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was the oldest Christmas carol. Glory To God in
THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD-WILL
It was usual, in the ancient feasts, to single out a person, and " place him in the midst, to sing a kind of carol to God." We need scarcely add that the custom of singing carols, &c, at Christinas, still prevails all over England: and, although a few may he good, yet some of those carols put forth under thehead of Divine Mirth, are wanting, not only in piety, but in good semse.
The following anecdote, given by a clergyman, describing the practice of singing at this season in Devonshire, may be interesting. "The first time of my coming to live in this parish (in the South Hams of Devon), happened to be Christmas-eve. In the middle of the night, I was suddenly awoke by the sweetest music I think I ever heard. It was the sound of many voices, accompanied by instruments, all in harmony. I soon began to account for this most agreeable interruption of rr.y night's rest, and concluded that it was a Christmas carol, or hymn, to welcome in the glorious and happy morning. The music, which had been under my window, gradually died away; and, after a pause, I heard it again, but more faintly, from a distance. On the following (Christmas) morning, on attending to perform the service, I recognised, to my surprise, in the choir of the church, the same voices, singing the same hymn, beginning, 'Hark, the herald angels sing.' The circumstance made an impression upon me, which it would be difficult to remove."
Nor must we pass by the ancient custom of Decking Churches and private dwellings with evergreens. It has been thought, by some, to have been adopted in order to record the circumstance of the people cutting down branches from the trees, and strewing them in the way, crying, " Hosanna To The Son Of David!" Others have considered it merely a sign or symbol of gladness: and, when we thus look at the laurel, misletoe, and bright-berried holly, green and flourishing in the depth of winter, when other plants have departed with the summer and autumn, a very natural emblem it seems. Again, it has been said, that evergreens were used, the laurel being, among the Romans, the emblem of joy, peace, . and victory; and that, in the Christian sense, it may be justly applied to the victory gained over the powers of darkness by the coming of Christ. The misletoe, which is also a part of Christmas decorations, is supposed to have been adopted in consequence of the respect paid to it by the Druids.
Stow (in his Survey of London) says that, " against the feast of Christmas, every man's house, as also their parish churches, were decked with holme, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green. The conduits and standards in the streets were also garnished in the same manner."
In a curious tract, published about a hundred and
thirty years since, entitled, 'Round about our Coal
• Fire, or, Christmas Entertainments,' is the following
passage: "The rooms were embowered with holly
ivy, cypress, bays, laurel, and misletoe, and a bouncing Christmas log in the chimney."
Gay has an allusion to the subject:
When rosemary and bays, the poet's crown,
Christmas Presents appear to have been very general. Among others, we find gifts of toys, clothes, fruit, &c, presented by parents to their children in honour of the day. To these gifts, a rod was frequently added, that they might be more easily governed, byr the prospect of correction, in the event o' their doing wrong.
Christmas Sports were various, according to the humour and taste of the people. Morris-dancers and Mummers are still found in some parts of the country: but their performances are probably like those of ancient days, in name only.
THE REMORA, Or SUCKING-FISH.
The extraordinary fish figured below, is furnished with a most peculiar apparatus, on the crown of its head, by which it is enabled at will to fix itself firmly to any other body. For what purpose this uncommon arrangement of parts has been bestowed on it, we have no certain means of judging; for the wonders of the deep are but partially unfolded to our view, and the deep recesses of its caves, the feeding-grounds of fish, are completely out of our reach. We may, however, by observing the peculiar formation of the Remora, make some reasonable conjecture at the intention of Providence in thus departing from its ordinary course.
The small size of the fins in this fish, take away from it the power of rapid motion; it may therefore be supposed, that at times it fixes itself to the moving bodies, such as ships, or larger fish, on which it is frequently found, for the purpose of rest,* or to help it more rapidly onward in its course. It may also feed, in one instance, on substances thrown overboard by the sailors, and in the other, on such portions of food as its larger companion rejects or lets slip. In addition to this, the power of attaching itself to rocks or other fixed bodies at the bottom of the sea, while waiting for the passing by of any small object on'whieh it can prey, will, no doubt, at times, be of great advantage to its possessor.
