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them, no less than the broad plains of happy islands like our own, where in spring we may watch " from field to field the vivid verdure run.” It does but carry out beautifully and intelligibly before our very eyes that He not only formed and created the earth, but formed it “ to be inhabited." The idea of " habitation ” may seem to signify families of mankind, and no doubt it does so in the first and inmost meaning, but a large and philosophical, and reverent reading of the text, will connect with it the families also of the humbler portion of living nature, or animals in all their variety, and not animals only, but the families of trees and plants. All these has He created “for his pleasure,” and though we may not understand the mode and the degree of their ministration, still may we be assured that the flourishing existence of crowds of happy animals happy, that is, in the enjoyment of their peculiar life--and of myriads of blooming and lovely plants, is a real and grand portion of that Divine pleasure, and thus that the races, in all their diversity, of quadrupeds and birds, fishes, and all little denizens of the carth and sea, together with those of all plants, are essentially included in the general term of inhabitants of our planet, given to it in order that they might dwell upon it and decorate it. In the present paper we shall endeavour to shew that the connection of plants with the surface of our earth is in no respect a less admirable fact than that of their existence, and that the laws and arrangements by which the connection is maintained, rank with the most striking in any department of the science of nature.
The great physical stimuli of vegetable growth are light and heat,a splendid fact when regarded in relation to the correspondence that light and beat bear to the exciting and sustaining physical forces of which we every day feel the glory as divine wisdom and divine love. Where there are most heat and light, trees and flowers of all kinds are most plentiful and most splendid, -always provided that there is an adequate supply of moisture ; where heat and light are deficient, there we see poverty and dwarfishness. In the tropics the forests are more majestic than any one accustomed only to the woods of northern Europe can possibly conceive, many of the trees clothing themselves with leaves as large as dinner-tables, while the flowers that are poured forth from every branch and twig are finer than lilies. By people coming from the extreme north, on the other hand, our English lilacs and laburnums are regarded as miracles of size and loveliness; for in the frigid zone, although there are plants with hard and woody stems, answering so far to the idea of shrubs, they never rise more than a few inches above the ground. Dr. Clarke brought from Scandinavia, six
full-grown birch-trees in his pocket-book ; and the greater portion of the arctic willow is to be found, not in the air, but below the surface of the soil! It is much the same at the extreme south of the great American continent. Near Cape Horn, trees which in latitudes a little warmer allow of the traveller walking underneath them, become so diminutive and stand so thick together, that he completes his mountainexploration with walking upon their tops ! It is very important to observe here that it is the combined
of light and heat that produces the wonderful results seen in the tropics, again inviting our minds to the contemplation of the grand correspondence above alluded to. Clear and brilliant light often brings out exquisite colours, as happens among the Alps and also in the north frigid zone, where the humble little plants called lichens and mosses are in many cases dyed of the most brilliant hues, purple and gold predominating Warmth, in like manner, will stimulate vegetable growth in the most astonishing manner, but it is growth not necessarily accompanied by the secretion of valuable substances, such as give quality and real importance to the plant. In English hot-houses, for example, we have plenty of spice-trees, those generous plants that yield cinnamon and cassia, the nutmeg and the clove; but although healthy and blossoming freely, they never mature their aromatic secretions. Though they have artificial heat equal to that of their native islands, which burn beneath the sun of the Indian ocean, we cannot supply them with similar and proportionate solar light. Our cloudy skies shut us in from the full and direct radiance of the sunshine, and wanting this, heat alone will not avail.
Next to be considered, as greatly influencing the distribution of plants over the surface of the earth, is the various height of its various portions above the level of the sea. It is a very interesting fact, and one familiar to those who travel much, even within the area of the British Islands, that the plants of lofty mountains are, to a considerable extent, quite different from those that enamel the fields that lie at their feet; the cold, the damp, caused by their frequent immersion in the clouds, and the rarer atmosphere, being congenial to different kinds. Mounting the steep slopes of Snowdon or Helvellyn, we soon come to vegetable forms that are never seen in the lands below, and in Scotland the number of such new forms is again greatly augmented. In warm countries, however, it is very curious to observe how close is the agreement between & certain number of yards of vertical elevation, with the departure so many degrees north or south from the equator. On the mountain chain of which Mount Ararat is the most important geographical point, all
the varieties of vegetation between Syria and the north pole may be observed, by any one patient enough to ascend from base to summit. At the foot of Mount Ararat there are the vine, the olive and the fig, the palm also and the orange. A little way up these fruits cease to ripen, and their place is taken by the trees and plants of central Europe; a little further, again, those of Russia and Norway make their appearance; by-and-bye the vegetation of Scandinavia becomes predominant, and the crown of the mountain is lost in perennial snow,-a north-pole reached by vertical ascent instead of by a long journey through seventy degrees of latitude. The analogy of a great snow-capped mountain in any tropical country with either the northern or southern hemisphere is most complete. The base answers to the equatorial zone; the middle portion answers to the temperate; and the summit answers to the frigid. In a word, our planet is like two vast tropical mountains sliced off at the base, and so conjoined as to let their summits be the two poles, the arctic and the antarctic respectively.
