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fog. "A London fog," says Miss Mitford, "is a sad thing, as every inhabitant of London knows full well; dingy, dusky, dirty, damp; an atmosphere black as smoke and wet as steam, that wraps you round like a blanket; a cloud reaching from earth to heaven; a 'palpable obscure' which not only turns day into night, but threatens to extinguish the lamps and lanthorns, with which the poor streetwanderers strive to illumine their darkness, dimming and paling the ineffectual fires, until the volume of gas at a shopdoor cuts no better figure than a hedge-worm, and a duchess's flambeau would veil its glories to a will-o'-the-wisp. A London fog is, not to speak profanely, a sort of renewal and reversal of Joshua's miracle; the sun seems to stand in the wrong place, and gives light to the antipodes. The very noises of the street come stifled and smothered through that suffocating medium; din is at a pause; the town is silenced; and the whole population, biped and quadruped, sympathise with the dead and chilling weight of the out-of-doors world.
"Dogs and cats just look up from their slumbers, turn round and go to sleep again; the little birds open their pretty eyes, stare about them, wonder that the night is so long, and settle themselves afresh on their perches. Silks lose their gloss, cravats their stiffness, hackney-coachmen their way; young ladies fall out of curl, and mammas out of temper; masters scold, servants grumble; and the whole city, from Hyde Park Corner to Wapping, looks sleepy and cross, like a fine gentleman roused before his time and forced to get up by candle light. Of all detestable things a London fog is most detestable.
"Now a country fog is quite another matter. To say nothing of its unfrequent recurrence, there is about as much of the peculiar and characteristic beauty which almost all natural phenomena exhibit to those who have themselves that faculty, oftener perhaps claimed than possessed, a genuine feeling of nature.
"During those lovely autumns, which not unfrequently occur, when all the flowers of all seasons seemed mingling as one sometimes sees them in a painter's garland—the violets and primroses reblossoming, and new crops of sweetpeas and mignonette blending with the chrysanthemum, the Michaelmas daisy and the dahlia, the latest blossoms of the year—when the very leaves cling to the trees with a freshness so vigorous and so youthful, that they seem to have determined, spite of their old bad habit, that for once they will not fall. Such lovely autumns give us many foggy mornings, or rather foggy days, days beginning in a soft vapoury mistiness, enveloping the whole country in a veil, snowy, fleecy, and light as the smoke which one often sees circling in the distance from some cottage chimney, or as the still whiter clouds which float around the moon; and finishing in sunsets of surprising richness and beauty, when the mist is lifted up from the earth and turned into a canopy of unrivalled gorgeousness, purple, rosy and golden, disclosing the splendid autumn landscape, with its shining rivulets, its varied and mellow wood-land tints, and its deep emerald pasture lands, every blade and leaf covered with a thousand little drops, as pure as crystal, glittering and sparkling in the sunbeams like the dew on a summer's morning, or the still more brilliant scintillations of frost."
November days are not all as foggy and dispiriting as the proverbial character of the month would lead the unobservant to infer, in proof of this we will give one of Miss Mitford's pictorial sketches.
"November 6th.—The weather is as peaceful to-day, as calm, and as mild, as in early April; and perhaps an autumn afternoon and a spring morning do resemble each other more in feeling, and even in appearance, than any two periods of the year. There is in both the same freshness and dewiness of the herbage; the same balmy softness in the air; and the same pure and lovely blue sky, with white fleecy clouds floating across it. The chief difference lies in the absence of flowers and the presence of leaves. But then the foliage of November is so rich, and glowing, and varied, that it may well supply the place of the gay blossoms of the spring; whilst all the flowers of the field or the garden could never make amend for the want of leaves, that beautiful and graceful attire in which nature has clothed the rugged forms of trees—the verdant drapery to which the landscape owes its loveliness, and the forests their glory.
"If choice must be between two seasons, each so full of AUTUMNAL BEAUTIES. 501
charms, it is at least no bad philosophy to prefer the present good even whilst looking gratefully back and hopefully forward, to the past and the future. And of a surety, no fairer specimen of a November day could well be found than this—a day made to wander
By yellow commons and birch-shaded hollows,
"How beautiful the lane is to-day, decorated with a thousand colours! The brown road, and the rich verdure that borders it, strewed with the plain yellow leaves of the elm, just beginning to fall; hedge-rows glowing with long wreaths of the bramble, in every variety of purplish red; and overhead, the unchanged green of the fir, contrasting with the spotted sycamore, the tawny beech, and the dry sere leaves of the oak, which rustle as the light wind passes through them; a few common hardy yellow flowers, whether wild or cultivated, as blue is rare, flowers of many sorts, but almost of one tint, still blowing in spite of the season, and ruddy berries glowing through all. How very beautiful is the lane!
