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Toy'd with his locks, look'd babies in his eyes.'

Heywood, Love's Mistress, p. 8 (1636).

' Can ye look babies, sister,
In the young gallant's eyes ? '

Beaumont and Fletcher, Loyal Subject, ui. 2.

' When I look babies in thine eyes,
Here Venus, there Adonis lies.'

Cleveland, On, a Hermaphrodite, p. 19.

1 Liddell and Scott (Lexicon) are certainly wrong in giving a re-
versed order of meaning. Pictet suggests a connection between
yXrjvri and 7aXcbs, glos, &c. (Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. ii. p. 375).

2 A little girl, also the sight of the eye (Vieyra, s.v.)


1 78 pupil.

As might be expected, the expression occurs fre-
quently in Herrick's Anacreontic lyrics, e.g. —

' You blame me too, because I cann't devise
Some sport, to please those babies in your eyes.'

Hesperides (ed. Hazlitt), vol. i. p. 12.

1 It is an active flame, that flies
First to the babies of the eyes.'

Ibid.,]). 138.

v . ' Cleere are her eyes,

Like purest skies.
Discovering from thence

A babie there

That turns each sphere
Like an intelligence.' Ibid., p. 207.

Pope has it also in his imitation of Cowley —

1 The Baby in that sunny Sphere
So like a Phaethon appears,
That Heav'n, the threaten'd World to spare,
Thought fit to drown him in her tears,' —

the sphere, it must be understood, being Celia's eye.
In order to ' see babies ' thus in each other's
eyes, the two faces must be in such close proximity
that the phrase virtually came to mean kissing
and embracing.

' No more fool,
To look gay babies in your eyes, young Koland,
And hang about your pretty neck.'

Beaumont and Fletcher, The Woman's Prize, v. 1.

'They may then kiss and coll, lye and look babies in
one another's eys.'

Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Part III., sec. 2,
mem. 6, subs. v.

pupil. 179

1 We will ga to the Dawnes and slubber up a sillibub, and I
will looke babies in your eyes.' 1

Braithwaite, Two Lancashire Lovers (1640), p. 19.

' He that daily spies
Twin babies in his Mistress' Gemini's.'

Quarles, Emblems, Bk. II. 4.

Drayton further improves the idea and makes
the ' babies ' Cupids —

1 While in their chrystal eyes he doth for Cupids look.'

Polyolbion, song xi.

In an ancient Irish Glossary edited by Whitley
Stokes for the Irish Archaeological Society (p. 45),
we meet the curious term, mac imresan (apparently
6 son of exceeding brightness,' ' son of the eye ' ?)
to denote the ' pupil.'

A form of expression strikingly similar occurs
in the Hebrew of Psalm xvii. 8, where the t apple
of the eye ' is styled in the original < the pupil,
daughter of the eye ' {Bath ay in)? A very bold
figure of speech, though it does not appear in our

1 Quoted in Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. iii. p. 47.

2 Generally, in the languages of the East, as is well known, what-
ever springs from, or is intimately connected with, anything else is
called its son or daughter, e.g., ' the daughters of a tree ' (Gen. xlix.
22) are its branches; ' sons of the quiver' (Lam. iii. 13), i.e., arrows,
cf. ' sons of the bow ' (Job xli. 28) ; ' sons of lightning ' (Job v. 7),
sparks, or more probably ' swift birds ; ' ' the firstborn of death '
(Job xviii. 13), i.e., a most deadly malady ; (Arab.) 'daughter of
death,' i.e., a fatal fever; (Arab.) 'daughters of howling,' i.e., jackals;
so 'Boanerges,'' 'sons of thunder,' i.e., men of fiery zeal; 'sons
of Belial' or 'of worthlessness ' (1 Sam. ii. 12), i.e., worthless
fellows; 'son of perdition' (John xvii. 12), i.e., one utterly lost ;
cf. ' mother of the way ' (Ezek. xxi. 21), i.e., a road whence others
spring, the parting of the . way ; niatres lectionis (mothers of the


