« PoprzedniaDalej »
From clime to clime, from pole to pole,
Round which the clouds unfurl their sails,
That trembles round the form it vails,
Yet set the soaring fancy free:
Of faith, of peace, of love, and Thee.
Where soaring fancy oft hath been,
The pure in heart shall enter in;
How many a loved and gentle one
That sparkles from thy radiant throne!
MRS. A. B. WELBY.
PLANETARY AND TERRESTRIAL WORLDS.
To us, who dwell on its surface, the earth is by far the most extensive orb that our eyes can anywhere behold. It is also clothed with verdure, distinguished by trees, and adorned with a variety of beautiful decorations; whereas, to a spectator placed on one of the planets, it wears a uniform aspect, looks all luminous, and no larger than a spot. To beings who dwell at still greater distances, it entirely disappears. The planets,
that so wonderfully vary their mystic dance, are in themselves dark bodies, and shine only by reflection; have fields, and seas, and skies of their own, are furnished with all accommodations for animal subsistence, and are supposed to be the abodes of intellectual life; all which, together with our earthly habitation, are dependent on that grand dispenser of divine munificence, the sun; receive their light from the distribution of his rays, and derive their comfort from his benign agency.
The sun, which seems to perform its daily stages through the sky, is in this respect fixed and immovable. It is the great axle of heaven, about which the globe we inhabit, and other more spacious orbs, wheel their stated courses. though seemingly smaller than the dial it illuminates, is abundantly larger than this whole earth, on which so many lofty mountains rise, and such vast oceans roll. A line, extending from side to side through the center of that resplendent orb, would measure more than eight hundred thousand miles; a girdle formed to go round its circumference, would require a length of millions.
This sun, with all its attendant planets, is but a very little part of the grand machine of the universe. Every star, though in appearance no bigger than the diamond that glitters upon a lady's ring, is really a vast globe, like the sun in size and in glory; no less spacious, no less luminous, than the radiant source of the day. Thus every star is not barely a world, but the center of a magnificent system; has a retinue of worlds, irradiated by its beams, and revolving round its attractive influence, all which are lost to our sight in unmeasurable wilds of ether. That the stars appear like so many diminutive and scarce distinguishable points, is owing to their immense and inconceivable distance. Immense and inconceivable indeed it is, since a ball, shot from a loaded cannon, and flying with unabated rapidity, must travel at this impetuous rate almost seven hundred thousand years, before it could reach the nearest of those twinkling luminaries.
While, beholding this vast expanse, I learn my own extreme meanness, I would also discover the abject littleness of all terrestrial things. What is the earth, with all her ostentatious scenes, compared with this astonishingly grand furniture of the skies? What, but a dim speck, hardly perceivable in the map
of the universe ? It is observed by a very judicious writer, that if the sun himself, which enlightens this part of the creation, were extinguished, and all the host of planetary worlds, which move about him, were annihilated, they would not be missed by an eye that can take in the whole compass of nature, any more than a grain of sand upon the sea-shore.
If then, not our globe only, but this whole system, be so very diminutive, what is a kingdom or a country? What are the largest possessions of those who are styled wealthy ? Compared with the universe as a standard, how scanty is their size, how contemptible their figure! They shrink into pompous nothings.
ESCAPE FROM A PANTHER.
ELIZABETH TEMPLE and Louisa Grant had gained the summit of the mountain, where they left the highway, and pursued their course, under the shade of the stately trees that crowned the eminence. The day was becoming warm; and the girls plunged more deeply into the forest, as they found its invigorating coolness agreeably contrasted to the excessive heat they had experienced in their ascent. The conversation, as if by mutual consent, was entirely changed to the little incidents and scenes of their walk; and every tall pine, and every shrub or flower, called forth some simple expression of admiration.
In this manner they proceeded along the margin of the precipice, catching occasional glimpses of the placid Otsego, or pausing to listen to the rattling of wheels and the sounds of hammers, that rose from the valley, to mingle the signs of men with the scenes of nature, when Elizabeth suddenly startled, and exclaimed, “Listen! there are the cries of a child on this mountain! Is there a clearing near us? or can some little one have strayed from its parents ?” “ Such things frequently happen,” returned Louisa. “Let us follow the sounds, it may be a wanderer, starving on the hill." Urged by this consideration, the females pursued the low, mournful sounds, that proceeded from the forest, with quick and impatient steps.
