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gardener an attention to their appearance is indispensable, as guided by them alone can he prune with safety. Buds are always formed in the spring preceding that in which they open, and are of two kinds-leaf-buds and flower-buds, distinguished by a difference of shape and figure easily discernible by the observing eye the fruit-buds are thicker, rounder, and shorter than the others. Thus the gardener may judge of the probable quantity of blossom that will appear. Buds possess a power analogous to that of seeds, and have been called the viviparous offspring of vegetables, inasmuch as they admit of a removal from their original connexion, and its action being suspended for an indefinite time, can be renewed at pleasure." Cowper has written a few delightful lines on buds.
"He sets the bright procession on its way,
And marshals all the order of the year;
He marks the bounds which Winter may not pass,
And ere one flowery season fades and dies,
The following are the oldest proverbs relating to January:
"Janiver is the coldest month in all the year."
"December's frost and January's flood
Never boded the husbandman good."
"Who in Janiver sows oats, gets gold and groats:
Who sows in May, gets little that way.
If Janiver calends be summerly gay,
'Twill be winterly weather till the calends of May."
"As the day lengthens,
So the cold strengthens."
Occasionally a pale snowdrop will show itself at this time of the year, scarcely distinguishable from the feathery fleeces by which it is surrounded. It is the timid herald of spring, the
wan messenger that announces the singing of birds but ere the radiant peoplers of the summer-fields appear, it will be sought for in vain. It is seen budding amid the desolation of winter, cheer less yet resigned,
"Like hope upon a deathbed;"
peeping calmly abroad amid the shivering tempest, a patient harbinger of sunnier days, pointing to brighter hours amid rattling storms and icy gales. Sometimes we meet them far from the cultivated fields, and then we imagine that children have played there—that the merry laugh has rung over the wilderness, that the blazing hearth has burned where now the snow-drift gathers. Still the lovely flower maintains its beautiful form in the cold air, while heat throws out the petals and destroys its symmetry. It never changes its hue-never wears a streak or a tinge, like other flowers; but, wrapt in its own purity, blows amid the snow; and when the amorous Sun makes love to its cold chastity, it withers from his embrace.
The north wind whistles, and the hoar-frost clothes the verdure-despoiled trees; an uniform white carpet covers the earth, the birds withhold their tuneful song, and the sealed waters cease to murmur as they roll along. The rays of the sun, enfeebled by the density of our atmosphere, shed a gloomy light over the fields, and the heart of man is sad while all nature reposes in torpid tranquillity: still this delicate flower ventures forth alone, starting like an unexpected thought from the mind, -meek emblem of consolation! herald of spring, sent forth from the bowers of Flora, like the lonely dove from the ark, to visit the earth for a season, then return to tell whether the young buds burst forth, or the stern storm still careers over the flowerless valleys. Wordsworth, in some of his exquisite lines, thus addresses it:
"Lone flower, hemm'd in by snows, and white as they,
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though, day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
Chaste snow-drop, venturous harbinger of spring,
Evening in winter! The wind howling across the dreary moors, the snow-drift beating full in your face, and a dense darkness closing upon the brief day; here and there a poor bird giving a short "twit" among the stacks, or in the hedges, as if to tell you that he is perishing with cold. Then to think how many there are begging from door to door, not knowing where they shall rest their heads for the night!—Oh, how pleasing is an English fire-side! The good man of the house seated in his arm-chair in the chimney-corner, smoking his long white pipe, sometimes pausing between each puff, and listening to the din that rages abroad; the good wife busied in knitting warm hose for the little ones, sometimes halting between each stitch and hearkening to the sobbing wind, or exclaiming, in the overflow of her heart, "What a night for those who are on the sea!"—Then the children, eyeing the ruddy blaze, or romping round the house, or playing with the kitten, or perusing their favourite tale of Red Riding-hood, Cinderella, Tom Thumb, or the legend of the Babes in the Wood, and vowing within themselves that next morning they will give robin-redbreast a portion of their breakfast.
Then to turn to the lighted halls of the rich—the dazzling chandeliers, the wine sparkling like liquid ruby in the decanters, the warm carpets, the massive grate throwing out its many tongues of flame; the rich dresses, the beautiful faces on which the light is thrown, the gilded pictures, the classic statues-all that wealth and taste have accumulated for show or comfort;
the silver-sounding music, the lightning-footed dance, sweetvoiced song, loud laughter, sunny smiles, the "sidelong glance of love;" in short, the whole perfect scene of pleasure undimmed by care, where Sorrow shows not her tearful eye. Then to turn "To huts where poor men lie;"
where squalid Poverty sits by the fireless grate with his face buried in his hands, the piercing wind sweeping the dim rushlight to and fro, the silent snow stealing through the shattered panes, and gathering in drifts upon the cold hearthstone. A group of little children huddled together in a gloomy corner for warmth like shivering birds; their mother the while rocking a little infant in an old rickety chair, and trying in vain to still its piercing cries by offering it the milkless breast. No bed to lie upon; nothing save a few handfuls of straw strewn upon the floor, which is already nearly covered by the snow. No food, and no prospect of obtaining any. Perhaps sickness, let in by hunger, has seated itself upon their pallid cheeks. O that this picture was wholly imaginary! but, alas, it is not! Such a scene have I witnessed in England, even after an iron-hearted overseer had been acquainted with it. But love kept the sufferers together; for they well knew that if they had allowed themselves to be borne to the poorhouse, they would have been separated, not permitted even to see each other, although it is written, "Whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder." Mary Howitt has beautifully described the contrast between the rich and poor at this season of the year.
"In rich men's halls, the fire is piled,
And furry robes keep out the weather:
In poor men's huts, the fire is low,
"Oh! poverty is disconsolate!
Its pains are many, its foes are strong.
The poor man, 'mid his wants profound,
Prays God that winter be not long."
"Now," says the author of the Mirror of the Months, "little boys make slides on the pathways for lack of ponds, and, it may be, trip up an occasional housekeeper just as he steps out of his own door, who forthwith vows vengeance in the shape of ashes on all the slides in his neighbourhood, not out of vexation at his own mishap, and revenge against the petty perpetrators, but purely to avert the like from others. Now the bloom-buds of the fruit-trees, which the late leaves of autumn had concealed from the view, stand confessed upon the otherwise bare branches, and, dressed in their wind and water-proof coats, brave the utmost severity of the season; their hard, unpromising outsides, compared with the forms of beauty which they contain, reminding us of their friends the butterflies when in the chrysalis state. Now the labour of the husbandman is, for once in the year, at a stand; and he haunts the alehouse fire, or lolls listlessly over the half-door of the village smithy, and watches the progress of the labour which he unconsciously envies. Now melancholy men wander by twos and threes through markettowns, with their faces as blue as the aprons that are twisted round their waists, their ineffectual rakes resting on their shoulders, and a withered cabbage hoisted upon a pole, crying out, Pray remember the poor gardeners!'
"Now the trees, denuded of their grey attire, spread forth their thousand branches against the grey sky, and present as endless a variety of form and feature, for study and observation, as they did when dressed in all the flaunting fashions of midNow one of the most beautiful sights on which the eye can open occasionally presents itself. We saw the shades of evening fall upon a waste expanse of brown earth, shorn hedgerows, bare branches, and miry roads, interspersed here and there with a patch of dull melancholy green: but when we are awakened by the late dawning of the morning, and think to