Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

making a railroad, on the other hand, is well-directed industry. The interest and pleasure of construction are as great in this case as in the other; and the railroad, at last, is a vast public convenience every day of its existence. There is the same difference in smaller enter, prises, and even in the plays of children. Sometimes children waste their time upon projects which they have not the power to accomplish, and sometimes upon those which will do them no good, and give them no pleasure if they succeed in accomplishing them.

A great deal of the industry of men, as well as that of boys, is wasted in ill-directed efforts. Sometimes, for want of proper care and deliberation in forming the plan, the whole enterprise fails. Sometimes they attempt to do what is impossible; and, sometimes, after a long period of toil and anxiety, and heavy expenditure, they accomplish their object: but they find that it entirely disappoints their expectations and hopes, when it is obtained. In all our undertakings, therefore, whether in the plays of childhood or in the serious pursuits of middle life, we ought to consider the practicability and the wisdom of what we undertake, before we begin to expend our energies upon it; and thus our industry will be wisely directed. If it is steady and persevering besides, the results which it will secure for us will be of great value.—J. Abbott.

LESSON XLI.—COLUMBOS's FIRST SIGHT OF THE NEW WORLD.

About two hours before midnight, Columbus, standing on the forecastle, observed a light at a distance, and privately pointed it out to Pedro Guttierez, a page of the queen's wardrobe. Guttierez perceived it, and calling to Salcedo, comptroller of the fleet, all three saw it in motion, as if it were carried from place to place. A little after midnight the joyful sound of "Land! Land!" was heard from the Pinta, which kept always a-head of the other ships; but having been so often deceived by fallacious appearances, every man was now become slow of belief, and waited in all the anguish of uncertainty and impatience for the return of day. As soon as morning dawned, all doubts and fears were dispelled. From every ship an island was seen about two leagues to the north, whose flat and verdant fields, well stored with wood, and watered with many rivulets, presented the aspect of a delightful country. The crew of the Pinta instantly began the Te Deum, as a hymn of thanksgiving to God, and were joined by those of the other ships, with tears of joy and transports of congratulation. This office of gratitude to heaven was followed by an act of justice to their commander. They threw themselves at the feet of Columbus, with feelings of self-condemnation mingled with reverence; they implored him to pardon their ignorance, incredulity and insolence, which had created him so much unnecessary disquiet, and had so often obstructed the prosecution of his well-concerted plan; and passing, in the warmth of their admiration, from one extreme to another, they now pronounced the man, whom they had so lately reviled and threatened, to be a person inspired by heaven with sagacity and fortitude more than human, in order to accomplish a design so far beyond the ideas and conception of all former ages.— Robertson.

LESSON XLII. THE GIRAFFE.

These gigantic and exquisitely beautiful animals are widely distributed throughout the interior of Southern Africa, but are nowhere to be met with in great numbers. In countries unmolested by the intrusive foot of man, the giraffe is found generally in herds, varying from twelve to sixteen; but I have not unfrequently met with herds containing thirty individuals, and on one occasion I counted forty together; this, however, was owing to chance, and about sixteen may be reckoned as the average number of a herd. These herds are composed of giraffes of various sizes,—from the young giraffe of nine or ten feet in height, to the dark chesnut-coloured old bull, whose exalted head towers above his companions, generally attaining a height of upwards of eighteen feet. The females are of lower stature, and more delicately formed, than the males, their height averaging from sixteen to seventeen feet. Some writers have discovered ugliness and want of grace in the giraffe, but I consider him one of the most strikingly beautiful animals in the creation; and when a herd is scattered through a grove of the picturesque parasol-topped acacias which silver their native plains, and on whose uppermost shoots they are enabled to browse, by the colossal height with which nature has endowed them, he must indeed be slow of conception who fails to discover both grace and dignity in all their movements.

Every animal is seen to the greatest advantage in the haunts which nature destined him to adorn; and amongst the various living creatures which beautify this fair creation, I have often traced a remarkable resemblance between the animal and the general appearance of the locality in which it is found. This I first remarked at an early age, when entomology occupied a part of my attention. No person following this interesting pursuit can fail to observe the extraordinary likeness which insects bear to the abodes in which they are met with.

H

Thus, among the long green grass, we find a variety of long green insects, whose legs and antennae so resemble the shoots emanating from the stalks of the grass, that it requires a practised eye to distinguish them. Throughout sandy districts, varieties of insects are met with of a colour similar to the sand they inhabit. Among the green leaves of the various trees of the forest innumerable leaf-coloured insects are found; while, adhering to the rough grey bark of these forest trees, we observe beautifully coloured, grey-looking moths, of various patterns, yet altogether so resembling the bark as to be invisible to the passing observer. In like manner among quadrupeds I have traced a corresponding analogy; for, even in the case of the stupendous elephant, the ashy colour of his sides so corresponds with the general ~appearance of the gray thorny jungles which he frequents during the day, that a person unaccustomed to hunting elephants, standing on a commanding situation, might look down upon a herd and fail to detect their presence. And in the case of the giraffe, which is invariably met with among venerable forests, where innumerable blasted and weather-beaten trunks and stems occur, I have repeatedly been in doubt as to the presence of a troop of them, until I had recourse to my spy-glass; and on referring the case to my savage attendants, I have known even their optics to fail,—at one time mistaking these dilapidated trunks for cameleopards, and again confounding real cameleopards with these aged veterans of the forest. —Cumming.

LESSON XLIII. THE BIRDS OF PASSAGE.

Birds, joyous birds of the wandering wing!
Whence is it ye come with the flowers of spring ? —

"We come from the shores of the green old Nile, From the land where the roses of Sharon smile, From the palms that wave through the Indian sky, From the myrrh-trees of glowing Araby.

"We have swept o'er cities in song renowned,—

Silent they lie with the deserts round!

We have crossed proud rivers whose tide hath rolled

All dark with the warrior-blood of old;

And each worn wing hath regained its home

Under peasant's roof-tree or monarch's dome."

And what have ye found in the monarch's dome,
Since last ye traversed the blue sea's foam?
"We have found a change, we have found a pall,
And a gloom o'ershadowing the banquet-hall;
And a mark on the floor as of life-drops spilt;—
Nought looks the same, save the nest we built!"

Oh! joyous birds, it hath still been so;
Through the halls of kings doth the tempest go,
But the huts of the hamlet lie still and deep,
And the hills o'er their quiet a vigil keep:
Say what have ye found in the peasant's cot,
Since last ye parted from that sweet spot ?—

"A change we b ave found there,—and many a change!
Faces, and footsteps, and all things strange!
Gone are the heads of the silvery hair ,
And the young that were have a brow of care,
And the place is hushed where the children played—
Nought looks the same, save the nest we made!"

« ElőzőTovább »