Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

connection with the flower which has led us into these remarks“I met with this plant but once,” he says, “and that throughout a journey of four hours, over the celebrated mountains of Wallivari, in the district of Lulea, toward a tract of country which lies about half way between the northern and southern parts, where it grew in great abundance. Whilst I was walking quickly along in a profuse perspiration, facing the cold wind at midnight, if I may call it night when the sun was shining without setting at all, still anxiously enquiring of my interpreter how near we were to a Lapland dwelling, which I had for two hours been anxiously expecting, though I knew not its precise situation ; casting my eager eyes around me in all directions, I perceived, as it were, the shadow of this plant, but did not stop to examine it, taking it for the Empetrum. But after going a few steps further, the idea of its being something I was unacquainted with came across my mind, and I turned back; when I should again have taken it for the Empetrum, had not its greater height caused me to consider it with more attention. I know not what it is that so deceives the sight in our Alps during the night, as to render objects far less distinct than in the middle of the day, though the sun shines equally bright. The sun being near the horizon, spreads its rays in such a horizontal direction that we can scarcely protect our eyes; besides, the shadows of plants are so infinitely extended, and so confounded with each other, from the tremulous agitation caused by the blustering wind, that objects very different in themselves are scarcely to be distinguished from each other. Having gathered one of these plants, I looked about and found several more in the neighbourhood, all on the north side where they grew in plenty; but I never met with the same in any other place afterwards. As at this time they had lost their fowers and were ripening seed, it was not till after I had sought for a very long time that I met with a single flower, which was white, shaped like a lily of the valley, but with five sharper divisions.”

To Linnæus, then, and to any one whose mind is accustomed to see all things in the multitude of their relations, the bare mention of this flower, would recall the whole scenery of the Lapland Alps, the “disastrous twilight" of its midnight sun, and the long lines of shadow trembling across its glittering snows. We hear much of

“ looking through nature up to nature's God;" and as fashion requires that we should give the world credit for doing so, we will for once allow it to be a possible case. But nature never did teach, and never can, the whole of God's doings and purposes with regard to us; and, for this reason, the world of books, comprising as it does the records of redeeming grace, has infinitely the advantage.

It is well when persons stand in the position which has been assigned, and rightly, to one of our sweetest poets

To him the meanest flower that blows can give

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. “ The daisy looks up to him with sparkling eye as an old acquaintance; the cuckoo haunts him with sounds of early youth not to be expressed; a linnet's nest startles him with boyish delight; an old withered thorn is weighed down with a heap of recollections; a grey cloak and some wild moor, torn by the wind and drenched with rain, afterwards becomes an object of imagination to him ; even the lichens of the rock have a life and being in his thoughts." But it is better, infinitely better, when with a due sense of the true way of access through Him ‘by whom we cry Abba;' the grateful observer of the glories around him

“ Can lift to heaven an unpresumptuous eye,

And smiling say, My Father made them all!” And yet how many minds are there that scarcely appear susceptible of any impressions of the kind. It was not so with our young traveller, who was at one moment listening to the warblings of the red-wing from the tops of the spruce-fir, and the next, watching the lark quivering before him in the air, and chaunting his "tirra-lirra."

- The daisy sleeps upon the dewy lawn,

Not lifting yet the head that evening bowed ;
But he is risen, a later star of dawn,

Glittering and twinkling near yon rosy cloud;
Bright gem instinct with music, vocal spark;

The happiest bird that sprang out of the ark !” Amidst the rigours of a wintry atmosphere his feelings were not chilled; upon the soft gales of spring they flowed out in lively gratitude; when summer winds, and the grateful “scent of flowery

clover and other plants,” stole over the entranced senses, they were “ most lovely of all;" and when autumn stood before him in his gorgeous livery of crimson and gold, he could see in the desolating storm, a useful agent to disperse ripe seeds, and plant colonies far from the parent trees."

But it was not only “the seasons and their change;" or the more general features of the scenery that held a place in his regards. The minutest of that minute class of plants—the mosses, exercised his seeing and his reasoning powers. “Here and there,” says he, in speaking of the woods of Helsingland, “ lay blood-red stones, or rather stones which appeared to have been partially stained with blood. On rubbing them, I found the red colour merely external and perfectly distinct from the stone itself: it was, in fact, a red byssus.” Few would have seen, in this ochry tinge, the rudiments of a soil that might one day bear upon its bosom the “berried juniper" or the dark and lordly pine; yet such, in fact, it was. And here are two of those plants which are destined, phænix-like,

y to rise from the ashes of their

lesser predecessors, and dying, in their turn, to furnish a deposit

for the seeds of those of larger 1 growth ;-they are both from the

original sketches of Linnæus, and represent varieties of the Bartramia fontana.

