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MHE history of sacred plants is always an interesting and

I instructive study; more so when it extends into a remote antiquity, and is associated with such great and advanced nations as those of Egypt and India. Much has been written and speculated concerning the Lotos of old authors; and great confusion has existed in many minds, on account of the desire to make all allusions and descriptions to harmonise with one ideal plant--the classic Lotos. At the outset of our remarks we must clearly intimate that it is impossible to combine all the fragments of history and description applied to some plant, or plants, known by the name of Lotos—and met with in the pages of Herodotus, Homer, Theophrastus, and others-into one harmonious whole, and apply them to a single mythical plant. It is manifest, from the authors themselves, that more than one Lotos is spoken of, and it was never intended to convey the notion that, like immortal Jove, the Lotos was one and indivisible. Starting, then, with the conviction that the one name has been applied to more than one or two very distinct and different plants, we shall have less difficulty than were we to attempt the futile task of reconciling all remarks about the Lotos to a single plant.

In the first instance, it is perfectly clear that the Lotos of Homer, which Ulysses discovered, and which is alluded to in the ninth book of the “ Odyssey," is quite distinct from any of the rest. It is the fruit of this tree to which interest attaches, and not to the flower, as in some others. For the sake of distinction, we shall speak of this as the “ arborescent Lotos," and attempt its identification.

The allusion to it by Homer will be more vividly present in the minds of readers than that of any other Lotos, since the story forms the basis of the “Lotos-eaters” of our own Tennyson. It is thus rendered by Pope :

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We touched, by various errors tossed,
The land of Lotos, and the flowery coast.
We climbed the beach, and springs of water found,
Then spread our hasty banquet on the ground.
Three men were sent, deputed from the crew,
(A herald one), the dubious coast to view,
And learn what habitants possessed the place.
They went, and found a hospitable race;
Not prone to ill, nor strange to foreign guest,
They eat, they drink, and Nature gives the feast;
The trees around them all their fruit produce;
Lotos the name ; divine nectareous juice!
(Thence called Lotophagi) which whoso tastes,
Insatiate riots in the sweet repasts,
Nor other home, nor other care intends,
But quits his house, his country, and his friends :
The three we sent, from off the enchanting ground
We dragged reluctant, and by force we bound:
The rest in haste forsook the pleasing shore,
Or, the charm tasted, had returned no more.

This tree, the fruit of which was eaten by the Lotophagi, is mentioned by Herodotus, Theophrastus, Polybius, Dioscorides, and Pliny, and from them we gather the following particulars. 6 Of the Lotos, this particular kind is of a considerable size, about as large as a pear-tree, or somewhat less, having a leaf serrated like that of the Quercus ilex. The wood is of a dark colour" (Theophrastus). “ The Lotus is a tree of no great height, rough and thorny, and bears a yellowish-green leaf, somewhat thicker and broader than that of the bramble” (Polybius). “The Lotos-tree is of a considerable size” (Dioscorides). “Of the size of a pear-tree, though Cornelius Nepos speaks of it as a shrub; the leaf is more serrated, otherwise it might be taken for the leaf of the evergreen oak” (Pliny). Virgil also includes it amongst trees. Hence we gather that it is a small, rough, thorny tree, with serrated leaves, and a dark wood, for Pliny adds, “the wood is of a black colour, and in request to make pipes to play upon.” So much for the tree, and now as to its fruit. “This fruit of the Lotos is in size about as large as that of the Lentiscus (mastic); in sweetness it is like the fruit of the palm-tree. From this fruit the Lotophagi also make wine” (Herodotus). “The fruit is like the bean (Egyptian bean, or Kyamos); as the grape, it changes colour as it ripens; but, like myrtle-berries, it is produced thick and close upon the shoots. It is eaten by those people called Lotophagi; it is innocent, of an agreeable sweetness, and good for the bowels. There is one kind which has no stone, and that is sweeter; of this wine is made. The army

of Ophellas, on his march to Carthage, being short of pro-
visions, is said to have subsisted for many days on this fruit”
(Theophrastus). “Its fruit at first is like white myrtle-berries,
both in size and colour, but when it ripens it turns to purple;
it is then about the bigness of an olive; it is round, and,
when ripe, has a small stone; it is gathered and bruised among
bread-corn, put into a vessel, and kept as food for the servants;
it is dressed after the same manner for the family, the kernel
being first taken out; it has the taste of a fig, or date, but a
far better scent. Wine is likewise made of it, by steeping, &c.
Vinegar is also made of it” (Polybius). “It bears a sweet
fruit larger than pepper” (Dioscorides). “Of this Lotos there
are many varieties, and the varieties are most conspicuous in
the fruit. This fruit is of the size of a bean, and of a saffron
colour, but before it is ripe it undergoes many changes, like
the grape. The fruit is produced in clusters, among branches,
like myrtle-berries, and not as cherries are with us in Italy.
The fruit affords so sweet a food that it has given name to a
people and a district. It is said that those who eat of it are
not subject to pains in the bowels. The better sort is without
stone, for there is one kind that has a bony nut. From the
fruit wine is also expressed” (Pliny). The whole of these
agree in describing a sweet pulpy fruit, of variable size, but
not larger than an olive, with a hard stone (and a stoneless
variety, from which wine is made). There is no allusion what-
ever to any peculiar effects resulting from the eating of this
fruit, of the kind indicated by Homer, so that this portion of
his story may be eliminated as poetical. It may be a beautiful
romance in the hands of our Laureate, to write of the “mild-
eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters,” and of the

Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each; but whoso did receive of them,
And taste, to him the gushing of the ware
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores ; and if his fellow spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deep asleep be seemed, yet all awake,
Aud music in his ears his beating heart did make.

We will accept the romance, and be thankful for the beautiful, even though it be romance, but the Lotos of the Lotophagi bore only a common-place sort of fruit which satisfied hunger, was sweet and pleasant, and could yield wine.

The next evidence to be adduced is that of modern travellers. First of these is Dr. Shaw, who states that the seedra of the Arabs “is a shrub very common in the Jereede, and other parts

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