angles of fresh drifts, become brilliant and constant above the line of perpetual snow; and the higher the altitude the more lustrous the display.
When a staff was struck into the new-fallen drift, the hollow seemed instantly to fill with a soft blue liquid, while the snow adhering to the staff took a complementary color of pinkish yellow, and on moving it up and down it was hard to resist the impression that a pink flame was rising and sinking in the hole.
The little natural furrows in the drifts appeared faintly blue, the ridges were gray, while the parts most exposed to view seemed least illuminated, and as if a light brown dust had been sprinkled over them.
The fresher the snow, the more marked the colors, and it made no difference whether the sky were cloudless or foggy.
Thus was every white peak decked upon its brow with this tiara of ineffable beauty.
The impression is very general that the average quantity of snow has greatly diminished in America
; but it must be remembered that very severe storms occur only at considerable intervals, and the Puritans did not always, as boys fancy, step out of the upper windows upon the drifts.
In 1717, the ground was covered from ten to twenty feet, indeed; but during January, 1861, the snow was six feet on a level in many parts of Maine
and New Hampshire
, and was probably drifted three times that depth in particular spots.
The greatest storm recorded in England
, I believe, is that of 1814, in which for forty-eight hours the snow fell so furiously that drifts of sixteen, twenty, and even twenty-four feet were recorded in various places.
An inch an hour is thought to be the average rate of deposit, though four inches are said to have fallen during the severe storm of January 3, 1859.
When thus intensified, the ‘beautiful meteor of the snow’ begins to give a sensation of something formidable; and when the mercury suddenly falls meanwhile, and the wind rises, there are sometimes suggestions of such terror in a snow-storm as no summer thunders can rival.
The brief and singular tempest of February 7, 1861, was a thing to be forever remembered by those who saw it, as I did, over a wide plain.
The sky suddenly appeared to open and let down whole solid snow-banks at once, which were caught and torn to pieces by the ravenous winds, and the traveller was instantaneously enveloped in a whirling mass far denser than any fog; it was a tornado with snow stirred into it. Standing in the middle of the road, with houses close on every side, one could see absolutely nothing in any direction, one could hear no sound but the storm.
Every landmark vanished, and it was no more possible to guess the points of the compass than in mid-ocean.
It was easy to conceive of being bewildered and overwhelmed within a rod of one's own door.
The tempest lasted only an hour; but if it had lasted a week, we should have had such a storm as occurred on the steppes of Kirgheez in Siberia
, in 1827, destroying two hundred and eighty thousand five hundred horses.
thirty thousand four hundred cattle, a million sheep, and ten