« AnteriorContinuar »
And desolate bosom. Lo—they mingle now—
And it is very terrible! The roar
Ascendeth unto Heaven, and thunders back
Rifts of the hanging tempests—yawning o'er
The wild waves in their torment. Hark! the cry
The uproar of the waters and the sky;
As the rent bark one moment rides to view,
On the tall billows, with the thunder-cloud
Closing around, above her like a shroud!
He stood upon the reeling deck—His form
Made visible by the lightning, and his brow, Uncovered to the visiting of the storm,
Told of a triumph man may never know— Power underived and mighty.— ' Peace be still!'
The great waves heard him, and the storm's loud tone Went moaning into silence at his will:
And the thick clouds, where yet the lightning shone, And slept the latent thunder, rolled away
Until no trace of tempest lurked behind,
Changing upon the pinions of the wind To stormless wanderers, beautiful and gay.
Dread Ruler of the tempest! Thou, before
Whose presence boweth the uprisen storm—
Of many an island empire!—if the form
Thy infirwe regard—oh, breathe upon
Great Effects result from Little Causes.—Porter.
The same connexion between small things and great, runs through all the concerns of our world. The ignorance of a physician, or the carelessness of an apothecary, may spread death through a family or a town. How often has the sickness of one man, become the sickness of thousands? How often has the error of one man, become the error of thousands?
A fly or an atom, may set in motion a train of intermediate causes, which shall produce a revolution in a kingdom. Any one of a thousand incidents, might have cut off Alexander of Greece, in his cradle. But if Alexander had died in infancy, or had lived a single day longer than he did, it might have put another face on all the following history of the world.
A spectacle-maker's boy, amusing himself in his father's shop, by holding two glasses between his finger and his thumb, and varying their distance, perceived the weathercock of the church spire, opposite to him, much larger than ordinary, and apparently much nearer, and turned upside down. This excited the wonder of the father, and led him to additional experiments; and these resulted in that astonishing instrument, the Telescope, as invented by Galileo, and perfected by Herschell.
On the same optical principles was constructed the Microscope, by which we perceive that a drop of stagnant water is a world teeming with inhabitants. By one of these instruments, the experimental philosopher measures the ponderous globes, that the omnipotent hand has ranged in majestic order through the skies; by the other, he sees the same hand employed in rounding and polishing five thousand minute, transparent globes in the eye of a fly. Yet all these discoveries of modern science, exhibiting the intelligence, dominion, and agency of God, we owe to the transient amusement of a child.
It is a fact, commonly known, that, the laws of gravitation, which guide the thousands of rolling worlds in tlie planetary system, were suggested at first, to the mind of Newton," tne falling of an apple.
The art of printing, shows from what casual incidents, th most magnificent events in the scheme of Providence may result. Time was,, when princes were scarcely rich enough to purchase a copy of the Bible. Now every cottager in Christendom, is rich enough to possess this treasure. 'Who would have thought, that the simple circumstance of a man, amusing himself by cutting a few letters on the bark of a tree, and impressing them on paper, was intimately connected with the mental illumination of the world.'
Mount Etna.—Lon. Encyclopedia.
The man who treads Mount ^Etna seems like a man above the world. He generally is advised to ascend before day-break; the stars now brighten, shining like so many gems of flames; others appear which were invisible below. The milky-way seems like a pure flake of light lying across the firmament, and it is the opinion of some that the satellites of Jupiter might be discovered by the naked eye.
But when the sun arises, the prospect from the summit of .flEtna is beyond comparison the finest in nature. The eye rolls over it with astonishment and is lost. The diversity of objects; the extent of the horizon; the immense height; the country like a map at our feet; the ocean around; the heavens above; all conspire to overwhelm the, mind, and affect it with sensations of astonishment and grandeur.
We must be allowed to extract Mr. Brydone's description of this scene. 'There is not,' he says, 'on the surface of the globe, any one point that unites so many awful and sublime objects. The immense elevation from the surface of the earth, drawn as it were to a single point, without any neighboring mountain for the senses and imagination to rest upon and recover from their astonishment, in their way down to the world.
