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Title: Art-Studies from Nature, as applied to Design
Author: Hulme, F. Edward (Frederick Edward), Hunt, Robert, Mackie, S. J., Glaisher, J.
Language: English
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                       ART-STUDIES FROM NATURE,

                         As applied to Design:

                           _FOR THE USE OF_


                      COMPRISED IN FOUR PAPERS BY

                     F. E. HULME, F.L.S., F.S.A.;

                         J. GLAISHER, F.R.S.;

                     S. J. MACKIE, F.G.S., F.S.A.;

                          ROBERT HUNT, F.R.S.




                      PRINTED BY VIRTUE AND CO.,
                              CITY ROAD.


Nature may be studied in many aspects; her wealth of service and beauty
is freely open to all who seek; and while the man of science, by patient
study and assiduous toil, may learn something of her mystery, and gather
from her not unwilling hands rich treasure of knowledge for the benefit
of humanity (for without the midnight watch and the elaborate
calculation of the astronomer navigation would yet be in its infancy;
without the enthusiasm of the botanist as he toils in the tropic forest
the virtues of many a healing plant would be unknown; without the keen
perception of the geologist the miner’s task would be in vain), so the
man of art in no less degree may find in her study richest elements of
beauty, loveliest suggestions of colour, forms of infinite grace. A
delight in the study of Nature, a desire to realise something of its
grandeur, is a source of unbounded pleasure to its possessor, for to him
no walk can be a weariness, no season of the year dreary, no soil so
sterile as to be barren of interest:--

    “The meanest flow’ret of the vale,
     The simplest note that swells the gale,
     The common sun, the air, the skies,
     To him are opening Paradise.”

The lichen on the rock, the wayside grass, the many-coloured fungi, are
no less full of beauty than the forms that more ordinarily attract
attention, and are no less worthy of study. “The works of the Lord are
great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein;” and Nature
has ever to the devout mind, from its own inherent beauty and its
testimony to Him its creator and sustainer, been a study of the deepest
interest. Some who glance over these opening remarks before entering
upon the search for such material in the body of the book as may seem
available for their immediate purpose, may consider that this view of
the subject is unpractical; but we would remind such that all art,
pictorial, sculptural, decorative, or what not, is only noble and worthy
of the name so far as it affords food for thought in the spectator, and
testifies to thought in the artist, and that the nobility of the work is
in direct proportion to such evidence of inner life. Art that is
æsthetic and sensuous, though pleasing to the eye, must ever in the
nature of things hold a subordinate place to that art which is symbolic,
to those forms in which an inner meaning may be traced; and though one
work of art may perhaps necessarily contain less of this reflected
thought than another, yet this proposition we think will hold good, that
no work of art that does not in some way testify to this can be
altogether satisfactory, for while pleasing for a time to the eye, it
yet leaves the mind unsatisfied: the reverse will equally hold good, and
we may safely repeat that in proportion to the thought bestowed and
expressed by the artist will be the enjoyment and profit to be derived
by others from it. The true artist will not consider with how small
expenditure of trouble he may attain his end; he will, on the contrary,
have a heart full of sympathy with all that is beautiful. This will
become a wealth of knowledge, will prove a precious possession to
himself, and the result must be visible in his work, and stamp it with
Promethean fire. To the artist then who is worthy of the name, nothing
can be too petty for regard, nothing that the Creator has pronounced
“very good” too insignificant for notice; for in Nature beauty is
scattered with a lavish hand, and the fungus that passes through all the
stages of its existence during a summer’s night, and the snow-flake
still more transient in its duration--

    “Frail, but a work divine:
     Made so fairily well,
     So exquisitely minute,
     A miracle of design”--

have a charm of their own no less than the higher forms, while to give
but one other example from the many that present themselves, the
_Foraminifera_--animal remains met with in chalk cliffs--though only
visible with high microscopic power, have the curves of their shells as
graceful, designs as varied, markings as intricate, as perhaps any other
natural objects whatsoever. We therefore appreciate the quaint fancy,
the studied thought of the designer who in some old glass that we have
noticed at Ockham Church, in Surrey, while making some of his quarry
designs of columbine, rose, and other lovely forms, chose for one of
them a little fungus surrounded by cup moss, and springing from the
turf; frail creatures of a day, meet emblems--like the withering grass,
the fading flower--of the short estate of man, the transience of all
his glory.

In the endeavour to suggest something of these humbler types of beauty
to the artist, the designer, the architect, and the manufacturer, the
following papers have been collected from the pages of the
_Art-Journal_, the periodical in which they originally appeared, and
after careful revision by their several writers, have been published in
this detached form, in order that they may be still more commonly

The first article is an endeavour on the part of the author to indicate
something of the profusion of beautiful form that may be met with in our
hedges and skirting our roadsides, to point out the source from whence
the mediæval artists gathered their inspiration, and to plead for its
greater use by their successors, that by a like loving appreciation we
too may create like forms of beauty.

The second essay deals with marine forms of vegetable life, and dwells
on the immense variety of form that may be met with in the sea-weeds
that surround our shores, and the applicability of many of the species
to the varied purposes of the designer. It is curious that these
wonderful forms should not have been employed more largely in the
decorative work of any people. With the exception of the singularly
waved and bossed foliage seen in the stone carving and metal-work of the
later years of the Decorated period of Gothic, and which may possibly
have been originally suggested by the _Fucus vesiculosus_, one of our
commonest shore weeds, we know of no instance of their introduction into
ornamental art. Hence here at once a wide field is open to the
designer, and this essay cannot fail to be full of valuable material.

As the first and second articles have striven to illustrate the
beautiful forms that inhabit the land and the sea respectively, so the
third article, leaving

    “The deep’s untrampled floor
     With green and purple sea-weeds strewn,”

and the more familiar forms of earth, deals with those delicate forms of
the air, the flakes of falling snow, and points out the immense variety
of graceful forms afforded by their crystals.

Symmetry and geometry are both so commonly met with in ornamental art,
and are also so conspicuously present in the forms of snow crystals,
that the application of those forms to design cannot fail to follow when
once their beauties are brought under the notice of the designer and

Symmetry shows itself in a general beauty of proportion, and balance of
masses in a composition; or, in the more limited sense in which we now
use the word, in the likeness of one half or part to another in the unit
of design. We speak of a design being bi-symmetrical or tri-symmetrical,
or if it goes beyond this, as in snow crystals and in many other cases
where the ornament may be bounded by a circle, it is termed
multi-symmetrical. Bi-symmetrical arrangements will be found most
appropriate for the decoration of upright surfaces, as wall-papers or
curtains, which will always be seen one way, while multi-symmetrical
star-like forms are more suitable for floor-cloth or carpet patterns,
because a star-like pattern on the floor looks equally well from all
parts of the room; while a design having its halves merely alike can
only be viewed to advantage from one point. It is curious to observe
that in Nature the rule seems to be that the lower forms shall be
multi-symmetrical, made up of several similar parts, while the higher
forms of life are bi-symmetrical: thus in the first class we get snow
crystals, sea-anemones, star-fishes; and in the second, the more
advanced forms of animal life--insects, birds, quadrupeds, and man
himself. There are numerous exceptions, however, to this: thus we have
flowers multi-symmetrical, and their leaves only alike in their halves,
though undoubtedly the flower, in view of its functions in vegetable
physiology, and also from the ornamentist’s stand-point, cannot be
considered lower in the scale of creation than the leaf. The charm
produced by the mere repetition of parts may be well seen in the
kaleidoscope, where a series of irregular pieces of glass develop into
various ornamental forms, owing to their symmetrical arrangement and
radiation from one centre--an effect still more clearly and beautifully
seen in the crystals of snow, where the unit is itself of pleasing form.

The influence of geometry upon design has in almost all periods of art
been very marked--in some styles, as the Early English Gothic, and the
Italian of the thirteenth century, much more so than in others; but in
no style is it altogether ignored. Whether we study the examples of
decorative art produced in our midst, the result of modern skill; or
turn to the remains of Egyptian and Assyrian ornament, the brain-work
and handiwork of men who toiled thousands of years ago, or whether we
contrast the delicacy of much of our English work with the rude carving
or pottery of the South Sea Islander, we still cannot fail to notice
that amidst much that is very marked and distinctive in comparing one
period with another, or the handiwork of one race or nation with
another, this one great principle of the adaptation of geometry to
ornament is exhibited more or less prominently in all. Where a sense of
flatness is desirable, as in designs for floor-coverings--as mosaic,
tile-work, carpeting, &c.--the use of geometrical forms appears
especially appropriate, since the feeling of flatness is easily
obtainable, and yet, accompanying this essential feature, almost any
degree of complexity and richness of effect. These remarks upon the use
of geometry must, however, be considered to apply more especially to the
simpler kinds of design, to those intended to fill but a subordinate
place. As we rise higher, geometry, though still valuable in the setting
out and defining of leading lines and masses, gives place to higher
forms, those based on animal or vegetable life. In a fourteenth-century
diaper the part we admire is not the geometric basis of the design, but
the delicate filling in of oak or maple, buttercup or ivy, though we
unconsciously admire this the more on account of the enclosing straight
lines--lines that we should at once miss if they were removed as

The fourth essay of our series deals with the suggestive ornamental
forms so freely met with in organic remains. As in the previous essay we
found in the clouds above forms of beauty well adapted for our needs as
ornamentists, so in this one we delve beneath the surface of our earth,
and again have the lesson impressed upon us, that in every situation
forms of beauty abound, that the world is full of suggestive material
for the student of ornamental art, and that in what at first sight
appears a barren and profitless waste, fresh proof is given of the
universal reign of law, order, and beauty throughout the whole range of
creation. These four essays, then, should prove a welcome addition to
the ornamentist’s store of material, since (though no book-work can take
the place of actual observation) they may at least suggest to him other
forms, and cause him to turn his attention in fresh directions. With
this hope, then, we conclude, trusting that our efforts thus to
illustrate in some degree the wealth of Nature may not have been
altogether in vain.

F. E. H.


I.                                                                  PAGE

HULME, F.L.S., F.S.A.                                                  1


F.G.S., F.S.A.                                                        91


OF DESIGN. By JAMES GLAISHER, F.R.S.                                 133


REMAINS. By ROBERT HUNT, F.R.S.                                      177




In this series of papers it will be our desire to direct the attention
of the architect, manufacturer, and designer, to some of the beautiful
forms of nature, which, though easily accessible, seem to have scarcely
received the consideration they deserve; to give a brief account of the
habits, peculiarities, and localities of the plants as they come before
us; to cite from time to time examples, either English or foreign, of
their use in the ornament of the past; and generally to add such details
as may directly or indirectly tend to create an interest in the plant in
question. We find, on looking back at the past history and practice of
ornamental art, in the midst of many marked differences of style, one
principle very generally observed--the use in the ornament of any given
country of the plants familiar to the people. Hence, the Egyptians
exclusively used in their ornament the plants of their own land; we see
the palm branch, the papyrus, and the beautiful lily of the Nile
constantly recurring. We find the Greeks and Romans employing the
acanthus, olive, and vine; the Japanese, the light and graceful bamboo;
and in our own Gothic styles and those of the Continent--French, German,
or Spanish--we meet with more or less conventionalised representations
in the carvings, paintings, illuminations, fabrics for dress, hangings,
&c., of the familiar forms of our hedgerows, streams, and meadows, such
as the wild rose, oak, maple, iris, buttercup, and many others. It is
then with the desire to awaken our decorators to the fact, that
beautiful as the Greek _anthemion_ and other allied forms are, they by
no means represent the limit available in ornamental art, that the
following papers have been prepared, since we are persuaded that if once
the inexhaustible riches of nature were sought after by our architects,
and their beauties brought before the eyes of the people in their work,
architecture would thus be taking one long step nearer to the sympathies
and appreciation of many to whom it is now a matter of indifference. The
works of a few of our leading architects owe at least some of their
beauty to their recognition of this truth; and we would desire, while
acknowledging the services rendered to architecture by such men as
Pugin, Collings, Street, and Gilbert Scott, to add our mite to the
revival going on around us.

Botany, or the study of plants (Gr. _botane_, a plant), is capable of
many subdivisions: thus we have one department which, from its dealing
with the vital functions of the plant, we term physiology (Gr. _physis_,
nature--_logos_, science); another which, from its more especially
dealing with the organization and structure of the plant, is called
organography, or structural botany; while a third great division,
systematic botany, derives its name from its teaching how the
multifarious forms of vegetable life may yet be classified into genera,
and these again into orders and species from certain points of
resemblance in the plants thus classed together. Botany, in itself a
science in the ordinary use of the term, may, however, render valuable
service to art; and it is this phase of the subject which we more
especially propose to develop, treating only of the more exclusively
scientific points so far as we find them necessary for our present
purpose; and in this we think we are fully justified, for though numbers
of excellent works are accessible to the student who desires to study
botany as a science, but few fully recognise its importance in a
modified form to the art-student, and more especially to the designer.
To the ornamentist a knowledge of the laws of plant growth is of really
the same importance as the study of anatomy to the figure-painter or
sculptor, and the absence of this knowledge is to the initiated, in
either case, as readily detected. Many who are now content to forego
this precise knowledge are no doubt partly debarred by the
technicalities which meet them at every sentence in ordinary botanical
works. Bearing in mind, therefore, the special requirements of our
readers, we shall endeavour to avoid as far as possible the use of terms
which, though scientifically valuable, and in fact essential to correct
and true description, are not such as we may reasonably assume our
readers, without special botanical study, to be familiar with. A
knowledge of these terms is, however, very desirable, since their
conciseness renders them valuable, and more especially, also, because
many excellent works, which it will be of advantage to the student to
consult, largely employ them. We trust that in the few cases where such
terms are in the present work introduced, a clear explanation of their
force and utility will be found to accompany them; we shall also, as a
further assistance, add the source from whence the term is derived,
wherever the introduction will tend to throw additional light on the
meaning of the word.

As we cannot hope, in the limited space at our command, to supply every
requirement, give every detail, or bring forward more than a few of the
more common plants, the present work must be considered rather as a
suggestive list of the more striking plants which, from their ornamental
characteristics, will, we trust, be found of service to designers, than
an exhaustive catalogue. It is very far indeed from being a complete

To render the work as practically useful as possible, we add to each
plant mentioned the names of some standard books in which reliable
drawings of the plant in question may be found; for though nature should
always, if possible, be consulted, it may not at all times be within the
power of the student to do so, owing to press of work, the season of the
year, and many other disturbing causes.

The following books are thus referred to, the illustrations in them
being of a trustworthy character. After the name of each book is the
abbreviation used in the present work when it is necessary to quote

  The Flora Londinensis of Curtis. First Edition            F. L.
  Medical Botany. Woodville. First Edition                  M. B.
  Medical Botany. Stephenson and Churchill. First Edition   S. C.
  Illustrations of Natural Orders of Plants. E. Twining     T. N. O.
  English Botany. Sowerby. Third Edition                    E. B.
  Vegetable World. Figuier                                  V. W.
  School Botany. Lindley                                    S. B.
  Woodlands, Heaths, and Hedges. Coleman                    W. H. H.
  Grammar of Ornament. Owen Jones                           G. O.

The first five on this list have coloured plates. To these we may be
allowed to add Plant Form (P. F.), a work prepared by the author for the
especial use of designers.

The plants described in the following pages are, to facilitate
reference, arranged in regular alphabetical sequence, according to their
English names, since most of my readers will more readily recognise a
plant by its familiar title than by its botanical appellation. Thousands
are familiar with the little daisy who would never recognise it in any
description headed _Bellis perennis_. At the same time, we in every case
give the scientific nomenclature as well, since in most works you may
desire to consult, that will be of greater prominence than the one used
colloquially. A difficulty here arises from the fact that several of our
English flowers have numerous synonyms given to them; we have, however,
chosen the name which we believe to be most commonly used, referring
also to the others in the course of our remarks on the plant.

In the introduction of vegetable growth into any ornamental composition,
we must be careful to remember that what is wanted is not so much a
direct imitation of nature, which after all can only be faulty at the
best, as a due adaptation of the natural form to the purpose of our
design--a recognition of the impossibility of a close copy of nature,
together with a feeling of its undesirableness even if it could be
accomplished. Our representations must therefore be more or less
conventional: in a flower-painting we naturally expect to see a direct
transcript of nature, while in decorative art a direct transcript
offends us.

“In the multitude of counsellors there is safety;” we will, therefore,
here quote some few passages from the works of those whom we think we
can all agree are entitled to speak with authority and to be heard with
respect. Ruskin, in speaking on this subject, says,--“All noble
ornamentation is the expression of man’s delight in God’s work;” and
again, “Ornamentation should be natural, that is to say, should in some
degree express or adopt the beauty of natural objects; it does not hence
follow that it should be an exact imitation of, or endeavour to
supersede, God’s work; it may consist only in a partial adoption of, and
compliance with, the usual forms of natural things, without at all going
to the point of imitation, and it is possible that the point of
imitation may be closely reached by ornaments which nevertheless are
entirely unfit for their place, and are the signs only of a degraded
ambition and an ignorant dexterity. Bad decorators err as easily on the
side of imitating nature as of forgetting her, and the question of the
exact degree in which imitation should be attempted under given
circumstances is one of the most subtle and difficult in the whole range
of criticism.” Wornum thus defines the difference between naturalism and
conventionalism: “A natural treatment implies natural imitation and
arrangement, but an ornamental treatment does not necessarily exclude
imitation in the parts, as, for instance, a scroll may be composed of
strictly natural parts, but as no plant would grow in an exactly spiral
direction, the scroll form constitutes the ornamental or conventional
arrangement; we may, however, have conventionalism of details as well as
conventionalism of arrangement.” Hudson says,--“There is a great
difference between the terms applied and adapted; they, in fact, express
the wrong and the right use of vegetable forms. All natural forms
require certain modifications to adapt them for other than their own
natural situations, and it is the neglect of this, and the simple
application of these forms without adapting them, which constitute a
false principle.” Dresser thus illustrates the difference: “Mere
imitation is not ornamentation, and is no more art in the higher sense
of the term than writing is itself literature. Vegetable nature treated
conventionally will not be found to be far removed from truth, but will
be merely a natural form, or a series of natural forms, neither marred
by blights nor disturbed by winds, adapted to the fulfilment of a
special purpose, and suited to a particular position--for the most
perfect examples of what is usually termed conventionalised nature are
those which express the intention of nature, if we may thus speak, or
are manifestations of natural objects as undisturbed by surrounding
influences and unmarred by casualties.” In the same way we might bring
forward passages from the works of Owen Jones, Sir Gardiner Wilkinson,
and many others, in illustration of our remarks; enough, however, has,
we trust, been brought forward to confirm the position taken up.

We will now, without further prelude, proceed to the brief
consideration of the few representative plants we have selected for our

The AGRIMONY. This plant, the _Agrimonia Eupatoria_ of botanists, and
the Agremoine of old writers, is ordinarily met with in hedgerows and
waste places by the roadside. The flowers are bright yellow, and are
arranged in what is termed botanically a spike (Lat. _spica_, an ear of
corn; when the flowers grow in succession direct from a central stem).
The leaves are very ornamental in character, the central line giving off
large side leaflets, and the intermediate spaces being filled by smaller
ones. The edges of all the leaves are deeply serrate (Lat. _serra_, a
saw; notched like the teeth of a saw). Very suitable and suggestive for
lace or wall-papers, where a somewhat delicate form with a decidedly
upright mode of growth is desirable. Drawings of the plant may be seen
in S. B. 126; E. B. 417; F. L. vol. v. 32; and M. B. 258. The natural
plant will be found in flower during July and August.

The WHITE or WOOD ANEMONE (_Anemone nemorosa_), or, as it is often
termed in old botanical works, the Wind-flower. This older name refers
to the same fact alluded to in its generic name, _Anemone_, the
fragility and delicacy of the flowers, and their exposure to the bleak
and boisterous winds that sweep through the almost leafless woods in
early spring, or, as others believe, from an old fancy that the flowers
will not open until buffeted by the gales of March, _anemone_ being
derived from the Greek word, _anemos_, the wind. The second name,
_nemorosa_, signifies woody, and bears obvious reference to the
localities most favourable to

[Illustration: _Anemone._]

the growth of the anemone. The plant may be found in flower during the
months of March, April, and May, the blossoms being pure white, with a
bright yellow centre, and the outer surface of the sepals of a delicate
purple tinge. It abounds in moist woods throughout the country,
generally in such profusion as to cover large tracts of ground with a
snowy whiteness; and the plant being perennial, we shall, when it is
once established in any spot, find it regularly recurring as each
spring-time comes round. The manner of growth of the anemone is very
distinct and characteristic, and not being subject to any variation,
cannot well be modified in the employment of the plant in ornamental
art without destroying its individuality, as from the single stem thrown
up from the ground three equal-sized leaves, identical in form, are
produced from a point about six inches from the soil, and the stalk is
then continued for about the same distance again before bearing at its
summit its single flower; each and every plant, therefore, consists of a
central stem, a terminal flower, and about midway up the stem a group of
three leaves. This rigid law, though extremely beautiful in itself, and
admirably adapted for treatment for some ornamental purposes, may,
perhaps, somewhat restrict its use in decorative art. We are not aware
of any examples of its employment in past art. In our illustration, the
plan of the plant, the view with which we are most familiar, as we see
it in its natural position, is shown, having the single central flower,
and below it the three leaves radiating from the stem. It will be found
that this strong individuality of growth more especially adapts itself
to the trefoil, or any other form based on the figure three.[A] The
garden-anemone (_A. coronaria_) is an allied species of the same family,
modified by cultivation: in its wild state it is a native of the South
of Europe.

The ARROW-HEAD (_Sagittaria sagittifolia_), one of our most beautiful
aquatic plants, must be so well known to our readers that any lengthened
description of it will be superfluous. Its generic, specific, and
English names all alike point out its leading characteristic, the
beautiful arrow-headed shape of its leaves;--_sagitta_, Lat., an arrow.
The calyx and corolla are each composed of three parts, the petals being
a brilliant white, with a pale pink irregular blotch at their bases. The
forms of the flowers, fruit, and leaves are all equally adapted for
decorative purposes, though it does not appear to have received in the
past the attention which its merits might very fairly claim, the only
instances of its application in ornamental art with which we are
acquainted being in a running band of ornament round a tomb, fourteenth
century, in the cloisters, Burgos. The flowers are incorrectly
represented in that example as having four petals, but the general
effect is, nevertheless, very good. See E. B. 1436 and P. F. 72 for
drawings of the natural plant.

[Illustration: _Arrow-head._]

The ARUM (_Arum maculatum_) is a plant of very common occurrence
throughout England, though rarely to be found either in Scotland or
Ireland. It may be met with in shady groves and thickets, and nestled
among the long grass and other herbage upon our hedge-banks. The plant
will be found in flower during April and May; but from the mode of
growth, and also from the pale green colour of the spathe surrounding
the central organs, it is by no means conspicuous among the surrounding
foliage. The upper portion of the central body or spadix--that part of
it which is seen in our illustration--is generally of a dark crimson
colour. The plant is far more likely to attract attention in the autumn
and winter than during its season of flowering, as towards the close of
the year the leaves of the arum die away, and the hedgerows also being
stripped of the greater part of their

[Illustration: _Arum._]

foliage, we notice the brilliant scarlet berries of the present plant
rising in a dense mass to the height of some three or four inches from
the ground. If the fresh root of the plant be tasted, it excites a
burning and pricking sensation in the mouth that will remain for several
hours; and if sliced and applied to the skin, it will frequently produce
blisters. This virulence, however, like the acrimonious principle met
with in the leaves, yields to the influence of heat, and in former times
an excellent starch was prepared from the root. In the writings of the
old medical authors and poets we meet with the wild arum under a great
variety of names, many of them, through the lapse of time and from
disuse, being now meaningless to us; such, for example, as abron, janus,
barba-aron, calf’s-foot, ramp, and wake-robin. A very common name for
the plant at the present day with country children is lords-and-ladies;
and an equally familiar name, both with children and also in
descriptions of the plant in botanical works, is the cuckoo-pint: this
may possibly allude to the slight resemblance of the enclosing spathe to
a measure for liquids. Another old name for the plant is the starchwort,
in obvious allusion to its domestic use. Like most other plants, it was
held by the medical practitioners of the Middle Ages to possess very
considerable and valuable remedial qualities. A small portion of the
leaf, either dried or in the green state, was esteemed a sure remedy for
the plague or any poison. “The water wherein the root hath been boiled,
dropped into the eyes, cleanseth them from any film or mists which begin
to hinder the sight,” or under circumstances to which the writer
delicately hints, “when, by some chance, they become black and blue.”
Though the bold, simple forms of the flower and bud and the rich
arrow-headed shape of the leaves appear, in an especial manner, to fit
it for valuable service in ornamental art, it has been but very rarely
thus employed. Illustrations of the natural growth of the plant will be
found in F. L. vol. ii. 63; S. C. 22; and P. F. 41.

The AVENS (_Geum urbanum_), belonging to the same natural order,
_Rosaceæ_, as the tormentil and wood-strawberry, possesses also the same
peculiarity of flower, the petals being five in number, while the calyx
is composed of five large segments, alternating with five others of a
much smaller size. The root is very astringent in its nature, and of
sufficient value to be included in the Materia Medica. The avens may be
generally found growing in hedges and woods, flowering during June and
July, and attaining to a height of from one to two feet. The leaves are
very ornamental in character, and will, equally with the flowers, prove
of valuable service to the designer. For illustrations of the growth of
the plant refer to F. L. vol. ii. 36, and P. F. 81.

[Illustration: _Avens._]

BEDSTRAW (_Galium verum_). This is also known as cheese rennet, gallion,
and maid-hair. The word bedstraw is in allusion to the former use of the
dried plant as a cheap material in forming beds. The name cheese-rennet
is derived from a bygone employment of the plant for curdling milk: we
see this same use of the plant referred to in the generic term _Galium_,
that name being derived from the Greek word for milk. Gallion is
evidently a herbalist’s corruption of _Galium_, while the fourth name,
maid-hair, has obvious reference to the lightness and delicacy of the
plant. The minute yellow flowers grow in dense heads of blossom, while
the leaves are in whorls, that is to say, several starting from the same
level, and thus growing in a succession of rings round the stems. The
number of the leaves in a ring is very variable; from eight to twelve
is, however, the usual number. Dry banks are the ordinary habitat of the
plant. It will be found in flower throughout June, July, and August.
Its lightness and graceful mode of growth admirably fit it for the
purposes of the designer. For illustrations of the bedstraw refer to E.
B. 648, or F. L. vol. vi. 13. The old herb-doctors, ever ready to find
or make a medicinal use, speak in high commendation of the present plant
for its reputed efficacy in relieving pains from burns, inward wounds,
&c., while “a decoction of the herb is good to bathe the feet of
travellers and lacquies, whose long running causeth weariness and
stiffness in their sinews.”

