January--(Infancy.)--This month, which commences our year, may be justly
compared with the infant state of man, whose faculties are yet in embryo.
The sunshine of joy irradiates but transiently; it illumes his early days
with glances of pleasure, unsubstantial and evanescent; a tedious night
of helplessness and ignorance effaces the impressions made during the day.
Artificial warmth, invigorating food, and refreshing sleep, are all that
he requires or finds solace in.
February--From 7 to 14.--The bud of intellect now expands to imbibe the genial rays of instruction, which the all-cheering luminary of spring nourishes into blossoms of early promise. All is gaiety and pleasure; nature appears decked in vivid delightful colours, varriegated, fresh, and blooming; no gloom darkens the surrounding atmosphere; every thing presses on the senses with the charm of novelty; all is gaiety undisturbed and enchanting.
March--14 to 21.--This month is generally ushered in with boisterous winds and nipping frosts. The hapless mariner beholds his vessel wrecked upon the very rocks which bind his much-loved home. Vegetation perishes thro' severe and untimely frosts; and deluging rains, descending with impetuous force, crush the springing blade, and despoil the beauty of the gay parterre. Even thus do rude passions of man's soul break forth with resistless force at this unsettled period of existence, wrecking the fragile bark of youth.--The tide of dissipation sweeps away the principles of virtue, which have not had time to take root, and every noble energy is blighted by the destructive influence of bad example.
April--21 to 28.--Sunshine & showers now prevail alternately; the fruits of a good education appear emerging from the beauteous blossom; but as yet they are crude and imperfect. Nature appears in her most lively garb; a few passing clouds may obscure the horizon, but they soon discharge themselves and pass away. So do the temporary sorrows of youth disappear, leaving no painful recollections on the mind; like the refreshing rain which falls upon the earth, reviving drooping nature, so do the trivial disappointments of this early state serve but to render hope's perspective more alarming.
May--28 to 35.--The face of nature now wears a fresher bloom; the gardens are luxuriously filled with flowers, the trees are covered with foliage, and the swelling corn begins to fill the ear. So is the body of man ripened to perfection, the morals are formed, and the strongest energies of the mind disclose themselves. He indulges in luxurious pleasures, and contributes to the gratification of others by the exertion of his useful and agreeable qualities.
June--35 to 42.--The summer is now before us; we begin to gather the fruits; and already some of the spring flowers fade and droop. Dense clouds obscure the sun, even at noon day; vivid lightnings shoot athwart the sky; and the thunder, in an unexpected moment, bursts over our heads. Thus does man already prepare to gather the fruits of his good works, or begin to dread the punishment of his transgressions. The simple hopes and pleasures of youth fade and wither in remembrance; they obscure his reason, blight his virtues, and the misfortunes they occasion burst unexpectedly upon him, astonishing and appalling him even in the moments of pleasure and exultation. He perceives that the days of licentious enjoyment are short; that a long winter of remorse may succeed; and happy is it for him if he profit by the hint which the season itself affords.
July--42-49.--The bright days of summer are now passing away with swiftness unnoticed.--The tempting fruits have been plucked from the trees, leaving them bare and unsightly; others of later growth now bend beneath the luscious burthen. The hay has been got in, the corn is ripe for the sickle, and after-crops of grass begin to shoot from the earth. It is now that man is drawing towards the harvest of his happiness. Most of the pleasures which he once pursued with avidity have lost their zest. Those who have too early wasted their talents remain neglected as an useless incumbrance upon the face of the earth, while those who have preserved their morals uncorrupted, and suffered their judgments to be matured by experience, and sought after as precious fruits, are justly appreciated for their superior excellence. At this period also, man beholds a new generation rising to perpetuate his virtues; his tender offspring calls for all his cares and attention; he looks anxiously forward to the period of its growth and improvement, in the fond hope that it will not only gladden his own heart, but contribute to the general benefit of society.
August--49 to 56.--The yellow tints of autumn now begin to check our exultations, and remind us that earthly bliss is not permanent; and as the aspect of nature undergoes a gradual change, so does the face of man. His cheeks begin to furrow, his locks turn gray, and the bloom of healthful vigour fades from his cheeks. Pleasure fatigues his relaxed frame, and exertion weakens his intellectual powers, which have now passed the period of improvement. The winter of age seems advancing with hasty strides--more hasty than welcome. He looks back with regret to the hours of spring & summer, when all was gaity and mirth. They seem to have receded with equal rapidity, & the present hour is too wasted in unprofitable retrospection and dissatisfied anticipation.
September--56 to 63.--This is the period of rest and recreation, feasting and revelry, when the season of labour is over. The harvest is got in, and the days are considerable shortened. Man now begins to seek refuge from oppressive cares and gloomy apprehension, in convivial hilarity and unlimited indulgence at the social board.--He has gathered his harvest of knowledge, his toil is at an end, and he proudly exults in his vast acquisition, without reflecting how soon he may be called upon to render up a just account, and see his boasted stores transferred to others.
October--63 to 70.--The fields now appear dreary--the hedges bare; no melody fills the grove, but rude howling winds sweep the earth, and scatter the straggling leaves in every direction. Thus also is man by this time stripped of his external graces; he becomes morose and sullen; his appearance no longer diffuses cheerfulness; he neither pleases nor is pleased. The storms of calamity break on his devoted head, scattering his dearest connexions;--friend after friend drops off, and is swept away; he remains disconsolate and cheerless.
November--70 to 77.--Gloom and desolation now extend their depressing influence: every vestige of cultivation is buried beneath the deep encrusting snow; the meandering stream is bound in icy fetters, and heavy fog obscures the face of heaven, wrapping all in impenetrable darkness: even thus are the faculties of men beclouded at this advanced period. The hoary frost of age settles on his head; the warm current of life freezes in his veins; his senses become torpid. No ray of intelligence illumes the gloom which surrounds him; no genial warmth reanimates his palsied frame.
December--77 to 84.--Behold now the life of man, with the season, drawing to its close. No material change has taken place in the aspect of things, yet even this dreaded epoch is more tolerable than the preceding, for the pains and privations of mortality seem near their termination. A fresh spring will appear, and vegetation flourish anew: and why should not the just man rejoice that he is about to rest from all his labours?
- American Statesman, Boston, Mass., May 26, 1823