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THE HOLY CHILD.

This House of ours is a prison—this Study of ours a cell. Time has laid his fetters on our feet-fetters fine as the gossamer, but strong as Samson's ribs, silken-soft to wise submission, but to vain impatience galling as cankered wound that keeps ceaselessly eating into the bone. But while our bodily feet are thus bound by an inevitable and inexorable law, our mental wings are free as those of the lark, the dove, or the eagle—and they shall be expanded as of yore, in calm or tempest, now touching with their tips the bosom of this dearly beloved earth, and now aspiring heavenwards, beyond the realms of mist and cloud, even unto the the still heart of that otherwise unapproachable sky which graciously opens to receive us on our flight, when, disencumbered of the burden of all grovelling thoughts, and strong in spirituality, we exult 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

very core 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 soft-bosomed 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 now the sun, pleased with the purity of the morning earth, all white as innocence, looks 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 snowfoliage, that murmurs not like the green leaves of summer, that like the yellow leaves of autumn strews not the earth with decay, but often melts away into changes so invisible and inaudible, that you wonder 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.

A sudden burst of sunshine! bringing back the pensive spirit from the past to the present, and kindling it, till it dances like light reflected from a burning mirror. 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 snow-fall. The weather has not been windy—and now that the fakes 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, yet 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 dead—for, 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 life - and 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 many fancies, all of a quiet character. Their range, perhaps, is not very extensive, but they all regard the homefelt 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 redbreast, a creature that is ever at hand, comes flitting before your path with an almost pert flutter of his feathers, bold from the 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 lụstre 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 a fine association, the emotions inspired by the objects of animate and of inanimate nature.

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”-faintly 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 enshrined for a short while on that perishable face. Do we not still regard the insensate flowers - so emblematical 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! What pain doubtless was in the heart of the Elegiac Poet of old, when he sighed over the transitory beauty of flowers

“ Conquerimur natura brevis quam gratia Florum !” 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. 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

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