The wild Cherry (Cerasus), which occurs of two distinct kinds,

has by budding and grafting begotten most of our finest garden

fruits of its genus. The name Cerasus was derived from

Kerasous, a city of Cappadocia, where the fruit was plentiful.

According to Pliny, Cherries were first brought to Rome by

Lucullus after his great victory over Mithridates, 89 B.C. The

cultivated Cherry disappeared in this country during the

period, and was not re-introduced until the reign of Henry VIII.

The Cerasus sylvestris is a wild Cherry tree rising to the height

of thirty or forty feet, and producing innumerable small globose

fruits; whilst the Cerasus vulgaris, another wild Cherry, is a

mere shrub, called Cerevisier in France, of which the fruit is

sour and bitter. Cherry stones have been found in the primitive

lake dwellings of Western Switzerland. There is a tradition that

Christ gave a Cherry to St. Peter, admonishing him not to despise

little things. In the time of Charles the First, Herrick, the

clergyman poet, wrote a simple song, to which our well-known

pretty Cherry Ripe has been adapted:--

Cherry ripe! ripe! I cry,

Full and fair ones I come, and buy!

If so be you ask me where

They do grow: I answer there

Where my Julia's lips do smile,

There's the land: a cherry isle.

Cherries on the ryse (or, on twigs) was well known as a London

street cry in the fifteenth century; but these were probably the

fruit of the wild Cherry, or Gean tree. In France soup made from

Cherries, and taken with bread, is the common sustenance of the

wood cutters and charcoal burners of the forest during the [99]

winter. The French distil from Cherries a liqueur named Eau de

Cerises, or, in German, Kirschwasser; whilst the Italians

prepare from a Cherry called Marusca the liqueur noted as

Marasquin. Cherries termed as Mazzards are grown in Devon

and Cornwall, A gum exudes from the bark of the Cherry tree

which is equal in value to gum arabic. A caravan going from

Ethiopia to Egypt, says Husselquist, and a garrison of more than

two hundred men during a siege which lasted two months, were

kept alive with no other food than this gum, which they sucked

often and slowly. It is known chemically as cerasin, and differs

from gum acacia in being less soluble.

The leaves of the tree and the kernels of the fruit contain a basis

of prussic acid.

The American wild Cherry (Prunus virginiana) yields from its

bark a larger quantity of the prussic acid principle, which is

sedative to the nervous centres, and also some considerable tannin.

As an infusion, or syrup, or vegetable extract, it will allay nervous

palpitation of the heart, and will quiet the irritative hectic cough of

consumption, whilst tending to ameliorate the impaired digestion.

Its preparations can be readily had from our leading druggists, and

are found to be highly useful. A teaspoonful of the syrup, with one

or two tablespoonfuls of cold water, is a dose for an adult every

three or four hours. The oozing of the gum-tears from the trunk

and boughs is due to the operation of a minute parasitic fungus.

Helena, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, paints a charming

picture of the close affection between Hermia and herself--

So we grew together

Like to a double Cherry-seeming parted,

But yet a union in partition:

Two lovely berries moulded on one stem.