Notes and Queries, Number 15, February 9, 1850 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 52 pages of information about Notes and Queries, Number 15, February 9, 1850.

While on this subject, I beg to put a query to your genealogical readers.  The double-headed eagle, the bordure bizantee, and the demilion charged with bezants, are all evident derivations from the armorial bearings of Richard, titular king of the Romans, Earl of Cornwall, &c., second son of King John.  The family of Killegrewe is of venerable antiquity in Cornwall.  What I wish to ascertain is, the nature of the connection between the family and that unfortunate “king.”  Was it one of consanguinity, or merely one of feudal dependence?


*** See, on the origin of the arms of Richard and their derivatives, my Curiosities of Heraldry, pp. 309. et seq.

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In common with the mistletoe and vervain the Druids held the Selago and Samolus as sacred plants, and never approached them but in the most devout and reverential manner.  When they were gathered for religious purposes the greatest care was taken lest they should fall to the earth, for it was an established principle of Druidism, that every thing that was sacred would be profaned if allowed to touch the ground; hence their solicitude to catch the anguinum: 

“------------------When they bear
Their wond’rous egg aloof in air: 
Thence before to earth it fall,
The Druid in his hallow’d pall
Receives the prize.”

Pliny, in his Natural History (lib. xxiv. cap. 11.) gives a circumstantial account of the ceremonies used by the Druids in gathering the Selago and Samolus, and of the uses to which they were applied:—­

“Similis berbae huie sabinae est Selago appellata.  Legitur sine ferro dextra manu per tunicam, qua sinistra exuitur velut a furante, candida veste vestito, pureque lotis nudis pedibus, saero facto priusquam legatur, pane vinoque.  Fertur in mappa nova.  Hanc contra omnem perniciem habendam prodidere Druidae Gallorum, et contra omnia oculorum vitia fumum ejus prodesse.
“Iidem Samolum herbam nominavere nascentem in humidis:  et hanc sinistra manu legi a jejunis contra morbos suum boumque, nec respicere legentem:  nec alibi quam in canali, deponere, ibique conterere poturis.”

From the very slight manner in which these plants are described by Pliny, it is next to impossible to identify them with any degree of certainty, though many attempts for the purpose have been made.  So far as I know, Pliny is the only ancient author who mentions them, and we have therefore nothing to guide us beyond what he has said in this passage.

The word Selago is supposed to be derived from se and lego, i.e. quid certo ritu seligeretur.  Linnaeus appropriated the name to a pretty genus of Cape plants, but which can have nothing whatever to do with the Selago of the Druids.  It has been thought to be the same as the Serratula Chamaepeuce of Linnaeus, but without sufficient reason, for Pliny says it resembles the savine; and Matthiolus, in his Commentary on Dioscorides, when speaking of the savine (Juniperus Sabina), says:—­

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Notes and Queries, Number 15, February 9, 1850 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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