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may be worlds peopled like ours, with valleys flower-bordered, and greenwoods waving under sunny skies. Or are they the abodes of blessed spirits,-beings who have passed through this vale of tears, and are now placed in those starry dwellings, far from care and sorrow ?
“ 'Tis midnight! on the mountains brown
The cold round moon shines deeply down;
And mix with their eternal ray !” So sang Byron; and we think of those hours when care sat heavily upon the heart—when we wandered abroad in such a scene, amid the stillness of the hills, by the dreaming forests, and called death “ soft names in many a mused rhyme," and wished to “ cease upon the midnight with no pain,” and gazed on the blue sky, the burning stars, the serenity of earth and air, all silent as the grave. Then we fain would have peered through the azure vault, or listened to those voices which we once loved, singing now beyond the moon, far away in the echoing domes of heaven. - Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons ? Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy ?”
I know not what effect snow has upon the air in retarding the progress of sound; but I have often observed that everything which at other times is heard distinct, now seems muffled. The ringing of a bell, shouting, the firing of a gun, the barking of a dog, all appear far more distant. And in those sounds which we are accustomed to hear daily the change is at first
surprising. The whole highway is covered with snow several inches thick: the village streets appear silent; you see the usual stir, but they move more like things in dreams.
The huge waggon, that at other times shakes the earth with its load, now moves along a thing of silence ; even the horses' feet are muffled. You are obliged to look sharply behind and around you, or some hasty rider will be upon you as suddenly as if he had sprung from the earth. Even the bullock driven by the butcher lows upon your ear before you are aware of his presence. Then to see all the snow-covered cottages rising one above another on the hill-side, “piled high like cloud on cloud,” dimly gleaming under a white sky too, as “if earth and heaven were formed of snow.” Then to see the anxiety of the farmers in the morning, going out to examine their fields, looking over the hedges or standing upon some gate to number their sheep; and if they miss one, exploring all the hollows where the snow has drifted, and at last, perhaps, finding it grazing securely knee-deep in some ditch on the few green things that yet remain. I cannot resist quoting the following description of winter, which Warton has modernized from the old poetry of Gawain (or Gavin) Douglas.
“ The fern withered on the miry fallows, the brown moors assumed a barren mossy hue ; banks, sides of hills, and bottoms, grew white and bare; the cattle looked hoary from the dank weather, the wind made the red reed waver on the dyke. From the crags and the foreheads of the yellow rocks hung great icicles, in length like a spear. The soil was dusky and grey, bereft of flowers, herbs, and grass : in every holt and forest the woods were stripped of their array. Boreas blew his buglehorn so loud, that the solitary deer withdrew to the dales; the small birds flocked to the thick briars, shunning the tempestuous blast, and changing their loud notes to chirping; the cataracts roared, and
linden-tree whistled and bowed to the sounding of the wind. The poor labourers, wet and weary, draggled in the fen; the sheep and shepherds lurked under the hanging
banks or wild broom. Warm from the chimney-side, and refreshed with generous cheer, I stole to my bed, and lay down to sleep when I saw the moon shed through the window her twinkling glances and wintry light ; I heard the horned bird, the night-owl, shrieking horribly with crooked bill from her cavern; I heard the wild geese with screaming cries fly over the city through the silent night. I was soon lulled to sleep, till the cock, clapping his wings, crowed thrice, and the day peeped. I waked and saw the moon disappear, and heard the jackdaws cackle on the roof of the house. The cranes, prognosticating tempests, in a firm phalanx pierced the air with voices sounding like a trumpet. The kite, perched on an old tree fast by my chamber, cried lamentably, a sign of the dawning day. I rose, and half opening my window, perceived the morning, livid, wan, and hoary; the air overwhelmed with vapour and cloud, the ground stiff, grey, and rough; the branches rustling, the sides of the hills looking black and hard with the driving blasts, the dew-drops congealed on the stubble and rind of trees, the sharp hailstones deadly cold and hopping on the thatch.”
Rosemary buds this month; and although it is but little noticed in our day excepting in a few out-of-the-way villages, it was held in great esteem by our ancestors. Formerly they used it to stir their foaming tankards, which held more good things than they do now. It was also usual to dip this plant in their cups at a wedding, before drinking the health of the new-married couple; and it was borne before the bride at marriages, and sometimes strewed upon the path of the bridal party as they returned from church : the couch was also decorated with rosemary. Shakspeare, who took great note of old customs, puts rosemary into the hands of Ophelia, who presents it as a remembrance. The bier of the dead was adorned with this herb; and we read of a young bride dying on her wedding-day, and the rosemary which was destined for her bridal was used to grace her funeral. In an old play, one of the characters wishes for his friend to have at his funeral
" A sprig of rosemary, dipt in common water,
To smell at as they walk along the streets.' Herrick in his Hesperides thus addresses the rosemary :
“ Grow for two ends, it matters not at all,
Be 't for my bridal or my burial.” The custom of dragging a plough through the towns and villages on Plough Monday is still preserved in Lincolnshire among the peasantry. They also repeat some verses, of which I remember but little, although I have no doubt of their antiquity. They seldom failed to obtain a sufficient sum of money to furnish them with a supper in the evening ; when they assembled with their sweethearts at the public-house, and danced in all the finery of paint, ribands, and masks. Generally one of them was dressed in woman's costume, and enacted the part of Maid Marian, singing also something beginning with
“ When Robin Hood and me
Lived under the greenwood tree,
So merrily, so merrily.” Their antics bore no bad resemblance to Jim Crow, having in them innumerable " wheel-abouts” and “turn-abouts,” especially the above-mentioned gentleman, who figured in a gaudycoloured print gown, borrowed doubtless from some dairymaid, whose waist bore a greater resemblance to an animated apple-dumpling than the Venus of Canova.
Others were dressed in white smockfrocks, stitched and ornamented at the bosoms: they carried long wagon-whips over their shoulders, which they were at times compelled to use on the backs and legs of the boys, who were always ready with the epithets of "country joskins," “ clodhoppers,” and such like phrases; and when the “ploughboys” had drunk pretty freely, war was sometimes waged between them and the warriors of the markettown. Then followed a scene which it would be difficult to describe—Maid Marian being the point of contest, and his gown the banner for which the enemy struggled.
I shall conclude this month with an extract from Grahame.
“ All out-door work