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CXCV. — ODE ON CECILIA'S DAY.
This universal frame began !--
Of jarring atoms lay,
“ Arise, ye more than dead !”.
And Music's power obey.
This universal frame began;
From harmony to harmony,
The diapa'sonEl closing full in man.
His listening brethren stood around,
To worship that celestial sound.
That spoke so sweetly and so well.
Excites us to arms,
And mortal alarms.
Of the thundering drum,
Cries, “ Hark! the foes come; Charge, charge! 't is too late to retreat." 5. The soft complaining flute
In dying notes discovers
The woes of hapless lovers,
Fury, frantic indignation,
7. But, O! what art can teach,
What human voice can reach,
The sacred organ's praise !
Notes inspiring holy love,
To mend the choirg38 above.
SequaciousEI of the lyre ;
When to her organ vocal breath was given,
CXCVI. — PIZARRO IN PERU.
1.- SUFFERINGS IN THE FORESTS. On the departure of his vessels, Pizarroz marched into the interior, in the hope of finding the pleasant champaign country which had been promised him by the natives. But at every step the forests seemed to grow denser and darker, and the trees towered to a height such as he had never seen, even in these fruitful regions, where nature works on so gigantic a scale. Hill continued to rise above hill, as he advanced, rolling onward, as it were, by successive waves, to join that colossal barrier of the Andes, whose frosty sides, far away above the clouds, spread out like a curtain of burnished silver, that seemed to connect the heavens with the earth.
On crossing these woody eminences, the forlorn adventurers would plunge into ravines' of frightful depth, where the exhalations of a humid soil steamed up amidst the incense of sweetscented flowers, which shone through the deep glooms in every conceivable variety of color. Birds, especially of the parrot tribe, mocked this fantastic variety of nature with tints as brilliant as those of the vegetable world. Monkeys chattered in crowds above their heads, and made grima'ces like the fiendish spirits of these solitudes; while hideous reptiles, engendered in the slimy depths of the pools, gathered round the footsteps of the wanderers.
Here was seen the gigantic boä, coiling his unwieldy folds about the trees, so as hardly to be distinguished from their trunks, till he was ready to dart upon his prey; and alligators lay basking on the borders of the streams, or, gliding under the waters, seized their incautious victim before he was aware of their approach. Many of the Spaniards perished miserably in this way and others were waylaid by the natives, who kept a jealous eye on their movements, and availed themselves of every opportunity to take them at advantage. Fourteen of Pizarro's men were cut off at once in a canoe which had stranded on the bank of a stream.
Famine came in addition to other troubles, and it was with difficulty that they found the means of sustaining life on the scanty fare of the forest, — occasionally the potato, as it grew without cultivation, or the wild cocoa-nut, or, on the shore, the salt and bitter fruit of the mangrove; though the shore was less tolerable than the forest, from the swarms of mosquitos, which compelled the wretched adventurers to bury their bodies up to their very faces in the sand. In this extremity of suffering they thought only of return; and all schemes of avarice and ambition — except with Pizarro and a few dauntless spirits -were exchanged for the one craving desire to return to Pan. ama'. EI
2.- ON THE ISLAND OF Gallo. A ray of hope was enough for the courageous spirit of Pizarro. It does not appear that he himself had entertained, at any time, thoughts of returning. He prepared to stand the fortune of the cast on which he had so desperately ventured. He knew, however, that solicitations or remonstrances would avail little with the companions of his enterprise; and he probably did not care to win over the more timid spirits, who, by perpetually looking back, would only be a clog on his future movements. He announced his own purpose, however, in a laconicer but decided manner, characteristic of a man more accustomed to act than to talk, and well calculated to make an impression on his rough followers.
Drawing his sword, he traced a line with it on the sand from east to west. Then, turning towards the south, “ Friends and comrades !” he said, “ on that side are toil, hunger, nakedness, the drenching storm, desertion, and death; on this side, ease and pleasure. There lies Peru with its riches : here, Panama' and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian. For my part, I go to the south.” So saying, he stepped across the line. He was followed by the brave pilot Ruiz; next .by Pedro de Candia, a cavalier, born, as his name implies, in one of the isles of Greece. Eleven others successively crossed the line, thus intimating their willingness to abide the fortunes of their leader, for good or for evil.
