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clustered heads in the gardens. The noble liverwort flowers about this period: of this there are three varieties-the purple, the blue, and the white; and they are occasionally double. Coming early as they do, they are a very desirable acquisition in gardens; and when growing thick together, their flowers produce a rich effect at a distance, when everything around is comparatively naked. Sometimes the daisy may be seen. in this month springing up like an unexpected thought in the moist meadows: but we must say little now of this lovely flower. It is pleasant to wander during this naked season into a garden planted with evergreens, especially when the weather chances to be fine and warm: we seem then to enjoy a summer in winter, a green world in the wilderness, where we may one moment look out over the wide waste, and in the next lay ourselves under the shadows of trees.

"Now at noon,
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,

And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
For trees, and rivulets whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts deer,
And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root,
Deceive no student."


There is something very pleasing in the unexpected appearance of flowers: not that their presence always brings glad thoughts; but even if this is not the case, there are associations woven with them that we wish not to forget. We see a flower springing out on the skirts of this month, braving with its frail beauty storm and rain, and stepping forth like the enthusiasm of youth into a world which it has created

without a winter! What a hope is there thrown around the early primrose! what weeks of tempest and darkness are forgotten when it steps forth, bringing with it a future promise,-dreams of many a lovely flower, and days without a cloud! We gather not the same pleasure from seeing flowers in a room which we feel when breathing amongst them in fields and gardens; there is something more graceful in the waving of a bluebell upon the free hill-tops: but this may be fancy. The song of birds too strikes me in the same way: the voice of the nightingale heard in a house is tame to my ears when compared with the song that gushes from the denizen of the woods,

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Singing of summer in full-throated ease."

In the former, I hear not the notes prolonged as they come softened over the wide river, and filling up the pause between the waving of trees, the lowing of cattle, or even the clap of a solitary gate: I hear only a prisoner, not the song of the bold and free.

Clare in his Shepherd's Calendar thus describes February:

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"The sun peeps through the window-pane,

Which children mark with laughing eye,
And in the wet street steal again,

To tell each other spring is nigh.
Then as young Hope the past recalls,

In playing groups they often draw,
To build beside the sunny walls

Their spring-time huts of sticks or straw.

"And oft in pleasure's dream they hie

Round homesteads by the village side,
Scratching the hedge-row mosses by,

Where painted pooty shells abide ;
Mistaking oft the ivy spray

For leaves that come with budding spring,
And wondering, in their search for play,
Why birds delay to build and sing.

"The mavis thrush, with wild delight,

Upon the orchard's dripping tree
Mutters, to see the day so bright,

Fragments of young Hope's poesy;
And Dame oft stops her buzzing wheel,

To hear the robin's note once more,

Who tootles while he pecks his meal
From sweet-briar hips beside the door."

"The singing of birds before the springing of flowers, and the bursting of buds, comes like the music of a sweet band before a procession of loveliness. In our youth we were delighted with the voices and forms and plumages of these little creatures, To catch a songster is a schoolboy's great achievement; to have one in a cage, to tend upon it, change its water, give it fresh seeds, hang chickweed and groundsel, and thrust sugar between the wires, chirp and encourage it to sing, are a little girl's chief delight."

It is not necessary that one should constantly haunt the fireside at this season; there is much more to muse upon than some might imagine in the fields and by-places. There is something pleasing, in gazing into a farmyard, to see all the cattle supplied with what is necessary for their wants, and much more than they could provide for themselves if turned into the fields. It is the labourer's principal occupation in the dead season of the year to look after them. Many people wonder how the peasant passes over the winter months; forgetting that he is a philosopher, and has as many speculations and theories to look after in his way as the great

est, and that his conclusions are often more satisfactory. He calculates the quantity of rain which has fallen during the night by the height of his pond, and ascertains the direction of the wind by the smoke of his chimney. If the sun rises red and fiery, he calculates upon wind or rain: he also expects rain when the swallow flies low, and keeps dipping the tips of her wings in the water. When ducks and geese are unusually clamorous, he looks for rain; and when bees do not leave their hives-when swine and poultry rub themselves in the dust, pigeons seek the water, and cats wash their faces, he expects wet. When flies sting and become troublesome; when dogs and cats grow uneasy, and fall asleep; when cattle stretch out their necks, and snuff in the air, or assemble in a corner of the field, then he feels sure of a shower. Frogs croaking, peacocks calling, spiders crawling on the walls, worms coming out of the earth, cocks crowing and clapping their wings at unusual hours, toads leaving their holes, moles throwing up the earth, asses shaking their ears and braying, oxen licking their fore-feet, or bats squeaking or entering houses, these, and many others, are the peasant's calendar, and he seldom fails in ascertaining the truth from one or other of these signs. If we turn to Virgil, we shall there see a great many of these signs enumerated. Even the sailor has his signs upon the desolate ocean, and dreads the gathering of foam, or the congregating of stormy petrels in the wake of the vessel.

It is only in the country where you find superstition in its strength; in those quiet, retired villages where new customs and new creeds but rarely enter-where the son hoards up the traditions of his father until the old man is no more, and he himself grows grey and again narrates them to his children. Many a "wise man" and age-bent fortune-telling old woman yet resides in the hamlets of England; and many a fair maid endeavours to regulate her life and fix her expectations according to the half-muttered prophecy of the old sibyl. Thousands yet believe that the howling of a dog denotes death, that

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pigs can see the wind, and that those who are born in the night can never see ghosts. To put on your stocking wrong side outwards without knowing it is a sign of good luck; while a bright spark in the candle signifies a letter containing good news, and bubbles upon your tea tell that you will be rich. You must carry a portion of a coffin in your pocket to keep away the cramp, hang your stockings up crosswise to keep off the nightmare, and spit upon the first piece of coin you receive in a morning that you may have good luck—the last practice I have often witnessed in London. When your cheek burns some one is supposed to be talking about you; when your ears glow they are telling lies of you; if your nose itches you will be vexed; and if your right eye itches you will have good luck,—should the left itch you will have bad. To lend a friend a knife or a pair of scissors is to cut friendship; and to give a person a light between Christmas and Twelfth Night is to bring upon yourself ill fortune all that year. I recollect well losing the good will of my old grandmother by allowing a benighted waggoner to light his lantern while her back was turned; and it was many a week before the old lady forgave me. It is unlucky to meet a person who squints; one magpie denotes sorrow, two luck, three a wedding, and four death.

Were I to enumerate all the superstitions that have come under my own observation in Lincolnshire alone, I should fill several pages of this volume. Charms are commonly worn for the ague, a complaint that is very prevalent in the fens; and if the secret scroll is once opened, there is supposed to be no chance of a cure. Horse-shoes still continue to be nailed to the thresholds of doors to keep out the witch; and if hollow cinders leap from the fire, they are believed to represent coffins, and the persons at whose feet they fall are looked upon as half dead. To spill salt is to draw upon yourself so many days of sorrow, even to the number of the grains overturned. I know many persons whose pockets are never without a small portion

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