Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, March 1850
THE IDLE SCHOOLBOY.
Engraved by T. B. Welch expressly for Graham’s Magazine.
Vol. XXXVI. March, 1850. No. 3.
Table of Contents
Fiction, Literature and Articles
Poetry, Music, and Fashion
|Ballads of the Campaign in Mexico. No. II|
|The Cry of the Forsaken|
|A Midnight Storm in March|
|The Two Worlds|
|The Dying Student|
|To —— In Absence|
|Thou Art Lovelier|
Transcriber’s Notes can be found at the end of this eBook.
Vol. XXXVI. PHILADELPHIA, March, 1850. No. 3.
Spenser finely characterizes this month —
Study March with brows full sternly bent
And armed strongly;
yet he pictures it, as it advances, scattering blessingsaround, calling on the buds to throw aside theirwintry vestments, and come forth to gladden the earthwith their smiles. Such is, in reality, the progress ofthe season. In the early days of the month
“Winter, still lingering on the verge of Spring,
Retires reluctant, and, from time to time,
As it proceeds, however —
“The splendid raiment of the Spring peeps forth
Her universal green, and the clear sky
Delights still more and more the gazing eye,”
and all is joy and gladness. The lark is caroling inthe clear blue vault of heaven; the notes of the blackbirdresound through the yet leafless groves; the robinis again heard from his lofty perch on the branch ofsome tall tree. The waters are dancing in the palesunshine, and every thing looks as if regeneration hadcommenced its work.
A quaint old writer says, “the moneth of Marchwas called by the Saxons Leneth moneth, because thedays did then first begin in length to exceed the nights.And this moneth being by our ancient fathers so calledwhen they received Christianity, and, consequently,therewith the annual Christian custome of fasting,they called their chief season of fasting the fast ofLenet, because of the Lenet moneth, whereon mostpart of this fasting always fell, and hereof it comeththat we now call it Lent.” According to other etymologists,Lenet, or Lent, means Spring; hence,March was literally the Spring month. Spring, mostdelightful of seasons! how beautifully have thy charmsbeen celebrated in undying song, by bards of old fromthe very dawn of literature. With what pleasure dowe look back on thy worshipers of other days—suchas Chaucer, Spenser, Herrick, Ben Jonson, Shakspeare,each speaking of thy beauties out of the fullnessof his heart. But in our admiration of thosewhose memories will ever live in song, let us not forgetthose of our own day; gratitude, admiration andpride prompt our notice of Bryant, our favorite Americanpoet, who thus beautifully apostrophizes this blusteringmonth:
The stormy March is come at last,
With wind and cloud and changing skies:
I hear the rushing of the blast,
That through the snowy valley flies.
Ah! passing few are those who speak,
Wild stormy month, in praise of thee!
Yet though thy winds are loud and bleak,
Thou art a welcome month to me.
For thou to northern lands again
The glad and glorious sun dost bring;
And thou hast joined the gentle train,
And wearest the gentle name of Spring.
And in thy reign of blast and storm
Smiles many a long bright sunny day,
When the changed winds are soft and warm,
And heaven puts on the bloom of May.
Then sing aloud the gushing rills,
And the full springs from frost set free,
That brightly leaping down the hills
Are just set out to meet the sea.
The year’s departing beauty hides
Of wintry storms the sullen threat,
But in thy sternest frown abides
A look of kindly promise yet.
Thou bring’st the hope of those calm skies,
And that soft hue of many showers,
When the wide bloom on earth that lies
Seems of a brighter world than ours.
How graphically does the author of the “FairieQueene” marshal this harbinger of Spring, in the noblemarch of the Seasons —
First lusty Spring, all dight in leaves of floures
That freshly budded, and new blossomes did beare,
In which a thousand birds had built their bowres,
That sweetly sung to call forth paramoures:
And in his hand a javelin he did beare,
And on his head (as fit for warlike stoures)
A guilt-engraven morion he did weare,
That as some did him love, so others did him feare
The great operations of Nature during this monthseem to be, to dry up the superabundant moisture ofFebruary, thereby preventing the roots and seeds fromrotting in the earth, and gradually to bring forward theprocess of evolution in the swelling buds, whilst, atthe same time, by the wholesome severity of thechilling blasts, they are kept from a premature disclosure,which would expose their tender contents to injuryfrom the yet unconfirmed season. Shakspeare inone of his beautiful similies says —
And, like the tyrannous breathing of the north,
Checks all our buds from blowing.
This seeming tyranny, however, is to be regarded asthe most useful discipline; and those years generallyprove most fruitful in which the pleasing appearancesof Spring are the latest.
The sun having now acquired some power, oftenreminds us of the genial influence of Spring, thoughthe naked shrubs and trees still give the landscape thecomfortless appearance of Winter —
“There is a vernal freshness in the air,
A breaking in the sky, full of sweet promise
That the tardy Spring, capricious as she is,
And chary of her favors, will, ere long,
Smile on us in her beauty, and call forth
From slumber long and deep each living thing.
I know it by this warm delicious breeze,
Balmy, yet fresh, the very soul of health—
Of health, of hope, of joy; by these bright beams,
And yonder azure heavens, I know it well.
Soon the pent blossom in the naked spray,
Trained to the sunny wall, shall own her power,
And ope its leaves, tinged like an ocean shell:
Soon shall each bank which fronts the southern sky,
And tangled wood, and quiet sheltered nook,
Be gemm’d with countless flowers—earth’s living stars.”
Mild, pleasant weather in March is seldom, however,of long duration. In Europe, where the seasonsare much more forward than they are with us, theyhave an old proverb—“A peck of March dust is wortha king’s ransom.” For as soon as a few dry dayshave made the land fit for working, the farmer goes tothe plough, and, if the fair weather continues, proceedsto sowing oats and barley, though this business is seldomfinished till the next month.
“A strange commotion,” observes a celebrated Englishwriter, “may be seen and heard at this seasonamong the winged creatures, portending momentousmatters. The lark is high up in the cold air beforedaylight, and his chosen mistress is listening to himamong the dank grass, with the dew still upon her unshakenwing. The robin, too, has left off, for a briefseason, his low, plaintive piping, which, it must beconfessed, was poured forth for his own exclusivesatisfaction, and, reckoning on his spruce looks andsparkling eyes, issues his quick, peremptory love-callin a somewhat ungallant and husband-like manner.
“The sparrows who have lately been skulkingsilently about from tree to tree, with ruffled plumesand drooping wings, now spruce themselves up, tillthey do not look half their former size, and if it werenot pairing time, one might fancy there was more ofwar than of love in their noisy squabblings.” Amongother indications of the advancing season, says Gray —
New born lambs in rustic dance
Frisking ply their nimble feet,
Forgetful of their wintry trance
The birds his presence greet;
But chief the sky-lark warbles high
His trembling, thrilling ecstasy,
And lessening from the dazzled sight,
Melts into air and liquid light.
Nothing, at this season, is a more pleasing spectaclethan the sporting of the young lambs, most of whichare yeaned this month, and are, if the weather issevere, protected in covered sheds, till the mildness ofthe season permits them to venture abroad. Dyer, inhis poem of “The Fleece,” gives a very natural andbeautiful description of this circumstance:
Spread around thy tend’rest diligence
In ploughing spring-time, when the new-dropt lamb,
Tottering with weakness by his mother’s side,
Feels the fresh world about him, and each thorn,
Hillock, or furrow, trips his feeble feet;
Oh! guard his meek, sweet innocence from all
The innum’rous ills that rush around his life!
Mark the quick kite,