Page images
PDF
EPUB

Some years since, I was travelling on horseback, in the most rugged parts of New Hampshire, among its craggy cliffs and rude and bold mountains, when I came suddenly upon a plain and moss-covered cottage, in the very bosom of a valley, where the brave settler had planted himself on a few acres of land, which alone seemed capable of cultivation. Every thing about the residence bespoke industry and care. Being fatigued, I stopped to ask refreshments for my horse.

A hale young girl, of about fifteen, bareheaded and barefooted, but perfectly modest and courteous, with all the ruddiness of Hebe, and all the nimbleness and vigour of Diana, went immediately for an armful of hay and a measure-full of oats, for my horse, and then kindly spread a table with a cloth as white as the snow-drift, and a bowl of pure milk and brown bread, for his rider. I never enjoyed a meal more. I offered the family pay for their hospitality; but they steadily refused, saying that I was welcome.

I was not willing thus to tax their kindness, and therefore took out a piece of money, to give to one of their children that stood near. “No,” said one of the parents,” he must not take it; we have no use for money." “Heaven be praised,” said I, “ that I have found people without avarice! I will not corrupt you ;” and, giving them a hearty thankoffering, wished them God's blessing, and took my leave.

Now here were these humble people, with a home which, if it were burned down to-day, their neighbours would rebuild for them to-morrow,— with clothing made from their own flocks by their own hands; with bread enough, and beef, pork, butter, cheese, milk, poultry, eggs, &c., in abundance; a good school for six months in the year, where their children probably learned more, because they knew the value of time, than those who were driven to school every day in the week and every week in the year; with a plain religious meeting on Sunday, where, without ostentation or parade, they meet their neighbours to exchange friendly salutations, to hear words of good moral counsel, and to worship God in the most simple, but not in the less acceptable, form; and, above all, here were hearts at peace with the world and with each other, full of hospitality to the passing stranger, uncankered by avarice, and undisturbed by ambition. Where upon earth, in an humble condition, or in any condition, shall we look for a more beautiful example of true independence, — for a brighter picture of the true philosophy of life?

EXERCISE XV. THE IRON MINE OF DANNAMOURA. Anon. [The following piece has the same general characteristics with the

preceding, but rises, occasionally, to more vividness of style.)

The following description of this celebrated mine, is given in the letter of an American lady:

“The very curious and justly celebrated iron mine of Dannamoura, is situated about thirty miles from * Upsala, or about seventy-five north of Stockholm. You must not suppose that our curiosity led us ladies so far in order to see an iron mine; but as the gentlemen were so desirous of visiting it, we, not wishing to remain at Upsala without them, went to the great' black hole' of Sweden. Nor have I now to regret that fatiguing day's ride of sixty miles, or the perils and alarms of the descent into those nether regions.

“ This mine is the oldest in Sweden, and produces by far the best iron in Europe. It has been regularly worked for more than four hundred years! and many millions of tons of its precious ore, have been drawn up from its deep caverns. I say precious ore, because so eagerly sought after by the shrewd manufacturers of England. We were told that a company in Hull-made a contract with the proprietors of the mine, for its whole produce, for one hundred years, which contract expired a short time since. A new one, for another century in prospective, has just been concluded with the same company.

“Formerly, this mine was worked in the usual manner, by sinking perpendicular shafts to a certain depth, and then excavating horizontally, leaving huge pillars of the ore to support the superincumbent stratum of rock. In the process of time, the immense depth of the mine made it more profitable to take off the whole roof of rock, and cut the vast columns down for other uses. Therefore, the mine which was once an immense subterranean arcade, with arches and pillars three hundred feet high, is now a yawning gulf, five hundred feet deep, by seven hundred long. Having long since extracted all the materials of the original pillars, they have again already worked their horizontal way far beneath the upper rocks, presenting a portico of jetty columns, hundreds of feet high, along the now lighted façade of the gulf.

• Pronounced, Oop'sălă.

“The refracted rays of daylight penetrate but a short way into the black corridors of this region of * Erebus. In the distant perspective were seen, by the lurid glare of a hundred torches, the Vulcan-like deities of the place, plying their huge hammers; the ring and clank of which, reverberating through the vaulted labyrinth, echoed louder than a thousand anvils, forging arms for a host of Titans.

