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[COURIER creeping under joists loaded with provisions for the year. My companion climbed up alone, and, already nearly asleep, laid himself down with his head upon the precious portmanteau. Having determined to sit up, I made a good fire, and seated myself by the side of it. The night, which had been undisturbed, was nearly over, and I began to reassure myself; when, about the time that I thought the break of day could not be very far off, I heard our host and his wife talking and disputing below; and putting my ear to the chimney which communicated with the one in the lower room, I perfectly distinguished these words spoken by the husband: "Well, let us see, must they both be killed?" To which the wife replied, "Yes;" and I heard no more. How shall I go on? I stood scarcely breathing, my body cold as marble; to have seen me, you could hardly have known if I were alive or dead. Good Heavens! when I think of it now!-We two almost without weapons, against twelve or fifteen who had so many! and my companion dead with sleep and fatigue ! To call him, or make a noise, I dared not: to escape alone was impossible; the window was not high, but below were two large dogs howling like wolves. In what an agony I was, imagine if you can. At the end of a long quarter of an hour I heard some one on the stairs, and, through the crack of the door, I saw the father, his lamp in one hand, and in the other one of his large knives. He came up, his wife after him, I was behind the door; he opened it, but before he came in he put down the lamp which his wife took. He then entered, barefoot, and from outside the woman said to him, in a low voice, shading the light of the lamp with her hand, "Softly, go softly." When he got to the ladder, he mounted it, his knife between his teeth, and getting up as high as the bed-the poor young man lying with his throat bare-with one hand he took his knife, and with the other-Oh! Cousinhe seized a ham, which hung from the ceiling, cut a slice from it, and retired as he had come. The door was closed again, the lamp disappeared, and I was left alone with my reflections.

As soon as day appeared, all the family making a great noise came to awaken us as we had requested. They brought us something to eat, and gave us a very clean and a very good breakfast, I assure you. Two capons formed part of it, of which we must, said our hostess, take away one and eat the other. When I saw them I understood the meaning of those terrible words, "Must they both be killed?" and I think, Cousin, you have enough penetration to guess now what they signified.

6. THE OPENING YEAR.

THE year of the Calendar and the year of the Poets might well have different starting points. The poets would welcome a new year with spring-garlands of the tenderest green, and go forth into the fields to find the first violet giving out its perfume as an offering to the reproductive power which fills the earth with gladness. But the Calendar offers us only the slow lengthening of the days to mark the progress of change; and we have little joy in the lengthening when the old saw tells us

"As day lengthens,

Cold strengthens."

The Poets, however, have their resources, drawn out of the compensations that belong to the condition of us all. Hope with them becomes prophetic. The Dirge for the Old Year swells and dances into a bridal song for the New :

Orphan hours, the year is dead,

Come and sigh, come and weep! Merry hours, smile instead,

For the year is but asleep : See, it smiles as it is sleeping, Mocking your untimely weeping.

As an earthquake rocks a corse

In its coffin in the clay,

So white Winter, that rough nurse,
Rocks the dead-cold here to-day;
Solemn hours! wail aloud
For your mother in her shroud.

As the wild air stirs and sways

The tree-swung cradle of a child,
So the breath of these rude days

Rocks the year:—be calm and mild,
Trembling hours; she will arise
With new love within her eyes.

January grey is here.

Like a sexton by her grave;
February bears the bier,

March with grief doth howl and rave, And April weeps-but, O ye hours! Follow with May's fairest flowers. SHELLEY.

Our ancestors assuredly had a more fervent love of nature than we have, when they filled their houses with evergreens while the snow blocked up their doorways, and replaced them with new emblems of the freshness which is never wholly dead, whilst the rains of February and the winds of March were doing their nursing-work. The song for Candlemas-day (February 2) was as true a herald of the spring as the cuckoo and the swallow :

Down with rosemary and bays,
Down with the mistletoe ;
Instead of holly, now upraise
The greener box for show.
The holly hitherto did sway;
Let box now domineer,

Until the dancing Easter-day,

Or Easter's eve appear.

