MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
       He travels and expatiates, as the bee
       From flower to flower, so he from land to land: 
       The manners, customs, policy, of all
       Pay contribution to the store he gleans;
       He sucks intelligence in every clinic,
       And spreads the honey of his deep research
       At his return—­a rich repast for me. 
       He travels, and I too.  I tread his deck,
       Ascend his topmast, through his peering eyes
       Discover countries, with a kindred heart
       Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes;
       While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
       Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.

COWPER.

[Note:_Katerfelto_.  A quack then exhibiting in London.]

* * * * *

A HARD WINTER.

There were some circumstances attending the remarkable frost of January 1776 so singular and striking, that a short detail of them may not be unacceptable.

The most certain way to be exact will be to copy the passages from my journal, which were taken from time to time, as things occurred.  But it may be proper previously to remark, that the first week in January was uncommonly wet, and drowned with vast rain from every quarter; from whence may be inferred, as there is great reason to believe is the case, that intense frosts seldom take place till the earth is completely glutted and chilled with water; and hence dry autumns are seldom followed by rigorous winters.

January 7th.—­Snow driving all the day, which was followed by frost, sleet, and some snow, till the twelfth, when a prodigious mass overwhelmed all the works of men, drifting over the tops of the gates, and filling the hollow lanes.

On the 14th, the writer was obliged to be much abroad; and thinks he never before, or since, has encountered such rugged Siberian weather.  Many of the narrow roads are now filled above the tops of the hedges; through which the snow was driven in most romantic and grotesque shapes, so striking to the imagination as not to be seen without wonder and pleasure.  The poultry dared not stir out of their roosting-places; for cocks and hens are so dazzled and confounded by the glare of the snow, that they would soon perish without assistance.  The hares also lay sullenly in their seats, and would not move till compelled by hunger; being conscious, poor animals, that the drifts and heaps treacherously betray their footsteps, and prove fatal to numbers of them.

From the 14th, the snow continued to increase, and began to stop the road-waggons and coaches, which could no longer keep in their regular stages; and especially on the western roads, where the fall appears to have been greater than in the south.  The company at Bath, that wanted to attend the Queen’s birthday, were strangely incommoded; many carriages of persons who got, in their way to town from Bath, as far as Marlborough, after strange embarrassment, here came to a dead stop.  The ladies fretted, and offered large rewards to labourers if they would shovel them a track to London; but the relentless heaps of snow were too bulky to be removed; and so the 18th passed over, leaving the company in very uncomfortable circumstances at the Castle and other inns.

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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