Camany weeds to keep the cold away;
Yet did he quake e old January, wrapped well
In mand quiver like to quell,
And blowe his nayles to warm them it he may;
For they were numbed with holding all the day
An hatchet keene, with which he felled wood,
Anf from the trees did lop the needlesse spray
Upon an huge great Earth-pot Steane he stood,
Front whose wide month there flowed forth the Romano flood.
January is the open gate of the year, shut until the shortest day passed, but now open to let in the lengthening daylight, which will soon fall upon dim patches of pale green, that show where spring is still sleeping. Sometimes Between the hoary pillars-when the winter is mild-a few wan snowdrops will peep out and catch the faint sunlight which streams in coldly through the opening gateway, like timid messengers sent to see if Spring has yet stirred from her long sleep.
But it is yet too early for the hardy crocus to throw its banded gold along the pathway; and as for the 'ratite primrose,' it sits huddled up in its little cloak of green, or is seen peeping through its half-closed yellow eye, as if watching the snow-flakes as they fall. Only the red-breasted robin --his heart filled with hope-sings his cheerful song on the naked hawthorn spray, through which the tiny buds are striving to break forth, like a herald proclaiming glad tidings, and making known, far and wide, that erelong 'the winter will be over and gone,' and the moonlight-coloured May-blossoms once again appear.
All around, as yet, the landscape is barren and dreary. In the early morning, the withered sedge by the water-courses is silvered over with hoary rime; and if you handle the frosted flag-rushes, they seem to cut like swords. Huddled up like balls of feathers, the fieldfares sit in the leafless hedges, as if they had no heart to breakfast off the few hard, black, withered berries which still dangle in the wintry wind. Amid the cold frozen turnips, the hungry sheep look up and bleat pitifully; and if the cry of an early lamb falls on your ear, it makes the heart sorrowful only to listen to it. You pass the village churchyard, and almost shiver to think that the very dead who lie there must be pierced by the cold, for there is not even a crimson hip or haw to give a look of warmth to the stark hedges, through which the bleak wind whistles.
Around the frozen pond the cattle assemble, lowing every now and then, as if impatient, and looking backward for the coming of the herdsman to break the ice. Even the nose of cherry-checked Patty looks blue, as she issues from the snow-covered cowshed with the smoking milk pail on her head. There is no sound of the voices of village children in the winding lanes-nothing but the creaking of the old carrier's cart along the frost-bound road, and you pity the old wife who sits peeping out between the opening of the tilt, on her way to the neighbouring markettown. The very dog walks under the cart in silence, as if to avail himself of the little shelter it affords, instead of frisking and barking beside his master, as he does when ' the leaves are green and long.' There is a dull, leaden look about the sky, and you have no wish to climb the hill-top on which those gray clouds hang gloomily. You feel sorry for the poor donkey that stands hanging his head under the guide-post, and wish there were flies about to make him whisk his ears, and not leave him altogether motionless. The 'Jolly Farmer' swings on his creaking sign before the road-side alehouse, like the bones of a murderer in his gibbet-irons; and instead of entering the house, you hurry past the closed door, resolved to warm yourself by walking quicker, for you think a glass of ale must be but cold drink on such a morning. The old ostler seems bent double through cold, as he stands with his hands in his pockets, and his pitchfork thrust into the smoking manure-heap that litters the stable-yard.
A walk in the country on a fine frosty morning in January gives the blood a healthy circulation, and sets a man wondering why so many sit croodleing' over the fire at such a season. The trees, covered with hoar-frost, are beautiful to look upon, and the grass bending beneath its weight seems laden with crystal; while in the distance the hedges seem sheeted with May blossoms, so thickly, that you might fancy there was not room enough for a green leaf to peep out between the bloom. Sometimes a freezing shower comes down, and that is not quite so pleasant to be out in, for in a few moments everything around is covered with ice-the boughs seem as if cased in glass, the plumage of birds is stiffened by it, and they have to give their wings a brisk shaking before they are able to fly; as for a bunch of red holly berries, could they but retain their icy covering, they would make the prettiest ornaments that could be placed on a mantel-piece.
