SIGNS OF THE SEASON. 103
of promise to their hope." The postillions are of their party ;— and even he with the bottle-nose, who seems to be none of the youngest, is a boy, for the nonce. The very horses appear to have caught the spirit of the occasion; and toss their heads, and lay their haunches to the ground, and fling out their fore-legs, as if they drew the car of Momus. The village boys return them shout for shout, fling up their hats as the triumph approaches, and follow it till the breath fails. The older passer-by returns their uproarious salute, taking no umbrage at their mischievous jokes and impish tricks,—and turning, as the sounds of the merry voices die in the distance, to a vision of the days when he, too, was a boy, and an unconscious rehearsal of the half-forgotten song of "Dulce, dulce domum !"
And then the " limen amabile," and the " matris oscula," and the " Penates," towards which they are advancing!—the yearning hearts that wait within those homes to clasp them !—the bright eyes that are even now looking out from windows, to catch the first token of " their coming, and look brighter when they come !" —the quiet halls that shall ring to-night to their young voices; and the lanes and alleys whose echoes they shall awaken to-morrow,—and still more loudly when the ice comes !—and, above all, the Christmas revelries themselves! The whole is one crowded scene of enjoyment, across whose long extent, the happy schoolboy has, as yet, caught no glimpse of that black Monday, which forms the opposite and distant portal of this haunted time.
Amongst the signs of the time that are conspicuous upon the roads, the traveller whose journeyings bring him towards those which lead into the metropolis, will be struck by the droves of cattle that are making their painful way up to the great mart, for this great festival. But a still more striking, though less noisy, Christmas symptom forms a very amusing object, to him who leaves London by such of its highways as lead eastward. Many a time have we seen a Norfolk coach, with its hampers piled on the roof and swung from beneath the body, and its birds depending, by every possible contrivance, from every part from which a bird could be made to hang. Nay, we believe it is not unusual with the proprietors, at this season, to refuse inside passengers of the human species, in favor of these oriental gentry, who " pay