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"WELL, mamma, we have just escaped the shower,” exclaimed Angelina, as she entered, taking off her bonnet : “Hark! how it comes pattering against the windows, while the sun's brightness turns every drop into a glittering diamond. O! how I love the sound of a spring shower. It tells of green leaves, opening blossoms, sweet flowers, rural walks, and a thousand enjoyments in store for us.”
“ But, my dear,” said Mrs. Constance, interrupting her daughter's exclamation, “ you told me of some drawings you had to show me.” “ Oh yes,” she replied, placing the portfolio on the table,“ and I think you will be pleased when you examine the one I have just finished.” “ Pray what is the subject?" asked Mrs.Constance, as she received the picture from her daughter's hand. “It is an emblematical representation of the month of April. But, I must tell you, mamma, that my cousin William has kindly presented me with this curious set of designs, descriptive of each month of the year, on condition that I will copy him a set in the course of the summer. He tells me they are from very old sketches by our Saxon ancestors ; the
picturesque Saxons, as he calls them, 'who were wont to express the horticultural and agricultural attributes of each month, by a series of emblematical figures. But you shall see them all,” she continued, opening her portfolio, and selecting the prints. “There are twelve of them. This represents January : It is a man clothed in white, expressive of snow: he is blowing upon his fingers, indicating that the weather is severely cold. The poet Spenser, if you remember, has given a sort of reality to these pictorial characters, by an ideal marching of the Months before great Nature, in his Faerie Queene ; and observes of January :
• Yet did he quake and quiver like to quell;
And from the trees did lop the needlesse spray.' You see, mamma, that under his left arm he holds a billet; near him is Aquarius, or the waterman, that sign of the Zodiac which the sun enters this month.—And this is February (holding up the print): a man with his jacket buttoned, who is in the act of warming his hands, by striking them against his sides : the sign is Pisces, the fishes.-And (taking up another) this is March;
- 'Sturdy March, with brows full sternly bent,
And fill'd her womb with fruitful hope of nourishment.' He is portrayed as a man of fierce aspect, wearing a helmet, and with his right hand he grasps a ram, in token of the sign Aries. But observe April, how expressive of the month : it is a young man beautifully clothed in green, crowned with a garland of myrtle and hawthorn buds; holding in one hand primroses and violets, and pointing with the other to the sign Taurus, the bull. All of which I think extremely appropriate ; and only regret that, in my copy, I have not succeeded in portraying that benignant, yet joyous countenance of the youth, so descriptive of the cheering influence of this month of sunshine and showers.” :
“Indeed, Angelina,” replied Mrs. Constance, “ I think you have far surpassed, in every particular, all you have done before in the art of drawing; and I indulge a hope, that by the time you shall have completed the set, you will have cause to be grateful to your cousin, for the occasion which has afforded such an exercise of your pencil. But,” she added, taking up the next sketch,“ this represents May, I suppose.” “ Yes, mamma, it does :
Faire Maye the fayrest Mayd on ground,
You observe that her robe is of white and green, embroidered with daffodils, hawthorns, and blue-bells; and that she is crowned with a garland of white damask roses. The poet, describing the sign of the Zodiac entered this month, says:
• Upon two brethren's shoulders she did ride,
The twinnes of Leda ; which on either side-
And then adds, in rapturous exultation, expressing a high imagining of the lovely month of May,
Lord! how all creatures laught when her they spide,
And leapt and daunc't as they had ravisht beene !
But I must describe them all to you, mamma. See, here is June,
- Jolly June, array'd
He is a young man, clothed in a mantle of dark grassgreen colour, his head ornamented with a coronet of bents, king-combs and maiden hair; bearing on his right arm a basket of summer fruits, and having on his left an eagle.
The sign is Cancer, the crab. A strong, robust man, with a swarthy, sunburnt face, as represented in the next drawing, well describes the month of July:
Hot July, boiling like to fire,
Under his belt, he bore a sickle circling wide.'
* Upon a lyon raging yet with ire
He boldly rode, and made him to obey -The representation of the month of August,” continued Angelina, still addressing her mạmma, “ is by. Spenser expressively portrayed :
The eighth was August, being rich array'd
She left th’unrighteous world, and was to heav'n extold.” Mark what a beautiful and highly poetic use, is made of this allegory of the Virgin in the Zodiac. The goddess is represented as returning to earth again, and dispensing her bounties to the unrighteous world, through the me, dium of August, a young man dressed in a flame-coloured garment, and crowned with a wheat garland.-A similar allusion has been made to the sign Libra, the balance, in the description of September:
“In his one hand, as fit for harvest's toyle,
Both more and lesse, where it in doubt did stand,
Thereby representing September as the month of plenty, and weighing out his produce under the scrutinizing eye of Justice.October, ' full of merrie glee,' has a garland of oak branches and acorns on his head; and is dressed in a cloak of the colour of decayed leaves.
Upon a dreadful scorpion he did ride,
* and eeke by his side He had his ploughing share and coulter ready tyde.' And lastly, here are November and December,--the one clothed in a robe of changeable green and black, crowned with a garland of olive branches and fruits, and pointing to Sagittarius, the archer;—while the other is the portraiture of an old man invested with furs, his beard pendant with icicles, and his whole appearance forlorn and miserable. The poet's description is, however, more cheering:
And after him came next the chill December ;
And in his hand a broad deepe bowle he beares,
Well; mamma,” added Angelina, “ 1 perceive you have been much pleased : I said you would be."-"I have, indeed, my dear,” replied Mrs. Constance, “ and am more particularly so, to find that my daughter possesses not only sufficient taste to appreciate the designs, but enough of intelligence to be able to describe them with the warmth of an admirer. I hope to see one from your pencil every month. But come, you must prepare for your friends."
Angelina immediately replaced her drawings in the portfolio, and went in search of her sister,