[Illustration: _Bindweed._]

The BINDWEED, botanically known as the _Calystegia sepium_, is one of
our most familiar plants; large surfaces of our hedgerows (Lat. _sepe_,
a hedge) being covered by its graceful leaves and tubular flowers. It is
a curious fact that, though abundant throughout England and Ireland, it
is very local in Scotland. The so-called convolvulus major of the
garden is the _Ipomæa purpurea_, a species very widely spread over the
tropical and temperate regions of the earth. Many of the family possess
active medicinal qualities, and preparations from them are found in the
Pharmacopœia. The English species also were at one time thus
employed; but Gerarde, the great medical botanist of Queen Elizabeth’s
reign, will not admit that they possess any virtue at all, but rather
the contrary. “They are not fit for medicine, and unprofitable weeds,
and hurtful to each thing that groweth next them, and were only
administered by runnegate physick-mongers, quacksalvers, old women
leeches, abusers of physick, and deceivers of people.” For study of the
natural appearance of the flower we would refer you, if you are unable
to meet with the plant itself, to E. B. 924; S. C. 2; T. N. O. 97; G. O.
99; and P. F. 76.

BITTER-SWEET. The Bitter-sweet (_Solanum Dulcamara_) is so called from
the bitter flavour of the stems when first tasted, a flavour which is
speedily followed by a peculiar sweetness somewhat resembling liquorice
root. In not only the familiar English name, but the specific botanical
appellation as well, we see this peculiarity of the plant referred to,
_Dulcamara_ having the same meaning as bitter-sweet. The continental
names have also this curious reference in them, the plant in France
being called Douce-amère; in Italy, Dulcamara; in Spain, Amaradulcis;
and in Germany, Bittersusstangel. The plant is frequently called woody
nightshade, while the old herbalists, in addition to the names already
given, call it felonwort. _Solanum_ is derived from _solamen_, in
reference to the soothing effect of some species of the Solanaceæ. The
bitter-sweet has small flowers of a deep purple colour, the petals being
very much reflexed. The berries are of a deep red when ripe, but change
considerably in their colour before reaching maturity; thus on the same
bunch we may frequently see green, yellow, orange, and crimson fruit.
Thirty of these berries administered to a large dog killed it in less
than three hours. Refer to E. B. 930; F. L. vol. i. 14; M. B. 33; S. C.
17; T. N. O. 100; and P. F. 19, for illustrations of the natural growth
of the plant. This shrub is frequently confounded with the deadly
nightshade, from the slight similarity of name; but there is no other
point of resemblance. The two plants are totally distinct. The woody
nightshade, though common in most parts of England, is comparatively
scarce in Scotland and Ireland. It is a hedgerow plant, flowering during
June, July, and August. A variety with white flowers is sometimes met

The BLACK-THORN or SLOE (_Prunus spinosa_) is curious and suggestive
from an ornamentist’s point of view, from the flowers, unlike most other
plants, appearing in profusion before the leaves are developed. We see a
plant strongly resembling the black-thorn very largely used in their
ornament by the Japanese, a plant with numerous spreading branches,
leafless, but thickly clustered with flowers. The black-thorn may
commonly be met with in coppices and hedgerows, the blossoms appearing
in March or April, and the rich purple fruit in August. The name sloe is
derived from the Anglo-Saxon _sla_, and refers to the extreme acidity of
the tempting-looking fruit. The natural growth may be seen on reference
to E. B. 408, or M. B. 84. The black-thorn possesses a certain value
ornamentally, as being, like the primrose and snowdrop, a characteristic
flower of the spring.

      “Flowers, as the changing seasons roll along,
      Still wait on earth, and added beauties lend;
      Around the smiling Spring a lovely throng
      With eager rivalry her steps attend;
      Others with Summer’s brighter glories blend;
      Some grace mild Autumn’s more majestic mien;
      While some few lingering blooms the brow befriend
      Of hoary Winter, and with grace serene
    Enwreath the king of storms with mercy’s tender sheen.”

[Illustration: _Borage._]

The BORAGE (_Borago officinalis_), though widely distributed, is by no
means a common plant; and though mentioned by several old writers, must
be considered as but a doubtful native. The generic name has been
corrupted from two Latin words, _cor_, the heart, and _ago_, I act, from
a belief, as old as the time of Pliny, in its exhilarating effects;
hence the old saying, _Ego borago gaudia semper ago_, “I borage give
always courage.” The borage, like the comfrey and forget-me-not, belongs
to the order _Boraginaceæ_, and, in common with most of the species of
that order, is marked by the gyrate or scorpoid arrangement of its
flowers, the stem being coiled round like the mainspring of a watch. It
may be met with occasionally in the ornament of the past--its large and
striking-looking stellate (Latin, _stella_, a star) flowers, and the
general growth of the plant, being admirably adapted to the purposes of
design. As an example we may instance the MS. Hours of Henry VII. in the
British Museum, where the borage is introduced upon a golden ground on
one of the pages. Drawings of this plant will be found in E. B. 1114; M.
B. 217; T. N. O. 98; and P. F. 36.

In studying the application of natural vegetable forms to the various
requirements of ornamental art--such, for instance, as the employment of
bold, vigorous plants to stone or wood carving, and the more graceful
and delicate growths to such fabrics as muslin and lace--we speedily
find that in some cases we are unable to treat the whole of the plant we
have selected for our purpose, owing to the limitations placed upon us
by the requirements of the work, the exigencies of manufacture, or the
nature of the materials in which our design is to be embodied. In some
cases the flowers are too small in detail, or in the general mass, to
accord well from the ornamentist’s point of view with the foliage of the
plant; the white bryony (_Bryonia dioica_), for instance, though
excellently adapted for muslins, could not in its flowering stage be
satisfactorily treated for stonework on this account, though the foliage
by itself is admirably suited for such purpose. In other instances we
find the case reversed, the flower being large and beautiful in form,
and the leaves unsuited, either from their insignificant size or want of
beauty, to the purpose of the ornamentist; thus, while the leaves of the
stonecrop (_Sedum acre_) are, from their minuteness, scarcely available
for the purposes of design, the stellate flower is exceedingly beautiful
in form, and admirably adapted for diapering and many other uses, when
isolated from the rest of the plant. Where both leaf and flower are from
their beauty and relative scale equally adapted for art-treatment, we
are still, when circumstances require it, quite justified in employing
either the one or the other by itself: where a monochrome arrangement is
necessary, the leaves alone may, for example, be used; where a central
radiate form, the flower may be introduced. The rosette or patera, so
freely introduced both in ancient and mediæval art, is an example of
this use of isolated floral forms.

The BRAMBLE or BLACKBERRY (_Rubus fruticosus_), a more familiar plant
than the last, has, so far as we are aware, been but little used in
ornamental art, though the _Rubus idæus_, or wild raspberry, may
occasionally be seen in MSS. of the sixteenth century. The generic name
is highly expressive of the prickly nature of the plant, being derived
from an old Celtic verb, _reub_, to lacerate or tear away; while its
English name, bramble, attests its indigenous nature, descending as it
does from the Anglo-Saxon name for it, _bremel_. The stems, ordinarily
of a pale purple colour and with a grey bloom upon them, are pentangular
in section, the numerous prickles almost entirely confined to the ridges
formed by the angles, and not occurring in the intermediate furrows; the
leaves generally with five deeply serrated leaflets, a rich green on the
upper surface, and covered with close white down on the lower; the
petals of the blossom varying from pure white or delicate pink to a deep
red; and the fruit of a rich crimson, so intense in colour as to appear
almost black. The mode of growth

[Illustration: _Blackberry._]

admirably fits it for the service of the designer, the leaves being very
ornamental in form, and the long trailing stems admitting of great
freedom of curve, while for its use in decorative art a further great
recommendation exists in the power of representing the plant under
several phases of growth without violating natural truth, as at one and
the same time we find the opening bud, the fully-expanded flower, and
the fruit of all sizes and stages of development, varying in colour from
green, light red, and crimson, to deep purplish black in its progress to
maturity. We thus gain great variety of form, and also, when admissible,
of colour. The bramble appears to be of especial value in ornament
where large surfaces require to be covered by forms at once suitable in
scale, interesting in their details, and varied in their character;
hence it would seem admirably adapted to muslins and lace, though, so
far as we have had opportunity of observation, it has not been thus
employed. Reliable drawings of the blackberry will be found in W. H. H.,
Plate E, Fig. 1.; in T. N. O. 51; G. O. 96; and P. F. 57.

Some plants, beautiful in themselves, possess an increased importance in
the eyes of the followers of ornamental art, from their being used
heraldically; such, for example, are the rose, the shamrock, the broom,
and the thistle. BROOM (_Sarothamnus scoparius_) is thus used as the
badge of the Scottish clan Forbes, and, as all readers of history will
remember, was also chosen as the device of the Plantagenets. A very good
example of its use in past art--though scarcely, from its being found in
a Tudor monument, having any heraldic meaning--will be seen in a glass
quarry in Henry VII.’s Chapel. _Sarothamnus_ is derived from two Greek
verbs, signifying a shrub, and to sweep. The English name has the same
force of meaning. In an old work we have consulted, the author deems it
useless to go into a long account of the plant, so well known was it in
his time from this domestic use:--“To spend time in writing a
description hereof is altogether needless, it being so generally used by
all the good housewives almost throughout this land to sweep their
houses with, and, therefore, very well known to all sorts of people.”
The broom may ordinarily be found on sandy commons, railway banks, and
dry hillsides. The large yellow pea-shaped flowers appear in great
profusion throughout May and June, and are succeeded in due course by
the black seed-pods. The plant grows from three to six feet high, and
when covered with its brilliant blossoms is a very striking object.
Leaves very inconspicuous. Drawings of this very beautiful plant may be
seen on referring to S. B. 121; E. B. 329; M. B. 89; F. L. vol. v. 31;
S. C. 67; T. N. O. 49.

BULBOUS CROWFOOT. We have selected the present plant (_Ranunculus
bulbosus_) as a good representative of the numerous species of plants
familiarly termed buttercups, partly because it is the most striking in
effect, partly because it is the one that will most readily be met with
under ordinary circumstances; for while its fine flowers and
beautifully-cut leaves render it singularly well suited to the purposes
of ornament, the abundance of it in every meadow throughout the country
places it within the reach of all who would desire to adapt it to any
artistic purpose. From the commonness of the plant, and its general
distribution throughout England, it has received many other names:
goldknob, goldcup, baffiner, troil-flower, polt, kingcup, buttercup,
butter-flower, cuckoo-bud, are all synonyms. The term _Ranunculus_ is
derived from _rana_, a frog, many of the species being found in wet,
swampy places; while the specific name, _bulbosus_, alludes to the
bulb-like swelling of the lower part of the stem in this particular
species. The name crowfoot has been given to the plant from the
radiating character of the segments of the leaf, spreading as they do
like the divisions of a bird’s foot; while the use of the word buttercup
points to the old belief that the rich yellowness of spring butter is
owing to the eating of this plant by the cows; the effect must rather,
however, be ascribed to the tender grass, as any one who will take the
trouble to notice the fact will find that cows in a meadow will, as far
as possible, avoid the buttercups. The leaves of the bulbous crowfoot,
like, with one exception, those of the rest of the family, are very
acrid, and will, if applied to the skin, speedily blister it. The plant
will be found in flower throughout the spring and summer: a variety is
sometimes met with having cream-coloured flowers. The crowfoot is one of
the favourite plants in the ornament of the Decorated period of Gothic.
Representations of the natural plant may be seen on consulting E. B. 35,
or F. L. vol. i. 38; refer also to “Water Crowfoot” in the present work,
page 84.

CELANDINE (_Chelidonium majus_). The Celandine, though, so far as we are
aware, not to be met with in ornamental art, is a plant in every way
fitted for the purposes of the designer, whether we consider the form of
the flower, of the pods which succeed the blossoms, or the rich outline
of the leaf. The inflorescence is umbellate (Lat. _umbella_, an
umbrella), that is to say, all the flower-stalks start from the same
point in the stem, as in the case of the hemlock, the cowslip, flowering
rush, and many other plants. _Chelidonium_ is derived from the Greek
word _chelidon_, a swallow, from an old belief that the plant came into
flower on the arrival of those birds, and withered when they took their
departure; hence in old writings we frequently find the Celandine termed
swallow-wort. The plant will commonly be found in waste places, and more
especially near human habitations. It attains to a height of about two
feet, and flowers throughout May, June, July, and August. Consult S. B.
95; E. B. 67; M. B. 263; S. C. 86, for drawings of the natural growth of
the celandine.

The CINQUEFOIL (_Potentilla reptans_). This graceful little plant may
generally be met with in abundance, a very favourite habitat being in
the low grass and coarse herbage we so frequently find skirting the
pathways in country districts. When it has once taken root upon any
favourable spot, it speedily throws out long running stems, which, in
turn, develop roots from the points whence the leaves spring; in a very
short space of time a large extent of ground is covered with a dense
mass of the plant, and, from its habit of rooting at each joint, it is
with great difficulty eradicated, since if one root alone be overlooked,
the labour spent will speedily prove to have been but of little more
than temporary use. Regarding the cinquefoil, however, rather from the
stand-point of the ornamentist than of the agriculturist, we are struck
by the beauty of its growth, the forms of the individual parts, and the
general fitness of the plant for employment in Decorative art. The
familiar name cinquefoil clearly alludes to the division of the leaves
into five conspicuous leaflets, though when the plant is growing under
exceptionably favourable circumstances these are very frequently seven
in number. The generic name is derived from the Latin _potens_,
powerful, and refers to the strong medicinal qualities possessed by some
of the species of _Potentilla_. The root of the tormentil (_P.
tormentilla_), an allied species, is very powerfully astringent; it has
occasionally been substituted for oak-bark in tanning, and with equal
success, the leather being found to be in

[Illustration: _Cinquefoil._]

no way inferior in quality. The properties possessed by the roots of the
cinquefoil are very similar, but, from being less powerful in their
operation, are now rarely used, their value being naturally greater at a
time when stronger foreign astringents were not so readily procurable.
Tormentil root is still, however, retained in the Pharmacopœia. The
distinctive specific name of the present plant, _reptans_, has evident
allusion to the marked feature in its growth already referred to, being
derived from the Latin _reptare_, to creep. We are not aware of any
examples of the use of the cinquefoil in the art of any past period,
though from the size and beauty of form of the leaves and blossoms, and
from the grace and freedom of the curves of which the main stem is
capable, it appears to be well adapted to ornamental art. Refer to E. B.
432; F. L. vol. i. 37; M. B. 59; and P. F. 46, for the natural growth.

COCKLE. This, though now so frequently met with in the midst of the
corn, being in fact so common as to be classed amongst the farmer’s
pests, is not an indigenous plant; it has, however, been established so
long that it may very fairly be comprehended in our list. The botanical
name of the plant is _Lychnis githago_. The whole plant is closely
covered with soft hairs, giving it a woolly appearance. The large purple
flowers are very conspicuous, and have a curious effect, from the
segments of the calyx being so much longer than the petals of the
corolla. (_Calyx_, Gr., a cup, the outer and generally green portions of
a flower, the protecting member for the delicate organs within the
flower. When the calyx is cut up into several divisions each segment is
termed a _sepal_. _Corolla_, the floral ring next within the calyx,
ordinarily of a brilliant colour, the part which, for instance, in a
rose is pink: this, though sometimes in one piece, as in a blue-bell, is
ordinarily, as in the buttercup, composed of several similar members;
these are called _petals_.) The cockle will be found in flower during
the months of June, July, and August. Though admirably adapted for
service in ornamental art, the only example we can quote occurs in a
sixteenth-century MS., a missal, in the British Museum: the treatment is
very naturalistic. Drawings of the plant will be found in F. L. vol.
iii. 27; E. B. 215.

COLUMBINE (_Aquilegia vulgaris_), one of our most beautiful wild
flowers, derives, like the broom, an additional importance to the
ornamentist from its heraldic associations, the columbine being adopted
as a badge by the House of Lancaster, and also by the Derby family at a
time when every important house adopted some such symbol. The petals
bear a strong resemblance to birds; hence _Aquilegia_ is derived from
the Latin _aquila_, an eagle, while the English name is derived from
Lat. _columba_, a dove. An old English name for the plant is culverwort,
_culfre_ being the Anglo-Saxon word for pigeon. It will be found in
hedges and thickets, thriving more especially where the soil is
calcareous. Both the flower and leaf are very rich in character, and
well suited for the requirements of ornamental art. Examples may be seen
in the church of Shearbourne, Dorset, and in the spandrels of the canopy
of a brass in Exeter Cathedral, in memory of Sir Peter Courteney, one of
the adherents of the Lancastrian king, Henry IV. The columbine is a
favourite flower in cottage-gardens, and may be much more generally thus
met with than as a wild plant. It is in flower from May to July. A very
beautiful gradation of form is seen in the leaves, the lower ones being
of a very complex form, while the upper ones are very simple in outline.
Refer to E. B. 46, V. W. 367, for drawings.

The COMFREY (_Symphytum officinale_). This plant may be very commonly
found by the sides of streams, ditches, and other moist

[Illustration: _Comfrey._]

situations. The corolla of the flower is generally of a yellowish white,
but a variety having purple flowers is not uncommon in many localities;
we have seen it, for instance, growing in profusion on the banks of the
East Yar, between Brading and Sandown, in the Isle of Wight. The generic
name, _Symphytum_ is derived from a Greek verb signifying to unite, from
an old belief in the efficacy of the Comfrey in the healing of wounds.
A very marked peculiarity in the growth of the plant is the circinate,
or, as it is frequently termed, scorpoid arrangement of the flowers,
from a supposed resemblance between the spiral form of the inflorescence
and the tail of the scorpion; hence, in the same way, scorpion-grass is
one of the old English names of the familiar forget-me-not, a plant
belonging to the same natural order, the _Boraginaceæ_, and having the
same peculiarity of growth. We need scarcely say that in the Middle Ages
the favourite dogma that each plant had its undoubted value as a
remedial agent, and generally by its form or colour indicated its
medicinal use, was firmly held; thus the colour and shape of the flower
of the foxglove, formerly called the throatwort, were considered as
indications of its service in complaints affecting the throat, as its
older name implies; and the deep red colour often assumed, as the summer
advances, by the leaves of the herb-robert and others of the cranesbill
family, was deemed conclusive proof of the value of the plants in
stanching the flow of blood from a wound; hence, in the case of the
forget-me-not, we find an old writer on medicine referring to the
healing virtues of the plant as shown by its mode of growth: “The whole
branche of floures do turne themselves round like the taile of the
scorpion. The leaves of scorpion-grass applied to the place are a
present remedy against the stinging of scorpions, and likewise boyled in
wine and drunke, prevaile against the said bitings, as also of adders,
snakes, and such venomous beasts.” Drawings of the comfrey may be seen
on referring to F. L. vol. iv. 18; V. W. 432.

The FIELD CONVOLVULUS (_Convolvulus arvensis_). This pretty little plant
is very commonly found on grassy banks, open downs, or in our
corn-fields, running up the stems of the standing corn, and flowering
during June, July, and August. It is one of the enemies of the farmer,
from its spreading, to the detriment of the crops, over so large an area
of ground; and owing to the great depth to which the roots descend, it
is exceedingly difficult to get rid of it when it has once taken
possession. Its generic name, derived from the Latin _convolvo_, I
entwine, is very descriptive of the nature of the plant, and its English
name, bindweed, evidently embodies the same idea. Another of its old
English names, the withwinde, very beautifully expresses its lightness
and delicacy, unable to resist the force of the wind, but conquering by
yielding to its power. Where the plant occurs, it will generally be very
common, many square feet of ground being often covered by its long
trailing stems. When any suitable object, such as a grass stem, is met
with, the convolvulus, too weak to rise by itself, ceases to trail along
the ground, and twines round the support thus afforded, always ascending
in a spiral direction to the left, as do also the _C. major_ of the
flower-garden, the scarlet-runner bean, and many others; while others,
as the hop, invariably ascend in a spiral direction from left to right.
It may at first sight seem difficult to establish this, but if the
reader will imagine the plant in question turning round his own body, he
will at once be able to determine whether the plant in ascending would
cross in front of him from right to left, or from left to right. In
introducing this plant in ornament, it will be

[Illustration: _Convolvulus._]

[Illustration: _Convolvulus._]

necessary to remember, that though frequently represented as possessing
tendrils, it does not in nature acquire the needed support by such
means, the stalk itself being the part of the plant that entwines round
other plants. The means thus employed by climbing plants are very
varied; the ivy, for instance, throwing out root-like forms from the
stems, which, by their grasp and penetration into the hollows of
brickwork or the bark of other trees, amply suffice to support the
plant; the bryony, passion-flower, and many other plants throw out true
tendrils from the stem; the goose-grass clings by means of the small
hook-like appendages with which the stems and under sides of the leaves
are furnished; while in the pea the tendrils spring from the end of the
leaf-petiole. The _C. arvensis_, like the silver-weed, the pimpernel,
and many other equally familiar plants, seem to be cosmopolitan. De
Candolle, in his “Géographie Botanique,” records its occurrence in a
truly indigenous state in localities so widely differing in temperature,
soil, &c., as Sweden, Siberia, China, India, Persia, Arabia, Egypt,
Abyssinia, New Holland, Mauritius, the Azores, Canada, Mexico, and
Chili. The only instances of the use of the plant in mediæval ornament
with which we are acquainted are in wood-carving on the ends of the
stalls in Wells Cathedral, and in a similar position in the Church of
St. Gereon, Cologne; in each case the leaves only are represented.
Illustrations of the natural growth will be seen in S. B. 166; E. B.
923; T. N. O. 97; and P. F. 93.

The CORN BLUE-BOTTLE (_Centaurea Cyanus_) from its delicacy of growth,
and the beauty of the flower-heads, would be a valuable plant for the
decoration of surfaces requiring a delicate treatment, such as muslins
and lace. It is one of the characteristic flowers of the corn-field,
and, in conjunction with the poppy, would be valuable in any floral
grouping symbolic of autumn. The plant was at one time held to possess
great remedial virtue, though its use is now abandoned. The generic
name, _Centaurea_, refers to an old legend that the Centaur Chiron, when
wounded by Hercules, recovered his strength by the use of this herb. A
very characteristic name in some parts of the country is hurt-sickle,
in allusion to its hard and wiry stems. An example of its use in
ornamental art will be found in a sixteenth-century MS. in the Library
of the British Museum. The treatment, as is usual at that period of the
illuminator’s art, is very naturalistic. Drawings of the natural plant
may be seen in S. B. 159; E. B. 709; F. L. vol. vi. 62; and P. F. 8.

The CORN MARIGOLD (_Chrysanthemum segetum_) is, like the last, one of
the characteristic and striking plants of the harvest-field, the intense
scarlet of the poppy, the rich blue of the blue-bottle, and the
brilliant yellow of the present flower, forming a very beautiful trio.
The generic name, _Chrysanthemum_, alludes to this brilliancy of colour
seen in several of the species, being derived from two Greek words
signifying golden flower. There is considerable quaintness in the forms
of the leaves, and the general growth of the plant renders it well
adapted for art-treatment. We are unable to refer you to any examples of
its introduction in the ornament of the past, but any of our readers
desiring to remedy a neglect so unjustifiable will find reliable
drawings of it in E. B. 713; F. L. vol. vi. 60; P. F. 28.

The DAFFODIL (_Narcissus pseudo-narcissus_). This beautiful flower will
be found of value to the designer, both from its own inherent beauty,
and also more especially in combination with the primrose, wild
hyacinth, or cowslip, in any design where it is desirable to embody the
idea of spring, since it is one of the most striking plants of that
season of the year. The daffodil may be found in meadows and copses, and
is generally abundant throughout England, though in many cases probably
as an escape from the cottage-garden. In Ireland and Scotland it is
never met with except under such circumstances. Where the daffodil has
once established itself it grows with great freedom, and will generally
be met with in profusion, though it is so local in its growth, that even
if abundant in any one spot, it may frequently be sought for in vain
throughout the rest of a district. The flowers, of a pure and brilliant
yellow, grow singly upon the stalks, each rising directly from the root.
The daffodil has a very wide area of distribution, being met with
throughout the greater part of Europe, and more especially in the
south-west; it is, for instance, one of the characteristic plants of the
meadows and hillside pastures of Spain, together with the two-flowered
narcissus (_N. biflorus_), a plant which, though abundant in Southern
Europe, has never been naturalised in England. It may be frequently met
with in cultivation, and will easily be distinguished from the daffodil
from the flowers being generally in pairs upon the stem, and from their
creamy white or straw colour. The generic name, _Narcissus_, is derived
from a Greek word signifying stupor, in allusion to the heavy and
powerful odour of another species, the _N. poeticus_.

Drawings of the daffodil will be met with in E. B. 1501, and P. F. 89.
The daffodil being like the daisy and eglantine, what we may perhaps be
allowed to term a poet’s flower, a further reason for intimacy with it
is furnished to the designer, as he may possibly be required to make a
design for a page border to some _édition de luxe_ of Wordsworth or

The DAISY (_Bellis perennis_). So many rural and poetic associations
cluster around this “wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower,” that our list
would be sadly incomplete did it not find a place in it. Leaving the
consideration of these associations, however, we would desire to point
out that on its own inherent merits it is a plant admirably adapted for
art-work, the forms of the leaves, buds, and flowers being all very
ornamental in character, and well suited to the decoration of any light
fabric. The generic name, _Bellis_, testifies to the general
appreciation, being derived from the Lat. _bellus_, pretty. Daisy is a
corruption of its old English name, day’s eye.

    “As soon as ever the sunne ginneth west
     To sene this flower, how it will go to rest,
     For fear of night, so hateth she darkness.
     Well by reason men it call maie
     The Daisie, or else the Eye of the Daie.”

In France it is called _Marguerite_, from Lat. _margarita_, a
pearl,--hence ladies of gentle birth, of that name, frequently chose it
in the days of chivalry as their device. It may be seen carved in stone
on the gateway of St. John’s College, Cambridge, founded by Margaret,
Countess of Richmond. It also occurs in carvings at Cubberley,
Gloucestershire; Coton, in Cambridgeshire; and Culham, in Oxfordshire.

    “The daisie, or flower white and rede,
     And in French called la belle Marguerite,
     To herne I have so great affectioun
     As I sayd erst, when comen is the Maie,
     That in my bedde there dawneth me no daie
     That I n’am up and walking in the mede
     To see this floure ayenst the sunne sprede,
     So glad am I, that when I have presence
     Of it to doue it all reverence,
     As she that is of all floures the floure,
     Fulfilled of all vertue and honoure;
     And ever ylike faire and fresh of hewe;
     And ever I love it, and ever ylike newe.”

The family of Parr bore as one of their devices a tuft of daisies. The
daisy may be met with abundantly in pasture land and the grassy borders
of country roads, blooming freely from April to October. Illustrations
may be seen in E. B. 772; F. L. vol. i. 62; T. N. O. 76; P. F. 63.

