« PreviousContinue »
and beyond question, the best thoughts are struck out, not in private musing and brooding over one's affairs, but in free conversation with a trusted and sympathetic companion. Another's secret is not our own, and he is a caitiff who betrays it; but all our own secrets should be shared with our wife. Our greatest poet has finely phrased the thought:
"Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it expected I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife!"
It must sometimes amaze all observers how commonly husbands and wives deem it unnecessary to control transient fits of ill-humour, peevishness, and irascibility in the presence of each other. Some such seem to fancy that the place where they may give vent to their bad tempers with impunity is their home; as though the family were the privileged spectators of their vices rather than their virtues; or as though they had an indisputable right to make their household the victims of a petulance they could not so safely exhibit elsewhere. Indeed, one might imagine that some men regarded an occasional explosion of passion, a gloomy fit, or a periodic spasm of grumbling as essential to the maintenance of their authority in domestic affairs, as though, in order to satisfy himself that he was "master," he must needs now and then play the tyrant. Control of every kind has only one basis-selfcontrol. There is nothing more craven than to wreak one's ill-humours on those who, one thinks, cannot or ought not to resist.
Two excellent and very necessary rules for a young husband to adopt and practise are worthy of mention. One is :-Never even pretend to quarrel or say unkind things in sport. Raillery easily degenerates into railing. Sarcastic words are like barbed arrows, which may indeed be drawn out, but leave irritating wounds. Sarcasm means flesh-tearing. Good-humoured banter is a dangerous weapon; it so readily becomes sharp-edged with spite, and, for the moment, intended to cut deeply and hurt. Satire costs the jester many a friend: the loss is just; for even a kitten is punished if it projects its claws in play. A wise man would never box, fence, or play at single-stick with his wife raillery is but intellectual fisticuffs. The other is :Never to reprove your wife for any inadvertence in the presence of
another than your two selves. Old Andrew Fuller has well said, "Jarres concealed are half reconciled; which, if generally known, 'tis a double task to stop the breach at home and men's mouths abroad. To this end, a good husband never publicly reproves his wife. An open reproof puts her to do penance before all that are present; after which many study rather revenge than reformation."
And finally, both husband and wife should remember that marriage means a life-long courtship. They present a sorry commentary on marriage who speedily discontinue the delicate attentions, the constant consideration, and the trivial but precious endearments which formed so large a part of their conduct prior to the wedding. Nothing is more silly or disgusting than "making love" in company: it disparages the man by the failure of self-respect; it degrades the woman by violating modesty; it is nauseous to all the spectators, compelled against their will to witness familiarities which should be solemnly reserved for the privacy of home. Between paying delicate attention to one's wife in company and public caresses there is a very wide difference. I am speaking, however, more especially of home life: both the wife and husband have the right to expect that courtship should not end with marriage, else they would never have married. Lord Lyttleton has happily expressed the thought, and though he addresses the ladies, the advice is even more applicable to men :
"Think not, the husband gained, that all is done;
The prize of happiness must still be won;
And oft the careless find it to their cost,
The lover in the husband may be lost."
No. X. THE BROAD-LEAVED TREES.-(Continued.)
21. THE HOLM-OAK (Quercus Ilex). This is a tree of immemorial celebrity, yet not so much a tree as a huge evergreen bush, capable of attaining an immense age. The trunk is generally furnished with branches from the ground upwards; hence it is concealed by the mass of foliage much after the same manner as happens with the trunk of the bay-tree;-when the stature has become thirty or forty feet, the plant usually ceases to grow taller (though sometimes running on to fifty or sixty feet), and thenceforward the increase is only in the
width, which often equals the height. The roots descend to a great depth, rendering the tree difficult of transplantation; the leaves as a rule are ovate-lanceolate, two or three inches in length, pointed, somewhat convex, leathery, hoary underneath, but above dark green and glossy, so that the tree presents, at all seasons, a cheerful and laurel-like lustre, exceedingly effective in winter. There are varieties, however, with very small and with very large leaves, and sometimes the leaves are prickly-edged. The acorns (produced plentifully in England) are. small, but declare the tree at once to be a Quercus, so true is it, alike in nature and in morals, that "by their fruits ye shall know them." Indigenous not only in western Asia, but to the south of Europe and to the northern shores of Africa, the Ilex is one of the trees that love the seaside. The ancient poets associate it with the pleasures of shady retirement, and introduce it in many a beautiful tale. By reason of the dark hue of the foliage, Horace and Ovid both apply to it the epithet of nigra. The Greeks called it pivos, under which name it appears in the "Story of Susannah." The little acorns they called akuλo, as in Theocritus (v. 94, 95).
22. THE KERMES-OAK (Quercus coccifera). Far more interesting, in connection with Scripture, though not mentioned therein by name, is this fourth and very curious species, since it was the source of the scarlet dye to which allusion is made so often alike in the historical books and in the prophets. Superficially, the coccifera bears no resemblance to oaks in general, being a compact and evergreen bush, not more than three to eight feet high, the little shining and rigid leaves set round with prickles, and so numerous as to conceal every branch and twig. It grows spontaneously in all parts of the Levantine region, and extends eastwards into Persia, etc., and westwards as far as Spain. Being hardy, it thrives in English gardens, to which it was introduced in 1683, though acorns come but seldom.
