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nothing living except a downy woodpecker, whirling round and round upon a young beechstem, and a few sparrows, plump with grassseed, and hurrying with jerking flight down the sunny glade. But the trees furnish society enough. What a congress of ermined kings is this circle of hawthorns, which stand, white in their soft raiment, around the dais of this woodland pond! Are they held here, like the sovereigns in the palace of the Sleeping Beauty, till ome mortal breaks their spell? What sage counsels must be theirs, as they nod their weary heads, and whisper ghostly memories and old men's tales to each other, while the red leaves dance on the snowy sward below, or a fox or squirrel steals hurriedly through the wild and wintry night! Here and there is some discrowned Lear, who has thrown off his regal mantle, and stands in faded russet, misplaced among the monarchs.

The shadows thrown by the trees upon the snow are blue and soft, sharply defined, and so contrasted with the gleaming white as to appear narrower than the boughs which cast them. There is something subtle and fantastic about these shadows. Here is a leafless larch-sapling, eight feet high. The image of the lower boughs is traced upon the snow, distinct and firm as cordage, while the higher ones grow dimmer by fine gradations, until the slender topmost twig is blurred and almost effaced. But the denser upper spire of the young spruce by its side throws almost as distinct a shadow as its base, and the whole figure looks of a more solid texture, as if you could feel it with your hand. More beautiful than either is the fine image of this baby birch: each delicate spray droops above as delicate a copy, and here and there the shadow and the substance kiss and frolic with each other in the downy snow.

The larger larches have a different plaything: on the bare branches, thickly studded with buds, cling airily the small light cones of last year's growth, each crowned with a little ball of soft snow, four times taller than itself—save where some have drooped sideways—so that each carries, poor weary Atlas, a sphere upon its back. Thus the coy creatures play cup and ball, and one has lost its plaything yonder, as the branch slightly stirs, and the whole vanishes in a whirl of bnow. Meanwhile a fragment of low arborviue hedge, poor out-post of a neighbouring plantation, is so covered and packed with solid drift, inside and out, that it seems as if no power of sunshine could ever steal in among its twigs and disentangle it.

In winter each separate object interests us; in summer, the mass. Natural beauty in winter is a poor man's luxury, infinitely enhanced in quality by the diminution in quantity. Winter, with fewer and simpler methods, yet seems to give all her works a finish even more delicate than that of summer, working, as Emerson says of our English agriculture, with a pencil instead of a plough. Or rather, the ploughshare is but concealed; since a pithy old

preacher has said that "the frost is God's plough, which He drives through every inch of ground in the world, opening each clod, and pulverising the whole."

Coming out upon a hill-side, more exposed to the direct fury of the sleet, we find Nature wearing a wilder look. Every white-birch clump around us is bent divergingly to the ground, each white form prostrated in mute despair upon the whiter bank. The bare, writhing branches of yonder sombre oak-grove are steeped in snow, and in the misty air they look so remote and foreign that there is not a wild creature of the Norse mythology who might not stalk from beneath their haunted branches. Buried races, Teuton and Cimbri, might tramp solemnly forth from those weird arcades. The soft pines on this nearer knoll seem separated from them by ages and generations. On the farther hills spread woods of smaller growth, like forests of spun glass, jewellery by the acre provided for this coronation of winter. We descend a steep bank, little pellets of snow rolling hastily beside us, and leaving enamelled furrows behind. Entering the sheltered and sunny glade, we are assailed by a sudden warmth whose languor is almost oppressive. Wherever the sun strikes upon the pines, there is a household gleam which gives a more vivid sensation than the diffused brilliancy of summer. The sunbeams maintain a thousand secondary fires in the reflection of light from every tree and stalk, for the preservation of animal life and the ultimate melting of these accumulated drifts. Around each trunk or stone the snow has melted and fallen back. It is a singular fact, established beyond doubt by science, that the snow is absolutely less influenced by the direct rays of the sun than by these reflections. "If a blackened card is placed upon the snow or ice, in the sunshine, the frozen mass underneath it will be gradually thawed, while that by which it is surrounded, though exposed to the full power of solar heat, is but little disturbed. If, however, we reflect the sun's rays from a metal surface, an exactly contrary result takes place: the uncovered parts are the first to melt, and the blackened card stands high above the surrounding portion." Look round upon the low-lying meadows, and you will see emerging through the white surface a thousand stalks of grass, sedge, the common butter-bur, autumnal hawkbit, plantain, and meadow-saxifrage—an allied army, keeping up a perpetual volley of innumerable rays upon the yielding snow.

