Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

And if God so bless the fountain, will He not also bless you, my friends, if, 'as ye have freely received, ye also freely give?'"—M. M. Gordon.

LESSON LXXVI.— NAPLES.

Naples is situated on a bay which has the reputation of being the most magnificent sheet of water in the world. It is bordered on every side by romantic cliffs and headlands, or by green and beautiful slopes of land, which are adorned with vineyards and groves of orange and lemon trees, and dotted with white villas; while all along the shore, close to the margin of the water, there extends an almost uninterrupted line of cities and towns round the whole circumference of the bay. The greatest of these cities is Naples. But the crowning glory of the scene is the great volcano, Vesuvius, which rises, a vast green cone from the midst of the plain, and emits from its summit a constant stream of smoke. In times of eruption, this smoke becomes very dense and voluminous, and alternates, from time to time, with bursts of what stems to be flame, and with explosive ejections of red-hot stones or molten lava. Besides the cities and towns that are now to be seen along the shore at the foot of the slopes of the mountain, there are many others, buried deep in the ground, having been overwhelmed by currents of lava from the volcano, or by showers of ashes and stones, in eruptions which took place ages ago.

Of course there is every probability that there will be more eruptions in time to come, and that many of the present towns will also be overwhelmed and destroyed, as their predecessors have been. But these eruptions occur usually at such distant intervals from each other, that the people think it is not probable that the town in ■which they live will be destroyed in their day; and so they are quiet. Of course, however, whenever they hear a rumbling in the mountain behind them, or notice any other sign of an approaching convulsion, they naturally feel somewhat nervous until the danger passes by.

Naples is built on the northern shore of the bay. Vesuvius stands a little back from the sea, but the slope of land extends quite down to the margin of the water. There is a carriage road, and also a railroad passing along the coast between the mountain and the sea.

To the south-west of Vesuvius are the ruins of Herculaneum, and to the south-east those of Pompeii; two cities buried during a great eruption which occurred nearly eighteen centuries ago—A.d. 79. Herculaneum was buried in lava, and the lava when it cooled became as hard as a stone; whereas Pompeii was only covered with ashes and cinders, which are very easily dug away. Besides, Herculaneum was buried very deep, so that in order to get to it you have to go far down under ground. The fact that there was an ancient city buried there was discovered, a hundred and fifty years ago, by a man digging a well in the ground above. In digging this well, the workmen came upon some statues and other remains of ancient art. They dug these things out, and afterwards the excavations were continued for many years; but the difficulties were so great, on account of the depth below the surface of the ground at which the work was to be done, and also on account of the hardness of the lava, that after a while it was abandoned. People now go down sometimes through a shaft made near the well by which the first discovery was made, and ramble about by the light of torches, which they carry with them, among the rubbish in the subterranean chambers.

The site of Pompeii was discovered in the same way with Herculaneum—namely, by the digging of a well. Pompeii, however, as has been already said, was not buried nearly so deep as Herculaneum, and the substances which covered it were found to be much softer and more easily removed. Consequently, a great deal more has been done at Pompeii than at Herculaneum in making excavations. Nearly a third of the whole city has now been explored, and the work is still going on.

The chief inducement for continuing to dig out these old ruins, is to recover the various pictures, sculptures) utensils, and other curious objects that are found in the houses. These things, as fast as they are found, are brought to Naples, and deposited in an immense museum which has been built there to receive them.—Jacob Abbott.

LESSON LXXVII. DISSEMINATION OF SEEDS.

It is little suspected by many how largely small seedeating animals, and especially birds, contribute to the clothing of the earth with its varied vegetable riches. Peculiar provision is made in many cases for the dissemination of seeds, in their own structure, of which the pappus of the dandelion, and the adhesive hooks of the burdock, are examples; but this is largely effected also in the stomachs of birds, the seed being often discharged not only uninjured, but made more ready to germinate by the heat and maceration to which it has been subjected. "From trivial causes spring mighty effects," and the • motto has been illustrated by a close observer from this same subject. Doubtless, many of our most richly wooded landscapes owe much of their timber to the agency of quadrupeds and birds. Linnets, goldfinches, thrushes, goldcrests, &c., feed on the seeds of elms, firs, and ashes, and carry them away to hedge-rows, where, fostered and protected by bush and bramble, they spring up and become luxuriant trees. Many noble oaks have been planted by the squirrel, who unconsciously yields no inconsiderable boon to the domain he infests. Towards autumn this provident little animal mounts the branches of oak trees, strips off the acorns, and buries them in the earth, as a supply of food against the severities of winter. He is most probably not gifted with a memory of sufficient retention to enable him to find all that he secretes, which are thus left in the ground, and springing up the following year, finally grow into magnificent trees. Pheasants devour numbers of acorns in the autumn, some of which, having passed through the stomach, probably germinate. The nuthatch, in an indirect manner, also frequently becomes a planter. Having twisted off their boughs a cluster of beech-nuts, this curious bird resorts to some favourite tree, whose bole is uneven, and endeavours by a series of manoeuvres, to peg it into one of the crevices of the bark. During the operation it oftentimes falls to the ground, and is caused to germinate by the moisture of winter. Many small beeches are found growing near the haunts of the nuthatch, which have evidently been planted in the manner described.—P. H. Oosse. From "The Romance of Natural History."

LESSON LXXVIII. TO A BEE.

Thou wert out betimes, thou busy busy bee!

When abroad I took my early way, Before the cow from her resting-place Had risen up, and left her trace

On the meadow with dew so grey, I saw thee, thou busy busy bee !.

Thou wert alive, thou busy busy bee!

When the crowd in their sleep were dead. Thou wert abroad in the freshest hour, When the sweetest odour comes from the flower.

Man will not learn to leave his bed, And be wise and copy thee, thou busy busy bee!

Thou wert working late, thou busy busy bee!

After the fall of the cistus flower; When the evening primrose was ready to burst, I heard thee last as I saw thee first;

In the silence of the evening hour I heard thee, thou busy busy bee!

Thou art a miser, thou busy busy bee!

Late and early at thy employ;
Still on thy golden store intent
Thy summer in heaping and hoarding is spent

What thy winter will never enjoy;
Wise lesson this for me, thou busy busy bee 1

Little dost thou think, thou busy busy bee!

What is the end of thy toil;
When the latest flowers of the ivy are gone,
And all thy work for the year is done,

Thy master comes for the spoil;
Woe then for thee, thou busy busy bee !—Southey.

« ElőzőTovább »