« PreviousContinue »
through this more than classical redundancy of decoration. An envious piece of ivy had crept up the god's back, and, at length, reaching his sun-crowned brow, had wreathed it round and round with the head-dress of Bacchus; whilst the jolly god himself stood but a little way off, actually embowered with the tree so sacred to Phæbus, the never-fading laurel. The cast of the Medicean Venus was decently, if not very gracefully, clothed in a dark green dress, relieved by a profusion of red berries. There was a large snail fixed in one of her beautiful down-looking eyes, which I regarded as a profanation so scandalous, that I poked him out with the end of my cane. I thought, as the aboniination rustled through the foliage in its fall, upon what vile things will fasten upon beauty, should it be compelled to undergo scorn, or be left to neglect. The idea was painful to me, thus typically shadowed out. From that moment I made a vow to increase, a hundredfold, my respect and
my attention to the whole sex. Ladies, that vow I have kept.”
The apparition of the Sylph from a beautiful flower is also delightfully related :
“ There was neither Grecian nor Roman affectation about her. She appeared to be a thoroughly English girl, just laughing herself into womanhood; her rich brown hair clustering over her glorious brow, which ever and anon she shook away with the sweetest yet coquettish toss of the head imaginable. The complexion was that pure white, deepening by degrees into that intense but equally pure carnation, that art cannot imitate, and yet almost seems too beautiful to be real. I gazed with rapture upon her budding lips, that seemed for ever to be nursing between them an arch smile, and suggested to you the idea of a young love cradled in a just opening rose.”
The Sylph describes the origin of flowers; and the following is her beautiful narration :
««• When the parents of mankind hymned forth their grate
we never saw.
ful praises in the garden of Eden, I and my sisters were not. The immortal flowers that bloomed within that sacred inclosure
They are to be our rewards hereafter. Our immortality will be spent in a terrestrial paradise, whilst celestial glories will be the lot of more favoured man, when the holy blood of redemption shall have washed him sinless. The offending pair were expelled. The barrier sword of fire waved behind them, and all before was desolate, and drear, and sterile. For the first time, they heard the winds howl as in anger; for the first time, the cold chilled and the heat scorched them. The rain no longer descended upon them in odoriferous and refreshing dews, but beat savagely, like remorse, upon their woe-surcharged bosoms. For many miles they walked silently and sullenly, and apart. Adam's heart was full of indignation, Eve's eyes with tears. On their dreary way, the few stunted shrubs that they met with bore no fruit, the barren earth no herbage, and the scanty vegetation no flowers. But their mournful path was not unwatched, their sorrows not unshared. Hosts of heavenly essences hovered above them, their thoughts praying silently for the afflicted, and all longing to descend to support the tottering steps of the expelled—to speak to them of hope, and whisper comfort to their souls. But, as yet, they dared not. Adam was still stubborn in his anger ; and Eve, though repentant, offended at her partner's neglect. As yet, there was no opening, no pretence for the descent of heavenly grace; and the unseen angels hung over them and around them sorrowing. Scarcely three hours had they journeyed, when, for the first time since she arose in perfection from the plastic hand of the Deity, Eve felt weari
The new and strange sensation entwined itself about her delicate limbs, and seemed to drag her towards the earth. It lay upon her gentle bosom, and oppressed its healthful heaving. It was as a weight upon her brain, and as a faintness on her heart. Then was born that intolerable evil, physical pain. Eve acknowledged the birth with a groan-her ,
tears fell no longer in silence : she wept aloud. But, with the harshness of the scene around him, Adam's heart was hardening. As if driven in upon him from without, evil feelings were concentrating in his bosom. He heard ; but he went on his way unheeding. Eve, her mild and beautiful eyes blinded with her tears, marked not the ruggedness of her path ; and, her soul steeped in the bitterness of woe, she regarded not the inequality of her steps. She struck her white and blue-veined foot against a pointed piece of rock, and she bled. The pang from the lacerated flesh shot upwards with a sudden agony through her frame. She looked with consternation and horror upon the new and strange miracle: then, for the first time, the precious stream of life was wasted upon the ground, and the crimson type of death struck a new-born terror into the bosom of the fair mother of mankind. Pale and motionless with fright, she stopped and exclaimed, Adam, my husband ! save me, or I fall.' He turned, and the revulsion of his feelings shook him almost to dissolution. He rushed towards his beloved, and, while she bent over him and wept upon his shoulder, he knelt at her feet, and bathed the bleeding one with his tears. The holy drops - holy, as they were the offerings of repentance for neglect and hardness of heart, and the wrong to wedded love-mingled with the crimson stream, and fell upon and fertilised the rock. The soul of Mercy saw the deed, and was well pleased. A bed of beautiful tender-leaved and white flowers sprang up