The DOG-ROSE (_Rosa canina_). This is one of the commonest of our
numerous species of English wild rose--a family which, like the
brambles, willows, and others, has by some botanists been cut up into
several species from more or less obvious botanical marks, frequently of
a nature, however, which subjects them to be by other observers
considered as mere variations depending upon chance external influences;
thus, while one writer reduces the various rose forms to five specific
types, another, of equally high standing, mentions nineteen species as
occurring in Britain. This refinement of scientific observation will,
however, be of no real service to the designer: for his purpose the
dog-rose, the most familiar of our English species, may be accepted as a
fairly typical flower. The garden varieties of roses are derived from
the _Rosa sempervirens_ of Southern Europe, the _R. Indica_, an Asiatic
species, and many others. The sweet-briar, _R. rubiginosa_, one of our
wild English species, is also a favourite in many gardens from the
fragrance of its leaves when pressed in the hand. The

[Illustration: _Dog-Rose._]

word rose is derived, according to some authors, from the Celtic _rhos_,
which is in turn derived from the adjective _rhodd_, red; while others
affirm that it descends to us from the Latin _rosa_, itself deduced from
the Greek _rodon_, derived from _erythros_, red; but we are unable to
give any satisfactory clue to the meaning of the prefix “dog” in the
familiar English name, the same idea being also evidently expressed in
the specific word _canina_, in the French _rose de chien_, and the
German _Hundrose_. Some writers, however, imagine it to refer to the
uselessness of the plant, and quote the scentless or dog-violet as
another illustration in support of their theory. Even on the lowest
utilitarian ground this theory is scarcely tenable, since the plant is
largely used by gardeners as a stock for grafting, while the fruit is
also considerably employed in medicine. The rose, though commonly met
with in ornament throughout the whole of the Decorated and Perpendicular
periods of Gothic, is more especially found in the latter, since it was
then employed not merely on its own merits, but also as the badge of the
Tudors; hence, as an heraldic form, we frequently meet with it in
secular no less than in ecclesiastical work. It is also, we need
scarcely say, the badge of England, as the shamrock and thistle are of
Ireland and Scotland respectively. It was also the personal badge of
Edward I., and the family device of the De la Warres. Examples of the
heraldic use of the rose are very numerous; it may merely suffice to
mention Hampton Court and Henry VII.’s Chapel at Westminster as
abounding in illustrations. In the church at Hawton, Nottinghamshire, in
a sculptured representation of the Resurrection, there is as a
background a very elaborate and beautiful diaper of the rose--its
leaves, flowers, and buds being all employed; this, as the Rose of
Sharon, may be considered as introduced in a symbolic sense, though we
must here mention that the plant ordinarily known as the Rose of Sharon
is not a true rose at all botanically. It is one of the Hypericums. A
golden rose has from time to time been given by the popes to those whom
they more especially desired to reward for services rendered to the
Church: Henry VIII. of England received, together with his title
“Defender of the Faith,” this mark of honour from Pope Alexander VI. The
dog-rose will be found in flower in early summer, the colour of the
blossoms varying on different shrubs from pure white to a deep pink;
the brilliant scarlet fruit, an equally ornamental feature, being met
with as the season advances. Illustrations of the natural growth of the
plant will be seen in M. B. 139, S. C. 100, P. F. 7, 90, 96; and T. N.
O. 51.

Examples of its use in decorative art occur at Winchester, where a
hollow moulding is filled with a waved line of rose leaves and flowers;
in a boss in Beverley Minster; in a glass quarry at Yaxley, Suffolk; in
a more conventionalised treatment in a panel of Perpendicular period,
East Harling Church, Norfolk; a very good example as a glass quarry,
Milton Church, Cambridge; in a piece of oak-carving in the stalls at
Wells; in the carving of a tomb in Bourges Cathedral; a capital at
Miraflores; a hollow moulding wreathed with alternate flowers and leaves
in one of the doorways of Notre Dame, Paris. Many other instances might
be given, but these will suffice to show how favourite a plant the rose
has been in past ornament. The following extract from the old herbalist
Gerarde, though the adulation is, from its implied reference to
Elizabeth, somewhat fulsome, is a further illustration of its
association heraldically with the Tudors: “The plant of roses, though it
be a shrub full of prickles, yet it had bin more fit and convenient to
have placed it with the most glorious flowers of the world, than to
insert the same here among base and thorny shrubs” (this allusion refers
to Gerarde’s system of classification), “for the rose doth deserve the
chief and prime place among all flowers whatsoever, being not only
esteemed for his beauty, vertues, and his fragrant and odoriferous
smell, but also because it is the honour and ornament of our English
Scepter, in the uniting of those two most Royall Houses of Lancaster and

[Illustration: _Feverfew._]

The subject of our next illustration is derived from the FEVERFEW
(_Chrysanthemum parthenium_), a plant widely distributed over Britain,
but at the same time with doubtful claims to be considered a true
native; it is, however, thoroughly at home in those places in which it
is to be met with, and from the clear white daisy-like flowers and the
delicate green of its handsome foliage it merits the attention of
designers of ornamental art. From its lightness and the deep cutting of
the leaves, the feverfew would be found of more service in painted or
engraved ornament than in any kind of relief work. The feverfew has a
reputation among herbalists as a bitter and tonic; and no doubt, before
the introduction of quinine and such-like more powerful remedies, would
possess a valued and considerable remedial virtue. The familiar English
name implies this, and is one of the numerous class of names, as
eyebright, goutweed, lungroot, livelong, wormwood, &c., given to plants
in recognition of their real or fancied medicinal use. Drawings of the
natural growth of the feverfew may be seen in E. B. 715; M. B. 249; P.
F. 39.

FOOL’S PARSLEY. We have selected this plant, the _Æthusa cynapium_, as a
good representative of the very large order of plants known botanically
as the _Umbelliferæ_. The whole of the plants of this order, as the name
implies, have their flowers growing in umbels, that is to say, all the
flower-stalks start from one point on the stem, and radiate from the
common centre. Many of the _Umbelliferæ_, as the parsley, carrot,
fennel, and celery, must be familiar to our readers, though they may not
have noticed particularly this umbellate mode of flowering. Several of
the species are exceedingly poisonous: of these we may instance the
hemlock, the water-dropwort, and the present plant. With very few
exceptions, the flowers of the whole of the plants of this order are
either white or yellow. The fool’s parsley is so called from a slight
resemblance which the plant bears to the common parsley of the
kitchen-garden. Though the differences are not difficult to detect--the
flowers, for instance, of the fool’s parsley being white, and those of
garden-parsley yellow; the leaves of the first giving a disagreeable
odour when bruised, and those of the second a rich aromatic scent--the
want of a little circumspection has frequently led to serious and even
fatal results. The plant is the more dangerous from its being rarely met
with except on cultivated ground. The generic name, _Æthusa_, is given
to it in allusion to its acrid nature, being derived from a Greek word
signifying to burn, while _cynapium_ means dog’s parsley. Though as yet
we have said nothing but evil of it, it is but just to add in its
favour that, ornamentally, it is a very desirable plant for insertion in
our list, the leaves, flower-buds, and general growth being very
graceful, and well suited for the decoration of any delicate fabric. For
illustrations of the plant we would refer you to F. L. vol. i. 18; S. C.
8; S. B. 139. It will be found in flower during July and August.

The GROUND-IVY (_Nepeta glechoma_), the subject of our next two
illustrations, is so commonly distributed throughout Britain, that there
can be but little need of our dwelling at any great length upon a
description of it, though, from its habit of trailing on the ground and
among the roots of larger plants, it is not so conspicuous to the eye as
many others. Its English name, ground-ivy, refers to its slight
resemblance in mode of growth to the common ivy, though in every other
respect they are very dissimilar, the ground-ivy having rounded or
reniform leaves growing in pairs up the stem, the flowers large and of a
brilliant colour, tubular and bisymmetrical, while in the ivy the leaves
terminate in an acute point, and spring singly from the stem, the
flowers small, pale green, multisymmetrical in form, and composed of
five distinct petals. The generic name, _Nepeta_, is derived from
_nepa_, a scorpion, from an old belief that the bite of the scorpion was
rendered harmless if treated by means of a recipe of which a preparation
of our present plant was the leading ingredient. The flower of the
ground-ivy, though generally of a deep purplish blue, may sometimes be
met with of a pure white. This variation from a given colour to white is
comparatively not uncommon in many of our wild plants, though more
especially noticeable in

[Illustration: _Ground-Ivy._]

plants of normally blue or purple flowers: thus the purple foxglove,
blue Jacob’s ladder, pink herb-robert, purple snapdragon, blue harebell,
and many others, are occasionally to be found with white blossoms. The
ground-ivy, from its abundance, and also from its past and present
medicinal use, may be met with in the works of various authors under a
great choice of synonyms: of these alehoof is the most common; others,
almost equally familiar, being creep-by-ground and cat’s-foot. When not
in flower the general appearance of the marsh pennywort (_Hydrocotyle
vulgaris_) is, to a casual observer, not altogether unlike that of the
ground-ivy; but the pennywort is only met with on swampy ground, the
leaves are peltate or shield-like, the stalk rising from the centre of
the under side of the leaf, as we see it in the more familiar garden
nasturtium (_Tropæolum majus_), differing in these respects from the
ground-ivy. When in blossom, the contrast between the greenish-yellow
flower of the pennywort and the deep purple of the flowers of the
ground-ivy is too marked to permit of any chance of error. The only
examples of the use of the ground-ivy

[Illustration: _Ground-Ivy._]

with which we are acquainted in the ornament of the past are in a small
spandrel in one of the doorways at Rheims Cathedral, and on some of the
flooring tiles from the ruins of the Abbey of Chertsey, Surrey. In the
latter case the leaves are four in number, in a cruciform arrangement
within a quatrefoil--a very simple yet true and effective treatment of
the plant; for as the leaves grow, as we have already mentioned, in
pairs, and as each pair of leaves is placed upon the stem at right
angles to the pairs immediately above and beneath it, the effect
produced in looking down upon the plant is necessarily cruciform in
character. A great variety of these Chertsey tiles may be seen in the
South Kensington Museum: though very simple in design, they afford
excellent examples of the true application of the principles which
should govern the introduction of natural forms, and are well worthy of
the attention of the student of decorative art. In both these cases,
Rheims and Chertsey, the leaves alone are employed, as the flowers, from
their intricacy of detail and position upon the plant, would require the
aid of colour to bring them out with due effect; hence, while the
ground-ivy, during its period of flowering, is admirably adapted for
surface decoration, muslins, wall-papers, and many other such-like
purposes, it is but ill suited to relief-work in stone or wood. Refer to
S. B. 172; E. B. 1055; F. L. vol. ii. 44; M. B. 28, for illustrations of
the natural growth of the ground-ivy.

GROUNDSEL, though a plant exceedingly likely to be overlooked, is on
that account the more deserving of a place in our list, as it really
possesses qualities which fully entitle it to the consideration of the
student of ornamental art, the general growth of a good specimen being
very vigorous and characteristic, and the variety of beautiful forms
seen in the leaves a further recommendation. The botanical name is
_Senecio vulgaris_. _Senecio_ is derived from _senex_, an old man, in
allusion to the grey heads of seed-down which succeed the blossoms. The
groundsel may be met with abundantly almost everywhere, and may at all
times of the year be found in flower. Drawings of the plant may be seen
in E. B. 749; F. L. vol. i. 61; P. F. 2.

The HAREBELL (_Campanula rotundifolia_). This graceful little plant may
generally be found in profusion on dry and hilly pastures and heaths,
though by no means in such localities exclusively, as the roadside
hedge-bank is another favourite spot. There are ten species indigenous
to England, most of them of great beauty and adaptability to
art-requirements: of these we may in particular mention the _C.
hederacea_, the ivy-leaved campanula, a little plant by no means
uncommon in moist shady pastures and swampy low-lying ground. The
present species is abundant everywhere throughout Europe and Northern
Asia. The Canterbury bell (_C. medium_) is an allied and familiar garden

[Illustration: _Harebell._]

The generic name, _Campanula_, means a little bell, and from the shape
of the corolla is aptly applied to these plants. _Rotundifolia_, meaning
round-leaved, seems at first sight a misnomer, as the leaves most easily
visible on a cursory glance at the plant are thin and strap-shaped. The
lower leaves of the plant, however, are rounded in form; and, as we
study the foliage, we shall see a delicate ascending gradation of form,
from the rounded leaves at the lower end of the stem, to the thin,
almost grass-like leaves of the upper part. Drawings of the harebell
will be found in T. N. O. 80; P. F. 12.

The HAZEL-NUT (_Corylus avellana_) is so familiar a shrub that any
lengthened description of it must be needless, or, to quote our old
writer, Gerarde: “Our hedge-nut, or hazel-nut tree, which is very well
knowne, and therefore needeth not any description, whereof there are
also sundry sorts, some great, some little, as also one that is in our
gardens, which is very

[Illustration: _Nut._]

great, bigger than any filberd, and yet a kinde of hedge-nut; this then
that hath beene said shall suffice for hedge-nuts.” The smaller twigs of
the hazel afford an excellent charcoal for artistic purposes, and the
long straight shoots, thrown up with such rapidity and vigour, are
largely employed in the manufacture of the crates in which earthenware
is packed--a use for which their size and flexibility combined with
great strength admirably fit them, as the rods, when the wood is still
green, may be bent almost double before they will give way. There is a
pleasing appropriateness in its English name, hazel-nut, derived from
the Anglo-Saxon _haesel_, a hat, and _hnut_, a nut or ball, which we
notice and appreciate when we see the fruit in its natural state,
surrounded by the foliaceous and cap-like partial envelope formed by the
scales of the involucre. The generic name also, _Corylus_, refers to
this peculiarity of growth, being derived from a Greek word signifying a
covering for the head. The natural order to which the hazel belongs
includes several trees of great value to man, either on account of their
timber or their fruit--such, for example, as the beech, Spanish
chestnut, and the oak; and in the olden time, when a belief in the use
of the divining-rod, as an indicator of subterranean springs, was
common, the mystic virtue was sought in the forked twigs of the hazel.
The size of the leaves and the striking character of the fruit alike
combine to render it a plant admirably fitted for the purposes of
ornamental art, though the only example of its use, so far as we are
aware, may be seen in a hollow moulding in the cathedral at Winchester,
where, upon a continuous scroll running along the centre of the
moulding, both foliage and fruit are introduced. The leaves are deeply
serrated, and the nuts grow in clusters of two, three, or four, the
general treatment being very naturalistic. Among the many extraordinary
remedies in use by our ancestors, hazel-nuts occupied a place, being
employed in complaints affecting the chest, though, even then, when
scarcely any reputed remedy seems to have been thought too fanciful and
absurd, some appear to have ventured to doubt the efficacy of the
medicine, bringing down upon themselves the scathing rebuke of the
faculty, as we find in the following extract from an old medical work,
where, after the setting forth of the benefits to be derived from the
use of the hazel as a remedial agent, he goes on to say:--“And if this
be true, as it is, then why should the vulgar so familiarly affirm that
eating nuts causeth shortness of breath? than which nothing is falser.
For how can that which strengthens the lungs cause shortness of breath?
I confess the opinion is far older than I am; I know tradition was a
friend to error before, but never that he was the father of slander; or
are men’s tongues so given to slandering one another, that they must
slander nuts too to keep their tongues in use? And so thus have I made
an apology for nuts, which cannot speak for themselves.” For
illustrations of the growth of the nut, see W. H. H., Plate B, Fig. 1;
T. N. O. 127.

Our next illustration is derived from the HAWTHORN, WHITETHORN, or MAY
(_Cratægus oxycantha_), a plant familiar to every one, from its being so
extensively used for hedgerows; its strength, closeness of growth, and
spiny character, admirably adapting it to the purpose. The wood is very
hard, and will take a high polish; the generic name, _Cratægus_, from a
Greek word signifying strength, being an allusion to this characteristic
of the plant. Its use as a hedgerow plant in England dates, according to
Sowerby, from the time of the Romans, and of this there can be but
little doubt, as its most common name--hawthorn--is, literally,
the hedge-thorn, from the Saxon word _hage_. The second
name--white-thorn--has been given to it in contradistinction to the
black-thorn (_Prunus spinosa_), a somewhat similar, and, in a wild
state, almost equally common plant; the

[Illustration: _Hawthorn._]

stems of the latter being very dark in colour, while in the hawthorn or
white-thorn they are comparatively light. The third name, May, has
obvious reference to the time of flowering. The leaves of the plant are
exceedingly varied in form, affording a great choice for the selection
of the ornamentist; some being very simple in character, while others
are deeply cut, and very rich and beautiful in outline. A permanent
variety may be occasionally met with, in which the leaves, instead of
being of the ordinary deep and bluish green, are in addition irregularly
blotched with varying and intermingling tones of yellow. The flowers
also of the hawthorn are subject to considerable variation in colour:
the typical state is a pure milky white; but owing to the nature of the
soil in which the plant is found, the blossoms may occasionally be seen
varying from a pale pink to almost crimson. The berries, also, though
generally of a deep crimson colour, are sometimes of an intensely golden
yellow. An old writer, Culpepper, in his “British Herbal,” a treatise
partly astrological and partly medicinal, having first stated that the
plant is under the dominion of Mars, thus defines the medicinal
properties of the hawthorn:--“The seeds in the berries, beaten to
powder, being drank in wine, are held singular good against the dropsy.
The seed, cleared from the down, bruised and boiled in wine, and drank,
is good for inward tormenting pains. If cloths and sponges be wet in the
distilled water, and applied to any place wherein thorns and splinters,
or the like, do abide in the flesh, it will notably draw them forth. And
thus you see the thorn gives a medicine for its own pricking, and so
doth almost everything else.”

Though to a certain extent foreign to our subject, we may perhaps be
permitted to say that, to the naturalist, as well as to the botanist and
the designer of ornamental art, the tree possesses considerable
attractions, the berries being the favourite fruit of many of our birds,
and the foliage being sometimes completely stripped by the larvæ of
various butterflies and moths, such as the small Ermine, the Brimstone
moth, and many others; while among the poets, Chaucer, Milton,
Shakspeare, Wordsworth, Goldsmith, Bampfylde, and Tennyson, have all
found in it a source of beauty and inspiration. It has also been one of
the favourite plants of the ornamentists, occurring very commonly in the
works of the Middle Ages. It would be both tedious and unnecessary to
give anything like an exhaustive catalogue of its use in past art: as
good examples out of many, we would merely cite its occurrence in a
finial in the Lady Chapel, Exeter; as a stone-diaper alternating with
oak, at Lincoln; in two fine spandrels, and a beautiful capital, very
full and rich in its wreathing, in the Chapter-house, Southwell. Other
examples occur in the cathedrals at Ely, Wells, and Winchester. Wherever
met with in ornamental art, the leaves and berries are the parts
selected: to the best of our knowledge the flowers have never, in any
instance, been introduced, no doubt from the fact of the minuteness and
delicacy of each individual blossom, and its habit of growing in
clusters, which, though extremely beautiful in nature, are, from their
intricacy of detail, unsuited to the purposes of the ornamentist.
Similarly, though the plant in its natural growth is often exceedingly
spiny, it is, in ornamental art, represented as almost or entirely
without this characteristic feature, as there would be a great practical
difficulty, in any kind of relief-work at least, in the satisfactory
introduction of forms so minute and fragile, yet requiring so high a
relief. Drawings of hawthorn will be found in P. F. 68; T. N. O. 52.

The HERB-ROBERT (_Geranium Robertianum_) is one of the numerous family
of cranesbills, so called from a supposed resemblance between the form
of the fruit and the bill of that bird, a resemblance also indicated in
the generic name, _Geranium_, derived

[Illustration: _Herb-Robert._]

from the Greek _geranos_, a crane. The herb-robert is one of the most
abundantly distributed plants of the genus, being met with throughout
the whole of Britain and in many other parts of the world, growing upon
all kinds of soils, and flourishing equally well upon hedge-banks, waste
ground, and old walls. Owing to the foliage turning a brilliant crimson
in autumn, the plant becomes very striking and conspicuous as the year
advances, a peculiarity which will greatly aid its identification by
those of our readers who are not acquainted with it. The flowers are of
a delicate pink colour, though they may occasionally be met with of a
pure white: this variety grows abundantly near Nutfield, in Surrey, for
instance. The whole of the cranesbill family will well repay the
attention and study of the ornamentist, the dove’s-foot cranesbill (_G.
molle_), and the blue meadow cranesbill (_G. pratense_), being
especially suited to the requirements of the designer. The latter is a
very striking plant, and when once seen cannot well be mistaken, each
flower being almost two inches in diameter, of a deep purple blue, and
veined with lines of reddish purple: the leaves also are very deeply
cut, and of a highly ornamental character. An illustration of the
ornamental treatment of the herb-robert may be seen in an elaborate
specimen of embroidery, last-century work, in the South Kensington
Museum; while drawings of the natural plant can be referred to in T. N.
O. 38; V. W. 412; F. L. vol. i. 52; P. F. 34.

HOLLY (_Ilex aquifolium_). This plant, from its association with winter,
should be one of those familiar to the student of ornamental art.
Drawings of it may be found in S. B. 184; W. H. H., Plate A, Fig. 4; P.
F. 27; G. O. 95. The holly is indigenous to most parts of Europe. Its
influence may be traced in the names of several places, as for example
Holmwood, near Dorking; the holly by old writers being also termed Holm
and Hulver. Though ordinarily met with as a hedgerow shrub, it will, if
allowed to grow, attain to no inconsiderable height--often thirty to
forty feet; while a particularly fine specimen at Claremont, in Surrey,
is a little over eighty feet high, and has a trunk six feet in
circumference. The growth is very slow, the timber close-grained and
hard, the annual layers of woody fibre being exceedingly compact. This
fineness of grain, its whiteness and its beauty when polished, render it
of great service in carving and inlay work. It has also been extensively
used in the place of box for wood-engraving, and for the blocks used for
engraving the patterns of calicoes and wall-papers. It would no doubt be
still more extensively used than it is did not its rarity render it so
costly, as, though holly bushes are plentiful enough, the owner of a
fine tree is generally loath to have it cut down. The chief use of the
holly is in the formation of hedges, as its formidable spines, evergreen
foliage, its slight attraction for insects, and closeness of growth, are
all valuable recommendations; we often thus meet with it in
old-fashioned gardens. “Is there under heaven a more glorious and
refreshing object of the kind than an impregnable hedge, of 160 feet in
length, 7 feet high, and 5 in diameter, which I can show in my poor
gardens at any time of the year, glittering with its armed and varnished
leaves? It mocks at the rudest assaults of the weather, beasts, or
hedge-breakers.” This hedge, the pride of John Evelyn’s garden, did not
prove so impregnable to the hedge-breaker as its owner fondly thought,
since one of the great amusements of the Czar Peter, during his stay
with Evelyn, was to trundle a wheelbarrow through it, to the ultimate
ruin of the hedge and the no small sorrow of its hospitable owner.

A variety of holly having yellow berries is sometimes met with. Some
little while ago, a branch with bright orange-coloured berries was
exhibited at one of the meetings of the Linnæan Society, a scion of the
yellow-fruited variety having been grafted on a scarlet-berried stock,
with this curious result. The holly may also sometimes be met with
having variegated leaves, the normal dark glossy green being blotched
with a clear yellow or white. The lower leaves of the tree are edged
with sharp spines, while the upper branches have the foliage quite free
from these:--

    “Below, a circling fence, its leaves are seen
         Wrinkled and keen;
     No grazing cattle, through their prickly round,
         Can reach to wound;
     But as they grow where nothing is to fear,
     Smooth and unarmed the pointless leaves appear.”

Ornamentally, the holly may be met with in a glass quarry in Brandeston
Church, Suffolk; also on a mediæval flooring-tile in the British Museum.
We are not aware of any other ancient examples of its use, though
doubtless those given do not exhaust the list. We trust, should another
edition be called for, to be able, by further investigation, to remedy
this shortcoming. The name holly is a corruption of holy, and alludes to
its connection with Christmas. In some of the old herbals it is written
“holy tree,” while in some countries this connection is rendered still
more emphatic, the German name being _Christdorn_, the Danish and
Swedish, _Christorn_.

The next subject we have chosen as an illustration of the adaptability
of our native plants to the purposes of the ornamentist is the HOP
(_Humulus lupulus_). Though we do not recall any example of its use in
the ornament of the past, except in one of the capitals at Southwell
Minster, it nevertheless appears to us a plant well deserving of a place
in our columns. Its climbing habit, the beauty of the leaves, and the
size of the cones, are all features which in an especial manner seem to
fit it for the service of the designer; and it appears curious that,
while so great a choice was at the disposal of the old carvers, they
practically left so large a field untouched. Our architecture, for
instance, abounds with details of oak, maple, and hawthorn; yet the nut
and the wild rose, plants at least as striking and as common, occur but
rarely, while the hop, bindweed, blackberry, and many others, seem to
have been almost entirely neglected. The hop is found in a truly wild
state in our hedgerows and copses, its weak stems,

[Illustration: _Hop_.]

powerless to support themselves, trailing a long distance, and running
up any tree or other support with which they may come in contact, and
wreathing it with their beautiful clusters of foliage and fruit. It is
also largely cultivated in England, France, Belgium, and Germany; its
tonic properties, and the fragrant bitter principle found in it,
chemically termed lupuline, being, it is almost needless to say,
utilised in the making of beer. It was thus first used in the reign of
Henry VIII., before that time the fresh top shoots of broom being
employed to give the desired bitterness. The young shoots are in some
parts of the country cooked and eaten like asparagus. Gerarde, writing
in the reign of Elizabeth, says, “The hop joyeth in a fat and fruitfull
ground, also it groweth amongst briers and thornes about the borders of
fields. The flowers are used to season beere or ale with, and too many
do cause bitternesse thereof, and are ill for the head. The manifold
vertues of hops do manifest argue the wholesomnesse of beere, for the
hops rather make it a physicall drinke to keep the body in health, than
an ordinary drinke for the quenching of our thirst.” The leaves of the
hop are sometimes heart-shaped, at others divided into three very
distinctly marked lobes, in either case the margins being deeply
serrate. The order to which the hop belongs includes many plants useful
to man, as, for instance, among several others, the hemp, mulberry, fig,
the _Urostigma elasticum_, yielding india-rubber, and the bread-fruit

About forty million pounds weight of hops are annually employed in
brewing in England. Kent and Surrey are the chief means of supply,
though those grown in the rich soil of the Vale of Severn, in the
neighbourhood of Worcester, are by no means inferior to the best
Kentish. The crop is a very speculative one, the dangers which surround
it being legion; the profits are, however, so great that the grower is
reimbursed if one crop in three should turn out well. The hops grown in
the neighbourhood of Farnham command the highest prices. The etymology
of the word is unknown; the Germans term it _Hopfen_. Hops have been
cultivated in Germany from time immemorial, and it is from thence that
we derive both the plant and its name. Drawings of the natural growth
will be found in E. B. 1284, S. C. 41; T. N. O. 125; and P. F. 4.

[Illustration: Yellow-horned Poppy.]

The YELLOW-HORNED POPPY (_Glaucium luteum_) will no doubt have attracted
the attention of many from the peculiarity of its habitat, growing and
flourishing as it does by the seashore, where little else appears to
thrive, and by the delicate green of its foliage, the brilliant yellow
of its blossom, and its spreading growth, covering large expanses of the
shingly beach with a very striking and beautiful carpet. The pods, a
highly ornamental feature, may occasionally be found almost a foot in
length, and, together with the form of leaf and locality of growth,
effectually distinguish it from the yellow Welsh poppy (_Meconopsis
Cambrica_). The scarlet-horned and the violet-horned poppies, allied
species, are both exceedingly rare in England: the latter, from its
finely-cut leaves and size of the flowers, is well adapted to
art-purposes. The yellow-horned poppy will be found in flower from June
to October. Drawings of it occur in E. B. 66; P. F. 91.

