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The Naturalist's Diary
· For NOVEMBER 1821.
B. CORNWALL. NOVEMBER is, usually, a very gloomy month, yet there are intervals of clear and pleasant weather : the mornings are occasionally sharp, but the hoar frost is soon dissipated by the sun, and a fine open day follows. Mists and fogs sometimes continue for three or four days at a time, and contribute to render this month both dismal and disagreeable; yet fogs and mists have their bright sides. Being nothing but vapours, which the cold air will not suffer to evaporate, they must have body enough to present a gorgeous aspect next the sun. To the eye of an eagle, or whatever other eyes there may be to look down upon them, they must appear like masses of cloudy gold. In fact, they are but clouds unrisen. The city of London, in this month, is often literally a city in the clouds. Its inhabitants walk through the same airy heaps, which, at other times, float far over their heads in the sky, or minister with glorious faces to the setting sun.
We do not say, that any one can hold a fire in his hand,'by thinking on a fine snnset; or that sheer imagination of any sort can make it a very agreeable thing to feel as if one's body were wrapped round with cold wet paper; much less to flounder through gutters, or run against posts. But the mind can often help itself with agreeable images against disagreeable ones; or pitch itself round to the best sides and aspects of them. The solid and fiery ball of the sun, stuck, as it were, in the thick foggy atmosphere; the moon just winning her way through
it, into beams; nay, the very candles and gas-lights in the shop windows of a misty evening,_all have, in our eyes, their agreeable varieties of contrast to the surrounding haze.
The poets have, in numberless passages, done justice to these our melancholy visitors. Examples might be produced from Homer, Virgil, Milton and others; we can only find a place for the following from SPENSER. It is a scene thickly beset with horror. Sir Guyon, in the course of his voyage through the perilous sea, wishes to stop and bear the Syrens; but the Palmer, his companion, dissuades him;
When suddenly a grosse fog over spred
That all things one, and one as nothing was,
Thereat they greatly were dismayd, ne wist
And with theyr wicked wings them oft did smight,
Even all the nation of unfortunate
The whistler shrill, that whoso heares doth dy:
All these, and all that els does horror breed,
* See an ingenious Paper on Mists and Fogs' in “ The Indicator,' No. viii, pp. 58-60.
Whether November be gloomy or fine should be immaterial to the reflecting mind; we must not suffer our happiness to depend on the state of the weather: a much smaller portion of this grand elixir vite is to be attributed to climate than is generally imagined. Under all climates and seasons, man is the cause of his own disappointments and vexations. Not the circumstances that surround him, whether he be placed among the fervent plains of India, the sandy deserts of Arabia, the temperate vales of Europe, or the snow-clad regions of the Poles, are to blame: man is not, therefore, either happy, or unhappy. Whether he enjoy the perpetual spring of Quito, the verdant summer of BRITAIN, the rich autumn of Italy, or the winter the long-long winter of Lapland, and the Arctic circle; they are all equally indifferent to his real happiness". : "The partiality for our native country,' it has been well observed by a lively writer, was certainly given us by nature, to prevent rambling, the effect of an ambitious thirst after knowledge, which we are formed to enjoy. All we get by it is a fruitless desire of mixing the different pleasures and conveniences which are given to the different parts of the world, and cannot meet in any one of them. After having read all that is to be found in the languages I am mistress of, and having decayed my sight by midnight studies, I envy the easy peace of mind of a ruddy milkmaid, who, undisturbed by doubt, hears the sermon with humility every Sunday, not having confounded the sentiments of natural duty in her head by the vain enquiries of the schools, who may be more learned, yet, after all, must remain as ignorant. And, after having seen part of Asia and Africa, and almost made the tour of Europe, I think the HONEST ENG
"See observations on the influence of the weather on the mind, with a poetical illustration, in our last volume, pp. 288-290..
? Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in her Letters, No. lii.
LISH SQUIRE more happy, who verily believes the Greek wines less delicious than March beer; that the African fruits have not so fine a flavour as golden pippins; that the becafigas of Italy are not so well tasted as a rump of beef, and that, in short, there is no perfect enjoyment of this life, out of OLD ENGLAND.'
Hail, favoured island ! happy region, hail !
Lo! from the depth of many a yawning mine
The valued ore, from whence, Britannia, thou
But the glad muse, from subterranean caves
Thon to the dyer's tinging cauldron giv'st
Grateful and salutary spring the plants
DODSLEY. The naturalist, who lately contemplated the trees and shrubs in all their beauty of outline, foliage, blossoms, colours, and lights and shadows, must now contemplate them in their ramifications, sprays, buds, and barks, in which he will still find abundance of beauty and wonder. Thus, we admire the symmetry of form, the sparkling eye, the blooming cheek, and the curling lock, in the human, especially
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