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ESSAYS, HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL
THE NEW YEAR.
ERE our sheet shall have passed from the press into the hands of our readers, we shall have entered on a new year. It is barely ninety degrees distant from us at the present moment. It landed on the eastern extremity of Asia as the 1st of January 1845, just as we were rising from our breakfasts in Edinburgh on the 31st of December 1844; and it has been gliding westwards towards us, in the character of one o'clock in the morning, ever since. In a few hours more it will be striding across the backwoods of America, in its seven-league boots, and careering over the Pacific in its canoe. And then, at some undefinable point, not yet fixed by the philosopher, it will find itself transformed from the first into the second day of the year; and thus it will continue to roll on, round and round, like an Archimedes screw, picking up at every gyration an additional unit, until the three hundred and sixty-five shall be complete.
The past year has witnessed many curious changes, as a dweller in time; the coming year has already looked down on many a curious scene, as a journeyer over space.
seen Cochin-China, with all its unmapped islands, and the ancient empire of Japan, with its cities and provinces unknown to Europe. It has heard the roar of a busy population amid the thousand streets of Pekin, and the wild dash of the midnight tides as they fret the rocks of the Indian Archipelago. It has been already with our friends in Hindustan; it has been greeted, we doubt not, with the voice of prayer, as the slow iron hand of the city clock indicated its arrival to the missionaries at Madras; it has swept over the fever jungles of the Ganges, where the scaled crocodile startles the thirsty tiger as he stoops to drink, and the exposed corpse of the benighted Hindu floats drearily past. It has travelled over the land of pagodas, and is now entering on the land of mosques. Anon it will see the moon in her wane, casting the dark shadows of columned Palmyra over the sands of the desert; and the dim walls of Jerusalem looking out on a silent and solitary land, that has cast forth its interim tenants, and waits unappropriated for the old predestined race, its proper inhabitants. In two short hours it will be voyaging along the cheerful Mediterranean, greeting the rower in his galley among the isles of Greece, and the seaman in his barque embayed in the Adriatic. And then, after marking the red glare of Etna reflected in the waves that slumber around the moles of Syracuse,—after glancing on the towers of the Seven-hilled City, and the hoary snows of the Alps,—after speeding over France, over Flanders, over the waves of the German Sea, it will be with ourselves, and the tall ghostly tenements of Dun-Edin will re-echo the shouts of the High Street. Away, and away, it will cross the broad Atlantic, and visit watchers in their beacon-towers on the deep, and the emigrant in his log-hut, among the brown woods of the west; it will see the fire of the red man umbering with its gleam tall trunks and giant branches, in some deep glade of the forest; and then mark, on the far shores of the Pacific,