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look forth upon the same, what a bright pomp greets us ! what a white pageantry!-it is as if the fleecy clouds that float about the sun at midsummer had descended upon the earth and clothed it in their beauty.

“Every object we look upon is strange and yet familiar to us—'another, yet the same !' and the whole affects us like a vision of the night which we are half conscious is a vision; we know that it is there, and yet we know not how long it may remain, since a motion may change it, or a breath melt it away. And what a mysterious stillness reigns over all !—a white silence ! Even the clouted shoon' of the heavy peasant are not heard ; and the robin, as he hops from twig to twig with undecided wing, and shakes down a feathery shower as he goes, hushes his low whistle in wonder at the unaccustomed scene. Now the perennials, having slipped off their summer robes, and retired to their subterranean sleeping-rooms, just permit the tops of their naked heads to peep above the ground, to warn the labourer from disturbing their annual repose."

In country towns, the churches and houses are still decorated with evergreens, which give a lively appearance to the apartments at this dull season of the year. They remain until Twelfth-night, or Old Christmas-day, which is still kept up by many of the lovers of old customs. Merry Old Twelfth-night, I remember thee well, with all thy tempting shows in pastrycooks' windows !_temples, and cages, and bridges, and huge sugar-covered cakes, on which kings and queens were planted in painted dignity, standing fearless amid dragons and lions and serpents, and churches o’ertopped by white-roofed cottages. And then we had stomachs for all these, and could swallow a church-steeple and all, or devour a lion without being choked by his mane, or a serpent and not think of his sting. Poor old aunt! I have not forgotten thy large parlour, where we used to assemble on this evening for many a year ; nor the old oaken cupboard from which thou wert wont, with a smile on thy face, to draw forth the huge Twelfth-cake.

What a shouting and clapping of hands was there when it was placed upon the table ! Then what an anxious watching of eager eyes as the large carving-knife grated through the mountain-like moss, to the imminent peril of king and queen! And how narrowly each one examined the allotted share, and drew forth the secreted token which announced them as king and queen. Then we were allowed to taste thy home-made wine, which "cheered without inebriating ;" and we spent the evening in merry games and cheerful laughter, spinning the trencher, and playing forfeits which were redeemed by kisses. Hearken to old Herrick's sweet numbers, who loved to sing about ancient customs :

Begin then to chuse,

This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here ;

Be a king by the lot,

And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here.

66 Which known, let us make

Joy-sops with the cake ;
And let not a man then be seen here

Who, unurged, will not drink

To the base from the brink
A health to the king and the queen here.”

There is often at this period much to amuse in the fantastic figures which the frost assumes upon glass. What beautiful flowers spring up beneath the dwarf trees, on whose feathery branches hangs a delicate foliage of unwrought silver ! and all have been portrayed there within a few hours ;—forests, and trees, and flowers, and shaggy moss, and piled mountains such as our youthful fancies climbed, and thence looked down upon the whitened valley below, where rose castles and towers, while lines of armed horsemen with silver pennons and drooping plumes emerge from some rugged defile. Then out bursts the glorious sun, and the whole scenery has vanished.

The snow is also very beautiful when it has first fallen. Many of our poets have had recourse to the snow-flake for images of innocence and purity; nor do I know a fitter emblem than a falling flake, ere it receives the stain of earth. There are but few things with which we can compare snow. The Psalmist says,

“He giveth the snow like wool; he scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” It is usual to say,

as pale as death.” Byron has written, her eyes were black as death.” Thomson thus beautifully describes the appearance of a heavy fall of


" All on a sudden now the cherish'd fields

Put on their winter robe of purest white.
'Tis brightness all, save where the new snow melts
Along the mazy current; low the woods
Bow their hoar heads ; and ere the languid Sun
Faint from the west emits his evening ray,
Earth's universal face, deep hid and chill,
Is one wild dazzling waste, that buries wide