It is their last dying service. We misplace our tenderness in winter, and look with pity upon the leafless trees. But there is no tragedy in the trees: each is not dead, but sleepeth; and each bears a future summer of buds safe nestled on its bosom, as a mother reposes with her baby at her breast. The same security of life pervades every woody shrub: the alder and the birch have their catkins all ready for the first day of spring.

Winter it no auoh solid bar between season and season as we fancy, but only a slight check and interruption: one may at any time produce these March blossoms by bringing the buds into the warm house; and the petals of the may-' flower sometimes show their pink and white j edges in autnmn. But every grass blade and flower stalk is a mausoleum of vanished summer, itself crumbling to dust, never to rise again. Each child of June, scarce distinguishable in December against the background of moss and rocks and bushes, is brought into final prominence in January by the white snow which embeds it. The delicate flakes collapse and fall hack around it, but they retain their inexorable hold. Thus delicate is the action of Nature—a finger of air, and a grasp of iron. We pass an old red foundry, banked in with snow, and its low eaves draped with icir-les, and come to the brook which turns its resounding wheel. The musical motion of the water seems almost unnatural amidst the general stillness: brooks, like men, must keep themselves warm by exercise. The overhanging rashes and alder-sprays, weary of winter's sameness, have made for themselves playthings —each dangling a crystal knob of ice, which sways gently in the water and gleams ruddy in the sunlight. As we approach the foaming cascade, the toys become larger and more glittering, movable stalactites, which the water tosses merrily upon their flexible stems. The torrent pours down beneath an enamelled mask of ice, wreathed and convoluted like a brain, and sparkling with gorgeous glow. Tremulous motions and glimmerings go through the translucent veil, as if it throbbed with the throbbing wave beneath. It holds in its mazes stray bits of colour—scarlet berries, evergreen sprigs, and sprays of yellow willow; glittering necklaces and wreaths and tiaras of brilliant ice-wotk cling and trail around its edges, and no regal palace shines with such carcanets of jewels as this winter ball-room of the dancing drops.

Above, the brook becomes a smooth black canal, between two steep white banks; and the glassy water seems momentarily stiffening into the eolider blackness of ice. Here and there thin films are already formed over it, and are being constantly broken apart by the treacherous current; a flake a foot square is jerked away and goes sliding beneath the slight transparent surface till it reappears below. The same thing, on a larger scale, helps to form the mighty icepack of the northern seas. Nothing except ice is capable of combining, on the largest scale, bulk with mobility, and this imparts a dignity to its motions even on the smallest scale. I do not believe that anything in Behring's Straits could impress me with a grander sense of desolation or of power than when in boyhood I watched the ice break up in the winding channel of the Severn.

Amidst so much that seems like death, let us turn and study the life. There is much more to be seen in winter than most of us have ever noticed. Though the pond beneath our

feet keeps its stores of life chiefly below its level platform, yet the scattered tracks of the waterrat beside the banks, of meadow mice around the haystacks, of squirrels under the trees, of rabbits and partridges in the wood, show the warm life that is beating unseen, beneath fur or feathers, close beside us; the jays scream in the wood, the robin contrasts with the snow his still ruddy breast. The weird and impenetrable crows, most talkative of birds and most uncommunicative, their very food at this season a mystery, are almost as numerous now as in summer. They always seem like 6ome race of banished goblins, doing penance for some primeval and inscrutable transgression; and if any bird have a history, it is they. In the Spanish version of the tradition of King Arthur it is said that he fled from the weeping queens and the island valley of Avilion in the form of a crow; and hence it is said in "Don Quixote" that no Englishman will ever kill one.

