Page images
PDF
EPUB

up capsules, or urns, which look like tiny spears beneath their coverings. How carefully and curiously are their seeds shielded from wind and rain. There is an outer covering, called a veil, that resembles in shape head-dress worn by ladies of rank in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; beneath this is a lid, generally with a fantastically bent beak, and besides these, surrounding the mouth of the capsule, is a fringe divided into segments, called teeth, mostly of a pink colour. The number of teeth are four, or a multiple, 8, 16, 32, 64. Some of the acrocarpi section of mosses have a double row of teeth. And the beautiful hypnums (feather mosses) that the summer had turned to yellow or brown-green, throw out new fronds, as well as capsules.

But not alone do mosses delight in fog and moisture. Most species of the bus tribe of lichens flourish early winter; for, although their dwellings are fences, trees, walls, &c. they feed on the dews and rains of heaven. Some of them hang like a grey beard from bushes, trees, and pales; and others, yellow and grey, that were hidden under the leaves of the hawthorn hedge, again show their gay and delicate beauty on its stems and branches. The trunks of full grown trees, and even fences and walls, are covered by the lecanoras and their allies, with their shields, as the seed vesels are called, in full perfection.

Some of the evergreen ferns, as the common or ash polypody, hard fern, the bart's-tongue, the black maiden-hair, and the prickly ferns, are very beautiful, with their fresh green, elegantly shaped fronds, and may be preserved in water, frequently changed, for weeks, and thus help to adorn rooms, even at Christmas; and so may the ivy, most beautiful in the winter, with its finely veined leaves. How fresh and pretty it looks in a glass vase, filled with transparent water.

The lanes, and fields, and woods, are not quite silent. The soft sound of fitting wings is frequently heard, and robin, dear domestic robin, warbles his clear, sweet song, and the starling's plaintive “oh dear !" may sometimes be heard, or the sentinel-rook's “caw!" to announce danger to his feeding comrades.

Hoar frost, if it make our fingers ache, gives us a short-lived vision of strange beauty and splendour, when it adorns even dead twigs and straws with gems.

Dull, dirty, dreary winter, we welcome thee, and thy cold, and thy sights of loveliness, and low sounds of promised warblings; we welcome thee as a gift from Eternal Wisdom and Goodness.

J. A.

A PARABLE.
WORN and footsore was the prophet,
When he gained the holy hill:
"God has left the earth," he murmured,
" Here his presence lingers still.
God of all the olden prophets,
Wilt thou speak with men no more:
Have I not as truly served thee,
As thy ekosen ones of yore?
Hear me, guider of my fathers,
Lo! a humble heart is mine.
By thy mercy, I beseech thee,
Grant thy servant but a sign."
Bowing then his head, he listened
For an answer to his prayer.
No loud burst of thunder followed,
Not a murmur stirred the air.
But the tuft of moss before him
Opened while he waited yét,
And from out the rock's hard bosom
Sprang a tender violet.
« God! I thank thee,” said the prophet;
36 Hard of heart, and blind was I,
Looking to the holy mountain
For the gift of prophecy.
Stijl thou speakest with thy children
Freely as in old sublime;
Humbleness, and love, and patience,
Still give empire over time.
Had I trusted in my nature,
And bad faith in lowly things,
Thou thyself would then have sought me,
And set free my spirit's wings.
But I looked for signs and wonders,
That oder men should give me sway,
Thirsting to be more than mortal,
I was even less than clay.
Ere I entered on my journey,
As I girt my loins to start,
Ran to me my little daughter,
The beloved of my heart;
In her hand she held a flower
Like to this, as like may be,
Which beside my very threshold,
She had plucked and brought to me."

SUNBEAMS.

(From the New Church Magazine,) "Oh! mamma, mamma, how pretty!" exclaimed little Walter Evans, clapping his hands joyfully, as a bright sunbeam shone in at the window, and made the whole room look more cheerful with its light.

It had rained steadily all day, and Walter could not go out to play in the garden, or run in the green fields with his brother and sisters. For a while they had amused themselves quite happily in the house"; but, towards the latter part of the afternoon, they had become weary of their toys, 'and were fretful and impatient at being kept in the house all day.

Their mother was very busy with her sewing; but she laid it aside, and told the children that she would read them a pretty story, if they would be quiet and good.

