Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/411

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GERARDE AND THE GERARDIAS.

GERARDE AND THE GERARDIAS: THE HERBALIST AND HIS NAMESAKES.
By MARTHA BOCKÉE FLINT.

ON shaded hillsides and in woodland glades there blooms through August, a stately plant, the most beautiful of a varied group which, as the genus Gerardia, perpetuates a name too little honored. Few men have done more for English botany than the "diligent and paineful apothecary," John Gerarde, some time gardener to Cecil, Lord Burleigh. It is just three hundred years since, in December, 1597, was published The Herball, or Generall Historic of Plantes Gathered by John Gerarde of London, Master in Chirurgerie. The second edition thereof, the only copy known to be in the city of New York, is "very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Johnson, Citizen and Apothecary," and bears the imprint "London, printed by Adam Islip, Joice Norton and Richard Whitaker, anno 1633." On the frontispiece of the thick folio is Gerarde's title, given, above, inscribed upon an oval supported by Corinthian columns, and bordered by six woodcuts. At the head of the page is represented the sun bursting through clouds, and on its disk is a triangle bearing a Hebrew legend; below are the words from Genesis: "Ecce dedi vohis omnes herhas semen tantes semen quæ sunt." In the upper corners are figures of Ceres and of Pomona, offering grains and fruits. At the left of the columns stands Theophrastus, a scroll in one hand, in the other flowers; at the right, Dioscorides holds an open book. Beneath the title is the portrait of Gerarde, supported on either side by vases heaped high with pyramidal masses of fruits and flowers. The face is the serious countenance of the sixteenth century: oval, with a pointed beard; a long, straight nose, well-arched eyebrows, and deep-set eyes, fixed, as if looking into the hidden mystery of life:

"Little flower, but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is."

It is a sad face, but with the serenity of a meditative mind. He wears the quilled ruff and the embroidered doublet of the period, and holds in his hand a spray—perhaps of wild rose. Here is not the exactness which marks Gerarde's own drawings.

The book is dedicated to "The right Honourable, his Singular good Lord and Master, Sir William Cecil," and is written from his "House at Holborn within the Suburbs of London, this first of December, 1597." Holborn—named from Old Bourne, a branch of the Fleet—was itself a rural region which then afforded a fair field