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7. But why prolong the tale,
Casting weak words amid a host of thoughts
8. Shout, ye waves !169
- Send forth a sound of triumph. Waves and winds,
9. And would that some immortal voice — a voice183
XCII. — THE PRAIRIES OF THE WEST.
1. The attraction of the prairie" consists in its extent, its carpet of verdure and flowers, its undulating surface, its groves, and the fringe of timber by which it is surrounded. Of all these, the latter is the most expressive feature; it is that which gives character to the landscape, which imparts the shape and marks the boundary of the plain. If the prairie be small, its greatest beauty consists in the vicinity of the surrounding margin of woodland, which resembles the shore of a lake, indented with deep vistas like bays and inlets, and throwing out long points like capes" and headlands; while occasionally these points approach so close on either hand, that the traveller passes through a narrow avenue or strait, where the shadows of the woodland fall upon his path, and then again emerges into another prairie.
2. Where the plain is large, the forest outline is seen in the far perspective, like the dim shore when beheld at a distance from the ocean. The eye sometimes roams over the green meadow without discovering a tree, a shrub, or any object in the immense expanse, but the wilderness of grass and flowers; while at another time the prospect is enlivened by the groves, which are seen interspersed like islands, or the solitary tree, which stands alone in the blooming desert.
3. If it be in the spring of the year, and the young grass has just covered the ground with a carpet of delicate green, and especially if the sun is rising from behind a distant swell of the plain, and glittering upon the dew-drops, no scene can bo moro lovely to the eye. The deer is seen grazing quietly upon the plain; the bee is on the wing; the wolf, with his tail drooped, is sneaking away to his covert with the felon tread of one who is conscious that he has disturbed the peace of nature; and the grouse, feeding in flocks or in pairs, like the domestic fowl, cover the whole surface.
4. When the eye roves off from the green plain to the groves, or points of timber, these also are found to be at this season robed in the most attractive hues. The rich undergrowth is in full bloom. The red-bud, the dog-wood, the crab-apple, the wildplum, the cherry, the wild-rose, are abundant in all the rich lands; and the grape-vine, though its blossom is unseen, fills the air with fragrance. The variety of the wild fruit and flowering shrubs is so great, and such the profusion of the blossoms with which they are bowed down, that the eye is regaled almost to safety. f «
5. The gayety of the prairie, its embellishments, and the absence of the gloom and savage wildness of the forest, all contribute to dispel the feeling of lonesomeness which usually creeps over the mind of the solitary traveller in the wilderness. Though he may not see a house, nor a human being, and is conscious that he is far from the habitations" of men, he can scarcely divest himself of the idea that he is travelling through scenes embellished by the hand of art. The flowers, so fragile, so delicate, and so ornamental, seem to have been tastefully disposed to adorn the scene; the groves and clumps of trees appear to have been scattered over the lawn to beautify the landscape; and it is not easy to avoid that illusion of the fancy which persuades the beholder that such scenery has been created to gratify the refined taste of civilized man.
6. Europeans are often reminded of the resemblance of this scenery to that of the extensive parks of noblemen which they have been accustomed to admire in the Old World; the lawn, the avenue, the grove, the copse, which are there produced by art, are here produced by nature; a splendid jponuagn -of massy orcnitecture, and the distant view of villages, are alone wanting to render the simil'itude complete. James Iiall.
7. These are the gardens of the desert, these
For which the speech of England has no name, —
The PrJffies.1i I behold them for the first,
And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch
In airy undulations, far away,
As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell.
Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed,
And motionless forever. Motionless ? —
No — they are all unchained again. The clouds
Sweep over with their shadows, and, beneath,
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;
Dark hollows seem to glide along, and chase
The sunny ridges. * * *
8. Man hath no part in all this glorious work:The Hand that built the firmament hath heaved
And smoothed these verdant swells, and sown their slopes
XCIII. THE VALLEY OF MEXICO.
From The Side Of The Sierra" Neva'da.
1. Conceive yourself placed on a mountain nearly two thousand feet above the valley, and nine thousand above the level of the sea; a sky above you of the most perfect azure, without a cloud; and an atmosphere so transparently pure that the remotest objects, at the distance of many leagues, are as distinctly visible as if at hand. The gigantic scale of everything first strikes you, —you seem to be looking down upon a world.
