Page images
PDF
EPUB

It is in knowledge, as in swimming; he who ostentatiously sports and flounders on the surface, makes more noise and splashing, and attracts more attention, than the

industrious pearl diver, who plunges in search of trea5 sures at the bottom. The “universal acquirements" of

William Kieft were the subject of great marvel and admiration among his countrymen,-he figured about at the Hague, with as much vain-glory, as does a profound Bonze

at Pekin, who has mastered half the letters of the Chinese 10 alphabet; and, in a word, was unanimously pronounced a universal genius !—I have known many universal

geniuses in my time; though, to speak my mind freely, I never knew one, who, for the ordinary purposes of life,

was worth his weight in straw ;-but, for the purposes of 15 government, a little sound judgment, and plain common

sense, is worth all the sparkling genius that ever wrote poetry, or invented theories.

LESSON LVII.- PALMYRA.-WILLIAM WARE.

Letter from a Roman nobleman, resident at Palmyra. If the gods, dear Marcus and Lucilia, came down to dwell upon earth, they could not but choose Palmyra for their seat, both on account of the general beauty of the

city and its surrounding plains, and the exceeding sweet5 ness and serenity of its climate. It is a joy here only to

sit still and live. The air, always loaded with perfume, seems to convey essential nutriment to those who breathe it; and its hue, especially when a morning or evening sun

shines through it, is of that golden cast, which, as poets 10 feign, bathes the top of Olympus.

Never do we tremble here before blasts like those which from the Apennines sweep along the plains and cities of the Italian coast. No extremes of either heat or cold, are

experienced in this happy spot. In winter, airs, which, in 15 other places, equally far to the north, would come bearing

with them an icy coldness, are here tempered by the vast deserts of sand, which stretch away in every direction, and which, it is said, never wholly lose the heat treasured up

during the fierce reign of the summer sun. And, in sum20 mer, the winds which, as they pass over the deserts, are

indeed like the breath of a furnace, long before they reach the city change to a cool and refreshing breeze, by traversing, as they do, the vast tracts of cultivated ground, which, as I have already told you, surround the capital, to a very great extent on every side.

Palmyra is the very heaven of the body. Every sense is fed to the full, with that which it chiefly covets. But 5 when I add to this, that its unrivalled position, in respect

to a great inland traffic, has poured into the lap of its inhabitants a sudden and boundless flood of wealth, making every merchant a prince, you will truly suppose, that

however heartily I extol it for its outward beauties, and 10 all the appliances of luxury, I do not conceive it very fa

vorable in its influences upon the character of its population.

Palmyrenes, charming as they are, are not Romans. They are enervated by riches, and the luxurious sensual 15 indulgences which they bring along, by necessity, in their

train ;-all their evil power being here increased by the voluptuous softness of the climate. I do not say, that all are so.

All Rome cannot furnish a woman more truly Roman than Fausta, nor a man more worthy that 20 name than Gracchus. It is of the younger portion of the

inhabitants I now speak. These are, without exception, effeminate. They love their country and their great queen; but they are not a defence, upon which in time of

need to rely. Neither do I deny them courage. They 25 want something more vital still bodily strength and mar

tial training; Were it not for this, I should almost fear for the issue of any encounter between Rome and Palmyra.

But, as it is, notwithstanding the great achievements of 30 Odenatus and Zenobia, I cannot but deem the glory of

this state to have risen to its highest point, and even to have passed it. You may think me to be hasty, in forming this opinion; but I am persuaded you will agree with

me, when you shall have seen more at length the grounds 35 upon which I rest it, as they are laid down in my last

letter to Portia.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

LESSON LVIII.---BEAUTIES OF NATURE.-SĄMUEL G. HOWE.

There is nothing in which the goodness of God is more apparent, than in the unsparing flood of beauty which he pours out upon all things around us. What is more strik

ing than the fact, that this beautiful canopy of clouds, 5 which curtain over our globe, when looked dov:n upon

from a mountain-top, or from a balloon, is like a leaden

lake, without beauty, or even color; it is like the dull canvass on the reverse of a beautiful picture; but from within,~from where God meant man to see it, it is

adorned, beautified, and variegated, in a manner inimi5 table by art.

Dainty people cross the seas, to be thrilled by the wild sketches of Salvator Rosa, or to languish over the soft tints of Guido; and the rich man beggars whole villages,

to hang up in his gallery three square feet of the pencil10 work of Corregio; but God hangs up in the summer

evening sky, for the poorest peasant boy, a picture whole leagues in extent, the tints of which would make Raphael throw down his pencil in despair ; and when He gathers

together the dark folds of the sky, to prepare the autumn 15 thunder storm, He heaves up the huge clouds into moun

tain masses, throws them into wild and sublime attitudes, colors them with the most lowering hues, and forms a picture which Michael Angelo, with all his genius, could

not copy

20 The rich man adorns his cabinet with a few costly

works, which hang unchanged for years, while the poor man's gallery is not only adorned with pictures that eclipse the chef d'æuvres of human genius, but they are

continually changed, and every hour a new one is hung 25 up to his admiring gaze; for ihe firmament rolls on, and,

like a great kaleidoscope, at every turn, presents a new and beautiful combination of light, and shade, and color. Let not its rich pictures roll away unheeded; let not its

lessons be lost upon the young; but let them, in admiring 30 it, know that God's great hand is ever turning it, for the

happiness of all his children.