A foolish idea prevailed, in former times, that when this fish attached itself in great numbers to the bottoms of vessels, it impeded, or even stopped them in their course, and many fabulous tales have been told to that effect. If no other object has been gained, by the study of natural history, than the removal of such simple prejudices, which would seem to imply that one part of the creation was made for the useless destruction of another, still that study would be a useful object of cultivation.
THE AIR WE BREATHE. Nothing is more interesting than those general laws by which God preserves the order of the world. If we had a complete knowledge of all the wonderful contrivances that siirround us, we should be filled with admiration and awe: to contemplate those with which we are acquainted, is the highest of intellectual pleasures.
One of these contrivances may be made intelligible even to those who have no acquaintance with Natural Philosophy.
The Air is made up of two different gases, or airs, mixed together in a particular proportion. Of these, one ('oxygen), which we will call life-air, is necessary for the support of men and all other animals, which would die without it; neither could any thing burn without the help of this life-air. Since, then, a vast quantity of it is consumed every hour, how is the supply kept up? How is it that the stock of life-air is still sufficient for us, and our fires and candles?
Now, besides these two gases, there is also present in the atmosphere another gas, called carbonic acid, which is made up of carbon and life-air. The name will be unknown to many, but all are well acquainted with the thing: it is what gives spirit to ale, wine, &c, and even to water, which is insipid after boiling, from the loss of its carbonic acid.
This carbonic acid is produced by the breathing of animals, and the putrefaction of animal and vegetable substances. Now, this constant supply must be got rid of, or it would kill us; and it is got rid of thus: all vegetables—grass, herbs, trees, &c.—suck in this carbonic acid during the day; nourish themselves with the carbon, and give back the life-air that was combined with it. In the night, they do the reverse; but still, taking a whole day, they lessen the quantity of carbonic acid gas, and furnish the atmosphere with that supply of life-air, which is necessary for the existence of the animal creation.
THE HERMIT AND THE VISION.
It is told of a religious recluse, who, in the early ages of Christianity, betook himself to a cave in Upper Egypt, which, in the times of the Pharaohs, had been a depository for mummies; that he prayed there, morning, noon, and night, eating only of the dates which some neighbouring trees afforded, and drinking of the water of the Nile. At length, the hermit became weary of life, and then he prayed still more earnestly.
After this duty, one day he fell asleep, and the vision of an angel appeared to him in a dream, commanding him to arise, and cut down a neighbouring palm-tree, and make a rope of its fibres, and, after it was done, the angel Would appear to him again. The hermit awoke, and instantly applied himself to obey the vision.
He travelled about, from place to place, many days before he could procure an axe ; and during this journey, lie felt happier than he had been for many years. His prayers were now short and few; but what they wanted in length and number, they out-measured in fervency.
Having returned with the axe, he cut down the tree; and, with much labour and assiduity during several days, prepared the fibres to make the rope; and, after a continuance of daily occupation for some weeks, completed the command.
The vision that night appeared to the hermit, as promised, and thus addressed him: "You are now no longer weary of life, but happy. Know then, that man was made for labour; and prayer also is his duty: the one as well as the other is essential to his well-being. Arise in the morning, take the cord, and with it gird up thy loins, and go forth into the world; and let it be a memorial to thee, of what God expects from man, if he would be blessed with happiness on earth."
A Man who accustoms himself never to be pleased, is very fortunate; as he can never be in want of subjects fat his displeasure. H u Nter.
CURIOUS CASE OF DECEPTION. A Vkry curious case of deception was communicated to me by the son of tho lady principally concerned, and tends to show out of what mean materials a venerable apparition may be sometimes formed. In youth, this lady resided with her father, a man of sense and resolution. Their house was situated in the principal street of a town of some size. The back part of the house ran at right angles to an anabaptist chapel, divided from it by a small cabbagegarden. The young lady used sometimes to indulge the romantic love of solitude, by sitting in her own apartment in the evening, till twilight, and even darkness, was approaching.
