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E'er lingering winter wings his flight
Breathe softly now, ye gentle airs!
The joy that nature freely gives,
Andromeda polifolia. Marsh Cistus.
Calyx with five divisions. Blossom more or less egg-shaped. Mouth five-cleft. Capsules five-celled. Seeds few.
Umbel of few flowers, terminating. Blossom nodding. Leaves alternate, strap spear-shaped, edges rolled back— Withering.
LINNSUS NAMING THE ANDROMEDA.
The Swedish sage admires, in yonder bowers,
It is interesting to trace the steps of a genius like Linnaeus, going over completely new ground, in the wide field of natural history ; classing and naming birds, beasts, insects, and flowers, oftentimes according to a system which his own ingenuity and penetration had devised to supply the deficiencies of former naturalists An accurate examination of the minuter parts of the object under his consideration, frequently enables him to arrive at a juster conclusion, as to the order or genus to which it belongs, than others who had preceded him; and sometimes, after having with indefatigable industry ascertained these points, he indulges himself in combining with his new discovery associations of friendship, or of historical or classical allusion. We cannot give a more striking instance of this, than in the Andromeda polifolia.
In traversing the uncultivated wilds of Lycksele Lapland, whither, while yet a young man, he was sent by the Royal Society of the university of Upsal, on a tour of scientific research, he found this plant in great abundance, decorating the marshy grounds with its delicate blossoms. It is a beautiful little flower, somewhat resembling one of the heaths (Erica daboecia.) The buds are of a blood-red colour before they expand, but, when fully blown, the corolla is of a flesh-colour. In contemplating the beauties of the chamce daphne, as it was then called, the imaginative mind of Linnaeus was struck by a fancied similarity, in the appearance and circumstances of this plant, to the story of Andromeda, as related by the ancient poets. As he pursued his way, the blossom still attracted his notice, and he amused himself by tracing out many points of resemblance; until at last he thought that, if the mythologists had intended to describe the plant, they could not have devised a more appropriate fable. They have represented Andromeda as a virgin of exquisite beauty, chained to a rock in the midst of the sea, and exposed to dragons and venomous serpents. This lovely little flower he called her vegetable prototype; for he found it always fixed on some turfy hillock in the midst of swamps, where the fresh waters bathed its roots, as the sea washed the feet of Andromeda. If the unhappy virgin was assailed by seamonsters, he found a like circumstance attendant on the flower, whose abode is frequented by toads and venomous reptiles. At length, the poets fable that Perseus comes to deliver the afflicted maiden from all her dangers, and chase away her foes. And thus, said Linnaeus, does the summer, like another Perseus, arrive, drying up the waters that inundate the plant,