« FöregåendeFortsätt »
beautiful. When one comes nearer and sees all the mountain, it seems only a dim, shadowy outline~a mere ghost of a mountain-all smooth, and of no proper colour. But as you come nearer, the outline becomes rougher, and you distinguish ravines, chasms, and cliffs.
Then colours begin to appear, such as of rocks, naked soil, soil of another hue, which may be cultivation; dark spots, which may be thickets or deep hollows which the sun cannot enteryou don't know which; and near the base there are a number of small white specks clustered together, which may be tomb-stones or flocks of sheep. On approaching still nearer, the tombstones seem to be hamlets, and at last prove to be towns; and the dark spots, clumps of bushes, and at last woods of large trees; the shades of cultivation are distinguished; and men with flocks of sheep and herds of cattle are seen moving about near the base. When I first saw Ararat it was winter, and the mountain, from base to summit, and all the country around, was covered with thick snow. It was a most magnificent object, which I had before me several days before I could reach it. It seemed so near, that I wondered why we were so long in coming to it; and I
remember one time, when I was riding along with the mountain on my right hand, it seemed to me as if I could in half an hour gallop over the plain which lay between it and me. But, looking steadily in that direction, I saw some spots, which appeared dark in comparison with the snow upon the top of a rising ground near the base of the mountain. This my experience taught me must be a town; and, as it was so indistinct, I knew I must be much farther from the mountain than I imagined. On inquiry I found that it would take me nearly five hours to get to the town, and a day to reach the mountain. Do you all understand this ?
A pause followed this question; then Henry said — I think, Sir, that I do understand it; but should like to understand it better-I should like to be sure that I understand it.'
Frank. And I, too!
U.O. I dare say Mr. Dillon can explain it to you best. Will you make it plain to them, Mr. Dillon?
Mr. Dillon. I will try, Sir. To measure distances by the eye is an art which we get by experience. Your mother told me, that when you were an infant, Henry, you often cried to have the moon to play with; but you, Francis, had a stronger passion for the gilt vane upon the steeple, and often held out your hands to reach it. So I have heard of persons born blind, or who became blind before they had learned to estimate distances. When these persons were in more advanced life restored to their sight, they always supposed at first that everything they saw was close to their eyes, and often held out their hands to take hold of very distant objects. I read to you, a few months since, the life of Caspar Hauser, who had from infancy been shut up in a dark dungeon, and you recollect that he made very similar mistakes. But in time we learn that any object at a distance seems smaller than when at hand; and the more distant it is the smaller it seems. Hence, as we know the proper size of most common objects, when we see them at a distance we judge how far they are off by seeing how much smaller they appear than we know they must be. For example, when I see a horse grazing in a distant field, I of course suppose that the animal is of the common size, and I form some notion of its distance by seeing how much smaller it seems than it probably is. You understand this much?
H. Yes; but then, Sir, why cannot I judge how distant a mountain is in the same manner ?
Mr. D. I think, if you consider a little how we can judge of distances in the way I have told you, you will find how we cannot so well judge of the distance of mountains as of most other objects. · H. (After a pause.) I suppose that, as there is no fixed size for a mountain, a person who sees Ararat for the first time cannot tell how much smaller it seems than it ought to be; and so when he sees it so large, he fancies that he sees it of the proper size, and that it is not far off.
Mr. D. Exactly so; but persons accustomed to mountains, like Mr. Oldcastle, can estimate the distance, not so much by the apparent size, as by their knowledge of the appearances which mountains commonly take at certain distances, or by the appearance and size of common objects which lie between him and the mountain, and which they know to be towns, villages, trees, and such things.
U. O. Thank you, Mr. Dillon, for your ex