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Bring, Flora, bring thy treasures here,
The interest which flowers have excited in the breast of man, from the earliest ages to the present day, has never been confined to any particular class of society, or quarter of the globe. Nature seems to have scattered them over the world as a medicine to the mind, to give cheerfulness to the earth, and furnish agreeable sensations to its inhabitants.
The savage of the forests, in the joy of his heart, binds his brow with the native flowers of his woods, whilst their cultivation increases in
every country in proportion as the blessings of civilization extend.
From the most humble cottage-garden to the proudest parterre of the palace, nothing more conspicuously bespeaks the good taste of the possessor than a well-cultivated flowergarden; and it may generally be remarked, that when we see a neat cottage-court well stocked with plants, the inhabitant is respectable, and possesses domestic comfort; whilst, on the contrary, a neglected garden but too frequently marks the indolence, and bespeaks the unhappy state of the owner.
Of all luxurious indulgences, that of flowers is the most innocent—they are of all embellishments the most beautiful : and of all created beings, man alone seems capable of deriving enjoyment from them, which commences with his infancy, remains the delight of his youth, increases with his years, and becomes the quiet amusement of his age. Every rank of people seem equally to enjoy flowers as a gratification to the organs of sight and smell; but to the botanist and the close observer of Nature, beauties are unfolded and wonders displayed that cannot be conceived by the careless attention of the multitude, who regard these ornaments of nature as wild or savage persons would do a watch
they are dazzled with the splendour of the case and the beauty of the appendages, but look no further, because they know not where to look. The artist, while he enjoys the external covering, looks into the interior, and as he regards the movements and learns their various uses, he is struck with admiration at the ingenuity of the mechanism. The botanist has the same delight when he looks into the blossoms of flowers; for he there beholds the wonderful works of the Almighty with amazement—there he sees movements and regulations, with which all the combined ingenuity of man cannot compare. We may
learn even from profane history how much the study of vegetable nature induces the mind to its proper sense of gratitude, and how much it created in the breasts of the heathens themselves a veneration and religious awe for the Author of all things : for although they were not blessed with a knowledge of pure religion, they had too much good sense to suppose that vegetation was a matter of chance; and they there. fore attributed each gift of nature to some peculiar god, their minds not being sufficiently expanded to conceive a just idea of the Deity, except, indeed, those master Minds who traced, in the regularity and uniformity displayed in all organised nature, the hand of one supreme Creator, and who adored him under the name of Pan, the universal spirit.
The worship of Flora amongst the heathen nations may be traced up to very early days. She was an object of religious veneration among the Phocians and the Sabines, long before the foundation of Rome; and the early Greeks worshipped her under the name of Chloris. The Romans instituted a festival in honour of Flora as early as the time of Romulus, as a kind of rejoicing at the appearance of the blossoms, which they welcomed as the harbingers of fruits. The festival games of Floralia were not, however, regularly instituted until five hundred and sixteen years after the foundation of Rome, when, on consulting the celebrated books of the Sibyl, it was ordained that the feast should be annually kept on the 28th day of April, that