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utensils. The rewards of merit, the wreath of the victor, were arboraceous. In later periods, the acanthus, the ivy, the lotus, the vine, the palm, and the oak, flourished under the chisel, or in the loom of the artist; and in modern days the vegetable world affords the almost exclusive decorations of ingenuity and art.
“ The cultivation of flowers is, of all the amusements of mankind, the one to be selected and approved as the most innocent in itself, and most perfectly devoid of injury or annoyance to others. The employment is not only conducive to health and peace of mind, but probably more good-will has arisen and friendships been founded by the intercourse and communication connected with this pursuit, than from any other whatsoever. The pleasures, the ecstasies of the horticulturist are harmless and pure; a streak, a tint, a shade, becomes his triumph, which, though often obtained by chance, are secured alone by morning care, by evening caution, and the vigilance of days : an employ which, in its various grades, excludes neither the opulent nor the indigent, and, teeming with boundless variety, affords an unceasing excitement to emulation, without contention or illwill."
I should like to see flowers more prevalent in our metropolis than they are ; they serve to remind us of green lanes, sunny banks, shady forests, and the healthful hills. They are beautiful companions, delightful mementos, and innocent amusements; they breathe of beauty, sweetness, and peace, and are indeed emblems of happiness.
“ March many
Proverbs relating to March :
“A bushel of March dust is worth a king's ransom.”—“March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.”weathers.”—“March birds are best.”—“A windy March and a showery April make a beautiful May.”
“ March wind and May sun
Make clothes white and maids dun."
Owls begin to hoot much at this time of the year, and in spite of the frequency of their howling or screeching, the vulgar still regard them as unlucky omens ; and if an owl chances to sit on a house-top and hoot of an evening, some death in the family is immediately expected. Spenser speaks of
“ The ill-faced owle, Death's dreadful messenger.” Shakspeare, in Julius Cæsar, says:
The bird of night did sit
Hooting and shrieking.”
“ Within my cot, where quiet gave me rest,
Let the dread screech-owl build her hated nest.” An old distich has
“ When screech-owls shriek upon the chimney-tops,
Death soon into the fated dwelling pops.” Again,
“ The cold March moon is dull and pale,
The air smells dank and harsh ;
That breathes o'er yonder marsh.
Now startles dampish night,
If sages augur right.” Herrick has preserved in his Hesperides many of the superstitious charms which were used in his day. A few of his stanzas we extract, as they differ from those we have before given.
Give the tapers here their light,
Bring the holy crust of bread,
“ Let the superstitious wife
Near the child's heart lay a knife ;
THE OLD WIFE'S PRAYER.
Holy rood, come forth and shield
“ If ye will with Mab find grace,
Set each platter in his place ;
Shakspeare and Milton abound in allusions to and descriptions of the superstitions which existed in their times. Many
of them remain unaltered in those villages which lie far away from towns, where changes rarely take place.
Much more may be gathered respecting the strength of mind of a people from their superstitions than some might be led to imagine. Superstitious people are easy of belief, soon imposed upon, and I have often remarked that they are generally very honest. But in the country they cannot avoid becoming superstitious: the various traditions connected with the different spots they have to pass,-tales of murders committed, people buried, sights seen there which have never been disputed,-and their being out so much in the night during lambing-time and on other occasions, together with their having to be so much alone in the silent fields, leave them much leisure to think of these things. It may be urged that thinking much would free the mind from these trammels; but let it be considered that they have rarely any one to conduct their thoughts into channels of reason -on the contrary, they live among universal believers of ghosts, signs, and spirits. But enough of this.
Weep no more,” says Bergaric; “ fair weather is returned, the Sun is reconciled to mankind, and his heat hath made Winter find his legs, benumbed as they were. The air, not long since so condensed by the frost that there was not room enough for the birds, seems now to be but great imaginary space, where shrill musicians appear in the sky like little worlds balanced by their proper centre: there were no colds in the country whence they came, for here they chatter sweetly. Nature brings forth in all places, and her children as they are born play in their cradles. Consider the Zephyr, which dares hardly breathe in fear, how she plays and courts the corn! One would think the grass the hair of the earth, and this wind a comb that is careful to entangle it. I think the very Sun wooes this season ; for I have observed that whenever he retires he still keeps close to her. Those insolent northern winds that braved us in the absence of this god of tranquillity, surprised at
his coming, unite themselves to his rays to obtain his pardon by their caresses. And those that are greater offenders hide themselves in his atoms, and are quiet for fear of being discovered : all things that are hurtful enjoy a free life; nay, our very soul wanders beyond her confines, to show she is not under restraint.” Such were the enthusiastic raptures that our old author broke out into on the appearance of spring; and Milton exclaimed that “in those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against Nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicings with heaven and earth.” What must have been the feelings of the mighty bard in after days, when he could no longer see the beauties of the earth! But he has embodied these in “ thoughts that breathe and words that burn;"
“ Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
“ His mind a mansion for all lovely forms,
His memory a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies." He had drunk deeply at the fountain of Nature's fulness, and the taste was still pleasant to his palate, and the sound music to his ears, which he described in language never to be forgotten.
I must add a few more sentences on the rooks, whose noise and industry at this season are well worth observing. They are accused of being great corn-eaters ; but it is the general opinion of those who have watched their habits narrowly that this is not the case, as they live chiefly upon grubs and worms.