Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

and the party stood on a little eminence above the stream, and forming part of the strath. There had been trouble and agitation, much sobbing and many tears among the multitude, while the mother was scaling the cliffs,-sublime was the shout that echoed afar the moment she reached the eyrie,-and now that her salvation was sure, the great crowd rustled like a wind-swept wood.

And for whose sake was all this alternation of agony? A poor humble creature, unknown to many even by name -one who had had but few friends, nor wished for morecontented to work all day, here-there-any where—that she might be able to support her aged mother and her little child—and who on sabbath took her seat in an obscure pew, set apart for paupers, in the kirk!

Fall back, and give her fresh air,' said the old minister of the parish; and the circle of close faces widened round her, lying as in death. • Give me the dear child into my arms,' cried first one mother, and then another, and it was tenderly handed round the circle of kisses, many of the young maidens bathing its face in tears. There's not a single scratch about the poor innocent, for the eagle, you see, must have stuck its talons into the long clothes and the shawl. Blind! blind! must they be who see not the finger of God in this thing!'

Hannah started up from her swoon, looking wildly round, and cried, O! the bird, the bird!—the eagle, the eagle! The eagle has carried off my dear little Walter-is there none to pursue?' A neighbor put her child into her bosom, —and shutting her eyes, and smiting her forehead, the sorely bewildered creature said in a low voice, ‘Am I awake?-O tell me if I'm awake, or if all this be the work of a fever, and the delirium of a dream.?

6

LESSON XCVI.

Scottish Public Worship.-GRAHAME.

Now the solemn bell Fills all the air, inspiring joyful awe. Slowly the throng moves o'er the tomb-paved ground: They enter in. A placid stillness reigns, Until the man of God, worthy the name,

Rises, and reads the anointed Shepherd's lays.
Loud swells the song. O, how that simple song,
Though rudely chanted, how it melts the heart,
Commingling soul with soul in one full tide
Of praise, of thankfulness, of humble trust!
Next comes the unpremeditated prayer,
Breathed from the inmost heart, in accents low
But earnest.-Altered is the tone; to man
Are now addressed the sacred speaker's words.
Instruction, admonition, comfort, peace,
Flow from his tongue. O, chief let comfort flow!
It is most wanted in this vale of tears.
Yes, make the widow's heart to sing for joy;
The stranger to discern the Almighty's shield
Held o'er his friendless head; the orphan child
Feel, 'mid his tears, he has a father still!
'T is done. But hark that infant querulous voice!
And see the father raise the white-robed babe
In solemn dedication to the Lord.
The holy man sprinkles, with forth-stretched hand,
The face of innocence; then earnest turns,
And prays a blessing in the name of Him,
Who said, “Let little children come to me:
Forbid them not.' The infant is replaced
Among the happy band: they, smilingly,
In gay attire, hie to the house of mirth,
The poor man's festival, a jubilee day
Remembered long.

LESSON XCVII.

River and Fall of Niagara.-Flint.

At the point, where this river issues from lake Erie, it assumes the name of Niagara. It is something more than three quarters of a mile in width, and the broad and powerful current embosoms two islands: one of them, Grand Isle, the seat of Mr. Noah's famous Jewish colony, containing eleven thousand acres, and the other, Navy island, opposite to the British village of Chippeway.

Below this island the river again becomes an unbroken sheet, a mile in width. For a half a mile below, it seems

to be waxing in wrath and power. Were this rapid in any other place, it would be noted, as one of the sublimest features of river scenery. Along this rapid, the broad and irresistible mass of rolling water is not entirely whitened, for it is too deep to become so. But it has something of that curling and angry aspect, which the sea exhibits, when swept by the first burst of a tempest.

The momentum may be conceived, when we are instructed, that in half a mile the river has a descent of fifty feet. A column of water, a mile broad, twenty-five feet deep, and propelled onward by the weight of the surplus waters of the whole prodigious basin of the lakes, rolling down this rapid declivity, at length pours over the cataract, as if falling to the eternal depths of the earth.

Instead of sublimity, the first feeling excited by this stupendous cataract is amazement. The mind accustomed only to ordinary phenomena and common exhibitions of power, feels a revulsion and recoil, from the new train of thought and feeling, forced in an instant upon it. There is hardly sufficient coolness for distinct impressions; much less for calculations.

