Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

I have already had occasion to remark upon the action of vertical currents, and have expressed my entire conviction of their existence and constant agency. In my opinion the arguments adduced are of sufficient weight to entitle the hypothesis to full confidence. And I now say, that not only do I feel the most perfect persuasion of its correctness, but that herein consists the grand source of all the great and important changes which so frequently occur in the state of our atmosphere. Their first movements I hold to be invariably vertical; but before they reach the earth, they take a direction toward the Atlantic, and move with a strength and velocity proportioned to the exciting cause. This cause is the great accumulation and ceaseless influence of heat in the Gulf of Mexico, the Carribean sea, the coasts of North and South America, and the whole group of West India islands. When it has become sufficiently predominant, and has spread over a large portion of sea and the contiguous lands, its influence is strongly felt upon our continent, and extends back to the great western ridges. The air immediately rushes from the higher regions toward the earth, but soon moves off with a mighty force in a direct line to the ocean. When a vacuum, or something like it which the operations of nature in her wise economy may

have

produced -- is supplied, and that equilibrium restored which seems to be required to preserve an equal ascendancy among the elements, the effect immediately ceases with the cause. In every instance, and I think under all circumstances, the accumulation of heat upon the sea-coast, and in the warm latitudes, begets these effects; and that the air should first proceed from those cold regions contiguous to lofty mountains, is a conclusion that seems both reasonable and natural, and in my opinion is sufficiently warranted by every movement and indication within the compass of our observation. It is consonant to all the known operations of nature, and therefore may safely be admitted as correct doctrine.

I deem it not improper here to record a fact to which I was myself a witness, and which confirmed me in my opinion of this theory. On my passage over the mountains, which was in the month of November, my attention was suddenly arrested, when at the foot of the North or Cove Mountain, about seventeen miles from Chambersburg, by a furious rush of the wind. I was led to take notice of it from its singular operation. The limbs of the trees were pressed suddenly and strongly toward the ground, and some were made almost to touch it. I could not discredit my own senses; and therefore never doubted that it was a powerful current from the higher regions.

If then my arguments are admitted to be reasonable, and my deductions fair, we cannot be at a loss to account for the phenomena of frequent tempests, and fierce and piercing winds. In every point of view, it would appear to be a wise provision, that the first movements of currents of air should be vertical. The beneficence of nature is here made very apparent ; for these currents proceed from a perfectly pure source; are consequently in the highest degree salubrious ; they spread over a less extent of surface, and in their course therefore occasion less mischief.

This subject may be farther illustrated, by a reference to the influ

ence of heat during the warm season. For some time before the summer solstice, and for a considerable period afterward, a west or north-west wind is a rare occurrence, except during the operation and immediately after a thunder-storm. For this, an obvious and satisfactory reason presents itself. Our continent at this season is subject to as high a degree of heat as prevails in the West India seas and islands; there exists consequently no exciting cause for the movements of those strong winds, which frequently rush with such force toward the ocean. On the contrary, it would appear that an exciting cause of sufficient strength does really exist, for producing a brisk current from a directly opposite course. The south wind becomes the prevailing one ; and this effect necessarily results from the greater accumulation of heat on the continent than on the ocean. It generally continues, as we well know, during most of the hot season; but it may be remarked, that it almost always lulls as the sun declines. It would therefore seem,

that the instant the strength of the heat is diminished, the exciting cause fails, and the current ceases. So that whether the heat predominates in a northern or more southern latitude, the real effect is the same, varying only according to the degree and duration of the excitement. These facts, in my opinion, come strongly in aid of my hypothesis, and show incontestably the resistless energy of the great ruling power in our system.

That these operations are the effect of a universal law, may be easily believed, if we are to believe the agency of heat is supreme, and that it is every where the exciting cause of action in all the other elements. That it is the sole and prime instrument of every change and movement among them, and the spring of all action through every channel and ramification of nature, I presume no one will undertake to controvert.

[blocks in formation]

L I NES

ON A ERIN'S CREW WHO BORE THE NAMES OF ELEVEN EMINENT DIVINES.

In life's unsettled, sad career,
What changes every day appear,

To please or plague the eye!
Men bearing names of pious priests,
Here in this ship are swearing beasts,

That heaven and hell defy.

Here Bonner, bruised with many a knock,
Has changed the surplice for a frock,

While ERSKINE Swabs the decks;
And WATTS, a name that pleasure took
In writing hymns, is here a cook

Sinners he does not vex.

Here Burnet, TILLOTSON, and Blair,
With Hervey, how they curse and swear,

While CuDWORTH mixes groy!
Pearson the crew to dinner hails,
Agraceless SHERLOCK trims the sails,

And Bunyas heaves the log!

SH ÅKSPEARE'S SEVEN AGES.

INTRODUCTION, SHAKSPEARE is in every body's mouth, not because it is Shakspeare, but because it is nature and truth. How often do his divine counsels find entrance to our minds, by the way, in the ball-room, at the theatre, on 'change, from the pulpit, and in our own homes, coming with strange troublings of spirit; waking in us the soul; making us feel that there is a world of thought, a capacity for enjoyment and suffering, in our own bosoms, as yet unrevealed distinctly to ourselves. If it be true (and who doubts it ?) that that mind which is fastened to the earth, and spent in ministering to a perishable body, is, at some time, to expand and unfold angelic powers — to be independent of time and space a pure spirit; to have to do with God himself, if not face to face, yet nearly and sensibly — then these master geniuses, themselves in chains, though freer than the rest, exciting in us, by their charmed words, strong emotion, vague aspiration, and intense desire, for something higher and purer than earth affords, are engaged in as true a work, as be who subserves our commonest necessity: and we have no more right to question the reality and naturalness of the sentiments we feel, and to call them mere vagaries of the imagination, than we have to doubt the sincerity of those tears that fall upon the grave of a bosom friend.