English version, results from trie use of this
Hebrew term for pupil (iskon) in Proverbs vii. 9,
where a young man is represented as passing
through the street ' in the pupil of the night,' i.e.,
in the central darkness of it, in the midnight hour,
when the gloom is deepest — ' the dead waste and
middle of the night.' In like manner we speak
of the ' eye of the wind,' the 6 eye of the furnace,'
meaning the most central and intensest part of it.
This expression in Proverbs may remind us of the
very poetical phrase for daybreak employed by Job
(iii. 9, and xli. 18), 6 the eyelids of the morning, 1
the Dawn being conceived to raise her eyelids after

reading), i.e., the vowel letters, which serve as guides in reading.
Exactly similar is the Irish idiom, e.g., mac alia (the son of the rock),
is the highly poetical term for an echo, as it were the sound springing
from the rock ; cf. the Jewish Bath-kol, 'daughter of a voice,' i.e.,
an echo, ' the original sound being viewed as the mother, and the
reverberation, or secondary sound, as the daughter ' (De Quincey).
So Milton calls Echo the 'daughter of the sphere' (Comus, 241).
'Born of a great cry' (Tennyson, Holy Grail, p. 157, ed. 1870).
Mac-leabhair, 'son of a book,' i.e., a copy of it; macratha, 'son
of prosperity,' i.e., a prosperous man; macstroigh, 'son of prodigality,'
i.e., a spendthrift. Hence it would appear that the slang phrases
' the father of a beating,' ' the mother of a shower,' ' son of a
gun,' in form at least, are Hebraisms. Vide Harmer, Observations,
iv. 207.

1 This figure was adopted by the old dramatist Middleton in his
* Game of Chess,' and by Milton iu his ' Lycidas ' —

' Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Under the opening eyelids of the morn,
We drove afield.' 25-27.

With c pupil of the night ' we may compare the similar Shaks-
perian phrases ' dark-eyed night ' (Lear, ii. 1), ' black-browed night '
(Midsummer-Night's Dream, iii. 2).

' Why here walk I in the Hack brow of night
To find you out.' King John, v. 6.

TOE. 181

the slumber of the night, and to dart forth her
beaming glances in the first rays of the rising sun.

* Pupil ' was still imperfectly naturalised in 1658,
when Sir Thomas Browne writes the word ' pu-
pilla ' (Garden of Cyrus). The older words were
' eye-ring ' (A.-Sax. edg-ring), and ' eye-apple '
(A.-Sax. edg-aeppel) ; ' pupilla, happulle ' (Gloss.
14th cent.)

6 Toe.' — If we set down side by side the words
for c toe ' and for ' twig ' respectively in the Teu-
tonic languages, we are at once struck by the
family likeness they bear to each other —

Toe. Twig or Branch.

A.-Sax. ta (pi. tan). tdn.

Dut. teen. teen.

L. Dut. taan (Goth.) tains, (0. Eng.) tein.
0. Norse ta. teinn.

Now there is no doubt whatever that the -toe in
mistle-toe means twig, (A.-Sax.) mistel-tan, (0.
Norse) mistil-teinn {i.e., mistle-twig) ; and it
would appear that our Teutonic ancestors, being
endowed with a lively imagination, saw some re-
semblance to twigs or offshoots in the branching
termination of the hand and foot, and called both
by the same name, tan or toes. In Icelandic, il is
the sole of the foot, and il-kvister, c sole-twigs/ il-
thorn, l sole-thorns,' are poetical terms for the toes.
We may compare the Sanskrit word pani-pallava,
< a finger,' literally < a hand-twig.' Similarly, the

182 TOE.

Greek poet Hesiod calls the hand c a five-brancher,'
or ' five-twigged ' (7reWo£b9), and so our own
Shakspere, reversing the figure, speaks of ' the
Larky fingers of the elm ' ( Midsummer-Night's
Dream, iv. I). 1 The Romans had the one word,
planta, for a shoot or twig and the foot, in later
times especially the sole of it.

