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"You have travelled in Mexico," said he; "do you not agree with me in the opinion that the finest mountains in the world are those single conea of perpetual snow rising out of the splendid vegetation of the tropics? The Himalayas, although loftier, can scarcely make an equal impression; they lie further to the north, without the belt of tropical growths, and their sides are dreary and sterile in comparison. You remember Orizaba," continued he; "hero is an engraving from a rough sketch of mine. I hope you will find it correct." He rose and took down the illustrated folio which accompanied the last edition of his " Minor Writings," turned over the leaves, and recalled, at each plate, some reminiscence of his American travel. "I still think," ho remarked as he closed the book, " that Chimborazo is the grandest mountain in the world."
Among the objects in his study was a living chameleon, in a box with a glass lid. The animal, which was about six inches long, was lazily dozing on a bed of sand, with a big blue-fly (the unconscious provision for his dinner) perched upon his back. "Ho has just been sent to me from Smyrna," said Humboldt; "he is very listless and unconcerned in his manner." Just then the chameleon opened one of his long, tubular eyes, and looked up at ns. "A peculiarity of this animal," he continued, "is the power of looking in different directions at the same time. He can turn one eye toward heaven, while the other inspects the earth. There are many clergymen who have the same power."
After showing me some of Hildebrand's watercolor drawings, he returned to his seat and began to converse about American affairs, with which he seemed to be entirely familiar. He spoke with great admiration of Col. Fremont, whose defeat ho profoundly regretted. "But it is at least a most cheering sign," he said, "and an omen of good for your country, that more than half a million of men supported by their votes a man of Fremont's character and achievements." With regr.fi to Buchanan, ho said: "I had occasion to speak of his Ostend Manifesto not long since, in a letter which has been published, and I could not characterize its spirit by any milder term than savage." He also spoke of our authors, and inquired particularly after Washington Irving, whom he had once seen. I told him I had the fortune to know Mr. Irving, and had seen him not long before leaving New-York. "He must be at least fifty years old," said Humboldt. "He is seventy," I answered, " but as young as ever." "Ah !" said he, " I have lived so long that I have almost lost the consciousness of time. I belong to the ago of Jefferson and Gallatin, and I heard of Washington's death while travelling in South America."
I have repeated but the smallest portion of his conversation, which flowed on in an uninter
rupted stream of the richest knowledge. On recalling it to my mind, after leaving, I was surprised to find how great a number of subjects he had touched upon, and how much he had said or seemed to have said—for he has the rare faculty of placing a subject in the clearest and most vivid light by a few luminous words—concerning each. He thought, as he talked, without effort. I should compare his brain to the Fountain of Vaucluse—a still, deep and tranquil pool, without a ripple on its surface, but creatiug a river by its overflow. He asked mo many questions, but did not always wait for an answer, the question itself suggesting some remiriiscence, orsome thought which he had evident pleasure in expressing. I sat or walked, following his movements, an eager listener, and speaking in alternate English and Gerniau, until the time which he had granted to me had expired. Seifert at length reappeared and said to him in a manner at once respectful and familiar, " It is time," and I took my leave.
"You have travelled much, and seen many ruins," said Humboldt, as he gave me his hand again; "now you have seen one more." "Not a ruin," I could not help replying, " but a pyramid." For I pressed the hand which had touched those of Frederick the Great, of Forster, the companion of Capt. Cook, of Klopstock and Schiller, of Pitt, Napoleon and Josephine, the Marshals of the Empire, Jefferson, Hamilton, Wieland, Herder, Goethe, Cuvier, La Place, Gay-Lussac, Beethoven, Walter Scott—in short, of every great man whom Europe has produced for three-quarters of a century. I looked not only into the eyes which had seen this living • history of the world pass by, scene after scene, till the actors retired one by one, to return no more, but had beheld the cataract of Atures and the forests of the Cassiquiare, Chimborazo, the Amazon and Popocatapetl, the Altaian Alps of Siberia, the Tartar steppes and the Caspian Sea. Such a splendid circle of experience well befits a iifo of such geuerous devotion to science. I have never seen so sublime an example of old age—crowned with imperishable success, full of the ripest wisdom, cheered and sweetened by the noblest attributes of the heart. A ruin, indeed! No: a human temple, perfect as the Parthenon.
