Fate caused me to go to Ireland about this time last year. I dreaded the long night journey and the arrival on the gray winter morning. But were the steamers far less splendid sea-boats than they are, and the Waves every day as stormy as they sometimes are, I think it still would be well worth while for any garden-fancier to visit Ireland in January, if only to admire and enjoy the luxuriant green of the evergreens and the beauty of the winter-flowering shrubs. I had never seen Garry a elliptica in full beauty before. It had catkins six or seven inches long, flowering from end to end, one little flower growing out of the other like a baby chain made with cowslips. The Jasminum nudiflorum was not a flowering branch here and there, as in England, but one sheet of brilliant yellow flowers. This beautiful plant is very easy to propagate by laying some of the branches along the ground and covering them with earth. In six or seven months they will have made good root, and can be taken up and planted where desired. One house I saw in the neighbourhood of Dublin was covered on its southern side with the Clematis cirrhosa or winter-flowering Clematis from Algiers. The house was an old one, much frequented by John Wesley and mentioned in Southey's Life. On one of the thick strong walls, inside, was the following inscription (translated, I believe, from the German):

The Angels from their throne on high Look down on us with pitying eye,

That where we are but passing guests We build such strong and solid nests, And where we hope to dwell for aye We scarce take heed a stone to lay.

There is a strong, practical common-sense in the lines which would have appealed to Wesley's instincts.

I saw at Howth a beautiful plant of the Desfontainea spinosa, with its foliage so like the Holly and its handsome flowers in the form of a tube, bright scarlet tipped with yellow. This I had never seen flowering before, and one is not likely to come across it except under circumstances as favourable as those which belong to the Irish climate or to the west coast of Lancashire and Scotland. It seems almost a platitude to say that it is worth while going to Ireland to see the great beauty of the Irish Yew, one of the forms of the Common Yew, Taxus fastigiata. In old days in Ireland, I am told, it was called the Florence Court Yew, from Florence Court, where it was raised from seed about 1780. Seeds of this variety produce for the most part only the Common Yew, though some vary in form and tint. All the plants in cultivation are of the female sex, according to Loudon.

Whatever may be the climatic disadvantages of Ireland, such as sunlessness and damp, the air remains clear and pure, the soil is unexhausted, and it is free from many of the agricultural difficulties of other countries. In the south, at any rate, there are no manufactures, no smoke, no coal-mines, none of those things which injure the atmosphere in parts of England, and make the cultivation of vegetables and flowers difficult or even impossible. As in the troubles of individuals few things help more than sympathy with and an effort to understand the trials of others, so it is, I think, among nations. If Ireland could turn her attention to the trials England has gone through at various epochs of her history, of a kind which Ireland, through the very nature of circumstances, has escaped, there would be less of that one-sided judgment which inclines to think that all the woes of Ireland are peculiarly her own, yet solely due to the rule of the English. Troubles and difficulties come to all nations alike, and certainly England herself is in no way exempt. "Witness, for instance, the terrible misery produced by the introduction of machinery, the cotton famines, and even the legislation of recent days which stopped the importation of rags for fear of the cholera. Let those who care for a vivid picture of such times read an old, forgotten novel by Benjamin Disraeli, written in the early part of this reign and called 'sybil.'

During a short excursion into the country by rail I was shocked to see how the trees, already less plentiful than they ought to be, proclaimed that sure sign of neglect - they were almost invariably covered with Ivy. This beautiful semi-parasitical plant is very picturesque, and many people have a sentimental love for it from its greenness in winter; but it destroys the trees, and though it may hasten the end of very old trees to cut the Ivy down suddenly, it should always be killed on young trees - by cutting it through the stem at the base and allowing it to perish and fall away. I am told that one of the curious effects of the last Land Act is that the proprietors of land imagine they have an unlimited right to cut down their trees, without considering the evil effects this will have on the future climate and wealth of their country. As it is, Ireland has been far too much deprived of her forests in the past, and I, with the tyranny of one who imagines that she understands everybody's affairs better than they do themselves, should make the cutting-down of trees penal. The wise old Dutch settlers at the Cape understood this subject well. They made a law which enforced that every man who cut down one tree should plant two in its stead. Everybody who has a little plot of land should never fail every autumn to plant some acorns, beech-nuts, chestnuts, etc. Many trees will also strike from cuttings in spring, notably all the Willow tribe, which grow the moment they are stuck into the ground. If I were a young Irishman I should delight in thus renewing the woods and copses of my country. We know how the Irish love the soil, and the feeling is not badly expressed in this little poem, which I copied from an English newspaper:

Often I wish that I might be,

In this divinest weather, Among my father's fields - ah me!

And he and I together.

Below the mountains, fair and dim,

My father's fields are spreading: I'd rather tread the sward with him

Than dance at any wedding.

Oh, green and fresh your English sod,

With daisies sprinkled over, But greener far were the fields I trod

That foamed with Irish clover.

Oh, well your skylark cleaves the blue

To bid the sun good-morrow! 'Tis not the bonny song I knew

Above an Irish furrow.

And often, often, I'm longing still,

In this all-golden weather, For my father's face by an Irish hill,

And he and I together.