Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

CHURCHILL.

the aid, doubtless, of "fancy, ludicrous ever heard of the supposed injury.done and wild," some have traced in these to butter.” marks a resemblance to various objects. Nor is the ash unknown in the mateDr. Plot mentions a dining table made ria medica. The ancient Greek, Roman, of old ash, on which were depicted and Arabian physicians mention the divers strange figures of fish, men, and medicinal properties of the keyes or beasts; and an ash tree which grew in seed, in cases of dropsy, and stone; and a Holland, when cleft, discovered the forms French author has extracted a remedy of a chalice, a priest’s alb and stole, and for the gangrene by macerating the other pontifical vestments.

leaves, or putting one end of a trunIt is not only for its timber that the cheon, or branch into the fire, and collectash is valuable. No part of it is useless, ing the sap as it exudes from the other nor any stage of its growth. In some end. A decoction of the leaves and bark districts whole coppices are planted with has been found valuable as a tonic; ash, and cut regularly every few years, and Evelyn states, that the saw-dust has these cuttings being well adapted for hop been used for the same purposes as poles, cask hoops, rods for training guaiacum. He also tells us, that “the plants, hurdles, etc. It is particularly keyes being pickled tender, afford a delicultivated in Staffordshire, being the cate salading." In Siberia these keyes principal wood used in manufacturing are infused in water, and said to give it the crates in which articles sent from

a pleasant flavour, the potteries are packed. Nicol tells us,

Pity that that"an ash pole, three inches in

The towering ash, the fairest in the woods, diameter, is as valuable and durable for

For nothing ill, any purpose to which it can be applied should be also distinguished as as the timber of the largest tree." The loppings from these coppices, or from

“ The warlike ash that reeks with human blood." the branches of the tree, are excellent for fire-wood, burning even when green; Yet, so it ever has been. Man, fallen it is the principal fuel used in smoking man, perverts the blessings bestowed by dried herrings.* The ashes make good a beneficent Creator on the creatures of potash, and the bark is used in tanning. his hand for other uses than those for The leaves are occasionally used by the which they were given. The very quacountry people as an addition, or substi- lities of this wood, which rendered it so tute for tea. They also serve as fodder valuable for the purposes of which we for cattle, and were much prized by the have already spoken, have induced both Romans for this purpose.

A preju- ancients and moderns to select it as the dice, in later days prevailed against material of those weapons with which such food, on the ground that the leaves they execute the work of him “who and shoots of this tree communicate an was a murderer from the beginning." unpleasant flavour to the milk. This Hence were manufactured the spear of idea, however, is disproved by the recent the warrior, the pikes of the phalanx, testimony of a gentleman living in a the lance of the knight, and the bows of part of the country where the ash tree

the yeomanry abounds. " Much excellent

.“ On fair levels and a gentle soil, butter is made in this neighbourhood, The noble ash rewards the planter's toil ; on farms where it would be impossible

Noble, since great Achilles from her side

Took the dire spear by which brave Hector died." to prevent the cows from feeding upon the leaves of the ash ; and yet I never met with a farmer's wife, or dairy,

This mighty weapon is thus described, woman in the neighbourhood, who had

He says,

RAPIN.

" And now he shakes his great paternal spear,

Ponderous and huge! which not a Greek could * "The wood of the ash, when burned in a green From Pelion's cloudy top, an ash entire state, will emit a fragrance like that which pro- Old Chiron felled, and shaped it for his sire; ceeds from the violet or mezereon, and this will

A spear which stern Achilles only wields, diffuse, in particular states of the air, to a consider

The death of heroes, and the dread of fields." able distance, a property that, I believe, is not observable in any other British wood. It is in the

Pope's ILIAD. country only that we can be sensible of this, and Virgil describes his hero as making it is particularly to be perceived in passing through a village when the cottagers are lighting their fires,

use of “a lance of tough ground ash, or by a farm house, when this wood, fresh cloven rough in the rind, and knotted as it this sweet smell is, in great measure, exhaled with grew.” He also tells us that the spears the moisture."-Journal of a Naturalist.

of the Amazons were made of this wood.

rear.

