ePub 版

same fragrant breath all over the earth, heaven has given to each individual and bence will

, almost without exception, plant. There is not one of them that produce, on the wbolo, the same impres- has not a fragrance distinct and differsion on our mind. Far different is itent from all others on earth; but we with the more active, and much more notice only the most decided, and varied effusions that rise from rich grainfields; while they fill our eye to satiety

"Full many a flower is born to blush Unseen

And wasto its sweetness on the desert air." with the picture of ample wealth, our lungs breathe the nutritious odor of their But, unseen and anthanked, trees, exuberant growth. But even smaller shrubs, and herbs, all send their indistinctions make themselves clearly conse of thanks and praise up to Him felt. There is ever a strange and mys- who made them, and, when the earth terious feeling of heaviness weighing had brought them forth at His command, apon our mind in a forest, whether we said: It is good! Love itself does not walk in the dim sbade of broad- seem to preserve more abundant wealth branched fir-trees with balsamic fra- at the very time that it dispenses it most grance, or in the lofty arcades of royal liberally. Now, it is the beautiful flower palms. The cause is, in both cases, that exhales sweet odors, as when the the saina—a thousand plant-lungs are honeysuckle scatters its fragrance far breathing heavily under the dense cano- and near, or the snow-white hawthorn py, and the thick vapors, seeking in perfumes all the land; then, again, the vain an outlet through the branches and humblest herbage is found the richest in leaves, pass wearily to and fro in the sweet scent, and the lowly ground-ivy, close air. The South and the North like the much-praised sweet-brier, holds afford here, of course, still more attract inexhaustible stores in each leaflet. Now ive and decided distinctions. The noble and then, even the bidden root is thus forms of Grecian pines and laurels, the endowed; in mandrakes “they give a graceful outlines of the asphodel, cro- smell," as Solomon sings, and the spikecus, and lilies that grow at their feet, pard's perfume was so precious that and the sweet fragrance exhaled by all Horace offered Virgil a whole butt of alike, bad, no doubt, their profound effect wine for a little box of nard; and the on the bright, beautiful myths of the genuine ointment, with which the sister children of Hellas. In the home of our of Lazarus anointed the Saviour, was forefathers, on the contrary, dense oak valued at an enormous sum by Judas, forests, frowning forever in dark mys- the Betrayer. Nor ought we to forget terious shade, with countless hosts of for a moment, that the odor of plants is poisonous plants hanging in rugged the very essence of their individuality. ravines, or bred in damp darkness, and Stoms, leaves, and blossoms, all follow giving out a close, overwhelming smell, great general rules, and present to the lent their coloring in like manner to the eye, after all, but their outward appearsombre and often bloodthirsty worship ance. But their fragrance, the most of the Druids. What true son of the subtle of all substances in wide nature, North can ever inhale the fresh odor arises from the innermost heart of the arising when the wind rustles in the plants at the time of their fullest vigor, trembling, branches of white-robed and, therefore, conveys to us, without birches, mixed with the rich aroma of his doubt, the best knowledge we ever can own beloved fir-trees, without feeling hope to obtain of their inner life. Whathis heart beat high, and his thoughts fly ever it distills from the countless and back to the land of his birth?

unknown elements wbich it receives The sweet fragrance of meadows, on from earth, air, and water-whatever it the contrary, rises, unhindered and un- produces in its secret chambers and there mixed, at once into the bright ether, and, transforms from the first crude form inaided by the warm rays of the sun, dif- to delicate sap and beautiful crystalsfuses itself far and near, in unbounded all this it exhales, in the end, through its exuberance. Thus, it enters our lungs; crown and chaplet, in the form of fraand as we breathe freely and fully, our grance. Long ago, quaintold Paracelsus, hearts are relieved. and our thoughts rove whose works contain many a truth once up to the blue heavens, and far away laughed at as idle fancy and now aointo the wide, wide world. Most strik. knowledged by the wisest of men, proingly, however, is this influence felt posed, on this ground, a division of in the odor which our great Father in plants according to their peculiar odor. On the other hand, it must not be over- ing the careless child.

