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holding scissors in her hands, Atropos gathers up the various-sized clues of thread which, as the chief of the inexorable Fates, it is her privilege to cut according to the length of the persons' lives they represent.--Another name bestowed by the Greeks upon the Mandrake was that of Circeium, derived from Circe, the weird daughter of Sol and Perseis, celebrated for her witchcraft and knowledge of magic and venomous herbs. – From the earliest ages, the Atropa Mandragora appears to have been deemed a mystic plant by the inhabitants of Eastern countries, and to have been regarded by them as stimulating the passions ; on which account it is still used for preparing love potions. It is generally believed that the Mandrake is the same plant which the ancient Hebrews called Dudaim ; and that these people held it in the highest esteem in Jacob's time is evident from the notice in Genesis (XXX., 14) of Reuben finding it and carrying the plant to his mother Leah. From the remotest antiquity the Mandrakes were reputed in the East to possess the property of removing sterility; hence Rachel's desire to obtain from Leah the plants that Reuben had found and given to his mother. It is certain that the Atropa Mandragora was looked upon by the ancients as something more than a mere vegetable, and, in fact, as an embodiment of some unquiet or evil spirit. In an Anglo-Saxon manuscript of the tenth or eleventh century, the Mandrake is said to shine in the night like a candle. The Arabs call it the Devil's Candle, because of this nocturnal shining appearance; and in allusion to this peculiarity, Moore says of it in · Lalla Rookh ':
“ Such rank and deadly lustre dwells,
As in those hellish fires that light
The Mandrake's charnel leaves at night." From times long past has come down the legend that the Mandrake is a dweller in the dark places of the earth, and that it thrives under the shadow of the gallows, being nourished by the exhalations or flesh of the criminals executed on the gibbet. Amongst other mysterious attributes, we are told by old writers that the Mandrake has the power of emitting sounds, and that when it is pulled out of the ground, it utters dreadful shrieks and groans, as if possessed of sensibility. Shakspeare thus decribes these terrible cries :
“ Would curses kill, as doth the Mandrake's groan,
I would invent as bitter-searching terms,
As curst, and harsh, and horrible to hear.” And Moore relates in verse another tradition
“The phantom shapes—oh touch them not
That appal the maiden's sight,
That shrieks when plucked at night." These screams were so horrible and awe-inspiring, that Shakspeare tells us the effect was maddening
“And shrieks like Mandrakes, torn out of the earth,
That living mortals, hearing them, ran mad."
One other terrible attribute of this ill-omened plant was its power, by its pestilential effects, severely to injure, if not, indeed, to strike with death, the person who had the hardihood to drag the root from its bed. To guard against these dangers, therefore, the surrounding soil was removed, and the plant securely fastened to the tail of a dog, which was then driven away, and thus pulled up the root. Columella, in his directions for the site of gardens, says they may be formed where
"The Mandrakes flowers Produce, whose root shows half a man, whose juice
With madness strikes.” The Romans seem to have been very superstitious as to the manner of taking up the root. According to Pliny, those who undertook the office were careful to stand so that the wind was at their back; and before commencing to dig, they made three circles around the plant with the point of the sword; then, turning to the west, they proceeded to take it up. Probably the plant's value as a narcotic and restorative alone induced the gathering of so dangerous a root.--In mediæval times, when ignorance and credulity were dominant in Europe, the mountebank quack doctors palmed on the credulous fictitious Mandrake-roots, which were largely sold as preventives against mischief and dangers. Speaking of this superstition, Lord Bacon, in his · Natural History,' says, “ Some plants there are, but rare, that have a mossie or downie root, and likewise that have a number of threads, like beards, as Mandrakes, whereof witches and impostours make an ugly image, giving it the forme of a face at the top of the root, and leave those strings to make a broad beard down to the foot." -Madame de Genlis speaks of an author who gravely gives a long description of the little idols which were supposed to be roots of the Mandrake, and adds that they must be wrapped up in a piece of sheet, for that then they will bring unceasing good luck. The same