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442 SYLVA FLORIFERA.

LABURNUM.-LABURNUM: CYTISUS.

Natural order, Papilionacea, or Leguminosa. A genus of the Diadelphia Decandria class.

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In streaming gold."

"Nor might she fear in beauty to excel,
From whose fair head such golden tresses fell."

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THIS beautiful alpine tree was known to the Greeks under the name of 'Aváyupis, and its emetic qualities gave rise to their proverb, Anagrin commovere," to work one's own woe.' It is observed that the bees avoid the flowers of this tree, whose leaves are so agreeable to the goat. Theocritus, the poet, who flourished

VOL. II.

B

at Syracuse, in Sicily, about 282 years before the Christian era, remarks, that the wolf pursues the goat with as much eagerness as the goat hunts for the laburnum; and Virgil has celebrated it for augmenting the milk of goats. Pliny tells us, that the laburnum belongs to the Alps, and that it was not commonly known in Italy when he wrote his Natural History. He says, the wood is white and hard; and that the bees would not even settle upon the blossoms of this tree.*

The laburnum has long graced the British gardens, as we learn from Gerard that it flourished in Holborn in 1596. What would be the astonishment of this excellent old herbarist, could he be recalled, to see each avenue of his garden formed into streets; houses erected on his parsley beds, and chimneys sprung up as thick as his asparagus; churches occupying the site of his arbours, and his tool-house, perhaps, converted into the British Museum, where is safely housed the lasting memorial of his labours. In vain would he now seek wild plants in Mary-le-bone, where each blade of grass is transformed into granite, and every hawthorn hedge changed for piles of bricks : carriages rattling where snails were formerly *Book xvi. chap. 18.

crawling. His ear would be assailed by the shrill cry of Milk below," and the deep tone of "Old clothes," where he had formerly retired to listen to the melody of the early lark, or the plaintive tones of the nightingale.

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A breath of unadulterated air,

The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer
The citizen, and brace his languid frame !"

Yet how careful have they been to keep it as distant as possible from the narrow yard of our metropolitan church, which stands on one of the finest sites in the universe, as will be seen when the age arrives that will level the buildings which obstruct the view of it from the Thames. Should the cathedral of Saint Paul's ever be seen forming the centre of a crescent, which would open to the south, and whose base would be washed by the noble but now obscured river, it would become the most splendid spot, and the most delightful promenade that the world could boast. What would not the citizens give for so fine and healthy a spot, where themselves and their families might breathe an air, scarce less healthy than that which they must now go many miles to enjoy? What wealthy citizen is there who would not contribute largely to see the finest church on the earth stand at the

head of a lawn, which gradually ascends from the waves of his boasted river; and what situation could be so eligible for the erection of national galleries, libraries, and museums, as this would offer:- but let us return to the shrubbery; for

"The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade, Pants for the refuge of a peaceful shade,"

The laburnum was called Bean-trefoile tree in the time of Gerard, because the seeds are shaped like the bean, and the leaves like the trefoil. It had also the name of Peascod tree in that age, but which has long given way to that of the Latin Laburnum, which Haller says is evidently derived from the Alpine name, L'aubours. In French it is named Cytise des Alpes, Abours, and Faux ebénier, because the wood was often used as a substitute for ebony.

The laburnum is a tree of the third height, and flowers in the shrubbery from eight or ten to twenty feet in height. As it is of the middle stature, so should it generally form a centrical situation. Dark evergreens, of the larger kind, form a good back ground to this cheerful, flowering, and graceful tree, whose yellow pendent blossoms shine more conspicuously by the contrast. Its extending branches should wave their golden treasures

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