« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
and cannot exist out of it. Now if these fithes possessed at first the same natures as they do at present, their element was, of neceffity falt. This question seems there fore decided, without enquiring how the faleness of the sea is appointed to prevent its putrefaction for in small quantities, at least salt-water, the most strongly will putrify; and those who have been long becalmed in sultry regions, have but witnessed a fimilar disposition in the ocean itself. Nevertheless this is no putrid dilposition in the water, but in that immense quantity of animal particles, which in so many ages liave replenished the ocean. As to the degree of saltness in the fca, it varies in the same places at different fealons, sometimes at different depths, but in general it is found falteit where the sun is vertical and where the water suffers the reverest heat."
We are also assured by philosophers, that the feawater around the shores of Britain, contains about onetwenty-eighth, or one-thirtieth of lea-Salt, and about oneeightieth of magnefia falt.
After the enumeration of these particulars relative to the fea, you will permit me just to call your attention to two writers, who with peculiar beauty have dwelt on this subject.
Dr. James Fordyce thus expresses himfelf in his View of the Sea, and the passage was forcibly siggested to my mind, when contein plating the same grand object at Sidmouth.
“ In this place of security,” says that elegant writer, “ I view unaffrighted, though not unawed, the majestic ocean, spread out before me. Stupendous image of thy power, Omnipotene Creator! nor less of thy benevolence, Univerlal Parent! Was it not formed by thee to unite in bonds of mutual intercourse, thy wide extended family of mankind; to carry through various and dis. tant nations the respective productions and discoveries of each, to relieve or diminish their mutual wants, and
disseminate the blessings of religion and humanity unto the ends of the earth? But who can number the tribes or tell the diversity of living creatures with which thou haft replenished this mighty receptacle of waters, fitting all to enjoy their native element, and many to supply a rich and wholesome nourishment for man? May he receive it with thanksgiving as one of those benetits that, when placed within his power, were intended to empioy his industry and strengthen him for thy service? Nor would I forget to acknowledge that benignant Providence which hath, in so many other ways, rendered the fame element conducive to health and comfort, by furnishing stores of salt to seaton and preserve our food, by refreshing the adjacent coasts with falutary breezes, by invigorating the weak and restoring the diseased, that bathe in its briny waves !”
You will perceive that these observations are much the same as those suggested by Durham, only expreffed in more elegant language, and sublimed by the fervor of devotion.
The other writer to whom I alluded, as having dwelt with peculiar beauty on this subject, is the late Mr. Robinson, of Cambridge, who, by a reference to the sea, thus Atrikingly illustrates the character of the Deity: " Your fear of God is exceffive. The cause of this dread is a partial knowledge of God. Recollect what I faid in you sometime ago, concerning knowing only part of a victject. This is your cafe : you have attended to the judgments of Godto his threatening's against the wicked, and to that punishment which awaits them in another state; but you have not turned your attention to the MERCY of God expressed in his promises, and in his dispensations of goodness to others in your condition. Suppose I could take a person, one who had never seen the SEA, and carry him in an instant to the tea-fide, and let him down there ; and suppose the lea, at that inftant, to be in a storm; the great black and dismal clouds rolling, thunders bellowing, lightenings fathing, the winds roaring, the sea dathing, ten thousand watery mountains one against the other—the beach covered with shattered timber and cordage, mer. chandizes and corpses; this man would instantly conceive a dreadful idea of the sea, and would shudder and shriek, and fly for his life! It would be hard to give this man a pleasant notion of the fea, especially if he had been well informed that several of his relati. ons and friends had perished in the tempest; yet this man would have but half a right notion of the sea. For could he be prevailed upon to go down to the beach a few days after the heavens would smile, the air be serene, the water finooth, the seamen whistling and finging ; here a vessel of trade failing before the wind, there a feet of men of war coming into harbour ; yonder, pleasure boats balking in the sun, the Aute making melody to the breeze; the company, even the softer lex, enjoying themselves without fear: this man would form the other half-notion of the Sea, and ihe two put together, would be the just and true idca of it.” Apply tiris to our subject.