But here, looked how the very fact that the fra- also, as among men, prejudices are grance of plants is the final result, the easily engendered, and many a plant concentrated effect of all their functions stands " in bad odor," which, in spite of and changes in life, makes it so vague smell and report, is virtuous and pure. and indefinable that no language on earth The beauty of the white flowers of owns words enough to convey to our ramps or wild leeks, which abound in mind a clear perception of more than a our moist woods and shady meadows, is very few odors. The perfume of plants much dimmed by the strong smell of belongs to their innermost life, as the garlic exhaled by their herbage, and the voice of man comes from his heart. plants themselves were long looked down Who can describe all the ever-changing upon with dark suspicion. Now, howtones of the human voice ? They ever, their innoconce has been comare, nevertheless, the surest signs by pletely established with us, whilst, in which can read the character of their Sj as well as in the whole Orient, owner. As we distinguish, oven in garlic and onions have been held in high darkness, a stranger by his voice, so we favor, ever since the days when the may know every plant, nay, every varie- Israelites in the wilderness sighed, for ty of flowers, by its fragrance.

"the leeks, the onions, and the garlic," If we try to bring some order into the and the Egyptians made these strange thousand odors with which we are more gods, who, as Juvenal says bitterly, familiar, we find, at once, that they may grow in their gardens," objects of worbe divided into two great classes, which ship. Inodorous euphorbias, on the have, at first sight, but little in common. other hand, are far from being as harmSome plants exhale aromas-odors less. which, by their pleasing impression and How much the fragrance, of flowers healthy effect, immediately increase the especially, affects our opinion of plants, activity of all our functions. Others, may be gathered from the bitter disapagain, disturb our equanimity and dis- pointment with which we turn from tress our feelings by narcotic, or even bright-colored flowers that have no odor. more poisome, smells. The impression The brighter their hues, the more gorin both cases is all the stronger, because, geous their beauty, the more we feel in most cases, if not in all, our instinct the absence of higher gifts, and rememis warned by the smell to cherish such ber, at once, similar feelings which we plants as are beneficial to our health, experience when we discover a beautiand to avoid those that are hurtful. All ful woman to be without the nobler endecided and well-known aromas fore- dowments of mind. The form is there tell in this delicate manner the hid- in full glory, the eye is pleased and gra. den bealing power that is entrusted to tified, but what is left for the mind and their owners. What a charming list the heart? Thus, whole acres of old Sbenstone gives of such sweet-smell- land may be seen in Northern Germany ing, wholesome herbs, from the lips of thickly planted with gorgeous tulips; ber who knew them so well, and the Chinese displays in his garden giu well of each could speak

gantic peonies and impudent hydranThat in her garden sipp'd the silv'ry dew : geas; verbenas, with fagrant colors,

The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme, stare at you through all four seasons; Fresh balm and marygold of cheerful bue;

long braggarts, in the shape of dahlias, And euphrasy may not be left unsung, rise high above humble violets aud fraThat gives dim eyes to wander leagues around, Andmarjram sweet, in shepherd's posió grant roses, and the wild rabble of asfound,"

ters closes, in autumn, the rear of this and a host of others, from the most

army of beggars.

Color and odor combined, on the conbrilliant down to bumble “rue and dittany." In even more striking manner

trary, give us a feeling of perfection. wo see, on the other band, the foxglove the characteristic beauties of the vege