Grown old, surrender must his place

Unto the crisped yew.

When yew is out, then birch comes in,
And many flowers beside,

Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,

To honour Whitsuntide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,

Then youthful box, which now hath grace Come in for comely ornaments,
Your houses to renew,

To readorn the house.

Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;

New things succeed as former things grow old.

HERRICK.

WORDSWORTH, in one of his charming lyrics of the Spring, makes "the opening of the year" begin with "the first mild day of March."

It is the first mild day of March:

Each minute sweeter than before,
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.
There is a blessing in the air,

Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field.
My sister! ('tis a wish of mine)

Now that our morning meal is done,
Make haste, your morning task resign;
Come forth and feel the sun.
Edward will come with you; and

pray

Put on with speed your woodland dress:
And bring no book; for this one day
We'll give to idleness.

No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living Calendar:

We from to-day, my friend, will date
The opening of the year.

Love, now an universal birth,

From heart to heart is stealing,
From earth to man, from man to earth;
--It is the hour of feeling.

One moment now may give us more

Than fifty years of reason:
Our minds will drink at every pore
The spirit of the season.

Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey :
We for the year to come may take

Our temper from to-day.

And from the blessed power that rolls
About, below, above,

We'll frame the measure of our souls:
They shall be tuned to love.

Then come, my Sister! come, I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress:
And bring no book; for this one day
We'll give to idleness.
WORDSWORTH.

The "blessing in the air" is one of the beautiful indications of the awakening of the earth from its winter sleep. It may proclaim the waking hour in March;--the cold north-east wind may permit no sense of joy" till April. But the opening of the year comes to the Poet when he first hears the voice of gladness in the song of birds, or sees the humblest flower putting op

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As livery of glory. It opened to the Ayrshire ploughman, when he heard "a Thrush sing in a
Morning Walk in January;" and that song filled his heart with thankfulness and contentment:-
Sing on, sweet Thrush, upon the leafless bough,
Sing on, sweet bird, I listen to thy strain:
See aged winter, 'mid his surly reign,
At thy blythe carol clears his furrow'd brow.
So in lone Poverty's dominion drear

Sits meek Content with light unanxious heart,
Welcomes the rapid movements, bills them part,
Nor asks if they bring aught to hope or fear.

I thank thee, Author of this opening day!

Thou whose bright sun now gilds the orient skies!
Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys,

What wealth could never give nor take away!

Yet come, thou child of poverty and care;

The mite high Heav'n bestowed, that mite with thee I'll share.

BURNS. Spring in the lap of Winter is very beautiful. February smiles and pouts like a self-willed child. We are gladdened by the flower buds of the elder and the long flowers of the hazel. The crocus and the snow-drop timidly lift up their heads. Mosses, the verdure of winter, that rejoice in moisture and defy cold, luxuriate amidst the general barrenness. The mole is busy in his burrowed galleries. There are clear mornings, not unmusical with the voices of more birds than the thrush of Burns. Spenser, the most imaginative of Poets, has painted the March of rough winds-the "sturdy March"-the March of the bent brow, with weapon and armour. But he is also the March of gifts and of hope, in whose "sternest frown" there is "a look of kindly promise." So he is described by one of a band of poets, whose native voice is heard over that mighty continent which our forefathers peopled. The cultivation of the same literature-for that literature is the common property of all "who speak the tongue which Shakspere spake❞—ought, amongst other influences, to bind America and England in eternal peace and good fellowship :

The stormy March is come at last,

With wind, and cloud, and changing skies; I hear the rushing of the blast,

That through the snowy valley flies. Ah, passing few are they who speak,

Wild stormy month! in praise of thee; Yet, though thy winds are loud and bleak,

Thou art a welcome month to me. For thou to northern lands again

The glad and glorious sun dost bring, And thou hast joined the gentle train

And wear'st the gentle name of Spring. And, in thy reign of blast and storm,

Smiles many a long, bright, sunny day,

When the changed winds are soft and warm
And heaven puts on the blue of May
Then sing along the gushing rills,

