Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/The months: November
One of the grand distinctions between townspeople and country-people is that townsfolk have a positive dislike of certain seasons of the year, while rural folk never dream of such a thing. The familiar abuse of the month of November comes from Londoners mainly; and, for the rest, it may be traced to dwellers in streets. They have not opportunity in the short days to get into the country, and see what the woods are like, or even the highways, during the month which connects autumn and winter. People who ride, and have spirit enough to leave the sloppy streets, and go forth from under the low-hanging fog and smoke which hide the top of the church-spire, will always bear testimony to the rewards which the courageous walker gathers from rural objects in November as in every other month. Squires, farmers, and labourers, ought to know most of the inconveniences and irksomeness of bad weather and short days; yet it does not occur to them to hate the month on account of these things; it has its own advantages and pleasures, and for these the country population is not ungrateful.
We have got rid of the old prejudice about November being favourable to suicide. Our modern registration has proved to us that that imputation is false; the number of suicides in November being less than in almost any month of the year. When the notion grew up, men were not such good physiologists as they are now. They were not aware that suicide does not ensue from low spirits alone, but from a state of brain which may occasion low spirits, but is quite distinct from them. There are seasons of the year which, by affecting the circulation, and consequently the digestive and nervous systems, provoke to suicide much more than gloomy weather and short days can do. There is less self-murder in this month than in some of the brightest of the year.
The gloom in London is certainly both inconvenient and dispiriting. I do not remember that I cared much about it when I lived there: but now, when on occasion I alight from the train on a November morning, and find the railway officials attended everywhere by a cloud of their own breath, and poking about with a lantern, or appearing and disappearing in a yellow fog, I do wonder how half a million of families in London streets can keep up their cheerfulness. In the shops, indeed, the people behind the counter are smiling, as usual, amidst the gaslights which are burning on till noon. The most anxious persons visible are perhaps the cab and omnibus drivers, who have, in addition to the regular care of driving, to peer forward into the fog, in blind apprehension of what may be coming. There is something dismal in reading or working by lamplight at home at midday, or in poring over one’s book at the window to avoid the necessity. If the fog should at length suddenly clear off, and show the parks overhung by the pale blue sky of autumn, and their almost leafless trees touched by the level rays of the setting sun, the Londoner may form some idea of what November is in the country.
We have mists in the mornings, of course; and the girls come in from their early morning walk, exhilarated by the exercise, but without having seen anything beyond the width of the road, or the height of their own heads. While we are at breakfast, we see the fog becoming whiter and thinner, till it breaks into portions, and begins to open and rise. Here we see the profile of a tree, and there a whole shrub with some marigold or lingering dahlia beside it. Then a pencil of yellow rays makes an emerald path across the grass, and lights up the ivy on the toolhouse wall. Then the clearance goes on rapidly, and the last wreaths are wafted away, to shine like white fleeces in the pale blue sky.
On such days we make sure of our ramble early. We know the value of the first half of the month by our almost invariable experience of the change in the middle of it. We reckon on nothing in the way of weather after Martinmas (the 11th), and we seldom pass the 15th without losing the sunshine.
As for what we see, it is a sort of ripening and extension of what we saw in October. The thrushes and greenfinches are busy among the hips and haws; but the birds’ nests are becoming visible in every hedge, as the winds carry off the last yellow leaves. There, where the little blue or white or brown eggs were so snugly hidden in the foliage, and the henbird sat so close and still, the nest is now exposed to all eyes—perhaps hanging in shreds from the thorns, and deserted. Now and then, if there is a prodigious bustle among the birds at their meal, or an agitation among the fieldfares that have settled down on the fallow beyond, we know what to look for; and there, wheeling or swooping, is the hawk—hungry, and bold accordingly. The small creatures are almost all gone into winter quarters. The fieldmice are snug at home in their larders. We have too much reason to know where the rats are. The squirrels are less and less seen, except in the warmest noon hour. The frogs have gone to bed for the winter in the mud at the bottom of the ponds, and the badger in some hole in the bank, and the hedgehog in some dry hollow. This absence of so many old acquaintance reminds us that we shall see the bat no more this year. It is hanging head downwards from the rafter of some barn or belfry, wrapped in its skinny wing. The snails and slugs have burrowed underground, and there are only two or three moths remaining. The moles are digging nests as fast as their clumsy ways permit. We begin to make much of the robin as he perches on the garden paling of every cottage we pass. He is still somewhat shy; but, before a month is over, he will be at our window, in a very confiding mood.