Palets, the word for finger in Russian, has been
regarded, and no doubt correctly, as another form
of palka, a stick, palitsa, a club, and so descrip-
tive of a finger or toe, ' as one of the twigs into
which the hand or foot branches.' 2 We may per-
haps compare the Latin palus, a stake or pale,
and pollex, the thumb, toe, or finger, a word which
was also used for a twig. Malchik-s-palchik, l the
finger-long mannikin,' or Tom Thumb of Slavonic
folk-lore, received his name from having sprung
from his mother's little finger (palckik, a diminu-
tive of palets), which she chopped off in slicing

When Herrick sustained the loss of a finger,
he moralised over his misfortune in language as

1 Sans, -pancha^dhha, * the five-branched,' is a name for the hand.
So the Persian penjth (the hand), connected with the Sans, pancha
(five), is equivalent to the slang English expression, a man's ' fives,'
or ' bunch of fives.' The game of ' fives ' is so called because the ball
is struck with the open hand (Tylor, Prim. Culture, vol. i. p. 235).

2 Saturday Review, vol. xxxix. p. 632. Pictet observes that
palka, palitsa, Welsh palis, Lat. palus, all had the primitive meaning
of ' branch.' He suggests a Sanskrit form pallaTca, synonymous with
paliava, a branch (Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. li>9).


quaintly characteristic as usual, adopting the same
mode of expression —

1 One of the five straight branches of my hand
Is lopt already ; and the rest but stand
Expecting when to fall : which soon will be ;
First dyes the leafe, the bough next, next the tree.'

Hesperides (ed. Hazlitt), vol. i. p. 218.

To us unimaginative moderns, the comparison
of the body with its members to a tree and its
branches may seem a fanciful and farfetched
conceit. 1 We may feel inclined to smile with won-
der at the ocular hallucination of those word-
makers who, like the newly-healed of Bethsaida,
could see 6 men as trees, walking ; ' or at most, it is
only in ( the idle moods ' of conscious poetry that

1 We seem to see
A human touch about a tree, 7

yet it is certain that bygone generations were

strongly impressed by that resemblance.

f In the construction of each/ says Jones of Nayland, ' there
are some general principles which very obviously connect
them. It is literally, as well as metaphorically, true that
trees have limbs, and an animal body branches. A vascular
system is also common to both, in the channels of which
life is maintained and circulated. When the trachea, with
its branches in the lungs, or the veins and arteries, or the
nerves, are separately represented, we have the figure of a tree.
The leaves of trees have a fibrous and fleshy part ; their bark
is a covering which answers to the skin in animals.' 2

1 ' For who ever saw
A man of leaves, a reasonable tree ?' Giles Fletcher.

2 Quoted in Southey's 'Doctor,' p. 581. Cf. Milton's 'corporal
rind' (= skin). Comus.


And so says that quaint divine who has been
styled the Shakspere of the Puritans, in his ser-
mon entitled ' Mystical Bedlam ' —

* The heart in man is like the root in a tree ; the organ or
lung-pipe that comes of the left cell of the heart is like the
stock of the tree, which divides itself into two parts, and thence
spreads abroad as it were sprays and boughs into all the
body, even to the arteries of the head.'

Thos. Adams, Works, vol. i. p. 258.

If all that the old traveller Evlia asserts be true,
it is nothing surprising that the arboreal frame
should, in certain respects, resemble ours, inasmuch
as we spring from a common origin, and must own
their kinship. The palm-tree, it appears, was
created from the remainder of the clay out of
which Adam was made. { This is said to be the
cause why the palm-trees are straight and upright
like the stature of man. If you cut its branches,
it not only does no harm to it, but grows even
more, like the hair and beard of men : but if you
cut off the head of the palm-tree, it gives a red-
dish juice like blood, and the tree perishes like a
man whose head is cut off. The palm-trees are also
male and female,' and have certain peculiarities
of constitution, which he mentions, quite human
in their character —

* From the same clay God created also the tree Wakwak,
found in India, the fruit of which resembles the head of
man, which, shaken by the wind, admits the sound of Wak-
wak' (vol. iv.) Quoted in Southey, G.-P. Book, vol. ii.p. 434.


