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burden of all grovelling thoughts, and strong in its spi. rituality, it exults to soar
“Beyond this visible diurnal sphere,” nearing and nearing the native region of its own incomprehensible being !
Now touching, we said, with their tips the bosom of this dearly beloved earth! How sweet that attraction to imagination's wings! How delightful in that lower flight to skim along the green ground, or as now along the softbosomed beauty of the virgin snow! We were asleep all night long—sound asleep as children—while the flakes were falling, and « soft as snow on snow” were all the descendings of our untroubled dreams. The moon and all her stars were willing that their lustre should be veiled by that peaceful shower-and the sun, pleased with the purity of the morning.earth, all white as innocence, looked down from heaven with a meek unmelting light, and still leaves undissolved the stainless splendour. There is frost in the air-but he “ does his spiriting gently,” studding the ground-snow thickly with diamonds, and shaping the tree-snow according to the peculiar and characteristic beauty of the leaves and sprays on which it has alighted almost as gently as the dews of spring. You know every kind of tree still by its own spirit showing itself through that fairy veil-momentarily disguised from recognition but admired the more in the sweet surprise with which again your heart salutes its familiar branches all fancifully ornamented with their snow-foliage, that murmurs not like the green leaves of summer, that like the yellow leaves of autumn strews not the earth with decay, but osten melts away into change so invisible and inaudible, that you wonder, in the sunshine, to find that it is all vanished, and to see the old tree again standing in its own faint-green glossy bark, with its many million buds, which perhaps fancy suddenly expands into a power of umbrage impenetrable to the sun in Scorpio.
Lo! a sudden burst of sunshine, bringing back the pen. sive spirit from the past to the present, and kindling it, till it dances like light reflected from a burning mirror! Be. hold what a cheerful sun-scene, though almost destitute of life !- An undulating landscape, hillocky and hilly, but not mountainous, and buried under the weight of a day and night's incessant and continuous snowfall! The weather has not been windy-and now that the flakes have ceased falling, there is not a cloud to be seen, except some delicate braidings, here and there along the calm of the great blue sea of heaven. Most luminous is the sun, but you can look straight on his face, almost with unwinking eyes, so mild and mellow is his large light as it overflows the day. All enclosures have disappeared, and you indistinctly ken the greater landmarks, such as a grove, a wood, a hall, a castle, a spire, a village, a town,—the faint haze of a far off and smokeless city. Most intense is the silence. For all the streams are dumb, and the great river lies like a dead serpent in the strath. Not deadfor, lo ! yonder one of his folds glitters—and in the glitter you see him moving-while all the rest of his sullen length is palsied by frost, and looks livid and more livid at every distant and more distant winding. What blackens on that tower of snow ? Crows roosting innumerous on a huge tree-but they caw not in their hunger. Neither sheep nor cattle are to be seen or heard but they are cared for—the folds and the farm-yards are all full of lifeand the ungathered stragglers are safe in their instincts. There has been a deep fall—but no storm-and the silence, though .partly that of suffering, is not that of death. Therefore, to the imagination, unsaddened by the heart, the repose is beautiful. The almost unbroken uniformity of the scene—its simple and grand monotony-lulls all the thoughts and feelings into a calm, over which is breathed the gentle excitation of a novel charm, inspiring fancies, all of a quiet character. Their range, perhaps, is not very extensive, but they all regard the homeselt and domestic charities of life. And the heart burns as here and there some human dwelling discovers itself by a wreath of smoke up the air, or as the robin redbrcast, a creature that is ever at hand, comes flitting before your path with an almost pert flutter of his feathers, bold from ihe acquaintanceship he has formed with you in severer weather at the threshold or window of the tenement, which, for years, may have been the winter sanctuary of the “ bird whom man loves best," and who bears a Christian name in every clime he inhabits. Meanwhile the sun
waxes brighter and warmer in heaven-some insects are in the air, as if that moment called to life and the mosses that may yet be visible here and there along the ridge of a wall or on the stem of a tree, in variegated lustre frost. brightened, seem to delight in the snow, and in no other season of the year to be so happy as in winter. Such gentle touches of pleasure animate one's whole being, and connect by many fine associations, the emotions inspired by the objects of animate and inanimate nature, even sometimes giving to them all
“ The glory and the freshness of a dream !"
