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similar to water-spouts, but without the capability of producing any visible agitation of the atmosphere, owing to their extreme subtilety. As the ocean presents an extended surface, I think it probable that in some cases these ascending columns are very large ; and when they intervene between a vessel and the land, the effect must be very strong, and consequently the more deceiving. I presume this is that kind of illusion which is familiar to seamen when they approach the land, and which, in nautical language, is denominated looming.

It somtimes happens, during the prevalence of a fog in the bay of New York, that objects present themselves to the eye seemingly very large, but which on a near approach are found to be of inconsiderable magnitude. I never beheld a case, however, in which the illusion made the object to appear so disproportioned and striking as the one mentioned by Mr. Jefferson.* The difference most probably arises from difference of situations.

The real cause of the deception I take to be this : After the sun has attained considerable altitude, and by its influence has dissipated the denser part of the vapor, the rays of light and heat penetrate through the remaining portion, producing a strong magnifying effect; and when, under these circumstances, an object is placed within a certain distance of an observer, (but of the real distance required to produce the effect, I am unable to speak,) it assumes a very imposing aspect, seeming to be much larger than it really is. I think I am correct in asserting, (and to this sentiment I attach great weight,) that none of these phenomena were ever noticed either before the sun had risen or after it had set. Hence I infer, that their true origin and cause must be traced to the influence which light and heat are generally understood to have on vapor; and which, under some circumstances communicate to it a high magnifying, and under others a bright reflecting property.

In relation to the singular circumstance of a mountain in Virginia assuming various and apparently whimsical shapes at certain periods, it can, in my view of the subject, arise from no other conceivable causes but from those at present under view. As before observed, ordinary evaporation is so extremely subtile as to elude our vision ;

* 'Having had occasion to mention the particular situation of Monticello for other purposes, I will just take notice that its elevation affords an opportunity of seeing a phenomenon which is rare at land, though frequent at sea. The scamén call it looming, Philosophy is as yet in the rear of seamen, for so far from having accounted for it, she has not given it a name. Its principal effect is to make distant objects appear larger, in opposition to the general law of vision, by which they are diminished. I knew an instance at Yorktown, from whence the water prospect eastwardly is without termination, wherein a canoe with three men at a great disiance, was taken for a ship with its three masis. I am little acquainted with the phenomenon as it shows itself al sea; but at Monticello it is familiar. There is a solitary mountain about forty miles off, in the south, whose natural shape, as presented to view there, is a regular cone; but by the effect of looming, it sometimes subsides almost wholly into the horizon; sometimes it rises more acute and more elevated; sometimes it is hémispherical ; and sometimes its sides are perpendicular, its top flat, and as broad as its base. In short, it assumes at times the most whimsical shapes, and all these, perhaps, successively in the same morning. Refraction will not account for this metamorphosis; that only changes the proportions of length and breadth, base and altitude, preserving the general outlines. Thus it may make a circle appear eliptical, raise or depress a cone; but by none of its laws, as yet developed, will it make a circle appear a square, or a cone a sphere.'

Notes on Virginia.

nevertheless, it must at times be of sufficient density to conceal a distant object from view. It is known that the atmosphere in high situations is generally cool; and fog is frequently seen extended in thin horizontal strata on the top of a ridge, becoming visibly condensed on meeting with the cool air above. The effect on invisible vapor we must presume to be the same ; and at times a body of it must be supposed to take the same place, remaining for a while stationary, (subject nevertheless to very sudden and material changes) concealing the top of the ridge from the sight. At the same time, streams of vapor are supposed to ascend from the foot of the ridge, and adhering to its sides in columns or some analogous shape, leave the prominent part exposed to the view of the observer. Sometimes these exhalations ascend in right lines, and coming in contact with the horizontal strata above, it gives to the mountain a quadrangular figure. At other times they are presumed to follow its sides, and meeting on the top in curved lines, it presents a hemispherical figure. And whatever may be the form assumed by the object, whether quadrangular, hemispherical, conical, sunk in the horizon, or whatever else, I feel well assured it is all the effect of the same law. In my opinion it can neither be traced to, nor can it originate from, any other conceivable or assignable cause.

It is remarked of the mountain in question, that it is isolated and solitary, and of a conical form. To this circumstance alone must be owing the exhibition of the strange phenomenon. I venture to assert, that no corresponding appearances were ever observed on a mountain of any considerable continuity, unless aided by distance and some peculiar circumstances, provided its shape and figure possessed the character of uniformity.