æsc.

The shafts of Cupid are said to have away before its piercing rays all the been originally made of ash, though clouds of superstition which, in our own afterwards cypress was used. The Eng- country, have enveloped this tree. Evelish name of the tree is supposed to be lyn tells us, that in his time, in some derived from the Saxon word for pike, parts of the country, an idea prevailed,

that by splitting a young ash tree, and A statute in the reign of Edward iv. passing diseased children through the commands that every Englishman, resid- chasm, a cure would be effected, and a ing in Ireland, shall have a bow of writer in our own days relates an inyew, wych, ash, or hazel."

stance, within his own observation, of Having thus fully described the beauty this extraordinary practice. Another cusand utility of the ash, the reader will not tom still exists, that of boring a hole in this be astonished to find it no less distin- tree, and imprisoning within it a shrew guished in the annals of superstition, for mouse ; a few strokes with a branch the individuals and objects held in the of this tree is then considered as a sovegreatest veneration by an enlightened reign remedy for lameness and other people, are always those by which they complaints in cattle, which are attributed have been most benefited. Thus the to the evil influences of the poor little sun and moon have been, in every age animal! In the midland counties a proand clime, the objects of pagan worship. verb exists, that if there are no keyes on The Hindoos pay Divine honours to the the ash tree, there will be no king withshady banian tree, and the North Ame- in the twelvemonth. It is customary, rican Indian offers sacrifice to the maize. in many parts of the Highlands, at the The Greeks decreed that the man who birth of a child, for the nurse to put one taught the value of acorns as an article end of a green branch of the tree into of food should be reverenced as a god, the fire, and gather the sap which oozes and the islanders of the Pacific worship from the other end into a spoon;

it is those individuals whom they regard as then administered to the infant before it their progenitors. To the same natural takes any other food. effects of superstitious feeling we may, We have now to notice a few of our no doubt, attribute the high honours native ash trees most distinguished by with which the ash was regarded. It is their size or history. Perhaps one of remarkable, that the polished Greeks, as the finest our island can boast, is that at well as the unlettered Saxons, derived | Woburn Abbey, which, to use the words the human race from this tree. The of Strutt, " is an extraordinary speci. Edda, or sacred book of the Scandinavian men of the size to which this tree will tribes, describes the gods as residing un attain, in favourable situations. It is der a mighty ash tree, whose top reached ninety feet high from the ground to the to the heavens, its branches overshadow- top of its branches, and the stem alone ed the earth, and the roots descended is twenty-eight feet. It is twenty-three to the infernal regions. An eagle was and a half feet in circumference at the stationed on the summit, to observe all ground, and fifteen feet three inches at that passed in the world ; and a squirrel three feet from the ground. The cirwas continually ascending and descend- cumference of its branches is one huning to report to it what would otherwise dred and thirteen feet in diameter; the have been unobserved. Several serpents measurable timber in the body of the were entwined round the trunk, and tree is three hundred and forty-three from the roots issued two limpid streams, feet, and in the arms and branches, one in one of which was concealed wisdom, of which is nine feet in circumference, in the other a knowledge of futurity five hundred and twenty-nine feet."

