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cated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and was a man equally distinguished for his benevolence and liberality, as for his wit and metaphysical acuteness of intellect, and a prodigious store of classical and general knowledge. From choosing, however, to live a life of celibate retirement, he acquired some of those eccentricities of character, which most learned men are apt to fall into when secluded from the world. See Gent. Mag. vol. Ixxv. p. 1177.
Coelum.— Winter may be now considered as having set in; and it often happens that we have violent Winds about this time, which sweep off the few remaining leaves from the trees, and, with the exception of a few Oaks and Beeches, leave the Woods and Forests nothing but a naked assemblage of bare boughs. December thus robbing the Woods of their leafy honours, is thus alluded to by Horace, in his Epod. xi. :
Hic tertius December, ex quo destiti
Winter's delights ought not to be passed over in silence, while here we are describing some of its roughest weather, since this Season is often erroneously depicted as being almost devoid of charms. Millions of poets and novelists have descanted on the delights of blooming Spring, and have described the pleasure of cooling shades in Summer, and of the fruits or the sports of mellow and glowing Autumn; but Winter's comforts are almost unsung and unheeded. Picture to yourself, however, gentle reader, one of those blustering nights which we often have at this time of year, when a tremendous gale from south west, with rattling rain, threatens almost the demolition of every thing in its way: but add to the scene the inside of a snug and secure Cottage in the Country, the day is closed, the fire made up and blazing, the curtains drawn over a barricadoing of window shutters which defy the penetration of Aeolus and all his excarcerated host; the table is set for Tea, and the hissing Urn or the Kettle is scarce heard among the fierce whistling, howling, and roaring produced alternately or together by almost every species of sound that wind can produce in the chimneys and door crannies of the house. There is a feeling of comfort, and a sensibility to the blessings of a good roof over one's head, and a warm and comfortable hearth, while all is tempest without, that produces a peculiar but real source of pleasure. A cheerful but quiet party adds, in no small degree, to this pleasure. Two or three literary friends sitting up over a good fire to a late hour, smoking, perhaps, and interchanging their
thoughts on a thousand subjects of mystery,--the stories of Ghosts - and the tales of olden times, - may perhaps beguile the hours of a stormy night such as we have described, with more satisfaction than they could a Midsummer evening under the shade of trees in a garden of Roses and Lilies. And then, when we retire to bed in a room with thick woollen curtains closely drawn, and a fire in the room, how sweet a Lullaby is the piping of the Gale down the flues, and the peppering of the Rain on the tiles and windows; while we are now and then rocked in the house as if in a cradle !
We cannot say so much for the scene of devastation which appears in the morning, when, taking our rounds to see what mischief has been done in the night, a display of levelled Palings, broken Chimney Pots, Plants torn up by the roots, and the giant limbs of prostrate and huge Trees on the ground, present to us a melange of things in ruin which can hardly be described. The Sturdy Oak is seldom blown up: it withstands the tremendous gales which beat the Poplar, the Cedar, or the tall Elm to the earth, and reminds us of an allusion to its giant strength, in the late Percy Bysshe Shelley's Lines to Science, where he supposes her beguiled into the power of Priestcraft in the middle ages by the beauty of Christianity, but possessing innate strength enough to weather the Storm :
O Science! fairest of Heaven's officers,
To spread new trophy leaves to Summer Suns. We cannot praise Mr. Shelley's Poetry for its versification, but his imagery is always splendid, and his style bold. The fate of Galileo incarcerated by mistaken zealots for propagating scientific truth, illustrates our Poet's apparent meaning
December 3. St. Francis Xavier Apostle of the Indies
Confessor. St. Birinus Bishop and Confessor. St. Sola Hermit. St. Lucius King and Confessor.
St. Francis Xavier, the great apostle of the East, was styled the Thaumaturgus of the Sixteenth age, from the number of Miracles which he wrought, and the number of Converts which he made to Christianity. In 1534, on the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, and six others, formed the resolution of visiting the Holy Land, which they accomplished on foot. See Butler's Lives, xii. 21.
