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Let your poets and your painters render, as loyally as they will, their homage to summer-the one by the glow of his language and imagery, the other by the brilliancy of his colours-still I hold it that Winter has his charms as well as his more worshipped season-brothers. True it is, he has but a scant cortege, and small pomp. No zephyrs breathe softly around him — no birds carol hymns at his advent; for him Aowers bloom not, plants bud not; the trees greet him not with the glory of their leaves ; the fields grow not green beneath his footsteps ; nor are the plains purple with the grape, or yelow with the golden grain. The sun looks coldly upon him, and gives him as little of his company as possible ; rising late, and setting early—as we see in the world a gay man of fashion hurry away from a shabby-looking acquaintance. Clouds and rain, storm and cold, sleet and frost-these are the ministrants upon winter ; and yet, with all these, there is something downright honest and lovable about him. Honest fellows have, very often, rough faces and rude manners; and it is a matter of notoriety that mothers very often are fondest of their most wild and ill-favoured children, just because they are such. But be the cause what it may, I love old Winter, “ frosty, but kindly," and I make much of him when he comes — treating him with all sorts of good cheer, warming his old bones with the blazing log, comforting his old heart with the best cheer I can give him ; and finally turning him out of doors, as the spring approaches, so merry and green-hearted, so softened and warmed, that he hardly knows himself. This, I believe, is the true philosophy of life: and I am particularly of this opinion to-night, for I have retired into the very heart of my sanctuary; I have shut to the door, barred the windows, drawn close the curtains, wheeled my easy-chair to the fire, set my table with the lamp on it beside me, placed my feet on the fender, and given myself up to thinking all sorts of pleasant things. Ay, there goes the wind howling outside, and the rain plashing in sheets against the window-panes! Isn't that enough to make any man feel pleasant, who has a roof over his head, and a fire under his nose? Let Mark Tapley go out into the “long, unlovely street,” to be jolly if he will: I shall be cheery within. There is no season or hour so favourable to the development of fancy and the enjoyment of contemplation, as a winter's night. Spring, and summer, and autumn draw the soul, as it were, out of ber mansion, and send her gadding about amid the fascinations of the external world ; but winter makes her stay at home, and turn her thoughts upon herself, and regulate the inner life. Come, let me look through my chamber, and feel all the snugness around me. There is a long, massive shadow of a man - a shadow that poor Peter Schlemihl would have given his soul to have projected – the legs stretching along the carpet, and the body dislocated against the skirting, and
VOL. XLII.--N0. CCLII.
then reared upon the wall; the arm looks lusty enough to fell an elephant, and the head might put a giant to shame. The light is glinting playfully upon the folds of the thick curtains, and the legs of chairs and tables straggle about in fanciful distortion. And now the ruddy firelight throws out its blaze fitfully, making its own rival-shadows, only they are less stable than those of the lampdeepening and lightening, tlutterivg and flickering, coming and going, like witches and goblins in a dance upon Walpurgis night. A fire upon a winter's night is a microcosm. If you have any spiritual vision, you may see the whole world in it. Mighty mountain ranges, deep gorges, broad plains, interminable seas, and cities with their multiform buildings, tall spires, cupolas, pagodas; every sort of architecture, Greek, Roman, Gothic, Saracenic, Byzantine, Arabesque. And there, too, humanity in all its phases has its type ; so that you may moralise to your heart's content, and become a profound anthroposopher just by gazing between the bars of the grate. There you have the first effort of infant life, the little scintilla gleaming out of the blackness; perbaps you see it no more-gone in one little puff - or it may be that it gushes out in a strong bituminous jet, blazing up with a whizzing sound. Ah! that is boyhood - bright, joyous, vigorous ; flinging itself, heart and soul, into everything; living in and for the moment, and fed from the very fountain-head of animal life. But the flame by degrees grows steadier, quieter, and more tempered, as the supply of gas begins to fail, just like the boy when the exuberance of vital spirits is worked off. And then we have the flame broad and clear – the ardour of youth ; and this again subsides, and the flame itself goes out, leaving the red glow of the ignited mass — the steady, persevering, hopeful energy of manhood. This lasts long, provided you do not stir it with the poker, and derange its organisation; and so too will the man, if he gets fair play from within and from without; but they will not last always, for they are both of the earth, earthy.” The glow fades; first a little, as a greyish shadow steals across its brightness then it rallies for a moment, but the shade comes across it again and again, recurring at shorter and shorter intervals, till at last it loses all its ruddiness and its warmth, and the dim grey, ashy hue overspreads it, never, never again to disappear. Ah! 'tis so with man; disease assails him from without, the native infirmities of his mortal structure sap him from within-he baffles them for a while, he rallies, he sinks; bis eye loses its brightness, his cheek its bloom, his step its elasticity, and the shadow of the grave for the first time casts a gloom over him. Look now at yon mass, how it grows darker and darker-there is no heat in it; see how it shrinks together, and at last, with
a faint, feeble crash, falls to pieces, down into the pit beneath-dust and ashes! Just like man; the blood grows cold and colder, the form shrivels, the eye dims, and at last the shadow of death draws nearer and looms heavily over him; then the light goes out, and he sinks into the gravepit, dust and ashes too. Well, but it may be that the fire and the man, the spark material and divine, have each in their hour done their allotted work. Has not the blaze brightened everything around it?- has not the strong glow warmed the chilled limbs, cheered ihe heavy heart ?—nay, may it not have vapourised the water, and liberated therefrom the mighty steam-spirit, and sent him forth to pant and toil in his beneficent labours throughout the earth? And may not man, too, have fulfilled his mission wrought his work in youth and in age? may he not have made many an eye bright, many a cold, sad heart glad and warm-done works of goodness, of greatness-elevating man, pushing him forward and upwards by his invention or his industry? Assuredly, he may have done all this, and if so he has not lived in vain, nor shall his memory perish from amongst his kind. No; as the HEARTH is amongst all nations the symbol of the dearest and most sacred of human affections, so shall the grave wherein the ashes of the great and the good man repose be ever honoured in the hearts, and kept green by the love of his kind.
