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viour; while on the other hand, there is scarcely a more interesting sight in the world than that of a neat, delicate, goodhumoured female, presiding at your breakfast-table, with hands tapering out of her long sleeves, eyes with a touch of Sir Peter Lely in them, and a face set in a little oval frame of muslin tied under the chin, and retaining a certain tinge of the pillow with out it's cloudiness. This is indeed the finishing grace of a fireside, though it is impossible to have it at all times, and perhaps not always politic,----specially for the studious.
From breakfast to dinner, the quantity and quality of enjoy. ment depend very much on the nature of one's concerns; and occupation of any kind, if we pursue it properly, will hinder us. from paying a critical attention to the fireside. It is sufficient, if our employments do not take us away from it, or at least from. the genial warmth of a room which it adorns ;-unless indeed we are enabled to have recourse, to exercise; and in that case, I am not so unjust as to deny that walking or riding has it's merits, and that the general glow they diffuse throughout the frame has something in it extremely pleasurable and encouraging ;--nay, I must not scruple to confess, that without some preparation of this kind, the enjoyment of the fireside, humanly speaking, is not absolutely perfect; as I have latterly been convinced by a variety of incontestible arguments in the shape of headaches, rheumatisms, mote-haunted eyes, and other logical appeals to one's feelings. which are in great use with physicians.-Supposing therefore the morning to be passed, and the dae portion of exercise to have been taken, the Firesider fixes rather an early hour for dinner, particularly in the winter-time; for he has not only been early at breakfast, but there are two luxurious intervals to enjoy bea tween dinner and the time of candles,--one that supposes a party round the fire with their wine and fruit,--the other, the hour of twilight, of which it has been reasonably doubted whether it is not the most luxurious point of time which a fireside can present: -but opinions will naturally be divided on this as on all other subjects, and every degree of pleasure depends upon so many contingencies and upon such a variety of associations induced by habit and opinion, that I should be as unwilling as I am unable to decide on the inatter. This however is certain, that no true Firesider can dislike an hour so composing to his thoughts and so cherishing to his whole faculties; and it is equally certain, that þe will be little inclined to protract the dinner beyond what he can help, for if ever a fireside becomes unpleasant, it is during that gross and pernicious prolongation of eating and drinking, to which this latter age has given itself up, and which threatens to make the rising generation regard a meal of repletion as the ultimatum of enjoyment. The inconvenience to which I allude is VOL. II, NO. IV.
owing to the way in which we sit at dinner, for the persons who have their backs to the fire are liable to be scorched, while at the same time they render the persons opposite them liable to be frozen; so that the fire becomes uncomfortable to the former and tantalizing to the latter; and tlrus three evils are produced, of a most absurd and scandalous nature ;-in the first place, the fireside loses a degree of it's character, and awakens feelings the very teverse of what it should ; secondly, the position of the back towards it is a negleet and affront, which it becomes it to resent; and finally, it's beauties, it's proffered kindness, and it's sprightly social effect, are at once cut off from the company by the inter.' position of those invidious and idle surfaces, called screens.
This abuse is the more ridiculous, inasmuch as the remedy is so easy; for we have nothing to do but to use semicircular dining-tables, with the base unoccupied towards the fireplace, and the whole annoyance vanishes at once; the master or mistress might preside in the middle, as was the custom with the Romans, and thus propriety would be observed, while every body had the sight and benefit of the fire ;--not to mention, that by this fashion, the table might be brought nearer to it,--that the servants would have better access to the dishes -- and that screens, if at all necessary, might be turned to better purpose as a general enclosure instead of a separation. But I hasten from dinner, accord. ing to notice; and cannot but observe, that if you have a small set of visitors, who enter into your feelings on this head, there is no movement so pleasant as a general one from the table to the fireside, each person taking his glass with him, and a small, slimlegged table being introduced into the circle for the purpose of holding the wine, and perhaps a poet or two, a glee-book, or a lute. If this practice should become general among those who know how to enjoy luxuries in such temperance as not to destroy conversation, it would soon gain for us another social advantage by putting an end to the barbarous custom of sending away ladies after dinner,-a gross violation of those chivalrous graces of life, for which modern times are so highly indebted to the per. sons whom they are pleased to term Gothic. And here I might digress, with no great impropriety, to shew the snug notions that were entertained by the knights and damsels of old in all parti. culars relating to domestic enjoyment, especially in the article of mixed company ;-bat I must not quit the fireside, and will only observe, that as the ladies formed its chief ornament, stituted it's most familiar delight.
