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MAY, 1875.

A GARDEN OF GIRLS.

WE

TE borrow that phrase from Tennyson, who describes

his Maud as “queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls," and, pretty as is the idealization, there is a great deal more than mere prettiness in the epithet. We are accustomed to associate the beauty of girlhood and the beauty of flowers. Sweet Jessie, the Flower of Dumblane, is only one of ten thousand charming maidens celebrated in song as roses and lilies, as violets and daisies. The graceful forms and the delicate freshness of flowers are in poetical accord with our appreciation of the modest beauty of girlhood; and to the end of time, we suppose, lovers and poets will adopt the old simile, and find nothing so graceful and appropriate.

Of all the pleasing sights this every day and sometimes very wearying world can give, there are few more pleasing than that of a group of cheerful, light-hearted, happy, pretty girls in a well laid-out garden, tripping in and out among the flower-beds, or walking hand in hand demurely enough on the gravel-paths, till some flowering beauty attracts their attention; and then a quickened step, with smiling face and heightened complexion, to examine or pluck the treasure. Some bend down to note the beauty of leaf or colour ; some stand and watch with a placid pleasure the excitement of the others. A painter might be pardoned if he failed to decide which part of such a picture is the more beautiful—the unconscious flower or the conscious, animated girls. Flowers are beautiful, and the wealth of bounteous nature is exhibited in their graceful forms and exquisitely harmonious colours; but the crowning charm of expression is wanting, and,

although the mere painter might find it difficult to award the palm, we have no such hesitation. Transferred to canvas, the girls and the flowers would be equalized ; the beauty of the moment might be caught, but it would be fixed and unchangeable alike for each. As they rise from the blossom they have been admiring, a new expression appears on their features, new attractions may bring forth a smile or a flush, new emotions impart a novel beauty, while the change of attitude developes new graces of outline. So the girls are more beautiful than the flowers, just as the complete existence is more beautiful than still life. There is almost an appearance of voluntary life in Aowers, when the petals and leaves expand to the morning sun, or the blossom turns on the stalk to follow the motions of the luminary; and one of the most beautiful passages in descriptive poetry is that of Shelley's, when he speaks of the rose opening till,

" Fold after fold, to the fainting air,

The soul of its beauty and love lay bare."

Perhaps it is the advent of May that makes us think of gardens. In this climate it is not quite the flower month ; our May-days are apt to be somewhat wintry, and night frosts chill early blossoms. But in May we enter, as it were, the gates of Flora's temple, tread lightly and hopefully on the path that leads to roses and a hundred other beauties of the garden. Very soon we shall be among them, and we enjoy their beauty by anticipation.

Not only in the sunlight and shade of the open air exquisite delineation of character, of some flower long since gathered by the “reaper among the flowers," even as the withered leaf on the page recalls the time when all was fresh, and fair, and fragrant in the garden of life.

We will end by quoting a little poem which carries out this line of thought; we met with it many years ago, and the poet—the name of Westby Gibson is on the title-page of the book—ought to be better known :

THE FLOWER IN THE BOOK.

“ Tell me, O tell me, my mother dear,

In many a lonely and silent hour,
Why, buried in thought, do I hear you sigh ;
And sometimes I see a tear in your eye,

Whilst gazing on that old withered flower!
Oh, mother, it makes my heart ache to see

Your dear sweet face with so sad a look: Ah ! there's something that troubles-something that

grievesA mystery to me—in the dry dead leaves

Of the flower in the book.

are there gardens, but we have window-gardens, and even winter-gardens, conservatories where precious flowers are preserved with care, lest "the winds of heaven visit their faces too roughly;" choice bouquets of gathered varieties, little jewel-like gems for bosom or button-hole. And these flowers have their counterparts in the garden of girls. There are vases by the chimney-corner, making all around fragrant, and light, and beautiful; clustered groups of gay and graceful girls in drawing-rooms; some of rare qualities as yet treasured in conservatories, but to be transplanted when matured and full blossomed into the sunshine of the world; and there are, too, dainty, good, loving flowers ready to be placed near the hearts of brave men.

We suppose, too, to pursue the analogy, there are some "last roses of summer, left blooming alone, all their lovely companions departed and gone." Once they were a portion, perhaps, of the joyous smiling wreath of bridesmaids, and the others have advanced to the honour of brides, leaving them like the “lone one" of the song. Take heart; the song, so beautiful that it touches the heart of all who hear it, was not made for those who are gone, but for the one who is left, very charming in its solitude, and gracing with its modest beauty the fading year. And this brings us to autumn flowers, those which represent the paler attractions of the garden, but which have a certain and special beauty of their own. They do their work in making the season of the falling leaf less desolate, and cheering those whose hearts might sink when summer goes. We cannot hope to find life all sunshine, there must be an autumn of decline, a winter, perhaps, of gloom; but how much that decline and that gloom are enlivened and lightened by the loving ministration of some of those gentle, affectionate flowers in the garden of girls, who willingly transplant themselves from the bright parterres of society to share the retirement where the old, or sad, or infirm ask for the sight of a flower to refresh the eye and invigorate the mind.

