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CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.

A Bank of Flowers is certainly one of the most gorgeous sights beneath the sun; but what is it to that Board of Books? Our old eyes are dazzled with the splendour, and are forced to seek relief and repose on the mild moreen of those window curtains, whose drapery descends as simply as the garb of a modest quakeress. Even then all the colours of the rainbow continue dancing on their orbs, and will permit them to see nothing in its true light. But now the optical spectra evanish-our sight becomes reconciled to the various glitter-the too powerful blaze seems tamed down-the lustre of the hues subside, and we can bear, without winking, or placing our fingers before our face, to keep a steady gaze on the bright confusion. Why, Book-binding has become a beautiful art! Chance it was that flung together all those duodecimos, post-octavos, quartos, and folios, of kid, calf, silk, satin, velvet, russia, morocco,-white, grey, green, blue, yellow, violet, red, scarlet, crimson-yet what painter, with the most glorious eye for colour, ever with laborious study, cheered by fits of sudden inspiration, pictured a board of fruits, although worthy of the trees of Paradise, of more multifarious splendour?

Lovers are we and have been all our life long, of charming, of divine Simplicity. But Simplicity is a lady, not only of fine taste, but, would you believe it, of rich imagination? Often have we seen her gazing with rapt spirit and tearful eyes on the setting sun, on the sea, on cataracts, on regiments of cavalry, on an English county of groves, woods, gardens, orchards, rivers, plains, noblemen's and gentlemen's old family-mansions, steeple-towers, churches, abbeys, cathedrals. We have seen Simplicity, like a nun at worship, reading Isaiah, and Homer, and Dante, and Ariosto, and Tasso, and Shakspeare, and Milton, and MAGA. Simplicity loves all the riches and splendour of the east and of the west, the north and the south. Her hair she loves not to adorn with many diamonds-one single solitary jewel on her forehead, like a star. But pale pearls are here and there interspersed among her locks, at once softening and deepening their

darkness; they lie like dew-drops or buds of white roses, along the lilies of her breast; with pearls of great price is her virgin zone bespangled-and, as she lifts her snow-white hand, there is a twinkle of radiance from a stone that "would ransom great kings from captivity!"

You understand, then, that there is no reason in the world, or in the nature of things, why Simplicity should not stand with her arm in ours, leaning lovingly on our shoulder-pressing fondly on our side-and admire with us the mild, meek, soft, gentle, tender, dim, dazzling, bold, fierce, fiery, coruscating, cometary, planetary, lunar, solar, aurora borealis and lightning-like radiance of that Sea-green Board, mad with the magnificence of that myriad-minded multitude of—

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.

But let Simplicity by and by turn her eyes towards that opening doorfor footsteps are on the stair-and like Houris they are coming--all dressed in white raiment, as befits and bespeaks their innocence-a Chosen Band of Maidens, to receive from the hands of good old Father Christopher-each an appropriate volume or volumes to add to her little library, growing by degrees, year after year, like a garden that the skilful florist extends with its sloping banks towards the sunny south, each spring visiting a rarer, richer show of her own fairest and most favourite flowers.

We are not a married man, like the writer of Christmas dreams-yet dearly do we love the young-yea the young of all animals-the young swallows twittering from their straw-built shed-the young lambs bleating on the lea-the young bees, God bless them, on their first flight away off to the heather-the young butterflies, who, born in the morning, will die of old age ere night-the young salmon-fry glorying in the gravel at the first feeling of their fins-the young adders basking, ere they can bite, in the sun, as yet unconscious, like sucking satirists, of their stings-young pigs, pretty dears, all a-squeak with their curled tails after prolific grumphy-young lions and tigers, charming cubs, like very Christian children nuzzling in their nurse's breast-young devils-if

you will-ere Satan has sent them to Sin, who keeps a fashionable boarding-school in Hades, and sends up into the world above-ground only her finished scholars.

But lo! North's Fair Family-all children of his old age! Yes, the offspring they of his dearest-his chosen

his faithful- his bosom-friends! There, daughters of delight-there is a shower of kisses to bedew the beloved heads of you all-and now be seated in a circle-look all as grave as you possibly can for those struggling smiles-no quizzing of our new Christmas wig-and first, and before we begin to distribute,

"Pure healthy children of the God of Heaven,"

a smile Emily Callander received his volumes-works we were going to say -but that is too prodigious a word for such effusions-and one smile from her will to him be worth all the chaff and chatter of all the critics in Cockaigne.