author, she says, gives this name Mandragora (Mandrake) to certain sprites that are procured from an egg that must be hatched in a particular manner, and from which comes forth a little monster (half chick and half man) that must be kept in a secret chamber, and fed with the seed of Spikenard, and that then it will prophesy every day. Thus it can make its master lucky at play, discover treasures to him, and foretell what is to happen. The credulous people of some nations have believed that the root of the Mandrake, if dislodged from the ground, becomes the good genius of the possessor, and not only cures a host of maladies, but discovers hidden treasures; doubling the amount of money locked up in a box, keeping off evil spirits, acting as a love charm, and rendering other notable services. According to Pliny, the Mandrake was sometimes conformed like a man, at others like a woman: the male was white, the female black. In the mountain of Pistoia, the peasants think they can trace the form of a man in the leaves of the Mandrake, and of the
human face in the roots.-In Germany, since the time of the Goths, the word alruna has borne the double meaning of witch and Mandrake. Considering the roots to possess magical properties, the Germans formed from them little idols, to which they gave the name of Alrunen. These images were regularly habited every day, and consulted as oracles; their repute becoming very great, large numbers were manufactured and sold in cases: in this state they were brought over to this country during the reign of Henry VIII., and met with a ready sale. Fraudulent dealers used to replace the Mandrake-roots with those of the White Briony, cut to the shape of men and women, and dried in a hot sand bath.
-In France, under the names of Main de gloire or Maglore, the Mandrake became a species of elf; and, till the eighteenth century, there existed a wide-spread superstition among the peasantry connected therewith. Sainte-Palaye writes: “When I asked a peasant one day why he was gathering Mistletoe, he told me that at the foot of the Oaks on which the Mistletoe grew, he had a Mandrake (Main de gloire); that this Mandrake had lived in the earth from whence the Mistletoe sprang; that he was a kind of mole; that he who found him was obliged to give him food,---bread, meat, or some other nourishment; and that he who had once given him food was obliged to give it every day, and in the same quantity, without which the Mandrake would assuredly cause the forgetful one to die. Two of his countrymen, whom he named to me, had, he said, lost their lives; but, as a recompense, this Main de gloire returned on the morrow double what he had received the previous day. If one paid cash for the Main de gloire's food one day, one would find double the amount the following; and so with anything else. A certain countryman, whom he mentioned as still living, and who had become very rich, was believed to have owed his wealth to the fact that he had found one of these Mains de gloire.”
-The Chinese physicians assert that the Mandrake has the faculty of renovating exhausted constitutions.
MANGO.--The Indian mythologists relate that the daughter of the Sun, persecuted by a wicked enchantress, plunged into a pool, where she was transformed into a golden Lotus. The king became enamoured of the beautiful flower, so the enchantress burnt it; but from its ashes rose the Mango (Mangifera Indica). Then the king fell in love, first with the Mango-flower, and next with the fruit, which he ordered to be carefully preserved for his own use. At last, just as the fruit was ripe, it fell from the bough, and out of it issued the daughter of the Sun, whom the king, after having lost and forgotten, now recognised as his former wife.—The Indian poets are never tired of singing the praises of the Mango, the beauty of its flowers, and the sweetness of its fruit. The Indian Cupid Kamadeva is represented as having five arrows, each tipped with the blossom of a flower which pierce the heart through one of the five senses. A young maiden once plucked one of these blossoms, and offered it to the god, saying :
“God of the bow, who with Spring's choicest flowers
Some youthful heart that pines to be beloved.” Kamadeva accepted the offering, and tipped with the Mango-flower one of his darts, which, from that time, was known as the arrow of love, and is the god's favourite dart. Along with Sandalwood, the wood of the Mango is used by the Hindus in burning their dead. Among the Indian jugglers, the apparent production and growth of the Mango-tree is a performance executed in such a marvellous manner as to excite the astonishment of those who have most determined to discover how the illusion is effected.
