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CHRISTIAN LADY'S MAGAZINE.
CHAPTERS ON FLOWERS.
There are many disadvantages in writing periodically on a given subject. Other engagements, combined with the treacherous spirit of procrastination, will lead us to defer the work, until the consciousness of a waiting press throws a feeling of hurry and anxiety upon the mind, which is sure to fetter its operations, just as they need to be most vigorously performed. It was under such a consciousness, that I strolled forth this morning, to look upon the languid flowers. A long drought had sadly changed the aspect of my usually soft and verdant grassplot; the trees that cluster around it presenting quite an autumnal tint, from the number of faded leaves; while, on the border open to the south, such an array of shrivelled petals and withering buds disfigured the tall rose trees that expand upon the wall, that wbile I gazed, my spirit drooped in sullen sympathy; and
having bound some straggling carnations to the sticks which I could scarcely drive into the baked soil, I returned to my study, with as little inclination to write about flowers, as a sick person usually has to partake of a substantial meal.
On a sudden, and most unexpectedly, a dark cloud which had rapidly overspread the sky, burst, in one of those downright soaking rains that bid fair to penetrate even to the roots of the earth. This was accompanied by a breeze, so rough as to bend low the lighter trees, and to toss with some violence the branches of the more stable. Thus, while the rain freshened all that retained life, the wind separated what was dead, bearing it far away, and leaving the exhilarated scene to sparkle in its summer beauty. Who could look on this, and fail to apply the expressive acknowledgement-" Thou, O Lord, sentest a gracious rain upon thine inheritance, and refreshedst when it was weary.”
I can now augur well for my carnations, planted, rather unadvisedly, I confess, in that unshaded south border. Some will wonder that I should suffer them to droop for lack of moisture, while the simple contrivance of a watering-pot is within reach. But, though I do occasionally give the garden such artificial refreshment, I find that the hard spring-water which alone is at hand, affords a very insufficient substitute for the distillations of the sky. This, too, is good for me, -it teaches me to look up, and to acknowledge my soul's continual dependence on that which man cannot supply. The garden of Eden was Adam's only bible, and sweetly, no doubt, did he meditate
upon the living page; a book more precious meets our far deeper wants; but the first volume, with all its sin-wrought blemishes, when interpreted by the second, is a study that I would not forego for any work of human wisdom.
I must, however, not lose sight of my carnations : they have reference to some reminiscences in which I must indulge. Not that the character which I connect with them, bears any resemblance to the flower; but those delicate flowers grew in great profusion round the lowly cottage of old Dame C. and, as the sole acknowledgement that poverty could make, I was invariably presented with the choicest of that elegant store, when I commenced visiting her: until I came so to identify them, that, if I had been more than a day or two absent, the sight of a carnation would send me off, conscience-stricken, to my instructive post.
Dame C. could find no gratification in the flower garden: for twelve years she had been totally blind ; and when I first saw her, she had lain for full two years on a bed, where rheumatic affection of the limbs forbade her even the luxury of changing her position, without an effort quite agonizing to her crippled frame. I want to pourtray the family as I found them; and shall endeavour so to do.
A beloved friend, whose faithful labours in the ministry had shed the light of Goshen within many a detached cottage, where all besides was darkness-yea darkness that might be felt-was removed from among us. At his departure, I was told of Dame C. as one who would sorely feel the loss, and requested to look in upon her occasionally. It was not long before I visited the cottage ; and certainly a less attractive scene I could hardly have encountered.
On entering the little kitchen, the first object that presented itself was the countenance of a boy, in the very lowest state of confirmed idiotcy ; bis open mouth distorted into a wild laugh, and disfigured by a frightful scar, occasioned by his falling upon the wood fire. This deplorable being sat in a little chair, his long missbapen legs and arms were alike powerless; and altogether the first sight of him was enough to check my wish for farther acquaintance with the cottagers. However I proceeded, and saw a very old man sitting near the fire ; while a middleaged woman, of very serious' and even sad countenance, respectfully welcomed her visitor.
• Is this your little boy?' said I, trying to reconcile myself to the spectacle.
'No, Madam, he is a friendless child, cast by the Lord on such poor help as we can give him.'
• Where is Dame C.?'
'I will take you to her:' and then, with great tenderness lifting the boy in her arms, who, at eight years old, had the length (not height, for he could not stand) of ten or twelve, she preceded us into the adjoining room; which was in so dilapidated a state that light penetrated the roof in many places, where the covering of turf had sunk in between the open rafters, presenting an aspect of great poverty, and accounting for the rheumatic pains to which the inmate was subject.
The dame lay on her very humble but clean bed: and again I shrunk back. Her face was drawn into innumerable wrinkles, its expression indicating great suffering, and something about the eyelids that gave a vague idea of the forcible extinction of sight. She seemed a personification of misery, and there