Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXXVI, No. 4, April 1850
MIRROR OF BEAUTY.
Engraved expressly for Graham’s Magazine.
Vol. XXXVI. April, 1850. No. 4.
Table of Contents
Fiction, Literature and Articles
Poetry, Music, and Fashion
|Ballads of the Campaign in Mexico. No. III.|
|Out of Doors|
|Miss Dix, The Philanthropist|
|Invocation to Sleep|
|The Song of the Axe|
|The Shawl Designer Salaville|
|Blanche and Lisette|
Transcriber’s Notes can be found at the end of this eBook.
Vol. XXXVI. PHILADELPHIA, April, 1850. No. 4.
“The shower is past, the birds renew their songs,
And sweetly through its tears the landscape smiles.”
“April,” says the author of the “Fairie Queene,”“is Spring—the juvenile of the months, and the mostfeminine—never knowing her own mind for a day together.Fickle as a fond maiden with her first lover;toying it with the young sun till he withdraws hisbeams from her, and then weeping till she gets themback again.” April is frequently a very sweet andgenial month, partly because it ushers in the May, andpartly for its own sake. It is to May and June what“sweet fifteen,” in the age of woman, is to the passion-strickeneighteen, and perfect two-and-twenty. It isto the confirmed Summer, what the previous hope ofjoy is to the full fruition—what the boyish dream oflove is to love itself. It is, indeed, the month of promises—andwhat are twenty performances comparedwith one promise? April, then, is worth two Mays,because it tells tales of May in every sigh that itbreathes, and every tear that it lets fall. It is the harbinger,the herald, the promise, the prophecy, the foretasteof all the beauties that are to follow it—of all andmore—of all the delights of Summer, and all the“pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious Autumn.”It is fraught with beauties itself, which no other monthcan bring before us.
“When proud, pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing.”
It is one sweet alternation of smiles, and sighs, andtears—and tears, and sighs, and smiles—till all is consummatedat last in the open laughter of May.
April weather is proverbial for a mixture of thebright and gloomy. The pleasantness of the sunshinydays, with the delightful view of fresh greens andnewly opened flowers, is unequaled; but they are frequentlyovercast with clouds, and chilled by rough,wintry blasts. This month, the most perfect imageof Spring —
“Looks beautiful as when an infant is waking
From its slumbers;”
and the vicissitudes of warm gleams of sunshine andgentle showers, have the most powerful effects inhastening the universal springing of vegetation,whence the season derives its appellation.
The influence of the equinoctial storms frequentlyprevailing, causes much unpleasant weather; itsopening is—
“Mindful of disaster past,
And shrinking at the northern blast,
The sleety storm returning still,
The morning hoar, the evening chill:
Reluctant comes the timid Spring,
Scarce a bee, with airy ring,
Murmurs the blossomed boughs around
That clothe the garden’s southern bound;
Scarce a sickly, straggling flower
Decks the rough castle’s rifted tower;
Scarce the hardy ivy peeps
From the dark dell’s entangled steeps,
Fringing the forests devious edge,
Half-robed, appears the privet hedge,
Or to the distant eye displays,
Weakly green, its budding sprays.”
An ancient writer beautifully describes one of thosebright, transient showers which prevail at this season.
Away to that sunny nook, for the thick shower
Rushes on strikingly: ay, now it comes,
Glancing about the leaves with its first dips,
Like snatches of faint music. Joyous bird,
It mingles with thy song, and beats soft time
To thy warbling notes. Now it louder falls,
Pattering, like the far voice of leaping rills;
And now it breaks upon the shrinking clumps
With a crash of many sounds; the thrush is still,
There are sweet scents around us; the flow’ret hides,
On that green bank, beneath the leaves;
The earth is grateful to the teeming clouds,
And yields a sudden freshness to their kisses.
And now the shower slopes to the warm west,
Leaving a dewy track; and see, the big drops,
Like falling pearls, glisten in the sunny mist.
