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Bluebell

Bluebell

The bluebell—the Agraphis mutans,—of the Lily tribe—is so abundant in English woods and pastures, whilst so widely known, and popular with young and old, as to need no description.

The bluebell—the Agraphis mutans,—of the Lily tribe—is so abundant in English woods and pastures, whilst so widely known, and popular with young and old, as to need no description.

Hyacinth petals are marked in general with dark spots, resembling in their arrangement the Greek word AI, alas! because a youth, beloved by Apollo, and killed by an ill-wind, was changed into this flower. But the wild Hyacinth bears no such character on its petals, and is therefore called "non-scriptus." The graceful curl of the petals, not their dark violet colour, has suggested to the poets "hyacinthine locks."

In Walton's Angler the Bluebell is mentioned as Culverkeys, the same as "Calverkeys" in Wiltshire. No particular medicinal uses have attached themselves to the wild Hyacinth flower as a herbal simple. The root is round, and was formerly prized for its abundant clammy juice given out when bruised, and employed as starch. Miss Pratt refers to this as poisonous; and our Poet Laureate teaches:—

"In the month when earth and sky are one,
To squeeze the blue bell 'gainst the adder's bite."

When dried and powdered, the root as a styptic is of special virtue to cure the whites of women: in doses of not more than three grains at a time. "There is hardly," says Sir John Hill, "a more powerful remedy."

Tennyson has termed the woodland abundance of Hyacinths in full spring time as "The heavens upbreaking through the earth." On the day of St. George, the Patron Saint of England, these wild hyacinths tinge the meadows and pastures with their deep blue colour—an emblem of the ocean empire, over which England assumes the rule.

But the chief charms of the Bluebell are its beauty and early appearance. Now is "the winter past; the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time for the singing of birds is come; and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land."

"This earth is one great temple, made
For worship everywhere;
The bells are flowers in sun and shade
Which ring the heart to prayer."

"The city bell takes seven days
To reach the townsman's ear;
But he who kneels in Nature's ways.
Has Sabbath all the year."

The Hairbell (Campanula rotundifolia) is the Bluebell of Scotland; and nothing rouses a Scot to anger more surely than to exhibit the wild Hyacinth as the true Bluebell.

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