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forth, fearless of danger, long before the trees have ventured to unfold their leaves, even while the icicles are pendent on our houses.- Next peeps out the crocus, but cautiously, and with an air of timidity. She hears the howling blasts, and sculks close to her low situation. Afraid she seems to make large excursions from her root, while so many ruffian winds are abroad, and scouring along the æther.-Nor is the violet last in this shining embassy of the year. Which, with all the embellishments that would grace a royal garden, condescends to line our hedges, and grow at the feet of briars. Freely, and without any solicitation, she distributes the bounty of her emissive sweets; while herself, with an exemplary humility, retires from sight, seeking rather to administer pleasure, than to win admiration. Emblem, expressive emblem, of those modest virtues, which delight to bloom in obscurity; which extend a cheering influence to multitudes, who are scarce acquainted with the source of their comforts ! Motive, engaging motive, to that ever-active beneficence, which stays not for the importunity of the distressed, but anticipates their suit, and prevents them with the blessing of its goodness*!
The poor polyanthus, that lately adorned the border with their sparkling beauties, and transplanted into our windows, gave us a fresh entertainment, is now no more ;
I saw her complexion fade; I perceived her breath decay; till at length she expired, and dropt into her grave. -Scarce have we sustained their loss, but in comes the aricula, and more than retrieves it. Arrayed she comes, in a splendid variety of amiable forms, with an eye of crystal, and garments of the most glossy sattin, exhaling perfume, and powdered with silver. Scarce one among them but is dignified with the character of renown, or has the honour to represent some celebrated toast. But these also, notwithstanding their illustrious titles, have exhausted their whole stock of fragrance, and are mingled with the meanest dust.-—Who could forbear grieving at their departure, did not the tulips begin to raise themselves on their fine wands, or stately stalks? they flush the parterre with one of the gayest dresses that blooming nature wears. Here one may behold the innocent wantonness of beauty. Here she indulges a thousand freaks, and sports herself in the most charming diversity of colours. Yet I should wrong her, were I to call her a coquet; because she plays her lovely changes, not to enkindle dissolute affections, but to display her Creator's glory.--Soon arises the anemone, incircled at the bottom with a spreading robe, and rounded at the top into a beautiful dome. In its loosely flowing mantle you may observe a noble negligence; in its gently bending tufts, the nicest symmetry. I would term it the fine gentleman of the garden; because it seems to have learnt the singular address of uniting simplicity with refinement, of reconciling art and ease. The same month has the merit of producing the renunculus. All bold and graceful it expands the riches of its foliage, and acquires, by degrees, the loveliest enamel in the world. Methinks nature improves in her operations. Her latest strokes are most masterly. To crown the collection, she introduces the carnation, which captivates every eye with a noble spread of graces, and charms every sense with a profusion of exquisite odours. This single flower has centered in itself the perfection of all the preceding. The moment it appears, it so commands our attention, that we scarce regret the absence of the rest. The gilly-flower, like a real friend, attends you through all the vicissitudes and alterations of the season. While others make a transient visit only, this is rather an inhabitant, than a guest in your gardens; and adds fidelity to complaisance.
* See herein a picture of charity without ostentation, beauty without vanity, and merit without pride.
MONTMORENCY: A FRAGMENT.
THE sullen tolling of the curfew was heard over
the heath, and not a beam of light issued from the dreary villages ; the murmuring Cotter had extinguished his enlivening embers, and had shrunk in gloomy sadness to repose, when Henry De Montmorency and his two attendants rushed from the castle of A -y.