Emily Callander- oldest of the young and tallest too-for, in truth, thou art as a cedar-for thee have we selected Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life, The Trials of Margaret Lyndsay, and The Foresters. The first is bound as thy sweet eyes see—in variegated silk-too ornamental as some might haply think-but not so thou -for thou knowest that the barest field in all Scotland is not without its little flowers-daisies, and gowans, and clover, and primroses in their short vernal day—and that her richest fields are all a glow as at evening the western heavens. Margaret Lyndsay, you see, my love, is bound in satin--but not of the richest sort-the colour is something quakerish-but we know you like that and the narrow ornaments round the sides you will find to be either flowers or stars-for, in truth, flowers and stars are not dissimilar

- for they both have rays- but dew brightens the one while the other it bedims into beauty. The Foresters are bound in green linen-and these yellow trees, emblazoned upon such a ground, as if autumn had tinted them, have a good effect-have they not?-So, sweetest and best-a kiss of thy forehead-sure a more graceful curtsy was never seen-and it will make the author, who is my very dear friend-whom I love more than I venture to express, and whom I have, on that account, placed foremost now-and not for his mere merits-proud and happy, too, to be told with what

can

Margaret Wilson !-thou rising star let thine arms drop from around the necks of these two sweet supporters, and come gliding forth within touch of the old man, that he may lay his withered hand upon the lovely lustre of thy soft-braided hair. There-hold them fast to your bosom-and let not one of all the Five slip from your embracing arms. Wordsworth's works! You remember-and never will forget -the mountains at the head of Windermere behind whose peaked sum

in your hearts as in ours, let there be mits the sun sets-and Elleray-but
a short silent prayer.
Now for business.

why that haze within those eyes?-
"A few natural tears thou sheddest,
but wipest them soon"-at the sudden
sound of that spell-like home-so
let that key remain untouched-ay,
there is thy bosom all filled with
poetry! with poetry often-"not
of this noisy world, but silent and
divine," with happy hymns for sun-
shine, and mournful elegies for moon-
light-with lyrics that might be set
to such music as the lark sings high
in heaven-with odes that might be
fitly chanted to the softened voice of
the waterfall-with ballads such as
Bessy Bell or Mary Gray might have
sung "in their bower on yonder
green," -or Helen Irvine, as she "sat
upon the banks of Kirtle,"-
-or thou
thyself, sweeter singer than them all,
when willing as I have seen thee-
to charm with change thy father's ear,
after the Bride's Maids' Chorus. But
thou hast wept for Ruth-and for
Emmeline-and for that lovely crea-
ture,

"Her mute companion, as it lay
In love and pity at her feet-

And I have seen thee shiver with delight, in the beauty of the sudden apparition, when

"Came gliding in with lovely gleam,
Came gliding in serene and slow,
Soft and silent as a dream,
That solitary Doe !"

Yes-thou mayest, unblamed, place such poetry on the very same shelf, Margaret, with thy Bible; for the word of God itself is better understood by hearts softened and sublimed by

strains inspired into the souls of great Poets by devoutest contemplation of his works. Therefore, child,

"With gentle hand

Touch, for there is a spirit in the leaves !"

Fanny Allardice-do not make me fall in love with envious eyes, by looking so on Margaret's bosom-full of beautiful books-bound as they are in crimson-for that is the light of setting suns; and although William Wordsworth be often but as a lowly pastoral poet piping in the shade, yet as often is he like the blind John Milton, who sung in his glorious darkness of Paradise-and the Courts of Heaven. For here, for thee, my pensive Frances, are the Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, in five volumes, presented to me by my friend Mr. Pickering of London-and he will not be displeased with me for transferring them to the love of one who is in good truth "like the heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb." You will find much-and many things in the Fairy Queen, that even your almost fully expanded intellect and imagination will not yet understand yet little, and few things that your heart nevertheless will not feel-and not the less touchingly, because love will be mixed with wonder, and pity given to what is at once sorrowful and strange. You have already read the Comus of Milton-and love and admire-and would wish to kneel down at her feet-the Lady whose spotless innocence preserves her from the fiends of that haunted wood. She and the Una of the Fairy Queen might be sisters; nor, were such creatures as they ever to walk over our earth, could they turn away their gracious and benignant smiles from such a maiden as thou art for thou too art without spot or blemish-nor could force nor fraud prevail against thee; for, true it is as words of holy writ, that "a thousand liveried angels lacquey thee," and that vice and wickedness could not live in an atmosphere purified by the breath of innocence from such lips as thine !