"But let us go on. No time for more sketches in these short days. It is getting cold too. We must proceed on our walk. At last we have reached the Loddon! the beautiful Loddon! and the bridge, where every one stops, as by instinct, to lean over the rails, and gaze a moment on a landscape of surpassing beauty—the fine grounds of the great house, with their magnificent groups of limes, and firs, and poplars grander than ever poplars were; the green meadows opposite, studded with oaks and elms; the clear winding river; the mill, with its picturesque old buildings bounding the scene: all glowing with the rich colouring of autumn, and harmonised by the soft beauty of the clear blue sky, and the delicious calmness of the hour. The very peasant, whose daily path it is, cannot cross that bridge without a pause.
"But the day is wearing fast, and it grows colder and colder. I really think it will be a frost. After all, spring is the pleasantest season. Beautiful as this scenery is we must get on. Down that broad yet shadowy lane, between the park, dark with evergreens and dappled with deer, and the meadows, where sheep, and cows, and horses are grazing under the tall elms; that lane, where the wild bank clothed with fern, and tufted with furze, and crowned by rich berried thorn, and thick shining holly on the one side, seems to vie in beauty with the picturesque old paling, the bright laurels, and the plumy cedars, on the other;—down that shady lane until the sudden turn brings us to an opening where four roads meet,—where a noble avenue turns down to the great house, where the village church rears its modest spire from amidst its venerable yew trees, and where embosomed in orchards and gardens, and backed by barns and ricks, and all the wealth of the farm-yard, stands the spacious and comfortable farmhouse.
"This beautiful mild day is edging off into a dense frosty evening; the leaves of the elm and the linden in the old avenue are quivering, and vibrating, and fluttering in the air, and at length falling crisply on the earth; the sun gleams dimly through the fog, giving little more of light or heat than his fair sister the lady moon. I am beginning to wrap my cloak closely round me, and to calculate the distance to my own fireside, recanting all the way my praises of November, and longing for the showery, flowery April as much as if I were a half-chilled butterfly, or a dahlia knocked down by frost."
"Among the peculiarities which make London different from any other city in the world, may be reckoned its winter fogs, those dark, rolling, solid-looking compounds of moisture, smoke, gas, and innumerable other products, which such a city as London abundantly supplies, and which are sufficient, one would almost suppose, to render a residence among them unendurable. So at least think the good people abroad, who talk much among themselves of the horrors of a November fog, but would as soon think of congratulating a native of Smyrna on the presence of the plague in his city, as talk to a Londoner of his native fog. Such, however, is the force of habit that the densest November fog produces no other A LOUDON TOG.
change in our habits than causing us to light our* lamps and candles, and to move and drive about with more than ordinary caution.
"And why should we fear a November fog? Is it so deadly and so dangerous as people suppose? On the contrary, is it not notorious that the London hospitals are clearer during November than at any other time of the year? And is it not quite a mistake to suppose that these dense fogs are peculiar to London? Are they not common to all large cities, though perhaps less frequent than in our metropolis? We read of one that visited Amsterdam of so dense a character that people ran against each other, even though they had torches in their hands;—two hundred and thirty persons were drowned by falling into the canals ;—their cries were heard, but people were afraid to advance to their relief. We also read of a great fog which occurred at Paris, one 12th of November, in which the obscurity was such that persons lost their way in the streets, as if they had been blind;—it was necessary to be near a very brilliant light to perceive a faint trace of it. Fourcroy, the celebrated chemist, described this fog as displaying itself in spiral groups like corkscrews, and that it had a remarkable taste. This Parisian fog certainly out-horrors our choicest' London peculiars;' for we never have any corkscrews, and the taste is nothing very particular.
"To enjoy a London fog to perfection you should ascend St. Paul's cathedral some day when the sun's place in the heavens is but just discernible. After climbing up about three hundred feet through the dense fog of the churchyard, you will perhaps be surprised on stepping out upon the balcony to find yourself in the bright sunshine, with a fog below your feet rolling and subsiding like a huge sea. Tou are surprised at its small elevation, it scarcely reaches halfway up the cathedral dome. But is it not a beautiful, a remarkable sight ?—the bright sun lights it up fantastically, and adorns it with a few faint-coloured tints, making it not unlike the effect produced by the webs of the gossamer spider covering a sunny field in autumn. On examining the structure of this fog, it is found to be by no means uniform; a long depressed line marks the course of the Thames, illustrating the fact that a clear water-surface supplies the vapour