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it reminds me of the Turks and their Arabian tales, association infinitely preferable to any Chinese ideas; and, like the king who put his head into the tub, I am transported into distant lands the moment I dip into the coffeeсир, at one minute ranging the valleys with Sindbad, at another encountering the fairies on the wing by moonlight, at a third exploring the haunts of the cursed laugrahy, or wrapt into the silence of that delicious solitude from which Prince Agib was carried by the fatal horse. Then, if I wish to poeticize upon it at home, there is Belinda, with her sylphs, drinking it in such state as nothing but poetry can supply:
“For lo ! the board with cups and poons is crown'd,
The berries crackle, and the mill turns round:
Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade.'' It must be acknowledged, however, that the general association of ideas is at present in favor of tea, which, on that account, has the advantage of suggesting no confinement to particular ranks or modes of life. Let there be but a fireside, and anybody, of any denomination, may be fancied enjoying the luxury of a cup of tea, from the duchess in the evening drawing-room, who makes it the instrument of displaying her white hand, to the washerwoman at her early tub, who, having had nothing to signify since five, sits down to it with her shining arms and corrugated fingers at six. If there is any one station of life
in which it is enjoyed to most advantage, it is that of mediocrity: that in which all comfort is reckoned to be best appreciated, because, while there is taste to enjoy, there is necessity to earn the enjoyment; and I cannot conclude the hour before us with a better climax of snugness than is presented in the following pleasing little verses. The author, I believe, is unknown, and may not have been much of a poet in matters of fiction ; but who will deny his taste for matters of reality, or say that he has not handled his subject to perfection ?
“ The hearth was clean, the fire was clear,
The kettle on for tea,
As blest as man could be.
Clarinda, who his heart possess'd,
And was his new-made bride,
Sat toying by his side.
Stretch'd at his feet, in happy state,
A fav'rite dog was laid,
In wanton humour play'd.
Clarinda's hand he gently prest;
She stole an amorous kiss,
The fulness of her bliss.
Palemon, with a heart elate,
Pray'd to Almighty Jove
Just so to live and love.
Be this eternity, he cried,
And let no more be given :
THE HAPPY FIRESIDE.
There are so many modes of spending the remainder of the evening between tea-time and beil-time (for 1 protest against all suppers that are not light enough to be taken on the knce), that a general viescription would avail me nothing, and I cannot be expected to enter into such a variety of particulars. Sutice it to say that, where the fire is duly appreciated, and the circle good humored, none of them can be unpleasant, whether the party be large or small, young or old, talkative or contemplative. If there is music, a good fire will be particularly grateful to the performers, who are often seated at the farther end of the room ; for it is really shameful that a lady who is charming us all with her voice, or firing us, at the harp or piano, with the lightning of her fingers, should at the very moment be trembling with cold. Is to cards, which were invented for the solace of a mad prince, and which are only tolerable, in my opinion, when we can be as mad as he was, that is to say, at a round game. I cannot by any means patronize them, as a conscientious firesider: for, not to mention all the other objections, the card-table is as awkward, in a fireside point of view, as the dinner-table, and is not to be compared with it in sociality. If it be necessary to pay so ill a compliment to the company as to have recourse to some amusement of the kind, there is chess or draughts, which may be played on a tablet by the fire; but nothing is like discourse, freely uttering the fancy as it comes, and varied, perhaps, with a little music, or with the perusal of some favorite passages which excite the comments of the circle. It is then, if tastes happen to be accordant, and the social voice is frank as well as refined, that the “sweet music of speech” is heard in its best harmony, differing only for apter sweetness, and mingling but for happier participation, while the mu
tual sense smilingly blends in with every rising measure,
“And female stop smoothens the charm o'er all."
This is the finished evening ; this the quickener at once and the calmer of tired thought; this the spot where our better spirits await to exalt and enliven us, when the daily and vulgar ones have discharged their duty !
Questo è il Paradiso,
Tasso. - Rime Amorose.
“ Here, here is found
Bright fires and joyous faces; and it is no easy thing for philosophy to say good night. But health must be enjoyed or nothing will be enjoyed, and the charm should be broken at a reasonable hour. Far be it, however, from a rational firesider not to make exceptions to the rule, when friends have been long asunder, or when some domestic celebration has called them together, or even when hours peculiarly congenial render it difficult to part. At all events, the departure must be a voluntary matter; and here I cannot help exclaiming against the gross and villanous trick which some people have, when they wish to get rid of their company, of letting their fires go down, and the snuffs of their candles run to seed: it is paltry and palpable, and argues bad policy as well as breeding ; for such of their friends as have a different feeling of things, may chance to be disgusted with them altogether, while the careless or unpolite may choose to revenge themselves on the appeal, and face it out gravely till the morning. If a
common visitor be inconsiderate enough, on an ordinary occasion, to sit beyond all reasonable hour, it must be reckoned as a fatality, as an ignorance of men and things, against which you cannot possibly provide : as a sort of visitation, which must be borne with patience, and which is not likely to recur often, if you know whom you invite, and those who are invited know you. But with an occasional excess of the fireside what social virtue shall quarrel? A single friend, perhaps, loiters behind the rest; you are alone in the house; you have just got upon a subject delightful to you both; the fire is of a candent brightness; the wind howls out of doors; the rain beats ; the cold is piercing! Sit down. This is a time when the most melancholy temperament may defy the clouds and storms, and even extract from them a pleasure that will take no substance by daylight. The ghost of his happiness sits by him, and puts on the likeness of former hours; and if such a man can be made comfortable by the moment, what enjoyment may it not furnish to an unclouded spirit! If the excess belong not to vice, temperance does not forbid it when it only grows out of the occasion. The great poet, whom I have quoted so often for the fireside, and who will enjoy it with us to the last, was, like the rest of our great poets, an ardent recommender of temperance in all its branches; but though he practised what he preached, he could take his night out of the hands of sleep as well as the most entrenching of us. over, as foreign to our subject in point of place, his noble wish that he might" oft outwatch the hear," with what a wrapped-up recollection of snugness, in the elegy on his friend Diodati, does he describe the fireside enjoyment of a winter's night ?-