And the full springs, from frost set free,
That, brightly leaping down the hills,
Are just set out to meet the sea.
The year's departing beauty hides

Of wintry storms the sullen threat;
But in thy sternest frown abides

A look of kindly promise yet.
Thou bring'st the hope of those calm skies,

And that soft time of sunny showers,
When the wide bloom on earth that lies
Seems of a brighter world than ours.
BRYANT.

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[JOSEPH HALL, Bishop of Norwich, was born at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in Leicestershire, on the 1st July, 1574. He received his academical education at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, In 1597, he published a volume of Satires, which gave great offence, but which remain to the student of English poetry as amongst the most masterly productions of their class. Pope held them to be the best poetry and the truest satire in the English language. In 1617, he was preferred to the Deanery of Worcester; in 1627, was made Bishop of Exeter; and in

1641 was translated to Norwich. His earnest piety and professional zeal rendered him obnoxious to the charge of puritanism; but he was a vigorous defender of the Church in its times of tribulation and danger, and was a sufferer for his conscientious opinions. The revenues of his bishopric were sequestrated in 1642, and he spent the remainder of his life in great poverty, residing at Higham, near Norwich, where he died in 1656. His theological works are very numerous; and though many of them are controversial, others will remain as durable monuments of masterly reasoning, eloquent persuasion, and touching devotion. The piece which we first select, as an opening to the Sunday' Half-Hours,' is from an Epistle to Lord Denny.] Every day is a little life: and our whole life is but a day repeated: whence it is that old Jacob numbers his life by days; and Moses desires to be taught this point of holy arithmetic, to number not his years, but his days. Those, therefore, that dare lose a day, are dangerously prodigal; those that dare mis-spend it, desperate. We can best teach others by ourselves; let me tell your lordship, how I would pass my days, whether common or sacred, that you (or whosoever others, overhearing me,) may either approve my thriftiness, or correct my errors: to whom is the account of my hours either more due, or more known. All days are His, who gave time a beginning and continuance; yet some He hath made ours, not to command, but to use.

In none may we forget Him; in some we must forget all, besides Him. First, therefore, I desire to awake at those hours, not when I will, but when I must ; pleasure is not a fit rule for rest, but health; neither do I consult so much with the sun, as mine own necessity, whether of body or in that of the mind. If this vassal could well serve me waking, it should never sleep; but now it must be pleased, that it may be serviceable. Now when sleep is rather driven away than leaves me, I would ever awake with God: my first thoughts are for Him, who hath made tho night for rest, and the day for travel; and as He gives, so blesses both. If my heart be early seasoned with His presence, it will savour of Him all day after. While my body is dressing, not with an effeminate curiosity, nor yet with rud neglect, my mind addresses itself to her ensuing task, bethinking what is to be done, and in what order, and marshalling (as it may) my hours with my work; that done, after some while's meditation, I walk up to my masters and companions, my books, and, sitting down amongst them with the best contentment, I dare not reach forth my hand to salute any of them, till I have first looked up to heaven, and craved favour of Him to whom all my studies are duly referred: without whom, I can neither profit nor labour. After this, out of no over great variety, I call forth those which may best fit my occasions, wherein I am not too scrupulous of age; sometimes I put myself to school to one of those ancients whom the Church hath honoured with the name of Fathers; whose volumes I confess not to open without a secret reverence of their holiness and gravity; sometimes to those later doctors, which want nothing but age to make them classical; always to God's Book. That day is lost, whereof some hours are not improved in those divine monuments: others I turn over out of choice; these out of duty. Ere I can have sat unto weariness, my family, having now overcome all household distractions, invites me to our common devotions; not without some short preparation. These, heartily performed, send me up with a more strong and cheerful appetite to my former work, which I find made easy to me by intermission and variety; now, therefore, can I deceive the hours with change of pleasures, that is, of labours. One while mine eyes are busied, another while my hand, and sometimes my mind takes the burthen from them both; wherein I would imitate the skilfullest cooks, which make the best dishes with manifold mixtures; one hour is spent in textual divinity, another in controversy; histories relieve them both. Now, when the mind is weary of others' labours, it begins to undertake her own; sometimes it meditates and winds up for future use; sometimes it lays forth her conceits into present discourse; sometimes for itself, after for others. Neither know I whether it works or plays in these thoughts; I am

