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the fruit in an English market more certain than in the marts of the land where it is grown, thousands of miles away? And then, as to our trees and our flowers, with the oak and the birch, the beech and the pine, we need not sing so very small before the teak or the palm, the cork tree, and the cedar. Our flowers have not perhaps the variegated brilliancy of those of tropic lands, but the latter are scentless. As the birds of southern lands, with all their gaiety of plumage, and glancing hues, are still mute,—noiseless beautiful only to the eye, so the flowers round which they fit have none of the eloquence, the true language of flowers, which rises up in grateful exhalations from the wall-flower or the rose ; they have no “sweetness to waste upon the desert air." :1 . It will be remembered moreover that, while our land grows so profusely the vegetable luxuries of the table, we are not behindband with the more substantial productions of the fields. We have wheat as good as that of the Baltic, while we have fruit much better. We can give the world both saccharine and mealy vegetables, furnish dinner and desert with the same excellence and in almost equal profusion.'

There is yet another test by which we may try our climate. The country which produces the smallest number of living animals noxious to man must, cæteris paribus, be the one most agreeable to live in, and as the climate has a direct effect in the production of these animals, the climate which sins least in this respect must so far be the best. Now how are we off in this respect ? We seem just in the happy medium, where neither heat nor cold exercise their worst powers. Go North, and amid dreary pine-forests and thick-falling snows-the wolf begins to appear ; not much further on, you come into the land of the bear, brown and white-lankyhaired and shaggy-growling now in woody defiles, now on floating icebergs, the ugliest customer of an ugly climate. But if you wish to shun the cold, turn southwards ; the first intimation, so far as animal life goes, you receive of the increasing solar power, is the appearance of those swarms of flying and creeping abominations which our maligned climate permits not the presence of. Gnats, mosquitoes, locusts, in the air ; centipedes and tarantellas on the earth, somewhat detract from the glory of olive groves and the romance of the cypress and myrtle. Pursue your way still further, cross the boundaries of Asia and Africa, and the increasing brightness of the sun increases the unpleasantness and dangers of the earth; the serpent coiled in the rotten stump, the scorpion venomous

in his dark hiding-place, beasts of prey lurking in every jungle, the harmless bat exaggerated into the blood-sucking vampire, crocodiles in the rivers, sharks in the seas,-behold some of the pleasant inhabitants of brighter skies and less changeable atmospheres than our own. Talk as you like of the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics, expatiate on the palm or the bread-fruit, on the patriarchal trees of primeval forests; but remember the company they harbour ; remember the things crawling and creeping, crouching and bounding, with which they swarm, and balance our lack of pomegranates and avacoda pears, by our exemption from the spring of the tiger and the coil of the boa.

I verily think that a glance at the array of insect and reptile abominations which entomologists are so fond of sticking pins through and arranging in a species of monster meeting in cabinets of natural history, is quite enough to make any sane man congratulate himself with a perfect flush of inward delight, that his lot is cast in a land where the most formidable insect plagues consist of an occasional wasp in the summer air, and an occasional black beetle crawling over the winter's hearth-not that I have any affection for either race-on the contrary, I cordially wish that a war of extermination could somehow be got up between the fat gentleman in black and the thin gentleman in yellow. But after all, what are they to those horrible beings with no end of legs—with eyes where nobody would look for eyes--and, as Sidney Smith said, with heads where, with all submission, their tails ought to be? What are our poor hopping fleas, industrious or idle-our harmless “ crickets on the hearth”-our buzzing bluebottles, to the entomological abortions one sees in the British Museum--spiders, like crabs rubbed over with bears' grease and turned hairy-scorpions with their horny eyes and fever-giving stings, the only satisfactory trait in their character, by the way, being their reported aptitude to sting themselves out of the world-centipedes, those obscure things, those most acherontic individuals, from a swarm of which I am sure I would run faster than from a park of artillery?

Consider for a moment the jolliness of a life in those climates, where when you rise you may find a scorpion ensconced in the toe of each boot, a legion of white ants in the act of devouring your Sunday clothes, mosquitoes innumerable, who never leave off devouring yourself animals, to quote Sidney Smith again, with their mouths in their bellies, walking with a hundred feet over the breakfast bread and butter—where, when you go out to walk, your wife may get a real boa round her neck—where royal tigers look in upon pic-nic parties—where your cachinnations at your own joke may be echoed by those of the laughing hyenawhere, literally, and actually, you cannot keep the wolf from the door, and where finally, the metaphorical lion of a party may suddenly disappear down the throat of a bona fide animal of the name so unthinkingly assumed. Verily

“ England, with all thy faults I love thee stil.” No lions, no boas, no tigers, no scorpions, no rattle-snakes:-surely a couple of dozen extra rainy days in the year, and a sky of not quite so indigo a hue, may be excused in consideration of their neither watering nor warming such gentry.

