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To weary hearts, to mourning homes,
There's quiet in that Angel's glance,
Angel of Patience! sent to calm
Oh! thou, who mourncst on thy way,
John Gr. Whittter.
If books are like the sea-sand, good and true books are but as the rarer shells.
Of all inorganic substances, acting in their own proper nature, and without assistance or combination, water is the most wonderful. If we think of it as the source of all the changefulness and beauty which we have seen in clouds: then as the instrument by which the earth we have contemplated was modelled into symmetry, and its crags chiselled into grace; then as, in the form of snow, it robes the mountains it has made, with that transcendent light which we could not have conceived if we had not seen: then as it exists in the foam of the torrent—in the iris which spans it, in the morning mist which rises from it, in the deep crystalline pools which mirror its hanging shore, in the broad lake and glancing river; finally, in that which is to all human minds the best emblem of unvaried, unconquerable power, the wild, various, fantastic tameless unity of the sea; what shall we compare to this mighty, this universal element, for glory and for beauty? or how shall we follow its external changefulness of feeling 1 It is like trying to paint a soul.
Stand for half an hour beside the fall of Schaffhausen on the north side where the rapids are long, and watch how the vault of water first bends, unbroken, in pure, polished velocity, over the arching rocks at the brow of the cataract, covering them with a dome of crystal twenty feet thick—so swift, that its motion is unseen except when a foam globe from above it, darts over it like a falling star; and how the trees are lighted above it under all their leaves, at the instant that it breaks into foam: and how all the hollows of that foam burn with green fire: and how, ever and anou, startling you with its white flash, a jet of spray leaps hissing out of the fall, like a rocket, bursting in the wind and driven away in dust, filling the air with light: and
how, through the curdling wreaths of the restless, crashing abyss below, the blue of the water, paled by the foam in its body, shows purer than the sky through white rain cloud: while the shuddering iris stoops in tremulous stillness over all, fading and flushing alternately through the choking spray and shattered sunshine, hiding itself at last among the thick golden leaves which toss to and fro in sympathy with the wild water; then dripping masses lifted at intervals, like sheaves of loaded corn, by some stronger gush from the cataract and bowed again upon the mossy rocks as its roar died away: the dew gushing from their thick branches, through drooping clusters of emerald herbage, and sparkling in white threads along the dark rocks of the shore, feeding the lichens which chase and checker them with purple and silver.
Few people, comparatively, have even seen the effect on the sea, of a powerful gale continued without intermission for three or four days and nights; and to those who have not I believe it must be unimaginable, not from the mere force of size or surge, but from the complete annihilation of the limit between sea and air. The water from its prolonged agitation, is beaten, not into mere creaming foam, but into masses of accumulated yeast, which hang in ropes and wreaths from wave to wave, and where one curls over to break, form a festoon like a drapery, from its edge; these are taken up by the wind, not in dissipating dust, but bodily, in writhing, hanging, coiling masses, which make the air white and thick as with snow, only the flakes are a foot or two long each; the surges themselves are full of foam in their very bodies, underneath, making them white all through, as the water is under a great cataract: and their masses being thus half water and half air, are torn to pieces by the wind whenever they rise, and carried away in roaring smoke, which chokes and strangles like actual water. Add to this, that when the air has been exhausted of its moisture by long rain, the spray of the sea is caught by it, and covers its surface, not
merely with the smoke of finely divided water, but with boiling mist; imagine also the low rain clouds brought down to the very level of the sea, as I have often seen them; whirling and flying in rags and fragments from wave to wave: and finally, conceive the surges themselves in their utmost pitch of power, velocity, madness and vastness, lifting themselves in precipices and peaks, furrowed with their whirl of ascent, through all this chaos: and you will understand that there is indeed no distinction left between the sea and the air: that no object nor horizon, nor any landmark or natural evidence of position is left; that the heaven is all spray, and the ocean all cloud, and that you can see no farther in any direction than you can see through a cataract. * * * One lesson we are invariably taught by all natural things, however approached or viewed,— that the work of the great Spirit of nature is as deep and unapproachable in the lowest as in the noblest objects,—that the Divine mind is as visible in its full energy of operation on every lowly bank and mouldering stone, as in the lifting of the pillars of heaven, and settling the foundation of the earth : and that, to the rightly perceiving mind, there is the same infinity, the same majesty, the same power, the same unity, and the same perfection, manifest in the casting of the clay as in the scattering of the cloud, in the mouldering of the dust as in the kindling of the day-star.
To every one of his creatures God appoints a separate mission, and if they discharge it honourably; if they quit themselves like men, and faithfully follow that light that is in them, withdrawing from it all cold and quenching influence, there will assuredly come of it such burning as, in its appointed mode or measure, shall shine before men, and be of service constant and holy. Degrees infinite of lustre there must always be, but the weakest among us has a gift, however seemingly trivial, which is peculiar to him, and which worthily used will be a gift also to his race forever. Buskin.
I Cjjristian $ta.
In a recent work—" Random Shots and Southern Breezes "—is a description of a slave auction at New Orleans, at which the auctioneer recommends the woman on the stand as a good Christian!
Hath, in her suffering, won?
My God! can such things be?
Is even done to Thee?
In that sad victim, then,
Bound, sold and scourged again!
A Christian up for sale!
Her patience shall not fail!
A heatlien hand might deal
Ye neither heed nor feel.
Con well thy lesson o'er,
The outcast poor.