Spring, in this country, is not the tedious jade that she is in England, keeping one waiting from February till June, while she makes her toilet, and fairly puts her foot on the daisy-spangled turf. For the most part, she comes to us with a quick bound; and, to make amends for being late, she showers down such a wealth of blossoms, that our gardens and orchards, at the end of April, look as if they were turned into fairy parterres, so loaded are they especially the fruit trees with beauty and promise. An American spring may be said to commence fairly with the blossom of the apricot or the elm tree, and end with the ripening of the first strawberries.
To end with strawberries! What a finale to one's life. More sanguinary, perhaps (as there is a stain left on one's fingers sometimes), but not less delicious than to "Die of a rose in aromatic pain".
But it is a fitting close to such a beautiful season to end with such a fruit as this. We believe, indeed, that strawberries, if the truth could be known, are the most popular of fruits. People always affect to prefer the peach, or the orange, or perhaps the pear; but this is only because these stand well in the world are much talked of and can give "the most respectable references." But take our word for it, if the secret preference, the concealed passion, of every lover of fruit could be got at, without the formality of a public trial, the strawberry would be found out to be the little betrayer of hearts. Was not Linnaeus cured of the gout by them? And did not even that hard-hearted monster, Richard the III, beseech "My Lord of Ely" to send for some of "the good strawberries" from his garden at Holborn? Nay, an Italian poet has written a whole poem, of nine hundred lines or more, entirely upon strawberries. "Strawberries and sugar" are to him what "sack and sugar" was to Falstaff - - "the indispensable companion - - the sovereign remedy for all evil the climax of good." In short, he can do no more in wishing a couple of new married friends of his the completest earthly happiness, than to say
"E a dire che ogni cosa lieta vada, Su le Fragole it zucchero le cada".
In short, to sum up all that earth can prize, May they have sugar to their strawberries!
There are few writers who have treated of the spring and its influences more fittingly than some of the English essayists; for the English have the key to the poetry of rural life. Indeed, we cannot perhaps give our readers greater pleasure than by ending this article with the following extract from one of the papers of that genial and kindly writer, Leigh Hunt:
"The lightest thoughts have their roots in gravity; and the most fugitive colors of the world are set off by the mighty background of eternity. One of the greatest pleasures of so light and airy a thing as the vernal season, arises from the consciousness that the world is young again; that the spring has come round; that we shall not all cease, and be no world. Nature has begun again, and not begun for nothing. One fancies somehow that she could not have the heart to put a stop to us in April or May. She may pluck away a poor little life here and there; nay, many blossoms of youth, but not all, not the whole garden of life. She prunes, but does not destroy. If she did, if she were in the mind to have done with us, to look upon us as a sort of experiment not worth going on with, as a set of ungenial and obstinate compounds, which refused to co-operate in her sweet designs, and could not be made to answer in the working, depend upon it, she would take pity on our incapability and bad humors, and conveniently quash us in some dismal, sullen winter's day, just at the natural dying of the year, most likely in November; for Christmas is a sort of spring itself a winter flowering. We care nothing for arguments about storms, earthquakes, or other apparently unseasonable interruptions of our pleasures. We imitate, in that respect, the magnanimous indifference, or what appears to be such, of the great mother herself, knowing that she means us the best in the gross; and also that we may all get our remedies for these evils in time, if we will only co-operate. People in South America, for instance, may learn from experience, and build so as to make a comparative nothing of those rockings of the ground. It is of the gross itself that we speak; and sure we are, that with an eye to that, Nature does not feel as Pope ventures to say she does, or sees 'with equal eye'
'Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd, And now a bubble burst, and now a world.'
"He may have flattered himself that he should think it a fine thing for his little poetship to sit upon a star, and look grand in his own eyes, from an eye so very dispassionate; but Nature, who is the author of passion, and joy, and sorrow, does not look upon animate and inanimate, depend upon it, with the same want of sympathy. 'A world' full of hopes, and loves, and endeavors, and of her own life and loveliness, is a far greater thing in her eyes, rest assured, than a 'bubble;' and, a fortiori, many worlds, or a 'system,' far greater than the 'atom,' talked of with so much complacency by this divine little whipper-snapper. Ergo, the moment the kind mother gives promise of a renewed year, with these green and budding signals, be certain she is not going to falsify them; and that being sure of April, we are sure as far as November. As for an existence any further, that, we conceive, depends somewhat upon how we behave ourselves; and therefore we would exhort everybody to do their best for the earth, and all that is upon it, in order that it and they may be thought worth continuance.
"What! Shall we be put into a beautiful garden, and turn up our noses at it, and call it a 'vale of tears,' and all sorts of bad names (helping thereby to make it so), and yet confidently reckon that nature will never shut it up, and have done with it, or set about forming a better stock of inhabitants? Recollect, we beseech you, dear ' Lord Worldly Wiseman,' and you, 'Sir Having,' and my 'Lady Greedy,' that there is reason for supposing that man was not always an inhabitant of this very fashionable world, and somewhat larger globe; and that perhaps the chief occupant before him was only an inferior species to ourselves (odd as you may think it), who could not be brought to know what a beautiful place he lived in, and so had a different chance given him in a different shape. Good heavens! If there were none but mere ladies and gentlemen, and city-men, and soldiers, upon earth, and no poets, readers, and milkmaids, to remind us that there is such a thing as Nature, we really should begin to tremble for Almacks and Change Alley (the 'upper ten' and Wall-street), about the 20th of next October".