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THE MONTHLY REPOSITORY,

AND LIBRARY OF

Entertaining Kuowledge. VOL. I. ·_ MARCH, 1831.

VOL. I.

MARCH

No. 10.

THE RIVER LA PLATA.

LA PLATA is the name of a very great river in South America, running through the province of Paraguay ; on which account the whole country is sometimes called Plata, though this name is usually given only to a part of Paraguay. In the latter sense it comprehends all that country which is bounded on the east and southeast by the Atlantic ocean; on the south by Terra Magellanica ; on the west by Tucuman; and on the north by the provinces of Paraguay proper and Parana. The great river La Plata, from which the country has its name, was first discovered in the year 1515, by Juan Diaz de Zolis, but denominated La Plata by Sebastian Gobato, from the great quantity of precious metals he procured from the adjacent inhabitants, imagining that they were the produce of the country, though, in fact, they were brought from Peru.

The climate is pleasant and healthy. The winter is in May, June, and July, when the nights are very cold, but the days are moderately warm. The frost is

ther violent nor lasting, and the snows are very in"nsiderable. The country consists mostly of plains r a vast extent, and exceeding rich soil, producing all sorts of European and American fruits.

The river La Plata rises in Peru, and receives many others in its course, the chief of which is the Paraguay. The water of it is said to be very clear and sweet, and to petrify wood. It contains such plenty and variety

of fish, that the people catch large quantities of them without any other instrument than their hands. It runs mostly to the south and southeast, and is navigable the greatest part of its course by the largest vessels, and is full of delightful islands. All along its banks are seen the most beautiful birds, of all kinds; but it sometimes overflows the adjacent country to a great extent, and is infested with serpents of a prodigious size. From its junction with the Paraguay to its mouth, the distance is above two hundred leagues. Some judgment may be formed of its magnitude, when it is said that its mouth is about seventy leagues in width.

The manner in which individuals are conveyed across some parts of this majestic river, is curious, and to those who are accustomed to bridges and boats, somewhat alarming. Of this subject, the following account is given by Mollien, in his travels in Colombia.

« The following day, leaving the banks of the Pai, I proceeded along those of the Rio de la Plata, which falls into it, and before two o'clock in the afternoon, arrived in sight of the town of that name. We could not immediately enter it, on account of the bridge of communication not being sufficiently commodious for the number of persons going to and from La Plata. On each side of the river, 'leather bands are made fast to stakes, driven into the ground, and upon this tarabita, (for thus they call this singular sort of a bridge,) is placed a piece of wood, furnished with leather straps, by which the traveller is fastened, and according to whichever side he wishes to go, he is drawn across. The passage, at first, seems rather alarming; and one cannot, without shuddering, find himself suspended over an abyss by a few hide-ropes, which are very liable to be injured by the rain, and consequently, to break. Accidents, however, seldom happer. Animals are made to swim across.”

Ambition travels on a road too narrow for friends ship,--too steep for safety.

For the Repository and Library of Entertaining Knowledge.

BOOKS FOR CHILDREN. EARLY impressions made upon the mind of a child are like characters written upon moistened clay. While in this state it will receive almost any impression, which, if permitted to remain until it has become hardened, it will be very difficult to erase. It is therefore highly important that these impressions be good. Much depends upon the character of the books that are put into the hands of the child to read. What impressions would it be like to receive from reading some of the popular novels of the day, where the hero of the tale is represented as a deceiver, and perhaps a murderer-where the most vicious and malignant principles of depraved nature are applauded and extolled as the greatest of virtues ? It is certain that a bad impression is more easily made than a virtuous one. Hence the importance of furnishing children with such books as will be calculated to instil into their minds pure and virtuous principles. When the mind is just beginning to expand, instead of having presented to its intellect a groupe of distorted and unsubstantial images as the groundwork of its future progress in wisdom and knowledge, it should be irradiated with the beams of unadulterated truth. But what is the general tendency of most of the novels and popular romances that are so eagerly sought after and read, especially by the younger part of the community ? “ To distort and caricature the facts of real history; to gratify a romantic imagination; to pamper a depraved mental appetite; to excite a disrelish for the existing scenes of nature, and for the authenticated facts that have occurred in the history of mankind; to hold up venerable characters to derision and contempt; to excite admiration of the exploits and malignant principles of those rude chieftains and barbarous heroes, whose names ought to descend into everlasting oblivion; to revive the revengeful spirit of the dark ages; to undermine that sacred regard for truth and moral principal, which forms the basis of happiness of the intellectual universe; and throw a false glory over scenes of rapine and bloodshed, and devastation. To such wurks and their admirers we might apply the words of the ancient prophet, He feedeth on ashes ; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot say, Is there not a lie in my right hand.'

'For sure, to hug a fancied case
That never did, and never can take place,
And for the pleasures it can give,
Neglect the facts of real life,
Is madness in its greatest height,

Or I mistake the matter quite."" The minds of young persons, who spend their time in reading fiction, generally become completely dissipated ;-—they lose a relish for facts connected with the system of nature and the history of mankind when represented in their true light. They are like the man that has become addicted to the use of strong drink, who is not satisfied with the refreshing and healthy beverage nature has freely supplied, but require some thing of stimulating nature to excite and elevate his feelings. There is sufficient variety in the existing scenes of creation and providence, without having recourse to scenes of fiction to instruct and gratify a rational mind. “If we survey the Alpine scenes of nature; if we explore the wonders of the ocean; if we penetrate the subterraneous recesses of the globe; if we investigate the structure and economy of the animal and vegetable tribes; if we raise our eyes to the rolling orbs of heaven; and if we contemplate the moral scenery which is every where displayed around us .-shall we not find a sufficient variety of every thing that is calculated to interest and improve the mind ?" Parents, therefore, who permit their children to more than waste their time in reading fictitous narratives, (the wild vagaries of an unbridled imagination,) or neglect to furnish them with suitable books—such as will be calculated to interest and instruct them, are certainly very censurable. Do they feel the responsiblility that rests upon them to “train up their child in the way

he should go” as they ought? Are they sensible of the
duties they owe to their children, who are looking up to
and depending upon them for advice and instruction
--to the community with which they are to associate,
and a part of which they are soon to become and to
God who has placed them for a season under their care,
and who will call them to an account for the manner in
which they train them up ? If they did they would not
be indifferent to this important subject. Youth is em-
phatically the seed time of life. Much care should be
taken therefore in the selection of the seed to be sown.

66Tis education forms the common mind :-
Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined."

F. MERRICK.

LITERATURE OF THE JEWS.

THE Spanish and Portuguese Jews, from whom the most distinguished of the Dutch Hebrew families are descended, were renowed among their nation for su-. perior talents and acquirements, and we believe maintain even to this day an almost universally admitted. pre-eminence. Under the tolerant and comparatively enlightened Mohamedan conquerors of Spain, their property was protected, their toleration was encouraged, and their persons loaded with favors. Their writers boast with delight and enthusiasm of “the glory, splendor and prosperity in which they lived."

Their schools in the south of the Peninsula were the channels through which the knowledge of the East was spread over western and northern Europe. Abenezra, Maimonides and Kimki, three of the most illustrious ornaments of the Synagogue, rank among the Spanish Jews.—Throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, while knowledge among Christians seemed at the lowest ebb, the catalogue of Hebrew writers is most extensive and most varied. Mathematics, medicine, and natural philosophy, were all greatly advanced under their auspices ; while the pursuits of poetry and oratory adorned their pages. They

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