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remotest limits of its range. No terrestrial element dims the transparency of the pure ether, no veil hides the face of the god of day; and the tremulous ray of the minutest and most distant star finds an easy path across the unfathomable void. The blue vault which inwraps us alone indicates the diffusion of attenuated matter; but its cool and spotless azure, like the breast of the dove, imbosoms only innocence and peace. Even the sounds of the material and the busy world are thrown back in subdued murmurs from the sky; and in this general repose of nature, and throughout " the abyss where sparkle distant worlds," the sharpest scrutiny can descry no element of change or of mischief. While the verdant earth, indeed, remains firm beneath his feet, man anticipates no descending danger, and the upturned eye. looks but for blessings from above.

This pure and peaceful character of the firmament we contemplate is but the normal condition which marks the rest and equilibrium of the elements. Unseen and unfelt, there encompasses our globe a girdle of air, as translucent as empty space, and so thin and impalpable, that we neither feel its pressure nor experience its resistance. Even when we inhale it, and live by its inhalation, we are not sensible that we have drawn into our system any thing that is material. Yet is this invisible and almost intangible element instinct with mysterious properties, and charged with superhuman powers. The green and fermenting earth projects into it its noxious exhalations; the decaying structures of organic life let loose their poisonous ingredients; and even living beings, while appropriating its finer elements, ungratefully return the adulterated residue into the ethereal granary. Thus does the pabulum of life become a polluted and deleterious compound. The noble organizations of living nature languish under its perilous inspiration; while disease and pestilence either decimate the people, or pursue their epidemic round, demanding at every stage their hecatomb of victims.

When the earth, revolving round its axis, has received

from the sun its daily measure of light and of heat, different zones on its surface and different portions of its mass - the aqueous expanse, the sandy desert, the rankly-luxuriant jungle, the rocky mountain crest — all give out their hoarded caloric in unequal and commingling streams. The homogeneity and equilibrium of the elastic medium is thus speedily destroyed; the cold and dense air rushes into the more heated and rarefied regions; and the whole atmosphere around us becomes agitated with coinciding or conflicting currents. Here the zephyr breathes its softest murmurs, awakening the Eolian lyre to its most plaintive strains, and scarcely turning the twittering aspen leaf on its stalk; there the gale sweeps along, howling amidst the darkened forests, bending the majestic pines in its path, and hurrying the freighted bark to its port; and yonder the tornado cuts its way through the mightiest forests, making sport of the dwellings and strongholds of man, and dashing to the bottom of the deep the proudest of his floating bulwarks.

But while the heated air thus sweeps, in gale or in tempest, over the waters of the ocean, or rests in peace on its glassy breast, it carries upwards, by its ascending currents, the aqueous vapors it has exhaled. The denser element reflects in all directions the light that falls upon it, and, diffused in mists, or accumulated in clouds, the atmosphere teems with opaque masses, which conceal the azure vault, and obstruct even the fiercest rays of a meridian sun. Here they float in majestic dignity, the aërial leviathans of the sky, veiling and unveiling the luminary which gave them birth. There they marshal their rounded fleeces, or arrange their woolly ringlets, or extend their tapering locks, now shining like the new-fallen snow, now flushed with the red of the setting sun, but ever in pleasing harmony with the blue expanse which they adorn, and the purple landscape. which they crown.

Over this lovely portrait of aërial nature the curtain of night falls, and rises but to exhibit scenes of varied terror

and desolation. While the solar heat is converting into vapor the water and moisture of the earth, electricity is freely disengaged during the process. The clouds which this vapor forms exhibit different electrical conditions, though the electricity of the atmosphere, when serene, is invariably the same. Hence the descent of clouds towards the earth, their mutual approach, the force of atmospheric currents, and the ever-varying agencies of heat and cold, convert the aërial envelope of our globe into a complex electrical apparatus, spontaneously exhibiting, in a variety of forms, the play and the conflict of its antagonist powers. As St. Elmo's fire, the slightly liberated electricity tips the yardarms and mast-tops of ships with its brilliant star, its ball of fire, or its lambent flame. At the close of a sultry day, and above level plains, the opposite electricities of the earth and the air effect their reunion in noiseless flashes of lightning,

illuminating, as it were, in far-spread sheets, the whole circuit of the horizon and the entire canopy of its clouds. At other times, the same elements light up the Arctic constellations with their restless wildfires - now diffusing their phosphoric flame, and flitting around in fitful gleams, as if keeping time to the music of the spheres and now shooting up their auroral columns, advancing, retreating, and contending, as if in mimicry of mortal strife.

