Page images

He also wishes it to be observed, that this is not merely an annual publication ; though, like works of that description for youth, calculated for an ANNUAL PRESENT. Should it, however, by public favour, reach a second edition, he promises himself the pleasure of rendering it still more deserving of public 'approbation.

[ocr errors][merged small]


It was Christmas night, and the young party assembled at the house of Mr. Constance, were gradually drawing round the fire in a pleasing, friendly circle, for the purpose of terminating the festivities of the day by a mutual participation in a glass of warm elder. Mr. and Mrs. Constance sat observing, with evident delight, the cheerful countenances of their happy guests; and joyfully received the warm and grateful acknowledgments expressed by all present, for having been permitted to spend their holyday in each other's company. “ I do not remember,” said Maria Constance, as she made one in the circle, “whenever I spent a day so pleasantly.” “ Nor I,” added her brother Arthur; whose words were echoed throughout the happy groupe. “ Indeed,” he continued, “ I think papa is right when he says that every season has its pleasures, and that our happiness does not so much depend upon the weather as upon ourselves.”

“I am glad to hear you make such an acknowledgment, Arthur,” observed his father, “ and hope that you will endeavour, for the future, to prove yourself superior to the vexations and disappointments so frequently felt hy young persons at every change of season. But I have a plan to propose to the company now assembled, which will no doubt meet with approbation ; since it will afford you an opportunity of more frequently meeting together, and, I hope, be the means of your instruction and amusement.”

Great anxiety was immediately expressed in every countenance, and an eager curiosity evinced to know what fresh

amusement was in store for them,—when Mr. Constance thus continued: “ It has often occurred to me, that a particular consideration of the Almanack, or Calendar, would afford sufficient materials for a monthly evening Conversation. An investigation of its origin; of the means which mankind have adopted for the purpose of regulating and computing time; the remarkable occurrences which gave rise to holydays, festivals, &c., with the various customs observed on those occasions ; as also a notice of the days dedicated to the saints and early martyrs, with a biographical'account of each, might be studied with advantage, and afford sufficient variety to admit of different individuals taking that part which should be best suited to their taste and ability. My library is at your service, and I shall feel happy in attending your monthly discussions.”.

This kind proposal was received by the young party with eager delight, which gave an earnest of future exertion. Those who considered themselves competent to enter upon the subject, returned their thanks to Mr. Constance for bis kindness, and assured him of their desire to avail themselves of his suggestion.

Mrs. Constance also, in requesting them to fix an early day for their first meeting, remarked, that she anticipated much pleasure from the proposed plan, and should feel happy if it induced a spirit of observation, and impressed on their young minds, in the spring-time of life, a love of innocent pleasures, and a desire for useful knowledge.''

They then separated; the senior part of the company having promised to meet on the morrow, for the purpose of arranging the manner of their discussions, and fixing the evening on which they should commence.




“ WELCOME, welcome! and a happy new year to all,” exclaimed the lively Angelina Constance, as she entered the snug parlour of her father's residence : “ May this first evening of the opening year be consecrated to cheerfulness and sociality, and prove the joyous prelude to a long series of entertaining and instructive meetings.”

The many bright eyes and smiling faces which encircled the sparkling fire, gave pleasing assurance that the wishes of their young friend would certainly be fulfilled ; and as they rose to welcome her to a seat at the tea-table, they pressed her hand affectionately, and hailed her as the chief ornament of the party.

In addition to the Constance family, which consisted of two daughters and a son, Angelina, Maria, and Arthur, the meeting received an increase of number and ability, from the attendance of their cousins, William and Charles Melville. A small circle of youthful acquaintance, who had long cherished that social intercourse so frequently enjoyed in the villages surrounding the metropolis, completed the party. Several of them, however, feeling their incompetence to take any prominent' part in the forthcoming Conversations, had merely availed themselves of the kind invitation which they had received to attend ; but, while they were content to remain silent guests, they felt confident that the subjects which they had met to hear discussed, would prove both interesting and instructive, when conducted by Mr. Constance and his amiable family. The endearing welcome which they had received, also assured them of future gratification ; and each felt happy in the thought that they were about to commence the new year under the guidance of such excellent preceptors ;- from whose example they had already acquired a taste for useful pursuits, but from whose anxious solicitude for the improvement of their mental qualifications, they were now about to derive considerable benefit, :. “ I think we form a good party this evening,” said Mrs. Constance, as she cast her eyes, with a benignant smile, upon the happy groupe ; “ and from the cheerfulness of your demeanour, I infer that you have come with a determination to be pleased."

At this moment her son Arthur entered the room; and his ruddy. cheeks and healthy look, while they attracted notice, as he made towards the fire to warm his hands, also bespoke the severity of the atmosphere without.

“Well, Arthur,” said his sister Angelina, smiling, “can you keep yourself warm this evening ?” . .

“ Yes,” he replied, as he looked askance at the party assembled, “ I can-by this good fire."

“You are very sharp to-night,” added his sister.

“Aye, it's sharp weather, Nanny,”-he cried, playfully clasping her cheeks within his cold hands : “ but I know you are fond of winter and the fireside." . .

“ Fireside enjoyments, you mean, Arthur. Indeed I am. Winter is a season of delight to me, from the social intercourse which it creates: friendly meetings and in-door occupations are not to be exceeded by a summer's walk, with all its gratifying inducements. I acknowledge that our rambles are curtailed; that we frequently feel the sea verity of the nipping frost ; and, if called abroad, are compelled to inhale the cold air, and pass through a thick

« PreviousContinue »