Billeder på siden



"The pale descending year, yet pleasing still,
A gentle mood inspires; for now the leaf
Incessant rustles from the mournful grove."

THERE is much about the later days of Autumn that fixes itself in the minds and memories of those whose early life has been passed in the country. Who does not remember the first snow? It comes as a kind of first-fruit before the general reign and rigor of winter begins.

First we have fog-like, chilly-looking clouds gathering along the horizon, and gradually extending up the sky. Soon successive showers of cold, mist-like rain begin to roll from the mountains, and extend over the country; but there is not enough to start rills in the road, only to soften the surface into slush. At length the drops grow larger, come down faster, and the rain would soon begin to wash the slushy mud in the road, did it not-see!-turn silently into snow!

At first there is only here and there a large flake, coming down more slowly than the rain; but soon the snow prevails, and all around there is one general shower of flakes making toward the earth with a silent majesty of movement that makes one quiet to see. Even the form of the clouds are hid by the millions of falling flakes, so that the sky looks like a deep white sea above. The distant hills and mountains are almost hidden by the intervening sheet of descending show. Only now and then, when there is a gentle momentary abatement, do their outlines appear. How peculiarly pleasant it is to sit at the window in the house, or stand under the feeding-room door at the barn, and look out, dry and sheltered, into the mingled scene of rain and snow. How sweet the sense of security which then steals over the spirit!

See! the snow does not make much impression upon the earth. There is too much rain mixed with it; and the ground is too warm and wet. In the road it but barely congeals the mud, and leaves no trace of snow. On the wood-pile the chips are thinly covered. In the house-yard and meadow it hangs here and there in a thin sheet upon tufts of heavy grass. In the garden it lingers on the broad leaves of cabbage, on red-beet and turnip tops, and covers the saffron beds. The barn-yard remains slushy and bare, and the snow melts as fast as it falls, except where it lodges upon the unrotted straw. All around the smoking manure, and the backs of the patiently standing cattle, receive the flakes as to their tomb, as quickly do they disappear as on the surface of the open lake, or gliding stream.

It is so new and interesting to see in the orchard, how the trees,

still covered with yellow-tinged leaves and ripe fruit, stand silently, half hid by the flakes, as if to mock and defy the stern approaches of winter-as if they said to the snow shower, Cease and abide your time! The snow is lodged upon the leaves and branches, and the wet glistening apples are seen, as if they smiled, through the sheet of falling snow. What a mingling of summer and winter; yet both the snow and the apples remind us of the coming cheerful Christmas fire.

Now the snow comes down hurriedly and thick. It seems as if it could not melt as fast as it falls. Yet still, most that it can do on the surface of the earth in general, is to chill the mud and hang the green blades of grass and wheat with cold drops. It is the early snow, and the earth is yet too warm to sustain a wintry sheet upon its bosom. There are yet many sunshiny and genial days behind the storm; and though the youngsters, too easily swayed by first impressions, are already thinking of sleighs, rabbit-tracks, and partridge-traps, yet the "old people" soon correct their hasty decision by the words, "The Indian summer must first come. The winter apples are yet on the trees, the corn is yet in the fields; and when did Providence bury the rich treasures of autumn with the snows of winter? Father has known God too long to be alarmed by the early snow!

As we expected the snow-shower is abating. Gradually there falls less and less. The mountains, the trees, the fences, the distant woods, and the shape of the clouds appear, and as they are seen they already begin to hasten away. In an hour the wood-pile, and the straw are bare: the green leaves and tufts of grass are uncovered; and the garden is as before. Though the clouds still hang upon the mountain's brow, and lie low and heavy along the distant horizon, yet the sun will be out to-morrow and the farmer will go forth to gather his corn, potatoes, and apples. The housewife, with her daughters, will be busy in gathering the "garden things" into the cellar, or bury them in round heaps of straw and earth.

Behold! the early snow is past. The Indian summer is here. It is mellow Autumn again.

Such a day as we have just described is not lost to the farmer. After breakfast an hour is spent in a kind of easy leisurely deliberation around the kitchen fire, and sometimes not without some annoyance to the women to whom that dominion properly belongs. Now and then we look out at the window, or the door to see what is firmly looked for-that the storm will soon abate. As, however, the snow continues longer than was at first expected, and as the whole day now bids fair to be too unpleasant for out-door work, the boys may get up a large fire in the cellar, and the horse-gears, which have just gone through a season of severe use in seedingtime-having been exposed to the hot sun and sudden summer

showers, and being now dry and brittle-must receive a thorough greasing, that they may again become both softer and stronger. A few articles are needed from town; and as the snow and rain have somewhat abated, one of the boys may attend to that little business. Meanwhile the fruit-cellar needs to be cleared out, and a place prepared for the potatoes, for they must be taken in as soon as the ground is dry enough after this wet spell. The same kind of work is needed in the corn-crib; and in the stables there must be a place provided for the pumpkins with which the cattle are to be fed in early winter. There has been some new corn cast into the bake-oven to dry for cakes and bread. This may now be brought into the cellar, and before the cheerful fire, shelled-this will be a pleasant evening employment. How fine will the first cakes taste!