Some remnants of beauty hang round these cottages still. The Pyracantha makes a bright display of red berries beside the windows; and in the warmest corner, between the porch and the wall, one is sure to see either the last dahlia of the year, or a tall hollyhock. The China rose will show blooms till the snow comes, or after, for we have often seen a bud or bloom drooping under its burden of snow, and even (as I remember happened once) frozen into a glass dish in the drawing-room, and looking in no way the worse for its cold captivity. There is one sunny cottage where we look for trails of the Tropæolum canariense, on the front of the porch, among the ivy, long after it has gone to tatters elsewhere. The greatest profusion I have seen of that beautiful climber was on a porch near Bolton Abbey; and the latest is within a walk of my own house. These precious last flowers of the season endure into November, in sheltered nooks, even when frosts have blackened whole regiments of dahlias by the middle of September in exposed situations, in the same way that a tree may offer a theme to a moralising Lake poet, weeks after townsfolk suppose it a settled matter that every leaf in England that can fall has fallen. The late tourist who thinks October, and on into November, the best time for the dales, knows what it is to come upon one of those nooks in Borrowdale, or on the side of Scawfell, in which the wind seems never to stir, and where the birch or the ash or sycamore retains its leaves till something happens to push them off. The voices and the tread of travellers may do it; so the artist begs them to pass on quietly, and leave him to sketch the form and seize the colouring, and put the remarkable date below.
My girls have not admitted that the sketching season is over. They want to study the ramifications of the wood, knowing that without this they can no more draw trees than the figure-painter can draw his personages without having studied the anatomy of the human frame. One object in our noon walks, therefore, is to find the best hedgerow timber, and the finest single trees and groups that the woods afford. There are snug lanes and warm woodpaths where one may sit still for half an hour with impunity. Yet, how the shelter of the woods is gone! And with it, how much of their motion! And how the sound is changed! When the trees were in full leaf, opposing large masses to the winds, and swaying before the pressure with a sweeping roar, the hoarse tumult was wholly unlike the vibrating rise and fall of sound occasioned by the passage of the winds through unbending trees. It takes a much stronger gust to shake the forest trees now than in midsummer; and the music is less like the sweeping waves upon a shingly beach than the sea-organ which thrills one’s heartstrings when a squall overtakes a tight-rigged ship in the Atlantic. Pinewoods alone are constant to their winter music throughout the year. Every breeze that touches them strongly enough in any season wakens up millions of fairy harps, which, united, set the air trembling with the most moving harmony that Nature affords. Except in the north of Scotland, there is scarcely enough of pine forest for us to understand what this music may amount to; but travellers in the Carolinas or in Canada, or in Norway, or in the Baltic provinces of Russia, will bear out all that poets can say of the harp music of Nature’s orchestra.
While one daughter makes a study of a bare ash (for the oak she must wait till the spring buds push off the crisp russet leaves), the other dashes down upon paper the colouring of an ivy-clad trunk of an elm. It is, to be sure, a wonderful picture—the vivid green of the ivy leaf seen from behind, and the glitter of its front surface; the various browns of the stem; the russet fern growing out of the emerald moss in the fork; the grey tufts of withered weeds, and the red and yellow ground—these make a gay picture of gloomy November. The yew is another capital subject; but it is one of the commonest—its berries in relief against the dark foliage tempting the brush of the young artist as irresistibly as the beaks of hungry birds.