As I was passing out through the cabinet of Natural History, Seifcrt's voice arrested me. "I beg your pardon, Sir," said he, "but do you know what this is?" pointing to the antlers of a Rocky Mountain elk. "Of course I do," said I, " I have helped to eat many of them." He then pointed out the other specimens, and took me into the library to show me some drawings by his son-in-law, Miihlhausen, who had accompanied Lieut. Whipple in his expedition to the Rocky Mountains. He also showed me a very elaborate specimen of bead-work, in a gilt frame. "This," he said, "is the work of a Kirghiz princess, who presented it to His Excellency when we were on our journey to Siberia." "You accompanied His Excellency then'(" I asked. "Yes," said he, " we were there in '29." Seifert is justly proud of having shared for thirty or forty years the fortunes of his master. There was a ring, and a servant came to announce a visitor. "Ah, the Prince Ypsilanti," said he: "don't let him in; don't Jet a single soul in; I must go down and dress'THis Excellency. Sir, excuse me—yours, most respectfully," and bowed himself out. As I descended to the street, I passed Prince Ypsilanti on the stairs.
A poetical epistle from ITenry Ware to his wife, written in 1828, during a journey on horseback into Vermont.
Since I was parted from your side;
In solitude I ride;
1 am not of an anxious mind,
Nor prone to cherish useless fear;
Yet oft, methinks, the very wind
That many an evil may lake place
Within a fortnight's narrow space.
'Tis true, indeed; disease and pain
May all this while have been your lot;
And, when I reach my home again,
I need but dwell on thoughts like these,
To be as wretched as I please.
But no,— a happier thought is mine;
The absent, like the present scene,
Who bids us wait serene
And who should feel this tranquil trust
In that Benignant One above,—
And rules with pitying love,—
That make life's changeful wilderness,
Alike designed to bless 1
But they should bring us no dismay;
And then to pass away.
An equal calmness let us wear j
And still its throbs of care.
VIA CRUCIS, VIA LUCIS.
FROM THE GERMAN.
Through night comes the morning; if darkness entomb,
With the veil of its horror, creation from sight, Never mind, never mind ! after midnight's deep gloos Comes the glory of sunrise, in love and in light.
Through storm comes the calm; when o'er earth aid through heaven, The hurricane's thunder-wheel echoing goes, Never mind, never mind ! after storm-sounds are gives. Comes the stillness, the calmness, the peace of repose!
Through frost comes the spring; when the north wind sweeps past,
Benumbing the sap in the woodland and bowers, Never mind, never mind ! after winter's fierce blast, ComeB spring, whispering softly of leaves and of flowers!
Through strife comes the conquest; when trials attend.
And dangers and conflicts around thee increase; Never mind, never mind ! when the struggle shall end.
Comes the voice of rejoicing, the sweet tones «' peace.
Through toil comes repose ; if at midsummer noon The heathas o'erpowered thee, and labor oppressed;
Never mind, never mind! for the cool evening soon In the sweetness of slumber shall soothe thee to rest.
Through the cross comes the crown! when the cam of this life,
Like giants in strength, may to crush thee combine, Never mind, never mind ; after sorrow's sad strife, Shall the peace and the crown of salvation be thine.
Through woe comes delight: if at evening thou sigh, And thy soul still at midnight in sorrow appears;
Never mind, never mind! for the morning is nigh, Whose sunbeams of gladness shall dry up thy tears!
Through death comes our life : to the portal of pain. Through Time's thistle fields are our weary steps driven;
Never mind, never mind ! through this passage we gain The mansions of light and the portals of heaven.
VOLCANOES—THEIR NATURE AND THE PHENOMENA USUALLY ATTENDANT ON THEIR ACTION.
A volcano is an opening in the earth's crust, bearing the general appearance of a vent for its subterranean fires. The geographical distribntion of volcanoes is very considerable. They are found in every zone from the equator to the poles.. Several thousands of them are known, some extinct, others still in a state of activity.
The matters ejected by a volcano, consist of smoke, ashes, alluvium and lava, with the accompaniments of thunder, lightning, violent concussions of the earth, wind and rain.
Smoke usually precedes all other eruptive appearances, and it consists for the most part of steam, so long as it exhibits a whitish color. A moderate degree of heat in the crater is capable of producing it. This steam is seldom pure, but generally associated with other gases, such as sulphuretted hydrogen and hydrochloric acid gas. Sulphuretted hydrogen is easily recognised
by its disagreeable smell, and hydrochlorio acid gas, by its white fumes and stifling odor.