I have thus run through a few of the considerations which, as I think, ought to induce us to reconsider the verdict so generally, yet on so light grounds recorded against our climate. By our ability to remain out of doors without risk or inconvenience more hours per day and more days per year in England than in almost any other country-by our exemption from whirlwinds, tornadoes, earthquakes, siroccoes, simooms-by our escape from seasons of ceaseless rain, ceaseless heat, ceaseless cold by our longer and more healthy lives by the lieroes and heroines whom our skies have bent over-by the harmless glories of our majestic woods, the rich greenery of our fields—by the fruits we eat, the flowers we smell, the birds we hear, the beasts we have and the beasts we have not, the inoffensive reptiles we possess, and the offensive reptiles we do not-by all these considerations, on all these grounds, I call upon the reader, even though an easterly draught be chilling him, or a London fog be blinding him, or a sudden rattling shower be destroying his hopes of a pleasant walk before dinner, to bear those little inflictions in good humour, to look upon them only in the light of slight drawbacks to the general excellence, the general healthfulness of the climate of Great Britain.

A. B. R.

252

WINTER SCENE.

'Tis such a night when herdsmen first begin
To house and fodder up their cattle ; when white frost
Hangs thick upon the brookside-hedge, and meads,
Close cropp'd, rustle beneath the tread, and to the gates
The kine, with argent frost come silver'd o'er,
Puffing their cloudy breath i'the moon's face.
With wicker maund the merry maiden trips,
To gather linen from the orchard pale :-
Anon she spreads it steaming at the hearth ;-
Anon heaps logs upon the blazing pile;
Her pretty rounded arm shows dappled o'er,
- And on her modest cheek the frolic kiss
Of snowy-headed Winter sits in blushes.
All night Old Frost works wond'rous alchemy,
And every noteless bush and mossy stone
Of wrought, enchased silver, shows at morn;
Round glittering sloes, that peep'd through leafy shades,
Like elfin-eyes in the dusk twilight hour,
A misty bloom, as on Damascus blade,
At dawn enwraps. The brook its wonted song
Sings in another key ; the richly-jewell'd fern,
And pendant branches hung with crystal bells,
Their icy cymbals clash in harmony,
A low, clear, ringing music often heard,
In quiet places on so sweet a night."
From perilous rocks the venerable goat,
With hoary-hermit beard looks sagely down,
And ruminates on change. The mountain tops
Hyems usurps-already there encamp'd
With beamy lance, and mail crystalline-proof,
He opes the drear campaign of vict'ry sure.*

J. SCHOLE3. ". In “A Sermon on Winter,” a hope-breathing, touching discourse, by the Rev. Robert Maclellan, of Bridport, the vicissitudes of the season are eloquently set forth. “A good preacher," he says, “is white-headed Winter : he not only, as regards the Spring, goes forth to prepare the way of the Lord ; ' but clad in his snowy surplice, without controversy, this doctrine he ever crieth in the wilderness, Distrust not the providence of the Most High God, even when all in the natural or moral world is most dark and cold, and sombre, for out of such things He ever bringeth liglit, and heat, and gladness.'"

253

· THE PRESS AND THE PEOPLE.

THE progress of literature, and the improvement of the people, have run like parallel streams ; when the current of the one has been impeded, the course of the other has flagged. The people may regard the press as having given them a second birth : it has infused soul into their civil life. The first newspaper, looking back upon it as I do now, as the first seed of the giant tree which is spreading its wide arms over the length and breadth of the land, the appearance of that newspaper is an epoch. in history. It belongs, I need scarcely say, to the time of Elizabeth, that starchamber dame, who little thought what work such prints would one day make among the descendants of her loyal liegés.” At the eventful period of the Spanish Armada, when the transmission and diffusion of intelligence regarding the important movements of the time was matter of great interest, “ The English Mercurie” was issued. Many of these papers, bearing the date of 1588, and printed while the Spanish fleet was in the channel, may be seen at the British Museum. The Commonwealth was prolific of periodicals, but they were devoted to mere party purposes, and were full of the scurrility and malignity of minds antagonised at all points on matters of politics and religion. The same remark may apply to the first daily paper after the Revolution, " The Orange Intelligencer." The dark background of that period may serve to throw out in high relief the freedom of the present day. At that time, none of the proceedings of parliament were permitted publicity except upon authority. The progress of journalizing was not, however, rapid ; for in the reign of Queen Anne, London had but one daily paper-if such was the feast in the metropolis, what must have been the famine in the provinces ! How dormant lay the popular energies—crude diamonds, encrusted and embedded in the unopened, unsuspected mine! How barren the soil over which the plough had never passed to turn its virgin bösom to the fertilizing sunshine-how worse than barren was it, yielding rank crops of weeds--prejudices, superstitions, brutalisms,--the sad remains of which are fast ilying before the steam-press and the

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