[Illustration: _Ivy._]

IVY (_Hedera helix_). We have already, in speaking of the ground-ivy,
dwelt to a certain extent upon the characteristics of the present plant,
and, from its abundance and conspicuous appearance, any lengthened
descriptive details must be unnecessary, as there can be but few to whom
the ivy is not perfectly familiar. We meet with it upon old buildings,
rocks, and in the woods and hedgerows, running over the surface of the
ground, or covering the trunks and main branches of the trees with its
interlacing stems and masses of rich foliage. Opinions have been very
varied as to whether the luxuriant growth of the ivy is detrimental or
not to the trees which it embraces; for while some have considered that
its presence is a benefit, and particularly in severe winters, others
have held that the compression caused by the long and closely adhering
branches impairs the vigour and stunts the growth of the tree. The
belief that the ivy, like the mistletoe, draws its nourishment from the
tree is now no longer held, as it has been satisfactorily proved that
the so-called rootlets (or, as they are perhaps more expressively termed
by De Candolle, _crampons_) which we see thrown out from the clinging
stems do not drain the sap of the supporting tree, but must be regarded
as a beautiful mechanical contrivance to aid, by their support and
grasp, the ascent of the ivy. We find that these little bodies are
equally developed where masses of rock

[Illustration: _Ivy_.]

have to be scaled, and that the plant thrives with equal vigour where
support is clearly their sole function; and if, on the other hand, the
ivy runs upon the ground, the _crampons_ are not developed, as no such
supporting members are then needed. The ivy is one of the plants
indigenous to Britain, and derives its familiar name from the
Anglo-Saxon _ifig_. Considerable differences of opinion have been held
as to the meaning of the generic name, _Hedera_: the best derivation
appears to us to be that which assigns as its origin the old Celtic word
for rope or cord, _hedra_, as it exactly expresses the characteristic
appearance of the growth. The ivy flowers during October and November, a
time of the year when but few other plants are in blossom; hence it
becomes the favourite resort of various insects, while the berries are
fully ripe by March, and afford a welcome food for the blackbird,
missal-thrush, wood-pigeon, and many others, at a season when, from the
scarcity of other food, they become peculiarly acceptable. The Romans
dedicated the ivy to Bacchus, and in their sculpture he is generally
represented as crowned by an ivy wreath, from an old belief, mentioned
by Pliny and others, that the plant thus worn neutralised the
intoxicating effects of wine. The leaves of the ivy vary very
considerably in form, a feature which the ornamentist will appreciate.
The leaves upon the flowering branches are somewhat egg or heart shaped,
with a very acute point, the more familiar ornamental form of the
five-lobed leaf not being found upon this portion of the plant; hence it
is perhaps scarcely legitimate to employ the berries with the
five-pointed form of leaf, though in the introduction of the plant in
the ornament of the Middle Ages this was entirely disregarded. The ivy
was one of the favourite plants of the mediæval ornamentist. Examples of
its use are very numerous: of these we need mention but a few. We find
the leaves and branches alone introduced, for instance, in wood-carving
in the stalls of the choir of St. Margaret’s Church, Lynn; in stonework,
as a crocket, in the Chapter-house, Wells; as the foliage of one of the
capitals in the choir of Lincoln Cathedral; and in a beautiful example
at the springing of an arch at the Minster, Southwell. We find the
berries introduced with the leaves (in every case the leaf having five
points) in a hollow moulding in the cloisters at Burgos in a
particularly beautiful manner; and in Paris on one of the capitals of
the Sainte Chapelle, and again in a similar position in the chancel of
Notre Dame--the first of these being twelfth-century work, and curious
from the very acute form of leaf employed; the second dating from the
fourteenth century. A very good English example may be seen in a
spandrel in the Chapter-house, Southwell. In ancient art we find the
Egyptians representing Osiris as bearing an ivy-wreathed _thyrsus_; and
upon the Greek and Etruscan vases preserved in the British Museum we
frequently see running bands of ornament which we can have little doubt
are based upon the ivy: in most of the examples the berries are
introduced together with the heart-shaped form of leaf, though in a few
cases a three-pointed or a rounded form of leaf, still distinctly
ivy-like in character, is substituted. Refer to T. N. O. 71; G. O. 93.

Our next illustration is derived from the IVY-LEAVED SPEEDWELL
(_Veronica hederifolia_), a plant of frequent occurrence, but which,
from its weak trailing habit and small size, may very easily be
overlooked. It may generally be met with on hedge-banks, and flowers
freely from March to August with a delicate pale blue bi-symmetrical
blossom. Drawings of the ivy-leaved speedwell will be found in E. B.
970; S. B. 184.

Several of the veronicas are well adapted, from their grace and delicacy
of form, to the purposes of ornamental art, the brooklime (_V.
beccabunga_) and the germander speedwell (_V. chamædrys_) being
especially good. The flowers of all the species are bisymmetrical in
form. The germander speedwell is by some writers supposed to be the true

[Illustration: _Ivy-leaved Speedwell._]

The MUSK MALLOW (_Malva moschata_), and the COMMON MALLOW (_M.
sylvestris_), the subjects of our next illustrations, are both common
plants, the musk mallow being frequently met with, and more especially
on gravelly soils, while the common mallow, though rare in Scotland, is
abundant throughout England on all kinds of ground. The flower of the
common mallow is of a pale purplish tint, with the veins of a darker
purple: a very rare variety has been met with, having the flowers of a
pure blue. The leaves are round in general outline, but deeply lobed
into five or seven divisions, and in olden time, before the introduction
of many of our present vegetables into England, were a common article of
diet. This, together with the musk mallow and the marsh mallow (_Althæa
officinalis_), possesses considerable medicinal repute, the whole plant
being mucilaginous and demulcent in character. The roots of the Althæa,
boiled in water, will yield

[Illustration: _Common Mallow._]

[Illustration: _Musk Mallow._]

one half their weight of a glutinous matter, of great value from its
emollient qualities; the leaves and fruit will also yield it, but in a
lesser degree. The virtues of the family have long been recognised.
Pliny held that whosoever should take a little of the extract should
throughout that day be free from all fear of disease. Dioscorides
considered it a sure antidote in cases of poisoning; while Hippocrates
taught that its soothing action especially fitted it as a vulnerary. The
flowers of the musk mallow are very large, and of a pure and delicate
pink, the leaves very deeply divided, a feature distinguishing it from
all the other British species of mallow. Its English name is suggested
by the slight musky smell of the foliage if pressed in the hand. The
_Malvaceæ_ are chiefly tropical plants; about six hundred species are
known, almost all possessing the mucilaginous character of our British
species, many yielding in addition a valuable fibre, and some American
and Asiatic species producing the well-known cotton, a filamentous
substance enveloping the seeds. The hollyhock of our gardens also
belongs to this family. The generic name, _Malva_, is derived from a
Greek word signifying to soften, in allusion to the soothing effect of
the greater number of the genus, while the English name has clearly
descended from the Anglo-Saxon _malu_. Drawings of the common mallow may
be seen in F. L. vol. ii. 51; M. B. 54; P. F. 1; V. W. 393. The musk
mallow will be found in F. L. vol. iv. 50; T. N. O. 23.

[Illustration: _Maple._]

The MAPLE (_Acer campestre_) is generally met with as a small hedgerow
tree throughout England, but it is not common in either Scotland or
Ireland. The wood, though small in section, is often very beautifully
veined, and thus becomes of service for furniture, inlay, &c. The bark
is exceedingly rough, full of deep furrows, and very much resembling
cork in its appearance. The fruit is winged. The specific name,
_campestre_, refers to the localities in which the plant may be found,
the open fields; while the generic name, _Acer_, sharp or hard, in
Celtic _ac_, has been bestowed upon it from the toughness of the wood.
It was extensively used by the ancient Britons in the fabrication of
weapons of war--spikes, spears, and lance handles. The English name
evidently descends from the Saxon _mapul-dre_. We thus in these few
words, _Acer campestre_, the maple, learn where the plant is to be
found; one of its striking features, the hardness of the wood; and also,
from its Saxon name, the fact of its being one of our indigenous shrubs.
This has, from the beautiful forms of the leaves and fruit, been largely
introduced in mediæval work. It occurs, for instance, very beautifully
treated, as one of a series of small spandrels in the stalls of Lincoln
Cathedral, and again in a spandrel in the choir of Winchester. On the
Continent two very beautiful examples of it are seen in hollow mouldings
in the cathedrals of Evreux, and of Notre Dame, Paris. All these
specimens are of the fourteenth century. Drawings of the natural growth
may be seen in T. N. O. 30; P. F. 26; G. O. 94.

KING-CUP, or MARSH MARIGOLD (_Caltha palustris_), a plant by no means
uncommonly met with in marshy ground, water-courses, and such-like
localities. It may frequently be found in tidal streams, growing in such
a position that at high tide it is completely covered; we have thus seen
it by the side of the Thames, flourishing in great vigour and beauty,
and at full tide swaying with the force of the stream at a depth of from
one to two feet from the surface. In such situations the plant grows
with luxuriance, and from the large size and brilliant yellow of its
star-like flowers, the vigorous growth of the rich green foliage, and
the long succulent stems, it becomes a striking feature even in the mass
of bold healthy vegetation so commonly found by the edges of a
water-course: these, therefore, are the characters which, in embodying
the plant in any design, we must endeavour to enforce. We are
unacquainted with any early examples of the use of the marsh marigold,
except in one page of a fifteenth-century illustration. This is the more
curious since the name marigold has reference to its use in the
church-decorations of the Middle Ages, upon those days more especially
devoted to the festivals associated with the Virgin Mary; we should
naturally, therefore, have thought that, thus brought before the
attention, its ornamental features would have been perceived and
permanently embodied in some capital or spandrel. The generic name,
_Caltha_, is derived from a Greek word signifying cup, and expressively
points out a beautiful feature in the form of the flower; while the
specific name, _palustris_, is drawn from the Latin _palus_, a marsh,
and clearly indicates the localities naturally chosen by the plant. The
plant will be found in flower in the spring, remaining for a
considerable time in full bloom, and from its perennial nature will,
when once established in any locality, soon become a permanent addition
to the flora of the district. Representations of the natural growth of
the marsh marigold will be found in E. B. 40; P. F. 54.

The MISTLETOE--Anglo-Saxon, _mistelta_ (_Viscum album_)--is so well
known that it would appear strange that so familiar a plant has been but
little employed in mediæval art, did we not remember that its pagan
associations had placed it under a ban. The only example of its use that
has come under our observation is in one of the spandrels of a tomb in
Bristol Cathedral. The natural growth will be found portrayed in M. B.
270; W. H. H., Plate A, Fig. 3; P. F. 88. The lightness of the plant,
and its association with Christmas, seem features that render a
knowledge of it desirable to the ornamentist. It appears to us a plant
capable of very extensive use in the various developments of decorative
art. We need only mention a few--the backs of playing-cards,
earthenware, muslins, chintzes, wall-papers. Many other uses will, no
doubt, readily suggest themselves to our readers.

[Illustration: _Mistletoe._]

The OAK (_Quercus robur_), while perhaps our best-known indigenous tree,
from its wealth of legendary, religious, and historic associations, has
also been one of the favourite subjects of the ornamentist, being
abundantly found in carving, stencilling, draperies, glass, &c., both in
England and on the Continent,

[Illustration: _Oak._]

throughout the whole range of the Decorated and Perpendicular styles of
Gothic, and the corresponding periods in France, Spain, and Germany, and
also afterwards in the various modifications of the Renaissance. To
refer at any length to the varied associations surrounding it would be
foreign to our present purpose, though its sacred character in the
Druidical rites of the ancient Britons, the importance of its timber for
the purposes of the shipwright and architect, the commercial value of
the bark for use in tanning, leading to the felling of thousands of
trees every year, its use in medicine, the bark being a powerful
astringent, and an infusion from the galls so frequently found upon the
oak being an excellent antidote in cases of poisoning by the tartrate of
antimony, are all points of interest or utility in connection with it.
It has also been one of the favourite trees of the poets--Dryden, Pope,
Cowper, Wordsworth, and many others, having referred to it in their
writings; while to the artist the rugged majesty and vigour of the
branches in winter, the brilliant bronze red of the early spring
foliage, the deep mass of dark green leaves in summer-time, or the fiery
glow it bears when touched by the frosts of advancing winter, render it
at all times a beautiful and striking object in the landscape. The galls
so generally met with upon the leaves of the oak are caused by a small
insect, the _Cynips Quercus-folii_, which, by puncturing the leaf and
laying an egg in the wound, causes a diseased and abnormal growth of the
part: on cutting one of these galls open the grub will generally be
found within. The galls chiefly used in medicine and commerce, though
similar in their origin, are the work of another little insect on a
different and foreign species of oak.

Though the oak is so familiar a tree in our woods and hedgerows, it must
at one time, when England was extensively covered by forests, have been
still more abundant. We are led to this conclusion from the great number
of places whose names, handed down to us from our early history, derive
their force and meaning from this abundance: thus Ockham, in Surrey, is
literally Ocham, the place of oaks, a title which it still well
deserves. Ockley, Acton, Acworth, and many more examples, might be
cited. Superstition, too, with its usual fertility of invention, has not
failed to detect the strange and marvellous in the oak. Of this, did
space permit, and were it not somewhat foreign to our subject, we could
quote many curious instances.

In the works of the ornamentist, to the best of our knowledge, the _Q.
robur_ form of the oak has been exclusively used. To give an extended
list of the places where illustrations of its use in design occur would
be to devote far more space to it than is really needful: as an example
of its use in stonework, we would instance a small, but good capital at
Ely, where one pleasing, natural, and ornamental feature, the empty cup
of the acorn contrasting with the other forms, is very well introduced.
We see this same attention to natural detail in some flowing foliage in
a hollow moulding at Henry VII.’s Chapel, Westminster: the leaves are so
deeply cut into lobes, and so modified in form, that except for the
presence of the acorns, we should not recognise the foliage as being
that of the oak at all. A very clear and good piece of oak is introduced
in some wood-carvings at the ends of the stalls at Wells Cathedral;
again, in crockets at Exeter, in the Lady Chapel; in a stone boss, St.
Cuthbert’s screen, St. Alban’s Abbey Church; in wooden spandrels at
Winchester, and Northfleet Church, Kent; as a diaper in glass quarries
at Fulbourne and Waterbeach Churches, in Cambridgeshire; and as a
carving at the arch-springing at Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire. On
the Continent, in Burgos Cathedral, we meet with several exceedingly
beautiful carvings of the maple, plane, vine, and many other
plants--among them a square panel filled with oak, and a very graceful
running band of leaves and acorns round the tomb of Don Juan II.; and in
Paris, in the Sainte Chapelle, we also find a hollow moulding filled
with running oak foliage. In the South Kensington Museum many excellent
fragments of wood-carving are preserved, and among these the oak is very
often visible; while in the ceramic collection we frequently see the
borders of the Majolica dishes and plates entirely composed of
interlaced branches of oak. The oak is, in this latter series of
examples, of heraldic significance as the badge of the Dukes of Urbino.
Representations of the natural growth of the oak may be seen in E. B.
1288; M. B. 126; P. F. 9; S. C. 151; G. O. 95; T. N. O. 127.

OX-EYE DAISY (_Chrysanthemum leucanthemum_). The impressions we at once
derive on seeing the natural plant are--first, the size and brilliant
star-like character of the flowers, as we view it growing amidst the
long grass; secondly, the beautiful contrast of form, colour, and light
and shade between the deep yellow, convex central portion and the
brilliant white and concave rays surrounding it; and thirdly, the
comparative smallness and insignificance of the leaves: hence it appears
to us that in any adaptation of the plant to the purposes of the
designer, these are salient points to be observed. We find it growing
very freely in meadows, on the sunny side of railway banks, &c., and,
where found at all, generally in great profusion. During the past
summer, by the side of the river Wey, we came across a plant that had
firmly established itself, and was growing and flowering in full health
and vigour in the crown of a pollard willow tree, about eight feet from
the ground. It is one of the plants regarded by the farmer with dislike,
as it generally indicates great dryness of soil, and,

[Illustration: _Ox-eye Daisy._]

from its abundance and the perennial nature of the root, can scarcely be
dislodged where it has once fairly taken possession. The whole plant
varies from one to two feet in height, blossoming in June and July. The
garden chrysanthemum is a Japanese allied species, considerably modified
by cultivation. It may be seen painted on Japanese plates, screens, &c.
So far as we are aware, the ox-eye seems to have been but little used in
ornamental art, the following examples being the only cases of its
occurrence with which we are acquainted:--On a label termination to one
of the windows in the presbytery, Winchester, where we find the flower
in the centre of the boss very clearly and unmistakably rendered, but
surrounded by the ordinary type of leaf of the Early English Gothic
period; in some twelfth-century glass at Rheims, where it is introduced
as the flower dedicated to St. John, and where, by a poetical symbolism,
all the flowers turn towards our Saviour on the cross, as the Sun of
Righteousness, the true Light of the world; again met with in the
celebrated MS., “The Hours of Anne of Brittany,” now in the
_Bibliothèque du Roi_, Paris. This illumination dates from the close of
the fifteenth century, the flowers introduced being very naturalistic in
character, and with their shadows thrown upon a golden ground--a marked
characteristic of the illumination of that time. It also occurs in a
missal in the Library of the Arsenal, Paris, where, on a golden ground
similar to that last cited, detached flowers are scattered over the
borders--the pea, iris, heartsease, and many others being represented,
and among them the ox-eye daisy. Drawings of the natural plant will be
found in S. B. 158; E. B. 714; P. F. 42.

The CAMPION (_Lychnis diurna_) is another plant well adapted to the need
of the ornamentist, the form of the flower and the sheathing of the stem
by the pairs of leaves being valuable and characteristic ornamental
features. The _Lychnis diurna_ is to be met with in moist hedge-banks,
and more especially those that are shaded by overhanging trees; the
flowers are of a delicate pink, scentless, and opening in the early
morning; differing in all these respects from the _Lychnis vespertina_,
a very similar plant in general appearance, but having the flowers
white, with a slight odour, and opening in the evening. The white
campion has generally a more robust and coarser character of growth than
the pink campion, and appears to delight in more open situations. By
many botanists, however, these two plants are considered as closely
allied, the pink campion being regarded as merely a variety of the
white, and both referred to as the _Lychnis dioica_. The specific names,
_diurna_ and _vespertina_, refer to the times of flowering, the morning
and evening respectively; while the generic name, _Lychnis_, common to
all the species, is derived from the Greek word for lamps, the thick
downy covering on the leaves of the white campion having at one time
been employed in the manufacture of wicks for use in lamps. Refer to F.
L. vol. ii. 32; T. N. O. 69; P. F. 53.

[Illustration: _Campion._]

SORREL (_Rumex acetosa_). Though from its inconspicuous character the
sorrel may very readily be passed over, it will, we think, be found to
repay the attention of the ornamentist, since the lightness and grace of
its growth, its brilliant colour, and the rich form of the leaf, are all
characteristics that should render it valuable to those engaged in
decorative art. The leaves have a pleasant acid flavour, and are
occasionally employed in salads. The English name is derived from the
Anglo-Saxon _sur_, sour. The present plant must not, from similarity of
name, be confused with the wood-sorrel (_Oxalis acetosella_), as the two
plants are very different in appearance, the wood-sorrel having large
white flowers, and a beautiful trefoil character of leaf. Illustrations
of the natural growth of _R. acetosa_ may be seen in E. B. 1223; F. L.
vol. v. 29; M. B. 69.

[Illustration: _Sorrel._]

The SPEAR-PLUME THISTLE (_Carduus lanceolatus_) has been selected as the
subject of our next example. It may very commonly be met with in
hedge-banks and waste ground, attaining to a height of from three to
four feet, and forming a very ornamental and conspicuous object. Its
employment in heraldry with the motto NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT, as the
badge of Scotland, is so well known that the mere mention of the fact
will suffice to recall it to the memory of our readers; but this
application of it, and its frequent recurrence in all circumstances
where the national emblems are introduced, render it necessary that the
designer should be familiar with the plant he will thus have to treat.
There are several indigenous species of thistle, some one or two of them
laying claim to their right to be considered the true Scottish badge,
but the balance of evidence will, we think, be found to point to the
spear-plume thistle as that most entitled to the honour. The _C.
marianus_, or milk-thistle, one of our rarer native, or at least
naturalised species, has a particularly ornamental effect from the veins
upon the leaves being of a clear milky white, the rest of the leaf being
of the normal green colour. A drawing of the spear-plume thistle may be
seen in E. B. 686.

[Illustration: _Thistle._]

The THORN-APPLE, though not a common wild plant, may occasionally be met
with, growing on waste spots, rubbish heaps by the roadside, and similar
places. The large size and brilliant whiteness of the flowers, the bulk
and peculiar character of the spiny fruit, make it a very striking
object, and admirably fitted for a share of the ornamentist’s regard. It
is a plant of Eastern origin, and was unknown here until the reign of
Elizabeth; we therefore do not find it in any of the art-work before
that date, nor, indeed, do we remember to have ever seen it

[Illustration: _Thorn-apple._]

in any way introduced in later designs: this, no doubt, is partly owing
to the comparative rarity of the plant. Its scientific name is _Datura
stramonium_, the generic name being derived from _tatorah_, the name of
the plant in Arabic. The whole plant is powerfully narcotic in its
effects. In the quaint pages of Gerarde, published A.D. 1636, we learn
the history of its introduction into England. Gerarde was the director
of the botanical garden of Lord Burleigh; hence he received many rare
plants from abroad for cultivation. In speaking of the _Datura_, he
says, “whose seeds I have received of the Right Honourable the Lord
Edward Zouch, which he brought from Constantinople, and of his
liberalitie did bestow them vpon me; and it is that thorn-apple that I
have disposed through this land.” In some botanical works we find it
asserted that the thorn-apple was introduced into Europe in the Middle
Ages by the gypsies, who, in their wanderings, brought it from Asia; but
the declaration of Gerarde is so positive and explicit, that it seems
difficult to admit any other belief, more especially as he accompanies
his statement by an illustration which, though very rough and quaint, is
quite sufficiently like the natural plant to prove that it was not some
other species introduced by him and wrongly named. Drawings of the
thorn-apple may be consulted in E. B. 935; F. L. vol. vi. 17; M. B. 124;
S. C. 6; P. F. 13.

The TORMENTIL (_Potentilla tormentilla_) has already, to some extent,
been referred to when speaking of an allied species, the cinquefoil. The
flowers, though typically composed of four petals, are frequently to be
found with the petals five in number, the calyx in that case being cleft
into ten segments instead of the normal arrangement. We are not
acquainted with any example of the use of the tormentil in ornament, but
the wood-strawberry (_Fragaria vesca_), an allied genus of the same
natural order, has a similar form of calyx, the segments being
alternately large and small, and twice as numerous as the petals; and
this beautiful ornamental feature is very carefully shown in a
sixteenth-century MS. at the British Museum, where the plant is
introduced in one of the borders. Consult E. B. 430; F. L. vol. v. 35;
or P. F. 94, for illustrations of the natural growth of the tormentil.

Our remaining illustration has been suggested by the WATER CROWFOOT
(_Ranunculus aquatilis_), one of the numerous species of buttercups, but
distinguished from its allies by the petals of the flowers being white,
not yellow, as in the case of the other members of the family, and also
from the habitat of the plant, the blossoms being found floating upon
the surface of quiet water-courses. The crowfoot may be met with in
flower throughout the summer, and, where seen at all, is ordinarily very
abundant, so that at a little distance the whole surface of a large pond
will tell upon the eye as a mass of white, from the innumerable blossoms
thickly scattered over the water. The English name crowfoot has arisen,
like many similar names, from the supposed resemblance of the plant, or
some portion of it, to some other natural object; thus we get
crane’s-bill, cock’s-foot grass, lark’s-spur, bee-orchis,
pheasant’s-eye, and many other such examples among our common names for
plants. As a family, the buttercups must be regarded with suspicion on
account of their strongly developed acrid qualities; thus the leaves of
the _R. flammula_, if applied to the skin, will, in a very short time,
cause large and painful blisters. The _R. acris_ is equally poisonous;
and the _R. arvensis_, or corn crowfoot, is extremely injurious to
cattle and sheep. The _R. aquatilis_ does not possess these dangerous
qualities; on the contrary, it may be collected and given as fodder in
times of scarcity or drought, and the animals will not only eat it, but
thrive upon it. It is a very

[Illustration: _Water Crowfoot._]

widely spread species: the placid waters of regions so different from
each other in climate as Lapland and Abyssinia are equally favourable to
its growth, and the lakes and slowly running streams of California are
powdered over with its brilliant blossoms, as we see them in our English
pools. The water crowfoot affords us also a beautiful example of that
adaptability of form to the circumstances of the plant’s existence which
we may so frequently trace in the works of nature. It will be noticed in
the illustration that two very distinct forms of leaf are represented;
and, on examining the natural plant, it will be found that the simpler
form of leaf floats upon the surface of the water, while the lower and
more minutely divided leaves are submerged. Imagine the respective
positions of these leaves reversed, and it would speedily be apparent
that the finely cut leaves were unable to support the blossoms, and to
expose them to the vivifying rays of the sun, while the simpler form of
leaf would, by the action of the water, speedily be torn into long
shreds, the principal veins alone remaining, and very much resembling
the actual form that we meet with in the case of the submerged leaves.
In employing the water crowfoot in ornamental art, it appears to us that
the two great features most highly characteristic of it, and therefore
to be embodied in a design, are, first, the number of its blossoms; and,
secondly, the two distinct kinds of leaf; the simpler form being the
most prominent, but the other, though subordinate, as in the case of the
natural plant, to be indicated, and its presence felt. The _R. bulbosus_
is the species so frequently met with in the carvings of the Decorated
period of Gothic art, an especially beautiful example of its use being
seen in a capital in the doorway in the Chapter-house at Southwell
Minster, Notts. The _R. aquatilis_, so far as we have had opportunity of
observation, appears to have been entirely overlooked. Illustrations of
the water crowfoot will be met with in V. W. 95; E. B. 18.

