Youth's Magazine,  3rd ser. 10 (1837), 73–80.

The Snow-flake



Short Fiction


Design, Aesthetics, Natural Economy, Piety, Natural Theology, Biblical Authority, Feeling, Providence

    Describes a winter afternoon's walk through the snow. It starts to snow, and when a flake falls on the narrator's sleeve he observes: 'as I raised my arm in order to examine it, I found it such a microcosm of design and beauty that I was actually at a loss for words to express my admiration' (76). The snowflake evokes a host of thoughts before melting and evaporating. Two stanzas spiritualise the place of the snowflake in the water cycle. The narrator observes: 'I envy not that man his feelings, who, whilst he can connect effect with cause, and carry up his impressions from the creature to the Great Creator, is ignorant of all those attributes which nature has no ability to open to his restless spirit. But when the darkness of the natural mind has been illumined from above, and the grovelling senses are raised and supported by the elevating influences of the Word of God, I know of but one richer field for sweet and comfortable meditation than the visible creation' (76–77). Quotes a passage on the snowflake from Henry Duncan's Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons. Contrasts the feelings of a paternal providence experienced by the narrator on observing the snowflake with the feelings of the 'natural man' (78). Observes that the snowflake teaches 'the philosophy of common things', namely that '[e]very object that God esteemed worth making, we should regard as worthy of observation'. In particular, even so small a thing as a 'mere flake of snow' is the 'product of important laws'. Reflects that the snowflake also furnishes 'a striking illustration of things spiritual'. (79)

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