The most picturesque figure we meet in these rambles is, beyond all question, the ratcatcher. Jane has never quite got over the start given her by one of the brotherhood one afternoon, when, in the remotest part of a green lane, she was sitting wholly engrossed with her sketch. A heavy finger on her arm made her look up; and there stood the tall, brawny old fellow, looking down upon her with an exceedingly disagreeable grin. He had come up so softly on the grass, and had kept his dog so quiet, that he was like an apparition. She hoped he would pass on: but he had evidently no such intention. He pulled out of a dozen pockets as many rats, bloody about the muzzles, and opened out his store of gossip of the neighbourhood, laying his finger on her arm at every emphatic point. Her pencils were soon put by, and she was on her way to the nearest end of the lane, her new friend turning back with her, as if for the pleasure of conversation. She walked as fast as her beating heart would allow, while he, with his swinging stride, was perpetually on the point of getting before her. How she wished he would go forward! But he wanted to learn from her who lived here or there, and whether there were only ladies in yonder house, and whether the gentlemen in another were travelling or at home. I suspect he was amusing himself with the supposed fears of a young lady living in a lone house; for she evaded all his attempts to learn where she lived. She made a call in the village to escape him; but, just as she was turning in at the home gate in the dusk, her picturesque friend appeared at her elbow—wallet, dog, broad-brimmed, crooked hat and all, with rats on his arm and a straw in his mouth. He sent by her his compliments to me, and he would call tomorrow to see if I wanted his skill. He did call, and we had the strange scene of the driving of the rats from out of stack and barn; and also, I believe, the ordinary conclusion—of a sly reinstatement of a pair or two, to make work for a future occasion.
This is the worst season of the year for the nerves of timorous people living in the country. The refuse of the hop-picking class, and of the imported reapers, the intemperate and unthrifty, desperate at meeting winter without resources, are dangerous, if at all, in these dark long nights, when fogs shroud evil-doers. It was in this month that a tenant of mine, living in the midst of his fields, far away from any acquaintance that he could depend upon, entertained a very remarkable guest for an hour one night. His wife is subject to embarrassing visits from sturdy beggars when he is known to be absent; and, as he has had experience enough of vagrants, sleeping in his hay or among his pigs, to have formed habits of great caution, he looks well to the bolts of his hay-house window, not relishing the idea of finding the ashes of a pipe, and the marks of men’s figures on the hay in the morning; and he admits no strangers at night, except to an outhouse which contains nothing combustible but straw to lie on. One evening, a woman uncommonly tall, with a baby under her cloak, begged for shelter,—mere shelter, as she had bread with her. She was shown the outhouse, and professed herself grateful. When the farmer and his wife were moving to go up to bed, and the one servant was already asleep in her closet which opened upon the kitchen, the woman knocked. She wanted nothing that would give any trouble; merely to be allowed to lie down before the fire till the morning, when she would be off at daybreak. The farmer did not much like it, nor did his wife; but the flood of a mother’s eloquence about her baby’s need of warmth overwhelmed them. They let her come in, and make herself a bed of the matting on the floor. An hour after, the servant was awakened by a slight sound, and saw, through the crevice of her door, the tall woman get up, throw her baby down on the brick-floor with astounding violence, strip off cloak and petticoat, and appear as an armed man. He never once looked towards the closet, having no idea of any one being there, but softly drew back the bolts of the door, stepped out, and began a low whistle. Quick as thought the girl was after him, shut and bolted the door; and alarmed her master. It would have been too rash to follow the guest: so there was a popping of guns from the windows, and a lighting up of the house. The cloak was kept with care, as possible evidence. The baby was a bunch of straw.
Far worse than the burglary which is the dread of lone households, is the incendiarism which has sprung up in modern times. Rick-burning was scarcely heard of in the old days of tinder-box and dark lantern. It became a fashionable crime thirty years ago: and we have never since felt so safe as we were before. I well remember the November in which the practice had become a nightly one in the agricultural counties. I was an active and zealous lad at that time, delighted to carry out my father’s pleasure as a magistrate, and never tired of cantering about the district, with watch and ward, hints to the magistrates, and news of suspicious appearances. Nothing could induce me to go to bed till I had accompanied my father and the servants through our own and neighbouring stackyards, searching for skulks, wires, vitriol, lucifers, phosphorus, and all abnormal appearances. I was up and looking out, several times in the night: and I once saw the actual kindling of the fire, not many yards off. It was about one in the morning. I had looked and listened for some time, and was just about to turn from the window when I observed a tiny blue spark,—I could not tell exactly where: for it was pitch dark everywhere else. In a moment, before I could think or move, the blue flame ran along the ridge of a stack, and spread over it; and then burst out into a yellow blaze. We were on the spot in the shortest possible time. I stumbled over a wire: but we found nobody, and could make no impression on the fire. The insurance offices have never liked farmers’ custom since, high as were the terms offered for the insurance of farm products and stock; and tramps have sunk lower than ever in rural opinion.
