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The Cornel Cherry-tree grows no higher than eighteen or twenty feet. It is of very slow growth, but lives for ages. It blossoms in spring, but its bright scarlet berries are not ripe till winter.
The Greeks consecrated this tree to Apollo, no doubt because that god presided over the productions the mind, hich require much time and reflection
- a charming emblem, intimating to those who were desirous to cultivate letters, eloquence, and poetry, that, before they can earn the laurel-crown, they must long wear that of patience and meditation.
After Romulus had marked out the bounds of his rising city, he threw his javelin on the Mount Palatine. The weapon, made of the wood of the Cornel Cherry-tree, stuck fast in the ground, took root, grew, threw out leaves
and branches, and became a tree. This prodigy was considered as the happy presage of the power and duration of the infant empire.
The Greeks and the Romans consecrated Laurel crowns to every species of glory. With these they adorned the brows of warriors and poets, of orators and philosophers, of vestals and emperors.
This beautiful shrub grows abundantly at Delphi, on the banks of the river Peneus. There its aromatic and evergreen branches shoot up to the height of the loftiest trees; and it is alleged that by means of some secret virtue they avert lightning from the spots which they adorn.
According to ancient fable, the fair Daphne was the daughter of the river Peneus. Apollo fell in love with her, but she, preferring virtue to the love of the most eloquent of the gods, fled in order to avoid the seducing magic of his words. Apollo pursued, and was on the point of overtaking her, when the nymph invoked her father, and was changed into a Laurel. The god, finding at was an insensible
that he held clasped in his arms, kissed its bright leaves.
Since thou canst not be my spouse," said he, “thou shalt at least be my tree. Thou shalt ever adorn my brow, my lyre, and my quiver; and, as golden locks always cluster around my youthful head, so shalt thou always retain thy bright, beautiful foliage.” Thenceforward the Laurel was sacred to Apollo,
The providence of Nature is most admirably displayed in this beautiful evergreen tree, sometimes rising to the height of twenty or thirty feet, with shining prickly leaves and white flowers, which grow in clusters round the branches, and are succeeded by berries of a bright scarlet colour, containing four very hard seeds. The leaves form a grateful food to many animals : but Nature has armed them for self-defence against these depredators with sharp prickles : and it is curious to observe that the thorny leaves grow only on the lower parts of the tree where they are most likely to be destroyed; and that those above, out of the reach of cattle, invest themselves with smooth leaves, as if conscious that there they are safe.
The Holly is an ornament to our woods, stripped bare by winter: its berries serve for food to the little birds that never leave us, and