Having thus briefly indicated some few points of interest in the
foregoing British plants, we draw our remarks to a close; it must not,
however, be supposed that all the material at our disposal was
exhausted. We fear rather to weary the reader than to exhaust the stores
which nature affords; hence we limit our remarks to fifty plants,
leaving many equally valuable ones untouched; such plants as the
bird’s-foot trefoil, chicory, cowslip, forget-me-not, meadow vetchling,
silver-weed, and stork’s-bill, being fully as well adapted to the
various purposes of ornamental art as those we have, in the body of our
text, referred to; in fact, the whole of those just mentioned were,
together with many more, indexed as a portion of our plan, and were only
cut out when it was found that a catalogue thus amplified would stretch
to an inordinate length. Though we have, in the course of our remarks on
each plant, been careful to indicate to our readers the books he should
consult for illustrations of the natural growth of the flower in
question, we cannot conclude without again strongly advising the
designer, wherever it is at all practicable, to go direct to nature, as
a series of sketches of even the roughest character has an ornamental
value and variety which are not always found in book-illustrations, and,
moreover, the knowledge of the plant acquired in actually delineating it
is worth far more than any study of the written descriptions of others.
These sketches should of course be made when the plant is available, and
not left till an emergency arises, and when, very possibly, the plant,
if found at all, may not be in satisfactory condition for ornamental
work. Whenever, therefore, a plant possessing valuable properties for
decorative work is met with, a drawing of the general growth and
enlarged details of its more artistically valuable parts should be made
and stored up for future use. A designer cannot have too many such
reserves of material, though he may very easily have too few. Those who
have never fairly searched may, however, be under the impression that
but little practical good could come of any such seeking, as, for want
of experience, they unknowingly underrate the wealth that, at the
expense of a short railway journey into the country, is theirs for the
gathering. To test this we set out one day in June, and the result of a
stroll of barely two and a half hours was conclusive on this point. In
addition to many plants in seed, or which, from their foliage, were
worthy of introduction into art-work, no less than seventy-four were met
with in flower; many of these, as the dog-rose, blackberry, white
bryony, comfrey, mallow, hawthorn, and silver-weed, being excellent for
carving; while the bladder campion, forget-me-not, meadow cranesbill,
ground-ivy, meadow vetchling, cinquefoil, oxalis, and honeysuckle, would
be valuable for lighter work--muslins, papers, or lace. We cannot doubt
that the interest thus evolved from a direct study of nature would be a
growing one; that not only would the actual result in art-work be the
better for it, but also that the enjoyment derived from the study would
be such as to render the pursuit one of far more interest than those who
have not yet experienced it can realise.

    “Happy is he who lives to understand,
     Not human nature only, but explores
     All natures--to the end that he may find
     The law that governs each; and where begins
     The union, the partition where, that makes
     Kind and degree, among all visible beings;
     The constitutions, powers, and faculties,
     Which they inherit--cannot step beyond,
     And cannot fall beneath; that do assign
     To every class its station and its office,
     Through all the mighty commonwealth of things;
     Up from the creeping plant to sovereign man.
     Such converse, if directed by a meek,
     Sincere, and humble spirit, teaches love:
     For knowledge is delight; and such delight
     Breeds love; yet, suited as it rather is
     For thought and to the climbing intellect,
     It teaches less to love than to adore:
     If that be not indeed the highest love.”





As in the world of human life, so in the world of nature--from the
humblest and meekest the greatest lessons may be learned; and there is
often as much worthy of admiration and study in the neglected as in the
known and appreciated. The pure metal lies not on the surface, but the
gold is extracted from the solid rock, or picked up, after much labour,
among the common sands; and many things lie out of the beaten path from
which the artist and the student might gather fresh fancies. Twice a day
rises and falls the great tide of ocean, and its heavings were not less
constant when the trilobite and astrolepis were inhabitants of
primordial depths; still twice a day it ebbs and flows, and the stony
mountains have treasured the fragments of the weeds it plucked from
pre-Adamic shores in memory of its ancient toil.

Bright are the flowers of the earth, the first and choicest of
ornaments. Pure, simple, and holy, their charms can never decay, though
familiarity and inconsistency may vulgarise, and innumerable
misappropriations make us sometimes wish for the contrasts that other
less showy objects would afford. While the fields are radiant with
their beauty, and the gentle zephyrs fragrant with their scented odours,
the great tide ebbs and flows over the flowerless plants of the sea.
Around the huge rocks the perennial fringes of olive fuci undulate in
graceful folds among the swelling waves, and the tall tangle bows its
pliant stem as

    “The ocean old,--
     Centuries old,--
     Strong as youth, and as uncontrolled,
     Paces restless to and fro,
     Up and down the sands of gold.”

For ages have the weeds of the sea been heedlessly disregarded or
despised. The vilest epithet the polished Roman knew was _alga projecta
vilior_. Horace, too, wrote _alga inutilis_; and there may yet be many
to exclaim with the Scotch professor of the last century, “Pooh, pooh,
sir! only a bundle of sea-weeds!” But when the apostle Peter slept at
the house of Simon the tanner he dreamt a great dream--a dream memorable
to the end of time--a dream that was a waking truth to be set in golden
letters, and engraven on the hearts of rich and poor, wise and
unwise--“There is nothing common nor unclean.”

The Chinese believe there is one word expressive of all excellence, so
exquisite that no one can pronounce it, although it can be written and
perceived by the eyes. That word is stamped alike on “the vile sea-weed”
and on the lovely flower. I do not claim for both an equal rank,--the
cottage may be charming, and not vie with the palace; and “the pride of
the village” may want the grace of “the ladye of high degree,”--but I do
claim for the neglected vegetation of the seaside an elegance of form,
and structure, a suggestiveness of mathematical designs, a poetry of
association and typical expression, a simplicity and modest
gracefulness, which will entitle it to the best consideration of the

World-wide in distribution, the sea-weeds are accessible to every one;
and it is not the rarest that are, for ornamental purposes, the most
valuable. The beauty of a manuscript tempted England’s greatest monarch
to the acquirement of letters, and the commonest weed may be the
incentive to the perusal of one of Nature’s choicest books. Wherever the
briny waters wash the coasts, in marshes even where the salt sea
penetrates but seldom in the year, on rocks and stones, and piers and
piles, winter or summer, from the land of gold to the Canaries, from the
soil of the Hottentot and Caffre to the ice-bound country of the Lapp,
from the floating meadows of the tropics to the snowy regions of the
poles--there grow the crisp sea-weeds--there may be gathered in endless
variety the chastest patterns of simplicity. All the associations of the
sea are grand and glorious, and the goddess of beauty came from the foam
of its waves. In the sublime language of ancient mythology, the Ocean
was the first-born of Heaven and Earth, that was wedded to the child of
the land and the sky. Are there no gems of classic imagery in the
bronzed belt that girdles its giant form? Have the thousand daughters of
Atlas and Tethys all taken to groves and cities, and have the Nereides
become the attendants of Flora? Are the tears of Calypso and the loves
of Amphitrite forgotten? Has the memory of Sappho passed for ever away,
and have the green and olive nurslings of the surge no affinity with the
crystal phœnix that arose from their ashes in the Phœnicians’

There is a point whence life and vegetation seem to diverge--the simple
cell; where the algæ meet the monads, and most mysterious processes and
elaborations are carried on by means the simplest but most astounding.
Of cell upon cell are the sea-weeds built, and by cells or spores cast
loose from their substance are their species reproduced, as certainly
and as surely as plants by the marriage of the flowers. Of cellular
tissue entirely does the sea-weed consist; of cell upon cell alone is
woven all the varied drapery of the deep. A mere sac, empty, or
containing a fluid or granular substance, absorbs the surrounding
fluids, assimilates them in its membranous walls, consolidates their
carbon and nutritious substances, grows, divides, each portion swells
again to its parent size, each again divides, and so the splitting cells
increase and multiply. The rapidity with which some of the common
confervæ of our ponds are thus developed is well known; and it is not
unusual to find loathsome pools, that were black at dawn with
decomposing filth, covered at eve with a floating verdure rapidly and
energetically extracting its nutriment out of the pollution, and
liberating the gas of animal life--oxygen--into the atmosphere, in lieu
of pestilential effluvia. The snow-plant, the _Protococcus nivalis_, is
perhaps the best-known instance of the rapid development of cell-plants
properly so called. In a few hours whole tracts of the white snow of
northern lands will assume the hue of the battle-field; and from another
species the waters of the Arabian Gulf have acquired their memorable
name of Red Sea.

Above the limits of the lichen incrusting the peaks of mountains, and in
the unplumbed abysses of the deep below the region of the nullipore,
there the cell-plants swarm by myriads; and even the air powders the
ropes of ships at sea with the atomic dust that had vegetated among the

I have claimed for the sea-weeds the attractions of simplicity, and I
claim beauty of outlines and gracefulness of forms even for the simplest
of the simple--the cell-plants. Forms! outlines of cell-plants! Would
not a single species content the naturalist? The ever-varying Hand that
is traced in all around has touched these lowly objects with charms and
wonders in the most exquisite modifications of form and the most
delicate sculpture. The invisible is not the less beautiful that it is
unseen; the physician owes much to these little things--why not the
artist? Are there no laws of symmetry in natural objects, as there are
of mechanics and of force? no sympathetic principles of harmony of
colour with form, as of structure with locomotion or fixity? Even in
these humble plants there are traces of that divine delicacy which may
be observed and appreciated--an expression of that one word which cannot
be spoken.

For the present attention is confined to those forms of algæ which
exhibit the second stage in the development of vegetation--the linking
of these cells, or cell-plants, together, which is naturally effected by
their self-division and growth, without actual separation of the parts.
And here the transitions exhibit those almost insensible gradations
which have led some powerful minds to view the highest structures, and
even intellectual man, as the consummation only of previous states and
changes. But whatever ideas may be entertained of the manner by which
the creative energy has worked, the results and the power, the ends and
the means, are alike astounding, whether the monad or the cell were
elaborated into the animal or the plant, or both were produced by a
thought to fulfil their purposes in the economy of life. The globular
membranous sacs or cells divide in a linear direction, and a string of
the tiniest beads results. In the cylindrical cell--for the forms of the
cells are in themselves various, both naturally as well as by the
exercise of mutual pressure and other influences--a transverse partition
is formed; the two ends are produced; in each of these again the same
process is repeated, and a thread-like species is formed. Other globules
adhere side by side, developing the membranous expansions of cellular
tissue, in which we recognise the first appearance of the leaf. In the
clinging together of the cylindrical fibres we perceive likewise the
first rudiments of the branch and stem: in such cases, when the
elongated cells of the fibres are of an unequal length, a continuous
stem or cord is produced, varied only as it is enlarged or swollen by
the methodical aggregation of greater numbers, or tapering by the
prolongation of the central threads beyond the rest, or by the less
robust condition of the young cells.

If the cell-cylinders are of _equal_ length, nodes and internodes, like
the joints of a reed, are produced; and by the bifurcation of the cells
of the extremities branching fronds and ramuli result. Thus by this
cell-splitting are formed the delicate branching forms of the
rhodosperms (red sea-weeds), the paper-like membranous expansions of the
ulvaceæ, the jagged fronds of the fuci, and the stout trunk of the
gigantic lessonia. Thus the progress of the general plan, from the
conception within the ovule, is traced, species by species, and genus by
genus, until we pass ashore with the zostera and a few other similar
borderers, and ascend through the mosses, ferns, and grasses, to the
flowering plants and trees, and reach the summit of the second organic
kingdom, where mind alone seems wanting to complete the conditions of
life. Indeed, were it not for the perfection of all things around us, we
might regard the formation of beautiful flowers and massive trees as
arising from an imperfection--namely, the incomplete separation of the
primitive cells in their self-division--and that Nature had turned the
hint to most admirable and wonderful account, that she had improved upon
it, and not only joined firmly together the sides of the connected
cells, but in many of the thread-like species had enclosed them, for
their better protection from disjunction, in gelatinous or mucous
cylindrical sheaths, which may be fancifully, if not really, regarded as
the first symptoms of the cuticle or bark. Most of the filiform algals
are fresh water, but many of them are marine; and among the tufts of
confervæ in brackish pools, or the floating scum on the surface of
polluted water, along the muddy sides of ditches, as well as coating
damp rocks and spray-splashed cliffs, upon decaying heaps of sea-wrack,
on floating planks drifting ashore

[Illustration: _Oscillatoria nigro-viridis._]

[Illustration: _Oscillatoria spiralis._]

[Illustration: _Calothrix semiplena._]

in fleecy masses, or bearding with silky hairs the fronds of the
sea-weeds themselves, we shall find abundant illustrations of such
primitive types for our present purpose--that of slightly tracing some
of the variations and adaptations of particular parts and organs by
which Nature effects the beautification of the objects themselves. Nor
as we regard these objects under the microscope--for it will require the
high powers of that instrument to develop their minute structure--can we
avoid being struck with the elegance of the twistings and contortions,
the lacings and interlacings, of even the most simple threads, as they
congregate and combine to form those dense masses, velvety tufts, or
hazy films by which their myriads are made evident to the human eye. The
development of certain cells into spores, and the wonderful generative
processes by which the algæ are propagated, belong, however interesting,
more to the domains of natural history than to our present inquiry.
Suffice it to say that, by the impregnation of the endochrome of one
cell by that of another, the spores--or seeds, as for expressiveness
they may here be termed--are produced by the granulation of the mixed
matter. Now, in the different aspects and conditions of these
spore-cells arises that first divergence from the mere thread of beads
by which Nature, while she retains the principle and object of the organ
itself in its adaptation to special conditions, seems to vary in every
possible manner and way, not only in form and sculpture, but often in
colour, her most primitive organizations. Even the contraction of the
endochrome itself, in the granulating process, by the production of
intermittent vacant spaces, adds a pleasing variation to many of these
moniliform filaments.

[Illustration: _Sphærozyga Berkeleyana._]

[Illustration: _Spermosira Harveyana._]

[Illustration: _Sphærozyga Carmichaelii._]

[Illustration: _Sphærozyga Thwaitesii._]

In some species of this class the continuity of the congregated cells is
interrupted, besides by the spore cells, by a connecting cell, or
heterocyst, differing in form from either, and not unusually of an
entirely opposite and contrasting colour. Such is the case with the
_Spermosira Harveyana_, a very minute species of nostoc, found on dead
leaves in the summer month of June. The rudimentary cells of its
exquisite curved filaments are small cylinders, the spore capsules
completely spherical, and the heterocysts subquadrate, inclining to
oval. The colours vary in each, and are in the first of a translucent
bluish green,--of course, therefore, the prevailing hue,--which is
charmingly relieved by the deep brown of the second and the pale pink of
the last.

These constitutional forms, in their varieties and adaptations, their
manner of growth and development, constitute the entire structure of the
whole tribe of sea-weeds; and therefore we ought to find the chief
features of any elegance these humble forms possess continued and
elaborated, as they really are, in the more complex conditions of the
higher fuci. In the sections of the sea-weeds, therefore, even as made
for the scientific elucidation of their structure, we may expect to
find, as we undoubtedly shall do, many hints and lessons.

The true form of the cell is perhaps the globe, but it is more commonly
presented to us as the cylinder, the conditions and outlines of which
are varied almost _ad infinitum_, as by the various effects of growth
and pressure the cells are forced into hexagons, pentagons, and other
mathematical shapes, or their lines of junction are disposed in
undulating tracery of the most elegant and intricate patterns.


     _Magnified Transverse Section of Arthrocladia villosa._

Of the few sections we have engraved as illustrations, the first is that
of a pretty knotted sea-weed, rather rare, but still not uncommon on the
southern coasts of our island in the summer and autumn seasons--the
_Arthrocladia villosa_. Around the tubular axis the larger rings are
disposed,--to which circle upon circle of the smaller succeed to the
verge of the periphery, yielding to the forms of the intermediate
cavities in numerous appropriate shapes. In the second we have given a
cross section of the compressed frond of the _Desmarestia ligulata_, an
inhabitant of the tidal pools at extreme low water on most parts of our
coasts. An internal jointed tube passes up the centre of the frond, and
gives rise to the obscure midrib perceptible on the surfaces of the
sides; on either side the larger cells are disposed in two opposing flat
arcs, and compressed into shapes more or less hexagonal, outside of
which, in the second row, the pentagonal form prevails, and then the
intermediate exterior and interior spaces are filled by smaller cellules
of more irregular outlines.

[Illustration: _Magnified Transverse Section of Frond of Desmarestia

[Illustration: _Magnified Transverse Section of Spore-bearing Receptacle
of Fucus vesiculosus._]

The third section is made across one of the spore-bearing receptacles
which tip--as yellow warty excrescences--the flat olive fronds of the
common bladder-weed, _Fucus vesiculosus_, so common in dense meadows
everywhere on our shores. The interior, filled with mucus, is traversed
by a network of jointed fibres, which communicate with the spherical
conceptacles immersed in the outer substance, and containing the spores
and the antheridia. That there are other and many sections far more
intricate and beautiful any one can testify who has ever turned over the
fine plates of Professor Harvey’s “Phycologia Britannica,” his
admirable papers in the publications of the Smithsonian Society, or the
noble folio volume of Postel and Ruprecht; but in these simple ones here
given--and selected on that very account--we find Nature contriving
elegant and pleasing devices by the mere repetition and combination of
the circle, the hexagon, or the pentagon, and producing by such means a
pleasing unity and richness of effect instead of a sameness or a
poverty. At any rate, whenever Nature does produce a beautiful object,
we shall never be the worse for examining the principles by which she
has worked, and it is in the least complicated that we must first hope
to find the rudimentary laws of her beauty-building. With rule and
compass we can excel her in accuracy--with reason, experience, and
remembrance, we can improve upon her labours in our artificial
productions; but, notwithstanding the many exquisite objects of art
produced by our modern jewellers, there is by far too much
conventionality and routine in the more ordinary bijouterie of every-day
wear; and we might from such sections alone acquire many novelties in
the setting of gems, pearls, and pebbles, as well as gain many
advantages over the arbitrary whims of an unguided, although it may be a
cultivated, mind. Not only might the real be thus improved by adopting
the mathematical solids or traceries thus suggested, but there are
numerous articles of mock jewellery in which shells, fictitious agates,
and inferior cameos are largely used, the designers for which might be
advantageously employed for a season by the seaside, where their eyes
would become accustomed to the sober olive of the weeds; and it might
then be found that a bronze setting would not only be more truthful,
but more useful and chaste, than a hypocritical gilt surface, that
reveals at every touch the baser metal beneath. And here, with these few
words of explanation and suggestion, for the present let me leave this
unworked vein--merely adding that the longitudinal sections are as
fanciful as the transverse, and in viewing the latter we may oftentimes
imagine we are examining fairy ribands and laces of the most delicate

But however complicated the combinations of the cellular and vascular
tissues become as we ascend in the scale of creation, the development of
forms and tints in every natural object is as dependent upon fixed laws
as the beauty and colouring of a picture on the skill and innate genius
of the artist. Few artists, however, if any, work by rule; in their
studies they attain instinctively, as it were, a conceptive knowledge of
the beautiful; they find Nature ever varying, and they find variety the
source of beauty; they find that an object composed of lines contrasts
pleasantly with circles; that the upraised hands of a speaker should be
opposed by the folded arms of the listeners--the energetic by the
prostrate; and so they go on, acquiring a science by perception, of
which the more ethereal portion has never yet been reduced to written
rules, and is so subtle that perhaps it never will be. That designers
work more usually by their innate taste and their manual skill is
evinced by the many elegant absurdities that one constantly meets.

And now I would arrest the first objection that could be raised against
the sea-weeds as objects of design--their inapplicability on the ground
of appropriateness. There is an appropriateness, the world will say,
about flowers; they have a language of their own, in which they speak
the rarest poetry; the saints of all the days of the year have their
dedications of these gems of the fields; the nymphs of the forest and
dell, the Naiades and mythological celestials without end have
patronised them; besides, it is so natural to paper our walls with
roses, to have garlands woven in our dresses; and our maidens only deck
their hair with the artificial because the real will fade. What more
proper than a plate of leaves for fruit, or a decanter ornamented with
grapes? True; but what more absurd than a vase of cabbage-leaves
supported on the flourishing tails of twisted dolphins; or a jug
composed of a gigantic head, from which we pour the contents through the
perforated body of a swan, with its neck immersed in a sturdy flag, and
of such reversed proportions and of such diminutive size that a whole
flock might roost in the interior of an egg, without any of them
experiencing that unpleasant inconvenience which nursery rhymes
attribute to the old lady who lived in the shoe? These are broad
absurdities, although the objects themselves may be elegant and of
costly ware: thus showing at once that the grace of natural objects is
dependent upon the laws of mathematical form, for there is nothing in
the subjects we have noticed to interest--no hidden allusion--and all
that is pleasing arises from the lines of contour. But there are more
subtle misapplications, which ordinarily escape detection. Is it quite
correct to bind the tendrils of the vine round the unpretending jugs
which are dedicated to the pure fluid of the teetotaler, or those that
are charged with foaming ale? to defend our butter with a belt of
hissing snakes, or pass jets of sweet water through fountains of
gigantic cockle-shells and marine monsters? And yet many of these things
we constantly forgive; then surely we might extend some of that mercy,
if they required it, to the sea-weeds, which we do not withhold from
reptiles, especially if it can be shown that they are available for more
artistic purposes than for pretty picture-making in albums and herbaria,
or for fancy baskets, with a hackneyed apologetic legend, in bazaars.

[Illustration: _Ulva linza._]

It cannot be expected that the designer should carry on the laborious
researches of the man of science, or make the delicate sections which
the naturalist finds necessary for the determination of species and the
comprehension of the phenomena of structure and vitality; that he
should have one eye for the microscope, and the other for his pencil;
nor that the philosopher should have all the accomplishments of the
artist; but as the boundless universe is dependent upon everything that
exists for its unity and harmony, so art cannot neglect even natural
sciences with impunity, for, at least, every branch is capable of adding
an expression or a charm. Pardon, therefore, the simple belief that even
the rudiments of vegetable structure and the section of a sea-weed or a
plant are not unworthy of inspection for artistic purposes, and that
they may _suggest_, if not actually exhibit, exquisite combinations of
mathematical figures which are not inappropriate decorative ornaments
for most varied purposes.

[Illustration: _Fucus nodosus._]

Along high-water mark, as high as the spray bedews the rugged beds of
stone, grow the green confervæ; within the tidal zone is the territory
of the olive fuci; and the deep is the home of the red weeds, sometimes
to be found at dead low water, and even higher on the shore, in like
manner as algæ of vivid green are traced to depths of thirty, forty, and
even fifty fathoms; for although the rules hold generally good, there
are exceptions--as it is said there must be to all rules, to prevent
their becoming axioms. Such, too, of olive, red, and green, is the
artificial arrangement by which botanists have classified the algæ, the
colours and characters being sufficiently associated and distinctive for
even scientific grouping.

Having glanced already at the species of lowest organization, let us
take one other instance of the applicability of sea-weeds as objects of
design. A dozen collected at random, in one’s walk from the edge of the
beach to the rim of the tide, would more than suffice for many different
applications and manufactures; and the very commonest are equally
valuable, and often better than the rarest. Take, then, the first
handful you can collect. Among the gatherings of such a parcel are sure
to be found some very applicable forms, such as the _Ulva linza_,
represented at page 107; the _Fucus nodosus_, page 108; the _Fucus
vesiculosus_, page 103; the _Fucus serratus_, here given; _Halidrys
siliquosa_, page 110; _Dictyota dichotoma_; _Laminaria Phyllitis_; _L.
digitata_; _L. saccharina_, &c.

[Illustration: _Fucus serratus._]

[Illustration: _Halidrys siliquosa._]

It is not in the herbarium, not in drawings, not when dried and
shrivelled, and black and contorted, that we can see the beauty of
sea-weeds; such are no more than the bleared and withered mummies of
Egyptian men to the fresh vigour of youth: it is while free and waving
in the waters that we must search for the best elucidations of their
habits and gracefulness. Years ago Ray wrote in his earnest and noble
manner:--“Let us then consider the works of God, and observe the
operations of his hands. Let us take notice of, and admire, his infinite
wisdom and goodness in the formation of them: no creature in this
sublunary world is capable of so doing besides man, and yet we are
deficient herein: we content ourselves with the knowledge of the
tongues, or a little skill in philology, or history perhaps, and
antiquity, and neglect that which to me seems more material--I mean
natural history, and the works of creation. I do not discommend or
derogate from those other studies; I should betray mine own ignorance
and weakness should I do so: I only wish that _this_ might be brought
into fashion among us. I wish men would be so equal and civil as not to
disparage, deride, and villify those studies which themselves skill not
of, or are not conversant in; no knowledge can be more pleasant than
this, none that doth so satisfie and feed the soul, in comparison
whereto that of words and phrases seem to me insipid and jejune.” How he
would have rejoiced at the popular movement introduced by Mr. Mitchell
at the Zoological Gardens, and since so powerfully backed up by other
colossal vivaria of the day; the aquaria at the Crystal Palace,
Brighton, Ramsgate, and other places; and what results would he not have
predicted when, in walking through the mammontainted streets of our
great metropolis, he passed dozens of shops for the sale of aquaria,
vivaria, glass jars, siphons, prawns, mussels, anemones, efts, and
sticklebacks! All these and many more living things cannot be kept and
nourished, watched and fed, without the spread of that knowledge which
is known, and the acquirement of a vast deal that is new. Naturalists
will no longer be able to write books on things they have never seen;
and hasty jumpings to conclusions, and closet speculations, will be
rarer as the chance of detection becomes the greater, and the spirit in
which all true men of science do labour, and ever have done, is the more
rightly appreciated. The Merry Monarch’s little spaniel has its collar
of red morocco, with its silver plate, and the imprisoned songster of a
warmer clime is confined in a pretty cage. The love of natural history
is not the cherished taste of the poor--it is not bounded by the
circumscribed limits of the middle ranks, who find in a glass jar of
living objects from the pond or sea a refreshing pastime from the heavy
cares of daily bread, and a cooling relief from toil, or the feverish
anxieties of money-making; but the love of natural history lives no less
in high places and delicate minds, whose susceptibilities have been
heightened by every kind of culture, gaze with delight on the glittering
armour of the scaly fish, and watch with interest the actions, motions,
and habits of the thousand instructive objects to be collected at any
time in a single tide. How charming to give a little elegance to the
transparent homes to which we consign our new-made pets! We no longer
confine ourselves to cheap glass and zinc fountains. White marble and
bronze have brought our favourites into the boudoir and the
drawing-room. Look at the festoons of fuci on the rugged rocks: have not
worse things been chiselled and cast? and at that tall bundle of crisp
_Laminaria Phyllitis_, as it stands erect in the transparent water. How
charmingly a crystal vase would rest upon its slightly diverging crests,
like the abacus on the leaves of a Corinthian pillar! how delicate the
slight frillings of the margins of its translucent fronds!

Various other applications are at once suggested by the little group we
have figured; such are mouldings, beadings, tracery, and cornices, and
for the sculpture of mahogany and other dark woods; and in our progress
through the more elaborate forms of sea-weeds we shall find very much to
admire as elegant, and as applicable to manufactures and to the
ornamentation of various objects--often of opposite purposes.


As one coming in a strange land for the first time, on a junction of
many roads, finds himself bewildered, and hesitating in his choice which
to take, being ignorant which leads to the fairest places, and not
knowing what beauties he may miss by selecting the one or the other, so
in displaying the attractions of sea-weeds for artistic purposes--a
field where so little has been attempted--it is not easy to decide,
where so many courses appear to be open. It is not the difficulty of a
beginning, for the start has been made; nor of the end, for a
precipitate retreat has happened to more than one illustrious character;
and if these pages could prove as entertaining as the immortal Sam’s
valentine, even “a sudden pull up” might only make the reader “wish
there was more.” But the difficulty is in adopting that order of
narration which shall be most attractive in securing for the neglected
sea-weeds their due meed of recognition and reward.