Harriet Brisbane-thou hast a heroic spirit-yet a heart formed for peace. And thou lookest, with that fine, high, bold brow of thine,-yet perfectly feminine, and with those large hazel eyes, so mild, yet magnanimous, and that mass of nearly black hair, VOL. XXIII.

that, but for the Christmas roses round it, would seem almost sullenat least most melancholy,-thou lookest, we say, like what thou indeed art, a true descendant of now beatified spirits, who, in the old days of persecution, sang hymns of rejoicing when tied to the stake, and their bodies shrivelling in the fire. Dear Virgin martyr! take and keep for our sake, the exquisite Roman tale of Valerius. There you will read how one, whom I could fancy like thy very self, in face, figure, and character, a virgin named Athanasia, touched at the soul by the religion of Jesus, did disencumber herself of all the beautiful and imaginative vanities of the old Mythological faith, and, fearless of the pitchy fire, and of the ravening lion, did fold the cross unto her bosom, and became transfigured from Innocence into Piety. The tale will not make these calm eyes of thine shed many, if any tears; but ever and anon, as they follow the fortunes of her who hath forsaken the service of Idols and false Deities, to become a Priestess of the only One, Living, and True God, they will be uplifted "in thoughts that lie too deep for tears"slowly and solemnly, and most beautifully-to the Heaven of Heavens! Thou, too, take-thou high-souled daughter of a high-souled sire-this other book, bound in brightest scarlet -for you have heard, that a blind man once said, that he conceived scarlet to be like the sound of a trumpet,-and all emblazoned with the arms of adverse nations, Specimens of Spanish Ballads, celebrating the exploits of the Campeador, and other heroes, against the Saracens ; and all the high and wild warfare that, for centuries, made the rivers run red with mingled Castilian and Moorish blood. The old Spanish Ballads are like fragments of fine bold martial music, in their own tongue; but Mr. Lockhart is a poet "of strength and state;" and in his noble verses, your eyes dazzle at the brightness of the Spanish sword, tempered in the Ebro, and can scarce endure the flashing of the Moorish scymitar. You read his ballads in the same mood of mind with which you hear the music-band of a regiment of cavalry-say the Scots Greys-hundreds of heroes following on-on-on

with their glittering casques, and each with a sabre, erst red perchance at Waterloo, in his strong right hand.

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in which people are buried. For it is only to the bad that dreadful ghosts appear, sometimes, it is said, driving them mad by glaring on them with their eyes, and pointing to wounds all streaming with blood, in their side or breast; but the ghosts that glide before the eyes of the good, whether they are shut in sleep, or open in what we call a waking dream, are the gentlest beings that ever walked beneath the light of the moon and stars-and it would make your heart to sing within you, were your eyes to fall on their faces-pale though they might be-as upon the faces of angels, who were once Christians on earth, sent to bless the slumbers of little pious children, from Heaven. After "Little Willie Bell," thou must read "The Fairy and the Peach Tree," written by Mr. Ainsworth himself—and you will know from it-what you were too young and too much in love with him that long-ago summer to knowthat he is a truly good man, and, I will add, Jane, a writer of fine fancy and true feeling.-What, off and away to the window without a single kiss-to hold up the pretty pictures, one after another, in the sunshine!

Aha, Jane! my pretty little rosycheeked, dark-eyed, curly-pated Jane ---can you control no longer the impatience, which, for this last half hour, you have not attempted to conceal And are you there unbeckoned upon my knee, and, with uplifted frock, ready to receive into your lap your destined Prize! There, thou impthou elf-thou fairy-there is a Christmas-Box for thee, on which thou wilt stare out thine eyes-having first filled them many times and oft-now with sighing, and now with laughing tears. You remember that I gave you last year the nicest of all little books, about the strangest and most curious pranky little beings that ever were born "Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland;" and do you know that the Christmas-Box is from the same gentleman-you know his name-T. Crofton Croker; and that it is published by that Mr. Ainsworth, now a bookseller in London, who carried you in his arms into the boat, you remember, and kept you there all the time we were sailing about on the lake? but he is a faithless man, and cannot be your husband, as he said he would, for he has married a beautiful wife of his own; and-only think of his impudence!-sent you this Christmas-Box to purchase your forgiveness. I assure you it is the nicest book for a child like you that ever was; for, do you know, that you are in your teens now, and, for a young child, are getting quite an old woman. Only look at this picture (the book you will find is full of delightful pictures) of the Enchanted Ass! Saw you ever anything so funny? Read the story about it, and you will die of laughing. But, fond as thou art of laughter, and fun and noise-yet art thou, too, my most merry mad-cap, at times, like all the happiest, not disinclined to gentle weeping-therefore read the story of "Little Willie Bell," and then lay it down and think upon itand weep and wonder if the "pale boy with the long curled hair," was indeed a ghost! Whether, child, there be any ghosts or no, it is not for me-old man as I am-to say; but if there be, they visit us not unpermitted, and you, my innocent, need not be afraid, were something you thought a ghost to draw the curtains of your little bed at night, and look in upon you, with a pale pale face, and all dressed in white, even like the clothes

