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gust and the fruit-smelling hand of October. Thou dividest them asunder, and 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 came. 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-palmed, 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 Solomon 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 marvelous 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 farm, 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 childhood, and very brilliant in our eyes. Its strong color, seen afar off, often provoked its
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 incarcerated, 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. As a 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
rious in beauty when efflorescent. Nor is it a beauty only at a distance and in the mass. Pluck down a twig, and examine as closely as you will : it will bear the nearest looking. The simplicity and purity of the white expanded flower, the half-open buds slightly blushed, the little pink-tipped buds unopen, crowding up together like rosy children around an elder brother or sister, — can any thing surpass it? Why, here is a cluster more beautiful than any you can make up artificially, even if you select from the whole garden. Wear this family of buds for my sake. It is all the better for being common. I love a flower that all may have, – that belongs to the whole, and not to a select and exclusive few. Common, forsooth! A flower can not be worn out by much looking at as a road is by much travel.
How one exhales, and feels his childhood coming back to him, when, emerging from the hard and hateful city-streets, he sees orchards and gardens in sheeted bloom, — plum, cherry, pear, peach, and apple, waves and billows of blossoms rolling over the hillsides, and down through the levels ! My heart runs riot. This is a kingdom of glory. The bees know it. Are the blossoms singing? or is all this humming sound the music of bees? The frivolous flies, that never seem to be thinking of any thing, are rather sober and solemn here. Such a sight is equal to a sunset, which is but a blossoming of the clouds.
We love to fancy that a flower is the point of transition at which a material thing touches the immaterial : it is the sentient, vegetable soul. We ascribe dispositions to it; we treat it as we would an innocent child. A stem or root has no suggestion of life. A leaf advances toward it; and some leaves are as fine as flowers, and have, moreover, a grace of motion seldom had by flowers. Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest, and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock. We find ourselves speaking of them as laughing, as gay and coquettish, as nodding and dancing. No man of sensibility ever spoke of a flower as he would of a fungus, a pebble, or a sponge. Indeed, they are more life-like than many animals. We commune with flowers; we go to them if we are sad or glad : but a toad, a worm, an insect, we repel, as if real life was not half so real as imaginary life. What a pity flowers can utter no sound! A singing rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle, — oh, what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be!
When we hear melodious sounds, — the wind among trees; the noise of a brook falling down into a deep, leaf-covered cavity; birds' notes, especially at night; children's voices as you ride into a village at dusk, far from your long-absent home, and