so they cou
The minstralrie, the service at the feste,
What ladies fairest ben, or best dancing,
The word snúg however reminds me, that amidst all the languages ancient and modern, it belongs exclusively to our own; and that nothing but a want of ideas suggested by thát soul-wrapping epithet, could have induced certain frigid connoisseurs to tax our climate with want of genius,--supposing forsooth, that because we have not the sunshine of the Southern countries, we have no other warmth for our veins, and that because our skies are not hot enough to keep us in doors, we have no excursiveness of wit and range of imagination. It seems to me that a great deal of good argument in refutation of these calumnies has been wasted upon Monsieur du Bos and the Herrn Winckellman,—the one a narrow-minded, pedantic Frenchman, to whom the freedom of our genius was incomprehensible,-the other an Italianized German, who being suddenly transported into the sunshine, began frisking about with unwieldy vivacity, and concluded that nobody could be great or bewitching out of the pale of his advantages. Milton, it is true, in his Paradise Lost, expresses an injudicious apprehension lest
An age too late, or cold Climate, or years, damp his intended wing ; but the very complaint which foreign critics bring against him as well as Shakspeare, is that his wing was not damped enough, that it was too daring and unsubdued; and he not only avenges himself nobly of his fears by a flight beyond all Italian poetry, but shews like the rest of his countrymen that he could turn the coldness of his climate into a new species of inspiration, as I shall presently make manifest. Not to mention however that the Greeks and Romans, Ilomer in particular, saw a great deal worse weather than these critics would have us imagine, the question is, would the Poets themselves have thought as they did ? Would Tyrtæus, the singer of patriotism, have complained of being an Englishman? Would Virgil, who delighted in husbandry, and whose first wish was to be a philosopher, have complained of living in our pastures and being the countryman of Newton? Would Homer, the observer of character, the panegyrist of frecdom, the painter of storms, of landscapes, and of domestic tendernessmaye, and the lover of snug houseroom and a good dinner,—would he have complained of our humours, of our lia berty, of our shifting skies, of our ever-green fields, our conjugal
happiness, happiness, our firesides, and our hospitality? I only wish the reader and I had bim at this party of our's after dinner, with à lyre on his knee, and a goblet, as he says, to drink as he pleased, -Piein, hote thumos anogoi.
Odyss. lib. viii, , 70. I am much mistaken if our blazing fire and our freedom of speech would not give him a warmer inspiration than ever he felt in the person of Demodocus, even though placed on a lofty seat and regaled with slices of brawn from a prince's table. The ancients, in fact, were by no means deficient in enthusiasm at sight of a good fire; and it is to be presumed, that if they had enjoyed such firesides as ours, they would have acknowledged the advantages which our genius presents in winter, and almost been ready to conclude with old Cleveland that the Sun himself was nothing but
Heaven's coalery :
A coal-pit rampant, or a mine on fame. The ancient hearth was generally in the middle of the room, the ceiling of which let out the smoke; it was supplied with charcoal or faggots; and consisted, sometimes of a brazier or chafing-dish (the focus of the Romans), sometimes of a mere elevation or altar (the e512 or roxaegu of the Greeks). We may easily imagine the smoke and annoyance which this custom must have occasioned, not to mention the bad complexions, which are caught by hanging over a fuming pan, as the faces of the Spanish ladies bear melancholy witness. The stoves however, in use with the countrymen of Mons. du Bos and Winckellmann, are, if possible, still worse, having a dull, suffocating effect, with nothing to recompense the eye. The abhorrence of them which Ariosto expresses in one of his satires, when justifying his refusal to accompany Cardinal d'Este into Germany, he reckons up the miseries of it's winter time, may have led M. Winckellmann to conclude that all the Northern resources against cold were equally intole. rable to an Italian genius; but Count Alfieri, a poet at least as warmly inclined as Ariosto, delighted in England; and the great Romancer himself, in another of his satires, makes a commodious fireplace the climax of his wishes with regard to lodging. In short, what did Horace say, or rather what did he pot say, of the raptures of in-door sociality,Horace, who knew how to enjoy sunshine in all its luxury, and who nevertheless appears to have snatched a finer inspiration from absolute frost and snow? I need not quote all those beautiful little invitations he sent to his acquaintances, telling one of them that a neat room and a sparkJing fire were waiting for him, describing to another the smoke
springing springing out of the roof in curling volumes, and even congratulating his friends in general on the opportunity of enjoyment afforded them hy a stormy day; but to take leave at once of these frigid connoisseurs, hear with what rapture he describes one of those friendly parties, in which he passed his winter even. ings, and which only wanted the finish of our better morality and our patent fireplaces, to resemble the one I am now fancying.
Vides ut alla stet nive candidum
Flumina constiterint acuto.
Thaliarche, merum diotâ.
Compositâ repetantur hora :
Lib. I. Od. 9,
The Roman poet however, though he occasionally boasts of his temperance, is too apt to lose sight of the intellectual part of his