Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Morning with Washington Irving: On a Christmas Night Long Ago

How the times and our view of them never change.  Here, from "The Christmas Dinner," in The Sketch Book, 1819-1820 by Washington Irving:

From my part, I was in continual excitement from the varied scenes of whim and innocent gaiety passing before me. It was inspiring to see wild-eyed frolic and warmhearted hospitality breaking out from among the chills and gloom of winter, and old age throwing off his apathy and catching once more the freshness of youthful enjoyment ...

I also felt an interest in the scene from the consideration that these fleeting customs were posting fast into oblivion. 

But enough of Christmas and its gambols; it is time for me to pause in this garrulity. Methinks I hear the questions asked by my graver readers: "To what purpose is all this — how is the world to be made wiser by this talk?"

If, however, I can by any luck of chance, in these days of evil, rub out one wrinkle from the brow of care, or beguile the heavy heart of one moment of sorrow; if I can now and then penetrate though the gathering film of misanthropy, prompt a benevolent view of human nature, and make my reader more in good humor with his fellow being and himself, surely, surely, I shall not have written entirely in vain

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