Should any of my readers have amused themselves by conjecturing which, among the increasing variety of floral gems that herald the spring, would be brought forward as appropriate to the month of March, they will probably be disappointed. The delicate primrose may look forth from its crisp leaves; the fragrant violet may volunteer, in its natural and emblematical beauty, to furnish a grateful type; but the parterre, with all its attraction, must be passed by; for, among the long grass at the bottom of the garden, in the most uncultivated, neglected spot, lurks the object of which we are now in quest:—invisible, as yet; unless prematurely unfolded by the influence of more genial weather than we can reasonably anticipate at this blustering season : but sure to lift up its simple head, in the freshness of healthful vegetation, before three weeks have passed away. Yes, the Shamrock must occupy the station of a flower for once, and why should it not ? England displays, as her symbol, the glowing rose,—Scotland, the lilac tuft of her hardy and gigantic thistle,—and alas ! poor Erin's green shamrock has too often outblushed them both, as the life-blood of many a victim oozed forth upon the sod, under the iron reign of spiritual tyranny, which still sharpens, for its own dark purposes, the weapons of civil discord ; wading onward, through rivers of blood, to the goal of its insatiable ambition.
But I must not identify the gentle shamrock with themes so revolting; I have pleasanter combinations in view, and long to introduce to my read ers the companion with whom, for seven succes sive years, I sought out the symbol so dear to his patriotic heart, and watched the prayerful expres sion of his countenance, while he gazed upon it He was dumb ; no articulate sound had ever passed his lips, no note of melody had ever penetrated his closed ear, but the 'Ephphatha' had reached his heart; and, oh ! how full, how rich, how sweet, how abiding was the communion which he held with his adored Redeemer!
The Trish have a tradition, that when St. Patrick first proclaimed among their fathers the glad tidings of salvation, making known to them the existence of the tri-une Jehovah, the greatness of tha mystery perplexed and staggered his disciples.
They urged those cavils wherewith poor natural reason loves to oppose the revelations of infinite wisdom. 'How, they asked, ' can three be one ? how can one be three'. The missionary stooped to gather a shamrock leaf, which grew at his feet; telling them, that God had carpeted their beautiful island with an illustration of what they considered so incomprehensible: and thenceforth, say the legends, the shamrock was adopted as a symbol of the faith embraced by christianized Ireland. This, I know, that, with a shamrock in my hand, I have gained access to many an Irish heart, while my auditors eagerly listened to whatever I might preach, upon the text of St. Patrick.
The dumb boy fully understood all this: he frequently alluded to it: and sweet it is to reflect, that he whose tongue was silent on earth, is singing a new and glorious song before the throne of that Incomprehensible one, whom he knew and adored—as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier— while seeing through a glass more dark, perhaps, than that which we are privileged to use : whom he now knows, even as he is known : whom he now adores, with energies set free from the deadening weight of sinful flesh, perfected even into the image of his Saviour's glory.
Before nineteen years had rolled over him, Jack was summoned to enter into this enjoyment: and I do not hesitate to affirm, the broadest, deepest, most unequivocal seal of adoption into God's family-was visibly impressed upon him, during the last seven years of his gentle and peaceful life. His character shone with a bright, yet calm and unostentatious consistency—he adorned his lowly station with such quiet endurance of the world's lifted heel, and stood so unharmed in the midst of its pollutions, evermore revived by the dews of divine grace, and exhibiting so attractive, though imperfect an image of Him, who formed him to shew forth his praise, that I could find no type so expressive of him, as his own native shamrock ; even had not the fervency of his patriotism, which was really enthusiastic, crowned the resemblance.
But another circumstance, never to be erased from my fondest recollection, has inseparably combined that boy's image with the shamrock leaf. I had taken him from his parents, at the age of eleven: and it will readily be believed, that the grateful love which he bore to me, as his only instructor and friend, extended itself to those who were dear to me. There was one, round whom all the strings of my heart had entwined from the cradle. Jack appeared to understand, better than any one else ever did, the depth of my affection for this precious relative, and most ardently did the boy love him. He went to Ireland ; and Jack remained in England, with me. Many weeks had not passed, before our hearts were wrung by the intelligence, that this beloved object had been snatched away, by a sudden and violent death. The shock, the grief, that preyed upon the boy's affectionate heart, while witnessing what I endured, proved too much for him, and led to the lingering decline which, after years of suffering, terminated his mortal existence.
It was some months after my family bereavement, that, on the dawn of Patrick's day, I summoned Jack to sally forth, and gather shamrocks. To my surprise, he declined putting one in his hat; and when I rallied, remonstrated, and at last almost scolded him, he only repeated the gentle movement of the hand, which implied rejection, sometimes spelling, no,—no. I was puzzled at this ; especially as a d^ep shade of pensiveness overcast a countenance that always was dressed in smiles on Patrick's day. I was also vexed at his want of sympathy, on a subject on which we had always agreed so well—love for dear Ireland. In the middle of the day, I took him out with me, and again tendered the sliamrock : but could not persuade him to mount it higher than his bosom. Seeing an Irish youth pass, with the national crest, I pointed to him, saying, ' That good boy loves Ireland : bad Jack does not love it.' This touched him nearly : he answered sorrowfully, ' Yes, Jack very much loves poor Ireland.' I shook my head, pointing to his hat; and, unable to bear the reproach, he reluctantly told me, while his eyes swam in tears, that he could not wear it in his hat, for shamrocks now grew on---'s grave.