We witness the white and terrific sheets—for an island on the very verge of the cataract divides the fall—descending more than one hundred and fifty feet into the abyss below. We feel the earth trembling under our feet. The deafening roar fills our ears. The spray, painted with rainbows, envelopes us. We imagine the fathomless caverns, which such an impetus, continued for ages, has worn. Nature arrays herself before us, in this spectacle, as an angry irresistible power, that has broken away from the beneficent control of Providence.

We have gazed upon the spectacle and heard the roar, until the mind has recovered from its amazement. We believe the first obvious thought, in most minds, is a shrinking comparison of the littleness and helplessness of man, and the insignificance of his pigmy efforts, when measuring strength with nature.

Take it all in all, it is one of the most sublime and astonishing spectacles, seen on our globe. The eye distinctly measures the amount of the mass, and we can hardly avoid thinking with the peasant, that the waters of the upper world must be drained down the cataract. But the stream continues to pour down, and this concentred and impressed symbol of the power of Omnipotence, proclaims his majesty through the forest from age to age.

An earthquake, the eruption of a volcanic mountain, the conflagration of a city, are all spectacles, in which terror is the first and predominant emotion. The most impressive exertion of human power, is seen in the murderous and sickening horrors of a conflict between two mighty armies. These, too, are transient and contingent exhibitions of sublimity.

But after we have stood an hour at the foot of these falls, after the eye has been accustomed to look at them without blenching, after the ear has been familiarized with the deafening and incessant roar, when the mind begins to calculate the grandeur of the scale of operations, upon which nature acts; then it is, that the entire and mingled feeling of sublimity rushes upon it, and this, probably, is the place on the whole globe, where it is felt in its most unmixed simplicity.

LESSON XCVIII.

Aurora Borealis.

The following impressive notice of the Aurora Borealis is extracted from the private Journal of Capt. Lyon during the voyage of discovery under Capt. Parry performed in the years 1821-22-23.

As we now had seen the darkest, although not by many degrees the coldest season of the year, it may not here be irrelevant to mention the beautiful appearance of the sky at this period. To describe the colors of these cloudless heavens would be impossible, but the delicacy and pureness of the various blended tints, excelled any thing I ever saw even in Italy.'

The sun shines with undiminished lustre, so that it is impossible to contemplate it without a painful feeling to the eyes; yet, the blush color, which in severe frost always accompanies it, is in my opinion, far more pleasing than the glittering borders, which are so profusely seen on the clouds in warmer climates.

The nights are no less lovely, in consequence of the clearness of the sky. The moon and stars shine with wonderful lustre, and almost persuade one to be pleased with the surrounding desolation. The Aurora Borealis does not appear affected by the brilliancy of even the full moon, but its light continues still the same.

The first appearance of this phenomenon is generally in showers of falling rays, like those thrown from a rocket, although not so bright. These being in constant and agitated motion, have the appearance of trickling down the sky. Large masses of light succeeded next in order, alternating from a glow resembling the milky way, to the most vivid flashes, and which stream and shoot in every direction with the fect of sheet lightning, except that, after the flash, the aurora still continues to be seen.

The sudden glare and rapid burst of those wondrous showers of fire, render it impossible to observe them, without fancying they produce a rushing sound: but I am confident that there is no actual noise attending the changes, and that the idea is erroneous.

I frequently stood for hours together on the ice, to ascertain this fact, at a distance from any noise but my own breathing, and thus I formed my opinion. Neither did I observe any variety of color in the flashes, which were to my eye always of the same shade, as the milky way and vivid sheet lightning: The stars which gleam through the aurora, certainly emit a milder ray, as if a curtain of the finest gauze were interposed.

It is remarkable that whenever the weather is calm, the aurora has a tendency to form an arch, at whatever position it may occupy in the heavens. On the 29th of the month we were particularly gratified by a beautiful exhibition of this kind at near midnight. A perfect arch was formed to the southward, stretching from east to west; its centre elevated about two degrees above the horizon.

The nights was serene and dark, which added considerably to the effect, and the appearance. continued unchanged for about a quarter of an hour; but on a slight breeze springing up, small rays shot occasionally to the zenith, and the arch became agitated by a gentle and undulating motion, after which it spread irregularly, and separating unto the usual streamers, soon diffused itself over the whole sky.

In stormy weather, the northern lights fly with the rapidity of lightning, and with a corresponding wildness to the gale which is blowing, giving an indescribable air of magic to the whole scene. I have never contemplated the aurora without experiencing the most awful sensations, and can readily excuse the poor untutored Indians for supposing, that, in the restless motions of the northern lights, they behold the spirits of their fathers roaming in freedom through the land of souls.

« ForrigeFortsæt »