Backlog Studies eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about Backlog Studies.
andirons; and upon these build the fire of lighter stuff.  In this way you have at once a cheerful blaze, and the fire gradually eats into the solid mass, sinking down with increasing fervor; coals drop below, and delicate tongues of flame sport along the beautiful grain of the forestick.  There are people who kindle a fire underneath.  But these are conceited people, who are wedded to their own way.  I suppose an accomplished incendiary always starts a fire in the attic, if he can.  I am not an incendiary, but I hate bigotry.  I don’t call those incendiaries very good Christians who, when they set fire to the martyrs, touched off the fagots at the bottom, so as to make them go slow.  Besides, knowledge works down easier than it does up.  Education must proceed from the more enlightened down to the more ignorant strata.  If you want better common schools, raise the standard of the colleges, and so on.  Build your fire on top.  Let your light shine.  I have seen people build a fire under a balky horse; but he wouldn’t go, he’d be a horse-martyr first.  A fire kindled under one never did him any good.  Of course you can make a fire on the hearth by kindling it underneath, but that does not make it right.  I want my hearthfire to be an emblem of the best things.

II

It must be confessed that a wood-fire needs as much tending as a pair of twins.  To say nothing of fiery projectiles sent into the room, even by the best wood, from the explosion of gases confined in its cells, the brands are continually dropping down, and coals are being scattered over the hearth.  However much a careful housewife, who thinks more of neatness than enjoyment, may dislike this, it is one of the chief delights of a wood-fire.  I would as soon have an Englishman without side-whiskers as a fire without a big backlog; and I would rather have no fire than one that required no tending,—­one of dead wood that could not sing again the imprisoned songs of the forest, or give out in brilliant scintillations the sunshine it absorbed in its growth.  Flame is an ethereal sprite, and the spice of danger in it gives zest to the care of the hearth-fire.  Nothing is so beautiful as springing, changing flame,—­it was the last freak of the Gothic architecture men to represent the fronts of elaborate edifices of stone as on fire, by the kindling flamboyant devices.  A fireplace is, besides, a private laboratory, where one can witness the most brilliant chemical experiments, minor conflagrations only wanting the grandeur of cities on fire.  It is a vulgar notion that a fire is only for heat.  A chief value of it is, however, to look at.  It is a picture, framed between the jambs.  You have nothing on your walls, by the best masters (the poor masters are not, however, represented), that is really so fascinating, so spiritual.  Speaking like an upholsterer, it furnishes the room.  And it is never twice the same.  In this respect it is like the landscape-view through a window, always seen in a new light, color, or condition.  The fireplace is a window into the most charming world I ever had a glimpse of.

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Backlog Studies from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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