The Ashes generally appear in the middle or towards the end of a volcanic ont-break, and consist of the substance of the lava finely divided. The ash resembles in appearance fine powder or coarse gravel, and in this state is called volcanic sand. In both forms the ash is carried upwards by the force of the ascending vapor with which it is intermingled. This causes the dark appearance of the fumes, and the dim and troubled character of the sunlight during an eruption; for the ash fills the air in such quantities, and falls down again so slowly and in such a finely divided condition, that it necessarily interrupts the free passage of light from the sun. The cause of this fine division of the lava is not known. It is most probable that the ash is formed in consequence of the sudden outbreak of escaping gas through the melted lava, which scatters the particles of the fiery river asunder, and these cooling, form those clouds of ashes which descend on the surrounding plains.
Alluvium.—During the eruption, or after the ontbreak of the lava, enormous masses of steam arise from the crater or mouth of the volcano, which is condensed by the cold atmosphere surrounding its summit; this sometimes produces violent showers of rain, even in countries where, under other circumstances, these appearances are quite unknown. In this manner, floods are occasioned, which, pouring themselves over the dust-liko ashes and light dross ejected from the volcano, ultimately develop into torrents of mud, which on account of their rapid motion, are
sometimes equally as destructive as the floods of fiery lava.
Lava.—This forms one of the most important products of volcanic action, and is satisfactory proof that in the inside of the earth a high degree of heat predominates. Almost all volcanoes have, as a common character, a conical outward figure, and at their summit a funnel-formed depression called the crater, which penetrates to the depths of the earth, and forms a channel through which the fiery fluid materials of the earth's nucleus are poured on the earth's surface.
A. few explanatory remarks are required in this place. The most distinguished scientific men now living, favor the opinion that the earth was at one time an immense sphere of nebulous matter, and that all the elements which now enter into the composition of its solid and fluid parts then existed, comparatively speaking, uncombined and in the gaseous form. In the course of immenso periods of time, the attractive forces among the elements gradually predominated over the repulsive, the nebulous matter condensed about a common centre, evolved heat and light, and the earth became a radiant star, or self-luminous body. Another cycle of
ages elapsed, during which there was a continual loss of heat from the surface, by free radiation into the stellar spaces; the condensing and cooling processes consequently went on, and, ultimately, that surface was cooled down to solid orust, which now envelops the fiery nucleus. The earth is, therefore, at present, an opaque or dark body, and, if these views be oorrect, it is an extinguished star. It is, in fact, an intensely heated fluid spheroid, covered with a crust of badly conducting solid matter from twenty to thirty miles in thickness, which bears about the same relative proportion to the bulk of its yet fiery interior, as the shell of an egg does to its fluid contents.
These views are not at variance with any known facts, and are supported by the figure of the earth, which is really such as would be assumed by a fluid mass; and also by the fact, that its temperature increases from its surface to its interior. A series of observations made in several of the principal lead and silver mines in Saxony, gave one degree of Fahrenheit for every sixtyfive feet of descent. In this case the bulb of the thermometer was introduced into cavities purposely cut in the solid rock, at depths varying from 200 to 900 feet. This increase of heat does not, however, follow the same law over the whole earth ; for in other mines it is necessary to descend thrice as far for each degree of temperature. If we adopt M. Cordier's estimate of one degree Fahrenheit for every forty-five feet of depth, as the mean result, and assume tbat the temperature increases below in the same ratio, at the depth of two miles, the earth would have the temperature of boiling water; and at the depth of about twenty-four miles we should arrive at the melting point of iron, a heat sufficient to fuse rocks and all known substances.
Volcanoes must therefore be regarded as openings through the earth's crust, which communicate directly with the fiery fluid in its interior. The high temperature of tho lava which, when it first issues forth from the mountain, glows with the splendor of the sun, when compared with the law of the increase of temperature from the surface to the interior, proves that it must rise from vast depths iu the earth. Lifted by great mechanical pressure, it rises in the tubular passages of the mountain, and if the sides of the cone be sufficiently strong to withstand the hydrostatic pressure, it may overflow the walls of the crater at the top of the volcano, as happened in the Peak of Teneriffe, to whose very summit Humboldt traced a stream of vitreous lava. But generally the lava, owing to the accumulated hydrostatic pressure, makes for itself a lateral passage through the flanks of the mountain; and the thunder-tones and violent concussions of the earth which accompanied the effort at its elevation, gradually subside as the sun bright flood rolls forth from its side.