One evening, while she was thus placed, she was surprised to see a gleamy figure, as of some aerial being, hovering, as it were, against the arched window in the end of the anabaptist chapel. Its head was surrounded by that halo which painters give to the catholic saints; and, while the young lady's attention was fixed on an object so extraordinary, the figure bent gracefully towards her, more than once, as if intimating a sense of her presence, and then disappeared. The seer of this striking vision descended to her family, so much discomposed as to call her father's attention. He obtained an account of the cause of her disturbance, and expressed his intention to watch in the apartment next night. He sat, accordingly, in his i daughter's chamber, where she also attended him. Twilight came, and nothing appeared; but as the gray light faded into darkness, the same female figure was seen hovering on the window; the same shadowy form; the same pale light around the head; the same inclinations, as the evening before. "What do you think of this?" said the daughter to the astonished father. "Any thing, my dear," said the father, "rather than allow that we look upon what is supernatural."
A strict research established a natural cause for the appearance on the window. It was the custom of an-old woman, to whom the garden beneath was rented, to go out at night to gather cabbages. The lantern she earned in her hand, threw up the refracted reflection of her form on the chapel window. As she stooped to gather her cabbages, the reflection appeared to bend forward; and that was the whole matter. Sir Walter Scott's Demonology
THE BUTTERFLY'S FUNERAL.
Oh ye! who so lately were blithesome and gay,
No longer the Flies and the Emmets advance,
Clje CCpttaplj. At this solemn spot, where the green rushes wave, Here sadly we bent o'er the Butterfly's grave; 'Twas here we to beauty our obsequies paid, And hallow'd the mound her ashes had made. And here shall the daisy and violet blow. And the lily discover her bosom of snow; While under the leaf, in the evenings of spring. Still mourning her friend, shall the Grasshopper sing.
THE CONSCIENTIOUS MIMIC. Towards the beginning of the last century, an actor celebrated ftv mimicry was to have been employed by a comic author, to take off the person, manner, and singularly awkward delivery, of the celebrated Dr. Woodward, who was intended to be introduced on the stage in a laughable character. The mimic dressed himself as a countryman, and waited on the Doctor with a long catalogue of ailments which, he said, afflicted his wife. The physician heard with amazement of diseases and pains of the most opposite nature, repeated and redoubled on the wretched patient: for since the actors greatest wish was to keep Dr. Woodward in his company as long as possible, that he might make the more observations on his gestures, he loaded his poor imaginary spouse with every infirmity which had any probable chance of prolonging the interview. At length, having completely accomplished his errand, he drew from his purse a guinea, and with a bow and scrape made an uncouth offer of it. "Put up thy money poor fellow,'- cried the Doctor, " put up thy money. Thou hast need of all thy cash, and all thy patience too, with such a bundle of diseases tied to thy back." The comedian returned to his employer, and related the whole conversation with such true feeling of the physician's character, that the author was convulsed with laughter. But his raptures were soon checked, when the mimic told him, with emphatic sensibility, that he would sooner die, than prostitute his talents to the rendering such genuine humanity a public object of ridicule. Thoughts on Laughter.
Whejj we study the writings of men it is well if, after much pains and labour, we find some particles of truth amongst a great deal of error. When we read the Scriptures, all we meet with is truth. In the former case, we are like the Africans on the Gold Coast, of whom it is said that they dig pits nigh the water-falls of mountains abounding in gold, then with incredible pains and industry wash off the sand till they espy at the bottom two or three shining grains of the metal, which only just pays their labour. In the latter case, we work in a mine sufficient to enrich ourselves and all about us. Bishop Houne.
A Person discovering the proofs of the Christian Religion, is like an heir finding the deeds of his estate. Shall he officiously condemn them as counterfeit, or cast them aside without examination? Pascal.
It is a pleasure to stand on the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea; a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle, and the adventures thereof below; but no pleasure is comparable to the standing on the vantage ground of truth, (a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene,) and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below; so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride. Certainly it is heaven upon earth to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon the poles of truth. Bacon.
