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For its beleaguered brethren; suppliantly
It prays stern Winter to withdraw his troop
Of winds and blustering storms; and having won
A smile of promise from its pitying foe,
Returns to tell the issue of its errand

To the expectant host. With the snowdrop appears another messenger of spring—the clustering crocus, with its purple, white, or orange blossoms

Lowly, sprightly, little flower!

Herald of a brighter bloom,
Bursting in a sunny hour

From th:y winter tomb. Towards the end of March, we begin to feel and see that spring is with us once more; for then we find the primrose in tolerable plenty in the woods and on the shady banks. A few pale primroses are to be met with earlier in the year; and a writer in the 'Leisure Hour' thus describes how a boy botanist of the country hunts after them :

Little Dick knows a copse that slants towards the south, and off he goes and plunges into it, up to his knees, in the withered leaves of last summer; and with considerable more fuss than the occasion demands, he kicks and tosses them about right and left, watching, lynx-eyed the while, for the first pale primrose of the year. There are but very few of them to be got, but so much the greater the glory of getting them; and the first there are Dick gets, and scampers off with them to his mother, whose loving face lights up with a smile at the sight of them.

Pale, indeed, are the first primroses, and very often are they discovered all bedabbled with tears, as if weeping at the rough usage of the blustering March winds. Upon an early primrose, Kirke White says :

Mild offspring of a dark and sullen sire !
Whose modest form, so delicately fine,

Was nurs'd in whirling storms,

And cradled in the winds.
Thee when young Spring first question'd Winter's sway,
And dar'd the sturdy blusterer to the fight,

Thee on this bank he threw
To mark the victory.

And when this flower is found in goodly numbers, all children will agree with what Clare has written :

Welcome, pale primrose! starting up between

Dead matted leares of ash and oak that strew
The every lawn, the wood, and spinney through,
'Mid creeping moss and ivy's darker green;
How much thy presence beautifies the ground !

How sweet thy modest unaffected pride

Glows on the sunny bank and wood's warm side !
And where thy fairy flowers in groups are found,
The school-boy roams enchantedly along,

Plucking the fairest with a rude delight:
While the meek shepherd stops his simple song,

To gaze a moment on the pleasing sight;
O’erjoyed to see the flowers that truly bring

The welcome news of sweet returning spring. Although this is one of the floral harbingers of spring, yet we must wait till May before the ripe primrose clusters in dense masses, offering whole bouquets of its delicate flowers to a single grasp.' Then it is that children so much delight in roaming through the woods and along the banksides, from whence they return home heavily laden with their fragrant spoils. The fact of the profuse occurrence of the primrose' everywhere'is dwelt upon by Robert Nicoll :

The milkwhite blossoms of the thorn

Are waving o'er the pool,
Moved by the wind that breathes along,

So sweetly and so cool.
The hawthorn clusters bloom above,

The primrose hides below,
And on the lonely passer-by

A modest glance doth throw!
The humble primrose' bonnie face

I meet it everywhere ;
Where other flowers disdain to bloom,

It comes and nestles there.
Like God's own light, on every place

In glory it doth fall ;
And where its dwelling-place is made,

It straightway hallows all !
Caroline Southey thus writes of the primrose :-

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I saw it in my evening walk,

A little lonely flower-
Under a hollow bank it grow,

Deep in a mossy bower.
An oak's gnarled root, to roof the cave,

With Gothic fretwork sprung,
Where jewelled fern, and arum leaves,

And ivy garlands hung.
And close beneath came sparkling out,

From an old tree's fallen shell,
A little rill, that clipt about

The lady in her cell.
No ruffling wind could reach her there-

No eye, methought, but mine,
Or the young lambs that came to drink,

Had spied her secret shrine. The fragrance of the primrose is most attractive and refreshing. A large handful of tender, creamy primroses is never to be had save in the sweet spring-time, and hence they speak to us of mossy dells and glens, where they have sprung up at the first call of its breezy voice, to await the coming of the cuckoo and the thrush, to afford sweet food for the bee, and the first butterfly of the year, and to rejoice the hearts of young children.'

PART III.

THE VIOLET, DAFFODIL, DAISY, AND BUTTERCUP. With the primrose, the March violets make their first appearance. These are, indeed, the violets of the year, as it is they only that can boast a sweet odour, all the later varieties being scentless, or nearly so.

This flower nestles among the tall grass in its quiet solitude, the type of modesty and humility. We all learn in childhood the simple verses

Down in a green and shady bed

A modest violet grew;
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.

N

And yet it was a lovely flower,

Its colours bright and fair ;
It might have graced a rosy bower,

Instead of hiding there.

Yet there it was content to bloom,

In modest tints arrayed ;
And there diffused a sweet perfume,

Within its silent shade.

Dick, the country boy botanist, is described as knowing a bankówhereon the nodding violet blows,' only he says nothing as to its whereabouts; but he starts off at dawn some dewy morning, gathers the first violets, and brings them home to adorn the mantelpiece, and there they are, smelling sweetly at breakfast-time, and proclaiming to the whole household his industry and sagacity.*

On this favourite flower, Moultrie wrote :

Under the green hedges, after the snow,
There do the dear little violets grow,
Hiding their modest and beautiful heads
Under the hawthorn in soft mossy beds.

Sweet as the roses, and blue as the sky,
Down there do the dear little violets lie,
Hiding their heads where they searce may be seen:
By the leaves you may know where the violet hath been.

The daffodil is another of the early spring flowers. Herrick says

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon ;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon:

Stay, stay,
Until the hast'ning day

Has run
But to the even-song;
And having pray'd together, we

Will go with you along !

* Leisure Hour.

Wordsworth writes :

I wandered lonely as a cloud,
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils ;
Beside a lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky-way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. As spring advances, another flower— the daisyincreases in numbers, till, in the merry month of May,' every meadow, every green field, and every hedge-bank in the country, is gay with its pretty flowers. But though in May the daisy is in the height of its beauty, it blossoms at all seasons and everywhere. This is well expressed by Montgomery in the following simple

verses:

There is a flower, a little flower,

With silver crest and golden eye,
That welcomes every changing hour,

And weathers every sky.
It smiles upon the lap of May,

To sultry August spreads its charms,
Lights pale October on its way,

And twines December's arms.
The purple heath, and golden broom,

On moory mountains catch the gale;
O'er lawns the lily sheds perfume,

The violet in the vale :
But this bold floweret climbs the hill,

Hides in the forest, haunts the glen,
Plays on the margin of the rill,

Peeps round the fox's den.
The lambkin crops its crimson gem;

The wild-bee murmurs on its breast;
The blue-fly bends its pensile stem

Light o'er the skylark's nest.

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