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How Spring Came In New England
by [?]

All this is very well; but next morning the newspaper nips these early
buds of sentiment. The telegraph announces, “Twenty feet of snow at
Ogden, on the Pacific Road; winds blowing a gale at Omaha, and snow
still falling; mercury frozen at Duluth; storm-signals at Port Huron.”

Where now are your tree-toads, your young love, your early season?
Before noon it rains, by three o’clock it hails; before night the
bleak storm-cloud of the northwest envelops the sky; a gale is raging,
whirling about a tempest of snow. By morning the snow is drifted in
banks, and two feet deep on a level. Early in the seventeenth century,
Drebbel of Holland invented the weather-glass. Before that, men had
suffered without knowing the degree of their suffering. A century
later, Romer hit upon the idea of using mercury in a thermometer; and
Fahrenheit constructed the instrument which adds a new because distinct
terror to the weather. Science names and registers the ills of life; and
yet it is a gain to know the names and habits of our enemies. It is with
some satisfaction in our knowledge that we say the thermometer marks

In fact, the wild beast called Winter, untamed, has returned, and taken
possession of New England. Nature, giving up her melting mood, has
retired into dumbness and white stagnation. But we are wise. We say it
is better to have it now than later. We have a conceit of understanding

The sun is in alliance with the earth. Between the two the snow is
uncomfortable. Compelled to go, it decides to go suddenly. The first day
there is slush with rain; the second day, mud with hail; the third day
a flood with sunshine. The thermometer declares that the temperature is
delightful. Man shivers and sneezes. His neighbor dies of some disease
newly named by science; but he dies all the same as if it hadn’t been
newly named. Science has not discovered any name that is not fatal.

This is called the breaking-up of winter.

Nature seems for some days to be in doubt, not exactly able to stand
still, not daring to put forth anything tender. Man says that the worst
is over. If he should live a thousand years, he would be deceived every
year. And this is called an age of skepticism. Man never believed in so
many things as now: he never believed so much in himself. As to Nature,
he knows her secrets: he can predict what she will do. He communicates
with the next world by means of an alphabet which he has invented.
He talks with souls at the other end of the spirit-wire. To be sure,
neither of them says anything; but they talk. Is not that something? He
suspends the law of gravitation as to his own body–he has learned how
to evade it–as tyrants suspend the legal writs of habeas corpus. When
Gravitation asks for his body, she cannot have it. He says of himself,
“I am infallible; I am sublime.” He believes all these things. He is
master of the elements. Shakespeare sends him a poem just made, and as
good a poem as the man could write himself. And yet this man–he goes
out of doors without his overcoat, catches cold, and is buried in three
days. “On the 21st of January,” exclaimed Mercier, “all kings felt for
the backs of their necks.” This might be said of all men in New England
in the spring. This is the season that all the poets celebrate. Let us
suppose that once, in Thessaly, there was a genial spring, and there was
a poet who sang of it. All later poets have sung the same song. “Voila
tout!” That is the root of poetry.