There are, of course, faded flowers in the garden. There is no alchemy by which youth and beauty can be made perpetual. We have seen flowers preserved by cunning preparations, but how painted and artificial they appear; the bloom has vanished, the fragrance gone; they are spectres of flowers, only haunting, not beautifying our daily lives. We may love even faded flowers if they preserve dear memories. In many a cabinet there is a faded rose, as in many a heart there is a treasured secret and the ties are related. Even a few rose-leaves in a book give a pleasant fragrance to the page ; and it will be well if sometimes, when reading a favourite author, we are reminded, by a beautiful thought or an

“O, Aling it away, my mother dear,

Why keep such a crushed and withered thing? I'll bring you the sweetest wild flowers, for I know Where the violets down in the hollows grow,

And the primrose shines by the forest spring. I'll make you, dear mother, a posey sweet,

And then you will kiss me, and smiling look; For there's nothing that troubles, nothing that grieves, In their rich dewy cups, as in the dead leaves

Of the flower in the book."

“O bless thee, my child, for thy loving thought,

But little of life can thy young heart knowHow a simple flower may bring tears to the eyes, And the saddest and tenderest feelings arise,

With thoughts of the years that are gone long ago ! 0, I could not part with these few dead leaves

For a balmy cluster fresh from the brook ; For memories troubled, and memories bright, Ever thrill my heart through, at the sad-sweet sight

Of the flower in the book.

“ 'Twas thy father gathered this flower, my child,

A treasure sweet to thy baby-eye ! But it withered soon-and thy father diedHeart-broken, I too could have lain by his side ;

But for thy dear sake-oh! I could not die ! And now, oftimes, in these lonely years,

On a relic so precious I love to look: For memories troubled, and memories bright, Ever thrill my heart through at the sad-sweet sight

Of the flower in the book !"

HOLDEN WITH THE CORDS.

III.--Seeing, BUT UNDERSTANDING Not.

THE service being ended, Bergan naturally turned to his out into the world, in search of a better field of labour

kinsfolk for an ampler and friendlier greeting than than was afforded in his native village, her thoughts had been possible at their hurried meeting in the crowded naturally turned to the spot so hallowed in her memory, vestibule. Especially-with a grateful remembrance of and where her ancestry had sent such deep, old roots into her yesterday's cordiality-did he look to his aunt for a the soil, as to create a kind of kinship for evermore beword of familiar kindness, that should make him feel tween their descendants and the locality. It would be a less alone, less of a stranger, amid the friendly chorus of pleasant thing for Bergan, she thought, to make a home salutations and leave-takings coming to his ears from the and a name for himself in a place where he possessed so departing congregation. But, to his surprise and pain, strong a claim to residence ; it would be equally pleasant the same indefinable chill which had made him so vaguely for the old town to recognize the familiar mould of feauncomfortable with her husband and daughter, had now tures and character in its streets; and it would be taken possession of her also, and woven a thin film of pleasantest of all for herself to know that her son was ice over the manner that yesterday was so kind.

with her kinsfolk, amid well-known scenes, rather than The change was so unaccountable that he could not among strangers, on ground where her thoughts could believe in it. He told himself that the real thing at fault find no foothold. Some day, she hoped to visit him was his own sickly imagination, that he was morbidly there, and feed her mother's pride upon his success, at sensitive, as well as foolishly exacting. He convinced the same time that she renewed her girlhood amid old his understanding, but could not silence his heart. That associations. Cassandra of the depths continually smote his unwilling Bergan then touched lightly upon his disappointment ear with her lugubrious voice, calling upon him to ob- in the dull old town-finding it so much duller and serve how strangely Mrs. Bergan had been transformed older, even to decrepitude, than he had expected, and overnight, from the interested, cordial, even affectionate, consequently, so little eligible to his purpose. And here, aunt, into the polite and practised woman of the world, if he had been met by a more interested glance, and a doing merely what courtesy required for the entertain- fuller sympathy, he would have gone on to speak of the ment of the guest that circumstances had flung upon her disgraceful scene into which he had been betrayed by his hands.

uncle--the Major-and the obligation under which he In this state of affairs, Bergan would gladly have felt himself placed thereby to remain in Berganton, at exchanged the dinner at Oakstead for a quiet afternoon least long enough to efface any unfavourable impression in his room and a sober talk with his thoughts. But the which it might have caused. But, though his uncle invitation being already accepted, he must needs abide by Godfrey heard him patiently and courteously enough, the event. Accordingly, he took the vacant seat in his there was so little of the hearty interest of kinship in his uncle's carriage, and was soon set down at the cottage manner, that Bergan could not bring himself to open the steps.

subject. Not only was it unpleasant in itself, but it Before dinner, the two gentlemen were left to a quiet touched at many points on deep things of his nature, chat to themselves on a cool, shady piazza. Bergan em- which instinctively refused to pour themselves into any braced this opportunity to explain, more fully than he but a friendly, sympathetic ear. had yet done, his motives and aims. He told his uncle, If he had known whence came the cloud between his -a little proudly, it might be, for he wished it to be relatives and himself, he would have spoken, as a matter understood that he had come hither with a self-respecting of course, at whatever cost of feeling. But this explanapurpose of independence, and not with any idea of lean- tion of the matter suggested itself to him, only to be ining upon his friends,-he told his uncle that his choice evitably rejected. Although it might serve to account of Berganton as the starting-point of his professional for the coolness that had characterized his uncle's manner career, was due to the influence of his mother. Her from the first, it seemed to throw no light whatever upon childhood's home, and its vicinity, had always kept a the difficult problem of the sudden change from cordiality tenacious hold on her affections, despite the fact that to reserve, in Mrs. Bergan and Carice. A much more more than two-thirds of her womanhood had been spent natural supposition appeared to be, that something in his elsewhere, and all the deeper joys and sorrows of her life own manner or conversation had unfortunately awakened had blossomed and fruited in different soil. When, prejudice or created dislike. For that, there was no therefore, it became necessary for one of her sons to go remedy save in time. He could hope that, when his

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