The Wayside Inn
In a charming colonial New England Village, a coach and four would deliver its tired passengers to a wayside inn. Hungry guests were served hot food and hearty ale, then sent to sleep in a Thistle Bed.
The Thistle Bed
The original designer of the Thistle Bed is unknown, but a few hints as to its origins have been scattered along the way.
The tenacious Thistle plant grows in fields and thickets, blossoming in late summer and early fall. With its long taproots it is drought resistant. With its prickly barbs unpalatable to deer; yet, its purple cushioned flower welcomes bees and butterflies. Known as a Celtic symbol, it was adopted by the hardy Scots more than 700 years ago as a national symbol, a suitable symbol to accompany the Scottish motto:
“Nemo me impune lacessit”, “No one harms me without punishment”.
To strangers it says “tough.” To fellow Scots men it says welcome. To bawdy Scots, a metaphor for flowers and the bees, a flower that pricks, beauty and the beast.
Eighteenth century furniture designers like Chippendale, Sheraton, and Hepplewhite introduced ornate carving skills on four poster beds. Popular motifs included the colonial pineapple, a symbol of “welcome” and the Scottish thistle.
By the 19th century, British Arts and Crafts designer popularized the thistle in his wallpaper designs.
The Wayside Inn Thistle Bed
Today, Nichols and Stone presents the Wayside Inn Thistle Bed. It features a scrolled headboard with a rolled top rail. Thistle finials top the handcrafted solid cherry turned posts.
This bed is an enduring classic, like Oliver Goldsmith’s poem to an English country village:
Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheared the labouring swain,…
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topt the neighbouring hill,…
These round thy bowers their chearful influence shed,
These were thy charms—But all these charms are fled.
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant’s hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green…
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlour splendours of that festive place;
The white-washed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the door;
The chest contrived a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose;
The hearth, except when winter chill’d the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay…
And, even while fashion’s brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks, if this be joy.
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey
The rich man’s joys encrease, the poor’s decay,
‘Tis yours to judge, how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land…
But when those charms are past, for charms are frail,
When time advances, and when lovers fail,
She then shines forth, solicitous to bless,
In all the glaring impotence of dress.
Thus fares the land, by luxury betrayed:
In nature’s simplest charms at first arrayed;
But verging to decline, its splendours rise,
Its vistas strike, its palaces surprize;
While, scourged by famine from the smiling land,
The mournful peasant leads his humble band;
And while he sinks, without one arm to save,
The country blooms—a garden, and a grave.
Note. A shortened version of Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, The Deserted Village. Goldsmith’s Auburn is not a specific place, but an ideal, a small rural village now deserted. New England has its own Auburn. Auburn, New York lies at the north point of Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes District in Cayuga County. It flourishes.