This is the time of year to see the beautiful ramification of the trees, for the branches are no longer hidden by leaves, and all the interlacings and crossings of exquisite network are visible-those pencilling of the sprays which too few of our artists study. Looking nearer at the hedges, we already see the tiny buds forming, mere specks on the stem, that do but little more than raise the bark; yet by the aid of a glass we can uncoil the future leaves which summer weaves in her loom into broad green curtains. The snails are asleep; they have glued up the doorways of their moveable habitations; and you may see a dozen of their houses fastened together if you probe among the dead leaves under the hedges with your walking-stick; while the worms have delved deep down into the earth, beyond the reach of the frost, and thither the mole has followed them, for he has not much choice of food in severe frosty weather.
The woodman looks cold, though he wears his thick hedging gloves, for at this season he clears the thick underwood, and weaves into hurdles the smooth hazel-wands, or any long limber twigs that form the low thicket beneath the trees. He knows where the primroses are peeping out, and can tell of little bowery and sheltered hollows, where the wood-violets will erelong appear. The ditcher looks as thoughtful as a man digging his own grave, and takes no heed of the pretty robin that is piping its winter song on the withered gorse bushes with which he has just stopped up a gap in the hedge. Poor fellow, it is hard work for him, for the ground rings like iron when he strikes it with his spade, yet you would rather be the ditcher than the old man you passed a while ago, sitting on a pad of straw and breaking stones by the wayside, looking as if his legs were frozen.
That was the golden-crested wren which darted across the road, and though the very smallest of our British birds, it never leaves us, no matter how severe the winter may be, but may be seen among the fir-trees, or pecking about where the holly and ivy are still green. If there is a spring-head or water-course unfrozen, there you are pretty sure to meet with the wag-tail-the smallest of all our walking birds, for he marches along like a soldier, instead of jumping, as if tied up in a sack, as most of our birds do when on the ground. Now the blue titmouse may be seen hanging by his claws, with his back downward, hunting for insects in some decaying bough, or peeping about the thatched eaves of the cottages and outhouses, where it will pull out the straw to stir up the insects that lie snug within the thatch.
In the hollows of trees, caverns, old buildings, and dark out-of-the-way places, the bats hibernate, holding on by their claws, while asleep, head downwards, one over another, dozens together, there to await the coming of spring, along with the insects which will then come out of their hiding-places.
But unsightly as the bat appears to some eyes, there is no cleaner animal living, in spite of all our poets have written against it; for it makes a brush of its droll-looking little head, which it pokes under its umbrella-like wings, not leaving a cranny unswept, and parts its hair as carefully as a ringletted beauty. As for the insects it feeds upon, they are now in a state of torpor; most of the butterflies and moths are dead; those summer beauties that used to sit like folded pea-blossoms swinging on the flowers, have secured their eggs from the cold, to be hatched when the primrose-coloured sky of spring throws its warm light over the landscape. None of our clever warehouse packers can do their work so neatly as these insects; for, after laying their eggs in beautiful and regular order, they fill up the interstices with a gum that hardens like glue, and protects them in the severest weather.
Those who wish for a good crop of fruit now hunt among the naked branches for these eggs, which are easily found through the dead leaves, to which they adhere; when these are destroyed, there is no fear of young grubs gnawing and piercing the bloom, nor can there be a better time to hunt for these destroyers of melting plums and juicy apples than in January. No doubt, the soft-billed birds that remain with us all the year round devour myriads of these eggs, and they serve to eke out the scanty subsistence these hardy choristers find strewn so sparingly in severe winters. How these birds manage to live through the killing frosts has long been a puzzle to our ablest naturalists, and after all their research, He alone knoweth without whose permission not a sparrow falls to the ground.