Nobody can wonder at this who considers what the diffusion of lucifer matches now is, and how impossible it is to teach caution to ignorant and barbaric people. How many villages are there in which lucifers are kept out of the reach of children? We read occasionally of infants dying from sucking lucifers. Arrived at the next stage, that of delight at making a flame, children will put forth all their little cunning and strength to get hold of a box of matches. This way happened the great Woodford fire, in August of last year, which destroyed food to the amount of many thousand pounds:—dairy-houses and stables, stores of agricultural implements, coach-houses, farm-house, and a row of cottages. This way happened the great Willingham fire, in September of last year, when a hamlet of cottages, a farm and its produce, and property worth 10,000l. were destroyed by the folly of a child, who struck a lucifer-match for sport, and threw it down among the straw of a stackyard. Thus happen the fires which follow the movements of tramps, who are like the children for recklessness. They lie down on straw to smoke themselves to sleep, and drop the pipe when they begin to snore. Having crept into the hay for the night, they indulge in a pipe at daybreak, and start without looking whether they have dropped any hot ashes. If I admitted November to be a gloomy month, it would be on the ground of rural incendiarism, more than any other. In truth, I have seen too much of it; and I doubt whether all the efforts of my family and neighbours are of much avail in lessening the danger. We set an example of dispersing our produce over our land, instead of collecting it into yards where every stack almost touches its neighbour; and of keeping a good supply of water, and wet mortar always accessible; and of taking the same care of lucifer matches that we should of poison; and of inspiring children with a wholesome awe of striking fire. Still, we often see a baby clutching at the matches which boys of five or seven are flourishing about, without regard to time or place. With fire insurance offices losing their profits by the act of one five-year-old child, one would think the case pretty clear and strong; yet there is no village which has not a soft, slatternly mother, or a reckless father, who will leave everything to the chance of their children doing no mischief.
While this danger has increased, another has died out. There will hardly be any more fires from the old Powder-plot. It was a serious grievance,—that 5th of November celebration,—in all the country towns and villages, up to a few years ago. The farmer had perhaps no greater trial of temper throughout the year; and the shop-keeper and country-gentleman required all their amiability to get through the first week in November. I am speaking of the Protestant citizens. As for the Catholics, they must have been saints to bear it. Every dry branch that could be abstracted from any tree; every gate that could be got off its hinges; hurdles from the fold, benches from the park; any stray stool, or shutter, or crate, or half-door from a shop; hen coops, knife-boards, pails, washing-tubs,—whatever could be got hold of that would burn, was sure to disappear, and be no more seen till it was detected flaming away in the middle of the bonfire.
The Protestant washerwoman and grocer and farmer, were to be pitied; but how can the wrongs of the Catholic squire and his schoolmaster, and agents, be described! They were despoiled of their property, which was burned before their faces in insult to their religion. Their neighbours took this to heart some time before the celebration was generally discountenanced; and we, for our part, abolished Guy and all his works several years since. As the rustics and the children did not know what they meant by their Guy, there was no making them understand why he should come to an end to their detriment; and to secure the neighbourhood against discontent, and against “bone fires” on the sly, we turned the 5th of November into a Thanksgiving Day, something like that of New England. Everybody gives liberally, under the sense of relief common to Protestants and Catholics. We have a short service in church and chapel in the morning; a dinner for the labourers; wrestling-matches, and a dance in the squire’s big barn. The people who were most at sea about Guy can comprehend a thanksgiving and rejoicing for the fruits of the earth.
In the mountain districts of the country, the 5th of November fires were certainly a pretty sight, kindling and flaming on the crests or spurs of the hills, showing the outlines of the woods, and still glowing red when all the black figures in the front of them were gone home to bed; but there is probably no town in England, and no parish in any county, which does not rejoice that the vindictive service is dropped out of the church ritual, and the insulting triumph over fellow Christians hushed in the better temper which Time brings round.
The other old-fashioned celebration which marks November—Lord Mayor’s Day—is of little interest beyond London; and there everybody knows more about it than any country-cousin can tell. Within nineteen years the day has been distinguished by a truly national interest. As the birthday of the heir to the throne, the 9th of November is welcomed over a far broader area than even the United Kingdom. There are fifty colonies, planted down all over the globe, which have the same interest in the anniversary that we have. Last year, everybody in all those settlements was rejoicing that the Prince had prosperously reached the age of capacity for reigning. In two years more there will be congratulations on the privilege which he shares with every man in the nation,—the attainment of his actual majority. Last year, the blessing was more to the nation than to himself;—we were saved from the danger of a rule by proxy, which can never be insignificant, however (as in this case) improbable. The event of 1862 will be the more important to the Prince, as to be a man among men must ever be the highest privilege to a true man. Meantime, the Lord Mayor’s ancient festival derives new brightness from its implication with the destinies of the Prince of Wales.