HYMN FOR CHRISTMAS DAY.
BY BISHOP HEBER.
O Saviour, whom this holy morn
Gave to our world below;
And more than mortal woe!
Incarnate Word! by every grief,
By each temptation tried,
And to redeem us died!
If gaily clothed and proudly fed,
Remind us of Thy manger-bed,
If prestby poverty severe,
In envious want we pine,
Hiw poor a lot was Thine 1
Through fickle fortune's various scene
Like us Thou hast a mourner been,
EXTRAORDINARY PRESERVATION OF LIFE
UNDER SNOW. The following event, which occurred during the remarkably hard winter of 1708-9, is recorded on the most unquestionable authority. A poor woman near Yeovil, in Somersetshire, having been at Chard to sell her yarn, in her return home fell so very ill that she was forced to take refuge in a small house by the way-side, and being towards evening, she desired the people that they would, let her sit by the fire during night. This was denied. She left the house, and feeling very ill, laid herself down under a hedge. It snowed very hard; and in a little time she was almost covered by it. At last one of her neighbours came by, who asjeed her how she could be so mad as to lie there to be starved. She said her sickness was so violent she could not possibly go further. He then took her up, and bade her try as well as she could, adding, it was not so very far for her to go. She followed him a little way, but nimble to persevere, she }eft him, and laid herself down under the hedge again. She was soon covered with the snow, which was falling very thick. Thus she continued for nearly a week, her neighbours, meanwhile, making great inquiries after her: but no qne could give any account except that one man; and he kept silent for fear of a suspicion falling upon hiin that he had made away with her.
During this surprise, a poor woman dreamed (or rather pretended to have dreanied, the man having, probably, suggested to her this expedient to save his conscience apd his neck), that she lay under a hedge in such a place. Her neighbours immediately went to the place with sticks, which they forced through the snow; at last one of them thought he heard a groan: upon which he thrust his stick down with more force, which made the woman cry out, " Oh, for God's sake don't kill me." She was taken out, to the astonishment of them all; and was found to have taken great part of her upper garment for sustenance. She told them she had lain very warm, and had slept most part of the time. One of her legs lay just under a bush, so that it was not quite covered with snow, by which it became almost mortified, but (says the contemporary narrator) it is like to do very well. She was very cheerful, and soon walked. She lay
under the hedge at least seven days. Hearne's
Letter to Francis Charry, Esq., of Shottesbrook.
In February 1799, a similar imprisonment in the snow, but attended, ultimately, with more fatal consequences, was the lot of Elizabeth Woodcock, aged 42, between Impington and Cambridge. She was riding from market, when her horse, frightened by a meteor, started; and, running backward, approached the brink of a ditch. She dismounted, and the horse ran from her. She overtook him, and continued leading him, till worn down with fatigue, and under the load of a heavy basket full of her marketings, she addressed the horse : "Tinker, I am too tired to go on any further, you must go home without me."
She sat herself down, and was soon covered with snow. Here, in a sort of cavern, she was buried alive for eight days. On the morning after her first enclosure, she contrived to break off a stick from the hedge, and tying her handkerchief to it, she thrust it through an opening in the snow. She was certainly sensible all the time, and overheard the conversation of some gypsies, but although she cried as loud as she could, they did not (as they declared) hear her. On the second Sunday, Joseph Muncey, a farmer, on his way home from Cambridge, was drawn to the place by the appearance of the handkerchief, and discovering who it was, went for help. A shepherd who
eagerly grasped his hand and said, "I have been here a long time." "Yes," answered he, "since Saturday." "Ay, Saturday week," she replied, "I have heard the bells go two Sundays for church."
She was then taken home, and a most fatal treatment was she subjected to. They gave her strong liquors, and applied poultices of stale beer and oatmeal boiled together. The direct contrary to which, under Providence, would have restored her. She lost her toes; and lingered on till the following July, when she died.