Neptuno et Minerdae.-Rom. Cal.
Coelum.-- Wintery appearances now every where present themselves : nearly all the leaves are fallen, and the country appears quite bare. But Winter, as we have before observed, has its peculiar pleasures, and, in its turn, forms a pleasant change; for though the woods are leafless, with a few exceptions of those trees which do not cast their dead leaves till Spring, yet there are many evergreens in groves and hedges, and these have splendid berries, which glitter and enliven a bright day. Bishop Berkeley has observed, and with great truth, that fields, groves, and meadows are no where in such perfection as in England : and it is a remark of Charles II. that a gentleman may walk out oftener, and with much greater comfort, in England, than in any other country of Europe.
Some lines written on the first of December, by Mr. Southey, pleasingly discover the characteristic beauties of Winter:
Though now no more the musing ear
I love thee, Winter! well.
The manycoloured grove.
Not undelightful now to roam,
The forest's ample rounds,
And see the spangled branches shine,
Or o'er the grey stone spreads.
Clasps its full foliage close. Relig10.–Of the Rosary and the Use of Beads.—The use of Beads to count prayers with is very ancient, and seems first to have been practised by those who led an eremetical life. That the early Hermits and Anchorets used small stones and grains of sand to count their prayers, appears clear from many ancient writers. See Butler's Lives, vol. x. p. 22, note; and Benedict. Canoniz. ii. c. 10. n. 11. Those who could neither read nor write, could say a certain number of prayers in canonical hours; and these were counted by a separation of the beads on a string, corresponding in number to the prayers said. The practice is not by any means gone out of use, and has been reviving ever since the restoration of Christianity on the Continent, as we have had occasion to remark in France. We noticed an old Catholic counting his prayers by his beads, at Mant in Normandy, only last September: and this sort of systematic devotion seems on the increase.
December 4. St. Peter Chrysologus Bishop and Con
fessor. St. Barbara Virgin and Martyr. St. Anno Bishop and Confessor. St. Osmund Bishop and Confessor. St. Maruthas Bishop and Confessor.
St. Siran Abbot and Confessor. St. Clement of Alexandria Father of the Church.
December's Festivities and Amusements. - It seems that even before the Birth of Jesus Christ was celebrated in December, our pagan ancestors regarded that month as one when festivity, sports, and pastimes were to make up for the dreariness of the weather of this season of leisure.
Age, libertate Decembri,
See also our accounts of the Faunalia, Brumalia, and of Christmas.
FAUNA.-In this month those wild animals which pass the winter in a state of torpidity, retire to their hiding places. The Frog, Lizard, Badger, and Hedgehog, which burrow under the earth, belong to this class; as also the Bat, which is found in caverns, barns, and holes, suspended by the claws of its hind feet, and closely enveloped in the membranes of the fore feet. Dormice, Squirrels, Water Rats, and Field Mice, provide a large stock of food for the winter season.
On every sunny day through the winter, clouds of insects, usually called Gnats, both Tipulae and Empedes, appear sporting and dancing over the tops of evergreen trees in shrubberies; and they are seen playing up and down in the air, even when the ground is covered with snow. At night, and in frosty weather, or when it rains and blows, they appear to take shelter in the trees.
December 5. St. Sabas Abbot. St. Crispini Martyr.
St. Nicetius Bishop and Confessor.
NONAE. Faunalia.-Porph. Rom. Cal. Some difference of opinion has prevailed respecting the period of the Faunalia in Ancient Rome. It has been questioned whether they took place February 13th, or this day. The fact is, that there was a Festival of Faunus celebrated on the Ides of February. See our page 59. But the Faunalia, by much the most important feasts, were celebrated on the Nones of December. Thus Horace, in his Ode to Faunus, Carm. lib. iii. Od. 18, observes :
Larga nec desunt Veneris sodali
Cùm tibi Nonae redeunt Decembris.
Idubus agrestis fumant altaria Fauni.
Faunus was originally a son of Picus, who is said to have reigned in Italy about 1300 years before the Birth of Jesus Christ. His bravery as well as wisdom have given