The air is clear again, and the far woods
Shine out in their early green. Let’s onward, then,
For the first blossoms peep about the path;
The lambs are nibbling the short, dripping grass,
And the birds are on the bushes.
The month of April not unfrequently introduces usto the chimney or house-swallow, known by its long,forked tail and red breast. At first, here and thereonly one appears glancing quickly by us, as if scarcelyable to endure the cold, which Warton beautifullydescribes —
The swallow for a moment seen,
Skims in haste the village green.
But in a few days their number is much increased,and they sport with seeming pleasure in the warmsunshine.
Along the surface of the winding stream,
Pursuing every turn, gay swallows skim,
Or round the borders of the spacious lawn,
Fly in repeated circles, rising o’er
Hillock and fence with motion serpentine,
Easy and light. One snatches from the ground
A downy feather, and then upward springs,
Followed by others, but oft drops it soon,
In playful mood, or from too slight a hold,
When all at once dart at the falling prize.
As these birds live on insects, their appearance isa certain proof that some of this minute tribe of animalshave ventured from their winter abodes.
Thomson thus describes this busy month among thefeathered tribes —
Some to the holly-hedge
Nestling repair, and to the thicket some;
Some to the rude protection of the thorn
Commit their feeble offspring. The cleft tree
Offers its kind concealment to a few,
Their food its insects, and its moss their nests.
Others apart, far in the grassy dale,
Or roughening waste, their humble texture weave;
But most in woodland solitudes delight,
In unfrequented glooms, or shaggy banks,
Steep, and divided by a babbling brook,
Whose murmurs soothe them all the livelong day,
When by kind duty fixed. Among the roots
Of hazel, pendent o’er the plaintive stream,
They frame the first foundation of their domes;
Dry sprigs of trees, in artful fabric laid,
And bound with clay together. Now ’tis naught
But restless hurry through the busy air,
Beat by unnumbered wings. The swallow sweeps
The slimy pool, to build the hanging house
Intent. And often, from the careless back
Of herds and flocks, a thousand tugging bills
Pluck hair and wool; and oft, when unobserved,
Steal from the barn a straw, till soft and warm,
Clean and complete, their habitation grows.
Another celebrated poet completes the picture: —
The cavern-loving wren sequestered seeks
The verdant shelter of the hollow stump;
And with congenial moss, harmless deceit,
Constructs a safe abode. On topmost boughs
The oriole, and the hoarse-voiced crow,
Rocked by the storm, erect their airy nests.
The ousel, long frequenter of the grove
Of fragrant pines, in solemn depth of shade,
Finds rest. Or mid the holly’s shining leaves,
A simple bush, the piping thrush contents;
Though in the woodland contest, he, aloft,
Trills from his spotted throat a powerful strain,
And scorns the humble quire. The wood-lark asks
A lowly dwelling, hid beneath some tuft,
Or hollow, trodden by the sinking hoof:
Songster beloved! who to the sun such lays
Pours forth as earth ne’er owns. Within the boughs
The sparrow lays her spotted eggs. The barn,
With eaves o’er-pendent, holds the chattering tribe.
Secret the linnet seeks the tangled wood,
The white owl seeks some antique ruined wall,
Fearless of rapine; or in hollow trees,
Which age has caverned, safely courts repose.
The velvet jay, in pristine colors clad,
Weaves her curious nest with firm-wreathed twigs,
And sidelong forms her cautious door; she dreads
The taloned hawk, or pouncing eagle,
Herself, with craft suspicion ever dwells.
As the singing of birds is the voice of courtship andconjugal love, the concerts of the groves begin to fillall with their various melody. In England the returnof the nightingale in the spring is hailed with muchjoy; he sings by day as well as night; but in the daytimehis voice is drowned in the multitude of performers;in the evening it is heard alone, whence thepoets have always made the song of the nightingalea nocturnal serenade. The author of