Since the foregoing observations on looming were written, I am altogether satisfied of their correctness, and do not now offer them as mere matter of speculation. Any person who wishes to remove from his mind every doubt in this respect, can easily do it. There is one state of the atmosphere alone in which this phenomenon is visible; and this is not unfrequent in the spring and autumn. In summer or winter it is rarely seen.

Whenever a sudden transition takes place from a warm or sultry, to a refrigerative atinosphere, this phenomenon is very visible at the north point of Staten Island ; at the Narrows; and at Weehawk, as before stated. The effect is produced solely by action between the two elements, air and water. The air in such cases being dry, and considerably colder than the water, a powerful evaporation immediately ensues ; for the plain reason, that an equilibrium in the operations of nature must be kept up; but, as I have already remarked, it cannot be seen until the light acts strongly upon it. Hence it will be found, that it is scarcely perceptible either before sunrise or after sunset.

It will be evident to every observer who is willing to examine for himself, that in a mere ordinary state of the atmosphere, the ridge in New Jersey, as seen through the Narrows, presents an almost even line of considerable elevation. In a few instances, I have perceived



An Oak by the Way-side.


the effect of looming to be so strong, that, in the language of Mr. Jefferson, it had almost 'subsided in the horizon. The comb of the ridge only was perceptible, and presented the appearance of small tufts or points.* This, I think, goes to confirm the suggestion before made, that the vapor ascends in columns. The very jagged appearance of those parts of the ridge, seen under such circumstances, I deem conclusive on this point. The steam from boiling water takes that shape, and still farther illustrates the position.

If Mr. Jefferson had taken pains to note the state of the atmosphere, during those periods when the mountain of which he speaks presented those whimsical appearances, I am well persuaded that he would have found them at no time visible, except during the prevalence of such a state of the atmosphere as I have mentioned. Indeed I hesitate not to say, that the principles of philosophy will authorize no other conclusion. And whether on land or on water, the effect is the same, since it must be owing to the same cause. The most skeptical can satisfy themselves in relation to this matter, with very little trouble.

In my next number, I shall present some facts in relation to the transmission of sound through the air, and offer a theory of thundershowers, and of west and north-west winds.


Thou rear'st aloft thy giant limbs, as if to grasp the skies,
And 'neath thy branches, far and wide thine outspread shadow lies;
Thou hast battled with the storms of old, yet dust is on thy leaves,
And his web within their deep green folds, the venomed insect weaves;
Thy trunk some rude unlettered churl hath seamed with many a scar,
Bui the hand of Time bath stamped decay on thee more deeply far:
Yet proudly still thou rear’st thy head, as thou all change defied -
How like earth's mighty ones thou art, lone tree by the way-side!

And hark! a shout sounds o'er the hill!- they come, the urchin-rout,
With screaming whoop, and loud halloo, from school poured wildly out;
They halt beneath thy spreading limbs, and many a ragged crown
Again with deafening shout is flung, to bring thy high fruit down:
The wanderer, worn and travel-soiled, who rests beneath thee now,
Hies on his way, sorgetting e'en to bless thy shady bough.

Hadst thou but kept thy forest-haunts, contented with the rest
To wear thy coat of goodly green, nor thus, with towering crest,
Stood forth upon the world's highway alone, amid the coil
of life, the bustle and the hum, the whirl and wild turmoil,
Daring the tempest - thou, old oak, for ages might have stood,
Time-honored 'mid thy sturdy sons, the patriarch of the wood;
Nor then, as now perchance, have wept thy faded leaves, and died

Alone! - alone, a withered iree, upon the chill way-side!
New York, November, 1837.


* I have several times since remarked the fact, that the ridge mentioned above was wholly invisible, and that too in au upusually serene state of the atmosphere, which, however, was highly refrigerative. VOL. XI.


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How feetly come, and how unbeeded go,
Thine emissaries, Years! Thou art to few
A riddle that is read; and yet lo most
A secret that hath not the power to move
Their idle curiosity, or win
So much attention in a varying year,
As is at Folly's glass, or Fashion's shrine,
Each day bestowed ay, often every hour.
The knell of thy departure sometimes rings
Full on the quickened ear; and startled Thought,
Leaping bewildered from the airy halls
Where most it doih inhabit, for a while
Fixes its vision on the awing gulf
in which thou disappearest, year by year :
But soon, unused to contemplating aught
So vast and terrible, it shrinketh back,
And stealeth to its airy halls again.
Oh, it is sad to think how unobserved
Thou glidest onward; for in thee man works
His all of good and evil – weal and wo!
Thou gone, there comes no future chance of change:
Fixed is the destiny -- written the doom -
Indelible the record! Hark!