beneath their feet where they stood. Adam acknowledged the Divine interposition with reverence and gratitude; and Eve and he knelt upon the fragrant carpet and prayed, and blessed the hand which chasteneth with love, and which blesseth even in chastening. After they had poured out their thanksgiving for this token that they were not utterly deserted, Eve sate upon the miracle-created couch, and Adam stanched the bleeding of the wound with the cool and balmy petals of the flowers, and health was simultaneous on the application. Yet many of the flowers had been tinted with the
pure blood of the sorrowing one, in various degrees of intensity. These became the white and red roses of the antediluvian period. Then, they had no thorns. How dreadfully has this still beautiful flower degenerated! These were the first of the post-Eden flowers that were created. At the joyous sight, the angelic choristers, that had in grief watched the penible journey of the primal parents of mankind, burst forth into one universal song of praise to the Dread Insearchable. They saw the symbol of blood, and trembled while they hoped. In the crimson type they knew of the redemption for sin. They acknowledged that the purest, the most holy, the most divine, must flow, ere immortality might blossom, and the flowers of eternal life descend upon erring man. floated in ineffable harmonies around the throne of grace, and was acceptable. The powers, the dominions, and the angelic essences, encouraged by the divine miracle of the roses, proceeded to complete the work of good will to man. As the now reconciled and fondly-loving pair, on the following day, resumed their weary course, the guardian spirits that attended them, at every tender expression, every resigned thought, and every pious aspiration, caused to spring up beneath the feet of the wanderers, flowers of every blooming hue, graceful form, and invigorating fragrance. Then were first of all called into existence the terrestrially immortal race, of which I am so insignificant a member. In those patriarchal times, every distinct species of flowers had its presiding genius, whose office it was to wanton over the face of the earth and disperse the seed, each of her particular care. Then, then we were a happy race ! The angels of the Inapproachable did not then disdain to mingle with us, and to permit our pæans to the throne surrounded with glory to mix with theirs.'
Leigh Hunt says, in his Months,' that “ The name of June, and indeed of May, gave rise to various etymologies ; but the most probable derives it from Juno, in honour of whom a festival was celebrated at the beginning of the month.
perature of the air is still mild, and in our climate sometimes too chilly; but when the season is fine, this is perhaps the most delightful month of the year. The hopes of spring are realised, yet the enjoyment is but commenced—we have all summer before us: the cuckoo's two notes are now at what may be called their ripest— deep and loud ; so is the hum of the bee: little clouds lie in lumps of silver about the sky, and sometimes fall to complete the growth of the herbage ; yet we may now lie down on the grass, or the flowering banks, to read or write. The grasshoppers click about us in the warming verdure; the pea, the blue and yellow nightshade, the foxglove, the mallow, white briony, wild honeysuckle, and the flower of the hip or wild rose, which blushes through all the gradations of delicate red and white. The leaves of the hip, especially the young ones, are as beautiful as those of any garden-rose. At night the moon looks silveriest, the sky at once darkest and clearest ; and when the nightingale, as well as the other birds, have done singing, you may hear the undried brooks of the spring running and panting through their leafy channels. It ceased,' says the poet, speaking of a sound of heavenly voices about a ship
• It ceased ; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,-
In the leafy month of June,
“ The rural business of this month is made up of two employments, as beautiful to look at as they are useful-sheepshearing and haymaking. In the south-west of England the custom, we believe, is still kept up of throwing flowers into the streams—an evident relic of paganism, which we can well afford to pardon for its poetry, and the love we bear towards Ophelia's flowery grave."