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How steeped in the beauty of moonlight are all those pale, pillared churches, courts and cloisters, shrines and altars, with here and there a statue standing in the shade, or monument sacred to the memory of the pious—the immortal dead! Some great clock is striking from one of many domes—from the majestic tower of St. Mary Magdalenand in the deepened hush that follows the solemn sound, hark how the mingling waters of the Cherwell and the Isis soften the severe silence of the holy night!
Remote from kindred, and from all the friendships that were the native growth of the fair fields where our boy. hood and our youth had roamed, and meditated, and dreamed, those were yet years of high and lofty mood, which held us in converse with the shades of great poets and sages of old in Rhedicyna's hallowed groves, still, serene, and solemn, as that Grecian Academe where divine Plato, with all Hybla on his lips, discoursed such excellent music, that this life seemed to the imagination spiritualised—a dim reminiscence of some former state of being. How sank then the Christmas service of that beautiful liturgy into our hearts ! Not faithless we to the simple worship that our forefathers had loved; but con. science told us there was no apostacy in the feelings that rose within us when that deep organ 'gan to blow, that choir of youthful voices so sweetly to join the diapason,our eyes fixed all the while on that divine picture over the altar, of our Saviour
“ Bearing his cross up rueful Calvary." But “a change comes o'er the spirit of my dream.” How beautiful in the setting sunlight are these mountains of soft crimson snow! The sun hath set, and even more beautiful are the bright-starred nights of winter, than sum. mer in all its glories beneath the broad moons of June ! Through the woods of Windermere, from cottage to cottage, by coppice-pathways winding up to dwellings among the hill-rocks, where the birch-trees cease to grow,
“Nodding their heads, before us go,
The merry minstrelsy." They sing a salutation at every door, familiarly naming old and young by their Christian names ; and the eyes that
look upward from the vales to the hanging huts among the plats and cliffs, see the shadows of the dancers ever and anon crossing the light of the starlike window; and the merry music is heard like an echo dwelling in the sky! across those humble thresholds often did we on Christmas nights of yore-wandering through our solitary sylvan haunts, under the branches of trees within whose hollow trunk the squirrel slept-venture in, unasked, perhaps, but not unwelcome ; and in the kindly spirit of the scason, did our best to merrify the festival by tale or song. And now that we behold them not, are all those woods, and cliffs, and rivers, and tarns, and lakes, as beautiful as when they sostened and brightened beneath our living eyes half-creating, as they gazed, the very paradise that they worshipped! · And are all those hearths as bright as of yore, without the shadow of our figure? And the roofs, do they ring as mirthfully, though our voice be forgotten ?
But little cause have we to lament that that paradise is now to us but as remembered poetry-poetry got by heart deeply engraven there—and to be read at any thoughtful hour we choose-charged deeper and deeper still with old memories and new inspirations. The soul's best happiness is independent of time and place. Such accidents touch it not—they “ offer not even any show of violence, it being a thing so majestical.” And lo! another new series of Christmas festivals has to us been born! For there are our own living flowers in our family garland! And as long as he, who gave them their bloom and their balm, averts not from them or us the sunshine of his countenance, content-oh! far beyond content-would we be with this, the most sacred of all religious festivals, were it even to be holden by us far apart from them in some dun. geon's depth !
Ay-well may we say-in gratitude, not in pridethough, at such a sight, pride might be thought but a venial sin within a father's heart, There is our Christmas rose”—while a blush brightens the beauty of a face that we will call “ fair, not pale," and brighter and softer than the leaves of any rose, the ringlets dance over her forè. head to the breeze of joy, and bliss and innocence give themselves vent in one of our own Scotia's pleasant but pathetic songs !
But the heart hugs such treasures as these in secret,and if revealed at all to other eyes, it must be by but a fleeting and a partial light. Few words are needed to awaken, before parental eyes, the visions now stealing be. fore mine—and, broken and all imperfect though these effusions may be, yet may they touch with pensive pleasure some simple hearts, that recognise the expression of some of their own emotions,-similar, or the same, although life and its circumstances may have been diffe. rent,-for in every single sentence, if it be but sincere, a word or two may be found, that shall awaken some complete reminiscence of joy, as the striking but of two notes at once fills ear and heart with a well known-tune, and gives it the full power of all the melody.
The lamp glimmers as it would expire,—the few embers are red and low,—and those are the shadows of moonlight on the walls. How deep a hush! Let me go and hear them breathing in their sleep,—and whisper-for it will not disturb them-a prayer by the bedside of my children. To-morrow is Christmas day—and thankful am I indeed to Providence !
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1828.)
A BANK of flowers is certainly one of the most gor. geous sights beneath the sun; but what is it to that board of books? Our old eyes are dazzled with the splendour, and are forced to seek relief and repose on the mild moreen of those window-curtains, whose drapery descends as simply as the garb of a modest quakeress. Even then, all the colours of the rainbow continue dancing on their orbs, and will permit them to see no. thing in its true light. But now, the optical spectra evanish-our sight becomes reconciled to the various glitter-the too powerful blaze seems tamed down-the lustre of the hues subside, and we can bear, without winking, or placing our fingers before our face, to keep a steady gaze on the bright confusion. Why, bookbinding has become a beautiful art! Chance it was that fung together all those duodecimos, post-octavos, quartos, and folios, of kid, call, silk, satin, velvet, russia, morocco, white, gray, green, blue, yellow, violet, red, scarlet, crimson—yet what painter, with the most glorious eye for colour, ever with laborious study, cheered by fits of sudden inspiration, pictured a board of fruits, although worthy of the trees of Paradise, of more multifarious splendour ?
Lovers are we, and have been all our life long, of charming, of divine Simplicity. But Simplicity is a lady, not only of fine taste, but-would you believe it?of rich imagination. Often have we seen her gazing with rapt spirit and tearful eyes on the setting sun, on the sea, on cataracts, on regiments of cavalry, on an VOL. I.
English county of groves, woods, gardens, orchards, rivers, plains, noblemen's and gentlemen's old family. mansions, steeple-towers, churches, abbeys, cathedrals. We have seen Simplicity, like a nun at worship, reading Isaiah, and Homer, and Dante, and Ariosto, and Tasso, and Shakspeare, and Milton, and Maga. Simplicity loves all the riches and splendour of the east and of the west, the north and the south. Her hair she loves not to adorn with many diamonds-one single solitary jewel on her forehead, like a star. But pale pearls are here and there interspersed among her locks, at once softening and deepening their darkness; they lie like dewdrops or buds of white roses, along the lilies of her breast; with pearls of great price is her virgin zone bespangled--and, as she lists her snow-white hand, there is a twinkle of radiance from a stone that would ransom great kings from captivity!"
You understand, then, that there is no reason in the world, or in the nature of things, why Simplicity should not stand with her arm in ours, leaning lovingly on our shoulder-pressing fondly on our side and admire with us the mild, meek, soft, gentle, tender, dim, dazzling, bold, fierce, fiery, corruscating, cometary, planetary, lunar, solar, aurora borealis and lightning-like radiance of that sea-green board, mad with the magnificence of that myriad-minded inultitude of
But let Simplicity by and by turn her eyes towards that opening door-for footsteps are on the stair-and like hours are they coming-all dressed in white raiment, as befits and bespeaks their innocence-a chosen band of maidens, to receive from the hands of good old Father Christopher-cach an appropriate volume or volumes to add to her little library, growing by degrees, year after year, like a garden that the skilful florist extends with its sloping banks towards the sunny south-each spring visiting a rarer, richer show of her own fairest and most favourite Aowers.
We are not a married man, like the writer of Christ