There is something striking to the imagination in the spectacle of these few brave spirits, thus consecrating themselves to a daring enterprise, which seemed as far above their strength as any recorded in the fabulous annals of knight-errantry. A bandful of men, without food, without clothing, almost without arms, without knowledge of the land to which they were bound, without vessel to transport them, were here left on a lonely rock in the ocean, with the avowed purpose of carrying on a crusade against a powerful empire, staking their lives on its success. What is there in the legends of chivalry47 that surpasses it ? This was the crisis of Pizarro's fate.
There are moments in the lives of men, which, as they are seized or neglected, decide their future destiny. Had Pizarro faltered from his strong purpose, and yielded to the occasion now so temptingly presented, for extricating himself and his broken band from their desperate position, his name would have been buried with his fortunes, and the conquest of Peru would have been left for other and more successful adventurers. But his constancy was equal to the occasion, and his conduct here proved him competent to the perilous post he had assumed, and inspired others with a confidence in him which was the best assurance of success.
CXCVII. — HUMAN SCIENCE SOMETIMES AT FAULT. 1. With all due respect for the calculations of men of science, I cannot but remember that when most confident they have sometimes erred. They have too often asserted as a demonstration what was, after all, a mere fallible opinion, which time has contradicted. They sneered at Columbus, when he set forth on his expedition in search of a land beyond the unexplored ocean; at Harvey, E1 when he announced the circulation of the blood ; at Jenner, E1 when he propounded his theory of vaccination. They told us that steamboats could not cross the Atlantic. They shook the head at Buena Vista.El Ah! that was a battle against all rule, in violation of all the principles of military calculation. An old American general, seated on his white horse, looked forth over the field through his telescope, and said, “ We will fight here.” And the result was a victory won by five thousand against twenty thousand. A most unscientific and informal victory!
2. Some years ago, a book came out in France, on the subject of a carriage, which had been contrived in England, I believe for a wager at Newmarket, to go a certain distance in a given time. The author of the book undertook to prove, very learnedly, that the project could not possibly succeed. He formed a most elaborate calculation, according to the most precise rules, which gave the greatest satisfaction to all the scientific world of Paris. A was to represent the carriage; B the horses; C the driver; D the resistance of the air; E the friction of the earth, and F the utter impossibility of success. And A plus B, plus C, plus D, plus E, was equal to F, and therefore the project must fail. While the book was being published, however, the wager was won; but the lovers of science contented themselves with affirining that, though the project did succeed, it ought not to have succeeded.
3. An instance of a graver character may be quoted. Not long since a light-house was erected on a ledge of rocks, known as Minot's Ledge, in Boston harbor. It rested on iron pillars, which rose from strong iron piles, fixed firmly in the rocks. Science, or rather professed science, was fully satisfied that the structure was secure. There was a terrible storm in the winter ; but the light-house outlived it. The keeper declared, however, that it could not stand many such gales; that the piles had started ; that in a severe easterly storm the light-house would rock like a ship afloat; and that there was great danger of its overthrow. The engineer knew better than this, and came before the public with a statement proving very conclusively that the keeper's fears were groundless, and that the light-house was so constructed as to be tempest-proof. The very next spring, an easterly storm of unusual severity set in, and the strong winds blew violently, and the tide rose, and the ocean-waves rushed in and beat upon that house, and it fell. The iron stems that sustained it were snapped like reeds; and two valuable lives were lost by the catas'trophë.
4. I mention these instances, not to undervalue science, -it would be folly to attempt that; for science, when true to its name, is true knowledge, — but to show that its name is sometimes wrongfully assumed, and that its professors, when not guided by humility, may prove but misleading counsellors. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. After all that human wisdom can foresee, after all that human calculations can provide, something must be left to chance, something to the possibility of error, something to those contingencies which human vision may not take in. The highest science is ever the most reverent. It is in the lower ranks that we must look for those examples of dogmatism, pertinacity, and presumption, which claim to utter decisions, without appeal, which the next hour may prove to be wrong.