By the city of Teustadt, in the kingdom of Vurtem-berg, there stood a linden-tree which* was antique in 1229, for it is written "that the city of Neustadt, then called Helmbundt, was-destroyed in 1226 and rebuilt in 1229, near the great linden." It was so well known that for centuries Germans spoke of Teustadt as " the city near the linden." A poem of 1408 describes it as standing near the gate, its branches propped by sixty-seven stone pillars. In 1664 these pillars were increased to eighty-two, and in 1832 to one hundred and six. In 1S32 the trunk, at the height of six feet from the ground, measured thirty-seven feet; and it was estimated in that year, when a terrible storm rendered it well-nigh a wreck, to be eight hundred years old.
There are oaks in England planted before the Norman conquest, 1066, and yew-trees still older; one at Fountain Abbey, Bipon, in Yorkshire, was said by Pennant to be twelve hundred years old; another, in a churchyard at Baburn, Kent, measured by Evelyn in 1660, was then two thousand eight hundred and eighty years old, making it three thousand years old if still standing.
In the Baider Yalley, near Balaklava, there stands a walnut-tree which, though twelve hundred years old, has not yet forgotten to be useful, but yields annually from eighty to one hundred thousand nuts. It belongs to five Tartar families, who annually divide the nuts between them.
The finest specimen of the celebrated banyan-tree of Ceylon is found at Mount Lavina, seven miles from Colombo. Two roads run through its stems; some of its fibrous shoots have been trained, like the stays of a ship, to intercept the road, while others hang half-way down, with beautiful vistas of cocoa-palms seen through its pillar-like stems and leaves. It throws a shadow at noon over four acres of ground.
Cedars are found on Mount Lebanon supposed to be the remains of those vast forests from which Solomon cut the timbers for the temple three thousand years ago. Maundrell counted sixteen still standing in 1696 that measured thirty feet, and were over one hundred feet in the spread of the branches.
The feathery cocoanut and the fan-like palmyra of the Deccan countries of India, the hardly less beautiful date-tree, useful for so many purposes that it seems as if a native Hindoo could scarcely get through life without it, are all trees of world-wide note, and many specimens of them are famous both for size and age. The date-tree, besides providing the inhabitants of its vicinity with almost everything used in their domestic economy, its fruit serving them as the chief article of food, the stems and leaves for baskets, mats, roof-covering, and carpet, is the source from which they imbibe their common drink," tara." Deep incisions being made in the trunk, a pleasant and abundant beverage exudes, both refreshing and invigorating if drank while fresh, but intoxicating if allowed to ferment by exposure to the tropical sun. The tara is much sought for when in the fermented state by the English soldiers, and causes many of the irregularities and crimes recorded of the troops in India. Indeed, it is said that a camp pitched near a " toddy tope," or date grove, is sure to be disorderly.
Among the trees having claim to historic fame, none are more worthily celebrated in our own country than the " Charter Oak " of Hartford, Connecticut, in which was concealed from British tyranny (1687) the charter of the colony for several years. And the " Treaty Elm," under which the good William Penn made his treaty with the Indians in 1682, and which stood upon the banks of the Delaware until the year 1827, when, in spite of the care taken to preserve it, it fell to the ground, and had a regenesis in the shape of canes, snuff-boxes, and drinking-cups.
The walnut-tree, originally called gaulinut, from having been introduced into England from France (ancient Gaul), was once considered by herbalists to be efficacious in all diseases of the head, as it bore the head signature (i. e., a resemblance to the head), the outer skin being the pericranium, the shell the skull, the kernel the brain.
At the end of the sixteenth century walnuts did more service than cannon-balls, as at the siege of Amiens by the Spanish during the opposition to the ascension of Henry Quatre to the French throne, a party of soldiers, dressed as French peasants, brought a cart-load of nuts to sell, and when admitted, as they passed through the gates let some of the nuts spill out, which the sentinels dispersed eagerly to gather up, and while stooping were set upon, killed, and the gates taken by the disguised peasants, who then admitted the Spanish army.
In ancient times the fig-tree was sacred to the gods. Its leaves were used for the crown of Saturn; its branches borne in procession at the feast of Plynteria, when the statue of Minerva was washed. In the Thargelia, or feast of the sun, they wore the fig, and played, on flutes, an ode to " The Fig-tree." The Romans honored it because Romulus and Remus were found under a fig-tree, and it was considered a type of friendship.
Paris has an elm-tree planted in 1605, the leaves of which are as early as those of younger trees.
The soap-plant of California is not only beautiful, but useful, the bulbs being preferred by those who use them to the finest quality of soap. There is another tree, found in South America, the bark of which is used as soap also.
The most beautiful tree of India and, it is said, of the world, called by the natives " Jonesia Asika," bears a red flower resembling the isora, of the most wonderful beauty and sweetness, while the denseness of its foliage is a marvel to behold. Another tree of India, the tamala, bears black blossoms of a most singular shape.
The mulberry, famous the world over, shall close this mere mention of celebrated tree-life. Since the Babylonian lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe, in despair of the " course of true love running smooth," imperilled the spotless white of the mulberry-blossom with their life-blood, this tree, with its dark-winged leaves, its sanguine-juiced fruit, has been sung by poets and lauded by scholars.
The Morea of Greece is named from its fancied resemblance to the shape of the mulberry-leaf. The Eev-erend F. Gastrel, of Stratford-on-Aron, has sent his name down to ignominious disgrace, having, in the year 1786, "wantonly and brutishly" cut down the favorite tree of Shakespeare, a mulberry planted by the poet's own hands.
The introduction of the mulberry into France for the food of the silkworm was bitterly opposed by the people, and only effected by the will of Henry IV., who foresaw the great wealth to be thus gained. There is a pretty Oriental proverb inculcating patience and hope, which says: " With time and patience each leaf of the mulberry becomes the softest silk."
The Wadsworth oak at Genesee, New Tork, is said to be five centuries old, and twenty-seven feet in circumference at the base. The massive, slow-growing live-oaks at Florida are worthy of notice on account of the enormous length of their branches. Bartram says: " I have stepped fifty paces in a straight line from the trunk of one of these trees to the extremity of the limbs." The oaks of Europe are among the grandest of trees. The Cowthrope tree is seventy-eight feet in circuit at the ground, and is at least eighteen hundred years old. Another in Dorsetshire is of equal age. In Westphalia is a hollow oak, which was a place of refuge in the troubled times of mediaeval history. The great oak at Saintes, in southern France, is ninety feet in girth, and has been ascertained to be two thousand years old. This monument still flourishes, or did recently, and commemorates a period which antedates the first campaign of Julius Caesar.
And the Lord God planted the trees of the fieldó " every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil," under the shadow of which Eve and Lucifer had that agreeable little intercourse from which came all this trouble and confusion.