It is not with the mere know

ledge of their existence, or of the localities where these productions of the vegetable world are to be found, that the observant naturalist will be satisfied. Their structure and habits must be examined : and inferences drawn from them illustrative of his wisdom and goodness who made, and still preserves every plant of the field. “The forests of Lapland,” says Linnæus, “abounded with the yellow anemone, hepatica, and wood-sorrel; their blossoms were all closed. Who,” he asks, “has endowed plants with intelligence, to shut themselves up at the approach of rain ; even when the weather changes in a moment, from sunshine to rain, though before expanded, they immediately close!" Such are the enquiries which we should institute in connection with the less interesting part of our examination

[ocr errors]

of natural products; for though, perhaps, there are points, the solution of which might prove more useful; they are not so profitless as we might at first esteem them. The yellow goat's beard is an excellent time-keeper—so good an one, indeed, that the husbandman, who adopts it as the signal of dinner-time, need not fear to have his pudding too much, or too little boiled ; and there are few better barometers than the common chickweed. When the fower expands fully, we are not to expect rain for several hours; when it half-conceals its flower, the day is generally showery; and when it entirely shuts it up, let the traveller take the hint and put on his great coat.

It is too commonly received an opinion that the study of Natural History requires an intimate acquaintance with the learned languages; and, indeed, that it consists in little else; as if as much ceremony were required in approaching a flower, a leaf, or an insect, as is expected in our interviews with the great ones of mankind!” We must, therefore, again assure our young friends, that they may safely pluck the brown heather from the hills without first learning that they should address it as Erica vulgaris: that they may watch the transformations of the lady-bird before they know its more genteel name of Coccinella, septem-punctata ; and may take it from its favorite haunt on the leaf of the common carrot, without troubling themselves to know that this humble plant is the Daucus carota of the learned world.

So much for the study of Nature, and the wisdom and goodness of God displayed in the works of Creation. But the man, who has searched out and set in order many of her intricacies, must still feel a hungering and thirsting after something that it is not hers to give. The depth saith, “It is not in me;" and the sea saith, “ It is not with me.” All that he has learned, only serves to show him how much he has still to attain ; and if he have seen in the range of his researches something of the kindness and the love of God,“ the groans of nature in this nether world,” prove him to be a stranger to them, and shut him up to the only way of access to his favour through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ. If “Ignorance be the curse of God,” and one of the world's own poets has thus described it, how can he, whilst he struggles under it, and from every point he gains, see hundreds unattainable before him-how can he resist the conviction that must spring up within

his bosom, that he has no meetness for an inheritance among the saints, who know as they are known, or the communion of those who see His face, and bear his name, in whom there is no darkness at all!

But light is come into the world, and he is condemned because he loves darkness better. God is to be studied in the wonderful workings of his hand; but it is as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he gives us the true Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of himself. It is the gospel only that can transform us into his own image; and unless that be impressed upon us, we can never see him eye to eye and face to face.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN TO DO WITH YOURSELF? This question, which all who mean to do any good, will feel it a calamity to be unable to answer, was proposed by a brother one morning at the breakfast-table, to a young lady who had only the day before left school.

“Pray, what do you mean to do with yourself, Anna," said he, “now that you have done with all your governesses, and set up in right earnest for a young lady ?-Miss Franklin, the most"

Anna knew so well, and disliked hearing so much, the long list of perfections which her brother usually attached to the name of Miss Franklin, that she could not summon politeness enough to listen with patience, and hastily interrupting him, replied, “ I have not the least doubt I shall find something to do; but how is it possible for me to tell you this very first morning that I am at home, all I intend to do for the next four or five years ?”.

George.—“Oh! yes, indeed, but you ought; there's nothing like having a plan, and beginning dirtelv: lose the first morning, you know, and it is all over with you."

“Oh! George, how ridiculous!” said Lucy, a lively little girl of nine years old, “and so early in the day too."

George.—“ Little girls must not talk at breakfast time. Now, really, I am not in play, Anna; I do think your emplaments of the utmost importance. Young ladies, you know, in general, do nothing, absolutely nothing, at least of anyöönsequence.".

Lucy, unawed by her brother's assumed gravity, could not refrain from an exclamation : “Oh! George, now how can you . tell what we do, when you are in town all day?”

« ZurückWeiter »