The peculiarity of this odd little Quercus is that it becomes, not uniformly, but usually, the haunt of an insect,-one of that numerous race denominated the Coccidæ, and of which gardeners have a vexing example in the "scale" that so often infests hothouse plants. The insect attacks the young shoots of the tree, the females (which are wingless) affixing themselves to the bark, and remaining stationary and motionless for the whole period of their lives, which extends over several months. They are rendered incapable of movement chiefly by the weight of the body, as compared with the shortness of the legs, which organs serve only to cling with. They bear no resemblance
to a living creature, and the larger they grow the more inanimate they seem to become. What food they require they obtain from the bark of the tree, inserting into it a kind of beak. How the two-winged males subsist does not appear, since the latter seem to be unpossessed of organs for imbibing juices, or for procuring food of any other description. In due time the female dies. The thousands of eggs contained within her body, which is then about the size of a pea, and seems a mere excrescence, speedily give rise to larvæ, the relics of their mother serving the young ones as cradle, and the chapter closes. The history of the creature is thus not unlike that of its near relative, the cochineal-insect; and for the purpose of obtaining the dye a process very similar is adopted. Shortly before the eggs are hatched, the bodies are collected, placed awhile in vinegar, and then dried in the sun or in an oven, after which they are ready for use. Resembling the ordinary forms of life so distantly, the true nature of these curious insects was in primitive times altogether unsuspected; they were supposed to be a kind of berry, whence the name of KókкOS. The idea was a very natural one: to this very day we ourselves speak of "oakapples." When discovered to be insects, they received the name of vermiculi, or "little worms," whence the French vermillon, our own vermilion, and that beautiful phrase "the vermeil-tinctured lip." "Kermes" is the Arabic name of the insect.
That the kermes furnished a bright red dye was known in very early times. Probably it was first discovered by the Phoenicians. It was known, at all events, to the ancient Egyptians, and to the Israelites in the time of Moses. In Canaan it was one of the colours of the high-priest's ephod; it was employed also in the ceremonies of the Tabernacle (Numb. xlviii.); and in the rite of the purification of lepers (Levit. iv. 4). In the time of Saul it was a favourite colour for the dress of females (2 Sam. i. 24).
The ceremonial uses were of course founded upon the representative or symbolical import of red as a colour. This is not the place to enter upon the general subject. It must suffice to remind the reader that white is symbolical of purity; blue, of faithfulness and constancy; green, of hope and rejuvenescence; black, of the dignity of old age: red taking its appropriate place in the series as the emblem of life, health, and youthful energy, all of which fine qualities inhere primarily in the blood. Red was the colour for which the Israelites, a people principled in symbols and representatives, had the highest esteem. It was a leading element in personal beauty;-"thy lips are as scarlet," "my beloved is white and ruddy;" and because emblematic of life, it was employed in the rites alluded to. In the case of the lepers the fitness is palpable, the leper having been accounted as one who was socially dead, and representative at the same time of one who was spiritually dead, while his cure was the bestowal of new life, and representative of the regeneration of the heart. By the law of "opposites," a first principle in the structure of speech,-red elsewhere stands figuratively for the most mournful of human conditions, the death of love to God and of desire to keep His laws.
Kermes, it may be added, was extensively employed by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Horace speaks of "carpets dyed with crimson coccus," that in the houses of the wealthy "glowed upon ivory couches." In Persia and India it is still very largely used, but in Europe it is superseded, or pretty nearly so, by cochineal.
23, 24. THE WILLOW AND THE POPLAR. Of each of these two genera of the Amentiferæ certain species are unquestionably alluded to in Scripture. It is difficult, however, to determine the kinds, and to be sure even whether it be willow or poplar that is intended in particular verses. This comes of their near affinity, of the general similarity of their places of growth, and of the proneness on the part of the ancients to economy in the use of names. At the outset, for example, comes the question whether the "willows" on which the captives suspended their harps were willows indeed, the probability pointing to poplars; and still further to perplex the matter, there appears to be no doubt that various trees and shrubs, willow-like, but not really and botanically willows, nor even amentiferous, were called by the same name, orebim or arabim, just as to-day that sweet applescented crimson flower of the water side, the Epilobium hirsutum, is in the vernacular called the "willow-herb."
The resemblances between willows and poplars consist in their being diœcious, and in the seeds being winged with delicate cottony hairs, such as occur in no other members of the Amentiferæ. The "dioecious" character consists in certain individuals being purely and wholly male, and others exclusively female, a feature likewise quite their own among the Amentiferæ. In spring, when the catkins are open, it becomes an engaging pastime to note the distinctions, and by degrees, with the help of the foliage, in summer evenings, to match the partners. Nothing can be more beautiful in its way than a shoot of the male of the common hedgerow Salix Capræa, its large and swelling catkins powdered with gold, and conspicuous from afar; or a branch of the female of the same species, told, as it is so well, by the grey-green of the silky ovaries, and yet not a leaf upon either:-or if we prefer a poplar, than the deep and glowing crimson of the males, that deck the topmost and leafless branches as if for a gala; while the females form charming little necklaces of green beads, the ends, as it were, let loose, like the chains in a goldsmith's window. When ripe, the little pods burst open, as do the capsules of the female willows, and discharge their cotton in incalculable abundance, the trees seeming suddenly sprinkled with summer snow-flakes. All, however, is soon wafted away by the wind, and as happens with the contemporaneous shining spheres of the coltsfoot, and with the silvery pyramids of the Petasites, that
"Like the baseless fabric of a vision,
to-morrow all is gone, and if too late, we must be patient for another twelvemonth. In addition to these two capital points of agreement, the poplars and willows correspond in the venation of their leaves,