LESSON LIX.-AN INTERESTING ADVENTURE.-WILLIAM J.

SNELLING. I wandered far into the bare prairie, which was spread around me like an ocean of snow, the gentle undulations here and there having no small resemblance to the ground

swell. When the sun took off his night-cap of mist, (for 5 the morning was cloudy,) the glare of the landscape, of

rather snowscape, was absolutely painful to my eyes; but a small veil of green crape obviated that difficulty. Toward noon I was aware of a buffalo, at a long distance,

[ocr errors]

um.

turning up the snow with his nose and feet, and cropping the withered grass beneath. I always thought it a deed of mercy to slay such an old fellow, he looks so miserable

and discontented with himself. As to the individual in 5 question, I determined to put an end to his long, turbulent, and evil life.

To this effect, I approached him, as a Chinese malefactor approaches a mandarin,—that is to say, prone, like a

serpent. But the parity only exists with respect to the 10 posture; for the aforesaid malefactor expects to receive

pain, whereas I intended to inflict it. He was a grimlooking barbarian,-and, if a beard be a mark of wisdom, Peter, the Hermit, was a fool to him. So, when I had at

tained a suitable proximity, I appealed to his feelings with 15 a bullet. He ran,—and I ran; and I had the best reason

to run--for he ran after me, and I thought that a pair of horns might destroy my usual equanimity and equilibri

In truth, I did not fly any too fast, for the old bashaw was close behind me, and I could hear him 20 breathe. I threw away my gun ;-and, as there was no

tree at hand, I gained the centre of a pond of a few yards area, such as are found all over the prairies in February

Here I stood secure, as though in a magic circle, well 25 knowing that neither pigs nor buffaloes can walk upon

ice. My pursuer was advised of this fact also, and did not venture to trust himself on so slippery a footing. Yet it seemed that he was no gentleman; at least he did not

practise forgiveness of injuries. He perambulated the 30 periphery of the pond, till I was nearly as cold as the ice

It was worse than the stone jug, or the blackhole ai Calcutta. Ah! thought I, if I only had my gun, I would soon relieve you from your post.

But discontent was all in vain. Thus I remained, and 35 thus he remained, for at least four hours. In the mean

while, I thought of the land of steady habits; of baked beans, and pumpkins, and codfish on Saturdays. There, said I, to myself, my neighbor's proceeding would be

reckoned unlawful, I guess; for no one can be held in 40 custody without a warrant and sufficient reason.

I get back, I won't be caught in such a scrape again.

Grief does not last forever ; neither does anger ;-and my janitor, either forgetting his resentment, which, to say the truth, was not altogether groundless, or thinking it

under me.

If ever

was useless, or tired of his self-imposed duty, or for some reason or other, bid me farewell with a loud bellow, and walked away to a little oasis that was just in sight, and

left me to my meditations. I picked up my gun, and fol5 lowed. He entered the wood, -and so did I, just in time to see him fall and expire.

The sun was setting; and the weather was getting colder and colder. I could hear the ground crack, and the

trees split, with its intensity. I was at least twenty miles 10 from home; and it behoved me, if I did not wish to “wake

in the morning and find myself dead," to make a fire as speedily as possible. I now first perceived that, in my very natural hurry to escape from my shaggy foe, I had

lost the martin-skin, wherein I carried my flint, steel, and 15 tinder. This was of little consequence ; I had often made a fire by the aid of my gun before, and I drew my

knife and began to pick the flint. Death to my hopes, -at the very first blow, I struck it ten yards from the lock, and it

was lost forever in the snow. 20 “Well,” said I to myself, “I have cooked a pretty kettle

of fish, and brought my call's head to a fine market. Shall I furnish those dissectors, the wolves, with a subject, or shall cold work the same effect on me that grief

did upon Niobe ? Would that I had a skin like a buf25 falo!”

Necessity is the spur, as well as the mother, of invention; and, at these last words, a new idea flashed through my brain like lightning. I verily believe that I took off the skin of my victim, in fewer than ten strokes of

my

knife. 30 Such a hide entire is no trifle ; it takes a strong man to

lift it ;-but I rolled the one in question about me, with the hair inward, and lay down to sleep, tolerably sure that neither Jack Frost, nor the wolves, could get at me, through

an armor thicker and tougher, than the sevenfold shield 35 of Ajax.

Darkness closed in; and a raven began to sound his note of evil omen, from a neighboring branch. black angel,” said I; “I have heard croaking before now, and am not to be frightened by any of

your

color.” Sud. 40 denly a herd of wolves struck up at a distance, probably

excited by the scent of the slain buffalo. “Howl on," said I; "and, being among wolves, I will howl too, for I like to be in the fashion : but that shall be the extent of our intimacy." Accordingly, I uplifted my voice, like a peli.

“Croak on,

« PreviousContinue »