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it. Wipe from thy brow the toil. The elements are thy servants. The dews bring thee jewels. The winds bring perfume. The Earth shows thee all her treasure. The forests sing to thee. The air is all sweetness, as if all the angels of God had gone through it, bearing spices homeward. The storms are but as flocks of mighty birds that spread their wings, and sing in the high heaven. Speak to God now, and say, “O Father! where art thou ?” and out of every flower and tree, and silver pool, and twined thicket, a voice will come,
6 God is in me." The earth cries to the heavens, “God is here !” and the heavens cry to the earth, “God is here!” The sea claims him. The land hath him. His footsteps are upon the deep. He sitteth upon the circle of the earth. O sunny joys of the sunny month, yet soft and temperate, how soon will the eager months that come burning from the equator scorch you!
7. July! Rouse up! The temperate heats that filled the air are raging forward to glow and overfill the earth with hotness. Must it be thus in every thing, that June shall rush toward August? Or is it not that there are deep and unreached places for whose sake the probing sun pierces down its glowing hands ? There is a deeper work than June can perform. The Earth shall drink of the heat before she knows her nature or her strength. Then shall she bring forth to the uttermost the treasures of her bosom; for there are things hidden far down, and the deep things of life are not known till the fire reveals them.
8. August! Reign, thou fire-month! What canst thou do? Neither shalt thou destroy the earth, whom frosts and ice could not destroy. The vines droop, the trees stagger, the broad-palmed leaves give thee their moisture, and hang down; but every night the dew pities them. Yet there are flowers that look thee in the eye, fierce Sun, all day long, and wink not. This is the rejoicing month for joyful insects. If our unselfish eye would behold it, it is the most populous and the happiest month. The herds plash in the sedge; fish seek the deeper pools; forest fowl lead out their young; the air is resonant of insect orchestras, each one carrying his part in Nature's grand harmony. August, thou art the ripeness of the year! Thou art the glowing center of the circle !
9. SEPTEMBER! There are thoughts in thy heart of death. Thou art doing a secret work, and heaping up treasures for an
The unborn infant-buds which thou art tending are more than all the living leaves. Thy robes are luxuriant, but worn with softened pride. More dear, less beautiful, than June, thou art the heart's month. Not till the heats of summer are gone, while all its growths remain, do we know the fullness of life. Thy hands are stretched out, and clasp the glowing palm of Au
gust and the fruit-smelling hand of October. Thou dividest them asunder, an.) art thyself molded of them both.
10. OCTOBER! Orchard of the year, bend thy boughs to the earth, redolent of glowing fruit! Ripened seeds shake in their pods. Apples drop in the stillest hours. Leaves begin to let go when no wind is out, and swing in long waverings to the earth, which they touch without sound, and lie looking up, till winds rake them, and heap them in fence-corners. When the gales come through the trees, the yellow leaves trail like sparks at night behind the flying engine. The woods are thinner, so that we can see the heavens plainer as we lie dreaming on the yet warm moss by the singing spring. The days are calm. The nights are tranquil. The Year's work is done. She walks in gorgeous apparel, looking upon her long labor; and her serene eye saith, “ It is good."
11. NOVEMBER! Patient watcher, thou art asking to lay down thy tasks.
Life to thee now is only a task accomplished. In the night-time thou liest down, and the messengers of winter deck thee with hoar-frosts for thy burial. The morning looks upon thy jewels, and they perish while it gazes. Wilt thou not come, o December?
12. DECEMBER! Silently the month advances. There is nothing to destroy, but much to bury. Bury, then, thou snow, that slumberously fallest through the still air, the hedge-rows of leaves! Muffle thy cold wool about the feet of shivering trees ! Bury all that the year hath known! and let thy brilliant stars, that never shine as they do in thy frostiest nights, behold the work! But know, O month of destruction ! that in thy constellation is set that Star, whose rising is the sign, for evermore, that there is life in death. Thou art the month of resurrection. In thee the Christ
Every star that looks down upon thy labor and toil of burial knows that all things shall come forth again. Storms shall sob themselves to sleep. Silence shall find a voice. Death shall live; Life shall rejoice; Winter shall break forth, and blossom into Spring; Spring shall put on her glorious apparel, and be called Summer. It is life, it is life, through the whole year!
A DISCOURSE OF FLOWERS.
HAPPY is the man that loves flowers ! — happy, even if it be a love adulterated with vanity and strife; for human passions nestle in flower-lovers too. Some employ their zeal chiefly in horticultural competitions, or in the ambition of floral shows. Others love flowers as curiosities, and search for novelties, for "sports," and vegetable monstrosities. We have been led through costly collections by men whose chief pleasure seemed to be in the effect which their treasures produced on others, not on themselves. Their love of flowers was only the love of being praised for having them. But there is a choice in vanities and ostentations. A contest of roses is better than of horses. We had rather be vain of the best tulip, dahlia, or ranunculus, than of the best shot. Of all fools, a floral fool deserves the eminence.
But, these aside, blessed be the man that really loves flowers ! — loves them for their own sakes, for their beauty, their associations, the joy they have given and always will give; so that he would sit down among them as friends and companions, if there was not another creature on earth to admire or praise them. But such men need no blessing of mine: they are blessed of God. Did he not make the world for such men ? Are they not clearly the owners of the world, and the richest of all men ?
It is the end of Art to inoculate men with the love of Nature. But those who have a passion for Nature in the natural way need no pictures nor galleries. Spring is their designer, and the whole year their artist.
