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be greatly amazed at the richer and more luxuriant, but still resembling growths of the tropics. But one, who has always been accustomed to view water in a liquid and colourless state, cannot form the least conception of the same element as hardened into an extensive plain of solid crystal, or covering the ground with a robe of the purest white. The highest possible degree of astonishment must, therefore, attend the first view of these phenomena; and as, in our temperate climate, but a small portion of the year affords such spectacles, we find that, even here, they have novelty enough to excite agreeable emotions. But it is not to novelty alone that they owe their charms. Their intrinsic beauty is, perhaps, individually superior to that of the gayest objects presented by the other seasons. Where, indeed, is the elegance and brilliancy that can compare with that which decorates every tree and bush on the clear morning succeeding a night of hoar-frost? Or what is the lustre that would not appear dull and tarnished, in competition with a field of snow just glazed over with a frosty incrustation?
In this picturesque review of the seasons, we may find many noble sources of religious as well ̧ as philosophical sentiment. The Contemplative Philosopher, while he surveys the grand and beautiful objects that every where surround him, will be prompted to lift his eye to the Great Cause of all these wonders, the Planner and Architect of this mighty fabric, every minute part of which so much awakens his curiosity and admiration. The laws by which this Being acts, the ends which he seems to have pursued, must excite his humble researches; and, in proportion as he discovers Infinite Power in the means, directed by Infinite Goodness in the intention, his soul must be wrapt in astonishment and expanded with gratitude.
The economy of Nature will, to such an observer, be the perfect scheme of an All-wise and Beneficent Mind; and every part of the wide creation will appear to proclaim the praise of its great Author.
I must not conclude this paper without observing, moreover, that the annual space in which the earth performs its revolution round the sun, is so strongly marked by Nature for a perfect period, that all mankind have agreed in forming their computations of time upon it. In all the temperate climates of the globe, the four seasons are so many progressive stages in this circuit, which, like the acts in a well constructed drama, gradually disclose, ripen, and bring to an end, the various business transacted on the great theatre of Nature. The striking analogy which this period, with its several divisions, bears to the course of human existence, has been remarked and pursued by writers in every age and country. Spring has been represented as the youth of the year, the season of pleasing hope, lively energy, and rapid increase'. Summer has been resembled to perfect manhood, the season of steady warmth, confirmed strength, and unremitting vigour. Autumn, while it bestows the rich products of full maturity, is yet ever hastening to decline, and has, therefore, been aptly compared to that period, when the man, mellowed by age, yields the valuable fruits of wisdom and experience, but daily exhibits increasing symptons of decay. The cold, cheerless, and sluggish Winter has, almost without a metaphor, been termed the decrepit and hoary old age of the year. And Thomson, whose noble poem is not merely a descriptive and philo
* See No. XXI. Vernal Reflections.
2 See, in particular, Lucretius, v. 737 ; and Ovid, xv. 196.
sophical, but an eminently moral and religious one, has, from this view of his subject, deduced the most instructive lesson:
Behold, fond Man!
See here thy pictured life; pass some few years,
And pale concluding Winter comes at last,
The melancholy poet of the Night too, adducing the revolutions of Nature as evidences of the immortality of man, exhibits the following beautiful and instructive picture of the seasons :
Look Nature through, 'tis revolution all;
All change, no death. Day follows night, and night
Inserpit curis, pronusque per aëra nutat,
Sleep steals away
MANKIND, without having recourse to extraordinary events, must acknowledge the wisdom and omnipotence of God, in a variety of instances which, to an inattentive observer, seem of small importance. The most common occurrences, the daily revolutions in nature and in our own bodies, are alone sufficient to enforce the strongest convic tion that the world was created by an infinitely wise, powerful, and benevolent Being, who never ceases to govern and superintend the whole. Of the infinite variety of wonders of which He is the author, one alone shall be the subject of my pre sent discussion; and, although it occurs every day, it does not the less merit to be observed, and to be the object of admiration.
If every day did not produce fresh instances of the ingratitude of mankind, we might, perhaps, be at a loss to know, why so liberal and impartial a bene factor as Sleep, should meet with so few historians or panegyrists. Writers, in general, are so totally absorbed by the business of the day, as never to turn their attention to that power, whose officious hand so seasonably suspends the burden of life; and with out whose interposition man would not be able to
endure the fatigue of the most beneficial labour, or the struggles of the most successful opposition.
The poets, however, among all those that enjoy the blessings of sleep, seem to be exempted from this How much Statius considered the evils of life as assuaged and softened by the balm of slumber, we may discover by the pathetic invocation which he poured forth in his waking nights. Virgil and Milton call Sleep the gift of Heaven. Ovid has deified Sleep, and having given a beautiful description of his house, makes Iris, the messenger of Juno, thus address him:
Somne, quies rerum, placidissime Somne Deorum, &c.
O sacred Rest,
Statius has likewise given a description of the House of Sleep; but Ariosto has not merely improved, but surpassed them both. Ovid, in particular, says there is no porter at the door; Custos in limine nullus. But Ariosto has greatly enriched the picture, by placing Oblivion and Silence as centinels before it.
Sotto la nera selva una capace
Lo smemorato Oblio stà sù la porta;