As soon as play is done, people have to go to work again. London, called “empty,” up to the close of last month, is reviving,—beginning to give dinners, to attend the theatres, to organise the means of living and enjoying, for the multitude who will flock hither for “the season.” The press feels the load of the new books of the season. The fishmongers are bespeaking ice for their cellars. The shopkeepers are exhibiting furs and warm garments. The milliners are engaging their “hands” for the crushing work of the coming months, before taking their final flight of the year to Paris, to study the fashions. The lawyers are in their haunts again. The parsons mount their pulpits, cured of their special “sore throat” for the time, by having stretched their limbs, instead of their voices, in stout exercise at home and abroad. The physicians, who stole away to avoid becoming patients, have come home openly, and are being fast forgiven by their sick acquaintance for leaving them. On the whole, London may perhaps enjoy setting to work again almost as much as going forth to play.
Townsfolk are much mistaken if they suppose that rural labour relaxes and almost stops because the year is declining. The notion was once true, perhaps. When Bishop Latimer’s father was a farmer, the winter was a stoppage in the life of the husbandman, as it was in that of the fisherman. Though our ancestors ate much more fish than we do, the fishermen laid up their boats and gear in November, and settled down in their chimney-corner for the winter;—not wholly at play, perhaps, for they could make nets and prepare lines; but not dreaming of braving wind and weather in their calling. This must have been, I should think, after the return shoals of herrings—the November shoals—had gone by.
It was much the same in the farm-houses when the great work of killing and salting meat for the coming half-year was achieved. There was little to do in the farmyards and stalls in times when cattle could not be kept alive through the winter, for want of fodder. The couple of cows, a team of horses, for which hay and straw might be mustered, were about all that had to be tended,—except, of course, poultry. The other beasts—kine and swine—were disposed of in salting-tubs; and when the beef and bacon were under smoke or in the rack, there was little more to do, unless with the flail.
So much the more was done by the fire-side, where a hundred things were made which we go to shops for now.
There may be more of these domestic handicrafts in farm-houses even yet than is supposed by people who live among shops. Let us see what the November work is in old-fashioned rural districts.
St. Martin’s summer is a marked season there;—the few days of fine, calm weather which usually occur about Martinmas. It is a mistake to confound this with “the Indian summer” of North America, as is so often done. We often read of “the Indian summer” as consisting of weeks of weather like our Martinmas; whereas, as everybody knows who has passed a “fall” in the United States, the Indian summer lasts three or four days, and no more.
The cause of the phenomenon is not understood, remarkable as are the appearances. The stillness of the atmosphere is profound. The nut falling in the wood, the tread of the squirrel on the dead leaves, the splash of the wild-duck in the pool, seem like loud interruptions of the silence of Nature. The sunshine is mild,—even dim; for a haze hangs over the whole country, so marked that the supposition was, to the last moment, entertained that the fires of the Indians in the forest and prairies were the cause of the whole phenomenon. It was wonderful that it should occur, every year, quite punctually, and last four days; but this was the popular explanation of the warmth and the haze till the Indians were gone far away, and the apparent smoke hung everywhere, as before, in the absence of fires to account for it.
The inhabitants do not use their Indian summer as we do our St. Martin’s. They give themselves up to the delicious languor that it induces, and loiter in the low and late sunshine, seeing the golden cob fall from the graceful maize-plant, and watching the latest flights of wild-fowl in the upper air, and catching the red and yellow leaves as they flutter to the ground. We, in our precious ten days of fine weather, have much to do.
