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A novice in the art, I have not learned to hawk my wares with the confident tongue of my elders and betters in the trade. I would indeed hope, that the leaves which I am to transcribe, will carry with them their own commendation. They are taken from Parthenia Sacra, a volume written in the reign of our second Charles, in honour of the Virgin, who is praised under a hundred similitudes of plants of the earth, birds of the air, the dew of heaven, stars, mountains, and seas. With much quaintness and not a little beauty, the violet is thus described :

“ The Violet is truly the Hermitess of flowers, affecting woods and forests, where, in a lowly humility mixed with solicitude, she leads a life delicious in herself, though not so specious to the eye, because obscure. She is a great companion to the Primrose, and they are little less than sworn sisters; you shall likely never find them far asunder. When they are so in company in the wood together, where she is bred and born, they make an excellent enamel of blue and yellow; but being by herself alone, as in her cell, she is a right Amethyst. Had Juno been in quest to seek her bird, as strayed in the woods, she would easily have thought these purple violets had been her Argo's eyes, as shattered here and there and dropt down from her peacock’s train; and so well might hope to find her bird again, as deer are traced by their footing. She is even the wanton among leaves, that plays the bo-peep with such as she is merry and bold withal; whom when you think you have caught, and have now already in your hand, she slips and leaves you mocked, while you

have but her scarf only and not herself. She is the Anchoress, sending forth a fragrant odour of her sanctity where she is not seen ; which she would hide full fain, but cannot. She is the Herald of the Spring, wearing the azure coat of arms, and proclaiming sweetly in her manner to the spectators the new arrival of the welcome guest. She is the Primitiae or hasty present of Flora to the whole nature. Where, if the rose and lily be the Queen and Lady of flowers, she will be their lowly handmaid, lying at their feet, and yet haply (for worth) be advanced to lodge in the fairest bosoms as soon as they ; as being the only fair affecting obscurity, and to lie hid, which other beauties hate so much.”

If Charles Lamb have left nothing which surpasses this in tenderness and a rich vein of fancy, what follows will be read with pleasure, even after the kindred description which it suggests, whether in the original of Strada, the paraphrase of Crashaw,? or that more exquisite version by Ford :3

I F. Strada. lib. ii. Prolus. 6. Acad. 2. Imitat. Claudian. 2 Musick's Duell, Chalmers' British Poets, vol. vi. p. 572. 8 Lover's Melancholy, act i. sc. i. Gifford's Ford, vol. i. “ The nightingale is the little Orpheus of the woods, and the true Amphion of the forest, that hath for lyre the little clarigal or organ of his throat; wherein he is so expert, as not contented to outstrip others, he will never stop, till, with running his divisions, he hath put himself to a non-plus for want of breath : and then will look about him, as he had done something, and some notable conquest, when it is but himself or his own echo he hath so foiled and put to silence. It is one of the prettiest sports in nature to hear the little nightingale to warble in telling and recounting her delights and pleasures to Zephirus and the forests, tuning a thousand canzonets, and sweetly cutting the air with repetition of a hundred thousand semi-semi quavers, which she lets go without cease. To take her pleasure and recreation, she will balance herself upon a branch that shakes, to dance lavaltoes, as it were, at the cadence of her lighter songs, and to match her voice with the silver streams of a chrystal current gliding there along, which, breaking against the little pebbles, murmurs and sweetly purls, while she perches and sets herself just over a bank enamelled all with flowers. It is admirable in so small a body, that so clear, so sweet, so strong and pleasant a voice should be found, that in the spring, when trees begin to bud their leaves, whole days and nights perpetually she should sing without intermission at all. For


whence from so little a bird, so bold and pertinacious a spirit? Whence so artifical and so perfect a knowledge of music, so ingenious a modulation, so grateful a tone to the ears, which now with a continued breath is drawn out at length, now turns again with a strange and admirable variety? Oh what sport it is when this little feathered voice, this pretty harmony in the shape of a bird, being vivified with music, is even ready to kill herself with singing, when she hears the counterfeit nightingale (the echo) to mock her, in repeating and returning her whole melody again! For then she mounts up, as it were to the heavens, and then stoops again to the centre of the earth, she flies, she follows, she sighs, she sobs, she is angry, and then pleased again, she mingles the sharp with the flat; one while a chromatic, then a sweeter stroke, now strikes a diapente, then a diapason. She counterfeits the hautboy, cornet, and flute; she divides, she gargles, and hath her

groppo, the thrills, and the like, and all in that her little throat, but yet can vary nothing, but the echo imitates and expresses ; till at last as it were she loseth all patience, falls into a little chafe with herself, in that seeing nothing, she hears notwithstanding; and so flies into some bush to hide herself for shame till pricked with a thorn, at last she is pushed to sing again, which she doth without measure, where all is delicious as before.”

The character of the olive has some pretty touches :

“ The olive, the fig, and vine, are the three triumviri, that might well have shared the monarchy of trees between them; as having the voices of all the tribunes on their parts. But the olive especially refused the sceptre, as greater in itself than the flash and lustre of purple and diadem could make it. It is the true Agathocles, contented with his salads in an earthen dish. It is even the meek and innocent dove of trees, as the dove is the olive of birds, having such sympathy and fair correspondences with them. It was once the gladsome mirth and joyful solace of Noah's heart, was then, and is still, the ensign of peace and mercy. It is the herald of arms, that passeth freely to and fro amid the halberts and squadrons of pikes, and cries out but, “Hold your hands, and all is whist. It decks the brows of poets equal with laurel, since Apollo and Minerva were as brother and sister, and dear to each other.”

These stately periods may perhaps call Sir Thomas Browne to mind; the following picture shows a felicity and a sweetness of which the learned knight has left no examples :

“ The dove is a meek creature, and hath no gall ; she feeds on no living thing; she brings up others' young; she makes choice of the purest grain ; she builds in the rocks ; she hath groans for singing

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