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A History of the Cries of London by Hindley

The walnut is a native of Persia


[Illustration:

THE FLOWER-POT MAN.

Here comes the old mail with his flowers to sell, Along the streets merrily going; Full many a year I've remember'd him well, With, "Flowers, a-growing, a-blowing."

Geraniums in dresses of scarlet and green; Thick aloes, that blossom so rarely; The long creeping cereus with prickles so keen, Or primroses modest and early.

The myrtle dark green, and the jessamine pale, Sweet scented and gracefully flowing, This flower-man carries and offers for sale, "All flourishing, growing, and blowing."]

With the coming in of spring there is a large sale of Palm; on the Saturday preceding and on Palm Sunday; also of May, the fragrant flower of the hawthorn, and lilac in flower. But perhaps the pleasantest of all cries in early spring is that of "_Flowers--All a-growing--all a-blowing_," heard for the first time in the season. Their beauty and fragrance gladden the senses; and the first and unexpected sight of them may prompt hopes of the coming year, such as seem proper to the spring.

"Come, gentle spring! ethereal mildness! come."

The sale of English and Foreign nuts in London is enormous, the annual export from Tarragona alone is estimated at 10,000 tons. Of the various kinds, we may mention the "Spanish," the "Barcelona," the

"Brazil," the "Coker-nut," the "Chesnut," and "Though last, not least, in love"--The "Walnut!"

"As jealous as Ford, that search'd a hollow wall-nut for his wife's lemon."--_Merry Wives of Windsor._

The walnut-tree has long existed in England, and it is estimated that upwards of 50,000 bushels of walnuts are disposed of in the wholesale markets of the London district annually. Who is not pleased to hear every Autumn the familiar cry of:--

"Crack 'em and try 'em, before you buy 'em, Eight a-penny--All new walnuts Crack 'em and try 'em, before you buy 'em, A shilling a-hundred--All new-walnuts.

The history of the happy and social walnut involves some curious misconceptions. Take its name to begin with. Why walnut? What has this splendid, wide-spreading tree to do with walls, except such as are used as stepping-stones for the boys to climb up into the branches and steal the fruit? Nothing whatever! for, if we are to believe the learned in such matters, this fine old English tree, as it is sometimes called, is not an English tree at all, but a distinct and emphatic foreigner, and hence the derivation. The walnut is a native of Persia, and has been so named to distinguish the naturalised European from its companions, the hazel, the filbert, and the chesnut. In "the authorities" we are told that "gual" or "wall" means "strange" or "exotic," the same root being found in Welsh and kindred tongues; hence walnut. It is true, at any rate, that in France they retain the distinctive name "Noix Persique." There is another mistaken theory connected with the tree which bears a fruit so dear to society at large, for someone has been hazardous enough to assert that:--


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