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remove this impediment to their further propagation. In this he was successful; and he afterwards visited Rome and France, for the purpose of enlarging the stores of his mind, by entering into the best society, and visiting all the public libraries. His proficiency was at length remarkable in every branch of science, and his knowledge of languages superior to that of any other person of his time. He was enabled to make a Latin translation of the Old Testament, which is called the Vulgate, now recognised by the church of Rome as the only authentic translation.
Charles. Which translation, I have heard, was the first book ever printed: is that true?
William. It is; and the rest of his works were published by the learned Erasmus, in 1.526. They are preserved as monuments of ancient sacred literature.
Maria. You have not informed us, William, either of the time of his birth or of his death.
William. It is a disputed point Maria, some authors asserting his birth to have been in 329, and others about 340; though they all agree that his death happened on the 31st of September, 420. His age must, therefore, have been either 80 or 91, according to the period at which you fix his birth. He died a natural death.—This is the last of our notices for the month of September.
Mr. Constance, on dismissing the party, gave them all an invitation to dinner on the next Michaelmas Day, observing that although they were unable to define the origin of the custom,—they might be fully competent to celebrate it.
1 He return of Angelina Constance to her own fireside, inspired our youthful party with fresh life and spirits. They gave her an endearing welcome home, and cheerfully participated in her lengthened tale of delight; while
October, full of merrie glee,
received a representative in every face. The day had been particularly cheerful, clear, and sunshiny—almost a summer's day: or, rather, it appeared to partake of three seasons: the morning had been like the noon of spring—midday partook of the warmth of summer—while the evening was truly seasonable, — misty, cool, and autumn-like. The appearance of our party also aided the impression, that the year was fast declining: the closed shutters, drawn curtains, lighted candles, and general air of the apartment, bespoke the approach of that season, when home is rendered particularly dear to us. This was evident on the entrance of William Melville, who, observing his friends comfortably seated around the cheerful fire, exclaimed, "Hail! to the social season; we have had a summer's day, and now we may enjoy a winter's evening: the fire looks invitingly clear." "It does so," replied Angelina, "and this being its first appearance for the season, we are giving it a hearty welcome: we shall have Much need of its assistance in nights to come." "True, Angelina,'' replied William, placing his chair in the midst of the circle, " it is no mean addition to our comfort; to a large party it gives a zest and an air of cheerfulness; in a small one it aids the sociability; while to a single person it is a friend, companion, and—I was about to say—a speaking acquaintance. Indeed, (he continued, in a tone that assured his friends he felt what he expressed,) I know of nothing more agreeable in the long nights of winter—saving the satisfaction of mingling in this and similar friendly associations—than the first sensation experienced on entering a snug apartment, enlivened by the appearance of a good fire. If alone, it immediately suggests the additional requisite of a book; which having obtained, you seem to smile at, and defy the storm that is endeavouring to force an entrance to your comfortable abode. Hail! then, I say, to the friendly month of October: the month that warns us in-doors in the chilly evenings, and compels us to draw on our own resources for amusement. Let us therefore stir the fire, and have another curling blaze." So saying, he gave it an extra poke, when the increased light displayed a circle of smiling faces, apparently enjoying the high spirits of their happy friend. "Aye, you laugh," he continued, as he again seated himself, " but is it not true that Autumn brings with it many pleasing hours?"
"Most assuredly it is," answered Mrs. Constance, "particularly to those who, like yourself, esteem the company of a book, or the society of a friend, superior to every other occupation. To a person of taste, a long evening is no impediment to enjoyment.
'Come, Evening, once again, season of peace;
Was the exclamation of one who has done much to increase the happiness of those hours, which he so well knew how to employ. And those persons who anticipate the forthcoming season with dread, would do well to peruse Cowper's 'Task.' They would then know, that there are few employments so interesting or tranquillizing to the mind, as the renewing of old acquaintance with our books again; which, as William has well observed, are read with an additional relish by a good fire, from the consciousness that, out of doors, all is cheerless and uncomfortable."
"They would also find," said Mr. Constance, taking up the conversation, " that the climate of this country, variable and uncertain as it is, may be looked upon with complacent satisfaction; since every month, having a distinct character, has also some attribute that brings with it a pleasure. If, in the seasons of Spring and Summer, we are delighted by what we see and feel, in Autumn and Winter it only needs the exercise of our imaginations to make these equally enlivening. The great mystery is employment of the mind, when the hours glide away in rapid succession, and the longest evenings appear too short for us. I therefore certainly feel more than ordinary pleasure in observing this cheerful anticipation of the lengthened nights. It assures me that you intend availing yourselves of those hours of retirement which the season of Winter forces upon us, for the improving of your minds, and the securing to yourselves that never-failing treasure—a good understanding. 'My minde to me a kingdome is,' sings an old philosophical poet, and you may rest satisfied of its truth: for in whatever situation you may hereafter be placed, let your prospects be prosperous or adverse, there is no source from whence you can draw amusement so soothing and satisfactory—
'Such perfect joy therein you'll finde
Thus passed the early part of the evening. Each person seemed to anticipate the approach of winter with any feeling but discontent. They had been taught the i'alue of industry by example; and much time was pleasantly spent in enumerating the different occupations in which they expected to be engaged in the forthcoming long evenings. They were not certain that Mr. Constance would not suggest something new for their amusement and instruction, since the present Conversations were drawing to a close; but they were not entirely dependent upon others for employment, as one had determined upon the study of general history, another of astronomy, while others proposed to themselves natural history and biography; and some chose the minor pursuits of drawing and music :— each were indulging in the usual delights of anticipation, when Mrs. Constance, directing the tea-service to be removed, requested her nephew to explain why this month is styled October.
"From its having anciently been the eighth month of the year, though now it is the tenth," replied William; "and, like September, this and the following months are named from the Latin numerals, which we explained in our last Conversation. October, like the preceding month, bore successive titles among the Romans; and as September had the name of Antoninus, so his was named after his wife, Faustinas: to flatter the tyrant Domitian, it was called Domitianus; and the skill of Commodus in the games obtained for it the name of Invictus: its original, however, became eventually the permanent name. Our Saxon ancestors, in this, as in the appellations given to the other months, studied the particular business which the season forced upon them, appropriately styling October Wyn Monath, in allusion to the vintage. It is also the favourite month for brewing of beer, because of its steady temperature."