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From the Easy Chair, series 2   By: (1824-1892)

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[Illustration: frontispiece]

FROM THE EASY CHAIR

BY

GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS

SECOND SERIES

[Illustration: colophon]

NEW YORK

HARPER AND BROTHERS

MDCCCXCIV

Copyright, 1893, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

Copyright, 1894, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

All rights reserved.

CONTENTS.

PAGE

THE NEW YEAR 1 THE PUBLIC SCOLD 10 NATIONAL NOMINATING CONVENTION 16 BRYANT'S COUNTRY 23 The Game of Newport 31 THE LECTURE LYCEUM 39 TWEED 47 COMMENCEMENT 60 THE STREETS OF NEW YORK 69 THE MORALITY OF DANCING 76 THE HOG FAMILY 81 THE ENLIGHTENED OBSERVER 88 RALPH WALDO EMERSON 94 HENRY WARD BEECHER 110 THE GOLDEN AGE 119 SPRING PICTURES 126 PROPER AND IMPROPER 130 BELINDA AND THE VULGAR 137 DECAYED GENTILITY 142 THE PHARISEE 149 LADY MAVOURNEEN ON HER TRAVELS 155 GENERAL SHERMAN 162 THE AMERICAN GIRL 166 ANNUS MIRABILIS 174 STATUES IN CENTRAL PARK 186 THE GRAND TOUR 193 "EASY DOES IT, GUVNER" 203 SISTE, VIATOR 208 CHRISTENDOM vs. CHRISTIANITY 216 FRANCIS GEORGE SHAW 222

THE NEW YEAR.

IN Germany on Sylvesterabend the eve of Saint Sylvester, the last night of the year you shall wake and hear a chorus of voices singing hymns, like the English waits at Christmas or the Italian pifferari . In the deep silence, and to one awakening, the music has a penetrating and indefinable pathos, the pathos that Richter remarked in all music, and which our own Parsons has hinted delicately

"Strange was the music that over me stole, For 'twas born of old sadness that lives in my soul."

There is something of the same feeling in the melody of college songs heard at a little distance on awakening in the night before Commencement. The songs are familiar, but they have an appealing melancholy unknown before. Their dying cadences murmur like a muffled peal heralding the visionary procession that is passing out of the enchanted realm of youth forever. So the voices of Sylvester's Eve chant the requiem of the year that is dead. So much more of life, of opportunity, of achievement, passed; so much nearer age, decline, the mystery of the end. The music swells in rich and lingering strains. It is a moment of exaltation, of purification. The chords are dying; the hymn is ending; it ends. The voices are stilled. It is the benediction of Saint Sylvester:

"She died and left to me ... The memory of what has been, And nevermore will be."

But this is the midnight refrain The King is dead! With the earliest ray of daylight the exulting strain begins Live the King! The bells are ringing; the children are shouting; there are gifts and greetings, good wishes and gladness. "Happy New Year! happy New Year!" It is the day of hope and a fresh beginning. Old debts shall be forgiven; old feuds forgotten; old friendships revived. To day shall be better than yesterday. The good vows shall be kept. A blessing shall be wrung from the fleet angel Opportunity. There shall be more patience, more courage, more faith; the dream shall become life; to day shall wear the glamour of to morrow. Ring out the old, ring in the new!

Charles Lamb says that no one ever regarded the first of January with indifference; no one, that is to say, of the new style... Continue reading book >>




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