The most important work is planting. Our woodmen and gardeners say that they will answer for ninety-nine trees in a hundred (in ordinary seasons), planted at Martinmas, and for not one planted after Candlemas. Hollies, so difficult to move to their satisfaction, must above all be humoured in their requirements. So we meet waggons, and carts, and wheelbarrows, laden with young trees; and we hear the spade in new plantations, and in gardens, and on lawns, and are tempted on all hands by the beguiling spectacle of planting. We all like to lend a hand, either in shifting the new tree to its place, upholding it, disposing or sousing the roots, earthing it up with dry soil, or staking it, to keep it upright under any
attack of wind. Then, the felling must get on while the weather favours; and it is important to build up the wood stacks, or secure the peat, before the rains come. The sheep must be turned out upon the turnips, and the ewes sheltered, and the bees brought in under winter cover. Lawns and fine pastures must be manured now, or half the benefit will be lost; so, while the ant-hills are levelled, and every drain and channel in the meadows is cleared out, the dung-cart and the load of crushed bones are coming along the lanes. Every foot of ground vacated by any garden crop must be trenched before wet weather; and all made manure must be not the less attended to. All the leaves that can be collected by the women and children living within hail must be heaped up in some place where they can be properly treated for next year’s manuring: and all compost, or material intended for it, must be saved from being washed away by the expected rains.
Last month’s rains having set the water-mills going, and the winter demands for straw being always severe, the threshing does not wait for bad weather, and the grain goes to the mill as soon as somebody tells that the great wheel is turning. The gardeners are giving the final pruning to the fruit-trees; and the households who love their orchard are clearing the stems of moss, and washing or coating them with lime and soot. There are early peas to be sown; and there is celery to be earthed up, and broccoli to be preserved; and dahlia roots must be taken up, and the beds deeply dug and manured. If we wish to open the new year with the promise of hyacinths, we must pot them now, and put them into the dark for six weeks, with a slight watering once a fortnight. By New Year’s Day they will be sprouting well, and before January is over they will be in bloom. This seems to be plentiful occupation for the few short days of Saint Martin’s summer, which is also far from being faithful in its attendance. But there is one more work which ought not to be delayed.
There are few neighbourhoods in which the labourers are so certain of subsistence during the winter as not to need the special care of the richer residents. The ordinary, and the best, way of exercising this care is by providing seasonable work. Now, therefore, is the time when engineers and landscape gardeners, or landowners who have a taste of their own, or think they have, are busy in settling the details of alterations and improvements in public and private property. November usually sees the beginning of changes and embellishments which will benefit generations to come. Pleasant as it is to watch old women and children busy in sweeping and clearing the grass-plats and walks, it is more so to see the stout labourers shouldering their tools, in the dawn of morning, cheerful in the prospect of a winter’s employment on the new drive in the park, or the squire’s new plantation, or the cut which is to make road or stream more available for public use. Within the house there is as much for busy hands to do. When the cry of the stag is heard from the deer-park, and the gobble of the turkeys, and the screech of the peacock from the paddock and lawn, the dismal last squeal of the porker comes from the piggery. It is the season of sausage-making and black-puddings (for those who like them), and pork pies (which everybody likes), and for the curing of hams and bacon. The cook’s office is rather a dignified one this month. There are the very last preserves—apple jelly, for one—to be made: and oysters in their many forms occupy her; and hare, whether in soup, or boned, or jugged; and geese, with the concomitant giblet-pie or soup; and the delicious grayling which so many of our rivers yield; and the sprats which date from Lord Mayor’s Day, and for the sake of which gentlemen will dine or sup in the kitchen, that the frying-pan may be within a second of their plates. These are among the dainties of November.
After these busy short days there are long evenings which are not idle. In cottages and in farmhouse kitchens, in old-fashioned districts, men are as busy as the women. They are mending their tools, or cobbling their shoes, or patching their waistcoats, or making tackle and traps for fish and rabbits, or weaving baskets or bee-hives, or making netting of wire or twine, or splitting rods for hoops; or, where there is room, making hurdles or hen-coops. This is a field where ingenuity and dexterity are sure to be duly honoured.
In other sitting-rooms, in parlours, and drawing-rooms, what is doing meanwhile?
It is a season for entering upon a course of study, of a language, or a science, or a period of history. It is the season for opening the annual domestic Shakspere club; the weekly or fortnightly meeting which brings two or three neighbourly families together to read a play. No summer evening can put down by comparison the charms of the Shakspere club, where there is no constraint, but enjoyments as diversified as the resources of the idol of the night. This is the season for music, and for a dance before bed-time, to send all warm and cheerful to their rest. It is also the season of some bitter storms, of gusty days and wild nights, and moaning blasts, and dashing floods. It has its evil and its good, like all the seasons of Nature and human life: but I think I have shown that it is a mere dwelling on the dark side of things to be always talking of this month as “gloomy November.”