There is no better time than during a walk in January to get a good view of the mosses that grow on and around the trees, for at this season they stand boldly out in all their beautiful colourings, falling on the eye in masses of rich red, silver-gray, umbered brown, and gaudy orange; while the yellow moss is almost as dazzling as sunshine, and the green the most beautiful that gladdens the earth. In some places, we see it fitted together like exquisite mosaic work, in others it hangs down like graceful fringe, while the green looks like fairy trees, springing from a cushion of yielding satin. The screw moss is very curiously formed; it grows plentifully on old walls, and looks like dark-green flossy velvet. Now, if closely examined, a number of slender stems will be found springing from this soft bed, crowned with what botanists call the fruit. On this is a cap, just like that found on the unblown and well-known eschscholtzia; when this extinguisher-shaped cap is thrown off (it may be lifted off) a beautiful tuft of twisted hairs will be found beneath, compressed at the neck, and forming just such a brush as one can imagine the fairies use to sweep out the pollen from the flowers. Place this beautiful moss in water, and this brush will uncoil itself, if left above the surface, and release the seed within.
Another of the scale mosses is equally curious, and if brought into a warm room, with a drop of water applied to the seed-vessel, it will burst open and throw out a little puff of dust; and this dust, when examined by a powerful glass, will be found to consist of links of little chains, not unlike the spring of a watch. But the most beautiful of all is the 'silver' cup moss, the silvery cup of which is shaped like a nest, while the sporules inside look like eggs, such as a bird no larger than a gnat might build to breed in. This moss is commonly found on decayed wood. Sometimes, while hunting for curious mosses, at the stems of aged trees, we have aroused the little dormouse from his wintry sleep, as he lay coiled up, like a ball, in his snug burrow, where his store of pro-vision was hoarded; for, unlike the fabled ant, he does lay in a stock for this dark season, which the ant does not.
Snow in the streets is very different from snow in the country, for there it no sooner falls than it begins to make more dirt, and is at once trampled into mud by a thousand passing feet on the pavement, while in the roadway the horses and vehicles work it into 'slush,' which. only a brisk shower of rain can clear away. In the country snow is really white; there is none of that gray dirty look about it, which is seen in localities that neighbour upon town, but it lies on the fields, as Milton says, like
A wintry veil of maiden white.
The embankments look like stately terraces formed of the purest marble, and the hills in the distance are scarcely distinguishable from the fleecy clouds that crown their summits; while the wild open moors and hedgeless commons look like a sea of foam, whose waves were suddenly frozen into ridgy rest, the buried bushes only skewing like loftier crests. Vehicles pass along the scarcely distinguishable road with a strange, dull, muffled sound, like objects moving before the eye in a dream, so much do we miss the gritty and grinding noise which the wheels make in the dust of summer. What a different aspect the landscape presents when viewed from some neighbouring eminence! But for a few prominent landmarks, we should hardly know it was the same scene that we looked upon in summer; where the hedges then stretched like green walls across the country, we see but whitened barriers; for the only dark object that now catches the eye is the river that goes rolling between its powdered banks. The appearance of the village, too, is altered; the picturesque thatched roofs of the cottages have vanished, and but for the smoke that curls above the scene, you might fancy that all the inhabitants had fled, for neither flocks nor herds are seen or heard bleating and lowing from the fields, and all out-of-door employment has ceased. You hear the ringing of the blacksmith's hammer, and as you return when the day darkens, will see the light of his forge fall with a crimson glare across the snow-covered road. Even the striking of the church clock falls upon the ear with a deadened sound, and the report of the sportsman's gun dies away as soon as heard, leaving no prolonged echo behind.
While watching the snow fall, you can almost fancy that the flakes are white blossoms shaken from a land of flowers that lies somewhere above the sky; those that touch the river are gone in an instant, while some, as they fall slantways, unite together before they touch. the earth: Science has seized upon and pictured the fantastic shapes the falling snow-flakes assume, and they are ' beautiful exceedingly.' Not less so is frost-work, which may be seen without stirring abroad on the window-panes; what a mingling of fern leaves and foliage of every shape, rare network and elfin embroidery, does this silent worker place before the eye, such as no pattern-drawer ever yet seized upon, although
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.'-Keats.