Ponder on the idea—the emotion of purity_and how finely soul-blent is the delight imagination feels in a bright hush of new-fallen snow! Some speck or stain-however slight—there always seems to be on the most perfect whiteness of any other substance-or " dim suffusion veils” it with some faint discolour-witness even the leaf of the lily or the rose. Heaven forbid that we should ever breathe aught but love and delight in the beauty of these consummate flowers ! But feels not the heart, even when the midsummer morning sunshine is melting the dews on their fragrant bosoms, that their loveliness is " of the earth earthy”-saintly tinged or streaked, when at the very fairest, with a hue foreboding languishment and decay ? Not the less for its sake are those soulless flowers dear to us—thus owning kindred with them whose beauty is all soul,
: “Oh, call it fair, not pale!"
enshrined for a short while on that perishable face! Do we not still regard these insensate flowers—so emblema. tical of what, in human life, we do most passionately love and profoundly pity-with a pensive emotion, often deepening into melancholy, that sometimes, ere the strong fit subsides, blackens into despair! Oh! what pain doubtless was in the heart of the elegiac poet of old, when he sighed over the transitory beauty of flowers,— Quam brevis— gratia florum !”—an imperfect remembrance of a beautiful lament! But over a perfectly pure expanse of night. fallen snow, when, unaffected by the gentle sun, the first
fine frost has incrusted it with small sparkling diamonds, the prevalent emotion is joy. So Cowper felt, when he simply said,
« The vault is blue, Without a cloud, and white without a speck The dazzling splendour of the scene below."
There is a charm in the sudden and total disappearance even of the grassy green. All the “old familiar faces” of nature are for a while out of sight, and out of mind. That white silence shed by heaven over earth carries with it, far and wide, the pure peace of another region-almost another life. No image is there to tell of this restless and noisy world. The cheerfulness of reality kindles up our revery ere it becomes a dream; and we are glad to feel our whole being complexioned by the passionless repose. If we think at all of human life, it is only of the young, the fair, and the innocent. “Pure as snow,” are words then felt to be most holy, as the image of some beautiful and beloved being comes and goes before our eyesbrought from a far distance in this our living world or, from a distance-far, far, farther still-in the world beyond the grave—the image of virgin growing up sinlessly to womanhood among her parents' prayers, or of some spiritual creature who expired long ago, and carried with her her native innocence unstained to heaven.
Such spiritual creature—too spiritual long to sojourn below the skies—wert thou—whose rising and whose setting—both most starlike-brightened at once all thy native vale, and at once left it in darkness. Thy name has long slept in our heart—and there let it sleep un. breathed-even as, when we are dreaming our way through some solitary place, without speaking we bless the beauty of some sweet wild-flower, pensively smiling to us through the snow!
The Sabbath returns on which, in the little kirk among the hills, we saw thee baptized. Then comes a wavering glimmer of seven sweet years, that to thee, in all their varieties, were but as one delightful season, one blessed life-and, finally, that other Sabbath, on which, at thy own dying request-between services thou wert buried !
How mysterious are all thy ways and workings, O gra
cious Nature! Thou who art but a name given by our souls, seeing and hearing through the senses, to the Being in whom all things are and have life! Ere two years old, she, whose dream is now with us, all over the small sylvan world, that beheld the revelation, how evanescent! of her pure existence—was called the wholy child !” The taint of sin-inherited from those who disobeyed in paradiseseemed from her fair clay to have been washed out at the baptismal font, and by her first infantine tears. So pious people almiost believed, looking on her so unlike all other children, in the serenity of that habitual smile that clothed the creature's countenance with a wondrous beauty, at an age when on other infants is but faintly seen the dawn of reason, and their eyes look happy, just like the thought. less flowers. So unlike all other children-but unlike only because sooner than they—she seemed to have had given to her-even in the communion of the cradlean intimation of the being and the providence of God. Sooner, surely, than through any other clay that ever enshrouded immortal spirit, dawned the light of reason and of religion on the face of the “ holy child.”
Her lisping language was sprinkled with words alien from common childhood's uncertain speech, that murmurs only when indigent nature prompts;—and her own parents wondered whence they came in her simplicity, when first they looked upon her kneeling in an unbidden prayer. As one mild week of vernal sunshine covers the braes with primroses, so shone with fair and fragrant feelingsunfolded, ere they knew, before her parents' eyes--the divine nature of her who, for a season, was lent to them from the skies. She learned to read out of the Biblealmost without any teaching—they knew not how-just by looking gladly on the words, even as she looked on the pretty daisies on the green-till their meanings stole insensibly into her soul, and the sweet syllables, succeeding each other on the blessed page, were all united by the memories her heart had been treasuring every hour that her father or her mother had read aloud in her hearing from the Book of Life. “Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”-how wept her parents, as these the most