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together, and then perhaps I can tell you somewhat concerning my doings, and my thoughts, when I was at your age, which may cause you to smile, as well as set you a thinking. So dry your eyes, and let us all go home, and to bed, as fast as we can.
When to-morrow morning came, the promise was not forgotten on either side, and Cousin Di being quite ready to redeem it, gave the following recital in substance, thus :
I had two elder sisters, named Mary and Clara, and we were all three in our early teens, when our father purchased a small estate in the country; we were joyous, giddy girls, although brought up in the midst of a large, crowded, and dingy city, where we saw no flowers, save those which we reared in pretty green wire baskets; and where we heard no singing birds, save the canaries and bullfinches imprisoned in their ornamented cages. Circumstances had hitherto prevented our parents from indulging either themselves or us, in rural pleasures; and the annual sea-side sojourn, although most delightful and renovating, yet left us free to wander in imagination through pasture lands, beside flowing streams and cottage gardens, where gently sloping hills formed the approach to richly wooded peaceful vales beyond. In such a valley our new home was situated, and it was called Sunniside ; bright were the anticipations with which we looked forward to the approaching summer, when we were to remove thither ; nor were they doomed to disappointment, as sanguine hopes often are. For the picturesque scenery surrounding Sunniside, and the thousand novelties greeting us at every turn, made us three girls agree in thinking no pictures in the annuals, no books of nature, had ever pourtrayed views half so lovely, as the bright realities before
We decided on becoming great gardeners, wonderful botanists, and industrious cultivators of the soil; and, moreover, our kind father permitted us each to have a portion of ground as our very own,' and to make choice for ourselves; beginning with Mary, the eldest of the two, after we had sufficiently explored the locality of the grounds, to enable us to form a prudent judgment.
Ah! how happy were these delicious explorings, and difficul. ties of decision! How hard to choose among such overflowing riches and profusion of nature's gifts! Mary at length announced that her choice was made : a small but beautiful rosery, surrounded by invisible rails, had completely won her heart; and she fixed upon that as her portion of the inheritance.
“I love roses so dearly,” she cried, “ that nothing else can be half so enchanting as this rosery. 0 I shall tend it by day, and dream of it by night! I never, never can tire of roses, nor wish to see another flower when I possess them !”.
“ These rhapsodies would not be excusable, my dear Mary," said our mother, “were due allowances not made for the novelty, as well as the undoubted beauty of your rosery."
“Novelty, mamma,” cried Mary deprecatingly; “ do you think it possible I could ever tire of it ?"
“ Not ouly possible, but probable, my dear,” quietly responded our mother ; " and if you follow my advice, you will choose a greater variety—a few other flowers for instance. Suppose you fix on the pleasant plot bounded by the strawberry beds; there are brilliant rainbow tints, and rose bushes intermingled, to say nothing of that picturesque old apple tree with its spreading branches.”
“ Ah! mamma, what is all this in comparison with the sweet rosery ?” sighed Mary. “No, no, I am sure its sameness can never weary me. I wish for nothing more.”
“ Be it so, then, my dear,” replied our tender mother ; “but let me recommend you to carefully study the history of the rose tree, and to endeavour to improve your stock. It is not so much the rose, fair as it is, and varied in its loveliness, which endears it to us; it is the associations : for the rose is the type of love, and of death, the corpse crown, and the bride's. In our own country, a high historic interest attaches to this flower ; but perhaps one of the most charming practices with which roses are associated, was that festival in honour of virtue, instituted in the sixth century by the good Bishop of Noyon. The prize, a coronal of roses, was bestowed on the girl who was acknowledged by her compeers to be the most amiable, dutiful, and modest. There is a great deal to learn, my Mary, about these poetical blossoms, which to the initiated whisper so many sweet remembrances.”
I had already fixed on my portion ; this was a strip of kitchengarden, bounded on one side by a noble hedgerow of peas, and encircled by beans on the other. There were gooseberry and currant bushes, cabbages in scores, brocoli and turnips, and, in short, many vegetables were raised here in their seasons.