Such is the day in a farm-house, which ushers in the first snow of autumn. How beautiful are all things in their time and season. How pleasant are the memories of the past; and with how many and strange cords of association does a kind Providence bind back our life to its early beginnings that we may not forget the earlier good which is too often covered with later evil.

[blocks in formation]




THE Hebrew word Esrach, translated Bay-tree, occurs only once in the Bible. "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree. Yet he passed away, and lo! he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found." Is. 37: 35, 36.

Interpreters differ much as to the kind of tree here indicated. Jewish writers suppose that no specific tree is meant, but that the original word merely means, "a native tree," or "a tree growing in its native soil," not having been disturbed in its growth by transplantation into a different soil. Such a tree, they say, spreads itself very luxuriantly because it grows in the soil adapted to its nature. So a wicked man grows great in wickedness, when he is suffered to grow undisturbed in the native soil of sin.

Some suppose it to be the Tamarind, a native of the East Indies, and flourishing in Egypt and Arabia. "This tree," says Roberts, "resists the most powerful storms; it never looses its leaves, and is sacred to Vyraver, the prince of devils. I have seen some that would measure from thirty to forty feet in eircumference." This tree would also illustrate the passage in the Psalms. Its wood is exceedingly hard, and its fruit is sour.

In the Septuagint and vulgate the word is rendered "cedar." The version of Luther, the old Saxon, the Spanish, the Italian of Diodata, and the version of Ainsworth, make it "laurel." The learned noncomformist, Ainsworth, paraphrases the passage thus: "I have seen the wicked daunting terribly, and spreading himself bare as a green, self-growing laurel." Its being said to spread itself in pride, or flourishing in splendor, also fits the laurel, which in its season is covered with pleasant flowers.

Whatever may be the particular tree alluded to, the symbol is very striking as applied to the wicked. How suddenly are they often cast down from their greatness as a tree scorched and shivered by the lightning, or suddenly dying where no direct cause is visible to a human eye. The sumptuous Dives is now luxuriating in his palace and now he lifts up his eyes in the lowest hell. Pride and sin go before destruction; and are generally the true phophesy that a terrible end is near!

"Such is the state of man!

To-day he puts forth tender leaves of hope;
To-morrow blossoms,

And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;

The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is ripening, nips his root,
And thus he falls, never to hope again!"


THE following anecdote of Booth, the great tragedian, will be perused by the readers of The Guardian with pleasure. It occurred before the sparkle of his great black eye had been dimmed by that bane of genius, strong drink. Booth and a number of his friends had been invited to dine with an old gentleman in Baltimore, of distinguishing kindness, urbanity and piety. The host, though disapproving of theatres and theatre-going, had heard so much of Booth's remarkable powers, that curiosity to see the man had, in this instance, overcome all his scruples and prejudice. After the entertainment was over, lamps lighted, and the company reseated in the drawing-room, some one requested Booth, as a particular favor, and one which all present would doubtless appreciate, to read aloud the Lord's Prayer. Booth expressed his ready willingness to afford them this gratification, and all eyes were turned expectantly upon him. Booth rose slow and reverently from his chair. It was wonderful to watch the play of emotions that convulsed his countenance. He became deathly pale, and his eyes, turned tremblingly upwards, were wet with tears. As yet he had not spoken. The silence could be felt. It became absolutely painful, until at last the spell was broken as if by an electric shock, as his rich-toned voice, from white lips, syllabled forth, "Our father, who art in heaven," &c., with a pathos and fervid solemnity which thrilled all hearts. He finished. The silence continued. Not a voice was heard or a muscle moved in his rapt audience, until, from a remote corner a subdued sob was heard, and the host stepping forth with streaming eyes, seized Booth by the hand, said, in broken accents, "Sir, you have afforded me a pleasure for which my whole life will feel grateful. From my boyhood to the present time I thought I had repeated the Lord's Prayer, but I never heard it before; never." "You are right," said Booth; "to read that prayer as it should be read, has cost me severe study and labor for thirty years, and I am far from being satisfied with my rendering of that wonderful production. Hardly one person in ten thousand comprehends how much beauty, tenderness and grandeur can be condensed in a space so small and in words so simple. That prayer of itself sufficiently illustrates the truth of the Bible, and stamps upon it the seal of Divinity."

So great was the effect produced, that conversation was sustained but a short time longer, in subdued monosyllables, and almost entirely ceased; and soon after, at an early hour, the company broke up, and retired to their several homes, with sad faces and full hearts.

« ForrigeFortsæt »