THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
its cause ! Many and many a time have we been awakened by the melody of the waits, when
" The floor of heaven Was thick inlaid with patines of bright gold;"—
and have lain and listened to their wild minstrelsy—its solemn swells and " dying falls," kept musical by the distance, and made holy by the time,—till we have felt, amid all those influences, as if it were
" No mortal business, nor no sound That the earth owes,"
and could have fancied that the " morning stars" were again singing, as of old they " sang together for joy," and that the sounds of their far anthem came floating to the earth. This sort of fancy has occurred, over and over again, to him who has looked out, from his bed, upon a sky full of stars,—and listened, at the same time, to invisible and distant music, under the holy impressions of the season. Shakspeare has helped us to this feeling, perhaps,—as we can trace his influence upon all our feelings, and upon none more than the most sacred or the most solemn:—
" There 's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st, But in his motion like an angel sings, Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims; Such harmony is in immortal souls."
To the rudest carol that ever flung its notes upon the still air of those solemn hours, we have hearkened with a hush of pleasure which recognized how well—
" Soft stillness, and the night, Become the touches of sweet harmony!"—
and the wildest music, that ever broke upon that solemn calm, from the instruments of the most unskilful waits,—if it were but remote enough to keep its asperities out of the ear, and send us only its floating tones,—has brought Shakspeare into our hearts again :—
" Portia. Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day. JVerissa. Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam."