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If I might be allowed to abandon myself to the recollections of my own distant travels, I would instance among the most striking scenes of nature the calm sublimity of a tropical night, when the stars, not sparkling as in our northern skies, shed their soft and planetary light over the gently heaving ocean; or I would recall the deep valleys of the Cordilleras, where the tall and slender palms pierce the leafy veil around them, and waving on high their feathery and arrow-like branches, form, as it were, “a forest above a forest;” or I would describe the summit of the Peak of Teneriffe, when a horizontal layer of clouds, dazzling in whiteness, has separated the cone of cinders from the plain below, and suddenly the ascending current pierces the cloudy veil, so that the eye of the traveller may range from the brink of the crater, along the vine-clad slopes of Orotava, to the orange gardens and banana groves that skirt the shore. In scenes like these it is not the peaceful charm uniformly spread over the face of nature that moves the heart, but rather the peculiar physiognomy and conformation of the land, the features of the landscape, the evervarying outline of the clouds, and their blending with the horizon of the sea, whether it lies spread before us like a smooth and shining mirror, or is dimly seen through the morning mist. All that the senses can but imperfectly comprehend, all that is most awful in such romantic scenes of nature, may become a source of enjoyment to man by opening a wide field to the creative powers of his imagination. Impressions change with the varying movements of the mind, and we are led by a happy illusion to believe that we receive from the external world that with which we have ourselves invested it.
When, far from our native country, after a long voyage, we tread for the first time the soil of a tropical land, we experience a certain feeling of surprise and gratification in recognizing in the rocks that surround us the same inclined schistose strata, and the same columnar basalt covered with cellular amygdaloids, that we had left in Europe, and whose identity of character in latitudes so widely different reminds us that the solidification of the earth's crust is altogether independent of climatic influences. But these rocky masses of schist and of basalt are covered with vegetation of a character with which we are unacquainted, and of a physiognomy wholly unknown to us; and it is then, amid the colossal and majestic forms of an
exotic flora, that we feel how wonderfully the flexibility of our nature fits us to receive new impressions, linked together by a certain secret analogy. We so readily perceive the affinity existing amongst all the forms of organic life, that although the sight of a vegetation similar to that of our native country might at first be most welcome to the eye, as the sweet familiar sounds of our mother tongue are to the ear, we nevertheless, by degrees and almost imperceptibly, become familiarized with a new home and a new climate. As a true citizen of the world, man everywhere habituates himself to that which surrounds him: yet, fearful as it were of breaking the links of association that bind him to the home of his childhood, the colonist applies to some few plants in a far distant clime the names he had been familiar with in his native land; and by the mysterious relations existing amongst all types of organization, the forms of exotic vegetation present themselves to his mind as nobler and more perfect developments of those he had loved in earlier days. Thus do the spontaneous impressions of the untutored mind lead, like the laborious deductions of cultivated intellect, to the same intimate persuasion that one sole and indissoluble chain binds together all nature.
HUME, David, a Scottish historian and philosopher; born at Edinburgh, April 26, 1711; died there, August 25, 1776. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh. In 1734 he entered a counting-house at Bristol, where he remained only a short time, then went to France, where he resided three years, and wrote his “Treatise of Human Nature.” This was published in 1738, and, as he says, “fell dead from the press.” Returning to Edinburgh, he published in 1742 the first volume of his “Essays.” General St. Clair in 1746 was sent as minister to Turin, and Hume accompanied him as secretary. While at Turin he wrote his “Inquiry into the Human Understanding,” which is essentially an enlargement of his earlier “Treatise of Human Nature.” He returned to Scotland in 1749, and published his “Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals” and “Political Discourses." In 1752 he was chosen Librarian of the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, and began his “ History of England," a standard classic in our language. The first volume appeared in 1754. The second volume appeared in 1756. In 1759 appeared his “ History of the House of Tudor," and in 1761 the volumes relating to the earlier portions of the English annals. He had in mind to write two more volumes, treating of the reigns of William III. and of Anne. But this purpose was never executed. Hume's “History of England,” as written by himself, closes with the conclusion of the reign of James II. Near the close of his life Hume wrote a partial autobiography.
OF REFINEMENT IN THE ARTS. LUXURY is a word of an uncertain signification, and may be taken in a good as well as in a bad sense. In general it means great refinement in the gratification of the senses; and any degree of it may be innocent or blamable, according to the age or country or condition of the person. The bounds between the virtue and the vice cannot here be exactly fixed, more than in other moral subjects. To imagine that the gratifying of any sense, or the indulging of any delicacy in meat, drink, or ap