New Year’s Morning” develops the metaphor of sleep as death in unusual depth; the “20,000 voices" referred to the traditional number of subscribers to Robert Merry’s Museum.
“New Year’s Morning” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, January 1859; pp. 3-4)

“Good morning, Uncle Merry! A beautiful, bright morning. A Happy New Year!”

Did twenty thousand cheerful voices whisper this salutation in my ear, as I stepped out into the clear, pure air, for my accustomed walk? It seemed so; and though Longfellow says, “things are not what they seem,” I do not like to think so. I therefore looked around, smiled my blandest, and thus returned the salutation.

A bright morning? Yes, a very bright morning! and why should it not be? What right has a morning to be dull? The beginning of a new day should show a fair contrast to the night just gone. It should always wear a smile of light. It may be cloudy, misty, or even stormy, and

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yet not be dark nor dull. It is not sunshine only that makes a morning bright; you know that, Charlie, and so do you, Mary, and Bess, and Willie, and Hal, and all the rest of you. For you well remember how often, on a Christmas, or New Year’s, or a birthday, or any other holiday, you have waked, long before day, to think or talk over your anticipated pleasures, to take a sly peep into your stockings, or to make some little preparation for the eventful day, so near at hand, and how, though neither sun nor stars could be seen, it was always just right. Even if there was storm in the sky, it was a fair morning to you. If it was not light, it was bright, because there was a brightness within which no outward storm-cloud could darken, or even dim. It was the sunshine of the heart, that brought the day before the dawn, and made the morning bright, in spite of all out-of-door appearances.

And does not every morning bring a holiday to the grateful heart? Just think what every morning of your life does bring to you. It brings you new life. You have been, for some long, quiet hours, imprisoned, chained up, put to death, seemingly. Sleep, the image of death, robbed you of all your senses—of your power of motion—of yourself. You have been as helpless, all the while, as a buried corpse; and now you are alive again; you are restored to yourself; your strength is renewed. Your reason is sound, and clear, and all its instruments—all your limbs and senses—are brightened up, and put in order for a new day’s service. Ought you not to be bright, and happy, and grateful, with every new morning of life? All creation, animate and inanimate, is so.

The birds never fail to warble out their joy in the morning. Rain or shine, they always greet the day with a song, and seem to recognize the new life that is given them. The flowers open not only their eyes, but their hearts, to welcome the morning light, and for every beam of beauty it sheds on them, breathe back the soft fragrance of a grateful joy. That is what makes a bright morning. The old man can enjoy it as well as the boy—the laborer as well as the sportsman—the slave as well as his master—I had almost said, the invalid as well as the strong man. And why not say it? It is a new day to the one, as well as to the other. It is a resurrection to a new lease of life. And if it be to a life of weakness and pain, it is also to a life of abounding blessings at hand, with the bow of Hope always on the retreating cloud. So, to each and to all, I cordially, gratefully return the salutation, not as an unmeaning phrase, but as eloquent with deep and far-reaching thought—“Good-morning!” Yes, and a “Happy New Year,” too. Every new year ought to be a happy one. The old year lays its burden at the feet of the new. Take it up manfully, and bear it cheerfully, and Faith, Hope, and Love will make it light. To be cheerful is the way to be


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