« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the power of contrasting them with the tempests of the Cape, where the electric fluid, bursting from an azure sky foretells the monsoon, so admirably delineated by Camoens, feel an awful sensation while reflecting on the length of ages that was requisite to acquire a knowledge of the watery waste. Nature often speaks with most miraculous organ; and sometimes with force even equal to that of the decalogue. “If I ascend into heaven," says the Hebrew poet, “thou art there; If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand hold me.” Coasting along the rocks of Portugal, the imagination listens to the hymn of " Adeste Fideles ;” along those of Sicily, it rests upon the “O Sanctissima” of the Sicilian mariners; along the shores of the Adriatic, the soul inhales delight from the poems of Petrarch and Tasso; and when gliding along the waters of Palestine, we recall that awful period when “the earth was without form, and void ; and darkness sat upor. the face of the deep." The ocean, a solitude more solemn and awful than that of mountains, forests, or deserts, penetrates the soul with a spirit of devotion. Every agitation produces new beauty or new wonder : the miracles of the firmament are reflected in every wave, in the unceasing Testlessness of which we recognize the ever marching progress of time: and, as the waves gradually accumulate at a distance, seeming to collect their strength in their approach to the shore, and fall on the beach in the form of a semicircular cascade, contemplation seems to have the power of producing ambrosial slumbers; and silently whispering to the imagination that the soul is of etherial origin and of eternal duration, we seem for a moment to be, like Enoch, translated to heaven. The rising and setting of the sun ; the splendor of Orion in a night of Autumn; and the immensity of the Ocean, far beyond the pencil of painters, or the imagery of poets, awaken ideas of power awful and magnificent. Raised above the level of hu. man thought, the soul acknowledges a wild and ter
rible grandeur; while, recognizing in
Sea covering sea :
Chaos seems, as it were, to have yielded to order; and infinity, in one solemn picture, astonishes every faculty of the mind. But
" Who shall tempt, with wandering feet,
In the Ocean we contemplate a Being, capable of measuring all its waters " in the hollow of his hand ;" and who seems to our finite imaginations to have exercised, in forming it, the greatest possible exertion of omnipotence. Philosophy itself acknowledges, in its contemplation, all the fire and enthusiasm of poetry. In man, and in the works of man, we observe no permanent or. der. The laws of Nature on the contrary, forever are the same; operating with equal constancy, whether in the Scythian, the Atlantic, or the Indian ; the Antarctic or Pacific. When the waves swell with storms, the sky darkens with clouds, and rocks reverberate, till echo wearies repeating their sounds; how vast is the conception of a power alone capable of commanding obe. dience to his mandate :
THE VALE OF TEMPE. If towering and impending rocks, abrupt and gigantic mountains, and above all, the ocean, elevate the mind and exalt it above mortality, the woody dingle, the deep
and romantic glen, the rocky valley, and the wide, the rich, the fascinating vale, associating ideas of rural comfort and of peaceful enjoyment, cheerful industry, robust health, and tranquil happiness, draw us from subjects too high for human thought, chaia us to the earth, and enchant us with magic spells. No country abounds more in those characters in which Nature delights to speak to the imagination, than Greece. Her mountains were not more the theme of her poets than her vales and her valleys. In that fine country, no vale was more celebrated than that of Tempe: a vale in which the peasants frequently assembled, in order to give entertainments to each other, and to offer sacrifices. A Greek writer calls it " a festival for the eyes," and the gods were believed frequently to wander in it. Of this enchanting spot, Pliny has given a description in the fourth book of his Natural History; but Ælian has left the most copious and accurate account of it. “ Tempe," says he, “is situated between the moun. tains of Ossa and Pelion, which are the highest mountains in Thessaly; and are divided in this place with a singular kind of attention. They enclose a valley of five miles in length, but which in breadth often does not exceed a hundred feet. In the middle flows the river Peneus, which, at first, is little more than a cataract; but, by the addition of many smaller streams, it at length assumes considerable magnitude. Among the rich shrubs upon its banks, are various beautiful wind. ings and recesses; not the works of human hands, but of spontaneous nature, which seems to have formed every thing in this spot with the solicitude of a mother. A profusion of ivy is seen in all parts of the woods, which, with the vine, ascend the tops of the highest trees, cling round their branches, and fall luxuriantly between them. The different species of convolvulus, which grow upon the sides of the hills, throw their white flowers and creeping foliage over the rocks; while in the vale,' or wherever they can find a level surface, groves of all kinds, in venerable archies or ca. pricious forms, afford a cool and refreshing retreat. Nor are there wanting frequent falls of water, with the most pure and crystal springs, sweet to drink, and wholesome to the bather. The thrush, the wood lark, and the nightingale, procreate in the thickets, and with their songs shorten the way, and soothe the ears of the travel. ler; who finds, in every path, arbors and grottos, and seats of repose. The Peneus still continues through the vale, idly, as it were, and with a glassy smoothness; while the depending boughs which crowd over its sur. face, yield an almost constant shade to those who navi. gate the river.” In the vale of Tempe, Ford has laid the scene of a contest between a nightingale and a lu. tanist ; finely imitated from a passage in Strada's Prolusions.
« Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales,
This contest was begun by a nightingale, who, chancing to hear a lutanist play several airs upon his lute, endeavored to surpass them. In this attempt, however, the unfortunate bird failed: on which"
Down dropt she on the lute,
ON TIME. MOV'D by a strange mysterious power, That hastes along the rapid hour,
I touch the deep ton'd string. E'en now I see his wither'd face, Beneath yon lower's mouldering base,
Where mossy vestments cling.
Dark roll'd his cheerless eye around,
No locks his head array'd,
And sunk amidst the shade.
Malignaut triumph fill'd his eyes,
“How vain your idle schemes. Beneath my grasp, the fairest form, Dissolves and mingles with the worm,
Thus vanish morial dreams.
The works of God! and man I spoil,
I treat as childish toys.
I bury human joys."
Hold! ruthless phantom-hold! I cried, If thou canst mock the dreams of pride,
And meaner hopes devour, Virtue! beyond thy reach shall bloom, When other charms sink to the tomb,
She scorns thy envious power.