They were very glad to hear this; for they loved to have their mother read to them, and they brought their Fittle chairs, and sat down very quietly. Even little Mary, who was only two years and a half old, sat quite still, and listened with the rest. There were four children, and Walter was the eldest. He was nearly eight years old, and was generally a pleasant, obedient boy.

While the children were listening to the story, they thought no more of the rain ; and they did not obserre that it no longer pattered against the window, and that the thick clouds were gradually breaking away.

Just as mamma had finished her story, a bright ray of sunshine streamed across the carpet"; and Walter jumped up in delight, and ran to the window to look at the sky.

There were still many clouds to be seen; but there were large patches of blue sky, and there was a prospect of a clear sunset. “We shall have a fine day tomorrow, I have no doubt," said Mrs. Evans, and then my little children can have a run in the fields; and the grass and flowers will tell them how glad they were of this good rain."

“How can the flowers tell us that, mamma, when they cannot speak?” asked little Julia, smiling, as she looked in her mother's face.

“They cannot speak, Julia ; but they will look so much brighter and more beautiful than they did before the rain, that you will know that they are glad.”

Julia ran away, quite satisfied with this explanation ; and Walter came to his mother's side, with a happy smile, and said, “That sunbeam made me feel so happy, - Did it not make you happy, mamma?”

“Yes, Walter, I was glad to see it. The bright sunshine makes every thing cheerful and pleasant."

Yes, mamma; and then, when it has been so dark and stormy all day, it makes us very glad to see even a little sunshine.”

“ It does, indeed, my son. Natural sunbeams are very cheering, and spiritual sunbeams are even more pleasant and useful.

“What are spiritual sunbeams, mamma ?”

“I will try to tell you, Walter. Supposing you should feel very sad and unhappy, from any cause; and some kind friend should suddenly say or do something which would send away your sadness, and make you feel very bright and happy. Do you not think that this kind action of

your

friend would seem like a sunbeam to your

spirit?"

[ocr errors]

· Yes, mother; I think would. When we all felt so cross and unhappy, just now, and you offered to read to us, I think you were just like the pretty sunbeam that drove away the clouds."

Mrs. Evans smiled at this; and presently Walter said, “ I should like to be a sunbeam, mamma; I mean a spiritual sunbeam. Do you think I could be one if I tried ?"

“I have no doubt you could, my son. little children

may

do a great deal to make others good and happy. You must remember that the Lord is the spiritual sun, and that all good and truth come from him, as light and heat come from the sun. Therefore, if you would be a sunbeam to cheer those who are sad and troubled, you must love to receive good and truth from the Lord, and He will show you how to impart it to others,"

Even very

[ocr errors]

Do
you

understand this ? ' Yes, mamma, I think I do. You mean, that if I 'wish to be a spiritual sunbeam, I must be a very good boy, so that I can receive the light and heat of the spiritual sun." “ Yes, Walter, that is what I mean.

And now, run to your play, and do not forget what I have told you.”

Walter ran merrily away, and was soon playing very pleasantly with Julia. In a few minutes, they heard their little brother, 'Nathan, crying very loud, and they ran to see what was the matter.

They found that he had been running in the yard for a few moments, and their mother had called him in, because it was very wet, and she feared he would take cold. Nathan felt very cross and angry, and when the other children asked him what was the matter, he screamed still louder, and tried to push them away.

Come back to our play, Walter,” said Julia ; "he is a cross boy."

But Walter remembered his conversation with his mother, and he said to himself, “Now I will try to be a sunbeam, and drive away the clouds from Nathan.”

So he said, in his kindest voice, Nathan, and brother will get his little cart for you, and load it with ears of corn; and then you can draw it round the kitchen, and play that you are a man selling corn."

Nathan stopped crying at once, and smiled through his tears; and Walter ran quickly for his little cart. It was soon loaded ; and the little boy drew it around, calling out “ Corn to sell. Who will buy my corn?

Walter felt so glad that he had made his brother happy, that he enjoyed his own play far more than he had done before; but as he ran frisking about, and trying to catch Julia, who was hiding behind the chairs and tables, to keep out of his way, he observed that his mother looked very tired and weary, and that she often put her hand to her head, as if the noise disturbed her.

“ Does your head ache, dear mother?" he asked, as he put his arm around her neck.

Yes, Walter ; it aches badly."

- Do not cry,

« PreviousContinue »