More than once the ardent Elizabeth was on the point of announcing that she saw the sufferer, when Louisa caught her by the arm, and, pointing behind them, cried, “ Look at the dog !"
The advanced age of Brave had long before deprived him of his activity; and when his companions stopped to view the scenery, or to add to their bouquets,* the mastiff would lay his huge frame on the ground, and await their movements, with his eyes closed, and a listlessness in his air that ill accorded with the character of a protector. But when, aroused by this cry from Louisa, Miss Temple turned, she saw the dog with his eyes keenly set on some distant object, his head bent near the ground, and his hair actually rising on his body, either through fright or anger. It was most probably the latter; for he was growling in a low key, and occasionally showing his teeth, in a manner that would have terrified his mistress, had she not so well known his good qualities.
• Brave !" she said, “be quiet, Brave! what do you see, fellow ?" At the sound of her voice, the rage of the mastiff, instead of being at all diminished, was very sensibly increased. He stalked in front of the ladies, and seated himself at the feet of his mistress, growling louder than before, and occasionally giving vent to his ire by a short, surly barking. 66 What does he see?” said Elizabeth ; “there must be some animal in sight.” Hearing no answer from her companion, Miss Temple turned her head and beheld Louisa, standing with her face whitened to the color of death, and her finger pointing upward, with a sort of flickering, convulsed motion. The quick eye of Elizabeth glanced in the direction indicated by her friend, where she saw the fierce front and glaring eyes of a female panther, fixed on them in horrid malignity, and threatening instant destruction.
- Let us fly!" exclaimed Elizabeth, grasping the arm of Louisa, whose form yielded like melting snow, and sunk lifeless to the earth. There was not a single feeling in the temperament of Elizabeth Temple, that could prompt her to desert a companion in such an extremity; and she fell on her knees, by the side of the inanimate Louisa, tearing from the person of her friend, with an instinctive readiness, such parts of her dress as might obstruct her respiration, and encouraging
* Pronounced Boo-kays',
their only safe-guard, the dog, at the same time, by the sound of her voice. “Courage, Brave!” she cried, her own tones beginning to tremble, “ courage, courage, good Brave!"
A quarter-grown cub, that had hitherto been unseen, now appeared, dropping from the branches of a sapling, that grew under the shade of the beech which held its dam. This ignorant but vicious creature approached near to the dog, imitating the actions and sounds of its parent, but exhibiting a strange mixture of the playfulness of a kitten with the ferocity of its race. Standing on its hind legs, it would rend the bark of a tree with its fore paws, and play all the antics of a cat, for a moment; and then, by lashing itself with its tail, growling, and scratching the earth, it would attempt the manifestations of anger that rendered its parent so terrific.
All this time, Brave stood firm and undaunted, his short tail erect, his body drawn backward on its haunches, and his eyes following the movements of both dam and cub. At every gambol played by the latter, it approached nigher to the dog, the growling of the three becoming more horrid at each moment, until the younger beast, overleaping its intended bound, fell directly before the mastiff. There was a moment of fearsul cries and struggles; but they ended almost as soon as commenced, by the cub appearing in the air, hurled from the jaws of Brave, with a violence that sent it against a tree so forcibly as to render it completely senseless.
Elizabeth witnessed the short struggle, and her blood was warming with the triumph of the dog, when she saw the form of the old panther in the air, springing twenty feet from the branch of the beech to the back of the mastiff. No words of ours can describe the fury of the conflict that followed. It was a confused struggle on the dried leaves, accompanied by loud and terrible cries, barks, and growls. Miss Temple continued on her knees, bending over the form of Louisa, her eyes fixed on the animals, with an interest so horrid, and yet so intense, that she almost forgot her own stake in the result.
So rapid and vigorous were the bounds of the inhabitant of the forest, that its active frame seemed constantly in the air, while the dog nobly faced his foe, at each successive leap. When the panther lighted on the shoulders of the mastiff, which was its constant aim, old Brave, though torn with its