صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

world! At this moment, how contemptible appeared the vanity and folly of Xerxes, when he formed the resolution of cutting through a mountain which casts its shadow more than eighty miles: "Athos," said the monarch, " Athos, thou proud and aspiring mountain, that liftest thy head unto the heavens, I advise thee not to be so audacious as to put rocks and stones, which cannot be cut, in the way of my workmen. If thou givest them that opposition, I will cut thee entirelydown, and throw thee headlong into the sea." From Cader Idris, the eye, pursuing the orbit of the bold geographical outline, glances over the bay of Cardigan, and reposes for a while on the summit of the Rivel. After observing the indented shores of Carnarvonshire, it travels over a long line of ocean, till, in the extremity of the horizon, the blue mountains of Wicklow terminate the perspective. Those mountains gradually sink along the coast, till they are lost to the eye; which, ranging along the expanse, at length, as weary of the journey, reposes on the Island of Man and the distant mountains of Scotland. The intermediate space is occupied by the sides and summits of mountains, hollow crags, masses of rocks, the towers of Carnarvon, the fields of Anglesea, with woods, lakes, and glens, scattered in magnificent confusion. A scene like this commands our feelings to echo, as it were, in unison to its grandeur and sublimity; the thrill of astonishment and the transport of admiration seem to contend for the mastery; and nerves are touched that never thrilled before ! We seem as if our former existence were annihilated; and as if a new epoch were com menced. Another world opens upon us; and an unlimited orbit appears to display itself, as a theatre for our ambition. In viewing scenes so decidedly magnificent, to which neither the pen of the poet, nor the pencil of the painter, can ever promise justice; and the contemplation of which has the power

of making ample atonement for having studied mankind; the soul, expanding and sublimed, quickens with a spirit of divinity, and appears, as it were, associated with the Deity himself. Few ever mounted this towering eminence, but, for a time, they became wiser and better. Here the proud may learn humility; the unfortunate acquire confidence; and the man, who climbs Snowdon as an atheist, feels, as it were, ere he descends, an ardent desire to fall down and worship its Creator! Before our guide could induce us to leave this spot, the clouds formed around us; and at the moment in which we passed the Red Ridge, a peal of thunder murmured among the mountains. He, who has passed this tremendous rampire, will conceive the effect of the explosion, and the danger of our situation. The Red Ridge is a long narrow pass, elevated more than two thousand feet above the vale: the top of it, in some places, is not more than twelve feet across; and, by a slight inclination of the eye, a rocky valley is seen on one side, as deep, and nearly as perpendicular as the one on the other. The lightning now flashed over our heads; and the thunder, as we might have expected from the intensity of the day, rolled in sonorous volumes around us. If the prospect from the summit of Snowdon had been the finest we had ever seen, so were these the most tremendous sounds that we had ever heard. Upon returning to Bethgelart, a sequestered village, rendered famous for the retirement of Vortigern, who insulated himself upon a lofty rock, since called the fort of Ambrosius, the moon, rising from behind the crags, threw a matchless glory over all the heavens. A transition more delightful to the imagination, it were scarcely possible to conceive


And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy I wantoned with thy breakers-they, to me, Were a delight; and if the freshening sea Made them a terror-'twas a pleasing fear. For I was, as it were, a child of thee, And trusted to thy billows far and near, And laid my hand upon thy mane-as I do here. LORD BYRON.

The Ocean, which Sophocles considered the finest and most beautiful object in nature, fills every contemplative mind with that grateful awe, which bears witness that it acknowledges the hand of the Deity; and that we know the value of that religion which a French writer would call " the science of the soul," the language of which is that of the mind, in unison with the affections. This vast collection of globulas, and fountain of vapour, occupies more than three parts of the globe; is the source of circulation and growth to all organized bodies; and the general reservoir of vegetable and animal decompositions, with sulphureous and mineral substances. While the myriads of animals it contains, no pen could ever number. Neither could it enumerate the multitude of shells, gems, and plants, which grow to us invisibly; and to which, doubtless, the present species, genera, orders, and classes, could not be referred. Some floating with the wind; others at the mercy of every wave; some secured to stones and rocks; some rising to the surface from the bottom; and others, sheltered from agitations, rising not more than two inches above the great bed of the ocean; receiving nourishment from its saline particles; and giving sustenance, in return, to innumerable fishes and insects. Thales was, therefore, not far from the truth, when

he said, that the Deity formed all things out of water-nor Proclus, when he taught that the ocean was the cause of secondary natures of every description. When we sit upon the edges of rocks, rising over the ocean; when we behold its boundless surface, agitated with perpetual motion; and when we listen to the music of its murmur, or the deep intonations of its roar, what amplitude doth the mind acquire, as to extent, to numbers, and duration ! Amid storms and tempests it is, that nature assumes the most terrific attitudes. Those, who have beheld the waves beating along the recesses of Norway, heard the vast ice islands of Spitzbergen crash against each other, when contending winds strive for the mastery; and those, who have had the power of contrasting them with the tempests of the Cape, where the electric fluid, bursting from an azure sky, foretells the monsoon, so admiPably delineated by Camoens, feel an awful sensation while reflecting on the length of ages that was requisite to acquire a knowledge of the watery waste. Nature often speaks with most miraculous organ; and sometimes with force even equal to that of the Decalogue. "If I ascend into heaven," says the Hebrew poet, "thou art there; If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand hold me." Coasting along the rocks of Portugal, the imagination listens to the hymn of "Adeste Fideles;" along those of Sicily, it rests upon the "O Sentissima" of the Sicilian mariners; along the shores of the Adriatic, the soul inhales delight from the poems of Petrarch and Tasso; and when gliding along the waters of Palestine, we recal that awful period, when "the earth was without form, and void; and darkness sat upon the face of the deep." The Ocean, a solitude more solemn and awful than that of mountains, forests, or desarts, penetrates the soul with a

spirit of devotion. Every agitation produces new beauty, or new wonder: the miracles of the firmament are reflected in every wave, in the unceasing restlessness of which we recognise the ever marching progress of time: and, as the waves gradually accumulate at a distance, seeming to collect their strength in their approach to the shore, and fall on the beech in the form of a semicircular cascade, contemplation seems to have the power of producing ambrosial slumbers; and silently whispering to the imagination that the soul is of ethereal origin, and of eternal duration, we seem, for a moment, to be, like Enoch, translated to heaven. The rising and setting of the sun; the splendour of Orion in a night of Autumn; and the immensity of the Ocean, far beyond the pencil of painters, or the imagery of poets, awaken ideas of power, awful and magnificent. Raised above the level of human thought, the soul acknowledges a wild and terrible grandeur; while, recognizing in the heavens, a

[ocr errors][merged small]

Chaos seems, as it were, to have yielded to order; and infinity, in one solemn picture, astonishes every faculty of the mind. But,

[ocr errors]

Who shall tempt, with wandering feet,
"The dark, unfathomed, infinite abyss,

And, through the palpable obscure, find out
"His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight,
Upborne with indefatigable wings,
"Over the vast abrupt!"

In the Ocean we contemplate a Being, capable of measuring all its waters" in the hollow of his hand;" and who seems to our finite imaginations to have exercised, in forming it, the greatest possible exertion of omnipotence. Philosophy itself acknowledges, in its contemplation, all the fire and enthusiasm of poetry. In man, and in the works of

« السابقةمتابعة »