The night was wild and stormy, and the wind howled in a fearful manner. The moon flashed, as the , clouds passed from before her, on the silver armour of Montmorency, whose large and sable plume of feathers streamed threatening in the blast. They hurried rapidly on, and, arriving at the edge of a declivity, descended into a deep glen, the dreadful and savage appearance of which was sufficient to strike terror into the stoutest heart. It was narrow, and the rocks on each side, rising to a prodigious height, hung bellying over their heads; furiously along the bottom of the valley, turbulent and dashing against huge fragments of the rock, ran a dark and swoln torrent, and farther up the glen, down a precipice of near ninety feet, and roaring with tremendous strength, fell, at a single stroke, an awful and immense cascade. From the clefts and chasms of the crag, abrupt and stern the venerable oak threw his broad breadth of shade, and bending his gigantic arms athwart the stream, shed, driven by the wind, a multitude of leaves, while from the summits of the rock was heard the clamor of the falling fragments that, bounding from its rugged side, leapt with resistless fury on the vale beneath.
Montmorency and his attendants, intrepid as they were, felt the inquietude of apprehension; they stood
for some time in silent astonishment, but their ideas of danger from the conflict of the elements being at length alarming, they determined to proceed, when all instantly became dark, whilst the rushing of the storm, the roaring of the cascade, the shivering of the branches of the trees, and the dashing of the rock, assailed at once their sense of hearing. The moon, however, again darting from a cloud, they rode forward, and, following the course of the torrent, had advanced a considerable way, when the piercing shrieks of a person in distress arrested their speed; they stopped, and listening attentively, heard shrill, melancholy cries repeated, at intervals, up the glen, which gradually becoming more distant, grew faint, and died away. Montmorency, ever ready to relieve the oppressed, couched his lance, and bidding his followers prepare, was hasting on; but again their progress was impeded by the harrowing and stupendous clash of falling armour, which, reverberating from the various cavities around, seemed here and there, and from every direction, to be echoed with double violence, as if an hundred men in armour had in succession fallen down in different parts of the valley. Montmorency, having recovered from the consternation into which this singular noise had thrown him, undauntedly pursued his course, and presently discerned, by the light of the moon, the gleaming of a coat of mail. He immediately made up to the spot, where he found, laid along at the root of an aged oak, whose branches hung darkling over the torrent, a knight wounded and bleeding; his armour was of bur: nished steel, by his side there lay a falchion, and a sable shield embossed with studs of gold, and, dipping his casque into the stream, he was endeavouring to allay his thirst, but, through weakness from loss of blood, with difficulty got it to his mouth. Being questioned as to his misfortune, he shook his head, and, unable to speak, pointed with his hand down the glen; at the same moment the shrieks, which had formerly alarmed Montmorency and his attendants, were repeated, ap. parently at no great distance; and now every mark of horror was depicted on the pale and ghastly features of the dying knight; his black hair, dashed with gore, stood erect, and, stretching forth his hands towards the sound, he seemed struggling for speech, his agony became excessive, and, groaning, he dropped dead upon the earth.
The suddenness of this shocking event, the total ignorance of its cause, the uncouth scenery around, and the dismal wailings of distress, which still poured upon the ear with aggravated strength, left room for imagination to unfold its most hideous ideas; yet Montmorency, though astonished, lost not his fortitude and resolution, but determined, following the direction of the sound, to search for the place whence these terrible screams seemed to issue, and recommending his men to unsheath their swords, and maintain a strict guard, cautiously followed the windings of the glen, until, abruptly turning the corner of an out-jutting crag, they perceived two corses mangled in a frightful manner, and the glimmering of light appeared through some trees that
hung depending from a steep and dangerous part of the rock. Approaching a little nearer, the shrieks seemed evidently to proceed from that quarter, upon which, tying their horses to the branches of an oak, they ascended slowly and without any noise towards the light; but what was their amazement, when, by the pale glimpses of the moon, where the eye could penetrate through the intervening foliage, in a vast and yawning cavern, dimly lighted by a lamp suspended from its roof, they beheld half a dozen gigantic figures in ponderous iron armour; their vizors were up, and the lamp faintly gleaming on their features, displayed an unrelenting sternness capable of the most ruthless deeds. One who had the aspect and the garb of their leader, and who, waving his scimitar, seemed menacing the rest, held on his arm a massy shield of immense