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the sun's rays. Let me warn you, says Dr. Drummond, however, never for a moment to forget that plants are living bodies, and that if light, air, and water produce in them important changes, they do so through the vital energies of the plant, and not from bare chemical affinities, such as exist between dead or inorganical objects. We are not, therefore, to refer the changes from one colour to another in plants to chemistry alone, but to those energies which belong to living organised beings, whose effects we see, though their manner of acting is inexplicable by our limited faculties.
The colours of plants have, with some apparent ingenuity, been referred to the predominance of acids and alkalis over each other, or to their various admixture ; but we need not dwell on this theory. I think we may lay it down as an undoubted fact, that every species of animal and plant has a mode of vital action peculiar to itself. They all breathe air in one form or another, and they all use food, but very different results follow. The selfsame heap of earth that nourishes the most wholesome vegetables, gives vigour, also, to the most deadly.
The drops which morning sheds
The pinks' and violets' tubes to fill,
And gives them fatal power to kill. The same soil from which the violet scarcely lifts her head, gives growth to the aspiring pine, whose high top tapers to the clouds, and to the monarch oak, whose giant limbs bid defiance to the storm. Let us not, then, attempt to explain the colours of flowers by any specific theory, but admit, that while light is necessary to their production, yet, that the vital action, whatever that may be, of the individual species, is the agent which modifies the light so as to produce that colour which nature has intended the plant to assume. Food is as necessary to animals, as light to plants; but a portion of food may be swallowed by a bird, and converted into feathers, which, were it digested by a fish, would form scales; by a quadruped, hair; by a serpent, perhaps, a deadly poison, and so on. Although light, therefore, is necessary to vegetables, it is not it, but the vegetable itself, which is the operator in producing the variety of colour: and when we say that light causes such or such phenomena in plants, we are merely to understand that the plant makes use of the light for its own purposes, reflecting some of its rays to produce colours, or absorbing and digesting others to form various vegetable products.
There is a plant nearly allied to the Lungwort, now common in gardens, whicb, being more stately and of much larger dimensions, exhibits more strikingly the same change of blossom from red to blue. This is the prickly Comfrey, a native of the Caucasus. The Japanese Honeysuckle bas its flowers, at first, of a bright silvery white, but they afterwards change to a golden yellow; so that on the same raceme some corollas are pure white, and others like gold; whence in Cbina and Japan it is named kin gin qua, which means "gold and silver flowers. A more remarkable example occurs in the changeable Rose Hibiscus of the East Indies and China ; whose corollas on opening in the morning are green: they soon become white; towards noon change to a reddish hue ; and, in the evening, are bright crimson. The changeable Corn-flag is still more remarkable, as in it the colour changes from morning till night; but on the morning succeeding, the original hue has returned, and the same alterations are again gone through. This continues for nine or ten days. In the morning the colour is brown, in the evening bluish. Andrews mentions that a figure of this plant was begun at teu in the morning, but before the draw. ing was finished, the plant was so totally changed in colour, that there was an absolute necessity of waiting till the next day to complete it.
The entire-leaved or single peony expands its crimson petals in our gardens in May or June: although the double peony is a formidable rival, it must yield to this; for it not only delights us with its flowers, but in the autumn its fruit, consisting of many black shining seeds, intermingled with numerous crimson abortive ones, is, in the general scarcity of flowers at that season, the most splendid ornament to the parterre.
Weeds increase greatly in this month, and should be eradicated wherever they appear, particularly after a shower of rain.
'Tis now the Spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
And choke the herbs for want of husbandry. The weed, indeed, must be hunted for with continued diligence, as often it
Poetical Pictures in May.
Early Morning [Written for Time's Telescope, by Richard Howitt.] Grey is the morning sky: not yet bath burst The sun in splendour on his early way; Yet even now are heard the sounds of day : The lark is in the air, ever the first To call the sun, with music, from the east. The nightly rush of water hath not ceased Its pleasant tune, whose gentle strain is nursed On the hushed moonlit air, but never heard Midst living sounds the sunny day hath stirred. The dove with plaintive sound the woodland fills; The cuckoo's voice is on the distant hills, Telling of days to natural hearts endeared. Come forth, O Sun! come forth, and thought shall bring Days, with this day to live, from many a spring!
Evening. [Written for Time's Telescope, by Richard Howitt.) It is delightful, 'midst the early dew To be a wauderer, when the morning hours Bear on their wings the perfume of all flowers; And from the green earth to the heavens blue Ascends the song of birds, anew begun: It is delightful, when the summer sun In noontide fervour sails above the bills, To rest beneath the shade of trees, where run, Impetuous waters, from the mountain rills, Cooling the air, meanwbile their murmur fills The ear with soothing music; yet for me This has a charm more tender, now the bills Of the glad thrush and blackbird, far and free, Shout forth the day's decline aloud from tree to tree.
The Spring Evening.
[From the German of Matthisson.]
The meadow's tender dew!
Fair is the rocky spring-the blooming hedge
The wood illumed with gold ;
Peeps 'neath the cloudlet's fold.
The mountain, verdant-hued ;
And flow'rets overstrewed.
In love's unfailing band;
Lean on one father-hand.
Each other from the spray;
: Stray Leaves.
The vale's deep quiet streams,
Shedding forth tender gleams;
Soft, soft the river flows,
The gloom of alder-boughs;
The whisper of the reed,
The scythe upon the mead;
* This poem is from the very popular work called · Death's Doings,' and the etching which illustrates it, represents an angler intent upon his sport, while Death, with a casting net, is about to cut short both his pastime and his life.
'Tis not the stag that comes to lave,
At noon, his panting breast;
Seeking her sedgy nest;
Thy heart, grown still and sage,
That shine o'er nature's page ;
By deep lone waters passed,
To cheer thee through the last;