Accordingly, Alfieri styles man c lapianta umana.'
There is a very curious and interesting passage
in the religious poem called ' The Pricke of Con-
science/ written by Eichard Kolle, a monk of
Hampole, near Doncaster, about 1340, in which he
works out in detail the various points of likeness
between man and a tree. Quoting from 'the
grete clerk Innocent,' he says —

1 What es man in shap bot a tre
Turned up that es doun, als men may se,
Of whilk (which) the rotes (roots) that of it springes,
Er (are) the hares (hairs) that on the heved (head) hynges

(hangs) ;
The stok nest (next) the rot (root) growand (growing)
Es (is) the heved (head) with neck followand (following) ;
The body of that tre thar-by
Es the brest with the bely ;

The bughes (boughs) er the armes with the handes
And the legges with the fete (feet) that standes :
The braunches men may by skille call
The tas (toes) and the fyngers alle.' LI. 672-683.

with a good deal more to the same purpose.
In the last lines, it will be observed, we have ex-
actly what we want — the toes identified with the
branches. Andrew Marvell must have had the
same idea in his mind when he wrote, in his poem
' On Appleton House ' —

1 Turn me but, and yon shall see
I was but an inverted tree! x

1 Compare chesne fourchu (Rabelais), the attitude of standing on
the head, and Varbre fourchu, infra, p. 189.

The Persian punishment of burying criminals alive up to the


But indeed this grotesque notion of man being
only a tree turned upside down, with the fibres
of the roots on his head for hair, his body being
the trunk, his arms and legs the branches, and
his fingers and toes the twigs, is one of the
highest antiquity. It appears first in the Vedas,
which date back at least 1000 years B.C.

' Man is indeed like a lofty tree : his hairs are the leaves,
and his skin the cuticle. From his skin flows blood, like
juice from bark ; it issues from his wounded person, as juice
from a stricken tree. His flesh is the inner bark ; and the
membrane near the bones is the white substance of the wood. 1
The bones within are the wood itself, and marrow and pith
are alike. If, then, a felled tree spring anew from the root,
from what root does mortal man grow again when hewn
down by death ? Do not say from prolific seed ; for that
is produced from the living person. Thus a tree, indeed,
also springs from seed ; and likewise sprouts afresh [from
the root] after [seemingly] dying ; but if the tree be torn
up by the root, it does not grow again. From what root
then does mortal man rise afresh when hewn down by
death?' 2

The Vedas, or the Sacred Writing of the Hindus.
Colebrooke, Essays, vol. i. p. 63.

The comparison is to be found also in Plato, in
Eabelais, in Novalis, Antonio Perez, Letrado

neck goes by the name of 'tree-planting.' Herodotus mentions
that Cambyses inflicted it upon twelve of the noblest Persians (Bk.
III. ch. xxxv.)

' I must decidedly plant a tree in my garden,' was the significant
hint given by another monarch to a courtier who had offended him
(Rawlinson, in loc.)

1 Snava and hindta, answering to the 'periosteum and alburnum.

2 Cf. Jobxiv. 7-i0.


del Cielo, and Olivia Sabuco (vide Southey's
< Doctor,' pp. 581-583).

' L'homme est un arbre renverse'/ says an old
French adage, quoted by Genin (Recreations
Philologiques, vol. ii. p. 243). And so Taylor,
the Water Poet —

' I a wise man's sayings must approve
Man is a tree, whose root doth grow above.'

The last quotation I will make is this from Pur-

chas's ' Microcosmus, or 'Historie of Man' (1619) —

'Thus wee are Trees (not onelyin that naturall unlike like-
nesse, whereby Man is said to be Arbor inversa, a Tree with
Root upwards, because Sense and Motion are from the head),
nor Trees good for meat, but Trees which bring not forth good
fruit, like the fruitlesse accursed Figge-tree ; yea, evill Trees,
which bring forth evill Fruit ' (p. 340).

Other instances of the body and its members
being called by names derived from the corres-
ponding parts of a plant or tree are the following : —

' Corpse,' formerly used of a living body quite
as much as of a dead, Lat. corpus, is ultimately
traceable to korpos, the iEolic form of kormos, the
Greek word for the trunk of a tree. The Coptic
kaf, 6 body ' (Egyptian hieroglyphics kef), likewise
denotes the ' trunk of a tree.' 1

6 Belly ' is the Welsh bol, holy, Icel. bolr, ori-
ginally the bole or round part of a tree.

6 Buck,' a provincial English word for the breast

1 Osburn, Monumental History of Egypt, vol. i. p. 288.


or belly, 0. Eng. bouhe, Ger. bauch, is the A.-Sax.
buce, Icel. biikr, the trunk or body of an animal,
said to be another form of butr, a log or trunk of
a tree. ' Bulk,' which seems formerly to have
denoted the chest, may be the same word. Florio,
in his 'New World of Words' (1611), defines
Epigastric* to be i all the outward part of the belly
from the bulke ' downwards.

