Page images
PDF
EPUB

And fair young faces all ablush;

Perhaps you may have seen, some day,

Roses crowding the self-same way, Out of a wilding, way-side bush. 5. Listen closer. When you have done

With woods and cornfields and grazing herds, A lady, the loveliest ever the sun Looked down upon, you must paint for me ; Oh if I only could make you see

The clear blue eyes, the tender smile, The sovereign sweetness, the gentle grace, The woman's soul and the angel's face

That are beaming on me all the while !

I need not speak these foolish words: Yet one word tells you all I would say,

She is my mother : you will agree That all the rest may be thrown away.

6. Two little urchins at her knee
You must paint, sir; one like me, -

The other with a clearer brow,
And the light of his adventurous eyes
Flashing with boldest enterprise :
At ten years old he went to sea,

God knoweth if he be living now,
He sailed in the good ship" Commodore,”—

Nobody ever crossed her track

To bring us news, and she never came back.
Ah, 'tis twenty long years and more
Since that old ship went out of the bay

With my great-hearted brother on her deck:

I watched him till he shrank to a speck, And his face was toward me all the way.

7. Bright his hair was, a golden brown,

The time we stood at our mother's knee; That beauteous head, if it did go down,

Carried sunshine into the sea !

8. Out in the fields one summer night

We were together, half afraid
Of the corn-leaves' rustling, and of the shade

Of the high hills, stretching so still and far,-
Loitering till after the low little light
Of the candle shone through the open door,

And, over the hay-stack's pointed top,
All of a tremble, and ready to drop

The first half-hour, the great yellow star,
That we, with staring, ignorant eyes,
Had often and often watched to see

Propped and held in its place in the skies
By the fork of a tall red mulberry tree,
Which close in the edge of our flax-field grew,-

Dead at the top,- just one branch full

Of leaves, notched round, and lined with wool, From which it tenderly shook the dew

Over our heads, when we came to play
In its handbreadth of shadow day after day.

Afraid to go home, sir ; for one of us bore
A nest full of speckled and thin-shelled eggs,
The other, a bird, held fast by the legs,
Not so big as a straw of wheat :
The berries we gave her she wouldn't eat,
But cried and cried, till we held her bill,
So slim and shining, to keep her still.
9. At last we stood at our mother's knee.

Do you think, sir, if you try,
You can paint the look of a lie ?

If you can, pray have the grace

To put it solely in the face
Of the urchin that is likest me;

I think 'twas solely mine, indeed :
But that's no matter,-paint it so;

The eyes of our mother—(take good heed)-
Looking not on the nest-full of eggs,
Nor the fluttering bird, held so fast by the legs,
But straight through our faces down to our lies,

And oh, with such injured, reproachful surprise,
I felt my heart bleed where that glance went as though
A sharp blade struck through it.

10. You, sir, know,
That you on the canvas are to repeat
Things that are fairest, things most sweet,-
Woods and cornfields and mulberry tree,-
The mother,—the lads, with their bird, at her knee,

But, oh that look of reproachful woe!
High as the heavens your name I'll shout,
If you paint me the picture, and leave that out.

LXXV.-SHALLOW SEA, IN SCOTLAND.

HUGH MILLER.

1. The first scene in the Tempest opens amid the confusios and turmoil of the hurricane-amid thunders and lightnings, the roar of the wind, the shouts of the seamen, the rattling of cordage, and the wild dash of the billows. The history of the period represented by the Old Red Sandstone seems, in what now forms the northern half of Scotland, to have opened in a similar manner. The finely-laminated lower tilestones of England were deposited evidently in a calm sea

During the contemporary period in our own country, the vast space which now includes Orkney and Lochness, Dingwall and Gamrie, and many a thousand square mile besides, was the scene of a shallow ocean, perplexed by powerful currents, and agitated by waves.

2. A vast stratum of water-rolled pebbles, varying in depth from a hundred feet to a hundred yards, remains in a thousand different localities to testify of the disturbing agencies of this time of commotion. The hardest masses which the stratum encloses,-porphyries of vitreous fracture that cut glass as readily as fint, and masses of quartz that strike fire quite as profusely from steel,-are yet polished and ground down into bullet-like forms, not an angular fragment appearing in some parts of the mass for yards together. The debris of our harder rocks rolled for centuries in the beds of our more impetuous rivers, or tossed for ages along our more exposed and precipitous sea-shores, could not present less equivocally the marks of violent and puolonged attrition than the pebbles of this bed.

3. And yet it is surely difficult to conceive how the bottom of any sea should have been so violently and so equally agitated for so greatly extended a space as that which intervenes between Mealforvony in Inverness-shire, and Pomona in Orkney, in one direction; and between Applecross and Trouphead in another,—and for a period so prolonged that the entire area should have come to be covered with a stratum of rolled pebbles of almost every variety of ancient rock, fifteen stories' hight in thickness. The very variety of its contents shows that the period must have been prolonged. A sudden flood sweeps away with it the accumulated debris of a range of mountains; but to blend together, in equal mixture the debris of so many ranges, as well as to grind down their roughness and angularities, and fill up the interstices with the sand and gravel produced in the process, must be a work of time.

4. I have examined with much interest, in various localities, the fragments of ancient rock inclosed in this formation. Many of them are no longer to be found in situ, and the group is essentially different from that presented by the more modern gravels. On the shores of the Frith of Cromarty, for instance, by far the most abundant pebbles are of a blue schistose gneiss; fragments of gray granite and white quartz are also common; and the sea-shore at half ebb presents at a short distance the appearance of a long belt of bluish gray, from the color of the prevailing stones which compose it.

5. The prevailing color of the conglomerate of the district, on the contrary, is a deep red. It contains pebbles of small-grained red granite, red quartz rock, red feldspar, red porphyry, an impure red jasper, red hornstone, and a red granite gneiss, identical with the well-marked gneiss of the neighboring sutors. This last is the only rock now found in the district, of which fragments occur in the conglomerate.

6. It must have been exposed at the time to the action of the waves, though afterwards buried deep under succeeding formations, until again thrust to the surface by some great internal convulsion of a date comparatively recent.

LXXVI.-ICHTHYOLITIC BEDS.

Hugu MILLER. 1. The period of this shallow and stormy ocean passed. The bottom composed of the identical conglomerate which now forms the summit of some of our loftiest mountains, sank throughout its wide area to a depth so profound as to be little affected by tides or tempests. During this second period there took place a vast deposit of coarse sandstone strata, with here and there a few thin beds of rolled pebbles.

for tempests.orit of coarse

rolled

« PreviousContinue »