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'Tis on the bleak and barren heath,
O'erwhelmed with woe!
Ah! no! 'Tis on the prison's flinty floor, 'Tis where the deafʼning whirlwinds roar, 'Tis when the sea-boy, on the mast, Hears the waves bounding to the blast!
And looks below! Is it in chariots gay to ride, To crowd the splendid midnight ball, To revel in luxurious pride, While pampered vassals wait your call?
Man's desp’rate foe. .
False praise bestow!
Is it, where gamesters flocking round,
· MRS. ROBINSON. 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, bowever, 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. December bas, occasionally, put on a milder character. In the year 1760, in this month, many pear-trees in the gardens about London appeared in blossom, and others were bursting into leaf; primroses and daisies were seen in the fields, and other indications of approaching spring. In a gentleman's garden in Cumberland there were marigolds and ten different kinds of flowers in full bloom, and all the trees in the garden in bud. On the 23d of January following, at Swansea in South Wales, a gooseberry bush was observed with gooseberries on it, as large as cherry-stones; and had the mild weather continued, it was thought that several sorts of summer fruit would have been ripe before Easter. This extraordinary season will remind the reader of a winter in Italy,'
Where no perpetual drizzle drives or soaks ;
Wit walks the street, and music's in the air. , • The above lines (observes a modern traveller, in a letter, dated from Venice in December, 1817) comprise, in my opinion, the principal attractions of Italy,
and I ought to confess, that I have found all these without going farther south than Venice in pursuit of them.
'Till within these three days, we have had the weather of an English May, with its accompaniments of green peas, strawberries and roses. It is now indeed become very cold, but the sun's rays are still so powerful that it is impossible to take exercise where 'at full they play; and I have frequently acted the traveller in the fable, and discarded my great coat, as well as taken shelter under porticos.
'Italy's skies and sans have passed into a proverb: but I have never yet heard her comparative calm remarked upon, though she affords a strange contrast in this to England; which may indeed be compared to the island of Ruach, whose inhabitants, Rabelais tells us, “ eat nothing but wind, drink nothing but wind, and have no other houses but weathercocks." Not only England; I think every part of Europe which I have visited is more swept by winds than Italy, where continued gales are unknown; such rarely continuing, even in the season of the equinox, for more than three or four days without intermission, so that a winter's gale of wind is here little more than what seamen call a summer's gale in England. A striking proof indeed of comparative calm may be observed in the public gardens of Venice. These are situated on the sea-side of the town, yet their acacias are neither bent nor broken. Something similar may be observed both of the bays of Naples and Genoa, along both of which are thousands of trellised galleries, covered with the vine or the oleander, whose foliage remains undishevelled by the wind'.'
From the fall of the leaf, and withering of the herb, an unvarying death-like torpor oppresses almost the
· Rose's Letters from the North of Italy, vol. ii, p. 115.
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 (as the frog, lizard, badger, hedgehog', &c.) 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, as much contribute to their mutual happiness as to the amusement of their human sovereign.
The evergreen trees with their beautiful cones, such as firs and pines, are now particularly observed and valued. In the warmer countries, where shade is more desirable, their worth and beauty are more re
" To the Hedgehog, seen in a frequented Path.
Wherefore shonld man or thoughtless boy
gularly appreciated. Virgil talks of the pine as being handsomest in gardens; and it is a great favour. ite with Theocritus, especially for the fine sound of the air under its kind of vaulted roof. But we have flowers as well as leaves in winter-time; besides a few of last month, there are the aconite and hellebore, two names of very different celebrity; and in addition to some of the flowering shrubs, there is the Glastonbury thorn, which puts forth its beauty at Christmas. The evergreens and winterflowers are like real friends, who, whatever be their peculiar disposition, whether serious or gay, will never forsake us. Even roses, with which we are so apt to associate summer weather, flourish from May to December inclusive; and, during the winter months, will live and prosper in apartments. We need never be without them from the first day of the year to the last; and thus, to the numerous comparisons made between roses and the fair sex, may be added this new one, as complimentary to their friendship as it is true'.
When the roses were thick on the trees,
But, oh! not so lovely as these.
The children of sunshine and dew,
And the sky an upchangeable bloe.
And the garden all leafless around,
As a well in the summer-scorched ground;
i Literary Pocket Book for 1819, p. 38.—For an account of the everlasting flowers,' which form so pleasing an ornament to our parlours in winter, see our last volume, pp. 313-316.