One of the most gratifying evidences of progress and refinement, is the general love and appreciation of fruits and flowers. These have been too often considered as the mere superfluities of life, but the more we are brought into communion with them, the more shall we realize those pure and refined sensations which inspire the soul with love and devotion to Him who clothes the fields with a radiance, to which Solomon in all his glory could only aspire.

The cultivation of the garden, the ornamental planting of our grounds, and the general use of flowers afford striking proof of the high state of civilization which marks the progress of the present age. Within our own recollection the use of flowers at funerals was deemed improper, nor was their appearance in the sanctuary greeted with pleasure. They were thought to be inconsistent with the propricties of divine worship, as diverting the mind, and detracting from the solemnity of the occasion. God was not seen in flowers, in the rose, nor the lily of the valley. From the lovely forms and various hues of flowers, the glories and joys of the garden, the royal psalmist has derived some of the highest types of inspiration. We cannot therefore too highly or gratefully appreciate that divine wisdom and benevolence which has surrounded us with these manifestations of his perfection and glory, these beautiful creations,- "Mingled and made by love, to one great end."

Some of the most touching and beautiful, some of the most sacred and sublime inspirations of Scripture have been drawn from scenes in the garden. Nor has the imagination of the poet, philosopher or psalmist, ever conceived of any spot more chastening, more refining or more hallowed in its influence;" Though in heaven the trees Of life, ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines Yield nectar; though from off the boughs, each morn We brush mellifluous dews; yet God hath here Varied his bounty so with new delights, As may compare with heaven."

In no department of cultivation is improvement of taste to be more distinctly seen, than in the decoration of our grounds and the universal love of trees and plants. Many of your readers can remember the time when there were but few greenhouses in our country. Now, conservatories and other plant structures are to be seen in almost all our populous towns and villages, and so much has the taste and demand for plants and flowers increased, that many are devoted to special culture of the rose, the violet, or some other plant. Nor is this taste confined to the rich or middling class. Now almost every dwelling has its grape-vine or fruit - tree, its woodbine, scarlet - runner or morning-glory. Even window-gardening has become a science, and few arc so poor that their homes may not be lit up with the cheering influence of plant or flower, and their windows become more hallowed by the sweet influences of nature's bloom, than by the gaudy pageant-pane which perpetuates the name of a saint, - perhaps a sinner too. My heart has often been touched with tenderness and sympathy, when I have seen the poor laborer, after a hard day's work, carrying under his arm a rose or geranium, to cheer and solace the wife and weans at home.

These are the outer manifestations of the desires of the soul for that fairer and better clime where flowers shall never fade - the secret yearnings for that paradise beyond the skies which shall never be lost again.

Flowers are the embodiment of beauty; flowers are like angel spirits ministering to the finest sensibilities of our nature, often inspiring us with thoughts, which, like the unexpressed prayer, lie too deep for utterance. God speaks by flowers and plants and trees, as well as by the lips of his prophets and priests. So felt Bacon, who desired always to have flowers before him when exploring the mysteries of that divine philosophy which has made his name immortal. Flowers have a language, and like the starry firmament above, proclaim his handiwork and glory. God has imprinted a language on every leaf that flutters in the breeze, on every flower that unfolds its virgin bosom to the sun, teaching us the great lesson of his wisdom, perfection and glory. How beautifully does the English bard express this sentiment, " Your voiceless lips, O flowers, are living preachers; Each cup a pulpit, and each leaf a book."

Who would not listen to their teachings! who would not live with them forever! How intimately do they enter into our joys and affections! With what tenderness does Milton

[ describe the sorrow of our mother Eve when bidding farewell to her flowers in Eden, "O do were That never will in other climate grow, My early visitation and my last At even, which I bred up with tender hand From the first opening bud, and gave ye names; Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or rank Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount? "

The refining and chastening influence of woman, which so signally characterizes the progress of civilization, is especially to be seen in her love for the cultivation of fruits and flowers, and the adornment of "sweet home." It is but a few years since woman was permitted to grace the festive board of our agricultural and horticultural exhibitions. Now, no occasion of this kind is deemed complete without her presence. Formerly our tables were surrounded only with the stalks of humanity; now, they are adorned with the flowers of female loveliness, not "born to blush unseen." Nor is this all; she is now among our most successful cultivators, training with tenderness and care plants as delicate as her own person. Welcome woman, then, we say, to these festal occasions, to the grounds we cultivate, to our gardens and greenhouses, to all the beauties of nature and the pleasures of art, and to a paradise regained on earth.

Another strong evidence of the progress of refined taste and culture is seen in the establishment of our cemeteries, and the improvement of our burying-grounds. These once neglected and gloomy resting places of the dead, casting terror and horror on the minds of children and youth, are fast giving way to the shady retreats and sylvan scenes of the wood and forest. Where, formerly, decaying grass, tangled weeds and moss - covered tablets were generally to be seen, now may be witnessed beautiful natural scenery and embellished lots, which awaken sensations that no language can describe, where the meandering path leads to the spot in which rest the remains of the loved and lost of earth - where the rustling pine mournfully sighs in the passing breeze, the willow weeps in responsive grief, and the evergreen cypress, breathing in perennial life, is a fit emblem of those celestial fields, where the leaf shall never wither, the flower never fade, and fruition never end.

I know of no better temporal acquisition than a happy rural home, - a home where you may sit amid the fruiting of your trees and the blooming of your plants, - a home embellished by your own taste, and endeared by pleasures shared with the loved ones of your family - a happy country home, where you may find enjoyment, not in hungry greed for gold, not in the conflicts for political distinction, not in the strife for place, power or renown. For more than fifty years I have trod the crowded marts of trade and commerce; I have shared in the privileges and perplexities of public service, and I have enjoyed the soul-reviving sympathy of family and friends, but I have never forgotten my first love for rural life. Whenever I could rescue a little time from the cares of business - whether at rosy morn, golden noon or declining day, I have fled to the garden and greenhouse, to my favorite trees and plants, that I might commune and co-operate with nature in her secret laboratory of wonder-working power. This is my idea of a happy, rural home; and this is my idea of a happy man, - he who is contented with fruits and flowers reared by his own care, with congenial friends, and a good conscience towards God and his fellow men.

And it has ever appeared to me that contentment and happiness were easily to be acquired by all who really love the cultivation of these lovely objects. And let me add that I know of no more grateful, and I was about to say, devotional feelings, than those which we enjoy at the close of a quiet Sabbath summer day, when, with wife and children, we stroll along the bordered flowery walks, or sit in sweet converse under the umbrageous trees your hands have planted, just as the declining sun is fringing the horizon with rosy promise of a fairer to-morrow, and parting day is hushing universal nature to repose.