To those who admit —and who can deny it ?—that flowers are a special and most unmerited gift to brighten the path which man's transgressions have darkened with sadness, and strewn with thorns, it is a touching circumstance that, be the seasons what they may, there is no month in the twelve without its attendant blossoms. If the human eye possessed a micoscropic power, what a spectacle of beauty would burst upon it, and that too in wintry time, among the family of mosses alone ! But such not being the extent of the visual organ entrusted to us, we are not left to go groping about with glasses. Enough is given to common ken to prompt a song of praise, "Wonderful are thy works, Lord God Almighty !"
It is a peculiar feature in this part of those wonderful works, that, although we lack not tall shrubs, even trees, that win the upturned eye to explore the abundance of their beautiful tints, still the far greater portion of our most valued flowers draw the gaze downwards, by their lowly stature ; while their owrn faces, raised to heaven, set us the example of looking thitherward. It is remarkable that the blossoms of lofty plants are most frequently pendulous ; those of the dwarf family the reverse. The golden clusters of the beautiful laburnum, and the shining silver of the yet lovelier acacia—how gracefully they bend and fall, as though ashamed of being placed so high ; while the innocent daisy, made to be trampled on, and her neighbour, the spruce little butter-cup, lift up their broad bright eye, in unreserved freedom. Thus the great one of the earth, when touched by divine grace, rejoices to be brought down, and the brother of low degree can also rejoice in that he is exalted into a greatness that the world knows not of.
This is a dreary season; bleak winds are abroad and the frequent snow-drift oppresses every bough. The holly's bright berry peeps out here and there ; but for flowers I may search in vain among the branches. I must look lower, and there they are —the regiments of soldiers, as my childish fancy termed them, that fail not to start up, keeping their appointed ranks in resolute defiance of all the artillery of winter. Far less elegant than the snowdrop, the CROCUS yet possesses a sprightly grace peculiar to itself. The former seems to endure adversity ; the latter to laugh at it. I allude to the bright yellow species, shedding a mimic sunshine upon beds of snow : there are others of the family more sober in aspect; looking tranquilly content in the spot where they have been placed; and, under all attendant circumstances, placidly cheerful. They seem to say, 'It is but for a little while ;
The storm of wintry time shall quickly pass, and we will not murmur that we at present feel their severity'.
The yellow crocus was my favourite in very early years ; but a small portion of experience sufficed to transfer my preference to its purple brother: and to it is attached a particular train of thought, now connecting in my mind its lowly station, and its quiet hue, with the memory of a humble, yet most vigorous and happy Christian, who, just as the earliest crocus was peeping forth in my garden, received his summons to depart and be with Christ.
He was an aged man ; the inmate of an almshouse ; situated, happily for him, on the confines of a church-yard. When first I knew him, he was drawing spiritual nourishment from the ministrations of a pastor whom he most dearly loved; and who seemed to have been commissioned to hold a temporary charge in that parish, for the purpose, among many others, of more brightly trimming the lamp of old B. At our frequent meetings in the spacious school-room, just by his cottage, how rejoicingly did the venerable believer listen to his pastor's exhortation—how devoutly did he fall down before the Lord, in fervent prayer— and what a privilege was it reckoned, among the Christians near his usual seat, to assist his trembling hands in turning over the leaves of the hymn-book : or to hold a candle near the page, assisting his dim sight, while his low, but distinct accents swelled the song of praise ! Often had I the delight of thus assisting him: and never shall I lose the remembrance of his bending figure and striking countenance. There was a singular intellectual character about the latter: his broad, full, lofty brow, and the fine expansion of his bald head, added to a really pleasing cast of features, never failed to arrest an observant eye ; and I have rarely noticed a manner so marked by perfect propriety, among those of his humble rank, who have been hailed as brethren beloved by men very much their superiors in worldly station. Old B. never aspired to rise above the level of a poor man in an almshouse; nor did he ever sink below that of the conscious heir to an everlasting and glorious kingdom.
After observing him at the prayer-meetings and the church, and ascertaining that my very favorable impressions were rather below than above what his character would justify, I one day met him in a little rural lane, carrying in his blue handkerchief some portion that had been given him from the larder of a rich person; and kindly saluting him by name, I asked, ' Are you travelling the safe and pleasant road, with the Lord Jesus Christ for company V He looked at me, the tremor of his frame increasing greatly from emotion, and quietly answered, ' I hope I am, lady, I hope I am: and so are you;' and then, after a short pause, he rather abruptly resumed, ' I have been thinking that we don't pray enough ; we should pray for all —especially for the Lord's people. We should pray particularly for those God loves—don't you think so V I readily assented, and he continued; 'And for the wicked : there would not be so much wickedness in the world, if we prayed as wre ought. God hears prayer: he hears my prayers •—and if I do not pray, I sin against him. But particularly for the Lord's people—for praying people,'—and with a respectful bow he went on, evidently pursuing the same train of thought, which had not been interrupted by my unexpected address.