' Leg ' is the Old Norse leggr, a stalk or stem.
So in Irish lorga denotes the stalk of a plant as
well as the leg ; in Manx lurgey is the shin or
shank, and lorg a stick or staff. Ger. bein, Dut.
been j Icel. bein, the leg, our ' bone,' A.-Sax. ban, is
connected with the Welsh bon, a stem, stock, or
trunk, A.-Sax. bune, a reed or pipe. Similarly, the
Sanskrit nala is a reed, nalaka a bone ; Hebrew
kane/i, a reed or stalk, also the arm-bone. The
Italian cannella has an exactly similar bifurcation
of meaning. Compare the German roJirbein,

The Arabic sdk signifies the leg as well as the
stem, stalk, or stock of a tree. The Persian term is
shack, a branch, Sanskrit cdkhd, a branch, an arm.

The Polish reka, the hand, Slav, rdka, Lith.
ranka, the arm and hand, is connected by Pictet
with the German ranke, a twig or vine-branch,
Sans, lanka, a branch, and more remotely with
the Latin lancea, Irish lang}

1 Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. 198.


The ' groin/ or, as it was sometimes spelt for-
merly, the \ grine,' denotes that part of the body
where it bifurcates or branches off into the legs,
Fr. fourchure, and is identical with the north-
country word grain, the branch of a tree, 0. Norse
grein, Swed. gren, Dan. green, a bough, literally
' that which separates from the tree ' (0. Norse
greina, to separate). In the Cleveland dialect,
graining is the fork or division of a tree into
branches ; in the Swedish dialects, gren, grajn, is
the fork made by two shoots of a tree, or by the
thighs, greinar, the two thighs with the angle
between them (Atkinson). What ' a poor, bare,
forked animal,' exclaimed Lear, is < unaccommo-
dated man,' i.e., man without his clothes (act iii.
sc. 4). Compare ' Varbre fourchu, a standing on
the hands with out-stretcht legs ' (Cotgrave), and
chesne fourchu in Kabelais, the attitude of stand-
ing on the head. M. Michel informs us that it
was once customary in the slang phraseology of
the Continent to call a man's body a tree — 6 Dans
l'ancienne Germania arbol, qui signifie arbre en
castillan, avait le sens de cuerpo (corps).' — i£tude
sur 1' Argot, s.v. Chene.

Synonymous with < groin ' is the old term
' twist,' and this also denoted a bough, originally
the fork in a branch. Cf —

1 He slepit as foul on twist.'

Barbour's Bruce, Bk. VII. 1. 188.


By the converse process the different parts of a
tree were often compared to human limbs. We
have seen already how Shakspere calls the twigs
of the elm its * barky fingers.' 1 * Branch,' origin-
ally ' an arm,' is connected with ' brace,'' Lat.
brachium, an arm (Wedgwood). Thus the French
name Male-branche is explained to be of like signi-
fication with Malemeyn, ' Badhand ' or ■ Mainied-
hand.' 2 Cf. ' limb,' A.-S. lim, 0. N. Urn, a branch.

< Bough/ (A.-Sax.) bog, boh, meant originally
1 an arm ;' cf. elbow, (A.-Sax.) elboga.

In Sanskrit tola not only denotes the palm-
tree, but the open hand with fingers extended, the
palm, while talangule is the toe.

(Heb.) kapk, a palm-branch, was originally the
palm or hollow of the hand. Similarly, the

' Palm'- (tree) was so called * because the leaves
are like a hand opened wide,' (Lat). jpalma, (Gk.)
TraXdjirj, and its fruit in like manner was called

< Date/ (Fr.) clatte, (0. Fr.) dacte, (Sp.) datil,
from its resemblance to a finger, (Lat.) dactylus, 3
(Gk.) SdfcrvXos. Cotgrave gives also ' Bactyle, the

1 Sir John Sinclair mentions a disease that carrots are subject to,
called ' Fingers and Toes.' I do not know the nature of it, but
suppose it is a tendency to degenerate into dactyloid excrescences
(Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 301 j. ' Deadman's fingers ' is the popular
name of the orchis mascula, from the handlike shape of its pale-
coloured tubers.

s Bardsley, English Surnames, p. 386.

