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MORE than one author has written a treatise on
Shakespeare's flowers, and more than one has achieved success. The small books with coloured illustrations, of which there are many more or less artistic, cannot be counted in this category. They are not meant to be aids to serious study. The first to attempt a volume of the latter kind was Sidney Beisley, who wrote "Shakespeare's Garden" in 1864. He was followed by a series of essays in the "Garden" by the Rev. Henry Ellacombe in 1876, and these were republished in book form in 1878 by Pollard, of Exeter, and reprinted in 1884 (Satshell and Co., London), and again in 1896 (Arnold, London), while in 1883 George H. Grindon's "Shakespeare Flora" appeared (Palmer and Howe, Manchester).
The present volume is cast in the form of a calendar, and, month by month, the trees, shrubs, and flowers coming to perfection at that particular time of the year are duly treated. As a rule, the time of flowering is considered the time of perfection also; but certain exceptions are made in favour of well-known fruits, whether British or foreign. This
calendar commences in April, since that would be the first month of the new year, Old Style, omitting the last five days of March.
The second part of the work contains an Appendix in which every mention of plants and their direct products occurring in the poet's plays and poems is arranged as it occurs, thus giving at a glance the number of plants and mode of allusion in each play, and also avoiding repetition. But the more beautiful passages are also quoted in the body of the work, and discussed by aid of various extracts from Elizabethan herbalists; nor is their current folk-lore, legends, or botany neglected.
J. H. B.
PRINCIPAL AUTHORITIES CONSULTED
"The Secretes of the Reverende Mayster Alexis of Piemount, translated out of Frenche into Englishe by Willyam Warde," in three books. London, 1559-1563. Quoted as
The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes." John Gerard. London, 1597.
"Maison Rustique, or the Countrie Farme," compiled in the French tongue by Charles Stevens and John Leeboult ; translated into English by Richard Surfleet. London, 1600; 4to. Quoted as Stevens.
Popular Names of British Plants." R. I. A. Prior, D.D. London, 1863. Quoted as Prior.
Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain." John Brand, M.A. Bohn's series; 2 vols. London, 1849. Quoted as Brand.
Student's Flora of the British Islands." Sir J. D. Hooker, K.C.S.I. London, 1878. Quoted as Hooker. "Hortus Cantabrigiensis.' James Donn. London, 1826. "Hortus Kewensis. London, 1811.
"The Shakespeare Flora." Leo H. Grindon. Manchester, 1883. Quoted as Grindon.
The Plant Lore and Garden Craft of Shakespeare." Henry N. Ellacombe, M.A. London and New York, 1896. Quoted as Ellacombe. (First edition in 1878.)
The Lake Dwellings of Switzerland," etc. Frederick Keller. Translated by John Edward Lee. London, 1878; 2 vols.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds.
"Retired Leisure That in trim gardens takes his pleasure." MILTON: Il Penseroso.
`HAT man who can witness unmoved the moods and passions of Nature, whether seen in some mighty cataclysm or in the pure calm of moonlit landscape, must be very strangely composed; but in Nature's many varied colourings and harmonies what more glorious than her lavish display of flower and fruit, some long stretch of hillside sheeted with golden gorse or dyed by the setting sun with a thousand purpling shades of ling and heather, where all things-rock, foliage, and sky-speak alike the glory of the Divine Father? What wonder, then, that flower and fruit have played a not ignoble part in the civilization of the world, and have helped to soften many a rugged nature and have brought precious solace to many a broken heart!