2. No other mountain and valley view has such an assemblage of features, because nowhere else are the mountains at the same time so high, the valley so wide, or filled with such variety of land and water. The plain beneath is exceedingly level, and for two hundred miles around it extends a barrier of stupendous mountains, most of which have been active volcanoes, and are now covered, some with snow, and some with forests.
3. It is laced with large bodies of water, appearing more like seas than lakes; it is dotted with innumerable villages, and estates, and plantations; eminences rise from it, which, elsewhere, would be called mountains, yet there, at your feet, they seem but ant-hills on the plain; and now, letting your eye follow the rise of the mountains to the west (near fifty miles distant), you look over the immediate summits that wall the valley to another and more distant range, and to range beyond range, with valleys between each, until the whole melts into a vapory distance, blue as the cloudless sky above you.
4. I could have gazed for hours at this little world, while the Bun and passing vapor checkered the fields, and, sailing off again, left the whole one bright mass of verdure and water, bringing out clearly the domes of the village churches studding the plain or leaning against the first slopes of the mountains, with the huge lakes looming larger in the rar'ened atmosphere."
5. Yet one thing was wanting. Over the immense expanse there seemed scarce an evidence of life. There were no figures in the picture. It lay torpid in the sunlight, like some deserted region, where Nature again was beginning to assert her empire,— vast, solitary, and melancholy. There were no sails, no steamers on the lakes, no smoke over the villages, no people at labor in the fields, no horsemen, coaches, or travellers, but ourselves.
6. The silence was almost supernatural. It was a picture of "still life," inanimate in every feature, save where, on the distant mountain sides, the fire of some poor coal-burner mingled its blue wreath with the bluer sky, or the tinkle of the bell of a solitary muleteer was heard from among the dark and solemn pines. Rrantz Mayer.
XCIV.—THK WORLD OF WATER.
1. Water expands when warmed; in pots it boils over; and although the ocean certainly is nowhere hot enough to boil a leg of mutton, the great mass of water rises under the influence of tropic heat above the common level, and runs over towards the poles, leaving its place empty for cold water to rush in and occupy it. Precisely in the same way, air, which is another ocean, — an ocean some fifty miles deep, and at the bottom of which we are living, — swells at the eqwttor, and pours out its deluge north and south over the colder current which runs in to take advantage of the vacancy, and warm itself. When warm it will also get up. That is one fact; another modifies it.
2. The earth rolls on its axis. If you stick a knitting-needle through the centre of an orange, and rotate the orange on the needle, then you see a model of the earth rotating on its axis. The needle comes out of the north pole above, and out of the south pole below; and, if you scratch a line all round the orange, half-way between pole and pole, that is the imagined line called the Equator. Now, take two little pins; stick one of them on the equator, and another in the neighborhood of either pole; set the orange now revolving like the globe itself, from west to east, and make precisely one revolution. In the same space of time one pin has travelled through a great space, you perceive; all around the orange, as it were; while the pin near the pole has had a very tiny journey to perform, and on the pole itself would absolutely not revolve at all.
3. So, then, upon this world of ours, everything on or near the equator spins round in the twenty-four hours far more rapidly than anything placed near the poles. But everything partakes in the movement, as you share in your body the movement of a railway-train; let the train stop suddenly, your body travels on and throws you violently forward. So air and water, flowing fromthe equator in great currents, because they cannot at once accommodate themselves to the slower movement of the earth as they approach the poles, retain their own motive propensity, and shoot on eastward still, as well as north and south. The slow trains coming up from the poles are outstripped by the rapid movement of the earth below, and, being unable to accommodate themselves to it readily, they lag behind and fall into a westward course. __
4. By this movement of the earth, therefore, a transverse" direction is communicated to the great equatorial and polar currents, whether of air or of water. Furthermore, local peculiarities, arrangements of islands and continents, plain and mountain, land and water, cause local variations of temperature, and every such variation modifies or makes a current. In the air we all know howmany shiftings of the wind will be peculiar to a mountain hamlet." where a lake, a valley, and a mountain, cause a constant oscillation ^ and a sudden burst of sunshine is enough to raise the wind
5. Mechanical obstructions, such as mountain peaks, in the bed of the great ocean of air, modify its streams, of course; and the great currents in the world of water are, of course, split, deflected," and directed on their way, by all the continents and islands about and around which they flow. Great currents pour like mighty rivers