« PreviousContinue »
faculties in the several processes of analysis and arrangement, of reasoning and of composition.
A Poet's Address to his Youngest Daughter.-Hogg,
CHILD of my age, and dearest love !
Come, look not sad ; though sorrow now
The Blessed Spirits.-JAMES MONTGOMERY.
Palms of glory, raiment bright,
Crowns that never fade away, Gird and deck the saints in light,
Priests and kings and conquerors they.
Yet the conquerors bring their palms
To the Lamb amidst the throne, And proclaim, in joyful psalms,
Victory through his cross alone.
Kings their crowns for harps resign,
Crying, as they strike the chords, “Take the kingdom—it is thine,
King of kings, and Lord of lords."
Round the altar priests confess,
If their robes are white as snow, Twas the Saviour's righteousness,
And his blood, that made them so.
Who were these ? On earth they dwelt,
Sinners once of Adam's race; Guilt, and fear, and suffering felt,
But were saved from all by grace.
They were mortal, too, like us ;
Ah! when we like them shall die, May our souls, translated thus,
Triumph, reign and shine on high.
The return of May again brings over us a living sense of the loveliness and the delightfulness of flowers. Of all the minor creations of God, they seem to be most completely the effusions of his love of beauty, grace and joy. Of all the natural objects which surround us, they are the least connected with our absolute necessities. Vegetation might proceed; the earth might be clothed with a sober green; all the processes of fructification might be perfected without being attended by the glory with which the flower is crowned.
But beauty and fragrance are poured abroad over the earth in blossoms of endless varieties, radiant evidences of the boundless benevolence of the Deity. They are made solely to gladden the heart of man, for a light to his eyes, for a living inspiration of grace to his spirit, for a perpetual admiration. And, accordingly, they seize on our affections the first moment that we behold them. With what eagerness do very
at flowers! As they become older, they would live for ever amongst them. They bound about in the flowery meadows like young fawns; they gather all they come near; they collect heaps; they sit among them, and sort them, and sing over them, and caress them, till they perish in their grasp.
“ This sweet May morning,
The children are pulling,
We see them coming wearily into the towns and villages, with posies half as large as themselves. We trace them in shady lanes, in the grass of far-off fields, by the treasures they have gathered and left behind, lured on by others
still brighter. As they grow up to maturity, they assume in their eyes new characters and beauties. Then they are strown around them, the poetry of the earth. They become invested, by a multitude of associations, with innumerable spells of power over the human heart; they are to us memorials of the joys, sorrows, hopes and triumphs of our forefathers; they are, to all nations, the emblems of youth in its loveliness and purity.
The ancient Greeks, whose souls preëminently sympathized with the spirit of grace and beauty in every thing, were enthusiastic in their love, and lavish in their use, of flowers. Something of the same spirit seems to have prevailed amongst the Hebrews. Let us fill ourselves," says Solomon, as with costly wine and ointments; and let no flower of the spring pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with rose-buds before they be withered."
But, amongst that solemn and poetical people, they were commonly regarded in another and higher sense; they were the favorite symbols of the beauty and fragility of life. Man is compared to the flower of the field; and it is added, “the grass withereth, the flower fadeth.” But of all the poetry ever drawn from flowers, none is so beautiful, none is so sublime, none is so imbued with that very spirit in which they were made, as that of Christ : “And why take ye thought for raiment ? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow : they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the
grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith !"
The sentiment built upon this entire dependence on the goodness of the Creator—is one of the lights of our existence, and could only have been uttered by Christ; but we have here also the expression of the very spirit of beauty in which flowers were created ; a spirit so boundless and overflowing, that it delights to enliven and adorn
with these creatures of sunshine the solitary places of the earth; to scatter them by myriads over the very desert
where no man is; on the wilderness where there is no man;" sending rain "to satisfy the desolate and waste ground, and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth.”
In our confined notions, we are often led to wonder why
“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
why beauty, and flowers, and fruit, should be scattered so exuberantly where there are none to enjoy them. But the thoughts of the Almighty are not as our thoughts. He sees them; he doubtlessly delights to behold the beauty of his handiwork, and rejoices in that tide of glory which he has caused to flow wide through the universe. And how often does the gladness of uninhabited lands refresh the heart of the solitary traveller! When the distant and sea-tired voyager suddenly descries the blue mountain-tops, and the lofty crest of the palm-tree, and makes some green and pleasant island, where the verdant and blossoming forest boughs wave in the spicy gale, where the living waters leap from the rocks, and millions of new and resplendent flowers brighten the fresh sward, what then is the joy of his heart !
To Omnipotence, creation costs not an effort; but to the desolate and the weary, how immense is the happiness thus prepared in the wilderness! Who does not recollect the exultation of Vaillant over a flower in the torrid wastes of Africa? - a magnificent lily, which, growing on the banks of a river, filled the air far around with its delicious fragrance, and, as he observes, had been respected by all the animals of the district, and seemed defended even by its beauty. The affecting mention of the influence of a flower upon his mind in a time of suffering and despondency, in the heart of the same savage continent, by Mungo Park, is familiar to every one.