I had a great ambition to be called a “sensible girl," a thrifty manager," superior to feminine weakness, preferring the useful to the ornamental. Besides, I was a little bit of a gourmand myself in the vegetable line, and to supply the table with the earliest and best would be gratifying in all respects. Not that I despised flowers, but I could not, I fancied, attend to both; and would not the fragrance of the powering beans, and the blossoming of the peas, be doubly interesting on account of their promise ?
As to my second sister, Clara, she was completely puzzled ; and after much wandering about in various directions, and changing her mind daily, she had very nearly decided on selecting the spot of ground named by our dear mother, where the luxuriant strawberry beds flourished, overshadowed by the old apple-tree.
“ The sloping banks down to the rapid streamlet's margin are favourable to the growth and ripening of this delicious fruit; and
have no doubt they are magnificent strawberries,” suggested our mother,
“By the by, mamma,” interrupted Clara, eagerly, “I wonder where that sparkling rivulet wanders to ? I think I will explore it, ere finally deciding. I have a strange presentiment that I shall find something quite as unique and attractive as Mary's rosery!"
A few hours after this conversation, Clara came bounding to where Mary was standing, in the midst of her newly-acquired property, complacently contemplating it; breathless with running, Clara triumphantly exclaimed, “There is but one violet cave, as well as one rosery, at Sunniside! Come with me, Mary, come with me--I have fixed on my portion now and for ever! Ah! there is little Di amongst her cabbages; come with us, Di, dearcome away I and I will lead you both to the Fairy Queen's own private violet garden! Nobody ever loved violets as I do!-better than you love roses, Mary; better than Di loves cabbages. Am I not a lucky girl? Haste, and follow me!”
We followed Clara in her rapid flight by the side of the meandering bourn, through a thick copse and tangled underwood, which scratched and tore our hands and muslin dresses woefully; but we heeded not this in our excitement. We crossed some wooden planks thrown carelessly over the rivulet,-a slippery bridge we found it and came to a succession of rocky projections, past which the water tumbled in miniature cataracts. There was a narrow pathway beside the stream,- , --so narrow that we could only advance one by one. Presently the rocks met nearly over head, leaving a chink for daylight to peep through ; thus forming a sort of cave, through which the water gently glided,-here attaining a repose in unison with the shadowy scene. The rocks were hol. lowed out-natural tiny caverns, whose flooring was carpeted with emerald moss; and such beds of violets, laved and refreshed by the dainty moisture, that their fragrance was absolutely overpowering: What with the green verdure, the delicious perfume, and the modest beauties all beneath our feet, it was indeed an enchanted spot! We could not step without crushing them, and we had literally beds of violets on which to repose our wearied limbs!
We crowned Clara forth with “Queen of the Violet Cave," and heartily congratulated her on the fortunate discovery of such a domain.
“I shall often come and see you, Clara,” said Mary,“ in your beautiful retirement. How pleasant
, during the burning days of summer, it will be to sit and read here !"
“ And I,” cried Clara, “mean to visit you, dear Mary, when the rosy summer morn is breaking,—when the early dew glistens on the bosoms of your blushing nurslings.”
“And won't you both come and see poor little Di in her cabbage garden ?" quoth I, “and help to cut the vegetables for dinner, and to gather the gooseberries and currants ?”
“Yes, dear Di, that we will !” exclaimed both my sisters toge
ther, laughing heartily; "and we will help you, Di, dear, to gather the snails and slugs that will haunt the best tended cabbage gardens.”
“I wonder where mamma means to have her garden ?" said Mary, musingly; "she decides last of all, for dear mamma insisted on our choosing first."
“I think mamma will take the strawberry-beds,” said I, "and the varied and variegated flower-plots beside the old apple-tree. Mamma will have a variety there, and I have often heard her say she likes that. Certainly, it is the prettiest spot at Sunniside, excepting the rosery and violet cave.”