sure no sport hath more pleasure, no work more use; only the decay of a weak body makes me think these delights insensibly laborious. Thus could I all day (as ringers use) make myself music with changes, and complain sooner of the day for shortness than of the business for toil, were it not that this faint monitor interrupts me still in the midst of my busy pleasures, and enforces me both to respite and repast; I must yield to both; while my body and mind are joined together in these unequal couples, the better must follow the weaker. Before my meals, therefore, and after, I let myself loose from all thoughts, and now would forget that I ever studied; a full mind takes away the body's appetite no less than a full body makes a dull and unwieldy mind: company, discourse, recreations, are now seasonable and welcome; these prepare me for a diet, not gluttonous, but medicinal; the palate may not be pleased, but the stomach, nor that for its own sake; neither would I think any of these comforts worth respect in themselves but in their use, in their end, so far as they may enable me to better things. If I see any dish to tempt my palate, I fear a serpent in that apple, and would please myself in a wilful denial; I rise capable of more, not desirous; not now immediately from my trencher to my book, but after some intermission. Moderate speed is a sure help to all proceedings; where those things which are prosecuted with violence of endeavour or desire, either succeed not, or continue not.

After my later meal, my thoughts are slight; only my memory may be charged with her task, of recalling what was committed to her custody in the day; and my heart is busy in examining my hands and mouth, and all other senses, of that day's behaviour. And now the evening is come, no tradesman doth more carefully take in his wares, clear his shopboard, and shut his window, than I would shut up my thoughts, and clear my mind. That student shall live miserably, which like a camel lics down under his burden. All this done, calling together my family, we end the day with God: Thus do we rather drive away the time before us, than follow it. I grant neither is my practice worthy to be exemplary, neither are our callings proportionable. The lives of a nobleman, of a courtier, of a scholar, of a citizen, of a countryman, differ no less than their dispositions; yet must all conspire in honest labour.

Sweat is the destiny of all trades, whether of the brows, or of the mind. God never allowed any man to do nothing. How miserable is the condition of those men, which spend the time as if it were given them, and not lent; as if hours were waste creatures, and such as should never be accounted for; as if God would take this for a good bill of reckoning: Item, spent upon my pleasures forty years! These men shall once find that no blood can privilege idleness, and that nothing is more precious to God, than that which they desire to cast away-time. Such are my common days; but God's day calls for another respect. The same sun arises on this day, and enlightens it; yet because that Sun of Righteousness arose upon it, and gave a new life unto the world in it, and drew the strength of God's moral precept unto it, therefore justly do we sing with the Psalmist, "this is the day which the Lord hath made." Now I forget the world, and in a sort myself; and deal with my wonted thoughts, as great men use, who, at some times of their privacy, forbid the access of all suitors. Prayer, meditation, reading, hearing, preaching, singing, good conference, are the businesses of this day, which I dare not bestow on any work, or pleasure, but heavenly.

I

I hate superstition on the one side, and looseness on the other; but I find it hard to offend in too much devotion, easy in profaneness. The whole week is sanctified by this day; and according to my care of this, is my blessing on the rest. show your lordship what I would do, and what I ought; I commit my desires to the imitation of the weak, my actions to the censures of the wise and holy, my weaknesses to the pardon and redress of my merciful God.

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