In the former chapter are figured some of those prevalent species which
no one could fail to find in a walk along the shore: in this, which is
devoted to the olive weeds or true fuci, the illustrations are drawn
chiefly from among others of those common forms which are accessible to
everybody, about which there are no considerations of rarity, pains, or
price, and which indeed are always to be had for the trouble of picking
them up.

These _Melanosperms_ are characterized by naturalists as plants of an
olive green or brown colour, and as being in their fructification either
monœcious or diœcious, that is, having the distinctive organs on
the same or on different plants. They are propagated by spores, either
developed externally, or singly, or in groups in proper conceptacles,
each spore being enveloped in a pellucid skin called a perispore, and
being in some cases simple, and in others ultimately dividing into two,
four, or eight sporules. Antheridia--a term admitted as indicative only,
and by courtesy in the case of algæ, the actual propriety of the term
being still contested--appear in some; in others are transparent cells
filled with orange-coloured vivacious corpuscles, possessed of free
motion by means of vibratile cilia. The whole group is marine. If any
take objection to the word “plants,” the botanist will tell them that
algæ have a double respiration, like their higher sisters of the
land,--that by day they absorb carbonic-acid gas, and give out the
life-supporting oxygen, and that in the silent hours of the night they
reverse the process, and emit carbonic-acid gas.

To point out their relations and concordances with terrestrial
vegetation is, however, a very easy task; but not so is it to draw the
line between animality and vegetation. Some authors, indeed, and those
not despicable ones, have gone so far as to assert that the germs of
some sea-weeds, in their first condition, are actually endowed with
life. Be this as it may, no line has yet been drawn which separates
either distinctly or decisively the animal from the plant; and, as Dr.
Lindley truly observes, “whatever errors of observation may have
occurred, those very errors, to say nothing of the true ones, show the
extreme difficulty, not to say impossibility, of pointing out the exact
frontier of either kingdom.” We commence our present division--and shall
follow the like course with the others--with its higher forms, and,
proceeding in descending order, shall in each conclude with those humble
rudimentary forms in which the rigid divisions of classification are
obliterated, and the only differences which can be assigned are, at
best, but little more than arbitrary.

To me how welcome and how dear are the olive algals of the rocky shores!
Born within sound of the surging waves, for ever singing “their unrhymed
lyric lays”--from infancy to manhood living on the margin of the briny
deep--how fresh and dear to me these much-neglected things! “What
pleasant visions haunt me” of childish hopes and fears; and as again I
seem to

          “Gaze upon the sea,
    All the old romantic legends,
    All my dreams come back to me.”

And in Fancy’s realms my drooping thoughts pass on to those homeless
wanderers over the face of the earth, for whom never more the scenes of
their first homes will wear a charm--who, torn from all familiar ties,
and tossed and buffeted on the sea of life, may perish unregarded in
some far-distant land. The surging crests of the great ocean’s waves oft
cast, to moulder on our shores, the weeds and plants of other climes. We
have figured one of these fragments, which, after its long and
boisterous wanderings from the Azores to the eastern shores of the new
world, across the wide Atlantic to our own boreal coasts of the old, has
lost but little of its beauty. In the days of old adventure the matted
cords of this charming species stopped the famous Spaniard’s ships; and
still the long and narrow floating isles of Gulf-weeds--shunned by the
sailor--are the resting-places of myriads of crabs, and other hosts of
ocean’s progenies hide and nestle in its watery bowers.

But charming as the _Sargassum bacciferum_ is in its gracefulness, and
attractive as it may be in its historic associations, naturalists would
not, of course, admit either itself or its congener, the _Sargassum
vulgare_, as a truly British kind, but would properly regard them as
stray waifs from tropical climes. The generic name is a Latinisation of
the term sargazo, given to the Gulf-weeds by the companions of Columbus,
and will for ever preserve the memory of its first discoverer; while the
ancient specific additamentum of _natans_, or swimming, was highly
characteristic of the habits of the species.

Next in the ranks, and foremost of the really British weeds, stands the
common, but elegant, _Halidrys siliquosa_, already figured at page 110,
distinguished from all other fuci by the compound structure of its
air-vessels--a character peculiar to it, and to the beautiful _Fucus
osmundaceus_, of the western shores of North America. In the last the
structure is slightly different, the vesicles being constricted at the
joints like strings of beads. The air-vessels of the _Halidrys
siliquosa_ are those pea-pod-like expansions of the frond, divided into
chambers, which seem almost to take the place of leaves in the engraving
(p. 110).

[Illustration: _Sargassum bacciferum, or Gulf-weed._]

Intermediate between Halidrys and the true fuci is placed the genus
_Cystoceira_. One of the most elegant of this charming genus is the
heath-like species, _Cystoceira ericoides_. On the shores of the south
of England especially, and over a very considerable geographical range,
extending even to the north of Africa, it may be gathered at almost any
period of the summer or autumn. Under the water it glows with prismatic
colours, and as each twig waves to and fro, the hues vary as the light
glances on its fronds; and while some “seem covered with sky-blue
flowers, others remain dark.” In the air it presents only a glossy
yellow, and in the herbarium all its enchanting beauties of colour are
gone, and unless very great pains and skill have been exercised in the
manipulation, it will have shrunk in drying, and turned black.

[Illustration: _Magnified View of Receptacle and Vesicle at Apex of
Branch of Cystoceira ericoides._]

In passing, it will be as well to gather specimens of the rather stiff
and cylindrical _Pycnophycus tuberculatus_, standing alone as it does
_sui generis_.

Of the true fuci, at page 108 is already figured the knotted one, of
which Scotch boys make whistles (_Fucus nodosus_), and that with the
saw-like edges (_Fucus serratus_), p. 109; but the ordinary
bladder-bearing sort, the _Fucus vesiculosus_, and the more translucent
and bladderless or smooth kind, the _Fucus ceranoides_, and indeed the
whole genus, though common in the extreme, have high claims to the
attention of designers, not alone in the elegance of their outlines and
the disposition of their fronds, but as being the very types and models
of sea-weeds.

The _Fucus vesiculosus_ was at one time, particularly in the Orkney
Isles, regularly cropped for the manufacture of kelp, and it is also
known to contain a valuable portion of the sweet principle called
mannite. In the cold and inhospitable regions of the polar lands, where
the thick snow has buried the scanty herbage of the fields, the rocks
furnish in their meadows of fuci abundant fodder for the hungry kine,
which regularly, at the retreat of the tide, come down to graze; and if
these pages were not devoted to other arts than the culinary, one might
not unentertainingly give a disquisition on edible sea-weeds, and on the
various means by which they are made subservient to the luxuries or
necessities of man.

The Icelanders, Greenlanders, the Chinese, and the East Indians have
already made some progress in this department; and nearer home, the
_Chondrus crispus_, “carrageen,” or Irish moss, figured at page 120, has
long ago been placed on the table, in soup, jellies, and blanc-manges.

Or, if the natural history of the class were the object, one might with
equal pleasure dwell on the marvellous exhibition of the strange
animal-like motions of the troops of zoospores which issue from the
thick yellow slime exuded from the ripe receptacles of the _Fucus
serratus_--motions apparently so voluntary that it is difficult to
consider them as concordant with mere vegetation.

[Illustration: _Chondrus crispus._]

I have already hinted at the capabilities of these weeds as suggestive
models for the carver in wood. Now few modern structures are fitted up
with more elegance than our first-class ships, and in them no one will
contend there is not a great and appropriate field for the display of
the ornamental or decorative capabilities of sea-weeds. Here they are at
once appropriate and reminiscent of those shores the voyagers have left
behind--speaking to them, whilst gliding over the sea, of those lands
whence they had departed, and of those other lands which they are
seeking. Around and beneath figure-heads, as scrolls upon the bows or
stern, bordering the panels of the cabin, and modelled to suit the
various machinery on deck, the designer might create a marine
ornamentation as characteristic and as pleasing, and as elaborate, if he
chose, as Corinthian skill developed from the tile-covered plant for the
architecture of the land.

In bronze or in iron, indeed in all dark metal-work, the fuci could not
fail to be elegant objects, and rich in their grouping and in the
effects produced. In many of those objects, too, which the gilder
prepares, the cockle-shells, or cockle-like scrolls and cups so
prominently displayed might be as elegantly and more appropriately
supported by well-devised groups of algæ than by lilies, fleurs-de-lys,
or traceries of meaningless design.

One very pretty diminutive species of _Fucus_ (_F. canaliculatus_) grows
on the very edge of the tide, and often where the waves wet the rocks
only with their spray. The chief crop grows certainly above the level of
half-tide, and these plants show a preference for droughty situations;
not unfrequently in the hot days of the summer we find them quite crisp
and dry, but on the return of the tide they again absorb the aqueous
fluid, and recover life and flexibility. So sea-weeds which have long
been shrivelled up in the house will recover in appearance all their
freshness and verdancy on being merely immersed in a glass of salt or
spring water; and the virtues of the former are now brought from the
sea into our homes in the form of Tidman’s Crystals. I make this
allusion because it is important that the artist, living perhaps in some
inland town or city, should know that the natural models he may bring
from the seaside on his holiday trip may be in reality, though not
apparently, usefully retained for future studies. Many of the more
leathery kinds will submit to several resuscitations of this nature,
although, as might be expected, a deterioration and loss of colour, more
or less, take place in each successive instance. The ordinary method of
preserving sea-weeds for natural-history purposes is, as is familiarly
known, to press them between folds of linen and blotting-paper on to
stout drawing-paper, to which by their glutinous substance they firmly
adhere, forming, under the skilfulness of the manipulator, the most
exquisite natural pictures. In all these, however, the very act of
compression, and the spreading out of the object on a flat surface,
gives an unnatural aspect, very different from their free condition. It
may be well, therefore, to state that in some few experiments I have
made I have found that pure glycerine will preserve even the more pulpy
and plump sorts--if I may use that expressive adjective--without even
the slightest change for at least considerable periods. Some of my
specimens have been kept in glycerine for more than eight months, and
are as fresh in substance and in colour as when they were first
collected. Choice samples seem thus capable of being indefinitely
preserved in proper glass or earthen vessels for use at any time by the

In a visit to the art-museums at South Kensington I observed two
instances of the introduction of sea-weed: one in Mr. H. Weekes’s noble
statue of a “Young Naturalist,” where, though sparingly made use of,
they can but be regarded as successful innovations; the other in the
collection of imitation Majolica ware, where a large vase has in relief
some fronds of the _Fucus serratus_, which, from their unnaturally
bright green and the want of strict attention to the natural model, are
not so attractive as could have been desired. That sea-weeds, both
painted or impressed upon china and earthenware, are capable of
producing fine results, can scarcely be doubted; and although it cannot
be written of me, as it was of an eminent statesman,--

    “China’s the passion of his soul--
     A cup, a plate, a dish, a bowl,
     Can kindle wishes in his breast,
     Inflame with joy, or break his rest,”--

I shall not willingly give up the potter’s art as intractable to my

The genus _Desmarestia_, which follows the fuci in natural order, offers
some neat patterns for the painting of pottery and china ware,
especially in the long oval fronds of the _Desmarestia ligulata_, a
microscopic section of which is given at page 103. Its branching fronds,
so leaf-like in their development, and yet so unleaf-like in reality,
tempted me to figure a single branch of one of these plants, as an
example of its peculiar characters, which, in their pale olive-green and
purple hues, could scarcely fail of showing to advantage on the white
translucent ground of aluminous materials. We have plates of a
particularly small size dedicated to the curdled produce of the
dairy--in plain English, we have

[Illustration: _Portion of Desmarestia ligulata._]

cheese-plates, we have soup-tureens and vegetable-dishes, meat-plates
and dessert-plates; and why might we not have articles appropriated to
the service of fish, and decorated with sea-weeds? I have frequently
seen, in drying these objects, their forms impressed through the thick
blotting-paper, and forming very beautiful tracery in low relief on the
opposite side. Such impressions have always suggested the idea of a
similarly simple, chaste, and elegant ornamentation of the plainer and
commoner wares. The impressions left by the _Chondrus crispus_,
_Dictyota dichotoma_, and other flat and interlacing forms, are most
admirable for such a process. Simple accidents may often lead to
unexpected results; and Grecian legends even attribute the discovery of
modelling in relief to the tracing upon the wall, by a potter’s
daughter, of the shadow of her departing lover’s face, which her father
modelled afterwards in clay.

[Illustration: _Root of Laminaria._]

Passing by the genera _Arthrocladia_, _Sporochnus_, and _Carpomitra_,
which all, in a greater or lesser degree, offer pleasing running
patterns for the painting of porcelain or earthenware, and of flat
surfaces in general, we come to the noble family of the _Laminariæ_, so
well and ordinarily known under the names of sea-girdles and tangle. The
size and expanse of the fronds of the various species of _Laminariæ_
exposed, in the bleak and unprotected situations in which they grow, to
the full fury of the waves, are provided for in their leathery
toughness, the rope-like stem, and the numerous attaching discs of their
branching roots. The root of the sea-weed differs very materially from
the root of a plant: through it no nutritious sustenance is conveyed to
the algal; it draws nothing from the soil; it is furnished with no
organs; it is merely an adhesive holdfast, similar in principle to the
sucker by which street-boys lift bricks and stones; it sends down no
ramifying fibres into crevices of the rocks, but merely adheres to the
surface. How far their peculiar characters could be elegantly made use
of for the handles of vases, covers, lids, and other objects and parts
of articles which require to be lifted or raised, must remain to be
developed by the practical designer and manufacturer.

The mussels and shell-fish which attach themselves to the firm rootlets
of the tangle, or which spin together or nestle in the meandering fronds
of the smaller kinds, often produce groupings worthy of much admiration,
and which would form material aids in the elaboration of practical

As there is much difficulty in expressing in a greatly reduced drawing a
long and narrow form like that of the common tangle, I have contented
myself with giving a figure of one of the roots, to show how applicable
they are for art-purposes.

The North American and Kamtschatkan species--the _Laminaria
longicrucis_--has a frond as large as a table-cloth, and a stem of
proportionate length. The English species attain very frequently to six
or eight feet, although in their native habitats they may be gathered of
every size, and in every stage of growth; and to reduce such giants to
the scale of a few inches would give no idea of their grandeur or

Of those immensely long and slender sea-weeds, placed by algologists in
a distinct genus, with the expressive name of _Chorda_, little use, I
think, can be made in the way of design. The mere collector has to wind
them assiduously into a coil in his herbarium; and in their native
element the only purpose they seem to serve is to stop the passage of
boats, or to drown unfortunate swimmers by entanglement about their
legs; for, although often thirty or forty feet in length even on British
shores, and not thicker at their base than a whipcord, they are
extremely tough and tenacious.

[Illustration: _Dictyota atomaria._]

The case is very different with the beautiful _Dictyotaccæ_, in which
family is included the splendid _Padina pavonia_, with hues nearly as
bright and as rich as the “eye-spots” on the tail of the glorious bird
from which its specific name is taken. Such a marine beauty was not
likely to escape the attention of even early naturalists, and we
accordingly find it mentioned in the writings of Bauchin and others.
Ellis, although he has no business with it, cannot resist the temptation
to figure it in his famous book on Corallines.

In the genus _Cutleria_ we are presented with some attractive novelties,
but the typical genus _Dictyota_ merits special attention.

If the number and variety of names by which an algal was known had any
connection with its charms or its rarity, one

[Illustration: _Stilophora rhizodes._]

[Illustration: _Section of a Sorus of Stilophora rhizodes._]

member at least of the characteristic group, the _Dictyota atomaria_
ought to be--as it really is--both rare and beautiful. The ancient
_nomen triviale_ of _Phasiana_ expresses well, in its allusion to the
plumage of that handsome bird, the barred and zigzag markings caused by
the scattering in the substance of the frond--almost as one would cast
grains of sand or seeds by the hand--of the dark-coloured spores or
germs. The whole plant, too, exhibits those most delicate gradations of
the primitive hue which are not the least remarkable characteristic of
all sea-weeds. And in what are our designers more deficient--especially
those employed in the decoration of our houses--than in simple and
delicate contrasts, or more especially in those almost insensible
gradations of colours which are so admirable in their effect, and which
are so invariably presented to us alike in the sombre olive and in the
bright greens and reds of the sea-weeds? We have no power to express
these natural gradations in our woodcuts, but there is certainly much in
this way worthy of patient study. In this large and extensive family
there are yet more instances of how various sections and magnificent
portions may possess artistic value. The section of a sorus of
_Stilophora rhizodes_ seems, for example, so like the representation of
a fragment of jewellery, that it cannot fail to excite wonder that a
source so prolific should have been neglected by our workers in gold and
silver, and our setters of pearls and precious stones.

The _Mesogloia vermicularis_, one of the gelatinous _Chordariaceæ_, is
an ugly weed, but the filaments of the fronds are worthy,
notwithstanding, of being placed under the power of the microscope and
viewed by an artist.

[Illustration: _Portion of Filaments, Axial and Peripherical, of
Mesogloia vermicularis._]

So, too, with the hollow cottony _Leathesia_, looking like a macerated
walnut tufting the surface of the rock: only peer into it with
microscopic vision, and a forest of crystal fibres, composed of divided
cells, the lower ones long and slender, the upper shorter, and
supporting little hyaline half-moons on their cusps, springs into
existence. The tiny tufts of the _Elachista_ and _Myrionema_ abound in
bead-chain fibres, while the genera _Cladostephus_ and _Sphacelaria_
offer more visible patterns of a kind at once unleaf-like and novel. The
_Sphacelaria plumosa_, so wiry and feathery, resembles those curious
members of the animal kingdom, the _Sertulariæ_, as which it is almost
as rigid and as elegant; while the small tufts of the rare _Sphacelaria
ramosa_ are again charming microscopic objects.

The family _Ectocarpaceæ_ contains a fund of marvellous ideas. One more
genus of British olive weeds alone remains to be mentioned, consisting
of two little parasitic species not uncommon on the fronds of _Chorda
lomentaria_; but though curious and singular in construction, they offer
nothing so tempting as many of those we have been compelled to pass over
in silence.

[Illustration: _Cladostephus verticillatus._

_Portion of a branch._      _One of the ramuli._]

For the purpose of study, the _Melanosperms_ offer a never-failing
supply, always accessible at low water; but should opportunity arise of
acquiring a knowledge of the _Rhodosperms_, with their fairy forms and
brilliant hues, it should not be neglected, for these deep-water algals
seldom reach us but in broken plants washed ashore; and dried specimens,
flattened and faded, cease to be models for study. As to the
_Chlorosperms_, the _Ulvæ_ are full of grace and beauty, and in the
south of England they are served at table as a relish to roast meat,
under the title of laver, and which is now sold in many London shops.
The _Ulva linza_, figured at p. 107, is a good type of the graceful
outline of this elegant family of sea-weeds.

[Illustration: _Portion of Sphacelaria plumosa._]

Oft beneath the warm and brilliant rays of summer’s sun, in shallow
skiff, I have glided on the calm and polished surface of the sea--the
mirror of the glowing sky and heavens beyond--over the dark forests of
tangle waving in the tide, and plucked the pellucid limpets browsing on
their stems; and, peering down into the rugged dells below, have seen
the star-fish crawl with sucker-arms along the rocks, where whelks drill
holes in shells of stone-clad molluscs, to feed upon their soft and
luscious flesh; where sea-anemones, with outspread tentacles, make
gardens of living flowers; and awkward crabs peep out from darksome
nooks at glittering fish, then scramble sidelong back again into their

In winter, by the raging waves--when skaters swift o’er slippery ice
with rapid pace were gliding; when ears were tingling with the biting
cold, and tender people roasting over blazing fires--I have paced along
the congealed sands to see the shell-fish frozen hard and fast, glued to
the rocks; and sea-weeds, crisp and rigid, recover life and elasticity
in the flowing tide.

In time of spring I have hunted over the slippery meadows of our shores
for the instinct-led travellers from the deep, coming to the shallow
tidal zone to propagate their tribes. And in the golden season I have
watched the sportive play, in rocky pools o’ershadowed by these graceful
weeds, of iridescent annelide and cilia-paddled beroe--have tracked the
skipping shrimps along the silvery sands, or have patiently followed the
_Patella vulgaris_ in its solemn march to graze upon the verdant ulvæ,
and again returning at the change of tide to adjust its conical house
with stately nicety on its proper site.





Snow, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, is suggestive of a soft
flocculent matter of considerable opacity, falling in flakes, and, as
compared with water, of little density--a foot of fresh-fallen snow
producing but from a tenth to a twelfth part of water. Snow, however,
does not always fall in flakes; under certain conditions of atmosphere
and temperature it occasionally falls in groups of slender needle-like
particles or spiculæ, which under the microscope exhibit no structural
detail worthy of remark, but are irregular and jagged in outline. This
is one of the most imperfect forms of snow crystallization, and occurs
generally at a temperature but little above freezing, and at the
commencement of a severe and continued frost, or immediately preceding a
general thaw.

At other times a light feathery snow may be seen to fall, composed
almost entirely of stars of six spiculæ or radii, united in the centre
by a white molecule. These are seldom less than from four to five tenths
of an inch in diameter, and are generally collected in tufts of
half-a-dozen or more together, which in calm weather waft uninjured to
the ground. Sometimes these are mixed with other stars of more intricate
figure, to be spoken of presently. Fig. 1 illustrates this variety, and
is enlarged to double the proportions of the original.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

Sometimes a heavy fall of ordinary snow may be accompanied by a number
of minute specks, glistening among the flakes like fragments of talc or
mica, as seen sparkling in a mass of granite. On careful investigation
these prove to be thin laminated hexagons of the most perfect delicacy
and symmetry of form, as shown in Fig. 2.

The hexagon and star being the base of all the crystals of snow yet
observed, we will proceed to show how the more elaborate figures are
compounded of these two primary elements.

To explain various peculiarities of structure which occur in several of
the larger drawings, we will refer to the process of crystallization as
carried on at low temperatures on the surface of still or gently-moving

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

[Illustration: Fig. 10.]

[Illustration: Fig. 11.]

[Illustration: Fig. 12.]

Water freezes at an angle of 60°. On its first congelation, under
favourable circumstances for observation, we perceive in parts,
generally about the centre and around the margin, a corrugation of its
surface. This corrugation presently discovers a series of distinct
figures, needle-like in form, and analogous to the spiculæ of snow. As
the process continues, to each of these needles, while yet forming, a
serrated incrustation of leafy or arborescent character is attaching
itself, so that in time the greater number of them become each the
centre of a crystalline pinna, not unlike a frond of the lady fern.
Fig. 25 (page 140) is a sketch of one, the size of the original, as
observed by T. G. Rylands, Esq., of Warrington, and sent to us during
the severe winter of 1855. The overlapping observable on one side of the
pinna is a peculiarity generally to be found in three out of the six
leaves forming the entire crystal.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.]

[Illustration: Fig. 14.]

[Illustration: Fig. 15.]

[Illustration: Fig. 16.]

[Illustration: Fig. 17.]

[Illustration: Fig. 18.]

Fig. 26 (page 141) represents the crystal when complete; the drawing was
made by ourselves, and gives with great exactitude the figure of the
needles, which, it will be observed, diverge from the main stem
uniformly at an angle of 60°. The position maintained by them around the
centre of the crystal is beautifully adaptive, and well worth

It is not always that the primitive spiculæ are divergent in groups of
six. At times they arrange themselves irregularly in clusters, and
crystallization proceeds with results of a character

[Illustration: Fig. 19.]

[Illustration: Fig. 20.]

[Illustration: Fig. 21.]

[Illustration: Fig. 22.]

[Illustration: Fig. 23.]

[Illustration: Fig. 24.]

somewhat different, but scarcely less beautiful, of which Fig. 27 (page
142) may be considered a type. This is analogous to the fanciful forms
of frost seen on the interior of a pane of glass, and is frequently to
be found where the water is very shallow, and where its mixture with
some gritty substance, or blade of grass, or other obstruction, has in
all probability interfered with a more geometric arrangement. By degrees
the whole surface of the water becomes interlaced with needles and
pinnæ, whether singly or in groups, and thin laminated surfaces of ice
which cover all interstices. Then, according to external influences, the
ice either thickens, obliterating all this beautiful tracery, or it
melts away before the rising temperature of the day. It often happens,
however, that these processes occur after dark, or that the water
freezes so rapidly as to disappoint the wishes of the observer. At
moderate temperatures these changes are best observed; but, in our
opinion, they are somewhat dependent on other atmospheric conditions.
The formation of the needles is common to the freezing of water under
all circumstances, and they vary from a few inches to a few feet in

[Illustration: Fig. 25.]

To return to the crystals of snow. Fig. 3 (page 136) is another
elementary figure, common to temperatures about the freezing-point; it
is not often less than half an inch in diameter, and is a miniature copy
of the water crystal.

[Illustration: Fig. 26.]

Another simple order of figures, and containing within themselves the
germ of the most symmetrical combinations, is that of which Figs. 4 and
5 (page 136) are types; they exhibit secondary spiculæ diverging from
the principal radii at an angle of 60°.

Around the simple it frequently happens that a secondary and smaller
star is arranged, as in Fig. 6 (page 136), the radii of which are
intermediate between those of the former. An angle of 30° is, however,
of unfrequent occurrence, and it seems probable that in this and similar
cases it is the union of two crystals of distinct hexagonal formation.

[Illustration: Fig. 27.]

Sometimes it happens that the secondary spiculæ, which we see in Figs. 4
and 5, are continued down the main radii until they form a contact with
each other, as in Fig. 7 (page 137). The star thus enclosed about the
centre generally becomes laminated and of great transparency. In other
varieties, as in Fig. 8 (page 137), it is intersected by the rays of the
secondary or intermediate crystal.

Having traced the elementary principles of these figures to the first
formation of a simple nucleus, we will proceed to the consideration of
the more compound varieties, in which the nucleus is a conspicuous
element of construction.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.]

The figures we have been considering, although possessed of unity of
design in a high degree, are found to exhibit no great perfection of
structural detail when examined beneath a lens; those that we are about
to inquire into belong to a more perfect order, much more minute and
very compound.

[Illustration: Fig. 29.]

Fig. 28 is a figure of this class, much enlarged and drawn as seen
beneath a microscope. It was highly crystallized, and the angles and
planes of which it is composed were sharply and well defined. The prisms
at the end of the radii were cut into facets, and glistened with
brilliancy, as did the six prisms around the centre. The radial arms
were sharply cut, six-sided shafts, very different from the snowy
rounded spiculæ of the elementary figures. It was easily discernible to
the naked eye, and principally those parts which are white in the
engraving, and which communicate to the copy very much the effect of the
original when under the full influence of direct light. The centre is
laminated, hexagonal in form, and within it we perceive the secondary
star of prisms; also that each addition to the radii diverges at an
angle of 60°.

Fig. 29 is another, highly crystallized, and composed of parallel
prisms, divergent from the radial arms at an angle of 60°, and without
nucleus. The irregular blade-like terminations arise from an ill-advised
eagerness in the observation of their originally very complicated
structure, by which they were in a moment dissolved, without injury,
however, to the symmetry of the figure.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.]