Well, well! we have rambled far away from the point at which we started, following the guidance of our own pleasant fancies. Let us come back to “winter and cold weather.” It is meet, dear friends, that you should have some fancies for your firesides, as we have for our own. Shall we not give you song and lay for your evening cheer? Ay, marry shall we; and so let us look through our red-leather case, and take somewhat from its stores to sing to you. Here is a song from an old acquaintance, and just in season too :
BY JONATHAN FREKE SLINGSBY.
Snow-blanchèd carl, all dripping and chill;
Heavily, gloomily plodding on still.
Sit by the hearth-blaze and melt all thy snow;
Dreary old Winter, weary old Winter,
We'll make thy eye brighter, thy icy blood glow.
Laugh while with yule-wreath thy temples are bound;
“Christmas waes hael!” pledge the holy toast round.
Crown we old Winter, of revels the king;
Cheery old Winter! merry old Winter !
He'll lie down and die on the green lap of spring. Well, how do you like that, “masters mine and ladies fair?" Form your own judgments about it, for help of ours ye shall not have in the matter. We have made up our minds to say nothing about Slingsby, good or bad. He has got quite beyond our control, so we deliver him up to the public to use him as shall seem good in their sight. Bless us! here he comes again :
" THERE'S A LINING OF SILVER TO EVERY CLOUD."
BY JONATHAN PREKE SLINGSBY.
“ Did a sable cloud
Dejected and weary,
My heart full to breaking
All wildly and chilly
The wind whistled shrilly,
Low moaned the ocean
In ceaseless commotion,
The young moon was beaming,
Faint light now shedding,
Dark shades now spreading,
“Ah! thus," thought I, sighing,
“ Froin birth to our dying,
Joy gives scarce a promise
That Grief rends not from us,
But soon, to my wonder,
The cloud burst asunder,
Soft fell its splendour,
So holy and tender,
While all the cloud's margent
Was gleaming like argent,
I knew that towards heaven
Its brightness was given-
Then my soul rose in gladness,
And shook off its sadness,
To-day what is sorrow
Make joy on the morrow-
I looked up, confessing
That Trial is Blessing,
What from earth Man sees glooming,
God above is illuming
“There's a lining of silver to every cloud !” There's a very good moral in that song of thine, Jonathan. One can always, somehow, take comfort who looks up at the heavens. But take care that you are something more than sentimental upon paper and amiable in ink, not like some cold blooded fellows who wax loving in their cups. The man who has learned to look at the bright side of things, and better still, to look beyond the things themselves, has learned a lore more precious than pearls. Come, let us see what is next at hand. Another winter piece :
And sorely shrunken from their prime,
In the rustling summer-time.
Drearily wave the barren boughs,
Drearily shiver the twigs forlorn,
a weary sky all winter-worn.
Ah! the days bave cheerless seeming,
Ah, the clouds are cold and gray ;
Deeming thee a loiterer, May,
Yet be thou welcome, gusty time,
For all the darkness of thy days ;
With holly crown thee and with bays.
And thy bleak blasts are barrèd out,
And storms at sea are talked about.
With voices low and thoughtful eyes,
That turn them to the fire alway,
In embers saw the fleering spray.
Comes booming louder then ;
Comes brightly out on every brow.
Merrily dancing to the wind,
And kindly eyes grow doubly kind.
For thee I will have welcome Spring;
CALEDONIAN. There is nothing pleasanter of a winter's night than thus to crowd around the fireside when the wind is blowing cold and gustily against door and windowframe, and to think of those who are journeying shelterless upon the bleak roads, or tossing on the stormy seas; and if there be a ghost-story, or a tragical tale, or a song of some luckless true lovers, all the better. These old-world fancies are not yet all passed away, and we hope never shall. So here, then, is a pleasant rhyme of two lovers, just fit for a winter's evening :
Lies the village dark and quiet ;
And the peasant, half-awaking,
A blind, yawning stretch is taking,
There is not a sound of riot,
Where some aged bones are aching ;
Even the moon a drowse is taking.
Filled with bees when day is o'er it,
Idle chimney, blackened shed
All its merry din is dead ;
Strew the umbered ground before it,
Faintly with the cricket's chirrup,
Hung with rusty shoe and stirrup.
Hark! the sound of horses tramping
Through the slaty runnels crumbling,
Comes a carriage swinging, rumbling;
Plunge the horses, puffd and champing:
Like the eyes of weary ghosts,