He who only does not appreciate floral beauty is to be pitied like any
other man who is born imperfect. It is a misfortune not unlike blindness. But men who contemptuously reject flowers as effeminate, and unworthy of manhood, reveal a certain coarseness. Were flowers fit to eat or drink, were they stimulative of passions, or could they be gambled with like stocks and public consciences, they would take them up just where finer minds would drop them, who love them as revelations of God's sense of beauty, as addressed to the taste, and to something finer and deeper than taste, to that power within us which spiritualizes matter, and communes with God through his work, and not for their paltry market-value.
Many persons lose all enjoyment of many flowers by indulging false associations. There be some who think that no weed can be of interest as a flower. But all flowers are weeds where they grow wildly and abundantly; and somewhere our rarest flowers are somebody's commonest. Flowers growing in noisome places, in desolate corners, upon rubbish, or rank desolation, become disagreeable by association. Roadside flowers, ineradicable, and hardy beyond all discouragement, lose themselves from our sense of delicacy and protection. And, generally, there is a disposition to undervalue common flowers. There are few that will trouble themselves to examine minutely a blossom that they have seen and neglected from their childhood; and yet, if they would but question such flowers, and commune with them, they would often be surprised to find extreme beauty where it had long been overlooked.
If a plant be uncouth, it has no attractions to us simply because it has been brought from the ends of the earth, and is a great rarity;” if it has beauty, it is none the less, but a great deal more attractive to us because it is common. A very common flower adds generosity to beauty. It gives joy to the poor, the rude, and to the multitudes who could have no flowers were Nature to charge a price for her blossoms. Is a cloud less beautiful, or a sea, or a mountain, because often seen, or seen by millions ?
At any rate, while we lose no fondness for eminent and accomplished flowers, we are conscious of a growing respect for the floral democratic throng. There is, for instance, the mullein, of but little beauty in each floweret, but a brave plant, growing cheerfully and heartily out of abandoned soils, ruffling its root about with broad-palmeil, generous, velvet leaves, and erecting therefrom a towering spire that always inclines us to stop for a kindly look. This fine plant is left by most people, like a decayed old gentleman, to a good-natured pity; but in other countries it is a flower, and called the "American velvet-plant.”
We confess to a homely enthusiasm for clover, not the white clover, beloved of honey-bees, but the red clover, It holds up its round, ruddy face and honest head with such rustic innocence! Do you ever see it without thinking of a sound, sensible, country lass, sun-browned and fearless, as innocence always should be ? We go through a field of red clover like Soloinon in a garden of spices.
There is the burdock too, with its prickly rosettes, that has little beauty or value except (like some kind, brown, good-natured nurses) as an amusement to children, who manufacture baskets, houses, and various inarvelous utensils, of its burrs. The thistle is a prince. Let any man that has an eye for beauty take a view of the whole plant, and where will he see more expressive grace and symmetry ? and where is there a more kingly flower ? To be sure, there are sharp objections to it in a bouquet. Neither is it a safe neighbor to the firm, having a habit of scattering its seeds like a very heretic. But most gardeners feel toward a thistle as boys toward a snake; and farmers, with more reason, dread it like a plague. But it is just as beautiful as if it were a universal favorite.
What shall we say of mayweed, irreverently called dog-fennel by some ? Its acrid juice, its heavy, pungent odor, make it disagreeable; and, being disagreeable, its enormous Malthusian propensities to increase render it hateful to damsels of white stockings, compelled to walk through it on dewy mornings. Arise, O scythe! and devour it. The buttercup is a flower of our chililhood, and very brilliant
Its strong color, seen afąr off, often provoked its
in our eyes.
fate; for through the mowing-lot we went after it, regardless of orchard-grass and herd-grass, plucking down its long slender stems crowned with golden chalices, until the father, covetous of hay, shouted to us, “Out of that grass, out of that grass, you
The first thing that defies the frost in spring is the chickweed. It will open its floral eye, and look the thermometer in the face at thirty-two degrees. It leads out the snowdrop and crocus. Its blossom is diminutive: and no wonder; for it begins so early in the season, that it has little time to make much of itself. But, as a harbinger and herald, let it not be forgotten.
You can not forget, if you would, those golden kisses all over the cheeks of the meadow, queerly called dandelions.
There are many greenhouse-blossoms less pleasing to us than these; and we have reached through many a fence since we were incarceratel, like them, in a city, to .pluck one of these yellow flowerdrops. Their passing-away is more spiritual than their bloom. Nothing can be more airy and beautiful than the transparent seed-globe, - a fairy dome of splendid architecture.
As for marigolds, poppies, hollyhocks, and valorous sunflowers, we shall never have a garden without them, both for their own sake, and for the sake of old-fashioned folks who used to love them. Morning-glories, or, to call them by their city name, the convolvulus, need no praising: the vine, the leaf, the exquisite vase-formed flower, the delicate and various colors, will secure it from neglect while taste remains. Grape-blossoms and mignonnette do not appeal to the eye; and, if they were selfish, no man would care for them. Yet, because they pour their life out in fragrance, they are always loved; and, like homely people with noble hearts, they seem beautiful by association. Nothing that produces constant pleasure in us can fail to seem beautiful. We do not need to speak for that universal favorite, the rose. flower is the finest stroke of creation, so the rose is the happiest hit among flowers. Yet, in the feast of ever-blooming roses and of double roses, we are in danger of being perverted from a love of simplicity as manifested in the wild, single rose.
When a man can look upon the simple wild-rose, and feel no pleasure, his taste has been corrupted.
But we must not neglect the blossoms of fruit-trees. What a great heart an apple-tree must have ! What generous work it makes of blossoming! It is not content with a single bloom for each apple that is to be; but a profusion, a prodigality of blossom there must be. The tree is but a huge bouquet: it gives you twenty times as much as there is need for, and evidently because it loves to blossom. We will praise this virtuous tree, not beautiful in form, often clumpy, cragged, and rude; but it is glo