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Preserve me from the thing I dread and hate —
3 Dubius is such a scrupulous, good man
Yes — you may catch him tripping, if you can.
4. A story in which native humori reigns
Is often useful, always entertains ;
CXVII. — TIE YOUTII OF WASHINGTON.
1. Just as Washington was passing from boyhood to youth, the enterprise and capital of Virginia were seeking a new field for exercise and investment, in the unoccupied public domain beyond the mountains. The business of a surveyor immediately became one of great importance and trust, for no surveys were executed by the government. To this occupation the youthful Washington, not yet sixteen years of age, and well furnished with the requisite mathematical knowledge, zealously devoted himself. Some of his family connections possessed titles to large portions of public land, which he was employed with them in surveying.
2. Thus, at a period of life when, in a more advanced stage of society, the intelligent youth is occupied in the elementary studies of the schools and colleges, Washington was carrying the surveyor's chain through the fertile valleys of the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany Mountains; passing days and weeks in the wilderness, beneath the shadow of eternal forests; listening to the voice of the waterfalls, which man's art had not yet set to the healthful music of the saw-mill or the trip-hammer; reposing from the labors of the day on a bear-skin, with his feet to the blazing logs of a camp-fire; and sometimes startled from the deep slumbers of careless, hard-working youth, by the alarm of the Indian war-whoop.
3. This was the gymnastiel school in which Washington was brought up; in which his quick glance was formed, destined to rūnge hereafter across the battle-field, through clouds of smoke and bristling rows of bayonets ;El the school in which his senses, weaned from the taste for those detestable indulgences, miscalled pleasures, in which the flower of adolescence El so often languishes and pines away, were early braced up to the sinewy manhood which becomes the
“Lord of the lion heart and eagle eye.” 4. There is preserved among the papers of Washington a letter, written to a friend while he was engaged on his first surveying tour, and when he was, consequently, but sixteen years of age. I quote a sentence from it, in spite of the homeliness of the details', for which I like it the better, and because I wish to set before you, not an ideal hero, wrapped in cloudy generalities and a mist of vague panëqyr'ic, but the real, identical man, with all the peculiarities of his life and occupation.
5. “Your lotter,” says he, “ gave me the more pleasure, as I received it among barbarians and an uncouth set of people. Since you received my letter of October last, I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed; but, after walking a good deal all the day, I have lain down before the fire, upon a little hay, straw, fodder, or a bear-skin, — whichever was to be had, with man, wife, and children, like dogs and cats; and happy is he who gěts the berth nearest the fire. Nothing would make it pass off tolerably but a good reward. A doubloon El is my cor.
stant gain, every day that the weather will permit my going out, and sometimes six pistoles.”ET
6. If there is an individual in the morning of life who has not yět made his choice between the flowery path of indul. gence and the rough ascent of honest industry, — if there is one who is ashamed to get his living by any branch of honest labor, — let him reflect that the youth who was carrying the theod'olites and surveyor's chain through the mountain passes of the Alleghanies, in the month of March, sleeping on a bundle of hay before the fire, in a settler's log-cabin, and not ashamed to boast that he did it for his doubloon a day, is George Washington; that the life he led trained him up to command the armies of United America ; that the money he earned was the basis of that fortune which enabled him afterwards to bestow his services, without reward, on a bleeding and impoverished country.
7. For three years was the young Washington employed, the greater part of the time, and whenever the season would permit, in this laborious and healthful occupation; and I know not if it would be deemed unbecoming, were a thoughtful stūdent of our history to say that he could almost hear the voice of Providence, in the language of Milton, announce its high purpose,
“ To exercise him in the wilderness ;
There shall he first lay down the rudiments
CXVIII. — VESUVIUS. 1. My first sight of Vesuvius El was from the upper end of the street To-le'do, in Naples. From that point the prospect is uninterrupted. Your eye passes directly to the mountain, over the tops of the streets, houses, churches, palaces, of the intervening villages, to the summit of the crater. The clear, transparent air, and the inky blackness of the whole hill, — its only tint, - bring it so near to you that you almost start as it is first revealed. It seems to hang over and threaten the city. It is eight miles distant, yet you would think it scarce three.
