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where he stood, which warmed and cheered the poor child; the hail-storm ceased, the sharp north-east wind swept no more, whistling and howling, across the common; the clouds rolled away above, and the air grew bright and balmy; then there arose a twittering of birds in a hazel copse hard by, which the child had not before seen for the blinding showers, and presently a little lark sprung up from amid the green fresh grass, and spreading out its glossy brown wings, soared and soared high up into the blue heavens, singing the while as though in a perfect extacy of delight; and then a blackbird and a thrush, not liking to be outdone by the saucy little songster, began talking to each other from opposite sides of a meadow that lay beyond the copse of hazel trees, which were just then bursting into leaf; sweet it was to hear their rich musical voices, con trasting so pleasantly with the shrill piping of the merry lark, and sweet it was to smell the perfume of the violets, which put forth their purple and white blossoms on a mossy bark, that ran along the side of the copse, and to see, twinkling here and there, the golden stars of the pilewort, or celandine as it is commonly called, and the daisies, like silver studs set in a cloth of emerald green, for as yet their delicate pink-tipped leaves, or petals, which, ever in wet and gloomy weather fold up closely, had not spread themselves out again to the sun :-sweet it was, I say, to see and hear all these pleasant sights and sounds, and to inhale the perfume of the fresh flowers; doubly sweet after the gloomy and desolate aspect of all things previously; and the heart of the poor child revived within him, and the smile of hope once more played upon his face, now turned up to where the lark was singing what seemed a hymn of praise to the great God, who watches alike over birds and children, for, as the Scriptures say, he suffers not a sparrow to fall to the earth unnoticed ; and the boy knelt down and joined in the grateful offering, when, all at once, he felt as though the gentle hand were laid upon his head of a being bright and beautiful, who stood before him, and smiled upon him, and, in a voice which seemed like the mingled sound of birds, and bees, and whispering breezes, and rustling leaves, and all the softest and sweetest harmonies of nature, bade him be of good cheer, for God had heard his prayer, and had commanded the SEASONS to take him under their particular care, and therefore had she-the kind and tender SPRING—the first and fairest of them-come to conduct him through her pleasant domain, to provide for his bodily wants, to amuse and instruct his young mind, and thus perform her part of the duty assigned to the “ Children of the Year,” as the Seasons have been poetically called
Sisters two, and brothers two,
SFRING the mild and tender maiden,
Manly AUTUMN next we view ;
Stern old WINTER comes behind,
On the earth by turns sppear.
The child under the guidance of this spirit of beauty and freshness, wandering day by day through the meads and woodlands, which put forth their fairest flowers and their
brightest verdure at the approach of SPRING, while the streams and the rivulets flash and sparkle as she smiles upon them; the lambs bleat in the pastures, and leap and sport gaily; the cuckoo shouts joyously, and the ringdove coos tenderly in the woodland depths ; while the nightingale and the linnet, and, all the sweetest songsters of the forest and the grove, unite their voices as it were to welcome her ; in short, all things and creatures seem to exclaim
Welcome, SPRING, for thou dost bring
With thee sunshine and sweet flowers ;
While thou dwell'st amid the bowers.
And the heart of the child was filled with delight; every thing was so new and strange to him; all creatures so kind and lovely; the world seemed made for his enjoyment; he forgot his sorrows, and danced and sung amid the grass and the flowers, sometimes in the golden sunshine, sometimes in the tender shade of the trees which are earliest in leafing, for as yet not many of them could boast their full garniture, or dress, of beautiful green foliage. There was the broadleaved Sycamore putting on its rich attire, and the Oak, and the Elm, and the Chestnut, and many of the stateliest trees were but clothing themselves for the coming festivals of nature, as SUMMER is sometimes poetically called, while the Willow, and the Poplar, and the Alder, which generally grow in moist situations, were fully arrayed.
And amid all these the child walked and talked with the “ fair-handed SPRING," who, as the poet THOMSON says,
“ Throws out the snow-drop, and the crocus first,
These, and many other flowers, did she gather for her young charge, forming them into wreaths and garlands, pointing out their beauties, and telling him much of their history and qualities, “ Look," said she, “ look at this cluster of lovely Snow-drops ; seems it not as if the slightest gust of wind would bend them to the earth, and snap their green stems and break their airy cups into atoms? And yet they came up amid the snows of FEBRUARY, and have braved the fury of many an angry blast; it is not often that they are seen thus, several together, growing wild upon the hill side, or in the vale ; and it is nearly certain that, where they do spring up in this manner, there was once a monastery, or a nunnery, with its garden surrounded by high walls that al., most shut out the cheerful sun, where people, who were called monks and nuns, lived apart from the world, and spent their time in prayer and meditation. With these holy persons, as they were commonly considered, the Snow-drop was a favourite flower, as it is with us in the present day, partly from its extreme whiteness and delicacy of shape, and partly because it appears at a season when few other flowers are to be seen ; it seems, as one who loves flowers well and writes of them charmingly, has observed, to say; • Take courage; here am I come to cheer you with the hope of milder weather.' But see the crocuses; not those which are
« like drops of gold Studded o'er with the deep brown mould
of the gardens, but those of a lilac tint, which may be found, though rarely, blooming amid the fresh grass of the level mead : as the poetess of nature, Mary Howitt, says ;
"There's joy in many a thousand eye,
of lo! the crocuses !".
and she describes how the children run out and gether them by laps and baskets full, wild with delight at beholding what she terms 'the first joy of the year.' This is at one of those few places where they may be found growing abundantly. The Daisy, too, called by the old poets 'the Day's Eye,' or 'the Eye of Day, because it uncloses its pinky lashes,' as its leaves have been fancifully termed, when the sunshine begins to gladden the earth, and all things thereupon; how it twinkles here and there amid the grass, like a silver star with a golden centre;
" O'er waste and woodland, rock and plain,
Its humble buds unheeded rise ;
The daisy never dies.'*
sings the poet, and truly, for throughout the stormy reign of my stern brother, WINTER, it may be seen sprinkled, though scantily, over the down, and met with in the most unexpected places, hence it has been compared by another poet to 'a pleasant thought 't which comes into the mind and cheers and brightens it.
* J. Montgomery.