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'Beauties of Nature,' as an appropriate close to this INTRODUCTION*.
The beauties of nature are open to all, and may be relished and enjoyed by all. A taste for them is highly desirable, and we should cherish it as the source of real pleasure. The scenes of nature (as it is observed by a good writer) contribute powerfully to inspire that serenity which heightens their beauties, and is necessary to our full enjoyment of them. By a secret sympathy, the soul catches the harmony which she contemplates; and the frame within assimilates itself to that without. In this state of sweet composure we become susceptible of virtuous impressions from almost every surrounding object. The patient ox is viewed with generous complacency; the guileless sheep with pity; and the playful lamb with emotions of tenderness and love. We rejoice with the horse in his liberty and exemption from toil, while he ranges at large through enamelled pastures. We are charmed with the songs of birds, soothed with the buzz of insects, and pleased with the sportive motions of fishes, because these are expressions of enjoyment; and, having felt a common interest in the gratifications of inferior beings, we shall be no longer indifferent to their sufferings, or become wantonly instrumental in producing them.
But the taste for natural beauty is subservient to higher purposes than those which have been enumerated. The cultivation of it not only refines and humanizes, but dignifies and exalts the affections.
* In writing this Introduction, we have to acknowledge the assistance we have received from Dr. SHAW's Zoological Lectures,' the Rev. Mr. Bingley's Animal Biography, and Mr. M'Quin's Description of Three Hundred Animals.' The Zoological Lectures' deserve to be generally read, and form an admirable introduction to the larger work, entitled 'GENERAL ZOOLOGY,' which is unequalled for the elaborate fidelity of its descriptions, and the beauty and accuracy of the plates with which it is embellished.
It elevates them to the admiration and love of that Being, who is the author of all that is fair, sublime, or good in the creation. Scepticism and irreligion are hardly compatible with the sensibility of heart which arises from a just and lively relish of the wisdom, harmony, and order subsisting in the world around us. Emotions of piety must spring up spontaneously in the bosom that is in unison with all animated nature. Actuated by this beneficial and divine inspiration, man finds a fane in every grove; and, glowing with devout fervour, he joins his song to the universal chorus, or muses the praise of the Almighty in more expressive silence!-Of such a man it may be said with the poet, that
He suits to Nature's reign th' inquiring eye,
From Matter's mode through Instinct's narrow sway,
Hence even the meanest points of Nature's care
These hold ten thousand wonders to the sight,
DR. L. BROWN.
At one wide view God's eye surveys
And strows with flowers the smiling meads;
Then AUTUMN, who with lavish stores the lap of nature spreads;
(Like feeble age oppressed with pain)
THE name given to this month by the Romans was
taken from Janus, one of their divinities, to whom they gave two faces; because on the one side, the first day of this month looked towards the new year, and on the other towards the old one. It was called wolf-monat by our Saxon ancestors, on account of the danger they then experienced from wolves.
On this day is celebrated the Circumcision of our Saviour, a rite of the Jewish law, first enjoined to Abraham as a token of the covenant God made with him and his posterity.
Hark! the merry bells ring round
With clamorous joy to welcome in this day,
This consecrated day
To mirth and indolence.
The antient custom of going about with the wassail, a bowl of spiced ale,' is yet retained in many places. The composition was ale, nutmeg, sugar, toast, and roasted crabs or apples, and was called lamb's wool. The ceremonies observed on New Year's Day, in France, are described at length in T. T. for 1815, p. 2.
On the Epiphany or manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, commonly called Twelfth-day, the Eastern magi were guided by the star to pay homage to their Saviour; and it takes its name from their coming on that day, which was the twelfth after the nativity. The usual celebration of Twelfth-day, in the metropolis and in the south of England, is by drawing lots, and assuming fictitious characters for the evening :formerly the king or queen was chosen by a bean found in a piece of divided cake; and this was once a common Christmas gambol in both the English Uni¬ versities. The day after Twelfth-day was called St. Distaff's-day. The customs in France, and at Rome, on this day, are noticed in T. T. for 1815, p. 6.
8. SAINT LUCIAN.
Saint Lucian, confessor and martyr, was born at Samosata in Syria. He was well versed in the Hebrew language, and employed much time in comparing and amending the copies of the Bible. Lucian was put to death by Maximinus II.
*9. 1806.-FUNERAL OF NELSON.
I saw the streets when NELSON died:
A nation's grief bedewed his grave;
Devotion mourned him as her own;
He feared th' OMNIPOTENT alone!
O! how it soothed the Hero's shade,
Though weeping still at Trafalgar,