Fern Seed to Fiacre

Fern Seed We have the receipt of fern seed, we walk invisible (1 Henry IV., act iv. 4). The seed of certain species of fern is so small as to be invisible to the naked eye, and hence the plant was believed to confer invisibility on those who carried it about their person. It was at one time believed that plants have the power of imparting their own speciality to their wearer. Thus, the herb-dragon was said to cure the poison of serpents, the yellow celandine the jaundice; wood-sorrel, which has a heart-shaped leaf, to cheer the heart; liverwort to be good for the liver, and so on.

"Why did you think that you had Gyges' ring,
Or the herb that gives invisibility?"
Beaumont and Fletcher: Fair Maid of the Inn, i. 1.

"The seeds of fern, which, by prolific heat
Cheered and unfolded, form a plant so great,
Are less a thousand times than what the eye
Can unassisted by the tube descry."
Blackmore: Creation.
Fernando Florestan A state prisoner of Seville, married to Leonora, who, in man's disguise, and under the name of Fidelio, became the servant of Rocco, the jailor. Pizarro, governor of the prison, conceived a hatred to Fernando, and resolved to murder him. Rocco and Leonora were sent to dig his grave, and when Pizarro entered the dungeon, Leonora intercepted his purpose. At this juncture the minister of State arrived, and ordered the prisoner's release. (Beethoven: Fidelio.)

Ferney The patriarch of Ferney. Voltaire; so called because he retired to Ferney, a small sequestered village near Geneva, from which obscure retreat he poured forth his invectives against the French Government, the Church, nobles, nuns, priests, and indeed all classes.

"There are in Paris five or six statues of the patriarch of Ferney." - The Times.
Ferohers The guardian angels of Persian mythology. They are countless in number, and their chief tasks are for the well-being of man.

Ferracute [sharp iron ]. A giant in Turpin's Chronicle of Charlemagne. He had the strength of forty men, and was thirty-six feet high. Though no lance could pierce his hide, Orlando slew him by Divine interposition. (See Ferrau.)

Ferragus The giant of Portugal, who took Bellisant under his care after she had been divorced by Alexander, Emperor of Constantinople. (Valentine and Orson..)
   The great "Brazen Head," that told those who consulted it whatever they required to know, was kept in the castle of this giant. (Valentine and Orson. (See Ferrau.)

Ferrara An Andrew Ferrara. A broadsword or claymore of the best quality, bearing the name of Andrea Ferrara, one of the Italian family whose swords were famous in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Genuine "Andrea Ferraras" have a crown marked on the blade.
    My father had an Andrea Ferrara, which had been in the family about a century. It had a basket-hilt, and the name was distinctly stamped on the blade.

"We'll put in bail, boy, old Andrew Ferrara shall lodge his security." - Scott: Waverley, chap. 1.
Ferrau (in Orlando Furioso). Ferraute, Ferracute, or Ferragus, a Saracen, son of Lanfusa. He dropped his helmet in the river, and vowed he would never wear another till he had won that worn by Orlando. Orlando slew him with a wound in the navel, his only vulnerable part.

Ferrex and Porrex Two sons of Gorboduc, a mythical British king. Porrex drove his brother from Britain, and when Ferrex returned with an army he was slain, but Porrex was shortly after put to death by his mother. One of the first, if not the very first, historical play in the English language was Ferrex and Porrex, by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville.

Ferumbras (See Fierabras .)

Fescennine Verses Lampoons, so called from Fescennia in Tuscany, where performers at merry-makings used to extemporise scurrilous jests of a personal nature to amuse the audience.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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