We are fully satisfied where we find both with its purple bells betoken by its pe

table world in equal proportion, as in the culiar smell its often deadly poison, and

rose and the lily, the hyacinth and the "on bills of dust the benbane's faded carnation. No nation on earth, from green

the oldest times down to our day, bas, And ponciled flower of sickly scent, is seen,"

therefore, failed to regard the rose with like poisonous mushrooms, fairly warn- a feeling akin to veneration. From the


gardens of the Phrygian king, Midas, of the gentle mignonnetto exhales sweet, which Herodotus speaks, to the_far. soothing fragrance from bumble, unfamed rose-fields of Persia, in the East, sightly flowers. Then, again, we feel and the little flower-pot of the squatter's disposed to admire the poble humility daughter, in the far West, the with which the night-violet gives out ever appears as the first among flowers, its sweet odor in unceasing abundance, the very queen of the great kingdom of though no eye sees its modest blossom, Flora. He, who spreads the earth with no man enjoys its dreamy perfume. But fragrant flowers, did not disdain to call the blind minstrel does not appeal to Himself “the Rose of Sharon, and the our heart with more touching effect, Lily of the Valley," and all other de. than the sweet fragrance of such sadscriptions fade before the simple words colored flowers. A tear of sympathy -"the desert shall rejoice and blossom ballows our pleasure as we listen to his as the rose." The lily, also, combining plaintive song; a dim but grateful eymthe two most precious gifts of a color so pathy makes us love dearly the fragrant fair, that " Solomon in all his glory was flower that owes all our affection to its pot arrayed like one of these," and of a delicate odor alone. Nature often seems smell most sweet and fragrant, is re- to play with her children alike in differvered as almost sacred in the Orient. ent kingdoms : the besperis is the most In Solomon's temple "the top of the balmy of flowers, the nightingale of pillars was lily-work," and the molten Europe the sweetest of warblers. The sea, also, that held water, had “the latter sings, the former smells, but at brim wrought like the brim of a cup night, and both are ontirely without with flowers of lilies." As the West beauty. What a sweet and moving now has the hyacinth and the carnation, picture the Bible draws of the com80 the East can boast alone of the cam. ing of spring from such quiet and phor, another flower that pleases alike most humble Aowers ! • The fig-tree by beauty and odor. The gentle mix- putteth forth her green figs, and the ture of white and green in its blossoms, vines, with the tender grape, give a good which hang in rich clusters, contrasts smell

. Arise, my love-my fair onewith the red hue of the branches, and and come away! And high over the pleases the sight, whilst the sweet fra- tender bud and the hardly-visible blosgrance, which they spread far and near, soms, which yet filled the air with makes them the favorite bouquet of wondrous sweetness, there sang birds, Eastern women.

Hence the prophet's and the voice of the turtle was heard in praise— "My beloved is unto me as a the land. There is no tumultuous joy cluster of camphor."

here, no gorgeous display, but a sweet, But even humbler plants are often ineffably sweet, sensation, filling the richly endowed with both gifts, as the heart, and warming the affections. tiny heath-flower, whose powdery bells, Few but dearer to us than all othshining in purple bloom, "fling forth ers, are the plants that give out their from their scented cups & sweet per.

odor at night only. Their fragrance, it fume," and still invite the eye by their has been well said, is like the deep feelbeauty: Especially in Alpine regions, ings of a man's heart. Alone and unwo find, amid the most rugged scenes, observed, the latter pours out its secret flowers that rejoice the eye by their emotions to the starry sky or the dark pure, dazzling colors, and fill the clouds, as those flowers, also, in maidheart with strange but pleasing sensa- enly shame, seem to wait for the veil tions, as the brocze wafts to us their of night ere they give way to their feelbalsamic fragrance. From the brilliant ings, and exhale them in sweet aromas. auricules down to the humble violet. Not without reason, therefore, was it scented moss, a surprising variety of proposed by that most charming of all aromatic odors greets the wanderer, naturalists, St. Pierre, to abolish Greek amid the snow and ice of the Alps. and Arabic names, and to classify the