You will readily join with me in admiring the appo. fiteness of this illustration, since you have often regretted to me that religion thould ever be clothed in the fable garb of melancholy; for TRUE RELIGION is the adoration of that great and wonderful being, by whose extensive operations the felicity of the whole intelligent creation will be ultimately accomplished.
Wandering one day on the beach, early in the morn. ing, I met with an aged fisherman, feated under the cliff of a rock, and employed (like James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, of old) in mending his
I entered into conversation with him, and learnt from him many things with which I was previously un. acquainted. Among other particulars, he told me, that thele coafts had, of late years, been in a measure, de
terted by the finny tribe. For this fact no satisfactory reasons could be assigned. This spirit of einigration, by no means uncomnion, at present, amongst the human species, has, it seems, seized the picatory race; nor is it yet ascertained to what shores they have betaken themselves. I gave this fɔn of misfortune a trifle, for which he appeared extremely grateful. Indeed I pitied the poor old
man, who lamented the desertion, as it had been the occasion of narrowing the means of his subfiftence. On his brow was indented many a furrow, and his phyfiognomy assured me that he had, often. times, borne the “ the pitilefs pelting of the storm !".
Mackarel, however, are caught here in abundance. I saw a draught brought amore one evening, and poured from the net into a large basket. I was struck with their appearance, and handled them, for their colours were beautiful beyond expression. The filvery white was fhaded by purple dyes, and the quivering agonies of dissolution produced a thousand variations, marked by the most exquisite delicacy. Upon my return from this scene, I found the band belonging to the Sidmouth volunteers playing on the beach, which, combined with the murmurs of the “ wide weltering waves," generated the most pleasing sensations. The company were parading backwards and forwards the sun rapidly setring in the west, while, by the approaching fhades of darkness, we were admonished that day was closing upon us, and the empire of night about to be resumed. Indeed at that instant, to adopt the language of a celebrated female author" ! contemplated all nature at rest; the rocks, even grown darker in their appearance, looked as if they partook of the general repole, and reclined more heavily on their foundations."
The chief purport of my visit to Sidmouth, was to enjoy the company a valuable friend, who, on account of indifpofition, had been obliged to quit the metropolis, and chose to retire into this sequestered
part of the country. Him, and his amiable family I found emboromed in a vale, which, for the softness of its air and the richness of its prospect, was delightful beyond expression. Their mansion was neat and commo. dious; their view on the left extended towards the sea, and on the right was terminated by a rising hill, whilst the declivity of the opposite mountain, inter, sected by inclosures, and spotted with theep, imparted a most picturesque scene to the eye of the beholder. Near the foot of the door ran a rivulet ; which, by its pleasing murmurs soothed the ear, and by its transparency gratified the imagination. About the distance of two fields above the mansion, the sea beautifully un. folded itself to view between the hills, and vessels were constantly appearing and disappearing, not wholly un. like the objects passing through a magic lantern; though certainly the scene had no connection with the iudi. crous, nor were the objects transmitted with equal rapidity. At the top of the hill was an ancient encampment; but whether of Roman or Danish origin cannar be ascertained with certainty. There is no doubt, however, that these coafts were frequently infested by the enemy in the earlier periods of British history. From this eminence we looked down on the other side into the little village of Sidbury, and its clustered cottages fug: gested to the mind those fattering images of felicity which we usually connect with harmless rufticity.
My principal abode was at the house of my friend. Thence we often sallied forth to survey the adjacent prospects; but the weather was by no means favourable to our excursions. One fine day, however, we ascended the opposite hill, clambering up its side with difficulty. But its summit amply recompensed the toil which we had endured. Though totally unaccustomed to the art of drawing, yet feating myself upon a hillock, I was tempted to take a rough sketch of the cottage we had left, and of the hills with which it was surrounded. The