It is the gift of some men to have a singular power over the human mind. And it is a fact, that this power does not depend upon moral worth, nor philosophical acuteness; it does not depend upon the acquisitions of learning, nor the subtlety of science. It is a different power from the revolutionizing acumen of a Bacon; it is not just

sentiment, and taste, and feeling, never so refined, such as prompted the writings of Alison, and Goldsmith, and Burns. It is, in a manner, born to a man. It is the influence Shakspeare exerts, more and more, as the world grows wiser, and comes to see more clearly what he means. Byron once possessed this power for a season, but that age has passed. Wordsworth and Carlyle have small German principalities under their sway. Scott, after all that has been said, never ruled in those high courts of the intellect, where men never appear in boots ; in short, he lacks spirituality and refinement. None but the bard of Avon ever bore wide and extended rule. The reason of this is not so much on account of the newness and beauty of his precepts and conclusions, (“queer terms in which to talk of Shakspeare,' says the reader; 'one would think the writer was criticizing a sermon;') as because they are adapted to our wants, and seem to be the echo of our own experience. Shakspeare is the universal mirror in which any man can see himself. There he may find the riddle of his own life unravelled; there too, for the first time, he is aware of his own motives; and after living somewhat, and being ready to exclaim, • Life seems to me to be a great farce,' he turns to Shakspeare, and finds written :

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players.' Whatever the subject, Shakspeare has anticipated all that can be said. If we can quote him aptly, we consider the argument our own. Whether in a sermon or at a supper, by our fireside or in the halls of debate, to weave in Shakspeare, is to gain applause. In a few words he says more than other men say in large volumes ; and his wisdom seems more like inspiration than the result of thought. He is a sound jurist, a profound statesman, abounding in wit, of superior taste in dress, behavior, and cookery; and he is all this, without wearing a wig, or living at court; without being a dandy, a flatterer, or a glutton.

In the twenty-eight lines put into the mouth of the 'melancholy Jaques,' the two first of which we have just quoted, it seems that a little book was intended to be written. It has preface, chapter and

The hero, man, is introduced, according to the best models, in his nurse's arms, and made to describe a complete circle above ground, even to 'second childishness :' whereas some writers are content to give us a mere arc of a man. But nothing can be more perfect in its kind than our subject; and we look in vain, in the whole range of the plays, for a speaker better worthy than the quaint Jaques to be the utterer of so great a work. Without appearing to be aware that he is saying “immortal words, without any apparent effort at condensation, governed by the perfect balancing of expression to thought, he is touched to produce fine issues, and says what will always be read, if for no other reason, because it is a whole, and a short and true one.

This character, who met a fool i' the forest,' from whom he ex: tracted so much wisdom, seems himself to be a kind of higher fool,' if we judge from the sageness of his remarks, and the privilege of his tongue. He appears to be the favorite of his author, and has the

verse.

honor of speaking his own sentiments, and of being the organ of his complaints against an unjust world. He is represented as loving

to lay along Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out Upon the brook that brawls along the wood,'

in such mood as we may easily imagine he himself loved to lie, when forming into being his own deep-toned inspirings. The more fitly to bring him into sympathy with himself, he removes him from the din of courts, and places him in the forest of Arden. There he allows him all freedom of thought and observation, and, in ' motley wear,' to pour out those serio-comic sayings, which are the sincerest sayings a man ever utters : for his solemn and set words are the offspring of place and circumstance ; his lighter sallies the mere ebullition of a fleeting feeling ; while, always longing to be himself, when he does indulge in such an imprudence, he thinks to shield his hearty frankness by a jocose manner and a high-key'd laugh.

Shakspeare's love for fools,' the deep philosophy of his fools,' is explained by Jaques, when he says,

"Give me leave
To speak my mind, and I will through and through
Cleanse the foul body of the infected world,

If they will patiently receive my medicine;' for in the fool he could consistently give vent to those bitter taunts and those private opinions that his regard for his art forbade him to put into the lips of any pretendedly rational person — those very prudent people, who are known at this day, who, before they speak, must see how and when their words will fall, whom offend, how affect party, how touch interest. The world Shakspeare painted was our world. Mankind are ever the same, Persons of place and consequence could no more say what they thought then, than they can now. We do not sympathize with their restraints, and wonder they are not more bold with their opportunities — are half vexed with them for their prudence; but the master genius was true to nature, and only gives us his true opinions, his real feelings, by the mouth of fools.'

If it would not be considered irreverent, we would say, that this notion furnishes some illustration of the apostle's meaning, where he says: 'If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise,' i. e., let him become disregardful of the usual motives that cramp other men, that his sense may have full play. And again ; 'God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Now we contend that Shakspeare and the apostle had one and the same idea

upon

this subject. Indeed it would not be difficult to show that Shakspeare was a diligent student of the Bible, and, in the then scarcity of books, did not neglect so rich a fund of thought and expression as the sacred pages.

It may be said that the plays are full of satire upon the abuses of the world, and that the author does every where speak openly and boldly. It is not so; it would not be natural to be so. Shakspeare's plays are not satires, but bona fide pictures of events and scenes. Herein consist their beauty and popularity. When the disappointed

« ПредишнаНапред »