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without discovering a tree, a shruh, 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 bas 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 be more 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 satiety.
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 habitationskl 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 frágile, 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 specimen of massy
architecture, and the distant view of villages, are alone wanting to render the simil'itude complete.
7. These are the gardens of the desert, these
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
8. Man hath no part in all this glorious work:
The Hand that built the firmament hath heaved
XCIII. —THE VALLEY OF MEXICO.
FROM THE SIDE OF THE SIERRAFI Neva’da. i. WXCEIVE 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 sun 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 stúdding the plainor leaning against the first slopes of the mountains, with the huge lakes looming larger in the răr'efied atmosphere. 1;
5. Yet one thing was wanting. Over the immense expanse there seemed scarce all 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 mulëteer was heard from among the dark and solemn pines.
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 coinmon level, and runs over towards the poles, leaving its place empty for cold wate: 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 bottoin of which we are living, — swells at the equator, and pours out its deluge north and south over the coldcr 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 from the 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 transversek direction is communicated to the great ēquatorial 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 how many shiftings of the wind will be peculiar to a mountain hamlet, E1 where a lake, a valley, and a mountain, cause a constant oscillation, El 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, delle sted, ki and directed on their way, by all the continents and islands about and around which they flow. Great currents pour like mighty rivers through the plain of ocean, and fixed by the laws of nature though their banks be banks of water, they are almost as sharply defined as if they were of granite masonry. These are constant; there are others periodical, occasioned by periodical winds, tides, &c.; and there are also variable currents caused by melting ice, and other accidents, irregular in their occurrence.
6. You observe that the great world of water serves not only as a home for countless forms of life, but that to us land creatures it serves also as an appara'tus for the regulation of our climates. Cold currents come to limit the sun's monarchy, and warm streams flow to melt the icebergs where they travel out of bounds. That is not all, nor nearly all. One characteristic of the works of nature is continually to be recognized. Man makes a beautiful machine, worthy of admiration, in which many wheels and teeth combine, perhaps to make a piece of lace; it will make only lace, and nothing else. The works of nature are incom'parably more simple, and yet there is nothing so minute as to be created for one purpose only. In its way, a blade of grass, or lump of dirt, no less than the great sea, heaps use on use, and proof on proof of a Sublime Intelligence.
XCV. - THE WIND AND RAIN. 1. VAPoR rises from water, and from every moist body, under the influence of heat. The greater the heat, the more the vapor; but even in winter, from the surface of an ice-field, vapor rises. The greater the heat, the greater the expansion of the vapor. It is the nature of material things to expand under heat, and to contract under cold; so water does, except in the act of freezing, when, for a beneficent purpose, it is constituted an exception to the rule. Vapor rises freely from lakes, rivers, and moist land; but most abundantly, of course, it rises from the sea, and nowhere more abundantly than where the sun is hottest. So it rises in the zoneki of variable winds and calms, abundant, very much expanded, therefore imperceptible.
2. There comes a breath of colder air on the ascending current; its temperature falls. It had contained as much vapor as it would hold in its warm state; when cooled it will not hold so much; the excess, therefore, must part company, and be condensed again : clouds rapidly form, and as the condensation goes on in this region with immense rapidity, down comes the discarded vapor in the original state of water, out of which it had been raised. Sudden precipitation, and the violent rubbing against