Fig. 30 is a beautiful compound of the higher order of crystallized
bodies with the more elementary, the nucleus belonging to the former,
and the radii at their extremities to the

[Illustration: Fig. 31.]

latter. This at first sight appears an anomaly; but we explain it on the
supposition that the entire structure of the original crystal has been
of a high order, the shafts six-sided, as they remain still at their
base, and the leafy incrustrations to have been regularly distributed
prisms, as in the preceding figure; that the crystal, in its descent,
has passed through various temperatures of intense cold, probably
exchanged for a warmer at one instant of time, in which it has partially
thawed, and again passing into a cold stratum in approaching the ground,
has been once more congealed, giving rise to the white opacity and
irregular form of its terminations. And this explanation is the more
reasonable, as will be gathered from a description of the dissolving or
thawing of these bodies.

Fig. 31 is a crystal seen just previous to its returning to the
primitive drop of water. Originally composed of the ordinary radial
arms, each supporting prisms of the form seen in Fig. 29, and with a
simple hexagonal nucleus, under the influence of a very slightly
increased temperature the rigidity of each line has become relaxed,
whilst the crystalline matter, all but fluid and no longer heaped up
into prisms, is distributed over a wider area, according to the laws of
attraction and corresponding area of surface.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.]

[Illustration: Fig. 33.]

A very different order of figures are those of which Figs. 32, 33, 34,
and 35 are types. The originals were exceedingly small--so minute,
indeed, that the specks containing all these beauties of detail were
almost inappreciable to the naked eye. It will readily be perceived that
they differ greatly from the order arising out of the primitive star or
its secondary radii. The base of these must be referred to the hexagon,
as shown at Fig. 2. The most highly elaborate of our illustrations,
shown at Fig. 33, exhibited a succession of planes raised one above
another, the centre of each radial arm intersected by a slender
crystalline shaft laden with delicate prisms. Fig. 35 preserves more the
form of the ordinary hexagon, and was cut very regularly into facets.
Of Figs. 34 and 35 we were unable to observe the exact disposition of
the raised surfaces, and have delineated the outline only: these figures
fell, with several others far more complicated, during the continuance
of a very unusual degree of cold for these latitudes.

[Illustration: Fig. 34.]


We have thus far endeavoured to show the true bases of construction, and
how that crystallization proceeds onwards from the simple forms to the
more complex, and have selected from numerous varieties a few of the
best types illustrative of this progress. Our limits will scarcely
permit us further to individualise these beautiful creations; yet, not
to mislead, it is necessary to refer to an intermediate order, in which
the hexagon star is laden with divergent spiculæ between groups of
prisms. Fig. 36, selected from this very numerous class of figures, was
one of several observed during the cold weather, following upon the
general thaw, which terminated the long-continued and severe frost of
1855. The spiculæ were icicle-like, of the utmost delicacy, opaque, and
well defined; the prisms, on the contrary, were watery, almost rounded,
and, as it seemed, on the verge of dissolution. The entire figure had
the appearance of two distinct orders of formation--the prisms which
belong to a very low temperature, and the spiculæ which are commonly
formed at and about the freezing-point. Fig. 37 is another of the same
class, and in a very intermediate state; the additions to the main radii
are neither prisms nor spiculæ, yet partaking of the character of both:
its peculiarity consists in the tertiary incrustations being placed
downwards towards the centre. This form has been observed only during
very severe cold.

Fig. 38 is somewhat analogous to the crystals of water; its centre is
hexagonal, but the prisms are irregular crystalline incrustations of the
utmost delicacy and transparency; it was of large size, fully half an
inch in diameter, and glistening like a fragment of talc among the
snow-flakes, was discernible at a considerable distance.

[Illustration: Fig. 35.]

Fig. 39 (page 156) is a specimen of a double crystal; that is, two
similar crystals united by an axis at right angles to the plane of each.
It is highly complex, and the effect of each is more than doubled by the
arrangement. Crystals so united are not unfrequent in severe weather.

During one winter our observations numbered nearly two hundred

[Illustration: Fig. 36.]

The series of small drawings given on pages 137, 138, and 139, were made
with a lens of moderate power, but they are not equal in value or
structural detail to those drawn beneath the microscope. They are among
the most elementary figures observed; and, as illustrative of the first
principles of formation, are chiefly worthy of consideration. Of more
elaborate figures drawn beneath the microscope, besides those more
immediately referred to in the text, examples are given in Figs. 40, 41,
and 42.

The idea of observing snow crystals is by no means original. We know for
certain that Aristotle observed them; also Descartes, Greu, Kepler, and
Drs. Nettes and Scoresby of modern times. Sir Edward Belcher also
devoted a considerable degree of attention to the study of the crystals
of snow in the Arctic regions. There the radial arms were seldom less
than an inch in length, and might be seen, according to Sir Edward
Belcher, drifted in heaps into the crannies and recesses of the ice.
They were seldom to be obtained in a perfect condition, generally
separating, by reason of their weight and size, on descending to the

[Illustration: Fig. 37.]


Having brought to a close all that is here necessary to say respecting
the formation of these bodies, and the position they occupy in regard to
scientific inquiry, we may now turn to a consideration of their
capabilities to suggest new forms in decorative design, as applied to
the industrial arts. Being ourselves desirous to promote the adoption of
the appropriate as well as the simple beauty of truth in ornament, we
will first inquire how far these figures are in accordance with those
general principles of arrangement of form which in all ages and
countries have constituted the truly beautiful in art.

These are summed up briefly in the propositions contained in the opening
chapter of Mr. Owen Jones’s “Grammar of Ornament.” We extract the

“Proposition 3.--As Architecture, so all works of the Decorative Arts
should possess fitness, proportion, harmony, the result of all which is

“Proposition 5.--Decoration should never be purposely constructed: that
which is beautiful is true, that which is true is beautiful.

“Proposition 8.--All ornament should be based upon a geometrical

“Proposition 9.--As in Architecture, so in the Decorative Arts, every
assemblage of forms should be arranged on certain definite proportions;
the whole and each particular member should be a multiple of some
particular unit.

“Proposition 10.--Harmony of form consists in the proper balancing and
contrast of the straight, the inclined, and the curved.”

[Illustration: Fig. 38.]

Further on, from the same high authority, we receive as an axiom--“That
there can be no perfect composition where either of the three primary
elements is wanting--the straight, the inclined, and the curved, or
where they are not so harmonized that the one preponderates over the
other two.” In the crystals of snow we perceive these last conditions
are implicitly fulfilled, inasmuch as they include the varieties,
straight, angular, and curved, of which the angular has a decided

[Illustration: Fig. 39.]

With regard to the proportions of number on which these figures are
based, we shall find them almost all deficient in the maintenance of a
ratio, water crystallizing at an angle of 60°, a fact exemplified in the
radial arms and the secondary and tertiary additions, which, always
produced at the same angle, are characteristic of the greater number of
these crystals. Thus they can be considered suggestive only of more
complete designs--the centre, in fact, of a bordering or pattern-work,
to be completed round them according to the intended application, and
with due reference to those ratios of number which are found most
acceptable in composition.

[Illustration: Fig. 40.]

Founded upon a strictly geometric base, and a uniform repetition of a
certain concordant irregularity of parts, bound together in one
harmonious unity by the laws of circular composition, which serve to
lend beauty to their constructive details, and constitute the archeus of
the figure, we are impressed with a conviction of their truth and
conformity to the natural principles of beauty.

The impulse created in their favour is thus subsequently confirmed on
rational and acknowledged grounds of admiration. This is the more
satisfactory that, belonging to no school of architecture or design,
they may be considered as originating a new order of forms for the
further supply or extension of those so long acknowledged and admired.
We do not, however, consider that they will equally well assimilate with
all or any of the orders of decorative art. It appears to us, according
to the means placed at our disposal for arriving at a conclusion, that
they are analogous in many respects to the numerous specimens of angular
composition which belong to the mediæval period of Byzantine art.

[Illustration: Fig. 41.]

It may not be altogether foreign to the subject briefly to consider the
united power of geometric figures, in conjunction with colour, to
produce the striking and beautiful effects which form so important a
feature in Byzantine and Moresque mosaic (but particularly the former)
specimens of art.

[Illustration: Fig. 42.]

The base of Byzantine mosaic is principally the relation of the hexagon
to the triangle, upon which base almost innumerable combinations have
been constructed. These Byzantine mosaics are always extremely simple in
structure, some being made up entirely of the triangle, others of stars
either six or eight rayed, singly or enclosed in a hexagon or octagon
placed at intervals, and united by the more simple figure of the
triangle, which, arranged in groups, serve as connecting links from one
to the other. The whole composition is rendered either sparkling or
monotonous according to the employment of contrasted effects or a
limited and uniform range of colour, and is admirably illustrative of
how the uniformity of the geometric figure may be broken up and
destroyed, its very character changed, indeed, according to the system
of colouring adopted--an illustration still further confirmed by a study
of the varied and evolved designs on a part of the encaustic pavement of
the Byzantine Court at the Crystal Palace, which, described in shades of
neutral tint throughout, upon a ground of the same colour, renders it
difficult for the eye to detect any variation of pattern.

[Illustration: Fig. 43.]

The specimens of Moresque mosaic with which we are acquainted differ
somewhat in character from that which we have been considering. Based
upon the square and its affinities, it is constructed mainly with
reference to the ratios of eight, four, and twelve. It is less
glittering in colour than the Byzantine, and attracts the eye more to
masses than to fragments.

The figures of snow are nearly allied to the principles of these
decorative styles of art, based as they are upon a system of angular
geometry. We perceive, also, that the primitive base of the crystals is
the leading figure of mosaic, founded, as most of it is, upon the
hexagon and its combinations, though occasionally admitting, with great
effect, the employment of the octagon. Thus they seem naturally
suggestive of an extension of the forms common to mosaic, and may be the
means of eliciting fresh combinations scarcely less beautiful than those
transmitted to us from the past.

The fitness of mosaic for the purposes of decoration is evident, on the
ground of its conformity to certain fixed principles of truth which
scarcely permit of deviation. One of the oldest of the mechanical arts,
originating in experimental combinations with cubes solid and
transparent, subsequently improving as the science of geometry became
more generally understood, it is now, in the hands of some of our most
eminent manufacturers, not the least important among the industrial
agents of the present day, as may be seen in the beautiful encaustic and
painted tiles for pavements and decorative purposes generally, executed
by Messrs. Minton & Co., of Stoke-upon-Trent.

One great fault of the decorative designs of the present day is the
want of “appropriate” ornament to the purposes in view, and the mixture
of schools or styles of art, which characterize so many of the patterns
commonly produced for domestic and even higher applications--a mixture
too often involving the entire destruction of truth, fitness, and
proportion, the three essential elements of beauty. In the magnificent
work on the “Principles of Ornament,” by Mr. Jones, we have an entire
history of the past in architectural design, classified into schools,
the origin and progress of each, either traced or traceable in
connection with the period at which it flourished, and the people who
gave it birth. We may therefore anticipate that the pure and beautiful
so made known amongst us may exercise an important and beneficial
influence on design, from its highest to its lowest applications.

We do not forget, however, that the art of mosaic, taking its rise
beneath the sunny skies of Italy and Greece, and glittering even now on
the walls and beneath the cloisters of the Byzantine churches of Italy
and Sicily, and within the mosques and palaces of the East, accords
rather with the genius of the South and the gorgeous taste of the East
than with the less florid tone of more northern lands; and a thorough
understanding of the conditions under which it so long assimilated with,
and continued to constitute a dazzling feature in, the decoration of
two, if not three, of the highest styles of architecture--the Moresque,
Byzantine, and Arabian--is necessary to enable us to profit to the full
by its capabilities as an industrial agent. Nor do we forget that the
rise of mosaic (we are speaking of its conventional varieties) was
accompanied by, or was rather the result of, the decline of art, when
for a period a mechanical process usurped the place of higher efforts of
design and fancy.

For the very reason, however, that the art and its imitations must be to
a great extent mechanical, we could wish to see its range of utility
still further extended. Not admitting of wide deviations from fixed
principles, we would prefer to see it substituted for the large mass of
nondescript patterns to which we have already made allusion. And our
facilities are great for introducing it into more general use; for in
the same way that the painter’s art has, with the utmost truthfulness of
effect, reproduced for our study and admiration representations of the
elaborate inlayings of marble and glass, with which the originals,
centuries ago, were constructed, we may carry its imitation successfully
into almost every branch of manufacture or decoration; and, whilst
preserving the spirit of the combinations, unfettered by the
constructive difficulties of the original work, we may engraft new
figures, and originate new styles of pattern, perhaps available for a
variety of applications.


An attempt to adapt a revival of Byzantine glass mosaic to various
household elegancies has within the last few years been made by Mr.
George Stephens, of Pimlico, who, after considerable study of the
mosaics of antiquity, has designed a large variety of elaborate and
beautifully executed patterns for tables, stands, panellings,
candelabra, &c. In the specimens that we have seen his combinations have
been based, many of them upon the hexagon and its varieties, and several
upon the octagon, which is necessarily more removed from the simplicity
of the Byzantine school. In the opinion of Mr. Stephens the figures of
snow are highly suggestive of a still further extension of the forms
known in mosaic, and he considers that they will materially aid in the
construction of new figures. We believe that it is his intention shortly
to attempt an adaptation of some of them to the purposes of his art.

We feel that we cannot sufficiently admire the structural detail of the
greater number of these productions, and the rich effects of colour
united in their composition. But here we may remark, that to render the
ancient Byzantine mosaic an appropriate decorative agent, it is
necessary that the artist should not copy implicitly from the works of
the past, but seek most to maintain between it and surrounding
influences the same relation that formerly existed between it and the
people under whose hands it attained such distinguished pre-eminence. As
we have already said, the art originated beneath the skies of Italy and
Greece, and with it the system of bright and glittering colours which
rendered it so perfect in itself, and in its relation to all surrounding
things. Deprived of these bright influences of climate, we find it in
our own country no less beautiful in itself, but wanting in a due
harmonious relation to the tone of colour it is brought in contact with.
To remedy this--to naturalise the art, in fact--the artist should be
content to trust rather to harmony of design than to chromatic effects;
so that the eye, uncaught by a general sensation of brilliancy and
glitter, may repose upon the quiet harmony of the design; and this
remark we make as applying more or less to all mosaic, and entering as a
matter of consideration into every application of which it is capable in
this country, though more particularly in reference to the especial
description executed by Mr. Stephens.

In rejecting strong chromatic effects, however, we would not be
understood to sanction neglect of the very material aid afforded by
colour in giving life and purpose to mosaic; but we would have it
studied with a view to its creating as many varieties of pattern as can
possibly result from the introduction of a limited range of colour upon
a uniform series of designs. For instance, how many varieties of pattern
the eye is able to trace from the simple repetition of a six-rayed star
of uniform colour upon a ground broken into triangles by the
introduction of two other colours to complete the triple harmony! This
is an unfailing charm in mosaic: however simple or however complex the
construction of the design, viewed from a distance, the eye is
constantly discovering, without mental effort, fresh combinations
which, arising out of natural and fixed laws, communicate pleasure to
the beholder.

To encaustic tile-work and its imitations the figures of snow appear
peculiarly suggestive; and it is remarkable that a few of the patterns
preserved to us from antiquity are exactly similar to the nuclei of some
of the snow crystals. In this application, far more than in the
conventional glass mosaic and its imitations of which we have been
speaking, we are compelled to seek effect in symmetry of design.
Necessarily excluded from imparting the idea of raised surfaces, such
being inconsistent with the intention of flooring, which is to present a
level surface to the eye and feet, we are also confined to a very
limited range of colour, in order not to interfere with the decorations
of the walls and ceilings, and the manufacture of encaustic tiles being
in itself limited to the employment of but few colours. Thus excluded
from the rich and subtle harmonies of colour, and the relievo of light
and shade, our attention is principally directed to the design which, in
regard to this application, should combine simplicity with uniformity of
outline, and be easily referable to a purely geometric base. And here we
may add, in regard to the figures of snow, that, whether in outline or
in relievo, they are equally symmetrical. In the one case they are
simply enlarged copies of the general effect to the naked eye; in the
other they present to us structural details only visible by the
employment of a high-power lens, or as seen by the aid of a microscope.

An equal range of adaptation is likewise open to them in regard to
floor-cloth, which involves attention to the conditions above mentioned
as referring to tile-work, but in a less degree, inasmuch as its more
household and domestic applications allow a somewhat greater latitude in
fancy and colour. As suitable for canvas, they will admit of various
supplementary borderings and intricacies of pattern, conceived around
them in the spirit of the original design, and serving as a means for
the introduction of the colours most commonly employed in this branch of

In regard to the figures of snow we have two distinct suggestive ideas
in reference to their application,--the one, that of ingrafting them
into different styles of ornament for their further extension into new
forms; the other, that of their adoption to various decorative purposes
now usurped by designs or patterns which, in part sanctioned by use, are
greatly censurable on the grounds of fitness and taste. In the latter
spirit we consider that they may be most usefully applied to
paper-hangings, although of late in this branch of design there has been
a manifest improvement. Not long ago the “artist” who presided over this
department, and whose influence was felt more or less in every home of
the kingdom, had no guide but his own ill-educated and distorted will;
he threw things together without the least regard to harmony of colour,
fitness of proportion, or form of any kind, and called the heterogeneous
mass “a design.” Latterly he has had better opportunities for the
acquisition of knowledge; but what is of far more importance, he has had
better-informed critics. In some instances his task has preceded, in
others it has followed, that of his customers; but assuredly we do not
now often see upon our walls the monstrous perpetrations which disgraced
those of our childhood. If the paper-hanger will examine this collection
of suggestions from Nature--from Nature as she exhibits only one phase
of grace and beauty--we feel sure that he will be at once convinced that
their adoption will be of immense value to him.

There is one application yet to mention, which we have reserved to this
place as involving somewhat lengthy consideration--that of their
adaptation to the manufacture of earthenware and porcelain. The ungainly
and unmeaning spots that are so often put upon plates, and the distorted
ornament which so frequently degrades cups and saucers and jugs for
ordinary domestic use, we hope may, to a great extent, be displaced by
these snow crystals, which, varied to infinity, would cause the eye and
mind to receive that refreshment which arises from the true and
beautiful; nor are we without hope that they may ultimately be received
into the higher application to porcelain. We all know that porcelain has
long enjoyed a monopoly of the most tasteful designs that art could
suggest, whether of birds, flowers, medallions of figures, or
arabesques; but we are in hopes that they may suggest a few novelties of
designs to this the most favoured medium for the display of the natural
and beautiful in art. This hope of itself suggests the question, How far
have the beauty and symmetry of the geometric figure been acknowledged
and employed hitherto in their designs? The answer to this question
involves an inquiry into the history of designs as applied to pottery,
from its first crude attempts at the delineation of natural objects to
the present time, when, both in England and abroad, it has attained to
such great perfection. As a distinct inquiry this is scarcely less
interesting than instructive, leading, as it does, the student in design
to a correct knowledge of that which is beautiful and appropriate rather
than conventional. As an important aid to such knowledge, the Ceramic
collection at the South Kensington Museum offers a means of study to the
student in ceramic design. The most crude attempts, dating from the
conclusion of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth
centuries, are easily distinguishable by the rude outlines they exhibit
of men and animals and flowers: in some cases strictly imitative, so far
as the skill of the workman has permitted; in others, fanciful and
grotesque. In some specimens belonging to this period of art are
attempts at creative design in the geometric precision with which
similar forms of leaves and interlaced patterns are represented, chiefly
described in shades of the same colour upon a uniform ground, and
differing much in regard to the accuracy with which they are executed.
Some of the subjects chosen are religious, including representations of
our Saviour; some allegorical; and others, again, heraldic devices. The
rude, but flowing, and sometimes evolved, designs of the interlaced and
outline patterns are chiefly borrowed from leaves and flowers, rather
than based on principles of geometry; the colouring also is bold and
prominent, in conformity with the spirit of the design, and exhibits the
primaries blue, red, and yellow, but slightly tempered by the milder
and subsidiary tints, upon which, at a later time, the painters of
Majolica knew so well how to rest their most soft and agreeable effects.

Of the Raphael ware, so well known and so highly prized by connoisseurs,
little here need be said. Raphael, in his early youth, is supposed to
have devoted some time to the painting of Majolica, and hence its name
at this period and for some time beyond. Whether or not the easy grace
and spirited style of these paintings, chiefly allegorical, though
representing sometimes passages from history, and the harmonious
softness of the colouring, give intrinsic value to the most trifling
specimens of the art, whether for ornament or domestic use (and many
rich specimens still remain to attest their value, and the exuberant
taste and imagination of those painters who were content to trust their
creations of fancy to so brittle a medium), to them the designers of the
present day remain indebted for a certain freedom and unconventional
display of art, which, restrained and modified, long exercised an
influence on design, and is traceable even now.

A few years later an entirely new class of designs was originated by
Palissy, master potter to Francis I. This eminent ceramic artist, born
in France, was the originator of the Palissy ware, scarcely less known
than that of Raphael. His works are executed in relievo, and are
distinguished from others of the period in the choice of subjects, which
are chiefly drawn from natural objects, such as plants, reptiles,
fishes, &c. Among the specimens known by the name of Palissy ware are
rustic baskets designed on a strictly geometric base of divergent lines
from the centre to the circumference, partly in relievo, and very
effective in style and composition. The chief merit of this artist
consists in his fidelity to Nature, and an original whimsicality of
conception. Passing on from Palissy, we come, many years later, to
specimens of china of a tasteful degree of ornament, that would do no
discredit to the porcelain works of the present day. Here, in the
central medallion, is a group of figures, Raphaelesque in their easy
grace of outline, yet highly studied, and claiming the rank of a
finished picture.

The Berlin porcelain illustrates the perfection of that union which
combines the imitation of the beautiful in Nature with the less sensuous
beauty of the geometric figure. In the Sèvres porcelain, in the same
collection, the geometric figure rises to higher importance, forming in
the beautiful “Versailles Service” a framework for the jewels which
enrich the exquisite centre medallions.

The impression we derive from retracing the history of the past is, that
the geometric figure has rarely been employed as a principal agent in
decoration. We are speaking still in reference to the period we have
been considering, and which is one calculated to trace with effect the
progress we have in view. Prominent among the earlier specimens is the
delineation of simple forms borrowed from Nature, repeated with
indifferent fidelity of execution, and spread over the entire surface of
the piece; whilst in later times, when the mechanical processes improved
and admitted of greater accuracy, we find it restricted to light and
artificially constructed borderings, so arranged as to lend additional
beauty to the freedom of colour and design elsewhere displayed; and we
gather, also, that if in the works of high art we find it nowhere
unmixed with designs of a less formal character, there is scarcely a
work that is not indebted to the grave and conventional arrangement of
pattern founded upon a genuine knowledge and elucidation of its

It has ever been greatly against the very general adoption of
geometrically constructed figures to the purposes of porcelain, that the
unaided hand of the draftsman is insufficient to insure the requisite
accuracy of outline--a difficulty which even at the present day limits
to a very great extent their employment in this department of art.
Still, we are led to hope that the figures of snow may prove suggestive
of a new basis on which to construct designs no less symmetrical than
those which we have seen to proceed from other and better-known sources;
whilst the rate of modern improvement in most branches of industry leads
us to hope that this difficulty before long may become less formidable,
and that improvements in printing will enable manufacturers to repeat
with tolerable cheapness patterns which have been confined to the more
costly articles of luxury. Of modern applications one in particular
occurs to us--it is that they may aid in the formation of a set of
ice-plates for the dessert or supper table. We can imagine the ground of
the plates a clear light blue; in the centre may be the crystal,
selecting in preference from those forms which are most crystalline and
arborescent; among them, that most graceful of all, the water crystal,
distinguishing it from the ground by shades of grey, which should be so
distributed as to impart to the copy the frosted effect of the original.
Around the centre, and immediately beneath or upon the raised margin of
the plate, might be arranged a circular bordering, similar to that we
have described as surrounding the margin of a pond on its first
congelation, when the needles, becoming incrusted with crystalline
deposit, assume the appearance of frosted ferns.

There is yet another application that suggests itself to us, although
the beautiful designs on porcelain executed by Messrs. Copeland & Co.
scarcely leave anything to be desired by the most fastidious; we refer
to the painting of tiles or slabs of porcelain, to be mounted in frames
of silver, or wood, for ornamental or domestic purposes, and for which,
of late, there has been a large and increasing demand. Fig. 44 (page
174) is designed for this application from one of the snow crystals.

To turn to yet another and far wider scope which may hence be given to
the cotton-printer, millions of “dresses” issue every year from
Manchester. For those which are intended to clothe “the masses” there is
usually little attempt at design. A simple form of a single colour is
all that is sought for, and the puzzle is, how to obtain variety. Here
is a book of patterns, no one of which has ever been used; leaf after
leaf may be turned over, “and still find something new”--something that
may be copied as it presents itself, something that will be suggestive.

Our references have been made to but a few of the arts which may
be--which must be--largely influenced by this power to

[Illustration: Fig. 44.]

resort to another means of teaching; but it is obvious that there is no
branch of manufacture which may not, to some extent, be benefited by it.
Let the student give the subject a moment’s thought, and he will be
convinced of this; let him look down to his carpet, or up at his
ceiling; let him turn to the cover of the book he is perusing, notice
any part of a lady’s dress, or of his own, where ornamentation is
admissible; let him, in short, consider any object, anywhere, under any
circumstances, and then examine the few examples we set before him in
these pages, and he will at once perceive how much of harmony, of truth,
of beauty, may be obtained by an intellectual study of these forms,
which are neither more nor less than Nature’s teachings from a book
hitherto unopened.





The most useful as well as the most ornamental devices which have sprung
from the exercise of human ingenuity have all been founded upon the
varied and beautiful creations which Nature has presented to us. It is
not within the limits of human power to create, but from the impressions
made upon the mind an unlimited variety of combinations may be formed.
By the mental kaleidoscope an infinite change of form is produced by the
re-arrangement of a few simple elements of beauty. The ideal head of the
Grecian sculptures is but a refined reproduction of the lines of grace
and beauty which the observant artists had seen in, and selected from,
the intellectual features of the educated Athenians. Architecture, too,
has liberally borrowed from the perfections of the human form. In the
symmetry of the Ionic columns, and in the graceful strength and grouped
elegance of the Caryatides, we trace the best proportions of the perfect
woman; and in the flowing beauty of their ornamentations we may discover
a reproduction of some of those caprices which are the spontaneous
growth of the female mind. Architecture has no less liberally borrowed
its styles and ornaments from other natural sources: from the arched
cavern and the bowery forest tradition draws the form of the Egyptian
temple and the Gothic fane. The chalice-like flower of the lotus of the
Nile ornaments the columns of Luxor; the acanthus foliage decorates
those of Corinth; and in numerous other instances the artist has sought
to weave the simplicity of vegetable forms into the texture of his work,
for the purpose of insuring a general character of lightness and

Whether the ancient potter selected the shapes of his fictile
manufactures from the foliage of the forests of his land has been
frequently discussed. It is sufficient, at present, to know that the
elegant curves of the Athenian and Etrurian vases, which have through
all periods been regarded as beautiful, owe this high appreciation to
the simple fact that they are true to the lines which Nature has herself
adopted. The true is always beautiful, and in whatever form it may
address itself to the mind, it exerts over it an uncontrollable power
for good. The impulses of Nature are ever in the direction of
perfection, and we find, even in the exercise of the mysterious physical
forces which bind the atoms of matter into a mass, that a constant
tendency is exhibited towards an arrangement which shall observe the
utmost symmetry. In the inorganic world we have crystalline forms
exhibiting an obedience to the most perfect geometrical laws; and in
organic creation--from the lowly lichen to the stateliest tree, from the
infusorial inhabitants of a drop of water up to man--we have molecule
combining with molecule in a myriad ways, but in all of them producing
results which charm by their adaptation to circumstances, and in the
perfection of every organ.