“And your cabbage-garden, Di, dear," said both together, kissing me at the same time.
When next summer came round we all three exclaimed, “What a delightful variety mamma has ! She supplies us with such exquisite bouquets, and such delicious strawberries and currauts. What apples, too, there will be on the dear old tree,-it was so full of peerless blossom!"
We never tired of roaming in that variegated flower-garden, and Mary hinted that she thought a few other flowers interspersed amongst her roses would have a good effect; while Clara requested a few roots of lilies of the valley, to vary the monotony of her violet cave. As for me, I begged and borrowed from all in turn,roses, violets, lilies, and hyacinth-bells ; I tried in vain to coax a humble wall-flower and a gaudy tulip, to fraternise with my vegetables, but they afforded such a fine feast to the snails and caterpillars of the locality, that bare skeletons only were left, and I was quizzed unmercifully.
Nor did Mary and Clara escape ; for our wise parents would not allow any alteration whatever to be made in the rosery or violetcave. “For,” said they, “they are each perfect in tbeir original condition ; as you found them, so they must be left. But next summer," continued our kind mother, “I will gladly give up the superintendence of my garden to you dear girls ; then you will have gained experience, I hope, and tend it together for me. Only do not forget the easy lesson thus pleasingly acquired. Remember that, although roses are peerless and fragrant, we should be weary in time of never seeing anything but roses,-all roses; or violets, all violets; or cabbages, all cabbages. Elegance may be combined with usefulness, and variety with prudence and simplicity; for extremes are ever best to be avoided."
“And so, my dear cousin,” said Mrs. Diana Sage, as she concluded, “I have never forgotten this sweet lesson of my early, happy days. Do you think you can apply the moral of it?— moderation in enjoyment, and prudence in variety."
C. A. M. W.
The enemies of the Church, and the advocates of any and no Creed, have employed a weapon which we are sorry not to see as extensively wielded by the Church herself. This has been, to infuse into books of entertainment, instruction, or popular interest, the sentiments which the writers wish to inculcate, and which are thus unsuspectingly imbibed by great numbers of readers, and of very different classes. Open latitudinarianism, or professed attacks on the Church, will revolt many readers, who will put up with a modification of both in a book otherwise useful or amusing, and from toleration proceed perhaps to adoption. The leaven of this kind pervading our popular literature is almost incredible in extent. It was through a popular work that the infidel conspirators indoctrinated France; and it is through like works that a similar process is going on amongst us; not that the virus is absolute Infidelity for the most part, though sometimes it is even that; but, though believed, perhaps, by those who disperse it, to be some kind of Christianity, it is what must inevitably generate the same result as palpable Infidelity in the spiritual system. We would gladly see Church principles in like manner impregnating our books of science, of useful and entertaining knowledge, of poetry, and even of fiction—for without any partiality for the so-called religious novel, which generally produices irreverent, shallow, and disputatious readers, we cannot be insensible to the vast influence of novels on a population like ours, where so many like the pleasure of reading, while they shrink from the pain of study. Poetry may almost, in this respect, be left to take care of itself—for it is remarkable that, even where the poet will not acknowledge the Church, his poetry is faithful. Like Balaam, he has a divine inspiration, and his lips, against his will, give utterance to the truths against which his heart rebels. In poetry, the unbelieving Byron worships in S. Peter's; the puritanic Milton soars to heaven on the strains of a choral service, amid all the solemnities of a Gothic Cathedral; and the Socinian Longfellow becomes a reverent Catholic.
The little book before us is entitled to notice on the ground which we have indicated. Though not in any sense written for the express exhibition of Church principles, there is nevertheless a Church principle throughout it. The tales are three in number —the best, in our opinion, being the first. It would occupy too much space, beside anticipating
and disappointing the intending readers of the volume, to enter on any analysis of the narratives.
* Mary Gray, and other Tales and Verses. By the author of “The Dis. cipline of Life,“ Clare Abbey,” &c. London: Hoby. 1852.