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long range of rocks, harmonized with aerial tints ; and seeming to flow out of a secret valley, for the purpose of mingling its waters with the deep azure of one of the loveliest lakes beneath the canopy of heaven. To the south, over the mountains of Savoy, Mont Blanc is seen lifting its white head like a speck amid the clouds : below, are the towns of St. Gingoulph, and the rocks and buildings of Meillerie. The lake then stretches towards the neighbourhood of Geneva ; and a distant glimmering of the water denotes the spot where the Rhone, through an opening of the Jura range, flows into France. If at the North Cape we behold, as it were, the birth-place of Scandinavian genius, the neighbourhood of Lausanne may be recognised as the residence of true poetical enthusiasm. "
Hark! with what ecstatic fire
On every rock the echo rung,
On scenes so fair, on notes so wild.
Deserts, from their expansion, sterility, privations, and unbroken silence, are terrific and sublime to the last degree. The deserts of America are said to have a character, producing a melancholy, which no language can adequately express. Those of Asia and Africa afflict the mind with still more powerful emotions. A stillness, like that of the grave, pervades the whole scene, from the northern horizon to the southern. A sea of sand stretches from the east to the west:
not a tree, nor a blade of grass, relieves the eye: amplitude of space gives an amplitude to the mind; and a sublimity is imparted to the imagination, which promises a surety of immortality to the soul.
With deserts we associate the camel and the ostrich : The former exhibiting a curious instance of the use of animals to the human race; the latter, leading with its mate a secure, innocent, and social life a: and so far from leaving her eggs or her young, as many have supposed, to the mercy of the elements, she pays them an earnest and a strict, but, from the nature of the climate in which she lives, a divided attention. Her mate and herself watch them alternately.
With deserts are also associated serpents; and as the traveller wanders over the wastes, he may amuse his imagination with recalling the powerful scene in the tragedy of Æschylus, where Orestes is described as being stained with blood and supplicating protection ; while women, whose hair consists of serpents, lie sleeping around him. Then he may rest on the Laocoon of the Vatican ; Virgil's simile of a combat between a serpent and an eagle; Satan's return to the infernal regions o; or the illustration of a converted African. “ The serpent, by pressing against two bushes, shifts himself every year of his skin. When we see this skin, we do not say, the serpent is dead ;-no! the serpent lives ; and has only cast his skin. This skin we may compare to our body; the serpent itself to the soul.”
Many of these deserts, like the vale in Persia, called the Valley of the Angel of Death, are lands that “no man passes : through, and where no man dwells d.” Wastes of glowing sand,—they bear for their character the deep and majestic stillness of the wilderness ; with no habitation ; no motion ; not a trace of animal or vegetable existence; and where
a Parsons' Trav. in Asia and Africa, 146, 4to. b The Furies.
C Paradise Lost, b. x. d Jerem. xi. v. 6.
Nature seems herself to be dead! This is, nevertheless, the paradise of a wayward poet:
Oh! that the desert were my dwelling place,
With one sweet spirit for my minister;
And hating no one, love but only her a. In deserts we have true personifications of silence. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, paid divine honours to silence. Nature is never more awful than in its exemplification : whether in a convent; in a cathedral; in a retired glen ; in a forest ; or in a starless night. In woman it is affecting ; in man dignified.
The inhabitants of deserts have, for the most part, been always, as much separated from the pleasures, as from the habits of civilized life. The Mauritanians and Gætulians b knew little or nothing of husbandry: they roved after the manner of the Scythians ; sleeping on their garments ; and using poisoned arrows for the purposes of guarding themselves from the wild beasts, that infested them on all sides. Like the Nigritiæ, living near the Niger, they carried bottles of water under the bellies of their horses.