Three virgins were continually employed The great ash, at Carnock, in Stirlingin sprinkling the leaves of the tree with shire, is even larger; ninety feet in water from these fountains, which, fall- height, thirty-one feet in circumference ing upon the earth, became dew. An at the ground, and twenty-one feet six ancient tradition to which Pliny alludes, inches four feet higher. At ten feet from mentions that serpents entertain such an the ground it divides into three large extraordinary antipathy to the ash, that branches, each ten feet in circumferthey always avoid its shade and would ence, and one of them is thirty feet in rather creep into a fire than pass over a length. It is still in the same state as twig of it. Nor has the general diffusion when delineated by our woodland bioof the light of knowledge yet chased | grapher, “in full vigour and beauty, (though planted in the year 1596 by Sir forty-two feet in girth ; and at two feet Thomas Nicholson, lord advocate of higher, thirty-three feet. The trunk Scotland,) combining airy grace in the being hollow, it was used for some years lightness of its foliage, and the playful as a school-room. Another ash, in King's ramifications of its smaller branches, County, is indeed a noble tree; the with solidity and strength in its silvery trunk, seventeen feet high, before dividstem and principal arms." The Kilma- ing into branches, and almost twentylie ash, growing in a churchyard on the two feet in circumference at the base. estate of the Lochiel family, in Locha- It is regarded by the peasants with great ber, was regarded with great veneration reverence. When a funeral of the lower by the whole clan, and probably, on this class passes it, the custom is to deposit account, burned by the victorious army the corpse beneath it for a few minutes, in 1746. It must have been of enor- repeat a prayer, and add a stone to an mous size, for when its ruins were ex- enormous heap around the base, which amined in 1764, they measured, as far as testifies to the length of time which this could be ascertained, fifty-eight feet in superstition has prevailed. circumference. Those who had been Nor must we omit to remark in this well acquainted with it, described it as tree a renewed proof of the wisdom, as not lofty, but dividing into three great well as bounty, of that glorious Being, arms, at the height of sixty-eight feet from " whose tender mercies are over all his the ground. We cannot, however, won- works.” Those productions, which are der at its perfection when we find it was most essential to the necessities of the in rich loamy soil, and in the immediate inhabitants of every country, are those neighbourhood of a small rivulet.

which most abound in them. The Bonhill ash, in Dumbartonshire,

The useful ash “ agrees with a greater is perhaps as ancient, though not equal variety of soil and situation than perin size, to the one of which we have just haps any other tree, producing timber of spoken. At four feet from the ground equal value; and, differing from many it exceeds thirty-four feet in circumfer- other trees, its value is increased rather ence, and just below the spot where the than diminished by the rapidity of its trunk divides into three giant arms, it growth.” It will alike grow on the measures nearly twenty-three feet. The bleak mountain summit, within the trunk is hollow, and has been formed reach of the sea gale, or on the swampy into a small room, eleven feet in height. bog. A loamy soil, however, is that in In the centre is a table, and round it a which it thrives the best, and shelter, bench on which eighteen people can sit. and a situation within reach of water, Notwithstanding this decay of the centre are essential to its attaining perfection. part, the tree continues to form new The roots, which are white and fibrous, wood beneath the bark, and the branches extend to a great distance under ground, are fresh and vigorous,

and serve as a subterraneous drain to the At Earlsmill, in Morayshire, is another surface above. On this account, the hollow tree, measuring above seventeen tree is frequently planted in low boggy feet in girth, at three feet from the situations, and hence the country proground; within the cavity nine men can verb, “May your foot-fall be by the stand upright at the same time. In root of an ash" that is, May you have a July, 1824, the largest of its mighty firm footing. It is to this extension of branches was broken down by a high its roots, which impoverish the soil above wind. Previously to this accident, "no them, that we may trace the generally thing could be more grand than its head, received opinion, that the shade of this which was formed of three enormous tree is injurious to vegetation. It is not limbs, variously subdivided into bold to the foliage, but to the fibres of the sweeping limbs; but although the ruin, ash, that we must attribute the fact; but thus created, was sufficiently deplorable, from what we have just observed, it it was strikingly sublime."

will be seen that this seeming blemish Nor is the sister island without specie constitutes one of the valuable properties mens of the

of the tree. Who will presume to charge Ash far spreading its umbrageous arm."

a fault on the operations of the God of

nature ? Shall man, short-sighted man, At Doniray, near Clare Castle, in the regarding with the glow-worm lamp of county of Galway, was a tree, that at fallen reason, the little circle within his four feet from the ground, measured | ken, venture to ascribe defects to those