The farmer must attend to his cattle during this 'dead season,' for they require feeding early and late; and it is his business to put all the meat he can on their backs, so that they may weigh heavy, and realise a good price in the market. For this purpose, he must be active in cutting swedes and mangel-wurzel. Without this care, the farmer cannot keep pace with his neighbours. He gets rid of his saleable stock as soon as he can; he says, he 'likes to see fresh faces in his fields.' It is a pleasant sight to see the well-fed, clean-looking cattle in the straw-yard, or sniffing about the great barn-doors, where the thresher is at work, waiting for the straw he will throw out. It is a marvel that the poultry escape from those great heavy hoofs; as for a game-cock, he will make a dash at the head of an ox, as if he cared not a straw for his horns; and as for sucking pigs, they are farrowed to be killed.
The teams are also now busy taking the farm produce to market, for this is the season when corn, hay, and straw realise a good price; and a wagon piled high with clean white turnips, or laden with. greens or carrots, has a pleasant look moving through the wintry landscape, as it conjures up before the hungry pedestrian visions of boiled beef and mutton, which a walk in frosty weather gives a hearty man a good appetite to enjoy. Manure can also be carted better to the fields during a frost than at any other time, for the ground is hard, and the wheels make but little impression on rough fallow lands. Let a thaw come, and few persons, unless they have lived in the country, can know the state the roads are in that lead to some of our out-of-the-way villages in the clayey districts. A foot-passenger, to get on at all, must scramble through some gap in the hedge, and make his way by trespassing on the fields. In the lane, the horses are knee-deep in mire every step they take; and as for the wain, it is nearly buried up to the axles in places where the water has lodged. In vain does the wagoner keep whipping or patting his strong well-fed horses, or clapping his broad shoulder to the miry wheels: all is of no avail; he must either go home for more horses, or bring half-a-dozen men from the farm to dig out his wagon. It's of no use grumbling, for perhaps his master is one of the surveyors of the highways.
The gorse, furze, whin, or 'fuzz'- country people sometimes calling it by the latter name-is often in flower all the year round, though the great golden-bellied baskets it hangs out in summer are now nearly closed, and of a pale yellowish green. Although its spikes are as sharp as spears, and there is no cutting out a golden branch without wearing thick gloves, still it is one of the most beautiful of our wayside shrubs, and we hardly wonder at Linnaeus falling on his knees in admiration the first time he saw it. Many a time have we cut a branch in January, put it in water, and placed it in a warm room, when in two or three days all its golden lamps have lighted up, and where it stood it seemed to 'make sunshine in the shady place.'
Where gorse grows abundantly, and bees have ready access to the bloom, there the finest-coloured and sweetest honey is produced. In a very mild season, we have seen, under sheltered hedges that face the south, the celandine in flower in January. Even when not in bloom, its large bright green leaves give a spring look to the barren embankments; but when out, its clear yellow star-shaped flowers catch the eye sooner than the primrose, through their deep golden hue. Country children call it the hedge buttercup, and their little hearts leap with delight when they see it springing up from among the dead leaves of winter.
The common red or dead nettle may also occasionally be found in flower. Let those who would throw it aside as an unsightly weed, examine the bloom through a glass, and they will be amazed at its extreme loveliness; such ruby tints as it shows, imbedded in the softest bloom, never graced the rounded arm of beauty. The blue periwinkle is another beautiful flower that diadems the brow of January when the season is warm. It must be looked for in sheltered situations, for it is not at all a common wild-flower: once seen, it can never be mistaken, for the twisted bud before opening resembles the blue convolvulus. Nor must the common chickweed be overlooked, with its chaste white star-shaped flowers, which shew as early as the snowdrops. The large broad-leaved mouse-ear chickweed flowers later, and will be sought for in vain in January, though it sheds its seed and flowers frequently six times during the summer. Many other flowers we might name, though they are more likely to be found in bloom next month.
