{Sarothamnus of "Edinb. Cat." )

Welsh, Aurfanadl, Melynog-y-waun. - French, Genet. - German, Ginster. - Dutch, Brem. - Italian, Ginestra. - Spanish Jinestra. - Portuguese, Ginesta. - Danish, Genista.


Diadelphia. Decandria.


Leguminosce. Papilionaceae. Genistece.

Oh, the broom, the yellow broom, The ancient poets sung it,

And still the poets love to lie The summer hours among it.

Nor is it very wonderful that they should do so; not alone on account of the golden glories of its radiant bloom, but because it grows in spots which are a very paradise to the poet's heart. Shunning the tranquil meadows and fertile corn-lands of better cared-for tracts, it lives away on the breezy hill-side, where no maledictory glance from the eye of the practical agriculturist turns upon its beauties. And there, with the breezes of heaven blowing all around, it bathes in the flooding sun-light, and opens a very sea of blossoms, whose tints seem to have been won from that light itself. There, too, in its taper branchlets the linnets build, and seem to furnish it with a living voice of joy and gladness, so that ceaseless hymns of thankfulness and praise rise like incense from its groves. And there the "heart of the observant poet" learns in the "summer hours" those lessons, which, with unerring instinct, those creatures to whom reason has not been given "Have taught so long and well;" creatures from whom he may learn much, that it is his especial mission, his especial glory to impart - whether in actual song or in the oft-times nobler poetry of prose - to the less keenly observant, less quickly sensitive amongst his brother men.

What wonder, then, if he seek the broom-lands for his musings; the tracts for which, the flexible and poetic language of Italy furnishes a distinctive word, i ginestreti? What wonder if modern poets, too, have sung it? Thus Chaucer says:-

"Amid the broom he basked him in the sun".

Wordsworth points out, that "The broom Full-flowered, and visible on every steep, Along the copses runs in veins of gold".

Thompson sings: -

"Or where Dan Sol, to slope his wheels began, Amid the broom he basked him on the ground, "Where the wild thyme and camomile are found.'

Cowper tells of "The broom Yellow and bright as bullion unalloved".

Darwin shews where "Sweet blooms genista in the myrtle shades".

Coleridge wanders "Down Amid the fragrance of the yellow broom; While o'er our heads the weeping beech-tree stream'd Its branches, arching like a fountain shower".

And the northern ballad - sweeter than all in its strong feeling of home - declares,

"More pleasant far to me the broom That blows sae fair on Cowden Knowes,* For sure so sweet, so soft, a bloom, Elsewhere there never grows".

Again, the old Welsh bard, Dafydd ap Gwillym, in his Banadl lwyn † dwells lovingly on the beauties of the golden copse, in the poem commencing;-

"Y fun well ei Hun a'i lliw Na'r iarlles wn o'r eurlliw;" here presented to the reader in the English version of Mr. A. Johnes, which will, at least, convey to him an idea of its sentiments.

* Golden Knolls; Cowden, being, as Dr. Johnston, of Ber-wick-on-Tweed, tells us, a corruption of Gowden, or Golden; a derivation which appears more probable, when viewed by the light of the above stanza, than that given by Mr. Robert Chambers, of Coldeen, a wooded height; though it is to be remembered that it was formerly spelt Koldenknowys. See "Botany of the Eastern Borders".

† "The broom grove." This poet died about the year 1400.

"Its brandies are arrayed in gold Its boughs the sight in winter greet, With hues as bright, with leaves as green, As summer scatters o'er the scene.

Green is that arbour to behold,

And on its withes thick showers of gold !

Oh ! flowers of noblest splendour, these Are summer's frostwork on the trees !

A house of passing loveliness,

A fabric of Arabia's gold------

Bright golden tissue, glorious tent Of him who rules the firmament; With roof, of various colours blent!

An angel, 'mid the woods of May, Embroidered it with radiance gay - That gossamer with gold bedight - Those fires of God - those gems of light!

Like gleam of starlight o'er the skies - Like golden bullion, glorious prize! How sweet the flowers that deck that floor, In one unbroken glory blended".

Nor is the "bonnie broom" less conspicuous in the annals of Heraldry, and consequently in the history of dress; although, under this head it is dif-ficult, indeed impossible, to separate the very distinct, though closely allied, plants, the Genista - properly so called - or greenweed, and the Cytisus, or real broom. In fact, either appears to have been indifferently used. Ordinary history tells us that Henry II. of England, wearing the broom - planta genista - in his cap, assumed, and transmitted, the now royal surname of Plantagenet. But there is strong evidence to prove that Fulke, Earl of Anjou, the grandfather of Henry, wore the plant as the symbol of humility, in his penitential pilgrimage to the Holy Land; while it is certain that the son of this earl, Geoffry, surnamed Pulcher, or Le Bel; both used the crest, and bore the name, or more properly soubriquet, surnames being then unknown.

The broom frequently occurs as an ornament in the wardrobe rolls both of England and France. We read that the queen of Richard II. had a dress of rosemary and broom of Cyprus, in gold and silk on a white ground. And a broom-plant with its open pods despoiled of their seeds, ornaments the robe of her husband, in his tomb in Westminster Abbey. Not a little learning and heraldic research have been expended on this one simple, and well-imagined emblem. Antiquarians have endeavoured to shew that the armorial bearings of this monarch were distinguished from those of others of his family by the absence of the seeds from the pods, which last appear to have been borne from the earliest period of its adoption as a device. But they have overlooked all the beauty of the design. They have not felt, with the designer, the truthful force of the silent record. The ripened seed had fallen from its husk; the germ of immortality was parted from its shell; the body was laid in the dust, and the soul was called into a life eternal, e'er the marble tomb was raised. The seed of life, the soul of the man, had passed away from the world, and the mask of royalty, the badges of power and pomp, were left behind as earthly heritages to his successors.

Rarely indeed does the sculptured shield, or the marble tomb convey its lessons to us with such dignity as in that empty broom-pod!