There are many disadvantages in writing periodically on a given subject. Other engagements, combined which the treacherous spirit of procrastination, will lead us to defer the work, until the consciousness of a waiting press throws a feeling of hurry and anxiety upon the mind, which is sure to fetter its operations, just as they need to be most vigorously performed. It was under such a consciousness, that I strolled forth this morning to look upon the languid flowers. A long drought had sadly changed the aspect of my usually soft and verdant grass-plat; the trees that cluster around it presenting quite an autumnal tint, from the number of faded leaves ; while, on the border open to the south, such an array of shrivelled petals and whithering buds disfigured the tall rose-trees that expanded upon the wall, that while I gazed, my spirit drooped in sullen sympathy; and having bound some straggling carnations to the sticks which I could scarcely drive into the baked soil, I returned to my study, with as little inclination to write about flowers, as a sick person usually has to partake of a substantial meal.
On a sudden, and most unexpectedly, a dark cloud which had rapidly overspread the sky, burst, in one of those downright soaking rains that bid fair to penetrate even to the roots of the earth. This was accompanied by a breeze, so rough as to bend low the lighter trees, and to toss with some violence the branches of the more stable. Thus, while the rain freshened all that retained life, the wind separated what was dead, bearing it far away, and leaving the exhilarated scene to sparkle in its summer beauty. Who could look on this, and fail to apply the expressive acknowledgement —" Thou, 0 Lord, sentest a gracious rain upon thine inheritance, and refreshedst it when it was weary".
I now can augur well for my carnations, planted rather unadvisedly, I confess, in that unshaded south border. Some will wonder that I should suffer them to droop for lack of moisture, while the simple contrivance of a watering-pot is within reach. But, though I do occasionally give the garden such artificial refreshments, I find that the hard spring water, which alone is at hand, affords a very insufficient substitute for the distillations of the sky. This, too, is good for me—it teaches me to look up and to acknowledge my soul's continual dépendance on that which man cannot supply. The garden of Eden was Adam's only Bible, and sweetly, no doubt, did he meditate upon the living page ; a book more precious meets our far deeper wants ; but the first volume, with all its sin-wrought blemishes, when interpreted by the second, is a study that I would not forego for any work of human wisdom.
I must not, however, lose sight of my carnations : they have reference to some reminiscences in which I must indulge. Not that the character which I connect with them, bears any resemblance to the flower ; but those delicate flowers grew in great profusion round the lowly cottage of old Dame C, and, as the sole, acknowledgment that poverty could make, I was invariably presented with the choicest of that elegant store, when I commenced visiting her : until I come so to identify them, that, if I had been more than a day or two absent, the sight of a carnation would send me ofT, conscience-stricken, to my instructive post.
Dame C. could find no gratification in the flower-garden : for twelve years she had been totally blind ; and when she had lain for full two years on a bed, where rheumatic affection of the limbs forbade her even the luxury of changing her position, without an effort quite agonizing to her crippled frame. I want to pourtray the family as I found them ; and shall endeavour so to do.
A beloved friend, whose faithful labours in the ministry had shed the light of Goshen within many a detached cottage, where all besides was darkness—yea, darkness that might be felt—was removed from among us. At his departure, I was told of Dame C., as one who would surely feel the loss, and requested to look in upon her occasionally. It was not long before I visited the cottage ; and certainly a less attractive scene I could hardly have encountered.
On entering the little kitchen, the first object that presented itself was the countenance of a boy, in the very lowest state of confirmed idiotcy; his open mouth distorted into a wild laugh, and disfigured by a frightful scar, occasioned by his falling upon the wood fire. This deplorable being sat in a little chair ; his long mis-shapen legs and arms were alike powerless; and altogether the first sight of him was enough to check my wish for further acquaintance with the cottagers. However, I proceeded, and saw a very old man sitting . near the fire; while a middle-aged woman, of a very serious and even sad countenance, respectfully welcomed her visitor.
' Is this your little boy V said I, trying to reconcile myself to the spectacle.
'No, madam, he is a friendless child,' cast by the Lord on such poor help as we can give him'.
'Where is Dame C. ?'
'I will take you to her:' and then, with great tenderness lifting the boy in her arms, who at eight years old, had the length (not height, for he could not stand) of ten or twelve, she preceeded us into the adjoining room; which w7as in so dilapidated a state that light penetrated the roof in many places, where the covering of turf had sunk in between the open rafters, presenting an aspect of great poverty, and accounting for the rheumatic pains to which the inmate was" subject.
The dame lay on her very humble but clean bed; and again I shrunk back. Her face was drawn into innumerable wrinkles, its expression indicating great suffering, and something about the eyelids that gave a vague idea of the forcible extinction of sight. She seemed a personification of misery, and there was a heavy vacant look that almost discouraged me from speaking to her. Still I strove against the repugnant feeling, and spoke gently and kindly, inquiring how she felt herself,