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being without, horns: but all of them, being well cared for and exposed to no dangers, partake of the same timid and not overwise character. In mountainous countries, sheep are more sagacious, and at the same time much bolder. In the Scottish Highlands, where the flocks are driven to the mountains in April, and left to take care of themselves till October, the rams fear neither dog nor fox; if attacked by several at once, the brave fellows put themselves in front of the sheep and lambs, and rush boldly forwards, and their assailants are generally obliged to take flight.
The Welsh sheep are observed to appoint a sentinel before they give themselves up to the enjoyment of their pasture, and if any one approaches their feedingplace, the watchful guard warns them by a peculiar sound, like a hiss or whistle, and they are off and away in a moment, scampering to the most inaccessible parts of the mountain. The most remarkable-looking sheep in the British islands are the Shetlands, which have been aptly compared to Jacob's flock, "ringstreaked, speckled, and spotted," black, brown, blue, white, and grey. They are very small, but invaluable to their masters, who wear few garments that are not knitted, spun, and woven, from the wool of their flocks. It is exceedingly soft and fine, and is not shorn, but plucked off by the hand at the time when the animal is about to shed it. The merino sheep of France and Spain have also very fine wool, and so have the sheep of Thibet in Asia. But the small Thibet goats are far more celebrated, and the most costly shawls in the world are made from the soft wool which grows under their hair. It is not woven
in Thibet, but packed on the backs of sheep, and carried over the mountains to Cashmere, by long trains of these little beasts of burden. Most of the other goats found in Asia, are chiefly valued for their rich and abundant milk. In Switzerland, too, the goats' milk and the cheeses made from it are very much prized. It is one of the prettiest sights in a Swiss village to see the herd of goats return at sunset from the mountain pastures to which they are led up at daybreak. On they come, a herd of one or two hundred, some soft and sleek and milk-white, others brown, yellow, or black, with long shaggy hair, but all full of play, pushing and skirmishing with each other in saucy impatience to be first. All the children come to meet them, and run in amongst the herd to single out their own particular favourites; then, grasping them by the horns, or putting their arms round their necks, they lead them away to their homes, where the first welcome the goat receives is always a handful of salt; and very fondly will it lick the hand which holds out that dainty offering. In Greece and Syria, there is much affection subsisting between the shepherds and their flocks; they call them all by their names, and each sheep knows and answers to its name. It is by seeing such flocks as these that we come to understand those passages of Scripture in which our Lord represents Himself as the Good Shepherd, and his people as the sheep of his pasture. For the Eastern shepherd always goes before his flock to lead them in the right way; and when he calls them they obey him, for they know and love his voice, and will not follow the leading of a stranger.
THOSE Village bells, with silver chime, Come softened o'er the distant shore, And, though I've heard them many a time, Ne'er seemed to sound so sweet before : A silence rests upon the hill,
A listening awe pervades the air; The very flowers are shut, and still, And bowed as if in
And in this hushed and breathless pause,
Which speaks alone, Great God! of Thee. The whispering leaves, the dreaming brook, The linnet's warble fainter grown,
The hive-bound bee, and homeward rook;
And other eves as sweet as this
The boundless sea without a shore,
The deepening woods, the fading trees,
The distant pathways blacker grow,
Now Nature sinks in sweet repose,
The very leaves have ceased to wave:
Tree, mountain, stream, the daisied sod,
WHEN, from any cause whatever, bread is dear, it is felt throughout the whole land, and the poorer classes feel it most, because bread is their main support. Wages may rise in agricultural districts; but in most places, especially in towns, the rise, if there is any, does not make up for the loss, and it often becomes a hard matter for the poor to live.
This should be borne as a trial sent by God, and should remind us how thankless we too often are when we are blessed with plenty. Even in the midst of hardships there is much reason for gratitude. We read of famines in other times and countries, whereby thousands and tens of thousands of men perished from actual starvation; and we cannot forget that it is not many years since there was a grievous famine in Ireland. But in our own favoured country such want as this is seldom known, and we should constantly bless God for it, and pray that He will continue to give us day by day our daily bread.
But in times of distress we are often impatient;
and wicked and designing men take advantage of this impatience to move the more ignorant to acts of violence and wrong. An outcry is raised against "high prices." At one time the bakers, at another the millers, then the corn-dealers, and then the farmers, are at fault; and mobs, perhaps, assemble and try to frighten the Government into passing some laws to make food cheap. They will at times go even further, and break open shops and warehouses where food is stored up.
No one will pretend to defend acts of plunder and robbery, which can only lead to waste and confusion.
But would it not be possible to make some laws by which the distress might be relieved, and would it not be just to do so? It is worth while to consider this.
Who are to blame? Bakers, who pay dear for their flour, cannot sell their bread cheap; and if any one were to try to make more than his fair profit, there are plenty of others to undersell him, and he would soon lose his customers. Millers, again, have to buy their corn, and must sell their flour according to the price they pay for the grain; and there are sufficient millers competing with each other to prevent a few of the class keeping up the prices. Even if a number of millers were to combine together for this purpose, others would soon start, and undersell them. There may be a combination of bakers and millers in a particular locality for a short time, but this soon defeats itself by causing fresh tradesmen to be introduced.
The best security for keeping down the prices of any article is competition among those who sell it. No law can work half so surely. And if there were