Full-toned and solemn, from thine awiul gulf,
Comes up that voice, which striketh not the ear,
But in the brain rings long and thrillingly :
' Another, and another! Echoed back
From the rapt mind, the universe doth seem,
For the lone moment, without other tone:
Another and another! Knell of hope
To some, of life to others, and of Time
To all! And yet, unresting voyager !
Man notes thy progress, only as he notes
The still career of pestilence --- hy what
Thou strikest, in thine onward march, to earth,
And strewest in thy path an utter wreck!
Strange, that a creature gifted as is man,
Endowed with aspirations limitless -
Fashioned and formed with such high, wondrous art,
Furnished with strength of intellect to soar,
Beauty to dazzle, blandishments to win,
And warmth of heart to cherish - should be prone,
So prone to earth, and earthly vanities.
Whence, but froin this, proceed the varied ills
That lite erbitter? Guile, that murders peace –
Passion, that scorches with incessant heat,
Firing the blood, and maddening the brain -
Avarice, that blinds the eyes of Rectitude,
And grasps forever - Strife, that pales the cheek,
And gives the brow its furrows - griefs that rob
The eye of lustre --- murmurs without end -
Longings unsatisfied -- guilt unreproved ?
We make or mar Life's blessings! We do hold
Within ourselves the measure of our fate;
And as we fill it with the vanities
And shadows of existence, or the things
Of comeliness and substance, willit yield
Bliss-giving good, or soul-destroying ill.
The world is beautiful. Thought ne'er hath framed,
In its most frenzied moments, vale so sweet,
Mountain so towering, sunny stream so fair,
Torrent so grand, abysm so awful, cliff
So dizzying, parterre so richly gemmd,
With varying flowers, or velvei slope so soft,

But Nature, in her visible works, doth far
Surpass them all. And this so glorious world,
Man's heritage and home is. Gift abused !
Fortune unmerited! How like a god's
Might be his bearing here! Or, nobler thought!
How much of angel-purity, and joy.
Celestial, might his mortal state afford,
Which now is poisoned by all evil things,
Through his perverseness. Not to ease the pain,
Lighten the burthen, meliorate the lot,
Or soothie the grief of his poor fellow-man,
Doth he esteem his duty ; but to roam
The earth in search of treasure, while there is
A nook un visited — to grasp, and grasp,
Until the arm is nerveless — to exact,
Even from Want, the pittance that might save –
To wring from houseless Beggary its groat,
And claim its tatters - - and, with miser-care,
To hoard ill-gotten gains, while Wretchedness,
Squalid and shivering, seeks his door in vain!
Alas! that lay so sombre should be sung
Mid the rejoicings for the new-born year!
But man haih bowed his spirit in the dust
Forgolten his high birth, and destiny
Exalted and sublime - debased his name
And noble nature - and so long on earth
Bent his keen eye, and fix'd his scheming mind,
That he doth think this is the house in which
He shall abide for ever! Therefore 't is,
That in the colors of awakening truth
Fancy now dips her pencil, and portrays
That which may startle. Hark!

Again – again:
* Another, and another! Thrice, now - - thrice,
That solemn-sounding knell hath in my brain
Rang thrillingly and long. Oh, would this lay
Could here and there a thoughtful bosom find,
And but a tithe impart of what I feel
Working upon my spirit now!

What! – mirth,
And revelry, and music! Yon bright hall,
Where hand thrills hand, and eye in ecstacy
Glances in eye, as through the mazy dance
Light feet and fairy forms move joyously
To merry notes, arrested not till now
My rapt attention. Youthful pulses leap,
And beauty's bloom hath there an added tint,
And eyes have deeper lustre, and the blood
Rushes impetuous ihrough the tingling veins,
And lovely tones have greater witchery,
And tell-tale glances revelations make
As sweet as Hybla's treasure.

And 'tis well:
Well thus to welcome in the new-born year-
As if its coming did insure a joy
Dreamed of, but never found, in parted time:
For, though experience gives to hope the lig,
And expectations are bui mockeries,
Yet is he wise who in the future still
Sees what shall in the future e'er remain.

On with the dance, then, and the harmless rout!
But, revellers ! should the knell of parting years
At times strike on the heart attuned 10 mirth,
And in your merry-makings startle ye,
As the 'hand-writing' in Belshazzar's hall
Arrested the carousers, turn ye not
In levity away — but in your minds,
And on your hearts, oh! let this saving truth
Be written; "This is not the house in which

Ye shall abide for ever!
Columbus, (Ohio,) 1837-8.

W. D. G.

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