Many rare birds visit us occasionally in winter, which never make their appearance on our island at any other season. Some are only seen once now and then in the course of several years, and how they find their way hither at all, so far from their natural haunts, is somewhat of a mystery. Many birds come late in the autumn, and take their departure early in spring. Others remain with us all the year round, as the thrush and blackbird, which often commence singing in January. Wrens, larks, and many other small birds never leave our country. Flocks of wild-geese and other water-fowl, also visit our reedy marshes and sheltered lakes in winter; far up the sky their wild cries may be heard in the silence of midnight, as they arrive. Rooks now return from the neighbouring woods, where they have mostly wintered, to their nest-trees; while the smaller birds, which drew near to our habitation during the depth of winter, begin to disappear. Those that require insect food, go and forage among the grass and bushes; others retreat to the sides of stagnant pools, where, during the brief intervals of sunshine, gnats are now found. Others hunt in old walls, or among decayed trees, where insects are hidden in a dormant state, or are snugly ensconced in their warm cocoons, awaiting the first warm touch of spring, when, in the words of Solomon, 'the flowers appear on the earth . . and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.'
HISTORY OF JANUARY
It is very appropriate that this should be the first month of the year, as far as the northern hemisphere is concerned; since, its beginning being near the winter solstice, the year is thus made to present a complete series of the seasonal changes and operations, including equally the first movements of spring, and the death of all annual vegetation in the frozen arms of winter. Yet the earliest calendars, as the Jewish, the Egyptian, and Greek, did not place the commencement of the year at this point. It was not done till the formation of the Roman calendar, usually attributed to the second king, Numa Pompilius, whose reign is set down as terminating anno 672 B.C. Numa, it is said, having decreed that the year should commence now, added two new months to the ten into which the year had previously been divided, calling the first Januarius, in honour of Janus, the deity supposed to preside over doors (Lat. janua, a door), who might very naturally be presumed also to have something to do with the opening of the year.
Although, however, there was a general popular regard to the 1st of January as the beginning of the year, the ancient Jewish year, which opened with the 25th of March, continued long to have a legal position in Christian countries. In England, it was not till 1752 that the 1st of January became the initial day of the legal, as it had long been of the popular year. Before that time, it was customary to set down dates between the 1st of January and the 24th of March inclusive, thus: January 30th, 1648-9: meaning, that popularly the year was 1649, but legally 1648. In Scotland, this desirable change was made by a decree of James VI in privy council, in the year 1600. It was effected in France in 1564; in Holland, Protestant Germany, and Russia, in 1700; and in Sweden in 1753.
According to Verstegan, in his curious book The Restitution of Decayed Intelligence (4 to, 1628), our Saxon ancestors originally called this month Wolf montt- that is, Wolf-month-' because people were wont always in that month to be more in danger to be devoured of wolves than in any season else of the year, for that, through the extremity of cold and snow, those ravenous creatures could not find beasts sufficient to feed upon.' Subsequently, the month was named by the same people Aefter-Yule-that is, After Christmas. It is rather odd that we should have abandoned the Saxon names of the months, while retaining those of the days of the week.
CHARACTERISTICS OF JANUARY
The deity Janus was represented by the Romans as a man with two faces, one looking backwards, the other forwards, implying that he stood between the old and the new year, with a regard to both. To this circumstance the English poet Cotton alludes in the following lines:
Hark, the cock crows, and yon bright star
Tells us, the day himself's not far;
And see where, breaking from the night,
He gilds the western hills with light.
With him old Janus sloth appear,
Peeping into the future year,
With such a look as seems to say,
The prospect is not good that way.
Thus do we rise ill sights to see,
And 'gainst ourselves to prophesy;
When the prophetic fear of things
A more tormenting mischief brings,
More full of soul-tormenting gall
Than direst mischiefs can befall.
But stay! but stay! Methinks my sight,
Better informed by clearer light,
Discerns sereneness in that brow,
That all contracted seemed but now.
His reversed face may shew distaste,
And frown upon the ills are past;
But that which this way looks is clear,
And smiles upon the new-born year.
In the quaint drawings which illuminate the Catholic missals in the middle ages, January is represented by 'the figure of a man clad in white, as the type of the snow usually on the ground at that season, and blowing on his fingers as descriptive of the cold; under his left arm he holds a billet of wood, and near him stands the figure of the sign Aquarius, into which watery emblem in the zodiac the sun enters on the 19th of this month.'-Brady.
January is notedly, in our northern hemisphere, the coldest month in the year. The country people in England state the fact in their usual strong way:
Janiveer Freeze the pot upon the fier.