" The mode of descent into these dominions of Chaos and Nox, is as singular as it is appalling, to one so unaccustomed as myself to such masculine enterprises.

“ Curiosity! they say thy name is Woman; — and never shall I forget into what madcap scrapes thou hast often led me! Imbued with a full share of the weakness of my sex, I could not refrain from accompanying the gentlemen in their explorations. From the verge of an overhanging cliff of rock, a platform is projected, on which is erected a horse power machine, to which are attached two buckets, of about three feet diameter, into one of which two persons enter, and descend, while the other elevates ore. · A miner stands on the rim of the bucket, in order to keep it from striking the rock.

“You can very readily imagine the difference between a descent down a dark shaft, where, when once one has dared to make the first step into the bucket, nothing is to be seen of the depths below, or of the dangers around, and that of being suspended over the brink of such an abyss, open to the daylight, where all the reality can be seen at a glance.

“ After descending about one hundred feet along the perpendicular side of the upper crust of rock, one suddenly glides past its under surface, and in a minute is suspended in mid air ; having no terra firma within hundreds of feet, — there, swinging about, like Montgolfier in the little basket of his first balloon.

“The sensation produced by this descending process, I should think is more like that felt by Monsieur Guille, when he cut loose in the first parachute that ever floated between earth and sky.

“We descended thus about five hundred feet, and then touched the pure ore at the bottom of the mine. Here we walked under the stupendous arches, and visited the extremity of the mine by torch-light. At the bottom, and exposed to the light, we saw a quantity of ice, which had lain there all the summer, and which never melts.

* Pronounced, Ěrlebus.

“ Before I entered the dark caverns in front of me, I turned to look up, with a sort of regret for the pleasant world I had been so suddenly torn from, when, instead of being converted for my frailty, like her of old, into a pillar of salt, or iron, I was transfixed with surprise by the singular and unique scene I beheld. — When I was in the upper world, the sun shining brightly, the sky had its usual midday brilliancy. - From where I now stood, it assumed the dark azure of the early dawn; and I almost fancied I could see the faint twinkling of the stars. The blue canopy over my head was not like the light and concave firmament, seen from the surface of our sphere, with its extended horizon, either perfectly unbroken, or indented with the wavy lines of the distant hills. On the contrary, it seemed a dense, opaque, and flat cover to my black prison, shutting me out forever from the rest of creation; the steep, black walls, with their jagged skylines, resembling a wild cloud driven before the hurricane.

“ The projecting points of rock above, with the persons moving on them, as seen through this hazy and uncertain medium, seemed to me like watchtowers and sentinels placed over the condemned. The torches, and the din below and around, with the swarthy forms of the genii of the place fitting across my path, saluting each other in their unknown jargon, — and, every now and then, the explosion of a blast, echoing from the yet unexplored depths, caused me almost to realize, in imagination, the Inferno of * Dante."

[blocks in formation]

[This piece is an example of “pure tone,” in the subdued forms of

tenderness and pathos : the utterance is gentle, low, and slow; the articulation delicate, but distinct.]

Dawn, gentle flower,

From the morning earth!
We will gaze and wonder

At thy wondrous birth!

* Pronounced, Dantay.

Bloom, gentle flower! .

Lover of the light,
Sought by wind and shower,

Fondled by the night!

· Fade, gentle flower!

All thy white leaves close;
Having shown thy beauty,

Time 'tis for repose.

Die, gentle flower,

In the silent sun!
So, - all pangs are over,

All thy tasks are done!

Day hath no more glory,

Though he soars so high;
Thine is all man's story,

Live, and love, - and die!

EXERCISE XVII. THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND THE SENSITIVE PLANT

Cowper. (An example of gay and humorous style, requiring “pure tone,full

force, midille pitch, and “ brisk movement,” with “vanishing stress, in the dialogue part.]

An oyster, tast upon the shore,
Was heard, though never heard before,
Complaining in a speech well worded,
And worthy thus to be recorded, -
“Ah! hapless wretch!- condemned to dwell
Forever in my native shell;
Ordained to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease;
But tossed and buffeted about, —
Now in the water and now out.
"Twere better to be born a stone,
Of ruder shape, and feeling none,
Than with a tenderness like mine,
And sensibilities so fine!

« PreviousContinue »