3 The Dutch tak, a twig, perhaps represents the dak of the Greek
ddk-tulos, (Lat.) dig-itus, a finger or toe.


Date-grape or Finger- grape.'' And to conclude
with an instance from the Latin, coma (the hair)
is often used poetically for the leaves or foliage of

So Spenser, in the i Shepheards Calender '
(Februarie), speaks of a goodly oak

* With amies full strong and largely display d,'
' The bodie bigge, and mightely pight ; '

and describes it in its age as one that

' Oft his hoarie lochs down doth cast.'

I may remark that in the ancient proverbial
saying which I have given above, ' L'homme est
un arbre renverse,' the meaning seems to have
been c the mouth, which in man is in the head, in
the tree is in the foot,' i.e., its roots (' Porque
las raices en el arbol son la boca en el hombre,'
Hernan Nunez, 1555, from whom Genin quotes
it). Aristotle has the same idea (al Se pit,ai t&>
(tto/jlcltl avaXoyov k. t. X.) And in Sanskrit we
meet the word anghri-pa for a tree, literally l drink-
ing with the foot.' The poet Carew, on the other
hand, speaking metaphorically of his mistress,
calls her foot

1 The precious root
On which the goodly cedar grows.'

I might add that in Isaiah lxvi. 14, 6 Your
bones shall nourish (sprout, or branch forth) like
an herb,' if we accept Hitzig's interpretation of


the passage, the human frame is likened to a tree,

of which the bones are the branches, and the

muscles, flesh, and skin, the leaves. 1

The above use of words whereby the frame of

man is structurally assimilated to that of a tree

must not be confounded with another use, which i3

equally common, whereby he is merely figuratively

compared in respect of his growth and natural

descent to a shoot or branch springing from the main

trunk. In the Scriptures offspring is frequently

styled a rod, a stem, a branch ; and we still use

such phrases as a ' sprig of fashion,' * the scion of

a noble house.'

1 Thy father, had he lived this day,
To see the brauncke of his bodie displaie,
How would he have joyed at this sweete sight ! " —

says the Goat to her Son in the ' Shepheards Calen-
der ' (Maye).

1 From the resemblance of the double root of the mandrake, or
mandragora, to the shape of the ' poor, bare, forked animal ' man,
it was called anthropomorphon by Pythagoras, and semikomo by
Columella. The Chinese name for it is jin-seng, * resemblance of
man,' and the Iroquois dbesoutchenza, 'a child.' Hence, according
to the doctrine of signatures, arose the widely-spread superstitious
notion that the mandrake was efficacious in promoting the procrea-
tion of children, which prevails among the Oriental nations, the
Chinese, and the North American Indians, and led Rachel of old to
long for this plant when as yet she had no child (Gen. xxx. 14). So
striking is the form, that ' fraudulent dealers usually replaced its
roots with those of the white bryony cut to the shape of men and
women, and dried in a hot sand-bath ' (Prior, Popular Names of
Plants, p. 143). Vide also Browne's ■ Popular Errors, 'Bk. II. ch. 6;
Smith, B. Diet. s.v. ; Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 123 ;
Gerard's Herbal, p. 281 (1597).


Other instances of this use of words are the
following : —

6 Imp,' formerly applied to a child or offspring
generally, is the Welsh imp, impyn, a scion,
shoot, Ger. impfen, A. -Sax. impan, to graft. Com-
pare Fr. c peton, the slender stalk of a leaf or
fruit ; mon peton, my pretty springall, my gentle
imp ' (Cotgrave).

' An angel's trumpe from heauen proclaimed his name
Iesus, who came lost Adam's impes to saue.'

England's Welcome to James (1603).

Spanish chaborra, a young maiden, chahasca, a
twig or rod, both from Lat. clava, a graft (Diez).

A ' gallant/ Scot, callan, callant, a youth, Irish

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Online LibraryAbram Smythe PalmerLeaves from a word-hunter's note-book → online text (page 12 of 21)