The traces of the insects in the winter are prophetic—from the delicate cocoon of some infinitesimal feathery thing which hangs upon the dry calyx of a weed, to the brown-paper parcel which hides in peasant garb the beauty of some painted moth. But the hints of birds are retrospective. In each tree of this pasture, the very pasture where last spring we looked for nests, and found them not among the deceitful foliage, the fragile domiciles now stand revealed. But where are the birds that filled them? Could the airy creatures nurtured in those nests have left permanently traced upon the air behind them their own bright summer flight, the whole atmosphere would be filled with interlacing lines and curves of gorgeous colouring, the centre of all being this forsaken bird's-nest filled with snow.

Among the many birds which winter here, and the many insects which are called forth by a few days' thaw, not a few must die of cold, or of fatigue amid the storms. Yet how few traces one sees of this modality! Provision is made for it. Yonder a dead wasp has fallen on the snow, and the warmth of its body, or its power of reflecting a few small rays of light, is melting its little grave beneath it. With what a cleanly purity does Nature strive to withdraw all unsightly objects into her cemetery I Their own weight and lingering warmth take them through air or water, snow or ice, to the level of the earth; and there with spring comes an army of burying-insects, Necrophagi, in a livery of bronze and black, to dig a grave beneath every one, and not a sparrow falleth to the ground without knowledge. The tiny remains thus disappear from the surface, and the dry leaves are soon spread above.these Children in the Wood.

Thus varied and benignant are the aspects of winter on sunny days. But it is impossible to claim this weather as the only type of our winter climate. There occasionally come days which, though perfectly still and serene, suggest more terror than any tempest—terrible, clear, glaring days of pitiless cold—when the sun seems power


less, or only a brighter moon, when the windows remain ground-glass at high noontide, and when, on going out of «doors, one is dazzled by the brightness, and fancies for a moment that it cannot be so cold as has been reported, but presently discovers that the severity is only more deadly for being so still. Exercise on such days seems to produce no warmth; one's limbs appear ready to break on any sudden motion, like icy boughs. Stage-drivers and draymen are transformed to mere human bundles of capes and coats; the patient oxen are frost-covered; the horse that goes trotting by waves a wreath of steam from his head. On such days life becomes a battle to all householders, the ordinary apparatus for defence is insufficient, and the price of caloric is continual vigilance. In innumerable armies the frost besieges the portal, creeps in beneath it and above it, and on every latch and key-handle lodges an advanced guard of white rime. Leave the door ajar never so slightly, and a chill creeps in cat-like; we are conscious by the warmest fireside of the near vicinity of cold — its fingers are feeling after us,* and even if they do not clutch us, we know that they are there. The sensations of such days almost make ue associate their clearness and whiteness with something malignant and evil. Charles Lamb asserts of snow, "It glares too much for an innocent colour, methinks." Why does popular mythology associate the infernal regions with a high temperature instead of a low one? El Aishi, the Arab writer, says of the bleak wind of the desert (so writes Richardson, the African traveller): '* The north wind blows with an intensity equalling the cold of hell; language fails me to describe its rigorous temperature." Some have thought that there is a similar allusion in the phrase, "weeping and gnashing of teeth" — the teetn chattering from frost. Milton also enumerates cold as one of the torments of the lost:

"O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp;"

and one may sup full of horrors on the exceedingly cold collation provided for the next world by the Norse Edda.

Snow, indeed, actually nourishes animal life. It holds in its bosom numerous animalcules: you may have a glass of water, perfectly free from infusoria, which yet, after your dissolving in it a handful of snow, will show itself full of microscopic creatures, shrimp-like and swift; and the famous red snow of the Arctic regions is only an exhibition of the same property. It has sometimes been fancied that persons buried under the snow have received sustenance through the pores of the skin, like reptiles embedded in rock. Elizabeth Woodcock lived eight days beneath a snow-drift, in 1799, without eating a morsel; and a Swiss family were buried beneath an avalanche in a manger, for five months, in 1755, with no food but a trifling store of chestnuts and a small daily supply of milk from a goat which was buried with them.

