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Of all the race of man,
Nor didst thou mount on high
From fatal Calvary,
The dying felon by thy side, to be
A few dim hours of day,
The world in darkness lay, Then basked in bright repose beneath the cloudless sun: While thou didst sleep beneath the tomb, Consenting to thy doom, Ere yet the white-robed Angel shone Upon the sealed stone. And when thou didst arise, thou didst not stand With devastation in thy red right hand, Plaguing the guilty city's murtherous crew;
But thou didst haste to meet
Thy mother's coming feet,
LESSON XI. Contemplation of the Starry Heavens.-CHALMERS, There is much in the scenery of a nocturnal sky, to lift the pious soul to contemplation. That moon, and these stars, what are they? They are detached from the world,
and they lift you above it. You feel withdrawn from the earth, and rise in lofty abstraction above this little theatre of human passions and human anxieties.
The mind abandons itself to revery, and is transferred, in the ecstasy of its thoughts, to distant and unexplored regions. It sees nature in the simplicity of her great ele-, ments, and it sees the God of nature invested with the high attributes of wisdom and majesty.
But what can these lights be? The curiosity of the human mind is insatiable, and the mechanism of these wonderful heavens has, in all ages, been its subject and its employment. It has been reserved for these latter times to resolve this great and interesting question. The sublimest powers of philosophy have been called to the exercise, and astronomy may now be looked upon, as the most certain and best established of the sciences.
We know that every visible object appears less in magnitude as it recedes from the eye. The lofty vessel as it retires from the coast, shrinks into littleness, and at last appears in the form of a small speck on the verge of the horizon. The eagle with his expanded wings, is a noble object; but when it takes its flight, into the upper regions of the air, it becomes less to the eye, and is seen like a dark spot upon the vault of heaven. The same is true of all magnitude. The heavenly bodies appear small to the eye of an inhabitant of this earth, only from the immensity of their distance.
When we talk of hundreds of millions of miles, it is not to be listened to as incredible. For, remember that we are talking of those bodies, which are scattered over the immensity of space, and that space knows no termination. The conception is great and difficult, but the truth is unquestionable.
By a process of measurement, we have ascertained first the distance, and then the magnitude of some of those bodies which roll in the firmament; that the sun,
presents itself to the eye under só diminished a form, is really a globe, exceeding, by many thousands of times, the dimensions of the earth which we inhabit; that the moon itself has the magnitude of a world; and that even a few of those stars, which appear like
lucid points to the unassisted eye of the observer, expand into large circles, upon the application of the telescope, and are some of them much larger than the ball which we tread upon and to which we proudly apply the denomination of the universe.
Who shall assign a limit to the discoveries of future ages? Who can prescribe to science her boundaries, or restrain the active and insatiable curiosity of man, within the circle of his present acquirements? We may guess with plausibility what we cannot anticipate with confidence. The day may yet be coming, when our instruments of observation shall be inconceivably more powerful. They may ascertain still more decisive points of resemblance. They may resolve the same question by the evidence of sense, which is now so abundantly convincing by the evidence of analogy. They may lay open to us the unquestionable vestiges of art, and industry, and intelligence. We
may see summer throwing its green mantle over these mighty tracts, and we may see them naked and colorless, after the flush of vegetation has disappeared. In the progress of years, or of centuries, we may trace the hand of cultivation spreading a new aspect over some portion of a planetary surface. Perhaps some large city, the metropolis of a mighty empire, may expand into a visible spot by the powers of some future telescope. Perhaps the glass of some observer, in a distant age, may enable him to construct a map of another world, and to lay down the surface of it in all its minute and topical varieties.
But there is no end to conjecture, and to the men of other times we leave the full assurance of what we can assert with the highest probability, that yon planetary orbs are so many worlds, that they teem with life, and that the mighty Being, who presides in high authority over this scene of grandeur and astonishment, has there planted worshippers of his glory.
There is a charm connected with mountains so powerful, that the merest mention of them, the merest sketch of their magnificent features kindles the imagination, and carries the spirit at once into the bosom of their enchanted regions.
How the mind is filled with their vast solitude! how the inward
eye is fixed on their silent, their sublime, their everlasting peaks! How our heart bounds to the music of their
solitary cries—to the tinkle of their gushing rills, to the sound of their cataracts.
How inspiriting are the odors that breathe from the upland turf, from the rock-hung flower, from the hoary and solemn pine; how beautiful are those lights and shadows thrown abroad, and that fine, transparent haze which is diffused over the valleys and lower slopes as over a vast, inimitable picture.
Whoever has not seen the rich and russet hues of distant slopes and eminences, the livid gashes of ravines and precipices, the white glittering line of falling waters, and the cloud tumultuously whirling round the lofty summit; and then stood panting on that summit, and beheld the clouds alternately gather and break over a thousand giant peaks and ridges of every varied hue,—but all silent as images of eternity; and cast his gaze over lakes and forests, and smoking towns, and wide lands to the very ocean, in all their gleaming and reposing beauty, knows nothing of the treasures of pictorial wealth which his own country pos
When we let loose the imagination and give it free charter to range through the glorious ridges of continental mountains, through Alps, Apennines or Andes, how is it possessed and absorbed by all the awful magnificence of their scenery and character! The sky-ward and inaccessible pinnacles, the
Palaces where nature thrones
Sublimity in icy balls ! the dark Alpine forests, the savage rocks and precipices, the fearful and unfathomable chasms filled with the sound of ever-precipitating waters; the cloud, the silence, the avalanche, the cavernous gloom, the terrible visitations of heaven's concentrated lightning, darkness and thunder; or the sweeter features of living, rushing streams, spicy odors of flower and shrub, fresh spirit-elating breezes sounding through the dark pine grove; the ever-varying lights and shadows, and aerial hues; the wide prospects, and, above all, the simple inhabitants!
We delight to think of the people of mountainous regions; we please our imaginations with their picturesque and quiet abodes; with their peaceful secluded lives, striking and unvarying costumes, and primitive manners.
We involuntarily give to the mountaineer heroic and elevated qualities. He lives amongst noble objects, and must
imbibe some of their nobility; he lives amongst the elements of poetry, and must be poetical; but, more than all, he lives within the barriers, the strong-holds, the very last refuge which Nature herself has reared to preserve alive liberty in the earth, to preserve to man his highest hopes, his noblest emotions, his dearest treasures, his faith, his freedom, his hearth, and home.
How glorious do those mountain-ridges appear when we look
upon them as the unconquerable abodes of free hearts; as the stern, heaven-built walls from which the few, the feeble, the persecuted, the despised, the helpless child, the delicate woman, have from age to age, in their last perils, in all their weaknesses and emergencies, when power and cruelty were ready to swallow them up, looked down, and beheld the million waves of despotism break at their feet:-have
of murderous armies, and tyrants, the blasting spirit of ambition, fanaticism, and crushing domination recoil from their bases in despair.
" THANKS be to God for mountains!” is often the exclamation of my heart, as I trace the History of the World. From age to age, they have been the last friends of man. thousand extremities they have saved him.
What great hearts have throbbed in their defiles from the days of Leonidas to those of Andreas Hofer! What lofty souls, what tender hearts, what poor and persecuted creatures have they sheltered in their stony bosoms, from the weapons and tortures of their fellow men,
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold ! was the burning exclamation of Milton's agonized and indignant spirit, as he beheld those sacred bulwarks of freedom for once violated by the disturbing demons of the earth; and the sound of his fiery and lamenting appeal to Heaven, will be echoed in every generous soul to the end of time.
Thanks be to God for mountains! The variety, which they impart to the glorious bosom of our planet, were no small ad