They even insist that the cold rather increases than decreases during the course of the month, notwithstanding the return of the sun from the Tropic of Capricorn, remarking:
As the day lengthens, The cold strengthens:
or, as it is given in Germany, where the same idea prevails:
Wenn die Tage beginnen zu langen,
Dann komrn erst der Winter gegangen
the fact being, we suppose, that it only does so in some instances, while those of an opposite character pass unnoticed.
In the middle of the month, the sun at London is only 8h. 20m., at Edinburgh, 7h. 34m., above the horizon. There is a liability to severe and lasting frosts, and to heavy falls of snow. Vegetation lies dead, and it is usually 'sore times' for the animal creation; the farmer has his bestial, including the sheep, if he keeps any, much upon his hands for artificial supplies. The birds of the field and wood, reduced to great extremities, come nearer to the residences of men, in the hope of picking up a little food. The robin is especially remarkable for this forced familiarity. In unusually severe seasons, many birds perish of cold and hunger, and consequently, when the spring comes on, there is a marked diminution of that burst of sylvan song which usually makes the season so cheerful.
When frost occurs without a snow-fall-what is called in the north a black frost-the ground, wholly without protection, becomes hard for several inches deep. In Canada, it is sometimes frozen three feet down, so that any sort of building not founded considerably deeper, is sure to be dislodged at the next thaw. Even a macadamised road will be broken up and wholly ruined from this cause. In our country, and on the continent of Europe, a snowless frost gives the means of several amusements, which the rural people are enabled with good conscience to indulge in, as being thrown off from all more serious employments by the state of the ground.
Now in the Netherlands, and where the Rhine
Branched out in many a long canal, extends,
From every province swarming, void of care,
Batavia rushes forth; and as they sweep,
On sounding skates, a thousand different ways
In circling poise, swift as the winds along,
The then gay land is maddened all to joy.
Nor less the northern courts, wide o'er the snow,
Pour a new pomp. Eager, on rapid sleds,
Their vigorous youth in bold contention wheel
The long-resounding course. Meantime to raise
The manly strife, with highly blooming charms
Flushed by the season, Scandinavia's dames,
Or Russia's buxom daughters, glow around.'
In Holland, the peasantry, male and female, take advantage of the state of the waters to come to market on skates, often bearing most part of a hundredweight on their heads; yet proceeding at the rate of ten miles an hour for two or three hours at a stretch.
In England, skating is on such. occasions a favourite amusement; nor do the boys fail to improve the time by forming slides on lake, on pond, yea, even on the public highways, notwithstanding the frowns of old gentlemen and the threatenings of policemen. All of these amusements prevail during dry frost in Scotland, with one more, as yet little known in the south. It bears the name of Curling, and very much resembles bowls in its general arrangements, only with the specialty of fiat stones to slide along the ice, instead of bowls to roll along the grass. Two parties are ranged in contention against each other, each man provided with a pair of handled stones and a broom, and having crampets on his feet to enable him to take a firm hold of the glassy surface. They play against each other, to have as many stones as possible lying near a fixed point, or tee, at the end of the course.
When a player happens to impel his stone weakly, his associates sweep before it to favour its advance. A skip, or leader, stands at the tee, broom in hand, to guide the players of his party as to what they should attempt; whether to try to get through a certain open channel amongst the cluster of stones guarding the tee, or perhaps to come smashing among them, in the hope of producing rearrangements more favourable to his side. Incessant vociferation, frequent changes of fortune, the excitation of a healthy physical exercise, and the general feeling of socialty evoked, all contribute to render curling one of the most delightful of amusements. It is further remarkable that, in a small community, the curling rink is usually surrounded by persons of all classes-the laird, the minister, and the provost, being all hail-fellow-well-met on this occasion with the tailors, shoemakers, and weavers, who at other times never meet them without a reverent vailing of the beaver. Very often a plain dinner of boiled beef with greens concludes the merry-meeting. There is a Caledonian Curling Club in Scotland, embracing the highest names in the land, and having scores of provincial societies affiliated to it. They possess an artificial pond in Strathallan, near the line of the Scottish Central Railway, and thither sometimes converge for one days contention representatives from clubs scattered over fully a hundred and fifty miles of country.