« Blind unbelief is sure to err,

works which his omniscient Creator | Rather, remembering the uncertain term pronounced to be “all very good ?" In of life, and all things here below, let us the economy of nature, no less than that seek an enduring portion in the region of providence,

above, where sorrow and death may not

enter. “ The world passeth away, and And scan his works in vain."

the lust thereof; but he that doth the

will of God abideth for ever." The Christian philosopher will neither

On the tree of life eternal, censure nor criticize aught that bears the

Let our hopes be firmly staid; impress of his Father's hand, but re- Which, alone, for ever vernal,

Bears a leaf that will not fade. ceive with gratitude those rays of science which, from time to time, irradiate what has seemed to be mysterious, and wait with humble faith, and patient anticipa- UNDESIGNED COINCIDENCES OF tion, for that period when all shall be

SCRIPTURE.No. II. revealed; “he shall know even as he is The twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis known,” and spend the countless ages contains a very beautiful and primitive of eternity, in celebrating the praises picture of eastern manners, in the misof Him - who created all things, and sion of Abraham's trusty servant to for whose pleasure they are and .were Mesopotamia, to procure a wife for created.”

Isaac from the daughters of that branch Some have condemned the ash on ac

of the patriarch's family, which concount of the early falling of its foliage. tinued to dwell in Haran. He came “ Instead," says Gilpin, “of contribut- nigh to the city of Nahor ; it was the ing its tint, in the wane of the year, hour when the people were going to among the many coloured offspring of draw water. He entreated God to give the woods, it shrinks from the blast, him a token, whereby he might know drops its leaf, and in each scene where it which of the damsels of the place he predominates, leaves wide blanks of de- had appointed to Isaac for a wife. “And solated boughs.” But, granting that the it came to pass that behold Rebekah ash is the last of our native trees to ex- came out, who was born to Bethuel, pand its leaves in the spring, and the

son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, first to lose them in the autumn, shall we Abraham's brother, with a pitcher upon exclude its noble and beautiful form from her shoulder" Drink, my lord,' our plantations, because it reminds us of was her greeting, " and I will draw the transient nature of all terrestrial water for thy camels also.” This was charms ?

the simple token which the servant had " Like leaves on trees, the race of man is found,

sought at the hands of God; and accordNow green in youth, now withering on the ingly, he proceeds to impart his comground ;"

mission to herself and her friends. To but the brightest and the fairest are ever

read is to believe this story. But the the first to fade before the chill storms of point in it to which I beg the attention affliction, or the icy wind of death. The of my readers is this, that Rebekah is lofty pine is the first to be scathed by said to be the daughter of Bethuel, the the lightning's blast, the rainbow melts

son of Milcah, which she bare unto

Nahor.” away before the cloud, whose gloom it

It appears, therefore, that the has enlivened, has exhausted its torrent; granddaughter of Abraham's brother is and the nightingale, the sweetest song

to be the wife of Abraham's son ; that ster of our feathered choir, is the first to is, that a person of the third generation fly the vocal vale.

on Nahor's side is found of suitable

years for one of the second generation 6. What is beauty's power?

on Abraham's side. Now, what could It flourishes, and-dies ;"

harmonize more remarkably with a fact can wit or honour, or riches or elsewhere asserted, though here not even strength, avert the resistless stroke of touched upon, that Sarah, the wife of death ; rather do they seem to offer the Abraham, was for a long time barren, fairer marks for his shafts.

