vol II date / index
The Dedication of the Churches of Sts. Peter, and Paul, at Rome. Sts. Alphæus, and Zachæus; also Romanus, and Barulas. St. Odo, Abbot of Cluni, A. D. 942. St. Hilda, or Hild, Abbess, A. D. 680.
The "Mirror of the Months," a pleasing volume published in the autumn of 1825, and devoted to the service of the year, points to the appearance of nature at this time:—"The last storm of autumn, or the first of winter, (call it which you will) has strewed the bosom of the all-receiving earth with the few leaves that were still clinging, though dead, to the already sapless branches; and now all stand bare once more, spreading out their innumerable ramifications against the cold grey sky, as if sketched there for a study by the pencil of your only successful drawing-mistress—nature.
"Of all the numerous changes that are perpetually taking place in the general appearance of rural scenery during the year, there is none so striking as this which is attendant on the falling of the leaves; and there is none in which the unpleasing effects so greatly predominate over the pleasing ones. To say truth, a grove denuded of its late gorgeous attire, and instead of bowing majestically before the winds, standing erect and motionless while they are blowing through it, is 'a sorry sight,' and one upon which we will not dwell. But even this sad consequence of the coming on of winter (sad in most of its mere visible effects,) is not entirely without redeeming accompaniments; for in most cases it lays open to our view objects that we are glad to see again, if it be but in virture of their association with past years; and in many cases it opens vistas into sweet distances that we had almost forgotten, and brings into view objects that we may have been sighing for the sight of all the summer long. Suppose, for example, that the summer view from windows of a favourite sleeping-room is bounded by a screen of shrubs, shelving upwards from the turf, and terminating in a little copse of limes, beeches, and sycamores; the prettiest boundary that can greet the morning glance when the shutters are opened, and the sun slants gaily in at them, as if glad to be again admitted. How pleasant is it, when (as now) the winds of winter have stripped the branches that thus bound our view in, to spy beyond them, as if through network, the sky-pointing spire of the distant village church, rising from behind the old yew tree that darkens its portal; and the trim parsonage beside it, its ivy-grown windows glittering perhaps in the early sun! Oh, none but those who will see the good that is in every thing, know how very few evils there are without some of it attendant on them, and yet how much of good there is unmixed with any evil.
"But though the least pleasant sight connected with the coming on of winter in this month is to see the leaves that have so gladdened the groves all the summer long, falling every where around us, withered and dead,—that sight is accompanied by another which is too often overlooked. Though most of the leaves fall in winter, and the stems and branches which they beautified stand bare, many of them remain all the year round, and look brighter and fresher now than they did in spring, in virtue of the contrasts that are every where about them. Indeed the cultivation of evergreens has become so general with us of late years, that the home enclosures about our country dwellings, from the proudest down to even the poorest, are seldom to be seen without a plentiful supply, which we now, in this month, first begin to observe, and acknowledge the value of. It must be a poor plot of garden-ground indeed that does not now boast its clumps of winter-blowing laurestinus; its trim holly bushes, bright with their scarlet berries; or its tall spruce firs, shooting up their pyramid of feathery branches beside the low ivy-grown porch. Of this last-named profuse ornamentor of whatever is permitted to afford it support, (the ivy) we now too every where perceive the beautifully picturesque effects: though there is one effect of it also perceived about this time, which I cannot persuade myself to be reconciled to: I mean where the trunk of a tall tree is bound about with ivy almost to its top, which during the summer has scarcely been distinguished as a separate growth, but which now, when the other leaves are fallen, and the outspread branches stand bare, offers to the eye, not a contrast, but a contradiction. But let us not dwell on any thing in disfavour of ivy, which is one of the prime boasts of the village scenery of our island, and which even at this season of the year offers pictures to the eye that cannot be paralleled elsewhere. Perhaps as a single object of sight, there is nothing which gives so much innocent pleasure to so many persons as an English village church, when the ivy has held undisputed possession of it for many years, and has hung its fantastic banners all around it. There is a charm about an object of this kind, which it is as difficult to resist as to explain."
Curly Passion-flower. Passiflora serrata.
Dedicated to the Churches of Sts. Peter and Paul.