In neither case was there extreme suffering from cold, and it is unquestionable that the interior of a drift is far warmer than the surface. On the 23rd of December, I860, at 9 p.m., I was surprised to observe drops falling from the under side of a heavy bank of snow at the eaves, at a distance from any chimney, while the mercury on the same side was only fifteen degrees above zero, not having indeed risen above the point of freezing during the whole day.

Dr. Kane pays ample tribute to these kindly properties :—" Few of us at home can recognise the protecting value of this warm coverlet of snow. No eider-down in the cradle of an infant is tucked in more kindly than the sleeping dress of winter about this feeble flower-life. The first warm Knows of August and September, falling on a thickly pleached carpet of grasses, heaths, and willows, enshrine the flowery growths which nestle round them in a nonconducting air-chamber; and as each successive snow increases the thickness of the cover, we have, before the intense cold of winter sets in, a light cellular bed covered by drift, six, eight, or ten feet deep, in which the plant retains its vitality. .... I have found in mi dwinter, in this high latitude of 78° 50', the surface so nearly moist as to be friable to the touch; and upon the ice-floes, commencing with a surface temperature of —30°, I found at two feet deep a temperature of —8°, at four feet + 2°, and at eight feet + 26°. . . . The glacier which we became so familiar with ifterwards at Etah yields an uninterrupted stream throughout the year." And he afterwards shows that even the varying texture jand quality of the snow deposited during the earl er and later portions of the Arctic winter have their special adaptations to the welfare of the vegetation they protect.

The process of crystallization seems a microcosm of the universe. Radiata, mollusca, feathers, flowers, ferns, mosses, palms, pines, grain-fields, leaves of cedar, chestnut, elm, acanthus—these and multitudes of other objects are figured on your frosty window; on sixteen different panes I have counted sixteen patterns strikingly distinct, and it appeared like a showcase for the globe. What can seem remoter relatives than the star, the star-fish, the starflower, and the starry snow-flake which clings perchance to your sleeve? — yet some philosophers hold that one day their law of existence will be found precisely the same. The connection with the primeval star, especially, seems far and fanciful enough; but there are yet unexplored affinities between light and crystallization: some crystals have a tendency to grow toward the light, and others develop electricity and give out flashes of light during their formation. Slight foundations for scientific fancies, indeed; but slight is all our knowledge.

More than a hundred different figures of snow-flakes, all regular and kaleidoscopic, have been drawn by Scoresby, Lowe, and Glaisher, and may be found pictured in the encyclopaedias and elsewhere, ranging from the simplest stellar shapes to the most complicated ramifications.; Professor Tyndall, in his delightful book on "The Glaciers of the Alps," gives drawings of i a few of these snow-blossoms, which he watched falling for hours, the whole air being filled with them, and drifts of several inches being accu- { moisted while he watched. "Let us imagine the eye gifted with microscopic power sufficient to enable it to see the molecules which composed these starry crystals; to observe the solid nucleus formed and floating in the air; to see it drawing towards it its allied atoms, and these arranging themselves as if they moved to music, and ended with rendering that music concrete." That do the Alpine winds, like Orpheus, build their walls by harmony.

Snow-flakes have been also found in the form of regular hexagons and other plane figures, as veil as in cylinders and spheres. As a general rule, the intenser the cold the more perfect the formation, and the most perfect specimens are Arctic or Alpine in their locality. In this climate the snow seldom falls when the mercury is much below zero; but the slightest atmospheric changes may alter the whole condition of the deposit, and decide whether it shall be a fine powder which can sift through wherever dost can, or descend in large woolly masses, tossed like mouthfuls to the hungry earth.

