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[12] of the equisetum (horsetail or scouring-rush), and the rich, coarse vegetation of the veratrum, or American hellebore. In moist copses the ferns and osmundas begin to uncurl in April, opening their soft coils of spongy verdure, coated with woolly down, from which the humming-bird steals the lining of her nest.

The early blossoms represent the aboriginal epoch of our history: the bloodroot and the May-flower are older than the white man, older perchance than the red man; they alone are the true Native Americans. Of the later wild plants, many of the most common are foreign importations. In our sycophancy we attach grandeur to the name ‘exotic;’ we call aristocratic garden-flowers by that epithet; yet they are no more exotic than the humbler companions they brought with them, which have become naturalized. The dandelion, the buttercup, chickweed, celandine, mullein, burdock, yarrow, whiteweed, nightshade, and most of the thistles,—these are importations. Miles Standish never crushed them with his heavy heel as he strode forth to give battle to the savages; they never kissed the daintier foot of Priscilla, the Puritan maiden. It is noticeable that these are all of rather coarser texture than our indigenous flowers; the children instinctively recognize this, and are apt to omit them when gathering the more delicate native blossoms of the woods.

There is something touching in the gradual retirement before civilization of these fragile aborigines. They do not wait for the actual brute contact of red bricks and curbstones, but they feel the danger miles away. The Indians called the low plantain ‘the white man's footstep;’ and these shy creatures gradually disappear the moment the red man gets beyond hearing. Bigelow's delightful book ‘Florula Bostoniensis’ is becoming a series of epitaphs. Too well we know it,—those of us who in happy Cambridge childhood often gathered, almost within a stone's-throw of Professor Agassiz's new museum, the arethusa and the gentian, the cardinal-flower and the gaudy rhexia,—we who remember the last secret hiding-place of the rhodora in West Cambridge, of the yellow violet and the Viola debilis in Watertown, of the Convallaria trifolia near Fresh Pond, of the Hottonia beyond Wellington's Hill, of the Cornus florida in West Roxbury, of the Clintonia and the dwarf ginseng in Brookline,—we who have found in its one chosen nook the sacred Andromeda polifolia of Linnaeus. Now vanished almost or wholly from city suburbs, these fragile creatures still linger in more rural parts of Massachusetts; but they are doomed everywhere, unconsciously, yet irresistibly; while others still more shy, as the Linnaea, the yellow Cypripedium, the early pink Azalea, and the delicate white Corydalis or ‘Dutchman's breeches,’ are being chased into the very recesses of the Green and White Mountains. The relics of the Indian tribes are supported by the Legislature at Martha's Vineyard, while these precursors of the Indian are dying unfriended away.

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