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Too often enervated by luxurious ease, an indolent beauty languishes the whole day, and avoids the cheering rays of the sun. At night, arrayed with all the art of coquetry, she exhibits herself to her admirers. The unsteady and delusive light of tapers, aiding her artifices, lends her a deceptive brilliancy, and she enchants by charms that are not her own. Her heart, meanwhile, is a stranger to love: all that she wants is slaves, victims. Imprudent youth, fee from the approach of this enchantress. Nature alone is sufficient, art useless, in order to please and to love. She who employs the latter is always dangerous, perfidious.
The flowers of the Thorn-apple, like those nocturnal beauties, droop while the sun shines beneath their dull-looking foliage; but, on the approach of night, they revive, display their charms, and unfold their prodigious bells, which
Nature has coloured with purple lined with ivory; and to which she has given an odour that attracts and intoxicates, but is so dangerous as to stupify those who inhale it even in the open air. The Thorn-apple of Peru is the most splendid variety of this species, each flower being often two feet in length; and sometimes there are one hundred and fifty open at once on the tree.
It is a dangerous plant to be allowed to grow where there are children, as the beauty of its flowers and fruit is liable to tempt them to their destruction; since it possesses so poisonous a quality as to produce paralysis and even madness in those who have inadvertently eaten of it. As a medicine, its leaves have been recently recommended for cough and asthma, dried and mixed with ordinary or herb tobacco for smoking.
How many exquisite harmonies arise on every side of us from the association of plants with animals! The butterfly embellishes the rose, the songs of birds enliven the groves, the bee confers a new charm on the flower about which it buzzes, and from which it extracts its sweets. Thus, throughout all Nature, the insect is adapted to the flower, the bird to the tree, the quadruped to the plant. Man alone is capable of discovering these connexions, and he alone has the power of breaking that chain of consonance and love by which all things in the world are bound together. If, with eager and imprudent hand, he attempts to remove an animal from its native home, thinking only of his own convenience, he usually forgets the plant which would have reconciled his new slave to this separation from his birthplace. If he takes away a plant, he neglects the insect which en.
livens, the bird which embellishes it, and the quadruped which feeds upon its leaves and reposes in its shade.
Look at the Carolina Jasmine! With its beautiful foliage and scarlet flowers, it remains an alien among us. For our parts, we prefer to it our sweet native honeysuckle, to which the bee resorts to suck its honey, the goat to browse on its leaves, and flocks of thrushes, linnets, finches, and other small birds, to feast upon its berries. No doubt the rich Jasmine of Carolina would counterbalance all these advantages in our estimation, were we to see it enlivened by the humming-bird of Florida, which, in the vast forests of the New World, prefers its beautiful foliage to that of every other tree. • He builds his nest,” says St. Pierre, “in one of the leaves of this plant, which he rolls up into the form of a cone: he finds his subsistence in its red flowers, resenabling those of the foxglove, the nectareous glands of which he licks with his tongue; he squeezes into them his little body, which looks in these flowers like an emerald set in coral, and sometimes gets so far that he may be caught in this situation.” This little creature is the soul, the life, an essential accompaniment, of the plant in which he delights. When separated from her winged guest, this beautiful creeper is like a desolate widow who has lost all her charms.