The following remarks deserve the serious attention of every one :—they appear to be founded on the soundest principles. "The application of heat to the human body, after intense cold, is attended with the most dreadful consequences; it always produces extreme pain, and, most frequently, either partial or general mortification of the parts to which the heat is applied. Instead, therefore, of allowing persons who have thus suffered from frost or snow to come near a fire, let the limbs be rubbed well with snow, or, if snow cannot be procured, let them be put into cold water, and afterwards rubbed with flannel for a considerable time; (the contrary, in the case of Elizabeth Woodcock, having been nearly fatal.) Let the person be kept most cautiously from taking too much or too nutritious food. Spirits also, or wine, should, under no pretence whatever, be given, without being weakened very much with water. Great attention must be paid to the state of the bowels. The use of opium and camphor is much to be recommended, though at first the opium should be given in very small portions."
The narrative ends with this remark. "We are sorry to add, that too free indulgence in spirituous liquors is supposed to have been the cause, both of the accident which befel Elizabeth Woodcock, and ita fatal consequences,-!—Gent, Mai;, .. A
"Without knowing particulars," says Bishop Butler,—one, at least, of the soundest reasoners that have ever lived,— "I take upon me to assure all persons who think that they have received indignities or injurious treatment, that they may depend upon it, as in a manner certain, that the offence is not so great as they imagine."
We are too apt to forget our actual dependence on Providence for the circumstances of every instant. The most trivial events may determine our state in the world. Turning up one street, instead of another, may bring us in company with a person whom we should not otherwise have met; and this may lead to a train of other events which may determine the happiness or misery of our lives. Cecil.
One of the fathers saith, "that there is but this difference between the death of old men and young men; that old men go to death, and death comes to young men. Bacon.
THE DOUBTER S QUESTION.
Unfathomable Sea 1 whose waves are years!
Ocean of Time! whose waters of deep woe
Thou shoreless Hood, which, in thy ebb and flow,
THE BELIEVERS ANSWER.
Ocean of Time! There is One Lord, who sways
Alike thine issues, and th" unwearied tide, Which, thy stern image, laving earth, decays
Man's works, as thou his race. In Him we bide
Ages of ages, wane ;—as Amazon,
In ocean's waste, to cold oblivion run,—
The swelling surge and wrathful tempest laid.
On the rough deep his fainting servant stayed, O'er thy lone billows shall my pilot be! Yes! though, when Death unfolds his shadowy realm, Visions of awe this parting soul o'erwhelm, The Cross, my heart's sure anchor, Faith, my helm, I will put forth on thee, Unfathomable sea! T. P. O.
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OWEN GLENDOWERS OAK.
Owen Glendower's Oak is situated at Shelton, distant about a mile from Shrewsbury, and by the side of the road leading from that town to Oswestry. It has its name from a tradition of Owen Glendowcr having mounted the tree to gain a view of the battle of Shrewsbury. This battle was fought on the 20th of July, 1403, between the forces of Henry the Fourth, then king of England, and those of Sir Henry Percy, commonly called Hotspur, eldest son of the Earl of Northumberland. Henry the Fourth had not been long on the throne, before he found that he had many enemies; among the most formidable of whom were the Earl of Northumberland, and Owen Glendower, who was descended from the ancient sovereigns of Wales. These two persons became discontented with Henry's government, and formed a scheme for uniting together to dethrone Vol. I
him. The Earl's eldest son, Hotspur, was to march with a large army from the north of England, and Glendower was to meet him with such forces as he could collect in Wales.
As soon as the king was aware of these hostile movements, he marched in all haste, to come xip with Hotspur before he was joined by Glendower. The royal army entered Shrewsbury only a few hours before Hotspur arrived at the gates. This was on the 19th of July, and the king was anxious to give battle without delay. Hotspur, however, did not feel himself strong enough for this, having not above fourteen thousand men in his army, whereas the king had nearly double that number. On the following morning, the king's forces marched out of the town, and succeeded in forcing Hotspur to an engagement, of which the following interesting account is taken from the History of Shrewsbury.
"The fight began by furious and repeated volleys