But to return to the winds. Certain people impress us as the winds do. Mandeville never comes in that I do not feel a north-wind vigor and healthfulness in his cordial, sincere, hearty manner, and in his wholesome way of looking at things. The Parson, you would say, was the east wind, and only his intimates know that his peevishness is only a querulous humor. In the fair west wind I know the Mistress herself, full of hope, and always the first one to discover a bit of blue in a cloudy sky. It would not be just to apply what I have said of the south wind to any of our visitors, but it did blow a little while Herbert was here.
In point of pure enjoyment, with an intellectual sparkle in it, I suppose that no luxurious lounging on tropical isles set in tropical seas compares with the positive happiness one may have before a great woodfire (not two sticks laid crossways in a grate), with a veritable New England winter raging outside. In order to get the highest enjoyment, the faculties must be alert, and not be lulled into a mere recipient dullness. There are those who prefer a warm bath to a brisk walk in the inspiring air, where ten thousand keen influences minister to the sense of beauty and run along the excited nerves. There are, for instance, a sharpness of horizon outline and a delicacy of color on distant hills which are wanting in summer, and which convey to one rightly organized the keenest delight, and a refinement of enjoyment that is scarcely sensuous, not at all sentimental, and almost passing the intellectual line into the spiritual.
I was speaking to Mandeville about this, and he said that I was drawing it altogether too fine; that he experienced sensations of pleasure in being out in almost all weathers; that he rather liked to breast a north wind, and that there was a certain inspiration in sharp outlines and in a landscape in trim winter-quarters, with stripped trees, and, as it were, scudding through the season under bare poles; but that he must say that he preferred the weather in which he could sit on the fence by the wood-lot, with the spring sun on his back, and hear the stir of the leaves and the birds beginning their housekeeping.