Interesting observations have been made on the relations between ice and snow. The difference seems to lie only in the more or less compacted arrangement of the frozen particles. Water and air, each being transparent when separate, become opaque when intimately mingled; the reason being that the inequalities of refraction break up and scatter every ray- of light. Thus, clouds cast a shadow; so does steam; so does foam: and the same elements take a still denser texture when combined as snow. Every snow-flake is permeated with minute airy chambers, among which the light is bewildered and lost; while from perfectly hard and transparent ice every trace of air disappears, and the transmission of light is unbroken. Yet that same ice becomes white and opaque when pulverized, its fragments being then intermingled with air again—just as colourless glass may be crushed into white powder. On the other hand, Professor Tyndall has converted slabs of snow to ice by regular pressure, and has shown that every Alpine glacier begins as a snow-drift at its summit, and ends in a transparent ice-cavern below. "The blue blocks which span the sources of the Arveiron were once powdery snow upon the slopes of the Col du Geant."

The varied and wonderful shapes assumed by snow and ice have been best portrayed, perhaps, by Dr. Kane in his two works; but their resources of colour have been so explored by no one as by this same favoured Professor Tyndall, among his Alps. It appears that the tints which in temperate regions are seen feebly and occasionally, in hollows or angles of fresh drifts, become brilliant and constant above the line of

perpetual snow, and the higher the altitude the more lustrous the display. When a staff was struck into the new-fallen ^rift, the hollow seemed instantly to fill with a soft blue liquid, while the snow adhering to the stafF took a complementary colour of pinkish yellow, and on moving it up and down it was hard to resist the impression that a pink flame was rising and sinking in the hole. The little natural furrows in the drifts appeared faintly blue; the ridges were gray, while the parts most exposed to view seemed least illuminated, and as if a light brown dust had been sprinkled over them. The fresher the snow, the more marked the colours, and it made no difference whether the sky were cloudless or foggy. Thus was every white peak decked upon its brow with this tiara of ineffable beauty.

The greatest storm recorded in England, I believe, is that of 1814, in which for fortyeight hours the snow fell so furiously that drifts of sixteen, twenty, and even twenty-four feet were recorded in various places. An inch an hour is thought to be the average rate of deposit, though four inches are said to have fallen during the severe storm of January 3rd, 18.19. When thus intensified, the "beautiful meteor of the snow" begins to give a sensation of something formidable; and when the mercury suddenly falls meanwhile, and the wind rises, there are sometimes suggestions of such terror in a snowstorm as no summer thunders can rival. The brief and singular transatlantic tempest of February 7, 1861, was a thing to be forever remembered by those who saw it. The sky suddenly appeared to open and let down whole solid snow-banks at once, which were caught and torn to pieces by the ravenous winds, and the traveller was instantaneously enveloped in a whirling mass far denser than any fog: it was a tornado with snow stirred into it. Standing in the middle of the road, with houses close on every side, one could see absolutely nothing in any direction, one could hear no sound but the storm. Every landmark vanished, and it was no more possible to guess the points of the compass than in mid-ocean. It was easy to conceive of being bewildered and overwhelmed within a rod of one's own door. The tempest lasted only an hour; but if it had lasted a week, we should have had such a storm as occurred on the steppes of Kirgheez in Siberia, in 1827, destroying two hundred and eighty thousand five hundred horses, thirty thousand four hundred cattle, a million sheep, and ten thousand camels—or as "the thirteen drifty days," in 1620, which killed nine-tenths of all the Bheep in the South of Scotland. On Eskdale Moor, out of twenty thousand only forty-five were left alive, and the shepherds everywhere built up huge semicircular walls of the dead creatures, to afford shelter to the living, till the gale should end. But the most remarkable narrative of a snow-storm which I have ever seen was that written by James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, in record of one which took place January 24th, 1790.