This point or pinnacle, raised on the brink of a bottomless gulf, as old as the world, often discharging rivers of fire, and throwing out burning rocks, with a noise that shakes the whole island. Add to this the unbounded extent of the prospect, comprehending the greatest diversity, and the most beautiful scenery in nature, with the rising sun advancing in the east, to illuminatv. the wondrous scene.
The whole atmosphere by degrees kindled up, and showed dimly and faintly the boundless prospect around Both sea and land looked dark and contused, as if only emerging from their original chaos, and light tind darkness seemed still undivided; till the morning, by ..egrees advancing, completed the separation. The star., are extinguished, and the shades disappear.
'The forests, which but now seemed black and bottomless gulfs, from whence no ray was reflected to show their form or colors, appear a new creation rising to sight, catching life and beauty from every increasing beam. The scene still enlarges, and the horizon seems to widen and expand itself on all sides; till the sun, like the great Creator, appears in the east, and with his plastic ray completes the mighty scene.
All appears enchantment: and it is with difficulty we can believe we are still on earth. The senses, unaccustomed to the sublimity of such a scene, are bewildered and confounded; and it is not till after some time, that they are capable of separating and judging of the objects that compose it. The body of the sun is seen rising from the ocean, immense tracts both of sea and land intervening; the islands of Lipari, Panari, Alicudi, Strombolo, and Volcano, with their smoking summits, appear under your feet; and you look down on the whole of Sicily as on a map; and can trace every river through all its windings, from its source to its mouth.
The view is absolutely boundless on every side; nor is there any one object within the circle of vision to interrupt it, so that the sight is every where lost in the immensity; and I am persuaded, it is only from the imperfection of our organs, that the coasts of Africa, and even of Greece, are not discovered, as they are certainly above the horizon. The circumference of the visible horizon on the top of iEtna, cannot be less than 2000 miles.
At Malta, which is near 200 miles distant, they perceive all the eruptions from the second region: and that island is often discovered from about one half the elevation of the mountain: so that, at the whole elevation the horizon must extend to near double that distance, or 400 miles, which makes 800 miles for the diameter of the circle, and 2400 for the circumference; but this is by much too vast for our senses, not intended to grasp so boundless a scene.
The most beautiful part of the scene is certainly the mountain itself, the island of Sicily, and the numerous islands lying round it. All these, by a kind of magic in vision, that I am at a loss to account for, seem as if they were brought close round the skirts of iEtna; the distances appearing reduced to nothing. Perhaps this singular effect is produced by the rays of light passing from a rarer medium into a denser, which, (from a well-known law in optics') to an observer in the rare medium, appears to lift up objects that are at the bottom of the dense one, as a piece of money placed in a basin, appears lifted up as soon as the basin is filled with water.
The Regione Deserta, or the frigid zone of ./Etna, is the first object that calls your attention. It is marked out by a circle of snow and ice, which extends on all sides to the distance of about eight miles. In the centre of this circle, the great crater of the mountain rears its burning head, and the regions of intense cold, and of intense heat, seem for ever to be united in the same point.
The Regione Deserta is immediately succeeded by the Sylvosa, or the woody region, which forms a circle or girdle of the most beautiful green, which surrounds the mountain on all sides, and is certainly one of the most delightful spots on earth. This presents a remarkable contrast with the desert region. It is not smooth and even, like the greatest part of the latter; but is finely variegated by an infinite number of those beautiful little mountains,that have been formed by the different eruptions of JEtna. All these have now acquired a wonderful degree of fertility, except a very few that are but newly formed, that is, within these five or six hundred years; for it certainly requires some thousands, to bring them to their greatest degree of perfection. We looked down into the craters of these, and attempted, but in vain, to number them.
This zone is every where succeeded by the vineyards. orchards, and corn-fields that compose the Regione Culta, or the fertile region. This zone makes a delightful contrast with the other two regions. It is bounded by the sea to the south and southeast, and on all its other sides, by the rivers Semetus and Alcantara, which run almost round it. The whole course of these rivers is seen at once, and all their beautiful windings through these fertile valleys, looked upon as the favorite possession of Ceres herself.
Cast your eyes a little further, and you embrace the whole island; all its cities, rivers, and mountains, delineated