The deserts of Zara were once peopled with a nation, who had all things in common. They are mentioned by Lucan, Pliny d, and Silius Italicus. The picture, sketched of the ancient inhabitants of the country beyond the Numidian deserts, exhibits, also, a contrast to the intervening regions, highly agreeable to the imagination; since Leo Africanus assures us, that they lived in a partial state of equality, hunting wild animals ; tending their flocks and herds; and preserving the honey of bees : the natural fertility of their soil enabling them to live without toil, ambition, or any other violent passion. They never went to war; and never travelled out of their own country.
a Childe Harold, canto iv. st. xxvi. o Lucan. Phars. lib. iv. c Phars. iv. v. 334. dLib. v. c. 8. € Lib. i. v. 142; ii. v. 181.
The inhabitants of the Arabian deserts are descendants of Ismael, the son of Abraham and Hagar; of whom Moses relates, that the God of the Jews declared, before his birth, that “ he should be a wild man; that his hand should be against every man, and that every man's hand should be against him a.” Ismael became an archerb, and dwelt in the wilderness, where his descendants remain even to this day; living in clans or tribes. As Ismael was an archer, so were his descendants, in the age of Isaiaho; and, till the time when fire-arms were introduced, they were the most skilful archers in the world. From age to age have these Ismaelites been in perpetual hostility with the surrounding nations; and yet they occupy the same wilderness still. They retain the same manners, habits, and customs. Savage in character, they are social only to those of their own tribe. Intractable, they wander from spring to spring ; subsisting chiefly on their herds of cattle and camels ; and living in tents covered with skins. Like the Jews, they refer to twelve original tribes ; they practise circumcision ; marry only among themselves ; and retain with equal pertinacity their peculiar manners and prejudices. In one remarkable circumstance, however, they differ : the Jews still adhere to the dispensations of Moses ; the Ismaelites have adopted those of Mahomet :-and while all the countries, which surround them, have been subject to storms and revolutions beyond those of any other quarter of the globe, and while the Jews are scattered through all the nations of the earth, they have subsisted through every species of vicissitude. And though Sesostris, the Persians, Alexander, Pompey, Gallus, Trajan, and Severus, raised large armies, and in part executed designs of extirpation against them, yet, were they never able to do them any very serious injury. They rode without bridles or saddles d ; and in the hottest of
a Gen. xvi. v. 12. Gen, xxii. v. 20. c Isaiah, xx, v. 17.
Two passages in Livy seem to contradict this : lib. xxi. c. 44. 46 ; also Sallust, in Jugurtho.
VOL. II. .
engagements managed their horses only with their whips a ; charging their enemies generally in the night b. They were a healthy, long-lived people; they clad themselves in loose garments ; had a plurality of wives ; and seldom indulged in meat; living chiefly on herbs, roots, milk, cheese, and honey.
If the Numidians were superior to the Nigritiæ, Getulians, and Mauritanians, the inhabitants of the deserts of Petra seem as much to have surpassed the Numidians. When Demetrius a, by order of his father, Antigonus, sate down before Petra with an army, and began an attack upon it, an Arab accosted him after the following manner :-“ King Demetrius : what is it you would have? What madness can have induced you to invade a people, inhabiting a wilderness, where neither corn, nor wine, nor any other thing, you can subsist upon, are to be found? We inhabit these desolate plains for the sake of liberty; and submit to such inconveniences, as no other people can bear, in order to enjoy it. You can never force us to change our sentiments, nor way of life; therefore, we desire you to retire out of our country, as we have never injured you; to accept some presents from us ; and to prevail with your father to rank us among his friends." Upon hearing this, Demetrius accepted their presents, and raised the siege.
In the great deşert of Sahara, so extensive and so waste is the prospect, that Adams travelled with the Moors nine-and-twenty days, without seeing a single plant;—not even a blade of grass ! and Sidi Hamet reported to Riley, that he journeyed over the same desert twenty-eight days, in another direction, with the same aspeet of sterility. During ten days of this journey, the ground was as hard, as the floor of a house. He was on his way to Timbuctoo, in a caravan, consisting of eight hundred men, and three thousand camels.
a Oppiąn de Venat., lib. iv. Herodian, lib. vii. 1 Vide Nic. Damascene, in Excerpt. Vales., p. 518. Le Appian, in Lybic., c. vi. 39. 64.
d Plut. in Vit. Demet.