Soil, and the geological composition of the ground below, have also great influence upon the vegetation of a district; for plants, like animals,
a have their appropriate food. True, to the great mass of plants it is a question of little moment. They grow freely in every kind of soil, and hence the coloured fantasy of the fields, in which plants grow inextricably mingled. It remains, true, nevertheless, that many kinds require certain mineral constituents in the soil, in order that they may attain perfection; while others prefer certain geological formations, on account of the easier drainage or the greater retentiveness of water. It is beautiful to see how the plants of widely separated districts often agree when the soil is the same, or nearly so. Many of the wild-flowers, for example, of St. Vincent's rocks, at Clifton, are seen but sparingly, or not at all, after we quit Gloucestershire on our way northwards, until we come close upon the sea-margin of North Wales. Then they are found again, and, "save for the new landscape, we might almost fancy ourselves breathing the soft sweet air of Durdham Down. The rocks and soil of these two districts are in many respects closely similar, and their products illustrate the harmony that so often subsists between the earth and vegetation. It is no small part of the Divine Benevolence thus to distribute and marshal the substances and objects of nature; for to the exiled and expatriated there are sweet and fond sights produced as a consequence of it, that make amends oftentimes for the severance, and by association import the distant into the present. What an inducement, moreover, to the study of nature! If the sound of a national melody heard in a far distant land awaken all tender recol.
lections of the dear fields so many leagues away, no less so does the spectacle of the trees and flowers that were the fondlings of our youth, when we behold them in the remote spot of our adoption. Anything whatever that animates the soul with a secret pleasure, whether it come through the medium of sight or of sound, of poetry, or science, or philosophy, of thought or of reading, or intercourse with our fellowmen, or, though last not least, of the little wild-flowers, is a fine expression and result of the Divine Benevolence in little things, and we should be grateful for it accordingly. One of the most beautiful and ennobling of all joys and satisfactions is the joy of being grateful to God; and nothing makes us more truly human than the accustoming ourselves to find reasons and inducements to such joy in the little and mis-called “insignificant” and trifling things of nature. All are made for our personal enjoyment, and to help us onwards into manliness and humanity of spirit, and will effect that result if we will but open our hearts to their influence.
Very curious indeed are the special arrangements by which the seeds of plants are conveyed from place to place, again providing for the permanency of the green carpet. Many kinds are provided with delicate feathery wings, which the wind soon seizes upon, carrying them for miles over the country. Everyone in the heavenly era of early youth has blown the little ships from the dandelion into the aërial sea, curious merely to learn the time of day, and unconscious that by this little pastime they were assisting the great purposes of nature. It is true that in many of the plants that have these winged seeds we do not recognise any special usefulness to man, and the means provided for their wide dispersion may look like good labour bestowed to little genuine purpose of benevolence; but we are not to judge of the usefulness of a thing by what it yields directly and immediately to man. The population of the earth includes millions of creatures besides ourselves, and anything that seems useless to us is no doubt invaluable to some other race. Here it may be remarked, too, in passing, that the existence of “useless things" is one of the grand proofs of another and nobler state of being. They are outbirths of a nobler world, and have a destiny and purpose of their own ; if they are useless in our eyes, it is simply because they are of great use in the eyes of other creatures of God,—if not in this outer world, in the inner one where their spiritual forms exist, and whence they operate. Birds and insects carry seeds about almost as busily as the wind. The rough and hairy coats of quadrupeds often capture the burrs of the plant they come in contact with, and thus do they get conveyed unintentionally for thousands of miles, yea, half round the world. Rivers and all running waters perform a similar use ; multitudes of plants are found growing upon their banks, the seeds of which have been brought by the current from distant localities, and being stranded when the water is low, they find at once an anchorage and an abiding-place for growth. There are plants even that jerk and dart out their seeds like shots from tiny guns, for the purpose of their wider dispersion. Touch-me-nots and cardamines form quite a miniature artillery when ripe, discharging their little batteries with a vigour that is quite facetious. All these things, let us never forget, are special arrangements for promoting the beauty of the world, clothing it with green and graceful life, and thus carrying out the designs of Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Love.
The water, like the land, is filled with vegetation, everywhere, that is, except in the open sea, and even there may often be found abundance of the strange marine plants called Algæ. Half-way across the Atlantic there is an enormous submerged forest of one kind in particular, called "gulf-weed," from its connection with the great "gulf-stream” that makes its way from the Gulf of Mexico. This mass of weed is so dense as sometimes to impede the progress of ships, and when encountered by Columbus, in that wonderful exploring voyage westwards which was rewarded by the discovery of the sentinel-islands of America, it was thought by the superstitious sailors to be a barrier specially placed there by an angry Providence, to prevent their further passage, or at all events to warn them from prosecuting the attempt to cross the sea. Similarly, in the remotest portions of the antarctic ocean, there are prodigious sea-weeds with stems of the girth of a man's body, and branches that extend through the water to an almost indefinite distance. Our own shores show two classes of these curious and interesting plants. First there are the dark leathery weeds that form tapestry for the seawashed cliffs, and float so beautifully in the foamy water when the tide comes up to salute them. Secondly, there are the lovely green and rose-coloured weeds that are seldom more than a few inches in length, and which we may see lying about on the sands like fragments of roses, or in exquisite arabesque of pink fibres. Were we to seek them in their native habitats, or while growing, we should find them erect and displayed, forming a parterre for the sea no less lovely in its way than are the flower-gardens of the land. Every portion of the shore is inhabited by its peculiar species of these delicate alge. At high watermark we see the great black thongs of the bladder-wrack, and the pea. green laver; at low-water mark and in the tide pools, we have the pink and roseate kinds, for these latter die, like so many fishes, if torn away