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HALF-HOURS

WITH

THE BEST

BEST AUTHORS.

263.–LET WINTER COME.

WINTER, like every other season, has its appropriate sentiments, but suited to the mood of the poet's mind. It suggests pictures of home comfort:

Let Winter come ! let polar spirits sweep
The darkening world, and tempest-troubled deep!
Though boundless snows the wither'd heath deform,
And the dim sun scarce wanders through the storm,
Yet shall the smile of social love repay,
With mental light, the melancholy day!
And when its short and sullen noon is o'er,
The ice-chain'd waters slumbering on the shore,
How bright the faggots in his little hall
Blaze on the hearth, and warm the pictur'd wall !

CAMPBELL.

Even its gloom has its inspiration of solemn musings, such as Burns has beautifully described :—"All I am what the men of the world, if they knew such a man, would call a whimsical mortal, I have various sources of pleasure and enjoyment, which are, in a manner, peculiar to myself, or some here and there such other out-of-the-way person. Such is the peculiar pleasure I take in the season of winter, more than the rest of the year. This, I believe, may be partly owing to my misfortunes giving my mind a melancholy cast : but there is something even in the

Mighty tempest, and the hoary waste,

Abrupt, and deep stretch'd o'er the buried earth, which raises the mind to a serious solemnity, favorable to everything great and noble. There is scarcely any earthly object gives me more—I do not VOL. IV.

1

know if I should call it pleasure—but something which exalts me, something which enraptures me-than to walk in the sheltered side of a wood, or high plantation, in a cloudy winter day, and hear the stormy wind howling among the trees, and raving over the plain. It is my best season for devotion : my mind is wrapt up in a kind of enthusiasm to Him who, in the pompous language of the Hebrew bard, 'walks on the wings of the wind. In one of these seasons, just after a train of misfortunes, I composed the following :

The wintry west extends his blast,

And hail and rain does blaw:
Or the stormy north sends driving forth

The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,

And roars frae bank to brae ;
And bird and beast in covert rest,

And pass the heartless day.

The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,

The joyless winter day,
Let others fear, to me more dear

Than all the pride of May:
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,

My griefs it seems to join ;
The leafless trees my fancy please,

Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Pow'r Supreme, whose mighty scheme

These woes of mine fulfil ;
Here firm I rest, they must be best,

Because they are Thy will !
Then all I want (oh! do thou grant

This one request of mine !)
Since to enjoy thou dost deny,

Assist me to resign.”

Winter calls up the personifications of the painter-poets :

Lastly, came Winter, clothed all in frieze,
Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill;

Whilst on his hoary beard his breath did freeze,
And the dull drops, that from his purpled bill
As from a limbeck did adown distill :
In his right hand a tipped staff he held,
With which his feeble steps he stayed still ;
For he was faint with cold, and weak with eld;
That scarce his loosed limbs he able was to weld.-SPENSER.

*

Winter sets the poetical observer to his natural descriptions :

It was frosty winter season,
And fair Flora's wealth was geason.
Meads that erst with green were spread,
With choice flowers diap'red,
Had tawny veils ; cold had scanted
What the spring and nature planted.
Leafless boughs there might you see,
All, except fair Daphne's tree:
On their twigs no birds perch'd,
Warmer coverts now they search'd;
And, by nature's surest reason,
Framed their voices to the season;
With their feeble tunes bewraying
How they grieved the spring's decaying
Frosty winter thus had gloom'd
Each fair thing that summer bloom'd;
Fields were bare, and trees unclad,
Flow'rs wither’d, birds were sad :
When I saw a shepherd fold
Sheep in cote to shun the cold;
Himself sitting on the grass,
That with frost wither'd was,
Sighing deeply, thus 'gan say,

“Love is folly, when astray.”-GREENE.
The wrathful winter, hast'ning on apace,
With blust'ring blasts had all y bar'd the treen;
And old Saturnus, with his frosty face,

* Geason, rare, uncommon.

With chilling cold had pierced the tender green;
The mantle's rent, wherein enwrapped been

The gladsome groves that now lay overthrown,
The tapets torn, and every tree down blown.

The soil that erst so seemly was to seen,
Was all despoiled of her beauties' hue ;
And soot fresh flowers (wherewith the summer's Queen
Had clad the earth) now Boreas' blasts down blew.
And small fowls flocking, in their

song
The winter's wrath, wherewith each thing defaced,
In woeful wise bewail'd the summer past.

did rue

Hawthorn had lost his motley livery;
The naked twigs were shivering all for cold;
And dropping down the tears abundantly,
Each thing (methought) with weeping eye me told
The cruel season : bidding me withhold

Myself within, for I was gotten out
Into the fields, whereas I walk'd about.-SACKVILLE.

The modern bard moralizes on winter in unrhymed lyrics :

Though now no more the musing ear
Delights to listen to the breeze,
That lingers o'er the green-wood shade

I love thee, Winter! well.

Sweet are the harmonies of Spring,
Sweet is the Summer's evening gale,
And sweet the autumnal winds that shake

The many-color'd grove.
And pleasant to the sober'd soul
The silence of the wintry scene,
When Nature shrouds herself, entranced

In deep tranquillity.
Not undelightful now to roam
The wild heath, sparkling on the sight;

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