Where beauty of form is wanting, and gay children of Flora as gay, serious, yet pleasing odors prevail, there the and melancholy plants. For it is cer. effect is, perhaps, even greater, because tain that some plants cheer us, and of the painful regret with which we others sadden us, we know not how; miss tho desired perfection of form. but no one can doubt that our moral af. Now, it appears to us as if nature had fections are strongly influenced by such sadly neglected a step-child, as when impressions. Nor was it, surely, without

even more

a special design of the Most High, that the heart merrie and delighteth the all sweet-scented flowers grow at the senses." feet of man, or, at least, within easy Often, it is true, the reply is far from reach of his hand. The violet and the pleasant, especially when, with youthrose, the gillyflower and the holiotrope, ful thoughtlessness, we attack an unthe lily and lilac are all on a level with

known enemy:

We may

well be conhim, and even the noble magnolia of tent if, as in the case of a cestrum, we our land is rarely beyond his control. are treated only to a smell of roast pig, Where beautiful Aowers grow on lofty or if the odor of rancid fat makes us trees, as on the royal palın, or our own turn angrily away from a surly roundtulip-tree, they are fair to the eye, but head among the cactus. Far worse are bave po fragrance.

other plants--the very clowns of the The aroma yielded by plants, when vegetable world—who reply to our greetcrushed, has suggested many touch- ing with foetid odor, or ing passages to our poets. Who noisome stenches; and what makes the remembers not, when thus reminded, impression more painful still is, that some beloved one that in health breathed, they have a perfect right to repel the like the wild-rose, its faint, delicious intruder, and to express their very life, and, as the end drew near, with natural wish not to be pinched and illricher fragrance, sank, like the violet, treated by unknown persons. The to the ground, and, dying by a mossy goose-foot repays the aggressor at stone, half bidden from the eye, con- once with an unmistakablo odor of tinued to breathe rich odors to all who spoiled salt-fish, and thus has becomo a loved her? Of such violets, Kirk White veritable touch-me-not. But even the SADS :

instinct of animals is proved not to be “Yet, though thou fade,

infallible by some such plants, as is the Froin thy dead leaves let fragrance rise, case with some stapelias-called car. And teach the maid

rion Powers, because of their putrid and That goodness time's rude hand defiegThat virtue lives when beauty dies."

disagreeable odor—which actually cheat

poor fies into the belief that they are The most touching of all, however, is, putrid animal matter, and induce them, probably, Moore's reference to that

under such false pretenses, to lay their source from whence alone cometh com

eggs in their flesb-colored blossomg. fort in sorrow :

Whole races of plants, indeed, like tho “Thou canst heal tbo broken heart, families that bear the name of the great Which, like the plants that throw

botanist, Raffles, and various orchides, Their fragrance from the wounded part, Breathe sweetness out of woe."

diffuse an odor as bad and disgusting as Many among them, it is true, require and, openly professing their creed, in

mon who boast of their wickedness, peither pain nor violence to give out fect thus whole classes of society. Now their odor; they are rather like firm and reserved men, who choose not to analogies, as the orchis, which assumes

and then, they present even curious give a reply. except to a clear and posi: the shape of a more familiar than agreetive question. For it is from such able bug, and, with undesired consistenplants that we obtain the most decided odors, as they themselves belong, of all

cy, resembles it also in odor.

But a world of sweet odors is others, to the best-formed and most perfect children of Flora.

ever rising around us, whether we

Nor need we, thanks to the "good present times,"

walk through the open land of our

South, perfumed with the magnolia's resort any longer to the sad custom of

rich fragrance, or breathe the sweet air our fathers, when

of “violet-scented" Athens. Gentler " With rose and swete flowres

feelings awake in our heart, pleasant Was strawed halles and bouris,"

memories crowd all the chambers of and when meadow-sweet, especially, our mind, and fancy even awakes to inwas highly esteemed for the purpose, dulge in a thousand reveries, when we because, as a quaint old writer, Ge- think of rarde, says, “its leaves and flowres "La bank where the wild thyme blows, farre excell all other strowing herbes Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows; for to decke up houses, to straw in

Quite over anopied with luscious woodbine, chambers, halles, and banqueting- Where sleeps Titania, some time of night,

With owcet musk-roses and with eglantine houses; for the smelle thereof maketh Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight." PETER FLINT'S STORY.