and had no child till she was stricken " Then since this world is vain,

in years ? Gen. xviii. 12. Thus it was And volatile and fleet;

that a generation on Abraham's side was Why should we lay up earthly joys,

lost, and the grandchildren of his broWhere rust corrupts, and moth destroys, And cares and sorrows eat?"-K. WHITE. ther in Haran were the coevals of his own

nor

conc

66

child in Canaan. I must say that this to have been a conspicuous person in trifling instance of minute consistency this contract of his daughter's marriage. gives me very great confidence in the For there was nothing in the custom veracity of the historian. It is an inci- of the country to warrant the apparent dental point in the narrative, most easily indifference in the party most nearly overlooked-I am free to confess, never oncerned, which we observe in Bethuel. observed by myself till I examined the Laban was of the same country and Pentateuch with a view to this species placed in circumstances somewhat simiof internal evidence. It is a point on Iar; he too had to dispose of a daughter which he might have spoken differently, in marriage, and that daughter also, like and yet not have excited the smallest Rebekah, had brothers, Gen. xxxi. 1; suspicion that he was speaking inaccu- yet in this case, the terms of the conrately. Suppose he had said that Abra- tract were stipulated, as was reasonable, ham's son had taken for a wife the by the father alone ; he was the active daughter of Nahor, instead of the grand person throughout. But mark_the difdaughter, who would have seen in this ference in the instance of Bethuel: any thing improbable ? and to a mere whether he was incapable from years inventor would not that alliance have or imbecility to manage his own affairs, been much the more likely to suggest it is of course impossible to say ; but itself?

something of this kind seems to be Now here, again, the ordinary and ex- implied in all that relates to him. Thus, traordinary are so closely united, that it is when Abraham's servant meets with extremely difficult indeed to put them Rebekah at the well, he inquires of her, asunder. If, then, the ordinary circum- Whose daughter art thou; tell me, I stances of the narrative have the impress pray thee, is there room in thy father's of truth, the extraordinary have a very house for us to lodge in ?" Gen. xxiv. 23. valid right to challenge our serious con- She answers, that she is the daughter sideration too. If the coincidence al- of Bethuel, and that there is room; and most establishes this as a certain fact, when he thereupon declared, who he which I think it does, that Sarah did was and whence he came, the damsel not bear Isaac while she was young, ran and told them of her mother's agreeably to what Moses affirms; is it house" (not of her father's house, as not probable that the same historian is Rachel did when Jacob introduced himtelling the truth when he says, that self, Gen. xxix. 12.) “these things." Isaac was born when Sarah was too This might be accident; but “Rebekah old to bear him at all except by_mi- had a brother,” the history continues, racle ? when he says, that the Lord and “his name was Laban, and Laban announced his future birth, and ushered ran out unto the man” and invited him him into the world by giving him a in, Gen, xxiv. 29. Still we have no name foretelling the joy he should be mention of Bethuel. The servant now to the nations; changing the names of explains the nature of his errand, and both his parents with a prophetic refera in this instance it is said, that Laban ence to the high destinies this son was and Bethuel answered, Gen. xxiv. 50. appointed to fulfil ?

Bethuel being here in this passage, Indeed, the more attentively and scru- which constitutes the sole proof of his pulously we examine the Scriptures, the being alive, coupled with his son as the more shall we be (in my opinion) con- spokesman. It is agreed, that she shall vinced, that the natural and supernatural go with the man, and he now makes his events recorded in them must stand or presents, but to whom ? “ Jewels of fall together. The spirit of miracles silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, possesses the entire body of the Bible, he gave to Rebekah." and cannot be cast out without rend. we are told, “ to her brother and to her ing in pieces the whole frame of the mother precious things,” Gen. xxiv. 53. history itself, merely considered as a but not it seems to her father; still history.

Bethuel is overlooked, and he alone. It There is another indication of truth is proposed that she shall tarry a few in this same portion of patriarchal story. days before she departs. And by whom It is this—The consistent insignificance is this proposal made ? Not by her of Bethuel in this whole affair. Yet he father, the most natural person surely was alive, and as the father of Rebekah to have been the principal throughout was likely, it might have been thought, I this whole affair ; but “by her brother

He also gave,

« PreviousContinue »