The efforts of man to convey to the canvas the resemblance of
humanity--to impress, by the agency of a few colours upon his tablet, a
reflection of the mental operation as it is seen “breathing through the
face” in love and sympathy, or disturbing the features with agony or
sorrow--is but an exalted effort of that desire which moves the entire
race to copy the phenomena of Nature as they present themselves to our
senses. It is the prevailing character, and, indeed, the distinguishing
feature, of the human race, that it delights in imitation: the child in
its play, and the man of talent in his studio, are equally
exemplifications of this fact. Man has ever gone to Nature for his
inspirations. If we examine the rude productions of the savage who is
awaking from his merely animal existence, and over whom mind is
beginning to assert its power, we discover that his first impulses are
to gleam from the organized forms around him such objects as he
conceives will add something to the adornment of his body. When he
commences to produce any of those aids to existence which are the
earliest efforts of technical art, we still see he rudely attempts to
copy some familiar natural form. Whether we select from Greece “those
faultless productions whose very fragments are the despair of modern
art,” the almost breathing marbles of Phydias--whether we take the
sun-baked pottery of ancient Egypt or of Central America, the
“art-manufactures” of a primitive people, or those manifestations of an
educated taste which Greece, Rome, and modern Europe afford, we shall
find that in all alike the effort to imitate the works of Nature is the
prevailing tendency. And, beyond this, we shall learn, too, that where
the simple beauties of Nature have been approached--seldom have they
been realised--the art-production has become the glory of the age and
the boast of the country to which it belongs. We sometimes find that
human intellect, proud of its comparatively high achievements, quits
that almost stern simplicity which distinguishes Nature, and aspires to
produce effects by violent contrasts and glaring characteristics; but
the result is invariably the fate of Dædalus, whose flight on waxen
wings was punished by a fearful fall. The departure from Nature in the
works of art marks, like a widespreading mildew, the decay of nations;
and this is readily accounted for. As good taste invariably indicates a
feeling of the presence of that intellectual beauty,

    “The awful shadow of some unseen power,”

which consecrates all that it shines upon, and gains an ascendancy over
the gross sensualities of life, so a departure from it exhibits the
operations of those feelings which have their origin in the depravity of
the race.

Our artists and our artisans have sought busily over the surface of the
earth for subjects on which to labour. Herb, shrub, and tree, leaf and
flower, have been copied to ornament the works of their hands. The sea
has yielded its organic forms, and the workman has sought, amidst the
finny tribes and the shelly wonders of the great deep, for subjects to
aid his decorative designs. The insect, the bird, and the beast have
equally ministered to the exercise of fancy; and the inventive powers
of the imaginative have not unfrequently attempted to blend the three
kingdoms of Nature in one device, in the eager search for that novelty
which generally gains a host of admirers. Leigh Hunt with truth
exclaims, “We know not a millionth part of the wonders of this beautiful
world;” and it is but slowly that science is discovering to us new
subjects of admiration; but though slowly, science is steadily doing so.
The truths of science are constantly serving the progress of art, and
the more we free the labours of the philosopher and the experimentalist
from the technicalities which are too frequently only retained to give a
false appearance of learning, the more certain will be the advantages to
be derived by the student of beauty from the labours of stern induction.
The union of Vulcan and Venus tends to the diffusion of peace and

Although Natural History is found giving its aid to almost every
division of ornamental art, there is one branch of it, Geology, which
has rendered but little service to the artist. Yet here is a vast field,
spread over an earth-wide space and comprehending almost infinite time,
teeming with forms the result of the most varied organizations, which
has scarcely yet been touched. This arises from the circumstance that
the study of organic remains is itself a science of very recent date.
Palæontology is but of yesterday; yet it has achieved important results.
The study of the forms of animal life which existed in the earth
previous to the creation of the present races which inhabit it is
replete with the highest interest. As Astronomy penetrates the
mysteries of space, so Geology pierces the arcana of time. The rock
formations tell of the earth’s mutations, and the remains which they
hold, as histories of former ages, show that the beings which possessed
the earth as a dwelling were as perfectly adapted to their conditions of
existence as any living examples of creative intelligence can be. Nor
were they wanting in beauty. A study of the cabinets of the curious--or
of the metropolitan and many local museums--would at once carry
conviction to the mind, that amidst the host of fossil remains with
which we are now acquainted is to be found a new variety of forms
admirably adapted, by their symmetry and general character, for the
purposes of ornament.

It will be found that stored in the rocks are creations which lived and
breathed ere yet the great mutations had occurred which give to the
earth its present physical features. From the coral-like structures of
the Laurentian rocks--probably the earliest evidences existing of any
organized structure--we may pursue our studies over the infinite variety
of form which the Cambrian and the Silurian rocks preserve, until we
arrive at that period when the Old Red Sandstone sea, teeming with life,
washed the rock of that archipelago which has grown into the British
Isles. Advancing to the study of yet more recent rocks, we may select
the inhabitants of inland seas and the immense savannahs of an early
world, which for delicacy of structure and elegance of design are not to
be surpassed by any of the productions of organic life now existing.
Here, then, is a yet unploughed field from which the art-manufacturer
may cull fresh forms. We can only direct attention to the source, and
give a few illustrations in proof of our assertions: having done this,
we must leave the industrious artist to search for himself in geological
cabinets and palæontological plates for those forms which may suit his
purposes and please his taste. With the exception of two highly
imaginative pictures by John Martin, of “The Country of the Iguanodon,”
illustrating Dr. Mantell’s “Wonders of Geology,” and “The Book of the
Great Sea-Dragons,” by Mr. Thomas Hawkins, in which a realisation of the
condition of the earth during the period when it was the abode of those
monstrous reptiles whose fossilised bones tell the tale of their
ferocity and power, is attempted and ably conceived, art has not
ventured into this abyss of time.

Whether the hydras of superstition or the griffins and dragons which are
preserved in heraldic bearings are dim outshadowings of those ancient
days, preserved like a myth amongst men, it were vain to speculate,
although the speculation is fraught with interest. It is, however,
curious that we find those strange remains of the old world linked to
superstitions which have their origin since the introduction of

It is therefore evident that those remarkable fossil forms must have
excited the wonder of man ere yet science bent to the task of studying
them. The graceful form of the Nautilus, which now enjoys existence in
our tropical seas, is familiar to all. A large variety of molluscous
animals of the same genera have existed through all time; and their
remains found in the fossil state prove them to have been among the
earliest inhabitants of the ancient ocean. In nearly all the rocks of a
limestone character the remains of Ammonites--the ancient
Nautilus--have been found. In the Oolite, the Lias, and the Chalk,
varieties of these elegant shells are constantly discovered, and nearly
three hundred species have been named. From these we select a few, which
will, we think, show that they are well adapted for ornamental purposes.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

The first we give is the _Ammonites Eudesianus_ (Fig. 1), which is found
in the inferior Oolite, a variety of the sandstone rocks; the specimen
from which our illustration is taken being from the sandstone rocks of
Caen, so well known in this country from the great quantity employed in
our architectural ornaments. This example is remarkable for the
perfection of the spiral lines and the beautiful disposition of the ribs
or elevated portions, which serve to strengthen the delicate chambered

The _Ammonites cordatus_ of Sowerby (Fig. 2) is distinguished by a
spiral of a different order from that of _Eudesianus_. Its ribs forming
graceful waving lines, and terminating in a denticulated edge, give a
very symmetrical character to the architecture of this variety.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

The _Ammonites cristagalli_ (Fig. 3), in which we have an arrangement of
the convolutions not very unlike the last-named species, differs from it
in the disposition of those folds which form the supports of the arch of
the shell, by which a very charming though simple character is

The _Ammonites muticus_ (Fig. 4), found in great abundance in the marls
of the Lias, is remarkable for the very curious arrangement of tubercles
or spines, which are formed by the elongation of the folds of the shell.
Notwithstanding the general defect which arises from the repetition of
angular lines, we have in this shell an example of the harmony which may
be produced by them when arranged upon a uniform system. The radiating
effect of these tubercles ranged around the involutions of the shell is
very pleasing.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

The _Ammonites Grenouilloxi_ (Fig. 5) offers another variety, which
shows the folds gradually being elevated, as these approach the mouth of
the shell, into bosses, by which, of course, increased strength is
secured where the shell becomes more open, and consequently weaker; at
the same time they give a pleasing variety to the form of the shell

The _Ammonites contrarius_ (Fig. 6) presents many distinguishing
characteristics, which are important to the naturalist as distinctive
markings, and furnish the artist with a variety of simple elegance which
deserves his study. The peculiar arrangement of the ribs, curving off
right and left from a line running along the centre of the shell, gives
rise to the formation of a series of festoon-like ribs, which add much
to the general beauty of this species.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

“The general principle,” remarks Dr. Buckland, “of dividing and
subdividing the ribs, in order to multiply supports as the vault
enlarges, is conducted nearly on the same plan, and for the same
purpose, as the divisions and subdivisions of the ribs beneath the
_groin work_ in the flat vaulted roofs of the florid Gothic
architecture.” In all these arrangements, and also in the bosses or
tubercles, we have varieties giving both additional strength and beauty.
A striking uniformity is found to prevail in even those shells of the
Ammonites which seem the most complicated; and the elegance of their
general appearance will be found to be due to the repetition, at regular
intervals, of one symmetrical system of forms. In many of these fossil
shells the pearly plates are dovetailed together in a curious and
beautiful manner, the regular disposition of the sutures producing a
very elegant foliated appearance. The charm of all these forms, and also
of those fossil shells which are allied to the Ammonites, consists in
the pleasing impression which is given by the gracefully curved outline,
and the waving lines by which the shells are banded.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

Among the Pectens--a class of shells common to the Sussex chalk--will
also be found a great number of forms which, although not unlike many
modern species, differ from them in some striking features, and which,
independently of their novelty, are so very elegant that they seem
peculiarly fitted for ornamental purposes. It has been with much
difficulty that we have chosen two or three illustrations from this
class, and we still feel doubtful if our selections exhibit the most
favourable samples of their symmetry.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

The _Pecten quinquccostatus_ of Forbes, the _Janira Atava_ of D’Orbigny
(Fig. 7), is a beautiful semicircular shell, with a regularly
denticulated edge, its surface being covered with fine transverse striæ.
The woodcuts of the _Pecten_ or _Janira striatacostata_ and the _Pecten
Dujardinii_ (Figs. 8 and 9), serve to exhibit other varieties of these
fossils, and at the same time to show the elegant curvatures of these
shells, when viewed in different positions.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

[Illustration: Fig. 10.]

[Illustration: Fig. 11.]

The _Trigonia carinata_ (Figs. 10 and 11), one of a class of fossils
which has particularly engaged the attention of Agassiz, is also found
in the Cretacean series. It is figured in two different positions, that
the elegant outline and the ornamental radiating striæ, regular
tubercles, and denticulated margin may be fully seen.

In the _Cardita_ we have the same heart-shaped form, but the ornamental
surface is in many respects different. The regular curved lines
proceeding from the hinge of the shell, which is itself most delicately
formed, present in the _Cardium mutonianum_ (Fig. 12), the _tuberculata_
of Sowerby, a most pleasing arrangement of striations. The regularity of
these, as shown in the woodcut, particularly recommends this specimen
and others of its class as admirably adapted for ornamental purposes,
where very delicate and elaborate workmanship can be admitted.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.]

The _Opis Sabandiana_ (Fig. 13) is another of these elegant shells more
remarkable for the regular form of its outline than for any elaboration
of the striæ which traverse it, in this respect standing in pleasing
contrast with the preceding figure.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.]

Among the _Trigonia_ will be found a vast variety of the most
symmetrical forms, most of which are elegantly ornamented.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.]

The two representations which we have given of the _Trigonia scabra_
(Figs. 14 and 15) will convey a general idea of the more striking
characteristics of this class of fossils, which are found distributed
abundantly over the Portland rocks. The manner in which the folds of the
shells overlap each other is singular, and gives to them often a very
striking resemblance to the foldings of leaves in the leaf-bud of
plants. The curved lines, formed by the small bosses regularly elevated
from the striæ, running transversely to these lines in many species,
give an exceedingly pleasing outline, which certainly adapts these
Trigonia, from the variety of forms thus produced, to the purposes of
the art-manufacturer in a peculiar manner.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.]

By the wonderful transmutation of organic structures, by those natural

    “Which turned the ocean-bed to rock,
     And changed its myriad living swarms
     To the marble’s veined forms,”

we have preserved specimens of the early creations, rivalling in beauty
any of those which now exist.

If we can but show that a series of novelties for art may be found by
searching over the charnel-houses of the ancient world, possessing the
charm of symmetry and that beauty of arrangement and decoration which
adapts them, as we believe, to numerous ornamental purposes, we shall be
satisfied. We do but suggest an examination. We have confined ourselves
to a few of the numerous remains of animal life. “The sermons in stones”
are varied beyond the conception of those who have not attempted to read
them. Between the earliest attempts of Nature to form a cell in which
life should exert its mysteries, up to the most elaborated and gigantic
form which ever swam in the ancient waters or roamed in the wide
savannahs, there is one unceasing, never-failing effort to multiply the
beautiful, and to make it conformable to the useful. In conclusion, we
may again remark that whether we seek to copy from Nature her older or
her more recent works, we shall find in them all that peculiar charm

                        “Can so inform
    The mind that is within us--so impress
    With quietness and beauty--and so feed
    With lofty thoughts,”

that the results of that study will be the production of beautiful
works, all tending, by their spells, to elevate humanity.


In the previous chapter we confined ourselves to a selection of a few
fossil shells, with the hope of drawing the attention of the
art-manufacturer to a source whence he may gather, from thousands of
examples, forms of the utmost symmetry, which appear to fit themselves
in a peculiar manner for his especial purposes. The beauty of vegetable
forms has, through all time, won the attention of the artist. The lotus
and the acanthus are rendered classical by their numerous adaptations to
ornamental uses. The ivy and the laurel, the nepenthe and the
convolvulus, with numerous other plants and flowers, are to be found
moulded and painted on works of ornament and utensils for domestic use
through all ages.

Numerous and ever graceful as are the forms of the living vegetable
world--and these have been extensively copied--there is a vast field
within which diligent search will discover a great variety of plants,
which are no less beautiful and far less common than their living
analogues, in the bygone flora preserved so strangely in those strata
which mark the mutations of our mysterious world.

The flora of the Carboniferous period was of a most extraordinary
character, and luxuriant to an extent far exceeding even that which is
now exhibited in the forests of equatorial climes. Growing most rapidly
and of a lax tissue, these plants were of short duration, and were after
death rapidly converted into a mass of uniform structure, such as we
have now exhibited in every bed of fossil fuel. Three hundred species
of plants belong to the Coal formations of Great Britain alone; and it
is found that local causes, with which we are not acquainted, have
modified in a strange manner the plastic vegetation of this period; and
in what appear to be analogous positions we find whole genera and even
orders of plants of very opposite botanical character, presenting a
greater disparity of vegetation than countries the most remote in
geographical position.[B] Thus within a small area we have a variety of
strange forms, few of which do not adapt themselves for ornamental

[Illustration: Fig. 16.]

Fig. 16 is the _Pecopteris lonchitica_ or _Mantelli_, a fern abundantly
found in the coal-beds of Newcastle-on-Tyne, which is indeed allied to
some of the existing ferns of New Zealand, but differing from them in
many of its markings. The graceful arrangement of the frond particularly
distinguishes this species.

Our next figure, the _Pecopteris orcopteridius_ (Fig. 17), is copied
from a specimen found in the coal shale of France, as is also Fig. 18,
the _Asplenites nodosus_, although this singularly and prettily marked
plant is frequently found in other coal districts. In the ferns of the
present period we have none which exactly resemble these varieties, and
they appear capable of being arranged by the artist into ornaments of an
exquisitely graceful character.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.]

[Illustration: Fig. 18.]

Of these kinds numerous varieties exist in the fossil state, in which
the alternating arrangements of the fronds, and the systems of
venation, present many pleasing differences. These petrified plants,
which grew in the enormous deltas of our island and the Continent which
now form the known coal-fields, are often preserved with a delicacy
which we could scarcely have expected from the conditions of
putrefaction and rapid disintegration which must have gone on around
them. And not unfrequently we have singularly beautiful remains of the
dissected leaves of these plants (Fig. 19), this being effected
doubtless by the action of water on the softer portions of the leaf.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.]

The _Sphenopteris tridactylites_, which exhibits in the arrangement of
its fronds one of the most symmetrical forms to be found among this
elegant class of plants, can scarcely be sufficiently exhibited in the
space we are enabled to afford. It is abundant in the shales of the
mines of Montrelais. In the same district is also found the _Neuropteris
Heterophylla_ (Fig. 20), which is remarkable for the arrangement of its
fleshy leaves and the regularity of its venations. It must be remembered
that our drawing only represents one of the fronds. The grouping of the
whole on the straight and slender stem is very beautiful.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.]

The _Pecopteris Whitbiensis_ (Fig. 21), which presents many differences
from the other forms, is copied from a specimen found in a nodule of
argillaceous ironstone from the lower shale at Cloughton, and certainly
it presents many points of interest.

Among the most remarkable and characteristic plants of the coal
formation is the _Sigillaria_, of which extraordinary trailing plant
upwards of sixty species have been described.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.]

These plants are generally but a few feet in height, though sometimes
two yards broad.

Although of universal occurrence, it is singular that it is
unaccompanied by any evidence of branches, leaves, flowers, or fruit.
The peculiarly lax condition of this enormous tree fern has prevented
the preservation of many of the beautiful markings by which the trunk
must have been distinguished.

In our selection from such as have been discovered we have given two
striking varieties, the first the _Sigillaria elegans_ (Fig. 22), as it
is figured by Brongniart, and the _Sigillaria Defrancii_ (Fig. 23) from
St. Ambroise, both of them distinguished by the beauty of their
markings. It will be evident upon examination that these strange
vegetable wonders of an early world bear a relation to the recent
Coniferæ; but this subject, which is one of anxious dispute among fossil
botanists, need not detain us. Amid the many varieties of Sigillariæ and
Lepidodendrons which are associated with them numerous exquisitely
delicate markings occur. The sections of these plants too present, in
their medullary rays and slender vascular tissue, systems of arrangement
which are curious and ornamental.

[Illustration: Fig. 22.]

Having suggested--and we aim at nothing more--that the fossil flora
might furnish many tasteful ornaments to the art-manufacturer, we pass
hastily to an equally brief and merely

[Illustration: Fig. 23.]

suggestive notice if the immense variety of fossil forms allied to those
of the coral formations now progressing in the Pacific. The modern
corals present to us a great diversity of structure, but they are
excelled in all respects by those of the old world. The remains of these
labours of insect life are exceedingly numerous; entire mountains are
built, for the most part, with them; and the coral animals appear to
have been as busy in the ocean which washed the cliffs of the Silurian
boundary as it is at the present time on the reefs of Torres Straits and
over the Indian Seas. Figs. 24 and 25 represent the external appearance
and the interior arrangement of the _Calamopora polymorphus_ or
_Favosites_, which is found at Combe Martin, Ilfracombe, and Plymouth.
The arrangement of the tubes or cells, giving to the whole the
character of some of the vegetable productions of the tropics, is very

[Illustration: Fig. 24.]

[Illustration: Fig. 25.]

[Illustration: Fig. 26.]

The _Pleurodictyum problematicum_ (Fig. 26), from the ironstone bands on
the banks of the Rhine, is singularly elegant. The disposition of the
denticulated channels presenting the appearance of a delicate bead-like
tracery, marking out a series of leaf-shaped divisions, gives great
beauty to this variety. In the figure copied the _Serpyllum_ curved in
the centre adds too, rather than detracts from, the beauty of the
fossil. Indeed, the manner in which Serpylla dispose themselves over
many of the corals is singularly graceful and capable of many

The following figures of the _Astræa geminata_ (Fig. 27) and the _Astræa
rotula_ (Fig. 28), showing their external character and the radiations
as exhibited in section, are only intended to display the novel and
elegant character which prevails through an almost infinite variety of
these coralline forms.

These beautiful creations are produced by animals of the polyp kind,
which, possessed of a power of separating the carbonate of lime from
sea-water, are constantly engaged in building up around themselves those
stone structures which, if not geometrical in all their arrangements,
are strikingly varied and beautiful. The coral animal has left traces of
its work on the earliest fossil rocks, but in the more recent or Oolitic
series the corals are most abundant.

[Illustration: Fig. 27.]

[Illustration: Fig. 28.]

It is almost impossible to select a specimen from any cabinet of the
corals of the Oolitic period without being struck with the regularity of
arrangement and the variety of beautiful forms produced. It is true that
our existing corals bear a strong resemblance to those of the seas of
the ancient world, but they differ in specific, and often in generic
character, and the fossil remains present forms and dispositions of
parts widely varied from those of the recent coral. It is curious and
interesting to observe, however, in both species, the same contrivances
adapted to provide that resistance to the waves so necessary for the
protection of the coral animal, and which especially marks its work.

The extent to which these coralline formations have gone on will be
indicated by the fact that the coralline crag at Oxford is exposed at
the surface, and the bottom of it has not been reached at the depth of
fifty feet. One of the limestone beds of the middle Oolite series of
England is a continuous bed of petrified corals, retaining the position
in which they grew at the bottom of the sea; and beside these we find
scattered through our Oolitic formations an immense quantity of coral
remains. Indeed, if we examine the stones of which some of our most
admired churches are built, as at Oxford and Cambridge, we shall find
that the firmly integrated mass is little else than shells and corals.
Thus the labours of hosts of insect architects, working in the ocean
which overflowed this island myriads of ages since, are now employed to
form those temples which religion consecrates to the Creator of all

The elegance of these fossil remains is still further illustrated by
the three cuts of the _Pentacrinites subangularis_, the sections of the
_Pentacrinites dubius_, and of the _Encrinites moniliformis_ (Fig. 29).

[Illustration: Fig. 29.]

An examination of the numerous _Cystideæ_--the class of fossils which
are allied to the sea-urchins of our own seas--will convince any one of
the constant tendency towards the beautiful in all natural objects. The
arrangements of the plates of the Cystideans, ornamented as they are
with grooves, striæ, and pores, presenting a very highly ornamented
system of sculpture, cannot be excelled by any imaginary design. The
_Echino-encrinites_, with their curious plate ornaments and radiating
bands, are all in the highest degree symmetrical, as are also the
star-fishes found in a fossil state, and the numerous animal and
vegetable remains of a former world, to which we cannot do more than
thus cursorily allude. Many hundreds of similar creations possessing the
utmost variety in their arrangements, and rivalling in geometric
regularity and beauty the images of the kaleidoscope, are to be found
locked within the stony structure of our fossiliferous rocks.

The _Cidaris Blumenbachii_ (Fig. 30), found in the Jura, is the only
specimen of either of those classes of fossil forms which our space will
allow of our giving.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.]

The elegant form of the Lily Encrinites, as they have been called, is
well illustrated by the drawing of the _Encrinites moniliformis_ (Fig.
31), the sections of the stems of which have been already shown (Fig.
29), and the _Bourgueticrionis crinoidalis_ (Fig. 32), which at once
unites the perfection of lightness and elegance in the disposition of
its jointed stem and its crowning inflorescence. These curious links
between the animal and the vegetable kingdoms, presenting in their
singularly delicate structures the most desirable forms for ornamental
disposition, are to be found in great abundance and diversity.

Distributed through every phase of being, the creations of Nature
present a chain, each link of which is symmetrical in form and
beautiful in its arrangement. If we commence our examination with these
forms of the lowest organization, which appear to mark the dawn of
vitality on this planet, and trace series after series through the
distinguishing strata--each one marking a new epoch in the order of
animal existence, and exhibiting new and constantly varied forms--we
shall find that order and elegance mark the whole. Many of those strange
creations, the Trilobites--and indeed those monsters of that ocean which
appears to have prevailed over the dry land, the Saurians--do not
appear, upon the first inspection, to bear out this assertion; but an
examination of their wonderful armour will at once show that Nature, in
her works, never neglects to add to their adornment after she has
provided for the necessities of each condition.

[Illustration: Fig. 31.]

[Illustration: Fig. 32.]

The influence of the study of Nature in refining and purifying the human
mind has been often insisted on, and its truth is evident. No effort of
human thought, which is of a merely terrestrial character, can ever rise
to the truly beautiful. Whether the artist desires to paint upon his
canvas, to chisel out of marble, to mould in clay, or to cast in metal,
forms which shall possess the charm, the secret of inspiring a feeling
of the beautiful, he must go to Nature for his inspiration. Looking into
the mirror of her works, like the influence of gazing into loving eyes,
he draws from it a pure, a holy inspiration, which he may, if his
practised hand be obedient to his creative mind, transfer to the gross
element which is to express to mankind the power of the true.

Persuaded that but few of those who are engaged on works of art or of
art-manufacture have had their attention directed to any of the results
of palæontological studies, and feeling confident that an immense store
of novelties was to be found amongst the fossil remnants of those days
when man was not, the remarks now submitted for their consideration,
with every feeling of their imperfections and necessarily sketchy
character, will not, it is thought, be without interest.

While dealing with the applications of science to the economic purposes
of life, it was thought that a step beyond this mere utilitarian purpose
might be allowed, and that the studies of the natural philosopher might
be made to minister to the

    “Spirit of Beauty, that does consecrate
     With its own hues all that it shines upon
     Of human thought or form.”

       *       *       *       *       *

These essays were produced twenty-four years since. They were written to
serve a special purpose--the subject of art manufacture; being, in 1848,
one which was engaging general attention. With a few verbal corrections
the essays remain in the condition in which they were first published.
They indicate, however--and they aim at nothing more--with sufficient
clearness, a source from which the ingenious artist might multiply his
forms for ornamentation. It must not be forgotten that during the past
twenty-four years the science of geology has achieved wonders, and the
cabinets of the palæontologist have been crowded with the most beautiful
forms of organic creation. If _then_ there existed a store of choice and
rare forms, these are multiplied by thousands _now_.



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 [A] For drawings of the anemone see S. B. 87, E. B. 11, and P. F. 66.

 [B] See Dr. Hooker “On the Vegetation of the Carboniferous Period,”
 _Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, &c._, vol. ii.

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