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Two sorts of Amethyst there are : one an occidental quartz, by comparison soft, plentiful, and of trifling value; the other an oriental gem, akin to the diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, and like them rare, costly, hard, and lustrously beautiful. In both qualities of Amethyst violet tints and wine tints prevail, and from both can be expelled by the force of fire : thus discoloured, the nobler sort becomes in lustrous semblance a very diamond.
The Rabbins, we are informed, trace their national name for the Amethyst to its alleged virtue of procuring dreams for its wearer : and by what might almost strike us as a contrary virtue, it has been reputed an antidote to the intoxicating effects of wine. We ourselves enjoy a surer dependence, and a more efficacious safeguard : a dependence based on the power of God to instruct as and when He pleaseth, though not certifying us that He will be pleased so to instruct us; a safeguard more excellent than an antidote, in the wise King's inspired admonition:
God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction.- Job xxxiii. 14, &c.
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Proverbs xxiii. 20, 21.
BLACKBERRIES AND BLACKTHORN.
Fruit the one thing requisite. T. Simon and St. Jude close and crown our glorious procession of Apostles. Their Festival occurs at a season of fruit rather than of flowers : and thus their position in the Church year repeats itself in the natural year; preaching with a twofold voice in unison, that the end
must not falsify the beginning, that blossoms must bear fruit; that the end of all cometh, even the day of the supreme ingathering, when “ leaves only” or a blossom going up as dust will not avail, but by our fruit shall we be known.
Humble among fruits, yet a fruit agreeably sweet and juicily refreshing, the Blackberry swells and ripens on its prickly bramble. It proffers a feast to birds and human wayfarers, a feast of God's bestowal not of man's purveying, a feast without money and without price. Each berry (for though not a berry in botanical strictness, it is such to our familiar apprehension),-each berry is an elaborate assemblage of independent points of stonecontaining pulp, deepened or blackened by ripeness, but in early and intermediate stages exhibiting many gradations of greenness or ruddiness; and these not in succession but simultaneously on the same bush, the same branch, with blossoms also and leaves and thorns, in one goodly array at one time of the entire wealth of the bramble. The Bramble blossom is frail and blush-tinted, too open to be called a cup; the petals, variable in
number, surround a central brush of stamens harmoniously pale, and attached to a green star-shaped calyx; the stamens when thus inserted indicate an edible: fruit. The foliage somewhat assimilates with that. of a rose bush; leaf by leaf it presents varieties of outline, and curving freely multiplies its contours indefinitely. The
thorns again recall a rose bush; nor is the blossom itself without a degree of likeness to a pale wild rose. Akin to our common Blackberry is the Mountain Bramble or Cloud-berry: which in June decks each rough though not prickly stem with a large solitary terminal white flower, composed of five veinedi petals alternated with five green calyx tips and encircling a yellow centre; the blossom being succeeded by orange-tawny fruit, in flavour more or less like a tamarind.
Thus without culture or care the Bramble ripens a sweet and wholesome crop. Not so the Blackthorn; which being a wild plum produces for fruit only a harsh and puny sloe, however we may discern in it capabilities of excellence under future possible development. Yet even in its wildness is it replete with beauties and delights, though these not level with the palate. Its blossoming is the key of spring : for until those sprays of white bloom have expanded we think not to have done with winter; while, with a sweet alacrity to make us cheerful, it blossoms without tarrying for its own green leaves but lets bloom precede foliage. The Blackthorn is of low stature and spreading growth; each branch terminates in the sharp thorn from which the shrub derives its name, and which helps to guard the sloe in its dark purple ripeness; when, tempting to the eye but jarring to the palate, it does, I suppose, even thus enshrine the latent possibilities of a well-flavoured plum.
In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely.-Isaiah iv. 2.
Leaf from leaf Christ knows;