Science names and
registers the ills of life; and yet it is a gain to know the names
and habits of our enemies. It is with some satisfaction in our
knowledge that we say the thermometer marks zero.
In fact, the wild beast called Winter, untamed, has returned, and
taken possession of New England. Nature, giving up her melting mood,
has retired into dumbness and white stagnation. But we are wise. We
say it is better to have it now than later. We have a conceit of
The sun is in alliance with the earth. Between the two the snow is
uncomfortable. Compelled to go, it decides to go suddenly. The
first day there is slush with rain; the second day, mud with hail;
the third day a flood with sunshine. The thermometer declares that
the temperature is delightful. Man shivers and sneezes. His
neighbor dies of some disease newly named by science; but he dies all
the same as if it hadn't been newly named. Science has not
discovered any name that is not fatal.
This is called the breaking-up of winter.
Nature seems for some days to be in doubt, not exactly able to stand
still, not daring to put forth anything tender.