A NEW-ENGLAND WINTER-SCENE

EXTRACT FROM A LETTER TO A FRIEND IN ONE OF THE WEST INDIA ISLANDS.

By William Cutter

I have sometimes almost envied you the perpetual summer you enjoy. You have none of the bleak, dark wastes of Winter around you, and have never to look, with aching heart, upon all fair, bright, beautiful things, withering before your eyes, in the severe frown of frosty Autumn. It is always green, and fresh, and fragrant, in your Islands of eternal June. Your gardens are always gardens, gay and redolent with sweet blossoms, and rich with ripe fruits, mingling like youth and manhood vying with each other, "from laughing morning up to sober prime," pursuing, without blight or dimness, the same gay round—blooming and ripening—ripening and blooming, but never falling, through all generations. Through all seasons, you have only to reach forth your hands, and there are bright bouquets, and mellow, delicious fruits, ready to fill them. Your trees have always a shade to spread over you; and they cast off their gorgeous blossoms, and their luxuriant load, as if they were conscious of immortal youth and energy—as if they knew they should never fade, become fruitless, or die. There is no frail, bending, withering age, in any thing of nature you look upon—no blasting of the unripened bud by untimely frosts—no falling prematurely of all that is beautiful and rare, to remind you daily that time is on his flight, and that you will not always be young. I wonder you do not think yourselves immortal in those everlasting gardens! Oh! that perpetual youth and maturity of every thing lovely!—how I have sometimes envied you the possession!

But I shall never envy you again. No—delightful as summer is, soft as its breezes, and sweet as its music, I would not lose the unutterable glory of this scene, that is now before me, for all the riches of your Island,—its unfading summer, and everlasting sweets. I wish I could describe it to you—could give you some faint idea of its celestial splendor. But, to do it any justice, I should have travelled through the fields of those glittering constellations above me, to borrow images from the host of heaven. The attempt will be vain—presumptuous—but I will try to tell you as much of it as I can.

The day has been dark, cold, and stormy. The snow has been falling lightly, mingled with rain, which, freezing as it fell, has formed a perfect covering of ice upon every object. The trees and shrubbery, even to their minutest branches, are all perfectly encased in this transparent drapery. Nothing could look more bleak and melancholy while the storm continued. But, just as evening closed in, the storm ceased, and the clouds rolled swiftly away. Never was a clearer, a more spotless sky. The moon is in the zenith of her march, with her multitude of bright attendants, pouring their mild radiance, like living light, upon the sea of glass that is all around us. Oh! how it kindles me to look at it! how it maddens me that I have no language to tell it to you! Do but imagine—The fields blazing out, like oceans of molten silver!—every tree and shrub, as far as the eye can reach, of pure transparent glass—a perfect garden of moving, waving breathing chrystals, lighted into unearthly splendor by a full, unclouded moon, and scattering undimmed, in every direction, the beams that are poured upon them. The air, all around, seems alive with illuminated gems. Every tree is a diamond chandelier, with a whole constellation of stars clustering to every socket—and, as they wave and tremble in the light breeze that is passing, I think of the dance of the morning stars, while they sang together on the birth-day of creation. Earth is a mirror of heaven. I can almost imagine myself borne up among the spheres, and looking through their vast theatre of lights. There are stars of every magnitude—from the humble twig, that glows and sparkles on the very bosom of the glassy earth, and the delicate thorn that points its glittering needle to the light, to the gorgeous, stately tree, that lifts loftily its crowned head and stretches its gemmed and almost overborne arms, proudly and gloriously to the heavens—all glowing—glittering—flashing—blazing—like—but why do I attempt it? As well might I begin to paint the noon-day sun. Give a loose to your imagination. Think of gardens and forests, hung with myriads of diamonds—nay, every tree, every branch, every stem and twig, a perfect, polished crystal, and the full, glorious moon, and all the host of evening, down in the very midst of them—and you will know what I am looking at. I am all eye and thought, but have no voice, no words to convey to you an impression of what I see and feel—No, I'll not envy you again! What a picture for mortal eyes to look on undimmed! The eagle, that goes up at noon-day to the sun, would be amazed in its effulgence. It is the coronation-eve of winter—and nature has opened her casket, and poured out every dazzling gem, and brilliant in her keeping, and hung out all her rain-bow drops, and lighted up every lamp, and they are all glowing, twinkling, sparkling, flashing together, like legions of spiritual eyes, glancing from world to world, in such unearthly rivalry, that the eye, even of the mind, turns away from it, pained and weary with beholding. There—look—but I can say no more, my words are consumed, drunk up in this unutterable glory, like morning mist when the sun looks on it!