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--'..."., AGRICULTURE. ----+--








CERTSTMAS DECORATIONS. After a long period of rude neglect, we have come back now to something mora like the tender care of early times in arranging the temporary ornamenta- tion of our churches. Christmas decorations mean something vastly more elaborate than they did in our grandfathers' and great-grandfathers' times. Decoration has become a science, and much study is necessary if decorators will satisfy the critical eyes which are occupied during the times of service in discovering beauties and defects. It is by no means light work that is de. mauded of the votaries of this science. For a week before Christmas Day, body and soul must be given up to one all-engrossing occupation, the carrying into practical effect the plans which long weeks of reading and preparation have elaborated. Tender fingers do not recover for weeks from the pricking and the staining through which they have to go in order to realise the careful designs. Colds caught in damp churches are not shaken off before Candlemas comes, with its superstitious expurgation of all Christmas symbols, a relic of the old arrange- ments in honour of the sylvan sprites. The days have gone by when a few moderate-sized holly-buehes tied here and there about the church were all the decorating done, achieved by the parish clerk in a couple of hours, and charged for accordingly. Oar decorations make, perhaps, less bulky show, but they coat us infinitely greater pains. A hundred and fifty years ago Miss Jenny Simper wrote to the Spectator, to complain that the church she frequented looked more like a green-house than a house of worship (that is, a sad and sombre place), the middle aiBle being a pretty shady walk, and the pevs so many arboura on each side of it. The pulpit itself was such a mass of ivy, holly, and rosemary, that a light fellow in her pew took occasion to Eay that the congregation heard the Word out of a bush, like Moses. Some pewa were so well hedged, that her ey es were obliged to shoot at random among the boughs, without taking any manner of aim: in answer to which the clerk stated that it was his chief object, in putting up such profuse decorations, to restrain the wandering of her glances. This sort of Feast of Tabernacles under cover was something far less delicate than the laborious works of art, the scrolls, and bosses, and texts, with which we cover our walls and fill up our spandrels, or even the wreaths and clusters wherewith we choke the candles and gas, bind up the revolving lecturna, and render approach to the pulpit almost as impracticable as locomotion therein is undesirable, seeing that holly is not a kindly shrub for the head or the hand of the preacher to come in contact with unawares. The cross flenrie, the cross patonce, the quatrefoil and oinqfoil, the vesica, the four-five-and six-pointed star, the illegible Greek initials, the arcades, bands, banners, diapers, and medallions, all are or ought to be the result of serious study and considerable practice, the one to insure correctness of design, the other neatness of execution. The construction of these works of art is an agreeably gregarious occupa- tion, and the placing them in their proper places an employment muoh sought after. Results follow which are analogous to those scandalously mothered upon Doroas societies. Throughout the month of January, reports of a personal character circulate briskly, which may be traced to the work-room where the heavy part of the decoration was done, and such reports are not always tender and not always true. An amount of quiet jocularity is indulged in, while the decorations are being put tip in the church, which is in some cases very far from seemly. In damp country ehurches, the decorators have been seen huddled round the smoky little stove, drinking wine mulled thereat to keep out the cold; while with more of regret than of flippancy it must be said that I a great deal of ecclesiastical flirtation goes on at Christmas time in places meant for other things. It is unfortunate that this should be so, for it gives occasion for hostile meannesses, even where all has been done after an orderly and seemly manner. As the outrageous passion for ecclesiastical millinery 1 has brought disrepute on some proceedings which might have seemed harmless and respectable enough had they stood by themselves, so the silliness of a few foolish young men and women may raise an antagon- istic feeling with regard to Christmas decorations, which every one who cares for the outward expression of respect for our places of worship would deplore. It was not thus, we may be sure, but with most virgin- like sobriety and reverence, that Severus and Nepo- tian, Rhadegund and Agnes, adorned their churches with their choicest flowere.-Loiidon Review.



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