IT happened to me once, to spend part found the bave takent refuge chiefly

wild and scattered farm-house, in the valley of the Penob- of our border regions. scot. Years have not obliterated my Peter was full of anecdote, and ready, recollections of those white and silent upon a bint, to speak; a cold night and reaches of drifted snow, broken only by a roaring wind seldom fail to bring to straggling outposts of the black pine my mind the tales and descriptions of forest which bounded our horizon-the forest life wherewith he beguiled the short and lonely days—the long evenings long December evenings. I seem to see in the farm-kitchen, where a huge wood him now, with his iron-gray head, lank firo, with plenty of pine-knots, cider, but sinowy frame, and eyes which conand tobacco, robbed night and winter of tinually surprised you, from their contheir terrors. My host, John Frost, trast with the weather-beaten, deeplywas not a bad specimen of Yankee thrift dented brow which overhung them—50 and intelligence-bard, shrewd, slow of clear, and soft, and changeful yere they. speech, and quick of observation; bis One night, I remember, our talk turnspouse was a bit of a vixen, but notable, ed upon ghosts and apparitions. There and lively withal. They had boys and were only Peter and myself, besides the girls of all ages and sizes—all active. family, and the discourse, as such dishandy, self-reliant imps, and abundantly course usually does, embraced a variety endowed with the proverbial curiosity of illustrative episodes. Mrs. Frost was of the country, sharpened by the habit a disbeliever-more than that, a scoffor ual privation to which it was subjected; at everything connected with the belief; for a stranger was a “sight" in that the farmer smoked, and said little, but region, and little of the world came to laconically observed that “there wus a their knowledge beyond the border news good many things as he didn't partend which occasional visitors brought with to account for-they mout be, and they them from the lakes, and fastnesses of mout not." The young fry, of course, the forest. Theso visitors were more sat ereclus auribus, while I, who lean in welcome to me than any more civilized temperament, if not in opinion, to the arrivals could possibly be-now and superstitious side of the question, incurthen we had a kitchenful of red-shirted red the utmost contempt of my hostess, fellows, ragged and unshorn as imagi- whose respect for the “larnin” which nation could picture.

On their way

she was pleased to attribute to me, was from one lumbering station to another, not a little diminished by the avowal of they were wont to stop at “Frost's" for my credulity. rest and refreshment, both of wbich “Wal,” said Peter Flint, who had were most hospitably and bountifully not spoken for some time, taking his accorded them. Among these were not pipe out of his mouth, and rubbing his a few whose native wit and force of char- leg in the warmth of the huge red blaze acter furnished me with a new field for which went roaring and crackling up thought.

the kitchen chimney, “I've heerd tell There was one old lumberman in par- of ghosts and sperrits, and them critters, ticular, who came to us with a lame but I never set eyes on nary one on 'em knee; he had met with an accident in myself. 'Tain't often you meet with a the woods, and was laid up with us for man as kin say he hasm-most generally a week or so, on his way down the river it has been through two or three mouths to Bangor. Peter Flint and I became

afore it gits to ye. So I can't say but great cronies. He was rough as a pine- I bain't never felt to larf and carry on knot, and keen as his own axe, but what agin 'em, as some will, 'cause my expeespecially took me was, the underlying rience has been of sich a natur as to vein of rude romance which discovered certify me that there's more in 'em than itself in the turn of his thoughts ; a qua- folks are willin' to allow, anyhow." lity by no means so rare among this What's your experience, Peter ?". class of men as may be supposed. In No great, as I told ye, but it's fact, I have had my suspicions that the suthin' of a story, too. I never had sentiment in which American character no lot nor part in sich a thing but once, is remarked to be so deficient, will be and I hope never to, agin ; 'twarn't a

« 上一頁繼續 »