A very pretty idea for Mandeville; and I fear he is getting to have private thoughts about the Young Lady. Mandeville naturally likes the robustness and sparkle of winter, and it has been a little suspicious to hear him express the hope that we shall have an early spring.
I wonder how many people there are in New England who know the glory and inspiration of a winter walk just before sunset, and that, too, not only on days of clear sky, when the west is aflame with a rosy color, which has no suggestion of languor or unsatisfied longing in it, but on dull days, when the sullen clouds hang about the horizon, full of threats of storm and the terrors of the gathering night. We are very busy with our own affairs, but there is always something going on out-doors worth looking at; and there is seldom an hour before sunset that has not some special attraction. And, besides, it puts one in the mood for the cheer and comfort of the open fire at home.
Probably if the people of New England could have a plebiscitum on their weather, they would vote against it, especially against winter. Almost no one speaks well of winter. And this suggests the idea that most people here were either born in the wrong place, or do not know what is best for them. I doubt if these grumblers would be any better satisfied, or would turn out as well, in the tropics. Everybody knows our virtues,—at least if they believe half we tell them,—and for delicate beauty, that rare plant, I should look among the girls of the New England hills as confidently as anywhere, and I have traveled as far south as New Jersey, and west of the Genesee Valley. Indeed, it would be easy to show that the parents of the pretty girls in the West emigrated from New England. And yet—such is the mystery of Providence—no one would expect that one of the sweetest and most delicate flowers that blooms, the trailing. arbutus, would blossom in this inhospitable climate, and peep forth from the edge of a snowbank at that.
It seems unaccountable to a superficial observer that the thousands of people who are dissatisfied with their climate do not seek a more congenial one—or stop grumbling. The world is so small, and all parts of it are so accessible, it has so many varieties of climate, that one could surely suit himself by searching; and, then, is it worth while to waste our one short life in the midst of unpleasant surroundings and in a constant friction with that which is disagreeable? One would suppose that people set down on this little globe would seek places on it most agreeable to themselves. It must be that they are much more content with the climate and country upon which they happen, by the accident of their birth, than they pretend to be.
Home sympathies and charities are most active in the winter. Coming in from my late walk,—in fact driven in by a hurrying north wind that would brook no delay,—a wind that brought snow that did not seem to fall out of a bounteous sky, but to be blown from polar fields,—I find the Mistress returned from town, all in a glow of philanthropic excitement.