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coffee, or both, we will proceed to enumerate the various appearances of nature in this month of December.
Rain and wind are now extremely prevalent; and, as the frost seldom sets in till the latter end of the month, December may be reckoned the most unpleasant of the whole year. At other times, however, November is better entitled to this appellation, and ice and snow contribute to give to Christmas that union of frost and good cheer which form the usual character of this season.
From the fall of the leaf, and withering of the herb, an unvarying death-like totpor oppresses almost the whole vegetable creation, and a considerable part of the animal, during this entire portion of the year. The whole race of insects, which filled every part of the summer landscape with life and motion, are now either buried in profound sleep, or actually no longer exist, except in the unformed rudiments of a future progeny. Many of the birds and quadrupeds are retired to concealments, from which not even the calls of hunger can force them; and the rest, intent only on the preservation of a joyless life, have ceased to exert those powers of pleasing, which, at other seasons, so much contribute to their mutual happiness, as well as to the amusement of their human sovereign. Their social connections, however, are improved by their wants. In order the better to securo their scanty subsistence, and resist the inclemencies of the sky, they are taught by instinct to assemble in flocks, and this provision has the secondary effect of gratifying the spectator with something of novelty and action, even in the dreariness of a wintery prospect.
This reads a moral lesson of no small import to their natural protector, but too often avowed enemy and destroyer, MAN. But his cruelties are not confined to the feathered creation; they are frequently manifested to his own species: at this inclement season, too, such conduct is doubly criminal. Let him
relieve the poor, than create poverty by unjust oppression. How can they who experience all the blessings of competence better express their gratitude to the Great Giver of all good, than by extending their aid to the forlorn cottager, and offering bim supplies of firing, clothing, and bedding? In this case, the rich may often be taught a lesson of benevolence by their inferiors. As an instance, we give the following pretty lines by ROBERT BLOOMFIELD:
Dear boy, tlırow that icicle down,
And sweep this deep snow from the door :
A terrible frown for the poor.
How can age, how can infancy, bear
Of those who have plenty to spare ?
Well timed now the frost is set in;
We'll make him at home to a pin.
The roll of the seasons will prove,
But cannot extinguish true love.
If you can but keep scandal away,
And what the great orators say!
And hail down the chimney rebound,
While the bellows blow bass to the sound.
But out of the trifle that's given,
I'll distribute the bounty of Heaven.
But if I add naught to my store,
I've a mine that will never grow poor.
month. Evergreens, firs, ivy, laurel, and that most beautiful plant the arbutus, rich in flowers and fruit at the same time, serve to enliven this dreary month.
The oak, the beech, and the hornbeam, in part, retain their leaves, and the ash its keys. The common holly (ilex aquifolium), with its scarlet berries, is now conspicuous; and those dwarfs of the vegetable creation, mosses, and the liverwort (lichen), now attract our notice.--See T.T. for 1817, p. 358. The redbreast is still heard to chaunt his cheerful strain,' and the sparrow chirps.-See our last volume, p. 319.
Towards the end of the month, woodcock shooting commences.
Of the snipe (scolopax gallinago), which becomes a prey to the fowler in this and the following month, there are more than forty varieties, mostly breeding in Europe, and subsisting on insects. Some of these wild-fowl frequent moors, others delight in swampy bushes, and others in the open fields.-See T.T. for 1816, p. 351.
In this month, those wild animals which pass the winter in a state of torpidity, retire to their hiding places. The frog, lizard, badger, and hedgehog, which burrow under the earth, belong to this class.
The bat is now found in caverns, barns, &c. suspended by the claws of its hind feet, and closely enveloped in the membranes of the fore feet. Dormice, squirrels, water-rats, and field-mice, provide a large stock of food for the winter season.
On every sunny day through the winter, clouds of insects, usually called gnats (tipulæ & empedes), appear sporting and dancing over the tops of evergreen trees in shrubberies; and they are seen playing up and down in the air, even when the ground is covered with snow. At night, and in frosty weather, or when it rains and blows, they appear to take shelter in the trees.
The farmer is happy to avail himself of a hard frost,
when the earth burns frore' and 'cold performs the effect of fire,' or of the sun, to dry the roads, to get the dung-cart, and carry out his manure, ready for the ensuing season of sowing spring corn.
December, with its winds and it storms, its joys and its sorrows, is now passed away, along with the shortest day and the winter solstice; and a scene of renovation, of hope and of joy, opens upon us, which carries us from the contemplation of terrestrial and transitory scenes, to those which are unearthly and endure for ever. These are beautifully typified in the gradual march of the seasons.
Deem we the face
* For the various SAINTS, see the word. The Roman Numerals
refer to the INTRODUCTION.
ASTRONOMICAL OCCURRENCES in
January 1819, 14; February, 48;
March, 70; April, 98; May,
August, 198 ; September, 226;
October, 255; November, 285;
Atmospheric air, ix
August, explained, 192
Azotic gas, X
Batavia, landslip in, 43
Becket, Thomas à, 166
Bee, lines to, 84
Beloe, Rev. W.95
of America noticed, 111-lines on
a bird's nest, 11%, note
Blackstone, Sir W. 41
Boerhaave, Dr. 223