The works of man. “How delightful,” says Sturm, “is the face of Nature, when the morning light first dawns upon a country embosomed in snow! The thick mist which obscured the earth and concealed every -object from our view at once vanishes. How beautiful are the tops of the trees hoary with frost !—the hills and the valleys, reflecting the sunbeams, assume various tints—all Nature is animated by the genial influence of the bright luminary. If, during the absence of the sun, Nature droops and is overspread with gloom, when the horizon is again illuminated with cheering rays, she resumes her wonted gaiety, and, rolled in white, delights the traveller with her novel and delicate appearance. How beautiful to see the white hills, the forests, and the groves all sparkling! What a delightful combination these objects present !—the brilliancy of the hedges, the lofty trees bending beneath their dazzling burden, while the surface of the earth appears one vast plain mantled in white and splendid


array. Here and there, too, plants are seen to brave the rigours of winter, and by their verdure relieve the sterility of the

Here the hawthorn's tempting berries offer the feathered race a sweet repast; the ever-verdant laurustinus now delights with its flowers, and the never-fading yew-tree forms a dark shade. The creeping ivy still winds round the mouldering battlement, and defies the whistling wind and the storm's loud roar; the laurel blooms with verdure undiminished, and the lowly box looks green

amid the snow. “ Nature has provided most animals with a covering to preserve them from the winter's cold, as well as from the summer's heat. Those wild animals which dwell amid the forest and the desert are so admirably organised, that their hair, as summer advances, begins to fall from them, and grows again in winter. When cold renders a place of security requisite, other species find retreats; some under the bark of trees, others in the crevices of old buildings, and some within the clefts of rocks and in the caverns of mountains. It is there that they either live upon the food which instinct has taught them to provide, or they are nourished by the fat which they had previously secreted, or they pass the tedious length of winter in a torpid state, each according to the habits of its tribe.

“Some birds at the approach of winter retire to sheltered places ; other species possess an instinct which leads them at the commencement of cold to quit the frozen regions of the north, and wing their bold and arduous flight to more genial climes. The resources of those animals which do not change their abode in the winter are various : birds feed upon the insects which they are taught to peck among the moss and in the clefts of the bark of trees; many animals live upon

the provisions which they have providently stored in mer, others burrow beneath the snow and in the earth for support. Many species of insects and of fishes, though confined within marshes stiff by the frost, and in rivers and ponds whose surfaces are frozen, yet preserve their vitality. The harvest


and the long-tailed mouse will strip the wild clematis of its feathery seeds, and form themselves nests in the upper part of the hedges, preferring the open air with its occasional warmth to their chilly homes in the earth. The bullfinch rarely visits man for food : even in the severest season it lives upon hips and haws; and when such food fails, it seems low and spiritless, and, very often, numbers of them perish. In spring it will flock to the garden-trees, and make sad havoc with the young buds, preferring those which contain the embryo of the future blossom. The chaffinch also stays with us all winter, and is a great frequenter of our barns and farmyards. The tomtits reside with us throughout the year. It is wonderful how these insectivorous birds are supplied with food : although they are uncommonly active, they must possess great powers of abstinence. They roost under the eaves of our haystacks and the thatch of cottages, which they often destroy in searching for insects. They draw out spiders from the holes in walls, though closed by the cobweb. There is no bird more persevering. It is a cruel custom to give rewards for the heads of these inoffensive birds; they commit no depredations in our gardens, but destroy thousands of insects. Like the sparrows, they are a persecuted race; and the fees held out for their destruction render the children hardhearted, who engage readily in their capture, and are thereby taught to be unfeeling.”

How beautiful appears the sky at this season in frosty weather! the full round moon lighting the whitened earth, glancing upon tree and turret, mountain and river, in which the glittering stars are mirrored. We gaze upon them and think of the bygone days when our forefathers ploughed the wide waste of waters without compass or chart, guided by the stars alone. The shepherd-boy gazes upward as he returns from foddering his cattle, and thinks of the daisies of summer scattered, like them, upon the green earth. Our attention is arrested by their beauty; we see their dazzling silver twinkling in the deep blue of midnight, and wonder what they are.

Oh! they

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