It has been shown that the word smoke, as applied to volcanic appearances, must be understood in a peculiar sense; that the smoke of a voloano consists of steam intermingled with various gases and volcanic ashes, or lava, in a finely comminuted state; so also the word flame is somewhat restricted in its application. The flames of a volcano are rarely, if ever, derived from inflammatory gases, but arc rather the result of the light emitted from the showers of incandescent or red-hot rocks and fragments of lava, which it is perpetually throwing upwards; and the reflection of the solar splendors of the lava in its interior, by the clouds surrounding its summit.
There is something tremendous in the thought that we are only separated by a few miles of solid rook from a fiery fluid, which iAihss its appearance at the mouth of the vole iao, and whose stormy undulations produce earthquakes, by which the solid strata of the earth's crust are shattered and dislocated. Every region of the globe bears proof of the fierceness of these internal fires, which have piled up the rocks into hills, and the hills into mountains. When nature is thus convulsed, the earth is draped in mourning; the heat and poisonous exhalations destroy all vegetation and animal life. For miles around a volcano, after an eruption, nothing is visible but sterility and death. With the return of a more peaceful era, the earth again becomes covered with fertility and life. Vegetation, in all its endless diversified forms of beauty, once more adorns its surface, and hides from vulgar observation the terrible convulsions of the past, and amidst those trees and flowers animal life again disports itself in its wonted security and happiness. Thus is a green, lovely, but flimsy mantle been repeatedly thrown as it were in charity and kindness over the evidence of former disturbances, and over J the proofs of the convulsive throes through which our planet has passed in the several stages of its gestation. C——s.
THE ICE IN THE EAST RIVER.
During yesterday forenoon the East River was almost entirely blockaded with ice, and the ferryboats were only able to make occasional trips. In the afternoon the north-easterly wind started some of the ice down the river and allowed more frequent passage of the boats on some of the upper ferries. About 4 o'clock the beam of one of the Houston street ferry-boats stopped on the centre, and she was drifted to a dock some distance below the Navy Yard. The Peck-slip boats made occasional trips during the day-time and were withdrawn at dark. On Saturday evening the trips on this ferry were discontinued about dark, and hundreds of persons were compelled to cross tho Fulton ferry or go by the way
of Grand street. At 2 o'clock in the morninc a Grand-street boat left the New-York side aid did not return again until 2 o'clock A. M.
On Saturday afternoon the river at Wall stre« ferry was blocked up and hundreds of peopk were crossing upon the ice. The ships Unioa from New-Orleans, and Charles Holmes frost Havana were stuck in the ice for some time, an; finally were obliged to make the best of their way to Jersey City.
The Staten Island boats up to Saturday evening have made their trips with considerable regularity. Yesterday but one trip was made. The Huguenot come up to the city from Port Richmond in the morning, and left again at 11 A. M. on her return. There were no boats from Quarantine in consequence of the north-east wind forcing immense masses of ice upon that store, also preventing the arrival and departure of vessels.
The Hamilton Avenue, South of Wall street ferries were laid up yesterday.
The Herald gives the following account of the ice-crossing on Saturday:
"Notwithstanding the large quantities of ice that usually makes its appearance in our harbor and rivers, it is very unusual for it to accumulate in such large quantities as to admit of i passage-way across either of the great rivers that wash our shores. This phenomenon, however, occurred once in the year 1852, when the East River was frozen across from shore to shore, and thousands of people passed over to the other side—it being considered a great feat to do so.
"The same circumstance occurred yesterday, and it is estimated that 20,000 persons must have taken advantage of the circumstance to walk, instead of sail, from New-York to Brooklyn and back.
On the change of the tide yesterday morning, the vast floes of ice in the bay were swept up the East River, which being already full of ice, soon wedged together and formed a homogeneous mass, extending from shore to shore, and bounded on the North by the Fulton Ferry, and on the south by the South Ferry. The fact that the river was frozen across soon became known, and Bbout 10s o'clock the first adventurous traveller made his way over to the Brooklyn side. The news spread, and soon a continuous stream kept pouring across from the foot of Wall street, most of whom landed at Thompson's slip on the other side. The novelty of the exhibition soon drew crowds to witness it, and the docks and ships soon became filled with interested spectators. For five hours the travel was kept up, the ice to all appearance being strong enough to support a horse and cart on any part traversed by the multitude who were crossing. Not only were men and boys taking advantage of this state of things, but females also ventured on the ice, and over a hundred of them passed to the other side. The crowds on the docks cheered the courageous women loudly, and everybody seemed to think it all very fine fun.