2. Every roughness, the deep ravines' and fissures with which the face of the mountain is everywhere seamed, the rude piles of extinct lavas, the ragged angular masses of fallen and shattered rocks, are all visible at that distance; and the effect is as of some vast natural ruin — a wide scene of fearful desolation. The soft, green turf, the richly-variegated shrubbery, the almost tropical vegetation, the gentle elevations and depressions of the
soil, which must once have clothed the hill with an unequalled loveliness — and such is the testimony of antiquity to its appearance before the eruption of 79 of all this, now, not a leaf, not a tint remains. Neither man, nor beast, nor insect, can inhabit there — and the solitary bird could not light in hope of a single berry or worm.
3. But it must be — not described - but by your own im. aginations represented, in one other aspect, as it appeared, after a long repose of centuries, when, in the year 79 of our era, in the reign of Titus, it suddenly was converted to a mountain of fire; burying the surrounding territories, in first the thickest darkness for several days, then from beneath the canopy of cloud pouring out from its sides rivers of lava and other melted substances, which with more than the light of the sun illuminated the earth and the overhanging clouds, and, making their way down the mountain, overwhelmed the city of Hercula'něum, burying it to a depth of from sixty to a hundred feet below the molten mass; and at the same time destroying Pompēïi and Stābiæ by successive showers of stilling ashes.
4. The younger Pliny, living at that time, describes the terrific scene in a letter to the historian Tăc'ítus. 46 His uncle, Pliny the naturalist, stationed at Mi-se'-num, twenty miles from the mountain, as commander of the Roman fleet at that place, drawn first by a scientific curiosity to witness nearer the dreadful scene, then by a sentiment of compassion for the multitudes whom he saw perishing in the most miserable manner, and venturing too near the scene of danger, was himself overtaken by blasts of the suffocating smokes and găsses that raged everywhere around the hill, and perished among those whom he went to save.
5. Pliny addresses two letters to Tac'ítus; in the first confining himself chicfly to the circumstances attending the death of his uncle, in the second relating his own experiences and observations during the cruption of the mountain. From this I make an extract: “ There had been,” he says, “many days before, shocks of an earthquake, which the less surprised us as they are extremely frequent in Campania; but they were so particularly violent this night, that they not only shook everything about us, but seemed indeed to threaten universal destruction. My mother flew to my chamber, where she found me rising, in order to awaken me. We went out into a small court belonging to the house, which separated the sea from the build. ings.
6. ^ Though it was now morning, the light was extremely faint and languid; the buildings all around tottered, and though
wo stood upon open ground, yet, as the place was narrow and confined, there was no remaining there without certain and great danger; we therefore resolved to quit the town. The people followed us in the utmost consternation, and pressed in great crowds about in our way. Being got to a convenient distance from the houses, we stood still in the midst of a most dangerous and dreadful scene. The chariots, which we had ordered to be drawn out, were so agitated backwards and forwards, though upon the most level ground, that we could not keep them steady even by supporting them by large stones.
7. “ The sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be driren from its banks by the convulsive motions of the earth. 1: is certain, at least, that the shore was considerably enlarged, and several sea animals were left upon it. On the other side, a black and dreadful cloud, bursting with an igneous serpentine vapor, darted out a long train of fire, resembling flashes of lightning. Soon afterward the cloud seemed to descend and cover the whole ocean, as indeed it entirely hid the island of Căpriæ and the prom'ontory of Misēnum. The ashes now began to fall upon us, though in no great quantity. I turned my head, and observed behind us a thick smoke, which came rolling after us like a torrent.
8. “I proposed, while we had yet any light, to turn out of the high road, lest we should be pressed to death in the dark by the crowd that followed. We had scarce stepped out of the path, when darkness overspread us, not like that of a cloudy night, or when there is no moon, but of a room when it is shut up, and all lights are extinct. Nothing then was to be heard but the shrieks of women, the screams of children, and the cries of men - some calling for their children, others for their parents, others for their husbands, and distinguishing each other by their voices; one lamenting his own fate, another that of his family, some wishing to die, some lifting their hands to the gods; * but the greater part imagining that the last and eternal night was come, which was to destroy both the world and the gods together.
9. “At length a glimmering light appeared, which we imagined to be rather the forerunner of an approaching burst of flames (as in truth it was), than the return of day : however, the fire fell at a distance from us. Then again we were immersed in thick darkness, and a heavy shower of ashes rained upon us, which we were obliged every now and then to shake off, otherwise we should have been crushed and buried in the
* In their ignorance of the one true God, most of the Romans of Pliny's day were Polytheists, or believers in many gods.