First ana purest of the flowers of spring, the snowdrop conies at a time when the heart of man pants after, and longs for, the soft influences of summer; when the snows of winter still lie upon the ground, and the northern blasts wage furious battle with the oft-baffled but ever-conquering breezes of the south. Pure and white as the veil through which the snowdrop pierces and lifts its modest head, it has been aptly termed by Montgomery " the morning-star of flowers." It is the bright harbinger of spring; the first sweet messenger sent to Earth by Flora to ascertain whether the frosts are mitigated, and to announce to man the speedy advent of her floral favours. The snowdrop has, therefore, been made the emblem of consolation; and there are few, we should think, who would deny that the emblem is most appropriate, for every one who dwells in northern climes must feel the depressing effects of long-continued winter, and experience the gladsome consolation that flows from the first balmy breeze and the first sweet flower of spring.
" Fair-handed Spring unbosoms every grace.— Throws out the snowdrop and the crocus first."
There is but one species of the genus; which circumstance renders its emblematic signification the more perfect, for there is but one source whence all true consolation can be derived.
The snowdrop is thus addressed by Wordsworth:—
"Lone flower, hemmed in with snows, and white as they, '
Rut hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend.
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day
Storms sallying from the mountain-tops waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend.
Yet ait thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise!"
It was long a point of dispute whether the snowdrop was an indigenous English plant. We are glad to find that botanists are now agreed in recognising it as a native of our soil. It grows abundantly in a wild state in Lancashire, where it is much prized. It is highly esteemed and loved in all parts of our land as the first and the fairest of flowers.