« ПредишнаНапред »
nice adjustment of their motions and positions, so as to secure their stability and permanency in their revolutions along with the planet around the sun.
3. They are doubtless intended to teach us what varied kinds of sublimity and beauty the Deity has introduced, or may yet introduce, into various regions throughout the universe. We are acquainted with only a few particulars respecting one planetary system. But we have every reason to conclude, that many millions of similar or analogous systems exist throughout the unlimited regions of space. In some of these systems, the arrangements connected with the worlds which compose them, may be as different from those of our globe, and some of the other planets, as the arrangements and apparatus connected with Saturn are different from those of the planets Vesta or Mars.
Around some of these worlds there may be thrown not only two concentric rings, but rings standing at right angles to each other, and enclosing and revolving around each other. Yea, for aught we know, there may be an indefinite number of rings around some worlds, and variously inclined to each other, so that the planet may appear like terrestrial globe, suspended in the middle of an armillary sphere ; and all these rings may be revolving within and around each other, in various directions, and on different periods of time, so as to produce a variety and sublimity of aspect, of which we can form no adequate conception. There is nothing irrational or extravagant in these suppositions : for had we never discovered the rings of Saturn, we could have formed no conception of such an appendage being thrown around any world, and it would have been considered in the highest degree improbable and romantic, had any one broached the idea. We are therefore led to conclude, from the characteristic of rariety impressed on the universe, that Saturn is not the only planet in creation that is surrounded with such an apparatus, and that the number and position of its rings were not the only models according to which the planetary arrangements in other systems may be constructed.
4. Beside the considerations now stated, the chief use, I presume, for which these rings were created, was - that they might serve as a spacious abode for myriads of intelligent creatures. If we admit that the globe of Saturn was formed for the reception of rational beings, we have the same reason to believe that the rings were formed for a
It is not at all likely that a surface of 29,000,000,000 of square miles, capable of containing ten thousand times the population of our globe, would be left destitute of inhabitants, when there is not a puddle, or marsh, or drop of water, on our globe, but teems with living beings. These rings are as capable of supporting sensitive and intelligent beings as any of the globes which compose the solar system. They are solid bodies; they have an attractive power; they are endowed with motion ; and from their surface the most grand and magnificent displays may be beheld of celestial scenery. From all the circumstances which have been stated above, it is evident that the numerous objects connected with the rings and with the globe of Saturn, were not intended merely to illuminate barren sands and hideous deserts, but to afford a comfortable and magnificent habitation for thousands of millions of rational inhabitants, who employ their
faculties in the contemplation of the wonders which surround them, and give to their Creator the glory which is due to his name.
A variety of other scenes and circumstances might have been detailed, in reference to the rings of Saturn ; but this paper has already been protracted to an inconvenient length; and without figures and machinery, it is impossible to convey clear and definite ideas on this subject.
Cyprian wine is not for me,
WILLIAM B. TAPFAX.
Boston, December, 1837.
'Adieu, adieu! my native shore
Fades o'er the waters blue,
And shrieks the wild sea mew.'
I have said I took passage in a vessel bound to New-Orleans. I had never been at sea; and this was fortunate, for I required some excitement to arouse my torpid energies. It was a Sabbath eveniug, when we set sail. Hardly were we out of the harbor, when the wind rose, and drove us furiously on our course. The land was soon lost to view, in distance and darkness.
There being danger on deck, I sought my cabin and sleep. The poise of the winds, the quick, startling commands of the captain, and the running here and there; the knocking of blocks, and lackles, and ropes; the groaning of the ship as the seas struck her, to me inexperienced, seemed to betoken imminent peril. Every moment, for I lay awake all night, I expected to hear cries of alarm, and to be buried in the waves. I resigned myself calmly to my fate. I thought we must perish; and it was joy to think, that that life which had been so tempestuous and stormy, was about to be closed on the wide sea, amid the conflicts of the elements, in solitude and darkness. I was thankful, too, that time was allowed me to commend my soul to God; to ask forgiveness for my sins; to pray for the happiness of my friends, whom I had so much disregarded, and who had so often forgiven me.
This is true. It was a blessed moment. I felt I had an immortal soul.
The danger, however, was all in my own imagination. It blowed bard, but we were perfectly secure. Landsmen have no idea of the power of a ship, or the magnificence of a real storm at sea. After once undergoing one, we are in possession of a secret; and a stiff gale is a source of pleasure rather than of pain. On land, the same wind that unroofs our houses, and prostrates the tall forest trees, breaks not the blade of grass, nor snaps the tender vine. A good ship yields in the soft element, and bends her head to the tempest. The danger at sea lies in squalls and sudden gusts. Give a seaman searoom enough, and he cares not how hard it blows, if it blow steadily.
The morning dawned at last, and I had just fallen into a deep sleep, worn out with watching, when the captain roused me, and said, Come, if you would see a fine sight.'
I went upon deck, and looked upon the most majestic scene my eyes ever beheld. The sun was just rising; not a cloud was in the sky; the waves ran mountain high, and their curled tops, covered with white foam, glistened in the slauting sun-beams. No land was in sight, but at some distance we could descry a tall ship dancing upon the waters, as if it were no heavier than a nut-shell. The crew looked fresh and animated, as they once more regained their own element ; and the captain, whom on land I had thought a coarse, illiterate, clumsy, sleepy booby, now appeared to possess a dignity and force of character, which awed me into silent respect before him.
