming, in the middle of winter, intermingled with the hyacinth and the narcissus, and could not sufficiently admire their beauty. The name given to it by Europeans is supposed to originate in a corruption of the Persian word dulbend, the muslin head-covering adopted by the Mahometan nations, which we have transformed into turban. In a Persian of rank this article of dress is not unlike the swelling form of the Tulip. Moore, in his “ Veiled Prophet,” alludes to this resemblance:
What triumph crowds the rich Divan to-day
On their first introduction into Europe, Tulips became especial favourites of the cultivators of flowers. From Vienna they soon spread into Italy, and were sent in 1600 to England. Eleven years later they were first seen in France, in the garden of the learned Pieresc, at Aix, in Provence. In Holland, about the middle of the seventeenth century, a real mania for possessing rare sorts seized all classes of persons. It would be almost impossible to credit the extraordinary accounts of the high prices given in that country for Tulips, did we not know that it was a rage for gambling speculations, rather than a fondness for flowers, which occasioned these excesses. For a single Tulip, to which the Dutch florists had given the fine name of Semper Augustus, were given four thousand six hundred florins (about £ 400), a beautiful new carriage, a pair of horses, and harness: another of the same kind sold for thirteen thousand florins; and engagements to the amount of £5000 were made during the height of this mania for a single root of a particular sort. A person who possessed a Tulip of a very fine variety, hearing that there was another of the same kind at Haerlem, repaired to that city, and, having purchased it at an enormous price, placed it on a stone and crushed it to a mummy with his foot, exclaiming with exultation,“Now my Tulip is unique! We are also told that another, who possessed a yearly income of sixty thousand florins, reduced himself to beggary in the short space of four months, by purchasing these flowers. From this spirit of floral gam
bling the city of Haertem is said to have derived not less than ten millions sterling in the space of three years !
It is related that, during the prevalence of this mania, a sailor, having brought some goods to a merchant who cultivated Tulips on speculation, had a herring given to him for his breakfast, with which he walked away. As he passed through the garden, he saw some roots lying there, and, mistaking them for onions, he picked them up and ate them with his herring. At this moment the merchant, coming forward and discovering what had happened, exclaimed in despair, “ Inconsiderate man, thou hast ruined me with thy breakfast! I could have regaled a king with it.”
If we may believe recent accounts, this fondness for Tulips still prevails in Holland to such a degree that a sum equal to £ 640 was lately paid by Mr.Vanderninck, a florist of Amsterdam, formerly a captain in the Dutch navy, for the bulb of a new species called “ The Citadel of Antwerp.”
From the extraordinary favour thus shown to the Tulip, the species were soon multiplied to such a degree, that in 1740 the Baden-Dur