Caroline Graham! Nay-Caroline, no far-off flirtation behind backs with such an old Quiz as Christopher North. There you are--bounding stately up from your affectedly-humble bending down, like a tall Harebell, that, depressed more than seemed natural with a weight of dew, among whose sweets the bees are murmuring, all of a sudden lifts itself up from the greensward, and, to the passing zephyr, shakes its blue blossoms in the sunshine. What! a basket—shall I call it -or rather a net of dense hair-of your own elegant handy-work, no doubtlined with what would seem to be either delicate light-blue satin or woven dew-to receive-what think ye! Why, all the Souvenirs-There they go, one after another-like so many birds of soft or bright plumage, not unwillingly dancing into the cage. There goes the "Forget Me Not," one of the fairest flutterers of them all, a bird of beautiful plumage and sweet song. Why so intent your eyes, my Caroline, on the very first page of your first Christmas Present? Ha! Stephanoff's Picture of the Bridal Morning! There she sits, surveying in her mirror, which cannot well flatter what is so finely framed-that Figure, with

bashful pride, which one about to rescue her to himself from an adoring world will gaze upon, and scarcely dare to embrace, with the trembling ecstacy of devoted passion. But hush, hush! Thy cheek, alternately rosy-red and lily-pale, each flower alike "love's proper hue," warns me to respect to venerate the unconcealable secret of innocent nature-So-so! Not a wordnot a look more, bright Caroline! of the "Forget Me Not" or of the "Bridal Morning," except that-now you have recovered from the confusion which some youth or other might understand perfectly, but of which the old man knows nothing-except that Mr Frederic Shoberl, the editor, is a pleasant gentleman, and Mr Ackermann, the publisher, a producer of many amiable elegancies-many trifles that touch the heart, and not a few more serious, though haply not more salutary works, for strong nourishment can be distilled from flowers; and there is a spirit with which many of his literary friends are imbued, reminding one of these lines of Wordsworth

"The device
To each and all might well belong;
It is the Spirit of Paradise

That prompts such works; a Spirit strong,
That gives to all the self-same bent,
When Life is wise and innocent."

A Large Paper Copy of the "Literary Souvenir," a Perfect Gem, Caroline, and set, after my own fancy, in silver and gold. Look at the "Duke and Duchess reading Don Quixote”— an imagination of that fine genius, the American Leslie! Let but a few ripening suns roll on, and thou thyself, The Grahame, wilt be as rich, as rare, as royal, as Queenlike a beauty, as she who, unconsciously obeying the judgments, the feelings, and the fancies, of her lofty and heroic Lord, is there seen dreaming with a smile of the doughty deeds of that Inimitable Crazed whom Cervantes created.-I, for one, know not whether to raise up or run down the Spirit of Romance and Chivalry.

Mr Alaric Watts it was who first called upon the other Fine Arts to aid Poetry in beautifying all the Souvenirs the happy name of his own bright consummate" Annual Flower -being, to our ear, the best expression of the aim and meaning of them all. Himself an elegant writer-Elegance is the peculiar characteristic of his Souvenirs; but an elegance con

genial with the truth and simplicity, and the force of nature. Here, my Caroline-into the magic web it goes -bound in violet-for that is a colour that is felt to be beautiful, whether "by mossy stone half hidden to the eye, or on the open and sunny bank,-all by its single self-or easily distinguishable, unpresuming though it be, amid the brightest bouquet that e'er bloomed on the bosom of Beauty.

Love and Friendship are sisters, and there is their Joint "Offering,"-although Love, as usual, is shamefaced, and conceals her name. The Editor, I have heard, is Mr Charles Knight,-and I believe it; taste, and sensibility, and genius, have been brought to the work. It bears dreamy perusal well-and is like a collection of musical pieces, in which, by a certain rare felicity, the compositions of harmonists, comparatively little known to fame, successfully rival the strains of the most famous. Thus, Southey's Grand Funeral Song for the Princess Charlotte of Wales does not disincline us, at its close, to open our ears to the pathetic elegies of Moultrie,--Pringle and Praed touch the harp with a careless, but no unmasterly hand-and there is one song at least by Hervey,—

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"Come touch the harp, my gentle one," "beautiful exeedingly," at least so it would be, my Caroline, if sung by thy voice when the fire was low, and this Study of mine, visited occasionally, even as at present it is visited, by the best and fairest, now in glimmer and now in gloom," echoed to that voice which some have compared, in the variety of its thick-gushing richness, to that of the nightingale-but which I do then most dearly love to listen to, when, in its clear-singing and unornamented risings and falls, without one single intermediate grace, shake, or quaver, it doth, to my ears, still ready to catch the tones that awaken ancient memories, most of all resemble the song of Scotia's darling, the Linty, as, by the edge of some birken shaw, it hymns onwards, beginning at the hour of twilight,-its melody becoming still softer and sweeter, as if beneath the mellowing dews-and then, as if the bird wished to escape the eye of the Star of Eve, soon about to rise, all of a sudden hushed-and the songster itself dropt into the broomy brake, or

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