But these various displays of the power of electricity, however much they may startle ignorance and alarm superstition, are always unattended with danger, and form a striking contrast with the full development of its unbridled and unbalanced fury. When, after a long drought, the moisture of an overloaded atmosphere is accumulated in massive clouds, animated by opposite electricities, and driven by antagonist currents, the reunited elements compress, as it were, in their fiery embrace, their tenements of sponge; and cataracts of rain, and showers of hail, and volleys of stony meteors, are thrown down upon the earth, desolating its valleys with floods, and crushing its vegetation by their

fall. Even in our temperate zone, but especially under the raging heats of a tropical sun, this ferment and explosion of the elements is more terrific still. As if launched from an omnipotent arm, the red lightning-bolt cuts its way to the earth, now transfixing man and beast in its course; now rending the smitten oak with its wedges of livid fire; now shivering or consuming the storm-tossed vessel; now shattering cloud-capped towers and gorgeous dwellings — nor even sparing the holy sanctuary, the hallowed dome, or the consecrated spire. And no sooner has the bolt crushed its victim, and the forked messenger secured his prey, than the peals of its rattling artillery rebound from cloud to cloud, and from hill to hill, as if the God of nature were pronouncing the perdition of ungodly men, and as if the heavens, “waxed old as a garment," were about to be wrapped up in the fervent heat of the elements. During this rehearsal of the day which is to come "as a thief in the night," heaven seems to be in fierce conflict with earth-man the sufferer, and God the avenger. The warrior turns pale; the priest stands appalled at his altar; the prince trembles on his throne. Even dumb life, sharing the perils of its tyrant, is stricken with fear. The war-horse shakes under his rider; the eagle cowers in his cleft of rock; the sea-bird screams in its flight; and universal life travails with one common dread of the Giant Arm which thus wields the omnipotence of the elements.

LESSON XCVI.

Duties of American Citizens. P. W. CHANDLER.

THE motives to moral action press upon the American citizen with unusual force at the present time. Upon us the hopes of man are resting in every part of the world.

Wherever humanity toils for a scanty subsistence; wherever the iron heel of oppression falls upon the people; wherever the last hope of liberty is dead

"From the burning plains
Where Lybian monsters yell,
From the most gloomy glens
Of Greenland's sunless climes,
To where the golden fields
Of fertile England spread
Their harvest to the sky".

"the voices of the past and the future seem to blend in one sound of warning and entreaty, addressing itself not only to the general but to the individual ear, calling upon us, each and all, to be faithful to the trust which God has committed to our hands."

Let the American citizen feel the responsibilities of his position, with a determination that the hopes of the world shall not be disappointed. Nor let him mistake the nature of his duties. Many men acknowledge our evils and our dangers, but seek in vain for the remedy. They are ready for any sacrifice, but earnestly inquire when and where it is to be made. We eagerly seize upon any excuse for the nonperformance of duty. "Give me where to stand," cried the ancient philosopher, " and I will move the world." "Find where to stand!" shouts the modern reformer. "Stand where you are," is the voice of reason and religion. It is not upon some great and distant enterprise that our duty will call us. It is not in the tented field that our services will be needed. The battle-ground is in our own hearts; the enemy in our own bosoms. And when the passions of men are subdued; when selfishness is purged from humanity; when anger is entirely restrained; when jealousy, hatred, and revenge, are unknown, then, and then only, is the victory won.

Let no man merge his identity in the masses, nor forget his individual responsibility to his country and his God. Is his position lowly and obscure? Let him remember that every

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