« AnteriorContinuar »
gardens become cheerful and pleasant. Some flowers show themselves here and there, and invite che florist to observe them. The sweet and modest violet is one of the first productions of spring; its smell is so much the more agreeable, as we have been so long deprived of those delightful perfumes. The beautiful hyacinth rises insensibly in the midst of its leaves, and shows its little flowers, which equally delight the sight and smell. The crown imperial flower casts around it a multitude of starry leaves; its stalk rises high, and its red and yellow blossom, shaped like a bell, and inclining towards the earth, forms a sort of crown, with a tuft of leaves at the top. From the centre of its leaves the auricula raises its flower, which imitates the richness of satin and velvet; its elegant form and sweet perfume make amends for its want of stature. The tulip comes out more slowly; it does not yet venture to open, because the night air, or cold rain, might spoil the beauty of its colours. The ranunculus, the pink, and the rose, do not blow till milder days allow them to appear in full beauty. An attentive observer will find in these subjects, many reasons to admire the wisdom and goodness of his Creator.
It is for very wise purposes, that at the return of spring, each plant begins precisely, in the time and the order prescribed to it, to open its leaves and blossoms, and to prepare every thing for the production of its fruits. There is a constant succession of vegetables from the beginning to the end of the year. Some are scarcely visible, when others prepare to appear; and those are followed by several hundreds of others, which spring up each in their turn, and at the appointed time. Whilst the fruit of one plant is ripening, nature prompts another to propagate, that its fruit may be ready by the time the former has fulfilled its destination.
Thus nature continually offers us an agreeable succession of flowers and fruit. She leaves no void; and, from one end of the year to the other, she
watches over the successive generations of plants. But why has not our Creator given us the enjoyment of more plants at a time? The reason of it is evident. For how would it be, if all the flowers and fruit came at the same time? Would there not be seasons entirely without yegetables? Should we not be deprived of the pleasures which those agreeable and progressive changes procure us, by preventing the disgust inseparable from a sameness? How many plants would perish, if they were now exposed to the cold nights which are sometimes felt even in spring? Would so many millions of animals and insects find subsistence, if all the plants blossomed and bore fruit at the same time? The beneficent Creator has thus provided for our maintenance and pleasure. Those two views could only be fulfilled, by ordaining that nature should not produce all the vegetables at the same time, but successively, and by degrees. : pre
Let the lovely and sprightly, youth consider and behold in these flowers the image of themselves. They also are placed in a fertile soil, and have many charms for which they are beloved. . Observe how soon the violet, the auricula, and the hyacinth fade, when the north wind blows upon them. · Young man, think of the shortness of thy days, and be not vain of the flower of thy youth. Life is like unto grass; it flourishes as the flower of the field. " As soon as the wind goeth over it, it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more."
A SMALL number of birds pass the winter with us; but whole families have gone out of our countries. Some sought milder climates than ours; others found warm retreats in caves, in hollow ground, and other such places. By degrees those birds return to us. The mild air in spring awakens the swallow from his benumbed state; and a secret instinct brings back into their own countries, the birds which, lastautumn, · undertook a long passage beyond the seas, in search of subsistence, and of the climate their constitution required. Their return is usually in this order, that those who went earliest return soonest. · The air will be filled again with winged songsters. The groves will resound with the harmonious notes of the nightingale. The swallow will return to the nest it had built the year before. The stork will find the very house it left at the beginning of winter. In a few weeks, the air will resound with the songs of birds, and their return will fill the plains and the valleys with joy and gladness.
Two things particularly are remarkable in this emigration of birds. The first is, that they know exactly the time when they ought to return. " The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed time; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming." Undoubtedly the temperature of the air, in respect to heat and cold, and the natural inclination of those creatures to bring up their young, are their greatest motives for changing their place; but it is, in other respects, a very extraordinary instinct, and in some degree inexplicable. It is no less wonderful that those animals, void of reason, know so exactly the way they are to
go, and how far it is. Without compass or guide, without provision, and in the most regular order, they undertake and finish a journey of sometimes more than two thousand miles. Who then has taught them to follow a certain road in an element so inconstant as the air ? Who informs them how far they are gone, and how far they have yet to go? Who is it that guides, feeds, and furnishes them with all necessaries for their journey? Do not these animals do 'what men themselves would be unable to do? To undertake journeys of such a length, what experience, what assistance, what directions and preparations we require! Can we even, with the assistance of our reason, with a compass and geographical maps, follow so invariably the road over seas and mountains as the birds do? In whatever light we consider this, we may plainly discover a power superior to the mere instinct of animals. We must acknowledge, that an Almighty Power has impressed this instinct on the mind of the birds, which they so regularly follow.
· Pleasures which the Contemplation of Nature
affords: , s i
NATURE offers to all her children, with maternal goodness, the first, the most innocent, the least expensive, and most universal of all pleasures. It is that which our first parents enjoyed in paradise; and it is only the fallen state of man which makes him seek other pleasures. Men are apt to despise the daily blessings they enjoy, however excellent; and they only think of multiplying and varying their. amusements. It is certain, however, that the pleasure I speak of, is preferable to all others. It is almost impossible not to find charms in the contemplation of nature. And that it may be enjoyed without expence, is manifest; the poor as well as the rich may indulge in it. But that is what lessens the value of it. We are so foolish as not to prize what others share with us; while, if we were reasonable, nothing should give more value to a blessing, than the thought that it makes the happiness of our fellowcreatures as well as our own. In comparison of this pleasure, so noble and sensible, how trifling and vain are those far-fetched magnificent amusements, that the rich obtain with so much trouble and expence, which leave a certain void in the soul, always ending in disgust. Whereas nature, rich and beneficent, presents us continually with new objects. Pleasures, which are only the work of our own imagination, are of short duration, and vanish like the dream; the charms and illusions of them are lost at the moment of waking. But the pleasures of reason, and of the heart, those we enjoy in contemplating the works of God, are solid and lasting, because they open to us an inexhaustible source of new delights. The starry sky, the earth enamelled with flowers, the melodious songs of the birds, the various landscapes and prospects, every one delightful, may continually furnish us with new subjects for contemplation. If we are insensible to thesc, it is certainly our own fault; it is because we behold the works of nature with an inattentive and indifferent eye. The duty of a Christian consists in enjoying innocently all that surrounds him. He knows how to draw resources from every thing, and has the art of being happy under any circumstances, at little expence, and without danger unto his virtue. '.