MANNA.-Some naturalists consider that the Manna miraculously provided for the sustenance of the Children of Israel in the Desert was a species of Lichen—the Parmelia esculenta. Josephus, however, describes it as a kind of dew which fell, like honey in sweetness and pleasant taste, but like in its body to Bdellium, one of the sweet spices, but in bigness equal to Coriander-seed. The origin of the different species of Manna or sugary exudations which cover certain trees, has at all times been a subject of wonder, and for a long time it was thought that these saccharine tears, which appear so quickly, were simply deposits from the atmosphere. The Manna used in medicine is principally procured from the flowering Ash (Fraxinus ornus), which is cultivated for the purpose in Sicily and Calabria : the puncture of an insect of the cochineal family causes the sap to exude. The Manna of Mount Sinai is drawn from the Tamarisk by puncture of the coccus: it exudes in a thick syrup during the day, falls in drops, congeals in the night, and is gathered in the cool of the morning. The Larch-tree furnishes the Manna of Briançon. A sweet substance resembling Manna exudes from the leaves of the Eucalyptus resinifera, dries in the sun, and when the leaves are shaken by the wind, falls like a shower of snow. In some countries, even herbs are covered with an abundant sugary exudation similar to Manna. Bruce observed this in Abyssinia. Matthiolus relates that in some parts of Italy the Manna glues the grass of the meadows together in such a manner as to impede the mowers at their work. -Το dream of Manna denotes that you will be successful through life, and overcome all troubles.
MAPLE.-The wood of the Maple (Acer) was considered by Pliny to be, in point of elegance and firmness, next to the Citron itself. The veined knobs of old Maples, known as the bruscum and molluscum, were highly prized by the Romans, and of these curiously-marked woods were made the famous Tigrine and Pantherine tables, which were of such immense value, that when the Romans reproached their wives for their extravagance in jewels, they were wont to retort and (literally) “ turn the tables ” upon their husbands. Evelyn tells us, that such a table was that of Cicero, “which cost him 10,000 sesterces; such another had Asinius Gallus. That of King Juba was sold for 15.000; and yet that of the Mauritanian Ptolemy was far richer, containing four feet and a half diameter, three inches thick, which is reputed to have been sold for its weight in gold.”—-Some centuries ago, Maple-wood was in great request for bowls and trenchers. The unfortunate Fair Rosamond is reputed to have drunk her fatal draught of poison from a Maple bowl; and the mediæval drinking. vessels, known as mazers, were chiefly made of this material deriving their name from the Dutch Maeser, Maple.-On May-day, in Cornwall, the young men proceed, at daybreak, to the country, and strip the Maple (or Sycamore) trees—there called May-trees of all their young branches, to make whistles, and with these shrill musical instruments they enliven their way home with “ May music."-In Germany, the Maple is regarded with much superstitious reverence. There existed formerly, in Alsace, a curious belief that bats possessed the power of rendering the eggs of storks unfruitful. When once a stork's egg was touched by a bat, it became sterile; and so, in order to preserve it, the stork placed in its nest some branches of the Maple, and the wonderful power of this tree sufficed to frighten away every intruding bat.--De Gubernatis relates a Hungarian fairy tale, in which the Maple plays a conspicuous part. According to this legend, a king had three daughters, one of whom, a beautiful blonde, was in love with a shepherd, who charmed her with delightful music he produced from a Aute. One night, the king, the princess, and the shepherd, were disturbed by disquieting dreams. The king dreamt that his crown had lost its diamonds; the princess that she had visited her mother's tomb and was unable to get away from it; the shepherd that two fallow deer had devoured the best lamb in his flock. After this dream, the king called his three daughters to him, and announced to them that she who should first bring to him a basket of Strawberries should become his pet daughter, and inherit his crown and seven kingdoms. The three daughters hastened to a neighbouring hill to gather the Strawberries. There, setting down their baskets, each one in turn wished that her basket might be filled with fruit. The wishes of the two elder sisters were unheeded; but when it came to the blonde's turn, her wish was no sooner expressed, than her basket was filled with Strawberries. At this sight, the two sisters, mad with envy, fell upon the poor blonde, and slew her; then, having buried her under an old Maple-tree, they broke her basket in two, and divided the Strawberries between them. On their return to the palace, they told the king that their sister had been devoured by a fallow deer. On hearing this sad news, the unhappy