When the low temperature of January is attended with a heavy snow-fall, as it often is, the ground receives a certain degree of protection, and is so far benefited for tillage in spring. But a load of snow is also productive of many serious inconveniences and dangers, and to none more than to the farmer, especially if he be at all concerned in store-farming. In Scotland, once every few years, there is a snow-fall of considerable depth, threatening entire destruction to sheep-stock. On one such occasion, in 1795, the snow was drifted in some hollows of the hills to the depth of a hundred feet. In 1772, there was a similar fall. At such times, the shepherd is ex-posed to frightful hardships and dangers, in trying to rescue some part of his charge. James Hogg tells us that, in the first-mentioned of these storms, seventeen shepherds perished in the southern district of Scotland, besides about thirty who, carried home insensible, were with difficulty recovered. At the same time, many farmers lost hundreds of their sheep.
For the uninstructed mind, the fall of snow is a very common-place affair. To the thoughtless schoolboy, making up a handful of it into a missile, wherewith to surprise his friend passing on the other side of the way; to the labouring man plodding his way through it with pain and difficulty; to the agriculturist, who hails it as a comfortable wrappage for the ground during a portion of the dead season of the year, it is but a white cold substance, and nothing more. Even the eye of weather-wisdom could but distinguish that snow sometimes fell in broad flakes, and sometimes was of a powdery consistence; peculiarities from which certain inferences were drawn as to the severity and probable length of the storm. In the view of modern science, under favour of the microscope, snow is one of the most beautiful things in the museum of nature; each particle, when duly magnified, shewing a surprising regularity of figure, but various ac-cording to the degree of frost by which the snow has been produced. In the Book of Job, 'the treasures of the snow' are spoken of; and after one has seen the particles in this way, he is fully disposed to allow the justice of the expression.
The indefatigable Arctic voyager, Scoresby, was the first to observe the forms of snow particles, and for a time it was supposed that they assumed these remarkable figures in the polar regions alone. It was, however, ascertained by Mr. James Glaisher, secretary of the British Meteorological Society, that, in the cold weather which marked the beginning of 1855, the same and even more complicated figures were presented in England.
In consistence, a snow particle is laminar, or flaky, and it is when we look at it in its breadth that the figure appears. With certain exceptions, which probably will be in time explained away, the figure is stellar-a star of six arms or points, forming of course angles of 60 degrees. And sometimes the figure is composed merely of six spiculae meeting at a point in this regular way. It more frequently happens, however, that the spiculae arms of the figure are feathered with other and smaller spiculae, all meeting their respective stems at an angle of 60 degrees, or loaded with hexagonal prisms, all of which have of course the same angles. It is in obedience to a law governing the crystallisation of water, that this angle of 60 degrees everywhere prevails in the figures of snow particles, with the slight and probably only apparent exceptions which have been alluded to. But while there is thus a unity in the presiding law, the results are of infinite variety, probably no two particles being ever precisely alike. It is to be observed that there is a tendency to one style of figure at any particular time of a snow-fall, in obedience to the degree of the temperature or some other condition of the atmosphere; yet within the range of this style, or general character, the minute differences may be described as end-less. A very complicated form will even go through a series of minor changes as it melts on the object-glass of the observer; passing from themore complicated to the less, till it ends, perhaps, as a simple star of six points, just before becoming water.
The engraving on the preceding page represents a selection of figures from ninety-six given by Dr. Scoresby in his work on the Arctic Regions. It includes, as will be observed, certain triangular and other figures of apparently exceptional character. In a brochure issued by Mr. Glaisher, and quoted below,' a hundred and fifty-one figures are presented, many of them paragons of geometrical beauty, and all calculated further to illustrate this interesting subject.
PROVERBS REGARDING JANUARY
If the grass grows in Janiveer,
It grows the worse for 't all the year.
A January spring Is worth naething.
Under water dearth, ow bread.
March in Janiveer,
January in March, I fear
If January calends be summerly gay,
'Twill be winterly weather till the calends of May.
The blackest month in all the year
Is the month of Janiveer.