The moment, however, we were seated at breakfast, out of sight of the sailors, he relapsed again into the easy, jovial companion; and I, in my turn, showed my superiority in the graces of the table.
The laborer is graceful as he ploughs the field, or sweeps the scythe ; the artisan is graceful at his work; the sailor on the sea, as he climbs the giddy mast. Men are only clowns, when they attempt that which is foreign to their natures and habits. Dress the laborer in rich garments, and set him to work; put the mechanic into a ball-room, or the sailor on the land, and they are awkward and clumsy. Ease, and the mens conscia recti, is gracefulness; consistency is gracefulness; to appear what we truly are, is to be truly dignified.
As we proceeded out to sea, and the bracing air of the ocean operated upon my health, giving me life and gayety; as I underwent danger from storms, and heard our captain tell of his hair-breadth 'scapes' on the deep; of shipwreck, murder, famine, and death; my own misfortunes sank into insignificance, and I began to feel ashamed of myself for yielding to despair, in the presence of men who were happy and contented with the recollection of past misfortunes upon their minds, and the chance of danger always hanging over them.
Confined to the narrow sphere of a village or farnily, we are apt to acquire a force of character only sufficiently strong to meet trite and common events. We look upon little things as large; we magnify inconveniences into misfortunes, accidents into judgments, and are frequently made positively unhappy by things unworthy the notice of an immortal being. Travel, and a larger intercourse with mankind, will correct this weakness. Our scope of comparison will be wider, and by getting to know that difficulty attends every enterprise ; that all men, from the highest to the lowest, are not, in any one instance, exempted from suffering; we return to the circumscribed society of the village, and are happy by comparison. Though our bodies move only over a short space of earth, still, in our minds, we live in the world, in the widest sense, and acquire that elevation, and liberality, and reasonableness of thought, so great a source of happiness to others and to its
possessor. After a very long, but not to me tedious passage, for I was sorry when we came in sight of land, we arrived at New Orleans. I am not about to give a description of the country or cities; but the impression is still vivid in my memory, of the feelings I experienced as we stemmed the tide of the mighty river, and dragged by the low marshes to the mud-walled city of the South; the sink of filth; the palace of beauty; the France of America; the gambling dépôt of planters and desperadoes, uniting all nations, complexions, religions; all codes of morals, all steps to vice, all degrees of virtue. Here is the gloomy fanatic, the vociferating Methodist, the astute Jesuit, the self-satisfied Catholic, high-born and wealthy, devout in his observances, infidel in his sentiments, and polluted in his life, all walking side by side ; while the calm, quiet, unassuming Quaker, emblem of meekness, Christian humility, and heavenly love, glides along his noiseless way, and impresses you with the belief, that true Christianity has yet her disciples on earth.
With a year's allowance in my pocket, I set out to dissipate my
cares, and to make a bold rush at something. Not much of a traveller, except among the moral inhabitants of the North, I began, after observing the latitude of conduct here, to place myself quite above par in the scale of virtue. Northerners have no idea of the utter want of principle that characterizes the southern man of pleasure; of the grossness, the debauchery, the sensuality, that walks in open day, and glories in its degradation. Here is every thing to entice the senses ; and the blood of the northerner, warmed up by the climate ; his senses fascinated by novel and luxurious allurements to sensual pleasure; his avarice revelling in the heaps of gold he may, by chance, realize, and that too from the smallest beginnings; all tend to lead him astray. If at home he has the character of a saint, here he will, most likely, have the character of a man ruined beyond redemption, or fortunate, beyond the hopes of independence. There is no medium. Hundreds of young men go annually from the northern states to New Orleans to seek their fortunes. About one-third return with the appearance of premature old
fortunes. mainder die, or linger about the city, waiting, hoping for death to come to their relief. Beside, the men who have made their fortunes at the South, rarely bring home with them the respect they once had for religion and good morals. They are indeed gentlemen, as the term goes, and bear, many of them, the honorable scars of courage at twelve paces; but they pine for the freedom from restraint which the South affords; they have lost their forme rhabits and tastes, and they find no sympathy for their newly-acquired substitutes.
Moralists may talk about principle as they please. It is good in the abstract. Men must have habits of goodness, or they will fail, with the purest intentions in the world. It is hard to find out where habit ends, and principle begins. Principle! Why, it is conscience, common sense. It puts us into a good path; it points out when we have lost the way: but habit governs us. Habit begets principle, and bad principles are sometimes only sophistry - that is, want of common sense. I pray God to give me good habits ! reason about the excellence of virtue and temperance till you you never will become morally pure, until you first are physically so. Dr. Johnson said a very foolish thing when he said, “A man may have good principles and bad practice.' A mere period ! Prettily balanced sentence! How many have you sent to the devil !
Soon after I had got established at a hotel, I formed an acquaintance with Mr. D— , from Charleston. He was a very gentlemanly man, whom I had seen at college, rather disposed for frolic, but with nothing vicious in his nature. He introduced me to a fine set, as he thought them — acquaintances he had made since his residence in the city. Already he had been pigeoned to a considerable amount by these friends, but his large resources and unsuspicious nature concealed from him their real character.
All young men of large fortune and inexperience in the world will be subject to such friends, upon first coming out. This kind of friendship is a perfect game. These fallen gentlemen who hang round our cities, more particularly at the South, where they can lodge out of doors, (good policy !) get quite a comfortable living by initiating young men into the world. They have the exterior of gentle