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Numb. 80. SATURDAY, December 22, 1750.

Vides ut altâ ftet nive candidum
Soracte, nec jam fuftineant onus

Silvæ laborantes


Behold yon mountain's hoary height

Made higher with new mounts of snow;
Again behold the winter's weight

Oppress the lab'ring woods below.



$ providence has made the human soul an active

being, always impatient for novelty, and struggling for something yet unenjoyed with unwearied progression, the world seems to have been eminently adapted to this disposition of the mind ; it is formed to raise expectations by constant vicissitudes, and to obviate fatiety by perpetual change.

Wherever we turn our eyes, we find fomething to revive our curiosity, and engage our attention. In the dusk of the morning we watch the rising of the sun, and see the day diversify the clouds, and open new prospects in its gradual advance. After a few hours, we see the shades lengthen, and the light decline, till the sky is resigned to a multitude of shining orbs different from each other in magnitude and splendour. The earth varies its appearance as we move upon it; the woods offer their shades, and the fields their harvests; the hill flatters with an extensive view, and the valley invites with thelter, fragrance and flowers.

The poets have numbered among the felicities of the golden age, an exemption from the change of


seasons, and a perpetuity of spring ; but I am not certain that in this state of imaginary happiness they have made sufficient provision for that insatiable demand of new gratifications, which seems particularly to characterize the nature of man. Our sense of delight is in a great measure comparative, and arises at once from the sensations which we feel, and those which we remember: Thus ease after torment is pleasure for a time, and we are very agreeably recreated, when the body, chilled with the weather, is gradually recovering its natural tepidity ; but the joy ceases when we have forgot the cold : we must fall below ease again, if we desire to rise above it, and purchase new felicity by voluntary pain. It is therefore not unlikely, that however the fancy may, be amused with the description of regions in which no wind is heard but the gentle zephyr, and no scenes are displayed but vallies enamelled with un. fading flowers, and woods waving their perennial verdure, we should soon grow weary of uniformity, find our thoughts languish for want of other subjects, call on heaven for our wonted round of seafons, and think ourselves liberally recompensed for the inconveniencies of summer and winter, by new perceptions of the calmness and mildness of the in. termediate variations.

Every season has its particular power of striking the mind. The nakedness and asperity of the wintry world always fill the beholder with pensive and profound astonishment; as the variety of the scene is lessened, its grandeur is increased; and the mind is swelled at once by the mingled ideas of the present and the past, of the beauties which have vanished

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from the eyes, and the waste and defolation that are now before them.

It is observed by Milton, that he who neglects to visit the country in spring, and rejects the pleasures that are then in their first bloom and fragrance, is guilty of sullenness against nature. If we allot dif. ferent duties to different seasons, he may be charged with equal disobedience to the voice of nature, who looks on the bleak hills and leafless woods, without seriousness and awe. Spring is the season of gaiety, and winter of terror; in spring the heart of tranquillity dances to the melody of the groves, and the eye of benevolence sparkles at the sight of happiness and plenty: In the winter, compassion melts at universal calamity, and the tear of softness starts at the wailings of hunger, and the cries of the creation in distress.

Few.. minds have much inclination to indulge heaviness and sorrow, nor do I recommend them beyond the degree necessary to maintain in its full vigour that habitual sympathy and tenderness, which, in a world of so much misery, is necessary to the ready discharge of our most important duties. The winter therefore is generally celebrated as the proper season for domestick merriment and gaiety. We are feldom invited by the votaries of pleasure to look abroad for any other purpose, than that we may shrink back with more satisfaction to our coverts, and when we have heard the howl of the tempest, and felt the gripe of the frost, congratulate each other with more gladness upon a close room, an easy chair, a large fire, and a smoaking dinner.

Winter brings natural inducements to jollity and conversation. Differences, we know, are never so ef

fectually fectually laid asleep, as by some common calamity : An enemy unites all to whom he threatens danger, The rigour of winter brings generally to the fame fire-side, those, who, by the opposition of inclinations, or difference of employment, moved in various directions through the other parts of the year; and when they have met, and find it their mutual interest to remain together, they endear each other by mutual compliances, and often wish for the continuance of the social season, with all its bleakness and all its severities.

To the men of study and imagination the winter is generally the chief time of labour.. Gloom and silence produce composure of mind, and concentration of ideas; and the privation of external pleasure naturally causes an effort to find entertainment within. This is the time in which those whom literature enables to find amusements for themselves, have more than common convictions of their own happiness. When they are condemned by the ele. ments to retirement, and debarred from most of the diversions which are called in to assist the flight of time, they can find new subjects of enquiry, and preserve themselves from that weariness which hangs always flagging upon the vacant mind.

It cannot indeed be expected of all to be poets and philosophers; it is necessary that the greater part of mankind should be employed in the minute business of common life; minute, indeed, not if we consider its influence upon our happiness, but if we respect the abilities requisite to conduct it. These must necessarily be more dependent on accident for the means of spending agreeably those hours which their



occupations leave unengaged, or nature obliges them to allow to relaxation. Yet even on these I would willingly impress such a sense of the value of time, as may incline them to find out for their carelefs hours amusements of more use and dignity than the common games, which not only weary the mind without improving it, but strengthen the passions of envy

and åvarice, and often lead to fraud and to profusion, to corruption and to ruin. It is unworthy of a reason. able being to spend any of the little time allotted us, without some tendency, either direct or oblique, to the end of our existence. And though every moment cannot be laid out on the formal and regular improvement of our knowledge, or in the ftated pracfice of a moral or religious duty, yet none should be so spent as to exclude wisdom or virtue, or pafs without possibility of qualifying us more or less for the better employment of those which are to come.

It is scarcely possible to pass an hour in honest conversation, without being able, when we rife from it, to please ourselves with having given or received fome advantages; but a man may shuffle cards, or rattle dice, from noon to midnight, without tracing any new idea in his mind, or being able to recollect the day by any other token than his gain or loss, and a confused remembrance of agitated paffions, and clamorous altercations.

However, as experience is of more weight than precept, any of my readers, who are contriving how to fpend the dreary months before them, may confider which of their past amusements fills them now with the greatest fatisfaction, and resolve to repeat those gratifications of which the pleasure is most durable.


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