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beautiful dwellings, while the willow of the brook was entwined among them—the one the woof and the other the warp. But I will enlarge on this again.
The chief properties of the Willow are flexibility and lightness; and I may add, ease of propagation and exceeding rapidity of growth. But to speak of its uses:-we were watching a man the other day fishing in his little coracle; presently we saw him paddle to the shore, and to our astonishment (for until of late we were strangers to the Wye) he took up his little vessel on his shoulders, and went away as if it were only a great coat and umbrella in one. The willow of the brook had formed his boat, after which it was covered with canvas, and the whole did not weigh above 22 lbs. Baskets of all kinds are made from this invaluable tree; and when its white wood is split very fine, it is made into bonnets and hats. Willow branches bent in semicircles, are also very pretty round flower-beds.
The Weeping Willow is of this family, and is one of the most elegant and graceful trees we know. It is generally found over ponds and lakes. The ancients were wont to sculpture either the cypress or the willow over the tombs of the departed:--the Jewish burying ground in the island of Curaçoa, which I visited about twenty-eight years since, has some beautiful specimens of sculpture of this kind.
The Mahogany Tree is a native of Jamaica and Cuba; it grows to a great height, and its wood is used for all kinds of furniture.
The Caoutchouc. I must not forget this singularly useful tree, from
which we obtain India rubber; for though many plants, in a measure, yield a juice of the same character, yet the Siphonia Elastica, or Elastic Gum-tree, supplies the principal demand. It is found in America, 20 and 30 degrees each side of the equator; in the Brazils it grows about 60 feet in height: its leaves are green above and white beneath. The Indians have, from time immemorial, known its value; they use it for bottles, boots, cups, and flambeaux, and even cloth. The gum is obtained by simply tapping the tree, and receiving the flowing juice in shells. In England, the difficulty would be to say what it is not used for. There are India rubber great coats, India rubber clogs, boots, &c. It is a most valuable gift to man.
Ebony is the darkest of woods, and very durable: it is a native of the East Indies.
Then there is the Sandal-wood tree; the Rose-wood; the Brazil-wood, of a beautiful red; the Box-tree; with many others, all most useful to man. But I stayed longer among the trees of the English forest, as being more familiar to us.
And now, my dear children, I must conclude this long letter; and long as it is, it is only a brief outline of the subject;-my anxiety, you know, is, that in our walks it may not be the mere beauty and loveliness of creation that we should admire; but, searching into these manifold gifts of God, we may see goodness and loving-kindness
The parts of vegetation I here dwell upon, are those more immediately in relation to man; but if I introduced the animal creation at large as benefited, both
crowning all his works. How sweet is that language of David; and especially in this busy month of harvest:-" Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side." (Ps. lxv. 9-12.) Believe me, my dear children, Your affectionate Father.
in their dwelling-places, food, and medicine, the subject would be endless. The trees, grasses, flowers, fruit, herbs and leaves, both green and dry, all afford a boundless variety to them; for the Lord opens his hand, and fills all things living with plenteousness. And in winter, when all nature seems at rest, then strength is gathering for the spring. And how wonderful is the mutation of nature!-look at that heap of dried leaves and all kinds of things swept together: death seems to reign there; but it is for a time only; for in the spring (that great type of resurrection) all this apparent hideous deformity shall nourish the seeds sown therein, and they shall spring up in every form of fruitfulness and beauty-sown literally in weakness, raised in power.
AGAIN, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE UNTO A MERCHANT MAN, SEEKING GOODLY PEARLS: WHO, WHEN HE HAD FOUND ONE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE, WENT AND SOLD ALL THAT HE HAD, AND BOUGHT IT.-Matthew xiii. 45, 46.
MY DEAR CHILDREN,
I was struck, some months since, in reading the account of the ceremony that takes place in the Brazils when a slave finds a diamond; and it brought forcibly to my mind the passage in our Lord's ministry, concerning "the pearl of great price;" for though the analogy is not perfect in all its parts, yet in its great features it is. And who can tell the emotions of the poor slave as he holds up the precious gem and claps his hands, exulting in his prize? and who can look unmoved on his intense anxiety, until he hear the word from the Administrator's lips,-" It has been weighed in the balance, and has passed the demand:" there is no speck or flaw in it ;-THE SLAVE IS FREE! Life
* See Appendix.
is in that word. So in the pearl of great price:-BEYOND PRICE,-it MORE than answers the demand for freedom (for the Lord magnified the law and made it honourable); there is no speck or flaw in it, for he was the beloved Son in whom his Father's soul delighted; for the Lord was well pleased for his righteousness' sake. (Isaiah xlii. 1, 21; Matt. xii. 18.) The possessor of this precious pearl is free-he is freed by the great Administrator, who purchased his freedom by his own life;* and now he goes forth to work indeed—not for life, but from life, and clothed with beautiful raiment, the gift of God; a habitation awaits him, of joy unspeakable, and full of glory. If, when the tidings reached the Islands of the West, that England had wiped away, at a national expense of 20,000,000l., the great blot of slavery from her laws, and had decreed that all born in her dominion should be free, the joy was unbounded, how much more should the Christian rejoice when the glorious proclamation is gone out, "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life?" (John iii. 16, 18.) This is indeed freedom; and God gave not for the redemption the most glorious thing he had created;-that would have failed, and been utterly without avail;-but he spared not his Son, his only Son, but gave him up for us all. (Rom. viii. 32.) O dear children, think on this; and whilst you rejoice (and every one ought to rejoice) that the
"Feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
Acts xx. 28.