"The sight was a magnificent one. Below lay an unbroken mass of ice, covering an area of five square miles. The surface, though of but one color, was variously tinted, and relieved here and there by moving specks—for such the men and boys on the river seemed to be. The shores on either side were lined with people shouting, hurrahing and having a good time of it generally, and the utmost hilarity prevailed.
"This continued until 4 o'clock, when the tide began to turn and the water sensibly to lower in the slips. The more cautious left the ice and came ashore, but it seemed impossible te warn the boys and men who were in the center of the stream.
"In a little while the ice near the docks became fissured on the New-York side, and it was evident that the ebb tide would soon make short work of the ice. The people on the dock saw this, and shouted to those on the ice to come off immediately;' but they had done so much shouting before that they were not heeded. In a little while there was a great chasm near the shore this side, when the alarm spread to those on the ice to run to the other side. At this time nearly five hundred persons were on the ice and running for the Brooklyn shore, where a few got off; but the ice broke there also, and matters began to look serious, as all communication with the shore was cut off, and the five hundred were running wildly from side to side, not knowing what to do—the ice, in the mean time, drifting slowly down the river with a precious freight of human lives upon it.
"At this time the anxiety of the people on the docks was intense, as it was feared that many lives would be lost. While this fear was at its height, however, as if by magic, three tow-boats and numberless small boats made their appearance for the purpose of taking off the now terrified ice bridge travellers. They were all unsuccessful, until one of the tugs, named the Ratler, dashed down the river with the tide, and pushed into the floe so as to bury her bow in the thick drift. A ladder was then put out, and soon the adventurers were seen clambering up to her decks. All this was witnessed with breathless interest by the excited crowd, and as the men and boys were taken off, one by one, loud cheers were given and much enthusiasm betrayed.
"At last the whole five hundred were taken off by the different boats, and the river in an hour's time was entirely clear of ioe. The South Fulton and Grand street Ferries were all running without much difficulty last night."
NORTH POLE—NO SUCH THING AS APPARENT TIME—THE SUN FOREVER IN THE MERIDIAN.
Professor Sontag, Astronomer to the " Grinnell Expedition," in his narrative says, "As the land adjacent to the Pole is all terra incognita, it is impossible to say what additions to the stores of natural science a visitor to those regions might be able to make. Certain it is, however, that a new and wide field would be opened for his investigation. Every thing there would be novel; and that circumstance alone would be well calculated to stimulate his attentive faculties. The difficulties which would present themselves to the investigator may be appreciated at home; but they would bo greater or less according to circumstances of which we know nothing. We know not, for example, whether the Pole is covered with open water, or icy sea, or dry land; nor do we know which of these three conditions would be most favorable for investigation. It may be presumed, however, that an open sea would be, in several respects, the most disadvantageous. In the first place, it would in all probability be so deep that the ship would be unable to anchor; and the current might be too strong to permit ber to keep stationary long enough to make accurate observations. In the second place: if she could not maintain her position steadily at one point, the commander would experience a new embarrassment, viz., as every meridian must extend southwardly, he would be apt to lose that on which he had approached the Pole—and consequently he would be at a loss how to shape his course homeward.
The occurrence of this strange difficulty will naturally present itself as one among many novel phenomena which will arrest the adventurer's attention, and the following observations would probably occur to him on the spot. The time of day (to use that phraseology for want of any other that would be more appropriate) would no longer be marked by any apparent change in the altitude of the sun above the horizon; because to a spectator at the Pole no such change would appear, except to the small amount of the daily change of declination. Thus, not only to the eye, but also for the practical purpose of obtaining the time by astronomical observations, the sun would appear throughout the twenty-four hours neither to rise nor fall, but to describe a circle round the heavens parallel with the horizon. Therefore, the usual mode of ascertaining the time would utterly fail; and indeed, however startling may be the assertion, it is nevertheless true, that time, or the natural distinction of time, would be no more. This will appear from the consideration that the idea of apparent time refers only to the particular meridian on which an observer happens to be placed; and is marked or determined only by the distance of the sun, or some other heavenly body, from that meridian.