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Midsummer Days And Midsummer Nights
by [?]

I know that the hour of darkness ever dogs our delight, and the shadow of approaching darkness and toil might affront me even now, if I were ungrateful; but I live for the present only. Let grave persons talk about the grand achievements and discoveries that have made this age or that age illustrious; I hold that holidays are the noblest invention of the human mind, and, if any philosopher wants to argue the matter, I flee from his presence, and luxuriate on the yellow sands or amid the keen kisses of the salty waves. I own that Newton’s discoveries were meritorious, and I willingly applaud Mr. George Stephenson, through whose ingenuity we are now whisked to our places of rest with the swiftness of an eagle’s flight. Nevertheless I contend that holidays are the crowning device of modern thought, and I hold that no thesis can be so easily proven as mine. How did our grandfathers take holiday? Alas, the luxury was reserved for the great lords who scoured over the Continent, and for the pursy cits who crawled down to Brighthelmstone! The ordinary Londoner was obliged to endure agonies on board a stuffy Margate hoy, while the people in Northern towns never thought of taking a holiday at all. The marvellous cures wrought by Doctor Ozone were not then known, and the science of holiday-making was in its infancy. The wisdom of our ancestors was decidedly at fault in this matter, and the gout and dyspepsia from which they suffered served them right. Read volumes of old memoirs, and you will find that our forefathers, who are supposed to have been so merry and healthy, suffered from all the ills which grumblers ascribe to struggling civilization. They did not know how to extract pleasure from their midsummer days and midsummer nights; we do, and we are all the better for the grand modern discovery.

Seriously, it is a good thing that we have learned the value of leisure, and, for my own part, I regard the rushing yearly exodus from London, Liverpool, Birmingham, with serene satisfaction. It is a pity that so many English folk persist in leaving their own most lovely land when our scenery and climate are at their best. In too many cases they wear themselves with miserable and harassing journeys when they might be placidly rejoicing in the sweet midsummer days at home. Snarling aesthetes may say what they choose, but England is not half explored yet, and anybody who takes the trouble may find out languorous nooks where life seems always dreamy, and where the tired nerves and brain are unhurt by a single disturbing influence. There are tiny villages dotted here and there on the coast where the flaunting tourist never intrudes, and where the British cad cares not to show his unlovable face. Still, if people like the stuffy Continental hotel and the unspeakable devices of the wily Swiss, they must take their choice. I prefer beloved England; but I wish all joy to those who go far afield.

June, 1886.