Jamas Hogg at this time belonged to a sort of literary society of young shepherds, and had j set out, the day m-evious, to walk twenty miles over the hills t<r the place of meeting; but so formidable was the look of the sky that he felt i anxious for his sheep, and finally turned back again. There was at that time only a slight fall , of snow, in thin flakes, which seemed uncertain whether to go up or down: the hills were co-! vered with deep folds of frost-fog, and in the valleys the same fog seemed dark, dense, and, as it were, crushed together. An old shepherd, predicting a storm, bade him watch for a sudden opening through this fog, and expect a wind from that quarter; yet, when he saw such an opening suddenly form at midnight (having then reached his own home) he thought it all a delusion, as -the weather had grown milder and a thaw seemed setting in. He therefore went to bed, and felt no more anxiety for his sheep; yet he lay awake in spite of himself, and at two o'clock he heard the storm begin. It smote the house suddenly, like a great peal of thunder— something utterly unlike any storm he had ever before heard. On his rising, and thrusting his bare arm through a hole in the roof, it seemed precisely as if he had thrust it into a snowbank, so densely was the air filled with falling and driving particles. He lay still for an hour, while the house rocked with the tempest, hoping it might prove only a hurricane; but as there was no abatement, he wakened his companionshepherd, telling him it was "come on such a night or morning as never blew from the heavens. The other at once arose, and, opening the door of the shed where they slept, found a drift as high as the farmhouse already heaped between them and its walls, a distance of only fourteen yards. He floundered through, Hogg soon following, and, finding all the family up, they agreed that they must reach the sheep as soon as possible, especially eight hundred ewe3 that were in one lot together, at tbe farthest end of the farm. So, after family prayer6 and breakfast, four of them stuffed their pockets with bread and cheese, sewed their plaids about them, tied down their hats, and, taking each his staff, set out on their tremendous undertaking, two hours before day.

Day dawned before they got three hundred yards from the house. They could not see each other, and kept together with the greatest difficulty. They had to make paths with their slaves, rolled themselves over drifts otherwise impassable, and every three or four minutes had to hold their heads down between their knees to recover breath. They went in single file, taking the lead by turns. The master soon gave out and was speechless and semi-conscious for more than an hour, though be afterwards recovered and held out with the rest. Two of them lost their head-gear, and Hogg himself fell over a high precipice, but they reached the flock at half-past ten. They found the ewes huddled

together in a dense body, under ten feet of snow—packed so closely, that, to the amazement of the shepherds, when they had extricated the first, the whole flock walked out one after another, in a body, through the hole. How they got them home it is almost impossible to tell. It was now noon, and they sometimes could see through the storm for twenty yards, but they had only one momentary glimpse of the hills through all that terrible day. Yet Hogg persisted in going by himself afterwards to rescue some flocks of his own, barely escaping with life from the expedition; his eyes were sealed up with the storm, and he crossed a formidable torrent, without knowing it, on a wreath of snow. Two of the others lost them selves in a deep valley, and would have perished but for being accidentally heard by a neighbouring shepherd, who guided them home, where the female portion of the family had abandoned all hope of ever seeing them again.

The next day was clear, with a cold wind, and they set forth again at daybreak to seek the remainder of the flock. The face of the country was perfectly transformed: not a hill was the same, not a brook or lake could be recognized. Deep glens were filled in with snow, covering the very tops of the trees; and over a hundred acres of ground, under an average depth of six or eight feet, they were to look for four or five hundred sheep. The attempt would have been hopeless but for a dog that accompanied them. Seeing their perplexity, he began sniffing about, * and presently scratching in the snow at a certain point, and then looking round at his master. Digging at this spot they found a sheep beneath: and so the dog led them all-day, bounding eagerly from one place to another— much faster than they could dig the creatures out, so that he sometimes had twenty or thirty holes marked beforehand. In this way, within a week, they got out every sheep on the farm except four, these last being buried under a mountain of snow fifty feet deep, on the top of which the dog had marked their places again and again. In every case tbe sheep proved to lie alive and warm, though half-suffocated. On being taken out they usually bounded away swiftly, and then fell helplessly in a few moments, overcome by the change of atmosphere; some then died almost instantly, and others were carried home and with difficulty preserved, only about sixty being lost in all. Marvellous to tell, the country-people unanimously agreed afterwards to refer the whole terrific storm to some secret incantations of poor Hogg's literary society aforesaid: it was generally maintained that a club of young dare-devile had raised the Fiend himself among them in the likeness of a black dog, the night preceding the storm, and the young students actually did net dare to show themselves at fairs or at markets for a year afterwards.

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