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SPARE minutes are the gold dust of time; and Young was writing a true, as well as a striking line, when he affirmed that
“Sands make the mountain, moments make the year!”. Of all the portions of our life, the spare minutes are the most fruitful in good or evil. They are the gaps through which temptations find the easiest access to the garden. Now it is precisely during these little intervals of idleness or amusement, that the good angel of literature -- of literature baptised by religion-waits upon those whom he loves, and who welcome his visits, with some flower to charm their senses, some song to soothe their ear, or some precious stone to delight their eyes. Spare minutes occur in every portion of the day, but they never come with a sweeter influence than in the hour of twilight. The picture which Cowper has drawn of
an evening at Weston may be transferred to the firesides of our readers. The wintry winds that rattle the bolted shutter awake a livelier feeling of warmth and gratitude. How many thoughts of' genius and of devotion, still living through the world, were born amid the indistinct glimmer of the parlour twilight ! Ridley, gazing into the expiring embers, after the toils and disputes of the day, beheld, it may be, the English church rising in all her harmony and magnificence. Raleigh called up from those red cinders, in which Cowper created trees and churches, cities with gates of gold, and forests stretching into the remote horizon. Milton, while bending over his father's hearth at Horton, and reflecting upon the studies of the day, beheld perhaps the dim outline of some majestic story, over which those treasures of Greek and Latin fancy and eloquence were to diffuse So sweet a charm.
“Bright winter fires that summer's part supply," was the pleasing line of Cowley. These winter spare minutes are the harvest-homes of memory. Thoughts that have been gleaning in distant fields during the day, now bring back their little sheaves to the garner.